Nov 292012
 

Alan Horrox’s highly acclaimed (and unrepeated) 1983 C4/Thames TV production of Gavin Richards’s  adaptation of Dario Fo’s ‘Accidental Death of An Anarchist’ (translated by Gillian Hanna) with Gavin Richards as ‘Maniac’; Jim Bywater as ‘Inspector Pissani’; Clive Russell as ‘Superintendent’; Gavin Muir as ‘Constable’; John Surman as ‘Inspector Bertozzo’ and Susan Denaker as ‘Maria Feletti’

Anarchist Films (enter ‘Accidental Death’ into the search box).

Pinelli case

Jun 282012
 

The End of Anarchism? (cover illustration by Flavio Costantini)

The End of Anarchism? by Luigi Galleani ISBN 978-1-873976-57-9 (£4.62/ EUR 5,74/$7.20) Translated from the Italian by ‘Max Sartin‘ and Robert D’Attilio. Cover illustration by Flavio Costantini. Kindle UK, Kindle US, Kindle Italy, Kindle France, Kindle Germany, Kindle Spain  (Read review by Paul Avrich)

The career of Luigi Galleani involves a paradox. During the first two decades of the twentieth century, he was the leading Italian anarchist in the United States, one of the greatest anarchist orators of his time, in a class with Emma Goldman and Johann Most, editor of the foremost Italian-American anarchist periodical, La Cronaca Sovversiva (The Subversive Chronicle), which ran for fifteen years before its supression by the American government, and inspirer of a movement that included Sacco and Vanzetti among its adherents.

Yet Galleani has fallen into oblivion. He is virtually unknown in the United States, outside of a small circle of scholars and of personal associates and disciples, whose ranks are rapidly dwindling. No biography in English has been devoted to him, nor is he mentioned in the general histories of anarchism by George Woodcock and James Joll or in the comprehensive history of American anarchism by William Reichert. His writings, moreover, had remained untranslated until the appearance of the work under review, which, distilling the essence of his radical beliefs, his credo of revolutionary anarchism, fills a conspicuous gap in the literature of anarchism available to English readers and restores a major figure in the movement to his proper historical place.

Luigi Galleani (1861-1931) by Bartolo Provo

Galleani was born on August 12, 1861, in the Piedmont town of Vercelli, not far from the city of Turin. The son of middle-class parents, he was drawn to anarchism in his late teens and, studying law at the University of Turin, became an outspoken militant whose hatred of capitalism and government would burn with undiminished intensity for the rest of his life. Galleani, however, refused to practice law, which he had come to regard with contempt, transferring his talents and energies to radical propaganda. Under threat of prosecution, he took refuge in France, from which he was expelled for taking part in a May Day demonstration. Moving to Switzerland, he visited the exiled French anarchist and geographer Elisée Reclus, whom he assisted in the preparation of his Nouvelle Géographie universelle, compiling statistics on Central America. He also assisted students at the University of Geneva in arranging a celebration in honor of the Haymarket Martyrs, who had been hanged in Chicago in 1887, for which he was expelled as a dangerous agitator. Returning to Italy, Galleani continued his agitation, which got him into trouble with the police. Arrested on charges of conspiracy, he spent more than five years in prison and exile before escaping from the island of Pantelleria, off the coast of Sicily, in 1900.

Galleani, now in his fortieth year, began an odyssey that landed him in North America. Aided by Elisée Reclus and other comrades, he first made his way to Egypt, where he lived for the better part of a year among a colony of Italian expatriates. Threatened with extradition, he moved on to London, from which he soon embarked for the United States, arriving in October 1901, barely a month after the assassination of President McKinley. Settling in Paterson, New Jersey, a stronghold of the immigrant anarchist movement, Galleani assumed the editorship of La Questione Sociale (The Social Question), then the leading Italian anarchist periodical in America. Scarcely had he installed himself in this position when a strike erupted among the Paterson silk workers, and Galleani, braving the anti-radical hysteria which followed the shooting of McKinley, threw all his energies into their cause. In eloquent and fiery speeches he called on the workers to launch a general strike and thereby free themselves from capitalist oppression. Paul Ghio, a visitor from France, was present at one such oration. “1 have never heard an orator more powerful than Luigi Galleani,” he afterwards wrote. “He has a marvelous facility with words, accompanied by the faculty—rare among popular tribunes — of precision and clarity of ideas. His voice is full of warmth, his glance alive and penetrating, his gestures of exceptional vigor and flawless distinction.”

Luigi Galleani (police mugshots)

The strike occurred in June 1902. Clashes took place between the workers and the police, shots were fired, and Galleani was wounded in the face. Indicted for inciting to riot, he managed to escape to Canada. A short time after, having recovered from his wounds, he secretly recrossed the border and took refuge in Barre, Vermont, living under an assumed name among his anarchist comrades who regarded him with intense devotion. It was in Barre, on June 6,1903, that Galleani launched La Cronaca Sovversiva, the mouthpiece for his incendiary doctrines and one of the most important and ably edited periodicals in the history of the anarchist movement, its influence, reaching far beyond the confines of the United States, could be felt wherever Italian radicals congregated, from Europe and North Africa to South America and Australia. In 1906, however, during a polemical exchange with G.M. Seratti, the socialist editor of Il Proletario in New York, the latter revealed Galleani’s whereabouts (a charge also levelled at the English writer H.G. Wells), and Galleani was taken into custody. Extradited to New Jersey, he was tried in Paterson in April 1907 for his role in the 1902 strike. The trial, however, ended in a hung jury (seven for conviction, five for acquittal), and Galleani was set free.

Cronaca Sovversiva (1903-1918)

Galleani returned to Barre and resumed his propaganda activities. Now in his late forties, he had reached the summit of his intellectual powers. Over the next forty years his fiery oratory and brilliant pen carried him to a position of undisputed leadership within the Italian-American anarchist movement. An eloquent speaker, Galleani had a resonant, tilting voice with a tremolo that kept his audience spellbound. He spoke easily, powerfully, spontaneously, and his bearing was of a kind that made his followers, Sacco and Vanzetti among them, revere him as a kind of patriarch of the movement, to which he won more converts than any other single individual. Galleani was also a prolific writer, pouring forth hundreds of articles, essays, and pamphlets that reached tens, perhaps hundreds, of thousands of readers on several continents. Yet he never produced a full-length book: the volumes appearing over his signature, such as Faccia a Faccia col Nemico, Aneliti e Singulti, and Figure e Figuri, are collections of shorter pieces previously published in La Cronaca Sovversiva. In this respect he resembles Johann Most, Errico Malatesta, and Benjamin Tucker (author of Instead of a Book: By a Man Too Busy to Write One), rather than, say, William Godwin, Pierre-Joseph Proudhon, or Peter Kropotkin.

La Fin dell’Anarchismo (1925) — Tamiment Library

The End of Anarchism?, Galleani’s most fully realized work, itself began as a series of articles. In June 1907, shortly after Galleani ’s acquittal at Paterson, the Turin daily La Stampa published an interview with Francesco Saverio Merlino, himself a former anarchist of distinction, under the title “The End of Anarchism.” Merlino, like Galleani, had been trained in the law, had lived in the United States, and had founded an important Italian-American journal, Grido degli Oppressi (The Cry of the Oppressed), which appeared in New York from 1892 to 1894. Unlike Galleani, however, Merlino had abandoned anarchism in 1897, joining the socialist movement. Merlino, in his interview with La Stampa, pronounced anarchism an obsolete doctrine, torn by internal disputes, bereft of first-rate theorists, and doomed to early extinction. Galleani was incensed. “The end of anarchism?” he asked in La Cronaca Sovversiva, adding a question mark to the title of Merlino’s interview. Just the opposite was the case. In an age of growing political and economic centralization, anarchism was more relevant than ever. Far from being moribund, “it lives, it develops, it goes forward”.

Saverio Merlino

Such was Galleani’s reply to Merlino, elaborated in a series of articles into Cronaca Sovversiva from August 17,1907, to January 25,1980. Combining the spirit of Stirnerite insurgency with Kropotkin’s principle of mutual aid, Galleani put forward a vigorous defense of communist anarchism against socialism and reform, preaching the virtues of spontaneity and variety, of autonomy and independence, of self-determination and direct action, in a world of increasing standardization and conformity. A revolutionary zealot, he would brook no compromise with the elimination of both capitalism and government. Nothing less than a clean sweep of the bourgeois order, with its inequality and injustice, its subjugation and degradation of the workers, would satisfy his thirst for the millennium.

Galleani produced ten articles in response to Merlino. He intended to write still more, but day-to-day work for the movement — editing La Cronaca Sovversiva, organizing meetings, issuing pamphlets, embarking on coast-to-coast lecture tours — prevented him from doing so. In 1912 he moved La Cronaca Sovversiva from Barre to Lynn, Massachusetts, where he had won a dedicated following.

When the First World War broke out in 1914, he opposed it, in contrast to Kropotkin, with all the strength and eloquence at his command, denouncing it in La Cronaca Sovversiva with an oft-repeated slogan, “Contro la guerra, contro la pace, per la rivoluzione sociale!” (Against the war, against the peace, for the social revolution!) With America’s entry into the conflict in April 1917, Galleani became the object of persecution. His paper was shut down and he himself was arrested on charges of obstructing the war effort. On J une 24,1919, he was deported to his native Italy, leaving behind his wife and four children.

In Turin, Galleani resumed publication of La Cronaca Sovversiva. As in America, however, it was suppressed by the authorities. On Mussolini’s accession to power in 1922, Galleani was arrested, tried, and convicted on charges of sedition, and sentenced to fourteen months in prison, where his health began to deteriorate. After his release, he returned to his old polemic against Merlino, completing it in a series of articles in L’Adunata dei Refrattari (The Call of the Rebels), the journal of his disciples in America, who issued it in 1925 as a booklet. Malatesta, whose conception of anarchism diverged sharply from that of Galleani, hailed the work as a “clear, serene, eloquent” recital of the communist-anarchist creed. In its present English edition, it takes its place beside Malatesta’s own Talk About Anarchist Communism, Alexander Berkman’s What Is Communist Anarchism?, and Nicolas Walter’s About Anarchism as a classic exposition of the subjects.

‘Max Sartin’ Raffaele Schiavina (1894-1987)

It is a pleasant task, in this age of shoddy production, to review a work of such notable aesthetic quality. Apart from its handsome cover by Flavio Costantini, the celebrated Italian anarchist artist, it is attractively designed and printed, and the frontispiece contains a drawing of Galleani, based on a well-known photograph, by Bartolo Provo. The translation by Max Sartin, longtime editor of L’Adunata dei Refrattari and associate of Galleani, and Robert D’Attilio, an authority on Italian-American anarchism, is both readable and accurate. There are a number of typographical and factual errors, especially in the notes, but these, while regrettable, do not detract from the overall value of the book.

The publication of the L’Adunata edition of this work in 1925 did not endear Galleani to the Mussolini government. Arrested in November 1926, Galleani was locked up in the same cell in which he had spent three months in 1892 and found it “as dirty and ugly” as before. Soon afterwards, he was banished to the island of Lipari, off the Sicilian coast, from which he was later removed to Messina, and condemned to serve six months in prison, for the crime of insulting Mussolini. In February 1930. Galleani, in failing health, was allowed to return to the mainland. Retiring to the mountain village of Caprigliola, he remained under the surveillance of the police, who seldom left his door and followed him even on his solitary walks in the surrounding countryside. Returning from his daily walk, on November 4,1931, Galleani collapsed and died. His anarchism, to the end, had burned with an undiminished flame. Ever hopeful for the future, despite a life of bitter experience, he had remained faithful to the ideal that had inspired his life, convinced that liberty would ultimately triumph over tyranny and oppression.

Paul Avrich (1983)

Jan 302012
 

Banca Nazionale dell'Agricoltura, Piazza Fontana, Milan, December 12, 4.37 p.m. 1969

The Piazza Fontana massacre of 12 December 1969 is a crucial milestone in post-war Italian history. It was on that date that the criminal intentions of a political class — which demonstrated it would shrink from nothing to cling on to power in the face of ‘the onward march of communism’ — was made flesh. This class did not baulk at leaving a trail of corpses in its wake in order to prevent its leadership being called into question. The Piazza Fontana massacre is not some ‘obscure episode’ in Italy’s history — ‘the nightfall of the republic’. It is a clearly defined chapter whose narrative is that dead bodies are preferable to political change and over the years that followed many more would perish — mainly at the hands of the right, but also some at the hands of the left. It was a perverted game. The right had attacked, therefore the left had a duty to retaliate, thereby cranking up the ‘index of conflict’.

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Nov 242011
 

Monza, July 29 1900 (Flavio Costantini)

Blow to the Heart (Colpo al cuore) non-accidental death of a monarch: an Italian documentary (English subtitles), with interviews and analysis examining two different strands of the life and motivation of anarchist regicide Gaetano Bresci, the slayer of Italian tyrant Umberto I. The film assesses Bresci’s action in the context of his age and considers the nature of redemption through propaganda by the deed; at what point do people like Bresci say: ‘Enough! Time to do away with the symbols of our oppression’, and respond with violent gestures when faced with cruel injustices. (See ChristieBooks FILMS – or view HERE, please allow time for film to load)

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Oct 182011
 

The Titanic 2 - Navigazione 1989 by Flavio Costantini

During his long artistic career, Costantini has often dealt with the contradictions, the ambiguities and the tricks of history, especially the dramatic events of the so-called “short twentieth century”. He has evoked some of those significant episodes in his pictorial cycles, such as the sinking of the Titanic, which symbolically defined the end of an age and opened the period of the First World War, the massacre of the Tsar’s family and the revolution that was to change the world political balance.

This personal historical analysis began in 1963, the year he began evoking, in one of his most important cycles, the revolutionary dynamics of the anarchist movement between the 19th and the 20th centuries.

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Oct 182011
 
COSTANTINI - A Catalogue courtesy of the Museo Luzzati

COSTANTINI - A Catalogue courtesy of the Museo Luzzati

Flavio Costantini was born in Rome on 21st September, exactly sixty years after Herbert George Wells. When, during the war, he became a young utopian influenced by the books of the English writer he was pleased by the coincidence, finding it “particularly meaningful”.

His mother, a Roman housewife, kept a record of all her dead relatives. Every evening she opened the book she prayed for each of them, naming them one by one. From time to time the book was updated. “I was afraid of becoming one of them!”

His father, from Osimo, worked for the INA insurance company; his hobby was painting. “He was an amateur painter, he painted on everything using oils.”

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Oct 032011
 

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

Oct 022011
 

See ChristieBooks Films
Octavio Alberola and the late Luis Andrés Edo, two of the principal organisers of ‘Defensa Interior’ (DI), the clandestine action organisation of the Spanish Libertarian Movement in Exile (CNT, FAI and FIJL), discuss the formation, actions and domestic tensions which led to it being disowned and betrayed by the ‘notables’ of the Toulouse-based CNT-FAI leadership. The ‘charla’ (talk) took place in the CNT local in Joaquín Costa, Barcelona, in November 2005

Oct 022011
 


The First Of May Group (International Revolutionary Solidarity Movement), an action group formed in 1966 by former members of the anti-Francoist ‘Defensa Interior’, consisted mainly of Spanish, French, Italian and British resistants against Francoist, Salazarist and US imperialism. The first action undertaken by the group was the kidnapping, on 1 May 1966, of Mgr Marcos Ussia, the Ecclesiastical Advisor in Franco’s Embassy in the Vatican. The object of the kidnapping was to focus the attention of the world’s media on the plight of Franco’s political prisoners. In 2005, two of the principal members of the group, Luis Andrés Edo and Octavio Alberola, were interviewed by Chloe Rosell about their recollections of that particular action…

Mar 252011
 

Pinelli — Flavio Costantini

Morte accidentale di un anarchico (English trans.) è una delle commedie più note di Dario Fo, vincitore del Premio Nobel per la letteratura nel 1997, rappresentata per la prima volta il 5 dicembre 1970 a Varese da Fo e il suo gruppo teatrale “La Comune”.

La commedia è dedicata alla “morte accidentale”, come ironicamente ricorda il titolo stesso, dell’anarchico Giuseppe Pinelli, avvenuta al commissariato di Polizia di Milano in circostanze inizialmente non chiare, poi archiviate dai un’indagine della magistratura come un caso di malore attivo, il 15 dicembre 1969, cadendo dalla finestra del quarto piano durante il suo interrogatorio. A seguito della violenta campagna politica che ne seguì fu ucciso il commissario di polizia Luigi Calabresi.

See FILMS: Il filo della memoria ; Storia Stragi di Stato — Tre ipotesi sulla morte di Pinelli ; L’Orchestre Noir — The Strategy of Tension ; Italian Fascism ; Gladio 1 ; Gladio 2 ; Gladio 3 ; NATO’s Secret Armies ; Piazza Fontana 2 anni dopo ; Prendiamoci la vita 1 ; Prendiamoci la vita 2 (1968-1978) ; Nella perduta citta di Sarzana ; Gli anarchici nella Resistenza; D’Amore’ e D’ Anarchia ; Rome, Open City ; Ostia ; Il Conformista ; 7 Beauties ; Antonio Ruju ; Rumore di fondo-Storie di semplici resistenti ; Controstoria Rossa Partigiani ; Sera tutti sovversivi – a Franco Serantini; Franco Leggio: An anarchist of Ragusa ; Libera, my love – Libera, amore mio ; Men of Marble -  Carrara ; Salvatore Giuliano ; The Leopard – 1 ; The Mystery of Oberwald

TEXTS: Stefano delle Chiaie: Portrait of a Black Terrorist ; Pinelli and the Piazza Fontanta — Italy’s Cold War ;

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