The Anarchist Collectives : Bibliography

Revolt Library >> Anarchism >> The Anarchist Collectives >> Zeta Material-003



(1902 - 1990) ~ Russian Emigre and American Anarchist Activist : He rode the rails for the Wobblies, sometimes as a gandy dancer (or maintenance man), or else hopping boxcars, and he always looked for the chance to stand in front of a crowd and, in that broken cello of a voice. (From :
• "The increasing complexity of society is making anarchism MORE and NOT LESS relevant to modern life. It is precisely this complexity and diversity, above all their overriding concern for freedom and human values that led the anarchist thinkers to base their ideas on the principles of diffusion of power, self-management and federalism." (From : "The Relevance of Anarchy to Modern Society," by S....)
• "Society without order (as the word 'society' implies) is inconceivable. But the organization of order is not the exclusive monopoly of the State. For, if the State authority is the sole guarantee of order, who will watch the watchmen?" (From : "The Relevance of Anarchy to Modern Society," by S....)
• "The very fact that autonomy, decentralization and federalism are more practical alternatives to centralism and statism already presupposes that these vast organizational networks now performing the functions of society are prepared to replace the old bankrupt hyper-centralized administrations." (From : "The Relevance of Anarchy to Modern Society," by S....)

(1921 - 2006) ~ Father of Social Ecology and Anarcho-Communalism : Growing up in the era of traditional proletarian socialism, with its working-class insurrections and struggles against classical fascism, as an adult he helped start the ecology movement, embraced the feminist movement as antihierarchical, and developed his own democratic, communalist politics. (From : Anarchy Archives.)
• "The historic opposition of anarchists to oppression of all kinds, be it that of serfs, peasants, craftspeople, or workers, inevitably led them to oppose exploitation in the newly emerging factory system as well. Much earlier than we are often led to imagine, syndicalism- - essentially a rather inchoate but radical form of trade unionism- - became a vehicle by which many anarchists reached out to the industrial working class of the 1830s and 1840s." (From : "The Ghost of Anarcho-Syndicalism," by Murray Book....)
• "We are direly in need not only of 're-enchanting the world' and 'nature' but also of re-enchanting humanity -- of giving itself a sense of wonder over its own capacity as natural beings and a caring product of natural evolution" (From : "The Crisis in the Ecology Movement," by Murray Bo....)
• "Or will ecology groups and the Greens turn the entire ecology movement into a starry-eyed religion decorated by gods, goddesses, woodsprites, and organized around sedating rituals that reduce militant activist groups to self-indulgent encounter groups?" (From : "The Crisis in the Ecology Movement," by Murray Bo....)


On : of 0 Words (Requires Chrome)



I. The following is a list of the authors and works from which the selections in this book were drawn. Included is a short biographical sketch of each author.

H.E. Kaminski:

Ceux de Barcelone. (Paris, 1937)

A radical French historian, Kaminski was friendly to libertarian ideas and movements and wrote an excellent biography of Bakunin. He visited Spain during the Civil War, where he traveled and interviewed prominent anarchists.

Gaston Leval:

Ne Franco ne Stalin, (Milan, 1952)

Espagne Libertaire: 1936–1939. (Paris, 1971)

Gaston Leval is a French anarchist whose father fought in The Paris Commune of 1871. He is an outstanding theoretician and militant, and has written a great many works on the economic and sociological problems of anarchism, with special reference to Spain. A conscientious objector in World War I, he took refuge in Spain, where he was active in the revolutionary labor movement and was imprisoned many times. He represented the CNT of Spain at the Congress of the Red International of Trade Unions in Moscow, 1921. He was among the first to expose the true nature of the Bolshevik dictatorship. Under the dictatorship of Primo de Rivera, he took refuge in Argentina. With the outbreak of the Civil War he illegally emigrated to Spain to participate in the revolution. Knowing that the war was lost, he made a first-hand study of the collectives and socialized industries, leaving for posterity the fullest and most reliable reports ever written of the constructive work of the revolution. He now lives in Paris, where he works as a printer and edits the Cahiers de I’Humanisme Libertaire, one of the best anarchist journals.

José Peirats:

La CNT en la Revolución Española. (documentary history in 3 volumes, Toulouse, 1951, 1952, 1953)

Los Anarquistas en la Crisis Politica Española. (Buenos Aires, 1964)

An outstanding militant and historian of the Spanish anarchist movement, he wrote a three-volume documentary history of the CNT in the Spanish Revolution and other works. During the Civil War he edited an anarchist publication opposed to the participation of the CNT-FAI in the government of the Republic.

Diego Abad de Santillán:

Por Que Perdimos La Guerra: Una Contribución de la Tragedia Espanola. (Buenos Aires, 1940)

Born in Spain, Diego Abad de Santillán was raised in Argentina. He has been a prolific writer and historian of the Spanish and Latin-American anarchist and anarcho-syndicalist labor movements. He has translated the works of Bakunin; Kropotkin; the great German writer, militant, and historian, Rudolf Rocker; the works of the historian of anarchism, Max Nettlau; etc. Before the outbreak of the Civil War he edited many anarchist newspapers and magazines (Timon, Tierra y Libertad, etc.). He was one of the founders of the FAI in 1927. After the outbreak of the Civil War he became Minister of the Economy in the Catalonian Government. He is now living in Argentina.

Augustin Souchy:

Nacht über Spanien. (Damstadt, 1957)

Augustin Souchy is a German anarcho-syndicalist. He was also a delegate of the German syndicalist union to the Congress of the Red International of Trade Unions in Moscow, 1921. He was one of the founders and Secretary of the anarcho-syndicalist International Workingmen’s Association organized in Berlin in 1922, to which the CNT was affiliated. From 1912 to the end of the Civil War, Souchy was in constant touch with the Spanish revolutionary movement. During the whole duration of the Civil War he remained in Spain, in charge of international propaganda. He wrote hundreds of articles in the Spanish anarchist press. Souchy observed and lived in many of the collectives and is an outstanding authority on all phases of the Spanish anarchist movement--particularly the collectivizations. He left Spain only a few hours before Barcelona was occupied by the Franco troops. With the coming of World War II, he lived as a refugee in France, and later traveled extensively throughout Latin America, Israel, etc., to study at first hand collectivization and cooperative movements in semi-developed countries. He lives in Munich, Germany.

Isaac Puente:

El Comunismo Anarquico. (Havana, 1934)

Isaac Puente was an anarchist popular theoretician. He wrote many articles and pamphlets on the practical application of anarchist theory. In particular, he was one of a “school” of anarchists who combined anarcho-communism and anarcho-syndicalism. His El Comunismo Anarquico was widely known. The edition we have used was published by Ediciones Federacion de Grupo Anarquistas de Cuba, Habana.

Collectivizations: L ‘Oeuvre Constructive de la Revolution Espagnole (1936–1939) . (second edition, Toulouse, 1965) Augustin Souchy and P. Folgare, editors.

First published in 1937 in Barcelona by the FAI press, Ediciones Tierra y Libertad, this is a collection of documents by those involved in the collectivization movement including decrees, resolutions and reports from both industrial and rural collectives.

II. Works cited in the text.

Bolloten, Burnett, The Grand Camouflage: The Communist Conspiracy in the Spanish Civil War. (London, 1961)

Brenan, Gerald, The Spanish Labyrinth. (London, 1962)

Broué Pierre, and Emile Témime, Revolution and the Civil War in Spain. (London, 1972).

Bulletin of the Institute of Workers’ Control. (Nottingham, Eng.)

Dolgoff, Sam, ed., Bakunin on Anarchy. (New York, 1972)

Guerin, Daniel, Anarchism. (New York, 1970)

Kaminski, H.E., Ceux de Barcelone. (Paris, 1937)

Leval, Gaston, Espagne Libertaire: 1936–1939. (Paris, 1971)

--Né Franco né Stalin (Milan, 1952).

Lorenzo, Cézar, Les Anarchistes Espagnols et le Pouvoir: 1868–1969. (Paris, 1969)

Malefakis, Edward E., Agrarian Reform and Peasant Revolution in Spain. (New Haven, 1970)

Mintz, Frank, La Collectivization en Espagne de 1936 a 1939. (Thesis presented 1965–66, later published in Paris)

Paz, Abel, Durruti: Le Peuple en Armes. (Paris, 1972)

Peirats, José, Los Anarquistas en la Crisis Political Española. (Buenos Aires, 1964)

--La CNT en la Revolucion Española. (Toulouse, 1951–53)

Puente, Isaac, El Comunismo Anarquico. (Havana, 1934)

Richards, Vernon, ed., Malatesta: His Life and Ideas. (London, 1965)

Santillán, Diego Abad de, After the Revolution. (New York, 1937)

--Por Que Perdimos La Guerra: Una Contribución de la Tragedia Española. (Buenos Aires, 1940)

Serge, Victor, Memoirs of a Revolutionary: 1901–1941. (London, 1963)

Souchy, Augustin, De Julio a Julio. (Valencia, 1937)

--Nacht über Spanien. (Damstadt, 1957)

Souchy, Augustin and P. Folgare, eds., Collectivizations: L’Oeuvre Constructive de la Révolution Espagnole (1936–1939) . (Toulouse, 1965)

III. The literature of the Spanish Revolution in English is at best meager. The following annotated list may be helpful to the reader who wants to pursue the subject.
A. Books

Brademas, Steven J., Revolution and Social Revolution: A Contribution to the History of the Anarcho-Syndicalist Movement in Spain, 1930–37. (PhD. thesis, Oxford, 1953) A scholarly approach.

Brenan, Gerald, The Spanish Labyrinth: An Account of the Social and Political Background of the Civil War. (London, 1962) Not much about the revolution itself, but excellent as background.

Bolloten, Burnett, The Grand Camouflage: The Communist Conspiracy in the Spanish Civil War (original subtitle). (London, 1961) A pioneering work.

Borkenau, Franz, The Spanish Cockpit. (London, 1962) Read with care. As a former Marxist he is inclined to be hypercritical of the anarchists. A useful book nonetheless.

Broué, Pierre, and Emile Témime, Revolution and the War in Spain. (London, 1972) Probably the best all-around book in English.

Carr, Raymond, ed., The Republic and the Civil War in Spain. (London, 1971) Interesting but read with caution.

Cattell, David T., Communism and the Spanish Civil War. (Berkeley, 1957)--Soviet Diplomacy and the Spanish Civil War. (Berkeley, 1957) Among the finest on their subject.

Chomsky, Noam, “Objectivity and Liberal Scholarship,” in American Power and the New Mandarins. (New York, 1969) A superb critique of Jackson’s book with good new material of its own.

Jackson, Gabriel, The Spanish Republic and the Civil War in Spain. (Princeton, 1965) Valuable for the Republic of 1931 but not an objective history.

Jellinek, Frank, The Civil War in Spain. (London, 1938) The first part is useful but beware of his pro-communist bias.

Malefakis, Edward E., Agrarian Reform and Peasant Revolution in Spain. (New Haven, 1970) Read for factual background information. Very anti-anarchist.

Orwell, George, Homage to Catalonia. (London, 1938) Tries to deal objectively with the revolution. Gives a vivid portrayal of events.

Santillan, Diego Abad de, After the Revolution. (New York, 1937) A realistic and constructive formulation of what the revolutionary economy could look like.

Thomas, Hugh, The Spanish Civil War. (London, 1961) Readily available, but we don’t recommend this book.

B. Pamphlets

Dashar, M., The Origins of the Revolutionary Movement in Spain. (New York, nd)

Leval, Gaston, Social Reconstruction in Spain. (London, 1938)

Rocker, Rudolf, The Tragedy of Spain. (New York, 1937)

Souchy, Augustin, The Tragic Week in May. (Barcelona, 1937)

C. Periodicals

Spain and the World. (Freedom Press, London, 1936–39)

The Spanish Revolution. (United Libertarian Organizations, New York, 1936–39)

Spanish Labor Bulletin. (Chicago, 1936–39?)

Back cover of The Anarchist Collectives

[1] Both the UGT and the CNT probably numbered over a million members each by the summer of 1936. The officious, highly bureaucratic UGT tended to overstate its membership figures. The more amorphous decentralized CNT--the most persecuted of the two labor federations--often exercised much greater influence on the Spanish working class than its membership statistics would seem to indicate.

[2] Madrid, although with a largely Socialist labor movement, was the home of an intensely active anarchist movement. Not only were the Madrid construction workers strongly anarchosyndicalist, but at the turn of the century, many Madrid intellectuals were committed to anarchism and established a renowned theoretical tradition for the movement that lingered on long after anarchist workers had cut their ties with the Spanish intelligentsia.

[3] I would not want to argue, here, that the Spanish village formed a paradigm for a libertarian society. Village society differed greatly from one region of Spain to another--in some areas retaining undisturbed its local democratic traditions, in others ruled tyrannically by the Church, the nobility, caciques, and custom. Quite often, both tendencies co-existed in a very uneasy equilibrium, the democratic still vital but submerged by the authoritarian.

[4] In the case of the CNT there were exceptions to this rule. The National Secretary was paid an average worker’s salary, as was the clerical staff of the National Committee and the editors and staffs of daily newspapers. But delegates to the national, regional, and local committees of the CNT were not paid and were obliged to work at their own trades except when they lost time during working hours on union business. This is not to say that there were no individuals who devoted most of their time to the dissemination of anarchist ideas. “Traveling about from place to place, on foot or mule or on the hard seats of third-class railway carriages, or even like tramps or ambulant bullfighters under the tarpaulins of goods wagons,” observes Brenan, “whilst they organized new groups or carried on propagandist campaigns, these ‘apostles of the idea,’ as they were called, lived like mendicant friars on the hospitality of the more prosperous workers”--and, I would add, “villagers.” This tradition of organizing, which refers to the 1870’s, did not disappear in later decades; to the contrary, it became more systematic and perhaps more securely financed as the CNT began to compete with the UGT for the allegiance of the Spanish workers and peasants.

[5] Yet here I must add that to abstain from smoking, to live by high moral standards, and to especially abjure the consumption of alcohol was very important at the time. Spain was going through her own belated industrial revolution during the period of anarchist ascendancy with all its demoralizing features. The collapse of morale among the proletariat, with rampant drunkenness, venereal disease, and the collapse of sanitary facilities, was the foremost problem which Spanish revolutionaries had to deal with, just as black radicals today must deal with similar problems in the ghetto. On this score, the Spanish anarchists were eminently successful. Few CNT workers, much less committed anarchists, would have dared to show up drunk at meetings or misbehave overtly among their comrades. If one considers the terrible working and living conditions of the period, alcoholism was not as serious a problem in Spain as it was in England during the industrial revolution.

[6] In “black” (purely anarchistic) Saragossa, where the working class was even more firmly committed to anarchist principles than the Barcelona proletariat, Raymond Carr quite accurately emphasizes that “strikes were characterized by their scorn for economic demands and the toughness of their revolutionary solidarity: strikes for comrades in prison were more popular than strikes for better conditions.”

[7] For Marx and Engels, organizational forms to change the behavioral patterns of the proletariat were not a problem. This could be postponed until “after the revolution.” Indeed, Marx viewed the authoritarian impact of the factory (“the very mechanism of the process of capitalist production itself”) as a positive factor in producing a “disciplined, united” proletariat. Engels, in an atrocious diatribe against the anarchists titled “On Authority,” explicitly used the factory structure--its hierarchical forms and the obedience it demanded--to justify his commitment to authority and centralization in working class organizations. What is of interest, here, is not whether Marx and Engels were “authoritarians” but the way in which they thought out the problem of proletarian organization--the extent to which the matrix for their organizational concepts was the very economy which the social revolution was meant to revolutionize.

[8] The disappearance of Bakunin’s Alliance of Social Democracy in Spain scattered the forces of Spanish anarchism into small local nuclei which related on a regional basis through conferences, periodicals, and correspondence. Several regional federations of these nuclei were formed, mainly in Catalonia and Andalusia, only to disappear as rapidly as they emerged.

[9] See pages 29 and 30 for useful definitions. [In this electronic copy, pages 29 and 30 refer to the articles “On Anarchist Communism” and “On Anarcho-Syndicalism” in Chapter 2’s The Political and Economic Organization of Society by Isaac Puente--theanarchistlibrary contributor]

[10] I employ the word “vanguard” provocatively, despite its unpopularity in many libertarian circles today, because this term was widely used in the traditional anarchist movement. Some anarchist publications even adopted it as a name. There can be no doubt that an anarchist obrera consciente regarded himself or herself as an “advanced person” and part of a small avant-garde in society. In its most innocuous sense, the use of this term meant that such a person merely enjoyed a more advanced social consciousness than the majority of less developed workers and peasants, a distinction that had to be overcome by education. In a less innocuous sense, the word provided a rationale for elitism and manipulation, to which some anarchist leaders were no more immune than their authoritarian Socialist opponents.
The word “leader,” on the other hand, was eschewed for the euphemism “influential militant,” although in fact the more well-known anarchist “influential militants” were certainly leaders. This self-deception was not as trifling as it may seem. It prevented the Spanish anarchists from working out the serious problems that emerged from real differences in consciousness among themselves or between themselves and the great majority of undeveloped ceneteistas.

[11] See page 11 for the distinction between the terms “Russian Revolution” and “Bolshevik Revolution [In this electronic copy, page 11 refers to the article “The Bolshevik Revolution vs The Russian Social Revolution” in this same section--theanarchistlibrary contributor]

[12] With Joaquín Maurín, he founded the Spanish Communist Party, from which they split off to organize the dissident Marxist Party of Workers Unity--the POUM. He was murdered by the Stalinists in 1937.

[13] I was impelled to translate this myself due to the distortion of Trotsky’s remark (p. 170 in the English edition) by using the word “military” in place of the word “fighting”!

[14] Souchy is referring to enterprises that did not employ wage labor.

[15] Economic variety in a free society is not to be equated with the greater or lesser measure of private enterprise which peasants in “communist” countries forced their rulers to grant on threat of starving the cities. Nor for that matter is it to be equated with the “variety” claimed in capitalist countries.

[16] Mutualism is the economic doctrine of Proudhon and his followers.

[17] In this work we have generally chosen to use the term “workers’ self-management” instead of “workers’ control.” Since Geoffrey Ostergaard wrote these words in Anarchy in the early 1960’s, the concept of workers’ control has been co-opted. See page 81 for a short discussion of the current differences between these concepts [In this electronic copy, page 81 refers to the article “Workers’ Control vs Workers’ Self-Management” in Chapter 6’s Workers’ Self-Management in Industry by Augustin Souchy--theanarchistlibrary contributor].

[18] A medical doctor, he was an important anarchist militant. He was imprisoned and murdered by the fascists while fighting on the Saragossa front during the Civil War.

[19] Brenan, however, does not make a very important distinction between Port de la Selva and the libertarian collectives established during the revolution, where the land was not divided but collectively owned.--Ed.

[20] Statistics were derived from Gaston Leval’s Espagne Libertaire.

[21] From El Comunismo Anarquico, by Isaac Puente.

[22] It is no mere coincidence that during the monarchy, under the dictatorship of Prima de Rivera (1923–1929), Caballero had also served as the Minister of State for Labor. The UGT became the unofficial labor front of the government, while the CNT was outlawed.

[23] This phenomenal increase was attained by enrolling hundreds of thousands of anti-revolutionary, bourgeois, non-proletarian elements into the UGT, such as municipal, provincial and national bureaucrats, petty-bourgeois employers, landlords, reactionary Catholic republicans and separatists, frightened liberals, etc. These same elements were later recruited during the Civil War by the Communist Party to crush the CNT-FAI.

[24] For fear of the revolution, it was the set policy of the Generalidad to arm its own forces (police, Civil Guards) and deprive the CNT-FAI of arms. Sufficient arms to put down the fascist uprising were finally obtained only after the CNT-FAI militants captured the San Andres artillery barracks and other depots.

[25] Negrin was a member of Caballero’s cabinet.

[26] The destruction of the agricultural collectives is graphically depicted by Leval (Espagne Libertaire, pp. 367–377). See also Peirats (Los Anarquistas en la Crisis Politica Espanola, Chapters XV and XVI.

[27] From Leval, Né Franco, né Stalin, pp. 76–94.

[28] The great majority of the people living in Republican Spain were above all dominated by the fear of a Franco victory, and they could not understand why the anti-fascist political and social movements and groups should not constitute a united front. The people were not committeed to a set of political-philosophical theories. They demanded that the CNT and the infinitely less powerful FAI enter and collaborate with the government to ensure the unity of action and coordination which they deemed indispensable ... [This paragraph from Leval’s Espagne Libertaire, p. 360, has been added to better clarify this important point.--Ed.]

[29] This propaganda was specifically designed to cater to their counter-revolutionary sentiments.--Ed.

[30] Valencia became the seat of the “Central” or National government when it evacuated the Capital in Madrid .--Ed.

[31] We cite a few examples from Guérin of the economic sabotage of the Central Government to throttle the libertarian revolution:
The Central Government had a stranglehold over the collectives; the nationalization of transport made it possible for it to supply some and cut off all deliveries to others... It imported Republican army uniforms instead of turning to the Catalonian textile collectives... The Republican Central Government refused to grant any credit to Catalonian self-management even when the libertarian Minister of the Catalonian economy, Fabregas, offered the billion pesetas of savings bank deposits as security. In June, 1937, the Stalinist Comorera took over the portfolio of the economy and deprived the self-managed factories of raw materials which he lavished on the private sector ... (pp. 141, 142)--Ed.

[32] Leval’s description of the counter-revolutionary role and betrayals of the Communist Party during the Civil War and their campaign to destroy the collectives (especially in Aragon) and the anarchist movement are well documented in English and need not be repeated here. Leval concludes that the Communists did everything in their power and used the most reprehensible tactics to “provoke the hatred and hostility of the civil and military population against the anarchists and their revolutionary innovations ...”--Ed.

[33] Betraying his anarchist allies who collaborated in his government, the Generalidad of Catalonia, Companys joined the counter-revolutionary alliance. During the tragic May Days of 1937 Companys aided and abetted the assault to dislodge the CNT from its stronghold in Barcelona collaborating with the Communists, the bourgeoisie and the C.P. dominated UGT to destroy the Catalonian collectives.--Ed.

[34] From Augustin Souchy, Nacht über Spanien, pp. 164–167.

[35] It is essentially a system of workers’ control at all levels, each unit exercising autonomy within its own sphere. Santillan’s formulation is more explicit:
The structure of the new economy was simple: Each factory organized a new administration manned by its own technical and administrative workers. Factories in the same industry in each locality organized themselves into the Local Federation of their particular industry. The total of all the Local Federations organized themselves into the Local Economic Council in which all the centers of production and services were represented: coordination, exchange, sanitation and health, culture, transportation, etc. Both the Local Federations of each industry and the Local Economic Councils were organized regionally and nationally into parallel National Federations of Industry and National Economic Federations... (Por Que Perdimos la Guerra, Buenos Aires, 1940, p. 82)--Ed.

[36] From Diego Abad de Santillan, Por Que Perdimos la Guerra, p. 81

[37] Santillan refers to the period before the fascists took over the region.--Ed.

[38] Incidentally, this opinion is in harmony with Malatesta’s statement that after the abolition of the state and capitalism, with the coming of abundance, and pending the full realization of an anarchist society, money will still remain “the only means (apart from the most tyrannical dictatorship or the most idyllic accord) so far devised by human intelligence to regulate production and distribution automatically.” (Life and Ideas, p. 101)

[39] See Mintz, appendix, pp. 36–37.

[40] It cannot be overemphasized that these were not capitalist banks, i.e., loan sharks accumulating wealth by usury, investment, control of property, and exploitation of labor. Mintz does not make this crucial distinction.--Ed.

[41] Ninety percent of the crop was exported.

[42] From Collectivizations: L ‘Oeuvre Constructive de la Révolution Espagnole (1936–1939) (Collection of Documents) forward by Augustin Souchy, pp. 6, 7, 8, and Los Anarquistas en la Crisis Politica Española, pp. 121–128, 133.

[43] Such were the ideas which the workers endeavored to put into practice immediately after they defeated the fascists. In this last section of the chapter, Jose Peirats graphically sums up how they began to do so.--Ed.

[44] More accurately called Workers’ Committees of Control and Management--Ed.

[45] It was no small achievement to feed and restore the economic life of Barcelona, a city of 1,200,000 (the most populous in Spain). Souchy reports that the food unions, together with the hotel and restaurant workers, opened communal dining halls in each neighborhood. Broué and Témime state that in August the food committee “fed up to 120,000 people a day in open restaurants on presentation of a union card.” (p. 166) The big food wholesale establishments were collectivized. Thirty unions organized themselves into a Food Workers’ Industrial Union (the most important: bakers, butchers, dairy workers). The unions, in general membership meetings, fixed their own wages. The workers became their own bosses. The system embraced all of Catalonia, and five hundred workers coordinated the operations. Broué and Témime conclude that “essential food supplies for militiamen and for the inhabitants of the towns were guaranteed without an appreciable rise in prices.” (p. 166)--Ed.

[46] In 1919, at its Madrid Conference, the CNT decided to replace the outdated craft-union setup, and in conformity with the growth of modern industry, adopted the industrial union form of organization. Those opposed to this change objected that it would lead to excessive centralization and the various local trade unions would lose their autonomy. The resolution to adopt the industrial union form of organization was rescinded (1919), but was finally put into effect by the 1936 Congress of the CNT. The Congress divided industry in 18 industrial federations (later reduced to 15 by the 1938 Valencia economic plenum of the CNT). In no way did industrial unions curtail the freedom of the various crafts. The industrial union was essentially a federation of these interdependent crafts, each exercising full autonomy within its own sphere. The industrial union not only augmented the fighting capacity of the proletariat under capitalism but also constituted the basis for the new socialized economy.--Ed.

[47] From Augustin Souchy, Nacht über Spanien, pp. 98–110.

[48] The tramways serving Barcelona and suburbs covered 69 routes and constituted the mainstay of its transportation system (which also included busses and taxis). Of the 7,000 employes, 6,500 belonged to the CNT Transportation Workers Union.
During the fighting with the fascists, the streets were torn up and obstructed by barricades. After estimating the damage and specifying repairs, a commission representing different departments (electric power, cables, traffic signals, rolling stock, operating personnel, etc.) arranged to resume operations and radioed all personnel to return.
Working around the clock, service was restored only five days after fighting ceased. Seven hundred trolleys (instead of the former 600), newly painted in the red and black colors of the CNT-FAI, were placed in service. This miracle was achieved because the various trades coordinated and organized their work into one industrial union of all the transport workers. Each section was administered by an engineer designated by the union and a worker delegated by the general membership. The delegations of the various sections coordinated operations in a given area. While the sections met separately to conduct their own specific operations, decisions affecting the workers in general were made at general membership meetings.
The engineers and technicians did not (as in “socialist” and capitalist countries) constitute a separate privileged elite. The work of the technicians, engineers, and manual workers was permanently interwoven and integrated. The engineer, for example, could not undertake an important project without consulting the other workers, not only because responsibilities were to be shared but also because in practical problems the manual workers acquired practical experience which technicians often lacked. And the manual workers’ committees could always advise the technicians on the feasibility of various plans and make suggestions.
Under socialized transportation better service was provided for more riders (an increase of 50 million trips in one year). Before the Revolution only 2% of supplies for maintenance and repairs were manufactured by the privately owned company. Under socialization, within only one year, 98% of the repair supplies were made in the socialized shops. The union also provided free medical services, including clinics and home nursing care, for the workers and their families.--Ed.

[49] While conceding this point, the wisdom of such an arrangement has been contested on the grounds that justice would have been better served by proportional representation.--Ed.

[50] There were two big railway unions, the UGT National Railway Union and the CNT National Industrial Federation of Railway Workers. In Catalonia, most of the railway workers adhered to the CNT. In the rest of Spain, before July 19th, the majority of the railway workers belonged to the UGT. But with the growth of the CNT unions after the Revolution, the CNT membership almost equaled that of the UGT.
Technicians who fled were replaced by capable, experienced workers chosen by their workmates. Although these workers had less formal technical schooling, they knew how to get things done properly. With the close cooperation of the workers possessing practical experience within their own special field, efficient railway service was quickly restored.
The cumbersome bureaucratic administration of the railways was dismantled and the new system decentralized to insure genuine and efficient rank and file workers’ self-management at all levels: local, regional, and national. Each section and subsection designated its own technical/adminstrative committee. Each section also elected its own delegates to the coordinating commission in each locality. The general membership meetings of the various sections met twice monthly, in turn, to review the reports of the coordinating commission and issue new instructions.
This procedure was also applied to the reorganization of the railway system of Catalonia into a unified federation in which the local and regional operations were synchronized by the interlocking local and regional coordinating committee.
The Federation consisted of three main divisions: traffic, technical/engineering, and administration. The technical/engineering department was subdivided into three sections: material and traction, power, and right-of-way and construction. The first took care of the upkeep of locomotive depots, freight and passenger equipment, and repair shops. The second section took care of electricity, fuel (coal and oil) stations, trackage, and communications (telegraph, telephone signal system, etc.). The third section arranged to furnish provisions to all employes at cost price and also operated a school for technical and administrative training.
The administrative division was also divided into three sections. The first section dealt with safety, cleaning of cars and equipment, and first aid facilities in stations and workplaces. The second section took care of finances and accounting, kept daily records of revenue and expenditures, and compiled statistical information. The third section was concerned with providing for the general welfare of the workers and dependents (adequate medical service, home nursing, operation of clinics, etc.).
On November 5th, 1936, after the workers took over possession of the railways, the federation circulated a questionnaire, explained that:
In view of the profound socio-economic transformation in our country, we must work out new and better ways of improving our railway system... We appeal to our comrades in general, and to all station committees in particular, to supply the following information ... (About ten key questions relative to better coordination, services, and auxiliary transportation were listed.).
Among the achievements of the new administration was providing bus and truck service to remote areas in Catalonia (especially in the province of Lerida) previously deprived of adequate service. The deficit incurred was made up by better revenues from other lines.--Ed.

[51] Welfare, better known as “fringe benefits,” is now taken for granted in industrialized countries. In the Spain of 1936, and in many countries even now, such “extreme” innovations were regarded as “revolutionary.”--Ed.

[52] The Federated Public Utility Workers Industrial Union of Catalonia, which from the beginning of the Revolution assured an adequate supply of water, gas, and electricity, was organized in 1927 (in spite of the opposition of the dictatorship of General Primo de Rivera). The union serviced all of Catalonia. Similar regional federations embracing all of Spain were affiliated to the National Federation of Public Utility Workers with headquarters in Madrid. CNT membership in Catalonia reached 8,000. A little less than half the utility workers throughout Spain belonged to the UGT.
Technicians and certain skilled workers belong neither to the UGT or the CNT but formed an independent union. The necessity to restore and improve service, and the feeling of solidarity generated by the Revolution inspired them to closer unity with the manual workers. Consequently, the technicians, at a general membership meeting, voted by acclamation to dissolve the independent union and affilliate with the CNT (fifty technicians, solely for ideological reasons joined the UGT).
Important technical/administrative decisions were made at joint general membership meetings of both unions. In spite of the opposition of their leaders, the rank and file UGT workers cooperated in full solidarity with their fellow workers of the CNT. Water, gas, and electrical service continued to be furnished during the whole course of the Civil War, even when temporarily interrupted by the fascist bombardments.
Each installation was managed by a council elected by the workers of each department. To coordinate the work of the whole district, the general membership of each installation named two delegates to the District Industrial Council--one technical and the other administrative.
As in the local, district, and regional bodies, each industry (water, gas, and electricity) was composed of eight delegates, four from the UGT and four from the CNT. Half these delegates were named by the general assemblies of the unions. The other half were named by the general assemblies of the technical workers. This procedure was adopted to make sure that only the most qualified technicians would be chosen. For in general meetings the members might be persuaded by clever orators and politicians to choose less capable delegates for ideological and political reasons.
The General Council of all three industries was also composed of eight delegates, four from the UGT and four from the CNT. The General Council coordinated the joint a activities of the three industries, harmonized production, procurement, and distribution of essential supplies, organized the overall general administration, fixed rates for services, and put forth other measures benefiting the consumers. It must be emphasized that the policies of the General Council (as well as the operations of the Industrial Councils) were at every level controlled by the membership.--Ed.

[53] In this connection, Section B of its report, headed The Structure of the Collective Organization of the Textile Industry, reads:
When collectivization in each expropriated factory is put into effect, the Committee of Control [which kept tabs on the former owners] will become the Technical Advisory Committee ... which will be chosen by all the workers of the factory at a general assembly convoked by the Factory Council and the Union Local...
The heading Departments--Organizing a Group of Factories reads:
The committees charged with the coordination and administration of all factories in a given city or county will be chosen by the technical committees of these factories subject to the approval of the general assembly of the Textile Workers Industrial Union of the given city or county... (Collectivizations, p. 50, 52 )--Ed.

[54] From Augustin Souchy, Nacht über Spanien, pp. 111–112.

[55] From Collectivizations: L’Ouevre Constructive de la Révolution Espagnole (1936–1939) , pp. 72–74.

[56] From Gaston Leval, Né Franco né Stalin, pp. 122–127.

[57] Thus eliminating the temptation of the physician to siphon off funds for himself.--Ed.

[58] On the extent to which wages were equalized, as against the previous great difference in earnings.--Ed.

[59] This section consist, of two parts with material from Gaston Leval, Né Franco né Stalin, pp. 160–169; with additional material from his Espagne Libertaire. pp. 357, 369, 371

[60] Industrial instead of craft unions, which took in all the workers in a given industry irrespective of their occupation.--Ed.

[61] From José Peirats, La CNT en la Revolucion Espanola, vol. I, pp. 356–359.

[62] The CNT, though strong, constituted a minority in the labor movement of the northern region (particularly Santander, Gijon, and Laredo), predominently influenced by the socialist UGT and in the Basque region by the Catholic Republican Separatists. The UGT leadership was, in the main, opposed to collectivization, and accepted it with great reluctance only when forced to do so by the rank and file. For this reason, collectivization in the UGT area was not as thorough as it would have been if the situation were reversed and the CNT unions would have controlled the fishing industry. Another and even more important factor was the early fascist occupation of the northern zone, which contributed so heavily to the defeat of the Republic and also cut short the unfolding of the Revolution.--Ed.

[63] Summarized by Peirats from an article by Solano Palacio in the magazine Timon, July, 1938.

[64] The report does not explain why.--Ed.

[65] Presumably a social democratic paper.--Ed.

[66] Quoted by Peirats from the Press Service of the Libertarian Youth of Bilbao, Jan. 1937.

[67] From José Peirats, Los Anarquistas en la Crisis Politico Española, pp. 149–168.

[68] Exchanges between collectives and the “free market” or the government were conducted in the standard legal currency, the peseta.--Ed.

[69] Born in Graus, Sept. 14, 1846, Joaquin Costa died on Feb. 8, 1911, cursing governments and politics. He wrote about the tragedy of the Spanish peasantry and traced the history of grass roots agricultural collectivism by the peasants themselves. Costa, in no small measure, influenced the Spanish collectivist movement.--Ed.

[70] Peirats, we are sure, is referring to the rank and file UGT members, not to their leaders, who behaved abominably.--Ed.

[71] A mixed system in relation to libertarian communism means that there is a token of exchange (voucher, ration card, etc.) for some articles and free distribution for necessities and surplus articles.--Ed.

[72] Supreme power was vested in, and actually exercised by, the membership in general assemblies, and all power derived from, and flowed back to, the grass roots organizations of the people. Leval remarks in Espagne Libertaire, (p. 219) that:
Regular general membership meetings were convoked weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly ... and these meetings were completely free of the tensions and recriminations which inevitably emerge when the power of decision is vested in a few individuals--even if democratically elected. The Assemblies were open to the public, objections and proposals were discussed openly, and everyone could participate in the proceedings. Democracy embraced all social life. In most cases, even the “individualists” who were not members of the collective could participate in the discussions, and they were listened to by the collectivists...--Ed.

[73] From Gaston Leval, Né Franco né Stalin, pp.143–152.

[74] The libertarian movement has always been extremely sensitive to the dangers of bureaucratic organization, particularly when it involves the work of specialists, scientists, and administrators (to say nothing of politicians). In this regard, Souchy reports that the libertarian collectives took measures:
... to nip in the bud every manifestation of bureaucracy. Every work-group had its delegate. To be well-informed on what was being done, the collectives arranged regular meetings of the administrative commissions. A general congress of all the collectives was convoked every six months. At the congress the plans and projects of the collectives were scrupulously reviewed; detailed instructions on all important matters were given to the administrative commission. Incapable administrators were removed. The congress controlled all operations of the Federation... (Nacht über Spanien, p. 155)--Ed.

[75] That is, made available to collectives in short supply, for export, etc. Souchy observed that: “... the commercial transactions became so complex that the Federation decided to organize a bank only to expedite the purchase and sale of products at home and abroad ... “ Souchy stresses that it was not a capitalist bank making profit through usury. (Nacht über Spanien, p. 156)--Ed.

[76] From José Peirats, La CNT en la Revolución Española, vol. I, pp. 340–342.

[77] We emphasized the phrase traditional boundaries must be eliminated because it stresses the determination of the assembled collectivists to do away with the arbitrary territorial barriers imposed upon the people by the state, and transcend--to use Leval’s phrase--“the kind of petty local and even regional patriotism which springs from a narrow and false conception of true communalism.”--Ed.

[78] Applying the same principle to exchange of commodities between collectives, the Federation arranged for the exchange of surplus products for goods in short supply.

[79] From Augustin Souchy, Nacht über Spanien, pp. 137–139; 145–147; 147–149, 151.

[80] That is, by personal preference. An “affinity grouping” could be called a working partnership of close friends.--Ed.

[81] Enterprises not employing wage labor.--Ed.

[82] This selection is divided into three parts. The first is from Gaston Leval, Né Franco né Stalin, pp. 234–252. The second is from Alardo Prats, a socialist observer quoted by Peirats, La CNT en la Revolución Española, vol. 1, p. 314. The last is from Leval, Espagne Libertaire, pp. 94–108.

[83] Later, as Leval himself recounts, the Municipal Council turned out to be the entering wedge for the destruction of the collectives by the government. This was precisely why the government insisted that they be restored and the independent Revolutionary Committees be dissolved.--Ed.

[84] In general this form of organization was suitable for a village of a few thousand, where people knew each other and face-to-face democracy and surveillance could more effectively detect and check any incipient abuse of power.--Ed.

[85] The construction of piggeries and poultry houses had not yet been completed when Leval was there. Another observer, the socialist Alardo Prats, who saw them when completed, gives this interesting account. Then he also depicts other innovations.--Ed.

[86] It was done collectively, like a fiesta.--Ed.

[87] From H.E. Kaminski, Ceux de Barcelone, pp. 156- 158. The translation is taken from Anarchy #5, July, 1961.

[88] From Gaston Leval, Né Franco né Stalin, pp. 133–143, the translation is taken from Resistance as reprinted in Views and Comments, Oct., 1958. The rules of the popular assembly are added by the editor and are from Espagne Libertaire, pp. 118–119.

[89] Since Leval’s account of health care, education, and other welfare measures instituted in Binefar did not differ substantially from those instituted in other libertarian collectives, it is here omitted.-- Ed.

[90] From The History of Spanish Anarcho-Syndicalism, published in 1968 in Franco Spain! It was reprinted in Gaston Leval’s monthly Cahiers de l’Humanisme Libertaire, Aug.-Sept., 1969, under the title, “An Example from the Spanish Revolution,” demonstrating once again, writes Leval, “the remarkable constructive abilities of the libertarian militants during the Spanish Revolution...”

[91] It is worth noting that in one year the area seeded with wheat increased from 1,938 to 4,522 hectares (one hectare is about 2 1/2 acres), and with barley increased 323 hectares to 1,242 hectares. There were even greater increases in wine production. The value of melons jumped from 196,000 to 300,000 pesetas, and of alfalfa from 80,000 to 250,000 pesetas... The collective installed splendid facilities for raising rabbits and new pigsties for 100 animals, as well as a food market serving 800 persons.-- Note by Leval.

[92] This selection has two parts. The first is by Gaston Leval, from Tierra y Libertad, January 16, 1937. This was translated in Spain and the World, March 5, 1937. The second part is from Leval’s Espagne Libertaire, pp. 171–174.

[93] From Gaston Leval, in Cahiers de I’Humanisme Libertaire, March, 1968. Also in Né Franco né Stalin, pp. 182–186.

[94] It would appear at first sight that the extensive administrative functions of the Committee could easily lead to the abuse of power. But the Committee, the creation of the whole commune, is under its constant control, and is directly responsible to the parent body, i.e., all the people.-- Ed.

[95] From Gaston Leval, Espagne Libertaire, pp. 142–149.

[96] Fifty children per classroom may appear excessive, but considering the backwardness of educational organization in Spain, this represents progress. The important thing is to combat illiteracy. The author taught as many as 52 students in one class (ranging in age from 5 to 15) in the progressive “rationalist” school organized by the Spanish radicals and liberals.-- Ed.

[97] From Gaston Leval, Né Franco né Stalin, pp. 306- 320. The translation is from Anarchy #5, July, 1961.

[98] Number 14 deals with the number and extent of collectivization. Since we have included more complete information elsewhere in the book (see page 71), this point is omitted.-- Ed. [In this electronic copy, page 71 refers to the article “Statistical Information on Agrarian and Industrial Socialization” in Chapter 5’s Money and Exchange by S.D.--theanarchistlibrary contributor]

[99] A fuller discussion of workers’ self-management and of how modern technology (cybernetics, the transportation and the information revolutions, etc.) renders these principles even more relevant is beyond the scope of this work. But there can be no doubt that such an investigation is bound to yield fruitful results and expedite the solution of the problems of social reconstruction which have impeded the development of past revolutions.

From :


November 30, 1973 :
Bibliography -- Publication.

July 11, 2019 16:38:57 :
Bibliography -- Added to


Permalink for Sharing :
Share :


Login to Comment

0 Dislikes

No comments so far. You can be the first!


<< Last Work in The Anarchist Collectives
Current Work in The Anarchist Collectives
Next Work in The Anarchist Collectives >>
This is the last lesson.
All Nearby Works in The Anarchist Collectives
Home|About|Contact|Search|Privacy Policy