All The Right Enemies

From Slack Bastard:

The death of Grods has brought new life to the blogosphere, and A Fresh Start in August. I’d tell Bron to cheer up but the definition of a pessimist is someone who hasn’t yet heard the bad news. Instead, I’ll simply refer to the title of Dorothy Gallagher’s biography of Carlo Tresca: All the Right Enemies.

Often described as a “freelance revolutionary,” Carlo Tresca (1879-1943) was one of the most compelling and colorful figures of the American left prior to World War II. A newspaper editor, labor organizer, civil libertarian, anarchist, anti-Fascist and anti-Stalinist, Tresca had absorbed his fiery socialist principles and had been active as a trade-unionist and editor in his native Abruzzi before immigrating to the United States in 1904.

After joining the International Workers of the World (IWW) in 1912, Tresca was involved in a number of strikes, including the Lawrence, Massachusetts textile strike (1912), the New York City hotel workers’ strike (1913), the Paterson silk strike (1913), and the Mesabi Range, Minnesota, miners’ strike (1916). He edited a newspaper called L’Avvenire (The Future), first in Pennsylvania and, from 1913, in New York City. Its successor, from 1917, was Il Martello (The Hammer). Tresca’s uncompromising anarcho-syndicalist views resulted in frequent clashes with local and federal authorities, and repeated confiscation of his publications.

He devoted considerable energy to campaigning on behalf of Sacco and Vanzetti in the 1920s and also became preoccupied with the struggle against fascism. Pursued by the U. S. government at the behest of the Mussolini regime, he survived several assassination attempts by fascist supporters. The Spanish Civil War intensified his anti-Communist activity and propaganda, earning him more enemies on the American left.

On the evening of January 11, 1943, Tresca was shot to death on the sidewalk in front of his office at Fifth Avenue and 15th Street. Over the years there has been a lively debate about which of Tresca’s many enemies might have been behind the murder. His murder was never prosecuted.

In the same post, Slack Bastard notes:

Poumista, as ever, offers a truly superb neat-o experience dining on radical history… although Poumista’s blogroll suffers from one, rather obvious, lapse.

I’ll correct that ommission when I finish this post.

Also in the same post, this link:

ZAPAGRINGO is a blog by RJ Maccani, who sounds like a righteous d00d. His (?) blog documents the continuing relevance and global effects of the Zapatista uprising of 1994, a revolt by some of the poorest, most oppressed sectors of Mexican society, whose struggles continue and whose determination continues to inspire creative resistance everywhere.

Finally, a great Billy Bragg and Wilco YouTube: Woody Guthrie’s ‘Aginst Th’ Law’ from Mermaid Avenue Volume II.

Talking of Woody, here’s a snippet from a communist blog:

I am a communist. According to a number of talking heads and a handful of vocal rightist mobs, I should be ecstatic. After all, they say a bona fide socialist is sitting in the White House at this very moment! But skewed politics and fear mongering aside, the reality is that Obama is as far from socialism as I am from George Bush.

Socialism is born out of proletarian revolution, in which the working masses rise up and take control of the tools and technology they use for making and distributing the things people want and need. In the process of democratizing production and reorganizing it to meet human need, the working class does away with the very basis for the existence of classes. This opens the door to the establishment of communism, a worldwide, classless society in which all affairs are administered in common. This is what was advocated as historic necessity by people like Albert Einstein, Woody Guthrie, Jack London, Harry Belafonte, Stephen Jay Gould and Karl Marx.

Read the rest. It’s relevant to this.

Sorry, I said finally, but this Slackster post on ex-Sojourner Truth Organization cadre Leonard Zeskin is kind of relevant to our topic.

Advertisements

Drawing clear lines

Today’s battles

1. The Popular Front has been one of the great dead ends of the socialist movement. Today, a terrible version of it has emerged in the NO2EU electoral front in the UK, an alliance of Stalinists and Stalinoid trade union hacks with the most reactionary Little Englanders, with a smattering of anorak left groupuscules to give it some hard left legitimacy. Reminiscent of some of the dangerous alliances created by the Communist Party of Great Britain in the 1930s, when they allied with reactionary war-mongerers simply because they were anti-Nazi.  Yourfriendinthenorth neatly analyzes No2Eu here.

2. Historically, the flipside to the “anti-Nazi” Popular Front was (objectively pro-Nazi) pacifism. The argument for pacifism has recently been made by Nicholson Baker in Human Smoke. As mentioned already, Max Dunbar has been taking up the metaphorical cudgels against Baker (here, then here and then here). Terry Glavin has taken note:

I’m happy to see that Max Dunbar has now joined Anne Applebaum, William Grimes, Adam Kirsch and others in helpfully rubbishing Nicholson Baker’s Human Smoke for being an ahistorical apologia for pacifism. Baker’s efforts at redeeming pacifism’s ill-deserved reputation in the context of the Second World War appear to follow exactly the same lines as Mark Kurlansky’s Nonviolence: Twenty-Five Lessons from the History of a Dangerous Idea, which I was happy to rubbish a while back.

George Orwell was there, of course, long before us, when he noticed that pacifism is “a bourgeois illusion bred of money and security.” Will I still be able to refer approvingly to Orwell’s many expressions of contempt for the bourgeoisie if the Liberal Party proceeds with granting the CHRC its greater powers?

You have to read the whole post for that last sentence to make sense, so please do.

3. The pacifist tradition that Baker and Kurlansky inherit is not an ignoble tradition. In the UK, its home was, for many decades, the Independent Labour Party. I have a lot of respect for the ILP and its heritage. Ken Coates is the contemporary figure who probably most represents the political tradition of the ILP. Over the years I’ve been influenced considerably by Ken Coates, his humanist socialism, his advocacy for workers’ control, his sense of industrial democracy as an extension of the republican liberties fought for by the likes of Tom Paine. However, in his little magazine, The Spokesman, I have long noted an unpleasant drift towards sloppy conspirationist thought, anti-American hysteria, a “New World Order” mentality. Habibi at Harry’s Place nails this trend, and shows how it spills over into very unpleasant antisemitic territory.

After the fold: Historical Notes, From the Archive of Struggle, Book notes, Blog notes. (more…)