Ralph Miliband: democrat and anti-fascist

Ralph Miliband

Ralph Miliband

The Daily Mail has been in the  news for its attacks on Ralph Miliband as “the man who hated Britain“. This continues a long tradition of smearing “Red” Ed Miliband by association with his father’s politics (here, for instance, in 2010, they make a big deal of the fact that his elderly cousin, who he may not even have met, had some vague connection to Joseph Stalin half a century ago). I don’t normally comment on topical events on this blog, but this seemed kind of worth looking at.

Was Miliband anti-British?

The sole piece of evidence presented by the Mail of Miliband Sr’s “hatred of Britain” is a diary entry he wrote when he was 17. I pity my son, if he ever becomes a public figure and the Mail finds what I wrote in my diaries as a teenager… I would much rather trust his son’s memories to know anything about what the mature man actually felt about the land that gave him refuge when he fled genocide – and the land for which he served in the armed forces.

HMS Godetia, manned by the Section Belge, Belgian Section of the British Royal Navy, during World War Two. Source: Wikipedia

Ralph Miliband fought for Britain in the war against fascism. According to his Independent obit:

The three missing years to which he refers were spent in service as a naval rating in the Belgian section of the Royal Navy. Aware of the fact that many of his Belgian comrades were engaged in the war against Fascism and traumatised by the absence of his mother and sister, he had volunteered, using Laski’s influence to override the bureaucracy. He served on a number of destroyers and warships, helping to intercept German radio messages. He rose to the rank of Chief Petty Officer and was greatly amused on one occasion when his new commanding officer informed him how he had been rated by a viscount who had commanded the ship on which he had previously served: ‘Miliband is stupid, but always remains cheerful.’

However, I’m fairly sure that despite his lack of British nationality at this point, he served in the mainstream Royal Navy and not in the Section Belge (RNSB). The latter operated corvettes (such as the one picture above) and minesweepers, while Miliband served on destroyers and warships.

Was Miliband a Communist Fellow Traveller?

Harold Laski

The Mail article makes a good deal of Harold Laski‘s influence on Ralph Miliband:

At the London School of Economics, he was taught and heavily influenced by the extremist Left-winger Harold Laski, who said the use of violence was legitimate in British elections.

I see Laski, although far from “an extreme Left-winger”, as a broadly pernicious figure in British political history, and as something of a Fellow Traveller. But it is important to be clear about timing. Laski was broadly committed to a liberal, reformist, parliamentary social democracy until the early 1930s, and was close to the right-wing Labour leader Ramsay MacDonald. (Aside; MacDonald’s previous government in 1924 was brought down partly as a result of the Mail‘s publication of the forged Zinoviev letter, alleging Soviet interference with British politics – first in a long-line of dishonest anti-communist smears directed at Labour from the paper.)

Only in the 1930s, during the tumultuous years of the Depression, did Laski start to flirt with a pro-Soviet position, and come to believe that the overthrow of capitalism might not happen peacefully. Even in this period, I am fairly certain, he never said “the use of violence was legitimate in British elections”, as the Mail claims.

During 1931-1937 Laski was a key figure in the Popular Frontist movement in British politics, influenced by Laski’s friend Leon Blum in France. This movement, including Stafford Cripps and focused around the small middle-class Socialist League, as well as the more broad-based Left Book Club, sought rapprochement between the Labour movement and Communism, with the priority of defeating fascism. This movement was largely rejected both by the working class mainstream of the Labour Party and by the uncompromising anti-Stalinists of the Independent Labour Party, and Laski skunked back to Labour in 1937, increasingly settling in on the soft left of the party.

After the war, Laski did continue to argue for a more positive attitude towards Britain’s war-time Soviet allies and against the Atlanticist Cold War consensus in the Labour Party, but he no longer endorsed Communism as a viable political movement in Britain. It was this later Laski who would influence the young Ralph Miliband, who studied under him at the LSE briefly during the war and then again after his demobilisation. This more mellow Laski encouraged Miliband to think for himself and question Marxist orthodoxy.

Was Miliband a Communist?

Ralph Miliband has been described as a “Stalinist”, which is a complete travesty considering his consistent opposition to the Soviet model of socialism from above. Back in Poland, Ralph Miliband’s father had been a Bundist, a fiercely anti-Stalinist Jewish socialist movement. As a youngster in Belgium he joined the Zionist youth group Hashomer Hatzair, which was affiliated to the British Independent Labour Party, and again anti-Stalinist.

Eric Hobsbawm, on-off family friend

He was never a member or supporter of the Communist Party; he was sympathetic to Tito’s Yugoslavia in the immediate post-war years, when it broke with the Stalinist bloc; and by the the 1950s when the New Left was starting to emerge from the shadow of orthodox Communism he was a fully fledged anti-Stalinist. The Soviet crushing of democratic socialism in Hungary in 1956 and then in Czechoslovakia in 1968 repelled him deeply. In this period, as the Mail notes, he was friendly with the Stalinist Eric Hobsbawm, another refugee from fascism and ex-serviceman (in the Royal Engineers and the Royal Army Educational Corps), but, as the Mail passes over quickly, on this issue Miliband was sharply at odds with his friend. Here he is in 1968:

The invasion of Czechoslovakia show very well that this oppressive and authoritarian Russian socialism has nothing in common with the socialism that we demand,and we must state this very loudly, even at the risk of seeming to be anti-soviet and to echo bourgeois propaganda … And then, there is also this question of ‘bourgeois liberties’ … which, I am persuaded, we must put at the top of our programme. Or rather, denounce them as insufficient and to be extended by socialism. Nothing will work if it is possible and plausible to suggest that we want to abolish them. And that is one of the reasons why the democratization of ‘revolutionary’ parties is essential… The internal life of a revolutionary party must prefigure the society which it wants to establish – by its mode of existence, and its way of being and acting. While this is not the case, I don’t see any reason to want to see the current parties take power: they are quite simply not morally ready to assume the construction of a socialist society.

His anti-Stalinism was less robust than, for example EP Thompson‘s became or that of the International Socialists, and there is a still a lingering presence of the Laski-ite fellow traveller in his sense that “seeming to be anti-soviet” might be a bad thing, but he was always clear that Soviet “socialism” was oppressive and cruel.

The only quotation the Mail comes up with in relation to Miliband’s attitude to the Soviet Union was this:

Mikhail Gorbachev’s dismantling of Soviet socialism and the worker state should have shocked Miliband, but he managed to find an argument welcoming it.

He proclaimed that the Cold War had always been a useful ‘bogey’ for the Right, and that, ‘the success of Mikhail Gorbachev in democratising Soviet society . . . would deprive conservative forces of one of their most effective weapons’.

In fact, of course, that’s evidence of pretty much nothing: Gorbachev’s reforms were heartily welcomed by all who thought that the Soviet Union constituted “actually existing socialism” while condemning its authoritarianism. Here’s Miliband in 1990:

In recent years, Mikhail Gorbachev has sought with great eloquence to define the kind of internationalism which the world requires today, and has done so in terms of universal values and aspirations, beyond boundaries of nations, classes and creeds – values and aspirations relating to peace, disarmament, the protection of the environment, and so on. These are indeed universal values, and socialists obviously subscribe to them.

…the collapse of Communist regimes in Eastern Europe (and its likely collapse elsewhere) clearly constitutes a great strengthening of the hope nurtured by conservative forces that the world might be shaped (or re-shaped) in an image acceptable to them. There is now a very good chance that some Communist countries at least will move towards the restoration of capitalism: some of them are already well advanced on that road…

Such celebration and proclamation is, however, rather premature. Soviet-type Communism, with the centrally planned command economy and the monopolistic one-party political system, is out or on the way out, and will not be resurrected. But the notion that this is the end of socialist striving and eventual socialist advances leaves a vital fact out of account. This is that, despite the current apotheosis of capitalism, it has resolved none of the problems which give sustenance to socialist aspirations and struggles. Given the inherent and ineradicable failings of capitalism, there is no reason to doubt that the striving for radical alternatives will continue.

Miliband was wrong to see that the Soviet regime ever (except perhaps briefly in the last two months of 1917) represented any kind of hopeful alternative to Western market capitalism, but he was always a sharp critic of its oppressiveness.

And what about the Daily Mail?

The Mail article mentions Miliband’s “immigrant” status (they don’t use the more accurate word “refugee”) a few times:

This was the immigrant boy whose first act in Britain was to discard his name Adolphe because of its associations with Hitler, and become Ralph, and who helped his father earn a living rescuing furniture from bombed houses in the Blitz.

This will be no surprise for those of us familiar with the Mail’s fiercely anti-immigrant – and arguably xenophobic – politics. Only last year they said that the “only responsible vote” in the French elections was not for the Thatcherite Sarkozy, but the fascist Marine Le Pen! One of the by-products of this kerfuffle is to remind people that right up to the war, the Mail (under the father of the current proprietor, Viscount Rothermere), was consistently pro-fascist:

Lord Rothermere was a friend of Benito Mussolini and Adolf Hitler, and directed the Mail’s editorial stance towards them in the 1930s.[32][33]Rothermere’s 1933 leader “Youth Triumphant” praised the new Nazi regime’s accomplishments, and was subsequently used as propaganda by them.[34] In it, Rothermere predicted that “The minor misdeeds of individual Nazis would be submerged by the immense benefits the new regime is already bestowing upon Germany”. Journalist John Simpson, in a book on journalism, suggested that Rothermere was referring to the violence against Jews and Communists rather than the detention of political prisoners.[35]

Rothermere and the Mail were also editorially sympathetic to Oswald Mosley and the British Union of Fascists.[36] Rothermere wrote an article entitled “Hurrah for the Blackshirts” in January 1934, praising Mosley for his “sound, commonsense, Conservative doctrine”.[37] This support ended after violence at a BUF rally in Kensington Olympia later that year.[38]

Here are some examples:


Rothermere, as late as 1939, wrote to Hilter congratulating him on invading Prague, and urged him to march on Romania.

Further reading

Stalin in Clerkenwell Green

From Eric Lee:

This article appears in Solidarity.  Feel free to add your comments below.


It was a beautiful May morning, one of the first warm and sunny days we’ve had all year. In Clerkenwell Green, hundreds of people were assembling for the annual official London May Day march. Many of you will not have been there — in fact there were very few trade unionists at all on this year’s march.

So let me tell you who was there — the twentieth century’s greatest serial killer, Joseph Stalin. Stalin was on several banners, and not only his image side by side with Lenin and Mao, but huge banners just with his picture alone — and quotations from his writings.

As I marched along with some trade union leaders and a traditional brass band, I could not help feeling ashamed at what the march would have looked like to onlookers, of whom there were many along the route. Ashamed and disgusted.

It’s disgusting because holding aloft iconic images of Stalin at a trade union march shows a complete lack of moral judgement. Seventy years ago, it may have been understandable — the second world war was raging, the Soviet leadership had not yet acknowledged Stalin’s crimes. But after 1956, anyone who still believed that Stalin was a great revolutionary leader was delusional. (more…)

The anti-Stalinist left: some notes from the literature. Part I: The French anti-Stalinist left

This post is the first in a short series that include extracts from the academic literature on the anti-Stalinist left. Part of the purpose of the series is to argue that there has been a strong a cohesive entity that could be called “the anti-Stalinist left”, a position I take in opposition to those who would simply say that some leftists have happened to be anti-Stalinist. Hence, it is not intended to form some kind of coherent narrative, but rather gathers together evidence from the literature for the existence of such an entity.

THE FRENCH ANTI-STALINIST LEFT

In this edition, we focus on the anti-Stalinist intellectuals associated with the surrealist movement, including Andre Breton and Georges Bataille.  (more…)

Corrigendum

Bund election poster from Latvia, inviting to ...

Bund election poster from Latvia, inviting to a meeting with member of Saeima (Parliament) Dr. Noah Maizel (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Thanks to Entdinglichung for red greetings and EP Thompson. Thanks to Petey and Peter for pointing out a couple of wrong links in recent posts. I’m re-posting the links here.

From the Eugene Debs archive: The New Age Anniversary: The Socialist Leader Says Support Labor Press that Opposed the War (pdf, 1922)

Ten years have passed since The New Age was launched and  in this brief span of time the world in which we live has been shaken and shocked, torn and devastated; ravaged and bled as never before in its history. Every page of the record capitalism has made in that time has been written in the blood of its slaughtered victims. All previous wars were crude and dismal failures in point of slaughter as a science and destruction as a fine art compared to the Twentieth Century World War under the Christian Capitalist Competitive System. All the modern ingenuity the world afforded, all the arts and sciences in its command were employed in the highly Christianized and civilized undertaking to blow the earth to atoms, destroy everything in sight, and slaughter all mankind, save alone the international bankers and profiteer and their hireling slaves.

The New Age does not have a Wikipedia entry; the British periodical of the same name and same period does, but this is the Buffalo, New York one. Founded in 1912, it was associated with the Socialist Party of America. For more information, see this tenth anniversary review by co-editor Robert Wark at archive.org.

Nick Cohen: How the Left turned on the Jews, Standpoint. Flawed but fascinating. Some extracts:

“You cry out against Jewish capital, gentlemen?” cried one. “You are against Jewish capital and want to eliminate the stock manipulators. Rightly so. Trample the Jewish capitalists under foot, hang them from the street lamps, stamp them out.”

Ruth Fischer sounded like a Nazi. She used the same hate-filled language. She wanted to murder Jews. But Hitler would never have accepted her. Fischer was a leader of the German Communist Party. She made her small differences of opinion with the Nazis clear when she went on to say that her audience should not just trample Jewish capitalists to death, but all capitalists.[...]

The movements for Jewish self-determination and Russian Communism were twins separated at birth. The First Zionist conference met on August 27, 1897, to discuss the escape from anti-Semitic Europe to Palestine. The General Jewish Labour Bund held its first conference in Vilnius on October 7, 1897, to organise the Russian Empire’s Jews in a united socialist party. The Russian Social Democratic Labour Party, from which the Bolsheviks split, held its first conference in March 1898. Naturally, the Bund sent delegates. For liberal and left-wing Europeans of the late 19th century, no regime was more repellent than Tsarist autocracy, and nothing better symbolised its reactionary nature than its anti-Semitic pogroms. Jews responded to the terror by keeping their Jewish identity and joining Jewish socialist movements, such as the Bund, or by becoming entirely assimilated Communists, as Trotsky and many others did.[...]

Rudé Právo, the organ of the Czech Communist Party, said that Slansky and his co-defendants were “Jewish cosmopolitans, people without a shred of honour, without character, without country, people who desire one thing — career, business and money”. Communists and their supporters imagined a vast Zionist conspiracy reaching from the US Supreme Court to Tito’s anti-Stalinist supporters in Yugoslavia. For all that, they maintained that they were not anti-Semites but enemies of Zionism. They might have been modern “leftists” talking about the “Israel Lobby” conspiring to organise the Iraq War of 2003, while all the time insisting that there was nothing remotely racist about their conspiracy theories.[...]

Ralph Miliband, the father of Ed and David, dissected it well. He was a Marxist who retained the capacity for independent thought, and got into a furious argument with Marcel Liebman, a fellow Marxist Jew, at the time of the Six Day War of 1967. Miliband pointed out an essential truth: that the corrupt regimes of the Middle East needed Israel and anti-Semitic conspiracy theories to distract the attention of their peoples. “If Israel did not exist, they would have to invent it,” he said.[...]

Andrew Hosken, Ken: The Ups and Downs of Ken Livingstone, Arcadia Books, 10 April 2008. Extracts at Powerbase and Adloyada. Extract from the extracts:

John Ross was at the forefront of the internal struggle to ditch the industrial strategy and get all IMG members to join the Labour Party en masse and then seek to control the Left bloc within it. Supporting Ross was another key figure in Livingstone’s political career, Redmond O’Neill. At the December 1982 conference, Ross carried the day and over the next few months IMG members joined the Labour Party. A minority who disagreed with the policy of ‘deep entryism’ split away and formed its own party, the International Group which became a political irrelevance.

Despite becoming Labour members, the Ross majority still remained organised as a separate political organization. They decided to rebrand themselves as the Socialist League, and to establish a newspaper called Socialist Action. Like Militant, the group became known by the name of their paper rather than as the Socialist League. ‘The.next steps towards a revolutionary party comprise a fight for a class struggle within the Bennite current,’ said one discussion paper at the time. [...]

The Socialist League/Socialist Action met for the first time as a central committee at the Intensive English School in Star Street near Marble Arch for the start of a two-day conference on Saturday, 22 January 1983. The official launch of Socialist Action took place the following morning[13] and it first appeared on 16 March. The group’s old paper, Socialist Challenge, ceased to exist.[14] The group’s overall revolutionary objective did not change, only the strategy to bring it about, as an internal document in January 1983 made clear: ‘…

Socialist Action believes that it will be impossible to make the transition to socialism without incurring the armed resistance of the ruling class and thereby the necessity for violent self-defence by the working class.’[15] From the outset, Ken Livingstone was clearly an important force within the ‘Bennite current’ for Socialist Action. John Ross and comrades identified two Bennite wings: the Labour Co-ordinating Committee, a left-wing coalition within the Labour Party comprising Chartists from Briefing, and the Campaign for Labour Party Democracy, CLPD. Socialist Action identified the second wing ‘crystallising around forces such as the Campaign Group of MPs, Livingstone, the left of Labour Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (LCND)… and the constituency left…’[16] Its slogans were now: ‘Deeper into the Labour Party!’, ‘Deeper into the trade unions!’, ‘For a new newspaper!’,[17] ‘Defend socialist policies!’, ‘Stop the witch-hunt!’, ‘Remove the right-wing Labour leaders!’[18]

In September 1983, Socialist Action took the decision to disappear from public view. This meant closing down the Other Bookshop and taking extreme security measures to guarantee invisibility and deniability. Two months after the decision, Socialist Action’s leadership drew up a document entitled The dissolution of the public face’. It said: ‘This is a historical fact – namely that the public face dissolved itself. This requires no public announcement but all bodies of the [Trotskyist] world movement must be informed and act accordingly.’[23] Some members disagreed with the decision; one wrote: ‘The September meeting took a momentous decision. It voted 23 for and one against to formally dissolve our public organisation. The decision was taken on the basis of a false prognosis: that following the Labour Party conference there will be an immediate witch-hunt of our supporters within the mass organisation.’[24]

Jim Denham on Eric Hobsbawm. Extract:

On the minus side is his persistent lack of identification with the working class (indeed, he now seems to say that it no longer exists), his “reality denial” (Robert Conquest’s term) over the Soviet Union, his shameful and evasive record over Hungary in 1956 (the Soviet invasion led Hill ad Thompson to resign from the CP while Hobsbawm remained) and his persistent refusal to come to terms with Stalinism itself. The fact that he was – and remains – a person of towering intellect makes these shortcomings less, not more, forgivable. While working class Communist Party members could be forgiven for not knowing about, or believing the truth of,  the full counter-revolutionary barbarity of Stalinism, an intellectual like Hobsbawm has no such excuse. As David Caute put it “One keeps asking of Hobsbawm: didn’t you know what Deutscher and Orwell knew? Didn’t you know about the induced famine, the horrors of collectivisation, the false confessions, the terror within the Party, the massive forced labour of the gulag? As Orwell himself documented, a great deal of evidence was reliably knowable even before 1939, but Hobsbawm pleads that much of it was not reliably knowable until Khrushchev’s denunciation of Stalin in 1956.”

Also new at the Marxist Internet Archive (and hopefully with no dud links this time; items in bold especially recommended):

“Added to the USA History Publications Section as part of joint project involving the Holt Labor Library, the Encyclopedia of the Trotskyism On-Line and the Riazinov Library, we have completed the digitization of he remaining volumes of the International Socialist Review published by the Charles H. Kerr Publishing Co. from 1900 through 1918. Representing America’s premier Socialist journal, the ISR had the full pantheon of American revoluitonary socialist thought expressed in it’s pages, from Eugene V. Debs to Big Bill Hayword to John Reed. Presented in high resolution PDFs. Later, we will upload separate issues for each volume, starting with the volumes listed below: 1902 – 1903, Volume 2 1910 – 1911, Volume 10 1911 – 1912, Volume 11

Added to the International Socialism Archive – 2nd Series (1991–2003):

Added to the USA History Publications Section as part of joint project involving the Holt Labor Library, the Encyclopedia of the Trotskyism On-Line and the Riazinov Library, the Left Opposition Digitization Project has started placing online the internal discussion bulletins of the early Trotskyist movement in the United States organized as the Communist League of America (Opposition)1928-1934 and then the Workers Party of the United States (1935-1936). These are the first of the entirety of the internal bulletins of the US Trotskyists through the early years of the Socialist Workers Party. Presented in high resolution PDFs.”

Below the fold, more from Entdinglichung: (more…)

Polemics

I enjoyed this post by Alan A at Harry’s Place on the the Stalinist control of  “progressive” political space in Britain. Here’s an extract:

The Guardian’s Wykhamist associate editor, Seumas Milne,  cut his political teeth in the Straight Left faction of the Communist Party of Great Britain. Straight Left were “Tankies”: that is, hardline Stalinist opponents of the liberalising “Eurocommunist” faction within the CPGB. They were called “Tankies” becstdause they (notionally) supported the “liberation” (by tanks) of Hungary and Czechoslovakia from “counterrevolutionaries” in 1956 and 1968. Here’s Milne, demonstrating his lack of repentance:

For all its brutalities and failures, communism in the Soviet Union, eastern Europe and elsewhere delivered rapid industrialisation, mass education, job security and huge advances in social and gender equality. It encompassed genuine idealism and commitment… Its existence helped to drive up welfare standards in the west, boosted the anticolonial movement and provided a powerful counterweight to western global domination.

Milne has helped to fill the comment pages of the Guardian with the supporters and representatives of genocidal antisemitic terrorist movements.

The Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament is run by Kate Hudson, who is a leading member of the Communist Party of Britain. The CPB is the Stalinist rump of the CPGB, which reconstituted itself after the Eurocommunist wing dissolved the party. CND itself previously contained a Stasi spy, Vic Allen, at its highest level.

Hudson was previously married to the late Redmond O’Neil, Ken Livingstone’s chief of staff, who was an activist in Socialist Action: which is what the Trotskyite International Marxist Group became after it infiltrated the Labour Party. Socialist Action controls the Palestine Solidarity Campaign.

Kate Allen, the Director of Amnesty International UK… Under her leadership, Amnesty has hosted a series of meetings promoting the delegitimisation and indeed the destruction of Israel, at which prominent anti-Jewish racists have spoken. Moreover, her team at Amnesty includes Elena Dallas the daughter of Tony Cliff: the founder of the Socialist Workers Party,

The Stop the War Coalition is run by Andrew Murray, also of the Communist Party of Britain. He is also the communications officer of the union, Unite. Famously, he is a supporter of North Korea:

“Our Party has already made its basic position of solidarity with Peoples Korea clear”

I could say more, but you get the general idea.

Stalinism watch:

From The Soviet Files: An American ‘Negro Republic’ – the Communist Secession plot; Paul Robeson, Stalinist;

More polemics:

The AWL versus the anarchists; Carl Packman vs Hugo Chavez.

Book notes:

A review (scroll down) of Masscult and Midcult: Essays Against the American Grain by Dwight Macdonald (New York Review of Books, October 2011)

Unfortunately, like the political causes Macdonald championed—he was long-involved with the anti-Stalinist left and fancied himself an anarchist—history has not been kind to his cherished concept of Midcult. The cultural lines that Macdonald defended have mostly gone the way of the Berlin Wall, replaced by a heterogeneous culture of blended boundaries.

And from Socialist Review: A Rebel’s Guide to Rosa Luxemburg by Sally Campbell, Classic read – Studs Lonigan by James T Farrell.

History notes:

The AWL on the Clyde Workers’ Committee of 1915; Rosa Luxemburg on trade union bureaucracy; Paul Buhle on syndicalism;

From Entdinglichung:

Erklärung des Barrikade-Herausgebers zu den Ermittlungsverfahren wegen Rudolf Rocker, gefunden auf syndikalismus.tk, die Staatsanwaltschaft Münster hat das vom Rechthaber und bürgerlichen Kommunalpolitiker Heiner M. Becker angestrengte Verfahren gegen einen Genossen wegen angeblicher Verletzung Beckerscher Urheberrechte an Rudolf Rocker eingestellt, hier ein Auszug:

„Die Staatsanwaltschaft Münster hat umfängliche Untersuchungen angestellt und das gesamte Umfeld der FAU und der Internet-Plattform „Syndikalismus.tk“ ausgeleuchtet.

Was bleibt? Bösartige Verleumdung, nachweislich falsche Anschuldigungen, unbewiesene Behauptungen – und eine Staatsanwaltschaft, die nun eine dicke Akte über die aktuelle anarchosyndikalistische Szene („Bewegung“) vor sich liegen hat.

Dies hat nun zwar für mich keine weiteren strafrechtlichen Konsequenzen, aber der Schaden für unsere kleine Bewegung ist immens. Aus diesem Grunde verlange ich eine öffentliche Erklärung der FAU Berlin zu diesem Vorgang und die Übernahme sämtlicher Kosten, die durch diese Beschuldigung [strafrechtlich übrigens ebenso relevant lt. §§ 164 und 187 StGB wie eine Verletzung eines angeblichen Urheberrechts] entstanden sind, durch die Verursacher.

Ansonsten bleibt es dabei: weder Heiner M. Becker noch sonstwer hat die Rechte und private Verfügungsgewalt über das literarische und agitatorische Werk von Rudolf Rocker und seiner Frau Milly Wittkop-Rocker!“

bleibt anzumerken, dass die Schriften aller Revolutionäre der revolutionären Bewegung gehören, woran auch das Rumgepupe von angeblichen Eigentümern – ob sie nun Herr Becker oder Pathfinder Press heissen – nichts ändert!

From the US Marxist Humanists:

An assessment of the Arab Spring half a year later, in light of (1) the “clash of barbarisms” between the U.S. and Al Qaeda, (2) Marx’s concept of revolution, and (3) the possibilities for a revolutionary future Read More…

Marx’s writings on slavery, race, and class in relation to capital are examined in light of critics who paint him as a class reductionist with little awareness of or sensitivity to race

The Arab spring/Spanish echoes

703577_photo_1.jpgDave Osler writes:

True, Gaddafi has not won yet. But it is starting to look as if superior military hardware is a telling that advantage that will deliver victory to the Libyan strongman sooner or later.

Analogies have already been drawn with the Spanish civil war [here and here, for instance], which seems to me to stretch the historical parallels somewhat.

Although I haven’t had a chance to think the question through yet, my gut instinct would be to support calls for western governments to arm the rebels. But as far as I am aware, no prominent political figure in the US or Europe has publicly backed such a plan.

Jim Denham has some more compelling analogies: The Morning Star: those wonderful folks who brought you the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact / From Jack London to the scabs of the Morning Star, Socialist Worker and Counterfire. Dale Street also notes George Galloway’s Stalinism:

In his semi-autobiographical work “I’m Not the Only One”, Galloway wrote: “”Just as Stalin industrialized the Soviet Union, so on a different scale Saddam plotted Iraq’s own Great Leap Forward. … He is likely to have been the leader in history who came closest to creating a truly Iraqi national identity, and he developed Iraq and the living, health, social and education standards of his own people.”

And in the comments thread at BobFromBrockley:

Clearly, the SWP are taking a much better line than the reactionary hardcore anti-imp position (the scab position, as Jim Denham rightly puts it) taken by Noah and Calvin Tucker, Andy Newman and John Wight. It would be good to see the SWP revert to Third Camp form, having swayed so long to a Second Camp position. (Interesting that John Wight attributes the SWP’s wrongness to their state capitalist analysis: Tucker, Wight, Newman and co are essentially Stalinists, whose very un-21st century idea of “socialism” always involves a strong state and a strongman at the helm.)

Poumisceral

Danny Lambert of the Socialist Party of Great ...

Image via Wikipedia

Timothy Snyder’s new book Bloodlands: Europe between Hitler and Stalin is getting some attention. It sounds fascinating but flawed. Here are two sample reviews: by Neal Ascherson and by Richard J Evans. (More reviews, from automatically generated links, at the bottom of the page.) Also read this great piece by Snyder on totalitarian Belarus: In Darkest Belarus.

The Lost Revolution: The Story of the Official IRA and the Workers’ Party by Brian Hanley and Scott Millar has also gotten a fair amount of press, rather more surprisingly. Here’s reviews by Daniel Finn, Conor McCabe, and Chris Gray.

Other book reviews by Andrew Coates: Francis Spufford’s Red Plenty (on Stalinism’s “golden age”), John Holloway’s Crack Capitalism.

Mike McNair has had an interesting series in the Weekly Worker on Trotskyist entrism in the Labour Party over the years, which I keep meaning to link to. Here’s the final episode. Also in the WW: Jack Tansey defends left communism.

Sean Matgamna’s very belated obit for Ernst Mandel. Also from the AWL: Dale Street on How Stalinism crushed the Vietnamese Trotskyists, and Matgamna on what a revolutionary party is and is not.

Below the fold, From the Archive of Struggle no.53, mainly from Entdinglichung: (more…)

On this day: 22 June 1937 – Andres Nin murdered

I read this post from Rustbelt Radical last year, a few months after it was posted, and it moved me greatly. Rather than link to it then, I thought it would be good to save it for the anniversary this year. It is Victor Serge’s tribute to a great man and his indictment of Stalinism.

A Spanish Spectre

andreu NIN y Solano

The memory of Stalinism in the collective mind is often focused on the gray tower bloc and the gulag, on the cult of personality and the official lie.  Stalinism’s perfidy was not limited, however, to razor wire on the Siberian steppe or to the assassination chamber of a spattered Moscow basement.  On this day in 1937 in the midst of the Spanish Civil War Andrès Nin, a leading member of the Workers Party of Marxist Unity (POUM), was murdered by Stalinists.

Stalinism’s raison d’être, like all bureaucracies, was the defense of itself and the greatest threat to it came from the working class it claimed to lead.  Perhaps nowhere was that threat greater than in the Spain of the 1930s.  Nin was a partisan of workers’ power, of workers’ democracy- ideas fatal to Stalinism.  He was murdered along with thousands of others in the name of “anti-fascist unity”; that is unity between the Stalinists and the ghosts of the liberal Spanish bourgeoisie.  The fascists won and ruled Spain for the next 40 years.  Never forgive, never forget.

poum copia (more…)

Poumic

Stalinism and anti-Stalinism

At AVPS, an interesting discussion on what actually “Stalinism” is. At Coatesy’s place, Lindsey German and the Trotskyist Tradition, on democratic centralism, the SWP and Trotky’s ambiguous legacy. From Michael Ezra, some real Stalinists, those who defend North Korea.

Found via Bermuda Radical, here is Paul Kellog on Slavoj Zizek’s failed encounter with Leninism. (“The net effect of Žižek’s analysis is not to resurrect Lenin, but to resurrect Stalin – an utterly irresponsible project given the nightmare of Stalinism from which we have only just emerged. The article will offer some suggestions for a more fruitful approach to “resurrecting” the political legacy of Vladimir Lenin.”)

 

French Writer Albert Camus Smoking Cigarette on Balcony Outside His Publishing Firm Office Premium Photographic Print

Albert Camus

Lettrist discusses Camus The Stranger here. Meanwhile, an intriguing snippet from a Romanian magazine, via Eurozine:

Radu Cosasu writes that Albert Camus was “neither communist nor anti-communist”, a nuance difficult to digest for those “incapable of seeing the Left as anything but communist” (issue 310); and Sever Voinescu explains why such nuances are impossible for the moment in Romania: the country “never had an anti-communist Left; at most, and emerging just now, it has a Left that is indifferent to communism”.

Victor Serge

Not sure if I’ve already linked to this: Victor Serge: Revolution in life and literature, found via Marxist Update. Here is a snippet from a Jonathan Ree piece on JM Coetzee:

Susan Sontag would have agreed with Coetzee about the political significance of literature. The novel, as she remarks in her last, posthumous collection At the Same Time (Hamish Hamilton), exists to recall us to a sense of the interminable diversity that is the basis of what she calls “politics, the politics of democracy.” In a substantial essay on Victor Serge, she praises him for having combined political militancy with a serious engagement with the art of writing. As a mature novelist, she says, Serge was able to deploy “several different conceptions of how to narrate,” elaborating a capacious “I” as a device for “giving voice to others.” It was through his narratorial doubles that he liberated himself from what he called the “former beautiful simplicity” of the fight between capitalism and socialism, so as to produce books that were “better, wiser, more important than the person who wrote them.”

Morning Star/Daily Worker: 80 years of lies

Here.

Workers’ Liberty

Some features from the Alliance for Workers Liberty, some new, some from the archive, below the fold. I have already included some of these in my From the Archive of Struggle series, but, hey, you can’t have too much of a good thing! Also, further down, a small number of other articles, including Eric Lee on Trotsky and some recent pieces from Against the Current.

(more…)

Tings and tings

Killing and dying for “the old lie” - World War and the triumph of militarism over anti-fascism.

Spain is nice at this time of year - the BNP and Spanish fascism.

Beijing Coma – can the symbols of classic socialism still be symbols of emancipation, despite their blood stains?

Oscar Wilde on socialist songs – Up, ye People! or down into your graves!

The partisan poet – Adam Kirsch on Abba Kovner.

Ethel MacDonald and Bob Smillie – and Guy Aldred and Fenner Brockway. More Guy Aldred.

Carlo Tresca – The Dilemma of an Anti-Communist Radical.

The sweet and the cruel - Ian Buruma on Occupied Paris.

The Labour Party between the wars - ideological contours.

A postcard from Coyoacan – Trotsky’s last home in Mexico.

TROTSKY’s STUDY – WHERE HE WAS SITTING WHEN HE WAS MURDERED  WITH AN ICE PICK

Translated novels - including Victor Serge’s Unforgiving Years.

Stalin’s Terror – a review by Peter Taafe.

David North on Robert Service on Leon Trotksy (and on James Burnham on Isaac Duetscher on Leon Trotsky) – not sure if I’ve already posted this one.

Open letter to Havana - on Stalinist slurs against the Freedom Socialist Party.

The Black Marxist Tradition – an interview with Cedric J Robinson.

You don’t play with revolution, Alfie – Lady Poverty on CLR James on Marxism. (And here’s James from AK.)

The Search for the Tassili Frescoes – Afrocentrist history and CLR James at Federal College.

The John Hope Franklin File - the FBI, anti-communism and black history.

Stalin: Why and How – Boris Souvarine.

The myth of Mondragon - Louis Proyect debunks Spanish autogestion?

Poplarism - a review of Janine Booth’s book.

Half a century of Hausman’s – from the North East London radicals, from Permanent Revolution.

A Rebel’s dream – Ian Birchall on Ernest Mandel.

George Padmore – forgotten fighter.

Reasoning otherwise - Canadian radicalism 1890-1920.

More years of the locust - Permanent Revolution on Jim Higgins on the origins of the IS.

Decline – Scott McLemee on Cornel West. Plus more from Michael Tomasky.

New from AK: Italian anarchism 1864-92, French anarchism 1917-45, Zapatismo and the Panthers.

Flag Day in Lawrence, MA, 1912 – a slice of IWW history.

What is the CNT? Two from Christie Books:

Facts About the Spanish Resistance 2 – What is the CNT? by José Peirats

Anarchists in LondonThe Anarchists in London 1935-1955 by Albert Meltzer

Democratic Green Stalinist?

I don’t tend to use this site for real time political polemics (see here for a rare example), However, I followed the recommendation from Socialist Unity for the new issue of Democratic Green Socialist‘s new special 1989 issue. And I found most of the issue taken up with caveated apologies for Stalinism, with nostalgia for Uncle Joe. The issue shows that, even in 2009, Stalinophilia remains a persistent problem on the left. For example, Anne Edmonds says the DDR and the Stasi weren’t all that bad, Luke Ivory says “defend October” (a Stalinophiliac trope), John Wight laments the passing of the USSR, Andy Newman says there was good as well as bad in the DDR. Kevin Williamson‘s excellent article, “Freedom is a Noble Thing”, is a shining exception, and Graham Jepps’ brief review of Victor Serge’s The Case of Comrade Tuleyev is good too. Here’s Williamson:

[...] The collapse of the Berlin Wall was another such occasion best swept under the leftist carpet.  All over the world million rightly celebrated whilst many on the Marxist left grumbled privately among themselves.  Instead of raising a glass of cheer to the overthrow of the totalitarian regimes of Easter Europe they rued what might have been and predicted gloom and doom “under capitalism” for those who lived in the former Communist Bloc countries.

Many on the left still harken back nostalgically to a time when supposedly progressive leftist regimes created repressive obscenities like the Cheka (December 1917) and the Stasi (1950).  How could such a state of confusion exist?  What do secret police and surveillance and repression of political opponents have to do with progressive politics? Are universal suffrage and free elections not the foundations stones of democratic progress?

How could the left have become so blasé about democracy?  Lest we forget Chartists and Suffragettes had given their liberty, and even their lives, to prise universal suffrage from the grasp of a privileged elite.  It is on their traditions and gains the modern progressive leftist stands.  Only an obsolete antideluvian left would be as politically disorientated as to utilise the methods and ideology of revolutionary movements which took place in pre-democratic eras.
[...]

For the progressive left the concepts of freedom and democracy need to be positioned at the centre of everything.  The real challenge is to find new innovative ways to extend and deepen democracy into every area of life – economic and social – rather than undermine it through a contemptuous attitude towards its current failings.  It’s a challenge that will sort out the liberationist wheat from the authoritarian chaff.

P.S. To further avoid sectarianism, here are a couple of recommendations from the back issue: John Wight on James Connolly, Willie Duncan on Barca FC, and Stewart Hunter on the Spanish Civil War.

UPDATE: For the antidote, read this wonderful short post about 1989 at Facing The War.

UPDATE 2: From the new Socialist Review: Mark L Thomas, Mike Haynes and Colin Barker look at the tumultuous events of 1989 that brought down the Stalinist regimes in Eastern Europe and Russia, and the impact of market capitalism which replaced them. Chris Harman looks back at the fall of the Berlin Wall and the continued relevence of the theory of state capitalism.

Published in: on November 16, 2009 at 2:33 pm  Comments (13)  
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The life of Trotsky

Excellent post by Michael Ezra a propos of Robert Service’s new biography of Trotsky, but mainly taking apart Isaac Deutscher’s hagiography of Trotsky. Extract:

In [Deutscher's] account of the Kronstadt rebellion, there is no mention of Trotsky’s famous order, “shoot them like partridges.” He  was also not immune from errors of fact. For example, Deutscher claimed that the Kronstadt rebellion was “led by Anarchists.” In truth, as Robert Daniels had previously shown (American Slavic and East European Review, December 1951), it was “a strong opposition movement … in Communist Party organisations” that had been at the forefront of the rebellion. Despite the fact that thousands were killed by the Bolsheviks for this rebellion, Deutscher does not draw the logical conclusion that P.G. Maximoff had earlier drawn:

As in many other instances we have here a clear case of mass murder subject to criminal prosecution.

If anyone is any doubt as to the way Deutscher viewed Trotsky, his following sentence should give some clarification:

The passions of [Trotsky’s] intellect and heart, always uncommonly large and intense… swelled into a tragic energy as mighty and high as that which animates the prophets and the law-givers of Michelangelo’s vision.

Some interesting stuff too in the comments thread.

And from an opposite perspective, the Cedar Lounge Revolution on a review by Robert Harris of Service’s book. Also an interesting comment thread.

Or, for a totally different sort of Trotsky biog, check this out.

Bonus links: Trotsky on terrorism 1 & 2, Exile in Buyukada, Peter Taafe on Robert Service, Trotsky on factionalism, Sergei Essenin.

The image at the top comes from a wonderful photoset which goes with this nice post: The Trotsky Museum.

Click here for related posts, including Trotsky’s bad driving, Hitchens and Service chatting about Trotsky, Stalin’s nemesis, Trotsky’s ashes based into cookies.

Published in: on October 19, 2009 at 11:10 am  Comments (7)  
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Poumaholic

Some alternative histories: The shipwrecked: anti-fascist refugees during WWII. Francesc Ferrer i Guàrdia a century after his death. Rising East: London radical history day. Karl Pfeifer in Jerusalem.

Marek Edelman: Two more for the list: Terry Glavin’s post has a fascinating comment thread (I agree with The Plump), plus: This mandolin kills fascists.

La lucha continua: Venezuelan anarchism: Introducing El Libertario. Save Obtilia Eugenio Manuel. A visa for Principe Gabriel Gonzalez.

On old and new Stalinisms: Repelling Stalinoid attacks on Makhnovism. Happy Honecker! Nazi-Comintern collaboration and the DDR. A glorious leap backward. Socialist Unity: From Soviet Union to the GDR, and the People’s Republic of China. Stalin a mass murderer after all.

The democratic socialist tradition: The uncollected Michael Foot. Changing times: Minnie Lansbury and Poplarism. Reading about George Lansbury. Tom Paine for today.

Theory and praxis: Murdering the dead: on Amadeo Bordiga today. Castoriadis and magnanimity.

Politics and morality: The IMG and the morality of the Brighton bombing. The new McCarthyism and the BNP. A fitting tribute to Anna Politkovskaya.

See full size imageDurham Miners' Gala, Michael FootFrancisco Ferrer's PicturePolitkovskaya
Below the fold: Libcom’s most recent anarchist biographies. (more…)

Poumishly

Anti-Stalinism

Eugene Debs: war resistor. Ilse Mattick: a great woman. Leni Jungclas: A great woman. Stieg Larsson: The Trot Who Played with Fire. Dwight MacDonald: Partisan Middlebrow. Barroso v Cohn-Bendit: debating European politics. George Orwell: poet of the everyday. Martin Simecka: dissident legacy. Added: Alas, poor Trotsky (against Justin Raimondo).

Stalinism

All that pink: Nancy Astor and Bernard Shaw with Uncle Joe. Stalin nostalgia. Fauxialism, in Venezuelan, Chinese and British varieties. Russia, Poland and the history wars.

More on Irving Kristol

Hendrik Hertzberg, Cas Muddle, Dave Osler.

John Cornford (and Brian Pearce, and Leon Trotsky, and Trotsky’s Mercedes)

From Histomatist:

Browsing George Galloway’s site this morning, as one does, the following news announcement caught my eye:

George Galloway will be with host Matthew Parris on Great Lives – a weekly biographical series where each guest talks about a person in public life who is very special to them. George has chosen the poet John Cornford who was killed, tragically young, in the Spanish Civil War. He would like you to join him for 30 minutes to discover why he finds John’s life so inspirational.
Broadcasting on BBC Radio 4 on Tuesday the 18th of August at 4:30pm, then repeated on Friday the 21st at 11pm.
And also available on BBC iPlayer from 19th August.

The Communist poet John Cornford did indeed have a ‘great’ if tragically short, life – and the sacrifice of those like Cornford who gave their lives fighting fascism remains an utterly relevant inspiration for our anti-fascist struggle today. Cornford is clearly a hero for Galloway – see this characteristically short eloquent 2006 article – John Cornford and the Fight for the Spanish Republic – and his choice of a ‘Great Life’ and its timing – has to be applauded. However, one suspects that simply heralding Cornford as a ‘fighter for the Spanish Republic’ may actually miss not only some of the complexity of his politics but also downplay somewhat their revolutionary nature.

As the late great revolutionary historian Brian Pearce once noted, ‘Cornford was killed in action in December 1936, fighting with the International Brigade in Spain. His writings while in Spain suggest that, had he lived, his Marxist approach would have brought him into conflict with Stalinism.’ Pearce referred to John Cornford: A Memoir, edited by Pat Sloan (1938), which ‘consists of selections from the writings of the young man to whom the socialist movement in the universities in that period owed more than to anybody else, together with contributions by people who knew him.’ As Pearce noted,

For Cornford the struggle in Spain was ‘a revolutionary war’. ‘In Catalonia at least the overwhelming majority of the big employers went over to the fascists. Thus the question of socialism was placed on the order of the day.’ The Spanish Communist Party should ‘force recognition from the government of the social gains of the revolution’. Cornford feared that the party was ‘a little too mechanical in its application of People’s Front tactics. It is still concentrating too much on trying to neutralize the petty bourgeoisie – when by far the most urgent task is to win the anarchist workers…’

Though he had no time for anarchism, Cornford saw that the main body of militant workers in the principal industrial region of Spain, around Barcelona, were anarchists, and, being a sincere communist, that meant for him that the party’s task was first and foremost to get among those workers, establish close ties with them, and win them for Marxism. The line actually taken by the Stalinists was first to stick a label on the anarchist workers (‘uncontrollables’, the 1937 equivalent of ‘Left adventurists’), then to work up a pogrom spirit against them among the followers of the Communist Party, and finally to attack and decimate them, using an armed force recruited among former policemen and the middle class.

I do hope George Galloway’s discussion of Cornford will find time to condemn the counter-revolutionary nature of Stalinism in revolutionary Spain, though something tells me I shouldn’t get my hopes up too much on this score.

Speaking of Pearce, those with access to a university library might check out the latest issue of Revolutionary Russia (v. 22, no. 1 (June 2009) which carries a long obituary alongside two tributes from academic historians, and those without might check out the latest issue of Revolutionary History which also has an obituary.

I am indebted to POUMista for drawing my attention to this photo of George Orwell – another witness to the counter-revolutionary nature of Stalinism in Spain of course – which as POUMista notes ‘highlights the fact that Orwell, although thought of by some as a Little Englander, was fundamentally an internationalist and cosmopolitan, and in many senses a postcolonial figure.’

Finally, POUMista also drew my attention to Reading the Maps on the late Leszek Kolakowski whose passing seems to have caused no end of debate and turmoil on the blogosphere.

For a similar, slightly harsher, take on Galloway on Corford, see this old post by Bob. Bob does not like George Galloway. (For non-Scots mystified by the Brigada‘s intervention: sleekit, sook.) On Kolakowski, I think I missed Peter Ryley’s excellent “cool reflection”.

Also from Histomatist:

Sorry, a bit irrelevant I know, but I was digging through some old files and, well, speaking of Trotsky, I came across this snippet on page 28 of With Trotsky in Exile by Jean Van Heijenoort which I thought ought to be shared with Histomat readers. It’s about when Trotsky tried to learn to drive at some point during the 1920s.

Trotsky, when still in Russia, had expressed the desire to have a car and to drive. Joffe, a Soviet diplomat and friend of Trotsky, sent him from abroad a Mercedes, specially equipped with a powerful engine. Trotsky took the wheel and, after five hundred yards, went into a ditch. That was the end of the driving.

On this day: 31 July 1937- NKVD operative order 00447

NKVD operative order 00447 «Об операции по репрессированию бывших кулаков, уголовников и других антисоветских элементов» (The operation for repression of former kulaks, criminals and other anti-Soviet elements) is approved by the Politburo. Originally the operation was planned for four months; the plan was for 75,950 people to be executed and an additional 193,000 to be sent to the GULAG. The operation was extended multiple times. Altogether, through the summer of 1938, at least 818,000 people were arrested and not less than 436,000 were executed.

To execute this order, NKVD troikas were created on the levels of republic, krai, and oblast. Investigation was to be performed by operative groups “in a speedy and simplified way”, the results were to be delivered to troikas for trials.

The chairman of a troika was the chief of the corresponding territorial subdivision of NKVD ( People’s Commissar of a republican NKVD, etc.). Usually a troika included the prosecutor of the republic/krai/oblast in question; if not, he was allowed to be present at the session of a troika. The third person was usually the Communist Party secretary of the corresponding regional level. The staff of these troikas were personally specified in the Order # 00447.

Protocols of a troika session were passed to the corresponding operative group for executions of sentences. Times and places of executions of death sentences were ordered to be held in secret.

The same order instructed to classify kulaks and other anti-Soviet elements into two categories: the First category of repressed was subject to death by shooting, the Second category was subject to labor camps. The order set upper quotas per territory and category. For example Byelorussian SSR was estimated to have 2,000 (1st cat.) + 10,000 (2nd cat.) = 12,000 anti-Soviet elements. It was specifically stressed that quotas were estimates and could not be exceeded without personal approval of Yezhov. But in practice this approval was easy to obtain, and eventually these initial quotas were exceeded by orders of magnitude. For example, in September 1937, the Dagestan obkom requested the increase of the First Category from 600 to 1,200; the request was granted the next day.

After this Order, the terms First/Second Category became standard abbreviations in NKVD documentation for “the highest measure of punishment” and “placing into corrective labor camps”, respectively.

The implimentation was swift. Already by August 15, 1937, 101,000 was arrested and 14,000 convicted.

Sources: 1, 2.

¶ Related: I recently found an interesting document on Archive.org: the memoirs of Valentín González, “El Campesino”, Spanish Republican guerrilla fighter who spent years in a Soviet labour camp at Vorkuta. The memoirs were written in France with the help of Poumista Julian Gorkin.

Published in: on July 31, 2009 at 3:56 pm  Comments (2)  
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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…)

Radical history web 2.0

[From the archive of struggle, no.17]

Via Tendance Coatesy, we find a blog for the Country Standard, the Communist Party of Great Britain’s rural paper. A bit Stalinist, of course, for my liking, but some fascinating historical stuff. In particular, quite a bit about the early history of the Indendent Labour Party in rural areas, especially in the Northwest, and of the Clarion movement.

Across the Atlantic, The Sojourner Truth Organization: Notes Toward a History is a wonderful project. Of particular interest among recent(ish) stuff is Don Hamerquist in the 1970s articulating a careful anti-Stalinist Leninism in polemics against a then-nameless grouping from Boston, which eventually became the core of the Proletarian Unity League, which in turn was one of the founding elements of the Freedom Road Socialist Organization in the mid-1980s.

The STO, incidentally, have been discussed in the Big Flame blog I already linked to. The use of blogging for grassroots history projects, as in these three examples is one of the great features of Web 2.0, of what Bob calls “citizen scholarship“.

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