Anarchist notes

A few bits and bobs, not quite a full edition of my From the Archive of Struggle series.

Anarcho-syndicalists in the Mexican revolution: the Casa del Obrero Mundial

A critical account of the Mexican anarcho-syndicalist union the Casa del Obrero Mundial which took up arms against revolutionary peasants. From the Anarchist Federation, at LibCom.

The IWW and Music: Creating a Working Class Counter-Culture

This article discusses how the early IWW used music both as an organising tool and as a means of developing a sense of community among its members. It puts these activities in the context of the politics and practical activity of the IWW during this period.

KDVS Interview with Lucien van der Walt, co-author of “Black Flame”

The interview covers issues like defining anarchism, anarchism and trade unions today,  the issue of centralisation, anarchism and globalisation then and now, the Soviet Union and Communism,  the Spanish Civil War, anarchism and immigration today, the relationship between class struggle and other forms of oppression, anarchism after Seattle, and anarchism and postmodernism.

Proudhon, Marx and the Paris Commune

This update of Property is Theft! is focused on two key issues, Proudhon and Marx as well as Proudhon’s influence on the Paris Commune (which explains why it has been updated on the 18th of March!). The two are inter-related, simply because many key “Marxist” positions are first found in Proudhon’s work or date from the 1871 revolt and, ironically, simply repeat the ideas raised by the Communards who in turn found them in Proudhon…  The update involves the appendix of texts from the Commune as well as Proudhon’s 1846 letter to Marx and extracts from System of Economic Contradictions (both volume 1 and volume 2, some of the later translated for the first time).

Towards an anarchist history of the Chinese revolution

By Andrew Flood. Outside of a few events including the Long March and the Shanghai commune the development of the Chinese revolution is relatively unknown on the western left in comparison with the revolutions in Russia in 1917, Spain in 1936 or even the Paris spring of 1968. Those sections of that left influenced by or proclaiming themselves to be Maoist haven’t helped that situation much. Their histories have tended towards simple tales focusing on the role of one man and collapsed a 100-year history of revolution into the events important to him. [Italiano]

Organise! magazine anti-Poll Tax articles scanned in Issues 14-27 from 1988-1992

To celebrate the 20th Anniversary of non-payment of the Poll Tax in England & Wales (following non-registration in 1989 and solid mass non-payment in Scotland), to remember the commitment of community campaigns which helped us support each other in non-payment, and to take inspiration from the great Poll Tax Riot in London on 31th March 1990 and smaller uprisings in many local areas, we present all of the scanned in articles published in Organise! magazine over the period 1988-1992 spanning fourteen issue.

On this day, 1945: Eileen O’Shaughnessy died

Eileen Maud O’Shaughnessy (September 25, 1905-March 29, 1945) was the first wife of British writer George Orwell.

O’Shaughnessy was born in South ShieldsCounty Durham, in the north-east of England, the only daughter of Marie O’Shaughnessy and Lawrence O’Shaughnessy, who was a customs collector. (more…)

Published in: on March 29, 2010 at 11:12 pm  Comments (5)  
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Refuting the stupid left’s charge sheet against Orwell

Post of the week:

If there is hope: George Orwell then and now, by Dave Osler

Here’s to Dave winning the Orwell Prize for Blogging. And here’s to Ray, my other preferred winner. Their longlisted entries below the fold. [Note: I notice that these links don’t work. I’m fixing some of them now, will try and do them all later.] (more…)

Published in: on March 29, 2010 at 1:17 pm  Comments (2)  


One of the better defences of Leon Trotsky from Robert Service that I’ve seen: by Hillel Ticktin in the Weekly Worker. There’s also an interview with Ticktin, one of Britain’s smartest Trotskyists, in the same issue, as a celebration of Critique‘s 50th issue.

Via Histomatist: A new website dedicated to the socialist novelist Edward Upward (1903-2009) has been launched by one of his grandsons here.

Our comrade Michael Ezra remember’s the glory days of Militant, and gives us a late Valentine’s day classic from the vaults of Tribune.

Talking of Tribune, I missed la Brigada’s mini-series on the late Michael FootEnd Of An EraFootnotePublic Speaking.

From International Perspectives, a left communist view of the “Bolivarian revolution” (posted for “nice“).

From the Christopher Hitchens archive: several videos of him talking about George Orwell, and articles on the anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall and on his pal Francis Wheen’s biography of Das Kapital by Marx.

Two pieces of essential reading, I guess

Two items from my regular read blogs have caught my eye and have been printed out awaiting a more thorough read, as they relate to the core of what this blog is about:

Histomatist: On Marxism and Anarchism

Louis Proyect: History of the Marxist Internationals (part 4, the Centrists)

If you get there before me, and have something to say, leave a comment.

Published in: on March 21, 2010 at 11:41 pm  Comments (2)  

Remembering Colin Ward


One more for Colin Ward: Nicolas Holliman remembers the man, and Anarchy magazine which he edited.

(Previous post on Colin Ward.)

Published in: on March 19, 2010 at 9:17 pm  Leave a Comment  
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To add to my Michael Wood notes, Histomatist, and through him Tristram Hunt. This Foot quote is great:

‘In my opinion, Marxism is a great creed of human liberation. It is the creed which says that when all other empires fade and vanish, our business is to enlarge the empire of the human mind.’

On a different topic, Histomatist writes:

There is a fair chance readers of this blog will have come across New Left Review, celebrating its fiftieth anniversary this year, but how many readers of Histomat know a great deal about the original Left Review, founded by sympathisers of the Communist Party of Great Britain in 1934? Well, for those who are suitably intrigued, let the late great historian of British Communism Brian Pearce be your guide…

Louis Proyect continues his series with a long and fascinating account of the history of the Third International, which one day I will respond to more thoroughly. He uses an important book by Werner Angress as a key source, and then posts about the Ritchie Boys, one of which Angress was (this is the Jewish paratroopers behind Nazi lines in WW2, the real life inglorious basterds I guess).

Been looking at George Scialabba‘s website lately. Lots of interesting stuff. I think I might have linked to some of this already but here’s some recent texts:

I got to Scialabba via Platypus, which is featuring a conversation with him on intellectuals, which touches on Irving Howe, Michael Harrington and other of my reference points. Also featured: Chris Cutrone on Karl Korsch, Joshua Howard on Lukacs and totality, and Uli von Hagen on Rosa Luxemburg.

Two from Coatesy: towards a reassessment of Michel Raptis and Pabloism, and on crusty feudal Tariq Ali’s historical illiteracy when it comes to French secularism.

At Stumbling & Mumbling, Chris Dillow asks: Is it time for a revival of interest in Baran and Sweezy’s Monopoly Capital?

To note, even though I have not yet bothered to read this, Rob Sewell at In Defence of Marxism, another ortho-Trot take-down of Robert Service on Leon Trotsky.

Also: Paul Buhle: Scottish Workers in History. Stefan Collini: New Left Review at 50. Anarcha-feminism in Barcelona on the CNT’s 100th birthday.

F*ck da police?

In ale gasn / Hey, hey, daloy politsey!–In every street / Hey, hey, down with the police

Youtube. Via Nada.

[Note, the youTube says “Yiddish anarchist song”, but I think it is a bit broader than that, and is included in the YIVO’s In Love and In Struggle: The Musical Legacy of the Jewish Labor Bund.]

Published in: on March 17, 2010 at 1:12 pm  Leave a Comment  

From the archive of struggle no.45

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

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

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

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

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

JPEG - 56.3 ko JPEG - 31.6 ko

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

They Were Collaborators #634

Kurt Weill and Ira Gershwin

Seminal Image #994

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

This Sporting Life #16

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

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

From the Marxist Internet Archive: (more…)

Manolis Glezos

On March 9, police in Athens tear-gassed the 88-year-old Manolis Glezos. “On May 30 1941, in Nazi-occupied Athens, he and Apostolos Santas climbed up the Acropolis and tore down the Swastika – an action for which he was arrested and tortured the following year.” (Andy) (more…)

Published in: on March 12, 2010 at 3:39 am  Leave a Comment  

New from Kate Sharply

I’m pinching this from AK, as it is easier than wrestling with the KSL’s web formatting. Lots of great stuff.

Our pals at the Kate Sharpley Library have been busy, First, they’ve just published the February/March edition of their Bulletin:

KSL: Bulletin of the Kate Sharpley Library No. 61, February/March 2010

They’ve also got a new pamphlet out:

New pamphlet on the resistance to Francoism by Antonio Téllez

The Kate Sharpley Library are pleased to announce our latest publication:
“Anarchist International Action Against Francoism From Genoa 1949 to The First Of May Group” by Antonio Téllez Solà, translated by Paul Sharkey

From the end of the Spanish Civil War, the anarchist movement fought to undermine the Francoist dictatorship. Solidarity actions in Western Europe aimed to isolate the regime, and bring pressure to bear in defence of militants inside Spain. Determined to avoid casualties, their campaign of armed protests saved many activists from the death penalty.


  • The attack on Spain’s embassy in Genoa in 1949
  • The Libertarian movement in the fight against Franco (1962-1974): The Internal Defence agency (DI) and the Iberian Libertarian Youth Federation’s (FIJL) First of May Group
  • The 1962 abduction of Spain’s honorary vice-consul in Milan
  • One Episode in the Libertarian Movement’s Struggle against Francoism : The “First of May Group” and the kidnapping in Rome of Monsignor Marcos Ussia, the ecclesiatical attaché at Spain’s embassy to the Vatican (Friday 29 April 1966-Wednesday 11 May 1966)
  • Antonio Téllez Solà, the Herodotus of the anti-Franco maquis by Stuart Christie

ISBN 9781873605851 Anarchist Sources series 13. 25 pages $3/£3 (£2 to subscribers)

And they made a ton of new documents available online in February: (more…)

Published in: on March 12, 2010 at 3:34 am  Comments (1)  


Falklands/Malvinas: My Michael Foot post the other day (he was a defender of the Falklands war) reminded me of a recenitish interesting post and discussion thread at Dave’s Place on the correct left responses then and now, including the issue of Socialist Organiser (the Soggies?) and the split in the Workers’ Socialist League. Here, for further reference, is Sean Matgamna reflecting on the issue in 2007. Here is an SPGB position, taking a kind of “third camp” between Foot’s pro-Britain and the League for the Fifth International‘s psuedo-“revolutionary defeatist” support for the Argentine dictatorship. And here, as always representing great value for money, is Nick Cohen.

Cuba: This is from Francis Sedgemore:

Orlando Zapata Tamayo (1967-2010)

“He wasn’t a murderer. He wasn’t a thief. He wasn’t a rapist. He was simply a young man who wanted a better future for Cuba.” [Laura Pollan, Ladies in White]

RIP Orlando Zapata Tamayo – plumber, democrat, dissident, prisoner of conscience.

Kronstadt: I already posted on the queer historical epic, Maggots and Men, which re-imagines the Kronstadt sailors’ story with a cast of 100 transgender actors. Here’s more from Schalom Libertad:

Watch the trailer! // Read about it.

Maggots and Men, an experimental historical narrative set in post-revolutionary Russia, re-tells the story of the 1921 uprising of the Kronstadt sailors with a subtext of gender anarchy. (more…)

Michael Foot again assembled my post for Michael Foot rather hastily yesterday. Here is another attempt. Yesterday, the thought I had was that Foot is remembered today for his 1980s leadership of the Labour Party and the incident of the donkey jacket [sic] at the Cenotaph, and for walking a dog on Hampstead Heath. I wanted to remind people that he was also an important figure in the earlier, complex and contradictory, history of democratic socialism in Britain, with his involvement in the final period of the Independent Labour Party as it tried to stear a course between left social democratic Stalinist fellow travelling and independent, anti-totalitarian democratic socialism – and, later, as that current entered the official Labour Party, Cold War Atlanticist anti-Communist social democracy.

Here are some more recent tributes: (more…)

Published in: on March 5, 2010 at 10:48 am  Comments (8)  
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Michael Foot


The Tribune obituary, by Geoffrey Goodman.

Arthur Marwick “Leading the Labour Party”: A review of Michael Foot: A Portrait by Simon Hoggart and David Leigh.

Some snips from other sources, about some aspects of Foot’s life less remembered now.



Two snippets: Barry Rubin on Bertram Wolfe on EH Carr the forged “Litvinov diary“. Michael Ezra on Tim Wohlforth on Hal Draper dancing the hora.

Orwellia: Dave Semple on George Orwell’s “Notes on Nationalism”. Raincoat Optimist replies.

Red Deathy on Karl Kautsky on revolution and socialism.

A Reflexive and Value-Added Analysis of Contemporary Trotskyist Activists in Britain“, no less. Congratulations to Dr Phil. (The same in plainish English.)

Grasshoppers, stonkers and straight eights: on a fragment of Somerset working class history.

On Eric Lee, via Bob:

Eric Lee is standing for the Amnesty International UK Section Board. He has set up a new website to promote his campaign. His manifesto is here. If you are an AI member, please support him, not just because of the Gita Sahgal issue but also because he is a very good and experienced person who would make a good board member. If you haven’t heard of him, you may be familair with the excellent trade union site he created, LabourStart.

Eric Lee’s biography is fascinating [some hyperlinks added – P.]: (more…)

Published in: on March 3, 2010 at 12:09 pm  Comments (2)