Category Archives: History

Stalin, Industrialization, WWII


I’m trying out a new thing—responding to a tweet here and posting a link back on Twitter, rather than doing a whole bunch of tweets to say all the things I have to say…

It sounds plausible on the face of it, but I have all sorts of issues with this claim.

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Every nuclear explosion 1945-1998

“Japanese artist Isao Hashimoto has created a beautiful, undeniably scary time-lapse map of the 2053 nuclear explosions which have taken place between 1945 and 1998, beginning with the Manhattan Project’s “Trinity” test near Los Alamos and concluding with Pakistan’s nuclear tests in May of 1998. This leaves out North Korea’s two alleged nuclear tests in this past decade (the legitimacy of both of which is not 100% clear).”

Unseen Photos of the Spanish Civil War

Robert Capa’s Spain, Inside a Suitcase: “The Mexican Suitcase” at the International Center of Photography in New York … documents wartime life in Spain between 1936 and 1939 through the eyes of three photographers — Robert Capa, Gerda Taro and David Seymour (Chim) — in images no one seems to have seen for more than a half century… (via

Mandela Day

No one is born hating another person because of the colour of his skin, or his background, or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.

There is no easy walk to freedom anywhere, and many of us will have to pass through the valley of the shadow of death again and again before we reach the mountaintop of our desires.

In honour of his contributions to world freedom and justice, in 2009 the United Nations recognized Nelson Mandela’s birthday, 18 July, as Mandela Day.

There is now an official “Mandela Day” celebration and organisation created by one of the non-profits associated with Mandela that has this vision for the day:

  • Mandela Day is an annual celebration of Nelson Mandela’s life and a global call to action for people to recognize their individual ability to make an imprint and change the world around them.
  • Mandela Day has been created to inspire people from every corner of the world to embrace the values that have embodied Nelson Mandela’s life – democracy; equality; reconciliation; diversity; responsibility; respect and freedom – for these are the values of Nelson Mandela and they are his legacy to the world.
  • Mandela Day aims to showcase the work of the Nelson Mandela charitable organisations (Nelson Mandela Foundation; Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund; Mandela Rhodes Foundation) and raise monies to support their continuing work.
  • By connecting people with ways to act on Nelson Mandela’s values, we aim to empower every individual to make an imprint on the world.
  • The Mandela Day campaign message is simple: Nelson Mandela has given 67 years of his life fighting for the rights of humanity. All we are asking is that everyone gives 67 minutes of their time, whether it’s supporting your chosen charity or serving your local community.
  • Mandela Day is a global social movement – an umbrella idea – that does not discriminate, it’s open and lets in and embraces every organization that does good, whilst enabling people to serve their community and improve their lives…. (via Mandela Day 2010 – About.)

As they go on to say, this “is not a holiday – it is a day for all of us to opt in and show that we can all make an impact.”

One obvious way to do that, to opt in to the struggles and hopes that Nelson Mandela – Madiba – represents for the world, is to challenge, on this day and on every day, racial and economic injustice in your own society. Another way to celebrate Mandela Day and the legacy of Nelson Mandela it to opt in to one of the causes in which Madiba has taken a particular interest, perhaps most importantly the struggle against HIV/AIDS, which is devastating Southern Africa.

46664 was Nelson Mandela’s prisoner number during the 27 years he spent in prison for his part in the struggle against apartheid in South Africa. In 2002, the Nelson Mandela Foundation created an international organisation with that number as its name to lead Madiba’s global HIV/AIDS awareness and prevention campaign:

The 46664 campaign is an initiative to inspire individual and collective action towards an AIDS-free world. At its core, the campaign is about bringing hope and inspiration to all affected by HIV/AIDS. Thus 46664 raises awareness about the HIV/AIDS pandemic and the underlying issues that influence it, such as poverty, lack of education, gender inequality, lack of access to health facilities and the denial of economic opportunities. 46664 achieves its objectives through outreach campaigns in Africa and beyond, as well as through the staging of multi-artist concerts, sports and entertainment events and fundraisers. The campaign uses the universal connecting power of music, sport, entertainment and celebrity to educate, engage and empower those infected and affected by HIV/AIDS, and draws upon an extensive global network of ambassadors and celebrities. International ambassadors have the power to raise awareness and educate the younger generation in particular. By gaining global backing for the cause, 46664 looks to raise funds to directly assist the many HIV/AIDS projects it supports. (via About – 46664.)

And here’s a video that comes out of the work on the inaugural 46664 Concert at Green Point Stadium in Cape Town that was broadcast globally and on the internet to 2 Billion people. The music video incorporates samples from Mandela’s speech launching the organisation with “an infectious re-mix of pop, ska and reggae classics” and includes images from the live concert in 2003.

Another non-profit associated with Madiba is the Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund, established in South Africa in 1995 to promote a humanitarian response to the plight of South Africa ‘s children and youth. The organisation now has a number of branches around the world – getting involved and/or making a donation would be an excellent way to honour Madiba and celebrate his life on Mandela Day:

And of course you should check out the work of the main non-profit organisation associated with Madiba, the Nelson Mandela Foundation.

Nelson Mandela served as President of South Africa from 1994 to 1999, the first South African president to be elected in a fully representative democratic election. Before his presidency, Mandela was a terrorist, anti-apartheid activist, and the leader of Umkhonto we Sizwe, the armed wing of the African National Congress (ANC). The South African courts convicted him on charges of sabotage, as well as other crimes committed while he led the movement against apartheid. In accordance with his conviction’s sentence, Mandela served 27 years in prison, spending many of these years on Robben Island. Following his release from prison on 11 February 1990, Mandela supported reconciliation and negotiation, and helped lead the transition towards multi-racial democracy in South Africa.

Since the end of apartheid, many have frequently praised Mandela, including former opponents. In South Africa he is often known as Madiba, an honorary title adopted by elders of Mandela’s clan. The title has come to be synonymous with Nelson Mandela.

Mandela has received more than 250 awards over four decades, most notably the 1993 Nobel Peace Prize. In November 2009, the United Nations General Assembly announced that Mandela’s birthday, 18 July, is to be known as ‘Mandela Day’ to mark his contribution to world freedom…. (via Wikipedia.)

A People’s History Of The United States: A Lecture at Reed College by Howard Zinn

A People’s History Of The United States: A Lecture at Reed College By Howard Zinn

“I never wanted to practice safe history.” Howard Zinn

“What can I say that will in any way convey the love, respect, and admiration I feel for this unassuming hero who was my teacher and mentor.” —Alice Walker

AK Press: “A scintillating lecture and discussion by the legendary teacher, historian, playwright, and activist. Here Zinn explains with great humor and passion how his teaching, his history, and his activism are parts of the same project. The stories of social movements—labor, civil rights, feminists, anti-war—are usually left out or grossly distorted in mainstream history writing. The efforts of Zinn and others to recover and pass on those stories offers to their students, to their readers, and to us, models, ideas, inspirations for how and why we might go about challenging and changing the structures of power.

Available through AK Press.
A pirated copy of this can be found at AvaxHome.

Noam Chomsky – Remembering Fascism: Learning From the Past

“I am just old enough to remember those chilling and ominous days of Germany’s descent from decency to Nazi barbarism, to borrow the words of the distinguished scholar of German history Fritz Stern. He tells us that he has the future of the United States in mind when he reviews “a historic process in which resentment against a disenchanted secular world found deliverance in the ecstatic escape of unreason.”

The world is too complex for history to repeat, but there are nevertheless lessons to keep in mind. There is no shortage of tasks for those who choose the vocation of critical intellectuals, whatever their station in life. They can seek to sweep away the mists of carefully contrived illusion and reveal the stark reality. They can become directly engaged in popular struggles, helping to organize the countless Joe Stacks who are destroying themselves and maybe the world and to join them in leading the way the way to a better future.”

read the whole essay here: t r u t h o u t | Remembering Fascism: Learning From the Past.

The IWW and Music: Creating a Working Class Counter-Culture

The IWW and Music: Creating a Working Class Counter-Culture – Anarkismo.

“This article discusses how the early IWW used music both as an organising tool and as a means of developing a sense of community among its members. It puts these activities in the context of the politics and practical activity of the IWW during this period.”

oui a la révolution

poster from mai ’68

more more more

Reading List: The Making of the English Working Class by E.P. Thompson

‘I am seeking to rescue the poor stockinger, the Luddite cropper, the “obsolete” hand-loom weaver, the “utopian” artisan, and even the deluded follower of Joanna Southcott, from the enormous condescension of posterity.’

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Event: Tribute to Howard Zinn at San Francisco Green Festival

[an email from Screening Liberally – hotlinks added]

This Sunday at the San Francisco Green Festival

Join Alice Walker and Friends in a Tribute to the Life and Legacy of Progressive Historian Howard Zinn with Special Guests Danny Glover, Alice Walker, People Speak Director/Producer Chris Moore and Gloria Steinem via Satellite (4pm)

And see The People Speak movie- Howard Zinn’s final work starring Matt Damon, Danny Glover, Morgan Freeman, Josh Brolin, Marisa Tomei and more (6pm screening- arrive by 5:50 for entrance)
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Spectacular Times

The Spectacular Times is a series of pamphlets written/produced by Larry Law in the late 1970s/early 1980s that took the often abstruse ideas of a group of French radicals called “situationists” and explored them in concrete ways and easy(er) to understand language. They are generally considered to be one of the most accessible introductions to situationist ideas available.

The situationists were a loose group of (mostly) French activists and intellectuals, very active in the events of May 1968, who tried to formulate a revolutionary theory applicable to daily life (speaking very loosely here) under what we would now term postmodernism. [As usual, see Wikipedia for a more extended introduction.]

While interest in the situationists themselves is fairly limited – confined mostly to radicals of various anarchist tendencies and academics in the humanities – many of the ideas put forth by the situationists have been much more widely influential, particularly their exploration of the politics of “everyday life” and their critique of a consumer-oriented, mass-mediated social order. Their analysis of these topics is directly applicable to many of issues raised in my discussion of “kids and kommercialism.” Continue reading

Radical History Revisited: Paris, May 1968

41 years ago this month, revolution (and tear gas) was in the air in Paris, as the streets heaved with riots and protests, in the events that are often just referred to as May/Mai ’68…


Photo: Bruno Barbey/Magnum

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Documents of Social Revolution

The Modern Records Center at the University of Warwick (in the UK) was founded in 1973 with the goal of preserving primary sources (ie, original texts and other material) for modern British social, political and economic history. A number of influential organisations and individuals have housed their archives at the Centre, including key British labour organisations, the left-wing publisher Victor Gollancz, the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND) and Amnesty International. Continue reading