From the archive of struggle no.75: anti-Stalinist Leninism in the 1930s (MIA special)

It’s months now since I’ve looked through the Marxist Internet Archive. Since I’ve last been there, loads of really good stuff is up. The below is just from November and December last year, and it covers a period from ca.1930 to ca.1940 which was pivotal in the development of the anti-Stalinist left.

The material here focuses on three overlapping currents in this anti-Stalinist left. The first is the POUM, the Spanish party whose name this blog’s is taken from, who fused the “left” and “right” opposition in Spain to the official Stalinist Communist party, to form a democratic mass movement of radical socialism, before being liquidated by the Stalinists in during the Spanish Civil War.

The second is the Trotskyist movement, Communism’s “left” opposition. While Trotsky supplied much of the intellectual justification for Stalin’s brutal misrule in the Soviet Union, his sharp critique of the degeneration of the Stalinist state made him a criminal in the dictatorship. His followers have formed one of the main planks of anti-Stalinist socialism globally. The material below focuses mainly on American Trotskyists, but particularly those who developed beyond the rigid and damaging orthodoxies of “official” Trotskyism.

Parallel to Trotsky’s Left Opposition, the Right Opposition called for a more democratic path to socialism, and was bitterly excluded from the Communist movement. Unlike Trotksyism, it leaves little organisational trace today, and so its history remains more deeply buried.

In the period from 1930 to 1940, these currents moved from composing a dissatisfied internal dissident streak within Stalinism, to a fully developed critical analysis of Stalinism. From 1940 to 1950, they several different interesting directions forward, some positively, others less so. Between them (along with anarchist, democratic socialist and left communist currents not represented here), they constitute a significant part of the heritage of anti-Stalinism that continues to be relevant to thinking about the task of reforging a radical movement today.

The POUM

Added to the Spanish-language Archivo Andreu Nin and English-language Andrés Nin Archive:

The Catalan Andreu (or Andres in Spanish) Nin i Pérez was a left dissident in the Communist Party, forming a left opposition group Communist Left of Spain (ICE), which merged with the Right Opposition party Bloque Obrero y Campesino, to form the Workers’ Party of Marxist Unification (POUM) in 1935.

Added to the new Julián Gorkin Archive in the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL): (more…)

After the storm

Català: Placa Andreu Nin a Biblioteca Pública ...

Català: Placa Andreu Nin a Biblioteca Pública de les Rambles de Barcelona (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Gabriel Schoenfeld had an article about why he supported Mitt Romney. Bizarrely, he thanks Max Shachtman. [h/t TNC]. Eric Lee also writes on Shachtman’s legacy. Remembering Hilda Friedstein: Hashomer Hatzair activist and animal rights pioneer. James Bloodworth:  Chavez’s dark side; It’s time to give Christopher Hitchens a statue. Andrew Coates: On the left press; European revolutionaries and Algerian independence 1954-1962.

Blogging Victor Serge: A wonderful series by Adam David Morton. The Lectern on The Case of Comrade Tulayev. More links from Sarah J Young.

Blogging George Orwell: On the publication of The Road to Wigan Pier.

From WSWS: Exhibition of photographer Agustí Centelles in Barcelona: Many unanswered questions about the Spanish Civil War; Wolfgang Brenner’s Hubert in Wonderland: A life in the shadow of Stalinism; The reactionary politics of Grace Lee Boggs; The dead-end of Catalan independence.

Below the fold, some items from Entdinglichung’s Weekly Worker feature: (more…)

From the archive of struggle: the Spanish Civil War at Warwick, the Marxist Internet Archive, and more

It is a long time since I have done one of these posts, and my comrade Entdinglichung has been relaxing for a while, so we have not had the benefit of his services to the cause. First, some news (thanks Liz in a comments thread), from the Modern Records Centre in Warwick, in the UK:

Work is now underway on a major new project to digitise internationally significant archives relating to the Spanish Civil War.

The project will result in over 10,000 pages of archive material being made available online free of charge. Transcriptions will be available for every item, allowing researchers to search through the mass of material for key words or phrases.

It is anticipated that the project will be completed in Spring 2012.

What is being digitised?

The archive collection of the Trades Union Congress includes 45 files on different aspects of the conflict. The files contain correspondence, minutes, reports, memoranda and propaganda material produced by members of the British and Spanish governments; political groups; international, British and Spanish trade unions; pressure groups, aid organisations, and other interested parties.

In addition, we are also digitising a small number of publications from the collections of the Trotskyists Henry Sara and Hugo Dewar. These include examples of bulletins (in English and Spanish) produced by Partido Obrero de Unificación Marxista (POUM).

This is great news. Those interested might also be interested in some of their other digital resources:

Examples of documents relating to the conflict in Spain are included in our online resources for the History Department module ‘Anti-fascism, Resistance and Liberation in Western Europe (HI392)’. Photographs of Basque refugees in Britain are included in our image gallery ‘North Stoneham Camp for Basque Children: Snapshots of a Volunteer’.

Below is extracted from the former, and I urge you to spend some time there:

Letter from Willy Brandt of the German Seamen's Group, Oslo, to Edo Fimmen, Secretary of the International Transport Workers' Federation, 1937 Letter from Willy Brandt of the German Seamen’s Group, Oslo, to Edo Fimmen, Secretary of the International Transport Workers’ Federation, 1937Willy Brandt was Chancellor of West Germany between 1969-1974 and was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1971 for his attempts to improve relations between the East and West. As an active socialist and anti-fascist, Brandt (born Karl Herbert Frahm) fled to Norway in 1933 to avoid arrest by the Nazi authorities. It was then that Frahm adopted the new name that he would use for the remainder of his life. [Added, from Wikipedia: “After passing his Abitur in 1932 at Johanneum zu Lübeck, he became an apprentice at the shipbroker and ship’s agent F.H. Bertling. He joined the “Socialist Youth” in 1929 and the Social Democratic Party (SPD) in 1930. He left the SPD to join the more left wing Socialist Workers Party (SAP), which was allied to the POUM in Spain and the Independent Labour Party in Britain. In 1933, using his connections with the port and its ships, he left Germany for Norway to escape Nazi persecution. It was at this time that he adopted the pseudonym Willy Brandt to avoid detection by Nazi agents. In 1934, he took part in the founding of the International Bureau of Revolutionary Youth Organizations, and was elected to its Secretariat.” -Poumista][Included in the records of the International Transport Workers’ Federation, document reference: MSS.159/3/C/A/52]
'The Spanish Revolution', Bulletin of the Workers' Party of Marxist Unification (POUM), 3 February 1937 ‘The Spanish Revolution’, Bulletin of the Workers’ Party of Marxist Unification (POUM), 3 February 1937English language bulletin published in Barcelona. This edition counters Communist or Stalinist accusations against POUM. One of the inside pages also includes a reference to a visit to the offices of the publication by “the well-known British author” Eric Blair [George Orwell].[One of a series of publications on the Spanish Civil War from the papers of Henry Sara, Trotskyist; document reference: MSS.15/3/8/255/9]
'Barcelona Bulletin', second edition, 15 May 1937 ‘Barcelona Bulletin’, second edition, 15 May 1937Anarchist news sheet describing the fighting between the Communists, and the anarchists and the Trotskyists (POUM) in Barcelona. It includes reports by Jane H. Patrick and Ethel Macdonald on events between 5-9 May.[One of a series of publications on the Spanish Civil War from the papers of Henry Sara, Trotskyist; document reference: MSS.15/3/8/243]

More archival news from the Alliance for Workers Liberty:

The archives of the Alliance for Workers’ Liberty and our forerunners, deposited at the library of the London School of Economics, are now catalogued and available to researchers. http://archives.lse.ac.uk/TreeBrowse.aspx?src=CalmView.Catalog&field=RefNo&key=AWL The archives include all the documents and publications of the AWL and our forerunners except the most recent stuff, which is on this website or (in the case of more recent minutes of AWL committees) in electronic archives available to AWL members.

The rest of this post is a round-up of some of the main radical digital archive sites.

From HathiTrust:

From Robert Graham:

At the Kate Sharpley Library:

  • Iron Column by Abel Paz printedThe story of the Iron Column: militant anarchism in the Spanish Civil War by Abel Paz, a Kate Sharpley Library copublication with AK Press, is back from the printers. If you can’t wait until we get copies, AK are already selling it at: http://www.akpress.org/2011/items/storyoftheironcolumn
  • New publication: Anarchism In Galicia : Organisation, Resistance and Women in the UndergroundThe Anarchist movement in Galicia is unknown to English-language readers. These essays tells the stories of the men and women who built it, fought for it, and how they kept it alive in the face of incredible odds. ‘The FAI in Galicia’ by Eliseo Fernández gives a brief history of Galician anarchism before the foundation of the FAI (Federación Anarquista Ibérica: Iberian Anarchist Federation) in 1927. It goes on to detail the structure and activities of the FAI in Galicia, and shows how the tensions and tactical disagreements within Spanish anarchism played out at a local level, including within the CNT (Confederación Nacional del Trabajo: National Confederation of Labour). ‘Vigo 1936’ by Antón Briallos records the desperate – and ultimately unsuccessful – battle in the streets against the fascist revolt of July 1936. Full biographical details of anarchists mentioned show the roots, structure and fate of the anarchist movement in Vigo before, during and after the Spanish Civil War. ‘The Anarchist Homes of Libertarian Women’ by Carmen Blanco tells how Galicia’s anarchist women sheltered other militants and were central to attempts to rebuild the anarchist movement. This tribute reveals the extent of their involvement and the terrible price they paid. Edited and translated by Paul Sharkey. ISBN 9781873605127 Publication details and online review copy
  • July 2011 KSL Bulletin online: KSL: Bulletin of the Kate Sharpley Library No. 67, July 2011 has just been posted on the site. You can get to the contents here or read the full pdf here.

At Libcom:

  • Cover of the book - published by Les nuits rougesLa « Garde rouge » raconte (“The “Red Guard” tells its story”): The centre of gravity of the workers’ committee movement in Italy in the late ’60s to late ’70s was the Milan area, and it was the committee of Magneti Marelli in the Crescenzago factory which was the most advanced expression of the committees in this region, and thus in the whole country. This book by the Italian historian Emilio Mentasti examines the whole history of the committee from its birth during the economic crisis of 1973 to its dissolution under the blows of judicial repression and industrial restructuring. Unfortunately, there is no English edition available as yet…
  • The IWW Reply to the Red Trade Union International: Executive Committee, R.I.L.U., Moscow, Russia.
  • The Left in the Detroit Labour Movement – Martin Glaberman: Martin Glaberman reviews – and contests the accuracy and honesty of – two books on the Detroit union movement: Christopher H. Johnson, Maurice Sugar: Law, Labor, and the Left in Detroit, 1912-1950(Detroit: Wayne State University Press 1988); Margaret Collingwood Nowak, Two Who Were There: A Biography of Stanley Nowak(Detroit: Wayne State University Press 1989).
  • Rediscovering Two Labor Intellectuals – Steve Early: Steve Early reviews collections of writings by Martin Glaberman and Stain Weir, while tying their experience and outlook to the emerging split within the AFL-CIO in 2004: Singlejack Solidarity. By Stan Weir. (Edited and with an afterward by George Lipsitz. Forward by Norm Diamond.) Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press, 2004. 369 pp. $19.95, paperback; Punching Out & Other Writings. By Martin Glaberman. (Edited and introduced by Staughton Lynd.)Chicago, Ill: Charles H. Kerr Publishing Company, 2002. 229 pp. $15 paperback.
  • Radical Unionism and the Workers’ Struggle in Spain – Ruben Vega Garcia and Carlos Perez: A piece on Spanish trade unionism since the Franco’s death. The Spanish labor movement inherited a revolutionary legacy whose most important landmarks are the general strike of 1917, the proletarian insurrection of 1934, and the zealous antifascist reaction of 1936. However, as a result of its defeat in the Spanish Civil War, the prolonged iron dictatorship profoundly disrupted the continuity of this tradition.
  • cover of Workers Against WorkWorkers Against Work: Labor in Paris and Barcelona During the Popular Fronts – Michael Seidman (PDF). PDF of the complete book.
  • The Old and New in Anarchism: A Reply to Comrade Malatesta Piotr Arshinov’s 1928 reply to Errico Malatesta. In the anarchist organ Le Reveil of Geneva, in the form of a leaflet, comrade Errico Malatesta has published a critical article on the project of the Organisational Platform edited by the Group of Russian Anarchists Abroad.
  • The Struggle in the Factory: History of a Royal Ordnance Factory. The History of Dalmuir R.O.F. is the history of any other war-time factory, it is the story of the workers’ struggle against the forces of capitalism aided an abetted by the fakirs of the trade unions and the Communist Party. Faced with these odds it is creditable that the workers did not succumb entirely, and that a band of them continued in opposition and endeavoured to preserve some degree of sanity throughout the welter of lies, distortions and intrigue that surrounded the worker.

At Workers Liberty:

At the Marxist Internet Archive:

Added to the POUM History Archive:

Added to the Max Shachtman Archive:

Added to the Spanish Helmut Wagner Archive:

Added to the Tony Cliff Archive:

Added to the U.S.A. History Section:

  • 24 issues of Labor Defender, the monthly journal of the International Labor Defense. Completed are the full first two years of journal, 1926 – 1927. The Labor Defenderwas an “pictorial” magazine with dozens of photographs and drawings from the best labor illustrators of that era. Articles were written and edited by, variously, Upton Sinclair, Elizabeth Gurley Flynn, James P. Cannon, Max Shactman, Carloline Scollen and Eugene V. Debs.

Added to the Raya Dunayevskaya Archive:

Added to the Encyclopedia of Trotskyism On-Line new Militant Project, part of the Left Opposition Publications Digitization Project:

  • All 55 issues of The Militant for Volume VI, 1933 and all of the last year of The Militant, 1934. These additions represents the end of the Communist League of America (Opposition) era before merging with the American Workers Party (lead by A. J. Muste) that formed the new Workers Party of the U.S. which published The New Militant. This new period ended the period of being a public faction of the Communist Party of America while seeking to win that party back to what the Trotskyists of the CLA considered a genuine Leninist and revolutionary program. Both the failure of the German Communist to prevent Hitler from coming to power and the leadership of the CLA in the Minneapolis Teamster Strikes of 1934, the CLA concluded that it can have more of impact on revolutionary politics as a party in it’s own right than a faction of one they believed was playing an increasingly negative role in the workers movement in the U.S. and internationally through the Communist International.
  • All the issues of the New Militant for 1935 and 1936, its entire run, published by the newly formed Workers Party of the U.S. This brings to an end the newspaper publication efforts of the Trotskyists in the form of The Militant and then the New Militant due to their organized entry into the left-moving Socialist Party of America. After this point it is not until August of 1937 with the start of publication of Socialist Appeal do the Trotskyists again publish a weekly workers paper.

Added to the C.L.R. James Archive:

Added to the new Raymond Challinor Archive in the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL):

Added to the Alexander Shliapnikov Archive:

  • On the Eve of 1917 (1923) (Book-length memoir of his experiences in the underground both in Russia and abroad during the World War I by Alexander Shliapnikov, a Bolshevik organiser and later leader of the Workers’ Opposition)

Added to the Periodical Page:

  • The Class Struggle was a bi-monthly Marxist theoretical magazine published in New York City by the Socialist Publication Society. The SPS also published a series of pamphlets, mostly reprints from the magazine during the short period of its existence. Among the initial editors of the publication were Ludwig Lore, Marxist theoreticians Louis B. Boudin and Louis C. Fraina, the former of whom left the publication in 1918. In the third and final year of the periodical, The Class Struggleemerged as one of the primary English-language voices of the left wing factions within the American Socialist Party and its final issue was published by the nascent Communist Labor Party of America.

Added to the Murray Bookchin Internet Archive:

  • State Capitalism in Russia, 1950. Article by Murray Bookchin when he was associated with the German ex-Trotskyists of the IKD putting their view on the nature of the USSR and historical retrogression.

An addition to the Spanish-language Archivo Andreu Nin:

At Anarkismo: (more…)

Max Shachtman, Hal Draper and the anarchists

This is rather belated, but Radical Archives has published something very important to my topic, an appreciation of Hal Draper’s analysis of Stalinism in a 1956 New York anarchist publication. RA sets the context:

View and Comments was published by the anarchist Libertarian Labor League in New York City. The cover of #13 also features an ad for a “May Day Meeting” at the Libertarian Center in New York, which was billed as featuring “Speakers from the following organizations: Independent Socialist League, Industrial Workers of the World, Libertarian League, Solidaridad Internacional Antifascista, Young Socialist League and the War Resisters League.”

Little attention has been paid to the intersection between post-Trotskyist Schachtmanite Marxism and anarchism. The evolution of certain “Left Schachmanites” paralleled the evolution of other thinkers who originated in Trotskyism but moved to a libertarian socialist position. This trend was represented by groups such as the Johnson-Forrest Tendency (which included C.L.R. James, Grace Lee Boggs and Raya Dunayevskaya), Socialism ou Barbarie (which included Cornelius Castoriadis, Claude Lefort and Jean-François Lyotard) and Solidarity (UK)  – as well as individual theorists such as Dwight Macdonald, Murray Bookchin and Daniel Guerin. Other non-Trotskyist Marxists were also moving towards anarchism, including Fredy Perlman and the Situationist International.

The majority of the ISL eventually entered the Socialist Party of America. However, some members (including Hal Draper) disagreed with this move, and later formed the Independent Socialist Clubs, which then became the Independent Socialists (IS). The Revolutionary Socialist League (RSL) split off IS in 1973. Over the years, the RSL became increasingly anti-Leninist as members moved towards anarchism, and it dissolved in 1991. Later, on the same day, a number of former members co-founded Love and Rage with a group of anarchists, in particular the Revolutionary Anarchist Bowling League. In 1993 Love and Rage split between those who favored a network and those who favored a more centralized apparatus (which included the RSL members), and the later became the Love & Rage Revolutionary Anarchist Federation (LRRAF). A couple RSL members, including writer Wayne Price, passed through LRRAF and later entered the North Eastern Federation Of Anarchist-Communists (NEFAC).

Letters from Barcelona

9780230527393A book I want to read: Letters from Barcelona: An American Woman in Revolution and Civil War edited by Gerd-Rainer Horn, letters by American socialist Lois Orr and some by her husband Charles Orr.

Letters from Barcelona provides a unique insight into the mentality and actions of an entire generation of socialist activists caught up in the maelstrom of cataclysmic events in interwar Europe. Based on carefully chosen representative selections from the copious letters sent by the young protagonist to family and friends in the United States, the atmosphere described in these letters vividly recreates the challenges, the hopes and the disappointments associated with living in Barcelona in the first year of the Catalan Revolution and the Spanish Civil War. These letters reconstruct the vibrant atmosphere of the campaign for a self-managed socialist society, stymied and ultimately crushed by the twin challenges of fascist and Stalinist dictatorships. The primary documents are placed into a larger context by the editor’s introductory remarks on the nature of the Catalan Revolution and the place of Lois Orr’s writings in the emerging literature on women’s autobiographies.

(more…)

From the archive of struggle no.45

In my last post in this series, I did not include anything from the Marxist Internet Archive, which has had a huge amount of interesting material added to it since I last looked. You’ll find a selection below the fold, but first some other archival links.

Via Espace contre ciment, I have found a few sites I don’t think I’ve seen before, which I have or am adding to the blogroll.

Barataria: Situationism in French from Belgium. Recently added: some picture of the Mexican revolution: Exécution d’un officier fédéral; Barricade; Armes saisies aux troupes fédérales; American Insurrectos.

Patlotch! Free texts, regularly added to, mostly French.

Les Gimenologues: On some partisans of the Spanish war, mainly in French. Recent books include:

JPEG - 56.3 ko JPEG - 31.6 ko

If Charlie Parker Was a Gunslinger,There’d Be a Whole Lot of Dead Copycats: Extraordinary blog, trawling through the visual detritus of American modernity. Here are some fragments:

They Were Collaborators #634


Kurt Weill and Ira Gershwin

Seminal Image #994


La Mort en ce jardin
(Death in the Garden)
(Luis Buñuel; 1956)

This Sporting Life #16


Jesse Owens lands the Gold Medal in the long jump at the 1936 Berlin Olympics.

Ofenschlot: A German language blog which excavates the web for texts which help to explode capitalism. For English-speaking readers, this post links through to a pdf of a 1980 Marxism Today review of the important but neglected marxist economic theorist Bob Rowthorn.

From the Marxist Internet Archive: (more…)

From the archive of struggle no.44

I have fallen behind on this task, not having done it for about 6 weeks. Below the fold are basically my personal choices from Entdinglichung’s Sozialistika series.

(more…)

Democratiya

I don’t know if it’s been there for a while, but I just noticed that Dissent has an archive of really nicely pdfed back issues of Democratiya. Here are some gems:

(more…)

History, etc

News from the frontline of the workers’ struggle:

On Thomas Paine:

Solidarity Federation: Direct Action new issue, includes:

From the archive of struggle, no.22:

From the New International, April 1941 [Via Ent.]

From Socialist Appeal, January/February 1936 [Via Ent.]

Everything in the world archived

I have only recently discovered the infinite joy of the Internet Archive, archive.org. Here are a few examples:

Audio:

George Sossenko is an 88-year old veteran of the Spanish Civil War. At the age of 16, he left his home in France to fight against Franco’s fascists with the anarchists of the Durruti column. A dedicated, life-long anarchist, George is still an active organizer as he travels and gives lectures on this important period in revolutionary history. Here, looking back from 2008, he talks about the lessons of the war.

A lovely “chill out” version of the Spanish anarchist classic “A las barricadashere. No information on singer or trumpeter.

Here, the dull, ponderous and vastly over-rated Stalinist Paul Robeson sings the classic “I Dreamed I Saw Joe Hill Last Night” to a Scottish miners’ benefit after the war.

Vastly superior is this, Harry McClintock (aka Haywire Mac, of “Big Rock Candy Mountain” fame) singing his Wobbly anthem “Hallelujah! I’m A Bum” in 1926.

Video:

The Archive of the Anonymous Narrated Image curates here some ordinary people’s family photos from the Spanish Civil War.

Books:

Here, via the National Yiddish Book Center is a reproduction of Rudolf Rocker’s memoirs in Yiddish, published in Argentina in the 1970s.

Here are the proceedings of the 1966 Socialist Party USA convention. Delegates included Norman Thomas, Michael Harrington, David McReynolds, Joshua Murachivik, Max Shachtman and Erich Fromm.

[From the archive of struggle, no.15]

Guns, etc

An amazing series of juxtapositions from Locust St:

Round 12:


Picasso is a gunslinger

I had thought earlier in the night that you can’t run when you are sodden from head to foot and weighted down with a rifle and cartridges; I learned now you can always run when you think you have fifty or one hundred armed men after you.

George Orwell, “Homage to Catalonia.”

The guns spell money’s ultimate reason
In letters of lead on the Spring hillside.
But the boy lying dead under the olive trees
Was too young and too silly
To have been notable to their important eye.
He was a better target for a kiss.

Stephen Spender, “Ultima Ratio Regum.”

If you find an Afghan rebel that the Moscow bullets missed,
Ask him what he thinks of voting Communist.
Ask the Dalai Lama in the hills of Tibet
How many monks did the Chinese get?

Joe Strummer, “Washington Bullets.”

He carried a shotgun–a weapon I thought was outlawed in international war–and the shotgun itself was a measure of his professionalism, for to use it effectively requires an exact blend of courage and skill and self-confidence. The weapon is neither accurate nor lethal at much over seventy yards. So it shows the skill of the carrier, a man who must work his way close enough to the prey to make a shot, close enough to see the enemy’s retina and the tone of his skin. The shotgun is not an automatic weapon. You must hit once, on the first shot, and the hit must kill.

Tim O’Brien, “If I Die in a Combat Zone.”

Other things:

Bataille Socialiste, with some wonderful 1936 photos from Paris en images. And, in French, a piece on the late, lovely Mary Low. (In English, see here, here.)

Eamonn McDonagh on the Livingstone formulation in Madrid.

Entdichlung with more from the archive (including Ernie Haberkern: The Left and Max Shachtman Part 1 AWL 1995).

Historical and archival notes

Yes, I know there are more important things going on in the world today, but here are some tidbits from the history of struggle. From the archive of struggle, no.9.

Many via Entdinlichung.

Change is gonna come

Max Shachtman

And, from the comments thread, a link to an mp3 of Max debating Norman Thomas from the 1950s.

Published in: on February 19, 2009 at 5:02 pm  Comments (1)  
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