Shoot them like partridges

I don’t care much for people who enjoy killing things, but I am willing to put up with hunters as long as they don’t carry their habits into private and public life. (Trotsky wired Zinoviev re the Kronstadt sailors, in revolt for the fulfillment of the promises of the Revolution, “Shoot them like partridges.” Bertrand Russell commented, “A hunter should never be allowed to lead a revolution.”)

—Kenneth Rexroth “Hemingway”, 1961

***

“You think perhaps I am a Royalist? No. If there was anybody in heaven or hell to pray to I would pray for a revolution — a red revolution everywhere.”

“You astonish me,” I said, just to say something.

“No! But there are half a dozen people in the world with whom I would like to settle accounts. One could shoot them like partridges and no questions asked. That’s what revolution would mean to me.”

“It’s a beautifully simple view,” I said.

—Joseph Conrad The Arrow of Gold, 1919

***

In a recent post, I quoted Michael Ezra thus:

In [Isaac Deutscher’s] account of the Kronstadt rebellion, there is no mention of Trotsky’s famous order, “shoot them like partridges.”

In a comment, Steve Parsons writes:

I might be wrong but I think it was Zinoviev who is associated with the phrase “shoot them like p[h]easants”.

For an extensive review – a political critique but also a partial listing of some of the numerous factual inacurracies – of Service’s biography on Trotsky see David North’s ´In the service of historical falsification’

I’ve always thought it was Trotsky, but wondered if it was one of those urban myths, so present here the fruits of some of my googling. It seems it was a committee that Zinoviev chaired, although Trotsky may have had a role in its distribution. However, I think it is fair to say that Trotsky shared the sentiment.

TrotskyParade01.JPG (60177 bytes)Quick background: in February 1921, the sailors of Kronstadt in Russia, a stronghold of the revolution, raised 15 demands for greater freedom for working class people and peasants. In March, the Red Army moved to suppress the sailors, killing over 1000. Leon Trotsky, as Commissar for War, played a key role in this suppression. As did Zinoviev, by 1921 head of the Petrograd party organization, chairman of the Petrograd Soviet, and a full member of the party’s Politburo.

1. From Israel Gertzler Kronstadt 1917-1921: The Fate of a Soviet Democracy (2002, p.220):

on 4 March 4 an ‘Appeal’ by Zinoviev‘s Defence Committee of Petrograd denounced ‘all those Petrichenkos and Tu[k]ins’, meaning Kronstadt’s Revolutionary Committee, as ‘puppets who dance at the behest of Tsarist general Kozlovsky’ and ‘other notorious White Guards’, and demanded the Kronstadters’ unconditional surrender, or else ‘you will be shot down like partridges‘.

2. From The Soviet image: a hundred years of photographs from inside the TASS archives by Peter Radetsky, p.59:

Trotsky ordered leaflets airdropped over the [Kronstadt] base, informing his former comrades that if they didn’t surrender within twenty-four hours, “I’ll shoot you like pheasants.”Downtown, Buenos Aires: Viva the Kronstadt rebellion by michaelramallah.

3. Ida Mett, from “The Kronstadt Commune” (1938):

On 5th. March, the Petrograd Defence Committee issued a call to the rebels.

‘You are being told fairy tales when they tell you that Petrograd is with you or that the Ukraine supports you. These are impertinent lies. The last sailor in Petrograd abandoned you when he learned that you were led by generals like Kozlovskv. Siberia and the Ukraine support the Soviet power. Red Petrograd laughs at the miserable efforts of a handful of White Guards and Socialist Revolutionaries. You are surrounded on all sides. A few hours more will lapse and then you will he compelled to surrender. Kronstadt has neither bread nor fuel. If you insist, we will shoot you like partridges.

‘At the last minute, all those generals, the Kozlovskvs, the Bourksers, and all that riff raff, the Petrichenkos, and the Tourins will flee to Finland, to the White guards. And you, rank and file soldiers and sailors, where will you go then? Don’t believe them when they promise to feed you in Finland. Haven’t you heard what happened to Wrangel’s supporters? They were transported to Constantinople. There they are dying like flies, in their thousands, of hunger and disease. This is the fate that awaits you, unless you immediately take a grip of yourselves. Surrender Immediately! Don’t waste a minute. Collect your weapons and come over to us. Disarm and arrest your criminal leaders, and in particular the Tsarist generals. Whoever surrenders immediately will be forgiven. Surrender now.

‘Signed: The Defence Committee’.

4. Alexander Berkman, from The Kronstadt Rebellion:

smp1Trotsky had been expected to address the Petro-Soviet, and his failure to appear was interpreted by some as indicating that the seriousness of the situation was exaggerated. But during the night he arrived in Petrograd and the following morning, March 5, he issued his ultimatum to Kronstadt:

The Workers and Peasants Government has decreed that the Kronstadt and the rebellious ships must immediately submit to the authority of the Soviet Republic. Therefore I command all who have raised their hand against the Socialist fatherland to lay down their arms at once. The obdurate are to be disarmed and turned over to the Soviet authorities. The arrested Commissars and other representatives of the Government are to be liberated at once. Only those surrendering unconditionally may count on the mercy of the Soviet Republic.

Simultaneously I am issuing orders to prepare to quell the mutiny and subdue the mutineers by force of arms. Responsibility for the harm that may be suffered by the peaceful population will fall entirely upon the heads of the counter-revolutionary mutineers. This warning is final.

TROTSKY
Chairman Revolutionary Military Soviet of the Republic

KAMENEV
Commander-in-Chief

The situation looked ominous. Great military forces continuously flowed into Petrograd and its environs. Trotsky’s ultimatum was followed by a prikaz which contained the historic threat, “I’ll shoot you like pheasants”.

[Note: The same text is in Voline’s The Unknown Revolution, bk.3, pt.1, ch.5, and in Berkman’s The Paris Commune and Kronstadt, which notes that the threat was distributed “by a military flying machine”].

5. Daniel Bell, from “First Love and Early Sorrows” (Partisan Review, 1981):

frontpiecesome anarchist relatives, cousins of my mother, a Russian Jewish couple who lived in Mohegan Colony… took me to see Rudolf Rocker, the venerable Anarchist leader, an imposing and portly man with a large square head and imposing brush of gray hair, who then lived in the Colony… In parting, he gave me a number of Anarchist pamphlets, by Malatesta, by Kropotkin (on the Paris Commune), and in particular two pamphlets by Alexander Berkman, The Russian Tragedy and The Kronstadt Rebellion, pamphlets in English but “set up and printed for Der Syndikalist,” Berlin 1922–pamphlets That I have before me as I write (one inscribed in a large round hand, “with fraternal greetings, A.B.. “)–and he suggested that I read Berkman’s The Bolshevik Myth, the diary of his years in Russia, 1920-1922, a copy of which I soon found, and still have.

Every radical generation, it is said, has its Kronstadt. For some it was the Moscow Trials, for others the Nazi-Soviet Pact, for still others Hungary (The Raik Trial or 1956), Czechoslovakia (the defenestration of Masaryk in 1948 or the Prague Spring of 1968), the Gulag, Cambodia, Poland (and there will be more to come). My Kronstadt was Kronstadt.

… I wish it were possible to reprint in full the twelve pages of Berkman’s diary in Petrograd, from the end of February through mid-March 1921, for no bare summary can convey the immediacy, tension and drama as the sailors from the First and Second squadrons of the Baltic Fleet at Kronstadt, the men from the naval base at Petrograd who had catalyzed the October days in 1917, now appealed, following the spontaneous strikes of workers in Petrograd and Moscow, for the establishment of freedom of speech and press “for workers and peasants, for Anarchist and Left Socialist parties,” for the liberation of “all political prisoners of Socialist parties,” to “equalize The rations of all who work,” etc.

For Trotsky, who was Chairman of the Revolutionary Military Soviet, This was mvatezh, or mutiny. He demanded That the sailors surrender or “I’ll shoot you like pheasants.” The last three entries of Berkman’s diaries tell of the sorry end:

March 7. –Distant mumbling reaches my ears as I cross the Nevsky. It sounds again, stronger and nearer, as if rolling towards me. All at once I realize that artillery is being fired. It is 6 A.M. Kronstadt has been attacked! ….

March 17.–Kronstadt has fallen today.

Thousands of sailors and workers lie dead in its streets. Summary execution of prisoners and hostages continues.

March 18.7-The victors are celebrating the anniversary of the Commune of 1871. Trotsky and Zinoviev denounce Thiers and Gallifet for The slaughter of the Paris rebels.

6. Victor Serge, from“Kronstadt ’21”, originally published in Dwight and Nancy MacDonald’s politics (1945):

The Political Bureau finally made up its mind to enter into negoiations with Kronstadt, lay down an ultimatum, and, as a last resort, attack the fortress and the ice-bound battleships. As it turned out, no negotiations ever took place. But an ultimatum, couched in revolting language, appeared on the billboards over the signature of Lenin and Trotsky: ‘Surrender or be shot like rabbits!’. Trotsky, limiting his activities to the Political Bureau, kept away from Petrograd.

7. John G Wright, of the American SWP, in New International (1938):

In his recent comments on Kronstadt, Victor Serge concedes that the Bolsheviks once confronted with the mutiny had no other recourse except to crush it. In this he demarcates himself from the assorted varieties of Anarcho-Menshevism. But the substance of his contribution to the discussion is to lament over the experiences of history instead of seeking to understand them as a Marxist. Serge insists that it would have been “easy” to forestall the mutiny – if only the Central Committee had not sent Kalinin to talk to the sailors! Once the mutiny flared, it would have been “easy” to avoid the worst – if only Berkman had talked to the sailors! To adopt such an approach to the Kronstadt events is to take the superficial viewpoint: “Ah, if history had only spared us Kronstadt!” It can and does lead only to eclecticism and to the loss of all political perspectives.

8. Emma Goldman, from “Trotsky Protests Too Much” (1938):

Victor Serge is now out of the hospitable shores of the workers’ “fatherland.” I therefore do not consider it a breach of faith when I say that if Victor Serge made this statement charged to him by John G. Wright, he is merely not telling the truth. Victor Serge was one of the French Communist Section who was as much distressed and horrified over the impending butchery decided upon by Leon Trotsky to “shoot the sailors as pheasants” as Alexander Berkman, myself and many other revolutionists. He used to spend every free hour in our room running up and down, tearing his hair, clenching his fists in indignation and repeating that “something must be done, something must be done, to stop the frightful massacre.” When he was asked why he, as a party member, did not raise his voice in protest in the party session, his reply was that that would not help the sailors and would mark him for the Cheka and even silent disappearance. The only excuse for Victor Serge at the time was a young wife and a small baby. But for him to state now, after seventeen years, that “the Bolsheviki once confronted with the mutiny had no other recourse except to crush it,” is, to say the least, inexcusable. Victor Serge knows as well as I do that there was no mutiny in Kronstadt, that the sailors actually did not use their arms in any shape or form until the bombardment of Kronstadt began. He also knows that neither the arrested Communist Commissars nor any other Communists were touched by the sailors. I therefore call upon Victor Serge to come out with the truth. That he was able to continue in Russia under the comradely régime of Lenin, Trotsky and all the other unfortunates who have been recently murdered, conscious of all the horrors that are going on, is his affair, but I cannot keep silent in the face of the charge against him as saying that the Bolsheviki were justified in crushing the sailors.

Leon Trotsky is sarcastic about the accusation that he had shot 1,500 sailors. No, he did not do the bloody job himself. He entrusted Tuchachevsky, his lieutenant, to shoot the sailors “like pheasants” as he had threatened. Tuchachevsky carried out the order to the last degree. The numbers ran into legions, and those who remained after the ceaseless attack of Bolshevist artillery, were placed under the care of Dibenko, famous for his humanity and his justice.

Tuchachevsky and Dibenko, the heroes and saviours of the dictatorship! History seems to have its own way of meting out justice. [Tukhachevsky and Dibenko were executed by Stalin in 1937.]

[serge]9. Gabriel and Dany Cohn-Bendit, from Obsolete Communism, the Left-Wing Alternative (1968):

Every attempt to settle matters peacefully was rejected out of hand by the government; Trotsky ordered his troops ‘to shoot the Kronstadt “rebels” down like partridges’, and entrusted the task to Toukhatchevsky, a military expert taken over from the Old Regime.

10. Ian Birchall, from “Victor Serge: Hero or Witness?” (1998):

Serge’s position on Kronstadt is fairly clear (see the extensive treatment in The Serge-Trotsky Papers). At the time, although profoundly unhappy, he decided to accept the suppression of the revolt as necessary. Later, in the 1930s, when he was trying to explain why the revolution had degenerated, he came to see Kronstadt as one of the key stages. This led to a sharp exchange of views with Trotsky, which became perhaps unnecessarily polarised.

11. Cajo Brendel, from “Kronstadt: Proletarian Spin-Off of the Russian Revolution” (1971):

The Kronstadt Rebellion destroyed a social myth: the myth that in the Bolshevik state, power lay in the hands of the workers. Because this myth was inseparably linked to the entire Bolshevik ideology (and still is today), because in Kronstadt a modest beginning of a true workers’ democracy was made, the Kronstadt Rebellion was a deadly danger for the Bolsheviks in their position of power. Not only the military strength of Kronstadt – that at the time of the rebellion was very much impaired by the frozen gulf – but also the demystifying effect of the rebellion threatened Bolshevik rule – a threat that was even stronger than any that could have been posed by the intervention armies of Deniken, Kolchak, Judenitch, or Wrangel.

For this reason the Bolshevik leaders were from their own perspective or better, as a consequence of their social position (which naturally influenced their perspective) – forced to destroy the Kronstadt Rebellion without hesitation. While the rebels were – as Trotsky had threatened being ‘shot like pheasants’, the Bolshevik leadership characterized the Rebellion in their own press as a counterrevolution. Since that time this swindle has been zealously promoted and stubbornly maintained by Trotskyists and Stalinists.

This is what a pheasant looks like. This is what a partridge looks like. This is what the Red Army looked like.

Related reading: Steve Parsons on Robert Service’s A History of Twentieth Century Russia; The Truth About Kronstadt.

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One more for Chris Harman

To add to the obits mentioned here, one from Splintered Sunrise.

Added: In the new Socialist Review: Chris Harman looks back at the fall of the Berlin Wall and the continued relevence of the theory of state capitalism.

Below the fold, Harman’s writings at the Marxist Internet Archive, via Entdinglichung:

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Published in: on November 20, 2009 at 10:52 am  Leave a Comment  
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Trot notes

European Trotskyists respond to the anniversary of World War II: An interesting feature on the World Socialist Website, with contributions from Françoise Thull, Barbara Slaughter, Julie Hyland, and David North.

Obituaries for Chris Harman: Michael Rosen, Andrew Coates, Jim Denham, Histomatist. Histomatist rounds up other obituaries from SWPers, but these are the most interesting to my mind. Histomatist contrasts Harman’s erudition to his low status among academo-Marxists, a very important point, as the Marxism of the ivory tower becomes ever more divorced from Marxism as a movement. Coates suprised me by positioning Harman as important in the libertarian heritage of the IS within the SWP, which can be contrasted to Denham’s portrayal of Harman the greatest betrayer of the IS’s third campism. (Added: another from The Commune.)

In the tradition of Marceau Pivert and Tom Paine: Andrew Coates on laïcité.

Misusing the word Stalinism: Tory fool Graham Warner.

Published in: on November 13, 2009 at 11:28 am  Comments (1)  
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From the archive of struggle, no.35: Holt Labor Library special

In previous editions, I have featured the Labadie Collection and the Greater Manchester Collection. This week, we focus on the Holt Labor Library, with more below the fold. Browse the whole series here.

The Holt Labor Library in San Francisco has a truly exemplary website. Below are some snippets from some of its exhibitions, which are hyperlinked to their source pages.

The Bob Mattingly Button Exhibit.

[1991] Teamsters for a Democratic Union (TDU) was formed in 1976 from a number of reform groups including Teamsters for a Democratic Contract and UPSurge. They were reacting to corruption within the union caused by leadership being too close to businesses, as well as their alleged affiliation with organized crime and the Nixon administration. Professionals Drivers’ Council (PROD) merged with TDU in 1979, bringing their lobbying and legal expertise, and new members from the East Coast and South. As a reform group within the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, TDU believes in a democratic union with control resting in the membership. Their Rank and File Bill of Rights emphasizes election of union leadership, majority approval of contract votes, equality throughout the union, workplace standards and fair salaries. Over the years, several of their goals have been implemented union-wide. In 1988, Majority Rule on Contracts became part of the IBT Constitution. TDU won direct election of officers through a federal RICO lawsuit in 1989. With the election of TDU-backed Ron Carey as Teamsters president in 1991, officers’ pay was slashed and financial waste ended. The TDU was active in the successful 1997 UPS strike. They supported Tyson Foods workers in Pasco, Washington in 1999 who called a strike even without IBT support. Today they continue their reform struggle against current IBT president James Hoffa, Jr., who they blame for new corruption and a loss of union membership.

[1984] United Farm Workers (UFW) leader César Chávez called for a third boycott on California table grapes in 1984. Whereas previous UFW boycotts had been about farm worker conditions, this one called for a ban on five major pesticides used in grape fields. The UFW claimed in their 1989 film, “Wrath of Grapes,” that the chemicals caused cancer and birth defects, and that they were getting into the ground water of surrounding communities. Chávez went on a 36-day hunger strike in 1988 to promote the boycott, receiving support from many politicians and celebrities. Later that year, city leaders in San Francisco, San Jose and Alameda County joined the boycott. UFW continued its boycott after Chávez’s death in 1993, ending it in 2000 when four of the five pesticides in question had been banned and the fifth regulated.

[1996] “The long-running, low key but aggresive campaign to organize a new party anchored firmly inside the American Labor Movement, will culminate next June in Cleveland, Ohio when delegates from across the nation formally launch a grassroots, working class-based political movement.” (Labor Party Advocate, August 1995) According to the organization’s website, the founding conference attracted “1,400 delegates from hundreds of local and international unions as well as individual activists.” They adopted a 16-point program, the “Call for Economic Justice,” that “demands that everyone who wants to work have a right to a decent-paying job. As long as millions of us remain jobless or employed at jobs that pay poverty wages, all of us will suffer.” (Labor Party: FAQs. http://www.thelaborparty.org/a_faqs.html )

Holt Labor Library Audio Collection

A selection of the library’s audio collection is online in mp3 format, hosted by the Marxists Internet Archive. Currently, lectures by George Breitman, James P. Cannon, Farrell Dobbs, Tom Kerry, Ernest Mandel, Robert Langston, Larry Trainor, Evelyn Reed and Harry Ring are available, with more to be added.

There are also special features, each with lots of links, on topics such as the San Francisco General Strike of 1934 (including folk song sheet music), the late Sylvia Weinstein, Sacco and Venzetti, Joe Hill, the Lawrence textiles strike, and the United Farm Workers of America.

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American histories: 1934

I already featured a couple of these, but thought it is worth making more of a splash:

The rebellion in Minneapolis

The history of the Teamster Rebellion in Minneapolis is packed with lessons, especially the importance of mobilizing a militant rank and file. [Socialist Worker US September 29, 2009]

The 75th Anniversary of the 1934 Minneapolis Teamsters Strike (Part 1)US: The 75th Anniversary of the 1934 Minneapolis Teamsters Strike (Part 1)

The 1934 Teamsters strike in Minneapolis, led by the Trotskyists of the Communist League of America (the forerunner of the Socialist Workers Party), was a decisive moment in the US labor and socialist movements. During the years preceding the strike, few would have expected the upsurge that took place in 1934. [By David May, Marxist.com, 17 July 2009]

The 75th Anniversary of the 1934 Minneapolis Teamsters Strike (Part 2)

After a bitter coal yard workers’ strike and organizing campaign in early 1934, Teamsters Local 574 won the right to represent thousands of workers in Minneapolis. But by May, a second strike became necessary, after the trucking and warehouse bosses refused to recognize the local. [By David May, Marxist.com, 24 September 2009]

Picketers surround Fank Hubay, one of two people killed by National Guardsmen during the Toledo strikeLabor’s breakthrough in Toledo

The 1934 Auto-Lite strike in Toledo, Ohio showed how workers could unite, employed with unemployed, to defeat the power of the bosses. [Socialist Worker US, September 15, 2009]

Strikers march through San Francisco streets during the 1934 strike

The battle for the docks

The San Francisco General Strike in July 1934 involved 200,000 workers up and down the West Coast, making it the largest general strike in U.S. history. [Socialist Worker US, September 21, 2009]

Added: For more links on the SF General Strike, go to the Holt Labor Library, from which the below is taken:

The song, “Frisco Strike Saga,” was penned by Stephen Karnot and Earl Robinson to commemorate the strike. It is reprinted from Songs of the People published in 1937 by Workers Library Publishers.

"Frisco Strike Saga" lyrics and music

From the archive of struggle, no.28

Acknowledgments, as always, to Comrade E. Mostly English above the fold, other languages below. Browse the whole series here.

La Bataille Socialiste:

* Socialist Party of the US “Justice Triumphs in Spain” (1938)

Norman Thomas at Archive.org:

*Why I am a socialist – Thomas, Norman, 1884-1968. A pamphlet from the leading American socialist in the midst of the Great Depression HX15.
*What’s the matter with New York; a national problem – Thomas, Norman, 1884-1968
*Justice triumphs in Spain! : a letter about the trial of the P.O.U.M. – Thomas, Norman, 1884-1968. Allen, Devere,; 1891-1955. The US socialist party weighs in on the trial of the POUM leaders in Republican Spain JN8395.O27
*Democracy and Japanese Americans [pdf]. New York: Post War World Council, 1942.

Irish Labour and Working Class History:

*Robert Jackson Alexander, ‘Ireland’, International Trotskyism, 1929-1985 (1991)

Tendance Coatesy:

* Ken Coates “A Note on Workers’ Control”

LibCom:

* The Red Menace: Review: Anti-Parliamentary Communism in Britain, 1917-1945 (1989)
* Nick Heath: Anarchists who turned to the Bolsheviks
* Nick Heath: Jacob Abrams, Jacob aka Jack Abrams (1883 – 1953)
* The Communist Left in Germany 1918-1921 (1976)
* Walter Benjamin: The life of students (1915)
* James Goldwasser: Ret Marut: The Early B. Traven (1993)

Workers Liberty:

* Julius Jacobson: Reflections on Fascism and Communism (1983)

Dublin Opinion:

* John Goodwillie: Family Tree of the Irish Left (1983)
* John Goodwillie: Glossary of the Left in Ireland, 1960 to 1983 (1983)

Marxist Internet Archive:

Added to the Maurice Brinton Internet Archive:
*For Workers’ Power, 1965
*Review: What is Class Consciousness?, 1972
*Review: Dialectical Materialism and Psychoanalysis, 1972
*The Bolsheviks and Workers’ Control, 1970
*Socialism Reaffirmed, 1960
*Factory Committees and the Dictatorship of the Proletariat, 1975

Added to the Barta Archive:
*Letter From Bucharest to Trotsky, May 1936

Added to the Tony Cliff Archive:
*Trotsky: 3. Fighting the rising Stalinist bureaucracy 1923-1927 (1991) (Volume 3 of Cliff’s political biography of Trotsky)
*Trotsky: 4. The darker the night the brighter the star 1927-1940 (1993) (Fourth and final volume of Cliff’s political biography of Trotsky)

The Anarchist Library:

*“Life in Revolutionary Barcelona” by Manolo Gonzalez
*“Beer and Revolution: Some Aspects of German Anarchist Culture in New York, 1880-1900” by Tom Goyens (2009)
*“Chavistas open fire, injure eight protestors in Caracas” by Peter Gelderloos (2007)
*“Dreams, Demands, and the Pragmatic Pitfall: The Barcelona Bus Drivers Strike” by Peter Gelderloos (2009)
*“Anti-patriotism” by Han Ryner (1934)

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When Skateboards will be free

This week, BBC Radio 4’s Book of the Week is the touching, amusing memoir of growing up on the American far left, When Skateboards Will be Free, by American-Iranian Said Sayrafiezadeh. Episode 2, this morning and repeated just after midnight, covers the Party deciding he and his single mother should move to Pittsburgh. This is the American SWP, portrayed perfectly. The title refers to his mother not letting him have a skateboard – until after the revolution, when they’ll be free.

Related: Gary Younge “Memoirs of a teenage Trot”, on being a WRP member in the 1980s.

Previously: Trotsky on TV/Trotsky on Book of the Week.

Alternative histories

Harry Barnes remembers his father (beautiful piece). Histomatist defends Trotsky. Martin remembers to remember Bastille Day (and Casablanca). Rosie is underwhelmed by Katyn. Dennis Healey remembers the Italian campaign but can’t remember who wrote Lili MarleneEd Walsh reviews Leo Panitch’s call for a renewal of socialism. Conor McCabe remembers the 1955 Irish/Yugoslav soccer international. The Irish Left Archive retrieves the Anarchist Worker of 1979. Bataille Socialiste remember Marceau Pivert with Orwell in Spain. Bataille Socialiste rescue the legacy of Charles Allegier. Entdinglichung archives The Left. Hillel Ticktin and Adam Buick debate Trotskyism.

left_53_1941_1

masses-pub1947-450pixe

Marxist theory

1. Hal Draper’s piece on Israel posted by angelus novus at Contested Terrain (and linked to here) has prompted a very thoughtful, intelligent response by Mira Vogel, posted at Engage and Greens Engage, two excellent British left-wing anti-racist sites.

2. Larry Gambone has a couple of recent articles of interest, most notably his dissection of the myth of Lenin’s “libertarian” State and Revolution (a myth that Draper contributed to).

3. Via Bermuda Radical (a bit Pabloite for my liking), I came across Sebastian Lamb’s critique of J Sakai and his theory of “settler” racism – useful.

4. I also recently found the Notes and Commentaries, a very interesting communist blog. This article, on sectarianism and the party, is especially good. (Again, Draper is a key reference point.)

5. Principia Dialectica lay into Amadeo Bordiga and his cult here.

Below the fold: From the archive of struggle, no.22

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History, etc

News from the frontline of the workers’ struggle:

On Thomas Paine:

Solidarity Federation: Direct Action new issue, includes:

From the archive of struggle, no.22:

From the New International, April 1941 [Via Ent.]

From Socialist Appeal, January/February 1936 [Via Ent.]

Silone/Farrell

Following up yesterday’s Ignazio  Silone post, I notice that the author (Stanislao G. Pugliese) of the book under review (Bitter Spring), is interviewed here at Publishers Weekly. Short but sweet. There’s a good review here too. Pugliese has also written about Carlo Rosselli.

Robert K Landers, who wrote the WSJ review, has also written about James T Farrell, another fascinating and inspiring writer/activist. Kyle Semmel writes about Farrell nicely here.

Who would have expected that of Herr Bronstein from Cafe Central!

A long and interesting post from Principia Dialectica about Leon Trotsky, his twists and turns, and his legacy.

Meanwhile, Roland, having heard that Hugo Chavez is planning to give Barack Obama a copy of Lenin’s What is to be Done next time he sees him, conjures up the appalling spectacle of a Chavez book club. On the Lenin gift, Jams comments “That should save Obama a few prescriptions for sleeping tablets”, and Bob adds “Personally, I think that, if books can be called evil, that What is to be Done is up there with Mein Kampf. And it’s boring!”

Meanwhile, Obama himself, interviewed on Radio 4 on his way to Cairo, mentioned he was currently reading Joseph O’Neil’s Netherland, a book heavily influenced by one of my heroes (and part of Trotsky’s legacy), CLR James.

Poumable

Blog notes

Max Dunbar: Human Smoke, pacifism, fascism and just aggression. Not just Orwell: Christopher Hall on the stories of the ILP volunteers in Spain. WSWS: A Trotskyist view of the Spanish Civil War.

Obituaries

Luis Andrés Edo, a Barcelona syndicalist who resisted Franco. More Franklin Rosemont: on mods, rockers and Wobblies.

Book notes

From Bob Helms on the Research on Anarchism list:

I’m writing to announce with delight that my book, which has been in the works for about 15 years, has just been released, and I received copies in the mail today.  I’m so happy right now that I want to tell the world about it without delay.  The book is:

Forty Years In The Struggle: The Memoirs of a Jewish Anarchist
by Chaim Leib Weinberg
Translated by Naomi Cohen
Edited and Annotated by Robert P. Helms
Published by Litwin Books (Duluth, Minnesota, 2009)
[Sponsored in part by Wooden Shoe Books]

Chaim Weinberg (1861-1939) was an anarchist of Philadelphia who wrote his memoirs in 1930.  The book was published in Yiddish in 1952 and remained quite obscure ever since.  Today old Chaim’s have been released from the chains of time, with his funny stories of his public speeches to working people, his grandfatherly way of remembering the distant past, his qualities and his forgivable flaws. Weinberg would arrive in an auditorium to give a speech to Jewish strikers, and the audience would giggle as he approached the podium, and the organizers would cringe –because the man was funny-looking. Then, as he began to speak, he would hold their hearts in the palm of his hand, giving them tears or wild laughter at will.

The only regret that I have regarding this book is that I did not dedicate it to my mentor and friend Paul Avrich (nor anyone), who passed away in 2006.  Without Paul, none of these things could possibly have happened.

[MORE DETAILS HERE]

From the archive of struggle. no.11

1. Back to the 1980s:

Arthur Bough of Boffy’s Blog publishes some long internal documents from the Workers Socialist League of 1984/5. For non-trainspotters, the background is that a couple of years earlier the International Communist League – of which Bough had been a member – and the Workers Socialist League of Alan Thornett had merged (under the WSL name), but would soon split again. The split was over the Falklands War: the ICL argue (rightly) for a plague on both the houses, while the WSL called for victory for Galtieri’s Argentine dictatorship. The ICL mutated via Socialist Organiser into the Alliance for Workers Liberty. Here are the texts:

Imperialism, Industrialisation, Trade and Sub-Imperialism
Imperialism and The New International Division of Labour
Imperialism and War
Palestine – Nationalism v Socialist Internationalism

The key argument, absolutely valid today, is that we should not talk about “oppressed nations” versus “imperialist nations”, but, rather, about exploited classes who can be oppressed by capitalists of all sorts of colours and creeds.

And here is Bough on the lessons of the Spanish Civil War.

2. More from the archive (after the fold) (more…)

Poumarama

Blog notes

YourFriendinTheNorth: Ending the silence (on the demons of the Spanish Civil War). Max Dunbar: Where to begin? (on the right wing claim that Britain is close to Orwell’s Oceania). Norm, like Trotsky before him, is aging. Orwell’s Diary reaches a new high.

Biographies and obituaries

* Hoang Khoa Khoi (1917-2009): death of a Vietnamese Trotskyist.
* Gustav Doster, aka Gustl, 1904-1977: German anarchist and veteran of the Erich Mühsam and Sacco-Vanzetti Centuries in Spain.
* Alberto Meschi, 1879-1958: Italian syndicalist and anti-fascist, active in exile in Argentina and France, founder of the Antifascist Concentration and of the Italian League of Human Rights, and veteran of the Rosselli Column in Spain.
* Albert De Jong, 1891-1970: Dutch syndicalist and anti-Nazi resistance fighter.
* Heinrich Friedetzky, 1910-1998: German anarchist, anti-fascist hero and Spanish civil war fighter.

From the archive of struggle, no.10: multilingual edition [below the fold] (more…)

Poumtastic

In no particular order:

Coatesy: The Spirit of Factions and Sects

Jewish Socialist: Review of Rick Kuhn on Henryk Grossman [pdf]

Steve Fraser in the LRB: on Emma Goldman [subs]

Norman Geras: on Orwell on Dickens; Winston Smith in the shower.

The Normblog profile: Jim Denham

The Daily Maybe: Alexandra Kollontai

Airforce Amazons: Sketches of Mallorca

HarpyMarx: the Matchgirls

David Semple: Hobsbawm’s unmarxism.

Guns, etc

An amazing series of juxtapositions from Locust St:

Round 12:


Picasso is a gunslinger

I had thought earlier in the night that you can’t run when you are sodden from head to foot and weighted down with a rifle and cartridges; I learned now you can always run when you think you have fifty or one hundred armed men after you.

George Orwell, “Homage to Catalonia.”

The guns spell money’s ultimate reason
In letters of lead on the Spring hillside.
But the boy lying dead under the olive trees
Was too young and too silly
To have been notable to their important eye.
He was a better target for a kiss.

Stephen Spender, “Ultima Ratio Regum.”

If you find an Afghan rebel that the Moscow bullets missed,
Ask him what he thinks of voting Communist.
Ask the Dalai Lama in the hills of Tibet
How many monks did the Chinese get?

Joe Strummer, “Washington Bullets.”

He carried a shotgun–a weapon I thought was outlawed in international war–and the shotgun itself was a measure of his professionalism, for to use it effectively requires an exact blend of courage and skill and self-confidence. The weapon is neither accurate nor lethal at much over seventy yards. So it shows the skill of the carrier, a man who must work his way close enough to the prey to make a shot, close enough to see the enemy’s retina and the tone of his skin. The shotgun is not an automatic weapon. You must hit once, on the first shot, and the hit must kill.

Tim O’Brien, “If I Die in a Combat Zone.”

Other things:

Bataille Socialiste, with some wonderful 1936 photos from Paris en images. And, in French, a piece on the late, lovely Mary Low. (In English, see here, here.)

Eamonn McDonagh on the Livingstone formulation in Madrid.

Entdichlung with more from the archive (including Ernie Haberkern: The Left and Max Shachtman Part 1 AWL 1995).

Historical and archival notes

Yes, I know there are more important things going on in the world today, but here are some tidbits from the history of struggle. From the archive of struggle, no.9.

Many via Entdinlichung.

Under two dictators, Every cook can govern, and so on

Recommended:

Tendance Coatesy: Review of Under Two Dictators by Margarete Buber-Neumann.

March for Justice: CLR James’ Every Cook Can Govern

Criticism, etc: Raya Dunayevska on fascism, state capitalism and bureaucratic collectivism

From the archive of struggle, no.7

More updates from Entdinglichung:

Here are some highlights:

Projet de scannerisation de la revue Socialisme ou Barbarie:

* Socialisme ou Barbarie, No. 1, März-April 1949

Marxists Internet Archive (MIA):

* Victor Serge: The Bandits (1912)
* C.L.R. James: The Task Of Building The American Bolshevik Party (1946)
* Irwing Howe: On Comrade Johnson’s American Resolution – Or Soviets In The Sky (1946)
* Paul Mattick: Arbeitslosigkeit, Arbeitslosenfürsorge und Arbeitslosenbewegung in den Vereinigten Staaten (1936)

(more…)

Miscellany

The ghosts who refuse to die

Wonderful post by Terry Glavin on George Orwell. (And, here, the ghost of Eric Blair inhabits Will Rubbish.)

Nick Cohen on Eric Hobsbawm and the Hitler-Stalin pact.

Isaac Rubin and Paul Mattick Junior: A three part essay by PM on the financial crisis in the Brooklyn Rail (1, 2, 3), brought to us by Will. Principia Dialectica hosted the late I Rubin in London last week.

Paul Hampton on William Morris, ecology and socialism (the sixth of a series).

From the archive of struggle, no.6

Trotsky on workers’ control (posted by the AWL’s Rebbe Sean Matgamna to hold the line against The Commune and their alleged “drift towards anarchism“.)

From Entdinglichung: some early Bolshevik Max Eastman, lots of De Leon, Serge in Dutch and more.

In the new Democratiya, Susan Green of the Independent Socialist League/Workers Party from 1949 on the third camp position.