Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Spain and the World: Aspects of the Spanish Revolution and Civil War (7)

Eric Hobsbawm and the politics of writing history

Examining the writings of historian Eric Hobsbawm it is easy to discern a theme that consistently runs through his writings on the Spanish Civil War (SCW), that is that the Spanish republic had to be defended first, that the revolution had to be thwarted to carry out this aim, and lastly that the Spanish Communist Party (PCE) was the only organisation capable of carrying through this task.(1) However what is not laid bare for the reader is how much of Hobsbawm's personal political opinions lead to his analysis of the the SCW. And secondly that Hobsbawm constructs an historiography that always engages and dismisses at the same time an alternative view of history, that from an anarchist or libertarian tradition.

The Background
In 1959 the book Primitive Rebels (PR) was published. It is Hobsbawm's history of movements, criminals, and social banditry that represent naive, backward, and most importantly unorganised attempts at social revolution. Chapter 5 of the book examines the history of peasant anarchism in Andalusia

MEETING - No to privatising the Post Office

Wednesday 14 September 8 pm at the Wood Green Social Club, Stuart Crescent , N 22,
on the second Wednesday of the month.
[The WGSC is 100 yards up the hill just up from the tube station,cross the gardens and there we are, opposite Civic Centre]

This useless piece of proposed anti-social legislation which reverses the gains of the last century when the PO finally replaced costly private provision with public service, deserves to be opposed by anyone not obsessed by the profit motive. Historically this area has direct links with the introduction of Rowland Hill’s famous Penny Post. Mr Hill was resident at what is now the Bruce Castle Museum in Lordship Lane, N17 – they have exhibits on the subject well worth a visit. Over the years the Post Office has become a model of social

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

'Your money is permanent' - Invergordon Mutiny Poem

Would you ask your sleek Committee

By whom the probe was begun

To manage on twenty-eight bob a week

or try it on twenty-one?

For six long years they dallied

And jiggled the wedge so thin

For six long years we wondered

How far they would drive it in

But you spoke and we believed you

‘Your money is permanent’

And now you’re chipping the plain AB

by twenty-five per cent.

Excerpts from unpublished poem about the 1931 mutiny over Navy pay cuts, by AB John Bush.
AB = Able Seaman.

Verses printed in Anthony Carew, The Lower Deck of the RN, 1900-1939: the Invergordon Mutiny in Perspective, Manchester, 1981, pages 142 and 171.


Review by J. J. (Joe Jacobs), Solidarity: for Workers’ Power, vol. 7, no. 12, November 1974, pp.19-20, posted here to mark the 80th anniversary this September of the Invergordon Mutiny* – a small-scale, short-lived episode but extensive in its effects, and one with significance for libertarians. A few notes have been added for clarification or updating.

* (More on this story later).

Invergordon Mutineer by Len Wincott (Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1974).

I got to know Len Wincott soon after the mutiny, and saw him off when he went to the Soviet Union in 1934. I was pleased to be among those who met him again during his recent visit to Britain to promote his book.

From the very beginning of his visit Len made it clear to all concerned that he was not here to talk about his experiences in Russia over the last 40 years. A circular handed out by his publishers stated:
‘During the Second World War he served in the Red Army, but later was arrested as a “British spy” and spent 11 years in a labour camp in the Northern Urals. In 1957 he was released and cleared of all charges when the gates of the labour camps opened after Khrushchev’s denouncement of Stalin’.
Len Wincott, now aged 67, lives in Moscow with his fourth wife Lena whom he married in 1965. He decided to return to the Soviet Union because (as he explained to the assembled newsmen at a press