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Felix Morrow Writes a Marxist
Study of the Events in Spain

(May 1938)

From Socialist Appeal, Vol. II No. 22, 28 May 1938, p. 4.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

Revolution and Counter-Revolution in Spain
by Felix Morrow
Published by Pioneer Publishers, New York (203 pp., 50 cents)

The need for a Marxist analysis and interpretation of the world-shaking events in Spain has long been keenly felt by those fighting for the ideas of Bolshevism. This indispensable and long-awaited work has made its appearance with the publication of the above volume.

The revolutionary movement of the English-speaking world will find in this book an invaluable weapon in the fight for the program of the Fourth International. Utilizing the concrete experience of Spain it drives home the lessons of the difference between class collaboration and class struggle as no abstract thesis could succeed in doing.

The present work begins, with only a slight overlapping, where the author left off in his previous work, The Civil War in Spain. The latter, now unfortunately out of print, serves as a valuable introduction to the present volume, since it gives a wealth of background material on Spanish political developments since 1931, unavailable elsewhere in such comprehensive form. It is not, however, necessary to an understanding of the events dealt with in the present volume.

In his effort to achieve conciseness, the author has not fallen into the error of making unsubstantiated assertions. The book abounds with quotations from a variety of sources which bolster the argumentation. In fact, the wealth of the material presented should make the work a valuable source book on the important governmental decrees and the political declarations of the various parties.

Approaching the question as a Marxist historian, Comrade Morrow makes no pretense at being “objective” in the sense of the bourgeois historian’s objectivity. Historical phenomena are treated from the standpoint of the class struggle and the roles of the participants judged by the criterion of the struggle for working class power.

This approach reveals the leaders of the Spanish working class in a sordid light. One is at a loss to find an analogy in history for such a concentration of treachery, betrayal, and blundering stupidity in one epoch. The roles of the cynical mercenaries of the Stalinist movement, the bewildered opportunists of the anarchist bureaucracy, the “practical” politicians of the Prieto school, the naiveté and political dishonesty of the Caballero wing of social democracy, and the whining centrists of the vacillating P.O.U.M. are analysed at every decisive stage of the struggle.

The author does not, however, limit himself to criticism. The policy of the opportunists is constantly contrasted to the revolutionary strategy advocated by the Fourth Internationalists. Their strategy on the struggle for power, the economy, the national and colonial question, the international situation, and the military struggle composes a program for the Spanish revolution.

New Facts Presented

Comrade Morrow presents many facts which are new even to those of us who made a special point of keeping informed on the Spanish events. These facts, dug out of little-known provincial papers, government documents, or the abundance of eye-witness accounts, attest to the wide research conducted by the author. In writing an analytical history, one is inevitably confronted with the shortcomings of a chronological treatment of the events, since it does not permit exhaustive treatment of the special problems that come to the fore. Comrade Morrow solves the problem very ably by combining a chronological treatment of the events with special chapters devoted to specific questions. The chapters devoted to the military questions raised by the war give a new insight into the fundamental link between the politics and the military policy of the Loyalist government.

The Summary

The author sums up the last six months of the struggle with the following terse sentence:

“The jailing of workers and peasants and the opening of the front lines by ‘republican’ officers to the fascists: that is the story of Loyalist Spain from November 1937 to May 1938.”

The reader, under the immediate impressions of the ugly accumulation of betrayals and treacheries, cannot but feel that this sentence could sum up the whole experience of the Spanish masses under the banner of the People’s Front. But the reader is not left with a feeling of despair, despite the sordidness of the story, for transcending all else is the unforgettable heroism of the workers and peasants of Spain, deceived again and again since they took to the road of revolution in 1931, but grimly determined to conquer or perish in the attempt. For as Comrade Morrow points out: “Pessimism and skepticism are luxuries for the few. The masses have no other choice except to fight for their lives and the future of their children.”

But this fight will only be successful when the workers of Spain and the world will have learned the lessons of Spain so graphically portrayed in this book.

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