Sep 182014
 
OliverLaw

Oliver Law — left (October 23, 1900 – July 9, 1937) African-American CP commander of the Lincoln Battalion for 4 days in July 1937.

Supine in an ambulance train, doped up, head immobile, a Spanish nurse feeding me slices of orange and the sweet meat of pitted dates, the passage of time snail-like, I arrived with hundreds of I.B. wounded in the rich market city of Murcia. I was deposited in a hospital named after La Pasionaria. Forgive me my latter-day bitterness; she was an impressive figure, a great orator, who kissed Joe Stalin’s ass before breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and once more before going to bed. She blackmailed the Spanish govemment: the Soviet freighters lying outside its harbors would not unload their cargo of arms unless there was acceptance of the Party demands that each army unit have political commissars (and who were they to be?) , that the voluntary collectives be demolished and abolished, and that the POUM be outlawed. In Mundo Obrero, the Communist Party newspaper, she wrote that it is better to kill a thousand innocent people than to permit one Trotskyite to live. She was a charming woman who afiirmed her love for Joseph Stalin until the day she herself died, long after his own people had convicted him for his massive docket of crimes. There are those who still call her a great woman. I am not among them.

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Sep 182014
 
07 BonLincoln

The Lincoln battalion at rest after the battle of Jarama

The following afternoon, February 23, 1937 as the battalion readied itself to leave the gully and enter the frontline trenches before going over the top, Seacord informed me the machine gun company would remain in reserve, but asked if I would take Kavorkian and Pete Shimrak and set up our machine gun at the left flank of the battalion’s position. I told him that the gun had fired only one shot and then quit. He said there was enough time for us to take the gun to the armorer down the road, have it repaired, and then return to set up our position.

The road was under heavy artillery fire, but we managed to find the armorer, a man named Sugrue, if I recall correctly, who worked on the gun for a few minutes, oiled a few parts — it was an old 1918 Vickers-Maxim which the Russians had shipped to Spain; later they would send a lighter and better machine gun — and the three of us found our way to the position Seacord had pointed out. It was now deep into the afternoon; the battalion had moved into trenches to our right, and as we began to set the heavy gun in place a sledge hammer hit me in the back of the head. As I fell, I wondered who could have hit me. I must have been unconscious for a few minutes, but as I came out of it I heard Kavorkian say, “Poor Bill, he must be dead.”
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Sep 182014
 
MartyLongo

André Marty (left) Comintern-appointed political commissar of the International Brigades speaking with Italian CP leader Luigi Longo, Inspector of Republican troops in the International Brigades

In the Albacete bullring, André Marty, the beret looking larger than ever, sent us off to war. The enemy was cowardly, we were brave, our cause was just, we would win. Again that spiel about how you Americans have come as those before you came to save Europe from the Boche. The moment was serious; we were going off to the front, yet this man, the way he moved his hands, the words he spoke, that idiotic beret on his big head — this man was a cartoon.

As he spoke we could see large wooden crates stacked beside him. He ordered them opened. Brand new rifles, still covered with cosmoline. Russian carbines. (Some later said they were Mexican; I don’t know.) We yipped in glee. We cheered. We laughed. We waved our hands against the sky. Long live the Soviet Union. Long live Comrade Stalin. Long live the Frente Popular. Long live Comrade Marty. Thank God, we’re gonna have guns. Each had a long, slender tri-bladed bayonet. They were frightening — the thought of one entering your body, the thought of slamming one into the body of an enemy. We were given helmets, gas masks, cartridge belts with bullets. Now we were real soldiers. We cheered again.

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Sep 172014
 

11_0275sEntering Villanueva de la Jara, in the province of Cuenca, we passed a mammoth, fortresslike church. We had already noticed the many huge thick-walled churches of Spain, every one of them closed, with sandbags barring entrance. We had also not seen one priest or nun. Some had been murdered, some driven out, some had fled in time. The Church stood at Franco’s right hand. Marxist priests were not yet even on the horizon: disaffected with one dictatorship, they would seek out another.

We were barracked in a convent left filthy by its previous occupants, a French battalion. It had six-seater outhouse-type toilets and we soon found bags of lime to empty into the pits. I slept in a nun’s cot and thought often of her. What had she been like, this little nun whose bed I filled? From what village had she come? Had she been a daughter of the religious rich, or the pious poor? Had she exulted in her marriage to Jesus Christ? Had she ever committed carnal sin? Rumors about the nuns flew among us, originating where, I know not. The nuns’ little bastards were buried in the courtyard where, to add to the six-seaters, we dug a long latrine trench. The monks from the two or three monasteries in this tiny village of one street had used our nunnery as a house of assignation. In such manner we titillated each other.

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Sep 172014
 
LincolnBat

Members of the Lincoln Battalion of the International Brigades

Before us, looming purple in the descending sun, were the Pyrenees. They stood, a majestic wall, between Europe and Spain, that exotic mix of Christ, Mohammed, and Moses. My people may have been expelled, but were not forgotten. It was we, Unamuno had written, who had introduced the use of olive oil in Spain, and no one in Spain cooked a meal without olive oil. Laugh if you will, but what you eat determines in large measure who you are. The Christians had made sex prurient, the Moors had produced the canto hondo of Andalucia, and we had pressed the olive.

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Sep 112014
 

October34LA REVOLUCIÓN DE OCTOBRE 1934: Asturias, October 1934 (Spanish Kindle Edition) Check out all Kindle editions of ChristieBook titles.  — £1.90 READ INSIDE!

UK : £1.90 ; USA : $3.00 ; Germany : €2.39 ; France : €2.39 ; Spain: €2.39 ; Italy : €2.39 ; Japan : ¥ 315 ; Canada : CDN$ 3.26 ; Brazil : R$ 6.73 ; Mexico: $39.10 ; Australia : $3.20 ; India : R181

Ochenta años de la fecha cuando estalló el movimiento de Octubre 1934, y es preciso asegurarnos que momentos históricos como éste no permanezcan olvidados ni escondidos.

“La revolución Asturiana se inició en la madrugada del 5 de Octubre de 1934, hasta su rendición el día 18 del mismo mes. Sin la menor duda, fue el hecho más cohesionado y eficaz realizado por el proletariado frente a las derechas que se habían apoderado del gobierno de la República, siendo lamentable que quedara limitado a dicha región, ya que de generalizarse, hubiera podido lograr dar una tónica más radical al régimen, inyectándole un sentido social, determinado por la acción revolucionarias triunfante. De parte de la CNT, todas las referencias señalaron a José María Martínez (muerto en misión del Comité Revolucionario en Sotiello el día 12) como el forjador de la unidad combativa, ya que tuvo que vencer seria oposición de sus propios compañeros para formular un pacto de alianza con los socialistas, debido a la obra desarrollada por éstos, desde el gobierno, de franca y agresiva hostilidad contra el anarcosindicalismo. Pero Martínez, con su tenacidad y argumentos, hizo triunfar sus ideas, lo que vino a impulsar y fortalecer el hecho insurreccional.
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Sep 092014
 

Octubre 34Calm and courageous from the outset, the handsome gladiator who is to scatter the seeds of a new society of active producers who shall live without masters and without tyrants, in perfect harmony with other producers and other villages where other guerrillas gladiators as handsome and courageous as himself, will have established Libertarian Communism as a superior arrangement for a life of justice and dignity

Published by the Grupo Cultural de Estudios Sociales de Melbourne/Acracia Publications, October 2013

By Way of a Preamble

 “One of the best known CNT and FAI militants in La Felguera (Asturias), the leading steel town in the province, sent us the following account of what he witnessed during the October 1934 Asturian uprising. We think that these brief jottings will help shed light on matters that deserve to be known.”

Introduction by the original publishers of Cultura Proletaria (New York), republished as a CNT document in late 1973 by the Fomento de Cultura Libertaria (Paris). From exile, October 2013

******

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Sep 022014
 

Edward Heath Made Me Angry: The Christie File: Part 3, 1967-1975. (The later memoirs of a West of Scotland ‘baby-boomer’) Check out all Kindle editions of ChristieBook titles — £3.10  READ INSIDE!

UK : £3.10 ; USA : $5.00 ; Germany : €3.92; France :  €3.92 ; Spain:  €3.92 ; Italy :  €3.92 ; Japan : ¥ 520 ; Canada : CDN$ 5.44 ; Brazil : R$ 11.18 ; Mexico: $65.42 ; Australia : $4.29 ; India : R303

This third volume of Christie’s memoirs provides the historical and political context for the international anti-Franco resistance of the anarchist ‘First of May Group’, from 1967 to the dictator’s death in 1975. It is a first-hand account — by someone accused but acquitted — of the campaign of anti-state and anti-capitalist bombings by diverse groups of libertarian militants who came together as the ‘Angry Brigade’ to challenge the aggressively anti-working class policies of the Tory government of Edward Heath.

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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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