Colombian anarchist and local legend Biófilo Panclasta is one of the few historical anarchists who still manages to surprise us. His enigma is expressed nowhere better than in his brilliant nom de guerre: Biófilo – lover of life, Panclasta – destroyer of all. In exile and in between prison bids, he traveled over the world in search of adventures, revolutions, and encounters with fellow minds. He staged dramatic interruptions of church services, made a formal proposal to an international anarchist conference for the simultaneous assassination of various heads of state and church, joined in strikes, struggles, and uprisings, was jailed hundreds of times, and escaped the old folks’ home to climb the clocktower and stop the hands of time from moving.
This collection, translated and compiled by Ritmomaquia, includes nearly all of the available material, including the anecdotes, tales, and legends that followed him, and anything he happened to write along his way.
Influenced by Nietzsche and egoist ideas, his writings are similar in tone to Novatore and Arrigoni, but more tragic than either. He was an adventurer, a traveler, a Bohemian, distinct from any tendency; his politics was his life, and both were as contradictory as his name, which means lover of life, destroyer of everything.
This book includes almost all of his writings, translated from the Spanish. He traveled over many parts of the world; spread his ideas; staged dramatic interruptions of church services; made a formal proposal to an international anarchist conference for the simultaneous assassination of various heads of state and church; joined in strikes, struggles, and uprisings; was jailed hundreds of times, and tried to stop the hands of time from moving. There's a lot over the span of years and places, but the important thing is he lived in a time of liberal national liberation uprisings and of fights against US imperialism in Latin America, as well as under the dictatorship of Juan Vicente Gomez in Venezuela, which is when he was imprisoned (buried alive) for seven years.
Panclasta is not well known, certainly among English-speaking audiences. There are a couple of weird accounts of him in English (the tiny Wikipedia entry, or the pseudo-history of him in Politics is Not a Banana #2). Aside from having the coolest anarchist name ever, Panclasta is worth reading because he does not fit in with what anarchism is supposed to be, what its history is supposed to be like, and whatever limited notions we have of Latin American anarchism specifically. He's a real odd ball. He makes an effective counterpoint to both ideological leftist anarchism and to ideological egoist anarchism. But really he just lived a very interesting life, and this is a story (or collection of stories) about that life.