Detective Surveillance of Anarchists by Robert A. Pinkerton — Hell mend him, his father, brothers and all the rest of his brood that went into the family business

May 4, 1886 by Flavio Costantini

 

On Monday May 3, 1886, during a peaceful demonstration of striking workers outside the McCormick Reaper works in Chicago, police, private security guards and agents provocateurs employed by the Pinkerton National Detective Agency — then run by Robert and William Pinkerton, sons of the company’s founder, Gorbals-born low-life, Alan Pinkerton — fired into the crowd, killing two (or possibly six) and wounding a number of other demonstrators. A rally in support of the eight-hour day and in protest at the previous day’s killings was held the following evening, May 4, in Haymarket square was peaceful until 10.30 pms when, during the short speech given by the last speaker, British socialist Samuel Fielden, a  large number of policemen marched up to the wagon being used as a platform and ordered the speaker to stop and the remaining crowd to disperse. According to historian Paul Avrich the police then opened fire on the fleeing demonstrators, reloaded and then fired again, killing four and wounding as many as 70 people. A pipe bomb was then rolled in front of the advancing police which exploded, killing one policeman and wounding six others. The bomb thrower was never identified, although evidence was produced by August Spies, one of the subsequent accused and executed, linking the bomb to Pinkerton agents. Fortunately for the investigating officers bomb-making equipment and bombs were discovered ten days later in the apartment of German-born anarchist carpenter Louis Lingg, who hadn’t been present during the Haymarket Rally on the day in question. As a result of the 1886 Haymarket affair, the First of May — May Day — was chosen by the Second International as the date for International Workers’ Day. The following article by Robert Pinkerton, one of those complicit in the events of 3 and 4 May 1886, appeared in November 1901 following the September 6 assassination of US President William McKinley by Polish anarchist Leon Czolgosz. It provides an informed insight into the opportunist mentality and modus operandi of this ‘noble profession’ as is claimed on the grandiose obelisk tombstone of the detective agency’s founder — and disgrace to Glasgow:

 

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HISTORY OF THE MAKHNOVIST MOVEMENT by Peter Arshinov (Translated from the Russian by Lorraine and Fredy Perlman) — eBook £1.50 (see eBookshelf)

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Peter Arshinov*  first met and befriended Nestor Makhno in prison in 1911, a friendship that that was to continue after their release following the February Revolution in 1917. In 1919 Arshinov became Makhno’s secretary, and remained with the Makhnovischina until 1921. The following year, 1922, he escaped into exile in Berlin where he published the Russian edition of the Makhno story. Arshinov’s history of the Makhnovists is one of the most important primary sources on the life of the Ukrainian anarchist guerrilla leader.

Makhnovism refers to various related political and economic theories elaborated by Ukrainian anarchist revolutionary leader Nestor Makhno, and by other theorists (Peter Arshinov etc.) who claim to be continuing Makhno’s work. During Makhno’s lifetime Makhnovism was anarchistic, and opposed the state and political parties, as well as bureaucracy, favouring highly decentralized communes run by peasants and workers. Makhnovism builds upon and elaborates the ideas of Peter Kropotkin, and serves as the philosophical basis for anarchist communism.

In early 1918, the new Bolshevik government in Russia signed the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk making peace with the Central Powers, but ceding large amounts of territory to them, including Ukraine. Partisan units were formed that waged guerrilla war against the Germans and Austrians. Nestor Makhno was one of the main organizers of these partisan groups, who united into the Revolutionary Insurrectionary Army of Ukraine (RPAU), also called the Black Army (because they fought under the anarchist black flag) and “Makhnovists” or “Makhnovshchina”. The RPAU also battled against the Whites, the Reds and anti-semiticpogromists. In areas where the RPAU drove out opposing armies, there were villagers (and workers) who sought to abolish capitalism and the state through organizing themselves into village assemblies, communes and councils. Land and factories were expropriated and workers’ self-management implemented. The economy the Makhnovists in Ukraine implemented was based on free exchange between rural and urban communities.

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INSURRECTION. The Bloody Events of 3 to 7 May 1937. Hunger and Violence in Revolutionary Barcelona by Agustín Guillamón — Summary. (Balance, April 2017)

Agustín Guillamón INSURECCIÓN Las sangrientas jornadas del 3 al 7 de mayo de 1937. Hambre y violencia en la Barcelona revolucionaria /INSURRECTION. The Bloody Events of 3 to 7 May 1937. Hunger and Violence in Revolutionary Barcelona (Ediciones Descontrol, Barcelona 2017, 512 pages, 15 euro)

INSURECCIÓN offers a brand new account of the Events of May 1937, one that is highly original and substantially different from that offered by academic historians thus far. Its main feature is that it is built on rigorous archival research and on interviews carried out with some of the protagonists. It is not a book of books, which is to say, the usual rehash made up of clippings and facts lifted from other books which commercial publishers habitually offer us, but a full and sometimes startling and comprehensive account of what occurred during the bloody period between 3 and 7 May, told from the vantage point of the rebels involved and on the basis of rigorous and incontrovertible documentary evidence.
It contains many previously unknown elements that will. no doubt, be re-hashed and inevitably misconstrued in the plagiaristic cut-and-paste world of academia.

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THE SIX by Rudolf Rocker (Translated from the German by Ray E. Chase) — eBook £1.50 (see eBookshelf)

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German anarchist Rudolf Rocker’s (1873-1958) little-known novel, Die Sechs (1938: The Six) is a philosophical allegory about a great and mysterious black marble Sphinx that stands in a desert. Six roads from widely separated lands converge on the desert sands; along these roads travel six well-known characters from world literature: Faust, Don Juan, Hamlet, Don Quixote, Medardus the Monk (from E.T.A. Hoffmann), and the bard Heinrich von Ofterdingen. The character of each is described individually (in the words of their creators) before meeting at the end to solve the ancient riddle of the Sphinx.

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THE COMMON PEOPLE 1746-1946 by G.D.H. Cole and Raymond Postgate — eBook £1.50 (see eBookshelf)

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First published in 1938 and updated and rewritten in 1946, G D H Cole and Raymond Postgate’s ‘The Common People. 1746-1946’ is a classic study of British working class history from the defeat of the Jacobite cause at Culloden in 1746 through to the end of WWII in 1946. Its 714 pages provide a comprehensive overview of British working class life from a libertarian socialist perspective from the end of the Jacobite rebellion to 1946: eighteenth century social and political movements; the Industrial Revolution and the French War; the post-Napoleonic Peace (including Peterloo and the rise of the trade union movement); England under the Reform Act; working class life during the so-called ‘Great Victorian Age’; Imperialism and Socialism; everyday life in the run-up to the First World War; the First World War itself; the inter-war period; Britain in 1939; the Second World War; plus a list of recommended books and a useful chronology of important dates

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