“We were the people who were not in the papers. We lived
For every victory there is a defeat, and History is littered with them on both sides of the political divide. More often than not, it is the Left (in its most general sense) that loses out. There is even a phrase for it, Walter Benjamin's "Left melancholia", to describe resignation to the inevitable defeat of the oppressed by the oppressor. But the subjects discussed here have not been chosen because they are of the Left. In some cases, the term is meaningless. In others, it is the status quo which is defeated. And the choices are, in any case, based on very personal criteria.
I wanted a broad spectrum of historical time, so the subjects of this project were born in different eras: from the first century BCE to the 20th century.
I wanted them to be motivated by different needs and ambitions, so these are driven by religion, politics, desperation; sometimes all three.
I wanted them to come from different classes, so we have a variety of backgrounds, from slaves to bourgeoisie, from clerics to kings, from poets to philosophers.
And I wanted them to be different, to be representative primarily of themselves. (The exceptions to this are the adjacent chapters on the Weather Underground and the Baader-Meinhof Group, but although the parallels are pronounced, there is sufficient difference between them to justify individual inclusion.)
Ultimately, of course, they must all have failed in their objectives, to be a lost cause, to have been defeated.
And history to the defeated
May say Alas but cannot help or pardon.
Each of the following titles is a link (which may be a quicker form of navigation than the contents header). They are, in order of appearance:
Spartacus and the Third Servile War
Harold and the Anglo-Saxons
Béatrice de Plannissoles and the Cathars
John Ball and the Pesantry
Robert Catesby and the Gunpowder Plot
John Lilburne and the Levellers
Ned Ludd and the Luddites
Louis Blanqui and the Paris Commune
John Cornford and the Spanish Civil War
Oswald Mosley and the British Union of Fascists
Bernadine Dohrn and the Weather Underground
Ulrike Meinhof and the Red Army Fraction