MIA: History: ETOL: Documents: FI: 1938-1949: World War II: Emergency Conference: 1940

Emergency Conference Of The Fourth International

On The Situation In Spain And The Tasks Of The Bolshevik-Leninists [Spain]

Adopted by the Emergency Conference of the Fourth International
May 19-26, 1940

Since the declaration of the war, the political work of the Spanish Bolsheviks has been almost completely suspended. All our comrades are scattered in the concentration camps, and work brigades, with few working in freedom. The possibilities of political contact among them are very rare. Each group must carry on independent work and discuss by itself those problems which arise. According to recent reports our comrades in different camps have been putting out bulletins written by hand containing discussion material on the war and on the POUM. The problem of the nature of the Soviet state and of the defense of the USSR has also been discussed wherever conditions have permitted. The reports indicate resolutions favoring the point of view of the Fourth International.

Despite this forced condition of political dispersal our comrades maintain continual personal contact among themselves, and wherever a few Bolshevik-Leninists manage to reunite, their immediate constitution into a political group gives them a superiority over whatever other political formations still exist (POUM, anarchists, socialists). This has enabled us to win over at least some militants from the POUM. Contact between the Spanish and the French comrades is assured by one of our militants who acts as a directing and coordinating center.

This is certainly not an important balance, but it demonstrates at least the political homogeneity and the militant spirit of our comrades. The POUM with economic means and a much greater number of militants than we, has not been able to do anything better. Their militants have been completely abandoned and some scarcely maintain amicable relations. In regard to this same party, shortly after war was declared, it affiliated with the JARE, Indaleclo Prieto’s organization, under pretext of helping the refugees, which of course is a cover.185 They are giving effective support to AngloFrench imperialism. No official declaration of the POUM concerning the war is known. All information from our comrades is in agreement concerning a tendency among the party heads to consider the reestablishment of the monarchy in Spain as a favorable fact Such a tendency leans, as in the socialists and Republicans, toward support of the Allied imperialisms, which could gain by restoration. Thus, through its silence if not through declarations, the POUM is very far from having adopted an internationalist position. The presence of Gorkin at the Congress of the American Socialist Party accentuates still more the tendency towards democratic imperialism.

In reality, all the political tendencies are nonexistent among the refugees living in France. For the right of asylum, the socialist and anarchist leaders pay France with their support, the consideration of which makes them ever the object of the French government In regard to the rank and file, the best militant fighters, who are still found in France in the majority, have been completely abandoned and this induces them to loan their services to the “democracies” in the brigades of forced labor. A part of the anarchist leaders, among them the former military heals, Garcia Oliver and Santillan, are frying to form a political party with all the characteristics of the old reformist parties. The opposition encountered among their own rank and file has held back this effort But Spanish anarchism is unmistakably headed toward an important split in which I consider it possible to win over to our tendency excellent revolutionary militants. On one side there will be the worker and revolutionist base of the CNT. The apolitical prejudices encountered in this section are mixed with a deep revolutionary spirit and the balance which they instinctively drew of the Spanish events is not as a whole favorable for the anarchist principles. In Mexico, Santo Domingo, and France we have anarchist worker contacts who view our activities with the greatest sympathy, taking an interest in discussions with us and beginning to draw revolutionary political conclusions from their reflections on the Spanish experience. I consider it important to cite my personal experience in Mexico with a leader of the Anarchist Youth with whom I had discussed many times in Barcelona since the May days. His first words upon recognizing me in one of the Spanish refugee locals in Mexico was to recall our discussion in Spain: “I have thought many times about what you said then and I consider that you were completely correct,” were his words. The anarchist principles have lost their hold on these comrades. His entering the Bolshevik camp is solely a question of time and of good work on our part I consider that there is a serious perspective of gaining a considerable number of anarchist workers in the emigration.

Within Spain itself they have begun to reestablish contacts. Already we have connections in Madrid and Barcelona, for example, with comrades who have been imprisoned or detained in the Franco concentration camps. In Madrid all the comrades who have not been detained have begun their activity again. They have contacts with the anarchists and are discussing with them, but their personal situation is very precarious. Being known in the majority, they are compelled to live under assumed names and it is impossible for them to find work. In Barcelona, a young comrade is in danger of being condemned to death. He is of peasant origin and with excellent political qualifications. According to information from Comrade Carlini, who lived in Barcelona under the Franco regime for eight months, the demoralization of the proletariat is great and is accentuated still more by the miserable conditions, which are worse than during the war. But the spirit is evidently of passive hostility to the regime and in some regions such as Asturias and Andalusia, active hostility. This passive hostility extends even among certain elements of the rural and urban petty bourgeoisie. Proof of this is furnished by the fact that Comrade Carlini was able to make the trip from Barcelona to the French frontier on foot without money, asking hospitality from the peasants and directions in order to avoid the vigilance of the Civil Guard.

In the mountains of the provinces of Andalusia and Asturias numerous groups of armed men still exist who are hostile to the Civil Guard and who conduct audacious acts against detached fascist elements. I myself have seen a proclamation of the Franco authorities directed “To the fugitives in the mountains,” inviting them to surrender and trust in the “clemency of the chief.” It seems to be absolutely evident that in some small villages all the ablebodied men are in the mountains and the authorities are powerless to break up the solidarity of the towns.

Although the regime of Franco encounters other difficulties in addition, which it is not necessary to enumerate here, this does not mean to say that its near downfall should be expected. It is possible that the evolution of the European war will bring about the reestablishment of the monarchy, but as for this eventuality, as in that of the consolidation of the system of the Spanish Falange, everything permits us to hope that the Spanish proletariat will be capable of maintaining a strong illegal movement against fascism. And for our part we must direct all our forces to help in the creation of active illegal nuclei of the Fourth International.

We have the essential bask factors necessary to accomplish this. Some capable militants have remained in Spain: excellent comrades are among the emigres. In addition, the Anarchist, Socialist and even Stalinist sectors are sufficiently accessible for critical constructive work. The first stage, which consists in the reuniting of the principal comrades in Mexico, is on the road to being realized. Upon ourselves, and the solidarity of the international organization, depends the successful realization of the following stages. It is necessary to create a strong Bolshevik-Leninist movement among the emigres and to work out the ways of penetrating Spain. We need, as an immediate minimum, material aid which will permit us to sustain our regular weekly organ. We take upon ourselves the rest including our own economic maintenance.

It would be an error to underestimate the Spanish work because the Spanish revolution has been liquidated. The revolutionary spirit of the proletariat is living and Spain will be the country in which the illegal revolutionary struggle will acquire major intensity. On the other hand, an organization is not constituted hastily on the eve of the revolution, but only after a long period of successful struggles and experiences. We wish to and we shall reestablish in Spain the tradition of the illegal revolutionary struggle of Bolshevism. The Spanish proletariat will seize the first opportunity which presents itself in order to break the yoke of Franco. It is necessary that we hold ourselves in readiness and for that we need the initial aid of the International organization.

G. Muniz, Representative, Spanish section of the FT

New York, April 27, 1940

Last updated on 12.9.2005