Wednesday, December 28, 2005

On This Modern Warrior Archetype Part Four.7.0

7. Occasionally, circumstances require a breaking away from associate groupings. A clean dissolution is better accomplished by not betraying confidences and generally keeping one’s mouth shut. The advantages are several: one may always come back; third parties will take note of the situation; ugly scenes will be kept to a minimum; and one is more likely to continue breathing.

End of Part Four.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

On This Modern Warrior Archetype Part Four.6.3

6c. Among friends and comrades, group think may become especially prevalent through constant direct reinforcement. Immediate sources have the potential to become the strongest. However, one should take care. Some herds are smaller than others.

Sunday, December 25, 2005

On This Modern Warrior Archetype Part Four.6.2

6b. Manipulation may be reinforced by the acceptance of others. Mass adoption does not confer truth. If everyone can agree on a solution to a problem, then why bother asking why? Motivations need not be universal; in fact, absence is better–thus rash action may be braked without being broken.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

On This Modern Warrior Archetype Part Four.6.1

6a. Motivation can be voluntary or based on fear. The relationship may be best viewed as a spectra. In which case, as always, the question must be asked, is this spectra straight or curved? In some regards, it might be both with apathy at the center. Fear will inspire volunteers. Consequences might be worse than any alternative. Of course, to avoid being used, one must be capable of delving into the truth of the situation.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

On This Modern Warrior Archetype Part Four.5.0

5. Occasionally, a judgement regarding character requires a re-evaluation. One might find that dependability is lacking. Talk is cheap, but action speaks. However, be wary, a reluctance of action on the part of an associate may be a sign of wisdom. One must listen to one’s instincts, yet realize the nothing is infallible. One may be wrong; others may have a poor communication method regarding how.

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Math Deficiencies 1

1. A few years back, when I was teaching math at the community college level, I observed that many bright students were mathematically deficient. They were packed into my remedial class, which was the equivalent of high school algebra II, but rather than having difficulty, did quite well and easily passed in a five credit ten week academic quarter. Some claimed to have learning disabilities. They made it through as well. I have no formal training teaching math. I just disliked most math classes. So I tried to present the subject more concretely and let the students use open notes (but never textbooks) on tests and quizzes. I had always hated these things. I also went through every step on the board. My student evaluations were very good and some students even claimed to have developed an appreciation for the subject. Perhaps my methods were effective, but in actuality I would have to say that really the "average" student these days is perfectly capable of doing math. Most people think concretely; most mathematicians have a more abstract appreciation of their subjects. Also, memorization does not aide in problem solving. In short, mathematics needs to be taught concretely to the greater number of concrete thinkers. It needs a point. Mathematicians would disagree, but they are a minority. However, no matter the reasons, the fact is that these students were ill served by the public education system.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Excerpts from ANARCHISTS IN THE SPANISH REVOLUTION by José Pierats #14

Faced with strikes, the Federación Patronal used the tactic of the lockout. At the start of November, 1919, workers from several factories were turned out into the streets. This was the owners' response to the strike at La Canadiense. The lockout lasted until January, 1920, and ended in a humiliating defeat for the working class.

The CNT had planned its national conference for December. Around the same time the Catalan bourgeoisie organized the "Free Unions", composed of paid thugs recruited by the bourgeoisie and the military authorities. These were armed and guaranteed complete impunity, and they lost no time making their force felt throughout the country, above all in Catalonia, Levante and Aragon. Their sponsors, in addition to the Federación Patronal, were Industrial Spain, the Fomento de Trabajo Nacional. [11] the Hispano-Suiza Company, Miró y Trepat, and the Sindicato de Banca y Bolsa.

According to Farré Morego (Los atentados sociales en España), from 1917 to 1922 1,472 assassinations were attempted. Miguel Sastre (La esclavitud moderna) puts the number at 1,012, of which 753 were workers, 112 policemen, 95 owners, and 52 foremen. Ramon Rucabado (En torno al sindicalismo) counts 1,207 and, finally, according to an official source (Jos6 Pernartin, Los valores historicos de la dictadura española), from 1918 to 1923 there were 843 attacks in Barcelona, and 1,259 in all of Spain.

The most important confederal source is a booklet published by the Committee for Prisoners in Barcelona in 1923, which lists major trials, sentences and murders of the 1920-1923 period. The number of CNT members killed is given as 104, with 33 wounded. 12 Note one detail: in most military actions the number of wounded usually exceeds-even doubles-the number killed. Here, as can be seen (on the CNT side of course), the opposite occurred. This detail says more than might appear at first glance.

End of Excerpts.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Excerpts from ANARCHISTS IN THE SPANISH REVOLUTION by José Pierats #13

For the beginnings of pistolerismo, one must go back to the time of the First World War. As indicated previously, the industries of Catalonia supplied the Allied troops, although they also traded with the other side. The German high command wasted no time and spared no effort setting up espionage networks in ports and industrial centres. In Barcelona one such team worked fairly openly, reporting port traffic and shipping destinations to submarines on the high seas. The head of this team was known as the Baron de Koenig. One of the subordinates of "the Baron" was a police inspector named Bravo Portillo. The rest were recruited from the underworld of the city, armed with pistols, and sent to intimidate industrialists and other speculators who supplied the Allies. If their warnings had no effect, the gang used violence. To disguise their activities, they shot workers and owners alternately, giving the impression that a violent social struggle was underway and further irritating class antagonisms. One of the best known of Koenig's victims was the manager of a large factory that manufactured artillery shells.

In 1918, Solidaridad Obrera, the CNT organ, published irrefutable proof that Bravo Portillo was a spy. He was fired from the police force and jailed. Although he was subsequently freed and readmitted to the force, he always held a grudge against the CNT and its principal activists. From then 9n he directed his gangsters against the workers' movement.

When the war was over all this human flotsam was left unemployed. Miró y Trepat, Barcelona industrialist, with the goodwill of the Captain General of the garrison, Miláns del Bosch, offered his services to the Federación Patronal. The result was soon evident. One of the first victims of the new cycle of terror was an activist from the Dyer's section of the union, Pablo Sabater, murdered in July, 1919. Within two months Bravo Portillo was killed in revenge.

Monday, December 12, 2005

Excerpts from ANARCHISTS IN THE SPANISH REVOLUTION by José Pierats #12

In July, 1918, an important regional congress, called to modernise the structure of the unions, was held in Barcelona. The sindicato unico (single union) was devised as a way of avoiding rivalries between unions.8 In December, the CNT sent its finest speakers on a propaganda campaign through remote parts of the country. Although many of them were eventually arrested and put into jails and ships anchored in Barcelona harbour, they had sown the seed. Unions sprang up everywhere. The CNT soon had more than a million members.

On February 21, 1919, a well-organized general strike took place against the powerful La Canadiense electricity company. This strike, the most successful for the anarchist working class in that period, marked the climax of the period of expansion. It was a united, disciplined action: it caused panic in the bourgeoisie and the government and they responded in the usual fashion. When the conflict had virtually been resolved by negotiation between the parties directly involved, the Barcelona military authorities broke up the talks and arrested many of the militant workers. Thus the second phase of the struggle was against the authorities. The strikers had returned to work with the promise that all prisoners would be freed. But some were kept in jail on the pretext that they had been indicted. The strikers contended that the trials should have been dropped by executive fiat. The truth is that the only reason the indictments had been issued was to keep certain prisoners in jail, and thus save face for the authorities. In ignoring this and insisting upon total victory, the strikers were excessively optimistic. In fact, they played into the hands of the authorities. What had at first been a great victory turned into a modest success.

The strike of La Canadiense gave an idea of the power, the degree of coordination, and the militancy of the worker movement. The bourgeoisie and the authorities knew that the defeat of so dangerous an adversary, by any means necessary, was a question of life and death. In the face of the dread Sindicato Unico, industrialists organized the Federación Patronal (Owners' Federation). Hostilities broke out at once: a dialogue of pistols. Who had fired the first shot?

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Excerpts from ANARCHISTS IN THE SPANISH REVOLUTION by José Pierats #11

The Spanish State declared its neutrality in the war because its political leadership was divided between francophiles and germanophiles, and possibly because a neutral Spain was useful to France and England as supplier for their armies. Neutrality meant commercial paradise for the bourgeoisie. All the industrialists received contracts to supply the belligerents. Shipbuilders appeared overnight and amassed great fortunes. Mines, most abandoned, were reactivated and still could not keep up with demand. New industries were created and old industries were converted for war production. The Bank of Spain reaped a harvest of gold.

The demand for labour brought a flood of immigrants to Barcelona from other regions. Exporters sold even the food that would normally have been consumed in Spain. Prices of essential goods rose sharply due to speculation and shortages, causing large-scale social unrest. In mid- 1916 the Socialist Party adopted a program of political agitation bringing it closer to the CNT. Both movements declared a general strike against the rise in prices. Syndicalism gained great power and even a certain cachet.

Lower ranking army officers, in an effort to get rid of the nepotism of the military hierarchy, formed their own union known as the Juntas of Defence. Liberal politicians took this as evidence of a new mentality among younger officers and demanded that parliament be reconvened and a new federal constitution drawn up. A united front of members of Parliament held a meeting in Barcelona, but government forces broke in and quickly dispersed it. However the CNT and the UGT had agreed upon a revolutionary alliance, and on August 12, 1917, they proclaimed a general strike throughout Spain. The Juntas of Defence quickly showed their true colours and soldiers entered the streets of Barcelona firing at will. Within seven days the revolutionary outbreak was stifled. Four Socialist leaders, Largo Caballero, Saborit, Besteiro, and Anguiano, were held responsible. They were imprisoned, but were freed the next year because of the parliamentary elections. Referring to the strike, Socialist leader Prieto declared to the new parliament: "It's true that we gave the people weapons. But we didn't give them ammunition."

Friday, December 09, 2005

On This Modern Warrior Archetype Part Four.4.0

4. From time to time, principal loyalties may be tried and tested. Means can be a source of contention. How far should one go. Whether one likes it or not, the better answer might be no more than necessary. As for individuals, the case is even more important for groupings. Absent fear and intimidation, cohesion cannot be maintained by pressing much further beyond the tolerance level of the most reticent in action. This baseline is something akin to a ground state–although it may change over time. Confidence is an excellent motivational aide beyond the baser inclinations. The sure are less used.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

On This Modern Warrior Archetype Part Four.3.0

3. Occasionally, a associate may feel a compulsion to rash action and expect one to support their stupidity. Often, the better course of action is to standby, let them take their lumps but intervene when they are down. They might learn nothing but you will.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Excerpts from ANARCHISTS IN THE SPANISH REVOLUTION by José Pierats #10

In the fall of 1911 the CNT celebrated its First Congress in Barcelona. Soon afterwards two serious incidents took place: the metalworkers' strike organized by the Socialist Party in Bilbao, spread across Spain; and the bloody incidents in Cullera (Valencia), where a judge from Sueca, invested with full powers, provoked popular violence and was lynched. Seven suspects were condemned to death on January 10, 1912. All seven were reprieved, the last, Juan Jover, by the king.

The various CNT headquarters were shut down because of their solidarity with the strikers organized by the Socialist Party in the Bilbao mining region. In October, 1911, a Barcelona judge outlawed the CNT. Not until the eve of the First World War, in 1914, would the CNT return to public life.

Because of the reprieves after Cullera, the President of the Council of Ministers, José Canalejas, submitted the resignation of his government. The king reiterated his confidence in Canalejas, and the government toughened its anti-popular stance. In September, 1912, there was a railway strike. Canalejas, following the example of the socialist Aristide Briand, drafted the strikers into the army. The decree was known as the "Law of Handcuffs". On November 12, 1912, Canalejas was assassinated in Madrid's Puerta del Sol. His killer, Manuel Pardifias, immediately committed suicide. Perhaps the act was motivated by Canalejas' refusal to reverse the conviction of Ferrer. But there are other hypotheses. Among the proposed reforms of Canalejas was the so-called "padlock" law, which forbade the establishment of new religious orders. This law caused much unrest among the clergy, and throughout the country there were processions presided over by bishops and aristocratic ladies.

Even underground the CNT continued to have an effect, in particular in a strike of 100,000 textile workers. Again legal in 1914, the CNT waged a campaign against the European war. In 1915 it held an international anti-militarist conference in Galicia in spite of government prohibition. Some of the participants were jailed, and foreign delegates like Sebastian Fauré and Malatesta were not allowed to enter the country. Some foreign anarchists, notably Kropotkin, Malato, and Grave, openly favoured the allies as did some of the anarchists and syndicalists in Spain. The most notable of the Spaniards was Ricardo Mella, who argued in Acción Libertaria against the position taken by José Prat in Tierra y Libertad. This dispute darkened the last days of Anselmo Lorenzo, who died on November 30, 1914.

Monday, December 05, 2005


In the face of such repression, Solidaridad Obrera convened a national congress in Barcelona. The syndicalists realized that the lack of a national organization had hindered the cause of the rebels of 1909 and facilitated the Ferrer trial and execution. A kind of guilt complex led to the founding of an anarcho-syndicalist central committee on a national level. The other national union, The General Union of Workers (UGT), was only a docile satellite of the Pablo Iglesias Socialist Party, organized between 1879 and 1881. The Congress of Solidaridad Obrera took place in Barcelona's Palace of Fine Arts, and so was known as the "Congress of Fine Arts". It met on October 30 and November 1, 1910 and was composed of delegates from almost all of the regions of Spain. One of the most notable adherents was Anselmo Lorenzo, founder of the old Spanish Regional Federation. His message was prophetic:

You are going to make an accord that will influence the ever-progressive march of humanity. A page of the book of history lies blank before you; prepare yourselves to fill it in a way that will be to your credit and to the benefit of all persons, now and in the future.

The Congress of Solidaridad Obrera founded the National Confederation of Labour (CNT) on the model of French revolutionary syndicalism. Perhaps old Anselmo Lorenzo smiled when the syndicalist Charter of Amiens was used as a model by the Spaniards. For in fact this syndicalism had been invented by the Spanish members of the International, and brought to the London conference of 1870 in a speech that produced astonishment and admiration. The speaker had been none other than Anselmo Lorenzo himself, then a youth, sent for the first time to an international conference.

The Congress of Fine Arts defined syndicalism as

... a way of struggle ... to obtain at once all those advantages that enable the working class to intensify the struggle within the present order, so as to gain .... its complete freedom, by means of the revolutionary expropriation of the bourgeoisie, as soon as syndicalism .... considers itself numerically strong enough and intellectually competent to carry out the general strike. The general strike by definition must be revolutionary, and have as its watchword the motto of the First International: The workers must free themselves. Consequently only workers, who earn their wages in factories or businesses run by the bourgeoisie and the State, may be members of the unions of the CNT.

Sunday, December 04, 2005


During the first days of June, 1909, serious incidents took place near Melilla, in Spanish Morocco. The local people were violently opposed to the construction of a mine railway, which they saw as an encroachment on their sovereignty. A Spanish military counterattack was beaten back with heavy losses at Barranco del Lobo. On July 11, 1909, the government called up the reserves.

The Moroccan campaigns had always been unpopular in Catalonia. Spontaneous demonstrations broke out in the port district of Barcelona when the reservists were leaving. Workers¹ Solidarity called a general strike, which the people turned into an uprising. The people threw up barricades in the streets and burned 17 churches and 23 convents and other religious establishments, The government proclaimed martial law and cut off Catalonia from the rest of Spain with troops. A heavy repression followed. Reactionary civilians formed Councils of Civil Defense and a special judge was charged with indicting those responsible for the uprising. The official press undertook a campaign of slander against the people and centred the blame on the founder of the Modem School, Francisco Ferrer. They brought out his prior revolutionary activities in France and Spain as militant anarchist and enemy of the nation, the army and the Church. The government produced false witnesses who testified they had seen him direct the uprising from the barricades. Some of these perjurers departed for America after being paid for their testimony.

On August 31, Ferrer was arrested and accused of leading the rebellion. A public hearing was held for anyone wishing to testify against him and police, aristocrats and Carlists took advantage of the opportunity. The edict of the judge in charge of the case made no mention of those who might testify in his favour. This public appeal for witnesses shows that the government had no proof of Ferrer's guilt. The Captain General of the garrison ordered the military judges to select "all indications, evidence, and charges against Ferrer" from the transcripts "and forward them to the instructing judge, Raso Negrin. "Thus all evidence and testimony in favour of the prisoner was eliminated.

The government had previously banished all close friends of the prisoner. Three of his longtime associates, Soledad Villafranca, Cristóbal Litrán, and Anselmo Lorenzo, were sent to Teruel. The letters they sent the judge asking to testify were mysteriously lost or "delayed." On one of these "delayed" letters Raso Negrin wrote, "The case has already been sent to court, and because in court only those witnesses may testify who have testified in the hearing, to my great regret I cannot allow this testimony." Nevertheless, the case was taken to court October I and two days later a new witness was permitted to testify against Ferrer. From then on the trial picked up unusual speed. It was very clear that, come what may, Ferrer was to be shot. And yet the uprising had been leaderless. Ossorio y Gallardo, the governor at the time, admitted as much.

But because the government needed a well known person as a scapegoat for the recent events, they fixed on Ferrer, a man already marked as an agitator by the military and clergy. Ferrer was a good catch for the reactionaries. He had succeeded in escaping unpunished from the investigation of the attack on the royal couple in 1906. Besides being a revolutionary, Ferrer was a dangerous innovator in education and therefore profoundly disliked by the clergy. With convents and churches gutted by flames, the clergy could not bring themselves to forgive the people for the events of July, 1909.

Francisco Ferrer was condemned to death according to plan and executed in Montjuich on September 13, 1909. To mitigate the effect of the execution other more obscure citizens were also shot: José Miguel Baró, Antonio Malets, Eugenio del Hoya, a night watchman, and Ramón Clemente.

The Maura government was unable to survive the protests throughout Spain and abroad during and after the trials. Ferrer's statue stands in Brussels; Maura's career was ruined by the crime. In 1910 he was wounded in Barcelona by an anarchist, Manuel Possa. (In 1904 another attempt on his life had been made by the anarchist Joaquin Miguel Artal.) At the beginning of 1911 there was a widespread movement to reopen the Ferrer case. Although the case was never reopened, the verdict was in effect reversed by a series of brilliant speeches in Parliament.

Friday, December 02, 2005


Repression and anarchist attacks followed one another well into the twentieth century. In 1898 Spain lost the last vestiges of its overseas empire. Defeated in America and the Pacific, the army decided to colonize Spain itself. Alfonso XIII began his reign by humouring the army. But the liberal press satirized the army's arrogance and in retaliation a group of officers sacked the office of a satirical newspaper in Barcelona. The government gave in to military pressure and promulgated the Law of Jurisdictions. By this law any offence, verbal or written, against military institutions would be judged by the military code. In newspapers and public meetings the workers' movement protested this extension of martial law to the civilian sector. The king continued to cultivate the army's favour.

In 1906 the anarchist Mateo Morral broke up the royal wedding by throwing a bomb as the royal couple passed. The king and queen were unhurt, and Morral committed suicide. The subsequent repression concentrated on Francisco Ferrer, director of the Modern School of Barcelona, where Mateo Morral had been a teacher.

Francisco Ferrer had arrived in Barcelona at the beginning of the century with a respectable fortune inherited from a Frenchwoman who sympathized with his projects. A convinced revolutionary and experienced conspirator, he proposed to advance the revolution on two fronts: on the industrial front by means of the general strike; and on the educational and cultural front with rationalist and positivist teachings. In 1901 he opened the first Modem School in Barcelona with 30 students. His publishing house undertook the translation of the best examples of scientific thinking and modern philosophy. His school was the working class equivalent of the Institución Libre de Enseñanza on the university level. His collaborators included Elisée Reclus, Jean Grave, Pyotr Kropotkin, Charles Malato, and Anselmo Lorenzo. This serious revolutionary movement frightened government officials and the clergy. Ferrer was freed unharmed from his first jailing only with great difficulty. But the clergy and the military did not lose sight of him.

In 1907 the local Barcelona federation, called Solidaridad Obrera (Workers¹ Solidarity), became a regional federation. In October, 1907, there appeared the weekly Solidaridad Obrera, edited by José Prat and Anselmo Lorenzo. In January, 1908, the government of Maura and La Cierva proposed a new law for the repression of terrorism. La Cierva, the Minister of the Interior, began a campaign of provocation in Barcelona to ensure the bill's passage. Bombs went off daily in virtually all parts of town, especially in the meeting places of the Catalan nationalists. Curiously, no one was arrested. The government had prepared a plan to stop, once and for all, the political and social rebirth of Catalonia. A private detective was able to establish the true source of these explosions, implicating the police, the Governor, and the Ministry of the Interior. A provocateur named Juan Rull was paid for his services on the scaffold. The proposed law for the repression of terrorism had to be withdrawn from Parliament because of the concerted opposition of the republicans, Socialists, and anarchists.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Operational Art

In Operational IEDs, William S. Lind makes the following point: Operational art is not a thing, but a linkage: the connection between the tactical and strategic levels of war. The area connecting the local and global is often murky. The whole is different than the sum of its parts. He goes on to say:

Unfortunately, it appears our Fourth Generation opponents have figured out a way to act operationally against us. I touched on this in an earlier column, but as I thought more about it, I decided that what is happening deserves fuller consideration. What our opponents are doing is brilliantly simple. By relying mostly on IEDs to attack us, they have created a situation where our troops have no one to shoot back at. That, in turn, ramps up the troops’ frustration level to the point where two things happen: our morale collapses and our troops take their frustration out on the local population. Both results have strategic significance, and at least the potential of being strategically decisive, the first because it affects American home front morale and the second because it drives the local population to identify with the insurgents instead of the government we are trying to support.


The second operational effect, getting U.S. troops to take out their frustration on the local population, was illustrated in what an officer whose unit recently came back from Iraq said to me. “We were hit 3000 times and in only fifteen of those attacks did we have anyone to shoot back at,” he told me. He quoted another officer in the battalion who had gone out on patrol many times as saying, “We are worse than the SS in the way we are treating these people,” meaning Iraqi civilians. This is a classic result of “the war of the flea:” as morale collapses, so does discipline, and poorly disciplined troops often treat local civilians badly.

It would appear that local populations can effectively fight state-based military occupations. I would also have to say that the same thing can sometimes be accomplished by peaceful means. The Palestinians would probably find peaceful means much more profitable as a means of eliciting sympathy from Europe. An official EU trade Embargo would devastate the Israeli economy. It's hard to have sympathy for suicide bombers and those who us them. However, it would seem that overwhelming response can effectively even overcome the natural distaste for suicide bombers. Pictures of Fallujah do no good for the US government on the world stage. Rather than a military response, which is grossly uneven, why not just use local bounty hunters? At least less bystanders will be killed in the cross fire.