Sunday 29 April 2018

Factions in the Spanish Revolution

Because my forthcoming thousand-plus-page magnum opus, In the Shadow of a Hurricane, is an organisational-ideological history of the anarchist movement rather than a romantic narrative, I have had to try and navigate the complex Spanish labyrinth. I am currently doing a comprehensive rewrite of the Spanish Revolution and its aftermath, and four indispensable sources have proven to be Stuart Christie, We! The Anarchists: A Study of the Iberian Anarchist Federation (FAI) 1927-1937, The Meltzer Press / Jura Media, UK / Australia, 2000, Augustín Guillamón, Ready for Revolution: the CNT Defence Committees in Barcelona 1933-1938, AK Press / Kate Sharpely Library, UK, 2014, and Augustín Guillamón, The Friends of Durruti Group: 1937-1939, AK Press, UK, 1996, on the preparatory period and the Revolution itself, and Chris Ealham, Living Anarchism: José Peirats and the Spanish Anarcho-Syndicalist Movement, AK Press, UK, 2015, on the exile Spanish Libertarian Movement. 

Assisted by these works and as a guide to my rewrite, I have drawn up a lengthy table (first page above) to chart how the various anarchist factions evolved during the Revolution and afterwards, based on their relative positions at various congresses, plenums etc.In part this helps track the exceptionally damaging and in fact counter-revolutionary position taken by the CNT and FAI leadership which destroyed the Revolution from within and which so poisoned the atmosphere of the post-Revolution exile movement. Hagiographers of the FAI be warned - I am following these excellent historians in damning the FAI at higher committee level as an actively counter-revolutionary organisation which by 1937 was degenerating into a conventional bourgeois political party while naturally commending the honourable resistance of revolutionary anarchist groups within and outside the FAI. But my preliminary conclusion at this point appears pretty bleak: that even the Friends of Durruti signally failed in their revolutionary task to root out - by shooting if necessary - the traitorous CNT-FAI leadership and to consolidate the revolutionary proletarian forces. All of which is pretty much why I far prefer the intransigent Makhnovists!