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Thursday, Oct. 29, 2009 at 9:35 AM
For anyone interested, here is Part 2 of the 'Libertarian Spain in the 1930's' series
Freedom of Religion in Libertarian Spain
By Nicholas Evans
Part 2 of the ‘Libertarian Spain in the 1930’s’ series*
Libertarianism** (aka anarchism) has always been known as a movement that generally prefers various kinds of democratic socialist economies. 1. These same socialist economies are based, in the opinion of libertarians, on realistic and practical amounts of human freedom. 2.
As Kropotkin states,
All Libertarians uniquely prefer the “enfranchisement of man from … the state as well as from those of capitalism.” 3.
Human freedom for everyone includes freedom of religion.
This is why we find the major writers in the libertarian Mutualist, Collectivist, and Communist schools supporting religious freedom.
Proudhon, a Mutualist, and the libertarian of small businessmen and co-operative businesses states***:
“Let public worship, like industry, be free… The right to assemble for prayer is equal to the right to assemble to talk politics or economics;…” 4.
Bakunin, a collectivist, and libertarian of self employed and large scale democratically controlled industry, mentions:
“Neither society, nor any part of society- commune, province, or nation- has the right to prevent free individuals from associating freely for any purpose whatsoever: political, religious, scientific, artistic…” 5.
Alexander Berkman, the Libertarian Communist, wrote:
“Maybe you are a Christian, or a member of some other religion -Jew, Mormon, Mohammedan, Buddhist, or what not… It makes no difference. A man should be free to believe whatever he pleases.” 6.
Benjamin Tucker, Libertarian Individualist (aka free market socialist, see his State Socialism and Anarchism) notes on religion:
While most Libertarians are atheists, “… the anarchists none less firmly believe in the liberty to believe in it.” 7.
Writers who prefer gatherer-hunter lifestyles such as John Zerzan and Freddy Perlman mention favorably hunter-gatherer bands with spiritual beliefs. 8.
And of course there are excellent Catholic Libertarians such as Dorthy Day and Catholic Libertarian influenced groups such as Catholic Worker. 9.
To sum up:
The Libertarian “…view is that religion is a personal matter, above all else- if people want to believe in something, that’s their business, and nobody else’s as long as they do not impose those ideas on others.” 10.
What about the dismantling of various Catholic Churches in the Libertarian areas of Spain in the 1930’s?
The Catholic Churches were attacked because the Catholic Church held political power and worked with Hitler, Musolini, and Franco.
As journalist Seldes notes, while the Catholic church is usually thought of as neutral during the revolution, the Vatican and the Catholic church worked with Hitler and Musolini in an attempt to overthrow the Republic. Franco was to lead it. 11.
The Libertarians did respect freedom of religion.
Other churches that did not attempt to sabotage the Libertarians were left free:
As historian Thomas notes: "Protestant churches were not attacked, and remained open." 12.
The historian Jackson notes that in Barcelona the (Christian -ed) Quakers established canteens which were staffed by refugee women. 13.
The historian Bolloten notes: "In the Basque provinces nobody attacked the Church or interfered with religious worship, because, in contrast with the rest of the left camp, the clergy in those provinces sympathized with democratic and Republican institutions." 14.
Basque Anarchists and Communists attended mass. 15.
Regarding the crimes on Catholic nuns and priests and others:
Thomas notes: "The anarchist leadership also criticized the violence and tried to stem it within a few days...the CNT and FAI launched a series of protest against illegal violence" 16.
The historian Fraser mentions: "...the CNT and FAI issued statements categorically condemning the assassinations." 17.
Fraser also notes that in Barcelona and elsewhere the FAI was automatically blamed for crimes. 18.
There were Catholics in the CNT. (The CNT was the Libertarian Anarcho-Syndicalist Labor Union. The FAI was a Libertarian organization.) 19.
As the CNT itself stated:
“Could any other declaration be made? It is de rigueur (socially obligatory -ed*) that in any programme type declaration we register our respect for religions…” 20.
* For Part 1 of the ‘Libertarian Spain in the 1930’s’ series, please see: Libertarian Mutualism in Libertarian Spain by Nicholas Evans
** This term Libertarian is another name for the political society of Anarchism. Contrary to popular thought, anarchism is an organized and free society with equality of opportunity and it is different from Capitalism. Most forms of anarchism are based on direct democracy.
This means that almost all or all organizations in an anarchist society are organized from the bottom up in a directly democratic fashion. This means that all or almost all business, workplaces, neighborhood assemblies, federations ect. would be organized in a directly democratic fashion. In this sense, there are delegates, or representatives rather then rulers.
As most or all of the society would be run from the bottom up by directly democratic organizations and businesses and with elected delegates or representatives, Proudhon called this philosophy Anarchism. Bakunin, Kropotkin and others followed by calling their forms of political views anarchism by building off of Proudhon’s views.
The term ‘Libertarian’ was first used in the anarchist journal ‘La Libertaire, Journal du Mouvement Social’. It was published in New York between 1858 and 1861 by French Anarchist Joseph Dejacque.
Benjamin Tucker used the term ‘Libertarian’ in 1897 in his journal Liberty, no. 350 pp 5. ‘Libertarian’ is a nice term since ‘Anarchism’ is sometimes confused with disorder which is incorrect.
*** A capitalist free market is one type of market where employers pay their employees a wage less then the total amount of work the employees produced.
If employers paid their employees enough to buy back everything they created, or if someone is self-employed or if a business is operated as a co-op, then it is a different market system from Capitalism, called Market Socialism.
As the economist Stanford notes:
“But capitalism is not the only economic system which relies on markets. Pre-capitalist economies also had markets-where producers could sell excess supplies of agricultural goods or handicrafts, and where exotic commodities (like spices or fabrics) from far-off lands could be purchased.
Most forms of socialism also rely heavily on markets to distribute end products and even, in some cases, to organize investment and production. So markets are not unique to capitalism, and there is nothing inherently capitalist about a market.” Stanford, Jim. Economics for Everyone: A Short Guide to the Economics of Capitalism. Ann Arbor: MI., Pluto Press. 2008. Pp. 36
Socialism is any system where employees are paid enough to buy back what they produce. As Marx notes:
"The working day of 12 hours is represented in a monetary value of, for example, 6 shillings. There are two alternatives.
Either equivalents are exchanged, and then the worker receives 6 shillings for 12 hours of labour; the price of his labour would be equal to the price of his product.
In that case he produces no surplus-value for the buyer of his labour, the 6 shillings are not transformed in to capital, and the basis of capitalist production vanishes." Marx, Karl. Capital Volume 1 England: Penguin Classics (reprint) 1990 pp. 676.
And Proudhon: “…that the producer may live, his wages must repurchase his product.”
Proudhon, Pierre-Joseph. What is Property? New York: Cosmo Classics., 2007 pp 129
Individualists prefer a free market socialist system where employers of companies pay their employees enough to buy back what they produce.
“…for the laborer’s inability to repurchase his product in consequence of the privileged capitalist’s practice of keeping back a part of his wages…” Tucker, Benjamin. Instead of a Book: By a Man too Busy to Write One. New York: Gordon Press. (1972) pp 479
Mutualists also prefer to have businesses organize into Federation. Please see Proudhon’s What is Property? ,Edward’s Selected Writings of P.J. Proudhon and Proudhon’s Principle of Federation among others
Bibliography and Footnotes:
1. McKay, Iain. An Anarchist FAQ. Oakland, CA: AK Press. 2008. Pp.40
“For most anarchists, directly democratic voting in policy decisions within free associations is the political counterpart of free agreement (this is also known as “self management”).
The CNT was organized direct democratically as follows:
“At all times, the basis for any local, regional, or national decisions is the general assembly of the union, where every member has the right to attend, raise and discuss issues, and vote on proposals. Resolutions are adopted by majority vote attenuated by proportional representation.
Extraordinary congresses are held on the suggestion of the assembled unions. Even the agenda is devised by the assemblies where the items on the agenda are debated and delegates appointed as the executors of their collective will.
This federalist procedure, operating from the bottom up, constitutes a precaution against any possible authoritarian degeneration in the representative committees. “Peirats, Jose. The CNT in the Spanish Revolution Vol. 1 East Sussex: The Meltzer Press. pp 6
2. McKay, Iain. An Anarchist FAQ. Oakland, CA: AK Press. 2008. Pp.42
“However, most anarchists think that direct democracy within free association is the best (and most realistic) form of organization which is consistent with anarchist principles of individual freedom, dignity and equality.”
3. Kropotkin, Peter., "Anarchism" The Encyclopedia Britannica, 1910. Retrieved Jan 20, 2009 from:
4. Proudhon, Pierre-Joseph General Idea of the Revolution in the Nineteenth Century. New York: Cosmo Classics., 2007 pp. 254
5. Bakunin, Michael; Dolgoff, Sam (editor). Bakunin on Anarchy New York: Random House Inc. 1972. Pg. 82
6. Berkman, Alexander. What is Anarchism? Oakland, CA: AK Press. 2003. Pg. 60
Or please see:
7. Tucker, Benjamin (1897) (re-print 1972). Instead of a Book By a Man Too Busy to Write One. (pp. 6) New York: Gordon Press
8. Author unknown. The !Kung of the Kalahari Desert. University of Connecticut. Date unknown. Reprint from Nisa: The life and words of a !Kung woman by Shostak, M. (1981). Retrieved on January 20, 2009 from:
“The spiritual world is a part of all aspects of !Kung life, determining health, death, and the abundance of food and water.”
For references by Freddy Perlman, please see Against History, Against Leviathan
9. McKay, Iain. An Anarchist FAQ. Oakland, CA: AK Press. 2008. Pp. 75
10. McKay, Iain. An Anarchist FAQ. Oakland, CA: AK Press. 2008. Pp. 58
11. Mumford, Stephen. The Life and Death of NSSM 200. Research Triangle Park, North Carolina: Center for Research on Population and Security, 1996. Pp 263-264
12. Thomas, Hugh. The Spanish Civil War. New York, USA: Touchstone. 1986 pp 269
13. Jackson, Gabriel. The Spanish Republic and the Civil War, 1931-1939. Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press. 1965 pp 446
14. Bolloten, Burnett. The Grand Camouflage. London: Pall Mall Press. (1968) pp 40
15. Quinn, Martin. European Vibe Magazine: A Bit of Culture. Issue 28, April 2009
16. Thomas, Hugh. The Spanish Civil War. New York, USA: Touchstone. 1986 pp 277
17. Fraser, Ronald. Blood of Spain. New York: Pantheon Books. (1979). pp 149
18. Ibid. pp 148
19. Fraser, Ronald. Blood of Spain. New York: Pantheon Books. (1979). pp 364
“…many of the people fighting in his column were smallholders, and that a great number of different tendencies were represented: republicans, socialists, liberals, Catholics, Libertarians.”
20. Peirats, Jose. The CNT in the Spanish Revolution Vol. 3. East Sussex: ChristieBooks. (2001) pp 75. On religion, the CNT National Committee on May 10th, 1938 Circular No. 12 mentioned regarding freedom of conscience and freedom of religion:
“Could any other declaration be made? It is de rigueur (socially obligatory -ed*) that in any programme type declaration we register our respect for religions…”
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