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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DURRUTI WRITING FROM PRISON (1933) by Agustín Guillamón (Translated by Paul Sharkey)

Durruti, Ascaso and ‘Combina’ were arrested on Sunday 2 April 1933 as they left the Andalusia-Extremadura Regional Congress. The grounds offered for this action by the police were as follows: they were “to answer for the criminal notions they had voiced at the closing rally”[1], which is to say, a thought crime and this was a breach of the most fundamental freedom of personal expression.

On Sunday 9 April in Barcelona, the leading lights of Estat Català (EC) and Esquerra Republicana de Catalunya (ERC), assembled to pay tribute to the fascist Josep Dencàs who at the time was their Health Minister, believed that the arrests in Seville had decapitated the FAI and that said organisation could now be regarded as a dead duck. This was wishful thinking, the sort of thing regularly encountered among those running the bourgeois apparatus of repression when they seek to boil complex, deep-seated social and political issues to specific or run-of-the-mill “terrorist” and public order issues embodied by a few leaders or scapegoats. Josep Dencàs had, with the Badía brothers, been one of the main founders and sponsors of the pro-(Catalan)independence fascist escamots of the JEREC (Juventudes de Esquerra Republicana-Estat Català — Esquerra Republicana-Estat Català Youth)

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MICHAEL BAKUNIN and KARL MARX By Kenneth Joseph Kenafick eBook £1.50 (see eBookshelf)

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Based primarily on the works of Bakunin himself, and particularly on the French edition of his writings by James Guillaume, his ‘intimate friend and collaborator. Covering considerably more ground than his title implies this is an invigorating introduction to the life, ideas and philosophy of Bakunin and his relationship with Marx and Marxist ideas, as well as those of Hegel, Fichte, and Comte. An anarchist activist himself, Kenafick argues that Bakunin and Marx had much in common and offers a significant counter to E. H. Carr’s ‘psychohistory’ interpretation of the man. He explores the relationship between Bakunin, Marx and Proudhon; the 1848 Revolution and its aftermath; the League for Peace and Freedom, and the First International; the Basle Congress and its aftermath; the relationship with Nechaev; The Franco-German War and the ‘Knouto-Germanic Alliance’; The Paris Commune; Mazzini; Working Class organisation; Bakunin, Marx and Lenin; Bakunin and Anarchism; Bakunin’s last years; Bakunin’s philosophy and the Marxian dialectic; Bakunin, Comte and Marx.

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ANARCHY by Élisée Reclus

The following text was originally a talk presented in Brussels on June 18, 1894 to the members of “The Philanthropic Friends,” Masonic lodge (“Les Amis Philanthropes”, Lodge No. 5 of the Grand Orient of Belgium*). It was published as “L’Anarchie” in Les Temps nouveaux 18 (May 25-June 1, 1895).

Jacques Élisée Reclus (15 March 1830 – 4 July 1905)

Anarchy is far from being a new theory. The word itself, in its accepted meaning of “the absence of government” and “a society without leaders,” is of ancient origin and was used long before the time of Proudhon.1 Besides, what difference do words make? There were “acratists” before there were anarchists, but the acratists were not given their name — a learned construction — until many generations had passed. In all ages there have been free men, those contemptuous of the law, men living without any master and in accordance with the primordial law of their own existence and their own thought. Even in the earliest ages we find everywhere tribes made up of men managing their own affairs as they wish, without any externally imposed law, having no rule of behaviour other than “their own volition and free will,” as Rabelais expresses it, 2 and impelled by their desire to found a “profound faith” like those “gallant knights” and “charming ladies” who gathered together in the Abbey of Thélème.

But if anarchy is as old as humanity, those who represent it nevertheless bring something new to the world. They have a keen awareness of the goal to be attained, and from all corners of the earth they join together to pursue their ideal of the eradication of every form of government. The dream of worldwide freedom is no longer a purely philosophical or literary utopia, as it was for the creators of the Cities of the Sun and the New Jerusalems.3 It has become a practical goal that is actively pursued by masses of people united in their resolute quest for the birth of a society in which there are no more masters, no more official custodians of public morals, no more jailers, torturers and executioners, no more rich or poor. Instead there will be only brothers who have their share of daily bread, who have equal rights, and who coexist in peace and heartfelt unity that comes not out of obedience to law, which is always accompanied by dreadful threats, but rather from mutual respect for the interest of all, and from the scientific study of natural laws.

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Pierre-Joseph PROUDHON His revolutionary life, mind and works by Edward S. Hyams eBook £1.50 (see eBookshelf)

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PROUDHON WAS BORN in the same year, 1809, as Charles Darwin, at about the moment when the reaction against the French Revolution, led by the old imperial monarchies and the British aristocratic oligarchy, began to triumph. That triumph was short-lived but at the time it was clear to only a very few men that Europe was facing a century of revolution.

It was in the half-century following Proudhon’s birth that a number of men of talent and two men of genius, Proudhon and Karl Marx, sought to give form and practical applicability to the social, political and economic philosophy to become known as socialism. Thus Auguste Blanqui, who when not fighting the monarchy and the bourgeoisie, was in prison working out the principles of communist trade unionism and was the father of the French Socialist Party, was only four years Proudhon’s senior; Alexander Herzen, the great publicist of socialism in Russia, was born in 1812, as was Louis Blanc who developed revolutionary socialism out of the idealistic proto-socialism of Saint-Simon. Michael Bakunin, the Russian anarchist and Marx’s most troublesome enemy, was born in 1814; Marx in 1818 when his master, Hegel, was not yet fifty; and Engels in 1820. Lassalle, founder and master of the formidable German Workers’ Party, was born in 1825.

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