Thursday, June 22, 2006

Durruti


To condense in a few lines the life story of he who was the true expression of rebelliousness and anarchist utopia is a complicated but necessary task, because the testimony of liberty in struggle that was the life of Buenaventura Durruti must be broadcast yesterday, today and always.He was born the second of eight brothers on July 14 1896 in Leon, city of the Spanish province by the same name. As an adolescent he is initiated on the same path as his father, a workingman affiliated with the socialist union UGT. As a member of his railroad section, he takes active part in the revolutionary general strike of August 1917, promoted in conjunction with the anarchosyndicalist Confederacio'n Nacional del Trabajo (CNT); which caused his being expelled fron the UGT for being too radical, his persecution by the police and his escape to France, where he comes in contact with exiled anarchists, joining CNT of Asturias upon his return in January 1919.He joins the open fight against the aggresive employers in the Asturian mines and is arrested for the first time in March 1919; he escapes and by December he is in San Sebastian, an industrial city in the Basque country, with a job as a metal worker. The bourgeoisie was then promoting a wave of assasinations of syndicalists and Durruti joins a self-defense group - Los Justicieros, they plan a sensational hit in reprisal: an attempt on the life of King Alfonso XIII who would be visiting the City in August 1920, but their plan is discovered and they must escape. Durruti continues doing dangerous clandestine work throughout the nation, meeting Francisco Ascaso who would be his fraternal friend and comrade. They travel to Barcelona in August 1922 and form the group Crisol, that would later adopt a name that would be famous in libertarian history: Los Solidarios. This group brought together the most valuable elements of the catalan proletariat, hitting hard against reaction where it hurt the most, until the Spanish political crisis brought the dictatorship of General Primo de Rivera, installed September 1923 with the King's wholehearted support. Proper praise for what Los Solidarios did in courageous defense of the CNT during that hopeless hour has never been given. Hundreds of militants fell and CNT could barely survive and recover thanks to its deep roots among the working class, but the price was high: most of the Solidarios were killed or served long sentences, while Ascaso and Durruti had to seek refuge in Paris.The failure of the insurrection plans cooked up during exile forces them to travel to Latin America in December 1924, accompanied by Gregorio Jover, in search for funds for the outlawed and persecuted Iberian anarchosyndicalism. Following 15 months of unbelievable adventures including urban guerrilla actions to obtain supplies, unknown in those parts until then, chases and chilling escapes through several countries. The solidary assistance from an endless number of comrades that supported them wherever they went was their infallible resource in outsmarting police persecution.During quiet times they earn their frugal living as laborers, without ceasing to take part in union work from the grassroots, as the legend grows about these men. In April 1926 they return to Europe and are seduced by an espectacular idea: to kidnap the Spanish King and the dictator when they visit Paris on July 14, but are captured by the police and, after a stormy trial, are expelled from France in July 1927. They keep on living as semiclandestine militants abroad until the fall of Alfonso XIII in April 1931.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

AS TRUE TODAY AS WHEN HE SPOKE...


There are only two roads, victory for the working class, freedom, or victory for the fascists which means tyranny. Both combatants know what's in store for the loser.

Monday, June 12, 2006

The Ballad of The Moon

The Ballad of the Moon

The moon came into the fore
her bustle of flowering nard.
The little boy stares at her, stares.
The boy is staring hard.
In the shaken air
the moon moves her arms,
and shows lubricious and pure,
her breasts of hard tin.
"Moon, moon, moon, run!
If the gypsies come,
they will use your heart
to make white necklaces and rings."
"Let me dance, my little one.
When the gypsies come,
they'll find you on the anvil
with your lively eyes closed tight."
Moon, moon, moon, run!
I can feel their horses come."
"Let me be, my little one,
don't step on me,
all starched and white!"
Closer comes the the horseman,
drumming on the plain.
The boy is in the forge;
his eyes are closed.
Through the olive grove
come the gypsies,
dream and bronze,
their heads held high,
their hooded eyes.
Oh, how the night owl calls,
calling, calling from its tree!
The moon is climbing through the sky
with the child by the hand.
They are crying in the forge,
all the gypsies, shouting, crying.
The air is veiwing all,
views all.
The air is at the viewing.
Garcia Lorca

Friday, June 09, 2006

Jack White

Irish Anarchist Jack White (no he's not a member of the White Stripes) tell us his impression of Civil War Spain.


A Rebel in Barcelona:Jack White's first Spanish impressions
(1st pub. November 11th 1936)
I came out to Barcelona as administrator of the second British Red Cross Unit. Two nurses and myself came on in advance to find a site for the hospital of the Unit somewhere on the Teruel front.
Unfortunately the Unit had been cancelled all except four ambulances which are now en route somewhere between Paris and Barcelona. Some of these ambulances are to go, I believe to the first Unit at Grañen. Till they arrive in any case, I am left with no-one to administrate and nothing to do, so a friend in the CNT-FAI has asked me to write my impressions for broadcast or the press.
My first and deepest impression is that of the natural nobility of the Catalan people. I got that impression as early as Port Bou, where we had to spend six hours waiting for the Barcelona train. A bright sun was shining which tempted me to bathe in the bay. After undressing I left my coat, with some 80 English pounds in the pocket, on the rocks close to a frequented path with a sense of its perfect safety. Half an hour in Cataluña and a few conversations in my faulty Spanish had made me feel I was among friends, who appreciated the effort of the British workers and intelligentsia to help their cause. I would not have dared to risk such a large sum of money unguarded at any English watering place. Here I felt it was guarded by the revolutionary solidarity of Cataluña and even of the international solidarity of the working class of which Cataluña is now the bulwark.
This impression of revolutionary honour and revolutionary order has been maintained by all I have seen and experienced during the week I have been in Barcelona. On one occasion after a trying morning rushing round after the necessary passes to go on to Valencia - that was before the cancellation of the unit and I wanted to go on to the front to find a place for our hospital as soon as possible - I inadvertently paid my taxi driver four pesetas more than his fare. He brought it back to me remarking "eso sobra". This happened as I was entering the door of the Regional Committee of the CNT-FAI, the headquarters of those terrible Anarchists of whose misdeeds we read so much in the Capitalist Press now. I am not going to enter into controversy, philosophic or political, I simply record my experiences, without fear or favour. It is a fact, that the Barcelona churches were burnt, and many of them, where roof and walls are still standing, are used to house medical or commissariat stores instead of, as previously, being used by the fascists as fortresses. I suspect their present function is nearer the purpose of a religion based by its founder on the love of God and the Neighbour. However that may be, the destruction of the churches has not destroyed love and honesty in Spain. If they are not based on the love of God, they are based on brotherliness, selflessness and self respect, which have to be experienced to be believed. Never, till I came to revolutionary Barcelona, had I seen waiters and even shoeblacks refuse a tip. Here the refusal of anything in excess of the exact bill or fee is as invariable as the courtesy with which it is done. This very courtesy makes one feel mean for having offered it, a benighted bourgeois, automatically continuing bourgeois habits and unable to grasp the self- respect of the workers now they are so largely in control. My first day taught me my lesson. I never offend now.
You will have heard no doubt about the Dublin Rising of 1916. That rising is now thought of as purely a national one, of which the aims went no further than the national independence of Ireland. It is conveniently forgotten that not only was the manifesto published by the "bourgeois" leaders conceived in a spirit of extreme liberal democracy, but, associated with the bourgeois leaders, was James Connolly, the international socialist, who some regarded as the greatest revolutionary fighter and organizer of his day. In command of the Irish Citizen Army, which I had drilled, he made common cause with the Republican separatists against the common Imperial enemy. It is said that he threatened to come out with the Citizen Army alone, if the bourgeois Republicans shirked the issue.
It was then the middle of the great war. the rising was ruthlessly suppressed by England and sixteen of the leaders were executed. Connolly himself, badly wounded in the Dublin Post Office which was shelled to ruins by a British gun-boat, was strapped in a chair and shot by a firing-squad before he recovered.
Here in Cataluña, the union of the working class and nation starts off under better auspices than were possible in Ireland. In Cataluña the internal socialist reconstruction goes hand in hand with the armed fight against Spanish and international fascism. You are in advance of us in Syndico-Anarchist and Socialist construction. You are advance of us in dealing with the clerico-fascist menace. Again and again in Ireland the revolutionary Republican movement comes a bit of the way towards Socialism, and scurries back in terror when the Roman catholic Church looses its artificial thunder of condemnation and excommunication.
I come of an Ulster Protestant family. There is a saying in Ulster (the north-east province of Ireland) "Rome is a lamb in adversity, a snake in equality and a lion in prosperity". I am glad that in Cataluña you have made Rome into a lamb. In Ireland Rome is still a lion, or rather a wolf in sheep's clothing. The priests inflame the mob and then pretend to deplore the mob-violence which they have instigated. Last Easter Sunday, I had myself to fight for three kilometres against the Catholic actionists, who attacked us on the streets as we were marching to honour the memory of the Republican dead who fell in Easter week 1916. The pious hooligans actually came inside the cemetery and tore up the grave rails to attack us.
In Ireland, as in Spain, it was the priests who started methods of fire and sword against the people. yet they complain bitterly when their own weapons are turned against themselves.
Comrades of Cataluña! In your hour of trial when you hold the barricades not only for yourselves but for us all, I greet you with the voice of revolutionary Ireland, smothered awhile but destined to regain its strength. I hold myself honoured to be among you, to serve if I can in whatever capacity I can be most useful.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

ABE OSHEROFF

When the war in Spain started, it was no great shock," Osheroff says now. "From the moment Hitler came to power, I hated him, but I couldn't do a fuckin' thing about it. But when I saw the war in Spain change from a civil war into an international war, that's when I knew I had to go. I was 21, I was young and I had a gorgeous-lookin' girlfriend, so it wasn't the easiest decision, but I decided that if I didn't go, I'd feel guilty about it for the rest of my life. So I went." Abe Osheroff was born in Brooklyn in 1915 to impoverished Jewish immigrants. His lifelong love affair with social activism, what he calls "radical humanism", began early in his teens when he formed the Brownville Athletic and Cultural Club which promoted, eccentrically, lifing weights and listening to classical music. His first political activity was helping to carry the furniture of tenants evicted by their landlords back into their apartments. The police frowned on his activities and he was caught and beaten by New York's finest. "They called me a dirty Communist Jew bastard" Abe recollects, "all of which was true, except the bastard part."In 1937 Osherhoff heard, along with some 50,000 men from around the world, the call to the International brigades. Newsreel footage of the bombing of Guernica tipped the balance. Leaving behind his beautiful girlfriend, he defied the prohibition of the State Department and managed to make it to Spain via France. But not without incident - the ship he took from France to Barcelona was torpedoed two miles off the Spanish coast. Osherhoff swam to shore. "I was baptized." he says. In 1937, at the battle for Zaragoza he was wounded in the leg by machinegun fire. The next year, the battle against facsim lost, he returned to the U.S.In 1940 he ran for office on the Communist party ticket. Despite his injuries from the Spanish war he seved in the American Army in World War Two. After the war he worked as a carpenter with his father back in Brooklyn. In 1949, at the beginnings of McCarthyism, an acquaintance in the justice department informed him that he was about to be jailed for his former political activities. Osheroff had little choice but go on the lamb, living the next eight years underground, a fugitive from the FBI. When the Supreme Court halted the persecution of Communists in 1957 he re-emerged.And how. In Mississippi in 1964, he employed his skills as a carpenter to build houses for black Americans living in poverty. And though he personally rejected communism in the 1950's when the proof of Stalin's atrocities came out, he headed to Nicaragua to do the same in the 1980's.In between he protested repression and militarism in Vietnam, Guatemala, Indonesia, Chile and Panama. Although he never stopped working with wood, his main income for the past three decades has been derived from lecturing at colleges all over the U.S. In 1974 he produced the documentary "Dreams and Nightmares" about the Spanish war. And he did it in typical Osheroff fashion. With "a hunk of money and a bottle of booze" he bribed contacts at the American TV networks to obtain archival footage of the world. After setting up a dummy film company professing to be producing a film called "The Shield Against Communism, The North Atlantic Treaty Organization" he conned more footage from The Pentagon and the CIA.Now in his nineties and living in Seattle Mr. Osheroff has never retired from "Radical Humanism". To the Seattle Post Intellegencer he reports, "I'm having a wonderful old age, I'm richer than Bill Gates." We salute you, sir.