The Federación Anarquista de Gran Canaria or FAGC celebrates its 10 years of existence this month. In the past we already translated a series of articles written by them outlining their ideological approach in what they call “neighbourhood anarchism”. But to celebrate this anniversary we decided to translate a summary of their history in these 10 years where they went from disrupting speeches by reforminist unions during the 15M square occupations to being the single entity in Gran Canaria that has facilitated more houses for people. All of this while enduring police repression and torture, internal conflicts and splits, twitter censoship, attacks and outrage from stablished anarchist and much more.
These are the victories, mistakes, and the many lessons learnt from both, of the FAGC. Congratulations on these 10 years and we wish you many more to come!
¡Viva la FAGC! ¡Viva el anarquismo de barrio!
- Anarchist Federation Member & Translator
This August the FAGC (Federación de Anarquistas Gran Canaria) celebrates ten years of existence, 10 years of neighbourhood anarchism. We are gonna do a quick and brief overview of the historical trajectory of the FAGC. We have to return to 2011, to a society shaken by the demonstrations of indignation of what would become known as the 15M
On the 16th of May a group of young anarchists burst into the San Telmo square handing out a leaflet. It said things like this:
Something has been put into motion and we can’t content ourselves with just looking. First of all, we are gonna receive a lot of shit, many insults and defamations. Both the parliamentary left and right, with their pretend feud, have polarized the social life of the State; now they see we don’t want either of them, that there’s only two groups: them and us, oppressors and oppressed, rich and poor, they cower in fear and close ranks. The fear they show for a “simple protest” is a symptom showing that this can be something more.
But this cannot be the only thing that worries us; this enemy is easy to identify. What we have to make sure is that this movement is not used by anyone but by the social discontempt itself. A lot of “fathers” and “tutors” are gonna appear out of nowhere, many who are gonna try to redirect us “poor idealists” to a more “practical” and “constructive” way. Don’t be fooled! Everything that smells like politics, not understood as the administration of the polis but the “art of governing”, will try to disassemble this movement and turn it into a tool for their own interests. Our only chance is to spit fire in the face of the “firefighters”, of the career politicians that want to turn this into their electoral campaign. To reform the laws? To refund the system of free exchange and try to radicalise the electoral left? To ask for state intervention? This is hanging ourselves by the neck with our own hands but using the noose they give us. Ricardo Flores Magón said: “Revolutions fail because, once they triumph, they let everything in the hands of the new revolutionary ‘government’, instead of doing it themselves”.
There hasn’t even been a total insurrection and yet and we are already asking the law and the system to reform they would they themselves created? What we need is free access to utilities, housing and food. What we need is for the workers to control the production. The financial and banking system cannot be “redirected”, but destroyed. It must be us, in whatever way we decide, who manage our own lives. Don’t let yourself be infected by the “pragmatism” of the moderates. If you want Everything, don’t ask for it: TAKE IT.
What was the reaction of the first 15M integrants to this leaflet? An urgent assembly was called to...EXPEL THE ANARCHISTS.
Students indignated because we were “”proposing a revolution and they only wanted to “change things a bit”. Puritans of political parties saying they should call the police on us to kick us out (from a public park, yes). But there were also voices defending us.
They could not kick us out, not even if it was decided by a majority they didn’t have. We found out that they had used the same procedure to kick out feminist compas for a placard: “The revolution will be feminist or it won’t be”
With all this mess, did we leave or stay? The easy option was to leave, but as anarchists we never choose the easy way. To leave meant to leave the square to the parties and the opportunists. We went into the Respect Commission, with the objective of showing a different way of solving conflicts.
Our intention was to keep the police out of the square (to whom the “indignados” themselves called for any reason), avoid the exclusion of the homeless compas who were camping and generally show that our ideas were useful.
In little time the perception some of the “indignados” had of us changed. A lot of people started to come to us saying they were anarchists, but didn’t say when we arrived because we entered “like a bull in a china shop”.
More and more people joined: old militants of the COA (Colectivo de Objeción de conciencia y Antimilitarismo / Collective of Conscientious Objectors and Antimilitarism) from the 80s, people from inestable Grancanarian CNT, punks, young people who sympathised but didn’t know anything about anarchism, independentists, etc. The “black block” emerges.
In actuality this was the name given by our detractors, but we thought it was funny. During the month of July we started to think about creating a federation, a FAGC. We also thought it was funny, because of the FAI and because of “Fuck” (yes, we were very young)
Around the middle of August (the exact date is a mystery), in San Juan Park, Telde, the foundational assembly of the FAGC takes place. No document was written. No photo was taken. Most of the current FAGC didn’t attend this assembly. But that’s where everything started.
When San Telmo is evicted, we anarchists are on the front-lines. And also when it comes time to give a solution for the homeless compas that with the eviction also lost their refuge. An abandoned hotel is occupied. The first official squatting of the FAGC.
And also the first official trial of the FAGC for usurpation. The compas would be found innocent and there was a great mobilization from the healthiest and more committed part of the 15M.
Around this time the first important action of the FAGC takes place: to take lead of the a demo aways from CCOO and UGT (Two reformist unions from Spain). The slogan? “The only good Constitution is a burning one”.
Around that time the parties launch a powerful offensive to control the 15M in San Telmo. There’s a rumour going around that “the anarchists are a majority in the assembly and they are radicalising us”. The truth is that we were never more than 15, with a lot of sympathisers. (Read more)
The people who fear the 15M would end up becoming another political party, come to the anarchists to counter that influence. But the FAGC has an internal “rule”: to participate in the 15M as individuals, to not speak about the 15M in assemblies of the FAGC. In short, to not rule.
So Ruy developed an organisational model (to counter others who wanted that a collective/party voted and had the same weight as a neighbourhood assembly) that ensured the assembly’s autonomy. Ruy’s model won by majority.
In the model it reads:
The structure of a Movement that is horizontal, headless (without leaders) and popular cannot be understood as a “top down” correlation.
To stop any attempt at verticality we must try to organise things from the simple to the complex, promoting that the sophisticated depends inexorably on the basic.
But if the circularity scares the hierarchy, it will be the federal method what will allow to maintain the autonomy of the assembly. According to this principle, every assembly is autonomous and if we understand the Assembly as a method of collective decision-making in opposition to the powers that be, we understand that on it, and not in any other organ, is where sovereignty resides. This makes commissions mere tools that must only implement what the Assembly agreed.
We haven’t forgotten that the Collectives, unlike other social groups (workers, the unemployed, students, retired people, neighbours, etc) are united by ideological affinity, and that the horizontality must prevent any kind of outside control.
The successes come with police attention. In the next demonstrations and strikes a dynamic was repeated: the police charging against the anarchists and the confrontations with the “security” of the reformist unions.
We are now in 2012. Chaotic year. That’s when we kicked out, together with young independentists, the Nazis from Respuesta Estudiantil from a demonstration where they had agreed their participation with the biggest student collective of back then.
And also took place of our greatest hits: the taking of a platform that belonged to the reformist unions and their expulsion from it. An action that, although discussed informally, happened spontaneously to try to avoid the massacre of our block.
The FAGC from the outside gave an image of being “powerful”, but in reality it had suffered its first split a few months before and it was immersed in a debate about its nature and objectives. Everything started around the squatting of abandoned land.
Even then you could see in the FAGC two different sectors, one with more inclination with the “conventional” anarchism, with its typical actions: campaigns of apostasy, recreational activism, etc; and another more “from the neighbourhood”, more focused in reaching the people around them.
The discussion developed around an issue: to share part of the harvest with neighbours without resources and invite them to join the project or to take everything harvested for ourselves? We didn’t know how to manage the disagreement and little by little the supporters of the second option left.
Around then the FAGC was being mentioned in the local news (negatively) and it attracted young anarchists angry with everything, but our real effect in our neighbourhoods was minimal. We were very combative, but we didn’t speak to our people, only to ourselves.
We had a period of deep analysis, of contemplating the Canarian misery in all its depth and reach. Why, if most of us were from La Isleta, El Polvorín, Jinámar, Las Remudas, San Cristóbal, El Risco, Las Chumberas, etc (Different villages from Gran Canaria) we didn’t speak with our neighbours?
The period of demonstrations had been ok, it was very necessary to build strength. But in two years hundreds of demonstrations had taken place, and besides scaring the bourgeois, we hadn’t accomplished anything.
The battle for the horizontality of 15M had been a crash course on “realpolitik”. But beyond joining forces and bringing our ideas to a new public, did it make sense to continue in a “movement” that was only a collective now?
We started by opening our doors to our agricultural project. It was the first time that, as the FAGC, we worked with non-anarchist people on an anarchist project. That’s how “Land And Freedom” was born.
We continued our analysis of the Canarian situation and we saw that housing and evictions were two of the things that worried our neighbours more. A roof over your head, a house, warm clothes, the basic, the necessary. Our vegetables plot covered the first, but what about the rest?
For the clothes we created “Solidarity Meeting Space”, a network to freely exchange and share clothes, toys and other goods. Informally, it still continues. As well as 4 vegetable plots that feed 2 communities of 260 people and several more families.
But housing was much more complicated. We had already squatted before (some since they were teenagers) and we had stopped evictions with the 15M, but all the legal shit was beyond our understanding. We tried to unite with the local PAH (Plataforma de Afectados por la Hipoteca, network of groups involved in the housing struggle) and squatting movement.
The idea was that the PAH would take charge of the legal part, the squatting movement of the rehousing and the FAGC of the eviction resistance (our true speciality). But it didn’t work… The PAH at that moment didn’t deal with cases of renting or squatting.
Involved in a legalist and institutionalist process, it didn’t wanna have anything to do with the anarchists, so we limit ourselves to go to their assemblies to kick the hornet's nest and fish for neighbours unhappy with their “half measures”.
The squatting movement did rise to the occasion for months, stopping evictions with us and rehousing. But its internal dynamics, the thing about spaces for “travelers” or meditation, made it last little. The FAGC had to make the decision of being all-encompassing.
We immersed ourselves in legal law (like the atheists who read the bible) and we started to create our reserve of socialised houses (the plan B) and we started to stop evictions by ourselves. The “Grupo de Respuesta Inmediata” (Group of Immediate Response) was born.
We made the first “Assemblies of Renters and Neighbours” of which the first public squats were born, together with the neighbourhood. In the photos you can see two assemblies (the first one just after the arrest of two compas) and one “socialisation caravan”.
We made our first rehousings, but it’s exhausting to limit ourselves to single-family houses. This is when, towards the end of 2012, the possibility of creating the “La Esperanza” Community was born. In february of 2013 we let in the first family. 20 families by May.
The overload of work starts to be brutal. There’s compas for who liked the theory of “working with non-anarchist people”, until it was time to put it into practice. Personal disappointments, communitarian conflicts… the theory spoke nothing of that.
A lot of compas don’t organise anymore, the weight falls on very few people and there’s then a conflict and the second and last split. There’s people who want to “do other things” and some others who want to continue in “La Esperanza” and in housing, but with the participation of everyone.
The first sector is the majority. The second one leaves and continues to squat, letting the first one do whatever they want with the name. In a month the FAGC doesn’t exist anymore. “La Esperanza” is allowed to manage itself however they want.
Months later the neighbours from the community contact the minoritarian group: they need a hand with those “assamblearian” and “horizontal” things because they tried a presidential system and it had been chaos.
We still have the minutes from the first assembly of the Community when it reinstituted the assamblearian model:
A periodic Neighbourhood Assembly will be constituted to manage the common matters. Said Assembly will have the capacity of making decisions about the opening and set up of new homes, rehousings, establishment of fees, bank procedures, maintenance, etc.
It is decided to “start from scratch”; past conflicts and grievances won’t be taken into consideration.
It is established that all neighbours are equal and therefore there’s no need for any position of leadership, management, presidency, etc. All decisions are made in common.
In the case of unforeseen expenses, an emergency assembly will be called to decide on the need of a collective fund to pay for them.
Taking into considerations the minimum expense of the community, it is established a quota of 25 euros per month for each house.
The payment of the quotas can be done between day 1 and 30 of each month and will be given to the treasurer. If a neighbour can’t pay the quote in its entirety, they’ll contribute whatever they can (Ruy promises to pay the difference in case of proved need).
The assembly bluntly rejects the extortion or intimidation of any neighbour for not paying. No neighbour can be evicted or denied water or electricity because of not paying.
We needed a platform to spread our voice and by petion of the neighbours, and seeing as the compas who kept the name had stopped using it, the FAGC was refounded in 2014. A very different FAGC from its beginnings.
The more we organised with non-anarchist people the more ideological anarchists started to disappear and more neighbours were joining the FAGC. It starts the golden times of self-management, with the first massive experiences, with the first failures, but also satisfaction.
Even before “La Esperanza” a self-managed community had been started (still continues to this day, it’s “El Project”, whose location remains secret). But “La Esperanza” is way bigger, 210 people and it allowed to experience “anarchy” in our own flesh.
From 2014 to 2015 the FAGC was busy experimenting with the limits of self-management. With all its contradictions and conflicts. Two blocks in disrepair of “La Esperanza” are rehabilitated and the last 5 families are rehoused (76 in total) and the project is considered finished.
It’s around this time when agents from the Guardia Civil (Militarised police unit from Spain. Known for being bastards among bastards.) illegally detain Ruy and torture him on the station. By accessing the police report we see that for the Guardia Civil “La Esperanza” is a “hot spot” and they criminalise the community without remorse when preparing the intervention.
All the alarms go off. The timid attempts at letting ourselves be known are set aside and a state-wide campaign is initiated to avoid any kind of reprisal. That’s when “La Esperanza” became known as the biggest self-managed community in the State.
In 2016 the mayor office of Guía (town where the Community is located) commanded the neighbours to abandon the community in a month (as if they were able to) and panic spread. Fearing a preemptive eviction, the FAGC and the neighbours start a powerful campaign. A month later the neighbours are still there. This February it turned 8 years old.
Also in 2016 the FAGC starts “Las Masías”. A community to house migrant compas escaped from the CIEs (Centro de Internamiento de Extranjeros, internment camps for immigrants) and persecuted by the police. Today 70 neighbours live there.
The resistance of “La Esperanza” also allowed a lot of young people and students to contact and become interested in the FAGC. Some of them, those who went down to Guía to lend a hand with the eviction, are today valuable members of the FAGC.
In the FAGC there’s very few anarchists and a lot of neighbours, who do not necessarily feel comfortable with the label of “libertarian”. There’s attempt to create big-tempt groups like the “Office of Popular Expropriation” but they don’t work because in the end they are the FAGC under a different name.
During the whole of 2016 there’s talks and debates about the need to create a Renters Union, like those started by the CNT in the last century. The FAGC is again on a situation of internal crisis, and it is thought to dissolve the FAGC if the SIGC doesn’t work out.
It is in January of 2017 when, without a lot of hope, an assembly is called in “La Esperanza” to decide the constitution of a renters' union. The response from the neighbours is a surprise: they throw their 50 cents quote to the table and ask for their membership card. They do understand what an “Union” is.
The SIGC (Renters Union of Gran Canaria) is born and out of it three new communities: “El Refugio”, “La Ilusión” and “El Nido”. All except the last one still continue. The lesson from “El Nido” is still important. We are talking about a socialised school.
The idea was to turn it into a shelter for survivors of sexist violence, since in the “shelters” of the state the treatment is infamous. The school is made liveable and everything is ready. But it’s then when some neighbours make a fatal decision.
They decide to contact the mayor of the town to “legalise their situation”. For two hours the mayor kindly listens to them. Gets out to make several calls, but returns with the same cordiality and good disposition. The neighbours are very happy.
When they return home they find that the school has been walled off with all their things inside. While the mayor distracted them, the operatives condemned the house. It’s been a hard lesson, but it served to make the communities realise the nature of the institutions.
This year the compas fromInercia Docs produce the masterpiece that is “Precaristas: cronic of the struggle for housing in Gran Canaria''. A graphic manifestation of our reality, our militancy and our neighbourhood anarchism.
This year we also stopped the massive eviction of “Los Barracones del Conde” (The Baron’s Bunkhouses). The FAGC and SIGC come into contact with a different reality, the rural, the caciquism, the aristocratic, those of the exploited labourer who live in shacks. The struggle spreads from north to south.
In the beginning of 2018 SIGC started to feel the excess of activity. Some compas fall sick, some get tired. The SIGC takes some months off. With hundreds of evictions stopped (some of them massive), docens of rehousings and three new communities. The wear is obvious.
The FAGC is more used to these moments of ebb and flow, so it continues its activity while the SIGC takes some time to reflect. We start an Advisory Office for Precarious People, specially cash-in-hand workers.
Many of the compas who come to us are prostitutes. We start to write accusations against pimps and police abuse, to learn the steps to claim benefits, we organise workshops on job retraining and on how to write CVs.
One of our vegetable plots is currently managed by the compañeras that are advised by our Office. Hundreds of kilos of oranges, tomatoes, avocados, potatoes or zucchini come out every month. We don’t moralise. We give tools so that no one is stepped on by no one.
We also develop a small healthcare network to give basic cover for migrant compas who fear being arrested if they come to the Canarian Healthcare System. This network, with its clinic, it’s still active today.
Towards the end of 2018 the process to evict “La Ilusión” was initiated. The FAGC answers the call and by petition of the neighbours themselves the SIGC is refounded. From here starts a Union that stops the eviction of “La Ilusión” and an average of 400 every year.
The community of "Los Girasoles", started just before the reflection period of the SIGC, it’s joined now by the "Miraflor" Community. SIGC currently has more than 600 members and 80 organisers, with different degrees of involvement.
In the beginning of 2020 “Precaristas” was premiered for the first time in Gran Canaria. The event is an special occasion on the isle. It’s celebrated where it should be: in the square, in the neighbourhood of Guanarteme, in the outdoors, with our neighbours, with our people.
In april of 2020, the FAGC and SIGC help to promote the first rent strike in the State in the 21st century (it was only appropriate, being the SIGC the first renters union in the State in the 21st century, a fact that bothers many).
Some day we should write the internal history of this strike. Sabotaged by some, attempts to control it by others, criticised by many. We distanced ourselves quickly from the official current and we limited ourselves to creating strike committees and advising thousands of people.
More than 600 people (we only talk about data from the FAGC, the SIGC on its own will count with as many) in Canarias and in the Peninsula (yes, we dealt with many cases from the whole State) won concessions through direct negotiations.
The moratories or payment reductions we don’t even count, because they weren’t the objective of the strike. It wasn’t a general strike and the government (not fearing the “friendly fire”) didn’t suspend the payments. We did manage that organised neighbours defeated big landlords.
Even today there’s people who still enjoy a reduced rent. Others only started to pay after the State of Alarm ended, without any landlord dying because of it (in fact we have ended advising some small landlords with a mortgage).
Towards the end of 2020 FAGC starts “El Refugio II”. A community for migrants who are being persecuted where 190 people live. It’s been necessary to develop a whole infrastructure of self-sufficiency (with gardens, ovens, etc) and a buying network, increasingly needed less often.
During the hard months of the pandemic, the FAGC also developed a mutual aid network with purchases of 50 euros for each family. More than 30 of our neighbours benefited from it, and avoided having to grovel in front of the NGOs who humiliated them and even controlled the brand of pads.
In the beginning of 2021 the "Los Olmos", with its strike committee, reaches an agreement with the proprietors to live there 8 years in exchange of 2000 euros per year. Everything thanks to that “shitty strike” looked down on by the militant elites and the “wise-men committees”.
In the beginning of this year we were also notified that the trial against our compañero Ruymán has been restarted. The FAGC and SIGC return to the streets. It is still an ongoing struggle and we need you, all of you, to win.
Many Koreans gathered in Manchuria to avoid oppression from the Japanese empire and formed their own society. Kim Jong-jin, having been inspired by anarchism under Yi Hoe-yeong, aspired to create a society in which all were equal without privilege and discrimination and free to develop and improve as they please. He believed in order to achieve a revolutionary movement, they needed to maintain a long struggle by a detailed plan and a complete organization and Manchuria was an adequate spot to have as a base. So he divided and surveyed the region and reported the results to Kim Jwa-jin.
He suggested to reform the Shinmin prefecture to prevent the invasion of Marxist-Leninists, defeat those who claim “scientific socialism” and hold a long struggle against Japanese imperialism.
Meanwhile in Manchuria, Korean anarchists had created an organization called 자유청년회 (“Ja yu cheong nyeon hoe”) and its members were working all across Manchuria. Kim Jong-jin, along with Yi Dal and Kim Ya-bong gathered all members and formed 흑우연맹 (“Heug u yeon maeng”) focusing on propagating anarchism. More youth organizations converged under the activities of 흑우연맹 and formed 북만한인청년연맹 (“Bung man han in cheong nyeon yeon maeng”) which also studied anarchism and focused on enlightenment of the population. Kim Jong-jin and Yi Eul-gyu established the Korean Anarchist Federation in Manchuria (재만조선무정부주의자연맹) using 북만한인청년연맹 as a base.
On the other hand, nationalists in Manchuria had failed to unify their factions of 3 prefectures in Manchuria and their innovative congress had disbanded without making much progress. Also, since they have expropriated resources from the populace while reigning over them, they were losing support and the populace were leaning towards Marxist-Leninists. Feeling threatened by this development, the nationalists and anarchists joined forces to create the Korean People’s Association in Manchuria (한족총연합회).
북만한인청년연맹, through their announcement, exposed the Japanese ambitions of Manchurian invasion and opposed political movements. They also opposed capitalism and foreign rule, and sought to respect the will of the individual and established the rule of free association, thus rejecting centralised governance.
The Korean Anarchist Federation in Manchuria, included a society of no rulers, free development via mutual aid and free association, work according to one’s ability and consumption based on one’s need into their programme. They sought to revolutionize the mind and lives of peasants and build an ideal society and progressing the liberation efforts based on it.
Their immediate program:
2. We strive to foster the organization of our fellow compatriots through the self-governing cooperative structures to promote the economic/cultural improvement of Korean-Chinese people
3. We strive with all our might to the education of the youth in order to strengthen the anti-Japanese force and the cultural development of the youth.
4. We as farmers run our own lives with our own strength through collective labor with the farmer population and at the same time focus on the improvement of the lives of farmers and farming methods as well as cultivation of ideologies.
5. We carry a responsibility to research our own affairs and to regularly report self-criticism
6. We have the obligation of friendly cooperation and common operatives with ethnic nationalists on the anti-Japanese liberation front.
According to the rules of the KPAM, its members were comprised of revolutionary Koreans, those who have lived in the region for longer than 3 months had rights and obligations such as donating funds, enlisting in the military, voting and passive suffrage. On its central institution, they installed the representative, executive, conference agencies and military, farming, education and economy committees. The representative agency was the top resolution agency which was held every January by those gathered by the executive agency and the head was picked by the executive agency to represent the meeting. Executive agency composed of over 15 to under 21 members which handled the affairs decided at the meeting and their term was a year. The conference agency composed of members from each committee and handled the connections between each committees and handled the PR decided by the executives.
Within each regional division of the KPAM was the agriculture association and it served as a regional administration handling matters ranging from executive, judicial, finance, to education, security and picked over 5 to under 9 members to carry them out. Also they installed the associations of education and security to handle those matters respectively.
The KPAM sought for maintenance of the region in order to acquire a structural base in it. They also focused on building elementary (소학교) and middle schools(중등학교).
They also built rice mills in order to protect the Korean peasants from being duped by Chinese merchants.
The prefecture started to fall with the assassination of Kim Jwa-jin by Gong Do-jin, a 화요파 (“Hwa yo pa”) communist party member, during the attempt by the Marxist-Leninists to dismantle the nationalist organization as the conflict between both factions escalated. KPAM then blamed and executed 2 figures which brought further condemnation and more assassination attempts from Marxist-Leninists.The association moved its HQ to Jilin and sought to unite the ethnic organizations against the communist party once more and attempted to subjugate the Marxist-Leninists. They also tried to calm down the population and fix its structural problems but ran out of funds so they had to request some money from a meeting in Beijing (무정부주의자동양대회). They got the money and planned to use it to rebuild the commune but 10 members got arrested by the Chinese police who were collaborating with the Japanese embassy. The police confiscated the funds. China based Korean anarchists quickly gathered around Manchuria to resume and rebuild Shinmin efforts.
After gathering, anarchists tried to restructure and enlighten the population once more but their efforts remained in vain for 2 reasons. The first being the internal division in the association and the second being the conflict between nationalists and anarchists. The Anarchists soon found themselves rejected from the main positions of the association as the conflict grew worse. The nationalists assassinated Yi Jun-geun, Kim Ya-un, and Kim Jong-jin, thus finally closing the chapter of the Shinmin prefecture as the anarchists fled from Manchuria.
Why it failed
The KPAM did indeed operate in an anarchistic manner. It was structured in accordance with anarchist principles of bottom-up organization based on free association. Each region would send their share of delegates which would manage the main issues of the association, and the general association would take care of all paperwork and decide on foreign affairs and public relations. Each region would hold a meeting to choose delegates and write proposals to the main branch. However, due to the situation in Manchuria and the lacking state of the Shinmin prefecture forced the association to adopt a top-down approach where they would select a couple candidates for each structure and hold elections respectively.
However, the KPAM had a fundamental flaw. While it was operated and structured by anarchist principles, it was not unified by anarchism nor did every member agree with anarchism.
For example, one phrase of their programme says, “We strive for the complete independence of the nation and thorough liberation of the people”. This meant they did not deny the state rather they acknowledged it. Despite the state being one of the top authorities that oppresses people according to anarchists, anarchists in Shinmin have deviated from anarchist principles by recognizing its existence in order to collaborate with the nationalists as they needed the regional base from them.
This “non-anarchistic” element eventually led to the internal division within the association and between anarchists and nationalists. Despite nationalist ideology having fundamental difference with anarchism, anarchists cooperated with nationalists which was a self-contradiction.
They had not established a regional base by themselves and borrowed it from the nationalists, this carried a certain dangerous factor that ultimately led to their failure from the beginning.
Afterwards the anarchists fled from Manchuria to mainland China, where they resumed their focus on terrorist activities. Unlike in Korea and Japan, there was no Korean populace to rally the movements with and because the efforts to build a base for a liberation movement was shattered as foretold, the only option left for Korean anarchists at the time (early to mid 1930s) was direct terrorism. They were also heavily discouraged from the failures of Shinmin and having to live far abroad, which led them to nihilist terrorism. The remaining anarchists began collaborating with nationalists like Kim Koo as both groups had a common objective that is to achieve liberation through terrorism.
Kim Koo and nationalists had the funds and anarchists had people to carry out assassinations. Another reason is that they had experience cooperating with nationalists in Shinmin. The anarchists also loathed the Marxist-Leninists after they killed Kim Jwa-jin which was a key factor of the fall of Shinmin, which led them to anti-ML activities. ■
Article composed with reference to Dr. Yi Horyong’s Anarchism in Korea and proofread by a couple others including @wrkclasshistory.
35 years of the Anarchist Federation – reflections on 1986 and now
It’s 35 years since the AF was first formed as the Anarchist Communist Federation in 1986. We’ve published retrospectives on several occasions before in the 10, 20, 25 and 30 year specials of Organise! This time we look back at what was happening in and around 1986 and its relationship to the emergence of the new anarchist organisations.
1986 had seen in some big anarchist anniversaries of its own. As well as the year being the centenary of the Haymarket Affair of 4th May 1886 in Chicago and a half century since the start of the Spanish Revolution in 1936, anarcho-pacifist influenced paper Peace News celebrated 50, and ‘Freedom / A Hundred Years’, a special centenary journal, was published. However, the views of those attached to Freedom at the time were not widely embraced by the emerging class struggle anarchist current. Although there was reference to history of the movement, including names associated with the origins of anarchist communism, much of the contemporary opinion read as of out-of-touch reminiscence and philosophical pondering, especially after the Miners’ strike battles and ‘inner city riots’ of the early decade. One article from a member of the newly launched Class War Federation did put the case for class politics and meaningful direct action (and appealed for anarchists to break from punk and veganism.) The article also called for more anarchist organisation and applauded the formation of the ACF.
Cold War politics
American militarism was a major 1980s political theme. The Ronald Reagan presidency was engaged in a not-so-Cold War in many corners of the globe. The US government was supporting several right-wing governments and insurgencies in Central America, including what became the Iran-Contra Affair, where the National Security Council was found to be covertly selling arms to Iran and using proceeds from this to fund right-wing rebel militias in Nicaragua. The Central Intelligence Agency was supporting Islamic fighters ‘Mujahideen’ in Afghanistan against the Soviet Union and UNITA in Angola who were a major ally of the South African state. Whilst Chomsky and Herman's book ‘Manufacturing Consent: The Political Economy of the Mass Media’ (1988) was around the corner, anarchists were stressing the need for Do-It-Yourself publishing by revolutionaries.
In the last few years before the Berlin Wall was brought down, when the dual influences of Soviet Union and USA still divided up the globe, understanding of geo-politics was prevalent amongst the Left in Britain. The UK establishment’s role in supporting the Chilean junta had been a major Trade Union issue and so earlier in the 1980s it was especially galling to see the government cosy up to Pinochet and resume arms sales. The Falklands War was judged by the Left to be British jingoism and a key part of the election campaign tool for the Thatcher second term. The Anti-Apartheid Movement was strong and the Conservative Right’s support for the regime was well known. Around 1986, the Federation of Conservative Students was making a nuisance of itself with a universities speaking tour of Monday Club members and other politicians well known for their support for white power in South Africa and Rhodesia (pre-Zimbabwe) and anti-immigration policies and views. This led to a great deal of direct action that was supported by anarchists, to oppose and ‘no-platform’ specifically racist individuals.
In the UK, a major focus of direct action in addition to big demonstrations was against US military power more broadly. Reagan was engaged in brinkmanship with the waning Soviet power and had bought Cruise Missiles to air bases in England with the support of the Conservatives. Anarchists were active on CND demonstrations and set up peace camps. Involvement in direct action, including a great deal of fence cutting at Greenham Common, Molesworth and other USAF bases, led to important discussions in the peace movement about ‘violence to property’ that was eventually resolved in anarchist circles even amongst pacifists (where the consensus became that destruction of property was not considered to be violence.) Class struggle anarchism was, however, beginning to critique the peace movement as lifestylist, something that was also directed at Green Anarchist, its paper being quite visible on Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament demos. Also, anarchists, unlike some on the Left, were accepting of separatism in the movement (a defining feature of the Greenham women’s camps) and the ACF reflected this in its aims and principles, whilst in practice the mainly mixed anarchist groups assumed men within them were feminist anyway.
Thatcher, Thatcher …
1986 was past mid-way of Thatcher’s second term as Prime Minister and the neoliberal project was in full swing. Utilities and the buses were being privatised, and a law was passed to de-mutualise Building Societies. The year also saw the ‘Big Bang’ deregulation of the City allowing vast sums to be made from the easy credit available resulting in massive debt for many of the working class. The year also continued the cheap sell-off of council housing under ‘Right to Buy’ with discounts of up to 70% available for aspiring home-owners. Land and property prices were about to boom leading to gentrification becoming a major feature of Southern big cities whilst the Tories seemed content to let the North suffer the rot of industrial decay. Unemployment was stuck at over 3 million. Bradford’s ‘1 in 12 Club’ launch was one early anarchist recognition of the need for more autonomous spaces in the anarchist movement, whose name comes directly out of the unemployment statistics of the time. In general, anarchists were heavily involved with mutual aid in the face of Thatcherite attacks on welfare. Other important activist spaces such as the Autonomous Centre of Edinburgh had begun as advice centres.
The Marxist-Leninist/Trotskyist left was reeling since the second Thatcher election victory. Neil Kinnock, Labour leader, was spending much time in power marginalising them. Derek Hatton, deputy leader of Liverpool City Council was thrown out of the Party for his membership of the Militant Tendency. Along with various other city councils Liverpool he played a major part in the Militant inspired rate-capping rebellion against Thatcher’s plans to squeeze local government finances. Also in 1986, the GLC, led by Ken Livingstone and John McDonnell (known more recently as Corbyn’s Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer) was abolished, weakening the Left’s control of London. These events of the mid-80s represented the death-throws of Old Labour. The Local Government Act that was associated with rate-setting mentioned above was passed in 1986. This was notoriously amended in 1988 to add the Clause/Section 28 "prohibit the promotion of homosexuality by local authorities" which had not made it into the Act two years earlier. Anarchists took part in the many Clause 28 protests; it was eventually repealed in 2003.
In January 1986, the major labour movement struggle since the end of the Miners’ Strike was about to begin; the year-long Wapping Dispute. Rupert Murdoch’s News International empire was in the process of moving the Sun, Times and associated Sunday newspapers away from their long-time home on Fleet Street. A major part of the modernisation plan was to destroy the print unions’ power by sacking most of the no-longer needed typesetters and ensuring non-closed shop contracts at the new plant at Wapping. There was strong critique amongst class struggle anarchists and anarcho-syndicalists of the Trade Unions inability to foster solidarity. The campaign to support the printers from anarchists included supporting weekly demonstrations outside the Wapping plant and direct action to prevent distribution of papers by private haulage company TNT. The demos were heavily and violently policed with running battles most weeks. This dispute further consolidated the anarchist organisations attitude to the police as front-line enemies and towards class violence. The government upped the ante with the passing of the Public Order Act (1986) which gave police powers to control “public processions and assemblies” and provided long maximum sentences for riot, violent disorder and affray (10, 5 and 3 years) that were used to great effect by the state in the anti-Poll Tax campaign a few years later (anarchists responded to the “Battle of Trafalgar” of March 1990 by initiating unconditional legal support for the hundreds arrested).
Our movement in 2021
So where are we in 2021? In 1986 the anarchist papers like Virus (forerunner of Organise!), Class War and Direct Action fed on the anger of the middle Thatcher years and looked to working class revolt for inspiration. The pages of these papers would also go on to cover in some detail developments in Northern Ireland that followed the signing of the Anglo-Irish Agreement with some anarchists verging on support for the nationalist cause as a reflection of the anti-imperialism that was still very prevalent on the Left. There is now a more critical eye on colonialism that could perhaps help steer a better path between ultraleft and anti-imperialist positions such as in the analysis of Rojava where there is much disagreement amongst anarchists. As well as coming from the trigger of Brexit, the April 2021 rioting in Northern Ireland has its origins in the history of the Union and struggle for a United Ireland that anarchists were aiming to make sense of in their papers in the 1980s, but are less vocal about since the ending of the Troubles.
The family occasions of the Royals were a source of derision amongst many anarchists in the 1980s, especially for Class War, who produced the single ‘Better Dead than Wed!’ in response to the marriage of Andrew and Fergie. But with both The Windsors and The Crown as entertainment on Netflix and their real lives even stranger than fiction it hardly seems necessary for anarchists to make much effort ridiculing them anymore.
The mainstream media news has been very much about Party politics, and, until the pandemic hit, Brexit dominated the political agenda and to a lesser extent Scottish Independence. But anarchists were neither pro- nor anti-Brexit, treating Fortress Europe and English nationalism as two sides of a statist and capitalist coin. We were also mostly disinterested in the tussles within and between parties on either side of the border. The rise and fall of Corbyn and the installation of a ‘safe pair of hands’ like Keir Starmer sometimes feels a bit like the Kinnock years as the Labour Party tries once again to regain electoral credibility; this holds little appeal to anarchists apart from to say “told you so” to those leftists who spent time canvassing for Corbyn.
The last few years have not been kind to grassroots politics either, though. Our DIY press is no longer special, being just one drop in a vast ocean of internet media that is directed to individuals’ computer and phones by algorithms, whilst each populist state leader has been amongst the mainstream media’s biggest critics as a technique to position them alone as the “voice of the people”. Anarchists are also now having to explicitly distance ourselves from conspiracy theorists and be more nuanced about saying all politicians are liars. A lot of the community work nowadays is defensive, running first food banks and then soup kitchens as more people have struggled to feed themselves after incomes from low paid and precarious work evaporated during the pandemic. Anarchists have played a small part in this widespread need for mutual aid with good examples in London (GAF free shops) and Bristol (BASE & Roses).
One element of déjà vu from 1986 comes from the announcement of a new ‘Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill.’ Judging by the use of police powers granted during the pandemic, this is more likely to be directed at stifling Reclaim These Streets protests against violence to women, Black Lives Matter demos and Extinction Rebellion actions, or as yet another attack on travellers, rather than being used to control workers disputes or demos about global politics. This said, economic strife may be around the corner as the state claws back the billions spent during the pandemic. A class analysis is essential as the outcome of the pandemic will amplify inequalities as much as the pandemic itself has revealed them. Anarchists also have much to offer tactically and have been instrumental in providing legal support on recent demos, which is an important legacy of the knowledge sharing and organisation of defence groups following the Public Order Act of 1986. The debate about violence to property has come back though in the context of statue toppling; anarchists could usefully look to the 1980s to see how this was justified in Peace News.
Internationally, things are very different in the organised anarchist movement since 1986. The Cold War framing of Latin American politics shifted after the fall of the Berlin Wall in the 1990s to a critique of capitalist globalisation. In Mexico, the Zapatistas emerged as a force in direct response to the North American Free Trade Agreement of 1994, which brought anarchism into direct solidarity relationships with indigenous struggles with support of many anarchists in Britain and Ireland for the Encuentros in Chiapas and other solidarity activity with comrades from Oaxaca and members of the FAM (Federación Anarquista de México) that AF was involved with. Anti-capitalism became a central feature of anarchist involvement in struggles of the 2000s, its forerunners existing in the Stop the City actions of the 1980s against the military-industrial complex, but now even more explicitly transnationalist with a No Borders ethos. For the AF, our international links have continued to grow since our joining the International of Anarchist Federations in 2000. Organisations in IFA include the Czech and Slovak Anarchist Federation and Federation of Anarchist Organising in Slovenia & Croatia, and we have good contact with comrades from Belarus who face intense and continued repression. Links with anarchists in the East, and most of the organisations themselves, simply did not exist or were still in exile in the West in the early-to-mid 1980s due to the Iron Curtain. The Latin American federations in IFA are highlighting the ongoing need for support for indigenous struggles, including the Mapuche people facing modern day land-grabs by corporations in Chile, and the massively unequal effect of Coronavirus amidst the contempt of Brazilian leader Bolsonaro for indigenous communities. This is in addition to the stark differences in access to vaccination between the richer and poorer countries in our international.
The rifts in British anarchist, feminist and left movements, caused by a reactionary rise in transphobia, had meant the postponement of larger anarchist events that have not yet returned due to the pandemic, although an online ‘Anarchist Bookfair in London’ was successfully held last year. The consultation on amendment of the Gender Recognition Act in UK and the activism of trans people, including those in AF, to increase visibility and acceptance, had put a small powerful group of ex-feminist academics and journalists in an uneasy alliance with religious fundamentalists, social conservatives and the far right. The antagonism is a departure from the 1980s when left and right politics were more clearly defined and anarchists aligned with the feminist movement for the most part, where the negatives focussed mainly on critiques of reformism or cross-class alliances. This has all caused headaches for some anarchists. Echoes of ‘no-platform’ were heard before the pandemic but the more confrontational face-to-face meetings have stopped due to social distancing, whilst the government decision not to amend the GRA to allow self-determination has fulfilled some of the reactionaries’ aims. The fight for transgender equality is ongoing and strongly reflects that against homophobia in the 1980s. The AF itself moved some years ago to the recognition of internal oppressions with the formalising of caususes that meet and organise separately whilst 2020s anarcha-feminism is confident in defining its own parameters.
Hopefully, the message of the class struggle anarchists of 1986 still stands regarding the need for organisations. A libertarian perspective will be needed to critique Coronavirus Passports which may otherwise realise the introduction ‘ID cards’ (proposed by successive government both Tory and Labour since the 1980s for other reasons) and to keep up the pressure that will hopefully Kill the Bill. Good organisation is needed, especially during the pandemic when we are more physically isolated, to make the case for an anarchist communist perspective.■
March 18 – The victors are celebrating the anniversary of the Commune of 1871. Trotsky and Zinoviev denounce Thiers and Gallifet for the slaughter of the Paris rebels. . . . ■
<< Mar 17th
March 17 -- Kronstadt has fallen today. Thousands of sailors and workers lie dead in its streets. Summary execution of prisoners and hostages continues.■
March 6 -- Today Kronstadt sent out by radio a statement of its position. It reads:
Our cause is just, we stand for the power of Soviets, not parties. We stand for freely elected representatives of the labouring masses. The substitute Soviets manipulated by the Communist Party have always been deaf to our needs and demands; the only reply we have ever received was shooting. . . . Comrades! They deliberately pervert the truth and resort to most despicable defamation. . . . ln Kronstadt the whole power is exclusively in the hands of the revolutionary sailors, soldiers, and workers—not with counterrevolutionists led by some Kozlovsky, as the lying Moscow radio tries to make you believe. . . . Do not delay, Comrades! Join us, get in touch with us: demand admission to Kronstadt for your delegates. Only they will tell you the whole truth and will expose the fiendish calumny about Finnish bread and Entente offers.
Long live the revolutionary proletariat and the peasantry!
Long live the power of freely elected Soviets.■
March 5 -- Many Bolsheviki refuse to believe that the Soviet resolution will be carried out. lt were too monstrous a thing to attack by force of arms the “pride and glory of the Russian Revolution”, as Trotsky christened the Kronstadt sailors. In the circle of their friends many Communists threaten to resign from the Party should such a bloody deed come to pass.
Trotsky was to address the Petro-Soviet last evening. His failure to appear was interpreted as indicating that the seriousness of the situation has been exaggerated. But during the night he arrived, and today he issued an ultimatum to Kronstadt:
The Workers’ and Peasants’ Government has decreed that Kronstadt and the rebellious ships must immediately submit to the authority of the Soviet Republic. Therefore, I command all who have raised their hand against the socialist fatherland to lay down their arms at once. The obdurate are to be disarined and turned over to the Soviet authorities. The arrested commissars and other representatives of the Govemment are to be liberated at once. Only those surrendering unconditionally may count on the mercy of the Soviet Republic. Simultaneously I am issuing orders to prepare to quell the mutiny and subdue the mutineers by force of arms. Responsibility for the harm that may be suffered by the peaceful population will fall entirely upon the heads of the counter-revolutionary mutineers. This warning is final.
TROTSKY, . . . .
Chairman Revolutionary Military
Soviet of the Republic.
The city is on the verge of panic. The factories are closed, and there are rumours of demonstrations and riots. Threats against Jews are becoming audible. Military forces continue to flow into Petrograd and environs. Trotsky has sent another demand to Kronstadt to surrender, the order containing the threat: “l’ll shoot you like pheasants.” Even some Communists are indignant at the tone assumed by the Government. It is a fatal error, they say, to interpret the workers’ plea for bread as opposition. Kronstadt’s sympathy with the strikers and their demand for honest elections have been turned by Zinoviev into a counter-revolutionary plot. I have talked the situation over with several friends, among them a number of Communists. We feel there is yet time to save the situation. A commission in which the sailors and workers would have confidence, could allay the roused passions and find a satisfactory solution of the pressing problems. It is incredible that a comparatively unimportant incident, as the original strike in the Trubotchny mill, should be deliberately provoked into civil war with all the bloodshed it entails.
The Communists with whom I have discussed the suggestion all favour it, but dare not take the initiative. No one believes in the Kozlovsky story. All agree that the sailors are the staunchest supporters of the Soviets; their object is to compel the authorities to grant needed reforms. To a certain degree they have already succeeded. The zagraditelniye otryadi, notoriously brutal and arbitrary, have been abolished in the Petrograd province, and certain labour organizations have been given permission to send representatives to the villages for the purchase of food. During the last two days special rations and clothing have also been issued to several factories. The Government fears a general uprising. Petrograd is now in an “extraordinary state of siege”; being out of doors is permitted only till nine in the evening. But the city is quiet. I expect no serious upheaval if the authorities can be prevailed upon to take a more reasonable and just course. In the hope of opening the road to a peaceful solution, I have submitted to Zinoviev a plan of arbitration signed by persons friendly to the Bolsheviki:
To the Petrograd Soviet of Labour and Defence,
To remain silent now is impossible, even criminal. Recent events impel us anarchists to speak out and to declare our attitude in the present situation.
The spirit of ferment manifest among the workers and sailors is the result of causes that demand our serious attention. Cold and hunger had produced discontent, and the absence of any opportunity for discussion and criticism is forcing the workers and sailors to air their grievances in the open.
White-Guardist bands wish and may try to exploit this dissatisfaction in their own class interests. Hiding behind the workers and sailors they throw out slogans of the Constituent Assembly, of free trade, and similar demands.
We anarchists have long exposed the fiction of these slogans, and we declare to the whole world that we will fight with arms against any counter-revolutionary attempt, in co-operation with all friends of the Social Revolution and hand in hand with the Bolsheviki.
Concerning the conflict between the Soviet Government and the workers and sailors, we hold that it must be settled not by force of arms, but by means of comradely agreement. Resorting to bloodshed, on the part of the Soviet Government, will not— in the given situation-intimidate or quieten the workers. On the contrary, it will serve only to aggravate matters and will strengthen the hands of the Entente and of internal counter revolution.
More important still, the use of force by the Workers’ and Peasants’ Government against workers and sailors will have a demoralizing effect upon the international revolutionary movement and will result in incalculable harm to the Social Revolution.
Comrades Bolsheviki, bethink yourselves before it is too late! Do not play with fire: you are about to take a most serious and decisive step.
We hereby submit to you the following proposition: Let a commission be selected to consist of five persons, inclusive of two anarchists. The commission is to go to Kronstadt to settle the dispute by peaceful means. In the given situation this is the most radical method. It will be of international revolutionary significance.
Petrograd, March 5, 1921.■
March 4 -- Late at night. The extraordinary session of the Petro-Soviet in the Tauride Palace was packed with Communists, mostly youngsters, fanatical and intolerant. Admission by special ticket; a propusk (permit) also had to be secured to return home after interdicted hours. Representatives of shops and labour committees were in the galleries, the seats in the main body having been occupied by Communists. Some factory delegates were given the floor. but the moment they attempted to state their case, they were shouted down. Zinoviev repeatedly urged the meeting to give the opposition an opportunity to be heard, but his appeal lacked energy and conviction.
Not a voice was raised in favour of the Constituent Assembly. A millworker pleaded with the Government to consider the complaints of the workers who are cold and hungry. Zinoviev replied that the strikers are enemies of the Soviet regime. Kalinin declared Kronstadt the headquarters of General Kozlovsky’s plot. A sailor reminded Zinoviev of the time when he and Lenin were hunted as counter-revolutionists by Kerensky and were saved by the very sailors whom they now denounce as traitors. Kronstadt demands only honest elections, he declared. He was not allowed to proceed. The stentorian voice and impassioned appeal of Yevdakimov, Zinoviev’s lieutenant, wrought the Communists up to a high pitch of excitement. His resolution was passed amid a tumult of protest from the non-partisan delegates and labour men. The resolution declared Kronstadt guilty of a counterrevolutionaiy attempt against the Soviet regime and demands its immediate surrender. It is a declaration of war.■
March 4 -- Great nervous tension in the city. The strikes continue labour disorders have again taken place in Moscow. A wave of discontent is sweeping the country. Peasant uprisings are reported from Tambov, Siberia, the Ukraine, and Caucasus. The country is on the verge of desperation. It was confidently hoped that with the end of civil war the Communists would mitigate the severe military regime. The Government had announced its intention of economic reconstruction, and the people were eager to co-operate. They looked forward to the lightening of the heavy burdens, the abolition of wartime restrictions, and the introduction of elemental liberties.
The fronts are liquidated, but the old policies continue, and labour militarization is paralyzing industrial revival. It is openly charged that the Communist Party is more interested in entrenching its political power than in saving the Revolution.
An official manifesto appeared today. lt is signed by Lenin and Trotsky and declares Kronstadt guilty of mutiny (myatezh). The demand of the sailors for free Soviets is denounced as “a counterrevolutionary conspiracy against the proletarian Republic”. Members of the Communist Paity are ordered into the mills and factories to “rally the workers to the support of the Government against the traitors”. Kronstadt is to be suppressed.
The Moscow radio station sent out a message addressed “to all, all, all”:
Petrograd is orderly and quiet, and even the few factories where accusations against the Soviet Government were recently voiced now understand that it is the work of provocators. . . . Just at this moment. when in America a new Republican regime is assuming the reins of government and showing inclination to take up business relations with Soviet Russia, the spreading of lying rumours and the organization of disturbances in Kronstadt have the sole purpose of influencing the American President and changing his policy toward Russia. At the same time the London Conference is holding its sessions, and the spreading of similar rumours must influence also the Turkish delegation and make it more submissive to the demands of the Entente. The rebellion of the Petropavlovsk crew is undoubtedly part of a great conspiracy to create trouble within Soviet Russia and to injure our international position. . . . This plan is being carried out within Russia by a Czarist general and former officers. and their activities are supported by the Mensheviki and Social Revolutionists.
The whole Northem District is under martial law and all gatherings are interdicted. Elaborate precautions have been taken to protect the Government institutions. Machine guns are placed in the Astoria, the living quarters of Zinoviev and other prominent Bolsheviki. These preparations are increasing general nervousness. Ofiicial proclamations command the immediate return of the strikers to the factories, prohibit suspension of work. and warn the populace against congregating in the streets.
The Committee of Defence has initiated a “cleaning” of the city. Many workers suspected of sympathizing with Kronstadt have been placed under arrest. All Petrograd sailors and part of the garrison thought to be “untrustworthy” have been ordered to distant points, while the families of Kronstadt sailors living in Petrograd are held as hostages. The Committee of Defence notified Kronstadt that “the prisoners are kept as ‘pledges’ for the safety of the Commissar of the Baltic Fleet, N. N. Kuzmin. the Chairman of the Kronstadt Soviet, T. Vassiliev, and other Communists. If the least harm be suffered by our comrades, the hostages will pay with their lives”.
“We want no bloodshed,” Kronstadt wired in reply. “Not a single Communist has been harmed by us.”
The Petrograd workers are anxiously awaiting developments. They hope that the intercession of the sailors may turn the situation in their favour. The term of oflice of the Kronstadt Soviet is about to expire, and arrangements are being made for the coming elections.
On March 2 a conference of delegates took place, at which 300 representatives of the ships, the garrison, the labour unions and factories were present, among them also a number of Communists. The Conference approved the Resolution passed by the mass meeting the previous day. Lenin and Trotsky have declared it counter-revolutionary and proof of a White conspiracy.
RESOLUTION or THE GENERAL MEETING or THE CREWS 0F THE FIRST AND SECOND SQUADRONS OF THE BALTIC FLEET
Held March 1, 1921
Having heard the report of the representatives sent by the General Meeting of Ship Crews to Petrograd to investigate the situation there, Resolved:
1. In view of the fact that the present Soviets do not express the will of the workers and peasants, immediately to hold new elections by secret ballot, the pre-election campaign to have full freedom of agitation among the workers and peasants;
2. To establish freedom of speech and press for workers and peasants, for anarchists and Left socialist parties;
3. To secure freedom of assembly for labour unions and peasant organizations;
4. To call a non-partisan conference of the workers, Red Army soldiers and sailors of Petrograd, Kronstadt. and of Petrograd Province, no later than March 19, 1921;
5. To liberate all political prisoners of socialist parties, as well as all workers, peasants, soldiers, and sailors imprisoned in connection with the labour and peasant movements;
6. To elect a commission to review the cases of those held in prison and concentration camps;
7. To abolish all politodeli (political bureaus) because no party should be given special privileges in the propagation of its ideas or receive the financial support of the Government for such purposes. Instead there should be established educational and 353 cultural commissions, locally elected and financed by the Government.
8. To abolish immediately all zagraditelniye otryadi (Armed units organized by the Bolsheviki for the purpose of suppressing traffic and contiscating foodstufls and other products. The irresponsibility and arbitrariness of their methods were proverbial throughout the country).
9. To equalize the rations of all who work, with the exception of those employed in trades detrimental to health;
10. To abolish the Communist fighting detachments in all branches of the Army, as well as the Communist guards kept on duty in mills and factories. Should such guards or military detachments be found necessary, they are to be appointed in the Army from the ranks, and in the factories according to the judgment of the workers;
11. To give the peasants full freedom of action in regard to their land, and also the right to keep cattle, on condition that the peasants manage with their own means; that is, without employing hired labour;
12. To request all branches of the Army, as well as our comrades, the military kursanti, to concur in our resolutions;
13. To demand for the latter publicity in the press;
14. To appoint a Travelling Commission of Control;
15. To permit free kustarnoye (individual small-scale) production by one’s own efforts.
Resolution passed unanimously by Brigade Meeting, two persons refraining from voting.
PETRICHENKO, Chairman Brigade Meeting.
Resolution passed by an overwhelming majority of the Kronstadtgarrison.
Kalinin and Vassiliev voted against the Resolution.■
March 3 -- Kronstadt is disturbed. It disapproves of the Govemment’s drastic methods against the dissatisfied workers. The men of the warship Petropavlovsk have passed a resolution of sympathy with the strikers.
It has become known today that on February 28 a committee of sailors was sent to this city to investigate the strike situation. Its report was unfavourable to the authorities. On March l the crews of the First and Second Squadrons of the Baltic Fleet called a public meeting at Yakorny Square. The gathering was attended by 16,000 sailors, Red Army men, and workers. The Chairman of the Executive Committee of the Kronstadt Soviet, the communist Vassiliev, presided. The audience was addressed by Kalinin. President of the Republic, and by Kuzmin, Commissar of the Baltic Fleet. The attitude of the sailors was entirely friendly to the Soviet Government, and Kalinin was met on his arrival in Kronstadt with military honours, music, and banners.
At the meeting the Petrograd situation and the report of the sailors’ investigating committee were discussed. The audience was outspoken in its indignation at the means employed by Zinoviev against the workers. President Kalinin and Commissar Kuzmin berated the strikers and denounced the Petropavlovsk Resolution as counter-revolutionary. The sailors emphasized their loyalty to the Soviet system, but condemned the Bolshevik bureaucracy. The resolution was passed.■
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