How are we to establish a truly free and egalitarian society?

by Ba Jin

These days these words “freedom and equality” are part of the vocabulary of each and every one of us. But make a few inquiries and ask: What is freedom? and you will be told “Freedom means freedom of opinion, freedom of the press, freedom of association and assembly, the freedom of secrecy of correspondence”.

Ask: What is equality? and you will be told: “All citizens are equal before the law, with no difference between the high-born and the yokel.” Now, such narrow definitions have nothing to do with true freedom, true equality. Don’t believe me? Then have a read of the following.

The blight upon the people’s freedom is the State. Ever since the State came into existence, we have stopped being free. No matter what we do or say, the State sticks its nose in. All we ask is to live in love with our brethren from other nations, but the State would have us patriots at any price, enrols us in its armies and forces us to murder our neighbours. And here in China the situation is even worse: here we have Chinese murdering other Chinese. For a number of years now, in Hunan and Shaanxi and Szechuan, “the tide of blood has been running high and the corpses are piling up”.

What horror! So much for the benefits that the State has brought us. Arrogating to themselves the resources that are the common wealth of our planet, the capitalists grind us into a poverty that denies us the right to live. Not that the State punishes them for it: worse still, it protects them through a battery of laws.

The people has nothing to eat and has no option but to steal its food: it goes naked and has no option but to steal clothes: it has no option but to steal all that it needs. The people is driven to all this by the capitalists. And there goes the State, in its grandeur, dismissing us as brigands and decreeing that we are fit for nothing but the execution picket. We are gunned down merely for recouping — in contravention of the law, to be sure — a fraction of what we had lost, whereas the capitalists who loot the commonwealth of our planet are allowed to live in peace. If we are refused the right to steal, there is nothing left for us but to become beggars. Lo and behold, the capitalists, offended by the spectacle, bestow alms upon the poor and afford them a little of the money that they have stolen from them: and upon this they bestow the fine-sounding name of charity. Some of them even have the effrontery to insult us because we beg for our pittance instead of working for it.

Gentlemen! Can you be so sure that we do not want to work? It is more a case of our being denied work. Yet we are showered with insults. Looking at it from this angle, we can see that the “freedom and equality” of which we have just been speaking are alien to the people! Indeed, can one speak here of “freedom” and “equality”? I refuse to credit that there can be any freedom of that sort! Any equality of that stripe! But what then are real freedom and real equality?

Here comes my answer: Anarchy. That is the real freedom. And communism is the real equality. Only a social revolution can allow us to build a really free and really egalitarian society.

But what is Anarchy?

Anarchy is the placing of the State and its accessory institutions upon the Index and collective ownership of the means of production and goods produced. Every individual contributing in accordance with his ability and receiving in accordance with his needs. And work shared out according to the ability of the individual: whoever has the ability to be a doctor does the doctoring, and whoever has the ability to mine does the mining. More time devoted to straightforward tasks and less time squandered on complicated or tiresome ones. An agency to find you food when you are hungry, clothing to wear and a roof under which to shelter. Everybody in receipt of the same education, with no distinction drawn between the clever and the slow-witted.

Time and again, one French anarchist has reiterated: “Every individual need work only two hours a day if all the needs of society are to be met”. And Kropotkin too has stated: “If everyone works four hours a day, that will be enough — indeed, more than enough — to meet society’s needs.”

I imagine that such a proposition, cutting working hours to the bone, could not help but attract universal support. Without the State and its laws, we would have real freedom: without the capitalist class, we would have real equality.

Friends of the world of labour, can you see just how free a society rid of all authoritarian power would be? Can you see how egalitarian it would be? Are you willing to build such a society of freedom and equality? Well then, make the social revolution and have done with these rascally politics.

For the sake of the advent of a society of freedom and equality, let us hope that you and your friends will soon come together as one! As long as you endure it all with resignation, you will be fodder for the capitalists!

If you do not believe me, you will see for yourselves!

Ba Jin

Retrieved on November 24, 2010 from www.katesharpleylibrary.net Appeared in Banyue (Fortnight), Chengdu, China, No 17, 1 April 1921, over Ba Jin’s real name Li Feigan

Grande-Bretagne: La montée alarmante du Virgin Care de Branson et la menace pour le système de santé publique (NHS)

11/01/2018, SolFed-AIT, http://www.solfed.org.uk/manchester/the-alarming-rise-of-bransons-virgin-care-and-the-threat-to-the-nhs

Le « bon vieux » Sir Richard Branson a une fois de plus réussi à se placer en tête de la file d’attente pour recevoir des dons de l’État. Après avoir passé des années à transformer l’argent public en profits massifs chez Virgin Rail (la SNVF anglaise qu’il a acheté lors de sa privatisation), il se concentre maintenant pour traire le plus possible de lait du Service Public de Santé (NHS).

Richard Branson, PDF de Virgin, qui met la main sur la santé publique
en Grande Bretagne après avoir dépouillé d’autres secteurs économiques

Les chiffres publiés en janvier 2018 montrent que sa société, Virgin Care, a remporté un montant record de 1 milliard de livres sterling de contrats NHS en 2017. Ajouté aux contrats déjà existants, cela signifie que Virgin Care a maintenant plus de 400 contrats NHS distincts. C’est drôle de voir comment ces défenseurs acharnés du libre marché capitaliste, tels que Branson, semblent être capables d’avaler leurs principes anti-étatiques lorsqu’il s’agit de réclamer des subventions de l’État. Le bon vieux Sir Richard a même été jusqu’au au point de poursuivre le NHS en 2017 lorsque Virgin Care a perdu un contrat de 82 millions de livres sterling. Au cours du processus, il a remporté une somme non divulguée qui, autrement, aurait été gaspillée pour soigner des malades.

Cependant, ne vous inquiétez pas, l’amour de la pin-up capitaliste Branson pour l’État ne s’étend pas jusqu’à payer des impôts. Toutes ses sociétés relèvent d’une seule société mère, Virgin Group Holdings, basée aux îles Vierges, qui se trouve être un paradis fiscal. Il y a déménagé depuis qu’il a été poursuivi pour évasion fiscale en 1971, apprenant rapidement qu’il est normal de ne pas payer d’impôts au Royaume-Uni aussi longtemps que vous êtes assez riche et suffisamment connecté.

Peut-être sommes-nous un peu trop cyniques ici; après tout, lorsqu’il a été révélé pour la première fois que le bon vieux Sir Richard ne payait pas d’impôts au Royaume-Uni, il a expliqué que s’il vivait sur son île privée des Caraïbes, Necker Island, ce n’était pas pour des raisons fiscales et éviter de payer des impôts, mais pour des raisons de … santé ! Nul doute que cet intérêt particulier pour la santé se transposera aussi au NHS, et qu’il s’assurera que Virgin Care gère ses contrats de la même manière que Virgin Rail gère les trains. La différence, cependant, est que les «clients» en paieront le prix, non pas en termes de trains surpeuplés et continuellement en retard, mais plutôt en termes de dommages à leur santé.

Nous ne devons pas non plus nous enfuir en courant avec l’idée que les échecs de Branson sont limités aux seuls trains Virgin. Derrière son sourire de gagneur et ses manières simples, l’entrepreneur préféré du pays a une longue histoire de faillites d’entreprises. Virgin Cola, saluée par Branson en 1994 comme le successeur inévitable de Coca-Cola, a pratiquement disparu. Les vêtements Virgin Clothes, lancée en bourse en 1996, ont été rangés au placard avec des pertes pour les actionnaires. Virgin Money a été lancé avec une publicité fastueuse mettant en vedette Branson émergeant nu de la mer, mais n’a pas livré les grandes récompenses financières attendues. Puis vinrent Virgin Vie, Virgin Vision, Virgin Vodka, Virgin Wine, Virgin Jeans, Virgin Brides, Virgin Cosmetics et Virgin Cars, aucun d’entre eux ne réalisant les rêves gonflés de leur créateur.

Virgin Express, une compagnie aérienne basée à Bruxelles, était destinée à rivaliser avec EasyJet, mais les premiers investisseurs en bourse ont perdu leur argent. De même, les frères McCarthy, qui ont investi plus de 30 millions de livres dans l’entreprise V2, la deuxième compagnie musicale de Branson, ont perdu tout leur argent et ont fait face à une faillite personnelle. Les Australiens qui ont investi dans l’introduction en bourse en 2003 de Virgin Blue, une compagnie aérienne sans fioritures, ont récompensé Branson avec plus de 200 millions de livres sterling pour une participation de son investissement initial. Au départ, la compagnie aérienne a réussi, mais peu de temps après que Branson ait empoché l’argent, les actionnaires ont vu le cours de l’action chuter. De même, les plans dans lesquels les médecins généralistes seraient payés ou, plus précisément, soudoyés pour avoir référé des patients du NHS à des services privés de Virgin ont été abandonnés en juin 2008. L’Association des Médecins Britanniques (BMA) a averti que le plan «porterait atteinte à l’objectivité clinique», car il y aurait une incitation financière pour les médecins généralistes à pousser les patients vers les services Virgin.

Le problème ne se limite pas non plus au fait que le seul moyen par lequel le bon vieux Sir Richard semble capable de faire prospérer les entreprises est d’arnaquer les contribuables ou les investisseurs. Au fil des ans, il a été impliqué dans certaines «pratiques commerciales douteuses» – nous ne pouvons jamais utiliser le terme «activités criminelles» pour discuter de ce que les riches font. Par exemple, en 2006, les autorités de la concurrence du Royaume-Uni et des États-Unis ont enquêté sur les activités de fixation des prix de Virgin Atlantic et de British Airways. British Airways a été condamnée à une amende de 271 millions de livres sterling pour ces allégations tandis que le bon vieux Sir Richard n’a reçu aucune amende, ce que l’Office of Fair Trading (le Bureau pour le respect de la concurrence) a défendu comme étant dans «l’intérêt public», car Virgin Atlantic avait coopéré pour aider à poursuivre en justice British Airways.

Compte tenu du bilan douteux du bon vieux Sir Richard, vous vous demandez peut-être pourquoi les conservateurs confient les contrats du NHS à Virgin. Eh bien, il y a un petit problème ici. Les conservateurs, pour des raisons idéologiques, détestent le NHS; en fait, ils détestent à peu près toute activité humaine non motivée par la cupidité et un intérêt personnel étroit. Mais ils font face à un électorat britannique qui refuse catégoriquement d’accepter l’orthodoxie du libre marché selon laquelle le niveau de soins de santé reçus doit être déterminé par la taille de la bourse d’une personne. Sachant qu’une privatisation pure et simple entraînerait un suicide électoral, les conservateurs se sont lancés dans une privatisation en deux étapes. Ils dirigent le NHS vers le sol en le privant de fonds tout en vendant lentement le NHS par petits morceaux, chaque morceau à la fois. La première partie de la stratégie est bien engagée avec le NHS dans un état de crise quasi permanente. Au moment d’écrire ces lignes, nous sommes au milieu de la «crise hivernale» annuelle. Le but de cet état de crise permanente est d’éroder lentement la confiance dans le NHS jusqu’à un point où les gens sentent qu’il n’y a guère d’autre choix que la privatisation massive. On nous dit maintenant constamment que la nation ne peut plus se permettre d’avoir un service de santé publique comme le NHS.

La deuxième partie de la stratégie commence également à s’accélérer. Les chiffres de 2017 montrent que 3,1 milliards de livres sterling de contrats du NHS ont été remportées par des entreprises du secteur privé, ce qui représente plus des deux cinquièmes (43%) d’un total de 7,2 milliards de livres sterling de contrats soumis par le NHS, et dépasse les 2,55 milliards de livres sterling ( 35%) des offres remportées par les trusts du NHS. Pendant ce temps, cet autre cheval de Troie de la privatisation, le secteur «à but non lucratif», a remporté 1,53 milliard de livres (21%) de contrats.

Compte tenu de l’ampleur de la privatisation, ce n’est qu’une question de temps avant que le NHS ne devienne un fournisseur minoritaire de services de santé.

En procédant à la privatisation, les conservateurs ont appris un truc ou deux de cet ami proche du bon vieux Sir Richard, le bon vieux Tony Blair [dirigeant du parti socialiste anglais, le Labour Party], en gardant les services gratuits au point d’utilisation tout en privatisant lentement les fournisseurs de services. Le problème est que ces prestataires de services privatisés font souvent un hachage complet des choses. Il existe de nombreux exemples parmi lesquels choisir: Serco a mis fin à son contrat pour fournir des médecins généralistes en dehors des heures d’ouverture après que le personnel ait falsifié des données sur ses performances, tandis que la prise en charge par Coperforma de 63,5 millions de livres sterling du transport non urgent des patients à l’hôpital s’est terminée de manière dramatique après que des patients en attente de dialyse et de chimiothérapie aient manqué leurs rendez-vous vitaux. Le point ici est que, si les plans de privatisation des conservateurs étaient conçus pour vraiment fonctionner, vous ne pourriez pas avoir d’entreprises qui reprennent des services du NHS qui foirent tout en permanence.

Entre alors en scène l’homme du peuple et le Monsieur gentil, le bon vieux Sir Richard. Bien que sa réputation ait pu être ternie ces derniers temps, la seule chose que Branson est douée, en plus de faire de l’argent, ce sont les relations publiques. Quelques dons bien placés et bien médiatisés aux bonnes causes, avec le soutien des médias, et il n’est pas difficile de le voir retrouver son statut de trésor national, un trésor national à la tête d’un prestataire de santé privé de plus en plus monolithique maintenu à flot par des subventions publiques et capable de contester la dominance du NHS. En d’autres termes, il s’agit d’un rêve humide conservateur, ce qui pourrait expliquer pourquoi Virgin Care a remporté un peu moins d’un tiers du nombre total de contrats NHS attribués au secteur privé en 2017.

En tant qu’anarcho-syndicalistes, nous avons de nombreuses critiques sur le fonctionnement du NHS, notamment sur ses structures totalement antidémocratiques. Bien que nous soyons favorables à un service de santé contrôlé et géré par la communauté, nous trouvons la perspective de voir la santé des gens remise aux soins affectueux aux types tels que Branson tout à fait épouvantables. Alors sachez que si la privatisation n’est pas stoppée et que vous avez la malchance de tomber malade, vous risquez de devoir regarder des images géantes du visage souriant du bon vieux Sir Richard dans l’ambulance, à l’hôpital, au bloc opératoire et, eh bien, à peu près partout. Certains pourraient penser que la mort serait plus préférable. Espérons plus de chance la prochaine fois que le bon vieux Sir Richard s’écrasera avec sa montgolfière !!!

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Extrait du Bulletin d’info international « un autre futur pour la santé »#2

Another Future for health !

Another Future for health #2

international information for health workers from anarchosyndicalist perspective

News and analysis from France, Spain, UK, Serbia, Ukraine, Bulgaria, Austria, Germany, Iran, Bangladesh, Poland

30 pages, to be downloaded

Revolution through health,
health through Revolution

Digest of international information from health and care workers, from an anarchosyndicalist perspective #2 – second semester 2020

When we produced the first issue of this digest, in Summer 2020, we were only at the start of the Covid 19 pandemic, after the end of the first lockdown. We were already presenting that we were living historic times, with dramatic consequences for millions of people on earth, but we did not imagine that the situation would continue and even worsen 6 months later.

Workers in the health and care sector are on the front lines in fighting the disease. The State has asked them to make superhuman efforts, and it continues. A new world is emerging on the horizon, which we fear will be more authoritarian than ever, and that in the name of health. More than ever, it seems important to us that health workers in different countries can inform each other about their respective situation, because in a globalized world we are all interdependent. Beyond analyzes of the situation, examples of resistance implemented in a self-organized way by the workers themselves can also inspire us and encourage us in our struggles

This digest is made by health workers from CNT-AIT France. We are the section in France of the AIT (International Workers’ Association, IWA). The CNT-AIT brings together workers who identify with the principles, tactics and goals of anarchosyndicalism. With this bulletin we want to contribute to a work of collective critical reflection, beyond borders. We have chosen and collected texts produced by different groups around the world, which are active in the health and care sector. Some of these groups are, for the most part, members or friends of AIT, others do not belong to our international, but with all of them we maintain fraternal and reciprocal contacts.

It emerges from these articles that overall the situation is the same everywhere: lack of resources, lack of training, personnel sacrificed by the lack of preparation of the health services which have been destroyed for several years in the name of managerial efficiency and financial profitability. . We can see today the effectiveness of these restructurings … This disorganization and this chaos itself are not the fruits of chance, they are not due to anarchists, they are the result of the combined action of the State and of Capitalism.

To save humanity, we have no choice but to organize ourselves collectively to end the state and capitalism.

If you wish to continue receiving this newsletter, contact us at contact@cnt-ait.info

« Anarchy is the highest expression of Order. »
(E RECLUS)
Let’s finish with the Chaos of State and Capitalism!


CONTENT

[France] “LET’S GO” TOWARD TOTAL PRIVATISATION OF PUBLIC HEALTH.

[France] PARIS, HEALTH WORKERS DEMONSTRATION, June 16, 2020.

Claude Bernard, Bachelard and Feyerabend: three scientists against scientism

[France] In health services as everywhere: work and die.

HISTORY: HOW DID SPANISH ANARCHOSYNDICALISTS MANAGED THE PUBLIC HEALTH DURING THE 36’s REVOLUTION? (An example of libertarian communism applied in accute health crisis time).

NURSING HOMES, HOSPITALS: TO EXHAUST AT WORK FOR A WAGE OF MISERY? [Sticker]

FREE MASKS FOR ALL ! [Sticker]

[Spain] Public health privatization, the Spanish health nightmare …

[Spain] Against wage insecurity in retirement homes and nursing HOMES!

[Spain] AT THE « L’ARBOC » NURSING HOME, THE MANAGEMENT REFUSES TO RECOGNIZE THE CNT-AIT SECTION

[Ukraine] Worthy salary for the nurses!

[Bulgaria] The pandemic as a class war against workers.

[Bulgaria] Crackdown on striking health workers.

[Bulgaria/Austria] Solidarity with the struggle of Bulgarian nurses.

[Bulgaria/Austria] SARS-CoV-2 Aid delivery has arrived in Bulgaria!

[Austria] POLITICAL DISCRIMINATION AT THE RED CROSS.

[Germany] Protest march against health care crisis in Cologne.

[Iran] Demonstration of the medical students of Tabriz.

[Bangladesh] Distribution of washable masks to tea workers.

[UK] Reduced Life = Reduced Work (The Work/Life Balance).

[UK] The Alarming Rise of Branson’s Virgin Care and the Threat to the NHS.

[UK] World Suicide Prevention Day- Breaking the taboo is everyone’s responsibility.

[Serbia] DRAMATIC SITUATION IN HOSPITALS.

[Poland] WOMEN’S HELL.

[Poland] A LOOK BACK AT A SUCCESSFUL STRIKE OF HOUSEKEEPERS AND KITCHEN STAFF AT THE BELCHATOW HOSPITAL

UCHIYAMA GUDŌ: FROM SŌTŌ ZEN BOUDDHISM TO ANARCHISM

This article is the chapter 3 of the book « Zen at War by Brian (Daizen) A. Victoria« . (New York & Tokyo: Weatherhill, 1997. pp. 66–73.) This author is not an anarchist, but a contemporary follower of Zen Buddhism, who tries to understand why and how Zen Buddhism was able to constitute one of the pillars of the militarist, imperialist and racist ideology of the Japanese state in the 1900-1945 period.

This chapter highlights one of the precursors of anarchism and anarchosyndicalism, Uchyuma Gudo. He is less well known than Kotoku Sushui, certainly because he was less intellectual. But its course is interesting to know, because it demonstrates the universalism of anarchism.

it also shows how contemporary Buddhists (and even the author in some way) try to mitigate the past crimes of their sect, recovering Uchiyama’s memory and trying to posthumously reintegrate him among their members. Yet Uchyama had begun to reject some of the fundamental principles of Buddhism, such as reincarnation, and he claimed his faith in universalism and Reason.


By the time of the Russo-Japanese War it is fair to say that the clerical and scholarly leaders of Japan’s traditional Buddhist sects were firm supporters of the government’s policies, especially its war policies. But this does not mean that there was no Buddhist resistance to the government. There were, in fact, a few Buddhist priests who not only opposed what they believed to be their government’s increasingly repressive and imperialistic policies but actually sacrificed their lives in the process of doing so.

This chapter will focus on one such group of « radical » Buddhists. Because they were quite small in number, it might be argued that this attention is unwarranted, but few as they were, they had a significant impact on the Buddhist leaders of their time, especially as those leaders continued to formulate their individual and collective responses to Japan’s military expansion abroad and political repression at home.

RADICAL BUDDHIST PRIESTS AND THE HIGH TREASON INCIDENT

It is the High Treason Incident (Taigyaku Jiken) of 1910 that first brought to light the existence of politically radical Buddhist priests. Twenty-six people were arrested for their alleged participation in a conspiracy to kill one or more members of the imperial family. Four of those arrested were Buddhist priests: Shin sect priest Takagi Kemmyō (1864-1914), a second Shin priest, Sasaki Dōgen; a Rinzai Zen sect priest, Mineo Setsudō (1885-1919); and Sōtō Zen sect priest Uchiyama Gudō (1874-1911). All of the defendants were convicted and twenty-four were condemned to death, though later twelve had their sentences commuted to life imprisonment. Uchiyama Gudō was the only priest to be executed. The remaining three Buddhist priests were among those with commuted sentences, though they also all eventually died in
prison, Takagi Kemrnyō at his own hand.

As the execution of Gudō indicates, the authorities clearly considered
him to be the worst of the four priests. This is not surprising, for of all the
priests Gudō was the most actively involved in the movement that the Meiji
government found so reprehensible. Gudō also left behind the most written
material substantiating his beliefs. This said, even Gudō’s writings contain
little that directly addresses the relationship he saw between the Law of the Buddha and his own social activism. This is not surprising, since neither he nor the other three priests claimed to be Buddhist scholars or possess special expertise in either Buddhist doctrine or social, political, or economic theory. They might best be described as social activists who, based on their Buddhist faith, were attempting to alleviate the mental and physical suffering they saw around them, especially in Japan’s impoverished rural areas.

The Japanese government attempted to turn all of the accused in the High Treason Incident into nonpersons, even before their convictions. The court proceedings were conducted behind closed doors, and no press coverage was allowed, because, the government argued, would be « prejudicial to peace and order, or to the maintenance of public morality. » Gudō’s temple of Rinsenji was raided and all his writings and correspondence removed as evidence, never to surface again. Only a few statues of Buddha Shakyamuni that Gudō had carved and presented to his parishioners were left behind. Even his death did not satisfy the authorities. They would not allow his name to appear on his gravemarker at Rinsenji. In fact, when one of his parishioners subsequently dared to leave some flowers on his grave, the police instituted a search throughout the village of Ōhiradai, located in the mountainous Hakone district of Kanagawa Prefecture, to find the offender.

UCHIYAMA’S LIFE

Early Life

Uchiyama was born on May 17, 1874, in the village of Ojiya in Niigata Prefecture. His childhood name was Keikichi, and he was the oldest of four children. Gudō’s father, Naokichi, made his living as a woodworker and carver, specializing in Buddhist statues, family altars, and associated implements. As a child, Gudō learned this trade from his father, and, as noted above, later carved Buddhist statues that he presented to his parishioners at Rinsenji. Even today these simple yet serene nine-inch images of Buddha Shakyamuni are highly valued among the villagers.

Gudō was an able student, earning an award for academic excellence from the prefectural governor. Equally important, he was introduced at an early age to the thinking of a mid-seventeenth-century social reformer by the name of Sakura Sōgorō, Discussions of such issues as the need for land reform to eliminate rural poverty and the enfranchisement of women were an integral part of his childhood education.

Gudō lost his father at the age of sixteen. In his book Buddhists Who Sought Change (Henkaku o Motometa Bukkyōsha), Inagaki Masami identifies this early death as a significant factor in Gudō’s later decision to enter the Buddhist priesthood. On April 12, 1897, Gudō underwent ordination in the Sōtō Zen sect as a disciple of Sakazume Kōjū, abbot of Hōzōji temple.

Over the following seven years, Gudō studed Buddhism academically and trained as a Zen novice in a number of Sōtō Zen temples, chief among them the monastery of Kaizōji in Kanagawa Prefecture. On October 10, 1901, Gudō became the Dharma successor of Miyagi Jitsumyō, abbot of Rinsenji. Three years later, on February 9, 1904, Gudō succeeded his master as Rinsenji’s abbot, thus bringing to an end his formal Zen training.

The temple Gudō succeeded to was exceedingly humble. For one thing, it had no more than forty impoverished families to provide financial support. Aside from a small thatched-roof main hall, its chief assets were two trees, one a persimmon and the other a chestnut, located on the temple grounds. Village tradition states that every autumn Gudō would invite the villagers to the temple to divide the harvest from these trees equally among themselves.

In his discussions with village youth, Gudō once again directed his attention to the problem of rural poverty. He identified the root of the problem as being an unjust economic system, one in which a few individuals owned the bulk of the land and the majority of the rural population was reduced to tenancy. Gudō became an outspoken advocate of land reform, something that would eventually come to pass, but not until many years later, after Japan’s defeat in the Pacific War.

What is significant about Gudō’s advocacy of land reform is that he based his position on his understanding of Buddhism. In discussing this period of his life in the minutes of his later pretrial hearing, Gudō stated:

The year was 1904 … When I reflected on the way in which priests of my sect had undergone religious training in China in former times, I realized how beautiful it had been. Here were two or three hundred persons who, living in one place at one time, shared a communal lifestyle in which they wore the same clothing and ate the same food. I held to the ideal that if this could be applied to one village, one county, or one country, what an extremely good system would be created.

The traditional Buddhist organizational structure, the Sangha, with its communal lifestyle and lack of personal property, was the model from which Gudō drew his inspiration for social reform.

Headquarters of the « Society of Common / Ordinary People » (Heimin-sha) in January 1907, which publishes the Heimin Shimbun.

It was also in 1904 that Gudō had his first significant contact with a much broader, secular social reform movement, anarcho-socialism. Gudō appears to have first come into contact with this movement as a reader of a newly established newspaper, the Heimin Shimbun or « The Commoner’s News. » By the early months of 1904 this newspaper had established itself as Tokyo’s leading advocate of the socialist cause, and Gudō later expressed its impact on him: « When I began reading the Heimin Shimbun at that time [1904], I realized that its principles were identical with my own and therefore I became an anarcho-socialist. »

Gudō was not content, however, to be a mere reader of this newspaper. In its January 17, 1904 edition, he wrote:

As a propagator of Buddhism I teach that « all sentient beings have the Buddha-nature » and that « within the Dharma there is equality, with neither superior nor inferior. » Furthermore, I teach that « all sentient beings are my children. » Having taken these golden words as the basis of my faith, I discovered that they are in complete agreement with the principles of socialism. It was thus that I became a believer in socialism.

The phrase, « all sentient beings have the Buddha-nature » is one of the central themes of the Lotus Sutra, as is the phrase, « all sentient beings are my children. » The phrase, « within the Dharma there is equality, with neither superior or inferior » comes from the Diamond Sutra. Regrettably, this brief statement is the only surviving example of Gudō’s understanding of the social implications of the Law of the Buddha.

Even this brief statement, however, puts Gudō in direct opposition to Meiji Buddhist leaders such as Shimaji Mokurai. In his 1879 essay entitled « Differentiation [Is] Equality » (Sabetsu Byōdō), Shimaji maintained that distinctions in social standing and wealth were as permanent as differences in age, sex, and language. Socialism, in his view, was flawed because it emphasized only social and economic equality. That is to say, socialists failed to understand the basic Buddhist teaching that « differentiation is identical with equality » (sabetsu soku byōdō). Or phrased somewhat more philosophically, socialists confused the temporal world of form (yūkei) with the transcendent world of formlessness (mukei), failing to recognize the underlying unity of the two. It was Shimaji’s position that would gain acceptance within institutional Buddhism.

Village Priest and Social Activist

Shūsui Kōtoku

Of the eighty-two persons who eventually expressed their allegiance to socialism in the pages of the Heimin Shimbun, only Gudō and one other, Kōtoku Shūsui, were later directly implicated in the High Treason Incident. This suggests that Gudō, like Kōtoku, was a leading figure in the nascent socialist movement, but that was not the case. Gudō’s relative physical isolation in the Hakone mountains limited the role that he was able to play. He might best be described as a rural social activist or reformer who, in his own mind at least, based his thought and actions on his Buddhist faith.

Ironically, it was Gudō’s relative physical isolation that eventually thrust him into the historical limelight. The Japanese government and police devoted ever-increasing efforts to suppressing the growing socialist movement with its pacifist platform. This suppression took the form of repeated bannings of politically offensive issues of the Heimin Shimbun; arresting, fining, and ultimately jailing the newspaper’s editors; and forcefully breaking up socialist meetings and rallies. With two of its editors (including Kōtoku Shūsui) on their way to jail for alleged violations of the press laws, the Heimin Shimbun printed its last issue on January 25, 1905. When the newspaper closed down, the socialist antiwar movement within Japan virtually came to an end, thereby enabling the government to prosecute its war with Czarist Russia free of domestic opposition.

Cartoon from the Heimin Shimbun of January 17, 1904: military, political, religious and economic elites try to bring the poor peasant into the temple of war, whose door (Torii) consists of two guns and a saber

In September 1905 the war with Russia ended with a Japanese victory. The victory was, however, a costly one, both in terms of the government’s expenditures on armaments and the high number of military casualities. When it became general knowledge that the peace terms did not include a war indemnity, riots broke out in Tokyo and martial law was immediately imposed. In this atmosphere of significant social unrest, the government pursued its suppression of socialism even more relentlessly than before. On February 22, 1907, the Socialist Party was banned and socialists were harassed, beaten, and jailed. By 1908, unable to hold public meetings or publish either newspapers or magazines, what was left of the socialist movement went underground. Prohibited from advocating socialism openly, some members of the movement came to believe that the only way they could succeed was to take some form of « direct action » against the imperial house itself.

It was these circumstances which prompted Gudō to visit Tokyo in September 1908. He not only met with Kōtoku Shūsui but purchased the necessary equipment to set up a secret press within his own temple. The printing equipment itself was hidden in the storage area located underneath and to the rear of the Buddha altar in the Main Hall. Gudō used this press to turn out popular socialist tracts and pamphlets, and he also wrote and published his own materials, including his best-known work, In Commemoration of Imprisonment: Anarcho-Communism-Revolution (入獄紀念・無政 府共產・革命 Nyūgoku Kinen-Museifu Kyōsan-Kakumei).

That work is interesting for a number of reasons. It contains a pointed critique of the then prevalent understanding of the Buddhist doctrine of karma. After beginning with a lament for the poverty of tenant farmers, Gudō writes:

Is this [your poverty] the result, as Buddhists maintain, of the retribution due you because of your evil deeds in the past? Listen, friends, if, having now entered the twentieth century, you were to be deceived by superstitions like this, you would still be [no better than] oxen or horses. Would this please you?

Gudō clearly understood that the Buddhist doctrine of karma was being interpreted as providing the justification for social and economic inequality. That is to say, if tenant farmers were impoverished, they had no one to blame but themselves and their own past actions. Shaku Sōen was typical of the Buddhist leaders who advocated this interpretation: « We are born in the world of variety; some are poor and unfortunate, others are wealthy and happy. This state of variety will be repeated again and again in our future lives. But to whom shall we complain of our misery? To none but ourselves! » Gudō was also critical of certain aspects of Buddhist practice. For example, on May 30, 1904, he wrote a letter of protest to the abbot of Jōsenji, Orihashi Daikō. In this letter he requested that the Sōtō sect cleanse itself of the practice of selling temple abbotships to the highest bidder. When Daikō refused to endorse his position, Gudō expressed his determination to push for this reform on his own.

The real significance of In Commemoration of Imprisonment lay not only in
its critique of certain aspects of Buddhist doctrine, butalso in its blistering rejection of the heart and soul of the Meiji political system, the emperor system. It was, in fact, this rejection of Japan’s imperial system that, more than any other factor, led to Gudō’s subsequent arrest, imprisonment, and execution. He wrote:

There are three leeches who suck the people’s blood: the emperor, the rich, and the big landowners … The big boss of the present government, the emperor, is not the son of the gods as your primary school teachers and others would have you believe. The ancestors of the present emperor came forth from one corner of Kyushu, killing and robbing people as they went. They then destroyed their fellow thieves, Nagasune-hiko and others … It should be readily obvious that the emperor is not a god if you but think about it for a moment.

When it is said that [the imperial dynasty] has continued for 2,500 years, it may seem as if [the present emperor] is divine, but down through the ages the emperors have been tormented by foreign opponents and, domestically, treated as puppets by their own vassals … Although these are well-known facts, university professors and their students, weaklings that they are, refuse to either say or write anything about it. Instead, they attempt to deceive both others and themselves, knowing all along the whole thing is a pack of lies.

Imprisonment

Gudō printed between one and two thousand copies of the tract containing the foregoing passages and mailed them to former readers of the Heimin Shimbun in small lots wrapped in plain paper. Its radical content, especially its scathing denial of the emperor system, so frightened some recipients that they immediately burned all the copies they received. Others, however, were so excited by its contents that they rushed out onto to the streets to distribute the tract to passersby. It was not long, predictably, before copies fell into the hands of the police. This in turn sparked an immediate nationwide search for the tract’s author and the place and means of its production.

On May 24, 1909, Gudō was arrested on his way back to Rinsenji after having finished a month of Zen training at Eiheiji, one of the Sōtō sect’s two chief monasteries. He was initially charged with violations of the press and publications laws and, at first, believed he would simply be fined and released. Upon searching Rinsenji, however, the police claimed to have discovered a cache of explosive materials including twelve sticks of dynamite, four packages of explosive gelatin, and a supply of fuses.

One contemporary commentator, Kashiwagi Ryūhō, claims, though without presenting any proof, that the charges relating to the possession of explosive materials were false. In an article entitled « Martyr Uchiyama Gudō » he states: « The dynamite had been stored at his temple in conjunction with the construction of the Hakone mountain railroad. It had nothing to do with Gudō. » Nevertheless, Gudō was convicted of both charges and initially sentenced to twelve years’ imprisonment. On appeal, his sentence was reduced to seven years.

On July 6, 1909, even before his conviction, officials of the Sōtō Zen sect moved to deprive Gudō of his abbotship at Rinsenji. Once he had been convicted, they quickly moved on to yet more serious action. On June 21, 1910, Gudō was deprived of his status as a Sōtō Zen priest, though he continued to regard himself as one until the end of his life.

Toward a Second Trial

On May 25, 1910, two socialists, Miyashita Takichi and Niimura Tadao, were arrested in Nagano Prefecture after police searched their quarters and found chemicals used to make explosives. In the minds of the police this was concrete evidence of the existence of a wider conspiracy against the imperial house. This in turn led to Kōtoku Shūsui’s arrest a week later, and the investigation and interrogation of hundreds of men and women in the following months. By this time Gudō had already been in prison for a full year, yet this did not prevent him from becoming a suspect once again.

The imperial cat is about to eat the socialist pest, cartoon that appeared in Japanese newspapers during the time of the trial

At the conclusion of its investigation, charges were brought against twenty-six persons, including Gudō and one woman, Kanno Sugako. If convicted under Article 73, « Crimes Against the Throne, » of the new criminal code, all of them could face the death penalty. Under Article 73 prosecutors had only to show that the defendants « intended » to bring harm to members of the imperial house, not that they had acted on this intent in any concrete way. Ideas, not facts, were on trial.

The trial commenced in Tokyo on December 10, 1910. Kanno Sugako not only admitted in court that she had been involved in the alleged conpiracy but indicated how many others had been involved as well. Upon being asked by the presiding judge, Tsuru Jōichirō, if she wished to make a final statement, Kanno responded:

From the outset I knew that our plan would not succeed if we let a lot of people in on it. Only four of us were involved in the plan. It is a crime that involves only the four of us. But this court, as well as the preliminary interrogators, treated it as a plan that involved a large number of people. That is a complete misunderstanding of the case. Because of this misunderstanding a large number of people have been made to suffer. You are aware of this …

If these people are killed for something that they knew nothing about, not only will it be a grave tragedy for the persons concerned, but their relatives and friends will feel bitterness toward the government. Because we hatched this plan, a large number of innocent people may be executed.

In her diary entry for January 21, 1911, Kanno identified the other persons involved in the plot as Kōtoku, Miyashita, Niimura, and Furukawa Rikisaku.

Kanno’s plea on behalf of the other defendants fell on deaf ears. As for Gudō, Chief Prosecutor Hiranuma Kiichirō went on to identify his earlier writing, with its uncompromising denial of the emperor system, as « the most heinous book ever written since the beginning of Japanese history. » He also mentioned a second tract which Gudō had printed, entitled A Handbook for Imperial Soldiers (Teikoku Gunjin Zayū no Mei). Here Gudō had gone so far as to call on conscripts to desert their encampments en masse. In addition, Gudō had, as already noted, repeatedly and forcefully advocated both land reform in the countryside and democratic rights for all citizens.

Many years later an alternative view of Gudō’s role in the alleged conspiracy came from a somewhat surprising source, namely the administrative headquarters of the Sōtō Zen sect. In the July 1993 issue of Sōtō Shūhō, the administrative organ for this sect, an announcement was made that as of April 13, 1993, Uchiyama Gudō’s status as a Sōtō priest had been restored. The announcement went on to say, « [Gudō’s] original expulsion was a mistake caused by the sect’s having swallowed the government’s repressive policies. »

The explanation as to what caused this turnabout in the sect’s attitude toward Gudō was contained in a subsequent article that appeared in the September 1993 issue of the same periodical. Written by the sect’s new « Bureau for the Protection and Advocacy of Human Rights, » the highlights of the article are as follows:

When viewed by to day’s standards of respect for human rights, Uchiyama Gudō’s writings contain elements that should be regarded as farsighted. We have much to learn from them, for today his writings are respected by people in various walks of life, beginning with the mass media. In our sect, the restoration of Uchiyama Gudō’s reputation is something that will both bring solace to his spirit and contribute to the establishment within this sect of a method of dealing with questions concerning human rights …

We now recognize that Gudō was a victim of the national policy of that day … The dynamite found in his temple had been placed there for safekeeping by a railroad company laying track through the Hakone mountains and had nothing to do with him … The sect’s [original] actions strongly aligned the sect with an establishment dominated by the emperor system. They were not designed to protect the unique Buddhist character of the sect’s priests … On this occasion of the restoration of Uchiyama Gudō’s reputation, we must reflect on the way in which our sect has ingratiated itself with both the political powers of the day and a state under the suzerainty of the emperor.

While the Sōtō sect’s statement clearly views Gudō as a victim of government repression, it presents no new evidence in support of his innocence. It merely repeats Kashiwagi’s earlier unsubstantiated claim that the dynamite found at his temple was put there as part of a nearby railway construction project. All in all, the Sōtō sect’s statement must be treated with some scepticism, perhaps as more of a reflection of the sect’s regret for what it came to recognize (in postwar years) as its slavish subservience to the state.

Because of this lack of evidence, no definitive statement can be made about the guilt or innocence of those on trial in the High Treason Incident. As noted earlier, much critical evidence was destroyed by the government as it sought to make the accused into « nonpersons. » When in 1975 the descendents of one of those originally convicted in the case petitioned for a retrial, the Ministry of Justice stated clearly for the first time that the trial’s transcripts no longer existed. Even if the transcripts had existed, it is doubtful that they would have provided definitive evidence, given that everyone directly connected with the trial was by then dead. Historian Fred Notehelfer admits at the end of his study of the case that « an element of mystery … continues to surround the trial. » It probably always will.

There was never any doubt at the time, however, that the defendants would be found guilty. The only uncertainty was how severe their penalties would be. On January 18, 1911, little more than a month after the trial began, the court rendered its verdict. All defendants were found guilty, and twenty-four of them, Gudō and the three other Buddhist priests included, were condemned to death. One day later, on January 19th, an imperial rescript was issued which commuted the sentences of twelve of the condemned to life imprisonment. Three of the Buddhist priests–Takagi Kemmyō, Sasaki Dōgen, and Mineo Setsudō–were spared the hangman’s noose, though all would die in prison.

Toward Execution

The condemned are taken away in handcuffs, their heads covered with a balaclava Tokyo Asahi Shimbun, 12/10/1910

Mikiso Hane has suggested why the government was so determined to convict all of the defendants:

The authorities (under Prime Minister Katsura Tarō, who had been directed by the genrō [elder statesman] Yamagata Aritomo to come down hard on the leftists) rounded up everybody who had the slightest connection with Kōtoku and charged them with complicity in the plot.

Yamagata was particularly concerned by the fact that the court testimony of nearly all the defendants revealed a loss of faith in the divinity of the emperor. For Yamagata, this loss of respect for the core of the state represented a serious threat to the future of the nation. Those holding this view had to be eliminated by any means necessary.

Acting with unaccustomed haste, the government executed Gudō and ten of his alleged co-conspirators inside the Ichigaya Prison compound on the morning of January 24, 1911, less than a week after their conviction. Kanno Sugako was executed the following day. Gudō was the fifth to die on the twenty-fourth, and Yoshida Kyūichi records that as he climbed the scaffold stairs, « he gave not the slightest hint of emotional distress. Rather he appeared serene, even cheerful–so much so that the attending prison chaplain bowed as he passed. »

The next day, when Gudō’s younger brother, Seiji, came to collect his body, he demanded that the coffin be opened. Looking at Gudō’s peaceful countenance, Seiji said, « Oh, older brother, you passed away without suffering … What a superb face you have in death! »

The other assault on the Capitol 25 years ago …

For French people, the Capitol is not only the US institution, it is also the name of the City Hall of Toulouse, 4th city in France in term of inhabitants, and France’s capital of anarchist movement since one century.

This story of the assault on the Capitol Hill in Washington reminds me of another assault, just 25 years ago, but in Toulouse … December 17, 1995, was the last demonstration against the “Pension and social securty reform” (“plan Juppé” in French, named from the 1st minister of that time, Juppé). The social movement against Plan Juppé has been the widest since May 68, a renewal of contestation, with massive demonstration and large general strike in public transport branch, paralyzing the country for one month.

For the last demonstration of the movement, Unions had decided to make it a show off, to demonstrate strength and calm, and above all to organize the movement’s funeral with great fanfare. They wanted to stop the strike and street movement, to make place to round tables negociations. Christmas was approaching, it was time for the « confectioners’ truce » (tradition in France that all type of conflicts are stopped during Christmas holidays). The Unions had therefore decided to exhaust us in circling around the city center but above all not to return to the center so as not to hamper the shops and stores on these eve of the holidays [1].

There had been a huge crowd at this demo. It is even the biggest demo ever seen in the history of Toulouse, 100,000 people … Arrived at Esquirol square, after walking in circles all afternoon, walkers still had a desire for something more… The demo couldn’t stop there… We didn’t feel tired despite the endless journey. A friend disguised as a ninja turtle, ski mask on the face, an helmet and a DIY shield made with a speed limit sign starts to shout  « it’s at the Capitol that we will have fun ». While the Unions turn right to go towards the Carmelites square, the demo branches off to the left and continues towards the Capitol square. We are several thousand. Arrived at the Capitol square, (the Cap’), the place is invaded.

The friends of InfoSud (autonomous magazine of the time) try to hang their black banner on the Capitol’s gate. The doors opens. Parked at a corner of the square, behind the red and black banner of your favorite anarchosyndicate, the companions say to themselves « it seems that things are moving at the Cap’s doors, they have managed to get into the city hall ». 2 friends run to see what’s going on. They are followed by 2 other fellow mates, then 20, then 200,then everyone who is rushing to the doors. The rest of the demonstration follows the movement…

In fact the doors had opened to let out the mobile guards (anti-riot elite unit) piled up in the courtyard of the Capitol building. Getting outside, they were not wearing any protective equipment, only wearing their caps… When the wave rushes on them, the impact is frontal on the plexiglass shields. The flag poles come down. A few caps fly. Teeth too. The blue line is scattered. Anti-riots flee and get back quickly into the Capitole to lock themselves in the town hall. From the first floor, on the balcony of the Capitol, mobile guards smash the window glasses of the Hall of illustrious people and swing the tear gas to drown the Cap Square. But the demonstrators do not move, even ask for more. Families with strollers barely take shelter under the arcades surrounding the square. Workers on striker and autonomous squatters help each other to gather garbage cans (the garbage collectors had been on strike for several weeks) on the door of the Capitole Opera House which is inside the City Hall, and set it on fire. The door starts to burn …

The demonstrators are spreading in the small streets around the Capitol to take a stand. A customer rushes out of the hairdresser, in a blouse and his hair full of shampoo: the rioters were in the process of overturning his BMW to make a barricade of it. In Paragaminière street, other rioters help the shopkeeper of a small convenience store to bring in his shelves; in exchange the shopkeeper gives them water and lemons against the tear gas. A few cars are overturned to obstruct, small groups harass the cops without stopping. Young people from working-class neighborhoods, on a strolling in the city center, are joining the movement. The cat and mouse game lasts several hours, taking advantage of the night that has just fallen. The « sugars, » those white cop vans, zigzag to avoid the projectiles and the trash that fall on them.

Not a single person was arrested, and also not a single store window fell: that night, despite shopping day and Christmas Eve, the targets were the cops. Young and old, activists and onlookers, all together. Pure rage, without opportunism neither consumerist nor political.

The following day the news headline  » Anarchists assault on Capitole : 200 Anarchists behind a Red and Black Banner Attack the Capitol. They threw away whatever they had in their pockets: bolts, beer bottles, etc. The thugs get involved « . Baudis, the Mayor of Toulouse, speaks of an insurrection. A federated anarchist group, whose name will be kept silent for pity,  made a statement to complain that « the police headquarter obviously took no measures to prevent the demonstration from accessing the Capitol square  » (the Police union, FASP, will also complain on the same tone  … ) and reject any confusion between anarchists and thugs. The CNT-AIT for its part, only disputes that – contrary to what newspapers wrote – the demonstrators didn’t joined the demo with any projectiles in their pockets and asks the question of police provocations …

In the evening with our friends of the anarchosyndicate, we had a great meal in the self-managed restaurant of Titi and Nicolas. The caps – war prizes – turn from one head to another, we laugh, one compañera takes out the accordion, we sing and laugh loudly.

It was the best Christmas of my life …

The reform pension has been withdrawn, and would be reintroduced only 10 years after. May be this assault on the Capitol had played a small role in this

Little Mouna …

[1] Here is what the “Dépêche du Midi”, the main newspaper of Toulouse  said in its edition the day before the demo: « To spare the city center shopping streets, the Capitol square, the town hall and the prefecture from the demonstration, admit that it is a feat! This is the concession made by the Unions … who do not want to make their movement unpopular by « too many demonstrations ». For shops and retailers in the centre, this means (finally!) peace in front of their stores. It’s terribly important on this first Saturday of the Christmas rush. The same satisfaction is obviously valid for buyers: they will not feel any discomfort. The city center (clean since yesterday) will be free of any event, and perfectly accessible. … We salute this great loop… of great capacity, open and intelligent, which « does not strangle the city. When the demonstration will be in Saint Cyprien square, we will be quiet in town! On the other hand, Esquirol square and Languedoc street will be drowned in demonstrators, say around 4 pm to 4:30 pm, at the time of the dislocation. ” the police authorities and the unions had obviously planned everything… except a minor glitch …

HISTORY: HOW DID SPANISH ANARCHOSYNDICALISTS MANAGED THE PUBLIC HEALT DURING THE 36 ‘s REVOLUTION? (An example of libertarian communism applied in accute health crisis time)

Health questions have played a very big role in the structuring of anarchist thought in Spain, since its appearance at the end of the 19th century. Health professionals, doctors, nurses, nursing assistants, pharmacists … have played a very active role in framing the anarchist movement,  from an ideological, theoretical, practical and organizational point of view.

This phenomenon is not exclusive to Spain. In all the countries where anarchist ideas have taken root, it is common to find health professionals (sanitarios) among its activists. It is even logical: doctors and other health workers were the direct witnesses of the effects of the industrial revolution on the living and working conditions of the proletariat. Often in their publications they propose measures to solve these health problems, which are real social epidemics. Some even consider that the only possible therapy to social diseases is the radical transformation of society.

But in Spain, the participation of « sanitarios » in the anarchist movement has known truly structuring proportions. The book « the finality of the CNT-AIT, Libertarian Communism« , a true reference compass of the Spanish anarcho-union movement, has been written by the doctor Isaac Puente, including Federica Montseny – future anarchist minister of health – could say: « indisputably, Doctor Isaac Puente was the main inspirer of the collective achievements of the Spanish Revolution« .

The specificity of the Spanish anarchist movement, particularly in the health sector, is that it tried to apply, on a large geographical scale, the anarchist principles and to confront them with reality, even if it was under the conditions appalling civil war, which made health problems even more acute (war wounded, refugees, shortages of personnel and equipment, risk of epidemics, etc.).

Witness to this intense participation of health professionals in the Spanish anarchist movement, the Spanish libertarian press, whose number of titles continues to surprise current historians and activists, has collected a large number of articles, information, readers’ letters and lectures given by health professionals in athenaeums (libertarian social centres). This does not mean that all of the authors of these articles, not even the majority surely, shared the entirety of the anti-authoritarian ideas of the papers in which they wrote, but they knew that this was the most direct way to bring their ideas closer to the most active part of the proletariat. There were reciprocal influences between the anarchosyndicalist movement and popular health movements of other obedience – socialist in particular – so much so that during the Revolution of 1936, the global vision of the organization of revolutionary health was generally shared. And orientated toward an anarchist sense, of a socialized (not necessarily state-owned), universal, secular and free health system, with an integrated health system, leaving more to health prevention.

This 2-part brochure series tries to shed light on what has driven these hundreds and thousands of activists over more than a century: mutual aid and solidarity, humanism above all. They were convinced that the best therapy in the face of a sick society is still the social and anarchist Revolution.

The objective of this work of compilation of texts, written by activists in the heat of the moment or by academics several decades after the revolutionary passion has died down, is not to indulge in the nostalgia for a lost Utopia that would never come back.

As Humanity is shaken by a health crisis, which turns into a major political and economic crisis which is said to herald a change in the organization of the world; it seems essential to us to return to this period of the Spanish Revolution, which we know was the harbinger of subsequent world upheavals.

It is fashionable among academic, academic, journalistic and political commentators to say that Anarchy is a situation of absolute disorder, and that Anarchists are at best soft dreamers, at worst dangerous thugs. The crisis we are currently experiencing with Covid 19 shows us on the contrary that the absolute disorder we are currently experiencing is not Anarchy but chaos, and that it is not the result of an anarchist policy, but the combined result of the action of Capitalism and the State.

The experience of the CNT-AIT in Spain shows us that – faced with a situation as sudden as that of Covid-19, the anarchosyndicalist movement nevertheless managed to revive the health system almost immediately, and this when most of the health executives had fled and while they were absolutely lacking all. The difference comes from the fact that if the crisis (the Revolution) had not been foreseen by the anarchists (the triggering factor came from a fascist coup d’état which had not been announced), at least had it they predicted – and even called out – and so they had patiently organized themselves, for more than 70 years, to be ready, when the day came, to face it. This is what Capitalism and the state lack in dealing with epidemics: the sense of History. However, we know that in the event of an epidemic, the key factors to prevent its spread are preparedness, early detection and rapid reaction. And that it is not in time of « war » that these skills are prepared. Spanish anarchosyndicalist activists have shown their ability to anticipate and prepare; and if the Spanish revolution led to a major political crisis and a Civil War, at least ones must recognize that it did not lead to a global sanitary crisis since – as long as the anarchists were responsible for the health of the population in the Republican zone, no epidemic was to be deplored, and this to the astonishment even of the best world specialists who had come to inspect the situation expecting to find an explosive health situation.

If we compare what the Spanish workers, peasants (often illiterates), and a few doctors and nurses who remained were able to accomplish in such a short time in 1936 wartime, with the facts that in 2019, to deal with COVID 19, the French army’s health division, which costs millions of euros and which has a profusion of equipment and personnel, has not been able to set up a Barnum tent with 30 resuscitation beds in less than 3 weeks at the beginning of the epidemic, then we cannot prevent thinking that yes, definitely, Anarchy is the highest expression of Order, and that it would be desirable for our health and the well-being of humanity and the planet, that we take example on the Spanish revolutionaries of 1936…

 The anarchist definition of health is “Total state of well-being, physical, mental and social” ”. To reestablish Harmony, between humans as with the Planet, a sine qua non condition for living in full health, we must put an end to Capitalism and the State. It’s urgent.

Some CNT-AIT France health workers

The 2-parts brochures (in French) can been download. Paper copy can be sent on request to contact@cnt-ait.info


Volume I. An example of anarchosyndicalist response to a sudden and unprecedented health and political crisis

– INTRODUCTION: Health through Revolution, Revolution through Health

– Some precursors: anarchist critiques of medicine

– Brief historical panorama of anarchist health in Spain

a) The beginnings of the First International in Spain (1870-1900): the rational and scientific bases of Spanish anarchism

b) The contributions of neo-Malthusianism and naturism (1900-1920)

c) During the dictatorship of Primo de Rivera (1923 – 1931): maturation of previous ideological contributions

d) The Second Republic (1931-1936): affirmation of libertarian communism as the goal of anarchosyndicalism and a remedy for social diseases

e) The Social Revolution (1936-1937): putting into practice 70 years of conceptual and ideological preparation.

f) The Order against Sanitarian and Social Utopia: the Communists then the exile, internal resistance, underground (1938-1975)On the role of technicians in the revolutionary period (Gaston Leval)

Anarchosyndicalism and health behind and at the front: the case of Valencia and the Iron Column in the Spanish Civil War ((1936-1937)

« Health, performance and activity »! The Workers’ Health Organization, the CNT-AIT and the collectivization of medico-health services at the start of the revolution in Barcelona

The CNT-AIT field hospital in Villajoyosa (Alicante)

« In the hospital … » (text from Arbetaren, 1936)

– CNT-AIT posters in support of field hospitals, witnesses of the Revolution and the Spanish Civil War


Volume II: An attempt of implementation of an anarchist public health:

TABLE OF CONTENTS

– Spanish anarchism in the health debate in Spain: health, disease and medicine (1930-1939)

1. Introduction: the debate around health, sanitation and hygiene

2. The CNT and the concept of social medicine

3. The anarchist discourse on “social diseases”

4. The health problem during the civil war: the CNT and the Catalan health control

– Towards a Definition of Anarchist Health: The National Health Congress of March 1937

Purpose: health from an anarchist point of view

Principle: The health system from an anarchist perspective

Tactics: implementation of principles to achieve goal

– Health in the Social and Libertarian Revolution of 1936

– Health and Social Assistance during the Civil War by Federica MONTSENY (1986)

Organization of the Ministry of Health

The League of Nations Health Committee

Social Assistance

Invitation of the League of Nations Health Committee

Creation of the Central Office for Evacuation and Assistance to Refugees

The problem of abortion; The fight against prostitution

– Psychology and Anarchism in the Spanish Civil War: the work of Félix Martí Ibáñez

Martí-Ibáñez and psychology before the civil war

The reform of psychiatry during the civil war

Psychoanalysis of the Civil War

The psychological work of an exile

SOLIDARITY WITH THE MINERS OF TOUISSIT (MOROCCO) WHO OCCUPY THEIR MINE!

Send emails to the General manager to support miners in their claim.

For respect and dignity, the miners of Touissit take direct action and occupy their mine: Solidarity!

According to Aziz Rebbah, Minister of Energy, Mines and Environment of Morocco, « the mining sector is a pillar of the economic and social development of the country ». Economic development may be, but socially development certainly not. Working conditions in mines often remain primitive, whether in terms of wages, health or safety.

Take the example of the Mont Aouâm mine (Jbel Aouâm) located in Mrirt, the second municipality in the province of Khenifra, in the Moroccan Middle Atlas. It belongs to the Mining Company of Touissit (CMT), Moroccan leader in the production of silver lead concentrates. This company is listed on the Casablanca Stock Exchange, among its main shareholders are the company OSEAD MAROC MINING, itself a subsidiary of the OSEAD FUND, and the CIMR (Moroccan Interprofessional Pension Fund). One would therefore expect that with a shareholder made up of a pension fund, the company would treat its employees well. Well not at all!

Already in 2019, the miners had to start a protest movement on basic points: the improvement of working conditions and their social situations, as well as the guarantee of the health security measures essential for working in the mines. The unions had rush to supervise the movement, and had negotiated a protocol with the management which should finally take into account the health and working conditions of minors. To show the importance and the seriousness of the protocol, a representative of the Minister of Mines had even made the trip to testify to the signature and thus signify that the Minister, also a member of the PJD (Justice and Development Party, Islamist), would be attentive to its execution. Of course, in return, employees had to commit to increasing their productivity and achieving higher production goals. The employers never give anything for free, they always seek to increase their profit and therefore our exploitation …

One year after the union-boss agreement, the workers did their accounts: they kept their word and achieved 98% of the production targets set out in the protocol, despite a complicated 2020 year due to the Covid crisis. . On the boss’s side, it’s very simple: nothing. He didn’t put into place what he said he would do …

So on December 10, 2020, the miners said enough, and took direct action. They occupied their work tool to put pressure on the boss: 100 striking miners held the mine, 700 meters underground. And 200 others remained on the surface, alternating demonstrations and sit-ins of solidarity in order to popularize the strike and also to organize the logistics and the supplies of the occupants. For the despotism and stubbornness of the administration have grown to the point of prohibiting the supply of food and a living for the miners holding the sit-in at the bottom of the mine.

Of course this situation was unbearable for the unions: the non-respect of the protocol by the boss while the workers had worked more, clearly shows the uselessness (and even the perversity) of these union-boss negotiations. The fact that the workers decided to take direct action by occupying their workplace, in order to put pressure on the boss, could set a bad example for other workers if their struggle is successful, namely that of self-organizing in without reformist unions … the UMT (Moroccan Labor Union) and its international organization (Industriall Global Union) therefore urgently contacted the Prime Minister to draw his attention to the risk that this situation could pose and to the urgency to demine the situation by opening new negotiations. The message was well received and in less time that needed to say it, Miloudi Moukharik, the Secretary General of UMT, came in person into the discussion with the Director of the mine … Of course, the first thing the union asked the strikers to do before opening negotiations was to end their sit-down strike. The strikers therefore abandoned the mine on December 21, after 10 difficult days of occupation.

The leader of Industriall Global Union then congratulated  » the UMT and the workers for the progress made. We welcome the important steps towards launching negotiations. We urge the company to seize the opportunity to engage in genuine dialogue with the union for sustainable production and respect for workers’ legitimate rights. « . He urges the company to seize the opportunity to engage in a dialogue: in other words, the union is crying to the boss for him to agree to speak to them, but the union hasn’t gotten anything yet.

A new meeting to resume negotiations is expected to begin on December 24 to discuss demands for wage increases, improved working conditions in the mine, the issue of contract and agency workers, and a management commitment to respect the right of association and not to fire the strikers.

The miners have shown exemplary courage and strength by occupying their mine 700 meters underground, in conditions which are dangerous to their health. Hopefully they will not be betrayed once again by the unions in the negotiations.

In the meantime, let’s give them as much support as possible. For example by sending emails to the CMT management to demand:

– Respect and dignity for the miners, who are the only creators of wealth in the CMT.

– Worthy wages allowing a living, for all employees whatever their status

– Dignified working conditions, in compliance with international standards for worker safety and the environment

– Respect for freedom of association and expression, as well as the right to strike.

Solidarity companions on both sides of the Mediterranean

To contact the management of the company:

Fax Directorate General: ° + 212 (0) 5 22 78 68 71

E-mail: siege.cmt@cmt.ma Telephone: +212 (0) 6 61 31 32 95 / (0) 5 22 78 68 61

[Iran] Demonstration of the medical students of Tabriz

December 22, 2020, Information sent by Iranian Anarchists compañeros

Tabriz (Iran), 2020-12-22, medical students : free education, no wall, no border

A group of students from Tabriz University of Medical Sciences came to the building of the university and protested against the problems of education during the Covid-19 pandemic.

According to Anaj Press Agency, students studying on a paid basis also protested against the violation of their rights.

Dissatisfied students went to the conference hall at the insistence of the deputy head of the university for education, and they expressed their wishes to the deputy head of the university for education, adviser and security guards and made a number of suggestions to improve the situation with education at the university.

At the end of the talks, it was decided that a group of students on behalf of the participants of the meeting would discuss with the head of the university the implementation of the protesters’ proposals.


[Bangladesh] Distribution of washable masks to tea workers

September 18, 2020, BASF-AIT, https://www.bangladeshasf.org

Bangladesh Anarcho-Syndicalist Federation-BASF has started distribution of red and black washable face masks among poor tea plantation workers today, September 16, 2020 under the « Mutual Aid » program to prevent covid-19. Since the outbreak of Covid-19 from month of March in Bangladesh, the organization has been conducting health education to creating awareness among the people in all BASF branches, distributing ‘soap’ for washing hands and distributing face masks. Now it has started distributing ‘washable face masks’ that can be used several times instead of one time masks. At this stage it will be distributed among 3000 people. Later its number will be further increased and cover more people.

The BASF believes that health care initiative is a very useful and fundamental human right. It is not possible to solve it permanently in isolated approach. So it is necessary to build such a self-regulated, truly democratic, participatory society. All activities including health issues for the society will be managed and controlled by the society. Only a society free from the influence of capitalism and the stateism can solve all problems sustainably.]

BOYCOTT CHILEAN PRODUCTS! SOLIDARITY WITH IMPRISONED PROTESTERS!

A wind of social and popular revolt has been blowing over Chile since October 2019 The repression hit very hard: dozens of dead (at least 36), more than 11,000 injured, tens of thousands of arrests … 2,500 people are still in preventive detention, without trial, while the charges against them are very often insignificant or even false. The state seeks to put down the rebellious characters …

The Chilean anarchist companions call for international solidarity to demand the release of all those arrested during the revolt movement (read below). They propose to send letters demanding their release to the Chilean embassies and consulates to your country of residency.

In addition, we propose to express our solidarity, calling for a boycott of Chilean products as long as all the prisoners have not been released. . Because of Chile’s export oriented economy, in practice this means refusing to buy food products originating there, such as salmon, avocado, wine, grapes, or kiwis. Christmas is one of the most important times of the year for this market, and so a well-organised boycott still has the potential to be highly effective.

We stands in solidarity with all those imprisoned for anti-state/capitalist protest, and we hope you will too. Pay attention to your food labels, and anything else you are buying that may be a Chilean export. Only with international solidarity can we finally end the global carceral system and the predatory capitalism it maintains.

Freedom, solidarity !

Companions of the CNT-AIT in France

With the help of Leeds Soldfed : https://leedssolfed.wordpress.com/2020/12/22/boycott-chilean-products-solidarity-with-imprisoned-protesters/

CALL TO SOLIDARITY FROM CHILE, TO THE ANARCHISTS OF THE PLANET

“Since the uprising of the people of Chile against the rise in Metro tickets, transport services and the neoliberal policies of the Chilean government, which started a popular revolt that left more than 11,300 people detained, 2,500 of whom are imprisoned, many with investigations and without convictions, in preventive detention. What has been interpreted as an action of political repression seeking to outlaw the protest.

The prisoners who are in the prisons of Chile since October 18, 2019, are deprived of liberty for breaking a turnstile (which are at the entrance of the Metro stations), for accusations of Carabineros as witnesses for fire, aggression to the police, looting, barricades, burning churches and banks, etc. Many of these accusations have been dropped due to lack of real evidence or because the fallacy of the accusations has been proven.

Therefore, for the general public, these accusations are seen as revenge on the part of the power and the State against those who have risen up against the ruling elite.

Since the first days of December of this year, a campaign has been launched for the freedom of the prisoners of the revolt, which has pressured the deputies, ministers and the government to lift the preventive detention and the prisoners can fulfill the investigation period with house arrest, the same type of sentences that have been given to police officers accused of violation of human rights, whether for rape, serious injuries to protesters, torture and murder, of which a small number are in preventive detention in police barracks.

We call on the anarchists of the planet to join this campaign and send letters of repudiation to the Chilean government through its embassies and consulates demanding the immediate freedom of the Prisoners of the Chilean Revolt. And we ask those who can make demonstrations outside embassies, consulates and interests of Chilean companies to do so.

ONLY SOLIDARITY IS THE WEAPON OF WORKERS AND OF THOSE OPPRESSED AGAINST THE STATE AND CAPITAL.

Germinal Anarchist Group

Anarchist Assembly of the Bio Bio.

[Ukraine] Worthy salary for the nurses!

December 17, 2020, Чорний Стяг (Black Flag), https://www.facebook.com/blackflagua/posts/1007699079717234

On December 16, 2020, activists from “Black Flag” and from “Popular Action” joined nurses against the social oppression perpetrated by the neoliberal government against public health. In 2020, a real front in the fight against the pandemic opened up to all Ukrainian doctors and health workers, and, unsurprisingly, the main enemy of the descendants of Hippocrates was not the virus, but their own government. Ukrainian. Government bureaucrats and medical oligarchs, continuing the work of their predecessors, are destroying public medicine in favour of private medicine. They are doing it so cynically that soon there will be no more qualified nurses or doctors who respect their work in Ukraine.

Doctors’ salaries remain disproportionate to the risks. It’s hard to imagine, but the average salary of doctors does not reach the average salary in Ukraine!

According to the Ministry of Health, the average salary of a doctor is around 9,000 Ukrainian Hryvnia (around 260 euros), 7,000 Hryvnia (around 203 euros) for nurses and 5,000 Hryvnia (144 euros) for young nurses.

This is why, today, we, anarchists, cannot stay away from the struggle and we support those who defend us all and who need our solidarity! During the action, the nurses expressed their demands:

1. Funding of medicine to the tune of at least 7% of GDP.

2. Increase in wages from 01.01.2021 for medical workers to the level of 23 000 Hryvnia for doctors; 17 000 for nurses and 12 000 for junior medical staff.

3. Guarantee to receive insurance benefits against occupational diseases for health workers suffering from COVID-19 (presumption of link between illness and professional activity).

4. Publication of expenses, income and budgets of medical establishments (open accounting), collective right to choose the management of medical establishments.

5. Launch of a state program to provide housing for medical personnel.

6. Stop the destruction of the Institutions and services for contagious diseases (tuberculosis), for psychiatry and for epidemiology.

7. Transfer of nurses working in schools and preschools to staff of health care establishments of the Ministry of Health.

After the rally, the demonstrators staged a demonstration in the streets of the city.

Solidarity above all!