Anarchist history roundup July 2019 part 2

Out Now: 81 Years of Anarchy

My Eighty-One Years of Anarchy: A Memoir by May Picqueray has just been co-published by AK Press and the KSL. Translated by Paul Sharkey, introduction and notes by the Kate Sharpley Library. ISBN 9781849353229 Review:

Past Tense

Our friends at Past Tense have a new pamphlet out about the Diggers (the 1649 lot) for £2

Books: From Freedom

Our masters are helpless: the essays of George Barrett edited by Iain McKay contains this gem: ‘Our greatest efforts achieve but little, for we are creatures of the age in which we live, and those whom we would educate have learned their lesson in a wider school than we can give. All the effort that is spent in giving children a wider knowledge of the universe and a richer love of life is well spent and must lead to revolt and progress; but all that is spent in teaching dogmas, however true they may appear to us, is ill spent and must turn to reaction.’ (‘The education of the rebel’, March 1913 p110) (£7.50, 140 pages)

Books: Syndicalist history

The Great Labour Unrest: rank-and-file movements and political change in the Durham coalfield by Lewis Mates shows how rank-and-file movements of socialists and revolutionary syndicalists including a small but active grouping of anarchists challenged the leadership of the Durham Miners’ Association.

‘Highly recommended’ – Dave Douglass. Hardback (at paperback price, only £19.95) available from AK Press

Anarchist lives: David Nicoll

March 2019 saw the 100th anniversary of David Nicoll’s death. Our tribute is at:

Anarchist lives: Manuel Fornés Marin

“Gathered for Special Training: Football and Politicisation in Franco’s Prisons” is a fascinating piece about football and political prisoners from Jessica Thorne.

Anarchist lives: We were five by Boris Yelensky

A moving piece from 1968 by Boris Yelensky that tracks the lives of four of his youthful friends. Some would fall victims to Fascism, others would disappear. Some kept the faith and passed it on.

Anarchist lives: Arendarenko’s odyssey

‘In 1937–1938 the last anarchists in the USSR were physically eliminated by Stalin’s terror. One exception was the Ukrainian anarchist Ignaty Vasilevich Arendarenko (1898–after 1953). A native of Poltava, he joined the anarchist movement in 1919, taking part in the Poltava branch of the Nabat Anarchist Confederation and the Makhnovist movement. From 1926 to 1936 Arendarenko was either in prison or serving terms of exile. Possessed of excellent survival skills, when he had the opportunity in 1936 he began to live illegally, spending the next few years in Ukraine. Dodging first Stalin’s agents, then the Nazis, he was finally swept up in a raid in 1944 and sent to Austria as a “guest” worker. After the war he lived in Western Europe, contributing articles to the Russian-American journal Dielo Truda-Probuzhdenie (DTP). In 1952 he emigrated to Mexico. In the following article written for DTP, Arendarenko honours the memory of the fellow anarchists (and others) he met in the Soviet justice system.’

The article, What I Saw and Experienced by Ignaty Vasilevich Arendarenko (1898–after 1953) can be read at Big thanks to Malcolm Archibald from Black Cat Press for translation and editing.

Class and Memory

It’s good sometimes to read something that’s not anarchist history. I’m impressed by what the Bristol Radical History Group do (and how they do it). In ‘The last piece of the jigsaw’ Roger Ball gives an update on recovering and commemorating the names of the ‘forgotten paupers’ of the Eastville Workhouse. It’s a long story, going from BHRG members ‘poring over old maps’, to speaking to people who witnessed the digging up of the burial site (so that the workhouse site could be developed): ‘We used to dig around in the rubbish and I found a broken mug with the crest of the Bristol Guardians of the Poor’. There were times of discouragement, but the Eastville Workhouse Memorial Group eventually found where the bodies had been reburied – again unmarked – in 1972, and who had made that decision. The article ends with photos of the ‘Biblical weather’ at the unveiling of the memorial in Avonview Cemetery. See

Also on the subject of commemoration, ‘The Edward Colston “corrective” plaque: Sanitising an uncomfortable history’ talks about attempts to tell the whole story of slave trader Edward Colston (1636-1721) have been opposed by his defenders. ‘It was almost as if the plaque had become “un-corrective”; it was telling the same old story. The hidden history of religious and political bigotry had vanished, as had defending and propagating the slave trade. Colston was back again on his pedestal as the “great philanthropist”, the “lover of humanity” and of “the poor”, who was giving to us grateful Bristolians even today. It was almost as if the money had fallen from heaven as a gift from God, rather than being made off the back of selling human beings, the labour of maritime workers and money lending.’

Who lives and who dies can be a political question. Who gets remembered and how is too!

[Part one is at]