Spanish Revolution

POUM

The first Republican government came to power in 1931 replacing the Bourbon monarchy. During its first three years both the workers and peasants as well as the ruling class realised that bourgeois democracy could not guarantee their interests. When the masses began to take matters into their own hands the ruling class defended their system with fascism.

Franco declared a coup in July 1936. The workers rallied to organise and arm themselves to run the economy and effectively confront the fascist rebellion. The Republican bourgeois government were more afraid of the workers than they were of the fascists. They tried to prevent any movement of the workers which emptied the struggle of any real meaning.

The Spanish working class lacked a genuinely revolutionary party and leadership. Their leaders entered the bourgeois popular front government and became the main obstacle in the path of the revolution. The deep wounds of the conflict are still keenly felt today as the contradictions remain unresolved in Spanish society.

The national question was of primary importance in the process of revolution and counter-revolution in the 1930s, from which important lessons can be learned. Today, the national question of the Spanish state continues without resolution. The bourgeoisie have been historically incapable of successfully completing the task of a bourgeois-democratic revolution of national unification. On the contrary, 40 years of horrible centralism, exercised by the Francoist dictatorship, exacerbated the centralist tendencies. Upon the fall of Francoism, these tendencies became even more defined.

Women have traditionally been regarded as a backward layer of society and a bulwark of the Church and reaction. This "backward" character, however, is not something innate to women, as the bourgeoisie would like us to believe. The explanation for this is not to be found in any biological differences, but in the double exploitation that women suffer under capitalism. As Bebel succinctly put it, "The female sex suffers doubly: on the one hand suffering under the social dependence on men... and on the other hand, through the economic dependence to which they are all subject, as women in general, and as proletarian women in particular; in the same way as proletarian men." (A. Bebel, Women

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This introduction originally written in 1995 points out that the new generation of young workers and youth should learn the lessons of history. The tragedy of the Spanish revolution is a painful lesson of cynical betrayal. We must learn from the defeats as well as the victories of working people to prepare ourselves for the future.

What has been called the ‘May Days of 1937’ in Barcelona are an event of this kind, independently of the fact that the event took place within one of the two opposing camps in the course of a civil war, the Spanish Civil War. In fact, the duality of powers began in July 1936, with the victorious counter-stroke of the workers in a number of large cities, including Barcelona, against the military coup d’etat of General Franco.

In 1973, as the situation in Spain moved towards revolution and final overthrow of the hated Franco regime, Ted Grant wrote this document drawing all the lessons from those tumultuous events.

Class polarisation and radicalisation of the Spanish workers, youth and middle class showed at the end of 1972 that the days of the Franco regime were numbered. Ted Grant examined the paramount importance of the coming revolution in Spain for the international working class and criticised the Spanish CP leaders who appeared to have learnt nothing from the defeat in the Civil War.

This article was written as an introduction to a Spanish language edition of Trotsky’s writings on the Spanish Revolution. This English translation was published in 1967. Broué outlines the main lessons that Trotsky drew from the experience of the Spanish revolution, lessons that need to be taken on board today.

This is an introduction to Trotsky's pamphlet, "The Lessons of Spain: The Last Warning" (1937), written by Ted Grant in collaboration with Ralph Lee while they were in the Workers' International League: a predecessor to the International Marxist Tendency. Ted and Ralph's introduction was praised by Trotsky himself in a letter to the WIL in 1938, which was suppressed and hidden for 80 years before finally being reunited with its rightful owners.

"We must now say openly that the Spanish "Left Communists" have allowed this exceptionally favorable interval to slip by, and have revealed themselves to be in no way better than the Socialist and "Communist" traitors. Not that there was any lack of warning. All the greater therefore is the guilt of Andrés Nin, Juan Andrade, and the others. With a correct policy, the "Left Communists" as a section of the Fourth International might have been at the head of the Spanish proletariat today."

"For a successful solution of all these tasks, three conditions are required: a party; once more a party; again a party. Upon the Spanish Communists lie glorious historic tasks. The advanced workers of the world will follow with impassioned attention the course of the great revolutionary drama, which will a day sooner or later require not only their sympathy but also their co-operation." (Leon Trotsky)