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The Permanent Revolution

Baltasar Porcel

"In the course of the incessant movement and renovation of the generations, the old folks disappear, and with them disappears the ignorance made flesh, the thoughts and worries hardened like muscles which were flexible and elastic in their youth, but become bone-hard in old age; and then come the young, innocent, virgin intelligences, and they receive as a fresh impression the doctrine of the equality and fraternity of man."

Anselmo Lorenzo, The Militant Proletariat, 1901


I was born in 1896 in Igualada, on Retir Street, which everybody called the Aigüeres. My father died when I was only six, and when I heard my friends talk about their fathers, I became sad, for to have had a father must have been very important. I still remember some things, like seeing him coming down the road, or like one time in the courtyard of a house when he made me drink straight from a bucket, and I thought that was the coolest and best water in the world.
       When he was already deathly sick he asked me if I wanted to live without him around. I cried. Then he told me to go to the kitchen and fetch him a plate of orange sections with sugar sprinkled on them that Mother had fixed. When he died, I came home with my aunt, who held me by the hand, squeezing it. Everybody was crying, including me, even though what I really wanted to do was go out and play. I went to the funeral, which was sort of amusing to me, and I wore a new black smock. Afterward, my brother spoke to me often about my father's death: a day laborer worked to death, bent over under a load of shoe leather—hauling all two hundred forty pounds of it on his back.
       I don't think my father had any political ideas. One of his brothers, who was the rich relative in the family, told us, "I am your uncle and the doors of my house are open to all of you." If you went there he would give you advice. He was a good man, but he always told me that I should leave those new ideas alone, that it was all just a joke, that he had had an anarchist working for him who was a scab. "Ideas are stupid things and what's worthwhile is money." He told me how he had got his start: at the time of the Carlist Wars, he would go out to the front lines where the soldiers had been shooting and he would collect the empty shell casings and sell them to the junk man. And you agreed with him, because in those days being rich was like being right. Altogether there were about twenty cousins in the family, and every time one of them got married, our uncle would give them a wooden carving of the Last Supper. When it was my turn, I refused to go see him, in spite of my mother's advice. If I didn't get married in the Church, why did I have to go to his house so that he could palm that junky piece of wood off on me, which didn't cost him much anyway…

PORCEL, Baltasar.The Permanent Revolution. [La revolta permanent] Seattle: Recollection Books, 1999
Traduït per John L. Getman
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