Slow

I know I’ve been a slow blogging here lately. Here are some of the things I’ve been reading in my absence, if you know what I mean. Beatrix Campbell and the “invisible” women of Wigan Pier. Hitchens’s introduction to Orwell’s Diaries. Algeria: Fifty Years of Independence. An evening with the SWP. Malatesta on Bakunin as “too marxist”. Book notes: Michael Staudenmaier on the Sojourner Truth Organization. Back to that first International? In what senses can we describe certain political, religious and social movements of the English Revolution (1640-1660) as radical?

Below the fold, some of the gems from Entdinglichung’s weekly workers series. (more…)

From the archive of struggle

First, a couple of quick links: Gene on the German radicals in nineteenth century America who helped liberate the slaves. Review of a new edition of Vasily Grossman writings.

From the archive of struggle

*POUM: The General Policy of the Workers Party of Marxist Unification, 3 September 1936
*Raya Dunayevskaya: New Turn To The “Popular Front” [1955]; International Women’s Day and Iran [1979/80]
*Paul MattickLa gestion ouvrière/La gestión obrera [1967]
*Victor SergeThe Old Man [SV] [ 1942]
*The Communist Party of France during the Resistance Archive: Join the Party of the Executed!, 25 August 1944
*The Workers World newspaper. The complete 1919 run of this Left-Wing Socialist pre-Communist Party journal had 35 issues, all of which have been digitized into PDF format by the Riazanov Library for placement on the MIA. Variously edited by both Earl Browder and James P. Cannon, The Workers World, published out of Kansas City, was one of the many left wing SP periodicals inspired by and firmly supporting the Russian Revolution, and (like many other such left wing SP periodicals) ended as those involved in it left the SP to organize the new Communist Party of America and Communist Labor Party, and develop new periodicals for those organizations.
*Natalia Sedova: 1940 – Bagaimana itu Terjadi [How it Happened, Indonesian]

Anarchist documents on Poland, 1980-82:
*Poland on the Edge: Revolution or reform? by Various Authors (Fifth Estate, December 31, 1980)
*Poland: Triumphs and Defeats (Fifth Estate, Vol. 15, No. 2, (Whole number 303), October 20, 1980)
*Two articles on Poland by Various Authors (Howard Besser and Terry Downs: Gdansk: an eye-witness account/The betrayal begins, Freedom, London, vol. 41 no. 18, September 13, 1980)
*It’s Us They’re Shooting In Warsaw / Under the Polish Volcano (December, 1981) (London, June 1982)
*El Salvador and Poland: Two Paths to Revolution (Strike! August/September 1981, page 11)
*Poland: Communique of the Emmanuel Goldstein Group (Warszawa, 16 June, 1983)
*The Summer Strikes in Poland, 1980 (Echanges et Mouvement, Number 23, November, 1980)
*Poland, 1982 (Collective Inventions, 1982)
*Address to the Proletarians of Poland by The Scoffer (1980, The Scoffer/Le Frondeur, France)
*Poland 1980: Won’t Get Fooled Again / Meet the New Boss by Joey Stalin (North American Anarchist, October-November, 1980)
*Who are the Workers in Polish Solidarity and what do they want? by Andrzej Tymowski (Commonwork Pamphlets, 1982)
*Poland: Return of the Anarchists by Brian Amesly (Strike!, February 25, 1983)

Unsung heroes of struggle:

*John Alan/Allen Willis: Marxist-humanist and fighter for black freedom (1916-2011)
*Vicki Scarlett; librarian, socialist, feminist, yoga teacher and campaigner for social justice (1934-2011)
*John Watson: soldier and decent man
*Ann Blair: tenant activist
*Alice Beer: Quaker, potter, poet
*Peter Owen: trade unionist

Anna the hero of Gdansk dies in Smolensk disaster

Jim mourns Anna Walentynowicz.

Added: as does Stephen Diamond.

Added: as does Francis Sedgemore.

Published in: on April 13, 2010 at 11:56 am  Leave a Comment  
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Marek Edelman

I learn from Entdinglichung that Marek Edelman has passed away. Here is how wikipedia describes him:

During World War II, he was one of the founders of the Jewish Combat Organization. He took part in the 1943 Warsaw Ghetto Uprising and became its leader following the death of Mordechaj Anielewicz. He also took part in the Warsaw Uprising of 1944. When he died on the 2nd of October 2009 he was the last surviving leader of the Ghetto Uprising.[2][3]

After the war he remained in Poland and became a noted cardiologist. From the 1970s he collaborated with the Workers’ Defence Committee and other political groups opposing Poland’s Communist regime. As a member of Solidarity, he took part in the Polish Round Table Talks of 1989. Following the peaceful transformations of 1989, he was a member of various centrist parties. He also authored books documenting the history of wartime resistance against the German Nazi occupation.

I am gratified that, unlike the normal situation when one of my heroes dies, there are many obituaries of him already. Here are some: Moshe Arens, Nick Lowles, History is Made at Night, Tim Collard, MJ Rosenberg, the Tomb, Charlie Pottins, ZWord, Contested Terrain Jew on this, Rislu, Third Estate, Anne Frank’s Drumkit, Socialist Unity, the JC, Telegraph, Yossie Melman, NYT… and the US State Department.

Added: Read this comment by Michael Ezra, on Zionists and Bundists in resistance to the Nazis – kind of relevant to this post too.

Added 2: Another appreciation from David Rosenberg.

From the archive: Commentary debates Edelman in 1987 (via). Hannah Krall’s conversations with Edelman in 1977.

Leszek Kolakowski

First and second hand links to appreciations of Leszek Kolakowski, some for the first time, some the second time around.

Via Terry Glavin: “A free mind, no longer among us: Leszek Kolakowski. Nick Cohen remembers him here, and the other day, Christopher Hitchens eulogized him here. From the great Yank heartland, Stuart posts an essay from Kolakowski’s Modernity on Endless Trial, here.”

Via Martin in the Margins: Norm defends Marx against Oliver’s Kolakowski-inspired dismissal of his legacy. Michael Weiss gives his own take on the Polish philosopher’s spat with E.P.Thompson.”

[Here, by the way, is a pdf of Kolakowski's reply to Thompson, via a post at History Today, which also mentions Ignacio Silone.]

Earlier, at the start of Martin’s own nice appreciation: “There’s a terrific guest post by Andrew Murphy over at Harry’s Place, about Leszek Kolakowski, who died last Friday. Andrew links to Christopher Hitchens’ thoughts on the great Polish thinker, which you can find here. I also recommend this post by The New Centrist, who in turn links to this fascinating conversation between Kolakowski and Danny Postel (whose work I recommended here).”

From Jonathan Todd: “Top stuff from Timothy Garton Ash in the Guardian today, which alerted me to the death of a great man, Leszek Kolakowski, whose description of social democracy was one that Denis Healeymuch liked and which I do too:  “An obstinate will to erode by inches the conditions which produce avoidable suffering, oppression, hunger, wars, racial and national hatred, insatiable greed and vindictive envy”. It concisely presents social democracy as it is: a creed not just for our times but for all times.”

Reading the Maps: “Leszek Kolakowski liked to talk of Marxism and socialism as dogmatisms that had beem made obsolescent by the history of the late twentieth century. He was inclined to see anyone interested in Marx and in socialist politics as a quixotic anarchronism. In truth, though, it was Kolakowski who had become an anachronism with the end of the Cold War. Like the Stalinists he had so often condemned, he had adopted a worldview which relied upon an interpretation of Marx and Marxist history that was ballasted by the Cold War, rather than by facts. When the Cold War ended, and Marx was released from the rival simplifications of Stalinists and right-wingers, Kolakowski found himself with nothing interesting to say. Perhaps he should have listened more carefully to his old friend Thompson.” READ THE REST.

Ragbag: “Polish philosopher Leszek Kolakowski died on Friday. The Telegraph’s obit is good, capturing his influence as well as his attractively sceptical and mordant approach to life. I think he was one of the heroes of the twentieth century. I went to a seminar he gave in All Souls College once, on communism, about fifteen years ago. I left liking the man very much – as dry as talc but with a warm wit that revealed itself in asides made whilst sipping black coffee – but also with a feeling of disappointment: I hadn’t heard anything new or revelatory.” READ THE REST, including comment on Hitch and religion.

The Israeli water engineer: “In 1972 I had to spend a night in Posadas, Misiones, Argentina so I bought a bottle of red wine and a book in a second hand shop. The book was a collection of essays, among them “What are philosophers paid for?” which explored the issue why a Communist regime maintained philosophers and what he – Kolakowski – was being paid for. The Communist regime maintained that everyone had to do productive work – no parasitic intermediary luftgescheftn permited – and everyone had to produce something tangible for society. Why, then, were philosophers like himself being allowed to do “nothing”? His conclusion was that Marxist philosophers satisfied a basic necessity of the Communist regime: the theoretical, intellectual infrastructure (justification?) of the regime. READ THE REST.

Leiter Reports: “Rather than a younger version of Herbert Marcuse (who at the time used to raise his fist and intone “Power to the people!” when he lectured), Kolakowski was an urbane ironist of immense cultivation.” READ THE REST.

UD: “Leszek Kolakowski’s death reminds us that Terry Eagleton‘s recent attack on the atheism of Christopher Hitchens and Richard Dawkins is only the latest instance of a curious but now familiar trajectory, in which a left thinker in his or her latter days (think of Christopher Lasch among Americans, and, among the British, Gillian Rose) embraces, if not the truth of religion, the validity and endurance and even inescapability of its cultural power.” READ THE REST.

Steven Hayward: “In my forthcoming Reagan book I quote Kolakowski’s prescient prediction made in May 1983 (two years before Gorbachev and his wrecking crew arrived in the Kremlin): “We can imagine that the Soviet rulers, under the combined pressure of self-inflicted economic disasters and social tensions, will accept, however grudgingly, a genuine verifiable international disarmament plan and concentrate their efforts on a large-scale economic recovery, which they cannot achieve without a number of social and political reforms. This might conceivably usher in a process of gradual and non-explosive disintegration of the empire.” In that same article he anticipated the “velvet revolution” of 1989: “Certainly in Poland or Czechoslovakia (or in Hungary) Communism would fall apart within days without the Soviet threat.” “

More:

Published in: on July 24, 2009 at 1:01 pm  Comments (3)  
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Poumlicious

Nick Cohen takes no shit. Trotsky on religion. A Los Barricados: folk songs and other songs from On A Raised Beach. Anglo-Buddhist Combine: Maurice Brinton/Christopher Pallis. Harry Barnes’ military service: Basra, Bombs, and Books. SlackBastard’s books (including Haymarket: A Novel by Martin Duberman, Julián Casanova’s Anarchism, the Republic and Civil War in Spain: 1931–1939, Stuart Chrsitie’s We The Anarchists!: A Study Of The Iberian Anarchist Federation (FAI) 1927–1937, George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four). Paul as Orwell. Hamas kills opponents, Clare Short turns blind eye.

Poumtastic 2

Some of these items follow up yesterday’s.

More Abel Paz obituaries: Happy Medium (with beautiful photographs), SlackBastard (with three perfectly chosen YouTube videos).

More on Kuhn on Grossman from Bob Gould. And more from Bob G: the sad, contradictory life of Wilfred Burchett.

A little bit of left history relevant to this: PatriotDems on the “Red Dunhams” of Washington State, 1956.

No Borders 1935: on Emma Goldman and South Wales.

St John: T.R. Healey on John Cornford.

Martin Rowson in Tribune: To the Barricades!

Tribune Book Reviews: Emmanuel Cooper on Marc Chagall, Geoffrey Goodman on the Miners’ strike in Wales, Nathaniel Mehr on Mary Davis on Labour history.

It’s twenty years since Solidarnosc was made legal in Poland. Henri Simon: Mass strikes in Poland, 1980. BBC: children of the revolution.

The Underground Rebel Book Club. (Book covers here stolen from there.)

And a news item: Mexican president given copy of Orwell’s 1984 as a present from… the Queen of England.

Miscellany

א New at Libcom: Joe Jacobs (Solidarity UK) on the organisational question. (More Joe Jacobs here.)

א At the Morningstar Ranch (Jim Parks, The Legendary). Extract:

[Lou] Gottlieb had a concert grand he put in a hen house at the Morningstar Ranch. There, he played Brahms and other classical works. He meditated, did yoga and clowned while his sidekick, another musician named Ramón Sender Barayón, the son of Ramón J. Sender, the exiled Spanish novelist, played it straight. Sender was literally born amid the sound of machine guns during “Red October,” within close proximity of the opening battles of the Spanish Civil War, in 1934. His father, a native of Aragon, was a co-founder of Partido Obrero de Unificación Marxista, or P.O.U.M., the Trotskyist militia whose ranks were filled with international volunteers, including such literary luminaries as George Orwell, author of 1984.

א liber.rhetoricae: on slogans, taglines, enthymemes, and figures of brevity in general. Extract:

Trotsky as agitator allows his contact with the lived experience of the Spanish people to challenge Trotsky as theorist or propagandist. He allows what he learns to challenge his assumptions about historical laws and revolutionary processes. This is important. “Are we not confronted with an historical paradox?” Trotsky asks, and in asking opens the possibility that any doctrine of continuity between world revolution and the Russian revolution requires urgent review and perhaps revision in light of facts discovered on the ground in Spain. Set aside your views on Trotsky or his analysis or the success of Trotsky’s enterprise. This is rhetoric as method, it is the very definition of a rational process, and it is dialectical in character in the classical sense of dialectics. This is a community engaged in review, interpretation, and argument, in the form of communicators testing their arguments in live conditions.

א Jim  Sleeper: Gaza needs a George Orwell now. Extract:

If a new Orwell informs us that Israel, although it’s hideously cruel and wrong, isn’t the only evil enemy of freedom in Gaza, will anyone want to know?

א Tom Reimann: 7 Historical Figures Who Were Absurdly Hard To Kill. Extract:

#4: Leon Trotsky

Why He Had to Go

In 1917, Trotsky was Lenin’s right hand man when the Bolsheviks came to power in Russia. He created and commanded the Red Army and was a member of the Politburo, which oversaw all other branches of Soviet government and made all policy decisions. He also wore glasses and had a wicked goatee, so you know he read books and shit.


Quiet, I’m reading this shit.

After Lenin died, Trotsky was expelled from the Communist party and kicked out of Russia. In return, Trotsky attempted to enter the United States to testify before Congress that Stalin was a major douchebag. Upon hearing this, Stalin decided his next move would be to expel Trotsky from life.

How He Went Down

Trotsky was denied entry into the U.S. and eventually found his way to a home in Mexico City. It was there that he was attacked by Ramon Mercader, an assassin working for Stalin.

While Trotsky was home reading some shit, Mercader buried an ice axe into the back of his skull.

This just pissed Trotsky off.

He stood up from his desk, axe in head, and spit on Mercader. Then he went after the assassin, wrestling with him. Trotsky’s bodyguards heard the commotion (where the fuck were they a few minutes ago?) and came running in to subdue the assassin and get Trotsky to the hospital.

Trotsky made it to the hospital and underwent surgery before finally dying a day later from complications related to being brained with a goddamn ice axe. We’re hoping he lived long enough to fire those bodyguards.

א Also: Barcelona Photoblog, Political Chess – Alekhine vrs Trotsky – Apocryphal Account, Typically Spanish: The man who killed Leon Trotsky.

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