From the Bookshelf

Collectif d’édition Smolny

BOUKHARINE, OSSINSKI, RADEK, SMIRNOV : La Revue Kommunist (Moscou, 1918) Les communistes de gauche contre le capitalisme d’État

Collectif d’édition Smolny, 2011. Texts translated from Russian into French by Julia Gousseva

408 p. Paperback, 14 x 21 cm, €20,-. ISBN 978-2-9528276-3-8.

Helen Caldicott

Crisis Without End. The Medical and Ecological Consequences of the Fukushima Nuclear Catastrophe

The New Press (New York), 2014

256 p. Hardcover 5.5 x 8.25 in, $26.95. ISBN 978-1-59558-960-6.

Philippe Bourrinet

The Dutch and German Communist Left (1900-68). Neither Lenin nor Trotsky nor Stalin!’ – ‘All Workers Must Think for Themselves!’

Brill (Leiden/ Boston), 2016

639 p. Hardback, incl. 52 (color) illustrations, €210/$252. ISBN 978-90-04-26977-4.

Documents of the historical communist Left: The revue Kommunist (Moscow, 1918)

On its web page the Communist Workers’ Organisation (CWO) has started to publish separate articles from the revue Kommunist, issued by the left fraction of the Moscow party bureau (Bolsheviks) in the Spring of 1918. (1)

As it appears, this laudable effort is part of a wider project to integrally translate the whole of the four issues from the French language edition of Kommunist, as published by the Smolny editorial Collective from Toulouse in December 2011, into English.

A presentation of this book (cf. Infra), including large extracts from its preface, is available on the English language section of the Controversies web site: “Bukharin, Ossinski, Radek, Smirnov – The Revue KOMMUNIST (Moscow 1918). The left communists against state capitalism.” H.C.

Helen Caldicott: Crisis Without End, The New Press, New York, 2014

The Medical and Ecological Consequences of the Fukushima Nuclear Catastrophe

In its summer edition of 2016, the bulletin Echanges has published a French translation of a speech delivered at a colloquium at the New York Academy of Medicine on 11 and 12 March 2013: “Seventy Years of Radioactive Risks in Japan and America”. (2) This speech is one of the contributions included in a volume on the consequences of the Fukushima nuclear catastrophe of March 2011, following the Tohōku Earthquake and the subsequent Tsunami that struck the North-Eastern coast of Japan’s main island: ‘Crisis Without End’. The volume was edited by Helen Caldicott and published by The New Press, New York, in 2014.

The Free Retriever encourages the readers of this digest to take notice of the tenacious efforts by scientists to trace and analyze the impact and consequences of this catastrophe, and likes to draw attention to the publisher’s book presentation:

“On the second anniversary of the Fukushima disaster, an international panel of leading medical and biological scientists, nuclear engineers, and policy experts assembled at the prestigious New York Academy of Medicine. A project of the Helen Caldicott Foundation and co-sponsored by Physicians for Social Responsibility, this gathering was a response to widespread concerns that the media and policy makers had been far too eager to move past what are clearly deep and lasting impacts for the Japanese people and for the world. This was the first comprehensive attempt to address the health and environmental damage done by one of the worst nuclear accidents of our times.

The only document of its kind, ‘Crisis Without End’ represents an unprecedented look into the profound aftereffects of Fukushima. In accessible terms, leading experts from Japan, the United States, Russia, and other nations weigh in on the current state of knowledge of radiation-related health risks in Japan, impacts on the world’s oceans, the question of low-dosage radiation risks, crucial comparisons with Chernobyl, health and environmental impacts on the United States (including on food and newborns), and the unavoidable implications for the U.S. nuclear energy industry.”

A brief comment from a history of science point of view: Kevin Kamps’ pervasive account of the track record of dangerous accidents, immanent failures and criminal neglect in the nuclear industry, both in the USA and Japan, shows an erroneous attribution of the first human induced nuclear fission. According to a footnote, the first artificial nuclear chain reaction would have been brought about “in a laboratory at the university of Chicago in 1942, under the direction of Enrico Fermi.” In reality, it is more adequate to say that it resorted from the experiments conducted by Otto Hahn and Fritz Strassmann at the end of 1938 in the chemical laboratories of the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute at Berlin.

A revealing account of the intriguing history of this eminent and fateful scientific discovery, emphasizing the long obscured leading role of the (then exiled) theoretical physicist Lise Meitner, can be found in a well documented biographical Wikipedia article on the latter. H.C.

Philippe Bourrinet: The Dutch and German Communist Left (1900-68), Brill, Leiden/Boston, 2016.

At the end of last year, finally the long awaited second, authorized, edition of Philippe Bourrinet’s political-organizational history of the German-Dutch communist Left has appeared in Brill’s Historical Materialism Book Series. We quote from the publisher’s presentation:

“The Dutch-German Communist Left, represented by the German KAPD-AAUD, the Dutch KAPN and the Bulgarian Communist Workers Party, separated from the Comintern (1921)on questions like electoralism, trade-unionism, united fronts, the one-party state and anti-proletarian violence. It attracted the ire of Lenin, who wrote his Left Wing Communism, An Infantile Disorder against the Linkskommunismus, while Herman Gorter wrote a famous response in his pamphlet Reply to Lenin. The present volume provides the most substantial history to date of this tendency in the twentieth-century Communist movement. It covers how the Communist left, with the KAPD-AAU, denounced ‘party communism’ and ‘state capitalism’ in Russia; how the German left survived after 1933 in the shape of the Dutch GIK and Paul Mattick’s councils movement in the USA; and also how the Dutch Communistenbond Spartacus continued to fight after 1942 for the world power of the workers councils, as theorised by Pannekoek in his book Workers’ Councils (1946).”

A book review from a council communist point of view by Fredo Corvo: Council communism or councilism? – The period of transition, criticizes the ambient reception, in the internationalist milieu in general and by Bourrinet as well, of the Dutch Group(s) of International Communists (3) as ‘councilist’ – thereby implicitly denying the group’s designation as communist – and as ‘economist’ – for reasons of its adherence to labor time vouchers as an indispensable means by which the associated producers can establish their control over the economic dynamic of a society that sets out on the abolition of wage labor.

The full text of this critique is available for download from Fredo’s blog on ‘Libcom’ and from the “Left Wing” Communism – an infantile disorder? website. On page 10 of this issue we publish its introduction, in order to encourage reading in view of taking up the debate on long standing, fundamental issues of the period of transition towards communism. H.C.

2 Soixante-dix ans de risques radioactifs au Japon et aux États-Unis – Text by Kevin Kamps (Beyond Nuclear) published in Echanges n°156 (summer 2016).

3 G.I.C., 1927 – 1940.