BAKUNIN’S LEGACY eBook £1.50 (see eBookshelf)

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What are these ideas that have proved so relevant in the twentieth century—more so, perhaps, than in Bakunin’s own time? Above all, Bakunin foresaw the true nature of modern revolution more clearly than any of his contemporaries, Marx not excepted. For Marx the socialist revolution required the emergence of a well-organized and class-conscious proletariat, something to be expected in highly industrialized countries like Germany or England. Marx regarded the peasantry as the social class least capable of constructive revolutionary action: together with Lumpenproletariat of the urban slums, the peasants were benighted and primitive barbarians, the bulwark of counterrevolution. For Bakunin, by contrast, the peasantry and Lumpenproletariat, having been least exposed to the corrupting influences of bourgeois civilization, retained their primitive vigor and turbulent instinct for revolt. The real proletariat, he said, did not consist in the skilled artisans and organized factory workers, who were tainted by the pretensions and aspirations of the middle classes, but in the great mass of “uncivilized, disinherited, and illiterate” millions who truly had nothing to lose but their chains. Thus, while Marx believed in an organized revolution led by a trained and disciplined working class, Bakunin set his hopes on a peasant jacquerie combined with a spontaneous rising of the infuriated urban mobs, a revolt of the uncivilized masses driven by an instinctive passion for justice and by an unquenchable thirst for revenge. Bakunin’s model had been set by the great rebellions of Razin and Pugachev in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. His vision was of an all-embracing upheaval, a true revolt of the masses, including, besides the working class, the darkest elements of society—the Lumpenproletariat, the primitive peasantry, the unemployed, the outlaws—all pitted against those who throve on their misery and enslavement.

Subsequent events have, to a remarkable extent, confirmed the accuracy of Bakunin’s vision. It is small wonder, then, that contemporary historians have shown a new appreciation of the role of spontaneous and primitive movements in shaping history. From the work of Barrington Moore, who has recently investigated the relationship between modernization and agrarian revolt, as well as of Eric Hobsbawm, George Rude, E. P. Thompson, and others, we are coming to understand that most modern revolutions, like those of the past, have been largely unplanned and spontaneous, driven by mass movements of urban and rural laborers, and in spirit predominantly anarchistic. No longer can these naive, primitive, and irrational groups be written off as fringe elements to be ignored by the historian. They lie, rather, at the very basis of social change.

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A NEW WORLD IN OUR HEARTS The Faces of Spanish Anarchism Edited by Albert Meltzer. eBook £1.50 (see eBookshelf)

A NEW WORLD IN OUR HEARTS, The Faces of Spanish Anarchism, Edited by Albert Meltzer. Contributors: Albert Meltzer; Frank Mintz; José Peirats; Gaston Leval; Andrew Giles Peters. Originally published 1978 by Cienfuegos Press, Sanday, Orkney. Over the course of 120 pages, through a series of interlinked essays, the contributors discuss the history of Spanish Anarchism, the Revolution in practice, the post-Revolution resistance and internal anarchist organization, and the reemergence of the CNT and Spanish Anarchism following the death of Franco. As enlightening, informative, and relevant as it was when it first appeared almost 30 years ago.

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BOURGEOIS INFLUENCES ON ANARCHISM and REVOLUTION and DICTATORSHIP Luigi Fabbri. eBook £1.50 (see eBookshelf)

fabbrismallBourgeois Influences on Anarchism was written in 1914 by Italian anarchist communist Luigi Fabbri (1877-1935), around the time the opening shots of WWI were being fired. In it he addresses problems he sees as resulting from the stereotyping of anarchism both in bourgeois literature and the media, and the negative effect this was having on popular culture, and on the actual anarchist movement.

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“The minds of men, especially of the young, thirsting for the mysterious and extraordinary, allow themselves to be easily dragged by the passion for the new toward that which, when coolly examined in the calm which follows initial enthusiasm, is absolutely and definitively repudiated. This fever for new things, this audacious spirit, this zeal for the extraordinary has brought to the anarchist ranks the most exaggeratedly impressionable types, and at the same time, the most empty headed and frivolous types, persons who are not repelled by the absurd, but who, on the contrary, engage in it. They are attracted to projects and ideas precisely because they are absurd, and so anarchism comes to be known precisely for the illogical character and ridiculousness which ignorance and bourgeois calumny have attributed to anarchist doctrines.”

The first English translation of Fabbri’s classic dissection of problems which still plague anarchism today, such as the identification of anarchism in the capitalist press with disorganization, chaos, and terrorism, and the consequent embracement of such things by some “anarchists.”

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THE GREAT FRENCH REVOLUTION 1789–1793 (La Grande Révolution 1789-1793), Peter Kropotkin. Translated from the French by N.F. Dryhurst. eBook £1.50 (see eBookshelf)

frenchrevolutionsmallThe Great French Revolution 1789–1793 (La Grande Révolution 1789-1793), Peter Kropotkin. Translated from the French by N.F. Dryhurst. 

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Peter Kropotkin’s comprehensive study of the popular and parallel movements that changed forever the course of European history, the French Revolution; from the earliest revolutionary stirrings among the peasants to the agrarian risings in 1789, the struggles for and against the feudal laws, the real causes of the movement of May 31, etc., the contending struggles for political power, and through the Terror to political reaction.

The more one studies the French Revolution the clearer it is how incomplete is the history of that great epoch, how many gaps in it remain to be filled, how many points demand elucidation. How could it be otherwise? The Great Revolution, that set all Europe astir, that overthrew everything, and began the task of universal reconstruction in the course of a few years, was the working of cosmic forces dissolving and re-creating a world. And if in the writings of the historians who deal with that period and especially of Michelet, we admire the immense work they have accomplished in disentangling and co-ordinating the innumerable facts of the various parallel movements that made up the Revolution, we realise at the same time the vastness of the work which still remains to be done.

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A DOMINIE ABROAD, A DOMINIE’S FIVE, A DOMINIE’S LOG, A DOMINIE DISMISSED and A DOMINIE IN DOUBT by A. S. Neill eBook £1.50/€2.00 (see eBookshelf

A DOMINIE ABROAD by A.S. Neill (£1.50 – ChristieBooks eBookshelf). A fascinating account of A.S. Neill’s experiences setting up a ‘Free school’ in the pre-Hitlerian Germany of the Weimar Republic. Dissatisfied with traditional schooling, with its lack of freedom, democracy, and self-determination, Neill began searching for a place to establish his own school and to experiment with his developing ideas, gathering what was best in the educational systems of various nations. In 1921 he became a co-director of the Dalcroze School in Hellerau, a suburb of Dresden, Germany. Part of an international school, called Neue Schule, the Dalcroze supported the study of Eurythmics. His’s first step was to buy a dictionary and start to learn the language, the next was to record his impressions. His difficulties were many. With cheery optimism the bohemian teacher overlooked the fact that he was in a community with definite laws on education; he also quite forgot the difficulties of finance. There was also the tragic fact that the Dominie’s favourite tobacco was unobtainable within five hundred square miles.

A DOMINIE’S FIVE or FREE SCHOOL by A.S. Neill In 1921 Scottish teacher A.S. Neill moved to Hellerau on the outskirts of Dresden where he co-founded an International School to pursue his own ideas on education: that the child’s happiness should be the paramount consideration in deciding its upbringing, a happiness which grows from a sense of personal freedom. After reading what was at the time considered a popular and exciting story — King Solomon’s Mines — to the English-speaking group of five pupils with the result that four of them went to sleep, he conceived the idea of telling the children a story in which they themselves were the participants and actors. Needless to say, the story was a great success, judging by the remarks of the children. This is the story told by Neill. Its imaginativeness is unique as is its whimsical humour. It makes an original contribution to the art of story-telling for children.

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Dominie1A DOMINIE’S LOG by A.S. Neill

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A Dominie’s Log was directly due to the Scottish Code of Education, by which it is forbidden to enter general reflections or opinions in the official log-book. Requiring a safety-valve, a young Dominie decides to keep a private log-book. In it he jots down the troubles and comedies of the day’s work. Sometimes he startles even his own bairns by his unconventionality. There is a lot in Education that he does not understand. The one thing, however, that he does comprehend is the Child Mind, and he possesses the saving quality of humour. (1915)

DominieDismissedA DOMINIE DISMISSED by A.S. Neill

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In consequence of the Dominie’s go-as- you-please methods of educating village children, the inevitable happens he is dismissed, giving place to an approved disciplinarian. The unhappy Dominie, forced to leave his bairns, seeks to enlist but the doctor discovers that his lungs are affected, and he is ordered an open-air life. He returns as a cattleman to the village where he has previously been a school master. Incidentally, he watches the effect of his successor’s teaching, the triumph of his own methods and the discomfiture of his rival at the hands of the children, in whom the Dominie cultivated personality and the rights of bairns. (1917)

DominieDoubtA DOMINIE IN DOUBT by A.S. Neill (£1.50)

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One day when re-reading A Dominie’s Log, its author decided that a book is out of date five minutes after it is written. In other words, he was in doubt—terrible and perplexing doubt. Do I really understand children? he asked himself. Are my ideas upon education right or wrong ? He decided that he had not sufficiently studied the psychology of children and that, in consequence, he had been guilty of almost criminal neglect. In the same delightfully discursive and humorous manner the Dominic reveals himself, as attractive in his doubts as in his convictions. He does not repent his unconventions. On the contrary, he reproaches himself for having been a heretic, whereas he ought to have been an arch-heretic.  (1920)

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ASNeill

Alexander Sutherland Neill was born in Forfar in the N.E, of Scotland on 17 October 1883 (d. 23/9/1973) to George and Mary Neill. He was raised in an austere, Calvinist house and instilled with values of fear, guilt, and adult and divine authority, which he later repudiated. His father was the village dominie (Scottish schoolmaster) of Kingsmuir, near Forfar in eastern Scotland; his mother, too, had been a teacher before her marriage. The village dominie held a position in the community of prestige, but hierarchically beneath that of the gentry, doctors, and clergymen. The dominie, typically, controlled overcrowded classrooms with the tawse (the belt), as the means of maintaining good order and discipline.

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