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 ...so 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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