Collectivizations: The constructive achievements of the Spanish Revolution : Essays, documents and reports

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(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 :


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1. Collectivization in Spain I The military revolt of July 19, 1936 had wide-ranging consequences for the economic life of Spain. Defense against the militarists and the clergy was only possible with the help of the proletariat. Alone, the republican bourgeoisie would have succumbed. It had to align itself with the proletariat. In 1934, when the Catalonian left sought to challenge Madrid without the workers, and against the anarchists and the syndicalists, Madrid was victorious. The advocates of Catalonian autonomy were defeated. After this conquest, Madrid exacted its vengeance. The Catalonian politicians, beginning with Companys, were sentenced to years in prison. If the petty bourgeoisie did not want to expose itself this time to the same danger, it had to join forces with the anarchists and syndicalists. This alliance could not be limited to the political terrain. The anarchists and syndic... (From :

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2. The Collectivization Decree [The criminal military revolt of July 19 has led to an extraordinary disruption of the economy of the country. The Council of the Generalitat must attend to the reconstruction of the damage caused to the industry and commerce of Catalonia by the treason of those who tried to impose a regime of violence on our country. The popular reaction triggered by this revolt has been of such intensity that it provoked a profound economic-social transformation, whose foundations are being laid in Catalonia. The accumulation of wealth in the hands of an ever smaller group of persons was followed by the accumulation of misery in the working class and, because the former group, in an attempt to preserve its privileges, did not hesitate to provoke a bloody war, the victory of the people will be equivalent to the death of capitalism. It is now therefore necessary to organize production, orienting it... (From :

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3. A Brief Sketch of the Catalonian Economy Although it comprises no more than six percent of the total area of Spain, Catalonia is nonetheless, at least in terms of economics, the wealthiest and most important province of the peninsula. Whereas economic activity in the rest of Spain is essentially oriented towards agriculture, industry is largely concentrated in Catalonia. As a result, Catalonia has a population density twice that of the median population density of the peninsula as a whole. Besides the riches derived from below the surface of the ground, which can be found almost everywhere in Spain, Catalonia possesses a major share of the national wealth. One will therefore understand why the collective exploitation of enterprises, which is our topic, plays such a considerable role in the intensive development of Catalonian industry. Thus, for example, the textile industry, the largest in Spain, is almos... (From :

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Part 1 - The New Collective Economy Collectivizations: The Constructive Achievements of the Spanish Revolution. Essays, Documents and Reports—Agustin Souchy and Paul Folgare Publisher’s Note from the Spanish Edition of 1977 This work, which comprises one of the main sources that must be referred to for any analysis of the collectivizations that took place during the Spanish Revolution, was first published by “Tierra y Libertad” in Barcelona in 1937. After the Civil War it was republished in Toulouse by the CNT, in an edition that omitted the authors’ names. The mere fact that the first edition of this book was published in 1937 will be enough to alert the reader to the existence of certain very general limitations imposed on the interpretation of the text. On the one hand, it was written during the critical moments of the Revolution, and vividly... (From :

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Part 2 - Collective Labor in the Various Sectors of the Economy 1. TRANSPORT Two Confiscation Proclamations from the Catalonian Railroads—How our comrades seized the railroads and how they organized the transportation services—The Port of Barcelona—The Compañia Transátlantica—The work of the CNT has improved trolley service in Barcelona. PROCLAMATION OF THE CONFISCATION OF THE RAILROADS OF CATALONIA In the town of Manresa, on July twenty-fourth of the year nineteen hundred thirty-six, at a meeting of the trade union organizations of the National Federation of the Railroad Industry, affiliated with the National Confederation of Labor, and the National Railroad Trade Union, affiliated with the General Workers Union, which have hereby agreed, in the name of and representing the personnel of the Compañia General de Ferrocarriles Catalanes, for th... (From :

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2. THE TEXTILE INDUSTRY The structure of the textile industry—Report of the Textile Trade Union of Barcelona—The structure of the collective organizations in the textile industry. Three patterns—La España Industrial: Report on the activity of the Central Committees in the factories. THE STRUCTURE OF THE TEXTILE INDUSTRY REPORT OF THE TEXTILE TRADE UNION OF BARCELONA One of the most important industries in Catalonia, most heavily concentrated in Sabadell and Tarrasa, is the textile industry. The trade union mentioned above has 40,000 CNT workers in Barcelona alone. The two major trade union federations together have 230,000 workers in the industry, 170,000 of whom are members of our Confederation. The current proportions among the unionized workers are approximately 70% in the CNT, and 30% in the UGT. Wages... (From :

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3. MISCELLANEOUS INDUSTRIES Hispano-Suiza—The optical industry, born from the Revolution—The collectivized C.A.M.P.S.A. of Catalonia HISPANO-SUIZA The workshops of this important enterprise are working most intensely and with the greatest variety for the supply of the working class militias. The trade union organizations proceeded from the very beginning to confiscate the factory, and the workers have been entirely reorganized under the direction of the institutions created by the proletariat for that purpose, adapting the factory to the needs imposed by the civil war. Never before has a factory’s production been so completely transformed from peacetime to war production. All war production in the factories of the metal industry is subject to the control of the Committee of Militias, which acts through a direct delegate specially appointed for this task. The comrade who performs such a complicated... (From :

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4. THE ORGANIZATION OF THE FOOD SUPPLY “THE DANCE COMES FROM THE BELLY” This refrain, which the gaunt farmers of Castile pass on from father to son, perhaps from the need to concentrate in one sentence the harsh experience of their days from sunrise to sunset, with little bread and hard work, is the one that is most applicable to the dramatic situation of Spain today. The bodies of Moors found in the vicinity of Madrid, bearing all the signs of starvation; the declarations of Hedilla, the leader of the Phalange, in which he expresses his sympathy for his fascists who march into battle with hardly anything to eat; and the “one meal days” imposed by Quepo de Llano on the impoverished people of Seville are perhaps—besides, of course, being reprehensible for other powerful reasons—the best evidence of the strategic failures of the scheming generals. The pronounced obsession of the rebel radio broadcasts, w... (From :

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5. PUBLIC SERVICES Power and light—The transformation of the Barcelona Water Corporation into the Workers Water Supply Trade Union POWER AND LIGHT: THE ROLE OF THE TRADE UNIONS IN THE WORKERS DIRECTION AND ADMINISTRATION OF THE COLLECTIVIZED INDUSTRIES The Section Committee Generally, during the pre-revolutionary period, we called it the Technical Commission; today, so that it is not confused with the Committee composed of technicians, in the new trade union structure we call it the Section Commission. Having cleared up that point, we shall also mention that since it is an industry composed of various specialized jobs, the latter are organized into fifteen-member units that elect from within their ranks three delegates to the Section Commission mentioned above; in those cases where the number of workers in a specialized job category is less than fifteen, they may join the nearest group th... (From :

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6. THE COLLECTIVIZATION OF THE BARBERSHOPS UNDER THE EGIS OF THE NATIONAL CONFEDERATION OF LABOR The barbershops before July 19 On every street, on every corner, one right next to another, are the barbershops, and there are no regulations to restrict this abuse. The situation was made worse by the insolvency of many bold entrepreneurs who opened their shops under the onus of installment payments and thought they could live at the expense of the working class barber, who needs a job and who, hounded by necessity, worked under terrible conditions. The barbershops that offered shaves at 0.30 pesetas without a tip were the answer to the wishes of the parasites accustomed to living off their fellow men. We shall speak of these persons in a separate section. A shave for 0.15 pesetas and a haircut for 0.25 pesetas A cheap mirror, a few towels and a bar of soap for every one hundred custo... (From :

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7. AGRICULTURE The Resolutions of the Plenary Assembly of the Agricultural Workers of Catalonia—Statutes of the Section of Collective Labor of the Trade Union of Valls—The organizational plan for the agricultural, livestock and industrial wealth of Sollana RESOLUTIONS OF THE PLENARY ASSEMBLY OF THE AGRICULTURAL WORKERS OF CATALONIA The Presentation, which provided a detailed study of the different characteristics that distinguish Catalonian agriculture, as well as a profound analysis of the psychology of the peasants of the region, allows us to summarize the following orientations, in the hope that they will serve or be capable of serving as a guide for the planning of the path that we must follow and that will lead us to the achievement of total collectivization of the land, a goal that is anchored in the principles of the CNT. The characteristics of Catalonian minifundism originate in th... (From :

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Part 3 - Collective Labor in the Provinces of Catalonia 1. TARRASA THE FACTORIES OF TARRASA Close to the city, the mountain, the cyclopean pile of San Llorenç del Munt, casts its imposing silhouette. On the plain, an army of smokestacks. In Tarrasa, a town with some forty thousand residents, the manufacturing industry predominates, in which some fourteen thousand workers are employed, eleven thousand of whom are members of the CNT and the rest affiliated with the UGT. Almost all the factories are working at full capacity. There are plenty of factories devoted to spinning wool (acortiments) and weaving fabrics, which are especially dedicated to working to supply war materiel. A forty-hour workweek is in effect, although when it is necessary to increase production due to the impact of the war, the workers work overtime, Saturdays and Sundays, without pay. As for the tech... (From :

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2. GERONA THE TRACES OF THE PAST There are towns that do not lose, with the incessant passage of the years, their aspects that are evocative of distant eras; they preserve within them the traces of what they once were. Walk anywhere in Gerona and you will see everywhere the traces of its past: narrow streets, aristocratic mansions that preserve the severity of their times of splendor, old churches, high, thick walls, typical street corners, typical sights, in short, your imagination will fly towards times past which will never return. Gerona is a city where the influence of religion has weighed heavily on the consciousness of its population. With its tenacious and incessant proselytizing zeal, the Church had been molding minds, and dominating wills at its whim. And alongside the Church, under the rule of the Archbishop, a caste of powerful and reactionary men had emerged. And so too did a caste of servile elements, with an... (From :

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3. TORROELLA WHAT CAN BE ACHIEVED BY WILL-POWER Leaving Gerona, the highway, narrow and straight, bordered by trees, crosses between small villages of adobe houses, in each case crowded together around an old church, which is today deserted and useless. The automobile can go more slowly now and we may observe the countryside. We pass by the silhouettes, bent over the furrowed ground of the farms, of the men and women who are patiently working, and the sadness that characterizes the traditional peasant of the old style who, alone on “his” land, toils to extract the surplus product that must provide his sustenance. Compare the labor of these poor folk, so sad and so slow, with the enthusiasm, with the cheerfulness, with the vigor and the surge of optimism that sweeps over the peasants who collectively work the land, brothers in labor, together in the everyday struggle for survival. Throughout these areas, in these... (From :

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4. GRANOLLERS THE PROBLEM OF PROVISIONS The market of Granollers is traditionally famous throughout all of Catalonia. This town in the region of Vallés is one of the most lively and affluent market towns due to its traffic in poultry and livestock. At its weekly market the middlemen once swarmed, who, exercising their cleverness in this kind of transaction, departed enriched at the expense of the peasants who had no choice but to resort to these middlemen to sell their wares. As we know, commerce has relied upon a whole series of individuals who, bargaining between the seller and the buyer, have made a killing. The comrades who took control of local provisioning have abolished the middlemen, thereby preventing the abuses and the speculation that used to be the sorry norm. In a town of such commercial importance as Granollers, it is understandable that one of the primary concerns of those who assumed responsibility fo... (From :

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5. ESPARRAGUERA From the highway, rising from Martorell, the huddle of houses of Esparraguera stand against the background, on the edge of the horizon, of the imposing mass of Montserrat that penetrates the blue sky with the sharp peaks of its high crests. The town has about 5,800 inhabitants, and about 2,600 of them are members of the CNT. Most of the town’s workers are employed in the manufacturing industry. Two factories are devoted to the spinning of cotton thread, the production of fabrics and finished clothing, corduroy, velvet, etc. One of the factories is that of Juan Montaner y Font, which employs some 160 workers. The other is the renowned Manufacturas Sedó, controlled by the CNT, the most important factory of its kind in all of Catalonia. It has 1,800 employes. After Industry, the most important sector is the Peasants Section, which is also affiliated with the Confederat... (From :

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6. VILLAFRANCA DEL PANADÈS We drove our car along a new highway; we went around another small hill, and left behind us the huddled houses of some village, the white silhouette of a country house along the road; and to the right, left, and on every side, the symmetrical lines of sight seemed to go on forever. We are in the Panadès, the region that is so famous for its vineyards, where the most famous wines of Spain and the world are made. Villafranca is the most important town in the region, where the wine industry and commerce are highly developed. The town has many export businesses, which are controlled by the workers employed in them. Wine is the main source of wealth here and the essential basis for trade. The comrades of the Supply Committee tell us that many commercial transactions have been carried out with France, consisting in the exchange of products. Besides agriculture and trade, th... (From :

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7. RUBÍ THE EFFORTS OF THE PEASANTS This town has some 8,000 inhabitants, and all of the workers in the town are members of the Confederation. It is an essentially agricultural area, although it does have about a dozen factories engaged in the manufacture of finished and semi-finished fabrics. Here, as everywhere else, it is the peasants of the countryside who especially demonstrated their faith in the advent of the new social structure born from the Revolution. It is the peasant comrades, members of the CNT, who are in the vanguard of the work of renewal that must be carried out in agriculture. Without a petty and grasping mentality, without abject bourgeois egoism, and without getting mixed up in any political scheming, these 180 farmers who have formed a collective work incessantly, and have pooled together their respective small properties, united in labor. Our farmer comrades of the CNT deserve pra... (From :

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8. VILANOVA I LA GELTRÚ Every town we visit has its own particular characteristics that distinguish it from the other towns. In Vilanova i la Geltrú, a city of some twenty thousand inhabitants, municipal life has been influenced to the greatest possible extent by the federalist principle. The Municipal Council is composed of the following comrades: 7 from the National Confederation of Labor; 6 from the “Esquerra”; 3 from the POUM; 4 from the PSU; and 2 from the “Rabassaires”. There is neither a mayor nor a president. The comrades who assume the administrative functions are members of the various pertinent commissions for the normal functioning of municipal life. Each session of the municipal council elects a president, in order to facilitate discussion. It should be noted that resolutions are not adopted by majority vote, but every question is debated until there is total unanimity. Due to these fe... (From :

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9. AMPOSTA ON THE BANKS OF THE EBRO On the right bank of the river is the town, composed for the most part of the humble homes of peasants, worn by the passage of time. Wide and impressive, after flowing nine hundred twenty eight kilometers, the most important river in Spain, born from the springs of Fontibre (Santander), issues into the blue waters of “Mare Nostrum”. Just past the town, the Ebro is more than three hundred meters wide. The land stretches in an unbroken plane for as far as the eye can see. A small hamlet breaks the monotony of the journey, the ribbons of some canals scoring the land. Amposta is a town of ten thousand inhabitants, and its economy is based on agriculture. It is known for its rice, and produces more rice than any other part of Catalonia. In the last rice harvest of the year, which takes place in September, thirty-six million kilos of rice ar... (From :

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10. ARENYS DE MAR TOWNS AND CITIES We wanted to visit sparsely populated towns as well as densely populated cities. We have constantly observed that in the small towns more significant social programs of a revolutionary type have been implemented than in the more populous cities. Perhaps this is in part due to the fact that a small town is less complicated compared to a city. What interests us is what has been achieved, or plans that are being considered for implementation. We take into consideration the importance, or the congenial character, of all those initiatives that have been undertaken to establish a new era. This is what we are trying to highlight in our brief reports gathered among the confederal areas, as we visited various towns. THE SOCIAL ENVIRONMENT Arenys de Mar has about 5,000 inhabitants. Although other groups are represented in the town, the CNT is predominant. Most... (From :

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Part 4 - Libertarian Communism 1. LÉCERA, AN ARAGONESE TOWN WHERE LIBERTARIAN COMMUNISM IS A REALITY Lécera is a model town—Its characteristics—The understanding of the Revolutionary Committee—The administration and remuneration of labor—Distribution of products—The outpost of Monte Lobo—Belchite, two thousand five hundred meters from us—A talk with Captain Luis Jubert A MODEL TOWN FOR THE NOBILITY OF ITS SENTIMENTS Lécera is the largest town in the province of Zaragoza and belongs to the judicial district of Belchite. The latter town is twelve kilometers distant. Lécera has 2,400 inhabitants and possesses some industry, including a plaster factory. The rest of its economy is based on agriculture, its most important crops being wheat, grapes, saffron and a smaller quantity of miscellaneous grain crops. (From :

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2. FRAGA Another small town, without wealth or comfort. At the junction of the Barcelona-Saragossa-Madrid highway, in the region of Aragon, on the slope of one of those hills that one finds throughout the region, Fraga, a little town with 9,000 inhabitants, the leading town in one of the provinces of Aragon, gives the impression of a large city of badly cobbled streets and dilapidated old hovels. From these hovels, simple and friendly workers emerge; the streets are full of life, and the town, which is usually so quiet, is today bustling with activity. Here, too, those who were always exploited, and who used to work incessantly only to die of hunger, these workers of the farms and the workshops, have taken their own destinies into their hands. This was not difficult, for as soon as the first news of the military uprising and the people’s reaction reached the town, the few active fascist sympathizers here rapidly disappeared. Othe... (From :

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3. MEMBRILLA In the rocky countryside of La Mancha, to the southwest of Ciudad Real, one finds Membrilla. In miserable huts, the poor inhabitants of a poor province; 8,000 people, but the streets are not paved; the town has no newspaper, no cinema, no café, no library. It did, however, contain many churches, which have all been burned. In 1920 some workers founded a branch Trade Union of the National Confederation of Labor. The militants underwent continuous persecution; the organization was even dissolved during the dictatorship of Primo de Rivera. The reestablished Republic reintroduced political freedom, but economic conditions did not improve, and the town was just as poor as before. Five years passed in this way, without anything having changed with regard to the social conditions of the town. When the military uprising began, on July 19, there were seven Civil Guards and several dozen fascists i... (From :

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11. BLANES A PLACE THAT USED TO BE A HATEFUL LOCATION OF EXPLOITATION OF THE WORKERS Just before arriving at the town we encounter the concentration of buildings of the SAFA, a well-known factory producing artificial silk. When we look at this factory, when we converse with the workers employed in it, we must remind ourselves of all its odious past: the phases of struggle provoked by the management of this factory. SAFA operated with Swiss and French capital, and Romanones and Ventosa y Calvell were also major shareholders in the enterprise. The workers were treated with the most extreme despotism, as if they were servants born to endure every kind of insult and the most outrageous provocations; they were paid paltry wages for the unhealthiest jobs. Many became ill due to their work in the factory, so that the shareholders could see their profits rise. There were three major strikes at SAFA that demonstrated t... (From :

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See the short biographical article by Nick Heath at: for the various pseudonyms employed by Paul or Pablo Folgare, a/k/a Paul Polgare, a/k/a Pal Partos. The original Spanish edition of 1937 utilized the Spanish version of Souchy’s first name, but not Folgare’s [Note added by the translator of the English edition]. The collectivization process in Russia never went beyond this stage. André Gide describes this in his book, Retour de l’URSS, as follows: “We visited a model Kolkhoz in the neighborhood of Sukhum. It dates from six years back. After having struggled obscurely for some time, it is now one of the most prosperous in the country. It is known as ‘the millionaire’ and is bursting with life and happiness. This Kolkhoz stretches over a very large tract of country. The climate ensures a luxurious vegetation. The... (From :


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