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(en) anarkismo.net: The need to translate ideas into life by Alexander Berkman

Date Wed, 20 May 2020 09:41:20 +0300


Such training methods, which essentially help children's quality and ambition of knowledge, will develop a generation with healthy spiritual independence. They will produce capable men and women, according to Francisco Ferrer, "evolving without stopping, destroying and renewing their environment without interruption, renewing themselves; always ready to accept the best, happy with the triumph of the young." ideas, which aspire to live many lives in one ". The hope of human progress rests on these men and women. The future belongs to them. And it is, to a very significant degree, our own jurisdiction that we must pave the way. Francisco Ferrer's death was in vain, our indignation, our sympathy and our admiration were useless,
The need to translate ideas into life
Alexander Berkman

A year has passed since the death of Francisco Ferrer. His martyrdom has provoked almost universal outrage against the stallion priest and ruler who sentenced a noble man to death. Thoughtful, progressive people around the world have expressed their protest in an indisputable way. Everywhere there was a great deal of sympathy for Ferrer, the modern victim of the Spanish Sacred Examination, but also a deep appreciation for his work and goals. In short, Ferrer's death-like probably no other martyrdom in recent history ?? has revived human social consciousness. He has clarified the eternally unchanging attitude of the Church as an enemy of progress. The State has been widely portrayed as the unspoken enemy of all popular progress. Has, finally,

It would be a pity if the spiritual and emotional processes that arose were thus exhausted, with a simple indignation and a cheap conjecture as to the insignificant details of Ferrer's personality and life. Protests and memorial events are quite necessary and useful, at the right time and place. They have already succeeded, in terms of the world in general that takes part in them, which is a great educational project. Through them, social consciousness led to the realization of the enormous crime committed by the Church and the Spanish State.

But "the world in general" is not easily pushed into action. It takes many terrible witnesses to upset the balance of inaction. And even when it is disturbed, it tends to quickly return to its previous immobility. It is the thinkers, the radical elements, who are, literally, those who move the world, those who spiritually and emotionally disturb this stupid serenity. They must never suffer to be inactive, because they too are in danger of growing up simply absorbed by the witness and the rhetorical admiration of his great work. As Ferrer himself wisely warned: "Idols are created when people praise them and that is very bad for the future of the human race.

These words of Francisco Ferrer must be imprinted on our minds. Especially radicals - in any ideological direction - have a lot to learn in this regard. We have devoted too much time to the dead, and not enough to the living. We have idealized our witnesses to the point of neglecting the practical needs of the case for which they died. We have idealized our ideals, excluding their application in real life. The reason for this was an immature assessment of our ideals. They were very sacred for everyday use. The result is obvious and rather discouraging. After a quarter of a century - and more - of radical propaganda, we can point out that no particular success has taken place. Some progress, no doubt, has been made, but in no way is it commensurate with the enormous efforts that have been made. This relative failure, in turn, has a further disappointing effect: the old radicals are abandoning their ranks, frustrated, while the most active workers have become indifferent, discouraged by the lack of results.

This is the story of every global revolutionary idea of our time. But this is especially true of the anarchist movement. Certainly, given its nature, it is not a movement that can have immediate tangible results, such as a political movement that can succeed. It can also be said that the difference between even the most advanced political movement, such as socialism, and anarchism is this: one seeks to transform political and economic conditions, while the other's goal includes a complete assessment of individual and social perceptions. Such a gigantic task is inevitably slow to progress, nor is its progress counted by ballots or the like. It is his failure to fully realize the enormous work that is partly responsible for the pessimism that so often transcends the active spirits of our movement. Added to this is the lack of clarity on how to socialize.
The Old will give birth to the New. How do these things happen? as little Wendla asks her mother in Wedekind's "Frühlings Erwachen" *. We have overcome the stork of the Social Revolution that will give us the newborn child of ready equality, brotherhood and freedom. We now perceive the next social life as a condition and not as a system. A state of mind, above all. No one relies on the solidarity of interests arising from social understanding and enlightened self-interest. A system can be organized. A situation must develop. This development is determined by the existing environment and the spiritual tendencies of the time. The causal link between the two is undoubtedly mutually exclusive and interdependent, but the factor of individual and propaganda effort must not be underestimated.
Human social life is a center, as it were, from where many spiritual tendencies radiate, cross and intersect, recede and approach each other in an endless succession. Convergence points create new centers, exerting various influences on the larger center, on the general life of mankind. Thus new spiritual and moral atmospheres are created, the degree of whose influence depends, above all, on the active enthusiasm of those who have been attached to this process. Ultimately, the affinity between the new ideal and the demands of human nature. By playing this real string, the new ideal will increasingly influence spiritual centers which are gradually beginning to be interpreted in life and to change the values of the great general center,
Anarchism is such a spiritual and moral atmosphere. With a sure hand he has touched the heart of humanity, influencing the primary minds of the world in literature, art and philosophy. He has resurrected the individual from the ruins of social catastrophe. In the forefront of human progress, his own progress is necessarily painfully slow: the lead weight of so many seasons of ignorance and superstition hangs heavily at his feet. But his slow progress should by no means be discouraged. On the contrary, it demonstrates the need for greater effort, the consolidation of existing freedom centers, and the uninterrupted activity of creating new ones.

The immaturity of the past had blinded our vision to the real demands of the situation. Anarchism was considered, even by its supporters, to be ideal for the future. Its practical application in current life has been completely ignored. Propaganda was limited to the hope of reaching the Social Revolution. Preparation for the new social life was not considered necessary. The gradual development and regeneration of the coming day did not introduce revolutionary perceptions. The dawn had been overlooked. A fatal mistake, because there is no day without dawn.
The martyrdom of Francisco Ferrer will not be in vain if through it the anarchists - like other radical elements - realize that, in both social and individual life, perception precedes birth. The social perception that we need and need to have is the creation of freedom centers that will radiate the atmosphere of dawn in the life of humanity.

Many such centers are possible. But most important of all is youthful life, the emerging generation. After all, they will take on the task of promoting this project. It is in the proportion that the new generation will grow up more enlightened and libertarian that we will approach a freer society. However, from this point of view, we anarchists, socialists and other radicals have been and continue to be unjustifiably negligent. Protesting against the educational system that reproduces superstitions, we continue to subjugate our children to their painful influence.

We condemn the madness of war, but we allow our descendants to be imbued with the poison of patriotism. We are more or less emancipated from false bourgeois standards, still suffering from the fact that our children are altered by the hypocrisy of the established. Each such parent directly helps to perpetuate the dominant ignorance and slavery. Can we really expect a generation to be brought up in the atmosphere of an oppressive, authoritarian educational regime, to be the cornerstone of a free, independent humanity? These parents are criminally guilty of themselves and their children: they raise the ghost that will separate their home from themselves and strengthen the strongholds of darkness.

No intelligent radical can fail to realize the need for rational youth education. The upbringing of the child must be a process of liberation with methods that will not impose ready-made ideas, but that will help his natural self-development. The purpose of this training is not to force the child to adapt to acceptable concepts, but to leave the game free in its originality, initiative and individuality. Only by releasing education from coercion and any kind of restriction can we create the environment for the expression of spontaneous interest and intrinsic motivation on the part of the child. Only in this way can we provide reasonable conditions conducive to the development of the child's natural tendencies and latent emotional and mental abilities. Such training methods, which essentially help children's quality and ambition of knowledge, will develop a generation with healthy spiritual independence. They will produce capable men and women, according to Francisco Ferrer, "evolving without stopping, destroying and renewing their environment without interruption, renewing themselves; always ready to accept the best, happy with the triumph of the young." ideas, which aspire to live many lives in one ". The hope of human progress rests on these men and women. The future belongs to them. And it is, to a very significant degree, with our own jurisdiction to pave the way. Francisco Ferrer's death was in vain, our indignation, sympathy and admiration were useless, unless we translated the ideals of the martyred teacher into practice and life and thus promote the human struggle for enlightenment and freedom.

A start has already been made. Several schools, in Ferrer's slums, already exist and operate in New York and Brooklyn. Classes are also set to begin in Philadelphia and Chicago. At present, efforts are limited due to a lack of help and teachers in Sunday schools. But it is the core of great, extensive dynamics. America's radical elements, and especially the Francisco Ferrer Association, could not promote any more dignified and lasting work in the memory of the martyred teacher Francisco Ferrer than with a generous response to this call for the establishment of the first Day. Francisco Ferrer School in America.

* "Frühlings Erwachen" was the opera of the composer Frank Wedekind, written in 1890-1891, but uploaded after 1906, originally in the Netherlands. In Greek it can be translated as "The Awakening of Spring".

** Alexander Berkman's text was published under the title "The Need Of Translating Ideals Into Life", in the anarchist review "Mother Earth" issue 9, November 1910. Translation: Neither God nor Master.

https://www.anarkismo.net/article/31888
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