Anarchist Convicts

The Anarchist Convicts of Guyana,

“The Voice of the Penal Colony” (1893)

Not everything we share originates from the North of England. We occasionally like to share writings or literature for no other reason than that we like them or for the fact that they move us so much as to want to post them on here. The following is such, originally from “The Libertarian Labyrinth” website.

THE VOICE OF THE PENAL COLONY

While the populations panic and cheer the hangman tsar, while the bourgeois and the governmentals congratulate themselves on the success of their stratagems and observe that human stupidity is always so great, a protest must come, proud and energetic, to remind the bourgeois that there are still free men, even, and especially, in their prisons and their penal colonies.

We must remind our leaders, who, in the joy of their triumph, lick the boots of the hangman of nihilists and whipper of women, that in the French penal colonies are also found those whose only crime has been to dream of a society of justice and equality.

The anarchist convicts in the penal colonies of Guyana address to us a manifesto in which, still and always glorifying the humanitarian principles that they have defended by deed and by word, before the so-called bourgeois justice, they make known to us the foul tortures, the vulgar and stupid means employed to conduct them more rapidly to death.

Even in irons they are still those who have made the bourgeois capitalists tremble, and that is why every means is used against them, in order to make them disappear.

Their outraged protest will be known, their words will be heard, while we await the hour, so much desired, when we can finally avenge them.

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Locally produced sticker of Duval

Dear Comrades,

We take advantage of an occasion that presents itself to bring you some news of the situation we face in the penal colonies where the bourgeois detain us.

When the bourgeois, who bear the name of magistrates, have struck at us, they have not dared to strike us with special laws enacting punishments created for us; they sense that they have already done something offensive in the joining together of the words convicts and anarchist, and they feign to apply to us their famous equality before the law.

Lies and hypocrisy, like everything done by a ruler. It is not the common penal servitude that they apply to us, but a penal servitude where all the cowardice of the tyrants and the hatred of the bourgeois weigh upon us.—You know by our previous letters that comrade Duval, the first who has been sent to Guyana, had to submit to all sorts of nuisances, each one as cowardly as the others, that his correspondence had been intercepted, and that finally, without any reason, he had been confined to the Île Royale (one of the Îles du Salut). That island, which is nothing but a rock in the middle of the ocean, has been chosen by the prison administration for the detainment of the convicts considered incorrigible, as well as those on the continent, either at Cayenne or at Maroni, who have been guilty of escape attempts, thefts crimes against persons and have been condemned again by the special maritime tribunal charged with judging the convicts. On that island there is a discipline more savage than anywhere, and the commandant there is a machine for handing out solitary confinement and irons.—Like comrade Duval, the comrades Pini and Girier, as well as the comrade Simon [Biscuit, accomplice of Ravachol], arrived in the last convoy, are all confined on that rock.

Our conduct with regard to the regulations, however, has never provided reasons for the internment imposed on us, but is instead to avoid the possibility of any escape on our part; and our jailers have judged it proper to isolate us in the midst of the ocean and to subject us to an iron discipline. Even that rigor does not seem to have satisfied them; for some time, instead of sleeping in the common hut, on a hammock, we are forced to sleep in the prison, in the narrow, filthy room where they cram the convicts condemned by the special tribunal to seclusion. There, we have a plank for a hammock, as if the ironclad doors, the bars and the ocean were not enough to hold us.

They chain us by the feet to an iron bar, which in the language of the penal colony is called the “spit.” — It is a spit, in fact, to which we are secured like game ready for roasting, while our persecutors, in the shelter of a mosquito net, rest on soft bunks that this good Administration furnishes them with the taxpayers’ money.

In the face of this last measure of cruelty, we have demanded the reasons of the commandant, who has responded to us in the language of the torturer who believes himself sheltered from the vengeance of his victims. I have, he responded to us, demanded this measure of the higher Administration in order to safeguard my personal security. We have the right to take such measures with regard to dangerous men, and you are dangerous since you are anarchists.

Dangerous!!! Read it, comrades! The anarchists are dangerous, but not those who have snatched women and children; not those who have chopped women in bits; not the cousin of the politician Reinach, the famous Altmayer. The administrators surround themselves with those men, and they have made them faithful servants whose mission is to double the guard by spying on the words and deeds that can be accomplished by the anarchist convicts, who have been able to preserve a certain respect with those charged with torturing them.—They are right to do so, by the way, as it is those who know how to hold up their heads and make themselves respected who are dangerous, not those who crawl like vipers or who come like dogs to lick the hands of those who strike them. So, despite the danger that there is in remaining men, we will not weaken in the face of adversity and we will show our tyrants that the smock of a convict is still not thick enough to hide the heart of an anarchist.

We cannot depict for you here all the vexations of which we are the object. That would require entering into the detail of life in the penal colony and that would lead us too far afield, but what it is important to make known to you, because we want it to be known, is the barbarity with which the Administration has deprived us of our correspondence. Comrade Girier, in Guyana, has had no news of his family in 18 months. A single letter was given him on his arrival, and nothing since.

To inform you of all the crimes committed in the name of the law in this country of death would take volumes.—So you will see défiler before your eyes some wretches chained and pummeled with blows by the guard, and the cowardly convicts charged with aiding them in accomplishing their ferocities!

You will also see—an unbelievable thing!—you will see tied to a tree, at the foot of which is found an anthill, arms and legs plastered with brown sugar destined to attract the manioc ants, big as your little fingers and armed with sharp, powerful antennae.

We could continue on this subject, but what would be the use? When you know that there are so-called “civilized” savages, capable of committing the atrocities that we have cited, you will easily imagine what can arise from these barbaric brains

We will stop there, authorizing you to give our letter all that publicity that you can, for it is time that the people know what crimes are committed in their name; it places a grave responsibility on them, since they are the ones who give the power to other men who use it for the triumph of disgrace.

All men with a heart have the duty to think that those condemned by the magistrates in the name of the people have, if they were guilty, only had a glimmer of crime in their thoughts, and have only been criminals for a moment; and the still more criminal society avenges itself in a cowardly manner on these wretches by committing crimes against their persons for the full duration of their existence.

Publish this letter so that all the comrades also know how we are treated, and so that those who still believe there is something good in the bourgeois tear off the last blindfold that blinds them.

Let them all also be convinced that we have preserved all our courage and our love for anarchy, and let them no believe that the men fallen in the struggle are men doomed for the future. That is false. Our courage is greater than ever, and today we also have the hatred that our persecutors have poured into our hearts.

Forward, comrades, have no fear of coming to join us, but fight. We are wretched here, our food is disgusting, our lodgings unhealthy, the climate murderous, the men are like a plague for us, but all of that cannot make an anarchist suffer, for in the midst of these miseries, we have within us a deep joy from having struggled for the truth.

And we have the good fortune to know that others still fight, and the firm hope of fighting once again.

Courage then, comrades, strike hard against the monster of authority, break the machine of exploitation, squeeze the canker of religion, and fly without fear the flag of Anarchy.

The hearts of the anarchist convicts accompany you in the battle.

Long live Anarchy!

The Anarchist Convicts of Guyana

TAG News Sheet July 1995

Continuing our series of Tyneside Anarchist Group literature, here is the July 1995 News Sheet (PDF link below picture). Issue’s 3 and 4 will follow at a later date, and that is the only copies we have if anyone we know has any missing issues they could donate, lend, or even sell us then that would be great….get in touch.

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PDF file here…. tag july 95

Tyneside Anarchist Group

We have been running a series of Newcastle Anarchist Group (1983ish) and Tyneside Anarchist Group (1992 – late 90,s) leaflets on our Facebook page, viewable here….

https://www.facebook.com/Tyneside-Anarchist-Archive-100725731534729/

With the next leaflet in the series being an A4 four page affair we have created a PDF

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PDF file thing here…. taga4

Page 2 has a very short history of anarchism on Tyneside and seems to be culled from two sources we know about, the second of which comes from a ‘well known ex miner’ and his books, and of which we must add are often giving wrong facts about local anarchist history and we take with a ‘pinch of salt’.

Once again, ignore all postal addresses….they are 25 years or so old.

 

RIP Ewan Brown 1 year gone

by ewan

Painting proudly completed by Ewan Brown May 2018. A beautiful picture of Hope. Your relentless activism and compassion against injustice in this world continues to inspire Hope for those of us who continue the fight in your name. Rest in peace my friend. xxxx

Tyneside Anarchist Archive.

Interview No 2

It can be quite a thankless task creating & running an archive, to some…why bother with the past when there is too much happening now and to come. At times it is disheartening when you put so much effort into discovering/preserving/showcasing, and sharing OUR history, especially a local archive such as ours – where you get more support and acknowledgement from such far flung countries as Romania, Argentina, Chile, Brazil, & Spain etc than from our very own doorstep. But, as ever we persevere, after all its why we exist, so you can imagine our humble delight when we received another interview and interest in what we do, this time from Arizona, USA………

What was the impetus for creating this archive? (Also, curious to know if anyone involved had experience with archival work, professionally or not when deciding to take on this project)

No experience whatsoever, other than a desire to preserve and showcase elements of locally printed anarchist propaganda, and of which, when added to the amount of ‘national’ printed propaganda that we have, then becomes a ‘collection’ or can be then labelled an ‘archive’.

The archive is just a continuation of my 35++ years of spreading the message, propagating our ideal in whatever form I can. That is my impetus. That is my life.

What is the process of selection of materials for the archive?  (I realize some of this information is on your website)

Anything from the anarchist / libertarian spectrum that I come across, buy, or gets donated is kept, especially anything of a local nature. Material is then gradually scanned to make it more accessible to those that can benefit in any way from it.

How have you actively sought out materials to add to your collection?

Yes, from scouring anarchist book fairs for old magazines, to buying old doubled copies of 1970’s editions of Black Flag from the Kate Sharpley Library, to harassing ‘elder’ local anarchists to give over old meeting minutes etc… it can and does at times become quite possessive. Since the recent completion of our history in book form, this has calmed down somewhat.

COVER
300+ page history out this summer

What value do these materials have? How did you determine that value?

Priceless. As we’ve previously stated, the 1981 leaflet which written by young local punks from run down Gateshead housing estates, embracing and endeavoring to articulate their flowering rebellion and emerging anarchism is “worth a ton of that passed off by the political research industry”. Capturing that moment in written form from that period is priceless and personally is ‘worth’ more than any intellectual tome of a book ever could.

How has the political theory of anarchism shaped your archival practices?

Intellectual political theory’s of learned anarchist philosophers bare little influence when inspiration can be found in everyday life and practices. I could talk about our natural and inherent aspects of mutual aid and inbuilt instincts of co-operation forever, or advise reading Kropotkin, but why bother when you can just look beyond stereotypical conditioning and media manipulation to look at what’s happening within your own community, your own neighborhood, especially in times of ‘crisis’ when the state continually shows its true colors of self preservation.

Any other thoughts you’d like to add?

Your syllabus states “By performing appraisal and selection, archivists are thereby actively shaping the future’s history of our times.” That is why we exist as a ‘local’ anarchist archive, perhaps to counteract the practice of the future historian who only delves into ‘academic’ archives which are ultimately inaccessible for the majority (i.e. the state run International Institute of Social History in Amsterdam).

For instance, during the 1980’s there was an explosion of anarchist activity and groups in North East England yet none of this is accounted for, or barely mentioned, in the national anarchist press of the period, and especially in the contacts section of papers like Freedom. The future ‘historian’ could quite easily bypass important developments of anarchism if reliance of the national anarchist press is relied upon. This has happened in the past, and will no doubt happen again, therefore this is our raison d’être, and why the soon publication of our book ‘Anarchism in North East England 1882 – 1992. A history’ is perhaps important.

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Durruti Column/CNT Militant obituary Teesside

We have previously highlighted the life of a CNT militant who settled in Middlesbrough, Teesside, North East England in an interview with Miguel Rico. Interview here…

https://tynesideanarchistarchive.wordpress.com/2018/09/02/cnt-anarchist-militant-interview/

Today we share the life of Vicente Blasco Carrillo who settled in Stockton on Tees, North East England after the war. The following obituary, written by Teesside Anarchists in 1994 is from ANARCHY ! Libertarian broadsheet for the North East. Issue 2. 1994.

Obituary

Vicente Blasco Carrillo (1917-94)

Vicente Blasco Carrillo who died in North Tees Hospital on July 18, aged 77, was one of the last few of the once-numerous Spanish Anarchist emigration in Britain. Born in Barcelona, he was active in the anarchist movement in his youth, being a militant in the ‘Faro’ group of the FIJL (Iberian Libertarian Youth Federation). After the fascist military coup was defeated in Barcelona on July 19th 1936 by the armed working class, Blasco joined the militia of the anarcho-syndicalist union, the CNT, and fought at the Aragon front in the Durruti column.

Durruti-column

When the militias were militarised – partly due to counter-revolutionary movements in the Republican camp, partly to give a better impression to the outside world – Blasco was sent by the CNT to the military academy in Barcelona, where he was made a lieutenant. (The CNT wanted to counter the influence of the Stalinists and fellow-travellers busy taking control of the Republic’s army.)

When the Republic was defeated in 1939 he joined the tide of refugees who escaped across the border to France. Like some of the others in refugee camps like Argeles-sur-Mer he joined the French Army (Foreign Legion) to escape the deplorable conditions. (The French socialist Popular Front government didn’t have much to learn from the nazis in this department.) – the French Army needed recruits because the Second World War was about to start.

When France fell to the Nazis, Blasco escaped from Lebanon, where he’d been posted, to Palestine. There he was among a group of seventy Civil War veterans (republicans, communists and anarchists) who having been recruited into the French army and having fled with their arms to British occupied Palestine on France’s fall, were now recruited into the British Army Commandos!. Captured during the British withdrawal from Crete, he was a prisoner-of-war in Germany for three and a half years.

After the war he settled in Stockton, working and bringing up a family. He never returned to Spain. With our comrade Juan, also a participant in the Spanish libertarian movement and the Revolution, and who later came to know Blasco in the Commandos, as a prisoner of war in Germany and after settling on Teesside, we salute an anti-fascist fighter. Now, as then, MUERTE AL FASCISMO!

Teesside Anarchists

News

From the back streets of Tyneside to anarchists worldwide….busy times at the archive with another interview received, this time from  Arizona !!

More scanning also going on and next we will bring you the series of leaflets from Tyneside Anarchist Group (mid to late 1990,s)….

The series of Newcastle Anarchist Group leaflets (1982-1983), and the forthcoming series of TAG leaflets predominantly appear on our Facebook page, so check them there….

https://www.facebook.com/Tyneside-Anarchist-Archive-100725731534729/

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NEWCASTLE ANARCHIST CONFERENCE 1914

Untitled-1

Every year certain ‘on this day’ pages highlight that on this weekend in 1914 the annual anarchist conference was this year held in Newcastle, and like the Daily Mirror front page spread above, concentrate only on the fashion of the time and talk of ‘flappers’.

This is only a minute picture of the full story. Our forthcoming book (this summer) ‘Anarchism in North East England, 1882-1992 – a history’ covers the entire weekend of the conference and delves into what the delegates at the conference were actually saying, what their leaflets said, what the local press thought of events, coverage of the large public meeting during the weekend, and the large outdoor public meeting concluding events at the Big Market area in the city.

conf

One memorable quote from a delegate, remarking on the huge interest at the public meeting states “We do not know that the local people have any names added to the roll. But we take a leaf out of the book of the old Methodist. Many entered their Bethels out of curiosity and stayed to pray. Many might attend our meetings out of curiosity and stop to think.”

Untitled-1_edited-1

PS, we think it looks like George Barrett (George Ballard) on the left of top picture, whom we know spoke at the conference..what do you think ?

INTERVIEW

Interview – ‘in which we invariably blow our own trumpet’ so to speak…

Not often we do, but a young American comrade interviewed us recently for something or other that she is writing, so we thought we would share….

  1. How and when was your archive established?

The creation of group anarchist libraries for self, as opposed to state education, was happening with local anarchists in 1907,with the Tyneside Anarchist Federation of the late 1960’s early 1970’s, with the Newcastle Anarchist Group in the early 1980’s, and Tyneside Class War in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s. The Tyneside Class War library of 1990 eventually evolved into Tyneside Anarchist Archive that we are today. Continuing the tradition, we also have Newcastle’s Canny Little Library based at a local cinema / social centre space.

  1. Why did you want to preserve local anarchist history?

Apart from it being a particularly personal passion, OUR history is regularly   misinterpreted and / or ignored by academic historians only interested in self promotion or biased viewpoints. The majority of ‘down to earth’ accounts of group activities, the histories of the lives of ‘lesser personalities’ within the movement, the lifetimes of activism despite, at times, prevailing odds, rarely, or do not appear in any of the ‘official’ histories of anarchism, especially regional areas such as the North East. A need and desire to remedy this situation is forever my aim.

  1. Do you all identify as anarchists?

Yes

  1. How many people work, either as volunteers or paid employees at your archive?

No one is paid! It is mainly the work of a couple of individuals, with occasional help from the wider anarchist ‘scene’.

  1. Who do you see as your main user community or communities?

Our help is always available to any who wish to utilise what we can offer, from the odd university dissertation to the sharing of knowledge to those seeking it to help with current literature they produce / write etc.

  1. Can you briefly describe the size and scope of your holdings?

Roughly about 3500 items of literature (papers, magazines, leaflets, news sheets, zines, pamphlets, etc) and that doesn’t include the hundreds of books, from my own personal library.

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  1. Can you describe the outreach activities you engage in?

We do the occasional anarchist book fair, where we sell copies of papers etc that we have more than one copy of in the archive and what we know other archives already have. Newcastle has also been host to a North East Radical History Festival of which we were involved with, a stall showcasing our literature and history. We also self promote through the usual ‘social media’ and our website.

More importantly, this summer should see the release of our seminal work ‘Anarchism in North East England 1882 – 1992. A history.’ Which should be 300+ pages.

  1. How do you see your archive in relation to other anarchist libraries and archives?

Our influence and inspiration has always been the Kate Sharpley Library, we are like their little nephew! I occasionally visit a member of their library to exchange items of interest.  We are just a small sapling amongst a sturdy oak forest when you compare us to the likes of Nottingham’s  Sparrows Nest Archive, or Glasgow’s  Spirit Of Revolt Archive, and especially the aforementioned Kate Sharpley Library. What we all have in common is that we are not academic institutions open only to the select few, we are all anarchists based in and around grass roots activity. 

  1. How does your archival work connect to movement work or your organizing history? What is the relationship between preserving the anarchist past and contemporary and future movements?

A passage from the introduction of our forthcoming book may answer this question…

“We learn from our mistakes and we also learn from our history. The parallels are apparent throughout this history. Today (2019) a new local group, the North-East Anarchist Group, with their regular anarchist history discussion meetings bare resemblance to the Newcastle anarchists of 1907 who hosted similar events. The lessons learned of the anarchists at the Clousden Hill Colony during the late 1890’s are implemented by today’s co-operatives, social centres, and communes / squats etc. The creation of group anarchist libraries for self, as opposed to state education, was happening with anarchists in 1907,with the Tyneside Anarchist Federation of the late 1960’s early 1970’s, with the Newcastle Anarchist Group in the early 1980’s, and Tyneside Class War in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s, this is carried on today with Newcastle’s Canny Little Library. The account of the Chopwell anarchists and their laying of anarchist literature for sale on the grass at the annual Durham Miners Gala in 1913 brings back vivid personal memories from the late 1980’s. This is our history, and this is the purpose of our history, this is our culture, a culture of resistance to the state and its enforced fallacies of indoctrination, control and coercion. And hopefully, this is our future, for the sake of our children or our children’s children, who we may hope can live a life without the destructive nature of capitalism, and a planet recovered from its devastating ravages.”

https://tynesideanarchistarchive.wordpress.com/  (Web)

tynesideanarchistarchive@riseup.net  (Email)

https://www.facebook.com/Tyneside-Anarchist-Archive-100725731534729/  (facebook)

 

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