Obituari: Marcelino Garcia (1893-1977)

By Paul Avrich
Freedom, June 11 ’77

WITH THE passing of Marcelino Garcia on April 1, 1977, the Spanish anarchist movement in America lost one of its most dedicated and articulate spokesmen. The son of a Spanish socialist, Garcia was born in 1893 in the village of San Martin, near Oviedo in Asturias, ”where all the rebels come from,” he remarked. ”As far as I’m concerned,” he said, explaining his attraction to anarchism, ”I was born an anarchist. It was in my nature, my emotions. I didn’t have to read about it – it was within me.” As a boy of seven or eight he already admired the anarchists. ”I saw in them men who were willing to fight for the poor. Angiollo, for example. He once came to my town. He was my angel!”

Garcia came to the United States at the age of thirteen. At fifteen, he was a miner in the coal Fields of West Virginia. But soon he took to the road, ”like a gypsy,” as he put it. Amoving from place to place, he worked at a variety of jobs, from stevedore and carpenter to furnace-stoker and elevator-operator. By 1925 he had settled in New York, which he came to regard as his favourite spot on earth, apart from the town where he was born.

It was in New Yorj that Garcia met Pedro Esteve, editor of Cultura Obrera and the foremost Spanish anarchist in America. As a young man, before emigrating to the New World, Esteve had accompanied Errico Malatesta on an evangelical tour of Spain, and Garcia considered him ”the greatest influence in my life.” After Esteve’s untimely death in 1925, Garcia emerged as a leading figure within the Cultura Obrera Group. For more than two decades he edited Cultura Proletaria, which succeeded Cultura Obrera as the principal Spanish anarchist journal in America. He was also a popular speaker at anarchist picnics and meetings. An intense figure on the platform, with jet black hair and flowing black moustasche, he spoke in a quiet, lilting voice that could rise to a thundering roar, holding his audience spellbound.

During the 1920s and 30s, Garcia was active in the campaign to save Sacco and Vanzetti, in the Solidaridad Internacional Antifascista, and in other libertarian causes. In 1937 he spent several weeks in Spain (where he met Emma Goldman) and provided an eyewitness description of the social revolution to the readers of Cultura Proletaria. However, with the victory of General Franco and the outbreak of world war, the Spanish anarchist movement in America fell into decline.

1952 Cultura Proletaria suspended publication, and a few years later Garcia’s beloved companion developed a fatal blood clot which left her paralysed. Giving up his job in New York, Garcia moved to a small house in Palmerton, Pennsylvania, where he nursed his wife until her death after five years of suffering. Tragedy struck again in 1975 when his son, who lived with him at Palmerton, was killed in an accident. Last April 1, Marcelino himself passed away in his eighty-fourth year, bringing to an end his long and active career as a libertarian socialist.

Gentle yet militant, jovial yet deeply serious about his cause, Garcia exemplified the highest ideals of the movement to which he devoted his life. When I visited him at Palmerton in 1971, he spoke of the prospects for a libertarian future. Although conditions had changed since he entered the movement, he kept faith with his exalted ideal: ”Anarchism has a glorious future. In three or four years it will rise again in Spain. The doors are opening.”


THE RESISTANCE, & NOW. Thoughts after Sabate.

Black Flag No. 136, 15.7.’85, Supplement No 1
By Albert Meltzer

‘Everyone’ knows all about the Spanish civil war; – like the International Brigade was the greatest army that has existed since Connolly grouped 10,000 Irishmen in the Dublin Post Office and they all held out to the last and lived to tell the tale in every pub in the English-speaking world, or either the great military leader George Orwell said this, or else seven million priests were killed defending the faith against barbarous hordes… When one tries to say otherwise one is met not by any facts – nothing in this realm belongs to fasct – but by yawns, anyway, that was fifty years ago.

From the Anarchist point of view it is obviously of importance to know that prior to 1936 an important section of the Spanosh working class organised on anarcho-syndicalist lines, put free communism into practice in many areas, struggled against the State with almost impossible odds loaded against them, and also faced many problems such as we have today, not the least of which was a struggle within the Libertarian movement between activism and quietism, and between revolutionism and populism.

In 1936 all these conflicts came out, as well as the essential truths as to whether anarchism was possible, whether workers could really control their own factories, and also the conflict between workers who wanted revolution, and those who took advantage of the situation to slip into positions of power.

While scholars have dealt endlessly with the Spanish war, and occasionally even with the revolution, almost none have dealt with the resistance that came after.

Asked last year for books in English about post-war Resistance, I could only think of two Sabate: Guerrilla Extraordinary by Antonio Tellez, and Franco’s Prisoner by Miguel Garcia – both of which we had a hand in and both of which then were out of print! The trots with their grip on academia, have a total blank on the Resistance period, and the quietist libertarians follow them: V. Richards, author of Lessons of the Spanish Revolution reviewing Franco’s Prisoner in Freedom said: ‘Though it is quite clear that these activities would not bring down the regime, that there was some kind of resistance to Franco’s polise State must have been a source of encouragement to some of it’s enemies, though it is equally clear that very few were inspired to take to the mountains.’ The history of the Spanish revolutionary movement does in fact show that the kind of resistance presented to successive regimes was precisely what inspired the workers to have the courage to organise against genocidal repression which finally reached the point of of having to be restrained for fear of not leaving enough workers to carry on the country.

When Durruti was organising an incredible frontal attack on the dictatorship of Primo de Rivera (and Largo Caballero entered the government so as to gain an advantage for the socialist UGT over the CNT), it was the CNT that got the support of the majority of the workers, not the UGT, and they were prepared to struggle for their union in a way no orthodox trade unionists ever did for the whole period of dominant European fascism. This comes out very clearly in the film, The Short Summer of Anarchy – a documentary on the life of Durruti, the English version of which should be available for showing soon.

The Sabate Brothers

There were four Sabate brother and a sister – the younger brother and the sister took no part in their activities; as they were children, indeed Manuel, who did take part, was only nine when the civil war began – Francisco (‘el Quico’) was the best known; but José was a good fighter too (a friend of Miguel Garcia by the way). Francisco succeeded in the title of Public Enemy No. 1 for the fascist regime.

Sabate, or Sabater (whether you prefer the Catalan or the Castillan version) became a legendary lone fighter; but there were a great deal more, some surviving until the last few years and some still around.

But also, during the civil war many libertarians were quietly abandoning the revolutionary struggle, while taking part in the war, and slipping gradually into the various echelons of government. For years a militant working class had prevented a bureaucracy growing up in the CNT, their own movement; but individual militants were gradually being incorporated into the government bureaucracy. The movement, which had grown up on indivual responsibility and frequent congresses, found itself faced with entry into the government by people not elected by them as delegates, entering by invitation of the defeated Generalitat of Catalonia in the first place, and gaaining acceptance only by a personality cult or ‘star system’, never seen before as a threat.

While this was taking place, people like Sabate, the Libertarian Youth in particular, were fighting back not only at the fascist enemy but the rising dictatorship within the anti-Fascist ranks. This represented the only last hope of the Spanish revolutionaries during the war, and so it did in the period of repression afterwards.

People like Sabate – the whole of the Resistance fighters, indeed – came into their own with the relentless struggle against the Franco conquest. Miguel Garcia tells how they flooded Spain with escaping prisoners and refugees, in order to compromise the regime no less than for its own sake. Sabate concentrated on the urban military struggle, which was the only way of getting the grip of the hangman off the workers’ collar (sometimes not metaphorically either), and Tellez, in telling the story, explains why it was that neither repression nor the conspiracy of silence could wipe out all memory of Anarchism.

But what helped to kill off the Resistance was the quietist conquest of the organisation, treasuring and invoking memories of the Revolution and the deeds of the civil war and of the former organisation. They determined not to enter into illegality afterwards, and try appealing to a non-existent internation cconscience to change the regime in Spain, as a reward for their carrying on an illegal resistance in France during the war when it was legal – by international Law, if more perilous – to do so! That was what was challenged by Sabate, Facerias and all the other fighters, and it was that which occasioned the real rift in the CNT to which all these adhered to their deaths.

Had the Spanish anarcho-syndicalist movement only considered the implications of both traditions at the time. Had it realised that the traditional revolutionary anarchism exemplified by groups like the International First of May was what built the pool in which the labour organisation could swim. There would never have been the present system, where the movement has been penetrated and up for grabs by people who would never have dared enter a CNT hall in the old days – whether nats, trots or Catholic Action.

The blame lies firmly in the ‘official’ organisation of the post-Franco Exile period, moulded as it was not by the fighting CNT of pre-war or the revolution but by the compromises made in the civil war and necessitated by the exile movement existence. When, under the nomenclature of the ‘Libertarian Movement’ it was neither fighting nor an industrial force, but a shaky compromise keeping together actvists and quietists and politicos. This was the real split in the Spanish movement and what prevented it getting off the mark in the post-Franco period with a working class which had faced the holocaust, but was ready to respond with activism – just as the French working class responded to acts of mass terror by the State after the fall of the Paris Commune with individual terrorism – as it was then called – which led to the great period of revolutionary syndicalism as confidence was restored.

The sad price paid by the Organisation for its compromises with the State, and the bows to the French police by attacking Sabate when he died, is the present condition of the Spanish movement, with divisions and splits amounting to separate CNTs but not offering a clear-cut division between revolutionary activism and quietism but enabling reformism and political infiltration to flourish; the ‘renewers’ having started by criticising the reformists and then becoming reformist themselves.

Albert Meltzer.

Reseintryck från Spanien

Reseintryck från Spanien
Av Folke
BRAND 42, lördagen den 20 okt. 1934

För ett par veckor sedan kom undertecknad hem efter en kortare vistelse i Spanien.

Resan som företogs å cykel varade under 4 månader.

Det skulle tag för mycket av Brands utrymme att skildra densamma, varför jag endast skall delge mina intryck från Spanien.

Redan vid gränsen fick jag erfara hur nitiska de spanska gendarmerna äro. De sökte igenom mitt bagage in i minsta vrå för att finna revolvrar eller andra vapen.

Efter slutförd visitation trodde jag att det var klart att fortsätta resan. Tullsnokarna hindrade tyvärr dessa beräkningar, ty alla mina turistkort till trots fordrade de 220 pesetas som deposition för cykeln.

Som min plånbok ej var alltför späckad måste cykeln lämnas på franska sidan.

Det var inget annat att göra än att traska den 26 km. långa vägen till närmaste stad.

Såsom varande optimist gjorde jag tecken åt de förbifarande bilarna men de tycktes se på långt håll att jag är en farlig anarkist och gasade på för fullt.

Efter en mödosam vandring i hettan uppnåddes staden Figueras som har järnvägsförbindelse med Barcelona.

Tåget å denna linje har ungefär samma hastighet som tågen på Öland och det var därför sent på kvällen när jag kom till Barcelona.

Staden är modern och ser tilltalande ut. Detta kan man ej säga om gendarmerna som det formligen vimlar utav. Överallt ser man dem; i postkontoren, bankerna, de större affärerna och de offentliga institutionerna.

I våras strejkade buss- och spårvagnspersonalen, men av vissa orsaker förlorade arbetarna.

Många av de strejkande fingo ej tillbaka sina platser och än i dag arbeta strejkbrytare på bussar och spårvagnar.

Så gott som varje vecka under sommaren ha 2 bussar eller spårvagnar ramponerats av brandbomber.

Därför sitta 2 gendarmer i varje buss för att med sina skarpladdade karbiner skydda spårvagnsbolaget.

Detta till trots förekomma otaliga sabotagehandlingar.

Tack vare esperanto kom jag i kontakt med en spansk kamrat som visade mig en hel del sevärdheter och dessutom berättade om de spanska arbetarnas ädelmodiga kamp.

Katalonien har som bekant en egen regering. Denna är synnerligen reaktionär.

I hela Spanien hade anarkister och syndikalister rätt att ordna möten men i det ”fria” Katalonien voro FAI och CNT förbjudna.

Solidaridad Obrera, syndikalisternas dagliga tidning utkom trots att tidningen ofta måste böta stora belopp för sin kritik av regeringen.

Trots all terror är CNT den starkaste rörelsen i Katalonien. Jag hade nöjet närvara vid ett illegalt möte ordnat av FAI. Tyvärr förstod jag ej vad som sades men det var fröjd att se med vilken entusiasm man tog del i diskussionerna.

Med min spanska vän besökte jag en italiensk kamrat som satt i ett av Barcelonas fängelser för sitt stora brott att ignorera en utvisningsorder.

Enbart i detta fängelse sutto över 200 anarkosyndikalistiska fångar.

De fria kamraterna göra allt för att hjälpa de fångna.

Överallt på plank och husväggar står med stora bokstäver: Amnesti! Till och med på fängelsemurarna stod: Leve FAI.

Katalonerna äro mycket patriotiska. Det är typiskt att till och med bolsjevikerna ha ett speciellt katalanskt parti.

De enda som ej snärjts in i den patriotiska härvan äro FAI och CNT.

Förutom de många gendarmerna frapperas man också av de många feta katolska prästerna.

Men esperantistiske vän påtalade att det finns fler kyrkor än skolor.

För att motverka analfabetismen ha våra kamrater egna skolor där tusentals barn lära sig skriva och läsa.

Den vecka jag stannade i Barcelona vart jag i tillfälle att på nära håll studera den anarkosyndikalistiska rörelsen.

Valencia lockade och om resan dit skall jag skriva i nästa nummer.


Av Folke
BRAND Nr 46, lördagen den 17 november 1934


I strålande sol ankom jag till Valencia efter en uppfriskande medelhavsresa från Barcelona.

Vid hamnen lågo några större hus, men för övrigt var det mest skjul samt en och annan fabrik.

Jag måste traska 3 km. i hettan innan själva staden uppnåddes. Centrum är synnerligen modernt med sina breda avenyer och skyskrapeliknande byggnader.

Man behöver endast gå några steg från den pampiga Avenida de Blasco Ibanez så är man inne i det gamla Valencia med sina krokiga och smutsiga gränder.

Vi en av dessa gränder ha Arbetarnas Esperantoklubb sina lokaler. Där blev jag synnerligen väl mottagen av SAT-kongresskommittén (SAT = De nationslösas världsförbund.)

Redan den första kvällen måste jag tala på esperantoklubben om förhållandena i Sverge. Vad som särskilt förvånade åhörarna var, att en ”fritänkare” är överstepräst, en ”antimilitarist” krigsminister och att landet ”styres” av en soc.-dem. regering.

Jag såg på de tvivlande minerna att de tyckte det lät fantastiskt. Tvivlarna uppmanade jag intervjua de svenska soc.-dem. som senare skulle komma till kongressen.

Hundratals frågor haglade över mig: ”Är reaktionen stark?” ”Finns det många anarkister?” ”Existerar proletär enhetsfront?” I fyra timmar varade korsförhöret.

När jag talade om hur rika LO och fackföreningarna äro inflikade en kamrat: ”Om vi haft så mycket pengar skulle vi ha genomfört revolutionen för länge sedan.”
Efter mötet vart jag inbjuden av en anarkistisk kamrat att bo i hans hem under den tid jag stannade i Valencia. Detta var beläget i översta våningen i ett typiskt arbetarkvarter.

Kl. 11 på kvällen satt vi på taket och åt ”middag” bestående av kokt ris med musslor, sniglar och andra spanska läckerheter.

Den första morgonen i mitt nya hem vaknade jag av ett förfärligt oväsen. Framkommen ttill fönstret fick jag se orsaken till mitt tidiga uppvaknande. Nästan varenda familj hade en hönsgård i miniatyr i en gammal låda fastspikad i fönsterkarmen.

Vanan gör mycket och i fortsättningen sov jag utmärkt trots allt kukelikuande.

De följande dagarna besågs stadens sevärdheter. På kvällarna var det stora festligheter med offentliga uppträdanden och fyrverkeri. Det tycks mig som myndigheterna försöka dämpa missnöjet bland massorna medelst lysande fester.

I samband med festligheterna ordnades tjurfäktningar varje dag. Dessa barbariska tillställningar besökte jag ej, ty det vore ett brott att gynna dem med sin inträdesavgift.

Tiden gick med snälltågsfart och dagen för kongressens öppnande stundade.

Det är något imponerande över en internationell esperantokongress där alla delttagare förstå varandra utan att anlita tolk.

I SAT-kongressen deltogo 376 kamrater från 13 länder.

En som deltagit i internationella sammankomster vet hur svårt det är med språkfrågan.

När man ser hur lekande lätt förhandlingarna föres medelst esperanto kan man ej annat än önska att den internationella arbetarrörelsen med större förståelse måtte omfatta esperanto.
Under internationalens toner lämnade båten till Barcelona det soliga och smutsiga Valencia. Så småningom kom jag åter till franska gränsen där min cykel fortfarande stod i ett garage.

Genom Toulouse, Bordeaux, Paris, Reims gick färden till Saarområdet där ett kortare uppehåll gjordes. Överallt såg jag hakkorsflaggor och det verkade som Saar redan vore en hitlerprovins.

Resan fortsatte så utan äventyr genom Luxemburg, Belgien och Holland. I Tyskland hade jag en del svårigheter vid gränsen på grund av min röda slips och cykelvimpel.

Den 20 sept. kom en nöjd och belåten resenär till Stockholm med Kalmarbåten. Jag slutar min lilla reseskildring med en uppmaning till de kamrater som önska komma i kontakt med andra länders arbetare: Lär esperanto!


Anarkismen i Spanien.

En intervju med Fernandez Orobon.
BRAND 35, lördagen den 29 aug. 1931

Innan kamrat Orobon lämnade Sverge besökte han Arbetarnas Teaterkommittés stora fest på Skansen, där han lyssnade till Bellman, Fröding och de svenska folkvisorna samt tog en titt på våra mera betydande skådespelare.

Vi träffade honom på Skansen och passade på att intervjua honom.
– Är den anarkistiska organisationen stark i Spanien?

– Anarkismen har i Spanien alltid varit av stor betydelse. Redan från början blev anarkismen representerad genom en tämligen stark rörelse, ty den inskränkte sig icke till att spela rollen av en ideologisk sekt, utan anarkismen i Spanien gick direkt till arbetarmassorna och befruktade dem med sina tankegångar. Det är detta som förklarar det faktum att rörelsen i Spanien, trots de upprepade förföljelserna, ändå under varje period av förföljelse kunde hävda sig och slå rot bland folket.

– Hur ha det senaste händelserna verkat?

– Störtandet av monarkin och de strider som ägde rum före och efter krossandet av kungadömet och diktaturen, ha i hög grad bidragit till att utveckla den spanska anarkismen.

– Hur många medlemmar finns det i den spanska anarkistiska rörelsen?

– Det är svårt att exakt ange medlemsantalet i ”Federacion Anarquista Iberica”, då fördelningen i otaliga grupper nästan omöjliggör den exakta kontrollen. Men man kan på ett ungefär och utan att det minsta överdriva, snarare tvärtom, uppskatta antalet till mellan 15- och 20,000.

– Hur många anarkistiska tidningar finns det?

– Det finns idag sex eller sju veckotidningar. De viktigaste äro ”El Libertario”, Madrid, med en upplaga på 15,000 exemplar, samt ”Tierra y Libertad” o. ”El Luchador”, Barcelona, vilka båda tillsammans ha en upplaga på över 20,000 exemplar. Nämnas bör också en teoretisk tidskrift, ”La Revista Blanca”, som utkommer varannan vecka och sprides i en stor upplaga.

– Hur är förhållandet mellan den anarkistiska rörelsen och den syndikalistiska?

– Förhållandet är utan friktioner och helt igenom broderligt. Spaniens anarkister äro alla organiserade i den syndikalistiska C. N. T., Confederacion nacional del Trabalho. Anarkisterna betrakta denna organisation som deras egen skapelse och som sitt bästa kampmedel. Anarkisterna ägna den syndikalistiska rörelsen sina bästa krafter, ty de ha alldeles riktigt förstått att om de 700,000 medlemmarna i C. N. T. bli medvetna frihetliga kämpar så är förutsättningen för en fri och socialistisk revolution i Spanien synnerligen stor. Detta oerhört stora agitationsarbete utföres i dag av anarkisterna, och vi hoppas alla att det kommer att bära rika frukter. Sammanfattande kan man alltså säga, att de spanska anarkisterna och syndikalisterna arbeta förenade i full harmoni på grundvalen av en ”anarkosyndikalistisk syntes” för att bereda väg för de frihetliga idéerna och den sociala revolutionen i Spanien.

– –
Intervjun var slut. Vår kamrat Orobon är nu åter i Spanien i fullt arbete för våra idéer.

DIEGO CAMACHO: ”Everyone was trusted.”

By Nancy MacDonald
from ”Homage to the Spanish Exiles: Voices from the Spanish Civil War”, Insight Boos, New York 1987.

It was through Miguel Garcia Garcia that I met Diego Camacho (whose pen name is Abel Paz). During the summer of 1982 I read Paz’s book on the anarchist militant Buenaventura Durruti, and was so impressed that I wanted to translate it from the French into English. I asked Miguel if he knew how I could get in touch with the author. Miguel gave me his address and I wrote to Camacho, who agreed to let me translate the book, which was published by Black Rose Press in Canada in 1977. Earlier, Paz wrote a book called Paradigma de una revolución (36 horas de lucha en Barcelona) and is working on another, Comité Central de Milices de Catalogne.

Diego lives in Barcelona, and in October 1985 I asked friends to look him up there. He came to see them at the Hotel Ritz, where they were staying. He told them that the last time he was there, during the Civil War, he was fourteen, carried a rifle, and came to take over the hotel as a hospital. He also told my friends that in the fifties he had asked SRA [Spanish Refugee Aid] for a sewing machine for his wife, and we had given him one.

Where do you come from in Spain?

Camacho: ”I was born on August 12, 1921 in Almeria in the province of Andalusia. My parents were peasants and I lived with them until I was fourteen. I started to go to school at the age of eleven, and I went to a school subsidized by the CNT unions for 2 years. It was a rationalist school modeled on those started by Francisco Ferrer in 1909. The school was in Barcelona and the Union which supported it was the Textile Workers Union which had 70,000 members. It was called La Escuela Natura and the Director was Puig Elias, who died in exile 2 years ago in Brazil. The school was rather well known and had 400 students.

”As I couldn’t go to school in my province, my mother arranged with her mother to take care of me in Barcelona. I was at this school from 1933 to 1935. Then I went to work as an apprentice mechanic in a small shop and was there until the war started in Spain in 1936.”

When did you become an anarchist?

”I think in that period one became an anarchist quite naturally. The conditions of life led workers to become anarchists. For example, my father was a peasant and he worked 3 months during the year; the other 9 months he was unemployed because there was no work. He had to feed his family of five. So he was forced to go out at night and steal things in the fields to feed us. In reality, almost all the peasant population did that. They stole to eat. So in such a situation and without having any theoretical knowledge about anarchism, I was an anarchist instinctively.

”Then the war came and I was already a member of the Libertarian Youth and I was active with them until the month of November 1936. At that time I was given the opportunity of working in a peasant collective in the Province of Lerida in a village called Cervia. I stayed there until March 1937.”

What was this experience like?

Camacho: ”Life in a collective was something very interesting. Because in Barcelona, although all the industries were collectivized or socialized, one couldn’t see how things had changed since there was no community life in the factories. One works, and then each individual goes home. While in a commune everything was completely different. We all lived together and one could see better how things were changing.”

Were you sent by the CNT?

Camacho: ”We had been sent by the Libertarian Youth because in this village of 3,500 inhabitants a Libertarian Youth group had also been organized. They wanted to have direct contact with city workers because during a revolution there are always differences between the farmers and the industrial workers. And no revolution has succeeded in establishing a bond between the country and the city. But in Spain this bond was established immediately.

”If you go back to the beginnings of the workers’ movement in Spain, in 1870 when the Spanish section of the International was organized, no difference was made between the peasants and the industrial workers. They were all workers. And when people went to the country to work, they didn’t live there, they went back to the towns. The peasants in Spain are very different from those in other countries. They have always been very acttive in their villages and are not just country people, so that liaison was quickly established between the city and the country.

”But there is a question of a certain mentality. The fellows who live in the country are reserved and they think they are always being fooled by those who know more than they do. So there was some distrust of the people from the city. But we were in the process of getting rid of this type of thinking. That is why the libertarians in the village wanted us city dwellers to come and live with the peasants so that they could see that there was no reason to distrust us. And so we lived there for 6 or 7 months.

”At first the old peasants had a certain pride and said of the city people, ‘You don’t know how to work – you are not used to work.’ But we showed them we were capable of working when necessary and that we were also capable of amusing ourselves. We showed them that we were capable of doing everything that they did with the same courage, perhaps not always with the same skill since we weren’t peasants, but we did our very best to do the hardest work. And so we were accepöted right away and we were very much loved by everyone there.”

Did you work in the fields, or as a mechanic?

Camacho: ”No, no, this collective was completely agricultural. It had many olive trees and was rich in oil. There were almond trees too, and vegetables, but the main wealth came from the oil. So there was a mill. But we had to pick the olives in the month of November. It was very cold there and you had to have pluck to pick the olives. You had to get up early.

”But the really interesting thing was how the life had changed. Formerly, people in the country lived rather closed in on themselves. Now they were beginning to live with each other; life became more open. At least twice a week there were general assemblies and all the village attended – including the women, the children, the old people, everybody. Communications were completely different. For example, before the war, young girls didn’t walk alone with boys. ow that was no longer true; life had changed 100 percent.”

And when they met, is that when decisions for the collective were made?

Camacho: ”Work was organized in brigades of 10, 15, or 20, and each brigade had a delegate who was responsible for the work done. In the assemblies all the problems of the community were discussed, such as administration, schools, organizing a theater group, sanitation, all the questions to be resolved. You might think that these assemblies might be boring for the people but not at all – it was more like a festivity. They went to have a family discussion. before, the family was limited to three or four people. Now there were collective problems of 3,500. Of course not everyone spoke. But everyone came, and if they wanted to give their opinion, they did. n the summer the assemblies took place outdoors. In winter, when it was cold, they were in the theater.

”There are a lot of interesting details about the daily life in a collective. For example, the church had been taken over and it had become the collective’s food store. That was where each family obtained their foodstuffs for the week or the day. There were no tickets. Everyone knew each other and there were no problems. For example, if you went to get some meat and you came back a half hour later, the fellow would know you and he couldn’t be fooled. But we didn’t have such problems. Everyone was trusted. Sometimes you couldn’t have a lot of a product because there wasn’t enough produced. But the rest you had in abundance.”

Was it the same for clothes?

Camacho: ”No, we didn’t make them, so they had to be bought. Or we made an exchange with the things we had, like oil. There was some control. For example, there were two pairs of shoes per year, but then there was the type who needed three pairs because he hadn’t taken care of them. He received three, but usually there was a certain control and normally people didn’t behave like that.”

Did you return from the collective before the May Days?

Camacho: ”I returned to Barcelona a few days before. I started to work again as an apprentice in my trade, as I was only fifteen. And I worked there during the tragic events of May and the counterrevolution. But I’m not going into all the question of the Spanish revolution here. We, the young libertarians, began to be persecuted by the Communist Party on the one hand and on the other we were in opposition to the CNT and the FAI for their political position in relation to the government. And this is how we lived during the war, until Barcelona was taken by Franco, and we went into exile in France.

”In France I was put into concentration camps. First I was in St. Cyprien, then Argeles-sur-Mer, and finally Bram. From there I was sent out in a work company and I remained until the Germans cut France in half. After June 1940 I went to Bordeaux. There we made a little propaganda and sabotage until we were forced to flee to the free zone. The situation then became such in France that either we had to fight the Germans or join them. A few friends studied the situation and decided, not out of patriotism, that we would prefer to return to Spain to fight against the Spanish Fascists directly.”

When was this?

Camacho: ”It was in June 1942 in Barcelona that we tried to rebuild a Spanish resistance movement and we managed to carry out quite a few little jobs. We organized several groups of young people, people we knew already. But in December 1942 I was caught by the police. I was imprisoned and condemned to 30 years by a war council for clandestine activities and for having helped rebuild an organization which the Fascists thought they had destroyed.

”In 1947 I escaped by falsifying my identity papers. It’s not worth giving you the details. Many comrades got out this way and it wasn’t the first time. Three months later I was back in another underground organization with young libertarians from Madrid. Three months after that I was back in prison again under another name, because I always used fake names. I had been picked up in Madrid but they made a new dossier for me, not knowing about the first one. This is complicated to explain, but is due in part to the disorientation and confusion in the Fascist administration. I was in prison until July 1953 when I left again by devious means and went back to Barcelona.

”At that time a National Plenum of the CNT was taking place and they were discussing the problems of the Congress that the International, the AIT, was holding in Paris. The CNT wanted to send delegates to the Congress. So I and another comrade were chosen. I came to France to attend a Congress and to stay for 8 days, and now it’s 1974 and I’m still here. Well, that is a little resumé of my life.”

2,000,000 Anarchists Fight For Revolution Says Spanish Leader

Through With Government Says Fiery Chief, Who Urges People On

People vs. Fascism

Sees Workers’ Spain Arising Out Of Ruins Of Present Class War

By Pierre Van Paassen
Toronto Daily Star
August 5, 1936

Madrid, August. 5 (By air to Paris). Durruti, a syndicalist metal-worker, is the man who lead the victorious bayonet-charge of the People’s Militia on the stronghold of the Fascist rebels at San Rafaele yesterday. Durruti was the first in the Hotel Colon in Barcelona, when that building which spewed death for thirty-six hours from two-hundred windows, fell before the onslaught of the well-nigh bare-handed libertarians. When a column is tired and ready to drop with exhaustion, Durruti goes to talk new courage into the men. When things go bad up Saragossa way, Durruti climbs aboard an aeroplane and drops down in the fields of Aragon to put himself at the head of the Catalonian partisans. Wherever you go it’s Durruti and Durruti again, whom you hear spoken of as a wonder-man.

I met him to-day. He is a tall, swarthy fellow with a clean-shaven face, Moorish features, the son of a poor peasant, which is noticeable by his cracking, almost guttural dialect. He was lying on a cot in the hallway of the palace of the dukes of Medina Celi, above which floats the black and red flag of the Iberian Anarchist Federation. A rifle stood by his bedside. But, he was wide-awake.

Army Does Not Count

”No, we have not got them on the run yet,” he said frankly at once, when I asked him how the chances stood for victory over the rebels. ”They have Saragossa and O Pampeluna. That is where the arsenals are and the munition factories. We must take Saragossa, and after that we must turn south to face Franco, who will be coming up from Seville with his foreign legionnaires and Moroccans. In two, three weeks time we will probably be fighting the decisive battles.”

”Two, three weeks?” I asked crestfallen.

”Yes, a month perhaps, this civil war will last at least all through the month of August. The masses are in arms. The army does not count any longer. There are two camps: civilians who fight for freedom and civilians who are rebels and Fascists. All the workers in Spain know that if fascism triumphs, it will be famine and slavery. But the Fascists also know what is in store for them when they are beaten. That is why the struggle is implacable and relentless. For us it is a question of crushing fascism, wiping it out and sweeping it away so that it can never rear its head again in Spain. We are determined to finish with fascism once and for all. Yes, and in spite of the government,” he added grimly.

”Why do you say in spite of the government? Is not this government fighting the Fascist rebellion?” I asked with some amazement.

Government Did Not Fight

”No government in the world fights fascism to the death. When the bourgeoisie sees power slipping from its grasp, it has recourse to fascism to maintain itself. The Liberal government of Spain could have rendered the Fascist elements powerless long ago” went on Durruti. ”Instead it temporized and compromized and dallied. Even now, at this moment, there are men in this government who want to go easy with the rebels. You never can tell you know,” he laughed, ”the present government might yet need these rebellious forces to crush the workers’ movement.”

”So you are looking for difficulties even after the present rebellion should be conquered?” I asked.

”A little resistence, yes,” assented Durruti.

”On whose part?”

”The bourgeoisie, of course. The bourgeois class will not like it when we install the revolution.” said Durruti.

”So you are going ahead with the revolution? Largo Caballero and Indalecio Prieto (two Socialist leaders) say that the Popular Front is only out to save the Republic and restore republican order.”

Fighting For The Revolution

”That may be the view of those senores. We syndicalists, we are fighting for the revolution. We know what we want. To us it means nothing that there is a Soviet Union somewhere in the world, for the sake of whose peace and tranquility the workers of Germany and China were sacrificed to Fascist barbarism by Stalin. We want the revolution here in Spain, right now, not maybe after the next European war. We are giving Hitler and Mussolini far more worry to-day with our revolution than the whole of the Red Army of Russia. We are setting an example to the German and Italian working-class how to deal with fascism.”

That was the man speaking, who represents a syndicalist organization of nearly two million members, without whose co-operation nothing can be done by the Republic even if it is victorious over the present military-fascist revolt. I has sought to learn his views, because it is essential to know what is going on in the minds of the Spanish workers, who are doing the fighting. Durruti showed that the situation might take a direction for which few are prepared. That Moscow has no influence to speak of on the Spanish proletariat is a well-known fact. The most respectably conservative State in Europe is not likely to appeal much to the libertarian sentiment in Spain.

”Do you expect any help from France or Britain now that Hitler and Mussolini have begun to assist the rebels?” I asked.

Know How To Live In Ruins

”I do not expect any help for a libertarian revolution from any government in the world,” he said grimly. ”Maybe the conflicting interests of the different imperialisms might have some influences on our struggle. That is quite well possible. Franco is doing his best to drag Europe into the quarrel. He will not hesitate to pitch Germany against us. But we expecty no help, not even from our own government in the final analysis,” he said.

”Can you win alone?” I asked the burning question point-blank.

Durruti did not answer. He stroked his chin. His eyes glowed.

”You will be sitting on top of a pile of ruins even if you are victorious,” I ventured to break his reverie.

”We have always lived in slums and holes in the wall,” he said quietly. ”We will know how to accomodate ourselves for a time. For, you must not forget, that we can also build these palaces and cities, here in Spain and in America and everywhere. We, the workers. We can build others to take their place. And better ones. We are not in the least afraid of ruins. We are going to inherit the earth. There is not the slightest doubt about that. The bourgeoisie might blast and ruin its own world before it leaves the stage of history. We carry a new world here, in our hearts,” he said in a hoarse whisper. And he added: That world is growing in this minute.”

From the distance came the roll of the cannonade.

(From Abel Paz, ”Durruti: The People Armed”, Black Rose Books, Montréal, 1976.

Mujeres Libres: Proposal for the Creation of Wedding Factory

Proposal for the Creation of Wedding Factory

Comrade Revolution has made us aware of his great affliction. People continue to marry… Comrade Revolution thought that people’s morals and spirit had improved somewhat, but he realizes that the spirit and morals of people are not susceptible to improvement. People are continuing to marry… In the face of this inescapable reality, we attempt to alleviate some of its inevitable consequences. People continue loving the modes of their oppression. At the least, let us see if we can lighten the chains…


The wedding factory will be located far from every urban nucleus. It is not good that tragedies take place in the public eye, because they will demoralize the people. Besides, the difficulties of access to the factory will force the stupid ones to think [about what they’re doing].

Materials for construction
Should be of such kind to dampen noise. What goes on inside is not anyone’s business, and it’s always better not to hear the statements of those who come to complain about how theirs have gone wrong.

A waiting room, divided into two-person cubicles by partial partitions. Isolation is essential in case of epidemic. One room for ceremonies and an exit ramp.

Speed is important so that people shouldn’t have time to change their minds…

Of two kinds: (a) necessary and (b) voluntary

(a) A cold shower; a committee convinced of the importance of its mission; a seal that says, “Enter, if you dare”; a stamp pad of rod or red and black for the seal.

(b) A stake.

One copy of the Laws of Common Sense.

Related institutions
A shop for rivets, collars, rings, and chains. An allegorical tricolour of Freedom.

Functioning of the factory
It is quick. Individuals wait, by pairs, in the two-person cubicles.

Later they will pass into the ceremonial room. They can do nothing, absolutely nothing, without the proper stamp. [An official] stamps a small piece of paper, their cheeks, and their underwear.

Then, with a very hollow voice, the Committee reads them the Law of Common Sense, which can be reduced to three:

1. When there were priests, the priest deceived you; when there were judges, the judge deceived you; now we are deceiving you ourselves, since you came here.
2. He who cannot go on without a guarantee of property and fidelity deserves the most vile oppressions upon his heart (danger of asphyxiation).
3. The act of passing through the factory gives evidence of idiocy, and predisposes to two or three afflictions per day. We know what we are doing!

The ceremony is free. Those who go have already suffered enough misfortune. Afterwards, rings and chains are put on them, they are made to kiss the tricolour picture of libertarian communism, and they are thrown down the ramp. In order to avoid disturbances to the normal functioning of the factory, it is a good idea to place the following poster at the exit:


SOURCE: “Proyecto para la creación de una fábrica de bodas en serie (hurros auténthicos) Mujeres Libres, no. 7.

From Marta A. Ackelsberg, “Free Women of Spain: Anarchism and the Struggle for the Emancipation of Women”.