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 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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Jun 142014
 
Domela

Ferdinand Domela Nieuwenhuis (1846 –1919)

CHAPTER 4: ANARCHISM AS PROPHYLACTIC

Anarchists were the first to insist upon the hierarchical and oligarchical consequences of party organisation. Their view of the defects of organisation is much clearer than that of socialists and even than that of syndicalists. They resist authority as the source of servility and slavery, if not the source of all the ills of the world. For them constraint is “synonymous with prison and police.” 1 They know how readily the individualism of the leaders checks and paralyses the socialism of the led. In order to elude this danger, anarchists, notwithstanding the practical inconveniences entailed, have refrained from constituting a party, at least in the strict sense of the term. Their adherents are not organized under any stable form. They are not united by any discipline. They know nothing of obligations or duties, such as elections, pecuniary contributions, participation in regular meetings, and so on.

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Jun 132014
 
Bakunin2

Michael Bakunin (1814 –1876)

CHAPTER II: THE POSTULATE OF RENUNCIATION

The dissolution of the democratic consciousness of the leaders may doubtless be retarded, if not completely arrested, by the influence of intellectual or purely ideological factors. “So long as the guidance and representation of the party remains in the hands of persons who have grown grey in the great tradition of socialism,”1 so long, that is to say, as the party is still dominated by vigorous socialistic idealism, it is possible that in certain conditions the leaders will retain their ancient democratic sentiments, and that they will continue to regard themselves as the servitors of the masses from whom their power is derived. We have already discussed the drastic measures that have been proposed to prevent the embourgeoisement of the leaders of proletarian origin. But it is not enough to prevent the proletarian elements among the leaders from adopting a bourgeois mode of life; it is also essential, on this line of thought, to insist upon the proletarianization of the leaders of bourgeois origin. In order to render it impossible for the socialist intellectuals to return to their former environment it has been proposed to insist that they should assimilate the tenor of their lives to that of the proletarian masses, and should thus descend to the level of their followers. It is supposed that their bourgeois instincts would undergo atrophy if their habits were to be in external respects harmonized as closely as possible with those of the proletariat.

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Jun 062014
 

barrikaden[1]It is often supposed that revolution is something distinct from evolution. But if we examine the history of the past two hundred years or so it becomes evident that revolution and evolution are part and parcel of a single process. As Alexander Berkman observed: ‘Revolution is merely the boiling point of evolution‘ (What is Communist Anarchism? New York, 1972, p. 226). The problem for political scientists and revolutionaries alike, is, however, identifying when and under what economic, cultural and social circumstances evolutionary change becomes revolutionary.

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Jun 052014
 

This article is abridged from a talk by the author to the Cambridge branch of DAM/IWA on 8 August 1985

Prise_de_la_Bastille

The Storming of the Bastille, July 14 1789

‘…you ask me what I seek in life. I wish neither to dominate nor be dominated. I wish neither to dissimulate nor deceive; nor do I wish to exert myself to acquire what I am told is necessary, but of which I do not feel the need.’ — N. G. Chernyshevsky, What Is To Be Done? (1863)

REVOLUTION is a much used term but rarely is it discussed in a way that sheds any light on what the process actually involves. Revolutionaries themselves more often than not refer to it only in passing, or in terms of some historical myth dictated by whatever their particular ideology happens to be. The actual historical events of revolutions are either overlooked or tailored to fit a prefabricated political dogma. So let us get away from this habit and look at what we mean when we talk about revolution.

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Apr 032014
 

GombinTHE REVOLUTIONARY PROJECT. Towards a sociology of the events of May-June 1968 (Kindle Edition) by Richard Gombin (Translated by Paul Sharkey). First published in France in 1969, as Le Projet révolutionnaire, éléments d’une sociologie des événements de mai-juin 1968 Check out all Kindle editions of ChristieBooks titles  — £1.24/€1.49/$2.20  READ INSIDE!  ¡LEER EL INTERIOR! UK : £1.24 ; USA : $2.20 ; Germany : €1.49 ; France :  €1.49 ; Spain:  €1.49 ; Italy:  €1.49 ; Japan: ¥ 206 ; India: R120 : Canada: CDN$ 2.21 ; Brazil: R$4.52 ; Mexico: $26.15 ; Australia: $2.16

French Council Communist Richard Gombin’s ‘sociological’ study of ‘The May Events’ of France 1968 — a libertarian analysis (focusing primarily on events between May 3 and 13 June) that examines the links between the leftist groups (the ‘groupuscules’) and the various factors that contributed to the revolutionary threat to the French state during the summer of that year…

Mar 132014
 

FerrerCover6300The Origin and Ideals of the Modern School by Francisco Ferrer. First published 1913 by Watts & Co, 17 Johnson’s Court, Fleet Street, London, E.C.

The Origin and Ideals of The Modern School, Francisco Ferrer i Guardia (translated by Joseph McCabe) Kindle edition. First published by ChristieBooks in 2014 —  Check out all Kindle editions of ChristieBooks titles  — £1.24/€1.48/$2.10  READ INSIDE!  ¡LEER EL INTERIOR!

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Table of Contents

INTRODUCTION……………………………………………………………………………………………. 3

Chapter I — THE BIRTH OF MY IDEALS………………………………………………………. 6

Chapter II — MLLE. MEUNIER……………………………………………………………………… 9

Chapter III — I ACCEPT THE RESPONSIBILITY………………………………………….. 11

Chapter IV — THE EARLY PROGRAMME…………………………………………………… 14

Chapter V — THE CO-EDUCATION OF THE SEXES…………………………………….. 17

Chapter VI — CO-EDUCATION OF THE SOCIAL CLASSES…………………………… 21

Chapter VII — SCHOOL HYGIENE………………………………………………………………. 24

Chapter VIII — THE TEACHERS…………………………………………………………………. 25

Chapter IX — THE REFORM OF THE SCHOOL……………………………………………. 27

Chapter X — NO REWARD OR PUNISHMENT…………………………………………….. 32

Chapter XI — THE GENERAL PUBLIC AND THE LIBRARY…………………………. 35

Chapter XII — SUNDAY LECTURES…………………………………………………………….. 41

Chapter XIII — THE RESULTS……………………………………………………………………. 43

Chapter XIV — A DEFENSIVE CHAPTER…………………………………………………….. 46

Chapter XV — THE INGENUOUSNESS OF THE CHILD………………………………… 51

Chapter XVI — THE “BULLETIN“……………………………………………………………….. 55

Chapter XVII — THE CLOSING OF THE MODERN SCHOOL………………………… 58

EPILOGUE By J. M……………………………………………………………………………………….. 61

INTRODUCTION

On October 12, 1909, Francisco Ferrer y Guardia was shot in the trenches of the Montjuich Fortress at Barcelona. A Military Council of War had found him guilty of being “head of the insurrection” which had, a few months before, lit the flame of civil war in the city and province. The clergy had openly petitioned the Spanish Premier, when Ferrer was arrested, to look to the Modern School and its founder for the source of the revolutionary feeling; and the Premier had, instead of rebuking them, promised to do so. When Ferrer was arrested, the prosecution spent many weeks in collecting evidence against him, and granted a free pardon to several men who were implicated in the riot, for testifying against him. These three or four men were the only witnesses out of fifty who would have been heard patiently in a civil court of justice, and even their testimony would at once have crumbled under cross-examination. But there was no cross-examination, and no witnesses were brought before the court. Five weeks were occupied in compiling an enormously lengthy indictment of Ferrer; then twenty-four hours were given to an inexperienced officer, chosen at random, to analyse it and prepare a defence. Evidence sent in Ferrer’s favour was confiscated by the police; the witnesses who could have disproved the case against him were kept in custody miles away from Barcelona; and documents that would have tended to show his innocence were refused to the defending officer. And after the mere hearing of the long and hopelessly bewildering indictment (in which the evidence was even falsified), and in spite of the impassioned protest of the defending officer against the brutal injustice of the proceedings, the military judges found Ferrer guilty, and he was shot.

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Feb 172014
 

Berkman1abALEXANDER BERKMAN, ANARCHIST — Life, Work, Ideas, Bill Nowlin ISBN 978-1-873976-69-2 (Kindle edition). First published by ChristieBooks in 2014 —  Check out all Kindle editions of ChristieBooks titles  — £3.08/€3.76/$5.50  READ INSIDE!  ¡LEER EL INTERIOR! LIMITED PRINT EDITION (25 copies) ALSO AVAILABLE — £25.00 (+ £5.00 p+p)

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As a young student in Russia, Alexander Berkman claims to have heard the bomb explode which killed Tsar Alexander II in 1881. He emigrated to America and, inspired by the Haymarket martyrs, became active in Jewish anarchist circles. When Henry Clay Frick of Carnegie Steel sent in armed Pinkertons who killed strikers at Homestead Steel, Berkman traveled to Pittsburg and shot Frick in an assassination attempt of his own, hoping to inspire a workers’ revolt. He spent 14 years in prison, then rejoined his comrade Emma Goldman and was active in the free speech movement, in setting up free schools, in the beginnings of the birth control movement, and in defending numerous activists charged by prosecutors. He and Goldman organized against military conscription during World War I and were deported to Russia, arriving shortly after the Revolution. There, as anarchists, they also ran afoul of the Communist Party authorities who were intent on consolidating political power. They had to leave Russia as well, and then to leave Germany, finally landing in exile in France. Throughout, Berkman was a skilled organizer and both edited and wrote numerous publications. His life, his work, and his ideas are explored in this book.  The way Berkman lived his life, maturing in his thought but remaining true to his principles, has been an inspiration to those who have known of him.

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Jan 152014
 

UralesConsideraciones Morales sobre el funcionamiento de una sociedad sin gobierno por Federico Urales (Joan Montseny Caret — August 19, 1864 —March 12, 1942) France 1940 (Kindle edition — £1.25/€1.50/$2.00) (in Spanish). Talk first given in Barcelona in 1922 and published in 1940 by Ediciones del Movimiento Libertario Español in France. This eBook (Kindle edition) is published by ChristieBooks in conjunction with the Grupo Cultural de Estudios Sociales de Melbourne and Acracia Publications —  Check out all Kindle editions of ChristieBooks titles  NOW AVAILABLE ON KINDLE — £1.25/€1.50/$2.00  READ INSIDE!  ¡LEER EL INTERIOR!

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