Books/Obituaries

Stuart at New Appeal to Reason posts his books of 2011. Here are some of them. Note: the numbers are messed up here, but it seems too fiddly to change. Sorry. Read the original.

  1.  John Nichols, The “S” Word: A Short History of an American Tradition…Socialism
    Nichols has written a persuasive case that socialism is as American as apple pie.  From the forgotten radical economics of founding father Thomas Paine and the utopian socialists who founded the Republican Party to Victor Berger, the socialist Congressman from Milwaukee, who opposed WWI to Michael Harrington it is a great read.
    The subtitle is a little misleading.  Nichols leaves out some important topics that even a short history should contain: the Populist movement of the 1890s and the most successful Socialist Party of the Debs era–the Oklahoma socialists, discussed brilliantly in Jim Bissett’s Agrarian Socialism in America: Marx, Jefferson, and Jesus in the Oklahoma Countryside, 1904-1920.
  2. Joe Burns, Reviving the Strike: How Working People Can Regain Power and Transform America
    Carl Finamore reviewed it on Talking Union
    a valuable contribution to resurrecting fundamental lessons from the neglected history of American labor.
    As the title suggests and as he emphasized to me, “the only way we can revive the labor movement is to revive a strike based on the traditional tactics of the labor movement.”But he doesn’t stop there. The author reviews for the reader the full range of tactics and strategy during the exciting, turbulent and often violent history of American labor.Refreshingly, he also provides critical assessments normally avoided by labor analysts of a whole series of union tactics that have grown enormously popular over the last several decades.
  3. Louisa Thomas Conscience Two Soldiers, Two Pacifists, One Family–a Test of Will and Faith in World War I Even though I’ve read two biographies of Norman Thomas, this book by Thomas’s great-granddaughter greatly added to my knowledge and appreciation of Thomas.

    Alan Riding’s review in the New York Times seems on the mark

    Louisa Thomas, who never knew her great-­grandfather, might well have chosen to write his biography as a way of meeting him. Instead, in her first book, “Conscience: Two Soldiers, Two Pacifists, One Family — A Test of Will and Faith in World War I,” she has been far more daring. In fact, the lengthy subtitle is a bit misleading. Yes, Norman and his brother Evan were pacifists and their brothers Ralph and Arthur joined the Army. And yes, Evan was jailed as a conscientious objector and Ralph was wounded in the trenches. Yet the thrust of this enthralling book lies with its title: through the experience of her forebears, Thomas examines how conscience fares when society considers it subversive.

    At issue is not Norman Thomas’s socialism: it barely enters the picture because he joined the Socialist Party only a month before the end of the war. Instead, we are shown the “making” of a socialist, formed not by Marx but by the Bible.

    Also recommended is Mark Johnson’s review and interview of Louisa Thomas on the Fellowship of Reconciliation blog.

     
  4. Bruce Watson, Freedom Summer
  5. Raymond Arsenault, Freedom Riders: 1961 and the Struggle for Racial Justice  

    Two outstanding books on critical episodes in the civil rights movement: the 1961 Freedom Rides to confront the segregation of interstate bus terminals and the 1964 Freedom Summer to register  African Americans in Mississippi.  Watson is the author of an excellent book on Sacco and Vanzetti (which I have read) and one on the 1912 Bread and Roses strike. Aresensault’s book is a long one, but there  is an abridged version and a DVD of the PBS documentary based on it.

    9.   Philip Dray, There is Power in the Union

    I bought this at the bookstore at the 2011 Netroots nation and found that it lives up to its subtitle “Epic Story of Labor in America.” It is now out in paperback.    There are other recent general  histories of US labor (Mel Dubofsky’s Labor in America: A History and Nelson Lichtenstein’s 2003 State of the Union: A Century of American Labor, A.B. Chitty’s 2002 From the Folks Who Brought You the Weekend, and the 2007 two-volume Who Built America).  They might be preferred by academics or labor studies professionals, but for the general reader, union activist, or occupier, There is Power in the Union is highly recommended.
    10. Barbara Clark Smith The Freedoms We Lost:Consent and Resistance in Revolutionary America

    This is an eye-opening study of the real-life freedoms in revolutionary America. In a post on the History News Network, Smith brings out the huge differences between today’s Tea Party and the original. If you find that post  intriguing, you might want to check out the book.

And here are two obituaries of two we lost in 2011, from Criticism etc:

Daniel Bell, 1919-2011

Now largely forgotten, Bell was once an influential intellectual and sociologist from the milieu of those who have come to be known as the New York Intellectuals. He editedThe New Leader, the organ of the right-wing of American  social democracy, during World War II and went on to receive a PhD in sociology from Columbia University. He taught for many years at Harvard. Raya Dunayevskaya often cited his The End of Ideology (1960) as the quintessence of the false intellectual representation of the official capitalist society of the age of state capitalism, while the revolts of the time, among them Hungary and the colonial world, represented the negation of that falsification of reality. Bell contributed to  the development of the school of thought of neoconservatism, so-called, (he helped launch the journal Public Interest with William Kristol), although he did not move as far to right as many of his cohort.

• • •

Lana Peters (also known as Svetlana Alliluyeva), 1926-2011

An almost ghost-like figure from another time, Stalin’s daughter lived a peripatetic life after defecting from the USSR during the early years of the Brezhnev era. She authored several memoirs, including Twenty Letters to a Friend and Only One Year. Alliluyeva’s mother was Stalin’s second wife, Nadezhda Aliluyeva, who committed suicide in 1932. Svetlana Alliluyeva married a member of the Frank Lloyd Wright-Olgivanna Wright circle, William Peters, and had a daughter with him. Although Alliluyeva had harshly criticized the USSR after her emigration, she returned there briefly in the 1980s, but once again left it behind for England and the United States. She died in Wisconsin. The New York Times obituary features several photographs, including one of her as a child in her Young Pioneers uniform.

From the archive of struggle: Rosemary Feurer’s Labor History Links

The trial of Giovannitti, Ettor, and Caruso wa...

Image via Wikipedia

What an amazing resource, found via Never Got Used To It.

A teachers’ corner, stuffed with stuff like this:

Women and Social Movements, 1820-1940 – A fabulous teaching resource, with some of it geared toward labor history–though most of it is now subscription-based only. Example: primary documents and lesson plans on women and labor, including the 1909-1910 New York shirtwaist strike,  Lawrence, Massachusetts textile strike of 1912, the 1938 Pecan Shellers strike in San Antonio, and much much more

Lawrence 1912: the Singing Strike

The Singing Strike and the Rebel Students: Learning from the Industrial Workers of the World

Southern Tenant Farmers’ Union: Black and White Unite?

Tenement Museum Lesson Plans including “teaching with objects” “doing oral history” “primary source activities” from elementary level to high school

Center for Working Class studies syllabus library- mostly not history, but great ideas here.

Steeltown USA: A Digital Library of Poetry, Images, and Documents – Another site “provides a variety of resources for secondary and college teachers who want to include attention to work and working-class studies in their courses.

A chronological page, with sections like this:

Labor Organization, Radicalism and Uprisings of the Early 20th century
WWI Era, Postwar Uprisings and Red Scare
1920s
Great Depression Era
World War II & Postwar Era

and timelines like these:

Today in labor history from Union Communication Services
Labor Heritage Foundation timeline
AFL-CIO Timeline of Labor History
An Eclectic List of Events in U.S. Labor History
Samuel Gompers Papers Timeline 1850-1924

Biographies, of folks like Rose Schneiderman:

Places, mainly in the US, but also Latin America.

And a lot more besides. Go feast.

From the archive of struggle

And for our regular round-up, last week saw a bumper crop from Entdinglichung. Below the fold. (more…)

Poumatica

Debs Poster USA 1904

Image via Wikipedia

“Stalin proclaims the happiness of the people, distributes decorations, photographs, watches, with both hands and has his picture taken kissing little girls of all the old races of Asia….The widows of dead aviators thank him, the entire press is nothing but praises for the “beloved leader”, “the wisest and greatest of all ages”…Everything revolves around the new Imperator cult. And never will the paean of praise attain a higher pitch of exaltation than the day after the leader has massacred his oldest comrades in struggle, the men who had worked with Lenin.” (’From Lenin To Stalin’, Monad Press, New York,1973, p.82. Via Des Derwin)

The past in the present

*Paul Mason: Interviewing Karl Marx on the economic crisis.

*Orwell’s Indian birthplace has been declared a protected site. (See here for background.)

*Christopher Hitchens: A nice cup of tea. (See also Freemania: “Tea, like modesty, irony and imperialism, is something that we Brits understand far better than Americans do (indeed, we have our imperialism to thank for our tea expertise). Perhaps the USA would benefit from the establishment of a Campaign for Real Tea, to promote this simple, vital but apparently not self-evident truth.”)

*Victor Serge: Tunisia, A Restless Winter Walk. Beautiful.

*CLR James: Haiti: The Black Jacobins

*David Rosenberg: ‘The Battle of Cable Street’ – 75 years on

*Louis Proyect: Rethinking the question of a revolutionary program (love the photo illustrating the post)

*Carl Packman: Internal bickering versus “whistling in the dark” (citing Paul Mattick); The Independent Labour Party and the scourge of left wing politicsA reply to Jim Jepps.

*Paddington: We want our teachers back!

*Tony PinkneyMasters of the universe: Paul Lafargue on the present banksters’ crisis.

*Luisa Passerini, Lance Thurner: Memory, history, and activism on the Mexican border:

*Andrew Stone: the state of history teaching in British schools today in the latest issue of International Socialism journal. [H/t Snowball]

*The Resolute Reader: Karl Kautsky’s The Agrarian Question

*Owen Hatherley; Why have you come to Murmansk?

*American Leftist: Anarchism in the city; Serge’s Unforgiving years.

*Sasha Abramsky: A house of books (on Chimen Abramsky)

*David Osler: The right to sell socialist newspapers (“have no time for the RCG’s peculiar brand of nutty semi-Stalinist third worldist ultraleftism. But this development will surely worry everybody who has ever stood outside a shopping centre or an industrial workplace trying to flog revolutionary socialist agitprop.”)

*River’s edge: “If you want a picture of the future, imagine an Armani stiletto, stamping on a human face, forever.”

*Kellie Strom: A stain on a wall: Erich Kastner in Tunisia.

*Jim Denham: Police spies in our midst.

*Histomatist: Journalists and Revolution: The Case of Arthur Ransome

From the archive of struggle (more…)

Published in: on January 19, 2011 at 3:14 pm  Comments (2)  
Tags: , , , , , ,

Jews versus Stalinists in the Spanish Civil War

In the last three decades, since the publication of Albert Prago’s Jews in the international brigades in Spain in 1979 by Jewish Currents, there has been considerable interest in the massive role of Jewish fighters in the Spanish civil war. Most of them were within the orbit of the official Communist movement, which controlled and dominated the International Brigades – and also the narration of its later history.  As Gerben Zaagsma and Martin Sugarman argue, the Stalinist version of that history obscured the specifically Jewish dimension to their motivations. This Jewish dimension was retrieved in the 1970s and 1980s by Jewish radical groups like Jewish Currents in the US and Jewish Socialist in the UK. However, their important commemorative work tends to focus on the Communists of the International Brigades. Lenni  Brenner’s polemic Zionism in the Age of Dictators approached the issue from a different angle: showing that the Zionist movement had no interest in anti-fascism in Spain. However, although he also provides some interesting exceptions, his emphasis confirms the Stalinist historiography in marginalising the specifically Jewish motivations and the non-Stalinist participants.

In this blog post, I want to simply mention some of the Jewish participants in the Spanish Civil War who were also part of the anti-Stalinist movement, and specifically participants who were associated with the “Three and a Half International”, the anti-Stalinist socialist international that also included the Spanish POUM and the British ILP. The information is taken from Martin Sugarman, of AJEX, Association of Jewish Ex-Servicemen and Women, and his booklet Against Fascism. I have added hyperlinks. Material in italics comes from other sources, as given at the end of the extracts. (more…)

One more for Franklin

I think I missed this one:

Franklin Rosemont In Memoriam – 1943-2009 Friends of Franklin

From Area Chicago: Everybody’s Got Money Issues

Previous obituaries: here, here, here.

More Chicago radical local history from Area Chicago No.7 68/08: