Newcastle Lyon Sonvillier Dresden Berlin Petersburg Chita Moscow Helsinki Amsterdam Newcastle

In progress.

Friday, 30 July 2010

Lyons ( or Lyon as the French insist on calling it )

Third city of France; not much evidence of the old poor textile workers' town.

I'm really rather pleased with this, my first attempt at drawing over photocopied text.
Here the text is from Bakunin's 'God and the State', which he wrote in some disillusion after helping people in Lyons stage an insurrection in 1870. When everyone else ran away, Bakunin got locked up in the basement of this very building, the Hotel de Ville. Luckily the anarchists came back and rescued him ( and the Commune in Paris took place the next year ).

Unlike in Paris & London, this feels like a real, powerfully real location for the first time, and has got me reading his words again with a sense of power.

From my notepad.


Marian looking as cool as is possible in plastic specs, waiting for me to draw the column.

I saw a cafe terminus by Gare de Lyons, but I don't imagine it was the same as the one Emile Henry ( or was it Vaillant? ) attacked. We walked around the Latin Quarter, but couldn't really connect it to '68 etc...

I don't know where exactly Bakunin met Proudhon or Proudhon met Marx, and the events of the commune and so on are quite dispersed. No really symbolic location leapt out at me.

So I drew a not terribly impressive picture of the Vendome Column which Courbet and pals pulled down. It's back up, sadly, and just as hideous, and made worse by the super-posh (really, as posh as posh gets, positively evil) boutiques surrounding it. With hindsight we should have found a current, existing social centre or anarchist venue.

This is Marian leaving at Gare Bercy for Milan.

And from the next morning of me leaving - from a shittily noisy hostel at Gare de Lyon.

Thursday, 29 July 2010

Some photos in London

Antonis told us that this toothpaste was made by a friend of his who, when he was younger, was very much inspired by Kropotkin.

Plaques in Angel Alley for the 3 bearded wonders I'll be following.

The Kropotkin section in Freedom Bookshop - & elsewhere I was very pleasantly surprised to see a stack of my old bothy zines.

Outside Angel Alley, a man was reading Kropotkin's Mutual Aid. I thought that was a very neat start to my journey.

To get home, Laura used my old rail ticket that I had cunningly cleaned so you couldn't tell it had already been used.

Off to Paris

I'm leaving the country in a couple of hours, first to Paris where my main chosen sight to see, unless I visit where the 1890s bombs were chucked, will be the Vendome Column.

The Vendome Column - 44 metres high - is comprised of a stone core, encased in the bronze of 1250 cannons captured at the Battle of Austerliz (1805). It was designed by Denon, Gondouin, and Lepère and modeled in the style of Trajan's Column in Rome. It was constructed during 1806 - 1810.

Originally a statue of Napoléon a Caesar was placed on top. This was replaced by a likeness of Henri IV which was removed during the 100 Day (1815) when Napoléon returned from Elba and attempted to regain power. Afterwards Louis XVIII installed an enormous fleur-de-lys, but Louis-Philippe restored Napoléon in military uniform.

During the Commune in 1871, a group of Communards lead by Gustave Courbet the artist, tore down the column. Rather than pay for its re-erection, as he was ordered, Courbet died (1877) in exile in Switzerland. During 1873 - 1874, the column was reestablished at the center of Place Vendôme with a copy of the original statue on top.

Courbet was a devoted fan of Proudhon, and I liked reading his reasons for why he wanted to pull it down.

Monday, 26 July 2010

London, day 1

In London, last night we stayed with two ex-Newcastle friends.
Pictures will follow of the toothpaste made by a guy who loved reading Kropotkin when he was young, and of the man on the train reading Gerard Winstanley, the man in the cafe reading Mutual Aid, and the books in Freedom Bookshop by Peter Kropotkin. I was also surprised to see a little stack of my bothy zines in there too.

This picture will, when completed, make it into the zine I will make of the travels. For now though, I need to find a bed for the night.

Saturday, 24 July 2010

books books books

I am carrying SO many books.
Almost all my weight is books.

It's 3 in the morning before I go to London, and I haven't got through the books I meant to just get notes from and then leave behind. So I'm carrying even MORE down, with the hope of leaving them in London once I'm done with them. But before that, here are some I am at least leaving behind, with much regret. I didn't even get Kropotkin's classics out of my book-built shelving unit, but at least they're online. It's the more obscure or new stuff I want to finish my notes for, but I won't... And two of the biggest, most-filled-with-sticky-notes are from the library ...

A couple of Swiss things

"Freedom to travel was one of the many new relaxations enjoyed by Russian citizens under Alexander II, and one result of thsi was the establishment of student colonies in foreign towns, including Heidelberg and Zurich. Soon spies of the Third Section (Russian secret police) were reporting back that these places had been turned into cesspits of Nihilism. The area around ZXurich Polytechnic became heavily infested with young Russians whose loud voices and carefree gesticulations - not to mention their extreme Socialist views and reputation for promiscuity - shocked the staid burghers of that ancient Swiss City."

from Ronald Hingley's 'Nihilists'

Bakunin: "In Switzerland, in spite of all the democratic revolutions that have taken place there, it is still always the class in comfortable circumstances, the bourgeoisie, that is to say, the class privileged by wealth, leisure, and education, which governs. The sovereignty of the people - a word which, anyway, we detest because in our eyes, all sovereignty is detestable - the government of the people by themselves is likewise a fiction. The people is sovereign in law, not in fact, for necessarily absorbed by their daily labour, which leave them no leisure, and if not completely ignorant, at least very inferior in education to the bourgeoisie, they are forced to place in the hands of the latter their supposed sovereignty. The sole advantage which they get out of it in Switzerland, as in the United States, is that ambitiuos minorities, the political class, cannot arrive at power otherwise than by paying court to the people, flattering their fleeting passions, which may sometimes be bad, and most often deceiving them.
It is true that the most imperfect republic is a thousand times better than the most enlightened monarchy, for at least in the republic there are moments when, though always exploited, the people are not oppressed, while in monarchies they are never anything else."

Also criticised "the parts of Switzerland where the Marxiam programme prevails, at Geneva, Zurich, Basel ... the International has descended to the point of being no longer anything more than a sort of electoral box for the profit of the Radical bougeois."
As opposed to hte programme of the International which states "The emancipation of the toilers can be the work only of the toilers themselves."

From K.J.Kenafick's edited Bakunin, 'Marxism Freedom & the State'

Kropotkin: "The egalitarian relations which I found in the Jura mountains; the independence of thought and expression which I saw developing in the workers and their unlimited devotion to the cause appealed strongly to my feelings; and when I came away from the mountains, after a week's stay with the watchmakers, my views upon socialism were settled; I was an anarchist."

1898, Luigi Luccheni kills Austria's Empress Elizabeth, in Geneva.

A few Paris sights

The Movement of the Free Spirit begain in 1200 among Paris intellectuals gathered around William Aurifex as a rebellion against the church. Openly contemptuous of monks (wearing a patched red cowl as a parody of a habit), they disrupted church services by engaging priests in debate. The central group was swiftly executed for heresy, but the movement spread to virtually every part of Europe.

Sans culottes flocked into the Champ de Mars in July 1791 to sign or set their mark on a petition calling for the King's abdication - they were violently dispersed by sabres and bullets.
[pic to insert here]
In spring 1793, after 4 years of civil war and rocketing food prices, they rose up and toppled the Government, coining the term 'anarchist' as they did so:
"We are the poor Sans-culottes, an association of artisans and peasants. We know who our friends are: those who have delivered us from the clergy, nobility, the feudal systems, tithes, the monarchy and all the ills which follow in its train, those whom the aristocrats have called the 'anarchists'."

Their example of mass direct action endured.

From Clifford Harper's 'Anarchy: A Graphic guide'

1848 revolution
"a struggle of class against class, a sort of Servile war" Tocqueville
"the first great battle ... between the two classes that split modern society" Marx

1871 was the first genuinely workers' revolution - first time urban workers created their own self-government.

From George Rude's Ideology and Popular Protest

After the Commune was destroyed, Louis Michel said at her trial:
"You are now the victors, but I tell you, in the end the social revolution will be stronger than you. I demand that you lawfully murder me as you have lawfully murdered others. The lead that pierced their breasts I want to pierce my breast also. If you are not cowards, kill me. Should you decided not to do it then I will preach hatred against your laws and your society as long as my life lasts. I cry out for revenge against the murderers and executioners of the commune."

From the terrorist period of the 1890s:

At the May Day demonstrations in Paris in 1891, nine people were killed at Fourmies, and at Clichy there was a riot in which 3 wounded anarchists were taken to Clichy police station wehre they were seriously assaulted by the police, and not even given facilities for bathing their wounds. At trial, presided over by M.Benoit, two were sentenced to 5 and 3 years imprisonment. All the talk was then of revenge.

On 11 March, Ravachol & 2 companions, he carrying two kilograms of dynamite, sharp pieces of metal and two revolvers in his pockets, wearing a top hat and tailcoat so as not to attract attention, took a tram to the hosue in the Boulevard Saint Germain where M.Benoit lived. Ravachol left his 2 companions to go up the steps, and bombed the place. He committed various other crimes also.

Later, at Montbrison prison, Ravachol spend the last 3 weeks of his life in peaceful serenity. He became a folk hero to many, not so much for his violent escapades (though revenge was a powerful urge for many), as for the courage and defiance with which he met his fate. On his way to the guillotine, he sang 'Pere Duchene'

Si tu veux etre heureux
nom de dieu!
Pends ton proprietaire,
Coup' les cures en deux
nom de dieu!
Foutes les eglis' par terre.
Et l'bon dieu dans la merde
nom de dieu!
Et l'bon dieu dans la merde.

which translates:

If you want to be hapy
By God!
String up your landlord
Cur the sky-pilots in two
By God!
Knock down the churches
God's blood!
And fling the Good God on hte dungheap
By God!
And the Good God on the dungheap.

Popular songs commemorated Ravachol, two of which translate as:

My lads, it's very sad,
The moral of this story.
Here it is, in a few words.
It's that when one's an anarchist
One mustn't boast of one's daring deeds
To young cafe waiters.


In the great city of Paris
There are some well-fed bourgeois
There are some starvelings too
With empty bellies
And these are very hungry
Long live the sound!
Long live the sound!
Of the explosion!

9th december 1893, Auguste Vaillant threw a bomb in the Palais Bourbon, the seat of the French parliament, while the Chamber of Deputies was in session.
Vaillant's execution took place in the square in front of La Roquette prison, on the morning of 6th February 1894. With barriers up, drizzle pouring, Vaillant declined to see a chaplain, saying "Religion is a useless and grotesque thing." He hummed an anarchist song and then said "The bourgeoisie whom I attempted to destroy is revenging itself. It is its right. The people who suffer will revenge itself in its turn." He walked to the scaffold with his head held high, and shouted out "Death to the bourgeoisie and long live anarchism!" before the guillotine.
At the graveyard, flowers were left. One mourning card read:

"As they have sprinkled the earth
At the hour of the rising sun
With the august and life-giving dew,
The sacred drops of your blood,
Beneath the leaves of this palm
Which outraged Right bestows on you,
You can sleep your calm slumber
O martyr ... you will be avenged."

12 February 1894, Emile Henry's bomb exploded at the Hotel Terminus, aimed at its bourgeois clientele.
His father had been a member of the Internationale, and as an officer of the National Guard during the siege of Paris, he was elected to the Commune to represent the 10th arrondissement on 26th March 1871. At first he pursued negotiation, but when this failed, he supported the Commune in order to save the Republic, whose very existence was menaced by the Versaillese troops. When they invaded Paris, he escaped the massacres to Spain (San Martin near Barcelona), where Emile was born. In poverty, the family settled at 3 Rue de Jouy in Paris, the father dying in 1882.
His brother was held in Clairvaux prison for propaganda of the deed.
Emile Henry's execution took place on 21 may 1894 in the Place de la Roquette (he'd been held in the Grande Roquette prison. Barriers for the small crowd, hundreds of soldiers and various newspaper men - a grand occasion!
His last words were "Courage, comrades! Long live anarchism!"

The assassination of the French President which followed in Lyons saw the perpetrator Caserio, once he checked his tears, repeat the same words after the sentence of execution was given. He was kept in the St.Paul prison, arms tied at night lest he commit suicide, and he read Don Quixote. Louis Michel, the veteran of the Paris Commune, wrote that "The blow struck at Carnot was a blow at the bourgeoisie of the whole world. It was not an assassination. It was an execution. Ravachol, Henry and Vaillant are avenged." Caserio's final words were 'Vive l'anarchie!'

From 'Four patients of Dr.Deibler', a fantastic book, by J.C.Longoni.

A few more notes on Lyons:

Its silk-weavers had a far longer tradition of militancy than craftsmen in Paris. The 18th century saw many violent conflicts between employers and employees. In 1786 they had fought for a minimum wage, and for the first time identified themselves as a 'class' exploited by their masters. Thus class consciousness first appeared here in time for the revolution of 1789. The workers lived in densely packed suburbs like La Croux Rousse and Parrache.
In November 1831 the weavers rose in rebellion, chanting the slogan 'Vivre en travaillant ou mourir en combattant' (Live working or die fighting), overpowered the local garrison and took control of the city. Lacking organisation, they accepted a compromise and returned to their districts. They then organised in the Society of Mutual Duty and prepared for a general strike - Mutuellism was therefore banned by the Paris Government and its members arrested. This then led to further uprisings, spreading to Paris etc...

Blanqui was the first to use the term 'proletarire' in 1832.

From George Rude's 'Ideology and Popular Protest'.

The final word here from Jean Genet, who wrote it on the wall in Paris in 1968:
"C'est triste a dire, mais je ne pense que l'on puisse vaincre sans les drapeaux rouges et noires. Mais ils faut detrure - apres."
= Unfortunately I don't think we can win without the red and black flags. But they must be destroyed - afterwards.

A few London sights

Not knowing if Kropotkin's old house still stands, or any of the original anarchist clubs, there are at least these locations in London:

Trafalgar Square and Hyde Park for free speech fights - literally a fight on days like November 13 1887, Bloody Sunday when many South London workers were injured by police batons blocking their approach over the bridges. Other processions were blocked by police, but one North London contingent did make it to Trafalgar Square, to be attacked and wounded by police. One young worker, Alfred Linnel, was beaten to death. A great procession followed his coffin to the grave, with William Morris giving the funeral oration. A vast crowd stood bareheaded as Morris read the Death Chant:

"They will not learn; they have no ears to harken,
They turn their faces from the eye of fate,
Their gay-lit halls shut out the skies that darken,
But lo! this dead man knocking at the gate."

The refrain was often repeated in the years that followed:

"Not one, not one, nor thousands must they slay,
But one and all if they would dusk the day."

And fight went on, and for a period the Square was won for free speech.

In Hyde Park, a mass meeting for 23 July 1866 was met with posters declaring the park closed from 5pm. The police refused entry to the park and the majority of the mass Reform League demo followed its leaders to Trafalgar Square, where after a few speeches the crowd went home.

But meanwhile, back at the park, tens of thousands had remained, massed at two places. At Bayswater road a throng hurled themselves at the massive iron rails, which were thrown down; at the same time, workers in Park Lane tore down the park railings and the two sections joined forces to fight the police.
The Foot guards were sent in, and the workers sought to fraternise, halting the troops near the gates. Then the horse guards trotted in, again the workers cheered, the cavalry trotted off again and the police were attacked again. More foot and cavalry guards were then sent in with orders to shoot if necessary. Many were wounded, but on that day it was the workers who won. As a Reform League paper reported:

"The people have triumphed, in so far as they have vindicated their right to speak, resolve and exhort in Hyde park. True, the gates were closed against them, and lo! in twentyh minutes after the Park all around was one vast, gaping gate. The ordinary gates were the only closed part of the fencing."

From Tom Brown's 'British Syndicalism; Pages of labour History', which also lists newcastle's Bigg market as our local area for free speech.

Kings Cross, where 'the Alarm' was printed for a while, by a small group who pooled their money to make it happen. They hired a premises behind a shop in Ossulston St, Euston Rd, which was then taken over by the 'freedom group'.

Charlotte Wilson left the Freedom paper when its editor put his own slant and censorship over the contents, but workers in the group got together and kept the paper going with John Turner as publisher.
The income from pamphlets, aided by Kropotkin's reputation, kept 'Freedom' going for years.

The London Freedom group hired a room at 144 High Holborn, from the Emily Davison Dining Club, and carried on meetings there for several years. They also held oepn-air meetings in Hyde Park.

From George Cores' 'Personal recollections of the anarchist past'

Anchoring Myself

I'm leaving 4 little talismans in the keeping of friends to keep me safe. Here are 3 of them.

Anarchy in the USSR: ed.Phil Ruff

I've been upset by a lot of the research reading I've done for my trip. Beginning with the liberal ideals and heroism of 1848, gunned down. To the amazing courage of those who despite failure, despite having lost, despite knowing the same would happen to them, still rose up and strove again and again. From the horrors of Baron von Ungern-Sternberg in Dauria and Mongolia, to the unfathomable scale of the death-camps under Stalin.

It's fascinating the courage of people who, during an age when just making a joke about Stalin would see you sent to the gulag and die, your family condemning you in order to save themselves, would nonetheless declare themselves loyal to the flag of anarchism and its uncompromising ideal.

But in a way, I found the more recent stories of anarchism in Russia the most upsetting of all. The notes which follow come from a book published in 1991, and it features optimistic voices from within the USSR, hoping for a new dawn of soldarity and freedom that reality just wasn't going to bear out.

Instead of a grassroots anarchist rebirth, post-perestroika Russia was taken over by nationalism and capitalism, and the anarchists in Russia are under ongoing and lethal attack by the fascists who so outnumber them.

p5 On 28 May, 1989, 20,000 people marched through Moscow, demonstrating against the Congress of People's Deputies. The Guardian's Jonathan Steele noticed amongst the banners, "a black flag with a red star carried by the recently formed Anarcho-Syndicalist Club. The slogan read: 'No confidence in the Supreme Soviet - form a left-wing faction.'"
This was the first open display of anarchists in the Soviet capital since 13 February, 1921, when a crowd of the same size joined the funeral cortege of Peter Kropotkin. Then came Kronstadt, the rout of Makhno and the outlawing of open anarchist organisation. Trotsky boasted: "At last the Soviet government, with an iron broom, has rid Russia of anarchism".

p41 In 1921, Lenin wrote: 'All this syndicalist nonsense must go in the wastepaper basket. To proceed on those lines would mean thrusting the Party aside and making the dictatorship of the Proletariat impossible.' And he was right. Anarchism will thrust the Party and all parties aside, for anarcho-syndicalism empowers people with the means to seize control of their own lives.
(Black Flag no.200)

p78 Golos Truda's publishing house and bookshops in Leningrad and Moscow, finally closed down in June 1929. Its final work was called 'the Bolshevik Dictatorship and the Anarchist Viewpoint'. An underground anarchist press was uncovered by the OGPU in Cheliabinsk in 1930.

p76 Moscow metro station [and volcano and towns] named after Kropotkin, statue of him with cat near the never-reopened Kropotkin museum, and even a Kropotkin rouble was minted! Despite Lenin's admiration, and the offer for deluxe state editions of his Mutual Aid and the Great French Revolution (which Kropotkin politely declined), his political works were banned until Glasnost, and were circulated only in illicit samizdat versions. His scientific-geographical works, however, always were admired.

p8 1950, underground student group formed in Moscow, avowedly Marxist but with the slogan 'Soviets, not Party'. Its manifesto opposed all political parties, and advocated government based in trade unions & worker & peasant soviets.
'Predictably, its members were all arrested and shipped-of to the Gulag.'

p15 First Congress of the Confederation of Anarcho-Syndicalists (KAS), Moscow 1 May 1989
[Met 2 kilometers from the official state parade, knowing they were watched by the KGB.]
"Alexei told how he had been listening to the BBC's Russian language service when they quoted from the anarchist paper Obschina. He then realised he was not alone, "and now I am at this Congress." He had also taken part in a strike over dangerous working conditions. He was fired and now alone. ...
The Congress agreed on a minimal programme and decided that their principle motto would be 'all power to the people, not the party', the slogan of the Kronstadt workers and sailors during the uprising of 1921."
[outlined a federalist model of organisation, and changed the symbol from the red star on a black flag to the red and black banner of the international anarcho-syndicalist movement.]
(reported in Black Flag no.197)

p27 In November 1989, KAS adopted a pacifist stance, seeing 'political terrorism' as leading to the strengthening of totalitarian structures and thus as counter-productive.

p19 "Our motto remains the words of Bakunin: 'Freedom without socialism is privilege and injustice, socialism without freedom is slavery and brutality'." Andrei Isaev

p23 Obschina no.43
"We do not want to impose our views on you, even less to call upon you to sacrifice your lives for them on the barricades. We can see perfectly well that time has killed the old, stubborn, terrorist, war anarchism. Anarchism is dead ... so long live anarchism, the great ideal of liberty, mutual respect and solidarity among people!"

p55 Moscow Union of Anarchists, declaration of principles, February 1991
"Replacement of the 'barracks' type of army and of the State-employed police forces by full access to arms for all the people, on a voluntary basis and with professional branches in the 'scientific' sectors of the army (chemical weapons, anti-missile technology...).
Freedom and self-determination for all peoples and nations."
p56 "Free movement of people within the country, as well as in and out of it (the enslaving system in which registration of the dwelling place, passports and identity cards are compulsory, is abolished)."

p41 1990 May Day in Moscow saw the red and black flags of anarchy being paraded through the streets of Moscow bearing the slogans 'Power to the people, not the parties' and 'Tell us, Communists when is your state going to whither away?'. And in May Day demonstrations from Leningrad to Kharkov, Kaluga to Angarsk in Siberia, the anarchists marched.

p58 SMOT Council of representatives, Moscow February 1991
"When you are a worker, you have nothing to do in everyday life with Yeltsin, Landsbergis or Gorbachev, but rather with the cashier at work who pays you little, and with the cashier at the shop who takes a lot from you, and even peeps in your passport. We worry much more about changing those relationships, than about the relationships between Yeltsin, and Gorbachev and Landsbergis."

p9 In 1970, a BBC World Service programme about Soviet radio pirates made mention of one which described itself as anarchist.

p10 25th CPSU Congress in Feb 1976, leaflets appeared all over Leningrad declaring the Party compromised, its policies bankrupt, its methods Stalinist and its Congress a bluff. Anonymous authors called for pluralism and humane socialism, ending: "Long live the new revolution! Long live communism!"
2 weeks later, KGB arrested 17yr old Andrei Reznikov, sentenced to a strict regime camp but due to his youth was transferred to Red Army after 2 months.
Reznikov a member of a Leningrad student circle called the Left Opposition. Another member, Alexis Khavine, arrested in 1977 for disseminating works by Kropotkin.
[Summer 1978, they published 3 issues of a magazine, including anarchsit Trotskyist and New Left ideas, eg. Marcuse & Cohn-Bendit, plus reprints of samizdat manifestos, articles about the Kronstadt rebellion etc..]
The Left Opposition planned a conference of leftist groups from across the USSR (Leningrad, Moscow, the Baltics, Ukraine, Byelorussia and the Caucasus) in Sept 1978. It was postponed, and those who did turn up were rounded up by the police. Then police raids, KGB questioning, arrests.
On 5 december, over 200 students staged a demonstration in Leningrad's Our Lady of Kazan Square, in protest at the arrests.
[Reznikov attacked in the street, those arrested sent to hard labour, internal exile, psychiatric hospital etcc. Some forced to emigrate to avoid that fate.]

p11 On 7 October, 1979, Vladimir Mikhailov, Alexei Stasevich and Alevtina Koncheva were arrested in Leningrad, for painting slogans and fly-posting leaflets, which demanded 'democracy not demagogy' and 'down with state capitalism!' The leaflets advocated an 'anti-authoritarian order' and opposed the 'evils' of the family, private property and the state.
[found guilty of 'hooliganism', VM & AS 3 years in a strict regime camp, AK 1year 3months. All were members of the Movement of Revolutionary Communards, about which little is known.]

p12 Formation of SMOT in 1979, the Free General Workers Union, continuing at least till 1982 = the first active advocate of independent working class organisation to appear in the USSR since the elimination of the anarcho-syndicalist organisations of the 1920s.

p5 The full story of the anarchist underground during the Stalin years has not been told (there were 'armed anarchist uprisings' in Siberia, in the late 1920s, of which nothing is known).

p8 The penal colonies of North Russia, Siberia and Central Asia were home to anarchists of every ilk and nation in the years 1946-54: 'religious anarchists' (Tolstoyans and Monashki), Ukrainian Makhnovists, anarcho-syndicalists, Poles, Russians, Latvians.
They participated in a wave of strikes and uprisings (sometimes armed), triggered off in the camps in 1953, by news of Stalin's death and the execution of Beria.
[Spanish CNT members took part in Karaganda insurrection, Kazakhstan]
The most bitter revolts took place in the coal-mining camps at Norilsk and Vorkuta, in the summers of 1953/54, where the banner of the strikers was the black flag.

p76 The Monashki was a libertarian Christian sect started by former Communists in Moscow & Leningrad at the end of the 1930s. It espoused a strict doctrine of civil disobedience to the state, and advocated a stateless, classless society, founded on the gospel of 'from each according to their ability, to all according to their needs', with the commune providing the basic unit of society. The movement seems to have been quite widespread among the peasants of Siberia and Central Asia. Inside the camps, its members distinguished themeslves by their determined refusal (backed up by countless hunger strikes) of any work by which the state might profit. There were some 8000 Monashki in the camps of Vorkuta in 1953.

p9 1973 report by ex-prisoner that she encountered anarchists in all the camps through which she passed. In one, a group of anarchist prisoners included young students and elderly women who had been in detention since before the Stalin era.
Another inmate, from 1957-1965, met anarchists "They had read books by Kropotkin and sometimes by Bakunin (whose works are very hard to find in libraries inside the USSR); they were even conversant with the ideas of Proudhon and with contemporary Western thought".

p38 Sitnikov, anarchist and striking worker from Siberia, murdered by KGB.
p74 Aaron Baron first exiled to Siberia by the Tsar's regime. Escaped to the USA and edited teh anarchist newspaper the Alarm (still in Chicago) until returning to Russia in 1917. One of the organisers of the Nabat (Alarm) Confederation of Anarchist Organisations in Ukraine, in 1918; joined Makhno's army; arrested November 1920, two years in Orel prison, then the notorious Solovetsky islands until 5 Jan 1925. Arrested in Moscow soon after his release and exiled to Altai, Siberia. his wife, Fanny Avrutska, was summarily executed (with the anarchist poet Lev Cherny) by the Cheka in Sept 1921.

p24 1990 On 3 April in Tomsk (Siberia), a new KAS paper Golos Truda (The Voice of Labour) came out.

p6 A lot of the old political prisoners [incl left SR leader Maria Spiridovna] were killed by the NKVD in 1941, during the evacuation of territory threatened by the Nazi invasion: to stop them falling into the hands of the Germans (who would have hanged them!).
p75 At the start of WW2 Orel isolation prison for political offenders held 5000 prisoners. When the Germans were about to take Orel, the prisoners were herded into the basement, which was then flooded. All 5000 died.

p6 By 1942, Germans occupied Ukraine, Byelorussia & reached Leningrad & outskirts of Moscow: amongst the partisan groups who resisted, there were some who professed an allegiance to anarchism and the memory of Makhno.

p8 Amongst occupying troops at end of war, a secret organisation called Zavietti Kronstadta (the Kronstadt accords) alleged to be active in the Red Army in East Germany and Austria, including "former Makhnovists or veterans of Kronstadt".

(echo of 1848 national liberation hopes)
p52 Open Letter handed out in Moscow, 13 January 1991
"We support the Lithuanian people's determination in their struggle for independence. We hope the government of our country, the Soviet Union, will fail in its attempt to bring Lithuania back into the USSR.
No to the Empire! Yes to a voluntary union of free nations! Long live your freedom and our freedom!
Signed by supporters of the leftist movement 'Self-management by the People'"
[ short list of names, including 3 KAS members]

p7 In 1944-5, the nationalist Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA) noted in its war despatches, frequent encounters with "the Ukrainian anarchist partisans". Assuming these were the same people who later appeared as prisoners, in the camps at Karaganda and Vorkuta, they included some old members of Makhno's army; the younger ones having become anarchists under the spell of Makhno's legend.

p7 Nabat youth organisation set up by V.I.Us. [not the same as the earlier Nabat]
A school headmaster who had been badly wounded and captured by the Germans in 1941, Us escaped to his former village and recruited his former pupils as guerrillas. In November 1943, Nabat launched an armed uprising, seized the village and created a bridgehead on the West bank of the Dnieper, which it held until reinforced by a Corp of the Second Ukrainian Front. Nabat was highly commended by the political division of the Fourth Guards Army. After Soviet forces regained control of Ukraine, Us was arrested and sentenced to twenty years, for "voluntarily surrendering and creating a nationalist organisation".
[Set free 4 years later, he and Nabat were finally rehabilitated after Stalin's death.]

p33 Piotr Petrovich Siouda, 53 year old activist of the KAS, was killed in secret on 5 May, 1990. He had been investigating the repression carried out by the KGB in the town of Novocherkassk [in 1962] for the KAS paper Volya, and making the details widely known through the communist press too.
He was one of the survivors of the insurrectionary strike wave of the '60s, in which the workers were shot down in town after town.
"The ethnic unrest and the fascist groups that sprang up in the seventies were a deliberately introduced counter-balance to workers struggles - an exactly parallel situation with the capitalist world."

p35 A few days before he was killed, he told a local reporter that he had come into possession of a secret KGB document whcih gave the order to fire upon the crowd of rioters in Novocherkassk in 1962, constituting 'irrefutable proof' of the KGB's guilt.
Born Rostov-on-Don, founder member of the KAS.

p78 Solzhenitsyn reports on the Novocherkassk massacre that the wounded all disappeared without trace. Their families, and those of the dead, were all deported to Siberia, along with many of the workers. "A whole town rebels - and every trace is licked clean and hidden."

p39 Never mentioned in the official press, workers uprisings in the 1960s in Alexandrovsk, Murom, Nizhni-Tagil, Temirtau, Odessa, Dneprodzerzhinsk, Lubny, Kuybyshev, Kemerovo, Kirvoy-Rog, Grozny, Donetsk, Yaroslavl etc... over housing and wages.
In Alexandrovsk, summer 1961, a worker beaten to death by the militia. Factory workers struck and went to the Commisariat with banners demanding the prosecution of the murderers. After they had stormed the building and set it on fire, they went to the prison where the soldiers refused to fire on the crowd. Special troops were then sent in and the massacre began. [over 100 killed]
The director of the factory who had supported the strike, the doctor who had exhumed the corpse of the first worker killed and attested to the means of his death, the painter who made the banners, were secretly judged and shot.

Monday, 19 July 2010

Locations in George Woodcock's History of Anarchism

British Museum
1876 after the famous escape from the military hospital (note not the PeterPaul fortress) via finland etc.. Kropotkin reached England, then back to Switzerland & conferences in Belgium & Ghent. "But he fled precipitately, under the impression that the Belgian police intended to arrest him, and returned to England, where for a time he contented himself with studying in the British Museum. It was now that he began to develop a conception of anarchism as a moral philosophy rather than as a mere programme of scoial change." p163

1864 French delegates - Proudhonists and Eugene varlin, at international conference at St Martins hall, 28 Sept. p199
1886+ In London, Kropotkin "became the great prophetic savant of the movement, to be asked for advice and articles, to be welcomed when he made a rare appearance at a public meeting or at a reunion in one of the revolutionary clubs which then dotted Soho and Whitechapel." p174
"The real birthplaces of modern British anarchism were the clubs for foreign workers which appeared in Soho as early as the 1840s, and somewhat later in the East End of London. The Rose Street Club in Soho, the Autonomie Club in Windmill Street, and later (after 1885) the International Club in Berners Street, Whitechapel, were the most favoured centres of the anarchist faction among the expatriates." p371
1885+ Jewish anarchism in London, "the various socialist points of view that were so volubly discussed week after week in the Berners Street International Club in Whitechapel. In 1891, owing largely to the expulsion of the anarchists by the Second International, the Berners Street Club was riven by political dissension, out of which the anarchists emerged triumphant, in possession of both the club and Der Arbeiter Fraint." [yiddish journal, to which Rudolf Rocker was famously linked after his arrival in 1895] p376

1968 black flag of anarchism along with red of, basically, Marxism, over the Sorbonne p271

Hotel de Ville
- 1848 "At last Lyons seemed to be in the power of Bakunin and his followers, and they settled down with some embarrassment to decide what they should do with the city.
Before they could reach any decision, the National Guard from the bourgeois quarters converged on the Hotel de Ville, drove the crowd from its vicinity, and recaptured the building. The Committee fled, with the exception of Bakunin, who was imprisoned in the cellars of the Hotel de Ville, and eventually rescued by the local anarchists. He escaped to Marseille, where he spent three weeks hiding ... until a friendly Italian ship's captain smuggled him to Genoa." p147
After Lyons trial, Kropotkin "sent to the prison of Clairvaux in the old Abbey of St Bernard, where they were given the privileged treatment of political prisoners... He conducted classes among his fellow prisoners in languages, cosmography, physics, and geometry; he experimented with intensive cultivation in the prison garden; he wrote articles on Russia" etc.. p172

Locations to find in French-speaking Switzerland & just over the French border.
1867 Lausanne conference, mutualist followers of Proudhon outnumbered by collectivists (Bakuninists) p200
1871 Sonvillier, site of anarchist conference that drafted & circulated the influential "Sonvillier declaration" putting forward the libertarian case against the centralising faction of Marx in the International. p148
Kropotkin in the idea-formation part of his life travelled to Zurich with its several hundred Russian exiles, the radicals amongst whom were split between Bakunin's and the populist Lavrov's camps of influence. Then to Geneva to try out the Marxists, who irked him, where he met the Bakuninist Zhukovsky, who directed him to the Jura.
"The first man he met in the Jura was James Guillaume, working in his little printing shop in Neuchatel; from there he went on to Sonvillier, where he sought out Schwitzgeubel, and made the acquaintance of the mountain watchmakers, talking with them in their little family workshops and attending the meetings in the villages where the peasant craftsmen came tramping down from the hills to discuss the anarchist doctrine that seemed to offer them a chance of establishing social justice while retaining their treasured independence." p161
1878 Kropotkin having founded the La Revolte paper, he spent "a great deal of his time in lecture tours in an effort to reactivate the International in the small towns around Lake Leman and in the Jura." p164
1881 after London International Anarchist Congress, Kropotkin "expelled from Switzerland because of pressure exerted by the Russian ambassador, and settled in the little French town of Thonon on the southern shore of Lake Leman." p165
Lake Leman = another name for Lake Geneva.
"In France itself it was in the south-eastern region, nearest to Switzerland and therefore most open to the influence of the Jura Federation and the Communard exiles, that anarchist activity first began to appear after the months of repression that followed the Commune. The earliest organizations were small secret groups which towards the end of 1872 began to re-establish connections with the Bakuninists over the frontier, to hold secret meetings in Lyons and Saint-Etienne, and to import literature from Geneva." p240
1881 beginning of French anarchist bombs phase: "The first widely publicized act of violence during this period was an attmempt to blow up a statue of Thiers at Saint-Germain in June 1881", possibly by police prefect & agent-provocateur Serreaux. p248

1917 Kropotkin, (like Lenin) arrived at the Finland Station "where he was welcomed by Kerensky, a regiment of Guards, and military bands playing the 'Marseillaies'. Absent were the Russian anarchists, most of whom opposed the war." p180 (he had supported the Allied states' war against Germany and thus became isolated from the main anarchist movement).

1921 5 mile long procession at Kropotkin's funeral through the streets of Moscow remember, not St.Petersburg. p182

Mount Kropotkin

There's a 7 second clip of Kropotkin on youtube.

& John Beard just found Mt Kropotkin for me, not too far from Lake Baikal but, according to a website:

"With its cone-like shape the Kropotkin is one of the most beautiful peaks in the East-Sayan Mountains. Since the volcano valley lies in a very isolated region it can only be reached by means of an expedition."

The description continues, and has everything from mysteriously dead exiles to local superstitious dread:

"The best starting point for a hike to Volcano Valley are the springs of Choito Gol. The trail itself starts behind the last cabin and steeply leads uphill to the tree limit for 3 km. After crossing the Arshan stream it leads to the pass wherefrom it starts running downhill again. When you reach the first longish lake keep on going along the shore in a northward direction and you will soon see the Volcano Valley. Some minutes later, you will leave the main trail and you will come across a cabin where you can spend the night and which is also quite useful as base camp for those who want to climb the volcanoes.

Whereas it is not very difficult to climb the volcanoes, it is difficult to walk across the fields of lava because large cracks and crevices are running through them.

Kropotkin Kropotkin

"Mt Kropotkin was named after the first Russian geologist who explored the region. He became aware of the distinct features of the volcano chain through drawings from the second half of the 19th century by the English painter Atkinson. More detailed notes only exist from the Russian geographer Peretolchin. He was banned by the Tsar and used the time of this exile to thoroughly explore the region. From one of this trips he did not come back and it was not until two years later that his wive found him, laying dead and without any visible injuries on the brink of the volcano crater that was named after him a few years later.

The Buryats shun the area because they say that it is the home of evil spirits. It looks indeed a bit unreal, due to the missing vegetation and the vast fields of lava."

Sunday, 18 July 2010

A building per city.

I intend to do at least one sketch of a building/location that features in the stories of Kropotkin, Bakunin & co, for each of the following cities. As I read up on the episodes they got involved with, I hope a building will leap out and a google search will reveal it still exists. Until then, this is a very hesitant list, which will help focus me on the journey.

Newcastle, the Cowen Monument (his links to Kropotkin, & of Newcastle to Russia, will kick me off)
London (1. Freedom Bookshop, Kropotin's house?, exiles' meeting place?)
Paris (Commune? Pere Lachaise graveyard, exiles' meeting place? location of bombings?)
Lyon (1.Hotel de Ville. Also is the prison still there?)
Geneva (location of a meeting, eg. of the International?)
Chaux le Fonds (location linked to the Jura Federation?)
Dresden (Church [rebuilt several times] from which Wagner kept his look-outs during the 1848 insurrection)
Berlin (1848 streetfights? University? Exiles' meeting place?)
St Petersburg (1. St.Peter-Paul fortress 2.Kronstadt 3. location of K's escape? 4. spot of Tsar's assassination 5. Nevsky Prospekt for gatherings/massacres ...6. Site of K's funeral procession)
Ulan Ude
Moscow (Kropotkin Museum [his old house] Bakunin's house/estate)


I had intended to travel light. This post will demonstrate how that intention is crumbling to bits.

These are the novels I currently plan to take with me. (I will be a dostoyevsky EXPERT when I return.) But they're way too heavy, and I'm also taking a similar amount of weight in sketchpads & photocopied sheets from various historical & anarchist books.
The one good thing about the novels is they're all expendable - as I read war & peace, for example, I'll rip out the chapters I've read to lose weight. But i won't get round to reading them till I'm in Russia, so that's still a week of carrying a LOT of ballast around...

Absolute friendly essentials (the things that I bond with through intimate constant use).
(a) My trusty 35litre backpack. (b) Light coat. (c) Cheap fake converse which will probably stink by the time I make the trans-siberian. Sorry carriage-mates.

As instructed to bring for the conservation project on Lake Baikal.

Their list No.1 is what they say is essential (compulsory)

(yes, but they say it should be minimum 60 litres, and mine is defiantly 35)
(b) Sleeping pad (to buy)

They explain why: "A sleeping pad is an indispensable item in Siberia. Because of nearby permafrost, even during the hottest time of the year the surface layers of soil around Baikal do not warm up sufficiently. If you sleep without a sleeping pad on bare soil, you will not only get a cold but also risk getting hypothermia, which has severe health consequences."
(c) Sleeping bag (ok, I had meant to leave it, but I will bring it - it is still nowhere near as suitable as the one they recommend, for the extreme night-time drops in temperature you get in Siberia. I might buy an extra blanket in Siberia to compensate.)
(d) Footwear - at least two pairs of shoes, such as hiking boots and sneakers (buy boots in Siberia? No, or I'll get blisters, I guess I do need to buy & carry a pair, grumble...)
(e) Personal set of light, sturdy dishware - cup, bowl, spoon, knife (was gonna buy in Siberia but actually I'll need for the train, so I'll try get a light handy travel-set)
Toiletries - toothbrush, toothpaste, soap, towel (yep)
(g) Waterproof jacket or coat (light cagoule from amble [see 'beach zine'], gonna leave waterproof trousers behind this time)
(h) Warm sweater, pants, hat (my anarchist uniform of black hoody, leftover black troosers bought for school, and a hat I'll get in Siberia)
(i) Personal first aid kit (yep, got - a happy reminder that I do at least know the outdoors)
(j) Sunscreen (get in Siberia or 'forget' as I usually do)
(k) Wide-brimmed sun hat (to buy)
(l) Sunglasses (somewhere I've got some prescription ones to dig out)
(m) Mosquito net for head (to buy)

Their list no.2 is optional, & I ain't gonna bring hardly any of it:

(a) Work gloves
(b) Safety glasses (nope)

(c) Tent - if you are over 6 feet tall or want to sleep alone (nope, although both those things are true)
Flashlight (well, I'll take a mini headtorch)
Multifunctional pocket knife (I intend to buy one en route in Switzerland as a souvenir and, not flying, I hope to actually keep this one - I've lost 2 good knives at airports on previous trips)
Sewing kit (yes, cos I need to fix my backpack for starters!)
Biodegradable soap (good idea, but is it worth carrying for 2000 miles?)
They say: "Biodegradable soap and shampoo are not available in Siberia, unfortunately, and we don't usually have them on our projects. Therefore, if it's possible to buy such soap in your home country, definitely do so. By bringing it to the camp you will help preserve pristine waters of Baikal!"
(h) Rubber boots (er, nope)
(i) Insect repellant (nope)

"The group first aid kit includes mosquito and tick repellent sprays that can be applied to clothes ONLY. If you prefer repellents that can be sprayed directly on the skin, you should bring them yourself. "
(j) Water filter (nope)
"It is said that the water of Lake Baikal and its tributaries is among the cleanest in the world. It is definitely suitable for drinking. All that aside, you should be aware that bacteria in Baikal water may be different from the ones your body is used to. First, each person has his own internal microflora and different immunities against foreign bacteria. Second, everyone's immunity depends on their daily living conditions and their environment, which can differ from one continent to another. Local Siberians can easily drink untreated water from open bodies of water. However, our experiences from the previous summer camps show that participants from North America and Australia tend to have the most intense reaction to untreated Siberian water. Most Europeans, on the other hand, drink the water straight from the rivers and streams without experiencing any problems. If you want to drink untreated water, we recommend bringing a water filter to the camp. However, it is not necessary to filter water if you will be boiling it for tea, coffee or soup." I'll risk it.
(k) Swimsuit (shorts, yep)

My other sundries list - entertainment, documentation, hygiene
(a) mp3 player (to buy, along with two-plug charger).
(b) Digital camera (again, plug adapter to find & buy). I might photograph some book pages to avoid carrying the photocopies too.
(c) Lots of pens.
(d) Passport & tickets & suchlike pouch.
(e) Wetwipes (& shoe unstinkifiers?).
(f) Travelwash to wash clothes.
(g) Universal plug for train sink (to buy/borrow).
(h) Food (this is gonna be the second most constant concern, getting enough veggie stuff before each journey. Happily the camp has food provided so I should get my health back then if I've been surviving on processed carbohydrates for a fortnight. The exiles used to get scurvy in Siberia, hopefully I won't.)
(i) Clothes (5 sets of pants & socks enough? same number of (t)shirts? 2 trousers?)

So will I physically be able to carry all this stuff? I don't know, but I REALLY don't want to get a huge backpack. I might prefer a second hold-all/bag to stick food & other temporaries in.

I intend to update the blog/pick up info at certain key moments, and likewise post back any finished sketchpads/letters/finished-with info. So I need to plan which post offices/internet cafes I am gonna use.
(a) Switzerland or Germany before the 2 day journey into eastern europe.
(b) St Petersburg before the trans siberian
(c) Ulan Ude or similar before & after the conservation camp.
(d) probably St Petersburg again on the way out, but if my plans change, this could be Beijing or anything.

Monday, 12 July 2010

Tickets bought, loan out, time ticking.

I know it's childish, but look at this wikipedia entry from 'Russian explorers' and tell me Kropotkin is not a cool dude.

I couldn't find where the settlement in Irkutsk Oblast is (but I'll be IN the Irkutsk Oblast... ), nor where the inactive volcano is in Buryatia (but I'll be IN Buryatia... ).

I've got some set dates and times for trains.

25th July leave Newcastle 8.35am
27th July leave London 5.25am
(Some time in Paris, then onto Lyon then thru Switzerland to Dresden then Berlin).
4th August leave Berlin 3.22pm
6th August arrive St.Petersburg 6.13am
Some time in St.Petersburg.
9th August leave St.Petersburg 4.13pm
10th August arrive Kazan 1.55pm, then back on a train 7.55pm
11th August arrive Yekaterinburg (bit of an accident, this stop, I think I made a mistake buying tickets!)
Some time in Yekaterinburg.
Very late 12th August (actually 1.31am 13th August) leave on the posh Rossija train.
15th August arrive Ulan Ude 1.32pm
Hopefully head to Chita and back (but I may be too sick of trains & need a break).
18th August, meet at the famous Lenin's head.
Nowt else booked, nor likely to be, after this date.