Sixty years ago: Death of Frida Kahlo

From On This Deity:

“They thought I was a Surrealist, but I wasn’t. I never painted dreams. I painted my own reality.”

…and Frida’s reality was a lifetime of extreme physical pain and tortuous suffering, punctuated with a tempestuous emotional turbulence.

Artist Frida Kahlo was born in 1907, the daughter of Hungarian Jewish father and indigenous Mexican mother. She grew up in Mexico City at a time when Mexicans were beginning to take great pride in their native culture and traditions. Frida was proud of her pre-Columbian heritage and wore local costume, including long embroidered skirts in bright colours, big silver earrings, flowers, and jewellery from the folk tradition. Her distinctive look gave her a brand, yet averted attention from her tiny, weak, disabled body. (more…)

Eighty years ago: the death of Nestor Makhno

From On This Deity:

Today we recall the Ukrainian revolutionary leader, Nestor Makhno, who died seventy-seven years ago on this day in poverty, illness and oblivion. Fellow exiles who had watched Makhno drink and cough himself to death in the slums of Paris could scarcely believe the tragic fate that had befallen the legendary “Little Father” of Ukraine who, just fifteen years earlier, had been one of the most heroic, glamorous and indefatigable figures of the Russian civil war and the inciter of one of the few historic examples of a living anarchist society. As the leader of the Revolutionary Insurrectionary Army of Ukraine, this self-educated peasant-born military genius had waged wildly creative guerrilla war against native tyrants, foreign interlopers and counter-revolutionaries. On behalf of what was always an uneasy alliance with the Red Army, Makhno’s forces had twice immobilised the seemingly unstoppable White advance in South Russia; indeed, so decisive were these against-all-odds victories that the Bolsheviks might never have won the civil war and consolidated power but for Makhno and his insurgent peasants. As the instigator, military protector and namesake of Ukraine’s simultaneous anarchist revolution – the Makhnovshchina – few have come closer than Nestor Makhno to establishing an anarchist nation. For nearly a year between 1919 and 1920, some 400 square miles of Ukraine was reorganised into an autonomous region known as the “Free Territory” in which farms and factories were collectively run and goods traded directly with collectives elsewhere. In his heyday, Nestor Makhno was an unmitigated living legend and folk hero – a real-life Robin Hood and proto-Che. But by the time of his death at the age of forty-six, so comprehensively dragged through the filthiest, shittiest mud was the name of this once unassailable revolutionary that it has yet to fully recover. So what happened? (more…)

Fifty years ago: the execution of Francisco Granados and Joaquin Data Martinez Delgado

From on this deity (1910): 

Forty-seven years ago today, in 1963, two young Spanish anarchists were executed by General Franco’s obscene regime for a Passport Office bombing of which they had no knowledge, while the real perpetrators slipped quietly away. Despite the absence of any evidence of their involvement, Francisco Granados (27) and Joaquin Data Martinez Delgado (29) – both members of the anti-Franco movement called the Iberian Federation of Libertarian Youth – were interrogated, brutally tortured, tried behind closed doors and executed by garotte at Franco’s notorious Carabanchel Prison, and all of this in just eighteen days after having been arrested.

For many, these unfortunates were but two more victims of an unrestrained and merciless tyrant estimated to have executed almost two million non-combatants between 1939-75, during his arduous near four-decade-long reign of terror. But what separated this grotesque event from the rest of Franco’s merciless pogroms against his own people was that it took place not at the chaotic post-Civil War beginning of his ‘reign’, but twenty-four grueling years into his rule, and during this cynical tyrant’s attempt to pass off his regime as ‘respectable’ to the rest of the Western World. For, as a resurgent wave of underground resistance began –throughout 1963 – to rise up from the ashes of violent repression, General Franco openly recommenced his policy of institutionalised revenge and intent to eradicate from Spain all democrats, liberals, socialists and – above all others – his most-despised enemies from the war, the communists and anarchists. (more…)

On this day 100 years ago: Bonnot Gang executions

From the Modern School:
April, 21, 1913 –Andre Soudy and Raymond Callemin, members of the anarchist Bonnot Gang, were executed. Callemin had started the individualist paper “L’anarchie” withVictor Serge. The Bonnot Gang was a band of French anarchists (plus Serge, who was Russian) who tried to fund their movement through robberies in 1911-1912. The Bonnot Gang was unique, not only for their politics, but for their innovative use of technology, too. They were among the first to use cars and automatic rifles to help them steal, technology that even the French police were not using. While many of the gang members were sentenced to death, Serge got five years and eventually  went on to participate in (and survive) the Barcelona and Soviet uprisings. Later, while living in exile, Serge wrote The Birth of Our Power. (From the Daily Bleed and Wikipedia)
Published in: on March 21, 2013 at 5:37 pm  Comments (1)  
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On this day 100 years ago: Mother Jones

Workers' Memorial Day poster Pray for the dead...

From the Modern School:
February 12, 1913 – Mary Harris “Mother” Jones led a protest against conditions in the West Virginia mines was arrested. (On May 8, newly-elected Governor Hatfield releases her from jail.) A government official once called Mary Jones “The most dangerous woman in America.” She was still out there at age 83. No rockin’ chair for her… (From the Daily Bleed)
Published in: on February 12, 2013 at 3:03 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Robert Capa

From Getty Images:

 

01 Jan 1938
A portrait of Hungarian-born photojournalist Robert Capa (1913 – 1954) used to introduce an article, featuring his pictures of the Spanish Civil War, in Picture Post, 3rd December 1938. (Photo by Pict… Read more
By: Picture Post
Collection: Hulton Archive
People: Robert Capa

Via Jonathan Woods, who has the full un-watermarked image.

 

Published in: on January 11, 2013 at 10:57 am  Leave a Comment  
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On this day

Via the Modern School blog:

January 7, 1919 – This date marked the beginning of Argentina’s “Bloody Week” (AKA Tragic Week) in Buenos Aires. Workers (led by Italian anarchists) were demonstrating for the 8-hour work day and were fired upon by the authorities, leaving four dead and nearly 30 wounded. Clashes with the authorities on the day of the funerals left another 50 dead. A General Strike was called and strikers were attacked by trade union reformists and paramilitary groups collaborating with the police. By January 16 the strike was crushed, with as many as 700 dead and 2000 wounded, many of whom were Jewish-Russian immigrants targeted by racists and anti-Bolshevik hysteria.(From the Daily Bleed and Wikipedia)
January 7, 1939 – Tom Mooney, a labor activist wrongly convicted of murder in the San Francisco Preparedness Day bombing in July 1916, was freed after 22 ½ years in jail, granted an unconditional pardon by Governor Culbert Olson.(From the Daily Bleed)
Published in: on January 7, 2013 at 2:05 am  Leave a Comment  
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75 years ago: killed by fascist bombs

From Getty Images:

13 Nov 1937
Bodies of children awaiting burial after a Nationalist air raid on their school at Barcelona during the Spanish Civil War. (Photo by Keystone/Getty Images)
By: Keystone
Collection: Hulton Archive
Published in: on November 13, 2012 at 10:55 am  Comments (3)  
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Hands off Suez! Hands off Hungary!

From Entdinglichung:

Hands off Suez! Hands off Hungary! (pdf file, 1.13 mb), a 1956 brochure from the anti-Stalinist Marxist Vanguard circle around Walter Kendall (1926-2003), which opposes the imperialist intervention in Suez and the Soviet intervention in Hungary and seeks to popularize these positions in the TUC:

Published in: on October 29, 2012 at 12:56 am  Comments (3)  
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On this day 100 years ago: Bread and Roses

N.Y. - Lawrence strike meeting (LOC)

N.Y. – Lawrence strike meeting (LOC) (Photo credit: The Library of Congress)

From the Modern School:

September 30, 1912 – The Lawrence, MassachusettsBread and Roses” textile strike was in full swing. On this date, 12,000 textile workers walked out of mills to protest the arrests of two leaders of the strike. Police clubbed strikers and arrested many, while the bosses fired 1,500. IWW co-founder Big Bill Haywood threatened another general strike to get the workers reinstated. Strike leaders Arturo Giovannitti and Joe Ettor were eventually acquitted 58 days later. (From Workday Minnesota)

Music Mondays: Woody Guthrie at 100

[This post is cross-posted from Bob's Beats]

Saturday would have been Woody Guthrie’s 100th birthday (thanks to Carl for blogging about this already). Woody Guthrie is one of my favourite singers, and surely one of the greatest ever songwriters as well as a great American radical. As a wordsmith, he is up there with Bob Dylan (whose whole oeuvre is un-imaginable without Guthrie’s influence), with John Steinbeck or Kenneth Patchen.

My mother brought me up on Woody, and I believe her parents brought her up on him. I’ve passed him on to my sons, who sing songs like “Pretty Boy Floyd” and the Car Song.

A number of blogs have featured nice tributes to him: my comrade Jim Denham at Shiraz Socialist, Ernie at 27 Leggies, and Boyhowdy at Cover Lay Down. That last one is covers, of which Jeffrey Foucault’s “Philadelphia Lawyer“, John McCutcheon’ “1913 Massacre“, Pierce Pettis’ “Pastures Of Plenty” and Slaid Cleaves‘ “This Morning I Am Born Again” are particularly good. Beck is not up there with them, but is surprisingly good.

I’ve written a fair amount on Woody before, at BobFromBrockley and Poumista. Here’s some links: “Folk music”, folk music, trad jazz, and the trad left; This Land Is Our Land; Good and bad versions of Deportees; Our Humanly Race; Stalinist songs of the Spanish Civil War (scroll down); Jesus Christ; We Shall Be Free; Vigilante Man; Hobo’s Lullaby.

Like Jim, I have reservations about a hagiographic approach to Woody Guthrie, who was at the very least a close fellow traveller of the Communist Party at a time when the Stalinist regime was committing some of the worst crimes of the twentieth century. (Jim recommends Scott Borchert’s very interesting “Woody Guthrie: Redder than Remembered” from Monthly Review.) But that does not diminish him as an artist in my eyes.

I’ve had a hard time choosing which song to accompany with post with, but I think “Jesus Christ”, which Carl’s post featured, is the right one:

Published in: on July 16, 2012 at 4:26 pm  Comments (3)  
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On this day in history

JPG image of the National Industrial Recovery ...

Image via Wikipedia

From Modern Education:

 June 16, 1836 – The London Working Men’s Association was formed, launching the Chartist movement.The Chartists took their name from the People’s Charter, which demanded universal suffrage for men, regardless of social class. (From the Daily Bleed)
June 16, 1848 – The Berlin arsenal was captured by rebellious citizens. The “German Revolutions” of 1848 swept across 50 European states, mostly affiliated with the German Confederation and Austria. While the middle classes were fighting for a unified German state and increased civil liberties, the working class had more revolutionary aspirations. Participants in the revolution included communist and anarchist revolutionaries like Marx, Engels and Mikhail Bakunin, as well as the composer Wagner. (From the Daily Bleed)
June 16, 1869 – In the small mining town of Ricamarie, France, troops were called in to suppress a workers’ strike, opening fire on demonstrators protesting the arrest of 40 workers, killing 14 (including a 17-month-old girl in her mother’s arms) and wounding 60 others (including 10 children). (From the Daily Bleed)

June 16, 1873
 – Susan B. Anthony was arrested for voting. (From the Daily Bleed)

 

June 16, 1918 –Eugene Debs delivered his famous Canton, Ohio anti-war Speech. America was at war with Germany, at the time, and radicals were being routinely rounded up and jailed, often illegally, when Debs gave this speech. The new Espionage Act was being used to prosecute people for their opposition to the war and Deb’s speech was used to make the case that he had violated the Act. (From the Daily Bleed)
June 16, 1920 – The U.S. Marines began fighting in Haiti to defend U.S. “interests” there. (From the Daily Bleed)
June 16, 1933 - President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed the National Industrial Recovery Act, which recognized the right of workers to organize and bargain collectively through unions. The legislation was later found unconstitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court. However, it helped inspire a wave of union organizing and pave the way for the National Labor Relations Act, which was passed in 1935. (From Workday Minnesota)
International Brigadiers at the Battle of Belchite

June 16, 1937 – The Trotskyist POUM, a significant constituent of the Spanish Republican forces (and the group with which George Orwell fought) was outlawed and its militants persecuted by the counter-revolutionary Stalinists and the Republic’s police, thus making the Republic and the Stalinists more vulnerable to the fascists. (From the Daily Bleed). For a good fictionalization of the Spanish war against the fascists, and the POUM’s and anarchist’s betrayal by the Stalinists, see Ken Loach’s Tierra y Libertad.

June 16, 1953 – Jack Hall of the ILWU and six others (the “Hawai‘i Seven”) were convicted under the Smith Act for being communists. (From the Daily Bleed)

This day in 1903: George Orwell born

109 Jahre George Orwell

“I was born in 1903 at Motihari, Bengal, the second child of an Anglo-Indian family. I was educated at Eton, 1917-21, as I had been lucky enough to win a scholarship, but I did no work there and learned very little, and I don’t feel that Eton has been much of a formative influence in my life…”
Published in: on June 25, 2012 at 9:56 am  Comments (1)  
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75 years ago today: Orwell flees Spain

The square in Barcelona re-named in honour of George Orwell

On the morning of June 23rd 1937, George Orwell boarded a train at Barcelona station with his wife, Eileen, and two companions, John McNair and Stafford Cottman. The train was bound for the French border and Orwell (or Eric Blair – he had yet to adopt his now famous nom de plume) was posing as a wealthy English businessman travelling with his wife and associates. In reality, they were fugitives, hunted not only by the fascist forces they’d come to Spain to fight, but also by the communists. McNair was leader of a contingent of fighters organised by the Independent Labour Party (ILP) who had left England to try and stem the rising fascist tide. This small group of revolutionaries and idealists – one among many such groups from all over the world –included Orwell. Prior to boarding the train that morning he had spent much of the previous six months in the trenches until a sniper’s bullet pierced his throat. By the time he’d sufficiently recovered to leave hospital, the internal divisions within the anti-fascist forces had shattered whatever slim chances they’d had of defeating Franco and his allies. [READ THE REST, from Jim Bliss]

Published in: on June 23, 2012 at 8:05 am  Comments (1)  
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75 years ago today: the May Days

Thanks to Liz for a link to the wonderful Warwick Spanish Civil War archive, Trabajadores. It includes a timeline. Here’s where we are now, roughly:

Barcelona Bulletin
3-8 May
‘Events of May’ in Barcelona: Divisions between different Republican groups (Communists, socialists and anarchists) result in street fighting. Those killed include the trade union leader and socialist politician Antonio Sesé, and the Italian anarchists Camillo Berneri and Franco Barbieri.

And loads of great material from entdinglichung:

aus gegebenem Anlass:

* George Orwell: Mein Katalonien (Nemesis)

Manifesto & Policy of the POUM during the Barcelona May Days (La Bataille Socialiste)

* Augustin Souchy: The Tragic Week in May (The Struggle Site)

* Grandizo Munis: The Spanish Left in its Own Words (Marxists Internet Archive)

* Hugo Oehler: Barricades in Barcelona (Revolutionary History)

* Waldemar Bolze: Where are the Real Saboteurs? (Revolutionary History)

* Andreu Nin: The May Days in Barcelona (Marxists Internet Archive)

* Katia Landau: Stalinism in Spain (Marxists Internet Archive)

75 years ago: bloody end of May days, Barcelona

The Barcelona offices of the CNT.

Image via Wikipedia

May 7
The fighting in Barcelona concludes, with more than 500 dead and over 1500 wounded. Many are still under illegal arrest in several Communist-controlled police stations, militia barracks and secret prisons.
May 8
In Barcelona, police find the horribly mutilated bodies of 12 murdered young men. Eight of the bodies are so mutilated that they cannot be identified. The four identified bodies belong to young anarchists, illegally arrested together with eight friends on May 4 outside the Communist militia barracks in Barcelona, when they were passing by on a truck with “CNT” written on it. The names of the identified young men are: Cesar Fernández Neri, Jose Villena, Juan Antonio, and Luis Carneras. Police also found the dead bodies of the Italian anarchist professor Camillo Berneri and two of his friends, who were arrested during the May incidents by Communist militias. (As squads of Communist Party of Spain members (apparently under orders from Joseph Stalin) took to the streets in order to hunt down leading anarchists, Berneri had been dragged from his home and murdered. His body, riddled with bullets, was found during the night, near the headquarters of the Generalitat de Catalunya.)

Via Wikipedia

Also read:

75 years ago: May days, Barcelona

Bank note from the Generalitat de Catalunya, 1936.

Image via Wikipedia

May 5

Luis Companys obtains a fragile truce between the different fighting groups, on the basis of which Rodriguez Salas, now blamed for the police action against the telephone central, has to resign. Communist commandos are still arresting people. Wikipedia

May 6

“Neutral” police troops from Valencia arrive in Barcelona to stop the fighting. The 5,000 Assault Guards (chosen more or less carefully for their political opinions, to ensure a “neutral” force and the trust of both sides) occupy several strategic points throughout the city. The workers abandon the barricades and the telephone central is handed over to the government. When the Assault Guards enter the city and passed by the central building of the anarchist CNT, several hundreds of them salute the black and red Anarchist flag on the building. Nevertheless, reprisals against the anti-Stalinist left are starting throughout the Republic.

Published in: on May 5, 2012 at 9:14 am  Comments (3)  
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Gernika/Hamburg

Here.

Published in: on April 28, 2012 at 9:05 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Today in 1939: Spanish refugees

At Getty Images:

01 Feb 1939
1st February 1939: Two members of a rescue party assist an elderly woman fleeing the Spanish Civil War. (Photo by Topical Press Agency/Getty Images)

 

 

01 Jan 1939
circa 1939: Wounded Loyalist at the special commissary’s office at Le Perthus, Spain. (Photo by Three Lions/Getty Images)
By: Three Lions
Collection: Hulton Archive

 

01 Jan 1939
FRANCE – CIRCA 1939: War of Spain. Exodus. France, February 1939. RV-221838. (Photo by Gaston Paris/Roger Viollet/Getty Images)
By: Gaston Paris
Collection: Roger Viollet

Via Jonathan Woods

Published in: on February 19, 2012 at 10:47 am  Leave a Comment  

Today in 1939: Returning from Spain

From Getty Images:

01 Jan 1939
Irish volunteers injured during the Spanish Civil War arrive back in Dublin. (Photo by Keystone/Getty Images)
By: Keystone
Collection: Hulton Archive
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