Orwell, Tribune, etc

Today’s links come from what are almost certainly the best three British socialist blogs, Shiraz Socialist, Tendance Coatesy, and Paul Anderson’s Gauche.


Tribune editor Chris McLaughlin has just sent me this:

Staff, management and the National Union of Journalists have agreed a last-minute plan to stave off closure of Tribune. At the end of talks ending Friday evening, it was agreed that the title should become a co-operative. Publisher Kevin McGrath has offered to take on historical debts and release the title “debt free” and told the meeting that he would do everything possible to help the success of the transfer to a co-operative. Terms are to be drafted in time for a full meeting of the Tribune staff, which has to approve the deal, on Monday.

This is good news, but it’s going to take a serious recapitalisation of the paper, a great deal of work and a measure of luck to rescue it. Circulation is down to 1,200, which isn’t a sustainable level. To get it back to 5,000, which is roughly what it needs to be to generate the sales and advertising income to employ journalists and production staff, it will have to spend a lot on promotion (and do it intelligently).

I don’t buy the argument that a democratic left weekly that generates most of its income from selling printed copies is doomed to fail. Tribune‘s core political stance – socialist, egalitarian, democratic, libertarian – remains as relevant as ever, and it is less marginalised in Labour politics than at any time since the early 1990s. And if it concentrates its efforts on direct debit subscription sales rather than desperately trying to break into newsagents, it has at least a decent chance of re-establishing itself commercially. Subs-based print periodicals can thrive in the internet age, particularly those with a niche market – witness the London Review of Books and Prospect.

But it is going to need money. I’ve no idea what target for funds the paper will announce next week, but I think that something like £500,000 is what’s required. That’s rather more than I’ve got in my piggy bank, but it’s not much more than the price of a semi in Neasden – and it’s not beyond reach. If 200 people stump up £1,000 and 400 put in £500, there’s £400,000 in the kitty, which would be quite enough to make a decent start on reviving the old lady.


 Paul recalls a 1988 column:

Paul Anderson, Tribune column, 22 January 1988

[…] But for all its faults, Tribune has been a vital part of the British left’s political culture — and as such a vital part of Britain’s culture.

Being part of some British political tradition does not, in itself, guarantee the usefulness of an institution: look at the House of Lords, the monarchy and much more besides. That Tribune has in the past had a role does not necessarily mean that it has one now. I believe it does have one, and that’s not simply because my job is on the line.

Tribune is the only open forum for debate among supporters of the British Labour Party and the Labour-sympathetic left. All the arguments of the British democratic left take place in its pages. Unlike others, the paper is not afraid to give space to unfashionable opinion. On the assumption that a democratic, discursive movement of the left is necessary for the left to have any success, Tribune is utterly essential.

Orwell in Tribune

Orwell in Tribune: ‘As I Please’ and other writings 1943-47 edited by Paul Anderson (Methuen, £14.99)
Orwell and Marxism:The political and cultural thinking of George Orwell by Philip Bounds (I. B. Tauris. £52.50)

By Richard VintenTimes Literary Supplement (Aug 2009)

More than any other British author of the twentieth century, George Orwell has escaped from his own time.[…]

The articles he wrote for Tribune between 1943 and 1947 are gathered into a single volume with an excellent introduction by Paul Anderson.[…] publication of the Tribune articles is useful because Orwell wrote for the paper at a time when he was writing Animal Farm and thinking about Nineteen Eighty-Four. His article on Yevgeny Zamyatin’s We, a book which is sometimes seen as a model for Nineteen Eighty-Four, appeared in January 1946, though any reader of the Tribune articles will conclude that Burnham’s The Managerial Revolution was a more important influence on Orwell’s thinking.

For most of this time, large parts of the British Left, including some of the other writers for Tribune, were pro-Soviet. More importantly, support for the Soviet alliance was part of the official policy of both Britain and the United States. In short, Orwell’s most famous books need to be understood against the backdrop of Yalta rather than that of, say, the Berlin airlift. The Tribune articles show how intermittent anti-Americanism, suspicion of the British ruling classes and distaste for the realpolitik of the great powers were blended with a personal dislike of Stalinism. Orwell repeatedly drew attention to facts about the Soviet Union that were inconvenient to the Western Allies; he wrote, for example, about the mass rape of women in Vienna by Russian soldiers. An article of September 1944 about the Warsaw Uprising is particularly striking; in it he asked why the British intelligentsia were so “dishonestly uncritical” of Soviet policy, but he also suggested that Western governments were moving towards a peace settlement that would hand much of Europe to Stalin.

If the Tribune articles tell us mainly about Orwell after 1943, Philip Bounds sets him against the fast-changing political backdrop to his whole writing career. In the mid 1930s, the Communist International turned away from “class against class” tactics to encourage Popular Front alliances of anti-Fascist forces. This position changed with the Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact of August 1939, then changed again with the German invasion of the Soviet Union in June 1941. These gyrations produced odd consequences in Britain, a country in which there was not a large Communist party (though there were some significant figures who, as Orwell put it, believed in the Russian “mythos” ) and in which the most important leaders of the Labour Party were not tempted by an anti-Fascist alliance with the Communists. The Popular Front was supported by an odd coalition that ranged from Stafford Cripps to the Duchess of Atholl.

Orwell opposed the Popular Front, or, at least, he was rude about its English supporters. During the Spanish Civil War he fought with the non-Stalinist POUM rather than the International Brigade (joined by most Communists). He reversed his position overnight in 1939: he claimed to have dreamt of war and then come downstairs to see the newspaper reports of the Molotov–Ribbentrop pact. He supported the war against Hitler and became an eloquent defender of patriotism though he also thought, at least in 1940 and 1941, that the British war effort might be combined with a revolutionary transformation of British society. His position was sometimes close to that of Trotskyists and he quoted the Trotskyite slogan “the war and the revolution are inseparable” with approval in 1941. Orwell’s interest in Trotsky, however, seems to have been rooted in a sympathy for outsiders and in the sense that, to quote his friend Malcolm Muggeridge, “Trotsky blows the gaff” on the Soviet Union. Orwell did not believe that Russia would necessarily have been less repressive if ruled by Trotsky rather than Stalin. He was not much interested in Marxist theory and his remark, apropos of T. S. Eliot, that Anglo-Catholicism was the “ecclesiastical equivalent of Trotskyism”, was probably designed to annoy Trotskyites as much as Anglo-Catholics.

Bounds covers all of Orwell’s writing – the early autobiographical novels and exercises in fictionalized autobiography as well as the better-known works – and tries to trace the themes that run through them all. In particular, he argues that, for all of his anti-Soviet talk, Orwell was influenced by Communist or fellow-travelling writers. This influence was masked by his general cussedness and by a capacity for annexing the ideas of authors he had once denounced; for example, he wrote a savage review of The Novel Today (1936) by the Communist Philip Henderson. However, Orwell’s remarks about modernism in his essay “Inside the Whale” (1940) seem to owe something to Henderson’s assault on literature that avoids “the urgent problems of the moment”. Orwell even transports the same rather laboured joke from Punch – about the young man who tells his aunt “My dear, one doesn’t write about anything; one just writes” – from his 1936 review to his 1940 essay. The changes in Communist strategy made Orwell’s relations with its cultural commentators all the more complicated. Sometimes he seemed to draw on ideas expressed by Communist writers during the “class against class”
period to attack the Popular Front, and then to draw on the Popular Front’s discovery of national culture to attack Communists after the Molotov–Ribbentrop pact. [READ THE REST]

Christopher Hitchens, Acknowledging the Legislators.

Christopher Hitchens has the gift of  making you want to listen. Simon Hoggart, he recalls in conversation  after theMunk Debate, once suggested that he should write as  he spoke. This advice he has followed. The collection of republished  pieces in Arguably shows this trait in every page. Keeping a  few furlongs ahead of the reading public with his table-talk about  the giants of English and American Literature, World and National  Politics, History, Totalitarianism, Wine, Song and Women, he pauses,  at it were, to fire shots at a variety of seated ducks. Diagnosed  with cancer, and conscious of his mortality, he does not just grab  attention: he is good company. [READ THE REST]

Pete Carter “airbrushed from history” by Morning Star

“Despite differences between sections of the left, what unites us in our struggles is the collective wish for a better world for working class people” – Gerry Kelly

Pete Carter, building workers’ union organizer, former Communist Party youth leader, Communist Party industrial organizer, and (later in life)  a committed environmentalist, will be cremated today.

Pete Carter

The Guardian published an obituary.

The Morning Star hasn’t even mentioned his passing.

Gerry Kelly – a former IS’er  who doesn’t share Carter’s politics – expresses his disgust at the Morning Star‘s sectarianism :

I was a shop steward on Woodgate Valley B in 1971-2 and worked with Mick Shilvock there. Pete, Shilvock, Phil Beyer and me struggled together in Brum to kill the lump and organise the building workers.

Pete was the best working class orator I ever heard and was a great organiser. We had a couple of years in Birmingham in which we fought a desperate struggle, acheived some great victories and also had some laughs. Pete was an inventive class warrior and we carried out some stunts that publicised our cause and made us laugh as well. [READ THE REST]

Today in 1943

From IISG: Antecedents of Ester Borras

Membership card FEDIP, 1945

Arch José Ester Borrás 5

As an anarchist, José Ester Borras (1913-1980) fled from Spain to France. There he was active in the underground during the Second World War. Arrested by the Gestapo on 30 October 1943, he was deported to Mauthausen. He survived and established the Federación Española de Deportados e Internados Políticos (FEDIP) in Toulouse shortly after liberation. The FEDIP offered relief to Spaniards like Ester Borras, who were politicial refugees and had been interned in concentration camps. Borras was one of the first members of his own organization. The IISH has the archives of both Ester Borras and the FEDIP.

See also:

•  FEDIP archive
•  José Ester Borrás papers

He’d turned 40 just days previously. Here’s his Daily Bleed page:

Jose Ester Borras, anarchist' source: www.iisg.nl[October 26:] 1913 — José Ester Borrás (1913-1980) lives, Berga (province of Barcelona). Spanish anarchist, active in the resistance in France & in the Mauthausen concentration camp, & co-founder of the founder of the Federación Española de Deportados e Internados Políticos (Spanish Federation of Former Political prisoners & camp inmates [FEDIP]).

Ester fought in the famed Colonna Tierra y Libertad during the Spanish Revolution of 1936. He was arrested by the communists, fled to France, arrested & tortured by the Gestapo…

Further details/ context, click here[Details / context]

Published in: on October 30, 2011 at 2:30 pm  Leave a Comment  

Léandre Valero

I only just noticed that one of my favourite blogs has been back for a few weeks from an enviably long summer break. Thanks to him for this fascinating obituary.

Léandre Valero

A short biography of Léandre Valero an anarchist who “critically supported” the Algerian independence movement

The recent death of Léandre Valero on 21st August shines a light on the activities of the Fédération Communiste Libertaire in France in the 1950s and its attitudes towards the independence movement in Algeria.

The son of an anarchist from Andalucia,who had fought with the FAI during the Revolution and Civil War, Valero was born in Oran in Algeria on the 12th October 1923. This meant that he became fluent in Spanish, French and Arabic.

He joined the Forces Françaises Libres, the groups initiated by De Gaulle which refused to accept the capitulation of France, during the Second World War. He took part in several campaigns and was involved in the liberation of several concentration camps. Following this, and apparently against his will, he was then sent to fight in Indo-China in January 1946. Here he established contact with the Vietminh and supplied them with petrol from French bases. Reported as a “demoralising element”, he was sent back to France in August of the same year.

Here he went to Paris. He made the decision to join the Fédération Anarchiste. The first person he met from the FA was the full-timer at their offices, who was none other than Georges Brassens, later to become known as one of France’s greatest singer-songwriters. He then moved to Auxerre working as a toolmaker-fitter. At the Gardy factory – where he set up a large section of the CNT – Valero allied himself with Georges Fontenis within the FA, and stayed with the organisation when it was transformed into the Fédération Communiste Libertaire.

He accepted the decision of the FCL to send him to Algeria in 1954 to aid the Mouvement Libertaire Nord-Africain (MLNA) in close relation with the FCL. Its main activists were the docker Duteuil, Idir Amazit, Derbal Salah and the teachers Fernand Doukhan, Jean Decharriene and Guy Martin. He obtained employment in a factory at Alger.

The MNLA gave assistance to the independence movement of Messali Hadj (distinct from the FLN). The FCL gave critical support to the independentist groups and Valero was to say : “You suffer from double oppressions. We are going to help you to get rid of colonial oppression. After that, it’s up to you to get rid of the oppression of your own capitalists!”. After the 1954 insurrection the main activity of the MNLA was support for Hadj’s organisation. Valero served as a “letter box” and sometimes a driver for the independentist leaders. At the same time Valero carried out propaganda selling the FCL paper Le Libertaire in the streets. He always carried a revolver in his pocket on these occasions and had to fire off several shots during a street sale.

In August 1955 he got a job as a foreman on a farm in Constantine province. Here he made contact with the guerrilla groups of the FLN ( Front de Libération Nationale) and supplied them with arms. In summer 1956, to avoid a military call-up in Algeria, he decided to return to France and live underground. The MNLA , now more and more under threat, decided to dissolve itself and all its archives and arms were thrown in the Mediterranean.

Part of the FCL had decided to go underground in summer 1956. These included Fontenis, Pierre Morain, Paul Philippe and Valero himself. With the amnesty offered by de Gaulle in 1958 Valero returned to Auxerre where he again got work in a factory. He was active in the CGT and in 1960 served on the departmental union of the CGT in the Yonne department. The factory where he worked was the first to go out on strike in the Yonne in May 1968 and Valero was one of the chief activists in the movement in the department.

Valero retired in 1983. In 1991 he joined the libertarian organisation Alternative Libertaire at its foundation, remaining with it until 2000. He remained active in free thought agitation and a neighbourhood association until the end of his life.

Nick Heath

Sources: obituary in Alternative Libertaire no. 210, October 2011

A letter from Orwell, this day in 1948

Scurry writes:

And finally, I enjoyed this 1948 letter from George Orwell, which is mainly about 1984. But the last paragraph on Sartre is a gem!

Published in: on October 22, 2011 at 2:48 pm  Leave a Comment  
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The Irish Revolution

From the excellent blog of that name:

The Limerick Soviet, 1919

The Story of the Limerick Soviet, April 1919
By D. R. O’Connor Lysaght (1979)

On 21st January, 1919, Dáil Éireann held its opening session and the Irish Volunteers drew their first mortal blood since 1916 at Soloheadbeg, Co. Tipperary. These facts have set the seal for subsequent historians of the first months of the year.[…]

SPI leaflet re visit by George V, 1911

Visit of King George V
Leaflet distributed by the Socialist Party of Ireland in 1911


As you are aware from reading the daily and weekly newspapers, we are about to be blessed with a visit from King George V.[…]

Founding statement of Irish Republican Socialist Party

Irish Republican Socialist Party press statement December 13, 1974

At a meeting held in Dublin on Sunday, 8.12.’74, a decision was made to form a new political party, to be known as THE IRISH REPUBLICAN SOCIALIST PARTY. The inaugural meeting was attended by approximately 80 delegates from Belfast, Armagh, Co. Derry, Derry City, Donegal, Dublin, Wicklow, Cork, Clare, Limerick and Tipperary.[…]

Markievicz on Fianna Eireann and 1921 Treaty


Simplicity and directness of vision and love of the true and noble are part of the attributes of youth.  Our Headquarters’ staff instinctively took the straight, hard road, and when the “treaty” was signed, reaffirmed their allegiance to the Republic.  Since then the Fianna Eireann have carried on the fight, and many a noble boy stood true in spite of the soul-stifling misery of prison and the horror of torture.  Some, alas, went wrong and threw in their lot with those who sold their honour to the British Government, and became part of the English king’s garrison in Ireland.  These renegades did England’s dirty work, spying on their comrades who stood true and often sending them to a cruel death.  But this must not discourage us; it must remind us that human nature is weak and foolish, and that there are traitors everywhere, and that even among the Twelve Disciples there was one traitor.[…]


Phil Dickens again:

As I noted on Thursday, yesterday I attended Near To Revolution? The 1911 Liverpool General Transport Strike Centenary Conference.
This was only the latest in a strong line-up of events to commemorate 1911. First, there was Steve Higginson, Tony Wailey and Ian Morris’s Rhythms That Carry, which has been put on now at a number of venues. Then, on the anniversary of Bloody Sunday, we had a commemoration on the steps of St George’s Hall. Liverpool Solidarity Federation hosted Liverpool in Revolt: 1911-2011, with local historian Frank Carlyle among the speakers.
At all of these meetings and events, we were reminded of the strong syndicalist and anarchist currents that underpinned the events of the Liverpool General Transport Strike. In the midst of the Great Unrest of 1910-1914, it was defined by a rank-and-file revolt against trade union officialdom and an upsurge in militant class struggle.
This, indeed, was the point made by Ralph Darlington, in the workshop on Syndicalism and Trade Union Officialdom. His talk focused on the British syndicalist movement, and its successes and failures in addressing the problems of officialdom. Though he appeared to have far more time for the idea that unions could be de-bureaucratised or “moved left” than I, his analysis of the “boring from within” strategy and its limitations was interesting – particularly in how Tom Mann’s Industrial Syndicalist Education League, despite a scathing analysis of union officialdom in general, tempered criticism of specific leaders in the name of “unity.”
Some of Darlington’s analysis is similar to what I’ve said myself, whilst some was radically different. Though he contrasted the establishment of syndicalist unions in Europe with the looser networks of activists in Britain, and mentioned the CNT, CGT, and USI as specific examples of this, he didn’t touch upon anarcho-syndicalism and how it developed syndicalist methods alongside a more explicitly revolutionary anarchist philosophy. He approached it from the point of view that a party was the best vehicle to address the problem of syndicalism being almost apolitical. Nonetheless, he hit the mark with reference to traditional syndicalism’s flaws, and I was able to pick up on this during the open floor to argue – as Durruti did – that the problem of bureaucracy in fact stems from unions taking on the representative function and removing decision-making power from the mass of the rank-and-file.
Published in: on October 20, 2011 at 9:15 pm  Comments (1)  
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A barricade in the Paris Commune, March 18, 1871.

Image via Wikipedia

New from Anarchist Federation – get your copy from yer local infoshop, from the Anarchist Bookfair, from Freedom, or on-line.

Organise! magazine Issue 77 Winter 2011: 

  • Editorial – What’s in the latest Organise! – The Anniversary Issue
  • 25 years of the AFED – reviewing the last 5 years of the Anarchist Federation.
  • The Paris Commune of 1871 and its impact – 140th anniversary
    • The Paris Commune: A contested legacy
    • “Vive la Commune!”
    • Revolutionary Portrait: Eugene Varlin, Martyr of the Paris Commune
  • The Anti-Cuts Movement and the Left: A local activist’s perspective
  • The Great Unrest: prelude to the storm – industrial disorder and school strikes 1910-14
  • The day will come: Chicago 1886 – 124th Anniversary of the Haymarket Massacre
  • The Mexican Revolution of 1911 – Centenary year
    • The land belongs to those who work it – The Magon brothers & Zapata
    • Uprising in Baja – battles of the California border towns [related reading here]
    • A Grave Error – the Mexican Syndicalists
  • The anarchist sculptor: Henri Gaudier Brzeska
  • Review: Ghost Dancers: The Miners’ Last Generation, by David John Douglass
  • Obituary: Bob Miller (1953-2011)
Published in: on October 19, 2011 at 1:51 pm  Leave a Comment  

The friends of Durruti

New at Libcom:

The Friends of Durruti Group: 1937-39 - Agustin Guilamòn

Guillamòn’s in-depth study of the hugely important anarcho-syndicalist CNT militants who opposed their union’s collaboration with the Republican government during the Spanish Civil War. (more…)

Today in 1940: Execution of Lluís Companys

Summary of the death penalty of Lluís Companys...

Image via Wikipedia

Lluís Companys i Jover (Catalan pronunciation: [ʎuˈis kumˈpaɲs]) (June 21, 1882 – October 15, 1940) was the 123rd President of Catalonia, Spain from 1934 and during the Spanish Civil War.

He was a lawyer and leader of the Republican Left of Catalonia (ERC) political party. Exiled after the war, he was captured and handed over by the Nazi secret police, the Gestapo, to the Spanish dictatorship of Francisco Franco, who had him executed by firing squad in 1940. Companys is the only incumbent president of a region in Europe to have been executed,[1] and seventy one years later the Spanish state has not yet annulled the council of war which sentenced him.

Published in: on October 15, 2011 at 11:08 am  Comments (1)  


Rudolf Rocker, German Anarchosyndicalist

Image via Wikipedia

Phil Dickens’ quote of the day…

…comes from Martyn Everett’s introduction to the 1988 Phoenix Press edition of Anarcho-syndicalism by [Rudolf] Rocker;

Historically the oppressed and the disaffected have rallied to the standard of socialism because of its oppositional position within capitalism – an oppositional position which provides the appearance of a radicalism it did not possess. During periods of revolutionary potential, however, people see opportunities to go beyond attempts to ameliorate capitalism, and to instead abolish it altogether. It is important to realise, however, that this is not usually an apocalyptic conversion into revolutionary activity, but is an emerging process involving continual, but unsuccessful attempts to reconstruct a movement of socialist opposition, find new forms of organisation and activity as well as new forms of protest and expression. New movements appear, representing the interests of groups which have not previously confronted capital, and so lack the burden of tradition and the “password” phraseology of socialism, but which nonetheless possess greater potential for revolution. New ideas and new forms of organisation flourish.

Reading this today, I was struck at how readily – though Everett was referring to the movements of the late 80s – this analysis could apply to the anti-cuts struggles of now.

I’ve written before on how UK Uncut, alongside the student movement, had managed to mobilise a whole new generation of people and inject life into anti-cuts struggles. They pushed beyond the traditional leadership structures of the left, and their actions were far ahead of their politics. Adam Ford takes the analysis further in looking at the “Occupy” movement, set to explode globally tomorrow. In essence, what we have is ordinary people looking for new ways to resist and challenge the system, though not necessarily yet having adopted a revolutionary analysis to go alongside it.

This analysis is important because, as Adam says, it is the “no politics” mantra “which enables the formerly social democratic parties and their ‘left’ hangers on, against the building of a true revolutionary movement.” And the failure of such occupations to mirror the Egyptian experience by linking up with workers’ struggle is leaving it prey to a liberal vanguardism which takes ideas such as “direct action” and put a very different spin on them.

As Solidarity Federation argue;

Radical liberal activism talks about ‘direct action’, but it has a very different take on what that means compared to anarchists, based on a very different reading of history. For anarchists, Emile Pouget sums up the concept eloquently: “Direct Action is a notion of such clarity, of such self-evident transparency, that merely to speak the words defines and explains them. It means that the working class, in constant rebellion against the existing state of affairs, expects nothing from outside people, powers or forces, but rather creates its own conditions of struggle and looks to itself for its means of action.” This is the original idea of direct action as mass, collective, working class action carried out by workers themselves. For anarchists, it is mass struggles which change the course of history – winning things from the 8-hour day to universal suffrage.

However, the clarity and self-evident transparency that Pouget saw in the term ‘direct action’ has given way with the later emergence of a rival conception which in many ways is the opposite of the anarchist one. This radical liberal version is best summed up by an oft-quoted maxim by Margaret Mead: “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” Here instead of mass, collective, working class action we have individual, exemplary action by ‘committed citizens’. A clearer example of the gulf between anarchism and liberalism would be hard to find.


Published in: on October 14, 2011 at 8:36 pm  Comments (2)  
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London Anarchist Bookfair 22 October

It’s that time of year again. Events include:

Is Capitalism destroying itself? And can we replace it? 4.30pm to 6.00pm 
‘Karl Marx got it right, capitalism can destroy itself.’– Nouriel Roubini (IMF and US Treasury adviser). ‘The [economic] icebergs are the worst in the lifetime of anyone now living.’ – Kenneth Clarke. ‘People have lost faith in the free-market, Western democratic order.’ – Charles Moore (Thatcher’s biographer and Telegraph editor). Our rulers are worried. Austerity is not reviving the economy. Instead, it has led to protests and riots that are likely to intensify. How did we get here and what are the prospects for anti-capitalist revolution? A debate with: Selma James (Wages for Housework Campaign; Chris Knight (Radical Anthropology Group); Hillel Ticktin (‘Critique, a Journal of Socialist Theory’)

Mistakes of the Spanish Revolution 4.00pm to 5.00pm
My main contention is simple; briefly, it is that between July-August 1936, the FAI-CNT regional, national and peninsular committees of the CNT-FAI abandoned all pretence of being popular revolutionary organs. Instead, within a matter of days, they constituted a vested interest structure that served, primarily, to apply the brakes to — and reverse — the spontaneous revolutionary activity of the barrio (ward/district) committees, defence cadres, the action groups and the defence committees, and repress the rank-and-file activists who were pressing for social revolution. ‘Anti-fascist unity’ and state power were promoted at the expense of anarchist principles and values while the hegemony of the notables of the CNT–FAI leadership was imposed over the local revolutionary district committees and the general assemblies. Speaker: Stuart Christie

From the Paris Commune to Saint-Imier 1.00pm to 2.00pm
The Paris Commune of 1871 inspired revolutionaries everywhere. When it was defeated, tens of thousands of communards were murdered, imprisoned or deported. The events of ‘Bloody Week’ (May 21st to 28th) traumatised anarchists and drove some to the despair of assassination and bomb-throwing. Others regrouped in August the following year at Saint-Imier, Switzerland, with comrades disaffected from the by-then authoritarian sham that was Marx’s International. They established structures and founding principles at the roots of modern class-struggle anarchist organisation. This meeting builds for what will be the 140th anniversary of that congress: 9th-12th August 2012, in Saint-Imier itself. Organised by: Anarchist Federation

Red Rosa and the Arab Spring 4.00pm to 5.00pm
Any revolutionary movement needs both spontaneity and organisation, the how can these apparent opposites be combined successfully? As the popular uprisings of 2011 bring this question to the fore once again, we will examine the ideas of Rosa Luxembury (1871 – 1919) and Raya Dunayevskaya (1910 – 1987). Organised by: Hobgoblin

Free University 1.00pm to 2.00pm
Until the twentieth century, the role of the University differed little from the times of Plato and Aristotle; to create an educated elite from amongst the ruling class. Then in the 1920s the IWW initiated a People’s College, under the auspices of Cornell University; while in the midst of the Spanish Civil War the CNT-AIT and FAI started La Universida Popular. Education became available to all. As University admissions shrink due to current neoliberal policies, the Anarchist university in Toronto and A-Bildungnetz in Hannover continue to propose a system of non-hierarchical concensus-driven learner networks, and here some of our German comrades will discuss these issues. Organised by: Industrial Workers of the World (IWW)

Published in: on October 12, 2011 at 12:26 pm  Comments (4)  
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Traces of Evil

Fascinating blog on the physical remnants of the Nazi era in Germany.

Published in: on October 7, 2011 at 4:52 pm  Comments (1)  



Comrade Eamon Lynch.


Jim Denham on the Life and Fate of Vassily Grossman. Amador Fernández-Savater on Lawrence of Arabia and the (Non) Battle of Sol. James Bloodworth on why Hitchens is no Orwell. Michael Ezra on Socialist Unity’s Stalinist approach to Trotsky’s war policy.


The Big Game Benjamin Péret ; translated with an introduction by Marilyn Kallet. Black Widow Press, 357 pages. via Criticism etc:

Black Widow Press has released a translation (by Marilyn Kallet) of The Big Game, a 1928 work by Surrealist Benjamin Péret. In addition to being André Breton’s most committed Surrealist co-thinker, Péret was the the Surrealist most consistently involved as an organizationally engaged revolutionary. He was one of the contributing founders of Brazilian Trotskyism (see Robert Alexander’s Trotskyism in Latin America for details), participated in the ranks of an anarchist militia in the Spanish revolution, and co-led a dissenting troika (with Grandizo Munis and Natalia Trotsky) within the Fourth International which agitated against the official line of defensism and workers’-statism.

Selma James Sex, Race and Class—the Perspective of Winning: A Selection of Writings 1952-2011 (Forthcoming March 2012) PM Press, 300 pages. via Criticism etc:

PM Press continues to offer an interesting list of new titles including Sex, Race and Class—the Perspective of Winning, a forthcoming collection of works by feminist and theorist of the wages for housework movement Selma James. James was a member of the Johnson-Forest Tendency and a co-author of A Woman’s Place, the feminist pamphlet issued by Correspondence Committees in 1953. She accompanied C.L.R. James to England after he was forced to leave the U.S. under threat of deportation that year and the two were married. She worked with him during his extended stays in Trinidad, the couple active first as supporters, then critics of, Eric Williams. Selma James became grew estranged from her husband during this period and became heavily involved in the British radical feminist movement. She also established links with the Italian feminist movement and worked with Mariarosa Dalla Costa. Criticism &c. looks forward to this book and in particular its potential to rekindle much-needed discussion on the relationship of Marxism and feminism.

Published in: on October 5, 2011 at 12:33 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Music Mondays: Cable Street

The Men They Couldn’t Hang: The Ghosts of Cable Street

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