My review of Women Who Blow on Knots by Ece Temelkuran

lipstick socialist

women who blow

Ece Temelkuran is a Turkish journalist and writer. Her books and writings have taken up issues at the heart of the state of Turkey,  exposing human rights abuses against Kurdish people, the Armenian dispute and, closer to home, the Gezi uprising in 2013.  The atmosphere in Turkey is now toxic for journalists like Ece and, after being fired from her job in 2012,  she moved to Tunisia to write this novel; Women who Blow on Knots.

The title is from the Koran; “The verse begins with a decree..’Keep away from the inauspicious women who blow on knots’. Keep away from the inauspicious enchantresses..For God knows just what we are capable of.”

I have to say I do prefer the  title used in other countries; “What good is a revolution if I cannot dance to it,” referencing anarchist and writer Emma Goldman who believed in the absolute importance of the individual…

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‘Red Rosa’ – A book review

Angry Workers of the World

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In an interview, Kate Evans, the author and artist of Red Rosa, admitted that when she was initially approached about it, she did not know who Rosa Luxemburg was. Evans did, however, do meticulous research that informed how her pictures were drawn, and she also used Luxemburg’s own political writings to convey her inner and political life. The book is lively and characterful, its main goal attempting to draw Luxemburg as a whole person. By this, we mean that Evans includes a lot about Luxemburg’s friendships, and her romantic and sexual life, as well as trying to convey her political ideas.

It’s all too easy for writers and historians to focus solely on the public face and achievements of important people; but here, it’s clear that a feminist critique (i.e. ‘the personal is political’) informs Evans’ attempt to show that Luxemburg’s private life is not wholly separate from that which…

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Bristol Set for a VERY active couple of weeks

Bristol Anarchist Federation

We were just about to bang away on the keyboard listing all of the demonstrations, festivities and events coming up in the fortnight. However, we spotted that our friends over at Bristol IWW had just done the same, and we hope they won’t mind us coping their homework. Cheers comrades!

Make it to as many of these as you can – we’ll certainly be there!

This Saturday, the 9th of September, there is an IWW contingent joining the anti-austerity march and rally called by Bristol People’s Assembly and Bristol Labour Party on College Green. Facebook event here. Look for the IWW banner [and the AFed one, probably next to it]

Sadly on the 10th of September, fascists will be descending upon our city from outside Bristol attempting to whip up Islamophobia and hatred. This time we’re dealing with Tommy Robinson front group ‘Gays Against Sharia’…

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Letter from Another America……

lipstick socialist

Jane Latour is a freelance writer and author of Sisters in the Brotherhoods Working Women Organizing for Equality in New York City. I asked her to give an activist’s view, both personal and political, on the impact of the election of Donald Trump. Jane quoted Tom Paine These are the times that try men’s souls and I think that that sums up how many activists both in the UK and USA feel.

jane in NY Jane and trade union comrades

Seven months into the new administration, progressives in the United States are still reeling from the election of Donald J. Trump on November 8th, 2016.  “President Trump” still sounds like an oxymoron. However, Progressives, and women in particular, responded with alacrity–organizing the historically huge women’s marches on January 21st, the day after the inauguration.

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Others have followed. Personally, it took me, a Leftist and a feminist, longer to recover.  One…

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Feldman, Leah, 1899-1993.

Surrey and Hampshire Anarchist Federation

A biography of Polish-born anarchist Leah Feldman, nicknamed the “Makhnovist Granny” who tirelessly devoted her life for the cause of working class emancipation.

Leah Feldman, who was cremated in London on January 7th, 1994 was one of the ordinary men and women who rarely get into history books but have been the backbone of the anarchist movement.

Born in Warsaw in 1899, as a schoolgirl she became interested in anarchism. She said that her mother used to hide her shoes so that she could not attend meetings, which were then illegal in Poland. Finally she ran away to her sister in London where she earned her living at the sewing machine.

Working in the sweatshops of the East End she became active in the Yiddish-speaking anarchist movement that flourished at that time. When the Russian revolution broke out in 1917 the overwhelming majority of Russian male Jewish anarchists returned home…

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My review of Lovers & Strangers An Immigrant History of Post-War Britain Clair Wills

lipstick socialist

lovers and strangers

Clair Wills has written a fascinating and insightful book  about the role of immigrants in Britain between 1940s and 1960s. Popular history and culture frames post war migration  around the images of the West Indian community and the “Windrush generation,” but this is far from the complete story as  Clair reminds us that Poles, Latvians, Lithuanians, Ukranians, Italians, Maltese, Cypriots, Indians, Pakistanis and the Irish made up this multi-cultural group. And for me, the daughter of Irish migrants, the book’s  recognition  that the Irish were the biggest group – 40,000 per year in the 1950s- is an important addition to the  history of  immigrants in this country.

She dispels the myth that Britain welcomed them for unselfish reasons. “…in the end, however, the needs of the refugees were neither here nor there besides the needs of the countries offering refuge.”  The newcomers provided the labour needed to rebuild the post…

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Bristol Radical History Festival on Sunday 17th September at the MSHED (day after the anarchist bookfair)

Wessex Solidarity

Bristol Radical History and the Remembering the Real World War One groups are teaming up to bring you the Bristol Radical History Festival on Sunday 17th September (10.30am – 4.30pm) at M Shed.

Bristol Radical History Festival brings together historians, history groups, publishers and the public for a day of talks, walks, puppet shows and readings, films, bookstalls and displays uncovering radical histories in Bristol, the South West and beyond.

From mutinous Bristolian soldiers to rebellious anarchist women, from Bristol’s underground networks of war resistors to its rioters of 1831 we promise a ‘history-from-below’ approach, with speakers and performers eager to share authentic glimpses of a hitherto undocumented past.

Two important anniversaries are also being celebrated at the Radical History Festival. It is 800 years since the Charter of the Forest was signed granting rights, privileges and protections for the commoner, something which has been…

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Italy 1960s-70s: a reading guide.

Surrey and Hampshire Anarchist Federation

Check Libcom.org’s excellent reading guide on the Italian social movements of the 1960s-70s, which saw massive strikes, protests, occupations, directly democratic assemblies and widespread radicalism across society.

Key texts

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Why I Never Write About the Fucking Tories

architectsforsocialhousing

Illustration by Clifford Harper
In a nation of 65.5 million people the membership of the Conservative Party is a tiny 134,000, a fraction of the well over half a million current members of the Labour Party. Yet the Conservative Party is one of the most successful political parties in Western democracies. Conservative Prime Ministers led UK governments for 57 years of the 20th Century and for 7 of the 21st. It currently has 8,857 councillors in local government – a extraordinary 1 for every 15 party members – out of a total of 20,830 seats; and, despite implementing the most draconian cuts to government expenditure in living memory while simultaneously presiding over the highest wealth inequality in Europe, has just been voted to the government of the UK for the third time in seven years. So how do they do it?

The obvious answer is that its members – which account for only…

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The Personal is Political by Carol Hanisch (1969)

Feminist Reading Group

This classic essay is available on Carol Hanisch’s website here.

In her 2006 follow-up, Hanisch mentions one of feminism’s biggest challenges.

I wish we could have anticipated all the ways that “The Personal Is Political” and “The Pro-Woman Line” would be revised and misused. Like most of the theory created by the Pro-Woman Line radical feminists, these ideas have been revised or ripped off or even stood on their head and used against their original, radical intent. While it’s necessary that theories take their knocks in the real world, like everything else, many of us have learned that once they leave our hands, they need to be defended against revisionism and misuse.

OUCH. That’s real, sisters. Even as we attempt to move forward, we must vigilantly watch our backs (see: legal erosion of abortion access) and ensure that our theories are not co-opted for anti-feminist purposes (see: trans politics).

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