Poumastica

In the Atlantic:  The Lawyer Who Told FDR He Couldn’t Censor a Trotsky Speech.

From Howie’s Corner:  Why do they call themselves “Socialist” Unity? / Martin Smiths “confidential resignation” / Is the Socialist Party heading for a split? / The “forgotten” Socialist Party (of Great Britain)..

From the archive of struggle, no.78

I have recently discovered Monoskop Log. Here are some treasures from it:

*Zenit, International Review of Arts and Culture, No. 1-43 (1921-26) [SH/FR/DE/RU]

*Graham Roberts: The Last Soviet Avant-Garde: OBERIU – Fact, Fiction, Metafiction (1997)

*Mary Gabriel: Love and Capital: Karl and Jenny Marx and the Birth of a Revolution (2011)

*Peter Linebaugh: Ned Ludd and Queen Mab: Machine-Breaking, Romanticism, and the Several Commons Of 1811-12 (2012)

*Marcel Duchamp: The Afternoon Interviews (2013)

And from a similar site, UbuWeb:

*Man Ray (1945-1998): Les Mystères du château de Dé (1929) / Emak Bakia (1926)  / Le Retour à la raison (1923)  / L’Étoile de mer (1928)  / Home Movies (1923-1937)  / Home Movies (1938) / The Bazaar Years (1990, documentary)

*Klaus Kinski Singt Und Spricht Berthold Brecht:

  1. Und Was Bekam Des Soldaten Weib? 6:16
  2. Der Anstreicher Spricht Von Kommenden Grossen Zeiten (Intro) 0:56
  3. Der Barbara-Song Oder Die Ballade Vom Nein Und Ja 10:58
  4. O Du Falada, Da Du Hangest… 7:06
  5. Ballade Vom Weib Und Dem Soldaten 6:17
  6. An Die Nachgeborenen 6:39
  7. Kinderkreuzzug 1939 14:05
  8. An Meine Landsleute 3:50
  9. Vier Aufforderungen An Einen Mann Von Verschiedener Seite Zu Verschiedenen Zeiten 1:36
  10. Vom Sprengen Des Gartens 0:54

In the Marxist Internet Archive:

*Added to the Andreas Nin ArchiveFinal Declaration to the Police 21st June 1937

*Added to the Grace Lee Boggs Archive in the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL)The Chinese Sailors “Mutiny” (as Ria Stone) (1942) / “March on Washington” Movement Stirs Again (as Ria Stone) (1942) / Negroes, March on Washington! (as Ria Stone) (1942)

*Added to the Irving Howe Archive in the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL)Labor Action Replies to Christian Science Monitor (1942) / The Saturday Evening Post Slanders the Jewish People (1942) / Labor Action Answers California Eagle Attack (1942) / Stalinists Defend War Profiteers! (1942) / Jim Crow – Who Will Win the New Orleans Race? (1942)

*Added to the Hugo Oehler Archive in the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL)The Negro and the Class Struggle (series) (1932) / The S.P. “Lefts’” Program (1932) / The Slogan of the Defense of the U.S.S.R. (1932)

And here’s a sample of new material added to the wonderful Early American Marxism website: (more…)

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…)

Poumnation

Totally random edition.

Martin on the demise of one of my favourite bloggers, On a Raised Beach, and on the passing of Portuguese Stalinist novelist Jose Saramago. Here’s Irving Howe and Benjamin Kunkel on Saramago from the archives of Dissent.

Gathering Forces: State Capitalism and the Break with Trotskyism (on the Johnson-Forest Tendency in 1950).

Marko Hoare on the Miliband brothers and the New Left Review – a little insight into the aristocracy of the new left from the son of  a key British Marxist and an ex-member of Labour Party Young Socialists. Harry Barnes has a different view, and calls for more Ralphism (also at Next Left).

The World Cup and the Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo.

Le Chant des partisans: Coatesy’s homage to the Free French.

Nick Cohen  – homage to Pilar Rohala, a Catalan socialist anti-Islamist.

Interview with José Antonio Gutiérrez, Chilean platformist anarchist in exile (via At Home).

On French Stalinism yesterday and today.

Hugo Chavez revives the Doctors’ Plot.

James Connolly and John Ford.

Gramsci, class formation and class politics. (more…)

Leon Trotsky drinking Mexican coffee

Robert Service on Trotsky again: Service was on the weekend’s The Forum on the BBC World Service. The Service bit starts at 27 minutes. I don’t like Service’s analysis, although he is partly right. Service is right about Trotsky’s personality: cold, prim, glacial, disdainful, arrogant, self-centred. But Service basically says Trotsky and Stalin are “blood brothers”, that Trotsky was as ruthless as Stalin, who in turn was as much a “man of ideas” as Trotsky. This is surely not right, despite Trotsky’s faults. However, Service is right that Trotsky would have suppressed the peasants to achieve industrialisation, less brutally than Stalin but nonetheless harshly.

One interesting point Service makes is that other Russian exiles were making similar analyses of Soviet Russia, and have been forgotten. (He doesn’t name names, but Victor Serge, Ante Ciliga, Boris Souvarine, Voline, the exiled Mensheviks André Liebich writes about in From the Other Shore, and so on.) Service suggests that it was because Trotsky was a great writer and subsequently a great martyr that he became so important. I think this is true, but the third factor, both Trotsky’s strength and his flaw, his hubris perhaps, was that he was a great factionalist, with a sense of himself as a leader of a movement, something that was untrue of the other, more modest key figures of the anti-Stalinist left. Anyway, I still prefer Hitchens’ version. Lots more here.

***

Heroes: Josef Frantisek. Marek Edelman, Steve Cohen and Mercedes Sosa. John Saville. Bongani Mkhungo.

Villains: Nat Hentoff.

George Orwell: His lessons for combating antisemitism today.

Histories: The Communist Party in the French resistance. New York elections: from honourable Jewish socialists to odious Marxoid cults. The end of the left’s Cuba romance? The state of Bund historiography [pdf]. The Labour Party and the Battle of Cable Street.

Book reviews: Platypus on Communist Chicago. Colin Waugh’s Plebs. Geoffrey Foote on Paul Flewers’ New Civilisation. Andrew Coates on Flewers and two other books on Communism.

Interviews: Nick Cohen in Black Flag.

The Kaminski affair: Bob has a good round-up (scroll to “Strange alliances”).

Marxist theory: Louis Proyect on John Molyneux on party democracy. Playtpus on Karl Korsch. David Black (Hobgoblin London) on philosophy and revolution.

Un-Marxist theory: Irving Howe “Class and sociology” 1957, plus replies by Lewis Coser and Dennis Wrong.

If sharks were people: From Brecht’s Tales from the Calendar.

Consumerism: Buy Zapatatista coffee! And buy the new edition of Zapata of Mexico. And buy The Workers’ Next Step. And The Insurrectionists by Bill Fishman.

Intellectuals

Leon Trotsky and the annihilation of classical Marxism. A Tomb for Boris Davidovich by Danilo Kiš. Generations – Partisans. The Twilight of the intellectuals. Pilgrim of doubt. Remembering Irving Kristol: Lexington Green, Robert Kagan, J Podheretz, Joe Leiberman, Alan Wolfe, and in his own words. [Added: more from TNC and But I Am.]  A nation of commentators. Frankfurt on the Hudson.

partisan_review_193805

Two interesting people

Marie Syrkin:

Marie Syrkin’s life spanned ninety years of the twentieth century, 1899–1989. As a polemical journalist, socialist Zionist, poet, educator, literary critic, translator, and idiosyncratic feminist, she was eyewitness to and reporter on most of the major events in America, Israel, and Europe. Beautiful as well as brilliant, she had a rich personal life as lover, wife, mother, and friend. During her lifetime Syrkin’s name was widely recognized in the world of Jewish life and letters. Yet, inevitably, since her death, recognition of her name is no longer quite so immediate…

Syrkin was born in Switzerland, the only child of the theoretician of socialist Zionism Nachman Syrkin and Bassya Osnos Syrkin, a feminist socialist Zionist. Following short stints in several European countries, the family immigrated to the United States in 1909…After her first trip to Palestine in 1933, Syrkin joined the staff of the Jewish Frontier. This began her lifelong contribution to Zionism, Jewish life, and responsible journalism…

In the course of her life, Marie had many influential friends, such as Hayim Greenberg, Ben Gurion, and Irving Howe, and she served as inspiration to many younger intellectuals, including Martin Peretz, Michael Walzer, and Leon Wieseltier.

As poet and journalist, Zionist activist and public intellectual, Syrkin’s work and actions illuminate a wide range of twentieth-century literary, cultural, and political concerns. Her passions demonstrate, as Irving Howe said, “a life of commitment to values beyond the self.”

The young Noam Chomsky:

Deeply influenced by what he was reading and by the discussions he was having with a host of new acquaintances, Chomsky was moving more and more in the direction of anarchism and away from Marxism. Otero notes that since a number of his relatives were on the fringes of the Communist Party, the young Chomsky did develop interests related to Marxism, “but by the time he was twelve or thirteen he had already `worked out of that phase’” (”Chomsky and the Libertarian Tradition” 4). So, during his visits to New York, Chomsky also frequented the office of Freie Arbeiter Stimme, an anarchist journal with notable contributors, such as Rudolf Rocker…

Chomsky was reading other anarchist material by, for example, Diego Abad de Santillán, who, a few months before the onset of the Spanish Civil War (in March of 1936), wrote a book that was partially translated and republished as After the Revolution. During this period Chomsky also read works by left Marxists (non-Bolshevik Marxists), including Karl Liebknecht, Rosa Luxemburg, and Karl Korsch. Korsch’s work was an important source of inspiration for some of the more theoretically oriented Marxist thinkers who, in turn, exerted various degrees of influence upon Chomsky. In fact, Chomsky claims that Korsch was a Spanish-anarchosyndicalist-movement sympathizer, suggesting that a broad camp of left-thinking individuals found much that was worthwhile in the Spanish anarchist actions: “Marxism also covers a pretty broad spectrum and there is a point at which some varieties of anarchism and some varieties of Marxism come very close together, as for example, people like Karl Korsch, who was very sympathetic to the Spanish anarchist movement, though he himself was sort of an orthodox Marxist” (Language and Politics 168). [More here on his kibbutz experiences.]

Published in: on July 4, 2009 at 4:17 pm  Comments (2)  
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