Jesús González Malo
Jesús González Malo (Santander, Spain, 1903–New York, 1965). President of the Santander Dock Workers Union and editor of the leftist newspaper La Región in Santander, Spain, before the Spanish Civil War, during which he fought as a militiaman. After short stays in France and Cuba, he arrived in New York in 1940. In New York, he worked as a welder. He was an organic leader of the Sociedades Hispanas Confederadas or SHC, and España Libre staff writer and editor. He was determined to denounce Spanish fascism in España Libre, and to circulate antifascist literature to Spain.
González Malo stressed that the priority of España Libre was to foster community rather than finding fault, and each contribution was important for the periodical’s mission. He personally contacted people from exile, labor, and North and South American networks and requested written submissions from them. In his eulogy of González Malo, Joaquim Maurín Julià noted, “Thanks to Malo, all the Spanish democrats, whether republicans, socialists, anarcho-syndicalists, Catholics or liberals, were included in SHC.” Other obituaries stressed his determined inclusiveness.
In one of his last and most forceful articles, entitled “Con el mismo espíritu” (With the same spirit), the editor clarified España Libre’s reformist approach to anarchism after the Spanish Civil War. “We cannot affirm our libertarian spirit more clearly,” he wrote. “We are staunch supporters of freedom, who fight tyranny in all its forms and manifestations, without hesitation or delay. Such expressions as ‘just us’ or ‘all or nothing,’ are long gone in our discourse because they deny the libertarian spirit because they invoke the theory and practice of exclusionism.”
To avoid the Spanish regime’s censorship, González Malo established a clandestine communication mechanism, contacting sailors in merchant ships arriving in New York, Boston, and Baltimore, and he found sailors, maritime workers, and volunteers willing to smuggle reports on civil rights infringements out of Spain, or, on the other hand, to smuggle copies of España Libre into the country.
Like other writers for España Libre, Jesús González Malo elaborated on the several reasons for claiming that fascism existed, not only in Spain but in the world. He argued that the anarchists and socialists failed to unite, communists and Russia served as justification for a fascist Spain, and the liberal democracies allowed it to happen. In doing so, González Malo claimed that world democracies “se han fascistizado” (fascist-ized themselves).
The title of one of González Malo’s books, La incorporación de las masas (The incorporation of the masses, 1952), referenced José Ortega y Gasset’s La rebelión de las masas (The Rebellion of the Masses, 1932). In the context of prerevolutionary Spain, Ortega y Gasset warned against the pernicious effect of the people’s revolutionary impulse. González Malo criticized Ortega y Gasset for such “elitist paternalism” which “grotesquely” reduced people to a violent, amorphous, unitary, and homogenous entity. For González Malo, the elites, politicians, and union leaders too often assumed that workers needed tutelage, and portrayed them as disorganized, passive, and ingenuous, underestimating the common people’s ability to organize independently and transform society. Considering the people’s historical role in bettering society, González Malo refuted the elite’s dismissal of workers as inconsequential. Although common people might not have the opportunity to make the fateful decisions of political leaders, they were not simply victims of society; they were a force for progress.
La incorporación de las masas lays out a blueprint for an ideal, emancipated organic society based on local syndicates that become the fundamental social and economic organs in the form of cooperatives of production, unions, schools, and cultural organizations
“La labor a manos llenas” de Jesús González Malo en la resistencia antifranquista desde EE.UU.” fronterad, Semana del 19 al 25 de diciembre 2015.
Feu, Correspondencia personal y política de un anarcosindicalista exiliado: Jesús González Malo (1943-1965). Santander: Colección Cuatro Estaciones. Universidad de Cantabria, 2016 (Editor, transcriber, and writer of critical introduction).