On this day 1937: death of Carlo Rosselli

725.jpgParis, 9 June, 1937: Assassination of Carlo Rosselli.Rosselli, an Italian socialist, had been in exile in Paris since 1929, where he was the main figure in the movement Guistizia e Liberta. Here is the next part of his story, as told by Stanislao G. Pugliese:

Several days after the attempted coup d’etat of 18 July 1936 in Spain, various members of Giustizia e Liberta met in the offices of the journal on Rue Val-de-Grace in Paris. Rosselli proposed quick and decisive intervention against fascism in Spain; here was the opportunity to transform anti-fascism from a negative, passive idea into a positive, active force. Unfortunately, the reform socialists were hesitant and the communists were awaiting word from Moscow on how to proceed. Only the maximalist socialists and the anarchists agreed with Rosselli’s demand for a volunteer force to leave immediately for Spain. For the next ten months until his assassination, Rosselli fought a battle on two fronts: against Franco and his followers, and trying to convince the supporters of the Spanish Republic that this was not just a civil war to defend the Republic, but the first scene in the last act of the drama of European fascism. Rosselli saw the Spanish Civil War as the first real opportunity to combat fascism on equal terms, on the field of battle, with the only element understood by fascism – force.

With his arrival in Barcelona during the first week in August 1936 noted by the police,4 Rosselli was received by a contingent of FAI (Federacion Anarquista Iberica) and introduced to members of the CNT (Confederacion Nacional del Trabajo) and POUM (Partito Obrero de Unificacion Marxista). He wrote back to his English-born wife, Marion, that for now, ‘it was not a real or modern war, but rather a slow siege’.5 Managing to hammer together an accord with the regional government of Catalonia, he created an Italian anti-fascist column of volunteers. Members of Giustizia e Liberta joined with Italian anarchists to create the ‘Ascaso’ Column.6 Together, Rosselli and the republican Mario Angeloni shared command of this first group of 130 Italian volunteers, of whom approximately 70-80 were anarchists, 20 were members of Giustizia e Liberta, and the remainder either socialists, communists or republicans.7 After a week, Rosselli returned to Paris where he tried to persuade the other anti-fascists to volunteer in Spain. By the end of the month he was back in Spain, on the Aragon front. […]

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Letters from Barcelona

9780230527393A book I want to read: Letters from Barcelona: An American Woman in Revolution and Civil War edited by Gerd-Rainer Horn, letters by American socialist Lois Orr and some by her husband Charles Orr.

Letters from Barcelona provides a unique insight into the mentality and actions of an entire generation of socialist activists caught up in the maelstrom of cataclysmic events in interwar Europe. Based on carefully chosen representative selections from the copious letters sent by the young protagonist to family and friends in the United States, the atmosphere described in these letters vividly recreates the challenges, the hopes and the disappointments associated with living in Barcelona in the first year of the Catalan Revolution and the Spanish Civil War. These letters reconstruct the vibrant atmosphere of the campaign for a self-managed socialist society, stymied and ultimately crushed by the twin challenges of fascist and Stalinist dictatorships. The primary documents are placed into a larger context by the editor’s introductory remarks on the nature of the Catalan Revolution and the place of Lois Orr’s writings in the emerging literature on women’s autobiographies.

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Poumly

Bella ciao, Iran: a song of freedom.

“Revolutionary syndicalism serves the proletariat, whereas anarchism is one brand of humanism”: Juan García Oliver interviewed.

The Politics of Saint-Making: Jacopedia on the Catholic Church and the Spanish civil war.

The Neoconservative Père et Fils: Michael Signer on Bill Kristol Sr and Jr.

Baudelaire, Benjamin, Gramsci: Blackdaffodil on three dead men.

Dirty rotten commies: the Slackster continues his tour of the “Marxist-Leninist” swamp.

The Death of Anna LoPizzo: the subversive historian on America’s hidden labour histories.

Debunking Ramparts: Ron Radosh on 60s New Left neo-Stalinism.

Flame On The Snow: Victor Serge on the Russian revolution.

Zinn’s legacy: David Adler on a leftist icon.

Endless blues: Stanley Crouch on Ralph Ellison.

Not a hero: Red Maria on Stepan Bandera.

Strange days indeed: Andrew Coates reviews Francis Wheen.

Meretz event in London on Sunday on refugees

A very interesting event this weekend, which I read about here. It is organised by Meretz UK and looks at the connections between refugees in Britain, Israel/Palestine and elswhere, at the time of the 1905 Aliens Act, the kindertransport, and today.

One of the speakers, of whom Poumista is a fan:

David Rosenberg: is a teacher and writer who also leads guided walks on London’s radical history (http://www.eastendwalks.com/). He is on the National Committee of the Jewish Socialists’ Group and on the editorial committee of the Jewish Socialist Magazine. During the 1980s he was co-ordinator of the Jewish Cultural and Anti-Racist Project and then worked for the Runnymede Trust – a research and information body dealing with issues of racism and discrimination.

Meretz, by the way, are part of the extended Poumista family, in that, although a member of the reformist social democratic Socialist International, it was born from the Poale Zion Left (the Marxist wing of the pre-WWII Zionist movement) and Hashomer Hatzair Workers Party. The latter, a socialist binationalist movement in Palestine and the Jewish diaspora, was affiliated to the “Three-and-a-half” International, the International Revolutionary Marxist Centre (also known as the “London Bureau”), and was thus a sibling party of the POUM. Lenni Brenner writes:

Only one Zionist tendency, the Hashomer Hatzair, ever tried to grapple with the deeper implications of the Spanish revolution. Its members had devoted considerable efforts to try to win over the British Independent Labour Party (ILP) to a pro-Zionist position, and they closely followed the fate of the ILP’s sister party in Spain, the Partido Obrero de Unificacion Marxista (POUM). The political failure of the Popular Front strategy in Spain prompted a broad critique of the Stalinists and Social Democrats. However, there is no evidence that any of their members went to Spain, certainly not in an official capacity, or that they did anything for the struggle there beyond the raising of an insignificant donation, in Palestine, for the POUM.

More here, here, here and here – the latter actually inaccurate, as it was HaPoel members, not Hashomer members, who were in Barcelona; I am not sure which militias they fought with.

Against the Current: Spain’s revolution and tragedy

The new issue of Against the Current has an excellent special section on the Spanish revolution, with peices by Alan Wald, Wilebaldo Solano and others. Contents and abstracts below the fold.

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Keeping up

No time for proper posting, but have a look at

My obsessions

Leon Trotsky:

A good review by Andrew Coates of Patenaude and Robert Service‘s books, and a rather plodding defence of Trotsky from Service by Peter Taafe.

Ignazio Silone:

Silone on liberty. An interview with Tim Parks that touches on the “Silone question” (via The Perfect Package, see last quote). Any Persian readers reading this? Here’s some Silone in Farsi.

Albert Camus:

Coates on Camus in the Pantheon.

The Spanish Civil War:

Wilebaldo Solano on the POUM (more on this later). Review of An Anarchist’s Story: The Life of Ethel MacDonald.

Bertolt Brecht:

Excellent post by The Fat Man on a Keyboard, contra Nick Cohen on The Good Soul of Szechuan.

Kronstadt:

Finally, I am sad that I missed the New York Queer Film Festival, where I could have seen this:

Closing Night: Maggots & Men
Seeing Cary Cronenwett’s Maggots and Men, you have nothing to lose but your perceptions of gender. This utopian re-visioning of the Kronstadt Uprising of 1921, featuring film history’s first cast of over 100 transgender actors, paints an idyllic portrait of formerly pro-Soviet sailors at the Kronstadt naval garrison who rebelled against the perceived failures of the new Bolshevik state.

Poumed

At the head of everything is God, the Lord of Heaven.
Everyone knows that.
Then comes Prince Torlonia, lord of the earth.
Then come Prince Torlonia’s guards.
Then come Prince Torlonia’s guards’ dogs.
Then, nothing at all.
Then, nothing at all.
Then, nothing at all.
Then come the peasants. And that’s all.

~ Ignazio Silone, Fontamara (1931). (via @ndy)

Debates and arguments: David Cesarani, Marek Edelman and Michal Kaminski – click the link from Engage, then return to read the comment thread.

From the magazine rack: 1989 Timothy Garton Ash (NYRB); What Is to Be Learned? Thinking about 1989 Mitchell Cohen (Dissent); The Memory That Will Not Die: Exhuming the Spanish Civil War Julius Purcell (Boston Review); 100 Years of Servitude: Gabriel García Márquez’s Infatuation With Castro and Other Dictators Enrique Krauze (New Republic); Terry Teachout on the Congress for Cultural Freedom (Commentary).

Book reviews: John Gray on Robert Service’s Trotsky; Jonathan Yardley on Kati Marton’s Enemies of the People; DG Myers on two Lionel Trilling biographies; Colm Toibin on Sheila Rowbotham’s Edward Carpenter.

Some Irving Kristol obits I missed: Christopher Hitchens, David Brooks, Myron MagnetEric Alterman , Michael Lind, Justin Vaïsse, Kevin Mattson, Seth Lipsky, John Guardiano, Christopher DeMuth, Mary Eberstadt, Joseph Epstein, Danny Finkelstein.

Archival: Walter Lacquer on Why the Shah fell (1979).

Jews versus Stalinists in the Spanish Civil War

In the last three decades, since the publication of Albert Prago’s Jews in the international brigades in Spain in 1979 by Jewish Currents, there has been considerable interest in the massive role of Jewish fighters in the Spanish civil war. Most of them were within the orbit of the official Communist movement, which controlled and dominated the International Brigades – and also the narration of its later history.  As Gerben Zaagsma and Martin Sugarman argue, the Stalinist version of that history obscured the specifically Jewish dimension to their motivations. This Jewish dimension was retrieved in the 1970s and 1980s by Jewish radical groups like Jewish Currents in the US and Jewish Socialist in the UK. However, their important commemorative work tends to focus on the Communists of the International Brigades. Lenni  Brenner’s polemic Zionism in the Age of Dictators approached the issue from a different angle: showing that the Zionist movement had no interest in anti-fascism in Spain. However, although he also provides some interesting exceptions, his emphasis confirms the Stalinist historiography in marginalising the specifically Jewish motivations and the non-Stalinist participants.

In this blog post, I want to simply mention some of the Jewish participants in the Spanish Civil War who were also part of the anti-Stalinist movement, and specifically participants who were associated with the “Three and a Half International”, the anti-Stalinist socialist international that also included the Spanish POUM and the British ILP. The information is taken from Martin Sugarman, of AJEX, Association of Jewish Ex-Servicemen and Women, and his booklet Against Fascism. I have added hyperlinks. Material in italics comes from other sources, as given at the end of the extracts. (more…)

Roma Marquez Santo

I’m not sure whether or not I’ve linked already to this short interview with Roma Marquez Santo, POUM veteran of the Spanish Civil War, recently in Dublin. There is an inaccuracy in the title: I’m pretty sure Roma is not a veteran Spanish anarchist, but a veteran Spanish socialist, but thanks to WSM for publishing this anyway. He was in a POUM militia, and when the Popular Front government regularised the Republican army (as part of the Stalinist-led counter-revolution within the anti-fascist struggle) this became ‘s 29th Division. It was liquidated after the Barcelona “May events”, and after it was liquidated joined the 28th Division, which was basically an anarchist militia. Also, Roma was a member of the CNT (the anarcho-syndicalist affiliated union), whereas most Poumistas were in the UGT (the socialist affiliated union).

Sources: Helen Graham The Spanish Republic at War; Andy Durgan “The hidden story of the Spanish Revolution”; Harry Owens “Roma Martez Santo”.

P.S. Also at WSM: Biography of Dr John Creaghe, cosmopolitan Irish anarchist.

Poumist ephemera

This blog has been around long enough to now be the number one google hit for the term “Poumista”, and people clearly are coming here to find out about the POUM. However, I realise that I don’t have much actually about the POUM on this site. This post is not an attempt at any kind of comprehensive account of the POUM, but rather a disorganised pointer towards various sources of information, including some pieces of ephemera that I have recently come across.

First, some introductory texts: Poum at Wikipedia, Poum at Spartacus.

Other key wikipedia pages: Anti-Stalinist left, ILP Contingent, International Revolutionary Marxist Centre (aka London Bureau, Three and a Half International).

Recent bloggery: Justice Triumphs at La Bataille Socialiste, Markin on Trotsky on the POUM, Markin on the ortho-Trot International Communist League on the POUM, Markin on Andy Durgan on the POUM, Liam on Pierre Broué and Emile Teminé on the Spanish Civil War. All POUM posts at La Bataille Socialiste.

From the journals: The Spanish Left in its own words, Andy Durgan on the POUM and the Trotskyites, A Brandlerite militant in the POUM militia on the Huesca front, Keith Hassell on Trotsky on the POUM, Don Bateman on Georges Kopp and the Poum militias, Richardson and Rogers on Schwartz and Alba (Revolutionary History); A Danish Trotskyist in the POUM militia (What Next); The Foreign Legion of the Revolution (Libcom); Land and Freedom, Martine Vidal, The Hidden Story of the Revolution, Andy Durgan, The Meaning of a Defeat, Pelai Pagès (New Politics).

From the Marxist Internet Archive: The Manifesto of the POUM; Walter Held on Stalinism and the POUM; Pietro Fancelli Letters from Barcelona; The Weisbord Archive.

Ephemera: A Poum militia uniform. The flag of the Lenin Barracks; The flags of the Poum; The Philosophy Football POUM T-shirt.

My Poum pages: Roma Marquez Santo 2, Vicente Ferrer, Not Just Orwell…, Roma Marquez Santo, May 1, Poumish (a bloggish miscellany), From the archive of struggle, no.26, From the archive of struggle, no.7, Benjamin Péret: songs of the eternal rebels, Ramón J. Sender, Stephen Suleyman Schwartz on POUM historiography.

From the archive of struggle, no.29

This week, as a response to a visit from Julie Herrara, I am delighted to add the Labadie Collection to my blogroll, and to feature it here. Below the fold, much more, including Maurice Brinton, the 1946 RAF mutiny, and much more. Browse the whole series here.

The Joseph A. Labadie Collection, as its website describes it, is the oldest research collection of radical history in the United States, documenting a wide variety of international social protest movements of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. It is named for anarchist and labor organizer Joseph Antoine Labadie (1850-1933).

The website of the Colletion has a number of on-line exhibitions:  Jo Labadie and His Gift to Michigan: A Legacy for the Masses, Radical Responses to the Great Depression, Joseph Ishill and the Authors and Artists of the Oriole Press, The Soviet Invasion of Czechoslovakia, August 1968, Anarchist Images: Posters from the Labadie Collection.

Here are some of the treasures. Click on them to find yourself in the exhibition:

Among those I’ve featured here are the poster for a CNT speaker in New York, a Yiddish poster advertising Rudolf Rocker speaking about Spain, material relating to Norman Thomas and his Socialist Party, a magazine of the Marxist Workers League, and a novel by James Farrell.

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Roma Marquez Santo and John Cornford

Thanks to Ciaran Crossey for an article by Harry Owens about Poum veteran Roma Marquez Santo after his recent talk in Dublin. Highly recommended. [Related: Not Just Orwell.]

Thanks to faceless for the video of George Galloway talking about John Cornford on the BBC’s Great Lives. Recommended with reservations. [See also: The Scots who fought Franco; Brian Pearce on John Cornford.]

John Cornford (and Brian Pearce, and Leon Trotsky, and Trotsky’s Mercedes)

From Histomatist:

Browsing George Galloway’s site this morning, as one does, the following news announcement caught my eye:

George Galloway will be with host Matthew Parris on Great Lives – a weekly biographical series where each guest talks about a person in public life who is very special to them. George has chosen the poet John Cornford who was killed, tragically young, in the Spanish Civil War. He would like you to join him for 30 minutes to discover why he finds John’s life so inspirational.
Broadcasting on BBC Radio 4 on Tuesday the 18th of August at 4:30pm, then repeated on Friday the 21st at 11pm.
And also available on BBC iPlayer from 19th August.

The Communist poet John Cornford did indeed have a ‘great’ if tragically short, life – and the sacrifice of those like Cornford who gave their lives fighting fascism remains an utterly relevant inspiration for our anti-fascist struggle today. Cornford is clearly a hero for Galloway – see this characteristically short eloquent 2006 article – John Cornford and the Fight for the Spanish Republic – and his choice of a ‘Great Life’ and its timing – has to be applauded. However, one suspects that simply heralding Cornford as a ‘fighter for the Spanish Republic’ may actually miss not only some of the complexity of his politics but also downplay somewhat their revolutionary nature.

As the late great revolutionary historian Brian Pearce once noted, ‘Cornford was killed in action in December 1936, fighting with the International Brigade in Spain. His writings while in Spain suggest that, had he lived, his Marxist approach would have brought him into conflict with Stalinism.’ Pearce referred to John Cornford: A Memoir, edited by Pat Sloan (1938), which ‘consists of selections from the writings of the young man to whom the socialist movement in the universities in that period owed more than to anybody else, together with contributions by people who knew him.’ As Pearce noted,

For Cornford the struggle in Spain was ‘a revolutionary war’. ‘In Catalonia at least the overwhelming majority of the big employers went over to the fascists. Thus the question of socialism was placed on the order of the day.’ The Spanish Communist Party should ‘force recognition from the government of the social gains of the revolution’. Cornford feared that the party was ‘a little too mechanical in its application of People’s Front tactics. It is still concentrating too much on trying to neutralize the petty bourgeoisie – when by far the most urgent task is to win the anarchist workers…’

Though he had no time for anarchism, Cornford saw that the main body of militant workers in the principal industrial region of Spain, around Barcelona, were anarchists, and, being a sincere communist, that meant for him that the party’s task was first and foremost to get among those workers, establish close ties with them, and win them for Marxism. The line actually taken by the Stalinists was first to stick a label on the anarchist workers (‘uncontrollables’, the 1937 equivalent of ‘Left adventurists’), then to work up a pogrom spirit against them among the followers of the Communist Party, and finally to attack and decimate them, using an armed force recruited among former policemen and the middle class.

I do hope George Galloway’s discussion of Cornford will find time to condemn the counter-revolutionary nature of Stalinism in revolutionary Spain, though something tells me I shouldn’t get my hopes up too much on this score.

Speaking of Pearce, those with access to a university library might check out the latest issue of Revolutionary Russia (v. 22, no. 1 (June 2009) which carries a long obituary alongside two tributes from academic historians, and those without might check out the latest issue of Revolutionary History which also has an obituary.

I am indebted to POUMista for drawing my attention to this photo of George Orwell – another witness to the counter-revolutionary nature of Stalinism in Spain of course – which as POUMista notes ‘highlights the fact that Orwell, although thought of by some as a Little Englander, was fundamentally an internationalist and cosmopolitan, and in many senses a postcolonial figure.’

Finally, POUMista also drew my attention to Reading the Maps on the late Leszek Kolakowski whose passing seems to have caused no end of debate and turmoil on the blogosphere.

For a similar, slightly harsher, take on Galloway on Corford, see this old post by Bob. Bob does not like George Galloway. (For non-Scots mystified by the Brigada‘s intervention: sleekit, sook.) On Kolakowski, I think I missed Peter Ryley’s excellent “cool reflection”.

Also from Histomatist:

Sorry, a bit irrelevant I know, but I was digging through some old files and, well, speaking of Trotsky, I came across this snippet on page 28 of With Trotsky in Exile by Jean Van Heijenoort which I thought ought to be shared with Histomat readers. It’s about when Trotsky tried to learn to drive at some point during the 1920s.

Trotsky, when still in Russia, had expressed the desire to have a car and to drive. Joffe, a Soviet diplomat and friend of Trotsky, sent him from abroad a Mercedes, specially equipped with a powerful engine. Trotsky took the wheel and, after five hundred yards, went into a ditch. That was the end of the driving.

On this day: 19 August

From The Daily Bleed:

Federico García Lorca

1864 — Spain: Juan (also spelled Joan) Montseny (aka Federico Urales) lives (1864-1942), Reus, Catalonia. Teacher, novelist, publisher, anarchist militant, companion of Teresa Mañé (Soledad Gustavo) & father of Federica Montseny. [Details / context]
Pierre Jules Ruff, anarchiste
1877 — Algeria: Pierre Jules Ruff lives (1877-1942), Algiers. Militant anarchist & antimilitarist. Arrested & perished in a Nazi concentration camp.
[Details / context]

book cover1888 — Spain: In Seville, Ricardo Mella republishes the newspaper “Solidaridad” which is, as Max Nettlau characterizes it, one of the last ramparts of anarcho-collectivism in Spain. On January 12, 1889 it publishes his article, “La Anarquía no admite adjetivos” (Anarchy needs no adjectives).  [Source: L’Ephéméride Anarchiste] http://www.hetera.org/mella.html

1892: A young Italian woman, Maria Roda, crossed the Atlantic & settled in Paterson in 1892 after dedicating several years of activism to militant workers’ struggles in Italy, France, Portugal, Spain, & England.Garment WorkersShe arrived with her partner, the prominent Spanish anarcho-syndicalist Pedro Esteve, & immediately impressed seasoned radicals & rank-&-file workers with her ability to rouse the masses with the spoken word. While raising eight children & laboring in the silk mills, Maria & Pedro became intellectual leaders within the Paterson circolo & led efforts to organize Italian textile workers into the industrial union movement that was rapidly spreading throughout the country. A charismatic & powerful speaker, Maria regularly accompanied Pedro to Tampa & New York City to assist & support the collective struggles of Puerto Rican, Mexican, Cuban, Spanish, & Italian textile, cigar, & dock workers.

In 1906 she began a series of essays with the title “Alle Donne, Emancipiamoci!” (To the Women: Let’s Emancipate Ourselves!) See Jennifer Guglielmo’s article, archived at the Stan Iverson Memorial Library, Donne Sovversive: The History of Italian-American Women’s Radicalism /library/DonneSovversive.htm

1909 — Jerzy Andrzejewski lives. Polish novelist, short-story writer, & political dissident.

Portrayed in Czeslaw Milosz’s Captive Mind (1953), which revealed the problems of intellectuals living under Stalinism.

In the 1950s & ’60s Andrzejewski moved towards more or less open criticism of the government, starting from the novel The Inquisitors (tr. 1960). His ambiguities of style & thought eluded simplistic interpretation & several of his works went unpublished. In 1979 he helped found the workers’ defence committee (KOR) to aid families of striking workers, who were jailed or dismissed from their jobs.


IWW black cat1909 — First edition of The Little Red Songbook published.

http://www.bloomington.in.us/~mitch/iww/lrs.html

1911 — Source=Robert Braunwart Mexico: Huerta’s troops battle the anarchist Zapatistas, El Texcal & Tetillas.

1920 — Russia: Start of peasant insurrection in Tambov; Bolsheviks unable to suppress the revolt until May 1921. Similar problems had arisen in 1917, when peasants seized land from the gentry, reaching the level of near insurrection in Tambov.


http://www.spunk.org/texts/places/russia/sp001861/bolintro.html
http://www.angelfire.com/nb/revhist17/

1936 — USSR: Purge Trials begin, “Darkness at Noon”. August 19-25, Trial of the Sixteen in Moscow. Convicted of high treason in the first of the Moscow show trials, the old Bolsheviks Kamenev & Zinoviev (former pals of Stalin & Trotsky) are executed. Smirnov executed. Radek placed under arrest.
http://fbuch.com/posters.htm

1936 — Federico García Lorca dies. Andalusian poet/dramatist/artist. Murdered by Franco’s fascists. Accused of subversive activity, however evidence today suggests that it was a hate crime in response to his homosexuality. His writings remained censored until Franco died in 1975. Despite this, Lorca became one of the most widely read writers in the world.

Garcia Lorca

Gacela of the Dark Death

I want to sleep the dream of the apples,
to withdraw from the tumult of cemeteries,
I want to sleep the dream of that child
who wanted to cut his heart on the high seas.
I don't want to hear again that the dead do not lose their blood,
that the putrid mouth goes on asking for water.
I don't want to learn of the tortures of the grass,
nor of the moon with a serpent's mouth
that labors before dawn.
I want to sleep awhile,
awhile, a minute, a century;
but all must know that i have not died;
that there is a stable of gold in my lips;
that i am the small friend of the West wing;
that i am the intense shadow of my tears.
Cover me at dawn with a veil.
because dawn will throw fistfuls of ants at me.
and wet with hard water my shoes
so that the pincers of the scorpion slide.
For i want to sleep the dream of the apples,
to learn a lament that will cleanse me of the earth;
for i want to live with that dark child
who wanted to cut his heart on the high seas.

1936 — Spain: Camillo Berneri, after organizing an Italian anarchist column within the Francisco Ascaso Column in the Pedralbes barracks (renamed “Bakunin”), with Angeloni & de Santillán (from the CNTFAI), leaves Barcelona for the Aragonese front.

Berneri landed in Catalonia on July 25 with a cargo of rifles & ammunition. Berneri hosted a rally before 100,000 people in Plaza de los Toros in Barcelona before departing for the front. His unit engages the attacking Nationalist army on the 23rd of this month & drove them back. Because of problems with his vision & hearing, Berneri was sent back to Barcelona. There he worked to warn people about the important implications of the imminent fascist landings in the Balearic Isles, did propaganda work, attacked the Madrid government for its politics of compromise which were damaging Catalan autonomy, & criticized the ambiguous behaviour of the French & English governments. He wrote for ‘Guerra di Classe’, & often visited the ‘Amigos de Durruti ‘ (Friends of Durutti) before Communist agents murdered him in 1937.

http://www.municipio.re.it/manifestazioni/berneri/dopo.htm
http://www.uncwil.edu/hst/homepage/faculty/Seidman2.htm

2000 — Luce Fabbri, (1908-2000) dies. A life-long anarchist thinker, writer & activist.

Luce FabbriLuce died of a heart attack in Montevideo, Uruguay at the age of 92. She wrote many books, including biographies of her father, the famed Italian anarchist Luigi Fabbri, Elisée Reclus, & Machiavelli. She lectured widely & produced numerous books on anarchism, as well as collections of poetry (La poesìa de Leopardi (1971)). Wrote Influenza della letteratura italiana sulla cultura rioplatense (two volumesHer latest book was La Libertad entre la Historia y la Utopia: Tres Ensayos y Otros Textos del Siglo XX (Freedom in History & Utopia; Three Essays & Other Texts of the 20th Century [REA, 1998, 145 pages]). Her life will be documented in a forthcoming biography by Margareth Rago.
http://www.anarchist-studies.org/8whatshappening.htm
http://ytak.club.fr/juillet4.html#25

On this day: 7 August

At the bottom of the post, below the fold, book notes and the archive of struggle.

On this day, from Anarchoefemerides:

On this day in 1900, in Mexico, Regeneración: Periódico Jurídico Independiente was founded by Jesús Flores Magón,  Antonio Horcasitas, and Ricardo Flores Magón. This was a key event in Mexican anarchism and in starting the Mexican revolution. Read more here, here and here.

On this day in 1894, in Gijón in Asturias, Avelino González Mallada was born. He died earlier this month. Orphaned when he was six, he was brought up by his grandmother, and started work at a factory aged 11. In 1911 he joined the National Confederation of Labor (CNT) and was fired shortlywards. After a spell in Paris, he returned to Spain and, blacklisted for his politics, worked in the anarchist movement, editing periodicals likeVida Obrera and Solidaridad and teaching in libertarian schools. y, luego, de CNT de Madrid. During the Civil War, he supported the Popular Front and was active in its military defence, in the Provincial Committee of the Popular Front in Oviedo and later the Defense Committee in Gijón and the Commissariat of War on behalf of the CNT. On October 15, 1936, he was elected mayor of Gijón. In 1938, he was appointed special delegate of the General Council of the International Solidarity Antifascist and moved to United States to seek help. There he died in a car accident on March 27, 1938. [Source/Source]

On this day in 1927, there were global demonstrations against the execution in the US of the Italian anarchists Sacco and Vanzetti. In Paris, 200,000 supporters marched. More on Sacco and Venzetti from the People’s Informative.

Continue reading for reviews of books on Mandel, Silone, Orwell and Berlin and for archival material on Brinton, James, Dunayevskaya and others.

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In the cause of freedom

From Coatesy:

¡Ay, Carmela!

Last night because  there was crap on the telly I watched my old video of ¡Ay, Carmela!

What a brilliant film.

Apart from the fact that it has like my favourite actress in the world, Carmen Maura there. If anyone wants to understand the Spanish fight  against fascism, this is a must see. When she stands up for the brave Poles who fought for the International Brigades. Well…

¡Ay Carmela! ¡Ay Carmela!
prometemos combatir, ¡Ay Carmela! ¡Ay Carmela!

From On A Raised Beach:

Names

Norwich North was no surprise, though the Tories, duck-houses, moats and all, should have come in for a greater caning than they did. Good to see the Greens beat the fash and, best of all, to see the Libertarians get all of 36 votes. It looks as if the good folk of East Anglia aren’t yet ready for John Galt [not, if it comes to disambiguation, the author of the still very amusing 1820 novel The Ayrshire Legatees]. The name ‘libertarian’ in this context means 70% Stirnerite, 20% Poujadiste and 10% foumart. OK, the quantities can be re-arranged to suit all tastes. Whatever way you mix the components they are not ‘libertarians’ in the sense that would be recognised by the FIJL, Federación Ibérica de Juventudes Libertarias, the youth wing of the Spanish anarchist movement in the 1930s. They were part of a movement that was against the state all right, but also against private property, fiercely anti-clerical, for self-managed collectives and for direct democracy. Oh, and they turned the Ritz Hotel in Barcelona into a workers’ canteen. As a help to confused parties a real libertarian is pictured above.

Below the fold, some music and movies. Not sure why the YouTubes embedded have failed to appear. Have hyperlinked instead.
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Clement Atlee for today

Clement Atlee speaks before Picasso's Guernica at the Whitechapel GalleryAlthough he is a little reformist and socialism-from-above for me, I have a soft spot for Clement Atlee, not least because he went to Spain in 1937 to support the Republican cause, and because he was involved in getting Picasso’s “Guernica” to the Whitechapel gallery. Here is Carl Packman on the relevance of Atlee in the economic crisis today (version 1, version 2).

While we’re kind of on the subject (well, very loosely), here’s one labour movement activist’s thoughts on Tolpuddle. And here’s Champagne Charlie on the last British veteran of World War I.

Vicente Ferrer

Martin in the Margins writes:

A saint of social action

Every now and then I read about someone who has managed to combine in their life elements that remain fragmented and conflicted in my own – and to accomplish things that make the achievements of ordinary mortals seem trifling. Yesterday’s Guardian carried an obituary for Vicente Ferrer, who fought for the POUM during the Spanish Civil War and was imprisoned by Franco, then trained to be a Jesuit priest, with the idea of ‘helping others’:

In 1952 he volunteered to go to India. At first he devoted himself to his spiritual development in Pune, but, surrounded by desolation, he soon moved from reflection to action. He started with a school and 12 acres of land at Manmad, north-east of Mumbai. In an arid area, he persuaded farmers to dig wells, offering them oil and wheat while they dug. Then, the digger of one well would help another, in a system Ferrer termed “linked brotherhood”.

He was to spend the rest of his life in India, entering into conflict with landowners and political bosses because of his co-operative methods, emphasis on education and challenges to the caste system and to the subjugation of women. He lived and worked among the poorest, especially the dalits (untouchables), who lacked all rights and were mostly illiterate.

Ferrer’s approach was rather different from that other European missionary in India, Mother Theresa:

“Misery and suffering are not meant to be understood, but to be solved,” and “I’ve declared war on pain and suffering” were two phrases that helped him raise money, not just from leftwing Catholics (he was never friends with the church hierarchy, who were unrepresented at his funeral) but from a wide base of donors.

His achievements seem to have been nothing short of heroic:

By the time of Ferrer’s death, his foundation had opened and supported 1,700 village schools, serving 125,000 children and employing 2,000 teachers, and three general hospitals with 1,300 staff. It had planted 3m trees and opened libraries, an Aids clinic and family-planning clinics. It organised wells and irrigation schemes. Several projects focus on women, especially dalits, whose lives are blighted by constant childbearing, rape and murder.

If you have to have saints, then Ferrer sounds like a pretty good candidate.

From the Michael Eaude obituary:

Ferrer was born in Barcelona. Just before the outbreak of the Spanish civil war in 1936, he joined the revolutionary party POUM (Partido Obrero de Unificación Marxista, or the Workers’ Party of Marxist Unification). He fought in the Battle of the Ebro in late 1938 and, like many, was forced to retreat all the way into France with the Republic’s defeated army. There he was interned in the Argelès-sur-Mer camp. Returning to Spain, he was sent for the rest of 1939 to Franco’s Betanzos concentration camp before being forced to do three years’ military service. He then began to study law, but gave it up in 1944 to train as a Jesuit priest, with the idea of “helping others”.

Published in: on July 25, 2009 at 10:22 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Blog notes

I don’t recommend Fatal Paradox often enough. This post is very, very interesting and very pertinent to the issues this blog covers. Extract:

Reading Mark Derby’s book Kiwi Compañeros (which compiles a wealth of primary source material detailing the involvement of New Zealanders in the Spanish Civil War) recently I was struck by the disjunction between the confused and often demoralising experiences of the some of the participants whose stories were reproduced in that volume and the traditional leftist narrative according to which the Spanish Civil War was the most glorious hour of the Popular Front and the struggle against Fascism.

I managed to miss this post at Boffy’s blog, introducing some of Comrade Bough’s favourite blogs, including, I am pleased to say, this one, and I find myself in fine company indeed. Not sure, though, I agree with Serge’s Fist’s analysis of the United Front and Popular Front, but need to read it more carefully. (And certainly I would endorse Trotsky’s excellent advice to the ILP. It is not unlike the advice I would give to the AWL in its foolishly positive response to the SWP’s sham unity letter, but that’s for another place.) Again, it’s a bit off the topic of this blog, but Arthur has some good posts about Iran.

I have other favours to acknowledge: Peter Storm for Vrije landen tegen Che en Obama, TNC for Friday round-up, Bob for Remembering Steve Cohen, Martin for Balancing beatitude and Loach, Garaudy and the reactionary left, Histomatist for In Defence of Leon Trotsky.

Talking of Ken Loach, here’s Norm on Loach’s strangebedfellows, the Chinese totalitarian regime. And, staying with Norm, on another topic I’ve covered here: Marx and politics, Kolakowski notwithstanding

And some other Histomatist posts of note: Sheila Rowbotham on the Tolpuddle Martyrs, Homage to John Saville and Hubert Harrison on how to review books. John Saville also got a lovely appreciation from Doreen Massey and Hilary Wainwright in the Gruaniad. Hubert Harrison features in this ISJ review.

Finally, also in ISJ, this is important: Luke Stobart’s review of Michael Eaude’s Triumph at Midnight of the Century: A Critical Biography of Arturo Barea. Barea is a vastly underrated person in the English-speaking world.

Arturo Barea

Arturo Barea: This drawing originally appeared with An Honest Man (March 6, 1975)