I Couldn't Paint Golden Angels : Chapter 13 : The Shadow of the Tong; The Anarchist Black Cross; Miguel Garcia; Start of "Black Flag"; Towards the Centre; Rise of the Print Empire; Anarchist in Fleet Street; 1986 Again; Doctor's Dilemma
(1920 - 1996) ~ British Anarcho-Syndicalist and CNT-FAI Activist during the Spanish Civil War : A lifelong trade unionist he fought Mosley's blackshirts; actively supported the Spanish revolution's anarchist communes and militias and the German anti-Nazi resistance and was a key player in the second world war Cairo mutiny. (From : AInfos.ca Bio.)
• "If we accept the principle of a socialized society, and abolish hereditary privilege and dominant classes, the State becomes unnecessary. If the State is retained, unnecessary Government becomes tyranny since the governing body has no other way to maintain its hold." (From : "Anarchism: Arguments for and against," by Albert ....)
• "Nobody is fit to rule anybody else. It is not alleged that Mankind is perfect, or that merely through his/her natural goodness (or lack of same) he/she should (or should not) be permitted to rule. Rule as such causes abuse." (From : "Anarchism: Arguments for and against," by Albert ....)
• "If Government is the maintenance of privilege and exploitation and inefficiency of distribution, then Anarchy is order." (From : "Anarchism: Arguments for and against," by Albert ....)
Over the years I had been corresponding with a Chinese friend, Ch'En Chang, who had originally been in London as a medical student before the war. He had returned to China and was always in touch with the what remained of the huge anarchist workers' movement, about which the best-known figure in modern Chinese literature, Pa Chin, had movingly written. That movement had passed through immense struggles with the old Empire, the new Republic, the warlords, the Japanese invaders and now the Communists. His letters had always come through devious routes, originally being posted in the International Settlement in Shanghai, then occasionally in Hong Kong and finally coming from Singapore. As he never left China under Communist rule, he managed to do so through the good offices of the former seamen's guild which was the last grouping of the old movement.
Thanks to Ch'En, and with the help of Olga Lang's biography of Pa Chin and the somewhat briefer information in Yu and Scalapino's book on Chinese Anarchism, I was able to write a short pamphlet on The Origins of the Chinese Anarchist Movement (reproduced several times and still the only comprehensive account). Many disbelieved in stories of an anarchist movement, so great was current belief in Mao's history and record. Over the years I was told wonderingly that this or that book by a real live professor contained references to certain figures of the past which seemed to back my extraordinary thesis that even if the present was Mao's, the past was not and the future might not be either.
Not until the Battle of Tiannamen Square, when Mao was dead, did many radicals realize Mao was not all that he was cracked up to be and that there was dissent in his empire, though it was still generally assumed that resistance was a student affair and that the workers, like the tourists, enjoyed the delights of Western ballet and trips to the sewage farms at the weekends.
Pa Chin, actually Li Fei-kan (his nom-de-plume Pa Chin pronounced and in the new spelling Ba-kin,was taken from an amalgam of the names of Bakunin and Kropotkin) continued to write during the horrors not only of his youth but the war, the Japanese occupation and the triumph of Maoism. In the Cultural Revolution, during which Mao played Trotsky to his own Stalin, he had been persecuted, degraded, forced to re-write the endings of his novels to make them more optimistic. His pessimism was justified faced with the alternatives of Chiang Kai Shek, Mao Tse Tung or Japanese imperialism. In his re-written novels he had to take the pictures of Bakunin off the walls of the characters of Northern peasants in rebellion and replace them, years before the name could have meant anything to them, with that of Mao. Despite immense 'reeducation' and being forced to kneel on broken glass in front of TV cameras and confess his sins, Pa Chin still defied his tormentors. Ch'En admired him, as did many others, and asked me if anything could be done, having no idea what position I was in, for my letters, sent to a hostel in Singapore, took a year or more to be picked up and reach him.
Herbert Read had professed himself an anarchist, though a pillar of the art and cultural establishment. After he accepted a knighthood from the Churchill Government, he was strongly criticized for what was at the kindest an inconsistency His essays on Anarchism were expressed with great lucidity, though his actions scarcely lived up to it. When he went to Buenos Aires on behalf of the British Council, the local anarchists invited him to speak. He gave a lecture on Anarchism to an overflowing theater full of people wanted by the dictatorship, as the police looked helplessly on at this illegal meeting, unsure as to what to do when it was addressed by an honored guest of the Government, beyond controlling the queues blocking the traffic.
Asking for questions from the audience, Read was not unnaturally asked how he could reconcile taking an honor from his own government let alone coming to the Argentine on its behalf as a guest of their dictatorship, with the views he had just vividly expressed. He answered, "You must understand I'm a philosopher, not an activist". He could hardly explain his Catholic wife wanted a ladyship as recompense for putting up with his unorthodox opinions for years.
In my language there was another word too, but humbug or not, he was going to China to speak on behalf of the Arts Council with the same British-way-of-life quasi-propaganda about our glorious heritage, so I swallowed my sectarian pride, as I always felt I had to in such cases and hoped he would overlook any resentment he felt at my criticisms of him, which he in fact ignored completely, and asked if he would intervene on behalf for Pa Chin.
When he got to China in 1973, he was bemused by the achievements of the Chinese "Revolution", as most "visiting honored intellectuals" were, not realizing what lay under the artistic presentations, nor meeting people at work nor finding out how they felt. But I will say this for him, he did put his money where mouth was when his ear was bashed. When next I heard from Ch'En two years later I learned it had greatly relieved Pa Chin's position. He was released from restrictions, at first rigid custody and then farm work, and allowed to resume writing.
This was at a time when I was signing on at the Labor Exchange before going back to Fleet Street, isolated politically and with nowhere of my own to live! I still find it amazing what an insignificant person can sometimes do to influence a powerful nation State. I read once in a sixpenny novel when I was young about the shadow of the Tong, which stretched so far that the humblest beggar could make powerful mandarins tremble if he gave the secret sign of the Tong brotherhood, but I would guess it was no more than something like this.
And yet talking dramatically of the 'shadow of the Tong', I suppose it must have some substance or at least origin. One day a Chinese ship landed at Southampton, and the boatswain, having a few days at liberty and a few letters from Ch'En to post to me from a safe port, decided to call on me instead. Having no British currency, as seafarers were deliberately kept short so they would not wander around, he walked into a Chinese restaurant, communicated a Tong sign of the warlord days and demanded a meal and the fare to London.
The frightened proprietor begged him not to cause any trouble, gave him twice what he needed provided he ate elsewhere and could not get him away fast enough. My friend had only read about the Tong in a popular magazine and was unable to explain to my satisfaction how anyone recognized a sign if it was a secret of the brotherhood.
The address he had been given for me was years old, but my aunt Floss lived there. She phoned me frantically to say a "Chinaman", of all people, was trying to see me. Would I come around immediately, or flee as appropriate, and what should she do meanwhile? When I suggested giving him a cup of tea until I arrived she said anxiously she had no China tea and did I think he would mind Lipton's.
The letter from Ch'En, who had died since it was sent some months before, was enthusiastic about the great strides we were making in England. Pictures of the enormous anti-Vietnam War demonstration had appeared in the press. A Communist newspaper had taken photos which by accident caught a few anarchist banners in the front and it looked as if the march was entirely theirs. When printing they erased the slogans from the banners on the photograph. No doubt to the Chinese Communist news agency these meaningless Occidental squiggles meant nothing and they passed the negatives untouched, and delighted the few English-reading anarchists in Mao's China who were led to suppose from the State press that however the movement had been crushed there, it could fill Trafalgar Square in London. It must have cheered up Ch'En tremendously in his last days.
Why think he and they were naive when worthy professors, astute journalists and pretentious historians on the spot and in other English-speaking countries made the same or similar mistakes?
Ever since I came back on the "Otranto" I had run the Asian Solidarity Campaign which sounded grand but only consisted of myself. It responded to Ch'En and Acharya in their occasional appeals for solidarity, on behalf of political prisoners of the regimes or other victims, whose families had left the country, and this was only a very small part of the problem or I could not possibly have managed. There was no need of much administration, though I was glad of help when it came. The funds were raised from three restaurants, two Indian and one Chinese, who allowed me to approach their customers at the respective New Years. I was assisted in getting these contacts by the old Russian Anarchist Marie Goldberg's Indian son-in-law.
After Acharya died there were no anarchists left on the Indian Continent and the name was up for grabs by mystic gurus. Only a student of the Vedas can know what they mean by it. When Ch'En died I had no further contact with the Chinese movement and decided to end the campaign. However, Christie had just returned from Spain and was anxious to help anarchist prisoners in that country, who were forgotten except by their own organization. When he had been in jail he had received food parcels, which we had never thought we could send. He had shared these and now wanted to enable the aid to continue, as well as to publicize their plight.
We discussed this, and re-started the Anarchist Black Cross. It had a long history in Czarist Russia of humanitarian aid and armed defense, and its international had perished when the Thirties repression and depression grew too great.
We started with two members, but were inundated from the first with suggestions from the 'weekenders' and liberals as to the narrowness of our aims. Why just Spanish Anarchist prisoners? "Because they have been forgotten and every other political prisoner in Spain gets help." Why not all political prisoners everywhere? Comes to that, why not all prisoners? "Right on. Excellent, but there are only two of us and we haven't collected a penny yet." Why not Irish Nationalists or Arab refugees? "Vast, rich and important organizations already do that. This is something different." Someone who never did anything at all even suggested we help not merely political, but all prisoners, as well as victims of famine, flood and pestilence, which would certainly have taxed our resources.
In the end, at least of the beginning, we had to rely on ourselves entirely, as two of my restaurateur friends sold or lost their businesses, though the Indian one gave us a collection until he was closed down by the authorities. We were able to establish a number of contacts, most importantly in the task of publicity and pressure and from then on had to rely on the anarchist movement itself. Though I was loathed by the phonies who frequented the periphery of our movement because it was felt to be trendy to do so, I was liked by the activists and with Stuart's charisma and reputation too, we were able to launch the Anarchist Black Cross as a ginger group within what now seemed a growing British anarchist movement.
I said at the very beginning that if we succeeded in helping one political prisoner it was worth having a go, and we helped a lot more than that even in the first year or so.
Our first big success came with getting Miguel Garcia out from a Spanish prison, and he provided a springboard to further action. He had been arrested in 1949, sentenced in 1952, and released in 1969. The end of the sentence did not necessarily imply release. Immediate re-arrest was not uncommon for the unrepentant. We brought him out of oblivion and he directed the International Black Cross to work for the release of many others. Months after I was recalled to working life after four years buried in a bookshop, he was, like Dickens's Dr Manette, recalled to life after being buried alive in prison for twenty years.
Miguel had originally gone into jail as a combatant in the civil war for two and a half years, to be 'reeducated' into fascism, or at least docility (both unsuccessfully) having evaded captivity and certain death for a couple of years after the close of hostilities when mass shootings in the concentration camps were the norm. He took up active underground resistance after leaving the ironically-named Miguel de Unamuno concentration camp.
Sentenced in a mass trial with others of the "Tallion" group associated with Francisco Sabater, his death sentence was reduced to life. Franco was trying to alter his image as a mass executioner to make his regime acceptable to the outside world, and though many of those charged with Miguel were executed, it was deemed politic to reprieve others. Later sentences were reduced to twenty years, as a magnanimous gesture which only dictators can grant. Miguel served the full twenty, down to the day and the hour, being released in the middle of the night.
Had he gone back to civilian life in Spain on release, with the regime still vindictive though not as much as it had been, he would have undoubtedly committed further 'offenses' such as union organization or speaking out, or even not paying to keep in with the local police, and served another ten years or so. He could not stand the provocations offered by victorious Francoism, which required him to pretend atonement for his 'convict past' when challenged by the police and would surely, had he stayed, have responded in the only language dictatorship understood.
Stuart knew Miguel from having met him in Carabanchel jail, and we persuaded him to come over, raising the fare among supporters. He was a natural linguist, fluently speaking French, Portuguese and Italian as well as Castilian and his native Catalan, and he had learned and taught his friends English in prison. He went blank when hearing the language spoken by natives. On the boat he thought he was hearing German. Though he spoke English recognizably, its idioms and diverse accents presented a challenge.
He used me both as guinea-pig and scapegoat for the language, insisting on speaking only English. Though Stuart had clearer diction than I he regarded him as less versed in grammatical explanations, and spoke Spanish with him. He saved English expressions which baffled him and presented them to me, getting extremely cross when he found words of Latin origin used in a different sense from elsewhere, accusing me, who was in no way responsible, that "you take words from all over the world and use them as you like",
I tried in vain to placate him by joking that if a certain Duke of Medina Sidonia had been a better sailor and the weather had been calmer, the Armada might have landed safely and we would all have been speaking English by now in a way he could understand. He curiously came to enjoy London even more than his beloved Barcelona. He was disappointed when he saw it again a few years later after its ruination by traffic and industrial pollution. However, he never forgave Londoners, or for that matter the British, their accents or language, bursting with indignation once when someone was helping me fix the car and I incautiously asked Miguel to pass him the thingamajig out of the toolbox.
I first got him, through the union, a job at the (pre-Murdoch) Times and he had some idea that people working there would speak BBC English he would recognize, but unfortunately this did not apply to the car park attendants with whom he was unable to converse. And he was baffled the first day by a hardy perennial when a Times journalist with clear diction but unsteady gait asked him to "get that car out of the fucking way" -- but who was fucking whom? Where in the car park would they do that?
For all his idiosyncrasies, Miguel played a decisive role in the development of the postwar international anarchist movement. In the Indian summer of his life, when he was surely entitled to rest from his life's struggles, he became a pivotal figure in the libertarian resistance. Solidarity with anarchist prisoners worked two ways. It helped the prisoner, and it put people in rapport with the cause for which they were working.
Black Flag had already been going eighteen months or so when Miguel arrived in 1970. We began it as the Bulletin of the Anarchist Black Cross when I had walked away from the bookshop venture. Stuart still had the sort of publicity of which aspiring film stars dream, but it did not bring him a penny in his pocket, and I had a Gestelith offset which the bailiffs had overlooked. By this time I had started as a copytaker on the Daily Sketch, with a reasonable wage. Stuart too began earning good money, starting work for William Press, the gas contractors, converting homes to natural gas. Though both of us were working abnormally long hours, the new bulletin came out regularly, and interest in the international resistance was revived.
He had overcome the problems of being welcomed back to England with a civil action between The People and Private Eye arising out of the former's reporting ethics, and also an Old Bailey case in which he was charged with of trying to pass off propaganda leaflets, produced on a Gestelith, as currency. Exactly the same sort of fun money was produced not only in commercial advertising, in games like Monopoly or in show business, but even in political advertising. After he was found technically guilty but allowed to go free, I tried to bring a similar action against the local Conservative Party for doing exactly the same thing. But they hadn't come back from Spain unrepentant at having fought the dictatorship, so for that or some other legal reason, the case could not proceed.
The Bulletin was originally intended to note the activities and existence of the Black Cross, but the spread of anarchist activism in the sixties made us the focus. There was a demand for an anarchist newspaper, as Freedom had become increasingly bourgeois pacifist, partly because nobody else would work under the direction of Richards and his little group of self-styled intellectuals. When at a demonstration a policeman was alleged to have been injured falling off the horse on which he was dispersing the crowd, and the suggestion was made in Freedom that anarchists should get up a collection for him, the limit was reached. The former Cuddon's group constituted itself into a Black Flag collective.
After the Bulletin became Black Flag we had many editors for the next twenty odd years, at one time rotating the editorship per issue. Apart from a few of these issues I remained one of the editors throughout. Stuart remained an editor for the first five years, but so far as the press or the know-all academic twits are concerned, he remains so to this day. His brief summer of notoriety had made him a historically referrable person in spite of their trying to write him off at the same time.
This was useful after one enormous student demonstration about something or other, organized by Tariq Ali in the street fighting years that preceded his television establishment years. The press was busy spreading stories of our influence, and Stuart's in particular, on the students. Accordingly, Stuart and I called at the Italian Embassy to protest at the case of Goliardo Fiaschi, of Carrara. He had been in one of Franco's jails for twenty years along with Miguel, following his involvement with Facerias and the Spanish Resistance. Completing his sentence, he had returned to Italy, where he was re-arrested for an offense committed against the former fascist regime. At the age of eighteen he had been in the struggle of the anarchist partizans in the last days of Mussolini. So far from this being forgiven, he went straight to jail.
We told the official who saw us that we could, of course, have come with a demonstration of thousands, as had happened elsewhere the previous week, but we preferred to give the democratic Italian Government a chance to correct what might be an innocent mistake. The official heartily agreed with this approach, and complimented us on our good sense, never doubting that we could have managed to come, not with two, but with the thousands we could muster. The next we heard was a week later, the welcome news that Fiaschi had been released.
I was facing once more the perennial problem of where to live. Though I could purchase one now, the time had not yet come when such flats were readily available, and I did not have the minimum savings to place a deposit and buy. I also faced a new problem that wherever I went, police raids seemed to follow, without any follow-up whatever. Nowadays they have a lot of bigger fish to fry.
Miguel Garcia had found lodgings for himself near Finsbury Park, a room of a large basement flat rented by a couple of students who had been there for some five years. They were coincidentally named Garcia, and when they returned to Spain he stayed put, claiming to be the same tenant. The landlord never visited the place, which was supposed to be furnished but the few sticks of furniture he put in did not even meet the bare minimum requirements of the Rent Act. Miguel invited me to take over the flat and move in, so he could keep his room. Sure as fate as soon as I did so the landlord died suddenly, conforming to the general fate of my landlords, and his son's family moved into a flat on the premises.
It was convenient as we were running the International Center at Holborn at the time. The flat itself in Upper Tollington Park was an international center in its own accord. Everyone thought of it either as Miguel's flat or an extension of the center and we must have had hundreds of visitors from all corners of the world during the eighteen months I was there. Once I slept in the garden porch during the summer because we were so full up with visitors.
Being in Upper Tollington Park did not deter the police from visiting, though they insisted these were not "raids" and did not need a search warrant. They grasped that we did not control the rest of the house with its various tenants, which is more than they had done previously. These were merely "inquiries of a general nature", such as what did I understand by an article in Black Flag which I had not written, or whether Miguel knew characters ranging from Eleutorio Sanchez to Carlos the Jackal. Anyone who had been long years in prison in Spain, where they regularly move prisoners around, knew the former. When they asked Miguel if he knew Spain's criminal Public Enemy No. 1 was reported in London, I chipped in "Franco's here? He must be staying with the Queen. Have you checked the Palace?" However, neither "el Lute" nor the Caudillo were really in town and certainly not in our flat, especially the latter.
"Carlos the Jackal" (if he exists) is not, so far as I know, Spanish or into anarchist resistance but a Marxist, nationalist or an international mercenary. I only know of him from the press so my information is probably wrong. Miguel didn't know him either but told them sarcastically to leave a message so if he turned up he could pass it on.
Once I was told that an article in "Black Flag" about a bomb explosion, in no way connected with anarchism, gave information nobody could possibly have known who had not been privy to the attempt. It may have been so originally for all I knew, but the item of news so far as we were concerned had been culled from the Evening Standard, which took them aback. Whether the police followed up the information, beyond buying a back number to see if it was so, I have no means of knowing.
When I went back to work in Fleet Street, it had only a generation to go although nobody believed it, though there was already talk of 'new technology'.
Back in 1926 the printers had shown solidarity with the miners, the target of a vicious hate campaign, and finally refused to print the incitements against them in the Daily Mail, then in its fascist era. This had precipitated the General Strike, the Government of the day saying the refusal to print was its beginning and that to preempt a General Strike they began a General Lock-Out.
After the Strike was defeated by what amounted to a military coup, everybody suffered victimization, the printers no less than anyone. But in their case, unlike other industries, malice was defeated by madness.
Lord Beaverbrook, proprietor of the Daily Express group of newspapers, was probably clinically insane like many power-drunk newspaper proprietors. He employed a beautifully dressed and coiffured young lady especially to come in and clean his shoes while he sprawled on his chair in front of his executive. He was expected to be the most vicious of those who took reprisals.
But, like Hamlet, his was a nor' north-east madness and when it came to business he knew a hawk from a handsaw. Unlike his rivals, he understood that the workers laid the golden eggs he and his fellow-bosses were hatching. Others followed the Mail, which had publicly said its employes weren't capable of running a paper, and had let them down when they failed to print denunciations of their comrades in the pits. They sacked most, and blacklisted others, placing humiliating conditions and wage cuts on the rest. Beaverbrook's agents, however, went around the unemployed printers on the Street, taking on skilled craftworkers who had been sacked unceremoniously, and when other papers were happily reducing wages and extending hours he raised pay to union requirements and beyond.
Suddenly it became known to all, even the shrewd newsgatherers themselves, that Beaverbrook had stolen the prime geese that laid golden eggs from under the noses of his rivals, who were killing them. When the Daily Herald became a national, under a deal between Odhams Press and the TUC, it became difficult for other papers to operate. They had not even thought it worthwhile to train others, reckoning the less troublesome would be starved back and the rest were expendable. Now they were leaving in droves. Thunderstruck, the press barons reversed their policy and began bidding against each other, raising wages and agreeing to union demands, until "the print" became a sort of workers' aristocracy. This lasted until the smashing of the industry under the banner of "new technology", when they became serfs once again. But for over half a century union power increased, and owing to the vulnerability of papers to stoppage (nothing is more dead than yesterday's news) the molders of public opinion, who told other employers not to give in to "union blackmail", had to yield one concession after another themselves. This did not stop the press lords from trying to win back supreme control over their empire. They were making more money than they could deal with, and kept expanding. But what they craved was power.
The proprietors and even the journos never forgave the workers for winning this round of the class struggle. To this day one can read gruesome stories, written by people who regularly fiddle their expense accounts, about the "semi-criminal practices" of those like us who insisted on getting paid overtime for waiting for them to stagger up to the phones of their favorite pubs to dictate their copy, and demanded "unworked overtime" for the extra work involved in taking all at once what could otherwise be spread over time. Unworked overtime was a phrase I originated.
It spread and was countered by a special rate for "physically worked overtime" (the management's phrase), and their memorable dictum that "in no circumstances will they pay overtime on overtime", i.e. if they called on someone to work overtime to deal with the enormous backlog at pub closing time, he or she didn't get the unworked overtime rate on top of that.
In the heyday of escalating demands the press kept referring to "Anarchy in Fleet Street". One odd effect of this propaganda was to make my own position safe. When the management was told by the Economic League that I was an anarchist and of my association with Christie then at the height of his notoriety, they said (I learned) with a sigh, that precisely their problem was that everybody they had to deal with was an anarchist. I somehow doubt this.
I was for some years Health and Safety TU representative. I had a glowing tribute years later, long after I had retired, when the unions had been smashed by the new restrictive laws and everything we had fought for taken away. Nobody was prepared to take on stooge roles substituting for union representation, under the new reformist-fascism. When the management mentioned something in regard to accident prevention, somebody mentioned my name with nostalgia, to be told sharply by a young management executive (possibly with a shudder?) "You are talking about a creature from the prehistoric swamps. We don't want go down that road again." Nice to know my efforts were appreciated, after all.
To my surprise I was contacted one day at work by Granada TV. I had got used to any number of calls, but could hardly believe this one. It seemed two film companies wanted to make a documentary on the fiftieth anniversary of the Spanish Revolution Civil War, though in the event only one stayed the course. This particular caller explained they were up against the fact that they had got to know via the State-sponsored research center on anarchism in Amsterdam that the best documentary film material on some aspects of it, particularly the collectivizations, was held by the CNT. The film makers were not trusted by the anarcho-syndicalists, but they knew if they did not cooperate, they could hardly criticize afterwards. This had happened with the film To Die in Madrid when the French producers had requested film from both the CNT and the Communist Party. As contact was made by a well-known fellow-traveler, the CNT had refused to cooperate thinking the Communists would be glorified, but they still were because of the lack of any coverage the CNT would have given.
They were not exactly encouraged by the fact that Granada TV thought the person most equipped to deal with all aspects of opinion in Spain would be Lady Jane Wellesley, a direct descendant of the first Duke of Wellington and therefore, they presumed, respected by all Spaniards. At first the CNT declined to help but finally I was asked to act as a go-between. I had strong reservations and said when approached I knew the film would be a gross travesty but that I appreciated what happened over To Die in Madrid. My rudeness shocked the film makers, who denied they would distort the message. My last word was that I would advise the CNT to cooperate but made our dilemma clear, saying at least they would know, for what it was worth, they hadn't fooled us.
Surprise! In the end the Granada film was impartial, portraying fairly all sides in Spain from their own points of view -- the very first time the British media had done so. The only criticism one could make in the overall coverage was the disproportionate part given (as usual) to the International Brigade -- one would think it was an army rather than a brigade -- but as it was on the British contribution to it, this was understandable. After all, British literary circles were convinced George Orwell was a key figure in the Spanish war, following the best-selling success of Animal Farm.
I heard of a Tottenham doctor, a sincere young woman who inherited a fortune and proposed to give it to 'the movement' without being sure what it was she believed in. I thought to interest her in the Anarchist Black Cross since she claimed to be a 'nonviolent anarchist' and nothing could be more nonviolent than helping anarchist prisoners. It would take some of the pressure off Black Flag. When she heard of the Spanish Resistance (for the first time, incidentally) she closed up like a clam. It was too violent for her, she explained, and I was politely shown the door. The next I heard of Dr Rose Dugdale was that she had given her own money and robbed her wealthy parents, getting involved in a case that got her five years or so, on behalf of the Irish Republican Army. Her 'Anarchism' could only be taken with a strong dose of pacifism, but when she switched to Nationalism it was different. Pope Pius, who told the American Dorothy Day that Catholics could be anarchists provided they were pacifists (a proviso certainly not applied in the case of, say, Catholics who wanted to be fascists), would have seen the logic of this, but I never could, unless it is to say that professing Anarchism's all right as long as you don't try to achieve it.
© Copyright: 1996 Albert Meltzer
From : Hack.org
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