Views & Comments Number 28
From the Editors
The union pamphlet is still in production but will follow this issue of V & C on the press. The main problem is still money—particularly now as the Libertarian Center must relocate very shortly and, even with volunteer labor, moving costs will be high. We have finished reprinting Woodcock's WHAT IS ANARCHISM?—now available from V & C at 5 cents per copy.
THE POT CALLS THE KETTLE BLACK
If the scandals in the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), reported in the nation's press, did not affect the lives of all of us, we would be amused by the editorials calling on public officials to observe the highest "ethical as well as legal standards." The corruption in governmental agencies is an organic defect which is inherent in the institution of the State and cannot be fundamentally corrected even in a parliamentary democracy. We are concerned with the congressional investigation of the FCC and other agencies because they give us examples of "democracy" in action.
The FCC regulates and decides who shall get licenses for radio and television stations. Other commissions issue franchises and regulate air, shipping, electric power stations, atomic energy, public lands and almost every other indispensable public service. In addition, there are the Cabinet Officers who administer the Departments of Defense, Agriculture and other vital agencies. These commissions and departments are not elected by the people but are appointed by the President with the approval of the Senate. Through these administrative and executive organs the government controls the life of the country. How much real democracy can exist when this enormous power is even further removed from the control of the people than are the members of Congress? This system confers great power to a few men and it is only natural that these powers should be abused. Men who have the power to give or take away exclusive rights over profitable public services and who hand out billions of dollars in contracts, must inevitably yield to pressure from rival groups competing for favors.
This is well-known and Congress is supposed to set up and enforce rules and standards of conduct for these agencies to prevent abuses of power and to punish violations. In an article in the N.Y. Times Magazine (Feb. 23, 1958) Oregon Senator Neuberger asks a logical question: "Who Polices The Policeman (Congress)—Should Congress itself be exempt from the standards it imposes on others?" The article proves that Congress itself is guilty of the same abuses that have been exposed in the FCC.
Senator Neuberger gives us an example from the past:
"Daniel Webster of Massachusetts has just been selected by a bipartisan committee of the Senate as one of the five great Senators of our history, to be heralded in especial portrait gallery at the Capitol. The choice of Senator Webster was recently eulogized on the floor of the Senate. But Webster once wrote to Nicholas Biddle, President of the controversial Bank of the United States: 'I believe that my retainer has not been renewed or refreshed as usual. If it be wished that my relation to the bank should be continued, it may be well to send me the usual retainers.'"
Senator Neuberger remarks: "This was conflict of interest with a vengeance—even at the point of blunt threats. The Bank of the United States was in need of a Federal charter at the moment..."
That the pattern set by Webster is faithfully followed can be seen by the following remarks of Neuberger:
"Representative Thomas M. Pelly, a Republican sent to the capital by the populous Seattle district, recently told his colleagues:
"'I raise the question as to whether bankers should be on committees that consider matters of benefit to banks? Should members who own farms frame legislation to support the prices of crops they raise themselves?...It is pretty obvious that if I owned an oil well, I should not be free to participate in setting the rates for depletion. Members of Congress have raised their eyebrows and also their voices, at times, over situations involving the ethics of members of the Executive branch of government. It seems to me the standard we have set for ourselves is not as high as the standard we have set for others...'"
William S. White of the New York Times, author of the Senate analysis, "Citadel," has written that "it requires a $200,000 exchequer to win election as a Senator in a state of small population and at least $1,000,000 in a large industrial state. This, it seems to me, narrows to a reductio ad absurdum the spectacle of a Senate Committee breaking a poor Presidential appointee on the wheel because he owns some General Motors stock or is married to a woman who manufactures military uniforms...
"What is the solution to all this? Must we continue standards of behavior for the Executive and Legislative branches of government under which one is expected to observe antiseptic purity while the other may ** fare forth every two years in quest of campaign treasuries of ever-increasing size? It is estimated that all the major political contests of 1958 cost at least $200,000,000 for radio and television time, elaborate headquarters, paid managers and agents, signboards along miles and miles of trunk highways, and prodigious quantities of buttons, badges, balloons and similar gadgets. This sum is sufficient to create more conflict- of—interest dilemmas than could be unearthed by Scotland Yard, the Royal Mounties and the Federal Bureau of Investigation combined."
Since it has been proved beyond doubt that the Congressional "Policeman" is as crooked as the lawbreaker, the "policeman" is even more of a threat to freedom because he has more power Congress wields greater authority than do the regulatory agencies. It can declare war, levy taxes, conscript labor and do almost anything it pleases. It differs only in degree, but not in substance from its predecessor—monarchies. It is this that led Proudhon, the anarchist thinker, to declare that "Parliament is a King with six-hundred heads." It matters little if the Kings are crowned every 2, 4 or 6 years, no more than if a monarch rules for a longer or shorter period: the important thing is that he does rule. The question of who is to police the policeman cannot be solved through a democratic or any other government, because Government itself is the policeman over the people and makes its own rules. It is axiomatic that the concentration of power anywhere must lead to its abuse.
He who delegates power over himself to others cannot be adequately represented, because: no one can delegate his responsibility without losing his freedom. He who gives power to a legislative body for any length of time, gives them the right to decide questions that- will come up in the future.
What may come up in the future cannot be foreseen. A vote for any government is a blank check; signed by the voter and made out to the legislator who can write in the amount of the check. The voter sticks his head in the noose. He mortgages his life to his elected rulers.
The collective "I" elects a government for four years; during which the government passes on questions which "I" did not know would arise and on which "I" am not consulted. Each situation can be dealt with by "me" only when it arises. "I" may react one way or the other, but "I" cannot decide anything because "I" have suspended my right to deal with my own life for four years. A government is elected to bring and secure peace, it may then declare war, even though 99% of the people be against it. No referendum is called. "I" am therefore conscripted to go to war by my elected despots.
This tragic farce is periodically reenacted and perpetuated. It is accepted as normal and becomes a habit. It will endure as long as government endures. It will end when we break out of our self-imposed prison and find new libertarian ways to a fuller and freer life.
* * *
"Politicians are a set of men who have interests aside from the interests of the people, and who, to say the most of them, are at least one long step removed from honest men. I say this with greater freedom being a politician myself."
* * *
"Except among politicians, the irrelevance of Parliament is not even discussed, it is assumed with a shrug of the shoulders."
A GOVERNMENT OF SCIENTISTS?
The era of guided missiles, nuclear energy, Sputniks and the militarization of science demands serious thinking about the function of science in society and the moral responsibility of those scientists who place their knowledge at the service of the State. The increasing emphasis on science without reference to the principles which should guide it into fruitful and humanistic directions has created a false and dangerous attitude, not only among scientists, but also among the masses.
Awed by the "miracles" of science and stunned by its stupendous achievements, the people begin to think that the scientists can do anything. This state of mind leads people to worship the scientist as the new Savior, the Messiah who will lead mankind out of darkness into the land of milk and honey. If the politicians are dismal failures, if they are helpless without the scientists; what could be simpler than to hand over the reins of government to them?
Experience has shown that outside of their particular specialty scientists are no better or worse than other men. A top notch chemist or mathematician may be a first class louse. He may be progressive, even radical, in his own field and yet be a reactionary bigot, a racist, and general all-around scoundrel in his relations with other people. Many good scientists were fanatical Fascists and Nazis. Volumes could be written about their skullduggery, their connection with commissars, financiers and militarists. Their plots and frameups of fellow scientists who refused to prostitute themselves and remained true to the noble ideals which animated them are notorious.
Nor is this all. Scientists on the Atomic Energy Commission, for example, have withheld information and twisted or falsified whatever information they did release; all this to suit the policies of the government. No wonder the late Albert Einstein denounced their vile conduct and declared that he would rather be a plumber or a peddler than to work under such conditions and for such purposes.
Einstein saw in the increasing subservience of the scientists to the politicians the greatest danger to the growth of knowledge, which would have the same effect as censorship on books and ideas, or the persecution of men for their political opinions. This danger would be magnified a thousandfold if the scientists would, alone or in alliance with the professional politicians, assume the de facto control of the government.
Not all scientists are of the same caliber. Many of them refuse to knuckle under. They see the dangers ahead and are deeply disturbed by the misuse of science for irrational and destructive purposes. In a remarkable article, printed in the Feb. 1958 issue of Liberation, Linus Pauling, 1954 Nobel Prize winner in chemistry, and chairman of the Division of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering of the California Institute of Technology, exposes the whole tragic mess. Liberation tells us that:
"More than nine thousand scientists, from over forty-three countries (including 2,705 from the United States and 216 from the Soviet Union) have now signed petitions calling for the abandonment of nuclear tests...The petition was presented to Dag Hammerskjold, Secretary General of the United Nations, on Jan. 13, 1958."
Dr. Pauling says that the appeal to the American Scientists was not the product of any organization—it was produced by a few professors and by me." (It would be interesting to know why only 216 Russian scientists signed the petition.) Be that as it may, the initiative of Dr. Pauling and his fellow signers shows a deep and noble Spirit deserving of the highest praise.
What is disturbing about this appeal is that it calls on the governments to stop the tests of nuclear weapons, in effect they are asking the wolves to guard the sheep! This is the blind spot. One does not have to be a savant to understand the situation. It's a matter of common sense that the very governments who, with the help of their scientific lickspittles developed, tested and used death-dealing weapons throughout history, will not now reverse themselves and give up the very weapons upon which their power depends. No State has or ever will, surrender its sovereignty unless forced to do so.
If the scientists would apply their own methods to social questions and reason from cause to effect, they would arrive at constructive and revolutionary (perhaps uncomfortable) conclusions. They would see that the social system which breeds war rests upon the State and its supporting institutions, and they would, as men of integrity, act accordingly.
The Libertarian attitude to these issues has been expounded by many of our most capable thinkers. Peter Kropotkin's Modern Science and Anarchism is a classic work. God and the State, by Michael Bakunin, one of the great activists and theoreticians of our movement, is another. We reprint the following extracts from God and the State, not only for their historic interest (it was written more than 60 years ago) but primarily because they still have an important message for our own times.
Extracts from God and the State:
"A scientific body to which had been confided the government of society would soon end by devoting itself no longer to science at all, but to quite another affair; and that affair, as in the case of all established powers, would be its own eternal perpetuation by rendering the society confided to its care ever more stupid and consequently more in need of its government and direction.
"A scientific academy invested with a sovereignty, so to speak, absolute, even if it were composed of the most illustrious men, would infallibly and soon end in its own moral and intellectual corruption. Even today, with the few privileges allowed them, such is the history of all academies. The greatest scientific genius, from the moment he becomes an academician, an officially licensed savant, inevitably lapses into sluggishness. He loses his spontaneity, his revolutionary hardihood, and that troublesome and savage energy characteristic of the grandest geniuses. He undoubtedly gains in politeness, in utilitarian wisdom, what he loses in power of thought. In a word he becomes corrupted...It is the characteristic of privilege and of every privileged position to kill the heart and mind of men...Life...is an infinitely greater thing than science.
"...that which is true of scientific academies is also true of all constituent and legislative assemblies, even those chosen by universal suffrage. In the latter case they may renew their composition, it is true, but this does not prevent the formation in a few years time of a body of politicians, privileged in fact though not in law, who, devoting themselves exclusively to the direction of public affairs, finally form a sort of political aristocracy or oligarchy...
"Does it follow that I reject all authority? Far from me such a thought. In the matter of boots, I refer to the authority of the bootmaker; concerning houses, canals, or railroads, I consult that of the architect or engineer. For such or such a special knowledge I apply to such or such savant. But I allow neither the bootmaker, nor the architect nor the savant to impose his authority on me. I listen to them freely and with all the respect merited by their intelligence, their character, their knowledge, reserving always my incontestable right of criticism and censure. I do not content myself with consulting a single authority in any special branch; I consult several; compare their opinions, and choose that which seems to me the soundest. But I recognize no infallible authority even in special questions; consequently, whatever respect 1 may have for the honesty of such or such an individual, I have no absolute faith in any person.
"Such a faith would be fatal to my reason, to my liberty, and even to the success of my undertakings...The only mission of science is to enlighten life, not to govern it."
"If I bow before the authority of the specialists and avow my readiness to follow to a certain extent...their indications and even their directions, it is because their authority is imposed upon me by no one...Otherwise I would repel them with horror, and bid the devil take their counsels, their directions, and their services, certain that they would make me pay, by the loss of my liberty and self-respect, for such scraps of truth, wrapped in a multitude of lies, as they might give me.
"I bow before the authority of special men because it is imposed upon me by my own reason. I am conscious of my inability to grasp, in all its details and positive developments, any very large portion of human knowledge. The greatest intelligence would not be equal to the comprehension of the whole. Thence results, for science as well as for industry, the necessity for the division and association of labor.
"I receive and I give-such is human life. Each directs and is directed in his turn. Therefore there is no fixed and constant authority, but a continual exchange of mutual, temporary, and above all voluntary authority, and subordination.
"This same reason forbids me, then, to recognize a fixed, constant and universal authority, because there is no universal man, no man capable of grasping in that wealth of detail, without which the application of science to life is impossible, all the sciences, all the branches of social life...If such universality could ever be realized in a single man—it would be necessary to drive this man out of society, because this authority would inevitably reduce all others to slavery and imbecility.
"I do not think that society ought to maltreat men of genius as it has done hitherto; but neither do I think it should indulge them too far, still less accord them any privileges or exclusive rights whatsoever; and that for three reasons: first, because it /fluid often mistake a charlatan for a can of genius; second, because, through such a system of privileges, it might transform into a charlatan even a real man of genius, demoralize him, and degrade him; and finally, because it could establish a master over itself.
"If they (the scientists) cannot perform their experiments upon the bodies of individuals, they will ask nothing better than to perform them on the social body and that is what must be prevented.
"In their existing organization, monopolizing science and remaining thus outside of life, the savants form a separate caste, in many respects analogous to the priesthood. Scientific abstraction is their God, living and real individuals are their victims, and they are the consecrated and licensed sacrificers."
Keep up with and surpass each other in the race to death! Bigger and better nuclear tests! Oh science! What crimes are committed in thy name!
ATTENTION ALL FEN! (especially C.W. ones)
The following item appeared in the February, 1958 issue of THE INDEPENDENT (225 Lafayette St., New York 12, NY):
An Associated Press story this month revealed that the Vatican is considering the designation of Joseph Desa (St. Joseph of Cupertino) as "a patron saint for space travelers."
This would give devout Catholics someone to pray to while on their way to the moon.
According to the biographical dictionary of the saints compiled by the Benedictine monks of Ramsgate, England, the life of this proposed patron saint of space travel was "remarkable."
"He would," reports the Catholic dictionary, "fly straight from the church door to the altar over the heads of worshippers. Once he flew to an olive tree and remained kneeling on a branch for half an hour. Happenings like these were almost everyday occurrences, witnessed by hundreds of people."
* * *
"The crimes of history may be briefly summed up in the words—abuse of power."
This appeal appeared in A.I.T., organ of the Anarcho-Syndicalist International Workingmen's Association, January, 1958.
It is sad to think that the accounts of the cruelties inflicted by the dictatorial regimes on their adversaries have become so common that constant repetition tires and dulls the senses, to such an extent that many people are becoming indifferent to these outrages. Once more we must call attention to the concentration camps in Bulgaria,
This subject tires both the writers and the readers. But what about those who have to suffer, who have neither the right nor the possibility of being bored? The persecutor is tireless in his task.
It is this reflection which leads us to transmit the latest information from our correspondent inside of Bulgaria about the concentration camps.
Our correspondent in the interior insists that we make this message known to all the comrades and fellow workers of the world. They must be told about the true conditions in Bulgaria, and once again the call for moral and financial solidarity must be issued.
The President of the Council of Ministers, Anton Yougov, interviewed recently by foreign correspondents stated that now there are no more concentration camps in Bulgaria. The Anarchist-Communist Federation of Bulgaria, underground and in exile, can absolutely disprove these lies. It has the facts and can get even more evidence. The deliberate lies of the Bulgarian government are meant to fool the people of the west.
In the Belene concentration camp there are approximately 200 internees, among them numerous Anarchists who were arrested during the Hungarian Revolution. Still there are the well-known comrades: Manol Vassev, Christo Koleff, Deltcho Vassilev, Stephan Kotstof, f, etc. The Stalinist directors promised the families of these men that they would soon be released. We have now learned that their imprisonment has again been extended for one year. The regime in this camp is more severe than ever. The work consists of felling trees, hauling, and cutting lumber. The norm per person, per day is six cubic meters, cut one meter long or eight by two cubic meters, cut. The internees are designated by number and the officials do all they can to conceal the names of the prisoners. For this reason conversation between the prisoners is prohibited. This "crime" is punished by solitary confinement in underground cells. These dungeons are dugouts, holes in the ground, open at the top and lined with boards to keep out the water, which seeps in anyhow.
Prisoners are lodged in barracks and segregated in individual boxes, called "cells." Most of the time meals consist of a watery soup. The prisoners are often so hungry that they will eat almost anything. Last summer three prisoners ate from a horse that had died of anthrax. Two of them died.
All new arrivals are forced to chant in chorus the sinister hymn of the concentration camps, which begins with the following lines: "We are all guilty of crimes against the country. We have come here to reform ourselves..." One Marvels at the fortitude of our unfortunate comrades who can endure these conditions for even a short time; and even more, how comrades like Christo Koleff and others survived seven years and others longer. It is shocking to think that they must pass yet another year in these conditions and even then never be sure that the sentences will not he automatically prolonged.
We are choked with pain and despair when we think of the impotence and perhaps the indifference of the outside world, which allows the Stalinist murderers to continue their dastardly crimes. We have no Longer the strength to raise these anguished appeals which are lost like cries in the desert.
P.S.; The internment of our comrades in the concentration camp of Belene has been prolonged for yet another year. The number of political prisoners has increased to 340 and common prisoners to 1,000 persons. For some months, the agrarian, Yordan Kovatchev is between our comrades. The Union of writers has tried to obtain his freedom without results. The regime in Belene is severe. Prisoners can receive only one letter and one package every three months and only 200 levas monthly. No visitors are allowed. The prolonged sentences of our comrades is attributed to "bad conduct," but the true cause is in the tense international situation. The Stalinoids fear the word Anarchism, and see its manifestations even in their own circles. Our comrades are considered as hostages of the movement. Only pressure and determined action from the outside can effect their liberation.
—January 1, 1958, "Somewhere In Bulgaria"
The Spanish Collectives
The passage of time lends perspective and we are then better able to understand the significance of events and the forces that shaped them. We learn how a movement dealt with its problems from its victories as well as its defeats. In evaluating the Spanish Revolution of 1936-39 from this viewpoint we have from time to time discussed its shortcomings and we should continue to do so. Unfortunately, the constructive achievements that the Spanish Libertarian Movement made, in spite of formidable obstacles and the plots of its mortal enemies, have not received the attention they merit.
Dictatorships "solve" problems by extirpating freedom, liquidating its defenders and crushing the revolution; which is another way of saying that they, and all other regimes who are heading in their direction, are by their very nature reactionary. Their "solutions" cannot be ours. We fight in the revolution in order to preserve and widen freedom and social justice. This is not to say that heaven on earth will be miraculously obtained by following a formula or that a full-blown libertarian society will automatically appear as soon as the old society crumbles. Even under the most favorable circumstances the attainment of our ideals can only be the result of a long period of development. What is decisive is that the social changes should move in a Libertarian direction, in harmony with the Libertarian tendencies of the revolution. It is to the eternal credit of the Spanish Libertarian movement that it took the first steps in the building of such a society that the problems of social reconstruction were approached in a libertarian manner.
The revolution released the long suppressed creative capacities of the people. The workers, farmers, artisans, technicians, professionals, artists and intellectuals in the villages, towns, cities and provinces of anti-fascist Spain have shown the world what they can achieve when they are stimulated by the noble ideals of the revolution. It has been demonstrated that even in a civil war the economic, social and cultural life of a country can be revitalized and reorganized by applying libertarian standards to practical problems. An artificial "unity" imposed from above constitutes an army of robots. Unity by common agreement makes a free community. The portrait of revolutionary Spain was painted by the people and inspired by their aspirations. The blending of light and shade and the gradations of color depicted their individual contributions to social harmony. Social freedom is impossible without individual freedom and individual freedom is impossible without social freedom. One is the indispensable condition for the other. The many different forms and types of collectives reflected the variety of life itself. Therefore every social grouping in every district handled its own problems in its own way in accordance with special conditions and circumstances. In the same manner they coordinated and federated their activities on a local, regional and national scale.
Can the people realize a free, stateless and just life? The answer is yes. It has been said that one example is more convincing than a thousand arguments." There are plenty of examples, and the following is one of them. This is the story of Membrilla, a town of 6,000 in the region of La Mancha. It tells how the people built their collective. It was written by Enrique P. Vidal who was one of those who helped in this task. It appeared in Solidaridad Obrera, organ of the exiled CNT (Spanish Libertarian Labor Organization).
We will from time to time print more about the different types of collectives in agrarian and industrial areas, which will show that individual freedom and local autonomy are compatible with efficient administration and coordination. The words of the great Geographer and Libertarian thinker, Elisee Reclus: "Liberty is not the daughter but the mother of order," have been confirmed by the constructive accomplishments of the Spanish Revolution.
Collectivization in Membrilla by Enrique P. Vidal
In the 15 days following the 19th of July, 1936, the beginning of the Spanish Revolution, (in which the Anarcho-Syndicalists rarely slept more than two hours a night) ways and means were found to restore the most necessary public services and commerce which were almost completely paralyzed. The comfortable mansion of the Count of Cabezuelas was converted into sleeping quarters, which provided 44 beds. Men, women and children slept in separate dormitories and private rooms were provided for married couples and for visiting strangers. Provisions were distributed by the collective because the collective could get food more easily than if the individuals foraged for that purpose. All this was free to non-residents of Membrilla. Taverns and stores were closed, but all products could be acquired through the collective which established three huge stores on the outskirts of the town. (The collective served not only Membrilla but also the district.)
Work was carried on by organized groups which varied in size, depending on the amount and urgency of the tasks to be accomplished. For hard or disagreeable work, volunteers were asked for. There were always enough volunteers, and they were rewarded by working less hours and by the respect of the community. The social boat in which the five or six thousand human beings sailed the "sea" of the steppes of La Mancha (a rocky, barren and unfertile area) was confronted' with many obstacles, but the spirit and common sense of the people overcame them.
Membrilla was a town in name only. It was a community whose life was in the hands of its greedy and inefficient proprietors. Anarcho-Syndicalism and its system of Libertarian Communism, demonstrated its ability and applied its ethical values to practical questions. Without for a moment neglecting the demands of the war against the fascists (the quota of 100 combat volunteers was always provided), the men of the district CNT-FAI (FAI—Anarchist Federation of Iberia), organized in the group "Love and Justice," earned the confidence of everyone by their exemplary conduct. The office workers voluntarily worked nights and formed a group to unload foodstuffs and other products. This and other examples as well as public opinion shamed the lazy ones into useful activity. In a short time the surprising -increases in production made it possible to do away with the old monetary system. Wheat, machinery and all the other products that Membrilla needed were exchanged for wine, saffron, plaster and other goods of the district. Due to the initiative of the collective, production rose 1400%.
When the trucks of the Membrilla collective arrived at Valencia, Alicante, Madrid or Barcelona, they were loaded and unloaded free. The collective installed what Membrilla had never had—a furniture and wood working factory which was more than enough for the needs of the people; a barbershop free to all; a modern dispensary, also free to all the sick in Membrilla and surrounding areas.
Three months after the 19th of July, the collective made a statistical survey of those who were sick or unable to work: 600 who were chronically sick, old, or under the age of 15 and 64 pregnant women were exempt from work. Such were examples of the new life, and there were many more, changed the attitude of those who were prejudiced against the "Anarchist Heretics." Seventeen nuns who were left homeless when the convent burned down were treated with consideration. They were given the choice of going where they pleased or remaining in Membrilla. If they chose to stay, they could work at anything they wanted to, as long as they did not wear their religious costumes. These are the kind of lessons that the "Anarchist Heretics" gave to the expiring religious dogmatism and the gutless bourgeoisie.
It must be emphasized that during the months when the collective was formed, it developed and enlarged its sphere of action without governmental authority, jails or civil guards. Not a single violent crime was committed. The evil effects disappeared with the abolition of the causes thereof. (Vidal gives the example of a so-called "criminal by nature" named Santiago Munoz—the "wrecker.") The Anarchists treated him like a human being. They did not give him sermons on what he should or should not do and the "wrecker" made no promises; but he was one of the best workers in the collective, and in the three years of war, when there was no Civil Authority, he was fully armed and did not commit a single harmful act against anyone. He was tortured and shot by Franco in April, 1939.
THE SCHOOL OF THE COLLECTIVE
The Anarcho-Syndicalists who spurred the collective did not ignore the importance of education in the new social relations. On the contrary, maximum efforts were made in that field, an experienced agronomist of Membrilla, Primitive Cano, and a Swiss teacher of mechanics and drawing who had come to Membrilla to help, opened a school, which was provided with everything it needed. They were assisted by a representative advisory committee of comrades and those teachers who remained with the people. The schools were reorganized in the spirit of progressive and rational non-sectarian education. (Up to that time the schools were run by the church) ((Vidal gives the names of many on the advisory committee who were put in the concentration camp at Albatera and shot without a trial.))
Free education was provided for the boys and girls of Membrilla and also for those from the surrounding areas. All were encouraged to develop according to their aptitudes and capacities. After 20 months, eleven of the older pupils were able to help the teachers. Membrilla was honored by a visit of two busloads of teachers, students and four professors from Madrid and Valencia who were making a study of the schools. Their findings were made public and the work of the Membrilla schools was discussed and lauded throughout antifascist Spain.
If the cloven hoof of Fascism had not trampled the soil of- Spain, the work of the collective of Membrilla and many, many others would have been seen even by the blind and heard of by the deaf. If the test of an experiment is reality and truth then Anarcho-Syndicalism has passed that test—Membrilla and all the other examples of the constructive capacity of the Spanish Revolution are jewels in the crown of history.
—Enrique P. Vidal
The Economic Crisis by GWR
That the United States is in the midst of a severe economic crisis is a fact which can no longer be denied by any except the most fanatical defenders of the present administration. The number of unemployed—already more than five and a half million—speaks for itself. How long the depression will last, whether it will be followed by a worse crisis and where it will lead are all very hazy questions at this stage, but one thing is clear the depression exists.
One of the most important functions of this crisis is its capacity as myth puncturer. Ever since the Great Depression of 1929 the American people have been told that "it can't happen again."
They were assured that the legislation passed during the Roosevelt Administration had eliminated the possibility of another full-scale depression. This propaganda was stepped up during the Cold War and particularly during the Eisenhower Administration. Capitalism's kept economists actually came to assert that a new type of Capitalism had been developed which had eliminated the boom-bust cycle and would eventually even lead to a classless society. This fantasy was dressed up with names such as "People's Capitalism" and other meaningless slogans. However, this tinsel couldn't change the nature of Capitalism, as the depression is proving to the people. If many were deceived before, they won't remain so very long, and the worse the depression becomes, the more disenchanted the people will become.
It is obvious now that the basic structure of Capitalism has not been changed and cannot be changed, because a fundamental alteration would hurt those very interests who control the system and in whose benefit the system functions. This concept seems to be a truism, but in reality is believed by relatively few workers in the United States today. Few, that is, before the present crisis. This is not to say that a depression such as the present one is sufficient to transform a mass of brainwashed workers into revolutionaries, but it will shake the fantasies they have been taught to their very foundations, and prepare the ground for the sowing of revolutionary ideas.
In order to understand and properly assess the depression in the United States it is essential to keep in mind that this is not just a limited, national phenomenon, but quite to the contrary, it is an integral part of the world crisis which was apparent in Europe, for example, before it really got under way in the United States. However, the crisis in this country will deeply affect the economies of other countries which—directly or indirectly—depend on the U.S. economy, which will then affect the U.S. itself again, in an endless chain of cause and effect.
Russia and its satellite states are as much a part of this international economic crisis as the rest of the world. While it is possible to "solve" the problem of unemployment in a totalitarian system by the compulsory displacement of masses of workers, their economic system is still basically capitalistic in that it is an exploitative wage-price system. Moreover, the distinction which is made between "private" Capitalism in the United States and state Capitalism in Russia and its satellites is becoming meaningless with the rapidly increasing power of the government in this country. This is obvious to anyone who compares the power of the U.S. government prior to 1929 with its power in the present day. Indeed, it was during the "liberal" administration of Roosevelt that the greatest strides were made toward an all-embracing, totalitarian state, a fact which American socialists and other politically minded sects of the American Left refuse to reason out to its logical conclusion. This conclusion is simply that there is no way to legislate away the fundamental ills of Capitalism without destroying Capitalism itself, and this is something which no group which has attained state power has ever done or ever will do.
In order to do away with unemployment, insecurity, war and the other ills inherent in Capitalism; in short, in order to do away with the exploitation of man by man, Capitalism must be destroyed to be replaced by a free society based, not on mutual competition and destruction, but on mutual aid. And this can only be done by a revolutionary people organized in its own democratic, revolutionary organizations. Nothing less than this will do. Any minor alterations will only be a change in window dressing covering the same brutal fact of the exploitation of the many by the few. Names mean nothing. The Russian economy is no less exploitative because it is called "Communist," and American Capitalism is not changed in the least by calling it "People's Capitalism." The acid test is to try to change the economy in order to replace it by something better, and this will always be opposed bitterly and to the last ditch by the state, the soul of Capitalism, no matter what the name of the state may be nor who may be in control of it, be they called Republicans, Democrats, Socialists or Communists.
If the people are to be free, they must free themselves.
Book Review by John Loeb
MARXISM AND FREEDOM by Raya Dunayevskaya. Bookman Associates, New York, $6
This 384 page book will interest anarchists, though they will disagree with it. Miss Dunayevskaya, Leon Trotsky's pre-World War II secretary until she broke on grounds that Russia isn't a workers' State, claims that Marxism, unlike Stalinism, favors freedom.
And she finds that Marx allegedly drew inspiration from American struggles like the eight-hour day fight which helped Marx to write those parts of "Capital" on the working day length.
An appendix has the first English publication of Lenin's "On Hegel's Science of Logic" and Marx's "Private Property and Communism" and "Critique of the Hegelian Dialectic."
The Common Soldier
from Eugene V. Debs—APPEAL TO REASON
The common soldiers of all Nations are drawn from the "Lower-Class," and but for war they would be engaged in the peaceful pursuit of producing wealth for the "Upper-Class." They have no more voice in declaring war or planning campaigns or manipulating battles than if they were so many cattle. They simply obey orders. When the order comes to go to war they go. They are perfectly trained in the Noble-Art of Killing, poor servile lackeys, they do not think. And all they know or are expected to know... is to blindly do what they are told. But for these common-soldiers drawn from the working class, Armies would cease to exist and war would be no more. If only the common-soldiers knew what they are for and why they fight and bleed and die. But they don't or they would not be soldiers. Their poor brains are doped just enough to make them servile to their masters and to regard their servility as patriotism. In the frightful war that devastated Europe, the common-soldiers murdered one another with a ferocity unknown to savage or wild beasts. Millions were shot and sabered, maimed and mangled, torn and disemboweled, and that is what common-soldiers are for. And why not? If the soldiers of one Nation are not to kill the soldiers of another Nation, then why soldiers at all? The soldiers that slayed one another with such fiendish ferocity on a hundred battle-fields in Europe never saw one another and yet they fell upon one another in a fury of passion that makes men monsters and sinks them lower than the brutes. Alas. If these common-soldiers only knew that they are but the tools of their Aristocratic and soulless Masters and that they fight and bleed and die to perpetuate their own slavery and degradation.
* * *
"Law is but the expression of the vagaries of custom and prejudice, or privilege and policy, and being so, cannot be granted place among the sciences."
General Motors—Here We Come! by G.S. (Chicago)
The era of Modern Misled College Youth With Very Few Exceptions is at hand. The "Organization Man" in neat uniforms of gray flannel, post-adolescents destined to air-conditioned offices in or among the managerial circles and the rest of the "power elite" in this land, are being groomed by the kind father-mother-God-brother monster corporations.
In State universities, private universities and colleges throughout the country, the arts—music, painting, architecture, poetry, etc., as well as the rest of the Liberal Arts programs, are being de-emphasized in favor of specialized courses geared to grease the path for the student in "higher education" to slide into a managerial position (where all good little college grads go).
In the next five years, if we haven't been blasted to the promised land in the meantime, we shall witness a terrific increase of student enrollment in colleges and universities. The war-babies are growing up—I'm one of the first, a deviant. These students will face schooling where extensive-intensive liberal arts studies will be largely a thing of the past. This is a genuine tragedy. American Education is pretty bad anyway; now it is exterminating its few good points in its obedient drive to supply the social vampires with even more of the intellectual crop of the country.
And this dominant corporative current brings with it serious diseases: sterile, gray conformity of thought and behavior, self-interest in the best sense, and increased narrowness in perspective for the college young.
And what we can do about it is little more than applaud those brave ones on the campuses who resist as best they can, this tendency, this dominant current. Write if you have any ideas. Seriously, write if you know of a real secret weapon that will work—or an old unsecret one. And if you also are crying in the cemetery over the corps of liberal education, which wasn't the best thing in the world, but which was easier to get along with—then, from these pages I offer you my hand, brother, I offer you my hand.
Walk For Peace
The first weekend in April witnessed a series of demonstrations and meetings in New York for the stopping of nuclear weapons tests. Numerous marchers had come afoot from as far away as Philadelphia and New Haven. All ages were represented with many children and oldsters. Sponsored by the Quakers, Peacemakers, Fellowship of Reconciliation, War Resisters League and others, The Walk for Peace shows promise of developing into a serious mass movement of opposition to the insane war plans of the "statesmen" of all nations.
Both on the way to New York and during the walks in the city itself, there was considerable display of sympathy on the part of the general public. The walk to the United Nations on Good Friday consisted of about one thousand people.
Both of the walks in New York were harassed by carloads of Hungarian Freedom Fighters with banners, chanting "Continue Testing" and denouncing the marchers as "communists." Contact was finally established between the demonstrators and the Hungarians who publicly apologized from the Speakers' platform at a street-meeting on Saturday. They later invited the "Walkers for Peace" to join them in a picketing of the Russian Consulate on Easter Sunday. Heavy rain limited this show of solidarity with enslaved Hungary to a token participation.
At the mass meeting held on Friday night, leaflets were distributed expressing the support of the Libertarian League, whose New York members and sympathizers participated in the demonstrations, with the Walk for Peace movement, and further elaborating the Libertarian attitude on the problem of nuclear armaments.
Further activities are planned in line with the Walk for Peace idea which may include a nationally organized "Walk" to Washington. Appeals to the authorities can lead to little in our opinion, but as a means of rallying people to a realization of the dangers, the movement can mean much.
Letter to The Church
The following is reprinted from ESPAÑA LIBRE of February 21, 1958.
Rev. Agustin Gonzalez, O.S.A.
Staten Island, N.Y.
I have read in "The Tablet" the letter you have sent to WCBS-TV in protest of their telecast "War In Spain" and since your letter repeats the same old big lie that Franco saved Spain from communism I cannot let it pass unchallenged. I also have written to WCBS-TV protesting the manner of their presentation of "War In Spain" but for different reasons, so the telecast did not please the liberals nor the fascists.
So the "Spanish Civil War was primarily a heroic struggle of patriotic Spaniards, led by General Franco, to save their country from the horrors of Communist slavery..." And I suppose that in your opinion the Fascist and the Nazi hordes sent by Mussolini and by Hitler and the Moors brought by Franco and without which he could never have won the war, were all "patriotic Spaniards." There seem to be no limits to your shameless prevarication. The Spanish Civil War, as every well informed person knows today was not a war between Fascism and Communism as the telecast presented because there was not a single Communist in the Spanish Republican government at the time of the revolt and what is more the Communists had no influence whatever among the government and union leaders. The Spanish Civil War was a war of the Catholic Church, the Army, the landowners and industrialists and the Carlists and international Fascism against the Spanish people, and the proof of this lies in the very fact that Franco had to bring the Nazis and the Fascists and the traditional enemies of Spain, the Moors. Where was that old mythical warrior Santiago when the Moors were slaughtering Spaniards and raping Spanish women? If the infamous Committee of Non-Intervention had been really what it pretended to be, the Fascist revolt against the Spanish people would not have lasted six months. The truth is that Franco did not save Spain from any Communist horrors and slavery but brought upon the Spanish people the horrors and the slavery of Fascism because the Spanish people are today hungrier and poorer than ever. As for freedom, after ruling for eighteen years there is no more freedom in Spain than behind the Iron Curtain.
The trouble is that the International Brigades came too late and were too few, just enough to give a bad reputation to the struggle and the jitters to the vacillating democracies. And how come that if the people were really on the side of Franco even after twenty years of his rule and indoctrination he is afraid to call for free elections? He is afraid because he knows the great majority of the Spanish people still are against him and that his terroristic methods keep them silent. What is the difference between the terror of Krushchev and Franco? The only difference is that Franco's terror is at the service of the Catholic Church and is blessed by the Pope, while Krushchev's terror is against the Church. Only a few years ago and on his return from Spain, Cardinal Spellman admitted that he heard it from reliable sources that if the protection of the armed forces were removed from the clergy they would be murdered within forty-eight hours. What greater indictment can be drawn against the Catholic Church than this hate of the people?
And who keeps Franco in power? The $$$ given to him by our administration and the moral support of our country. If you cannot speak the truth hold your tongue and do not try to beat Ananias.
The 100th Year of the Mexican Revolution
Ed. note: the following information is taken from the Jan. 1958 issue of REGENERATION, organ of the Anarchist Federation of Mexico. The article warns of a serious threat. The Catholic Church is trying to regain its former privileges, helped by many labor groups.
* * *
Mexico dedicated the year 1957 in honor of the deputies who framed the liberal constitution in 1857, in harmony with the spirit of progress. These liberal laws were enacted because the lawmakers were forced to do so by the pressure of the revolutionary peasants, workers and intellectuals. It is they who should be honored. They checked the unlimited powers of the clergy and its allies who were draining the blood of the Mexican people and sapping the resources of the country. It was the clerical forces who provoked the French intervention and helped to install the infamous Archduke Maximillian as the ruler of Mexico. The purpose of the coalition was to steal the riches of Mexico.
There were many abuses. The clergy collected tithes either in cash or in goods. It collected for births, marriages and deaths. For example, if a family did not have enough to pay for a funeral, the priests would refuse to bury the deceased. The body was left unburied until a public collection supplied the full price. These and other outrageous acts were prohibited by law. The reforms would never have been put into practice if it were not for the vigilance and sacrifices of the progressive and revolutionary elements.
The clergy fought to maintain and widen its privileges. Those who defied the authority of the Church paid dearly for their courage. Melchior Ocampo was murdered. Guillermo Prieto, a brave man, saved the life of President Benito Juarez when a group of religious fanatics tried to assassinate him in Guadalajara. Gomez Farias was one of the most radical speakers and activists so was Ignacio Altamarino, both among those known as the "Men of the Reform." Although we mention a few, their number was legion. By their efforts and often at the cost of their lives they tried to change society in accord with the most progressive ideas of their times.
Now this period in the history of Mexico is being celebrated. It is disgusting to see the clergy repeating the abuses against which these men fought. The Church mocks liberal ideas. It openly flaunts its power by organizing religious parades and pilgrimages to religious shrines. The clergy exploits the religious superstition of the ignorant masses. Thousands of pilgrims from all over Mexico walk hundreds of miles to the capitol in their bare feet. Others crawl 3 or 4 kilometers on their knees as they approach the shrine of Guadalupe. After completing the penance demanded by the Church, many pilgrims must be hospitalized. Thus does the Christian religion, which is supposed to practice brotherly love, inflict torture on its followers! Thus does it degrade the culture of a people!
We are not surprised by the acts of the clergy, nor the ignorance of the religious fanatics. This is the way they always behave. The disgusting hypocrisy of those who know better is quite another matter. Many union leaders, without the slightest respects for the constitution which they claim to honor, lend their prestige to the organization of these ostentatious spectacles called pilgrimages. At these religious affairs the employers advertise their products. Various unions send delegations of workers to these pilgrimages and demonstrations, who carry huge signs and displays, featuring the name of the employer, the factory and the union.
We view with infinite disgust those who force many class-conscious workers to participate in these shameless circuses because they would lose their jobs if they refused to knuckle under.
Through Us Alone
On March first, 1954, Aikichi Kuboyama, radio operator and big brother to the crew of the Japanese fishing vessel "Lucky Dragon," was caught, in company with his mates, in the fallout of the first hydrogen bomb test at Bikini Atoll and suffered severe burns from which he died in September, 1954.
The touching bit of doggerel below was translated from the December 1957 issue of Befreiung (German Libertarian monthly).
THROUGH US ALONE
(inscribed to the memory of the first victim of the hydrogen bomb)
We don't know what you did
To deserve this fate,
though too well we know
You had burdens and bore them
Even as we do.
And as we have, you too had parents
Now lying in some obscure grave.
Somewhere around the water's edge
A wife awaited you;
Somewhere beyond the water's edge
You had a home and children—
Children who'd come a-running
To greet your home-coming.
Despite your heavy burdens all,
You chose to live and struggle;
And so do we. You did what's right,
Although to us your name sounds strange,
Reveals no blazoned fame,
Yet shall we through our lives
Bear it in our hearts.
Aikichi Kuboyama—a name,
A torch that lights our shame,
Aikichi Kuboyama—a sound
Akin to trembling ground
On which all mankind treads;
Yet shall it nonetheless, this name,
Be the name of all our hopes.
On us alone will it depend
Whether you had to be the first to die
By mere accident and chance,
Or whether you died for all our sakes;
On us alone, your Brothers,
(Translated by P.N.)
The Libertarian League — Financial Report — 1957
Payments on press $779.75
Paper (for press) 397.18
Mimeograph equipment and supplies 22.80
Press equipment and supplies 94.85
Trucking and installation of press 25.00
Office supplies 31.66
Misc. upkeep (Libertarian Center) 49.58
Libertarian Center Rent 900.00
Post Office box rent 24.00
Fluorescent fixtures 38.64
Exhaust fan 50.47
Total Expenses $3,148.35
Forums and classes $276.63
Proceeds from Dinners 485.29
Raffle tickets 191.25
Total Income $2,793.36
DEFICIT FOR 1957 $354.99
FINANCIAL REPORT, FIRST QUARTER 1958
Payments on press $164.00
Press equipment and supplies 58.00
Office supplies 66.50
Negatives (for press) 45.09
Libertarian Center Rent 225.00
Libertarian center: maintenance 11.50
Paper (for press) 58.65
Total expenses $730.44
Forums and classes $62.53
Proceeds from Dinners 116.93
Telephone box 3.50
Total Income $687.31
DEFICIT FOR FIRST QUARTER $43.13
From now on monthly and annual financial reports will be published regularly in VIEWS AND COMMENTS. These reports include the income and expenses of the Libertarian Center in New York and the publication of VIEWS AND COMMENTS and such other material as we may publish. These reports are intended only as summaries. Copies of the detailed reports are available to anyone requesting them.
What We Stand For
Two great power blocs struggle for world domination. Neither of these represents the true interests and welfare of Humanity. Their conflict threatens mankind with atomic destruction. Underlying both of these blocs are institutions that breed exploitation, inequality and oppression.
Without trying to legislate for the future we feel that we can indicate the general lines along which a solution to these problems can be found.
The exploitative societies of today must be replaced by a new libertarian world which will proclaim—Equal freedom for all in a free socialist society. "Freedom" without socialism leads to privilege and injustice; "Socialism" without freedom is totalitarian.
The monopoly of power which is the state must be replaced by a world-wide federation of free communities, labor councils and/or co-operatives operating according to the principles of free agreement. The government of men must be replaced by a functional society based on the administration of things.
Centralism, which means regimentation from the top down, must be replaced by federalism, which means co-operation from the bottom up.
THE LIBERTARIAN LEAGUE will not accept the old socio-political cliches, but will boldly explore new roads while examining anew the old movements, drawing from them all that which time and experience has proven to be valid.
813 Broadway (between 11th & 12th Sts.) NEW YORK CITY
ROUND TABLE YOUTH DISCUSSIONS EVERY FRIDAY AT 8
Dinner and social on the third Saturday of every month at 7:30 PM