Thursday, 26 June 2014

Duncan Anderson, "The Falklands War 1982" (2002)

A bit of a guilty indulgence.
Osprey is known for publishing 'light' general descriptions of military history topics, including battles, technology and personalities.

This consideration of the Falklands War - a small battle though significant moment in late-20th century history - is not superficial, but provides rather closer attention to narrating the day-to-day combat than assessing the deeper geo-political and economic factors at play.

Essentially, an Argentinian military government decided that one way to distract public concern over domestic conditions while solving a long-standing desire to patriate/seize some strategically important territory would be to turf the British from several islands about 400 miles from the Argentinian coast. In May 1982, Argentine troops (disguised and in uniform) quickly overcame the very small British forces on the Falklands. In the ensuing conflict, Britain surprised the Argentines by throwing in a sizeable military response, and although taking losses, inflicting much heavier costs (particular in the air and at sea).

Losing the Falklands conflict reinforced Thatcher's reputation at home, and destroyed Galtieri's ability to govern Argentina.

Tuesday, 24 June 2014

Leon Trotsky, "From October to Brest Litovsk" (1919)

A leading Russian Bolshevik revolutionary explains why he supported the harsh peace treaty between Russia and Germany in spring 1918.

One intriguing outcome of this treaty is that Russia recognized the political independence of the Ukraine.

A full text version is available at:
The Librivox full audio version is available at:

Thought-provoking or noteworthy excerpts:
For the Ukrainian middle classes, who had seized the power, the most important factor seemed to be the "recognition" of their government by the capitalist governments of Europe. At first the Rada placed itself at the disposal of the Allied imperialists, received from them some pocket money, and immediately thereupon sent their representatives to Brest-Litovsk in order to make a bargain behind the back of the Russian people with the government of Austria-Hungary for the recognition of the legitimate birth of their government. They had hardly taken this first step on the road to "international" existence, when the Kiev diplomacy revealed the same narrow-mindedness and the same moral standards which were always so characteristic of the petty politicians of the Balkan Peninsula. Messrs. Kuehlmann and Czernin certainly had no illusions concerning the solidity of the new participant in the negotiations. But they thought, and correctly so, that the participation of the Kiev delegation complicated the game not without advantage for themselves. At its first appearance at Brest-Litovsk, the Kiev delegation characterized Ukraine as a component part of the Russian Federated Republic that was in progress of formation. This apparently embarrassed the diplomats of the Central[…]

The point is not to die with honor but to achieve ultimate victory. The Russian Revolution wants to survive, must survive, and must by every means at its disposal avoid fighting an uneven battle and gain time, in the hope that the Western revolutionary movement will come to its aid. German imperialism is still engaged in a fierce annexationist struggle with English and American militarism. Only because of this is the conclusion of peace between Russia and Germany at all possible. We must fully avail ourselves of this situation. The welfare of the Revolution is the highest law. We should accept the peace which we are unable to reject; we must secure a breathing spell to be utilized for intensive work within the country and, especially, for the creation of an army

Their efforts in one way or another to prop up their spiritual and political helplessness by the science and politics of the bourgeoisie which so overawed them, found its theoretical justification in the teachings of the Mensheviki, who explained that the present revolution was a bourgeois revolution, and therefore could not succeed without the participation of the bourgeoisie in the government. In this way, the natural bloc of Social-Revolutionists and Mensheviki was created, which gave simultaneous expression to the political lukewarmness of the middle-class intellectuals and its relation of vassal to imperialistic liberalism.

The hegemony of the petty bourgeois intellectuals meant, in reality, that the peasantry, which had suddenly been called, through the agency of the military machine, to an organized participation in political life, had, by mere weight of numbers, overshadowed the working class and temporarily dislodged it.

The Soviets of Workingmen's, Soldiers' and Peasants' Deputies meant, under these circumstances, the domination of peasant formlessness over proletarian socialism, and the domination of intellectual radicalism over peasant formlessness. The soviet institution rose so rapidly, and to such prominence, largely because the intellectuals, with their technical knowledge and bourgeois connections, played a leading part in the work of the soviet. It was clear to us, however, that the whole inspiring structure was based upon the deepest inner contradictions, and that its downfall during the next phase of the revolution was quite inevitable

The agitators told the soldiers that the Czarist Government had sent them into slaughter without any rime or reason. But those who replaced the Czar could not in the least change the character of the war, just as they could not find their way clear for a peace campaign. The first months were spent in merely marking time. This tried the patience both of the army and of the Allied Governments, and prompted the drive of June 18, which was demanded by the Allies, who insisted upon the fulfillment of the old Czarist obligations. Scared by their own helplessness and by the growing impatience of the masses, the leaders of the middle class complied with this demand.

The liberal bourgeoisie understood that it could not subdue the masses without the aid and intercession of the middle-class democracy, which, as we have already pointed out, proved to be temporarily the leader of the revolutionary organizations. Therefore, the immediate object of the political baiting of the Bolsheviki was to raise irreconcilable enmity between our party and the vast masses of the "socialistic intellectuals," who, if they were alienated from the proletariat, could not but come under the sway of the liberal bourgeoisie.

the proletariat's struggle for power would naturally move in the channel of Soviet organizations and could take a more normal course.

the difference between the political role of the Soviets and that of the democratic organs of self-government. More than once, the Philistines called our attention to the fact that the new dumas and zemstvos elected on the basis of universal suffrage, were incomparably more democratic than the Soviets and were more suited to represent the population. However, this formal democratic criterion is devoid of serious content in a revolutionary epoch. The significance of the Revolution lies in the rapid changing of the judgment of the masses, in the fact that new and ever new strata of population acquire experience, verify their views of the day before, sweep them aside, work out new ones, desert old leaders and follow new ones in the forward march. During revolutionary times, formally democratic organizations, based upon the ponderous apparatus of universal suffrage, inevitably fall behind the development of the political consciousness of the masses. Quite different are the Soviets.

there are in the Soviet incomparably more serious, more profound guarantees of the direct and immediate relation between the deputy and the electors. A town-duma or zemstvo member is supported by the amorphous mass of electors, which entrusts its full powers to him for a year and then breaks up. The Soviet electors remain always united by the conditions of their work and their existence; the deputy is ever before their eyes, at any moment they can prepare a mandate to him, censure him, recall or replace him with another person.

Pressed hard on both right and left, the bourgeois democracy tolerated all this dickering, and thereby demonstrated its utter political prostration.

An abyss sprang up between the committees and the soldier masses. Finally the soldiers began to regard the committees with hatred. With increasing frequency delegates from the trenches were arriving in Petrograd and at the sessions of the Petrograd Soviet put the question point blank: "What is to be done further? By whom and how will the war be ended? Why is the Petrograd Soviet silent

it became clear beyond any doubt that the proposed removal of the Petrograd garrison actually had nothing to do with military purposes, but was forced upon Commander-in-Chief Dukhonin, against his will, by none else but Kerensky, who was striving to clear the capital of the most revolutionary soldiers, i.e., those most hostile to him. But at that time, early in October, our suspicions evoked at first a storm of patriotic indignation.

The Executive Committee refused to affix its seal blindly to the order to transfer two-thirds of the garrison. It was necessary to verify, we said, whether there really were military considerations back of this order, and therefore it was necessary to create an organization for this verification. Thus was born the idea of creating—by the side of the Soldiers' section of the Soviet, i. e., the garrison's political representation—a purely military organization, in the form of a Military Revolutionary Committee, which subsequently acquired enormous power and became the real tool of the October Revolution.

During October the question of the uprising played an important role in our party's inner life. Lenin, who was in hiding in Finland, insisted, in numerous letters, upon more resolute tactics

On October 10th a conspiratory meeting of the Central Committee of our party took place, with Lenin present. The question of the uprising was on the order of the day. By a majority of all against two votes it was decided that the only means of saving the Revolution and the country from final dissolution lay in armed insurrection which must transfer power into the hands of the Soviets.

It was necessary to show the masses by action that the fusionists had led the Revolution into a blind alley. The fight for building up the Soviet power could be carried on only in a revolutionary way. The power must be snatched from the hands of those who had proven incapable of doing any good and were furthermore even losing their capacity for active evil. Their method of working through an artificially picked Pre-Parliament and a conjectural Constituent Assembly, had to be opposed by our political method of mobilizing the forces around the Soviets, through the All-Russian Congress of Soviets and through insurrection. This could be done only by means of an open break, before the eyes of the entire people, with the body created by Tseretelli and his adherents, and by focusing on the Soviet institutions, the entire attention and all the forces of the working class. This is why I proposed the demonstrative withdrawal from the Conference and a revolutionary agitation

The bourgeois-fusionist press accused us of striving to kill prematurely the Pre-Parliament, for the very purpose of creating a revolutionary situation.

the leader of the tiny "internationalist" Menshevik group, Martof, explained to us that the withdrawal from the temporary Soviet of the Republic (such was the official appellation of this little-respected institution) would be sensible only in case we proposed immediately to assume an open offensive. But the point is that this is just what we intended. The prosecutors for the liberal bourgeoisie were right, when accusing us of striving to create a revolutionary situation. In open insurrection and direct seizure of power we beheld the only way out of the situation.

"You have forgotten about us," the delegates on foot from the trenches exclaimed at the Soviet meetings. "If you find no way out of the situation, we shall come here ourselves, and with our bayonets we shall disperse our enemies, including you." In the course of a few weeks the Petrograd Council had become the center of attraction for the whole army. After its leading tendency had been changed and new presiding officers elected, its resolutions inspired the exhausted and despondent troops at the front with the hope that the way out of the situation could be practically found in the manner proposed by the Bolsheviks: by publishing the secret treaties and proposing an immediate truce on all fronts.

the first force for attacking the new government was being hastily organized. In this, the initiative was taken by the Social-Revolutionists and the Mensheviki. In the preceding period they would not, and dared not, take all the power into their own hands. In keeping with their provisional political position, they contented themselves with serving in the coalition government in the capacity of assistants, critics, and benevolent accusers and defenders of the bourgeoisie. During all elections they conscientiously anathematized the liberal bourgeoisie, while in the government they just as regularly combined with it.

The skirmishes were assuming an indefinitely prolonged character, and this threatened the revolutionary detachments with demoralization. It was necessary, therefore, to adopt the most determined measures. The task of disarming the cadets was assigned to the commandant of Petropavlovsk fortress,

we decided to appeal directly to the working class. We stated that the success of the revolution was most seriously threatened, and that it was for them—by their energy, initiative, and self-denial—to save and strengthen the regime of proletarian and peasant government. This appeal met with tremendous practical success almost immediately. Thousands of workingmen proceeded toward Kerensky's forces and began digging trenches. The munition workers manned the cannon, themselves obtaining ammunition for them from various stores; requisitioned horses; brought the guns into the necessary positions and adjusted them; organized a commissary department; procured gasoline, motors, automobiles; requisitioned provisions and forage; and put the sanitary trains on a proper footing—created, in short, the entire war machinery, which we had vainly endeavored to create from above.

victory can be insured only by a determined and persistent course. There must be no vacillation. To engage in parleys is dangerous; merely to mark time is suicidal. We are dealing here with the masses, who have never held any power in their hands, who are therefore most wanting in political self-confidence. Any hesitation at revolutionary headquarters demoralizes them immediately. It is only when a revolutionary party steadily and resolutely makes for its goal, that it can help the toilers to overcome their century-old instincts of slavery and lead them on to victory. And only by these means of aggressive charges can victory be achieved with the smallest expenditure of energy and the least number of sacrifices.

The liberal bourgeoisie treated with contempt and indignation the mere idea of the possibility of a working class government and gave free vent to their feelings on the subject, in the innumerable organs at their disposal. Close behind them trailed the intellectuals, who, with all their professions of radicalism and all the socialistic coating of their world-philosophy, are, in the depths of their hearts, completely steeped in slavish worship of bourgeois strength and administrative ability. All these "Socialistic" intellectuals hastily joined the Right and considered the ever-increasing strength of the Soviet government as the clear beginning of the end. After the representatives of the "liberal" professions came the petty officials, the administrative technicians—all those elements which materially and spiritually subsist on the crumbs that fall from the bourgeois table. The opposition of these elements was chiefly passive in character, especially after the crushing of the cadet insurrection; but, nevertheless, it might still seem formidable.

The whole strength of the new government lay in the radicalism of its program and the boldness of its actions. To tie itself up with the Chernofi and Tseretelli factions would mean to bind the new government hand and foot—to deprive it of freedom of action and thereby forfeit the confidence of the masses in the shortest possible time.

In a society of classes, democratic institutions not only do not eliminate class struggle, but also give to class interests an utterly imperfect expression. The propertied classes always have at their disposal tens and hundreds of means for falsifying, subverting and violating the will of the toilers. And democratic institutions become a still less perfect medium for the expression of the class struggle under revolutionary circumstances. Marx called revolutions "the locomotives of history." Owing to the open and direct struggle for power, the working people acquire much political experience in a short time and pass rapidly from one stage to the next in their development. The ponderous machinery of democratic institutions lags behind this evolution all the more, the bigger the country and the less perfect its technical apparatus.

Kautsky has explained, in a series of articles written with his characteristic pedantry, the interrelation existing between the Social-Revolutionary problems of the proletariat and the regime of political democracy. He tries to prove that for the working class it is always expedient, in the long run, to preserve the essential elements of the democratic order. This is, of course, true as a general rule. But Kautsky has reduced this historical truth to professorial banality. If, in the final analysis, it is to the advantage of the proletariat to introduce its class struggle and even its dictatorship, through the channels of democratic institutions, it does not at all follow that history always affords it the opportunity for attaining this happy consummation. There is nothing in the Marxian theory to warrant the deduction that history always creates such conditions as are most "favorable" to the proletariat.

On the 7th of November, we addressed by wireless an invitation to our Allies and enemies to conclude a general peace. In reply the Allied Governments addressed to General Dukhonin, then commander-in-chief, through their military attaches, a communication stating that further steps to separate peace negotiations would lead to the gravest consequences

On the 22nd of November a truce was signed to discontinue military activities on the entire front from the Baltic to the Black Sea. Once more we requested our Allies to join us and to conduct together with us the peace negotiations. There was no reply, though this time the Allies did not again attempt to frighten us by threats.

the secret of the conduct of the diplomacy of Kuehlmann consisted in that that gentleman was sincerely convinced of our readiness to play a four-handed game with him. His way of reasoning was approximately as follows: Russia needs peace. The Bolsheviki got the power because of their struggle for peace. The Bolsheviki desire to remain in power and this is possible for them only on condition that peace is concluded. It is true that they bound themselves to a definite democratic program of peace, but why do diplomats exist if not for the purpose of making black look white? We Germans will make it easier for the Bolsheviki by covering our plunders by democratic formulas

He would return to us our fine formulas and we should give him a chance to get provinces and peoples for Germany without a protest. In the eyes of the German workers, the annexations by force would thus receive the sanction of the Russian Revolution. When during the discussions, we showed that with us, it was not a matter of empty words or of camouflaging a conspiracy concluded behind the scenes, but a matter of democratic principles for the international life of the community of nations

war speedily wears out its dead capital, demanding that it be continuously replenished. The military power of every single country drawn into the whirlpool of the world massacre was, as a matter of fact, measured by its ability to produce independently and during the war itself, its cannons and shells and the other weapons of destruction.

for a long time, and it was not an accident that it did so. The fact alone that the international politics were for the last fifty years reduced to the construction of the so-called European "balance of power," that is, to a state in which the hostile powers approximately balance one another, this fact alone was bound—when the power and wealth of the present bourgeois nations is considered—to make it a war of an extremely protracted character. That meant first of all the exhaustion of the weaker and economically less developed countries

In order that we might at an indefinite future date conduct negotiations together with our Allies, we should first of all have had to continue the war together with them. And if our country was weakened and exhausted, the continuation of the war, a failure to bring it to a conclusion, would have still further weakened and exhausted it. We should have had to settle the war under conditions still more unfavorable to us.

We could not declare war, for we were too weak. The army had lost all of its internal ties. In order to save our country, to overcome this disorganization, it was imperative to establish the internal coherence of the toilers. This psychological tie can only be created by constructive work in factory, field and workshop. We had to return the masses of laborers, who had been subjected to great and intense suffering—who had experienced catastrophes in the war—to the fields and factories, where they must find themselves again and get a footing in the labor world, and rebuild internal discipline. This was the only way to save the country

The old army had long ago been hopelessly defeated and was going to pieces, blocking all the roads and byways. The new army, owing to the country's general exhaustion, the fearful disorganization of industries and the means of transportation, was being got together too slowly. Distance was the only serious obstacle in the way of the German invasion

The Rada, through its delegation, had appealed to the governments of the Central Empires for direct military aid against the Soviets, which had by that time completely defeated the Ukrainians

When our party took over the government, we knew in advance what difficulties we had to contend with. Economically the country had been exhausted by the war to the very utmost. The revolution had destroyed the old administrative machinery and could not yet create anything to take its place. Millions of workers had been wrested from their normal nooks in the national economy of things, declassified, and physically shattered by the three years' war. The colossal war industries, carried on on an inadequately prepared national foundation, had drained all the lifeblood of the people; and their demobilization was attended with extreme difficulties. The phenomena of economic and political anarchy spread throughout the country. The Russian peasantry had for centuries been held together by barbarian national discipline from below and iron-Czarist rule from above. Economic development had undermined the former, the revolution destroyed the latter. Psychologically, the revolution meant the awakening of a sense of human personality among the peasantry. The anarchic manifestations of this awakening are but the inevitable results of the preceding oppression. A new order of things, an order based on the workers' own control of industry, can come only through gradual and internal elimination of[…]

Thursday, 19 June 2014

Brad Lavigne, "Building the Orange Wave..." (2013)

Subtitled: "The Inside Story Behind the Historic Rise of Jack Layton and the NDP."
Foreword by Olivia Chow.

Fuller comments will follow eventually.

If this topic interests you, see also my comments regarding Brian Topp's How We Almost Gave the Tories the Boot (2010).

Francis Parker Yockey, "Proclamation of London..." (1949)

Yockey's pamphlet, a proclamation by the European Liberation Front, is an inflammatory anti-Semitic, anti-American screed that advocates for a Pan-European movement that will move away from materialism, capitalism, liberal democracy, communism, and feminism. He suggests instead that Europeans should 'return' to values of faith, authority, and power.

Having broken with the Union Movement, a political organization founded in 1948 by Sir Oswald Mosley, former head of the British Union of Fascists and recently freed British political internee, transplanted American Yockey founded the European Liberation Front.

Fuller comments will follow eventually.

The full text can be found in a multitude of online locations, such as

If this text interests you, see also my comments on Ben Klassen's Letters (Vol. 1 & Vol. 2), and William Pierce's Turner Diaries and Hunter.

Tuesday, 17 June 2014

Eric Williams, "Capitalism and Slavery" (1944)

Fuller comments will follow in future.

Williams wrote a highly influential, challenging, detailed history of the relationship between the economic gains to be made in the sugar trade that motivated the British and West Indians to develop and support slavery. The voluminous detail Williams includes reminded me of texts such as Solzhenitsyn's Gulag Archipelago, Tooze's Wages of Sin, and the documentary Shoah. In this respect, the book is not for the faint of heart, nor does it constitute 'light and informative' reading.

Williams' analysis is challenging in that it does not place racism at the forefront of its investigation, but rather sees racism as a contributing factor to economic needs. Williams text is not fiery Marxism, however, but rather close economic analysis, complete with profit and loss reporting, investment track records, and consideration of the sundry interests of landowners, sugar refinery operators, shippers, slave traders, and government.

The text also explores the 'triangular trade' of slaves, sugar, and manufactured goods that provided the foundation for British imperial trade monopolies of the 18th-century.

A bootleg version of the text can be located at: