From the Archive of Struggle no.83: Workers Liberty special

A participant’s account of the Norwegian General Strike against the occupying Nazis. From Norwegian Worker / Labor Action.
This assessment of Richard Wright, the great black American Communist, author of “Black Boy”, and “Native Son”, appeared in the New International, late in 1941, as a review of “Bright and Morning Star”. By James M. Fenwick.
This fine declaration of faith, principles and motives for socialist action was made by the great American Marxist James P Cannon as he and 15 others prepared to go to jail for their political activities.

Tasks of Communist Education (1923)

An article by Leon Trotsky, first published in a publication of the pre-Stalinist Communist Party of Great Britain.
 Maybe the first big classical-Marxist statement on imperialism was by Karl Kautsky, in 1899, replying to Eduard Bernstein’s call for a “revision” of the perspective of Marx and Engels.
***
The Archive of Struggle, previous editions:

(more…)

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…)

Poumelated

First, an endorsement for TC’s “blogging notes”:


Famous Bloggers.

While waiting for the results of this morning’s start of the  French Day of Action against Pension Reform here are some long overdue Blogging Notes.

Phil, the Very Public Sociologist (whose site covers with verve Theory, Politics and grass-roots activity) observed a few months back that many left Bloggers had got the taste from their time on the UK Left Network Yahoo list. The hard-fought wars played out on this forum have no doubt shaped us. Some predicted that Blogging would mean we ended up ploughing our own course, with ever-decreasing contact with reality. Has this happened? It is interesting that many of these Blogs successfully integrate activism, writing immediate posts, and articles for the socialist press.

Amongst those which are always of interest are: Organised Rage – Mick covers of a wide range of issues, particularly Irish ones, and his obituaries of labour movement figures – the latter of great value. Harpy Marx writes of her London activism, with film reviews and wonderful photos. Her in-depth knowledge of welfare makes her a leader in the field. Stroppy, a collective Blog, is entertaining with a direct insight into the doings of the London RMT. Marashajane in Union Futures integrates her work as a member of the Labour Representation Committee with East London left union and Labour politics. Anna Chen produces a professional Blog with wit. Her defence of China is carried  further by Socialist UnityDave’s Part, Dave Osler’s Blog, manages to directly address the kind of political issues a wider public talks about. Dolphinarium swims on, in-between month-long glasses of wine.

Harry’s Place – whose founder believe or not originated on UKLN – has defended Israel more and more vociferously. Its Ezraitist phase, fighting the Cold War by re-heating Google left-overs, overshadows its continuing useful role as an exposer of Islamism and its apologists.

Other Blogs worth noting: Shiraz Socialist – for its against-the-grain attacks and good sense about Islamism. Rosie Bell, raising the cultural tone. Bob From Brockley offers an indispensable round-up of left Blogging, and recently wrote a superb history of the RCP/Living MarxismPoumista covers with rigour the kind of left the Tendance comes from. The Spanish Prisoner does great film reviews, and – a real source of new information – explains life on the Dole as an American leftist. Entdinglichung covers such a range of European leftist news, history and theory, that one wonders how he manages it. Beyond the Transition is essential reading on the former Eastern Bloc.

“Her defence of China is carried  further by Socialist Unity.” Carried a little too far in my view!

Also, a doff of the hat to Kellie, for History by Radio, with lots of wonderful radio and history links, including these:

I’ve also been revisiting the How We Got Here history podcast from PRI’s The World. From August, Jeb Sharp interviews film maker Yael Hersonski on her documentary A Film Unfinished, an investigation into the making of Nazi propaganda footage of the Warsaw Ghetto from 1942. More on the project from Bloomberg.

_

More recently from The World, yesterday in fact, Lisa Mullins interviews Cuban artist Inverna Lockpez on her experiences in joining Castro’s revolution, and how she became a casualty of the revolution. Comic artist Dean Haspiel has drawn an adaptation of her story, Cuba, My Revolution. His account of the project is here, and there’s an exhibition of art from the book currently at the Kentler International Drawing Space, Brooklyn. Inverna Lockpez’s own art is here. In the later part of the interview, she talks about coming to the US in the ’60s, still a liberal, but experiencing a difference with fellow artists of the American left:

…I could not talk about Fidel with my friends, with my artist friends, because they adore him, and they adore Che […] Che Guevara is an idol for so many individuals, and they don’t know who Che was really, and after fifty one years people are still looking at Fidel like the saviour, the one that has stood against the Americans.

Finally, from the afore-mentioned Shiraz Socialist, the great Jim Denham channelling James Cannon again, this time on the miracle that is the rescue of the Chilean miners. Jim has single-handedly made me reconsider by very negative views of Cannon, views accumulated as a disciple of Al Richardson and Sam Bornstein.

From the archive of struggle no.38: YIVO special feature

Today’s feature archive is YIVO. Founded in 1925 in Vilna as the Yiddish Scientific Institute, YIVO was the national research institute and archive of Yiddishland. Salvaged from the ruins of European Jewry in 1940, YIVO was re-founded in New York, where it now as an excellent archival collection, and some cool digital collections.

Here are some of the extraordinary materials you will find. Click on the objects to see them in their contexts.

When these streets heard Yiddish:


Bek, a Yiddish translation of The Call of the Wild by Jack London, published by the Kultur Lige (Jewish Workers Cultural Association) in Kiev, 1925.

Union of Jewish Writers and Journalists of Warsaw membership card of Isaac Bashevis Singer (1904–1991)

An appeal to vote for the Bund in the municipal elections (Vilna, date unknown)

May Day demonstration jointly organized by the Jewish Socialist Bund and Poalei-Zion Left (Warsaw, 1936).

Poster for the socialist organization Zionist Tseirei Zion: “The Land of Israel for the People of Israel!” (Vilna, date unknown).

“Join the Tsukunft” recruitment poster for the Bundist youth organization (Warsaw, 1936).
Yiddish music:
The Bundist song, Di Shvue sound (“The Oath”)… penned in 1902 by S. An-ski (Shlomo Zanvil Rapoport), the Russian Jewish writer. This Yiddish song, whose melody source also is unknown, exhorts Jews to unite, and to commit themselves body and soul to the defeat of the Russian Tsar and of capitalism… [The partisan song Zog nit keyn mol ] sound

In Love and In Struggle: The Musical Legacy Of The Labor Bund:

Text: David Edelshtat (1866-1892)
Sung by Adrienne Cooper

Edelshtadt’s Arbeter-froyen addresses women in its protest of the hardships of factory work. The song sounds a call to oppressed women workers to join the labor movement in its fight for justice and equality. Published in the New York newspaper Freie Arbeiter Stimme (Free Voice of Labor) in 1891, it was also sung by striking workers in Russia and Poland.

Text: Szmerke Kaczerginski (1908-1954)
Music: Basya Rubin (n.d.)~
h Children’s Chorus, The New Yiddish Chorale, and the Workmen’s Circle Chorus

Vilna poet and partisan Szmerke Kaczerginski wrote this stirring march song for the youth movement in the Vilna ghetto. Many of the young people who took part in the ghetto’s active resistance movement later also became combatants in the partisan units that fought the Nazis in the forests.

Here and Now: The Vision of the Jewish Labor Bund in Interwar Poland:

Members of the Tsukunft Self-Defense Group carry the Socialist flag on May Day, Warsaw. 1930s.

Kalman Reisen, socialist and Yiddishist:

Chicago 1912 – Outdoor portrait of the Jewish Socialist Self-Education Club — Includes Abraham Reisen
The Power of Persuasion: Jewish Posters from Prewar Poland:
“Jewish Woman‚ Vote for the Women’s Slate, Slate Number 3.”

***

From the archive of struggle no.38:

Tendance Coatesy:

* Chris Harman: extracts from “Party and Class” (1969), “The  Prophet and the Proletariat” (1994), “Spontaneity, Strategy, Politics” (2004) – makes the interesting case that Harman’s political legacy is the libertarian streak in the IS/SWP tradition, the element that is worth valuing and preserving. Chris Harman died last week. RIP.

World Socialist Website:

* Bund Sozialistischer Arbeiter: “Overthrow the Stalinist bureaucracy! Build workers’ councils in East Germany!”, October 18, 1989 (Parts I, II, III).

International Communist League:

*Socialist Workers League: “War Is Here—What Now?” (September 1939)

The rest are via Entdinglichung, with some annotation.

Archive.org:

* Leon Trotsky: The Bolsheviki and world peace (1918). [For an authoritative text version of this, as The War and the International, go to MIA. The introduction is by Lincoln Steffens, a muckracking journalist associated with the Progressive Party who became a Communist fellow traveller after a visit to the Soviet Union in 1919 with the Swede Karl Kilbom. I believe he later embraced Mussolini. This book, published by a mainstream American publisher, shows the extent to which Trotsky was considered a great hero of the revolution world-wide; he was the object of cult-like reverence, a figure of great romance in the West.]

* Bertram Wolfe: Marx and America (1934). [Wolfe was a founder-member of the CPUSA and active in the Comintern. He was close to the majority faction of the CPUSA around CE Ruthenberg and Jay Lovestone, who fought against the Foster-Cannon faction, a leftist minority. By 1934, however, he was an oppositionist, part of Lovestone’s Independent Communist Labor League in America and the Communist Party Opposition internationally. Wolfe was the Lovestonite’s chief theorist, and argued for “American exceptionalism”. In this erudite pamphlet, he makes the argument by drawing on Marx’s scattered writings about the US, showing that America posed a special case for the communist movement.]

* International Communist Opposition (ICO): International Class Struggle, Spring 1937. [The ICO, often known as the “Right” Opposition, initially had a pretty robust organisation. Zinoviev, a “Rightist”, had been the chair of the Comintern from its founding until 1926, but Nikolai Bukharin, the chair until the end of the Second Period in 1928, was the real leader after Lenin’s death. Bukharin was the intellectual hero of most of the ICO leadership, and it was Bukharin’s fall from grace under Stalin that prompted the break of the ICO from the mainstream. ICO leaders were therefore already well networked internationally, and able to hit the ground running organisationally, in contrast to the much slower moving “Left” Opposition. However, the ICO tended to lack a mass base in the labour movement, although there were some exceptions to this (the Lovestone-Wolfe group had a strong base in the Yiddish sections of the ILGWU; Steffens’ erstwhile friend Kilbom’s Communist Party of Sweden was pretty big; in Spain the BOC (one of the POUM’s predecessors, was important). This, along with the right-ward drift of many of their key thinkers, was probably the main reason they atrophied by WWII.

This is the ICO’s American journal, vol. 1, no.3, and it includes a fraternally critical letter to the POUM from the bureau of the ICO; a piece on the CIO by George F Miles, the Lovestonites’ labour expert; “D. Swift” on proletarian novels, particularly contemptuous of James T Farrell; an account of the German CPO’s underground existence under Hitler; a critical account of Leon Blum’s Popular Front in France; and a cruel attack on Jean Juares as a prototype of the Popular Front policy. No. 1 and No. 2 are also on-line at archive.org, but I haven’t looked at them yet.]

* Leon Trotsky on labor party: stenographic report of discussion held in 1938 with leaders of the Socialist Workers Party (1968). [A long introduction by Fred Meuhler and Tim Wohlforth draws on Engels and Lenin to argue for an American Labor Party. Then a transcript of Trotsky’s conversation in Mexico with James Cannon, Max Shachtman and Vincent Dunne. By 1938, the Right Opposition were in decline globally, and the Left Opposition was on the rise. However, it is interesting that the American SWP, which was led precisely by James Cannon, Lovestone and Wolfe’s rival in the early CPUSA, had come around to a version of the “American exceptionalism” thesis, and were now calling for an American Labor Party.]

(more…)