Archive of History Educationals from the 1990's


On this page you'll find links to texts of talks given to WSM meetings dealing primarily with revolutionary periods in France, Russia, Spain and Ireland, but also more general histories, as well as accounts of some important anarchist figures of the past.

Please bear in mind that all opinions are those of the respective authors.

The Paris Commune
The commune was formally installed in the Hotel de Ville two days later in the glorious spring sunshine of Tuesday, 28 March. The national Guard battalions assembled, the names of the newly elected members were read out , as, wearing red, they lined up on the steps of the Hotel de Ville under a canopy surmounted by a bust to the republic. On high the red flag was flying as it had done ever since 18 March and guns saluted the proclamation of the Paris Commune...A talk by Aileen O'Carroll, October 1993.

In Spanish: La Comuna de Paris
Traducido por: Miguel Gómez Jr.

Anarchism and the French Revolution
We can examine the French revolution as a prototype of how revolutions occur and progress. Kropotkin defined it as the "mother of us all ". The ideas and methods of the French Revolution still have relevance to us today
 Talk given by Aileen, January 1994.

The Russian Revolution
The Russian revolution has been a subject of key importance to anarchists for two reasons. The first reason is that for the first time in history a working class revolution succeeded in ousting the old ruling classes. The second reason is that after the old ruling class was ousted a new class came to power. Those of us who want to make a revolution to-day must understand where the successes and failures of the past came from.
 Talk given by Andrew Flood to the WSM public meeting in Dublin, 1991

The Cheka during the Russian revolution
Was the Cheka integral to Lenin's doctrine or did it arrive by chance?
 notes for a talk given to the Dublin branch, March 11th 1992 by Aileen O'Carroll

The Russian Revolution: Four October Myths
Here I am going to look at four myths, widly accepted by the left and right alike on the October revolution and its aftermath. - Talk given by Andrew Flood, October 1997.

Factory committees in the Russian Revolution
The factory committees appeared in Petrograd and Moscow around February/March of 1917, and quickly spread. Elected directly by the workers in each enterprise, they appear initially to have formed in a response to theatened closures, and to press for the 8-hour day, though the scope of their demands would son extend.
 A talk given by Ray Cunningham, 1995.

Leninism and the failure of the Russian revolution
The Russian revolutions of 1917 demonstrate that a revolution is possible but they also warn against authoritarian methods of introducing socialism.
 Talk by Andrew Flood at the July 10th 1993 WSM day school in Dublin.

The Limerick Soviet of 1919
The strike that was to become the Limerick Soviet was precipitated by the shooting dead of Robert Byrne a republican and Trade Unionist.
 Talk given by Aileen O'Carroll in 1994.

El Soviet de Limerick de 1919
La huelga que iba a precipitar la formación del Soviet de Limerick fue convocada por la muerte de Robert Byrne un republicano y Trade Unionista.
 Talk given by Aileen O'Carroll 1994, Traducido por: Miguel Gómez

The Revolution in Spain
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.
 Talk given by Kevin Doyle, February 1999.

Mujeres Libres: Free Women of Spain
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.
 A talk given by Aileen O'Carroll, July 1995.

Modern revolutions or is revolution still possible?
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.
 Talk given by Andrew to a WSM meeting in 1996.

Greece: War and Civil War
This talk is based around the Solidarity pamphlet 'The Greek Tragedy', subtitled 'the failure of the left' published in 1968 as a response to the coup in Greece the previous year. It states the left put up little resistance to the coup and places the reason for this in the lack of a tradition of self-activity in the working class. In particular the response of the Spanish workers to Franco's coup of 1936 is contrasted with what happened in Greece.
 Talk given by Andrew Flood, circa 1994.

The development of capitalism in Japan
In 1869 feudalism was abolished and the clans surrendered their fiefs to the government. All classes were declared equal before the law and barriers on local movement and internal trade removed. Individuals were allowed acquire land and all the professions and trades were thrown open.
 Talk given by Andrew Flood, 1993.

The Life and Times of Malatesta
For nearly sixty years, Malatesta was active in the anarchist movement as an agitator and as a propagandist. He was one of the movements most respected members as well as remaining to the end one of its most controversial. He was active in many parts of the world, as well as the editor of a number of Italian anarchist journals including the daily Umanita Nova (1920-22)
 Talk given by Andrew B to a WSM meeting, November 1994.

Emma Goldman
What initially drew Goldman to anarchism was the outcry that followed the Haymarket Square tragedy in 1886 in Chicago. Emma Goldman had followed the event intensely and on the day of the hanging she decided to become a revolutionary.
 A talk by Kathleen, circa 1993.

Loyalist Myths: King Billy Revisited
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.
 A talk by Gregor Kerr at WSM Open Meeting 7/7/97

Review of 'The Many Headed Hydra' by Peter Linebaugh and Marcus Rediker
The book is about the circulation of revolutionary ideas around the Atlantic. The authors don't set out to prove their thesis of circulation and improvement of revolutionary ideas systematically with tables of figures and statistics. Instead the book is a series of case studies, interesting in themselves, but each showing common features.
 Talk given by krossie

More talks from the WSM