Sunday, 25 October 2020

Police Abolition an anecdotal view

Minneapolis 3rd Precinct

Resistance to police violence is growing around the world, with very public and committed examples shown in the USA, Chile, Greece, Hong Kong, Belarus and Nigeria, but also in many other countries demonstrations and other symbols of growing discontent and resistance are becoming much more common. 

People gather to protest during a solidarity rally for the death of George Floyd, June 6, 2020, in Tokyo.

Credit: AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko
The term All Cops Are Bastards ACAB is seen on many walls, but the more polite terms, Reform the Police, Defund the Police and even Abolish the Police are now all mainstream phrases, and they are being "extremely reluctantly" given representation and discussion in mainstream channels. Its also made the usual knee jerk responses a lot more common too. A typical response to even the mildest criticism of the most shockingly violent and openly corrupt policing actions is some variation of "What you going to do when you need help" 

This has puzzled me for years, because I did need help at several times in my life, and the police even when called did not help me. In many of my interactions with the police they were even an implied or open threat to me and my friends and family. I thought I'd document some of them, now I know this is purely anecdotal and my side in the events, but its not remotely exceptional, my experiences are the same as those of relatives, friends and neighbours etc. So I've included a few of them as well (anonymised of course), again these are anecdotes but I was either present or trust them completely. 

I've also added a list of some more systematic examinations of the police as an institution at the end to take a look at when you're finished, or to skip to if you don't like anecdotes. Oh and since this is an example of a white person using initiatives started by Black people in response to a systematic issue that attacks and oppresses them to a staggering degree, I believe Black lives do matter, racism is endemic and integral to our modern capitalistic societies, and I hope this will be supported by the following text and my brief comparisons of my personal experiences do not come across as offensive or trivialising. 

CW: the following discusses violence, murder, suicide and sexual assault.

I was walking home at night when an elderly woman started screaming for help while trying to climb through her own window, I ran over to help, and became confused as to what she was saying. I suspected she had dementia and was going to leave, but I worried that she might have been so distraught because of some serious problem and just couldn't tell me clearly. Completely in over my head I noticed a box next to the front door with the name of a company and a contact number, so I ring that, no one answers but it did transfer me to the emergency services, I explained the issue as best I could and they transferred me, but not to the health service, instead a police officer starts barking instructions at me, -this was how I learnt that mental health issues that become public are dealt with by the police and not some kind of counselling or mental health team I assumed would be used- again I explain and he orders me to stay there as they'll be on their way. Eventually they arrive, (in the meantime a neighbour had come across and explained that this happens a lot) and the first thing he does is go up to the window and ask the clearly confused and agitated woman "has this man taken any money off  you?" thankfully she of coursed said no, as did the neighbour, but since she was clearly confused and very agitated she could very well of said yes and landed me in a lot of trouble. The officer continued to question her about me and she again says no to all except that I was trying to help her. Eventually another police car pulls up with a relative of the old woman, and I'm now allowed to leave.

When out with some friends we watched a very drunk man get chucked out of a pub, at the time we thought it was really funny watching him stagger and talk nonsense, but it quickly turned even uglier, he turned around and tried to get back in, the bouncers intervened, and a fight broke out, one in which he quickly lost. However despite losing the bouncers wouldn't let it go they knocked him down repeatedly, blood was trickling off his head and then they pinned him down with one of them using his leg to pin his head. One of my friends called the police and they said they'd send someone down right away. Forty minutes later he's still passed out on the floor, though the bleeding has stopped and a bouncer who arrived after the fight has put him in the recovery position, a police van arrives, they totally ignore us and everyone else who come out to see what was going on, and talked exclusively to the bouncers, including the ones who weren't there during the fight. At this point the man woke up and started to get up and ramble, this was good news as it meant his injuries weren't as severe as they looked, and it was bad news because the police started ordering the obviously dazed and confused man about. When he moved to push past them, the police pinned him to the floor again, and then picked him up and threw into the back of the van, and then drove off with him.

So not only the police not help in this situation, getting them involved made it worse since they locked the victim up. 

Once when visiting my brother and his family, I noticed the front door had chipboard nailed over the inside of it. He then told me that a week or two earlier the police had done one of those breach and searches while he was at work, startling his kids and his pregnant partner. They ransacked the house looking for drugs, mainly cannabis. The reason why they were looking for a cannabis greenhouse inside a tiny two bedroom house that's full of kids, was because my brother had accosted the local grass*. The reason he had accosted the local grass? well that is because he found him in the back garden trying to steal the kids toys and trikes. So, the grass wanted revenge, and while my brother had been clean for over 20 years at that point (30 now) he did have some historic charges relating to illegal substances on his record, so that was good enough to justify terrorising a family. 

Speaking of drug usage, a relative who works in probation has steadily gone from a devout believer in the power and correctness of the law, into an increasingly world weary cynic. One of the reasons for this reappraisal is the curious pattern they've noticed where first time offenders for dug dealing charges often express shock that the amount of drugs they are accused of being in possession, is often much less than the amount that was actually there. Now I couldn't possibly speculate on why this discrepancy keeps happening, but since the amount of narcotics often reflects on sentencing, its unlikely we'll see an inquest into the matter.

My friend H

Back in the day when student life was ending and we were all looking for jobs a friend of mine became a police cadet, the rest of my friends were in the TA apart from one who got a job at a local off license. I was going to join a TA engineering regiment to learn a trade, but when I got to the barracks I noticed it was a Para engineers regiment, so I gave it a miss.

Anyway, of my social circle my friend who joined the police quickly became very, very, bitter and quick to violent outbursts. Even acquaintances who had seen some combat in Afghanistan were shocked at some of his antics. He told me all about his training and even let me read some of the training materials while he was still a cadet. It was pretty enlightening, the training included riot practice where the new recruits are the police shield wall, while the officers play the rioters and pelt them with glass bottles and actual petrol bombs. Though these were only filled to about a fifth or a quarter, to minimise the danger, but they still started fires, and on one occasion his eyes were raw and stinging because the night before the recruits were made to walk through a cloud of CS gas. In H's own words this was to both build toughness but also about cementing strong bonds between them.

When he went on patrols and house visits he told me all sorts of stories about the people who lived on the estates as if they were from another planet. This was especially strange since we both lived in comparable housing in neighbouring estates, and we often ended up at parties in the same worn out terraces. Looking back this is what surprised me the most about how effective police training is in reshaping minds. 

I think the worst thing he did before I lost contact with him was after he policed a free festival. He looked depressed, and when we asked him what was wrong he told us he'd had a bollocking from some superior officer because he and four other police had been caught on camera by reporters beating a drunk guy up. I never saw it appear on the local news, so I guess they quashed it. But what really stood out and shocked us, was that the reason they beat the drunk up was because the guy laughed at their helmets.

Seriously that was the reason given, a bloke who had to much too drink laughed at their helmets, so four police officers (well one was still a cadet) slapped him around in a crowded public party. And he didn't see why we were giving him a hard time about how he shouldn't have done that.

He was never a pacifist but his attitude and world view did a complete transformation, and it only took about a few months before the changes were noticeable.

The One Time a police officer did help us

In the interest of some balance I suppose its only fair to talk about the one time a police officer did in fact provide some assistance to my family. My step father sadly took his own life after a period of emotional trauma, it took us by surprise and I spent much of the day trying to calm down my distraught mother. The police investigating the disappearance and then death weren't particularly helpful, they found him, but he had done it in a very public place so it was only a matter of time, and they regarded the matter as a suspicious death, but from what I understand they're suppose to treat all suicides in that manner so I don't hold that against them, it just wasn't particularly helpful to be badgered with questions while my mother was grieving and we were trying to think of what to tell the grandkids. 

No the actual helpful police officer was a traffic policeman, who lived nearby and was a distant relation through marriage. We knew him and he knew us, and when he heard about what  happen he came over and gave his condolences and wanted to know if there was anything he could do. It turned out there was, one of the nasty sides of treating suicide like a suspicious death and possibly murder is that the police officers assigned to handle it keep their distance unless its relevant to their investigation so after the awful news in the morning, we heard effectively nothing for the rest of the day, and ringing the contact number  we were given gave us nothing useful. So he rang some officers he knew and gave us some details and we able to start working through that horrible process.

So yes that was very helpful, but it didn't really have anything to do with him being a police officer, he knew us and sympathised and he used his connections to help out. Still appreciated. 

Protests and Profiling

In my time I've took part in (perfectly pacific and legal of course) protests and usually just seen a handful of bored police officers stand well apart from us lazily observing and chatting amongst themselves. Sometimes though I've marched past armed police and canine units, I remember one Alsatian was straining at the leash to bite a brass band section while its handler struggled** "No! come on, stop it, calm, calm it, sit,". But so far no pepper spray or truncheon scars. So not to bad right? Well yes but they were still arrayed in a loose position that declared they were in opposition to whatever it was we were about, and that was only the visible police presence. You'd be surprised what's lurking just around the corner.

The clearest example of this I can think of was early on during the coalition Lib Dem and Conservative government started passing austerity measures. You may remember this was when the government started to cut the police funding which prompted the Police Federation; which is the closest thing in the UK to a police union, to start protesting. So you had this strange and to my mind offensive sight of police force banners joining TUC marches. At a local protest to support those one day "general strikes" of public sector workers called to put some pressure on the government I turned up, and saw this great big banner for the local police force held by two local coppers. I thought about leaving, but instead moved as far away from them as I could, which put me in a crowd of Labour councillors, I said hello and made small talk with the few I knew. I was surprised that they also weren't happy about police trying to rub shoulders and piggyback sympathy. As professional politicians and moderate community types I thought they'd be all for it. One of them in particular pointed out to me that there was police van full of them, all in riot gear just around the corner watching us. So even when they were joining the protests the police remained able and willing to use force against them.

That was protests, me and friends though have been profiled on multiple occasions and harassed by the police. The reason why is that we are football fans and we enjoy watching matches and going on away days. This means as young men who aren't local and who used trains that police intelligence has selected as probable vehicles used by hooligans.  Now of course violence football violence is terrible, but the solution isn't making all the out of towners occupy a small part of a carpark and then march them under guard through the town until they're at the stadium and then not let them leave. Or when you're trying to leave after a match penning them into a part of a station and refusing to let them board trains apart from one that's been designated for them, and just ramming them all on there. I've seen a tazer used once and it was when I was leaving after a match, the police had decided to force the football fans to one side of the station and not let them board several trains and then when one turned up we were allowed to board they restricted us to the rear carriages only, this created a massive jam, and at one point they tazered a man in the back. On one particular occasion the police effectively ambushed us at the stairs leading from the platform to the exit, they questioned us and since we didn't have local accents they ordered us out into a side car park, they didn't even ask us if we were there to see a game and we weren't wearing team shirts or scarves or anything. Funnily enough they let the older guys in our group through without issue, including the man who had multiple offenses and banning orders for football related violence, because as an older man walking with his daughter he didn't fit the description. That incident had a happy ending though, we managed to outsmart them by walking back into the station and then walking back out through the door right next to it.

Things aren't much better during home games either, its not unusual to find the whole surrounding area to be full of police, often with lines outside pubs determining how many can come in, and on several occasions groups of cops on street corners just stop people in the street and interrogate them before deciding whether or not they are or are not allowed to continue walking down the street. Then there was the time I was boarding a bus and two men behind me in the line started singing a local club song, not one of the really offensive ones, it was one of the "We are club and we are great" ones. A car immediately parks behind the bus, four plain clothed police get out, detain them, order them to shut up and start questioning them about their identity and history, before letting them get on the bus with a warning.

Now of course no one likes football fans, even other football fans, in my own group we're always on the look out for certain people we can't stand, but the effect is none of the nastier aspects of football fans are curtailed in anyway. On the contrary it often magnifies it. I've seen groups of men who at worst were being loud and obnoxious pushed around and humiliated to the point of explosion. That's what kettling does and why its called kettling, it literally refers to the act of increasing pressure and boiling points. Protestors didn't give these modern policing tactics the name kettling, the police did themselves. Its even worse when you look up the origins of the tactic and term, it comes from the German word Kessel which is a type of cauldron, and was used in German army talk for a tactic to overwhelm and eliminate an enemy. And one of the earliest examples of modern kettling was in 1986 in West Germany. They know full well what these tactics and behaviours do and there associations, they just don't care.

Now of course this only a fraction of what black populations and other minorities in the USA, UK and a depressingly long list of other countries have to face. I've had some quite close calls but usually only had to risk incurring the wrath of the police on Tuesdays and Saturdays, and I could further reduce that risk by just giving up a treasured hobby. As the murder of George Floyd reminded us, other people don't have that luxury. Just being alive is considered reasonable grounds for suspicion and the use of violent and often lethal force. I said I was profiled because me and my friends were, we matched a category and were treated differently because of it. When it first started we tried to solve the issue by stopping wearing our colours, we don't wear things that indicate we support the team and just wear ordinary clothing when going to away games. Sometimes this works, which is probably why hardcore hooligans also do this which is why the term "the casuals" is a thing, to give just another example of police measures failing to prevent crime. But what exactly can you do when the category is your very existence?

When Black Lives Matter protests started to gain traction, many well meaning but oblivious commentators promoted training at risk communities teach themselves and especially young people how to behave with officers since Trayvon Martin and Tamir Rice's legally sanctioned killings showed that youth is no shield. The death of Philando Castille, who was shot five times precisely because he was following the instructions of the investigating officer Jeronimo Yanez, shows that also doesn't seem to work. Breonna Taylor was shot to death in her own bed, her boyfriend actually called 911 to report that his house had been invaded by armed men who turned out to be the police. There is nothing you can do to protect yourself if the police decide to target you, they are better equipped and trained and far more willing to use force, and the law won't protect you even when other parts of it agree the police are out of line, because they're wedded to the same system and part of the same foundations. 

The police need to go, and if getting rid of them requires also getting rid of the whole rotten power structure of exploitation and domination, and the challenging and defeating the bigoted ideas that empower and justify them, then I say all the better. 

The other ACAB, All Cats Are Beautiful

* Police informant, usually local petty criminal using information to in exchange for the police turning a blind eye to their own shady doings. The grass on my brothers estate was well known as a petty thief. The local grass in the town I grew up in was repeatedly beaten with baseball bats, chased down streets and had his windows knocked in, because it was well known that he was a paedophile who allegedly groomed multiple kids in the area. I can't say with a 100% legal certainty that either accusation is true, but once when I was 13 he tried to lure me into his garage, and another time shortly after that I saw him chatting on friendly terms with the police in the back of a patrol car before being dropped off on the street, eventually they moved him out the area. 

** I once met a Navy training instructor who had worked with dogs and sometimes worked with the police as part of joint exercises. He told me that dogs are unleashed only once the rest of the police have withdrawn from the area, because they will only listen to their specific handler, they will and have attacked other police officers as well as or instead of the suspect.


Some additional reading

Police the Case Against - Polite Ire

Learning  from Ferguson

Origins of the Police - David Whitehouse

Stop kidding yourself: the police were created to control working class and poor people - Sam Mitrani

A World Without Police

Saturday, 3 October 2020

Notes on a Dialogue with Stalin

Written in 1952 this essay is one of the last to be written with the goal of proving the capitalist nature of the USSR, it is also the weakest of them I have read.

This is partly because its scope is the most narrow and superficial, rather than look at Soviet society and economics as a whole it is just a direct response to a book published by Stalin `Economic Problems of Socialism in the USSR` so it mainly concerns itself with picking apart the passages in the book.

Bordiga says at the beginning we should read between Stalin's lines, to get at the true meaning of his work. If we do the same to Bordiga's argument an interesting pattern emerges. Another reason for the weakness and limits of this work is that Bordiga does not actually disprove of much of how the soviet society developed. He openly defends Lenin and spends most of the work trying to distinguish between the economies of the two, despite most of the capitalist features already present. The best Bordiga can do is claim that Lenin was aiming at building state capitalism, whereas Stalin has merely built industrialism.

He also explicitly endorses the terror and the closest we get to criticism of Lenin is a brief remark of a time when Lenin committed the great sin of disagreeing with Bordiga at a Comintern meeting.

To be honest there are passages were Bordiga seems to have no real issue with Stalin's economic system, and is mainly incensed by the misuse of his beloved Marxian language and terminology. This makes sense as Bordiga was very much a believer in stageism and so while a book accusing the soviet union of capitalism in red clothing seems damning, to Bordiga the development of capitalism in Russia and Central Asia is a fine and necessary thing, if only Stalin were more honest.

"Once again, it remains true: Russian “economic policy” has certainly developed the material productive forces, has indeed expanded the world market, but within the capitalist forms of production. It does indeed represent a useful historical tool: no less than the industrial invasion at the expense of the starving Scots and Irish or the Wild West Indians, but it cannot loosen the relentless grip of the contradictions of capitalism, which very well potentiates the forces of society, but which for that must debilitate and subjugate the workers' association."

The work also has issues with tone, parts, especially the beginning are extremely purple and full of points that end in obscure classical references, other times he makes a point and then fails to elaborate it. There are also entire sections that serve no real purpose in regards to the argument but give Bordiga a chance to praise without qualification Marx and Engels, the praise is so all encompassing it reminded me of the odes to comrade Stalin that the soviet press and art world had to keep making to escape the hand of the secret police.

Read Berkman instead, or if you must have a Marxist Pannekoek.

Wednesday, 30 September 2020

Anarkiismo en Bulgario - Anarchism in Bulgaria

La fonto
La membiografio de Aleksander Metodiev Nakov (1919-2018) utilas por lerni pri la esperanta movado en Bulgario, sed ankaŭ pri ĝiaj rilatoj kun anarkiismo. Fakte, la ĉefa reprezentanto de tiu interligo estas ĝuste Nakov, kiu agadis dum la dekstrema aŭtoritatema reĝimo antaŭ la dua mondmilito, sed ankaŭ dum tiu komunisma. Nakov nomis ilin reciproke « faŝisma » kaj  « bolŝevika ». Naskiĝinte ene de malriĉa familio en la vilaĝo Kosatĉa (Kovacevci) en la okcidenta parto de la lando, post la bazlernejo li eklaboris kiel terlaboristo. Li translokiĝis al minista urbo Pernik, kie li laboris en fabriko Machinostroitel. Promenante sur la ĉefa strato de la urbo je la fino de 1936, kaptis lian atenton iu lernolibro de Esperanto en montro-fenestro de librovendejo . Allogis lin, kaj la celo de la lingvo kaj ĝia lerno-facileco, sed eĉ pli la ebleco sekvi rekte la revoluciajn eventojn en Hispanio, pri kiuj legeblis en Esperanto-bultenoj atingintaj Bulgarion.

Malgraŭ sia nescio de la latina alfabeto, li eklernis la lingvon. Baldaŭ li konatiĝis kun la juna ministo Boris Serginov, kiu klopodis vendi esperantan kalendaron de 1937. Kun li Nakov babiladis unuafoje en la internacia lingvo. Tamen, la plej influa homo en tiu epoko estis Anka Pisarska, kiun Nakov ekkonis en kunveno de junaj anarkiistoj en Vitoŝa. Ŝi lernigis lin la gramatikaĵojn de la lingvo kaj tiel li komencis korespondi kun samideanoj nacie kaj internacie. Nakov kaj liaj amikoj fondis e-grupon Nova Vojo, kiu kunigis komencantojn kaj spertajn esperantistoj, kaj kiu organizis kursojn en lernejoj kaj okazigis renkontiĝojn. Kelkaj bulgaroj partoprenis en internaciaj esperantaj aranĝoj, sed pro politikaj kialoj Nakov ne rajtis eliri la landon. Li tamen partoprenis la naciajn Esperanto-eventojn, krom tiuj okazintaj dum lia restado en koncentrejoj aŭ malliberejoj. Kaj tio okazis plurfoje. Eble ne hazarde en faŝistaj prizonoj troviĝis aliaj esperantistoj, kiel la komunisto Asen Grigorov, aŭtoro interalie de lernolibroj kaj vortaroj. Poste en komunismaj koncentrejoj li ankaŭ kunestis kun esperantistoj. Kiel membro de Sennacieca Asocio Tutmonda, Bulgara Esperanto-Asocio, kunlaboranto de Bulgara Esperantisto ktp, li ĉiam estis fidela al la zamenhofa lingvo, kiu ankaŭ utilis en lia kontraŭaŭtoritata agado. Ekzemple, dank’al la esperanta medio li konatiĝis jam en la 1980-aj jaroj kun la verko 7000 tagoj en Siberio de Karlo Ŝtajner.

Sed la vivo de Nakov ankaŭ klarigeblas el anarkiista perspektivo, almenaŭ ekde 1937. Tiam en la fabriko Machinostroitel li kreis liberecanan grupon. Pro tia agado li estis enprizonigita en 1941, kune kun kvin aliaj kamaradoj. Kondamnita al 8 jaroj de malliberejo, li tamen liberiĝis en 1944. En tiu jaro li kreis du novajn liberecanajn grupojn, unu en Kosatcha kaj poste alian en Pernik, kiu nomiĝis Élisée Reclus. Ano de la liberecana junularo, Nakov rolis kiel loka gvidanto de la Bulgara Anarkiista Unuiĝo. Li daŭre aktivis klandestine dum la komunista regado, kiu malpermesis la liberecanan movadon. Pro tia persekutado en 1947 li deteniĝis denove kaj pasigis ses jarojn en koncentrejo Belene, kie li estis plurfoje punita pro malbona konduto. Nakov revenis malforta, malsana kaj malsata. En liaj vortoj: “Mi nur travivis danke al la interhelpo inter ni anarkiistoj, kiu ĉiam estis ne nur homa principo, sed bone organizita praktiko”.

Poste li daŭrigis sian politikaj agadon, restante konscia anarkiisto kaj esperantisto ĝis la fino de sia vivo. Anekdote, dufoje (decembro 1948 kaj marto 1974) oni forprenis lian kompletan korespondadon, inkluzive de esperantaj gazetoj, ktp.

Verŝajne la plej interesa parto de la libro estas la “dosiero de objekto 1218”, subskiribta de kolonelo de la ŝtata sekureco de Bulgario, kiu inkludas perlojn kiel la jenajn: “Nuntempe, la objekto ofte kunsidas kun la ĉefaj anarkiistoj por komenti pri eventoj, interŝanĝi beletron kaj helpi unu la alian” (…) “La sinteno de la objekto pri la popola povo estas kontraŭa”(…) “Li rigardas la mondajn eventojn per la prismo de liberpensulo, for de la dogmoj de moderna komunismo” (…) Nature la objekto estas modesta; li ne drinkas, ne fumas kaj estas laborema. Li havas bonan kulturan ĝeneralan kaj politikan, kaj estas membro de la esperanta asocio Nova Vojo de Pernik. Temas pri fanatika anarkiisto, kiu malferme deklaras ke nenio malebligas deturni lin de lia ideo kaj de liaj rilatoj kun anarkiistoj. Konklude, bazita sur lia malamika agado, mi sugestas ke li estu internigita kiel sociala danĝerulo”.

Javier Alcalde

Aleksander M. Nakov, The Dossier of Subject No. 1218, Edmonton, Black Cat Press, 2016, trad. Mariya Radeva.

Александър Наков, Досие на обект номер 1218, Sofio, ИК „Шрапнел“, [2006] 2009 ; Статии, sl, 2017.

Anarchism in Bulgaria
The autobiography of Aleksander Metodiev Nakov (1919-2018) is useful for learning about the Esperanto movement in Bulgaria, and also its relationship to Anarchism. In fact the best representative of this interconnection was Nakov himself, who was active during the period of the right wing dictatorial regime established before the second world war[1], and also during the subsequent communist dictatorship. Nakov dubbed the former Fascist and the latter Bolshevik. Born into a poor family in the village of Kosatĉa (Kovačevići) in the western part of the country, after finishing elementary school he started work as a peasant working the land. Later he moved to the mining town of Pernik getting a job in the Machinostroitel factory[2]. Walking down the main street of the town in the winter of 1936 when his attention was caught by an Esperanto teaching book in the window of a book seller. He was attracted to both the purpose of the language and its ease of learning, but even more so the possibility of following directly the revolutionary events in Spain, which could be read in Esperanto bulletins that reached Bulgaria.

Despite his ignorance of the Latin alphabet, he began to learn the language. He soon became acquainted with the young miner Boris Serginov, who tried to sell an Esperanto calendar from 1937. With him Nakov chatted for the first time in the international language. However, the most influential person at that time was Anka Pisarska, whom Nakov first met at a meeting of young Anarchists in Vitosha. She taught him the grammar which enabled him to start corresponding with fellow travellers nationally and internationally. Nakov and his friends founded the Esperanto group Nova Vojo (New Way), which connected beginners with experienced Esperantists, and organised courses in schools and hosted public meetings. Several Bulgarians took part in international Esperanto gatherings, but due to political restrictions Nakov was not allowed to leave the country. However, he participated in the national Esperanto events, in addition to those that took place during his stay in concentration camps or prisons. These internments happened several times. It is no coincidence that other Esperantists were found in fascist prisons, such as the communist Asen Grigorov, author of textbooks and dictionaries. Later in the concentration camps run by the communists he also meet up with Esperantists[3]. As a member of the Sennacieca Asocio Tutmonda (World Anti-national Association), Bulgarian Esperanto Association, collaborator on the Bulgara Esperantisto (Bulgarian Esperantist) etc, he was always faithful to Zamenhof's language, which was also used in anti-authoritarian activities. For example, thanks to the Esperanto environment, he became acquainted as early as the 1980s with Karl Steiner's 7000 Days in Siberia.

But the life of Nakov also demonstrates the Anarchist perspective, starting in 1937. In the Machinostroitel factory he established a libertarian group. Because of this activity he was imprisoned in 1941 together with five other comrades. Sentenced to eight years in prison, however he was freed in 1944. In that year he created two new libertarian groups, one in Kosatcha and later another in Pernik, both named after Elisee Reclus[4]. A member of the Libertarian youth Nakov became a local leader of the Bulgarian Anarchist Union. He continued to act clandestinely during the Communist regime, because the authorities were actively suppressing the libertarian movement. Because of this persecution he was arrested again and spent six years in the concentration camp in Belene, where he was punished several times for bad behaviour. Nakov returned weak, unhealthy, and hungry, in his own words "I only survived thanks to mutual aid between us Anarchists, which is not only a human principle but a well organised practice". 

Later he continued his political activity, remaining a conscious anarchist and Esperantist until the end of his life. Anecdotally, twice (December 1948 and March 1974) his complete correspondence was taken away, including Esperanto newspapers, etc.

Perhaps the most interesting part of the book is the "dossier of object 1218", signed by a colonel of Bulgarian state security, which contains such pearls like the following "Presently the object often meets mainly with anarchists for comments on events, the exchange of litereature and to help one another" (…) "The attitude of the object toward popular power is oppositional" (...) "He looks at world events through the prism of a free thinker, away from the dogmas of modern communism" (…) "Naturally the object is modest, he does not drink, does not smoke, and is hardworking. He has a good culture generally and politically, and is a member of the Esperanto association New Way in Pernik. Is a fanatical Anarchist, and has openly declared that no prison will destroy his ideals nor his relationship with other Anarchists. In conclusion, based on his hostile activity I recommend that he be detained as a social danger".  

Javier Alcalde
Translated by Reddebrek

Aleksander M. Nakov, The Dossier of Subject No. 1218, Edmonton, Black Cat Press, 2016, trad. Mariya Radeva.

Александър Наков, Досие на обект номер 1218, Sofio, ИК „Шрапнел“, [2006] 2009 ; Статии, sl, 2017.

1: The Kingdom of Bulgaria spent much of the interwar years worried about workers and peasant revolts and initiated many purges, crackdowns and its own White Terror, imprisoning thousands of suspects and killing many militants of any even vaguely anti monarchy organisation, especially the anarchist movement and the Bulgarian Communist Party. While not explicitly Fascist, during WWII it sided with the Axis and came under increasing influence of Nazi Germany.
2: A company trading under the name of Machinostroitel still operates in Bulgaria, but if it is the same one then it appears to have moved out of Pernik.
3: For more details on the brutality of the Communist party of Bulgaria see Bulgaria the New Spain - The Communist Terror in Bulgaria
4: Famous French Anarchist and geographer 

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