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The Civil War 
In Spain 



by Felix Morrow 




Pioneer Publishers 

NEW YORK 



University of Texas 
Austin 



Introduction 



ALL EIGHTS RESERVED 

Copyright 1936 

Pioneer Publishers 

100 Fifth Avenue, New York, N, Y. 

Printed in U.S.A. by Le Matro Press. 

174 



Fascist soldiers and workers' militiamen, entrenched near each 
other. In a lull in the fighting, they shout arguments back and 
forth : 

"You are sons of peasants and workers," shouts a militiaman, 
''You should be here with .us, fighting for the republic, where there 
is democracy and freedom." 

The retort is prompt; it is the argument with which the peas- 
antry has answered every reformist appeal since the republic came 
in 1931: 

"What did the Republic give you to eat? What has the Republic 
done for us that we should fight for it?" 

In this little incident, reported casually in the press, you have 
the essence of the problem of the civil war. 

The peasantry, which is seventy percent of the population, has 
yet to be won to the side of the proletariat. It played no role in 
bringing the Republic in 193 1. Its passivity and hostility led to 
the triumph of reaction in November, 1933. It played no part in 
the proletarian October revolt of 1934, Except in Catalonia and 
Valencia where the proletariat has declared for confiscation of the 
land and is already turning it over to the peasantry, and in parts 
of Andalusia where the landworkers have seized the land them- 
selves, the masses of the peasantry are not yet rising to fight beside 
the working class. 

No civil war as profound as the present one in Spain has ever 
been won without advancing a revolutionary social program. Yet 
the sole program of the coalition government headed by Caballero 
appears to be a military struggle. "Only after victory shall we be 
allowed to defend the political and social problems of the various 
groups composing the Left Popular Front," says a government 
spokesman (New York Times, Sept. 20). "There is only one point 
in our program and that is to win victory." As a matter of actual 
fact, however, the coalition government's slogan, "Defend the 

in 



809869 




Democratic Republic," does contain a social program ; but it is the 
reformist program of defending the "kindest" political instrument 
of the bourgeois mode of production. 

In the great French Revolution, the slogan of "Liberty, Equal- 
ity and Fraternity" meant, quite concretely, land to the peasants, 
freedom from serfdom, a new "world of labor and enrichment, 
wiping out the economic power of feudal oppressors, putting 
France into the hands of the revolutionary bourgeoisie. In the 
Russian Revolution, the slogan of "Land, Bread and Freedom" 
successfully rallied the people against Kornilov and Kerensky, 
because it meant the transformation of Russia. The proletariat of 
Spain will raise equally revolutionary slogans, or it will not win 
the civil war. 

The Catalonian proletariat has already recognized this great 
truth. Its revolutionary program will not long remain confined 
within its own borders. Only today news has come that another 
party of the People's Front, the Syndicalist party formed after the 
October revolt by anarcho-syndicalists who recognized the need 
for participating in political life, has demanded a socialist program 
for the successful prosecution of the civil war. The Premiership 
of Caballero, the "extreme" left wing of the Popular Front, is 
itself a distorted recognition that the masses will not fight for the 
maintenance of capitalism. But Caballero's former laurels cannot 
and will not be a substitute for the very concrete content of a 
program of revolutionary socialism. 

In the following pages are told the rich history of revolutionary 
experience which five short years have brought the Spanish prole- 
tariat. Out of the wisdom extracted from that extraordinarily 
concentrated experience, the Spanish proletariat is learning how to 
take its own destiny into its own hands. To the lessons of the 
Russian Revolution, are now being added the equally profound 
lessons of the Spanish Revolution. 

New York, September 22, 1936. 



The Civil War in Spain 



1. 

THE BIRTH OF THE REPUBLIC— 1931 

"Glorious, bloodless, peaceful, harmonious" was the revolution 
of April 14, 193 1. Two days before, the people had voted for the 
republican-socialist coalition in the countrywide municipal elec- 
tions; this was enough to finish off Alfonso. The Spanish Republic 
came so easily. ... Its advent, however, .was almost the only blood- 
less event connected with the revolution before or since 1931. 

For over a century Spain had been attempting to give birth to 
a new regime. But the paralysis of centuries of senile decay from 
the days of empire had doomed every attempt. All the more bloody, 
therefore, was the history of failure and its punishment. Four 
major revolutions before 1875, followed by four white terrors, 
were merely crescendoes in an almost continuous tune of peasant 
revolts and army mutinies, civil wars, regionalist uprisings, army 
pronunciamentos, conspiracies and counter-plots of court cama- 
rillas. 

Nor did the modern bourgeoisie, when it belatedly appeared on 
the scene, proceed to preparing the bourgeois revolution. Modern 
industry and transportation dates from the Spanish-American iWar, 
which brought a new ferment to Spain. The years 1898-1914 are 
called the "national renascence" (it was also the Indian summer 
of world capitalism). But the Spanish and Catalonian industrial- 
ists who Nourished in those two decades vied with the most an- 
cient landowning families in their loyalty to the monarchy. Some 
— like Count Romanones — were ennobled, purchased great tracts of 
land and combined in their own persons the old and the new 
economies; others cemented the bonds between the two by mort- 
gages and intermarriages with the landed aristocracy. The King 
preserved the trappings of feudalism; but he was scarcely averse 
to associating with the bourgeoisie in their most dubious economic 



IV 







ventures. Seeking new fields for exploitation, the bourgeoisie se- 
cured from Alfonso the conquest of Morocco, begun in 19 12. 
Alfonso's profitable neutrality during the World War endeared 
him to the bourgeoisie, who for four years found the world markrl 
open to their wares. 

When that market was taken back by the imperialists after the 
war, and the Catalonian and Spanish proletariat launched great 
struggles, and when the workers' and peasants' respect for the 
regime had been dissolved by the disasters to the army in Morocco, 
the Catalan industrialists financed Primo de Rivera's coup, Th« 
dictator's program of public works and insurmountable tariff 
walls, suppression of the anarcho-syndicalists and compulsory 
arbitration boards for the socialist unions, gave industry a new 
impetus and to Rivera and Alfonso the most fervent adulation of 
the bourgeoisie. The world crisis put an end to Spanish prosperity 
and Rivera fell with the peseta in January 1930. But the bour- 
geoisie in the main still clung to Alfonso. Indeed, as late as 
September 28, 1930, and at a mass meeting protesting the govern- 
ment's course, Alcala Zamora, who was to head the republic, could 
still end his speech with a pa?an of praise to the crown. 

Meanwhile, in May 1930, the students and workers of Madrid 
had hoisted red and republican flags, and engaged the police in 
rifle fire; in September the socialists and the U.G.T. made a part 
with the republican groups to finish with the monarchy; revolu- 
tionary general strikes followed in Seville, Madrid, Bilbao, Bar- 
celona, Valencia, etc., involving fatal encounters with the armed 
forces in every instance. A rising of the workers to coincide with 
a republican mutiny in the army was frustrated when the soldiers' 
revolt of December 12 was precipitated before the time planned; 
but the executions of the soldier-leaders inspired a manifesto 
signed by republican and socialist leaders announcing their object 
to be the immediate introduction of the republic. The signatories 
were put in the Model Prison of Madrid — and it became the center 
of Spanish political life. Premier Berenguer's desperate attempt 
to provide a Cortes on the old model as a support for Alfonso 
was defeated by the republican-socialist declaration of a boycott; 
Berengucr resigned. The municipal elections demonstrated that the 
masses were for a republic. 

It was only at this last moment that the industrialists, frighl 
ened by the general strikes, by arming of the workers openly g< 
on, and by the socialist threat of a national general strike, de< 
the monarchy was a cheap sacrifice to the wolves of the rcvolu 
tion. Then, and only then, when Alfonso himself was agreeing; 



that to fight was futile, did the bourgeoisie also agree to the re- 
public. 

The spirit of the new republic is characterized by the fact that 
the oldest and largest of the republican parties did nothing to bring 
it into being, and was soon to ally itself with the monarchists. 
This was the Radical Party of Lerroux. Three decades of Spanish 
parliamentarism are filled with charges of bribery, blackmailing, 
cheating and trickery against this party. The Radical demagogues 
had served the monarchy in the struggle against Catalonian na- 
tionalism. The thievery and blackmail for which their French 
namesakes (now leading the Front Populaire) are so notorious, 
pale by comparison with the bold campaigns which the Spanish 
Radicals conducted against individual industrialists and bankers 
and which came to a sudden end in each case when the expected 
fat envelope had been quietly delivered. Within the Radical Party 
the normal method of polemic was mutual accusations of corrup- 
tion and blackmailing. Because of its extremely filthy history, and 
despite the fact that it was the oldest and largest bourgeois repub-- 
lican party, there was the strongest opposition to its participation 
in the first republican government. This opposition came even 
from those Catholics, like Zamora, who at first seriously wanted 
the republic and who, having been a Minister under the monarchy, 
knew best for what class of services Alfonso had used the Radicals. 

Despite a great following among the bourgeoisie as the most 
conservative republican party, Lerroux's Radicals provided no 
political leadership. They occupied themselves in scrambling for 
lucrative posts. However, the horror shared by other republicans 
and socialists, that any touch of scandal should reach the new 
republic, was a terribly constraining influence on the Radicals. 
They were happier when they left the government shortly and 
allied themselves with Gil Roblcs' clericals — the Radicals, whose 
chief stock in trade had been anti-clericalism ! 

The other republican parties, except for the Catalan Left which 
had peasants in its ranks, were mere makeshifts created for the 
April elections and had little mass support, for the lower middle 
class of Spain is tiny and impotent. 

The only real support for the republic, therefore, came from 
the socialist and trade union proletariat. That very fact, however, 
signified that the republic could be only a transition to a struggle 
for power between fascist-monarchist reaction and socialism. There 
was no room, at this late stage, for the democratic republic in 
Spain. 

Unfortunately, however, the socialist leadership did not pre- 



pare for the struggle. Instead, it shared the petty-bourgeois outlook 
of the Azanas. 

That outlook was avowedly modeled on the French Revolution 
of 1789. Spain was presumed to have before it a long course of 
peaceful development in which the tasks of the bourgeois revolu- 
tion would be carried out by an alliance between the republicans 
and the workers. After that— decades after 1931 — the republic 
would be changed into a socialist republic. But that was a long 
way off! thought the socialist leaders, Prieto, Caballero, de los 
Rios, Besteiros, del Vayo, Araquistain, who had grown to middle 
age, at the least, under the almost Asiatic regime of the monarchy. 
Madrid, chief socialist stronghold, was still much the city of crafts 
that it had been in the nineties; its socialism was a compound of 
the provincial reformism of the founder, Pablo Iglesias, and the 
German Social-Democracy of the worst, the post-war period. 

The other major current in the Spanish proletariat, anarcho- 
syndicalism, commanding in the CN.T, about half the strength of 
the socialist U.G.T. unions, dominated the modern industrial city of 
Barcelona but had changed little since its origin in the Cordoba 
Congress of 1872. Hopelessly anti-political, it played no role in 
bringing the Republic; then swung in the honeymoon days to a 
position of passive support, which changed to wild putschism as 
soon as the rosy haze disappeared. Spain would not find its ideo- 
logical leadership here, Five years of revolution were needed 
before anarcho-syndicalism would begin to break with its doc- 
trinaire refusal to enter the political field and fight for a workers' 
state. 

The making of the Soviet Union and its achievements — a peasant 
country like Spain — were extraordinarily popular in Spain, But 
the Bolshevik methodology of the Russian Revolution was almost 
unknown, The theoretical backwardness of Spanish socialism had 
produced only a small wing for Bolshevism in 19 18. What pro- 
gress it had made by 1930 was cut off by the Comintern's expulsion 
of practically the whole party for Trotskyism "Right" and other 
heresies. Despite the vast backing of the Comintern, the official 
Communist Party in the ensuing period played no role whatever. 
In March 1932, the Comintern discovered new heresy and wiped 
out the entire leadership again. Following their "third period" 
(1929-1934) ideology, the Stalinists denounced united fronts with 
anarchist or socialist organizations, which they dubbed twins of 
the fascists; built empty "Red unions" against the CN.T. and 
U.G.T, ; made empty boasts that they were building peasant So- 
viets, at a time when they had no following among the proletariat, 



which must lead such Soviets; propagandized for the ''intermediary 
democratic workers and peasants revolution"— a concept repudiated 
by Lenin in 1917— as distinct from the bourgeois and proletarian 
revolutions, thereby hopelessly confusing the task of the struggle 
for the masses with the subsequent struggle for power. The Stal- 
inists dropped this "third period" hodge-podge in 1938— only to 
pick up the discredited "People's Front" policy of coalitions with 
the bourgeoisie. First, and last, they played a thoroughly reac- 
tionary role. 

The real Bolshevik tradition was consistently represented in 
Spain only by the small group, the Communist Left, adhering to 
the international "Trotskyist" movement. Trotsky himself wrote 
two great pamphlets, The Revolution in Spain several months 
before the actual arrival of the republic, and The Spanish Revo- 
lution in Danger shortly afterward, and many articles as events 
unfolded. No one can understand the dynamics of the Spanish 
revolution without reading Trotsky's prophetic analyses. On every 
basic question events have vindicated his writings. To the pseudo- 
Jacobin doctrines of official socialism he counterposed a Marxist- 
Leninist proof, rich in concrete grasp of Spanish conditions, of 
the impossibility of the bourgeois republic undertaking the demo- 
cratic tasks of the revolution. To the pseudo-leftist nonsense of 
the Stalinists, he counterposed the specific program by which a 
revolutionary party could win the Spanish masses and carry them 
to a victorious revolution. 

But the Communist Left was a tiny handful and not a party. 
Parties are not built overnight, not even in a revolutionary situa- 
tion. A group is not a party. The Communist Left, unfortunately, 
failed to understand this, and did not follow Trotsky in his 
estimation of the profound significance of the leftward develop- 
ment in the socialist ranks afier events confirmed Trotsky's pre- 
dictions. This "leftism" was followed by an opportunist line lead-' 
ing to signing the Popular Front program. It was only after the 
present civil war broke out that the former Trotskyists (now in the 
P.O.U.M.) again turned toward a Bolshevik policy. 

Thus, the proletariat was without the leadership to prepare it 
for its great tasks, when the republic arrived. It was to pay dearly 
for this lack ! 



THE TASKS OF THE BOURGEOIS-DEMOCRATIC 
REVOLUTION 

Five great tasks confronted the bourgeois republic; these must 
be carried out, or the regime must give way to reaction, monar- 
chical or fascist, or to a new revolution and a workers' state: 



i. The Agrarian Question 

Agriculture was accounting for over half of the national in- 
come, almost two-thirds of exports and most of the government's 
internal revenue; and with seventy per cent of the population on 
the land, this was the key question for Spain's future. 

The division of the land is the worst in Europe. One third 
owned by great landowners, in some cases in estates covering half 
a province. Another third owned by a group of "middle owners/' 
more numerous than the great landowners, but also in large estates 
tilled by sharecroppers and land workers. Only one third owned by 
peasants, and most of this in primitively-equipped farms of five 
hectares or less of dry, poor land — insufficient to support their 
families. Such good land as peasants own — in the gardening lands 
of the Mediterranean coast — is divided into dooryard-size patches. 

The five million peasant families fall into three categories : 

Two million who own the insufficient holdings. Only in the 
northern provinces are there any number of peasant families who 
are moderately comfortable. For the most part, these millions of 
"owners" starve with the landless, hiring themselves out for day- 
labor whenever they can. 

A million and a half sharecroppers renting on a basis of divid- 
ing the crop with the landlord, and subject to the threefold op- 
pression of the landlord, the usurer who finances the crop and the 
merchant who buys it. 

A million and a half landworkers hiring themselves out at 
incredibly low wages and under the best of conditions out of em- 
ployment from ninety to one hundred fifty days a year. A good 
wage is six pesetas (75 cents) a day. 

The direct exploitation on the land is supplemented by tax 
squeezing. Of the total tax levy collected from the land in the 

10 



first year of the republic, more than one-half came from the land- 
owning peasants. 

The conditions under which millions of peasant families live 
beggar description. For comparison one must go to the Orient, 
to the living conditions of the Chinese and Hindu peasantry. Star- 
vation between harvests is a normal process. The Spanish press 
at such times carries numerous reports of whole districts of peas- 
ants living on roots and boiled greens. Desperate revolts, seizures 
of crops, raids on storehouses and periods of guerilla warfare have 
been part of the history of Spain for a century; but each time it 
was proven again that the scattered peasantry, without the help of 
the cities, could not free itself. 

The last decades brought the peasant no relief. The halcyon 
war years, 1914-1918, gave Spanish agriculture an opportunity to 
enter the world market and secure high prices. The resultant rise 
in the price of produce and land was capitalized into cash via 
mortgages by the landowners; the peasants got little of it. The 
burdens of the collapse of agriculture following the war were, 
however, quickly shifted onto the peasants. The agricultural crisis, 
part of the world crisis, aggravated by the tariff barriers raised 
against Spanish agriculture by England and France, brought the 
peasant in 1931 to such a plight that whole regions were in danger 
of extermination by starvation, and with a permanent army of the 
unemployed on the land. 

The only solution for this dreadful condition was the immediate 
expropriation of the two-thirds of the land held by landozvners, 
and its division among the peasantry, Even this would not suffice. 
With the exception of the gardening regions on the Mediterranean, 
Spanish agriculture is conducted by primitive methods. Its yield 
per hectare is the lowest in Europe, Intensive methods of agricul- 
ture, requiring training, modern implements, fertilizer, etc., which 
mean systematic state aid to agriculture, would have to supplement 
the distribution of the land. 

The feudal tenure of the land in France was destroyed by the 
Jacobins with nothing but benefit to capitalist relations of produc- 
tion. But in Spain of 1931 the land was already exploited under 
capitalist relations. Land had long been alienable, bought and sold 
in the market; hence mortgageable and debt-laden. Hence confis- 
cation of the land would also be confiscation of bank-capital, would 
be a death-blow to Spanish capitalism, both agricultural and in* 
dustrial. 

From this perfectly obvious fact, the coalition government drew 
the conclusion that, therefore, the land could not be confiscated. 



11 



Instead, elaborate and futile plans were developed, whereby the 
government, through its Institute for Agrarian Reform, would 
purchase the landed estates and parcel them out to the peasants on 
a rental basis. Since Spain is an impoverished land, providing 
little income to the State, this process would necessarily be a very 
long one. The government's own figures showed that its method 
of dividing the land by purchase would take at least a century, 

2. The Development of Spanish Industry 

If the republican-socialist coalition could not solve the agrarian 
question, could it develop the productive forces of industry and 
transportation ? 

Compared to the industry of the great imperialist powers, Spain 
is pitifully backward. Only 8,5oo miles of railroad, in a country 
larger than Germany! With 1.1% of world trade in 1930, she had 
slightly less than she had had before the war. 

The era of development of Spanish industry was short — 1898- 
191 8. The very development of Spanish industry in the war years 
became a source of further difficulties. The end of the war meant 
that Spain's industry, infantile and backed by no strong power, 
soon fell behind in the imperialist race for markets. Even Spain's 
internal market could not long be preserved for her own industry. 
Primo de Rivera's insurmountable tariff walls brought from France 
and England retaliation against Spanish agriculture. With agri- 
culture accounting for one-half to two-thirds of exports, this meant 
a terrific agricultural crisis followed by the collapse of the internal 
market for industry. That very crisis, in 1931, ushered in the 
republic. 

These facts stared it in the face, but the republican socialist 
coalition repeated, as if it were a magic formula, that Spain was 
only at the beginning of its capitalist development, that somehow 
they would build industry and commerce, that the world crisis 
would let up, etc., etc. The republic found nearly a million unem- 
ployed workers and peasants and before the end of 1933 the number 
was a million and a half, who with their dependents accounted for 
25% of the population. 

With iron logic the Trotskyists showed that weak Spanish 
industry, under capitalist relations, can develop only in an ex- 
panding world market, and that the zvorld market has been 
progressively contracting ; Spanish industry can be developed only 
under protection of a monopoly of foreign trade, but the pressure 
of foreign capital in Spain and the threat to agricultural exports 

12 






ary 

University of Texas 

A i 1 ffan 
from France and England means that a bourgeois government 
cannot create a monopoly of foreign trade. 

If the lateness of Spanish industry barred its further develop- 
ment under capitalism, that same lateness (like that of Russia) had 
resulted in a concentration of its proletariat in large enterprises 
in a few cities. Barcelona, the largest port and also the largest 
industrial center, with the industrial towns of Catalonia, alone 
accounts for fully 45% of the Spanish working class. The Biscay 
region, Asturias and Madrid account for most of the rest. All in 
all, Spain has less than two million industrial workers, but their 
specific gravity, in view of their concentration, is comparable to 
that of the Russian proletariat. 

3. The Church • 

The separation of Church and State was no mere parliamen- 
tary task. To achieve separation, the French Revolution confis- 
cated the Church lands, rallying the peasantry for their seizure; 
dissolved the religious orders, seized the churches and their 
wealth, and for many years illegalized and prohibited the 
functioning of the priesthood. Only then was even' the inadequate 
separation of Church and State achieved in France. 

In Spain of 1931 the problem was even more urgent and 
compelling. By its whole past the Church could not but be the 
mortal enemy of the Republic. For centuries the Church had 
prevented any form of progress. Even a most Catholic King, 
Carlos III, had been compelled to expel the Jesuits in 1767; 
Joseph Bonaparte had to dissolve the religious orders, and the 
liberal Mendizabel suppressed them in i835. The Church had 
destroyed every revolution of the 19th century; in turn every 
revolution, every quickening of Spanish life, had been neces- 
sarily anti-clerical. Even King Alfonso, after the Barcelona revolt 
of 1909, had to announce that he would "give expression to the 
public aspirations for the reduction and regulation of the exces- 
sive number of religious orders," and would establish religious 
freedom. Rome, however, changed Alfonso's mind for him, 
Every attempt at widening the basis of the regime was frustrated 
by the Church — the last in 1923, when it vetoed Premier Alhu- 
cemas' proposal to call a constituent Cortes and instead backed 
the dictatorship. No wonder that every period of ferment since 
1812 has been followed by burning of churches and killing of 
clericals. 

The economic power wielded by the Church can be gauged 

809869 



■ 



from the estimate, given to the Cortes in 1931, that the Jesuit 
order possessed one-third of the country's wealth. Such lands as 
had been confiscated after the revolution of 1868 had been so 
generously indemnified by the reaction, that the Church was 
launched on a career in industry and finance. Its monopolistic 
"agricultural credit" banks were the usurers of the countryside 
and its city banks the partners of industry. The religious orders 
conducted regular industrial establishments (flour mills, laundries, 
sewing, clothing, etc.) with unpaid labor (orphans, "students") 
competing to great advantage against industry. As the established 
religion it received tens of millions of pesetas each year from the 
state treasury, was freed of all tax obligations even in industrial 
production, and received rich fees from baptism, marriage, death, 
etc. # 

Its official control of education meant that the student would 
be safeguarded from radicalism and the peasantry kept illiterate 
• — half the Spanish population could neither read nor write in 
1930. The superstition bred by the Church may be realized from 
the fact that until quite recently papal indulgences sold for a 
few pesetas each; signed by an archbishop they could be pur- 
chased in shops displaying the advertisement: "Bulas are cheap 
today."* 

Its robed hordes were a veritable army confronting the repub- 
lic: eighty to ninety thousand in 4,000 religious houses of the 
orders, and over 25,ooo parish priests — the number in the religious 
orders alone thus outnumbering the total of high school students 
and being double the number of college students in the country. 

In the first months of the republic the Church moved cau- 
tiously in its struggle against the new regime, and advisedly: a 
pastoral letter advising Catholics to vote for Catholic candidates 
who were "neither republican nor monarchist" was answered, in 
May, by mass burning of churches and monasteries. Nevertheless, 
it was no secret to anyone that the myriad army of monks and 
nuns and parish priests were vigorously propagandizing from 
house to house. As in every critical period in Spanish history in 
which the Church felt itself endangered by a change, it dissem- 
inated to the superstitious reports of miraculous incidents — 
statues seen weeping, crucifixes exuding blood — portents of evil 
times having come. What would the republican governntent do 
about this powerful menace? 

The Church question brought the first governmental crisis; 
Azaiia formulated a compromise, which was adopted. The clerical 
orders were not to be molested unless proven, like any other 

14 







organization, detrimental to the commonweal, and there was a 
gentleman's agreement that this would apply only to the Jesuits, 
who were dissolved in January 1932, having been given plenty 
of opportunity to transfer most of their wealth to individuals 
and other orders. Government subventions to the clergy ended 
formally with the official declaration of disestablishment but were 
partly retrieved by payments to the Church for education; for 
the ousting of the Church from the schools was to be a "long 
term" program. This was the sum total of the government's 
Church program. Even this pathetically inadequate legislation 
created a furor among the bourgeoisie; it was opposed, for 
example, not only by Ministers Zamora and Maura (Catholics), 
but by the republican Radical, Lcrroux, who had made a lifetime 
career in Spanish politics out of anti-clericalism. Anti-clerical 
in words and desiring a fairer division of the spoils, the repub- 
lican bourgeoisie were so intertwined with capitalist-landowner 
interests which in turn rested on the Church, that they were 
absolutely incapable of a serious onslaught on its political and 
economic power. 

The Communist Left declared that this was a further proof 
of the bankruptcy of the coalition government. It could not even 
fulfill the "bourgeois-democratic"" task of curbing the Church. 
The revolutionists demanded the confiscation of all Church wealth, 
the dissolution of all orders, the immediate prohibition of religious 
teachers in schools, the use of Church funds to aid the peasantry 
in cultivating the land, and called upon the peasantry to seize the 
Church lands. 

4. The Army 

The history of Spain during the nineteenth and the first 
third of the twentieth century is a history of military plots and 
promtneiamentos. Called in by the monarchy itself to put a period 
to opposition, the army's privileged role led to pampering of an 
officer caste. So numerous did the officers become that the whole 
colonial administration and much of that in the country itself 
(including the police force, the Civil Guard) was entrusted to 
them. Alfonso's growing need of army support was used by the 
officers to entrench themselves. The Law of Jurisdictions of 190S, 
empowering military tribunals to try and punish civilian libels on 
the army, made labor and press criticism Use majeste*. Even 
Alfonso's Premier Maura, in 1917, protested that the officers 
were making civil government impossible. In 1919, disapproving 

IS 



of concessions made to the general strike, the army caste, organ- 
ized into Officers' Councils for pressure on government and public, 
demanded the dismissal of the Chief of Police. The War Minister 
was always one of their men. There was an officer for every six 
men in the ranks, and the military budget grew accordingly. 
Indeed, the military budget grew so insupportable that even 
Rivera tried to cut down the officer caste;* the Officers' Councils 
retaliated by letting him fall without protest, though they had 
joined him in his original coup. Alfonso supported them to the 
last. 

The tradition of an independent and privileged caste was. a 
grave danger for the republic. In a country where the lower 
middle class is so tiny and undistinguished, the officers have to 
be drawn from the upper classes, which means that they will be 
tied by kinship, friendship, social position, etc., to the reactionary 
landowners and industrialists. Or the officers must be drawn 
from the ranks, that is from the peasantry and the workers. And 
haste was needed : control of the army is the life and death question 
of every regime. 

The republican-socialist coalition put this grave problem into 
the hands of Azana himself, as Minister of War. He reduced 
the army by a voluntary system of retirement pay for officers, so 
reasonable in their eyes that within a few days 7,000 officers 
agreed to retire with pay. The diminished officer corps remained 
in spirit what it had been under the monarchy. 

The Communist Left denounced this as treachery to the 
democratic revolution. They demanded dismissal of the whole 
officer corps and its replacement by officers from the ranks, elected 
by the soldiers. They appealed to the soldiers to take matters 
into their own hands, pointing out that the bourgeois republic 
was treating them just as barbarously as had the monarchy. They 
sought to draw the soldiers into fraternization and common coun- 
cils with the revolutionary worker. 

The democratization of the army was viewed by the revolu- 
tionists as a necessary task, not for the revolutionary overthrow 
of the bourgeoisie — other organs were needed for that — but as a 
measure of defense against a return of reaction. The failure of 
the coalition government to undertake this elementary task of 
the democratic revolution was simply further proof that only the 
proletarian revolution would solve the "bourgeois-democratic" 
tasks of the Spanish revolution. 

16 




The "feudal" monarchy had not only been modern enough to 
foster the rise, development and decline of bourgeois industry and 
finance. It was ultra-modem enough to embark on seizure and 
exploitation of colonies in the most contemporary manner of 
finance-capitalism. The "national renascence" included the con- 
quest and subjugation of Morocco (1912-1926). In the disaster 
of Anual (1921) alone, ten thousand workers and peasants, 
serving under two-year compulsory military service, were de- 
stroyed. Seven hundred million pesetas a year was the cost of 
the Moroccan campaign after the World War. Riots when 
recruits and reserves were called up and mutinies at embarkation 
preceded Rivera's coup. An alliance with French imperialism 
(192S) led to a decisive victory over the Moroccan people the 
next year. A murderously cruel colonial administration proceeded 
to exploit the Moroccan peasants and tribesmen for the benefit 
of government and a few capitalists. 

The republican-socialist coalition took over the Spanish col- 
onies in Morocco and ruled them, as had the monarchy, through 
the Foreign Legion and native mercenaries. The socialists argued 
that when conditions justified they would extend democracy to 
Morocco and would permit it to participate in the benefits of a 
progressive regime. 

Trotsky and his adherents termed the socialist position an act 
of treachery against an oppressed people. But for the safety of 
the Spanish masses, too, Morocco must be set free. The peculiarly 
vicious legionnaires and mercenaries bred there would be the first 
force to be used by a reactionary coup, and Morocco itself as a 
military base for the reaction. Withdrawal of all troops and inde- 
pendence for Morocco were immediate demands for which the 
workers themselves must fight, and incite the Moroccan people to 
achieve. The liberty of the Spanish masses would be imperiled 
unless the colonies were freed. 

Similar to the colonial question was the issue of national 
liberation of the Catalan and Basque peoples. The strong petty- 
bourgeois Catalan Esquerra (Left) Party derived its chief fol- 
lowing from among the militant sharecroppers who should be the 
allies of the revolutionary workers, but who succumb to the 
nationalist program of the petty-bourgeoisie, the latter thereby 
finding .a support in the peasantry against the de-nationalizing 
role of big capital and the Spanish state bureaucracy. In the 
Basque provinces the national question in 1931 led to even more 




serious consequences; the nationalist movement there was clerical- 
conservative in control and returned a bloc of the most reac- 
tionary deputies in the Constituent Cortes. Since the Basque and 
Catalonian provinces are also the chief industrial regions, this 
was a decisive question to the future of the labor movement: how 
free these workers and peasants from the control of alien classes? 

The model for the solution was given by the Russian Bolshe- 
viks, who inscribed in their program the slogan of national liber- 
ation, and carried it out after the October revolution. The 
broadest autonomy for the national regions is perfectly com* 
patible with economic unity; the masses have nothing to fear from 
such a measure, which in a workers' republic will enable economy 
and culture to flourish freely. 

Any other position than support of national liberation becomes, 
directly or indirectly, support for the maximum bureaucratic 
centralisation of Spain demanded by the ruling class, and will be 
recognized as such by the oppressed nationalities. 

Catalonian nationalism had grown under the oppression of 
the Rivera dictatorship. Hence, a day before the republic was 
proclaimed in Madrid, the Catalans had already seized the gov- 
ernment buildings and declared an independent Catalonian repub- 
lic. A deputation of republican and socialist leaders rushed to 
Barcelona, and combined promises of an autonomy statute with 
dire threats of suppression; the final settlement provided a much- 
restricted autonomy which left the Catalan politicians with griev- 
ances they could display with profitable results in the way of 
maintaining their following among the workers and peasants. On 
the pretext that the Basque nationalist movement was reactionary, 
the republican-socialist coalition delayed a settlement of the ques- 
tion and thereby gave the Basque clericals, threatened by the 
proletarianization of the region, a new hold on the masses. In 
the name of getting away from regional prejudices, the socialists 
identified themselves with the outlook of Spanish bourgeois- 
imperialism. 

Thus, in all fields, the bourgeois republic proved absolutely 
incapable of undertaking the "bourgeois-democratic'' tasks of the 
Spanish revolution. That meant that the republic could have no 
stability; it could be only a transition stage, and a short one. Its 
place would be taken either by military, fascist or monarchical 
reaction — or by a real social revolution which would give the 
workers power to build a socialist society. The struggle, against 
reaction and for socialism was a single task, and on the order of 
the day. 

18 



III 

THE COALITION GOVERNMENT AND THE RETURN 
OF REACTION, 1931-1933 

The revolution of 1931. was not a month old when bloody 
struggles between soldiers and workers took place. 

The cardinal-primate's injunction to Catholics to vote "neither 
monarchist nor republican" led to mass burning of churches. A 
monarchist club meeting May 10th was hooted by workers, mon- 
archists fired and wounded workers, and with the spread of the 
news through Madrid, groups of workers started a round-up of 
monarchists. The fight against Church and monarchists reached 
such proportions that the workers involved left the factories for 
some days to carry on the struggle. The socialists joined the 
republicans in appealing for calm and return to work; the revolu- 
tionists demanded extermination of the monarchist organizations 
and arrest of their leaders. iWorse still, the socialists instructed 
their militia to help the police maintain law and order. In the 
ensuing struggles the Civil Guard shot ten workers. A delegation 
of their comrades demanded of the provisional government the 
dissolution of the Civil Guard. The government's reply was a 
declaration of martial law and the troops were called out in all 
the important cities. Alfonso's police and army, its officer caste 
still weeping for the banished King, solaced themselves with 
attacks on those who had caused Alfonso to flee. The workers 
got their first taste of the republic and of socialist participation 
in a bourgeois government. 

In the work of drafting the new constitution, the socialists 
viewed the republican-socialist coalition as the permanent gov- 
ernment of Spain. It was more important to give the Spanish 
government strong powers than to provide a free hand for anar- 
chist and communist "irresponsibles" to incite the masses to 
disorder. 

Was there any possible justification for the socialist position? 
The Spanish socialists argued their support of the government 
was justified because this was a bourgeois revolution, the com- 
pletion of which could be achieved by a republican government, 
and that the "consolidation of the republic" was the most imme- 
diate task in warding off the return of reaction. In this argument 

19 



they echoed the German and Austrian Social-Democracy after the 
wan But they were flying in the face of the authentic tradition 
and practice of Marxism. 

The revolutions of 1848 had failed, and had been followed by 
the return of reaction, because of the indecisive course of the 
petty-bourgeois republicans. Drawing the lessons of 1848, Marx 
came to the conclusion that the struggle against the return of 
reaction, as well as the securing of maximum rights for the 
workers under the new republic, required that in succeeding bour- 
geois revolutions the proletariat must fight in organisational and 
political independence from the petty-bourgeois republicans.* 

Marx's conceptions of strategy were applied in the Russian 
Revolution of 1905, in which the proletariat created workers' 
councils (soviets) constituted by delegates elected from factory, 
shop and street, as the flexible instrument which unified workers 
of various tendencies in the struggle against Czarism. The Russian 
workers followed Marx's advice that no special alliance is neces- 
sary with even the most progressive sections of the bourgeoisie: 
both classes strike at the same enemy, but the proletarian organ- 
izations pursue their independent aims without the constriction 
and unnecessary compromise of an alliance — that is, a common 
program, which could only be the minimum and therefore a bour- 
geois program — with the bourgeoisie. In February 1917, the Soviets 
were again created at a time when most Marxists thought the 
question was merely one of bourgeois revolution. 

Thus, even for the "bourgeois" revolution, Soviets were neces- 



• "In the case where a struggle against a common enemy exists, a special kind of 
alliance is unnecessary. As soon as it becomes necessary to fight such an enemy directly, 
the interests of both parties fall together for the moment. . . . And then, as soon as 
victory has been decided, the petty-bourgeoisie will endeavor to annex it for them- 
selves. They will call upon the workers to keep the peace and return to their work in 
order to avoid (so-called) excesses, and then proceed to cut the workers off from the 
fruits of victory. . . . 

"During the struggle and after the struggle, the workers at every opportunity 
must put up their own demands in contradistinction to the demands put forward by 
the bourgeois democrats. . . . They must check as far as possible alt manifestations 
of intoxication for the victory and enthusiasm for the new state of affairs, and must 
explain candidly their lack of confidence in the new government in every way through 
a cold-blooded analysis of the new state of affairs. They must simultaneously erect 
their own revolutionary workers' government beside the new official government, 
whether it be in the form of executive committees, community councils, workers' clubs 
or workers' committees, so that the bourgeois democratic government will not only lose 
its immediate restraint over the workers but, on the contrary, most at once feel them- 
selves watched over and threatened by an authority behind which stand the mass of 
the workers. In a word: from the first moment of the victory, and after it, the 
distrust of the workers must not be directed any more against the conquered reactionary 
party, but against the previous ally, the petty-bourgeois democrats, who desire to 
exploit the common victory only for themselves." (Marx, "Address to the Communist 
League" (1850), Appendix 3 to Engel's, "Revolution and Counter-Revolution in Ger- 
many", London, 1933). 



20 



sary. And the German and Austrian revolutions taught very dif- 
ferent lessons than those which the Spanish socialists chose to 
draw. For these revolutions, too, had created soviets; but, domi- 
nated by reformists, the Soviets had been dissolved as soon as 
capitalism regained stability. The real lessons of the German and 
Austrian revolutions were that Soviets require a revolutionary 
program ; that as organs without political power they cannot con- 
tinue to exist indefinitely; that one cannot support both the gov- 
ernment and the soviets, as the German and Austrian reformists, 
like the Russian Mensheviks, tried to do; that Soviets can begin 
as powerful strike committees but must end as organs of state 
power. 

Thus have Marx's conclusions of eighty-six years ago been 
reinforced by every succeeding revolution. 

Thus the course taken by the Spanish socialists from 1931 to 
1933 was completely alien to Marxism^ "Spain is a republic of 
workers of all classes." This silly phrase was adopted upon 
socialist initiative as the first article of the constitution. 

The constitution limited voting to those over the age of 23, 
and set up a method of Cortes elections which favored coalition 
tickets and made representation of minority parties almost impos- 
sible. When this method later worked against them, the socialist 
leaders confessed it had been instituted on the assumption that the 
socialist coalition with the republicans would go on indefinitely! 

Compulsory military service was made a constitutional pro- 
vison, as under the monarchy. The President of the Republic was 
given power to choose the Premier and to dissolve the Cortes 
twice in a presidential term of six years, and could be removed 
during his term only by a three-fifths vote of the Cortes. Provision 
was also made for a Court of Constitutional Guarantees with 
powers of nullifying legislaLiun equivalent to those of the United 
States Supreme Court, and for a difficult system of amending the 
constitution. 

Like the Weimar constitution, the Spanish document contained 
a great deal of phraseology about social rights but with a "joker" 
(Article 42) providing for suspension of all constitutional rights; 
there was immediately adopted the "Law for the Defense of the 
Republic" — copied almost verbatim from the similar German law. 
It established as "acts of aggression against the republic": spread- 
ing of news likely to disturb the public order or credit; denigration 
of public institutions; illicit possession of arms; unreasonable re* 
fusal to work ; lightning strikes. Furthermore, the Minister of the 



21 



Interior was empowered "in the interests of public order" at any 
time, to suspend public meetings; to close clubs, associations and 
unions; to investigate accounts of all associations or unions; to 
seize illicit arms. 

There was also enacted a law continuing Rivera's mixed arbi- 
tration boards to settle strikes. "We shall introduce compulsory 
arbitration. Those workers' organizations which do not submit to 
it will be declared outside the law," said Minister of Labor Largo 
Caballero on July 23, 1931. It was made unlawful to strike for 
political demands, and unlawful to strike unless the workers had 
presented their demands in writing to the employer ten days 
before. 

Such was the legal structure adopted by the republican-socialist 
coalition. Not a single deputy voted against it, and it was adopted, 
December 9, 1931, by 368 ayes and 102 abstentions, 

The revolutionists replied by reminding the socialists of the 
Marxian theory of the state. The Spanish government, regardless 
of who sits in the cabinet, is a capitalist government. Its powers 
are powers in the hands of the capitalist class. To give this govern- 
ment the power of suspending constitutional guarantees, or inter- 
vening in labor disputes, etc., is an act of treachery against the 
proletariat. Inevitably these powers will be used against the prole- 
tariat. 

To limit the voting age to 23 (and this in a southern country 
where boys of sixteen are active figures in the movement!) is to 
deprive the working class of a powerful means of drawing into 
political life the most revolutionary force in the country: the youth. 
The proletariat least of all need fear the most thorough-going 
democracy: the electoral scheme means that large sections of the 
workers and peasantry will not secure representation in the Cortes. 

To democratise the bourgeois regime by centering governmental 
functions in the most representative body, the Cortes, is an elemen- 
tary tenet of working class policy; to put powers in the hands of 
a Supreme Court, a president and a cabinet, is a crime against 
democracy. These smaller bodies are far more susceptible to reac- 
tionary influences. 

Do we seek to democratise the state so that we shall support 
it? No [ The working class rallies only to its own organizations, 
its own class organs. The limited possibilities of democratising 
the bourgeois state apparatus are important only so far as they 

22 




enable us to build, side by side with it, the DUAL POWER of the 
Soviets ! 

* * * 

The bloody clashes of May were only the beginning. "Spreading 
news likely to disturb the public order or credit" was a description 
broad enough to cover most anarchist or Marxist criticism. It 
was not unusual for Azana's men to confiscate five out of six 
successive issues of a communist paper. The prohibition of light- 
ning strikes was a deadly blow to syndicalist methods of struggle. 
Strikes were driven from the field of battle to the debilitating 
channels of arbitration boards before the workers had a chance to 
force favorable settlements. Socialist organizers advised C.N.T. 
strikers they would get better settlements if they joined "the union 
of the government." The deepening agricultural crisis led land- 
owners to sharper and sharper attacks on the living "standards" 
of sharecroppers and landworkers; arbitration agreements raising 
their pay were ignored and the workers were banned from striking 
while government agents went into interminable investigations and 
discussions with the landowners. 

Unscathed by the meaningless church laws, the clergy raised 
their heads, and their demands found spokesmen high in the gov- 
ernment. When, in August 1931, the Vicar General of Seville was 
seized illegally crossing the border with documents revealing sale 
and concealment of Jesuit and other church property, the Catholic 
Ministers in the provisional government, Maura and Zamora, were 
able to prevent, publication of the documents. Maura retired from 
the government with the end of the provisional cabinet in Decem- 
ber; but Zamora, who wished to retire on the principled ground 
that he was hostile to the constitutional clauses and the laws deal- 
ing with the Church, was persuaded to accept elevation to the 
Presidency of the Republic by socialist votes. From that exalted 
post Zamora, from the very first day, aided the clerical forces of 
reaction. 

The socialist, Indalecio Prieto, entered the cabinet as Minister 
of Finance. At his first move to take control of the Bank of Spain, 
the government was shaken as by an earthquake. The final "com- 
promise" provided a shifting of cabinet seats, giving the Finance 
Ministry to a capitalist who named suitable governors for the Bank. 

On the last day of the year that ushered in the republic, the 
peasants of Castilblanco yielded up to the republic the first im- 
portant group of political prisoners. Meeting with firm resistance 
an attack by the Civil Guard, the peasant leaders were sent to 
prison for long terms. 

23 




Thereafter, the drama moved to its inexorable ending in reac- 
tion. As it became utterly evident that the government's course 
left reaction not only untouched, but enabled it to grow stronger, 
the socialist leaders had to speak less of the government's achieve- 
ments and more of their own organizations. Restive workers were 
soothed by pointing to the growing numbers in the U.G.T., and to 
the socialist militia. Revolutionists, however, pointed out that the 
U.G.T. could not be a bulwark against reaction so long as it sup- 
ported the government. Struggle against capitalism and support 
of a bourgeois government are mutually incompatible. The govern- 
ment's prestige is bound up with a record of "maintaining order" 
so that Minister of Labor Caballero must prevent strikes with the 
aid of arbitration committees or throttle them if they break out 
against his will. So, too, the socialist militia: created with the 
consent of the government and used as an auxiliary to the police, 
it could be nothing but a display force for parades; a real prole- 
tarian militia cannot be pledged to support a bourgeois government 
nor be limited to the proletarian organizations pledged to loyalty 
to the regime; it must be a genuinely class weapon which fights 
for democratic rights without limiting itself to the bounds of 
bourgeois legality, and which is just as ready to assume the offen- 
sive as to fight on the defensive, 

In crushing the C.N.T., the troops broadened the repression to 
the whole working class. Under cover of putting down an anar- 
chist putsch in January 1933, the Civil Guard "mopped up" various 
groups of trouble-makers. An encounter with peasants at Casas 
Viejas, early in January 1933, became a cause celebre which shook 
the government to its foundations and opened the road for reaction. 

The counter-revolution had taken to arms (August 10, 1932) in 
Seville, when General Sanjurjo led troops and Civil Guards for 
restoration of the monarchy (the movement was smashed by the 
workers of Seville under revolutionary slogans which alarmed 
Azana more than did Sanjurjo). Now the counter-revolution dis- 
covered that it could out-do the republicans and socialists in dema- 
gogic appeals to the masses. The monarchist and Catholic parties 
sent their own investigating committee to Casas Viejas; they un- 
earthed a terrible story. Under direct orders from Minister of the 
Interior Quiroga to "take no prisoners," the Civil Guard had 
descended on the little village where, after two years of patient 
waiting for the Institute of Agrarian Reform to divide the neigh- 
boring Duke's estate, the peasants had moved in and begun to till 
the soil for themselves. The peasants scarcely could resist the Civil 
Guard; they were hunted through the fields like animals; twenty 

24 



were destroyed, others wounded. The survivors were warned by 
government officials to keep quiet unless they wished the same fate. 

Azana had refused to investigate, and delayed interpellations in 
the Cortes, Finally, the republican-socialist coalition had to face 
the music. The monarchist-Catholic deputies wept large tears for 
massacred peasants and shouted themselves hoarse at such a cruel 
government When Azana finally had to admit the truth about 
Casas Viejas, he sought to shift the blame to the Civil Guards; 
but they implicated Quiroga himself. Through it all, the socialist 
deputies sat silent, and voted a motion of confidence in Azana- 
Quiroga. The reactionaries had a real field day: to Casas Viejas 
they added denunciation of the government for its oppression of 
the labor press and the large number of political prisoners, mostly 
workers, in the jails (9,000 was one communist estimate in June 
I 933)- The reactionaries even submitted to the Cortes a bill pro- 
viding amnesty for all political prisoners, to the enthusiastic vivas 
of the anarchists. 

The workers and, above all, the peasantry were thoroughly 
bewildered by this bold and successful demagogy. Who were their 
friends? The republican-socialists had promised land but did not 
give it. "What did the republic give you to eat?" The republic 
had killed and jailed the brave peasants of Castilblanco and Casas 
Viejas. In vain did the socialists argue and plead — the peasants 
knew their own misery. 

The end came quite quickly. In June 1933, Zamora tried to 
dismiss the coalition but was out-maneuvered, while the socialists 
announced that any further attempt would be met by a general 
strike. It proved an empty threat. It is doubtful whether the 
bewildered and discouraged workers would have responded to a 
call ; they had been held in leash too long! Three months later, 
Zamora struck again, dismissing the cabinet and simultaneously 
dissolving the Cortes. T.erroux was appointed Premier. .. 

The elections were held in November ; the victory of the coali- 
tion of reactionaries and rightists was decisive. The socialists 
offered many explanations : the embittered anarchists had effectively 
campaigned for a boycott of the elections ; the communists had run 
separate tickets; the women were under clerical influence and 
voting the first time; the socialists — running independent tickets in 
most places, under the pressure of the rank and file — fell victim to 
their own stupid provisions for electoral machinery; the local 
bosses and landowners terrorized the villages and bought votes; 
the elections were fraudulent in many places, etc., etc. But this 
was a poor alibi and its details, indeed, were proof of the failure 

25 



of the republican-socialist coalition to win and inspire the masses 
or to crush the reaction in two and a half years of rule. The cold 
statistics are that, of 13 million eligibles, 8 million voted and more 
than half of them voted for the rightist coalition, the "anti-Marxist 
front," and another million voted for center parties. The petty- 
bourgeois republicans were wiped out, returning but seven depu- 
ties, most of them, like Azana, owing their election to socialist 
votes. 

As a witness for our analysis of the causes of the victory of 
reaction, we introduce Indalecio Prieto. In a mood of extreme 
honesty and frankness, on fleeing to Paris after the October 1934 
revolt, Prieto told Le Petit Journal, in answer to the question, 
"How do you explain the discontent in Spain, and the success of 
Gil Robles in the last elections ?" : 

"Precisely because of the right policy of the left regime," said 
Prieto. "This government born with the republic and created by 
the republic became the rampart of forces adverse to the republic. 
It is true that the left government of Spain carried out the policy 
of the right before Lerroux and Samper. In this period of perish- 
ing capitalism, the Spanish bourgeoisie could not carry through 
even the bourgeois-democratic revolution." 



lasses 



26 



IV. 



THE FIGHT AGAINST FASCISM : 
NOVEMBER 1933 TO FEBRUARY 1936 

Though governmental crises changed cabinet personnel six 
times during the next two years, Lerroux's Radicals remained 
ostensibly at the helm, with either Lerroux or his lieutenants — 
Samper, Martinez Barrios — as Premier. The Radicals gave a 
pledge to the left that no Gil Robles man would enter the cabinet. 
Actually, this arrangement was dictated by Gil Robles. He had 
studied the methods of Hitler and Mussolini, and felt he dared not 
openly take power until his fascist movement had acquired a mass 
base. 

It was certainly fitting that this degenerate and reactionary 
regime should be led by the Radicals, to whose malodorous history 
we have already referred. A party of such grotesque buffoonery 
("Every Nun a Mother!" had been a Lerroux slogan) could exist 
only so long as capitalist and proletarian camps did not lock in 
mortal combat; it was soon to dissolve, its finish occasioned, ap- 
propriately enough, by a series of scandalous revelations of finan- 
cial peculations involving the whole party leadership. But for the 
"bienio negro," the two black years, its cynical satyrs served the 
austere clericals as Premiers and Ministers. 

The legal structure provided by the republican-socialist coalition 
proved most useful to Lerroux-Gil Robles. Over a hundred issues 
of El Socialista were seized within a year. The Socialist Interna- 
tional estimated in September 1934 a total of 12,000 imprisoned 
workers. The socialist militia was proscribed and its arms confis- 
cated. Workers' meeting halls were closed and their union accounts 
scanned to discover use of funds for revolutionary purposes. 
Socialists and other workers elected in the municipal councils were 
removed. All the laws which the socialists had thought to use 
against "irresponsibles" were now used against them. 

Gil Robles' main problem was to secure a mass base, a difficult 
task because Spain has an extremely small middle class- Outside 
of the small group of prosperous peasant-owners in the North — 
Basque and Navarra — where a force similar to the Austrian 
clerical-fascist militia was organized, Gil Robles would have much 
difficulty in recruiting from the lower classes. There were, how- 

27 



ever, the million and a half unemployed city and land workers: to 
win them, Gil Robles introduced a bill providing unemployment 
benefits, seeking to exploit the fact that the unemployed had been 
neglected by the republican-socialist government. The clericals set 
up a program of government re-forestation, the work camps being 
schools for fascism. They set up a youth movement, a "Christian 
Trade Union Movement" and a "Christian Peasants Movement." 
Gil Robles even frightened his allies, the landowners of the 
Agrarian Party, with talk of dividing up the big estates. Even to 
unfriendly observers it appeared that Gil Robles was rolling up a 
mass following. But when, after months of patient labor and huge 
expenditure, the clerical-fascists attempted to show results by 
marshalling great mass gatherings, they were smashed and disin- 
tegrated by the socialist proletariat. 

Why? It is true that clerical fascism was often inept. Never- 
theless, the lack of a convincing demagogy had not prevented 
clerical-fascism from smashing the proletariat in Austria. Spanish 
clerical-fascism did not succeed for the reason that the proletariat, 
unlike that of Germany, did fight and, unlike the Austrians, fought 
before it was too late. 

For the Spanish proletariat evidenced a real determination not 
to allow itself to be beaten by fascism. The leftward evolution of 
the international social-democracy after the defeats of Germany 
and Austria, came in Spain more rapidly than elsewhere. Caballero 
joined the left wing, of which the Socialist Youth, deeply critical 
of both the Second and Third Internationals, was the mainstay. 
The left wing declared for preparing the proletarian revolution, to 
be achieved by armed insurrection. The center wing of the party, 
led by Prieto and Gonzales Pena, publicly pledged, in the Cortes, 
that any attempt at a fascist regime would be met by armed revo- 
lution. Only a small right wing under Besteiros refused to learn 
from Austria and Germany. In the U.G.T., Caballero introduced 
a regime of bold struggle and the right-wing socialists who ob- 
jected were forced to resign from its executive. Precisely because 
they had been so ideologically dependent on the Kautskys and 
Baucrs, the fait of their teachers enabled the Spanish socialists to 
make an extraordinarily sharp break with their past. The bour- 
geoisie, reading proletarian politics by way of bourgeois analogies, 
thought this was all bluff — until they were scared into conviction 
by the discovery of large depots of arms in socialist homes and 
buildings. 

With the Socialist Party ready to struggle, the fight against 
fascism was enormously facilitated, indeed it is not too much to 






say that only the leftward turn of the Socialist Party made pos- 
sible, under the existing conditions, the victory over fascism. To 
have rallied the masses in spite of the socialists, would have re- 
quired a revolutionary party of such calibre and mass proportions 
as simply did not exist in Spain. 

It proved impossible, however, to instill the Socialist Party 
with the Marxist conception of the insurrection. Even the best of 
the left socialist leaders held an extremely narrow conception. In 
pseudo-leftist terms similar to those of the anarchists and the 
"third-period" Stalinists, the socialists affirmed themselves no 
longer interested in the course of bourgeois-republican politics — 
as if the revolution cannot take advantage of, cannot influence, the 
course of bourgeois politics! For example; the rightists had car- 
ried Catalonia in the November elections, but such was the resur- 
gence of the masses that, only two months later, the left bloc 
swept the Catalonian municipal elections. The November defeat 
created a crisis within the C.N.T., part of the leadership demand- 
ing an end to boycotting all elections. Hence, a socialist campaign 
demanding dissolution of the Cortes and new elections could have 
aided the socialists in rallying the masses, could have torn syndi- 
calists away from the anarchists, could have driven a wedge be- 
tween Gil Robles and many supporters of Lerroux. Apparently, 
however, the socialists were afraid of not being left enough. 

The broad character of the proletarian insurrection was ex- 
plained by the Communist Left (Trotskyist). It devoted itself to 
efforts to build the indispensable instrument of the insurrection: 
workers' councils constituted by delegates representing all the 
labor parties and unions, the shops and streets; to be created in 
every locality and joined together nationally; a veritable mass 
leadership which as it functioned would succeed in drawing to 
it all non-party, non-union and anarchist workers seriously de- 
sirous of fighting against capitalism. Unfortunately, the social- 
ists failed to understand the profound need of these Workers' 
Alliances, The bureaucratic traditions were not to be so easily 
overcome; Caballero, no more than Prieto, could understand 
that the mass leadership of the revolution must be broader than 
the party leadership ; the socialist leaders thought that the Work- 
ers' Alliances meant that they would have merely to share lead- 
ership with the Communist Left and other dissident communist 
groups. Thus, though the Communist Left was persuasive enough 
to achieve their creation in Asturias and Valencia, and they 
nominally existed in Madrid and elsewhere, actually in most 
cases they were merely "top" committees, without elected or 

29 



lower-rank delegates, that is, little more than liaison committees 
between the leadership of the organizations involved; and even 
these were never completed by being joined together through 
a national committee. 

Incredible as it may seem, the fascist scribbler, Curzio Mala- 
parte's "Technique of the Coup D'etat/ 3 had a great vogue among 
the socialist leaders. They actually thought Malaparte's pre- 
posterous dialogues between Lenin and Trotsky, elaborating a 
purely putchist conception of seizure of power by small groups 
of armed men, were genuine transcripts ! The socialists seemed 
to be completely ignorant of the role of the masses in the October 
revolution of 1917. They failed to tell the masses what the coming 
revolution would mean to them. Though leading, in June 1934, 
a general strike of landowners involving nearly half a million, 
the socialists did not cement the bond between city and country 
by rallying the city workers to their aid with pickets and funds; 
nor was the strike used to systematically propagate the slogan 
of seizure of the land, although during those same months peas- 
ant seizures of land reached their highest peak. As a result, 
when the bitter strike ended without victory, the class-conscious- 
ness of the landworkers, always so much weaker than that of the 
industrial proletariat, was so shaken that they played no role 
at all in the October insurrection. Nor was the city proletariat 
prepared to seize the factories and public institutions, and im- 
pregnated with the conviction that it was up to them to over- 
throw capitalism and begin building the new order. Instead, the 
socialists hinted darkly of their complete preparations to effect 
the revolution themselves. 

In their partial struggles against the fascist menace, however, 
the socialists acquitted themselves magnificently. Gil Robles put 
his greatest efforts on three carefully-planned concentrations: 
that at Escurial, near Madrid, on April 22, 1934 ; that of the Cata- 
lonian landowners in Madrid on September 8th against liberal 
tenancy laws adopted by the Catalonian government, and that on 
September 9th at Covadongas, Asturias. Not one of these 
was successful. The workers declared general strikes covering 
each area; street car rails were torn up; trains were stopped; 
food and accommodations were made impossible; roads were 
blocked by barricades, and with fists and weapons the reaction- 
aries were turned back and dispersed. The small groups of 
wealthy young bloods and their servants, clergy and landowners, 
who managed to get through with the aid of the army and Civil 
Guard, presented such a ludicrous contrast to the forces of their 



30 



opponents that the clerical fascist claim to represent all Spain 
received an irreparable blow. 

The workers' opposition was re-inforced by the struggle for 
national liberation. Moves against its semi-autonomous status 
roused the Catalonian nation; Companys, still in power, had to 
endorse a series of huge demonstrations against Gil Robles, 
Finally, the nationalist deputies left the Cortes altogether. Reac- 
tionary centralization even drove the conservative Basques into 
hostility; their municipal councils, in August 1934, met and 
decided to refuse all collaboration with the government; Lerroux' 
answer, the arrest of all Basque mayors, only intensified the crisis. 

The clerical-fascists dared wait no longer. They had failed to 
build a mass base ; but with every day the opposition grew stronger. 
The disunity within the workers' ranks was slowly but surely 
tending to disappear. Despite Lerroux' clever game of gentle 
treatment for the C.N.T., in order to re-inforce the anti-political 
elements who were arguing that all governments were equally bad 
and Lerroux' government no worse than the last, socialist proposals 
were beginning to meet with acceptances; in a number of strikes 
the C.N.T. cooperated with the U.G.T. and in several places, 
notably in Asturias, the anarchists had entered the Workers' Al- 
liances. 

Even the Stalinists were compelled to come along. Since 
November 1933, they had met each socialist step to the left by the 
foulest kind of invective. Kuusinen, official reporter at the 13th 
Plenum of the Executive Committee of the Communist Interna- 
tional, December 1933, accused the Spanish socialists of taking 
part "in the preparation for establishing a fascist dictatorship." 
"There are no disagreements between the fascists and the social- 
fascists as far as the necessity for the further fascisation of the 
bourgeois dictatorship is concerned," said the E.C.CL "The social- 
democrats are in favor of fascisation provided the parliamentary 
form is preserved, . . . What is worrying these people is that in 
their furious zeal the fascists may hasten the doom of capitalism. 
The fascisation of social-democracy is proceeding at an accelerated 
pace." (Inprecorr, vol. 14, p. 109.) When in April 1934 the secre- 
tary of the Communist Party of Spain, Balbontin, resigned be- 
cause the Communist International refused to sanction a united 
front, he was answered : "The social- fascists have to maintain the 
illusion among the working masses that they are 'enemies' of 
fascism, and that there is a great struggle between socialism and 
fascism, as some petty-bourgeois counter-revolutionaries (Balbon^ 
tin) want to make the workers believe." {Ibid, p. 545.) In June 

31 



*934> when the socialist Juanita Rico was killed by fascists in 
Madrid, the Communist Party had to accept the socialist invitation 
for participation in the mass funeral. But on July 12 it rejected a 
socialist invitation for joint action and entry into the Workers* 
Alliances, and declared that "our correct united front tactics en- 
abled us to frustrate the counter-revolutionary plans of the Work- 
ers' Alliance.'* But by September 12 the pressure from its own 
ranks was irresistible, its delegates taking their seats in the Alli- 
ances on September 23— -just a few days before the armed struggle 
began. If the chief exponents of the theory of social- fascism had 
to join the proletarian united front, the anarchist-led workers of 
the C.N.T. would soon take the same road. Gil Robles dared wait 
no longer; he struck. 

Zamora named Lerroux to form a new cabinet; three of Gil 
Robles' nominees entered it. The socialists had declared they would 
answer such a move with arms. If they now retreated, the initia- 
tive would pass to Gil Robles, the masses would be demoralized. 
The socialists took up the challenge within six hours. At midnight 
of October 4, the Workers' Alliances and the U.G.T. declared a 
nationwide general strike. 

The stirring events of the next fifteen days are well-enough 
known not to be repeated here. Despite the absence of real Soviets, 
the lack of clarity concerning the goal of the struggle, the failure 
to call the peasants to take the land and the workers to seize the 
factories, the workers heroically threw themselves into the struggle. 
The backbone of the struggle was broken, however, when the re- 
fusal of the C.N.T. railroad workers to strike enabled the govern- 
ment to transport goods and troops. The few hours between the 
general strike call and the mobilization of the workers' militia was 
sufficient delay to enable the government to arrest the soldiers who 
were depended upon to split the army; the failure to arm the 
workers beforehand could not be made up for within a few hours, 
while government troops and police were raiding every likely 
building. There were many outright betrayals of arms depots; 
many key men fled when victory appeared out of the question. In 
Catalonia, which should have been the fortress of the uprising, 
dependence on the petty-bourgeois government of Companys proved 
fatal; more fearful of arming the workers than of capitulating to 
Gil Robles, Companys. broadcast reassuring statements until, sur- 
rounded by Madrid troops, he abjectly surrendered. 

And yet, in spite of all this, the workers put up a tremendous 
struggle. In Madrid, Bilbao and other cities, armed clashes went 
no further than guerilla sniping by the workers; but the general 

32 



strikes were carried on for a long period, sustained by the prole- 
tariat with exemplary enthusiasm and discipline, and paralyzing 
industrial and commercial life as no previous struggle had ever 
done in Spain. The greatest and most glorious struggle took place 
in Asturias. Here the Workers' Alliances were most nearly like 
Soviets, and had been functioning for a year under socialist and 
Communist Left leadership. Pena and Manuel Grossi led the 
miners, who made up for lack of arms by dynamite, tool of their 
trade, in a victorious insurrection. The "Workers and Peasants 
Republic" of Asturias gave the land to the peasants, confiscated the 
factories, tried their enemies in revolutionary tribunals, and for 
fifteen historic days held off the Foreign Legion and Moorish 
troops. There is a saying in Spain that had there been three 
Asturiases, the revolution would have been successful. Only the 
failure of the rebellion elsewhere enabled the government to con- 
centrate, its full force on Asturias. 

Nor did there follow a period of pessimism in the workers' 
ranks. On the contrary, there was widespread recognition that 
they had not been defeated in a general engagement; the masses 
had merely gone on strike and confined their fighting to driving 
off scabs; their ranks were still intact. They would fight again 
very soon, and this time would know better how to fight. The 
dread story of how 3,000 Asturian workers had been slaughtered, 
most of them after surrender, only served to steel the determina- 
tion of the masses. Gil Robles' attempts to seize workers' head- 
quarters, close down unions, confiscate funds, met with the fiercest 
resistance. To take the place of the confiscated labor press, illegal 
organs sprang up and were openly circulated. Executions of Octo- 
ber prisoners were met with general strikes. Numerous economic 
strikes demonstrated the unshaken morale of the proletariat. On 
May 1, 1935, despite the most frenzied efforts of the government, 
there was a complete stoppage of work, an absolute paralysis of 
everything except the public services manned by government 
troops. The amnesty campaigns, for reprieves of condemned men 
and release of the prisoners, drew in large sections of the peas^ 
antry and the petty-bourgeoisie: the cry of "Amnistia, amnistia!" 
drew hitherto untouched layers into political life. The Radical- 
clerical regime began to crack. 

President Zamora himself dared go no further. Before the 
struggle was over, he commuted the death sentences of the Catalan 
chiefs. The Radical Party split, the perspicacious Martinez Barrios 
— w r ho as Premier in December 1933 ferociously crushed an anar- 
chist putsch — leading an anti-fascist grouping, and joining with 



33 



Azana and other republicans, in May, to fight for amnesty. 
Lerroux himself now retreated, reprieving Pena and 18 other con- 
demned socialists, on March 29; when Gil Robles retaliated by 
driving his cabinet out of office, Lerroux was named Premier again 
by Zamora and dissolved the Cortes for a month in which the 
Radicals ruled alone; on May 4, Lerroux again formed a cabinet 
with clerical-fascists, this time with Gil Robles himself as Min- 
ister of War, but May Day had already made clear the turn of 
the tide. We now know that Gil Robles then took over the War 
Ministry for the purpose of preparing the army, arms depots and 
secret emplacements around Madrid, for the struggle which is now 
waging, and therefore knew as well as anybody that he would soon 
be ousted. 

Great anti-fascist rallies took place around the demand for dis- 
solution of the Cortes and new elections. Meetings of a hundred 
thousand, of two hundred thousand, became regular occurrences. 
Within the working class, the sentiment for unity was the domi- 
nant note. Terribly discredited for their refusal to join the October 
revolt, the anarchists sought to apologize by pointing to the re- 
pressions they were undergoing at the time from Companys and 
asserted they were ready to join with socialists in the struggle for 
freedom; Angel Pestana led a split and organized the Syndicalist 
Party for participation in the coming elections ; and even the C.N.T. 
leadership made it clear they would let their followers vote against 
the semi-fascist regime. With the tide, most of the bourgeois press 
turned against Gil Robles. It needed only the final touch of finan- 
cial scandal involving the Lerroux government. The clerical- 
fascists had arrived at an impasse; they had to retreat 

They had no idea, however, of the extent of the tidal wave 
which was to sweep over them. They thought that the February 
elections would give the balance of power to center groups. So, 
too, thought Azana who, eight days before the elections, sought a 
postponement, fearing the republican-workers' coalition had not 
had enough time for its propaganda. But the masses of peasants 
and workers, men and women, had their say. They swept the 
semi-fascist regime away. And not only at the polls. With the 
posting of the election returns, the masses came out on the streets. 
Within four days of the elections Azana was again at the head of 
the government and again crying for peace, for the workers to go 
back to work, banishing any spirit of vengeance. Already he was 
repeating the phrases, and pursuing the policies of T93I-I933 1 - 



34 



V. 



THE PEOPLE'S FRONT GOVERNMENT AND ITS 
SUPPORTERS : FEBRUARY 20 TO JULY ly, 1936 

Who are the criminals and traitors responsible for making it 
possible that, five months after the February days in which the 
workers drove the clerical-fascists from the government and the 
streets, the reactionaries can lead the army and police in such a 
powerful counter-revolution? 

Every serious communist and socialist wants to know the 
answer to this paramount question, for it has significance not only 
for Spain, and for France where a similar development is taking 
place, but for the policies of the proletariat throughout the world. 

The answer is : the criminals and traitors are the "left" repub- 
lican government and its supporters, the Communist Party and 
the reformist socialists. 

When the February elections approached, the left wing social- 
ists were opposed to a joint election ticket with the republicans, 
because they did not believe the republicans had any real following, 
and because of the hatred of the masses for these men : Companys' 
Catalan Esqucrra had been guilty of treachery in the October re- 
volt; Martinez Barrios' "Republican Union" was merely the 
remnant of Lerroux' Radicals, singing a new tune for the occasion ; 
Azana and his left republicans had repudiated the October revolt 
and admittedly were nothing but a handful of intellectuals. The 
left socialists were especially outraged when Prieto and the Com- 
munist Party agreed to give these republicans a majority in the 
joint election tickets: the tickets that carried gave the republicans 
i52 deputies to 116 for the workers' organizations 1 

But this was not the real crime. Voting blocs for purely elec- 
toral purposes are not a matter of principle for revolutionists, 
although extremely seldom are they warranted by tactical con- 
siderations. But such voting agreements must be limited solely to 
the exchange of votes. Before, during and after the election, the 
proletarian party continues to speak from its own platform, with 
its own program, explaining to the workers that it cannot arrive 
at any agreement on program with its temporary electoral allies. 
For a so-called "common program" could be, and was in fact, 

35 







only the program of the class enemy. This was the real crime, that 
the Spanish workers' organizations underwrote and guaranteed 
another charter for the bourgeoisie, necessarily identical with that 

°f W-I933- 

Prieto forgot that he had said: "In this period of perishing 
capitalism, the Spanish bourgeoisie could not even carry through 
the bourgeois-democratic revolution." The Communist Party, 
slavishly obeying the new international orientation, wiped out its 
1931-1933 criticism of the impossibility of the bourgeoisie under- 
taking the democratic tasks of the revolution, and declared the 
coalition with the bourgeoisie would carry out these tasks t* 

The People's Front program was a basically reactionary docu- 
ment: 

1. The agrarian question. The program states: "The republi- 
cans do not accept the principle of the nationalization of the land 
and its free distribution to the peasants, solicited by the delegates 
of the Socialist Party." Instead, it promises stimulation of exports, 
credits, security of tenure for tenants and state purchase of es- 
tates for rental to peasants. In other words, the program of 1931, 
which had already been proven a cruel joke. 

2. Expansion of Spanish economy. It promises a more efficient 
system of protective tariffs, institutions to guide industry (a de- 
partment of commerce, labor, etc.), putting the treasury and the 
banks at the service of "national reconstruction, without slurring 
over the fact that such subtle things as credit cannot be forced 
outside of the sure field of profitable and remunerative effort. The 
republican parties do not accept the measures of nationalization of 
the banks proposed by the workers' parties." "Great plans" of 
public works. "The republicans do not accept the subsidy to unem- 



*To inveigle the left socialists into the coalition, the Stalinists talked very "left": 
"The Communist Party knows the danger of Azoiia just as well as the Socialists who 
collaborated with him when he was in power. They know that lie h an enemy ottne 
working class. . . J But they also know that the defeat of the CEDA (Gil Rabies) 
would automatically bring with it a certain amount of relief from the repression, for 
a time at least." {Inprccorr , vol. 15, p. 762.) But did the Stalinists propose, then, 
that once Azaiia was in power, the workers should struggle against him? On the 
contrary. This "enemy of the workers" would fulfill the basic democratic tasks: "land 
to the peasants, freedom to the oppressed nationalities," "free Morocco from imperialist 
oppression." {Ibid, p. 639.) In order to justify this open espousal of the Menshevik 
conception of the bourgeois revolution, the Stalinists had to blacken their own past: 
Garcia, at the Seventh Congress, denounced the party's leadership of 1931: "Instead 
of advancing slogans which corresponded to the moment, they expressed themselves 
against the republic concerning which there were very strong illusions among the 
masses of the people, and advanced the slogans, 'Down with the bourgeois republic,' 
'I-ong live the Soviets and the dictatorship of the proletariat/ With the expulsion of 
these renegades (in 1932), our Spanish party began to live and work in a communist 
manner." {Ibid, p. 1310.) But these slogans had been raised not only by the "rene- 
gades," but by the party itself, up to the beginning of 1935, by Ercoli, Picck and 
the Comintern itself I 

36 



ploymcnt (dole) solicited by the workers' delegation. They believe 
that the measures of agrarian policy and those which are to be 
carried out in industry, public works and, in sum, the whole plan 
of national reconstruction, will fulfill not only its own ends but 
also the essential task of absorbing unemployment." This, too, like 

3. The Church. Only the section on education affects the 
clergy. The Republic "shall impel with the same rhythm as in the 
first years of the Republic the creation of primary schools. . ♦ . 
Private education shall be subject to vigilance in the interest of 
culture analogous to that of the public schools." We know, from 
the story of I 931-1933, what rhythm that was I 

4. The army. The only section that affects the army is that 
promising investigation and punishment of police abuses under the 
reaction and dismissal of commanding officers found guilty. Not 
even the lip-service to democratization of the army which was 
given in 193 1 ! Thus, the officers' corps is left intact. And in the 
five months that followed, the People's Front government put off 
any investigation of the Asturian massacres or other crimes per- 
petrated by the officers' corps ! 

5. The colonial and national questions. Not a word in the 
Popular Front program. Morocco remained in the hands of the 
Foreign Legionnaires until they finally took it over completely on 
July 18. The semi-autonomous statutes of Catalonia were later 
restored, but further autonomy not granted. A less liberal arrange- 
ment for the Basques. 

6. Democratization of the state apparatus. Mixed labor boards, 
Supreme Court, president, censorship, etc. — all were restored as in 
1931. The program promised reorganization of the labor boards 
so that "the interested parties may acquire a consciousness of the 
impartiality of their decisions"! And, as a final slap in the face, 
"The republican parties do not accept the workers' control solicited 
by the socialist delegation." 

For this mess of pottage the workers' leaders abdicated the 
class struggle against the bourgeois republic. 

Think of it ! The very program for the sake of which the 
Stalinists and socialists pledged to support the bourgeois republican 
government, made inevitable the onslaught of reaction. The eco- 
nomic foundations of reaction were left untouched, in land, indus- 
try, finance, the Church, the army, the State. The lower courts 
were hives of reaction; the labor press is filled, from February to 
July, with accounts of fascists caught red-handed and let free, and 
workers held on flimsy charges. On the day the counter-revolution 

37 



broke out, the prisons of Barcelona and Madrid were filled with 
thousands of political prisoners — workers, especially from the 
C.N.T., but also many from the U.G.T. The administrative bu- 
reaucracy was so rotten with reaction that it fell apart on July i& 
The whole diplomatic and consular corps, with a handful of ex- 
ceptions, went over to the fascists. 

The government "impartially" imposed a rigid press censorship, 
modified martial law, prohibition of demonstrations and meetings 
unless authorized— and at every critical moment authorization was 
withdrawn. In the critical days after the assassinations of Captain 
Castillo and Calvo Sotelo, the working-class headquarters were 
ordered closed. The day before the fascist outbreak the labor press 
appeared with gaping white spaces where the government censor- 
ship had lifted out editorials and sections of articles warning 
against the coup d'etat ! 

In the last three months before July 18, in desperate attempts 
to stop the strike movement, hundreds of strikers were arrested in 
batches, local general strikes declared illegal and socialist, com- 
munist, anarchist headquarters in the regions closed for weeks at 
a time. Three times in June the Madrid headquarters of the CN.T. 
was closed and its leadership jailed. 

The Stalinist and socialist leaders found it impossible to re- 
strain the hatred of their following for this repetition of 1931- 
1933. Even that most vociferous supporter of the government, Jose 
Diaz, secretary of the Communist Party, had to admit: 

"The government, which we are loyally supporting in the meas- 
ure that it completes the pact of the Popular Front, is a govern- 
ment that is commencing to lose the confidence of the workers." 
And then he adds this most significant admission: "And I say to 
the left republican government that its road is the wrong road of 
April 193 t." (Mundo Obrero, July 6, 1936.) 

Thus, in the very moment of pleading with the Asturian miners 
not to break with the Popular Front, Jose Diaz had to admit that 
February-July 1936 was a repetition of the disaster of 1931-1933! 
When the counter-revolution broke out, the Stalinists asserted that 
they had not ceased throughout to urge upon the government the 
necessity of smashing reaction. We have already seen, however, 
that the Popular Front program protected reaction on every im- 
portant front. 

No urging can change the republican bourgeoisie. Such a 
coalition government, committed to maintenance of capitalism, must 
act as Azana does both in 1931 and in 1936. The government be- 
haves identically in both cases because its program is one of 

38 






building a Spanish economy under capitalism, That means: it 
cannot touch the economic foundations of reaction because it does 
not want to destroy capitalism. Azana's basic program is put 
succinctly enough in two phrases soon after he came back to power : 
"No vengeance"; "Gil Robles too will one day be an Azanista." 
This program is not dictated by psychological weakness but by 
Azana's capitalist premises. His government has not been weak, 
it has made no "mistakes." It has permitted the reactionaries full 
scope for arming and mobilizing because that is an inevitable con- 
sequence of the capitalist nature of the Popular Front program. 

Trotsky has laid bare the anatomy of the People's Front gov- 
ernment's relation to reaction: 

"The officers' corps represents the guard of capital. Without 
this guard the bourgeoisie could not maintain itself for a single 
day. The selection of the individuals, their education and training 
make the officers, as a distinctive group, uncompromising enemies of 
socialism. That is how things stand in all bourgeois countries. . . . 
To eliminate four or five hundred reactionary agitators from the 
army means to leave everything basically as it was before. ... It 
is necessary to replace the troops in the barracks commanded by 
the officers' caste with the people's militia, that is, with the demo- 
cratic organization of the armed workers and peasants. There is 
no other solution. But such an army is incompatible with the 
domination of exploiters big and small. Can the republicans agree 
to such a measure? Not at all. The People's Front government, 
that is to say, the government of the coalition of the workers with 
the bourgeoisie, is in its very essence a government of capitulation 
to the bureaucracy and the officers. Such is the great lesson of the 
events in Spain, now being paid for with thousands of human 
lives." 

Just as socialist support of the government in 1933 made im- 
possible the warding off of reaction, so communist-socialist support 
in 1936 opened the gates for the counter-revolution. But, workers 
may ask, could they not, while supporting the government, also 
mobilize the workers and peasants against their enemies? No! 
Two important examples must suffice: 

1. In Albacete province, near Yeste, the peasants seized a big 
estate. On May 28, 1936, they were attacked by the Civil Guard, 
23 peasants killed and 30 wounded. The Minister of Interior 
greeted this blood-bath by sending a telegram of congratulations 
to the Civil Guard. The press correctly termed the situation a 
repetition of that in the Casas Viejas massacre of 1933. The in- 
terpellations in the Cortes on June 5 were awaited with bated 

39 



breath . . . but the communist and socialist deputies proceeded to 
absolve the government of all responsibility. "We know that the 
government is not responsible for what has happened, and that it 
will take measures to prevent its repetition, but these measures 
must be taken speedily in the interests of the People's Front," said 
a socialist deputy ." "The plot is clear,' 1 said the Stalinists : 

"The landowners systematically drive the peasants to des- 
peration and when the peasants take means to help themselves 
the landowners find venal civil guards prepared to shoot them 
down. The Civil Guard has carried out a blood-bath and the 
politicians of the right are doing their best to exploit this hap- 
pening in order to destroy the People's Front. Politically, the 
Yeste affair was unsuccessful, but it can and will be repeated. 
. . . The Communist Party was right when it countered the 
political maneuver of the right by placing the affair on its real 
basis and demanding that action should be taken against the 
rich landowners. It pointed out that a struggle must be con- 
ducted above all against misery, and starvation, which is in- 
creased by the caciques and landowners when they sabotage 
the orders of the government and the republic and refuse the 
masses bread. The Communist Party did this by demanding 
that the agrarian reforms should be accelerated." (Inprecorr, 
No. 32, July ii, 1936, p. 859.) 

In plain words: the struggle against the landowners should be 
confined to attempts to persuade the government to agrarian re- 
form. Because further struggles of the peasantry, by themselves, 
in militant action, on the land, which is the only real form of 
action, lead to events like Yeste, which cause conflict between the 
masses and the government, and we must avoid breaking the 
People's Front. "Not breaking the People's Front" can mean only 
to limit the struggle to friendly persuasion in the arena of parlia- 
ment ! 

2. The construction workers of Madrid, over 8o,coo strong, 
went on strike, their main demand being a 36-hour week. The 
government ordered the workers to arbitrate; and decided on a 
40-hour week. The U.G.T. and the communists agreed and in- 
structed their followers to return to work. The C.N.T., however, 
refused to accept the government settlement and, what is more, 
the U.G.T. workers followed the anarchists. The Stalinists gave 
the following "reasons" for calling off the strike: 

"It is a secret to nobody that after the 16th of February 
the fascist bosses introduced into their forms of struggle that 
of pushing the workers to declare conflicts, first, and to pro- 

40 



long their solution afterward, as far as necessary and possible, 
In order to drive the masses to desperation, which would take 
the form of sporadic acts without finality or effectiveness . . ♦ 
but which would confront the workers with the government, 
because this is one of the conditions . . . for a coup d'etat. . . . 
This attitude of the bosses . , . makes it necessary that the con- 
struction workers, even though not satisfied with the settle- 
ment, put an end to a situation the prolongation of which 
. involves a grave danger for all workers. . . . The moment has 
arrived to know how to end the strike, without renouncing the 
possibility created by the settlement of continuing to discuss 
in the mixed labor board the problem of salaries/' (Mundo 
Obrero, July 6.) 

In plain words: the bosses insist on fighting you, but this brings 
yon in conflict with the government — which means that the gov- 
ernment has more in common with the bosses than with youl — 
and endangers the People's Front. Therefore: end the strike. But 
then, why start strikes? However, the logic of reformism does 
not always go that far, because then the workers would repudiate 
it altogether. The workers, alas, insist on striking. The duty of 
the Communist Party is to stop the strike before the government 
gets mad. . . . 

This policy of confining the struggle against reaction to the 
parliamentary arena could mean only the eventual defeat of the 
masses. For it is a cardinal tenet of Marxism that the mobilisation 
of the masses can take place only through militant struggle. Had 
the workers followed the Popular Front policy, we would today be 
mourning the downfall of the Spanish proletariat. 



4t 



VI. 



THE MASSES STRUGGLE AGAINST FASCISM DESPITE 
THE PEOPLE'S FRONT: FEB. 16 TO JULY i6, 1936 



Fortunately for the future of the Spanish and the international 
working class, the masses from the first day of the February vic- 
tory gave no indication of ceasing the struggle. The lessons of 
193 1 -1933 had been burned into their consciousness. If they now, 
for the moment, were free of the domination of Gil Robles, they 
had won that freedom, arms in hand, in spite of the treachery of 
Companys and the "neutrality" of Azafia. The masses did not 
wait for Azafia to fulfill his promises. In the four days between 
the elections and Azana's hasty entry into the government, the 
masses effectively carried out the amnesty by tearing open the 
jails; so effectively, in fact, that the Permanent Committee of the 
old Cortes, including Gil Robles, thereafter unanimously ratified 
Azana's amnesty decree, both for fear of the masses in the streets 
and in order to make it appear that the constituted government 
remained in control of Spain. Nor did the workers wait for the 
government decree, and for the decision as to its constitutionality 
— which came from the Court of Constitutional Guarantees only 
on September 6 !— to get back the jobs of those dismissed after 
the October revolt; in every shop and factory the workers took 
along those dismissed and confronted the employers: "Either, or!" 
Whatever fixing of responsibility for the excesses of October was 
done, was by the "plebian method" of the aroused workers and 
peasants. The Stalinist and right wing socialist deputies shouted 
themselves hoarse, pleading with the workers to leave all this to 
the People's Front government. The workers knew better! 

The hated clergy, rulers of the "black two years," were also 
dealt with in the time-honored manner of oppressed peasants. 
Especially after it was clear the government would not touch the 
clergy, the masses took matters into their own hands. This con- 
sisted not only of burning churches, but of ordering the priests 
to leave the villages under sentence of death if they returned. Out 
of abject loyalty to the government, the Stalinists vilified the 
struggle against the clergy: "Remember that the setting fire to 
churches and monasteries brings support to the counter-revolu- 
tion!" (Inprecorr, August i, p. 928.) They were listened to no 

42 



more than was Azafia. In the province of Valencia, where the 
workers have now smashed the counter-revolution so decisively, 
there was scarcely a functioning church in June. 

In their full force, however, the mass actions began only after 
a series of events revealing the beginning of a rapprochement 
between the republicans and the reactionaries. Almost all the 
rightists voted for Barrios as Speaker of the Cortes, In March, 
Azana prolonged the press censorship and the state of alarm de- 
creed by the previous reactionary cabinet. On April 4, only eight 
days before the first municipal elections since 1931 were to be 
held, Azana decreed an indefinite postponement, upon the demand 
of the reactionaries. The day before, Azafia made a speech promis- 
ing the reactionaries that he would go no further than the limits 
fixed by the People's Front program, and that he would stop the 
strikes and seizures of the land. The speech was greeted with de- 
lirious joy by the reactionary press. Calvo Sotelo, the monarchist, 
declared: "It was the expression of a true conservative. His declar- 
ation of respect for the law and the Constitution should make a 
good impression on public opinion." The spokesman of Gil Robles' 
organization declared: "I support ninety per cent of the speech." 
On April i5, with many economic strikes going on, the rightists 
demanded an end to "the state of anarchy." [ "The troublemakers 
and fomenters will be exterminated," promised Minister Salvador 
on behalf of the cabinet. The same day, Azana delivered a sharp 
attack on the proletariat: "The government will revise the whole 
system of defense, in order to put an end to the reign of violence," 
declared Azana. "Communism would signify the death of Spain!" 
The spokesman for the Catalan landowners, Ventosa, hailed him: 
"Azana is the only man capable of offering the country security 
and defense of all legal rights." The same day, emboldened, fas- 
cists and Civil Guard officers shot up a workers' street in Madrid. 

Such was the governmental atmosphere when, on April 17, the 
C.N.T, declared a general strike in Madrid in protest against the 
fascist attack. The U.G.T. had not been asked to join the strike, 
and at first denounced it, as did the Stalinists. But the workers 
came out of all the shops and factories and public services, not 
because they had changed their allegiance, but because they wanted 
to fight, and only the anarchists were calling them to struggle. As 
the whole commercial life of Madrid began to be paralyzed, the 
Stalinists still declared "they may participate later. Their present 
decision was to support the Azana government insofar as it takes 
effective action against the reactionaries." (Daily Worker, April 
18.) That evening, when in spite of them the strike had proved ;i 



43 



huge success, the U.G.T. and the Stalinists belatedly endorsed it 
before it was called off. 

The bourgeoisie realized that the general strike euf April 17, 
and the wave of economic strikes which it inspired, wTQjjld develop 
into a proletarian offensive against capitalism and its agency, the 
government. How to stop this offensive? The army proposed to 
crush it forcibly. But even among the reactionaries there was 
serious doubt whether this was possible as yet. Azafia h&d a much 
better solution: let the workers' leaders stop the strikes. So, in- 
ducted in May as the new president of Spain to the fetwje of the 
"International" sung with clenched fists by Stalinist anjd socialist 
deputies who had elected him (the reactionaries did nftt put up an 
opposing candidate), Azafia asked Prieto to form a gpalition 
cabinet 

Prieto was more than willing to become Premier. Bu| the mere 
rumor produced such a storm of opposition in the Socialist Party, 
that he dared not accept. Caballero warned Prieto that he must 
not enter without the consent of the party ; and behind Caballero, 
and decidedly to the left of him, was most of the party and the 
U.G.T. 

Madrid, strongest of the party organizations, had adopted a 
new program in April, and was presenting it for adoption by the 
national convention in June. The program declared the bourgeoisie 
could not carry out the democratic tasks of the revolution, above 
all was incapable of settling the agrarian question and that there- 
fore the proletarian revolution was on the order of the day. It 
was weakened by many grave errors, notably the continued failure 
to understand the role of Soviets. But it signified a profound break 
with reformism, 

Logically, that program, accepted by Caballero, should have 
been accompanied by a decisive break with the Popular Front 
policy. Logic, however, scarcely guides centrists. Declaring that 
the government "has not yet entirely exhausted its possibilities," 
and that trade union unity and merger of the Marxist parties must 
precede the revolution, Caballero continued to direct the left 
socialist deputies in alternately abusing the government but sup- 
porting it on every crucial question. Nevertheless, in spite of his 
frequent love feasts of oratory with the Stalinists, the left socialist 
organ under his control, Claridad, continued to be a daily con- 
trast to the organs of the Communist Party and the right wing 
socialists. Claridad effectively exposed the fraudulent character 
of the agrarian program; showed how Prieto's pet projects of 
irrigation works were enriching the big landowners while the 



44 



peasants reamained poor, and even carried articles calling upon 
the peasantry to seize the big estates. Simultaneously, the Stalinists 
and right wing socialists praised regularly the Quiroga govern- 
ment's agrarian reform! Though Caballero finally had agreed to 
support Azafia for the presidency, Claridad had to carry Javier 
Bueno's articles denouncing Azafia as the candidate of the rightists. 
The revolutionary elements among the left socialists were so strong 
that they had their say despite Caballero, 

On the issue of Prieto's entry into the government, Caballero 
dared not break with his revolutionary following. Equally, how- 
ever, Prieto dared not submit the question for decision to the 
national convention. There then took place an extraordinary 
campaign of pressure to induce the party to let Prieto become 
Premier. Almost everybody outside the Socialist Party wanted 
Prieto in the government. The republican press asked for an end 
of the party conflict — and its solution by Prieto's entry. Barrios' 
"Republican Union" Party, by this time representing much of the 
industrial bourgeoisie since Lerroux' Radicals had disappeared, 
declared it wanted a socialist premier, and that he be Prieto. Miguel 
Maura, representing the extreme right industrialists and land-- 
owners, called for an authoritarian regime, with the Cortes sus- 
pended, and carried out by "all republicans and those socialists 
not contaminated by revolutionary lunacy." The Catalan govern- 
ment and its supporters, including the Stalinists, called for entry of 
the socialists. 

The Stalinists sought to make support of this reactionary demand 
sound very radical. "If the government continues on this road 
(the false road of 1931), we will work, not breaking the Popular 
Front, but strengthening it and pushing it toward the solution of a 
government of a popular revolutionary type, which will do those 
things which this government has not understood or has not 
wished to understand." {Mitndo Obrcro, July 6.) But all that was 
required to make this government completely identical with that of 
193 1 was to include in it proletarian hostages! 

Even the P.O.U.M., "Workers Party of Marxist Unity," joined 
the chorus. Formed by a fusion of the so-called Trotskyists with 
the "Workers and Peasants Bloc," a semi-nationalist Catalan 
group, it had signed the Popular Front pact, had declared its 
"independence" of the pact and attacked the concept of the People's 
Front, only again to support a People's Front for the municipal 
elections, and again to declare its independence when Azafia 
decreed the postponement In order to justify its refusal to enter 
the Socialist Party, as Trotsky proposed, and thereby throw its 

45 



forces— numbering only a few thousand even according to its own 
estimates — on the side of the left wing, it refused to see the pro- 
found significance of the development of the left wing. In fact, 
in La Batalla of May 22nd, it denied that there" was any real 
difference between the left and right wings. This false estimate 
led to deplorable tactics: at a time when the left socialists were 
engaged in a struggle with the right wing on this question, the 
P.O.U.M. called for "an authentic Government of the Popular 
Front, with the direct (ministerial) participation of the Socialist 
and Communist Parties" as a means to "complete the democratic 
experience of the masses" and hasten the revolution. 

This well-nigh universal pressure failed to weaken the determi- 
nation of the left socialists. Whereupon Prieto tried desperate 
measures. Under his control, the National Executive Committee 
postponed the convention .from June to October ; outlawed Claridad 
and cut it off from party funds; instructed the district com- 
mittees to "reorganize" dissident sections, and ran a farcical 
election to fill vacancies on the executive, not counting the left 
wing votes. The left wing repudiated these actions, and declared 
the Prieto leadership had forfeited the confidence of the party. 

In spite of all Prieto's moves it was clear that the left wing had 
the masses. Caballero had been re-elected Secretary of the U.G.T. 
by overwhelming numbers. And behind Caballero stood much more 
determined elements. Javier Bueno, a leader of the Asturian 
rebellion, was speaking at great meetings and demanding not only 
an end to Prieto's politics, but also to Caballero's. Significant 
sections of the party had refused to support the Popular Front 
ticket in the presidential election, and had put up straight socialist 
tickets. While Caballero's national policy for the U.G.T. was little 
better than that of the Stalinists, other leaders, on a local or indus- 
trial scale, were joining with the C.N.T. in powerful and successful 
strikes. Permanent committees joined the two unions in the ports, 
on the ships and on the railroads ; port and ship workers thereby 
won nationwide strikes, and the railroad workers had just voted 
for a national strike when the revolt broke out. The backward 
peasant elements in the party were learned enough to know what 
they wanted. Two days after Vidarte, secretary to the Prieto 
leadership, had indignantly denied to the United Press the rumor 
that the socialist peasantry of Badajoz were seizing the land, 
25,ooo peasant families, socialist-led, took over the big estates. 
The same thing took place elsewhere; Prieto's attempt to conceal 
the revolutionary significance of the seizure, by getting the 
Institute for Agrarian Reform to send in its engineers and legalize 

46 






the seizure, only encouraged left socialists to repeat the process. 
The grim miners of Asturias, once the stronghold of the Prieto 
group, now engaged in political strikes against the government; 
30,000 of them struck on June 13, demanding dismissal of the 
Ministers of Labor and Agriculture (the latter, Funes, a darling 
of the Stalinists!), and on June 19 fulfilled their threat of having 
all 90,000 miners cease work. The government managed to get 
them back to work on June 23, but on July 6 they, and the workers 
of Oviedo, threatened a general strike against the dismissal by the 
government of Governor Bosque of Asturias (Calvo Sotelo, chief 
of the reaction, had received an insulting telegram from the pro- 
labor governor, and successfully insisted upon his dismissal). The 
miners repeated their demand, on July i5, and would have gone on 
strike had not the revolt broken out. In the face of all these 
unambiguous indications of the revolutionary temper of the social- 
ist proletariat, Prieto dared not risk entry into the cabinet. 

Meanwhile, the strike wave reached the proportions of a revolu- 
tionary crisis. We can only roughly indicate its magnitude. Every 
city of any importance had at least one general strike during those 
five months. Nearly a million were on strike on June 10; a half 
million on June 20; a million on June 24; over a million during 
the first days of July. The strikes covered both the cities and the 
agricultural workers; the latter shattered the traditional village 
boundaries of struggle, waging, for example, a five weeks' strike 
covering Malaga province and 125,000 peasant families. 

El Socialista denounced the tidal wave: 'The system is gen- 
uinely anarchistic and provokes the irritation of the rightists." 
Mundo Obrero pleaded with the workers that the struggles 
were bringing them into collision with the Popular Front gov- 
ernment. That government, and its provincial governors, threw 
the Civil Guard against the strikers in desperate attempts to halt 
the offensive. Particularly desperate measures were taken against 
the C.N.T. Companys filled the Barcelona jails with anarchists. 
In Madrid, their headquarters were closed and 180 of them 
arrested in a raid on May 31 ; on June 4, Minister Augusto Barcia 
announced that "if the syndicalists persist in disobeying the 
orders of the Ministry of Labor, the government proposes to 
declare syndicalism outside the law." On June 19, the govern- 
ment again closed the C.N.T. headquarters. But this was not 
1 93 1, when Caballero himself led the attack on the C.N.T.! The 
U.G.T. now solidarized itself with its anarcho-syndicalist com- 
rades, and the government had to retreat. 

Strikes for political demands against the government also devel- 

47 




oped. On June 8, a general strike was called in Lerida to force 
the government to fulfill its promise to feed the unemployed. The 
Murcia miners went out on June 24 protesting against the gov- 
ernment's failure to fulfill electoral promises of bettering condi- 
tions. On July 2, the Federation of Agricultural Workers of 
Andalusia demanded government funds to make up for loss of 
crops. We have already mentioned the Asturian political strikes. 
On July 8, students in Barcelona Catholic schools struck, 
demanding the priests be turned out and lay teachers provided. 
On July 14, workers demonstrated in Madrid, carrying enlarged 
photographs of a formal ball held at the Brazilian Embassy, 
titled, "The republican ministers amuse themselves while the 
workers die." These are merely examples of political issues raised 
by the masses. iWe may be sure that they were not led by sup- 
porters of the People's Front I 

Neither El Socialista's intimations that Claridad obtained 
money from a bank of Catholic reactionaries, nor the filthy 
slanders of Mundo Obrero that the C.N.T. was in league with 
fascist groups, nor the government's repressive measures, could 
halt the revolutionary development of the left socialists, the 
growing unity between C.N.T. and U.G.T. and the tidal wave of 
strikes. 

Nor did the scope for fascist organization and arming pro- 
vided by the People's Front policy go unresisted by the militant 
proletariat. They left to El Socialista and Mundo Obrero 
pleading with the government to stop the fascists. The revolu- 
tionary workers confronted the fascists on the street. From Feb- 
ruary to the July revolt, these street fights accounted for two 
deaths and six wounded per day. This was, in truth, civil war; 
and the fascists suffered the greatest casualties. The deadly blows 
to the morale of the fascist groups also steeled thousands of 
militants for leadership on July 18. 

Finally, the wage and hour improvements won by the strikes, 
not being followed by an increase in production, of which Spanish 
industry is deprived by the world crisis, led to price increases; 
early in July the Madrid press estimated a 20% rise in one 
month. The workers felt they had been cheated, and prepared for 
more decisive strikes for more decisive demands. (The identical 
process is now — mid- September — taking place in France!) 

The reaction — which is to say, Spanish capitalism— had pinned 
its hopes on Azaiia for a time; when he proved impotent to stop 
the workers, its hopes had shifted to Prieto; but the left socialists 
prevented that solution. There could be no hope, therefore, of 

48 






a repetition of 1931-1933, and a peaceful return of reaction. 
The right wing socialists and Stalinists were powerless to 
prevent the revolutionary development of the Spanish proletariat. 
I laving armed and prepared for the worst, the reactionaries dared 
not wait until the revolutionary tide overwhelmed them. With 
ninety-nine per cent of the officer corps, the Foreign Legion and 
Moorish troops, and most of the fifty provincial garrisons in 
their hands, Spanish capitalism revolted against impending doom. 



A<) 




ViL 



COUNTER-REVOLUTION AND DUAL POWER 

i. The Treachery of the People's Front Government 
Azafia and the People's Front government answered the counter- 
revolution by attempting to come to terms with it 

Hopelessly compromised by their People's Front policy, the 
Stalinists have attempted to explain away this treachery by in- 
venting a distinction between "weak" republicans like Barrios and 
"strong" ones like Azafia, The truth is that Azana led the attempt 
to compromise with the fascist generals and that all the republican 
groups were implicated in his move. 

Here, collected from El Socialista and Claridad, are the indis- 
putable facts: 

On the morning of July 17, General Franco, having seized 
Morocco, radioed his manifesto to the garrisons. It was received 
at the naval station near Madrid by a loyal operator and promptly 
revealed to the Minister of the Navy. But the government did not 
divulge the news until 9 o'clock of the 18th; and then it issued only 
a reassuring note that Spain was completely under government 
control. Two other notes were issued by the government later in 
the day, the last at 3:iS P.M., when the government had full and 
positive information of the scope of the rising, including the 
seizure of Seville. Yet that final note said : 

"The Government speaks again in order to confirm the 
absolute tranquility of the whole Peninsula. 

"The Government acknowledges the offers of support which 
it has received [from the workers 1 organizations] and, while 
being grateful for them, declares that the best aid that can be 
given to the Government is to guarantee the normality of daily 
life, in order to set a high example of serenity and of confi- 
dence in the means of the military strength of the State. 

'Thanks to the foresighted means adopted by the authori- 
ties, a broad movement of aggression against the republic may 
be deemed to have been broken up ; it has found no assistance 
in the Peninsula and has only succeeded in securing followers 
in a fraction of the army in Morocco. ... 

"These measures, together with the customary orders to the 
forces in Morocco who are laboring to overcome the rising, 

5o 



permit us to affirm that the action of the Government will be 
sufficient to reestablish normality." (Claridad, July 18.) 
Having thus refused to arm the workers, and justified its 
treacherous refusal by this incredibly dishonest note, the cabinet 
of Azana went into an all-night conference. There, Azana had 
Quiroga's cabinet of Azana's Left .Republicans resign; and ap- 
pointed as Premier the former lieutenant of Lerroux, Martinez 
Barrios, head of the Republican Union Party. Barrios and Azana 
picked a "respectable" cabinet of Barrios men and Right Wing 
Republicans outside the People's Front. This cabinet, too, was 
committed to refusing to arm the workers. 

Rather than arm the workers— their allies in the People's Front, 
who had put them into power ! — Azana and the republicans were 
preparing to make peace with the fascists, at tfie expense of the 
workers. Had Azana carried out his plan y the fascists would have 
conquered Spain, 

But in the very hours that the ministers huddled together in the 
presidential palace, the proletariat was already mobilizing. In 
Madrid itself the Socialist Youth militia was distributing its scant 
store of arms; was throwing up barricades on key streets and 
around the Montana barracks ; was organizing its patrols for house 
to house seizures of reactionaries; at midnight had launched the 
first attack on the barracks. In Barcelona, remembering the 
treachery in October 1934 of this same President of Catalonia, 
Companys, the C.N.T. and P.O.U.M. ("Workers Party") militants 
had stormed several government arms depots on the afternoon of 
the 1 8th. By the time the garrison revolted, at one the next morn j 
ing, the armed workers had surrounded the troops in an iron ring, 
arming eager recruits with equipment seized from the fascists, and 
with whatever could be confiscated from the department stores; 
later the militia seized the regular arsenals. The Asturian miners 
had outfitted a column of six thousand for a march on Madrid, 
before the ministerial crisis was well over. In Malaga, strategic 
port opposite Morocco, the ingenious workers, unarmed, had sur- 
rounded the reactionary garrison with a wall of gasoline-fired 
houses and barricades. In Valencia, refused arms by the Madrid 
governor, the workers prepared to face the troops with barricades, 
cobble-stones and kitchen-knives — until their comrades within the 
garrison shot the officers and gave arms to the workers. In a word: 
without so much as a by your leave to the government, the prole- 
l.iriat had begun a war to the death against the fascists. Com- 
punys and Azana found themselves confronted by the first regi- 
ments of the Red Army of the Spanish proletariat. 

5i 




T 



The Azana-Barrios scheme for a deal with the fascist generals 
collapsed because the workers had prevented it. And for no other 
reason! Thanks only to their utter distrust of the government the 
masses were able to prevent their betrayal. Independent mobiliza- 
tion, under their own leadership, with their own banners— only 
this prevented the victory of fascism. 

Thus it was that, side by side with the formal power still held 
by the government, there arose the "unofficial" but far more sub- 
stantial power of the armed proletariat-the "dual power, Len.n 
called it. One power, that of Azafia and Companys, was already 
too weak to challenge the existence of the other; the other, that ot 
the armed proletariat, was not yet strong enough, not yet conscious 
enough of the necessity, to dispense with the existence of the other. 
The phenomenon of "dual power" has accompanied all proletarian 
revolutions; it signifies that the class struggle is about to reach the 
point where either one or the other must become undisputed master; 
it is a critical balancing of alternatives on a razor edge; a long 
period of equilibrium is out of the question, either one or the other 

must soon prevail ! ' :„fi«:+plv 

The crushing of the counter-revolution will make infinitely 
more likely the establishment of a workers' and peasants govern- 
ment. The interests of the bourgeoisie are not, therefore, served by 
a victory over the fascist generals: the true interests of Spanish 
capitalism lie in a victory of the counter-revolution or, what ts 
the same thing, a compromise with it. That ,s why the People 
Front government behaved so treacherously in the hist days ot 
he counter-revolution. That is why the Peoples Front govcrn- 
ment continued to behave treacherously thereafter Surrounded 
by armed workers, the republicans dared not openly go over to 
the enemy; but their policy, at the front and m therear, per- 
mitted the counter-revolution success after success This was the 
plain meaning of the change of government after he fall of Iron. 
It was clear enough in the statement to the press by a spokesman 
for the Caballero cabinet, who 

"dwelt at length on the improvement of the morale ot the 
militia by Largo Caballero's assumption of the premiership 

laSt "^They know now that they are being directed intehV 
eentlv . They know that if they die, it will not be the fault 
of the haphazard and weak-kneed command which character- 
ized the last administration. 

" 'We shall now take the offensive and attack the Rebels 
where they are weak, where we want to attack them instead 

52 




of, as before, attacking where they are strong and able to 

repel us.'" (N. 7. Times, Sept. 7.) 
If so damning an indictment of the Azana-Giral government is 
made by those who will yet have to explain to the proletariat why 
they permitted such a government to direct the struggle for the 
first seven weeks, the whole truth must be much, much worse. 

The ostensible justification for the People's Front was that it 
secured the aid of the republicans against counter-revolutionary 
fascism. The People's Front, however, served the opposite func- 
tion: it prevented the proletariat from tearing away from the 
republican politicians the petty-bourgeoisie who, in all victorious 
revolutions, throw in their lot with the proletariat when they see 
it determinedly striking out for a new and rich life under a new 
social order. The People's Front subordinated both the petty- 
bourgeoisie and the proletarian masses to the treacherous leader- 
ship of the bourgeois politicians. Only the dual power of the 
proletariat has so far prevented the victory of reaction. 

2. The Dual Power in Catalonia 

Precisely in Catalonia, where the People's Front was weakest, 
the dual power has developed most decisively, and made the four 
Catalonian provinces the most impregnable fortress of the civil 
war. 

The C.N.T. and the F.A.I. (Iberian Anarchist Federation), 
leading most of the Catalonian proletariat and much of the 
peasantry, was never part of the People's Front. The P.O.U.M., 
after much vacillation, finally broke with the People's Front, made 
a sharp turn to the left, and with extraordinary rapidity grew 
ilnto a mass party in Catalonia in the two months of civil war. 
Thus, the only proletarian adherents to the People's Front in 
Catalonia are the U.G.T., incomparably weaker here than the 
C.N.T., and the Stalinist organization, the so-called "United 
Socialist Party." Far from weakening its capacities for struggle, 
as the People's Front apologists had been declaring, it was this 
relative freedom from bourgeois ties that enabled the Catalonian 
masses to conquer the counter-revolution at home and to come to 
the aid of the rest of Spain. Herein lies a profound lesson for 
those who still believe in the People's Front t 

The Catalonian proletariat understands that civil war must 
be fought by revolutionary methods, and not under the slogans of 
bourgeois democracy. It understands that civil war cannot be 
fought by military methods alone, but that the political methods, 

53 



arousing the great masses to action, can even take the army away 
from its reactionary officers. It directs the struggle, at the front 
and in the rear, not through agencies of the government but 
through organs controlled by the proletarian organizations. 

The "Central Committee of Anti-Fascist Militias of Catalonia" 
directs the struggle. The anarchists have three representatives for 
the C.N.T. and two for the RAJ. The U.G.T. was given three, 
though it is small, to encourage similar organization elsewhere. 
The P.O.U.M, has one, the peasant organization one, and the 
Stalinists one. The left bourgeois parties have four, making a 
total of fifteen. In actuality, the Central Committee is dominated 
by the C.N.T., the RAJ. and the P.O.U.M. 

For these have a program so fundamentally different from 
that of Madrid, that the U.G.T. and the Stalinists are dragged 
along only because they fear to be cast aside, and the left bour- 
geoisie because they are at the mercy of the armed proletariat. 
That program is identical with that raised by the Bolsheviks in 
August 1917 in the struggle against Kornilov's counter-revolution: 
Workers' control of production, arousing the highest pitch of 
initiative and enthusiasm of the proletariat. Mobilization of the 
armed masses, independent of government' control. Vigilance 
against betrayal by the government and no renunciation, not for 
a moment, of the sharpest criticism of it And the draivitig into 
the struggle of the peasantry by ihe only slogan which can vitalise 
the starving and backward countryside: LAND TO THOSE 
WHO TILL IT! 

As soon as the counter-revolution began, the C.N.T. took over 
all transportation, public utilities and big industrial plants. Demo- 
cratic control is ensured by election of factory committees based 
on proportional representation. Such committees have also been 
set up to control production in those shops and factories still 
privately owned. 

Direction of economic life is now in the hands of the "Council 
of Economy," which, while still linked to the old order, finds 
itself compellc-d at least to talk about socialistic measures. 
It has five members from the anarcho-syndicalists, one from the 
P.O.U.M., one from the U.G.T. and one from tha Catalonian 
government. On August 19, it issued its program, which includes: 
collectivization of landed estates, to be run by landworkers' 
unions; collectivization of public utilities, transportation and big 
industry; collectivization of establishments abandoned by their 
owners; workers' control of banks until they are nationalized; 
workers 1 control of all establishments continuing under private 

5 4 



ownership; absorption of unemployed in collectivized agriculture 
and industry; electrification of Catalonia; monopoly of foreign 
trade to protect the new economic order. 

In the midst of civil war the factory committees are demon- 
strating the superiority of proletarian methods of production. The 
C.N.T.-U.G.T. committee running the railways and subways re- 
ports that by eliminating high salaries of directors, sinecures and 
waste, tens of thousands of pesetas have been saved, wages of 
most workers raised to create equalization of pay, extension of 
the lines is planned, fares will be reduced, trains run on time, and 
the six-hour day will soon be introduced] 

The metal plants have been transformed into munitions works, 
the automobile factories are producing armored cars and airplanes. 
The latest dispatches show that the Madrid government depends 
greatly on Catalonia for these all-important war supplies. A 
considerable part of the forces protecting the Madrid front were 
despatched there by the Catalonian militia. 

Few realize the significance of the successful campaign being 
fought by the Catalonian militia on the Zaragoza-Huesca front. 
In the plans of the fascist generals Zaragoza, seat of the War 
College and one of the biggest army garrisons, was to have been 
for eastern Spain what Burgos has been in the west But the 
rapidity with which the Catalonian proletariat crushed the Cata- 
lonian garrisons and marched westward into Aragon defeated 
the fascist plans. 

The Catalonian militia marched into Aragon as an army of 
social liberation. They have been able to paralyze the mobility of 
the reactionary army by rousing the peasantry as the Madrid 
forces have been unable to. Arriving in a village, the militia com- 
mittees sponsor the election of a village anti-fascist committee, to 
which are turned over all the large estates, and the crops, supplies, 
cattle, tools, tractors, etc. belonging to big landowners and reac- 
tionaries. The village committee organizes production on the new 
basis and creates a village militia to carry out socialization and 
fight reaction. Captured reactionaries are placed before the gen- 
eral assemby of the village for trial. All property titles, mortgages 
and debt documents in the official records go into a bonfire. 
Having thus transformed the world of the village, the Catalonian 
columns can go forward, secure in the knowledge that every vil- 
lage so dealt with is a fortress of the revolution! 

The Catalonian government continues to exist, passes decrees 
approving the steps taken by the proletariat, pretends that it is 
leading the struggle, The Madrid government abets this pretense, 

55 



by consulting with Companys, but then it must go on to transact 
all business with the militia and factory committees. At the end 
of July Companys made a "clever" attempt to recoup power, by 
reorganizing the Catalonian cabinet, three members of the Stal- 
inist "United Socialist Party" entering it. But this maneuver fell 
through in a few days. The anarcho-syndicalists served notice on 
the Stalinists that they considered their entry into the cabinet as 
disruption of the proletarian bloc, and the Stalinists were com- 
pelled to resign from the cabinet. Such little influence as the 
government still has, by virtue of its representation in the Council 
of Economy and the Central Committee of Anti-Fascist Militias, 
will undoubtedly tend to disappear as these organs, in accordance 
with the proposal of the P.O.U.M., are broadened into elective 
bodies of delegates from the militia and factories. 

The revolutionary course of the Catalonian proletariat and its 
consequent successes in production and at the front constitute the 
most damning indictment of the Popular Front policy which is still 
being pursued in Madrid. Only on the road taken by the Cat- 
alonian proletariat can the Spanish masses defeat the counter- 
revolution ! 

3. The Madrid Regime 

While the Catalonian workers were ensuring for themselves 
the power which had fallen from the hands of the government, 
the right wing socialists and the Stalinists were busily putting 1 
the power back into the hands of the Madrid government. As a 
result, the relation of the government and the proletarian organi- 
zations is almost the opposite to that prevailing in Catalonia. 

We have already seen how treacherous was the policy of the 
Azana-Giral government. Yet it was to this government that the 
right wing socialists and Stalinists ceded all power! 

There is not the slightest difference between the outlook of the 
bourgeoisie and these 'leaders'* of workers. The workers' militia 
must limit its struggle to the defense of the republic, that is, to 
the maintenance of capitalism, to support the bourgeois govern- 
ment loyally, not to dream of socialism. The Stalinists issued a 
manifesto on August 18, wildly praised by the bourgeois press for 
good and sufficient reason: it does not include a single social 
demand! Not a word about seizure of the land, freedom for 
Morocco, workers' control of production— nothing but abject loy- 
alty to the bourgeoisie! Nor is this all. The Stalinists want no 
workers' state even after the crushing of the counter-revolution: 
"It is absolutely false that the present workers' movement has for 

56 



■ 



its object the establishment of a proletarian dictatorship after 
the revolution has terminated," declares the Stalinist chief, Her- 
nandez, on August 10. "It cannot be said we have a social motive 
for our participation in the war. We Communists are the first to 
repudiate this supposition. We are motivated exclusively by a 
desire to defend the democratic republic." Any property seized is 
purely as a temporary defense measure, declare the Spanish Stal- 
inists. (Daily Worker, September 18), To realize how alien to 
Leninism is such craven nonsense, one has only to recall Lenin's 
injunctions, in the midst of the Kornilov struggle, against any 
political support to the government, and his program of fighting 
the counter-revolution by seizing the land and establishing 
workers' control of production. Having recruited most of its fol- 
lowing under People's Front slogans since February, the Stalin- 
ist party can use them for the most shameless devotion to a 
bourgeois regime of which any proletarian party has ever been 
guilty. 

The left socialists distinguished themselves from the Stalinist 
position, by an editorial entitled, "Dialectic of War and Revo- 
lution" : 

"Some people are saying: 'Let us smash fascism first, let 
us finish the war victoriously, and then there will be time to 
speak of revolution and to make it if necessary.' Those who 
are saying this have not contemplated maturely upon the for- 
midable dialectical process which is carrying us all along. 
The war and the revolution are one and the same thing. They 
not only do not exclude or hinder each other, but supplement 
and support each other. The war needs the revolution for its 
triumph, in the same way that the revolution has required the 
war. ... It is the revolution in the rear that will make more 
assured and more inspired the victory on the fields of battle." 
(Claridad, August 22.) 

This correct conception, impressed upon the left socialists by 
the example of the Catalonian proletariat is then, however, given 
a typical centrist distortion by the editors of Claridad, by the 
simple process of crediting to the Catalonian government the 
achievements actually carried through by the workers. The edi- 
torial ends : 

"The clear historic vision exemplified by the Catalonian 
Generalidad deserves only praise. It has decreed govern- 
mental measures that reflect the inextricable relation between 
the war and the revolution. To expropriate rebellious capital 
and to collectivize it is the best way of collaborating for tri- 

57 



umph and to extract from the war the maximum social con- 
quests, as well as to destroy the enemy's economic power. . . . 
On this point and on the organization of the parties and 
unions around the government to make the war and the revo- 
lution simultaneously, Catalonia is a beacon for Castile and 
the rest of Spain." 
On no question has the anti-proletarian character of the Stal- 
inist program been revealed so much as when the Azana-Giral 
government attempted to create a new army. The bourgeoisie 
recognized that, despite the subordination of the workers militia 
to the military commands of the general staff, the internal struc- 
ture of the militia, organized in separate columns adhering to the 
various proletarian parties and unions and led by elected workers 
rendered hopeless any attempt to secure actual bourgeois control 
over them. Whereupon the government called for enlistment ot 
ten thousand reserve soldiers as a separate force under direct 
government control. The Stalinist manifesto of August 1 8 sup- 
ported this counter-revolutionary proposal, in accordance with the 
conception of the militia which Mundo Obrero had declared on 
August ii : 

"No Nothing of militias ruled by parties and organiza- 
tions. But neither of militias of parties or of unions They 
are militias that have their fundamental base in the Peoples 
Front, faithful to the politics of the People's Front. 
"Some comrades have wished to see in the creation of the new 
voluntary army something like a menace to the role of the mil- 
itias," said Mundo Obrero, August 21. The Stalinists denied such 
a possibility! "What is involved is to complement and ^enforce 
the militia to give it greater efficacy and speedily end the war 
And it ended its defense of the governmental proposal Our 
slogan, today as yesterday, is the same for this. Everything for the 
People's Front and everything through the Peoples Front. 

This thoroughly reactionary position was exposed by Clwtdad 
The left socialist organ examined the reasons offered for the cre- 
ation of the new army. It showed that the claim that it would 
provide additional forces is false, since "the number of men now 
incorporated in the militias or who desire to join it can be con- 
sidered virtually unlimited." The claim that the rerfe 
would provide the military experience lacking by the militias ,s 
negated by the fact that those reserves "that have not wished to 
iofn the armed forces until now would not be animated by the 
same political and combative ardor that induced the militiamen to 

58 



enlist." Having disposed of the excuses for the new army, the 
left socialists bluntly concluded: 

"To think of another type of army to be substituted for 
those who are actually fighting and who in certain ways 
control their own revolutionary action, is to think in counter- 
revolutionary terms. That is what Lenin said (State and Rev- 
olution) : 'Every revolution, after the destruction of the state 
apparatus, shows us how the governing class tries to re- 
establish special bodies of armed men at "its" service, and 
how the oppressed class attempts to create a new organization 
of a type capable of serving not the exploiters but the ex- 
ploited.' 

"We are sure that this counter-revolutionary thought, 
which would be as impotent as it is inept, has not passed 
through the government's mind; but the working class and 
the petty bourgeoisie, who are saving the republic with their 
lives, must not forget these accurate words of Lenin, and 
must take care that the masses and the leadership of the 
armed forces, which should be above all the people in arms, 
should not escape" from our hands." (Claridad, August 20.) 
Not those who usurp the prestige of the Russian revolution 
only to betray its principles in service to the bourgeoisie, not the 
Stalinists, but the vanguard of the left socialists teach the Spanish 
proletariat the Leninist conception of the class nature of the 
army ! 

The different conceptions of the nature of the present struggle 
also come into conflict on other questions. The anarcho-syndi- 
calists, the P.O.U.M. and the Socialist Youth, recognizing to 
varying degrees the treacherous role of the bourgeoisie, demand 
the cleansing from all institutions of all doubtful elements, and 
insist on retaining arms in the rear to guard against bourgeois 
betrayal. The Stalinists, on the other hand, have the same "broad" 
definition of "anti-fascists" as the republicans, and raise the slogan, 
"Not One Rifle Idling in the Rear!" So broad, indeed, is their 
conception of anti-fascists that Claridad protested, August 19 and 
20, that the Stalinist-controlled "Alliance of Anti-Fascist Writers" 
was harboring counter-revolutionaries. The contemptible cam- 
paign of the bourgeoisie and the Stalinists for disarming the rear 
was well answered by the C.N.T. leader, Garcia Oliver in Solidari- 
dad Obrera, deftly turning the point against them: "We desire 
that our comrades, taking account of the situation, make an inven- 
tory of the war material they control and proceed to make a study 
of wlvat is indispensable to them to assure the necessary safe- 

S 9 



guarding of the revolutionary order in the rear, sending on what 
they do not need." 

We may summarize the character of the regime of Azana-Giral 
by stating one deadly fact: it continued to censor the press of the 
workers' organisations whose members were dying at the front. 
Even the abject Mundo Obrero learned what a Popular Front 
government is: its issue of August 20, having published a photo- 
graph deemed objectionable, was confiscated! Claridad, daily 
bearing the stigmata of the censor, reports this fact. The Stal- 
inists of course, suppressed outside of Spain the existence of this 
intolerable and shameful condition. 



4. The Caballero Cabinet 

We have no doubt at all that Caballero's entry into the gov- 
ernment was greeted with the, utmost joy by large sections of the 
proletariat. He had stood far to the left of the Stalinists and 
Prieto, and the militia especially must have felt that Caballero was 
delivering them out of the hands of the treacherous republicans. 

We have no means of knowing at this moment how much of 
this joy was quickly dissipated a few days ago when, after driving 
out the anarcho-syndicalists, the republican "defenders" of San 
Sebastian turned it over intact to the enemy; and when these 
same republicans, upon retreating to the stronghold of Bilbao, put 
the 40,000 militiamen to such use — that most of the opposing army 
of General Mola has been sent to the Madrid and Zaragoza front. 
The northern front has been betrayed, and that has happened since 
Caballero took over the government. 

What is Caballero's program? No word has come from him. 
Is his program a "minimum," that is a bourgeois one, satisfactory 
to the five bourgeois members of his cabinet? Is it the program 
of Prieto and the Stalinists, which is the bourgeois program? 
What is the basic difference between the cabinet of Caballero and 
that of his predecessor?! That Caballero is more sincere? But, as 
Lenin said once for all, no one has yet invented a sincerometer. 
What is basic is the program. If Caballero's program does not 
differ from his predecessor's, his conduct of the struggle will be 
no different. 

The Spanish proletariat will have to take the road on which the 
Catalonian proletariat has begun to march. There is no other road 
to victory ! 

Who are the rank and file soldiers of Franco's armies, and why 
are there so few desertions from his ranks ? They are mainly sons 

60 



of peasants, serving their two-year period in the army. They can 
be won over, induced to desert, to shoot their officers, by winning 
their families to the side of the workers. How? By aiding them 
to seize the land. That slogan should have been raised after the 
February 16 victory; the failure to do so is the explanation of the 
fact that the southern provinces, including a stronghold of the 
Stalinists, Seville, can be in the hands of the fascists. "What did 
the Republic give you to eat ?" The result is much passivity among 
the peasants. Within the territories held by them, the workers 
must aid the peasants in seizing and distributing the large estates. 
By ten thousand channels that fact, transforming the peasants' 
world, will be carried into the provinces held by the fascists . ♦ . 
and anti-fascist peasants will spring out of the ground, and Franco's 
armies will melt away. 

Thousands of workers have paid with their lives because their 
organizations did not fight to give land to the peasants. Thousands 
more are dying because their organizations did not raise the slogan 
of freedom for the Spanish colonies. Yet, even now, that slogan 
and a bold campaign of propaganda in Morocco would disintegrate 
far more easily than by bullets the Moorish legions of Franco, 

Catalonia has shown what prodigious tasks of production the 
proletariat will undertake once it is in control of the factories. 
Yet the workers' committees in Madrid which at first took over 
the public utilities and many big plants were thereafter subordinated 
to the government's bureaucratic administration. This constriction 
is not bettered because the government now includes a socialist 
delegation. Until the workers are masters in the factories, those 
factories will not become fortresses of the revolution. 

Above all, it is intolerable that the workers shall do the 
drudgery and the dying, without a voice in the direction of the 
struggle. Caballero has announced the re-opening of the Cortes on 
October 1. That is a cruel joke! That Cortes no more reflects the 
sentiment of the people than the nineteenth resembles the twentieth 
century! Ages have gone by, measured politically, since the re- 
publican bourgeoisie was guaranteed a majority on February 16 by 
workers' votes. The only authentic voice of the people today would 
be a National Congress of the elected delegates of the militia who 
arc fighting, the workers who are producing and transporting, and 
the peasants who are providing the food, Only such a soviet, 
issuing from factory, militia and village committees, is competent 
to speak for Spain today. 

Every one of these basic needs of the revolution can be carried 
out only against the will of the republican bourgeoisie. That means 

61 



going far beyond the People's Front. But such ''disruption" will 
mean a "loss" only to the treacherous republican politicians and 
the substantial capitalists; the main sections of the petty-bour- 
geoisie will cast their lot with the new social order, as they did in 
the Russian Revolution, 

Caballero's partners in the cabinet, the Stalinists, hav* made 
clear their deadly opposition to the revolutionary program: "The 
slogan today is all power and authority to the People's Front 
Government." (Daily Worker, Sept. II.) That slogan means just 
what it says! Lenin's slogan, "All power to the Soviets," meant no 
power to the coalition government The Stalinist slogan means 
no power to the embryo Soviets, the factory, militia and village 
committees. As Stalinism sacrificed the German revolution to the 
maintenance of the European status quo, so it is now seeking to 
sacrifice the Spanish revolution to the maintenance of the Franco- 
Soviet Alliance. Stalinism will not raise the slogan of freedom for 
Morocco because that would embarrass French colonial policy. 
Stalinism will not go over the People's Front to the Spanish revo- 
lution because that would bring the revolution immediately on the 
order of the day in France and Stalinism, pervaded like all bureau- 
cracy with a cynical lack of faith in the masses, prefers a strong 
bourgeois French ally to the possibility of a soviet France. The 
essence of Stalinist policy is: "Socialism in one country— and in 
no other country." The Stalinists have become open, shameless 
enemies of the proletarian revolution. Fortunately for the world 
proletariat, Stalinism in Spain does not command the forces it held 
in leash in Germany — and precisely because the lessons of Germany 
have entered the consciousness of the Spanish proletariat 

Great forces are available for the proletarian victory. In the 
crucible of civil war they will be welded into a single revolutionary 
party. The contradiction between the traditional anti-political 
theory of anarcho-syndicalism and its present political-revolution- 
ary practice will inevitably burst asunder its trade union form of 
organization. Already, thousands upon thousands of C.N.T. ad- 
herents have joined the P.O.U.M. That organization, counting in 
its cadres the most experienced revolutionary elements in the 
country, has swerved considerably away from its centrist course,* 
but its main forces are limited to Catalonia and Valencia. We may 



* How sharply, indeed, one may measure by contrasting its policy with that of 
its "internal ional organization", the International Committee of Revolutionary Socialist 
Unity (S.A.P. of Germany, IX. P. of England) whose manifesto to the Spanish pro- 
letariat does not contain a single word of criticism of the Popular Front! And thij, 
first, "cautious" word from this claimant to the title of revolutionary center is dated 
August 17! 

62 




• ire that the most important cadres in the rest of Spain, the 
evolutionaries among the left socialists, who have long been chaf- 
ing at Caballero's vacillation, will enter the revolutionary stream. 
Even the inexperienced cadres of the Stalinist organization will 
provide their best elements for the new revolutionary party. The 
revolution, as always, will have a broader leadership than that of 
any party; but the gigantic tasks it will pose will be the final goal 
It) the unification of the revolutionary currents of all the parties. 

5. Spain and Europe 

Claridad has been publishing a box, "Prophetic Texts," of a 
few lines, different each day, from Trotsky's History of the Russian 
Revolution. The choice of Trotsky is not accidental. It reflects a 
major preoccupation of Spanish revolutionists : the problem of the 
European revolution. Technologically backward and fearing mili- 
tary intervention by Hitler and Mussolini, the Spanish revolution- 
ists have been keenly aware of the inextricable relation between 
their revolution and that of Europe, especially France, For this 
reason they turn to Trotsky, the authoritative spokesman of revo- 
lutionary internationalism. 

On July 30, only a few days after the struggle began, Trotsky 
dealt with this problem, and with the meaning of the Spanish 
events for France. His closing words are keener than any I could 
choose to close: 

"Certainly, the Spanish proletariat, like the French proletariat, 
does not want to remain disarmed before Mussolini and Hitler. 
But to defend themselves against these enemies it is first necessary 
to crush the enemy in one's own country. It is impossible to over- 
throw the bourgeoisie without crushing the officers' corps. It is 
impossible to crush the officers' corp without overthrowing the 
bourgeoisie. In every victorious counter-revolution, the officers 
have played the decisive role. Every victorious revolution that had 
a profound social character destroyed the old officers' corps. This 
was the case in the Great French Revolution at the end of the 
eighteenth century, and this was the case in the October Revolu- 
tion in 191 7. To decide on such a measure one must stop crawling 
on one's knees before the Radical bourgeoisie. A genuine alliance 
of workers and peasants must be created against the bourgeoisie, 
including the Radicals. One must have confidence in the strength, 
initiative and courage of the proletariat and the proletariat will 
know how to bring the soldier over to its side. This will be a 
genuine and not a fake alliance of workers, peasants and soldiers. 

63 






This very alliance is being created and tempered right now in the 
fire of civil war in Spain. The victory of the people means the 
end of the People's Front and the beginning of Soviet Spain, The 
victorious social revolution in Spain will inevitably spread out over 
the rest of Europe, For the Fascist hangmen of Italy and Germany 
it will be incomparably more terrible than all the diplomatic pacts 
and all the military alliances." 



64 




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