Views & Comments Number 38
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THE F.A.I. LIVES ON... in Spirit and in Action...
The world's strongest Libertarian movement has for many years been that of Spain. For over half a century it has been based on a solid revolutionary syndicalist foundation and a centuries-long national tradition of autonomy and federalism. Members of the Iberian Anarchist Federation (F.A.I.) have earned a reputation for responsibility, integrity, tenacity and personal courage. Not even the arduous 20-year underground struggle against fascism has broken their spirit.
Francisco Sabater and his four comrades were such people. They had participated actively in the Revolution of 1936, in the war against Franco and in the French underground struggle during the Nazi occupation. They had returned to Spain to continue the fight against tyranny in their own country.
Since 1944, Sabater worked in the Spanish underground, slipping back and forth across the border many times. His small partisan band carried out numerous acts of revolutionary sabotage, helping to keep alive the spirit of resistance of the enslaved populace...a reminder to them—and to the odious dictatorship—that the F.A.I. was not dead, Spanish anarchism still lived and fought for human emancipation, for the social revolution.
Sabater and his four companions were surprised at a farmhouse near Gerona, surrounded by a hundred of the hated Civil Guards. They died fighting...but they did not die alone. Nor have they died in vain.
The heroic gesture of Francisco Sabater is especially important in the face of the general indifference of the "free" world to the situation in Spain. It was only a few days after President Eisenhower's shameful visit with Hitler's stooge, that our comrades gave their heroic example to the world. So long as there are men like Sabater to rise against it, the murderous Franco regime is doomed. No amount of dollar-transfusions will be enough to save it.
The libertarian League offers homage to the memory of all those who have given their lives for the liberty of the Spanish people as well as to the many thousands who languish in the jails and prisons.
(From Acción Libertaria, No. 166, Buenos Aires, Argentina.)
Once more we must repeat that the libertarian position on the State has nothing to do with the false and unprincipled "Anti-Stateism" of the capitalists who sing the praises of "free enterprise."
These phony "liberals," these champions of private enterprise, who object to State intervention in economic affairs, do so only because they want to perpetuate capitalism, the inhuman and irrational system which allows them to accumulate and enjoy their wealth and privileges.
All their opposition to the State melts when the State makes laws which favor them: laws favoring foreign and domestic trade, tariffs, subsidies and the protection of foreign investments. Experience has shown that the capitalist attitude toward the State is determined by the rate of profit.
The same attitude applies to the political and social functions of the State. "Liberalism" disappears when the State uses its coercive powers to suppress the protests and revolts of those who are the direct victims of capitalist exploitation: the workers and the consumers. For the capitalists, the State must always be the guardian of social stability, which means their own stability. They want the State to guarantee the privileges of the owning and commercial classes.
There are many "Anti-Stateists" whose love or hatred of the State depends upon their political influence. When they are out of power, they form an opposition movement. They denounce the abuses of the government, the despotism of the officials, the repressive and ruthless laws and the corruption of the party in power. When the opposition takes power, the tables are turned. The accusers in turn become the accused. Those now out of power become the opposition, and are denounced by the new administration.
In contrast to the vacillating "Anti-Stateism" of the capitalists, the Libertarians stress the permanent anti-social, oppressive and parasitical nature of the State. The Libertarians insist that the economic, cultural and moral malfunctions of society are due to the concentration of power in the governmental institutions of the State; that the duty of all men and women who desire an end to the existing evils is to find, outside of the State, practical measures for the benefit of all.
There can be no modified "Anti-Stateism" because the State cannot be divested of its oppressive powers and still remain a State. As long as the State apparatus exists, oppression in greater or lesser form will continue, and the dangers and threats against hard-won liberties and rights will always be present. An effective Anti-Stateism demands measures which will diminish the powers of the State, transferring to the direct control of the people the greatest possible number of economic, cultural, educational, sanitary, social and other functions; consciously setting up new, independent organizations, creating a new way of life outside of oppressive political and economic power.
The time is coming when a network of useful federated organizations of all types will supplant the State and capitalism. The perspectives for such a transformation are promising if our methods correspond to our ultimate aims. The cooperatives, unions, neighborhood centers, mutual aid societies and other bodies too numerous to mention are the basic elements, the building blocks of the Stateless society. To revolutionize and infuse these organizations with the libertarian spirit and ideal is our high creative function, now and in the future. The only true Anti-Stateism which goes to the root of the problem is libertarian Anti-Stateism.
On the Nature of The State by Errico Malatesta
"Governmental rulers constitute a class, and between them they have developed a class solidarity much more powerful than there exists in the other classes which are based on economic privileges...It is true that, now, the government serves the bourgeoisie; not because this is the function of government but primarily because the members of the government are themselves bourgeois...He who is in power wishes to remain permanently in power and at any price to make his will triumphant...and if he personally does not persecute and rob, he creates around him a class who owe their privileges to him and whose welfare depends on maintaining him in power...The profit system and political power are two links in the chain enslaving mankind. They are like the two sides of the assassin's sword. It is not possible to free one's self of one without the other; abolish individual property without abolishing government, and it will be reconstituted by the rulers. Abolish the government without abolishing the profit system, and the proprietors will reconstitute the government.
"When Frederic Engels, this time to elude the criticism of the anarchists, said: 'When classes will disappear, the State as such will have no reason to exist and will transform itself from the government over men into the administration of things,' he, Engels, was playing with empty words. He who has the domination over things has the domination over men; he who governs production, governs the producer; he who controls goods enslaves the consumer. The question is this: either things are administered according to the free pacts of the interested parties, and then it is anarchism; or they are administered according to the law made by the administrators, and then it is government. It is the State, and inevitably the State turns tyrannical."
The "Civil Rights" Struggle by E.W.
The long and bitter Civil War for the abolition of slavery ended in 1865 with the enactment of the Fourteenth Amendment which prohibits discrimination on account of "race, creed, color or previous condition of servitude." Many of the Southern states adopted similar laws. The politicians found ways of evading the law and the Negro people have not yet attained equality. The current desegregation laws are also being rendered ineffective by the politicians. The admittedly weak Civil Rights Bill is being filibustered against by eighteen Southern Senators. In the face of this situation, it is not surprising that the Negro people are beginning to revolt.
This is similar to the struggle for the eight-hour-day back in the 1880s. After great efforts, shorter hour laws were made both by the Federal and several State governments. Only by the same sort of solidarity and direct action can Negroes win equal rights.
It was, therefore, with misgivings that we viewed on television the demonstration of Negro students from Howard University on the steps of the Senate building in Washington. After giving up their placards and being led away by the police, they knelt on the streets and prayed. What do callous legislators care about prayers? The glimpses we got on television of these august lawmakers confirmed our opinion that they are political charlatans who lightly play with the lives and liberties of millions. The students' passive tactics can dissipate the spirit of revolt. Whatever propaganda value their demonstrations may have is canceled by their perpetuation of belief in the politician and the preacher.
The church has always played a big part in the Negro's life. It was the only place they could meet with any measure of privacy, and made life more tolerable by its comforting assurance that the wrongs of this world would be righted in the next. But the function of all churches is to keep protest within the bounds and under the control of the clergy. As long as the movement confines itself to prayer and passive resistance, demands only superficial changes and does not question the basic institutions of our unjust social system, the clergy will participate. But when the protest movement becomes revolutionary and the logic of the struggle demands stronger methods, the church leaders will renounce the movement.
With great pleasure we saw on television how Negro students sat at lunch counters exclusively reserved for whites. We learned that the movement had spread from North Carolina to South Carolina, Tennessee, Alabama and other Southern states. It was inspiring to hear a young woman who was speaking for the Student Assembly of a Negro college in Montgomery, protesting the Alabama State School Board's expulsion of thirty-five students for participating in the sit-down demonstration. She said, "When one member of our student body was expelled, we were all expelled." These sit-down demonstrations are an extension of the bus boycotts begun in Montgomery. It shows how a genuine people's movement arose spontaneously, produced its own organization, devised its own tactics and inspired everyone to participate creatively and valiantly in a common cause. It encourages others to do likewise in other areas of social injustice. It arouses people from apathy and restores their belief in their own power.
Real changes are those that affect the daily life of the people. When relations are changed in schools, buses, eating places and places of employment, they represent real gains. A law can be evaded, but a boycott hits the pocketbook. No businessman can long withstand the loss of income.
If the Negro civil rights movement is diverted from the path of direct action and resumes its hopeless attempts to get justice by legislation, it will lose out to the politicians. The spirit of the movement was voiced by a young Negro woman at a round table discussion. She said, "I am no longer afraid to demonstrate for our cause. For I am convinced that every man knows right from wrong. Every man has love in his heart. Don't be afraid. Let yourself go and you will help us win."
Eyewitness Account from Houston by H.W.
Students of Texas Southern University in Houston, Texas, are demonstrating for non-segregated eating facilities. On Friday, March 4th, two Negro students sat down at the lunch counter of a supermarket in a predominantly Negro neighborhood, where 75% of the business is with Negro customers. When the two students were refused service, a group of about 100 others entered the area and some of them sat down. The counter was then closed, but the Negroes continued sitting until the store closed for the day. Many of the students carried copies of the U.S. Constitution which they read while sitting at the counter...
Abe and I went over to see for ourselves the effectiveness of the boycott. We were a little disappointed because we had expected that Negroes would no longer be shopping there, whereas at least half of the customers, even now, were Negroes. These demonstrators are determined to gain their rights through passive resistance...They just sit there minding their own business and not paying any attention to the jeers of the onlookers. Very few of the whites seem sympathetic toward them. A few are lending their support but these are very, very few...
We had a long conversation with one of the more active demonstrators who is a pre-med student at T.S.U. He felt that he himself had gone through rough humiliation as a Negro living in the South and that he does not want his daughter to have to go through the same type of experience.
Lunch Counter Demonstrations In Nashville by J.S.
At the end of February, a number of students from Fisk University, both Negro and white, commenced a campaign of passive resistance in protest of the lunch counter segregation in Nashville. They were encouraged and inspired by Rev. James Lawson, a Negro theology student at the predominantly white Vanderbilt University. The civil authorities, indignant and shocked that anyone could find fault with the status quo in good, clean Nashville, ignored the sit-in demonstrations until, on the second day of the protest, a white sympathizer was beaten by an unruly group of hoodlums on the floor of a downtown store, with a large crowd of indifferent citizens as witnesses. When action became imperative, however, it was unfortunately misdirected: some 70-odd Negro and white demonstrators, who had received passively the blows and lit cigarettes of the whites, were arrested on charges of "disrupting trade and commerce" and "disorderly conduct." Somehow, the white men who had beaten the protesting student "were lost in the crowd"; a week later, Rev. Lawson was "requested to withdraw" from his school, supposedly because of a statement printed in the Nashville Banner that should it be decided that the law had been violated by his actions, he would nevertheless continue them. (It is noteworthy that a member of the Board of Trust that acted against him is the publisher of the Banner.) He used as justification for this statement the charge that the law in Nashville is a gimmick of the white aristocracy, opposed a priori to any sort of progress. This charge is borne out by the way that the law has been used to suppress the demonstrators.
The reaction to his expulsion in his own school was sincere, if ineffectual. White students picketed the offices of the Chancellor; leaflets were printed and distributed, demanding his reinstatement on the grounds that the University should not have assumed him to be illegally acting, that this was the province of the civil authorities.
He was arrested in his church.
Although it appears as though the protesting Negroes will lose their battle for lunch counter integration, Nashville has at last been shocked out of its unrealistic idea that all is well, that the city is a Good Place to Live for white and black alike. The injustice perpetrated against the Rev. Lawson, the arbitrariness with which the law has been applied to the Negro demonstrators, the appointment of a "special judge" to try their cases who reportedly stated two days before the farcical trials that the verdicts were pretty well set in his mind (the legality of which is being used as grounds for appeal), the sentencing of demonstrators to the workhouse—all these gross violations of American "freedom" have not passed completely into oblivion. The city of Nashville has received, through its actions to preserve the divinity of its rather tarnished white gods, a well-deserved blot on its record, that will become a justification for its reformers and an anathema to its defenders.
"In an emotional moment on the Senate floor last weekend, Sen. Richard B. Russell declared that professional New York agitators were fomenting Negro sit-down demonstrations in the South. The clear purpose, declared Russell, was 'to start a race riot of terrible proportions' that would put pressure on the Senate to pass civil-rights legislation.
"The Georgia Democrat named the Congress of Racial Equality, headquartered in New York City, as the organization that had 'fostered, planned and incited these incidents that could led to a great tragedy.' But he added: 'I hope and pray that the match won't catch fire...'"
Liberty and Social Rights by Rudolf Rocker
"To consider as trivial all political and social improvements is absurd. To be consistent we would have to remain indifferent to the importance of the struggles of the working class for better conditions, within the framework of the existing social order. Nor would it be necessary to fight against the new feudalism of the Totalitarian States because one right more or less would make little difference...
"Everything that the socialists of all shades have said about the chaotic nature of capitalism is true, and will continue to be so while the fruits of human labor are appropriated by a small minority, and not by all the members of society. But this truth does not modify the fact that social movements dedicated to the disappearance of the existing social and economic order can prosper best in a climate of full publicity, where they possess the right to spread their opinions among the people, and to create new institutions which will help to accelerate social liberation. What we need is not less but more and greater rights and liberties. Even the smallest liberty won after hard fighting is a step forward on the road that leads to social liberation; likewise, the loss of the smallest right makes that road longer. The liberty of all cannot be gained by sacrificing personal liberty. By making small concessions we finally lose all our rights and liberties. Whoever makes the smallest concession to the reaction, must not be surprised if everything that others conquered for us at great sacrifice is lost."
According to the Wall Street Journal...
In 1800 the United States Federal Government employed 150 civilians.
In 1959 the Federal Government employed 2,387,000 civilians.
In 1800 the population of the country was 5.3 million.
In 1959 the population was 180,000,000.
Since 1800, the population has increased 34 times.
In these 150 years, the number of civilian employees of the Federal Government has increased 18,000 times.
Reflections on the Steel Strike Settlement by S.W.
The article about the steel strike as a symbol of the crisis in the American Labor Movement, that appeared in our last issue, was written shortly before the settlement of the strike. The terms of the agreement and the manner in which the strike was settled have been acclaimed as a clear-cut victory by the union's president, David McDonald. However, this is not the opinion of the Rarick opposition movement which seriously challenged McDonald's dictatorship in the 1958 union elections. The opposition is planning to run a slate against McDonald in the next union elections.
Indicative of widespread dissatisfaction of the rank and file with the terms and manner of the settlement is the protest of Nicholas Mamula, president of Aliquippa Local 1211. The reaction of the "MESA Educator," official organ of the Mechanics Educational Society of America, indicates that this unrest is not limited to members of the Steelworkers' union. Other labor elements are wise to the conniving manipulations of the Steelworkers' pie-card artists.
While we have no illusions about the character of the Rarick opposition, its criticism of the terms and the manner of the strike settlement are correct. They explain how the 39 cent an hour increase actually amounts to 20 cents; that McDonald gave up the 4 cent cost-of-living increase due under the old agreement and that McDonald signed a contract which permits the bosses to permanently discharge 30 men who had been fired for participating in a wildcat stoppage.
The opposition wants an accounting of the money spent during the strike for what McDonald calls "propaganda." They also want a full explanation of McDonald's backdoor agreement with Vice President Nixon, his sinister dealings with John P. Kennedy, big Wall Street speculator and father of Senator Kennedy. They should be interested in knowing that the "Wall Street Journal," organ of big business, thanked McDonald for his leniency to the steel trust.
The steel settlement followed the general pattern of past negotiations. McDonald pledged that the workers would cooperate in boosting steel production. The unpleasant atmosphere that prevailed during the strike was dissipated in renewed and stronger friendship with his friends in the steel trust. Now, Nixon, the steel barons and the labor fakers are re-united. The family squabble is over. As a sign of good feeling the leaders of capital and labor have pledged themselves anew to avoid family disputes and never again to have any strikes.
In its leading editorial, the "MESA Educator" for February 1960 has this to say:
"There can be no doubt that the militant action of the rank and file members of the United Steelworkers forced a settlement on the steel companies as well as on USW President McDonald. Apparently, to avoid any such unforeseen events happening in the future, Secretary Mitchell and President McDonald are making statements that with the setting up of a tripartite committee of company, union and public members, as provided in the present contract, future strikes of the steel workers will be eliminated.
"The people involved in this settlement, and particularly USW President McDonald, should learn a fundamental and self-evident truth that, in the unceasing struggle between labor and management, if you take away the workers' sole weapon and abolish strikes, freedom is gone and fascism will inevitably rush in to fill the void.
"The settlement of this strike in a basic industry is a sordid one, and brings into sharp focus how deeply the labor movement is enmeshed in the cesspool of political connivance."
The Libertarian view of the independent role of the State in relation to the other pressure groups in society was illustrated in the steel strike. We spoke of the opposition of both labor and management to compulsory arbitration. The fact of this opposition shows that the State is not as the Marxists say merely the "executive committee of the capitalist class" but constitutes a class in itself, using other classes merely to increase its own power. Nixon said:
"I don't need to tell you that the government arbitration means government wage-fixing, and that government wage-fixing inevitably means government price-fixing. Once we get into this vicious circle, not only collective bargaining, but the production enterprise system as we know it is doomed."
Another article in this issue emphasizes our disagreement with the capitalist type of Anti-Stateism. On the other hand the fact-that the capitalists should for reasons of their own at times be Anti-Stateist shows that the State is not a mere rubber stamp. Nixon in this respect is but echoing the sentiment of Henry Ford: "... government big enough to give us all we want is a government that can take from us everything we have."
In the course of the class struggle, the workers must battle the unholy trinity of the capitalist class, the State, and the labor brokers who dominate most American unions today.
Review: "How Labour Governed" by S.W.
"How Labour Governed" is the fifth in a series of pamphlets published by the "Syndicalist Workers Federation" of Great Britain which also issues "World Labor News." This pamphlet reviews the record of the Labour Government which ruled Britain from 1945 to 1951. That record proves that it betrayed every socialist principle and violated nearly all of its pre-election pledges. These betrayals were reflected in its domestic, foreign and colonial policies. In documenting these charges the pamphlet relies on the speeches and writings of the party leadership and official publications.
The direction of Labour Government policy was clearly formulated by a high party official, Sir Hartley Shawcross, in February 1946: "I take the opportunity of making it quite clear that this Government like any Government as an employer, would feel itself perfectly free to take disciplinary action that any strike situation that might develop demanded."
The Labour Party had pledged itself not to use troops as strike-breakers. Only six days after coming into power the Labour Government ordered troops to break a strike of London dock-workers. This was repeated three months later. The Government decreed wage freezes and compulsory arbitration.
Pre-election pledges to the effect that the unions would have direct representation in the management of state-owned industries were forgotten. The Party, once in power, reversed its traditional opposition to military conscription in favor of permanent peacetime conscription.
In nationalizing the Bank of England, the coal mines, railways, canals and other utilities, the Labour Government guaranteed the stockholders the same income as before.
The principle behind these domestic policies guided Labour Party action in foreign and colonial affairs as well. Before the dropping of the atom bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August 1945, President Truman had obtained the agreement of the British Labour Government. The military adventures in Greece, Egypt, Iran, Indonesia, Korea and elsewhere caused an increase in the "defense" budget from 692 million pounds in 1948 to 1,032 million pounds in 1951. One hundred and thirty-six Spanish anti-fascists were deported into the arms of Franco to certain imprisonment, torture or death.
The Labour Party's defeat in the last General Election was due primarily to the justified disappointment of the workers with its actions when in power. In 1945, Arthur Greenwood (Labour Government Privy Seal), said: "I look around my colleagues and I see landlords, capitalists and lawyers. We are a cross-section of the national life and this is something that has never happened before."
It is impossible for any political party of "Labor" to reach power without concessions to the Right—to the middle class—at the expense of basic principles. "Labor" (or "Socialist") parties lose their identity and eventually are found to differ only on minor points from the "conservative" contenders for power. Labor partyism is class-collaboration on the political field and it is just as disastrous for the workers as class-collaboration has been on the economic field. There is every reason to believe that the same fate would befall an American labor party if one were established. Advocates of a labor party in the U.S. could profit by the lessons of the British Labour Party, that this pamphlet so ably points out.
Our movement sorely needs up-to-date and down-to-earth literature interpreting the major events and problems of our times from a libertarian viewpoint. Our comrades of the Syndicalist Workers Federation of Great Britain are doing much to correct this situation.
(This pamphlet may be ordered from the Libertarian League, Literature Dept. Price 10 cents)
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Of the People, by the People...?
Chicago, December 29, 1959—Because the life and death of so many people depend on the actions of so few rulers, it is only natural that men should ask questions about the rulers' qualities. Some answers have been provided in an address given before an American Association for the Advancement of Science meeting by Dr. Walter A. Lunden, sociologist at Iowa State University, who stated that the world's rulers today, although likely to be of generally higher intelligence than the average man, are equally likely to be mentally deranged. The greater the power of political leaders and top executives, he said, the more corrupt and criminal they tend to be.
Drawing from his book, "Power and Morality," Lunden said that our present society tends to promote and to advance to high positions certain types of men: the inadequate psychopath, a placid and emotionally blunt person, often taken for a profound man; the aggressive, obsessive-compulsive boss, conceited, ambitious, domineering and intolerant; and the ethically aberrant personality endowed with acute intelligence, but morally wily and cynical. Our "sensate" culture, he added, produces rulers dominated by a utilitarian ethic which leads to power and corruption. What is needed, according to this sociologist, is an integral culture in which the knowledge and techniques of natural and social science would be applied in conformity with universal moral and spiritual principles.
Nicotines—The All-Filter Cigarette
Life Among The Savages by Anarcho-Cynicalist
We attended a sales meeting last month, a sad and comical affair put on by a franchise dealer in cookware. It was held in the suburban home of the dealer.
We filed in and were given an application form to fill out by a young man. Then we took a seat in the sales room and by and by the dealer sales manager bounced in. "Now before we start the meeting let's all sing the Johnson Sales Song," he enthused. The 25 or 30 men in the room rose to their feet. Some of the new applicants were a bit embarrassed by these rather unusual proceedings, but the happy man in the front of the room, assisted by his two "top men," led the group in singing to the tune of the Notre Dame victory song: "Drive! Drive for more Johnson Sales! Thrive! Thrive on more Johnson Sales! Use your head and Sell! Sell! Sell!!..." and several more nonsensical lines.
The place was full of surprises. We waited for whatever was next on the agenda, now that the caroling was over. Over? No, not yet, for the Manager had everyone stand up and sing the Happy Birthday song for his daughter and for some other abashed oaf in the group. After singing our old sweet song we were obliged to applaud half a dozen individuals for top sales of the week, new baby in the house...bunk like that. Then the sales manager went into a frenzied speech. "Men, the one great thing that's essential for success in sales or any other field is enthusiasm!" He shouted this in a cheer-leading voice. "Salesmanship is showmanship! The more you show, the more you sell!...Now, what's salesmanship?" he yelled at his boys. "Showmanship!" they shouted in unison.
The little man, chalk in hand, advanced to a blackboard. He drew a circle and put the letter 'E' on top and 'D', 'C', 'R' on the bottom. "Now! These are the magic letters in the magic circle!" He got excited and went along rapidly and full of fire. "E stands for Enthusiasm; D stands for Determination, which leads to Continuity and Repetition. Now," he blared at the group, "what does E stand for?" "Enthusiasm," the meeting responded, much like a drunken Presbyterian congregation would respond to biblical readings. "Remember," our boy repeated, "to sell it takes Enthusiasm! What's it take?" Like Pavlov's dogs they answered with conditioned reflexes, showing no signs of tiring. The master of the show could seemingly pull the strings of these animated puppets as long as he pleased.
We listened to him go on for an hour about sundry things. He was an experienced high-pressure brainwasher and his audience never dared to turn away from his hard-sell method.
Could this be their usual mode of life? Did they ever have an independent thought on any subject, or ever contemplate any social or religious question? Apparently not. No great existential thought ever raced feverishly through their minds. Their brains were set and tuned only to moving the goods and getting a fat paycheck. "Sales for Johnson's mean more for us," went part of their song.
The manager introduced his best salesman, and this fair-haired lad gave a tedious product demonstration. This done, the sales manager, with his usual obnoxious enthusiasm, offered a prize for the person who could write the words for another organization song. The prize was a fancy wastebasket.
Before the meeting broke up, he gave everyone this parting thought: "As Chervants (Cervantes) said, 'It's a long road between saying and doing.'"
And so, with one last look at the euphoric idiots milling about, we staggered to the door and out into the cool night air.
Reflections on the Moral Problem
This is the title of a penetrating article by a French educator who examines the reasons for the violence, apathy and moral degeneration of millions of young people all over the world. We summarize extracts from this article which appeared in the French libertarian paper Cahiers du Socialisme Libertaire.
It has been remarked that in the most socially advanced countries of northern Europe, suicides are more numerous than in some of the more technically backward nations. These northern countries are semi-socialist under a state form. From this certain commentators have deduced that in regulating life to a smooth mechanism, where struggle and uncertainty are banished the people are bored to death; and therefore socialism (we repeat, state socialism) does not make for happiness. The citizens lack the incentives of struggles, problems, competitions, and the use of individual enterprise which stimulates them and gives them a greater interest in life.
It is not a question of echoing the social reactionaries who would correct one evil by replacing it with another. (They use this argument to justify "free enterprise" capitalism and suppression of the labor movement.) But this does not gainsay the fact that we are faced with one of the greatest sociological problems of our century, a problem that has a direct bearing on the anti-social and apathetic attitude of modern youth. That problem is the insufferable boredom which youth tries to escape by self-debasement, violence and apathy.
For a long time the dream of the sociologists has been to liberate mankind from all effort. Machinery would do everything automatically without the intervention of man. At most the workday would be four hours. The economic changes would automatically correct all the psychological and social evils. Human beings would live in paradise. They would enjoy the riches which machines would deposit at their doorsteps. One has only to recall the prophecy of Marcelin Berthelot (an admirable figure and battler for mankind) that some day we would nourish ourselves by swallowing chemical compounds, and free ourselves from the labor of growing or obtaining our food. Perhaps we had the right to hope for such "liberations" when we lacked experience. But now, those who have eyes to see and heads to think must understand that the nature of man is a little more complex than they had imagined, and that these problems are not only economic but social, psychological and physiological.
One of the profound needs of the nature of man is adventure, the exercise of will, energy and active intelligence. There is in youth a great potential power which must be given free rein, a need to do and to act. "To be is to do," wrote Bakunin, "and who does nothing is nothing." We are living in an epoch in which technical progress, organization and administration by centralized states, corporations and bureaucracies reduce more and more the sphere of man. There is little room for initiative, responsible activities and the useful exercise of personal energy, which are absolutely necessary for the physical and mental health of every human being. It seems that the anti-social deportment of youth is in direct ratio to the development of mechanized organization, which is robotizing not only things but also man and society.
The revolt of youth which causes the old instincts of combat and destruction to rise to the surface is explained above all by the elimination of responsible activities and the excessive tendency to exaggerate the "great awakening" of man by machine. We say this not because we are attached to the life of the middle ages, but because we see new problems to solve if we are to have a happy and enlightened mankind. It is the dream of the engineer that technics will solve all the problems, but this aspiration, however well meant, certainly ignores great human needs and values.
...His Eye Was on the Sparrow!
—N. Y. Times, May 4, 1959
A 55-year-old woman was robbed of her purse and stabbed under the chin yesterday while she was praying in St. Gregory's Roman Catholic Church, 144 West Ninetieth Street. Her assailant escaped.
The woman, Miss Ella Considine of 127 West Ninetieth Street, was kneeling in a pew when a man took her purse. She struggled with him and he stabbed her with a knife. Then he ran into an apartment building a cross the street and disappeared.
Miss Considine was treated at Knickerbocker Hospital and released. She said her purse contained $1. Two other persons were in the church at the time.
A Letter From Madrid
(This letter appeared in CNT, organ of the fighting National Confederation of Spain in exile, Dec. 27, 1959.)
Preparations for Eisenhower's visit to Franco Spain and the climate of terror in the capital.
Madrid, Dec. 14, 1959
The impending visit of President Eisenhower has upset the social life of the people here in Madrid. For the Francoists this is a great occasion; not so for the plain people. The main boulevard, Castellana, and all the side streets have become a beehive of feverish activity. Thousands of men are working day and night, tearing up pavements, lopping branches off the old trees, erecting new and taller electric poles, cutting through streets and parks. to give Eisenhower and Co. a better view and make a good impression on the rich Uncle Sam. Huge banners with immense pictures of Franco and Eisenhower flanked by three Spanish flags and two American flags span the wide boulevards at all intersections and between blocks. The whole vicinity of the line of march is littered with mountains of rubble, while men toil frantically to get everything ready, to put up the show for the 21st of December when Eisenhower and his entourage are due in Madrid.
All the preparations are being made to impress the illustrious visitors, but what Eisenhower will not see is the immense tragedy of the people of Madrid. These are sad days for all of us. Detachments of police, civil guards and special brigades are pouring into Madrid from all over Spain.
For the last four days, Madrid has lived in terror. Detentions, arrests and questionings are common. The military, the police and the spies have taken over the capital. All the districts of Madrid are being combed for "suspicious and subversive elements," who are rounded up and taken to the headquarters of the secret police for questioning. Many are arrested, others are told to stay at home and keep away from the main streets on pain of imprisonment.
Three times a day, police search hotels, boarding houses and furnished rooms looking for suspects. Travelers must carry papers and explain what they are doing in the capital. If there is any doubt, people are forced to dress in the dead of night and are taken to the jails. A visitor to Madrid is liable to live in jail until the visit of Eisenhower is over.
This will be a hard winter for the workers of Madrid. As in Barcelona, many factories are closing down and the ranks of the unemployed grow. It could be that the arrests and the interrogations will not end with Eisenhower's departure. The "security" police may remain to suppress the growing discontent of the poor, not only here in Madrid but also throughout Franco-fascist Spain.
WHERE WAS GOD?...
The Liberal, 1959
Christians say that God is everywhere and that he knows everything and that he rules and directs everything. He is, omnipresent, and omniscient, and omnipotent. He knows, says the Bible, how many hairs are on each person's head and knows when every sparrow falls. He knew about the Chicago school fire and saw nearly a hundred children die in the flames. More recently he saw seven children, aged from 2 years to 11 years, die in the flames of their home in a Virginia village, while their mother and father were absent, attending an Easter Sunrise Service. It surely must puzzle the minds of that sad and bereaved father and mother why God, in whose honor they had arisen early, took advantage of their absence to destroy every one of their kids. Perhaps they are asking whether, if He couldn't have spared all of them, couldn't He have left at least one? Religionists will say we are unfair in blaming God for the holocaust. Well, if we admit that he did not cause it, we can still say he did nothing to stop it. Surely he could if he is omnipotent. This is merely one of the inconsistencies of the superstitious nonsense that is called religion.
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The United States is the world's largest producer of eggs, with an output exceeding that of all Europe, according to a Twentieth Century Fund report.
WE ALWAYS KNEW OUR POLITICOS LAYED MORE THAN THEIR SHARE!
What We Stand For
The "free" world is not free; the "communist" world is not communist. Fundamentally they are identical: one becoming totalitarian, the other already so.
Their current power struggle leads inexorably to atomic war and the probable destruction of the human race.
We charge that both systems engender servitude: pseudo-freedom based on economic slavery is no better than pseudo-freedom based on political slavery.
The monopoly of power which is the State must be eliminated. Government itself, as well as its underlying institutions, perpetuates war, oppression, corruption, exploitation, and misery.
We advocate a world-wide society of communities and councils based on cooperation and free agreement from the bottom (federalism) instead of coercion and domination from the top (centralism). Regimentation of people must be replaced by regulation of things.
Freedom without socialism is chaotic, but socialism without freedom is despotic. Libertarianism is free socialism.