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Andy Durgan

The Spanish Trotskyists and the Foundation of the POUM

This account of the history of non-Stalinist Marxism up to the foundation of the POUM was written for us by Andy Durgan. It supplements the full length history of the POUM by Victor Alba and Stephen Schwartz (Spanish Marxism Versus Soviet Communism, New Brunswick 1988) which is more interested in the POUM’s Maurínist (Bloque) antecedents than in its Trotskyist component led by Nin and Andrade (Cf. the criticism by Al Richardson in Revolutionary History, Volume 3 no.3, Spring 1991, p.46).

Andy Durgan, who now lectures in modern history in Spain, was a member of the Socialist Workers Party when he lived in Britain. He gained his Ph.D. in a study on the origins of the POUM, and so is well placed to supply us with the information here, without which the rest of our compilation would be far more confusing than it is. The extent of our gratitude to him will be immediately recognised by our readers.

The most complete and thoroughly researched history of the POUM published to date is Reiner Tosstorff’s Die POUM im Spanischen Bürgerkrieg 1936-39 (Frankfurt 1987). Victor Alba’s El marxismo en España (two volumes, Mexico 1973) is a general history of the BOC and POUM, and forms the basis of the above book with Stephen Schwartz. Alba’s La revolución española en la práctica documentos del POUM (Madrid 1977) is a useful collection of POUM documents. Articles from the theoretical journals of the BOC and POUM can be found in V. Alba (ed.), La nueva era (Madrid 1977).

Pelai Pagès’ El movimiento trotskista en España (Barcelona 1977) covers the ICE, and an interesting anthology of articles from its theoretical journal is in Revista ‘Comunista’ (Barcelona 1978).

There are two biographies of Nin, Francesc Bonamusa’s Andreu Nin y el movimiento comunista en España (Barcelona 1977), which suffers from a positivist approach and a lack of sympathy for its subject; and P. Pagès’ Andreu Nin: su evolución política (Bilbao 1975), which is more useful and sympathetic. Nin’s principal writings can be found in A. Nin, Por la unificación marxista (Madrid 1978); La revolución rusa (Barcelona 1979); and Socialisme i Nacionalisme (Barcelona 1985). His books Las dictaduras de nuestro tiempo, Los movimientos de emancipación nacional, and Las organizaciones obreras internacionales have been republished (Barcelona 1977 and 1978).

Maurín’s books Los hombres de la dictadura and La revolución española have been republished (Barcelona 1977), as has his important Revolución y contrarrevolución en España (Paris 1966). Andrade’s daily columns in La Batalla have been reproduced in La revolución española dia a dia (Barcelona 1979), and other writings of his on the Civil War are in Notas sobre la guerra civil (Madrid 1986).

The Fundación Andreu Nin has issued various useful pamphlets, including Los sucesos de mayo 1937: una revolución en la republica (Barcelona 1988), on the POUM’s activities during the May Days; El asasinato de Andreu Nin (Madrid 1988), on his assassination; El proceso de 1938 contra el POUM: Barcelona no fue Moscou (Madrid 1989); and El proceso del  POUM: Documentos Judiciales y Policiales (Barcelona 1989), which contains the full transcripts and official documents relating to the POUM show trial of 1938. Also on this subject are Andrés Suarez (Ignacio Iglesias), El proceso contra el POUM (Paris 1974), which is the best overall account; and the imaginative account by the former POUM leader Julián Gorkin, El proceso de Moscou en Barcelona (Barcelona 1974).

The most complete collection of Trotsky’s writings on Spain is in L.D. Trotsky, La revolución española (two volumes Barcelona, 1977), which also contains excellent notes by Pierre Broué and very useful appendices containing Trotskyist, POUM and POUM opposition documents.

As yet unpublished, the most complete account of the BOC is Andy Durgan’s Dissident Communism in Catalonia 1930-36 (Ph.D. thesis, London University, 1989).


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Last updated on 28.7.2003