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Andy Durgan

Revolutionary Anarchism in Spain: the CNT 1911–1937

(Winter 1981)

From International Socialism 2 : 11, Winter 1981, pp. 93–110.
Transcribed by Christian Høgsbjerg, with thanks to the Lipman-Miliband Trust.
Marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

The origins of the CNT

The origins of Spanish anarchism lie in the birth pangs of a locally weak capitalism and the waves of rural revolt which swept the peninsular in the second half of the nineteenth century. The complex reasons why anarchism should take root so firmly in Spain have been discussed elsewhere. [1] Suffice to say that the peculiar social, economic and political situation in nineteenth century Spain did not bode well for normal trade union practices, particularly in the countryside. Anarchist ideas fitted many of the traditions of Spanish workers, e.g. federalism, and their influence spread partly because they became available in the key formative years of the workers’ movement.

The National Confederation of Labour (CNT) was the only mass anarcho-syndicalist organisation to survive the First World War and the Russian Revolution. It organised hundreds of thousands of workers and pitted them relentlessly against the system. It is the only mass anarchist movement ever to be put to such a test. The myths which surround its history have clouded the valuable lessons of those years. Most crucially the inherent weaknesses in the CNT’s anti-centralist and anti-political ideas.

The founding congress of the CNT in September 1911 was attended by delegates representing 26,571 workers organised into 140 unions, mainly from Catalonia. The socialist UGT claimed 77,749 members at the time – so only a small minority of the Spanish working class was actually organised.

While traditional Spanish interpretations of Bakunin had ‘lacked a philosophy of daily struggle’, the new influence of French syndicalism changed all this. The combination of a revolutionary interpretation of the syndicalist tactics of direct action and the general strike with more classical anarchist principles led to the creation of Spanish anarcho-syndicalism. However, despite the majority of delegates being sympathetic to anarchism, it was decided to form a purely syndicalist body open to all ‘non-political’ workers. Officially the CNT remained as such until 1919.

Ideologically three traits were to stand out in the new organisation: direct action, which related to the socio-economic situation; ‘apoliticism’, which was seen as necessary to maintain workers’ unity; and federalism, which related to the oldest traditions of the workers movement in Spain. Characteristic of anarchist influence the confederation was to have no strike funds, partly to avoid bureaucracy, and partly to ensure strikes proceeded along militant and aggressive lines. A national committee was elected but only to carry out such things as correspondence, the collection of statistics and aid to prisoners. The General Secretary and the Regional Secretaries were the only paid officials.

While co-ordinated actions were to be difficult on a national level because of the emphasis on autonomy and lack of centralised resources, the outstanding feature of the CNT would be its combativity and emphasis on solidarity. Particular stress was placed on looking after prisoners and the cultural and moral elevation of the working class, hence an intense interest in setting up rationalist schools.

Within days of being founded the CNT was suppressed after its involvement in a general strike in opposition to the Moroccan War and in solidarity with strikers in Bilbao. The assassination of the Prime Minister, Canelejos, by an anarchist and a wave of strikes in Barcelona in 1912 ensured the union remained illegal until 1914.

The beginning of the war found the CNT in disarray, with barely 15,000 members. The pro-war stance of several leading anarchists internationally, in particular Kropotkin, dismayed many Spanish anarchists, the majority of whom were firmly opposed to the conflict and advocated revolutionary defeatism. The socialists, despite Spain’s neutrality, took up the allied cause as being on the side of progress and democracy, and further embittered the traditional rivalry with their anarchist counterparts.

Food shortages and speculation produced a growing working class opposition to the authorities and by 1916 both the CNT and the UGT were expanding. Rank and file pressure for union co-operation was now growing and led to the Pact of Saragossa in July 1916 between the two unions. This resulted in Spain’s first nationally co-ordinated general strike on 16 December 1916. The protest, over price rises, however made little impact on the government.

Revolutionary crisis 1917–1923

In 1917 political corruption, economic crisis, Catalan regionalism, dissatisfaction in the army, the international context and a resurgent workers movement combined to produce a near revolutionary situation. A movement for liberalisation culminated in a national assembly of republican and Catalan deputies in Barcelona in July. This was accompanied in the Catalan region by a somewhat haphazard general strike organised by the CNT in solidarity. The ensuing street battles and failure of the strike are described by one participant, Victor Serge, in his book, Birth of Our Power.

More seriously, the socialists, who were particularly keen to see the establishment of a republic as the first stage of the ‘bourgeois revolution’ prevailed on the CNT, on the basis of the Pact of Saragossa, to organise jointly a revolutionary general strike. Anarcho-syndicalist elements in the CNT saw this as a step towards social revolution, rather than just a democratic reform. The government, foreseeing the danger in such a proposed national strike, decided to provoke it before it was properly organised. To achieve this they intervened in the UGT’s railwaymen’s strike, quietly discouraging the employers from negotiating with the workers. Victimisation of the strikers by the bosses followed and a solidarity strike was then called for August 13. The UGT intent on using peaceful tactics were met by repression. The CNT sensing the time was not right only half-heartedly joined in and the strike was defeated within three days in most areas, leaving 70 dead, hundreds wounded and thousands arrested.

This strike was important in that it saw an early end to UGT-CNT collaboration. The UGT viewed the debacle as proof of the incorrectness of the general strike tactic. The CNT saw the socialists’ woefully inadequate tactics and the complete lack of support from bourgeois republicans as proof of the uselessness of collaboration with ‘political’ organisations. Government intransigence and repression strengthened the CNT’s desire to use revolutionary methods. Also, the strike pushed the frightened Catalan industrialists firmly into Madrid’s arms and dispelled any remaining illusions about the loyalty of the Army.

In spite of this defeat the news of the Russian Revolution had as great an impact in Spain as elsewhere [2]; in particular in the southern countryside in the huge latifundia estates of Andalucia where economic and social conditions were already ripe for revolt. The news, however partial and distorted, especially of the Bolshevik land programme, was the spark to set alight a three year period of unprecedented unrest in a region that had been subdued for over 10 years.

As if from nowhere, strikes, often accompanied by insurrections and the taking over of whole districts, spread like wildfire. In many places demands for the end of piecework and for union recognition were common, but in others workers struck only for ‘libertarian communism’. In perhaps a hundred Andalucian towns ‘true experiments in the collective expropriation of capitalist wealth took place’. Eyewitnesses recorded the astonishing thirst for revolutionary literature amongst the generally illiterate rural poor and how the ‘social question’ dominated all conversations. [3]

The movement reached a climax in spring 1919, when three general strikes swept the region. Finally in May, 20,000 troops were sent by Madrid to pacify the area. Meanwhile the agitation had spread to other parts of Spain. Both socialists and anarchists gained from this general surge of activity and organisation. The Andalucian CNT grew rapidly to over 100,000 by the end of 1919.

However while anarchist philosophy and tactics related, in many ways, to the desperate socio-economic conditions of the southern rural masses, and this enabled their ideas to spread quickly, the downturn by 1921 saw the equally fast demise of many workers organisations. The problem of creating stable revolutionary organisation would be posed anew during the Republic.

The post-war period not only saw the massive growth of the CNT, but also increasing ideological divisions in its ranks between ‘pure’ syndicalists, who wanted a more explicitly trade union type organisation, and anarcho-syndicalists. The latter, always in a majority, pressed home their advantage at the Catalan CNT congress of Sans in June 1918. Here the decision was taken to form industrial based sindicatos unicos, to break down craft differences in one factory. This new structure was to be decisive in the coming wave of strikes in Catalonia, ensuring the totality of any stoppage. Also, it supposedly increased the fighting effectiveness of the union because it meant that the poorly paid unskilled workers could exert a radicalising influence over any craft elite. Although the Sans congress did not adopt libertarian communism as its aim, it did elect an openly anarchist regional committee. Following the congress there was a massive recruitment campaign and Catalan membership grew from 75,000 to 350,000 in six months. Women were granted membership for the first time.

The 1918 congress was the forerunner for the famous Madrid national congress in December 1919, when the CNT, at the peak of its revolutionary activities, declared itself openly for libertarian communism, though with little clarity as to what this would entail. The industrial structure adopted a year before in Catalonia also became nationally accepted. The atmosphere was of revolutionary euphoria. The CNT, now claiming over 700,000 members (420,000 in Catalonia alone), rejected a proposal of unity with the UGT, demanding instead that the now much smaller socialist union should join the CNT. This was also the high water mark of the CNT’s love affair with the Bolshevik revolution, and provisional affiliation to the Comintern was passed overwhelmingly. However the growing breach between the syndicalists and the anarchists was left unhealed.

It was in Barcelona, by far the biggest industrial centre of Spain, and stronghold of the CNT, that anarcho-syndicalism faced its first real test. During the wartime expansion Barcelona had been flooded with immigrants from rural areas such as the Levante and Murcia. It was these volatile masses, at first often used as scabs, that were to become the backbone of a truely revolutionary CNT. Their massive influx into the union between 1918–19 positively tipped the balance against the moderate syndicalist leadership. But it was the objective situation that rapidly led to a rise in the CNT’s fortunes. A combination of a growing political and economic crisis, the revolutionary wave shaking Europe and a new militant ‘unsophisticated’ labour force, radicalised not only the workers organisations but also the employers. The latter’s intransigence was of great importance in the explosive situation which then existed in Barcelona.

The dispute that tested the CNT’s new strength was in the Anglo-Canadian hydro-electric company, known as ‘La Canadiense’. The plant contained one of the strongest sindicatos unicos in Barcelona. The dispute started over wage cuts for office staff, but soon involved all the plant after employers victimized eight workers. The CNT quickly spread the struggle to other sectors, including on 17 February the important textile industry. By late February, despite troops being sent into the power stations, 70% of all industry in Barcelona remained paralysed. Martial law was declared. On March 6 a ‘red censorship’ was imposed by the print workers against articles hostile to the strike. This meant that when the government tried to break the strike by conscripting the power workers, the proclamation did not appear in the papers! When the authorities finally did issue it the rail and trolley-bus workers joined the strike in retaliation. After 44 days and government intervention there was finally a settlement on March 17. This allowed for a wage rise, an eight hour day, payment for days lost during the strike and the reinstatement of the strikers. This agreement applied to most of the workers who had taken solidarity action and not just the ‘La Canadiense’ workers.

This otherwise historic victory was to be marred by the fact that only some of the workers imprisoned during the dispute were released, those on trial remaining in custody. The anarcho-syndicalists were now in full stride. Recent events in Andalusia and riots in Madrid strengthened their belief that the revolution was imminent. On March 20, the moderate syndicalist leader Salvador Segui had great difficulty in persuading a tumultuous meeting of 25,000 workers to accept the deal. The anarchists successfully insisted on an ultimatum to the authorities to release the remaining prisoners. Predictably this did not happen and on 24 March a general strike was declared. But the anarchists had overplayed their hand, and this time the state struck back vigorously, employing a full range of repression, including troops. By April 14 the strike had petered out and until August the Barcelona workers movement suffered severely with up to 43,000 arrested.

However the CNT, strong and resilient, survived. Autumn 1919 saw a government attempt at conciliation, with the setting up of mixed arbitration commissions in which the moderate syndicalists participated, and 70,000 workers got their jobs back. At the same time Spain became the first country in the world to legislate the eight hour day – such was the pressure of the workers movement. Simultaneously the rapacious Catalan employers Federation, opposed to concessions, had decided to declare war on the CNT and on November 25, 1919, locked-out 200,000 workers until January 26, 1920.

The lock-out seriously weakened the CNT. Moderates like Segui now lost more ground and the younger anarcho-syndicalists, increasingly turning to tactics of ‘direct action’, gained influence. Soon constitutional guarantees were suspended and the large scale arrests of militants began again. The employers combined their offensive with the setting up, with church assistance, of the notorious Sindicatos Libres (free unions). Various gangsters and international mercenaries – who had congregated in the Catalan port during the war – were now hired as hitmen for the bosses and their new ‘unions’. Faced with these attacks and the equally murderous activities of the police, the anarchists were determined to fight back. The war of the pistoleros had begun.

Following the lockouts, repression against the anarcho-syndicalists in Barcelona reached new heights when in November 1920 the new civil governor Martinez Anido began his two year reign. Within 36 hours of him taking over 21 leading CNT members were murdered. Political assassination was becoming a daily event as the anarcho-syndicalist pistoleros, often recruited from the swelling ranks of the unemployed hit back. In the next 16 months, with armed attacks taking place daily, 230 people died in Barcelona alone. Many anarchists fell victim to the police’s Ley de Fuegos – ‘shot trying to escape’. The pistolero war not only meant a high toll in life but created an atmosphere of illegality. ‘Everyone from Cortes deputies to Anarchist militants pocketed revolvers, and almost every large organisation had some kind of paramilitary force at its disposal.’ [4]

In this desperate situation the younger anarcho-syndicalists took control, pushing the syndicalists even further into the background. The ‘action groups’, although probably never involving more than 200 militants, began to dominate the CNT. This new wave of activists included many future heroes of the Republic like Buenaventura Durruti and Juan Garcia Oliver. Living on the edges of society, paid by the CNT, they exacted class justice by means of armed force or expropriation.

By 1923 the state’s war had taken its toll on the CNT’s ranks, despite the incredible tenacity the organisation had shown. Days lost through strikes had fallen from its 1920 peak of 7,300,000 to just over 3,000,000, while the number of armed attacks had increased tenfold. [5] Primo de Rivera’s coup in September 1923 found the CNT in complete disarray.

The activities of the action groups symbolized the audacity of the anarcho-syndicalists, but also their lack of a political alternative. During this crucial period the CNT had led some of the most tenacious and militant struggles in working class history, but at the end of the day failed to translate this revolutionary enthusiasm into workers’ power. Faced with state terrorism their recourse to counter-terror only intensified the repression and further exposed the union’s militants to both legal and illegal sanctions. Mass trade union organisation was relegated to the sidelines as the initiative passed to small, often isolated, armed groups; and in the process the gap between the CNT and Bolshevism became more and more apparent.

The Spanish CP (PCE) failed, despite favourable circumstances, to build a mass following in this period. This was due partly to their own tactical mistakes, i.e. ultra-leftism, partly to their failure to split a significant section of the Socialist Party (PSOE), but above all because of the grip the CNT maintained over the most militant workers. The CNT’s support for the Revolution during the highpoint of the post-war crisis 1918–20, meant they captured many workers sympathetic to Russia. In the downturn 1921–23 the newly unified PCE could not break the masses loyalty to the CNT.

However a pro-Bolshevik faction did arise in the CNT, the ‘communist-syndicalists’. These were led by two young teachers, the future POUM leaders, Andres Nin and Joaquin Maurin. Their faction actually won control of the crucial Catalan regional committee from spring 1921 until spring 1922, when the other leaders had been imprisoned or murdered. During this time they were instrumental in affiliating the whole CNT to the Red International of Labour Unions.

The communist-syndicalists gained an influence way out of proportion to their size. Unlike the other pro-Bolsheviks in the CNT this faction was sympathetic to Leninism. They had a fairly pragmatic approach to doctrinal problems, but placed great stress on the need for labour unity. Although the CNT finally broke with Moscow in 1922, the communist-syndicalists did not join the Madrid-based PCE. Nevertheless they formed the Grupos Sindicales Rojos (Red Trade Union Groups) with the communists who were expelled from the UGT in late 1922. However the collapse of the CNT in 1922 and the coming of the dictatorship a year later only combined to diminish the pro-Bolsheviks’ influence. The rump of the communist-syndicalists was to form the Catalan Federation of the PCE, and led a semi-autonomous life until they departed in 1930, eventually to form Maurin’s Worker’s and Peasant’s Bloc (BOC).

Against the Republic 1931–1936

Forty seven years of sham democracy gave way, with the King’s blessing, in September 1923 to the inept dictatorship of General Primo de Riviera.

During the next seven years the CNT was effectively repressed. However the regime favoured co-opting the socialist movement, which most socialist leaders accepted, seeing this as a chance to strengthen themselves at the cost of their rivals. The future ‘Spanish Lenin’ Largo Caballero became Minister of Labour, and from this vantage point used the new arbitration system to benefit the UGT. This policy of collaboration not only embittered the anarcho-syndicalists, but eventually Largo Caballero’s own supporters. In the late twenties the socialists deserted the increasingly unpopular regime to join the republicans in plotting its downfall. The anarchists role was confined to a few strikes in this period, though the CNT leadership, now again in the hands of moderates like Angel Pestana and Juan Peiro, did co-operate with the republicans.

The regime’s collapse was more through internal divisions and inefficiency than mass opposition. For Spanish anarchism, the most significant event of these years was the founding of the Iberian Anarchist Federation, the FAI.

The FAI’s founding congress in July 1927 was attended by only 50 militants, mostly lesser-known figures from rural areas. The aim was to unite the various disparate anarchist groups throughout the peninsular in order to strengthen libertarian influences particularly within the CNT. Initially theoretical questions preoccupied the new organisation and this was reflected in the founding congress, where discussion ranged from vegetarianism, the use of Esparanto through to the prohibition of tobacco and alcohol. The FAI therefore embodied many of the traditional ideas of nineteenth century Spanish anarchism. Moreover the FAI’s importance was to be in its role as the movement’s vanguard, or in reality its ‘political’ wing. It was also very much part of the workers movement during the Republic – for example Durruti, one of its most outstanding leaders, when not in jail, worked in a Barcelona textile factory. The French syndicalist Robert Louzon described ‘FAIism’ as ‘peasant rebellion raised to the level of working class struggle ... which is to some extent systematized and theorized’. [6] By 1931 the FAI was still largely unknown but it grew rapidly in the early months of the Republic, soon claiming up to 60,000 members organised in ‘affinity groups’.

The CNT’s leaders greeted the advent of the Republic on April 14, 1931, with guarded ambivalence. In general they believed bourgeois democracy would be preferable to dictatorship. Despite traditional libertarian abstentionist attitudes many militants voted in the municipal elections of April 12th and the national poll in June, hence helping to secure a republican-socialist victory.

However within weeks of the fall of the monarchy, the class struggle exploded with a vengeance. After eight years of submission the workers expected great things from the regime. The CNT was soon leading a whole number of bitter strikes across the country. The most important dispute was that of the telephone workers, who struck for pay increases and against victimisation. Solidarity actions were organised, the climax being a general strike in Seville on July 20, where artillery was used to attack the CNT headquarters. The strike was eventually smashed through straight repression and the UGT forming a breakaway union. This strike alone left 30 dead, over 200 wounded and 2000 imprisoned.

In these circumstances the CNT’s flirtation with the republic ended very quickly. The action-men of the FAI saw their influence grow rapidly and anti-socialist feeling reached a new pitch because of the socialists’ connivance with the Government. The stage was set for the first of the FAI’s insurrections against the regime. This took place in the Catalan mining region of Alto Llobregat, where for five days in January 1932, the miners took over a number of villages and declared libertarian communism. Troops were quickly despatched and after some resistance the movement was crushed. There were a few solidarity strikes but the struggle failed to spread. Significantly one group of miners in Salient faced with the problem of Power, set up a revolutionary committee whose role was clearly political and authoritarian, the antithesis of anarchist doctrine.

The uprising in general was typical of the FAI’s ‘putchism’ during the Republic – ill-prepared and lacking in any overall strategical view. The highly localised nature of such actions was reminiscent of the rural anarchist revolts of the last century and the Trieno Bolshevism. While reflecting the revolutionary mood of many workers, their efforts were soon dissipated and the end result was more repression.

The more moderate syndicalists met this new growth of anarchist militancy with a manifesto, signed by 30 leading CNT members, published in August 1931. Essentially they wanted to return to a more traditional trade union-type organisation which took up day to day issues. They argued that neither was the situation ripe for revolution nor could such a revolution be the work of an audacious minority, but needed proper preparation. In fact they argued that the FAI’s tactics could lead to fascism. They were also in favour of national federations of industry which could fight the capitalists on a more efficient and centralised basis. This proposal was discussed at the CNT’s congress in June 1931 and because the moderates still held sway then, the idea was approved in principle, but never carried over into practice. The ‘FAIstas’ opposed such developments as leading to a dangerous bureaucratisation.

Garcia Oliver accused the Treintistas, as they became known, of being unable to keep up with events in a rapidly deteriorating socio-economic situation. If the CNT abandoned a revolutionary line then there would be a vacuum which either communism or fascism would fill.

The uprising of January 1932, brought to a head the growing battle between the two factions. Treintista and CNT leader Pestaña aroused much bitterness by refusing to support the rising or call solidarity strikes with those imprisoned.

Meanwhile the FAI took over the important Baracelona CNT newspaper Solidaridad Obrera. During 1932 FAI influence increased in the CNT resulting in a number of Treintista controlled unions in Catalonia and the Levante leaving the CNT. The final split came in April 1933, a new uprising that January being the last straw. The Treintista opposition unions formed their own organisation which along with various other ex-CNT unions, who were either autonomous or under BOC control, amounted to over 60,000 workers. Interestingly most of the ex-CNT unions organised the Catalan speaking workers, reflecting, according to one socialist, a certain anti-Catalanist bias in the ‘immigrant dominated’ FAI. [7]

During the early years of the Republic the CNT grew enormously, to a pre-civil war peak of 1,200,000 in 1932. The socialists also enjoyed a membership boom, benefiting in some ways from their control of the new arbitration system set up by Labour Minister Largo Caballero. However faced with an intransigent bourgeoisie at home and an international capitalist crisis, the government was incapable of solving even the most minimal of Spain’s socio-economic problems. Soon they reverted to crushing the workers movement, and considerable repressive legislation was introduced in order to fight the CNT.

In January 1933 another FAI backed uprising broke out this time mainly centred in parts of Catalonia, Valencia and Andalusia. This otherwise abortive attempt became famous following the massacre, by Republican Assault Guards, of 21 peasants in the Andalucian village of Casas Viejas. The scandal which followed, skilfully exploited by the Right, contributed to the downfall of the socialist-republican coalition. Following the insurrection there was a massive CNT-FAI propaganda campaign against the government and a series of bitter solidarity strikes over repression and victimisation. The latter only weakened the CNT and led to further sanctions. In most areas CNT offices and newspapers were closed, and at least 9,000 militants imprisoned.

In the summer of 1933 the government coalition fell into crisis, partly because of growing rank and file socialist dissatisfaction with the regime – and elections were called for November 1933. The CNT’s response was unequivocal: for a complete boycott. A massive ‘Do not vote’ campaign was launched, the tone of which was summed up by the newspaper Tierra y Libertad,

‘Workers! Don’t vote! The vote is a negation of your personality ... all the politicians are enemies ... we need neither a state nor a government ... Do not be concerned whether Left or Right emerge triumphant from this farce ... Parliament ... is a filthy house of prostitution ... Destroy the ballots! Destroy the ballot boxes ... crack the heads of the ballot supervisors as well as the candidates!’ [8]

This campaign deprived the Left of at least 500,000 votes and was an important contributory factor to their defeat.

The election saw the triumph of the Centre-Right. But the largest party in the new parliament was Gil Robles’ CEDA – a party similar to Dolfuss’ clerical reactionaries in Austria and seen by many as the precursors of fascism. The CNT had threatened that if the Right won they would organise the revolution. True to their word yet another insurrection was launched on December 8th. This was the most serious armed struggle yet, but again it was fragmented and badly prepared. The movement was limited principally to Aragon and Rioja, mainly because elsewhere the organisation was too weak following months of repression. In a typical statement the FAI declared ‘all those who do not co-operate in the armed insurrection are traitors!’ Libertarian communism was declared in a number of villages – before the uprising was inevitably crushed. Over a hundred workers were killed, thousands arrested and the CNT made illegal.

The combination of increased repression following December 1933 and the departure of various unions from their ranks, left the CNT seriously weakened by early 1934. However this did not prevent the CNT from organising various solidarity actions, the most impressive being the 36 day Saragossa general strike, one of the longest and most complete in history, during April and May 1934.

Meanwhile the radicalisation of the socialists continued. The victory of the CEDA represented a serious step towards fascism, in the PSOE Left’s opinion. The unlikely and ageing figure of Largo Caballero became the leader of this new movement, pragmatic to the last, he realised that in order to keep his rank and file in tow, a new ‘revolutionary’ policy was needed. Despite much of his talk being purely rhetorical, it did represent a significant shift to the left by the socialist masses. This was a shift that most anarcho-syndicalists seemed unprepared to acknowledge.

The socialists at this time were involved in organising ‘Workers Alliances’ with essentially the Treintistas, the BOC and several smaller organisations. The ostensible aim of the Alliances was to defend the working class from fascism by organising the revolution. However the majority of the CNT dismissed the alliances as irrelevant and ‘political’. This hostility was not surprising given socialist complicity in the last government and the lack of solidarity during the December uprising. Also the Alliance in Catalonia was supported by organisations connected to the local government, the Generalitat, which was busy carrying out its own war against the CNT Added to this they did not take the socialists’ revolutionism seriously, especially after the debacle of the socialist land workers strike of June 1934, when the UGT refused to call for solidarity action.

Only in the northern province of Asturias, where there was a long tradition of CNT-UGT co-operation in the mines, did the CNT, much to the FAI’s disgust, join the Alliance. In October the CEDA finally entered the government and the socialists having threatened action for so long were compelled to act. Reluctantly they called a general strike. It was badly organised and there was little response In Barcelona the movement, without CNT help, was condemned to failure (though in Madrid and in some Catalan towns the local CNT did in fact join the strike). Asturias was another story. Here the miners, led by a united workers movement, took over the region for three weeks and mobilized 15,000 ‘armed’ workers. Hopelessly isolated the ‘Asturian commune’ eventually fell after heroic resistance to Franco’s Foreign Legion and Moors, who proceeded to enact a brutal repression, leaving up to 3,000 dead, many from torture.

The CNT saved its honour in Asturias, but not so elsewhere. Obsessed with hatred for the socialists and ‘politicians’ they ordered workers back to work in some cases, and in Angulo (Catalonia) the FAI actually offered to defend a factory for the boss. October was a missed opportunity for the anarcho-syndicalists, who again lacked the theoretical consistency to capitalize on the growing leftism of the socialists, and hence strengthen the revolution by means of a genuine, unsectarian, united front. However one cannot overlook the dubious intentions of the socialist leaders, who thinking that threats alone would prevent the CEDA’s entrance into government, played at revolution. October was not an outright defeat, but served to stiffen the backs of tens of thousands of workers. The polarisation of Spanish society had reached its zenith, the lines were drawn for civil war.

Although 1935 saw a significant downturn in the whole workers movement, subject as it was to much repression, it remained intact. Also the shock of October curtailed some of the CEDA’s authoritarian ambitions. In December 1935, following a new governmental crisis, elections were called for February 16.

The Left entered the elections united behind the Popular Front programme. This programme was mild in extreme, but such was the desire to get rid of the old government and more importantly to release 30,000 prisoners held since October 1934, that the compromises were seen necessary by many because the electoral system so heavily favoured coalitions.

The CNT, slightly mellowed by their experiences, opted not to organise a boycott campaign. This was tantamount to asking their members to go to the polls, and any other policy in fact would have been rejected by the rank and file, eager to see an amnesty. During the election campaign however, the CNT made it clear that social revolution still remained on the agenda. ‘The worker who votes,’ declared Durruti, ‘and then quietly returns home will be a counter revolutionary; so will the worker who does not vote but nonetheless refuses to fight.’ [9]

In the event the Left won an overwhelming victory in terms of seats, votes being more evenly cast. The working class had turned out en masse, not for the Popular Front programme, but to kick out the reactionaries and see their comrades freed.

Within hours of the Left’s victory the masses, not waiting for any legislation, stormed the jails and released the prisoners. The Popular Front’s triumph heralded an unprecedented upsurge of working class struggle. Throughout Spain workers struck for better wages and reinstatement of those victimised in the last two years. A massive wave or land occupations led to a near revolutionary situation in the southern countryside. As in 1931 there was convent and church burning.

The new exclusively Republican government soon reverted to repression. The ruling class now turned from any pretence to legalism and actively began plotting a military coup. The government fearing social revolution more than counter-revolution refused to deal with the plotters, let alone arm the workers as both the CNT and UGT demanded.

At the beginning of May 1936 the CNT celebrated its national congress in Saragossa. Delegates representing 550,595 workers assembled. They were joined by the Treintistas representing another 69,621, who had decided to re-join the fold. Heavy emphasis was placed on the nature of libertarian-communism. ‘Unity’ was the watchword of the congress, but little time was spent on the possible coup d’etat and the threat of fascism. However a decision to form a militia was taken in line with similar developments in the Socialist and Communist parties. The growth of the Stalinists and the fascist Falange and the critical international situation was not discussed. At the end of the day, the FAI was in fact strengthened, the Treintistas seemingly going along with the militant and revolutionary mood.

By mid-June things had reached bursting point. Since the elections an estimated 269 had been killed, 1,287 wounded, 381 buildings attacked or damaged, 43 newspaper offices ransacked, and 146 bombs exploded. The near civil war on the streets was augmented by a new strike wave. In June the particularly bitter Madrid building workers strike not only led to frequent clashes with the authorities and the Falange, but also between the CNT and the UGT when the latter settled separately. The government’s reaction, typically, was to close down the CNT’s offices, censor its press and imprison its militants. On the day before the Generals uprising on July 18, the front pages of the CNT’s press appeared with blank spaces – cut out by the censor was a warning of the imminence of the coup!

War and revolution

The Generals revolt in July 1936 was largely a failure. They were left with less than a third of Spain, all the major centres being in the hands of the Republic. They were defeated by the workers own initiative and courage, independent of the government who still tried to appease the rebels for several days after the initial uprising.

The workers had taken to the streets with or without arms and were soon masters of the situation. Real power lay in their hands, no more so than in Catalonia where the CNT held sway. Inevitably this was no homogeneous revolution; ‘power existed in countless fragments and was scattered in a thousand towns and villages, among revolutionary committees that had instituted control over post and telegraph offices, radio stations and telephone exchanges, organised police and tribunals, highway and frontier patrols, transport and created militia units for the battlefronts.’ [10]

The framework of power was to prove the central problem of the revolutionary forces. The CNT, FAI, Socialist Left and the POUM, all had distinct ideas as to the nature of this power. The Socialist Left, which controlled the UGT, had spontaneously seized factories and armed themselves, but were ideologically confused and divided. The anti-Stalinist POUM, who did see the need to generalise and centralise the revolution, were too small and limited to Catalonia. The most important organisations, the CNT and FAI, thought the problem would solve itself. Within hours of the workers taking Barcelona the CNT and FAI leaders were to accept the offer of President Companys, of the Generalitat, to continue in office. Respite both the central government and the Generalitat being powerless throughout the summer, with the bulk of the economy being under worker’s control, and with the creation of the militias and the overnight collapse the old state machine; nothing was done to consolidate this new power on centralised basis and push to one side the last vestiges of the old state. Instead the old institutions existed side by side with the new. In fact the government ‘legitimised’ many of the revolutionary gains, hence giving it a sense of authority. But this situation could not last.

The CNT decided to collaborate with other organisations in order to defeat fascism. In Catalonia, where the central Anti-Fascist Militia Committee (AFMC) was the only real authority, for the sake of unity the CNT allowed an equal representation to the locally weak UGT and the newly created Unified Socialist Party (PSUC – the Catalan CP). The CNT hoped that this would allow reciprocal agreements in other areas where they were weaker. The structure of the AFMC was reflected in many towns and villages where revolutionary committees were usually based on delegates from different organisations rather than mass consensus.

Militias were hastily formed along party lines, with each organisation having its own supply system, communications and command structure. The anarchist militias were thoroughly democratic, delegates being elected to coordinate activities. There were no formal ranks and no differences in conditions of pay. Initially the Catalan militias swept westwards into Aragon, but the advance soon stopped due both to lack of munitions and organisational problems – especially discipline. Nevertheless, Aragon became a revolutionary stronghold and a major thorn in the Madrid government’s side.

Very soon the real dilemma of how the war should be fought was being posed. For the CNT, FAI and POUM it was inseparable from the social revolution. For the republicans, the right-wing socialists and the Stalinists the defeat of fascism had to take precedence and the revolution at least hidden, if not actually stopped, in order to win military supplies from the western democracies. The counter-revolutionary line was championed by the Communist Party whose influence grew rapidly because of their emphasis on law, order and the defence of property, the arrival of Russian aid, and their organisational abilities.

But the stalemate had to finish; above all the deteriorating military situation demanded it. So on September 4 a new government replaced the ineffectual all-republican one. This was headed by the hero of the socialist left. Largo Caballero, and included both republicans and communists. Largo Caballero was well suited for the job, his leftist rhetoric appealed to militant workers, and the Right hoped to use him to re-establish order. But to dismantle the revolution effectively, the CNT and FAI themselves would have to be dragged into the government too.

It soon became apparent to the CNT and FAI, that some kind of centralised effort and co-ordination was needed if Franco was to be halted. In Catalonia in late September a new ‘Generalitat Council’ was formed with CNT and POUM participation. Seeing no alternative, the CNT agreed to dismantle the Anti-Fascist Militia Committee. They hoped that this new collaboration would enable them to acquire from Madrid financial aid for the collectives and much needed supplies for the Aragon front. They did not see it as a capitulation to bourgeois government, but a new stage in anti-fascist unity.

Collaboration at a national level was another matter. Here the implications were far clearer. On September 17 the CNT Regional Plenum launched a campaign for a joint CNT-UGT ‘National Defence Council’, to organise both the war and the revolution. The POUM welcomed this development as the demand for a workers government, by a different name. However as the CNT were a minority outside of Catalonia they found the idea blocked by the reformists and republicans. New defeats and the growing threat to Madrid, served to encourage collaboration; increasingly, CNT leaders, especially ex-Treintistas, came out in favour of entering the government. Meanwhile Largo Caballero kept places open for them in his cabinet. Finally they agreed to enter in early November, in order that they were not kept ‘on the margins of the leadership of Spanish public life’. [11]

The decision was taken by a special meeting of 3–400 CNT and FAI representatives in Barcelona on November 3rd. Though they entered with reservations, it was deemed necessary to prevent defeat. Four anarchists took places in the cabinet, two ex-Treintistas, and more significantly, two FAI leaders, Frederica Montseny and Garcia Oliver. There had been no consultation with the rank and file but there was obviously widespread support for the move. [12] The extent to which the CNT and FAI had strayed from traditional anarchist principles was reflected by leading anarchist Diego Abad de Santillan, who wrote at the time,

’Circumstances have changed the nature of the Spanish government and state. The government has ceased to be a force of oppression against the working class, just as the state is no longer the entity that divides society into classes. Both will stop oppressing the people all the more with the inclusion of the CNT among their organs.’ [13]

In the aftermath of July much of industry and the land was taken over, as owners fled or were executed. In some cases various forms of worker’s control were exercised alongside the old management. But just as common was ‘socialisation’ or collectivisation. The collectives were one of the most outstanding features of the Spanish revolution, and they were invariably under anarcho-syndicalist inspiration. Throughout Republican Spain an estimated 1,865 collectives were formed, involving between 1,280,000 and 1,600,000 people out of a working population of 5–6 million. In Barcelona collectivisation extended from barbers to textiles, from cinemas to boot-blacks. The centre of agrarian collectivisation was in Aragon where the triumphant anarchist militias turned every village into a ‘bastion of the revolution’ by aiding local peasants to collectivize. An estimated 450 collectives were set up in Aragon, involving 430,000 peasants and covering three-quarters of the land. In many villages money was abolished and a system of vouchers enabled people to receive goods on the basis of their needs.

However, the collectives were beset with problems. The individual takeover of firms or areas of land was not enough, there was still the problems of credit, foreign currency, raw materials, distribution and the building of a war industry. Many collectives existed on makeshift methods, such as seizing bank accounts or surviving on liquid assets taken after the revolution. The question of political power directly impinged on the efforts of the workers. CNT plans for economic centralisation and the work of the Catalan Economic Council collapsed in the face of the Madrid government’s control of finance.

Because of the fragmented nature of the take-overs wages differed from enterprise to enterprise. The inevitable result was both rich and poor collectives. Not only this, given the emphasis on autonomy, what the POUM described as ‘trade union capitalism’ developed with different enterprises competing on an uneven basis. Individual concerns were often seen as the ‘property’ of the local union, and not part of a centralized revolutionary effort. These developments of course could not be separated from the general development of the CNT and its attempts to organise the economic revolution without the corresponding seizure of political power. Indeed some CNT militants later complained that ‘the whole union became like a large firm. Its structure grew increasingly rigid. From the outside it began to look like an American or German trust. From within, while the workers had the possibility of expressing their criticisms and needs, it was difficult to secure any changes they wanted.’ [14]

Also it was undoubtedly true, though not on the scale claimed by Stalinist propaganda, that in some areas peasants were forced against their will to collectivise. This combined with the inevitable economic hardships of war, active government sabotage in many cases, and the disputed productivity of these concerns, easily created an atmosphere where the Communist Party and their allies could launch a counter-offensive against workers’ control of the economy. The collectives were both a monument to the anarchists’ initiative and revolutionary enthusiasm, and to the inadequacies of their philosophy.

With CNT-FAI participation in the government, the destruction of the revolution had accelerated. Not only were the revolutionary committees disbanded, but gradually so too was the system of revolutionary justice inaugurated in July. In September a new unified police force was set up in which it was forbidden to belong to a political organisation – a move supported by the CNT who mistakenly believed it would prevent the spreading of Stalinist influence. Gradually behind the lines authority was being re-established, the Communist Party in particular, aided greatly by the influx of Russian aid and advisors, was getting stronger all the time. [15]

But the crux of the counter-revolution was the disarming of the workers. The pretext for this was clear – the militias, despite their heroism were grossly inadequate in dealing with Franco’s well-equipped and advancing armies. A centralized and united war effort was obviously needed. CNT and FAI militants had no alternative to the militia system; the rest, following the logic of collaboration, acquiesced to demands to set up a traditional and hierarchical army. Only the POUM argued for both a centralised and revolutionary army based on the model of the Bolshevik’s Red Army. The Militarization Decree was passed on September 30, 1936, from then on the militias were gradually integrated into the new army units.

Opposition to militarization was quite extensive in the anarchist ranks, but only a few units completely refused to give in, and were disbanded; some like the famous ‘Iron Column’ only after armed clashes with Communist Party forces. Most gave in because there seemed no other way to win the war. The CNT and FAI in fact sent delegates to the fronts to persuade their troops to accept militarization. The fact that such former firebrands as Garcia Oliver favoured the new policy and even helped organise an officer’s training academy for the new Popular Army, was an important factor in undermining opposition. The Catalan FAI themselves declared at their Regional Plenum in February 1937, that militarization was an urgent necessity following the fall of Malaga.

By March 1937, there was a growing social and economic crisis in Republican Spain. The Revolution was receding everywhere with the censoring and suspension of the revolutionary press becoming common. But a more decisive blow would be needed to finish off the revolutionary strongholds of Barcelona and Aragon. It was here that opposition to CNT and FAI collaboration was strongest.

On May 3rd forces controlled by the Catalan Communist Party moved to take the Barcelona Telephone exchange – a symbol of workers power in the city – from the CNT. Tension had been mounting for some weeks and this provocation immediately led to a general conflict. The workers, rank and file members of the CNT, FAI and POUM, took over the streets, and barricades covered the city. Opposed to them were the new police force and units loyal to the Communist Party and the Catalan republicans. During the next five days fighting nearly 500 lost their lives.

From the very start the CNT and FAI called for a ceasefire. Anarchist ministers Garcia Oliver and Montseny were rushed to the scene to persuade their militants to lay down their arms. The CNT were bitterly divided, many militants saw this as a chance to turn the tide against the counter-revolution and settle old scores. The CNT-FAI leaders, by now deeply committed to collaboration and a ‘war before revolution’ policy, saw no alternative but to end the strife immediately. For too long they had tried to keep some of their armed forces by temporising and feigning acceptance, now the crunch had come. However the atmosphere was such elsewhere in Spain that in Madrid the local CNT accepted Stalinist propaganda and described the uprising as the work of international fascism. [16]

As the anarchist leaders broadcast daily appeals on the radio for a ceasefire the struggle gradually abated. Garcia Oliver bemoaned, ‘... a wave of madness has passed through the town. We must put an immediate stop to this fratricidal struggle ...’ [17] It was indicative of rank and file faith in such figures that it was widely believed on the barricades that Garcia Oliver had been forced against his will to make such statements. On the streets the opposition to capitulation was led by the newly formed revolutionary anarchist group ‘The Friends of Durruti’, the Libertarian Youth, elements of the POUM and a handful of Trotskyists.

Immediately the May fighting stopped, 5,000 well armed police reinforcements occupied the city. The exact opposite of what the anarchist ministers had promised. This was the swansong of the revolution, now the purges began and the final touches applied to the process which had begun in September 1936.

In the aftermath of May a general and bloody purge was launched, directed by the Stalinists against the revolutionaries. The main targets being the POUM and militant anarchists like ‘The Friends of Durruti’, the latter having been denounced and disowned by the CNT and FAI. In the economy collectivisation was stopped, and many enterprises and lands returned to their former owners or nationalised. Strikes were forbidden and agreements broken. New security laws were passed strengthening the police and abolishing the remaining workers patrols. In August Enrique Lister led an expedition of Stalinist troops into Aragon, where he dispersed the anarchist dominated Regional Council and dismantled all anarchist strongholds. The remaining militias were militarised and the most militant troops either arrested, dispersed amongst other units or sent into battle without covering fire. The CNT and FAI found themselves out of the government, as did Largo Caballero, now replaced as prime minister by the more reliable right-wing socialist Negrin. The CNT and FAI press that remained was now censored more systematically than before. Indeed by the end of 1937 there were nearly as many anarchists in jail as there had been after October 1934.

As the war proceeded, collaboration turned to complete capitulation. The movement became deeply divided with some militants calling for a return to ‘anarchist orthodoxy’ and others claiming ‘apoliticism was dead’. In order to ‘placate the bourgeois democracies’ the CNT accepted one token portfolio in Negrin’s government in April 1938. A few days before the CNT had signed a formal alliance with the now Stalinist dominated UGT. The agreement recognised the authority of the state in such matters as nationalisation and the army – a complete negation of anarchist doctrine.

The extent to which these former revolutionaries had become absorbed into the system were reflected in their behaviour. Frederica Montseny asked for French support against the ‘Bodies’, claiming the war was being fought against ‘foreign invaders’. CNT army leader Cipriano Mera said he only wished to mix with officers and sergeants. Perhaps the most grotesque of all was the ‘personality cult’ which grew around Garcia Oliver. [18]

That a revolutionary strategy was a real alternative is discussed elsewhere; suffice to say the effect of the counter-revolution on morale was profound. A policy of subordinating military strategy to winning bourgeois democratic support directly affected the military conduct of the war; it meant no independence for Morocco; the Spanish fleet being kept in dock; no vital arms and supplies for revolutionary Aragon and Asturias etc. Russian aid was only enough to prolong the war while Stalin was trying to make new pacts with the West, and the use and distribution of aid was strictly controlled by Russian agents. An orthodox military strategy was futile against Franco’s Italian and German backed army, but guerrilla warfare was not developed because of the political connotations. Attempts to win Western aid were doomed from the start, because their government’s realized that when the chips were down Franco rather than Negrin was the best bet for Spanish capitalism.

The failure of anarcho-syndicalism

So why then did the CNT crumble so abjectly when faced with their greatest revolutionary opportunity? The answer must be found in the inadequacies of anarchist theory, and not simply as some ‘purer’ anarchists claimed because their principles were abandoned. As the ‘Friends of Durruti’ put it, ‘the CNT was utterly devoid of revolutionary theory. We did not have a concrete programme. We had no idea where we were going ... or what to do with our masses of workers ... we had spent year after year speculating around abstractions.’ [19]

Only this can begin to explain how the anarcho-syndicalists vacillated between petty bourgeois opportunism and wild ultra-left adventurism. Their insurrectionism exposed the workers movement to unnecessary repression. They saw the world as divided not into classes, but into anarchists and non-anarchists. The revolution had to be started not only without the other workers, but if necessary against them. The insurrection was seen as something simple, an audacious blow against the system. At the same time their pragmatism could lead one leader to describe anarchist principles as ‘impractical when confronted with the tragic reality of a war like ours’. [20]

This putchism was combined with an often ludicrous apoliticism the result of which was a deeply sectarian attitude to non-anarchist workers during times of anarchist upsurge, such as in 1918–20 and 1931–33. ‘Fundamentally all politicians were alike,’ wrote the historian of the CNT, Jose Peirats, ‘there are no good and bad (ones) ... only bad ones and worse.’ [21] Such attitudes led them not to distinguish between political parties – they saw the struggle between the Catalan Communist Party and the POUM as a ‘family argument’. In 1934 with the radicalisation of many socialists and the creation of the Workers’ Alliance, the opportunities for a successful revolutionary movement had never been higher, but the CNT turned their backs on these developments. While this attitude was understandable given socialist complicity in earlier government repression, a united front with the socialist masses at this stage could have turned the Alliance into much more than a tool of the Socialist Party bureaucracy.

The real crux of the CNT’s failure was their attitude to the state. ‘There is no such thing as revolutionary power,’ wrote Peirats, ‘for all power is reactionary by nature.’ But the war effort demanded centralisation, the creation of an effective power. Unwilling to build a new revolutionary state, the anarcho-syndicalists found themselves accepting the old. Undoubtedly their participation in government was crucial to the destruction of the revolution and was seen as such by many militants retrospectively. The socialists understood this and were for CNT-FAI inclusion in the government because, ‘a considerable segment of the working class, now absent from (the government’s) deliberations would feel bound by its authority.’ [22] For the CNT power lay in the streets and factories alone. They were ‘... intoxicated with control of the militias and factories. They did not realize they had obtained this because the bourgeois state had collapsed after the insurrection and that (the government) could take it away from them again.’ [23]

It was their failure to create an alternative state, based on the armed power of the workers at the front, on the land and in the factories, which enabled the Communist Party and their allies to undermine the revolution with relative ease. As Trotsky put it,

‘To renounce the conquest of power is voluntarily to leave the power with those who wield it, the exploiters. The essence of every revolution consisted and consists in putting a new class in power, thus enabling it to realize its own programme in life. It is impossible to wage war and to reject victory. It is impossible to lead the masses towards insurrection without preparing for the conquest of power... In opposing the conquest of power the anarchists could not in the end fail to oppose the means, the revolution.’ [24]

During the Franco dictatorship the CNT was deeply divided and a shadow of its former self. In these bleak years they were only engaged in the occasional act of resistance, often that of the isolated guerrilla. Since the dictator’s death they have found it impossible to rebuild anything on a mass basis. Outside of Barcelona where they have a small working class base, they are engaged principally in alternative life style politics and so-called ‘marginal issues’ and split into numerous factions and tendencies.

Undoubtedly the CNT can claim a special place in working class history. Their initiative, courage and revolutionary militancy in the face of near continual repression make their experience instructive for revolutionaries today. They were far more than just a defensive trade union organisation but, ‘a living cell in the social organism, often mobilising the workers entire leisure.’ The spirit of Spanish anarcho-syndicalism is nowhere better encapsulated than in the words of Durruti, at the height of the revolution,

‘We are not the least afraid of ruins. We are going to inherit the earth. There is not the slightest doubt about that. The bourgeoisie might blast and ruin its own world before it leaves the stage of history, but we carry a new world here, in our hearts. That world is growing every minute.’

Like revolutionary marxists, the anarcho-syndicalists, saw the need to smash the state and favoured the creation of a classless society. But the crucial difference lies with the question of power – the need for a transitional workers’ state. This failure to grasp the political nature of the class struggle and its corresponding organisational forms – e.g. the revolutionary party – led to the CNT’s rapid demise during the Civil War. Indeed some anarchists, faced with their movement’s collapse in 1937, in particular the Friends of Durruti group, did grope instinctively towards revolutionary concepts of power and centralized organisation. By then, however, it was too late.


1. For example see: Temma Kaplan, Anarchists of Andalusia; Eric Hobsbawm, Primitive Rebels; J. Romero Maura, The Spanish Case, in D. Apter and J. Joll (eds.), Anarchism Today.

2. Although the workers ‘did not know the details of the act and did not know with precision either the victor’s ideology, but the certainty that a great nation had escaped from capitalism and the wage earners now governed, produced in all sections of the working class an indescribable enthusiasm (thus initiating) ... the most potent mass agitation ever registered in our country.’ Juan Diaz del Moral, Historia de las Agitaciones Campesinas Andaluzes, pp. 172–3.

3. ‘Those who were present at the time 1918–19 will never forget the astonishing spectacle. In the fields, in the shelters, and in the courtyards, wherever peasants gathered to talk, to everyone’s recurring delight there was one topic of conversation that was discussed seriously and fervently: the social question’. Ibid., pp. 173–4.

4. M. Bookchin, The Spanish Anarchists, p. 186.

5. Between 1918 and 1923, over 1,500 lives were lost in Spain through ‘political violence’, of which 900 were in Barcelona. This included one prime-minister, the Archbishop of Saragossa (assassinated by Durruti’s group), two former Civil Governors and nearly 300 employers.

6. Cited in P. Broué and E. Témime, The Revolution and Civil War in Spain, p. 56.

7. R. Vidiella, Causes del desarollo, apogeo y decadencia de la CNT, in Leviatan, No. 10, Feb. 1935.

8. Tierra y Libertad, 10 Nov. 1933.

9. Cited in R. Kern, Red Years Black Years, p. 141

10. B. Bolloten, The Spanish Revolution, p. 59.

11. Montseny, cited in J. Brademas, Anarcosindicalismo y revolucion en España, p. 219.

12. Ibid., p. 210.

13. Cited in Broué, op. cit., pp. 207–8.

14. R. Fraser, Blood of Spain, p. 222.

15. For the most thorough and well documented account of the Stalinists’ rise to power, see Bolloten, op. cit.

16. See Broué op. cit., p. 289.

17. Ibid., p. 284.

18. See V. Richards, Lessons of the Spanish Revolution, pp. 181–3.

19. ‘The Friends of Durruti Group’, Towards a fresh revolution, p. 23.

20. Cited in Bolloten, op. cit., p. 195.

21. J. Peirats, What is the CNT?, p. 60.

22. Claridad, 25 Oct. 1936.

23. F. Morrow, Revolution and Counter-Revolution in Spain, p. 102.

24. L. Trotsky, The Spanish Revolution, p. 316.

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Last updated: 19.8.2013