ANARCHISM AND GERHARD RICHTER by Moham Ratnam

The Theory of Anarchism

Gerhard Richter (1932—)

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In order for me to go on and examine the importance of anarchy in Gerhard Richter’s work, ‘Anarchism’ as a concept needs to be explained. Anarchy is often misunderstood, due to bad press, as being a state of chaos. This is far from the truth. Indeed, there are rigid theories put down by philosophers of Anarchism, validating it as a logical and ordered theory.

Among others, I will be referring to four main philosophers of ‘Anarchism’: Bakunin, Proudhon, Godwin and Kropotkin. Although these four differ in their attitudes, taken as a whole they provide the most comprehensive guide to Anarchistic thinking.

There are four basic criteria for a minimum definition of Anarchism. According to J P Clark,

“A View of the ideal society as being non-coercive, non-dominating and non-exploitative.”

“Anarchism has a criticism of existing institutions, based on this view of the ideal, present institutions are criticized as being oppressive, and destructive of freedom, individuality and autonomy.”

“Anarchists have a view of human nature which gives hope for a significant movement in the direction of the ideal, they believe that people have a great potential for autonomous creative action, which can be realised if the requisite social conditions are created.”

“Finally, Anarchists have a distinctive set of practical proposals for immediate change in the direction of the idea. They believe that voluntaristic, decentralist, liberatory alternatives can now be established to begin the development of a free human society.” (1)

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The Murder and Burial of Camillo Berneri and Francesco Barbieri in Barcelona, May 1937 by Agustín Guillamón (Translated by Paul Sharkey)

  1. The Murder

Francesco Barbieri (1895-1937)
Camilo Berneri (1897-1937)

“At 10.00 a.m. on the morning of Tuesday 4 May, two individuals wearing red arm-bands presented themselves at Apartment No 1, 2 Plaza del Ángel. They were received by comrades Berneri[1] and Barbieri[2], whom they told not to shoot as they were friends and there was nothing to fear. Our comrades replied that, as antifascists who had come to Spain to defend the revolution, they had no reason to be shooting at antifascist workers.

The two individuals then left and were seen from the window to enter the premises opposite belonging to the UGT union. At around 3.00 p.m. the same day, five or six individuals wearing the same red arm-bands as the ones who called that morning, plus steel helmets and shotguns called to the apartment again, stating that they had authority to effect a search. Seeing that the search was thorough, comrade Tantini handed three rifles over to them, stating that they had been left there for safe-keeping by three militians who had turned up on leave from the Huesca front. After collecting the rifles, the UGT personnel and policemen left, just two of the latter staying behind to complete the search. Papers found in comrade Fantosi’s room and a few books and maps from comrade Mastrodicasa’s room were taken away. As for comrade Berneri’s room[3], given the volume of the material there, they made off with only a portion of it, stating that they would be back with a car. As they left, they warned our comrades not to venture outside and to keep away from the windows, unless they wanted to get themselvers shot. The searchers, upon being questioned, replied that they had had reports of armed Italian anarchists in the apartment.

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THE OBLIGATORY MARTYR by André Prudhommeaux (1902-1968) (Translated by Paul Sharkey)

André Prudhommeaux

André Prudhommeaux (15 October 1902 – 13 November 1968 ) was an was an early Council Communist, then an anarchist publisher and bookstore owner whose Paris shop (opened in 1928) specialized in social history and was a venue for many debates and discussions. An agronomist, libertarian socialist, editor of Le Libertaire and Le Monde Libertaire, writer and publicist, he grew up in a Fourierist “Familistere” cooperative association, but always adopted a non-sectarian approach to the left, generally. His bookshop carried publications of the Italian Left, the Bordiguists, and council communism, and he was prominent in defending Marinus Van Der Lubbe, the Dutch council communist accused of setting fire to the Reichstag in February 1933. Ultimately, however, Prudhommeaux inclined more towards anarchism. 

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Some notes on Franco’s military justice system, the consejos de guerra sumarísimos

Until 1964 Franco’s political prisoners were dealt with by special military courts, ‘consejos de guerra’. The most active of these was the ‘Special Tribunal for the Represion of Freemasonry and Communism’ (Tribunal Especial para la Represión de la Masonería y el Comunismo) established on 1 March 1940. Between that date and 1953, the Tribunal heard 27,085 cases and passed sentence on 8,918 prisoners in 940 secret trials. According to the Army Board (Alto Estado Mayor) sentencing figures for 1954 were 1,266; 1955, 902; 1957, 723; 1958, 717. Its victims included those arrested in the reviving labour movement and the industrial unrest of the 1950s, including the strikes of 1951, ’53, ’57-’58, and of course the wave of student activism of 1956. According to the official figures issued by the Ministry of Justice for 1959 there were 14,957 prisoners in the regime’s jails. Of these 816 were sentenced for crimes against state security and 385 for ‘Banditry and Terrorism”. At the same time, New York Times reporter Bernjamin Welles reported that these figures didn’t include 35 women, 15 freemasons and 470 other individuals convicted of ‘common law’ crimes, but who were, in fact, political prisoners, making a total of 1,721 political prisoners held by the regime.*

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MEMORIA HISTORICA Las Relaciones Comerciales y Políticas Franco-Españolas y sus Repercusiones en las Actividades de los Refugiados Anti-Franquistas (1945-1964) por Antonio Téllez Solá

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En este compendio no examinaremos las relaciones franco-españolas en los años de la Segunda Guerra Mundial, con el régimen de Vichy, durante el cual el mariscal Philippe Petain accedió a ciertas peticiones dél gobierno franquista referentes a la extradición de dirigentes republicanos, algunos de los cuales fueron fusilados en Espana. Partiremos de 1945, cuando con la victoria de las naciones aliadas las relaciones franco-españolas adquirieron, durante varios años, un carácter muy diferente, dado que Francia preconizaba una política internacional de repudio del régimen franquista.

Los antifranquistas españoles en el exilio colaboraron activamente con las fuerzas aliadas durante la contienda y en Francia ocuparon un lugar destacado en la Resistencia contra el ocupante nazi. Al producirse la liberación, pues, gozaron de la simpatía de amplios sectores de la población, de numerosas personas políticasy, sobre todo, de autoridades locales.

El gobierno francés, mediante decreto del 15 de marzo de 1945, concedió cualidad de refugiados políticos a los españoles que habían huido del régimen franquista y en el mes de julio del mismo año creaba una Oficina central encargada de aportarles la protección jurídica y administrativa para los refugiados, bajo el patrocinio del Comité Intergubernamental para los Refugiados (CIR).

A partir de 1945 las actividades de los refugiados antifranquistas fueron objeto de incesantes y apremientes quejas de Madrid al Delegado francés en España, quejas que la prensa española secundaba activamente con campañas contra las escuelas de terrorismo en Francia, los efectivos guerrilleros cerca de la frontera y sus incursiones en la Península y también en lo referente a los consulados españoles que habían sido ocupados por los refugiados durante la etapa de la liberación de Francia. En 1945 comenzaron a ser evacuados y puestos a la disposición del Encargado de Negocios español.