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An Overview of the Revolution in Barcelona
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4. An Overview of the Revolution in Barcelona

Given the background of conflict between workers and bourgeois, the outbreak of revolution in Barcelona should come as no surprise. Weaker than its French counterpart, the Catalan bourgeoisie had developed only primitive productive forces, and workers’ living standards remained relatively low. Into the 1930s, working-class militants of major organizations such as the CNT continued to adhere to revolutionary ideologies. During the Revolution these militants would take control of the means of production and attempt to put their ideologies into practice. Like other twentieth-century revolutionaries, the Barcelonan activists were forced to confront not only their declared enemies but also the indifference of those they claimed to represent. They reacted with both coercion and persuasion: terrorist tactics and labor camps supplemented patriotic propaganda and socialist realism. Before these topics can be explored, however, the eruption of the Spanish Revolution in Barcelona must be examined.

It was, ironically enough, the failure of the revolt against the republic by a large part of the military that detonated in Barcelona the revolution that those in uniform had dreaded. In the first half of 1936 mounting social and political violence throughout Spain and fears that the traditionalist order would soon be dismantled provoked the pronunciamiento of the Spanish generals, eventually headed by Generalísimo Francisco Franco. In Barcelona the military revolt of 19 July was defeated because of the combined actions of republicans, Socialists, Communists, Guardia civil who remained loyal to the republic, and, most important, CNT militants. The CNT and the FAI became the strongest forces in Barcelona and dominated public power in the city after the failure of the revolt. Despite their supremacy, these libertarians decided to form a Central Committee of Antifascist Militias with the other left-leaning parties and unions of Catalonia.The committee was a government in everything but name; with CNT and FAI backing, the new regime created the “necessary patrols” and “disciplinary measures” to maintain order.[1] Most observers have noted that the “anarchobolshevik” Juan García Oliver was the central figure of the committee. Once again, as in the unsuccessful revolts of 1932 and 1933, the antipolitical, antistatist ideology of anarchosyndicalism turned out to be an abstraction.

With power in the hands of the libertarians, popular anticlericalism manifested itself spectacularly in the first weeks of the Revolution. The “masses” violently reinforced the separation of Church and state that had been achieved only tentatively with the advent of the Second Republic. The Church was often hated by the popular classes because of its identification with the traditionalist order and its unproductive and “parasitic” nature.[2] The efforts of a small group of sincere Christian democrats were not able to alter working-class militants’ perception of the Church as reactionary. During the 1930s in Spain many concluded that the Church was, in effect, allied with “fascism.” Anarchosyndicalist and other forces wanted to make certain that it would no longer act as a brake on the productive forces through its control of education or its influence on mores. Like many republicans, anarchists believed that “to secularize is to modernize.”[3]Solidaridad Obrera proclaimed, Down with the Church, and the CNT daily reported attacks on churches in working-class neighborhoods.[4] Nearly every church in Barcelona was set afire; in the so-called red terror almost half the victims were ecclesiastics. According to clerical sources, 277 priests and 425 monks were assassinated.[5]

The attacks, the deaths, and the defeat of the army revolt in Catalonia prompted the flight of the great majority of the bourgeoisie from Barcelona. One anarchosyndicalist source has estimated that 50 percent of the bourgeoisie fled, 40 percent were “eliminated from the social sphere,” and only 10 percent remained to continue work: “Bosses, managers, engineers, foremen, and so forth,” feeling endangered, left the city.[6] Thus many factory owners literally abandoned their firms, which, as working-class militants claimed, they had often neglected and underdeveloped. This surrender, with scarcely a struggle, had little precedent in Western Europe and revealed that the Barcelonan bourgeoisie had failed to build a broad social base of support and ultimately depended on police power for its control of the productive forces.

Unsure of future developments, some employers delayed their departure for several weeks or months after the pronunciamiento. An unknown number stayed in the city and worked in various capacities, presenting the unions with the problem of whether to admit them and their sons as members and how much to pay them.[7] Some militants favored their admission and integration into the revolutionary economy, whereas others viewed the former bosses as potential saboteurs and feared their ability to manipulate revolutionary legislation to their advantage. In fact, to avoid workers’ control, employers did form cooperatives; one year after the Revolution began, cooperatives had increased fivefold.[8]

As in many other social revolutions, the flight of the monied classes deprived many workers of their sources of income. Large numbers of domestics lost their jobs. With the approval of the Generalitat, bank accounts that had been either frozen or abandoned by employers were used to pay former servants (who sometimes inflated the amount of their back wages).[9] As other employers departed, were arrested, or became destitute in 1937, the numbers of unemployed servants grew. Joblessness affected other areas of the economy: for example, two hundred construction workers were obliged to seek other employment when their project, which had been funded with utility bonds, was forced to close.[10] Another firm, employing forty workers to make dresses for “high society,” lost the majority of its clients.[11] When firms were unable to pay workers, the latter—sometimes successfully—appealed to the Generalitat to put them on its payroll.

The flight of capital began well before the pronunciamiento, but was aggravated by the outbreak of the Revolution. In these first months, the Generalitat attempted to combat the problem by issuing decrees that prohibited hoarding of currencies and precious metals. Even small savers were tempted to hide their nest eggs or transfer them abroad. Throughout the war police charged hundreds with the offense of “evasion of capital.” Even though it declined during the course of the war as local and national governments reasserted their authority, tax evasion by both individuals and collectives remained significant. Funds that could have been used to develop the productive forces or modernize equipment were often smuggled out of Catalonia or hidden to be divided among a firm’s personnel.

Militants of the CNT, often in collaboration with members of the UGT, whose leaders followed the line of the PSUC (Communist), took charge of many abandoned factories. Some of these new managers had been shop stewards before the Revolution. Their dynamism contrasted sharply with the attitude of most of their colleagues, who preferred to stay at home in July 1936. They immediately reorganized many firms, especially those with over one hundred workers, into collectives; in each collective workers elected a factory council from both CNT and UGT militants to run the factory. Other workshops and firms, especially those that had fewer than fifty workers and whose owners had remained in Barcelona to work during the Revolution, were jointly managed by the owner and a control committee of CNT and UGT militants.

In the weeks that followed the defeat of the pronunciamiento in Barcelona, unions and political parties of the Catalan Left recognized the need to legalize and coordinate the various forms of workers’ control that had emerged after 19 July. On 14 August 1936 the Economic Council of Catalonia was created, and its members included Diego Abad de Santillán of the FAI, Juan P. Fábregas of the CNT, Estanislao Ruiz Ponseti of the PSUC, Andrés Nin of the POUM, and others from the UGT and the Esquerra. The CNT, FAI, and the dissident Communists of the POUM pushed for as much collectivization as possible and for severe limits on private property. On the other side, the Esquerra, UGT, and PSUC, which combined Catalan nationalism with allegiance to the Third International, wanted less collectivization and more protection for the small industrialists and shopkeepers who were numerous in Catalonia. Paradoxically, a large number of these petty bourgeois joined the UGT and the PSUC because they considered that the two Marxist organizations constituted a needed counterweight to the revolutionary and collectivist tendencies of the CNT and because the Esquerra, the most likely political party of Catalan nationalists and petty bourgeois, was considered too weak to defend their interests.

The Decree on Collectivization of 24 October 1936 was a compromise of the various unions and political parties that composed the Catalan Left, but the decree clearly revealed the dominance of the CNT:

After the nineteenth of July the fascist bourgeoisie deserted its posts.…The abandoned enterprises could not remain without direction, and the workers decided to intervene and to create Control Committees. The council of the Generalitat had to authorize and orient what the workers accomplished spontaneously.…

For the collectivization of the firms to be successful, their development and growth must be aided. To this end, the Economic Council…will financially aid the collectives and will group our industry in large concentrations that will assure maximum output.…

Former owners and managers who have technical and managerial capabilities…will serve the needs of the firm.

A factory council, named by workers in a general assembly, will be responsible for the management of the collectives.[12]

First, this decree implied that workers’ control was a necessity because a large part of the bourgeoisie had fled. Second, although it paid homage to the “spontaneity” of collectivization by the workers, the edict asserted that the collectives had to be channeled toward “maximum output,” “large concentrations,” “growth,” and “development.” Third, the decree urged cooperation with technicians and former employers and therefore encouraged a continuation of the organization of work and the division of labor that existed before the Revolution. Finally, the revolutionary content of the edict was its legalization of workers’ control. The workers themselves and their representatives would be responsible for managing the collectives.

If the decree was the outcome of a compromise among the various forces of the Catalan Left, its conception of collectivization and workers’ control largely reflected the preponderance of the libertarian movement that still held political, police, and, of course, economic powers in October 1936. Juan Fábregas, a CNT member who became president of the (Generalitat’s) Economic Council, was instrumental in attaining this “greatest legal achievement of the libertarian movement.”[13] Fábregas’s quick ascent to power revealed a great deal concerning the economic thought of the CNT. He had joined the Confederación immediately after the attempted coup of the generals. Before the Revolution, he had been linked to the Esquerra and had been the director of the Institute of Economic Sciences of Barcelona; nonetheless, he loyally served the CNT in the Economic Council and thus earned the enmity of the Communists and some Catalan nationalists. In December 1936 he was replaced on the council by another anarchosyndicalist whose thought we have examined, Diego Abad de Santillán. Fábregas’s similar economic vision disclosed key aspects of the Spanish Revolution. The economist called for the rational reconstruction of the Spanish economy under the supervision of the technocrats whose cooperation was “necessary to acquire, at whatever cost.”[14] Like Santillán, Fábregas advocated the formation of a network of councils that would orient production “under technical and scientific principles.”

Fábregas wanted easy credit to stimulate industry and to create what the Spanish economist called “national labor” (trabajo nacional), which would solve the problem of unemployment. The CNT economic advisor called for a “vast plan of public works,” including roads, canals, dams, and artificial lakes: “We must declare loudly…that work is not a punishment but a pleasure.…It is the glorious time of the exaltation of work. We will transform work into the maximum exponent of true wealth, into the unique sign of social prestige, making it the greatest source of pride for emancipated workers.”[15] During the Spanish Revolution, anarchosyndicalism was an ideology of labor; this tenet helps to explain why a former bourgeois economist such as Fábregas came to represent the CNT in positions of the greatest importance.

The CNT abandoned its antipolitical ideology not only to join the Generalitat but also to participate in the central government of the republic. In November 1936 four CNT leaders were named ministers in the government of Largo Caballero: Juan García Oliver, Minister of Justice; Juan Peiró, Industry; Federica Montseny, Health and Public Assistance; Juan López, Commerce. Libertarian participation in both the Generalitat and the central government ended shortly after the famous May Days of 1937 when CNT and FAI militants fought Communists and Republicans in the streets of Barcelona and other towns throughout Catalonia. This is not the place to describe in detail the political struggles and violent skirmishes between the libertarians and the Communists; they have been amply reported elsewhere. What is important for our purposes is the periodization, or the beginning and end, of workers’ control in Barcelona. As we have seen, immediately after the failure of the military uprising in Barcelona, the Confederación occupied the most important political, economic, and police posts in the city. While other forces—Communist and Catalan nationalist—reorganized and gained strength, the CNT, although retaining its arms, began gradually to lose its political and police powers in Barcelona. Many, if not most, historians have focused on the decline of the CNT’s political power and its withdrawal from both the Generalitat and the central government after May 1937; they have wedded the CNT’s loss of political power to a collapse of its economic power in the factories that its militants had collectivized or controlled. In other words, consonant with the political perspective of most historians—whether Communist or anti-Communist, pro-CNT or anti-CNT, Stalinist or Trotskyist—the periodization of the collectives has been subordinated to the CNT’s participation or nonparticipation in government.[16] The end of the CNT’s membership in both the central and Catalan governments, after the street fighting of May 1937, has therefore been identified with the successful counterrevolution against the Confederación’s economic power in the factories that it controlled.

The identification of political and economic periodizations has some, but only limited, value. When forces opposed to the CNT—whether Communist or Republican—controlled the government, they probably withheld the foreign currencies and financial assistance that CNT factories needed to procure raw materials and machinery. After the CNT withdrew from politics in May 1937, Communist strength increased and large attacks took place on collectives in certain regions, notably Aragon. Nevertheless, in Barcelona, which was the CNT’s strongest bastion as the CNT was undoubtedly its most important union, the Confederación’s economic control of industry did not collapse when its enemies gained political power. Even with Republican and Soviet aid, the Catalan Communists would have had difficulty in eliminating the Catalan CNT, which may have had as many as 1,000,000 members in April 1937. In contrast, the Catalan UGT reported 475,000 members in January 1937.[17]

After the initial defeat of the pronunciamiento, the Confederación never regained the offensive but, often with the participation of the UGT, retained control of many of the largest industries in Barcelona until just before the end of the war. The Generalitat did gain preponderance in several industries, but its legislation was ignored in many others. Numerous articles in the libertarian press attested to the CNT’s command of most collectives in Barcelona after May 1937. In November 1937 a CNT publication for the exclusive use of member unions stated that those who had attempted to destroy the Confederación had failed and that the CNT was successfully managing a great number of cooperatives and collectives and even cooperating with official economic organizations, including the Executive Commission of Agricultural Credit, Committee against Unemployment, Postal Savings Bank, and the Fuel Regulation Commission.[18] The anarchosyndicalists also continued to occupy seats on the Generalitat’s Economic Council, where they effectively opposed many Communist-inspired proposals. The CNT was able to remain influential in the key sector of the defense industries despite the Generalitat’s increasing financial and legal intervention during the first year of the Revolution. Until the end of 1937 the Confederación actively resisted the attempt by the central government, backed by the Communists, to take more than nominal control of the Catalan war industries, where—acording to the CNT’s own estimates—the union controlled 80 percent of the work force.[19]

During 1938, after the national government’s Subsecretaria de armamento assumed control of the defense sector, the CNT was still able to place its members in the factories. The Communist technician M. Schwartzmann has confirmed the Confederación’s tenacious hold on Barcelona industry after May 1937; in branches such as transportation and woodworking, CNT control was so monopolistic that in May 1938 the UGT complained of the persecution of its militants in these sectors.[20] In April 1938 militants advised the dissolution of the Commission on Behalf of Prisoners and a reduction of the number of the Confederación’s lawyers because the “CNT prisoners are few and soon all will leave jail.”[21] On 10 May 1938 the German anarchosyndicalist A. Souchy wrote in Solidaridad Obrera: “The base of economic life rests, in spite of everything and everybody, in the hands of workers’ organizations.”[22] As late as October 1938 Juan Comorera, a PSUC leader, admitted the existence of two economies in Spain, one largely private and the other dominated by the CNT.[23] A CNT militant insisted that despite the campaign against the collectives “the system of collectivization was deeply rooted in Catalan economic life…becoming the most solid base of our resistance in the domain of production.”[24] An anarchosyndicalist historian has called the preservation of CNT economic power a “miracle” produced by union “toughness,” which “stopped the government in its tracks.”[25]

Legislation often existed only on paper. In October 1937 Juan Fronjosá, a Communist and the secretary general of the UGT, declared that “three great sectors”—republicans, Marxists, and anarchosyndicalists—were leading the struggle against “fascism.”[26] The UGT leader went on to complain that although the Decree on Collectivization required that the Generalitat’s Economic Council name controllers, the collectives themselves were choosing them “in the great majority of cases.” He protested that the Economic Council intervened only to endorse the workers’ nominations. According to the union leader, this procedure resulted in an “intolerable farce” in which the controller was usually “only the plaything” of the collective and even acquiesced in its “illegal activities.” Fronjosá’s complaints cannot be dismissed as mere Communist propaganda since in the chemical industry, for example, the Generalitat’s controllers either refused or were unable to fulfill their duties during much of the Revolution.[27] As late as October 1937, the Generalitat’s plan for a bank devoted to industrial development, although authorized by the Decree on Collectivizations, had not been enacted.

The Confederación could retain control in many collectivized and controlled firms because it possessed a variety of sources of income and influence in the revolutionary economy. At least in the first months of the Revolution and probably considerably afterwards, unions were more likely to receive urban rents (if paid) than were either landlords or governmental organizations.[28] In addition, unions held a near monopoly on the labor market and collected dues from both the old and the many new members. Certain collectives also contributed to the unions’ treasury, which retained considerable revenues even though local and national governments gradually consolidated their powers of taxation as the war continued.

Some historians have tied the decline of the supposed revolutionary fervor among its members to the CNT’s loss of political and economic power and to the anarchosyndicalist leadership’s decision to collaborate with other parties and unions in the government: they consider that the CNT constituency became increasingly estranged from its leaders because of the leaders’ political cooperation with former adversaries.[29] In their view, the rank and file were especially concerned to put the Confederación’s Zaragoza program into practice. From July to October 1936, the “libertarian and collectivist economy” was able to “develop autogestion without obstacles.”[30] Thereafter, the historians argue, a “spontaneous” and “militant” base of members, devoted to democracy and workers’ control in the factory, was prevented from realizing its goals by an increasingly bureaucratic leadership. The proletariat’s willingness to sacrifice receded as military objectives took priority over the social revolution.[31]

Yet even in the first days of the Revolution, and despite a general 15 percent pay raise, workers may not have pursued autogestion with such eagerness and enthusiasm. Indeed, after 19 July, anarchosyndicalist newspapers and radio broadcasts continually called for workers both to return confiscated cars and return to work:

It is urgent that all [bus] workers belonging to the section justify their absence from work.

[We] notify those [Hispano-Olivetti workers] who are illegitimately absent that sanctions will be applied to whomever deserves them.[32]

In one large metallurgical factory, the return of blue-collar workers was “gradual” during the two weeks that followed 19 July.[33] On 15 August the Control Committee of public transportation demanded that all workers justify their absences with a medical certificate.[34] Five days later a committee member and a physician were assigned to inspect the ill in their homes. The worker-managed power company dispatched a physician to a worker’s house for the same purpose.[35] In transportation, dismissals for absences without permission were “common” in the first weeks of the conflict.[36] A POUM printer reported that his workmates had to “hunt down” their absent colleagues and convince them to continue to labor.[37]

According to one witness, the Generalitat’s decision to pay wages for days lost because of the Revolution “corrupted” the workers. This measure, which was supposed to last only several weeks, became permanent, and a number of factory councils continued to receive money even though their firms produced nothing. The author claimed that laziness and idleness were encouraged and that “some sectors of the working class” became complacent.[38] The Confederación considered the Generalitat’s decree establishing a forty-hour week “ruinous, suicidal, and counterrevolutionary”; the reduction of work hours and increase of wages amounted to a “serious mistake.”[39] One Catalan power station celebrated the arrival of the Revolution with extended feasting; during one month the workers in Camarasa “consumed 270 bottles of ‘Castell del Remei’ wine, 40 chickens, 20 geese, and other items.”[40]

Yet some did sacrifice to serve the cause. In the Casa Singer, which had a long tradition of CNT militancy, fifty of one hundred workers volunteered for fortification work with “great enthusiasm and revolutionary spirit.” An undetermined number of workers in the power industry asked to labor overtime for the war effort. Solidaridad Obrera reported “Sunday work volunteers.”[41] Revolutionary and patriotic beliefs motivated an unknown number to accept work.

Many others, though, displayed only a superficial commitment to the cause. In December 1936, eight hundred construction workers at Flix offered to dig trenches at the front. When their site was bombarded several months later, the workers deserted or fled.[42] The unions often had to threaten the conscripted to ensure that they would obey mobilization orders. In February 1937, UGT phone workers were certain that a number of comrades would not report for military training. Several months earlier fortification work had become “obligatory” for telephone workers.[43] The CNT-UGT managers of the power industry agreed to pay a month’s salary for each of their workers age eighteen to twenty who were in military training. They nevertheless stipulated that once the training was completed, the recruits must go to the front “without any excuse.”[44] Even Prime Minister Azaña noted that “to stimulate recruitment, each soldier received ten pesetas per day, which was five times more than the usual wages of Spanish troops.”[45]

When the Republican army had almost one million men, soldiers’ pay became an “exorbitant charge” for the governmental treasury. In November 1936 in a large Barcelona collective, not even one of the mostly UGT-affiliated workers was listed in the military; in July 1937, 16 of 280 were in the armed forces; in January l938, the total was 45 of 318.[46] By 1938 many recruits from Barcelona were discouraged, as one of their officers, a libertarian commissar, reported:

In this training camp there are 470 recruits; 85 percent belong to the CNT. Seventy percent are manual workers, 15 percent peasants, and 15 percent shop assistants…from the Barcelona region.…They come demoralized and without enthusiasm, constantly worried about their families whom they have left without means during this economic crisis.…Many are without shoes and complain about it.…They are aware of the economic favoritism shown to bureaucrats and police forces.…They always say, “If there have to be sacrifices, they should be equal for everyone.”

They object to insignificant things, for example, a late distribution of tobacco, a meal without wine, or hard bread.…They are really bothered by having to join the army to fight.[47]

Many workers tried to avoid military duty, and in 1938 it also became difficult to recruit officers from libertarian ranks.[48]

The declining military fortunes of the Second Republic certainly reinforced this lack of commitment, but it appeared almost immediately after the conflict began. At that time most Barcelonan workers belonged to no union; in July 1936 they flocked into the CNT and, to a lesser extent, the UGT. The social base of these two unions differed somewhat: the Confederación had more blue-collar members than the UGT, which tended to attract white-collar workers, technicians, and small businessmen. Although some manual laborers and blue-collar workers did enter the UGT, this minority union was generally more popular among workers who were literate and those who had technical training. It should be underlined that many workers joined the unions not for ideological reasons but because life in revolutionary Barcelona was quite difficult without a union card. To eat a meal in a collective kitchen, to acquire welfare aid, to find or keep a job, to attend a technical training center, to obtain housing, to be admitted to a clinic or hospital, to travel outside of Barcelona, and so forth, a union card was often desirable, if not necessary. Union membership and connections were ironically the only way opportunists could avoid military service, by being declared “indispensable” in the workplace.[49]

According to the CNT’s figures, it represented only 30 percent of the Catalan industrial workers in May 1936, down from 60 percent in 1931.[50] “Tens of thousands” of workers with little “class consciousness” joined the two unions in search of social protection and stable employment.[51] On 4 August 1936, for example, several weeks after the outbreak of revolution, a majority of members of the union of workers at dog races held a general assembly. One member reported that many of the affiliated believed they needed to join either the CNT or the UGT “in order to defend our interests.”[52] Another argued that the CNT offered “more guarantees for the workers since it controlled the majority of entertainment workers.” A certain Cuadrado insisted that the CNT had always defended the workers, but another objected that the Confederación might suspend the dog races. A participant addressed this fear by asserting that there was also an equal danger that the UGT would cancel the races. At the end of the discussion the assembly voted “unanimously” to join the CNT. “After discussions with managers of both unions,” workers who specialized in insulating and waterproofing materials also decided to join the CNT because the Confederación’s construction affiliate was more experienced in the workers’ speciality.[53] Other unions voted to adhere to the UGT for similar reasons. The president of a union representing market laborers suggested that “it was advantageous and useful” to join a national organization, and the majority agreed to enter the UGT.[54]

A CNT manager of the power company thought that “one of the principal errors of the unions was to force the workers to join one of them. We are not really sure about many of the huge number of new members, although it’s not worthwhile to discuss this outside of the union.”[55] In June 1937 H. Rüdiger, a representative in Barcelona of the revived First International, wrote that before the Revolution the CNT had only 150,000 to 175,000 members in Catalonia.[56] In the months following the outbreak of the war, Catalan CNT membership jumped to nearly 1,000,000, of which “four-fifths are, thus, new people. We cannot consider a large part of these people revolutionaries. You could take any union as an example of this. Many of these new members could be in the UGT.” Rüdiger concluded that the CNT could not be an “organic democracy.” In the rival union, the situation was little different: one UGT official asserted that the Catalan federation of the UGT had 30,000 members before 19 July and 350,000 to 400,000 afterwards; he recommended a new organization of the union since many affiliates lacked energy and experience.[57] A number of CNT unions discouraged the election of new members to posts of responsibility in the organization or in collectives unless they received unanimous approval. Therefore, this large influx of adherents to Catalan unions and political parties was not simply an indication of ideological conversion to anarchosyndicalism, socialism, or communism but an attempt by rank-and-file workers to survive as best they could in a revolutionary situation.

During the Revolution, many workers were reluctant to attend union meetings or, of course, to pay union dues.[58] One collective, Construcciones mecánicas, changed its plans to hold assemblies on Sundays since “no one would attend” and instead chose Thursdays.[59] In fact, activists often claimed that the only way to get workers to appear at assemblies was to hold them during working hours and therefore at the expense of production. Twenty-nine of seventy-four workers in a UGT-dominated clothing firm attended an assembly in October 1937.[60] In one large metallurgical concern, only 25 percent of the personnel participated actively in assemblies.[61] The most active workers were over thirty and had technical ability and at least five years’ seniority. Frequently, assemblies merely ratified decisions taken by smaller groups of militants or technicians. Some workers felt coerced and were reluctant to speak, let alone protest, during meetings. Even when the rank and file attended, they often arrived late and left early. In construction, the UGT Building Union warned that if delegates did not attend meetings and if members did not fulfill their duties, their union cards would be withdrawn. He meant, in effect, that they would be fired, a serious threat in an industry characterized by high unemployment, especially when joblessness in Barcelona was aggravated still further by an influx of refugees from other parts of Spain.

Even supposedly committed militants often missed meetings. Members holding positions of responsibility were warned.

The comrades of the Control Committees must consider themselves workers no different from others and are thus obligated to work. They are able to meet as much as they wish but always after working hours.…When a comrade—whoever he is and whatever position he holds—sabotages our labor, he will be immediately expelled from the workplace.[62]

UGT telephone personnel criticized working women, the majority of whom had joined the union after 19 July, as never having attended even one assembly. Female workers remained even more apolitical than their male colleagues, perhaps because of lesser interest in social promotion and little representation in the unions. Working women were burdened with both wage labor and domestic chores, such as Saturday shopping. Some activists unsuccessfully proposed fines for members of either sex who did not appear at meetings. Other militants threatened sanctions.[63]

Apathy and indifference contributed to the disintegration of workers’ democracy and the reappearance of a managerial elite during the Spanish Revolution. The new elite of union militants employed both old and new techniques of coercion to make workers labor harder and produce more. As will be seen, statist, medical, and unionist bureaucracies expanded in response to workers’ resistance. For example, early in the Revolution employees and security guards of the Barcelonan newspaper La Vanguardia met at a tavern to drink and gamble during working hours. To end such “irregularities,” local union officials—like the national authorities—proposed issuing “identity cards” and imposing rules against leaving the workplace. In another case, the UGT headquarters needed to send out inspectors to affiliated unions to collect dues because an average of only one-third of UGT members in Barcelona met their obligations.[64]

The managing class of union militants, who must be distinguished from mere union members, was largely responsible for the collectivization of the Barcelonan factories. Assisted by skilled workers and technicians, they controlled the daily functioning of the industries. The militants of both the CNT and the UGT were, of course, influenced by the economic thought of their respective organizations. The CNT demanded workers’ control, which the factory councils and the unions were to coordinate, whereas the UGT desired nationalization and governmental control. Nevertheless, despite these differences over the forms of decision making that the new order would adopt, that is, the choice between state or union control of production, the organizations were in basic agreement concerning industrial goals. Both advocated concentration of the many small factories and workshops that dotted the Barcelonan industrial landscape, standardization of the variety of industrial products and equipment, modernization of tools and capital goods, and establishment of an independent Spanish economy, free from foreign control. In brief, the unions wanted to rationalize the means of production in a Spanish national framework.

The tasks the unions wanted to perform were often ones the bourgeoisies of more advanced nations had completed. As we have seen, the Spanish and Catalan bourgeoisies had been unwilling or unable to rationalize, modernize, standardize, and free the economy from foreign control. The Spanish Revolution in Barcelona meant an attempt by working-class organizations to accomplish these goals. Collective control was instituted to develop industries that had stagnated under the regime of private property. In this respect, the Spanish Revolution resembled the Russian, where organizations claiming to represent the working class took over the privately owned productive forces from a bourgeoisie that had not developed a strong industrial economy. In Spain, as in the Soviet Union, the effort to rationalize the productive forces was accompanied by technocratic thought and methods propagated by Fábregas, Santillán, and other CNT and anarchosyndicalist thinkers. Like Soviet planners, the Spanish revolutionaries desired, at least in theory, to build enterprises on a large scale. They often employed the same methods, such as Taylorism, highly preferential treatment for managers and technicians, and strict control of rank-and-file workers. Certain CNT unions even copied the Stakhanovism of the Bolsheviks in order to promote production.

In another fundamental aspect, internationalism, the Spanish and Russian Revolutions exhibited important similarities. Although Marxist and anarchosyndicalist ideologies shared the cosmopolitanism of the First International and called for a worldwide revolution and solidarity with the proletariat of all nations, this theoretical internationalism conflicted with nationalist practice. Both revolutions attempted to free their industries from foreign capital and control and to develop the productive forces within the national framework. Despite its federalism, the ideology of the CNT called for a strong and economically independent Spain. Solidaridad Obrera declared in May 1937, Spain for the Spanish and Our Revolution must be Spanish. Its Madrid paper affirmed that libertarians were the true patriots since they defended the Spanish Revolution, which would “unleash our capacity for work and free Spain from its colony status.”[65] In May 1937 Juan López, the CNT Minister of Commerce in the Republican government, declared that he had “aspired to attain the economic unity of Spain.”[66] López attacked the “foreign invasion of Spain” and demanded “national independence.” According to the CNT daily, the Spanish Revolution would produce “an ethnic and psychological transformation that has been, for many years, in the heart and soul of the race (raza).” A CNT journalist proposed a plan of “national reconstruction”: “What is produced in Asturias does not belong to Asturias. What is made in a certain municipality does not belong to that municipality.…We must guarantee the consumption of everyone, the equal right of all to consume.”[67]

Juan Peiró, a Catalan himself, was hostile to Catalanist demands for regional economic control and instead desired a unified national economy. He sharply criticized the Generalitat and the Basque government for hindering and even sabotaging the national economy. In 1939 Peiró demanded a “national xenophobia,” which would inspire all classes to rebuild the Spanish economy.[68] After the war, the anarchosyndicalist leader asserted, Spain would pursue the “ideal” of economic self-sufficiency. Another CNT minister from Catalonia, Federica Montseny, who was the first woman ever to hold a ministerial post in Spain, believed that “we are the true nationalists. We are a people…who lead all nations.” A. Schapiro, a prominent official of the First International, sharply condemned the “panegyric of revolutionary nationalism” and warned his comrades against “chauvinism.”[69] During the Revolution other foreign anarchosyndicalists criticized the CNT’s nationalism and “chauvinism.”[70] Helmut Rüdiger, a German anarchosyndicalist, judged that the nationalism of the Confederación had greatly harmed the Spanish libertarian movement.[71] It should be noted that this nationalism was further exacerbated (but certainly not created) by the failure of Western democracies to aid the Spanish Republic and by anti-Stalinists’ fears that the one great power that did help—the Soviet Union—was interfering in Spain’s internal affairs.

The Spanish Revolution, like the Russian, also had its labor camps (campos de trabajo), initiated at the end of 1936 by Juan García Oliver, the CNT Minister of Justice in the central government of Largo Caballero. As we have noted, García Oliver was a very influential faísta and the most important figure in the Central Committee of Antifascist Militias, the de facto government of Catalonia in the first months of the Revolution. In no way could this promoter of Spanish labor camps be considered marginal to the Spanish Left in general and to Spanish anarchosyndicalism in particular. According to his supporters, García Oliver had established the principle of equal justice under law that the Spanish bourgeoisie had previously ignored. The work camps were considered an integral part of the “constructive work of the Spanish Revolution,” and many anarchosyndicalists took pride in the “progressive” character of the reforms by the CNT Minister of Justice. The CNT recruited guards for the “concentration camps,” as they were also called, from within its own ranks. Certain militants feared that the CNT’s resignation from the government after May 1937 might delay this “very important project” of labor camps.[72]

García Oliver’s reforming zeal extended to the penal code and the prison system. Torture was forbidden and replaced by work:

normal labor with weekly monetary bonuses and a day off per week when the prisoner’s conduct merits it. If this is not enough to motivate him, his good conduct will be measured by vouchers. Fifty-two of these vouchers will mean a year of good conduct and thus a year of liberty. These years can be added up…and thus a sentence of thirty years can be reduced to eight, nine, or ten years.[73]

The abolition of torture has usually accompanied the modernization of a prison system. Modern justice has been ashamed to use corporal punishment, and the modern prison has acted principally on the spirit of a prisoner, not the body. Anarchosyndicalists like García Oliver believed that a prisoner’s soul and values must be changed in ways that would benefit the productivist society of the future.

To a great degree, the labor camps were an extreme, but logical, expression of Spanish anarchosyndicalism. It was in the labor camps that the CNT’s “society of the producers” encountered Fábregas’s “exaltation of work.” Understandable resentment against a bourgeoisie, a clergy, and a military whom workers considered unproductive and parasitic crystallized into a demand to reform these groups through productive labor. Anarchosyndicalists endowed work with great moral value; the bourgeoisie, the military, and the clergy were immoral precisely because they did not produce. Thus penal reform meant forcing these classes to labor, to rid them of their sins through work. The Spanish Revolution was, in part, a crusade to convert, by force if necessary, both enemies and friends to the values of work and development.

The ministry of the faísta was proud of its “advanced” ideas and considered its camps more progressive than those in the Soviet Union.[74] García Oliver promised humanized detention, and CNT representatives investigated complaints of gross negligence, in the Lérida prison, for example.[75] Sometimes, however, the tone of the reformers shifted:

The weeds must be torn out by their roots. There cannot be and must not be pity for the enemies of the people, but…their rehabilitation through work and that is precisely what the new ministerial order creating “work camps” seeks. In Spain great irrigation canals, roads, and public works must be built immediately. The trains must be electrified, and all these things should be accomplished by those who conceive of work as a derisive activity or a crime, by those who have never worked.…The prisons and penitentiaries will be replaced by beehives of labor, and offenders against the people will have the chance to dignify themselves with tools in hand, and they will see that a pick and a shovel will be much more valuable in the future society than the placid, parasitic life of idleness that had no other aim than to perpetuate the irritating inequality of classes.[76]

According to a CNT historian, “delinquents, reactionaries, subversives, and suspects were judged by popular tribunals composed of CNT militants and, if found guilty, jailed or condemned to forced labor. Fascists, soldiers who looted, drunkards, criminals, and even syndicalists who abused their power were put behind bars or in work camps where they were forced to build roads.”[77] Inmates of the work camps reported that they also dug trenches and built railroads. One avid franquista lamented that “duchesses, marchionesses, countesses, wives and daughters of military officers” were forced to harvest grain.[78]

Most who were sent to prisons and work camps were convicted on political charges—which included violating public order, possessing arms, and engaging in fascist activities.[79] A much smaller number received sentences for robbery, murder, hoarding, and black marketeering. This last category increased markedly in 1938 when, for example, revenue guards arrested a mason with 2,200 pesetas or another individual carrying 179 eggs.[80] The number of prisoners in Catalonia multiplied fivefold during the war. In November 1936, 535 were in Catalan jails; in November 1938 the figure was 2,601. The greatest increase was of women inmates, whose numbers jumped from 18 in November 1936 to 535 two years later. Deserters from the Republican army (more numerous than those from the Nationalist army) filled their own camps, and their numbers increased dramatically in Catalonia during 1938.[81]

The art of the Revolution reflected its problems and expressed its values and morality. The clearest expression of this art were the posters of the Spanish Left—Communist, Socialist, and anarchosyndicalist. The major organizations gave considerable time and money to produce this propaganda even after paper and other resources became scarce and expensive. Many of the poster artists had been active in advertising before the war, and they worked not for one organization but for many. For example, an official of the Professional Designers’ Union made placards for the CNT, UGT, PSUC, and the Generalitat. His union even produced posters for the POUM, the dissident Communist organization. An ecumenical style emerged that, despite slight thematic differences, portrayed both the workers and the productive forces in nearly identical images. Even as anarchosyndicalists and Communists killed each other on the streets of Barcelona in May 1937, the aesthetic unity of the Popular Front persisted. Ideological disputes and power struggles did not prevent competing organizations from accepting similar representations of their supposed constituencies.

In these posters, which greatly resemble the style of Soviet socialist realism, workers were either working, fighting, or dying for the cause. These men and, just as important, women—for in the Spanish Revolution women and men were theoretically equal in war and work—always struggled heroically and untiringly for the victory of the Revolution or the Second Republic in farms, factories, and on battlefields. In fact, the sex of the subjects in many posters was nearly indeterminate, and what was important was neither the qualities nor the character of the individual portrayed but his or her function as soldier or worker. Spanish socialist realism expressed the progressive “masculinization of the iconography of the workers’ movement.”[82] One CNT sign, made to combat pessimism and defeatism, pictured two figures, a man and a woman, who looked alike. Both possessed huge forearms and biceps, broad shoulders, and very small heads, suggesting that it was physical, not mental, effort that was required of them. The figures were almost identical except that one had longer hair and inconspicuous breasts, the only hints of femininity in the image. One detail distinguished the other figure: rolled-up sleeves, an easily recognizable symbol of manual labor.

This art was solely concerned with the constructive or destructive capacity of its subjects who were simultaneously its objects. The artists deemphasized differences between soldier and producer, defense and civilian industries as much as between woman and man. One PSUC poster identified industries of war and peacetime. In the picture the long chimneys of the latter repeated the shape of the large cannons of the former. A famous CNT-FAI poster conveyed the same message. In the foreground a soldier firing his rifle complemented a worker in the background harvesting wheat with a sickle, itself a symbol of labor in socialist-realist iconography. The figures would have been indistinguishable except by their implements and positions. Vivid reds and blacks, the colors of the anarchist movement, strengthened the forms of the powerful workers. The caption read, Comrade, work and fight for the revolution. Artists never depicted the workers and soldiers of the posters as tired, hungry, or ill. The means of production—the factories, farms, and workshops—no matter how ugly, were idealized equally with the brave, strong, and virile men and women who lived and died for the cause. This portrait of the productive forces reflected the Left’s productivism and its desires for modernization. Both machines and humankind were heroic and larger than life.

Given the Marxist and anarchosyndicalist conception of the worker, it is hardly surprising that revolutionary art would stress her or his productive capacities. These ideologies, which glorified labor and the laborer, consequently portrayed the female and male wage earners as muscular and powerful beings capable of creating objects both for consumption and for the struggle. Thus the importance of the arm and particularly the hand, a symbol of homo faber and the focus of many compositions. Interpreting the posters helps us both to understand how Marxists and anarchosyndicalists literally imagined the working class and how revolutionaries responded to workers’ actual behavior during the civil war and Revolution. Spanish socialist realism attempted to persuade the workers to fight, work, and sacrifice more. It was propaganda that was always humorless and sometimes menacing.

The art of the Frente popular aimed to diminish workers’ resistance to work, which was, as we shall see, one of the most pressing problems for the entire Left. Barcelonan workers were known to miss work on holidays, particularly during the Christmas–New Year’s season. The PSUC responded to such absenteeism with a poster that pictured a soldier whose bayonet was slicing through Saturday on a calendar. The poster’s caption called for the end of fiestas and demanded that a new “war calendar” be imposed. Another picture demanded that May Day become, not a holiday, but a day of “intensification of production.”

Spanish militants sometimes equated excessive drinking and laziness with sabotage and even fascism. One CNT poster, which was made in Barcelona for the Departamento de orden público de Aragon, pictured a corpulent man smoking a cigarette and comfortably resting in what appeared to be the countryside. The colors of this piece were unlike those of most other posters; the figure was not red or black but yellow, reflecting the tones of sunny Spain. At the bottom was printed the caption, The lazy man is a fascist. Another CNT poster, made again for comrades in Aragon, displayed a man who was also smoking a cigarette, a symbol, one may speculate, of indifference and insolence since committed workers and soldiers were not shown smoking. This individual was surrounded by tall wine bottles, and the poster contained the caption, A drunk is a parasite. Let’s eliminate him. This was particularly tough talk during a period when threats of elimination did not always remain oral, and work camps for enemies and the apathetic were in operation. Both Marxists and anarchosyndicalists were hostile toward non-producers.

A number of posters addressed the problem of workers’ indifference. One showed a strong red figure who was digging the earth with a shovel and who asked laborers to join voluntary work brigades (many of which became obligatory during 1937). Another, from Madrid, requested disabled veterans to aid the fight by working in factories and thereby releasing as yet uninjured workers for combat. A third contained a very direct appeal: Worker, Work and We shall win; it showed a bare-chested red figure with a well-defined muscular torso, blacksmith or metalworker, underneath whom a row of soldiers was firing their weapons at the enemy.

The artists of the Revolution also developed a genre of posters for the literacy campaign. This theme reflected the poverty of Spanish education, the high rates of illiteracy among workers, and the Left’s need for trained workers and cadres. A modernist poster showed a soldier in red and black with several yellow books and contained the caption, Anarchist books are weapons against fascism. The theme of books as weapons, which blended nicely with the utilitarianism of the Left’s literacy campaign, echoed in another poster that showed a blindfolded soldier holding a large book. Underneath the fighter was inscribed, Illiteracy blinds the spirit. Soldier, learn! The relation of education to fighting paralleled that of work to fighting. There was a rapprochement, if not an identification, of the two activities. The literacy campaign posters, like those representing the means of production, were modernist. One striking promotion of the anarchosyndicalist publications Tierra y Libertad and Tiempos nuevos combined soldiers, rifles, factory chimneys, newspapers, and books in a sophisticated cubist composition.

Spanish socialist realism was not exempt from what Nikita Khrushchev once called “the cult of personality.” Massive representations of Marx, Lenin, and Stalin appeared in public places. The libertarians replied with photographs, sketches, and portraits of Durruti, whose image seems to have been as pervasive in the anarchosyndicalist press as that of Stalin was in Communist publications. On the anniversary of the death of the legendary anarchosyndicalist leader, who died on the Madrid front early in the war, CNT and FAI publications were filled with tens of articles and pictures of the fallen hero. Tierra y Libertad, the review of the faístas, even included a somewhat sentimental essay entitled, “Durruti: A Giant with a Heart of Gold,” even though before his death the libertarian martyr had advocated mobilizing the “infinity of loafers and libertines in the rear.”[83]

The anarchosyndicalists developed their own form of visual expression that differed little from the Marxist variety. This similarity reflected shared values—a glorification of labor, a respect for the development of the means of production, and the vision of the worker as producer. When workers in the collectives did not conform to this productivist conception, the CNT and the UGT alike responded by creating persuasive and coercive images that were designed to convince them to work harder. This art should be seen as reflecting the views of the militants, not working-class culture in its entirety. Indeed, it aimed to combat a deep current in the everyday life of Barcelonan wage earners—workers’ resistance to work and reluctance to fight. To estimate the posters’ effects on the behavior of Barcelona’s working class is unfortunately difficult, if not impossible: vandals or graffiti artists avant la lettre tore down or covered over many posters as soon as they appeared on the walls. As yet little evidence exists that the socialist realism of the Frente popular boosted production or increased combativeness.

The nature of the Spanish Revolution can only be partially discovered in the political categories of most historians. By concentrating on the political struggles among the CNT, PSUC, and other organizations and the consequent counterrevolution of May 1937, historians have distorted the periodization of workers’ control in Barcelona and have not fully explored the more fundamental question of the significance of the Revolution itself. Yet the art of the Revolution, its labor camps, and its vision of the future revealed its essence: the development and rationalization of the means of production of the nation. Everything else yielded to this central goal, and in the process workers’ democracy disappeared, if it had ever existed. The following chapters will examine how the union militants developed the productive forces in Barcelona and the problems that they encountered among the workers whom they claimed to represent.


1. José Peirats, La CNT en la revolución española (Paris, 1971), 1:160. Felix Morrow (Revolution and Counterrevolution in Spain [New York, 1974]) has remarked on the similarity between the Bolshevik program of 1917 and that of the Central Committee of Antifascist Militias. Unlike the Bolsheviks, however, the CNT and the FAI ended up sharing power with other political parties and unions. [BACK]

2. Tierra y Libertad, 10 September 1936. On the Church, see Frances Lannon, “The Church’s Crusade against the Republic,” in Revolution and War in Spain, 1931–1939, ed. Paul Preston (London, 1984); Enric Ucelay Da Cal, La Catalunya populista: Imatge, cultura i política en l’etapa republicana, 1931–1939 (Barcelona, 1982), p. 140; Mary Vincent, “The Spanish Church and the Frente Popular” (Paper presented at Popular Fronts Conference, University of Southampton, April 1986); Hilari Raguer i Suñer, La unió democràtica de Catalunya i el seu temps (1931–1939) (Montserrat, 1976). [BACK]

3. Pierre Vilar, La guerre d’Espagne, 1936–1939 (Paris, 1986), p. 24. [BACK]

4. Solidaridad Obrera, 23 July 1936; Gabriel Jackson, The Spanish Republic and the Civil War (Princeton, 1967), p. 289. [BACK]

5. Josep Massot i Muntaner, Aproximació a la història religiosa de la Catalunya contemporània (Barcelona, 1973), p. 128. See also Vilar, La guerre, p. 108; the author adds, “Il faut remonter à la révolution française pour trouver l’équivalent.” For a recent study, José M. Sánchez, The Spanish Civil War as a Religious Tragedy (Notre Dame, 1987), p. 8. [BACK]

6. Agustin Souchy and Paul Folgare, Colectivizaciones: La obra constructiva de la revolución española (Barcelona, 1977), p. 75; Direction des affaires politiques et commerciales, 3 November 1936, 244, AD. [BACK]

7. Junta, 16 January 1937, 1204, AS; Caldereros en cobre, 9 September 1936, 1428, AS; Junta de secciones, 24 September 1936, 1446, AS. [BACK]

8. Antoni Castells i Durán, “La colectivización-socialización de la industria y los servicios en Barcelona ciudad y provincia” (Manuscript, Barcelona, Centre d’estudis històrics internacionals, 1986), p. 131. [BACK]

9. See files in Generalitat 240, AS. [BACK]

10. Comité, 26 November 1936, 182, AS. [BACK]

11. Although this firm depended on the contracts awarded by the CNT, the personnel opposed collectivization (Informe, contables UGT-CNT, 5 March 1938, 1219, AS). [BACK]

12. For the text in Catalan, see Albert Pérez Baró, 30 meses de colectivismo en Cataluña (1936–1939) (Barcelona, 1974), pp. 193–200; for a contested Spanish version, Souchy and Folgare, Colectivizaciones, pp. 36–38. [BACK]

13. César M. Lorenzo, Los anarquistas españoles y el poder, 1869–1969 (Paris, 1972), p. 103. [BACK]

14. Juan P. Fábregas, Les finances de la revolució (Barcelona, 1937), p. 87. [BACK]

15. Juan P. Fábregas, Los factores económicos de la revolución española (Barcelona, 1937). [BACK]

16. See Noam Chomsky, American Power and the New Mandarins (New York, 1969), pp. 72–158; Burnett Bolloten, The Spanish Revolution, the Left, and the Struggle for Power during the Civil War (Chapel Hill, 1979); John Brademas, Anarcosindicalismo y revolución en España (1930–1937), trans. Joaquín Romero Maura (Barcelona, 1974); Carlos Semprún-Maura, Revolución y contrarrevolución en Cataluña, 1936–1937, trans. Julia Escobar (Barcelona, 1974); James W. Cortada, ed., A City in War: American Views on Barcelona and the Spanish Civil War, 1936–1939 (Wilmington, Del., 1985). [BACK]

17. Lorenzo, Los anarquistas españoles, p. 223; Butlettí interior de la Unió general de treballadors, January 1937. These figures, especially those of the UGT, must be used with caution. [BACK]

18. Boletín del Comité nacional de la CNT para exclusivo uso de los sindicatos, 1 November 1937; Lorenzo, Los anarquistas españoles, p. 225. On the Generalitat’s formal control, see José Arias Velasco, La hacienda de la Generalidad, 1931–1938 (Barcelona, 1977), p. 211. [BACK]

19. De Companys a Indalecio Prieto: Documentación sobre las industrias de guerra en Cataluña (Buenos Aires, 1939), pp. 77–91. The defense sector was obviously a bastion of power for whichever organization controlled it, and its workers had privileged access to food supplies. [BACK]

20. L’industrie de guerre de la république espagnole, box 54, Burnett Bolloten Collection, Hoover Institution; UGT sindicato de madera, 6 May 1938, 1411, AS. [BACK]

21. Informe al comité ejecutivo, 23 April 1938, 1084, AS. [BACK]

22. Solidaridad Obrera, 10 May 1938. [BACK]

23. Ramón Tamames, La república, la era de Franco (Madrid, 1980), p. 310. [BACK]

24. Solidaridad Obrera, 11 November 1938. [BACK]

25. Peirats, La CNT, 2:173. [BACK]

26. Joan Fronjosà, La missió dels treballadors i la dels sindicats en la nova organització industrial (Barcelona, 1937), p. 5. [BACK]

27. Actes de reunió del consell general de la indústria química, Generalitat 252, AS. [BACK]

28. The Generalitat had decreed a 50 percent reduction in rents and wanted to restrict union control of urban property (Josep Tarradellas, L’obra financera de la Generalitat de Catalunya [Barcelona, 1938], pp. 42–44). [BACK]

29. Walter Tauber, “Les tramways de Barcelone collectivisés pendant la révolution espagnole, 1936–1939,” Bulletin d’information, Fondation internationale d’études historiques et sociales (March, 1977): 14. [BACK]

30. Castells, “Colectivización,” p. 74. [BACK]

31. Walther L. Bernecker, Anarchismus und Bürgerkrieg: Zur Geschichte der Soziale Revolution im Spanien, 1936–1939 (Hamburg, 1978), pp. 234, 245, 254; Walther L. Bernecker, Colectividades y revolución social: El anarquismo en la guerra española, 1936–1939, trans. Gustau Muñoz (Barcelona, 1982), p. 76. [BACK]

32. Solidaridad Obrera, 26, 27, 28 July 1936; Tauber, “Tramways,” p. 25. [BACK]

33. Anna Monjo and Carme Vega, Els treballadors i la guerra civil (Barcelona, 1986), p. 44. [BACK]

34. Tauber, “Tramways,” p. 39. [BACK]

35. Comité central de gas i electricitat, 19 August 1936, 182, AS. [BACK]

36. Tauber, “Tramways,” p. 38. [BACK]

37. Adolfo Bueso, Recuerdos de un cenetista (Barcelona, 1978), 2:162. [BACK]

38. Pérez Baró, 30 meses, p. 46. [BACK]

39. Quoted in Bernecker, Colectividades, p. 315; Solidaridad Obrera, 2 June 1937. [BACK]

40. Comité, 12 November 1936, 182, AS. [BACK]

41. Al Sindicato, 18 February 1937, 1446, AS; Comité, 4 January 1937, 182, AS; Solidaridad Obrera, 15 May 1937. [BACK]

42. Comité, 2 and 16 March 1937, 181, AS. [BACK]

43. Reunión de junta, 23 February 1204, AS; Acta de asamblea, 21 February 1937, 469, AS; Reunión, organización telefónica, 1170, AS. [BACK]

44. Comité, 16 March 1937, 181, AS. [BACK]

45. Manuel Azaña, Obras completas (Mexico City, 1967), 3:488. [BACK]

46. United Shoe, Generalitat 252, AS. [BACK]

47. Informe, 22 June 1938, 9, Leg. 18, AS. [BACK]

48. Monjo and Vega, Els treballadors, p. 156; Al Sindicato, 29 January 1938, 9, Leg. 18, AS. See also the concluding remarks of Michael Alpert, El ejército republicano en la guerra civil (Paris, 1977), pp. 299–335. [BACK]

49. Letters from militants in 933 and other carpetas, AS; on the legitimacy of “indispensable” status in a metallurgical factory, see Trefilerías (n.d.), 887, AS. [BACK]

50. Alberto Balcells, Crisis económica y agitación social en Cataluña de 1930 a 1936 (Barcelona, 1971), p. 198. [BACK]

51. Pérez Baró, 30 meses, p. 47. [BACK]

52. The following information is from Actas de sindicato de trabajadores de canódromos, 861, AS. [BACK]

53. 18 October 1936, 1322, AS. [BACK]

54. Societat de moços, 20 September 1936, 1170, AS. [BACK]

55. Comité, 17 October 1938, 182, AS. [BACK]

56. H. Rüdiger, “Materiales para la discusión sobre la situación española en el pleno de la AIT,” 8 May 1937, Rudolf Rocker Archives, 527–30, IISH. [BACK]

57. Acta de asamblea (n.d.), 469, AS. [BACK]

58. CNT Marítima, 7 August 1937; Boletín del Sindicato de la industria de la edificación, madera y decoración, 10 October 1937; Sidero-Metalurgia, September 1937. [BACK]

59. Acta de asamblea ordinaria, 4 December 1936, PC. [BACK]

60. See report, 1219, AS. [BACK]

61. Monjo and Vega, Els treballadors, pp. 91–92; Anna Monjo and Carme Vega, “Les col.lectivitzacions industrials a Barcelona durant la guerra civil,” L’Avenç, no. 70 (April 1984): 37. [BACK]

62. Asamblea general extraordinaria, sindicato de artes gráficas CNT, 18 October 1936, 1204, AS. At the same meeting a motion was presented to require members to purchase the union’s journal so it “would be successful”; the motion failed, perhaps because the union press lacked support among the rank and file. [BACK]

63. Acta, 21 February 1937, 469, AS; Acta, 22 August 1937, 1404, AS. [BACK]

64. Reunión de junta, 2 October 1936, 1204, AS; Comité ejecutivo, 10 December 1937, 501, AS. [BACK]

65. See J. García Pradas, Antifascismo proletario: Tesis, ambiente, táctica (Madrid, 1938?), 1:24. [BACK]

66. Juan López, Seis meses en el ministerio de comercio: Conferencia pronunciada el 27 mayo 1937 (Valencia, 1937), p. 14; Jordi Sabater, Anarquisme i catalanisme: La CNT i el fet nacional català durant la guerra civil (Barcelona, 1986), p. 55. [BACK]

67. M. Cardona Rossell, Aspectos económicos de nuestra revolución (Barcelona, 1937), p. 13. [BACK]

68. Juan Peiró, Problemas y cintarazos (Rennes, 1946), pp. 124–25, 53; Sabater, Anarquisme, pp. 55, 63. [BACK]

69. A. Schapiro, “National-Anarchisme,” Le Combat syndicaliste, 11 June 1937, Rudolf Rocker Archives, 566, IISH. [BACK]

70. See CNT/AIT circulars, “Nacional-Anarquismo,” in ibid. The CNT was not exempt from a xenophobia that occasionally degenerated into a rather familiar antisemitism. Solidaridad Obrera, 31 January 1937, accused Franco of looking like a Jew and criticized “Jewish plutocrats” and financiers of working with Hitler. In May 1938 when Ben-Krimo, a Sephardic Jew, asked the CNT to aid persecuted Jews, he received a very cold response from Mariano Vázquez, the secretary of the national committee. Vázquez refused to open Spain’s doors “to all the Jews who wish to come here. It is impossible because it would undoubtedly be one of the most counterrevolutionary decisions that we could take. We are sure that [admission of the Jews] would mean the immediate revival and strengthening of capitalism and the old exploitation” (See the exchange of letters in 811, AS). [BACK]

71. Helmut Rüdiger, El anarcosindicalismo en la revolución española (Barcelona, 1938), p. 7. [BACK]

72. CNT Marítima, 11 September 1937. [BACK]

73. Solidaridad Obrera, 15 September 1937. [BACK]

74. Ibid., 14 September 1937. [BACK]

75. Comité de serveis correccionals, 14 January 1937, Generalitat, leg. 25, AS. [BACK]

76. Solidaridad Obrera, 31 December 1936. [BACK]

77. Lorenzo, Los anarquistas españoles, p. 124. [BACK]

78. Luis López de Medrano, 986 días en el infierno (Madrid, 1939), pp. 178–84. This author’s opinion cannot always be taken at face value; at one point in his tirade against the Popular Front, he claims that Guernica was destroyed by “Red Basque separatists allied with criminals of the CNT.” [BACK]

79. Motiu, 24–30 July 1937, Generalitat 69, AS. [BACK]

80. Files in 352, AS; the following statistics are from Estances dels reclosos, Generalitat 88, AS. See also A los compañeros, 26 January 1938, 1446, AS. [BACK]

81. See files in 615, AS. [BACK]

82. Eric Hobsbawm, Workers: Worlds of Labor (New York, 1984), p. 87. See also Carmen Grimau, El cartel republicano en la guerra civil (Madrid, 1979), p. 208, for images of women. [BACK]

83. Tierra y Libertad, 20 November 1937; Henri Paechter, Espagne, 1936–1937 (Paris, 1986), p. 110. [BACK]

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