Poumicated

I have not posted much here for ages. Here are some radical history items I’ve spotted in my recent browsing.

libcom.org launches new working class history Facebook page

Today, 30 July, anniversary of the first recorded strike in North American history, we are launching a new working class history page on Facebook to celebrate our history: people’s history.

Rosie Bell: Flippant Nihilist

I only know Alexander Cockburn as an editor of the creepy Counterpunch, and his airy dismissals  of anyone who thought Israel Shamir a dodgy piece of work.

There’s a fascinating account of him by Paul Berman.

Cockburn is reminiscent of Christopher Hitchens – the English journalist who lives in America and writes stylishly about American and international affairs. The political framework may be leftwards, the cultural references English literature, quoted with ease to point the moral and adorn the tale.[…]

Naomi Weisstein: The Chicago Women’s Liberation 
Rock Band, 1970-1973

A Memoir and Reflection on Badass 
Boffo Revolutionary Feminist MusicImage

In Chicagoland, in 1970, almost every teenage girl listened to rock. They considered it their music—hormonal, quasi-outlaw, with screaming guitars and a heavy, driving beat. But it was sooo misogynist! This wasn’t the Beatles’ playful woman-affectionate songs.

 For many years the dominant trend in scholarship on C.L.R. James has been to emphasize his cultural and literary writings. Arguably the most popular way to frame his legacy has been to situate him as a forerunner to cultural studies, post-colonial studies, and identity politics. Grant Farred, for example, has criticized “earlier modes of James studies” that addressed “debates that occupied sectarian James scholars” and welcomed “the centrality of cultural studies within James scholarship,” while Brett St. Louis has argued that the “march of identity politics and post-modernism” is “irresistible,” and that James’s work is of value precisely because it “grapples with a proto-post-marxist problematic.”

ImageDan La Botz: Ricardo Flores Magón – Mexican Anarchists and American Socialists

Claudio Lomnitz.The Return of Comrade Ricardo Flores Magón. New York: Zone Books, 2014. 594 pages. Notes. Index of Names. Photos. Hardback. $35.95.

If it were a house, Claudio Lomnitz’s The Return of Comrade Ricardo Flores Magón would be a rambling, decaying mansion with various jerrybuilt stories and wings, a ramshackle place filled with archives and artifacts, old political posters and antique typewriters, a building straddling the U.S.-Mexico border, a shared abode whose residents are an interesting and odd collection of characters, some of them lovely people, some noble, and others quite disagreeable, coming and going at all hours, sometimes reciting poetry. And don’t be surprised if, while you’re visiting, the place is raided by Furlong or Pinkerton agents, by the police or the Texas rangers who carry off some of the boarders to prison; some of whom will be gone for years at a time.

Ian Birchall: Lenin: Yes! Leninism: No?

That Lenin was an important revolutionary leader, and that his life and work repay our study today, are not in doubt. But what of “Leninism”?

Paul Le Blanc: Leninism, No?

There is a distinctive political approach and body of thought that can legitimately and constructively be termed Leninism.

Marshall BermanTodd Gitlin: Hurling the Little Streets Against the Great: Marshall Berman’s Perennial Modernism

For Marshall Berman, the street was not just the site where modernism was enacted; it was modernism incarnate. {…}

 Ingo Schmidt: Rosa Luxemburg – Economics 
for a New Socialist Project

Right-wing militias killed Rosa Luxemburg and dumped her dead body into the Landwehr Canal after the Spartacus uprising in Berlin. Social democrats and communists finished off her intellectual and political legacy by putting her on their respective pedestals. She became a principal witness against Bolshevik organizing practices for the former and was praised as a co-founder of the German Communist Party and a revolutionary martyr by the latter.

Andrew Coates: Jean Jaurès: The Anniversary of his Assassination, July 31st 1914. A Tribute.

Jaures l'Humanite

Jaurès was killed blindly, yet with reason:/‘let us have drums to beat down his great voice’. (The Mystery of the Charity of Charles Péguy. Geoffrey Hill.)

A hundred years ago today, Jean Jaurès the leader of French socialism (SFIO, Section française de l’Internationale ouvrière), and Editor/Founder of l’Humanité were preparing an article against the coming war. Jaurès had supported the call of the Socialist International, launched by Keir Hardie and the Frenchman, Édouard Vaillant, to launch a general strike if armed fighting broke out.

By 1914 Europe was on the brink of war. At the end of July an emergency meeting of the Socialist International was held in Brussels, which endorsed a call for peace. On the 29th of July Jaurès spoke with Rosa Luxemburg, at a rally of seven thousand people against militarism and the coming confrontation at the Cirque Royal. He had already warned that fighting would lead to a catastrophe, “Quel massacre quelles ruines, quelle barbarie!” (Discours de Vaise. 25th July 1914) Now he talked of his “hatred of our chauvinists” and that we would not “give up the idea of a Franco-German rapprochement”. This looked less and less probable. Jaurès’ newspaper column (published after his death) would describe of the climate of “fear” and “anxiety” spreading across the continent.

Jaurès paused from his journalism and went to the near-by Café du Croissant to eat. At 20.45, the nationalist student Raoul Villain approached him and fired two bullets. One stuck his neck and was fatal. Villain claimed to have acted to “eliminate an enemy of the nation.”[…]

100 years after Jean Jaures’ murder, his name still inspires

Jean Juares

By Dick Nichols, Barcelona. July 31, 2014 — Green Left Weekly — When you travel through France, there’s one name that appears most in public space ― on streets, schools and metro stations. Not Jeanne d’Arc, Napoleon, or even World War II resistance leader and later president Charles de Gaulle. No, the name you can pretty safely bet you’ll find on some sign in the next sleepy village is that of Jean Jaures. Jaures was France’s most famous socialist leader and deputy, a tenacious and passionate fighter for workers’ rights and against war, anti-Semitism, clericalism and colonialism. Trying to explain his huge impact, the young Russian revolutionary Leon Trotsky said in 1909: “As an orator he is incomparable and has met no comparison … it is not his rich technique nor his enormous, miraculous sounding voice nor the generous profusion of his gestures but the genius’s naivete of his enthusiasm which brings Jaures close to the masses and makes him what he is.”

One hundred years ago, on the evening of July 31, an extreme right-wing nationalist called Villain shot Jaures dead in Montmartre’s Cafe du Croissant. Jaures, accompanied by the editorial staff of l’Humanite, the socialist daily he had founded in 1904, was having dinner before finishing the next day’s edition. […]

Archive ImageKate Redburn: Unite Queer

Out in the Union, a new book by Miriam Frank, shows that unions have been crucial to the growth and success of the modern LGBT rights movement. {…}

Ian Birchall reviews Ernie Tate’s ‘Revolutionary Activism in the 1950s & 60s’

Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal readers can read an excerpt HERE. To order a copy, email terryconway@tiscali.co.uk.

August 6, 2014 — Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal — Anyone who was active in Britain’s Vietnam Solidarity Campaign (VSC) in the late 1960s will remember Ernie Tate, whose energy and enthusiasm made such a contribution. Now, 45 years later, he has published two volumes of memoirs from the 1950s and 1960s.

The first volume deals with the period 1955 to 1965. Tate was born in deep poverty in Belfast – he left school at 13 and tells us he “had never known or met anyone who had been to a secondary school, never mind university”. His only university was the revolutionary movement, and to judge by his later development it gave him a fine education.

Andrew Coates: Imperialism, Anti-Imperialism, and the Left. A Reply to Andrew Murray.

Imperialism, the Marxist historian Victor Kiernan claimed, shows itself, “in coercion exerted abroad, by one means or another, to extort profits above what simple commercial exchange can procure.” Andrew Murray begins Imperialism has Evolved since 1914, but it still Rules to World (Morning Star. 2.8.14. reproduced on 21st century Manifesto), by citing this assertion to observe that the “wars of 1914 and 1939 are the outstanding examples of what happens when that international system of extortion breaks down.” “Break-down and crisis” are as much a feature of “imperialism” as growth and slump are of capitalism. We might explain this, as a critic of Kiernan once noted, as the result of an inherent “atavistic” tendency to revert to type. […]

Portales, Suceso (1904-1999)Suceso Portales

 Martin Oppenheimer: New Light on the KKK

 Sit-ins at lunch counters by black students began in Greensboro, North Carolina, on February 1, 1960. Blacks had traditionally not been served there or anywhere in the South at that time. Within a week the sit-ins spread to Durham and Winston-Salem. Eleven of the first sit-ins were within 100 miles of Greensboro. After many arrests, and assaults by white hoodlums, on July 25 all Greensboro stores targeted by the sit-ins agreed to serve blacks on an equal basis.

 Alan Wald: Astonished by the present – The impatient life of Daniel Bensaïd

Daniel BenSaid

 Let us start, like Dante, in the middle. At age twenty-two, Daniel Bensaïd (1946–2010), a French-Algerian-Jewish philosophy student, vaulted eagerly onto the world stage of the international youth radicalization of 1968. His political stardom came by way of a leading role in the actions igniting the largest general strike in the history of France. At the suburban campus of the University of Paris at Nanterre, Bensaïd joined with his German-Jewish classmate Danny (“The Red”) Cohn-Bendit (b. 1945) to form the March 22nd Movement. This was a surprising partnership of anarchists, situationists, Trotskyists, and Maoists who seized an administrative building to proclaim demands addressing class discrimination and bureaucracy in the educational system. Bold for its time, the Nanterre occupation is customarily credited with detonating the chain of student strikes and protests climaxing in the sensational actions in Paris six weeks later: The May 6 demonstration of 20,000 at the Sorbonne and the May 10–11 all-night battle on the Left Bank.

Angiolillo’s vengeance

The story of Michele Angiolillo, an Italian anarchist who assassinated the repressive Spanish Prime Minister Antonio Cánovas in 1897

E. Haberkern: When the Red States Really Were Red

 The labor- and third-party movements of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries have been studied and written about extensively by academics and writers on the left. Most readers of this journal are probably familiar with much of this material. This book, however, is of particular interest today for a couple of reasons. For one thing, the author concentrates on the South and emphasizes the biracial nature of the movement.

The tragic week, Spain 1909 – Murray BookchinGeneral strike, Barcelona, 1909

A short history of the ‘Star of Peru’ Bakery Workers’ Federation (FOPEP)

Mark Kosman: World War I and 100 years of counterrevolution

accuserJohn Maclean: the accuser of capitalism

To mark the 100th anniversary of the first world war, People & Nature today publishes Accuser of Capitalism: John Maclean’s Speech from the Dock on 9 May, 1918. (Introduction here, text of speech here.) Maclean, a Scottish Marxist, was one of a small number of socialists across

Europe who denounced their governments’ participation in the war, urged workers to resist it, and hoped that it would be superceded by class war.

The Slocum massacre, 1910Descendants of some of the victims of the massacre

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Poumacetic

detail of bertram d wolfe from proletarian unity|walker evans|July–August 1933|1994.256.295The past in the present: After last week’s echoes of the Spanish civil war in the UK student protests, here is a superb post by Marko Hoare finding echoes of Trotsky’s vacillations in contemporary Lib Dem policy: “Trotsky ‘massively regrets’ breaking pre-revolution pledge to give power to the proletariat”.

From the vaults: Black Flag 1976 with some wonderful insane leftist comments on sex (hat-tip me). And “What is the trad left?” Maurice Brinton from 1969.

Marxist theory/anarchist theory: Andrew Coates on Lars Libs’ Lenin Rediscovered: good analysis of some of Lenin’s (and Leninism’s) strengths and weeknesses. At Anarchist Writers, a Freedom text against Leninist distortions of anarchism from ca.2000. As they say, “With anarchism back in the news thanks to the student protests in 2010, we can expect the likes of the Socialist Workers Party to have patronising and inaccurate articles on “anarchism” in their publications.” Along the same lines, two anarchist letters to Socialist Resistance from 2004. Into more esoteric territory, they have a long critique of Allan Engler’s Economic Democracy: The Working-Class Alternative to Capitalism. And slightly less esoterically, here is “Bob” on some influential left-wing ideas, and here is Norman Geras’ take on a couple of them.

Anti-communism: This week Barry Rubin at PJM on Bertram Wolfe, right-Communist turned apostate turned Cold Warrior. I will at some point return to this, because Wolfe is an interesting and important figure, badly served in this hatchet job.

Published in: on December 23, 2010 at 3:11 pm  Comments (4)  
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Poumerast

In this issue, some Trotskyist stuff, and then some Orwellia, and finally some dispatches from the real world.

From the Archive of Struggle no.46

I’ve been down on Alan Woods lately, for his support of the soft-Stalinist authoritarian populist regime of Hugo Chavez, which in turn has supported the repression of the working class in the Islamic Republic of Iran. So, in the spirit of ecumenicism, I have been spending time at his website, and am dedicating this special edition of From the Archive of Struggle to Woods and his guru Ted Grant.

On James Connolly and the Easter Uprising
*Ted Grant: Connolly and the 1916 Easter Uprising [1966]
*Ted Grant and Alan Woods: James Connolly and the Easter Uprising [2001]
*Fightback: Ireland: Easter then and now – Socialism the only way out! [2010]
On Trotskyism and Stalinism:
* Ted Grant: Stalin Versus Marx [1946]
*Ted Grant: New Purges in Russia [1946]
*Ted Grant: Stalin Liquidates Two Republics [1946: on the roots of the Chechen conflict]
*Ted Grant: Opposition at C.P. Conference—Reformist policy criticised [1947]
*Ted Grant: Stalinist land programme wins peasants – Chiang’s conscripts roped to prevent escape [1949: on the Chinese revolution]
*Ted Grant: The General Strike and the “Communist Party” [1971]
*Ted Grant: Jan Sling arrest—“Communist” Party apologies [1972]
*Alan Woods: Introduction to the Indonesian edition of The Revolution Betrayed [2010]
*International Marxist Tendency: For the Fifth International [2010]
On British politics:
*Ted Grant: The I.L.P. at the Crossroads [1945]
*Ted Grant: Tories in Conference—A bankrupt policy [1948]
On German politics:
*Ted Grant: German Workers Vote Labour—Demonstrate Opposition to Nazism [1946]

Down with the revisionists, running dogs, etc!

Apparently,

Alan Woods is under attack again not from a Brazilian right wing analyst as was the case two weeks ago, but from loud-mouthed TalCual editor/publish Teodoro Petkoff, who dedicates an editorial to the Welshman…

Like in the Brazilian article, Petkoff referred to Woods as the latest of Chavez’ “political advisers” and the man who got Chavez to admit that he was a Marxist-Leninist … like Petkoff once was when he was a 60-70s guerrilla.

What Petkoff does is amplify the Brazilian piece, adding trinkets such as calling Heinz Dieterich — a “German charlatan” — and Chavez “catching measles” from the “heavy brick of Hungarian Marxist, Istvan Meszaros.”  Alan Woods is quickly dismissed as one of that “handful of castaways who left the shipwreck of the USSR … a solitary soul looking for a sponsor … without a refreshing or new idea.”

Here’s Wikipedia on Petkoff, ex-Stalinist turned liberal social democrat. I can’t find the article on-line, but just Woods’ reply (see here). I’m a bit of a fan of Istvan Meszaros, and would like more politicians to read his work. Any readers who can provide more info on all of this, please do.

Meanwhile, as already reported, Woods’ Iranian comrades have deserted his micro-movement, due to his apologies for Chavez’s support for the tyrannical regime in Iran. Here is the newly launched website of the Iranian Revolutionary Marxists’ Tendency. Here is a website, KarlMarx.Net, which is associated with the IRMT and their supporters. Among the documents are something very interesting by Pat Byrne (who I think is from the Alliance for Green Socialism) on the origins of the slate system for leadership voting in Leninist parties (also published at Tendance Coatesy, with better formatting to make it more readable, and by A Very Public Sociologist), and a Marxist reply by John Gandy to Woods’ series on anarchism mentioned here. There is also an interesting document on the split in the IMT from the Learning from Our Past group here.

Also read: David Osler’s review of Richard Gott on the Bolivarian revolution.

Also read: LabourStart’s news from Iran: Journalist who wrote about and defended union workers gets long jail term 2010-04-07 [Radio Free Europe]; IFJ Urges Iran to Release Detained Journalists 2010-03-22 [IFJ]; ‘New minimum wage rate spurs widespread indignation’ 2010-03-16 [Iran Labor Report]; ‘Forcing hunger on Iranian workers in the new year’ 2010-03-16 [Iran Labor Report]; Worker Protest in the Age of Ahmadinejad 2010-03-16 [Middle East Report]; Where Life Reeks of Death: Working Women and Child Laborers2010-03-07 [Iran Labor Report]; Union Leaders Under Attack 2010-03-07 [Iran Labor Report]; Workers’ Protest in Isfahan 2010-03-07 [Iran Labor Report]; IFJ Condemns Closure of Newspapers in Iran 2010-03-06 [IFJ]; ‘Kaleidoscopic’ Worker Protests Grow in Iran 2010-02-26 [In These Times].

Down with the revisionists, running dogs, etc! Part 2

Moving on from Ted Grant to his evil twin Gerry Healy, possibly the most destructive force ever on the British far left. Or, rather, to Healy’s disciple Corin Redgrave, whose death recently I’ve only touched on in passing. Read: Corin Redgrave: Traitor to MarxismGerry Healy and the WRPThe Daily Telegraph, Corin Redgrave and a Libel CaseCorin Redgrave, authoritarian figureCorin Redgrave: scenes from a political life; and What has the Left got to be so smug about?. And, from the archive, No One Likes Us, We Try Not To Care.

The girl with the dragon tattoo

Talking of Trots, Marko follows Nick Cohen, Max Dunbar and Christopher Hitchens in reviewing dead Swedish Trot Stieg Larsson, the “man who wasn’t really all that left-wing.”

Orwellia

Having already posted this, here is another Orwell Prize nominee, Madame Miaow, on George Orwell. Recommended.

Meanwhile in the real world

Tolpuddle guides go on strikeKyrgyzstan: colour revolution and permanent revolutionU.S. and Colombia Cover Up Atrocities Through Mass GravesThe Rights of Mother Earth: Bolivia Births a New Revolution; The harvest of death in Canada; India’s coalfire workers.

Anarchism versus Leninism

I’ve still not followed this up, but Andy brings to our attention a whole spate of recent Leninist critiques of anarchism. The most sophisticated is Marxism and anarchism byPaul Blackledge in International Socialism Journal. Most of the others are by crude defenders of ortho-Marxism like Alan Woods. Slightly different, and worth reading, are Steven Strauss’ socialist indictment of Noam Chomsky (Freedom Road Socialist Party) and “The Historical Failure of Anarchism” [pdf] by Christopher Day, then of Love and Rage.

The question is, I suppose, why are Leninist so keen right now to take up arms against anarchism? Is it a sign that anarchism is ascendant, that anarchism has better expressed working class rage at the economic crisis at a time when the left should be growing but isn’t?

Marxist theory 2

From The Commune:

From Workers Liberty:

Sketchy Thoughts:

Notes and Commentaries:

Links:

Marxist Theory 1 here.

Who would have expected that of Herr Bronstein from Cafe Central!

A long and interesting post from Principia Dialectica about Leon Trotsky, his twists and turns, and his legacy.

Meanwhile, Roland, having heard that Hugo Chavez is planning to give Barack Obama a copy of Lenin’s What is to be Done next time he sees him, conjures up the appalling spectacle of a Chavez book club. On the Lenin gift, Jams comments “That should save Obama a few prescriptions for sleeping tablets”, and Bob adds “Personally, I think that, if books can be called evil, that What is to be Done is up there with Mein Kampf. And it’s boring!”

Meanwhile, Obama himself, interviewed on Radio 4 on his way to Cairo, mentioned he was currently reading Joseph O’Neil’s Netherland, a book heavily influenced by one of my heroes (and part of Trotsky’s legacy), CLR James.