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.
Translated by Paul Sharkey. Text transcribed and notes added by Franco Bertolucci 
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.
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.
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.
not want to admit it but you know very well that whenever you revert to a
certain form of struggle that might be described as armed struggle, there is a
very good chance that things are not going to come to a happy conclusion.”
I am Michel Camilleri and I was
known as Ratapanade, meaning Bat, but between ourselves and as Jean-Marc
(i.e. Jean-Marc Rouillan) has stated in his books, back in the day a lot of
folk reckoned that that was my real surname.
I am 66 years and 2 months old, whereas Jean-Marc is 66 years and 1 month. It is like when you were a kid, you used to say you were 13-and-a-half and to begin with you counted in halves and then when you come to the end you are still counting in halves. No need to kid yourself. Your impression is that time passes slowly whereas it whizzes by (Laughter).
we shall try to add our own particular grain of sand to the odd and sometimes
thorny topic of the role of women in the guerrilla struggle. Whereas their part
in support roles and their roles as couriers meant that their participation was
unquestioned and crucial … estimates say that they made up about 40% or
almost 50% in regions like Galicia and Asturias … it is scarcely surprising
that estimates of their engagement with guerrilla activity fall to about 2%, giving
an overall figure of 150. Or maybe this not such a surprise, if we look at the
overall status of women within Spain, with a slight exception made for the
republican era, as witness this late 19th century article in La Vanguardia:
“From her intellect to her stature,
everything about her is inferior and the opposite of men … Woman, per se, is
not like man, a complete being; she is merely the instrument of reproduction,
the one destined to perpetuate the species; whereas man is destined to bring
her progress, the generator of intelligence, at once creative and a demiurge of
the world of society. And so everything bends in the direction of inequality
between the sexes and to non-equivalence.”