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Anarchism in North China (c. 1970s)

Tuesday 7 September 2004

In the village where I was born there is a monument in a square erected by the trades unions where fifteen Anarchists were executed as common criminals engaged in a conspiracy against the Empress in her last terror-stricken days. They were buried in a common grave which became a place of honour to the common people, who preserved it carefully. Our May Day marches used to culminate in this spot, where we sang, "Those who fought against injustice our victory will honour!"

I was banished from the village by the police and later I had to change my identity and could not return. I came back after an absence of thirty-five years on a visit.

As it was May the First, the first place I visited was "our square" - both for sentimental reasons and because I knew if any of our old friends were alive that is where they would be. Some old people still put flowers on the monument. But of all our friends I met only one old lady, who had been the beautiful girl who ran the "Anarchist Newspaper of the North" from 1910 to 1930. Despite all her many cares and the fact of marriage to a man who did not share her ideals or her courage, she was still with us, but, she told me "all the comrades are dead". These are words one often hears in Northern China, from the lips of old people. There, in that town where once a thousand youngsters marched behind our banner, only two or three elderly people remained to testify of our past. They met occasionally in company and backed each other up in talk like old gossips; or they met privately in tea sessions to talk of the old days. Red China had passed them by.

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