Published: in 1994 by AK Press.
Transcription: Spunk Library
These essays are less an analysis of the Spanish Revolution and Civil War of 1936-39 than an evocation of the greatest proletarian and peasant revolution to occur over the past two centuries. Although they contain a general overview and evaluation of the Anarchist and Anarchosyndicalist movements (the two should be clearly distinguished) in the three-year struggle at the end of the 1930s, they are not intended to be a full account of those complex events.
It is no exaggeration to say that the Spanish Revolution was the farthest-reaching movement that the Left ever produced, for reasons the essays that follow will make clear. The Spanish proletariat and peasantry, led largely by Anarchist militants whose names will never be known to us, strained the limits of what we in the 1930s called "proletarian socialism" and went appreciably beyond them. Far more than the leaders of the Anarchosyndicalist National Confederation of Labor and the Iberian Anarchist Federation (CNT-FAI) expected or apparently even wanted, Anarchists and Anarchosyndicalists spontaneously formed the famous industrial and agrarian collectives that so markedly distinguished the Spanish Revolution from any that had preceded it. They provided the militiamen and women who died by the thousands in the early fighting against the Francoist generals who led the military uprising of July 1936 in behalf of the Spanish landlords, the industrial bourgeoisie, and the Church.
The endeavors of the Anarchists and their Left Socialist allies in the Spanish Revolution must never be forgotten, lest today's Left lose a sense of continuity with the revolutionary era—its idealism, principles, and ideas. The loss of this continuity would contribute to political opportunism and to a fashionable ideological pluralism that mingles reformist politics with radical rhetoric as the need arises.
The essays that follow attempt to reach a wider readership than do the more academic studies of the events. The first essay, retitled here "An Overview of the Spanish Libertarian Movement," consists of my September 1973 introductory essay to Sam Dolgoff's The Anarchist Collectives: Workers' Self-Management in the Spanish Revolution 1936-1939 (New York: Free Life Editions, 1974), which was more of a compendium of excerpts than a comprehensive work in its own right. The second essay, "After Fifty Years: The Spanish Civil War," published in New Politics, n.s., vol. 1, no. 1 (Summer 1986), was written to commemorate the half-century anniversary of the Spanish Revolution.[1*] I wish to thank my friends Phyllis and Julius Jacobson, the editors of New Politics, for their kind permission to reprint the essay here.
I dedicate this book to the CNT-FAI revolutionaries Gastón Leval and José Peirats—two astonishingly honest and committed comrades.
Institute for Social Ecology
Plainfield Vermont 05667
February 28, 1993
[1*] New Politics, P.O. Box 98, Brooklyn, New York 11231.