Vanguard: a libertarian communist journal

Vanguard cover from 1936, main headline "Revolutionary forces in Spain"

Issues and articles of Vanguard, an anarchist publication based out of New York during the 1930s.

Submitted by Juan Conatz on May 23, 2015

Juan Conatz

7 years 8 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

I found a full run of this in PDF. I'm having trouble splitting it (its over 500 pages) and having trouble compressing it (its over 100 MB). Will hopefully solve soon.

syndicalist

7 years 8 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

As I was saying to Juan on FB, glad to see this getting exposure. The Vanguard was prolly the most influential periodical in my developing years In the days of do your own thing, non class struggle oriented an anarchism, The Vanguard posed serious questions, commentaries and PoVs from anarchist-communist and anarchosyndicalist perspectives.

Although already more the 40 years after bring published, The Vanguard still had a sharp crispness to it decades later. I suspect it may not catch everyone and it may seem somewhat dry and traditional. But for this then late teenager, it opened my eyes to a world vision which has stated with me ever since. I was also fortunate enough to have met a few of the participants from a workd that had rapidly changed when they were in their youth. Yet a world that was still
In need of liberation. Looking forward to the
Uploads. Thanx for making it happen, Juan

Battlescarred

7 years 8 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Great that The Vanguard is now online. Very well done.

Juan Conatz

7 years 8 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Finally managed to split the PDF and have been adding issues. I may need some help identifying some of the writers' real names. For example, I know that Sam Weiner was Sam Dolgoff and Abe Coleman was Abe Bluestein, but other pen names I'm unfamiliar with.

Juan Conatz

7 years 8 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

It seems I have a full run of this, but not absolutely sure. There are 30 issues in this collection, but there's a gap between Vol. 1, No. 8 (May-June 1933) and Vol.2, No. 1 (March 1935). So either Vanguard was not being published during this time, or the collection I have, which is a reprint from the 1970s did not include these issues.

Also, I'm continuing to have difficulties doing anything with the large, high quality PDF. Almost every time I attempt to split it, my browser crashes. Now, I have a 5 year old netbook, so I'm sure that's part of it, but I went to use the Twin Cities IWW office computers and was having similar problems. The first 3 issues that were posted are the high quality versions, but I'm afraid all subsequent issues are going to be lower quality. These are from the PDF that I compressed. It is still readable, but I usually strive to make the best quality available, so I'm a bit annoyed and frustrated that I'm having problems with this, even though it is still readable.

Juan Conatz

7 years 8 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

I just completed uploading these. It took many hours, but the full run of the publication is now online in individual issue format. If you're interested in what American anarchists were saying about the Spanish Civil War, CIO, IWW, National Socialism and other topics of the 1930s, here's where to look.

Little sad to be done with it, as over the last 2 weeks had been reading and learning a lot about the times Vanguard was in and who their writers were.

WithDefiance

7 years 8 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Maybe with your knowledge now you could write a piece on it, reflecting on the magazine and maybe highlighting some of the more interesting articles.

I think its a great job you did and an effort well worth, giving such a thing back to the movement. Its great that its also in our hands now instead of individuals or state-run archives.

syndicalist

7 years 8 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Ed note: These few lines describe what the youthful comrades of the original Vanguard Group set out as their founding perspective in April of 1932. Most of the group members were in their 20s. I believe I recall Dolgoff saying he was the oldest member at age 30. The Group were generally sons and daughters of immigrants or they themselves arrived in America at a young age.

While the language may sound dated, it is anarchist to the core. In time, as the publication matured, so did many of the articles. The Vanguard became a source
for in depth information and theory, written by many renowned militants.

Although the Vanguard Group did not achieve in the development of a movement for the “great historical task of social reconstruction”, it did attempt to initiate a conversation amongst anarchists and syndicalists that through organization and revolutionary ideas anything could be possible.

The tidal wave of the defeat of the Spanish Revolution, the surge in authoritarian communist parties, the rise of centralized and bureaucratic “industrial unionism” and fascism overtook the efforts of a small but heartedly group of revolutionaries.

In the words of The Vanguard Group:

“We are an anarchist-communist group. We are of the opinion that the great struggle for the liberation of the individual from all forms of authority cannot be divorced from the struggle for a socialized economy based on the principles of human solidarity. …

“We call ourselves a Vanguard group. We want to revive here, in America, the great anarchist idea of a revolutionary Vanguard, the anarchist idea of the role and place of an active revolutionary minority in the great mass struggles of today and the near future. The idea of an active revolutionary Vanguard is not a specifically communist idea [Ed note: as meaning Leninist]. The communists distorted it, degraded it to the level of a hierarchical apparatus. We anarchists also believe in the idea of a revolutionary Vanguard, but we do not claim any divine rights to it. We do not claim to be the only true mouthpiece of the dialectical process of historical infallibility; we want to work in free competition with the other groupings and forces struggling for the emancipation of humanity. We want to hold before the genuine and sincere elements of the revolutionary movement of America, the anarchistic idea of such a Vanguard --- an association of free, rebellious spirits, united for a common purpose and a common struggle, embodying in their form of association the principles of a free society….

“We are also a youth group. Not that the mere fact of having a majority of its members made up of young people. We don’t set any age qualifications upon entrance into our group; we even welcome older comrades, with better knowledge of the anarchist fundamentals and a riper experience in the movement. But we do want to orient our work upon American youth mainly. We are of the opinion that the anarchist movement of America has woefully neglected the elementary task of building up a youth movement. Cooped up within the confines of little national colonies, broken up and fragmented into water-tight compartments of national movements, it never rose to the realization of the urgency of the youth movement. It could not think in terms of American life. Its future and the place of the anarchist movement in it. It cut out itself off from the source of all hope in the life of any movement ----- and immediate contact with the younger generation. …”

“Vanguard: An Anarchist Youth Publication”, Vol. 1 No. 1 April 1932

Juan Conatz

7 years 7 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Yeah, at some point, I would like to write an intro on this page that gives a bit of a biographical sketch of the publication and some of its writers. Not making any promises, but I put it on the list of writing I'd like to get to this summer.

Juan Conatz

7 years 7 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Rather than write an intro or history myself, I decided to just edit the parts about Vanguard from Andrew Cornell's dissertation into a single article, which can be found here: http://libcom.org/library/history-vanguard

Juan Conatz

6 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Looking back on this, some 8 months later, I have to say, out of everything I've ever put on libcom, I'm proudest to have tracked this down and made it available here. Was just wondering if anyone else has had the chance to read through some of these?

syndicalist

6 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Not that anyone would give a rats ass, but I am appreciative having personally known a number of the participants. Wealth of info

A history of Vanguard

A history by Andrew Cornell of Vanguard, an anarchist journal produced during the 1930s in New York. Taken from Cornell's excellent “For a world without oppressors: U.S. Anarchism from the Palmer Raids to the Sixties"

Submitted by Juan Conatz on June 13, 2015

In 1932, the Vanguard Group formed. It would become the leading English-language voice of anarcho-syndicalism in the interwar period. Vanguard began as a circle of a halfdozen anarchists in their twenties and early thirties who met under the auspices of the Road to Freedom Group and through their parents’ involvement in New York’s Jewish anarchist milieu. The political direction of the group was shaped primarily by Abe Bluestein and his friend Sam Dolgoff, working under the tutelage of an older activist, Mark Schmidt.

The Vanguard Group and launched its organ, Vanguard: A Libertarian Communist Journal, partially to counteract anti-organizationalist and commune-building tendencies in anarchism. Clara Freidman, a founding member, explained, “Our purpose was to work out a positive program, to deal with anarchism in less amorphous and more concrete terms, to show it was a viable social philosophy.”1 Dolgoff elaborated:

We wanted a paper which would appeal to people who have a modicum of common sense and who actually want to read an explanation of what’s going on that will give a feasible and intelligible approach to the problem of socialism. To present the classic anarchism of Kropotkin and Bakunin, and to some extent Prodhoun, and the real anarchist movements that have roots among the people, among the masses and the labor movement, and that puts anarchism in the perspective as a part and parcel of the socialist movement. We considered ourselves to be the left wing of the socialist movement. We were socialist anarchists, we were not individualists, or all sorts of things. So we called ourselves an anarchist-communist journal to differentiate ourselves from the others.2

The Vanguard Group also included Dolgoff’s wife, Esther, and his younger brother, Tommy. Bluestein’s wife Selma, and his City College friends Sidney Soloman and Roman Weinrob participated in the founding meeting, which took place in the home of Clara Friedman. Freidman’s father was an officer in the ILGWU and served, for a time, as secretary of the Jewish Anarchist Federation. Freedman served as the Vanguard Group’s secretary, and, according to another member, “did fives times as much work as anybody else: correspondence, selling papers, organizing meetings, debates, and lectures.”3 Though the group was formed by the children of Jewish immigrants, it eventually attracted some members with different ethnic and racial backgrounds. Eddie Wong, according to Bluestein, was “an Anarchist from China. He had to escape from China because otherwise he would have been executed.”72 In New York, Wong joined the Vanguard Group and translated works by Kropotkin into his native language. Together with Vanguard member Yat Tone and other Chinese anarchists, Wong established a cooperatively-owned Chinese restaurant located near Union Square that hosted fundraising dinners for the movement.4 The Vanguard Group also claimed a few Italians, a handful of Irishmen, and a single African- American member, Glenn Carrington. Carrington, who was gay, worked as a parole officer, and occasionally wrote short articles for Vanguard on “the negro question” under the name George Creighton.5

Abe Bluestein recalled, “We had one guiding teacher, you might say, who was older than us, a very intelligent, very well-read man.”6 Mark Schmidt had lived in the United States for years, but had returned to Russia when the revolution broke out, only to sail west again after becoming disillusioned with the Bolshevik regime. Dolgoff acknowledged that Schmidt’s “erudition, his knowledge of anarchist ideas and history, his revolutionary experience, all helped to clarify and work out the orientation of Vanguard.”7 Moreover, according to Bluestein, he “had great energy and drive and kept us together as a group more than we would have been if left to ourselves.” Schmidt, writing under the pen-name Senex, contributed some of the most original and sharply argued articles that Vanguard printed. However, some of his personal traits also proved to be liabilities for the organization. Louis Slater remembered, “When someone made a mistake, he laughed mockingly.”8 Clara Freidman (Soloman) likewise found him “ungeblozn [puffed up], to use a Yiddish expression, unapproachable.” She recalled that “he would work on one person at a time and gain control of them…He took a dislike to certain people, and he had contempt for women, whom he considered inferior.”9

The principle work of the group was the publication of Vanguard: An Anarchist Communist Journal, which it issued monthly when funds allowed. The paper reached a peak circulation of 3,000 to 4,000 subscribers, many of them abroad. Dolgoff recalled that it maintained “a good circulation and a good reputation. We had a very good staff of foreign correspondents.”10 Indeed, the journal carried regular contributions from the likes of Emma Goldman, Alexander Berkman, the German anarcho-syndicalist Rudolf Rocker, and officers of the French and Spanish syndicalist labor federations, among others. Vanguard was more of a theoretical journal than newspapers like The Road to Freedom or Man!; while Man! advocated a “planless anarchism” the Vanguard Group launched its publication with a vision of anarchist-communism so detailed it spanned three issues.

Vanguard believed in organizing working people to struggle for immediate demands in the short term and to organize a general strike or insurrection capable of instituting a self-managed communist society in the future. According to Sidney Soloman, “In Vanguard we made no hard and fast distinction between anarchist-communism and anarcho-syndicalism, but we were not anarchist-individualists.”11 Like Kropotkin, the group desired a society that provided for each according to their needs, instead of according to their labor input. However, Vanguard believed, alongside figures like Rudolf Rocker and G.P. Maximoff, that the surest route to such a end goal under contemporary conditions was the via the creation of powerful, revolutionary labor unions. While Man! portrayed labor unions as a means of containing working people’s spontaneous rebellions, Vanguard saw radical unions as the primary instruments to initiate a self-managed industrial order. Vanguard distinguished itself clearly, then, from avowedly individualist anarchists who insisted on the right to private property, as well as those that sought to straddle or synthesize individualist and socialist perspectives. While this established a clarity of vision, the editors’ interpretation of what issues smacked of individualism left the contents narrowly focused: anything “bohemian,” such as consideration of modern art, or the promotion of progressive gender roles, was out.

The editors of Vanguard insisted on presenting a more clearly defined vision for how to create change than their counterparts at Road to Freedom or Man!. To be effective, they believed, members of anarchist groups must go beyond “vague adherence to elementary generalities” and share a significant degree of political unity. “The members of such a group must agree upon the general tenets of its anarchist philosophy as well as upon its concrete form of expression in the field of social action; upon the general tactical line coming as the crystallized experience of the anarchist movement as a whole, as well as upon the local strategy, evolved in accordance with the specific needs of each and every place and historical moment.”12

Despite it’s outspoken intention to organize and provide leadership in the movement, the group was conscious that taking the name “Vanguard” would be contentious, especially during a period when Communists were so intent on claiming that mantle. Demonstrating a clear grasp of Marxist philosophy, the group explained:

We want to revive here, in America, the great anarchist idea of a revolutionary Vanguard, the minority in the great mass struggles of today and the near future. The idea of an active revolutionary Vanguard is not a specifically communist idea. The communists distorted it, degraded it to the level of a hierarchical apparatus. We anarchists also believe in the idea of a revolutionary Vanguard, but we do not claim any divine rights. We do not claim to be the only true mouthpiece of the dialectical process of history, or the vicarious representatives of the will of the proletariat.13

Vanguard admitted it did not yet have a fully coherent program to present, but it did not dismiss questions of vision and strategy as unimportant or an imposition on future generations. Rather, contributors sought to chip away at hard questions in a practical manner. For example, group members dedicated a series of articles to theorizing an anarchist “transition program”—a concept likely to reek of Bolshevism to many of their contemporaries. The group also critiqued the idea of building anarchist colonies as a sufficient means of making change, and blasted anarchists content to spend their life conducting such “experiments.” Anonymous contributor wrote:

An experiment…cannot be indefinitely pursued, without taking stock of all previous failures and without introducing a certain variant in each and every attempt…The history of such attempts, for almost a century, to solve the social problem via colony building has clearly shown the futility of such a method. To keep on repeating the same attempts, without an intelligent appraisal of all the numerous failures in the past is not to uphold the right to experiment, but to insist upon one’s right to escape from the hard facts of social struggle into the world of wishful belief.14

Against such strategic complaisance, Vanguard advocated a hard-nosed anarcho-syndicalist approach and asserted the need for wide scale organizing. As mostly second generation immigrants, who grew up speaking English and attending public school in the United States, the Vanguard Group presented a budding understanding of the toll the profound shift in the population of the United States, following the restrictive immigration laws of 1924, was taking on the anarchist movement. They declared themselves a “youth group,” not because they restricted membership based on age, but because they believed that their was a strategic necessity for the movement to focus on bringing young people into the fold.

We are of the opinion that the anarchist movement of America has woefully neglected the elementary task of building up a youth movement. Cooped up within the confines of little national colonies, broken up and fragmented into water-tight compartments of national movements, it never rose to the realization of the urgency of the youth movement. It could not think in terms of American life, its future and the place of the anarchist movement in it.15

For all its intention to develop an anarchism relevant to daily lives of Americans living outside of European immigrant enclaves, however, the group devoted increasing amounts of space to the consideration of events transpiring in Europe. This is not entirely surprising, given the international character of the economic depression and, especially, the spread of fascism and the deepening hold of Stalinism affecting Europe and the Soviet Union. Vanguard covered all these developments from an anti-authoritarian perspective. However, the editors also dedicated hundreds of column inches each year to the activities of anarchists syndicalist unions in France, Spain, and elsewhere in Europe, even finding hope at one point in the burgeoning Bulgarian movement.

The Vanguard Group maintained a hall in the vicinity of Union Square. It had its own study and discussion circles, debated other New York City-based young left groups, and held entertainment events as fundraisers. Members took short trips throughout the Northeast seeking to recruit new members and presenting lectures on anarchism to college students. Bluestein recalled, “In addition to our magazine, we conducted forums and lectures and made soapbox speeches on street corners, getting into fights with the Communists all the time, protected by Wobblies with iron pipes wrapped with hankerchiefs.”16 Vanguard sought to develop a network of young anarchist groups around the country as a contribution to a broader resurgence, but was generally unsuccessful in launching groups with much staying power outside of the New York region.

In 1933 Rudolf Rocker was forced to flee Germany under threat from the Nazis. Other anarchists residing there also left abruptly upon Hitler’s rise to power. Mollie Steimer and her partner Senya Fleshin relocated to Paris. Rocker emigrated to the United States and settled at the Mohegan Colony. The Vanguard Group was honored to host a lecture for him in New York—Rocker’s first public presentation in English—and to help him arrange a speaking tour to alert American workers to the dangers of Nazism. The Vanguard Group also began developing a close relationship with the legendary Italian anarchist, labor organizer, and anti-fascist, Carlo Tresca, when it rented space in the same building as the offices of his newspaper, Il Martello. (The IWW also maintained an office in the building, 94 Fifth Avenue.) When the Vanguard Group was unable to continue funding publication of its periodical in 1934, Tresca offered the group one page in each issue of his Italian language newspaper, Il Martello (The Hammer). Vanguard provided content for this English language page until it was able to secure enough funds to return to printing an entire journal in March of 1935.17

Vanguard members, most notably Roman Weinrebe, contributed significant amounts of time to the legal defense of anti-fascist militants engaged in physical confrontations with Italian American fascists.18 This partnership with Tresca ensured that members of Vanguard would be treated with hostility by the Italian anarchists grouped around L’Adunata dei Refretari and Man!.

Even though the Vanguard Group saw itself as a youth organization, in 1933 it established the Rebel Youth, a circle of anarchists “even younger” than the membership of Vanguard itself, sometimes also referred to as the “Vanguard Juniors.” Members of Vanguard helped Rebel Youth establish study groups and lectured to them on anarchism and contemporary events. Initiated in 1932 by Irving Sterling, the members of Rebel Youth were junior and senior high school students, many the children of anarchists and other radicals. Sterling, a high school student in Brownsville, Brooklyn, had been raised in the anarchist movement. He grew up attending [/i]Freie Arbeter Shtime[/i] dinners and participating in May Day parades. Among approximately twenty other members, the group also included David Koven, who would help lead anarchism in new directions during the 1940s and 1950s.19

A second circle of Vanguard Juniors developed in the Bronx at about the same time. Audrey Goodfriend, a daughter of Jewish anarchists active in Freie Arbeiter Shtimme circles, launched the Young Eagles with three friends when she was fourteen. Soon Abe Bluestein, who lived in a nearby housing co-op, began a Saturday morning study group with the Young Eagles which eventually attracted other neighborhood high school radicals, such as David Thoreau Wieck. The Young Eagles eventually became incorporated into the Vanguard network. Goodfriend remembers, “We would read [Berkman’s] The ABC of Anarchism; we would read an article from the Vanguard and discuss. And we read some Kropotkin or talked about Kropotkin.”20 Rebel Youth organized fundraisers and social events with the Vanguard Group proper. The February 1933 issue of the journal, for example, advertised a “Dance and Entertainment” in which Rebel Youth was to present two one-act plays and an interpretive dance. Eventually some of the members joined the Vanguard Seniors, while others continued to attend the group’s events and operate on the periphery.

The creation of the Vanguard Junior groups were likely Vanguard’s most successful organizing effort. In principle, the the group maintained a commitment to organizing on two fronts simultaneously. It believed, first, in building the power of the labor movement by organizing all working people into radical industrial unions. Secondly it sought to expand the ranks of the anarchist movement itself, so that anarchists might intervene more effectively in all the progressive mass movements of the day. However, the group made certain decisions that stymied that commitment to organizing in practice.

In 1933 the new group was handed an opportunity to take part in a campaign to increase the number of New York City garment workers represented by the ILGWU. After the divisive “war” between Communists and socialists in the mid-1920s, the union had begun to fall under the influence of organized crime. In 1933, David Dubinsky, the union’s president, launched an effort reorganize the union “on a new, clean basis” while revitalizing it through a massive membership drive. Recognizing its core of organizers to be insufficient for the task, the union’s leaders requested the assistance of five leftist youth organizations from the city. The Young People’s Socialist League (youth group of the Socialist Party), the League for Industrial Democracy (another social democratic organization), The Young Circle Leauge, the Youth Section of the Communist Opposition (former Communist Party leader Jay Lovestone’s organization), and the Vanguard Group were invited to a joint meeting in February. The youth groups of the Communist Party and the Trotskyist Socialist Workers Party were not invited. Dubinsky and his colleagues appealed to the assembled radical youth to encourage the members of their respective organizations to serve as volunteer organizers in the campaign.

The next issue of Vanguard carried a report about the meeting signed S. Morrison, the pen name of Sidney Soloman:

At the general conference on February 3rd, all the participating groups, except the Vanguard, pledged their support in the campaign, in strikes, in picketing, etc. Their attitude was apparently one of complete acceptance of the A.F. of L. principles and tactics…The Vanguard Group, however, was of the opinion that an unqualified acceptance of that which is handed down by the A.F. of L. would have resulted in an utter waste of its efforts, and the assistance in the continuation of the same useless and noxious work of organizing limited, ineffective, politically controlled craft unions.

The Vanguard members present declared their approval of the idea of the organizing drive in principle. However, they demanded that the ILGWU leadership first create a document committing the union to “full worker’s democracy within the union,” total rejection of using gangsters, “complete dissociation from any political clique,” commitment to organize on industrial rather than craft lines, and a commitment to revolutionary anti-capitalist goals. Not surprisingly the union leaders at the table did not immediately adopt the Vanguard Group’s resolution, but agreed to give it “careful consideration.” The report ended with a note of confidence that the issues members raised would be further debated at “subsequent discussion conferences,” and would eventually steer the campaign in a more revolutionary direction.21 Apparently, however, no further conferences were held.

Five years later, during an uptick in support for anarchism occasioned by the Spanish Civil War, the Vanguard Group held a meeting to strategize about expanding its own ranks. The assembled comrades agreed that it was unwise to undertake “practical work” until they had a larger membership and more resources at their disposal. Therefore priority was placed on increasing the combined membership of the groups to at least one hundred members in the coming months. The gathered comrades agreed that “Our efforts must be directed toward, mainly though not exclusively, those elements who are already sufficiently class-conscious. We do not have the facilities at present to undertake mass propaganda or mass educational work among new-comers to the revolutionary arena.” Instead, they decided that efforts should be aimed at “the many sincere and class-conscious revolutionists who are today disillusioned with the Marxist movements and who have libertarian tendencies.”22 The Vanguard Group, then, adopted a strategy of increasing its membership by winning over members and sympathizers of other radical tendencies, by promoting its literature, hosting public events, and organizing study groups. The members believed, to paraphrase Proudhon, membership was the mother, not the daughter, of political engagement.

Reflecting back on his experiences in Vanguard forty years later, Sidney Soloman—author of the report on the ILGWU meeting—considered this approach Vanguard took to campaign work to be the group’s biggest error. Soloman believed the group refrained from action largely because Mark Schmidt discouraged it.

We were vigorous and wanted to do things…[Schmidt] never actually did anything. More than that, he prevented us from doing anything. He felt we were theoretically unprepared for action, such as labororganizing or forming cooperatives. He stopped us from organizing for the ILGWU…Schmidt got us to decline. The YPSL accepted and did useful work; hence their big reputation today. It was this failure to act that led to the collapse of our group and of the anarchist movement in New York.23

In retrospect, Vanguard members realized that they had put the horse before the cart in a number of respects. First, they assumed taking action required a perfected theoretical analysis, rather than recognizing that activity and theory were mutually constitutive parts of radical activity that must constantly inform one another in a circular process. Secondly, the young anarchists mistook their goals for preconditions of participation. Rather than viewing the opportunity to participate in the ILGWU organizing drive as an opportunity for anarchists to continue shaping the union in accordance with their vision, they rejected the opportunity as too compromising to their principles.

When the Spanish Civil War broke out in 1936, U.S. anarchists were not in a good position to aid their Iberian comrades. Freedom had ceased publication four years before, leaving Man! and Vanguard as the only English language anarchist periodicals published on a consistent basis. Newspapers in Yiddish, Spanish, Italian, and Russian still catered to immigrant anarchist circles that were aging and dwindling in size. Still, recognizing that the Spaniards represented the movement’s greatest hope for founding a new society based on anti-authoritarian principles, U.S. anarchists mustered what energy they had to support the resistance to General Francisco Franco and the social revolution unfolding behind the front.

In early 1937 Abe and Selma Bluestein determined that they would travel to Spain to provide assistance to the CNT. Abe Bluestein made contact with the Spanish anarchists via Mark Mrachney, the editor at that time of the Freie Arbeiter Shtimme. Mrachney, a Russian Jew deported from the Soviet Union in 1922 alongside Maximoff, was personally acquainted with key players in the Spanish movement. Mrachney sent a letter to CNT chair Augustin Souchy, vouching for the Bluesteins’ commitment and abilities. Abe and Selma set sail for France in April of 1937 and entered Spain through a border checkpoint staffed by loyalists before making their way to Barcelona. They were welcomed at the CNT Casa de Trabajo (Worker’s House) and given accommodations in an anarchist-controlled hotel nearby. Abe was immediately assigned to work as an English radio announcer for CNT radio—a position he had no prior experience with. In addition to his radio broadcasts, which listeners with short-wave radios throughout Europe tuned in to, Abe sent written dispatches in English and Yiddish to the Freie Arbeiter Shtimme and Spanish Revolution, as well as the latter’s British equivalent, Spain and the World.24

The exigencies of the Depression, the conflict in Spain, and the upswing in radical activity during the Popular Front period in the United states created contradictory tendencies for the anarchist movement. During the late 1930s, the morale of the U.S. movement fluctuated in rhythm with the fortunes of the anarchists of Spain. The achievements of the rebels and the depredations of the fascists prompted more interest and sympathy for anarchism than activists had seen in many years. At an August 1938 meeting, the Vanguard Group noted “the present reawakening within our own movement,” and “an influx of new members into our ranks.” Yet by the Spring of the following year it had disintegrated completely.

In late 1938, Vanguard split into two groups. Many members of the Vanguard Group dated one another. When couples split and then began dating other members of the group, jealousy and resentment flared.25 Soloman notes that tensions also developed when the group’s “association with Il Martello was opposed by a few who preferred L’Adunata.”26 Audrey Goodfriend, who came to Vanguard from the Bronx Vanguard Juniors, was likely one such member, as we will see in the next chapter. Finally, the younger members respect for Mark Schmidt began to fade by the late- 1930s on grounds both personal and political. In addition to his manipulative behavior, Schmidt was drifting towards support for the Communist Party. He urged the Vanguard Group to join United Front organizations, which they refused to do.27 The threat of a fascist victory in Europe eventually moved Schmidt fully into the Communist camp. Later, Schmidt explained, “Without the rapid industrialization of the thirties, and even without collectivization, Russia could not have defeated fascism….It was Russia’s struggle against Hitler and fascism that led me to support it.”28

Abe and Selma Bluestein had returned to the United States in January. Sick of the petty quarrels, Abe and Lou Slater launched a new group with its own publication, a weekly newspaper called Challenge. Bluestein recalls, “The two papers didn’t disagree or fight with each other, we were just running in different ways. The main difference was that we wanted to work with the unions, and appeal to the unions, whereas the Vanguard was a theoretical journal exclusively.”29 The Challenge Group sought to create an agitational weekly that saw union members as a potential base to recruit more active militants from. Although ostensibly the responsibility of a collective, responsibilities for editing the new paper quickly fell largely into Bluestein’s hands. Working by day as a shipping clerk in the garment industry, and partially supported by Selma’s job as a painter under the auspices of the Works Progress Administration, Abe worked into the night to turn out an edition of Challenge every week. The paper was focused, more than any other anarchist paper since World War I, on being relevant to left leaning working people. It was partially subsidized by locals of the ILGWU and the Amalgamated Clothing Workers, which, even in 1938, retained a coterie anarchists in their ranks.30

The final issue of Vanguard was distributed in February 1939. Less than two months after the demise of Vanguard, Challenge also folded due to mounting debts with its printer. Always financially tenuous projects, contributions fell to almost nothing following the defeat of the Spanish anarchists. “The fascist victory disastrously undermined not only the morale of the readers but the morale of the members of the Vanguard Group itself,” Dolgoff admitted.31 Despite the knowledge that the anarchist movement was an insignificant force in U.S. social life, members had managed to continue their work through a faith built on hopes for the movement abroad. The defeat of the Spanish anarchists by Franco and his fascist allies, then, dealt a lethal blow.

Edited to become a stand-alone libcom.org article

  • 1Avrich, Anarchist Voices, 448.
  • 2Sam and Esther Dolgoff, interview, 1975, compact disc, LC.
  • 3Quoted in Avrich, Anarchist Voices, 450. Solomon later married Freidman, so his recollections may not be wholly unbiased. Nonetheless his comments indicate that although the group’s men did the preponderance of speaking and writing in the Vanguard Group, the unsung efforts of women were fundamental to keeping the Group’s projects operating smoothly.
  • 4Avrich, Anarchist Voices, 424, 444
  • 5Avrich, Anarchist Voices, 423-424, 450-451. Cf. George Creighton, “Self Determination for Black Belt,” Vanguard, April-May 1936, 12-14.
  • 6Bluestein, Oral History, C-5.
  • 7Dolgoff, Fragments, 23.
  • 8Avrich, Anarchist Voices, 444.
  • 9Avrich, Anarchist Voices, 448.
  • 10Sam and Esther Dolgoff, interview, 1975, compact disc, LC.
  • 11Avrich, Anarchist Voices, 451.
  • 12“A Declaration of Policy,” Vanguard, April 1932, 1-4.
  • 13“A Declaration of Policy,” Vanguard, April 1932, 2-3.
  • 14“From Our Mailbag,” Vanguard, January-February 1936, 23.
  • 15“A Declaration of Policy,” Vanguard, April 1932, 3.
  • 16Avrich, Anarchist Voices, 438.
  • 17“Why This Magazine?” Vanguard, March 1935, 1; Dolgoff, Fragments, 31.
  • 18Avrich, Anarchist Voices, 450.
  • 19Avrich, Anarchist Voices, 457-8.
  • 20Audrey Goodfriend, interview with author, November 10, 2008.
  • 21S. Morrison, “The I.L.G.W.U Calls Upon Youth,” Vanguard, February 1933, 8-11.
  • 22Vanguard Group Internal Bulletin, no. 1, Vertical File: Anarchism—Vanguard, LC
  • 23Avrich, Anarchist Voices, 451.
  • 24Bluestein, Oral History, C-10 to C-38; Avrich, Anarchist Voices, 439.
  • 25Clara Freedman left Lou Slater for Sidney Solomon. Then, when Slater began dating Elsie Milstein, Slater’s “own mentor,” Mark Schmidt, succeeded in winning Milstein away from him. Avrich, Anarchist Voices, 458. Schmidt launched personal attacks against Slater as part of his campaign to win Milstein’s affections. Sam Dolgoff later explained, “As far as I and the comrades were concerned, she had every right to live with whomever she pleased without interference. But Schmidt had no right whatever to try to drive this sincere comrade out of our movement by labeling him a scab without the slightest evidence to support his false charges.” Dolgoff, Fragments, 24.
  • 26Avrich, Anarchist Voices, 451.
  • 27Dolgoff, Fragments, 23-24.
  • 28Avrich, Anarchist Voices, 453.
  • 29Bluestein, Oral History, C-5 to C-7.
  • 30Bluestein, Oral History, H-8 to H-10, H-19, K-36.
  • 31Dolgoff, Fragments, 21.

syndicalist

7 years 7 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Awright slueths..... your next assignment is to find out information on the 1930s New York Group, the Libertarian Workers Group.

syndicalist

7 years 7 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Abe and Selma Bluestein had returned to the United States in January. Sick of the petty quarrels, Abe and Lou Slater launched a new group with its own publication, a weekly newspaper called Challenge. Bluestein recalls, “The two papers didn’t disagree or fight with each other, we were just running in different ways. The main difference was that we wanted to work with the unions, and appeal to the unions, whereas the Vanguard was a theoretical journal exclusively.”29 The Challenge Group sought to create an agitational weekly that saw union members as a potential base to recruit more active militants from. Although ostensibly the responsibility of a collective, responsibilities for editing the new paper quickly fell largely into Bluestein’s hands. Working by day as a shipping clerk in the garment industry, and partially supported by Selma’s job as a painter under the auspices of the Works Progress Administration, Abe worked into the night to turn out an edition of Challenge every week. The paper was focused, more than any other anarchist paper since World War I, on being relevant to left leaning working people. It was partially subsidized by locals of the ILGWU and the Amalgamated Clothing Workers, which, even in 1938, retained a coterie anarchists in their ranks.30

Herein lay the rub and a much more complex web:

" It was partially subsidized by locals of the ILGWU and the Amalgamated Clothing Workers, which, even in 1938, retained a coterie anarchists in their ranks."

The policies of the Challenge, like that of the Yiddish Freie Arbeiter Shittmer, were not critical of the right wing socialists of the ILGWU and ACW. Some of the parents of these comrades were ILGWU functionaries, many for decades. The paper really wasn't critical of the ILGWU or the ACW. The financial support was generally top down in the Locals. Old trade unionists that was still philosophically supportive. And then there were a few younger comrades who worked for the ILGWU as well. But let us not think that the support was strictly, exclusively or even big time from rank-and-filers.

This is a “nice” version written by someone who didn’t know the players or the politics. But it is generally a decent enough accounting of things.

fnbrilll

7 years 7 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

I'm not too familiar with ILGWU and ACW but wasn't there kind of a significant debsian style left-socialist wing? Or was that in 1920s

syndicalist

7 years 7 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Rushing now to get home. So I'll be brief, fast and perhaps somewhat sloppy, sorry.

fnbrilll

I'm not too familiar with ILGWU and ACW but wasn't there kind of a significant debsian style left-socialist wing? Or was that in 1920s

It's sorta complex and depends on what period of time we're talking about.

The trade union bureaucracy in the ILGWU (and largely ACW) of the right wing European social democratic sort.

The Jewish members were usually the most socialistic and anarchistic. They made up the bulk of both unions membership (more so ILGW) until the 1930s. The ACW Italians (who were many) were either social democractic and some were syndicalistic leaning. The Lithuanians in Chicago ACW were prolly the most "syndicalistic" in practice, but not so much ideologically from what I can tell. .

As the main socialist party went through its changes during the 1910s, so to did many members orientations change. The bulk in NYC ILGWU sorta went right wing (sp) - ypsl (left)- workers party(cp) split in cp lovestonites - small numbers of trots - smallish and declining numbers of anarchists

An interesting artilce can be found here: "The I.L.G.W.U. calls upon youth by S. Morrison"
http://libcom.org/library/vanguard-vol-1-no-6-february-1933

Vanguard (Vol. 1, No. 1, April 1932)

The Vol. 1, No.1, April 1932 issue of Vanguard, an anarchist publication produced in the 1930s out of New York.

Submitted by Juan Conatz on May 24, 2015

CONTENTS

-A Declaration of Policy
-The world crisis and anarchism
-Liberty
-Editorials
-Notices

Vanguard (Vol. 1, No. 2, July 1932)

The Vol. 1, No. 2, July 1932 issue of Vanguard, an anarchist journal published out of New York.

Submitted by Juan Conatz on May 24, 2015

CONTENTS

-Editorial notes
-Anarchist communism by Sam Weiner (a.k.a. Sam Dolgoff)
-If by Abe (Abe Bluestein)
-Revolutionary Spain by S.M.

Vanguard (Vol. 1, No. 3, August-September 1932)

The August-September 1932 issue of Vanguard, an anarchist journal published out of New York.

Submitted by Juan Conatz on May 24, 2015

CONTENTS

-The American workers and the Sacco-Vanzetti case
-Editorials
-Anarchist communism (continued) by Sam Weiner (a.k.a. Sam Dolgoff)
-The futility of the ballot by Abe Coleman (a.k.a. Abe Bluestein)
-The crisis in Germany by editors
-Conditions over Spain by V. Martinez

Vanguard (Vol. 1, No. 4, November 1932)

The November 1932 issue of Vanguard, an anarchist journal published out of New York.

Submitted by Juan Conatz on May 24, 2015

CONTENTS

-The crisis in Great Britain by S. Weiner & E. Weiner (a.k.a. Sam Dolgoff & Esther Dolgoff)

-The lesson of Chicago by Hippolyte Havel

-Editorial notes

-The futility of the ballot (continued) by Abel Coleman (a.k.a. Abe Bluestein)

-Anarchist-communism (concluded) by S. Weiner (a.k.a. Sam Dolgoff)

-News from Spain by V. Martinez

-An appeal

Vanguard (Vol. 1, No. 5, January 1933)

The January 1933 issue of Vanguard, an anarchist journal published out of New York.

Submitted by Juan Conatz on May 25, 2015

CONTENTS

-The political circus

-The student and the crisis by R. Winters

-Whither the libertarian movement? by Senex (a.k.a. Mark Schmidt)

-An anti-war congress: I.A.C. report by Grant Lowry

-Notes on Spain by S. Morrison (a.k.a. Sidney Solomon)

-Book review: 1919 by John Dos Passos, review by Senex (a.k.a. Mark Schmidt)

-Moving to a goal

Vanguard (Vol. 1, No. 6, February 1933)

The February 1933 issue of Vanguard, an anarchist journal published out of New York.

Submitted by Juan Conatz on May 25, 2015

CONTENTS

-The lesson of the German events by S.X.

-The farm revolt by R. Winters

-The policy of the International by A. Shapiro

-The I.L.G.W.U. calls upon youth by S. Morrison (a.k.a. Sidney Solomon)

-International notes

-The union of anarchist forces in Bulgaria

-Book review: Rebels and Renegades by Max Nomad, review by Abe Coleman (a.k.a. Abe Bluestein)

-Book review: A New Deal by Stuart Chase and A Planned Society by George Soule, review by by Senex (a.k.a. Mark Schmidt)

Vanguard (Vol. 1, No. 7, April 1933)

The April 1933 issue of Vanguard, an anarchist journal published out of New York.

Submitted by Juan Conatz on May 25, 2015

CONTENTS

-The panic and its aftermath by S.X.

-The Paris Commune by S. Weiner (a.k.a. Sam Dolgoff)

-The economics of the transition period by Gregori Maximov

-The twilight of the A.F. of L by H.S. Sigmond

-The infallible Trotskyites by Grant Lowry

-International notes

-Book review: For Revolution by V.F. Calverton, review by Senex (a.k.a. Mark Schmidt)

Vanguard (Vol. 1, No. 8, May-June 1933)

The May-June 1933 issue of Vanguard, an anarchist journal published out of New York.

Submitted by Juan Conatz on May 25, 2015

CONTENTS

-The "New Deal" by S.X.

-Socialism and the principles of the International Working Men's Association by Rudolf Rocker

-The spirit of revolt in the American labor movement by S. Weiner (a.k.a. Sam Dolgoff)

-Towards barbarism by by Senex (a.k.a. Mark Schmidt)

-The anarchists in Catalonia

-The political and economic organization of society by Isaac Puente

-The Vanguard group by Secretary of the Vanguard group

-A communist reveals his mentality by S.L.

Vanguard (Vol. 2, No. 1, March 1935)

The March 1935 issue of Vanguard, an anarchist journal published out of New York.

Submitted by Juan Conatz on May 25, 2015

CONTENTS

-Why this magazine?

-Reversing the trend

-Landmarks of Thermidor

-A Daily Worker columnist disposes of the anarchist movement by Onofre Dallas (a.k.a. Maximiliano Olay)

-Addendum by Abe Bluestein

-Fascist America? by Sam Weiner (a.k.a. Sam Dolgoff)

-Exiles in France

-Book review: Fontamara by Ignazio Silone, review by M. Alexanders

Vanguard (Vol. 2, No. 2, April 1935)

The April 1935 issue of Vanguard, an anarchist journal published out of New York, with articles by Sam Dolgoff, Erich Mühsam, Sidney Solomon, and Abe Bluestein.

Submitted by Juan Conatz on May 25, 2015

CONTENTS

-The Paris Commune by S.X.

-Kronstadt

-An analysis of the Workers Party by S. Weiner (a.k.a. Sam Dolgoff)

-Leninism

-The dictatorship of the proletariat and the Soviet system by Erich Mühsam

-Excerpt from The Russian Revolution by Rosa Luxemburg

-A neglected task by S. Morrison (a.k.a. Sidney Solomon)

-Socialism redefined by S.X.

-The international movement: Spain, Argentina, USSR, Germany

-Review: The Black Pit (Theater Union), review by S.X.

-Review: Revolutionary Movement in Spain by M. Dashar, review by Abe Bluestein

Vanguard (Vol. 2, No. 3, May-June 1935)

The May-June 1935 issue of Vanguard, an anarchist journal published out of New York, with articles by Christiaan Cornelissen, Volin, and Sam Dolgoff.

Submitted by Juan Conatz on May 25, 2015

CONTENTS

-Modern weapons against modern counter-revolution by S.X.

-Relief for big business by R.W.

-Libertarian communism in the twentieth century by Christiaan Cornelissen

-The historic role of the state by Volin

-For an anarchist policy in the trade unions by S. Weiner (a.k.a. Sam Dolgoff)

-The international movement: Spain, Germany, Mexico, Canada

-"Democracy" in the USSR by S.X.

-Making a comeback by R.W.

-The new inquisition

-The libertarian groups

-Book review: The State in Theory and Practice by Harold Laski, review by S.X.

-Where we stand

Vanguard (Vol. 2, No. 4, July-August 1935)

The July-August 1935 issue of Vanguard, an anarchist journal published out of New York, with articles by Armando Borghi, Sidney Solomon and Sam Dolgoff.

Submitted by Juan Conatz on May 25, 2015

CONTENTS

-The Comintern has convened! by R.W.

-Nationalism: the root source of fascism by S.X.

-Seizure of the factories in Italy, 1920 by Armando Borghi

-Colonies: a short cut to freedom? by S. Morrison (a.k.a. Sidney Solomon)

-On the class war front by Roman Weinrebe

-Our mail box

-In answer to the Workers Age by S. Weiner (a.k.a. Sam Dolgoff)

-International movement: France, Sweden, Peru

-The Piesco frame-up

-Ferrero and Sallitto

Book review: The Russian Revolution by William Chamberlin, review by S.X.

-Building the future

-Financial statement

Vanguard (Vol. 2, No. 5, October-November 1935)

The October-November 1935 issue of Vanguard, an anarchist journal published out of New York, with articles by Sam Dolgoff, Gregori Maximov, and Sidney Solomon.

Submitted by Juan Conatz on May 25, 2015

CONTENTS

-War and the labor movement by I.A.C. Press Service

-The A.F. of L. convention by S.W. (a.k.a. Sam Dolgoff)

-Where is Petrini? by I.A.C. Press Service

-Counter-revolution and the Soviet Union by Gregori Maximov

-The transitional period by Senex

-The United Front by S. Weiner (a.k.a. Sam Dolgoff)

-What kind of unionism? by Roman Weinrebe

-On the class war front by S. Morrison (a.k.a. Sidney Solomon)

-The international movement: France, Spain

-From our mail box

-Book review: The Principles of Anarchism by Dr. J.A. Maryson, review by Senex (a.k.a. Mark Schmidt)

-Class war prisoners by J.Garcia

-For your immediate attention

-Financial statement

Vanguard (Vol. 2, No. 6, January-February 1936)

The January-February 1936 issue of Vanguard, an anarchist journal published out of New York, with articles by Sam Dolgoff, Peter Kropotkin, Tom Mooney, Emma Goldman, and Augustin Souchy.

Submitted by Juan Conatz on May 26, 2015

CONTENTS

-Peter Kropotkin: the struggle for a new liberty by Senex (a.k.a. Mark Schmidt)

-Prosperity: for whom? by S.W. (a.k.a. Sam Dolgoff)

-The First International by Peter Kropotkin

-The frame-up system by Tom Mooney

-Sanctions and the working class by Emma Goldman

-The transitional period (concluded) by Senex (a.k.a. Mark Schmidt)

-Who are the Progressives in the A.F. of L.? by S. Weiner (a.k.a. Sam Dolgoff)

-Social Security a la Townsend by S. Morrison (a.k.a. Sidney Solomon)

-Which way for the negro? by George Creighton (a.k.a. Glenn Carrington)

-From our mail box

-Left winds in Spain by Onofre Dallas (a.k.a. Maximiliano Olay).

-The United Front in France by Augustin Souchy

-The libertarian movement in Japan

-Book review: Karl Marx, His Life by Franz Mehring, review by Senex (a.k.a. Mark Schmidt)

-Class war prisoners

-Party splits by Roman Weinrebe

Vanguard (Vol. 3, No. 1, April-May 1936)

The April-May 1936 issue of Vanguard, an anarchist journal published out of New York, with articles by Sam Dolgoff and others.

Submitted by Juan Conatz on May 27, 2015

CONTENTS

-On the eve of the Spanish October

-Do we need a Farmer-Labor Party? by S. White

-Feudal socialism: is it an historical possibility? by Senex (a.k.a. Mark Schmidt)

-The role of progressives in the A.F. of L. by R. Winters

-On the class war front by S. Weiner (a.k.a. Sam Dolgoff)

-Self-determination for the Black Belt by Stephen Craig

-A hollow appeal by Senex (a.k.a. Mark Schmidt)

-International notes: Spain, France, USSR

-Alexy Borovoy

-Book review: Nations Can Live At Home by P.O. Willcox, review by Senex (a.k.a. Mark Schmidt)

-Announcements

Vanguard (Vol. 3, No. 2, June-July 1936)

The June-July 1936 issue of Vanguard, an anarchist journal published out of New York, with articles by Sidney Solomon, Sam Dolgoff, and Emma Goldman.

Submitted by Juan Conatz on May 28, 2015

CONTENTS

-Current trends

-The new recovery ballyhoo by S. Morrison (a.k.a. Sidney Solomon)

-The presidential campaign by R.W.

-The Mike Lindway frame-up

-Soviet Russia's new constitution by Senex (a.k.a. Mark Schmidt)

-On the class war front by S.Weiner (a.k.a. Sam Dolgoff)

-Working class martyrs by Jack White

-The Popular Front in action by Senex (a.k.a. Mark Schmidt)

-Anarchists and elections by Emma Goldman

-The international movement: Spain, France

-Notes on new books

-A letter from Emma Goldman

Vanguard (Vol. 3, No. 3, August-September 1936)

The August-September 1936 issue of Vanguard, an anarchist journal published out of New York, with articles by Emma Goldman and others.

Submitted by Juan Conatz on June 2, 2015

CONTENTS

-Spain: towards social revolution by Senex (a.k.a. Mark Schmidt)

-What is this 'Communismo libertario'?

-Hail the Spanish working class! by the IWA

-Steel and the CIO by Leon Green

-Pogroms in Palestine by E. Novenad

-In a Soviet village: a morality play by David Lawrence

-It can happen here by Senex (a.k.a. Mark Schmidt)

-International chronicle: labor and government in France, Oran and Casablanca, USSR Zezl Muehsan arrested

-Justice in America: Free Mooney and Billings, Mike Lindway: IWW militant, deportations

-Negro question in the US, a review by George Creighton a.k.a. Glenn Carrington

-Alexander Berkman's last days by Emma Goldman

-In memoriam Alexander Berkman

-Justice in America

Vanguard (Vol. 3, No. 4, October-November 1936)

The October-November 1936 issue of Vanguard, an anarchist journal published out of New York, with articles by Sidney Solomon and Emma Goldman.

Submitted by Juan Conatz on June 5, 2015

CONTENTS

-"Whom the gods would destory..." by I. Radinowsky

-Highlights of the Spanish Revolution by S. Morrison (a.k.a. Sidney Solomon)

-Anarchist position on CIO

-Elections: the long range view by Senex (a.k.a. Mark Schmidt)

-Towards libertarian communism by Senex (a.k.a. Mark Schmidt)

-The Soviet executions by Emma Goldman

-John L. Lewis: new messiah by David Lawrence

-Real wages in the Russian city by D. Rosenblum

-Justice at home and beyond

Vanguard (Vol. 3, No. 5, December 1936)

The December 1936 issue of Vanguard, an anarchist journal published out of New York, with articles by Sam Dolgoff, Max Nomad, and Luigi Bertoni.

Submitted by Juan Conatz on June 6, 2015

CONTENTS

-Makhno interviews Lenin

-War on the waterfront by Sam Weiner a.k.a. Sam Dolgoff

-The other face of fascism by Max Nomad

-Towards libertarian communism (continued) by Senex (a.k.a. Mark Schmidt)

-The A.F. of L. convention by Joseph Zack Kornfeder

-November, now, has come and gone again

-War and revolution by Luigi Bertoni

-Spanish revolution from an ivory tower

-Spain's lessons ignored by French Popular Front

-Conference of Polish anarchists

-"Moscow trials" on trial in New York

-Libertarians in support of Spanish revolution

-Vanguard group expands activities

-Another important center of libertarian activities

Schmoopie

6 years 8 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Just flagging this page for my personal attention to refer to later. Don't know how else to do it.

Auld-bod

6 years 8 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Schmoopie, look above your post, there is a blue line starting: add child page. Click on 'bookmark this' and it will be listed on your account page.

syndicalist

6 years 8 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

This is a decent issue.

For those wanting to get a small taste of movement news, this had a couple of interesting pieces

Schmoopie

6 years 8 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Thank you Auld-bold.

Vanguard (Vol. 3, No. 6, February-March 1937)

The February-March 1937 issue of Vanguard, an anarchist journal published out of New York.

Submitted by Juan Conatz on June 7, 2015

CONTENTS

-Kropotkin as historian by Dr. Jacob Shatsky

-Problems of revolutions in Spain by Senex (a.k.a. Mark Schmidt)

-The new economy in Catalonia by L. Frank

-An open letter to Leon Trotsky by David Lawrence

-The Russian Jacobins

-Gentlemen, be seated! by Joseph Zack Kornfeder

-New York W.P.A. unions by M.W.

-Dual unionism by S. Weiner (a.k.a. Sam Dolgoff)

-A letter from Barcelona

-Correspondence

Vanguard (Vol. 3, No. 7, June 1937)

The June 1937 issue of Vanguard, an anarchist journal published out of New York, with articles by Gregori Maximov, Sidney Solomon, Augustin Souchy, Camillo Berneri and Max Nomad.

Submitted by Juan Conatz on June 7, 2015

CONTENTS

-Anarchism and economics by Gregori Maximov

-Betrayal in Spain by S. Morrison (a.k.a. Sidney Solomon)

-Manifesto of Libertarian Youth of Catalonia

-Toward a new July 19th by Augustin Souchy

-Why Malaga fell by Augustin Souchy

-Open letter to Federica Montsent by Camillo Berneri

-People's Front for China by I.A.C.

-Regarding Trotsky: a rebuttal by David Lawrence

-Rise of the C.I.O. by Joseph Zack Kornfeder

-The state and classes in the USSR by M. Yvon

-From IWW to GPU by Max Nomad

Vanguard (Vol. 3, No. 8, August 1937)

The August 1937 issue of Vanguard, an anarchist journal published out of New York, with articles by Rudolf Rocker, Sam Dolgoff, Gregori Maximov and Pierre Besnard.

Submitted by Juan Conatz on June 7, 2015

CONTENTS

-Calendar of counter-revolution

-Spain faces the future by Senex (a.k.a. Mark Schmidt)

-Sacco and Vanzetti in retrospect by Harry Kelly

-Romanticism and nationalism by Rudolf Rocker

-Anarchism and economics by Gregori Maximov

-Democracy in the CIO by Sam Weiner (a.k.a. Sam Dolgoff)

-Social classes in France by Jumin

-Anarcho-syndicalism and anarchism by Pierre Besnard

-Entre nous

-Come into my parlor...

-Bread, wine and freedon by Liston M. Oak

Vanguard (Vol. 4, No. 1, November 1937)

The November 1937 issue of Vanguard, an anarchist journal published out of New York, with articles by Victor Serge, Sam Dolgoff and Sidney Solomon.

Submitted by Juan Conatz on June 7, 2015

CONTENTS

-Editorials

-A premature Luther by Dorothy Dudley

-The truth about Krondstadt by Victor Serge

-The Trotsky school of falsification by Senex (a.k.a. Mark Schmidt)

-Who slew Proletcult? by David Lawrence

-A note on libertarian communism by S.M. and R.W.

-Labor vs. politics in France by Jack White

-Unions and leaders by Sam Weiner (a.k.a. Sam Dolgoff)

-The F.A.I. speaks to the international libertarian movement

-Spain at the crossroads by S. Morrison (a.k.a. Sidney Solomon)

-Open letter to anarchists by Roman Weinrebe

Vanguard (Vol. 4, No. 2, February 1938)

The February 1938 issue of Vanguard, an anarchist journal published out of New York, with articles by Senex, Joseph Zack Kornfeder and Arnold Roller.

Submitted by Juan Conatz on June 7, 2015

CONTENTS

-Editorials

-Anarchist tactics in Spain: an answer to the new international by Senex (a.k.a. Mark Schmidt)

-Science and society by Liston M. Oak

-AFL-CIO: what now? by Joseph Zack Kornfeder

-Labor in action

-Anti-Lewis miners framed

-Fascism and Brazil by Arnold Roller (a.k.a. Siegfried Nacht)

-Labor in France by Jack White

-Reaction in Portugal

-Morocco

-Obituary: Angel Pestana

fnbrilll

7 years 8 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Joseph Zack Kornfeder was one of the folks behind the One Big Union Club along with Walter Nef. He was the former head of the CPUSA's TUUL.

Juan Conatz

7 years 8 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

I knew that he was CPUSA, and then Workers Party, but didn't know that. Do you have any more information on the One Big Union Club, who they were and what they did?

fnbrilll

7 years 7 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Very little info, although I bought a couple of the magazines, scanned and placed online. I get the idea that it was two extremely tallented organizers who could have done something but caught at beginning of WW2 and CIO.

OBUClub lasted until 1940. Nef continued with an organization called "Equality Club" - if memory serves... which advocated for Belamy style socialism. That lasted into early 1960s based in East San Francisco Bay.

Zack was a sad story. Was head of TUUL, went with Trots and then with RWL/Oehlerites. His wife and son were in the USSR and were held hostage when it looked like he'd go Trotskyist. His wife died in camps and son was adopted out and disappeared. Zack wound up testifying at one of the early versions of HUAC against the CPUSA.

Wiki page looks like Stalin/Trotsky line, strange because looks like writen by Tim Davenport of Early American Marxism fame. No mention of OBUClub or Oehlerite membership.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joseph_Zack_Kornfeder

https://www.marxists.org/archive/shachtma/1938/07/zackcase.html

https://archive.org/details/WhyOneBigUnion

Vanguard (Vol. 4, No. 3, April 1938)

The April 1938 issue of Vanguard, an anarchist journal published out of New York, with articles by Emma Goldman, Sidney Solomon and Rudolf Rocker.

Submitted by Juan Conatz on June 7, 2015

CONTENTS

-Labor solidarity and the Spanish tragedy by Senex (a.k.a. Mark Schmidt)

-What the Moscow trials mean to us

-The persecution of Marcus Graham and MAN! must stop

-Seamen fight state control by Jack White

-Why Austria went Nazi by Peter Groot

-A note on libertarian communism: part II by S. Morrison (a.k.a. Sidney Solomon)

-Is Canada going fascist? by Jack Fitzgerald

-Japanese anarchists oppose war

-Emma Goldman greets Vanguard group

-G.P.U. intrigues in America

-The student in politics by Stephen Craig

-The First International by Rudolf Rocker

-A letter from a clothing worker

Vanguard (Vol. 4, No. 4, July 1938)

The July 1938 issue of Vanguard, an anarchist journal published out of New York, with articles by Emma Goldman, Senex and Abraham Blecher.

Submitted by Juan Conatz on June 7, 2015

CONTENTS

-The "New Deal" and the new depression

-Treachery in Spain

-Trotsky protests too much by Emma Goldman

-Decentralization and socialism by Senex (a.k.a. Mark Schmidt)

-Illegal German unions adopt syndicalist tactics

-The maritime unions by Jack White

-CIO, AFL and syndicalism by Albert Orland (a.k.a. Abraham Blecher)

-Editorial comment

-IWMA boycott plan

-Russia woos fascism

-Vanguard organizing committee reports progress

Decentralization and socialism - Senex

Hardly any other idea advanced by the anarchist thinkers was met with as much derision in socialist circles as the idea of free communes, viewed as the nuclei of a new social order federated along political and economic lines.

Submitted by ASyndicalist on November 29, 2015

Hardly any other idea advanced by the anarchist thinkers was met with as much derision in socialist circles as the idea of free communes, viewed as the nuclei of a new social order federated along political and economic lines. To the great majority of socialists, who fully accepted the political premises of capitalism and who came to regard the latter’s centralizing tendencies in the economic field as the necessary prerequisite of Socialism, this emphasis upon political and economic decentralization was to be interpreted in terms of social psychology rather than social theory. To them it was a romantic escape into an idealized past, rationalized by the ideologists of a class which is being displaced by modem economic tendencies and whose inverted social vision has become strongly colored with nostalgic longings for an historically doomed pattern of life.
That there was a solid theoretical foundation to the anarchist ideal of free communes could hardly be gathered from the polemic writings of the Socialist theoreticians, all bent more upon lambasting this idea than taking up its theoretical challenge. How serious this challenge was, is proven by the fact that the sundry elements which went into the building up of this theoretical structure— and taking into consideration the pioneering nature of this work, the structure could not but be loose in many respects, abounding in brilliant generalizations from inadequate factual material—were independently developed by the respective branches of social science along lines laid down by the anarchist thinkers.
Thus the theoretical analysis of the role of the association in social life, first undertaken by Proudhon, has been furthered by the pluralists, the most progressive school of political science, whose conclusions in respect to the State lend themselves to the ideal of an ex-territorial commune as envisaged by Bakunin, Kropotkin and Reclus. The historic potentialities of the medieval city as a distinct political structure, first revealed to the modem view by Kropotkin in their progressive implications, have by now become clearly established by a half century of painstaking historical research.
And, finally, the decentralizing trend of modern technics, greatly obscured until now by the counter-acting tendency toward economic concentration produced by the abnormal factors operating in the capitalist society, has been asserting itself with such force that even practical people as far removed from any theoretical influences as Ford is, have been forced to reckon with it in their larger plans. There is a great deal of creative stirring in the various projects for the integration of industry and agriculture launched by Ford; and that is, of course, irrespective of the absurd, socially illiterate, construction which Ford himself tries to place upon his own experiments. The latter show that the idea of an integrated and regionally decentralized economy forming one of the theoretical bases of the ideal of the Anarchist commune has by now advanced beyond the theoretical stage and is forcing itself to the fore of economic actualities. “What was a bold prophecy on the part of Kropotkin,” writes Lewis Mumford in his latest book The Culture of Cities “has become a definite movement, as the technical means of economic regionalism and the social impulses that gave it direction have converged.”
And, without detracting the least from the great originality of this book, one might say that the latter has shown the convergence of various streams of modem thought and truly valuable social experimentation upon the focal point of Anarchism-Communism: the ex-territorial commune as the basic cell of a federated society. Mumford uses the term “region” instead of ex-territorial commune, but the connotations of his term are the same. For to Mumford a region is not just a political or geographic unit, but “the basic configuration in human life,” and also “a permanent sphere of cultural influences and a center of economic activities.” It is “an area large enough to embrace a sufficient range of interests, and small enough to keep the interests in focus and to make them a subject of direct collective concern.”
A region thus conceived is something altogether different from the political and administrative divisions which disregard functional boundaries. These divisions are the work of the tyrannous political state whose emergence upon the stage of modern history is viewed by Mumford as a colossal tragedy resulting from the disintegration of the superior social and political pattern of the medieval city. Like Kropotkin, Mumford rejects the pseudo-scientific view of the Marxists which attributes to the State the category of a historic necessity brought about by the nascent forms of modern Capitalism.
To Mumford, the triumph of the tyrannous political State over the medieval commune was no more of a historic necessity than the victory of Fascism, whose role and dynamics, as it is clear to every student of Kropotkin, are similiar to the one manifested by the emerging absolutist State. It was the logical end-point of a process of enthropy—a “running down” of collective energy, which, unlike the reverse process of a creative upswing, is historically determined in its various phases.
Mumford dedicates a considerable portion of the book to the analysis of the general forms of the medieval commune, which to him, as to every libertarian thinker, represents the greatest approach to the natural function of a city as a specialized organ of social transmission. The breakdown of this normal pattern of communal life was the starting point of the process of social disruption, of crystallization of chaos now reaching its highest in the development of a functionally perverted city—the megalopolis—and the threatened collapse of civilization.
The development of Capitalism can be understood only in the light of this tragic heritage. The concomitant process of mechanical integration and social disruption, the triumph of untrammeled individualism in economic life, the laissez-faire system of economy—whose idealization, according to our author, is “the democratization of the baroque conception of the despotic Prince,”—all take their origin in the historic twist caused by the breakup of the pattern afforded by the medieval commune. In this sense the development of “Capitalism” was not inevitable. Mechanical progress could take place on the basis of an integrated and not a disrupted pattern of social life. Throughout the development of what is called capitalism, Mumford traces the emergence and development of “mutants”— anticipatory forms of the future social life, needing but the strong focusing of social intelligence to bring out their significance for the social order to come.
Mumford also upholds one of the favorite ideas of Kropotkin and Reclus in respect to the role of social intelligence in forestalling the threatened collapse of civilization and the shaping of new forms. Conscious orientation can forstall the tragic end of the downgrade cycle of civilization and turn it into the starting point of a new regeneration cycle. “The rational definition of the ideal framework,” writes Mumford, “does not alone effect the necessary transition; it is an important element in changing the direction of the blind process. The strongest social organization and social pressures, without such well-defined goals, dissipate their energies in uneasy random efforts occasioned by passing opportunities.”
This conscious orientation will be centered not only upon the very general aims of the socialist ideal, such as the collective ownership of land and the means of production, but upon the evolvement of an integrated form of social life based upon regional units. And contrary to the opinions of the State socialists, this orientation upon regionalism (the Bakuninites in the First International called it Communalism) is much more in consonance with the basic trends of modern technics then the centralized State economics of the Marxists. The ruralization of industry and industrialization of agriculture are assuming the nature of clearly manifested economic tendencies. Mumford quotes to this effect the opinion of the well known scientist, Prof. Russell Smith, who writes in his book North America, “It is possible that we are at the beginning of an era of partial distribution of manufacturing over the land where food production, climate and commercial access are good.”
Professor Smith’s prognostications, made more than a decade ago, were not meant for any other system but private capitalism, which places almost insuperable obstacles in the way of the assertion of those centralizing tendencies in virtue of the monopolistic concentration of wealth and the terrific pull exercised by the megalopolis upon national life. With the removal of the present system, economic life will shape itself in greater obedience to the demands of modem technics which point in the direction of regional decentralization and integration of economic activities on a local scale. Specialization of industry and gigantic units are a liability under conditions demanding flexibility and ease of adaptation. And they will become superfluous with the growing mobility of power, its wider distribution from central energy stations. Along with that go other factors favoring decentralization such as the greater application of systematic knowledge in the exploitation of resources and organization of work; the growing importance of biological and social sciences; soil regeneration, selective breeding, intensification of crop yields through cultivation of plants in specially prepared tanks, and in general, the raising of agriculture to the status of a scientific industry leading to the leveling of agricultural advantages and the fusion of city and rural areas. Those are technical factors operating at the present, but in sketching the outlines of the collective society of the near future one should also take into consideration the incidence of a technic which is just emerging from its experimental stage: the utilization of new sources of power such as solar energy; storage of electric energy; special energy crops grown under conditions laid down by scientific agronomy; the use of television and the fuller exploitation of the airplane. And it is clear that each of these factors will contribute to the acceleration of the same tendency toward decentralization and wide distribution of agricultural, industrial and cultural advantages now centered only in certain areas.
Mumford effectively disposes of the stock arguments advanced against the idea of regional decentralization which were held up against Kropotkin by the state socialists of a generation ago. Regionalism, he declares, is not synonymous with autarchy, economic and cultural isolation. Nor does it connote the return to the parochialism and political independence of the medieval cities with their mutual strifes. The region will be the integrated cell but not an independent political unit, a miniature state possessing the attributes of political sovereignity. Inter-regional controls will exist, and for the time being, those controls will be vested in the political state stripped of its power functions and transformed into a “service” state. This is quite in keeping with the realistic trends in libertarian thought which is coming to grapple with the problem of the transitional period in a sober fashion. For political sovereignity can be attenuated but cannot be conjured out of existence by a revolutionary fiat. This realistic approach to the problem of the devolution of political power or “the dying away of the state” is fully accepted by Mumford, whose seminal ideas on this matter posses a great wealth of valuable suggestions which will prove of immeasurably greater importance for the practical solution of the problem then all the talmudistic hair splitting of the Marxists over a few scanty passages devoted by their theoreticians to the same problem of the state in a transitional period.
Inter-regional control does not have to coincide with the boundaries of the national state. It will tend to be world wide, just as the foreign trade of the region based upon a special sort of currency directly attached to the commodities exchanged and valid only for this specific function. This, together with free migration, lack of definite boundaries between regions, the extra-territorial linkage effected by the associations within the region and tending to be world-wide with the vanishing of the national state,—all that will gradually create the new world culture, permeated with universal values and shot through with the infinite variety of local motifs and cultural idioms of the regions.
This is the ideal of the federalist, libertarian socialism as taught by Proudhon, Bakunin and Kropotkin. And it is toward the reinterpretation of this ideal in the language of modem thought and realities that the latest book by Lewis Mumford— The Culture of Cities a book much too original to be forced into the mold of a single doctrine—makes such a powerful contribution.

From: Vanguard: A Libertarian Communist Journal. July, 1938. Vol. IV, №4. P. 8-10.

Vanguard (Vol. 4, No. 5 & 6, November 1938)

The November 1938 issue of Vanguard, an anarchist journal published out of New York, with articles by Sam Dolgoff, Rudolf Rocker, and Christiaan Cornelissen.

Submitted by Juan Conatz on June 7, 2015

CONTENTS

-The European crisis

-In the ranks of labor by Sam Weiner (a.k.a. Sam Dolgoff)

-Emma Goldman in Spain

-The danger of nationalism by Rudolf Rocker

-The P.O.U.M. frameup

-Campaign politics by Stephen Craig

-Agriculture in the transition period by Christian Cornelissen

-Discussion of a libertarian program

-Questions and answers

-Is France next? by Roman Weinrebe

-The world we fight in by A. Mac Rae

-The menace of deportation

-Russia's foreign policy by Senex (a.k.a. Mark Schmidt)

-Solidaridad internacional anti-fascista

-Revolutionary tactics in Spain by Senex (a.k.a. Mark Schmidt)

-IWW convention by S.W. (a.k.a. Sam Dolgoff)

-Vanguard organizing committee

Vanguard (Vol. 4, No. 7, February 1939)

The February 1939 issue of Vanguard, an anarchist journal published out of New York, with articles by Sam Dolgoff, Rudolf Rocker, Pierre Besnard and Emma Goldman.

Submitted by Juan Conatz on June 7, 2015

CONTENTS

-Where is the conscience of the world!

-America's dilemma

-Labor: a house divided by Sam Weiner (a.k.a. Sam Dolgoff)

-The danger of nationalism (continued) by Rudolf Rocker

-The fascist tide in Britain by William Mainwaring

-For libertarian action by R.W.

-Reaction in France: The general strike by A. Shapiro, Evolution of a defeat by Pierre Besnard, The decree laws by Guillaume

-Revolutionary tactics in Spain (continued) by Senex (a.k.a. Mark Schmidt)

-P.O.U.M. frame-up fails by Emma Goldman

Vanguard (Vol. 4, No. 8, May 1939)

The May 1939 issue of Vanguard, an anarchist journal published out of New York, with articles by Louis Ander, Sam Dolgoff and Pierre Besnard.

Submitted by Juan Conatz on June 7, 2015

CONTENTS

-The socialist future

-After Madrid fell

-Reaction spreads

-Events in central Spain by Louis Ander

-Labels by Dorothy Dudley

-A letter from England by Herbert Read

-An Il Duce fro France by Guillaume

-Question box

-Labor notes by S. Weiner (a.k.a. Sam Dolgoff)

-Our movement in Bulgaria

-No more compromise by Pierre Besnard

syndicalist

6 years 6 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Tremendously insightful into the depressing failure of the Spanish Reviltion and war. And a taste of a world moving more towards fascism

Vanguard (Vol. 4, No. 9, July 1939)

The July 1939 issue of Vanguard, an anarchist journal published out of New York, with articles by Sam Dolgoff, Bengt Hedin and Dashar.

Submitted by Juan Conatz on June 7, 2015

CONTENTS

-Editorial notes: WPA - political pawn; Socialism must be free by S.W. (a.k.a. Sam Dolgoff)

-Apostates of revolution by David Lawrence

-Anarchist revisionism by Bengt Hedin

-Lessons of Spain by Dashar

-A letter from a seaman

-Bakunin in English

-New Masses ethics

-Mr. Lewis tosses a boomerang

-For services rendered

-Book review: Science in the light of Marxist philosophy: the Marxist philosophy and the sciences by J.B.S. Haldane, review by Dr. Herman Frank

-An answer to Kropotkin

syndicalist

6 years 6 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

I've not read this issue in a loooong time.... But I recall making a "xerox" copy of the "Revisionism" article decades ago at a time when the Stalinist "new communist movement" freely used the term. I was intrigued, what could this mean? "Revisionism"?
Read it and find out for yourself, you might be surprised with the authors view .