From the archive of struggle no.76: Poumism and Shachtmanism

Up to January 2013 now with new additions to the extraordinary Marxist Internet Archive. Obviously, the first thing here is of most interest to me.

La Verite

Added to the archive of the Partido Obrero de Unificación Marxista/Workers Party of Marxist Unification a section of the Spanish Revolution History Archive is the complete run of the POUM’s English Language publication edited in Barcelona by American revolutionary socialists Lois and Charles Orr: The Spanish Revolution.

Spanish Revolution was the English language publication of the P.O.U.M. Edited by Lois and Charles Orr. In 1936 they had setup within the ranks of the Socialist Party of America the Revolutionary Policy Committee of the Socialist Party of the U.S. While the P.O.U.M. itself was never Trotskyist, many in the ranks of Trotskyism, and those near it politically, supported the publication.

Russell Blackwell, who was in Spain as a supporter of the P.O.U.M wrote, 30 years later for the Greenwood Reprints of The Spanish Revolution, the following:

Spanish Revolution faithfully reported events during its period of publication from the point of view of the P.O.U.M. Its first issue appeared on October 21, 1936, at a time when the revolutionary process was already beginning to decline. Its final issues dealt with the historic May Days of 1937 and the events immediately following, which led to the Stalinist takeover.

These 28 issues of The Spanish Revolution  were digitized by Marty Goodman of the Riazanov Library Project

They are all digitised as whole pdfs for each issue.

Other stuff: (more…)

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From the archive of struggle no.75: anti-Stalinist Leninism in the 1930s (MIA special)

It’s months now since I’ve looked through the Marxist Internet Archive. Since I’ve last been there, loads of really good stuff is up. The below is just from November and December last year, and it covers a period from ca.1930 to ca.1940 which was pivotal in the development of the anti-Stalinist left.

The material here focuses on three overlapping currents in this anti-Stalinist left. The first is the POUM, the Spanish party whose name this blog’s is taken from, who fused the “left” and “right” opposition in Spain to the official Stalinist Communist party, to form a democratic mass movement of radical socialism, before being liquidated by the Stalinists in during the Spanish Civil War.

The second is the Trotskyist movement, Communism’s “left” opposition. While Trotsky supplied much of the intellectual justification for Stalin’s brutal misrule in the Soviet Union, his sharp critique of the degeneration of the Stalinist state made him a criminal in the dictatorship. His followers have formed one of the main planks of anti-Stalinist socialism globally. The material below focuses mainly on American Trotskyists, but particularly those who developed beyond the rigid and damaging orthodoxies of “official” Trotskyism.

Parallel to Trotsky’s Left Opposition, the Right Opposition called for a more democratic path to socialism, and was bitterly excluded from the Communist movement. Unlike Trotksyism, it leaves little organisational trace today, and so its history remains more deeply buried.

In the period from 1930 to 1940, these currents moved from composing a dissatisfied internal dissident streak within Stalinism, to a fully developed critical analysis of Stalinism. From 1940 to 1950, they several different interesting directions forward, some positively, others less so. Between them (along with anarchist, democratic socialist and left communist currents not represented here), they constitute a significant part of the heritage of anti-Stalinism that continues to be relevant to thinking about the task of reforging a radical movement today.

The POUM

Added to the Spanish-language Archivo Andreu Nin and English-language Andrés Nin Archive:

The Catalan Andreu (or Andres in Spanish) Nin i Pérez was a left dissident in the Communist Party, forming a left opposition group Communist Left of Spain (ICE), which merged with the Right Opposition party Bloque Obrero y Campesino, to form the Workers’ Party of Marxist Unification (POUM) in 1935.

Added to the new Julián Gorkin Archive in the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL): (more…)

From the archive of struggle no.69: Emma Goldman, anti-fascism, etc

Most important link today is an apparently previously unpublished text by Emma Goldman on “The political Soviet grinding machine“, written in Barcelona in 1936.

I’ve only recently noticed the newish website Anti-Fascist Archive, which mainly has material from the history of British militant anti-fascism. Here’s a recent weekly update to give you an idea of what’s there:

Most relevant to this blog, I guess, is the pre-war stuff, so here’s a taster.

img074 img075 img076 img077img072 img073

The Two-Gun Mutualist site has been updating its translations. Among the updated are: “Nihilism” by Voline (ca.1929); Joseph Déjacque,Authority—Dictatorship (Down with the Bosses!) and Exchange; Henri Rochefort, letter on Louise Michel; Han Ryner, from “The Congress of Poets” and “The Revolt of the Machines“.

There’s lost more from the radical archive at Entdinglichungmainly in French but also including Rare texts by the Situationist International 1966-1972 and Nestor Machno’s The Anarchist Revolution (192?).

Below the fold, what’s new at the Marxist Internet Archive: (more…)

From the archive of struggle; new at MIA

Some texts newly up at the Marxist Internet Archive. (more…)

On this day: 22 June 1937 – Andres Nin murdered

I read this post from Rustbelt Radical last year, a few months after it was posted, and it moved me greatly. Rather than link to it then, I thought it would be good to save it for the anniversary this year. It is Victor Serge’s tribute to a great man and his indictment of Stalinism.

A Spanish Spectre

andreu NIN y Solano

The memory of Stalinism in the collective mind is often focused on the gray tower bloc and the gulag, on the cult of personality and the official lie.  Stalinism’s perfidy was not limited, however, to razor wire on the Siberian steppe or to the assassination chamber of a spattered Moscow basement.  On this day in 1937 in the midst of the Spanish Civil War Andrès Nin, a leading member of the Workers Party of Marxist Unity (POUM), was murdered by Stalinists.

Stalinism’s raison d’être, like all bureaucracies, was the defense of itself and the greatest threat to it came from the working class it claimed to lead.  Perhaps nowhere was that threat greater than in the Spain of the 1930s.  Nin was a partisan of workers’ power, of workers’ democracy- ideas fatal to Stalinism.  He was murdered along with thousands of others in the name of “anti-fascist unity”; that is unity between the Stalinists and the ghosts of the liberal Spanish bourgeoisie.  The fascists won and ruled Spain for the next 40 years.  Never forgive, never forget.

poum copia (more…)

From the archive of struggle no.45

In my last post in this series, I did not include anything from the Marxist Internet Archive, which has had a huge amount of interesting material added to it since I last looked. You’ll find a selection below the fold, but first some other archival links.

Via Espace contre ciment, I have found a few sites I don’t think I’ve seen before, which I have or am adding to the blogroll.

Barataria: Situationism in French from Belgium. Recently added: some picture of the Mexican revolution: Exécution d’un officier fédéral; Barricade; Armes saisies aux troupes fédérales; American Insurrectos.

Patlotch! Free texts, regularly added to, mostly French.

Les Gimenologues: On some partisans of the Spanish war, mainly in French. Recent books include:

JPEG - 56.3 ko JPEG - 31.6 ko

If Charlie Parker Was a Gunslinger,There’d Be a Whole Lot of Dead Copycats: Extraordinary blog, trawling through the visual detritus of American modernity. Here are some fragments:

They Were Collaborators #634


Kurt Weill and Ira Gershwin

Seminal Image #994


La Mort en ce jardin
(Death in the Garden)
(Luis Buñuel; 1956)

This Sporting Life #16


Jesse Owens lands the Gold Medal in the long jump at the 1936 Berlin Olympics.

Ofenschlot: A German language blog which excavates the web for texts which help to explode capitalism. For English-speaking readers, this post links through to a pdf of a 1980 Marxism Today review of the important but neglected marxist economic theorist Bob Rowthorn.

From the Marxist Internet Archive: (more…)

Hall of Fame

Following on from this, read this:

Coatesy’s Hall of Leftist Fame (and Honour).

Within its Shade We’ll Live…..

The Morning Star (see below) has published a list of 10 Leftists who never sold out.

There are surely better candidates than many of theirs.

We accept that they should be twentieth and twenty-first century figures (otherwise we could go back to Ur).

However, the rules should be a bit laxer than the Star’s. They  concentrate exclusively on Office Holders. Having a degree of political or social power and influence should be the major criterion. In any kind of politics (from Cabinets to movements). This would mean no pure academics or theorists. But would embrace a wide swathe of those who’ve helped shaped the world for the better. Without them necessarily having been in charge of government.

Here are some suggestions.

  • Rosa Luxemberg. Three things stand out. Her utterly uncompromising defence of democratic freedom – against all comers. Her activism on behalf of  the power and ability of ordinary people to organise and decide for themselves.  And Rosa’s brilliant contribution to Marxist theory. Murdered by Fascist Freikörps backed by German Social Democrats. Our greatest Martyr.
  • Jean Jaurès. A founding democratic socialist Jaurès combined ethical idealism, French republicanism, internationalism, and undogmatic Marxism. In 1914 shot by nationalist. Paid for his anti-war campaigning with his life.
  • Andrés Nin. Leading figure in the Spanish POUM. Independent  Marxist  and anti-Fascist fighter, defender of  the Republican cause.  Tortured to death under the supervision of Stalin’s NKVD.
  • Antonio Gramsci. Leader of young Italian Communist Party. Imprisoned by Mussolini until his death. Active supporter of workers’ councils, and theorist of hegemony.
  • Emma Goldman. For her love of life, her free spirit, and her contribution to the cause of liberation. Loathed by bullies:  from the USA’s plutocrats  to the bureaucrats of Soviet Russia.

Now for some more recent people.

  • Michalis N. Raptis (’Pablo’). Innovative Marxist who developed out of Trotskyism into a backer of self-management. participated actively in the Algerian Revolution, and backed Thrid World Causes before this became fashionable.
  • Alain Krivine. The living embodiment of the best in European Marxist activism.
  • Evo Morales. A real Latin American leftist leader. From his work in the Indian communities of Bolivia to the mines and urban centres, Morales is a democrat and a socialist who’s got his feet on the ground. Not his head wrapped  in self-promotion and glorious deeds.
  • Aimé Césaire. Poets are the ‘unacknowledged legislatures of the world’. One of the greatest, he helped bring ”Third-world’ culture to the World at large.
Be sure to read the comments thread too, with various suggestions for no.10, including Henk Sneevliet or José Carlos Mariátegui from entdinglichungJim Larkin from modernity, and these from bob:

Died prematurely, but not too young to have turned down the chance to sell out:
* Rosa Luxembourg
* Andreu Nin
* Jean Juares

Lived plenty long enough for us to be sure about them:
* CLR James
* William Morris
* Rudolf Rocker and Millie Witkop
* Daniel Guerin
* Emma Goldman (actually got much better with age)
* Pierre Bourdieu

Might be too early to tell:
* Evo Morales


Published in: on October 2, 2009 at 9:01 am  Leave a Comment  
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Poumerouma

The libertarian socialist tradition

New blog: Big Flame, on the history of this UK radical group of the 1970s.

Why Philosophy? Why Now? On the Revolutionary Legacies of Raya Dunayevskaya, CLR James and Anton Pannekoek, By David Black at The Hobgoblin

Andre Gorz, or the Ecological Demand, by Serge Audier at Principia Dialectica.

Anarchist Studies: Perspective 2009. On the legacy of Murray Bookchin.

Poster art, folk song and historical memory

More from BCNDesign: The everyday comes to Santa Coloma: Local things for local history. Graphic design in 1930s Spain.

History Today: The Mexican suitcase. British volunteers and Republican posters.

Rio Wang: Russian poster design and the war on coca-cola. Carlos Gordel and the zorzal.

George Szirtes: Fado da Tristeza.

Polish gentile, Jan Jagielski, chief archivist at the Emanuel Ringelblum Jewish Historical Institute in Warsaw, to receive the Irena Sendler Memorial Award from the Taube Foundation for Jewish Life and Culture.

The extraordinary anti-Nazi photo-montages of John Heartfield.

Scoop Review of Books: Kiwi Compañeros: NZ’s anti-Franco volunteers. See more in TNC‘s comment here. Which led me to these two great older posts: Fieldtrip to the International Center for Photography (Robert Capa, Gerda Taro, Francesc Torres and poster art). ¿Viva la Insurgencía?: The Spanish Civil War and the Legacy of the Totalitarian International Brigades. There’s plenty more TNC posts on memory and archives and on Communism.

Watch Land and Freedom at A Complex System of Pipes.

From the archive of struggle, no.14 (below the fold) (more…)