Guillamón and the Nebula

We are always learning more about the history of anarchism, but always certain there is much more to know. Even in a double issue we don’t have space to print everything that enlightens and intrigues us. We have recently put up two translated articles by Agustín Guillamón which look at affinity groups.

The first looks at the connections of Ángel Carballeira Rego and the group around the underground anarchist paper Alerta! in discussion with Carballeira Rego’s son:

The notion of a “nebula” model binding together these affinity groups is something unearthed by Ángel Carballeira Mombrió in his response to my questionnaire, something that we need to digest and circulate, because it offers an apt and highly original anarchist organizational model that is often misconstrued and which differs entirely from the syndicalist model and is entirely opposed to the Leninist and/or militaristic model. 

We need to bear it in mind that this “nebula” model, viewed from the outside, was wrapped in a dense cloud that screened off what was happening inside it, not to mention who was on the inside and what he was doing. Viewed from the inside, that nebula represented a sealed off world of tried and tested militants, a sea of opportunities and a network of social and personal relationships that encouraged the emergence of affinity groups that came together in order to tackle specific tasks (from bomb-making, planning actions or strikes, setting up a cooperative, supporting a rationalist school or ateneo through to the setting up, writing, printing and distribution of a newspaper or leaflet and the widest spectrum of activities which, once mounted, entailed the break-up of that affinity group).’ (‘The Affinity Group That Published the Underground Anarchist Paper, Alerta!’ (

Its companion piece is ‘Distinguishing Between Defence Groups, Affinity Groups and Action Groups’ (

The characteristic features of the affinity groups were that they were transitory, self-financing, decentralized, autonomous and federalist. Clandestine circumstance as well as their own inclinations meant that these groups came together to mount some specific action or given task, after which they would break up following a brief existence. Some of the same individuals might meet up again in other affinity groups with an eye to some specific undertaking. This ongoing volatility and clandestinity was a product of the requisite adaptation to unrelenting police crackdowns as well as anarchist suspicion of any organizational structure, something that makes historical investigation of them very tricky. Even though there was the odd longer-lived affinity group, they were the exceptions. Normally they were made up of no less than four and no more than twenty comrades, so much so that once they grew to more than twenty members they would split into two separate groups.’

We warmly encourage you to read both.