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The ’10 best revolutionaries’ August 31, 2015

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.
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Did anyone see this in yesterday’s Observer. Ed Vulliamy offered his 10 ‘best revolutionaries’. 

Ernesto ‘Che’ Guevara

Maximilien Robespierre

Rosa Luxemburg

Mahatma Gandhi

Toussaint L’Ouverture

Mary Harris ‘Mother’ Jones

James Connolly

Emiliano Zapata

Frantz Fanon

Leon Trotsky

Any additional names that should be in the mix?

Comments»

1. Laochra Uladh - August 31, 2015

Fair play to them for putting Connolly in there.

As far as the “best” goes- how does one rate the “best”?
most success at strategy?
most success in creating a stable and effective government after the revolution?
most moral transition process ie not murdering political and economic enemies)?
most enduring pop culture legacy?
longest lasting political impression?
Most intellectually original?

Just some ideas I think would make a more thought-provoking list.

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WorldbyStorm - August 31, 2015

I can’t even work out Ed V’s rationale, assuming there was one.

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2. Starkadder - August 31, 2015

Spartacus ?

Gerrard Winstanley?

Nat Turner?

Emma Goldman?

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WorldbyStorm - August 31, 2015

I know, once one starts the whole thing begins to break down.

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3. oglach - August 31, 2015

Michael Collins? Rosa Parks? Emma Goldman? Every woman and man who ever stood up for anything? Top ten? It’s not exactly a late-night show punchline or a sport, is it? Thank you for bringing this ridiculous piece of tripe into the light into which it deserves to be shone upon.
Right about Connolly, though.

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4. Starkadder - August 31, 2015

Yet another reason to despair of the CiF section- it’s full of Indian
far-rightists whinging about Gandhi and demanding the Mussolini
and Tojo cheerleader Subhas Chandra Bose should have been
picked instead.

No doubt their Irish counterparts would whinge “Connolly? They picked that Scottish Bolshie instead of a real Irish patriot like Gearóid Ó Cuinneagáin?”

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5. eamonncork - August 31, 2015

The curse of the listicle strikes again. It’s like the team sheets for the Philosophers football match in Monty Python.

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6. Starkadder - August 31, 2015

Worst counter-revolutionaries, i.e. most violent
reactionaries?

A possible list:

Henry le Despenser

Robert Stewart, Viscount Castlereagh

Jefferson Davis & Nathan Bedford Forrest

Tsar Alexander II

Benito Mussolini

A. Mitchell Palmer & J. Edgar Hoover

Adolf Hitler, Heinrich Himmler & Reinhard Heydrich

Corneliu Codreanu

Francisco Franco Bahamonde

Joseph Mccarthy

Hendrik Verwoerd

Augusto Pinochet

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Luke - August 31, 2015

Josef Stalin, surely.

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Starkadder - August 31, 2015

Stalin always claimed to be a man of the political left, though,
which I why I left out the Georgian butcher.

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Starkadder - August 31, 2015

“which is why I left out the Georgian butcher.”

Heck, I need a spellchecker in my browser…

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Starkadder - December 10, 2016

Bit late, but I actually meant Tsar Alexander III there. Alexander the Turd it is.

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Gewerkschaftler - September 1, 2015

And don’t forget Pat Rabbitte.

Ktish – got there first! 🙂

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7. irishelectionliterature - August 31, 2015

Can’t believe Pat Rabbitte didn’t make the list 🙂

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murf - August 31, 2015

Fuck it, I was going to say that 😦

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EWI - September 1, 2015

Comrade Rabbitte is TOO RADICAL for that list.

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8. fergal - August 31, 2015

Bakunin, Kropotkin, Louise Michel, Durruti, Nestor Makhno…libertarians written out of history again…same ole, same ole

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yourcousin - August 31, 2015

Exactly, well put.

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WorldbyStorm - August 31, 2015

Makhno and Durruti +1

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Starkadder - August 31, 2015

Gandhi was in favour of radical decentralisation, though. He’s
discussed at length in the Woodcock and Marshall histories of anarchism as well.

There’s been accusations that Gandhi was racist against
black people (which seem to originate in the hatchet-job
on him by the US neocon Richard Grenier ).

In the book “The Gandhi Reader” by
Homer A. Jack, Gandhi is asked about the
African American issue several times. In one 1930s interview
by the African American activist Howard Thurman.
Gandhi states

“Supposing I was a Negro, and my sister was ravished by a white or lynched by a whole community, what would be my duty?— I ask myself. And the answer comes to me: I must not wish ill to these, but neither must I cooperate with them.”

In another 1930s interview about black Americans, Gandhi
states:

“With right which is on their (blacks) side and the choice of nonviolence as their only weapon if they will make it, a bright future is assured.”

That’s only two quotes out of a huge body of writings, but
it does seem Gandhi was not hostile, but sympathetic
to to the plight of black Americans.

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fergal - September 1, 2015

Agree with you on Gandhi Starkadder, and of course a few people here also mentioned Emma Goldman- yourself included

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Jim Monaghan - September 1, 2015

“But that does not exempt him from criticism. He was gripped by a set of regressive personal fixations and phobias, had a very limited intellectual formation, was impervious to rational argument, and entirely unaware of the damage he was doing to the national movement by suffusing it with Hindu pietism as he reconceived it. He is to be respected, with all his blindness. But there is no need to sentimentalize him. The complete latitude he gave himself to declare as truth whatever he happened to say at any time, and then change it from one day to the next, still as the word of God shining through him, set a disastrous example for his followers and admirers. Nowhere more so than in his inconsistencies on satyagraha itself. For when it suited him, he was perfectly willing to contemplate violence —not only to send Indian peasants to their death on the Somme in the service of their colonial masters, or applaud Indian bombers taking off to conquer Kashmir, but calmly to envisage communal slaughter—‘civil war’— in the subcontinent as preferable to expelling the British. As a historian, one has to take cool stock of all this, not skate over it as Gandhi’s apologists continually do.” from http://www.europe-solidaire.org/spip.php?article26889

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Gewerkschaftler - September 1, 2015

Indeed.

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9. murf - August 31, 2015

Always had an admiration for Victor Serge

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10. Gerryboy - August 31, 2015

Pol Pot was an absolute maniac and cultural destroyer – on the left.
and Mao Tse Tung.

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11. Clive Sullish - August 31, 2015

Interesting that Vulliamy’s list included one Irish-born revolutionary, and two of Irish descent

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Pól - August 31, 2015

I’m guessing you mean one Irish (but Scots-born) and two of Irish descent😉

This list is typically true clickbait of the type that newspaper websites will have to increasingly rely upon to retain some kind of audience; and yet, it’s good to see some people there being ‘praised’, if that’s the right word; recognized, anyway.

I’d also second Emma Goldman, Kropotkin. Given the non-existent criteria I’d also give a shout out to Sacco&Vanzetti, Joe Hill, Eugene Debs and our own Bernadette Devlin.

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12. Clive Sullish - August 31, 2015

No Pól: I meant what I mean. (Mother Jones was born in Cork).

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Pól - September 1, 2015

I sit corrected! I’d forgotten that.

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13. Joe - September 1, 2015

Lenin.

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14. LeftAtTheCross - September 1, 2015

Surely in this era when we’ve moved beyond the tired old politics of Left and Right there should be space in that list for revolutionaries like Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerberg who have done so much to truly revolutionise the lives of so many in a way that the others could only dream of…

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Gewerkschaftler - September 1, 2015

🙂

…Bezos, the Googlies.

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15. Gewerkschaftler - September 1, 2015

Eurocentric but at least there’s Toussaint L’Ouverture.

Why no Asians?

Whatever you may think about Mao and Zhou Enlai they certainly shaped modern Asia. Ho Chi Minh?

What about Simon Bolivar? Arguably more influential in the long term than Che.

Was personally pleased to see Mary Harris Jones and Rosa Luxemburg there.

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16. Mick Hall - September 1, 2015

Giuseppe Garibaldi,
Tom Paine
Tito
Ataturk
Pancho Villa
Victor Serge
Elizabeth Gurley Flynn
John Maclean
Wolf Tone
Alexandra Kollonttai
Oliver Cromwell (I know but he did chop off an English Kings head;)
Nikolay Bukharin
Alexander Sylyapnikov
Leopold Trepper
Ken Loach
Big Bill Haywood

I better stop, I’m enjoying this to much

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17. Mick Hall - September 1, 2015

Closer to home
some might even include Gerry Adams.
Why no Fidel?

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18. Gewerkschaftler - September 1, 2015

If your sticking in Europe what about the religious revolutionaries.

Winstanley (see above) and Thomas Müntzer.

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19. Mick Hall - September 1, 2015

Sorry here again, didn’t the French revolution happen? Danton, Robespierrer etc? Howerver it panned out Napolean certainly changed Europe in a revolutionary manner.

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RosencrantzisDead - September 1, 2015

No Saint-Just? Big omission there.

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20. Paul Wilson - September 1, 2015

Vo Nguyen Giap. Someone who went through the shit personally and led the forces that defeated Imperialism twice.

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Gewerkschaftler - September 1, 2015

Yes, Giáp if one is thinking of revolutionary military commanders.

Defeated the Japanese, the French and the US at the height of its power – truly remarkable.

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21. Paul Wilson - September 1, 2015

And in Literature, our own Ethel Lillian Voynich nee Boole, who wrote for its time the revolutionary The Gadfly.

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22. EWI - September 1, 2015

Thomas Clarke? Without him, there’s no 1916 Rising.

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EWI - September 1, 2015

Or how about Martin Luther King and Malcolm X (time has yet to prove which one was right)? Simon Bolivar? FDR?

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Paul Wilson - September 2, 2015

Simon Bolivar an ongoing project, ALBA is the modern equivelant EWI.

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Gabriel - September 2, 2015

Simon Bolivar has Bolivia named after him. An Irish-origin revolutionary in South America from the early 19th century was Bernardo O’Higgins. Main streets in several countries including Chile are named after him. The government of Chile gratefully erected a bilingual monument to Bernardo and his ancestors in a Sligo square beside the River Garravogue some years ago. Viva Bernardo!

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Gewerkschaftler - September 2, 2015

Indeed there is.

Fascinating family – his father Ambrosio was a from Co Sligo, then a tenant farmer in Co. Meath, then went to South America as essentially an itinerant trader.

He then got jobs as an engineer and rose in the occupying Spanish army until he was made Viceroy of Chile – he was a great organiser & road builder and got on well with the indigenous people, reportedly.

Both generations would make a great historical novel/film.

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eamonncork - September 2, 2015

I always keep an eye out for the results of O’Higgins, the football club based in the mining city of Rancagua. Two seasons ago they won the Chilean League for the first time.

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Gewerkschaftler - September 2, 2015

Flag of the Army of the Andes. in which O’Higgins fils served under the great San Martín as Brigadier.

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Gewerkschaftler - September 2, 2015

Note the Jacobin cap.

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23. Clive Sullish - September 2, 2015

The bones of at least one good table quiz question there, eamonncork

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eamonncork - September 2, 2015

What nobler purpose can one serve?

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Joe - September 2, 2015

EamonnC takes a particular interest in an obscure club in the Chilean league. I wonder what other distractions are followed by Sligo Rovers fans all over Sligo to divert their thoughts from the distressing reality of Rovers’ position in the table?

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eamonncork - September 2, 2015

I find weeping to be a great help.

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eamonncork - September 2, 2015

And also the thought of how Cabinteely, Cobh and Waterford are apparently very nice places to visit.

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sonofstan - September 2, 2015

I guess Cabinteely will be at least a new one. Miss Waterford myself..

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sonofstan - September 2, 2015

And feel I should apologise for Heary

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eamonncork - September 2, 2015

Good season for Bohs though. And in fairness a lot of the damage was done both pre and post Heary. I think though it’ll be Limerick who go down and Drogheda who end up in a play-off against UCD who’d be very dangerous opposition. Be nice to see Wexford in the top flight.

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24. Rosa Luxemburg, new graphic biography | Dear Kitty. Some blog - November 19, 2015

[…] The ’10 best revolutionaries’ […]

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25. roddy - December 10, 2016

I often wonder do those that sloganise about Che for example ever pause to think what a revolution entails. It means being prepared to kill at the drop of a hat and be prepared to die likewise.Che was ruthless and had to be,dispatching informers and collaborators without any qualms.As someone who lived through it all up here,any sort of conflict is definitely not nice and I hope I never see it again.All those on the list had a just cause ,deserving of support but many of them had to carry out actions that T shirt wearing wannabes would literally shit themselves if asked to carry out.

Liked by 1 person

sonofstan - December 10, 2016

Which is why I shudder at the incoming tide. Social media memes won’t beat them.

Liked by 1 person

WorldbyStorm - December 10, 2016

It is an oddity isn’t it, the dislocation between the reality and the imagery roddy. Agree entirely.

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