“Certain years acquire an almost numinous quality in collective memory—1789, 1861, 1914. One of the more recent additions to the list is 1968. Its fiftieth anniversary has brought a flood of attempts to recapture it—local, national, and transnational histories, anthologies, memoirs, even performance art and musical theater.” Review essay on several books.
Category Archives: anarchism
A documentary film-testimony of struggles for autonomy in Greece, letting those who are directly engaged in these struggles speak for themselves.
“After three months of demonstrations, blockades, and street fighting, the Ortega government has succeeded in clearing the roads and driving many dissidents and rebels out of the country, but not at suppressing the revolt entirely.”
“A review of Loren Goldner’s Revolution, Defeat, and Theoretical Underdevelopment: Russia, Turkey, Spain, Bolivia (2017), a book by a libertarian Marxist sympathetic to anarchism who analyses four revolutions in the 20th century and discusses their lessons.”
“Transnationalism was thus a key feature of the anarchist movement, which significantly contributed to its sustainability. In times of repression, Italian anarchism abroad provided continuity to the movement that had been beheaded in the homeland, and its press abroad took up the task of carrying on propaganda in the Italian language. However, transnationalism was not just an emergency mode of operation in exceptional times. Rather, it was a built-in characteristic of the movement, closely related to the nature of anarchist tactics. Italian anarchists were fully aware of the role of transnationalism and intentionally relied on it”
“France seemed on the precipice of revolution; a festival of people was glimpsed. Alienation was cast off, momentarily; freedom was real; capitalised time abandoned. Without trains, cars, Metro and work, leisure time was reclaimed, time lived. Students and workers seized the contingent situation, acted spontaneously, created new situations, realising something what no trade union or party could ever do, or wanted to do. And yet, as quickly as things erupted, they were almost as speedily repressed, by state and bourgeoisie, soon backed by the Communists and the CGT. The optimistic promise, the beach beneath the paving stones, had dissipated, for now. The music was over. There was no other side to break on through to.”
“The prickly problem of a New England secessionist utopia“
‘The Red Brigades who took Moro hostage sought to prevent a reformist solution to Italy’s institutional impasse. Their actions, or at least the anticommunist blowback it produced, did help block the PCI’s path toward power. But while they thought that this would radicalize the Italian political landscape, they were sorely mistaken. The violence of these years ultimately expressed the decline of the extra-parliamentary left. … Moro’s death was the swansong of the postwar “First Republic,” marking the failed reform of the Christian Democratic order. This brought not renewal, but protracted decline and fragmentation. The debris continues to litter the present, in an Italian political system devoid not just of credibility, but of hope.’
“Our solidarity with the national liberation movements was immense. … What we largely ignored, however, was the suppression proceeding from the liberators themselves, once they had seized power.”
“1968 was the definitive proof, if such proof were still needed, that the Communist Party had no interest in seizing power through revolution. But it also demonstrated that in this, the PCF was the perfect image of the class it represented, and vice versa. Cornelius Castoriadis … wrote in an essay published during the events:
In France in May ’68 the industrial proletariat was not the revolutionary vanguard of society, but rather its ponderous rear guard. If the student movement attacked the heavens, what stuck society to earth… was the attitude of the proletariat, its passivity in regard to its leadership and the regime, its inertia, its indifference to everything that was not an economic demand.”