Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Article clippings on Lucy Parsons

Various articles on Lucy Parsons from the bourgeois press between 15 October 1886 and 8 March 1942.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Lucy Parsons was engaged to marry Eduard Bernstein, leading German socialist, in 1888

Well this is rather interesting. Though I have never seen it mentioned in any biography of Lucy Parsons anywhere, according to this article (see image and link below) from the Chicago Daily Tribune, dated 11 December 1888, Parsons had at least temporarily been engaged to marry Eduard Bernstein, the famous German socialist.

Though Parsons only mentions her "future husband's" last name in the article (" ... a gentleman named Bernstein ... "), everything else checks out. Parsons had gone on a speaking tour in London in 1888 alongside Peter Kropotkin, the Russian anarchist, and William Morris, the British Marxist and friend of Frederick Engels. Bernstein had coincidentally also arrived in London that year, having been exiled from Germany, by way of Zurich, Switzerland. At this time, Bernstein was indeed editor of the Social Democrat -- as indicated by Parsons in the article below -- which was the leading newspaper of the German Social Democratic Party.

It seems quite likely that Parsons would have met Bernstein through William Morris, as the two men shared a common close friendship with Frederick Engels.

Among other things, I think this historical relationship is interesting because it would appear to buttress a theory of mine regarding Lucy Parsons. Namely, that her anarchism was more or less synonymous with socialism of the revolutionary, Marxist, variety. Or rather, at the very least, that she did not see a rigid bifurcation between her vision of anarchism and that of revolutionary socialism or Marxism. (For more on this, see http://joanofmark.blogspot.com/2011/09/lucy-parsons-more-dangerous-than.html)

In 1888, Bernstein was a leading figure within the German Social Democratic Party, a close friend of Engels, and was internationally recognized as an unambiguous advocate of orthodox Marxism. [It was not until the mid-to-late 1890s that Bernstein would advance a "revisionist" (essentially reformist) version of Marxism, which he called "evolutionary socialism."]

Of course, I in no way want to advance the idea that any individual's politics can be judged exclusively by that of their spouse, partner, lover, etc. Parsons I'm sure disagreed with Bernstein on many issues regarding the politics of working class revolution. Nonetheless, it is a significant historical fact that only one year after the execution of her former husband, Albert Parsons, the internationally famous anarchist/socialist, she became engaged to one of the then-leading lights of international Marxism.

Indeed, one can see even from the very same article in question that there is no contradiction in Parsons' mind when she speaks of the revolutionary movement in England, in one breath, as advancing the "cause of Socialism", and in the next breath, as advancing "Anarchistic questions."

To read more about the life, politics, and legacy of Lucy Parsons, see http://joanofmark.blogspot.com/2011/09/lucy-parsons-more-dangerous-than.html

PDF of article available at https://docs.google.com/file/d/0B2Zdv5hwi_o6a2hJTWRvNnJaOEU

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Lucy Parsons: "Anarchism, Socialism, and Sex" | Chicago Tribune, 8 March 1942

"LUCY PARSONS, BLIND ANARCHIST, BURNED TO DEATH." (1942, Mar 08). Chicago Daily Tribune (1923-1963). Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com.ezp-prod1.hul.harvard.edu/docview/176687215?accountid=11311

"In the flat the police and firemen found a … library of 2,500 to 3,000 volumes, all devoted to anarchism, socialism, and sex. Assistant Corporation Counsel Earl Downes took charge of the books."
As it turned out, all of these books were subsequently turned over to the FBI, never again to see the light of the day. Over the years, numerous Freedom of Information requests have been made to the FBI for this material, but to no avail.

Oh lord, what I would do to get my hands on all of those books!!!

Helen Keller article from New York Times, 7 Feb. 1913, "Rich Criticised By Helen Keller in Debut as Public Lecturer"



Blind and Deaf and Once Dumb Girl Blames Them for Poor's Condition.


Tells Big Crowd at Mont Clair, N. J., She Hopes to Help the World Get Better.

Mont Clair, N. J., Feb. 6. -- -Special.- -- Helen Keller, the famous blind and deaf and once dumb girl, made her debut as a public speaker in Mont Clair tonight, when, from the platform of the auditorium in the Hillsdale school, she delivered a lecture to an audience that numbered nearly 1,000.

Miss Keller spoke under the auspices of the Mont Clair branch of the Socialist party. She is a Socialist herself, and in her talk revealed radical political inclinations.

The large audience, particularly those in the rear, understood Miss Keller with difficulty at times, owing to the lack of emphasis in her tones, but she gave a remarkable performance, considering the handicap under which she labored.

Trying to Make World Better.

"I am going to try to make you feel that no one of us can do anything alone, that we are bound together," said Miss Keller. "I do not like this world as it is. I am trying to make it a little more as I would like to have it. Perhaps you are thinking how blind I have been. You have your eyes and you behold the sun, and yet you are more blind than I am.

"It was the hands of others that made this miracle in me. Without my teacher I should be nothing. Without you I should be nothing. We live by and for each other. We are all blind and deaf until our eyes are open to our fellow men. If we had a penetrating vision we would not endure what we see in the world today.

"The lands, the life, and the machinery belong to the few. All the work they do gains for the workers a mere livelihood. It is strange that we do not see it and that when we do we accept the conditions in blind content. We fail to understand that if the workers were adequately paid there would be no rich people.

Blames Rich for Conditions.

"The rich are willing to do everything for the poor but give them their rights. They say the workers are not thrifty enough. If the workers are not thrifty enough and do not save it is because the greatest part of what they produce goes to some one else who does the saving. It is the labor of the poor and ignorant that makes us refined and comfortable.
"I am no pessimist. The pessimist says that man was born in darkness and for death. I believe that man was intended for the light and shall not die. It is a good world and it will be much better when you help me to make it more as I want it."


Monday, July 8, 2013

Summary, Comparison, and Analysis of the Russian Constitutions of 1918, 1924, and 1936

I wanted to share a quick summary and comparison of the first three constitutions adopted by the Russian Soviet governments following the historic revolution of October 1917. Specifically, I want to draw attention to the apparent irony -- though, in actual fact, perfectly logical phenomenon -- that there is a direct correspondence between the extent to which the gains of the revolution were being undone by the Stalinist bureaucracy, on the one hand, and the re-crafting of the constitution, on the other, along increasingly "liberal" lines.

So, for instance, the 1936 constitution -- adopted at a time when Stalin's authoritarian reign of terror against the working class in general, and the original leaders and cadres of the 1917 revolution in particular [source], was at its height -- goes further than any previous constitution in reflecting the traditional liberal values often evinced in those of Western bourgeois-democratic republics, such as the rights to "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness."

This, of course, accords completely with the modus operandi of constitutional democracy as it has appeared in the traditional capitalist Western countries, which use lofty promises regarding the sanctity of individual rights as a veil to hide the most brutally repressive practices, such as slavery, female disenfranchisement, genocide against indigenous populations, exploitation of labor, repression of political dissidence, oppression of socially non-conforming peoples, etc.