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)  

Blog recommendations, for homeless leftists

Cross-posted from Bob From Brockley

We have reached the level of the dark times of the early Middle Ages. The need to reflect on this. The extreme difficulty of reflecting on it. — Victor Serge

Lots of the blogs I have followed for a long time seem to be slowly dying,  but there are new ones out there, and old healthy ones, and ones that are not so new but new to me. Here are a couple that have caught my eye lately. (more…)

Monday music: for Jams

It’s been a long while since I did this, but I was moved to hear of the death of my friend Shaun Downey, also known as blogger Jams O’Donnell of The Poor Mouth. Read an obituary here. The first of these songs are Bebo Valdés, the wonderful Cuban pianist who died on the same day as Shaun. I don’t know if Shaun liked his music, but I think he probably would. The other songs are songs that I know he did like.

Bebo Valdés: Diane

Bebo Valdés & Diego El Cigala: Veinte Anos

Mari Boine: Cuovgi Liekkas

Mor Karbasi: La Pluma

Rajna: Epidauros

Mindful of the fact that neglected blogs are so easily hacked and stolen, I plan to re-post, with attribution, Jams’ series of extraordinary posts on the great Red Cushing, over the next couple of weeks.

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)  

Lists of note/Letters of note

From Lists of Note:

Orwell’s Rules for Writers

In 1946, George Orwell published ‘Politics and the English Language,’ an essay in which he criticises the bad habits of many writers and promotes the use of clear, unfussy language wherever possible. Towards the end of the essay, Orwell provides the following list of rules for writers.(Source: Politics and the English Language; Image: Orwell at work, via.)

  1. Never use a metaphor, simile, or other figure of speech which you are used to seeing in print.
  2. Never use a long word where a short one will do.
  3. If it is possible to cut a word out, always cut it out.
  4. Never use the passive where you can use the active.
  5. Never use a foreign phrase, a scientific word, or a jargon word if you can think of an everyday English equivalent.
  6. Break any of these rules sooner than say anything outright barbarous.

Hemingway’s Favourites

In the February 1935 issue of Esquire magazine, an article by Ernest Hemingway appeared that was titled ‘Remembering Shooting-Flying: A Key West Letter.’ In it, Hemingway reeled off 17 books, all of which he “would rather read again for the first time […] than have an assured income of a million dollars a year.”

That list can be read below.

(Source: Esquire, Feb. 1935; Image: Ernest Hemingway, via.)

From Letters of Note:

The problem is one of illiteracy, not Marxism

 

Early-1966, believing its contents to be “immoral,” the Hanover County School Board in Virginia decided to remove all copies of Harper Lee‘s classic novel, To Kill a Mockingbird, from the county’s school libraries. As soon as she was alerted, Lee responded perfectly by way of the following letter, written to, and later published in, The Richmond News Leader.

Also sent, as mentioned in the letter, was a contribution to the Beadle Bumble Fund — a project set up by the newspaper in 1959 to highlight/compensate for “official stupidities,” and which subsequently gave away copies of the banned book to all children who asked.

(Source: Understanding To Kill a Mockingbird; Image: Harper Lee, via.)

Monroeville, Alabama
January, 1966

Editor, The News Leader:

Recently I have received echoes down this way of the Hanover County School Board’s activities, and what I’ve heard makes me wonder if any of its members can read.

Surely it is plain to the simplest intelligence that “To Kill a Mockingbird” spells out in words of seldom more than two syllables a code of honor and conduct, Christian in its ethic, that is the heritage of all Southerners. To hear that the novel is “immoral” has made me count the years between now and 1984, for I have yet to come across a better example of doublethink.

I feel, however, that the problem is one of illiteracy, not Marxism. Therefore I enclose a small contribution to the Beadle Bumble Fund that I hope will be used to enroll the Hanover County School Board in any first grade of its choice.

Harper Lee

You must deliver marketable goods

Late-1914, an aspiring young writer named Max Fedder sent a copy of his manuscript, “A Journal of One Who Is to Die,” to Jack London, the author responsible for such works as The Call of the WildWhite Fang, and, most relevantly, Martin Eden — the bleak story of a young man battling to become a writer.

The brutally honest response he received can be seen below.

(Source: No Mentor but Myself: Jack London on Writing and Writers; Image: Jack London, via Answers.)

Oakland, Calif.

Oct. 26, 1914

Dear Max Fedder:

In reply to yours of recent date undated, and returning herewith your Manuscript. First of all, let me tell you that as a psychologist and as one who has been through the mill, I enjoyed your story for its psy­chology and point of view. Honestly and frankly, I did not enjoy it for its literary charm or value. In the first place, it has little literary value and practically no literary charm. Merely because you have got some­thing to say that may be of interest to others does not free you from making all due effort to express that something in the best possible medium and form. Medium and form you have utterly neglected.

Anent the foregoing paragraph, what is to be expected of any lad of twenty, without practice, in knowledge of medium and form? Heavens on earth, boy, it would take you five years to serve your apprenticeship and become a skilled blacksmith. Will you dare to say that you have spent, not five years, but as much as five months of unimpeachable, unremitting toil in trying to learn the artisan’s tools of a professional writer who can sell his stuff to the magazines and receive hard cash for same? Of course you cannot; you have not done it: And yet, you should be able to reason on the face of it that the only explanation for the fact that successful writers receive such large fortunes is because very few who desire to write become successful writers. If it takes five years work to become a skilled blacksmith, how many years of work intensi­fied into nineteen hours a day, so that one year counts for five-how many years of such work, studying medium and form, art and artisan­ship, do you think a man, with native talent and something to say, required in order to reach a place in the world of letters where he received a thousand dollars cash iron money per week?

I think you get the drift of the point I am trying to make. If a fellow harnesses himself to a star of $1000 week, he has to work proportion­ately harder than if he harnesses himself to a little glowworm of $20.00 a week. The only reason there are more successful blacksmiths in the world than successful writers, is that it is much easier, and requires far less hard work to become a successful blacksmith than does it to become a successful writer.

It cannot be possible that you, at twenty, should have done the work at writing that would merit you success at writing. You have not begun your apprenticeship yet. The proof of it is the fact that you dared to write this manuscript, “A Journal of One Who Is to Die.” Had you made any sort of study of what is published in the magazines you would have found that your short story was of the sort that never was published in the magazines. If you are going to write for success and money, you must deliver to the market marketable goods. Your short story is not marketable goods, and had you taken half a dozen evenings off and gone into a free reading room and read all the stories published in the current magazines, you would have learned in advance that your short story was not marketable goods.

[…]

Any time you are out here in California, I should be glad to have you come to visit me on the ranch. I can meet you to the last limit of brass tacks, and hammer some facts of life into you that possibly so far have escaped your own experience.

Sincerely yours,

Jack London

1984 v. Brave New World

 

In October of 1949, a few months after the release of George Orwell‘sdystopian masterpiece, Nineteen Eighty-Four, he received a fascinating letter from fellow author Aldous Huxley — a man who, 17 years previous, had seen his own nightmarish vision of society published, in the form of Brave New World. What begins as a letter of praise soon becomes a brief comparison of the two novels, and an explanation as to why Huxley believes his own, earlier work to be a more realistic prediction.

Fantastic.

Trivia: In 1917, long before he wrote this letter, Aldous Huxley briefly taught Orwell French at Eton.

(Source: Letters of Aldous Huxley; Image: George Orwell (via) & Aldous Huxley (via).)

Wrightwood. Cal.
21 October, 1949

Dear Mr. Orwell,

It was very kind of you to tell your publishers to send me a copy of your book. It arrived as I was in the midst of a piece of work that required much reading and consulting of references; and since poor sight makes it necessary for me to ration my reading, I had to wait a long time before being able to embark on Nineteen Eighty-Four.

Agreeing with all that the critics have written of it, I need not tell you, yet once more, how fine and how profoundly important the book is. May I speak instead of the thing with which the book deals — the ultimate revolution? The first hints of a philosophy of the ultimate revolution — the revolution which lies beyond politics and economics, and which aims at total subversion of the individual’s psychology and physiology — are to be found in the Marquis de Sade, who regarded himself as the continuator, the consummator, of Robespierre and Babeuf. The philosophy of the ruling minority in Nineteen Eighty-Four is a sadism which has been carried to its logical conclusion by going beyond sex and denying it. Whether in actual fact the policy of the boot-on-the-face can go on indefinitely seems doubtful. My own belief is that the ruling oligarchy will find less arduous and wasteful ways of governing and of satisfying its lust for power, and these ways will resemble those which I described in Brave New World. I have had occasion recently to look into the history of animal magnetism and hypnotism, and have been greatly struck by the way in which, for a hundred and fifty years, the world has refused to take serious cognizance of the discoveries of Mesmer, Braid, Esdaile, and the rest.

Partly because of the prevailing materialism and partly because of prevailing respectability, nineteenth-century philosophers and men of science were not willing to investigate the odder facts of psychology for practical men, such as politicians, soldiers and policemen, to apply in the field of government. Thanks to the voluntary ignorance of our fathers, the advent of the ultimate revolution was delayed for five or six generations. Another lucky accident was Freud’s inability to hypnotize successfully and his consequent disparagement of hypnotism. This delayed the general application of hypnotism to psychiatry for at least forty years. But now psycho-analysis is being combined with hypnosis; and hypnosis has been made easy and indefinitely extensible through the use of barbiturates, which induce a hypnoid and suggestible state in even the most recalcitrant subjects.

Within the next generation I believe that the world’s rulers will discover that infant conditioning and narco-hypnosis are more efficient, as instruments of government, than clubs and prisons, and that the lust for power can be just as completely satisfied by suggesting people into loving their servitude as by flogging and kicking them into obedience. In other words, I feel that the nightmare of Nineteen Eighty-Four is destined to modulate into the nightmare of a world having more resemblance to that which I imagined in Brave New World. The change will be brought about as a result of a felt need for increased efficiency. Meanwhile, of course, there may be a large scale biological and atomic war — in which case we shall have nightmares of other and scarcely imaginable kinds.

Thank you once again for the book.

Yours sincerely,

Aldous Huxley

I am your fellow man, but not your slave

In September of 1848, the incredible Frederick Douglass wrote the following open letter to Thomas Auld — a man who, until a decade previous, had been Douglass’ slave master for many years — and published it in North Star, the newspaper he himself founded in 1847. In the letter, Douglass writes of his twenty years as a slave; his subsequent escape and new life; and then enquires about his siblings, presumably still “owned” by his old master. He even asks Auld to imagine his own daughter as a slave.

It’s a lengthy letter, but perfectly written and such a valuable read. The final paragraph is also exquisite.

(Source: The Frederick Douglass Papers; Image below via Library of Congress; Image above, of Frederick Douglass, c.1874, via Wikipedia.)

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)  

The Gaping Silence

Via Andrew Coates’ interesting post on Johan Hari and Toni Negri, I got to the website of Phil Edwards’ book on Italian autonomism, which I really want to read, and then on to Phil’s blog, The Gaping Silence. I’ve visited before, but will do so more often. Here’s two tasters to tantalise you.

And come to dust

The Belgian radical surrealist journal Les lèvres nues once featured a slogan which I found simultaneously funny, heartbreaking and intensely inspiring:

SAVE LIEBKNECHT

For someone with my kind of politics, “Remember Liebknecht” would be a great slogan, one to bring a tear to the eye and a clench to the fist; “Avenge Liebknecht”, even. But “Save Liebknecht” is something else – it evokes all those feelings but takes them somewhere else. As if to say, we’re not just going to bring about an irreversible transformation of capitalist relations of production and the everyday life they produce, we’re going to transform the past! The choice of Liebknecht rather than the more obvious Luxemburg is interesting, too – as if to say, we’re going to do a proper job; we’re not just going for the top-rank heroes here. History? The revolution spits in its eye. By the time we get finished, the wind will be blowing into Paradise!

Those crazy surrealist Belgians. But, visiting the British Library the other day, looking at a proof copy of “the Ballad of Reading Gaol”, I found myself feeling something very similar. The thought process went something like, “Oscar Wilde do two years hard labour? Stuff that. No way. We’ll have to do something about that…” And I realised it wasn’t the first time I’d felt the urge – the determination, almost – to change the past; I felt it when I discovered the work of Primo Moroni and realised he’d died the year before (aged 62). […]

You are the fairest creature

[…]

Now listen to this:
Scritti Politti, “Hegemony”
There’s no getting away from it – at some level that’s the same song. (And yes, Googling establishes that Green Gartside was a folkie in his youth, and specifically a huge Martin Carthy fan. There’s a small puzzle here, though, which is that Carthy didn’t record the song until 1980, after Scritti Politti had recorded “Hegemony”. He did sing it as part of the score of the theatrical version of “Lark Rise to Candleford”, which was staged at the National Theatre in 1978 and 1979; perhaps Green was in the audience. Either that, or he heard Peter Bellamy’s version, released in 1975.)

I’m slightly staggered by this. Picture a fan of cutting-edge contemporary art who turns his back on the edgy echo-chamber of conceptual this and reinterpreted that, and rediscovers craft – good stuff well made. And imagine that, a few years down the line, he’s appreciating a particularly well-made pot, when he realises that it’s a Grayson bloody Perry. That’s me that is. Here’s a song which does what folk songs do, and does it so well – a slow, deliberate melody; lyrics that say one or two simple things, but simple things that have stayed true; a spare, delicate arrangement. No anxiety, no uncertainty, no rough edges, no contemporary resonance that wasn’t equally resonant 200 years ago. And here’s a song which is pure punk (intellectual wing): it’s all uncertainty and rough edges, an urgent, gabbled bulletin from the front line of one man’s confrontation with the world that faces him. And it’s the same bloody song.

As it happens, although I was vaguely into folk in the 70s – and I did see “Lark Rise” – I never really heard that much of it: Steeleye, Pentangle and, er… By 1979 I had given up on it altogether, partly in reaction against Steeleye’s new direction but mainly because the cultural earthquake of punk had seemed to make it utterly irrelevant. So I never heard “Sweet Lemany” until after I’d got back into folk, 30 years later, in search of the well-made pots of the tradition. Even then I only heard it at singarounds; it was only when I heard Jon Boden’s version last week that I really listened to it. And suddenly I’m back with Green in 1979, agonising over the production of meaning and semantic instability in ‘beat’ music in that legendary Camden squat, and I’m in my room at Cambridge poring over the sleevenotes and feeling his sense of the utter necessity of intellectual work and his despair at the isolation it brings with it[…]

Published in: on September 20, 2011 at 6:24 pm  Comments (2)  

Home Economics/New Mills

Great interview by Kate Webb of Sheila Rowbotham at the Third Estate. Kate’s website, New Mills, is fantastic, and being added to my blogroll. Here’s what you’ll find:  Alienation Angela Carter Arms Trade Bette Davis Bohemia Brecht Christina Stead Class Clifford  Odets Communism Ecology Economics Fairy Tales Feminism Film Globalisation Hollywood J.G.Ballard James Agee James Joyce Janet Frame Jon McGregor Journalism Kate Atkinson Kurt Vonnegut Lorna Sage Luise Rainer Michael Ondaatje Migration Narcissism Paul Mason PovertyRealism Reggae Rock Against Racism Salka Viertel Samuel BarberSheila Rowbotham Short Stories Ska Storm Jameson Tradition Unemployment Violence Virginia Woolf

Published in: on September 15, 2011 at 9:53 pm  Comments (1)  
Tags: ,

On a roll, no.4

An incredibly slow moving series, highlighting, in reverse alphabetical order, some of the links on my blogroll.

Work of the Negative

This is a Marxist-Humanist blog by  Franklin Dmitryev, follower of Raya Dunayevskaya involved in the News and Letters posse. It mixes material on on-going anti-capitalist struggles from the US and the rest of the world, with theoretical material on Marxist-Humanism, by Dunayevkaya, Dmitriyev and others, for instance on eco-socialism.

Women’s History Month

This is a British feminist history resource, with a blog (mainly news about events) and resources (a TimelineLesson plansProfiles of women in historyUK women’s firsts10 things you didn’t know were invented by a womenWalks and
Links). There is stuff on women and activism including Labour women. Lots of useful stuff, and especially recommended for teachers.

Weimar: Art and Modernity

This blog is mainly huge numbers of fascinating images, mainly today with twentieth century German modernism. There is lots on Brecht, a little on Walter Benjamin, dada and on surrealism (from where I took the image below). And a very fine blogroll.

 Gregorio Prieto Muñoz, Lupanar de Pompeya, 1928

Voltairine de Cleyre: the Exquisite Rebel

Voltairine de Cleyre was an American anarchist born in 1866. She was close to the Wobblies but believed in an “anarchism without adjectives.” De Cleyre was based 1889 to 1910 in Philadelphia, where she lived among poor Jewish immigrants, and where sympathy for anarchist beliefs was common. There, she taught English and music, and she learned to speak and write in Yiddish. This nice-looking site has her biography, texts, links to lots of resources elsewhere, and (unlike most of the pages below) is regularly updated.

Victor Serge net

This is a site about the great Russian/Belgian revolutionary Victor Serge. Although full of great material, it is not well put together, and hard to navigate. There is a list of Serge’s novels; reproductions of some of his wonderful but less well known poems, mainly written while he was in exile in Orenburg; biographical material; images, including paintings by his son Vlady; information on the Victor Serge Foundation in Montpelier. I think the site is a production of Richard Greeman, world’s foremost Serge scholar.

Vlady

And this is a site about Serge’s son Vlady, an artist, who died in 2005. Vlady was based in his adult life in Cuernavaca in Mexico, producing extraordinary muralsdrawings and and paintings. The site includes writings, biographical materials and art.

Varian Fry Foundation Project/Varian Fry Institute

Varian Fry was the man who saved the lives of Victor Serge and Vlady Kibalchich. With co-conspirators  Miriam Davenport and Mary Jayne Gold at the Villa Air-Bel near Marseilles, his Emergency Rescue Committee helped smuggle artists, dissidents and others out of Nazi-occupied Europe into Spain, Portugal and North Africa, and on to America and the Caribbean. The Varian Fry Foundation site tells his story, with  biographical notes by Annette Riley Fry, material on the recognition of his heroism, and links to lots of web resources. The Varian Fry Institute is a division of the Chambon Foundation in LA, which celebrates those who saved the lives of French Jews. The Institute is working on a documentary on Fry by Pierre Sauvage. The site has material on Fry’s American colleagues and on Sauvage’s other activities. The framework of this site is noble American righteous gentiles; I prefer the more political take of the Foundation. Neither do justice to Fry’s French colleagues, for which I recommend Rosemary Sullivan‘s Villa Air-Beli, which gives a prominent place to Serge and also to Andre Breton. Further reading: A Tribute to Varian Fry from Holocaust Survivors and Remembrance Project; online biography by Barry Gewen.

Back some time for the letter T.

Apologies for absence

Poster from the Spanish Revolution

Sorry about slow blogging. Until I return, go spend time at Historical Underbelly (not sure which of us got that template first), JourneymanblogNew Appeal to Reason, Next on the LeftObliged To Offend, or Slack Bastard.

Oh, and here’s a rare fresh post from la Tertulia on why the Spanish revolution means a lot, an eyewitness account at 853 and Clement Atlee on David Cameron.

Published in: on June 6, 2011 at 2:11 pm  Comments (2)  

Poummm

The Road to Wigan Pier

Image via Wikipedia

Paul Stott: History Retold: From Wigan Pier To The Paris Commune

Two interesting uses for Twitter and Blogging.

Seventy five years on, the people behind the Orwell Prize website have been reposting daily extracts from George Orwell’s The Road To Wigan Pier. The format seems to suit Orwell perfectly, and to take one example – his description of Rudyard Lake in Staffordshire, is evocative to anyone who has every visited a sight out of season.

A second use of this method comes from Alex Butterworth, who is tweeting a daily update of events at the Paris Commune, reproducing the voices of the participants – shame we know how it ended!

And a third to mark 200 years on from the days when the Luddites rioted across the north and the midlands - even would you believe, in Wilmslow!

Jim D at Shiraz Socialist:

Of course, the New Statesman has form. Back in the 1930′s it refused to publish George Orwell’s writings on the Spanish Civil War for fear of offending the Comintern and their local agents. Orwell never forgave the then-editor Kingsley Martin, a supple-spined “left” power-worshipper who seems to have uncannily prefigured both Peter Wilby (editor 1998-2005) and the present incumbent Jason Cowley.

The final straw, for me,  came last week with an edition edited by upper class “wadical” Jemima Kahn, largely devoted to promoting the preening anti-semitic loon Julian Assange and other posh friends and relatives like her Tory brother Zac Goldsmith and her ex-hubby Hugh Grant. The high-spot of the issue is Jemima’s own interview with her friend  Nick Clegg , who wails, “I’m not a punchbag: I have feelings.”

Rosie Bell:

On the left there is a hero gap.  Che is dead, Castro too old, Ortega is compromised, and Chavez is a bit of a buffoon. Enter Assange to fill the space.  His appearance adds to the mystique.  He is pale, and looks slightly alien and that along with his giant computer-like brain gives him the air of someone from a science fiction world, some sister planet of Vulcan where they have not evolved pointed ears.  He came as the man of mystery and enigma.

Also:

Witty anarchists: Red Star Commando on Marxism and anarchism. Anarchist jokes.

Earnest Trotskyists: Lenin and James Connolly on the Dublin labour war of 1913. Peter Taaffe on Eric Hobsbawm. SOYMB on Chris Bambery. (OYMB not the earnest Trots – Bambery is!)

Alternative socialist traditions: Andrew Coates on GDH Cole, guild socialism and Blue Labour, and via him an interesting Guild Socialism blog, with posts on Karl Marlo and loads more.

Towards a theory of radical history: Dave Osler on generations, and the 2010 generation of radicals.

Unrelated: Dali and the Jews.

2010 at Poumista

WordPress sent me a nice e-mail saying my Blog-Health-o-Meter™ reads Wow. Here are some of the other bits of juicy information they fed me.

The top referring sites in 2010 were rooieravotr, Harry’s Place, Lady Poverty, and On a Raised beach.

Some visitors came searching, mostly for trotsky, triangle shirtwaist fire, poumista, tina modotti, and leon trotsky.

I want to also thank all the bloggers who linked to me, and all the non-bloggers who visited and commented. Especially deserving of thanks are Peter, Michael Ezra, Entdinglichung, Darren, Petey, Roland, Kellie, Andy, Martin and Carl.

Comment of the year, from Lenin: “poumista, Unlike the crawling wankers above, I hate your blog and couldn’t care less whether you give a link or a reference on this piece of shit. All the best, len”.

These are the posts and pages that got the most views in 2010.

1

Poumshawoom July 2010
9 comments

2

Histories March 2009
5 comments

3

Leon Trotsky drinking Mexican coffee November 2009

4

Orwell turning in his grave? April 2010
12 comments

5

Christopher Hitchens and Robert Service talk Trotsky August 2009
8 comments

Finally, below the fold are some miscellaneous links of no particular new year relevance. (more…)

Published in: on January 4, 2011 at 1:23 pm  Comments (7)  

On a roll, no.2

Continuing where we left off here

Three blogs

A Very Public Sociologist

A blog by a Political Education Officer of a Labour Party branch, a former member of the Socialist Party of England and Wales, resident in the darkest Potteries, whose PhD was on British Trotskyism. Both a deservedly popular and pleasantly generous blogger, one of Phil’s regular features is listing some new blogs on the (mainly British) left. Also worth reading for his long, thoughtful posts on Marxist theory, often taking their lead from Gramsci.

Tragic Life Stories

Also from the British left, but a very different corner of it. An extremely infrequently updated blog that  focuses more or less exclusively on the sort of left sectariana that fascinates trainspottery types like me, from the perspective of Communist Students, a loosely affiliated section of the CPGB. Get the dirt on the Communist Party of Britain, the Revolutionary Communist Party, and other sects.

Totalitarianism Today

A fascinating blog, which I don’t visit often enough. Good-looking, intelligent, erudite. Read about Alexander Blok and the internet, Octave Mirbeau on the voters’ strike, the non-friendship between Golda Meir and Hannah Arendt, and lots more. Check out some of the names from a daunting list of intellectual kin:  Dwight MacdonaldCzeslaw MiloszIsaac Bashevis SingerIsaiah BerlinNicolae IorgaRandolph BourneRaymond AronSimone WeilVaclav HavelVoltairine de CleyreWalter Benjamin.

Tony Cliff: A World to Win

A hagiographic blog created by a true believer over three months in 2009. Tony Cliff, the heterodox Trotskyist leader who came to Britain shortly after WWII, broke with the official movement over his (correct) belief that the Soviet Union was state capitalist and not a deformed workers’ state, and went on to lead “the smallest mass party in history”, the IS, later the SWP. Many of his twists and turns, particularly after around 1980, were emphatically in the wrong direction, but Cliff was one of the (few) towering geniuses of post-Trotsky Trotskyism. This site is a great work of “citizen scholarship”, both archiving and providing very informative introductions and contextualisations to Cliff’s political developments.

Three Way Fight

This blog is the platform for a North American political tendency, primarily inspired by Don Hamerquist, a veteran of the American New Left and specifically of the Sojourner Truth OrganizationThis post by Mike S, one of the key members of the tendency, sums up their position, i.e. that revolutionary forces are engaged in a fight with capitalism, but also with reactionary forms of anti-capitalism. For related reading, check this post at Gathering Forces. The blog is very interesting, but I wish they would put a bit more work into it!

Three non-blogs

Young Democratic Socialists

This is the site of the youth arm of Democratic Socialists of America. My politics draw on four or five distinct political traditions, including anarchism, left communism, centrist Marxism, Trotskyism, and democratic socialism. That last tradition is the tradition of Eugene Debs, Norman Thomas, Michael Harrington, Irving Howe and Bayard Rustin – the tradition of Democratic Socialists of America. From the label on the tin:

Democratic Socialists believe that both the economy and society should be run democratically to meet the needs of all, not to merely make profits for a select few. Democratic Socialism is a philosophy based on empowerment, liberty, democracy, and feminism, where community well being and individual development are the metrics of success.  We advocate for stronger public goods like universal healthcare and free higher education in addition to more democracy in the work place.  Our method is one of empowering communities and engaging in the politics of the possible while being guided by our ideals.

I don’t really have anything else to say about these guys.

Victor Serge Papers

Victor Serge, you may have noticed, is one of my heroes. He stands at the intersection of all of the traditions mentioned above. This is the website of his papers at Yale University.

The Victor Serge Papers contain correspondence; writings; immigration and identification documents for Serge and his wife, Liouba; death masks of Serge and of Leon Trotsky; and various materials concerning Serge (including correspondence, clippings, and photocopies of writings) that were collected by his son, Vlady Kibalchich. The correspondence includes letters between Serge and his wife, son, and other relatives; a few letters between third parties; letters between Serge and his friends and colleagues, including André Breton, Michael Fraenkel, André Gide, Julián Gorkin, Daniel Guérin, Lucien Laurat, Dwight Macdonald, Jean Malaquais, Marcel Martinet, Magdeleine Marx (Paz), Emmanuel Mounier, Natalii︠a︡ Ivanovna Trot︠s︡kai︠a︡, Leon Trotsky, Leon Werth, and Maurice Wullens; and letters between Serge and publishing companies, journals, and organizations, including The New Leader and Partido Obrero de Unificación Marxista.
The writings include holograph and typescript notes and drafts for Serge’s articles, books (including “L’Affaire Toulaév”, “Les Derniers temps”, and “Mémoires d’un révolutionnaire”, among others) and poems. There are also several notebooks, including two daybooks for 1936.

Victor Serge Internet Archive

And this is the Serge section of the wonderful Marxist Internet Archive, the current contents of which are below the fold. (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)  

Poumelated

First, an endorsement for TC’s “blogging notes”:


Famous Bloggers.

While waiting for the results of this morning’s start of the  French Day of Action against Pension Reform here are some long overdue Blogging Notes.

Phil, the Very Public Sociologist (whose site covers with verve Theory, Politics and grass-roots activity) observed a few months back that many left Bloggers had got the taste from their time on the UK Left Network Yahoo list. The hard-fought wars played out on this forum have no doubt shaped us. Some predicted that Blogging would mean we ended up ploughing our own course, with ever-decreasing contact with reality. Has this happened? It is interesting that many of these Blogs successfully integrate activism, writing immediate posts, and articles for the socialist press.

Amongst those which are always of interest are: Organised Rage – Mick covers of a wide range of issues, particularly Irish ones, and his obituaries of labour movement figures – the latter of great value. Harpy Marx writes of her London activism, with film reviews and wonderful photos. Her in-depth knowledge of welfare makes her a leader in the field. Stroppy, a collective Blog, is entertaining with a direct insight into the doings of the London RMT. Marashajane in Union Futures integrates her work as a member of the Labour Representation Committee with East London left union and Labour politics. Anna Chen produces a professional Blog with wit. Her defence of China is carried  further by Socialist UnityDave’s Part, Dave Osler’s Blog, manages to directly address the kind of political issues a wider public talks about. Dolphinarium swims on, in-between month-long glasses of wine.

Harry’s Place – whose founder believe or not originated on UKLN – has defended Israel more and more vociferously. Its Ezraitist phase, fighting the Cold War by re-heating Google left-overs, overshadows its continuing useful role as an exposer of Islamism and its apologists.

Other Blogs worth noting: Shiraz Socialist – for its against-the-grain attacks and good sense about Islamism. Rosie Bell, raising the cultural tone. Bob From Brockley offers an indispensable round-up of left Blogging, and recently wrote a superb history of the RCP/Living MarxismPoumista covers with rigour the kind of left the Tendance comes from. The Spanish Prisoner does great film reviews, and – a real source of new information – explains life on the Dole as an American leftist. Entdinglichung covers such a range of European leftist news, history and theory, that one wonders how he manages it. Beyond the Transition is essential reading on the former Eastern Bloc.

“Her defence of China is carried  further by Socialist Unity.” Carried a little too far in my view!

Also, a doff of the hat to Kellie, for History by Radio, with lots of wonderful radio and history links, including these:

I’ve also been revisiting the How We Got Here history podcast from PRI’s The World. From August, Jeb Sharp interviews film maker Yael Hersonski on her documentary A Film Unfinished, an investigation into the making of Nazi propaganda footage of the Warsaw Ghetto from 1942. More on the project from Bloomberg.

_

More recently from The World, yesterday in fact, Lisa Mullins interviews Cuban artist Inverna Lockpez on her experiences in joining Castro’s revolution, and how she became a casualty of the revolution. Comic artist Dean Haspiel has drawn an adaptation of her story, Cuba, My Revolution. His account of the project is here, and there’s an exhibition of art from the book currently at the Kentler International Drawing Space, Brooklyn. Inverna Lockpez’s own art is here. In the later part of the interview, she talks about coming to the US in the ’60s, still a liberal, but experiencing a difference with fellow artists of the American left:

…I could not talk about Fidel with my friends, with my artist friends, because they adore him, and they adore Che […] Che Guevara is an idol for so many individuals, and they don’t know who Che was really, and after fifty one years people are still looking at Fidel like the saviour, the one that has stood against the Americans.

Finally, from the afore-mentioned Shiraz Socialist, the great Jim Denham channelling James Cannon again, this time on the miracle that is the rescue of the Chilean miners. Jim has single-handedly made me reconsider by very negative views of Cannon, views accumulated as a disciple of Al Richardson and Sam Bornstein.

More catching up

This was meant to be in my last round-up: Don’t blame Bevan, a robust defence of Nye against the Kinnockite scum.

The author, Carl, also has a piece on Christopher Hitchens and prayer and Andrew Coates has a long and very good review of Christopher Hitchens’ Hitch 22. This provokes quite a long comment thread, involving our comrades Mick Hall and Mike Ezra, who recounts the debate in a post at Harry’s Place entitled A Debate with the Indecent Left. The Coatesy comment thread, unlike more or less any at Harry’s Place, is well worth reading.

Meanwhile, as Carl informs me, a furore has raged in the pokier corners of the leftiesphere about said Place, specifically the association with it of one Terry FitzPatrick, street-fighting man, veteran anti-racist and, erm, bon viveur, recently arrested for racism in relation to statements made to Simon Woolley of Operation Black Vote and Lee Jasper, black liberation tsar. (When I lived in Brixton, Jasper’s names featured prominently in local graffiti, which described him as a police informer, on which I will not pass comment). Here‘s Andrew again, but more relevant are posts by Richard Seymour, Lee Jasper and especially this series at Socialist Unity: 1, 2, 3, 4. Here are the charges against Fitz, to which he is pleading not guilty. I won’t weigh in on this debate (although the links to HP posts in the following paragraphs will show that I am not chopping them out of my on-line life) except to note that Woolley and Jasper’s faith in bourgeois law as a tool to punish alleged racists is rather in contradiction to their disregard for due process in making a big deal of this before the court rules – in contrast, say, to Paul Stott, an anarchist who prefers not to upset the legal proceedings.

Some unrelated things: Lucha, lucha, lucha! (Mexican wrestling superhero activist comics). Diane Abbott is the real (Ralph) Miliband. The sins of the grandchildren (obliquely Milibandist and related to this). Ron Radosh on the hubris of Peter Beinart and the politics of Father Coughlin and on Howard Zinn’s FBI files. Alan Milburn’s Trotskyist past. The miracle of News Line.

Umissable: John Sweeney’s World Service documentary on Stalin’s “useful idiots“.

Jimmy Reid: Last of the great Clyde-built liners slips off; Jimmy Reid addresses supporters of the sit-in in 1971; YouTube Remembering a comrade: Jimmy Reid. A great round-up of obituaries at Socialist Unity (featuring Joan McAlpine, Paul Corby from Labour Uncut, Councillor Terry Kelly, Mick Hall and Johanna Baxter from Labour List), to which we can add Francis Sedgemore and John McTernan in the Daily Telegraph.

Marxist theory: AVPS on Gramsci, internal class divisions and the party; Alex Snowdon on the united front; Duncan Hallas on the united front; Tony McKenna on Lukacs and class consciousness; David Mitchell on autonomism versus democratic centralism; Permanent Revolution say it’s all Lenin’s fault.

History notes: Chris Nineham on Harold Isaac on the Chinese revolution; Summit Sarkar on a Marxian history of India; Poplar 1921; Peterloo 1819; Carry On Barcelona 1937; the British Library and the Czech Legion; Anarcho-philately;

From the archives: Socialist Standard 1924The Blackshirt 1935; International Socialism 1975 (Hallas on the Comintern and the united front); Workers Power 1980Socialist Worker Review 1990 (Callinicos reviews Tariq Ali).

To add to the blogroll if they’re not already there: Divergenta, Reifying the leftIn praise of small things, Enchanted Alphabet (via Airforce Amazons, in praise of the mantilla).


Catching up belatedly

Welcome back to the sphere On A Raised Beach, whose un-explained departure caused some concern. La Brigada has been reading Vasily Grossman.

Thanks to Mikey E, my most devoted fan, for the huge amount of traffic I got from Harryistas when he re-posted my material on the Stalinist victims of the anti-Stalinist SWP’s Stalinist practices.

More Harryism: Armin Rosen on Ian Buruma comparing Christopher Hitchens to the Marxist supporters of Japan in WWII.

Left Harryism: Raincoat Optimism on Hugo Chavez.

Totally un-related: The State as a Social Relationship: Gustav Landauer Revived – Dov Neuman of Jewdas interviews Gabriel Kuhn. More on this some other time. Maybe.

Also totally un-related: Coatesy on Koestler and Coatesy on Vincere.

To add to the blogroll: In the hands of the many.

I need quite a bit of time to catch up with: Arthur Bough.

Published in: on August 6, 2010 at 11:50 am  Comments (4)  
Tags: , , ,

Grrrr…

UPDATE: An amendment beneath the fold.

It is not the purpose of this blog to get involved in contemporary political debates, even very trivial ones. But I was incensed at the nonsense spouted by Andy Newman, top socialist blogger, in the comment thread here.

It is not of course unheard of for anarchists to find common ground with fascists.

Sergio Pannunzio and Filippo Corradini went so far as to join Mussolini’s fascisti and become the main ideologues of Italian fascism, while still considering themselves anarchists.[…]

am saying that a certain type of ‘ squadristi ‘ mindset, which stresses localism, is broadly “anti-politics”, and a mythical shared community of working class life is a phenomenon that is mirrored on both the right and in some anarchist circles.

The fact that some anarchists in London are prepared to take time off from their PhD dissertations in order to condemn “Islamic extremeism” at precisley the time when media hysteria against such alleged extremism is being used to seek to demonise and marginalise mainstream Muslim activists is an illustration of what little grasp of politics you really have.

Ian Bone deals with the smears here.

One thing to add: “squadristi” is a term of abuse with a history.* It was used by the Italian Stalinists to smear the independent working class anti-fascist movement when the latter refused Communist control. It was later taken up by the SWP in the late 1970s, an essentially Stalinist party in form if not in content, to smear their working class former comrades who went on to form Red Action.

Bonus link: the Whitechapel Anarchist Group. (more…)

Poumite

Today’s  batch is small, and hardly perfectly formed.

Some great vermischtes from comrade Enty, including muscular Quakerism, right-wing folk music and lots more.

An interview with Nick Cohen on Iraq, the Left and the anti-globalisation movement  (via andy). Also: Johann Hari on Chomsky, Hitchens, Iraq, and anarchism.

Neal Ascherson on Charles De Gaulle’s memory.

Jim Denham on Larkin and Bechet.

Rosa Luxemburg on the Leninists.

Chinese imperialism in Latin America (via Ent.).

From the Archives: Irving Howe and Stanley Plastrik, “After the Mideast War” (a propos of Peter Beinart, ex-Cold Warrior now darling of the liberal anti-Zionists).

Published in: on June 18, 2010 at 5:14 pm  Leave a Comment  

Spring/Autumn notes

Spring up here, but Autumn down there. Some extracts from Andy’s notes:

Anarchism / History

Wisdom earned the hard way – “The Tragic Procession: Alexander Berkman and Russian Prisoner Aid” [Review]:

It is not news to report that the Bolsheviks destroyed the anarchist movement in the Soviet Union. But how, and what were the consequences? These reprinted bulletins from the Joint Committee for the Defense of Revolutionists Imprisoned in Russia and the Relief Fund of the International Working Men’s Association for Anarchists and Anarcho-Syndicalists Imprisoned or Exiled in Russia show it as it happened. They ‘shed a little light on the struggles of our comrades and keep their names alive’ (p.x)…

See alsoBlack Flag: Bulletin of the Anarchist Black Cross (April 14, 2009) | The Unknown Revolution, 1917-1921 by Voline (1882-1945) | Leninist critiques of anarchism (March 25, 2010).

State/Politics / Trot Guide

Another call for unity on the left, this time by SA in Victoria (Socialism of the 21st century’ and left unity): “In Victoria this year we will most likely have both federal and state elections. It would be a real step forward if all socialist groups publicly supported the candidates of other socialist organisations (Socialist Alliance, Socialist Party, Revolutionary Socialist Party and Communist Party of Australia) and advocated a first-preference vote for them.”

The Socialist Equality Party — the Australian section of the International Committee of the Fourth International (ICFI), the world party of socialist revolution — is not included in this list, probably not without reason, as the SEP only make reference to the SA in order to denounce it, whereas the SA do what most everybody else does with regards the SEP, and ignore it.

    Links — which is published by SA nee DSP — has published a statement by COSATU on “the brutal murder of Eugene Terre’Blanche on April 3, 2010″. Oddly, for an Australian-based publication, Links is most popular in the US, and by a fairly wide margin.

It’s unlikely — to put it mildly — that SA or any of the other Marxists parties will trouble any former lawyers as they make their way to their rightful place to a seat in State Parliament — although stranger things have happened. For my money — and keep in mind I live below the poverty line — the only possible exception would be inner-city Melbourne, where several seats — Brunswick, Melbourne, Northcote and Richmond — which are otherwise the property of Labor are under pressure from The Greens.

See alsoWhat happened to the Left? (February 27, 2010).

[…]

History / Media / Music

History is Made at Night – The Politics of Dancing and Musicking is neat-o, especially1990: Trafalgar Square Memories (March 31, 2010), which is all about how the Militant saved the day… or not.

The bad old days will end is “Home of the Freedom Pass Anarchists and the wonderful world of professional wrestling, psychogeography, allotments and the class struggle.” The author writes: “On the day that I retired from my final job as a lockkeeper I left the following on the wall… I started work at fifteen years of age. Worked on the river and at sea but I also worked in factories and fields. In the circus and in films. I never achieved much. But I never crossed a picket line. Never judged a fellow worker by their colour or creed nor sucked up to the bosses for my own ends. Pretty much sums it all up.”

See alsoRefuting the stupid left’s charge sheet against Orwell (March 29, 2010).#

Also from History is Made at Night:

Stars Campaign for Inter-Racial Friendship: rock against racism in the 1950s? (Trad jazz versus the White Defence League)

Dancing at the Peckham Experiment (anarchism, social democracy, and dancing)

On Hugo Chavez, defender of Iranian theocracy, and his defenders in the Trotskyist movement:

Via Andy again, and relevant to this:

Iranian Revolutionary Marxists’ Tendency: The Clique and Chavez’s policy towards the IRI

Criticism of Chavez by Iranian labour activists and Marxists is nothing new. (more…)

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