The Anarchist Collectives : Preface

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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....)
• "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 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....)

(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....)
• "...the extraordinary achievements of the Spanish workers and peasants in the revolution of 1936, many of which were unmatched by any previous revolution." (From : "The Ghost of Anarcho-Syndicalism," by Murray Book....)

(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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To the heroic workers and peasants of Spain!

To my comrades, the Spanish Anarchists, who perished fighting for freedom!

To the militants who continue the struggle!


The Spanish Social Revolution has been long neglected in English language works. Its importance as a revolutionary event and model, and as a concrete example of workers’ self-management by the people is just not recognized. My purpose in this collection is to provide an introduction to this unique experience. In my first chapter and friend Bookchin’s introductory essay, a general overview and context is presented. Most important, of course, is that this was a real experience for the people who took part. Through their words and deeds and the observations of the authors used in this collection, it is hoped that the reader will gain a meaningful understanding of the aims and organization of the anarchist collectives.

The material has been divided into two main sections. The first provides essential background information: the nature of the Spanish Revolution, the collectivist tradition, the development of the libertarian labor movement in Spain, and the historical events leading up to and then culminating in the destruction of the collectives.

The second, and main, section deals with the actual social revolution--the overall characteristics of agrarian collectivization and industrial socialization. It begins with a discussion about economic coordination, the place and nature of money in the collectives, and includes statistics on the number of collectives. It then deals with actual descriptions of life in the collectives, first under industrial socialization, and then in the rural collectives: how the new institutions were established, how they functioned, how production and distribution were handled; about coordination, exchange, relations between collectives, and between collectivized and non-collectivized areas. The book ends with a short evaluation of the anarchist collectives with some comments on their relevance and lessons.

The glossary, bibliography and appendices add to the overall usefulness of this volume. The photographs reproduced within begin to correct the visual bias that has left a plethora of war scenes but very little reflecting the constructive aspects of the Spanish Social Revolution. Most of the pictures are from contemporary sources held by the editor. I would like to thank Victor Berch, Special Collections Librarian at Brandeis University for permission to use the pictures on pages 104, 141, and 142.

The observers speaking in these selections visited the same regions and often the same collectives at different times within the short span of approximately two years. Since each observer stressed what seemed most important to him, their accounts supplement each other, thus providing a more balanced view of the new way of life than any single observer could have done. Under these circumstances, though, some repetition is inevitable. The translations I have made are strict to the meaning, but are not literal, for I have also been concerned with giving the spirit of the words, and with reducing repetitions.

Finally I would like to express my thanks to all the farsighted and brave people whose work I have used in putting together this collection. (A short biography on each is included in the bibliography.) Their efforts have immortalized a social experience of momentous importance. My object has been to present them to the English reader within a context that will be useful.

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November 30, 1973 :
Preface -- Publication.

July 11, 2019 16:21:03 :
Preface -- Added to


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