November 1936 was a milestone in the civil war. Having surrounded Madrid, the mutinous fascist army was making a supreme effort to overrun the capital. On 4 November 1936 the ‘notable leaders’ [Horacio Prieto (CNT National Secretary before Vázquez), Mariano R. Vázquez (CNT National Secretary), Federica Montseny (Minister of Health), Diego Abad de Santillán (Secretary of the Peninsular Committee of the FAI), Joan Peiró (Minister for Industry), Juan López (Minister for Trade), García Oliver (Minister of Justice)] of the anarcho-syndicalist CNT and anarchist FAI Peninsular Committee finally and completely abandoned the Confederation’s apolitical stance by taking it upon themselves to accept four nominal ministries in the central government of Largo Caballero. Many believed this was a cynical move on the part of Caballero to facilitate the government’s flight to Valencia and to pre-empt any criticism, or, presumably, any revolutionary initiatives from the anarcho-syndicalist rank and file. Coincidentally (if you believe in coincidences!), two days later, on 6 November, Largo Caballero and his cabinet, including his newly appointed anarchist ministers, fled to Valencia — while the people of Madrid rallied to the city’s defence to cries of ‘Long Live Madrid Without Government!’
A NEW WORLD IN OUR HEARTS, The Faces of Spanish Anarchism, Edited by Albert Meltzer. Contributors: Albert Meltzer; Frank Mintz; José Peirats; Gaston Leval; Andrew Giles Peters. Originally published 1978 by Cienfuegos Press, Sanday, Orkney. Over the course of 120 pages, through a series of interlinked essays, the contributors discuss the history of Spanish Anarchism, the Revolution in practice, the post-Revolution resistance and internal anarchist organization, and the reemergence of the CNT and Spanish Anarchism following the death of Franco. As enlightening, informative, and relevant as it was when it first appeared almost 30 years ago.
A biographical hommage to Italian anarchist Errico Malatesta (1853-1932) by his lifelong friend and fellow anarchist Luigi Fabbri (1877-1935). Errico Malatesta is, undoubtedly, one of the ” giants ” of the 19th century revolutionary movement— an agitator, man of action and a thought-provoking writer. Malatesta was active in the international anarchist movement both as activist and propagandist for nearly sixty years. As a glance through the archives of the anarchist press of the time will show, he was one of the movement’s most respected members, as well as one of its most controversial. He was active in many parts of the world, as well as the editor of a number of Italian anarchist journals, including the daily Umanità Nova. Half his life was spent in exile and the respect he was accorded by governments is insanely evidenced by the fact that he spent more than ten years in prison, mainly awaiting trial. Juries, by contrast, showed a different respect by almost always acquitting him, recognising that the only galantuomo, that the only honest man, was the one facing them in the prisoners’ cage!
Bourgeois Influences on Anarchism was written in 1914 by Italian anarchist communist Luigi Fabbri (1877-1935), around the time the opening shots of WWI were being fired. In it he addresses problems he sees as resulting from the stereotyping of anarchism both in bourgeois literature and the media, and the negative effect this was having on popular culture, and on the actual anarchist movement.
“The minds of men, especially of the young, thirsting for the mysterious and extraordinary, allow themselves to be easily dragged by the passion for the new toward that which, when coolly examined in the calm which follows initial enthusiasm, is absolutely and definitively repudiated. This fever for new things, this audacious spirit, this zeal for the extraordinary has brought to the anarchist ranks the most exaggeratedly impressionable types, and at the same time, the most empty headed and frivolous types, persons who are not repelled by the absurd, but who, on the contrary, engage in it. They are attracted to projects and ideas precisely because they are absurd, and so anarchism comes to be known precisely for the illogical character and ridiculousness which ignorance and bourgeois calumny have attributed to anarchist doctrines.”
The first English translation of Fabbri’s classic dissection of problems which still plague anarchism today, such as the identification of anarchism in the capitalist press with disorganization, chaos, and terrorism, and the consequent embracement of such things by some “anarchists.”
Peter Kropotkin’s comprehensive study of the popular and parallel movements that changed forever the course of European history, the French Revolution; from the earliest revolutionary stirrings among the peasants to the agrarian risings in 1789, the struggles for and against the feudal laws, the real causes of the movement of May 31, etc., the contending struggles for political power, and through the Terror to political reaction.
The more one studies the French Revolution the clearer it is how incomplete is the history of that great epoch, how many gaps in it remain to be filled, how many points demand elucidation. How could it be otherwise? The Great Revolution, that set all Europe astir, that overthrew everything, and began the task of universal reconstruction in the course of a few years, was the working of cosmic forces dissolving and re-creating a world. And if in the writings of the historians who deal with that period and especially of Michelet, we admire the immense work they have accomplished in disentangling and co-ordinating the innumerable facts of the various parallel movements that made up the Revolution, we realise at the same time the vastness of the work which still remains to be done.