Auteur: Christie, Stuart
Titel: My Granny Made Me An Anarchist (limited edition)
Sub titel: The Christie File: part 1,1946-1964
This new autobiography from Stuart Christie comes as something of a surprise as it differs greatly from the first one, `The Christie File', issued in 1980, in which Stuart told the story of his time in Carabanchel prison in Madrid and, on his return to England, the police surveillance to which he was subjected, as well as his subsequent imprisonment. Although he pays tribute to it, the description of his family background stresses its religious divisions and quintessentially Scottish sectarianism. This examination of a life opens with a sort of report on the life of a young Scot and the religious prejudices that he encounters within the family as well as among his associates. The changing mores, the influence exercised upon the young by US and British musical groups, the ensuing impact on provincial life, all of this looms larger than psychological crises and internal dialogue. The beginnings of the British anti-nuclear Committee of 100 movement (with Bertrand Russell) provided Stuart’s political apprenticeship and he then threw himself full force into the libertarian movement. He speaks bluntly and without ambiguity about Freedom Press, the bookshop and publishing imprint alike - "owned by Vernon Richards [and] considered elitist inasmuch as it was not answerable to any movement or anyone other than its eccentric, cantankerous, arrogant and manipulative publisher, Vernon Richards.”. Stuart is certainly correct in most of his criticisms but Vernon Richards, it has to be admitted, had at least three things to his credit: his book Lessons of the Spanish Revolution [..] wherein he takes up the arguments set out by Pierre Besnard in articles carried by the Spanish CNT exile press - his Malatesta anthology and his English translation of Gaston Leval’s book on self-management during the Spanish civil war. His characterisation of 1960s Spain is spot on, although marred by an overly optimistic line on the 1962 strikes. Stuart grew weary of anti-Franco demos and was on the look-out for effective action and wanted to do his bit for the anti-Franco struggle. “My motives were mixed with a desire for excitement and adventure; but I felt that if I was going to do something adventurous it might as well be for something socially beneficial, as opposed to self-indulgence.. My conscious choice about the manner of my involvement in the anti-Francoist resistance was as a fighter - as opposed to being a helper of Franco’s victims. To do otherwise would have felt like running away, psychologically and intellectually. I would have felt hypocritical choosing the easy and safe - but useless and ineffective - options of demonstrations, picketing and leafleting and not challenging Franco head on, as it were.” The initial contacts were made through the Gurucharri brothers. Shortly before setting off for Spain in July 1964, Stuart was a participant in a TV programme about anarchists. Luckily, in the broadcast version, the part where he answered in the affirmative when asked it he was ready to assassinate Franco, was left on the cutting-room floor. His depiction of the London membership of anarchist circles allows him to invoke the politics of the day: the dealings between ban the Bombers and the far right for the purpose of swapping secret intelligence on certain individuals are especially intriguing. Light is also shed on the role of informers. Elsewhere, the depiction of the CNT exile scene in London brings to light the part played by Suceso Portales and the Mujeres Libres group. The reader will also find here details of the anti-Franco guerrilla war, the hijacking of the Portuguese liner Santa Maria, the establishment of Defensa Interior (the CNT’s so-called Internal Defence section), the renowned DI that injected fresh vigour into the activity of Libertarian Youth members as pat of the fight against fascism. Not one for waffle, Stuart correctly points out: “The DI was ill-starred. Although few of the exiles, if any, were aware of this at the time, its key mistake was to mingle, directly, the clandestine struggle inside Spain with the bureaucracy of a legally recognised organisation in exile, since the latter in reality did not want to become involved in anything that would upset their relatively secure and favoured status within France. The exile movement was also being closely monitored by the security services, not only of the host country - France - but also by the secret police of its declared enemy (who, according to contemporary Spanish secret police documents, were fully aware of the setting up of the DI).” Stuart goes on offer an insider’s description of the Delgado-Granado affair (they were sentenced to death for something that they had not done and executed in the summer of 1963 by the medieval Spanish method of the garrote vil, to use the description actually used under Spanish law. Abundantly illustrated, well written and unprejudiced, this first volume on the British anarchist movement and the CNT exiles is the best possible augury for the volumes to follow. September 2004 there will be published a paperback edition of this book.
2003, 266 pag., Euro 45
Christie Books, East Sussex, ISBN 1873976143
This page last updated on: 13-1-2015