I was saddened to learn today of the sad passing of former Blantyre resident, Stuart Christie, who died on 15th August, aged 74.
A man certainly no stranger to controversy with a remarkable life story. He was a self confessed Scottish anarchist writer and publisher. I was friends on facebook with Stuart from around 2014 and found all his posts interesting, from the heart and left me in no doubt he had a good wit, was an intelligent soul and still as passionate about certain causes as he was as a young man.
When aged 18, Christie was arrested while carrying explosives to assassinate the Spanish caudillo, General Francisco Franco. He was later alleged to be a member of the Angry Brigade, but was acquitted of related charges.
He went on to found the Cienfuegos Press publishing house and in 2008 the online Anarchist Film Channel, which hosts films and documentaries with anarchist and libertarian socialist themes.
Christie was born in the Partick area of Glasgow in 1946 and raised in Blantyre by his mother and grandparents, becoming an anarchist at a young age. He ascribes this to his grandmother’s influence, “Basically, what she did was provide a moral barometer which married almost exactly with that of libertarian socialism and anarchism, and she provided the star which I followed.”
He joined the Anarchist Federation in Glasgow in 1962, at the age of 16 around the time he was living in Blantyre. Studying at Calder Street, he later became active in CND campaigns, attracted to the more militant approach of the Direct Action Committee and Committee of 100 and took part in the confrontational Faslane Naval Base CND demonstration on 14 February 1963, among others.
The Spanish Episode
On the last day of July 1964, an 18-year-old Christie departed London for Paris, where he picked up plastic explosives from the anarchist organisation Defensa Interior.
Before he left England, he was interviewed for a television programme with Malcolm Muggeridge, a known MI6 contact, and asked whether he felt the assassination of Franco would be right. He answered that it would; when the programme was broadcast after his arrest in Spain, these comments were edited out.
Christie hitchhiked into Spain and was arrested in Madrid on 11 August 1964 in possession of explosives, making headlines back home in Scotland. He faced a military trial and a possible execution sentence by garrote, but was instead sentenced to twenty years in prison. An accomplice, Fernando Carballo Blanco, was sentenced to thirty years’ imprisonment! He served three years in Carabanchel Prison, where he studied for A-Levels and was brought into contact with anarchist prisoners, including Miguel García García, Luis Andres Edo and Juan Busquets. Christie was later freed. The official reason given by Francoist Spain was that it was due to a plea from Christie’s mother.
After his release he continued his activism in the British anarchist movement, re-formed the Anarchist Black Cross and Black Flag with Albert Meltzer, was acquitted of involvement with the Angry Brigade, and started the publishing house Cienfuegos Press, which for a number of years he operated from the remote island of Sanday, Orkney, where he also edited and published a local Orcadian newspaper, The Free-Winged Eagle.
Christie has had various writing and journalistic jobs including as editor of an unauthorised British edition of Pravda and Argumenty i Fakty (Arguments and Facts International) in the late years of the Soviet Union and the early years of the Russian Federation.
n updated and single-volume version of his autobiography Granny Made Me an Anarchist was published in 2004 by Scribner. It had previously been published in three parts, the other titles being General Franco Made Me a Terrorist, and Edward Heath Made Me Angry. I’d highly recommend the books, which are peppered also with some Blantyre anecdotes.
Christie attracted criticism from some fellow anarchists for making a gestural protest vote against Labour and its war in Iraq by voting for George Galloway’s Respect – The Unity Coalition in the European Parliament elections that year. Christie has written articles attacking freemasonry.
He also wrote, with Meltzer, The Floodgates of Anarchy, which includes an early version of the political compass. His other books include Stefano Delle Chiaie: Portrait of a Black Terrorist, (on Italian neo-fascist terrorist Stefano Delle Chiaie, founder of Avanguardia Nazionale and member of P2 masonic lodge) and We, the Anarchists! A study of the Iberian Anarchist Federation (FAI) 1927-1937 (2000).
As a publisher Christie founded Cienfuegos Press in 1972 and edited the Cienfuegos Anarchist Review (c. 1977–1982), Refract Publications (1982), The Meltzer Press (1996) and Christiebooks/Christiebooks.com/Read ‘N’ Noir. He also edited The Hastings Trawler, a monthly magazine that ran from 2005 to 2006.
He posted frequently on social media and his website which had many interested followers. A strong character, he was always up for a debate and I can well imagine him up there “with the big man” getting into a heated debate about his new “change in circumstance”.
Rest in Peace Stuart Christie. You will be missed.