What history are you reading?

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R.R. Berkman
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Jul 16 2007 22:47
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Ret Marut wrote:
'Revolutionary Syndicalism - An International Perspective' ...

That is an interesting text, with a lot of bredth and some excellent articles. Watch out for David Bercuson's piece on the Canadian OBU; it is pretty reactionary and written from a very strange theoretical place, although he is correct in defining the OBU as "non-syndicalist." But this is a historiographical quagmire of the sort I won't get into here.

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Jul 16 2007 22:48
Quote:
Ret Marut wrote:
'Revolutionary Syndicalism - An International Perspective' ...

That is an interesting text, with a lot of bredth and some excellent articles. Watch out for David Bercuson's piece on the Canadian OBU; it is pretty reactionary and written from a very strange theoretical place, although he is correct in defining the OBU as "non-syndicalist." But this is a historiographical quagmire of the sort I won't get into here.

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Jul 16 2007 23:06

Yeh R.R, I've only read 3 articles so far - the one on French syndicalism had a really dumb conclusion;

" ...Syndicalists had learned the lessons of the past: the French revolutionary tradition proved that a just society could not be installed by violent mass action. Only the individual, acting ethically within his or her economic milieu could bring about a lasting regime based on the virtues inherent in the producing class...."
So that's what syndicalism was all about.

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Jul 16 2007 23:12

The Mexican Syndicalism article from that book is now here.

syndicalist
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Jul 17 2007 04:34

"Revolutionary Syndicalism: An International Perspective" by Marcel Van Der Linden (Author), Wayne Thorpe (Editor)

An interesting collection of essays, but a mixed bag overall. Some of the authors are clearly not sympathetic to a/s.

The article on the SAC is interesting. It provides some decent backdrop the Swedish condition.

I rather liked Wayne Thorpe's, "The Workers Themselves: Revolutionary Syndicalism and International .... IWA" While I clearly don't agree with everything he wrote, his history of the rebuilding of the syndicalist wing of the international workers movement is both informative and chock full of info (and his notes are a treasure trove of information).

MalFunction
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Jul 17 2007 12:04

Just finished Julian Cope's "The Megalithic European" which is fab. although it takes the form of a travelog / gazetteer I wouldn't recommend taking it on your travels around the megalithic sites of Europe - too big and heavy. Use for reference and planing aforehand. 500 page full-colour book. Excellent 4 page bibliography too. Could have done with fewer "here's me or a travel companion leaning against the stones" photos - unless done to give a sense of scale.

Currently reading the Chaim Weinberg memoirs I blogged here. Got sent a printed-out and bound copy by a kindly soul librarian. fascinating account of Jewish workers in Philadelphia in the early years of the 20th century. His accounts of trying to set up co-operative ventures are worth reading as well as union activism. And all round biographical snippets of people such as Voltarine de Cleyre.

yab
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Jul 17 2007 16:11

Churchill: a biography

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pingtiao
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Jul 17 2007 17:20

Just started "State of Africa", which is a liberal history of the last 50 years of independence of the African continent.

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Aug 3 2007 05:35

I have nearly finished Vıctor Serge's memoirs of a revolutionary, very interesting, and very powerful.
Devrim

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Aug 3 2007 07:36

The Paris Commune - A Revolution In Democracy (Danny Gluckstein)... very accessible read, though some distortion and agenda pushing as he's a swappie.

Durruti - The People Armed (Abel Paz)... strong lessons, great story (well, apart from the last third of the book, obviously).

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Aug 3 2007 07:51
Saii wrote:
Durruti - The People Armed (Abel Paz)

that's on my (short) list. i've almost finished Strike! (Jeremy Brecher) which is really good, shortlist has a couple of other things like Anarchism in the Chinese Revolution (Arif Dirlik), Workers Revolution in Iran (Assef Bayat - no idea the politics of this or if it's any good) and Fernand Braudel's History of Civilisations. Can't decide what to read next though sad

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Aug 3 2007 08:09

I tried to find the Serge book I am reading on the internet. I couldn't, but did find this:
http://www.marxists.org/archive/serge/index.htm
Some interesting stuff there, most of which is not on Libcom.
"For my part I have undergone a little over ten years of various forms of captivity, agitated in seven countries, and written twenty books. I own nothing. On several occasions a press with a vast circulation has hurled filth at me because I spoke the truth. Behind us lies a victorious revolution gone astray, several abortive attempts at revolution, and massacres in so great number as to inspire a certain dizziness. And to think that it is not over yet. Let me be done with this digression. Those were the only roads open to us. I have more confidence in humankind and in the future than ever before.” Victor Serge: Memoirs of a Revolutionary (1943)
Devrim

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Aug 3 2007 08:15

From Bondage to Contract by Amy Dru Stanley. It's about ideas right after emancipation of slaves in the US. Lots of abolitionists compared slave labor to waged labor saying the latter was free, cuz it was a contract and contracts are entered into freely. Basically hurray for wage labor. And hurray for patriarchal marriages, that's freedom too. Then it contrasts those ideas with what labor movements and feminists were saying. There's a chapter on beggars and forced labor which parallels parts of Marx's stuff in the last section of v1 of Capital, laws against vagabondage. Also a chapter on prostitutes. Prostitutes and beggars were particularly hard to fint into the whole "there's no coercion in contracts!" thing because the answer to begging was forced labor and the answer to prostitution was criminalizing that labor, both of which fly in the face of "it's all consensual, no domination in the market!" line.

Feighnt
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Aug 3 2007 10:13

i'm currently reading the biography of Carlo Tresca, by Pernicone, which is pretty neat so far (been meaning to read this for a long time - got a whole bunch of other books coming by mail too, including the one by Paz). what's with Pernicone saying in the introduction that Tresca "ultimately realized" that his ideals for social transformation "could not be achieved"? did Tresca decide socialism was for the birds later in his life, or is Pernicone just projecting his own personal views onto a man he obviously greatly respects?

Joseph K. wrote:
shortlist has a couple of other things like Anarchism in the Chinese Revolution (Arif Dirlik)

aah, thanks for that, been trying to remember his name! been meaning to read that book (way too many gaps in most accounts of chinese Anarchist history, sick of learning about the first - terribly boring - generation again and again). er, thought he did one about korea too, but doing a search around online, i apparently just imagined it. must've mistaken him with Ha Ki-Rak embarrassed

ernie
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Aug 7 2007 13:27

I am reading The Hidden Hand: Britain, America and Cold War Secret intelligence, Richard J Aldrich This is a hugely fascinating reading so far. I have only reach about 1950 so far, but the central role of the secret services in the direction of imperialist policy is startling. This is a must for anyone who thinks that the bourgeoisie is not a consciously machiavellian class.

Beltov
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Aug 7 2007 15:55

I've just finished Grossman's 'The Law of Accumulation' which was good. Now I understand where he's coming from. Tried to start Mattick's 'Marx & Keynes' but it's dull as ditch water. Read John Gribbin's 'The History of Science' earlier in the summer, which was very good. Showed how inventions were only made or things discovered (or exploited to the full) when the tools and techinques necessary were present. He agrees that there were geniuses in science, but they could only be so because of the materials available to them. Also shows how science became industrialised and socialised on a grand scale in the 20th century.

Just picked up Kafka's 'The Trial' for a bit of light relief. Kept wondering what was 'Kafka-esque' about the government's detention policies. Is Libcom's Joseph K. any relation? I reckon he's guilty of being a womaniser!

B.

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Aug 7 2007 17:18

i was reading 'the trial' when i signed up, hence my moniker. and harassing my neighbours and lawyers mistresses doesn't make me a womaniser, exactly who are you and who do you work for? and what are you doing in my room?

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Aug 7 2007 22:29

Just finished 'Churchill's Crusade: The British Invasion of Russia 1918 - 1920" by retired major general Clifford Kinvig. Solid historical facts from a military campaign perspective - well researched though with lots of fascinating info and reference to numerous mutinies and far from jingoistic.

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Aug 8 2007 00:11
Devrim wrote:
I have nearly finished Vıctor Serge's memoirs of a revolutionary, very interesting, and very powerful.
Devrim

I have read some of his work and found him a very good writer.

I am currently reading a pamphlet i picked up published by Centreprise in the 1980s. I forget the exact title but its about Socialists and working men's clubs in the period 1870-1900 in Hackney.

bastarx
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Aug 8 2007 01:46
Joseph K. wrote:
i've almost finished Strike! (Jeremy Brecher) which is really good, (

Strike is good, however Brecher apparently removed the councilist/anti-union angle from the later edition (circa 2000, original was 72). Hardly surprising given he's now part of Michael Albert's little gang of utopian social democratic losers.

syndicalist
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Aug 8 2007 13:02

An interesting on-line pamphlet:

"Forty Years in the Struggle: The Memoirs of a Jewish Anarchist" By Chaim Leib Weinberg

http://www.deadanarchists.org/weinberg.html

Sorry to hear that the current edition of Strike! has had some political editing. Another book of similiar interest which came out a year or two after Strike! is "False Promises: The Shaping of American Working Class Consciousness" by Stanley Aronowitz. Arnowitz transition from libertarian socialist to democratic soicalist has long been completed, yet "False Promises" is a pretty decent book.

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Aug 8 2007 13:13

Yeah i have a newer edition of Strike! he doesn't go completely soft and most of the original anti-union line is there in the original chapters but absent oin the new ones. He basically goes from 'it's not a case of good or bad leaders, or leaders selling out, but the role of the unions and their institutional dynamics' to 'some leaders are good and do good things and some leaders are bad and do bad things.' which is a really weird 'development' - it seems to reflect all the doom and gloom about the end of history so he's willing to be less critical of anything resembling class struggle.

Beltov
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Aug 8 2007 18:30
Kafka wrote:
And K. had indeed, at first, been closely following what the
manufacturer was saying, he too was aware of how important the deal was,
but unfortunately it did not last, he soon stopped listening, nodded at
each of the manufacturer's louder exclamations for a short while, but
eventually he stopped doing even that and did no more than stare at the
bald head bent over the papers, asking himself when the manufacturer
would finally realise that everything he was saying was useless...
http://www.gutenberg.org/dirs/etext05/ktria11.txt

Same thing happens when I listen to my manager...

alibadani
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Aug 8 2007 22:20

I am half way through The Italian Communist Left 1926-45 by the ICC

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Aug 9 2007 05:27

Re-reading Federici's Caliban and the Witch, which is about women during primitive accumulation - witch hunts as a way to discipline the labor producing labor power. I just started Jeanne Boydston, Home And Work: Housework, Wages, and the Ideology of Labor in the Early Republic, which is about the economic value of housework and ideas about that economic value in the early US.

Catch 22
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Aug 9 2007 07:16

Nate where do you find these books? They're so delightfully obscure. I feel smart and academic when I'm reading the Economic and Philosophic Manuscripts of 1844. At this rate you probably read it when you were 8. wink

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Aug 9 2007 08:50

Nah dude, I read the manuscripts at 26 or 27. I read a short excerpt at 18 or 19 and it rocked my world but I had really stupid(er) views then so I took it an bad way. At 8 I think I was reading like the Chronicles of Narnia or the Sword of Shannara or The Hobbit or something like that.

Anyhow, I got recommended the Dru Stanley book by someone I know who read it. Dru Stanley cites the Boydston wich is why I'm reading it, but I found that one initially by random google searches like "housework women Marx" etc. Boydston cites Mariarosa Dallacosta and Selma James, which is pretty cool but I'd already read them, she also cites a bunch of other stuff I haven't read yet, both theoretical and historical stuff on unwaged/domestic/reproductive labor. I'm on a kick of reading stuff on that topic and I try to write down stuff that gets cited that looks interesting.

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Aug 9 2007 10:09
Quote:
Seven Pillars of Wisdom
by T.E. Lawrence

Most of that book is fiction, but still very very entertaining in an orientalist-arabist way.

I'm reading "A History of Modern Libya" at the moment as some of my work is in Libya now. What is interesting about Libya, and which is the main argument of the book, is that Qadaffi wanted to create statelessness and move away from tribe family. Of course he failed miserably since he's a psycho, and rather than creating statelessness he's created a very strong state and also very strong family and tribal bonds in society. What a fuck up he is. Still his ramblings, in the Green Book, are quite fun to read

MalFunction
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Aug 9 2007 11:28

Just finished Marina Sitrin (ed) "Horizontalism: voices of popular power in Argentina" AK Press.
http://www.akpress.org/2006/items/horizontalism
Have drafted review for Freedom, so it might appear some time this year. excellent selection of interviews with participants.

Have now started on "The Subversion of Politics" by KATSIAFICAS, George. also AK Press.
http://www.akuk.com/dosearch.php?itemid=5156

history of the Autonomists in Germany, Italy etc from the 60's to the 90s. Fits in very nicely with the title above, even though there's little evidence in the book on Argentina that they consciously used the ideas from the European autonomists - but that may be an artefact of the interviewing / editing / selection process.

(Have the new paperback edition of the Beevor on the SCW to look forward to.)

Catch 22
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Aug 9 2007 16:04
MalFunction wrote:
Just finished Marina Sitrin (ed) "Horizontalism: voices of popular power in Argentina" AK Press.
http://www.akpress.org/2006/items/horizontalism
Have drafted review for Freedom, so it might appear some time this year. excellent selection of interviews with participants.

Have now started on "The Subversion of Politics" by KATSIAFICAS, George. also AK Press.
http://www.akuk.com/dosearch.php?itemid=5156

history of the Autonomists in Germany, Italy etc from the 60's to the 90s. Fits in very nicely with the title above, even though there's little evidence in the book on Argentina that they consciously used the ideas from the European autonomists - but that may be an artefact of the interviewing / editing / selection process.

(Have the new paperback edition of the Beevor on the SCW to look forward to.)

I'm almost finished reading Subversion. The history section is pretty amazing and very well detailed. The theory section is "meh" so far. He kind of thinks he's got some new grand theory.