Friday, September 15, 2017

Review: The Occupation Of The Factories: Italy 1920

The Occupation Of The Factories: Italy 1920 by Paolo Spriano
My rating: 0 of 5 stars

This book is an interesting read by a Marxist-Leninist of the factory occupations which swept Italy in 1920 and a critique of a social movement's inability to seize the revolutionary moment. While mostly focusing on the Italian Socialist Party and the various strains inside, it includes the various factions in the state and industrialists for an overhead view of why things played out the way they did.

The thesis seems to be that the occupation movement failed because a lack of disciplined leadership in the PSI, the likely fact that it was a dialectical steam valve of the workers movement which would have been slaughtered in the streets (rather than in the defensive positions of the factories), and the idea that they could have gone for broke if they had national action (and were sold out by reformist leadership), but Turin and some of the anarchist strongholds were more advanced than the workers in the rest of the country.

I am actually a novice when it comes to Bordiga, Gramsci and others that was very interesting. That being said it seemed to slight the anarchists who had hundreds of thousands of participants and set the tone in Turin and other places for more confrontational action.

If anything, this book awakened in me a need to read more of this period from different viewpoints and with more of a focus on Gramsci, Luigi Fabbri, Malatesta, and Bordiga.

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Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Review: Ready for Revolution: The CNT Defense Committees in Barcelona, 1933-1938

Ready for Revolution: The CNT Defense Committees in Barcelona, 1933-1938 Ready for Revolution: The CNT Defense Committees in Barcelona, 1933-1938 by Agustín Guillamón
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

There are very few books which really dispel most historical interpretation of an event and movement as much as this book. The level of organization and commitment of basic rank and file militants and their fierce connection to the labor movement and their local community is vital to understand.

According to Garcia Oliver, "The Revolution does not exist to satisfy some aesthetic appetite but to resolve a series of social questions".

This book takes you into the heart of things, from a literal play by play of the worker victory over the army uprising in Barcelona, to meeting minutes of the FAI, defense committees, and plenums discussing questions which few anarchists in the US have even given much thought: should we "go for broke" and seize power from the state and other left wing organizations, should we form an alliance of convenience, what should the defensive structures look like, what kind of autonomy do they have vis a vis the unions, revolutionary ward committees and the necessity of revolutionary committees to coordinate struggle (vs ad hoc involvement), what is the role of "intelligence" and "control patrols" (police), prisons, and others.....

This is not a primer book on the Spanish revolution, but definitely gives one an idea of the lengths in which the anarchist movement needs to actually go in terms of preparedness, depth of organizational capacity, and in terms of needed theoretical advancement. A must read for anyone serious about revolution.

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Friday, July 21, 2017

Orcs..Orcs..Orcs... I beat Shadow of Mordor!

Finally, a game where I get to murder my way through Mordor with a side story about the time between The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings!  While not super dense in terms of story, the atmosphere of this game deserves definite praise.  The combat system borrows from the latest batman game with added gory finishing moves and its lots of sneaking, listening to orc banter, poisoning their beer supply, freeing prisoners, getting chased by monsters, and seeking out orc leadership to slay.

But what really shines about this game is the nemesis system.  Essentially you can play orcs off against each other to fuck with the orc boss hierarchy and get the orcs that are cowed by you into the higher chain of command.  You can have them challenge each other in duels and raids, raise your squeeky orc nobody into a body guard of an orc chieftain only to betray him.  And burn and destroy stuff until the hand of sauron begins to notice your existance.  The end is pretty epic, if a tiny bit anti-climactic... but gets me excited for the sequal which Im sure will be even better.

Every time you get defeated/killed, the random orc who kills you gets promoted to an orc leader and if its an orc captain who does it, they increase in power and renown. 
Its a tiny bit weird being a wraith, but if you think about it like you are kinda the good version of a ring wraith, its pretty cool. You get all sorts of wraith powers which turn you into a an elf/ninja hybrid of orc slaying.  The game is a bit simple, but the system it created has real possibility.

Saturday, July 8, 2017

"The Masque of Anarchy"

"‘What is Freedom?—ye can tell
That which slavery is, too well—
For its very name has grown
To an echo of your own.

‘’Tis to work and have such pay
As just keeps life from day to day
In your limbs, as in a cell
For the tyrants’ use to dwell,

‘So that ye for them are made
Loom, and plough, and sword, and spade,
With or without your own will bent
To their defence and nourishment.

‘’Tis to see your children weak
With their mothers pine and peak,
When the winter winds are bleak,—
They are dying whilst I speak.

‘’Tis to hunger for such diet
As the rich man in his riot
Casts to the fat dogs that lie
Surfeiting beneath his eye ;

‘’Tis to let the Ghost of Gold
Take from Toil a thousandfold
More than e’er its substance could
In the tyrannies of old.

‘Paper coin—that forgery
Of the title-deeds, which ye
Hold to something from the worth
Of the inheritance of Earth.

‘’Tis to be a slave in soul
And to hold no strong control
Over your own wills, but be
All that others make of ye.

‘And at length when ye complain
With a murmur weak and vain
’Tis to see the Tyrant’s crew
Ride over your wives and you—
Blood is on the grass like dew."

"The Masque of Anarchy" - Percy Shelley, English Romantic Poet, in the Aftermath of the Peterloo Massacre (1819), an army attack on 70,000 people protesting starvation caused by a callous tax on grain, horrendous working conditions, and a lack of universal suffrage.

Thursday, July 6, 2017


Wrote in the aftermath of July 4th:

Piercing lights, booms, cheers
a cacophony of flags and voices
dripping with national fervor
.. a fever
pitilous to foreign towns
ripped to shreds by ordinance
white phosphorous melting and caramelizing bodies
faces in a horrible rictus
and people clap
as the marching band plays on
lights and smoke
a show
a facade america
dripping with blood
as a people wink out of existence
like an extinguished firework
falling to the ground
all joy lost
as the world moves on to more explosions.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Despair I and II


Waking dreams of a future unfinished
potential unrealized
drowning in decay and cynicism
rabid and selfish
holding back the curtain of progress
what promises?
a past that haunts the living?
a world murdered by its children?
the beating heart ripped from its chest
unseeing eyes
And the repeated calling of the abyss welcoming you home...

Despair II

You ever try walking across a rainbow?
  --try doing it without feet.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Poetry and Anarchism

"knocked over by the storm
we die in the cages of hatred
the weak throw themselves
on those who are even weaker
and close our mouth with mocking filth

my voice is strangledand the hands of the enemies 
tear my thinking tongue apart.
Pursuers take the resounding present
and living world from me.
where will I feel the flow into airless silence.
I am starving in a decayed placeless mind
cut to pieces earthless.
forced into nothing
drains me
turned to ice
empties from the mouth
into world growing pain."
--Carl Einstein, German Anarchist and distant relation to Physicist Albert Einstein. Participant in the soldier and worker councils following the German defeat of WW1 and the Spartacist uprising (where he gave euology at Rosa Luxembourg's funeral). Wounded fighting in the Durruti Column with the CNT-FAI in Spain and later fled following the victory of the fascists. Trapped in southern France following Nazi Germany's defeat of the French Third Republic, Einstein took his own life by jumping from a bridge on 5 July 1940.