Keeping the faith in exile – Pistoleros! Vol 3. Review from Hastings Online Times

 Anarchism in Barcelona, CNT, Memoir, Reviews, Spanish anarchism  Comments Off on Keeping the faith in exile – Pistoleros! Vol 3. Review from Hastings Online Times
Mar 272013

Pistoleros3-resized1-197x300Hastings Online Times 27/3/2013

The third volume in the Pistoleros! trilogy by the anonymous Hastings-based author finds our hero Farquhar McHarg still in revolutionary Barcelona, now in the early years of the 1920s, as he continues the struggle, alongside fellow workers and anarchist comrades, against the forces of right-wing repression.

We know he survived these murderous times because interspersed with that first-person narrative is the third-person account of his latter years as a political exile in France. In volume one his close comrade Laureano Cerrada was gunned down in the streets of Paris, and Farquhar knows he is next on the list.

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History as tragedy — and farce!. A review of Dario Fo’s ‘Accidental Death of an Anarchist’

 Anarchism in Italy, Reviews, Theatre  Comments Off on History as tragedy — and farce!. A review of Dario Fo’s ‘Accidental Death of an Anarchist’
Nov 202012

Hastings Online Times, 19 November 2012

The ‘Maniac’ (second left) has guilty policemen singing to his tune. (Photo: Peter Mould)

History’, as Marx said, ‘repeats itself: first as tragedy, then as farce’. Fortunately for us, this time round the farce was written by Dario Fo! Guest reviewer (for Hastings Online Times) Stuart Christie attended the opening night of Dario Fo’s Accidental Death of An Anarchist at Hastings’ Stables Theatre.

The action begins, we are told, shortly after an actual series of coordinated bomb outrages in Milan and Rome on 12 December 1969, explosions that killed 16 and injured over 120 random victims in what became known as the Strategy of Tension. The subsequent police investigation into the ‘bombings’ (the latest in an ongoing series of alleged ‘anarchist-leftist’ attacks which began the previous year) was led by Chief Inspector Luigi Calabresi and his boss Chief Superintendent Antonio Allegra of Milan’s Special Branch (Questura). On the night of the explosion — and the following day — over 100 anarchists were arrested, 27 of whom were taken to San Vittorio prison, the rest being held for interrogation in Milan police headquarters in the Via Fatebenefratelli.

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Carta al editor de TLS — ¿Qué se ha hecho de aquello de “serio” y “fiable”? Michael Seidman y El holocausto español.

 Historical Memory, Reviews, Spain, Spanish Revolution/Civil War  Comments Off on Carta al editor de TLS — ¿Qué se ha hecho de aquello de “serio” y “fiable”? Michael Seidman y El holocausto español.
Sep 262012

‘Click’ para bajar pdf …

¿Qué le ha sucedido al criterio editorial del TLS (Times Literary Supplement)? ¿Qué diantre llevó al editor a encargar como reseña de El holocausto español de Paul Preston la patochada condescendientemente insultante de un apologeta profranquista como Michael Seidman?

Aparte de quejarse sobre el “descrédito hacia el capital moral de los nacionales” de Preston, la objeción principal de Seidman parece ser el uso del término “holocausto” para describir la carnicería provocada por los “oficiales rebeldes, pronto ayudados por Hitler y Mussolini” (implicando que ninguno de sus regimenes habrían sido cómplices de sus planes para derrocar a la República). Esta objeción al vocablo holocausto es, o bien una pedantería académica, o bien un medido intento político por parte de Seidman de apropiarse de manera excluyente e incontestable del término para su aplicación exclusiva a las víctimas judías del antisemitismo nazi — a costa de los otros 5, 6, o 7 millones de víctimas de la máquinaria asesina nazi: antifascistas (judíos y gentiles), intelectuales, socialistas, anarquistas, comunistas, liberales, testigo de Jehová, gitanos, disminuidos psíquicos o físicos, etc… entre enero de 1933 y mayo de 1945.

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The TLS. Letter to the Editor — Whatever happened to ‘serious’ and ‘authoritative’?

 Historical Memory, Reviews, Spain, Spanish Revolution/Civil War  Comments Off on The TLS. Letter to the Editor — Whatever happened to ‘serious’ and ‘authoritative’?
Sep 222012

TLS, September 7 2012

What has happened to editorial judgement at the TLS? What on earth led the editor to commission the patronisingly offensive twaddle from such a pro-Francoist apologist as Michael Seidman in his review of Paul Preston’s “The Spanish Holocaust”?

Apart from complaining about Preston’s ‘discrediting the moral capital of the Nationalists’, Seidman’s principal objection appears to be the use of the term “Holocaust” to describe the carnage triggered by the “rebellious officers, whom Hitler and Mussolini quickly aided” (the implication being that neither regime had been complicit in the plans to topple the Republic). This objection to the word Holocaust is either academic pedantry or a zealous political attempt by Seidman to ‘own’ the term on behalf, exclusively and of course unbidden, of the Jewish victims of Nazi anti-semitism at the expense of the other 5, 6 or 7 million victims of the Nazi killing machine — anti-Nazis (Jewish and non-Jewish), intellectuals, socialists, anarchists, communists, liberals, Jehovah’s Witnesses, gypsies, the mentally ill, the disabled, etc., etc. — between January 1933 and May 1945.

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The Telegraph – Still Apologising For Francoism After All These Years by Stuart Christie

 Historical Memory, Reviews, Spanish Revolution/Civil War  Comments Off on The Telegraph – Still Apologising For Francoism After All These Years by Stuart Christie
Feb 282012

Sunday Telegraph, 26 February 2012 (click to read)

What on earth are the criteria used by the Sunday Telegraph books editor to dredge up its reviewers? In a review of Paul Preston‘s ‘The Spanish Holocaust,’ Sunday’s (26/2/12) ’s ST magazine carried what is probably the most outrageously offensive and mealy-mouthed defence of Franco’s heritors since Brian Crozier’s 1967  hagiography ‘Franco’  (in which he defended the view that Guernica was destroyed not by the Germans but by the Basques themselves!). The reviewer is one Jeremy Treglown, Professor of English at Warwick University and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature, a man whose work has hitherto focused on the lives of Roald Dahl, Henry Green Faber and the letters of John Wilmott, Earl of Rochester.

Basically, the thrust of his self-serving argument is that Francoist atrocities should not be investigated because it undermines political stability — a defence of impunity that was never raised at Nuremberg, Tokyo — or through to the more recent Baathist trials in Baghdad.

Words (almost) fail me. This guy’s got the gall to state: ‘Without the co-operation of former Francoists at all levels, the new system couldn’t have worked…’ Has it not occurred to this ivory-towered chancer that if they hadn’t cooperated they’d be either swinging from lampposts across Spain or seeking asylum in the Argentine of the Junta, Pinochet’s Chile, Stroessner’s Paraguay, Hugo Banzer’s Bolivia, or Geisel’s Brazil. The only places that would have them!

Treglown continues: ” . . . the new democracy distinguished itself . . . [by not being vindictive]. An obvious example is the fact that most of Franco’s descendants still live in Spain.’ Of course they still live in Spain – they still own the effen place, AND they control the legislature, the judiciary and most of the press!

Another weasely criticism Treglown makes of Paul Preston’s riveting new book is his use of the word ‘Holocaust’ in the title, which he appears to imply is sensationalist, exploitative and should be used exclusively in reference to the Nazi genocide of European Jewry, ignoring all the other victims of the Nazi killing machine: socialists of every kind, gays, gypsies, liberals, anti-fascists . . . One salient point EVERYONE should remember is that Franco killed more Spaniards than Hitler ever killed German Jews.

The academic from Warwick ends with another particularly cretinous comment: ‘In more immediate terms, a problem with the Spanish left’s current obsession, endorsed by this book, with the sins of the grandfathers is that in being used for party-political ends it also acts as a substitute for anything more constructive.’

Listen, Jeremy Treglown! the left’s so-called ‘obsession’ with the ‘sins of the grandfathers’ has bugger all to do with ‘party-political ends’. The movement for the recovery of historical memory is most definitely ANTI party-political; it has been precisely the party politicians of all hues — but particularly the Spanish Socialist Party (PSOE) — who, since Franco’s death and throughout the so-called ‘transition’ to the present day, have consistently deferred to the Church, the army, the press and the Francoist lobby, and have successfully sabotaged all attempts to rehabilitate the victims of Franco’s dictatorship. In my mind at least there is no doubt that the PSOE’s failure to win at the last elections wasn’t just down to the anti-social policies it was responsible for during the last parliament, but also its craven refusal to get on with the ‘complete rehabilitation of the victims of the Francoist dictatorship’, to quote the promise made by PSOE leader Rubalcaba in 2004 when he announced the setting-up of the Inter-Ministerial Commission for that very purpose.

As for Treglown’s jaw-droppingly elitist parthian shot, ‘It may be time for the left to forget about remembering’ — a sentiment whole-heartedly endorsed by Judge Baltasar Garzón’s right-wing political and judicial enemies who have succeeded in having him barred from the bench for 11 years. I can’t believe anyone with pretensions to integrity, scholarly objectivity or academic rigour, especially someone who presumes to review such an important historical study as Paul Preston’s ‘The Spanish Holocaust’, could have written that …



Nov 252010

Click on image to read review

Between 1898 and 1937, competing interests from the national government, the regional industrialists, and the working class, fought for control of Barcelona. The social realities of Barcelona as Spain’s economic, cultural, social, and political capital provided a perfect backdrop for battle over the urban future. Chris Ealham explores these complex and often violent relationships, utilizing an innovative blend of history, urbanism, sociology, and cultural studies. No other work digs this deep into the composition of an urban working class movement and certainly not with such a sympathetic eye for the aspirations of its anarchist denizens.

“Scrupulously researched and well written, this is the finest study of working-class anarchist life and culture since Paul Avrich’s The Haymarket Tragedy. Not only a study of working-class Barcelona, Anarchism and the City is the story of anarchists organizing themselves where they lived, and of the militant culture they were a part of and helped to create. Ealham’s book draws on a marvelous array of sources, and offers a picture of anarchism in Spain that is both groundbreaking, honest, and, yes, inspirational. This is the history of the barris coming alive in your hands. Put simply, no future study of anarchism can ever ignore this book, which comes closer than any other English-language work in understanding what anarchism and its practice meant to Spanish working-class people at the time.  Barry Pateman, Associate Editor at the Emma Goldman Papers and editor of Chomsky on Anarchism

Chris Ealham currently lives and works in Madrid, where he teaches History at Saint Louis University. He is a specialist in Spanish labor history and movements, especially those of anarchist and anarcho-syndicalist inspiration. His work has been translated into Castilian, Catalan, and Italian. He also writes for the Spanish daily and anarchist press on topics ranging from soccer to urban planning. Chris is currently writing a biographical study of José Peirats (1908-1989), a prominent Spanish anarchist activist, historian, journalist, and former secretary-general of the CNT.

The Second Death of José Peirats … or how Enric Ucelay-Da Cal, academic, invented, in a prologue to the Memoirs of José Peirats, a new method of intellectual murder …

 Article, Biography, CNT, Historical, PDF, Reportage, Reviews, South and Central America, Spain, Spanish Revolution/Civil War  Comments Off on The Second Death of José Peirats … or how Enric Ucelay-Da Cal, academic, invented, in a prologue to the Memoirs of José Peirats, a new method of intellectual murder …
Aug 312010

Click on image to read article in English

In 2009 the previously unpublished memoirs of José Peirats (1908-1989), former CNT general secretary and anarchist historian (author of The CNT in the Spanish Revolution, 3 Vols, edited by Chris Ealham, ChristieBooks), were published in Spain in abridged form. They were accompanied by a controversial prologue from Catalan-based historian Enric Ucelay da Cal. While Peirats’ original text was cut, Ucelay’s prologue weighed in at over 100 pages. There are two hallmark’s to Ucelay’s work: his inability to synthesise his ‘ideas’ and his pronounced hostility to anarchism. Peirats, who died in 1989, is unable to respond to this calumny. Instead, we have a rejoinder, in Spanish, to Ucelay from Freddy Gómez Pelaez, editor  of  the French anarchist journal A contretemps, who knew Peirats personally from his time in exile in France. We hope to post an English-language translation of Freddy’s article very soon. PAUL DAVIS

The Second Death of José Peirats at the Hands of Enric Ucelay-Da Cal (PDF in English)

La segunda muerte de José Peirats (PDF)

La segunda muerte de José Peirats (ISSUU)

The Da Vinci Con – or L’ Abbé Saunière’s Treasure by Stuart Christie (PDF)

 Book, France, Historical, PDF, Pseudohistory, Reportage, Reviews  Comments Off on The Da Vinci Con – or L’ Abbé Saunière’s Treasure by Stuart Christie (PDF)
Aug 202010

Since the birth of speculative freemasonry in the early 17th century, large numbers of intelligent and otherwise well-informed, sane and sensible people have believed that much of what was happening around them only occurred because it was set in motion by secret societies, the motors of history. Many still believe that virtually everything unpleasant that happens can be attributed to them, and that there is an occult force operating behind the seemingly real facade of public and political life. What has been written so far about the so-called ‘Priory of Sion’ and the ‘Da Vinci Code’ is a monumental example of a view of the world shaped by hocus-pocus and irrationality, and even though it is sometimes amusing, it is always disturbing when intelligent people seriously talk nonsense, taking fiction for reality. As many of these authors have found out to their advantage, it never pays to underestimate people’s credulity. The Da Vinci Code and its successor titles have been translated into more than 40 million languages and sold countless millions of copies worldwide… now read on.

The Da Vinci Con (PDF) Originally published in The Hastings Trawler, April 2006

THE GREAT GAME — A Russian Perspective by Grigory Lvovich Bondarevsky. eBook £1.50 (see eBookshelf)

 Central ASia and the Caucasus, Geopolitics, Historical, Reviews  Comments Off on THE GREAT GAME — A Russian Perspective by Grigory Lvovich Bondarevsky. eBook £1.50 (see eBookshelf)
Aug 172010

THE GREAT GAME — A Russian Perspective by Professor Grigory Bondarevsky, ISBN 978-1-873976-17-3 published in 2010 by ChristieBooks, Hastings, East Sussex UK eBook £1.50 (see eBookshelf)  Also available from Kobo    Check out other Christiebooks titles HERE 

Much as today in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iran and Iraq, the battle for control over Central Asia and the Near and Middle East in the 19th century was fierce and bloody. Sometimes it was conducted in secret, sometimes in public; sometimes it created a great stir, at other times no one noticed. It was fought throughout the nineteenth century by the foreign ministries of Great Britain and Russia and the armed forces of the East India Company and then the British Empire on the one hand, and sections of the Russian army commanded from Tiflis, Orenburg and Tashkent on the other, together with mobile and highly qualified spies on both sides posing as scholars, travellers, merchants and clerics. The story of this battle is told in thousands of newspaper articles, hundreds of books, and hundreds of thousands of secret reports penned by the actors in this great drama, which was played out in the course of a century in lifeless deserts and mountain ranges whose peaks were sometimes over three and a half miles high. This unique Russian account of Kipling’s  ‘Great Game‘ — from a strictly Russian perspective — takes the form of a chapter by chapter review, by Professor Grigory L. Bondarevsky — a Russian academician (Oriental Institute of the Soviet Academy of Sciences and the Russian Academy of Social Science) who played an important part in defining post-war Soviet policy in Central Asia and the Middle East — of Peter Hopkirk’s excellent study The Great Game: On Secret Service in High Asia. The review initially appeared over a matter of months in the journal Central Asia and the Caucasus in World Affairs (1995 — ed. S. Christie). This book is not only a secret service history, or to be more accurate a history of the rivalry between the secret services of the British and Russian empires in the nineteenth century; it is also an entertaining account of the geographical discovery of unknown and sometimes forgotten countries in Central Asia, which was then a mysterious place.

Professor Bondarevsky was murdered in Moscow on 8 August 2003. (NB: A complex character, Bondarevsky had fingers in lots of disparate pies as I later discovered — to my cost — in Baku, Azerbaijan. See the 2003 obituary in Lyndon Larouche’s Executive Intelligence Review)


New book — The Rape of Socialism

 Historical, Reviews  Comments Off on New book — The Rape of Socialism
Apr 112010

The Rape of Socialism – How Labour lost the Millennium
Donovan Pedelty, 512pp, £13.50 [click here for a PDF about the book]

A hundred years ago socialist thinking, in tune with the rising tide of labour protest, presented a serious challenge to the capitalist hegemony. However much they differed over ultimate objectives and how to reach them, the Socialists of the late nineteenth century were at one in their conviction that individualistic capitalism would have to be overcome to establish a just and sane society. They were equally certain that the huge advance in productive capacity which capitalism had helped to bring about, by proving that poverty could be abolished, had made such a transformation possible, immediately or at least within the near future.  So what went wrong?  Donovan Pedelty, in this widely-ranging, fascinating and sometimes darkly humorous anarchist critique, explores the answer to this question through a study of development of socialism during the last hundred years or so, focusing principally on the British Labour Movement since World War II. Within the framework of what apologists for capitalism have always dismissed as ‘utopian visions’, but which Socialists have shown to be realisable, this book traces, in Part One, the development in Britain -through the jockeying for power of the bourgeois political parties – of ‘fully representative democracy’, while highlighting the contradiction between this development and their commitment to capitalism. Part Two analyses the reasons why the party formed to challenge the dominance of capital failed to use that ‘democratic power’ to give the people social justice – and ultimately capitulated to capitalism. This is the story of how Labour, corrupted and distorted its supposed ideal – socialism. The Rape of Socialism (available from