Menshevik (Mis?)interpretations of the Russian Revolution

Saturday 21 January 2017, 2.00 p.m.
Marx House, 37a Clerkenwell Green,
London EC1 Nearest tube: Farringdon

Speaker: Francis King
Editor of Socialist History, lecturer in modern European history at East Anglia, and translator of Fedor Dan’s memoir.

Across the Russian empire, the fall of Tsar Nicholas in March 1917 suddenly thrust revolutionaries and socialists into positions of power and influence. For many years before, they had worked, organised and planned for this revolution. Now the time had come to put their perspectives and programmes to the test. Working in soviets, state bodies and committees across Russia in the first six months of the revolution, the social-democrats (Mensheviks) tried to shape events in line with how they supposed the revolution must develop – towards ‘freedom’ and a parliamentary republic. Their failure allowed their rivals in the workers’ movement, the Bolsheviks, to take power in October 1917 in the name of the soviets and proclaim a socialist revolution. This talk looks at Menshevik attempts to make sense of realities which proved hard to square with theories. It marks the publication for the first time in English of Menshevik leader Fedor Dan’s memoir of the civil war period, Two Years of Wandering. The book recounts Dan’s experiences in civil war Russia, gives his observations on life and conditions, and attempts to make sense of what was going on at that time.

All welcome. Entry free, retiring collection.

“Killing Communists in Havana”

The Start of the Cold War in Latin America
by Steve Cushion

Socialist History Society Occasional Publication

The Cold War started early in Cuba, with anti-communist purges of the trade unions already under way by 1947. Corruption and government intervention succeeded in removing the left-wing leaders of many unions but, in those sectors where this approach failed, gunmen linked to the ruling party shot and killed a dozen leading trade union militants, including the General Secretary of the Cuban Sugar Workers’ Federation.

Based on material from the Cuban archives and confidential US State Department files, this SHS Occasional Publication examines the activities of the US government, the Mafia and the American Federation of Labor, as well as corrupt Cuban politicians and local gangsters, in this early episode of the Cold War.

This is a joint publication of the “Socialist History Society” and “Caribbean Labour Solidarity”

Buy a copy of “Killing Communists in Havana”
£4 including p&p [£5 outside UK]
Email s.cushion23@gmail.com
You will be able to pay by cheque or by PayPal

Steve Cushion is Secretary of Caribbean Labour Solidarity and author of
A HIDDEN HISTORY OF THE CUBAN REVOLUTION How the Working Class Shaped the Guerilla Victory” published by Monthly Review (2016)

Killing Communists in Havana – The Start of the Cold War in Latin America

Launch of a Socialist History Society Occasional Publication

Jesús Menéndez, General Secretary of the Cuban Sugar Workers’ Federation

Speaker: Steve Cushion
Author of A HIDDEN HISTORY OF THE CUBAN REVOLUTION
Socialist History Society Public Meeting
Saturday 26th November 2016 2.00pm
MARX MEMORIAL LIBRARY
37a Clerkenwell Green EC1R 0DU nearest tube Farringdon

The Cold War started early in Cuba, with anti-communist purges of the trade unions already under way by 1947. Corruption and government intervention succeeded in removing the left-wing leaders of many unions but, in those sectors where this approach failed, gunmen linked to the ruling party shot and killed a dozen leading trade union militants, including the General Secretary of the Cuban Sugar Workers’ Federation.
Based on material from the Cuban archives and confidential US State Department files, this SHS Occasional Publication will examine the activities of the US government, the Mafia and the American Federation of Labor, as well as corrupt Cuban politicians and local gangsters, in this early episode of the Cold War.

FREE TO ATTEND – ALL WELCOME

Goddesses, Empresses, Sphinxes: Matriarchy at the Crossroads to Patriarchy

Saturday 11th June 2016 2.00pm
MARX MEMORIAL LIBRARY
37a Clerkenwell Green EC1R 0DU nearest tube Farringdon
FREE TO ATTEND – ALL WELCOME
The Socialist History Society AGM will take place at 1pm in the same venue before the public meeting

In his recent book ‘Work, Sex and Power’ Professor Willie Thompson comments: ‘The history of civilisation is also the history of misogyny’. Greta Sykes will take up Willie Thompson’s thread from the age of Antiquity to explore current narratives about Mesopotamia, Egypt, Greece and Byzantium. How did early humans experience the male-female competition for power and social control? What is the role of sexuality in this struggle? What can mythologies add to our understanding of this process and how did early historians and poets, such as Ephorus of Cyme, Herodotus and Aeschylus inform the Classical World about life at the beginning of civilisation?

Speaker:
Greta Sykes is a child psychologist who is currently an Associate Researcher at UCL.
She is a poet (see Liveencounters.net March 2016) and her novel about the Weimar Republic ‘Under Charred Skies’ came out recently.

SYLVIA PANKHURST, THE EASTER RISING AND THE WOMAN’S DREADNOUGHT

In O’Connell Street and along Eden Quay the dust was still thick upon the ground, the air was heavy with burning, and dense clouds of smoke obscured the ruins. Even when the rain came, and after three days of it, they were still smouldering.
Woman’s Dreadnought, 13 May 1916

On Easter Monday 1916, a small group of committed Irish Republicans occupied buildings in central Dublin and declared their country’s independence from Britain. The tragic outcome of the Irish uprising was anxiously observed by members of the political left around the world.  The execution of James Connolly, ‘carried out on a stretcher and strapped in position to be shot’, commented the feminist and revolutionary socialist, Sylvia Pankhurst: ‘I remembered him as one who had lived laborious days in the service of human welfare; a man of pity and tenderness, driven to violent means, from belief that they alone would serve to win through to a better life for the people’, she wrote. Although ‘he had thrown in his lot with the Sinn Fein patriots, he remained an internationalist’ and was the man best fitted ‘to take a substantial share in developing Ireland’s part in the world-wide social changes which…are advancing to transform the face of human society’.
This publication from the Socialist History Society is a contribution to this still controversial event whose legacy remains much contested even today as we mark its 100th anniversary.

About the Author

John Newsinger, who is Professor of History, Bath Spa University, takes a particularly close interest in the history of the labour movement, the British Empire and Ireland. A prolific author, John’s publications include:  British Counterinsurgency: from Palestine to Northern Ireland (2002); Rebel City: Larkin, Connolly and the Dublin Labour Movement (2004); The Blood Never Dried: A People’s History of the British Empire (2006); Fighting Back – the American Working Class in the 1930s (2012); Jim Larkin and the Great Dublin Lockout of 1913 (2013); Them and Us: Fighting the Class War 1910-1939 (2015) and British Counterinsurgency (2nd revised edition, 2015). John is a member of the Socialist History Society.

Bradlaugh Contra Marx

Radicalism and Socialism in the First International
by Deborah Lavin

Socialist History Society, London 2011, 86 pages paperback, £4.

Apart from Charles Bradlaugh’s joint trial with Annie Besant for publishing a birth control pamphlet in 1877, Bradlaugh’s name has been lost to history. Yet in the 1860s through to the 1880s, he was head of the largest non-trade union radical-reformist organisation in the country.

Bradlaugh loathed socialism and argued that strikes were a useless attempt to buck the market, but as he was such a terrific speaker he attracted vast audiences of working people to his regular Sunday lectures cum harangues

Marx kept Bradlaugh and his organisation (the National Secular Society) , out of the International Working Men’s Association, but as Bradlaugh was allied to  practically every opponent Marx ever had on the General Council, Bradlaugh still made his presence felt.

Marx called Bradlaugh the “Pope of Atheism” and derided him as a cheap jack tub-thumper, yet the conflict between them was not personal, but political conflict. It came to head over the Commune of Paris in 1871 when in print and on the platform Bradlaugh endlessly and effectively attacked Marx and his IWMA backed pamphlet Civil War in France, where Marx defended the Commune and the Communards.

Marx’s international conflict with Miguel Bakunin has over-shadowed Marx’s domestic conflict with Charles Bradlaugh. This OS brings that conflict out of the shadows and reveals its importance not only to the history of the IWMA, but to the Socialist Revival, which followed, as after Bradlaugh’s death, many of Bradlaugh’s anti socialist. radical-reformist followers found a new home with the Fabians or even with the Independent Labour Party, and they took their radical reformist, anti socialism with them.