Greenman's Occasional Organ

Ecosocialist. Syndicalist. Critical Techno-Progressive.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Blogs on Sunday

The dropping of the Serious Fraud Office enquiry into the BAE-Saudi arms affair after the intervention of the ever-more-bloodsoaked Vicar of Saint Albions himself has been a talking point around Brit left blogs. Lenin's Tomb comments here, with an, er, lively debate in the Comments section. Fellow Green Left Blogger Councillor Matt Sellwood comments here. I liked his analysis, short and to the point -

“Labour have always at least had the decency to shroud their moral bankruptcy in a sheen of PR - no longer, it seems. An ethical foreign policy is not only dead, it has been exhumed, drawn and quartered, and cremated.”

Elsewhere Ed at International Rooksbyism has been blogging some interesting stuff from the recent Historical Materialism Conference attended by various left intellectual heavyweights - here he reports on the discussion on the rise of China between Andrew Glyn, David Harvey and Simon Clarke, which had a floor conribution from Alex Callinicos.

Finally Ken MacLeod blogged about a new book on the Home Guard which sounds interesting -

Home Guard Socialism: A vision of a People's Army

by Stephen Cullen

Copyright, Allotment Hut Booklets

Price £3.00. Available for cash, UK stamps, or sterling cheque made out to the author at 76 Hanworth Road, Warwick, CV34 5DX

The BBC comedy series Dad's Army has probably done more to shape the popular memory of the Home Guard, Britain's WW2 volunteer defence force, than any other source. Good though the laughs are, this is a shame, because the Home Guard was a serious organization whose history has some significance today and may have more in the future. Stephen Cullen, an anti-militarist with a sound knowledge of military history, here provides a clear, well-documented and non-sectarian introduction to one aspect of the Home Guard's history that deserves to be better known: the key role of a small group of socialists and Spanish Civil War veterans in its initial organization, in the training of thousands of its members, and in the popularization of its ideas and methods to a readership that extended well beyond the Home Guard itself. Tom Wintringham's New Ways of War (1940), and 'Yank' Levy's Guerrilla Warfare (1941), both Penguin Specials, provided their readers with the political rationale and the military tactics of guerrilla warfare as a method of national and popular resistance to mechanized warfare and fascist occupation. Guerrilla Warfare is a severely practical manual: Levy's personal experience ranged from the Royal Fusiliers through the Mexican Revolution and Sandino's struggle in Nicaragua to the British battalion of the International Brigades. He drew also on the contemporary experiences of the Soviet and Chinese partisans. It's a long way from Captain Mainwaring's comical crew.

Stephen Cullen's pamphlet provides a wealth of fascinating information about Wintringham, Levy and their comrades, the 'Osterley Park socialists', and their vision of a People's Army. It leaves its readers to reflect on the curious and unsettling fact that in the national and social crisis of 1940, the one moment in the twentieth century in Britain when an armed people led by socialists was an urgent necessity and was rapidly becoming a practical reality, the great majority of Britain's radical socialists were otherwise engaged.

Tom Wintringham, an ex-International Brigader who went on to form the radical Commonwealth Party in Britain during the Second World War, is a fascinating figure that I am currently reading about and on whom I may blog in the future.

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At 3:07 pm, Anonymous Darren said...

If you ever get the chance, check out Pete Grafton's book 'You, You, You', which was an oral history of people out of step during the Second World War.

If I remember rightly, it was published by Pluto Press about 25 years ago.


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