Anarchists in the Gulag (and prison and exile)

Bolshevik repression of anarchists after 1917

Posts Tagged ‘Kate Sharpley Library

Pano Vassilev’s ‘The Soviets idea’ – call for help

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Pano Vassilev’s ‘The Soviets idea’ was published in Sofia in 1933. It’s an anarchist analysis of the origins of Soviets, and how anarchists related to them in the revolutions of 1905 and 1917.
It is in three chapters:
1, The Soviets idea not a Bolshevik notion
2, Precise origin and historical development of the Soviets idea
3, Appearance and evolution of the councils idea in Russia and the anarchists’ relationship with it.

The Kate Sharpley Library has a neatly-handwritten translation of ‘The Soviets idea’ which we have scanned and put online. We are now asking for help in typing it up. You can see the PDF files and add to the text at

A brief biography of Vassilev is available at


Written by gulaganarchists

19, December 2013 at 10:03 am

July 2012 Kate Sharpley Library bulletin online

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Written by gulaganarchists

20, July 2012 at 10:08 am

Posted in Sources / Links

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Exiled Russian anarchist portraits in Amsterdam

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The International Institute of Social History in Amsterdam has a set of portraits of exiled Russian anarchists from the Fléchine (Senya Fleshin) collection. (And an exiled Italian anarchist, Ghezzi.)

Details of the Fléchine collection are here:

Details of the collection of portraits are here:

These photos are housed at the International Institute of Social History, and they’d like a copy of any print publications they appear in (for their library). The initial identification work was done by the Kate Sharpley Library.

Can you put names of any other faces?

Written by gulaganarchists

2, July 2011 at 8:20 pm

The Kate Sharpley Library Then, Now and Next: An Interview with Barry Pateman

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Hello, Barry. How and when did you get involved with the Kate Sharpley Library?
I first visited the KSL in 1983/1984. I had been around the edges (and probably too involved) of some rather intense disagreements about anarchism and anarchist practice. I had become aware that within anarchism there were numerous histories and practices and I wanted to find out more. At the time the Library was in a squat in St Georges’ Residences in Brixton. Col Longmore and Ineke Frencken had done a magnificent job in rescuing and organizing it. I vividly remember looking at some small fliers advertising meetings on supporting Spanish exiles in the nineteen forties and reading copies of “Direct Action” from the same period. Something changed in me. I became an obssessive seeker of anarchist papers, books, pamphlets, ephemera etc. I wanted, in retrospect, to keep them alive in some way. I also visited the British Library, LSE, Warwick etc just reading in the archives there. All the time, though I was bothered that much of our history was in state hands and not within easy access of many of us. It is still not that easy to be an “independent” scholar and access these materials. Above all I could not understand why “prominent” anarchists gave their material to state or private universities and not keep them within the movement – or at least make sure that copies were made of everything so it was with us and hopefully, a little more accessible. I came back full circle then to appreciate the KSL and the work they were doing. It was labour intensive and hardly full of glamour but it was, I felt, vital.

And what happened next?
So my idea was always to, eventually, donate all the stuff I was collecting to KSL, once it had found a more secure home. Then, I think in 1991, I learnt from Albert Meltzer that the KSL was in search of a new home. I was living in Stamford [near Peterborough] at the time and, I guess, did just about have room for it and I volunteered. I cannot say my Mrs was too happy as we arrived with a minibus full of boxes (twice!!) but she put on a fixed smile and made some coffee. She did mutter loudly, I remember. As far as I can recall I was very intimidated by both the sheer amount and the responsibility of having it in our house. Feelings I have never lost, alongside the excitement of it all.

When you took it on, did the library fill a spare room? The whole house? And what sort of material did it already contain?
The Library filled up one room with boxes and I put others on the floor, on tables etc. Initially I began to sort what I could. English language books, papers, newspapers, pamphlets, correspondence, ephemera in one place etc. Other languages all grouped together as well. As I did this I chatted to Albert about future plans. He was very keen on KSL becoming a little publishing house by publishing some of the material it had. Col and Ineke had produced some nice Bulletins and he was keen to make these a regular feature. That was the genesis of the Bulletin of the KSL. The first publication, while I was still unpacking(!!), was George Cores’ “Personal Recollections of the Anarchist Past” which he took from George’s manuscript. Meanwhile I had chatted to Albert, I think, about changing the emphasis of the KSL. When it arrived it had considerable amounts of anarchist historical material in it. It also had material that anarchists could use – health and safety regulations etc; standard histories of Fascism; books about various aspects and periods of history etc, etc. From my own searching I had become to realise there was so much material by and about anarchists that I felt KSL should concentrate on that. I should say that, at that time, I did not realise just how much there was!! Putting it simply KSL should exist for the collection and diffusion of our history. I had begun to sense that the narrative of anarchist histories and ideas were complex ones and we had only begun to scrape the surface of it. Albert was much further ahead of me in that regard.

“Albert was much further ahead of me” – can you expand on that?Albert knew that anarchism was not just Kropotkin or Stirner, or whoever. It was the putting into practice of it all that was important. He knew that this could be done by people who had only a bare knowledge (if any!!) of our major writers and thinkers. He also knew that histories of anarchism excluded countless people who had been instrumental in its development and changes. Because these people often did not write theory or were prominent speakers they were ignored. He also knew that, among anarchists, anarchist history could be a history of bitter contention and was as partial as any history. He was reading accounts of his times in anarchism that, to him, were not particularly accurate. Ironically of late that has begun to happen to me, leaving me to wonder if I have forgotten lots of things, or just not been aware. So all this I sensed.

How has the Library changed since you took it on? I assume it’s now larger?
The most obvious change in the Library is its sheer size. It has grown exponentially. Friends and Comrades have donated material, we have bought an awful lot and, as a result, it is massive. You think you know most of the stuff that is out there, yet, everyday, we are constantly coming across material, or references to it, that we have never heard of. It’s mostly, all shelved now, or in archive boxes. That helps!! A major difference is that we have accepted that we are an archive. Our job is not just to collect, but to preserve as well. There are not that many Latvian anarchist papers around from the 1900s. We do well to make sure they survive. Consequently much of out time and money (always money) goes into archival preservation material – archive folders, acid free folders, acid free mylar envelopes for our pamphlets etc etc. I was amazed just how much all this stuff costs. We have saved up to buy some acid free boxes. Damn someone is making money somewhere!!

Can you hazard a guess at how many books the library now contains? Or how many minibuses it would fill?
We have over two thousand books, three thousand pamphlets and over two thousand periodicals – and that is in the English language alone. We have large French, Italian and Spanish sections, as well as publications in most languages, including Esperanto. I cannot even begin to assess the amount of anarchist ephemera we have. You would need a few pantechnicons now!!

In KSL: Bulletin of the Kate Sharpley Library No. 63-64, October 2010 [Double issue]

Written by gulaganarchists

18, October 2010 at 6:19 pm

New publication: The Third Revolution?: Peasant and worker resistance to the Bolshevik government

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The Third Revolution?: Peasant and worker resistance to the Bolshevik government
by Nick Heath

The Makhnovist movement of the Ukraine is the best known of the revolutionary oppositions to the Bolshevik regime. But it was not the only radical challenge the Bolsheviks faced from below. Numerous peasants revolts occurred in the years 1920-22, aiming not to restore the old regime but calling for a third revolution to defend themselves from the new one. Nick Heath here examines their extent, causes and limitations.

Introduction : The Third Revolution? Peasant and worker resistance to the Bolshevik government
The West Siberian uprising (1921-1922)
1920: The Sapozhkov Uprising and the Army of Truth
The Fomin mutiny on the Don, 1920-1922
1921: The Maslakov mutiny and the Makhnovists on the Don
Brova, Mikhail or Brava aka Batko Brova, ?-1921
The Kolesnikov Uprising
Workers Revolts against the Bolshevik regime
Lamanov, Anatoli Nikolaevich 1889-1921
(These articles were originally posted in the library.

Nick Heath became an anarchist in 1966 by reading books on anarchism in the public library. He helped set up Brighton Anarchist Group (1966-1972) and went to Paris in early 70s for a year and participated in the anarchist movement there. Now a member of the Anarchist Federation, he’s the author of large number of biographical articles about anarchists as well as articles on the Hungarian Revolution, the Makhnovists etc.
The cover art features Roberto Ambrosoli’s Anarchik.

The Third Revolution?: Peasant and worker resistance to the Bolshevik government
by Nick Heath
ISBN 9781873605950  Anarchist Sources #14
£3 or £2 for direct orders.

Kate Sharpley Library
BM Hurricane, London, WC1N 3XX, UK
PMB 820, 2425 Channing Way, Berkeley CA 94704, USA

Pamphlet page:

Also out now
KSL: Bulletin of the Kate Sharpley Library, Number 63-64 (double issue)
The Kate Sharpley Library Then, Now and Next: An Interview with Barry Pateman
Mat Kavanagh and the History of Anarchism
Some little known anarchists: James Harrigan by Mat Kavanagh
Liverpool Anarchists in the Early 1980’s
Love, Sacrifice and Revenge by Diego R. Barbosa
Chatting on the Phone with Miquel Mir (22 April 2010) by Agustín Guillamón
Free Francesco Ghezzi From Bolshevist Inferno by The Anarchist Prisoners Defense and Aid Committee of America [1930 or 31]
Commander Bomb Explodes [Stoke Newington Eight Trial]
Class War in Barcelona: “Anarchism and the City: Revolution and Counter-revolution in Barcelona, 1898–1937” by Chris Ealham [Review] by Bookunin

subscription info:

Bulletin issues:

Written by gulaganarchists

15, October 2010 at 8:26 am

New Kate Sharpley Library blog

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The rumoured Kate Sharpley Library blog has now appeared. It “will share, notes, news, and more. It is a special place to share information from the archive that you might not find anywhere else.”

The first entry is an article on Mat Kavanagh and the History of Anarchism. It’s partly about how movements record their history, but also about what we miss if we only focus on the ‘big names’ of anarchism.

Written by gulaganarchists

10, September 2010 at 8:30 am