Tenderness, by Teresa Claramunt

[Published in Freedom in the 1890s.]

By Teresa Claramunt

When I read about the news published by the Spanish newspapers I could not help taking up my pen in order to write a small article with the title « Tenderness. » It is well-known that this quality is familiar to us women, because of the natural feebleness of our organism and also of the limited education we receive. Such a state of things being general amongst the fair sex, it is supposed that queens are not an exception to the rule under ordinary circumstances ; therefore I was not surprised by the Spanish Regent’s declarations. But the good señora has become aware of the infamies that were committed by her ministers somewhat too late ; because, indeed, since her elevation to regency so many infamies have been committed that she should have shown sooner the tender feelings of her heart.
But the poor señora is not to be blamed, because strength and feeling have their limit in the human machine and it is not to be expected that a being who is constantly lifting her eyes to heaven or to the altar should see what is passing about her. On the other hand, when one’s heart is full of divine love, there is o place for any human feeling ; because, by dint of consecrating all one’s love on a single fixed object, all the rest lose their worth for him who is in such a mood. I, therefore, do not find fault with the Regent’s having so recently awaked to so grave a matter. The perfume of incense causes perturbations in the brain ;—the innocent victims’ cries have made the throne quake, and the concussion has had for result that Maria Cristina has moved her eyes from the altar to direct them to the ground on which it stands.
Then—oh, how horrible !—she saw at her feet rivers of blood and heard piteous bewailing. Then, sharpening her senses, she saw obvious chinks in the solid walls of her palace ; then, as a tender mother and a tender woman, she made known to the whole nation that she is « willing to have justice done, » and that she reproves her ministers for the infamies they have committed. And as, amongst these infamies, the crime of Montjuich is to be taken into account,the queen could not help speaking about it : since innocent victims have filled with blood the moat of this Bastille called Montjuich ; because not only in the last trial were innocent men tortured, but she who writes these lines can affirm that the said men who were shot, and the four that were condemned to perpetual detention for the bomb thrown by Pallas at Marshal Campos were also tortured.
But let us leave the dead—the tenderness of a queen cannot recall them to life ;—let us occupy ourselves with those who are innocently suffering in the hulks in consequence of these infamies.
« I am willing that justice should be done, » said Maria Cristina. It is well-known that the justice a queen is minded to have is very limited, but it is to be supposed that the queen’s limits of justice will reach these honest workmen so unjustly condemned and so enable them to again take their place in society.
We who bitterly remember the infamies committed in Montjuich by Marzo, Portas, G
arcia, Navarro, Tresolo and other torturers, do not forget the four workmen who are innocently suffering at the Ceuta hulks for the first trial, and the twenty that also suffer for the second one. We have given important information to the public, and its sad character of truth has interested all the hearts of civilised countries.
The queen’s latest affirmations are the last stroke that will compel the revision of these atrocious sentences, and chastise severely the torturers and impostors.
If that is not done, the people surely will do it.

Our Aims, by La Voz de la Mujer

[Article recovered by Marisa Muñoz y Liliana Vela and published in Antologia del Pensamiento Feminista Nuestroamericano, this translation is in all likelihood inaccurate and needs much improvement.]

“Our aims” La Voz de la Mujer, January 8th, 1896


Well: weary of so much crying and misery, weary of the eternal and disheartening picture which our unfortunate children offer us, tender pieces of our hearts, weary of begging and pleading, to be the toy, the object of pleasure of our evil exploiters or of our despicable husbands, we have decided to raise our voices in the social concert, and to demand, demand we say, our share of seats at the banquet of life.

Long evenings of work and suffering, dark, dreadful days without bread have taken their toll on us, and has forced us to feel the sharp and heart-wrenching cry of our hungry children, for whom weary of so much poverty and suffering, we decided to let our voices be heard, not in the form of a lament or a begging complaint, but in the form of a vibrant and energetic demand. It rises from everywhere. Up until now we pleaded to a God, to a virgin and to other saints no less imaginary than any other and when we went full of trust to ask for a piece of bread for our children, you know what we found? The lewd and lustful look of those who want to constantly change the object of their impure desires, offering us with an insinuating and cunning voice an exchange, a trade, a banknote with which to cover the nudity of our body, without more obligation than to lend it.

We walked further, still confident and with our hopes put in God in the heavens, and after we tripped and fell we cared not where, we saw and while we fixed our eager eyes to the sky, do you know what we found? Lust and brutal impurity, corruption and dirt and a new occasion to sell our skinny and pale bodies. We averted our eyes, dry, oh so dry!, and there, far away in the distance, we almost could see our children, pale, weak and sickly… and the misty breeze, which brought us the eternal song for bread. Mummy, some bread for the love of God! And at that moment we understood why we fell… why we kill and why we steal (in other words we expropriate). It was also then that we understood and we repudiated this God, and that we understood how false is his existence, in a word, that he doesn’t exist.

It was then that we sympathised with our fallen and disgraced fellow women: Now we want to break with all the preoccupations and absurd restraints, with these cruel chains whose links are thicker than our bodies. We understood that we had a very powerful enemy in the current society and it was then that, as we looked around us, that we saw many of our comrades fighting against such a society; and how we understood that this was also our enemy. We decided to go with them against our common enemy, but since we don’t want to depend on anyone, we also raise the red flag; we are leaving for the fight… without God nor master.

And this, dear fellow women, is why we make our newspaper, not ours but everyone’s, and this is also why we declare ourselves Commmunist Anarchists, demanding the right to live, which means equality and freedom.

On the Way to Work (A Conversation Between Companheiras), by G.L.

[Translated by Jesse Cohn.]

G.L. “A Caminho do Trabalho (entre companheiras).” A Terra Livre 1.11 (São Paulo, June 28, 1906).

On the Way to Work (A Conversation Between Companheiras)

— Come on, Joanninha, it’s time already.

— Here we go, Mariquinhas of my soul, back to this hell… I’m really tired of it. You don’t even get to eat, and at home there’s nothing to do but go without necessities… it’s a life of bitterness!

— Look Joanna: this is not living in the world. It’s our own fault, too. I’m sick of talking to you, to you and all the other companheiras, when you don’t want to hear…

— Shut up, there’s a spy over there.

— I don’t care about spies, nor the devil that pays them! Let them go to hell and let them tell anything they like. This isn’t life. I’m hoping that the day will come when we see all these hounds run to the pavement.

— You’re wrong. Mariquinhas, these dogs are kept by employers.

— And the bosses, who guards them?

— The soldiers, the police…

— That’s what the anarchists say…

— Anarchists? By the way, Mariquinhas, the other day I heard a spy say that socialists and anarchists are a bunch of bastards and rioters who only want to make trouble… Is that true?

— And you’re going to listen to those dogs? If there were no socialists and anarchists and all were humble and resigned, the bosses could do anything they liked to us, and our misery would be even greater. Everyone works for the bosses: government, judges, soldiers, spies… and the great herd of employees – a bunch of sheep… Against them and for us, there’s just ourselves, those of us who have a little knowledge of our rights and dignity. Now, the anarchists are of our number, and they often risk their lives fighting the beast… And so it is that the rich and powerful denounce them and try to get the ignorant to hate them: the bosses and rulers don’t want to be bothered in their business; they want to exploit us more easily. Look at the socialists and anarchists you know and look at the bosses: you’ll see in a minute that they are on our side. Look at the bourgeois touring the factory, as they stroll about in luxury… at our expense.

— Yes, you’re right. Well said the priest, the other day, in the Church, when he gave the sermon: When we die, we will be avenged. We suffer patiently in life, but afterward, we’ll see who was in the right… He said such beautiful things! To say there are no such priests!

— Ah! Joanna! Its because of both of these that we are in this state… For you still believe in the priests?! Would you like me to tell you? Priests, monks, bishops, all this scum of the Church, all of them are a bunch of pimps for the bosses. They help the employers to exploit us and live well at the expense of our sweat, selling us, at great expense, their latinorios* and their lies… They say we have to suffer in this life, because they want to live well without working, at our expense, in the company of our bosses. Don’t you see how they are friends? Don’t you see how pious the rich are? If the pleasure and wealth lead to hell, why don’t the priests, the bishops, the pope, try to convert the pious rich to poverty and not the poor? …

— Yes… But listen, Mariquinhas, we must always respect the priests, because they are God’s ministers, and we need to go to the Mass, go to confession …

— And what good does all this do you? And how can you, believing in God, who, as the believers say, doesn’t make mistakes, never deviates, never changes his mind, and is always just, how can you think that your prayers would change his mind? If it is God, then it is as they say: he must always judge in the same way, listening neither to insults nor pleas, never being swayed by flattery or spite. Do you know why there are churches? For the same reason that there are shops: because there are dealers who live on them… And all that are left to steal. The priests, dealers in religion, bolster the Church, which is their livelihood. And the confession? See these spies that our boss to keep watch over us, to tell them our protests, our words of discontent? The priests have done even better: they invented the confessional. That’s how they find out our secrets, direct souls, govern houses, snatch up inheritances. They make great cops! …

— So anarchists and socialists don’t go to Church? They have no saints?

— And you trust in the saints? Don’t you constantly have to work to earn some bread? If you have to do everything yourself, you must expect everything from yourself… If we trust in our own arms and our own union, we don’t need to kneel before any saint, whether of wood or flesh, nor would our work be so hard and so little profitable…

— Do you know something? I also, since I started reading the papers you gave me, which say so many truths, and a little book called “Why We Are Anarchists,” I have lost my faith in the saints, and when I go to the Church, I don’t even pray: I get to thinking, thinking…

— That all of this is a lie and that the priests are thieves, right?

— I don’t say these things, but… Ah! Mariquinhas, it’s true: you know what an anarchist said to me and the other companheiras?… He come to us with good manners, and so, in conversation, he told us that employers, governors, and the ignorant and traitorous workers who help them are all allied against the poor; that the anarchists want the land, machines, houses, railways, all the things used to produce and transport, all to be managed by those who work on them; that in this way, they’ll produce much more than today, because there no one will be interested in stopping the work just to sell things for a higher price, and because we wouldn’t be working for a boss, but to satisfy consumers, that everyone will work and everyone will consume without the need for money; that today, the factories and farms produce just as long as there are those who buy, and then stop, and are useless, although there are a lot of people left hungry, naked, and homeless; that people are really stupid to put up with this; that women have the same rights as men and will belong to themselves… That we need to be united and resolute! And other things. I was eager to learn more …

— And you thought you didn’t know anything about anarchists!… But here is the prison. Let’s talk again another time.