No Border Lasts Forever Conference III:
Retrospectives and perspectives of the antiracist movements
21st-23rd of February 2014 in Frankfurt/Main, Germany
Studierendenhaus/ KOZ, Universität Frankfurt-Bockenheim, Mertonstr. 26-28
Two years ago, the last No Border Lasts Forever conference took place in Frankfurt.
Two years of ongoing struggles and changes in the antiracist and the self-organized migrants movements. Amongst these –
most notably – an uprising of refugees in form of many strong initiatives, transnationally – even outside Europe – as well as in
Refugees marched from Würzburg to Berlin. Berlin has seen an occupied Oranienplatz for more than one year, putting the living conditions of refugees in Germany back on the political agenda. Lampedusa in Hamburg not only bridged the distance between the Mediterranean island and the Northern port city, but also built a strong urban alliance with a strong claim to a
right to stay.
In Baden-Württemberg a group of Afghan refugees from Hungary reclaimed their mobility and questioned the Dublin regime in
the process. The Refugee Tribunal in Berlin denounced the inhumane migration policies of the German state systematically. In
Bavaria, an ongoing campaign of hunger strikes, marches and occupations mobilised many refugees and challenged both Residenzpflicht and Asylbewerberleistungsgesetz along a strong claim for the right to stay.
In Lagers across Germany, self organised protests and tours aimed at breaking the isolation. The resistance against deportations is ongoing and intensifying. The new visibility of refugees’ struggles is not confined to Germany, protest camps springing to life in the very centre of large European cities such as Amsterdam and Vienna. While a series of revolts and hunger strikes taking place in many prisons along the European border, we see “no fingerprint” demonstrations in Lampedusa, sit-in-protests in Tunis and ongoing collective storms against the fences of Ceuta and Melilla. At the moment we experience a transnational perpetuation and condensing of the struggles for freedom of movement.
At the same time, we are faced with the continued cruelty of the European border regime, resulting in death and suffering. In spite of
the public attention to the tragedy in Lampedusa in October 2013, initiatives such as a strengthening of Frontex and the stablishment of the European Surveillance System EuroSUR are being pushed forward.
Across Europe we witness a surge in racist and populist mobilisations, threatening to revert important victories and achievements of the last decades.
These developments require a re-construction of a political space of communication, debate and solidarity in order to advance the antiracist struggles and gain the potential to give collective responses acknowledging the multiplicity and diversity of struggles. The
conference should offer a space for productive discussions, a space where we can discuss visions, victories, strategies, challenges and failures in a manner of solidarity.
The conference is prepared by antiracist, self-organized refugee and migrant groups and transnational networks.
Initial signatures and preparation groups:
Activists from Asylumstrike Berlin, Lampedusa in Hamburg, The Voice
Refugee Forum, Caravan Munich, Welcome to Europe, Afrique Europe
Interact, no one is illegal Hanau and Darmstadt, Teachers on the Road
Mainz, Noborder Frankfurt, Action alliance against deportations
Rhine-Main, NoLager Bremen, Youth without Borders (JOG),Women in Exile
and friends, Halk Evi Darmstadt, Refugee movement Sachsen-Anhalt, Aktion Bleiberecht
Freiburg, Refugee Council Hamburg, No Lager Halle,
The laws which were passed on January 16th showed that the faction of the ruling class which now control the government is ready to install a reactionary bourgeois dictatorship on the model of the Latin American regimes of the 1970s. The “dictatorship laws” criminalize any protest and limit the freedom of speech. After dystopian laws were enacted, protestors seized the capital. “Dear subscriber, you are registered as a participant in a mass disturbance.” That’s a text message that thousands of Ukrainian protesters spontaneously received on their cell phones as a new law prohibiting public demonstrations went into effect. It was the regime’s police force, sending protesters the perfectly dystopian text message to accompany the newly minted, perfectly dystopian legislation, which further ignited riots. A peaceful protest in Ukraine has grown violent over the past 72 hours as police and government agents are responding to protesters with incredible brutality. The Government in Ukraine has shown incredible force against once peaceful protesters who are now promising to “attack” if the president does not step down.
In the morning of January 23, the number of the killed constituted from 5 to 7 persons. The Ukrainian government has killed and tortured protesters, and just recently approved the use of water cannons in cold weather. Death squads are also in action. Special forces are also using pinpoint firing against protesters, and not only from traumatic guns. It has been reported that protesters are disappearing from hospitals; According to confirmed information, two people were kidnapped from a hospital and tortured, one activist, Yuri Verbitsky, was later found tortured and killed in the woods near a protest. Another protester who was killed, according to a photo of his body, was shot in his heart – a victim of a sniper.
It’s not just Kiev engulfed in the flames of protests, demonstrations are going on in many other Ukrainian cities. In some of them (mostly cities in western Ukraine) protesters have attempted and even been successful in seizing local administration buildings. Protesters, who seized the Trade Unions Building and Kiev’s mayoral office, have “a fair quantity” of guns. Ignorant Anti-Semitic violence has begun with beatings, by the purge of Nazi supporters coming out of the chaos. On January 25, Ukraine’s president offered the opposition leader the prime minister post, in a show of desperation to quell riots, but no one cares.
While protests rage in Ukraine, globalists prepare for Davos and the World Economic Forum. Ukrainian Prime Minister Mykola Azarov won’t be attending Davos however, as the organization ’disinvited’ him, the official stance suggesting it is due to the chaos raging in his home country. The destabilization has connections reportedly to John McCain, George Soros and pro-EU agenda – U.S. political energy interests. The Davos rejection may be less about protestor deaths and more likely about Ukraine’s refusal to work with the IMF and it’s energy deals with Russia.
As Ukraine’s revolution seeks justice, John McCain’s pro-EU movement rebels are causing chaos igniting further civil war in the nation. McCain’s ‘movement’ for a pro-NATO government is creating chaos. Russia is targeted to relieve its powers as the ‘War on Terror’ and Global Revolution march onwards. Other protests, angry with the big banking cabals, have pointed financial terror organized by the Rothschild banks to rip Ukraine apart. By well orchestrated and foreign backed insurrections all over the country, Ukraine is prepared to “negotiate” ; the surrender of her National Sovereignty.
The cold war is not over as far as U.S./NATO are concerned. This is another attempt by the imperial West to destabilise Russia’s allies (Syria, Iran, Georgia, Ukraine etc) so that Russia can eventually be encircled and contained by U.S./NATO friendly countries. This is also the purpose of the U.S./NATO missile defense shield that W. Bush pushed for to fulfill the PNAC agenda. On top of it all, Obama’s Syria War failed to ignite the regional war that was required, as NATO Chief General Wesley Clark exposed publicly. The West is in no position to criticize the democratically elected Ukrainian government. Remember what the U.S. government did to the mostly peaceful Occupy Wall Street protesters? They were violently rounded up, arrested and labelled as terrorists. The protests were quashed. Individuals associated with the movement are under surveillance in the expanding police state.
Police in Kiev face serious challenges, as nothing can justify the vicious beatings documented. Ukraine has said NO to the EU once. Now look what’s happening… The problem is hate. Fear. Anger. False Ego. Greed. Iraq, Afghanistan, Yemen, Pakistan, and Libya have fallen to central bank invasions, collapse, and drone bombings. Bush’s AFRICOM division has expanded across Africa. Egypt’s Revolution ended after the U.S. armed and financed the military coup takeover. Revolutions have sparked across South America in Mexico, Brazil, Chile… Nations everywhere are at war. We are living in war and so many are acting like its just another day. That is the problem…. What is happening in Ukraine is very important. End this madness. Save the world and end war. Evolve and don’t look back.
You might also be interested in:
1) Ukrainian protesters Received Visit From John McCain
2) Ukraine: Mass Unrest In Kiev After Two Protesters Die From Gunshot Wounds
European anarchists are warning about the wave of protests in Ukraine. According to reports, those involved are almost all neo-Nazis, along with people from middle / upper class and party of the extreme right. Unlike the first wave, this does not have the participation of workers and ordinary citizens or even people from political orientation left or anarchist.
Autonomous Workers Union Statement on the Current Political Situation:
The laws which were passed on January 16th showed that the faction of the ruling class which now controls the government is ready to install a reactionary bourgeois dictatorship on the model of the Latin American regimes of the 1970s. The “dictatorship laws” criminalize any protest and limit the freedom of speech; also, they establish responsibility for “extremism”. Parliamentary mouthpieces of the class dictatorship of corrupted bureaucracy and monopolist bourgeoisie are the Party of Regions and the so called “Communist” Party of Ukraine which has long ago become a political force serving interests of capital.
The Ukrainian repressive system leans on the police apparatus and street gangs of pro-government stormtroopers. Sometimes such paramilitary structures are commanded by retired police officers. Death squads are also in action. According to confirmed information, two people were kidnapped from a hospital and tortured. One of them died in a forest. Special forces use pinpoint firing against protesters, and not only from traumatic guns. One of the killed, according to a photo of his body, was shot in his heart. According to all indications he was a victim of a sniper. In the morning of January 23 the number of the killed constituted from 5 to 7 persons. And we don’t know the real scale of violence.
The ideology of the ruling regime is a mixture of Putin-style nationalism, conspiracy theories and conviction in their right, as elite, to rule over stupid populace. Groups of support to Berkut (the main riot police force) in social networks are full of anti-Semitic articles which claim that the opposition leaders are Jews and want to vitiate the people by legalizing same-sex marriages. This hardly differs from the rhetoric of Ukrainian right radicals.
Over the last days not only the far right confront the government, but also people of more moderate views. And they constitute the majority of the protesters. Many of them are indifferent to nationalism or negatively predisposed to it. Many of them don’t support integration into the EU. People go into the streets to protest against police violence. And a significant part of them is unenthusiastic or even skeptical about the clashes in the Grushevskogo street. Often one can hear that right radicals are a “Trojan horse” of Yanukovych and special services, designed to discredit the protest. Certainly there would be many more Kievites participating in the protests if there was a way to take those idiots useful to the government out of the streets. Top of their demands is to give them jobs in the Security Service of Ukraine after the “victorious revolution”.
Anarchists ought to participate in demonstrations and pickets which are dedicated to defense of the rights and freedoms usurped by the laws of January 16th. It makes sense to take action at one’s workplace or neighborhood and to help sabotage the dictatorship’s decisions. There’s not much sense in participating in the activities in Grushevskogo street, which were meaningless from the very beginning. These activities only give the government pretty picture for television and enable it to identify radical elements by locating mobile phones and videotaping.
In the case of the opposition’s victory, as well as in the case of the government’s victory we’ll have to wage long and hard war against any of those regimes. This should be understood. We need to gather forces in order to start dictating our own libertarian and proletarian agenda in Ukrainian politics.
No gods, no masters! No nations, no borders!
Autonomous Workers’ Union, Kiev local
January 23, 2014
PLEASE SPREAD IT WORLDWIDE !!!
(english,spanish,french and greek)
~On the night of January 19 a boat with 28 refugees was caught by the Greek Coast Guard as it was trying to approach the shore of Farmakonisi, a Greek island. The Greek Coast Guard vessel instead of towing them ashore started to push them back towards the Turkish coast. As a result the boat was sunk and 12 of them – 9 children, 3 women – were drowned. This is a picture of one the survivors explaining how he lost his family. The Greek government has an official policy of “making Greece unhospitable” for refugees, These deaths are murders. Murders by the Greek government. Murders by the EU and its ‘Fortress Europe’ strategy. were drowned. This is a picture of one the survivors explaining how he lost his family. The Greek government has an official policy of “making Greece unhospitable” for refugees, These deaths are murders. Murders by the Greek government. Murders by the EU and its ‘Fortress Europe’ strategy.
~Marinos griegos de la guardia costera hicieron voltear apropósito un barco con inmigrantes de Afganistán y Siria y no salvaron las personas que estaban ahogando. 11 personas de los cuales muchos niños de 1 hasta 10 años de edad ahogaron. Solo después salvaron los demás. Difundan la noticia para que el mundo se entere de los criminales comportamientos de la marina griega, que están cumpliendo con los ordenes del gobierno fascista griego.
Dans la nuit du 19 janvier ,une barque avec des refugies venant d’Afganistan et de Syrie,fut decouverte par une patrouille maritime grecque pendant qu’elle essayait de se rapprocher de l’ile grecque de Agathonissi..La patrouille maritime grecque,au lieu de les amener sur terre grecque,a essaye (contre toute loi internationale) ,en attachant une corde reliant la barque au navire maritime,de les trainer vers les cotes turques..tout ceci en grande vitesse,et le resultat fut que la barque a commence a prendre l’eau et malgre les cris des immigres qu’il y avait des enfants a bord,12 personnes ont ete noyees ,9 enfants et 3 femmes..il y a le temoignage des rescapes qui parlent de meurtre volontaire car les gardes maritimes ont ,semble t-il,empeche les gens qui se noyaient,a monter a bord.
Ceci est une photo d’un des rescapes de cette tragedie.
Tragedie-meurtre qui a pour responsables ,le gouvernement fasciste grec ,mais aussi l’ Union européenne et sa politique de ”forteresse d’Europe.”
Video with the refugees arriving at the port of Piraeus
This is not the only case, as regularly we hear news of boat-people “disappearing”, “accidentaly drowning” etc.
Please share this photo
P.S. There are 24 concentration camps in Greece where thousands of immigrants are jailed, without them being accused of anything, while the Greek Junta receives more than 200 million euro every year from Europe to cover their expenses and/or repatriation. “Nobody” knows where this money goes”
Eyewitnesses accuse the Greek Coast Guard of drowning migrants off the coast of the island of Farmakonisi.
As UNHCR reports: “According to survivors’ testimonies, the Coast Guard boat towing their vessel was heading, at high speed, towards the Turkish coast, when the tragic incident happened amid rough seas. The same witnesses said people were screaming for help, since there was a large number of children on the boat”.
International organisations have condemned, several times, the refoulement policy against migrants entering Greece without papers.
UNHCR has requested explanations in the past from the Greek authorities about the mysterious “disappearance” of dozens of migrants by the Greek police, under circumstances that caused an international outcry against the Greek government.
In other cases, residents of peripheral islands have denounced that migrants surrendering to the port authorities, in order to be transferred to reception centres, never arrive there.
The full announcement of the UNHCR:
“UNHCR expresses its concern for the continued loss of human lives at sea, on the occasion of the incident in Farmakonisi.
A fishing boat with 28 people onboard (25 Afghans and 3 Syrians), including many women and children, was overturned and sank in the early hours of Monday, Jan. 21, 2014, in the sea area of Farmakonisi. 16 of those on board were collected by the Coast Guard. A woman and a 5 year old child were found dead near the Turkish coast, while 10 more people (2 women and 8 infants and young children) are missing.
A UNHCR team went on Tuesday, Jan. 22, to the island of Leros, where the survivors had been transferred by the Coast Guard, and talked with them as well as the Port Authority.
According to information from the Port Authority, the boat had been detected by the Coast Guard at midnight, Sunday, January 20, immobilised and without navigation lights and, taking into account the situation and the bad weather conditions, a salvage operation was launched to tow it towards Farmakonisi. During the operation, a large number of those on board were gathered on one side of the boat, which resulted in its overturn and sinking.
However, according to survivors’ testimonies, the Coast Guard boat towing their vessel was heading, at high speed, towards the Turkish coast, when the tragic incident happened amid rough seas. The same witnesses said people were screaming for help, since there was a large number of children on the boat.
“UNHCR urges the authorities to investigate the circumstances under which the incident occurred, and how lives were lost in a boat under towing”, Laurens Jolles, Regional Representative of the High Commissioner for Southern Europe, said.
The UN Organisation for Refugees has made an appeal to European and other countries’ governments to work together in order to reduce casualties, when dangerous passages in the Mediterranean and other key maritime borders are followed.
The Organisation notes the need for further strengthening of the rescue operations at sea, and the creation of channels for legal migration so that dangerous, irregular movements are avoided.
Source: Infowar Translator: Eleni Nicolaou
”Ο λιμενικός τη κλωτσούσε, την πέταξε μέσα στη θάλασσα και πέταξε και το μωρό από την άλλη πλευρά της βάρκας”
Ο Νασίμ Λομανί , μέλος του Δικτύου Κοινωνικής Υποστήριξης Προσφύγων και Μεταναστών μεταφέρει σοκαριστικές καταγγελίες για το λιμενικό απο τις μαρτυρίες των διασωθέντων προσφύγων.
Η βάρκα των προσφύγων είχε σχεδόν φτάσει στις ελληνικές ακτές όταν τους εντόπισε το ελληνικό λιμενικό.
Οι λιμενικοί έδεσαν τη βάρκα πάνω στο σκάφος προκειμένου να τους επαναπροωθήσουν παράνομα πίσω στη Τουρκία.
Όπως προκύπτει τα σκάφος έτρεχε με τόσο μεγάλη ταχύτητα που έσπασε το σκοινί που κρατούσε τη βάρκα.
“Ο κόσμος σχεδόν σκορπιζόταν στη θάλασσα. Στο πρώτο χτύπημα τρύπησε η βάρκα των προσφύγων και γέμισε νερό και τότε άρχισαν να πέφτουν τα παιδιά στη θάλασσα” λέει ο Νασίμ Λομανί επικαλούμενος τις μαρτυρίες των διασωθέντων που έφτασαν στο Πειραιά.
«Τους απωθούσαν και δεν τους άφηναν να μπουν μέσα στη βάρκα του λιμενικό.
Μια γυναίκα είπε πως ενώ κρατούσε το πόδι ενός λιμενικού για να μπει μέσα στη βάρκα, αυτός τη κλωτσούσε και την πέταξε μέσα στη θάλασσα και πέταξε και το μωρό από την άλλη πλευρά”.
Οι λιμενικοί “έσβησαν το προβολέα που είχαν αναμμένο εκείνη την ώρα για να μην φαίνεται από τις τουρκικές ακτές τι συνέβαινε μέσα στη θάλασσα”
λέει ο κ. Λομανί
Henry Rossof, pictured far left.
By Brendan Kiley of The Stranger:
A couple of hours ago, a King County Superior Court judge declined to press charges against a young man named Brendan McCormack who had been accused of vandalizing bank ATMs in the Capitol Hill area late last year.
There was not enough evidence, the judge said, to link McCormack to the crimes, despite the prosecutor’s insistence that he was a “self-proclaimed anarchist” and the vandalized bank machines had been spray-painted with the old circle-A. An anarchist does not a vandal make. (If McCormack is even an anarchist to begin with—he is an activist and has been approached and photographed by police at political demonstrations, but “self-proclaimed anarchist” are the prosecutor’s words, not his.)
Earlier in the week, Seattle police officers searched McCormack’s apartment looking for a skateboard helmet, some goggles, a scarf, a backpack, and other items they say they recognized from grainy, surveillance-video footage of the ATM vandal.
According to the search warrant, officers seized a backpack, a helmet, and so on from his and his roommate’s apartment, as well as a crowbar, a thumb drive (containing his resume), cell phones, and a few other items.
But being seen at demonstrations and owning commonplace items that appeared in surveillance footage was not, the judge concluded, sufficient to charge McCormack with the seven counts of malicious mischief the prosecutor was after, which could have led to years in prison, as well as becoming a felon.
So far, so insignificant. But check out the way KIRO 7 handled the story:
Not only do they fall for the whole “violence is vandalism” fallacy—smashing an ATM is not violence, unless you consider people the moral equivalent of property—they repeatedly proclaim his guilt before he’s even been charged.
“Henry, you came face-to-face with this guy today,” says the anchor (as if a guy accused of vandalism were a tiger with rabies). “I did,” reporter Henry Rossof says, “that’s after we took a look at this search warrant where you can see he was caught on camera.” Um, that’s not what the judge said today.
Then Rossof approaches McCormack at his door, shoves a mic in his face, and states: “We were just wondering why you smashed up those banks.”
That’s not even a question. That’s an assertion. And, again, not what the judge said this afternoon. (I spoke with Rossof on the phone this afternoon, but he would not be able to comment unless his executive editor gave the go-ahead.)
Call me old-fashioned, but a reporter assuming someone is guilty of a crime—twice—because a) the police say so, and b) he’s got some unusual political affiliations seems like a problem.
And my fellow reporters wonder why anarchists (and other radicals) don’t seem to like us very much.
The text is from my copy of Emma Goldman’s Anarchism and Other Essays. Second Revised Edition. New York & London: Mother Earth Publishing Association, 1911. pp. 151-172
EXPERIENCE has come to be considered the best school of life. The man or woman who does not learn some vital lesson in that school is looked upon as a dunce indeed. Yet strange to say, that though organized institutions continue perpetuating errors, though they learn nothing from experience, we acquiesce, as a matter of course.
There lived and worked in Barcelona a man by the name of Francisco Ferrer. A teacher of children he was, known and loved by his people. Outside of Spain only the cultured few knew of Francisco Ferrer’s work. To the world at large this teacher was non-existent.
On the first of September, 1909, the Spanish government–at the behest of the Catholic Church–arrested Francisco Ferrer. On the thirteenth of October, after a mock trial, he was placed in the ditch at Montjuich prison, against the hideous wall of many sighs, and shot dead. Instantly Ferrer, the obscure teacher, became a universal figure, blazing forth the indignation and wrath of the whole civilized world against the wanton murder.
The killing of Francisco Ferrer was not the first crime committed by the Spanish government and the Catholic Church. The history of these institutions is one long stream of fire and blood. Still they have not learned through experience, nor yet come to realize that every frail being slain by Church and State grows and grows into a mighty giant, who will some day free humanity from their perilous hold.
Francisco Ferrer was born in 1859, of humble parents. They were Catholics, and therefore hoped to raise their son in the same faith. They did not know that the boy was to become the harbinger of a great truth, that his mind would refuse to travel in the old path. At an early age Ferrer began to question the faith of his fathers. He demanded to know how it is that the God who spoke to him of goodness and love would mar the sleep of the innocent child with dread and awe of tortures, of suffering, of hell. Alert and of a vivid and investigating mind, it did not take him long to discover the hideousness of that black monster, the Catholic Church. He would have none of it.
Francisco Ferrer was not only a doubter, a searcher for truth; he was also a rebel. His spirit would rise in just indignation against the iron régime of his country, and when a band of rebels, led by the brave patriot General Villacampa, under the banner of the Republican ideal, made an onslaught on that regime, none was more ardent a fighter than young Francisco Ferrer. The Republican ideal,–I hope no one will confound it with the Republicanism of this country. Whatever objection I, as an Anarchist, have to the Republicans of Latin countries, I know they tower high above that corrupt and reactionary party which, in America, is destroying every vestige of liberty and justice. One has but to think of the Mazzinis, the Garibaldis, the scores of others, to realize that their efforts were directed, not merely against the overthrow of despotism, but particularly against the Catholic Church, which from its very inception has been the enemy of all progress and liberalism.
In America it is just the reverse. Republicanism stands for vested rights, for imperialism, for graft, for the annihilation of every semblance of liberty. Its ideal is the oily, creepy respectability of a McKinley, and the brutal arrogance of a Roosevelt.
The Spanish republican rebels were subdued. It takes more than one brave effort to split the rock of ages, to cut off the head of that hydra monster, the Catholic Church and the Spanish throne. Arrest, persecution, and punishment followed the heroic attempt of the little band. Those who could escape the bloodhounds had to flee for safety to foreign shores. Francisco Ferrer was among the latter. He went to France.
How his soul must have expanded in the new land! France, the cradle of liberty, of ideas, of action. Paris, the ever young, intense Paris, with her pulsating life, after the gloom of his own belated country,–how she must have inspired him. What opportunities, what a glorious chance for a young idealist.
Francisco Ferrer lost no time. Like one famished he threw himself into the various liberal movements, met all kinds of people, learned, absorbed, and grew. While there, he also saw in operation the Modern School, which was to play such an important and fatal part in his life.
The Modern School in France was founded long before Ferrer’s time. Its originator, though on a small scale, was that sweet spirit Louise Michel. Whether consciously or unconsciously, our own great Louise felt long ago that the future belongs to the young generation; that unless the young be rescued from that mind and soul-destroying institution, the bourgeois school, social evils will continue to exist. Perhaps she thought, with Ibsen, that the atmosphere is saturated with ghosts, that the adult man and woman have so many superstitions to overcome. No sooner do they outgrow the deathlike grip of one spook, lo! they find themselves in the thraldom of ninety-nine other spooks. Thus but a few reach the mountain peak of complete regeneration.
The child, however, has no traditions to overcome. Its mind is not burdened with set ideas, its heart has not grown cold with class and caste distinctions. The child is to the teacher what clay is to the sculptor. Whether the world will receive a work of art or a wretched imitation, depends to a large extent on the creative power of the teacher.
Louise Michel was pre-eminently qualified to meet the child’s soul cravings. Was she not herself of a childlike nature, so sweet and tender, unsophisticated and generous? The soul of Louise burned always at white heat over every social injustice. She was invariably in the front ranks whenever the people of Paris rebelled against some wrong. And as she was made to suffer imprisonment for her great devotion to the oppressed, the little school on Montmartre was soon no more. But the seed was planted and has since borne fruit in many cities of France.
The most important venture of a Modern School was that of the great young old man Paul Robin. Together with a few friends he established a large school at Cempuis, a beautiful place near Paris. Paul Robin aimed at a higher ideal than merely modern ideas in education. He wanted to demonstrate by actual facts that the burgeois conception of heredity is but a mere pretext to exempt society from its terrible crimes against the young. The contention that the child must suffer for the sins of the fathers, that it must continue in poverty and filth, that it must grow up a drunkard or criminal, just because its parents left it no other legacy, was too preposterous to the beautiful spirit of Paul Robin. He believed that whatever part heredity may play, there are other factors equally great, if not greater, that may and will eradicate or minimize the so-called first cause. Proper economic and social environment, the breath and freedom of nature, healthy exercise, love and sympathy, and, above all, a deep understanding for the needs of the child–these would destroy the cruel, unjust, and criminal stigma imposed on the innocent young.
Paul Robin did not select his children; he did not go to the so-called best parents: he took his material wherever he could find it. From the street, the hovels, the orphan and foundling asylums, the reformatories, from all those gray and hideous places where a benevolent society hides its victims in order to pacify its guilty conscience. He gathered all the dirty, filthy, shivering little waifs his place would hold, and brought them to Cempuis. There, surrounded by nature’s own glory, free and unrestrained, well fed, clean kept, deeply loved and understood, the little human plants began to grow, to blossom, to develop beyond even the expectations of their friend and teacher, Paul Robin.
The children grew and developed into self-reliant, liberty-loving men and women. What greater danger to the institutions that make the poor in order to perpetuate the poor? Cempuis was closed by the French government on the charge of co-education, which is prohibited in France. However, Cempuis had been in operation long enough to prove to all advanced educators its tremendous possibilities, and to serve as an impetus for modern methods of education, that are slowly but inevitably undermining the present system.
Cempuis was followed by a great number of other educational attempts,–among them, by Madelaine Vernet, a gifted writer and poet, author of l’Amour Libre, and Sebastian Faure, with his La Ruche,1which I visited while in Paris, in I907.
Several years ago Comrade Faure bought the land on which he built his La Ruche. In a comparatively short time he succeeded in transforming the former wild, uncultivated country into a blooming spot, having all the appearance of a well-kept farm. A large, square court, enclosed by three buildings, and a broad path leading to the garden and orchards, greet the eye of the visitor. The garden, kept as only a Frenchman knows how, furnishes a large variety of vegetables for La Ruche.
Sebastian Faure is of the opinion that if the child is subjected to contradictory influences, its development suffers in consequence. Only when the material needs, the hygiene of the home, and intellectual environment are harmonious, can the child grow into a healthy, free being.
Referring to his school, Sebastian Faure has this to say:
“I have taken twenty-four children of both sexes, mostly orphans, or those whose parents are too poor to pay. They are clothed, housed, and educated at my expense. Till their twelfth year they will receive a sound elementary education. Between the age of twelve and fifteen–their studies still continuing–they are to be taught some trade, in keeping with their individual disposition and abilities. After that they are at liberty to leave La Ruche to begin life in the outside world, with the assurance that they may at any time return to La Ruche, where they will be received with open arms and welcomed as parents do their beloved children. Then, if they wish to work at our place, they may do so under the following conditions: One third of the product to cover his or her expenses of maintenance, another third to go towards the general fund set aside for accommodating new children, and the last third to be devoted to the personal use of the child, as he or she may see fit.
“The health of the children who are now in my care is perfect. Pure air, nutritious food, physical exercise in the open, long walks, observation of hygienic rules, the short and interesting method of instruction, and, above all, our affectionate understanding and care of the children, have produced admirable physical and mental results.
“It would be unjust to claim that our pupils have accomplished wonders; yet, considering that they belong to the average, having had no previous opportunities, the results are very gratifying indeed. The most important thing they have acquired–a rare trait with ordinary school children–is the love of study, the desire to know, to be informed. They have learned a new method of work, one that quickens the memory and stimulates the imagination. We make a particular effort to awaken the child’s interest in his surroundings, to make him realize the importance of observation, investigation, and reflection, so that when the children reach maturity, they would not be deaf and blind to the things about them. Our children never accept anything in blind faith, without inquiry as to why and wherefore; nor do they feel satisfied until their questions are thoroughly answered. Thus their minds are free from doubts and fear resultant from incomplete or untruthful replies; it is the latter which warp the growth of the child, and create a lack of confidence in himself and those about him.
“It is surprising how frank and kind and affectionate our little ones are to each other. The harmony between themselves and the adults at La Ruche is highly encouraging. We should feel at fault if the children were to fear or honor us merely because we are their elders. We leave nothing undone to gain their confidence and love; that accomplished, understanding will replace duty; confidence, fear; and affection, severity.
“No one has yet fully realized the wealth of sympathy, kindness, and generosity hidden in the soul of the child. The effort of every true educator should be to unlock that treasure to stimulate the child’s impulses, and call forth the best and noblest tendencies. What greater reward can there be for one whose life-work is to watch over the growth of the human plant, than to see its nature unfold its petals, and to observe it develop into a true individuality. My comrades at La Ruche look for no greater reward, and it is due to them and their efforts, even more than to my own, that our human garden promises to bear beautiful fruit.”2
Regarding the subject of history and the prevailing old methods of instruction, Sebastian Faure said:
“We explain to our children that true history is yet to be written,–the story of those who have died, unknown, in the effort to aid humanity to greater achievement.”3
Francisco Ferrer could not escape this great wave of Modern School attempts. He saw its possibilities, not merely in theoretic form, but in their practical application to every-day needs. He must have realized that Spain, more than any other country, stands in need of just such schools, if it is ever to throw off the double yoke of priest and soldier.
When we consider that the entire system of education in Spain is in the hands of the Catholic Church, and when we further remember the Catholic formula, “To inculcate Catholicism in the mind of the child until it is nine years of age is to ruin it forever for any other idea,” we will understand the tremendous task of Ferrer in bringing the new light to his people. Fate soon assisted him in realizing his great dream.
Mlle. Meunier, a pupil of Francisco Ferrer, and a lady of wealth, became interested in the Modern School project. When she died, she left Ferrer some valuable property and twelve thousand francs yearly income for the School.
It is said that mean souls can conceive of naught but mean ideas. If so, the contemptible methods of the Catholic Church to blackguard Ferrer’s character, in order to justify her own black crime, can readily be explained. Thus the lie was spread in American Catholic papers that Ferrer used his intimacy with Mlle. Meunier to get passession of her money.
Personally, I hold that the intimacy, of whatever nature, between a man and a woman, is their own affair, their sacred own. I would therefore not lose a word in referring to the matter, if it were not one of the many dastardly lies circulated about Ferrer. Of course, those who know the purity of the Catholic clergy will understand the insinuation. Have the Catholic priests ever looked upon woman as anything but a sex commodity? The historical data regarding the discoveries in the cloisters and monasteries will bear me out in that. How, then, are they to understand the co-operation of a man and a woman, except on a sex basis?
As a matter of fact, Mlle. Meunier was considerably Ferrer’s senior. Having spent her childhood and girlhood with a miserly father and a submissive mother, she could easily appreciate the necessity of love and joy in child life. She must have seen that Francisco Ferrer was a teacher, not college, machine, or diploma-made, but one endowed with genius for that calling.
Equipped with knowledge, with experience, and with the necessary means; above all, imbued with the divine fire of his mission, our Comrade came back to Spain, and there began his life’s work. On the ninth of September, 1901, the first Modern School was opened. It was enthusiastically received by the people of Barcelona, who pledged their support. In a short address at the opening of the School, Ferrer submitted his program to his friends. He said: “I am not a speaker, not a propagandist, not a fighter. I am a teacher; I love children above everything. I think I understand them. I want my contribution to the cause of liberty to be a young generation ready to meet a new era.” He was cautioned by his friends to be careful in his opposition to the Catholic Church. They knew to what lengths she would go to dispose of an enemy. Ferrer, too, knew. But, like Brand, he believed in all or nothing. He would not erect the Modern School on the same old lie. He would be frank and honest and open with the children.
Francisco Ferrer became a marked man. From the very first day of the opening of the School, he was shadowed. The school building was watched his little home in Mangat was watched. He was followed every step, even when he went to France or England to confer with his colleagues. He was a marked man, and it was only a question of time when the lurking enemy would tighten the noose.
It succeeded, almost, in 1906, when Ferrer was implicated in the attempt on the life of Alfonso. The evidence exonerating him was too strong even for the black crows;4 they had to let him go–not for good, however. They waited. Oh, they can wait, when they have set themselves to trap a victim.
The moment came at last, during the anti-military uprising in Spain, in July, 1909. One will have to search in vain the annals of revolutionary history to find a more remarkable protest against militarism. Having been soldier-ridden for centuries, the people of Spain could stand the yoke no longer. They would refuse to participate in useless slaughter. They saw no reason for aiding a despotic government in subduing and oppressing a small people fighting for their independence, as did the brave Riffs. No, they would not bear arms against them.
For eighteen hundred years the Catholic Church has preached the gospel of peace. Yet, when the people actually wanted to make this gospel a living reality, she urged the authorities to force them to bear arms. Thus the dynasty of Spain followed the murderous methods of the Russian dynasty,–the people were forced to the battlefield.
Then, and not until then, was their power of endurance at an end. Then, and not until then, did the workers of Spain turn against their masters, against those who, like leeches, had drained their strength, their very life–blood. Yes, they attacked the churches and the priests, but if the latter had a thousand lives, they could not possibly pay for the terrible outrages and crimes perpetrated upon the Spanish people.
Francisco Ferrer was arrested on the first of September, 1909. Until October first his friends and comrades did not even know what had become of him. On that day a letter was received by L’Humanité from which can be learned the whole mockery of the trial. And the next day his companion, Soledad Villafranca, received the following letter:
“No reason to worry; you know I am absolutely innocent. Today I am particularly hopeful and joyous. It is the first time I can write to you, and the first time since my arrest that I can bathe in the rays of the sun, streaming generously through my cell window. You, too, must be joyous.”
How pathetic that Ferrer should have believed, as late as October fourth, that he would not be condemned to death. Even more pathetic that his friends and comrades should once more have made the blunder in crediting the enemy with a sense of justice. Time and again they had placed faith in the judicial powers, only to see their brothers killed before their very eyes. They made no preparation to rescue Ferrer, not even a protest of any extent; nothing. “Why, it is impossible to condemn Ferrer; he is innocent.” But everything is possible with the Catholic Church. Is she not a practiced henchman, whose trials of her enemies are the worst mockery of justice ?
On October fourth Ferrer sent the following letter to L’Humanite:
“The Prison Cell, Oct. 4, 1909.
“My dear Friends–Notwithstanding most absolute innocence, the prosecutor demands the death penalty, based on denunciations of the police, representing me as the chief of the world’s Anarchists, directing the labor syndicates of France, and guilty of conspiracies and insurrections everywhere, and declaring that my voyages to London and Paris were undertaken with no other object.
“With such infamous lies they are trying to kill me.
“The messenger is about to depart and I have not time for more. All the evidence presented to the investigating judge by the police is nothing but a tissue of lies and calumnious insinuations. But no proofs against me, having done nothing at all.
October thirteenth, 1909, Ferrer’s heart, so brave, so staunch, so loyal, was stilled. Poor fools! The last agonized throb of that heart had barely died away when it began to beat a hundredfold in the hearts of the civilized world, until it grew into terrific thunder, hurling forth its malediction upon the instigators of the black crime. Murderers of black garb and pious mien, to the bar of justice!
Did Francisco Ferrer participate in the anti-military uprising? According to the first indictment, which appeared in a Catholic paper in Madrid, signed by the Bishop and all the prelates of Barcelona, he was not even accused of participation. The indictment was to the effect that Francisco Ferrer was guilty of having organized godless schools, and having circulated godless literature. But in the twentieth century men can not be burned merely for their godless beliefs. Something else had to be devised; hence the charge of instigating the uprising.
In no authentic source so far investigated could a single proof be found to connect Ferrer with the uprising. But then, no proofs were wanted, or accepted, by the authorities. There were seventy-two witnesses, to be sure, but their testimony was taken on paper. They never were confronted with Ferrer, or he with them.
Is it psychologically possible that Ferrer should have participated? I do not believe it is, and here are my reasons. Francisco Ferrer was not only a great teacher, but he was also undoubtedly a marvelous organizer. In eight years, between 1901-1909, he had organized in Spain one hundred and nine schools, besides inducing the liberal element of his country to organize three hundred and eight other schools. In connection with his own school work, Ferrer had equipped a modern printing plant, organized a staff of translators, and spread broadcast one hundred and fifty thousand copies of modern scientific and sociologic works, not to forget the large quantity of rationalist text books. Surely none but the most methodical and efficient organizer could have accomplished such a feat.
On the other hand, it was absolutely proven that the anti-military uprising was not at all organized; that it came as a surprise to the people themselves, like a great many revolutionary waves on previous occasions. The people of Barcelona, for instance, had the city in their control for four days, and, according to the statement of tourists, greater order and peace never prevailed. Of course, the people were so little prepared that when the time came, they did not know what to do. In this regard they were like the people of Paris during the Commune of 1871. They, too, were unprepared. While they were starving, they protected the warehouses filled to the brim with provisions. They placed sentinels to guard the Bank of France, where the bourgeoisie kept the stolen money. The workers of Barcelona, too, watched over the spoils of their masters.
How pathetic is the stupidity of the underdog; how terribly tragic! But, then, have not his fetters been forged so deeply into his flesh, that he would not, even if he could, break them? The awe of authority, of law, of private property, hundredfold burned into his soul,–how is he to throw it off unprepared, unexpectedly?
Can anyone assume for a moment that a man like Ferrer would affiliate himself with such a spontaneous, unorganized effort? Would he not have known that it would result in a defeat, a disastrous defeat for the people? And is it not more likely that if he would have taken part, he, the experienced entrepreneur, would have thoroughly organized the attempt? If all other proofs were lacking, that one factor would be sufficient to exonerate Francisco Ferrer. But there are others equally convincing.
For the very date of the outbreak, July twenty-fifth, Ferrer had called a conference of his teachers and members of the League of Rational Education. It was to consider the autumn work, and particularly the publication of Elisée Reclus’ great book, L’Homme et la Terre, and Peter Kropotkin’s Great French Revolution. Is it at all likely, is it at all plausible that Ferrer, knowing of the uprising, being a party to it, would in cold blood invite his friends and colleagues to Barcelona for the day on which he realized their lives would be endangered? Surely, only the criminal, vicious mind of a Jesuit could credit such deliberate murder.
Francisco Ferrer had his life-work mapped out; he had everything to lose and nothing to gain, except ruin and disaster, were he to lend assistance to the outbreak. Not that he doubted the justice of the people’s wrath; but his work, his hope, his very nature was directed toward another goal.
In vain are the frantic efforts of the Catholic Church, her lies, falsehoods, calumnies. She stands condemned by the awakened human conscience of having once more repeated the foul crimes of the past.
Francisco Ferrer is accused of teaching the children the most blood-curdling ideas,–to hate God, for instance. Horrors! Francisco Ferrer did not believe in the existence of a God. Why teach the child to hate something which does not exist? Is it not more likely that he took the children out into the open, that he showed them the splendor of the sunset, the brilliancy of the starry heavens, the awe-inspiring wonder of the mountains and seas; that he explained to them in his simple, direct way the law of growth, of development, of the interrelation of all life? In so doing he made it forever impossible for the poisonous weeds of the Catholic Church to take root in the child’s mind.
It has been stated that Ferrer prepared the children to destroy the rich. Ghost stories of old maids. Is it not more likely that he prepared them to succor the poor? That he taught them the humiliation, the degradation, the awfulness of poverty, which is a vice and not a virtue; that he taught the dignity and importance of all creative efforts, which alone sustain life and build character. Is it not the best and most effective way of bringing into the proper light the absolute uselessness and injury of parasitism?
Last, but not least, Ferrer is charged with undermining the army by inculcating anti-military ideas. Indeed? He must have believed with Tolstoy that war is legalized slaughter, that it perpetuates hatred and arrogance, that it eats away the heart of nations, and turns them into raving maniacs.
However, we have Ferrer’s own word regarding his ideas of modern education:
“I would like to call the attention of my readers to this idea: All the value of education rests in the respect for the physical, intellectual, and moral will of the child. Just as in science no demonstration is possible save by facts, just so there is no real education save that which is exempt from all dogmatism, which leaves to the child itself the direction of its effort, and confines itself to the seconding of its effort. Now, there is nothing easier than to alter this purpose, and nothing harder than to respect it. Education is always imposing, violating, constraining; the real educator is he who can best protect the child against his (the teacher’s) own ideas, his peculiar whims; he who can best appeal to the child’s own energies.
“We are convinced that the education of the future will be of an entirely spontaneous nature; certainly we can not as yet realize it, but the evolution of methods in the direction of a wider comprehension of the phenomena of life, and the fact that all advances toward perfection mean the overcoming of restraint,–all this indicates that we are in the right when we hope for the deliverance of the child through science.
“Let us not fear to say that we want men capable of evolving without stopping, capable of destroying and renewing their environments without cessation, of renewing themselves also; men, whose intellectual independence will be their greatest force, who will attach themselves to nothing, always ready to accept what is best, happy in the triumph of new ideas, aspiring to live multiple lives in one life. Society fears such men; we therefore must not hope that it will ever want an education able to give them to us.
“We shall follow the labors of the scientists who study the child with the greatest attention, and we shall eagerly seek for means of applying their experience to the education which we want to build up, in the direction of an ever fuller liberation of the individual. But how can we attain our end? Shall it not be by putting ourselves directly to the work favoring the foundation of new schools, which shall be ruled as much as possible by this spirit of liberty, which we forefeel will dominate the entire work of education in the future?
“A trial has been made, which, for the present, has already given excellent results. We can destroy all which in the present school answers to the organization of constraint, the artificial surroundings by which children are separated from nature and life, the intellectual and moral discipline made use of to impose ready-made ideas upon them, beliefs which deprave and annihilate natural bent. Without fear of deceiving ourselves, we can restore the child to the environment which entices it, the environment of nature in which he will be in contact with all that he loves, and in which impressions of life will replace fastidious book-learning. If we did no more than that, we should already have prepared in great part the deliverance of the child.
“In such conditions we might already freely apply the data of science and labor most fruitfully.
“I know very well we could not thus realize all our hopes, that we should often be forced, for lack of knowledge, to employ undesirable methods; but a certitude would sustain us in our efforts–namely, that even without reaching our aim completely we should do more and better in our still imperfect work than the present school accomplishes. I like the free spontaneity of a child who knows nothing, better than the world-knowledge and intellectual deformity of a child who has been subjected to our present education.”5
Had Ferrer actually organized the riots, had he fought on the barricades, had he hurled a hundred bombs, he could not have been so dangerous to the Catholic Church and to despotism, as with his opposition to discipline and restraint. Discipline and restraint–are they not back of all the evils in the world? Slavery, submission, poverty, all misery, all social iniquities result from discipline and restraint. Indeed, Ferrer was dangerous. Therefore he had to die, October thirteenth, 1909, in the ditch of Montjuich. Yet who dare say his death was in vain? In view of the tempestuous rise of universal indignation: Italy naming streets in memory of Francisco Ferrer, Belgium inaugurating a movement to erect a memorial; France calling to the front her most illustrious men to resume the heritage of the martyr; England being the first to issue a biography; all countries uniting in perpetuating the great work of Francisco Ferrer; America, even, tardy always in progressive ideas, giving birth to a Francisco Ferrer Association, its aim being to publish a complete life of Ferrer and to organize Modern Schools all over the country,–in the face of this international revolutionary wave, who is there to say Ferrer died in vain?
That death at Montjuich,–how wonderful, how dramatic it was, how it stirs the human soul. Proud and erect, the inner eye turned toward the light, Francisco Ferrer needed no lying priests to give him courage, nor did he upbraid a phantom for forsaking him. The consciousness that his executioners represented a dying age, and that his was the living truth, sustained him in the last heroic moments.
A dying age and a living truth,
The living burying the dead.
ULTIMA ORA – MADRID – CONVOCATI DOMANI ALLE 10 – TUTTI I POMPIERI DAVANTI AL TRIBUNALE DI PIAZZA CASTIGLIA!
YESTERDAY in Seville, the SEVILLAN@S United to BURGOS : “you are not alone, missing prisoners,” “We are all Burgos”, “Sevilla will be the tomb of Franco”, etc… were around 100 people.
The Picture of Spain: Image of the arrest, Madrid afternoon of January 15. # GamonalResiste
Police have arrested a member of the Fire Department in Madrid after the incidents on Wednesday after the departure of support to residents of Gamonal, who has toured the streets of the Centre of the capital. The arrest took place in the Barbara of Braganza street of Madrid where Fire Department worked to turn a burning container.