There are those whose lives are testimonies to anarchism. Marc Tomsin’s was one such life. We share below a translation of an entry in the Dictionnaire des anarchistes dedicated to him, a letter of remembrance by Raoul Vaneigem, and links to two interviews with him, in french.
We want to thank the not bored collective for sharing their translations with us.
Marc Émile Tomsin
By Hugues Lenoir(1)
Born on 15 June 1950 in Paris (XXth arrondissement), died on 8 June 2021 in Crete (Greece); coordinator [and web administrator] of the Comité de solidarité avec les peuples du Chiapas en lutte (CSPCL), CGT(2) militant, proofreader.
He lived in Paris (XIXth arrondissement) until 1974, then in Poitiers from the fall of 1974 to the summer of 1976, in Toulouse until the spring of 1977 and in Barcelona until the fall of 1979, when he returned to Paris. He was the son of Jacques Tomsin, born in Paris (20 September 1922 – 9 July 1970), and Claudine Labadie, born on 9 October 1926 in Bayonne. His father was a teacher of classical literature at a secondary school until 1965, when he became a teaching assistant at the University of Poitiers. He participated in a libertarian movement after the war and remained an anarchist at heart, belonging to SNES and then SNESup,(3) and generally voting for PSU(4) candidates. His mother was a nurse at the Public Assistance Hospital in Paris, was on the Left politically and had libertarian sympathies during the demonstrations of May 1968.
From 1993 on, Marc Tomsin lived with Eva Ruschmann, a German national from Saarland, born on 13 September 1963 in Neunkirchen, a translator and later a proofreader, a member of the Proofreaders’ Union since 1993.
Marc pursued his secondary education at the lycée Voltaire in Paris (majoring in philosophy, 1969). In 1974, he enrolled in the Philosophy Department of the University of Paris, from which he was expelled following an active boycott of examinations during the summer of 1976, which took place in the context of a practical questioning of the university and its role in society. After reenrolling at the University of Toulouse in 1976, he finally obtained a Bachelor’s Degree in philosophy.
At the lycée Voltaire, in the fall of 1967, he undertook his first political engagements, which were influenced by the Provos (Amsterdam, 1966), the Comité Vietnam national (CVN), and the Comités d’action lycéens (1968). He joined the Jeunesse anarchiste communiste (JAC) in January 1968 and participated actively in the May-June 1968 movement (assemblies, demonstrations, riots), often in the company of Guil Teitler, a companion from Voltaire, and Madeleine Mallet (daughter of Serge Mallet, the founder of the PSU). Raoul Vaneigem’s Traité de savoir-vivre à l’usage des jeunes generations(5) was major influence on Marc.
Between the fall of 1968 and 1971, he participated in the Comité d’action place des Fêtes, coming up with a concept of self-management founded on assemblies and total horizontality (no leaders or administrators). When the short-lived JAC came to an end in 1969, he joined the Informations correspondance ouvrières (ICO) network. He became friends with Christian Lagant (Noir et Rouge), a proofreader whose critical anarchism was also a powerful influence. At the time, Marc worked as a warehouse clerk for the NMPP(6) (1971-1972) and as a delivery driver for Le Monde in 1973, in the company of Germinal Clemente, a courier, with whom he started a conspiratorial friendship that later blossomed in Barcelona in 1977.
The destruction of the Place des Fêtes neighborhood and the end of the ICO (1973) caused Marc to leave for Poitiers, then Toulouse, all the while participating in the production of the Parisian journal La Lanterne noire (1974-1977, during which time he first started using the pseudonym Bélial) and the IRL (revue libertaire lyonnaise). In the fall of 1976 he met Maria Mombiola, who, in Toulouse, was drawing attention to the experiments of the Aragon collectives [of the 1930s]. The paths of Germinal and Maria drew Marc to Barcelona and the Journées libertaires internationales (July 1977), where he forged an unbreakable friendship with Diego Camacho (aka Abel Paz). In Barcelona, along with Quim Sirera and Santi Soler (ex-MIL),(7) he participated in the Etcetera collective and engaged in long discussions with Xavier Garriga Paituvi (also ex-MIL).
Upon his return to Paris in the fall of 1979, he was initiated into proofreading by Georges Rubel and joined the CGT proofreaders’ union. He worked for three years in labor-related print shops, at the Encyclopædia Universalis, and then for the daily press (L’Humanité, 1987-1999, and Le Monde, 1999-2006). He was a member of the Union Committee – the annually elected leadership of the Proofreaders’ Union – for seven years, between 1992 and 2001; he was in charge of international solidarity and [job] placement (he was Secretary of Placement in 2001).
In 1985, along with Angèle Soyaux – whom he knew from the ICO back in 1970 – he founded éditions Ludd, which, until its dissolution in 1998, published texts by Kraus, Panizza, Wedekind, Dagerman and Vaneigem.(8)
Ties to Mexico led Marc to participate in the foundation of the Comité de solidarité avec les peuples du Chiapas en lutte (CSPCL) in January 1995. A constructive agreement and solid friendship developed in the collective between Marc and Mexican members Raúl Ornelas Bernal and Jorge Hernandez. In 1996, Marc participated in the European Meeting for Humanity and Against Neo-liberalism, held in Berlin in May, and the Intercontinental Meeting in Chiapas (July). Ten trips to Mexico between 1996 and 2006 consolidated his solidarity with the Zapatista villages in Chiapas. He conducted frequent interventions in France and Belgium concerning the situations in Mexico (Chiapas and Oaxaca). In 2007, in Ménilmontant, he founded éditions Rue des Cascades,(9) whose “Les livres de la jungle” collection was dedicated to the indigenous peoples of Mexico. In 1997, Marianne Palmiéri made a 28-minute-long documentary about Marc’s libertarian journey titled Anarchiste (G.H. Films).
Upon moving to Greece, he settled in the Exarchia neighborhood [in Athens] around 2017. He died in Crete on 8 June 2021 following a serious accident.
Articles for La Lanterne noire: “De la grève sauvage à l’autogestion généralisée,”10 #1, July 1974; “Charles Fourier et les détours de l’utopie,” # 4, December 1975; and “Efficacité et stratégie . . . à la Lanterne!” (letter declaring his break with the group), #8, April 1977.
Spanish and French translations of the interview Die Unbeugsamen von der Spree (Ralf Reinders, Fritz Teufel, Gerald Klöpper and Ronald Fritzsch, all of whom were participants in the June 2d Movement), 11 published simultaneously in Barcelona by Ajo blanco and in Paris by Les Temps modernes, # 396-397, July-August 1979.
Articles for Cantonade (the bulletin of the CGT Union of Proofreaders): “Stig Dagerman, un escritor anarquista,” published in 1997 by Etcetera, in Barcelona, as an appendix to “Nuestra necesidad de consuelo es insaciable” (reprinted in 2007 by Pepitas de calabaza, in Logroño, Spain).
Response to an inquiry by Chiapas, “¿Cómo ve Europa a los zapatistas?” Chiapas # 4, June 1997, UNAM,12 Mexico; in French in Les Temps maudits, # 1, June 1997, Paris.
Articles in Le Monde libertaire: “L’expérience zapatiste du soulèvement des montagnes,” and “Par les sentiers de la création et de la rébellion,” hors-série # 21, JulyAugust 2002 ; “Les barricades ferment les rues et ouvrent le chemin,” hors-série # 31, December 2006 – January 2007; and “Le début d’un combat pour l’autonomie individuelle et collective,” hors-série # 34, May-June 2008.
1 From the Dictionnaire des anarchistes. First posted: 13 April 2014; most recent update: 10 June 2021. https://maitron.fr/spip.php?article155092. Translated by NOT BORED! 12 June 2021. All footnotes and [bracketed remarks] by the translator.
2 The Confédération Générale du Travail (General Confederation of Labor).
3 The Syndicat national des enseignement de second degré (National Union of Secondary Education) and the Syndicat national de l’enseignement superior (National Union of Higher Education), respectively.
4 The Parti Socialiste Unifié (Unified Socialist Party).
5 For Vaneigem’s statement about Tomsin’s death: http://www.notbored.org/RV-tomsin.pdf
6 The Nouvelles Messageries de la press parisienne (New Distribution Company of the Parisian Press).
7 The Movimiento Ibérico de Liberación (Iberian Liberation Movement), a Catalan separatist group active between 1971 and 1973, based in Barcelona, Spain, and Toulouse, France.
8 Karl Kraus, Oskar Panizza, Frank Wedekind, Stig Dagerman and Raoul Vaneigem.
9 Website: https://www.rue-des livres.com/editeurs/633/rue_des_cascades.html/
10 Title of a work by Raoul Vaneigem that was published in 1974.
11 A violent far-left organization active in West Berlin between 1972 and 1980.
12 The Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (Autonomous National Univeristy of Mexico).
(translation by the not bored collective)
On the death of Marc Tomsin
By Raoul Vaneigem(1)
Three days ago Marc sent me an enthusiastic message that announced that Cretan insurgents had retaken Rosa nera,(2) the legendary squat from which they had been evicted.(3) The next day, in a very boozy state of euphoria, he took a bad fall down some stairs and was killed immediately. (4) He was taken to the emergency room, where the doctors on hand could only confirm that he died suddenly. His departure was astonishing; despite himself, he left us filled with grief and abandoned to the resolution to put an end to this shitty world.
You never were, you never will be, one of the living dead who prolong the extended death throes of the old world. This is why I address myself to you in the name of the intense liveliness that never left you and that will continue to be present among us. Beneficiaries of the insurgents of the past, we lay down the foundations for a veritable international of the human being. Choosing the commitment to life is henceforth the only recourse to take against those who spread death over the entire world. That was the battle you chose to wage, and your radiant friendship was often much more effective than diatribes. Your erudition and vigilance as a publisher gave us rare and striking writings. The indefatigable person in charge of la Voie du Jaguar(5) prepared for the imminent arrival of the Zapatistas, who, carriers of a new world, will disembark in an old Europe that is committed to reducing them to slavery. Over all the festivities to come, the shadow of this absent person will fall.
Above all else, you were a friend, Marc. The intimate magic of elective affinities brought us together. Although I know that death picked you out in the midst of the elation of a once again-free Rosa Nera, I remain convinced nonetheless that no death is a happy one.
And yet we were having a conversation, so to speak, when that spark of enthusiasm touched you. I wish to see in this flash of lightning – which was funereal for us and joyous for you – an appeal to never despair of one’s own existence or of that of the world, no matter how run down they may seem.
You always had the art of being able to persuade without giving lessons.
Thank you, Marc.
1 Unpublished manuscript dated and distributed privately on 9 June 2021. Translated from the French by NOT BORED! on 10 June 2021. All footnotes by the translator.
2 “Black Rose” in Italian. In the words of an unsigned communiqué dated 15 September 2020, “Rosa Nera is an autonomous, anti-authoritarian political collective and since 2004, has squatted and given its name to the historical building that was formerly known as the ‘5th Army Division’, declaring it, for the first time in its history, a liberated space”: https://en.squat.net/2020/09/15/chania-rosa-nera-evicted-the-struggle-is-just-beginning/#more23083.
3 On 5 September 2020.
4 He was 71 years old.
5 Website: https://lavoiedujaguar.net. A search of the site brings up 58 articles that were either written by Vaneigem or that discuss his work.
(translation by the not bored collective)