Andres Nin

Problems of the Spanish Revolution

Mistakes of Comrade Maurin


From The Militant, Vol. IV No. 19, 15 August 1931, p. 4.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Marxists’ Internet Archive.

(Continued from Last Issue)

The Theory of the Four Revolutions

According to comrade Maurin, there are four revolutions to be realized in Spain: the economic revolution, the political revolution, the religious revolution, and the national revolution.

This way of putting the question is wrong from every angle and has absolutely nothing in common with Marxism. All revolutions have an economic character. If they did not have, there would be no such revolutions, for they are characterized precisely by the fact that they radically transform economic relations. On the other hand an economic revolution which is not at the same time political would have no meaning, inasmuch as politics, as has been said time and again, is nothing but “concentrated economics”. In this way, one cannot speak of an economic revolution and a political revolution as two distinct and separate ideas.

The religious revolution that upset Europe in the nineteenth century was precisely an economic and political revolution, characterized by the struggle of the bourgeoisie against feudalism, which had found its principal defender in the papacy. In Spain, in reality, it is not the problem of the religious revolution that is posed but rather the problem of the relations between the church and state, which is only one aspect of the bourgeois-democratic revolution. That is why in this sense it can be said that in reality none of the religious revolutions of the sixteenth century can be considered as such. Religion is only the formality which covers up the struggle of capitalist society against feudalism.

The same can be said about the problem of nationalities. In our country, it is not the problem of a national revolution that is posed, but rather of a movement of emancipation of the nationalities, which is simply nothing but one aspect of the bourgeois-democratic revolution.

In Spain, therefore, there is only one revolution to be carried out, as a consequence of the contradiction existing between the productive relations and the juridical-political superstructure And this revolution can have at its head only the working class, establishing its dictatorship.

The Question of Nationalities

In dealing with the so-called “national revolution”, Maurin made a declaration which produced great astonishment, not among the intellectuals of the Ateneo, as he claims, but among the Communists. “I am going to make an assertion” he said, approximately, “which may cause amazement: The Catalonian-Balearic Communist Federation is separatist.”

The astonishment of the Communists could not be more justified.

The emancipation movement of the oppressed nationalities constitutes a revolutionary factor of the first order; and plays a role of extraordinary importance in the bourgeois-democratic revolution. The Communist could by no means adopt an attitude of prohibition towards this movement, disdainfully considering that it “is an affair of the bourgeoisie” or combating it in the name of an abstract internationalism which only serves in reality as a cover for imperialism, as a defense of despotic centralism. The Communist, who is the vigorous enemy of all oppression, will pronounce himself determinedly for the recognition of the right of the peoples to dispose freely of their destinies, including their right to separation from the state of which they form a part if that is their wish. On this point, there cannot be the slightest ambiguity. But, does this mean that the Communist should declare himself partisan of independence? In no way, least of all insofar as the Communists of the oppressed nations are concerned. The duty of the Communist will consist of fighting against all chauvinism which seeks to liquidate the class struggle into a national unity, and of placing above the national differences the solidarity of the proletariat of all the peoples.

Maurin would not have adopted a fundamentally erroneous orientation in this highly important question if, instead of turning his back contemptuously to the Russian revolution, he had drunk directly at the fountain of the theory and the practise of the Bolshevik party. Lenin left us a perfectly constructed doctrine on the national question. Maurin ought to have drawn his inspiration from it, giving up his sterile attempt to create an absurd theory about “national revolution”.

National Convention or Dictatorship of the Proletariat?

Insofar as the appreciation of the events in Spain is concerned, there is one point upon which all the tendencies of Communism concur: the Spanish revolution finds itself today in the bourgeois-democratic stage.

The differences come forward when it is a matter of settling the strategic and tactical line. The Stalinists, copying slavishly Lenin’s formula of 1905-1907, finally abandoned by Lenin himself in 1917 – and not its spirit – put forward the slogan of the “democratic dictatorship of the workers and the peasants” as if between the bourgeois republic and the dictatorship of the proletariat there could exist an intermediate regime. This conception led the Chinese revolution to an enormous disaster. The Communist Left Opposition, drawing its inspiration not from dead formulae but from living experience, declares that the bourgeois-democratic revolution can only be realized by the dictatorship of the proletariat. The Communists must not lose sight of this strategic line of their position and they have to subordinate their tactics to it. This does not exclude, but on the contrary, it presupposes democratic slogans in the present, period towards the end that the worker and peasant masses shall convince themselves, upon the basis of their own experience, that the only road leading to their emancipation is the establishment of the proletarian dictatorship.

Maurin who according to his declarations, is not an “orthodox” Communist (what does he mean by this? for up to now the orthodox Communist has everywhere been the one who remained true to the doctrine of revolutionary Marxism) but who, in reality, endeavors to adopt an intermediate line between Stalinism and the Communist Left Opposition, does not pronounce himself either for the position of the former or for that of the latter; but, as we have said, politics does not tolerate a vacuum; and that is why, seeing himself obliged to adopt a definite position, he chooses the road of the radical petty bourgeoisie.

”The Constituent,” he says, “cannot realize the democratic revolution. This must be the work of a national convention directed by the advanced elements of the Ateneo of Madrid.”. The author of these lines finds himself obliged to combat vigorously this false point of view which, should it triumph, would bring incalculable evil to the Spanish revolution. No assembly of the bourgeois democratic type – we contend – can realize the democratic revolution under the present circumstances. The Jacobins of today are the Communists and not the advanced elements of the Ateneo, typical representatives of the radical petty bourgeoisie condemned to impotence. The sole organism equivalent today to the French convention of the eighteenth century cannot be other than the congress of the Soviets or of the revolutionary Juntas, instruments of the dictatorship of the proletariat and the supreme expression of proletarian democracy as against bourgeois democracy. The point of view of Maurin can only lead to diverting the masses from their true objectives and to strengthening their illusions in the possibility of a deep-going democratic revolution realized by the petty bourgeoisie.

* * * *

The author of those lines has been bound to Maurin by an old and sincere friendship and it is not without sorrow that he has decided to combat his erroneous points of view. But, amicus Plato, sed magis amica veritas (Plato is my friend, but truth I hold more dearly).

Only ideological clarity, the indispensable basis for effective action, can avert disaster for the Spanish revolution. We would like to believe, notwithstanding, that Maurin – although since his lecture in Madrid he has had disturbing relapses – will correct his mistakes and decide to rectify his equivocal position. It is ardently desired by all those who regard him as a force of the first order in the Spanish Communist movement.



Last updated on 15.1.2013