Andres Nin

The Possibilities of Fascism in Spain

(28 June 1923)

From International Press Correspondence, Vol. 3 No. 47 [27], 28 June 1923, pp. 465–466.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Marxists’ Internet Archive.

Spain is a pre-eminently agrarian country. Out of 20 million inhabitants, there are scarcely 2 million industrial workers. The great majority of the country population consists of agricultural laborers, who are employed on the great farms of central and southern Spain. In other parts of Spain agrarian conditions vary greatly. There are medium farmers, poor smallholders, tenant farmers, and besides these semi-farmers, who possess a piece of land but are occupied at the same time as laborers. Thus in Spain there does not exist any great compact mass of small landowners, who can form, as in Italy, a serious danger for the revolutionary proletariat. The great majority of agricultural laborers join forces with the city workers, with whose aid they have already carried on great joint struggles.

A second important element of Fascism, the one-time officers and other elements declassed by the great war, is lacking in Spain. The Spanish state is in a condition of complete disintegration. The bourgeoisie possesses no large organized parties, apart from that of the Catalonian industrialists. Neither is there in Spain any powerful nationalist movement; as in Italy.

Thus the situation in Spain is objectively favorable for revolutionary development, but the proletariat is not capable of utilizing this favorable situation. There is no firm and disciplined labor organization, and the Communist Party is still weak. But on the other hand certain tendencies towards Fascism may be observed.

These tendencies are incorporated in the following counter-revolutionary organizations:

  1. The Somates: an armed organization of the bourgeoisie in Catalonia. In Barcelona alone it counts over 12,000 members.
  2. The Action Ciudadana: This organization is similar to the Somates. but much weaker in numbers. It exists in various cities, especially in Madrid and Saragossa.
  3. The so-called “free trade unions”, a police organization, which has nothing in common with the trade unions beyond the name. In reality these are bands for murdering the best known comrades.
  4. The Requetes: This is the youth organization of the arch-reactionary party known as the Carlist. They possess military organization, and have already murdered several of their political opponents. They co-operate with the bands of the so-called “ free trade unions”.
  5. The Juntas de Defensa: These are organizations of the active officers of the army, and were founded in the yea? 1917. They form a sort of secret government upon which the political organizations of the country are dependent. They are powerful, dissatisfied with the policy of the official government, above all in Morocco, and there is imminent danger of their attack.

In Barcelona the big industrial bourgeoisie has formed an organization. This has adopted the name of “Fomento del Trabajo Nacional”. It exercises a great influence on the government, aided by the strongest political party of the Catalonian bourgeoisie, known as the regionalist party. The men who play the leading part in this employers’ union stand openly for the necessity of creating a Fascist movement in Spain. Besides this there is a general employers’ union, well organized, and assembling the forces of the collective big. medium, and petty bourgeoisies of the country. This union also favors the formation of bands of murderers. Its former president, Graupera, delivered several addresses calling upon the employers to follow the Italian example. An Italian Fascist general, Novelli, also delivered an address in Barcelona. The organ of the employers’ union, Production, Commerce, and Consumption, wrote in its March number:

“The victory of Fascism has freed Italy from mob rule, and has made it impossible for an impudent minority, which wanted to transform the wonderful sky of Italy into the melancholy nothern sky of Russia, to do any more harm. Though Fascism has won its victory at the cost of many acts of injustice and violence, still the communists represent the system of Terror, and of tyranny exercised by the ignorant masses. The aim of Fascism is the restoration of national soundness, but communism is only the imperialism of the men in Moscow.”

At the beginning of April Senor Cainbo, the leader of the regionalist party, declared at a meeting that the lowering of the costs of production must be enforced, by the use of extreme violence if necessary; and Ossorio, the leader of the new “Social People’s Party” emphasized in a speech that should he have to choose between democracy and “action” (by which he meant Fascism), then he would choose “action”. In April the secretary of the “free trade unions” journeyed to Italy for purposes of study, and a group was formed in Barcelona under the name of Traza. This group published an appeal, in which it spoke somewhat vaguely about its aims. But in Spain it is well known that this organization is anxious to follow the example of Italian Fascism.

The situation is extremely grave. The reformists still advocate the policy of class collaboration. The anarcho-syndicalists, who still exercise a great influence, are in a state of complete confusion. It is only the communists and the followers of the Red International of Labor Unions who have given the working masses concrete slogans. They recommend the formation of the proletarian united front and a decisive mass action. If the working class follows these slogans, the Spanish proletariat will save itself. Strongly organized, it will be invincible. But should there be no such proletarian organization, then the Fascist elements may attempt to follow the Italian example.

Last updated on 14 October 2021