Anarchism in the Eastern Mediterranean

Two interesting items:

The colour brown: de-colonising anarchism and challenging white hegemony by  in Random Shelling. Extract:

The appearance of the Egyptian Black Bloc in Cairo’s streets in January 2013 triggered gullible excitement in Western anarchist circles. Little thought was given to the Egyptian Black Bloc’s political vision – or lack thereof – tactics, or social and economic positions. For most Western anarchists, it was enough that they looked and dressed like anarchists to warrant uncritical admiration. Facebook pages of Israeli anarchists were swamped with pictures of Egyptian Black Bloc activists; skimming through the US anarchist blogosphere during that period would have given one the impression that the Black Bloc was Egypt’s first-ever encounter with anarchism and anti-authoritarianism. But as American writerJoshua Stephens notes, the jubilant reaction many Western anarchists have towards the Black Bloc raises unflattering questions concerning their obsession with form and representation, rather than content and actions. And in this regard, these anarchists are not different from the Islamists who were quick to denounce the Black Bloc as blasphemous and infidel merely because they looked like Westerners. Further, many Western anarchist reactions to the Black Bloc unmask an entrenched orientalist tendency. Their disregard of Egypt and the Middle East’s rich history of anarchism is one manifestation of this. As Egyptian anarchist, Yasser Abdullah illustrates, anarchism in Egypt dates back to the 1870’s in response to the inauguration of the Suez Canal; Italian anarchists in Alexandria took part in the First International, published an anarchist journal in 1877, and took part in the Orabi revolution of 1881; Greek and Italian anarchists also organised strikes and protests with Egyptian workers. Yet these struggles are nonchalantly shunned by those who act today as if the Black Bloc is the first truly radical group to grace Egyptian soil….

I begin by showing that colonial attitudes made the Republicans of the Spanish Revolution neglect Spanish colonialism in North Africa, leading them to focus solely on fighting fascism at home. That the Spanish Revolution continues to serve as an important reference for today’s anarchist movements, it is not surprising that similar colonial attitudes lead today’s movements to write-off centuries of anti-authoritarian struggle in Asia, Africa and the Middle East….

Exceedingly Immersed in their fight against fascism and tyranny in Spain, the [Spanish] revolutionaries ignored Spain’s colonialism, fascism and tyranny across the Mediterranean. The level of dehumanisation toward the “Other” was so high that, according to most pro-revolution narratives, the only role colonised Moroccans were given to play was one of mercenaries brought in by General Franco to crush the Popular Front. Much pro-revolution sentiment would go as far as referring to Moroccans in a racist manner. While it is difficult to argue that mutual solidarity between Spanish revolutionaries and colonised Moroccans could have changed the outcome of the War, it is also difficult to know whether this kind of solidarity was ever feasible in the first place. As the late American historian Howard Zinn puts it: “In the short run (and so far, human history has consisted only of short runs), the victims, themselves desperate and tainted with the culture that oppresses them, turn on other victims.” On the other hand, anarchism, in its essence, means rejecting and fighting against any form of authority and subjugation, including colonialism and occupation. To be truly anti-authoritarian, therefore, any struggle against fascism and dictatorship at home should be internationalist and cannot be separated from the struggle against fascism and tyranny abroad, in its role as a colonial power….

And Palestinian Anarchists in Conversation: Recalibrating anarchism in a colonized country, by Joshua Stephens, originally in the Lebanese magazine The Outpost. Extract:

ahmad

“I’m honestly still trying to kick the nationalist habit,” jokes activist Ahmad Nimer, as we talk outside a Ramallah cafe. Our topic of conversation seems an unlikely one: living as an anarchist in Palestine. “In a colonized country, it’s quite difficult to convince people of non-authoritarian, non-state solutions. You encounter, pretty much, a strictly anticolonial – often narrowly nationalist – mentality,” laments Nimer. Indeed, anarchists in Palestine currently have a visibility problem. Despite high-profile international and Israeli anarchist activity, there doesn’t seem to be a matching awareness of anarchism among many Palestinians themselves.

See also: anarchist tagged posts on Tahrir-ICN about Egyptian anarchists.

From the archive of struggle no.76: Poumism and Shachtmanism

Up to January 2013 now with new additions to the extraordinary Marxist Internet Archive. Obviously, the first thing here is of most interest to me.

La Verite

Added to the archive of the Partido Obrero de Unificación Marxista/Workers Party of Marxist Unification a section of the Spanish Revolution History Archive is the complete run of the POUM’s English Language publication edited in Barcelona by American revolutionary socialists Lois and Charles Orr: The Spanish Revolution.

Spanish Revolution was the English language publication of the P.O.U.M. Edited by Lois and Charles Orr. In 1936 they had setup within the ranks of the Socialist Party of America the Revolutionary Policy Committee of the Socialist Party of the U.S. While the P.O.U.M. itself was never Trotskyist, many in the ranks of Trotskyism, and those near it politically, supported the publication.

Russell Blackwell, who was in Spain as a supporter of the P.O.U.M wrote, 30 years later for the Greenwood Reprints of The Spanish Revolution, the following:

Spanish Revolution faithfully reported events during its period of publication from the point of view of the P.O.U.M. Its first issue appeared on October 21, 1936, at a time when the revolutionary process was already beginning to decline. Its final issues dealt with the historic May Days of 1937 and the events immediately following, which led to the Stalinist takeover.

These 28 issues of The Spanish Revolution  were digitized by Marty Goodman of the Riazanov Library Project

They are all digitised as whole pdfs for each issue.

Other stuff: (more…)

Barcelona diary: Celebrating radical history

The Gonzo Kid:

Recently I was lucky enough to take part in a meeting of radical historians in Barcelona. The event was billed as “a meeting of colleagues and comrades, all active in interpreting and bringing out the radical history of the place where they live”.

As well as sharing experiences and having a good time, the gathering was aimed at establishing “a more or less formal network/platform for the future. An international network of independent tour guides, street storytellers and historical activists”.

Radical historians and tour guides from Dublin, Barcelona, Olso, Berlin and London were present, as well as members of the RaspouTeam who make innovative use of street art, QR codes and radio to celebrate the revolutionary history of Paris. For my own part, I delivered a presentation on Liverpool’s history from an anarcho-syndicalist viewpoint, including some general history of the Solidarity Federation (which goes back to the founding of the Syndicalist Workers’ Federation in 1950), of which I am a member. Also participating and helping to facilitate the meeting was a CNT member who has set up a bar off La Rambla called La Llibertària, which is run as a workers co-operative. The walls of the bar are covered in posters, photographs and original newspapers from the Spanish revolution and it is well worth a visit for anyone spending time in the city.

READ THE REST

Spanish Revolution and Civil War gallery

A wonderful gallery at Libcom. Here’s just a taste – go enjoy the real thing.

Militia woman.Unidentified black soldier.Burned out cars after the defeat of Franco's forces in Barcelona, 1936.Madrid, July 1936.Spanish Civil War and Revolution photo gallery, 1936-39Demonstration, Puerta del Sol, Madrid.Anarchists in Madrid.Collectivised CNT tram, Barcelona.Collectivised tram.Spanish Civil War and Revolution photo gallery, 1936-39.Anarchist militia women.Workers' barricades.Workers' barricades.Militia men and women leave for the front in Barcelona.Spanish Civil War and Revolution photo gallery, 1936-39.Speech from bricklayer and CNT member Cipriano Mera.Spanish Civil War and Revolution photo gallery, 1936-39.The Durruti Column.Workers' barricades, Barcelona, July 1936.Workers on the barricades, Barcelona, 1936.Workers' barricades.Tereul, Aragon Front, 1938.Militias in training, Catalunya.Militia woman in training, Barcelona.Militia women in training, Barcelona.Boy wearing cap of “Union de Hermanos Proletarios”, Barcelona.Spanish anarcho-syndicalist, Buenaventura Durruti (centre).Durruti's funeral.Supporters at Durruti's funeral.Supporters carrying coffin at Durruti's funeral.Spanish Civil War and Revolution photo gallery, 1936-39

The Iron Column

From SlackBastard:

I’m really looking forward to reading this…

The Story of the Iron Column: Militant Anarchism in the Spanish Civil War
Paul Sharkey (Translator) and Abel Paz
Edition: pb
ISBN: 9781849350648
Publisher: AK Press
Release Date: 2011-07-13

The members of the Iron Column were among the most notorious anarchists in the Spanish Civil War. They were intransigent in the face of the fascist revolt, but also in defence of the revolution’s gains.

We say to all workers, to all revolutionaries, to all anarchists: At the front or in the rearguard, wherever you may be, fight against the enemies of your liberty and demolish fascism. But also make sure that your exertions do not bring about the installation of a dictatorial regime that would represent the continuation, with all of its vices and defects, of the whole state of affairs that we are trying to obliterate. Now with weapons and later with the tools of labour, learn to live without tyrants and to develop for yourselves the only road to freedom. These are the feelings of the Iron Column, and they have been explained clearly and simply.

Comrades: Death to fascism! Long live the social revolution! Long live anarchy!

~ The Iron Column, 1 October 1936

Abel Paz (1921-2009) was a fifteen-year-old anarchist when the Spanish Revolution began. After the revolution’s defeat, he spent several years in exile, returning to Spain in 1942 as a guerrilla fighter against the Franco regime. He spent most of the subsequent eleven years in prison. Paz spent his later years authoring biographical and autobiographical works and delivering lectures celebrating the achievements of the Spanish anarchists. His book Durruti in the Spanish Revolution, was published by AK Press in 2006.

Paul Sharkey, an accomplished translator, has almost single-handedly made available a vast body of non-English language anarchist texts. His numerous translations include the works of Nestor Makhno, Osvaldo Bayer, Errico Malatesta, Daniel Guérin, José Peirats, and Antonio Téllez.

Iron Column Records

Iron Column Records is a distro and label spreading the anti-fascist message through no-nonsense music and merchandise. We are 100% non-profit – ALL proceeds from sales are given to antifa groups or anti-fascists in need.

We have a growing range of music from some of the finest anti-fascist bands and labels on the planet, and we plan to expand it as money allows. If you are in a band or involved with a label that is sympathetic to what we’re doing, please get in touch to see if we can work something out.

We’ve also produced a range of t-shirts with eye-catching anti-fascist designs and are planning to release our first album under our own imprint in the near future – watch this space!

We hope that you find something you like in our list and we look forwards to hearing from you.

Antifa always,

Iron Column Records.

75 years of the Spanish revolution

 

First, we are at war. And it is a war that will be long. We are poorly organized and our people do not know what war is. – Andre Nin, summer 1936

Phil writes:

On 19th July 1936, the working class of Barcelona and Madrid succeeded in defeating the army and repelling the fascists in their attempt to take over Spain. It marked the beginning of an anarchist revolution, the lessons of which remain relevant 75 years later.
There are numerous accounts and analyses of the revolution’s successes and failures in print and on the internet. This article from Do or die at the 70th anniversary provides a succinct overview, whilst An Anarchist FAQ goes into considerably more depth from a theoretical standpoint. The pamphlet Towards a Fresh Revolution, written by the Friends of Durruti in 1938, offers a radical position from in the midsts of the war as it raged on.
However, to mark the anniversary, I would like to draw people’s attention to the documentary Living Utopia: The Anarchists and the Spanish Revolution. Featuring personal testimonies from numerous anarcho-syndicalist militants who took part, it is in my view a fitting way to mark this anniversary of a significant milestone in revolutionary class struggle.

Robert writes:

July 19, 2011 marks the 75th anniversary of the beginning of the Spanish Civil War, and the remarkable social revolution which followed. Gaston Leval (1895-1978) was the great chronicler of the positive accomplishments of the Spanish anarchists and people during the Spanish Revolution and Civil War. In the following short piece, published in Resistance Volume XII, No. 1, April 1954, Leval describes the process of collectivization which spread through various areas of Spain, often spontaneously, and the obstacles ranged against the collectives. Leval deals with the collectives in much greater detail in his book, Collectives in the Spanish Revolution (London: Freedom Press, 1975). I included excerpts from that book in Chapter 23 of Anarchism: A Documentary History of Libertarian Ideas, Volume One: From Anarchy to Anarchism (300CE-1939), Selection 126, “Libertarian Democracy.” [READ THE REST]

The poster above, via La Bataille socialiste, is for an exhibition in Barcelona, that Sarah went to see. Sarah reports that the exhibition had English language editions of the POUM’s Spanish Revolution newsletter from 1937. Anyone has images of these or pdfs or text or anything, please let me and Sarah know.

 

More from Trebian, Andrew Blackman, Chris Hall, Stuart Christie.

Feast your eyes on images from Getty and at MSNBC’s photo blog.

Watch: Land and Freedom. Londoners note:

Haringey Independent Cinema are showing Ken Loach’s film land and Freedom on Thursday 21st July at 7.15pm, West Green learning Centre, West Green Road, London N15. More information from RAHN.

Listen: Stalinist songs of the Spanish “civil war” volume 1 (Pete Seeger, Ernst Busch) and 2 (Woody Guthrie).

Against the Current: Spain’s revolution and tragedy

The new issue of Against the Current has an excellent special section on the Spanish revolution, with peices by Alan Wald, Wilebaldo Solano and others. Contents and abstracts below the fold.

(more…)

Roma Marquez Santo

I’m not sure whether or not I’ve linked already to this short interview with Roma Marquez Santo, POUM veteran of the Spanish Civil War, recently in Dublin. There is an inaccuracy in the title: I’m pretty sure Roma is not a veteran Spanish anarchist, but a veteran Spanish socialist, but thanks to WSM for publishing this anyway. He was in a POUM militia, and when the Popular Front government regularised the Republican army (as part of the Stalinist-led counter-revolution within the anti-fascist struggle) this became ‘s 29th Division. It was liquidated after the Barcelona “May events”, and after it was liquidated joined the 28th Division, which was basically an anarchist militia. Also, Roma was a member of the CNT (the anarcho-syndicalist affiliated union), whereas most Poumistas were in the UGT (the socialist affiliated union).

Sources: Helen Graham The Spanish Republic at War; Andy Durgan “The hidden story of the Spanish Revolution”; Harry Owens “Roma Martez Santo”.

P.S. Also at WSM: Biography of Dr John Creaghe, cosmopolitan Irish anarchist.

From the archive of struggle, no.28

Acknowledgments, as always, to Comrade E. Mostly English above the fold, other languages below. Browse the whole series here.

La Bataille Socialiste:

* Socialist Party of the US “Justice Triumphs in Spain” (1938)

Norman Thomas at Archive.org:

*Why I am a socialist – Thomas, Norman, 1884-1968. A pamphlet from the leading American socialist in the midst of the Great Depression HX15.
*What’s the matter with New York; a national problem – Thomas, Norman, 1884-1968
*Justice triumphs in Spain! : a letter about the trial of the P.O.U.M. – Thomas, Norman, 1884-1968. Allen, Devere,; 1891-1955. The US socialist party weighs in on the trial of the POUM leaders in Republican Spain JN8395.O27
*Democracy and Japanese Americans [pdf]. New York: Post War World Council, 1942.

Irish Labour and Working Class History:

*Robert Jackson Alexander, ‘Ireland’, International Trotskyism, 1929-1985 (1991)

Tendance Coatesy:

* Ken Coates “A Note on Workers’ Control”

LibCom:

* The Red Menace: Review: Anti-Parliamentary Communism in Britain, 1917-1945 (1989)
* Nick Heath: Anarchists who turned to the Bolsheviks
* Nick Heath: Jacob Abrams, Jacob aka Jack Abrams (1883 – 1953)
* The Communist Left in Germany 1918-1921 (1976)
* Walter Benjamin: The life of students (1915)
* James Goldwasser: Ret Marut: The Early B. Traven (1993)

Workers Liberty:

* Julius Jacobson: Reflections on Fascism and Communism (1983)

Dublin Opinion:

* John Goodwillie: Family Tree of the Irish Left (1983)
* John Goodwillie: Glossary of the Left in Ireland, 1960 to 1983 (1983)

Marxist Internet Archive:

Added to the Maurice Brinton Internet Archive:
*For Workers’ Power, 1965
*Review: What is Class Consciousness?, 1972
*Review: Dialectical Materialism and Psychoanalysis, 1972
*The Bolsheviks and Workers’ Control, 1970
*Socialism Reaffirmed, 1960
*Factory Committees and the Dictatorship of the Proletariat, 1975

Added to the Barta Archive:
*Letter From Bucharest to Trotsky, May 1936

Added to the Tony Cliff Archive:
*Trotsky: 3. Fighting the rising Stalinist bureaucracy 1923-1927 (1991) (Volume 3 of Cliff’s political biography of Trotsky)
*Trotsky: 4. The darker the night the brighter the star 1927-1940 (1993) (Fourth and final volume of Cliff’s political biography of Trotsky)

The Anarchist Library:

*“Life in Revolutionary Barcelona” by Manolo Gonzalez
*“Beer and Revolution: Some Aspects of German Anarchist Culture in New York, 1880-1900” by Tom Goyens (2009)
*“Chavistas open fire, injure eight protestors in Caracas” by Peter Gelderloos (2007)
*“Dreams, Demands, and the Pragmatic Pitfall: The Barcelona Bus Drivers Strike” by Peter Gelderloos (2009)
*“Anti-patriotism” by Han Ryner (1934)

(more…)

Archive special

From the archive of struggle, no.19. Non-anoraks, skip this post, and go to this one, on Obama’s taste in reading and an alternative to the Richard and Judy book club, or this one,  on early jazz and recent fado, or this one, on how blogging has re-invigorated radical history.

Steve Cohen

First of all, ArchivesHub last month highlighted the Greater Manchester Collection of Steve Cohen, lawyer and anti deportation campaigner, 1975-1996. Go here for the website, which includes links to selected websites and some excellent suggested reading.. For background on Steve Cohen, check Engage/Bob.
Image of a demo rally poster Image of a campaign poster Image of an anti deportation campaign poster

The rest

Marxist Internet Archive:

  • Added to the J. T. Murphy Archive: The Communist Party of Great Britain (1943) and The Last Great Split in World Communism (1948) [Poumista: Latter is particularly recommended. Murphy played a part in the 1926 expulsion of Trotsky from the Communist International, was expelled himself in 1932 for challenging its disasterous ultra-left Third Period politics, and reflects here on these two expulsions and on Tito's. By the way,  Murphy's wikipedia page badly needs editing!]
  • Added to the Rudolf Hilferding Archive: State Capitalism or Totalitarian State Economy 1940 [Poumista: This piece is also important, as a key intervention in the debate about the character of the Soviet Union. Hilferding wrote it as the Nazis boot was stamping on the face of France, not long before he was handed by the Vichy French to the Gestapo, who would murder him and take his wife Rose to Auschwitz, where she perished. His characterisation of the Stalinist system as totalitarian has considerable force.]
  • Added to the Brian Pearce Archive: Rank-and-file Movements of the Thirties, 15 November 1958 (Constant Reader) [Poumista: Pearce is another important, neglected character. Like EP Thompson, he was part of the Communist Party Historians Group, but re-thought Stalinism in the wake of Russia's counter-revolution crushing of the Hungarian revolution 1956, getting himself expelled in 1957. A close associate of Peter Fryer, he passed with him through the orbit of Gerry Healey. This piece, I think, dates from his time with Healey's Club, and is an important contribution to the 1950s' revisioning of Anglo-Stalinist and labour history.]

[Beneath the fold: Spanish anarchist histories, and more besides] (more…)

Abel Paz

Coatesy:

A Great of the Workers’ Movement: Abel Paz (1921 – 2009).

Abel Paz, pen name of Diego Camacho, has died.

Brought to politics in the 1930s as a  member of the Confederación Nacional del Trabajo (CNT) (CNT Obituary) Diego fought in Spain against Franco and the counter-revolution. A member of the legendary Durruti column he took part in some of the most violent batttles.  As a supporter of the libertarian syndicalist side he participated in the – failed – 1937 Barcelona combat against the Stalinist take-over. At the end of the war, when Catalonia finally had gone down in 1939,  Paz survived and fled to France. The author of a number of important histories of the Spanish war, he remained a committed anarchist all his life, saying that,

El anarquismo invoca una vida completamente diferente. Trata de vivir esta utopía un poco cada día.

Anarchism means a completely different  form of life. Try to live a little of  this utopia every day.

If anyone on the left dismisses anarchism,  one should contemplate the life of this hero of the international workers’ movement.

Hat-tip to Entdinglichung (here), some more details (in French) of his initial internment in France, and  later war-time armed opposition in the Spanish maquis to Franco (here.)

Read “Barcelona in Flames”, an extract from his Durruti book, here.

Today in 1936

From Molly’s Blog

THE SPANISH REVOLUTION BEGINS:

It was not a dark and stormy night, but the atmosphere in the streets of Barcelona was just as electric. On July 14, 1936 General Mola had summoned military commanders to his headquarters in northern Spain to finalize the details of a military coup against the Popular Front government. On July 17 General Franco flew to Morocco where the military uprising had already begun. The Spanish government dithered and proclaimed the situation “under control”. The government censored a notice in the CNT’s paper Solidaridad Obrera warning the workers of the impending coup, but the anarchists considered it important enough to reprint and distribute by hand. The local government of Catalonia refused to turn over arms to the CNT’s Defence Committees, and anarchist longshoremen stormed ships carrying arms on the night of the 17th and turned them over the the CNT. The government tried to recover the arms but failed. Throughout the 18th the workers in Barcelona obtained what arms they could while the government issued paper decrees in the absence of any real authority. [...]
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