Feb 032013
 
unamuno

MIGUEL DE UNAMUNO Y JUGO (1864-1936)

Spain’s most eminent poet, philosopher, novelist and essayist of modern times, Don MIGUEL DE UNAMUNO Y JUGO, Professor of Greek at Salamanca University, became its rector in 1901, but was removed in 1914 for political reasons (in the 1920s the dictator Primo de Rivera exiled him to the Canary Islands). Re-elected in 1931 with the advent of the Republic he was  made rector for life in 1934, and in 1936 he entered the Cortes as an independent republican.

Astray1

General Millán Astray (1879-1954)

The oldest of the “generation of 98” (the new wave in literature and politics that emerged in the aftermath of the Cuban War) he described himself as a “sower of doubt and an agitator of consciences”. Disillusioned with the republic, the military coup of July 1936 found him in Salamanca, the heart of nationalist territory. Initially, a supporter of the military revolt, believing it to be an attempt to “restore order”, within three months he had come to realise the true nature of Franco’s New Order. As an admirer of some of the young Falangists, he had contributed money to the rising, but by 12 October his view had changed. He had become, as he said later, ‘terrified by the character that this civil war was taking, really horrible, due to a collective mental illness, an epidemic of madness, with a pathological substratum’.

When the great National Festival of 12 October was celebrated in Salamanca University  — within a hundred yards of Franco’s headquarters (recently established in the bishop’s palace in Salamanca, on the prelate’s invitation) — it was supposed he was another captive intellectual . . .

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Sep 262012
 

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¿Qué le ha sucedido al criterio editorial del TLS (Times Literary Supplement)? ¿Qué diantre llevó al editor a encargar como reseña de El holocausto español de Paul Preston la patochada condescendientemente insultante de un apologeta profranquista como Michael Seidman?

Aparte de quejarse sobre el “descrédito hacia el capital moral de los nacionales” de Preston, la objeción principal de Seidman parece ser el uso del término “holocausto” para describir la carnicería provocada por los “oficiales rebeldes, pronto ayudados por Hitler y Mussolini” (implicando que ninguno de sus regimenes habrían sido cómplices de sus planes para derrocar a la República). Esta objeción al vocablo holocausto es, o bien una pedantería académica, o bien un medido intento político por parte de Seidman de apropiarse de manera excluyente e incontestable del término para su aplicación exclusiva a las víctimas judías del antisemitismo nazi — a costa de los otros 5, 6, o 7 millones de víctimas de la máquinaria asesina nazi: antifascistas (judíos y gentiles), intelectuales, socialistas, anarquistas, comunistas, liberales, testigo de Jehová, gitanos, disminuidos psíquicos o físicos, etc… entre enero de 1933 y mayo de 1945.

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Sep 222012
 

TLS, September 7 2012

What has happened to editorial judgement at the TLS? What on earth led the editor to commission the patronisingly offensive twaddle from such a pro-Francoist apologist as Michael Seidman in his review of Paul Preston’s “The Spanish Holocaust”?

Apart from complaining about Preston’s ‘discrediting the moral capital of the Nationalists’, Seidman’s principal objection appears to be the use of the term “Holocaust” to describe the carnage triggered by the “rebellious officers, whom Hitler and Mussolini quickly aided” (the implication being that neither regime had been complicit in the plans to topple the Republic). This objection to the word Holocaust is either academic pedantry or a zealous political attempt by Seidman to ‘own’ the term on behalf, exclusively and of course unbidden, of the Jewish victims of Nazi anti-semitism at the expense of the other 5, 6 or 7 million victims of the Nazi killing machine — anti-Nazis (Jewish and non-Jewish), intellectuals, socialists, anarchists, communists, liberals, Jehovah’s Witnesses, gypsies, the mentally ill, the disabled, etc., etc. — between January 1933 and May 1945.

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Sep 032012
 

 

Franco Me Hizo Terrorista. Memorias del anarquista que intentó matar al dictator Stuart Christie (Traducción y adaptación de General Franco Made Me A Terrorist por Jorge Barriuso con prólogo por Carlos Fonseca). ISBN 978-1-873976-60-9.

España ; France ; Germany ; Italy (€4,12); UK  (£3.25) ; US/Canada/India and RoW ($5.16)

De las calles de Glasgow a las cárceles de la España fascista, es éste el fascinante testimonio personal de un hombre que se enfrenta a los dilemas de una vida dedicada a la libertad. NOAM CHOMSKY

En el verano de 1964 y con dieciocho años recién cumplidos, el anarquista escocés Stuart Christie viajó a España con una carga de explosivos escondida bajo su ropa y con una misión: matar a Franco. Su temprana obsesión con el dictador había nacido algunos años antes, en los albores de su adolescencia, cuando sus familiares y su círculo de amigos adultos nutrían sus reuniones con anécdotas sobre la Guerra Civil y las Brigadas Internacionales, en las que muchos de ellos habían participado.

Pero quien más influyó en su vocación fue una figura mucho más fuerte y determinante en el ideario de Christie: su abuela. Siempre guiado por su curiosa musa inspiradora, Christie comenzaría a contactar con algunos exiliados de la España franquista, a quienes pronto les confesaría su más íntimo deseo: «Quiero hacer algo más que protestar y repartir panfletos», les dijo, y sus nuevas amistades no tardarían en complacerle. En agosto de 1964, cuando su mundo aún no se extendía más allá del sur de Inglaterra, Christie recibió instrucciones para cumplir con su primera misión internacional. Y así comenzó un viaje lleno de insólitas peripecias, que acabó de una manera ciertamente insospechada por su protagonista.

En estas extraordinarias memorias, Christie relata su experiencia, y dibuja un autorretrato digno de ser recordado en la memoria española como el de uno de los ultimo’s idealistas del convulso siglo XX.

Stuart Christie nació en Glasgow en 1946; anarquista convencido, viajó a España en 1964 cargado de explosivos como parte de una misión para matar a Franco, organizada por Defensa Interior, un ala radical de la CNT. Fue arrestado por la Brigada Político Social y sentenciado a una pena de veinte años de prisión en Carabanchel. En 1967 consiguió la libertad gracias a un indulto, pero tres años después fue arrestado y encarcelado en Londres como sospechoso de pertenecer al grupo terrorista Angry Brigade, cargo del que finalmente resultó absuelto.

Fue editor del Cienfuegos Press, donde ha publicado la Review of Anarchist Literature. Ha escrito numerosos libros, entre los que destacan The Floodgates of Anarchy (1970) (Anarquismo y Lucha de Clases – 2012), Stefano Delle Chiaíe: Portrait of a Black Terrorist (l984) y We, The Anarchists/ A Study of The Iberian Anarchist Federation (FAI) 1927-1937 (¡Nosotros Los Anarquistas! Un estudio de la Federación Anarquista Ibérica (FAI) 1927-1937). Franco me hizo terrorista forma parte de sus memorias, una trilogía bajo el nombre de The Christie Files, compuesta por My Granny Made Me an Anarchist (2002), General Franco Made Me a Terrorist (2003) y Edward Heath Made Me Angry (2004).

Aug 062012
 

Farquhar McHarg, Belleville, Paris, 1976

¡Pistoleros! 1 – 1918

¡Pistoleros! 2 – 1919

Farquhar’s Chronicles (Vols. 1 ; 2 ; 3 )are folk history, bringing the changes that shook the political and social landscape of Spain (and the world) between 1918 and 1977 into the framework of a contemporary adult lifetime. They make a vexatious but fascinating story that explains the spirit and Idea that moved the selfless, generous, occasionally naïve and recklessly idealistic people involved in the bitter social struggles that marked the hectic insurrectionary and utopian aftermath of the great imperialist war of 1914-18.

This third volume of Farquhar McHarg’s journal focuses on the remarkable adventures of the Glaswegian anarchist during the period 1920-24 as a member of the anarchist action groups: Los Justicieros (‘the Avengers’); Crisol (‘Crucible’); Los Solidarios (‘Solidarity’), and the armed clandestine defence cadres of the CNT, the anarcho-syndicalist labour union. Their militants faced extermination from the calculated violence of the security services of a vicious semi-feudal state, and the mercenary killers employed by landed grandees and an equally savage industrial and commercial bourgeoisie.

Pistoleros! 2 – 1920-1924 (to 1977)

Farquhar’s Chronicles also tell a parallel narrative of plot and counterplot, ranging from 1936 to 1976, exploring the background to the murder of Farquhar’s comrade, the notorious anarchist counterfeiter and facilitator Laureano Cerrada Santos, and the subsequent attempts to kill the seventy-six-year-old Farquhar himself. It is a compelling and dramatic tale of the Govan man’s attempt to ferret out the identity of a long-term traitor within the Spanish émigré anarcho-syndicalist organisation, the CNT-MLE (Spanish Libertarian Movement), a confidente known only as ‘The Priest’.

Farquhar McHarg 1925

This story unfolds against the backdrop of machinations by Spanish and other Western spymasters obsessed with the idea that post-Franco Spain might go ‘Red’. To pre-empt this eventuality they deployed deep-penetration agents of influence, traitors at the highest level of the Spanish émigré anarcho-syndicalist movement. By inducing fear and paranoia through acts of treachery, their objective was to demoralise, disrupt and neutralise the effectiveness of that small band of anarchist militants who had fought relentlessly to topple the old regime by aggressive action and who might thwart their plans for a post-Francoist Spain.

Farquhar McHarg 1959

Farquhar McHarg 1976

These puppetmasters also sought to extend and consolidate their proxy control over the influential anarcho-syndicalist organisation inside and outside of Spain during the ‘disease-prone’ transition period to democracy’ (communism being defined as a ‘disease of transition’). It was the height of the Cold War and, with Spain’s dictator dead, the West’s geopolitical agenda-setters needed to ensure NATO hegemony over the Mediterranean, and the continuity of the Francoist agenda (and elite) at a time when they believed Spanish society would be particularly susceptible to a social breakdown as it underwent modernisation.

PHOTO ALBUMS Vol. 1: 1918 a ; 1918 b ; 1918 c

PHOTO ALBUMS Vol. 2: 1919 a ; 1919 b

PHOTO ALBUMS Vol. 3: 1920-24 a ; 1920-24 b ; 1920-24 c

 

Jul 092012
 

Twenty Years in Franco’s Jails. An Anarchist In Franco’s Prisons by Juan Busquets Verges. ISBN 978-1-873976-58-6 (Kindle eBook). Prologue by Ángel Urzáiz and Introduction by Stuart Christie. Translated by Paul Sharkey (£5.98, $9.26, Eur 7,55) Kindle UK, Kindle US/Canada, Kindle Spain, Kindle France, Kindle Germany, Kindle Italy

Juan Busquets Verges, 1948

First arrested in 1944, aged 16, Juan Busquets Verges was an apprentice fitter in the Hispano Suiza factory in Barcelona, a member of the clandestine anarcho-syndicalist labour union, the CNT (Confederación Nacional Del Trabajo — and a member of the factory strike committee. In 1947 he crossed into France where he contacted the Spanish Libertarian Movement in Exile (MLE) in Toulouse, and found employment in the mines of Cransac. The following year he joined Marcelino Massana Bancells’s (‘Pancho’) anti-Francoist guerrilla group and took part in a number of operations inside Spain including, in June 1949, the dynamiting of more than 40 electricity pylons and the uprooting of a kilometre of railway lines in the vicinity of Terrasa.

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Jun 032012
 

Farquhar McHarg (the ‘Big Man’ from Govan), Céret, Pyrénées-Orientales, 1959

Autobiography is essentially an act of confession. Some people can’t bring themselves to do it; others just can’t be stopped. Sometimes what comes out is so unbelievable it’s easy to mistake it for fiction. In the case of “The Chronicles of Farquhar McHarg”, you couldn’t make it up if you tried. Or could you?

Albert Meltzer introduced me to Farquhar in 1974, but the legend had already preceded him. I refrained from asking how much, if any, of it was true. What little I knew about his past seemed the sort of stuff you keep quiet about, if you want to avoid answering serious criminal charges, or stopping a bullet with your face. When Laureano Cerrada Santos was murdered in Paris two years later I expected Farquhar to be next; so did he. Farquhar furiously committed to paper his experiences of a lifetime of anarchist activism, to leave behind an explanation of things which powerful and dangerous people would much rather leave unexplained.

This is the testimony of a man drawn into clandestine struggle as a naive but idealistic teenager, who witnessed the “heroic” days, and the not so heroic days, of Spanish anarchism and survived long enough to tell the tale.

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May 312012
 

Building Utopia — The Spanish Revolution 1936-1937, Stuart Christie, ChristieBooks (Kindle Edition), ISBN 978-1-873976-18-0  Check out all Kindle editions of ChristieBooks titles

UK : £2.72 ; USA : $4.13 ; Germany : €3,21 ; France :  €3,21 ; Spain:  €3,21 ; Italy :   €3,21 ; Japan : ¥ 413 ; India : R219.54 : Canada : CDN$ 4.11 ; Brazil : R$ 8.14 ; Mexico : $50.47

Within the Spanish anarchist and anarcho-syndicalist movements there were three distinct points of view on the question of war and revolution. The first, probably the majority view, was that the war would be over in a matter of weeks, after all, a few days had been enough to rout the army in Barcelona and other industrial centres, and that the social revolution and Libertarian Communism as debated and adopted by the CNT’s national congress at Zaragoza in February, five months previously, was an inseparable aspect of the struggle against economic and social oppression. Thus, the movement should proceed immediately to socialise the factories, the land and their communities. READ INSIDE

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May 272012
 

Press clippings relating to First of May Group (Grupo Primero de Mayo) actions

Spanish anarchism and revolutionary action – 1961-1974 by Octavio Alberola and Ariane Gransac with Prologue by Luis Andrés Edo, ChristieBooks (Kindle edition only – for the moment): KINDLE UK, USA, FRANCE, GERMANY, SPAIN, ITALY

This account of the role of anarchist activism in Europe between 1961 and 1974 (by two of the principal protagonists in the events they describe) was first published in Spanish and French in 1975, shortly after the authors’ release from prison following the kidnapping Francoist banker Baltasar Suárez. To this day it remains  essential reading for anyone seeking to understand the history and development of the libertarian opposition to the Franco Dictatorship subsequent to the urban and rural guerrilla tactics as practised by Sabaté, Facerías, and Caraquemada, etc. It examines the birth of the clandestine ‘Defensa Interior’ Section of the Spanish Libertarian Movement (MLE – CNT-FAI-FIJL) through to ‘The First of May Group‘ and its influence on — and links with — other European action groups of the later 1960s and early 1970s, groups such as ‘The Angry Brigade‘, the ‘Grupos Autonomos de Combate — GAC‘, 2nd June Group, the Movimiento Ibérico de Liberación — ‘MIL‘, Gruppo d’Azione Partigiano – GAP, Grupos de Acción Revolucionaria Internacional — ‘GARI‘, etc.

The authors: Ariane Gransac and Octavio Alberola, Bruges April 1968. The photo was taken soon after their release from their respective Belgian prisons. Ariane had been subsequently expelled but had returned clandestinely with other comrades to meet with Octavio.

The story begins in late 1961 with the creation of Sección DEFENSA INTERIOR (DI), the clandestine planning and action organisation set up at the Limoges Congress in France by the Defence Commission of the recently reunited three wings of the exiled Spanish libertarian movement (MLE — Movimiento Libertario Español) — the CNT, the Spanish anarcho-syndicalist trade union; the FAI, the Iberian Anarchist Federation, and the FIJL, the Iberian Federation of Libertarian Youth. One of the DI’s principal objectives was to organise and carry out attempts on the life of General Franco. Its other role was to generate examples of resistance by means of propaganda by deed. The DI’s short-term objectives were: to remind the world, unremittingly, that Franco’s brutal and repressive dictatorship had not only survived WWII but was now flourishing through tourism and US financial and diplomatic support; to provide solidarity for those continuining the struggle within Spain; to polarise public opinion and focus attention on the plight of the steadily increasing number of political prisoners in Franco’s jails; to interrupt the conduct of Francoist commercial and diplomatic life; undermine its financial basis — tourism; to take the struggle against Franco into the international sphere by showing the world that Franco did not enjoy unchallenged power and that there was resistance to the regime within and beyond Spain’s borders.

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May 232012
 

Available now on KINDLE UK, US and Canada, Spain, France, Germany, Italy

'Mario de Langullo' (Cover illustration by Phill Evans)

Mario Rodríguez Losada, (‘Mario de Langullo’ — nom de guerre ‘O Pinche’), was one of the many legendary guerrillas who, after the fall of the Republic, took to the mountains of North-West Spain to continue the armed struggle against the repressive forces of the Franco regime. Mario’s guerrilla group, one of the most active in the region, was based in the Sierra de Queija and operated in the area of El Bollo-La Gudina-Verin and Castro Caldelas — from the spring of 1941 until August 1968 when he went into exile in France.

Mario Rodríguez Losada (O Pinche, O Langullo). Guerrilla Warfare in Galicia, by his friend and biographer Antonio Téllez, is a riveting personal account of the lived experiences of one band of little-known anti-Francoist guerrillas who operated in the mountains of Galicia. Tellez’s story of O Pinche’s life as a resistance fighter provides a rare insight into the ‘intangible’ atmosphere of the events of the time and the outlook and motives of those who, putting their lives on the line, refused to abandon the struggle against injustice and oppression.

Mario Rodríguez Losada — 'O Pinche'

Operational area of the 'O Pinche' guerrillas