Jun 052014

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


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 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-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”

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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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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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

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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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

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 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.

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

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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)

Jan 212013

LibComcoversmallLibertarian Communism by Isaac Puente Amestoy. First published in 1932 under the title El comunismo libertario. First English-language translation (by Paul Sharkey) published in The Cienfuegos Press Anarchist Review (No. 6, 1982),  Over the Water, Sanday, Orkney, KW172BL This eBook (Kindle) edition published 2013 by ChristieBooks,  PO Box 35, Hastings, East Sussex, TN341ZS. ISBN 978-1-873976-11-1

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Dr. Isaac Puente Amestoy (3 June 1896 – 1 September 1936)

‘Economic pressures compel the individual to co-operate in the economic life of the locality. These same economic pressures ought to be felt by the collectives, obliging them to co-operate in the economic life of the nation. But to accomplish this needs no central council or supreme committee, which carry the seeds of authoritarianism and are the focal points of dictatorship, as well as being nests of bureaucracy. We said that we have no need of an architect or any ordaining authority beyond the mutual agreement between localities. As soon as each and every locality (city, village, or hamlet) has placed its internal life in order, the organisation of the nation will be complete. And there is something else we might add concerning the localities. Once all its individual members are assured that their needs will be met, then the economic life of the municipality or of the federation will also be perfected. . .’

This seminal anarchist text defining the term ‘libertarian communism’ was first published in 1932 by the Spanish anarcho-syndicalist unions of the National Confederation of Labour (CNT), with many subsequent editions. The first English translation, by Paul Sharkey, appeared in ‘The Cienfuegos Press Anarchist Review‘ #6 Orkney, 1982.