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Anarchism in the Falkland Islands

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There are historically few or no known instances of modern anarchism in the Falkland Islands, a fact mostly owed to the low population and lack of active political milieu in the region. However, the islands have frequently been in an effectively stateless situation, with some outbreaks of anti-authoritarian conflict, and several Argentinian and British anarchists (and individuals strongly influenced by anarchist thought) have been linked to the islands, through their involvement in the sovereignty dispute.

The Falkland Islands (Spanish: Islas Malvinas), an archipelago in the South Atlantic Ocean on the Patagonian Shelf, is part of the South American continent and consists of almost eight hundred islands of various sizes.

History[edit]

It is possible that prior to European discovery, the Falklands were briefly inhabited by the indigenous peoples of the nearby Tierra del Fuego, the Fuegians.[1][2] These peoples were stateless and nomadic hunter-gatherers.[3] Many contemporary anthropologists and adherents of anarcho-primitivism hold that, for most of the period before recorded history, this type of human society was without a separate class of established authority or formal political institutions (primitive communism, according to some primitivists and anarcho-communists).[4] The first to use the term "anarchy" to mean something other than chaos was Louis-Armand, Baron de Lahontan, in his Nouveaux voyages dans l'Amérique septentrionale (1703), where he described the indigenous American society, which had no state, laws, prisons, priests or private property, as being in anarchy.[5]

By the time of the first European sighting of the archipelago in either the 1500s or 1600s, the Falklands were uninhabited and unclaimed,[6] terra nullius. During the late 18th century, numerous states attempted to establish colonies on the islands, such as France, Spain, and Britain. After the British left its settlement Port Egmont in 1774, in the wake of the Falklands Crisis of 1770 and economic pressure from the American Revolutionary War, British seal hunters and American whalers remained active on the islands without any involvement of British administration. In 1780, the Spanish burned Port Egmont, which had been occupied by sealers. The Spanish - the last governmental authority on the islands - likewise left Puerto Soledad in 1811, leaving behind gauchos herding feral cattle.[7] The gaucho has often been upheld by Brazilian and Argentinian anarchists as an example of libertarian ideals.[8]

During the 19th century, the newly independent Argentina (at first through its predecessor the United Provinces) and Britain entered a long-lasting conflict over the islands' ownership, with numerous attempts to establish a permanent presence. In 1831, after the merchant Luis Vernet seized several American ships, the USS Lexington raided Port Louis, causing some damages, imprisoning seven settlers as pirates, and declaring the settlement res nullius ("free from any power").[9] After that, Major Esteban Mestivier was commissioned by the Buenos Aires government to set up a penal colony on the islands in 1832. Mestivier, a harsh disciplinarian, was killed in a mutiny (put down by Lt. Col. José María Pinedo) against his rule after only a month.[10]

Soon afterwards, the British reasserted their sovereignty, expelling the Argentinians. In March 1833 the HMS Beagle (with Charles Darwin among the passengers) arrived in what was left of Vernet's settlement on its second voyage. Captain Robert FitzRoy, upon leaving, expressed his concern for the settlement with its lack of regular authority in a virtually lawless group of islands.[11]

At roughly the same time as the Beagle arrived, so did Matthew Brisbane, the merchant Vernet's deputy. Restarting Vernet's cattle enterprise Birsbane recommenced the practice of paying employees in promissory notes only. Due to Vernet's reduced status the promissory notes were devalued, which meant that the employees received fewer goods for their wages in the company stores.[12] After several months of freedom following the Lexington raid, this accentuated dissatisfaction with the leadership of the settlement.

On August 26, 1833, under the leadership of Antonio Rivero, a group of Creoles and Charrúa natives launched an uprising against the senior members of Vernet's settlement. Rivero's co-conspirators were two gauchos, Juan Brasido and José María Luna, and five Charrúas, Manuel González, Luciano Flores, Felipe Salazar, Pascual Latorre and Manuel Godoy. Armed with muskets obtained from American sealers, pistols, and assorted melee weaponry they killed five men; Captain Brisbane, Juan Simón (Capitaz, foreman of the gauchos), William Dickson (Brisbane's predecessor), Antonio Vehingar (alias Wagner) and Ventura Pasos.[13] The rest of the population of that time, mainly women and children (among them Antonina Roxa), fled to the nearby Hog Island, until rescued by the sealer Hopeful in October 1833, who then passed information about the murders to the British squadron at Rio de Janeiro.

In January 1834, the British ship HMS Challenger arrived in the islands bringing with it Lt Henry Smith, who set out to capture the murderers, who had fled into the interior. The gang was sent for trial in London but under the British legal system could not be tried, because the Crown Court lacked jurisdiction over the Falkland Islands at the time of the attack. Rivero and his companions were deported to Rio de Janeiro. Subsequently, Rivero has acquired the status of a folk hero in Argentina, where he is portrayed as leading a rebellion against British rule.[14] While Rivero and the others have been critiqued by some as common criminals rather than patriots, other authors - such as Pablo Hernández, Horacio Chitarroni, José María Rosa and Fermín Chávez - have portrayed them in a positive light not because of patriotic motivations but rather in the context of early militant class struggle.[15]

The HMS Beagle and FitzRoy returned in 1834, on a second visit. Charles Darwin, again a passenger, commented:

After the possession of these miserable islands had been contested by France, Spain, and England, they were left uninhabited. The government of Buenos Aires then sold them to a private individual, but likewise used them, as old Spain had done before, for a penal settlement. England claimed her right and seized them. The Englishman who was left in charge of the flag was consequently murdered. A British officer was next sent, unsupported by any power: and when we arrived, we found him in charge of a population, of which rather more than half were runaway rebels and murderers.

— The Voyage of the Beagle

The Falklands remained a possession of Britain from that point on. During the next century the islands were largely calm (with the exception of brief conflict during the First and Second World Wars), with new settlements founded, settlers arriving, and the economy growing. The sovereignty dispute with Argentina, which claims the islands as Las Malvinas, remained largely dormant (with the occasional diplomatic outburst) until after the Second World War when the conflict again reheated.

Falklands War and post-war era[edit]

On 2 April 1982, in the wake of violent anti-government riots in Buenos Aires, the Argentinian military junta launched the Falklands War, invading the archipelago after a long series of events leading up to the events. The local authorities in Port Stanley surrendered, marking the beginning of an military occupation. A few days after, the British government dispatched a naval task force to engage the enemy before making an amphibious assault on the islands. The conflict lasted 74 days and ended with the Argentine surrender on 14 June 1982, returning the islands to British control. 649 Argentine military personnel, 255 British military personnel and three Falkland Islanders died during the hostilities.

In Britain, anarchists were involved in the subsequent anti-war and anti-Thatcher movement, especially the prominent anarcho-punk band Crass, formed in 1977.[citation needed] The war had broken out and ended within the span of time it took to create the band's fourth LP, Christ - The Album, which caused Crass to question their approach to making records. As a group whose primary purpose was political commentary, they felt overtaken and redundant by world events:

The speed with which the Falklands War was played out and the devastation that Thatcher was creating both at home and abroad, forced us to respond far faster than we had ever needed to before. Christ – The Album had taken so long to produce that some of the songs in it, songs that warned of the imminence of riots and war, had become almost redundant. Toxteth, Bristol, Brixton and the Falklands were ablaze by the time that we released. We felt embarrassed by our slowness, humbled by our inadequacy.[16]

In the wake of the war, Crass made several political releases relating to the Falklands War, including the album Yes Sir, I Will and the singles "Sheep Farming in the Falklands" and "How Does it Feel to be the Mother of 1,000 Dead?". The latter, intended as a statement directed at Thatcher,[citation needed] led to questions in parliament and a request for prosecution for obscenity. The song also reached the top of Cherry Red Records's independent chart. The band anonymously produced 20,000 copies of a flexi-disc with a live recording of "Sheep Farming...", copies of which were randomly inserted into the sleeves of other records by sympathetic workers at the Rough Trade Records distribution warehouse to spread their views to those who might not otherwise hear them.[17][18]

The anarcho-punks of Crass also caused "Thatchergate", by releasing a recording spliced together to look like a telephone conversation, using excerpts from speeches by Thatcher and US President Ronald Reagan. Among others things, Thatcher appears to imply during the tape that the HMS Sheffield was deliberately sacrificed in order to escalate the Falklands War. When first appearing in 1983, the recording was initially considered by the US State Department to have been propaganda produced by the Soviet KGB, while documents released in 2014 show that the Secret Intelligence Service (MI6) considered Argentine intelligence services as a possible suspect.[19]

The Argentine writer and poet Jorge Luis Borges (1899–1986), one of the country's most prominent authors, turned against the military regime after initially supporting it. He condemned the invasion of 1982, and commented positively on its outcome afterwards in regards to political effects. In 1985 Borges wrote a short poem about the Falklands War called "Juan López y John Ward", about two fictional soldiers (one from each side), who died in the Falklands, in which he refers to "islands that were too famous".[20] He also said about the war: "The Falklands thing was a fight between two bald men over a comb."[21] Borges, a political conservative and anti-government critic, labelled himself a Spencerian anarchist, in the style of his father.[22][23]

Jorge Abelardo Ramos (1921–1994) was an Argentinian politician, historian, writer, Ambassador to Mexico between 1989 and 1992, and founder of the Socialist Party of the National Left. During the Falklands War, Ramos supported the position of the military government, playing a prominent role in analysing the conflict and disseminating propaganda about the supposed legitimacy of the invasion. He visited the islands amid the brief occupation. During his youth, Ramos had been significantly influenced by the ideology of the Spanish writer Rafael Barrett, as well as that of his own anarchist father and grandfather.[24]

An overseas territory of the United Kingdom since 1985, the colony[25] has some degree of autonomy in regards to internal administration, but the political scene is minimal[clarification needed] as no political parties exist, nor do any alternative or extra-parliamentary movements.

See also[edit]


Other articles of the topic Anarchism : Bitmarkets, Namecoin, Anarcho-Nihilism, NeuCoin, Buddhist anarchism, List of anarchist children's literature, Saitama (cryptocurrency)
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  • Anarchism in Argentina
  • Anarchism in the United Kingdom
  • History of the Falkland Islands

References[edit]

  1. G. Hattersley-Smith (June 1983). "Fuegian Indians in the Falkland Islands". Polar Record. Cambridge University Press. 21 (135): 605–606. doi:10.1017/S003224740002204X. Retrieved 2 September 2014.
  2. Buckland, Paul C.; Edwards, Kevin J. (1998). "Palaeoecological Evidence for Possible Pre-European Settlement in the Falkland Islands". Journal of Archaeological Science. Elsevier. 25 (6): 599–602. doi:10.1006/jasc.1998.0297. Retrieved 28 September 2013.
  3. Gusinde, Martin (1966). Nordwind—Südwind. Mythen und Märchen der Feuerlandindianer (in German). Kassel: E. Röth.CS1 maint: Unrecognized language (link) Search this book on Amazon.com Logo.png
  4. Graham, Robert (2005). "Preface". Anarchism: a Documentary History of Libertarian Ideas: from Anarchy to Anarchism. Montréal: Black Rose Books. pp. xi–xiv. ISBN 1-55164-250-6. Retrieved 2 September 2014. Search this book on Amazon.com Logo.png
  5. Dictionary of the History of Ideas – ANARCHISM
  6. Carafano, James Jay (2005). Britain and the Americas: Culture, Politics, and History. Santa Barbara: ABC-CLIO. p. 367. ISBN 978-1-85109-431-8. |access-date= requires |url= (help) Search this book on Amazon.com Logo.png
  7. Gibran, Daniel (1998). The Falklands War: Britain Versus the Past in the South Atlantic. Jefferson: McFarland & Company, Inc. ISBN 978-0-7864-0406-3. |access-date= requires |url= (help) Search this book on Amazon.com Logo.png
  8. Ana Lía Rey; (2004). "Periodismo y cultura anarquista en la Argentina de comienzos de siglo XX: Alberto Ghiraldo en La protesta y Martin Fierro". Hipótesis y Discuciones (in español) (24). ISSN 1514-5581.
  9. Abbot, Chris (2012). 21 Speeches That Shaped Our World: The People And Ideas That Changed The Way We Think. London: Ebury Publishing. ISBN 9781846042720. |access-date= requires |url= (help) Search this book on Amazon.com Logo.png
  10. Strange, Ian J. (1972). The Falkland Islands. Newton Abbot: David and Charles. p. 59. ISBN 978-0-8117-1961-2. |access-date= requires |url= (help) Search this book on Amazon.com Logo.png
  11. Cawkell, Mary (2001). The History of the Falkland Islands. Anthony Nelson Ltd. ISBN 978-0-904614-55-8. |access-date= requires |url= (help) Search this book on Amazon.com Logo.png
  12. "A Brief History of the Falkland Islands, Part 3 - Louis Vernet: The Great Entrepreneur". falklands.info. Retrieved 2 September 2014.
  13. Thomas Helsby. "Thomas Helsby's Account of the Port Louis Murders". Captain Onslow's report of the visit of HMS Clio to Port Louis in January 1833; Narrative by Port Louis settler Thomas Helsby. Wikisource. Retrieved 2010-09-04.
  14. Destéfani, Laurio H. (1982). The Malvinas, the South Georgias and the South Sandwich Islands, the conflict with Britain. Buenos Aires: Edipress. pp. 91–92. ISBN 950-01-6904-5. |access-date= requires |url= (help) Search this book on Amazon.com Logo.png
  15. Pigna, Felipe. "El gaucho Rivero" (in Spanish). Retrieved 2 September 2014.CS1 maint: Unrecognized language (link)
  16. Rimbaud, P; "...In Which Crass Voluntarily Blow Their Own", sleeve note essay included with Best Before 1984 album
  17. Berger, George (2006). The Story of Crass. London: Omnibus Press. ISBN 978-0-85712-012-0. |access-date= requires |url= (help) Search this book on Amazon.com Logo.png
  18. Lynskey, Dorian (14 June 2011). "Indie takes on the Falklands war". www.theguardian.com. The Guardian. Retrieved 2 September 2014.
  19. "Bogus tape of Thatcher-Reagan spat baffled spies". The Japan Times. 3 January 2014. Retrieved 2 September 2014.
  20. Borges, Jorge Luis (2005). Los Conjurados (in Spanish). Buenos Aires: Emece Editores. ISBN 9500427095. |access-date= requires |url= (help)CS1 maint: Unrecognized language (link) Search this book on Amazon.com Logo.png
  21. "Falkland Islands: Imperial pride". www.theguardian.com. The Guardian. 19 February 2010. Retrieved 2 September 2014.
  22. Yudin, Florence (1997). Nightglow: Borges' Poetics of Blindness. City: Universidad Pontificia de Salamanca. p. 31. ISBN 84-7299-385-X. Search this book on Amazon.com Logo.png
  23. Bell-Villada, Gene (1981). Borges and His Fiction. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press. p. 13. ISBN 0-8078-1458-X. Search this book on Amazon.com Logo.png
  24. Ramos, Jorge Abelardo (2010). Los conjurados (in Spanish). Córdoba: Enzo Alberto Regali, Ediciones del Corredor Austral y Ferreyra Editor. |access-date= requires |url= (help)CS1 maint: Unrecognized language (link) Search this book on Amazon.com Logo.png
  25. Nomenclature of the Falkland Islands (Malvinas)

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