Online pamphlets

1871: the Paris Commune

Author: 

Max Shachtman

The following account was written by Max Shachtman for the then-revolutionary US Communist Party’s “Little Red Library” in the early 1920's.


“This history... is due to their children, to all the working men of the earth. The child has the right to know the reason of its paternal defeats, the Socialist party, the campaign of its flag in all countries. He who tells the people revolutionary legends, he who amuses them with sensational stories, is as criminal as the geographer who would draw up false charts for navigation.”

An account of the Paris Commune written by Max Shachtman for the US Communist Party in the early 1920's.

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In memory of the Commune

Forty years have passed since the proclamation of the Paris Commune. In accordance with tradition, the French workers paid homage to the memory of the men and women of the revolution of March 18, 1871, by meetings and demonstrations. At the end of May they will again place wreaths on the graves of the Communards who were shot, the victims of the terrible “May Week”, and over their graves they will once more vow to fight untiringly until their ideas have triumphed and the cause they bequeathed has been fully achieved.

Lenin on the Paris Commune of 1871.

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A Socialist’s View of Religion and the Churches (1896)

Author: 

Tom Mann
"I want to expose the demoralising effect produced by the teaching that salvation consists in reflecting upon and believing in Christ’s sacrifice, irrespective of the life one leads." Tom Mann was a founder of the modern British labour movement. He died in 1941, a member of the British Communist Party.

I MAKE no apology for writing this chapter upon Preachers and Churches. In our day every institution is open to criticism, and rightly and necessarily so; and although—if this should meet the eyes of preachers—many of them will doubtless consider it presumption on my part to attempt even to deal with such a subject, let it be so. We live in England, and not in Russia—plutocratic England, it is true, but with Democracy getting a good grip.

The Working Class Self-Education Movement: The League of the "Plebs"

Author: 

Colin Waugh

In October 1908 industrial workers who were union-sponsored students at Ruskin College in Oxford founded what they called the League of the “Plebs”. Former students who had returned to their jobs as miners, railwayworkers, textile workers and engineers, supported them.

From January 1909 they began to organise socialist classes in South Wales, the North East, Lancashire and other working-class areas. Under the umbrella of the National Council of Labour Colleges (NCLC), there were, by 1926-27, 1,201 classes like this across Britain, with 31,635 students.

Between 26 March and 6 April 1909 union-sponsored students at Ruskin College, Oxford, conducted the “Ruskin College strike” (actually a boycott of lectures). In September 1909, they opened the Central Labour College.

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When Militant/Socialist Party suggested a "Socialist Federation of Ireland" 1994

Author: 

Sean Matgamna
In October, 1994 Militant/Socialist Party very belatedly, when the IRA war was over, suggested a "Socialist Federation of Ireland" as the way forward.

In August 1994, the Provisional IRA ended the military campaign it had started in March 1971. There would be difficulties, some bombs would be set off in England after that point, but as we can now see the war in the North was effectively over. Throughout the 23 years of war the organisation now known as the Socialist Party, and its 1992 splinter, known now as Socialist Appeal, confined themselves to preaching “Socialism is the only answer” to the conflict in the Six Counties. It was heavily a Protestant-Catholic, Unionists-Nationalist civil war, half- smothered by the British Army.

Castro and the Cuban revolution

By Paul Hampton

Paul Hampton assesses Fidel Castro’s legacy — the nature of the 1959 revolution and the social and political changes Cuba is now experiencing.

The overthrow of Batista in the last days of 1958 was a popular revolution that socialists and radicals everywhere supported. Batista had made Cuba a vassal of the US and held down the Cuban working class with repression and a compliant union bureaucracy.

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Hal Draper: An Eye-Witness Account of the Russian Revolution

Author: 

Hal Draper

The Russian revolution was the most important event of the 20th century.

It was the most important event in the entire history of the working class. The working class took and held power in territory that covered one sixth of the globe.

That working class power was overthrown in the early-mid 1920s by the Stalinist counter-revolution, which though continuing to call itself "communist" and "working class" put in a brutal and savage state bureaucracy as a new ruling class over the working people.

An account by I N Steinberg, a political opponent of the Bolsheviks, here summarised by Draper, shows that the 1917 upheaval was not a conspiracy but a real people’s revolution.

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The Levellers and Oliver Cromwell

Author: 

CLR James
On January 30, 1649, Cromwell and his officers executed Charles I. But the Levelers, leading the common people of London and the rank and file of the army, rose against the military government...

On January 30, 1649, Cromwell and his officers executed Charles I. But the Levelers, leading the common people of London and the rank and file of the army, rose against the military government, demanding the election of a new parliament based on manhood suffrage, and advocating a social program which showed that for them the revolution had. not ended but had just begun. A military revolt broke out in May. Fairfax and Cromwell took the field against the rebellion in person; the revolutionaries had to be struck down before they could make contact with other regiments.

The life and death of Henk Sneevliet, Dutch Internationalist

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Leon Trotsky once said that the small revolutionary movement he led was like the apex of an inverted social pyramid, upon which the whole weight of capitalist society pressed down. Hounded and murdered by fascists and Stalinists, the Trotskyists suffered terrible casualties during and immediately after the Second World War, all across Europe, from France to Greece. The politics of independent working class socialism, which the Trotskyists represented, was everywhere defeated.

Tributes to the memory of Henk Sneevliet, founder of the Indonesian Communist Party, by Max Shachtman and by an unknown fellow-prisoner of Sneevliet when he was captured and killed by the Nazis in World War 2

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Richard Franklin Pettigrew and the Fight Between Democracy and Plutocracy in the USA

Author: 

George Novack
The real traditions of plebeian democracy in the United States, since the Civil War, have been bound up with mass struggles against Big Business. Many anti-monopolist battles have been waged under the banner of democracy by movements and individuals apart from the tendencies inspired and guided by Marxism.

Recent converts to capitalist “free enterprise” glorify this system of robber rule as the foundation of American democracy. However, the real traditions of plebeian democracy in the United States, especially since the Civil War, have been bound up with the mass struggles against Big Business. Many anti-monopolist battles have been waged under the banner of democracy by movements and individuals apart from the tendencies inspired and guided by Marxism.

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