Andrés Nin

The Labor Movement in Spain

(23 August 1922)

From International Press Correspondence, Vol. 2 No. 71, 23 August 1922, pp. 536–537.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Marxists’ Internet Archive.

The latest news prove the correctness of our summary criticism of the movement before the Conference of the National Labor Federation in Saragossa. A reading of the minutes of the Conference, will convince any one that the delegates of the Anarchist Party (we say Party, because the Anarchists acted in conscious cooperation) had formulated their plans long in advance to bring about the secession from the Red International of Labor Unions – that is an actual coup d’etat. The results could then have easily been foreseen.

The debates took place in an excited, passionate, but nevertheless correct atmosphere. The insults directed against the Moscow delegates during the last month found no echo at the Conference. The most important speeches are those of Pestaña and Orlandis. The former gave a report on the activity of the delegation to the Second World Congress of the Communist International. He could not have performed that duty any earlier because, as is well-known, he was arrested immediately upon his return from Russia, and had obtained his freedom only a few weeks ago, Pestaña remarked that he had signed a compromise at Moscow only against his will and because he believed that he was bound to do so by the decision of the Second National Congress.

Comrade Orlandis, in a lengthy speech, showed that the Spanish delegation to the Charter Congress of the R.I.L.U. had acted in accordance with the orders it had received. He demanded that the final decision be left to the National Congress.

Segni, one of the foremost anarchist leaders, for a long time general secretary of the Catalonian Federation, and whose reformistic tendencies came to light in the past few months, defended the secession from the Moscow International, “from whom we are separated for ideological as well as tactical reasons”. But justice demands that we establish here that neither Pestaña nor Segni, if they did criticise the leaders of the Communist Party of Russia, fell into the error of condemning the Russian Revolution, and insulting it, as did Borghi, at the Rome Congress.

Other delegates took part in the discussion, and it was finally decided to appoint a committee to draw up a resolution. Three days were spent on the discussion of the R.I.L.U. question. The resolution which was finally adopted, decided that the adhesion of the National Labor Federation to the Third International was less a matter of agreement with the principles of the Russian Revolution than an expression of sympathy and solidarity with it, and that therefore, the Conference must decide in principle the secession of the N.L.F. from the R.I.L.U. But since a conference could not change the decisions of a National Congress, the Conference would recommend to all labor unions affiliated to the N.L.F., a decided withdrawal from the R.I.L.U. and the Third International, and the support of all attempts to create a Red Trade Union International, independent of all parties. These questions should be put to the members within a month.

The desire of the Anarchists for a brutal break with the International, a question which vitally interests the Spanish proletariat, may easily be recognized in the wording of the resolution.

The offensive of the capitalists against wages and the eight-hour day has begun in Spain. To meet this offensive the Saragossa Conference decided to leave to the individual organizations full liberty to prepare the counter-offensive. The respect lor abstract principles and the painstaking care to preserve the purity of federalisting principles would have menaced again the interests of the working class, if the proletariat had not reacted against them in large mass movements.

In Biscaya, in Asturia, the united mine and metal workers are conducting an heroic fight against the attempts of the bourgeoisie to force them to submission, and their reformistic leaders are forced against their will in this mighty proletarian current, the Communist Party which, at the meeting of the Enlarged Executive in February 1922, had decided against the application of the united front, has recognized that discipline is the fundamental necessity of any fighting International, and has finally submitted. Its Central Committee sent to the various Central Executives of the General Labor Union (Amsterdam affiliation), to the General Workers’ Federation, to the Socialist Party, to the Anarchist groups, as well as to the independent trade union organizations the following program, in which the basis for the formation of a united front is laid:

The stand of the Party is much clearer than that of the NLF. and we are convinced that it corresponds to the desires of the great majority of the workers who have united to oppose the capitalist offensive with this program.

It is apparent that after the three tragic years which the Spanish proletariat has suffered under the worst white terror, and during which time it committed so many mistakes, a revision of the methods and tactics of the NLF. is a necessity. Nevertheless, nothing has happened in this direction. In Saragossa, the delegates have been satisfied to declare that the NLF would remain true to the principles of anarchistic Communism. This constitutes no great danger to capitalism, and the bourgeoisie can rejoice.

Resolutions were also passed which promised support to those comrades who are being persecuted by bourgeois justice. The position of these comrades demands the serious attention of the international proletariat. Constitutional guarantees have been restored, and a great number of our militants were released. Nevertheless, there are still several hundred comrades indicted for crimes which they have never committed, from whom they are trying to draw confessions under the most horrible tortures. On the 3rd of this month, Comrades Carbo, Boiren, Parra, and Esteve will appear before the court in Valencia to answer for the murder of the former governor of Barcelona, Maestre Laborde. The most unheard-of penalties are demanded for the accused. But we can reassure everyone that all defendants are totally innocent.

Further, fifty comrades accused of direct or indirect participation in the murder of Dictator Dato will appear before the Madrid Court. The death penalty hangs over the heads of some of these comrades. The penalties demanded for the others will amount to several hundred years of prison. And in Barcelona the white bands continue their crimes under the protection of governor Martinez Anido and the chief of Police, Arlegui.

The international proletariat must be on its guard against the new attacks of the bourgeoisie in Spain. Many murders may be prevented, if the workers of other countries manifest their solidarity with their Spanish brothers and help the N.L.F., the only organization which, in spite of its errors, has been conducting an heroic, determined fight against the capitalist class.

Last updated on 9 August 2020