Material on L.A. Motler (from Macnab, Gulston’s 1948 “South African Poetry: A New Anthology”

This is material dealing with the anarchist Leonard Augustine Motler, a British immigrant to South Africa, who was also linked to the local Communist Party. More on Motler here and here. This material is from a 1948 poetry anthology.

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(Ironically, the anthology had a foreword by then-famed South African poet Roy Campbell. Campbell, a conservative, authoritarian and anti-modernist English-speaking white South African who said he “cannot imagine what meaning such words as ‘rights’, ‘progress’, ‘freedom’ and ‘liberty’ have.” Campbell supporting General Francisco Franco’s forces against the anarchist-led Spanish Revolution of 1936-1939, and lived in Spain from 1934. He was a war correspondent with Franco’s forces, lived in Fascist Italy form 1938-1939 where he praised Franco’s forces in a long poem, The Flowering Rifle, returned to Spain to attend Franco’s 1939 Victory Parade,  and moved to Portugal in 1952, another semi-fascist dictatorship. More on this character can be found in e.g. Mayte Gómez, 2007, “Soldier of Franco, Soldier of Christ: Roy Campbell and Spain in the 1930s,” English in Africa, 34 (1): 21-41).

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About Lucien van der Walt

I teach at Rhodes University, the Eastern Cape. I’m South African, born and bred. I am currently also involved in union education and have a background in social movement and left-wing activism, the Workers’ Library and Museum, the Anti-Privatisation Forum, and the National Health and Allied Workers Union (NEHAWU). I’ve presented papers at more than 120 conferences and workshops, published in key journals like 'Capital and Class' and 'Labor History', have co-edited 3 journal specials (these on global labour history, African labour, and unions in the Global South), and written well over 130 other articles, papers and entries. I was Southern Africa editor for the 2009 'International Encyclopaedia of Revolution and Protest' (Blackwell). My focus has been on South Africa, but I have also done research in Zambia and Zimbabwe. I won the 2008 international 'Labor History' thesis prize, and the 2008/2009 Council for the Development of Social Science Research prize for best African dissertation, for my PhD thesis on South African anarchism, syndicalism and black militants. I have several books, including 'Negro e Vermelho: anarquismo, sindicalismo revolucionário e pessoas de cor na África Meridional nas décadas de 1880-1920,' 'Anarchism and Syndicalism in the Colonial and Postcolonial World, 1880-1940: the praxis of national liberation, internationalism, and social revolution' (co-edited with Steve Hirsch, Brill, 2010/ 2014) and 'Black Flame: the revolutionary class politics of anarchism and syndicalism' (co-written with Michael Schmidt, AK Press 2009).