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KEENE, Judith. " ’The word makes the man’: A Catalan Anarchist Autodidact in the Australian Bush"

Monday 4 December 2006, by ps

Australian Journal of Politics & History 47 (Sep. 2001) #3: 311-329.

"This paper examines the interplay between the life and ideas of a Catalan anarchist and autodidact, Salvador Torrents, who migrated to Australia in 1915. Until his death in 1951, Torrents, from his isolated farm in North Queensland, contributed regular commentaries and articles in libertarian newspapers in Spain, France and the United States. With the exception of the years of the Spanish civil war, Torrents remained outside mainstream Australian labour politics. Like many non-English speaking immigrants, a lack of the language was an obstacle to participation. As well, as an anarchist, Torrents considered political parties and electoral politics a waste of time in achieving social and political change. Instead he propounded, and practised, the transformative powers of self-education and the revolutionary role of the autodidact in fomenting radical change. His ideas had been forged in the turbulent politics of Catalonia in the first decades of the century. In Australia he continued to apply the same analysis in what he perceived as the similar context which Southern European immigrants confronted in North Queensland. Although invisible on the Australian Left, Torrents functioned as a left wing intellectual, contributing to a particular public discourse, which took place in a space that was separated from the mainstream Australian Left by language and different radical traditions. "