A short biography of Guy Bourgeois, French anarchist and anti-colonialist who fought with the resistance during World War 2.
Born 1926, died September 2004
I met Guy Bourgeois at 2 conferences of the Union des Travailleurs Communistes Libertaires in the 1980s in France, where he and others came as observers from the Tribune Anarchiste Communiste. This veteran militant passed away in September 2004.
In 1943, as a high school student of 17 at Macon, he was the principal animator of the Resistance network of the Forces Unies de la Jeunesse – United Youth Forces (FUJ). The chief work of this network was to convey Czechoslovak and Yugoslav deserters from the Wehrmacht from Macon station to Bourg-en-Bresse station, where a relay waited for them to convey them to the Maquis in the L’Ain department.
The FUJ also received all the underground press at Macon station, sent from Lyon and hidden in vegetable crates. It pasted up anti-Nazi and anti-Milice (the Vichy secret police) leaflets, and collected arms and ration cards for the Maquis. Unfortunately the FUJ was denounced and dismantled. Guy barely escaped the Maiice and had to hide, before joining the Maquis in the Saone et Loire department.
When Liberation came he discovered a weekly paper which was re-appearing after five years of suspension: Le Libertaire. Soon he joined the Federation Anarchiste (FA) which was springing to life, and helped set up the Macon group. He was one of those who with Georges Fontenis was unhappy with the structure and ideology of the FA, and he supported its transformation into the Federation Communiste Libertaire (FCL) in 1953.
When the 1954 insurrection broke out in Algeria , the militants of the FCL were in the first ranks of the anti-colonialist struggle. Posters, leaflets and agitational articles in Le Libertaire led to raids, seizure of propaganda and imprisonment for several FCL militants, including Fontenis. The FCL group of Macon had had good links with Algerian workers from before the insurrection, notably with their campaign against the awful conditions of immigrant workers in filthy housing. On the building sites, the worker militants of the MTLD, (Movement for the Triumph of Democratic Liberties, independentist party led by Messali Hadj heavily supported among Algerian immigrants with a strong working class base) distributed the local FCL bulletin, whilst the FCL distributed the weekly L’Algerie Libre.
After the insurrection, Hadj’s organisation progressively disappeared as the FLN (National Liberation Front) grew, and the FCL “critically supported it”! Thanks to the network developed as a result of his activity as departmental secretary of La Libre Pensee (free thinkers organisation) Guy Bourgeois, was able to set up an underground organisation in Rhones-Alpes and southern Burgundy. As well as the secret printing of leaflets, it organised an ‘underground railway’ into Switzerland (thanks to people like the late Andre Boesiger) for deserters and Algerian militants. Peasants of the region, freethinkers and Communists, hid many fugitives on their farms, disobeying the ‘neutrality’ line of the Party. One was expelled from the Party because of this. After the Algerian war, Guy participated in the Vietnam Committees.
Guy left the FCL in 1955 in profound disagreement with the electoral adventure of the FCL in the legislative elections. He was not the only one, and several groups,-the Kronstadt group of Paris, Macon, Grenoble, Maison-Alfort) left at the same time. Preferring not to join the new FA which was being set up, they launched a new libertarian communist organisation, the Groupes Anarchistes d’Action Revolutionnaire(GAAR) which later joined the new FA as a tendency, under the name of the Union des Groupes Anarchistes Communistes (UGAC).
The UGAC’s principal militants were Guy and Paul Zorkine (Yugoslav anarchist-communist of long standing). The right to tendency in the FA was questioned at the Congress of 1964, and the UGAC broke with it (some groups – Strasbourg and Grenoble - preferring to stay within the FA).
In a letter to the international anarchist movement in 1966, the UGAC put forward the following positions:
1. That the Third World was “the essential terrain of revolutionary struggles”
2. Western revolutionaries must support them “unconditionally”.
3. The anarchist communist movement could not and should not assume a leadership of this movement, and was one of several tendencies of the revolutionary movement.
From these erroneous positions, the UGAC established several fronts with Maoist and Pablost-Trotskyist groups. Each of these fronts was a failure, each of the partners o the UGAC preferring political hegemony to a sincere political front. The UGAC gradually disappeared, leaving only its magazine, Tribune Anarchiste Communiste, which had been set up in 1968 and continued until its disappearance in the 1990s. By then the TAC group had been a mere handful of militants for a long time.
A bon viveur with a warm personality, Guy was a lover of jazz and ran several programmes over the local Macon radio station.
By Nick Heath
Edited by libcom.org
Originally from an article by Guillaume Davranche in "Alternative Libertaire", June 2005.