The extent of the democracy in Spain during the revolution was far more thorough going than anything ever achieved anywhere else in the world at any time in know history. This might seem like a grand claim but I challenge anyone to disprove it. As many of you will know there is a great deal written on the Spanish Civil War. Not just standard history and accounts of the war and its wider political impact, but personal memoirs, poems, journalistic diaries and novels. In Homage To Catalonia, George Orwell has written one of the better accounts of what it was like to be in Spain at the time. In terms of atmosphere and drama he goes a considerable way towards giving the reader some idea of the mood in Spain in 36. Orwell hints at the revolution that was taking place, and at the atmosphere of comradeship and solidarity that abounded in revolutionary Barcelona.
ALEXANDER BERKMAN was born in Russia in 1870. It was a time of revolutionary upheaval, and Berkman was influenced by his uncle Maxim, later exiled to Siberia for his revolutionary activity. Joining a group of students who read the literature of the Nihilists and other prohibited organisations, Berkman was eventually expelled from school. Finding most professions barred to him, he emigrated to America. On his arrival in 1888, he quickly became involved in the anarchist movement, but, although in some ways strong, it was a divided movement.The United States at the time was opening its gates to many thousands of new arrivals, many of them from Europe. These people tended to live in the same communities as others from their country, and work in the same places. Shops, bars, and newspapers would cater for each community, usually in their native language. In Europe, the anarchist and revolutionary socialist movements were relatively strong. There was no parallel in North America, and the trade union movement was still finding its feet.
Paris has had its fair share of famous people die in it. Most of them have ended up in the Pere La Chaise cemetery and Oscar Wilde is one of them. Of all the people buried there, that was the one grave I had to see when I entered that cemetery on a brisk March morning. I admire him because he was the master of that Irish pastime of extracting the Michael.
INSIDE MODERN MEXICO the name of Ricardo Flores Magon is well known, and is regarded in a somewhat similar way to that of James Connolly in Ireland. But outside Mexico few have heard of him. Born to a poor family in 1873, he became a journalist on the opposition paper 'El Demócrata' after finishing school. In 1900, along with his brother Jesús, he founded "Regeneración', a radical paper opposed to the dictatorship of Porfirio Diaz.
It could be argued that modern Irish socialism began with the establishment in 1872 of branches of the International Working Men's Association (or First International). However, these branches (in Dublin, Cork, Belfast and Cootehill) were short-lived because of the intense opposition that they encountered and their demise was followed by a complete absence of socialist organisation until 1885.
Here I am going to look at four myths, widly accepted by the left and right alike on the October revolution and its aftermath. In 1922 Emma Goldman complained Soviet Russia, had become "the modern socialist Lourdes, to which the blind and the lame, the deaf and the dumb were flocking for miraculous cures". And like most religious events that claim a historical valadity many of the myths of the October revolution rather then being historical accounts are written instead to create a blind faith in the leadership of the party.
The Orange Parades on and around the twelfth of July have long been a bone of serious contention and indeed a source of sectarian conflict in the Six Counties. Members of the Orange Order demand their unalienable right to march the Queen's highway, in commemoration of the victory of King William of Orange at the battle of the Boyne - a victory (as the Orangemen see it) for religious and civil liberty.
It was originally my intention to give a history lesson on the modern revolutions, with the aim of extracting what they had in common. Actually this is too big of a project, these events can not be dealt with adequately on their own in the space of 20 minutes, lump them together and you would lose everything.
What are these modern revolutions? Well in the 80's it became popular on a large part of the left to proclaim the death of the working class. Not so much from the obviously flawed position of saying nobody worked anymore, or even that modern society was no longer based around the division between wage labour and capital. No rather on the basis that the working class no longer existed as a class, ie a group of people with common interests.
The women who founded Mujeres Libres were all active within the anarchist movement, in the CNT or in the FIJL, however as women they were in a minority and found it difficult to incorporate more women into the activist core, either because of the sexism of the men, or because of the reluctance of the women or a combination of both.
The first problem facing the strikers was how to feed Limericks 38,000 inhabitants. The committee sat in session all of Monday organising food distrubution. The committee was divided into two sections, one to recieve food and one to deliver it. Hundreds of special permits were issued allowing shops to open.