WWI, Anarchists on the Zimmerwald Conference

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mikail firtinaci's picture
mikail firtinaci
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Oct 20 2014 19:06
WWI, Anarchists on the Zimmerwald Conference

Does anybody know what was anarchists' position on the Zimmerwald Conference? I know that Kropotkin defended Allies and Malatesta opposed his position, but beyond that I don't much about what other anarchists did internationally; especially how did they see reacted to the debates in Second International.

For instance, I think Pannekoek, Gorter and Luteraan and the left-wing of SDP collaborated with some Dutch "social anarchist" groups in organizing anti-war movement, but I don't remember the details.

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Oct 20 2014 20:20

During WW1 anarchists took a variety of positions, including supporting Zimmerwald. In fact it was the pro-Zimmerwald stance taken by the "Temps nouveaux group" which provoked Kropotkin and his collaborators into issuing the infamous Manifesto of the Sixteen (actually fifteen, but one signee turned out to be the name of a suburb of Algiers), issued in February 1916.

Temps nouveaux was an influential anarchist weekly published in Paris and, like other anarchist publications, was shut down by the government "for the duration". Its long-time editor, Jean Grave, moved to England where he took up a "defencist" position in relation to the War and was shocked when the self-styled Groupe de Temps nouveaux issued a letter supporting Zimmerwald. Given that Kropotkin was very ill at the time, one has to suspect that Grave was the main force behind drafting and publishing the Manifesto of the Sixteen.

Other "manifestos" were issued by anarchists during the War, notably the pacifist, anti-militarist International Anarchist Manifesto on the War (February, 1915) which was drafted by the Dutch anarchist F. Domela Nieuwenhuis and signed by 35 anarchists.

A lively discussion of the War took place in the anarchist periodicals which were still able to publish without censorship, namely in the USA (up to 1917) and Switzerland.

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mikail firtinaci
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Oct 20 2014 20:24

Karetelnik,

Thanks for this amazing post! Do you know which anarchist journals in the USA and Switzerland supported Zimmerwald movement? Is there any book or secondary study you can recommend?

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Oct 20 2014 20:58

For an understanding of the position on militarism by anarcho-syndicalists/revolutionary syndicalists, who favour worker organisations as being historical markers of development (as opposed to explicitly "political" editorial publishers, etc). One of the best english historical accounts of these organisations (which includes most libertarian communist organisations) is decribed in Revolutionary syndicalist internationalism, 1913-1923: the origins of the International Working Men’s Association - Wayne Thorpe and (a later version of this authors studies) The Workers Themselves - Wayne Thorpe. This shows considerable coinsistency on internationalism. Another useful document is Anarcho-syndicalism in the 20th Century - Vadim Damier.

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Oct 20 2014 22:11

Thanks AES! Those sources are greatly appreciated.

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Oct 21 2014 03:00
mikail firtinaci wrote:
Karetelnik,

Do you know which anarchist journals in the USA and Switzerland supported Zimmerwald movement? Is there any book or secondary study you can recommend?

Not aware of any secondary studies. The Russian anarchist press is very interesting because most of the editors returned to Russia in 1917 to take an active part in the Revolution. Both the Zurich Rabochiy Mir [Workers' World], organ of the Federation of Foreign Groups of Russian Anarcho-Communists, and the New York Golos Truda [The Voice of Labour], anarcho-syndicalist organ of the Union of Russian Workers in the USA & Canada, took strong internationalist stands.

When Kropotkin's Manifesto was published, the Switzerland group broke sharply with him, using such epithets as "anarcho-democratism" and "anarcho-patriotism" to describe supporters of the Manifesto. One member of the group, Aleksandr Ge, published a book, Put' k pobede [The Road to victory – surely ironic!], bitterly attacking the Manifesto and its supporters. To some extent this was a response to an earlier book by Jean Grave: Karl Marx – Pan-Germanist (1915), which enjoyed a lamentable popularity among French social-patriots. Previously the Swiss group had included some of Kropotkin's strongest supporters, who now became his "frenemies".

Although Golos Truda took a position of revolutionary internationalism, it published a number of articles by Marie Goldsmith, Kropotkin's closest collaborator. Goldsmith's position on the War hardly differed from Kropotkin's, but she declined to sign the Manifesto. In responding to one of her articles in 1915, the editors of Golos Truda (a weekly with 5,000 subscribers in those days) wrote:

First and foremost, the overthrow of internal despotism, followed by a campaign by the liberated revolutionary populace against the invading external enemy – a campaign fought under the revolutionary banner – such is the point of view of revolutionary internationalists.

lou.rinaldi
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Oct 21 2014 11:08
Karetelnik wrote:
Given that Kropotkin was very ill at the time, one has to suspect that Grave was the main force behind drafting and publishing the Manifesto of the Sixteen.

Why does one have to suspect that was the case? Is it because it saves face for an anarchist hero? Is there any actual evidence that it was because he was sick? That seems like pretty dubious.

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Oct 21 2014 11:45

there are two new publications in German on the topic but haven't read them:

- Helge Döhring: Syndikalismus in Deutschland 1914-1918. “Im Herzen der Bestie” (2013, about the FVdG and their resistance against the war)

- Andreas W. Hohmann (Hrsg.): Ehern, tapfer, vergessen. Die unbekannte Internationale. AnarchistInnen & SyndikalistInnen und der Erste Weltkrieg (2014), contains the following texts:

Das Manifest der Sechzehn
Grigori Petrovitch Maximoff : Die revolutionär-syndikalistische Bewegung in Russland
Gerhard Aigte: Über die Entwicklung der revolutionären syndikalistischen Arbeiterbewegung Frankreichs und Deutschlands in der Kriegsund Nachkriegszeit
Pierre Ramus: Anarchismus, Syndikalismus und Antimilitarismus in Österreich
Tibor Fargacz: Erwin Szabo und die ungarische Revolution
Marcel Faust: Rudolf Rocker in den britischen Internierungslagern zur Zeit des Ersten Weltkrieges
Nick Heath Anarchisten gegen den Ersten Weltkrieg. Zwei wenig bekannte Ereignisse – Abertillery und Stockport
Martin Veith: „Krieg dem Krieg” - Agitation und Widerstand von Anarchisten und Syndikalisten gegen den Ersten Weltkrieg in Rumänien
Franco Bertolucci: „Kein Mann, kein Geld für den Krieg“. Italienische Anarchisten und Gewerkschafter und der Erste Weltkrieg
Walther L. Bernecker: Gegen Krieg und Ausbeutung: der spanische Anarchismus im Ersten Weltkrieg
Tim Wätzold: Auswirkungen und Einflüsse des Ersten Weltkrieges auf die Arbeiterbewegungen Südamerikas
Jared Davidson: Aufrührerische Absichten. Anarchistischer Widerstand gegen den Ersten Weltkrieg in Neuseeland

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Oct 21 2014 11:46

it may also be worth to have a look at some stuff at http://www.la-presse-anarchiste.net/

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Oct 21 2014 14:43

Karetnik;

great post. It is interesting to see that both Zimmerwald Left and anarchist internationalists were mostly organized around radical journals. I wonder if there was any connection between them.

Entdinglichung;

My German is horrible right now, but I will look into those texts you mentioned. Many thanks!

ASyndicalist
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Nov 17 2014 07:42

There was anarchists anti-war Congress at 1915 in spain

El Ferrol 1915 Congreso Internacional de la paz
http://www.memorialibertaria.org/valladolid/spip.php?article152

Galicia 1915
http://libcom.org/forums/history-culture/galicia-1915-13082010

During the 1914-1918 war, Brazilian libertarians were active on several fronts across the country: against unemployment, rising living costs, scarcity of basic foodstuffs, resisting profiteering bourgeois, the mind-bending clergy and a ‘paternalistic’ State that even supplied human cannon-fodder to the battlefields. To ease hunger and under pressure from the libertarian proletariat which was holding rallies at the factory gates, the government gave the go-ahead for direct sale by the producer to the consumer (a process known as free fairs these days) without taxes levied.
On the international stage, they held the Peace Congress in Rio de Janeiro and sent three delegates to the Congress held under the auspices of the trade union Ateneo of El Ferrol, Spain in 1915. The latter congress was broken up with gunfire by the Spanish government.
http://www.katesharpleylibrary.net/vq84ck

Wayne Thorpe - El Ferrol, Rio de Janeiro, Zimmerwald, and Beyond: Syndicalist Internationalism, 1914-1918
http://www.persee.fr/web/revues/home/prescript/article/rbph_0035-0818_2006_num_84_4_5058#