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!