From the archive of struggle no.68

First, here’s Steve Hanson on the Working Class Movement Library, Salford:

Across from the Museum and Art Gallery in Salford is the Working Class Movement Library, which houses some very important documents about co-operative societies, including records on the Fenwick Weavers, a very early society:

‘Early societies tended to operate separately and did not come together to form a movement until the early 19th century, during the Industrial Revolution. Industrialisation brought the rapid growth of towns and fewer people producing their own food.’

Robert Owen is viewed as a founder of the movement, paying higher wages for shorter hours in the factory, much like the Fielden family over on the Yorks-Lancs border. The movement then blossomed in places such as nearby Rochdale, a place now on it knees, which is attempting some desperate revivification of the area around the train station.

What else?

Mühsam on the cover of the novel "Café Grössenwahn" by Rose Austerlitz

Erich Mühsam (1878-1934) was a leading figure in the German anarchist movement. The Erich in English site will be home to critical English editions of several of his most important works.

Newly published old texts now. In agone the entirity of Retour à l’Ouest by Victor Serge, written June 1936 to May 1940, via Ent./Espace contre CimentFrom the same source: Revolutionäre Kommunisten Deutschlands: Bulletin VI/2 (März-April 1946), G. Munis: La non-révolution (1966), Marc Chirik: La nature non-prolétarienne de l’État russe et sa fonction contre-révolutionnaire (1944)

From Bastard Archive: by Colin Ward Anarchism – A very short introduction (2004), via Ent.

And the next several items are also from Ent.:

Moses Hess: Zunächst der Hinweis auf ein Online-Archiv mit Texten von Moses Hess, der am 25. Januar 200 Jahre alt geworden wäre und eine nicht zu unterschlagende Rolle in der revolutionären Bewegung in Deutschland gespielt hatte, es war Hess, der Marx und Engels für die Idee des Kommunismus gewonnen hatte [an online archive of texts by Moses Hess , who on 25 January would be 200 years old. Hess had played a not inconsiderable role in forging the revolutionary movement in Germany; it was Hess, who won Marx and Engels for the idea of communism:]

Der Mensch muß mit sich anfangen, mit dem Ich, wenn er schaffen, tätig sein will. — Wie die alte Geschichte, die Naturgeschichte, mit dem ersten Menschen anfing, so muß auch die neue, die Geschichte des Geistes, mit dem ursprünglichen Individuum anfangen. Cartesius hat einen unglücklichen Versuch gemacht — er ist, wie wir gesehen haben, beim zweiten Worte gescheitert. Spinoza hat alles getan, aber die Geschichte hat sich nicht sogleich seiner Tat bemeistert; seine Ethik lag mehrere Jahrhunderte unfruchtbar im Boden, bis endlich das zwei­schneidige Schwert der geistigen und sozialen Revolution den Schutt wegräumte, der den Keim der Neuzeit erdrückte. Da zeigten sich plötzlich zwei Blättchen, deren Wurzel unbekannt. Atheismus und Kommunismus wurden von Fichte und Babeuf in den beiden Hauptstädten diesseits und jenseits des Rheins, in Berlin und Paris, zum Schrecken der Philister gelehrt, und Jünger strömten herbei, die sich für die Lehre begeisterten. Atheismus und Kommunismus!” (aus Philosophie der That, 1843)

Gefunden dank La Bataille socialiste: der Grand dictionnaire socialiste von Adéodat Compère-Morel (1924), der leider wie viele andere seines Milieus als Vichy-Kollaborateur endete [thanks to La Bataille Socialiste: the Grand dictionnaire Socialiste of Adeodat Compere-Morel (1924), who unfortunately ended like many others of his milieu as a Vichy collaborator]

Three texts at Collectif Smolny:

* Paul Mattick: Interview à Lotta Continua (1977)
* GLAT: Pour un regroupement révolutionnaire (1969)
* BILAN: Le droit au soulèvement armé (1937)
Acta de la reunión del Comité Central del  Buró Internacional de las Juventudes Revolucionarias (1937 unter den Anwesenden u.a. Willy Brandt)

From the website of  Fundación Andreu Nin, mainly Poumist related texts:

* Benjamin Péret: Cartas de Benjamin Péret a André Breton sobre la revolución española (1936-1938)
Reunión del Subsecretariado Internacional del POUM, 14 de mayo de 1937: Informe del camarada Gorkin sobre las “jornadas de mayo”(1937)
* Juan Andrade:  Prefacio a la edición de Ruedo Ibérico de Los problemas de la revolución española (1931-1937), de Andreu Nin (1986)
* Joaquin Maurin: Hacia la segunda revolución (1935)
* Amigos de Durruti: Hacia una nueva revolución (1937)

In La Presse Anarchiste:  La Voix du Travail n°2 of  IAA from September 1926.

From Marxists Internet Archive:  1941 volume of  The Militant. [“These are intermediate to high resolution scans for almost the entire year, 46 issues, preceeeding the US entry into World War II. These scans were made possible by the combined efforts of the ETOL, Holt Labor Library and Riazanov Library project.” This is when Felix Morrow and Albert Goldman were editors.]

Also at MIA: Added to the Spanish Archivo Andreu NinLa situación política y las tareas del proletariado (1937)

From the Anarchist Library:

Letter of América Scarfó to Émile Armand  (Buenos Aires, 3 December 1928. Translation of an important document in the history of Argentinian anarchism and of anarchist thinking on amatory ethics. “I desire for all just what I desire for myself: the freedom to act, to love, to think. That is, I desire anarchy for all humanity.” From Libcom, updated.)

The Luddites’ 200th birthday by Bernard Marszalek (FIFTH ESTATE #386, Spring, 2012, Vol. 47, No. 1, page 4)// Back to 1911 by Peter Lamborn Wilson (“Reversion to 1911 would constitute a perfect first step for a 21st century neo-Luddite movement. Living in 1911 means using technology and culture only up to that point and no further, or as little as possible.” FIFTH ESTATE #386, Spring, 2012, Vol. 47, No. 1, page 10) // Against Negation Or, Positively Revolting by Patrick Dunn (FIFTH ESTATE #386, Spring, 2012, Vol. 47, No. 1, page 24) // Disobedience: The antidote for miserablism by Penelope Rosemont (Tracing a line from Paul Lafargue to Andre Breton and Jacques Vache to Franklin Rosemont to Bernard Marszalek to Fredy Perlman to Occupy. FIFTH ESTATE #386, Spring, 2012, Vol. 47, No. 1, page 25) //Redrawing The Line: The Anarchist Writings of Paul Goodman by Paul Comeau (A review of Drawing The Line Once Again: Paul Goodman’s Anarchist Writings, PM Press, 2010. FIFTH ESTATE #386, Spring, 2012, Vol. 47, No. 1, page 28)  //  Declaration by the Ghost of Emma Goldman by Rick London (FIFTH ESTATE #386, Spring, 2012, Vol. 47, No. 1, page 30) // Three anarchist Rebellions on Film by Dan Georgakas (“Hundreds of films take on anarchist themes in some manner, but only a handful deal with anarchist governance. Three of the most interesting of these are, Alexander the Great (Megalexandros, 1980, Greek), Viva Zapata! (1952, United States), and Rebellion in Patagonia (La Patagonia Rebelde, 1974, Argentina)… Rebellion in Patagonia deals with a revolt in 1821 by Argentine anarcho-syndicalist workers in the rural area of Santa Cruz and their alliance with workers in Buenos Aires who also raised the black flag. The film opens with an anarchist hurling a fatal bomb at a Lieutenant Colonel Zavala, a prominent military officer. .” FIFTH ESTATE #386, Spring, 2012, Vol. 47, No. 1, page 36) // Spain: model for anarchist organizing by David Porter (A review of The CNT in the Spanish Revolution, Volume I by Jose Peirats, Edited and Introduced by Chris Ealham; Translated by Paul Sharkey PM Press / Christie Books; 432pp, 628;, FIFTH ESTATE #386, Spring, 2012, Vol. 47, No. 1, page 45)

The Unknown Revolution, 1917-1921  by Voline (A complete translation of La Revolution Inconnue, 1917-1921, first published in French in 1947, and re-published in Paris in 1969 by Editions Pierre Belfond. An abridged, two-volume English translate of the work was published in 1954 and 1955 by the Libertarian Book Club (New York City) and Freedom Press (London). The present edition contains all the materials included in the earlier edition (translated by Holley Cantine), as well as the sections which were omitted (Book I, Part I and II, and some brief omissions later in the work, translated by Fredy Perlman). Originally at Ditext, copied at Anarchist Library and recently updated there. More from Ditext below.)

Ditext – Digital Text International – is a large and bizarre repository of texts on anarchism, Marxism, philosophy and the Ukraine. Sections include Anarchism: The Unfinished Revolution. Here are some texts: Camillo Berneri, Peter Kropotkin: His Federalist Ideas, 1942 // John Paul Himka, Socialism in Galicia, 1983. // Colin Ward, “The Anarchist Sociology of Federalism” Freedom, June-July 1992. // Rudnytsky, Ivan L. Essays in Modern Ukrainian History. Edited by Peter L. Rudnytsky, Edmonton: Canadian Institute of Ukrainian Studies Press, 1987 (includes The Political Thought of Soviet Ukrainian Dissidents) // Adams, Arthur E. The Great Ukrainian Jacquerie The Ukraine, 1917-1921: A Study in Revolution, edited by Taras Hunczak, 1977. // Arshinov, Peter. History of the Makhnovist Movement (1918-1921), Translated by Lorraine and Fredy Perlman, 1974, originally published in 1923 by the Group of Russian Anarchists in Germany. // Conquest, Robert. The Harvest of Sorrow: Soviet Collectivization and the Terror-Famine. New York: Oxford University Press, 1986. // Hunczak, Taras, ed. The Ukraine, 1917-1921: A Study in Revolution. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard Ukrainian Research Institute, 1977 // Souchy, Augustin. The workers and peasants of Russia and Ukraine, how do they live? 1922.

Vie Ditext, I followed links to a number of digital text archives and portals.

*The López Martín Collection. “This collection inspired by the Spanish and Portuguese Historical Society (SPHP) and sustained by Lynn H. Nelson (University of Kansas), Jack Owens (Idaho State University), and Ignacio López Martín (European University Institute) is since 1996 the first step of a wider project regarding the use of Internet to study Early Modern Iberian history.” In turn this has links to other sites such as Roberto Ortiz de Zarate’s Political Collection, a collection of political leaders and formation of Spanish Governments from 1931. Ferrol Urban History by José María Cardesín (U. Coruña) (“La ciudad española de Ferrol fue diseñada “ex-novo- por ingenieros militares que trabajaban al servicio de la monarquía de la Ilustración, para alojar una base naval, astilleros y arsenales. La doble necesidad de defender la ciudad frente a ataques del exterior y de asegurar la disciplina de sus trabajadores condujo a la aplicación de un plan espacial cargado de violencia y segregación entre la Marina de Guerra y la clase trabajadora. A largo plazo los cambios que se fueron produciendo en la economía y en la geopolítica internacional, así como aquellas novedades que se introdujeron en el arte de la guerra, tuvieron un impacto directo en la ciudad y vinieron a arrojar dudas sobre su viabilidad. Así mismo, los cambios que también se fueron produciendo en la cultura política y en las alianzas de clase condujeron a una redefinición de las prácticas de poder. A lo largo del siglo XIX, la base naval y la economía de enclave que caracterizaba a Ferrol sufrieron repetidas crisis de obsolescencia. Más adelante, durante la Guerra Civil española, la Marina franquista erigió la represión de la clase trabajadora en objetivo mayor dentro de la cuestión principal de derrotar a la España Republicana. La dictadura franquista conllevó el retorno de un Ferrol segregado y militarizado, un modelo que quedaría finalmente obsoleto a partir la década de 1980, con la consolidación de la democracia y la integración de España en la Unión Europea.”) History of Madrid by Luis Enrique Otero Carvajal and Angel Bahamonde (U. Complutense) “An excellent site on the evolution and development of Madrid from “Borderline to Metropolitan Area””. Loads of Catalan history resources here.

*KnowledgeRush Book Directory Large directory of popular literary works and historical documents available on the Web. Includes biographies of some authors and can be browsed by author, genre, or title.

*The Humanities Text Initiative. This includes such things as this:

The Great Depression conjures up one of the profound American twentieth-century experiences. Unlike earlier depressions and periods of hard times, this economic paralysis was of a magnitude and duration that approached trauma and and although amelioration was evident after federal relief measures were taken, the long-awaited recovery never took place. Almost all of the items exhibited here come from the Labadie Collection of social protest materials, with some augmentation from the main Special Collections Library, the Graduate Library, and the Music Library. This particular collection captures over 100 digital images of the items from this exhibit.

Spanish Revolution and Civil War gallery

A wonderful gallery at Libcom. Here’s just a taste – go enjoy the real thing.

Militia woman.Unidentified black soldier.Burned out cars after the defeat of Franco's forces in Barcelona, 1936.Madrid, July 1936.Spanish Civil War and Revolution photo gallery, 1936-39Demonstration, Puerta del Sol, Madrid.Anarchists in Madrid.Collectivised CNT tram, Barcelona.Collectivised tram.Spanish Civil War and Revolution photo gallery, 1936-39.Anarchist militia women.Workers' barricades.Workers' barricades.Militia men and women leave for the front in Barcelona.Spanish Civil War and Revolution photo gallery, 1936-39.Speech from bricklayer and CNT member Cipriano Mera.Spanish Civil War and Revolution photo gallery, 1936-39.The Durruti Column.Workers' barricades, Barcelona, July 1936.Workers on the barricades, Barcelona, 1936.Workers' barricades.Tereul, Aragon Front, 1938.Militias in training, Catalunya.Militia woman in training, Barcelona.Militia women in training, Barcelona.Boy wearing cap of “Union de Hermanos Proletarios”, Barcelona.Spanish anarcho-syndicalist, Buenaventura Durruti (centre).Durruti's funeral.Supporters at Durruti's funeral.Supporters carrying coffin at Durruti's funeral.Spanish Civil War and Revolution photo gallery, 1936-39


Criticism etc

I have added a rss feed for Criticism etc down at the bottom right, as I find myself wanting to re-post almost everything there. Here are some recent items.

Retrospective Review: Paul Buhle’s Marxism in the United States

Marxism in the United States: Remapping the History of the American Left by Paul Buhle Verso, 1991 (revised edition; original edition 1987)

Buhle’s book undertakes the formidable task of presenting a concise history of the experience of American Marxism, from its arrival with the German émigrés of 1848 to the Ronald Reagan era. He is strongest in his interpretation of the often contention-fraught relationship between the radicalism of the native-born socialists and that of the many immigrant communities that played such an important role in the history of the U.S. nineteenth and early twentieth-century left. Buhle’s signal concern is culture, specifically popular culture, and it tends to subsume almost all other elements here, including philosophical debates (admittedly, not a strong point in American Marxism). The survey of classroom Marxist debates in the book’s final chapter hasn’t aged well, although, as far as academic prominence goes, Buhle was certainly vindicated in the focus he placed on Frederic JamesonCriticism &c. highly recommends.

The Digital MEGA

The latest issue of Socialism and Democracy includes an update on the progress of the Marx-Engels Gesamtausgabe project, the international scholarly effort to publish all of the works of Marx in the languages in which they were written. The author, Gerd Callesen, is a Danish librarian and editorial participant in the project. While the expensive volumes in the series are not intended for use by the average person interested in Marx (and shrinking academic library budgets mean that few students may even have a chance to use them), some volumes in the series are being made freely available on the web. Criticism &c. provides here an excerpt from the article focusing on the MEGA’s digital portion and some concluding paragraphs on the future of the project.

An Excerpt from Charles Denby’s Indignant Heart has made available three chapters from Indignant Heart: a Black Worker’s Journal by Charles Denby. Denby, an African-American auto worker and revolutionary, was a member of the Johnson-Forest Tendency and became one of the founding members of News and Letters Committees in 1955. Indignant Heart (the title comes from a quote by Abolitionist Wendall Phillips) was originally published by the JFT in 1952 and attributed to the pseudonym Matthew Ward. Denby, whose real name was Simon Owens, greatly expanded the book in a new edition published by South End Press in 1978. Wayne State University Press published this edition in 1989 with an introduction by William H. Harris, an historian of the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters.

The chapters selected by Libcom are the final three from the 1952 edition. Note the episode in Chapter 15 in which Denby—at a public meeting—asks novelist and CP member Howard Fast, “What is the relationship of the Russian workers to production?”

Another Comment on Charles Denby’s Indignant Heart

Among the chapters of Indignant Heart recently made available by Libcom, Chapter 16 (“The Trotskyist Party”) is extremely important for its depiction of the strong current of racism that pervaded the Marxist parties, an under-acknowledged aspect of the history of the U.S. left. It’s not possible to discern any difference between the attitudes Denby faced every day from S.W.P. members and the racism prevalent in the larger society of the time. On the theoretical level, Denby exposes the fact that the Trotskyists did not even have an official party position on question of racial oppression in U.S. society. The unidentified speaker at the 1948 convention was, of course, C.L.R. James (the Johnson-Forest Tendency had rejoined the S.W.P. the previous year). The resolution put forth at the convention, the Revolutionary Answer to the Negro Question in the U.S., was published in Fourth International in December 1948 (under the byline J. Meyer). A revised version adopted by the party in 1950 (“Negro Liberation Through Revolutionary Socialism“) appears in Fourth International, May-June 1950. Both texts are available in the Marxists Internet Archive.

A preview excerpt from the Wayne State University edition of Indignant Heart is available at Google Books.


Both Libcom (see above) and the AWL have published some material relating to Victor Serge recently. The former has published his Year 1 of the revolution. In the latter, Paul Hampton wrote on Victor Serge and Kronstadt in January, with replies by Martyn Hudson and others, followed by Martyn Hudson again, followed by the publication of a first and second instalment of Karl Radek’s view. Meanwhile, Serge’s great memoirs are due to be re-published in April:

Memoirs of a Revolutionary
By Victor Serge
Translated by Peter Sedgwick
April 2012

Victor Serge is one of the great men of the twentieth century, anarchist, revolutionary, agitator, theoretician, historian of his times, and a fearless truthteller. Here Serge describes his upbringing in Belgium, the child of a family of exiled Russian revolutionary intellectuals, his early life as an activist, his time in a French prison, the active role he played in the Russian Revolution, as well his growing dismay at the Revolutionary regime’s ever more repressive and murderous character. Expelled from the Soviet Union, Serge went to Paris, and barely escaped the Nazis to find a final refuge in Mexico. Memoirs of a Revolutionary describes a thrilling life on the frontlines of history and includes brilliant portraits of politicians from Trotsky and Lenin to Stalin and of major writers like Alexander Blok and Andrey Bely. Above all, it captures the sensibility of Serge himself, that of a courageous and singularly appealing advocate of human liberation who remained undaunted in the most trying of times.

Peter Sedgwick’s fine translation of Serge’s Memoirs of a Revolutionary was cut by a fifth when it was first published in 1963. This new edition is the first in English to present the entirety of Serge’s book.

Read Richard Greeman here on the current dissent in Russia. James B on the Falklands or the Malvinas. And finally: Ron Radosh on Oliver Stone’s Stalinist history of America.

Today in 1939: Spanish refugees

At Getty Images:

01 Feb 1939
1st February 1939: Two members of a rescue party assist an elderly woman fleeing the Spanish Civil War. (Photo by Topical Press Agency/Getty Images)



01 Jan 1939
circa 1939: Wounded Loyalist at the special commissary’s office at Le Perthus, Spain. (Photo by Three Lions/Getty Images)
By: Three Lions
Collection: Hulton Archive


01 Jan 1939
FRANCE – CIRCA 1939: War of Spain. Exodus. France, February 1939. RV-221838. (Photo by Gaston Paris/Roger Viollet/Getty Images)
By: Gaston Paris
Collection: Roger Viollet

Via Jonathan Woods

Published in: on February 19, 2012 at 10:47 am  Leave a Comment  

The Civil War in 3D

Going deeper back into American history than the photos I linked to here, The Atlantic has a series on the photography of the American Civil War. Here’s the rather portentous intro:

Last year marked the 150th anniversary of the start of the American Civil War, a milestone commemorated by The Atlantic in a special issue (now available online). Although photography was still in its infancy, war correspondents produced thousands of images, bringing the harsh realities of the frontlines to those on the home front in a new and visceral way. As brother fought brother and the nation’s future grew uncertain, the public appetite for information was fed by these images from the trenches, rivers, farms, and cities that became fields of battle.

Part 2 focuses on the people; part 3 is some stereographs , 3D images.

Frederick Douglass, ca. 1879. Born a slave in Maryland, Douglass escaped as a young man, eventually becoming an influential social reformer, a powerful orator and a leader of the abolitionist movement. (George K. Warren/NARA) # 
[When I was a child, my father had this photograph of Frederick Douglass above his desk, and I was fascinated by this stern, austere man and his piercing gaze.]

A group of Contrabands at Haxall’s Mill, Richmond, Virginia, on June 9, 1865. [click on image to view 3-D animationTo view a red/blue anaglyph version of this photo, click here. (Alexander Gardner/LOC) #
Contraband was a term commonly used in the United States military during the American Civil War to describe a new status for certain escaped slaves or those who affiliated with Union forces after the military (and the United States Congress) determined that the US would not return escaped slaves who went to Union lines to their former Confederate masters and classified them as contraband. They used many as laborers to support Union efforts and soon began to pay them wages. The former slaves set up camps near Union forces, and the Army helped support and educate both adults and children among the refugees. Thousands of men from these camps enlisted in the United States Colored Troops when recruitment started in 1863…
While becoming a “contraband” did not mean full freedom, many slaves considered it a step in that direction. The day after Butler’s decision, many more escaped slaves found their way to Fort Monroe and appealed to become contraband. As the number of former slaves grew too large to be housed inside the Fort, the contrabands erected housing outside the crowded base from the burned ruins of the City of Hampton left behind by the Confederates. They called their new settlement Grand Contraband Camp (which they nicknamed “Slabtown”). By the end of the war in April 1865, less than four years later, an estimated 10,000 escaped slaves had applied to gain “contraband” status, with many living nearby

Theft at the Atenou

As I already reported (thanks to Kate Sharpley Library), there has been a terrible theft at one of the most important cultural spaces in Barcelona, l’Ateneu Enciclopèdic Popular, which will be celebrating its centenary this year. Here is a statement from the Ateneu, badly translated into English – please circulate.

Today, 1 February 2012 entered in force to steal important documents from the Library of the Athenaeum.

Among the items stolen were:

  • Original posters of the Civil War era as well as various objects also the period of the Spanish Civil War.
  • Postcards from the civil war, pamphlets of many organizations and groups of the 20s and 30s and of the Franco-era underground.
  • A collection of currency notes of the collectivized villages
  • A postcard collection of civil war and of personalities such as Bakunin and Kropotkin
  • A collection of film programs for the period of civil war
  • A collection of old tram tickets for ten cents a pts.
  • A collection of medals, pins, badges and insignia of the Civil War
  • A folder with pictures of the free women’s and libertarian cultural associations, as well as documentation of collectivised enterprises based on the road from Ribes de Barcelona and visit of experts from Mexico.

The website contains some images, as well as a zip folder, and people are urged to look out for these. Here are just a couple of items:

Published in: on February 14, 2012 at 4:30 pm  Leave a Comment  

Theft at the Ateneo enciclopèdic Barcelona

Important news from KSL, more on this to come soon:

The Ateneo enciclopèdic Barcelona suffered a major theft a few days ago, especially items and publications dating from the Spanish Revolution. Their statement (in Catalan) is at:
This page has a link to the document listing the lost items with details of the missing handbills, paper currency, posters, stamps etc. This page also contains photos of stolen items (you should click twice on the thumbnail for the larger version).
Alternatively the article with large format photos can be seen in pdf format:

Get in touch with the Ateneo if you see these items being sold online:
Ateneo enciclopèdic Barcelona contact details:

Published in: on February 13, 2012 at 4:28 pm  Leave a Comment  

Letters of Note

A recommendation.

Some extracts:

Nor was there a stock comedy Negro

In 1943, Alfred Hitchcock approached author John Steinbeck and asked him to write the script for his next movie, Lifeboat. Steinbeck agreed, and quickly supplied the director with a novella. Over the coming months, Hitchcock gradually modified the story with the assistance of other writers, and in January of 1944, just before it premiered, Steinbeck watched the finished movie.

Steinbeck was mortified with what he saw, in particular the depiction of an African American sailor named Joe, and so wrote the following letter to 20th Century Fox to make his feelings known. A month later he sent a telegram, also seen below, to his agent and instructed her to have his name removed from the credits. The studio ignored his request.

(Source: Steinbeck: A Life in Letters; Image: John Steinbeck, by Peter Stackpole, via Life.)

New York
January 10, 1944

Dear Sirs:

I have just seen the film Lifeboat, directed by Alfred Hitchcock and billed as written by me. While in many ways the film is excellent there are one or two complaints I would like to make. While it is certainly true that I wrote a script for Lifeboat, it is not true that in that script as in the film there were any slurs against organized labor nor was there a stock comedy Negro. On the contrary there was an intelligent and thoughtful seaman who knew realistically what he was about. And instead of the usual colored travesty of the half comic and half pathetic Negro there was a Negro of dignity, purpose and personality. Since this film occurs over my name, it is painful to me that these strange, sly obliquities should be ascribed to me.

John Steinbeck

A month later, to his agent, Annie Laurie Williams:

FEBRUARY 19, 1944



For Aspiring Editors

Young novelist William Saroyan dreamed of one day editing a magazine, and so in 1936 sought advice on that very aspiration from the great H. L. Mencken, a hugely influential man who had, in the 1920s, founded and edited his own title.

Saroyan sent him a polite letter. Mencken responded with the priceless reply seen below.

(Source: The New Mencken Letters; Image: H.L. Mencken, courtesy ofEnoch Pratt Free Library.)

25 January, 1936
San Fransisco, California

Dear Saroyan,

I note what you say about your aspiration to edit a magazine. I am sending you by this mail a six-chambered revolver. Load it and fire every one into your head. You will thank me after you get to hell and learn from other editors there how dreadful their job was on earth.

(Signed, ‘H.L. Mencken’)

Published in: on February 12, 2012 at 6:10 pm  Leave a Comment  
Tags: ,

Reasons to read the Daily Mail, nos.1-2

The first in a (probably short) series.

As well as this moving story of negro American WWII soldiers’ photos rescued from the trash can, look at these amazing colour photos of America just before WWII.

Dressed for action: A female aircraft worker at the Vega Aircraft Corporation in around 1940

Dressed for action: A female aircraft worker at the Vega Aircraft Corporation in around 1940

Squalor: A photograph of a Chicago railway yard believed to have been taken in the late 1930s

Squalor: A photograph of a Chicago railway yard believed to have been taken in the late 1930s

 Character: Jim Norris a homesteader from Pie Town, New Mexico pictured in October 1940
Jim Norris a homesteader from Pie Town, New Mexico pictured in October 1940
Day laborers picking cotton, near Clarksdale, Miss. 1939 Nov.
Day laborers picking cotton, near Clarksdale, Mississippi in November  1939
Published in: on February 9, 2012 at 6:10 pm  Comments (1)  
Tags: , , ,

From the archive of struggle, no.67

At The Quay, 1935
Strike, 1936
Evening Trip, 1937

First, some items from Roland Dodds’ latest webtrawl, and below the fold, the latest installment of the From the Archives of Struggle series.

Union Rights:  Shiraz Socialist brings to my attention theLabour Start campaign to free Mahdi ‘Issa Mahdi Abu Dheeb, President of the Bahraini Teachers Association (BTA) who is currently under arrest. The Alliance for Workers’ Liberty has an excellent piece criticizing members of the left that mourned the death of Kim Jong Ill in one form or another. Rossie Huzzard echos my sentiments: “This nonsensical affection for tyrannical “anti-imperialist” states taints the entire left. We are on the side of the international working class against all enemies. Solidarity with the working class of North Korea against their state oppressors!”

Anarchism, Socialism, Unionism: AWL also has a pamphlet debating the role of anarchism in the labour struggle.

And forget the OWS movement, with Newt Gingrich making inroads with Republican voters by criticizing the capitalist culture Romney comes from and perpetuates, Peter Dreier asks if Capitalism is on trial in America.

The Social Democrats USA, the small but influential organization led by Penn Kemble before his death in 2005, has been revived to some degree. Follow their activities at Social Currents.

Some items from Entdinglichung and elsewhere:

Central European Social Democracy 1900-1933 (more…)