Tuesday, 30 October 2012

Favourable notice of Invergordon pamphlet

The Hob’s Choice feature in Black Flag magazine, No. 235, mid-2012, has as its first item (p.36) a mini-review by Ade Dimmick of  Invergordon 1931. Shipshape and Mutiny Fashion: How they Fought the Pay Cuts. It includes a (slightly mis-transcribed) except from the pamphlet’s Introduction, a brief summary of what it’s about (see earlier posts here) and concludes:-
“The pamphlet is based on the various sources available and is probably one of the best overviews from a libertarian socialist perspective written to date.”

Sources for the pamphlet include:
Anthony Carew, The Lower Deck of the RN, 1900-1939: the Invergordon Mutiny in perspective, Manchester U P, 1981. 

Cover Photograph (Front)
“The crew of HMS Norfolk on strike; Invergordon,  Scotland, 14-15 September 1931. From a snapshot taken by a member of the crew.”


Monday, 22 October 2012

Availability of pamphlets through AK Press and Distribution

Copies of the following SmothPubs pamphlets may now be purchased through  AK Press and Distribution, http://www.akuk.com :
What is Libertarian History? by Liz Willis (2011) 12pp. 90p
Invergordon 1931. Shipshape and Mutiny Fashion: How they Fought the Pay Cuts by Liz Willis (2011). £0.70p
Women in the Spanish Revolution by Liz Willis (Autumn 2010 edition)16pp. £1.00.
These may also be on sale on one or two stalls at the London Anarchist Book Fair on Saturday 27th October: see http://www.anarchistbookfair.org.uk

Bad News for Labour History

In a ‘Statement on status of destruction of archival material Ruskin college’ dated 15 October 2012 historian Dr Hilda Kean tells the sorry tale of how ‘Archive material dating back to the first decades of the twentieth century of the internationally renowned labour movement college, Ruskin College, Oxford has been destroyed and material constituting its radical history has been dispersed. The integrity of the material in the college as an archive of working class history no longer exists. Sadly, this process of destruction and dispersal has not finished.’
‘Although Bishopsgate Institute in London advised the college management that it could take unwanted material in July, the college management did not take up that offer.’
For further details see inter alia http://radicalhitorynetwork.blogspot.com
Whose archive, whose history?       (Comment by L.W.)
There are parallels, obviously, with things happening in other institutions and organisations where mindless authoritarian management rides roughshod over the welfare of people working in them, the needs of those they were intended to serve, and, often, the principles which led to their being set up in the first place. The breath-taking arrogance and ignorance of the Principal’s quoted comments beg the question of how anyone like that was allowed to get into a position to wield such power unchecked, in such a context, but will be horribly not unfamiliar to many who have found themselves working within an admin-heavy hierarchical set-up where corporate newspeak mentality and unquestioning subservience to government policy rule.
On a brighter note, Volunteer students working in the archive instructed to shred labour movement pamphlets acted with the imagination and integrity one expects of the best of the Ruskin tradition. Other material such as pamphlets or ephemera has been squirreled away by staff keen to preserve the past.. .’ Grass-roots spontaneous action has thus achieved some damage limitation at least. Copy that!
Related SmothPubs pamphlet: What is Libertarian History? by Liz Willis (2011) 12pp. 90p/.60p (depending on where purchased).

A new novel set partly in Ladakh

Liz Harris, The Road Back, Choc Lit,  2012. £7.99
It’s not likely that many reviews of self-identified (?-confessed) ‘romantic’ novels will appear on this blog but this one is special. Its inspiration was the same album, compiled by the author’s uncle, which also inspired our Himalayan Encounters pamphlet (see below). Many of the scenes photographed for the album – people as well as places – and described in its notes are visited in the central section of the novel, making for an unusual, perhaps unique, background to a well constructed and effectively told tale. 
This background is perhaps subject to a slight chronological slippage, given that the album with its many authentic details of a vanished way of life dates from the early 1940s, while the two main characters encounter each other about twenty years later, at a time when the region was a bone of contention between India and Pakistan post-partition, not to mention China muscling in. For one thing, it is doubtful whether travel to and within it would have been quite as easy for Brits as it appears here, if indeed it was possible at all.(Politics as such are largely absent, although there is obviously an awareness of imperialist attitudes, culture clashes and other social issues.)  Such pedantic caveats aside, it’s a good read, and an impressive and original first novel,
Related SmothPubs pamphlet: Himalayan Encounters: Ladakh 1944. (Notes on a ‘Trip’ from Srinagar to Khalatse) by Kenneth Behrens.(2011). 20pp. £1.50: pdf here.

UPDATE (June 2017)
A new pdf of the pamphlet with the images is now available