13 hours ago
I know I said I was going to review Luxemburg's (Social) Reform or Revolution first, but I was just recently so generously given a copy of this book (which was compiled and edited by Paul Avrich by the way) and I thought I'd give my thoughts while it's still fresh on my mind.
I found this book to be particularly appealing for a few reasons that set it apart from the generally mechanical and linear theory that permeates so much of the first-hand theory I'm so accustomed to reading in Leftist works. (Although, we all know they have their dialectical beauty to them.) These are that while operating generally according to the timeline of real-life events, It manages a certain freedom to it, due to the compiled nature of its essays, poems, accounts, and descriptions which make it, in a way, an avenue to other works, isolated introspection, and a great example of a "revolutionary coffee table book". On top of this, I think we on the radical Left have an underdog mentality which the perspective here is demostrates to the extreme, with it quite literally being a poetic and tragic narrative of the "underdogs to the underdogs" in some of the most pivotal events in the recent and potentially volatile history which so profoundly shapes our lives to this day.
The book begins with a summary of the history of Anarchism and its early introduction to Russian society, from the vector of the libertarian socialist spark, Proudhon, to Bakunin, Kropotkin, and so on, with some figures who had personal correspondence with the events at hand being mentioned later on as well. Then, through the course of the book, it continues to mention everything from ideological outlines among Russia's libertarians (including my very own and dear Syndicalism) to descriptions of major events, such as the Machnoshvista and the Kronstadt Uprising, assorted poems, short essays (by thinkers such as Red Emma Goldman and even the Bread Man Pytor Kropotkin himself), and personal accounts.
Overall, for those looking for a broad overview of this often overlooked section of the historical socialist movement, and who wish for a nice and easy, yet still thought provoking read, I'd recommend it.