Music Monday 1: Carnation revolution

It is today the anniversary of the Portuguese carnation revolution.

Maurice Brinton:

Like all radical endeavours in history the upsurge was a joyful affair, at least to start with. An immensely popular song, after April 25th, was entitled Gaibota (the seagull). Poster wit, although perhaps never achieving the insights of May 1968 in France, nevertheless developed into a telling instrument of social critique. The anarchists ensured that it was used as often against the ‘left’ as against more obvious targets. With the joy went a very Portuguese toughness.

The Fado persisted,not as an embodiement of despair and resignation (as claimed by the superficial sociologists ) but as a down-to-earth and uncompromising statement of the life of the poor. I recall a letter Phil once wrote me. He was entering the Alentejo : “The tiny hills begin to roll across the flat countryside. Crouched eucalyptus trees hide in the barren dales. Here is a land of tradition, of rich struggles against elements and of wine, olives and music, of landowners alike, a land of everyday survival, difficult to penetrate except by those who care for it. It is as if the stunted growth of the trees said all that needed to be said about hardship, abandonment, work – about the constant fight against a poor and unyielding soil on which lived giant women and monstrous men. But however ungrateful the land, the spirit was never crippled…”.

Although not songs of revolt the fados testify to this indestructibility of the oppressed, to this deep unity of man and nature. Romany roots endow some songs with a fierce pride, with a scorn for what ‘the bourgeois’ will think or say, enabling them boldly to deal with such themes as women’s right to sexual pleasure. No sentimentality, no soothing syrup. Love may mean pain, but is worth it. No neurotic trendiness. Just things as they are.Is not this the raw material of which revolution will be made?

Here is A gaviota, also known as Somos livres, We are free.

Published in: on April 25, 2011 at 7:27 am  Comments (3)  
Tags: , ,

Farewell Marina Ginestà

With thanks to Rob Palk.

From the RHP blog:

Marina Ginestà of the Juventudes Comunistas, aged 17, overlooking Barcelona during the Spanish Civil War.

Marina Ginestà, aged 17, overlooking Barcelona from Hotel Colón. She worked as a translator for a Soviet journalist of Pravda during the Spanish Civil War. She was a member of Juventudes Socialistas Unificadas (Socialist Youth), the youth organization mainly directed by Partido Comunista de España (PCE, Communist Party of Spain). Despite her initial involvement she quickly grew disillusioned with the path that the Stalinists were taking. Marina remained a militant throughout the rest of the war and was drawn to other groups at that time such as the anti-Stalinist P.O.U.M (which George Orwell was a member of) and the Anarchist C.N.T. This photographs was taken by Juan Guzman (who was born Hans Gutmann in Germany before going to Spain where he photographed the International Brigades). Date of the photo: July 21, 1936.

Marina did not know about the photo until 2006, although the iconic image was printed and circulated everywhere, serving as cover for the book “Thirteen Red Roses’ by Carlos Fonseca, and was also along with dozens of other photographs in the book “Unpublished images of the Civil War” (2002) with introduction by G. Stanley Payne.

She was identified by Garcia Bilbao who read the memoirs of Soviet correspondent of Pravda Mikhail Koltsov, with whom the young girl appears in another photo. Garcia Bilbao found that Jinesta Marina, with J, which was identified by Guzman in the caption was actually Marina Ginesta, an exile who lived in Paris translating French texts.

Marina Ginesta, the iconic girl of the Spanish Civil War, died January 6, 2014 in Paris, aged 94.

The rifle she is carrying is M1916 Spanish Mauser. It was manufactured at famous Oviedo factory in Spain for the Spanish Army.

Marina Ginesta, 2008Marina Ginesta, 2008

Colored Version

Here is a little more, from Publico, badly translated by me: (more…)

2013 at Poumista

The posts with most traffic in the year, with those published this year in bold

  1. Ralph Miliband: democrat and anti-fascist
  2. On this day, 1945: Eileen O’Shaughnessy died
  3. Photography: Sergio Larrain/Lewis Hine
  4. Blog recommendations, for homeless leftists
  5. Orwell turning in his grave?
  6. Jews versus Stalinists in the Spanish Civil War
  7. Amidah: Defiance
  8. Spanish Revolution and Civil War gallery
  9. Stalin in Clerkenwell Green
  10. Socialist Wanker
  11. On this day 100 years ago: Bonnot Gang executions
  12. Franco’s Spain – how many dead?
  13. Trabajadores: Spanish Civil War Archives Online
  14. Fifty years ago: the execution of Francisco Granados and Joaquin Data Martinez Delgado

Very few of my referrals this year were from blogs. Most were from search engines, with many from social media too. Top bloggy referrers were:

  1. Shiraz Socialist
  2. Tendance Coatesy
  3. Corey Ansel
  4. Hatful of History
  5. Sketchy Thoughts
  6. rooeravotr
  7. Rosie Bell
  8. Bob From Brockley
  9. For Workers Power
  10. Radical Archives

Thanks comrades.

Top search terms:

  1. Death of Trotsky
  2. Spanish Civil War
  3. George Orwell
  4. Sergio Larrain
  5. Eileen O’shaughnessy
  6. Carnation revolution
  7. Georges Kopp
  8. John Molyneux
  9. Mika Etchebéhère
  10. Andres Nin

Happy new year.

Published in: on January 7, 2014 at 3:47 pm  Comments (2)  

Poumista annual report for 2012

2012 was a slow year here. However, I wanted to thank my referrers and look back on a couple of the highlights.

My top referrers were:

  1. rooieravotr Jouwpagina.nl
  2. Tendance Coatesy (especially, although I’m not sure why, this post on Respect antisemitism)
  3. Shiraz Socialist
  4. Entdinglichung
  5. Ούτε Θεός – Ούτε Αφέντης
  6. Newsnet Scotland (thanks to a single comment linking to an amusing picture here)
  7. La Bataille Socialiste
  8. BobFromBrockley
  9. David Osler
  10. Inveresk Street Ingrate
  11. Sketchy Thoughts
  12. Espace contre Ciment
  13. Boffy’s Blog
  14. Normblog
  15. Obliged to Offend
  16. Luxemburger Anarchist
  17. Memex 1.1 (because of a single post with the same amusing picture)
  18. Libcom (from three forum pages: on Marxist websites, on left archives, on Marxism and anarchism)
  19. Pinterest (the same amusing picture)
  20. But I am a Liberal

Thanks comrades! Thanks, of course, to readers and commenters as well, in particular Petey, Mikey and TNC. (Two thirds of my readers were in the US, the UK was the second most visiting country, followed by Spain, France, Canada, Australia, Germany and Italy. I am pleased to note I have a reader in Syria.)

My main referrers, however, by a huge margin were search engines rather than blogs etc. Google images sent me more readers (27,000) than google proper (8000). I think the lesson for bloggers is that image metatext gets google image juice. Non-google search engines lagged way behind. Top search terms were as follows, hyperlinked to the most appropriate material to keep that google juice flowing:

  1. poumista            
  2. spanish civil war   
  3. dirlewanger
  4. carnation revolution
  5. george orwell   
  6. poum   
  7. eileen o’shaughnessy   
  8. partisans             
  9. dirlewanger brigade
  10. leon trotsky death
  11. andres nin
  12. marxist theory
  13. frederick douglass
  14. happy workers day
  15. spanish civil war posters
  16. leon trotsky
  17. spanish revolution
  18. victor serge
  19. vietnam war protest songs
  20. sean matgamna

Most are predictable, but Dirlewanger and the Dirlewanger Brigade were quite a surprise, and Frederick Douglass too. Oskar Dirlewanger was a psychotic paedophile Nazi who fought in the Condor Legion of German fascists in the Spanish Civil War before going on to command his own exceptionally brutal SS brigade on the Eastern front in WWII, specialising in fighting partisans in Poland and Belorus. I have never written about him or his brigade here, so have no idea why it generates search engine traffic.

With only three posts actually written in 2012 featuring (highlighted in bold), the most popular posts (or at least the most visited ones)

  1. Orwell turning in his grave?
  2. On this day, 1945: Eileen O’Shaughnessy died
  3. Music Monday 1: Carnation revolution
  4. The [American] Civil War in 3D
  5. Spanish Revolution and Civil War gallery
  6. Books
  7. Jews versus Stalinists in the Spanish Civil War
  8. Amidah: Defiance
  9. Photography: Sergio Larrain/Lewis Hine
  10. Happy Workers’ Day
  11. On this day: 22 June 1937 – Andres Nin murdered
  12. Uses and abuses: George Orwell and Norman Thomas
  13. From the archive of struggle: student activism in the 1930s
  14. From the archive of struggle no.43
  15. 25 April 1974
  16. Christopher Hitchens and Robert Service talk Trotsky
  17. Vietnam War Protest Songs
  18. Mika Etchebéhère, POUM Militia Captain
  19. From the archive of struggle no.47
  20. Shoot them like partridges

My favourite 2012 posts, however, were:

  1. No Direction Home
  2. Is the conflict in Syria the new Spanish civil war?
  3. Bayard Rustin at 100
Published in: on January 7, 2013 at 2:46 pm  Comments (2)  

Music Mondays: Grândola, Vila Morena

On every corner, a friend
In every face, equality
Grândola, swarthy town
Land of brotherhood

Zeca Afonso: Grândola, Vila Morena

Today’s song is from History is Made at Night. Here’s a short extract from a great post.

n April 1974, left leaning military officers overthrew the Portuguese dictatorship and ended its colonial wars in Africa. For the next two years Portugal was in turmoil, with workers taking over workplaces and many hoping to push the revolution further. The radio stations were one of the key sites of struggle, in particular Rádio Renascença.

The Revolution Started with a Song by John Hoyland (Street Life, November 1 1975): 

‘3 am, April 25 1974. By prior arrangement with the rebel Armed Forces Movement (AFM), a DJ on Lisbon’s Radio Renascenca plays ‘Grandola, Vila Morena’, a popular song of the day whose possible subversive meaning had escaped the censor’s ears. The song is a signal for a military uprising that, with scarcely any opposition, overthrows the Caetano Government, and brings to an end 50 years of fascism in Portugal. The next day, the people pour into the streets, and give the soldiers red carnations. The soldiers stick the flowers in their guns…’

Previous: The music of the carnation revolution, The Carnation revolution, Anarchist fado.

Happy new year from Poumista

This is a post to say thanks to all of you for reading and especially for commenting and linking.

My top referrers, not counting google etc, in 2011 were:
1. Rooieravotr
2. Tendance Coatesy
3. Shiraz Socialist
4. Boffy
5. Bob From Brockley
6. Luxemburger Anarchist
7. ΟΥΤΕ ΘΕΟΣ – ΟΥΤΕ ΑΦΕΝΤΗΣ
8. Journeyman
9. Histomatist
10. David Osler
11. Inveresk Street
12. Entdinglichung
13. Lady Poverty
14. On A Raised Beach (much missed)
15. A Very Public Socioloigist

Most popular posts were:

  1. Anarchism or your money back
  2. Amidah: Defiance
  3. Globalise the jasmine revolution: some notes from history and theory
  4. From the archive of struggle no.43
  5. On this day, 1945: Eileen O’Shaughnessy died
  6. On this day: 22 June 1937 – Andres Nin murdered
  7. Jews versus Stalinists in the Spanish Civil War
  8. Books
  9. Christopher Hitchens and Robert Service talk Trotsky
  10. Shoot them like partridges
  11. From the archive of struggle no.37
  12. Orwell turning in his grave?
  13. Music Monday 1: Carnation revolution
  14. From the archive of struggle: student activism in the 1930s
  15. Poumatica

Most commented on posts:

  1. More catching up
  2. Anarchism versus Leninism
  3. Workers’ Liberty
  4. Max Shachtman, Hal Draper and the anarchists
  5. My obsessions
  6. Uses and abuses: George Orwell and Norman Thomas
  7. Orwell turning in his grave?
  8. War, and class war
  9. On a roll, no.3
  10. Shoot them like partridges
  11. Democratic Green Stalinist?

Most popular search terms:

  1. poumista
  2. dirlewanger [I have no idea why!]
  3. poum
  4. spanish civil war
  5. carnation revolution
  6. george orwell
  7. eugene debs
  8. andres nin
  9. trotsky
  10. victor serge
  11. leon trotsky death
  12. trotsky dead
  13. anarchism
  14. spanish civil war posters
  15. leon trotsky
  16. mika etchebéhère
  17. spanish anarchists
  18. united farm workers logo
  19. robert service trotsky
  20. poum poster
  21. emma goldman
  22. eileen o’shaughnessy
  23. gerda taro
  24. manolis glezos

Most prolific commenters:

1. Michael Ezra
2. Petey
3. Entdinglichung
4. Kellie Strom
5. Darren

Published in: on January 1, 2012 at 7:41 pm  Comments (3)  

From the archive: special features

Recently discovered, via a Greek radical history website that made me wish I spoke Greek. Plus, at the bottom, some things from Histomatist and other bloggers.

Sidney Fournier: obituary

Download the article here.

— From the Evening Post, 8th July, 1913

Wyatt E. Jones: watchmaker and anarchist

Reason in Revolt

Sample:

  • Cresciani, Gianfranco, ‘Italian anti-fascism in Australia, 1922-45′, in Wheelwright, E.L. & Buckley, K. (ed.), Essays in the political economy of Australian capitalism, volume three, 1978 edn, vol. 3, Australia & New Zealand Book Company, Brookvale, 1978, pp. 86-101. [  |  | Details... ]
  • Gibson, Ralph, ‘Struggle against war and fascism’, in My years in the Communist Party, International Bookshop, Melbourne, 1966. [  |  | Details... ]
  • Manton, Joyce, ‘War can be prevented’, in The centenary prepares war, Melbourne University Council Against War, Melbourne, 1934. [  |  | Details... ]
  • Smith, Bernard, ‘The realisms of war’, in Noel Counihan: artist and revolutionary, 1993 edn, Oxford University Press, Melbourne & New York, pp. 180-97. [ Details... ]
  • Smith, Bernard, ‘The fascist mentality in Australian art and criticism 1946′, in The critic as advocate selected essays 1941-1988, 1989 edn, Oxford University Press Australia, Melbourne, 1989, pp. 44-51. [ Details... ]

The Faber Fantin Research Project Site

This is a portrait of Francesco Giovanni Fantin [1901-42] pictured just before he left Italy as an antifascist emigre in 1924. Note the foulard which was an anarchist dress symbol. Since 1985 I have been researching the biography of Fantin, an important Italo Australian anarchist activist who was assassinated by fascist conspirators whilst interned as an enemy alien at Loveday in the SA Riverland, 16 November 1942. This website contains previously unpublished photographs, supplied by friends and relatives of Fantin, and interpretative argument by me about Fantin’s life and times. Fantin is presented as a significant figure in the history of political heterodoxy, emigration and multicultural diversification which were beginning to assume historical proportions in Italo-Australian relations during his lifetime. This then is the larger than life story of a grass roots activist who explored democratic notions of citizenship resolved `to strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield’. It should be of interest to all interested in the history of democracy and Italo-Australian social and political history, whether they share Fantin’s anarchism, or, like myself, only his socialism.

From Histomatist

New work: Tony Cliff: A Marxist for his Time

Tony Cliff: A Marxist for his Time
by Ian Birchall

Hardback £25 9781905192793/Paperback £16.99 9781905192809
Tony Cliff came to political consciousness in the darkest period of the 20th century and spent his life developing revolutionary Marxism against Stalinism. From his early days as a revolutionary in British-occupied Palestine, through years of obscurity and isolation in London and Dublin to the high points of struggle in post-war Britain, Cliff worked to restore lost ideas and traditions, fan flames of resistance and develop our understanding of a system in constant change. Ian Birchall’s lovingly crafted book is the culmination of years of work, drawing on interviews with over 100 people who knew Cliff and painstaking research in archives around the country. It is a majestic example of political biography at its best.
Available direct from Bookmarks Bookshop from 30 June 2011, and nationwide from October – see here. Ian will be launching his biography at Marxism 2011, and describes some of his experience of researching Cliff’s life here.

New study of EP Thompson

I have just finished reading The Crisis of Theory: EP Thompson, the New Left, and Postwar British Politics a highly readable new study by Scott Hamilton of Reading the Maps fame. I can happily and heartily recommend it to readers of Histomat as a fine companion volume to Thompson’s The Poverty of Theory and Other Essays (1978). Hamilton’s work comes with what now reads as a rather poignant recommendation from the late socialist historian and EP Thompson’s partner, Dorothy Thompson, and overall I found it a fascinating introduction to Thompson the thinker and writer – someone who I didn’t know before now was given cricket lessons by Nehru while a boy. Personally would have liked a little more on Thompson the great Marxist historian, but I am aware that would have probably meant a different book – and in any case, myself and Hamilton had a little debate about Thompson and Marxist historiography about five years ago – a debate I am not sure either of us feel the compulsion to return to just now. Many congratulations anyway to Scott on the publication of his homageto EPT.

Owen Hatherley on Marx, Eagleton, Lenin and Lih

 As [Eagleton] acknowledges, our age of no-strings-attached state handouts to banks and punitive cuts to social services has embraced a form of capitalism so grotesque that it resembles the caricatures of the most leaden Soviet satirists. Eagleton presents his book as the fruit of “a single, striking thought: what if all the objections to Marx’s thought are mistaken?” In order to demonstrate this, each of the chapters of this erudite yet breezy (occasionally too breezy) tract begins with a series of assertions about Marx and Marxism, which Eagleton then proceeds to debunk, one by one.

From Hatherley’s review of Eagleton’s Why Marx was Right and Lih’s Lenin. Personally I disagree very slightly with Hatherley’s conclusion, at the end of his discussion of Lih’s biography of Lenin: Yet what really endures here is the sense that, for Lenin, a revolutionary leader has a duty to lead the working class into revolution, and all the theory in the world won’t help if the political and economic conditions are missing. Lenin believed that the first world war offered a real chance to destroy capitalism, and when – in 1919, as revolution briefly engulfed Europe – he seemed to be proved right, he felt vindicated, even relieved. He learned his mistake, and died deeply troubled by it.Yet Lenin was not ‘mistaken’ when the world revolution failed to triumph outside of Russia post First World War – the conditions did exist for the successful socialist revolution in Europe – not least in Germany which underwent two revolutionary situations in 1918 and then again in 1923. Lenin knew that making the revolution in Russia was a gamble, but, he wagered, it was right to make that gamble – a gamble after all that was critical to ending the bloodshed of the First World War and, everything taken into account did demonstrate the possibilities for socialist revolution in the 20th century.

As Rosa Luxemburg noted,‘Everything that a party could offer of courage, revolutionary farsightedness, and consistency in a historic hour, Lenin, Trotsky, and the other comrades have given in good measure. All the revolutionary honor and capacity which the Social Democracy of the West lacked were represented by the Bolsheviks. Their October uprising was not only the actual salvation of the Russian Revolution; it was also the salvation of the honour of international socialism.’

From Tendence Coatesy

Louise Michel

I recently saw the film Louise-Michel.

It’s a bit, so-so (I went for the name- see below).

The film begins with a coffin being jammed in a Crematorium while the Internationale plays. A textile factory, in Picardy, is delocalised. The boss leaves the women workers in the lurch. Rather than go for a nude Calender, or take up stripping, they decide to hire a killer to bump him. Louise (Yolande Moreau),  finds one, a man transsexual. Louise turns out to be man.

The comedy, such as it is, takes place the surreal Picardy environment, a decaying Communist bastion, with co-ops and council housing falling apart. The only real laughs are in the search for the ultimate boss responsible for the closure. This takes the pair, Louise and her pro ((Bouli Lanners) to a posh gala dinner, Brussels ( with , nonantes and septantes  said every other sentence, and finally to Jersey where a much appreciated bloodbath of the bourgeoisie ensues.(Here.)

The only really good scene in Louise-Michel – and still a bit Little Britain in its humour – is when the duo pass by and visit the farm where Louise had shot a bank-manager out to forfeit her indebted property. It’s now an organic bed-and-breakfast heaven, with fair-trade coffee, bio bogs, hand-woven degradable carpets,  spring water showers, crystal therapy breakfasts, and recycled air -in the dull flat Picardy mud.

Anyway, apart from the chance of seeing Siné in the flesh – in a walk-on part –  I wouldn’t recommend the film.

But at the end there is a quote on the screen from the real-life Louise Michel.

Now she is someone the English-speaking left should get to know.

“Michel became highly admired by French workers and revolutionaries, particularly for her association with theParis Commune. From after her death until 1916, a demonstration was held every year at her tomb at Levallois-Perret.

A legendary figure of the labour movement, Michel had the ability to incite crowds to act. Frequently, the language used to describe her is that reserved for saints and heretics; she is often referred to as “Bonne Louise” (Good Louise) or the “Vierge rouge” (red Virgin). For better or worse, Michel seems to have fascinated her contemporaries. This woman, educated and cultured, intelligent without being shy and retiring, and lacking the beauty of certain demimondaines and other women of loose morals who populated the period before the Belle Epoque, was surrounded by many male celebrities. They were often her steadfast friends, until the end of her life, or more frequently to the end of theirs. For a period when women still had essentially no rights, she was in many respects an exception.”

L’œillet rouge.

If were to go to the black cemetery

Brothers, throw on your sister,
As a final hope,
Some red ‘carnations’ in bloom.
In the final days of Empire,
When the people were awakening,
It was your smile red carnation
which told us that all was being reborn.
Today, go blossom in the shadow of the black and sad prisons.
Go, bloom near the somber captive,
And tell him/her truly that we love him/her.
Tell that through fleeting time
Everything belongs to the future
That the livid-browed conqueror
can die more surely than the conquered.

The Paris Commune is not dead

There is a very well expressed article by Nick Rogers in the latest Weekly Worker on the 140th Anniversary of the Paris Commune – Here.

He concludes,

The historical experience of the Paris Commune teaches us a threefold lesson.

First, the key role of political leadership and programme. The Commune clearly lacked coherent political leadership. It did not even have a clear idea of what it sought to achieve. This was partly a question of political ideology, but it was also an expression of the lack of any working class party to speak of. In Paris (and in the other cities of France, where during this period several communes of only a few days’ duration were declared) there were political traditions, clubs and conspiratorial groupings. Lacking from the political firmament was any party seeking to democratically represent the interests of the whole class.

The International came closest and was subsequently blamed by the French government for the uprising. It banned the International in France and wrote to governments around Europe urging them to take the same action. But the Proudhonist majority in the French section held to a theoretical position that rejected political action (and trade unionism, for that matter). It was not ready to lead a workers’ revolution.

Second, the spontaneity of the working class is capable of great feats. What was achieved in Paris during April and May 1871 by the citizens of the city retains the capacity to inspire. Local initiatives proliferated. Right up to the last week a mood of festival prevailed. It is not the role of a political party to subsume or subdue such initiative, but to provide a focal point for directing the working class’s capacity for political and organisational creativity in an agreed direction.

Third, a workers’ revolution transforms the political and constitutional landscape or it is not a revolution. That is why communists raise democratic and republican demands. It is a lesson most of the present-day ‘revolutionary’ left has forgotten. The rediscovery of Kautsky “when he was a Marxist” can help hammer home that lesson.

This is a crystal-clear summary of the Commune’s enduring political meaning.

Also read:

Poumismic

Egypt and Tunisia, what is to be done?

Boffy: on Bonapartism and permanent revolution.

Bob: on the carnation revolution, the jasmine revolution, and Marx’s love of flowers.

Johnny Guitar: on some of the scum (Hosni Mubarak…) allowed in the Socialist International these days, and on its belated rectification.

From the archive: Tony Cliff on the Middle East at the crossroads (1945), John Rees on the democratic revolution and the socialist revolution (1989).

Dorothy Thompson, z”l:

Entdinglichung, Sheila Rowbotham, Shiraz Socialist.

Also:

Michael Weiss: on Julian Assange as Bakunin with a MacBook.

Owen Jones, in the spirit of Keir Hardie: the left needs to watch its language.

Andrew Coates, in the spirit of Robert Tressel and Oscar Wilde: Big Society goes bang.

Nick Cohen: on disgusting old Stalinist Eric Hobsbawm and his How to Change the World.

Ron Radosh: commie Camp Kinderland still exists.

Jim Denham: on Norman Geras’ Marxism.

HiM@N: on the death of Rosie the Riveter.

History notes

Current affairs

Orwell’s Kilburn flat is getting a new blue plaque, which is nice. And it is Orwell Prize nomination time of year again. Phil AVPS picks his best ten posts here, and reckons Laurie Penny will get it because she is surfing the zeitgeist, a suggestion Paul in Lancashire beautifully deconstructs here. I’m not sure if I’ll nominate myself; I don’t think I managed ten decent posts in 2010.

Totally unrelated, here’s Ron Radosh on the decline of the New York intellectuals. Talking of NY intellectuals, Alfred Kazin’s journals are soon to be published.

The Accidental Anarchist: an interview with writer Bryna Kranzler.

The latest Carnival of Socialism is hosted by Luna17 here. It takes the theme of “Debating the way forward”, very necessary indeed. This is from right at the end:

Charlie Pottins pays tribute to Jayaben Desai, who uttered these immortal words:

“What you are running here is not a factory, it is a zoo. In a zoo, there are many types of animals. Some are monkeys who dance on your fingertips, others are lions who can bite your head off. We are those lions, Mr Manager.”

On the 20th January we’re with Bob from Brockley and then at the beginning of Feb we’ll be with the Great Unrest.

From the archive of struggle

Mostly via Ent.. as usual.

Dublin Council of Trade UnionsIn Dublin City in 1913: Songs and Stories of the Workers of Dublin, May Day Festival, 1988. There are articles on 1913, on May Day in Dublin since 1890, a profile of Jim Larkin and James Connolly and a range of other materials of interest.

* [Leon Trotsky] Leo Trotskij: Revolutionen i Spanien och kommunisternas uppgifter (1931). In Swedish.

* National Youth Committee, Communist League of America (Opposition)Young Spartacus, Nr. 1-11 (1931-1932) // Opposition Group in the Workers (Communist) Party of America/Communist League of America (Opposition): The Militant, 1-18 1929 // Communist League of America (Opposition): The Militant, 1-34 1930 /The Militant, 1-37 1931. // * Hugo Oehler: Americas role in Germany (1933) / Communist League of America (Opposition) (CLA):  The Militant, 8. Dezember 1934. These are early texts of the Trotskyist movement in America, mainly written by James P Cannon, Max Schactman and Martin Abern. The movement went through a number of incarnations until 1940, when Shachtman and Abern, with James Burnham, left to form the Workers Party (taking Hal Draper, CLR James and the other most intelligent members of the movement).

* Karl KorschThe Passing of Marxian Orthodoxy: Bernstein-Kautsky-Luxemburg-Lenin (1937). In this dense and not particularly readable short text, Korsch argues that Eduard Bernstein, Karl Kautsky, Rosa Luxemburg and Vladimir Lenin were all essentially exemplars of a moribund orthodox Marxism which fetishised the form of the political party.

* Raya DunayevskayaEisenhower-Khrushchev Spectacular (1959). Dunayevskaya had been a member of the Shachtman/Cannon Trotskyist movement, following Shachtman in his break from Cannon’s orthodox Trotskyism in 1940, along with her close colleague CLR James. This text is from News and Letters, the magazine of Dunayevskaya’s movement from 1955 onwards, after she had split with James, favouring a stronger organisational form for the revolutionary movement than James countenanced. However, if anything hers was the stronger anti-Stalinism, as comes across in the closing words of this text: “But – just as the steel workers have refused to be cowed, although their stomach are getting pretty empty, and just as all workers, American and European and African, refuse to separate their fight for bread from that for freedom – so the workers in each country on each side of the Atlantic, will prove to be the real antagonists against these hypocritical state-capitalist leaders. Until that struggle is settled, no others can be – because all the others only lead back to the same old exploitative society.” Also new on-line: American Civilization on Trial: Black Masses as Vanguard [Excerpt] (1963)

* Hal DraperMarx and the Dictatorship of the Proletariat (1962). This is from New Politics, Vol. 1, No. 4, Summer 1962. It was later, I think, expanded into his major work Karl Marx’s Theory of Revolution, Vol III: The Dictatorship of the Proletariat, published by Monthly Review Press. Around this time, Draper broke from Shachtman (by then leading an entrist faction in the Socialist Party) to form the Independent Socialist Club (ISC), and I think that the article bares traces of his struggle with the legacy of orthodox Trotskyism in the Shachtmanite scene.

* Brian PearceTrotsky as an Historian (1960). I think of Pearce as Britain’s Hal Draper. This from the period of his evolution from Pollit-esque Brit-Stalinism to orth0-Trot politics, writing for The Newsletter, the publication of Gerry Healy’s Trotskyist “Club“, which in 1959 became the Socialist Labour League (later the Workers Revolutionary party) – the paper edited by Pearce’s close comrade the great Peter Fryer, with whom, I think, he had left the CPGB.

*C.L.R. James: World Politics Today (1967) /  Che Guevara (1967) /  World Revolution: 1968 (1967) // Martin GlabermanUpheaval in China (1967) /  The United States and the Russian Revolution (1967) / Martin Luther King, Jr (1968)
* Martin Glaberman: Regis Debray: Revolution Without a Revolution (1968) / Indonesian Communism: The First Stage (1968) / On Balance: The French Events (1968) // George RawickToward a New History of Slavery in the U.S. (1967) / A New Nation in a New World (1967) /George Rawick: Notes on the American Working Class (1968). These are texts by three figures then involved in the journal Speak Out, monthly newsletter (edited by Glaberman) of the Facing Reality group, which evolved from the Johnson-Forest Tendency founded by James and Dunayevskaya as they moved away from the Trotskyist movement. Kent Worcester, in C.L.R. James: A Political Biography, sees this period as Facing Reality flirting with Maoism, so it is interesting to read these texts in that light.

* Israeli Revolutionary Action Committee (Abroad) (ISRAC)ISRAC, Mai 1969. According to Wikipedia, “In the late 1960s and early 1970s, supporters of Matzpen abroad published Israca (Israeli Revolutionary Action Committee Abroad). The magazine included many articles published in Matzpen. Some of Matzpen was censored and that material was republished in IsracaMoshé Machover, Eli Lobel, Haim Hanegbi and Akiva Orr were all part of the editorial board. In the late 1970s and early 1980s, supporters of the organisation and other radical left academics and activists formed another journal in the UK, Khamsin, in which they published their analyses of current events.”

* International-Communist League (I-CL)Debate on Cambodia, 1979 (1978/1979). The I-CL was the forerunner of the Alliance for Workers Liberty (AWL).
* Alan JohnsonThe „other Trotskyists“ and Palestine (~ 1997). Here Johnson, then of the AWL, discusses the politics of Hal Draper’s movement.

Texts from libcom: (more…)

On a roll, no.1

A friend of mine was complaining about the length of my blogroll. She assured me that size does not matter. I keep intending to parcel it up into more digestible categories, but I can’t work out the taxonomy. Instead, as a service to readers, I have decided to start this new series where I highlight some of the links on the roll. In the spirit of honouring the underdog, I’ll start at the bottom of the alphabet, and in each entry highlight five blogs and five non-blogs, and see how we go.

Five Blogs

אומשלאָף

This blog, whose title means Awaken (I think), seems to have fallen asleep in 2010. It’s a revolutionary, anti-assimilationist, anarchist blog, in Yiddish. Featuring: lyrics to David Bowie’s “Space Oddity” in Yiddish; lyrics to Crass’ “Where next Columbus?” in Yiddish; a poem about the Botwinists, the Jewish brigade in the Spanish civil war; and the template for some Yiddish anarchist stencil graffiti (right).

Yourfriendinthenorth

One of my favourites. Contrarian democratic socialism from Northern Ireland. Poumistas might like, for example, Ignoring the inevitable?, on totalitarianism in North Korea, or this post on what Facebook would have looked like a couple of centuries ago.

What in the hell…?

An extremely smart, readable and good-looking blog from an activist in the Workers Solidarity Alliance, a North America anarchist organisation in a broadly syndicalist tradition. The shtik is that every post answers a “What in the hell…?” question, as in … is the big deal about tenure? or … is the relationship between local history and radical history? or … was I on about? In fact, looking at it now, I realise that I’m going to have to go and print off lots of the posts and read them properly. Go get stuck in.

Virtual Stoa

The elder statesman of my corner of the blogosphere, the Virtual Stoa, Chris Brooke’s blog, has been going since May 2001. Among the features are Dead Socialist Watch, obituaries for socialists, part of a larger “Leftwingery” section.

Utopia or Bust

According to the tin, “Utopia Or Bust is a blog and online repository based out of Portland, OR. The aim of Utopia Or Bust is to formulate a relevant practice and cohesive theory for the living-out of everyday life under the decidability of our own desires, and connecting the dots between technology, social antagonism, art, critical theory, and urban design. Many intellectual motifs used in this blog come from the Situationist International, the Italian Autonomist movement, and others found in the tag section.” Greatest hits are here. Perhaps slightly highbrow for me, but well-written, witty and fascinating.

Five other web resources

Yale Annals of Communism

This is a publicity site for a Yale University research programme and book series. Among its gems, this podcast: WBEZ (Chicago) broadcast featuringSpain Betrayed and Stalin’s Secret Pogrom; and electronic documents like these: Enemies within the Gates? The Comintern and the Stalinist Repression, 1934-1939; and Voices of Revolution, 1917. The site is now in need of some updating, but has a fair bit for any student of Stalinism to munch on.

Wu Ming Foundation

Wu Ming is an Italian collective authorship project with roots in the post-autonomist social centre movement. Most relevant to Poumistas would be 54, already mentioned here, which moves from anti-fascist Italian partisans via Cary Grant to the repression of autogestion in Yugoslavia. They also have a blog. See e.g. The hero who killed Giovanni Gentile.

World in Common

This rarely updated website represents the diverse current of the ‘anti-market anti-statist sector’. It has links to a vast library of important texts from this tradition, featuring Marx, Kropotkin, Pannekoek and all sorts of others. It has a large link directory. And its hosts three issues of a journal Common Voice.

Workman’s Circle/Arbeter Ring

More Yiddishism. The New York Workman’s Circle was once a major institution of secular, proletarian Jewish cultural life, intimately linked to the labour movement. It survives today to promote Yiddish culture, progressive politics and secular Jewishness. This text explains its dynamic reinvention in its second century of existence.

Workers Liberty

One of the smallest but most perfectly formed of all of Britain’s Trotskyists sects. The party, led by reb Sean Matgamna, has gone through many incarnations since it began as a faction within the IS, the predecessors of today’s SWP. It practises a heterodox Trotskyism, more closely linked to Max Shachtman and Hal Draper than with the moribund mainstream of orthodox Trotskyism.

Published in: on November 17, 2010 at 11:54 am  Comments (4)  

Centrism

I’ve had this comment at the back of my mind for a while, to do something with, but am not sure what to. It’s Andrew Coates, here. Hyperlinks are added:

If Bob you’d wish to define me it’s through what the Trotksyists call ‘centrism‘. (more…)

Published in: on October 21, 2010 at 1:26 pm  Comments (5)  

25 April 1974

Photo

Published in: on April 25, 2010 at 11:35 pm  Comments (2)  
Tags: ,

Poumunk

Colin Ward

From SlackBastard:

[...] UK anarchist Colin Ward has died. His Anarchism: A Very Short Introduction (OUP, 2004) is both very short and quite good, and his appeal as a writer was widespread, his many, generally pithy writings emphasising the practical dimensions of Anarchy in Action. (Revolution by the Book has an extract from Anarchy in Action here; AK Press is also publishing Autonomy, Solidarity, Possibility: The Colin Ward Reader later this year.) In addition to being the author of numerous books and pamphlets, Ward edited Anarchy zine for its first 100 issues (1961–1970), criticised by some as being reflective of anarchism’s absorption by the middle class.

OBITUARIES – 20: COLIN WARD, Paul Anderson, GAUCHE, February 17, 2010 | Colin Ward, RIP, Jesse Walker, Reason, February 17, 2010 | Colin Ward: pioneer of mutualism, Next Left, February 14, 2010 | Colin Ward Presente!, Dan Cull Weblog, February 14, 2010 | Colin Ward, Rob Ray, libcom, February 13, 2010 | Colin Ward, Ross Bradshaw, Five Leaves Blog, February 12, 2010.

See also : Anarchism in Action: Methods, Tactics, Skills, and Ideas, Second Edition (draft), Complied and Edited by Shawn Ewald.

Marxism etc

Bob versus the Moonbats: marxism necessary but not sufficient.

Some items of interest from The Commune: Beyond the party-state, beyond the big bang; El Alto, bastion of social struggles in Bolivia; Readings on the Paris Commune from Marx, Bakunin, Kropotkin and the Situationists; The early Russian revolution: Laurat in wonderland (this is part 1 of a text on Lucien Laurat’s book L’Économie Soviétique: Sa Dynamique, son méchanisme, by  João Bernardo of Passa Palavra; the original in Portuguese is here, with part 2 here, presumably awaiting translation).

Half a century of the New Left Review: Coatesy has a long and fascinating critical elegy, and Entdinglichung reminds us of the 1960 edition. Michael Weiss has a different take.

Trottishness etc

The departure of Lindsey German from the British SWP is raising some interesting discussions of party democracy in the UK left blogosphere. Among the contributions are these: “When Zinoviev is in the majority he is for iron discipline, when he is in the minority he is against it“; “Once Tiberius is dead I, Sejanus, will rule as Emperor in Rome”; “It was the best times, it was the worst of times”….; United fronts or just fronts?; The examination of the conscience (or lack thereof). Odd how it brings out the erudition in bloggers with these titles.

Uncle Hugo

From SlackBastard:

And finally, um, for reasons best known to himself, but perhaps related to the recent departure of significant sections of the International Marxist Tendency, Uncle Hugo’s best mate Alan Woods has attacked Bakunin In Defence of Marxism.

The last link is worth clicking on, as it gets you an English translation of The Third Chavez by Demétrio Magnoli in O Estado de Sao Paulo, apparently “Brazil’s main bourgeois paper”. I found it quite perceptive, and Woods’ reply too tedious to bother with.

Karl Marx created the 1st International, Friedrich Engels participated in the founding of the 2nd, Lenin established the 3rd, Leon Trotsky founded the 4th and Hugo Chávez has just raised the banner of the 5th. “I take responsibility before the world, I think it is time to rally the 5th International and dare to make the call,” he said in a speech lasting five hours, at the opening session of the extraordinary congress of the United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV) to the applause of 772 delegates in red shirts.

The congress was held in November. Then Chavez imposed energy rationing in the country, devalued the currency and introduced a dual exchange rate, nationalized a supermarket chain, suspended cable TV broadcasts and unleashed a bloody crackdown on student protests. [...]

Chavez is living his third incarnation, which is also the last. The first Chavez emerged after the failed coup of 1992, in the guise of nationalist and anti-American warlord mesmerized by the image of an imaginary Simón Bolívar. Under the influence of Argentine sociologist Norberto Ceresole, that original Chavismo flirted with anti-Semitism and dreamed of the establishment of an authoritarian, fascist-style state, which would reunify Venezuela, Colombia and Ecuador in a restored Great Colombia.

A second Chávez could be discerned in outline in the spring of the first term in 1999, after the break with Ceresole, when the Leader drew close to Heinz Dieterich, a German Professor of Sociology in Mexico who came out of obscurity to formulate the concept of “socialism of the 21st century.” Chavismo reinvented itself and acquired left-wing collaborators, formed an alliance with Cuba and engaged in the project of building a state capitalism that was presented as a long transition towards a kind of socialism untainted by the Soviet legacy.

Brandishing a copy of The State and Revolution by Lenin, the Chavez of the extraordinary congress of the PSUV announced his conversion to the programme of the destruction of the “bourgeois state” and the building of a “revolutionary state.” This third Chavez was already implied in 2004, when the Leader got to know the British Trotskyist Alan Woods, and was fully manifest by the time of his defeat in the referendum of December 2007, shortly after the break with Dieterich. The PSUV is a result of Chavismo of the third period, as is also the proclamation of the 5th International.

The uses and abuses of history cont.

Bob posts on the Holocaust against the Roma and Jewish partisans in Greece, with lovely music. Chris Ford responds to Red Maria on Stepan Bandera (which I linked to here, to Will’s consternation). Graeme writes on an overlapping topic here.

From the archive of struggle, no.41: Anarchist poster special

Today’s feature is the Just Seeds Visual Artsts’ Co-op.

18Pesadilla_170.jpgRafael Baca
Nuestro Mas Hermoso Sueño es tu Peor Pesadilla/Our Most Beautiful Dream is Your Worst Nightmare

ElMaizEsNuestro_170.jpg Favianna Rodriguez
El Maíz Es Nuestro

Dill170.jpg Brains, Brilliancy, Bohemia: Art & Politics in Jazz-Age Chicago.

rio170.jpg Favianna Rodriguez
Rio

16PINK_170.jpg Lapiztola
Emiliano Zapata silkscreen

02emmag_170.jpg
Ben Rubin
Emma Goldman

From the archive, below the fold: (more…)

Anti-fascism: liberal and militant

Cross-posted at Anti-German Translation.

My comrade Bob From Brockley once created two wikipedia articles on “liberal anti-fascism” and “militant anti-fascism”. These articles have now been deleted and merged into the anti-fascism article, where their content has been whittled away. For the historical record, while the two old articles can still be found on the commercial sites that plunder wikipedia’s content, I am reproducing them here, below the fold.

(more…)

Published in: on July 14, 2009 at 5:23 pm  Comments (3)  
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