Stalin in Clerkenwell Green

From Eric Lee:

This article appears in Solidarity.  Feel free to add your comments below.


It was a beautiful May morning, one of the first warm and sunny days we’ve had all year. In Clerkenwell Green, hundreds of people were assembling for the annual official London May Day march. Many of you will not have been there — in fact there were very few trade unionists at all on this year’s march.

So let me tell you who was there — the twentieth century’s greatest serial killer, Joseph Stalin. Stalin was on several banners, and not only his image side by side with Lenin and Mao, but huge banners just with his picture alone — and quotations from his writings.

As I marched along with some trade union leaders and a traditional brass band, I could not help feeling ashamed at what the march would have looked like to onlookers, of whom there were many along the route. Ashamed and disgusted.

It’s disgusting because holding aloft iconic images of Stalin at a trade union march shows a complete lack of moral judgement. Seventy years ago, it may have been understandable — the second world war was raging, the Soviet leadership had not yet acknowledged Stalin’s crimes. But after 1956, anyone who still believed that Stalin was a great revolutionary leader was delusional. (more…)

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Today in 1918: Rocker deported to Holland

From IISG:

Rocker to his wife Milly, Rocker papers inventory number 26. Enlarge image

Rudolf Rocker, born in 1873 in Mainz of Catholic parents, became an anarchist and settled in London at the end of the nineteenth century. During the First World War, Rocker, though by no means a German patriot, was interned as a public enemy by the British government. His wife Milly suffered the same fate. The correspondence of this detained couple is not only personal but offers many political insights and commentary as well.
The Russian October Revolution made the Rockers very happy, and they hoped to be deported to the promised land, just like other revolutionaries. Milly Rocker, who was of Russian-Jewish origin, solemnly believed that this would happen. But Rudolf called it an illusion in his letter of 9 January 1918. And he was right: in the course of 1918 the Rockers were indeed deported, but to neutral Holland instead of Russia.

See also:

•  Rudolf Rocker papers
•  Search IISH collections and databases for ‘Rudolf Rocker’

Rocker at Blackened.net. Some  music: Shaky Egg by Rudolf Rocker. Below the fold: Rocker at the Daily Bleed. (more…)

Today in 1864: A Soiree

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London event: 50 years of Housman’s

This event is on Wednesday night:

RAHN Radical History of North East London: Housman’s Bookshop 50 Years Young Wednesday 11 November at 8 pm

at The Postman’s Office, the North London Community House. Its address is 22 Moorefield Road, London N17.

More details, including a mini history of the bookshop, here.

Note: other recent notes on recent radical history: Memories of the Wapping Dispute, The London Workers Group, London Greenpeace, UK Anti-Poll Tax movement, Defeating the poll tax in Haringey, Anarchism in Haringey 1980-2000, Tottenham Claimants in the 1980s.

Published in: on November 9, 2009 at 5:22 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Ashes, teabags, etcb

Leon Trotsky’s ashes stolen and baked into cookies.* Will as George Orwell, part 2. The battle of ideas in Cuba. Nestor Makhno and the Anarchist Black Cross. Maps on EP Thompson on William Morris. And on the last days of Max Jacobs (a propos of fascist desecrations at Drancy).Tony Allen at Speaker’s Corner. Theodore Dalrymple on the word “so”.

*UPDATE from Roland.