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(en) Freedom 6322 Nov 16th 2002 - Around the world Opening the suitcase

From Worker <a-infos-en@ainfos.ca>
Date Fri, 29 Nov 2002 03:03:26 -0500 (EST)

      A - I N F O S  N E W S  S E R V I C E

Emma Goldman was one of the twentieth century's principal
exponents of anarchism, which she herself characterised as "the
philosophy of a new social order based on liberty unrestricted by
man-made law; the theory that all forms of government rest on
violence, and are therefore wrong and harmful, as well as
unnecessary". Her commitment to anarchism and her activist
inclinations led her to champion the causes of labour,
anti-militarism, atheism, prison reform and women's rights, in
the United States (where she lived for much of her adult life) and
Even after her deportation to Russia in 1919 and her subsequent
disillusion with the Soviet 'revolution' there, she never gave up
the hope of her ideals finding fertile ground. They finally did, in
Spain. In 1936, citizens and workers of the anarcho-syndicalist
Confederacion Nacional del Trabajo (CNT) and Federacion
Anarquista Iberica (FAI) fought back against an army uprising.
In the revolution which followed, anarchist ideals of mutual aid
and anti-authoritarianism were vindicated. Factory and
agricultural collectives took over the everyday business of
running society, creating a rich culture and equalitarian society
which are almost completely forgotten today outside the
anarchist movement itself.
Emma, 67 years old at the time, rushed to lend the revolution
her support. She travelled to London as a CNT-FAI
representative, seeking support and money for the cause. After
the defeat of the revolution and the victory of Franco's fascist
army, Emma travelled to Canada. Arriving in Toronto with her
well-worn suitcase in hand, she was taken in by friends and
comrades. In return, she was active in procuring help for tens of
thousands of Spanish exiles interned in French concentration
camps. She also devoted boundless energies to causes closer to
home, including the campaign to prevent the deportation of
Italian anarchist Attilio Bortolotti from Canada to Mussolini's
Italy, where he would've faced certain death.
After her death in 1940, her dusty old suitcase, representing
many years of travel and activism, came to rest in the home of
Federico Arcos, a refugee from Franco's regime. Now this same
suitcase provides the title for a film being made by Canadian film
makers Pacific Street Films.
The Suitcase: The legacy of Emma Goldman and the Spanish
Revolution, will feature original production and footage culled
from the filmmakers' own extensive archives. These include a
newsreel, produced by the CNT and narrated by Emma,
documenting the death of militia leader Buenaventura Durruti on
the Aragon front. The film was only rediscovered by Pacific
Street Films in 1980.
As well as an extensive interview with Federico Arcos, The
Suitcase will feature a vivid account of life with Emma and her
partner, Alexander Berkman, recorded by the artist and radical
Alfred Levitt before his death, aged 105, in 2000. As a teenage
immigrant from Russia, he'd been hired by Emma to clean the
New York offices of her newspaper, Mother Earth. He shared
many outings to the beach at Coney Island with the couple.
Clark Bortree of Pacific Street Films says, "we've been prompted
to begin work on this project, and reopen our archives, as a
result of several Emma Goldman documentaries that have either
been produced in the last few years or are in the planning stages.
>From our research, they've offered either a confused portrait of
Emma or are inclined towards divorcing her from her anarchist
principles. For her, the Spanish Revolution, short-lived as it was,
was the proving ground for her belief that society could and
should be run by a collective of citizens, not a small cabal of
power-hungry functionaries."
To follow the progress of the film, visit Pacific Street Films at

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