From the archive of struggle no.84: A Libcom special

The IWW since 1932 – George Pearce

Organizing “wall-to-wall”: the Independent Union of All Workers (1933-1937) – Peter Rachleff

What is “Alternative Unionism”? – Staughton Lynd

An article by Staughton Lynd about the militant unionism of the 1930s.

Wobbly driplines: strikes, stowaways & the SS Manuka

Built in 1903 and wrecked off New Zealand’s southern coast in 1929, the Manuka was a floating fragment of class society—and of class warfare. This article uses the Manuka to tell the wider story of syndicalism, transnationalism, anti-militarism, and the IWW in Aotearoa New Zealand.

“The American blindspot”: Reconstruction according to Eric Foner and W.E.B. Du Bois – Noel Ignatiev

Noel Ignatiev’s review of two books about Reconstruction, which was the period in American history where the victorious Northern federal government attempted to transform the state and society in the South.

The Spanish revolution 1931-1939 – Pierre Broué

An essay on the “political” dimension of the revolution and the years immediately preceding it in Spain during the 1930s, “the struggle of the Spanish workers and peasants for their rights and liberties, for the factories and the land, and finally, for political power”, examining not only “demonstrations, strikes, storming the prisons, militiamen clad in overalls, barricades, dinamiteros, summary executions and collectivizations” but also “contradictory exegeses, theoretical debates, polemics and personal conflicts, and battles between political machines, fractions and tendencies”, as well as the “ever-present” menace of the counterrevolution.

The search for a useable past: an interview with Paul Buhle on Radical America

An interview of Paul Buhle, the founder of the radical journal, Radical America.

Anarchist portraits – Clifford Harper

A beautiful set of 36 woodcut style portraits of anarchists by Clifford Harper, originally published as a set of picture cards by Freedom Press. If you enjoy these images please donate or buy materials from Freedom or Clifford from their websites.

Images from Radical America

Images from Radical America, a magazine associated with the New Left and published from 1967-1999.

Bakunin – Guy Aldred

A pamphlet by Scottish anarchist communist Guy Aldred on Mikhail Bakunin, the founding figure of modern anarchism, published in 1940.

Ned Kelly’s ghost: the Tottenham IWW and the Tottenham tragedy – John Patten

Red years, black years: anarchist resistance to fascism in Italy

A detailed pamphlet on the history of the Italian anarchist resistance to fascism from the 1920s to 1945 and beyond by region. First published in 1973, translated to English by Alan Hunter and published in 1989 by ASP.

Personal recollections of the anarchist past – George Cores

Cartoons and images from The Voice of the People

Art, images and cartoons from ‘The Voice of the People’, a New Orleans based newspaper of the Industrial Workers of the World published from 1913-1914.

Manifesto of the Socialist Party of Canada 1944

Western Socialist 1933

This pamphlet was first published in 1910 as the Manifesto of the Socialist Party of Canada. During the ten-year period ending in 1920, five editions, totalling more than 25,000 copies, were issued. The growing insistence of members and sympathisers impels us to place the Manifesto once again in the hands of the working class. The present edition consists of 5,000 copies.

An Interview with Miguel Amorós – Cazarabet-El Sueño Igualitario

In this 2015 interview, Miguel Amorós discusses his book about Buenaventura Durruti, Durruti in the Labyrinth (2006), the controversies and enigmas surrounding the untimely and mysterious death of this charismatic figure of anarchism, and the impact of his death on the anarchosyndicalist movement in Spain during the civil war, which Amorós says was not dependent on the actions of any single individual, but that his demise demoralized the rank and file of the anarchist movement and reinforced the trend towards bureaucratization in the CNT-FAI by providing those institutions with a martyr for propaganda purposes to rally the masses behind the war and government collaboration.

The War and The Socialist Position

Socialist Standard September 1914

The text is taken from the original leaflet, THE WAR AND THE SOCIALIST POSITION, produced and printed by The Socialist Party of Great Britain. The leaflet was published for distribution to the working class until being prevented from being circulated at meetings by the capitalist State on the spurious grounds that it was considered “likely to cause disaffection to His Majesty or to interfere with the success of His Majesty’s forces by land or sea etc.” with the imposition of The Defence of the Realm Regulations enacted in November 1914.

Miscellany

Criticism etc

I have added a rss feed for Criticism etc down at the bottom right, as I find myself wanting to re-post almost everything there. Here are some recent items.

Retrospective Review: Paul Buhle’s Marxism in the United States

Marxism in the United States: Remapping the History of the American Left by Paul Buhle Verso, 1991 (revised edition; original edition 1987)

Buhle’s book undertakes the formidable task of presenting a concise history of the experience of American Marxism, from its arrival with the German émigrés of 1848 to the Ronald Reagan era. He is strongest in his interpretation of the often contention-fraught relationship between the radicalism of the native-born socialists and that of the many immigrant communities that played such an important role in the history of the U.S. nineteenth and early twentieth-century left. Buhle’s signal concern is culture, specifically popular culture, and it tends to subsume almost all other elements here, including philosophical debates (admittedly, not a strong point in American Marxism). The survey of classroom Marxist debates in the book’s final chapter hasn’t aged well, although, as far as academic prominence goes, Buhle was certainly vindicated in the focus he placed on Frederic JamesonCriticism &c. highly recommends.

The Digital MEGA

The latest issue of Socialism and Democracy includes an update on the progress of the Marx-Engels Gesamtausgabe project, the international scholarly effort to publish all of the works of Marx in the languages in which they were written. The author, Gerd Callesen, is a Danish librarian and editorial participant in the project. While the expensive volumes in the series are not intended for use by the average person interested in Marx (and shrinking academic library budgets mean that few students may even have a chance to use them), some volumes in the series are being made freely available on the web. Criticism &c. provides here an excerpt from the article focusing on the MEGA’s digital portion and some concluding paragraphs on the future of the project.

An Excerpt from Charles Denby’s Indignant Heart

Libcom.org has made available three chapters from Indignant Heart: a Black Worker’s Journal by Charles Denby. Denby, an African-American auto worker and revolutionary, was a member of the Johnson-Forest Tendency and became one of the founding members of News and Letters Committees in 1955. Indignant Heart (the title comes from a quote by Abolitionist Wendall Phillips) was originally published by the JFT in 1952 and attributed to the pseudonym Matthew Ward. Denby, whose real name was Simon Owens, greatly expanded the book in a new edition published by South End Press in 1978. Wayne State University Press published this edition in 1989 with an introduction by William H. Harris, an historian of the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters.

The chapters selected by Libcom are the final three from the 1952 edition. Note the episode in Chapter 15 in which Denby—at a public meeting—asks novelist and CP member Howard Fast, “What is the relationship of the Russian workers to production?”

Another Comment on Charles Denby’s Indignant Heart

Among the chapters of Indignant Heart recently made available by Libcom, Chapter 16 (“The Trotskyist Party”) is extremely important for its depiction of the strong current of racism that pervaded the Marxist parties, an under-acknowledged aspect of the history of the U.S. left. It’s not possible to discern any difference between the attitudes Denby faced every day from S.W.P. members and the racism prevalent in the larger society of the time. On the theoretical level, Denby exposes the fact that the Trotskyists did not even have an official party position on question of racial oppression in U.S. society. The unidentified speaker at the 1948 convention was, of course, C.L.R. James (the Johnson-Forest Tendency had rejoined the S.W.P. the previous year). The resolution put forth at the convention, the Revolutionary Answer to the Negro Question in the U.S., was published in Fourth International in December 1948 (under the byline J. Meyer). A revised version adopted by the party in 1950 (“Negro Liberation Through Revolutionary Socialism“) appears in Fourth International, May-June 1950. Both texts are available in the Marxists Internet Archive.

A preview excerpt from the Wayne State University edition of Indignant Heart is available at Google Books.

Also:

Both Libcom (see above) and the AWL have published some material relating to Victor Serge recently. The former has published his Year 1 of the revolution. In the latter, Paul Hampton wrote on Victor Serge and Kronstadt in January, with replies by Martyn Hudson and others, followed by Martyn Hudson again, followed by the publication of a first and second instalment of Karl Radek’s view. Meanwhile, Serge’s great memoirs are due to be re-published in April:

Memoirs of a Revolutionary
By Victor Serge
Translated by Peter Sedgwick
April 2012

Victor Serge is one of the great men of the twentieth century, anarchist, revolutionary, agitator, theoretician, historian of his times, and a fearless truthteller. Here Serge describes his upbringing in Belgium, the child of a family of exiled Russian revolutionary intellectuals, his early life as an activist, his time in a French prison, the active role he played in the Russian Revolution, as well his growing dismay at the Revolutionary regime’s ever more repressive and murderous character. Expelled from the Soviet Union, Serge went to Paris, and barely escaped the Nazis to find a final refuge in Mexico. Memoirs of a Revolutionary describes a thrilling life on the frontlines of history and includes brilliant portraits of politicians from Trotsky and Lenin to Stalin and of major writers like Alexander Blok and Andrey Bely. Above all, it captures the sensibility of Serge himself, that of a courageous and singularly appealing advocate of human liberation who remained undaunted in the most trying of times.

Peter Sedgwick’s fine translation of Serge’s Memoirs of a Revolutionary was cut by a fifth when it was first published in 1963. This new edition is the first in English to present the entirety of Serge’s book.

Read Richard Greeman here on the current dissent in Russia. James B on the Falklands or the Malvinas. And finally: Ron Radosh on Oliver Stone’s Stalinist history of America.

Wonders of the web

From the highly recommended New Appeal to Reason:

Mohammed Alim Khan, Emir of Bukhara, taken in ...

Image via Wikipedia

1. Russia 1900-1915 in color photographs.  These are beautiful and teach a lot about history. Sergey Mikhaylovich Prokudin-Gorsky was a pioneering Russian photographer. These photos were taken three in rapid succession with different filters, which then allowed a composite color photograph to be constructed.

2. The Band this is a great fan site,  from Norway, though the site is in English.

Also:

Michael Yates on the decline of the left.

Bob Potter on Marinus van der Lubbe, anti-fascism and Stalinist falsification via Red Star Commando.

Also from the Weekly Worker: Ian Isaac on the miners’ strike; Paul Smith on building marxist culture free of Stalinism (1 & 2).

Paul Buhle on Madison, Wisconsin.

Annarky: Glasgow anarchists 1915.

On Victor Serge:  Pavle R on and What’s Cooking.

Benjamin Kerstein on Stieg Larrson’s politics.

Peter Dreier and Donald Cohen on the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire a century ago.

The AWL’s Martin Thomas on Working-class struggle and anarchism, and later responding to the debate.

The barricades then; the uprisings now.

From the archive of struggle

Selma James and other key readings on wages for housework.

ADDED:

A wonderful series on Georges Heinen and surrealism in Eygpt.

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…)