UPDATE: An amendment beneath the fold.

It is not the purpose of this blog to get involved in contemporary political debates, even very trivial ones. But I was incensed at the nonsense spouted by Andy Newman, top socialist blogger, in the comment thread here.

It is not of course unheard of for anarchists to find common ground with fascists.

Sergio Pannunzio and Filippo Corradini went so far as to join Mussolini’s fascisti and become the main ideologues of Italian fascism, while still considering themselves anarchists.[…]

am saying that a certain type of ‘ squadristi ‘ mindset, which stresses localism, is broadly “anti-politics”, and a mythical shared community of working class life is a phenomenon that is mirrored on both the right and in some anarchist circles.

The fact that some anarchists in London are prepared to take time off from their PhD dissertations in order to condemn “Islamic extremeism” at precisley the time when media hysteria against such alleged extremism is being used to seek to demonise and marginalise mainstream Muslim activists is an illustration of what little grasp of politics you really have.

Ian Bone deals with the smears here.

One thing to add: “squadristi” is a term of abuse with a history.* It was used by the Italian Stalinists to smear the independent working class anti-fascist movement when the latter refused Communist control. It was later taken up by the SWP in the late 1970s, an essentially Stalinist party in form if not in content, to smear their working class former comrades who went on to form Red Action.

Bonus link: the Whitechapel Anarchist Group. (more…)


Totally random edition.

Martin on the demise of one of my favourite bloggers, On a Raised Beach, and on the passing of Portuguese Stalinist novelist Jose Saramago. Here’s Irving Howe and Benjamin Kunkel on Saramago from the archives of Dissent.

Gathering Forces: State Capitalism and the Break with Trotskyism (on the Johnson-Forest Tendency in 1950).

Marko Hoare on the Miliband brothers and the New Left Review – a little insight into the aristocracy of the new left from the son of  a key British Marxist and an ex-member of Labour Party Young Socialists. Harry Barnes has a different view, and calls for more Ralphism (also at Next Left).

The World Cup and the Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo.

Le Chant des partisans: Coatesy’s homage to the Free French.

Nick Cohen  – homage to Pilar Rohala, a Catalan socialist anti-Islamist.

Interview with José Antonio Gutiérrez, Chilean platformist anarchist in exile (via At Home).

On French Stalinism yesterday and today.

Hugo Chavez revives the Doctors’ Plot.

James Connolly and John Ford.

Gramsci, class formation and class politics. (more…)

On this day: 25 June 1903, George Orwell born

Happy birthday Eric Blair.

Orwell was born in Motihari, in Bihar, in West Bengal. Wikipedia says:

George Orwell… was born in Motihari in 1903. His father Richard Walmesley Blair was a deputy posted in the opium department in Bihar. However, when he was one year old, George left for England with his mother and sister.

Until recently, the town of Motihari was largely unaware of its connection to Orwell. In 2003, Motihari discovered its role in Orwell’s life when a number of journalists arrived in the city for Orwell’s hundredth birthday. Local officials are making plans for the construction of a museum on Orwell’s life. The place may also be marked in the tourist map.

Read an account of a visit to Motihari here (with a nice picture gallery, from which this post’s illustration comes).

Yard Left House Fence

See also: Bhiharscoop; Jakarta Globe.

Published in: on June 25, 2010 at 11:03 am  Comments (4)  

On this day: 23rd June 1937 – George Orwell Flees Spain

23rd June 1937 – George Orwell Flees Spain

“Pacifism is objectively pro-fascist. This is elementary common sense. If you hamper the war effort of one side, you automatically help out that of the other. Nor is there any real way of remaining outside such a war as the present one. In practice, ‘he that is not with me is against me.” – George Orwell

George Orwell arrived in Spain in December 1936 to observe and write about the Spanish Civil War. Almost immediately, he traded in his pen for a gun to serve as a voluntary soldier against Franco’s Nationalist Fascists. Six months later, after a bullet in his neck nearly killed him, and another anti-Fascist faction that was supposed to be fighting on the same side as him became an even greater and dangerous enemy than the fascists, he and his wife Eileen were forced to flee for their lives. Seventy-[three] years ago today on 23rd June 1937, they crossed the border into France and safety.


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…)


Today’s  batch is small, and hardly perfectly formed.

Some great vermischtes from comrade Enty, including muscular Quakerism, right-wing folk music and lots more.

An interview with Nick Cohen on Iraq, the Left and the anti-globalisation movement  (via andy). Also: Johann Hari on Chomsky, Hitchens, Iraq, and anarchism.

Neal Ascherson on Charles De Gaulle’s memory.

Jim Denham on Larkin and Bechet.

Rosa Luxemburg on the Leninists.

Chinese imperialism in Latin America (via Ent.).

From the Archives: Irving Howe and Stanley Plastrik, “After the Mideast War” (a propos of Peter Beinart, ex-Cold Warrior now darling of the liberal anti-Zionists).

Published in: on June 18, 2010 at 5:14 pm  Leave a Comment  

Orwellian, Marxian, etc

CLR James

I see via a post by Lady Poverty that there is a newish CLR James collection from AK Press, reviewed here by Rico Cleffi in the Indypendent.

Everything is a commodity.  My glasses are a commodity, cigarettes are commodities, tea is a commodity, the gramophone is a commodity, the tape recorder is a commodity — everything is a commodity.  The important thing that I want you to remember in your study of Capital is Marx’s insistence that the particular commodity that is important in the study of capital is the labor-power of the individual.  In all societies that are in any way developed, there is commodity production.   But that the man sells his labor, his labor-power — a commodity — to the capitalist, Marx says, once you begin there, the whole of capitalist society grows from that; that the labor-power of the human individual is sold as a commodity.

George Orwell

Champagne Charlie on why Orwell got it right about Dunkirk, and Rosie Bell reading Orwell’s diary from that time.

Leninist apologias

Mike E of Kasama, whose task is to rejuvenate some of the most moribund elements of the Marxist-Leninist tradition, has a post on Kronstadt that is very sophisticated, but in my view better described as sophistry. Bermuda radical also publishes a piece from International Socialism attacking the “myth” of Nestor Makhno.


Published in: on June 11, 2010 at 1:05 pm  Comments (3)  
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On this day 1937: death of Carlo Rosselli

725.jpgParis, 9 June, 1937: Assassination of Carlo Rosselli.Rosselli, an Italian socialist, had been in exile in Paris since 1929, where he was the main figure in the movement Guistizia e Liberta. Here is the next part of his story, as told by Stanislao G. Pugliese:

Several days after the attempted coup d’etat of 18 July 1936 in Spain, various members of Giustizia e Liberta met in the offices of the journal on Rue Val-de-Grace in Paris. Rosselli proposed quick and decisive intervention against fascism in Spain; here was the opportunity to transform anti-fascism from a negative, passive idea into a positive, active force. Unfortunately, the reform socialists were hesitant and the communists were awaiting word from Moscow on how to proceed. Only the maximalist socialists and the anarchists agreed with Rosselli’s demand for a volunteer force to leave immediately for Spain. For the next ten months until his assassination, Rosselli fought a battle on two fronts: against Franco and his followers, and trying to convince the supporters of the Spanish Republic that this was not just a civil war to defend the Republic, but the first scene in the last act of the drama of European fascism. Rosselli saw the Spanish Civil War as the first real opportunity to combat fascism on equal terms, on the field of battle, with the only element understood by fascism – force.

With his arrival in Barcelona during the first week in August 1936 noted by the police,4 Rosselli was received by a contingent of FAI (Federacion Anarquista Iberica) and introduced to members of the CNT (Confederacion Nacional del Trabajo) and POUM (Partito Obrero de Unificacion Marxista). He wrote back to his English-born wife, Marion, that for now, ‘it was not a real or modern war, but rather a slow siege’.5 Managing to hammer together an accord with the regional government of Catalonia, he created an Italian anti-fascist column of volunteers. Members of Giustizia e Liberta joined with Italian anarchists to create the ‘Ascaso’ Column.6 Together, Rosselli and the republican Mario Angeloni shared command of this first group of 130 Italian volunteers, of whom approximately 70-80 were anarchists, 20 were members of Giustizia e Liberta, and the remainder either socialists, communists or republicans.7 After a week, Rosselli returned to Paris where he tried to persuade the other anti-fascists to volunteer in Spain. By the end of the month he was back in Spain, on the Aragon front. […]


This day 1913: Paterson

Read the story here.

Published in: on June 7, 2010 at 10:05 pm  Comments (2)  
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Bella Ciao, etc

Post by Bob From Brockley

Radical Archives continues its excavation of the influence of Nietzsche on the anarchist scene with a post on Rudolf Rocker, which led me to the Russian anarchist blogger Laplandian.

Via Laplandian, two YouTubes, the first on the Yiddish melody which forms the basis of the anti-fascist partisan anthem “Bella Ciao”. The song is “Koilen” or “Dus Zekele Koilen” (” A small bag of coal”) by non-Jewish Gypsy musician Mishka Ziganoff, born in Odessa in the late 19th century, who recorded this record in 1919 and moved to the US in 1921. You can listen to more of his music here.

Here is Chumbawamba’s version of “Bella Ciao”, for comparison.

And here, again from Laplandian, “Bella ciao, Iran”: