Volume Two of Anarchism: A Documentary History of Libertarian Ideas, The Emergence of the New Anarchism (1939-1977), begins with anarchist responses to European fascism, the defeat of the Spanish anarchists, and the commencement of the Second World War. Space limitations prevented the inclusion of the following excerpts, translated by Paul Sharkey, taken from the Mexican anarchist paper, Libertad, organ of the Anarchist Federation of the Centre (FAC). Although by 1939 the Mexican anarchist movement was in decline, many Spanish anarchists fled to Mexico at the end of the Spanish Civil War, joining with their Mexican comrades to continue the struggle for land and liberty.
The inheritance of mankind does not belong to the individual
We believe, firmly, that human thought is not the inheritance of individuals, but rather the fruit of the social influences working directly upon the minds of men. So all manifestations of art, including literary output, are not the petty property of those from whom they emanate but are, and ought to be, part and parcel of the social setting under whose sway they have been devised and brought forth….
Our paper is a paper for rebels, for authentic revolutionaries. Not for people who fake situations and espouse phoney stances just to look like trendsetters, but for those who genuinely think about and feel for the movement of social demands because they have lived under the lash of injustice. We are united in thought. There are none among us who are higher or lower. We are no self-obsessed group bent upon bragging about its ideas, because we know (and readily confess) that our thinking is embodied by the forces that follow in our wake. Ours is a literature of struggle. We cannot do things any other way: the social life we currently live out forces our hand. Which is why we are not putting signatures to our articles; because ours is the thinking of a collectivity, the thinking of the society to which we belong. And if that society declines to recognize that we are surrounded by injustices and hypocritically covers up the truth of the situation, the reason is that it is craven even when it comes to dealing with its grievances. We are not. We speak out plainly and as harshly as the case requires, because only thus will we be able to uphold the revolutionary cause we back.
(From Libertad, monthly publication of the FAC, No. 4, 30 August 1939)
Anarchist Federation of the Centre (FAC)
Statement of Principles
The Anarchist Federation of the Centre in the Mexican Republic is made up of groups and individuals who have embraced redemptive ideals and, having the profoundest love of justice and freedom, takes the view that the natural inclination of the individual and the requirements of life in society draw humanity towards a free society: one without social classes, privilege, or vested interests to hobble harmony, peace, well-being and the broadest freedom for humanity; so the FAC declares that its campaigning principles are the abolition of capitalism, the state, all religions and private property; and it sends out a fraternal call to all men and women who honestly yearn for human emancipation to fight zealously for the anarchist ideal; so that, united by a thoughtful solidarity, they can cooperate to achieve well-being and freedom for all human beings. Yearning for an ideal of such grandeur, the FAC proposes:
1. That society be so constituted that it can afford all human beings the requisite wherewithal to enjoy the social and material well-being to which they have a perfect entitlement. Peace, freedom and knowledge for all, without self-seeking or privilege.
2. The FAC declares that it is vital that the means of production, machinery and the wherewithal of labour be at the disposal of all and that no man or group of men can compel others to bow to their will, nor bring influence to bear by means other than argument, righteousness and example.
3. Thus the FAC declares that it will fight for the expropriation of society’s inheritance, which today is in the hands of a minority of dare-devils who have no purpose other than clinging to their privileges, which symbolize pillage, tyranny and oppression, at the expense of wretchedness and sacrifice for the majority.
4. The FAC will engage in propaganda on behalf of the anarchist ideal, by whichever means it can; it will at all times struggle, peaceably or violently, depending on circumstances, against any capitalist social regime and dictatorship until well-being and freedom for all are secured once and for all.
5. The FAC reaffirms the need for organization and workers’ struggle against capitalism, and urges all libertarians to join workers’ and agrarian unions so as to foment revolutionary activity in the manifold aspects of the struggle, being mindful that the unions have a very specific significance as technical agencies for expropriation and the requisite, immediate production and equitable distribution during and after the revolution.
6. The FAC is of the view that the trade union organizations, if anarchistic in approach, are suited to marshalling all producers… for revolution in the workplace. And to organizing and implementing the principles of libertarian communism.
7. In terms of fostering in the wage-earning worker a producer’s consciousness and appreciation of the usefulness of anarchist social revolution, the FAC sees fit to encourage the conversion of the workers’discontent into a clear determination to carry out expropriation with an eye to the future management of industrial and agricultural production, and thus recognizes the need to participate directly in labour organizations so as to preserve this goal in their organizational structure and operation, combating every tendency towards mystification and counter-revolution.
8. The FAC will directly combat all religions, dogmas and sects because they are all informed by the belief in a non-existent god and have a vested interest in the retention of tyranny, falsehood and man’s exploitation of his fellow man, holding out the promise of heaven and using hell to terrorize those who decline to believe in the mumbo-jumbo of priests or who refuse to defer to or obey them.
9. The FAC declares itself internationalist: it will combat nationalism because flags and fatherlands are the roots of hatred and selfishness between peoples and races. Borders! The greatest barrier to universal brotherhood!
10. The FAC will organize the young into revolutionary groupings, training them and educating them to the anarchist ideal: since youth is, by its very essence, the sole driving force behind revolutionary movements for social change….
(From Libertad, No. 3, 15 July 1939)
The Imperative of the Hour
A call to anarchists around the country
Throughout history and the various regimes which have followed one upon another, we have stated, time and time again, that anarchy encapsulates human thinking regarding regeneration and harmony between men. It campaigns for destruction of the economic system that rules over us, which tramples conscience, is inspired by man’s exploitation of his fellow man and is responsible for the whole panoply of wretchedness by which peoples are afflicted; for the establishment of a new system of social coexistence free of the exploiters and governments by whom they are ground down, where the preferred way of life is freedom, equality and fraternity, empty verbiage these days on the lips of degenerate and brazen politicians, but indicative of the over-riding craving of peoples for an ultimate conclusion to the hatreds spawned by the social inequality that allows the few to experience indescribable luxury, in stark contrast to the unvarying wretchedness of the majority who make up the creative thrust behind everything that is and who merit admiration, now and in the past.
Banditry is but one of the many blights upon humanity, fuelled by the current regime’s incapacity to reconcile the interests of its component classes – the propertied and the dispossessed – and from the ranks of the latter and in response to the despotism, extreme poverty and the many vicissitudes that hold them in subjection, come all of the individuals currently being touted as… criminals, men who, due to a profound sensitivity or to a moral slackening encouraged by their surroundings, have embarked upon a life of risk that sooner or later must come to a tragic conclusion at the hands of what has come to be described (incorrectly) as justice, but which is actually merely the hand of vengeance, particularly active when there is trespass against the bosses’ privileges.
We proclaim today just as we proclaimed yesterday that all of the measures designed to crack down on these shameful ills will have no effect; that, far from having a remedial impact, execution and imprisonment will sow the seeds of further degeneracy; that, for all the forward-looking reforms they have introduced, the schools are going to fail in their moralistic ambitions, as long as the proletariat continues to have its moral and material needs unfulfilled. Only a social transformation on the scale we advocate can jettison all of our present ills, whereupon, the cause having been banished, the effect too will vanish.
Having said that, anarchism will still be beyond the ken of those who are blinded in their reason and understanding, of the ill-intentioned and the hypocrites of the mercenary, sectarian press forever working to discredit ideas that struggle to replace capitalism’s wobbly rule with something different that can guarantee harmony and brotherhood between men…
[T]he penitentiaries… besides being used to combat crime, have been used to incarcerate men of vision, extraordinary minds that have steered peoples down the path of true redemption and to curb the collective yearning for liberation.
…[A]ny steps taken to counter our ideas will prove futile, anarchism being part and parcel of human thought. All that will be achieved will be a further addition to the sacrifices that anarchy so generously made on May Day, in the Russian revolution, in the defence of Spain, in the face of Nazi invaders and in the Mexican revolution, with the unconquerable Flores Magón and Práxedis G. Guerrero in pride of place.
Comrades, let us be equal to the imperative of the hour: this is not the time for vacillation and hesitation!
We either are or we are not for anarchist communism!
The Libertarian Youth of San Luis Potosi