Ricardo Mella

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Ricardo Mella
Ricardo Mella.jpg
Born(1861-04-23)April 23, 1861
DiedAugust 7, 1925(1925-08-07) (aged 64)
Vigo
NationalitySpanish
Occupationwriter, pedagogue, surveyor

Ricardo Mella Cea (April 13, 1861 – August 7, 1925) was one of the first writers, intellectuals and anarchist activists of the late 19th and early 20th centuries in Spain.[1] He was characterized as an erudite in various subjects and versed in languages, mastering French, English and Italian. Federica Montseny said, "He is considered the deepest, most penetrating and most lucid of the Spanish anarchist thinkers". He was the father of feminist activist Urania Mella and socialist politician Ricardo Mella Serrano.

Biography[edit]

Photo of his speech published in print called "Evolution and Revolution"

Ricardo Mella was born in Gamboa, Vigo, in the province of Pontevedra (Galicia), where he went to primary school. He was the son of Dolores Cea Fernández and José Mella Buján, a hat crafter and a supporter of federal republicanism which influenced his eldest son, Ricardo, on respect for the republican and democratic ideals and admiration for Francisco Pi y Margall. When he was 16, he joined the Federal Democratic Republican Party of Spain, becoming its secretary, and emphasized in its advocacy of federalist republican status and the political and administrative autonomy of Galicia.

When he was young, he worked in a maritime agency in his native Vigo. By this time, Vigo was experiencing a considerable transformation and expansion as a port city and commercial centre, but the poor living conditions in Galicia still required workers to emigrate. During this time, he began his journalistic career working with the bi-weekly newspaper La Verdad, a representative of republicanism, and supporter of the claims of the Galician proletariat, denouncing the exploitation of workers in Galicia.

During this time he began his journalistic profession by collaborating with the bi-weekly periodical La Verdad. Representing the most extreme sector of Republicanism, he wrote frequently on the struggle of the Galician proletariat and denounced what he felt to be despotic policies in the Galician government. The sharp and controversial nature of his writings brought him into conflict with the Marquis José Elduayen, a canovista politician and local representative of the central conservative power under Prime Minister Práxedes Mateo Sagasta. Mella brought to light an alleged embezzlement in the Bank of Spain, of which the Marquis had been director of. In April 1881 Mella was sentenced by the Provincial Court to 4 years and 3 months of exile and a fine of 625 pesatas. The sentence was later commuted to 3 years and 7 months and the fine was lowered to 200 pesatas.

In 1881 Mella founded La Propaganda in Vigo, a federalist publication with a focus on labor issues that lasted until 1885.

In Exile[edit]

In 1882 he moved to Madrid as part of his imposed exile and there renewed contact with Juan Serrano. He married Serrano's daughter, Esparanza Serrano Rivera, with whom he had 12 children. In 1884 he collaborated with the monthly publication Acracia and the Barcelona Newspaper El Productor to translate Bakunin's God and State into Spanish.[2]

On the advice of his father-in-law Mella studied topography and moved to Andalusia to work. In Sevillehe founded several newspapers, among them La Solidaridad in 1888. He attended the 1st and 2nd Socialist Competitions (Reus 1885, Barcelona 1889), entering 8 essays, all of which won prizes: "El problema de la emigración en Galicia"; "Diferencias entre el comunismo y el colectivismo"; "La anarquía: su pasado, su presente y su porvenir"; "Breves apuntes sobre las pasiones humanas"; "La nueva utopía (novela imaginaria)"; "El colectivismo: sus fundamentos científicos"; "Organización, agitación, revolución y El crimen de Chicago".

Return to Galicia[edit]

In 1895 Mella returned to Vigo. He remained there a short time, going to Pontevedra in 1897 to work on the construction of a railroad. There he was in close contact with the editors of La Unión Republicana and wrote for El Progresso in Madrid and El Corsario in La Coruna. He denounced the execution of anarchists in Montjuic and began his task of spreading anarchism among the Galician peasantry. At the same time he collaborated with the periodicals La Revista Blanca, La Anarquía y La Idea Libre in Madrid, El Despertar in New York, and the magazines Ciencia Social in Barcelona and Buenos Aires, La Questione Sociale in Buenos Aires, and L'Humanite Nouvelle in Paris. In 1896 he published the book Lombroso y los anarquistas (Barcelona, 1896), in which he criticizes some of Lombroso's theories. Around the same time he published Los sucesos de Jerez (Barcelona, 1893), La barbarie gubernamental en España (Brooklyn, 1897), La ley del número (Vigo, 1899), La cooperación libre y los sistemas de comunidad, Del amor, modo de acción y finalidad social (Barcelona, 1900), Táctica socialista (Madrid, 1900) y La coacción moral (1901).

Legacy[edit]

Mella wrote more than thirty essays throughout his life. Some of his writings received international awards and were translated into Italian, Dutch, Portuguese, English, and French. He collaborated with numerous periodicals in many countries.

Key anarcho-syndicalist beliefs of the CNT in its early years came from Mella's writings. Foremost among these were 3 basic precepts:

  1. All men are in need of physical and mental development, indefinite in degree and form.
  2. All men have the right to freely satisfy this need for development.
  3. All men can satisfy this need through voluntary cooperation or community.

Works[edit]

Articles and essays[edit]

  • El problema de la emigración en Galicia. Monografía.
  • Diferencias entre el comunismo y el colectivismo. Monografía.
  • La reacción en la revolución. Artículo publicado en la revista Acracia de Barcelona.
  • La Anarquía no admite adjetivos publicado en La Solidaridad.
  • La Anarquía: origen progreso, evoluciones, definiciones e importancia actual y futura de éste principio social.
  • Breves apuntes sobre las pasiones humanas.
  • La nueva utopía.
  • El colectivismo.
  • Organización, agitación y revolución.
  • El crimen de Chicago. Reseña histórica.
  • La ley del número. Los dos primeros capítulos de este ensayo sobre la ficción democrática fueron publicados en el número 1 de la revista Ciencia Social de Barcelona, correspondiente a octubre de 1895, bajo el título Las mayorías. La primera edición del texto en su totalidad fue impresa en 1899 en la Imprenta Cerdeira y Fariña, de Vigo. Posteriormente, una versión con algunas modificaciones hechas por Mella fue publicada en un tomo titulado Cuestiones Sociales, donde se recopilaban también otros textos del mismo autor.[3]
  • A los campesinos.
  • En defensa de la anarquía.
  • Doctrina y combate.

Books[edit]

  • Lombroso y los anarquistas Edicions Xerais. ISBN 84-8302-398-9.
  • Plumazos. Reunión de artículos.
  • Ideario con prólogo de José Prat.

Translations[edit]

References[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ El Pueblo Gallego, 1925/08/11 (in Spanish)
  2. ^ "Relación de algunos diarios obreros hasta 1939 (en catalán)".
  3. ^ Nota bibliográfica incluida en la edición de 1946 de La ley del número, publicada por la editorial Tierra y Libertad en Francia, págs. 3 y 4.

Bibliography[edit]

  • José Álvarez (1976) La ideología política del anarquismo español, 1868-1910. Madrid: Siglo XX.

See also[edit]

External links[edit]