Review

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Review: Divide and Conquer or Divide and Subdivide? How Not to Refight the First International

This pamphlet is by the author of the best biography of Bakunin, Bakunin: The Creative Passion, Mark Leier and covers the Marx-Bakunin conflict in the First International.

Review: Romancing the revolution

This is a very interesting and useful work. It takes you back to when Lenin and Trotsky were unknown and how this change as the British left tried to understand developments in the Russian Revolution. Inspired by C.B. Macpherson’s claim that the USSR while not a democratic system of government could be viewed as representing a “Non-Liberal Democracy” as it aimed to eliminate classes, Ian Bullock’s book utilises an impressive amount of primary sources to show “the myth of soviet democracy in the early appeal of the Russian Revolution”. (5) As such, it is should be of interest for libertarian socialists as well as scholars particularly as it is full of interesting facts: for example, the Scottish section of the Independent Labour Party (ILP) voted to join the Communist international and for prohibition at its January 1920 conference. (194-5)

Review: Kropotkin and the Anarchist Intellectual Tradition

Peter Kropotkin needs little introduction. The Russian Prince who became one of the leading anarchist thinkers of his time, his articles and books are still – rightly – recommended to those seeking to understand anarchism and have convinced many to join the movement.

Review: The Poverty of Philosophy by Karl Marx

This year (2017) marks the 170th anniversary of the publication of Karl Marx’s The Poverty of Philosophy, written in “reply” to Pierre-Joseph Proudhon’s System of Economic Contradictions published the year before. The book’s title is a play on the subtitle of Proudhon’s two volumes (“or, the Philosophy of Poverty”) and for Trotskyist Ernest Mandel “the prototype of that sort of implacable polemical writing which has often inspired the pens of Marx’s followers”.

From Russia with Critique

Why bother with the Russian Revolution? The Soviet Union, rightly, has been classed as a failed, horrific, experiment since its collapse in 1991 so what is the benefit to have yet another book on it? There are three main reasons why this excellent book is worth your time.

First, a great many socialists still believe in what one of its authors, Alexander Berkman, labelled The Bolshevik Myth and are busy trying to reproduce what the Bolsheviks did. They need facts, not fairy tales. Second, revolutions have a habit of breaking out when least expected and learning the lessons from previous ones makes sense. Third, these are the works of two of the world’s leading revolutionary anarchists seeking to do both of these important tasks when it was deeply unfashionable to do so – in the 1920s and 1930s.

Review: Social Democracy and Anarchism in the International Workers’ Association 1864-1877

This is an excellent work, recommended to both anarchist activists and those interested in the rise of modern, revolutionary, anarchism. Berthier, a veteran French anarcho-syndicalist activist, has produced a work which successfully challenges both the standard narrative on the First International (written, as usual, by the winners) and those who seek to deny the actual history of anarchism and its roots in the European labour movement. Somewhat surprisingly, given this, that number includes Berthier himself.

Review: Revolution by Russell Brand

One of the more bizarre developments of the last year has been Russell Brand or, more correctly, the response that he has provoked across the political spectrum. Watching commentator after commentator froth at the mouth and seeing Cameron proclaim in the middle of an election campaign that a comedian was a “joke” was, to say the least, strange. It reached a (to use a word Brand would surely approve of) climax when it was proclaimed by the right that Ed Miliband was “getting into bed” with Brand – by having an interview with him. Seriously?

Review: Two Cheers for Anarchism by James C. Scott

What is it about anthropologists and anarchism? Noted anarchists Brian Morris and David Graeber are anthropologists in their day jobs while Peter Kropotkin and Elisée Reclus both made significant contributions to the field. Perhaps it is simple enough – anthropology shows that people have lived in many different ways and so confirms a basic principle of anarchism: capitalism is just one of many systems and, like others, can be replaced with something else.

Review: Workers Unite! The International 150 years later

Introduction

The editor of Workers Unite! should be congratulated on his aim, namely to make the debates within the International Working Men’s Association (IWMA) accessible for radicals active 150 years after it was founded in 1864. Yet while the book’s subtitle states “150 years later” the introduction is written as if those 150 years do not exist. This is explained by the editor being a Marxist and so unwilling to admit that Marx helped push the workers’ movement into a dead end.

Review: Individualism versus Egoism

Individualist anarchism has always been very much a minority within the anarchist movement and given some of its advocates, you can understand why. However, it is always good to see material from the past made available to modern day radicals simply in order to allow people to judge for themselves.

  


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