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(en) Workers Solidarity #78 - Anarchist History Pamphlets from the Kate Sharpley Library

From Worker <a-infos-en@ainfos.ca>
Date Tue, 18 Nov 2003 10:12:54 +0100 (CET)

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"Direct Action" by Emile Pouget and "A Day Mournful and Overcast"
by an Uncontrollable of the Iron Column

A passion for freedom, opposition to all forms of hierarchy and the
advocacy and use of direct action have historically been some of the
most important and enduring characteristics of anarchist politics. The
recent publication by the Kate Sharpley Library, of two pamphlets
provides us with a glimpse of how these ideas and practices have
evolved over time.

The first, "Direct Action", by Emile Pouget is a polemic in favour of a
tactic dear to today's bin-tax blockaders, street reclaimers and
squatters. Pouget was an influential anarchist journalist in France at
the turn of 20th century. As an anarcho-syndicalist Pouget was firmly
wedded to class struggle anarchism and radical trade unionism.

For Pouget, direct action is the most effective and appropriate tactic
available to radical workers for two reasons. Firstly direct action,
such as strike action or sabotage (eg 'go slows') is a good way of
winning struggles and yielding material gains such as increased pay or
a shorter working week. Secondly, when people take direct action it
builds up their confidence, especially as such action doesn't require
intermediaries like politicians or union officials. This creates a culture
of self-organisation and "puts paid to the age of miracles - miracles
from heaven and miracles from the state". Pouget sees direct action
as the basis of any truly revolutionary politics because it teaches
self-reliance and encourages us to cast aside the mind-forged
manacles that keep us subservient.

The second pamphlet "A Day Mournful and Overcast" was first
published in Spain in 1937. It is an account of the experiences of an
anarchist militiaman and is a fierce and moving declaration of faith in
the importance of freedom and the capability of ordinary people to
transform their own lives and history. Spain in the 1930's was a living
laboratory of freedom and revolt with millions of people putting
anarchist ideas into practice.

However, by 1937 the anarchist militias were caught in the jaws of
counter-revolution, fighting the fascists at the front while their efforts
were been undermined by Stalinist machinations at the rear. The
pamphlet discusses these momentous events and gives us a feel for
the passions and motivations that lay behind these great upheavals.

Both of these pamphlets are interesting, although Pouget's is perhaps
aimed at those who have already developed an interest in anarchist
history while the "A Day..." is more accessible and provides a
wonderful introduction to the spirit of anarchism.


These two titles are available from the Kate Sharpley Library, BM
Hurricane, London WCIN 3XX, England. Send them £5.00, which
will cover the price plus postage.


This page is from the print version of the Irish Anarchist paper
'Workers Solidarity'. http://struggle.ws/wsm/paper.html
We also provide PDF files of all our publications
for you to print out and distribute locally
Print out the PDF file of this issue
Print out the PDF file of the most recent issue

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