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.

Jan 052013
Alexander Berkman in his study in Paris

Alexander Berkman in his study in Paris

BerkmanCoverTHE RUSSIAN TRAGEDY, Alexander Berkman. ISBN 978-0-904564-11-2. Edited, introduced and compiled by William G. Nowlin Jnr. First published as three separate pamphlets in 1922 by Der Syndikalist, Berlin. Compilation first published 1976 by Cienfuegos Press Ltd., Over The Water, Sanday, Orkney. Cover illustration by Flavio Costantini and cover design by Simon Stern. This (Kindle) e-Book edition published 2013 by ChristieBooks, PO Box 35, Hastings, TN341ZS.

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THE THREE PAMPHLETS, ISSUED HERE in book form for the first time (‘The Russian Tragedy’, ‘The Russian Revolution and the Communist Party’, and ‘The Kronstadt Rebellion‘), are Alexander Berkman’s first writings after leaving Russia in December of 1921. He had entered Russia just two years earlier, filled with devotion to the ideals of the Russian revolution and anxious to contribute his share to the revolutionary process. It was a return home for him, as he had lived his first 17 years in Russia and had grown up among the revolutionaries of that era. Now he was welcomed back as an important revolutionary exile from his adopted United States.

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Oct 152010

The Rider Named Death – 2004 (Vsadnik po imeni Smert) is director Karen Shakhnazarov’s adaptation of Boris Savinkov‘s 1909 novel The Pale Horse, Memoirs of a Terrorist. An intense thriller, it follows the true story of radical Russian socialists during the turn of the 18th century. At this point in history, Russia has a large dissident movement in which radical idealists, specifically anarchists and the Socialist-Revolutionary Movement, have been attempting to assassinate prominent Russian officials. These men and women are determined, once and for all, to overthrow the reactionary feudal  Tsarist regime once and for all. The film details the exhaustive attempts of a combat organisation cell within the Socialist-Revolutionary Party to assassinate Grand Duke Sergei Alexandrovich. With limited resources and a dwindling number of operatives, cell leader George relentlessly continues with his mission. The events depicted in the film were a prelude to the revolutions of 1905.