Newcastle Lyon Sonvillier Dresden Berlin Petersburg Chita Moscow Helsinki Amsterdam Newcastle

In progress.

Monday, 24 January 2011

Belarus Chapter Launch!

That title makes it sound very grand, doesn't it! Actually it's just the first 12 pages which I will print ready for the following low-key event.

Reading up on Belarus was getting me depressed, and the best antidote to that is to take action! If only a little social action. So my housemate & me are inviting you round for a bit of food and drink and whatever Belarussian music we can find. You'll also get a copy of the first bit of the zine, and you'll help me out by letting me share something of the situation for activists and idealists in Belarus.
I am also hopeful of doing something wonderful and creative in collaboration with the DIY film festival in Minsk in July.

Monday, 17 January 2011

Video here of the lawyer for various attacked, imprisoned & murdered antifascists, with translation below. He himself has also since been murdered. There were flowers for him, and the young woman killed with him, when I was in Moscow.

A good blog with updates on recent murders of journalists, arrests of teenagers and environmental protesters, here.

Sunday, 16 January 2011

Missed my first deadline, but fear not.

I find I'm doing more reading than page-making. Like a longer review of Shtirbul's Russian-language book on the Siberian anarchist uprising:

"From a strictly military viewpoint, the anarchist contribution to the fight against the Whites was indispensable. This fact may explain why the eradication of anarchism as planned by Moscow had some difficulty getting under way in Siberia as the local Bolsheviks looked upon the anarchists primarily as decent revolutionaries.

The grave political economic and social crisis by which Siberia was hit in 1920 as it emerged from the war against the Whites was to have an impact on the CP in Siberia. Shtirbul does not place enough stress on the leninist “diktat from on high”. However, the appointment of outside leaders to the region and the appointment of former tsarist officers to command of the army (Vol. 2, p. 68) fully endorse the Siberian libertarians’ analysis of Bolshevik manipulation and the crucial need for the workers themselves to retain control of the revolution. The example of the IV Army of peasant partisans led by Marmontov provides quite a good illustration of the sensibilities of “genuine” revolutionaries. When commander M. V. Kozyr proposed in late 1919-early 1920 to organise soviet authorities without communists, the CP leadership stood him down and appointed a Bolshevik to replace him. Immediately, a meeting of the garrison passed this resolution: “The soldiers’ revolutionary committees elected by us have no power … No one should dismiss our representatives and replace them with folk who do not know us. We will not countenance that!” (Vol. 2, p. 70). Kozyr himself had stated: “Appoint your best men everywhere, pick the ones who have earned your trust and who understand your needs. Protect them against all who threaten them, even should they do so without a word.” Other clashes pitted the partisans against the CP’s leadership. A report concerning the Altai region and dating from January 1920 noted: ” The peasants had been hoping for ‘regional authorities’. When they ran up against centralised soviet authorities, they were suddenly assailed by mistrust.”

Resistance to the amalgamation of partisan units into the Red Army was organised around commanders like Novoselov, Rogov, Lubkov and Plotnikov in the Altai, Tomsk and Semipalatinsk regions. The anarchists lobbied for the creation of self-managing peasant collectives and for the release of Rogov, which was achieved in April 1920. The first of May that year was marked by a huge anarchist rally in the village of Zhulanikh, 120 kms northwest of Barnaul, at which the speakers paid tribute to the victims of the White terror. A thousand partisans participated and several thousand peasants attended, waving red-and-black banners. Two days later, the uprising came. A band of around 1,000 people mobilised by Novoselov moved that an Altai Anarchist Federation (AAF) be established and Rogov and seven of his commanders were part of this. Their forces swelled to a thousand fighters and received backing from thousands of peasants from the Pritchensk region. During the spring and summer of 1920, Rogov’s uprising spread, according to Shtirbul, thanks to AAF sympathisers within the army, the militia and the Cheka. The anarchist partisans occupied the area northwest of Barnaul plus the towns of Biiski, Kuznetzov and Novonikolayev.

Despite orders issuing from Moscow, the local Bolshevik authorities’ response seems initially to have been to adopt a wait-and-see line, probably fearing that disaffection might spread to other army corps. Once the Red Army did begin its offensive, Rogov’s troops split up into small groups which dispersed into the taiga. In June 19020, Rogov was captured and took his own life. Novoselov carried on the fight up until September 1920 before going into hiding with his partisans. At the same time, Lubkov triggered a fresh uprising in the Tomsk region. His partisans numbered between 2,500 and 3,000 men. Defeated, Lubkov tried to negotiate with the Bolsheviks before disappearing into the taiga himself with a few of his supporters. In January 1921, Novoselov was involved in a further uprising in Zhulianikh. His “peasant Army” numbered between 5,000 and 10,000 fighters. Unlike the earlier uprisings, this one canvassed for anti-communist support, regardless of where it might come from, even from the Whites. But the tide of battle soon turned against it."

But I have enough free time this month to make sure I do get my first 2 'chapters' done before January's out. And I keep thinking of going back to Siberia...

Sunday, 9 January 2011


I think I'm going to go the Brighton Zinefest on February 19th.

Kropotkin used to live in Brighton, and it turns out his name has been given to a local bus, which I now HAVE to add to my anarchist pilgrimage.

The bus company also tells me "He lived for many years at Chesham Street in Kemp Town and wrote some of his books there. Later he moved to Rottingdean." So maybe I can even find the houses?

Google street view shows us Kropotkin's old street.

Thursday, 6 January 2011

A chapter per fortnight (more section planning)

A new year and time to get cracking.

Rather than see the whole thing as a major undertaking to avoid avoid, I am trying to split it into little chapters which individually are smaller than the average zine (which when I'm not employed, as now, I usually find very easy to do). So I will attempt the easiest of these chapters next week, followed by the next easiest etc...

(amongst the details & dilemmas which follow, if I put P1 that means that bulletpoint is one planned page, P2 two pages etc.. & I have to warn the curious reader that this isn't going to be an interesting post for you, just for me!)

One decision I have made is that each page is going to be A5 landscape.

Chapters 1 & 2 Newcastle to London
- I only have one physical notebook page left from this part of the journey, so it's all to be redone from photos & pre-research.
- I would like to use my old 'wor diary' & 'secret anarchist history' research to add Newcastle links to the political tradition pursued on the journey (eg. Kropotkin's visits to Newcastle, weapons smuggled to the Bolsheviks etc..) but I think I will do this last.
P1 - Notebook page of train down to London plus photo & commentary on fellow passengers
P1 - Toothpaste & diary notes of hosts
Freedom Bookshop - historical intro / murals of Proudhon, Bakunin & Kropotkin / Mutual Aid & bothy zine on the shelves
P2 - The man reading Kropotkin (sketch+photo)
P1 - notebook of St Pancras then over the border

Chapters 3 & 4 Paris to Lyon
- Might revisit to get a fuller experience of some locations : most is currently just notes from books
P1 - French Revolution development of anarchist themes by enrages etc.. (need locations)
- Paris as 19th century revolutionary centre of Europe - Blanqui & other traditions
- Visits & Meetings of Herzen, Bakunin, Marx etc..
- 1848+ attempts and recuperation (Louis Napoleon)
- Proudhon : Besancon beginnings; role in 1848; development of ideas (eg. federalism vs electoralism); development of Proudhonian movement; links to Lyons; funeral
P1 - Montmartre cannon episode by Louise Michel
P1 - Vendome Column badsketch & story of pulling it down & photos of being there
- 1871 Commune bloodshed/meaning to Kropotkin/Marx, and link to Emile Henry & terrorists
- Camus & French Resistance quotelinks
- COLOUR Hotel de Ville photo & explain how the pictured notebooks got lost
- diary 'is that H de V; no that is' & story of Bakunin's imprisonment & escape
- COLOUR flyposters & stencils in streets, + social centre
- plaque & history of 'live fighting or die fighting'
- links to early anarchist internationals
- assassination of president tale
- Kropotkin's imprisonment tale, & reading the Chronicle in prison

Chapters 5 & 6 Switzerland
(still to plan)

Chapter 7 Dresden to Berlin [8 or 10 pages]
P1 - 1 Train mistake & early arrival
P1 - 2 YoungBakunin cartoon linked from Paris to Prague
P1 - 3 YoungBakunin cartoon Dresden
P1 - 4 YoungBakunin cartoon Dresden
P1 - 5 YoungBakunin cartoon prisons
p1 - 6 Tower pic & disappointing experience
p1 - 7 Berlin diary
p1 - 8 Street stickers
p2 -9+10 1848 history notes

Chapter 8 Berlin to St Petersburg journey [8 pages]
P1 - 1 diary 4th August
P1 - 2 photo & text - excited start to real journey
P1 - 3 diary about coffee
P1 - 4 Reading war & peace & hiding subversive literature
P1 - 5 COLOUR workmen on station photo
P1 - 6 COLOUR station photo & Belarus info
P1 - 7 diary of realisation alone
P1 - 8 wooden houses photo & Belarus info

Chapter 9 Arrival into St Petersburg
P1 - 1 place of St.P in anarchist history
P1 - 2 diary of 1st day wanderings
P1 - 3 Peter & Paul fortress
P1 - 4 Diary of day 2 including Peter & Paul sketches
P1 - 5 Mosquito cartoon (+arrests & letter)
P1 - 6 Hermitage (winter palace) cartoon
P1 - 7 Hermitage cartoon
P1 - 8 Train & adventure getting out
Also probably :
- more on Decembrists' attempt & execution/exile
- more on Nihilists, P1 communal shop & styles; P1 raids & assassinations
- more on Kropotkin's young life pre-Siberia
- P1 Nevsky Prospekt, memoir accounts & the horseback propagandist story
- Kazansky Cathedral photo with story

Chapter 10 Travelling East, to Kazan
Map of Siberia with Maria Volkonsky comments on places next to mine
Map of gulags
History of Russian expansion/exploitation/destruction of tribes/rivals
Cossacks - Yermak, Bakunin, Tolstoy versions
Train pictures (Isy, Sergei, etc..)
Train & Kazan diary/photos

Chapter 11 Ekaterinburg