The new issue of Black Flag: Anarchist Review is now available:
The focus of this issue is Trotsky’s limited opposition to developments in the USSR which resulted in the rise of Stalinism. This is usually dated to his 1923 “New Course” articles but most Trotskyist accounts of his opposition are inaccurate, ignoring his advocacy of party dictatorship and lack of concern over economic democracy. We rectify this by discussing his actual ideas rather than the wished for ones of his followers. Camillo Berneri’s comment remains true;
“To oppose the effects without going back to the causes, to the original sin of Bolshevism (bureaucratic dictatorship as a function of the dictatorship of the Party), is equivalent to arbitrarily simplifying the chain of causality which leads from the dictatorship of Lenin without any great breaks in continuity. Liberty within a party which denies the free play of competition amongst the progressive parties within the soviet system would today be a spectacular miracle.” (“The State and Classes”, The State – Or Revolution [London: Freedom Press, 2023], 86)
We also include articles on anarchism and utopia, including articles by Louis Marie Berneri, Peter Kropotkin and William Morris on Edward Bellamy and his utopian novel, Looking Backwards. Very influential after it was published in 1888, indeed inspiring a political movement in America which sought to implement its vision of the good society, by Morris and Kropotkin engaging with it we get a better idea of the libertarian socialist alternative. While Morris’s dislike of it is well-known (it helped inspire his own utopian novel, News from Nowhere), Kropotkin’s more positive evaluation of Bellamy’s is less well-known. We also include Robert Graham’s account of libertarian utopias in the lead-up to the French Revolution, which shows that these works of fancy can influence political movements and social change.
This issue also includes a translation of Kropotkin’s 1893 lecture Justice and Morality. While given in English, it has not appeared in that language before. Kropotkin did revise it for publication in Russia during 1919 when he was working on the posthumously published Ethics and writing prefaces and postface to new Russian editions of Words of a Rebel and The Conquest of Bread. This lecture summarises Kropotkin’s ideas on the evolution of ethics, a subject which mainstream science is now belatedly investigating.
We have decided to postpone our planned articles on and by Guy Aldred until a later issue and instead have run articles to mark American anarchist Harry Kelly’s death. A stalwart of the American movement for decades (plus a member of the London Freedom Group for a number of years), his contribution to the movement should be better remembered. We also mark the anniversary of Maurice Brinton’s birth, someone whose legacy is far better known. While not an anarchist, his libertarian socialism was rightly very influential in the 1960s and 1970s and we reprint writings not included in the anthology For Workers’ Power (AK Press 2002/2020)
Our extensive Black Flag archive has also been updated with new links and tidied up somewhat.
Original translations which appear in Black Flag: Anarchist Review eventually appear on-line here:
Next year we aim to cover a range of people and subjects. These should hopefully include William Morris, Charlotte Wilson, G.D.H. Cole and Guild Socialism, Marie Louise Berneri, Emma Goldman, John Turner, Edward Carpenter, Anselmo Lorenzo, Ethel Mannin, the 1894 Trial of the Thirty and the debate with Kropotkin over his support of the Allies in 1914. Plus reviews and news of the movement.
Contributions from libertarian socialists are welcome on these and other subjects! We are a small collective and always need help in writing, translating and gathering material, so please get in touch if you want to see Black Flag Anarchist Review continue.
This issue’s editorial and contents can he found here: https://anarchism.pageabode.com/black-flag-anarchist-review-autumn-2023-issue-now-out/