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By Bertram D. Wolfe 

With an introduction by 


131 West 33rd Street 
New York City 


TAKEN as a whole, the Spanish revolution of recent 
years undoubtedly marks a high point in the 
social development of post-war Europe. In Spain, for 
the first time since the days of Soviets in Germany and 
Hungary, the power of the worker and peasant masses 
proved great enough to overthrow the rotting structure 
of the old regime and even to challenge the as yet un- 
stabilized power of "democratic" capitalism. 

For the first time in many years, the slogan of proletarian 
revolution has appeared on the order of the day in a 
West European country. Whatever the outcome may be 
in Spain, at least this imperishable glory cannot be 
stolen from the Spanish proletariat — that it has dared 
to lift to the skies the same red banner that was borne to 
victory by the Russian Bolsheviks in November 1917! 

Today, the Spanish revolution is being stifled by the 
"democratic" reaction at home and abroad, clearing the 
way for Franco, Mussolini and Hitler. The underlying 
social aims of the fascist insurrection — the preservation 
of capitalism and the strangulation of the labor move.? 
men t — are now being actively promoted by the imperial- 
ist diplomacy of the "great democracies," England and 
France, and the counter-revolutionary terror of the 
"democratic" coalition of Stalinites, right-wing Prieto 
socialists and conservative Republican politicians. In the 
interests of this reactionary crusade, everything is being 
sacrificed, even the chances of victory at the front in the 
war against Franco. 

But that is only one side of the picture. The other side 
shows us the great masses of the Spanish workers and 
peasants beginning to awaken to the extreme peril of 
their situation; it shows us an increasingly revolutionary 
mood among the millions of members of the G.N.T. and 



the U.G.T., the two great labor federations; it shows 
us the significant -advances-being made, in tHe~face of 
ruthless persecution, by the P.O.U.M., the heroic revolu- 
tionary Marxist party in Spain. It shows us the Spa nish 
masses rising still unconquered under the blows of fascist 

and "democratic" reaction alike: — ~~ — " 

This is the story that Bertram D. Wolfe tells in such 
brilliant fashion in the pages that follow. These chapters 
were written intermittently over a period of seven months 
as articles for the Workers Age. Yet so keen is the insight 
exhibited in them and so realistic the approach, that the 
work is of far more than current interest; it is really a 
fundamental contribution to the understanding of the 
Spanish revolution and its many complex problems. It is 
living Marxism at its best. 

Of such a work, Bertram D. Wolfe is peculiarly fitted 
to be the author. His wide studies in economics, his- 
tory and social theory, his two decades of direct ex- 
perience in the revolutionary labor movement at home 
and abroad, are supplemented by an extensive knowledge 
of Spanish history and political development and a sym- 
pathetic appreciation of Spanish culture and tradition. 

The last thesis of the martyred P.O.U.M. leader, 
Andres Nin, which forms a supplement to this work, 
needs no recommendation. It has already become a classic 
of revolutionary theory and policy. 

December 22, 1937. 




Chapter I 
Chapter II 

Chapter HI 
Chapter IV 
Chapter V 
Chapter VI 

Chapter VII 

Chapter VIII 

Chapter IX 














by Andres Nin 
Political Thesis prepared for the 
convention of the P.O.U.M., shortly 
before its suppression and the mur- 
der of Nin. 




The Revolution of 1931. 

ALMOST anything may happen in Spain. With 
the "great democracies," England, France, 
the United States, treacherously choking off her 
sources of supplies and intriguing for a "truce," 
with the Soviet Union backing her materially but 
using the authority thus acquired in ways that 
hinder the waging of a successful revolutionary 
war, with Italy and Germany openly invading her 
soil and joining England and France in "preven- 
ting foreign intervention," — almost anything may 
happen in Spain. 

Out of the Spanish civil war may come a tem- 
porary victory of fascism and a military dictator- 
ship, though two months in Spain have convinced 
me that the fascists can never permanently hold 
the land. There may come a truce in which 
foreign and domestic rifles rule with or without 
a torn and treason-soiled "democratic" flag flying 
from their bayonet points. But that cannot be per- 
manent either, for it is impossible to keep a per- 
manent army of occupation in Spain of sufficient 
size to maintain such a regime indefinitely. There 
may come a partition of Spain into German, 
Italian, French and English spheres of influence, 
to be followed inevitably by a fresh flare-up of 
revolutionary war of independence, unification and 
socialism. Or there may be a victory of the prole- 


tarian revolution in Spain insuring the triumphant 
waging of a revolutionary war against military 
dictatorship and foreign invasion and the retaking 
of the entire Iberian peninsula. In short, almost 
anything may happen in Spain— anything, that is, 
except the establishment of a bourgeois, democratic, 
parliamentary republic. That alone is excluded by 
the very nature of the social forces, internal and 
international, clashing in the Spanish civil war. 

Prerequisites for a Parliamentary Republic 

Parliamentary republics cannot be pulled like 
rabbits out of a hat nor conjured onto the stage of 
history by the incantations of a Comintern thesis. 
They require a powerful progressive and revolu- 
tionary bourgeoisie, strong enough to dominate all 
other classes, Jacobin enough to exterminate 
feudalism by its roots, revolutionary enough to 
employ dictatorship and terror against reaction; 
they require a bourgeoisie confident of the gran- 
deur of its own destiny, strong in prestige among 
other classes, unafraid of its proletariat so that it 
cannot think of surrendering to reaction. Nascent 
parliamentary republics require a proletariat so 
weak and immature that it does not even con- 
ceive of itself as a separate class nor dream of 
ruling in its own name, a proletariat whose revolu- 
tionary horizon does not extend beyond the vision 
of forcing the bourgeoisie to follow to the end its 
revolutionary role. 

Such a situation has in general not existed in 
Europe since 1848. The "great future" of the 


bourgeoisie today lies wholly in the past. No abra- 
cadabra of "People's Front" spells can possibly 
redissolve the proletariat into the vague conglo- 
merate of the undifferentiated "people," the third 
estate. The bourgeoisie has long ago become more 
afraid of its mighty offspring than of its aging and 
tyrannical parent. On a world scale, it has long 
ago become a reactionary class, proceeding now 
with concealment, corruption and democracy, and 
now with naked force, to destroy the progressive 
institutions which in the days of its vigorous youth 
it conceived and created. 

Today, as backward Russia proved in 1905 and 
1917, as advanced Germany proved in 1918, as 
Spain is proving to those who are not wilfully 
blind or under instructions not to see, a new bour- 
geoisie can consolidate its rule only by vile part- 
nership with feudal reaction or by naked fascist 
force, and only after it has crushed its proletariat 
in fire and blood. And today, as Lenin so con- 
clusively demonstrated, only the proletariat in 
power and supported by the peasantry can root 
out feudalism in any land where it still exists, and 
only by transforming in its own image the "bour- 
geois democratic" revolution into the proletarian 

No spell nor incantation can make the mighty 
ghosts of the past tread again the boards of his- 
tory. Paderewski and Pilsudski, Noske and Hin- 
denburg, Azana and Negrin, are no Robespierres 
and Marats. Invocations of 1776 and 1789 will 
not alter the social content of 1937. The social 
revolution of the twentieth century cannot draw 



its poetry from the past; it can draw that poetry 
only from the future. The hope of mankind in an 
hour of great desperation lies in the kindling of 
the revolutionary spirit of the proletariat, not in 
the dimming of the stage lights and the trotting 
out of the phosphorescent bones of the moldering 
ghost of bourgeois revolution whose little hour 
upon the stage has passed forever. 

Laying the Specter of Revolution 

The Spanish capitalist class is feeble, rachitic, 
cowardly and treacherous. It is the weakest social 
class in Spain. It has shown sporadic strength only 
against the proletariat, and then only when backed 
by a military apparatus it itself was powerless to 
create and impotent to destroy. For years it gave 
little shadow pushes against the tottering throne 
of Alfonso, but hastened to give substantial sup- 
port whenever the throne's teetering seemed too 
violent. At last the "Republican Revolution" of 
April 14, 1931 took it completely by surprise. 

"The fourteenth in the morning," wrote one of 
its leaders, "when we saw that the people had 
taken the streets, there was no way out (no tuvimos 
mas remedio) but to go to the City Hall and Par- 
liament Building and raise the Republican 

Such is the Spanish bourgeoisie's 1789! Marx's 
formula, "Once in tragedy, the second time in 
farce," is too strong for such a situation: even 
farce requires an energy beyond their feeble 



Faced with the flight of the monarch and the 
embarrassing parenthood of an unwished-for infant 
republic, the one desire of these twentieth century 
"Jacobins" was to stop the revolution before it had 
really gotten started. They protected the flight of 
the king. They protected the landowners against 
the peasants and themselves against the prole- 
tariat. They left the monarchist bureaucratic ap- 
paratus undisturbed: They stopped the fleeing 
feudal-monarchical generals whose hands were red 
with the blood of so many repressions, but not to 
put them on trial for their crimes. Instead, they 
restored them to their places as masters of the ap- 
paratus of force which is the real determinant of 
the class nature of political power. To the masses 
whose f|illiver-like stirrings in their sleep had 
snapped the packthreads of monarchy and ter- 
rified these pigmy politicians, they proclaimed, be- 
fore the real revolution had even begun: "The 
revolution is over: as you were!" 

Building the New Order 

Even the symbols of monarchy remained intact. 
For months I continued to receive my mail from 
Spain bearing postage stamps still adorned with 
the ugly physiognomy of Alfonso XIII across 
which had been stamped the words "Republica 
Espanola." After all, they had been printed and 
had to be used up : this petty bourgeois revolution 
was nothing if not economical. At last, the day 
came when the supply of Alphonsine faces was 
exhausted and my mail arrived bearing a new 



stamp. I scanned it anxiously with the aid of a 
magnifying glass. In discreet and tiny letters it bore 
the revolutionary motto: "Fomentar el arbor" 
(Plant a tree) ! 

The bourgeoisie was in a cold sweat at the 
specter of revolution. Its panic took a parliamen- 
tary and constitutional form. The initiative must 
at all costs be taken out of the street and the 
field and into the legislative hall. The masses must 
be lulled into slumber once more by the twilight 
twitterings of this strange birdcage of parliament- 
ary "people's representatives." At the same time, 
Sanjurjo and Goded, Franco and Mola and 
Quiepo de Llano were dragged still trembling out 
of the limbo of history by the new Republican 
War Minister Manuel Azana, and restored to their 
places of power. If oratory would not suffice to lull 
the masses back to sleep, then the guns would have 
their say. The oratory provided the trimmings, 
the guns provided the reality of the young par- 
liamentary republic. 

"To make a written constitution," wrote Las- 
salle, "is the easiest thing in the world; it can be 
done in three days. It is the last thing that should 
be done. If it is produced prematurely before the 
Revolution has changed the foundations of the 
old order, it is false." 

The new republican constitution was produced 
in Spain immediately. It was patched up out of the 
dying Weimar Constitution and the Mexican Con- 
stitution that had never come to life. To these 
elements were added lyrical trimmings that only 



Spanish intellectuals turned statesmen were cap- 
able of providing. 

"One night," writes Maurin, "Alcala Zamora 
believed he could leave the Chamber for a mo- 
ment, leaving Socialists and Republicans to them- 
selves. But just then, Araquistain, Socialist deputy, 
driven by the devil of mischief, got the idea of 
proposing an amendment to Article I of the Con- 
stitution, to make it read that 'Spain is a Workers' 
Republic.' The Chamber was almost deserted. The 
previous question was called and the motion got 
a majority. 

"Next morning, when Alcala Zamora learned 
what had happened, he rebuked the bad boys of 
the preceding evening and, with general approval, 
sent Article I to the repair shop." 

It came out reading: 

"Spain is a Republic of the Workers of All 

But before the constitution was completed and 
in operation, a clause was added providing for its 
own suspension. It was the only clause in the Con- 
stitution that was ever carried out in life. It was 
applied not against the monarchist generals, but 
with the aid of the monarchist generals against 
the proletariat and peasantry who had made the 
revolution. It is a measure of the "republicanism" 
of the Spanish bourgeoisie and their republican 
politicians, and of the depth of the bourgeois re- 
publican revolution. 


How Azana Prepared the Rebellion 

MANUEL AZANA is today the People's Front 
President of Spain, During the first days of 
the Spanish Republic he was its War Minister: 
in fact he assumed that post on the very day of 
the Republic's birth, April 14, 1931, His conduct 
in that key post teaches the Spanish masses what 
they can expect from the Republican leaders of 
the People's Front. 

In periods of sharp class struggle and social 
revolution, the armed forces become openly the 
key to political power. They are the ultimate basis 
on which rests the rule of any dominant class; 
hence every revolution in history has found its 
ultimate decision in the reorganizing of the armed 
forces: in the disarming of the reactionary class 
and the arming of the revolutionaries. Cromwell's 
Ironsides, France's National Guard, Ireland's Re- 
publican Army, America's Minute Men and Con- 
tinental Army, Russia's Red Guard and Red Army, 
are all evidences of this truism. 

But the Spanish Republican bourgeoisie is far 
more afraid of the proletariat than it is of the 
landowners. More than it fears feudalism, clerical- 
ism and monarchism, it fears socialism; more than 
the armed reaction, the armed masses. It is a 
coward class afraid of its own destiny. Therefore 



it dared not overthrow Primo de Rivera, dared 
not overthrow Alfonso. When at last the masses 
took things into their own hands, drove out dic- 
tator and monarch, and handed the power to the 
trembling "Republicans," the latter, with Azana 
at their head, made no move to disarm the feudal- 
monarchist military apparatus. Rather did they 
seek to "restore discipline," keep the military ma- 
chine intact, render it more "efficient." 

The Spanish Army 

The war machine that Azafia took over was 
one of the worst and most reactionary in Europe. 
It had three times as many officers as the mighty 
French military mechanism! They had been re- 
cruited by the monarchy from the sons of the 
feudal landowning families. They were monarch, 
ists to their manicured finger tips. They had se- 
cured advancement by court intrigue and military 
coups and replenished their purses by notorious 
graft and corruption. The army had been for 
decades a magnificent tax-eating machine, utterly 
incompetent for national defense or imperialist 
aggression, with a long and inglorious record of 
defeats in Cuba, the Philippines and Morocco. 
It was skilled only in military pronunciamientos 
(the very word has passed into international 
speech) and in fire at close range upon Spanish 
peasants and workers. In this it was supplemented 
by the hated Civil Guard with a record of half a 
century of petty and brutal tyranny, and the 
frontier and treasury guards known as the cara- 
bineros. Azana increased the army from 105,000 



men to 130,000, the Civil Guard and police force 
from 32,000 to 64,000; and the carabineros have 
recently been increased under Negrin (as head of 
the Treasury) from 4,000 to 40,000. To these, the 
Republic added an entirely new military forma- 
tion, the Assault Guards, who were supposed to 
be pledged to loyalty to the Republic. Naturally, 
nothing was said about loyalty to the workers and 

Azana's Military Reforms 

The republican War Minister did try to reduce 
the excessive number of officers. Naturally, he did 
not propose to use "revolutionary" means like the 
dismissal of monarchist generals and the appoint- 
ment of republicans, nor the court-martial of those 
whose hands were stained with the blood of Span- 
ish workers and peasants and republican revolu- 
tionaries. That would be too much like "confisca- 
tion without compensation," and these bourgeois 
republicans had a deep-going sympathy with the 
protection of all vested interests against "lawless 
expropriation." To induce a few generals to re- 
sign, Azana offered them retirement with full pay, 
free passage on the railroads, preference in govern- 
ment and professional employment. Only a few 
officers took advantage of the offer, and they were 
the best of them, men who hated the corrupt atmo- 
sphere of army life or whose lives were made mis- 
erable by their reactionary fellow officers because 
they dared to sympathize with the Republic! But 
the hard-boiled reactionaries, the adepts of con- 


spiracy and pronunciamiento, the realists who rec- 
cognized that the army was the key to political 
power and to the maintenance of the privileges of 
their class, remained at their posts and began to 
plot for military dictatorship, monarchist restora- 
tion and counter-revolution. 

The Case of General Mola 

General Emilio Mola had been one of the most 
hated of the monarchist generals. When Primo de 
Rivera fell and the throne itself was shaking, mil- 
itary-dictator Berenguer had appointed him as Di- 
rector of Public Safety in Madrid, rightly judging 
him to be a ruthless defender of the status quo 
against the aroused people. His bloody rule made 
him more hated even than Alfonso and when the 
King fled, the people went up and down the streets 
of Madrid shouting: "Abajo Mola" (Down with 
Mola) ! He himself thought that his days were 
numbered. "I left police headquarters," he writes 
in his memoirs, "by a service stairway, alone, as 
a private citizen, and grabbing the first taxi that 
I found on the street, I went to hide myself in the 
house of a friend." But Azana took him, trembling, 
out of his hiding place and restored the "butcher 
of the Battle of San Carlos" (where a few days 
earlier his troops had fired on and killed a number 
of demonstrating students) to his post as a general 
in the army. Recognizing this as carte blanche to 
continue his political activities, he immediately be- 
gan to conspire with his fellow generals against the 
Republic. When Gil Robles became War Minister 



in 1934, General Mola was sent to Morocco where 
he completed his plans for the mutiny of the For- 
eign Legion. When Azana became President in 
February 1936, he was removed from Morocco 
and sent to that center of feudal reaction, Navarre, 
where in the garrison fortress of Pamplona, he 
openly received emissaries from other parts of the 
army and completed his conspiracy. 

The cases of General Franco, of General San- 
jurjo, of General Goded, of General Queipo de 
Llano, are dishearteningly similar. The last named 
married the daughter of the first President of the 
Republic, Alcala Zamora, and actually became 
Chief of the Presidential Military Staff! General 
Sanjurjo, Alfonso's head of the hated Civil Guard, 
was continued in his post as "protector of the 
Republic" until, on August 10, 1932, he led an 
uprising for the restoration of the monarchy. His 
uprising failed thanks to a prompt and united gen- 
eral strike of the anarchists, socialists and commu- 
nists and unaffiliated workers of Seville, where 
the coup was attempted. Condemned to death, 
Sanjurjo was soon pardoned and released and died 
in a plane accident in July 1936 returning from 
Germany, after a conference with Hitler, to take 
charge of the military rebellion. 

The Strange Case of Colonel Mangada 

Illustrated on page 29 is the facsimile of an 
amazing document. It is entitled, "Fascism in the 
Army or the Union of Spanish Military Men." Its 
author is Colonel Julio Mangada, retired; its date 

El fascio en elEjercito 

o la Union de Militares Espanoles 
(U. M. E.) 


Precio40 cts. 



of issue March 28, 1936, that is, before the upris- 
ing of July of last year; and I purchased it at an 
ordinary bookstore in Madrid. 

The pamphlet tells how Colonel Mangada was 
court-martialled, jailed, driven out of the army, 
for the sole crime of loyalty to the Republic. It 
reveals that the military conspiracy which brought 
about the rebellion of July 1936 had been going 
on since April 1931, throughout the existence of 
the Republic. It shows Mangada repeatedly warn- 
ing his superiors, War Minister Azafia and the lat- 
ter's successors, Martinez Barrio and Hidalgo, of 
the plot against the Republic. It gives details of 
the conspiracy, names, dates, plans, documents, 
and extracts of his repeated reports to the govern- 
ment. It gives proof that Azana's assistant, the 
Sub-Secretary of War, was a monarchist conspira- 
tor, that officers who were friendly to the Republic 
were forced to resign or be court-matialled. Man- 
gada himself was tried and imprisoned in 1931; 
released after the Sanjurjo revolt (which his warn- 
ings, had they been heeded, might have fore- 
stalled ) . then jailed again and finally forced to 
resign from the army. It proves that President 
Azaila knew exact details of the impending rebel- 
lion when on March 18, 1936, on a secret ultima- 
tum from the fascist general staff, Azana's War 
Minister issued the following communication: 

"It has come to the knowledge of the Minister 
of War that certain rumors are insistently circu- 
lating concerning the state of mind of the officers 
and sub-officials of the army. 

"These rumors which can immediately be qual- 


ified as false and without foundation, tend with- 
out doubt to maintain public disquiet, sow animos- 
ities against the military men and undermine, if 
not destroy, discipline, the fundamental basis of 
the army. 

"The Minister of War has the honor of making 
public the fact that all the officers' staff and petty 
officers of the Spanish Army, from the highest 
posts to the most modest, maintains itself within 
the limits of the most strict discipline, disposed at 
any moment to an exact fulfillment of its duties — 
and needless to say — obedience to the order of 
the legally constituted Government. 

"What is true, and the Minister of War wants 
to certify to it, is that the Government of the Re- 
public has learned, with sorrow and indignation, 
of the unjust attacks to which the officers of the 
Armv have been subjected. 

"The Spanish military men, models of self-de- 
nial and loyalty, merit from all their fellow-citi- 
zens the respect, the affection and the gratitude 
which is due to those who have made, in the ser- 
vice and defense of the Fatherland and of the 
Republic, the sacrifice of their own lives, if na- 
tional safety or national honor requires it. 

"Remote from all political struggle, faithful ser- 
vitors of the constituted power and guarantee of 
obedience to the popular will, all the component 
part of the armed forces of the nation ought to 
be considered by their fellow citizens as the strong- 
est support of the Republican State, and only a 
criminal and tortuous desire to undermine it can 
explain the insults and the verbal and written at- 



tacks which have been directed against it. 

"The Government of the Republic applies and 
will apply the law against any one who persists in 
such an unpatriotic attitude. ..." 

At that moment, Azafia and his War Minister 
had in their possession an ultimatum from the 
fascist Union of Spanish Military Men demanding 
that they make such a statement, a copy of a sub- 
versive appeal of the same group to the Civil and 
Assault Guards to support the army in its coming 
uprising, and a statement Of the same Military 
Union proposing to crush the People's Front gov- 
ernment "with bullets" and to wipe out the follow- 
ing organizations and their principal leaders : The 
Republican Union, the Republican Left, the Ca- 
talan Esquerra, the Socialist Party and U.G.T., 
the Syndicalist Party, the Libertarian Socialist 
Federation, the P.O.U.M., the C.G.T.U., the C. 
N.T. and the F.A.L The following names were 
specifically mentioned: Martinez Barrio, Azaiia, 
Companys, Largo Caballero, Andres Nin, Galan! 
The Communist Party (no doubt through an over- 
sight, though one can imagine the vile factional 
misuse that would have been made if the name of 
the P.O.U.M. had been omitted!) is not included 
in the list, nor are any of its leaders. 

"Engrave these names well in your memory," 
reads the fascist military manifesto. "Neither un- 
der legal mask nor illegally, will the way be 
smoothed for what they intend. The bases of the 
People's Front can only be imposed on Spain in 
the streets. With bullets! Before the army consents 
to the triumph of communism, it will crush the 


revolution forever. The revolutionary leaders will 
not again save themselves under the mantle of im- 
punity with which they are covered by the fear of 
politicians and rulers. They will not escape from 
our hands without paying for their tremendous 

When the War Department endorsed the officers 
who had issued that circular, Colonel Mangada's 
patience was exhausted, and on March 28, he is- 
sued to the people his report in the form of the 
pamphlet from which I have been quoting. 

"Storming the Heavens" 

THE republican government received confiden- 
tial notice on July 16, 1936 that the long 
projected military uprising was to be launched in 
Morocco the next morning. Its only response was 
\the perpetration of a ghastly pun! 1 On the seven- 
teenth at dawn, in accordance with a prearranged 
schedule, the officers of the Foreign Legion de- 
clared themselves in rebellion and called upon the 
other garrisons to second their movement. One 
after another, the officers' corps of other detach- 
ments followed suit. Yet, even now, the People's 
Front government, which had so long known what 
was going on, made no move to stop the revolt! 

For three days, the seventeenth, eighteenth and 
nineteenth of July, it refused to dissolve the army, 
refused to free the soldiers from their duty of 
obeying their officers, refused to call upon them 
to arrest the revolting generals. The workers, with- 

1 "A group of persons went to the Congress and in 
one of its corridors stopped the President of the Cabinet, 
Casares Quiroga, and in confidence communicated the 
fact that the military pronouncement was imminent. He 
listened unconcerned, replying: 'So you assure me that 
the military are going to rise. All right, gentlemen, let 
them rise. As for me, I am going to bed'." — from a news- 
paper account of the events of the day preceding the 
uprising. The words "rise" (levantarse) and "go to bed" 
(acostarse) are opposites in Spanish, whence the "point" 
of the pun. 




out waiting for orders, declared a general strike, 
offered their services to crush the rebellion, and, \ 
as they had so often done before during the anx- 
ious months of governmental inaction, demanded 
arms. But the republican politicians, less afraid of 
a military dictatorship than of the masses in arms, 
refused to open the arsenals. 

The government made frantic efforts to come 
to some sort of compromise with the rebellion, to 
recognize the power of the military dictatorship 
while retaining the externals of republican forms, 
in short, to surrender "with dignity." To tempt 
the reaction to accept a compromise, they set up 
several "transition" governments in quick succes- 
sion, each more to the right than its predecessor. 
Casares Quiroga yielded the prime ministership 
to Martinez Barrio; Martinez Barrio to Jose Giral. 2 
Politicians who had openly opposed the People's 
Front from the right were included in the succes- 
sive cabinets and the representatives of the masses 
in the trade unions and working class parties were 
excluded. But the generals, flushed with the first 
taste of victory, were contemptuous of these man- 
euvers and refused to accept their "surrender with 
dignity." They had no further use for these mis- 
erable puppets who had served their purpose as 
far as mouse-hearted inaction could serve. Did the 
rebellion not have the entire army behind it? What 
was the need of further pretense and compromise? 
They would accept nothing less than flight or res- 

2 It is an ominous sign that Jos6 Giral has again 
appeared in the government recently formed under the 
premiership of Negrin. 



ignation of the republican politicians and the 
establishment of an undisguised military dictator- 
ship. All was over but the division of the spoils. 
Then the unexpected, the incredible happened! 

The Proletarian Revolution Begins 

f~On July 19, the workers of Barcelona, virtually 
unarmed, attacked the Barcelona barracks. They 
had a few pistols, concealed in their homes from 
the attempts of the republican officials to disarm 
them; a few sticks of dynamite taken from con- 
struction jobs; a few hunting rifles taken from 
sporting goods stores; some trucks and cars that 
they had commandeered on the streets. They had 
paving stones for barricades and the stout hearts 
of men accustomed to face the troops under mon- 
archy and republic and they were determined not 
to permit the establishment of a fascist military 
dictatorship. Under the leadership of the C.N.T., 3 
the F.A.I., 4 and the P.O.U.M., 5 they advanced 

3 C.N.T. (Confederation Nacional de Trabajo), one 
of the two great trade union centers of the country, syn- 
dicalist in its official philosophy and predominantly under 
the leadership of syndicalists and anarchists. The other 
great trade union center, the U.G.T. (Union General de 
Trabajadores) is socialist in official philosophy and pre- 
dominantly under the leadership of members of the So- 
cialist Party. Its outstanding leaders is Largo Caballero. 

4 F.A.I. (Federation Anarquista Iberica) is an anarch- 
ist propaganda organization which, despite its official 
apoliticism, actually functions as a political party in the 
sense of seeking to guide the workers as a class in their 
struggles against the power of the ruling class and for 



against the heavily armed garrison. As they ad- 
vanced, they did what the government should have 
done, called upon the soldiers to come over to 
their side, to disobey and arrest their officers. They 
were greeted by rifle shots, cannon fire and a with- 
ering hail of machine gun bullets. Ascaso fell. 
Other heroes fell. But from behind men rushed 
forward to seize the rifles and pistols of the fallen. 
The advance continued. Soldiers within the bar- 
racks were shaken in their blind loyalty to their 
officers; the hail of bullets began going deliberate- 
ly wide of the advancing "target"; soldiers were 
disobeying their officers; some were raising white 
handkerchiefs, others were trying to arrest those 
who were giving the orders. In a great rush, the 
crowd surged forward and took the fortress! The 
government had refused to arm the workers: now 
they armed themselves from the arsenals of the 
Ataranzas Barracks. 

the proletarian revolution. It exercises great influence in 
the C.N.T. 

5 P.O.U.M. (Partido Obrero de Unification Marxista) 
is a communist party, which, unlike the official Commu- 
nist Party of Spain, remains true to the principles of 
communism. The bulk of its membership comes from the 
Workers and Peasants Block under the leadership of 
Joaquin Maurin which broke with the Communist Inter- 
national when the latter adopted sectarian tactics. They 
were joined about two years ago by the much smaller 
Communist Left under the leadership of Andres Nin, 
which broke with Trotsky when they refused to accept 
the latter's order to enter the Socialist (Second) Inter- 
national. The two groups fused to form the P.O.U.M., 
whence its name which means "Workers Party of Marx- 
ist Unification." 



This epic deed of the Barcelona workers saved 
Spain and changed the course of the history of 
our times. Immediately all cowardice, compromise 
and indecision were at an end: the military had 
found a force capable of opposing it. The next 
I day, July 20, stirred by the heroism of the Barce- 
( lona proletariat, the workers of Madrid attacked 
\ the Montana Barracks on the edge of West Park. 
* Backed this time by a section of the Assault 
Guards, they took the barracks by storm, and 
Madrid joined Barcelona. At the same time, prole- 
tarian revolution broke out all over Catalonia. 
Everywhere, G.N.T., F.A.I., U.G.T. and P.O.U.M. 
workers united to oppose the might of the prole- 
tariat to the might of the militarists. Within a 
week, all Catalonia, Valencia and Castille were in 
the hands of the workers and they were pressing 
forward towards the retaking of the rest of Spain. 
Everywhere, committees sprang up, somewhat an- 
alogous to the Soviets in Russia in 1917, sponta- 
neous organs of struggle and administration such 
as the proletariat sets up after its large democratic 
fashion as great weapons of the masses whenever 
they go into motion on their own behalf. The gov- 
ernment had refused to arm the proletariat; it 
armed itself. The government had failed to dis- 
solve the army; the workers, aided by their bro- 
thers in the barracks, dissolved the army, arrested 
and executed its fascist officers, disarmed the forces 
of reaction. Militia committees armed the masses 
and began to drill them; factory committees took 
over the workshops and began to operate them; 
food committes attended to provisions and sup- 



plies; transport committees commandeered trucks 
and automobiles and trolleys and trains; peasant 
committees began seizing the great estates; com- 
mittees took over the administration of towns and 
villages; patrol committees ferreted out fascists, 
examined suspicious travellers, suppressed con- 
spiracies, executed revolutionary justice. Alongside 
the republican government that had failed the 
people in their hour of need, another government, 
a workers and peasants government, began to ap- 
pear in embryonic form. To it the masses turned 
for guidance, for leadership, for orders. It was 
flesh of their flesh and bone of their bone: it en- 
joyed their confidence for it was the democratic 
and energetic expression of their own will. 

The Dual Power 

But at Madrid the other government remained 
still strangely inactive. It no longer refused arms 
to the workers, for they had taken them and armed 
themselves. It no longer tried to compromise with 
fascism, for the heroism of the Barcelona anarcho- 
syndicalists and P.O.U.M.ists had made surrender 
and compromise impossible. Casares Quiroga, the 
Prime Minister who had sought to meet a military 
uprising by going to bed, disappeared. Manuel 
Azafia, the President and ex- War Minister who 
had kept these monarchist generals at their posts 
for five years until they had completed their plans 
for revolt, fled to a monastery. The deputies who 
had filled the Chamber with their lyrical bird cries 
became silent and for the most part went into 



hiding or sought safety in Paris. New and more 
"left" cabinets were formed but without the inter- 
vention of parliament. Having failed to give the 
masses leadership, they were now forced to appeal 
to representatives of the masses to enter the "re- 
publican" government, lest the masses consolidate 
a government of their own, a government of the 
committees, a government of the workers and 
peasants. The republican politicians, those who 
were not too cowardly to remain, offered to head 
the government, in order to head off the develop- 
ing proletarian revolution. 

Where the workers, for the moment, found their 
own head, they advanced with giant strides. Hav- 
ing reconquered Catalonia, they advanced far into 
rural Aragon. Having taken Madrid and Valencia, 
they reocc.upied Castille and Valencia province. 
But the demoralized shadow government at Ma- 
drid continued to set the mark of vacillation, in- 
competence and the fear of the colossal forces it 
had to deal with, upon everything it did. 

If we are to believe Leon Blum, and his public 
declaration on the question has never been denied, 
the Madrid government secretly assented to the 
shameful farce of "non-intervention" when he pro- 
posed it to them. 

It possessed a 2,400,000,000 peseta gold reserve, 
one of the largest in the world outside of a hand- 
ful of great powers; yet it made no serious attempt 
' to purchase arms on a large scale for months, until 
1 it was too late. Nor did it remove, even now, the 
old monarchist officers where the prompt action 
v of the working class had prevented them from de- 



claring for the rebellion and had obliged them to 
assert that they had never wavered in their "loy- 
alty" to the republic. In the months to come, all 
defeats were to be due to those two causes: lack 
of arms and treachery by unreliable officers! 

Spain was being led by two governments: one, 
the cabinet of bourgeois republican politicians that 
had proved and continued to prove its incompe- 
tence and unreliability, a government that derived 
its authority from inertia and habit and from the 
theoretical support of a parliament that had ceased 
to function and had disappeared; the other, a 
half-formed government of committees, leading 
the masses, yet only partially conscious of its au- 
thority and role. Upon the resolution of the issue 
of authority between these dual and distinct or- 
gans of power — cabinet nominally parliamentary 
or committees that were the germs of Soviets — 
depended the future of Spain. 


War and Revolution 

IN critical times the art of using language to 
conceal thought becomes to the ruling class and 
its political agents the most important of all the 
arts. Convention, habit and routine have lost their 
accustomed power: the masses shake off their age- 
old lethargy, lift their eyes in hope towards the 
citadels of power, seize barracks and overthrow 
bastilles almost literally with naked hands, ques- 
tion men and institutions that have no warrant 
but their age and oppressive weight, develop amaz- 
ing initiative and begin to move on their own be- 
half. Then old political leaders hastily undergo a 
change of costume, ever easier than a change of 
heart, and appear bedecked in phrygian caps and 
red ribbons. Radical phraseology begins to sprout 
like a red rash all over the ancient and infirm body 
politic. The masses, so newly entered on the stage 
of politics, are confused; men and events are seen 
through rose-colored glasses till bitter experience 
teaches them to distinguish between the appear- 
ance and the reality, the phrase and the substance, 
the mask and the visage that hides behind it. 

During such periods of honeymoon confusion, 
everybody is a "revolutionary" and no one is so 
foolhardy as to come out openly against "the rev- 
olution." The energy of the masqueraders is cau- 
tiously bent to the task of keeping it as much 




phrase and as little substance as possible, of slow- 
ing it up, preventing the application of its most 
urgently needed measures, and sabotaging it in 
its own name. "For the sake of the revolution," 
the revolution itself must be postponed till "bet- 
ter," i.e. less revolutionary, times. 

"First Win the War ..." 

One of the most ingenious of these formulae is 
the slogan being advanced to sabotage the revolu- 
tion in Spain: "First win the war, then make the 
revolution." It is also one of the most dangerous, 
for all history teaches that truly democratic and 
popular wars can only be waged and won by rev- 
olutionary means. Indeed, Spain has already 
shown, as France in 1789, Russia in 1917, and 
Ethiopia by negative demonstration in 1935, that 
wars for freedom are lost if the revolution flags 
and can be won against the most fearful odds of 
internal opposition and foreign invasion of a coa- 
lesced reactionary world, if revolution frees the 
amazing energies latent in the masses of the popu- 
lation when they have taken their destinies in 
their own hands. Those energies far outweigh and 
demoralize the fighting force of superior armies 
sent against them (superior in arms and numbers 
and wealth and training, indeed in all save morale) 
for all armies are made up of workers and peas- 
ants and the revolution has an expansive power 
that is as incalculable as it is irresistible when it is 
freely developing according to its inner necessities 
and the laws of its own being. 



Rosa Luxemburg has formulated the law of the 
relation between war and revolution in classic 
form in the following words : 

"Class struggle and resistance to invasion are not 
opposed to each other, as the official legend would 
have us believe, but the former is the means and 
the expression of the latter. . . . The fearless prose- 
cution of the class struggle has always proven the 
most effective weapon against foreign invasion. 
. . . The classic example of our own times is the 
Great French Revolution. In 1793, Paris, the heart 
of France, was surrounded by enemies. And yet 
Paris and France did not succumb to the Euro- 
pean coalition. If, at that critical time, France 
was able to meet each new coalition of the enemy 
with a new and miraculous . . . burst of fighting 
spirit ... it was only because of the impetuous 
release of the inmost forces of society in class 
struggle. Today, in the perspective of a century, 
it is plain that only this intensification of the class 
struggle, that only the dictatorship of the French 
people and their fearless radicalism could raise 
means and forces from out of the very soil of 
France sufficient to defend and support a new- 
born society against a world of enemies, against 
the intrigues of a dynasty, against the treasonable 
machinations of the aristocrats, against the 
scheming of the clergy, against the treachery of 
the generals, against the hostility of sixty depart- 
ments and provincial capitals, against the united 
armies and navies of monarchial Europe. The 
centuries have proven . . . that relentless class 
struggle is the power that awakens the spirit of 



self-sacrifice, the moral strength of the masses — 
that the class struggle is the best protection and 
the best defense against the foreign enemy." 

The Transfer of Armed Power 

On July 17, 1936 the bourgeois republic, the 
Azana "People's Front" government, proved in- 
capable of proceeding against the armed rebellion 
just as it had been incapable of preventing it and 
incapable of disarming the feudal monarchy dur- 
ing five years of republican rule. The same social 
fact, that it feared the armed masses even more 
than the armed reaction, paralyzed it now as it 
had paralyzed it in the past. The war against 
fascism could not even begin until the masses be- 
gan the revolution. On July 19, when the workers 
took matters into their own hands, disregarded the 
cowardly and treacherous government which was 
trying to negotiate surrender, violated the govern- 
ment's decision not to arm them and established 
their own armed forces, they thereby began the 
war and the revolution in one. No amount of in- 
consistency in carrying through the revolution to 
all its conclusions and no amount of weakness in 
the conduct of certain phases of the war can ob- 
scure this fact. Indeed, the two go together in this 
also, for the conduct of the war has suffered in 
direct proportion with the weakness and incon- 
sistencies of the proletariat in the carrying 
through of the revolution. But from this fact alone 
one thing at least is clear: if there had been no 
revolution, there would have been no war. 





In the great cities, above all in Barcelona, the 
victorious workers, arms in hand and faced with 
the need of provisioning and equipping their 
armed forces, immediately proceeded to the seizure 
of the factories, the existent stocks of materials 
and foodstuffs, and the means of transportation. 
Thanks to that, they were able for a brief period 
to assume the offensive and advance far into Ara- 
gon and much of the rest of Spain. It is noteworthy 
that, once the workers lost the initiative to the gov- 
ernment in place of constituting themselves as the 
government, loyalist Spain was never again, up to 
this writing, able to assume the offensive. 

The President and Cabinet, powerless to pre- 
vent the seizure of the factories by the workers, 
did its best to limit and restrain. Its decrees are 
aimed at restricting seizures to factories whose own- 
ers have openly declared for the rebellion. But 
since the workers took the main industrial towns 
by storm within a few days of the outbreak of the 
rebellion (Barcelona in two days, Madrid in three, 
Valencia in less than a week), the majority of the 
owners of industry had neither time nor inclination 
to declare themselves fascists. Among these "loyal" 
factory owners, and the "loyal" landowners simil- 
arly circumstanced, and in the political organiza- 
tions which they support and which defend them, 
is the real haven of the much talked of "Fifth 
Column" of sympathizers with and secret support- 
ers of Franco, which the Communist Party pre- 
tends to "see" among the revolutionaries who 
saved Barcelona from fascism on July 19. 

The Revolution on the Land 

The next step of the masses under revolutionary 
leadership, still without the leadership and against 
the will of the republican ministers, was the whole- 
sale seizure of the land, whereby the backbone of 
the economic power behind feudal-military reac- 
tion was broken, and the peasant was mobilized, 
by revolution, for the prosecution of the war. 
Later, the rehabilitated and reconstructed govern- 
ment, finally with a communist in the ungrateful 
role of official restrainer of land occupation and 
collectivization (Minister of Agriculture Uribe), 
sought to limit land seizure to the estates of openly 
fascist landowners. Whole villages and regions, as 
the recent trials of the communist Mayors of Villa- 
nueva de Alcardete and Villamayor have proved, 1 

1. There are scores of such cases pending against 
village and provincial authorities especially in the re- 
gions of Castille. Yet when the C.N.T. and Castilla Li- 
bre (both syndicalist papers of Madrid) raised the ques- 
tion of the terrorization of villages and the assassination 
of the members of their agricultural workers union by 
rural authorities, the papers in question were repeatedly 
suppressed. The Mayor of Villanueva de Alcardete was 
finally sentenced to death not for the attacks made by 
him and the local Guardia Civil under his leadership 
against defenseless peasants but because he used his 
power for the rape and the murder of two peasant girls. 
For his social crimes be was never brought to account, 
though they were at last officially recognized at the trial. 
When Castilla Libre made its accusations against him, 
it was suppressed by the censorship, and the communist 
paper, Mundo Obrero, defended the mayor as a "good 
comrade and proven revolutionist" and charged Castilla 
Libre with being "provocative and fascist" in its report. 



were put back under the leadership of the caciques, 
the old village tyrants in new republican and com- 
munist dress, and the center of gravity was shifted 
from the agricultural workers and poor peasants, 
mostly anarchists and socialists, to the middle peas- 
ants (Spanish equivalent of the Russian kulaks) 
and the old administrative bureaucracy. 

Landowners who were prevented by the rapid 
enveloping action of the masses from openly de- 
claring their reactionary sympathies, are continued 
in their possessions and power or, where their es- 
tates are partially divided, are to be given com- 
pensation. Thus the economic power of rural 
reaction is to be partially changed in form but not 
destroyed, while the magnificent initiative of the 
landworkers and revolutionary peasants which 
mobilized the countryside for the war against fa- 
scism precisely where it is strongest, has been and 
is being discouraged and destroyed. 

(See Mundo Obrero, April 27, 1937). How the Commu- 
nist Party's present policies lead inevitably to the infil- 
tration of such elements into its ranks is analyzed below. 

The Road to Victory 

4 4 THIRST win the war; then make the revolu- 

r tion." 

The falsity and danger of this slogan becomes 
obvious as soon as we put the question practically: 
What is needed for the winning of the war? 

To win the war, it will be generally admitted, 
the following measures are necessary: 

1. The creation of a strong government. 

2. A powerful, unified and politically reliable 


3. A reliable safety corps for patrol behind the 
lines and the ferreting out of fascist nests and 
counter-revolutionary plots. 

4. A unified economy completely subordinated 
to the winning of the war. 

5. An effective appeal to the foreign troops in- 
vading the country and to the masses in the coun- 
tries openly or covertly intriguing against Spain, an 
appeal which will mobilize them against the 
present policies of their governments and in favor 
of at least decent neutrality. 

6. A national and colonial policy proper to a 
free people: autonomy and the right of self-deter- 
mination and free cooperation for all the national 
regions of the Spanish peninsula — above all free- 
dom for the Moors. 




We have purposely stated these needs in as 
"neutral" a form as possible. Except for points 5 
and 6, they would be pretty universally accepted 
in governmental Spain. Yet every one of the above 
measures, upon closer analysis, reveals itself as 
requiring the extension of the revolution. 

A Strong Government 

What is a strong government, One enjoying the 
full confidence of the masses! One able to mobilize 
to the maximum that amazing energy, that rich 
enthusiasm, that proud self-confidence and capaci- 
ty for initiative that is characteristic of the masses 
in revolutionary times. Once aroused, it has the 
irresistible power of an avalanche. But such a 
government is not something external to the 
masses; it is the organization of the masses them- 
selves : it is the Paris Commune ; it is the faubourgs 
and club and committees of 1793; it is the Soviets 
of 1905 and 1917; it is the network of committees 
that sprang up all over loyal Spain on July 19, 
1936. Under the leadership of this embryonic 
workers and peasants government, the Spanish 
people armed themselves, recaptured Barcelona, 
Madrid, Valencia, the whole of the provinces of 
Gastille, Castillon, Catalonia, Aragon, Biscay, 
Asturias, Valencia, much of the rest of Spain. 
Though still virtually unarmed and entirely un- 
trained, they actually assumed the offensive and 
defeated and rolled back the trained troops of the 
professional army in more than two-thirds of 
Spain! It is the only time, so far in the entire civil 



war, that the loyal side has been able to assume 
the offensive. Once the authority of the impotent, 
discredited, non-revolutionary Azana government 
was restored and the overflowing tide of revolu- 
tionary enthusiasm channelized in the moldy 
ditches of bourgeois republicanism once more, 
neither arms nor training, nor the fashioning of a 
trained officers corps, has enabled the government 
side to assume the offensive again. The systematic 
sabotage of Catalonia by the Azaiia government, 
precisely because it is the center of revolutionary 
energy as it is of large scale industry, has not a 
little to do with this. On the side of reaction is 
necessarily the superiority in training, equipment, 
professional officers, and support by foreign re- 
action. On the popular side, the only offset lies 
in numbers, in morale, in revolutionary enthusi- 
asm, in the overwhelming tidal wave of the masses 
in motion that can dissolve opposing armies, create 
guerrilla support behind the enemy lines, stir up 
the masses to action in countries intriguing against 
them, make foreign powers afraid to intervene or 
paralyze their intervention because the "con- 
tagion" of the revolutionary morale "demoralizes" 
the armies of reaction. 

It would have been only a short step from this 
network of committees and spontaneously created 
organs of the masses to the consolidation of dele- 
gates from factory, village, militia group, into a 
genuine workers and peasants government. Such 
governments represent the highest form of demo- 
cracy the world has ever known (unless we except 
the primitive tribes) . They spring from the masses, 





are directly responsive to their wishes, subject to 
direct instruction and instantaneous recall, are 
really the masses themselves giving expression to 
their aroused and all-powerful will in organized 
form. Such a government would have destroyed 
the "fifth column" overnight by nationalizing the 
land, the banks and the factories, the economic 
basis of fascism and reaction. Only such a govern- 
ment could have created a reliable army, not only 
worker and peasant in its social composition (all 
armies are that), but worker and peasant in its 
officers corps and control — which is decisive in 
determining the class nature of the army. The 
Durrutis and Ascasos and Grossis who led the at- 
tacks upon the barracks on the first days of the 
revolution would have become the high command, 
and such professional military men as might have 
been used because of their technical knowledge 
would have been put under the strict control of 
worker-officers or "commissars." The restoration 
of unreliable bourgeois officers to the supreme rank 
and the abolition of control by the workers organ- 
izations was to cost the government dear; the 
betrayal of Malaga, the breach in the impregna- 
ble "iron ring" around Bilbao, are only two of 
the most conspicuous examples of a whole series 
of betrayals that resulted from a failure to com- 
plete the revolutionary reorganization of the army. 

Colonial Policy 

A workers and peasants government would have 
freed the Moors, and by radio and proclamation 
in the Moorish tongue would have mobilized all 

North Africa in a wave of enthusiastic solidarity 
and revolutionary fervor against Franco and his 
little handful of foreign legionaries. Defeated in 
the main centers of Spain, he would never have 
been able to bring the Moors over from Africa. 
His revolt would have collapsed before a single 
black-shirt or brown-shirt could have arrived, and 
swift revolutionary justice would have ended the 
Spanish military menace forever. How clear it be- 
comes as soon as we analyse the terms "war" and 
"revolution" instead of treating them as meta- 
physical abstractions, that to make the revolution 
(even in this respect alone) would have meant to 
win the war, and that "first win the war, then 
make the revolution," means to betray the revolu- 
tion and to run the danger of losing the war. In- 
deed, if the Republic had made the agrarian revo- 
lution and freed the Moors, disarmed the fascist 
officers, reorganized the army basing it upon the 
armed masses, there would never have been any 
possibility of fascist revolt at all. But a bourgeois 
coalition government such as that of the People's 
Front by its very nature is a government of the 
curbing of the revolutionary will of the masses 
and a government of slow, concealed and in- 
glorious surrender to fascism and reaction. Today, 
after more than a year of civil war, the People's 
Front government has still stubbornly refused to 
do elementary justice to the Moors and elementary 
benefit to its own cause by setting them free! By 
its nature it is a government bound hand and foot 
by the miserable ambitions of Spanish capitalism 
and imperialism and the voracious demands of 



British and French capital, though both former 
and latter have betrayed the cause of the Spanish 
people at every turn. 

A revolutionary government would have sent 
the unreliable Azanas about their business, stripped 
them of their power and prerogatives, including 
their power to sabotage the will of the masses, to 
intrigue with foreign powers, to negotiate possible 
compromises at the expense of the workers and 
peasants; in short, it would have stripped them 
instantly, as the Russian workers did Kerensky in 
1917, of all their power to harm. But while militia- 
men brave death in the trenches at 10 pesetas a 
day, and workers behind the lines are paid less for 
their herculean efforts to organize a supply service 
for the war, Azana still draws his 1,000,000 
pesetas a year in wages and an additional equal 
sum for expenses, while a horde of budget-hungry 
officials and deputies continue to drain huge sums 
needed for the conduct of the war, and Negrin 
threatens to revive the Chamber of Deputies whose 
discreditable past should have been sufficient to 
bury it forever. 

A revolutionary government would have nation- 
alized the banking system, thus stopping the flight 
of capital and devoting all economic resources as 
well as human to the winning of the war The 
present government, despite the pusillanimity of 
its petty-capitalist soul, is a veritable lion in the 
persecution of those who would take such revolu- 
tionary measures. 

A workers and peasants government would have 
devoted all the economic resources of the land to 



the winning of the war. It would have socialized 
and centralized under its control the whole of 
industry. Even bourgeois nations establish state 
capitalism and centralized economic control when 
they are engaged in life and death struggles — 
witness the "state socialism" of the world war. 
Louis Fischer, who cannot be suspected of part- 
isanship in favor of a revolutionary policy in Spain 
since he has not even hesitated to invent "facts" and 
slanders against it, was forced to admit that "the 
stores in Madrid still have heavy stocks of winter 
underwear, warm blankets, and flannel garments 
while four kilometers away the men who are de- 
fending the city sleep lightly clothed in frozen 
trenches" (The Nation, December 12, 1936). 
Even a capitalist government with a bit of energy 
would have seized "everything for the boys at the 
front" and not let the militiamen in the snow- 
covered Guadarrama mountains spend the winter 
in the same overalls in which they had seized the 
strategic mountain range during the previous July. 

Revolutionary Government 

But all these revolutionary policies and others 
which will suggest themselves to the reader if he 
peruses again the six-point program at the head 
of this article, require for their conception and ex- 
ecution a revolutionary government with revolu- 
tionary policies. As we have seen, it was but a 
little step from the network of committees, to a 
permanent government based upon those commit- 
tees, a workers and peasants government. But this 



was not done because the syndicalist and anarchist 
organizations were prevented by their anarchist 
prejudices, the socialist and official communist 
parties by their reformist theories, from taking that 
next step. The syndicalist workers and peasants 
were hindered by anarchist training from even con- 
templating the problem of proletarian power. As 
usual, "no politics" in working class theory means 
bourgeois politics in practice. Only proletarian 
politics (in the revolutionary, not the reformist 
sense) can prevent the proletariat from being 
dragged in the political train of the bourgeoisie. 

On the other hand, the socialist workers were 
hindered from understanding the needs of prole- 
tarian government by decades of social-democratic 
teachings in favor of bourgeois coalition govern- 
ment. The left wing of the Spanish Socialist 
Party was just beginning to approach a commun- 
ist position on the question of class struggle and 
state power, when it was suddenly confused, de- 
moralized and debauched by an aggressive attack 
on communist principles, made by the Communist 
Party itself, which had abandoned them in favor 
of class-collaboration under the hegemony of the 
petty bourgeoisie, and the disastrous theory of the 
People's Front government. The Communist Party 
was the main driving force both in 1935 and in 
1936 to rehabilitate the discredited Azana. 

Only the Workers Party of Marxist Unification 
(P.O.U.M.) remained true to communist principles 
and clearly placed the problem of proletarian 
power and program. It was not strong enough at 
this stage to swing it alone but by that single act 



it made itself the revolutionary leader of the 
Spanish working class, a position that it has bril- 
liantly maintained despite slander, provocation and 
persecution by the Republican-Communist Party 
coalition and it has manifested the requisite re- 
volutionary realism and flexibility to give concrete 
expression to the needs of the Spanish civil war 
and revolution at every turn in the complicated 
events. Slowly it wins ground for this program 
among the syndicalist, anarchist and socialist 
workers and the communist youth. We can fit- 
tingly close this article by reprinting the program 
which it offered in April 1937 during the Catalon- 
ian cabinet crisis of that month. That it should 
have had 1 o advance such a program almost a year 
after the ( tvil war and revolution began, indicates 
how the I eople's Front government and its sup- 
porters, b) sabotaging the revolution have hinder- 
ed and in perilled the winning of the civil war. 
The P.O U.M/s Program for the April Crisis 

1. Socia ization of heavy industry and transport. 

2. Nationalization of banking. 

3. Municipalization of real estate. 

4. Building of an army controlled by the work- 
ing class. 

5. Constitution of a single Interior Security 
Corps, based on the Guard Patrols and the 
Investigation Corps created by the revolution, 
and incorporating the old police organizations 
that have demonstrated their loyalty to the 
working class. 

6. Immediate offensive on the Aragon front. 

7. Reduction of high salaries. 



8. Monopoly of foreign trade. 

9. Creation of a powerful war industry, social- 
ized and rigorously centralized. 

10. Nationalization of the land, insuring the pro- 
duct to those who work it and granting them 
the necessary credits. Collective cultivation of 
large estates and economic aid for those col- 
lective farms created during the course of the 
revolution which have demonstrated their 

11. Implacable fight against monopolists and 
profiteers by means of a rigorous direct con- 
trol of the distribution and price of food-stuffs. 

12. Rapid and efficient organization of aerial and 
naval defense of all our territory. 

13. Convocation of a congress of delegates of 
workers' and peasants' unions and soldiers 
to lay the fundamental bases of the new regime 
and from which would arise a workers' and 
peasants' government- — a government which 
would be the most democratic possible, which 
would express unequivocally the will of the 
great majority of the people, and which would 
have complete authority to ensure the new , 
revolutionary order. 

The Road to Counter-Revolution 

THE NAME of a political party is no sure 
guide to its real program. How much have 
the Democratic and Republican parties of our 
country to do with "democracy" and "republican- 
ism" respectively? What is there of "radical" or 
"socialist" in the Radical-Socialist party of France, 
or of "socialist" or "labor" in the German Nazi 
party, which calls itself the National Socialist Ger- 
man Labor Party? Not by their names but by their 
teachings, and above all by their deeds, must the 
political content of a party's role be judged. To- 
day in Spain, there is no more bitter opponent of 
communism than that party which bears the 
name: Communist Party of Spain. But it differs 
from the parties mentioned above in that its name 
once meant what it said. In that respect, it is more 
closely analogous to the old Social-Democratic 
Party of Germany or the Menshevik section of the 
old Russian Social-Democracy, whose names and 
past prestige were used to cloak the fact that they 
had become, in their respective lands, outstanding 
opponents of the things they had formerly 

Why the C.P. Was Chosen 

On the outbreak of military revolt in July 1936, 
the old Spanish ruling class was no longer able 




to rule in its own name. It was split by the revolt. 
The "loyal" section was reduced to a mere shell, 
a group of discredited politicians soiled by their 
own supineness and even guilty complicity in the 
preparation of that revolt. The armed masses had 
entered on the stage of history, not as passive 
spectators or scene-shifters, but as actors in their 
own behalf. All the signs, indications and necess- 
ities pointed to a workers and peasants govern- 
ment. The ruling class had lost belief in itself: 
the old politicians, the old shibboleths, had lost 
their power to sway or bewilder the masses; the 
old apparatus of force had gone over to fascism 
and the state had lost its power to suppress. Only 
a party of the working class could possibly confuse 
the masses; only shock troops recruited among the 
workers and acting ostensibly in their name could 
possibly suppress the masses — and confusion and 
suppression are the twin poles of capitalist, as of 
every minority-class rule. The only hope of the 
Spanish ruling class for continuing the rule of 
capitalism was to rule through some safe "op- 
position" party till the crisis should be past. If 
they could have used the syndicalists or the so- 
cialists (and they experimented with both, 
brought them into the government for a while, and 
still use their conservative wings), the Spanish 
bourgeoisie would have preferred them, for their 
popular following was enormous. But both these 
parties, despite lack of clarity and consequent un- 
reliability from a proletarian standpoint, were too 
responsive to the pressure of the working class, too 
loyal and too democratically run to be dependable. 


When German capitalism was in a similar plight 
in 1918, it had called the Social-Democracy into 
the government. It was they who crushed the 
Spartacan revolt that the junkers themselves could 
never have crushed, put across a bourgeois republic 
when a soviet republic was on the order of the 
day, wrote the Weimar Constitution creating a 
"democratic republic with profound social 
features" (the very language is being repeated by 
the Spanish G.P. today!), murdered Liebknecht 
and I-uxemburg as today the Spanish Communist 
Party has murdered Andres Nin. It was they who 
"postponed" revolutionary measures while the situ- 
ation was revolutionary, continued the economic 
basis of capitalist power, retained the old bureau- 
cratic military apparatus, alienated the backward 
masses which coirid only have been won by a revo- 
lutionary solution of their needs and jailed or 
slaughtered the vanguard that urged such meas- 
ures; it was they who made possible, by these 
measures, the return of reaction and, under the 
aegis of a "democratic republic with profound 
social features," made inevitable the rise of Hitler 
to power. 

The Spanish C.P., which had so often and 
so lightly bandied about the words "renegade" and 
"traitor" and "counter-revolutionist," voluntarily 
and agressively assumed the renegade, the traitor- 
ous, the counter-revolutionary role! Not being the 
mighty mass force that the German Social-Demo- 
cracy was in 1918, it cannot fill the role alone. 
Like Bottom the Weaver, it must play the lion of 
reaction on the government side, but it cannot 



fill the lion's skin. Therefore, discredited repub- 
licans like Azaiia and Companys, Basque Catholics 
like Irujo, and right-wing opponents of socialism 
and workers' rule from the Socialist Party like 
Negrin and Prieto, help to fill out a paw or a 
bump, while the Communist Party of Spain roars 
through the head "as gentle as any sucking dove" 
in the name of the "people" of Spain. Bottom's 
gentle roar was calculated, like theirs, not to 
frighten the honorable spectators he served; but 
the Communist Party is far from gentle in using 
claws and fangs to tear to pieces the P.O.U.M., 
to spring at Largo Caballero when they find he 
will not play their game, to jail thousands of mem- 
bers of the C.N.T. and U.G.T., and to drive both 
mighty organizations out of the government for 
the greater glory of the "democratic republic." 
How ironical does the term "People's Front" be- 
come after the two great trade union centers, be- 
tween them comprising more than 4,000,000 work- 
ers and with their families and dependents more 
than two-thirds of all the people of Spain, have 
been driven out of the government of the 
"People's" Front! What a commentary on C.P. 
maneuvers and the weakness of Largo Caballero 
who permitted Azafia, representing no one, to 
"accept" his resignation when he represented the 
majority of the Spanish people! Had he had the 
revolutionary clarity and consistency to demand 
a showdown as to who had the masses behind him, 
he or Azana, there would be no Negrin govern- 
ment today, frantically seeking to ressurrect a 
dead parliament and recall even Maura, the right - 


wing opponent of the People's Front, and Val- 
ladares, the "neutral" in the civil war, so as to 
construct some show of legal warrant for their 
brazen coup d'etat engineered when Azaiia bluffed 
Largo Caballero into resigning his post. 

The Road to Degeneration 

How, the reader will ask, did the party that 
once espoused communism and the rule of the 
working class and so bitterly opposed class col> 
laboration, how did this party come to such a 
pass that it could assume this role? Its degenera- 
tion was gradual — a process, not a single act; and, 
on its road to counter-revolution, three mile-posts 
may be distinguished. The first is sectarianism 
which isolated it from the masses and, made it 
incapable of furthering the revolutionary cause. 
During this period, it expelled its best elements 
(more than half the party!) and became a fana- 
tical opponent of working class unity. The second 
mile-post is opportunism, the adoption of class 
collaboration, the sabotaging and scuttling of the 
united workers front in favor of the bourgeois-led 
and bourgeois-programmed "People's Front." The 
third and last mile-post was opposition to the prole- 
tarian revolution in July 1936, the conspiracy to 
drive the U.G.T. and C.N.T. out of the govern- 
ment, the provocation of the May uprising in 
Barcelona, the frame-up and outlawry of the 
P.O.U.M. and the murder of Andres Nin. It had 
travelled a long way on the road to degeneration, 
and it had reached the end of the road. It is to- 



day the chief opponent of socialism, of worker and 
peasant government, of proletarian revolution, in 
Republican Spain. 

It is worth while to examine its "progress" on 
this road a little more closely for it points the way 
the apostles of the "People's Front" are treading 
in all lands. 

The Withering Curse of Sectarianism 

The overthrow of the monarchy in April 1931 
came as a complete surprise to the Communist 
Party. It was occupied with the splitting of the 
trade unions, the denunciation of all other work- 
ing class tendencies as agents of fascism or "social- 
fascism" and the expulsion of the majority of its 
members, including its founders and outstanding 
theoretical leaders, such as Joaquin Maurin, for 
opposing these suicidal tactics as injurious to com- 
munism and the working class. The sections of the 
working class which were closest to communism 
were denounced with especial bitterness as "left 
social-fascists," the most dangerous "fascists" of 
all. So isolated was the party from the masses and 
so ignorant of their moods and the realities and 
possibilities of Spanish politics that it did not even 
participate in the elections of April 1931, the re- 
sults of which caused Alfonso to flee. 

Manuilsky, a Russian leader of the Communist 
International, declared the events in Spain "of no 
special significance" and assured the Spanish pro- 
letariat, anxious for guidance in the solution of its 
new problems, that "the smallest strike in Ger- 


many is more important than everything that is 
happening in Spain." Walter Duranty, ever faith- 
ful chronicler of Stalinist views, sent a dispatch to 
the New York Times on April 18, 1931 (four days 
after the proclamation of the republic) which, in 
retrospect, assumes a more sinister significance 
than it seemed to have at the time: 

"One would naturally have expected Pravda," 
wrote Duranty, "to salute the chance of a Spanish 
proletarian struggle for power with loud and glow- 
ing enthusiasm. . . . Instead of that Pravda's first 
reaction was an editorial as stale as a damp 

Clearly, radical-sounding, ultra-leftist sectarian- 
ism is as much a desertion of the road to revolu- 
tion by the "left" fork as opportunism is by the 

Fighting the United Front "From the Left" 

The great left swing had begun in the Spanish 
U.G.T. and Socialist Party but for over two years 
the C.P. bombarded it with spiteful spitballs 
labelled "left social-fascism." When in 1933 the 
gigantic working class united front movement, 
known as the Alianza Obrera, got under way on 
the initiative of the P.O.U.M. in Barcelona and 
spread till it included the socialists, the U.G.T. 
and important sectors of the C.N.T. and F.A.I., 
the Communist Party turned its full battery of 
putty-blowers upon it. It was only at the eleventh 
hour, or rather a minute before midnight, that the 
Comintern, beginning its new turn towards the 



"People's Front" line, ordered the C.P. of Spain 
to climb on to the band wagon of the Alianza 
Obrera as it began its general strike and armed 
revolt to prevent the peaceful entrance of the 
fascists into power. 1 

From One Extreme to the Other 

But the temporary support for the working class 
united front proved to be only a half way station 
in the 180° swing that the Comintern was then 
beginning to make from its old opposition to a 
workers front on the grounds that no other work- 
ing class organization is good enough (all but the 
communists being "social fascists") to its new 
opposition to the workers front on the ground that 

* The Alianza Obrera was started in Barcelona in 
1933 to defend the working class in the face of growing 
reaction. In 1934, when the Lerroux government was 
being prepared with the fascist leader Gil Robles as its 
Minister of War, the Alianza Obrera prepared the gen- 
eral strike which, in the first days of October, developed 
mto an armed revolt in Asturias and elsewhere. Only on 
September 11 and 12, 1934, did the Central Committee 
of the C.P., meeting in secret session, decide to stop 
fighting the Alianza, a decision which it announced on 
September 15, less than three weeks before the uprising. 
When it began, the party had not yet had time to recali 
from the newstands its pamphlets denouncing the Work- 
ers Alliances as "the focal point of all reactionary forces" 
and "the holy alliance of counter-revolution." All of 
which did not prevent the Daily Worker from claiming 
credit for the formation of the Alianzas and the Astu- 
rias insurrection, until the Comintern ordered the scut- 
tling of workers' front organizations in favor of the 
"People's Front"! 



all bourgeois-liberal organizations and a bourgeois 
program are good enough and therefore working 
class programs and the working class front must be 
scuttled in the name of a "People's Front." 

Hence in 1935, when the heroic example of the 
Asturias revolt had stirred the working class and 
shaken the power of the Gil Robles-Lerroux gov- 
ernment, when the masses had had their "belly 
full" of the "democratic republic" with its lamb- 
like timidity in social reform and its lionlike 
courage in the defense of property and privilege 
and were in the mood for the creation of a work- 
ers and peasants government, and when the left 
wing of the Socialist Party had just won a major- 
ity for the two communist principles of workers 
front and workers government, the Communist 
Party of Spain, under orders from the Comintern, 
suddenly abandoned the communist position on 
these two questions in favor of "People's Front" 
and the bourgeois republic! 

The Rehabilitation of Azana 

It was the Communist Party which dragged 
Azana from oblivion, where he deservedly rested 
because of his retention of the monarchist military 
apparatus and his guilt in breaking strikes and 
shedding peasant blood when he crushed with 
great ferocity the peasant movement of 1933 cen- 
tering at Casas Viejas. It was the Communist Par- 
ty that insisted that not a trade unionist like 
Largo Caballero but this discredited and blood- 
stained bourgeois republican politician should be- 



come the standard bearer and candidate for prime 
minister of the People's Front. These moves alien- 
ated great sections of the peasantry and nearly 
cost the election. They completely demoralized 
the movement for workers front and workers gov- 
ernment in the Socialist Party. Azafia drove a 
shrewd bargain for his class, his price for accep- 
ting the nomination being that there should be no 
talk of workers and peasants government nor arm- 
ing of the workers and peasants and disarming 
of the reaction and that the People's Front pro- 
gram should expressly reject the revolutionary ex- 
propriation of the large landowners, the national- 
ization of the state bank, socialization of industry 
and even a state unemployment system. 

The demands of the People's Front were made 
to center upon a mere amnesty law for political 
prisoners (which the aroused masses enforced by 
opening the prisons themselves), whereas even a 
bourgeois republican 'People's Front govern- 
ment should have had as its minimum demand at 
least the disarming of the reaction, thereby render- 
ing impossible the military revolt that every one 
knew of and was talking about. But Azafia made 
it a condition of his deigning to accept the nomi- 
nation as standard-bearer that this demand should 
not be made! And the Communist Party was 
willing to betray the republic to these Captains- 
Generals who later rose in the anticipated and 
long prepared revolt, merely for the sake of 
People's Front collaboration with such agents of 
the big bourgeosie as Azafia whose influence over 
the petty bourgeoisie it should have been their 


major task to annihilate. The argument of the 
Comintern was that such class collaboration was 
necessary to "win an alliance with the petty bour- 
geoisie." But actually this drove the petty bour- 
geoisie back into the arms of the big bourgeoisie. 
In place of the lower middle class following the 
proletariat, it followed the great bourgeoisie, while 
the proletariat followed it and on a program such 
as an Azafia could dictate. 

Hind Sight 

On September 8, 1936, Jose Diaz, leader of the 
Spanish C.P., was to admit in writing that "the 
Azafia regime was very hesitating. . . . We knew 
that fascism could not triumph except through the 
military. The prime necessity was therefore to 
purge the army. . . . Unfortunately the latter (the 
People's Front government) did not realize that it 
would have to make sweeping changes instead of 
limiting itself to a shifting of officers if a ca- 
tastrophe was to be averted. . . . The putsch of 
July 18th surprised no one. Preparations had al- 
ready been completed before the elections. . . ." 

But this amazing confession was made after the 
uprising, at the high tide of mass initiative and 
revolution, when Azafia had retreated to his 
monastery and the Largo Caballero government 
with U.G.T. and C.N.T. representation was in the 
offing. It did not prevent the Jose Diazes from 
provoking the crisis of May 1937 in which they 
persuaded none other than Azafia to return once 
more from retirement (a treachery thrice repeated 





is surely the limit of conscious treason!) and to 
demand the resignation of Largo Caballero, oust 
the representatives of the 4,000,000-headed organ- 
ized labor movement of the U.G.T. and C.N.T. 
and set up, as the representatives of the "people," 
the miserable minority government of right-wing 
socialists, bourgeois republicans, and Basque 
Catholics, plus the C.P., with the ill-omened 
Azana as the real boss once more! It is this gov- 
ernment which has outlawed the P.O.U.M., mur- 
dered Andres Nin and is attempting to outlaw the 
G.N.T., the F.A.I, and the Caballero majority of 

The Comintern Decides the "Line" 
Long before the "People's Front" dispensation 
(back in 1933 when the situation was far less re- 
volutionary), the Comintern had declared: 

"The choice in Spain is between the dictatorship 
of the proletariat and fascist revolution." 2 

But now, in the face of the proletarian revolu- 
tion already begun, it gives the Spanish Commu- 
nist Party instructions to "defend and consolidate 
the democratic parliamentary republic which 
guarantees (shades of Marx and Lenin!) all the 
rights and liberties of the Spanish people." It in- 
structs "the defending and consolidating of the 
republic of the People's Front in which the ma- 
terial basis of fascism will be undermined" and, 
though the material basis of fascism is the private 
ownership of industry and agriculture, the same 

2 Inprecorr, Dec. 15, 1933, p. 1242. 

resolution directs the Spanish C.P. to fight "against 
the wholesale nationalization of industry" and for 
nationalization only in the case of factories be- 
longing to persons participating directly or in- 
directly in the rebellion." And it further endorses 
the "guarding and protecting of the property 
rights and interests of the small and middle own- 
ers. . . ." (All emphasis mine — B.D.W.) 3 

In the carrying out of this line, the Communist 
Party was more than zealous. In October 1936 it 
organized the middle peasants (kulaks) and rural 
bourgeoisie into a specially created "Peasant 
Union" to fight the twenty-year-old U.G.T. and 
C.N.T. agricultural workers unions — on the pre- 
tense that the latter were forcing the peasants into 
collectivization against their will. The kind of 
rural elements that rallied to this focal point for 
the defense of landed property may be judged by 
the typical case of Jativa where the former head 
of the local civil guard, who had arrested Julio 
Fuster Miralles, local leader of the U.G.T. agri- 
cultural union scores of times, became president 
of the C.P. peasants union! And hardened social- 
ist opportunists like Margaret Nelkin, who in 1932 
had told Ilya Ehrenburg: "I find myself forced 

3 AH the above quotations are taken from the "Deci- 
sion of Presidium of E.G.C.I. on Work of Communist 
Party in Spain," published in the Daily Worker of Jan. 
24, 1937. The secret instructions which accompanied and 
preceded them are not a matter of public record but 
that they went even farther on the road of counter- 
revolution can be seen by the actual conduct of the 
Communist Party of Spain. 



to use all possible means of restraining the peasants 
who want to revolt/' hastened to join the Commu- 
nist Party as more conservative than the Prieto- 
Negrin or Besteiro wings of the S.P. 

Union Cards for the Bourgeoisie 

In the countryside it organized the kulaks, the 
police agents, the caciques, the rural bourgeoisie. 
In the cities it became the organization of the 
professional bureaucrats, the small business men, 
speculators and owners of small and even large 
factories and agencies. In Madrid the former 
owner of the General Motors Agency expressed to 
me openly his expectation that Franco would win, 
his hatred of the anarchists, syndicalists and P.O. 
U.M., his plans to escape the country if necessary 
with his hoardings, his strategems to collect money 
undisturbed from his business as its "wage-earn- 
ing manager" and responsible representative. Be- 
lieving he was dealing with an ordinary American 
newspaperman, he offered to sell me rare master- 
pieces, including an El Greco, for smuggling out 
of the country. When I asked him how he got 
away with all this, he showed me his union mem- 
bership card in the U.G.T.! When I asked 
prostitutes at the Hotel Florida how they could 
get food there when soldiers on leave from the 
front were turned away, they too displayed their 
membership cards in the U.G.T. 

In Madrid that is an exception but in Catalonia 
there was virtually no U.G.T. when the civil war 
broke out. Here the C.N.T. had always had a 



virtual monopoly. But now the P.S.U.C. (Unified 
Socialist Party of Catalonia, affiliated with the 
Communist. Party of Spain) has taken up the 
cause of the Catalonian bourgeoisie with a will. 
Its numbers swelled in no time from a few hun- 
dred to many tens of thousands. Its membership 
are not, as they undoubtedly are in Madrid, made 
up largely of front-fighters. As in Madrid, they 
have the bourgeois republican bureaucracy, but in 
Catalonia the front fighters are overwhelmingly 
syndicalist, anarchist and In addition 
to the bureaucracy, they have recruited countless 
small and even middle business men, office work- 
ers, bank clerks and bank "managers" (the old 
managers and petty usurers fitted out with union 
cards) and they have gained complete control of 
the brand new Catalonian U.G.T. sectors which 
they have organized to fight Largo Caballero in 
the U.G.T. and to fight the C.N.T., the workers* 
organization in Catalonia. It was this "U.G.T." 
that was paraded in the columns of the Daily 
Worker as having repudiated Largo Caballero. It 
was these P.S.U.C. members who, while they fur- 
nished but few fighters for the front, supplied the 
shock troops of reaction in the rear that invaded 
the telephone exchange and syndicalist and anar- 
chist headquarters in May 1937, provoking a spon- 
taneous uprising even while Bilbao was in danger, 
because they were determined to disarm the Cata- 
lonian workers. 

A trade union page of their official organ would 
make a seasoned trade unionist's hair stand on end. 
One finds notices of a meeting of the "Employees of 



Bank, Bourse and Exchange," who of course adopt 
a resolution against the nationalization of banking; 
of the "Government Officials and Employees of the 
Generalidad" ; of the "Egg Dealers Section with 
Egg Cards of the Union of Dealers in Meat, Game 
and Poultry." (I assure the reader that these are 
literal translations!) All of Barcelona's petty, and 
not so petty, food speculators crowd into the 
U.G.T. the better to defend their vile profiteering 
in the necessities of life while Spain is burning. A 
typical entry from this source in the trade union 
columns of the Communist Press reads: 

"The Federation of Delicatessens, Foods and 
Allied Branches (U.G.T.) , composed of Retail 
Food Dealers of this City, . . . makes known its 
enthusiastic adherence to any campaign for the 
cheapening of food stuffs. ... It is ready to prove 
by producing the bills (familiar tradesman's lan- 
guage!) that the price rise is not made in the food 
establishments but its origins must be sought in 
the centers of production and wholesale middle- 
men." This is their answer to a demonstration 
against war profiteering in the necessities of life, 
and it makes it clear why such situations can exist, 
as described by Louis Fischer, that the militiamen 
can shiver in winter in the trenches of the snow- 
capped Guadarrama range while the stores are full 
of warm woolen things. The employees of these 
same food speculators, organized in the Food 
Workers Union of the C.N.T., answered them 
with a publication of price lists as proofs that 


their unionized employers were in fact guilty of 

But most amazing of all the affiliates of the 
U.G.T. of Catalonia is the celebrated G.E.P.C.I., 
the Federation of Owners of Small Commerce and 
Industry, with many separate employers "unions" 
affiliated to it! It is the most brilliant invention of 
the Communist Party in its guerrilla war against 
workers of Catalonia organized in the C.N.T. and 
against the P.O.U.M. and against all measures of 
socialization and revolution. It is in the "Peasants 
Union," the P.S.U.C, the Catalonian U.G.T., and 
C.P. of Spain that the real reserves of the much- 
heralded "fifth column" can be found. 

Now, the reader can begin to understand why 
there is a joke current in Spain that "if a man is 
too conservative to join the Republicans he joins 
the communists." H. H. Brailsford, who endorses 
the line of the Communist Party in Spain and 
opposes that of the P.O.U.M., wrote of the May 
days of 1937: 

"This was, like the Spartacist tragedy in Berlin, 
a struggle between reformism and the will to make 
a proletarian revolution. P.O.U.M. . . . represented 
the older and now heretical communist position." 

Of the Communist Party he wrote that it "now 
constitutes the moderate center party in republican 
Spain." And, of its new composition, he offered 
the explanation and boast of one of its Catalonian 
leaders : 

"Much of the new membership," said the lead- 
er in question, "has come from the ranks of the 
Equerra (left middle-class Republicans). The 



small middle class realizes that of the two parties 
ours is the stouter defender of small property." 

And so, he might have added, does the biggest 
bourgeoisie as well. From degeneration in analysis 
and tactics (ultra-leftist period) to degeneration 
in theory and principle (People's Front period) 
to degeneration in historic role (counter-revolution- 
ary driving force in Republican Spain) to degene- 
ration in the composition of its membership — for 
in the long run a party attracts the support of 
those it serves — such has been the road of degene- 
ration of the Communist Party of Spain. Today, 
nothing remains of its communism but the name 
and, upon that it daily brings disgrace that makes 
all true communists blush for shame. And, in 
pronouncing its traitor's epitaph, we cannot hide 
from ourselves the fact that we are also pronounc- 
ing the epitaph of the Communist International 
whose leadership dictated this policy. It can no 
more survive the murder of Andres Nin and the 
attack on the Spanish revolution than the Second 
International did the murder of Liebknecht and 
Luxemburg and the struggle against proletarian 
revolution in Germany and Russia. In its ranks 
are still many thousands of good proletarian re- 
volutionaries but, as a revolutionary international, 
it is committing suicide in Spain. 


"Trotskyism" and the Spanish Revolution 

NOTHING is more astonishing in the whole 
history of the Spanish civil war than the 
determination of the Stalinists to give Trotsky 
credit for the revolutionary sections of the U.G.T. 
and C.N.T., for the armed defense of workers 
rights by the Barcelona workers last May, and 
for the policies and existence of the P.O.U.M.! 
Certainly, it is not a falsehood calculated to in- 
jure or destroy Trotsky, but rather to rehabilitate 
him. And what is more, it is a credit he does not in 
the slightest deserve. 

As once the First International was regarded 
as at the bottom of every strike occurring in 
the world, and even of the Chicago fire and 
the eruption of Mount Vesuvius, so today Trotsky 
is given credit by the Stalin fiction-factory for 
every revolutionary movement in capitalist lands, 
and for leadership (ten years after his exile!) 
of every autonomous republic in the Soviet Union, 
control of every premier and party secretary, of 
every provincial soviet, of the general staff of the 
Red Army, the leadership of the G.P.U., twenty- 
seven out of seventy members of the Central 
Committee, two members of the Polburo, ten 
heads of the planning commission, the entire 
leadership of the youth, and every piece of spoiled 
pork, every mismated pair of breed cattle, every 




grain weevil and every train wreck occurring over 
the socialist sixth of the earth! Truly Paul Bunyan 
and his big blue ox shrink into Lilliputian in- 
significance before this newest titanic anti-hero 
of Soviet fork lore; and, as for Baron Mun- 
chausen, let him look to his laurels! It is time he 
applied for admission to the "Lenin" School at 
Moscow for elementary instruction in art of which 
he once passed as a master. 

The simple facts in the case are: 

1. The P.O.U.M. is not Trotskyist. Its member- 
ship and leadership come predominantly from the 
Communist Party, the Catalonian section of which 
was expelled in bloc during the ultra-left wave 
of 1929, for rejecting union-splitting, for advocat- 
ing the tactics of the united front, for opposing 
the stupid theory that the rest of the working 
class was "social fascist", for objecting to the 
mechanical transference of tactics to Spain which 
had no connection with Spanish realities. Its out- 
standing leader was Joaquin Maurin, repeatedly 
and bitterly attacked by Trotsky as "centrist", 
"opportunist", petty-bourgeois", "main misleader 
of the Spanish proletariat", "Menshevik traitor" 
and similar choice epithets. (Stalin, it appears, has 
no monopoly on the vocabulary of factional 
abuse.) In his gentler moods, Trotsky pronounced 
"Maurinism ... a mixture of petty bourgeois 
prejudices, ignorance, provincial science and petty 
politics", and concluded that "... the first step on 
the road to a revolutionary party in Spain must 
be to denounce the political vulgarity of Maurin- 


ism. In this, we must have no mercy". And, in 
justice to Trotsky's handful — I am not using the 
word factionally as is so often the custom but 
literally and descriptively — in justice to Trotsky's 
handful of followers in Spain be it said, this 
"first step" they have repeatedly taken and they 
are still marking time at the starting point in- 
dicated by their master on their "road to a revolu- 
tionary party in Spain". 

2. Two of the leaders of the P.O.U.M., Andres 
Nin and Juan Andrade, were former followers of 
Trotsky. They broke with him almost five years 
ago when they rejected his instructions to enter 
the Second International. They fused with the 
Maurinists to form the P.O.U.M. as a united 
organization in September 1935. Since then, Trot- 
sky has variously honored them as "a mere tail 
of the 'left' bourgeoisie", "the traitors Nin and 
Andrade" (this after the outbreak of the Spanish 
civil war!) and has declared that "in Spain, 
genuine revolutionists will no doubt be found who 
will mercilessly expose the betrayal of Maurin, 
Nin, Andrade and Co., and lay the foundation 
for the Spanish Section of the Fourth Interna- 
tional" (January 22, 1936). 

3. The Trotsky ites are not members of the P.O. 
U.M. The P.O.U.M. has a standing order for the 
expulsion of all Trotskyites. La Batalla has car- 
ried a number of articles polemizing against Trot- 
skyism, not in the "merciless", arrogant and in- 
sulting tone with which only Russians like Stalin 
and Trotsky can write of even their best political 



elements if they do not happen to serve their 
factional purposes in the party feud in the Soviet 
Union, but in a factual and theoretical form 
which both Trotskyites and Stalinites alike have 
long given up or forgotten. 

4. The Trotskyites in Spain (there were four- 
teen of them by actual count when I was there, 
and all but one or two were Belgian, French and 
Italian refugees, not Spaniards) have an organ of 
their own, appearing once every two months, 
called La Voz Leninista. Its main fire is directed 
against the P.O.U.M. Its issue of April 1937 de- 
clares: "You cannot argue with honesty that the 
P.O.U.M. is a truly revolutionary party ... It 
substitutes Maurinism for Leninism, rhetoric for 
dialectics, public demonstrations for political 
agitation ( ! ! ! What do you make of that, 
reader? — B.D.W.). . . . Under cover of following 
'the peculiarities of the Spanish revolution', the 
leaders of the P.O.U.M. have done everything 
possible to strangle it. . . ." 

During the May Days the Trotskyites were 
guilty of forging a leaflet in the name of the 
"P.O.U.M.-C.N.T.-F.A.I." with only the obscure 
initials "B.L." in small type to hint that it did 
not come from those organizations but, as a 
Hawkshaw or a Holmes might perhaps have been 
able to deduce, from the "Bolshevik-Leninists," 
whose very name, much less initials, was unknown 
to the Spanish workers. 

5. The July 1937 English Edition of the Bul- 
letin of the International Buro for the Fourth In- 


ternational, issued after the May events while the 
P.O.U.M. is underground and its best leaders 
assassinated or in jail for their revolutionary act- 
ivities, declares that the P.O.U.M. leaders are 
"Menshevik traitors who cover themselves with 
quasi-Bolshevik formulas." It urges "a split in the 
P.O.U.M." and, noting growing friendly rela- 
tions between the P.O.U.M. and the International 
Communist Opposition (the international group- 
ing to which our American I.G.L.L. belongs), the 
Bulletin concludes: "He who remains connected 
with the Brandlers . . . can only betray the prole- 
tariat on the very eve of the combat or during 
the combat." While the French Trotskyites were 
smashing the United Front for the Defense of the 
Spanish Revolution by their turning it into a 
divided front for attacks upon the P.O.U.M., the 
American Trotskyites were preparing an article 
(published in the Socialist Appeal) which de- 
clared: "Are there still comrades abroad who be- 
lieve the P.O.U.M. can be reformed, or that the 
demand for a new party would be premature?" 

Factionalism in All Countries 

Nowhere do these two Russian factions, Stalin- 
ism and Trotskyism, show their bankruptcy as con- 
structive revolutionary forces more clearly than in 
Spain. Here is a living revolutionary struggle. Here 
is the P.O.U.M., the best revolutionary party that 
the Spanish working class has produced— nay 
more, the best mass revolutionary party in the 
entire capitalist world. Stalinism, whose role in 



Spain has become directly counter-revolutionary, 
tries to crush it, demands its outlawry as the price 
of aid to republican-bourgeois Spain in tanks and 
planes and diplomacy. Surely one would think that 
Trotskyism would give the P.O.U.M. support — 
constructive and comradely criticism where neces- 
sary, and the most whole-hearted ungrudging 
solidarity and support. But no! Trotskyism, like 
Stalinism, believes that the fact that the Russians 
have made a victorious revolution gives them the 
monopoly of leadership of all movements through- 
out the world. In practice, neither can tolerate 
any movement anywhere in the world that does 
not recognize its leadership and factional aims in 
the controversy in the Russian party. The P.O. 
U.M. rejects the plan for the formation, at this 
time, of a Fourth International. Hence Trotsky 
makes open war upon it; calls for a split; sub- 
stitutes destructive criticism and division for con- 
structive criticism and support. In Spain, as else- 
where, the Trotskyites prove themselves to be in 
practice a disruptive and destructive force. 

But a still more puzzling question remains un- 
aswered: Why then does Stalinism seek to make 
Trotsky responsible for the P.O.U.M.? Why does 
it give the Trotskyites credit for a heroic revolu- 
tionary struggle, for a brilliant example of leader- 
ship under most difficult conditions, a leadership 
superior to that which the Communist Party of 
Germany gave the German workers when Hitler 
seized power, superior to that which Austrian 
socialists and communists gave the Austrian work- 


ers when Dollfuss seized power, the best leadership, 
with all its deficiencies, that any working class in 
open struggle has had since 1917? What can the 
motive of Stalin be in giving Trotsky a new lease 
on life, credit for a struggle which he has merely 
sabotaged and has not led? 

Trotsky has explained it in part with his theory 
of "amalgams." Stalin finds it convenient to amal- 
gamate all his opponents and critics in a single 
enemy mass- — Bukharin and Trotsky and Tucha- 
chevsky and Hitler and Franco and Japan. But 
amalgams do not explain the false prominence 
given to Trotsky in the amalgam. Trotsky seems to 
imagine that all the latest executions and frameups 
in the Soviet Union were made chiefly to frame 
him up. On the contrary, he has been made into 
a devil and given credit for leadership of the 
whole opposition to Stalin growing up in the 
Russian party and including every field of Soviet 
and party life, in order to frame up that new op- 
position. To do this, Stalin is ready to give Trot- 
skyism something of a new and undeserved lease 
on life in the capitalist world. And he is willing 
to credit him with a leadership, ten years after his 
exile, of all the departments of soviet life, of army, 
navy, G.P.U., planning commission, provincial 
parties and autonomous republics and their gov- 
ernments. That is why Paul Bunyan has become a 
pigmy, Ananias a symbol of timorous veracity, 
and Baron Muenchausen's adventures have come 
to sound as sober and truthful as the pages of 
Noah Webster or of the telephone book. 


Anarchism, Socialism and the P.O.U.M. 

THE SPANISH labor movement is about 
evenly divided between anarcho-syndical- 
ism and socialist trade unionism. Spain is the only 
country in the world where syndicalism and anar- 
chism are still mass forces. Anarchism has lingered 
longest in the countries of backward industry, 
weak bourgeoisie, numerous and radical peasantry, 
and strong survivals of feudalism and clericalism. 
It has survived longer and been more influential in 
Southern Europe than in Northern, in Latin 
countries than in Anglo-Saxon and Teutonic, in 
Catholic countries than in Protestant. In propor- 
tion as the bourgeoisie becomes powerful and 
modern industry and an industrial proletariat 
develop, anarcho-syndicalism tends to evolve and 
develop in the direction of Marxian socialism and 
socialist trade unionism. Therefore France is less 
anarchist than Italy; Italy less so than Spain. 

Importance of the Spanish Peasantry 

The Spanish industrial working class is largely 
a peasantry in overalls. But yesterday, it left its 
native village where it had lived for centuries, to 
enter into the great centers of newly developed 
modern industry. It is a peasantry for which there 


is no counterpart in Europe. Nearly a third of the 
rural population consists of landworkers. An amaz- 
ing proportion of these are organized or have 
passed through and remain sympathetic to labor 
organizations. Nearly another third of the rural 
population consists of share-croppers and yet an- 
other near-third consists of poor peasant families 
with insufficient landholdings for the maintenance 
of life at a human level. The layer of small and 
middle peasants owning sufficient land to main- 
tain a regular livelihood is so thin as to be lost in 
the total rural mass; while the large landowners, 
mostly absentees, and few in total number, own 
more than a third of the surface of Spain and 
maintain much of it out of cultivation or cul- 
tivated on the exorbitant rent, feudal dues, or 
share-cropping basis. The peasantry and landwork- 
ers as a whole make up one of the most rebellious 
rural populations in Europe. They are accustomed 
to spontaneous local insurrections against local 
tyrants, and to prolonged periods of guerrilla war- 
fare. The habit of seeing only the local tyrant, of 
the unplanned and spontaneous local uprising, of 
the taking of justice into their own hands, of 
"direct action" and guerrilla struggle, gives much 
of the ideology and outlook to the anarcho-syn- 
dicalist masses that have newly entered into in- 

Spanish Anarchism 

The theoretical arsenal of anarchism is derived 
from petty-bourgeois radicalism. It cherishes still 



the abstract shibboleths of the bourgeois Jacobin 
revolutionaries: liberty, equality, fraternity. There 
is no uniformity of ideology : liberty means first of 
all liberty for almost any "apostol" of anarchism 
to write almost anything he pleases in the great 
anarcho-syndicalist press. Gonzalo de Reparaz, 
venerable geographer and apologist for "enlight- 
ened" imperialism in North Africa, speaks in favor 
of his pet colonial scheme and the Federation 
Anarquista Iberica publishes it as a pamphlet with 
a warm and glowing introduction concerning the 
great "libertarian thinker who never compromised 
his ideas"! Anarchism is a species of courageous, 
unplanned, unscientific, and sporadic action on the 
part of men who are easily made drunk by glow- 
ing phrases, the political content of which they 
never trouble to analyze. Their idea of the revolu- 
tion is a series of "down withs" and "up withs" — 
down with the state, the church, authority; up 
with liberty, free thought, brotherhood and liber- 
tarian communism. They are not troubled with 
problems of strategy and tactics, have no clear 
conception of the road to victory, and as the 
virtue corresponding to that defect, they have the 
stubborn courage to fight and fight and fight 
regardless of the odds, and never to know when 
they are defeated. 

Their ideas on tactics are largely negative. The 
theory of "no proletarian politics" leads in practice 
to forcing the proletariat, when it wants to enter 
into politics, to support the left bourgeoisie, or 
remain passive, while the right bourgeoisie wins. 


Hence when they gave only a negative answer to 
the proletariat in 1931, the masses supported the 
republican bourgeoisie swelling a little clique of 
compromising and cowardly nonentities into a 
great force. The question then became: Who 
should take power, proletariat or bourgeoisie? The 
anarchist answer was: We do not believe in prole- 
tarian state power— down with all states! The 
result in practice was the bourgeois republican 
state power. Again, in 1936, the anarchists having 
no proposal for proletarian politics, fell an easy 
victim of the bourgeois politics of the "People's 
Front" and supported Azana in the elections! 

When the civil war began, they were forced to 
take sides once more. Again it was for the U.G.T. 
and C.N.T. to decide to take power. The G.N.T. 
rejected the idea of the proletarian state, and was 
forced therefore to support once more and help 
resuscitate the bourgeois state. Being obliged to 
enter politics, they postponed the carrying out of 
their theories "for the duration of the war" (What 
kind of revolutionary theories are those which must 
be postponed during civil war?) and they sent 
four anarcho-syndicalists into the government as 
cabinet ministers. In the cabinet, these Ministers 
of Justice, Commerce, Industry, and Health (all 
of whom I interviewed except the last) were ut- 
terly at sea, with no proletarian politics of their 
own, and proved easy instruments of reactionary 
bourgeois politics. The anarchist Minister of Jus- 
tice holds the nominal responsibility, and more 
than nominal, for all the reactionary decrees 



which restored the bourgeois civil code, the bour- 
geois judges, lawyers, courts, and the laws of cen- 
sorship, and political and labor repression under 
which the reaction is now being carried on. 

When Largo Caballero resigned, their position 
became untenable and they were forced out with 
him. Since then, they have expelled the heroes 
who led the May uprising, tamely submitted to 
a censorship of their press without even attempt- 
ing to carry on the publication and circulation 
of an underground press, have been shamefully 
silent (under censorship orders, of course) about 
the suppression of the P.O.U.M. and the mur- 
der of scores of the best members of the C.N.T. 
and F.A.I. and the jailing of thousands of their 
members by the Negrin government. They criti- 
cize him only as far as the censorship will permit, 
and their chief criticism is that he does not invite 
them back into the government! 

So much for the anarchist and syndicalist 
leadership. Of the rank and file, there is a brighter 
story to tell. They it is who formed the backbone 
of the proletarian insurrection on July 19, 1936 
which saved Spain from fascism. They it is who, 
despite cowardly and compromising leadership, 
formed the backbone of the May resistance to 
reaction in 1937. It is their pressure which pre- 
vents their leadership from going the whole hog 
in bourgeois politics. They have led in the seizure 
of the large landed estates and factories. They 
formed the "Friends of Durruti" which issued as 
its May Day Manifesto the following demands: 


"1. All power to the working class. 

"2. All economic power to the unions. 

"3. Democratic organs of the workers, peasants 
and combatants as expression of proletarian power. 

"4. As against the Generalidad (Gatalonian 
bourgeois government. — B.D.W.) the Revolution- 
ary Junta." (Junta means council or committee. 
— B.D.W.) 

And they it is who apparently determine the 
policy of the much more revolutionary paper 
C.N.T. of Madrid that has dared to defend the 
the P.O.U.M. despite the censorship and to car- 
ry on a propaganda for proletarian revolution 
and proletarian power. 

Clearly, anarcho-syndicalism is in transition in 
Spain: its right wing and dominant leadership 
have adapted their impossible negative position 
on politics to the requirements of bourgeois pol- 
itics, and are on the road that was followed by 
Jouhaux in France. Their most advanced masses 
and left wing — the industrial proletariat of Bar- 
celona and Madrid and many Catalonian towns, 
who made the revolution of July 1936, are, like 
their leaders, adapting themselves to politics, but 
it is to proletarian politics. They are on the road 
to Marxian revolutionary socialism and alliance or 
close union with the P.O.U.M. 

Spanish Socialism 

The center of anarchist trade unionsim has al- 
ways been Catalonia, where the bourgeoisie was 



radical and separatist and "federalist." This has 
left its impress upon Spanish anarchism. 

The center of socialist trade unionism has always 
been Madrid where the bourgeoisie was liberal, 
bureaucratic and centralist. This has left its im- 
press on Spanish socialism. Indeed, anarchism is 
an offshoot of petty-bourgeois radicalism as social- 
ism is an offshoot of petty-bourgeois republican 
liberalism in Spain. Both movements— or the best 
elements in them — are today under the hammer 
blows of civil war tending to converge in the 
direction of Marxian socialism. 

But historically, as we have indicated, the Union 
General de Trabajadores (U.G.T.), under the 
leadership of the Largo Caballero wing of the 
Socialist Party, has been republican, centralist, 
class-collaborationist (or in modern terms, "people's 
frontish"). It developed solid, moderate, well- 
organized trade unions with a high respect for 
union rules and constitutions, a fair degree of 
trade union democracy and an elementary class 
consciousness, more trade union than socialist in 

Franciscc Largo Caballero, solid proletarian 
leader who did not learn to read till he was twenty 
and who has gone seven times to jail for his con- 
victions, is no "Spanish Lenin" as he has so often 
been called. He does not have the capacity for 
rich and many-sided analysis, nor the ability to 
forsee events and to lead the masses with him. 
His strength lies in a certain deep and abiding 
faith in unionism and organization and the rank 


and file. He does not see things much ahead of the 
common rank and filer, but is strong because he 
gives eloquent and courageous expression to their 
views and needs when he does grasp them. Rarely 
has Largo Caballero taken a single step forward 
without history's giving him a swift kick from 
behind. He learns slowly, empirically. 

As a short sighted trade unionist trying to save 
union conditions under a military dictatorship, he 
actually made a deal with the Dictator Primo de 
Rivera and became an instrument of his govern- 
ment. It took him years to discover that military 
dictatorship was incompatible with the will and 
needs of the masses, their short range interests as 
well as their long range aims. Then he became a 
left republican and his Socialist Party helped the 
Azafias into power when the proletariat might 
have taken power itself in 1931. Thus, the negative 
attitude of the anarcho-syndicalists towards prole- 
tarian political power combined with the class- 
collaboration attitude of the socialists to give 
power to the feeble petty bourgeois republicans 
in 1931, as again in 1936, when at either time, 
had the proletariat had adequate leadership, it 
might easily and almost painlessly have taken 
power itself. 

Once more Largo Caballero learned his lesson, 
though slowly, and by 1934-5 was coming to com- 
prehend the need of a proletarian united front 
as against the bourgeois "people's front" and of 
workers government as against bourgeois republic. 
But just then the Communist Party of Spain made 



its disastrous right swing to the class-collaboration 
bourgeois-republican theory that Largo Caballero 
and his party were painfully struggling to aban- 
don. It thus confused and demoralized the hesitant 
and newborn socialist left wing and drove Largo 
Caballero backward toward the "People's Front" 
deal of 1936 which resuscitated Azafia. 

In the Fall of 1936 Largo Caballero thanks to 
his theoretical unclarity and old coalition ten- 
dencies, was once more used by the bourgeois re- 
publican-communist coalition as premier to pave 
the way for the restoration of bourgeois dictatorial 
rule. Once more he learned but slowly, but when 
the Communist Party provoked the Barcelona May 
resistance without even consulting him, and then 
faced him with an ultimatum that he must par- 
ticipate in forgery and frame up against the P.O. 
U.M. and the outlawry of the party of proletarian 
revolution, his sense of honesty was outraged and 
he became partially aware of the role he was play- 

"If the Caballero government were to apply the 
measures of suppression to which the Spanish 
section of the Communist International is trying to 
incite it," he wrote, "then it would come close to a 
government of Gil Robles or Lerroux; it would 
destroy the unity of the working class and expose 
us to the danger of losing the war and shipwreck- 
ing the revolution. ... A government composed 
in its majority of people from the labor movement 
cannot make use of methods that are reserved for 


reactionary governments and governments tend- 
ing toward fascism." 

The communist cabinet members then provoked 
a crisis by resigning and Largo Caballero fell into 
the trap of presenting a collective resignation of 
his cabinet to Azafia with the understanding that 
he was to form a new cabinet. Instead "the Gov- 
ernment of Victory" was formed under Negrin, 
with Prieto, old right-wing socialist and opponent 
of proletarian policy in the Socialist Party, as its 
real leader, and with Basque Catholics (the "Gov- 
ernment of Victory" promptly lost the entire 
Basque country!), bourgeois republicans, and 
Communist Party members making up the rest of 
the cabinet. 

Largo Caballero moved once more a little way 
to the left, but still lacks the energy and vision to 
assume a directly revolutionary policy. 

The Role of the P.O.U.M. 

There is one more force to be dealt with, the 
P.O.U.M.; but it is impossible to treat of it ade- 
quately in the limits of this brief series. To do so 
would be to treat all the tactical and strategical 
problems of the proletarian revolution in Spain, 
whose best representative it is. If Spain has not 
yet produced a "Spanish Lenin," the nearest thing 
to it is Joaquin Maurin, who has brilliantly ap- 
plied the general principles of Marxism to the in- 
tricate and peculiar specific problems of the 
Spanish revolution at every one of its stages. His 
party avoided the pitfalls of sectarianism in 1931, 



and, too weak to lead the proletariat to a struggle 
for power it has worked steadily to prepare itself 
and the masses for that necessary step. The P.O. 
U.M. initiated the movement for the Alianza 
Obrera (proletarian united front) in 1932 and 
1933, which by 1934 was strong enough to lead 
the Asturian uprising. It worked tirelessly to over- 
come the anarchist prejudices of the syndicalists 
and the bourgeois-liberal coalition tendencies of 
the socialists. It fought for trade union unity be- 
tween G.N.T. and U.G.T. when every one else 
considered that an absurdity. Today it is no longer 
a subject for ridicule though there are still many 
obstacles in its path. The P.O.U.M. fought the 
"People's Front" in 1935 but was not strong 
enough to prevent the syndicalists, anarchists, so- 
cialists, communists and republicans from coming 
together on the narrow program of amnesty for 
the victims of the Asturian uprising. Having failed 
to convince the masses, it had the choice of cut- 
ting itself off from them and boycotting the elec- 
tions, or setting up rival candidates with possibly 
enough votes to throw the closely contested elec- 
tion to Gil Robles and the fascists, or to go along 
under protest. This is did, criticising the People's 
Front coalition and giving notice that it would 
break with the Popular Front right after the 
election. It was true to its word. In July 1936 
it played a truly honorable role and swelled rapid- 
ly from about 6,000 to 50,000 members. Again it 
was not strong enough to lead a struggle for power 
and decided upon the strategy of maintaining 



contact with the masses and urging such struggle, 
but not attempting it except if it could win decisive 
sections of the million-headed U.G.T. and G.N.T. 
proletarian organizations for that effort. 

Its crucial test came in May 1937 when it ad- 
vised the workers of Barcelona against an armed 
struggle knowing that they were not strong enough 
nor clear enough in their aims, to take power. 
But being provoked, the Barcelona proletariat 
resisted disarmament and found itself forced on 
the streets. Then when the G.N.T. and F.A.I, 
abandoned their masses, the P.O.U.M., like the 
Bolsheviks in July 1917, decided to support the 
doomed movement in order to help the masses in 
a successful retreat. For this it was outlawed, and 
as Lenin and the Bolsheviks were framed as 
"Kaiser agents" in July 1917 by Kerensky and 
driven into hiding and outlawed, so the P.O.U.M. 
has been framed as a "Franco agent" in May 
1937, Nin murdered and the party driven under- 
ground. But thereby the little party has grown 
up and gone over from revolutionary propaganda 
in the abstract to the real leadership of the most 
advanced sectors of the Spanish proletariat. 
Despite the savage persecution, the P.O.U.M. has 
not been crushed. Its papers appear underground: 
La Batalla as an uncensored weekly circulates in 
tens of thousands of copies; millions of leaflets 
have been distributed; the party grows in 
strength and determination and wins respect, ad- 
miration, support, adherents alike in the camp of 
Socialism and anarcho-syndicalism. 




What's Ahead for Spain? 

IT IS difficult to forecast the future of Spain 
for there are at this moment too many "un- 
known quantities." One of them is the ultimate 
extent of foreign intervention, a second is the near- 
ness of the next world war; a third is the rapidity 
with which the Spanish proletariat will find its 
head and rally to the program of the P.O.U.M. 
which alone promises the possibility of victory. 

As to the "Government of Victory," it has 
brought, as was inevitable from its composition 
and nature, nothing but defeats: defeat in inter- 
national diplomacy where it has become a play- 
thing in the treacherous hands of British and 
French diplomats; defeat on the field of battle 
where it has destroyed the initiative of the masses 
and consolidated Franco's forces. Franco can only 
be defeated by a revolutionary war. A revolution- 
ary war can only be waged by a revolutionary 
government. If the Spanish government would 
give the land to the peasants, the factories to the 
workers, then the workers and peasants on Franco's 
side would be stirred to desertion, to insurrection, 
to guerrilla warfare. If they would give freedom 
to the North African colonies, the Moorish armies 
would melt away and come over to their side. A 
revolutionary policy in Spain would arouse the 


slumbering British labor movement and French 
masses and they would bring such pressure on 
their governments as would force them to behave 
differently, or such governments would become 
so unpopular that they would fall. A revolutionary 
military policy with officers from the workers or- 
ganizations and revolutionary military commissars 
where old officers had to be used for technical 
purposes, would put an end to the chain of 
betrayals which have lost Malaga, Cordoba, Bil- 
bao, Santander, and a half dozen other strong- 
holds. A revolutionary policy would stir the Italian 
peasants to revolt, who lose no love on Mussolini 
and have no desire to fight his war on Spanish 
workers and peasants. 

"A people that wants to win its independence," 
Engels once wrote, "cannot limit itself to ordinary 
means of war. Uprising in mass, revolutionary war, 
guerrillas everywhere, that is the only means 
through which a small nation can get the better 
of a big one, a less strong army be put in a posi- 
tion to resist a stronger and better organized one." 

But from uprising in mass, from general insur- 
rection, the reactionary government shrinks in 
fear. Now as always, the bourgeois republicans 
are more afraid of the armed working class than 
of Franco, more afraid of socialism than fascism. 
So the Government of Defeats is also the govern- 
ment of Reaction. It disarms the revolutionary 
working class and their organizations; it lessens 
each day the effectiveness of its revolutionary 
appeal to the masses behind the lines of General 





Franco, helping him materially in the consol- 
idation of the fascist rear. Its methods of war- 
fare, like its methods of rule, approach closer and 
closer to his. It establishes a censorship, not mili- 
tary but political, on the workers organizations. 
It talks of the democratic republic but violates 
civil liberties, abolishes freedom of the press for 
the U.G.T. and C.N.T., that is for the majority 
of its people, and becomes a minority dictatorship 
ruling with the bayonet. It outlaws the proletarian 
revolution and the party that gives expression to 
it.. It uses military force to oust Largo Caballero 
from the leadership of his unions, on the pretense 
that it is backing up the will of provincial com- 
mittees which exist only on paper, have never 
paid dues, and represent no one. A mysterious 
Asturian Federation delegation appears and pre- 
tends to speak for the Asturian miners. The 
Asturian miners repudiate it, but Largo Caballero 
is prevented from publishing the repudiation (by 
a "military" censorship to protect "military 
secrets") prevented from speaking, put under 
virtual arrest. Each day fresh workers of the P.O. 
U.M., C.N.T., U.G.T., F.A.I, crowd the jails. How 
can they defeat Franco when there are over 10,000 
proletarian prisoners in Negrin's jails, the best 
fighting blood of Spain? Each day the "Govern- 
ment of Victory" meets fresh defeats. Each day 
the government of the "democratic republic" takes 
fresh steps towards naked bourgeois-military dic- 
tatorship and reaction. And step by step, behind 

the scenes, moves are made for a shameful peace 
at the expense of the Spanish masses. 

Yet in such historical moments, the movement 
is never one-way but two-way. Anglo-French in- 
trigues, and, of a different order but also anti- 
revolutionary, Russian intrigue in Spain; militar- 
ization, bureaucratization, bourgeois dictatorship 
and reaction in Republican Spain, betrayals and 
defeats that strengthen Franco's and Mussolini's 
hands — these are what are developing on the sur- 
face, the upper current of Spanish life. 

But down below there is the counter-current. 
Fresh masses of the U.G.T. and C.N.T. moving to 
the left, forcing the hesitant and confused Largo 
Caballero leftward, forcing the anarchist leaders 
leftward, moving faster than their leaderships, 
threatening to go beyond them, beginning to 
stream into the party of clear proletarian revolu- 
tion, the P.O.U.M. The P.O.U.M. itself has won 
its spurs in the difficult May Days ; it has clarified 
its program, met the test of fire and repression, 
comes out stronger, more respected, better able 
to fight. 

The two-way development will continue for 
some time to come. It is a race between the gov- 
ernment of defeat, compromise and reaction, and 
the party of proletarian revolution. Both are 
making gains, each after its fashion. The reaction 
gains in naked power; the revolution gains in 
mass clarity and support. There is no forseeing 
how many stages this struggle will go through. 
There is no predicting the ultimate result. But 





this much is clear, the Spanish masses will never 
tolerate in the long run either a divided Spain, or 
a fascist Spain, or a military dictatorship of the 
bourgeoisie resting on bayonets that fly the torn 
and treason-soiled flag of a bourgeois democracy 
that has no real roots in the Spanish social struc- 

The struggle will be a long one. More than three 
quarters of a century ago Marx wrote of the 
Spanish people: 

"Spain has never succeeded in acquiring the 
latest French style, so fashionable in 1848, of 
beginning and ending a revolution in the space of 
three days." Its civil wars have all of them been 
long and stubborn. The political struggles of the 
nineteenth century in Spain embrace cycles of 
three to nine years and even more, and they kept 
Spain in almost constant turmoil. The war for 
independence against Napoleon lasted from 1808 
to 1814 (and Napoleon was mightier than Mus- 
solini but the Spaniards won in the end). The 
struggle for a liberal monarchy followed, 1820-23, 
succeeded by a fresh outbreak in 1924 which lasted 
till 1843 — a total cycle of twenty-three years of 
almost continuous civil war. The struggle over the 
first republic and Carlist wars lasted from 1868 
to 1878. The present cycle of civil war, national 
revolutionary defense and proletarian revolution, 
will not prove an exception. 

Already the Spanish proletariat has written 
bright and heroic, nay imperishable pages, in its 
struggle against capitalism, fascism and foreign 

invasion. After the proletarian defeats in Germany 
and Austria, it has turned the tide of proletarian 
struggle, carried the international labor move- 
ment out of its low ebb of defeats and demoraliza- 
tion, set an example which stirs and awakens 
revolutionary forces everywhere. And in the fire of 
struggle itself, the Spanish proletariat is forging 
the party of proletarian revolution which will be- 
come ever more definitely its leader in its strug- 
gle for victory and power. 

The duty of the labor movement of the rest of 
the world is clear: learn the lessons of the Spanish 
civil war; expose the traitorous policy of the 
People's Front and drive its advocates out of the 
proletarian camp; give all the help within our 
power to the Spanish proletariat in its struggle and 
to the Workers Party of Marxist Unification, better 
known by its Spanish initials as the P.O.U.M., the 
party that leads the revolution and will, with in- 
ternational solidarity and aid, yet lead the Spanish 
working class to victory! 




The Thesis of Andres Nin 

The following is a draft prepared by Andres Nin for 
the purpose of discussion and adoption by the P.O U M 
at its second congress scheduled to take place this sum- 
mer. It was published on April 5, 1937 in "Inter- 
nal Discussion Bulletin" with a request for comment 
amendment or proposals for a "counter-thesis"— which 
may sound strange to Communist Party members who 
have forgotten what a convention discussion should be 

The preparations for the convention were interrupted 
by the suppression of the P.O.U.M., the arrest of all its 
leaders and most capable and devoted members the 
framing-up of Andres Nin as "an agent of Franco" and 
his subsequent murder in jail without trial. The thesis 
even without the corrections and improvements in de- 
tail which would doubtless have resulted from the pre- 
convention discussion, is one of the great documents of 
international Marxism. Few political papers, since the- 
days when Lenin was at the head of the Communist In- 
ternational, have the revolutionary boldness, the insight 
the luminous thought and vivid language that character- 
ize this last important writing from the hands of Nin. 
Let the reader compare it with the stale, sausage- 
machine theses of the ultra-left period and the fuzzy 
unscrupulous and treacherous language of Comintern 
documents today, and he will understand why these 
preachers of confusion and outworn bourgeois catch- 
words, could not tolerate the existence pf a clear revolu- 
tionary voice which reminded them of their own past 
and of the true meaning of the ideals and doctrines in 
the name of which they profess to speak. That is the 
reason why Nin lies dead, why his body, like those of 


Liebknecht and Luxemburg under similar circumstances 
was secretly buried in the dead of night in some ditch 
or sewer on the outskirts of Madrid, why his great voice 
is stilled and his clear brain has ceased to function in 
the cause of the working class. 

But such voices cannot be stilled: his thesis is being 
discussed in secret in the great cities and villages of Spain 
and among the troops that are holding their lines des- 
perately against fascism, in the face of the sabotage of 
their own government. It continues to guide and in- 
spire the P.O.U.M. which he led, and the Spanish work- 
ing class which is rallying in increasing numbers to the 
revolutionary standard he held high. 

Our readers should study this document, read it and 
reread it, for it is full of lessons to revolutionists, to 
conscious workers everywhere. It permits us to judge 
the shabby forgeries perpetrated against Nin, to judge 
between his party of proletarian revolution and the offi- 
cial Communist Party of Spain, agent and executioner 
for the counter-revolution; it throws a great light upon 
the problems of present day Spain, upon the People's 
Front, upon the Comintern. It calls aloud to us to give 
full support to the P.O.U.M. which is struggling for 
these things without Nin or Maurin to lead it any long- 
er and with all the rest of its experienced leaders crowd- 
ed in the jails of Republican Spain in danger of sharing 
his fate. We must enable the P.O.U.M., by our support, 
to reconstitute itself underground, to spread this thesis 
in hundreds of thousands and millions of copies so that 
the voice of Andres Nin, which they tried to still, may 
be heard by every worker thruout the Spanish land. 

* * * 

The Nature of the Spanish Revolution 

1. Developments in Spain since the Constituent Con- 
gress of the P.O.U.M., held in Barcelona on September 
29, 1935, have confirmed the fundamental position of 
our party. We had affirmed that the struggle was not 
between bourgeois democracy and fascism but between 



fascism and socialism, and we were absolutely correct 
in calling our revolution a democratic-socialist one. 

The experiences of 1931-1935 amply demonstrated 
that the bourgeoisie was impotent to solve the funda- 
mental problems of the bourgeois-democratic revolution, 
and showed the necessity of the working class to place 
itself decidedly at the front of the movement for eman- 
cipation, for the realization of the democratic revolution 
and for the initiation of the socialist revolution. The 
persistence of democratic illusions and the organic al- 
liance with the Republican parties were to lead inevit- 
ably to the strengthening of reactionary positions, and 
in the near future, to the triumph of fascism as the 
only way out of a capitalist regime incapable of solving its 
internal contradictions within the frame of bourgeois 
democratic institutions. 

The lessons of Asturias, where the proletariat by de- 
cisively seizing leadership of the movement of October 
1934, dealt a mortal blow against reaction, and the les- 
son of Catalonia, where during these same days we could 
once more see clearly the incapacity and inconsistency 
of the petty-bourgeois parties, were not taken advantage 
of sufficiently, due to the absence of a great revolution- 
ary party. The socialist and communist parties, instead 
of taking advantage of the lesson of October by push- 
ing forward the Workers Alliance which had produced 
such splendid results in Asturias, and instead of canal- 
izing all the forces towards assuring the hegemony of 
the working class, once more shackled the proletariat, 
thru the People's Front, to the bourgeois Republican par- 
ties which had failed so miserably in October and which 
had virtually disappeared from the political scene. 

The period immediately preceding the elections of Feb- 
ruary 16th is characterized by the bringing back to life 
of the Republican parties, thanks to the socialist and of- 
ficial communist parties, and also to a certain rebirth 
of democratic illusions among the masses, which seem 
to have been created more by the strong desire to se- 
cure the release of the political prisoners condemned for 
action in the October days than by confidence in the 



Republican parties. This desire was so unanimous and 
the movement so all-powerful that our party was forced 
to join it, but it completely preserved its personality and 
independence and exercised strong and pitiless criticism 
of Republican politics. This tactic, which saved us from 
complete isolation, permitted us to approach closely to 
large masses who until that time were inaccessible to us, 
and among whom we were now able to spread our views. 
The action of the left Republicans in power after Feb- 
ruary 16, was an absolute confirmation of our predic- 
tions. From the very first moment, a complete divorce 
took place between the government and the powerful 
impulse of the masses who forced the government to 
adopt the amnesty decree and initiated a vast and pro- 
found strike movement. 

From below there was clamor for rapid and energetic 
action for a policy of revolutionary achievement and 
for rigorous measures against the reaction which each 
day was becoming more and more insolent. 

From above was carried on a policy of passivity, of 
contemplation; a policy whose slogan seemed to be — 
change nothing, frighten no one, do not hurt the inter- 
ests of the exploiting classes. The result of this policy 
was the fascist military rising of July 19, 1936. The 
roar of the cannon and the rattle of the machine guns 
awakened the proletariat, still clinging to democratic 
illusions, from its deep slumber. The electoral victory 
of February 16th had not touched the basic problems 
of our land. The fascist reaction applied more forceful 
arguments than the paper ballot. Taking advantage of 
the privileged position which the Republican government 
itself had extended to them by maintaining them in the 
most important strategic posts, the great majority of the 
officers of the army, in the service of reaction, unleashed 
civil war. 

The Fascist Uprising and the Workers Revolution 
2. The military-fascist rising provokes formidable re- 
action in the working class which throws itself resolutely 
into the combat and, despite passivity in some cases and 



betrayal in others, despite the Republican parties whose 
official representatives refused to arm the workers, de- 
feats the insurrection in the most important industrial 
centers of the country. 

This determined intervention by the workers has great 
political consequences. The organs of bourgeois power 
are in reality destroyed. Everywhere revolutionary com- 
mittees are created. The permanent army is overthrown 
and replaced by militiamen. The workers take posses- 
sion of the factories. The peasant seize the lands. 
Churches and convents are destroyed by the purifying 
fire of revolution. In a few hours, or at most in a few 
days, the workers and peasants, thru direct revolutionary 
action, solve the problems which the Republican bour- 
geoisie has been unable to solve in five years — that is 
to say, the problems of the democratic revolution, and 
the working class initiates the socialist revolution by 
expropriating the bourgeoisie. 

For some time, the organs of bourgeois power are noth- 
ing but a shadow. The real power is in the hands of 
the revolutionary committees which form a close net- 
work in every region of the land not in the hands of the 

Nevertheless, in this first period, revolutionary impulse 
is much more vigorous in Catalonia than in the rest of 
Spain. There is no doubt but that Catalonia marches 
at the head of the revolution thanks to the influence 
of the P.O.U.M., the C.N.T. and the F.A.I., which did 
not form part of the People's Front and where therefore 
democratic-Republican opportunism penetrated less deep- 
ly into the ranks of the working masses. 

The fascist-military insurrection then, destined prin- 
cipally to strangle the revolutionary working-class move- 
ment, accelerates it at a dizzying speed and clearly places 
the question of power: either fascism or socialism. What 
was planned as a counter-revolution turns into a proletar- 
ian revolution with all of its distinguishing characterist- 
ics: weakening of the bourgeois state machinery, de- 
composition of the army, of the forces of compulsion of 
the state, of the judicial institutions, arming of the 



working class which attacks and weakens the right of pri- 
vate property, direct intervention by peasants who are 
expropriating the landowners, and finally the conviction 
on the part of the exploiting classes that their rule has 

During the early weeks that followed July 19th, the 
conviction that the past cannot return, that the demo- 
cratic republic has been outlived, is general. And the 
revolution is so powerful that the petty-bourgeois parties 
themselves proclaim the demise of the capitalist regime 
and the necessity of undertaking the socialist transforma- 
tion of Spanish society. 

The only immediate way out of the situation was to 
coordinate the push of the masses and to institute a 
strong government based upon the organizations born in 
the fire of revolution as a direct expression of the will 
of those who were playing a predominant role in the 
struggle against fascism. Such a strong government could 
only have been a Workers and Peasants Government. 
This position maintained by the P.O.U.M. since the very 
moment when the character of the struggle became clear, 
came up against the opposition of all the parties in the 
People's Front, and in first place, against that of the 
Communist Party, and the indecision of the C.N.T. whose 
anarchist ideology prevented it from realizing the fun- 
damental and decisive importance of the problem of 

In the meantime, with the aid of a tenacious and 
systematic campaign of propaganda, two views of tragic 
consequence for working class victory, were developed. 
The first of these views was expressed in the term: "First 
win the war, then make the revolution." According to 
the second view, which is a direct consequence of the 
first, in the present civil war, the workers and peas- 
ants are fighting for the maintenance of the parlia- 
mentary democratic republic and therefore one cannot 
speak of the proletarian revolution. Later, this concep- 
tion acquired an unexpected corollary — namely, that 
this democratic struggle which bleeds and ruins the 



country is a war for national independence and for the 
defense of the fatherland. 

Our party adopted, from the very first moment, an at- 
titude of decided opposition to these counter-revolution- 
ary concepts. 

War and Revolution Are Inseparable 

3. The formula: "First win the war, then make the 
revolution" is fundamentally false. In the struggle now 
going on in Spain, war and revolution are not only two 
inseparable terms, but synonymous. The civil war, a 
state of more or less prolonged, violent conflict between 
two or more classes of society, is one of the manifesta- 
tions — the sharpest — of the struggle between the prole- 
tariat on the one hand and the big bourgeoisie and land- 
owners on the other, who, frightened by the revolutionary 
advance of the proletariat, attempt to establish a bloody 
dictatorship which would consolidate their class privi- 
leges. The struggle on the field of battle is only a pro- 
longation of the struggle in the rear. War is a form of 
politics. It is politics which directs the war in any case. 
Armies always defend the interests of a given class. It is 
a question as to whether the workers and peasants on 
the battle-field are fighting for the bourgeois order or 
for a socialist society. War and revolution are insep- 
arable at the present moment in Spain as they were in 
France in the 18th century and in Russia in 1917-1920. 
How can we separate the war from the revolution when 
the war is only the violent culmination of the revolu- 
tionary process which has been developing in our coun- 
try from 1930 up to the present moment? 

In reality, the formula: "First win the war . . . ." 
hides the purpose of frustrating the revolution. Revo- 
lutions must be made when favorable circumstances exist 
and history does not offer them to order. If no advan- 
tage is taken of moments of greatest revolutionary ten- 
sion, the enemy class reconquers lost positions and ends 
by strangling the revolution. The history of the 19th 
century and the more recent post-war period (Germany, 



Austria, Italy, China, etc.) presents us with abundant 
proofs of this. To postpone the revolution until after 
the war has been won means to give free reign to the 
bourgeoisie who, taking advantage of the diminishing 
revolutionary tension, reestablishes its machinery of re- 
pression in preparation for the systematic restoration of 
the capitalist regime. 

War, as we have already said, is a form of politics. 
The political regime always serves a definite class of 
which it is the expression and the instrument. While 
the war is on, some kind of politics must be followed: 
In the service of whom? In the interest of what class? 
The whole question lies here. And the guarantee of a 
rapid and certain victory at the front lies in a firm revo- 
lutionary policy in the rear — capable of inspiring the 
fighters with the fire and confidence indispensable for 
the struggle; of arousing the revolutionary' solidarity of 
the international proletariat, the only solidarity upon 
which we can count; to create a solid war industry, to 
rebuild, on a socialist basis, the economy broken down 
by civil war; to forge an efficient army in the service 
of the cause of the proletariat, which is the cause of 
civilized humanity. The instrument of such revolution- 
ary politics can be only a Workers and Peasants Govern- 

The Reformist Menace in Spain 

4. As in Russia in 1917 and in all of Europe after the 
imperialist war, the greatest obstacle to the victorious ad- 
vance of the proletarian revolution is reformism, agent 
of the bourgeoisie in the ranks of the workers. But here 
in our own country, we have the paradoxical case that 
the most characteristic exponent of castrating reform- 
ism is precisely the Communist Party of Spain and its 
affiliate the Unified Socialist Party of Catalonia (P.S. 
U.C.), member of an international, the Communist In- 
ternational, which was born as a consequence of an 
ideologic and organic break with reformism. Prisoner 
of the Soviet burocracy which has turned its back upon 
the international proletarian revolution, it has pinned its 



hopes upon the "democratic" countries and the League 
of Nations; official communism has definitely aband- 
oned revolutionary class politics and has turned towards 
the alliance with bourgeois-democratic parties (Popular 
Front) and is psychologically preparing the masses for 
the next war. From this comes the watchword: "Fight 
for the parliamentary democratic republic", complement- 
ed by: "Fight for national independence" which, trans- 
lated into international politics, signifies: subjection of 
the revolution in Spain to the interests of the imperialist 
Anglo-French block, of which the Soviet Union is it- 
self a part. The fatal consequences of such policy have 
not been long in making themselves felt: Reformism, 
speculating on the difficulties of the war and the possi- 
bilities of international complications and aided effec- 
tively by the representatives of the Stalinist burocracy, 
who, in turn, have speculated on the help lent by the 
U.S.S.R., has succeeded in undermining systematically 
the revolutionary conquests, and is preparing the ground 
for the counter-revolution. Our elimination from the 
government of the Generalidad, the attempts to form a 
"neutral, democratic" Popular Army, the suppression of 
the militias in the rear and the reconstitution of public 
order on the basis of reestablishing the old machinery 
and press censorship, are the most important steps of this 
counter-revolutionary process, which will continue inex- 
orably until the revolutionary movement is completely 
crushed if the Spanish working class does not react rapid- 
ly and vigorously, reconquering positions won in the 
July days and pushing the socialist revolution forward. 
In the present situation, unmistakably revolutionary, 
the watchword — "Fight for the parliamentary democratic 
Republic" can only serve the interests of the counter-revo- 
lutionary bourgeoisie. Today more than ever, "the word 
democracy is nothing more than a cover with which they 
wish to prevent the revolutionary people from rising 
and undertaking freely and fearlessly, on its own ac- 
count, the building of a new society." (Lenin). As 
revolutionary Marxism has taught us, the democratic 
republic is only a masked form of the bourgeois dictator- 



ship. In the period of the height of capitalism, when the 
latter still represented a progressive factor, the bour- 
geoisie could permit itself the luxury of conceding to 
the working class a series of "democratic" liberties — 
considerably restricted to be sure, and limited by the 
fact of bourgeois economic and political domination. To- 
day, in the epoch of imperialism, the "final stage of capi- 
talism," the bourgeoisie, in order to overcome its internal 
contradictions, finds it necessary to resort to the setting 
up of brutal dictatorships (fascism) which destroy even 
these miserable democratic liberties. Under these cir- 
cumstances, the world finds itself facing a fatal di- 
lemma: socialism or fascism. The "democratic" regimes 
are of necessity fleeting, inconsistent and, to make mat- 
ters worse, the lulling and disarming of the workers with 
"democratic" illusions effectively prepares the ground 
for fascist reaction. 

The Stalinists, in order to justify their monstrous be- 
trayal of revolutionary Marxism, argue that the demo- 
cratic republic they have in mind will be a democratic 
republic different from the others. It will be a "popular" 
republic from which will have disappeared the material 
base of fascism. That is to say, they scandalously toss 
aside the Marxist theory of the state as an instrument 
of domination of one class and fall into the utopia of 
the democratic state "above classes", in the service of 
the people — with the object of mystifying the masses and 
preparing the consolidation, pure and simple, of the 
bourgeois regime. A republic from which the material 
basis of fascism has disappeared ca» only be a socialist 
republic, since the material basis for fascism is capi- 

The Attitude of the Working Class Tendencies 

5. "Anti-fascism" in the abstract— shrewdly managed 
by the reformists who are preparing politically and psy- 
chologically for intervention in the next imperialist world 
war, presented as a struggle between the fascist and demo- 
cratic countries — is the antidote to the proletarian revo- 



lution, the expression of the policy of "national unity" 
against which Marxism has always placed the class strug- 

If the dilemma before which history has placed the 
Spanish proletariat is "fascism or socialism", the fun- 
damental problem of the hour is the problem of power. 
All the others — the question of military organization, of 
war industry, of supplies, of economic reconstruction, of 
internal safety, etc., are subordinate to this fundamental 
problem whose solution depends upon the class in whose 
hands power lies. 

What is the attitude of the different sectors of the 
working class movement toward this problem? 

The Communist Party, the Spanish Socialist Party 
and the Unified Socialist Party of Catalonia advocate 
the policy of the People's Front, which presupposes the 
exercise of power by the "anti-fascist" governments, of 
coalition with the bourgeoisie and with a bourgeois-demo- 
cratic program. 

The C.N.T. and the F.A.I, resolutely declare them- 
selves partisans of the socialist revolution and therefore 
bitter enemies of the restoration of the democratic re- 
public; but their anti-state tradition and systematic pro- 
paganda in favor of libertarian communism, carried on 
during many years, makes difficult their evolution to- 
wards the concept of proletarian power. 

Our attitude towards these different sectors is de- 
termined by the role they play or can play in the course 
of the development of actual events. 

The Communist Party of Spain and the Unified So- 
cialist Party of Catalonia, by their present political po- 
sition, directly inspired by the Communist International 
— instrument, in turn, of Soviet burocracy — must be con- 
sidered as ultra-opportunist and ultra-reformist organi- 
zations. For their policy of class-collaboration, for their 
complete renunciation of the fundamental principles and 
tactics of revolutionary Marxism, for their declared and 
active aid in the plans for strangling the Spanish revo- 
lution, plotted by national and international capitalism, 
the C.P. and the P.S.U.C. play the role of agents of 



the bourgeoisie in the working class movement; they 
are more dangerous for the revolution than the bour- 
geoisie itself, since the Marxist label with which they 
adorn themselves facilitates their penetration into the 
ranks of the proletariat. The supreme interests of the 
revolution demand constant and implacable criticismof 
the political positions of these parties, criticism which 
will contribute effectively in accentuating the differen- 
tiation within them, thereby drawing the proletarian ele- 
ments towards a revolutionary position. 

The actual events have clearly shown the ideologic 
inconsistency of the so-called "left" of the Spanish So- 
cialist Party, whose revolutionary phraseology had given 
birth to so many hopes among a goodly number of the 
vanguard of the working class. Virtually notiiing re- 
mains of the "left" tendencies which existed on the eve 
of July 19th. 

There is no fundamental difference between the ten- 
dencies of the "right," "left" or "center"; all of _ them 
are dominated by a common denominator — the policy of 
the People's Front — which leads them to renounce ihe 
revolutionary positions of the proletariat and to play the 
game of the democratic bourgeoisie. But at the base of 
the party it is easy to discern profound uneasiness, pro- 
duced principally by the attempts of Stalinism to absorb 
the party — as it has already absorbed the youth — and to 
subject it to the policy of the Third International. Many 
of the old militants look with grief and with a dumb 
feeling of despair and protest upon this work of destruc- 
tion, systematically carried out against the organization 
which they built with so much effort, and upon the 
introduction of methods which are repugnant to their 
socialist conscience and the traditions of their party. On 
the other hand, the scandalously opportunist policy of 
the C. P., characterized by a monstrous deforming of 
Marxism, arouses a lively and justified fear among the 
thousands of workers sincerely revolutionary who have 
joined the Spanish Socialist Party and who realize with 
alarm the penetration of the Stalinists into their ranks. 
The mission of our party should be to help those ele- 





ments to see the situation clearly, trying to guide them 
along the correct path in a friendly way, that is to say, 
to make them understand the necessity of a clear policy 
of proletarian intransigeance served by a strong revo- 
lutionary party. Temporary agreements are desirable 
with those elements who, without fully accepting our 
revolutionary positions, are ready to fight against the 
Stalinist burocracy and its method of corruption. 

The G.N.T. and the F.A.I, have agreed with us from 
the very first moment, in recognizing that the war and 
the revolution are inseparable ; they have also agreed with 
us in the estimate of some fundamental problems — such 
as the question of the army, public order, etc. But the 
vacillations of these organizations on the question of pow- 
er, and their strictly syndicalist position which tends to 
eliminate parties (which does not hinder their estab- 
lishing actual collaboration with socialists and official 
communists thru the U.G.T.) — these things have tended 
to prevent our agreement from having the fruitful re- 
sults that we have desired. 

Anarcho-syndicalism has notably corrected its previous 
positions, but the weight of tradition has prevented it 
from carrying these corrections to their logical conse- 
quences. Thus, for example, it has renounced its in- 
veterate apoliticalism by entering the government of 
the republic of Catalonia — that is to say, entering the 
government of collaboration with bourgeois Republican 
parties — without daring to adopt an affirmative attitude 
towards the question of the formation of a Workers and 
Peasants Government, which would be more easily un- 
derstandable to the workers of the C.N.T. If the C.N.T. 
and the F.A.I, would adopt this attitude, the victorious 
destiny of our revolution would be guaranteed. Only 
the conquest of power would permit the rapid and ef- 
fective solution of all the problems which the war and 
the revolution have posed. 

Without giving up tenacious and patient work to- 
wards leading the masses of the C.N.T. to this position, 
so urgently demanded by the actual situation, we should 
orientate all our force towards bringing about closer re- 

lations between our party and the organizations of the 
C.N.T. and the F.A.I., our natural allies under the pres- 
ent circumstances. The very important agreements al- 
ready manifested and the necessity of defending the revo- 
lution in danger, demand an effective alliance which 
does not presuppose by any means the giving up of mu- 
tual criticism nor the renunciation of the defense of our 
respective positions. 

The Conquest of Power and the Workers and 
Peasants Government 

6. The imperious duty of the moment then is the con- 
quest of power by the proletariat in alliance with the 
peasants and the formation of a Workers and Peasants 
Government, the only government capable of organizing 
the broken-down economy and establishing a revolution- 
ary order in the country in accordance with the needs 
of the people and the war. 

This government, in order that it may have effective 
revolutionary power, cannot be chosen from above as a 
result of combinations more or less diplomatic, nor can 
it arise from a parliament constituted thru the custom- 
ary bourgeois-democratic norms. A government formed 
by delegates from workers organizations chosen by the 
higher committees of the same, will undoubtedly repre- 
sent a forward step with respect to the present situa- 
tion, but it will not be the kind of government that the 
circumstances demand. Elected under such conditions, 
it would certainly not go much further than the position 
of the People's Front. 

The Workers and Peasants Government must be the 
direct expression of the revolutionary will of the worker 
and peasant masses of the country and, for that very 
reason, it cannot rise from the Parliament of February 16, 
completely outlived by events, nor can it come from 
elections based on universal suffrage. The bourgeois par- 
liament must be dissolved and in its place must be called 
a congress which will lay down the economic, social and 
political bases of a Spain freed from capitalist domina- 
tion, which is being forged on the fields of battle and 



which will choose a Workers and Peasants Government- 
Such an assembly cannot be of the bourgeois-democratic 
type, that is to say, it cannot be based on the right of 
representation of all classes, but it must reflect the new 
situation created by the civil war and the revolution, 
conceding all rights to those who are supporting the 
revolution with arms in their hands or with produc- 
tive labor. In a word, the congress must be formed by 
delegates from the trade unions, from the peasants and 
from the soldiers. 

Those same organs should constitute the basis for the 
transformation of the whole machinery of power, be- 
ginning with the municipalities, with the modifications in 
detail which circumstances demand. The orientation 
which the P.O.U.M. advances can be summarized in 
these two fundamental slogans: 

1. Conquest of power by the working class. 

2. Institution of a socialist regime. 

In the present period of the revolution, the conquest 
of power by the proletariat does not necessarily imply 
armed insurrection. The positions which the working 
class still holds in spite of the retrogression suffered by 
the revolution; the specific gravity of the proletariat and 
its organizations, and above all the fact that it continues 
to hold a great part of the arms in its hands permit the 
peaceful conquest of power. To accomplish this, all 
that is needed is that the proletariat regain confidence 
in its own force and decide resolutely to impose its will. 
It depends entirely on this whether the correlation of 
forces of July 19th will be reestablished and whether the 
working class will know how to utilize that relation of 
forces for its own benefit, or what amounts to the same 
thing, for the benefit of the revolution. 

The conquest of power by the proletariat signifies the 
absolute hegemony of the working class for the purpose 
of implacably crushing every attempt at counter- 
revolution, and of suppressing the bourgeoisie. This 
hegemony of the working class can under no circum- 
"iances identify itself with the dictatorship of one party, 



but presupposes the widest working class democracy, the 
most absolute right of criticism for every section of the 
proletariat, participation of everyone in the common task. 
Only the exploiting classes will be deprived of all poli- 
tical rights. When classes have completely disappeared, 
organs of compulsion will become superfluous and the 
state will disappear. 

On conquering power, the working class will not limit 
itself to utilizing the old state machinery—as the demo- 
cratic bourgeoisie did — but will destroy it to its very roots. 
With the help of committees of workers, peasants and sol- 
diers, it will transform from top to bottom the whole gov- 
ernmental machine and will institute a cheap government 
and one that is truly democratic. A cheap government 
will be possible through the destruction of the old and 
expensive burocratic system, the elimination of high 
salaries, establishing the principle that no one can receive 
a higher wage than a skilled worker, and thru the vigi- 
lant and active control of the working class. 

True democracy will be guaranteed by the effective 
participation of the immense majority of the country in 
the administration of public affairs, the filling of all 
posts by election, and the recall of their incumbents at 
any time. Finally, the Workers and Peasants Govern- 
ment will be the government of military victory, for only 
a government of such a character is capable of creating 
the indispensable morale for victory; only a government 
of such character can organize a solid war industry, na- 
tionalize banks, eliminate speculation, concentrate and 
mobilize all the economic resources of the country for 
the war. 

The Working Class and the Petty Bourgeoisie 

7. One of the arguments to which the reformists re- 
sort most frequently to justify their collaborationist and 
counter-revolutionary politics is the necessity of main- 
taining the block with the parties of the petty bour- 
geoisie so as to assure the support of an important sec- 
tion of the population. 



The petty bourgeoisie constitutes, in effect, a factor 
of major importance in every country, and particularly 
in those countries in which, like our own, it has 
become a part of the capitalist system only after long 
delay. But because of its intermediate character, stand- 
ing midway between the big bourgeoisie and the working 
class because of its economic dependence, it cannot play 
an independent role in political life. Vacillating and un- 
decided, it always moves between the two basic classes — 
carrying out the policies now of one and now of the 

The parties of the petty bourgeoisie maintain the fic- 
tion of independent politics — politics which is neither 
bourgeois nor proletarian — but in reality they are always 
an instrument in the hands of big capital and for that 
reason an instrument against the interests of the petty 
bourgeoisie itself whose representative they pretend to be. 
Their politics leads straight to the consolidation of the 
economic positions of big capital and therefore to the 
complete stifling of the petty bourgeoisie. The al- 
liance with the petty bourgeois parties does not repre- 
sent an alliance with the petty bourgeoisie but an al- 
liance against it. The Spanish experience from April 
14th to the present moment presents eloquent testimony 
to this fact. The petty bourgeoisie and, in first place, 
the peasants, have not seen satisfied a singie one of their 
fundamental demands. Whatever they have secured, 
they owe to the independent action of the working class. 

The petty bourgeoisie, potentially, is neither revolu- 
tionary nor reactionary. They want order — any kind of 
order — but order. And such order only the bourgeoisie 
or the proletariat can establish. When the working class 
acts decisively and gives the feeling that it knows what 
it wants and where it is going, the petty bourgeoisie is 
neutralized, and a large section will follow the proletar- 
iat, or more correctly, will be dragged along by it. But 
if the working class fails at the decisive moment, the 
petty bourgeoisie loses faith in it, turns its back upon it 
and once more fastens its eyes on the big bourgeoisie. 



If at such a moment, there were to come along .1 mm. 
or less demagogic leader, it would not be difficult foi 
him to take advantage of the disenchantment of I 
petty bourgeois masses and convert them into a social 
base for a movement destined to crush the working 
class and institute a regime of bloody dictatorship of 
big capital (fascism). 

The petty bourgeoisie has gone thru the experience 
of the democratic republic. To repeat that experience 
means to prepare new defeats and to create the nei 
premises for the incorporation of the petty bom;" 
masses in the camp of reaction. On the other hand, 'I 
the working class should appear in the eyes of the popu 
lar masses as the true leader of the revolution, M 1 In- 
only force capable of setting up a strong regime a new 
order — the petty bourgeoisie would follow it just as they 
followed it after the glorious July days. 

The politics of attracting the petty bourgeois does not, 
then, consist of holding back the rhythm of the revolution 
but in speeding it up. The more decided and audacious 
the proletariat shows itself to be, the more certain it can 
be of the collaboration of the petty bourgeoisie, or al 
least of neutralizing it. 

Fundamental Tasks of the Working Class 

8. The division of the working class is undoubtedly one 
of the greatest obstacles to winning the confidence of the 
petty bourgeois masses in the invincible force of the pro- 
letariat. Trade union unity (the absence of which has 
unfavorable repercussions upon the socialist organization 
of production) would constitute a great step forward, but 
the reformist burocracy systematically sabotages such 
unity for it senses that a unified trade union movement 
would soon slip from its hands and would pass into the 
ranks of the revolutionary elements. To push forward 
and to impose this unity is the bounden duty of thl 
working class. 

On the political field, organs of unity should be buill 
to meet these circumstances. At the end of 1933, thl 



Workers Alliances appeared destined to play in our coun- 
try, the role that the Soviets played in the Russian revolu- 
tion. These Alliances showed their magnificent revolu- 
tionary efficacy during the Asturias insurrection in 
October 1934. Formed by all the parties and by all 
workers organizations without exception, the Workers Al- 
liance of Asturias showed the world conclusively what 
prodigious heroism and initiative a united proletariat is 
capable of. But the policy of the People's Front frustrated 
those splendid beginnings and once more the working 
class marches at the tail of the Republican parties. If 
the Workers Alliances had not been liquidated by the 
champions of class collaboration, events would have taken 
a completely different turn and the proletariat would 
undoubtedly have seized the hegemony. 

To revive the Workers Alliances today would be a 
mistake because they belong to a stage already left 
behind. Congresses of delegates from the trade unions, 
peasants and soldiers, would represent substantially the 
same thing today as the Workers Alliances did in the 
previous stage. Upon these congresses should be based 
the government of the working class; from them must 
arise the organs of power; they must incarnate the unity 
of action of the workers above the differences which 
separate them on the trade union and political fields. 
Upon them will be based the future Iberian Union of 
Socialist Republics. 

Neither trade union unity nor these assemblies of 
workers, peasants and soldiers delegates, exclude the pos- 
sibility of the formation of alliances among the different 
sectors of the working class movement which may agree 
on the conception of the moment and the attitude of the 
■working class. On the contrary, such alliances arc clearly 
indicated by the present situation. 

In the concrete case of our revolution, necessity dic- 
tates the formation of a Revolutionary Workers Front 
formed by the C.N.T., F.A.I, and the P.O.U.M., organ- 
izations which agree on the necessity of blocking the ad- 
vance of reformism and the return to the conditions which 


existed prior to July 19th and who agree on pi 
forward the proletarian revolution to its end. A progi 
of clear and concrete aims — aims perfectly realizable to- 
day — should be the basis of the Revolutionary Worker 
Front — whose formation will indisputably determine a 
fundamental change in the correlation of forces and will 
give a powerful impulse to the revolution. 

Intervention and International Solidarity 

9. One of the favorite arguments used by the re- 
formists against the proletarian revolution is that the 
revolution will inevitably be crushed by the capitalist 

The working class would commit a profound blunder 
if it did not count upon the probability of foreign 
armed intervention against the Spanish revolution. But if 
the proletariat were not able to launch upon decisive 
revolutionary struggle except it were certain that no 
such intervention would take place, it would have to 
renounce before-hand every hope of emancipation. For 
it is evident that international capitalism will not be able 
to look on passively at the victory of the proletariat in 
any country of the world. 

The danger of intervention exists and, if the decisive 
-factor were superior military technique, the defeat of the 
proletariat could be considered certain. But there is a 
moral factor infinitely more efficacious, the expansive 
force of the revolution. Triumph. mi m Spun, it would 
have immediate repercussions in tlx- Other countries, par- 
ticularly in Italy, am!, tO whole it 
would deal a mortal blow. 

The Russian revolution was the Immediate i RUM of the 

collapse of the Central Powers; il made the capitalist 

regime tremble in all Europe end provoked V "t 

-of international proletarian solidarity 10 InWMl thai it 
contributed powerfully to the failure <>r Inti rV( rttiori The 

consequences of the Spanish revolution l in I less 

■transcendental. The victory of the W oi Our 


IN sr\iN 

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or of the prole- 
entire world,, 

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