Tuesday, 1 October 2019

Coal not Dole - The Miners Videotape Project

During the Miners strike of 1984-85 faced with unrelenting hostility from the government and much of the media the National Union of Mineworkers and members of the Association of Cinematograph, Television and Allied Technicians (ACTT) and some other sympathisers started the Miners Videotape Project, to document the strike and raise awareness of events on the picket lines and in the mining communities.


Part 1: Not Just Tea & Sandwiches

Link https://youtu.be/pVFQ5qPzt5U

Part 2: The Butchery of the Coal Board

Link https://youtu.be/JvS8gUq5ImI

Part 3: Solidarity

Link https://youtu.be/KWRLnQK93gU

Part 4: "Straight Talking"

Link https://youtu.be/HGh-8tXdNHU

Part 5: The Media and the Miners Strike

Link https://youtu.be/AKbWmrBD31U

Part 6: Just doing their Job? 

Link https://youtu.be/RcVczwVIvRA

Archive links

Part 1 https://archive.org/details/coalnotdolepart11984accttechnicianswatchonline
Part 2 https://archive.org/details/coalnotdolepart21984accttechnicianswatchonline
Part 3 https://archive.org/details/coalnotdolepart31984accttechnicianswatchonline
Part 4 https://archive.org/details/coalnotdolepart41984accttechnicianswatchonline
Part 5 https://archive.org/details/coalnotdolepart51984accttechnicianswatchonline
Part 6 https://archive.org/details/coalnotdolepart61984accttechnicianswatchonline

Saturday, 21 September 2019

Report On The Revolutionary Movement In Barcelona - 1936

Shortly after rising up to expel the Fascist sympathising army from Barcelona the CNT Anarchosyndicalist Union produced a documentary film called Reportaje del movimiento revolucionario en Barcelona (Report on the Revolutionary Movement in Barcelona) its somewhat famous in war documentary circles. Unfortunately by Spanish is poor and it seemed impossible to track down an English translation.

Fortunately the search has borne fruit.

Link https://youtu.be/UVv6ampdPeY
Probably the first news film of the war, this report from the recently collectivized film industry documents the scene in Barcelona in the early days of the war/revolution following the defeat of the initial coup attempt. Footage of the aftermath of clashes (including the assault on the Atarazanas barracks) & jubilant crowds are a prominent sight in this report. In definitely captures the spirit of the early stages of the revolution.

Sunday, 15 September 2019

The Idea is the Thing - Alexander Berkman

Tyranny must be opposed at the start. Autocracy, once secured in the saddle, is diffucult to dislodge. If you believe that America is entering the war "to make democracy safe," then be a man and volunteer.
But if you know anything at all, then you should know that the cry of democracy is a lie and a snare for the unthinking. You should know that a republic is not synonymous with democracy, and that America has never been a real democracy, but that it is the vilest plutocracy on the face of the globe.
If you can see, hear, feel, and think, you should know that King Dollar rules the United States, and that the workers are robbed and exploited in this country to the heart's content of the masters.
If you are not deaf, dumb, and blind, then you know that the American bourgeois democracy and capitalistic civilization are the worst enemies of labor and progress, and that instead of protecting them, you should help to fight to destroy them.
If you know this, you must also know that the workers of America have no enemy in the toilers of other countries. Indeed, the workers of Germany suffer as much from their exploiters and rulers as do the masses of America.
You should know that the interests of Labor are identical in all countries. Their cause is international.
Then why should they slaughter each other?
The workers of Germany have been misled by their rulers into donning the uniform and turning murders. So have the workers of France, of Italy, and England been misled. But why should *you*, men of America, allow yourselves to be misled into murder or into being murdered?
If your blood must be shed, let it be in defense of your own interests, in the war of the workers against their despoilers, in the cause of real liberty and independence.

Thursday, 22 August 2019

Ecology and Revolutionary Thought Audiobook - Murray Bookchin

Audiobook of Murray Bookchin's Ecology and Revolutionary Thought.

Part 1: The Critical Nature of Ecology

 Murray Bookchin (1921-2006) was an anarchist and libertarian socialist political theorist, historian, and author. He is perhaps best remembered as a thinker who fused critical ecology with anarchist thought, but his conceptions of democratic confederalism have influenced numerous social and political movements, including the Democratic Federation of Northern Syria (also know as Rojava). In part 1 of Ecology and Revolutionary Thought, Bookchin addresses the environmental catastrophes that have been produced by imperialistic capitalism and the widespread disconnect between humanity and the environment caused by hierarchical social relationships.


Link https://youtu.be/mfEYye6TNlkPodcast

Link https://www.podbean.com/eu/pb-26eag-b1b8af 

Part 2: The Reconstructive Nature of Ecology

In part 2, Bookchin discusses how the increased centralization of society has led to increased environmental damage through energy usage and pollution. The solution, he contends, is to decentralize society through anarchist revolution in order to create a society that is in harmony with nature. For humanity to reach any ecological goal, it must become decentralized and anarchistic, thereby allowing individuals to create diverse social and ecological relationships.


Link https://youtu.be/pFzpqTBdHeM Podcast 

Link https://www.podbean.com/eu/pb-5a7fg-b27541 

Part 3

In part 3, Bookchin discusses how classical libertarian principles can be combined with ecological thought in order to address the crises inherent to late-stage capitalism. Youtube
Link https://youtu.be/DQ7bpXuadVYPodcast
Link https://www.podbean.com/eu/pb-9fgw4-b31816

Monday, 19 August 2019

Resisting Tyranny in Hong Kong

The world should be aware that for the past 10+ weeks there have been very large and militant protests in Hong Kong, sparked by an attempt to legalise extradition to the mainland, which would essentially destroy all of Hong Kongs autonomy.

In many cases of political clashes and social upheaval on the other side of the world its usually hard to come across much information. This is different, Hong Kongs extensive economic ties, its relationship to the Peoples Republic and its large English speaking population means there's a lot of information and footage circulating on the English and Chinese language web and media.

So the issue is really keeping track of all the updates and making sense of the confused and sometimes contradictory reports. The Final Straw podcast has interviewed a Hong Kong anarchist and long time political activist called Ankok. The interview is very long and informative, and although Ankok supports the protests he isn't blind to the problems within it and the wider Hong Kong culture and society.

Speaking of footage, while the interview lasts over 80 minutes (including breaks) I was able to find about 70+ minutes of footage just using twitter. Originally I was going to use more the protest art and graphics like above, but decided to use footage as much as possible. There are times when I use multiple videos of the same protest from different sources and angles, but I don't think there's much repetition.

Video of an interview with a Hong Kong protester about the current clashes and opposition to extradition bill.

Footage mostly from the Hong Kong Free Press https://twitter.com/HongKongFP

Additional footage from citizens. 

My YouTube channel is hanging by a thread thanks to claims by activist groups that grew into licensing companies over content made in the 1970s. And since this video uses footage used by media companies there's a good chance this would be hit by a content ID bot. So I've improvised, this is Peertube, its a decentralised open source video sharing platform that while a little trickier to setup a channel on cuts out most of the issues with YouTube, no invasive and repetitive ads, federated networks for archiving, local moderation is possible etc.

There's also the Internet Archive that has downloads https://archive.org/details/resistingtyrannyinhongkong_201908

Monday, 5 August 2019

The Testament of Fighting Poland - Warsaw 44 and Beyond

August is the anniversary of the uprising of Warsaw in 1944, not to be confused with the uprising of the Warsaw ghetto a year earlier. It was the largest military operation carried out by a partisan movement during World War II. The fighting lasted until the 2nd of October, when the German military managed to recapture the city.

Controversially, during the fighting the Soviet army had already penetrated Polish territory and its forward units had managed to push to city limits. But the army offered no assistance and simply held its position and just let the fighting take its course. Well with the exception of Polish soldiers fighting under the Soviet army, they did take part but they had no support from air or land. In the end the only support the Polish partisans fighting as part of the Polish Underground State got was from the British and American air forces which carried out several supply drops.

Despite surrendering, the Polish Underground remained active though in reduced circumstances and found itself in increased conflict with the Soviet occupation, which had been stepping up the pressure on the independent Polish resistance. On the 1st of July 1945 it published a document that contained this programme for a independent Poland.

A friend of mine (https://twitter.com/EnbySasha1312) translated it and provide links and notes.

Parentheses are historical notes, square brackets are translation notes

The Testament of Fighting Poland

Consists of the following postulates:
1. Soviet armies and political police are to leave the territory of Poland.
2. Cessation of political persecution, which will be proved by:
a) release of those tried and jailed during the Moscow Trial (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trial_of_the_Sixteen,
b) amnesty to political prisoners and all Home Army soldiers and so-called "forest units"(https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Polish_resistance_movement_in_World_War_II),
c) return of Poles deported into Russia and cessation of the use of concentration camps, so reminiscent of the sombre memory of German totalism,
d) cessation of the political system, encapsulated in the existence of the so-called Ministry of Safety (reference to https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chekism),
3. Unification and self-determination of the Home Army (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Home_Army) via:
a) granting officer positions to Poles [originally “spolszczenie korpusu oficerskiego” – “polonisation of the officer corps”] in general Rola-Żyrmiński's (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Micha%C5%82_Rola-%C5%BBymierski) army,
b) honourable return with their guns of Polish forces in exile (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Polish_Armed_Forces_in_the_West),
c) unifying on equal terms Polish armies abroad and former Home Army with general Rola-Żyrmiński's army,
4. Cessation of economic devastation of the country by the occupying Powers.
5. Allowing all democratic parties to take part in universal, direct, equal, proportional and anonymous [originally “pięcioprzymiotnikowe” – five-adjective, a term in Polish political science] elections.
6. Assurance of independent foreign policy of Poland.
7. Creation of a full local government, as well as socio-economic and cultural-educational government.
8. Socialisation of great capitalist [originally “wielkokapitalistyczne” – refers both to big corporation and individual haute-bourgeoisie] property and socially equal division of common profit.
9. Guaranteeing to the labouring masses control and common ownership over the entire national economy and ensuring material conditions [this, most likely, refers solely to wages and such] safeguarding the existence of families and personal cultural development.
10. The freedom for the working class to fight for their rights as part of an unrestricted labour movement.
11. Just commencement of the agricultural reform and the control of the nation over the settlement processes in the reclaimed Western Lands and Eastern Prussia (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Recovered_Territories).
12. Basing a common, democratic education system on the moral and spiritual achievements of the western civilisation and of our country.
Ensuring the fight for this programme on the open international stage, the democratic associations of the Council of Polish Unity express their hope that the Temporary Government of National Unity (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Provisional_Government_of_National_Unity) will strive to democratise Poland and put an end to differences and quarrels separating the different strands of the Polish society.

As long as this striving does not manifest itself in action, we will not be able to relax in the interior affairs and a lot of the members of the Polish Underground State will be forced to remain in hiding, not from malicious intent towards the Government, but because of the fear for their life.

From their side, the Polish Underground State proclaims it does not want to provoke a war between the Democratic West and the Soviet Union, which - as the (Soviet) government newspapers would have it – “is what the London government (reference to the Polish government-in-exile) bases their political calculations on”

A new war would deeply wound the Polish nation, therefore everyone it is everyone’s desire to seek a Polish-Russian agreement, as well as an agreement between England, America and the Soviets on peaceful terms. If this agreement is to be sustainable, restoring trust in the Polish-Russian relationship won’t be enough. The Polish nation is a member of big family of Central European nations, especially West-Slavic ones, to which it is bound to, because of its geopolitical situation and historical past, and wants to create as close of a political, economic and cultural union with them as possible.

We express our hope that achieving an agreement with Russia on these terms is possible and only this agreement will eliminate for all time the Polish-Russian enmity, that stems from the reactionary politics of the Tsardom and which will be replaced by mutual respect, trust and friendship for the benefit of both nations, Europe and all democratic humanity.

The Council of National Unity

Despite being published in July Sasha believes it had been written up earlier, mainly because the Council of National Unity had already dissolved. 

Sunday, 4 August 2019

Thoughts on Imperialism and Monopoly

Years ago when I started to get active in left wing politics I was a very heterodox reader, I subscribed to all kinds of Socialist blogs, YT channels, saw as many documentaries as I could and bought a load of cheap paperbacks of famous socialist books. One of them was Lenin's `Imperialism the Highest Stage of Capitalism` to be honest I wasn't particularly enamoured with it, but since I was aware of my own lack of experience or frames of reference, I decided to ask others.

I quickly learnt to stop asking questions about this book, it wasn't the anonymous hostility of online forums, well it wasn't just the anonymous hostility. I also became disheartened because its seemed to me that most people who were fans of the work hadn't actually read it but were pretending they did. And it wasn't just random forum users either, the clips of videos and audio of supposed Marxist theorist and experts on Lenin's thought also seemed to be at best tangentially aware of the books contents. Now obviously I can't say for sure, nor can I go back and check since this was years ago, but it left a bad impression. I remember specifically someone denying that the Roman Empire was really an Empire because it didn't have monopoly capitalism, even though Lenin brought up Rome to concede that Imperialism did in fact predate the year 1876.

Anyway its been in the back of my mind for a long time, and I have encountered some people who can recite parts of it with confidence, but if anything that just increased my disquiet, since often the bits that were cited seemed to me to be the parts that were most obviously dated if not incorrect.

After reading another blog that criticised the theoretical framework of the book I decided to give it another read. And credit where its due the online version on Marxist Internet Archive is very easy to get back into once you're familiar with certain bits of jargon.

Here's some notes I jotted down while reading it.

Honestly its not great, as a document on monopolisation trends in Europe and the USA from the 1870s-1910s its a good resource with many figures and diverse sources. But as a tract of political analysis and prediction its dated and struggles to prove its main arguments.

Lenin believed this showed that monopoly financial capitalism is key to a new period of imperialism. He's inconsistent, at times he acknowledges that imperialism predates the monopolisations he's describing, but other times he uses his new term exclusively.

He also believed this period of increasing monopoly capitalism and imperialism would pave the way for world revolution, and well we no longer have colonies and haven't for many decades, and monopolies have come and gone, and yet the world capitalist economy endures.

Another strange issue is that Lenin often includes examples that run counter to his arguments.

"Fourthly, monopoly has grown out of colonial policy. To the numerous “old” motives of colonial policy, finance capital has added the struggle for the sources of raw materials, for the export of capital, for spheres of influence, i.e., for spheres for profitable deals, concessions, monopoly profits and so on, economic territory in general. When the colonies of the European powers,for instance, comprised only one-tenth of the territory of Africa(as was the case in 1876), colonial policy was able to develop—by methods other than those of monopoly—by the “free grabbing” of territories, so to speak. But when nine-tenths of Africa had been seized (by 1900), when the whole world had been divided up,there was inevitably ushered in the era of monopoly possession of colonies and, consequently, of particularly intense struggle for the division and the redivision of the world. "

All of these "new" motives aren't new, they've been key features of colonialism since the age of discovery if not earlier. Lenin is correct that the period after 1876 make massive expansion into Africa he's own data shows that a sizeable portion of the world was already under the control of what he calls core Imperial powers, (Britain, Canada, Caribbean, Australia, New Zealand, most of the Indian subcontinent etc) and Germany a power that Lenin shows quite convincingly is far advanced in this highest stage of monopoly capitalism had very little in the way of territorial colonies. And much of the investments from these major monopolies in the USA, France and Germany according to the statistics used were not in the colonies but in other independent states.

Lenin does sort of account for some of this with his views on semi-colonies, and semi independent nations, but a lot of this investment is within and between other imperial powers, so what exactly is the point attempting to be made? In addition Lenin includes Russia as an imperial power and compares its exploitation of territories like Turkestan to the exploitation of Egypt by the British Empire. But Lenin's own data shows that during this period Russia had few if any large scale monopolies, most of its financial capital was owned by foreign powers, so if it can still operate at this highest stage of imperialism without reaching the supposed highest stage of capitalism, is that stage really that important to the perpetuation of imperialism?

I think what's happened here is that Lenin made a pretty common mistake in economics, he saw an economic trend of greater and greater centralisation of capital, and convinced himself that this was the inevitable development of the economy, and since there's a limit to how much you can centralise the economy, once this was reached there was nowhere to go but to fall.

Instead what we see is that monopoly is ultimately unstable, the number of combinations go up and down.

So it jumps about a bit but I think this covers the main issues, he doesn't explain why 1876-1914 is somehow unique, he shows the number of monopolies jumped up often corresponding to an increase in colonial expansion, but a lot of his data comes from Germany which had very little colonial expansion, and Britain and France, but they already had well established colonial holdings before this period.

And the inclusion of Russia, which in my experiences a lot of people tend to forget, adds more confusion.

The British capitalists are exerting every effort to develop cotton growing in their colony, Egypt (in 1904, out of 2,300,000 hectares of land under cultivation, 600,000, or more than one-fourth, were under cotton); the Russians are doing the same in their colony, Turkestan, because in this way they will be in a better position to defeat their foreign competitors, to monopolise the sources of raw materials and form a more economical and profitable textile trust in which all the processes of cotton production and manufacturing will be “combined” and concentrated in the hands of one set of owners.

By Lenin's own evidence it should economically speaking be at best a semi-independent nation, but in practice despite the dominance of French and German finance within the Empire its still able to establish colonies and develop them in a way that'll enable it to build its own monopolies. But surely this process is backwards now, rather finance capital stimulating Imperial ambitions in Russia it's Imperial ambitions that were stimulating its limited financial capital.

Speaking personally, I 've always viewed it as both options being viable, there are examples of monopolised companies driving military conquest and economic expansion, this goes back to the Tudor period if not further with its merchant companies and the East India Company. But on the other hand it can work the other way, territorial conquest and the labour and resources that come with it can then be used to enrich the dominant power and stimulate the growth of a dominant and eventual monopoly.

And let's address the elephant in the room here, the whole point of the book being written was because Lenin believed it would be the final stage of Capitalism because he thought it and the World War it had largely created and exacerbated was going to lead to world revolution.

Now as we know there was significant revolutionary outbreaks in many parts of the world and the end of the First World War would mark the deaths of several empires, but the world revolution didn't occur, it didn't destroy capitalism, and so it has continued to develop and change, and it has become divorced from the Imperialism of the 19th century.

This isn't a case of criticising a man for failing to predict the future, the argument that underpins Imperialism the Highest Stage of Capitalism simply no longer applies. The structure of the capitalist economy is different, the methods powerful nations use to get what they want from the less powerful has also changed.

Its a highly flawed and dated work. Its not without its merits, but this using of the book as bible and strategy document needs to stop.
One caveat, I think its more accurate to say Lenin's theory was based on his interpretation of Marx's analysis, there's not much of his work in Imperialism, Engels gets more citation, and most of the references are to what Lenin thinks is the correct Marxist view in opposition to rival Marxists

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