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(en) France, Alternative Libertaire AL Octobre - 1937: Education and emancipation among Spanish anarchists (fr, it, pt) [machine translation]

Date Mon, 6 Nov 2017 08:46:17 +0200

Before the war devours the Revolution, Spain marked with the seal of the CNT-FAI, proposes to change the life. The mores of a society rid of the pangs of capitalism are born. A new Spain emerges with the implementation, on a mass scale, of libertarian ideals. ---- Barcelona under the revolutionary influence is an amazing sight for any foreign visitor. In Homage to Catalonia, the Englishman George Orwell recalls: " It was December, 1936. The anarchists always had their hands on Catalonia and the revolution was in full swing. For whom then came directly from England, the striking aspect of Barcelona exceeded all expectations. It was the first time in my life that I was in a city where the working class had taken over. Every shop, every cafe had an inscription informing you of its collectivization ; to shoe shiners that had been collectivized and painted red and black ! The waiters, the salesmen, looked at you in the face and behaved with you in equals. Turns of servile or simply ceremonious sentences had simply disappeared. Nobody said anymore "Señor" or "gift", nor even "usted": everyone was tutoyait, one was called "comrade" and one said "salud" instead of "buenos dias".[...]And the strangest of all was the appearance of the crowd. To believe the appearances in this city the rich classes no longer existed. With the exception of a small number of women and foreigners, we no longer saw people "well put". Almost everyone was wearing proletarian clothes or blue overalls. All this was strange and moving. "

In 1936, the area where the revolutionaries intervene with the most dynamism is education, which they strive to remove from the influence of the church.
" Education, bread and tenderness "

While a new identity, new social reflexes appear, the libertarians strive to imprint their footprint in a specific area: education and popular culture. Until then, culture was the monopoly of the bourgeoisie and the aristocracy, framed by a traditionalist church. July 19, 1936 sends down the culture in the street. Literacy classes are set up for adults. Libraries are created at the initiative of Jeunesses Libertaires (JJLL) in many localities. Their places: old churches transformed into Houses of culture.

The field, however, where the revolutionaries intervene with the most dynamism, is the education they endeavor to remove from the influence of the Church. For this, they rely on the writings and practices of the anarchist pedagogue Francisco Ferrer, who in many points announces what will later be the alternative educational and anti-authoritarian conceptions of a Celestin Freinet or a Maria Montessori.

A French revolutionary syndicalist reports, not without humor, the visit of a school in a small town in Catalonia, the following facts: " In what was a convent of sisters before the revolution is now a school. This convent was a superb building. The sisters had even built a gym. It is also the first time that I knew that the nuns engaged in sports games and maintain their muscles to stay in a pleasant form, worthy wives of Christ. This room will not undergo transformation, it is now the children of the people who will play sports. The chapel, for example, will be turned into a printing shop that will be used by the children of the school. Another room for the cinema: education by the image, because the union of the cinema will make films for the children of school. The living room will also make a beautiful library. Mixed classes did not exist before the revolution. The new school currently has 550 students. Catalan is taught to children until the age of 10, after it is learned Castilian. The new rationalist pedagogy begins to be applied. Ferrer was murdered, but he began to survive intensely in Spain. » [1]

An educational revolution

Grégory Chambat, in his book Pedagogy and revolution, class questions and pedagogical re-readings, shows that the pedagogical concern is well and truly riveted to the body of the libertarians: " When the revolution breaks out, with its reflections and especially its practices, the movement knows where it wants to go in terms of pedagogy. In this area, as in many others, he did not wait for the "big night" to experiment, to grope, to analyze ... In addition to the Athenaeans, bubbling centers of cultural agitation, unions organized evening classes and even mounted their own school. Despite years of fierce repression (rampage, looting, imprisonment of animators of these libertarian and trade union schools), nothing has succeeded in extinguishing the flame and the passion of the movement for pedagogical questions. "

A passion made necessary, too, by reality: the situation of Spain in the 1930s is catastrophic, with an illiteracy rate of 52% and 60% of children who are not in school. But ambition is not limited to schooling children or building schools. Alongside the educational work, an educational revolution takes shape. In opposition to the education of yesterday, " the new school " intends to put down all the defects of the traditional school: " The boarding schools , the correctional houses and the barracks school disappear ; the idea of education is substituted for that of punishment. The new school is the expression of a social ideal and a pedagogy detached from authoritarian traditions ". The school curriculum has the following purpose: " That all children have bread, tenderness and education in the most absolute condition of equality and that the free development of their personality is ensured. " [2]

Teaching methods are questioned, in order to develop students' critical thinking: " The school must place the child in such an environment that the exercise of antisocial impulses is made impossible, not by constraint. and violence, but through the solidarity, sincerity, work, love and freedom characteristic of the physical and human environment that surrounds it ... The new school respects the personality of the child. We believe that all methods must be tested, always opting for the one that best suits the local characteristics, the nature and character of each child, etc. It is obvious that it is not enough to change the name of the school: one must change one's mind, one's morality, one's methods. » [3]

At the level of mentalities, too, a new wind blows. Despite the gender equality advocated by the CNT-FAI, it is clear that women need a specific organization to be better heard and more specifically defended. In 1934, Grupo Cultural Femenino (Women's Cultural Group), was born and developed with the support of the women of the magazine Mujeres Libres. These groups are at the origin of the organization of the " Free Women ": the Free Mujeres (ML), created in April 1936. The ML lead a fight on two fronts: for the social revolution, and for the liberation of the women. They gather, at their peak, nearly 30,000 women in 1938. The journal Mujeres Libres writes:" The best mother is not the one who holds the child against her breast, but the one who helps to forge a new world for him. " [4]

" Free women " against prostitution

The fight of ML is multiple. Its activists are fully involved in the work at the factory or in the fields, in various educational and cultural projects. They are also found on the front, rifle in hand, alongside their male comrades. The role of the MLs, however, makes perfect sense in specific struggles that aim at finally freeing women from their chains: the right to contraception and abortion, the questioning of marriage as a social institution. this patriarchal society against which they fight furiously.

Another fight of the ML relates to the particular case of prostitution: " The most urgent thing to do in the new social structure is to suppress prostitution. From now on, still in full anti-fascist struggle and before taking care of the economy or the teaching, we must finish with this social degradation. As long as the greatest of the slaves remains, the one who forbids all worthy life, we can not think of production, of work, of any kind of justice. That we recognize decency to no woman until we can attribute it to all. As long as there is a prostitute, there will be no wife of such, sister of such, companion of such.[...]We must finish with this quickly. And it must be Spain that gives the world its new standard. We will all, we Spanish women, undertake this liberating task. It is necessary now to do what women's associations never did, which pretended to emancipate the woman by forming a few typists and organizing some pleasant conferences, some recitals of elegant poets and poets. In some of the places we visited recently, we were shown, to a large extent, that "prostitution" had been "suppressed". At our request to know how and what we did with the women who practiced it, we were told: In some of the places we visited recently, we were shown, to a large extent, that "prostitution" would have been "suppressed". At our request to know how and what we did with the women who practiced it, we were told: In some of the places we visited recently, we were shown, to a large extent, that "prostitution" would have been "suppressed". At our request to know how and what we did with the women who practiced it, we were told:"It's their business" In this way, suppressing prostitution is very simple: it boils down to leaving women on the street, with no way to live. Mujeres Libres is creating liberation centers for prostitution that will start to function in the near future. To do this, premises are planned in various provinces and there will be the following program:

1. Psycho-psychiatric research and treatment 2. Psychological and ethical treatment to encourage a sense of responsibility among prostitutes. 3. Orientation and vocational training. 4. Moral and material help whenever necessary, even after becoming independent of the centers. » [5]

To liberate women and men from their chains and manners of a capitalist and patriarchal society. Free children from authoritarianism at school. A real utopia in action that, alas, will be slowed down with the advance of the counter-revolution by moderate Republicans and Stalinists as early as 1937. A utopia in action that will end definitively, in March 1939, when the boots of the troops of Franco will enter Barcelona.

Jérémie Berthuin (AL Gard)

The guerrillas of the cinema

In July 1936, the CNT's Single Union of Public Spectacles (SUEP) collectivized the film industry: " With the first revolutionary guerrilla forces, the first film guerrillas also went under the banner of libertarianism, " says Richard Prost , in the documentary film A cinema under influence. Unique in the history of cinema, this experience has allowed diversified expressions, militant, surreal, classic, surprising, transgressing taboos and social conventions. In 1936 and 1937, the CNT-SUEP produced and produced documentary films, reports on the front, but also fictions rooted in the reality of the time (no less than two hundred documentaries and eight fictions).Nosotros Somos Asi, Aurora Esperanza, Nuestro Guilty, Barrios Bajos are films both critical of capitalist society and intended for a very wide audience.

Nevertheless, as early as the summer of 1937, anarcho-syndicalist production declined, with the Communists putting an end to collectivizations, including that of the film industry. The cinema becomes more didactic, the production concerns essentially the documentaries and the news.

The Franco victory will mark the end of the innovative momentum of Spanish film production.

[1] Trade Union Struggle No. 192, January 22, 1937.

[2] Juan Puig Elias in Anti-Fascist Spain, August 26, 1936.

[3] Ibidem

[4] Mary Nash, Free Women, Spain 1936-1939, Éditions La pensée sauvage, 1977.

[5] Ibidem

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