Franco’s Prison (1940-1998): ‘Carabanchel – La Otra Orilla’ and ‘Goodbye Carabanchel’ (see FILMS)

 Justice, Prisons, Reportage, repression, Spain  Comments Off on Franco’s Prison (1940-1998): ‘Carabanchel – La Otra Orilla’ and ‘Goodbye Carabanchel’ (see FILMS)
Aug 312010

CARABANCHEL PRISON (Prisión Provincial de Madrid), one of the largest and most notorious prisons in Europe until its closure in 1998, was built between 1940 and 1944 by the slave labour of Franco’s political prisoners. Over the years untold numbers of Franco’s political prisoners were executed here, either by firing squad or by garrotte-vil. The layout followed the panopticon model devised by Liberal reformist Jeremy Bentham in 1785. During the Franco dictatorship (1939-1975) and the subsequent ‘Bunker’ period (1975-1981) when Francoists continued to wield overt political power, the prison hosted a large community of political prisoners. Since then, until its closure, only common criminals  on remand and members of the Basque separatist group ETA and other paramilitary groups remained behind its walls. Although the documentary Franco’s Prison – or La Otra Orilla (see FILMS above) was made (by Adolfo Garijo) sometime in the 1990s, the place hadn’t changed much, structurally anyway, since the 1940s. The final TV news footage – Goodbye Carabanchel – shows the prison’s demolition in October 2008.


The Second Death of José Peirats … or how Enric Ucelay-Da Cal, academic, invented, in a prologue to the Memoirs of José Peirats, a new method of intellectual murder …

 Article, Biography, CNT, Historical, PDF, Reportage, Reviews, South and Central America, Spain, Spanish Revolution/Civil War  Comments Off on The Second Death of José Peirats … or how Enric Ucelay-Da Cal, academic, invented, in a prologue to the Memoirs of José Peirats, a new method of intellectual murder …
Aug 312010

Click on image to read article in English

In 2009 the previously unpublished memoirs of José Peirats (1908-1989), former CNT general secretary and anarchist historian (author of The CNT in the Spanish Revolution, 3 Vols, edited by Chris Ealham, ChristieBooks), were published in Spain in abridged form. They were accompanied by a controversial prologue from Catalan-based historian Enric Ucelay da Cal. While Peirats’ original text was cut, Ucelay’s prologue weighed in at over 100 pages. There are two hallmark’s to Ucelay’s work: his inability to synthesise his ‘ideas’ and his pronounced hostility to anarchism. Peirats, who died in 1989, is unable to respond to this calumny. Instead, we have a rejoinder, in Spanish, to Ucelay from Freddy Gómez Pelaez, editor  of  the French anarchist journal A contretemps, who knew Peirats personally from his time in exile in France. We hope to post an English-language translation of Freddy’s article very soon. PAUL DAVIS

The Second Death of José Peirats at the Hands of Enric Ucelay-Da Cal (PDF in English)

La segunda muerte de José Peirats (PDF)

La segunda muerte de José Peirats (ISSUU)

Hans Ulrich Obrist In Conversation with Raoul Vaneigem – May 2009 (PDF)

 Book, Interviews, libertarian socialism, PDF, Situationism, Society  Comments Off on Hans Ulrich Obrist In Conversation with Raoul Vaneigem – May 2009 (PDF)
Aug 282010

Raoul Vaneigem‘s classic situationist text — Knowing How To Live or The Revolution of Everyday Life – An Illustrated Reader (Part 1) launches a blistering attack on the reduction of western life to boredom, consumerism, fragmentation, sacrifice, packaged ‘happiness’ and meaningless interactions, while all that is vibrant is deported into the illusion of the spectacle. First published in 1967, the text has proved prophetic about life in the 21st century. Vaneigem’s visionary thoughts have inspired generations of free thinkers. This reader is complemented by a ‘spectacular’ set of original photographs.

‘… affluence and its comforts are only the children of capitalist productivity, children doomed to age prematurely as soon as the marketing system has transformed them into mere objects of passive consumption.’

‘We have nothing in common except the illusion of being together. Certainly the seeds of an authentic collective life are lying dormant within the illusion itself – there is no illusion without a real basis – but real community remains to be created.’

Hans Ulrich Obrist In Conversation (May 2009) with Raoul Vaneigem (PDF)

The Case of Delgado and Granado (TV news report) and Public Execution sung by Chicho Sánchez Ferlosio (see FILMS)

 Events, Historical Memory, Interviews, Justice, Music, Protest songs, Reportage, Spain  Comments Off on The Case of Delgado and Granado (TV news report) and Public Execution sung by Chicho Sánchez Ferlosio (see FILMS)
Aug 272010

1) Ejecución Pública sung by Chicho Sánchez Ferlosio (see FILMS above)

Spanish singer songwriter Chicho Sánchez Ferlosio (1940-2003) sings of the agonies of those condemned to be legally murdered. Chicho was a Spanish singer/songwriter of countless well-known songs, many of which were recorded by other artists such as Rolando Alarcón, Joan Baez, Soledad Bravo, Víctor Jara and Quilapayún. Many of his songs such as Gallo rojo, gallo negro, Hoy no me levanto yo, Balada de las Prisiones and A la huelga have passed into popular Spanish culture. Chicho, an anarchist, was the son of Rafael Sánchez Maza,  writer and founder member of  the Falange Española , brother of the author Rafael Sánchez Ferlosio, and brother of the mathematician and philosopher Miguel Sánchez-Mazas Ferlosio.

2) The Case of Delgado and Granado (see FILMS above)

Short TV news report on the campaign to establish the innocence of Joaquin Delgado and Francisco Granado. Includes interviews with Octavio Alberola, the coordinator of the clandestine organisation ‘Defensa Interior‘ dedicated to assasinating the dictator and toppling the regime, and Antonio Martin and Sergio Hernandez, the two anarchists, responsible for the bombs for which Delgado and Granado were executed in August 1963


Aug 262010

Los Espías de Franco (Franco’s Spies) is a fascinating Spanish-language documentary by libertarian film-maker Xavier Montanyá on the role of Franco’s foreign intelligence service operations in France – the Servicio de Información de la Frontera del Norte de España (SIFNE), which, after 1938, changed its name to the Servicio de Informacion Politico-Militar (SIPM). SIFNE was organised and headed by Josep Bertrán i Musito, head of the Catalan somatén, armed parapolitical auxilliaries in the service of the employers and large landowners. Previously, Bertrán i Musito was the architect of pistolerismo, the strategy of murdering  labour activists in the period 1919-1924. (What a pity the CNT defence groups didn’t get the bastard then!) Montanya’s film contains recently-discovered footage which highlights the support Franco received from the Nazi and fascist regimes, and from ultra-right and fascist groups in France such as the Croix-de-Feu and La Cagoule.

Tomando como hilo conductor la actividad de algunos de los principales organizadores, el documental sigue de cerca la historia del político Josep Bertran y Musitu, el abogado José Quiñones de León, Jorge Utrillo, y José Campos. Cuatro perfiles diferentes que van desde el hombre de negocios que se aprovecha de la situación para lucro personal hasta el espía en zona republicana o el aristócrata con buenas relaciones alemanas e italianas. Además y de forma paralela, la producción explica cómo se creó y financió esta red que transmitía información a los nacionales desde lugares estratégicos como la ciudad francesa de Marsella. Desde allí, los espías enviaban información sobre los buques que llegaban a puerto o zarpaban con mercancías y armas para abastecer a los republicanos. Asimismo y gracias a esta ubicación, también podían conocer de primera mano los movimientos de miembros republicanos de interés para el gobierno de Franco en el país vecino.

A wink, a nod … or a shake of the hand — (PDF – ISSUU)

 Article, Freemasonry, Parapolitics, Power elites and brokers, Reportage  Comments Off on A wink, a nod … or a shake of the hand — (PDF – ISSUU)
Aug 252010

Click on image to read article

Following the bizarre ritual murder of Italian banker and Lodge P2 member Roberto Calvi in London in June 1982, London magazine City Limits commissioned me to look at the history and power base of the masonic ‘Brotherhood’. This slightly updated version appeared in The Hastings Trawler in 2006:

If secrecy is to be considered a factor in British politics and commerce then without doubt Freemasonry is one of its principal vehicles. Freemasonry is the largest semi-covert organisation of the western bourgeoisie, with over six million members worldwide sharing a vision of a unified world order bound together through a series of interlocking Masonic alliances. Among the world’s most influential institutions is the United Grand Lodge of England, the mother lodge of Craft Freemasonry, with its headquarters at Freemasons’ Hall in Great Queen Street near Covent Garden. It is here that the wealthy and influential members of the British Establishment meet in conditions of ritual secrecy, ostensibly to listen to lectures on Masonic history and to discuss charitable and other Masonic business. In practice, the Masonic brotherhood constitutes a clandestine network for the defence of the status quo and established privilege, in other words — a mutual aid society for the British ruling class.


No smoke without you, my fire (Edwin Morgan: 1920-2010)

 Obituaries, Poetry, Scotland, Scottish radicals  Comments Off on No smoke without you, my fire (Edwin Morgan: 1920-2010)
Aug 232010

Edwin Morgan - June 2009 (Iain Clark)

I took Edwin’s portrait in June 2009. I had been trying to organise it for a while and had visited him a couple of months earlier to introduce myself and take a look at his room in the care home. He had a nice room, he was surrounded by his books and a few other possessions. He was so gentle and had a strange combination of steeliness and humour in his eyes. It seemed to me that here was a man who had lived a satisfying life and was content to see out his remaining days in peace. Iain Clark

EULOGY by George Reid, 26 August 2010, Glasgow University

IN MEMORIAM – Edwin Morgan (1920-2010) BELLA CALEDONIA

The Da Vinci Con – or L’ Abbé Saunière’s Treasure by Stuart Christie (PDF)

 Book, France, Historical, PDF, Pseudohistory, Reportage, Reviews  Comments Off on The Da Vinci Con – or L’ Abbé Saunière’s Treasure by Stuart Christie (PDF)
Aug 202010

Since the birth of speculative freemasonry in the early 17th century, large numbers of intelligent and otherwise well-informed, sane and sensible people have believed that much of what was happening around them only occurred because it was set in motion by secret societies, the motors of history. Many still believe that virtually everything unpleasant that happens can be attributed to them, and that there is an occult force operating behind the seemingly real facade of public and political life. What has been written so far about the so-called ‘Priory of Sion’ and the ‘Da Vinci Code’ is a monumental example of a view of the world shaped by hocus-pocus and irrationality, and even though it is sometimes amusing, it is always disturbing when intelligent people seriously talk nonsense, taking fiction for reality. As many of these authors have found out to their advantage, it never pays to underestimate people’s credulity. The Da Vinci Code and its successor titles have been translated into more than 40 million languages and sold countless millions of copies worldwide… now read on.

The Da Vinci Con (PDF) Originally published in The Hastings Trawler, April 2006

Miedo a la memoria. Historia de la Ley de “reconciliación y concordia” Presentación por Octavio Alberola y Fèlix Villagrasa

 News  Comments Off on Miedo a la memoria. Historia de la Ley de “reconciliación y concordia” Presentación por Octavio Alberola y Fèlix Villagrasa
Aug 202010

Video presentacion por Octavio Alberola y Felix Villagrasa (see FILMS above)

Como señalan los autores, la historia nos enseña que “apoderarse de la memoria y del olvido es una de las máximas preocupaciones de las clases, de los grupos, de los individuos que han dominado y dominan las sociedades históricas”. De ahí que la memoria institucionalizada por el Poder sea “siempre aquella que más sirve los intereses de la dominación” y que los que dominan “tengan la pretensión de decretar lo que se debe recordar y lo que debemos olvidar”. Un “olvido” que permite al Poder “reelaborar el pasado e instituir la memoria en Historia” para convertir la “amnesia histórica institucional” en “amnesia colectiva”.Luchar contra esta “amnesia” impuesta por la Transición y conseguir la rehabilitación de cuantos sufrieron represión por haber combatido la dictadura franquista fue el objetivo de los colectivos que, a finales de los años noventa, comenzaron a exigir la revisión de las sentencias franquistas. Y también lo fue para los que, a comienzos del 2000, comenzaron a buscar y abrir fosas comunes en las que habían sido sepultadas anónimamente miles de personas fusiladas por los militares facciosos durante la guerra civil.

A partir de ese momento, la recuperación de la memoria histórica y la rehabilitación de las víctimas de la represión franquista se convirtió también en un objetivo para todos los partidos menos el PP; pero no fue hasta el 28 de diciembre de 2007 que, tras publicarse en el BOE, entr ó en vigor la Ley 52/2007, de 26 de diciembre, “por la que se reconocen y amplían derechos y se establecen medidas en favor de quienes padecieron persecución o violencia durante la guerra civil y la dictadura”.

Pero esta Ley, promulgada por un Gobierno socialista, fue finalmente el resultado de un compromiso de mínimos (entre PSOE e IU-ICV) y no satisfizo prácticamente a nadie: ni a los que lucharon por ella ni a los que no la querían. Además, al mantener la escandalosa vergüenza de una Democracia que no se atreve a rehabilitar jurídicamente a las víctimas de la represión franquista, la insatisfacción de los colectivos de víctimas y de memoria histórica es profunda. De ahí que ERC y la propia IU-ICV tengan la intención de mejorarla en la próxima Legislatura para que las víctimas del franquismo no tengan que conformarse con una “rehabilitación” únicamente moral.

Para esta tímida “rehabilitación” han tenido que pasar más de 30 años tras la muerte de Franco. La redacción del texto de Ley ha tardado casi otros tres, siendo objeto de tensas y oscuras transacciones entre el PSOE y los otros partidos. ¿Por qué esta Ley tan tardía y por qué tan tímida? ¿Por qué el PSOE se acobardó y acabó cediendo a las presiones del PP que, desde el principio, se opuso a ella en nombre de la “reconciliación” y la “concordia”?

Miedo a la memoria

ALIENATION – or ‘the ‘Rat-Race’ speech — Jimmy Reid, Glasgow, 1972 (9 July 1932 – 10 August 2010) PDF

 Obituaries, PDF, Scottish radicals  Comments Off on ALIENATION – or ‘the ‘Rat-Race’ speech — Jimmy Reid, Glasgow, 1972 (9 July 1932 – 10 August 2010) PDF
Aug 192010

JIMMY REID, the Glaswegian socialist and union activist who died on 10 August, was a truly inspiring orator. ‘Alienation’ or the so-called  ‘rat-race speech’  he delivered on the occasion of his inauguration as rector of Glasgow University in 1972 was compared at the time to the Gettysburg Address. It has lost little of its relevance today

“Reject the values and false morality that underlie these attitudes. A rat race is for rats. We’re not rats. We’re human beings. Reject the insidious pressures in society that would blunt your critical faculties to all that is happening around you, that would caution silence in the face of injustice lest you jeopardise your chances of promotion and self-advancement. This is how it starts, and before you know where you are, you’re a fully paid-up member of the rat-pack. The price is too high. It entails the loss of your dignity and human spirit. Or as Christ put it, “What doth it profit a man if he gain the whole world and suffer the loss of his soul?”

Inauguration Speech (PDF)