Archive: “Libertarians, the Left and the Middle East” webpage

Many of the webpages of the 1990s and early 2000s have since disappeared. This is particularly the case with sites using free hosting, like www.geocities.com and http://members.tripod.com/. In some cases the service was closed, and in other cases, sites were deleted or lapsed.

A notable loss was “Libertarians, the Left and the Middle East”, http://members.tripod.com/~stiobhard/east.html, accessed 15 November 1999. It was written by “Stiobhard” and had some interesting material on anarchism, past and present. Below is material we have been able to salvage, from copies saved to local computers.  There does not seem to be an archived copy or snapshot at the main archive sites. The portions below do not include the pages on the Middle East — only Algeria, Egypt and Tunisia — and also do not include material that was linked from these pages. Its a partial archive, but still, it’s better than nothing:

ALGERIA

  • Poems [broken link] by the Algerian feminist, Djur Djura [broken link].
  • The following anarchist journals were published in Algiers at the end of the nineteenth century.
    • L’Action Revolutionnaire, 1887.
    • Le Tocsin, 1890
    • Le Libertaire, 1892
    • La Marmite Sociale, 1893.
  • When Generalisimo Francisco Franco came to power in 1939, a considerable number of Republicans and Anarchists fled to Algeria. Some anarchists are known to have been living in the city of Oran during the years that followed.
  • Here is a french language site from Toulouse dedicated to the Algerian born Albert Camus [broken link].
  • Here are two articles in French about Algeria from the page of the Belgium based group, Alternative Libertaire [broken link].
  • 1953-4, The Algerian, Mohamed Dahou, contributes to several issues of Potlatch the journal of the pre-situationist group, the Lettriste International.
  • Abdelhafid Khatib represents the Algerian section of the Situationist International at the Action Against the International Assembly of Art Critics in Brussels on 12 April 1958. “Vanish, art critics, partial, incoherent and divided imbeciles!…Disperse, fragments of art critics, critics of fragments of art… You have nothing more to say. The Situationist International will leave no place for you. We will starve you out.”
  • Address to Revolutionaries of Algeria [broken link]by the Situationist International (Algiers, 1965).
  • Class Struggle in Algeria [broken link]by the Situationist International (Algiers, 1965).
  • A Critique [broken link]of Daniel Guerin’s analysis of events in Algeria by the Situationist International (1966)
  • Here is the conclusion [broken link]of Daniel Guerin’s book, Anarchism

EGYPT

  • In 1877, an anarchist journal Il Lavoratore appears in Alexandria, in the Italian language.
  • In September 1878, Errico Malatesta leaves Naples to avoid internment. He goes to Alexandria, Egypt where there is a thriving community of Italian workers. Meanwhile, after King Umberto I assumes the throne of Italy, the republican Passamante unsuccessfully attempts to assassinate the new king. There is widespread repression throughout Italy, in particular, against the anarchists. A meeting of Italian patriots organized in Egypt to decry the act of Passamante, and in response the Italian workers begin to organize a demonstration in front of the Italian Consulate to salute Passamante and oppose the Italian patriots. Before this can take place however, Malatesta is arrested along with Alvina and Parini. Malatesta and Alvina are both Pirini though a native of Leghorn, was a long time resident of Egypt and managed to stay there.
  • Amilcare Cipriani, the italian anarchist, is arrested and imprisoned in Italy in 1881 for the killing of an italian in Alexandria in 1867. This incident was previously ruled self-defence but was invoked by the italian authorities to put Cipriani out of commission when during his revolutionary campaigning in 1881. Cipriani’s imprisonment becomes a celebrated case across the left.
  • On 1 April 1882, Egyptian coalheavers strike against the Suez Canal Company in Port Said.
  • In 1882, the President of the Italian Workers Association in Alexandria sent a letter to the new government under Prime Minister Sami Pasha al-Barudi supporting the insurrection of Ahmad Orabi and denouncing foreign intervention.
  • In 1884, an Italian language anarchist revue La Questione Sociale appears in Egypt.
  • In 1890, the Patenta law is passed effectively ending the guild system in Egypt. The effect of this is a boost to labor activity in the country.
  • On 18 March 1894, the Egyptian Newspaper, Al-Hilal, reports the arrest of a greek worker in Alexandria for distributing what the police call “anarchist leaflets”. The leaflets call for workers to celebrate the anniversary of the Paris Commune and ends “Long Live Anarchy.” (or “Long live Communism” according to another translation.) On October 1 1894 Greek workers employed by the Suez Canal Company go on strike. Sakilarides Yanakakis establishes a shoemakers union. Dr. Skouphopoulos is another well known agitator in this region.
  • In 1899, Italian workers strike while working on Aswan Dam. Tobacco and cigarette workers call a general strike that same year.
  • In 1900, the libertarian Tucker Publications in New York, publishes a pamphlet on ancient Egypt by Paul Pfitzner called Five Thousand Years Ago
  • Luigi Galleani [broken link], escapes imprisonment on the island of Pantelleria, off the coast of Sicily, in 1900, and flees to Egypt. He stays among Italian comrades for a year until threatened with extradition, whereupon he flees to London, at the age of 40.
  • Galleani’s journal Cronaca Sovversiva (founded June 6, 1903 in Vermont), is widely read by Italian anarchists in many countries including those in North Africa.
  • In 1903, the Union of Employees of International Trade Firms is formed.
  • In 1907, foreign workers in Alexandria and Cairo, demonstrate against the extradition of Russian refugees living in Egypt. Russians fleeing the repression following the 1905 Revolution in Russia, had settled in Alexandria.
  • In 1908, The Cairo Tramworkers Union is formed.
  • In September 1919, following a summer of strikes, the Italian workers, Max di Collalto (publisher of Roma and member of the Socite Internationale des Employes du Caire) and Guiseppe Pizzuto, a revolutionary socialist of the printers union, are both deported.
  • Around 1920, Salama Musa, Muhammad ‘Abdullah al-‘Inani and Husni al-Urabi form the Socialist Party, in opposition to the Wafd nationalist Party. In 1924, Husni al-Urabi, Antun Marun and Joseph Rosenthal (a Jewish Italian who settled Egypt in 1899) form the Egyptian Communist Party in 1924.
  • In 1924, The Wafd Party forms the General Federation of Workers Unions in the Nile Valley to prevent the Communists from doing so.

TUNISIA

  • In 1887, the italian language anarchist journal,L’Operaio, appears in Tunis.It includes several articles by Bakunin, Kropotkin, and Nicolo Converti.
  • In 1896, the anarchist journal, La Protesta Umana is published. The La Protesta Umana of Macerata, published by Luigi Fabbri and Oreste Morresi, included the following note:
    “Dear comrade Nicolo Converti who was editing the old Protesta Umana in Tunis, has reached an agreement with us to publish it in Italy, specifically in Macerata.”
    The Tunisian journal included articles by Converti.
  • In November 1966, Mustapha Khayati, a Tunisian member of the Situationist International, writes the SI manifesto, On the Poverty of Student Life [broken link], while a student in France.
  • Rectifying Public Opinion [broken link]by Mustapha Khayati (1967).
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About Lucien van der Walt

I teach at Rhodes University, the Eastern Cape. I’m South African, born and bred. I am currently also involved in union education and have a background in social movement and left-wing activism, the Workers’ Library and Museum, the Anti-Privatisation Forum, and the National Health and Allied Workers Union (NEHAWU). I’ve presented papers at more than 120 conferences and workshops, published in key journals like 'Capital and Class' and 'Labor History', have co-edited 3 journal specials (these on global labour history, African labour, and unions in the Global South), and written well over 130 other articles, papers and entries. I was Southern Africa editor for the 2009 'International Encyclopaedia of Revolution and Protest' (Blackwell). My focus has been on South Africa, but I have also done research in Zambia and Zimbabwe. I won the 2008 international 'Labor History' thesis prize, and the 2008/2009 Council for the Development of Social Science Research prize for best African dissertation, for my PhD thesis on South African anarchism, syndicalism and black militants. I have several books, including 'Negro e Vermelho: anarquismo, sindicalismo revolucionário e pessoas de cor na África Meridional nas décadas de 1880-1920,' and 'Anarchism and Syndicalism in the Colonial and Postcolonial World, 1880-1940: the praxis of national liberation, internationalism, and social revolution' (co-edited with Steve Hirsch, Brill, 2010/ 2014).