The Anarchist Collectives : Part 1: Background, Chapter 1: The Spanish Revolution

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(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 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....)
• "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....)

(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.)
• "...real growth occurs exactly when people have different views and confront each other in order to creatively arrive at more advanced levels of truth -- not adopt a low common denominator of ideas that is 'acceptable' to everyone but actually satisfies no one in the long run. Truth is achieved through dialogue and, yes, harsh disputes -- not by a deadening homogeneity and a bleak silence that ultimately turns bland 'ideas' into rigid dogmas." (From : "The Crisis in the Ecology Movement," by Murray Bo....)
• "...a market economy based on dog-eat-dog as a law of survival and 'progress' has penetrated every aspect of society..." (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....)

(1882 - 1984)
Augustin Souchy Bauer (28 August 1892 – 1 January 1984) was a German anarchist, antimilitarist, labor union official and journalist. He traveled widely and wrote extensively about the Spanish Civil War and intentional communities. He was born in Ratibor, Germany (now Racibórz, Poland). (From :

(1887 - 1983)
Diego Abad de Santillán (May 20, 1897 – October 18, 1983), born Sinesio Vaudilio García Fernández, was an anarcho-syndicalist activist, economist, author, and a leading figure in the Spanish and Argentine anarchist movements. (From :


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Part 1: Background, Chapter 1: The Spanish Revolution

Part One: Background

“The following map is intended to give a general picture of the areas of anarchist influence in Spain. Strongholds were in areas of Andalusia (which was early in the war conquered by the fascists), Aragon, Catalonia, and sections of the Levant. There were isolated pockets elsewhere; particularly in Castile and Asturias.”

Chapter 1: The Spanish Revolution

The Two Revolutions
by Sam Dolgoff

The Spanish Revolution of 1936–1939 came closer to realizing the ideal of the free stateless society on a vast scale than any other revolution in history, including the aborted Russian Revolution of 1917.[11] In fact, they were two very different kinds of revolution. The Spanish Revolution is an example of a libertarian social revolution where genuine workers’ self-management was successfully tried. It represents a way of organizing society that is increasingly important today. The Bolshevik Revolution, by contrast, was controlled by an elite party and was a political revolution. It set the doleful pattern for the authoritarian state capitalist revolutions in Eastern Europe, Asia (China, Korea, Vietnam), and Latin America (Cuba).

The Spanish Revolution thus marks a turning point in revolutionary history. Andrés Nin[12] conceded that it was “a proletarian revolution more profound even than the Russian Revolution itself.” (Broué and Témime, p. 170) Yet it has been virtually ignored for over a quarter century: overshadowed by the Civil War or relegated to the “dustbin of history” as an ‘unsuccessful” revolution. Its significance is only now being adequately evaluated.

It is highly important for those interested in the study of modern revolutions to grasp the significance of social revolution in Spain. By comparing it with Marxist-Leninist doctrine and the Bolshevik example, certain themes will be introduced that will emphasize the Spanish Revolution’s place as a libertarian revolution. These themes will point to the relevance of the Spanish Revolution to our own concerns with the movement for workers’ self-management or workers’ control. Gaston Leval, the French anarchist who participated in and studied the social revolution at first hand, admirably summarizes the achievements of the Spanish workers:

Persuaded that we were fated to lose the war unleashed by Franco Fascism, I was determined to make a detailed study of the Revolution and record for future generations the results of this unique experience: to study on the spot, in the village collectives, in the factories, and in the socialized industries, the constructive work of the Spanish Revolution... In Spain during almost three years, despite a civil war that took a million lives, despite the opposition of the political parties (republicans, left and right Catalan separatists, socialists, Communists, Basque and Valencian regionalists, petty bourgeoisie, etc.), this idea of libertarian communism was put into effect. Very quickly more than 60% of the land was collectively cultivated by the peasants themselves, without landlords, without bosses, and without instituting capitalist competition to spur production. In almost all the industries, factories, mills, workshops, transportation services, public services, and utilities, the rank and file workers, their revolutionary committees, and their syndicates reorganized and administered production, distribution, and public services without capitalists, high salaried managers, or the authority of the state.

Even more: the various agrarian and industrial collectives immediately instituted economic equality in accordance with the essential principle of communism, “From each according to his ability and to each according to his needs.” They coordinated their efforts through free association in whole regions, created new wealth, increased production (especially in agriculture), built more schools, and bettered public services. They instituted not bourgeois formal democracy but genuine grass roots functional libertarian democracy, where each individual participated directly in the revolutionary reorganization of social life. They replaced the war between men, “survival of the fittest,” by the universal practice of mutual aid, and replaced rivalry by the principle of solidarity...

This experience, in which about eight million people directly or indirectly participated, opened a new way of life to those who sought an alternative to anti-social capitalism on the one hand, and totalitarian state bogus socialism on the other...(Espagne Libertaire, p. 11)

This experience in revolution explodes a number of widely held Marxian myths. For instance, that a social revolution could come only when the right stage of economic development prevailed (and then only with the help of a very centralized party dominated by a political elite). In Spain, however, the revolution immediately manifested the very different character anticipated by Bakunin:

The constructive tasks of the Social Revolution, the creation of new forms of social life, can emerge only from the living practical experiences of the grass roots organizations which will build the new society according to their manifold needs and aspirations. (Dolgoff, p. 180)

But spontaneity is not enough. The Spanish revolutionaries (as Bakunin himself repeatedly stressed) realized that it takes time for the “new forms of social life” to emerge, and to establish “grass roots organizations.” To survive in a hostile atmosphere, to incarnate themselves into the revolutionary process, the new forms of organization must be prepared long before the outbreak of the revolution. And so they were. Seventy-five years of militant struggles and intense anarchist educational work prepared the Spanish industrial and land workers to meet the problems of the Social Revolution. (See “The Libertarian Tradition” below)

Trotsky himself conceded the potency of this revolutionary approach by comparing Spain in 1936 to Russia in 1917:

The Spanish proletariat displayed fighting qualities of the highest order ... economically, politically and culturally, the Spanish workers from the very beginning of the Revolution showed themselves to be not inferior, but superior to the Russian proletariat at the beginning of the October Revolution in 1917. (Broué and Témime, p. 131 in the French edition)[13]

As indicated by Leval, the scope of the Spanish Revolution embraced the economic and political life of millions in the most populous and strategic areas of Republican Spain. About 75% of Spanish industry was concentrated in Catalonia, the stronghold of the anarchist labor movement. This refutes decisively the allegation that anarchist organizational principles are not applicable to industrial areas, and if at all, only in primitive agrarian societies or in isolated experimental communities (See chapters 6 and 7 below on urban industrial collectivization).

The libertarian revolution was even more far reaching in the rural areas. This experience explodes the hoary Marxist dogma that only highly industrialized countries are ripe for communism. Augustin Souchy concludes in one of his many books on the Spanish Revolution that:

The Marxist theory that Socialism will first be realized by the masses of the industrialized proletariat, next by the petty bourgeoisie, and last by the peasants is false... The Aragon peasants have proven that industrialization is not the indispensable prerequisite for the establishment of libertarian communism...libertarian communism was almost entirely realized in the smaller rural areas... (De Julio a Julio, p. 172)

Nor are the peasants an inherently backward class as the Marxists would have us believe. All observers agree that:

In the work of creation, transportation, and socialization, the peasants demonstrated a degree of social consciousness much superior to that of the city worker. (Leval, Né Franco né Stalin, p. 320)

This is quite different from the usual view of the revolutionary role of the peasants. A unique characteristic of the Spanish Revolution was the achievement of close cooperation between rural and urban workers. Years of agitation and education by the anarchists were very effective in dealing with what is one of the most crucial problems of every revolution: the relations between the industrial proletariat and the agricultural workers, between the anarchist and anarcho-syndicalist movements and the peasants. The intermeshing of local, regional, and national federations of peasant collectives (which included 90% of the poorest peasants) with the federations of urban socialized enterprises was the culmination of a process which traces back to the latter half of the 19th century.

The impression that Spanish anarchism was largely a rural movement though exaggerated, is by no means unfounded. The terms “rural anarchism” and “rural anarcho-syndicalism” have often, and rightfully, been used to designate Spanish peasant rebellions. A few examples:

In 1881, farm workers ... constituted the largest single occupational grouping in the new Anarchist Federation... By September 1882, 20,915 of the 57,934 members were agrarian workers... The reemergence of rural anarchism in 1903 brought with it more continuous and widespread labor agitation than any previously recorded in Andalusia. The most serious outbreaks occurred in the traditional anarchist strongholds of Seville and Cadiz... From 1913 to 1917 ...anarcho-syndicalist locals sprang up both in the Levant and Aragon. In 1919 there were at least thirty-three such locals in Valencia alone... In Cordova [1920], for example, workers’ organizations existed in 61 of the 75 townships and claimed a membership of 55,382 out of a total active rural population of 130,000. (Malefakis, pp. 139, 140, 148)

During this whole period while “the anarchists had awakened the peasantry,” the Spanish socialists, like their prophet Marx, “largely ignored the existence of the agrarian problem.” (Malefakis, p. 290) Marx placed all his hopes for revolution upon the industrial proletariat. He had no confidence in the creative revolutionary capacity of the agricultural workers. “Rural idiocy” was one of his favorite expressions.

From the experience of the Bolshevik Revolution it should by now be axiomatic that a revolution which provokes the resistance of the peasants, that cannot or will not establish solidarity between land and city workers, must inevitably degenerate into a counter-revolutionary dictatorship. The disastrous consequences of Lenin’s forced requisition of peasant crops and livestock precluded such solidarity. The peasants retaliated by starving the cities, planting only enough for their needs, slaughtering livestock sorely needed by the cities, and finally forcing Lenin to reverse himself and institute his semi-capitalistic “New Economic Policy.” Stalin’s forced “collectivization” of land and the liquidation of millions of “Kulaks” (which all but crippled the economy for many years) proceeded along the same authoritarian lines and are too well documented to need further comment. The “Kholkhozes” (collectives) established by Stalin are not genuine collectives, that is, created and managed by the workers themselves. In the tradition of Lenin and Stalin, they are, like all the other “soviet” social and economic institutions, simply creatures of the state.

The pattern is all too familiar. The workers must obey the orders of the bureaucrats appointed by the state, who are in turn obliged to carry out the instructions of the political commissars. Payment is arbitrarily fixed according to norms (production goals, the speedup system) determined by the state planners. (See the selection below on “The Political and Economic Organization of Society” in which a Spanish anarchist contrasts this authoritarian approach with the libertarian approach actually put into practice in Spain)

The Spanish Revolution shattered yet another Marxist dogma, that of the “transition period.” During the first stage in the transition to full communism, so the doctrine goes, means can be separated from ends. Under “socialism,” it is necessary to retain some of the main evils of capitalism. Thus workers will be paid not according to their needs but according to how much they produce. In line with this theory the Bolsheviks made no serious attempt to abolish the wage system or even to equalize wages.

In less than three years the libertarian collectives did away with the wage system. Where this was not possible because of the sabotage of the Republican government, the bourgeoisie and their socialist and Communist allies, they equalized income to the greatest possible extent (this was true of most of the socialized urban enterprises). The Revolution instituted the “family wage,” under which commodities were distributed and services rendered not according to the amount of labor performed, but according to the number and needs of the family members. Similar arrangements were made for individuals living alone.

More than half a century after the October Revolution the piecework system still prevails. One need only compare the much higher earnings of a “Stakhanovite” (piecework “hero of labor”) as against the low wages of the less “heroic” average worker. Or better yet, compare the privileges enjoyed by the not so new class of high ranking party officials, bureaucrats, technocrats, military officers, and the prostituted “intelligentsia,” with their apartments in town, their “dachas” in the country, their domestic servants (and the rest), with the low living standards of ordinary Soviet families.

Evils “temporarily” tolerated become permanently encrusted and institutionalized into the totalitarian state apparatus, administered by a self-perpetuating ruling class which can be dislodged only by another revolution.

Contrary to Marxist-Leninist doctrine, the experience of the Spanish Revolution clearly demonstrated (even during this famous transitional period from capitalism to socialism) the practical superiority of libertarian organizational procedures to authoritarian dictatorial methods. Cooperation and free agreement from below get better results than rule by decree from the top down. The Marxist-Leninists did not even begin to grasp the most elementary principles of social reconstruction, of how to get things moving again. Adept as they were at political chicanery and seizing power, these “builders of socialism” had not the foggiest notion of how to organize even a village collective, much less to restore the economic life of the great Russian nation. For example:

Andrés Nin liked to tell his companions that the return of public services to normal working order had been incomparably faster in Barcelona in 1936 than in Moscow in 1917. (Broué and Témime, p. 170)

The purged Bolshevik “left oppositionist” Victor Serge (an ex-anarchist who had not entirely rejected all he had learned) criticized the criminal inefficiency of the Bolshevik administrators in dealing with the economic crisis. In seeking another resolution to the economic problems, he illustrated the relevance of libertarian organizational principles:

Through its intolerance and its arrogation of an absolute monopoly of power and initiative in all fields, the Bolshevik regime was floundering in its own toils...Certain industries could have been revived merely by appealing to the initiative of groups of producers and consumers by freeing the State-strangled cooperatives, and inviting various associations to take over the management of different branches of economic activity...In a word, I was arguing for a “Communism of associations”--in contrast to Communism of the State variety...I thought of the total plan not as something to be dictated by the State from on high but rather as resulting from the harmonizing, by congresses and specialized assemblies of initiatives from below (pp. 147–148)

Unfortunately, these creative forms of social life (unions, soviets, factory committees, workers’ councils, cooperatives, and other grass roots organizations), exhausted by years of war and privation were not able to withstand the onslaughts of the well-organized Communist Party dictatorship. Valiant attempts--which took such forms as the Kronstadt rebellion, peasant uprisings, strikes, and passive resistance--to save the real Russian Revolution from its Bolshevik usurpers, were crushed.

The practical application of the libertarian principles that Serge talks about is precisely the achievement of the Spanish Revolution, in stark contrast to the Bolshevik experience (and the experience of most revolutions in this century). In Spain collectives were formed spontaneously according to Spain’s historic traditions and anarchist-federalist principles.

The Spanish Revolution demonstrated in practice that libertarian communist measures could be introduced at once. The Revolution must simultaneously destroy the old order and immediately take on a federalistic and anarchistic direction Revolutionaries exploring new roads to freedom are increasingly inclined to take these factors into account.

These collectives were not conceived according to any single plan or forced to conform to a particular framework. Freedom implies variety, and the reader will see in the selections that follow, the great variety of ways the workers devised to meet their everyday problems. From his observations made during his visits to rural collectives and urban socialized enterprises, Souchy concluded that:

Economic variety, i.e., the coexistence of collective and privately conducted enterprises,[14] will not adversely affect the economy. But economic variety is, on the contrary, the true manifestation and indispensable precondition for a free society. Regimentation, the imposition of a uniform economic system by and for the benefit of the state, works out inevitably to the detriment of the people...[15] (Nacht über Spanien, pp. 151–152)

The anarchist Diego Abad de Santillan is somewhat more explicit:

In each locality the degree of communism, collectivism, or mutualism[16] will depend upon the conditions prevailing. Why dictate rules? We who make freedom our banner cannot deny it in the economy. Therefore there must be free experimentation, free show of initiative and suggestions, as well as freedom of organization...We are not interested in how the workers, employes, and technicians of a factory will organize themselves. That is their affair. But what is fundamental is that from the first moment of Revolution there exist a proper cohesion (coordination) of all the productive and distributive forces. (After the Revolution, pp. 97, 98, 99)

More than any other revolution, the Spanish Revolution succeeded in effectively coordinating just such a mixed economy under conditions of freedom and a minimum of friction. Many individuals, petty peasant proprietors, were induced to join the collectives, not by force, but by witnessing the advantages of cooperation. The realistic policies and the humanitarian spirit of the Spanish libertarian collectives also earned the cooperation of technical, professional, and scientific workers in reorganizing economic life. Friendly relations were established with those who preferred to remain outside of the collectives.

It is a twofold historic tragedy that the Communist Party, which aborted the Russian Revolution of 1917, also crushed the Spanish Revolution of 1936–1939. But this takes us away from the very real accomplishments and lessons of the Spanish Revolution.

The Bolshevik Revolution vs The Russian Social Revolution

In the course of the crises and failures which followed one another up to the revolution of 1917, Bolshevism was not the only conception of how the Social Revolution should be accomplished... [A] second fundamental ideal, likewise envisaging a full and integral social revolution, took shape and spread among the revolutionary circles and also among the working masses: this was the Anarchist idea.

The Bolshevik idea was to build, on the ruins of the bourgeois state, a new “Workers’ State” to constitute a “workers’ and peasants’ government,” and to establish a “dictatorship of the proletariat”... In the contention of the Bolsheviki, it was the elite--their elite--which, forming a “workers’ government” an establishing a so-called “dictatorship of the proletariat,” would carry out the social transformation and solve its prodigious problems. The masses should aid this elite (the opposite of the libertarian belief that the elite should aid the masses) by faithfully, blindly, mechanically carrying out its plans, decisions, orders, and “laws.” And the armed forces, also in imitation of those of the capitalist countries, like wise should blindly obey the “elites.”

The Anarchist idea [was and] is to transform the economic and social bases of society without having recourse to a political state, to a government, or to a dictatorship of any sort. That is, to achieve the Revolution and resolve its problems not by political or statist means, ... by means of natural and free activity, economic and social, of the associations of the workers themselves, after having overthrown the last capitalist government... The libertarians hold that a favorable solution of the problems of the Revolution can result only from the freely and consciously collective and united work of millions of men and women who bring to it and harmonize in it all the variety of their needs and interests, their strength and capacities... By the natural interplay of their economic, technical, and social organizations, with the help of the “elite” and, in case of need, under the protection of their freely organized armed forces, the laboring masses should, in the view of the libertarians, be able to carry the Revolution effectively forward.

Voline, from Nineteen-Seventeen: The Russian Revolution Betrayed (London, 1954)

Such is, and remains, the essential difference between the two ideas. Such also were the two opposed conceptions of the Social Revolution at the moment of the Russian upheaval in 1917.

“Poster of the CNT-FAI. Caption reads ‘The Revolution and the War are inseparable.’”

The Trend Towards Workers’ Self-Management
by Sam Dolgoff

The social revolution in Spain was a libertarian revolution in many aspects, from its voluntaristic methods to its anti-bureaucratic principles. But perhaps the most important was the practice of workers’ self-management, manifested in the freely formed collectives of urban and rural workers and their federalist form of coordination.

Frank Mintz writes in the foreword to his La Collectivization en Espagne de 1936 á 1939 that the study of Spanish collectives is relevant because:

The problem of collective management ... collectivization in line with federalist theories, “self-government,” “workers’ control” ... is even more applicable than before... In advanced industrial countries, political and economic centralization leads to irrational concentration of industries... To defrost the economy certain social groups (economists, politicians, the clergy) are advocating various forms of workers’ participation in industry... (pp. 2–3)

Economists, sociologists, politicians, administrators, and statesmen in both East and West now favor a measure of workers’ control (decentralization, collectivization, co-management), not because they have suddenly become anarchists, but primarily because technology has rendered such forms of organization operational necessities. But as long as these forms are tied to capitalism or the state, these various forms of self- or co-management in both industrial and rural areas will remain a fraud, a more efficient device to enlist the cooperation of the masses in their own servitude.

For example, the Yugoslavian experiments (which have been variously called “workers’ control,” “self-management,” “co-management,” “collectives,” or “communes”) have been hailed as a radical, even libertarian, departure from Soviet-style rural collectivization and industrial co-management. Yugoslavian Communists claim that these measures are in line with Marx’s and Engels’ prediction that the “state will wither away.’ In their acrimonious factional disputes, the Russians have accused their Yugoslavian comrades of flirting with the “old discredited utopian visions of Proudhon, Bakunin, Kropotkin, and the Anarcho-Syndicalists,” allegedly imported by the Yugoslavian members of the International Brigade from Spain (thus implying a connection with Spanish anarchism). But upon closer examination the Yugoslavian system of “workers’ control” turns out to be a brazen fraud, differing in no essential respect from the Russian totalitarian pattern. Daniel Guérin, a keen student of the subject, sums up the facts:

Both in Yugoslavia and in Algeria ... self-management is coming into being in the framework of a dictatorial, military, police state whose skeleton is formed by a single party ... a small minority... The real managers of the enterprises ... perpetuate themselves in dictatorial positions, cutting themselves off from the rank and file workers whom they treat with arrogance and contempt... The party cells in most enterprises falsify elections ... pressure workers’ councils to ratify decisions taken in advance, and manipulate the national congresses of the workers... (pp. 145, 146, 147)

In this connection it is worth noting that the Yugoslavian Communists never intended to hand over control of the economy to the workers. As far back as 1952, they made sure that their party would remain in the saddle. According to Borba, the official organ of the party, of the 763 directors of enterprises, 763 were active party members: “all directors understand that their main obligation is to be faithful to the party and the state which named them to their posts in reward for their zealous service to the party... “ (Borba, Feb. 13, 1952, quoted in Noir et Rouge, Paris, 1966, p. 18)

Another more recent example of a “revolutionary” and totalitarian economy is Cuba. Guerin quotes (on p. 152) from Cuba: Socialism and Development (New York, 1970) by Erné Dumont, an economic specialist and sympathetic consultant to Castro. Dumont deplores the “hyper-centralization” of the economy and “authoritarian” approach to managing industry. A knowledgeable Polish friend voiced Dumont’s views when he said, “Cuba is beginning all over again the useless cycle of economic errors of the socialist countries.” Dumont’s recommendations closely resemble the organizational principles instituted by the Spanish libertarian collectives: genuine self-management including autonomous production units in factories and federations of small production cooperatives in agriculture. On page 148 Guerin points to “Spanish Anarcho-Syndicalism” as the model for the regeneration of the Cuban labor movement, crushed by Castro. To have genuine self-management there must be “an authentic trade-union movement, independent of authority and of the single party, springing from the workers themselves and at the same time organizing them ... “

Dumont has since written another book with the revealing title Is Cuba a Socialist Country? , denouncing the Castro regime for the further degeneration and militarization of the Cuban economy and social life. He proceeds to answer the question (in his title) in the negative. Paul Zorkine, an expert who made an exhaustive study of the subject, states that:

On the basis of the facts, the idea of workers’ councils is incompatible with the existence of the state, and whenever these two (the state and the councils) tried to coexist, it was not the state that “withered away” but, on the contrary, the state absorbed the councils... (Noir et Rouge, April, 1966, Zorkine’s emphasis)

The idea of self-management of industry, urban and rural, not as a “partnership between management and labor” or between the state and its subjects but as the cornerstone of a libertarian society, is increasingly evident in the changing attitudes of the most advanced elements in the modern labor and socialist movements. Although (as is to be expected) there are all sorts of differing viewpoints, the libertarian trend of thought, too often clouded by authoritarian overtones, is unmistakable even among professed Marxists. A good example is an interview with Michel Pablo, formerly secretary of the Trotskyist “Fourth International” and a former member of the defunct Algerian Ben Bella government.

Question: [The] struggle for workers’ control and self-management suggest a different type of “socialism” to what we have known. We have been used to revolutions ... followed by the setting up of a centralized state apparatus which plans and directly manages an almost wholly nationalized economy. It is popularly held that ... while it means that bureaucracy proliferates and the workers have less rights than in many advanced capitalist countries, it is the best way to quickly develop... Is this “economic” justification valid?

Answer: I don’t think so at all... The basis of their [the “underdeveloped” countries] sustained, continuous economic development must, in my opinion, be the formation of the self-managed commune. These countries must be looked upon as a collection of communes, each commune representing not only an administrative unit but an economic unit which carries out its own plan of economic and social development... (Bulletin of the Institute for Workers’ Control, Vol. 2, No. 5, 1970)

There is a growing disillusionment with nationalization of industry in both capitalist democracies and totalitarian “socialist” countries. Although not yet prepared to call for the total abolition of the state, the realization that the powers of the state must be curbed spurs the search for practical alternatives to authoritarianism. And this search is taking on an increasingly libertarian direction.

Truly, as so aptly put by Geoffrey Ostergaard, workers’ control is “an idea on the wing.”[17] This renewed interest spurs intensive research on the history and significance of the workers’ control tendency from the days of Robert Owen up to the present. A vast recent literature on the subject piles up. But this research will remain woefully inadequate until such time as the movement is enriched by indispensable and adequate literature on the unparalleled constructive achievements of the Spanish Revolution.

“In a mass demonstration in Barcelona, workers hold a banner reading, ’Solidaridad Obrera, the daily newspaper of the Revolution.’ The banner is inscribed with the initials CNT, FAI, and AIT (the International Workingman’s Association).”

It is hoped that the primary source documents of various eyewitnesses and activists assembled here will, in their own modest way, help fill the need for such vital information and inspire others.

From :


November 30, 1973 :
Part 1: Background, Chapter 1: The Spanish Revolution -- Publication.

July 11, 2019 16:23:37 :
Part 1: Background, Chapter 1: The Spanish Revolution -- Added to


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