Tony Cliff

Trotsky: The darker the night the brighter the star

11. Trotsky and the Spanish Revolution

THE FALL of the military dictatorship of Primo de Rivera in January 1930 and the subsequent ousting of King Alfonso in April 1931 were to mark the beginning of a period of sharpening class struggle in Spain, culminating in 1936 in civil war. From the start Trotsky grasped their importance and started writing profusely about them. With the establishment of the Republic, Trotsky saw the economic, social and political upheaval in Spain as presaging a revolutionary crisis that would develop over the following few years. These developments in Spain would be a classical demonstration of the Permanent Revolution.

The background was as follows: the Spanish economy, which underwent very advanced development under commercial capitalism during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, had lagged behind with the advent of industrial capitalism. Spain combined Western European advancement and agrarian backwardness: industry was located in a few centres, amidst a sea of peasantry under semi-feudal conditions. The rural population made up three quarters of the total population. Real unification into a national state had not been consummated in Spain since separatist tendencies dominated Spanish life. The country remained a loose federation of mutually antagonistic small national entities. The Castilian state bureaucracy was in alliance with an all-powerful church. The army, manned chiefly by officers who came from middle class landlords’ families, was intertwined with the state bureaucracy and church. The bourgeoisie, closely linked to the big landlords, was incapable of carrying forward the bourgeois democratic revolution – unable to break the agrarian, semi-feudal yoke, to solve the national question, or to break the power of the clergy.

Bourgeois democracy had never been fully established in Spain:

... the Spanish monarchy took shape under the conditions of the decline of the country and the decay of the ruling classes ... In short, the state system in Spain can be called ‘degenerated absolutism, limited by periodic military coups’. [1]

It would be up to the revolutionary proletariat, at the head of the peasantry, to break the power of the landlords, church, army and state bureaucracy, and to free the oppressed nationalities from the yoke of the Castilians. The coming Spanish revolution would therefore combine bourgeois and proletarian tasks: it would be a permanent revolution.

On 25 May 1930, Trotsky wrote a letter to his Spanish followers entitled Tasks of the Spanish Communists. The first task of Communists was to participate fully in the struggle for democratic demands.

At the present stage of the revolution, the proletariat distinguishes itself in the field of political slogans from all the leftist’ petty bourgeois groupings not by rejecting democracy (as the Anarchists and syndicalists do) but by struggling resolutely and openly for it, at the same time mercilessly denouncing the hesitations of the petty bourgeoisie.

By advancing democratic slogans, the proletariat is not in any way suggesting that Spain is heading towards a bourgeois revolution ...

If the revolutionary crisis is transformed into a revolution, it will inevitably pass beyond bourgeois limits, and in the event of victory the power will have to come into the hands of the proletariat. But in this epoch, the proletariat can lead the revolution – that is, group the broadest masses of the workers and the oppressed around itself and become their leader – only on the condition that it now unreservedly puts forth all the democratic demands, in conjunction with its own class demands.

First of all, these slogans will be of decisive importance for the peasantry ... The peasantry will inevitably link the slogan of political democracy with the slogan of the radical redistribution of the land. The proletariat will openly support both demands ...

... on national questions, the proletariat defends the democratic slogans to the hilt, declaring that it is ready to support by revolutionary means the right of different national groups to self-determination, even to the point of separation. [2]

Thus, even before the fall of the monarchy, Trotsky was very clear that ‘the revolutionary crisis will probably pass beyond bourgeois limits’.

Only the permanent revolution – the linking together of the struggles for democratic demands, for the solution of the agrarian question, for a solution of the national and colonial question, for the ending of the power of the church over state and civil life, for the ending of military tutelage – could overcome the general crisis of Spanish society.

To organise the workers in the struggle for democratic demands as well as for workers’ power, a special organisation was necessary – the soviet. Trotsky wrote that the Stalinists had:

done immeasurable damage to the revolutionary movement of the whole world, fixing in many minds the prejudice that soviets can only be created by the needs of an armed insurrection and only on the brink of this insurrection. In reality, the soviets are created when the revolutionary movement of the working masses, even though still far from an armed insurrection, creates the need for a broad, authoritative organisation, capable of leading the economic and political struggles embracing simultaneously the different enterprises and the different trades. Only if the soviets are rooted in the working class during the preparatory period of the revolution will they be able to play a leading role at the time of a direct struggle for power. It is true that the word ‘soviet’ after thirteen years of existence of the Soviet regime has now acquired a somewhat different meaning than it had in 1905 or at the beginning of 1917, when the soviets appeared not as organs of power but only as the militant organisations of the working class. The word ‘junta’ [1*] directly tied to all of Spain’s revolutionary history expresses this thought better than anything else. On the order of the day in Spain stands the creation of workers’ juntas. [3]

Trotsky was very careful not to assume that the Spanish revolution would be a copy of the Russian. First of all its tempo would be much slower. In an article written on 28 May 1931, a month after the fall of the monarchy, entitled The Spanish Revolution and the Dangers Threatening it, Trotsky explained that in Russia the revolution of 1917 was prepared by the dress rehearsal of 1905. ‘This hastened extraordinarily the period of the revolution’s rise to its culmination.’ [4]

Another factor hastening revolution in 1917 was the war:

The agrarian question might have been postponed for months, perhaps for a year or two, but the question of death in the trenches could bear no postponement. The soldiers were saying: ‘What good is the land to me if I am not alive?’ The pressure of twelve million soldiers was a factor in the extraordinary acceleration of the revolution. Without the war, in spite of the ‘dress rehearsal’ of 1905 and the presence of the Bolshevik Party, the pre-Bolshevik period of the revolution might have lasted not eight months, but perhaps a year or two or more.

These general considerations have an unmistakeable significance for determining the possible tempo of development of the events in Spain. The present generation of Spaniards has known no revolution, has gone through no ‘dress rehearsal’ in the past. The Communist Party went into the events in an extremely weak condition. Spain is not carrying on any foreign war; the Spanish peasants are not concentrated by the millions in the barracks and trenches, and are not in immediate danger of extermination All these circumstances compel us to expect a slower development of events and consequently permit us to hope for a lengthier period in which to prepare the party for the seizure of power. [5]

What prescience to write this as early as 1930!

Some 80 years before, Marx pointed out that Spanish revolutionary movements developed more slowly than those of other countries and usually took several years to reach their climax. He wrote:

Spain has never adopted the modern French fashion, so generally in vogue in 1848, of beginning and accomplishing a revolution in three days. Her efforts in that line are complex and more prolonged. Three years seems to be the shortest limit to which she restricts herself, while her revolutionary cycle sometimes expands to nine. [6]

Thus in 1930 Spain entered into a long period of revolution and counter-revolution. From the beginning of the Spanish revolution Trotsky was convinced that it would have historic international significance. And when the civil war started he saw this confirmed. In an interview with Havas, the French Newspaper Agency, on 10 February 1937, Trotsky said:

If fascism wins in Spain ... Franco’s dictatorship would mean the unavoidable acceleration of European war ... On the other hand, the victory of the Spanish workers and peasants would undoubtedly shake the regimes of Mussolini and Hitler. Thanks to their hermetic totalitarian character, the fascist regimes produce an impression of unshakeable firmness. Actually, at the first serious test they will be the victims of internal explosions. The victorious Russian revolution sapped the strength of the Hohenzollern regime. The victorious Spanish revolution will undermine the regimes of Hitler and Mussolini. For that reason alone the victory of the Spanish workers and peasants will reveal itself at once as a powerful force for peace. [7]

Trotsky proved right

THE REPUBLIC established in 1931 was engulfed from the beginning in a general crisis and failed to solve any of the fundamental problems facing Spanish society. There were three in particular – agrarian reform, the nature of the military and the role of the Church.

In regard to the first, the capitalists proved incapable of dealing with the agrarian question because the rural bourgeoisie owned nine tenths of the land, having displaced the semi-feudal nobility: ‘However primitive, capitalism has been the dominant mode of production on the latifundia since the mid-nineteenth century’. [8] The industrial capitalists shared common interests and attitudes with the rural bourgeoisie. The Republic did introduce a type of agrarian reform, but it was largely a sham. ‘Its agrarian reform programme frightened the impotent rural bourgeoisie but did not in fact take its land – leaving the landless dissatisfied.’ [9] ‘Alter two and a half years ... only 45,000 hectares had changed hands to the benefit of some 6,000-7,000 peasants.’ [10] This left millions hungry for land. The land the peasants received had to be paid for, since the landlords were due compensation. Even these puny reforms were reversed in 1934. ‘Though the Agrarian Law remained on the statute book, its application was in many places tacitly abandoned.’ [11]

The bourgeoisie’s extensive stake in land meant that the ruling bloc of landowners, factory owners and merchants was dominated by the agrarian oligarchy. This was intertwined with the military. The army drew its officers from the middle class landowners; and there was a preponderance of officers in the Spanish army:

In the last years of the monarchy, there were 17,000 officers (including 195 generals) for about 150,000 men – a proportion of one officer for every nine men, and one general for every 773 soldiers! It was commonplace to say that the large force was maintained not to fight Spain’s enemies abroad, but to enforce order at home. [12]

The Republic’s military reform was no more successful than the agrarian. This ‘allowed many officers to leave the army on full pay but did not fundamentally affect the military hierarchy or the position of monarchists (and later Falangist) officers within it’. [13] ‘The reform of the army merely led to the departure of the Republican officers, only too glad to leave the cadres on full pay; the Monarchist leaders remained in their jobs.’ [14]

The army naturally collected round it the other conservative force in the country, the Church. ‘The church in Spain in the 1930s included about 20,000 monks, 60,000 nuns and 35,000 priests.’ [15] The church played a crucial ideological role.

The church’s ideological dominance – in the 1930s as in the previous century – was the opposite face of the bourgeoisie’s failure to make its ideological revolution. From the preceding period of absolutism, the church provided the ‘ideological categories to justify the repression and intolerance necessary to maintain the system, and had transposed these on the religious plane: intolerance assumed the character of sanctity ... The immobilist defence of the system charged with heresy any reforming attitude’. [16]

The Republic introduced religious reforms which also failed:

Religious freedom was proclaimed by decree; the new constitution separated church and state and cleared the path for abolishing state stipends for priests within two years, banning religious orders from engaging in any but religious teaching, making all education laic, dissolving the Jesuits, introducing divorce, civil marriage and burial. The reaction, as could be expected, was not long in coming. [17]

... before the war, and in particular in the first two years of the republic, defence of religion, defence of the family, defence of property, defence of the social order were the constituent parts of the overall bourgeois counter-offensive which was summed up in the phrase ‘At the service of Spain’. [18]

When the new constitution drafted by the Republican government was discussed by the Cortes, the question of the church caused a serious crisis.

... the first twenty-five articles were passed after due discussion within three months. It was the twenty-sixth article, which dealt with the position of the Church in the new State, that provoked the first serious opposition and finally a crisis which brought down the Government. [19]

The Government split.

After prolonged discussion the Minister for War, Azaña, brought forward a modification of the project by which the monastic orders, with the exception of the Jesuits, were to be allowed to remain (though not to continue teaching) and the State grant to the Church was to be continued for two years. This, after further stormy discussion, was passed, but the Prime Minister, Alcalá Zamora and Miguel Maura, the Minister for Home Affairs (both Conservatives) resigned and the Basque deputies walked out of the Cortes and refused to return to it. [20]

The new government made a number of concessions to the Church.

In the new year of 1934, the government introduced a series of measures designed to halt the reforms of their predecessors. The substitution of lay for religious schools was indefinitely postponed. The Jesuits were shortly to be found teaching again. By a clever debating speech, Gil Robles secured that priests would be treated as if they were civil servants on pensions and they began to be paid two-thirds of their salary of 1931. [21]

The years of the Republic were years of general social upheaval. 1929-33 saw the world depression. Industrial production was cut sharply. There was a run on the peseta and a substantial export of currency throughout 1931. [22] The slump brought about terrible unemployment. At the same time the cost of living rose sharply. While the Socialist ministers – Prieto, Minister of Finance and Largo Caballero, Minister of Labour – proved impotent, the workers did not accept their fate passively. The summer of 1931 ‘saw therefore an interminable series of strikes with sabotage, violence and clashes with the police.’ [23]

The first days of 1932 saw a rising organised by Anarchists in Catalonia, in which the newly founded Izquierda Comunista, the Trotskyist organisation, took part.

Troops easily suppressed this rising, but not till there had been a certain amount of bloodshed. The Government thereupon arrested a hundred and twenty of the more prominent leaders of the CNT and FAI [2*], among them Durruti and Ascaso, and deported them without trial to Spanish Guinea. But the violent agitation, coupled with threats, that followed, compelled it to release them soon afterwards.

A year later (January 1933) came a second armed rising in Barcelona, Lérida and Valencia.

The Government declared the CNT to be an illegal organization and closed its offices, but it was not strong enough to enforce this. Indeed, three months later the CNT in Barcelona launched a formidable strike in the building trade which lasted eighteen weeks, whilst sympathetic general strikes took place at Saragossa, Corunna, Oviedo and Seville. [24]

Largo Caballero, leader of the Socialist Party and of the UGT [3*], was the Minister of Labour, and he introduced a series of laws to restrict strikes. Thus, for instance, eight days notice had
to be given before a strike. This legislation ‘represented an immense increase in the power of the State in industrial matters’. [25]

Nevertheless a series of ‘strikes, boycotts, acts of sabotage and armed revolts went on all over Spain without intermission.’ [26] In September 1933, when the first government of the Republic

relinquished power, the tally of [Azaña’s] struggle against worker and peasant agitation was a heavy one. The prisons were full of militant revolutionaries: 9,000, mostly Anarchists, according to official documents. It was this aspect of his government that enabled another Republican, even one as moderate as Martinez Barrio, to say that the regime drawing to a close was one of ‘mud, blood and tears’. [27]

The conditions of workers and peasants, as well as the struggle, took a sharp turn downwards with the replacement of the centre left government by a right wing government in September 1933.

In the two years between late 1933 and early 1936, known as the bienio negro, the employers were on the offensive, with the civil government and the army backing them. Wages were lowered while prices were kept high.

The intentions of the Government were soon seen. Within a few weeks all the legislation fixing wages and conditions of employment that had been passed by the Constituent Cortes was either repealed or allowed to lapse: the tenants’ guarantee against capricious eviction was thrown overboard: some 9,000 peasants who had been settled on the large estates in Extremadura were evicted: wages ... fell by 40 or 50 percent and the landlords, to assist the process, began dismissing hands. [28]

The workers, largely led by the CNT, did not stay quiescent. A rising broke out on 8 December 1933 in many villages of Aragon. In other parts of Spain – Andalusia, Valencia and Corunna – there were strikes and church burnings. Only Catalonia, exhausted by the efforts of the previous year, kept quiet. But the insurrection did not last long. The government hurried fresh troops up and at the end of four days all was over. [29]

In March 1934 – only three months after the suppression of the uprising, a general strike took place at Saragossa in protest against the bad treatment of the prisoners taken the previous December. It lasted four weeks, and during that time Saragossa remained a dead city. [30]

The situation changed on 4 October 1934 with CEDA [4*] joining the government. CEDA was similar to Dolfuss’s clerical reactionary party in Austria, a proto-fascist organisation. The memory of Austrian workers’ armed struggle in February was fresh and strong. ‘Better Vienna than Berlin’ was a widespread slogan among the workers.

When members of CEDA joined the government, the Socialist leadership called for a general strike and armed uprising for 5 October.

The revolutionary movement that followed broke out simultaneously in three different centres – Barcelona, Madrid, and the mining district of the Asturias. In the other provinces of Spain, wherever the UGT was sufficiently strong, there were general strikes in the towns but no violent action. The country districts kept quiet because the campesinos’ [agricultural workers] strike in June had exhausted them. [31]

The CNT outside Asturias failed to respond to the call for action as this call followed three recent and abortive uprisings.

The rising ‘of the Asturias miners ... terrified the bourgeoisie and fired all the working class of Spain.’ [32] The revenge of the bourgeoisie was bloody. There were massive losses: 3,000 dead and 7,000 wounded.

Thousands of arrests were made and the prisoners (except for those killed on the way) were brought to the Police barracks at Oviedo. Here they were taken out and shot without any trial at all in batches.

Still there were 40,000 prisoners taken alive. [33]

The historian Gerald Brenan writes:

The rebellion in Asturias, which from a military point of view had been such a fiasco, had, thanks to the stupidity of the Right, been turned into an enormous moral and political success. The entire proletariat and peasantry of Spain had been thrilled by the miners’ heroism and roused to indignation by the vengeance against them. The Anarchists had been especially affected. [34]

The uprising in Asturias was a prologue to the defeat of the Right in the general elections of 16 February 1936. This gave a new impetus to the Spanish revolution.

The Trotskyist organisation in Spain

THE FIRST Trotskyist organisation in Spain was built by Francisco Garcia Lavid, known as Henri Lacroix, a house painter who lived in the USSR in the years 1925-27 where he worked on the Comintern paper Inprekor and collaborated with the Left Opposition. On leaving the USSR in 1928, he went to work in Luxemburg, which expelled him on 1 August 1929. He then travelled to Belgium where he made an effort to organise a Spanish section of the Opposition among the Spanish émigrés there and in Luxemburg. He also contacted the pioneers of the Spanish Left Opposition by letter. Among his correspondents was Juan Andrade in Madrid, a founding member of the Spanish Communist Party (PCE) and editor of its paper La Antrocha until 1926.

On 28 February 1930, the first conference of the Spanish Left Opposition (OCE) was held in Liége with representatives from Luxemburg, France and Belgium. [35]

Following the fall of Primo de Rivera in January 1930, many political exiles, including the Trotskyists, returned to Spain. During 1930 OCE groups were established in a number of centres – Madrid, Bilbao, Asturias, the Basque country, Galicia and other places. [36]

The progress of OCE was spectacular. Its propaganda activity was very considerable. An assessment drawn up by its officials in February 1932 showed that in less than a year it achieved a distribution of 18,000 copies of its paper El Soviet, and published 33,000 pamphlets.

When the third OCE conference met in March 1932 its active membership was close to a thousand. [37]

OCE was strengthened by the return to Spain from the Soviet Union of the most prominent Communist leader, Andrés Nin. Nin had joined the Spanish Socialist Party in 1913 at the age of 21. In 1918, under the impact of the post-war revolutionary upsurge, both in Spain and the rest of Europe, he joined the anarcho-syndicalist trade union federation, the CNT, in its stronghold of Barcelona. Nin, a school teacher, together with his friend Joaquín Maurín, another teacher from Aragon, were in favour of closer association with the Bolsheviks. Nin and Maurín persuaded a local assembly of the CNT to send them to Russia. After attending the founding Congress of the Red International of Trade Unions (RILU) in 1921, as part of the CNT delegation, both Nin and Maurín were won over to Communism. However the CNT Congress held at Saragossa in June 1922 refused all connections with the Comintern and instead sent its delegates to Berlin to the Congress of the rival Syndicalist International.

Nin was unable to return to Spain because his name was linked, wrongly, with the assassination of the Prime Minister, Eduardo Dato. He therefore stayed in the Soviet Union. There he became assistant secretary of RILU, joined the Communist Party and was elected onto the Moscow Soviet. Nin sided publicly with the Left Opposition in 1926 and was removed from all official positions. He was expelled from the Communist Party of the Soviet Union and the PCE in 1928. After the fall of Primo de Rivera, Nin returned to Spain. Arriving in September 1930 he became the most important leader of OCE. Trotsky, at first, depended on him as his main source of information. For two and a half years a voluminous correspondence took place between Trotsky and Nin. ‘... it would make a large volume,’ Trotsky wrote on 21 February 1933. The correspondence, however, ‘was nothing else than a constant polemic, in spite of its most friendly form.’ [38]

A central thread throughout Trotsky’s writing to Nin was the question of the necessity for the Bolshevik-Leninists to work as a faction inside the Communist Party. Nin again and again rejected this: it was impossible to orientate on the PCE. On 23 October Nin wrote: ‘... the official party ... has no effective force and no authority among the masses.’ [39] On 12 November Nin repeated that the PCE’s authority ‘is nil’. ‘In Spain, I repeat, there is no party’. [40]

Nin drew the following conclusion in a letter to Trotsky of 3 December 1930: ‘I am convinced that in Spain the proletariat will organise its party outside the official party (which does not exist in fact) and in spite of it ...’ [41]

Instead of orientating on the PCE, Nin proposed that OCE should work inside the various Communist groups, in particular the Workers’ and Peasants’ Bloc (Bloque Obrero y Campesino, BOC) in Catalonia, led by Maurín.

Nin’s views were based on the fact that the PCE was indeed a very small organisation. For a number of historical reasons the strongest tendency amongst Spanish workers was Anarchism, or more exactly anarcho-syndicalism, i.e., anarchism expressed not through a political organisation but through trade unions. It was the followers of Bakunin and not Marx who first arrived in Spain in 1868 as representatives of the International Workingmen’s Association, the First International. They found an industrial base largely centred in the Catalonian city of Barcelona, which only expanded slowly until well into the twentieth century. Units of production were fairly small but the exploitation of the proletariat was extreme. This created that anger and frustration that fed into anarcho-syndicalism. It was the anarcho-syndicalist CNT, with its 1.5 million members in 1931, that was the greatest impediment to the growth of the Communist Party. By and large the choice for the mass of the Spanish workers appeared to be between the reformism of the Socialist Party and the revolutionary anarcho-syndicalism of the CNT.

At the beginning of 1930 the PCE had no more than 500 members. [42] As against this, BOC in March 1931 had 700 members and in April 1932, 5,000. [43]

The influence of the PCE in Catalonia, the most important industrial and working class centre in Spain, was far smaller than that of BOC. In June 1931 elections to the Cortes BOC obtained 17,536 votes in Catalonia, while the PCE got only 2,320 votes. [44] In the elections to the Barcelona municipality in October 1931 Maurín received 8,326 votes as against the PCE candidate’s 1,264. [45] In elections for deputies to the Catalan parliament in November 1932 BOC gained 12,000 votes with 3,565 in Barcelona, while the PCE received only 1,216. [46]

Even the OCE’s size bore favourable comparison with that of the official Communist Party. By one estimate the OCE ‘at the end of 1932 had some 1,500 members ... and it continued to grow thereafter’. [47] (However, other sources give lower figures. Thus, according to Andrade, in March 1935 the OCE was 800 strong.) [48]

The differences between Trotsky and Nin were not limited to the question of whether the OCE should orientate on the PCE or BOC. They also disputed the political role of Maurín and BOC. As a matter of fact BOC was far closer to the politics of Bukharin and Brandler than to Trotsky. BOC was in touch with Brandler’s KPO and its international organisation IVKO. Maurín supported the Stalin-Bukharin policy in China, with its subordination of the Communist Party to the bourgeois Kuomintang. In issues of Soviet internal policy BOC supported Bukharin’s struggle against Trotskyism. It was critical of the ultra-left policy of the Comintern after 1929, but it drew no conclusions about the connection between the policies of the Comintern and the internal policies of the Soviet Union.

BOC differed from Trotsky considerably on the national question in Spain. Trotsky argued for the right of national self-determination, but his approach was that of an internationalist. BOC’s point of departure was completely different. Andy Durgan writes:

Rather than just defend the right to self-determination of existing national movements, the BOC went much further. In June 1931 Maurín declared himself in favour of ‘separatism’, albeit not from Spain but from the Spanish state, the disintegration of which could give way to genuine Iberian unity. It was not sufficient, the BOC argued, to win over the leadership of existing national liberation movements, it was actually necessary to participate in their formation. Thus, where national movements did not exist, be it in Andalusia, Aragon, Castille or elsewhere, it was necessary for Communists to help create them.

Maurín believed that ‘the prospects for Socialist revolution were greatly favoured by the presence of a national problem’, so much so that ‘if it did not exist it would be necessary to create it.’ Not surprisingly, the Trotskyists were scathing in their attacks on what they described as ... [BOC’s] predilection for ‘separatist rather than class politics’, and even described it as ‘more Catalanist than the Catalan Republican Left’, the principal petty-bourgeois nationalist party in Catalonia. [49]

The Trotsky-Nin correspondence revealed sharp fluctuations in Nin’s attitude to BOC and Maurín.

On 12 November 1930 Nin wrote: ‘Maurín is very close to us and I am sure that he will end up in a short time declaring himself for the Opposition. That would be an acquisition of great value, for as I have told you he is very well thought of and honest.’ [50] On 17 January 1931 Nin wrote:

Maurín is really with us ... Here is a striking example. Next month the unification congress is to take place. Maurín is charged with the task of drawing up the theses on the political question and the tasks of the party. Well, taking advantage of the fact that we are ‘neighbours’ (he lives next door to me), we are drawing up the theses together. [51]

On 26 January 1931 Nin wrote: ‘The Barcelona section and the provisory executive committee have accepted the theses presented by Maurín and me (I edited them almost in their entirety) ...’ [52]

At that time Trotsky supported Nin’s editing of the BOC’s principal documents. However, he was anxious that Nin should not fudge the demarcation line separating the Left Opposition from Maurín, nor give up on the organisation of the Bolshevik-Leninist faction. On 13 February 1931 Trotsky wrote to Nin:

The fact that the Catalan Federation entrusts you with the editing of its principal documents, including therein the reply to the party’s political declaration, is a very valuable conquest that holds much promise ...

But nevertheless I am renewing my proposal for publishing in Madrid (or in another city) a bulletin of the Spanish Left Opposition as a politically and theoretically solid monthly organ. [53]

Two days later, on 15 February, Trotsky again urged:

It is necessary to create immediately a well-organised faction of the Left Opposition, no matter how small it may be to begin with, which will publish its own bulletin and its own theoretical organ. Of course, this does not exclude the participation of the Left Communists in broader organisations; on the contrary, it assumes it, but at the same time, organising the Left Opposition is the indispensable condition for this participation. [54]

Trotsky repeated his concern about Nin’s participation in BOC activity without clarity of principles on 15 March 1931:

How will your participation in the Bloc be defined and politically explained, as that of a representative of a communist faction or as that of a revolutionist known to be isolated? ... To exist without a political passport, especially during the revolution, is very dangerous. [55]

Two weeks later Trotsky added:

All eyes are turned toward Spain. And yet the Left Opposition as an official and active organisation does not exist in Spain. [56]

Suddenly the tone of Nin’s letters changed radically. He appeared deeply antagonistic towards the BOC. On 4 April 1931 he wrote to Trotsky:

Open propaganda for the principles of the Opposition has provoked my rupture with the Catalan Federation, or to put it better, with its leaders. The workers hold a very different attitude and demonstrate obvious sympathy with me. [57]

In May 1931 Nin’s formal request to join BOC was turned down, and mutual attacks soon began to appear in the press of both groups. A tiny group of some six to eight Trotskyists continued to try and defend their ideas inside BOC, but they were expelled in November 1931 for ‘factional activity aimed at destroying the party’. [58] On 12 April 1931 Trotsky wrote to Nin:

I have just received your letter in which you inform me for the first time of your break with the Catalan Federation and the appearance in a short while of an organ of the Left Opposition, Comunismo. The latter news falls me with so much joy ... [59]

Unfortunately, as Trotsky was penning this letter, Nin was writing his own which revealed a new twist:

We must enter the Federation, carry on systematic work in it, and create our faction in it. That is quite possible. I am certain that, if my entrance is not possible today, it soon will be, perhaps before a month.

By 15 April things had developed further. Nin wrote:

The Catalan Federation has come to ask my aid. I could not refuse it, so here I am, working in an immediate manner (actually in a large measure leading) in the Central Committee of the organisation ... We publish a daily sheet of which I am editor. [60]

This letter made Trotsky very uneasy. On 20 April he wrote to Nin:

In your second letter you show the necessity of influencing the Catalan Federation in a friendly manner and tactfully. I am in full agreement with you ...

But I cannot fail to emphasize from here, from far off, the second side of the matter. Two or three months ago you estimated that the organisation would be won over by you with no difficulties; together with Maurín you elaborated the theses, etc. A little while later it was asserted that the Federation, because of its equivocal relations with the Comintern, finds your direct entrance into its ranks inopportune. This record is, in my eyes, an argument against the attempt to influence the Federation only personally, individually, pedagogically – with the lack of an organised left faction acting everywhere with its own banner displayed. Work inside the Federation? Yes, certainly. Work patiently, in a friendly manner, without fear of being checked? Yes, yes, yes. But work openly as an accredited Left Oppositionist, as a Bolshevik-Leninist belonging to a faction, and as one who demands for it the freedom of criticism and of expounding his opinions. [61]

Two days later Trotsky expressed both enthusiasm for Nin’s entry into the Central Committee of BOC and his misgivings:

The most important information in your letter is the fact of your entrance into the Central Committee of the Catalan Federation and your editing of the daily publication of the Federation. I cannot state what tremendous significance this fact has. However, the political premises are unfortunately not clear to me. Several weeks ago, you wrote that you were obliged to break with the Federation because its leaders consider your adherence to the Left Opposition incompatible with adherence to the Federation. In other words, the leaders showed themselves extremely hostile to us, and employed the methods and phraseology of the Stalinist bureaucracy.

After that, your entrance at the end of several weeks into the leading positions of the Federation, I assure you, disorients me to a large extent. What has happened to the Federation? On what condition did you enter the Federation? On all these questions I shall await your reply with great impatience ...

Trotsky ended his letter with these words:

A small but farm Marxist nucleus, understanding precisely what it wants, can save not only the Catalan Federation but also the Spanish revolution; but only on one condition: the small nucleus must march under its own clear programme and under its own banner.

I beg you to reply to me as quickly as you possibly can, precisely on these questions, conceding that in my eyes they have decisive importance.

Alas, Nin never replied to these questions, and never explained on what basis he had entered the Central Committee of the Federation. [62]

Nin’s vacillations continued. On 25 June he wrote to Trotsky that: ‘I do not defend, and have never defended’ the Catalan Federation. Four days later Nin described its stand in these words:

[The Catalan Federation’s] orientation is, as always, variable, indefinite. My relations with its leaders have evolved through various stages: collaboration, rupture, new collaboration, new rupture. Right now we stand in the latter situation ...

On 13 July Nin again wrote to Trotsky:

For the third number of the review [Comunismo] I wrote an article against the mistakes of Maurín. We cannot maintain silence on them without the greatest danger for the movement. The electoral campaign that the Bloc has carried on these last few days has had little of a communist nature. [63]

On 25 August Nin, with heavy heart, suggested a new twist:

I have the opportunity to establish communist organisations here in several cities. To what organisation should they adhere? To the Bloc or to the official party [PCE]? I have a good deal of hesitation on this point. To make them adhere to the official party is quite difficult, for there is practically no organisation in Catalonia. On the other hand, the political position of the Bloc is at present so false that it is no less difficult to advise their adherence to this organisation. Still I am inclined in favour of this second solution ... [64]

On 18 September Nin wrote to Trotsky:

In the first place, it would be difficult to make the organisations adhere to the party (they would not want to go into it); in the second place because – do not forget this – in Catalonia the party actually does not exist. In all these groups the best elements are with us, and under our leadership they will be able to contribute actively to the decomposition of the Bloc. [65]

The whole of Nin’s future policy towards Maurín, his adaptation to centrism, his conciliation not only towards the right wing of the POUM but also towards the leadership of the CNT was found here in embryo.

In March 1932, at the third conference of OCE, Nin convinced it to become an independent organisation, not a faction of the Communist Party, by changing its name to ‘Communist Left of Spain’ (ICE). The conference also decided that in future it would put forward its own candidates in elections. [66]

As we have mentioned, a complete break in relations between Nin and OCE on the one hand and Maurín and BOC on the other, took place in the middle of 1931. How therefore can the amicable fusion of the two organisations some four years later be explained?

First, Nin and the ICE increasingly distanced themselves from Trotsky and the International Left Opposition.

Secondary events played a role here. One was the Lacroix case. At the third conference of OCE in March 1932, Lacroix resigned as general secretary of the Spanish organisation, supposedly for health reasons. In November a struggle broke out between Lacroix and Nin over issues that were very unclear to all observers. Lacroix began publishing a bulletin vindicating Trotsky’s criticism of Nin. Trotsky’s and the International Secretariat’s writings at the time seemed to be far more friendly towards Lacroix than Nin. In April 1933 the Lacroix group dissolved and Lacroix himself was expelled from the Spanish section for ‘misappropriation of funds’.

Subsequent events would shed more light on Lacroix, and thus seemingly vindicate the position of the ICE leadership. In September 1933 he joined the PSOE [Spanish Socialist Party], and in a letter to its daily, El Socialista, renounced his Communist past and recognised his mistaken role as a ‘sniper against Socialism’. Prior to this, however, Lacroix had attempted to rejoin the PCE. His total lack of scruples are revealed in his letter of 15 July 1933 to the PCE Central Committee, which has recently been found in the party’s archives in Madrid. According to this letter, only lack of money prevented Lacroix from returning to Madrid (he was in Tolosa at the time), as the PCE leadership had asked him to, in order to explain his recent ‘evolution back towards the party’. Lacroix concluded that ‘rapid action could put an end to the residues of Trotskyism in Spain, and win back the good, if mistaken, workers who still follow ... the masked counter-revolution of Trotskyism’. [67]

Then a tangle of factional conflicts in the French Trotskyist movement – between a group around Alfred Rosmer and another around Raymond Molinier (with which it is not useful to deal here) cut across the relations between Trotsky and Nin. Nin, as well as Kurt Landau who had been expelled from the German Trotskyist organisation in 1931, supported Rosmer against Trotsky.

A new dispute between the ICE and the world Trotskyist movement arose with the issue of entry into socialist parties – the ‘French turn’. Trotsky thought that these tactics were especially relevant to Spain, as in 1934, after the Socialist Party dissociated itself from the coalition government of 1931-33, and in the face of the rising threat of fascism, a massive swing to the left took place in the party. Ronald Fraser writes:

A month before the socialist ministers left the coalition government in 1933, Largo Caballero, the Labour Minister and UGT secretary-general, said that his conviction that it was impossible to ‘carry out socialist tasks within a bourgeois democracy’ had been confirmed. The defeat at the 1933 general elections doubtless further served to radicalise sectors of the party. The Landworkers’ Federation (now accounting for nearly half the UGT’s strength, which had quadrupled in eighteen months), was declaring that without revolution there could be no agrarian reform. The socialist youth declared for revolution and the dictatorship of the proletariat. [68]

The left wing of the Socialist Party controlled not only the socialist youth, but the trade union federation, the UGT, and many local and provincial sections of the party.

The Madrid Socialist youth newspaper Renovación appealed to the Trotskyists by name to join the SP and help to make it a Bolshevik party. Nin and Andrade [the leaders of the ICE] did not accept the invitation. This paved the way for the Stalinist merger with the SP youth at the beginning of 1936, providing the CP with its first mass base in Spain. [69]

In January 1934 the Socialist Party set up a committee to produce and distribute arms to its members. Its paper, El Socialista, wrote on the third anniversary of the Republic:

Another 14 April? Much better something else: a Spanish October. The difference is this: April, frustrated hope, lost illusion; October, firm eagerness, sure solution ... April, citizens with ballot-papers; October, workers with rifles. [70]

Given these developments, Trotsky wrote to the International Secretariat, a few days after the October 1934 armed uprising in Asturias:

our Spanish comrades should have joined the Socialist Party there at the very outset of the internal differentiation that began to prepare the party for the armed struggle. [71]

In a further letter to the International Secretariat on 13 December 1934, Trotsky emphasised the point:

The Spanish comrades have declared themselves frankly hostile to the French turn. A new confirmation that their ‘intransigence’ on this question is only the façade on a passivity that is purely propagandistic and journalistic. For our part, we will always repeat: of all the errors committed by all the sections, the greatest was committed by the Spanish section, which did not have the sense to join the Socialist Party in time at the beginning of the preparation of the armed struggle ... [72]

A national plenum of the ICE voted unanimously in September 1934 to reject the ‘French Turn’. [73] Altogether very few of the ICE members supported the ‘French Turn’: 5 in Madrid and 6-8 in the provinces. [74] One leading comrade, Fersen, actually joined the PSOE, but without organising any faction. Another with the same view, Munis, went back to Mexico. Another, Jesús Blanco, was shortly to join the POUM. Another, Esteban Bilbao, was to stay isolated for many months, without even the shadow of an organisation. [75]

The loosening of relations between Nin and the ICE and the international Trotskyist movement gave free rein to the weakness, inconsistency and impressionism of the ICE leadership.

These conditions facilitated the move of ICE towards BOC. A number of factors reinforced the trend. On 16 December 1933, under the impact of the increasing threat of fascism internationally and in Spain, a Workers’ Alliance was established in Catalonia. The Alliance united BOC, ICE, PSOE and CNT dissidents (Treintistas). Similar organisations spread to other areas of the country. Only the CNT, with the notable exception of Asturias, remained outside the Alliance. The Stalinists joined the Alliance in September 1934, after spending the previous nine months denouncing them as a ‘counter-revolutionary manoeuvre’. The historian Pagés writes that in October 1934,

the BOC and the ICE had played a role, which in comparison with their membership figures was certainly disproportionately large. In Barcelona, and even in the rural parts of Catalonia, the BOC had been the core of the Workers’ Alliance. But even a small group of the Izquierda Comunista [ICE] had taken an active part. Nin was, of course, a member of the leadership of the Catalan Workers’ Alliance, and was thus involved in all decisions during the critical days. Members of the ICE joined an armed column of the BOC in Barcelona. Likewise, of course, in Asturias, the members of the BOC and of the ICE played a prominent role in the struggle. As could be expected from their personal prestige as long-standing activists in the workers’ movement, they occupied leading positions in the local and regional committees, as in Oviedo, Sama de Langreo, Mieres, etc.. [76]

Nin made one last turn against the BOC. On 14 September 1934 he could write in Comunismo:

Maurín, who tries to adopt a line somewhere in between Stalinism and the communist left opposition, speaks out neither in favour of the position of the first, nor of the attitude of the second. But ... politics hates vacuums and, later, having found himself forced to adopt a definite position, he takes the road of the radical petty bourgeoisie ... Maurín’s point of view can lead to nothing else but steering the masses away from the real goals and reinforcing their illusions in the possibility of a deep democratic revolution carried out by the petty bourgeoisie. [77]

Yet a short time later Nin decided that the OCE should fuse with the BOC. On 25 September 1935 the two organisations fused to make up the POUM (Workers’ Party of Marxist Unification). This left the Trotskyists without a section in Spain.

To start with, both Trotsky and the International Secretariat were quite optimistic that it would be possible to collaborate with POUM and influence it. Reiner Tosstorff, the historian of the POUM, delving widely into Trotsky’s archives, tells a fascinating story. In August 1935, shortly before the founding of the POUM, Jean Rous, a member of the International Secretariat, went to Spain. He was concerned in the main with two points: 1. the possibility of making propaganda for the Fourth International within the new party; and 2. the continuation of relations between the former ICE and the International Secretariat after the fusion. Nin, among others, had assured him, even if factions were not to be allowed in the new party’s statutes, there should be agitation for the Bolshevik-Leninist programme, organised as a tendency – as ‘groups of friends’. Moreover, outside Catalonia and Valencia, the new party would consist of the ICE members anyway. Even Maurín supported the idea of forming the Fourth International. Further, the International Secretariat (IS) and the ex-ICE members agreed that ‘fraternal relations’ would be guaranteed through personal contact with Nin. Trotsky made the following comment on this modus vivendi:

The new party has been proclaimed. So let us get to it. Insofar as that depends on international factors, we must do everything to help this party win influence and authority, which can only be done by following the road of consistent and intransigent Marxism. In following this road I am as willing as all the comrades in the IS – of this I am certain – to co-operate in any way that is requested of us.

Trotsky echoed these sentiments in the BOC’s paper and later in the POUM’s, La Batalla, and promised the editorial board some articles. At the same time he undertook to have writings by the POUM distributed in the International Communist League by the International Secretariat. Nevertheless, shortly afterwards – when the unification manifesto of the BOC and ICE was published – he wrote a letter to the Dutch Bolshevik-Leninists, sharply criticising the POUM’s clinging to the London Bureau. He assumed nonetheless that it could be won to the Fourth International.

At the same time Rous informed Nin of the IS’s views as soon as he returned. Rous assumed that the former ICE members would use the possibilities for internal discussion in the POUM to argue for the Fourth International, and to continue to seek contact with the IS. Rous’s appraisal of the relations between the IS and the ex-ICE was implicitly confirmed by Nin in a letter he wrote to American Trotskyists.

The aim of the fusion was to hasten the movement of the BOC towards the Fourth International, which was implicit in the jointly drafted programme.

However, Maurín saw the fusion of BOC and ICE differently to Rous and Nin. Years later he wrote: ‘The main topic was: international independence, no contacts with Trotsky. Nin agreed’. He had broken officially with Trotsky; the question of the Fourth International had never been mentioned in the fusion talks. [78]

As events very early after the founding of POUM will show, Maurín must have been much nearer the truth than Rous in interpreting the fusion.

From Popular Front election victory to fascist uprising

ON 15 JANUARY 1936 the two left Republican bourgeois parties of Azaña and Barrio, together with the PSOE, the PCE, the Treintista wing of the CNT, the UGT and the POUM signed a common Popular Front programme. Broué and Témime write about this programme:

... this 8-point pact-cum-program was not so much the result of a common accord as an acceptance of the Republican programme by the workers’ parties. Along with some old Republican demands for agrarian reform and educational schemes, it came out in favour of reforms for the control of the Cortes, reforms for municipalities, the establishment of schemes for financial reorganisation, the protection of light industry, and the development of public works. It was a liberal programme set in a bourgeois framework and deliberately excluded Socialist demands for the nationalisation of land and banks and working-class control over industry. ‘The republic that the Republicans have in mind’, it stated, ‘is not a republic inspired by social and economic class considerations but a system of democratic freedom prompted by motives of public interest and social progress.’ [79]

The election campaign that followed took place against the background of the heroic uprising of the Asturian miners. The right was heavily defeated. A Popular Front government and a new President – Manuel Azaña – were elected.

Azaña personally did everything possible to reassure moderate opinion. ‘We want no dangerous innovations’, he said in an interview to Paris Soir. ‘We want peace and order. We are moderate.’ [80]

However, whatever the intentions of the Popular Front leaders, the election results became a signal for a massive and stormy rise of the class struggle. Broué and Témime write:

After the elections, impressive mass demonstrations had opened the prisons and released the workers detained since 1934, without waiting for the amnesty decree to be signed. On 17 February the opening of the prison in Valencia by CNT demonstrators and the release of those sentenced in 1934 was reported, along with several hundred released in Oviedo alone and several thousand throughout Spain. The following day strikes began throughout the country for the immediate reinstatement of those sentenced or out on bail, the payment of wages to all workers detained during the bienio negro, increases in wages, the dismissal of various employers’ agents, and improvements in working conditions. In addition to these union strikes there were also some strikes of a more political nature, solidarity strikes and general, regional, and local strikes. Some of the conflicts dragged on and brought others in their wake. The employers replied with lockouts, and the struggle grew in bitterness. [81]

During the five months following the elections, 113 general strikes and 228 partial strikes took place. [82]

Every city of any importance had at least one general strike during five months. Nearly a million were on strike on June 10; a half million on June 20; a million on June 24; over a million during the first days of July. The strikes covered both the cities and the agricultural workers; the latter shattered the traditional village boundaries of struggle, waging, for example, a five-weeks’ strike covering Malaga province and 125,000 peasant families. [83]

In the countryside the situation was really revolutionary.

By the end of February, in the provinces of Badajoz and Cáceres, then, during the ensuing months, in Estremadura, Andalusia, Castile, and even Navarre, asentamientos [land occupations] were increased. Alcalá Zamora’s lands were occupied in April; so were the Duke of Albuquerque’s. The peasants settled on the big landowners’ estates and began to cultivate them on their own account. Bloody incidents soon occurred between peasants and Civil Guards. The most serious was at Yeste, near Alicante, where the Civil Guard intervened and arrested six peasants who had begun to cut down the trees on the seigniorial estates. Exasperated, the peasants of Yeste, armed with pitchforks, cudgels, and stones, attacked the Civil Guards who were taking away their comrades. In the shooting that ensued, eighteen peasants were killed. [84]

Some 190,000 peasant families took over and settled on about 600,000 hectares. [85] Compare this with the land reform of the Republican government of 1931-33: after two and a half years only 45,000 hectares had changed hands, to the benefit of some 6,000-7,000 peasants [86] The events between February and July 1936 have been described correctly as the ‘little civil war’. [87]

The fascist uprising

THE FASCIST rising began on 17 July 1936 in Spanish Morocco. In the next three days almost all the 50 garrisons in Spain declared for fascism. The vast majority of the old ruling class joined the rebellion. What was the immediate reaction of the Popular Front government?

On the morning of July 17, General Franco, having seized Morocco, radioed his manifesto to the garrisons. It was received at the naval stations near Madrid by a loyal operator and promptly revealed to the Minister of the Navy. But the government did not divulge the news until 9 o’clock of the 18th; and then it issued only a reassuring note that Spain was completely under government control. Two other notes were issued by the government later in the day, the last at 3:15 PM, when the government had full and positive information of the scope of the rising, including the seizure of Seville. Yet the final note said:

‘The Government speaks again in order to confirm the absolute tranquillity of the whole Peninsula’. [88]

The workers demanded arms. The Prime Minister announced that anyone who gave arms to the workers would be shot. This guaranteed a fascist victory in scores of cities. The liberal historian Hugh Thomas writes:

The first news of the rising given by the government was when Madrid Radio announced that ‘No one, absolutely no one, on the Spanish mainland, has taken part in this absurd plot’, which would, it was promised, be quickly crushed even in Morocco. While these words were being heard without belief, risings were taking place throughout Andalusia, where there were eight cities which had garrisons of battalion strength or above. There were risings in other towns too, led by either local Falangists or the civil guard. Nearly everywhere on 18th July, the civil governors followed the example of the government in Madrid, and refused to cooperate with the working class organisations who were clamouring for arms. In many cases, this brought the success of the risings and signed the death warrants of the civil governors themselves, along with the local working-class leaders. Had the rebels risen in all the provinces in Spain on 18th July, they might have been everywhere triumphant by 22nd July. But had the government distributed arms, and ordered the civil governors to do so too, thus using the working class to defend the republic at the earliest opportunity, the rising might have been crushed. [89]

However, the workers did not wait with folded arms. They acted for themselves, as Felix Morrow describes:

In Madrid itself the Socialist Youth militia was distributing its scant store of arms; was throwing up barricades on key streets and around the Montaña barracks; was organising its patrols for house to house seizures of reactionaries; at midnight had launched the first attack on the barracks. In Barcelona, remembering the treachery in October 1934 of this same President of Catalonia, Companys, the CNT and POUM ... militants had stormed several government arms depots on the afternoon of the 18th. By the time the garrison revolted, at one the next morning, the armed workers had surrounded the troops in an iron ring, arming eager recruits with equipment seized from the fascists, and with whatever could be confiscated from the department stores; later the militia seized the regular arsenals. The Asturian miners had outfitted a column of six thousand for a march on Madrid, before the ministerial crisis was well over. In Malaga, strategic port opposite Morocco, the ingenious workers, unarmed, had surrounded the reactionary garrison with a wall of gasoline-fired houses and barricades. In Valencia, refused arms by the Madrid governor, the workers prepared to face the troops with barricades, cobble-stones and kitchen knives – until their comrades within the garrison shot the officers and gave arms to the workers. In a word: without so much as a by your leave to the government, the proletariat had begun a war to the death against the fascists. [90]

The birth of dual power

THE OUTCOME of the workers’ action was the rise of proletarian, unofficial power side by side with the formal power still held by the government. Thus arose what Lenin called ‘dual power’. One power, that of Azaña and company, was composed of a handful of liberal capitalist politicians cut off from their own social base and lacking a mass following. Trotsky was to call them the ‘shadow bourgeoisie’ – the class they represented had gone over to Franco. Their political survival depended on the support of the Communist Party and the Socialist Party. The other power was that of the armed proletariat. The government of Azaña and company was already too weak to challenge the power of the working class; yet the armed proletariat was not conscious enough to get rid of the Azaña government. The same phenomenon had arisen in Russia between February and October 1917, and tends to emerge in all proletarian revolutions. The historians Broué and Témime describe the dual power in Republican Spain thus:

... in between the streets and the government there gradually emerged new organs of power that enjoyed real authority, often claiming kinship with the former as much as with the latter. These were the countless local Committees, virtual governments on a regional and provincial scale. In them was invested the new power, the revolutionary power that was being organised at full speed to deal with the enormous tacks, one immediate and the other long-term, of pursuing the war and resuming production at the height of a social revolution. [91]

Barcelona was the symbol of the revolutionary change. It accounted for half the industrial working class of the country. Workers used their power to expropriate the capitalists. Franz Borkenau writes:

The amount of expropriation in the few days since 19th July is almost incredible. The largest hotels, with one or two exceptions, have all been requisitioned by working class organisations ... So were most of the larger stores. Many of the banks are closed, the others bear inscriptions declaring them under the control of the Generalitat [the Catalonian provincial government]. Practically all the factory-owners, we were told, had either fled or been killed, and their factories taken over by the workers. Everywhere large posters at the front of impressive buildings proclaimed the fact of expropriation, explaining either that the management is now in the hands of the CNT, or that a particular organisation has appropriated this building for its organising work. [92]

‘... there is only one real power in Barcelona’, says my foreign interlocutor, ‘the CNT’. So far does this go that documents signed only by the regular administration are worthless. A man will do well to bear with him, besides some document from the Generalitat, either a recommendation from CNT headquarters, or, better still, a pass from the Generalitat countersigned both by the CNT and the UGT. There is no authority besides the trade unions, and, in Barcelona, the anarchist CNT is by far the strongest among the trade union organisations. [93]

In other centres of Spain workers’ power was much more restricted than in Barcelona. Thus, wrote Borkenau, Valencia

remains a thoroughly ‘petty bourgeois’ town. There are far fewer armed militia than in Barcelona, less expropriation and workers’ control of shops, fewer red flags and more banners in the Spanish and Valencian colours. More cars belong to some regular State administration than to workers’ committees and unions. There are more fashionable, well-dressed people in the streets; and there is a significant number of beggars too, whereas in Barcelona there are almost none, on account of the newly created assistance committees. Valencia has not passed through a social upheaval like that of Barcelona ... [94]

In terms of class struggle Madrid was between Barcelona and Valencia. In Madrid,

the government element is much more in evidence than in Barcelona, where the socialist, anarchist, and trade unionist element was more obvious. A striking example of the difference is that here in Madrid an ordinary police permit to sojourn is sufficient; it would be useless in Barcelona. There does not even exist, in Madrid, a central political committee.

Very little expropriation seems to have taken place. Most shops carry on without even control, let alone expropriation ...

The absence of begging was one measure of workers’ influence:

In Barcelona begging has practically disappeared; in Valencia it was visible; in Madrid it is obtrusive; in this respect nothing seems to have changed. The begging of many children in the cafés is especially repellent ... If begging has remained the same, so has, to a certain extent, its antithesis, luxury. Certainly there are fewer well dressed people than in ordinary times, but there are still lots of them, especially women, who display their good clothes in the streets and cafés without any hesitation or fear, in complete contrast to thoroughly proletarian Barcelona ...

To sum up, Madrid gives, much more than Barcelona, the impression of a town in wartime, but much less the impression of a town in social revolution. [95]

In the key centres the Committees held real power.

All of them, in the days after the uprising, had seized all local power, taking over legislative as well as executive functions, making categorical decisions in their areas, not only about immediate problems, such as the maintenance of law and order and the control of prices, but also about the revolutionary tasks of the moment, the socialisation or unionisation of industry, the expropriation of the property of the clergy, the ‘factionists’, or simply the big landowners, the distribution of land to the metal workers or its collective development, the confiscation of bank accounts, the municipalisation of lodgings, the organisation of information, written or spoken, education, and welfare. To take up G. Munis’s striking term, everywhere ‘Government Committees’ were set up, whose authority was based on the force of armed workers and which the rest of the specialist bodies in the old state – Civil Guards here and there, Asaltos, and various officials – obeyed, whether they liked it or not. [96]

Dual power by its very nature is unstable and cannot continue for any length of time. A long period of unstable equilibrium is impossible. In Autumn 1936 the only problem was to know which of the two powers – the bourgeois Republican or proletarian revolutionary – would prevail. In every other period of dual power – Russia in February-October 1917, Germany in 1918-1919 were the most important – the bourgeois government continued to exist thanks to the support of reformist workers’ parties. The Mensheviks and SRs not only defended the Provisional Government within the Soviets, but also sat with bourgeois ministers in the government. Similarly the German Social Democrats held the majority in the Soldiers’ and Workers’ Councils, but at the same time sat in the government.

In Spain the Communist Party, the Socialist Party and the Anarchists played this role. They had an overwhelming majority among the Committees, yet at the same time they supported the Republican government. Later, on 4 September 1936 the Socialists and Communist actually entered the government and took ministerial posts. On 26 September the CNT and POUM joined the local government of Catalonia, the Generalitat (to give it its Catalonian name).

This action of the POUM demonstrated its centrist nature. When the Comintern adopted the policy of Popular Front the POUM condemned it and went on doing so for months. And then, out of the blue, in January 1936 Juan Andrade, the ex-ICE member, and now a leading member of the POUM, signed the Popular Front pact. This signalled the final break between the international Trotskyist movement and the former ICE members. On 23 January Trotsky attacked the POUM’s ‘betrayal of the proletariat for the sake of an alliance with the bourgeoisie.’ [97]

Centrism led to more vacillation later on. Largo Caballero, on 4 September 1936, formed a Popular Front government including Socialists, Communists and bourgeois Republicans. In response Juan Andrade wrote an article in La Batalla calling this government ‘counter-revolutionary’. This raised a storm of protest in the POUM and the Central Committee Plenum decided that Andrade should no longer be permitted to write editorials. [98]

Yet another twist followed: on 26 September the POUM joined the Popular Front government of Catalonia, the Generalitat which straight away dissolved the Anti-Fascist Militia Committees.

The POUM was not homogeneous. Its centrism meant there were those who looked left while others looked right. Thus, not all members supported the party’s slide towards the Popular Front and membership of the Generalitat. The Secretary of the POUM’s youth movement, Wilebaldo Solano, opposed it, as did the Madrid branch of the POUM. The latter fought a broad campaign for the formation of democratically elected committees in all areas starting from the barracks and all armed units right up to the formation of a congress of the committees. It declared that bourgeois democracy was an enemy. In the factories committees should take over production. United in a congress they would then have to work out an economic plan. In December 1936 the Madrid branch also demanded the formation of a revolutionary army based on the militias, which would however have to be subordinate to military discipline and unified command. It is clear that the model here was the Russian Revolution with its soviets and Red Army.

At the same time there was sympathy for Trotsky that extended far beyond the small Trotskyist groups, as became clear through the widespread printing of many of his articles. There were detailed reports about his asylum in Norway and later in Mexico. Similarly the Moscow Trials were continually denounced. [99]

After the event Andrade, Solano and Molins sharply criticised the behaviour of the POUM during the war.

During the whole course of the revolution and the Civil War there has been a more or less organised faction in the party, which did not have the slightest belief or trust in the revolutionary politics of the POUM, which had always conspired against it, which had sabotaged it at the front and behind the lines, which had forced false tactics on the party and had hindered it from adopting the role history had reserved for it ... It is the faction which throughout the course of our whole existence found its most complete expression in the majority of the members of the Central Committee; it is the faction which gave this organism a pronounced reactionary character.

Andrade, Solano and Molins regretted that they had remained silent throughout this period. That had been their greatest mistake. [100]

On the opposite wing of the POUM was the right wing Valencia section. It openly supported the Popular Front and criticised the POUM’s ‘Leftism’. It supported the dismantling of the committees and the militias, and supported the creation of the Popular Army. The Valencia POUM believed that ‘we could win the war without making the revolution, but we could not make the revolution without winning the war. In Barcelona they were certainly fixated on the revolution’, wrote Luis Portela, the leader of the POUM in Valencia. [101] The Valencia section of the POUM had as its mouthpiece the weekly El Comunista. This paper supported, without reservation, the government of Largo Caballero, writing: ‘The government of the Republic is the expression of the will of the popular masses as incarnated by their parties and organisations.’ [102] Portela reproached the executive committee of the POUM and La Batalla for publicly formulating criticism of the Soviet Union. El Comunista refused to defend the accused in the Moscow Trials, pointing out that ‘they do not defend themselves’. [103]

The fatal role of the Popular Front

THE SPANISH Popular Front was similar to the bloc of the Mensheviks and SRs with the Cadets in 1917. Both argued for unity in defence of democracy, both called on workers and peasants to sacrifice their immediate interests on the altar of unity. Both assumed that the simple unity of forces added to their total sum. Trotsky was devastating in his scorn for this simplistic calculation.

The theoreticians of the Popular Front do not essentially go beyond the first rule of arithmetic, that is, addition: ‘Communists’ plus Socialists plus Anarchists plus liberals add up to a total which is greater than their respective isolated numbers. Such is all their wisdom. However, arithmetic alone does not suffice here. One needs as well at least mechanics. The law of the parallelogram of forces applies to politics as well. In such a parallelogram, we know that the resultant is shorter, the more the component forces diverge from each other. When political allies tend to pull in opposite directions, the resultant may grove equal to zero. ... the political alliance between the proletariat and the bourgeoisie, whose interests on basic questions in the present epoch diverge at an angle of 180 degrees, as a general rule is capable only of paralysing the revolutionary force of the proletariat. [104]

The Spanish Popular Front was an alliance with the bourgeoisie’s shadow:

Politically most striking is the fact that the Spanish Popular Front lacked in reality even a parallelogram of forces. The bourgeoisie’s place was occupied by its shadow. Through the medium of the Stalinists, Socialists, and Anarchists, the Spanish bourgeoisie subordinated the proletariat to itself without even bothering to participate in the Popular Front. The overwhelming majority of the exploiters of all political shades openly went over to the camp of Franco. [105]

…only insignificant debris from the possessing classes remained in the republican camp: Messrs. Azaña, Companys, and the like – political attorneys of the bourgeoisie but not the bourgeoisie itself. Having staked everything on a military dictatorship, the possessing classes were able, at the same time, to make use of their political representatives of yesterday in order to paralyse, disorganize, and afterward strangle the socialist movement of the masses in ‘republican’ territory. [106]

For a victory over fascism it was necessary to connect the struggle against fascism with the struggle for the emancipation of the working class and the peasantry.

Civil war, in which the force of naked coercion is hardly effective, demands of its participants the spirit of supreme self-abnegation. The workers and peasants can assure victory only if they wage a struggle for their own emancipation. Under these conditions, to subordinate the proletariat to the leadership of the bourgeoisie means beforehand to assure defeat in the civil war. [107]

In no way was the Spanish working class of 1936 weaker or more backward than the Russian working class of 1917. On the contrary:

In its specific gravity in the country’s economic life, in its political and cultural level, the Spanish proletariat stood on the first day of the revolution not below but above the Russian proletariat at the beginning of 1917.


On the road to victory, its own organisations stood as the chief obstacles. [108]

The events in Spain would confirm the words of St. Just: ‘Those who fight revolutions half-heartedly are merely digging their own graves.’

In the dual power equation, the workers’ element remained embryonic and atomised: there were many committees in the factories and the militias, but there was never a centralised national organisation – no nationwide Workers’ and Soldiers’ Councils as in Russia in 1917 or in Germany in 1918-19. Already in January 1931, in his pamphlet, The Revolution in Spain, Trotsky called for the creation of soviets: ‘On the order of the day in Spain stands the creation of workers’ juntas’. [109]

The fact that workers’ power remained atomised, that soviets were not created, was a product of the policies of the working class parties, above all the Communist Party which strongly opposed the idea of soviets. Franz Borkenau writes: ‘... the communists in Spain represented the extreme right wing of the labour movement’. [110] Hugh Thomas sums up the position of the PCE with the words: ‘The communists were said to have devised a new slogan: “Before we capture Saragossa, we have to take Barcelona”.’ [111] The victory over the militant workers of Barcelona took precedence over the victory over the fascists in Saragossa.

As the party of law and order’, and having access to Soviet arms, the Communist Party changed dramatically in social composition, and grew massively in size and influence. Hugh Thomas writes about the party:

... this was no ordinary communist party. If its propaganda harked back to the Russian revolution, its practice suited, and reflected, the desires of the small shopkeepers, small farmers, taxi drivers, minor officials and junior officers who joined it between July 1936 and the end of the year, without reading much Marx or knowing much of Russia, in the hope of finding protection against anarchism and lawlessness. [112]

In Madrid in 1938, according to its own figures, the Communist Party had only 10,160 trade unionists out of 63,426 members, which suggests that no more than a small fraction were workers. [113] Franz Borkenau writes the following on the social composition of PSUC – the United Socialist Party of Catalonia (the Stalinist party of Catalonia).

Not many industrial workers are members of PSUC, but it claims nevertheless 46,000 members, the majority of whom are state and private employees, shopkeepers, merchants, officers, members of the police forces, intellectuals both in town and country, and a certain number of peasants ... The Communist Party, to a large extent, is today the party of the military and administrative personnel, in the second place the party of the petty bourgeoisie and certain well-to-do peasant groups, in the third place the party of the employees, and only in the fourth place the party of the industrial workers. Having entered the movement with almost no organisation, it has attracted, in the course of the civil war, those elements with whose views and interests its policy agreed. [114]

The claimed membership of the PCE rose from 20,000 in October 1934, to 35,000 in February 1936, 102,000 in May, and 117,000 in July. By June 1937 the PCE and PSUC membership reached a million, and ‘became a dominant factor in the political life of Spain’. [115]

The Socialist Party leaders who had moved leftwards in the years 1933-36, now became ‘responsible’ and moderate, and tailed behind the Communist Party. In April 1936 the Madrid Socialist branch declared:

The proletariat must not confine itself to defending bourgeois democracy but must use every means to assure the conquest of political power in order to achieve its own social revolution. In the transition period from capitalist society to Socialist society, the form of government will be the dictatorship of the proletariat. [116]

A similarly left position was taken by Largo Caballero. On 24 May he declared:

When the Popular Front breaks up, as break up it will, the triumph of the proletariat will be certain. We shall then implant the dictatorship of the proletariat, which does not mean the repression of the proletariat, but of the capitalist and bourgeois classes! [117]

But when Largo Caballero became Prime Minister he changed his tune: ‘First we must win the war and afterwards we can talk of revolution.’ [118]

The Anarchists played a crucial role in the Spanish revolution. It was the first time in history that they were in the centre of the arena, especially in Catalonia. They faced a grand test and failed miserably. Rejecting all state organisation in principle, the Anarchists refused to distinguish between a bourgeois and a workers’ state. Now, with the real collapse of the Republican state in 1936 a vacuum was created, and the need to fill it could not be shirked. How far the logic of the situation forced the Anarchist leaders to stray from traditional principles, one can see from a statement of one of their leaders, Diego Abad de Santillán, on 13 September 1936:

The entry of the CNT into the central government is one of the most important events in the history of our country. The CNT has always been, by principle and conviction, anti-state and the enemy of every form of government ... But 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. [119]

It was the failure of the Anarchists to create an alternative state to the bourgeois republic that enabled the Communist Party and their allies to undermine the revolution. 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 realise 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. [120]

Many years before, in 1931, Trotsky had accurately prophesied the fate of the Anarchists in the Spanish revolution.

... since anarcho-syndicalism in Spain is moving inevitably to the most pitiful and ridiculous bankruptcy, there is no doubt that the Spanish revolution will be the tombstone of Anarchism. But it is necessary to be sure that the tombstone of anarcho-syndicalism does not at the same time become the tombstone of the revolution. [121]

What was the role of the POUM? The French organ of the POUM, La Révolution Espagnole, declared on 3 September 1936 that the dictatorship of the proletariat had already been realised: ‘There does not exist ... dual power in Catalonia; the working class effectively controls the whole of society.’ [122] On 6 September, Nin declared at a mass meeting, that the working class had achieved state power in Spain.

Comrades, all the concrete problems of the democratic revolution, which the bourgeoisie failed to carry out in five years, have been resolved by the proletariat in arms in as many days. [Applause] [123]

On 26 September, as we have mentioned, POUM joined the Generalitat and Nin became the Minister of Justice. He was euphoric. But his facile optimism was swiftly contradicted by events, as Broué and Témime show. The new government,

with the support of the CNT and the POUM, was in fact the death sentence of the power of the Committees. On 1 October the Anti-Fascist Militias’ Committee dissolved itself and embraced, through a manifesto, the new government’s policy. On 9 October, a decree in Council, with the approval of Nin and the CNT ministers, dissolved ‘the Local Committees, whatever their name or title, and all the organisations that had been set up to destroy the subversive movement’ throughout Catalonia. [124]

Even after the POUM was ousted from the Generalitat, on 17 December 1936, its excessive optimism remained unabated. La Batalla appeared with the proud headline: ‘It is not possible to rule without the POUM, still less against the POUM.’ It was possible, as events would show. [125] Trotsky’s judgment on the POUM’s joining the Generalitat was harsh but completely justified: ‘There can be no greater crime than coalition with the bourgeoisie in a period of socialist revolution.’ [126]

The POUM’s entry into the coalition government lessened the pressure on the CNT leaders to break with the bourgeoisie. Trotsky complained of the fact that the POUM leaders were extremely conciliatory to the CNT. As early as 31 May 1931, he had criticised the attitude of BOC, the future dominant power in the POUM, towards the Anarchists.

The Catalan Federation ... has adopted a conciliatory position towards the anarcho-syndicalists; that is to say, it has replaced the revolutionary policy of the united front with the opportunist policy of defending and flattering the anarcho-syndicalists ... [127]

The POUM’s leaders always negotiated with the CNT at leadership level and failed to appeal to the CNT rank and file. Nin himself stated:

It is evident that there is a difference between the masses and the leaders of the CNT, but we have no other way than to reach an agreement with the leadership organisms and in this way to gain a certain influence at the grass roots. [128]

Paradoxically the POUM adapted to the Anarchists by breaking away from the CNT and creating a separate trade union federation of their own – FOUS. Trotsky explained how this worked:

In order not to quarrel with the Anarchist leaders, they did not form their own nuclei inside the CNT, and in general did not conduct any kind of work there ...

The POUM refrained from penetrating into the midst of the CNT in order not to disturb relations with the summits of this organisation and in order to retain the possibility of remaining in the role of counsellor to them ... The leaders of the POUM spoke with great eloquence of the advantages of the socialist revolution over the bourgeois revolution; but they did nothing serious to prepare this socialist revolution because the preparation could only consist of a pitiless, audacious, implacable mobilisation of the Anarchist, Socialist, and Communist workers against their treacherous leaders. It was necessary not to fear separation from these leaders, to change into a ‘sett’ during the early days, even if it were persecuted by everybody; it was necessary to put forth exact and clear slogans, foretell the morrow, and basing oneself on the events, discredit the official leaders and drive them from their positions. [129]

The POUM trade union organisation, FOUS, with Nin as its General Secretary, had a membership of some 60,000, the majority of whom were white collar workers. [130] This compared with the CNT, which had over one and a half million members, and the UGT, with a similar number of members. The formation of the FOUS was an especially grave mistake as both the POUM and the CNT had their main power base in Catalonia, where practically all the industrial workers organised in the CNT.

Unable to survive as an independent organisation, FOUS decided in September 1936 to join the UGT, although this federation had hardly any influence in Catalonia. Nin’s explanation in La Batalla of 23 September was very lame: ‘The trade unionists orientated towards the anarchists should enter the CNT, those orientated on or influenced by the Marxists should be in the UGT’. [131] The POUM’s conciliation of the CNT leaders aided and abetted the CNT’s own conciliation of the Stalinists and their allies. This condemned the revolution to final defeat. Trotsky writes:

Contrary to its own intentions, the POUM proved to be, in the final analysis, the chief obstacle on the road to the creation of a revolutionary party ... Revolution abhors centrism. Revolution exposes and annihilates centrism ...

Left centrism, especially under revolutionary conditions, is always ready to adopt in words the programme of the socialist revolution and is not niggardly with sonorous phrases. But the fatal malady of centrism is not being capable of drawing courageous tactical and organisational conclusions from its general conceptions. [132]

The liquidation of workers’ power

IN THE WEEKS after 19 July 1936 struggle continued between proletarian power – in the form of factory and militia committees on the one hand, and the Republican government on the other. The latter won.

On 9 October the government decided to dissolve the Committees and to restore the former municipalities in their place. The POUM leaders played a significant role in the dissolution of the local committees, although there was opposition in the POUM ranks to the move. The POUMists in Lérida, a major force in the province, protested to the party executive. Nin, however, went there with a government commission to convince the Lérida POUM to accept the decree.

They received the delegation weapons in hand, but when they found Nin among the group, they accepted party discipline and agreed ...

On 16 November, with all resistance now vanquished and there had not been much – the Generalitat decreed the suppression of three thousand official posts in committees, people’s tribunals, commissions, etc., the majority of them held by workers; the structure of working class power was, thus, eliminated. [133]

One further step to consolidating the power of the bourgeois state was taken on 27 October – a decree disarming the workers.

Steps were also taken to restore the bourgeois police.

In the first months after July 19, police duties were almost entirely in the hands of the workers’ patrols in Catalonia and the ‘militias of the rearguard’ in Madrid and Valencia ... The most extraordinary step in reviving the bourgeois police was the mushroom growth of the hitherto small customs force, the Carabineros, under Finance Minister Negrín, into a heavily armed pretorian guard of 40,000.

On 28 February [1937] the Carabineros were forbidden to belong to a political party or a trade union or to attend their mass meetings. The same decree was extended to the Civil and Assault Guards thereafter. That meant quarantining the police against the working class ...

By April the militias were finally pushed out of all police duties in Madrid and Valencia. [134]

A comparison Franz Borkenau made of an impression of life in Spain between a first visit in August 1936 and a second in January-February 1937 is very instructive:

The troops were entirely different from the militia I had known in August. There was a clear distinction between officers and men, the former wearing better uniforms and stripes. The pre-revolutionary police force, asaltos and Guardia Civil (now ‘Guardia Nacional Republicana’), were very much in evidence ... neither guardia nor asaltos made the least attempt to appear proletarian. [135]

A further vivid description of life in Barcelona at the end of April 1937 comes from the pen of George Orwell:

Now things were returning to normal. The smart restaurants and hotels were full of rich people wolfing expensive meals, while for the working-class population food prices had jumped enormously without any corresponding rise in wages. Apart from the expensiveness of everything, there were recurrent shortages of this and that, which, of course, always hit the poor rather than the rich. The restaurants and hotels seemed to have little difficulty in getting whatever they wanted, but in the working-class quarters the queues for bread, olive oil, and other necessaries were hundreds of yards long. Previously in Barcelona I had been struck by the absence of beggars; now there were quantities of them. Outside the delicatessen shops at the top of the Ramblas gangs of bare-footed children were always waiting to swarm round anyone who came out and clamour for scraps of food. The ‘revolutionary’ forms of speech were dropping out of use. Strangers seldom addressed you as and camarada nowadays; it was usually señor and Usted. Buenos días was beginning to replace salud. The waiters were back in their boiled shirts and the shop workers were cringing in their familiar manner ... In a furtive indirect way the practice of tipping was coming back ... cabaret shows and high-class brothels, many of which had been closed by the workers’ patrols, had promptly reopened. [136]

The final assault of the Stalinists and their allies on working class power took a draconian form on 3 May 1937 in Barcelona.

The May events

IN MAY 1937 the leaders of the Communist Party and their Russian overseers felt confident enough to behead any proletarian opposition in the centre of the revolution – Barcelona.

The offensive of the Stalinist-bourgeois coalition against the revolution did not pass without opposition. As a matter of fact the government faced increasing economic and social difficulties. Broué and Témime write:

The factories were barely producing, or only very slowly. The supply system was poor. The position was catastrophic where food was concerned. The cost of living had doubled between July 1936 and March 1937, whereas wages had risen an average of 15 percent. The minimum promised by the ration cards was by no means always guaranteed. There were endless lines at bakers’ shops. On the other hand, the black market was flourishing. Everywhere, even in Barcelona, restaurants and eating places were open again, but at prohibitive prices. The scores of offices that had replaced the Committees were often dens of corruption. The POUM and the CNT-FAI newspapers were full of letters from readers raising questions about the cost of living and calling for an end to privilege and inequality. On 14 April some women demonstrated in Barcelona against the price of food. Yet both the trade-union organisations and the parties never stopped asking the workers for ever-increasing sacrifices to contribute to military victory: they were greeted with scepticism and bitterness. [137]

The opposition to the government grew in strength. Again, to quote Broué and Témime,

In Barcelona, a group of militants hostile to the militarisation of the militias was organised under the label ‘Friends of Durruti’, who issued the newspaper El Amigo del Pueblo. In a pamphlet distributed in March 1937, they drew up what they regarded as a balance sheet: ‘Fight months of war and revolution have elapsed. We note with deep regret the deviations that have occurred in the trajectory of the Revolution ... An Anti-fascist Committee, Local Committees and Control Patrols were set up, and eight months later nothing remains of them.’ Their position on the war and the Revolution was similar to that of the POUM and the JCI [the POUM youth movement]: ‘The war and the Revolution are two aspects which cannot be divorced. In any case, we cannot accept that the Revolution should be put off until the end of the military conflict.’ In spring 1937 many local CNT and FAI organisations echoed these ideas, which appeared more or less everywhere in their newspapers, even in La Noche, the Barcelona CNT’s evening paper, signed by Balius, moving spirit of the ‘Friends of Durruti’. [138]

The Catalan Libertarian Youth denounced the coalition between the Communists and the Republicans as a reflection in Spain of the USSR’s alliance with France and England with the object of ‘strangling the revolution’.

It is understandable that the JCI’s slogans were favourably echoed in their ranks. On 14 February more than 14,000 young people attended a meeting in Barcelona for the formation of a revolutionary youth front in Catalonia. Speeches were made in turn by Fidel Miró, secretary of the Catalan Libertarian Youth, Solano, secretary-general of the JCI, and the young Libertarian Alfredo Martínez, secretary of the Catalan Front. The movement rapidly spread to other provinces: in Madrid and in the Levante, Libertarian Youth and JCI organised joint meetings and campaigns. [139]

The youth of the Socialist Party, the JSI, also joined the Revolutionary Youth Front. ‘In spring 1937 the conditions for a revolutionary upsurge were joined once again’. [140] The masses following the POUM and the CNT were growing restive as they were witnessing the gains of the July revolution being taken away from them.

The coalition of Stalinists and bourgeois Republicans prepared an assault on the proletariat of Catalonia. This took place just after the 1917 May Day celebrations. Although there were massive rallies elsewhere, the parade in Barcelona was banned. Nevertheless workers organisations were on the alert for provocation. It occurred on 3 May and was focused on the telephone exchange. This building had been recaptured in July from the insurgents by members of the CNT. Since then the telephone exchange, which belonged to the American Telegraph and Telephone Company, had been taken over and was operating under a CNT-UGT committee with a government delegate. That day Rodríguez Sala, Commissioner of Police and a member of PSUC, went to the Telephone Exchange with three truckloads of guards and tried to occupy it. The Anarchist telephone operators refused to surrender the exchange and sharp fighting broke out between the workers and the Asaltos.

On hearing the news the workers of Barcelona reacted dramatically. Although no organisation called for action, a general strike gripped the city. Barricades sprang up everywhere, and within hours much of the city was under the control of revolutionary workers. ‘By dawn on Tuesday [4 May] the barricades had gone up. With the exception of the area around the Generalitat, CNT and POUM workers held almost the whole of the city’. [141] Robert Louzon, in his study of the May days, stated that he was struck by the overwhelming superiority of the armed workers, masters of nine tenths of the city, almost without a struggle. [142]

After an interview with the CNT leaders, Companys spoke over the radio, repudiated Rodríguez Sala’s move on the Telefónica, and made an appeal for calm. The CNT Regional Committee supported him: ‘Lay down your arms. It is Fascism we must destroy.’ Solidaridad Obrera [Anarchist daily] only mentioned the events of the previous day on page eight and did not say a word about the barricades that covered the city. At 5 p.m. Hernández Zancajo, a UGT leader and personal friend of Largo Caballero, arrived by plane from Valencia with two Anarchist ministers, Garcia Oliver and Federica Montseny. They took turns on the air, adding their efforts to those of Companys and the CNT regional leaders: ‘A wave of madness has passed through the town,’ exclaimed Garcia Oliver. ‘We must put an immediate stop to this fratricidal struggle. Let each man stay where he is ... The government ... will take the necessary steps.’

On Wednesday 5 May the workers were still manning the barricades. The radio broadcast the text of the agreement made between the CNT and the Generalitat government cease-fire and military status quo, simultaneous withdrawal by police and armed civilians. No mention was made of control over the Telefónica. However the movement was receding. CNT elements from the Twenty-third Division and POUM elements from the Twenty-ninth, which had concentrated at Barbastro to march on Barcelona at the news of the events, did not proceed beyond Binéfar: delegates from the CNT Regional Committee also managed to persuade the commander of the Twenty-sixth Division, Gregorio Jover, that any aggressive move should be avoided. After some hesitation, another CNT leader, Juan Manuel Molina, undersecretary for defence in the Generalitat, managed to persuade the Anarchist officer Máximo Franco to halt his men at Binéfar ...

The Friends of Durruti called for the struggle to continue: the CNT-FAI repudiated their call with great vigor.

By Thursday 6 May order had nearly been restored. [143]

The same day Solidaridad Obrera [CNT daily] announced: ‘The CNT and the UGT have both commanded return to work’. [144]

On 7 May Solidaridad Obrera appeared with this caption: ‘The CNT and the UGT repeat the order to return to work’:

The struggle is over. Concord is reborn with peace. Workers, brothers, united as one man for fraternity and victory ... the Solidaridad Obrera was the first journal to foresee and condemn the painful events which have taken place in Barcelona ... Today the Workers’ Patrols have made a noble gesture, which indicates their high sense of responsibility, placing themselves under the orders of the special delegation of public order of the government of the Republic. [145]

After the events,

Mariano Vásquez, Secretary of the National Committee of the CNT, bragged in Madrid (according to the Solidaridad Obrera, May 15) how ‘The organization made great efforts to prevent the extension of the conflict. It decided to send a delegation to each regional committee to thwart alarm and the reproduction of the Catalonian conflict. It sent three delegates to the Aragon front to block the forces there from moving. It was but natural that, on knowing that their Barcelona comrades had been attacked, those at the front should try to help them ... In Barcelona the National Committee made incessant endeavours to terminate the struggle. There was really no need for the Central Government to take over the Public Order. [146]

Victor Alba and Stephen Schwartz are absolutely right about the crucial role of the CNT leaders in the ‘pacification’ of Barcelona.

The streets took six days to ‘pacify’, and when ‘order’ was finally restored, it was thanks not to the action of the police but to the speeches of the CNT leaders who ceaselessly called on the workers to return to work and lay down their arms.

If the CNT had taken power in Catalonia – where it could have done so, had it wanted to, in less than twenty-four hours – the situation would have changed in the rest of the republican zone. [147]

The May Days of 1937 were far bloodier than 19 July 1936.

The five days of fighting, which had on the whole been defensive, took an inordinately high toll: 500 dead and 1,000 wounded. The assassinations, particularly of Anarchist militants after the fighting ended, added to the toll. [148]

What was the role of the POUM in the May Days? Its leaders echoed the CNT leadership. Tosstorff writes:

On 6 May La Batalla published a statement from the Executive Committee, which presumably had already been issued the day before. It stated that in view of the counter-revolutionary provocation the POUM ‘in accordance with its character and its feeling’ had immediately placed itself on the side of the CNT and the FAI: ‘After the counter-revolutionary manoeuvre is foiled, the workers must withdraw from the struggle and make their way back ... to work again today ... The POUM orders all its armed fighters to withdraw from the barricades and the streets and return to work, but to continue to be on their guard.’ [149]

Thus the POUM adopted the policy of retreat, tailing behind the CNT leadership. La Batalla still gave the impression that the workers had repulsed the provocation and thus neglected to demand real guarantees against the Right. [150]

There were however those on the extreme left who called on workers not to give up the strike and the barricades. Thus on 5 May the Friends of Durrutti issued a leaflet which was a clarion call for struggle:

Disarm all the bourgeois forces. Socialisation of the economy. Dissolution of the political parties opposed to the working class. We will not surrender the streets. The revolution before everything. We greet our comrades of the POUM who have fraternised with us in the streets. For the Social Revolution. Down with the Counter-Revolution. [151]

Similarly, the small Trotskyist group issued a leaflet stating:

For the revolutionary offensive. No compromise. Disarm the reactionary Civil Guards and Assault Guards. The moment is decisive. Next time will be too late. General strike in all industries not working for war until the resignation of the reactionary government Only proletarian power can assure military victory. Full arming of the working class. Long live the unity of the CNT-FM and POUM. Long live the unity of the Revolutionary United Front. Committees of revolutionary defence in the shops, factories and on the barricades.

Bolshevik-Leninists, Spanish Section. For the Fourth International. [152]

Alas, these voices were far too weak to influence the mass of the workers in Barcelona.

In the POUM itself there was much unease at the behaviour of the party. The local committee of the POUM in Barcelona sharply criticised the executive of its party which it accused of having ‘capitulated’ to counter-revolution, under the pressure from the conciliatory leaders of the CNT.

The right wing of the POUM was represented by the opposite position, as taken by its Valencia branch. Its leader, Luis Portela, condemned the party leadership during the May Days as ‘adventuristic’.

At a regional conference of the POUM Portela explicitly opposed the slogan of a workers’ government because it would lead to the separation of the Republicans from the anti-fascist bloc.

After the May Days the tensions in the POUM increased so much that a split by the Valencians seemed likely. But it soon became clear that Portela and the Valencia branch were isolated even in their own region. The POUM youth, the JCI, now demanded the expulsion of Portela and his supporters. The only reason a split did not take place was that on 16 June the POUM fell victim to persecution. Even so this did not mean that the differences in the party disappeared, as was shortly to be shown. [153] [5*]

The May Days sounded the death of the revolution: from now on everything went backwards, although the struggle against Franco went on for another twenty-one months.

Trotsky on the May days

IN FAR away Mexico Trotsky had a very clear grasp of the events in Barcelona. On 24 August 1937 he wrote:

All the reports after the events show that with a leadership with any seriousness and confidence in itself the victory of the May insurrection would have been assured ...

... If the Catalan proletariat had seized power in May 1937 – as it had really seized it in July 1936 – they would have found support throughout all of Spain. The bourgeois-Stalinist reaction would not even have found two regiments with which to crush the Catalan workers. In the territory occupied by Franco not only the workers but also the peasants would have turned toward the Catalan proletariat, would have isolated the fascist army and brought about its irresistible disintegration. It is doubtful whether under these conditions any foreign government would have risked throwing its regiments onto the burning soil of Spain. Intervention would have become materially impossible, or at least extremely dangerous.

Naturally, in every insurrection, there is an element of uncertainty and risk. But the subsequent course of events has proven that even in the case of defeat the situation of the Spanish proletariat would have been incomparably more favourable than now, to say nothing of the fact that the revolutionary party would have assured its future. [157]

For Trotsky, the POUM’s failure to lead the struggle for proletarian power in May 1937 was the greatest betrayal of all. On 22 October 1937 he writes:

At a distance of some thousands of miles, without having the information that one could find solely at the place of action, one was still able to ask in the month of May whether the conquest of power was not materially possible. But since then documents, reports, innumerable articles have appeared in the press of all the tendencies. All the facts, all the data, all the testimony lead to the same conclusion: the conquest of power was possible, was assured, as much as the issue of the struggle can be assured in general in advance. The most important evidence comes from the Anarchists. Since the May insurrection, Solidaridad Obrera has not ceased to repeat the same plaintive melody: ‘We are accused of having been the instigator of the May rebellion. But we were completely opposed to it. The proof? Our adversaries know it as well as we: if we had wished to take power, we could have accomplished it in May with certainty. But we are against dictatorship, etc. etc.’

The misfortune is precisely that the CNT did not want power. The misfortune is that the leadership of the POUM was passively adapting itself to the leadership of the CNT ... The CNT, of which the POUM was a shadow, is now losing its positions one after the other ... the CNT and the POUM have done just about everything to assure the victory of the Stalinists, that is, of the counter-revolution. [158]

Tragically, Trotsky’s brilliant writings were a cry in the wilderness. He had only a handful of adherents in Spain. After Nin and the ICE fused with BOC to form the POUM, the remnants of the Trotskyists, fearing isolation, tried to join the POUM, asking for the right to form a faction. And this was Nin’s reply, on 13 November 1936:

Dear comrades,

In response to your letter of 30 October, the executive committee bring your attention to the following:

  1. You can enter the party individually but not as a group.
  2. Insofar as belonging to the POUM is incompatible with affiliation to any other political organisation, you must leave the Bolshevik-Leninist organisation.
  3. You must publicly declare that you dissociate yourself from and condemn the slanderous and defamatory campaign led against our party in the various publications of the so-called IVth International.
  4. 4) It is understood that, in accordance with the established norms, you renounce all factional activity within the party.

Andrés Nin [159]

The Trotskyists obviously could not accept these terms. They formed themselves into a group, calling themselves the Bolshevik-Leninists of Spain, For the IVth International. At the beginning of April 1937 they started a hectographed bulletin under the title La voz Leninista. Altogether three issues of the paper appeared: 5 April 1937, 23 August 1937 and 5 February 1938. The membership of the group was 30, the majority foreigners to start with. [160] In September 1938, according to the report to the Founding Conference of the Fourth International, the membership was 10-30. [161]

The trend was clear but depressing. In the stormy revolutionary events of France in June 1936 Trotsky had a few hundred adherents. Now the Spanish revolution had arrived and Trotsky had even fewer firm supporters – a score or so!

Further advance of the counter-revolution

THE MAY DAY events in Barcelona marked the end of the revolution. From now on the counter-revolution would accelerate.

Following the May events the bloc of Stalinists and bourgeois Republicans went on the offensive, with its first target the POUM. On 28 May La Batalla was suppressed. During the night of 16 June all the members of the POUM executive committee were arrested. Andrés Nin was taken away separately by the GPU (by this time well entrenched in Spain) and subsequently murdered in secret. [6*]

The POUM was not alone in being attacked. When, on 15 May, Largo Caballero had resisted the demand of the Stalinists to suppress the POUM, the bourgeois ministers, as well as the right wing Socialist ministers, joined them to oust Caballero from the premiership. He was replaced by the right wing Socialist Juan Negrin. Shortly after this the offensive against Caballero was taken into the UGT. Caballero had been its general secretary since 1918. An imposed new executive committee under Gonzáles Peña’s chairmanship declared its complete loyalty to the Negrin government. The government recognised this executive committee as the sole legitimate authority. No congress of the UGT was allowed. Caballero was arrested and forced out of all political action.

An apparatus of repression was established. The Popular Tribunals were reorganised. A decree on 23 June 1937 established special tribunals for the repression of crimes of spying and high treason. They were made up of three civilian and two military jurymen, all appointed by the government. The term, ‘Offences of Spying and High Treason’ was sufficiently elastic to embrace all opposition. Broué and Témime write:

As before the Revolution, trade-union meetings had to be authorised by the delegate for public order, after a request made at least three days in advance. As before the Revolution, censorship, justified at the outset by military necessity, was now imposed on political attitudes. On 18 May Adelante [Caballero’s mouthpiece] appeared with its first page blank, under the headline ¡Viva Largo Caballero! On 18 June the government established a monopoly of radio broadcasts and seized transmitters from the various headquarters. On 7 August Solidaridad Obrera was given five days’ suspension for committing a breach of the censorship directives by appearing with ‘blanks’ to indicate censored passages: the censorship was working and demanded that no trace remain of its activities. On 14 August a circular banned all criticism of the Russian government. [163]

A special role in the apparatus of repression was played by SIM (Servicio de Investigación Militar) [established] by a decree on 15 August 1937. Initially a counter-espionage service, it very soon became an all-powerful political police force, able to make arrests and grant releases without trial or investigation other than its own ... A few months after its formation, the SIM, which was completely immune from the authority of the minister of war, had more than 6,000 agents and was in control of prisons and concentration camps. [164]

Now Negrin and his war minister Prieto went further in a ruthless reorganisation of the militias into bourgeois regiments, officered by bourgeois appointees, and under the old military code. On 5 October 1937 soldiers were forbidden from taking part in political demonstrations.

The land and factories taken over by the workers in 1936 were now to be returned to their former owners.

Many proprietors reported ‘missing’ returned; others were released from prison. All reclaimed their lands, seized in 1936: they had right and the law on their side, as well as government support. In Catalonia, the application of the collectivisation decree was suspended, because it was ‘contrary to the spirit of the Constitution’. The decree of 28 August 1937 enabled the government, through intervención, to take over any metallurgical or mining concern. Soon afterwards, on 26 February 1938, The Economist wrote: ‘Intervention by the state in industry, as opposed to collectivisation and workers’ control, is re-establishing the principle of private property.’ Managers and directors recovered their posts. [165]

Negrin’s cabinet was christened ‘The Government of Victory’. History demonstrated how grotesque was that christening. The only victory Negrin won was against the workers and peasants. Its record on the military front against Franco was a total catastrophe. Clausewitz’s maxim that ‘war is simply the continuation of politics by other means’ applies even more to civil wars: it is a continuation of the politics of the class struggle. Politics always determines the means and ends of the two camps embroiled in the civil war. Hence Trotsky was absolutely convinced that the victory over fascism in the Spanish Civil War depended much less on military technique than on the politics followed by the anti-fascists. At the very beginning of the Spanish civil war, on 30 July 1936 Trotsky wrote:

From a purely military point of view the Spanish revolution is much weaker than its enemy. Its strength lies in its ability to rouse the great masses to action. It can even take the army away from its reactionary officers. To accomplish this, it is only necessary to seriously and courageously advance the programme of the socialist revolution.

It is necessary to proclaim that, from now on, the land, factories, and shops will pass from the hands of the capitalists into the hands of the people. It is necessary to move at once towards the realisation of this programme in those provinces where the workers are in power. The fascist army could not resist the influence of such a programme for twenty-four hours; the soldiers would tie their officers hand and foot and turn them over to the nearest headquarters of the workers’ militia.

But such a policy was not compatible with the Popular Front.

... the bourgeois ministers cannot accept such a programme. Curbing the social revolution, they compel the workers and peasants to spill ten times as much of their own blood in the civil war. And to crown everything, these gentlemen expect to disarm these workers again after the victory and to force them to respect the sacred laws of private property. Such is the true essence of policy of the Popular Front. Everything else is pure humbug, phrases, and lies! [166]

The Stalinists argued that it was necessary sharply to limit social reforms in order to avoid alienating the liberal bourgeoisie and democratic governments of France and Britain, from whom they hoped to secure aid. In fact the Spanish bourgeoisie was in Franco-controlled territory, and the hope of persuading the imperialist bourgeoisie of France and Britain to support the Republic was groundless. Under the guise of neutrality Paris and London refused even to sell arms to the legitimate government of Spain, while Franco got massive military aid from Germany and Italy.

At the end of the civil war Trotsky looked back and repeated the same argument that only the socialist revolution could have overcome Franco’s advance:

If the peasants had seized the land and the workers the factories, Franco never would have been able to wrest this victory from their hands!

... The Spanish revolution was socialist in its essence: the workers attempted several times to overthrow the bourgeoisie, to seize the factories; the peasants wanted to take the land. The Popular Front led by the Stalinists strangled the socialist revolution in the name of an outlived bourgeois democracy. Hence the disappointment, the hopelessness, the discouragement of the masses of workers and peasants, the demoralisation of the republican army, and as a result, the military collapse. [167]


1*. Junta – a traditional form of revolutionary committee, first formed during the national war against Napoleon in 1808, and repeatedly since.

2*. CNT, Confederación Nacional del Trabajo (National Confederation of Labour), the anarcho-syndicalist trade union centre; leading personalities of the CNT were at the same time members of the FAI, Federación Anarquista Ibérica (Iberian Anarchist Confederacy), the political organisation of the anarchists.

3*. UGT, Unión General de Trabajadores (General Workers’ Union), the socialist trade union centre, corresponding to the British TUC, collectively affiliated to the Socialist Party, whose main strength derived from the UGT. The Communists too belonged to the UGT.

4*. CEDA, Confederación Españole de Derechas Autónomas (Electoral Confederation of the Autonomous groups of the Right), a united front organisation of all the parties of the Right under the leadership of Gil Robles.

5*. The POUM, as a centrist organisation, lived throughout the civil war in a state of permanent crisis, and finally split. At a meeting of its Central Committee at the end of November 1937 sharp and clear differences revealed themselves. On one side stood a bloc of Josep Rebull with Solano and Andrade, arguing against all Popular Front policy and for a ‘revolutionary workers’ front’. At the other extreme stood Portela and Co. A tactical variant in support of the Popular Front was that of Jordi Arquer, who called for the building of a ‘revolutionary workers’ front’ as a left faction inside the anti-fascist front. As Portela and his supporters voted for this resolution, it won the day, by 22 votes to 13. [154]

A Central Committee meeting of 5-6 March went even further in the direction of the Popular Front [155]

After the Second World War Maurín declared that the policies of the POUM during the civil war were wrong – a revolutionary policy under these conditions was wrong. He agreed with the right wing of the party. [156] The POUM disbanded and joined the Socialist Party.

The conflicts inside the POUM were not taken advantage of by the Bolshevik-Leninists. They were too few in number to affect the debate inside the POUM or to take advantage of the increasing differentiation in its ranks.

6*. Trotsky responded to the news of Nin’s assassination in an article for the Bulletin of the Opposition. While explaining that Nin was not in any sense a Trotskyist he denounced the Stalinist slander that Nin and the POUM were ‘agents’ of Franco:

The absurdity of this accusation is clear to anyone who is acquainted with even the simplest facts about the Spanish revolution. The members of the POUM fought heroically against the fascists on all fronts in Spain. Nin is an old and incorruptible revolutionary ...

The GPU calls everyone who is in opposition to the Soviet bureaucracy a Trotskyist. This makes their bloody vengeance easy ...

[Nin] did not want the POUM to become a tool in the hands of Stalin. He refused to cooperate with the GPU against the interests of the Spanish people. This was his only crime. And for this crime he paid with his life. [162]


1. L. Trotsky, The Spanish Revolution 1931-39, New York 1973, p.69.

2. Ibid., pp.59-60.

3. Ibid., pp.85-6 Notes 403.

4. Ibid., p.130.

5. Ibid..

6. K. Marx and F. Engels, Collected Works, Vol.13, London 1980, p.391.

7. Trotsky, The Spanish Revolution, p.244.

8. R. Fraser, Blood of Spain, London 1979, p.514.

9. Ibid., p.42.

10. Ibid., p.521.

11. H. Thomas, The Spanish Civil War, London 1977, p.127.

12. Ibid., p.91.

13. Fraser, p.42.

14. P. Broué and E. Témime, The Revolution and Civil War in Spain, London 1972, p.48.

15. Thomas, p.49.

16. Fraser, p.525.

17. Ibid., p.526.

18. Ibid., p.530.

19. G. Brenan, The Spanish Labyrinth, Cambridge 1971, p.235.

20. Ibid., p.237.

21. Thomas, p.127.

22. Ibid., p.186..

23. Brenan, p.253.

24. Ibid., p.254.

25. Ibid., pp.258-9.

26. Ibid., p.249.

27. Broué and Témime, p.49.

28. Brenan, p.269.

29. Ibid., p.270.

30. Ibid., p.271.

31. Ibid., p.282.

32. Ibid., p.284.

33. Ibid., pp.286-9.

34. Ibid., p.292.

35. P. Pagés, El Movimiento Trotskista en España 1930-1935, Barcelona 1977, pp.40-3.

36. P. Pagés, Andreu Nin: su evolucion politica 1911-1937, Madrid 1975, p.148.

37. P. Broué, editor, L. Trotsky, La révolution espagnole 1930-1940, Paris 1975, p.36.

38. Trotsky, The Spanish Revolution, p.369.

39. Ibid., p.370.

40. Ibid., pp.370-1.

41. Ibid., p.371.

42. V. Alba, Histoire du POUM, Paris 1975, p.34.

43. R. Tosstorff, Die POUM im spanischen Bürgerkrieg, Frankfurt, p.17.

44. Alba, p.68.

45. Ibid..

46. V. Alba and S. Schwartz, Spanish Marxism versus Soviet Communism. A History of the POUM, New Brunswick 1988, p.47.

47. Introduction to L. Trotsky, The Spanish Revolution, p.31.

48. Pagés, El Movimiento Trotskista en España, p.94.

49. A. Durgan, The Spanish Trotskyists and the Foundation of the POUM, The Spanish Civil War. The View from the Left, Revolutionary History, Vol.4, nos 1/2, London 1992, p.18.

50. Trotsky, The Spanish Revolution, p.371.

51. Ibid., p.372.

52. Ibid., p.373.

53. Ibid., p.385.

54. Ibid..

55. Ibid., pp.386-7.

56. Ibid., p.387.

57. Ibid., p.374.

58. Tosstorff, p.14.

59. Ibid., p.388.

60. Ibid., p.375.

61. Ibid., p.388.

62. Ibid., pp.388-90.

63. Ibid., p.376.

64. Ibid., p.377.

65. Ibid., p.379.

66. Pagés, El Movimiento Trotskista en España, pp.124-8.

67. Durgan, in The Spanish Civil War, p.25.

68. Fraser, p.552.

69. Trotsky, The Spanish Revolution, Introduction, p.33.

70. El Socialista, 29 April 1934, cited in R.A.H. Robinson, The Origins of Franco Spain, Pittsburgh 1970, p.182. Further on the swing to the left of the PSOE, see A. Durgan, The Rise and Fall of Largo Caballero, International Socialism, 18, Winter 1983.

71. Trotsky, The Spanish Revolution, p.202.

72. Ibid., p.206.

73. Comunismo, Sept. 1934, Alba and Schwartz, op. cit, p.41.

74. Tosstorff, p.47.

75. L. Trotsky, La révolution Espagnole, p.297.

76. Pagés, El Movimiento Trotskista en España, pp.184-9.

77. Trotsky, La révolution Espagnole, pp.304-5.

78. Maurin’s testimony dates from 1972. Tosstorff, pp.48-9.

79. Broué and Témime, pp.75-6.

80. Brenan, p.301.

81. Broué and Témime, pp.80-1.

82. Thomas, p.5.

83. F. Morrow, Revolution and Counter-revolution in Spain, New York 1974, p.45.

84. Broué and Témime, p.81.

85. Thomas, pp.169-70.

86. Fraser, p.521.

87. Thomas, p.190.

88. Morrow, p.48.

89. Thomas, p.220.

90. Morrow, p.49.

91. Broué and Témime, pp.121-2.

92. F. Borkenau, The Spanish Cockpit, London 1932, p.71.

93. Ibid., p.76.

94. Ibid., pp.115-16.

95. Ibid., pp.123-5.

96. Broué and Témime, p.129.

97. Trotsky, The Spanish Revolution, p.209.

98. Fraser, p.341.

99. Tosstorff, p.242.

100. Ibid., p.350.

101. Fraser, p.340.

102. El Comunista, 5 December 1936.

103. Trotsky, La révolution espagnole, p.318.

104. Trotsky, The Spanish Revolution, pp.308-9.

105. Ibid., p.309.

106. Ibid., p.310.

107. Ibid., p.309.

108. Ibid., p.322.

109. Ibid., p.86.

110. Borkenau, p.131.

111. Thomas, p.653.

112. Ibid., p.646.

113. Broué and Témime, p 232.

114. Borkenau, p.192.

115. Broué and Témime, p.229.

116. Ibid., p.92.

117. Thomas, p.180.

118. Fraser, p.186.

119. Broué and Témime, pp.207-8.

120. Trotsky, The Spanish Revolution, p.316.

121. Ibid., p.146.

122. Quoted in Buschak, p.207.

123. Fraser, p.321.

124. Broué and Temimé, p.204.

125. La Batalla, 17 December 1936, Buschak, p.240.

126. Trotsky, The Spanish Revolution, p.351.

127. Ibid., p.134.

128. Tosstorff, p.165.

129. Trotsky, The Spanish Revolution, pp.317-8, 345-6.

130. Alba, p.153.

131. P. Pagés, Andreu Nin, pp.232-3.

132. Trotsky, The Spanish Revolution, pp.318, 343.

133. Alba and Schwartz, p.140.

134. Morrow, p.124.

135. Borkenau, pp.174-5.

136. G. Orwell, Homage to Catalonia, London 1989, pp.93-4.

137. Broué and Témime, p.275.

138. Ibid., p.277.

139. Ibid., p.278.

140. Ibid., pp.279.

141. Fraser, p.378.

142. Broué and Témime, p.287.

143. Ibid., pp.283-4.

144. H. Oehler, eyewitness of the May events, Barricades in Barcelona, New York 1937, reissued 1982, p.11.

145. Ibid., pp.12-13.

146. Ibid., p.16.

147. Alba and Schwartz, pp.189-90.

148. Fraser, pp.382-3.

149. Tosstorff, pp.214-5.

150. Ibid., p.224.

151. Oehler, p.10.

152. Ibid., p.17.

153. Tosstorff, pp.240-1.

154. Ibid., pp.333-4.

155. Ibid., p.335.

156. Ibid., p.367.

157. Trotsky, The Spanish Revolution, pp.277, 279.

158. Ibid., pp.302-3.

159. Trotsky, La révolution Espagnole 1930-1940, p.726.

160. Tosstorff, p.311.

161. Reisner, p.289.

162. Trotsky, The Spanish Revolution, pp.267-8.

163. Broué and Témime, p.312.

164. Ibid., pp.312-3.

165. Ibid., pp.313-4.

166. Trotsky, The Spanish Revolution, p.235.

167. Ibid., p.347.

Last updated on 4 August 2009