Spanish revolution - A New World In Our Hearts

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Anyone who remembers their Leaving Cert history will know about the Spanish Civil War which was sparked off in July 1936 with an attempted military coup against the liberal / left wing government of the day. What you might not be aware of is the ‘Spanish Revolution’ – the activities and massive change which occurred in the parts of the country which were not controlled by the fascists.Anarchism was well developed among the working class in Spain and when the generals and their allies rose up it was the workers who first resisted them. As the left called on people to stay at home and support the government the anarchists came out on the streets, called a general strike and took up arms.

Where the workers trusted in the government they were defeated by the army, who soon began to round up and execute radicals and trade unionists. However in areas where the anarchists and the workers’ movement were strong and obtained weapons they defeated the army and the fascists. In these anarchist strongholds they formed columns to take the fight to the rest of the country.

The front lines of the Revolution weren’t just the places where the workers and the fascists clashed. The newly risen people spread the fight into all aspects of their lives. Factories and rural land were collectivised, workplaces were taken over and run democratically by the people who worked there. Mansions and grand buildings were turned into centres for workers’ organisations. Luxury restaurants become popular dining rooms and some churches even became warehouses. The revolution came from the bottom up and the fight wasn’t just against fascism – it was for a better world for everyone.

After a period of heroic struggle the Revolution was beaten by a combination of attacks from international fascism and sabotage from Stalin’s Russia. The anarchists and workers suffered fierce repression under the Franco regime which lasted until the 1970’s. However it wasn’t a wasted effort. The Spanish revolution shows us that fundamental change is possible without having to resort to dictatorial methods.

We can build on the lessons of Spain and bring about a new revolution – and next time we won’t be beaten! As Durruti, the anarchist military commander, said: “We are going to inherit the earth; there is not the slightest doubt about that. The bourgeoisie might blast and ruin its own world before it leaves the stage of history. We carry a new world here, in our hearts. That world is growing this minute.”

Read more about the Spanish Revolution


From Workers Solidarity 93, Sept/Oct 2006

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