Research

Radical history online – a list of collections

I am very interested in the growing amount of radical literature from around the world that is being scanned and digitised. As there are so many and from many different places, I thought it would be useful to make a list. All of those that are included are free to access (there are others that require some form of subscription). If there are any that I have missed, do let me know, either by commenting below or sending me an email.

African Communist

AKP M-L Historie (Norwegian Maoism)

Amiel and Melburn Trust Internet Archive

Anarchist Library

Anglo-Soviet Journal

Anti-Apartheid Movement

Anti-Fascist Action

Archibald Gorrie collection (Leicester centred activism)

Assorted Soviet stuff

Assorted communist stuff (via Socialist Truth – Cyprus)

Australian Left Review

Australian Marxist Review

Banned Thought (collection of global Maoist literature)

Big Flame

Black Liberation Front (UK black power)

Black Panther Party

Broadsheet (NZ feminist magazine)

British Pabloism

Bulgarian Politburo Archive

Bulletin of the 1955 Bandung Conference

Comintern Online Archive

Communist Review (Australia)

Communist Party of Australia pamphlets (from State Library of Victoria)

Daily Worker (USA)

De Waarheid (paper of the Dutch Communist Party)

Die Rote Fahne (paper of the German Communist Party)

Digital Innovation South Africa (including Communist Party and ANC material, as well as Searchlight South Africa)

Direct Action (IWW Australia)

Documents in Revolutionary Socialism in Canada

Early American Marxism 

East London Big Flame

Entdinglichung (German left history)

Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism!

Freedom archive (US and international material from 1960s-80s)

Freedom newspaper (London)

Gay Left

High Times (Australia)

Independent Voices (US Alternative Press archive)

Industrial Worker (US IWW newspaper)

International Labour and Radical History Pamphlet Collection (Canada focused)

International Socialist (Australian newspaper 1910s)

International Times

Israeli Left Archive

Iranian Left Archive

Irish Democrat

Irish Left Archive

Joseph A. Labadie Collection (radical documents with US focus)

Koori History

La Bataille Socialiste (French)

Labour Monthly

Labor Star (British Columbia)

Libcom

Library of the Free (German anarchist focus)

Living Marxism (RCP)

Mao Projekt (German far left)

Marxism Today

Marxists InternetArchive

Movimento Reorganizativo do Partido do Proletariado (Portguese Maoism)

Oz (Sydney)

Oz (London)

Partit Socialista Unificat de Catalunya

Political and Rights Issues and Social Movements collection

Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine historical documents

Radical America

Reason in Revolt

Reassembler, diffuser les archives de révolutionnaries (French Trotskyist archive)

Red Action

Red Army Faction

Red Mole Rising

Revolution (Australia)

Revolutionary Communist Group publications

Revolutionary Democracy (Indian Stalinism)

Rise Up! (Canadian feminist archive)

Rudé Právo (paper of the Czech Communist Party)

Socialisme ou Barbarie

Socialist Standard Past & Present  (SPGB)

Solidarity! Revolutionary Center and Radical Library (US)

Soviet Photography

Spare Rib

Sparrow’s Nest (UK anarchist and Nottingham centred activism)

Spirit of Revolt (Scottish anarchism)

Splits and Fusions (British Trotskyist history)

Tandana (Asian Youth Movement)

The Communist (Australia)

The Communist (USA)

The Digger (Australia)

The Leninist

The Living Daylights (Australia)

Toronto Committee for the Liberation of Southern Africa

Tyneside Anarchist Archive

University of Alberta World Communism in the 20th Century Collection

Wits Historical Papers (includes material on Communist Party of South Africa and ANC)

Workers’ Star (Communist Party of Australia – Perth newspaper)

Workers’ Weekly (Australia)

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New post at History & Policy on controlling Cypriot migration to UK

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History and Policy has published an opinion piece by Andrekos Varnava and I on our research into the controlling of Cypriot migration to the UK in the 1920s-30s. It is based on our article in English Historical Research last year and some of the research we have been doing as part of our ARC project on border control in Britain and Australia. You can read the piece here.

Precarity and overwork in academia

In December last year, I stopped work on all of my research projects. The following week, I compromised with myself and said no primary research (reading archival documents) or writing for the next month, only secondary source reading. I had one conference paper to present at the end of January, so for the week leading up to that, I got back into the swing of things slowly and wrote a 2,500 word paper, but nothing more. For a co-authored piece that needed revising, I asked my co-author to take the lead. I said no to working on a project with a colleague that had an interim deadline of February 2018 (then a major deadline of June). I declined a request to submit an article for a special issue.

For me, this was really hard. A combination of a slightly obsessive personality and the academic culture of ‘publish or perish’ had meant that for nearly decade, I had been unable to switch off. Thinking, researching, writing, publicising, engaging – every waking hour saw academic research creep into my consciousness. Over the past few years, I had been, for all intents and purposes, quite prolific in my field (history), with books, edited collections, articles and book chapters published as both single author and co-authored pieces.

However, my employment was precarious. A series of longer and shorter fixed-term contracts, as well as bouts of casual teaching and research work, meant that I had had to publish profusely in order to be competitive, while doing work for others, writing job applications and sometimes working outside of academia in a 9-to-5 job. This means that except for a 3-year window, all of my research over the past decade had been done in my own time. This is, of course, on top of all the normal life stuff, such as family and friends. During this time, my very understanding partner and I had two children and moved three times.

My experience is far from unique. Informal discussions with my colleagues in Australia, as well as overseas, has revealed that the pressures of publishing and maintaining an active research profile, while at the same time working casually or in a fixed-term position, are felt by many. Overwork by those in precarious work and at the edges of academia is very much the norm.

And it comes as a huge price for those experiencing this, as well as academia as a whole. For many, the pressure, the anxiety and the relentlessness of it is too much. Burnout and disillusionment is a regular occurrence for many of those academics not in permanent employment. While some kind of permanency doesn’t absolve academics of all the pressures they face, those working in casual or fixed-term employment are amongst the most vulnerable.

For my own mental health, I resolved myself to saying no to things and pushing back against both internal and external pressures to publish. However this culture is not something that individuals can overcome by themselves. Institutional pressures may be internalised by the individual, but the solution can’t just be personal resilience. We must recognise that overwork and the compulsion to constantly be working is pervasive within academia. Furthermore, it is those at the margins of academia who are possibly most likely to be unable to resist these compulsions, especially if the outputs of this overwork are held up as desirable for permanent employment. In no way do I put any blame for this on the individual – overwork and the internalisation of this culture is not their fault. There’s enough to feel bad about without the burden of feeling that you need to just absorb the pressure.

Nothing I have written above is new and I certainly don’t have the solutions to this. A discussion of overwork and the pressures on early career researchers and other academics in precarity seems to be emerging in academic circles, particularly after the USS strike in the UK. I just thought I’d publicise my own story and my own struggle with overwork and the internalisation of the ‘publish or perish’ mentality. The more we talk about these issues, the more we can talk about their solutions.

Solidarity with my precarious comrades!

Archives of political extremism in Australia: A short guide

Recently I was emailed asking about the archives of the political extremes in Australia and what archives had I come across in my research. I sent the following reply, which I think is a concise (but obviously not complete) survey of the various collections around the country. I thought others might be interested, so enjoy!

CPA ML

For my research on Australian political extremism, the predominant archival sources are those of the Communist Party of Australia. The Mitchell Library in Sydney has the largest collection of materials belonging to the CPA and the Aarons brothers, as well as a number of other CPA members. The University of Melbourne also has a substantial archive of CPA material, as well as that of Bernie Taft, Ralph Gibson and George Seelaf. UQ has a smaller collection of CPA material.

The Noel Butlin Archives at ANU has a wider labour movement collection, donated by several academics and labour groups. The National Library of Australia has some records relating to different radicals, such as Guido Baracchi, and Ralph and Dorothy Gibson.

The State Library of Victoria has digitised over 100 CPA pamphlets, which can be viewed via their catalogue and Trove has digitised the newspapers of the CPA until the mid-1950s.

There is a website called Reason in Revolt which has digitised a bunch of Australian radical materials, but it is far from complete and needs updating. But it does have extensive copies of the materials of the various Trotskyist groups in Australia, especially the ISO and the SWP/DSP.

The Encyclopaedia of Anti-Revisionism Online has the best materials relating to Maoism in Australia, sharing some with the Reason in Revolt page. The current CPA has an archive of the Socialist Party of Australia’s Australian Marxist Review journal back to the 1970s.

On the other side of the extremes, there is little on the Australian far right outside of the National Archives of Australia’s security files. There are papers dedicated to the New Guard in the Mitchell Library, as well as at the NAA. Former ALP and anti-communist activist Frederick Riley has two collections – one at the NLA and one at the SLV, but these are quite wide and varied. UQ also has a collection of material relating to the Australian League of Rights, as part of the papers of Jack Harding and Raphael Cilento. At this stage, the Searchlight archive at the University of Northampton (UK) might have the best collection of post-1945 Australian far right material, other than the declassified ASIO files.

Obviously there are other archives and resources that I have missed. If you can suggest any, please comment below!

Some highlights from the CIA’s recent document dump online

This week, the Central Intelligence Agency uploaded more than 12 million documents onto its online library, allowing access to previously unavailable declassified material ranging from the 1940s to the 1990s. There is a lot of interesting material for researchers to wade through, but here are some of my initial highlights:

  1. A 1949 report on the communist movement in Australia.
  2. A 1949 report on the communist movement in New Zealand
  3. A June 1956 report on the fall out amongst Western Communist Parties after Khrushchev’s Secret Speech in February 1956
  4. A 1957 report on Titoism and World Communism
  5. A 1958 report on the Afro-Asian Solidarity Conference held in Cairo in 1957 (just after the Suez Crisis).
  6. A 1976 report on the emerging ‘Democratic Kampuchea’ regime in Cambodia
  7. A 1981 report on the states that supported terrorist movements in Europe and North Africa/Middle East
  8. Two reports on the African National Congress and the South African Communist Party from July and November 1983
  9. A 1984 report on the relationship between Australian Labor Prime Minister Bob Hawke and the trade union movement.
  10. A 1985 report on terrorism in Western Europe

These are just the tip of the metaphorical iceberg, so if there’s any documents you think are particularly interesting, leave a comment below and I might try to compile a further list soon.

New article published in TCBH on CPGB and gay rights

This is just a quick post to let everyone know that Daryl Leeworthy and I have just had an article published in Twentieth Century British History journal on the Communist Party of Great Britain and gay rights. The title of the article is ‘Before Pride: The Struggle for the Recognition of Gay Rights in the British Communist Movement, 1973-85′ and is available here.

Here’s the abstract:

This article examines the role of the Communist Party of Great Britain (CPGB) and its youth wing, the Young Communist League (YCL), in the advancement of gay rights in the 1970s and 1980s. Although the CPGB was the first major organization of the British labour movement—and the British left—to advance a policy of gay rights, its participation in the gay liberation movement has tended to be neglected by scholars. In contrast to the general perception of the CPGB in the last decade (or so) of its existence as a party of declining influence and cohesion, easily ignored by the mainstream of the labour movement, we argue that the embrace of gay rights provided communists with a means of pushing for a diversification of labour politics. This coalesced in the mid-1980s with the co-founding of Lesbians and Gays Support the Miners (LGSM) by the communist activist Mark Ashton. With the recent scholarly and public interest in the LGSM and its impact upon the Labour Party’s attitude to gay rights, this article aims to reveal that the ‘pre-history’ of the group is firmly rooted in the CPGB/YCL and the Eurocommunist section of the British communist movement.

If people cannot access the article, let me know and I can send a pdf.

From Powell to Brexit: My interview with the Weekly Worker on ‘race’, anti-racism and the British left

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This week, the CPGB’s Weekly Worker (see here for more info on its background) conducted an interview with me about my forthcoming book, British Communism and the Politics of Race, as well as on my research in general and the anti-racist movement in Britain since the 1960s. You can read the full interview here. It was an interesting experience and some challenging questions!