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Aug 262014
 

alberolagransacpalma“No longer does innovation come about through parties, trade unions, bureaucracies or politics. It is now dependent on individual moral concern. No longer do we look to political theory for an indication of what we should be doing; we need no tutors. The change is ideological and it runs deep.”

(M Foucault, 1978)

Back in 1978 I opened an article on the topic “Ethics and Revolution – the dialectical tension of the age” [i] with the quotation above from Michel Foucault; not merely to underline the change that was taking place in terms of social transformation but also because it struck me that that change was of great significance to anarchism and liberation struggles.

More than three decades have now passed since then and the course of history has repeatedly borne out what, back then, was more than plain to be seen: that “innovation no longer comes about through parties, trade unions, bureaucracies and politics”, that “nobody looks to political theory any more for guidance as to what we should be doing” and that “we have no need of tutors”. This does not mean, however, that there is not still an insistence – coming from various strands of the left (institutional left and supposedly “alternative” left alike) – upon the need to theorise about action before setting about it and that some grassroots groups are not still on the look-out for tutors …

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Aug 232014
 

AnodelaVictoriaEL ANO DE LA VICTORIA. Memorias de la Guerra Civil Española 1936-39 por Eduardo de Guzmán. (Check out all Kindle editions of ChristieBooks titles) NOW AVAILABLE ON KINDLE — £2.47  READ INSIDE!

UK : £2.47 ; USA : $4.00 ; Germany : €3.08; France :  €3.08 ; Spain:  €3.08 ; Italy :  €3.08 ; Japan : ¥ 409 ; Canada : CDN$ 4.36 ; Brazil : R$ 8.86 ; Mexico: $52.30 ; Australia : $4.29 ; India : R243

Nacido en Villada (Palencia) en 1909 pero residente en Madrid hace medio siglo, Eduardo de Guzmán inicía muy joven sus actividades profesionales trabajando en diversos periódicos. En 1930 es nombrado redactor jefe del diario madrileño «La Tierra», cargo que desempeña durante cinco años. En 1935 pasa a «La Libertad» como editorialista y redactor político. En febrero de 1937 se le designa director del periódico matutino «Castilla Libre», órgano de la C.N T en la capital de España.

THE YEAR OF VICTORY is the second volume (in Spanish) of Eduardo de Guzmán’s riveting memoir, telling the story of Spain’s social revolution and Civil War, and the aftermath of the Francoist victory. It gives an unputdownable first-hand account of the tragic fate of defeated republican prisoners detained at the port of Alicante on 1 April 1939. Guzmán’s richly descriptive story of their gruelling three-month odyssey which took them, from Alicante, through the horrors of the Los Almendros and Albatera concentration camps, to their ultimate destination, a sinister Falangist building in Madrid’s Calle de Almargo. The book exposes the entire repressive apparatus of Francoist bloodlust in the aftermath of ‘victory’.

The author was editor of the Madrid-based Castilla Libre, the daily newspaper of the revolutionary workers’ union, the National Confederation of Labour (CNT), between February 1937 and March 1939. For me he is the Spanish Solzhenitsyn – the chronicler and indicter of one of Europe’s most enduring and bloodsoaked fascist regimes, one that killed more Spaniards than Hitler killed Germans. Guzmán’s insights and painstaking descriptions of his fellow prisoners, guards, conditions of confinement – the whole world of captivity – had me gripped all the way, from the fall of Alicante until the moment he and his comrades are delivered into the hands of the triumphalist, spiteful secret police and Falangist captors. My personal memories date from 24 years after the events described here — and are nowhere near as dramatic — but all the same I recognise each and every one of the situations and characters — oppressors and victims — and empathise with the latter every step of the way. One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich exposed the brutalities of Stalin’s faraway prison system, Guzmán’s The Year of Victory does the same for Franco’s ignored gulag archipelago just the other side of the Pyrenees. The pity is that this three-volume Civil War masterpiece — La muerte de la esperanza (1973); El año de la victoria (1974) and Nosotros los asesinos: memorias de la guerra de España (1976) — remains more or less unrecognised in the very country whose history, vast areas of which still remain suppressed today — albeit more subtly — he tells so movingly.

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Aug 172014
 
Guillamon

Agustín Guillamón, historian of the proletarian revolution in Barcelona in 1936

Agustín Guillamón was born in Barcelona in 1950, the son of textile workers. From the age of 13 he lived in the working class barrio of Poble Nou and later in La Verneda. He graduated from the University of Barcelona in contemporary history; his dissertation, under the supervision of Muniesa, dealt with the activism and political thought of Amadeo Bordiga.

He has published four books on the 1936 revolution, ‘Barricadas en Barcelona‘, ‘Els Comités de Defensa en Barcelona 1936-1938,La Revolución de los Comités‘, and most recently La Guerra del Pan. Hambre y violencia en Barcelona revolucionaria. De diciembre de 1936 a mayo de 1937 wherein he provides a platform for the protagonists of the revolution themselves. His books are essential reading for anyone investigating the revolution and for any Catalan eager to know what happened in Barcelona during the revolution and the counter-revolution in 1937. Agustín Guillamón lets the protagonists speak for themselves and this entails complicated and dogged research. A non-directional, non-interpretative, superb way of showing us the history by letting the ‘cast’ do the talking. Vital books on self-organisation among the Barcelona proletariat, mostly, the handiwork of a non-aligned historian involved in class struggle.

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Jul 252014
 
7Company

Martín Bernal is front row, second from the left

Eduardo Pons Prades, an acknowledged expert on the subject of resistance by Spanish republicans in France, in that he had fought as one of them and published a number of works on his adventures, invoked the Spanish exodus towards the French border at the end of the civil war, the treatment doled out to the Spanish refugees, the outbreak of the Second World War, the part played by Spaniards during the German invasion of France, the beginnings of partisan warfare in an exclusive series of articles for Historia 16. In the fifth instalment – using, as ever, the technique of allowing the protagonists to speak for themselves – he introduces us to the organisation of guerrillas, Spanish recruitment into the regular units of the renascent French army, the Spaniards’ part in the liberation of France and the beginnings of operations by “maquisards” inside Spain. (See also Spanish Republicans in the Liberation of Paris)

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Jul 222014
 
Alain-Pecunia-1965

Alain Pecunia-1965 (Carabanchel Prison)

“Those were bright and happy years. Awesome times! We were out to make revolution. Was it worth it? On that I am clear; it was worth it!” So says an amiable and chatty Alain Pecunia in a phone conversation from his Paris home. Thereby summing up his teenage years back in the 60s, divided between De Gaulle’ France and Franco’s Spain. Alain Pecunia’s story is little known this side of the Pyrenees, although his life has a lot to do with Spain and anti-Francoism. In 2004 he wrote an account of those years in Les ombres ardentes. Un francais de 17 ans dans les prisons franquistes (The Burning Shadows. A 17 Year-Old Frenchman in Franco’s Prisons). “There is a lot of talk about the intellectuals who opposed Franco but very little is said of the workers and peasants who did so. Which is why I wrote the book”, he says. “In Carabanchel prison I ran into peasants from Valencia and miners from Mieres. I dedicate Les ombres ardentes to them, lest we forget about their struggle.” (en Français – en Español)

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Jul 172014
 

StepniakCover1aTHE RUSSIAN PEASANT by ‘Stepniak’. Introduced by Martyn Everett (Check out all Kindle editions of ChristieBooks titles) NOW AVAILABLE ON KINDLE — £3.01  READ INSIDE!

UK£3.01 ; USA : $5.00 ; Germany : €3.78 ; France :  €3.78 ; Spain:  €3.78 ; Italy : 3.78 ; Japan : ¥ 507 ; Canada : CDN$ 5.37 ; Brazil : R$ 11.10 ; Mexico: $64.98 ; Australia : $5.32 ; India : R300

Ukranian Nihilist Sergei Stepniak’s compelling study of the Russian peasant. Published over 120 years ago in the time of Nicholas II (but mostly written in the time of Alexander III) it describes the social plight of the peasant in 19th century Russia and the collective forms of social organisation they adopted that could have provided the basis for the development of Russia as a free and egalitarian society. Perhaps more importantly from a contemporary perspective, it helps explains the influence of revived orthodox and non-orthodox religion that persists at the cultural and political heart of modern-day Russia. A timeless and powerful insight into the Russian psyche, national culture and rural history. Focusing on village life, agricultural labourers, the landed gentry, the churches and sects, Stepniak examines the social structures of the village and artisanal communes, and illustrates the intimate connection between patriarchal theocracy, the parochial clergy, popular religious faith and the Russian peasantry. Invaluable for anyone interested in — or wishing to understand — the roots of Vladimir Putin’s ultra-conservative nationalism and his territorial ambitions.

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Jul 132014
 
AlicanteStanbrook

Soldados Italianos en el puerto de Alicante, 1 de Abril 1939

LA MUERTE DE LA ESPERANZA. Segunda parte: EL PUERTO DE ALICANTE (Así terminó la guerra de España) por Eduardo de Guzmán. (Check out all Kindle editions of ChristieBooks titles) NOW AVAILABLE ON KINDLE — £2.40  READ INSIDE!

UK : £2.40 ; USA : $4.00 ; Germany : €3.03 ; France :  €3.03 ; Spain:  €3.03 ; Italy :  €3.03 ; Japan : ¥ 408 ; Canada : CDN$ 4.26 ; Brazil : R$ 8.86 ; Mexico: $51.90 ; Australia : $4.27 ; India : R239

Nacido en Villada (Palencia) en 1909 pero residente en Madrid hace medio siglo, Eduardo de Guzmán inicía muy joven sus actividades profesionales trabajando en diversos periódicos. En 1930 es nombrado redactor jefe del diario madrileño «La Tierra», cargo que desempeña durante cinco años. En 1935 pasa a «La Libertad» como editorialista y redactor político. En febrero de 1937 se le designa director del periódico matutino «Castilla Libre», órgano de la C.N T en la capital de España.

Alicanteport

El Puerto de Alicante

«LA MUERTE DE LA ESPERANZA» recoge las memorias personales del autor en los primeros y los últimos días de la guerra de España. Dividida en dos partes, la primera —«Nuestro día más largo»— es un relato vivido y dramático de la cambiante situación de Madrid durante las jornadas febriles y azarosas del 17 al 20 de julio de 1936; una narración de los comienzos de la trágica contienda en los centros oficiales, las redacciones de los periódicos, las sedes de los sindicatos obreros y especialmente en la calle donde millares de luchadores anónimos se aprestaban a combatir a morir de ser preciso, en defensa de sus respectivos ideales. La segunda parte «El Puerto de Alicante», se inicia el 28 de marzo de 1939, cuando la suerte de la guerra está ya decidida, con la difícil y accidentada salida de Madrid, el éxodo republicano hacia las costas mediterráneas, la vida en Valencia durante las horas postreras del Consejo Nacional de Defensa y la concentración en Alicante de cuantos intentan expatriarse. Finaliza con las angustiosas jornadas del puerto donde millares de personas se debaten setenta y dos horas entre la ilusión y la desesperanza, arrinconadas contra el mar por el avance de las fuerzas vencedoras, esperando unos barcos que no llegan y sin otras salidas que la rendición o la muerte. Concluyen las memorias en la mañana del 1 de abril con la entrega de los que aún se encuentran en los muelles y el suicidio de quienes no pueden, o no quieren, sobreponerse al dolor de la gran derrota.

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Jun 262014
 

MuertedeEsperanza1LA MUERTE DE LA ESPERANZA. Primera parte: NUESTRO DIA MAS LARGO (Así comenzó la guerra de España) por Eduardo de Guzmán. (Check out all Kindle editions of ChristieBooks titles) NOW AVAILABLE ON KINDLE — £2.42  READ INSIDE!

UK : £2.42 ; USA : $4.00 ; Germany : €3.02 ; France :  €3.02 ; Spain:  €3.02 ; Italy :  €3.02 ; Japan : ¥ 406 ; Canada : CDN$ 4.27 ; Brazil : R$ 8.78 ; Mexico: $51.85 ; Australia : $4.24

III: DOMINGO, 19 DE JULIO

La calle de la Luna está a cuatro pasos de la redacción de «La Libertad». Apenas leído el manifiesto de la C. N. T abandono el periódico para volver a los locales de la organización confederal en busca de noticias. Son ya las doce y media de la noche y acaba de comenzar un nuevo día — el 19 de julio— que puede y debe ser decisivo para el futuro de todos.

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Jun 232014
 

MuertedeEsperanza1LA MUERTE DE LA ESPERANZA. Primera parte: NUESTRO DIA MAS LARGO (Así comenzó la guerra de España) por Eduardo de Guzmán. (Check out all Kindle editions of ChristieBooks titles) NOW AVAILABLE ON KINDLE — £2.42  READ INSIDE!

UK : £2.42 ; USA : $4.00 ; Germany : €3.02 ; France :  €3.02 ; Spain:  €3.02 ; Italy :  €3.02 ; Japan : ¥ 406 ; Canada : CDN$ 4.27 ; Brazil : R$ 8.78 ; Mexico: $51.85 ; Australia : $4.24

II: SÁBADO, 18 DE JULIO

A medida que avanza la noche, va disminuyendo la animación en el periódico. Los amigos que han acudido en busca de noticias se van un poco decepcionados. También aquellos redactores o colaboradores que otros días no aparecen por la redacción, y que hoy han hecho una excepción, trasnochando más que de costumbre. A las dos de la madrugada sólo quedamos los mismos que cualquier otra noche. De cuando en cuando, llamamos a uno u otro lado o nos llaman los compañeros destacados en la Dirección General de Seguridad. La impresión continúa siendo la misma. A las tres, el propio director decide irse a dormir.

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Jun 222014
 

 Paris, 15 October 1945

1635ArmandRobin

Armand Robin (1912 – 1961) French poet, translator, and journalist.

Talentless offspring of the bourgeoisie,

If I refer to you thus, it is because it is the fairest way of describing you:

1) The Stalinist party is out to murder all revolutionary thinking and all thinking, period; it knows that it cannot look to writers drawn from among the people for such villainy, but it finds its finest lackeys among the failures of the bourgeoisie; for their part, the offspring of bourgeois, for want of talent, have need of a party to argue with a straight face that they have some, one that lets them in on the easiest way to “get ahead”; since such offspring of the bourgeoisie have no scruples when it comes to the people, they see no harm in playing along with the stultification of the masses and the destruction of all popular feelings. Today we can posit it pretty much as a general rule that a writer is owned by Stalinism in the degree to which he is bourgeois and an upstart.

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