Tomás Ibáñez: Anarchism as a way of life

A new way of life, not a new faith….

Friedrich Nietzsche, The Antichrist

To speak of anarchism as a way of life, as an ethics, takes us to difficult questions about what it is to be, to act, as an anarchist. And perhaps among what is most important about the written work of Tomás Ibáñez is that he has never shied away from confronting them directly, as he does in the work that we share below, translated from the French and published with Grande Angle Libertaire. And it is a reflection which calls up again the centrality of mutual aid in anarchist practice.

Tomás Ibáñez

Existential Anarchism

(Grande Angle Libertaire, 25/05/2020)

If the reference to the “existential element” of a political option refers to the fact that, apart from a membership of simple convenience, people who commit to it integrate this political choice as a structuring element of their social and personal identity, with all of the repercussions that this has on their lives, it is clear that this is certainly present in anarchism, but also, from left to right, in the whole, broad range of political ideologies.

On the other hand, if this reference refers to the fact that a political option carries an existential dimension, the range narrows considerably and anarchism then presents itself, not only as one of the options which satisfy this condition, but again as one of those where it asserts itself most clearly. From my point of view, there is no doubt as regards this matter, the existential element is constitutively part of anarchism.

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“And now, return to your homes. Spanish Republicans in the French Resistance (Y ahora, volved a vuestras casas. Republicanos españoles en la Resistencia francesa by Evelyn Mesquida (Ediciones B)

In a work of painstaking research, Evelyn Mesquida has been looking into the hundreds of Spanish republican veterans, male and female, who came to the defence of freedom through the French Resistance. A book that complements her last book, La Nueve. (Translated by Paul Sharkey)

Following publication of La Nueve, Evelyn Mesquida now offers us the heroic and tragic tale of those Spanish republicans who, following defeat in the Civil War, put up a stunning fight against the Nazi foe from within the French Resistance.

Like the many Spaniards who served in the French army and fought in the Second World War, those refugees who took part in the French Resistance were also overlooked by the history books. But they were there.” Since their arrival in France in 1939, most of them had had to live in barracks in concentration camps, huts in the labour camps, shacks and caves in the mountains and in the forests throughout the country. Which is where they were still living when, in September 1944, in an anxious and crass moment, General de Gaulle asked them to return to their homes, following the crucial battles they had fought.

The author, Evelyn Mesquida is a journalist and for many years the Paris correspondent of the magazine Tiempo. She spent a decade working on La Nueve, having interviewed many of the survivors and published several articles on the topic.

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The Life and Universe of anarchist Octavio Alberola by Agustín Comotto (translated by Paul Sharkey)

Agustín Comotto’s new biography of Octavio Alberola, El peso de las estrellas (Rayo Verde), delves into the 20th century libertarian struggle through the life, considered thoughts and ideals of one of the most pugnacious anarchists of our day.

In Octavio Alberola we have the red thread connecting and affording meaning to the continuity between the libertarian struggles under the Republic and the civil war, the anti-Franco struggle, the revolts and armed actions of the 1970s, right up to the fresh re-formulations of anarchism in a globalized world. The narrative and his thoughts on his life and times as offered to us by the author of this book, the Argentinean writer and artist Agustín Comotto, through the skilful use of two voices embodying two generations, allows for a contextual analysis of things.  We have the voice of a protagonist who lived through historic times and personal and collective tragedies, and an activist familiar with great players in history such as García Oliver, Cipriano Mera, Federica Montseny, Fidel Castro, Che Guevara, Daniel Cohn-Bendit, Régis Debray and Giangiacomo Feltrinelli.

Furthermore, the book plunges into the contradictions and misgivings, certainties and ethical commitment to his ideas and to society that have always guided Alberola’s life through an unrelenting re-framing of the anarchist idea and the meaning of social struggle, not forgetting what it means to live one’s own individual life in accordance with anarchist ideas too. We discover not just the activist but also the person alive to and curious about the world of culture and thought. He was a very good friend of Agustín García Calvo and locked horns with Noam Chomsky, among others. His intellectual interests range from quantum physics and relativity theory to art, music, history, cinema, engineering and architecture.

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DIARY OF DEPORTEE ANTONIO DETTORI, RED TRIANGLE NO 94450

Translated by Paul Sharkey. Text transcribed and notes added by Franco Bertolucci [1]

Antonio Dettori. Red triangle and number used to identify prisoners in the Nazi Bolzano Transit Camp, 1944-1945

This is a selection from his journal, the full version of which opens and closes in Genoa. In between come arrest, torture, transfer to Germany, the lager, forced march to another lager, liberation and home-coming to Italy. Carrying the diary with him throughout. An extraordinary story. The diary is to be published in full by BFS (Biblioteca Franco Serantini), Pisa.

II

A young informer (G.P.), in the pay of the ‘Silvio Parodi’ Brigata Nera [Black Brigade] having successfully infiltrated the ranks of the ‘Squadre di Azione Antifascista’ [Antifascist Action Squads], invited a number of members of said Squads to a meeting, supposedly a reading of a manifesto from the ‘National Salvation Committee’. Scarcely had the invitees arrived at the meeting place than they were arrested.

During the interrogations we learnt of the scale of that informer’s efforts and the identity of the informer himself. In fact, our interrogators knew all about our activities right down to the tiniest detail, especially as regards weapons, funding and past contacts with partisans and political figures. So, on the evening of 19 August 1944, at 21.00 hours, the National Republican Guard (GNR) and agents from the ‘Silvio Parodi’ Black Brigade, together with personnel from the ‘Squadra Mai Morti’ from Pisa (relocated to Genoa for purposes relating to the war) burst, armed and numerous, into our meeting place, arresting four individuals plus the informer himself, he being set free later on the pretext that he had military duties.[2]

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ITALIAN-SPEAKING ANARCHISTS DEPORTED TO GERMANY DURING WWII by Franco Bertolucci (from ‘A Rivista Anarchica’, Milan, No 415, April 2017). Translated by Paul Sharkey

Bodies of a Brunhausen KZ Außenkommando, most of them Italian.

1. Carlo ALVISI: Barber, born Bologna on 5 May 1918. In October 1936, he set off to defend the Spanish Republic, enlisting in the Italian Section of the CNT-FAI’s “Ascaso” Column and fought on the Huesca front. In late January 1937, he returned to Luxembourg and was arrested there by the Germans in July 1941 and put in a concentration camp near Berlin. On 20 April 1942, he was released and made his way back to Luxembourg where he worked in a foundry. Rearrested, he was handed over to the Italian police and convicted for failure to do his military service. After 8 September 1943, he was freed, but during the Nazi occupation of Italy he was deported to the Sachsenhausen concentration camp. Freed at the end of the war, he went back to living in Luxembourg. After 18 January 1971, he adopted the name PIANELLI, having been acknowledged by his father, Ambrosio PIANELLI. Date of death unknown.

Dachau, 24 May 1933: first prisoners doing forced labour.

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