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Tuesday, 3 August 2010

St Imier

St Imier station, with Sonvillier a couple of km further up the valley. I was so excited when I found this place on the map, and I got a train out to see the place which had inspired both Bakunin and Kropotkin, and which was such a central place in the development of anarchism.

The big yellow building is the very Town Hall where the Jura Federation was set up by, amongst others, Bakunin, Guillaume & Schwitzgeubel (a local lad). It's also the place where the 'International' was continued after Marx's attempt to take it over - anarchists and others met here to continue it without him, and this "St.Imier International" continued meeting for a few years until economic conditions got bad locally.

Incidentally, Marx's rival version of the International, to be joined only by those who would do what he told them to do, died a much quicker death after he had its office moved to New York (in order to prevent anarchist-minded delegates, or any other voices really, having any influence over it). ["If you won't let me do it my way, I will destroy it!"]

Me in the sun. I didn't know the town hall or the place below even existed, but helpful plaques filled me in and made my day.

This is L'Espace Noir, an anarchist social centre set up in an old watchmakers' factory - these were the same watchmakers who, after Bakunin had passed on, showed Kropotkin how workers could make anarchism a reality. They were the hub of the fledgling anarchist movement at the end of the 19th century, and Kropotkin had to be persuaded not to settle down and join them, making watches too.

My picture of it from outside (before I plucked up courage to go in).

Plaque outside explaining how "l'espace noir" was set up in the same libertarian spirit as the Jura watchmakers.

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