The “Productor” & the Chicago Conference, Olivia Rossetti

The “Productor” & the Chicago Conference

[Supplement to Freedom, September 1893]

A series of articles has been appearing of late in our Spanish Comrade “El Productor”, under the title “Puritanism and exaggeration. They have been written in answer to a criticism by some Valencia comrades of an article which appeared in the “Productor” concerning the Chicago conferences, called “Shoulders to the wheel. As the Chicago conference is so near at hand it may be interesting to English comrades to hear what the opinion of Spanish Anarchists on the question of conference is.
In the disputed article, the “Productor” proposes that all Anarchists who agreed with the desirability of the Chicago Conference, should send in a voluntary subscription, accompanied by the name of the delegate whom they thought best suited to represent the Spanish Anarchists at the Conference; when these votes had all come in, they were to be collected, counted up and verified, and the men whose names had most supporters was to be sent to Chicago, with the money obtained by the subscriptions, there to give voice to the opinions and wishes of the Spanish groups, and to bring back to them an account of the proceedings and the conclusions arrived at.
To these propositions six Valencia comrades answered by a declaration, in which they state that while they fully realize the importance and undeniable advantage to be derived from the Chicago conference, they are completely opposed to the program put forward by the ‘Productor,’ which they denounce as opposed to the Anarchist principle, which denies the possibility of one man representing another, under any circumstances. Especially do they object to a subscription being required as an accompaniment to a vote, declaring that even the Bourgeois governments are seeing the absurdity of a money qualification. To these objections the ‘Productor’ replies by saying that it does not consider that the question of the best way for the Spanish Anarchists to take part in a conference is in any sense a matter of principle, which it defines as a fundamental basis, but a matter of convenience. It states that it does not consider the idea of representation to be opposed to Anarchy; that it is only so when applied as it is by our existing Bourgeoise society, and it asks if any one would maintain that it would be contrary to Anarchist principles if, after the revolution, several groups wishing to confer together on points of common interest, and it being impossible for all the members of the said group to meet together to discuss, they should each choose delegates to set forth the opinions of their comrades, and afterwards announce the result of the conference so that the different groups might come to some common understanding, provided the delegates received no authority to enforce their decisions. As to the money qualification, the ‘Productor’ says, that as they made the subscription entirely voluntary, that is to say that it might consist of 1 centime or 50frs., it did not think that it would be an obstacle to any one’s voting; but, of course, it says, if any one should be found in so destitute a condition as not to be able to afford eve a centime, he would be allowed to give his vote without a subscription.
This seems a dangerous method to establish, savouring rather of the method in vogue in Bourgeoise society of remedying present evils by charities in various forms. But, of course, it is true enough that people as a rule are very disinclined to produce money unless some pressure is supplied, and there would be very few cases in which it would be impossible to give a half-penny or a farthing; the other objections as to verifying votes, etc., disappear if we once invade the first two points.
The Valencia Anarchists say that their idea of what an Anarchist conference should be is that any Anarchist who feels inclined to go should go; that he should go on no one’s behalf and represent no one but himself; that the Anarchists thus assembled should discuss for their own benefit any subjects they feel inclined to, and by thus strengthening themselves individually, they would ultimately strengthen the cause, and they point to the Paris congress as a beau ideal of an Anarchist conference. The ‘Productor’ answers this by asking if a single object was attained, or result arrived at by the Paris congress, and replies in the negative. It therefore concludes that if the expense of going to Chicago is to be stood, it must be compensated by substantial results, and that this can only be the case if a plan something like the one they suggested be adopted.
It is to be regretted that the articles on both sides have been written in a spirit of active antagonism, most unfortunate among Anarchists when a mere point of tactics is under discussion. Surely Anarchists should be the first to respect free individual initiative in such matters, and if one set of comrades wish to send a delegate to a conference, others should surely not require them to retract on pain of declaring them not to be Anarchists and vice versa.
To overthrow our present society means that we have such a tremendous and varied work to do, that there is surely room for every description of method and propaganda, and no time should be wasted in trying to compel others to adopt one’s own special line.
We are Anarchists because we recognize that all men are different, and that it is desirable that they should be so; let us put this principle into practice, and no more waste our time in trying to lord it over some one else.

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.