Thursday, December 1, 2016

Into December: run-down of alternative/radical run-up...

Raphael Samuel Memorial Lecture 7 December
Alison Light: 'Between Private and Public: Writing a Memoir about Raphael and Myself'
Date and Time: 7th December 2016, 7 p.m.- 8.30 p.m. (with wine reception to follow)
Venue: Arts 2. Lecture Theatre. Queen Mary University of London, Mile End Road, London E1 4NS.
=================== Socialist History Group
A reminder that our next meeting is on Saturday 3 December 
1-4 p.m. at the Red Shed, Vicarage Street, Wakefield WF1 
when we will be discussing THE POLITICS OF ANTONIO GRAMSCI.
Colin Waugh and Howard Moss will be speaking.  
There will also be music from the acoustic duo "Barnsdale Hood" and a free light buffet.  
There is a bar with excellent real ale.
Admission is free and all are welcome.

UPDATE: How it went...
Twenty three people attended a meeting on THE POLITICS OF ANTONIO GRAMSCI organised by Wakefield Socialist History Group last Saturday (3 December) at the Red Shed in Wakefield.
Colin Waugh (Independent Working Class Education Network) argued that Gramsci's ideas have been distorted in [...?] because of his imprisonment, by the Italian Communist Party in the aftermath of World War Two and by "academics to this day."  Gramsci, Colin argued, was a Marxist revolutionary who developed a radical from-below view of socialism.
Howard Moss (Socialist Party of Great Britan) also spoke.  He said Gramsci was undoubtedly a courageous figure.  However Gramsci still had an attachment to a Leninist position.  Gramsci still talked of socialism as a form of state and of socialism in terms of the leaders and the led.  The SPGB is for socialism where "people act for themselves, democratically and without leaders."
There was also music from "Barnsdale Hood" and a lively question/discussion session.
[from] Convenor, Wakefield Socialist History Group.

The Wakefield Socialist History Group's next event...
A SORT OF BURNS NIGHT: Robert Burns and other radical poets...
is on Saturday 28 January 1-4pm at the Red Shed, Vicarage Street, Wakefield WF1.

 Mary Quaile Club at Manchester Anarchist Bookfair

"We will running  a Mary Quaile Club bookstall  this Saturday 10th December at the Manchester Anarchist Bookfair, which is being held this year in Islington Mill in Salford.

We will have copies for sale of our two  publications: Northern Resisters and Dare To Be Free.
Bernadette Hyland will be giving a talk at the bookfair about the life and politics of Mary Quaile
This  will take place at noon.
This is a link to more information about the bookfair:
These will be our final activities for 2016. 
Our thanks to everyone who has either attended our events or supported us with donations.
We look forward to seeing you at our events in 2017."

The Manchester & Salford Anarchist Bookfair, sponsored by The Cunningham Amendment, will take place on Saturday 10th December at Islington Mill, James Street, off Chapel Street, Salford, M3 5HW.
[Bit late but] If you would like to find out more about booking a stall or organising a talk/ workshop please contact:

in conversation with KEN WORPOLE
Wednesday 7 December 2016 at 7 p.m.

We are delighted to announce that Daniel Rachel will be appearing at the shop* on Wednesday 7 December to read and talk about his new book
Picador). Daniel's remarkable oral history - which brilliantly captures the mood on the streets of British cities before and after the epoch-changing rise of Rock Against Racism - will be introduced by writer
Ken Worpole, who remembers when Hackney’s streets were on the front line.

Tickets £3 (includes glass of wine). For booking please RSVP: or call 020 7241 1626. For further information please see below.

*Broadway Bookshop, 6 Broadway Market…Hackney
Launch Event - 7th December 2016 – 7pm Nottingham Mechanics

Join People’s Histreh and author Colin Brett to celebrate the launch our brand new book!
There will also be a talk by People's Histreh, giving you an update regarding our ongoing research project '103 Foresters', as we continue to look into the stories of the soldiers from the local regiment who were sentenced to death or sentenced for mutiny between 1914 and 1918.

Nottingham Mechanics
3 North Sherwood Street

Free event – venue wheelchair accessible

"We are the Lions" - looking back at the Grunwick strike [reminder]

Working Class Movement Library
51 The Crescent
Salford, M5 4WX 

40 years ago six workers walked out of the Grunwick Film Processing Laboratory in London igniting a historic two-year dispute. They were soon joined by most of the workforce.  As the first workers left the factory, one – Jayaben Desai – offered a parting shot to the management:

“What you are running here is not a factory, it is a zoo. But in a zoo there are many types of animals. Some are monkeys who dance on your fingertips, others are lions who can bite your head off. We are the lions, Mr Manager”.

Thousands of trade unionists from around the country, including miners and steelworkers came to show solidarity with the mostly female, mostly Asian work-force. To mark the 40th anniversary Manchester Trades Council is co-organising an event to discuss this landmark dispute and lessons for today’s struggles, in conjunction with the Mary Quaile Club and NUJ Manchester & Salford Branch.

It will be taking place on Saturday 3 December 1pm to 3pm, at the Library. Drop in earlier if you want to browse WCML's
James Connolly exhibition - or email us at if you'd like to book a place in our reading room that day to study Grunwick-related material.  We're open from 10am to 4pm on the first Saturday of most months.

The event will include a screening of the documentary, 'The Great Grunwick Strike' and will be addressed by speakers.  All are welcome but seating is limited, so please book in advance by emailing
Also from WCML:-

Dare Devil Rides to Jarama - a date for your January diaries
Marking the 80th anniversary of the Spanish Civil War, Dare Devil Rides to Jarama is a new play by Townsend Productions based on the experiences of International Brigade volunteers during the Spanish Civil War. In particular it focuses on Clem Beckett, a Lancashire blacksmith and famous star of the speedway track, who joined the International Brigade to defend freedom and democracy against Franco's rising fascist armies.
This extraordinary story will be presented for two nights only at the Library - Friday 27 and Saturday 28 January 2017 at 7.30pm.   Tickets price £12 (£10 concessions) are available here   (27th) and here  (28th).  Further information from 07949 635910.

Songs and poems for peace
The group Stockport for Peace are holding an event at Stockport Art Gallery on Saturday 3 December from 4 to 5pm, offering songs and poems for peace and stories of those who gave alternative service.  It will be followed by a candlelit vigil. All welcome.
This event runs alongside an exhibition on the upstairs landing at Stockport Local Heritage Library, which runs during library opening hours until 10 January, and includes a travelling version of the WCML World War 1 exhibition To End All Wars.
Stockport Art Gallery, Wellington Road South, Stockport SK3 8AB.
Stockport Local Heritage Library, Wellington Rd South, Stockport SK1 3RS.

An Evening with Quiet Loner
On Thursday 8 December from 6pm to 8pm at the People's History Museum, songwriter in residence Matt Hill (Quiet Loner) will be performing Battle for the Ballot, songs inspired by the museum's collection as well as by time spent here in the WCML reading room!  Expect to hear songs about radicals and reformers, suffragists and suffragettes, strikes and struggles. The evening will include new material, such as a song about the Match Girls’ Strike.
Booking required at, suggested donation £5.  
More information here.
People’s History Museum, Left Bank, Spinningfields, Manchester M3 3ER. Tel: 0161 838 9190.
James Connolly exhibition extendedThe WCML exhibition exploring the life of one of the leaders of the Easter Rising, James Connolly, socialist, trade unionist, nationalist and revolutionary, has been extended until Friday 27 January
We only want the earth reveals the life and prolific works of this enigmatic man and marks the centenary of his death.
Exhibition open Wednesdays to Fridays 1-5pm, and the first Saturday of the month 10am-4pm. Admission free.
A travelling version of this exhibition is now available for loan - please contact if you want to find out more about borrowing it.
LSHG Seminar - Merilyn Moos on children of refugees from Nazism

Monday December 5th

Merilyn Moos: 'Breaking the Silence. Voices of the British Children of Refugees from Nazism'
 Merilyn Moos will be focusing on the continuing impact on the ‘second generation’, people born in Britain to refugees from Nazism, of their parents’ terrible losses and dislocation, but also on whether  having parents who actively opposed the Nazis from the left makes a difference to their children. She will conclude by making some suggestions about similarities and differences with today's refugees.

Room 304 Institute of Historical Research, Senate House, Malet St, WC1, at 5.30pm

Free without ticket - no need to book in advance.  

For more on the subject and a link to Merilyn Moos's book please see here


Book launch - Rocking Against Racism 1976-1982

Free Event: Rocking Against Racism 1976-1982

Monday 5th December @ 7:00 pm - 10:00 pm – Conway Hall
Book Launch
Celebrating a movement of both Cultural and Political importance in the UK’s history, Reminiscences of RAR – Rocking Against Racism 1976-1981 hears from a number of collaborators, rockers and fighters. The launch event will host talks, readings and, of course, music, not only looking back at the events of 40 years ago, but also looking at the struggles and fights we face in Britain today.
Rock Against Racism (RAR) came into existence in the autumn of 1976 in response to a rise in racist attacks, and the continuing growth of the Nazi National Front. In August a racist tirade by blues guitarist Eric Clapton from the stage in Birmingham led to a letter, jointly signed by the compilers of this book, to the music press critical of Clapton’s racism and asking for readers to support an anti-racist campaign through music. The response was overwhelming and a movement was born.
For the next six years RAR was at the centre of a cultural movement against racism and the NF. From 1978 it was partnered with both the Anti-Nazi League and School Kids Against the Nazis. Together they had broken the National Front by 1979 and continued the fight against racism with RAR’s Militant Entertainment Tour, and in 1981 the fourth and final Carnival in Leeds.
With 65 contributors this book brings together the reminiscences of activists and supporters during the period. From many backgrounds and ages, musician and audience, punk and Rasta, street fighter and pogo dancer, united with a single aim: to Rock Against Racism.

Book via eventbrite here 

Call for Papers: Wars of Position: Marxism and Civil Society

International Conference, Manchester, UK, 8-10 June 2017

Key-note speakers

Jodi Dean, Professor of Political Science, Hobart and William Smith Colleges, New York.  Author of books including Crowds and Party (2016), The Communist Horizon (2011),Democracy and other Neoliberal Fantasies (2009)
Stathis Kouvelakis, Reader in Political Theory, King’s College, London and former member of Syriza’s Central Committee.  Author of Philosophy and Revolution: From Kant to Marx (2003)
Kevin Morgan, Professor of Politics and Contemporary History, University of Manchester.  Author of books including Bolshevism, Syndicalism and the General Strike: The Lost Internationalist World of A.A. Purcell (2013), Labour Legends and Russian Gold (2006), The Webbs and Soviet Communism (2006).
 ‘In Russia’, wrote Antonio Gramsci, ‘the State was everything’ and ‘civil society primordial’; in the highly-developed West, civil society formed ‘permanent fortifications’ which the revolutionary party would have to occupy and transform in order to take and hold power.
No Marxist parties in the West made a revolution.  Historical analysis of their failure has been abundant, but insufficiently attentive to parties’ approaches to civil society in Gramsci’s sense (i.e. social practices and institutions outside the government, judiciary and repressive state apparatus).  This international and interdisciplinary conference is at once historically grounded and attuned to contemporary debates on the Left.  It brings together: analysis of the theory and practice of twentieth-century Marxist parties in relation to civil society; analysis of contemporary Left formations’ approaches to civil society; analysis of the ‘idea’ of communism today and the relevance or obsolescence of ‘the party’ as an organizational form in the twenty-first century.
Proposals are invited for twenty-minute papers and panels of three papers.  Abstracts (250 words) should be emailed to by 1/12/16.  Conference interpreters may be available for delegates who wish to present in languages other than English (please e-mail the organisers).  The conference will take place in Manchester’s People’s History Museum, an institution committed to archiving and chronicling the history of radical politics; some panels will discuss the challenges faced by such institutions today.  Papers for the conference might address, but are not restricted to:
·         History, civil society and the ‘idea of Communism’ debate (Badiou, Žižek, Dean et al)
·         Civil society and political strategy in recent / contemporary Left formations (e.g. Podemos, Syriza, Five Star Movement, Die Linke, Parti de gauche)
·         Theoretical debates in the Marxist tradition on ‘civil society’ (Marx, Engels, Lenin, Trotsky, Luxemburg, Gramsci, Lukács, Althusser, Marcuse, Poulantzas et al)
·         The struggle for ‘proletarian culture’ in the 1920s and after
·         Communism, the nation and the Popular Fronts in the 1930s and 1940s
·         New Lefts and communism
·         ‘Anti-revisionism’ and cultural revolution
·         Eurocommunism and civil society
·         ‘Post-Marxism’
·         Marxism, gender and the family
·         Marxist parties and intellectuals/ education / science / religion / writing history/ the media / the family
·         Marxism and the arts / the avant-garde / popular culture
·         Marxist parties and their cultural institutions, publishing houses, publications and counter-hegemonic events. 
The conference is part of the AHRC-funded project, Wars of Position: Communism and Civil Society led by Dr Ben Harker at the University of Manchester:
It is run in collaboration with the People’s History Museum and the journal Twentieth Century Communism.  
The organisers intend to publish an edited collection based around the conference proceedings.


And not forgetting - 

"The 2017 edition of Past Tense's annual delve into London's rumbunctious radical history is selling fast...

The fourth annual calendar features our selection of the rebellious, subversive and insurgent anniversaries: a date from London history for every day of 2017, strikes and riots; rowdy parties and occupations; births (no marriages) and deaths. And much more...
We do it because we love it. If you find it useful, inspiring, makes you think, leads you to something you didn't know, or just makes you laugh and dance with the joy of defiance - that's what we were aiming for...

Written and designed by angry amateur hysterians, and printed in several colours by artisans in South London."

It's now on sale in the following Bookshops (and other places) in London:

Freedom Bookshop -
Housmans -
56a Infoshop -
Electric Elephant -
Bookmarks -
Muswell Hill Books -

Stoke Newington Bookshop -
Bookseller Crow on the Hill -
Newham Books -
Brick Lane Bookshop -
Review Bookshop -
Bookart Bookshop -
Broadway Bookshop -
Calder Bookshop & Theatre -
Clapham Books -
Herne Hill Books -
Kirkdale Bookshop -
Atlantis Books -
Institute of Contemporary Arts -
Ti-pi-tin -
Rye Books -

Support your local independent or radical bookshop...!

The calendar is also available from
AK Distribution
Active Distribution

But of course the Calendar can also be yours for just £6.00... Plus £2.00 Postage & Packing from the publications page on our website:
(payment by paypal)

or by post, from
Past Tense
c/o 56a Infoshop
56 Crampton Street,
SE17 3AE

enclosing a cheque for £8.00, payable to Past Tense Publications.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Remembering War-Resisters in Scotland

Brief Book Review

Objectors & Resisters: Opposition to Conscription and War in Scotland 1914-18, by Robert Duncan (Glasgow: Common Print/Common Weal, March 2015)

Dedicated "To all peace activists, whatever your political views". 

According to the London Rebel History Calendar 2016, on 24 November 1918 a mass meeting of the North London Herald League demanded the release of jailed socialist John MacLean. His name and record of resolute opposition to the First World War will be familiar, up to a point, to many radical historians, as will several other aspects of the story told in Robert Duncan’s excellent book: the Glasgow rent strike, industrial unrest, the launch of the Women’s Peace Crusade.  It breaks new ground, however, in collating and adding to the information available on these and other topics, and deserves to be widely read.

The longest chapters are 4 and 5, dealing with conscientious objectors (COs), arguably the group whose anti-war stance cost them the most. From the Acknowledgements, the author’s work on the book was completed in January 2015, so that he would probably not have had access to the Pearce Register online. Nor does he refer to many of the secondary sources published or re-issued and updated in or shortly after 2014, which in any case tend to be rather short on information about Scotland. This means that he relies extensively on his own original research in newspapers and periodicals and often on the accounts of his protagonists themselves, providing resounding statements of principle and heartening examples of resistance.

Obtainable from the publishers - advisable to allow 2-3 weeks for delivery on recent experience.

 "In the case of hunger strikers, we could always feed them artificially in the last resort, but in the case of the work striker we can do nothing..." 
 - Excerpt from confidential Scottish Police Commissioner's report on prominent CO James Maxton in Perth prison, June 1917, on p.84 of the book.