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Jack Weber

March of Events

(21 March 1936)

From New Militant, Vol. II No. 11, 21 March 1936, p. 3.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

[Beyond the Electoral Stage]

The defeat of the combined reactionary-monarchical-fascist forces in Spain, even though confined as yet to the parliamentary sphere, has sent a wave of joyous confidence and daring through the hearts of millions of toilers in town and country. The flames of proletarian and peasant revolt, all but extinguished under the onslaught of the bourgeoisie, have burst out anew and even more fiercely. The brutal repressions suffered by the workers after the defeat of the last insurrection have called forth a spontaneous outburst which carries the movement far beyond the electoral stage. For the moment the reactionary forces are being scattered like chaff before the wind. In the agrarian regions – Badajos, Cadiz, Salamanca, Caceras – the starving peasants have begun to seize the land, driving out the big landowners. Under the tremendous pressure developed in the new situation, the government has been forced to legalize this “distribution” of land temporarily, “pending passage of necessary laws by the Cortes.” A revolutionary situation exists. But equally clearly, all the dangers that threatened to engulf the Spanish proletariat previously and give the victory to the counter-revolution, remain.

* * *

The “People’s Front”

The People’s Front by means of which the proletariat was completely subordinated to the “democratic” bourgeoisie, is already breaking up into its irreconcilably antagonistic elements, the moment the workers resort quite spontaneously to independent action in their own interests. The petty bourgeoisie have taken immediate alarm at the uncontrollable power shown by the masses. Azana, republican mainstay of the bourgeoisie, has been extended credit anew among the masses by the betraying People’s Front of Republicans-Socialists-Stalinists, in order to derail the workers’ revolution for the second time. With the reported consent of Caballero, so-called left socialist, Azana has prohibited all demonstrations. The order was applied in particular against Socialist farm laborers who had planned to hold monster demonstrations in Madrid and all provincial capitals in favor of immediate parcelling of grandees’ estates. It remains to be seen whether Azana will succeed in “normalizing” the situation. Meantime, as is always the case with the “liberal” bourgeois elements boosted into power with the aid of the masses, Azana is already making overtures to the reactionaries to whom he feels infinitely closer than to the proletariat. Azana was placed in power to prevent Gil Robles from attaining control. But just as Hindenburg invited Hitler to take over the reins of government, so there are already negotiations between Azana and Gil Robles on the possibility of a parliamentary bloc against the “left”. At the same time Azana kindly “advises” young Primo de Rivera, fascist leader, to leave the country until things blow over. The denouement of the People’s Front threatens to be a very speedy one indeed – at the expense of the workers!

* * *

The working class of Spain is today celebrating a great electoral “victory.” That “victory” leaves the bourgeoisie in power. True, that section of the bourgeoisie in power prefers the republic to the monarchy. But the character of the regime is determined finally by the nature of the class holding power, in this case the propertied class. Once before it was the power of the ballot, to all appearances, that brought about the downfall of the monarchy in favor of the republic. It was the continued faith in that (bourgeois) republic under the self-same Azana, that led to the previous defeat of the proletarian revolution. It was the fact that no revolutionary party existed, basing itself on a Marxist program, capable of planning the revolution carefully, step by step, able to assist the masses in assimilating their experiences, that held back the revolution. Spontaneous action of the masses, without a clear plan and a firm program and without the leadership of a party, can only lead to defeat, however courageous the struggle of the workers.

In every country where the blight of the capitalist crisis has finally resulted in a revolutionary crisis, it has been demonstrated that a vanguard party of the most class conscious and militant workers is a prerequisite for a successful struggle against the capitalists. Will a second demonstration of this Marxist principle be necessary for the Spanish working class? The Stalinists, by their class collaborationist policy of the People’s Front, have again brought the Spanish workers to the brink of defeat. The militant socialist workers have been hampered from reaching firm Marxist ground as the only logical result of their own experiences, by the false and betraying course of Stalinism. Correct leadership can only be built on the clear plans and the firm principles of the New International.

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