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
 

300px-SacvanChapter 3. “Those anarchistic bastards”

The case of Sacco and Vanzetti spanned the period of the Harding and Coolidge Administrations. It began with the arrest of the two Italian workers on May 5, 1920, and ended seven years, three months and eighteen days later, with the execution of the two men on August 23, 1927.

frankfurter1939newsweekIt was, in the words of Professor Felix Frankfurter of Harvard University, “no ordinary case of robbery and murder” and involved  “more issues . . . than the lives of two men.”

Before the case reached its tragic climax, it had become a prism through which were refracted all the dark and brilliant colours of the fiercely contending social elements in the post-war world.

Nicola Sacco at the time of his arrest was a twenty-nine year old Italian immigrant, skilled shoe-worker and devoted family man with a passionate love of nature. He was described by Michael Kelley, the owner of the factory where Sacco worked, as a “man who is in his garden at 4 o’clock in the morning, and at the factory at 7 o’clock, and in his garden again after supper until nine and ten at night, carrying water and raising vegetables beyond his own needs which he would bring to me to give to the poor.”

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Apr 022013
 

DownwithBolshiesTHE postwar wave of reaction in the United States cost the American people many of their most cherished democratic rights. It fomented nationwide intolerance, hysteria, hatred and fear. Thousands of innocent persons had been arrested, jailed and tortured. Scores had died in labor struggles, lynchings and race riots. Never before had terror and repression been so widespread in the nation. What were the causes behind this “foulest page in American history?”

Federal authorities explained the Palmer raids and other postwar repressions as necessary measures to protect the nation against a “Communist plot” to overthrow the United States Government.

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Mar 292013
 

Mr. Chairman, the spectre of Bolshevism is haunting the world. Everybody – statesman, businessman, preacher, plutocrat, newspaper editor ­– keeps on warning the world that it is about to be destroyed by Bolshevism . . . But the worst of it is that every movement, every new idea, every new suggestion, every new thought that is advanced, is immediately denounced as Bolshevism. It is not necessary to argue anymore with a man who advances a new idea; it is enough to say, “That is Bolshevism”.

Representative Meyer London, Speaking on the floor of the U. S. Congress, February 11, 1919.
LouisFPost

Louis Freeland Post

“AT PRESENT there are signs of an overthrow of our Government as a free government,” Louis Freeland Post, the Assistant U. S. Secretary of Labor, wrote in his diary on New Year’s Day, 1920. “It is going on under cover of a vigorous ‘drive’ against ‘anarchists,’ an ‘anarchist’ being almost anybody who objects to government of the people by Tories and for financial interests . . .”

Seventy-one years old, small and sturdily built, with an unruly black beard and shaggy head of hair, Louis F. Post was a man whose boundless energy and inquiring mind belied his age. During his remarkably varied career, he had been in turn a lawyer, journalist, teacher, lecturer, essayist, historian and politician. A nonconformist in politics and former advocate of the single tax and other reformist movements, Post was a fighting liberal, an inveterate champion of progressive causes.

MitchellPalmer

Attorney General Mitchell Palmer

Panic and hysteria had no appeal for the elderly Assistant Secretary of Labor. As far as Post was concerned, Attorney General Palmer’s crusade to rid America of “Reds” was a “despotic and sordid process.”

Suddenly, and quite unexpectedly, Post found himself in a position to do something about it . . .

In March, John W. Abercrombie, the Solicitor for the Department of Labor who had been serving as the Acting Secretary during Secretary L. B. Wilson’s illness, announced he was taking a leave of absence.

Overnight, Post assumed the authority of Secretary of Labor.

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Mar 272013
 
Give me your tired, your poor.
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!
From Emma Lazarus’s poem The New Colossus, inscribed on the base of the Statue of Liberty
Buford1

SS Buford (“The Soviet Ark”)

Shortly before dawn on a chill overcast December morning, one year after the end of the war, a carefully guarded transport vessel lying in the shadow of the guns of Fort Wadsworth lifted anchor and slipped out of New York Harbor under extremely strange and mysterious circumstances. Not even the captain knew where the ship was bound; he was sailing under sealed orders, to remain unopened until he was twenty-four hours at sea. The only persons aware of the ship’s destination were a few highly placed officials of the United States Government.

Radicals Awaiting Deportation

Radicals awaiting deportation

Through the long tense hours of the night a cordon of heavily armed soldiers had stood on guard at the pier. Aboard ship, other soldiers with fixed bayonets patrolled the decks. A special detachment of marines, several agents of the Department of Justice and a top-ranking member of the Military Intelligence Section of the Army General Staff sailed with the vessel. Shortly before departure, revolvers were distributed among the crew . . .

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Feb 022013
 

132293Anarchist ephemera or Cobblers’ Awls: In the 1960s there was a cheesy US TV series called “The Big Valley” which takes place in the 1880s in Stockton, California. In this particular episode, ‘The Martyr’  (17 Oct 1966),  Jarrod Barkley, the privileged liberal lawyer protagonist, defends a Basque anarchist shepherd with several echos in its storyline of the Sacco and Vanzetti trial – smile out loud stuff (albeit patronisingly sinister!):

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Jan 162013
 
MaydayCoversmall

Chicago, May 3rd 1886: ‘Towards the end of the afternoon of May 3rd, about 8,000 strikers gathered at the exit of the McCormick agricultural machine factory to taunt the scabs; they were greeted by revolver and rifle shots from the police and Pinkerton agents; forced to retreat they left six dead and fifty wounded.’ The Art of Anarchy by Flavio Costantini, Cienfuegos Press, Honley, 1975

The first Mayday. The Haymarket Speeches 1895-1910 Voltairine de Cleyre (with an introduction by Paul Avrich).

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On 1 May 1886, 800,000 workers from all trades and factories throughout the US went on strike in support of the eight-hour working day. In Chicago, a stronghold of immigrant labour and anarchists, 300,000 workers struck and marched through the city streets in a huge display of proletarian power. Before the Chicago May Day strike action began, the management at McCormick Machine Co. (now International Harvester) had locked out 1500 workers over a wage dispute. On 3 May, when pickets attempted to prevent blackleg labour entering the plant, the Chicago police opened fire on the workers, killing, four and wounding many more. Outraged at this act of naked aggression, radical newspapers called for armed resistance against the bloodthirsty Chicago police, and a protest rally was called for the following day (4 May) at Haymarket Square. Three leading anarchists gave speeches condemning police violence and capitalist oppression: Parsons, Spies and Fielden. As the meeting came to an end, 200 police moved in on the crowd. Suddenly, a bomb was thrown and exploded in the midst of the police, who immediately opened fire on the assembled workers. Several police and many workers were killed.

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Sep 162012
 

SAM DOLGOFF, retired house painter, editor and translator of Bakunin on Anarchy, The Cuban Revolution: A Critical Perspective, The Anarchist Collectives: Workers’ Self-management in the Spanish Revolution (1936-1939), was 83 years old when he completed this Memoir. He started out in life, more than half a century earlier, as a working hobo on the railroads and waterfronts, in lumber camps, canneries, and steel mills of the United States. Caught up early in ideas of radical social change, he moved from reformist socialism to anarchism, publishing his first piece, a criticism of Gandhi, in the anarchist journal Road to Freedom. As a member of the IWW he became a strong propagandist for libertarian labor movements—incidentally teaching himself to read six different languages—lecturing across America in union halls, civic centers and colleges. Under the pen name Sam Weiner, he published innumerable articles in labor and anarchist periodicals, many of which he helped to found and edit.

Fragments: a memoir, Sam Dolgoff, ISBN 978-0-946222-04-9. First published (one edition, now long o/p) 1986 by Refract Publications (formerly Cienfuegos Press Ltd), Cambridge. This Kindle eBook published 2012 by ChristieBooks. (€3,21; £2.58; $4.13UK ; US/Canada/India and RoW ; España ; France ; Germany ; Italy

Oct 022011
 


Documentary on the US radical organisation The Weathermen. Using archive footage from the time as well as interviews with the Weathermen today, the film constructs a linear narrative of the militant organisation. In 1969, a small group of student radicals announced their intention to overthrow the U.S. government in opposition to the Vietnam War. This documentary explores the rise and fall of this radical movement as former members speak candidly about the passion that drove them at the time. The film also explores the group in the context of other social movements of the time, featuring interviews with former members of the Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) and the Black Panther Party. The film also examines the U.S. government’s suppression of dissent during this turbulent era through projects such as COINTELPRO. Using archival footage from the 1960s and 1970s, the film also intersperses recent interviews with high profile ex-Weathermen Bernardine Dohrn, David Gilbert, Bill Ayers, Mark Rudd and Brian Flanagan, who talk about their involvement in the organization, their experiences, and the trajectory that led them to be placed on the FBI’s Most Wanted list

Oct 022011
 


Powerful documentary about the process of youth radicalisation in America (Berkeley, California) from the anti-HUAC (House Un-American Activities Committee) in May 1960 onwards . . .