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Spain Betrayed (by the anarchists)

by Trotskyist Wednesday, Jan. 11, 2006 at 6:56 PM

For the first time in history Anarchists had the possibility of applying their theories on a grand scale. They enjoyed an unparalleled authority in Catalonia, the decisive and most industrialised region in Spain, and had the unconditional support of the overwhelming majority of the proletariat. The truth of a theory, like the efficacy of a remedy, is verified according to experience. What remains of the theories of Bakunin, Kropotkin and Malatesta [131] after the Spanish experience? For decades we Marxists have demonstrated the limited and petit-bourgeois character of Anarchist concepts.

"Spain Betrayed: How the Popular Front Opened the Gates to Franco" (M. Casanova)


from Revolutionary History

This account was first published over the pseudonym of M. Casanova as a pamphlet in the Le Tract collection (no.3) and in Quatrième Internationale, no.17, May 1939. It has since been twice republished, in pamphlet form in the Cahiers de la 4è Internationale (no.1) in February 1971 by the Ligue Communiste Révolutionaire, the French section of the United Secretariat of the Fourth International (Mandel/Maitan tendency), and in Les Cahiers du CERMTRI, no.41, June 1986. A rather free translation of the first few chapters appeared as The Popular Front’s Flight from Spain in New International, Volume 5 no.4 (whole number 31), April 1939, pp.101-4, which has been incorporated into this English version.

What follows has thus long been known to French readers, whilst being almost unknown in Britain. It belongs to a rich class of literature of the political memoirs of the Spanish Civil War written by insiders and participants. Some of these are of the nature of personal memoirs (for example El Campesino, Listen Comrades, London 1952, and Jésus Hernández, Yo Fuí un Ministro de Staline, Mexico 1953), whilst others concentrate almost exclusively upon political analysis (Grandizo Munis, Jalones de derrota: Promesa de victoria, Mexico 1948). Although it is intended to belong to the second of these categories, the author’s personal experiences are strongly drawn upon, and they are especially rich in detail about the workings of the economy of Republican Spain and the impact of the Popular Front upon the working class movement at grass roots level.

In spite of its artless style (the author admits that he is no writer), its loose structure (he admits its extempore character, p.101) and its heavy use of the Thucydidean speech form, it is in fact an analysis of considerable political sophistication. Its prophecies, that the Miaja-Casado plotters would receive no reward for their treachery (pp.199, 207), that Stalin would drop the policy of an alliance with the democratic imperialist powers and make another sharp turn (p.206), and that far from being a mere puppet of German imperialism, Franco would in the end bargain with Britain (p.214 n66), were not long in confirmation.

Because it was so overshadowed in length and scope by Felix Morrow’s Revolution and Counter-revolution in Spain (New York 1938), the book was little noticed among the groups of the non-Stalinist left. Most English readers will only have heard of it in Trotsky’s defence in The Class, the Party and the Leadership, a manuscript found unfinished on his desk when he was killed in 1940 (L. Trotsky, The Spanish Revolution 1931-39, New York 1973, pp.353-66). The magazine Que Faire? which attacked Casanova’s pamphlet was published in Paris from December 1934 by a group of former members of the French Communist Party, to which belonged the exiles Hippolyte Etchebehere and Kurt Landau, both of whom perished in Spain. Apart from Trotsky’s reply to this criticism, we do not know what his opinion was on the rest of Casanova’s pamphlet.

M. Casanova was the pseudonym of Mieczyslaw Bortenstein (1907-1942), who was born of a Polish Jewish family in Warsaw in September 1907 and joined the Young Communists in clandestinity at the age of 16. After his first arrest he emigrated, first of all to Belgium, and then to France, where he joined the Young Communists in 1927. Again arrested in August 1930, he was given another three year sentence for distributing illegal literature, and was expelled to Belgium. On his illegal return to France in 1932 he joined the adult Communist Party, only to be expelled in 1934, after which he joined the French Trotskyist organisation, the Ligue Communiste Internationaliste.

He departed for Spain in July 1936, serving first of all in the militia of the CNT and then in the offices of a factory manufacturing war material, whilst he assisted in the editorial work of La Voz Leninista, the journal of the Spanish Bolshevik-Leninists. After the arrest of Munis and Carlini described below he led the group until the end of the Civil War. Sherry Mangan’s account shows how he managed to get over into France in March 1939, where he tried to board a ship for Mexico at Marseilles. He was arrested and interned in a series of concentration camps, at Vernet (Ariège), “Les Milles”, and Drancy (Seine). On 19 August 1942 he was deported to Auschwitz, where he died.



Author’s Introduction

1. The Tragic Exodus

2. Why Barcelona Was Given Up Without A Fight

3. And the CNT?

4. The Republican Army and its Contradictions

5. The Ideological Factor in the Civil War

6. Can the Francoist Army be Disintegrated?

7. Once More on Technique

8. War Industry

9. What Happened on 19 July?

10. Was there a Proletarian Revolution in Spain?

11. The Events of May 1937

12. The Economy of the Popular Front

13. Food Supplies

14. Republican Order

15. The Withdrawal of the Volunteers

16. The Republican Ideology

17. The Workers Party of Marxist Unification (POUM)

18. The Anarchists of the Left and the ‘God-Seekers’ in the Light of the Spanish Experience

19. The Fourth International in the Spanish Revolution

20. The Miaja-Casado Pronunciamento

21. What else could have been done?


Author’s introduction

The proletariat has sustained a fresh defeat. Franco has seized Catalonia. After more than two and a half years of bloody conflict and of countless sacrifices on the part of the Spanish proletariat, all that has transpired is a new victory for reaction!

The extemporary and somewhat disorganised character of this work arises from the conditions it experienced at its birth. But if it lacks a systematic basis, it does express the most urgent needs of the time.

Comrades questioned me after my return to France. They asked me to explain the reasons for the catastrophe. Why was Barcelona given up without a fight? Why did the Catalan workers, who have demonstrated so much proof of their heroism, not hit back against Fascism? What was the attitude of the workers’ organisations at the critical moment, etc? What most amazed my questioners was the remarkable ease of the Fascist advance, and the fact that Franco had encountered no resistance from the proletariat that had accomplished 19 July. [1]

I have to explain what has just happened on the basis of my own experience. I have to report the facts. I will describe how strategic positions of crucial importance were abandoned without a fight, how defence plans were handed over to the enemy by a treacherous general staff, how the war industry was sabotaged and the economy disorganised, how the finest working class militants were murdered, and how Fascist spies were protected by the ‘Republican’ police, in order to explain how the revolutionary struggle of the proletariat against Fascism was betrayed and Spain was surrendered to Franco.

My analysis and the facts I shall describe all go back to one and the same theme: the criminal policy of the Popular Front. Only the workers’ revolution could have defeated Fascism. The whole policy of the Republican, Socialist, Communist and Anarchist leaders worked to destroy the revolutionary energy of the working class. “First win the war and make the revolution afterwards!” – this reactionary slogan was to kill the revolution only to lose the war afterwards.

Their hopes of winning therefore rested on the support of the so-called ‘democratic’ bourgeoisie of France and Britain. Everything was given up in the name of this policy. They went from capitulation to capitulation, all was betrayed, and the proletariat was demoralised. The POUM was crushed, and then the Anarchists. The bloody Barcelona days were provoked. All this finally resulted in the pro-Franco pronunciamento of Miaja and Casado [2] against the Communists, who had for the previous 30 months been preparing the way for their own destruction.

The uninterrupted succession of the crimes of the Popular Front led to Fascism.

The Republican, Socialist and Anarchist leaders have all had their share in the preparation of this catastrophe. But the real architects of this defeat and crime against the proletariat were undoubtedly the Stalinists. The authority they enjoyed as a result of the banner of the October Revolution, which they purloined and dragged in the mire, was placed at the service of a counter-revolutionary policy.

Yet it is difficult to imagine more favourable objective conditions for the proletarian revolution than those that existed in Spain.

The workers of the entire world must draw the lessons of this tragic experience. Neither Socialism nor Marxism failed in Spain, but those who so criminally betrayed it. Present day society is confronted by a tragic choice: to go backwards, that is to say to preserve capitalism, which can only evolve more and more barbarous forms, or to go forward towards Socialism. The desire to preserve bourgeois democracy is an idiotic illusion. Fascism or proletarian revolution! Such is the dilemma for the international working class.

The foremost duty of the revolutionary vanguard is to enlighten the workers about the real situation, to say what is.

The proletariat has gone from defeat to defeat, but nonetheless there is progress. In Germany in 1933 the working class, led by the Social Democrats and Communists, surrendered completely to Fascism without a fight. In Austria in 1934 the Viennese working class gave the first signal for resistance. The echo of this resistance was the glorious Asturian Commune in Spain. [3]

In spite of the criminal policy of the Popular Front, the proletariat managed to resist for nearly three years. The honour of being capable, not only of resisting, but of defeating Fascism and bringing about the triumph of the proletarian revolution, will fall to the workers of other lands. But to be victorious, the proletariat must forge the weapon of struggle – the revolutionary party and the revolutionary international, the Fourth International.

This work does not pretend to answer all the questions posed by this tragic experience, not even the most urgent. But if the writer of these lines has been able to throw some light and help in understanding the problems of the Spanish Civil War, he will feel that his labour has not been in vain.

M Casanova

Perpignan, 16 March 1939


1. 19 July 1936 was the day when the working class of Barcelona defeated General Goded’s attempt to take over the city by a military uprising.

2. General José Miaja Menant (1878-1958) and Colonel Segismundo Casado López (1893-1965) were Republican army generals who attempted a coup against the Republican government of Juan Negrín in order to end the Spanish Civil War through negotiations with Franco.

3. The Asturian Commune of October 1934 occurred when the miners of northern Spain, remembering the massacre of the Vienna workers by Dollfüss earlier in the year, rose against the growing influence of the reactionary CEDA on the government of Lerroux. They ran Asturias as a Soviet republic for a fortnight until smashed by Francisco Franco’s army.


1. The Tragic Exodus

How did you get out?

Well, it wasn’t so easy, not at all a de luxe trip.

In spite of his tiredness, his good humour has not deserted him. He tells us his exciting adventures, and adds:

The French frontier is guarded by gendarmes and by Senegalese troops who do not speak French. They do not let even French citizens get through if they don’t have a proper passport. As for the Spaniards, during certain hours of the day they let through the women, children and wounded, but the others are driven back without pity.

Our comrade, who accomplished the 100 kilometres between him and the frontier partly by hitch-hiking and partly on foot, added:

The sights I beheld on the roads leading to the frontier were horrible. This headlong exodus – of women, some of them pregnant – of children – of wounded, some of them with a leg amputated, trying in vain to stop a motor car – others hastily evacuated from hospitals in the areas threatened by the Fascist advance, this exodus on foot of exhausted men, women and children, was a sight to make us shiver! However, our feelings are not easily stirred after what we have seen in Spain.

Naturally, the departure was carried out differently for Messrs ministers, deputies, bureaucrats, leading functionaries, etc., who by Monday, 23 January (three days before Franco entered Barcelona) were already rolling along in luxurious cars toward Cerbère and Perthus. Observing along the road the two means of transportation, we had a concrete demonstration of the class divisions within the Popular Front: on the one hand the left bourgeoisie and the bourgeoisified bureaucrats travelled in fine limousines, or at the worst in small Citroëns; on the other the workers, peasants and rank and file militants walked on foot.

We saw tragic farewell scenes between those who left and those who, because of family obligations, were compelled to stay behind: moments of hesitation, of quick, precipitous decisions, all under the constant threat of the Fascist aviation, which constantly bombed and machine-gunned the road. Sometimes we had to stop suddenly, to hide in a ditch, to lie down on the road, to take cover in a nearby field, to spend many nights awake with no information about the conditions at the front or the speed of the Fascist advance, and all this took place in the midst of general panic, of unprecedented disorganisation and chaos. No newspaper came out after Tuesday [4], the radio stations were not working, and up to the last we had hoped for a stiff resistance to the Fascists. You will understand our disorientation.

Our comrade’s story, of which we give extracts, upset us and plunged us into gloom, moving us to tears at the fate of all these victims of ‘non-intervention’. The grief even affected our comrade, who experienced the tragedy of our Spanish brethren. He was embarrassed by his grief, and added forcefully:

No, I have not come back ‘disenchanted’ with Spain! Some may have come home ‘disenchanted’ – for example the Stalinist volunteers who left with false ideas, who did not understand the meaning of events, and who were kept in ignorance by the Communist leadership. But our international organisation and our Spanish section predicted well in advance the logical consequences of the criminal policy of the Popular Front which opened the gates to Franco.

The Spanish tragedy is one more crime to the account of the Stalinist bureaucracy, which crushed the revolutionary movement, assassinated the best militants, and by its whining policy toward so-called democratic capitalism, demoralised the heroic workers of this country. But this crime is also a lesson – dearly paid for, it is true – from which the workers of other countries will profit, the French workers to begin with.


4. Tuesday, 24 January, or two days before the fall of Barcelona. [Author’s note]


2. Why Barcelona Was Given Up Without A Fight

We must say that the French workers were surprised to learn of the taking of Barcelona after the military authorities had proclaimed resistance to the death.

I understand your surprise and I shared it. All of us, the ex-volunteers awaiting repatriation and all the militants too, were tragically shocked at the ease with which the Fascist advance moved toward Barcelona. True enough, we had no illusions and we took full account of the tragedy of the situation. But nevertheless we expected a desperate resistance in front of Barcelona and we cherished in our hearts the hope that heroic Barcelona would be a second Madrid. As long as a position has not been taken by the enemy, a revolutionary has no right to consider it as lost.

In an article, Can We Avoid The Debâcle?, written five days before the fall of Barcelona, which unfortunately did not get through to you, I put forward a plan of action to save Barcelona and the revolution. I put the opinions and slogans of the Spanish comrades more or less as follows:

Barcelona, can be saved. The province of Barcelona [5], the most industrialised region of Spain, with its industrial strongholds of Manresa, Sabadell and Tarasa, is not yet in the hands of the Fascists. It must not be. Barcelona must be fortified and transformed into an impregnable fortress. There is no lack of speculators and slackers to work on the fortifications in Barcelona. It is time they were made to swing some pickaxes! “Resist!” – this is the slogan of our Comrade Munis, spitefully charged with assassination and imprisoned for a year in the state prison of Carcel Modelo and now at Montjuich. Resist, as García Moreno resisted. [6] But our slogan, “Resist”, is different from Negrín’s. [7 In order to resist, the working class must raise its head, must regain confidence in itself, must create its committees for the defence of the revolution and its own organisations independent of the bourgeois state power, as it did on 19 July 1936 – but this time it must go further.

Such was the sort of spirit of our Spanish comrades some days before the fall of Barcelona.

True, the situation was critical. The Fascists were advancing by as much as 15 or 20 kilometres a day. Positions of the utmost strategic importance were systematically surrendered almost without a fight, such as the fortifications around Balaguer which took eight months to build, those at Segre, the important position of Las Borgas Blancas, whose conquest by the Fascists allowed them to march towards the sea and the encirclement of Tarragona and, at the eleventh hour, the chain of mountains around Igualada, whose conquest had already opened the road toward Barcelona.

We witnessed a repetition of the March catastrophe on the Aragon front, only on a still greater scale: betrayals by the high command, going over to the enemy with the defence plans, and even desertions to the Fascists of entire units of the carabineers. [8]

But Barcelona still remained. By the sea there were still the Garaf Hills, which could have been made a line of resistance. It is true that the main roads that lead to Barcelona, the one that comes from Villafranca de Penedès, and the other from Igualada, which join some 20 kilometres from Barcelona, cross a plain. But even in the event of a Fascist advance upon the town itself, there were still the mountains that surround the Catalan capital. Barcelona is encircled by Montjuich and Tibidabo. We could have fortified these hills and transformed them into a line of defence at the very gates of the city.

But they nevertheless say that Barcelona was indefensible from a strategic point of view?

That is a lie. Obviously it was easier to defend Barcelona in front of the chain of mountains near Igualada, or at the Garaf Hills than at the gates of the city itself. But it is more defensible than Madrid, for example. Neither the undoubted superiority of the Fascist armaments (a result of the passivity of the international proletariat, which had been lulled to sleep by the policy of the Popular Front) nor strategic reasons suffice to explain the fall of Barcelona, especially a fall so rapid and almost without a fight. The Fascists entered Barcelona after a brief engagement at Hospitalet, a suburb of Barcelona on the seaward side.

So what?

Well, it is simply that, especially in a civil war, strategy and military technique are subordinate to politics. Barcelona was abandoned because there was nobody to defend it, nobody, or scarcely anyone, who was ready to give his life to defend it against Franco. That is the tragic reality.

The less said about the sinister “Gobierno de la Victoria” [9], the better! It met on Monday night, three days before the entry of Franco. A message read by Uribe [10], the Communist Minister of Agriculture, informed us of the officially announced decisions and of the measures decided upon: firstly, to declare martial law in what remained of governmental Spain, that is to say, to try to muzzle the proletariat (though in reality it was powerless to do so); and secondly, to continue to hold out in Barcelona. That was the official declaration.

And the reality?

The reality? At the same time as they were making this announcement, Messrs Ministers already had their bags packed, their furniture and a surprising quantity of mattresses were already loaded onto trucks, and the aristocratic flight in Rolls Royces and Hispano-Suizas was beginning.

Filled with panic – above all for their own dangerous personal situation – the Messrs Ministers wanted to make an appeal to the CNT workers of Barcelona, in order that the workers should once again generously shed their blood and save the situation. These gentlemen believed that the same trick could be repeated an infinite number of times. According to their view, the proletariat should normally be held down, should respect bourgeois legality, should continually do the dirty jobs, should watch its militants mistreated, etc. Then at the moment of danger the chain could be loosened a bit and the proletariat could be generously permitted to die in defence of the legitimate government and for the democratic republic.

According to these gentlemen’s schema, the proletariat, taking advantage of the happy opportunity offered it, would mount the barricades, sacrifice some tens of thousands of its own people, and save the day. The Fascist danger having passed, the chain could be pulled tight again and the bullying could begin again as before. That was their plan. Ingenious, surely, but the same trick succeeds only a limited number of times.

Seized with panic, the ministers then called for García Oliver [11] to take control of six military divisions and direct operations.

But García Oliver is no soldier!

I wouldn’t like to recall the ‘services’, he has rendered the Spanish proletariat during the 1937 May Days in Barcelona! [12] In any case he was above all an agitational orator, but he represented the CNT and particularly the FAI, and the ministers thought that summoning him would also mean rallying tens of thousands of the militants of the CNT. But the Barcelona workers were demoralised. They remembered the days of May 1937. To understand the tragedy of 26 January 1939 we must remember that of 3-6 May 1937. There is a logical connection between these two dates. By destroying the revolution they lost the anti-Fascist war.

The Stalinists provoked and organised the events of May 1937, that is to say, they carried out the disarming of the proletariat, the destruction of its combat organisations, the assassination of its militant workers, etc. They instituted a regime of terror against the working class. All this was justified by the policy of the Popular Front: that is to say, “Win the war first of all!”, and to do this by winning the support of France and Britain. We now see the result. They did not win the goodwill of the French and English bourgeoisie, but whilst waiting for it they disgusted and demoralised the workers of Spain and those of Catalonia most of all. That was the quickest way to lose the war.

Of course the Barcelona workers understood that Franco was the worst evil, and, in spite of the fact that their confidence in Negrín was extremely low, they wished for the defeat of the Fascists and the victory of the Republican armies, but they no longer had any active participation in the struggle. After May 1937 they no longer felt themselves to be the masters. After all, they no longer were.

They were told many times a day that they were not fighting for their social emancipation (God preserve us from such Trotskyist ideas!) but merely for the return to a democratic republic – which had already nourished the Fascist insurrection. That hardly favoured a spirit of sacrifice or enthusiasm for the war; on the contrary, it was the source of the indifference towards it.

But in far more difficult circumstances Madrid had nonetheless defended itself, and in the month of November 1936 had successfully thrown back Franco’s advance. And yet the Fascists were at the very gate of the capital.

I know that old tune. Catalans are, so it seems, cowards, and Madrilenos are heroic and chivalrous. That is one answer, but it doesn’t stand up. It is obviously put out by the Communists, who use it to try to give themselves a boost: the majority of the Barcelona proletariat is Anarchist, but in Madrid it is the Communists who predominate.

Yet the Catalan workers showed what they could do on 19 July. Within 24 hours they had nipped the military rebellion in the bud. If the workers in the rest of Spain had followed their example, the Fascists would have been completely driven out of the Iberian peninsula. Barcelona also showed what it could do when in barely a few days it produced 200,000 volunteers, and when it sent off the famous ‘columns’ led by Durruti, Ortiz, Domingo Ascaso, Rovira, etc. [13], during the first week that followed 19 July.

Everything was done to break the militancy and the enthusiasm of the Catalan workers. The Popular Front, and most of all the Communists, did all they could to demoralise the Barcelona workers and push them into passivity. Unfortunately, they succeeded all too well. In addition, the glorious epic of Madrid dates from November 1936 and the first months of 1937, and not from January 1939. The spirit of revolution still dominated the whole of anti-Fascist Spain in the month of November 1936. The workers’ committees called for by José Díaz and Comorera [14] at that time had more say than the Republican and ‘legitimate’ government. Madrid radio was playing The Internationale and Hijos del Pueblo [15], and not patriotic songs as in 1939. Red and red-black flags were flying. They have since been replaced by tricolour rags (obviously it is not a question here of the flag itself, but of what it represents).

The Barcelona workers were in no hurry to give their lives for the tricolour flag and the hated Negrín government. What’s more, we do not know how Madrid will resist in 1939. Will it be able to repeat the epic of November 1936? I fear not.

But the rank and file workers of Barcelona could not fail to understand the imminence of the danger. They knew what a Franco victory had in store for them: the ruin of all their hopes. We have so often insisted on the spontaneous character of the struggles of the Spanish, and especially the Catalan proletariat, which is for the most part Anarchist in tendency. Why did the Barcelona workers not act against the will of their leaders?

The ‘spontaneity’ of the Catalan workers has, in spite of their impulsive temperament, its limits, you see. Everything was done to break their morale and their fighting spirit. They were preached calm and patience, and confidence in the leaders of the Popular Front and of the government, and above all they lulled them to sleep with illusions about the intentions of the British, and especially the French, bourgeoisie. Workers were constantly told: “At the eleventh hour Britain, and especially France, will intervene and will not permit the German and Italian Fascists to get a foothold on the Pyrenees, for we are fighting for the safety of the democratic empires.”

The summit of wisdom from the pen-pushers and orators of the Popular Front in their papers and meetings was to remind Chamberlain and Daladier [16] of their imperialist duties – which were to preserve the Spanish working class from Fascism! These illusions, or rather these criminal deceptions, were mostly propagated in particularly critical situations. At such times the diplomatic tensions between the two alliances were immeasurably exaggerated, and the international situation was portrayed as if war was on the point of breaking out between the democratic and the Fascist powers, and as if the British fleet and the French army were poised to intervene at any moment. The worst thing about it was that they stubbornly strove to shut the eyes of the working class, and they succeeded in this.

Here are a few examples to illustrate the short-sightedness of the ‘realistic’ leaders of the Popular Front. Several weeks ago Barcelona was told that hundreds of French aeroplanes and tanks had arrived. This was meant to boost morale! Another example: just a few days ago, before the fall of Barcelona, a foreign comrade, who was a left Anarchist in a relatively important post, told me whilst begging me to keep it secret (the usual way of spreading news) that several French divisions had crossed the Pyrenees and were coming to our aid. He had heard this from a member of the Regional or perhaps the National Committee, who had seen them (the French divisions) cross the frontier.

In the Middle ages ascetics and saints saw the blessed virgin in ecstasy, and sometimes even heard her voice. True, they had to mortify their flesh in order to do so. But the leaders of the Popular Front, without either mortifications or ecstasies, managed to see French divisions coming to their aid.

Unfortunately, these criminal fables were heard and put the proletariat off guard. Lenin once said that truths, even harsh truths, must be told to the proletariat in order to educate it; but wasn’t he, after all, also a ‘Trotskyist’?

Let us be more concrete. The Communist Party, in spite of its policy, must have known the danger that was threatening it. Surely it was a question of saving its own skin. What did it do for the defence of Barcelona?

Of course it kept repeating “No pasaran!” [17], but it did everything possible to make sure that they did. Its central slogan, advanced with a fury and a spirit worthy of a better cause, was: “Close ranks around Negrín’s Government of Victory!” Some government ... which was already packing its bags, or rather having them packed. Thus any independent initiative, and every attempt, however timid, to set up the independent workers’ organisations that alone could have brought back confidence, were described as Trotskyist and Fascist.

It is true that Frente Rojo, (Red Front), the organ of the Communist Party, published on Tuesday an appeal which was headed: “Everyone on the Barricades! As on 19 July!” But the barricades remained in the columns of the paper. These heroes of the PSUC [18] were only capable of mounting the barricades once. That was during the month of May 1937 against the Barcelona workers, to drive them out of the Telephone Exchange, the sacred property of American capitalism, and in order to help the bourgeois police machine-gun the workers.

It is true that if they succeeded it was only because the CNT, or to be more precise, the leadership of the CNT, allowed them to do so.


5. The importance and specific weight of the proletariat of the province of Barcelona is equal to that of the rest of Spain. [Author’s note]

6. García Moreno was a sergeant who stopped four Italian tanks single handed. [Author’s note]

7. Dr Juan Negrín López (1889-1956) was the right wing Socialist manoeuvred into office as Prime Minister of Republican Spain by the Stalinists after they had removed Largo Caballero in 1937.

8. The Communist leaders, and the ‘Anarchists’ along with them, kept this corps, which had been formed under the monarchy, intact. [Author’s note]

9. ‘The Government of Victory’ was the name given by the Communist Party’s publicist, La Pasionaria, to the Negrín government that replaced that of Caballero in May 1937. It wore its name uneasily. La Pasionaria was a name given to the Communist speaker Dolores Gómez Ibarruri (1895-1989) on account of her fervent oratory.

10. Vicente Uribe Caldeano (1908-1961) was Communist Minister of Agriculture in the Popular Front Government.

11. Juan García Oliver (1901-1980), a former supporter of Anarchist terror and a member of the group around Durruti, was Minister of Justice in the Caballero government, and played a most important part in disarming and demoralising the workers of Barcelona during the fighting in May 1937.

12. Because of his speech on 4 May 1937, which ended with the appeal “¡Alto el Fues!” (Cease firing), García Oliver, the honourable Anarchist Minister of Justice, handed over the militants of the CNT to massacre by the Stalinists. The workers of Barcelona remember this speech all too well. [Author’s note]

13. Buenaventura Durruti (1896-1936), Antonio Ortiz and Domingo Ascaso were Anarchist commanders. José Rovira Canals (1902-1968) was the commander of the Lenin battalion of the POUM.

14. José Díaz Ramos (1896-1942) was General Secretary of the Spanish Communist Party, and Juan Comorera (1884-1958) occupied the same position in the PSUC, its equivalent in Catalonia.

15. Sons of the People.

16. Arthur Neville Chamberlain (1869-1940) and Edouard Daladier (1884-1970) were the Prime Ministers of Britain and France at the time.

17. “They Shall Not Pass”, a slogan made popular by La Pasionaria.

18. The PSUC, the United Socialist Party of Catalonia, belonged to the Communist International. It is the pseudonym of the Catalan Communist Party. [Author’s note]


3. And the CNT?

You mention the CNT. The Barcelona working class is in its overwhelming majority Anarchist. We do not understand why it did not act, or at least try to act, to save Barcelona. It has produced heroes, like Durruti and Ascaso, who are the pride of the international working class. What did the CNT do in this tragic crisis?

The CNT is a story of its own. Of course Durruti, Ascaso and thousands of nameless heroes will, like the Paris Commune, remain forever inscribed in the hearts of the proletariat; but as for the policy of the ‘anti-politicos’ and the ‘anti-statists’, the policy of the so-called leadership of the CNT, it was grossly reformist, petit-bourgeois and objectively criminal towards the proletariat and the revolution.

At this time of general ideological disarray, when Anarchist ideas can have a certain attraction for those who are disorientated, such a policy can instruct the workers of the entire world as to the value of the theory, and especially the practice, of Anarchism. This consistent work of criticism, which Marxists alone can do, will be done. Pamphlets are necessary, and perhaps even books.

In the past, I mean in 1936 and in 1937, these anti-statists used to abolish and sometimes even burn money in the little villages of Aragon where they set up libertarian Communism and the rule of love and brotherhood, but the idea of laying their hands on the big banks never occurred to them. The branch office of the Bank of Spain in Barcelona stands directly opposite the regional committee of the CNT, the seat of the Anarchist general staff, but the anti-statist leaders go on tiptoe in the presence of high finance. [19] They believe it to be an original sin to talk about a workers’ state, or of the formation and extension of workers’ committees. And, whilst working methodically at rebuilding the bourgeois state, they kept talking about Anarchism. [20] During May 1937 they betrayed the workers of Barcelona to the Stalino-bourgeois counter-revolution. A few weeks later the bourgeoisie, having no further need of them, and feeling itself sufficiently strong, dismissed them from the government.

A year later, in April 1938, at a moment of danger (the smashing of the Aragon front), they were offered the decorative and unimportant portfolio of Public Instruction in the second Negrín cabinet, which they accepted with a very un-Anarchist eagerness. The bourgeoisie knows that it is dealing with domesticated and well-trained creatures. From then on the CNT and even the FAI covered up the policy of social reaction by the Negrín government. Négrin’s 13 points [21], and the counter-revolutionary decrees dissolving the proletarian institutions, were all covered up by the CNT and the FAI.

Moreover, even the formal distinction between the frankly chauvinist and reformist language of the Stalinists and Socialists and the verbal revolutionary language of the CNT, a distinction that existed during the first year of the revolution, disappeared during 1938. The press was ‘gleichgeschaltet’, that is to say, put in step. Solidaridad Obrera, the central organ of the CNT, portrayed the conflict between the London Stock Exchange and that of Berlin as an ideological conflict between the democracies and the dictatorships. Every day it praised Roosevelt, the representative of Yankee imperialism, as an apostle of peace, and naturally explained that the security of the empires required intervention in Spain, thus giving lessons in patriotism to Chamberlain and Daladier.

For several months the regional committee of the CNT was disoriented and did not know what slogan to adopt. It finally found one in November.

What was it?

Just this: a councillor’s post in the Catalan Generalitat had to be given to the CNT! The honesty, the sense of justice and above all the idealism of the noble men carrying on a constant struggle “contra los sucios maniobras politicos” (against the dirty manoeuvres of politicians), demanded satisfaction for the crying injustice committed after May 1937, when the representatives of the CNT were kicked out of the Catalan Generalitat. [22] Besides, we read in the Soli [23] that the regional committee demanded a ministerial post, not for the base motives that characterise politicians – for example to attain a political objective or perhaps simply to get a ministerial job – but for altogether idealistic reasons.

As for me, vulgar materialist that I am, I do not altogether overlook the practical interest attached to the post of Councillor to the Generalitat. It opens up for the comrade pleasant prospects, of being ‘plugged in’, as they say over there, but it is a bit thin as a slogan for a situation that is rather more serious.

At the last moment the CNT and FAI could still have saved the situation. Yes! They could have done so, and in any case they should have tried to save it. But they didn’t even make the effort. Because for that they would obviously have had to break with the policy that was leading to the abyss, the policy that is called the Popular Front.

Let us be concrete. In spite of the demoralising effect of the policy of Negrín and Comorera, 15 days ago in Barcelona there were still several thousand workers, most of them young people, ready to mount the barricades once more and die, if need be, for the revolution. They were ready to join the regiments of the Libertarian Youth, but had no confidence at all in the Republican commanders, who went over to the enemy whenever they got the chance. The appeals of the official bodies went unheeded. For example, inside the factories numerous methods of coercion were necessary to pull fake ‘specialists’ into the army (that was the term used for the workers, or specialists, who were exempt from military service on account of their technical skills). [24] Just one example. The National Committee of the Libertarian Youth, which supported the line of the National Committee of the CNT, observing that only a few of the young people affiliated with the Libertarian Youth enlisted in the official regiments of the Ejercito Popular, published a very characteristic communiqué. In this communiqué the National Committee assured the young members of the Juventudes Libertarias that they need have no fear of enlisting in the government’s regiments of mixed volunteers because the National Committee had a representative on the organisation committee of the regiments! This ‘assurance’ did not convince the youth, who were waiting in vain for a voice that they could trust.

In brief, the CNT left its adherents without instructions and without a plan of action at the final moment. Thus on Thursday night, 26 January, the same day as the entry of the Fascists into Barcelona, I was in a little town near Gerona. I went to see the local committee, the ‘junta’ of the CNT. The comrades had no liaison at all with the centre, did not even know where it was, and asked for my advice.


19. Abolishing money in the little villages of Aragon whilst preserving El Banco de España curiously reminds me of the fable of Krylov, The Inquirer. The inquirer, who had visited the zoological gardens, is describing what he managed to see. He makes reference to insects as small as a pin, but nowhere mentions the elephant. [Author’s note] Ivan Andreevich Krylov (1769-1844) was the leading Russian writer of fables. [Translator’s note]

20. A reading of the four pamphlets by the CNT ex-ministers in the Caballero government published by the National Committee of the CNT is very instructive in this respect, and is to be highly recommended. [Author’s note]

21. Negrín’s 13 points were the programme for the re-establishment of a bourgeois republic. [Author’s note]

22. The Generalitat was the regional government established by the Statute of Catalan autonomy in 1932.

23. Soli was the common nickname of the Anarchist daily paper, Solidaridad Obrera.

24. In order to recruit volunteers in the most important arms factories in Barcelona, called Fabrica A, the factory committee had to shut the exit doors because the workers tried to escape. [Author’s note]




18. The Anarchists of the Left and the ‘God-Seekers’ in the Light of the Spanish Experience

The policy of the leadership of the Anarcho-Syndicalist CNT (National Federation of Labour) and of the FAI (Iberian Anarchist Federation) has not been analysed in detail in this work. However, the reader can form a general idea of the policy of Anarchism in Spain by looking at the facts described in the chapter And the CNT, as well as other facts quoted in other chapters.

For the first time in history Anarchists had the possibility of applying their theories on a grand scale. They enjoyed an unparalleled authority in Catalonia, the decisive and most industrialised region in Spain, and had the unconditional support of the overwhelming majority of the proletariat. The truth of a theory, like the efficacy of a remedy, is verified according to experience. What remains of the theories of Bakunin, Kropotkin and Malatesta [131] after the Spanish experience? For decades we Marxists have demonstrated the limited and petit-bourgeois character of Anarchist concepts. Our masters, Marx, Engels, Lenin and Plekhanov [132] to cite but a few, refuted the Anarchist conceptions in their theoretical works from a doctrinal point of view, as well as making use of the living experience of the class struggle. Nonetheless, the Spanish Civil War, which for Anarchism was an ideological test, supplies us with a fresh opportunity to explain its ideological inconsistency.

The fundamental thesis of Anarchism, which separates it from Bolshevism, is the thesis on the possibility of passing to Anarchy without the transitional period of the dictatorship of the proletariat, that is to say, the immediate suppression of the state and its apparatus of oppression.

What remains of this conception after 31 months of civil war in Spain? For the first time we were shown the sharp and unexpected experience of ministerial Anarchism. This is as if someone had said an honest scoundrel, or a wicked fool. The anti-statists were transformed into ministers, the bomb-throwers into police prefects, the terrorists into prison governors, and in the course of this transformation the García Olivers and Frederica Montsenys had the opportunity to reveal the profoundly reformist nature of the leadership of the CNT, which held back the masses as much as any Austro-Marxists. [133]

How did the leadership of the CNT justify its evolution? Approximately in the same way as the other leaders of the Popular Front. These gentlemen are for Anarchy in principle, but in the meantime they were for saving the bourgeois state, just as Thorez is for the class struggle in principle, but in the meantime propagates the union of the French nation, in other words the union of the French bourgeoisie and the working class. In principle they are strong supporters of anti-alcoholism, but in the meanwhile they have been dead drunk these 30 tragic months.

Nonetheless, the Anarchist ideologues affirmed that their principles were always unscathed and in the best of health, since a ‘new’ and unforeseen factor had intervened: the war and foreign intervention. As if it is possible on this earth to liberate the proletariat, in no matter what country, without a war and foreign intervention!

But let us leave aside the Anarchist would-be ministers, who have not understood how ridiculous their position is. However summarily, their account has been settled in the course of this work.

There exist, however, in Spain and in the whole world, groups of oppositional Anarchists, who condemn the policy of the leadership of the CNT and the FAI and judge the betrayals of García Oliver and the other Anarchist would-be ministers in severe terms. They stigmatise, often in ardent and violent language, the reformism and softness, but they see the source of misfortune in the non-application of the true Anarchist doctrine, and in the fact that the CNT and FAI have begun to go in for ‘politics’, just as the Marxists have done for so long.

According to them the CNT and FAI remained revolutionary until 19 July. As long as they remained on the terrain of direct action and of economic struggle, all went well. But misfortune began when the leaders of the CNT began to make compromises with the other political parties. From compromise to compromise, the Anarchist leaders were pushed towards reformism. For example, according to some of the passionate leaders of the Libertarian Youth, already the first mistake was the creation of state organisations, like the Committee of Anti-Fascist Militias. That was already a commitment, it was already the state in control. Isn’t this a punishment for making a revolution whose precise aim is to suppress the state if on the first day of the revolution a new state apparatus begins to be built? And the Defence Committees in which the Anarchists had to collaborate and where consequently they had to make compromises with the other ‘politicos’, were they not the beginning of the slide by the CNT and FAI towards the same ‘political rottenness’?

The initiative of the people must be given a free run, and the splendid spontaneity of 19 July must not be broken. On that day in Barcelona did not an unarmed people smash the military uprising within 24 hours? Did it not throw itself bare-chested against machine gun fire? And it triumphed. It must be continued thus. Do not lose confidence in the people. As soon as you dip a finger into politics, you are lost! (Just as Jews or Moslems become impure if they eat pork, Anarchists become impure after having touched politics.) Is not the fatal evolution of Anarchist fighters into sensible ministers an illustration of what happens to anybody when he begins to practice ‘politics’? Politics is the art of deceiving others. We always said so. Do we need any fresh proof that Anarchy is right?

We find this reasoning in several Anarchist magazines and leaflets on the level of ‘ideas’, which preach a return to the pure doctrine of Anarchism. It reflects the state of mind of the young Anarchists as well as some older ones who criticise the attitude of the reformist leaders of the CNT. For one example among others we could cite the criticism made by Schapiro, the American Anarchist. [134]

In order to illustrate this reasoning of the Anarchists better, I will quote what I was told by a cultivated and devoted Anarchist lady in Barcelona. When the Anarchist committees in the Generalitat approved the decrees on the reorganisation of internal order in the bourgeois sense in April 1937 [135] my sympathetic Anarchist lady was disgusted; she was astonished at the softness of the Regional Committee, which had not made the most of its power in the course of the ministerial crises of the Generalitat and which did not want to impose a CNTist president on the Council of the Generalitat. As far as she was concerned, the CNT must have more portfolios. It is true that she was not very ‘left’ when she said this. But a quarter of an hour later her ‘leftism’ and her ‘purity’ got the better of her desire to see all the chancelleries occupied by the Anarchists. She said: “I am now more Anarchist than ever. When you begin to go in for politics and to occupy public offices, you are really finished. We must be intransigent!”

Eighteen months later I discussed with the same Anarchist lady in Barcelona. Her left Anarchist oppositional tendency had grown. Moreover, this sincere revolutionary had just got out of a private prison of the ‘Cheka’ [136] where she had been accused of espionage. In response to my arguments she replied:

You Trotskyists dare to talk about the failure of Anarchism on account of the ministerial experience of García Oliver and Frederica Montseny. You could with as much reason talk about the failure of Marxism on account of the experiences of Blum, Negrín, Stalin, or José Díaz! You say that in the course of the Spanish Revolution true Marxism has not been applied; well, no more was true Anarchism applied.

This is all very well and very touching when you hear it among young and devoted Anarchists, and at first sight the arguments appear to hold up, but in reality it is only a house of cards, as it is enough to touch it with a finger and it falls down. The reasoning of the Left Anarchists lacks one small detail: practicality.

When we consistent Marxists, in other words supporters of the Fourth International, make a critique of the reformist policy of the Stalinists and the Anarchists (and in essence it is the same policy, that of the Popular Front), we do not confine ourselves to refuting it, we show the way to proceed. We show the revolutionary methods that can lead the proletariat to victory.

We did not invent these methods ourselves and we can only transmit the experiences of the class struggle of the international proletariat. We point to the example of the victorious October Revolution of 1917 and we point to this gigantic step forward for humanity, the greatest so far known to history, even if it was followed by a temporary Stalinist reaction. We say to the workers: “Do not follow the policy of the Popular Front as that will lead you to the abyss, but follow the way of Lenin and Trotsky on a world scale, and it will give you victory worldwide.” Or, in other words, the liberation of humanity from capitalism.

And we are not satisfied with explaining this general idea, for in each concrete situation we show the working class the tactics of the way forward. We said that when García Oliver made his speech “Alto el Fuego” (cease firing!) on 4 May 1937, a speech modelled on that of Thorez, “We must know when to end strikes”, he betrayed the workers of Barcelona, but at the same time we added: the duty of the revolutionary leadership in the May Days was to reply to the Stalino-bourgeois provocation by the seizure of power by the proletariat, for it alone is capable of conducting the war against Fascism successfully after having established its dictatorship. In every sphere, whether it be military, economic, or any other problem, to the methods of the Popular Front we propose revolutionary methods whose effectiveness has been verified by experience.

In the critical writings of the Left Anarchists we search in vain for something positive, in other words, what those in opposition suggest should have been done. We will not find it for the simple reason that it cannot be found on the basis of Anarchist concepts.

The spontaneity of 19 July was truly beautiful – the initiative of the people and its unequalled heroism. It was a great and unforgettable day for the proletariat, but it was a day, it lasted for 24 hours. When these 24 hours had passed the proletariat had to continue to struggle because it is impossible to overthrow the capitalist system in a day, or even a week. The working class must not only continue to struggle, but it must organise its struggle. And when you pass over to organisation, and when you get down to it, you get dirty very quickly. You begin to act and take on responsibilities, particularly in a revolutionary period, because you can no longer be satisfied with making criticisms of the capitalist system: you begin to practice politics. That is inevitable. Only, you must practice revolutionary politics.

When the great victorious revolutionary day is over, the barricades are removed; but the next day the barricade fighters who have escaped the bullets are back on the streets, and then in the factory. To preserve their victories they must set up defensive organisations, juntas and committees. Of necessity not only the advanced workers must enter these committees, but also the backward ones, imbued with a petit-bourgeois outlook. In these committees the revolutionaries will have to be in contact with reformists and opportunists, particularly where the latter influence the proletariat. They have to make compromises. Only they must make revolutionary compromises, in other words compromises that favour the struggle of the proletariat, and not rotten compromises that favour its enemies, such as those agreed to by the anti-statists García Oliver and Frederica Montseny. The Left Anarchists would do well to read again Lenin’s Left-Wing Communism, An Infantile Disorder. [137] They would do well to assimilate the lessons of this Marxist work in particular. It would allow them to avoid meandering about and enable them to learn revolutionary realism.

Revolution is the struggle for power. This struggle takes a sharp and bloody form. Power passes from the hands of one faction into the hands of another, more revolutionary or more moderate, in a very different manner to the transfer of power from Conservative to Labour in the English constitutional and parliamentary system.

Everything rests on a knife edge. Yesterday’s masters become transformed into prisoners, and vice versa. Lenin said that in a period of revolution prisons are the ministerial antechamber, and from that he deduced the necessity for the red terror!

When the Mozos de Escuadra [138] set me free after the May events, they told me: “Hasta la vistas, au revoir”, and they added: “Soon, perhaps, we will change places.” In a revolutionary period the problem is always posed: us or you.

The problem of power was posed for the CNT and FAI during the July Days, and in an even sharper fashion during the May Days. Take the power or leave it to others: in other words, to the left bourgeoisie and the Stalinists. There was no escape from that. The leadership of the CNT obstinately closed its eyes during the first months following 19 July in order not to see reality. The truth was that in Catalonia it dominated the entire life of the country, possessed weapons, and could have brought about the seizure of power practically without a blow. But the leaders of the CNT said: “We are only concerned with the economy, the trade unions and the factories. Power can only interest ‘politicians’.” Thus it let the first most propitious occasion slip by.

In September in Catalonia, and in November in Madrid, those Anarchists who repeated the idea that power for the workers’ committees was too ‘étatist’, began to work to rebuild the bourgeois state. The question of power was posed yet again for the CNT in May 1937, but now in an even sharper fashion than in July. It was the Stalinists who went over to the offensive in order to disarm the CNT. The latter could have taken the power or resigned. It chose the second course.

What, according to the Left Anarchists, should the CNT have done? The majority of the Left Anarchists remained silent and made no response to this key question. Some of those who were in opposition arrived at the idea of a dictatorship of the CNT. But this idea was expressed by them in an imprecise fashion. But by so expressing it, they obviously came close to our point of view. But what remained of Anarchism then?

The only oppositional group inside the CNT which expressed clear ideas, particularly during the May Days, was the Friends of Durruti. They came out in favour of a revolutionary Junta taking power, based on the committees and the trade unions. Unfortunately, the Friends of Durruti halted halfway in their critique. We hope that in future they will know how to draw the lessons from this tragic experience.

If we have dwelt on the ideas of the Left Anarchists, it is because their ideas reflect the state of feeling of the rank and file of the CNT. For the future of the Spanish workers’ movement to a large extent depends upon the evolution of the revolutionary rank and file of the CNT and FAI towards revolutionary positions, in other words, towards the positions of the Fourth International.

After having surveyed the ideas of the Left Anarchists we wish to turn our attention to all those who have broken with Stalinism on an international level, but who nonetheless fight against Bolshevik methods. We have analysed the policy of the POUM, and we have demonstrated how it differs from ours. Obviously, we are not going to discuss with the different ‘Trotskyist’ and ‘anti-Trotskyist’ groupings of the Oehler type [139], etc. These groups generally have no ideas to oppose to ours, only personal grudges: nobody has appreciated their value as leaders of the working class movement as they ought to have done, they have been underestimated... and in addition it appears that Trotsky does not know how to handle people. They criticise our ‘methods of organisation’. Nevertheless, instead of criticising our methods, they would do better to come and work with us in order to improve them. We are ready to learn, but we have no time to lose ...

However, on the international level a tendency of ‘God Seekers’ has been taking shape for 10 years. Thus we label all those who have condemned Stalinism but think that the source of Stalinism already existed inside Bolshevism. They condemn not only Stalinist methods, but their opposite, Leninist methods. They say that our analysis of the errors of Stalinism is superficial. We have not, so it seems, gone to the origin of the evil and we have only dwelt on its logical conclusions.

According to these new anti-Bolsheviks it was Lenin himself who began the counter-revolution in Russia and prepared the way for Stalin. Bolshevik methods of organisation, which lacked democracy and failed to understand liberty, opened the way to Stalin. Not only Stalinism, but Bolshevism as well must be revised. We must look at everything again. Some go further, and say that the roots of the evil are already to be found within the Marxist conception itself. Among the ideologists of this ‘Stalinism equals Bolshevism’ concept we might cite Boris Souvarine, who, it might be said in passing, has ended up with Figaro. But not everybody has taken the road of the old newspaper of the great French perfume manufacturer. [140]

In the entire world there are several thousand honest revolutionaries who find themselves in unprecedented disarray. But having rejected Stalinism, they begin to doubt everything in Bolshevism and Marxism. For 10 years they have been searching for new revolutionary methods that are superior to Bolshevism and even to Marxism. Some among them want to draw arguments from Rosa Luxemburg against Bolshevism and Lenin. They rely upon the divergences between Lenin and Rosa Luxemburg over questions of organisation, and also upon the criticisms of Bolshevik methods made by Luxemburg in her pamphlet The Russian Revolution.

These ideas are put out in France by the Spartacus group which produces the magazine Masses [141] and by similar groups in other countries. These anti-Bolsheviks wish to draw arguments from Rosa Luxemburg against the idea of a centralised organisation in the Leninist manner. Consequently, they fight against the Fourth International, which relies on Leninist concepts. Rejecting Bolshevism, they look for new revolutionary methods, and even for new methods of thought, discovering, for example, that the Marxist dialectic lends itself to arbitrary interpretations. Not knowing to which saint to dedicate themselves, they are looking for a new god.

When we use the term for them that Lenin used against empirio-criticism and against Lunacharsky [142], we are not employing it in a pejorative sense, or for the requirements of polemic. ‘God seekers’ are always in existence during the periods of ideological disarray that follow catastrophes. And isn’t the ideological fall of the Comintern a catastrophe? In addition, it is very intelligent and noble to criticise, to want to go deeper into things, to push the analysis as far as possible, and above all to search. But it is much more difficult to find.

We have no intention of replying here to all the objections of the ‘god seekers’ and the revisionists, who moreover could be correct in some of their criticisms. We do not here presume to remove the problem of Bolshevism’s original sins, or even to examine them thoroughly. We only wish to demonstrate, in the light of tragic experience, that the ‘god seekers’ and the revisionists want to throw the baby out with the bathwater, they mix grain with chaff, they have not found any new and better methods of revolutionary strategy, nor any new methods of thought, and that in the course of the Spanish Revolution it is precisely those ideas of Bolshevism that they criticise as unfortunate that have received fresh confirmation. Let us outline these ideas:

1. The Bolshevik idea of the necessity for a centralised revolutionary party, a party of the proletarian vanguard, has been confirmed once more in the Spanish Revolution. As we have shown here, the objective conditions for proletarian revolution existed in Spain. However, we went from one disaster to another. The illusions of certain revisionists as well as of the old Syndicalists that broad organisations, like trade unions, containing the whole proletariat, would be enough and could replace the party, have to be rejected after the experience of 1936-39. The trade unions played an important rôle in the Spanish Revolution. Moreover, all Spanish workers were in trade unions after July. But they did not know how to organise everything nor to resolve the question of power.

If we wish to avoid fresh catastrophes in future, we must have a revolutionary party with its internal democracy as well as its centralisation and its discipline. The Spanish Communist Party was a disciplined party but its discipline was in the service of counter-revolutionary policies. However, it can in no way be deduced from this that a disciplined and centralised party is useless. Precisely the opposite: without a disciplined party there is no victorious revolution.

2. Mass spontaneity is not enough. It existed in Spain. Thanks to it we witnessed the heroic 19 July and the May Days. But it was not enough to be able to organise the revolution – for that we must have a party. By stating this we are not arguing with the one whom Lenin styled “The Eagle of the Revolution” [143] but with those who wish to draw arguments from her conceptions in order to put a spoke in our wheel and to prevent the construction of the Fourth International.

The spontaneity of the masses leads to centralisation. We must centralise their combativity by the creation of the Control Patrols and the militias within the structure of the dictatorship of the proletariat. Spontaneous collectivisation also posed the necessity for centralisation and an economic plan for the whole country. To survive, the collectivisations had to be incorporated within the structure of a socialised economy, in other words an economy of the transitional period.

3. The use of violence is inevitable in a revolution, not only against Fascists and avowed enemies of the proletariat, but also, at a certain stage of revolutionary development, against reformist and conciliatory currents within the working class. The whole question is in what direction will it be employed? Whose political aims will it serve? The Stalinists also used violence, but in the service of a counter-revolutionary policy that was slanted towards the democratic bourgeoisie, Chamberlain and the Pope. But if there had been, not charlatan Anarcho-Ministers, but proletarian Jacobins instead of the CNT leadership, they would have used revolutionary violence in May 1937 to smash the Stalinist provocation and the reactionary tendencies of Comorera, which represented the influence of the bourgeoisie, and which put a brake on the revolution.

Did the Bolsheviks go too far in the direction of revolutionary violence a

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