Anarchy Is Not Chaos, Peace Is Not Chaos - by Mark E. Smith

I knew nothing about the Spanish revolution until recently, but
reading some books has been very enlightening. Here's a portion from a
chapter called "The Clandestine Revolution," in the book Durruti in
the Spanish Revolution
by Abel Paz, that I've just finished
reading--this happened when the anarchist Durruti, who never accepted
any rank or acknowledged being a leader in any way, was leading a
column against the government forces:

--------------------------
While travelling from Bujaraloz to Barcelona, Durruti witnessed the
change that the revolution had made both in people and circumstances.
The whirlwind of the first days of the battle had passed and the
peasants and workers were now focused on changing their ways of life
and creating new social relationships. The people were still armed and
guarded the entrances of their villages. There was no trace of Assault
or Civil Guards at these checkpoints: it was the proletarians who
defended the revolutionary order.

Durruti stopped his car at a checkpoint at a town in the Lerida
province. He presented himself as a militiaman leaving the front for
the rearguard and requested gasoline for his vehicle. By doing this he
wanted to see how the peasants' behavior had changed in that small
town of some three thousand residents. A militiaman told him that he
should speak to the town Committee in the old mayor's office. They'd
give him the "OK" that he needed to fill his car with gas.

Durruti crossed the town's main square. It was around noon. The square
was empty except for some women leaving the church with a basket of
goods. Durruti asked them how to get to the Committee and also if mass
was being officiated in the church.

"No, no," they responded. "There's no priest. The priest is working in
the field with the other men. Kill him? Why kill him? He isn't
dangerous. He even talks about going to live with a town girl.
Besides, he's very happy with everything that is happening."

"But the church is right there," said Durruti, while pointing.

"Ah, yes, the church. Why destroy it? The statues were removed and
burned in the square. God no longer exists. He's been expelled from
here. And, since God doesn't exist, the assembly decided to replace
the word 'adios' [with God] with 'salud' [cheers]. The Cooperative now
occupies the church and, because everything is collectivized, it
supplies the town."

Durruti came across an elderly man when he entered what was once the
mayor's office. It was the town's former schoolteacher, who had been
replaced by a young teacher from Lerida three months earlier. The old
man had been inactive during those months but, when the revolution
broke out, he volunteered to look after the town's administrative
needs and assure the continued operation of the Town Committee. The
other members of the Committee were working in the fields. They
gathered at nightfall to discuss pressing matters that had come up
during the day or tasks that they needed to accomplish the next day.
At the time, they had to focus on taking in the harvest. Since the
town's young people had volunteered to go fight on the front, the
remaining residents had to do the work.

"But don't think," the retired teacher said, "that the work weighs on
anyone. We work for ourselves now, for everyone."

Durruti asked him how they had selected the members of the Committee.
Durruti's straightforward and simple air inspired the teacher's trust,
who took him as one of the many curious militiamen from the city who
wanted to see what was happening in the towns.

"We held a town assembly," he said, "and considered everyone's
abilities and also their conduct before the revolution. That's how we
appointed the Committee."

"And what about the political parties?" Durruti said.

"Parties? There are some old Republicans like myself and some
Socialists too; but no, the political parties haven't played any role.
During our assembly, we considered a person's ability and conduct and
appointed those who seemed best to us. It was no more complicated than
that. The Committee represents the people and it's to the people that
it has to answer."

Durruti asked about the parties again.

"The parties?" the teacher replied, intrigued by his insistence. "Why
do we need political parties? You work to eat and eat if you work.
Party politics don't sow wheat, gather olives, or tan animal hides.
No, our problems are collective and we have to solve them
collectively. Politics divides and our town wants to be united, in
total community."

"By all appearances, everyone is happy here. But what about the old
landowners?" Durruti inquired.

"They aren't happy," the teacher responded. "They don't say so
outright, because they're afraid, but you can see it on their faces.
Some have joined the community, others have chosen what we now call
'individualism.' They've kept their land but have to cultivate it
themselves, because the exploitation of man by man no longer exists
here, and so they won't find any employees."

"But what happens if they can't cultivate their land themselves?"

"That simply shows that they have too much land and the town takes
what they can't tend to. Leaving the land uncultivated would be an
attack on all of us."

Durruti said goodbye to the teacher, and when he returned to the
checkpoint, the workers on guard asked him if he'd received the
gasoline that he needed. He told them yes with a smile and threw them
a "Salud!" from the car as he took off for Barcelona.
------------------------------

As they did in Germany, the Communists in Spain paved the way for fascism by killing or
co-opting the anarchists along with anyone else who opposed governmental militarism.
The Communists insisted that organization was necessary in order to defeat fascism. But
the unorganized anarchists had been defeating fascism, and once the Communists
took over, fascism prevailed. The Communists wanted to "fight fascism" by using
the very military discipline that is the essence of fascism, and fascism, particularly when
it is playing fascism's game by fascism's rules, can never defeat fascism.

Governments have to tax the people in order to support themselves, as governments do not work. And
when people are taxed, governments use their taxes to try to conquer more people to govern and tax,
so they need more taxes for wars, which are the purpose of governments. Governments create
classes by putting one class of people, those in government, above everyone else, and then use
violence to keep the people subordinated to government. It is a lie that governments are necessary and
it is an even bigger lie that without government there would be chaos. Without government there would
be peace, and as long as people believe the lie that peace is chaos, there can only be war.

 

 

Ridiculous roles.

You got it, CoolD. They really are ridiculous roles. And people identify fully, as in, "I'm a truck driver," "I'm the Mayor," or "I'm a teacher." To recognize that we are more than what we do is to start to have a real identity as a person. I laughed the other evening when I was washing my dishes and thought, "I'm the dishwasher." Of course I'm not a dishwashing machine (nor do I have or want one), and I'm not a professional or career dishwasher (although I've done that job in a hospital kitchen). I just wash my dishes when I've got dirty dishes to wash, and I'd still be me if I ate off of banana leaves and composted them when I was done eating. Identifying people by what they do is as ridiculous as forcing people to do only one thing instead of a full range of human activities including whatever needs doing at the moment. Even when one has a calling, a gift, or an obsession, that's not a full identity. A person can be a student, a lover, a parent, a gardener, and still be an artist or musician. We don't have to be broken down into trades. If we want to reach our full potential, we have to stop cramming ourselves into buttonholes. It's convenient for capitalists to categorize us by what we do for them, but if we're ever to keep the value of our labor it has to be all our labor, not just our particular individual skills, gifts, or specialties, but also whatever else we do in the course of living our lives. I knew there was something that bothered me about trades, and it is starting to make more sense. There's some tradition in India, I think, that says we should try to master all the trades there are, on our paths to whatever. I like that one. Of course we can't master everything, but we can always learn, and we are always more than just what we do. We're also more than what we will do tomorrow or in the distant future, and we don't even know what that will be. ;)

 

Great link! Thanks, D!

I too have difficulties reading online, and I'm already on dial-up, which makes it even more difficult. But weighed against the cost of buying books, it is worth the effort.

People know what to do when they're free. They do what needs to be done, but they stop doing all the things that they'd resented before they were free. Stupid rituals and other wastes of precious time are abandoned. Treating each other in artificial ways is no longer necessary when everyone is equal. Those who had to assume ridiculous roles are free to be themselves again and most are happier for it. Those who cling to possessions and have no regard for people are the ones who have problems, particularly if they had no other identity or claim to status than their possessions. But most can adapt. We're extremely adaptable creatures. And it really isn't difficult to adapt to being able to keep the value of one's labor instead of having to give it to an overlord. As for the former overlords, much of the reason they needed so many possessions was so that they could pay for troops to guard their possessions. Once rid of their burdens, they no longer have the stress involved and those who need the stress can always leave.

"Those who cling to

"Those who cling to possessions and have no regard for people are the ones who have problems, particularly if they had no other identity or claim to status than their possessions."

So true, Mark.  I hope I live to see the day when I'll be able to keep the value of my labor and stop assuming ridiculous roles.

 - Deb

After I reposted your essay

After I reposted your essay on FB, someone commented by saying I should also read, With the Peasants of Aragon: Libertarian Communism in the Liberated Areas, by Augustin Souchy Bauer.  I was thinking of checking it out along with Durruti in the Spanish Revolution, by Abel Paz through interlibrary loan at work and then I happened upon this link, http://www.anarchosyndicalism.net/archive/text/aragon#Introduction, and thought I'd share it with you (if you haven't read it already) and with any visitors to Fubar who are interested. The site has a goldmine of texts on Anarchism in Spain, in fact, if you don't have trouble reading online.  I prefer books, myself (kinder to my myopia/astigmatism), but if I increase the text size it works out okay (in spurts).  Plus it helps if you have a cable or DSL connection - something I may not have too much longer.  That's just the way the cookie is crumbling these days, and I'm not all that thrilled about funding the cable Nazis anyway.  :-)

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