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Making Their Own History

Ingo Schmidt Solidarity
Historians of the bourgeois persuasion tend to focus on the doings of major figures in history. Less emphasis is placed by them on the role of working people, often nameless and ill-remembered. Edward Thompson's The Making of the English Working Class was a methodological breakthrough in showing how a working class made itself. The book under review follows that precedent, charting how ordinary Europeans from the Middle Ages to post-Soviet Europe made their own history.

books

Bolsheviks and Beyond: Revisiting John Reed's "Ten Days that Shook the World"

Michael Hirsch Democratic Left
On the centennial of the Russian Revolution, John Reed's first-hand look at the uprising of workers, peasants, soldiers and sailors is fit reading about a mass movement that overthrew the old aristocracy and then the bourgeois class itself. An exposition on ordinary people making history for themselves, the book is a gripping account of events in Petrograd, when Lenin and the Bolsheviks lead the various workers councils in finally seizing state power.

books

Red Dawn: On China Miéville’s Urgent Retelling of the Russian Revolution

Alci Rengifo Los Angeles Review of Books
China Miéville looks at the Revolution as a hopeful flashpoint that briefly showed the promise of socialist transformation, before descending first into an authoritarian nightmare and then today's corrupt capitalism. Written with an urgency designed for our era of struggle absent clear political ideologies or unified mass socialist organizations, Mieville focuses on the revolutionary moment, using his skill as a story teller to see the participants in real time.

poetry

War Alphabet

Jill McDonough Poetry Daily
What is war? Jill McDonough’s alphabetical poem evolves from World War I’s soldier-oriented them vs. us to the hidden terrors of today’s warfare: CIA, NSA, Black Ops, ETC.

books

Stefan Zweig's Messages From a Lost World

Scott McLemee Insider Higher Ed
In the period between the world wars, Stefan Zweig was among the world's best-known authors. His books would soon fuel Nazi bonfires. Zweig held that humanity could no longer afford the belligerent nationalism that had led them into the Great War. Yet Zweig was struck dumb by post 1933 events. That failure, the reviewer says, was of imagination, not nerve. Against the Nazis' depredations, all the consummate writer and speaker could muster was nostalgia for a lost world.

Tidbits - January 1, 2015 - New Year's edition

Portside
Reader Comments- Selma - the movie; Labor, Racism, PBA's Patrick Lynch, Police Police Unions; Sports, Athletes, Equality and Anti-Racism; the 1914 Christmas Truce; It's a Wonderful Life, Comrade; Prosecute those responsible for Torture; Okinawa rejects "Pivot to Asia"; Fighting Anti-Semitism and Jim Crow; Announcements- Invisible Lives, Targeted Bodies - Impacts of Economic Injustice on Vulnerable LGBTQ Communities; Symposium: Dynamics of Possible Nuclear Extinction

One Holy Night - The tale of the 1914 Christmas Truce

H Patricia Hynes, Frances Crowe; Jan Barry; John McCutcheon Portside
The tale of the 1914 Christmas Truce survived through the letters and photos of soldiers who, along 600 miles of trenches, suspended war and shared Christmas - with their enemy. The war to end all wars did the opposite, sowing seeds of future ones. Industrial warfare - bombing cities; using chemical poisons; and a punitive peace treaty, with the winners dividing up the empires of the losers - all but guaranteed that future conflicts would be settled by military force.

1. Do We Ever Actually Learn Anything from History?; 2. The Militant Mystery of World War II.

William Astore; Clancy Sigal History News Network; portside
1. Our decision makers have no respect for the lessons of history. They think the lessons don’t apply to them. They think they can make history freely: that history is like a blank canvas for their creative (and destructive) impulses. They figure they are in complete control. Hubris, in other words. 2. Opposing War - Lessons of WWI.

Tidbits - December 26, 2013

Portside
Reader Comments - Flashmob for Mandela; The Progressive 'Left"; War and Christmas Truce of 1914; Socialist Origins of the Pledge; Radicals in City Hall; Fidel Castro on Mandela's Death and Who Supported Apartheid; Korea; MSNBC; Announcements - "No Separate Justice" Launch in New York City Jan. 7; Esperanza Spalding Protest Song & Video Calling For Guantanamo Bay

Lessons from the Christmas Truce of 1914

Gary G. Kohls, MD Portside
Military chaplains seem to be another cog in the apparatus of making war maximally effective. Christian chaplains seem to not pay much attention to the Ten Commandments either, especially the ones that say "thou shalt not kill" or "thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's oil". 99 years ago one of the most unusual aberrations in the bloody history of warfare - never allowed to be repeated again - occurred.
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