DIRECCIONES PARA CONTACTOS E INFORMACIÓN
I READ RECENTLY in the Spanish press that on the eve of your public debate with the PP candidate you voiced – in the presence of volunteers gathered at PSOE headquarters and before an open microphone – your “concern” with “the feeling, primarily affecting people on the left, that nothing is worth the candle, the argument that ‘they have us on the run’ and which leads to formulas such as: voting is not worth the bother; why should we vote?” In the light of predictive polls, which lead one to think that that mind-set – which leads on to abstention or to the floating voter – had become embedded in ‘millions’ of former socialist voters, such concern and loss of morale on your part is quite understandable. Not so understandable, however, is the fact that your loss of morale should prompt you to whinge rather than face up to your responsibilities: “If our people, our voters, are staying at home because they cannot be bothered, then the left really does have a problem.”
Yes, Mr Rubalcaba, it both defies understanding and is dishonest of you to try to blame such failure on the left rather than on your own party, the PSOE and the two governments in which you have featured. For, as you very well know, it is your party the PSOE and the socialist governments of the last two parliaments that are responsible for “millions” of erstwhile socialist voters refusing to vote for you today, and for the fact that all your efforts to harness the votes of leftwing voters to the purposes of your candidacy have come to nothing.
Yes, Mr Rubalcaba, what is held against you — all of you — is not just the anti-social policies implemented by the socialist government during the last parliament, but also your craven refusal to get on with the “complete rehabilitation of the victims of Francoist dictatorship”, to quote the promise you made in 2004 when you announced the setting-up of the Inter-Ministerial Commission for that very purpose. A promise that still remains unhonoured after nearly twelve years of socialist governments, and despite the passing of the 2007 Law that you claimed would achieve that purpose.
Yes, Mr Rubalcaba, not a single one of the verdicts handed down by the Dictatorship’s repressive courts on those who fought for the very freedoms enshrined in the constitution today has yet been overturned. Thousands of victims of shootings, buried in common graves, are still “missing” and not a single official finger is being lifted to recover them. Franco’s remains will continue in the basilica in the Valle de los Caidos, Francoist insignia will remain on display in our streets and squares, and I am to carry on waiting for the Office for Victims of the Civil War and Dictatorship (OVGCD) – set up under the provisions of the “Historical Memory” Law – to get around to issuing me with my certificate as a victim of Francoism that I was told I would receive no later than 10 January 2010, as you are very well aware. This certificate, this ‘piece of paper’ which merely acknowledges that we, the victims of Francoist reprisals, were, in the words of the document, ‘unfairly’ convicted by ‘unlawful courts’, is your way of trying todraw a veil over your cowardly failure to overturn the verdicts handed down by Francoist courts.
Yes, Mr Rubalcaba, not one of these promises has yet been honoured, and there is every indication that there was never any real intention that they would be. It is obvious that Mr Rajoy’s government will not honour them in your place.
So, small wonder then, Mr Rubalcaba, that for the many millions of Spaniards you have taken for a ride over twelve years of socialist government it is now ‘pay-back’ time.
In my own case, Mr Rubacalba, let me make it clear that I do not feel in any way deceived or let down. The PSOE’s policy throughout the ‘transition’ and the policies of socialist governments from Felipe González through to Zapatero, had persuaded me that the Spanish socialists were deferring to the Church, the army and the press. I had no expectation whatsoever that such deference might not carry over into my own case; less still that you should attempt to conceal your abject failure to honour your commitment with grotesque and unworthy excuses for your unprincipled abandoning of the problem, leaving its resolution to the government of the Partido Popular. (PDF and ISSUU)
See ChristieBooks Films
Parts 1 and 2 of Spain at War, a 30-part documentary series produced by Spanish TV in 1986. The films contains many rare and difficult to find images
1) Decline of a regime 2) The Republic: reform and reaction
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In a confidential cable sent to Washington in early 2007, shortly after Pinochet’s death, the US ambassador in Chile stated that the Chilean people were less resentful of their past and the dictatorship than Spaniards are of the Franco dictatorship. Albeit superficial and somewhat inaccurate, his remark can serve as a springboard for a quick venture into comparative history, regarding the similarities and differences between the two dictatorships and the way they are remembered.
Pinochet learned a lot from Franco. Like his Spanish predecessor the Chilean dictator tried to impose a view of history that would legitimise the need for his coup d’état and depict him as the saviour of the nation. During their dictatorships, Franco and Pinochet celebrated 18 July and 11 September respectively as the mythic events underpinning “national salvation” from Marxist revolution. This official version of things, embedded thanks to the control of education, censorship and harassment of anybody who dared take issue with it publicly, spawned disinformation policies and the massaging of history, and this proved very hard to combat during their respective transitions to democracy.
The Pinochet coup on 11 September 1973 was not the trigger for civil war and at 17 years his dictatorship lasted 20 years less than Franco’s. After murders by the thousands and massive trespass against human rights, both dictatorships enjoyed considerable support from their citizenry. Franco died in his bed and never had to worry about answering for his crimes against humanity. Pinochet outlived his authoritarian government by 16 years and his arrest in London in October 1998 provoked a thoroughgoing debate about the past, bringing the contrasting stories and memories of the military and of the families of the disappeared and the victims of repression flooding back.
SIMON WATSON TAYLOR (1923 – 2005) was an English anarchist, actor and translator, closely associated with the Surrealist movement. Born in Wallingford, Oxfordshire on 15 May 1923 he died in London on 4 November 2005. Secretary for the British Surrealist Group he edited the English language surrealist review Free Union but later became a key player in the “science” of Pataphysics. Simon lived and worked in Paris in 1946-7 for the English section of Radio-diffusion Francaise. His translations of modern and avant-garde French literature and books about art included Surrealism and Painting by André Breton and Three Plays by Boris Vian including The Empire Builders, The Generals’ Tea Party and The Knackers’ ABC. Others were The Cenci by Antonin Artaud, Paris Peasant by Louis Aragon and numerous works by Alfred Jarry. His collection of Jarry’s The Ubu Plays (Methuen, London, 1968) included translations by himself and Cyril Connolly and remains in print. The following memoir, written for ChristieBooks shortly before his death in 2005, was to accompany a new translation of Vian’s Three Plays — The Empire Builders, The Generals’ Tea Party and The Knackers’ ABC:
THE COLLEGE I ATTENDED in the mid- 30s was deemed ‘progressive’ at the time, and proud of its Charter granted by Elizabeth I. Despite the attendant horrors — compulsory sports, compulsory chapel, marching up and down with the absurd O.T.C (Officers Training Corps), the administration did show some aesthetic aspirations, such as the drama society (in which I shone) and the art class whose intelligent teacher twice inspired his boys to win prizes at the annual national student painting competitions. Maybe he can be thanked for the fact that the school library’s art section included Herbert Read’s 1936 anthology Surrealism. The discovery of all those challenging texts, those marvellous illustrations, was exhilarating and gave a new dimension to my love, from a tender age, of Carroll’s Alice books and The Hunting of the Snark. I was brought up in West Sussex among the South Downs (great for sliding down a hill on a tin tray), but, for domestic reasons which I have long forgotten, in 1940 we abandoned our rural delights — pine and birch woods, heather, gorse, sandy lanes — for the rigours of London. Our house at the top of Highgate Hill had a fine panoramic view over the city stretched out below. When the bombing started, the blacked-out night created an apocalyptic vision of the flames of hell. In 1941 I left the family home and moved to Chelsea, rooming in a series of bohemian lodgings and finally acquiring a flat just off the King’s Road. I was an actor by now, having plunged into what turned out to be a fairly brief career, starting off with the loveable Robert Atkins’s Shakespeare Company at the Open Air Theatre and continuing at the Birmingham Rep, where Margaret Leighton and Yvonne Mitchell were fellow-members of the company. And so on … READ MORE — ISSUU or PDF
It all began in the spring of 1969, with the “anarchist” bombs of 25 April, but it really took off on 12 December with bombs exploding in a bank in Milan’s Piazza Fontana killing 17 people, and injuring 88. According to the police and the official media these were “anarchist” bombs, as were those that later exploded on trains and in public squares in Bologna, in Brescia, on trains in tunnels, and other Italian cities. From day one the anarchists stated that these were not anarchist bombs, they were “state massacres”, part of a strategy of tension intended to prevent the Italian Communist Party from participating in government. A Rivista Anarchica, an investigative journal founded in early 1971 to expose the truth about the strategy of tension, published a number of articles over the years on the subject, as did its sister journal Libertaria, some of which are republished here. With the Berlusconi government in serious trouble is it possible that a new ‘strategy of tension’ is under way?
State coup: interview with Guido Salvini; Assassination? No – active illness!; The funeral of Pinelli by Franco Fortini; The anarchist thrown from a window by Paolo Finzi; The window-inspector by Patrizio Biagi; Forty years after the mother of all massacres; A conversation with aunt Rachele and the lawyer Guido Calvi by Antonella Schroeder and A.B; On the walls – picture/graphic research by Roberto Gimm; The state v. Pietro Valpreda by A. B.; Those years are still with us by Giulio D’Errico, Martino Iniziato and Fabio Vercilo; My friendship with Pino by Lorenzo Pezzica; Two 22 March members by Giulio D’Errico, Martino Iniziato, Fabio Vercilli and Matteo Villa; That day with Valpreda by Giulio D’Errico; The Ponte della Ghisolfa/Crocenera group by Giulio D’Errico; Days of bombs and trials (from 1969 to 2005)
FILMS: Gladio 1 – The Ringmasters; Gladio 2 The Puppeteers; Gladio 3 – The Footsoldiers; L’Orchestre Noir; Nella Citta Perduta di Sarzana; Piazza Fontana – 12 December 1969; Il Filo della memoria Giuseppe Pinelli; S’era tutti sovversivi – a Franco Serantini; Storia – Strage di Stato – Three hypotheses on the death of Pinelli
We’ve grown used to having to endure from time to time all manner of rabid attacks on anarchist ideas and anarchist organisations. Oddly enough, every other ideological persuasion resorts to historical interpretation to argue either that our anarchist predecessors did hardly any of the fighting (indeed sometimes they are left out of the reckoning altogether), or that they were responsible for all terror, past and future.
What has prompted me to take up my pen is a recent event. On 30 May 2007 the Lérida-based newspaper La Mañana reported a symposium at the Institute for Léridan Studies under the following headline: “Book says FAI organised religious persecution in Catalonia”. Smaller headlines announced that “ those killed for their faith are reckoned at around 7,000”. The author of the book in question, Jordi Alberti, “says that there was an elaborate plan and this was not just the work of mavericks”.