The 19th of July marked the 75th anniversary of the beginning of the Spanish Revolution. For a brief time, capitalism and the State were replaced by solidarity, mutual aid and respect for others. Workers and peasants, who were deeply influenced by anarchist ideas, ran society collectively and gained control over their lives, industry and land. A central part of the revolution was the struggle against a fascist attempt to take over Spain. We remember both the magnificent triumphs and tragedies of the Spanish revolution and attempt to learn from our comrades’ mistakes.
A detailed introduction to the role anarchism played in the Spanish Civil War and the anarchist revolution within the republican zone.
Much has been written about the Spanish Civil War but the contribution of the Anarchists has been either totally ignored or reduced to a few footnotes which were often composed of blatant lies. To set the record straight this pamphlet was produced. It is not a history of the Civil War, that would require many hundreds of pages to do justice to the subject. It is an uncovering of the "hidden history" of the Anarchist participation in Spain's anti-fascist struggle.
The anarchist masses threw themselves into a fight against fascism, and its cause, capitalism. Unfortunately the revolution was not complete, the CNT leaders held it back. Indeed their behaviour highlights the effect that power can have on even those who lay claim to anarchism. Spain provided important lessons for anarchists.
The Spanish anarchist organization 'The Friends of Durruti' was formed by members of the CNT in 1937 in opposition to the collaboration of the CNT leadership in the government of Republican Spain. The first heavily censored issue of their paper 'Friend of the People' appeared just after the Mayday's in Barcelona, sections of it are reproduced for the first time in English in this pamphlet. The Mayday defense of the revolution in Barcelona was crushed at the cost of 500 lives, including the disappearance, torture and murder of key anarchist organisers by the stalinists. The Friends of Durruti outlined an alternative path for Spanish anarchists, one intended to not only protect but to expand the revolution and bring it to victory.
Within hours of the start of the Spanish revolution workers had seized control of 3000 enterprises. This included all public transportation services, shipping, electric and power companies, gas and water works, engineering and automobile assembly plants, mines, cement works, textile mills and paper factories, electrical and chemical concerns, glass bottle factories and perfumeries, food processing plants and breweries. (Image: Public transport was one of the first industries to be collectivised)
Conditions for the vast majority of people in Spain in the 1920s and 1930s were appalling. For women they were especially bad. There were extreme gender divisions. Most women were economically dependent on men. Household chores and childcare were exclusively women's domain. In both countryside and city women's wages were lower than men's. For example the average daily wage of a male agricultural labourer was 3 pesetas while a women got just half this, for working from dawn to dusk.
Many people, upon hearing about Anarchism, consider a society based on anarchist principles as unrealistic, idealistic and naive - the vision of dreamers. Given the homogenous view of the world represented in the media, it is often difficult for people to imagine a society where such universally accepted institutions as the state, the judiciary system, the police, armies, and nations no longer exist.
To mark todays 80th anniversary of the Spanish revolution and what is also the 4th anniversary of the Rojava revolution in Kobane this recording of a Kurdish version of A Las Barricadas has just been released.
It's recorded in Qamişlo, Rojava by members of the Mohamed Şêxo art and culture centre. The performers say "What happened in Barcelona on 19th July 1936 was repeated 76 years later. We started in Kobanê, and it was there that we put up our fiercest resistance. Countless comrades have fallen to defend this city against the fascists, just like the countless comrades who gave their live to defend the revolution in Catalonia and Spain.
Ask an anarchist for an example of a time and place where their ideas were put to the test and they will most likely reply with “Barcelona, 1936”. In July of that year, the workers of Barcelona, mainly organised around the anarcho-syndicalist Confederación Nacional del Trabajo (CNT; "National Confederation of Labour") rose in opposition to the fascist generals' coup that was gripping the south of the Spanish state.
Anarchism in Barcelona in the lead-up to the 1936 Spanish revolution. This is the audio and video of the talk given at the 2013 Dublin anarchist bookfair by Chris Ealham (author of 'Anarchism and the City: Revolution and Counter-revolution in Barcelona, 1898--1937')
A commemoration of Frank Conroy will take place in Kildare town on Sunday December 16th 2012. Frank Conroy came from Fair Green, Kildare town and was an IRA activist who fought with the working class against the fascist Blue Shirts in Kildare and Dublin during the 1930s. Like many Republicans he joined the Republican Congress and Communist Party. Conroy volunteered to fight with Republican leader Frank Ryan in the International Brigade to defend the Spanish Republic against Franco. Organisations attending the commemoration include Eirigi, Workers Party, Workers Solidarity Movement, Tus Nua, the Communist Party and Anti Fascist Action. Main speaker at the event will be Harry Owens.