Farquhar McHarg, Pistoleros! The Chronicles of Farquhar McHarg
Oakland, CA: PM Press/Christie Books, 2011, Volume 1: 1918, 256pp; ISBN: 978-1-604864-01- 4.
As Stuart Christie mentions in the introduction, Farquhar McHarg (a famous anarchist born in 1900 in Glasgow) felt the urge to write this book when his friend, Laureano Cerrada Santos, was murdered on 18 October 1976 in his Parisian exile. Like Christie, Cerrada--a Spanish anarchist and member of the CNT (National Confederation of Labour)--planned to assassinate Franco, and for McHarg, Cerrada's death was a personal and heavy blow. He feared being the next victim of the pistoleros (hired gunmen). Rather than living hidden for the rest of his life, McHarg wrote this hurried testimony to avoid history repeating itself and to remind new generations of anarchists of the fact that the reactionary enemy never sleeps. To fulfil his objective, McHarg drew a narrative chronology that offered a multi-faceted picture of Spanish pistoleros in different historical moments. It is then hardly surprising that this book presents a wide range of memories as McHarg interweaves autobiographical memory, collective memory, national memory, private memory, public memory, social memory, generational memory, historical memory, dominant memory and conflictual memory (to mention just a few).
McHarg's anarchist 'family album' presents frictions, secrets, betrayals and defeats, but also solidarity, camaraderie, fight, mutual aid and spontaneity. The 'show' starts with McHarg's arrival in Barcelona at the age of eighteen when he learnt that his theoretical readings on the fathers of anarchism (primarily Francisco Ferrer i Guardia) were not about chimeras but rather about something that burgeoned in Spain, concretely in Barcelona with the foundation of the anarcho-syndicalist CNT. He also discovered a country that was under the yoke of the Catholic Church, the Patronal (the employers' association, with the hired gunmen and the 'white terror' as the system of negotiation) and the caciques (Spain's mandarin class). While fighting this conservative trio, McHarg became associated with the group of Laureano Cerrada...