Anarcho-Surrealist Prison Update


A few months ago, I linked to a story about anarchists in the Spanish Civil War. According to the Guardian, the Iberian anarcho-communists tortured their prisoners by confining them in bizarre cells "inspired by ideas of geometric abstraction and surrealism." I wasn't quite sure that proper anarchists would be building prisons—it seems to contradict the philosophy, y'know—but that just made the tale more surreal.

Now some modern anarchs are crying foul. Writing in the Spring 2003 issue of Fifth Estate, a long-lived anarchist journal, Don LaCoss notes that the story's sole source—the alleged courtroom confession of the anarchist Alphonse Laurencic—isn't particularly credible. "In the Soviet example," LaCoss writes, "the accused were tortured until they 'confessed' to espionage, [to] sabotage, or to some other ridiculous crime against Stalin and the people of the U.S.S.R.; in Franco's Spain, captured anarchists, communists, and Republicans admitted before military tribunals that they had raped nuns, encouraged homosexuality, and published hardcore pornography—and, in the case of Alphonse Laurencic, psychologically tortured political prisoners with repeated screenings of Bunuel's Un Chien andalou—as part of a fictitious, sprawling, Judeo-Masonic conspiracy based in Moscow." After providing more details about Francoist repression, LaCoss concludes: "In such a nightmarish context as this, bizarre atrocity propaganda about anarchist torturers' use of 'degenerate art' is not at all surprising."

Next up: Did Food Not Bombs really torture captives with bad punk rock and vegan meals? Stay tuned!