Marxism is the gateway to a revolutionary socialism which is thoroughly democratic and a democratic socialism which is thoroughly revolutionary

Phyllis Jacobson remembered – from New Appeal to Reason:

There are a number of remembrances of Phyllis Jacobson who played a leading role in the the creation and sustenance of New Politics, one of the most important journals of the American democratic left. Bogdan Denitch, Barry Finger, Sam Farber and others.

New Politics had two lives–from 1961 to 1975 and from 1986 to the present. It occupies a space to the left of Dissent (and to my left) and  has always been a valuable and thought provoking journal.

Joanne Landy and Steve Shalom write

“The Jacobsons did not want an editorial board of clones. They welcomed board members from a range of left perspectives that supported the basic orientation of New Politics: standing “in opposition to all forms of imperialism,” “uncompromising in its defense of feminism and affirmative action,” and above all insisting “on the centrality of democracy to socialism and on the need to rely on mass movements from below for progressive social transformation.”

If that sounds like the kind of thing you might be intersted in, check out New Politics. And if you like what you see, subsribe.

At Arguing the World: Alan Johnson on Zizek part 2 (extract below the fold); Ben Gidley on left antisemitism; Nicolaus Mills on Ivan Dee.

Ron Radosh defends Elena Kagan.

Oliver Kamm on Paul Hirst in his Communist days (provoked by Alex Massie on a Stalinist optimist).

A miscellany from The New Centrist. (more…)

DJ Taylor’s Orwell

DJ Taylor’s book Orwell: The Life won some prizes in 2004 but somehow passed me by, but has started cropping up in lots of places recently. Here’s an extract.  It entered my consciousness when I read “Another Piece of the Puzzle”, by DJ Taylor for my post on Eileen O’Shaughnessy. Then again when I read Taylor’s Orwellian take on the UK elections. It cropped up in this thoughtful post about how one is formed intellectually. And I came across his review of Peter Davison’s Orwell: A Life in Letters (via Ondalieve). Actually, he seems to have reviewed that twice for the Times but both reviews are worth reading.

What book changed your life? Orwell’s essays. It was Orwell’s voice that got me; it was like he was saying, “I wrote this for you.”

What is your daily writing routne? I take my children to the bus stop, walk the dog, eat breakfast and then I’m at my desk for 9.15am. I usually work all morning.

Who would you like to be stuck in a lift with? Christopher Hitchens. It would be jolly nice to have a full 20 minutes of “the Hitch” in full flow.

Can you remember the first novel you read? Orwell’s A Clergyman’s Daughter. I was 12 or 13 years old.

And this is from a review of his new novel:

Taylor’s London has echoes of early Orwell, as well as the Priestley of Angel Pavement. He creates a wonderfully convincing world of cheap cigarettes, desperate respectability, casual anti-Semitism and dreary bedsitters.

It is a feature of Taylor’s journalism, in fact, that he mentions Orwell in more or less everything he writes. But that’s not a bad thing. On the late Alan Sillitoe: (more…)

Published in: on May 26, 2010 at 4:27 pm  Comments (1)  


Anarchism versus Marxism

A Greek tragedy (on the Leninist fight against petit bourgeious violence in the revolution).

Marxist theory

Reading The Grundrisse; Thinking About Athens’ Rage

Bonapartism, Bureaucracy, Categories, Lessons And The Revolution Betrayed

Chris Harman: not all Marxism is dogmatic

Daniel Bensaid: Working class, social movement, alliances – and the limits of radical democracy

Stalinism and anti-Stalinism

Stalin, Robeson, and Me.

Claire Berlinski at City Journal wonders why hardly anyone cares about the unread Soviet archives [via Michael Totten]. Ron Radosh responds. Berlinksi replies to him. Ron comes back again.

Human Rights Watch in the NYRB on Castro’s Cuba. (And Radosh’s response to that.)

Anarchist theory

Murray Bookchin’s political development.

Dave Graeber interview (original source here, with unreadable formatting).

Iberian culture

London event: The radical Jewish East End in song and history

24 May event in London:

Radical Jewish East End in History and Song. The history and the songs of the Jewish radical past in East London. A joined talk by Dr. Ben Gidley & Vivi Lachs.

Some background here.

Published in: on May 16, 2010 at 2:58 pm  Leave a Comment  

Corin Redgrave

I missed this article by Nick Cohen, plus further commentary from smart ex-leftist Ron Radosh. Any more I missed?

Published in: on May 15, 2010 at 2:12 pm  Comments (2)  
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Late Mayday post

May Day in the USA.

Published in: on May 14, 2010 at 11:33 am  Comments (1)  

Alternative histories

Some quick links. I have more to say about the top three, but haven’t much time at the moment.

Christ, The Hold Steady, Ignazio Silone, and Us [extract below the fold]

Fuel of the future: New Zealand reactions to the Haymarket martyrs

The Preventative Counterrevolution: reflections on fascism, by Luigi Fabbri

Kentucky ‘Rock of Labor’ Honors Workers at Closed Tire Factory

IWW Reclaims May Day in Grand Rapids


Published in: on May 13, 2010 at 3:12 pm  Comments (1)  

Partisan songs

From Entdinglichung

Cross-posted at Anti-German Translation.

Published in: on May 10, 2010 at 2:25 pm  Leave a Comment  

New Zealand: Celebrate People’s History

Celebrate People’s History
May 17 – 29, 2010

Opening Night
Monday May 17th at 5.30pm

Eastside Gallery at the Linwood Community Arts Centre
Corner Worcester Street and Stanmore Road


Images can be made available for media/press by request, or preview some of the works here:


Published in: on May 10, 2010 at 7:56 am  Comments (1)  

From the archive of struggle no.48

“I am not a champion of lost causes, but of causes not yet won.” – Norman Thomas

Norman Thomas: a vignette

This vignette of Norman Thomas appeared on Wikipedia, although unfortunately it is not encyclopedic and so has no place there. So, for the sake of posterity, and without any claim about its authenticity, I paste it here:

Norman Thomas was a family friend, I saw him every year in my youth at my godfather’s Christmas Party in NYC. In 1953 I wasn’t there and he asked my mother where I was. It was a formal time, she said Jonathan has matriculated at Princeton. He said “you know, Mrs. Murphy, I’m a Socialist – but I’m awfully glad I went to Princeton”. At another time he said that he had never changed his views, and that many of the things he advocated were in Mr. Eisenhauer’s platform.

Finally, may I add, that I sang with the Princeton Tigertones for his Fiftieth Princeton Reunion in 1955. There were but a couple of dozen of them there, but all shed a tear as we sang the old college songs of their time. Our eyes got a bit damp also. At my Fiftieth we had nearly 300, and that reflects the change of life span that has come about since his graduation – and that is in part because of men like him who dedicated themselves to promoting justice.

Mr. Thomas was a gentleman of convictions, and consistency. This writer is a conservative who doesn’t agree with all the views of Mr. Thomas – but who has the greatest respect for the man. He sought justice for all as a principle, he had no personal agenda for power. I often picture that gentle man in my thoughts, even though I’m in opposition to his politics. We shared a goal, but differed on the means to it – I wish he were here now so I could argue with him (gently), I was too young do do so when I knew him.


*Mark Twain on the French revolution (1898)

*Eugene Debs on immigration (1910)

*Mark Ruffalo channels Eugene Debs on war.

*May Day Song and Dance – Elizabeth Gurley Flynn (1939)

New publications on radical history:

Under the Blows of the Counterrevolution by Nestor Ivanovich Makhno (Black Cat Press):

Nestor Makhno (1888-1934) was a peasant anarcho-communist who organized an experiment in anarchist values in practice in southeast Ukraine during the Russian Revolution and Civil War.
This is the second volume of his memoirs, originally published in France in 1936 and published in English here for the first time.

Under the Blows of the Counterrevolution describes Makhno’s odyssey through revolutionary Russia in the spring of 1918. Driven from his Ukrainian village by a German invasion, he wandered through a nation torn by civil war, encountered various remarkable personalities, and survived hair-raising adventures.
This volume has interested historians mainly because of Makhno’s account of his interview with Lenin, but it also contains much valuable eye-witness information about a period of Soviet history which was later almost completely rewritten in officially sanctioned accounts.
The book (214 pp.) includes the original preface and notes by Makno’s sometime colleague Vsevolod Volin together with photos, maps, glossary, explanatory notes, appendix, etc. English translation and editing by Malcolm Archibald..

Avtonom #31:

A Russian libertarian communist journal. From the English summary:

Page 56: Notes without a celebration. Pyotr Ryabov commemorates KAS (Confederation of Anarcho-Syndicalists) in occasion of 20th anniversary of the important but short-lived organisation, which once united vast majority
of all anarchists in the former Soviet Union.
Page 60: Thimbles of the history. Interview of historician Valery Stolov on controversial presidential commission against “falsification of history”, which echoes Soviet-era politics of politicization of historical science.

The Tragic Procession: Alexander Berkman and Russian Prisoner Aid:

Newish from the Kate Sharpley Library, and reviewed here.

Karl Marx: a Bibliographic and Political Biography:

Frank Thomas Walker’s magnum opus finally published. (H/t Snowball.) Excerpt 2, tantalisingly, is on Bakunin.

From the archive of struggle:

Nestor Makhno archive:

A major rehaul, with new texts in Arabic, Bulgarian, Croatian, Czech, English, French, Greek, Hungarian, Italian, Macedonian, Russian, Spanish and Ukrainian. English highlights:
*Vyacheslav Azarov: The Kronstadt Revolt – the Gulyai-Pole Connection
*Emma Goldman: Living my life (extracts)
*Daniel Cohn-Bendit and Gabriel Cohn-Bendit: The Makhno Movement and Opposition within the Party
*Workers Solidarity: Leah Feldman
*Nick Heath: Piotr Arshinov; 1921: The Maslakov mutiny and the Makhnovists on the Don; Kobets: The Makhnovist playwright.
*Leon Trotsky: Secret Order No.96/s

Robert Graham:

*Errico Malatesta: Anarchy (1891)/Part II.


*Black Flag/El Compita (1982): El Movimiento Anarquista en Corea

Poale Zion in Greece

I was reading a fascinating post about the Zionist movement in Salonica, and noticed mentioned of “the marxist club Poalei Zion (workers of Zion) of Volos“. (Sources: 1, 2.) PZ in Volos apparently “maintained a club and a well – equiped library. hosting dances, lectures. social gatherings and many other events on its premises.”

As I’ve mentioned before, I have a particular interest in Poale Zion, the originally Marxist current in the Zionist movement, which has an oblique relationship to the extended Poumista family as at least some bits of it (e.g. the Mifleget Poale Zion VeHaHugim HaMarksistim beEretz Yisrael, where the young Tony Cliff cut his political teeth) were affiliated to the same international as the POUM. I may write about this some other time, but I think that, among other things, the story of the PZ complicates the simplistic view, now received wisdom in much of the left, that Zionism is or has always been a right-wing and/or imperialist movement.

So, I couldn’t stop myself from doing a little googling about the PZ’s history. (more…)

Published in: on May 3, 2010 at 10:49 am  Comments (2)  

Happy Workers’ Day

A Garland for May DayImage1939, Australia: A united front

International Workers Day

spanish civil war poster

Published in: on May 1, 2010 at 6:42 am  Comments (3)  
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