It has always amazed me how Britain's great Marxist historians (E.P. Thompson, Eric Hobsbawm, Christopher Hill etc) could get it so right when looking at British history, yet at times be so wrong about what was going on elsewhere in the world, especially in Eastern Europe, in their own lifetimes. Two recent Anarchist publications have rather undermined my conception that Anarchists can 'do' history more honestly, and without the ideological baggage of Marxist historians.
Is It Because I Is Black?
1. The big article on Lucy Parsons in Black Flag issue 226. Great woman, not a bad article, but it fails to address to issues that devalue both it and the magazine. Firstly the issue around her race and colour - it seems quite likely that for whatever reason, she was not honest about her ethnic origins during her life. She certainly looks black/African American whatever term you want to say, but was arguably in denial about it. The most likely explanation is the extreme racism in the America she grew up in - but if so, why not say so?
2. She died, not as an Anarchist, but a member of the Communist Party USA. Again - why not mention it?
Generally the return of Black Flag was well received and got positive feedback. It is well produced, and there is clearly a lot of goodwill towards the project. I hope it goes forward, as there is room for a class struggle anarchist magazine that is independent of any of the existing Anarchist organisations out there.
It is ironic though, to see some people who so easily condemn the likes of Class War for 'being stuck in the 1980s' lapping up a magazine that contained only one contemporary article, on Sarkozy's France, and if anything appears more at ease, not in the 1980s, but the 1880s!
Our Daily Bread
Bread and Roses is the magazine of the International Workers of the World.
An article in the current Bread and Roses (issue 10) by the esteemed (in his own mind) Dr Trevor Bark, on Paul Robeson, tickled my fancy. I don't doubt doubt Robeson was a great man, but to see him declared him a libertarian and honourary Wobbly is stretching it to put it mildly. Robeson was after all rather keen on Uncle Joe Stalin.
Even though I have put this point to the good Doctor personally, on more than one occasion, it is simply conveniently ignored, as awkward truths so often are.
Just to remove any doubt, here is the text of Robeson's ode to Stalin "To You Beloved Comrade". Robeson's comment that "One reverently speaks of Marx, Engels, Lenin and Stalin - the shapers of humanity's richest present and future" surely deserves a mention in any analysis of his life?
Selective amnesia anyone?