Mateo Morral

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MATEO MORRAL

ON the anniversary of Morral's attempt on the Spanish King's life at the wedding procession, our French comrade, Charles Malato, thus characterized the man and the deed:

"Among the revolutionists, martyred for their ideals, Mateo Morral, in the course of the year 1906, gained a worthy place beside Zheliabov, Sophie Perovskaia and Bresci.

Like these he aimed high, at the very top.

Convinced that the propaganda, to be productive of results, must be carried on by means of revolutionary acts, in any form except the irrational, he set an example by flinging down his own life in exchange for the life of Alfonso XIII., the personification of the Spanish monarchy and the Inquisition.

Mateo Morral, son of a wealthy cloth manufacturer in the little industrial town of Sabadell, knew well the misery of the workers, and his noble soul revolted at the thought that the riches of the privileged — to whom he belonged — were accumulated through the sufferings of the workingmen. Highly educated, commanding several languages, possessed of indefatigable energy and courage (of which he gave ample proof), he left the ranks of the bourgeoisie, whose egoism exasperated him, to engage in the struggle for the liberation of the proletariat.

Assuredly, he had no illusions; he had seen his father's employees at close range; he knew their moral shortcomings and intellectual narrowness, the unavoidable consequences of wage-slavery. Ignorance, rudeness, brutality or abject slavishness, almost total lack of initiative and of general, clear and practical ideas,—these picture, even to-day, the mental state of the masses, who oscillate between the activity of the advanced, who lead toward a better Future, and the opposing reactionary forces that strive to hold them in the bondage of the Past.

Modern workers, who are but cannon food and beasts of burden, like the slaves of antiquity, cannot be noble, pure, irreproachable and of good parts in a society that keeps them in subjection.

Yet, although now they are degraded and miserable, their lives could be made beautiful and happy, were the conditions different. Freedom and affluence for all! If it be true, as most of the Neo-Malthusians maintain, that the production of to-day provides for all, is it not an additional reason why the producers of wealth should be the first to enjoy it, while the idlers—if any survive—shall be left to shift for themselves?

Morral was the descendant of a republican family, that, in bourgeois fashion, educated its daughters in convents, and enriched itself by fleecing the workingmen. The young man perceived that republicanism would alter nothing but the form, leaving all the evils unmitigated. He realized the necessity of a complete social transformation through the spirit of equality; a regeneration of society that would promote the free development of the individual; a new life of light and harmony, based on free co-operation and the common ownership of the means of production.

Morral's Anarchism was fundamentally different from that decadent Individualism, which, thoroughly permeated by the reactionary spirit, would introduce new repressions, would fain annihilate the revolutionary Anarchists, and lead to the re-establishment of an aristocracy,—a socalled spiritual aristocracy.

Morral, who was neither lost in the mists of metaphysics, nor sunk in drawing-room Anarchism, sought for practical means to realize the social reformation. He perceived that, above all, the revolution must have an economic character if it is not to betray again the interests of the masses in favor of new rulers. He could not fail to understand that organization and direct action on the part of the workers were necessary conditions of the economic revolution.

He devoted himself entirely to the education and organization of the masses. He spared neither effort nor money in the work of organization and enlightenment; he often contributed to the Spanish Anarchist papers translations from the Voix du Peuple, to acquaint the workingmen with practical action and to urge them to join the international labor movement. He preached the prevention of conception and free motherhood—a new and bold language in Spain: he believed that the disinherited should avoid breeding unfortunate beings, whom they could not bring up properly, and who subsequently became the easy prey of the factory, the barracks and the brothel. Yet he never maintained, as the bourgeois Neo-Malthusians did, that there should be a cessation of revolutionary activity, and that from the simple numerical diminution higher wages would result, leaving existing institutions intact.

He believed neither in parliamentarism nor in politics —otherwise, could he have been an Anarchist? Yet he did not commit the error, into which so many comrades have fallen, who, confounding with the parliamentary politics of a bourgeois regime all phenomena of a political nature, deny the effect of the latter in the economical, moral and social domains. For example, there were numerous Anarchists, who, during the Russo-Japanese conflict, contented themselves with platonic and theoretical declamations against the war, as such, without foreseeing the immense impulse which the defeat of the Tsar's forces must give to the Russian Revolution.

The habit of soaring in the clouds of speculative philosophy produced this state of mind, which could but lead to impotence.

Morral himself, who was well versed in the economic and political situation in Spain, thought that the death of a young monarch, without issue, would cause turmoil and confusion, during which a social revolution might break out in Catalonia. Doubtless, such revolution would have exhibited quite incompatible elements, but this is the fate of all great and profound popular upheavals.

It would be insipid to recount all the sophisms, falsely called humane, which are quoted by the bourgeois—and even by republicans—against regicide. The republicans who glorify Harmodius, Aristogeiton, Brutus, Wilhelm Tell; who, in their history, enlarge upon the beheading of Charles Stuart and Louis Capet, the execution of Maximilian in the tombs of Queretaro, the eighteen attempts on Louis-Philippe, the infernal machine of Fieschi, Orsini's attempt on Napoleon III.; who celebrated in verse —at a distance, to be sure—the announced assassination of Napoleon by Victor Hugo; they, the republicans, should moderate the vehemence of their official indignation against regicides.

As to Alfonso XIII., personally, it may be remembered that this young man, brought up by a fanatical mother, by the worthy father Montana and by Canovas del Castillo, never displayed a ray of intelligence or a touch of human feeling. Every year of his reign was marked by killings and executions. "He was so young," pleaded the outspoken monarchists, as well as the monarchized republicans. I beg to differ; when the shooting of peaceful strikers at Alcala del Valle took place, followed by terrible torturing of workingmen and long prison terms, Alfonso XIII. was almost eighteen years old,—an age at which the sons of the poor are ruthlessly punished by the law, whenever they commit the slightest offense. He was found mature enough to rule eighteen million people, and to lord over them as he pleased. Juan Codina was but sixteen years old when he was tortured and shot for the attempt at Lico's Theatre, of which he was perfectly innocent, while the one responsible, Salvador French, was arrested later.

Morral did not long weigh in the balance the life of Alfonso XIIL, the representative of the hostile class of monarchy, Inquisition, exploitation and slaughter, as against the great end to be attained.

Since 1903 Morral had been the friend of Francisco Ferrer, director of the Modern School of Barcelona.

This came about in the simplest manner. In his own

family the young Anarchist could observe the results of a clerical education. Two of his sisters had been brought up in a convent. Not wishing that his third sister, then but seven years old, should become a mere doll, capable only of muttering paternosters and wearing jewelry, he took little Adelina to the Modern School and instructed the director to educate her as modestly as a workingman's daughter, developing the youthful mind. Hereafter he came frequently to visit the child.

Ferrer, passionately devoted to the rational education of the children of Barcelona, and himself living most frugally until suddenly enriched by an unexpected bequest of a former pupil, was a man who understood and valued Morral. A bookstore was added to the Modern School, which published exclusively pedagogical and philosophical works. Reclus, Letourneau, Naquet, Stakelberg, were translated for publication. Morral, a genuine polyglot, offered his services for these translations; he was gladly accepted. Soon after he assumed the actual management of the publishing department, while Ferrer bent all his energies to founding rational schools throughout Catalonia.

Morral, who was naturally reserved, had imparted to his friend nothing about the project that was ripening in his mind of the deed that might have ushered in the social revolution. Under the plea of fatigue he suddenly disappeared from the school.

The rest is known. Arriving in Madrid shortly before the commencement of the festivities attending the royal wedding, Morral forthwith proceeded to carry out his project. Wishing to strike the royal couple only—or, at most, the uninteresting troop of court sycophants—he originally chose the cathedral where the wedding ceremony was to be performed, as the place for action.

Under the guise of a German journalist—he knew German perfectly—he tried to procure a card of admission to the cathedral; in this he failed, however: the police were fearful of an attempt. Evidently the authorities felt that the official merry-making was a brazen defiance in view of the public misery, famine, shootings, tortures and executions. Then Morral determined to throw his bomb at the royal carriage on its return to the castle. He hired a room in a hotel on Calle Mayor, through which street the procession was to pass.

At noon, on the 3ist of May, Alfonso XIII. and the practical princess Ena von Battenberg, who had just changed her religion to espouse a throne and a civil list, came up in triumph. They were lustily cheered by the idiotic rabble of monarchists and the good populo, that eternal supporter of its hangmen; then there came a veritable shower of flowers amid the frenzied shouts: "Viva el rey! Viva la reyna!"

Suddenly a crash resounded through the air, drowning the noise of the jubilations. Morral, too, flung a bouquet, but it held a bomb. In falling, the bomb struck an electric wire strung for the illumination of the street. This caused the bomb to deflect a few centimeters. Were it not for this mishap, the King of Spain would have been blown to pieces, and the throne vacant.

The apotheosis of the royal pair turned into indescribable confusion. Twenty dead and about one hundred wounded sprawled on the pavement; Alfonso XIII. and his young spouse, who were unhurt,—the priests hastened to declare it a miracle of Providence—fled to the palace, forced to abandon their carriage, the horses having been slain. Fortunately, there was not a single victim belonging to the working class. With the exception of the little daughter of a marchioness—obviously not responsible for the crimes of her caste—all the dead were enemies of the people: noblemen, court-toadies, officers and soldiers. True, the soldiers are for the most part sons of toilers, but that does not hinder them from shooting down workingmen at the behest of their masters.

Thanks to his self-possession, Morral succeeded in leaving the hotel during the general hubbub. He went directly to the office of the republican paper, El Motin, and inquired for the publisher, Jose Nakens.

Nakens, a typical old Jacobin and irreconcilable anticlericalist, is an honorable man. He has, however, always antagonized the Anarchists, whose broad views of life disconcerted him. Had he known of the attempt beforehand, he would have doubtlessly discountenanced and opposed it. Nevertheless, he now thought it his duty to save his political antagonist, who thus confided in him. He took Morral to the house of a friend, a republican by the name of Mata, who was ignorant of the identity of his guest.

The next day Morral departed in disguise. But an alarm had been sent throughout the country. At Torrgon, where Morral stopped for breakfast, the innkeeper grew suspicious of him, denounced him to the constable Vega and rushed to inform the magistrate. To serve one's king and at the same time obtain a reward—what good fortune!

Vega questioned Morral, who, unabashed, volunteered to go with him to the telegraph office. On the way the Anarchist suddenly drew a revolver and resolutely shot the policeman through the head.

Morral could have easily escaped. He was a hundred yards from the crowd at the inn, and his revolver contained five bullets. But a bitter feeling filled his heart. Was he to claim more victims, and this time not toadies and royal footmen, but ignorant, deluded peasants, who lent a helping hand to the authorities? And he, who did not hesitate to fling a bomb at the king, queen and the festive official mob, at this juncture preferred to die rather than to slay those for whom he had struggled.

A shot through the heart ended his life.

Death saved Morral from the torture of the Spanish inquisitors. But they wreaked their vengeance on Ferrer, though he had had nothing to do with the attempt. He was arrested, treated as a convicted murderer and robbed of the fortune which he was using for the liberation of the intellect. Amidst the triumphant outcries of the Jesuits, Ferrer's educational work was annihilated.

Nevertheless, the days of the Spanish monarchy are numbered. The people, in their revolutionary awakening, will sweep it off the earth. They will not again set up a republic of politicians and generals, as was done thirty-three years ago. The workers, conscious of their strength, will have their will, and they will know how to maintain their victories."