Jean Amila (Jean Meckert, 1910-1995), libertarian author and son of an anarchist and a deserter, wrote twenty-one thrillers, in most of which he revealed his anarchist, anti-militarist, anti-statist and anti-clerical sympathies. Following the publication of his 1971 novel ‘La vierge et le Taureau’ (The Virgin and the Bull)— which dealt with highly immoral French nuclear and bacteriological experiments in French Polynesia (presaging the sinking of the Rainbow Warrior and the murder of photographer Fernando Pereira in Auckland harbour in 1985)— he was brutally attacked, probably by French government agents, and left for dead. ‘The Butcher of Les Hurlus’ (Le Boucher des Hurlus ) is the story of Michou, the eight-year-old son of a soldier shot for mutiny in WWI. His mother, ridiculed and harassed by her neighbours as the wife of a mutineer, is interned and Michou sent to an orphanage where he and three young companions decide to take their revenge. With the ‘Spanish Flu’ epidemic decimating the towns and villages of France, they head for the front line to kill one of the architects of their and France’s misfortunes, divisional general Des Gringues….
Anarchism is “the name given to a principle or theory of life and conduct under which society is conceived without government – harmony in such a society being obtained, not by submission to law, or by obedience to any authority, but by free agreements concluded between the various groups, territorial and professional, freely constituted for the sake of production and consumption, as also for the satisfaction of the infinite variety of needs and aspirations of a civilized being.”
“ANARCHISM (from the Gr…., and …., contrary to authority), the name given to a principle or theory of life and conduct under which society is conceived without government – harmony in such a society being obtained, not by submission to law, or by obedience to any authority, but by free agreements concluded between the various groups, territorial and professional, freely constituted for the sake of production and consumption, as also for the satisfaction of the infinite variety of needs and aspirations of a civilized being. In a society developed on these lines, the voluntary associations which already now begin to cover all the fields of human activity would take a still greater extension so as to substitute themselves for the state in all its functions. They would represent an interwoven network, composed of an infinite variety of groups and federations of all sizes and degrees, local, regional, national and international temporary or more or less permanent – for all possible purposes: production, consumption and exchange, communications, sanitary arrangements, education, mutual protection, defence of the territory, and so on; and, on the other side, for the satisfaction of an ever-increasing number of scientific, artistic, literary and sociable needs. Moreover, such a society would represent nothing immutable. On the contrary – as is seen in organic life at large – harmony would (it is contended) result from an ever-changing adjustment and readjustment of equilibrium between the multitudes of forces and influences, and this adjustment would be the easier to obtain as none of the forces would enjoy a special protection from the state.
The anarchist ideas of renowned French geographer, writer and activist Élisée Reclus (5 March 1830 – 4 July 1905) who produced his 19-volume masterwork, La Nouvelle Géographie universelle, la terre et les hommes (“Universal Geography“), over a period of nearly 20 years (1875–1894). In 1892 he was awarded the prestigious Gold Medal of the Paris Geographical Society for this work, despite having been banished from France because of his role in the Paris Commune of 1871. The text is based on a talk originally delivered to the Brussels Masonic Lodge ,“The Philanthropic Friends,” on June 18, 1894. It was later published as l’Anarchie in Les Temps Nouveaux 18 (May 25-June 1,1895).
An Anarchist on Anarchy
“It is a pity that such men as Elisée Reclus cannot be promptly shot.” — Providence Press
To most Englishmen, the word Anarchy is so evil-sounding that ordinary readers of the Contemporary Review will probably turn from these pages with aversion, wondering how anybody could have the audacity to write them. With the crowd of commonplace chatterers we are already past praying for; no reproach is too bitter for us, no epithet too insulting. Public speakers on social and political subjects find that abuse of Anarchists is an unfailing passport to public favor. Every conceivable crime is laid to our charge, and opinion, too indolent to learn the truth, is easily persuaded that Anarchy is but another name for wickedness and chaos. Overwhelmed with opprobrium and held up with hatred, we are treated on the principle that the surest way of hanging a dog is to give it a bad name.
THE SPANISH COCKPIT. An Eye-Witness Account of the Political and Social Conflicts of the Spanish Civil War by Franz Borkenau. Foreword by Gerald Brenan. First published 1937. eBook £1.50/€2.00 (see eBookshelf ). Also available from Kindle and Kobo
Austrian sociologist and disillusioned former Comintern official Franz Borkenau visited Republican Spain between August and September 1936, and again in January-February 1937. The account of his first-hand experiences as an independent socialist observer in revolutionary Spain, ‘The Spanish Cockpit’, was published in the early summer of 1937, when it impressed and influenced the recently-returned POUM miliciano George Orwell who recommended it (in a letter dated 1 August 1937) as ‘an excellent book’ for anyone wishing to understand Spanish affairs.
“The amount of expropriation in the few days since 19 July is almost incredible. The largest hotels, with one or two exceptions, have all been requisitioned by working class organisations (not burnt, as had been reported in many newspapers). So were most of the larger stores. Many of the banks are closed, the others bear inscriptions declaring them under the control of the Generalitat. Practically all the factory-owners we were told, had either fled or been killed, and their factories taken over by the workers. Everywhere large posters at the front of impressive buildings proclaim the fact of expropriation… All the churches had been burnt. “ (The Spanish Cockpit, pp 70-71)
“The Spanish revolution and civil war of 1931-39 has produced an oceanic quantity of original source materials, including documentation and memoirs, along with secondary studies, seldom matched in 20th century historiography. It is a paradox of this topic that the ‘history of its history’ has been controversial and remains so, eight decades later.
Forty-two years ago this month — 2 March 1974 — anarchist Salvador Puig Antich was garroted in Barcelona’s Modelo Prison. The following is a personal account by his sisters of the events leading up to his judicial murder.
“In his cell, facing a warder, the impeccably uniformed soldier informed our brother, alvador Puig Antich, of the double death sentences passed on him. According to the witnesses, Salvador wept. He was the third born of a family of six brothers and sisters. From an early age he had shown a tendency to advocate on behalf of the poor. He was expelled mid-way through the school year from the Bonanova De La Salle College for defending a fellow pupil unfairly treated by a teacher. It was hard to find another college to take him, but he did go back to school, the Pompeya Capuchin College; a year later he entered the Salesian College in Mataró where he sat his baccalaureate. It was there that he met Father Manero, the priest who was to be his companion during his last night a few years later.
The Servicio de Evacuación de Refugiados Españoles or Servicio de Emigración de los Republicanos Españoles (SERE) (Emigration/evacuation service for Spanish Republican refugees) was, supposedly, a non-sectarian refugee support organisation set up in February 1939 under the aegis of pro-Stalinist prime minister Juan Negrín. Distribution of SERE’s funds — responsibility for which had been arbitratrily arrogated to themselves by Negrín and his Socialist Party (PSOE) cronies — was suspended in July 1939 on the grounds the organisation had ‘run out of money’. In reality, according to many informed observers, including Cipriano Mera and anarchist historian Francisco Olaya Morales, the funds had been misappropriated, administered and distributed without any proper oversight, and benefited, primarily, senior Republicans close to Negrín. Cipriano Mera wrote the following letter to SERE clarifying his role in militarisation, the National Defence Council and in the pre-emptive coup against Negrín — and effectively informing them what they could do with their offer to him of financial support.
“Those like myself who have travelled a piece down life’s highway, a path strewn more with thorns than with flowers; those like myself who are over the hill in life and closer to its setting than its rising; those like myself who have spent twenty years fighting to see to it that the long-suffering worker may live, if not well then at least a touch less badly; those like myself who have been, not onlookers but actors in the drama of war, are entitled, not to force others to follow in our footsteps, but to give us a hearing, since, amid the enormous brutality called war, we have left chunks of our dignity, pained by the impossibility of our acting in accordance with the dictates of our revolutionary consciousness; those like myself whose hearts have been hardened over the course of the struggle by the brutal errors made by an infinite number of individuals – some irresponsible for want of the understanding required to make a clear distinction between good and evil, but others bearing great responsibility because endowed with their vast learning – we, I say again, are within our rights in speaking candidly to any Spaniard who in one way or another, has had a hand in the war waged against international fascism.
LA NUEVE — 24 August 1944. The Spanish Republicans who liberated Paris by Evelyn Mesquida. Preface by Jorge Semprún, four articles by Albert Camus and postscript by General Michel Roquejeoffre — eBook £1.50 available direct from our eBookshelf (or from Kindle £4.32 and/or Kobo £4.50). There are a limited number of copies of the print edition available for £15.00 (inc. postage): Paypal payments to email@example.com
They are the heroes from a hidden page of history, the soldiers of La Nueve, No 9 company of General Leclerc’s renowned 2nd Armoured Division (DB). According to the history books, the liberation of Paris began on 25 August 1944 when General Leclerc’s 2e Division Blindée (2e DB) entered the city via the Porte d’Orléans. In fact, Leclerc began the push earlier, on 24 August, when he ordered Captain Raymond Dronne, commander of No 9 Company, to enter Paris without delay. Dronne thrust towards the city centre via the Porte d’Italie at the head of two sections from No 9 Company, better known as La Nueve.
Cipriano Mera Sanz nació en Madrid, el 4 de noviembre de 1897. Su padre, peón de albañil, era también, a ratos perdidos, cazador furtivo. A los once años, en vez de ir a la escuela, tuvo que empezar a ganarse la vida, de modo que, según las estaciones del año, salía de madrugada al campo para coger setas, níspolas, zarzamoras, bellotas o romero —que vendía luego en el barrio— y algunas tardes trabajaba en los tejares. A los dieciséis años entró como pinche en la construcción, y su padre le afilió a la Sociedad de Albañiles «El Trabajo», adherida a la UGT. Llegó a los veinte años sin conocer apenas las primeras letras. Entonces se inscribió en una academia y asistió durante ocho meses a clases nocturnas. Parejamente, empezaron a preocuparle las cuestiones sociales, extrañándose de la pasividad que caracterizaba a la Sociedad de Albañiles, cuya relación con sus afiliados solía limitarse a la de unos recaudadores que visitaban regularmente los domicilios de aquéllos.
Porlier Prison (Prisión Provincial de Hombres, número 1) located at 58 calle General Díaz Porlier, was Madrid’s principal prison until 1944 when it was returned to the Church (Padres Escolapios/Piarist Fathers) on the completion of Franco’s new slave-labour built prison in Carabanchel Alto. It is now the Colegio Universitario Cardenal Cisneros. According to the autobiography of socialist (JSU) poet Marcos Ana, who entered Porlier in May 1939 (and was subsequently sentenced to death in 1941, then commuted to 30 years, 23 of which he served until his release in 1962) it had six galleries and held 5,000 prisoners, of whom more than 1000, held in the Third Gallery, were under sentence of death.
Journalist Diego San José, imprisoned in Porlier in 1940 stated that during his time there were between 80 and 100 executions every day. According to historians Mirta Núñez and Antonio Rojas, between May and December 1939, 978 people were shot in Madrid alone (47 of them women) — 102 of them on 24 June. Executions by firing squad (‘sacas’) were carried out in nearby Madrid cemeteries, particularly in the Cementerio del Este (now Almudena cemetery) where 2,663 are recorded as having been executed by firing squad), and by garrote-vil in the prison itself.
Feudal Society (£1.50 — eBookshelf) is a great work of historical synthesis in the finest French tradition. The author treats feudalism as a living and vitalising force in the society of Western Europe from the ninth to the thirteenth century. After surveying the social and intellectual conditions in which feudalism developed, Bloch examines the nature of the bond of kinship both as a predecessor and as a concomitant of vassalage. The core of the book is a masterly account of the creation of ties of dependence and of relations of lord and vassal, and the origins and nature of the fief. The nobility and their way of life, knighthood and chivalry, the clergy and other forces in society are also portrayed, and the work concludes with a discussion on feudalism as a type of society. Throughout the author treats history as a living organism and endless process of creative evolution. “Here is one of those rare books of impeccable scholarship (superbly translated by Mr Manyon) which no intelligent person could possibly read without pleasure and interest and excitement. What Bloch’s book gives us is the anatomy of an age. Some would call it sociology rather than history, or at any rate historical sociology. If so, it adds a new dimension which most historical writing lacks.”—GEOFFREY BARRACLOUGH, The Observer