Collectives in the Spanish Revolution : Part 6 : Final Reflections
(1895 - 1978) ~ CNT Radical, Anarcho-Syndicalist, and Spanish Civil War Historian : He was a French anarchist during the Spanish Civil War and was the son of a French Communard. Leval, himself was a French anarcho-syndicalist militant and a participant in the foundation congress of the Red International of Labor Unions from June-August 1921. (From : Anarchy Archives.)
• "...the Spanish Libertarian workers co-ordinate and rationalize production in a much more satisfactory way than Capitalism had done. And I lay special stress on the disappearance of small unhealthy and costly workshops and factories, besides the correct use of machinery for the work most suited to it." (From : "Collectives in Spain," by Gaston Leval, 1945.)
• "...the means of production remained unused in the barns of the rich, whilst the poor peasants worked the land with roman plows drawn by worn out donkeys and mules!" (From : "Collectives in Spain," by Gaston Leval, 1945.)
• "The methodical police terror, the [Bolshevik] Party's tightening grip upon the whole of social life, the systematic annihilation of all non-Bolshevik currents, the no less systematic extermination of all revolutionaries who thought along lines different from those of the new masters, and indeed the eradication of every hint of dissent within the Party all proved that we were on the road to a new despotism that was not merely political but also intellectual, mental and moral, reminiscent of the darkest days of the Middle Ages." (From : "Anarchists Behind Bars," by Gaston Leval, Summer,....)
We have so many times said, for it is important to bear this in mind that the Spanish libertarian revolution was set in motion as a consequence of the Francoist attack which made it possible to put into action revolutionary forces which without it were condemned to new and sterile failures. And when we say "sterile failures" we are referring to the attempts made in January 1932, January and December 1933 (revolutionary and insurrectional attempts organized and manned by the C.N.T.-F.A.I.) to which one must add the Asturian miners' insurrection in October 1934 in which socialist, U.G.T. and C.N.T. workers (in spite of the stupid opposition of the national Comité of the C.N.T.) and even Communists took part.  All these attempts were crushed by the more powerful forces of the State, supported by the non-revolutionary political parties which, for all that, were not fascist.
This last point needs elaborating. The tactical concepts of anarchist communism (and before it anarchist collectivism) implied, according to a tradition going back to the First International, the attack by, and the victory of, the people. Therefore the armed struggles which took place under the Second Spanish Republic corresponded to a doctrine of action theoretically established. This doctrine, which coincided with the teachings of Kropotkin and taken up by his disciples including the present writer, considered that local uprisings, the attempts, even sporadic, and so numerous before the French Revolution, constituted a training, a revolutionary exercise in which the people learned to fight, and would end by winning the last hand. A little like Peter the Great's celebrated remark in face of the continued defeats inflicted on him by the Swedes: "By going on fighting they will teach us how to beat them."
Unfortunately there was no proletarian Poltava and what we have just recalled provides an explanation that should be borne in mind. If we return to all the factors that intervened in this chapter of history we are obliged to conclude that the defeat of the Spanish libertarian revolution was inevitable. For every social revolution provokes the cohesion of the threatened forces drawn together for exceptional reasons, and in spite of those which normally divide them. It is the lesson that we learn not only from the final defeat of the Spanish Revolution but of history when studied with a concern for the truth.
Apart from some contemporary exceptions which have anyway led to new forms of oppression,  generally speaking it is the political revolutions that have triumphed, but the same men or the same parties who were fighting among themselves for a change in the power structure became reconciled when they were faced with a popular movement which threatened their positions, or their privileges. Thus in France, the revolution of February 1848 was simple: liberal bourgeois and workers joined forces to overthrow the monarchy of Louis Philippe. But everything was changed four months later when the workers wanted to introduce socialism. Then the liberal bourgeois allied themselves with the monarchists and Cavaignac, the republican general, struggled with all his might against the insurgent workers.
Other social revolutions, or those which had a definite social content, whether it was the Commune of Paris, or the Peasant War in Germany in which Luther was allied to the nobility in provoking them to the wholesale massacre of the serfs in revolt, or again the Hussite movement in Bohemia, and all the peasant risings in the Middle Ages, are all a repetition of the same facts. One must go back to Egypt in 2200-2000 B.C. to find a victorious social revolution. And even then, two centuries later -- probably even before that -- a new dynasty had been enthroned and the castes reestablished.
Bakunin himself wrote eighteen months before his death, thereby confirming what Elis6e Reclus had written to him: "You are right, the day of revolutions is past, we have entered that of evolution." And he explained his opinion by recalling not only the terrible defeats suffered by European revolutionaries in the course of nearly half a century of heroic struggles, but in face of the scientifically organized military power of modern states, and the lack of revolutionary spirit, or desire for emancipation among the masses.
To be sure this latter consideration did not apply to the Spanish people, or at least to that large, dynamic section which made history. But facts oblige us to recognize that the Kropotkinian thesis, to some extent in opposition to the posthumous theses of Bakunin, Elisée Reclus and even of Proudhon,3 has not been borne out by experience. For fascist totalitarianism, which in Italy after World War I was answering back at a long period of disturbances which did not end in revolution, made its historical appearance. And fascism is the "preventive counter-revolution" of those who are threatened by subversion, even when it is incapable of changing the social order. The people themselves end by preferring, the suppression of political and civic liberty to permanent disorder which, let us face it, is also an attack on freedom if only of living a normal life.
There is therefore the danger in pursuing these revolutionary exercises, with an unending series of partial strikes, continuous general strikes and insurrectional attempts, of harming the stability of society.
This is probably what happened in Spain before the unleashing of the fascist attack. Certainly it is not a question of condemning outbursts caused by hunger, impatience, despair, anger a hundred times justified in those who saw their babies dying from lack of treatment, or who had spent most of the year looking in vain for work, and having to send their children barefoot to school when a school was available. But those who set themselves up as leaders of the C.N.T. and the F.A.I. -- the latter organization embodied a revolutionary passion rather than intellectual worth -- needed a strategic vision which they lacked. Here too they were not equal to the situation. The greatness of the libertarian movement was its almost exclusively proletarian character, but it was also its weakness. And this weakness permitted the, demagogues, and we had our share of them, to play a role for which they were not cut out.
But even more responsible were the socialist and republican leaders who had neither the inspired initiative, the intelligence nor the courage to undertake, with the proclamation of the Republic, daring social reforms which might have satisfied the hunger of some and tempered the impatience of others. They have a greater share of the responsibility because they were better educated and had greater means for action. What was the reason for their indifference? Undoubtedly power had made them fainthearted, had dulled their imagination as so often happens to the happy beneficiaries of new political regimes. We are not saying this in a partizan spirit. About 1935 an inquiry had shown that the largest percentage of enchufistas (people who hold more than one official employment) were to be found among the Socialists and the Left Catalanists. Social reforms interested them much less than the enjoyment of newly acquired privileges. In such an ensemble of conditions, the revolutionary fact had to occur.
On the other hand, one of the consequences of the continuous social conflicts was to drive people of the Center parties towards the Right, and to swell the conservative, reactionary, and fascist forces. The figures at the February 1936 elections prove this, and here one can speak of the responsibility of the revolutionaries, But if the socialists and left republicans had given land to the starving peasants  and had undertaken daring social reforms which were clearly exceptional in a situation which was itself exceptional, the tumultuous social struggles would not have been of such a grave nature and perhaps the fascist reaction would not have resulted. But they preferred to limit themselves to copying the constitution of the Weimar Republic.
We have said and repeated that the fascist attack created a favorable situation for the libertarian sector to take over an important part of the general situation and of almost the whole economy. Nevertheless the repercussions were only favorable, for negative and positive consequences were about equally balanced. On the one hand many militants, often the best, were, because of the war, mobilized and many died at the front. It was also the best who were missing from the Syndicates, in the Collectives, in the villages where they exercised a salutary influence. And on the other hand, the number of those who became a part of the government bureaucracy were also numerous enough for their absence to be felt.
One of the dominant characteristics which impresses whoever studies the Spanish Revolution is its many sidedness. This revolution was guided by certain very clear and very definite principles, which involved the general expropriation of the holders of social I wealth, the seizure by the workers of the organizational structures of production and distribution, the direct administration of public services, the establishment of the libertarian communist principle. But the uniformity of these principles did not prevent a diversity in the methods for their application, so much so that one can talk of "diversity within unity" and of a surprisingly diversified federalism.
In a very short time, in the agrarian regions and especially in Aragon, a new organism appeared: the Collective. Nobody had spoken about it before. The three instruments of social reconstruction foreseen among those libertarians who had expressed themselves on a -possible future were firstly the Syndicate, then the Cooperative, which did not win many supporters, and final ' on a rather large scale, the commune, or communal organization. Some foreshadowed-and this writer was among them-that a new and complementary organism could and should appear, especially in the countryside, seeing that the Syndicate had not assumed the importance it had in the towns, and the kind of life, of work and production, did not fit into an organic monolithic structure which was contrary to the multiformity of daily life.
We have seen how that Collective was born with characteristics of its' own. It is not the Syndicate, for it encompasses all those who wish to join it whether they are producers in the classic economic sense or not. Then it brings them together at the complete human individual level and not just at a craft level. Within it, from the first moment, the rights and duties are the same for everybody; there are no longer professional categories in mutual opposition making the producers into privileged consumers compared with those, such as housewives, who are not producers in the classical definition of the word.
Neither is the Collective the municipal Council or what is called the Commune, the municipality. For it parts company with the political party traditions on which the commune is normally based. It encompasses at the same time the Syndicate and municipal functions. It is all-embracing. Each of its activities is organized within its organism, and the whole population takes part in its management, whether it is a question of a policy for agriculture, for the creation of new industries, for social solidarity, medical service or public education. In this general activity the Collective brings each and everybody to an awareness of life in the round, and everyone to the practical necessity of mutual understanding.
Compared with the Collective the Syndicate has simply a secondary or subordinate role. It is striking to observe how in the agricultural districts, it was more often than not spontaneously relegated, almost forgotten, in spite of the efforts that the libertarian syndicalists and the anarcho-syndicalists, had previously made. The Collective replaced them. The word itself was born spontaneously and spread into all the regions of Spain where the agrarian revolution had been brought about. And the word "collectivist" was adopted just as quickly and spread with the same spontaneity.
One could advance the hypothesis that these two words -- collective and collectivism -- better expressed the people's moral, human, fraternal feelings than did the terms Syndicates and syndicalism. A question of euphony perhaps, and of a breadth of views, of humanism: man as something more than the producer. The need for syndicates no longer exists when there are no more employers.
If we pass from Aragon to the Levante we see Collectives emerging there too but not as such a spontaneous, one might almost say instant, creation. It was the agricultural and sometimes the nonagricultural, syndicates which were there at the beginning, not to found other Syndicates, and this is most significant, but to found Collectives. And those who joined these Collectives, Often without belonging to the Syndicates, were also collectivists and acted and behaved as well as anybody else. Let us hasten to add that the groups of 'organizers often consisted of men who had until then been active in the Syndicates or even in libertarian groups.
But there were some cases where the Commune fulfilled the role of the Collective. Among the examples we have given one especially recalls Granollers, Hospitalet, Fraga, Binefar, and many places in Castile. We also find municipalities which had been reconstructed to conform with governmental decisions (January 1937) and had, as a result, played a more or less important, more or less subordinate, role; and in the Levante the Syndicate and the Collective in the end linked their activities. But in that region the role of the Syndicate was often to become more important, both through direct participation and as inspirer and guide, which it was not in Aragon.
Finally we see in Castile, the Collectives being started in large numbers, under 'the impulse of militant workers and even intellectuals who left Madrid and spread out into the countryside.
This plasticity, this variety of ways of acting allowed for the creation of true socialism, in each place according to the situation, circumstances of time and place, and for the resolution of a great number of problems which an authoritarian concept, too rigid, too bureaucratic would have only made more complicated with, in the end, a dictatorship reducing everything to a uniform pattern. The variety of methods used reflected the variety of the facets of life. Often in the same region, villages with similar forms of production, with a somewhat similar social history, would start by socializing the local industries and end with agriculture, while others would start with the socialization of agriculture and end with that of local industries. In some cases, in the Levante for instance, we have seen it start with distribution then proceed towards socialization of production, which was the opposite procedure to most other places.
But it is remarkable that this diversity of organizational structures did not prevent membership of the same regional federations nor, through them, national coordination, practical solidarity, whether it concerned our Collectives, mixed Syndical Collectives or communities at different stages of municipalization.
The general law was universal solidarity. We have underlined, in passing, that the Charters or Statutes in which the principles were defined and from which stemmed the practical attitude of each and all, made no mention of the rights and liberty of the individual. Not that the Collectives had ignored these rights, but simply because the respect of these rights went without saying, and that they were already recognized by the standard of life guaranteed to everybody, in their access to consumer goods, to wellbeing and culture, to the attention, consideration and human responsibilities of which each one, as a member of the Collective, was assured. It was known, so why mention it? In return, for this to be possible, everyone had to carry out his duty, do his work like the other comrades, show solidarity according to the ethic of a universal mutual aid.
One was the guarantee of the other. It is for this reason we so often read that same sentence in the Charters though there had been no previous discussion between Collectives hundreds of kilometers apart: "Anyone not having any work in his trade will help comrades in other activities who might need his help." This was supra-professional solidarity in practice.
Going deeply into these matters it could perhaps be said that they were developing a new concept of liberty. In the village Collectives in their natural state, and in the small towns where everybody knew one another and were interdependent, liberty did not consist in being a parasite, and not interesting oneself in anything. Liberty only existed as a function of practical activity. To he is to do, Bakunin wrote. To be is to realize, voluntarily, Liberty is secured not only when one demands the rights of the "self" against others, but when it is a natural consequence of solidarity. Men who are interdependent feel free among themselves and naturally respect each other's liberty. Furthermore so far as collective life is concerned, the freedom of each is the, right to participate spontaneously with one's thought, one's heart, one's will, one's initiative to the full extent of one's capacities. A negative liberty is not liberty: it is nothingness.
This! concept of liberty gave rise to a new morality-unless it was this new ethic that gave rise to another concept of liberty. It explains why when the author sought information about changes, and improvements introduced in the lives of everyone, they did not speak of "liberty" though they were libertarians, but, and they did so with deep joy, of the results of their work, experiments, and research on which they were engaged; on the increase in production. No, they were no longer thinking of liberty in the way workers in capitalist factories or day workers on the land of the owner-employer think.
On this subject we would like to make an observation to which we attach great philosophical and practical importance. The theoreticians and partizans of the liberal economy affirm that competition stimulates initiative and, consequently, the creative spirit and invention without which it remains dormant. Numerous observations made by the writer in the Collectives, factories and socialized workshops permit him to take quite the opposite view. For in a Collective, in a grouping where each individual is stimulated by the wish to be of service to his fellow beings, research, the desire for technical perfection and so on are also stimulated.  But they also have as a consequence that other individuals join those who were the first to get together. Furthermore when, in present society, an individualist inventor discovers something, it is used only by the capitalist or the individual employing him, whereas in the case of an inventor living in a community not only is his discovery taken up and developed by others, but is immediately applied for the common good. I am convinced that this superiority would very soon manifest itself in a socialized society.
Lenin, in his report on the Russian situation to the 11th Congress of the Communist Party held in March 1922, declared: "The idea of constructing a communist society with only the help of the communists, is nonsense, pure nonsense. Building the economy must be left to others, to the bourgeoisie which is, much more educated, or to intellectuals in the bourgeois camp. We ourselves are not yet sufficiently educated for that."
It is true that Lenin spoke in this way then6 to justify the N.E.P. (New Economic Policy) which consisted in allowing free enterprise to the bourgeois and technicians of the bourgeoisie still remaining in Russia, in order to get production, which had virtually come to a standstill as a result of the destructive and paralyzing action of the State, back on its feet. From 1920, rather than allow the workers and their organizations (the development of which would become an embarrassment to the communist governments) to participate actively in a renewal of the economy, Lenin preferred to make use of his class enemies. But such was the situation that at the end of four and a half years, he was obliged to have recourse to this . . . heroic remedy!
Furthermore if we analyze certain aspects of the present Russian economy, at least at what is more or less verifiable, we note for example, an extraordinary backwardness in agriculture. More than 25 years ago, Stalin was promising, and his successors continue to promise the people "free bread" a slogan with which the French, Italian and Spanish communists hoax their supporters. But free bread (the consumption of which, in the capitalist countries is decreasing anyway and would not represent such an extraordinary conquest) is still only the bait which hides the hook.
Another more convincing and important fact is that 45% of the population is actively engaged in the countryside in Russia. In the United States it is 6% and in France 20%. This demonstrates the technical deficiencies of the Russian Communist agrarian organization, a deficiency which has to be made up by human labor, in spite of the technical progress that has been proclaimed urbi et orbi for the past 40 years.
And this is not the most important fact. We are now further from communism than we were in 1917. For communism implies economic equality. But whereas we have seen this equality being established from the beginning of the constitution of the Spanish Libertarian Collectives, it is not even any longer a hopeful promise for the men and women land workers grouped in the Kolkhozes and Sovkhozes, the collective organizations born of the regime referred to-derisively-as communist.
For there are fundamental differences between these organizations and the agrarian collectives in Spain. The Kolkhozes and Sovkhozes were created by the State, by State bureaucracy. Producers and ordinary inhabitants live there under the orders of a class of functionaries and technicians who plan, decide, dictate orders as to what must be done or not done according to instructions received from the various ministries. This class, in turn, is controlled by the Communist cell, which at the same time controls all the members of the community including the tractor drivers, the employes of the machine depots, nurses and teachers. Most women have to do the heaviest work (driving tractors and machinery, road maintenance work, etc.). So much so that the women in the Kolkhoz, deformed in the course of a life of hard labor, give the visitor the impression of a rough, coarse creature who has lost all traces of feminity.
Piecework was widespread in the Kolkhozes and Sovkhozes (we do not believe it has been abolished in the recent past) and the wage categories, as well as the "norms" to achieve, were arbitrarily fixed by the leaders of each production cell. And let us not forget that all this exists after 50 years of a regime said to be communist.
Now, nothing similar occurred in the Spanish Collectives where everybody took part in the assemblies, could say what they liked to anyone without fear of reprisals.
In Russia the privileged classes seem to be irremediably established, for they are encrusted in the State, they are the, State, and castes of the State created by the State. Proofs abound.
Thus the Moscow review Partiinaia Jizn (The Life of the Party) gave the following figures for 1964: 37.3% of the Russian Communist Party's members were workers; 16.5% were peasants (bear in mind that the latter represent 45% of the population). Out of 11,758,169 members, 5,408,000 were technocrats, bureaucrats, and other members of the "intelligentsia", the latter category constituting, thanks to its superior education, the "new privileged class" with their cars, their "dachas" (country houses), their domestics, their military orderlies, their fine apartments and pleasant holidays on the shores of the Black Sea.
The contrast between the regime founded by so-called State Communism, which was no other than State capitalism, and that founded by the Spanish Revolution was absolute, and it was one of the reasons why the Spanish Communists and their masters combated -- and both continue to do so implacably -- our constructive achievement.
Furthermore in Spain industrial production was maintained at a high degree of productivity so long as there was no shortage of raw materials and power. Whereas in the U.S.S.R. where these (iron, coal, oil, cotton, wool) could be produced in the country itself, especially in the south, they were in short supply even in the areas where they were produced, due to disorganization caused by the regime itself, and this continued even when the Civil War ended in 1921.
Kruschev's skillful propaganda put the blame for the non-development of Russian industry onto the Czarist regime, and for their setbacks on the consequences of the international and civil war. Well, that was not the reason! Even if one takes account of the ravages of war in all its manifestations, in the last analysis, it was the regime that sprang from the Bolshevik Revolution that itself undertook to transform the partial paralyzes into a general paralyzes. "At the time of the census of 28 August, 1920, there were 37,226 industrial enterprises belonging to the State and employing almost two million workers," wrote the economist Serge Procopovicz in his monumental Economic History of the U.S.S.R. He continued by pointing out that "on the 1st September of the same year, that is two months after the census was taken, only 6,508 undertakings employing 1,300,000 workers, were shown in the records of the Superior Council of the National Economy."
What do these figures mean? That actuated by its domineering will, the State was causing the disappearance of a great number of undertakings at a giddy rate, by a systematic centralization, or by the cutting off, of supplies of raw materials or power. It was not the only reason, The seizure of the management of work by the functionaries spread like a cancer, or a swelling of cancers.  On the eve of the Revolution there were in Russia 65 blast-furnaces which produced in 1912 5,200,000 tons of steel (France produced in the same year 4,207,000). At the time of the Revolution half the blast-furnaces were still operating. But in 1922, the year when Lenin uttered the words we have quoted, steel production had dropped to 255,000 tons.
Once again the explanation for this vertical drop is in the first place due to statism pushed to its limits; by the Bolshevik government, which eliminated the able employers (there were some, there are some everywhere) and the technicians who had to be replaced by bringing in others from Germany and the United States at the time of the world economic crisis.
Another cause of this extraordinary setback was the resistance shown by the personnel in the factories who, from 1918, that is nine months after the Bolsheviks had seized power, began to protest against the introduction of police methods by the party in power, which most of the workers opposed,  and against the stifling of workers' freedom in the factories. The apologists would say that these workers were worked on by the Mensheviks and counter-revolutionaries. Well, read what Kirov, one of the outstanding members of the Communist Party, wrote at the beginning of 1919:
"All the work of organizing the economic life of the country has been done, so far, with the direct participation of the Unions and the representatives of the working masses. The Unions and factory workers delegate conferences in certain industrial branches have been the principal and only laboratories in which the economic organizational services of Russia were formed, and are still formed."
A situation comparable to that in Spain. But whereas in Spain the prime-movers of the Revolution enlarged and perfected this workers' management which gave the kind of results we have seen (bearing in mind the difficulties due to a growing shortage of raw materials and power, opposition by the political parties, food shortages at a certain stage due to the occupation of food growing areas by Franco's armies), in Russia Lenin, who rectified and changed his opinions at each congress, decided that the management of production had to be taken over by the bourgeoisie in order to remedy the paralyzes he criticized yet which he continually strengthened. Stalin's monstrous dictatorship, which was the blossoming of that set up by Lenin, was needed to incorporate into this system, at the price of millions of lives, an economy which would have built itself without dictatorship if state worship had not annihilated everything.
If we seek to establish the difference between the Russo-Bolshevik revolution and the Spanish Revolution, we can summarize it, so far as production and economic life as a whole are concerned, as follows:
In Russia after the seizure of power by the Bolsheviks who imposed their dictatorship and set about governing through the State, everything continued to crumble for years both in agriculture and industry as well as in the public services, to the point of dragging from Lenin's lips the admission we have quoted and obliging him to drop socialism completely and have recourse to the N.E.P. as a result of which the economy was on the road to recovery until the years 1926-27. Stalin continued along those lines after eliminating those to whom Lenin had had recourse.
In Spain except in those cases where raw materials were soon in short supply, agrarian and industrial production did not suffer interruptions, apart from the few days following the euphoria of the successes of July 19, but even that was not general Factories, workshops, transport, public services were rapidly set in motion, except for the building industry in Barcelona, the financial mechanism of which is always unusual. 
There is no doubt that had Franco been defeated the economy would have passed more or less entirely into the hands of the workers, and that our Syndicates would have developed it rapidly with technicians of all kinds, engineers and architects already in their organization or who had recently joined in sufficiently large numbers. Thanks also to the organizing contribution of tens of thousands of libertarian militants,  who not only had a working knowledge of the problems of labor, production, the various operations of the different trades in a workshop, factory, railway network, but also how the different wheels of the economy in general were geared up and operated.
On the other hand this preparation was completely lacking so far as the majority of the 240,000 members of the Bolshevik Party  were concerned and with whom Lenin thought (in September 1917, in a pamphlet reserved for his intimates) he could seize power and maintain it. In general, his professional revolutionaries were not labor professionals. This equally applied to the overwhelming majority of bureaucrats who belonged to the left wing social democrats, who had become communists, and who were completely ignorant of the workings of a factory or of a workshop, of production and its multidirectional relations, coordination between industrial sectors, geographically scattered or concentrated.
Lenin wanted top men who would manage production under instruction from the Party and the resolutions of the Party congresses. Politics first, even in the name of the materialist or economic interpretation of history. In that policy were included instructions for the conduct of work and of the workers. Socialism was above all a question of authority. And it remained so. For us it was a question of the organization of work by the workers, manual and intellectual, and it remained so.
While praising and proclaiming the constructive achievements of the Spanish libertarian revolution, this writer recognizes that it was not without its failures nor was it perfect. We have stated the objective reasons: the war which largely dominated events as a whole; the inevitable survival of the political parties and social classes attached to a society with traditional classes, and the many-sided hostility of Spanish and international Stalinism directed by Moscow.
But there were also subjective reasons. In the first place if the constructive apparatus was, so far as its technical preparation was concerned, superior by far to what it had been in all previous revolutions, it was also, in our view, insufficiently developed. The reason, and still from a subjective point of view, was twofold: on the one hand the struggles waged for sixty-six years (which we have sketched in the chapter "The Men and the Struggles") because they were so time consuming absorbing forces and energies, prevented the organization from moving further forward. For this would have required much more thought, which our rank and file militants, who were also struggling against poverty and hunger, and often lacked a sufficient intellectual preparation, could not undertake. On the other hand, demagogic elements in our movement who exercised a negative, anti-syndicalist and anti-organizational influence which had to be combated, contributed, as we have already pointed out to slowing down the constitution of the federations of industry, the existence of which would have made it possible to, syndicalize production more quickly and more completely, and above all, the organization of distribution.
It is true that no social -- nor even political -- revolution has ever been prepared beforehand in every detail so far as the positive achievements are concerned and we can in the circumstances feel proud of the bases that were established before 1936. Nevertheless we have the right and even the duty to judge ourselves with severity, and to recognize our weaknesses, our errors or failings. We would have been more successful if our movement had done more towards that economic and technical preparation., That the others did much less or nothing at all and still do not in this age when so many intellectuals, lacking intelligence and with utter irresponsibility, publicly lay claim to a revolution about which they haven't the slightest constructive thought, does nothing to help. Proudhon, Bakunin and Kropotkin, the greatest theoreticians of libertarian socialism, always recommended, especially Proudhon and Bakunin, that this preparation of revolutionary construction should be as advanced as possible. This was in violent contrast to the inexplicable Marxist incomprehension, as evidenced not only in the writings of Marx , but also of Kautsky and even Rosa Luxemburg, which always, in the name of so-called "scientific" socialism, combated all anticipation concerning the post-revolutionary society. One can now see where it has led those countries euphemistically called "popular democracies".
Without organic preparation no social and truly socialist revolution is possible. The chances of success depend on the extent of the preexisting constructive capacity. But this does not mean that the preparation should be only intellectual and technical. It must be, above all, moral, for the degree of specialized intellectuality and technicality achieved depends on the degree of consciousness which creates the sense of duty, imposing the acquisition of the required disciplines. It is above all this awareness of their responsibilities that predominated among the Spanish anarchists, influenced their struggles, their individual behavior, their propaganda among, and- organization of, the workers in the countryside and in the towns, and their invincible persistence in the struggle waged for a better world and a happier mankind. Without these qualities all the intelligence and techniques in the world would not have been of much use.
Our constructive revolutionary achievement was destroyed by the Francoist victory and by the sabotage and betrayal of Stalin and his agents. But it remains in history as an example and a proof that it is possible to avoid the dictatorial stages when the capacity to organize the new society quickly is present; and dispense with the so-called dictatorship of the proletariat or more exactly the revolutionary party usurping the representation or delegation of the proletariat which those drunk with power -- their power to which the people must bow -- persist in wanting to impose on us under pain of massacring us as counter-revolutionaries. Just as in their time Marx and Blanqui, and more recently Lenin and his henchmen and all dictatorial maniacs, they have riot the faintest idea of how to reorganize social life after capitalism. But just as Lenin did, they would very quickly organize a police force, a censorship, and in due course concentration camps.
A new way has been indicated, an achievement which emerges as a beacon light of which all revolutionaries who seek mankind's emancipation and not its subjection to a new slavery will have to follow. If they do, yesterday's defeat will be largely compensated for by tomorrow's victories.
1. It was on this occasion that the U.H.P. Union Hermanos Proletarios (Union of Proletarian Brothers) was constituted.
2. Such is the case of the Russian Revolution which might not have been crushed in view of the immensity of the country, itself the cause of Napoleon's defeat. As to the Cuban revolution, if its sycophants observed things more closely instead of being tricked by the magic of words, they would see that it has implanted a new form of totalitarianism by setting up a regime which is only socialist in name and which deflected it from the promising road -- we are not saying of integral socialism -- that it had taken on the morrow of Battista's overthrow.
3. Proudhon also rejected the armed revolution and wrote to Marx, "Our proletarians are so thirsting for science that we would be badly received by them if all we could offer them to drink was blood."
4. Their agrarian reform was like giving a few grains of millet to a starving eagle.
5. We would remind the reader of the 900 new models of shoes in Elda, the new funicular design in Barcelona, the new transport lines, etc....
6. He had expressed similar views in 1920.
7. The party faction called "Workers' Opposition" of which Alexandra Kollontai and Chlapnikof were the leaders demanded in vain the participation of workers' syndicates in the building of the economy. She was persecuted.
8. At the time of our stay in Moscow in 1921 Kamanev declared at a meeting of the Pan-Russian Railway Committee: "There were 250,000 state employers under Czarism for the whole of Russia. Today there are 240,000 in Moscow alone."
9. This discontent came from the fact that at the time of the elections for the Constituent Assembly (in January 1918) the Communist Party had only obtained 25% of the votes, that is 10 million. and the revolutionary socialists 5001, or 20 million; seeing which the Bolsheviks closed down the Assembly and started to persecute all those who did not accept their dictatorship.
10. The Catalan government paid the wages as the Syndicate had no money. It resulted in stagnation in the building industry.
11. We should recall that at the beginning of 1936 we had 30,006 comrades in prison.
12. Figures given by Lenin, which cannot be checked.
13. Marx wittily poked fun at "the recipes for the casseroles of the future society" and his international disciples naturally fell into step.
From : LibCom.org
No comments so far. You can be the first!
<< Last Work in Collectives in the Spanish Revolution
Current Work in Collectives in the Spanish Revolution
Next Work in Collectives in the Spanish Revolution >>
This is the last lesson.
All Nearby Works in Collectives in the Spanish Revolution