(Historietas Reclacionadas con las Condiciones Sociales de México)
(4. de la Serie)
Ediciones del Grupo Cultural Ricardo Flores Magón
Apartado Postal Num. 1563
“New Life” translated from Spanish by Mitchell Cowen Verter. From “Regeneration” number 212 November 13, 1915.
Ricardo Flores Magón
The Sower of Ideas’ Beautiful Seed
In the Manner of Preface: The Death of Ricardo Flores Magón
The Victory of the Social Revolution
The Sower of Ideas’ Beautiful Seed
Federal Prison. Leavenworth, Kansas, 2 May, 1922.-Miss. Irene Benton.-Granada, Minnesota.
My dear comrade:
Isn’t it a shame not to answer your letter since the 10th of last month? But I am not free, my dear friend, to write more than three letters a week. You know this, and I hope you will excuse my apparent negligence.
Your letter, so perfectly well calculated, to diffuse some warmth to my afflicted soul, was effective in its generous mission, and especially in the last part, where you say that your dear mother speaks to you about me; it touched the most delicate fibers of my heart, and it moved me to tears, because I thought about my own mother, dead after so many years. It’s been 21 years! I was in prison during that time, punished for having denounced the bloody tyranny of Porifirio Díaz, and because of this, I could not be at her bedside. I could not give her my last kiss, nor hear her last words. This happened in México City, the 14th of June, 1900, some three years before my coming to this country as a political refugee in search of freedom. My thanks to you and to your dear mother for your affection for me, as expressed in your beautiful letter. Your recounting about the realization of the work in the fields and the one in preparation, is most interesting, as you have no idea how much I love the countryside, the forest, the mountains. “The men, you say, have been busy in the fields, preparing the soil to receive the seed. What world of emotions and thoughts provoke those few words in me, as I have also been a sower, although a sower of ideas! And I have also felt what the sower of seeds has felt in the generous depths of the earth, and I trust much more in the minds of my fellow man, and we both hope...and the agony he suffers with his waiting is also my torment. The most minute indications of ill fate crushes our heart, holding our breath, waiting for the crack of the crush of the ground, showing that the seed has sprouted, and I, with my compressed heart, wait for the word, the action, the gesture that indicates the germination of the seed in a fertile mind...The only difference between a sower of seeds and the sower of ideals resides in the time and the way of working; as with the first, has all night to rest and relax the tension from his limbs, and also waits until the season is favorable for his seedtime and only plants where the ground is generous; the latter does not have nights, nor seasons, all of the grounds deserve attention and work; plant in the spring as in the summer, day and night, night and day; in all seasons, under the heavens and anything that can be the quality of the mind; outside of time... Even when the lightning thunders in the heavens, where resides the arbiter of human destinies.
The sower of ideals does not stop his work, he continues toward a future looking with the eyes of the spirit, sowing, always sowing. Threatening fists, and all around may tremble and burn with the hate that emits from those whose interests benefit, leaving without cultivation of the minds of the masses...The sower of ideals does not draw back, the sower of ideals continues to sow, always sowing...far and close, here and there, under pale heavens illuminated by a yellow sun that, projecting his gloomy silhouettes against frowning horizons, feeling a presentiment of plalafarms over the floor, agitating its sinister arms like antennas of monstrous creatures created by fever or fed by madness, while huge black iron doors sleepily yawn for flesh and soul...The sower does not draw back, the sower continues planting, and this has been his task since immemorial time, this has been his fate, yet way before our race emerged dignified and erect from the wild forest, where since the beginning in the course of time, close to other quadrupeds and with the rest of the fauna of the quadrupeds, because the sower of ideals has always had a mission of combat, but serene and majestic, with an ample movement of arms, so ample that it seems to trace in the hostile air the orbit of the sun, faithfully sowing the seed, causing humanity to advance, regardless of obstacles, toward the future that he sees with the eyes of the spirit.
Your letter is so sweet...! Oh, my dear comrade! You are so gentle, like your mother. Yes, your affection calms me, it give me much happiness; thank you a million times. The clippings are very interesting and the drawings very cute. Now, good-bye!
I gave Rivera your message; he is very grateful. Fraternally yours, Ricardo FLORES MAGON
In the Manner of Preface: The Death of Ricardo Flores Magón
Ricardo Flores Magón is dead. Generally the news of a death affects me less, but in this case it has been quite contrary. It is not because, after long years of prison and exile, this indomitable freedom fighter has died in prison. A feeling much greater than compassion or personal affection dominates me. For reasons I cannot analyze, this death appears to me as the synopsis of a period and brings about ideas and feelings I find difficult to express with words. I have the sensation that a force, that was essential, has stopped working.
It appears to me that all those who had intimate relations with Ricardo Flores Magón will feel the same as I. Something placed a special seed in him, giving him definite character, regardless of the conditions he was in: he always remained being someone, a strength that had to be recognized, a personality who could not be ignored. Even the staff from the Court of Justice and from the penitentiary, who, because of their unnatural instincts, considered him a violation of the law, I felt, were very much aware of this fact, when I discussed this matter with them.
I believe it was so, because the man was profoundly sincere, so firm in his convictions, that anyone else could have been subjected, reduced to silence, but he had to talk: so firm was his determination to be part in this great fight for the destruction of human slavery, the one, he personally, had to combat and fought until his last moment. He hated oppression, anyone, from the Government or the monopoly of the land, to the religious superstition or high finances.
As a Mexican, he knew how this had ruined the life of his own country; as an anarchist, he understood that this was the fate of the disinherited, to those who had consented to be reduced to the impotence in all the world.
In our greater part there periodically surges a just indignation, but Magón seemed to me a volcano who never slept.
If I recall, it was in San Luis Potosí, about thirty years ago, where Ricardo Flores Magón, then a young journalist, obtained prominence. Frankly said, he reached it by a leap: The Liberal Party had a convention, and, in accordance with their traditions, was directing all their accusations toward the Catholic Church; Ricardo, according to the version I knew, literally overwhelmed the convention with a speech, in which he attacked Porifirio Díaz, omnipotent dictator of México to Wall Street, who was, consequently, the real origin of all the wrongs of the country.
The special reason for the case, in reality, consisted in that, during that time, the attacks against the Church were popular and certain, while an unprecedented attack on Díaz was full of dangers. This brought to Ricardo the friendship of Librado Rivera, who from then on, participated, according to his destiny, and today lives in the prison of Leavenworth; making him, his brother Enrique, and Librado Dictator Díaz’s target of anger. The trio, however, initiated and rushed with great activity an agitation to the determined point, until after many imprisonments, they understood that they could not live in México anymore, so they emigrated to the United States. They started the fire. With daring boldness they had started the economic movement which subsequently threw Díaz to exile. The way I see things, the real man is always the motor of movement; but the road he opens always drives him to the cross.
I am completely sure that Ricardo Flores Magón previously anticipated this with caution, because in his conversation he stoically accepted it as the price that he had to pay. With some frequency he allowed himself to be greatly swayed over his affinities or his antipathies, and rarely could he find a virtue in his adversaries, but in fundamental problems he would always find it just because he never wanted to abandon the fundamental facts. Repeatedly, I considered his sentences unjust, but I frequently observed that he men he had criticized in the past, were the ones, as time passed, who changed into the politicians Magón had predicted. He was the most aggressive and positive fighter, and he acquired friends and enemies by the hundreds.
I got interested in Magón, reading the “México Bárbaro,” by John Kenneth Turner; but it was his passionate hate toward a social system that seems to think only about the dollar, which I openly was attracted to. For many years, my most firm conviction has been that the cult for the golden calf, in the greatest wall the ascendant progress has, and that humanity is obligated to carry out, in regards to the intellectual conquests of recent centuries. I have found many men and women who share this concept with me; however, none so saturated as the one from Magón. I believe Ricardo was fully persuaded that the worst fate for México would be to fall under the yoke of Wall Street. The real fact he saw, was that all humanity was strapped to the wheels of the Powerful Money’s Carriage, brutally triumphant and needing to liberate herself, or die. I, myself, believe this fact. My study of the Mexican Revolution and my contemplation of the way plutocracy from there had taken from México all that had values, changed ideas that before were theories, into unbending convictions. Ricardo Flores Mágon was one of the most powerful writers who the Revolution produced. Except for the time he allowed deplorable polemics, he did not waste his time in pettiness; he always touched the main cords with extraordinary firmness. In all the course of his work he would stress the most powerful emotions to the heroic: he asked much of men. I doubt he had knowledge of the writings of Nietzsche; however, he appeared to be another Nietzsche, except for the fact that he was democratic. Nevertheless, in such characters there is always a parallel force: both insist on the best; in the realization of his respective ideal with all forthrightness, and for this realization, no sacrifice was too big.
I have no desire to write a biography or a praise, and I limit myself to some personal reminiscences which give profound recognition about the man. I remember that, having been forewarned that was tentatively persecuted, he refused to hide in a secure place, “because the movement would disorganize.” When, and after many months we had him out prison, under protection, he went directly to the office of “Regeneración” and he had worked for one hour, one more time, with the enormous correspondence to which he dedicated eight hours a day; I never found as active a propagandist, except for his brother Enrique. He lived modestly, and to my knowledge, he had no vices. In fact, he had no time for them.
On my first visit to the offices of “Regeneración,” I observed a big parcel box, and then learned that it only contained flyers of “The Conquest of Pan,” by Kropotkin, to be mailed to México. For years, these men continued to follow this work, sapping with infinite tenacity and great sacrifice because of their limited resources. Their great idea was the development of revolutionary personalities. They had great admiration for Kropotkin, which in my opinion, was just.
When I substituted John Kenneth Turner as editor of the English section of “Regeneración,” its circulation was about 27,000 copies and the newspaper had to make money; but all was spent on advertising. We had between 600 and 700 newspapers in our exchange lists, and we received a lot of news from the “Latino World.” Our wish was to unify the Latin opinion in México, and Central and South America, against the plutocratic invasion, and the creation in the United States a very strong sentiment maintaining the perpetuated threat of intervention.
I believe that Ricardo considered the latter as the main work of “Regeneración” and that, for this reason, he opposed the move of the newspaper to México, which I urgently requested a while back.
In the book “The Real México,” Mr. Hamilton Fife, today editor of the “Daily Herald,” but prior a distinguished traveling correspondent, treats the unexpected fall of Porifirio Díaz, renown in the United States as a great power of the first order, with a strong regard for his rear guard. Mr. Fife observes that Díaz forgot one important factor: a gentleman by the name of Ricardo Flores Magón. I have always seen this observation as correct, and I have considered Magón’s men as those who really moved the power that definitively threw Díaz to exile. I considered it a great win, and a true success — one that epochs are made of. Díaz was the man who, as William Archer said, had sold his country for bagatelle, with the abandon of a child making soap bubbles. His overthrow was the first failure that the plutocracy from the North found in its march toward the South.
When Madero succeeded Díaz as President, he named Magón’s brother, Jesús, Secretary of State; and it was then, known news, when Jesús made several efforts to induce Ricardo and Enrique to return to México, assuring them complete security and fast improvement in position. They were poor, having been subjected to repeated persecutions and imprisonments, as inconvenient agitators of plutocratic peace; and in spite of that, they decidedly refused their brother’s offers.
It always seemed known to me. It could have been difficult, perhaps impossible, for us to understand the maneuvers of the Mexican way of thinking and the methods of the men, with their Indian blood; however, what is deeply inherited and cannot be denied is that these men — Ricardo and Enrique Flores Magón, and Librado Rivera, who are still in the prison at Leavenworth — were fanatically loyal to their anarchist convictions.
Well, Ricardo Flores Magón has died, and surely, after a life of feverish activity, he sleeps tranquilly; neither praise nor criticism can affect him now. He died in the penitentiary at Leavenworth, where he had five years of the fiery sentence of the twenty he was given for writing articles that damaged the recruitment. He had been suffering for some years from diabetes, and during his last days, he completely lost his sight. He could have bought his freedom by confessing his regret; but this confession was impossible for a man of his nature. In the past months the organized workers from México had been agitating for Ricardo’s liberty, and, upon learning of his death, the Capital’s Parliament ordered the tribune to mourn.
The Governor requested to bring back his mortal remains, to give a dignified burial to the one who, when alive, was an incessant fighter for the cause of the emancipation of the masses of México, who, in addition to the whole world, still needed to win; but his comrades had respected his principles and had declined the funeral offered to be paid for by the Governor.
We hope that, inspired by the example of this indomitable fighter, the people of the United States can straighten up and demand freedom for the many political prisoners, martyrs because of their freedom of conscience, who now rest in the galleys of that country. Such a deed would be the most appropriate monument to the life and to the memory of Ricardo Flores Magón.
William C. OWEN.
(From “Freedom,” London, December 1922.)
Crossing fields, crossing highways, stepping over the thorns, walking between the rocky highlands, consumed by the ravenously thirsty dryness in his mouth — that is how the Revolutionary Delegate goes on his intended undertaking of persuading — under the avenging sun, it seemed, daringly hurling him with its fierce flames; but the Delegate does not stop; he does not want to waste a minute. From some shacks come out rotten mean dogs, to chase him, as hostile as the miserable dwellers of those shacks, laughing stupidly, ignoring the apostal, who brings them the good news.
The Delegate moves forward; he wants to get to that group of nice little houses close to the bottom of the high mountain, where he has been told there are some comrades. The heat of the sun is unbearable; hunger and thirst debilitate him as much as the tiring walk; but his lucid mind has the fresh idea as clear as the water from the mountain, beautiful as a flower, where there is no place for the threat of the tyrant. So is the idea: immune to oppression.
The Delegate walks, walks. The deserted fields oppress his heart. How many families could live in abundance if all this land would not be controlled by a few ambitious people! The Delegate follows his way; a snake rattles under the dusty bush; the crickets fill the noisy rumor of the hot ambient; a cow moos from afar.
Finally, the Delegate arrives at the village, where — he has been told — there are comrades. The dogs, alarmed, bark. From the doors of the small houses, indifferent faces lean out. There is a group of men and women under a porch. The apostal approaches; the men see him and contract their eyebrows; the women see him with distrust.
“Good afternoon, comrades,” says the Delegate.
The group looks at each other. Nobody answers the greeting. The apostal does not give up, and again says:
“Comrades, the propagandist continues, the tyranny is swaying; strong men have taken arms to demolish it, and only we hope that all of us, without exception, help in any manner we can those who fight for freedom and justice.”
The women yawn; the men scratch their heads; a hen crosses between the group, followed by a rooster.
“Friends” — continues the indefatigable propagandist of the good news — “liberty requires sacrifices; your life is hard; you have no satisfaction; the future of your children is uncertain. Why are you indifferent before the abnegation of the ones who have thrown themselves into the struggle on behalf of your happiness, to free you, so your little children would be happier than you? Help, help however you can, give part of your salaries to promote the Revolution, or bear to arms if you so prefer; but do something for the cause, at least propagate the ideals of the insurrection.”
The Delegate pauses. An eagle passes, swaying in the clear sky, as if it could have been a symbol of the thought of that man who, being among human swine, would keep himself very high, very pure, very white.
Bugs, buzzing, in and out of the mouth of a sleeping old man. Men, visibly worried, were coming, one by one; the women had all left. Finally, the Delegate is left alone with the old man who is sleeping away his drunkenness and a dog that furiously bites the flies that suck his coat. Not even a penny had come out from those sordid pockets, not even glass of water had been offered to that answering man, who, casting a compassionate look to that egoistic and stupid den, started to walk toward another shack. When he passed in front of a tavern, he could see those miserable men he had spoken to, drinking huge glasses of wine, giving the bourgeoisie what they did not give to the Revolution, clinching the chains of their children, with their indifference and selfishness.
The news of the coming of the apostal had extended around the whole town, and, the alerted dwellers closed their doors when the Delegate would approach.
Meanwhile, a man, who appeared to be a worker, came heaving towards the police office.
“Sir,” said the man to the police officer, “how much do you pay for handing over a revolutionary?”
“Twenty reales,” said the officer.
The dealing was done; Judas had lowered the tariff. Moments later, the man, tied elbow to elbow, was pushed to jail. He fell, and by kicking him out, was lifted by the executioner, amongst the laughing, drunken slaves. Some kids were enjoying throwing handfuls of dirt into the eyes of the martyr, who was no other than the apostal, the one that had crossed fields, traveled highways, over hawthorn, pebbly land, dried, thirsty mouth devouring him, but with a lucid, clear mind, carrying with him the idea of regeneration for the human race, by way of comfort and freedom.
(From “Regeneración,” number 19, dated January 7, 1911.)
Juan and Pedro came to age at the precise age to start working to survive. They were sons of workers, who died not having the opportunity to acquire formal education to free them from the chains of salary. But Juan was spirited. He had read in newspapers how some men, born from humble beginnings, had come to be, with work and thrift, become financial kings, and dominate, with the power of money, not only in the market place, but in the world. He had read thousands of anecdotes of the Vanderbilts, the Rockefellers, the Rothchilds, the Carnegies, and all of those whom, according to La Prensa, and some school reading books, with the stupidities of our contemporary childhood, are abreast of world finances, not because of anything else,-oh, despicable lies-but the dedication to work and the devotion to save.
Juan tenaciously threw himself into his work. He worked a year, and found himself as poor as the first day. At the turn of the following year, he found himself in the same circumstances. He kept on working more, without dismay, without rest. Five years went by, and he found that, at the cost of sacrifices, he had saved some money-not too much. To save those coins, he had to minimize the expense of his nourishment, lowering his strength, dressed in rags, with the torment of hear and cold weather, his system wore out too; he lived in miserable shacks, and the unsanitary environment contributed to his weakness. But Juan kept on saving, saving money at the cost of his health. For every penny he was able to save, he lost strength. So in order to not pay rent, he bought a lot, and built a small home. Later, he married a young girl. The court and the priest took away a big chunk of his savings, saved with so much sacrifice. Some years passed, but work was not steady, debts started to stress poor Juan. One day one of his children got sick, the doctor did not want to assist him since he had no money, and in the public dispensary, he was given such poor attention that the poor child died. Juan, however, did not give up. He would remember the writings he had read about the famous virtues of being thrifty and other foolishnesses of the kind. He had to be rich because he worked so hard, and saved. Didn’t Rockefeller, himself, Carnegie and others, before millions, drool unconscientiously? Meanwhile, basic necessities were costing more, making him worried. Groceries were costing more, and extremely limited the home of the innocent Juan, and, much to his concern, bills were increasing, and he could not save a penny. To add pain to injury, the owner, that morning, fired him from work. Occupying their places were new slaves, who, like the ones before, would dream with accumulated wealth, by hard work and savings. Juan had to pawn his home, with the hope to keep his dreams, but he was going down, sinking without help. He could not pay his debt, and had to leave it at the hands of the sharks, all the product of his sacrifice, that small lot saved for with his blood. Obstinate, Juan wanted to save more, but it was in vain. This deprivation to which he subjected himself, so he could save, the hard work he labored the best years of his life, had destroyed his vigor. Everywhere he asked for work, he was rejected, and there was no work for him. He was a machine to produce money for his employer, but very worn out. Old machines are seen with disdain. And, meanwhile, Juan’s family suffered hunger. In the dark shack, there was no heat, no covers to protect them from the cold; the children plead for bread with fury. Juan would go out everyday to look for work, but who wanted to hire tired old arms? And after walking all the city and the fields, he returned home, where they were waiting, sad and hungry, those loved ones, his wife, children, those loved ones who once dreamt about the wealth of the Rockefellers, the fortune of the Carnegies.
One afternoon, Juan stopped to contemplate the automobiles passing by, driven by fatty drivers, imagining the satisfaction of having a life without worries. Women chatting happily, and men, flattering syrupy and insignificantly, attending to them with mellifluous phrases that could make other women yawn with boredom if they had not been those bourgeoisie.
It was cold; Juan shivered, thinking about his family, what they could expect inside that dark shack, that mansion of misfortune. How could they shiver in that cold weather, that very moment; suffering the indescribably torture from famine; how bitter the tears shed those very moments! The elegant parade continued. It was the perfect moment for the rich to show off, just from whom Juan had learned “to work and save,” like the Rothchilds, like the Carnegies, like the Rockefellers. A great gentleman was coming in a luxurious car. His presence was magnificent. Gray hair, but his face looked young. Juan cleaned his eyes, rubbing them, worried to be a victim of an illusion. No, no, his old and tired eyes did not fool him; that great man was Pedro, his childhood comrade. “How much had he worked and saved,” thought Juan, “so he could get out of his misery, and reach such a level, and gain so much distinction.”
Oh, poor Juan! He has not been able to forget the imbecilic stories about the vampire of humanity; he could not forget what he had read in school books, in what conscientiously stupefies the population.
Pedro had not worked. A man without scruples. And with great malice, he had become aware that honesty is not a fountain of wealth, so he started cheating his fellow man. As soon as he pooled some savings, he installed a shop and hired cheap labor; so he went up, up. He widened his shop, and hired more help, more and more, and he became a millionaire and a great man, thanks to the many “Juans” who carefully took the advise from the bourgeoisie.
Juan continued watching the parade of the lazy and the indolent. At the next corner a man was preaching to the townsmen. There were a few people, really, but this orator, who was he? What did he say? Juan went to listen:
“Comrades,” exclaimed the man, “the time has come to reflect. Capitalists are thieves. Only by bad tricks can one become a millionaire. The poor drop down, working, and when we cannot work anymore, we are fired by the bourgeoisie, as leaving a tired and old horse from service. Let’s bare arms to conquer our welfare and for our families!”
Juan saw the man with disdain, spit on the floor with anger, and walked to the obscure shack, where his loved ones waited sad, hungry, and cold. He could not let his idea die, that saving and work make the man virtuous. Not even the undeserving, who deserved misfortune from his fellow man, could make the miserable soul educated to be a slave, nor could he recognize his mistake.
(From “Regeneración,” number 21, dated January 21st, 1911.)
Bah, a Drunk!
That beautiful morning was probably the saddest for this poor man suffering from tuberculosis. The sun was brilliantly shining, giving enrichment with golden splendor, to the beautiful city of Los Angeles.
A few weeks ago, Santiago had been fired from his job. He was terminally ill from TB, and the “nice” bourgeoisie, who exploited him for years, had the nerve to throw him to the street, as soon as he realized that the weak arms of his slave could not give him the previous profits.
When Santiago was young, he worked zealously. He used to dream: to earn a “good” salary and to be able to save some money, to be able to make it easier the last days of his life.
Santiago saved. He “tightened” his belt and accumulated some coins; however, each coin he saved meant privation, in such a way that if the savings were increasing, the arteries of his body had less blood.
“I will not save anymore,” Santiago said courageously one day, when he realized his health was declining. In fact, he did not save anymore, and, so in fact, he could prolong his agony. The salary increased, this was no doubt-it increased. Some labor strikes, produced by his own union members, had produced these increased wages, but of course, if wages were better than before, basic merchandise prices had top cost, so that the advantage gained by the suffering from the strikes was deceptive, resulting in hunger and coldness at home, lines of policemen, even jail and death from the encounter with the strike suppressers.
Years went by, salaries went on the rise and so did the cost of bare necessities, at the same time Santiago’s family would augment. Work hours had been reduced to eight, thanks to the strikes; however, and again “the buts”-the tasks to carry out had to be done in the same eight hours-the same that before were performed in ten or twelve hours, so he had to use all of his skill, strength, all of his life experience acquired as a worker, to be able to deliver. The cold “lunch,” gulped down in a few minutes at noon, the nervous tension to which he submitted his body, so as not to loosen the machine’s movement; the dirt, lack of ventilation of the shop, the unbearable noise of the machines, the poor nutrition he could possibly get, because of lack of provisions; the poor room where he slept with is numerous family, without fire, without comfortable clothes, the lack of tranquillity overwhelming his spirit, as he thought about the future of his family; everything, all, was in conspiracy against his own health. He thought of saving again, with the hope to leave something to his family when he died. But, what could he save? He limited the household expenses to the extreme limit, as he saw dreadfully that the pink cheeks of his little children had disappeared, and so was he, himself, feeling famished.
Santiago realized his dilemma, that if one is not made of iron, nobody knows what to do: save at the cost of the health of your loved ones, so one could leave them a few coins at the time of one’s death, maybe money to be spent in medications to combat the anemia of his offspring, or not save so he could feed his family better and be without anything, penniless when he would go. Then he would think of the helplessness of his family, maybe prostitution of his little daughters, the “crime” his loved sons would commit, to get a piece of bread, and the sadness of his noble spouse.
Meanwhile tuberculosis had advanced in his beaten body. His friends fled from him, afraid of contamination form the sickness. The bourgeoisie would retain him at the shop as he could still work, and as could labor, he could get good sums of money from the unfortunate slave.
The time arrived, nevertheless, the moment when Santiago was not useful, neither for God nor for the Devil, and that bourgeois who used to pat his back when he was tired, after leaving the shop in the afternoon, after making his boss richer, and his health poorer, fired him, as it was not profitable to leave him at the shop; he was not producing anymore.
With tears in his eyes, Santiago arrived at home one afternoon, when nature and all things smiled. Children played in the street; birds pecked here and there the asphalt; dogs with intelligent and smart eyes, watching people walk around, unable to guess the sorrow or happiness of the human hearth. Horses swept with their tails, from the persistent flies bothering their polished legs; the newspaper boys would amuse the scenery with their yelling and their roguishness; the sun was setting in a purple bed. So much beauty everywhere! So much sadness in Santiago’s home!
Between accession of cough, deep sighs and moving sobs, Santiago told his loyal wife the sad news: “Tomorrow we will not have bread...”
Oh, kingdom of social inequality, you take so long to arrive!
Everything that could be pawned went to the pawnshop; this is what you call these caves of thieves protected by...the law! To the pawnshop one went, and all the few small jewelry they have had, going from parent to children of the poor race; to the pawnshop went those shawls his mother-in-law displayed when young, and which were treasured as dear relics; to the pawnshop went that beautiful painting, the only luxury from the room that was, at the same time, kitchen, dining room, living room, and...bedroom; to the pawnshop went the humble clothes they owned.
The illness in the meantime, not losing time: much advanced, worked without tire, eating up Santiago’s lungs. Black masses would be expelled from the patient’s mouth on each access of his cough. The malnutrition, sadness, and lack of medical attention, dragged the patient to his tomb, as so it is said. There was no other choice but to get into that prison, in that hateful, mediocre welfare, into which the bourgeoisie condemn humans who have produced so many beautiful things, and so much richness, so many good deeds, for such a pittance that can be obtained with such a damned salary.
To the hospital he went with his skin and his bones, the unfortunate Santiago; meanwhile his noble companion went from one factory to another and workshop to workshop imploring to any scrooge to exploit her arms. Until when, disinherited brothers, would you decide to overthrow the iniquity of the actual capitalistic system?
At the hospital, he lasted a few days...was helplessly declared by the doctors, his illness was terminal, and he was confined to the incurable ward. No medicines, poor nutrition, no medical care; this is what charity did for our sick patient, while the bourgeoisie, who exploited him all his life, would carelessly squander, in going out on sprees, from the coins earned at the sake of that poor man’s health.
Santiago requested to be released from the hospital. There was no reason to be a prisoner, and during that beautiful morning, that perhaps was the saddest of this poor afflicted man’s life, a policeman dragged him, “as a vagrant,” through a public park, going like this, from one prison to another.
The lovely Californian sun was shining intensely. The beautiful avenues flourished with well-dressed people and happy faces; puppies happier than millions of human beings resting in the arms of pretty and elegant bourgeoisie women, shopping while Santiago, in the police car, would hear once in a while this exclamation: “Bah, a drunk!”
(From “Regeneración,” number 35, dated April 29th, 1911.)
The night before all peons had reunited. That was not possible to bear; the bosses had never been more insolent, neither so demanding. It was necessary for that treatment to end. The man who had been talking with them a week before, was right: the owners were the first bandits that, with the excuse to civilize them they had reached the point of war, taking their land from the Indians, their ancestors, to make them peons. What a life they had dragged for centuries! They had to accept corn and beans full of bugs, to eat — they, the ones who harvested fresh and abundant crops! Did a head of cattle die in the field? That was the only time they would taste meat, spoiled by then; the same for which the boss would make them pay higher than market prices. Were these pretty women among them slaves? The boss and his sons had the right to rape them. If a slave complained? He would go straight to the army to defend the same system which tyrannize him!
Just eight days before, a man had been with them, and nobody knew from where he had come; neither was it later known, where or when he had left. He was young; his hands, hard and strong, did not leave a doubt that he was a worker; but because of that strange fire in his eyes, one could tell something was burning inside that brow, sunburned from the outdoor and market with a frown giving him an air of an intelligent and reflective man. This man had spoken to them in this manner: “Brothers of misery, hold your heads high. We are equal human beings to the rest of humans habitating this earth. Our origin is humble, and the land, this old land, which we have irrigated with our sweat, is our mother, and because of this, we have the right to be nourished from her, to give us wood for her forests, and water from her resources, without distinction, but with only one condition: that we fertilize her by loving her. The ones who claim to be owners of the earth are the real descendants of those bandits who, with blood and fire, stole from our ancestors, four centuries ago, when these incendiary actions occurred, killings galore, and savage rapers of minors, which History describes with the name ‘Conquest of Mexico.’ This land is ours, comrades; let us take her for us, and for all of our descendants!”
Since that day, nothing else was talked about among all the peons except to claim the land, to take it from the bosses by any way or form. The issue here was to take possession of the land, harvest the crops for themselves, discard the old owners and continue with the work from the hacienda, once and for all free from the leaches. From then on, all would be for the workers.
Since then, the masters started noticing that the peons did not take off their hats in their presence, and that there was some kind of dignified assurance in their look; they felt a catastrophe. When the humble raise their heads high, the arrogant will knock him down. The spirit of rebelliousness, for so many years asleep within the robust chests of the slaves, had been awakened by the sincere words of the propagator. There was conspiracy in the shacks. Together, around the fire, words from the young agitator were discussed in a low voice. “If the earth is our own mother,” they said, “it must be ours.” “But how can we own it?” the hesitant would ask. “We will ask the Government,” the ones who appeared more sensible advised; but the younger ones, and women above all, protested against those coward revolutions and voted for using violence. “Remember,” the more excitable ones exclaimed, “how many times have we asked for justice or have protested against some infamy from our master. The Government has taken the best of our brothers to incarcerate them in the barracks and jails.” And then, trying to recall each one of those men and women exposing examples of such nature, giving credibility to the hotheads. They would recall Juan, who was pulled out of his shack, late at night, and was executed when he had only walked about half a league form the little houses, only because he did not allow his master to abuse his wife. Spirits were becoming excited, remembering so many past infamies and talking about the present ones. A man said, “I lost my leg and arm fighting under the orders of Madero, and here I am, burdened with a large family, and not knowing if tomorrow I will have a piece of tortilla for my little children to eat.” Another said, “Today the master ordered me to kill five hens I have in my chicken coop, and if I don’t do it, he will take them anyway to the corral of his hacienda.” Another one exposed, “Yesterday my daughter notified me that the young gentleman has threatened her to make his father send me to prison if she does not give him her body.”
Similar conversations were had inside the other shacks. Hard work was mentioned and the miserable wages, and shivering, they would get close to the fire. However, they agreed to have a general meeting. It took place at night, in a nearby ravine. The cold was intense; but that human mass did not feel it; the desire for freedom was burning within their chests. The “sensible” wanted to send a commission to the Government, asking for land for all; but then the yelling would raise in loud screams: “No, we do not want to deal with our executioners. Death to the Government, and death to the rich!” The women, carrying their children, would talk about hunger and nakedness, suffering, caused by the cowardice of the men. “No more hunger!” they would scream. “Let’s take the hacienda!” yelling again. The owner appeared threatening; the rags floated in the wind as black flags of vengeance. The cliffs multiplied the intensity of that tremendous yelling. “To the home of the hacienda!” screamed some women, and started a rapid race towards the houses, from where the wind would bring the barking of the nervous dogs, as if guessing the grandiose act of social justice to end a few minutes later.
Men followed the women, who reached the houses, taking hoes, shovels, anything they found; and kept on going in the shadows, racing toward the house in the hacienda...
A close shooting received the attackers, but a few arrows “Regeneración,” well directed, took the fort of the bourgeoisie in a few minutes, dying in those ruins, the descendants of the bandits who, with blood and fire, raping virginities, had stolen the land from the Indians four centuries ago...
When the flames of the fire ended, a clarity like rose petals, diluted in milk, started to appear in the East: the sun shone more brilliantly, more beautiful, happy to shine the foreheads of the free men, after many centuries of only shining the muddy backs of the human herd.
It was wonderful to see so many people. Some were dedicated to count cattle heads, others counting the number of people in the community; others were ransacking stores and grain lofts (barns), and when the sun would set in the afternoon with the fiery clouds; when the birds would find refuge on tops of trees, all knew with what resources the community had, and now they were in agreement to start work on their own, and free, forever, of their masters.
(From “Regeneración,” number 68, dated December 16, 1911.)
At the edge of the road, I find a man with weeping eyes and tossed black hair, staring at the thistle at his feet. “Why are you crying?” I ask, and he answers, “I cry because I did everything I could for my comrades. I sowed my parcel of land with hard work, as any man who respects himself must do; but those for whom I did so much good made me suffer, and in regard to my land, lacking water, that was snatched by the rich, only to produce those dry thistles you can see at my feet.”
Bad harvest, I say, the one that the good ones harvest, as I continue my march.
A little farther I stumble with an old man falling and getting up, hunchback, sadly vague look. “Why are you so sad,” I asked, and he responds, “I am sad because I have been working since I was seven years old. I was a dedicated person until the morning my boss said ‘You are too old, Juan; there is no work for you to perform,’ and he slammed the door on my face.”
What a harvest of years and more years of honest labor! He told me and I keep on walking.
A very young man yet, but missing a leg, comes to my counter, hat in hand, asking “a bit of charity for the love of God,” expressing somewhat similarly to a man. “Why are you moaning?” I ask, as he answers, “Maduo promised we were going to be free and happy, with the condition to help him get the presidency of the Republic. All my brothers and my own father died in the war; I lost my leg and my health, leaving our families in poverty.”
This is the reaping we the ones get, who work to raise tyrants, and support the capitalist system, I say to myself, and keep on walking. A few steps further, I encounter a group of tired men, sad steadfast looks, their arms dropped, reading dismay in their faces, and anguish, yet anger. “What makes you so angry?” I question. “We came out of the factory,” they say, and after working ten hours, we only make enough for a miserable bean dinner.”
These are not the ones who reap, I say, but their bosses do, so I continue with my travel.
It is nighttime already. Crickets sing their love songs in the crevices of the ground. My ear, attentive, perceives sounds of fiesta somewhere. I direct myself toward the place from where those gay sounds come, and I see myself in front of a sumptuous palace. “Who lives here?” I ask a lackey. “He is the lord-owner of these lands you see around here and owner also of the water which irrigates these lands.”
I understand I am in front of the residence of the thief who made the fields become dry with thistle, and showing a fist to the beautiful structure of the palace, I think, “Your next harvest, scoundrel bourgeois — you will have to reap it with your own hands, so you know, your slaves are waking up...”
And I keep my march, thinking, thinking, dreaming, dreaming. I think on the heroic resolution of those disinherited, who have the courage to put in their hands the recovery of their lands that, according to the law, belong to the rich, and, according to justice and reason, belong to all human beings. I dream about the happiness of the humble homes after the expropriation; men and women feeling really human; children playing, laughing, happy, with their stomachs full with healthy and plenty of food.
The rebels will give us the best of the harvests: Bread, Land, Freedom for all.
(From “Regeneración,” number 69, dated December 23, 1911.
“I do not kill myself so others can live,” Pedro, the miner, said with a clear voice, when Juan, his co-worker, extended a newspaper in front of him called “Regeneración,” full of details about the revolutionary movement of the Mexican proletarianism. “I have a family,” he continued. “I would be an animal if I showed my belly to the bullets of the federals.”
Juan received without surprise Pedro’s observation: that is the way the others talk. Some would even try to hit him when he would say there were places where the peons had not recognized their masters and had taken ownership of the haciendas. Some days passed; Juan, after buying a good carbine with abundant bullets, went to the interior of the sierra, where he knew there were rebels. He didn’t care to know what kind of flag they belonged to, or what ideals the revolutionists defended. If they were their own, that is, the ones with the red flag, they forced themselves to establish a new society, in which everyone would be his own owner, and never the hangman of the others, very good: he will unite with them, he will add with his own self to the number of fighters, as the number of brains to the magnificent work of redemption, as many guns as of capable brains to guide other brains, and fiery hearts, capable of inciting with the same fire of other hearts. However, if they were not from the same group, the ones who would move around the near area, it did not matter; anyway, he will unite, as if considered the duty of a liberator to mix among his brothers, unconscious, by way of clever conversations, about the rights of the proletariat.
One day the miners’ wives were crowding at the door of the mine. a landslide gave away one of the mines’ galleries, leaving more than fifty workers inside without communication. Pedro was among them, and, like all the others, without hope of escaping death. Surrounded by utter darkness, the poor peon thought about his family; for him a horrible agony was waiting, without water and food; however, finally, after a few days he will be resting; but, how about his family? What will happen to his wife and his children, so very young? Then he had thoughts of anger, thinking about how sterile his sacrifice would be, and understanding, however late, that Juan, the anarchist, was right, when, showing him the newspaper “Regeneración,” he would talk to him enthusiastically about the social revolutions of the necessary struggle of classes, indispensable, so men would stop being the slaves of masters, so everybody would eat a piece of bread, crime would stop, prostitution, and poverty, alike. The poor miner would remember, then, that cruel phrase thrown, like a spit to the face to his friend: “I do not kill myself so others live.”
While the miner was thinking, buried alive from working so hard, so the burguese owner of the business, the women, crying, twisted their arms pleading with screams, asking them to bring out and retrun their husbands, their brothers, their sons and their fathers.
Crews of volunteers will plead the manager of the business, asking to let them do something to rescue those unfortunate human beings who were waiting inside that mine for a slow death, horrible because of the hunger and thirst. The rescue finally started; but how slowly they worked! Besides, were they sure these miners were alive? Didn’t they remember that the burgess did not give enough boards for lining the mine, so they could get better profits, and that precisely this one, where this catastrophe occurred, was the worst lined? Anyhow, good willing men were working, taking turns day and night. The families of the victims, in poverty, did not receive from the burgesses — owners of the mine, not even a fist full of corn so they could make some tortillas or some pudding, despite that their husbands, sons, brothers, and fathers had earned their salary from several weeks already worked.
Forty eight hours had passed since the catastrophe occurred. The sun, outside, was shining over the desolation of the miners’ families, while, in the depths of the earth, in the darkness, the last act of this terrible tragedy arrives.
Crazed with thirst, possessed with savage desperation, the miners with the weakest minds furiously hit with their picks the hard rock, for a few minutes, later some would fall down exhausted, some not getting up again. Pedro thought, “How happy would Juan be in these moments, free as a man would be, with a gun in his hands, satisfied as a man with a great idea, and fighting for it, and so it is. He, Juan, would be fighting against the soldiers from the Authority, the Capital and Clergy, precisely against the cruel men that, because they did not want to diminish their gains, they were the ones to be blamed for him being buried alive. Then he felt a fit of fury against the Capitalists, who suck the blood of the poor; then he would remember the conversations he had with Juan, so boring all the time, but now he was giving them the justice they deserved. He remembered one day, Juan rolling a cigarette, mentioned about the astonishing number of victims that industry fires every year from all countries, forcing in demonstration how many human beings die in car disrailment, drowning, fire, or fallouts in the mines, the number of labor accidents, much more than in the most bloody revolution, without counting the millions and millions dying of anemia, excess work, malnutrition, sick persons contained because of bad hygiene conditions, poor home conditions of the poor, factories, shops, foundries, mines and other exploitative establishments. And so he remembered also, Pedro, with what disdain he had heard Juan, at that time, and with what brutality he had refused him when the propagandist had advised him to send his donation, any amount he could send, to the Revolutionary Chapter, who worked for the economic, political, and social freedom of the entire working class. He remembered him saying to Juan, “I am not such a sucker to give my money; I would rather get drunk with it.” And something close to regret was torturing hi heart; and at the anguish of the moment, with the clarity which comes in critical moments, he thought it would have been better to die defending his class, than to suffer that dark death, hateful, to allow the better life of the cruel burgess. He imagines Juan face down, refusing the weight and disgrace of tyranny; he imagines him happy and delirious with enthusiasm, carrying on his fists the blessed emblem of the oppressed, the red flag, oh, good and magnificent, beautiful, with your floating hair in the air in the middle of combat, throwing dynamite bombs into the enemy trenches, as I could see him at front with some brave ones getting to or arriving at an hacienda, telling the peons: “Take everything and work for yourselves, as human beings and not as beasts of burden.” And the poor Pedro wished to have Juan’s life, knowing comprehending was fruitful, but it was too late now. Even with the rest of his life, he was death to the world.
Fifteen days have passed since the mine catastrophe. Discouraged were the rescuers abandoning the recovery of mines. The families of the dead miners had to leave from the village as they could not pay rent of their homes. Some of the daughters and widows would sell kisses at the taverns to get a piece of bread...Pedro’s oldest son was in jail because he took some lumber from the factory to mend his shack. His mother, sick as a result of the moral shock suffered. All the relatives had gone to the office to ask for the last salaries of their loved ones; they did not receive one cent. The Great Captain recounted debts and the result was that the dead ones became debtors and because the poor families did not have money to pay the rents of their homes, a very beautiful day, since nature is indifferent to human suffering, when the sun burned with its rays on a nearby pond and the birds, free from their owners, worked trying to catch insects for them and their babies, “a beautiful day, a representative of the Authority, dressed in black, as a vulture and accompanied by some armed policemen, went from house to house, putting in the name of the Law, to the advantage of the Capital, throwing all those poor people to the street.”
This is the way the Capital pays the ones who sacrifice to him.
(From “Regeneración,” number 72, dated 13 January, 1912.)
What is Authority Good For?
Bent down over the plough, spilling his sweat over the furrow he is ploughing, the peon works at the same time he tunes one of those sad songs from his village, in which he seems to sink, condemning himself with all the bitterness social injustice has accumulated from centuries and centuries ago, in the hearts of the poor. The peon works and sings, at the same time, he thinks about his loved ones waiting to eat together, the poorest supper. His heart fills with tenderness thinking about his little children and his partner, and lifting his eyes to the disposition of the sun, at that moment, as to guess the time it could be, perceives at far, a light cloud of dust, becoming bigger and bigger little by little as it gets closer to the place he is standing. They are calvary soldiers getting close and at the same time asking him, “Are you Juan?” and he answers affirmatively. They say, “Come with us; the Government needs you.” And there he goes with them, tied with ropes, as if he was a criminal, walking away from town, where the quarter waits for him, while his family stays in their shack, doomed to famish or steal and prostitute, so they won’t die.
Could Juan say that the Authority is good to the poor?
It is the third day Pedro runs over all the town, anxiously all over the streets, looking for a job. He is a good worker; his muscles are made of iron; his square face, son of his town, reflects honesty. It is useless for him to run all over the place begging the burguese masters “to bother” themselves exploiting his strong arms. Everywhere all doors close in his face; but Pedro is persistent, does not dismay, and, sweating, with his fine teeth from the hunger destroying his stomach, offers and offers his iron fists, with the hope of finding a master who will “do him the favor” of exploiting them. And as he crosses the town the twentieth time, he thinks about his loved ones, who, lie him, suffer hunger and wait for him anxiously in the poor shack, from which they soon will be evicted by the landlord who cannot wait any longer for the rent. He thinks about them...and struggling and heart broken, with tears running down, walks faster, pretending he will find masters, masters, masters...but a stupid policeman sees him, “checking for public order,” and picking him by the neck, drags him to the closest police station, where he accuses him of vagrancy. While he suffers in jail, his family will suffer hunger and cold, or they will prostitute or steal so as not to die of hunger. Could Pedro say the Authority is good of fair to the poor?
Santiago, happy, says good bye to his co-workers. He is going to ask the owner of the hacienda the part; as a sharecropper, he is entitled from the abundant crop harvested. The landowner takes out his book, notes, debts, and after adding, subtracting, multiplying, dividing, etc., tells his sharecropper, “I do not owe you anything; much on the contrary, you owe me for groceries, clothing, wood, etc., etc.” The sharecropper protests and goes to the judge, asking for justice. The judge checks the books, notes, debts, and after adding, subtracting, multiplying, and dividing condemns the sharecropper to pay his debt to the landowner plus the expense of the court. The wife runs very happy to meet Santiago with the youngest child in her arms, thinking that he will bring lots of money, considering the crop has been abundant; but her face fades when she sees the tears of her hard worker, with sun-burned cheeks, running down his face, with empty hands and a broken heart. The landowner had done his earnings as a Great Captain and the judge, as always, had leaned to the side of the strong. Could Santiago say that the Authority was fair to the poor?
In the small room, the atmosphere saturated with smoke from petroleum and tobacco, Martín, the intelligent labor agitator, speaks to his commander. “It is not possible to tolerate the innocuous exploitation to which we are subjected,” says Martín, throwing back his head with the beautiful mane like a lion. “We work twelve, fourteen, and sixteen hours for a few pennies; we are penalized with any excuse, to deduct from our miserable salary; we are humiliated, prohibiting us to give roof or help to our friends or relatives or anyone we want; we are prohibited from reading newspapers which alert or educate us. We must not accept anymore humiliation, comrades; let’s go on strike, asking for raise of salaries, and less work hours, and to respect the guarantees of the Constitution given to us! Applauses receive those words from the orator; votes for strike, but the whole town knows that Martín has been arrested as he arrives home, and there is an order of arrest for some of the most intelligent of the workers. Panic spreads, the labor mass gives up, and succeeding again, gives away to be the object of humiliations. Could Martín say that the Authority is good and fair to the poor?
Before dawn, Epifania is already up, preparing her big basket with cabbages,lettuce, tomatoes, green peppers, onions which she gets from her small vegetable garden, and, with it carried on her back, gets to the market to sell her humble merchandise. With that money she will be able to buy medicine for her old father, and bread for her small brothers. Before Epifania sells her onions, the tax collector from the Government presents himself , demanding money to pay ministers, deputies, senators, judges, policemen, solkiers, city workers, governors, politicians, and jailers. Epifania cannot pay so her merchandise is taken by the Government. Not even her tears or crying can soften the heart of the public functionary.
Could Epifania say that the Authority is good or fair to the poor?
What is the value of the Authority? To make the law be respected, writen byrich or educated men, at the service of the rich, who have to have the guarantee, the assurance of possession of richness, and the exploitation of the work of men. In other words: The Authority is the watchman of the Capital, and this watchman is not paid by the Capital, it is paid by the poor.
To end with the Authority we have to start with finishing the Capital. Let us take possession of the land, the machinery of production and the means of transportation. Let us organize work and common consumers, establishing a common ownership for all, and then, there will not be a necessity to pay funcitionaries to guard Capital held in only a few hands, as every man and every woman will be at the same time, producer and guardian of the social richness.
Your future is in your own hands. Today that Authority has lost strength because of the popular rebeliousness, this is the precise moment to put hold on the law and destroy it; to get a hand over the individual ownership, making it property to all and each one of the human beings who live in the Mexican Republic.
Let us not allow, that the Government becomes so strong. Let’s expropriate without delay for public use! And if by unfortunate fate another individual gets the seat of the Presidency of the Republic, war against him and his followers! So by it, avoid letting them become strong, and, in the meantime, continue with expropriation.
(From “Regeneración,” number 83, dated the 30th of March, 1912)
Long Live Land and Liberty!
That afternoon dies without specific peculiarity. The sun, lazy, did not want to spread his golden hair in all the circumference of the horizon, as if he would be upset from the baseness of men, that because of their smallness they kill each other, because of nothing they suffer, and from nothing they are amused, like poor worms.
Through the dusty highway — and dusty, too — an older man walks. It must have been a long journey, judging by the reflected tired face and his painful walk. He carries a backpack, a shirt, made of bleached cotton, perhaps, and worn out pants. It is a soldier returning home from the Orozco group.
The man walks and walks, walks observing the groups of men and women assiduously, working in their eternal labor, dressed in very humble clothes, with sadness and desperation showing in their sunburned faces. These people work the same, dress the same, have the same look than before the revolution.
The revolutionary stops to contemplate the picture and questions, “Why did we have the revolution?”
And he continues walking to his village where he will see his loved ones, waiting for him anxiously, for sure, children and wife, after his long absence.
The highway is slowly covered by shadows. To his side walks a group of workers marching towards their shacks, with the same looks of weariness, of fatigue, and maybe resentment. The revolutionary turns to the group and asks, “Why did we have the revolution?”
He continues walking towards the village, where he will find his loved ones, where they are waiting desperately after a long wait, his children and wife.
The barking of dogs denounces the proximity of the village completely submerged in darkness. The wind weeps between the branches of ash trees burdening the road. Our traveler walks, walks, and walks, thinking about his loved ones...
The next day the revolutionary has to go back to the furrow, as any other one to make 25 to 50 cents a day; and if Vazquez Gómez has gotten the presidential chair, the poor keep on being poor, keep on being humiliated by the rich and by the authority.
The revolutionary reflects and questions, “Why did we have the revolution?”
Worn out, he returns to his shack, where he had been the night before. A pot of beans is their dinner, with a few tortillas. The dog yawns close to the fire; crickets sing their love in the cracks; children sleep almost naked. “Who won?” asks his wife, who is so happy to be able to stretch and hug her absent husband’s arms, and had not been able to ask the question before. After a few minutes, thinking, the revolutionary answers, “Well, we did.”
“But you have not even a cent.”
“Well anyhow, we son — we dethroned Madero.”
“But we were left down, as always,” says the woman.
The revolutionary scratches his hair and, not having any other way to answer,and answering as before, he questions, “Why did we have a revolutionary?”
“Why did we have the Revolution?” the woman asks.
And the revolutionary, surprised of this woman thinking like him, could not stand his indignation anymore, backing inside and exclaimed, “The revolution is only for the bold ones, the ones who want to be in the government, the ones who want to live off of the work of others! “
We got furiously obstinate by not listening to the anarchists of Regeneration, who in all ways have advised us not to follow the employers, to take possession of the land, water, fields, mines, the factories, mills, miner, means of transportation, and that we should commune property to all the population of the Mexican Republic and so, we would consume what we produced. We were told that to struggle to elevate individuals was a criminal offense. We did not listen, because they were poor, from our own class, and as the saying goes, we carry penitence from our own sins. This is what we deserve, for being stupid! Our employers are having a great time right now, while we, the bait, the suckers, the ones who work, sweat, and struggle, show our chests to the enemy; now we are the ones who suffer more than before... Juan sounds the trumpet, announcing a meeting; rubs his eyes...It was a bad dream! Picks up his rifle, and rejoices, knowing the fact he’s joining the lines of the red flag liberators, and yells with sound voice, “Hail to my laud and freedom!”
(From “Regeneración,” number 87, dated April 27, 1912.)
Sitting on the threshold of the door from his humble home, Pedro, serious and hard worker, thinks, thinks, and thinks. He had been reading Regeneration, given to him from a skinny worker, nervous, with an intelligent look, as he was leaving for home. He actually had never read this paper, although he had heard about it, sometimes with disdain, other times mad, and sometimes enthusiastically.
As he is sitting at the threshold of his door, Pedro thinks and thinks hard, so hard his head hurts, just with the question, thinking, “How could we possibly live without a government?” It’s eight o’clock in the morning, the last day of April. Roses open their petals so the sun can kiss them; hens, busied digging and trying to find worms, while the gallant rooster, opening and dragging his wings, fencing them, asks for love.
Pedro walks and walks. Palms sway and swing their fronds under the shining sky, the swallows gathering mud to make their nests; Pedro is in the plain field; the herd pasture quietly, without the police beating them, hares, playing freely without the need of legislators trying to make them happy with their laws; birds enjoying life, no one demanding, “I rule; obey me!”
Pedro is experimenting with the free sensation, lifting the weight, and cries, “Yes, yes, it is possible to live without a government!”
The picture he sees in the life of the animals has given him the answer, and that answer has lifted the knocks of his headache. Those flocks of sheep at his sight have given him the idea that no government is needed to live in peace. Not having individual property, there is no need for someone to take care of that property from the attacks of the ones who do not possess anything. They do own, in common, the beautiful meadow, the crystal waters, and when the sun rays shine furiously, they participate together, from the shadow the trees project. Without government, those worthy animals do not kill each other, neither do they need judges, neither jailers nor bailiffs. By not extending between them private property there isn’t that horrible rivalry, that cruel war between classes, from one individual towards another, debilitating solidarity, so powerful in animals of the same species.
Pedro breathes with all of his open lungs; a vast horizon opens in front of him; as it crumbles down before his intelligence, the dark scaffolding of worries, of prejudices, the atavisms, the bourgeoisie society carefully encouraging to continue this existence. Pedro had been thinking that it is indispensable to have masters and servants, rich and poor, governors and governed. Now he understands: the ones who are interested in the actual political, economic, and social systems continuing are the ones who impose the political, economic, and social inequalities to exist between humans.
Pedro thinks, thinks, thinks. Coyotes, wolves, ducks, wild horses, buffaloes, elephants, ants, sparrows, swallows, pigeons, and almost all animals live in union, and that society is based in practical solidarity at such degree that the poor human species has not attained it yet, in spite of conquests by science, the main cause of this human misfortune, the right of individual property which allows the stronger ones, the most intelligent, the meanest to hoard, for their exclusive advantage, the natural rich resources, and the product from human labor, leaving the rest without sharing the social inheritance, and subjected to work for a crumb of bread, when they have the right to have everything they need.
The weary heat of the noon sun tires Pedro, who finds refuge under the foliage of a tree, falling asleep. The insects fly and fly over him, like escaped jewels from show windows anxiously sparkling with the sun.
Pedro sleeps and dreams. He dreams himself in a vast land, where he finds thousands of coworkers laboring the fields, while from their throats rush out triumphant notes of the hymn “Work and Liberty.” Never has a musician conceived a melody as such. As is, no none until them had felt as free and happy to be alive! Pedro works and sings just the same as the others, and after two hours, they seem as seconds, he and the rest start walking towards the village, where, smiling to see small houses surrounded with flower gardens, they see nothing is missing to make life happy and beautiful. All of them have cool and hot water, electricity, electric stoves, bathrooms, sinks, comfortable furniture, curtains, rugs, pianos, and pantries filled with provisions. Pedro, as the others, has his own home, happy with his wife and small children. Now nobody works for a salary. All are owners. The ones who like agricultural jobs, fine, together working the land; the ones who are inclined to the factories, have gathered together like their brothers from the fields. All industries, at last, have come in accord to produce, according to the needs of the community, putting the products of all the industries in a huge warehouse, where there is a free entry to all this working town. Everyone takes what he or she needs, as there is abundance of everything. The streets are free of beggars, of prostitutes, because everyone has their necessities satisfied. At the working scene one does not see an old person, as they worked when they were apt, and now they live peacefully, from the work of the strong ones, waiting for a quiet death, surrounded by loving sincere tokens of affection; the disabled enjoy the same privileges as the seniors.
To get to the result, the people from this region started to disregard all kind of authority, and at the same time, declared common property the land and the production machinery. They gathered the workers of each industry to discuss the way to better production, having at front, a list of the demands from the bourgeois’s warehouses, and that now was at the disposition for all in a big warehouse.
Many unnecessary industries were eliminated, since there was not a reason for speculation anymore, and the work that previously used to move the policemen, the soldiers, the public and private office workers, helped with their contingency effort. There were no parasites of any kind anymore, as everyone of those inhabitants were at the same time producers and guardians, therefore being at the same time workers and owners.
What is the reason to have a government?
Which was the reason to destroy those people, when all of them felt like owners? Nobody could be better than the other. Each one would produce according to his effort and intelligence, and each one would consume to fill his needs. What would be the reason to hoard? That would have been stupid. Pedro feels happy and smiles while sleeping. Butterflies fly around him as if they were part of his dreams...
Suddenly Pedro feels a great pain on his head, and awakes startled. It is a policeman, a representative of Mrs. Authority, with which scared shy people believe they cannot live without. The pretty officer has just awoken, with a kick on the head, the good and peaceful laborer. Desperately, she orders him to go and sleep at home, or on the contrary he will go to jail for being vagrant.
Vagrant? When his master just told him there was no work — just two days after!
Pedro shakes with indignation; turns his back to the officer and leaves. His face shows a supreme resolve. Arrives home, kisses his small children, and, with great emotion, says good bye to his wife, to march towards the brave ones who fight at the exalt of “Hurrah Country and Freedom!”
(From “Regeneración,” number 85, dated May 4, 1912.)
For Land and Liberty
Pedro was unconscious; he started to work when he was seven years old. His father was a peon in a hacienda from the state of Michoacán, with a salary no more than twenty five cents a day, working from dawn to sunset. The family could not live with that miserable salary; the cloth to make their clothing was more expensive everyday, the first necessity articles much higher, and the bill owed to the landowner was increasing and increasing...
One day the peon took Pedro to his job. It was imperative that the child work so they could help at least with a fist full of corn, the everyday porridge, and the indispensable tortillas. From then on, Pedro must earn his food from the sweat of his brow.
Pedro came to the age of 24, like his father, earning twenty five cents, working from morning to night; however, if life was expensive, then, it was much more now; levies were more frequent, the fugitive law was applied to the maximum, the “fatigues,” the free personal service to authority, were more and more frequent, and to their misfortune, as a traditional costume, the debt from the father, had fallen or accumulated to the son, increasing his own. In search of better fortune, Pedro came to the United States, finding work in a section of the railroad. One day he found a newspaper, Regeneración, maybe a passenger left it behind. Pedro read the paper and felt something so deep that it left a profound feeling in all of his being. He had learned to respect his masters, as if they were his parents; in his simplicity, he believed that, if there were not wealthy people, the poor would not have anything to eat. He respected the government, in spite of the treatment he received in Mexico; considered a priest, as a representative of God on Earth. Finally, poor Pedro was a total reactionary.
Sitting on an empty drawer serving as a chair, Pedro read Regeneración under the light of an oil lamp, and while he was reading the newspaper, he felt a knot in his throat...feeling something shattering inside his being, and a huge horizon was extending in front of his life.
Pedro felt terribly sad; and he believed that it was so natural to suffer in this world, at least the priest had assured him. Now, he realized that those lies from men of the cloth just wanted to keep the slaves quiet, and his heart was pounding violently. With clenched fists, he cried, “I will go to Mexico and I will not leave any of these rotten birds alive!” He would remember then the priest’s sermon from his village, when he would preach, pretending love, and charity, in a loved voice, and cry, “Be patient, my children, and the Lord will give you a better life in your next life; respect and love your employer as if they were your second parents; conform with your poverty; do not envy the fortune of the rich, because that wealth was given by God, merciful Lord. He will give you work, and receive food on our tables. Respect your government, which is the one who is in charge and guards your belongings, people, abide the laws, as well as punish crime and reward virtue.”
“Oh! If I would have read Regeneration,” said Pedro, sitting on his empty shack, as his voice, sounded empty. “If I would have read Regeneration, something else would have become of me and my loved ones.”
The wind would filter from the hut, crevices, crying as if carrying the slaves’ laments, who are born, live, and die without knowing anything else from life, except misery and pain. Far away a dog howled; a night bird sang mournfully, as the night seemed sadder.
Pedro continued reading, and while reading, his mind had only one idea: to buy a rifle, and clenching the newspaper, crushing its lines, he kept on thinking, thinking. He was not old! He was only 24 years old; however, he thought having wasted much time in the struggle for the ideal. “I will not leave a Burgos alive as soon as I step on Mexican territory!” he yelled with fury, and his voice vibrated as a trumpet calling the slaves to combat determined the soldiers to become men.
The wind would blow through the cracks from the hut, as if it were the weeping and the sighs and complaints, the cries of men and women, old people, children proletarians who are born, live, and die without anything but sorrow and pain...Outside, the telegraph wires, shacked by the strong wind, gave saddened notes. A rooster sang far away; a pair of cats, denouncing, in the shadows their noisy loving.
Pedro kept on thinking and thinking. “I will have a bullet for each representative of the Authority, as soon as I step into Mexico!” he cried, and his voice resounded as if he were the sound of a machine gun in the enemy’s trenches...
Sometime later, after this night, when the brain of a man illuminated with a new light, a troop of Carrancistas rebelled against the authority of Venustiano Carranza, disregarding Government, Capital, and Clergy.
It happened that Pedro, converted into the apostle of the Good News, marched towards the territory dominated by the Carrancismo, presented himself in a Carrancista camp, and set a soldier post. Once among these rebels, he gave full range to his generous thoughts.
“Brothers,” he said, why are we carrying the weight of another government?” He proceeded, saying, “Now that we have arms in our hands, let’s finish once and for all with the beginning of Authority, the Capital, and the Clergy.” Then, taking out a small red book from his pocket, , he read to his comrades, not about ideals. It was the 23rd of September, 1911. The rebels listened to the apostle, and the opinion was expanding, that if the revolution was going to be wasted, it would be imperative that the country, during the armed struggle, take possession of the land, machinery, and means of transportation; that is if one expects that a Government give happiness to its people, that would never happen, because the mission of the Government is to give protection to the wealthy, with prejudices towards the poor. The Carrancista rebels thought and thought and thought. One remembers that one time the workers from his district decided to go on strike, asking for a raise of salaries, and less work hours. The government sent troops to machine gun them and make them continue or return to their work with the same old working conditions. Another brought from his memory the fate of Juan, his village, and how he was taken out of his home, in the late hours of the night, by the Acordads, and shot by a shower of bullets, like a dog, at the corner of the road, because he did not allow the owner of the hacienda to rape his wife, companion for all of his life. Another remembered well poor Santiago, that cowboy, with so many children and family, and how he was sent to fight in the army and died of malaria in Tierra Caliente, as he did not allow his boss to steal his salary. Each of those rebels had more than one memory of how the Authority protects the rich, with prejudice against the poor, and in each of those hearts, hardened by privation and suffering, burned a vengeful fire. “We do not want a government anymore!”...they cried and yelled, and their clamorous cry resounded on the Sierra’s steep rocks, as thunder.
“Death for Capital; Death for the Clergy” repeated cries, and the formidable voices went down the channels until they were last in the lands.
The officials perceived the disruption, and went there to impose order. Some shot some bullets, giving an end to the officials, and the new “libertarios,” with the red flag high, felt stimulated with heroic notes of the hymn “El Hijo del Pueblo,” as they walked away, marching toward the conquest of Land and Liberty.
(From “Regeneración,” number 175, dated February 7, 1914.)
What is Authority Good For?
That day Juanito and Liusita, Rasa’s children, could not get out of bed: fever was devouring them. Rosa squeezed her arms in desperation, bearing the pain before her own flesh and blood. It had been three weeks since she was fired from the factory. In vain she would scrape the bottom of drawers, moving useless implements and other old trumperies; not even a penny in the first one, nor anything of value in the others. Not even a piece of bread or a cup of coffee on the table, and the children burning with fever, agitating their small arms, asking for food. The door opens abruptly, and some individuals, dressed in black, with papers under their arms, break in without any ceremony. It was the notary and secretaries, aides just doing their jobs in the name of the law. Rosa had not paid her rent to the burguese, due to her misery, and the representation of the Authority came to throw her out on the street...Could Rosa say that the Authority is fair to the poor?
In the middle of the fidgeting and the confusion, in the business district, suddenly a burguese, agitating his arm, yells, “Thief! Thief!” From the bottom of the vest’s lapel swings a chain without a watch. People gather; the representation of Authority, cane in hand, opens space among the multitudes; but where is the thief? All the people close to the burguese were elegantly dressed. Pedro, after looking for work all morning, without luck, gets close to the multitude, wondering why there is so much excitement, and while waiting, feels a strong hand around his neck, and a soaring voice yells, “Come with me, you thief!” It’s a policeman. Could Pedro say that the Authority is fair to the poor?
Jose feels very tired. He has been walking all day heading to the city in search of work. Dismayed, he sites on a park bench. Getting relaxed, he falls asleep. A violent shaking awakens him: a representative of Authority tells him about the crime of falling asleep in the park. Jose apologizes the best he can, but the policeman orders him to get out of the park. Jose walks and walks, until, very tired, he sits at the edge of a sidewalk of a far-away street, falling asleep again, and suffering, for a second time, a shake from the “welcoming” representative of Authority, ordering him to stand up and march away. Jose explains his situation to the policeman: it’s been about three months since he has worked because there is an abundance of slaves, and it has been necessary for him to walk to look for work to exploit him. The representative of Authority tells him only lazy ones do not find work; he handcuffs him, and takes him to jail, where he will work for the benefit of the Authority. Meanwhile, Jose’s old parents and his family starve in the village he left. Could Jose say that the Authority is fair to the poor?
Life is unbearable for Lucas and his family. His boss wants to rob the affection of his wife; the boss’ son wants to ravish his daughter; the foremen are insolent; the salary he earns is miserable. Lucas decides to leave with his family; however, he has to do it hiding from his boss, as it is known this man is the owner of lives and haciendas. The march takes place; they are yet to fall into the hands of the Authority, so notified by the man in charge of slave escapes. Women are returned to the hacienda, where they will stay, exposed to the appetite of the master and his son; meanwhile, Simon is sent to the headquarters, as a man with “previous charges,” according to the boss’ declaration. Could Simon claim the good of the Authority?
The roads are ruined from the torrential rains. The burguese need the repair of the roads as soon as possible, so their automobiles can pass without problem over their roads and their paths. The Authority orders every male from the working class, from the district boundaries, and forces them to work repairing bridges, constructing dams, making trenches, without any pay, so the burguese keeps on getting business, while the proletarian families bite their elbows from famish. Could the poor families say the Authority is good and generous to the poor?
Why do we, the poor, need Authority? She is the one who throws us to the barracks and makes us soldiers so we can defend, rifle in hand, the interest of the rich, just as it is happening in Cananea, where the soldiers are guarding the companies’ properties, so that the strikers will not destroy them. She is the one who makes us pay taxes so we can support presidents, governors, deputies, senators, cheap policemen of every kind and from all borders, office workers, judges, magistrates, soldiers, jail keepers, hangmen, diplomats, and a multitude of lazy, good-for-nothings, who do nothing else but pressure us for the benefit of the capitalist class. We, the poor, do not need anything of those cloth-moths and should shake them from our backs so the burguese system falls on the ground; and taking charge of our lands, homes, machinery, means of transportation, food, and other things kept in warehouses, declare aloud that everything belongs to all, men and women, according to the Manifest from the 23rd of September, 1911.
Down with Authority, disinherited brothers!
(From “Regeneración,” number 195, dated July 11, 1914.)
A Death Without Glory
It has been a week since the comrades had launched themselves into the Revolution, and Pedro felt sad. He wanted to be next to those lions who, rifle in hand, were in the front of the action fighting for human freedom. He would remember the last meeting in his very humble home. It had been at night; the cold air would go through the crevices, as to cool down the excitement. Jose, the man in charge of residence of the mine, would talk enthusiastically. “Comrades,” he said, “holding a glass of wine. “To die without glory, crushed by the mine, so we could make the burgess fat, as to die in the battle field in defense of our own right, as production of social wealth, I prefer the latter,” and raising the glass to his lips, he drinks the wine in one draught.
The wind had a sort of lament at every crack, as if all the victims of exploitation and tyranny had congregated that very night around the hut so their complaints could be heard. The coyote sadly hauled in the nearby hill, gloomy and nervous. The owl, disquiet with his mournful notes, the little birds in their nests.
Juan, the railroad peon, corpulent, and lacking words, hugged Jose, and said, “I’m going with you,” and at the same time, some plates fell from the table, shaken by the peon’s effusive redness. The cat woke up frightened; in the next room a child cried; the oil lamp gave off a dense and unpleasant smell.
Jose filled his glass again. All of them seemed possessed of that fire proper of the generous hearts which beat for a great deal of time. The Manifest of the 23 of September 1911, in red binder, was shining on the proletarian table, as a red-hot coal.
“How many of us are going?” Jose asked. All of them stood up to signify all were in agreement to fight for the struggle. Only Pedro stayed sitting. The surprised looks from his comrades turned to him, who with hands on his forehead, wept.
“You are afraid, ah?” Santiago asked brutally, the shepherd making a disdaining grimace.
Everybody looks at Pedro with pity: the scene was singularly painful. There was a picture of Praxedis G. Guerrero hanging on the wall, the beautiful group of children of the state ready to follow in his glorious steps.
Pedro, moved to the point of crying, raises unstable as a drunk, even though he had not tasted wine — he was tempered — and, with a weak voice, says, “I cannot go with you; Marta, my partner, objects my going with you: she claims I have the obligation of supporting our children. I will stay.”
It was getting colder as the night approached, and the whistling wind would get into every crevice. Manuel, the tobacco worker, coughed and from his pressed chest, a murmur could be heard similar to boiling water from a bottle. Everybody sat, except him. He wanted to talk, but his coughed drowned his words. Finally, he claims, “Yes, let’s march to the battle, comrades.” He coughed, spit a viscous bloody mass, and added, “We will die crushed in the mine; at the shop they are spying on us; our kidneys wear out in the fields; the scaffoldings are dangerous, and the digging of quarry demolishes the bones; machinery mutilates us...all for the benefit of the burgess! Why not, instead, raise firearms and grab from the hands of the infamous burghs, our natural wealth, that which we have produced ourselves?”
Praxedis, from the wall, watches that union of heroes. The freezing cold wind continues, going into all the crevices. Manuel coughed, and his cough seemed as if it came from the bottom of a pitcher. “Do you hear?” he yelled; “the wind brings us the lament of the ones who suffer the tears of the children who want bread; the anguish of the son with his old parents, dying away gradually, for lack of nutrition; the suffering of the prostitutes, forced to sell their flesh so she can bring a morsel to her children; the sigh of the prisoner, decaying in the corner of his cell; the forced breathing from the proletarians, who tame their own, sweat and blood, the fortune of their master. Let’s rebel”
“To the struggle of battle!” all proclaimed, and from those suppressed chests came the heroic notes of the Anarchist Marsellesa:
To the revolt, proletarians;
The day of the redemption now shines...
Clouds turn pink, as if embarrassed to be seen asleep by the sun. Dawn comes; the owl had gone, scared by sunrise, and the brisk happy song, joyous as the hangman disappeared, by the coyote, as they go their dens, and the cat snores in his corner, shakes his skin to scare the flies.
Since then, everything has been sad to Pedro. He was the only one left behind. Since that day, his sadness multiplied. He got up early and went to the mine. He felt his heart sink. “It was my duty to go with them,” he thought. “The mine can collapse one day, and then what? My family will be without bread and they will become the same as they would have had I been killed by defenders of the capitalist system on the battlefield.
The dark entrance of the mine was opening at his feet, as if it was a hungry monster yawning, impatiently waiting for his ration of human flesh. Pedro looks around, sighs, and goes down, to do his work.
Five hours later, some sad, taciturn men deposited, at the feet of Marta, the crushed body of Pedro. A huge rock had smashed him like a mouse. A death without glory!
(From “Regeneración,” number 207, dated 9 October 1915.)
The Victory of the Social Revolution
Juan is delighted: he just saw the newspaper coming from Washington, about Carranza being recognized as chief of the Executive Power of the Mexican Republic. He hugs Josefa, his wife, effusively kisses his little son and, almost yelling, says, “Now, peace will be had at last! Oppression will end! Hurrah for Carranza!
Josefa is left with her mouth open, speechless, just looking at her husband; without understanding why, just because a new president comes into power, misery will cease. She looks around the room, a room from a poor neighborhood from the Tepozan Alley of Mexico City, and sighs. Everything which surrounds her is miserable; the broken grass chairs, the furnace without a piece of charcoal; the sheets from the cat have stains, product of the child’s urine; on the solitary table, stands a bottle with a piece of paraffin, drippings falling down like thick tears.
Without realizing his wife has not understood him, Juan yells, “One was for prosperity and liberty opens before the Mexican country. Hurrah for Carranza!
Josefa opens her eyes immeasurably. She cannot understand the relation between the exaltations of a man in power and death to expression, and submerges in profound reflections, until a lice, the hungriest of the many populating her head, gives a bite that returns her to reality. She scratches furiously, and at the same time, with a weak voice, weak from lack of food, tells her husband, “Could you tell me, Juan, what we are gaining with Carranza in power with the Presidency?”
“Come on, Josefa, you haven’t yet understood about these matters? We are getting laws which benefit us workers; the ones about agricultural labor, we’ll receive land form the hands of the government; in fact we will have freedom and well being.
Josefa’s lips show a smile, transcending the bitterness from her heart. Even though poor, she had had the opportunity to read something about Mexico’s history, and remembers that all past presidents, before reaching the highest position, swore a thousand times, and again to dedicate all their efforts for the country. That’s how the proclamation of Sturbide reads, the manifests from Bustamento, the ones from Santa Ana, and the proclamations, manifests publishing from government, circulars from Bulooga and Commonfort, Gonzalez and Díaz, from all, in fact, including Madero. All promised to make the country happy, and the country was miserable under all of them.
A bedbug walks slowly on the wall, as to kill time taking a walk, while these poor people decide to go to bed, victims of the capitalist system. Josefa sees it and, with her previous practice, presses one on the wall with the tip of her finger, kills it, leaving a bloody mark on the wall. The poor woman gives a sad look to her husband, almost saying, “Poor slave! When will you open your eyes?”
Juan is radiant with joy and agitating the newspaper high, exclaims, “Constitutional order, these are respected individual guarantees; the privileges of the citizen without obstacles; justice justly administered, free suffrage, no reflection; honesty from public officials, what more do you want, woman? Why do you have a mournful face?”
Josefa replies, “Everything sounds great; but the bread — who is giving us the daily bread?”
“Ha, ha, ha! This is why I have arms,” Juan says, laughing, and adds, “Only the lazy die of famish.”
Josefa drops her arm in dismay. “Honestly,” she thinks, “Juan is a perfect sheep.”
Some lice bite her, making her scratch desperately to the point of bleeding. Later, church bells can be heard; they are the bells from the parish Santa Ana; from the area of Tezontlale one can hear yelling, fireworks, all the church bells from all the nearby churches sound in unison with the notes of a “paso doble” from the military band making Juan so excited to the point of being delirious, so he takes his hat and yells in full blast, “Hurrah Carranza!”
They are the workers, Carranzistas, who celebrate the recognition of Carranza’s government, extended by the foreign governments, representing their proper burgesses.
A month has gone by. Juan works, but his situation does not change; his miserable salary barely covers him, his wife and son do not die of hunger. The same dilapidated chairs, some stained blankets on their bed, their poor table hasn’t been replaced; and in their stove there is not a good soup to nourish them; charcoal is as expensive as gold; most of the bloody spots on the walls indicate that the bedbugs haven’t lost the habit of taking a leisurely walk before eating; the lice burn poor Josefa’s head.
“Hey, we sure have gotten a lot from Carranza’s rising! Isn’t it true, dear Juan?” says Josefa, with a certain sluggishness.
Juan scratches his head due to the torment of the lice and disappointment. He thought that Carranza being in power would be like abundance at home. However, he does not give up and explains, “It’s impossible for a government to give happiness to his people in one month. Let’s give him time so he can implement the reforms which will benefit the masses, and then we’ll see.”
A year has gone by. Juan’s condition is about the same as before. It is true that the salaries are better; but the landlord has also raised the rent for the rooms; merchants have raised the price for articles of first necessity; clothing is also much more expensive than before. He does not work more than eight hours a day; however, the same amount of work has to be done in eight hours that he used to do in twelve, fourteen, or sixteen hours.
Juan is holding the paper “Regeneración,” reading it avidly, and leaves the reading aside, only to scratch due to the parasite bites, using his nails. Juan walks up and down, very concerned, holding a small red notebook, being the only color giving some joy inside the dark miserable hole, dirty and hopeless: this is the manifest dated the 23rd September 1911.
Suddenly, Juan stops his walking and slapping his forehead, and exclaims, “How foolish I have been, and with me, the workers who helped Carranza! Here we are in poverty, the worst misery, even though we drop working just as before the old goat went into power. The distribution of land was a damn lie, as we have to pay for the piece of land given; protection laws to the workers — it was no other than the protection of the Capital, because burgess have a way to get paid for the little given or granted; the constitutional order does not do any good for the poor, as in misery being a virtue, we are the outcasts as always. Death to Carranza!”
“Death to all Government!” Josefa yells, waiving, as if it was a flag, a newspaper called
“Regeneración” that she had on hand.
“Hurrah for anarchy!” Juan screams, waiving his red book, of whose pages contain memories of youth, effluvium of spring, balsam of hope and rays of sunshine for all the sufferers, for all who sigh, for all who drag their existence in darkness from slavery to tyranny.
For the first time the squalid room becomes noble, as it serves as shelter to a couple of lions and a cub.
Several days have gone by. The trenches of the Capitol offer a formidable scene. The neighborhood is La Merced. Tanners and apple pickers united here to build a trench in two hours. Men, women, children, seniors, and even handicapped have worked together here. The ugly market building from La Merced has given part of the material. Behind the trench, there is an ocean of straw hats. The huaraches and rude shoes from the defenders, energetically walk stepping the bland dirt, proud now to serve as pedestals to this large group of heroes. They wait a few minutes for the Government to attack. All is activity within the trenches: women stand in line, men cleaning their rifles; children distribute artillery to the men. A red flag, with white letters reading, “Land and Freedom,” smiles at the sun at the highest point of the trench, sending from there greetings to all the outcasts of the world. The proletarians from the Capitol are against the Capitol, Authority, and Clergy.
The proletarians form the slaughterhouse and San Antonio Abod do not show less active. The butchers files their knives, testing them with their thumbs. The streets next to the slaughter houses and Textile Manufacturing buildings are without sidewalks since the materials were used to build trenches; tables, pots and pans, pianos, clothing, mattresses, all have been a mountain of objects in horrible confusion, and are used as a defense for the noble defenders.
Belin and Salto Del Agua; San Cosme and Santa María de la Ribera; San Lázaro and San Antonio Tomatlán; La Bolsa and Tepito; San Juan Menoalco, Santa María la Rhonda, la Lagunilla, all the popular neighborhoods from the populated city have emptied their homes, people, embellished by the revolutionary ardor, are getting prepared to resist the attack from the Carranzistas, the trenches expel dirt right away. The trench from San Lázaro and San Antonio Tomatlán is showing an unusual flag: it’s an old pair of bloomers, old and stained. It’s a miserable flag! It is the disfigured rag of the world of oppression and privilege. While the rag stays close to the proletarians, the lords are fine; but when the same old rag is tied to a stick, then the world trembles.
However, if there is excitement in the trenches, but none compares with the ones from Peralvillo, Santa Ana, Tezontlale, who, united with activity, enthusiasm, audacity, and revolutionary care, join Juan and Josefa, who do not rest. Black with dust, they look beautifully sweaty, worn out, running up and down under the trench, sharing energy and enthusiasm for their defenders. Suddenly, great confusion, followed by firing, sounds of the trumpet can be heard from the area of la Concepción Tequipehuca.
“They are the ones from La Bolsa and Tepito and they are fighting!” screams Juan, throwing his hat in the air.
A few minutes after the roar of the cannons, the rifles voice; the beating of the drums; the madness of the trumpets; the martial airs of the musical bands were confused with the city’s thunder, as all the trenches were attacked at the same time by the Carranzista troops.
Juan and Josefa get up to the highest place of the trench, where they can see a heavy cloud, where the Carranzistas are approaching, on the streets of Santo Domingo.
“The enemy is approaching, comrades!” they yell at the same time. “Everyone get to the place which is best for the defense of our land!”
In an instant the trenches are surrounded with rifles. The enemy sets two cannons in the center of the street from Santa Catarina and Las Moras, while part of the column continues to advance over the trenches from the entry of the street.
An imperative voice comes out from the dusty cloud and approaches already at one hundred steps from the barricade.
“In the name of the Supreme Government,” he says, “Surrender!”
“Hurrah Country and Freedom!” answer the ones from the trenches.
The shooters follow from both parts; the cannons direct their projectiles to the center of the trenches to open breach in the fort, the smoke saturates the area, making it unbearable; the attack is furious, the resistance formidable, the Carranzista soldiers add blasphemies to their firing; the proletarians, defenders of the barricade, sing:
Countrymen, the chains oppress you,
And this injustice cannot continue;
If your existence is a world of sorrows,
Before a slave, choose to die.
And the notes of this magnificent hymn, that hymn common to the oppressed in this world, that same hymn which condemns the bitter martyrdom of the outcasts, and their holy need for redemption, that hymn, being, at the same time, a complaint, protest, threat, spreading to the four winds, as an invitation made for the dignified and the honorable.
The next day, Mexico’s proletarians celebrate the success of the Social Revolution. The burgess system has died.
(From “Regeneración,” number 209, dated October 23rd 1915.)
It is eleven thirty on a winter night in Valle de México, when appears, in one unexpected moment, a wonderful miracle, as the stars fall in showers of diamonds.
The district of the capitol sleeps just the same as their inhabitants, working people who spend hours of the Mexican days in the shadows of the shops and factories, adding to the wealth of the bourgeoisie, and the splendid nights in the darkness of their homes, poor, very poor. There is not even a transient in the suburb of Santiago Tlaltololco, with the exception of the passing women, selling and crying with melancholic voices, hiding sadness, bitterness, the torments of a martyrdom of their race: “Booooooiled duuuuuuuck, tortillas with chiliiiiiiii.”
It is the cold; the flickering of lanterns on the street corners, “tecolates”; a man knocks softly at a dirty door of one of the outbuildings of the Puente de Tres Guerras; the door opens as a big mouth yawning in the dark, and the odor of poverty comes out from within; the man comes in with assuredness and the door closes behind him.
That outbuilding is the home of Melquiades, weaving worker, where twenty others work together. As the newcomer enters, all approach him to shake his hand. How long he has taken! They were desperate; some had already left for their homes. The newcomer explains the best he can the reason for his delay: he had to leave town to take care of important business for the worker syndicate, of which he is an organizer. In a corner, two workers are squatting and speaking in soft voices.
“I can bet, brother, that that one has been in the whorehouse and now he comes to tell us he has been out taking care of syndicate business. He dresses fine, eats better, he doesn’t collapse like we do, because he makes his good old salary, as an organizer. That one is already emancipated. Why does he worry about us anyway? Do you think he is concerned with how the worker feels? He knew important businesses were to be dealt with here for the benefit of the working class; however, he comes late. He sure is not in a hurry so we can be emancipated, because if we did the union would go to hell for being unnecessary! The officials would have to work to live, just as any mortal will have to do when we are able to overthrow the system that crushes us.”
“Your are right, brother,” says the other. “The union or syndicate official feels that as a member of the bourgeoisie and, due to that reason, he is interested in delaying our emancipation.”
Everybody talks at the same time, excited as the organization arrives. Time flies, it is important that this issue be taken care of at once. Melquiades raises his right arm, signaling that he wants to say something. There is silence. Melquiades tightens his voice, spits and speaks in a tone that reflects the honesty of a noble proletarian heart.
Comrades, as we explained in the circular sent to all members of “Grupo Humanidad Conciente,” this meeting has only one objective: to determine what attitudes we should assume as workers, before the lack of fulfillment of promises, due to us by the Constitutionalist Party, when that party aspires to power, and wants our supports. This support was given, as many hard workers shed their blood at the battlefront for the constitutional flag, and many more went to vote in favor of Carranza. Well, comrades, it has been awhile since we have had a Carranzista government, and everything is just the same than before the Revolution, or should I say, everything is even worse than before because now the worker has to carry on his shoulders not only the old debt, but the new one, as well, owed to the bankers of the United States to consolidate the government of Carranza. That is without counting the hundreds of millions of pesos that we are paying as indemnities for the national bourgeoisie and foreigners who have suffered prejudices during the Revolution. Suffering poverty is extreme; tyranny is even worse than the time of the hateful Porifirio Diaz. Speaking about the workers from Grupo “Humanidad Conciente,” what is needed is to join the beautiful movement of the ones who didn’t abandon arms when Venustiano Carranza took power, and to shout, ‘Country and Freedom!’ Yes, comrades, let’s adopt the beginnings of the Liberal Mexican Party and make our own Manifesto, dated September 23, 1911. To tyranny, we respond; to tyranny we respond with barricade, to hunger with expropriation! Let’s rebel!”
The boldness causes the afraid ones to tremble; others, due to the excitement so related to violence, as the only recourse to effect a right, respond to ideas and desires, kept in secret; however, no one materializes with a “yes” or a “no,” approving or disapproving. The “owl” (watchman) from the corner blows a whistle to alert, and that whistle others follow, until all the owls from the neighborhood and all his friends form the city follow. The dog from next door, where there is a wake, howls mournfully; a chestnut dealer, covered up to his eyes, yells so loud that his voice denounces liquor. Even though our brothers do not notice, the stars wink to our mother Earth, twinkling persistently.
The organizer, pale, convulsive, doesn’t know if it is fear of losing his privileged position of his devotion to drinking and orgies, or has exclaimed, “Ha, what do I hear? Really I thought you were more sensible, Melquiades. Violence has never given anything more than blood, tears, pain, and death. I could bet you have been reading a damn newspaper named “Regeneracion,” written by renegades, tricksters, traitors to the country, exploits, scoundrels, and cannibals, getting fat at the expense of the imbeciles who fill their pockets with gold, cowards who do not have the guts to come here and publish an anarchist newspaper or to get into any of those groups of thieves, who assure, without proving, that they follow their principles. Who knows them here?
A noise, as the one produced from a paper stubbing the floor, makes at least one hundred eyes turn toward the door. There is a paper on the floor, a paper appearing at the scene to represent itself. One person from the rally takes the paper in his hands. “It’s ‘Regeneracion’!” The hated paper from all deceitful; the dreadful paper from all the tyrants. The lofty publications that is, at the same time, incentive for the good, poison for the bad. An abnegated hand slid the paper under the door. On the front page there is a picture of Nicolas Riveles, the accredited artist, modest, talented, straight in his conceptions, as he does not deviate from the anarchist ideal. The paper goes from one to the next, admiring all of the inspiration from Riveles. The organizer grabs the incendiary paper from one of the workers, and looking up to the ceiling, seeing a few spiders as if they were curious as to his exclamation, pale as ever, exclaims, “There is always propagandists for worse causes! The presence of this paper reveals the fact that there is a Magonist element in the city, that works in exchange for the gold received from Los Angeles. Do you want to believe it now? Those men are very rich, and proof is the fact that some miserable people distribute the despicable paper for a few cents. Comrades, not violence! We can get everything within the law, in a peaceful way. When we have three million workers in the union, then we can adopt stronger resolutions. Besides, our working class is not ready enough to take advantage; the reforms our Government works so hard to implement are not even ready. Much more, comrades, the attitude of those armed ruffians are not giving the Government the opportunity to realize the reforms it has offered. I invite you to organize a public rally, running in all of the principle streets form our city, asking, in a peaceful and orderly way, a fast resolution to all those offered reforms form the constitutional movement. By doing this, we can show the whole world that Mexican workers are cultured.”
All, with the exception of Melquiades, and from bath workers hands, squatted, gossiped, and applauded, making the organizers mad. Insurrection, as a way to take from the hands of the tyrants of the town, their bread, freedom, lost at least for the moment.
Peaceful feelings, peaceful ideas, predominant to the ambient, reflected just yesterday, by revelry and protest. It is the flow and rising of the Revolution; it is the momentary retrieve of the revolutionary wave, to return, a bit later, enervating, magnificent, to give another blow to the rock, until succeeding to demolish it.
Melquiades, angry, fixes his belt, as it was dragging down his heels; turns around to see everyone with disdain, a look corresponding to the idea he felt about those men, and what it could translate to (borregos), or stupid! He spits on the floor with anger, and pulling the lock of hair from his forehead, “I have only known a caliber of men who hate Regeneracion, and those are scoundrels. All who struggle with lack of interest for the human emancipation, love Regeneracion. The members from the Mexican Liberal Party are not Magonists; we are anarchists.
All of them argue in loud voices, and time flies, flies. It is six o’clock in the morning. The call of “je-llo!,” given by a passing man, startles the men. It’s too much, we have to end this meeting. Anyway, everything is taken care of; instead of revenge and a redeeming barricade, the protest seemed a procession in the streets. Everybody leaves except Melquiades, and the two workers, who were gossiping, squatting in the corner. The three anarchists look at each other with sadness, move their heads left and right, and again, while an idea goes to their minds: this is the worst weight, that the most advanced workers are condemned to drag, and how much delays our victory for the Ideal.
As it was approved, the demonstration takes place. Since nine o’clock, it has been walking through street after street. There haven’t been major incidents. All has been mocking looks to the demonstrators, and stares from the bourgeoisie from their stores, banks, and casinos, looks that without doubt wanted to say, “poor devils! We can keep on cutting their dough for a while: let’s live in peace!”
It’s twelve noon; the sun shines in all splendor; it is a privilege for a Mexican sky to be in gala, happy, smiley, amiable, in comparison to other heavens, pale, opaque, speckles, sad as a heart hungry for love and tenderness.
The procession is very long. The once in charge peeps from the corner. Norte del Portal de Mercaderes, and still the tail cannot be seen from the Glorieta de Cuauhtémoc. The multitude is a great river of people marching toward an uncertain destiny. The sun, with its immense kindness, plays with the colors of the banners; all in all it displays happiness; but the expression of the workers’ faces, reveals the contrary, as they are marching toward something good, they feel in the depths of their hearts, they are not going to conquer life, but the burial of their hope.
The procession marches at the front of the Cathedral, until it reaches the door of Mariana del Palacio Federal, where the head of the march turns right and continues in front of the Palace, where crime hides in the guise of Government to expel expression and infamy. The head almost reaches the corner of Flamencos Street and portal de las Flores, when a few soldiers of the Cavalry stop in front of the procession, intercepting them. The ones behind step against the ones on fronts as if stopping the march. A deaf murmur of admiration and surprise exalts from that human serpent. What happened? What’s the meaning of this? Excitement travels to the heights and assumptions multiply as larvae in mud. It is that Venustiano Carranza has invited the union officials to talk with him and concede everything they request. General favor reaches this assumption. However, let us see what is happening at the head of procession.
The soldiers’ official asks the ones at the front who gave permission to organize this march. The ones who are listening get alarmed. What, isn’t it true the Revolution has succeeded and with it the political freedom for all citizens? Why did they need permission if they are exercising a right backed by the Constitution?
There are no reasons; the official orders to disperse the march; some protest, detesting the tyranny; the sack of clothes from Palacio Naciónal set on fire, clouding with smoke, and the noise of firing over the multitude of workers. The firing happens rapidly, as if there was a hurry to kill, to finish with the producers of the social wealth, the simple workers who did not have the strength to put barricades and die as lions, and were part of a farce where they died as lambs.
The three-colored flag proudly floats attached to its mast, following the massacre.
(From “Regeneración,” number 211, dated November 6, 1915.)
“What do we do now,” the workers ask themselves, not without a certain anxiety.
They have successfully taken the city in blood and fire. There does not remain a single capitalist in it, nor a priest, nor a representative of the government, except for those who hang from telephone posts or lay on the ground, showing their fat dead bodies to the sun. These bold workers understand that, if they allow a single one of these parasites to escape, they will soon return in the shadows leading a troop of mercenaries to stab them in the back.
“What do we do now,” and the anguished question is repeated by thousands and thousands of convulsing lips. These men, who do not fear shrapnel and who enthusiastically salute the roar of enemy canons that sends them death in each ball, feel timid in presence of Life, which offers them abundance, beauty, goodness, and sweetness.
The men scratch their heads shyly and thoughtfully; the women nibble the ends of their shawls; the kids, innocently free from the preoccupations of their elders, take advantage of the absence of policemen who usually are always around, and invade fruit stores. For the first time in their lives, they satisfy their puerile appetites until their bellies are full.
Before this spectacle, the multitude stirs: it was children who, with their sincerity, were educating their elders about what must be done. It is more natural for children to work like this, because their intelligence is corrupted by neither the preoccupations nor the prejudices which shackle the minds of adults. They do the right thing: they take it from where they find it. The multitude moves about, its undulation mimicking a sea of palm fronds. Our father the sun kisses the rags of these dignified people, generously allowing them a portion of its life, of its gold, of its beauty, and those clothes shine like the cheerful flags of victory.
In the middle of this sea, the most virile man surges forward, like a modest boat sailing proudly towards life. It is Gumersindo, the austere peasant farmer who had just been seen in the most dangerous places holding aloft his scythe, simultaneously the harvester of the heads of evildoers, and the symbol of fecund and noble work. Gumersindo loosens the peasant blanket that covers him. The multitude quiets down. The breathing of a child can be heard. Emotionally, Gumersindo says:
“The children grant us an example. Let us imitate them. The indispensable thing is to eat; that is our primary task. Let us take from the shops and the grocery stores what we need to satiate our appetites. Comrades: for the first time in our lives, we may eat as we like.”
In an opening and closing of eyes, the multitude invades shops and grocery stores, taking whatever they need. In other sections of the city, the same thing occurs. For the first time in the history of the population, there is not a single human being who does not satisfy the necessities of his stomach. A great happiness reigns in all the city. The houses are vacant: everyone is on the street. Bands improvising music roam the streets playing joyous tunes. Everyone salutes each other, calling each other brother and sister. Even though they did not know each other a few hours earlier, they dance in the middle of the street, sing to each other, laugh, cry out, joke about fraternally, and frolic to the four winds: The tyrannical regulations of the police have ceased!
Night comes. No one thinks about sleeping. The celebration of Liberty continues, with more joy than can be contained. The municipal service was disbanded when the principle of Authority disappeared. In its place, men and women of good will take care of public lighting. They empty the streets of dead bodies. Everything goes cheerfully, needing neither government orders nor district regulations. Already a new day is dawning, and the celebration, the great celebration of liberty, does not show any signs that it will end soon, and why should it? The death of centuries of oppression deserves to be celebrated, not with a few hours of abandon, not with one day, but rather until the body, exhausted by the debauchment of pleasure, reclaims slumber.
While the entire population is abandoned to pleasures, pleasures they have always dreamed of, the comrades, both men and women, of the group “The Equals” work day and night.
The noble builders of the new social order barely sleep. They are dirty, unshaven, and swollen from continuously watching over the population all night. Nevertheless, they are still active, enthusiastic, and valiant.
Upon their shoulders rests the gigantic task of constructing on top of the debris of a past of slavery and infamy. They avail themselves of the meeting hall of the extinct Municipal Government to hold their sessions. The peasant railway man Ramon speaks enthusiastically. He has barely slept during the five days since the city was taken by proletarian forces. He is radiant. His square, bronzed face, in which one can read frankness, resolution, boldness, and sincerity, gleams as if behind his dark skin, a sun is blazing. He sweats; his eyes shining intensely, he says:
“Finally, the people are enjoying themselves; finally, they avenge thousands of years of sadness; finally, they know the pleasures of life. Let us rejoice in this blessing, like the father finds recreation seeing his children play. Our brothers and sisters enjoy until they are exhausted from pleasure. Meanwhile, we work: we finish the plans for social reconstruction.”
The joyous notes of a waltz arise from the street, making all the faces turn toward the windows. The waltz ends, followed by an explosion of cries, whistles, hearty laughter, all sorts of sounds produced by striking all kinds of objects against each other.
“The people are enjoying themselves,” says Ramon. “We are working.”
And the men and the women of the group “The Equals” continue their labors.
Ten days have passed since the proletarian forces took the city. The entire population rests, fatigued by the week of pleasure during the celebration of Liberty. Numerous groups of proletarians assemble in the plazas asking each other what would be the right thing to do now. The comrades of the group “The Equals” have completed their plans for social reconstruction. They have affixed announcements to the street corners, inviting the residents of various city neighborhoods to congregate in specific sites in each neighborhood to discuss affairs of common interest. Everyone responds to the call, because they are all yearning to do something. For many, the future is uncertain. For others the horizon is limited. There even some who believe that the skies will soon discharge its anger against the men who executed the priests. The terror of the ignorant is widespread. The anxious crowd begins to murmur.
The comrades of the group “The Equals” distribute themselves in the various city neighborhoods. In plain language, they explain the excellence of communist anarchist to the people The people crowd around. They do not want words: they want deeds. They are right: they have been deceived too much! But no: this time no one is trying to deceive them. The orators lecture with all clarity about where they should go next, without delay, on the march of progress. The first thing they must do is investigate, with the greatest possible exactitude, the number of residents in the city. They must make a thorough inventory of the food and clothing in all the shops and department stores. With this information, they must calculate how long they will be able to feed and clothe the population with the assets they have on hand.
The problem of the adequate shelter still remains. It was partially resolved during the days of the Festival of Liberty. On their own initiative, some residents of the city housed themselves in the dwellings of the bourgeoisie and other parasites, who have finally disappeared forever. However, many families still remain living in tiny neighborhood rooms and shacks. On hearing this, the masons leap forward, saying that they will make as many cozy, lovely houses as would be necessary. Without needing anyone to order them around, they themselves organize commissions to investigate precisely how many houses must be built to lodge those who are still living in tiny rooms and shacks.
The murmuring ends: fears and suspicions dissipate from the gathered crowd. No; “This is serious,” they say and confidence is reborn in their hearts, that, like a amiable fire, frees up the enthusiasm that is so necessary in all human enterprise. More than enough men of good will volunteer to perform the census of the population and to take inventories of all the articles in the shops. It is necessary to take inventory not just of the food and of the clothing, but of all items useful in domestic and industrial settings.
The applauses repeat again and again, not so much to praise the merit of the volunteers, but to express the joviality of their spirits. These simple people understand that the fulfillment of duty does not need to be rewarded. The sea of palm hats stirs cheerfully under the rays of an amiable sun. The women display their satisfaction, cleaning the clothing taken from the shops. For the time being, the kids suspend their frolicking, because they all have furious bellyaches from stuffing themselves so fully. Convoys of parrots fly joyfully above the crowd, leaving an impression of openness, of freshness of health, of youthfulness, of spring. All dawns are beautiful, why shouldn’t this dawn of Liberty and Justice be beautiful as well?
The conclusion of yesterday’s meetings were postponed until today at two in the afternoon. The volunteer commissioners are all present. Not one is missing. All carry exact data about the number of residents in the city, as well as the existence of food and the other articles contained within the shops and grocery stores.
The day is splendid, one of the last days in April, when all is light, perfume, color, youth, love. In all the gardens, now tended by female volunteers, the flowers show their petals of silk, their exquisite, smooth, warm, humid vegetable lips that invite caresses and kisses.
In the same sites of yesterday’s meetings, people speak animatedly. “How well and how quickly everything comes together when Authority does not intervene,” they say in their conversations. Their hearts palpitate violently. Gumersindo does not take a moment of rest for himself. He roams all the neighborhoods in an expropriated automobile, now property of the community. Its usage is now absolutely necessary, because it unifies the resolutions made in each city neighborhood. He does not abandon his scythe, tying it to the hood of the automobile, giving prestige and luster to a machine that yesterday was merely aristocratic. The blanket that covers the shoulder of this rural peasant guarantees his modesty and concern.
Now they know how many residents there were in the city as well as the quantity of all kinds of manufactured goods. Despite their inability to find a mathematician on hand, they rapidly calculate how much longer they can continue to live off the provisions, a necessary calculation for regulating production. Hundreds of working hands plot the figures with expropriated pencils.
In a few minutes, these men of the hammer, of the shovel, of the saw, and of the chisel explain that this quantity of food is needed to provide daily subsistence for that many residents. They say that, because this quantity of foodstuff has been found, the entire population can subsist for that length of time.
Everyone is satisfied. “My goodness, this is going well” they say. Not a single complaint can be heard. “Truthfully, one needs only anarchists to arrange things,” they add. Cries of “Long live Anarchy” thunder throughout the space, in well-justified ovations that finally accept the sacred ideal. Ramon, the peasant railway man, cries with emotion and shakes a red bound booklet above him, saying in a voice broken with sobs:
“This is our masterpiece!”
It is the Manifesto of September 23, 1911, issued by the Organizing Council of the Mexican Liberal Party.
Ramon is magnificent. Like all heroes, his square face, which looks like it has been hewn by ax blows in the strongest wood, radiates light. However, a hero is not a god, because anarchists do not have gods. Rather, it is a being who, through his actions, elevates himself above us as an example, as a great and beneficial teaching. Whether or not one wants to admit it, he shines like a sun.
Ramon explains that, considering the quantity of supplies, all the workers in the each industry must assemble to agree upon how work will be organized in their industry. Once they obtain this agreement, delegates from all the industries must also come to an accord on how to produce what the population needs. All approve of the idea, and Gumersindo lets all the assemblies in the different city neighborhoods know of this agreement. They all receive this idea with grand gestures of enthusiasm. An era of prosperity and progress is opening up before the redeemed city. From now on, the production will be adjusted to the needs of the population rather than to enrich some bandits.
Volunteers from the many trades have completed the construction of vast galleries in various locations in each of the neighborhoods which divide the city. Other volunteers have carried to these galleries all the items that always are found in great quantity in the shops, stores, and other warehouses. These articles are classified carefully. They have been distributed in the storehouses made expressly for containing them, where people who need them can go take them. In these galleries will be deposited all the articles that the many industries produce.
The comrades of the group “The Equals” do not rest. What an enormous task they have! What colossal responsibilities will flatten them if the new order comes to nothing. However, they work with great faith in its success, the intense faith that is born from a profound conviction. Nevertheless, some details preoccupy them. The city can not get beyond a certain point without the aid of the farm workers. The peasant farmers must give the city worker what they need to eat, as well as the primary materials for industry such as cotton, wool, wood, cactus leaves, and many other things. In exchange, the peasant farmers will have the right to take from the city’s storehouses everything they need: clothing, prepared or manufactured food, furniture, machinery, and utensils for work. In a word, everything they need. The metallurgic industries need the miners to cooperate with metals. In exchange, they obtain all that they need, like their brothers the peasant farmers.
“Yes!” Ramon cries enthusiastically, “we need the cooperation of the peasant farmer, of the miner, of the quarrymen, of all who work outside the city, and we have obtained it!”
A cloud of volunteer commissioners scatter to the region conquered by the workers’ firearms. They invite their brothers to cooperate in the great work of social production, as has been said before. All accept with enthusiasm, and promise to send what they produce to the city, in exchange for what the city workers produce.
The anarchist society is finally a reality. Everyone works, everyone produces according to his strengths and aptitudes and consumes according to his needs. The old and the invalid do not work. All live contentedly, because they all feel free. No one orders and no one obeys. In all fields of work, the greatest harmony reigns between everyone, without needing taskmasters or bosses. There is very great traffic on streetcars, on railroads, on automobiles, and on carts, because now everyone has the right to transport himself from one place to another according to his whim.
Some five or six days is all it has taken to obtain such a cheerful result. Finally, humanity has been regenerated through the adoption of the principles of communist anarchist. One can not even understand the depth of feeling in Gumersindo and Ramon when they emotionally contemplate the beautiful work in which they played such a large part. From the nearby hill, on the route to the city, they look with eyes dampened by emotion upon the tranquil city, the peaceful city, the city of brothers and sisters. The murmur of the immense metropolis breathing comes to them. It is no longer the breathing of fatigue nor the death rattle of an agonized population of slaves, but the ample, profound, healthy breathing of a city of free and happy beings.