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

 

Jun 152012
 

Cipriano Mera’s challenge to Germinal Esgleas (1903–81) and Vicente Llansola (1915–96), 11 September 1964

Cipriano Mera Sanz (1897-1975)

I, Cipriano Mera*, hereby impugn Germinal Esgleas**, general secretary of the Intercontinental Secretariat (SI) of the National Confederation of Labour of Spain in Exile (CNTE), on the following grounds:

FIRST: For deliberately accepting the position he currently holds, despite the fact that the Congress which appointed him rubber-stamped the performance of the DI Section (Interior Defence, the clandestine action planning section of the CNT-FAI-FIJL) — from which he later resigned — whereas he was knowingly at odds with said performance and with the aims and objectives of the aforementioned Section (the DI), and for exploiting his position — from within and without — deliberately to sabotage said Section, right from its inception.

SECOND: As the person primarily responsible for the majority of the problems that thwarted the normal coordination of activities under the Defence (DI) remit, and because of his determination to torpedo its operations, as evidenced by his resignation some months in advance of the Confederal Congress at which he knew he would be proposed as candidate for the post of general secretary, thereby pre-empting any scrutiny of his conduct in respect of his obligations as a member of the DI.

Continue reading »

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.

Continue reading »

Mar 222012
 

The 'odd couple': the perfidious Germinal Esgleas i Jaume and partner Federica Montseny i Mañé (see Pistoleros! Vol 3)

An interesting ‘Top Secret’ report on the Spanish Libertarian Movement (MLE) in exile in France by the Vichy police Special Branch (Police Judiciare General Inspectorate) dated 20 January 1942*. (Côte document – Archives du Gard 1W170). The ‘Germinal’ mentioned in the report is Germinal Esgleas i Jaume, partner of Federica Montseny, whose (joint) perfidious villainy is one of the key themes explored in Pistoleros! (Volume 3).

 Vichy, 20 January 1942. TOP SECRET

Re: The Spanish Libertarian Movement (MLE) in France.

Some months ago, the police in Casablanca stumbled upon an anarchist propaganda centre in the Spanish refugee community in Morocco. The instructions for said foreign propaganda emanated from France where the movement appeared to be under the direction of persons called “Germinal” and “Marin”. Enquiries carried out by Superintendent Taupin of the Police Judiciare General Inspectorate resulted in the identification of the promoters of this Libertarian Movement who had set themselves up as a National Committee.

Continue reading »