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International Socialism, Winter 1961


Erich Gerlach

The Grand Camouflage


From International Socialism (1st series), No.7, Winter 1961, pp.31-32.
Thanks to Ted Crawford & the late Will Fancy.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for ETOL.


The Communist Conspiracy in the Spanish Civil War
Burnett Bolloton
Hollis and Carter, 30s.

After 20 years research Bolloton has gathered together almost all the documentary evidence necessary for a monumental history of the Spanish Revolution. The existing book which is mainly concerned with the Communists, and finishes with the fall of Caballero, is intended to be only part of a larger work. A 20 page bibliography shows the sources which the author has used.

Communist misrepresentation and general ignorance of what really happened have encouraged the view held by most of the West European labour movement that the Spanish Revolution was little more than a prelude to the Second World War, in which the Communists were left by the Western powers to defend democracy. Bolloton thoroughly shatters this fable. Using extensive sources he shows that in Republican Spain the victory of a social revolution over a military insurrection, “was more profound in some respects than the Bolshevik Revolution”. Revolutionary committees took over political power while the unions took over control of the factories.

Subsequently Bolloton shows why Revolutionary Spain went against the foreign policy plans of the Soviet Union, why therefore the communists tried to hush up the revolution outside Spain, why they tried to reverse it and by what means they fought its power. Supported by those who opposed the revolution such as the middle classes and the wealthy peasants, and aided by their control over the supply of weapons from Russia, the Communists systematically occupied the key positions in all the new civil and military organisations. It took only a few months to accomplish. With the help of the middle-class right wing of the Popular Front, they were able by May 1937 to overthrow the union’s representative, President Caballero, and make their puppet Negrin head of the government. In this way the counter-revolution was consolidated. Bolloton’s book urges one to conclude that co-existence between a socialist revolution and the Soviet Union is to-day perhaps even harder than between Capitalist and Socialist powers. The history of Spain 25 years ago can be repeated in Cuba to-morrow.

Finally a criticism: the author, by overemphasising the actions of the communists, distorts the image of the revolution. Thus the collectivisation appears one-sided as the work of extremists who betrayed the people into the hands of the communists, and not as a constructive achievement of the working class. Likewise he does not make it sufficiently clear that the struggle between the revolutionary workers’ committees and the bureaucratic counter-revolution was simply inevitable in Spain. The interference of the Communists only influenced the form of this struggle. However the appearance of the complete work may answer this objection.

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