Auteur: Christie, Stuart
Titel: General Franco made me a terrorist
Sub titel: The Christie File: part 2, 1964-1967
Stuart Christie, for those who don't know, is probably Scotland's most famous anarchist. The first volume of his autobiography ("My Granny made me an anarchist") recounted how he became an anarchist. It ended with him leaving Britain to aid the anarchist resistance against the fascist dictator of Spain General Franco. This volume picks up where the last one ended, namely his leaving Britain to take part in an anarchist plan to assassinate Franco. Christie, however, was arrested by Franco's secret police long before he completed his mission to give the explosives he smuggled into Spain to those who were planning the assassination. Christie recounts his experiences being arrested and his time in various Spanish prisons with assurance, humanity and wit. He is not afraid to talk about the failures and cock-ups, the bickering and the surreal along with the bravery and dedication. As such, it is a real treat to read, giving the human side which history books never really manage to do. His account of the characters he met and the life of political prisoners in Franco's regime is engrossing. Three things particularly resonated with me. Firstly, the dedication of the anarchists he met in the resistance both within and outwith prison. That they were willing to keep struggling in the face of such odds is inspiring. Secondly, how prison made Christie become aware that someone's politics and personality did not automatically match. Lastly, his account of the Stalinist prisoners he came across was deeply disturbing. They organised themselves into a tight little hierarchy, with the ordinary members banned from talking to their fellow political prisoners (particularly the anarchists). Clearly, the leadership knew they could only maintain their position if they had a loyal and obedient membership and that meant isolating the party rank and file from such dangers as alternative points of view and, of course, reality. Given the utter distortions of anarchist ideas I've came across over the years in Trotskyist journals I can see that that mentality is not gone the way of the USSR. One thing which this book brings out is the sick morality of statism. Christie was branded a "terrorist" for trying to assassinate Franco, yet Franco, as Christie points out in his introduction, reigned over "an unbroken chain of mass murder, repression and unimaginable suffering." This state terrorism has been quietly ignored, with every Spanish government (including Socialist ones) turning a blind eye to the murderers and fascists in their midst. Franco died in his bed a decade after Christie was arrested. Was the struggle which Christie's imprisonment was a part of worth it? Of course. As Christie puts it, "the anarchist creed is simple . . . only struggle determines outcome, and progress towards a more meaningful community must begin with the will to resist every form of injustice." We can never be sure of success, but if we don't try then failure is guaranteed. Christie's autobiography is a testament to this truth as well as the struggle of our comrades to end Franco's reign. Given that Christie himself was released early due to an international solidarity campaign which, on the face of it, looked unlikely to succeed, his autobiography serves to remind us that our activities can make a difference. In these grim days, that makes it a worthwhile as well as a wonderful read. I'm really looking forward to reading the third volume. That, I think, indicates why you should read this book. As in the first volume, this volume expands quite considerably on the original Christie File (published in 1980) and includes lots of pictures and appendices covering background details. And like the first (equally good) volume of Christie's memoirs, this book had been published as a limited edition. It costs so much in order to fund a bigger (and so cheaper) rerun. If you can afford it, please buy a copy or order a copy from your local library. It is such a good read that it should be made available to more people and buying this edition will help ensure that.
2003, 258 pag., Euro 45
Christie Books, East Sussex, ISBN 1873976194
This page last updated on: 13-1-2015