Leninism as Conservatism: The Russian Revolution and the Lessons of History

Ben Debney

If the past can be reduced to the failings of an individual, the complicity of an entire culture and its participation in that individual’s misdeeds need never come under scrutiny.
– Sardar, Nandy and Davies, Barbaric Others

The centenary of the Russian Revolution of October 1917 represents a unique moment for historical remembrance and celebrated, the event in question a momentous episode in the history of working class struggle and a beacon of hope for anyone who has ever dared to dream of a basically sane and just world. First and foremost, it represents an opportunity to recall the industrial democracy of factory committees established on the ruins of Tsarism and war, easily the revolution’s greatest achievement.[1] It likewise represents, amongst other things, an opportunity to recall the everyday heroism of the Russian people against Tsarist police state oppression and their creativity in trying to construct the foundations of…

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My review of “Revolutionary Women”

Highly recommended, from all good bookfairs and some crap ones.

lipstick socialist

a-f-anarchist-federation-revolutionary-women-1 Clara Gilbert Cole

I love this pamphlet. It is a fascinating subject; 13 unknown revolutionary women, their story of how they not only fought for their own emancipation but led other revolutionary struggles.

Revolutionary Women was produced by the Anarchist Federation who not only want to prove that anarchism and women’s liberation are two sides of a coin,  but that very often, and not just in the anarchist movement, women have had to fight their own male comrades to achieve equality.

I was fascinated to find out about Mancunian, Clara Gilbert Cole, (1868-1956) .  She worked as a postal worker and married  artist Herbert Cole. Clara and Herbert were involved with suffragism and he went onto become staff artist at the Women’s Social and Political Union.

Clara took part in some of the most important campaigns of her age. She opposed the First World War, founded  a League against…

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Update on imprisoned/extradited Polish anti-fascist Patryk Cichoń

And a chance to help a contemporary Working Class hero.

“Patryk has always been there when others needed help and assistance, please make sure he is not left on his own now.”

Cautiously pessimistic

From Brighton ABC:

“After first month in Polish jails that was heavy and depressing, Patryk feels much better. He had been moved to a 3-man cell and his cell mates are ok, plus he is soon going to start work which will help him kill time and can positively impact his parole hearing. He is allowed 2 visits a month and one 5 minute phone call a week. There is however no limit on the amount of letters Patryk can receive and they are obviously very important for him. He is in the process of sorting out small DVD player with a screen, so he is asking people to send him films and music on DVDs.

Comrades in Poland are going to pay some money into his prison fund so he can buy stuff from the prison shop and they are sorting out books and magazines for him.


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Fighting for a living wage: John Hardy and the battle of Pyt House.

Tribute to a martyr

Wessex Solidarity

On 25th November 1830, at the height of the Captain Swing uprising, labourer John Hardy was killed in action against yeomanry near his home at Tisbury in Wiltshire.

Four hundred quarrymen and agricultural labourers had confronted the landowner and local M.P. John Benett at Pyt House to demand two shillings per day, the quarrymen were at that time on three and a half pence. Instead Benett read a royal proclamation against riot, then offered five hundred pounds to any worker who would inform on ten others.

The workers were unmoved and destroyed Benett’s threshing machines. They were engaged in woodland by a troop of yeoman cavalry that had pursued them from nearby Hindon. A pitched battle ensued as the workers fought back with hatchets, pickaxes, hammers, sticks and stones, knocking Benett unconscious. All day, running battles were fought across the Vale of Wylye and barricades erected on the Warminster road.

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New Town Utopia

‘New Town Utopia is a feature documentary film about utopian dreams and concrete realities… the challenging, funny, and sometimes tragic story of the British new town of Basildon, Essex. The narrative is guided by the artists, musicians and poets of Basildon – on a journey through memory, place and performance. Facing austerity, adversity and personal battles they are individuals driven by creative spirit to help their community through art, poetry, music… and some rather angry puppets.’

See here for more information about this film: http://www.newtownutopia.com/

The film is about the vision the post war Labour government had for the New Towns and how that contrasts to the stark reality of what Basildon is like today. There’s footage of tired looking estates with the inevitable cracked and broken paths with the actor, Jim Broadbent, speaking the words of the Labour MP, Lewis Silken, as he articulated his vision for what the…

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New venue required for 2018!

Owing to the extraordinary mendacity and corrupt behaviour of the trustees of Portfield Community Hall we won’t be going back there.

We’re looking for a suitable venue in Dorset with good public transport, disabled access, and ideally room for the afterparty at the same location, as it will be the same handful of people setting up both events.

Please let us know if you’ve got any ideas. We’re looking at Dorchester, whi is served by rail but not so easy by road (and the bus service is pitiful) so we’d appreciate people’s views before we make plans.

Restless Specters of the Anarchist Dead: A Few Words from the Undead of 1917


This year is the centennial of two revolutions in Russia: one in which the people toppled the Tsar and another in which the Bolsheviks seized state power. Within twenty years, the Bolsheviks had executed or imprisoned most of those who carried out the revolution. Today, as the hashtag #1917live trends on twitter, we should remember the #1917undead, the anarchists who strove to warn humanity that statist paths towards social change will never bring us to freedom. Some of them, like Fanya and Aron Baron, were murdered in cold blood by authoritarian communists in the Soviet Union. Others managed to survive, betrayed by their supposed comrades, to witness the totalitarian results of the Bolshevik coup. Their voices cry out to us today from the grave. Let’s listen.


Marx, Engels, Lenin, and Stalin had sought total centralized power in the name of the proletariat, promising that this was a step towards…

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Leaflets, letters, and the anti-anti-semitism of fools

Cautiously pessimistic

I had initially intended to avoid writing anything directly about the dramas that have erupted around the London Anarchist Bookfair – partly because I think there are more important issues, but also because I wasn’t there on the day, I haven’t been in a while, and I don’t really consider myself to be connected to the London activisty scene in any meaningful sense at this point. But as the controversy has rolled on and deepened, I think it’s gone beyond just being an issue for those who were directly involved, and seems to have become an important event for UK anarchism in general, and at the risk of being grandiose, it might even illustrate something broader about the possibilities that exist for the non-Labour-affiliated class-struggle left at this point in time – as I say, I may be being grandiose there, but apart from us, who else is there at…

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