by Rudolf Rocker
This work's reader will not only find a more or less comprehensive description of Francisco Ferrer's life and doings but at the same time a short historical overview about the libertarian movement in Spain and its atrocious and bloody persecution by clerical tyranny. We thought, such an overview is necessary as most of our Jewish readers are unfamiliar with those unbelievable struggles which happened and are still happening inside the most classical country of inquisition and the catholic church. There is no other country in which the fights between reactionary and progressive forces have become so atrocious as in Spain. The brutal murder of Francisco Ferrer, the martyr of libertarian education, has just been another single episode in the brutal history of clerical regimes in Spain. Followers of clerical reaction have always used the same weapons. Francisco Ferrer is just one among hundred and thousands of women and men who had been shot, beheaded or buried alive in the casemates of Montjuich or other strongholds of Bourbon monarchy.
The cruel and inhuman persecutions explain revolts, unrest and revolutionary terrorist acts by which Spain's history is fuller than any other European country. Clerical tyranny is responsible for all of that. It is the necessary and unstoppable consequence of a regime which does not hesitate to commit most atrocious and abhorrent crimes to detain any progressive development among the people in Spain.
Yet, all efforts by clerical reactionaries did not stop the modern libertarian movement. The number of victims was high, but the new idea was stronger than any persecution. With blood and tears, a new Spain was born, and Francisco Ferrer was one of its most noble representatives.
We thought to publish longer excerpts from "Escuela Moderna" and "Ekol Renove" at the end of this book. We needed to cancel this idea because of financial problems. But if this tiny approach, which we have published here, will find a small number of sympathisers, who promote the idea of free education of children, we are going to continue our work highly satisfied and will publish some of Ferrer's best treatise about the free education of youth, which he has published in newspapers and pedagogic journals, in another new book.
The question of education plays a crucial role in contemporary cultural activities by libertarian elements worldwide. In various countries, free schools have been founded, modelled after Barcelona's "Escuela Moderna" and the "International Alliance for Rational Education of Youth", which has been found by Francisco Ferrer himself, is doing its' best to support them. The foundation of such a school is very difficult, as everybody knows, and it can only happen at places with a strong libertarian movement, which is fundamental for such an enterprise.
But one can also commit oneself to the idea of free education of youth, if it seems to be impossible to promote the foundation of such a school. Enlightening writings can be published everywhere to support free thinking parents, so they may learn more about the ideas and methods of free upbringing and start to become confident with their child's peculiar psyche.
Literature for children is necessary to influence young hearts and minds. In many countries people adopted and successfully realized these plans. Francisco Ferrer's lifework does not only have importance for Spain but for all humanity. It is about the children's right of a free generation and a free future. Ferrer was the pioneer of a new renaissance and it is our job to continue his work - which he begun and paid with his blood.
London, August 1910