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(en) Britain, Anarchist Federation Organise #66 - REVIEWS

Date Wed, 19 Jul 2006 14:22:35 +0300

We present summaries of three new excellent value pamphlets from Kate
Sharpley Library all priced £3, plus one of their slightly older pamphlets.
1) Konstantinos Speras: the life and activities of a Greek anarcho-syndicalist
2) With the poor people of the earth: a biography of Doctor John
Creaghe of Sheffield & Buenos Aires
3) Santos - the Barcelona of Brazil: Anarchism and class struggle in a port city
4) Against all tyranny! Essays on anarchism in Brazil
You can order KSL publications through http://www.katesharpleylibrary.net
or by post to Kate Sharpley Library, BM Hurricane, LONDON WC1N 3XX.
Add 10% for postage (inland) or 20% (overseas). Cheques (in
Sterling) payable to the Kate Sharpley Library. See website for orders
outside Europe, and to see how to become a KSL subscriber and get
further discounts.

Konstantinos Speras: the life and activities of a Greek
anarcho-syndicalist, by Leonardos Kottis. 10 pages. 2006.

Konstantinos Speras (1893-1943) was born on the Greek island of
Serifos. Whilst working in Egypt as a tobacco worker, he came into
contact with anarchists, who were mostly Greek and Italian
immigrants. On his return to Greece he became extremely active
organizing amongst the workers. He took part in the big tobacco
workers strike in Kavala in 1914, and was imprisoned for his

He returned to his home island and supported the miners strike there
in 1916. There was bloody repression and four miners were killed by
the police. He was again imprisoned in the aftermath, writing a
pamphlet on the strike whilst in jail. He advanced anarchosyndicalist
ideas in the unions, calling for independence from political parties.
Like many anarchists of the period around the world, taken in by
Lenin’s ‘libertarian rhetoric’ and the seeming triumph
of the working class with the Russian Revolution, he joined the
emerging Communist Party (then called the Socialist Workers
Party). He was soon expelled as an “anti-party element” in
1920. The Communists also attempted to expel him from the
unions, but failed.

In 1921 Speras was again imprisoned after the tram workers strike.
Communist persecution of him continued and he found it difficult to
get a job because of this. In the end they succeeded in expelling him
from his union in 1926. He continued supporting strikes in the 30s,
and wrote a History of the Working Class Movement, which was
never published and has now vanished. He was arrested, imprisoned
or sent into exile 109 times! His last spell in prison was during the
Metaxas dictatorship when he was sent to the island of Skopelos. He
was released half-dead in 1940, but fortunately was saved by a doctor
who treated him free.

In 1943 Captain Orestis, one of the leaders of ELAS, the Communist
guerilla front, called him to a meeting outside of Athens. He was
beheaded and his remains scattered. He was one of dozens of
Trotskyists, anarchists and left communists murdered by the
Communist Party. This pamphlet tells his story, one which deserves
to be rescued from obscurity.

With the poor people of the earth: a biography of Doctor John
Creaghe of Sheffield & Buenos Aires, by Alan O’Toole. 32
pages. 2005

This is an an account of the colourful life of the Irish doctor John
Creaghe (1841-1920). He emigrated in the mid-1860s to the United
States and from there to Argentina in 1874. He was destined for a
brilliant career. However, the grinding poverty he saw in Argentina
brought him round to to a radical outlook. The Italian anarchist
Malatesta, who was then living in Argentina, was involved in
organising amongst workers and Creaghe became involved in this

In 1890 Creaghe moved to England and settled in Sheffield. Here he
got in touch with the anarchists. His first public appearance in that
city was his fiery speech at a public meeting held to commemorate
the deaths of the Chicago anarchist martyrs. Creaghe earned his
living as a “sixpenny doctor” administering to the poor . He
also engaged in a series of rent strikes. He founded the paper The
Sheffield Anarchist which had quite an influence on the Sheffield

By now Creaghe had given up any hope of a revolutionary situation
in Britain in the short term and he returned to Argentina in 1894.
Here he brought out another anarchist paper, the monthly El
Oprimo (The Oppression). Later he was involved in the setting up of
the FORA (Federación Obrera Regional Argentina), a mass
workers organization with an anarchist-communist line. Creaghe
had a key role in the emergence and continuation of the anarchist
paper La Protesta which had a distinguished role in Argentinian

In 1911, the developing Mexican revolution led Creaghe to go to Los
Angeles, where he joined the editorial board of Regeneracion, the
paper of the Mexican anarchists. He visited Mexico on several trips,
and brought the attention of Latin American and US anarchists to
the Zapata movement in southern Mexico.

Joint repression by the Mexican and US governments came down
heavily on Regeneración. Creaghe was involved in a campaign with
Emma Goldman to free the leading Mexican anarchist Flores
Magón who had been arrested by the US authorities.

Creaghe moved to Washington where he died in poverty in 1920. He
had given 30 years to the anarchist movement. Another anarchist
veteran, Mat Kavanagh, was to remark: “He was one of those
remarkable personalities that Anarchism alone seems able to
produce, who, seeking not place or power, live to serve the cause of
Human Emancipation”.

Santos - the Barcelona of Brazil: Anarchism and class struggle in a
port city, by Edgar Rodrigues. 16 pages. 2005.

In the late 19th and early 20th century the Brazilian town of Santos
was a centre of unrest, with many strikes. The first general strike
was in 1905 and a number of anarchist and anarcho-syndicalist
groups appeared. This proved victorious and Santos began to be
called the Brazilian Barcelona because of the strength of the working
class movement and the strength of the anarchist movement. This
was reinforced by the arrival of anarchist orators and activists of
Italian and Spanish origin. Not only did anarchists organize in the
workplaces but they set up Social Cultural Centres with
well-equipped libraries, amateur drama and music groups, literacy
classes, and trades education. They staged revolutionary and
anti-clerical plays which spread their idea far and wide.

Vicious repression came during the general strike of 1921. Many
strikers were arrested. The anarchist and syndicalist movements
bounced back the following year but the foundation of the Brazilian
Communist Party caused splits in the movement. The police seized
this opportunity to to close down the anarchist groups and
Syndicalist organizations. This pamphlet tells a tale of a fascinating
period in Brazilian history, full of accounts of extraordinary anarchist

Against all tyranny! Essays on anarchism in Brazil. Edgar Rodrigues,
Renato Ramos and Alexandre Samis. 32 pages. 2003.

Yet another fascinating pamphlet on Brazil from the Kate Sharpley
Library, currently out of print but should still be available elsewhere.
This is an historical outline of the Brazilian anarchist movement.
Many people emigrated to Brazil from Europe and with them came
the anarchist idea. Brazilian - as well as Portuguese, Spanish,
Italian, Russian and German - workers contributed to the
movement. Among them was the black worker Domingos Passos,
nicknamed the Brazilian Bakunin, who perished after being exiled to
a jungle area in the late 20s; the German activist Friedrich Kniestedt;
and the teacher, writer and poer Maria Lacerda de Moura who
looked beyond the winning of female suffrage to real liberation for
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