Tuesday, April 11, 2006

EMMA GOLDMAN


Now here was a dangerous mug. To mainstream Americans, Emma Goldman was known as a demonic "dynamite eating anarchist". She toured the States, agitating and lecturing everywhere she went. She was hounded for much of her life by FBI agents and was imprisoned in 1893, 1901, 1916, 1918, 1919, and 1921 on charges ranging from incitement to riot to advocating the use of birth control to opposition to World War 1. In 1937 she traveled to Spain to interview Buenaventura Durruti.


Durruti Is Dead, Yet Living By Emma Goldman


Durruti, whom I saw but a month ago, lost his life in the street-battles of Madrid. My previous knowledge of this stormy petrel of the Anarchist and revolutionary movement in Spain was merely from reading about him. On my arrival in Barcelona I learned many fascinating stories of Durruti and his column. They made me eager to go to the Aragon front, where he was the leading spirit of the brave and valiant militias, fighting against fascism.
I arrived at Durruti's headquarters towards evening, completely exhausted from the long drive over a rough road. A few moments with Durruti was like a strong tonic, refreshing and invigorating. Powerful of body as if hewn from the rocks of Montserrat, Durruti easily represented the most dominating figure among the Anarchists I had met since my arrival in Spain. His terrific energy electrified me as it seemed to effect everyone who came within its radius.
I found Durruti in a veritable beehive of activity. Men came and went, the telephone was constantly calling for Durruti. In addition was the deafening hammering of workers who were constructing a wooden shed for Durruti's staff. Through all the din and constant call on his time Durruti remained serene and patient. He received me as if he had known me all his life. The graciousness and warmth from a man engaged in a life and death struggle against fascism was something I had hardly expected.
I had heard much about Durruti's mastery over the column that went by his name. I was curious to learn by what means other than military drive he had succeeded in welding together 10,000 volunteers without previous military training and experience of any sort. Durruti seemed surprised that I, an old Anarchist should even ask such a question.
"I have been an Anarchist all my life," he replied, "I hope I have remained one. I should consider it very sad indeed, had I to turn into a general and rule the men with a military rod. They have come to me voluntarily, they are ready to stake their lives in our antifascist fight. I believe, as I always have, in freedom. The freedom which rests on the sense of responsibility. I consider discipline indispensable, but it must be inner discipline, motivated by a common purpose and a strong feeling of comradeship." He had gained the confidence of the men and their affection because he had never played the part of a superior. He was one of them. He ate and slept as simply as they did. Often even denying himself his own portion for one weak or sick, and needing more than he. And he shared their danger in every battle. That was no doubt the secret of Durruti's success with his column. The men adored him. They not only carried out all his instructions, they were ready to follow him in the most perilous venture to repulse the fascist position.
I had arrived on the eve of an attack Durruti had prepared for the following morning. At daybreak Durruti, like the rest of the militia with his rifle over his shoulder, led the way. Together with them he drove the enemy back four kilometers, and he also succeeded in capturing a considerable amount of arms the enemies had left behind in their flight.
The moral example of simple equality was by no means the only explanation of Durruti's influence. There was another, his capacity to make the militiamen realize the deeper meaning of the antifascist war--the meaning that had dominated his own life and that he had learned to articulate to the poorest and most undeveloped of the poor.
Durruti told me of his approach to the difficult problems of the men who come for leave of absence at moments when they were most needed at the front. The men evidently knew their leader--they knew his decisiveness--his iron will. But also they knew the sympathy and gentleness hidden behind his austere exterior. How could he resist when the men told him of illness at home--parents, wife or child?
Durruti hounded before the glorious days of July 1936, like a wild beast from country to country. Imprisoned time on end as a criminal. Even condemned to death. He, the hated Anarchist, hated by the sinister trinity, the bourgeoisie, the state and the church. This homeless vagabond incapable of feeling as the whole capitalistic puck proclaimed. How little they knew Durruti. How little they understood his loving heart. He had never remained indifferent to the needs of his fellows. Now however, he was engaged in a desperate struggle with fascism in the defense of the Revolution, and every man was needed at his place. Verily a difficult situation to meet. But Durruti's ingeniousness conquered all difficulties. He listened patiently to the story of woe and then held forth on the cause of illness among the poor. Overwork, malnutrition, lack of air, lack of joy in life.
"Don't you see comrade, the war you and I are waging is to safeguard our Revolution and the Revolution is to do away with the misery and suffering of the poor. We must conquer our fascist enemy. We must win the war. You are an essential part of it. Don't you see, comrade?" Durruti's comrades did see, they usually remained.
Sometimes one would prove abdurate, and insist on leaving the front. "All right," Durruti tells him, "but you will go on foot, and by the time you reach your village, everybody will know that your courage had failed you, that you have run away, that you have shirked your self-imposed task." That worked like magic. The man pleads to remain. No military brow-beating, no coercion, no disciplinary punishment to hold the Durruti column at the front. Only the vulcanic energy of the man carries everyone along and makes them feel as one with him.
A great man this Anarchist Durruti, a born leader and teacher of men, thoughtful and tender comrade all in one. And now Durruti is dead. His great heart beats no more. His powerful body felled down like a giant tree. And yet, and yet--Durruti is not dead. The hundreds of thousands that turned out Sunday, November 22nd, 1936, to pay Durruti their last tribute have testified to that.
No, Durruti is not dead. The fires of his flaming spirit lighted in all who knew and loved him, can never be extinguished. Already the masses have lifted high the torch that fell from Durruti's hand. Triumphantly they are carrying it before them on the path Durruti had blazoned for many years. The path that leads to the highest summit of Durruti's ideal. This ideal was Anarchism--the grand passion of Durruti's life. He had served it utterly. He remained faithful to it until his last breath.
If proof were needed of Durruti's tenderness his concern in my safety gave it to me. There was no place to house me for the night at the General-Staff quarters. And the nearest village was Pina. But it had been repeatedly bombarded by the fascists. Durruti was loathe to send me there. I insisted it was alright. One dies but once. I could see the pride in his face that his old comrade had no fear. He let me go under strong guard.
I was grateful to him because it gave me a rare chance to meet many of the comrades in arms of Durruti and also to speak with the people of the village. The spirit of these much-tried victims of fascism was most impressive.
The enemy was only a short distance from Pina on the other side of a creek. But there was no fear or weakness among the people. Heroically they fought on. "Rather dead, than fascist rule," they told me. "We stand and fall with Durruti in the antifascist fight to the last man."
In Pina I discovered a child of eight years old, an orphan who had already been harnessed to daily toil with a fascist family. Her tiny hands were red and swollen. Her eyes, full of horror from the dreadful shocks she had already suffered at the hands of Franco's hirelings. The people of Pina are pitifully poor. Yet everyone gave this ill-treated child care and love she had never known before.
The European Press has from the very beginning of the antifascist war competed with each other in calumny and vilification of the Spanish defenders of liberty. Not a day during the last four months but what these satraps of European fascism did not write the most sensational reports of atrocities committed by the revolutionary forces. Every day the readers of these yellow sheets were fed on the riots and disorders in Barcelona and other towns and villages, free from the fascist invasion.
Having travelled over the whole of Catalonia, Aragon, and the Levante, having visited every city and village on the way, I can testify that there is not one word of truth in any of the bloodcurdling accounts I had read in some of the British and Continental press.
A recent example of the utter unscrupulous news-fabrication was furnished by some of the papers in regard to the death of the Anarchist and heroic leader of the antifascist struggle, Buenaventura Durruti.
According to this perfectly absurd account, Durruti's death is supposed to have called forth violent dissension and outbreaks in Barcelona among the comrades of the dead revolutionary hero Durruti.
Whoever it was who wrote this preposterous invention he could not have been in Barcelona. Much less know the place of Buenaventura Durruti in the hearts of the members of the CNT and FAI. Indeed, in the hearts and estimation of all regardless of their divergence with Durruti's political and social ideas.
In point of truth, there never was such complete oneness in the ranks of the popular front in Catalonia, as from the moment when the news of Durruti's death became known until the last when he was laid to rest.
Every party of every political tendency fighting Spanish fascism turned out en masse to pay loving tribute to Buenaventura Durruti. But not only the direct comrades of Durruti, numbering hundreds of thousands and all the allies in the antifascist struggle, the largest part of the population of Barcelona represented an incessant stream of humanity. All had come to participate in the long and exhausting funeral procession. Never before had Barcelona witnessed such a human sea whose silent grief rose and fell in complete unison.
As to the comrades of Durruti--comrades closely knit by their ideal and the comrades of the gallant column he had created. Their admiration, their love, their devotion and respect left no place for discord and dissension. They were as one in their grief and in their determination to continue the battle against fascism and for the realization of the Revolution for which Durruti had lived, fought and had staked his all until his last breath.
No, Durruti is not dead! He is more alive than living. His glorious example will now be emulated by all the Catalan workers and peasants, by all the oppressed and disinherited. The memory of Durruti's courage and fortitude will spur them on to great deeds until fascism has been slain. Then the real work will begin--the work on the new social structure of human value, justice and freedom.
No, no! Durruti is not dead! He lives in us for ever and ever
.

16 Comments:

Anonymous WhattheH said...

What an impressive, heartfelt tribute and so very literate.
It's interesting that one person's hero is another's anathema. Why are people fighting against injustice, working to help the poorest and most vilified considered anarchists and worse? How can the human race survive when it never learns from history and continues to feed on itself.

5:07 AM  
Blogger durrati said...

whattheheh,

Mz. Goldman deserves a post of her very own and I will be preparing one. Obviously she is the worst type of radical rabble rouser: imprisoned for advocating birth control and speaking against the futile mass slaughter of WW I. How long will we tolerate the antics of such "dynamite eating radicals" to sully our triumphant "guns and Jesus" culture?

5:15 AM  
Blogger Joe Don Martin said...

Not only does Emma Goldman deserve a post of her own but so does her illustrious son, Oscar. In addition to being head of the O.S.I, Oscar Goldman was almost singlehandedly responsible for rebuilding Col. Steve Austin- better, stronger, faster. This, in turn, begat the Bionic Age for man, woman, boy, and dog until it was discovered that the four of them were having Frenetic Orgies of Mass Destruction in an undisclosed location- though mostly in the ass.

Get crackin', D. BTW, Over in toy soldier land, WeCanFix just said he'd been in a bad car wreck. He's apparently okay but carless.

Zho Don

4:18 PM  
Blogger durrati said...

Joe,

I'll leave Oscar to your kind attentions.

Guess I should keep up with the General, but I kinda lost interest. Glad to hear Fixit's okay. Thanks for the info....

7:15 PM  
Anonymous Private Partz said...

Gentlemen,

I have been out of the loop for a while and noticed that you have not been about in the ranks over at the little soldiers place. What gives? BTW, if it were not for Mz. Goldman, I may never have acquired the unused 'raincoat' that created the beautiful faded ring in my wallet in high school.

7:26 PM  
Anonymous WhattheH said...

Durrari, WCFTM was in a car accident and to my understanding, he's not okay. I've been in a car accident, and the outcome can be brutal, the health implications can be long term and very expensive in the U.S.
Joe Don, I usually appreciate your humour, but empathy is far more important to me. Please do not take this as a criticism, just a situation where we do not agree on delivery. As for JG, it's time to move on. I still read the blog, enjoy the interaction and occasionally post there. It does not preclude me from enjoying Durrati - as a matter of fact, Libby and Durrati are the first blogs I check.
Durrati, If I've stepped out of line, feel free to chastise me, but empathy is far more important to me than satire, and my interest in your blog was triggered by the empathy you exhibited in your postings. What happened at JG is over. Can we not just let it rest?

7:27 PM  
Blogger durrati said...

whattheheh,

I fear I took J.D.'s word for it that Fixit is okay, as you said for me, the ugly episode is over. If you have differnt info on Fixit I would like to know. But I immediately e-mailed Fixit once I heard. Is Partz another persona of J.D.? As for the attempts at humor Joe is very funny sometimes and I do not feel the need to comment further than my reply. You can be sure that you, dear, have stepped over no line, and like I said before do not restrain yourself from repling vigourly to comments that offend you. As for my opinion of Emma, while no movie idol, I believe she would have kept a warm bed, though perhaps not for wisecracking boys....

7:38 PM  
Blogger KidKawartha said...

Welcome, Partz.
This site is an experiment in training to be Frenchie saboteurs. We go out from here and infiltrate Frenchie blogs and mess with them. It's a double-double top secret plot of the General's. That dust-up at his blog was just to provide cover re:legitimacy here.
Back in character, if Fixit is in a jam, maybe we and the General's troops could help him out? As I told durrati, I've got a little extra in my paypal account.
As to Mr. Graham on the previous thread, in 1990 I was at a big missions conference in Urbana, Illinois and he gave the opening address. Despite his flaws, in that time of Swaggart's fall from grace and other teleswindler's deeds coming to light, we gave him a standing ovation, b/c for us, he was just himself. I lost a significant amount of respect for him only because, as you guys have stated, he chose not to use his considerable influence to just speak out once against the evils of the religious right. When he gave the public blessing to King George, part II, I just about snapped. If there is one person in America who could overnite put the brakes on the madness that is the present religious right, it is him. I neither consider him a saint or a devil, and there's room for discussion as to how he has been used by those around him. Now, his son, I have no sympathy for. He needs a smack in the head.
As to the pictures of Emma, you have to admit in the first set, she looks like could have chewed up Mussolini and spit out the bones. In the second, she looks like an angel.
And fixit, if you're reading here, keep us up to speed, and good healing to ya.

10:16 PM  
Blogger durrati said...

Kid,

I am ever wary of evangelists, no matter their stripe. I suspect their communication with God to be a disjoint between the hemispheres of their own brain fueled by an ego that cannot recognize itself...

I chose Emma's mugshot precisely because it shows the price she paid for her compassion. Jailed for advocating birth control! Yikes. Such a fate would harden anyone. And I agree El Duce would have cringed and cradled his seedless grapes in her presence.

Partz, if you return you are most welcome to join us. We are different from the General, only some of the subjects of our posts are singled out for ridicule... most we intend to honor....

6:41 AM  
Blogger Joe Don Martin said...

Hey All,

I didn't mean to make light of Fixit's wreck. When I said he was alright, I meant he was online and posting about it himself. He didn't go into details other than his car being a total loss.

Honestly, I just wanted to pass the info to Durrati because I thought he'd want to know. No offense intended,

Doe, John

11:04 AM  
Blogger durrati said...

Joe, thanks for the heads up. Perhaps what was also unhappy with Partz's remark. No harm, no fowl...

4:36 PM  
Blogger Private Partz said...

All,

Didn't mean to cause a ruckus if it was me. Really was off the internets for a week or so and missed much apparently. My apologies if I 'picked at the scab'.

6:20 PM  
Blogger durrati said...

Hey Partz,

You missed quite a dust-up at J.c.'s if you want to catch up go to the Kathrine Harris post in the General's archives. You might also want to check the "Spainard in the Works" and "The Ass and the Flute" in mine. Suffice it to say here that Joe and I are no longer in the army....

6:47 PM  
Blogger Private Partz said...

Holy Guacamole!

Just spent the last three hours reading the posts from WWIII at JG and here! Man, I posted early on that Katherine Harris thread before leaving on vacation, too, but never saw the end of it. Duratti and JD, sorry to see it come to that and it makes me a little sad. Good people on all sides of this who are fighting the good fight, but like so many things in life, the hotter the fire gets, the harder it is to put out. Again, don't mean to bring this up again, but wanted to put in my two cents.
I blame it all on Bushco for putting us all in foul temper.

Private Partz

9:07 PM  
Blogger durrati said...

You were lucky you left, Partz, one more oober remark would have had you drummed out also. Nothing is more tempting than a line drawn in the sand....

3:00 PM  
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11:55 PM  

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