I COULDN’T PAINT GOLDEN ANGELS. Sixty Years of Commonplace Life and Anarchist Agitation by Albert Meltzer (Kindle and Kobo editions)

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Jul 252015
 

GoldenAngelsI COULDN’T PAINT GOLDEN ANGELS. Sixty Years of Commonplace Life and Anarchist Agitation by Albert Meltzer (Kindle and Kobo editions)
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Albert Meltzer (1920–1996) was involved, actively, in class struggles since the age of 15; exceptional for his generation in having been a convinced anarchist from the start, without any family background in such activity. A lively, witty account of sixty years in anarchist activism, and a unique recounting of many struggles otherwise distorted or unrecorded, including the history of the contemporary development of anarchism in Britain and other countries where he was involved, notably Spain. His story tells of many struggles, including for the first time, the Anglo-Spanish cooperation in the postwar anti-Franco resistance and provides interesting sidelights on, amongst others, the printers’ and miners’ strikes, fighting Blackshirts and the battle of Cable Street, the so-called Angry Brigade activities, the Anarchist Black Cross, the Cairo Mutiny and wartime German anti-Nazi resistance, the New Left of the 60s, the rise of squatting—and through individuals as varied as Kenyata, Emma Goldman, George Orwell, Guy Aldred, and Frank Ridley—all of which have crowded out not only his story, but his life too.

***

Albert002In spite of the self-effacing sub-title, the life of Albert Meltzer was far from “commonplace”. It is a witty account of the never-ending and tireless struggle — sometimes Herculean, sometimes Schvejkian — against the hydra-headed nonentities who seek to impose their order and their certainties on the universe.

Since his schooldays, throughout his working life and in “retirement”, anarchism was the guiding star which fuelled Albert’s thankfully incurable and infectious optimism and faith in the ultimate common sense of humanity. He was a worker, active in trade unionism, a tireless but unpaid editor, a traveller, a public speaker and a challenger of humbug. His character, ideas, good humour (mostly) and generosity of spirit have touched and influenced many people in many lands during the past sixty years. I am grateful to have been one of those links in the chain. Others, some of the many younger people Albert inspired, will undoubtedly be the future torchbearers of anarchism — a vision of a free, just and self-managed society — in the twenty-first century.

However did Albert Meltzer get to be one of the most enduring figures in the active international anarchist movement in the second half of the twentieth century? How did his commitment to anarchism survive the destruction of the Revolution and defeat in the Civil War in Spain? How did it survive the Second World War? What was the anarchist contribution to the revolutionary impetus of the 1960s and 1970s? How did it respond to the more demanding reactionary challenges of the 1980s and 1990s? These are important questions with a valuable bearing on the human condition in this century. “I Couldn’t Paint Golden Angels” does not provide any easy answers but it does provide sharp and invaluable insights into how anarchists are formed and sustained — unpretentious, without illusions, prepared for everything and forgetting nothing. — Stuart Christie

The obscure title may require some explanation, inasmuch as the following introductory paragraph was accidentally omitted from the printed version: “A nineteenth century sentimental love lyricist of German poetry, who was also its sharpest political satirist, wrote a book of art criticism in Paris. He said he was determined to keep to the one subject, but the revolutions of that year broke out and he could not help bringing in his political prejudices and sympathies. He compared himself with an “honest fellow-tradesman”, a signwriter whose speciality was to paint red lions. Offered a commision to paint a golden angel as a house sign, he declined, saying he was only capable of painting a red lion, and if he attempted to paint a golden angel it would turn out to look like a red lion just the same. This was intended to be by way of being an account of an untypical working life, far from golden and never angelic but I couldn’t keep the red lion of anarchist history from emerging”

Albert Meltzer

 

Revolution 1: What do we mean by ‘revolution’? – An anarchist answer by Philip Ruff

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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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NANTERRE 1968 Notes on the background to the 22 March Group by Jean-Pierre Duteuil — Kindle edition £1.24/€1.49/$2.20

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Apr 062014
 

March 22NANTERRE 1968 Notes on the background to the 22 March Group b Jean-Pierre Duteuil (with Eric Jarry) Translated by Paul Sharkey. This Kindle edition published by ChristieBooks, 2014 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

Jean-PierreD

Jean-Pierre Duteuil

As a 16-year old schoolboy from a Parisian banlieu, Jean-Pierre Duteuil became politicised in 1960 over France’s bitter and bloody Algerian war of independence. Already an anarchist, he studied at the University of Nanterre from 1964 to 1969, majoring in Sociology. While a student he was part of the Noir et Rouge collective, a member of the Le Monde Libertaire editorial team and one of the tiny anarchist nucleus on the Nanterre campus, the LEA, the Anarchist Students’ Liaison. He was also a co-founder of the Mouvement du 22 Mars (March 22 Movement) which played such a pivotal role in the events of May/June 1968, and he remains active in the anarchist movement to this day. NANTERRE 1968: Notes on the background to the 22 March Group is Jean-Pierre’s personal assessment of the people and the groups that contributed to the tumultuous events of that historic summer when, to adapt Norman Mailer’s comment on the Cuban Missile Crisis, “France — and Europe — stood like a playing card on edge”

HIGH TREASON The Plot Against the People, Albert E. Kahn — BOOK 2 — THE GOLDEN AGE: 6 — III “Those anarchistic bastards”

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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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Consideraciones Morales sobre el funcionamiento de una sociedad sin gobierno por Federico Urales (Joan Montseny Caret — August 19, 1864 —March 12, 1942) Kindle edition — £1.25/€1.50/$2.00

 anarchism, Anarchist ideas  Comments Off on Consideraciones Morales sobre el funcionamiento de una sociedad sin gobierno por Federico Urales (Joan Montseny Caret — August 19, 1864 —March 12, 1942) Kindle edition — £1.25/€1.50/$2.00
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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FORGED IN REBELLION: LUCIO URTUBIA — The anarchist who fucked CitiBank by Lucio Urtubia (Translated by Paul Sharkey). Kindle edition

 Anarchism in Spain, Anarchist resistance, Anarchists in France, Memoir  Comments Off on FORGED IN REBELLION: LUCIO URTUBIA — The anarchist who fucked CitiBank by Lucio Urtubia (Translated by Paul Sharkey). Kindle edition
Oct 242013
 

LucioBookCoveraFORGED IN REBELLION: LUCIO URTUBIA — The anarchist who fucked CitiBank by Lucio Urtubia (Translated by Paul Sharkey) ChristieBooks 2013 ISBN 978-1-873976-66-1 Published in 2013 by ChristieBooks, Hastings, East Sussex UK —  Check out all Kindle editions of ChristieBooks titles  NOW AVAILABLE ON KINDLE — £3.18/€3,76/$5.13  READ INSIDE!  ¡LEER EL INTERIOR!

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“The banks are the real crooks,” says Lucio Urtubia decisively. “They exploit you, take your money and cause all the wars.” Lucio had no moral scruples about forging Citybank travellers’ cheques. His motivation was not his own gain, but to dent confidence in this powerful financial institution. He was arrested for this and ended up in prison, but soon got back on his feet. ‘Forged in Rebellion’ is an engaging portrait of the anarchist Lucio Urtubia, born in Northern Spain in 1931, and who deserted from the Francoist army, working as a tiler in Paris, where he immersed himself in the world of the Spanish exiles. It was a meeting with the legendary Quico Sabaté (1915-1960) that put Lucio on the anarchist path, whereby his talents as a forger of identity papers and currency came in particularly useful. His anarchist nature is revealed in this highly particular, free-flowing memoir, a lively ‘cops and robbers’ story in which — according to the best traditions — the true scale of Lucio’s role is never completely revealed. It is also the impassioned inside story of an unequal war waged by a genuine modern day Robin Hood from the Sherwood Forest of Lucio’s thousand safehouses and hideouts around Paris as he robs the rich and helps the needy: in the latter case the story comes to an exemplary conclusion, with a solemn peace treaty, the sort signed between great powers. But above all else, what must be seen in these pages is a living document that turns the historical spotlight on to a specific time and place and recounts a singular life story which is at the same time — as all human lives are — the story of many lives. Interview: ‘The Life and Crimes of Anarchist Bricklayer, Lucio Urtubia

THE LIFE, TRIAL, AND DEATH OF FRANCISCO FERRER GUARDIA by William Archer. Edited and Introduced by Dave Poole (Kindle Edition)

 Anarchist ideas, Barcelona, CNT, Obituaries, Reportage, Spanish anarchism  Comments Off on THE LIFE, TRIAL, AND DEATH OF FRANCISCO FERRER GUARDIA by William Archer. Edited and Introduced by Dave Poole (Kindle Edition)
Apr 252013
 

The Life, Trial and Death of Francisco Ferrer GuardiaWilliam Archer (Edited and Introduced by Dave Poole) (ISBN 978-1-873976-02-9),  £2.71  ChristieBooks. PO Box 35, Hastings, East Sussex, TN341ZS. First published in 1977 by Cienfuegos Press, Over the Water, Sanday, Orkney, This fully revised ChristieBooks (Kindle eBook) edition published 2013. READ INSIDE!

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FerrerMontjuich

Francisco Ferrer y Guardia (1859 –1909), anarchist, internationally renowned educationalist and founder of the rationalist ‘Modern School’ (La Escuela Moderna), was arrested in September 1909 in the wake of the popular and violent protests in Catalonia against Spain’s highly unpopular war against Moroccan tribesmen. The events of that week in July 1909 came to be known as the ‘Tragic Week’ (La Semana Tragica) for which the Spanish government and Catholic Church selected their most hated enemy, Francisco Ferrer, as the scapegoat — ‘the author in chief of the popular rebellion”. Within a month he had faced a mock military trial – a drumhead court martial – and on October 13 he was escorted to the ‘ditch of many sighs’ in Montjuich Castle and executed by a firing squad.

FerrerCover2This account of the life and death of Francisco Ferrer Guardia (now available as a Kindle volume) was written by William Archer for the October and November issues of McClure’s Magazine for 1910. Archer, a freelance journalist, had been commissioned by the magazine editor to go to Spain to find new material on the Ferrer case, as public interest in the affair had been revived. During his stay in Spain, Archer was able to interview Ferrer’s family and friends, as well as his opponents. He was also able to consult the many new books on the Tragic Week that had, at the time, just been published, and the official trial report, Juicio Ordinario Seguido … contra Francisco Ferrer Guardia. It is therefore to Archer’s credit, that on his return from Spain, he was able to write a very fine and well-documented article.

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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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Power and Liberty by Leo Tolstoy. Introduction by Albert Meltzer Kindle edition £1.02

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Feb 272013
 

Power&Liberty_TolstoyPower and Liberty by Leo Tolstoy. Introduction by Albert Meltzer. ISBN 978-1-873976-13-5 First published in 1968 by Coptic Press, 10 Gilbert Place, London WC1. This edition (2013) by ChristieBooks (Kindle edition). (Check out all Kindle editions of ChristieBooks titles)

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In this essay, Tolstoy maintains his theory of great men as the myths and tickets of history. History, he asserts, must give up the idea that great men rule us, and busy itself with the discovery of the idea of humanity. One looks for the overthrow of the French Empire not in this or that decision of Napoleon, but in the various factors down to the corporal who enlisted for the bounty once too often. What causes that great motion, the People, to brim over into an historic event? Nobody nowadays believes that the French Revolution happened because Marie-Antoinette was somewhat careless with her jewellery; but many people believe that Churchill, or Stalin, “won the war”, or that Hitler, personally, lost it. Moreover, the whole defence of Nazi war criminals — “we acted under orders” — is relevant to Tolstoy’s critique: it is not your great men who order history. It is a combination of circumstances in which the great man acts merely as the reference-card in the history book. It is not denied that they too like all other individuals play their part in history; but that role is not so decisive as those who wish to avoid responsibility admit.

“The great are only great because we are on our knees”.

Cover illustration: The Vendôme Column, Paris, completed in 1810, to celebrate the French victory at Austerlitz. The column is topped with a statue of a bare-headed Napoleon, crowned with laurels and holding a sword in his right hand and a globe surmounted with a statue of Victory in his left hand.

Proudhonist Materialism and Revolutionary Doctrine by Stephen Condit (Kindle edition £1.96)

 anarchism, Anarchist ideas, France, Ideas, libertarian socialism, Philosophy  Comments Off on Proudhonist Materialism and Revolutionary Doctrine by Stephen Condit (Kindle edition £1.96)
Feb 022013
 

Proudhoncover2Proudhonist Materialism and Revolutionary Doctrine by Stephen Condit First published in 1982 by Cienfuegos Press, Over the Water, Sanday, Orkney. This eBook (Kindle) edition published 2013 by ChristieBooks, PO Box 35, Hastings, East Sussex, TN341ZS ISBN 978-0-904564-49-5

 UK : £1.30p ; USA : $3.07 ; Germany€2,31 ; France€2,31 ; Spain€2,31 ; Italy : €2,31 ; Japan : ¥ 271 ; Canada : CDN$ 3.01 ; Brazil : R$ 6,09

Few historians of ideas have questioned Proudhon’s impact in his own time. Yet his affinities with and contributions to some of the most important trends in modern political philosophy, and his relevance to the problems which increasingly reveal the failures of existing political doctrines and systems, have been neglected.

‘… in general, regimentation was the passion common to all socialists prior to 1848. Cabet, Louis Blanc, the Utopians — all were possessed by the passion to indoctrinate and to organise the future. All were authoritarians to some degree. The one exception was Proudhon. The son of a peasant, and by instinct a hundred times more revolutionary than all the doctrinaire and bourgeois socialists, Proudhon developed a critical viewpoint, as ruthless as it was profound and penetrating, in order to destroy all their systems. Opposing liberty to authority, he proclaimed himself an anarchist as distinct from state socialists, and in the face of their deism or pantheism he also had the courage to declare himself an atheist . . .’ Michael Bakunin, ‘A Critique of State Socialism’ (Review)