As part of the continuing interest in Ricardo Flores Magón, Ediciones Antorcha has reprinted his 1916-1917 plays, “Tierra y libertad” and “Verdugos y víctimas,” and a collection of his “Discursos” delivered between 1910 and 1917 at intervals when the Anarchist leader was not in American prisons. Both collections originally were published in 1924-1925.
Flores Magón was a talented man. The question arises with regard to his dramas of whether, had he not spent nearly all of his efforts on revolutionary journalism and propaganda, he might have been able to develop some real skill in the theater. To this we do not have the answer because in his two theatrical ventures he consciously tailored his efforts to an audience of semi-literate workers. Hence, though here and there a telling phrase emerges, the two are melodramas of the simplest kind. The plots are crude and character development is absent. Rich capitalists, hypocritical clergy, and cruel and cowardly militarists are pitted against faultless, self-sacrificing workers. The latter are finally crushed, fighting heroically, or due to excessive naiveté resulting from believing the word of a bourgeois government that paid lip service to their hardships. The anarchist spirit, however, survives.
As for Flores Magón’s speeches, they withstand the ravages of time rather better. Because he had some verbal facility, they probably had a sizable impact on comparatively small audiences. Numerous eloquent passages counteract the bitterness of the black-and-white argument. A notable psychological deficiency, common to violent revolutionists, in both speeches and plays is the never-questioned assumption that all capitalists are hypocrites and that all workers are virtuous. On a different note, there has long been a slight uncertainty as to just when Flores Magón became an anarchist. A 1925 reminiscence by Enrique Flores Magón reprinted in the “Discursos” makes it plain that it was at least by 1901.