From the archive of struggle, no.20

Heroes:

Spain Turns by Roberto. From the International Review, Vol.2 No.3, New York, April 1937

“From 1936 to 1939 a magazine called International Review was published in New York, with contributions from exiles from Germany and other European countries. It was responsible for the first English translation, from the German, of Rosa Luxemburg’s  ‘Reform or Revolution’ and Julius Martov’s ‘The State and the Socialist Revolution’. Its general political line can be best described as “Anti-Bolshevik Marxism”, rejecting Lenin and Trotsky’s vanguardism and arguing that the socialist revolution, to be successful, required the conscious understanding and active participation of the working class.
A MySpace exclusive: this is the first time that this article has appeared on the web.”

[Thanks to Darren for the tip.]

Great George Orwell photo gallery here.

Villains:

Added to the Dolores Ibárruri Archive: Stalin, Leader of Peoples, Man of the Masses, (1940). A lot of people think “La Pasionaria” was a wonderful person, because she came out with that great line about living on your knees or dying on your feet. In fact, at least until late in her life, she was a Stalinist hack, complicit in the murders of people like Andreu Nin and, more directly, Gabriel León Trilla.

Ambivalent:

I only recently found the excellent TheoryAndPractice.org.uk, which mainly archives texts from the ultra-left, including Amadeo Bordiga and Gilles Dauvé (aka Jean Barrot). I am ambivalent about these people: Bordiga fetishisation of the party rivals Lenin’s, and while Dauvé’s critiques of vanguardism are powerful, his anti-anti-fascism is reprehensible. On the other hand, The Communist Club and Julius Martov were cool.

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…)

Micro-miscellany

News

Tribune has been saved.

From the archive of struggle, no.8

Entdinglichung has another update, including Julian Gorkin in Spanish, Pietro Secchia on  Women anti-fascist partisans in Italy, Dwight MacDonald on fascism, texts from Socialist Appeal (the Trotskyist entrists in the Socialist Party of America – including some by Albert Goldman and Ernest Erber), and Martov in French.

The site of the wonderful Kate Sharpley Library archive has also been updated. Some new stuff: