Revolution and Counter-Revolution in Spain

7. Counter-revolution and Dual Power

1. The Treachery of the People’s Front Government

Azaña and the People’s Front government answered the counterrevolution 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 inventing a distinction between “weak” republicans like Barrios and “strong” ones like Azaña. The truth is that Azaña 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 indisputable 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 3:15 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 tranquillity of the whole Peninsula.

“The Government acknowledges the offers of support which it has received [from the workers’ organisations] 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 confidence in the means of the military strength of the State.

“Thanks to the foresighted means adopted by the authorities, 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 labouring to overcome the rising, permit us to affirm that the action of the Government will be sufficient to re-establish normality.” (Claridad, July 18.)

Having thus refused to arm the workers, and justified its treacherous refusal by this incredibly dishonest note, the cabinet of Azaña went into an all-night conference. There, Azaña had Quiroga’s cabinet of Azaña’s Left Republicans resign; and appointed as Premier the former lieutenant of Lerroux, Martinez Barrios, head of the Republican Union Party. Barrios and Azaña 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! – Azaña and the republicans were preparing to make peace with the fascists, at the expense of the workers. Had Azaña carried out his plan, the fascists would have conquered Spain.

But in the very hours that the ministers huddled together in the presidential palace, the proletariat was already mobilising. In Madrid itself the Socialist Youth militia was distributing its scant store of arms; was throwing up barricades on key streets and around the Montaña barracks; was organising 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 18th. By the time the garrison revolted, at one the next morning, 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 surrounded 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 proletariat had begun a war to the death against the fascists. Companys and Azaña found themselves confronted by the first regiments of the Red Army of the Spanish proletariat.

The Azaña-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 mobilisation, 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 substantial power of the armed proletariat – the “dual power,” Lenin called it. One power, that of Azaña and Companys, was already too weak to challenge the existence of the other; the other, that of 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!

The crushing of the counter-revolution will make infinitely more likely the establishment of a workers’ and peasants’ government. 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 is the same thing, a compromise with it. That is why the People’s Front government behaved so treacherously in the first days of the counter-revolution. That is why the People’s Front government 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 in the rear, permitted the counter-revolution success after success. This was the plain meaning of the change of government after the fall of Irun. 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 of the militia by Largo Caballero’s assumption of the premiership last week:

‘They know now that they are being directed intelligently … They know that if they die, it will not be the fault of the haphazard and weak-kneed command which characterised the last administration. We shall now take the offensive and attack the Rebels where they are weak, where we want to attack them instead of, as before, attacking where they are strong and able to repel us.’” (N.Y. Times, Sept. 7.)

If so damning an indictment of the Azaña-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 function: 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 leadership 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 into 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 organisation, 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!

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, 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 organisations.

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 F.A.I. The U.G.T. was given three, though it is small, to encourage similar organisation elsewhere. The P.O.U.M. has one, the peasant organisation 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 F.A.I. and the P.O.U.M.

For these have a programme 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 bourgeoisie because they are at the mercy of the armed proletariat. That programme 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. Mobilisation 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 drawing into the struggle of the peasantry by the 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. Democratic 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 compelled 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 the Catalonian government. On August 19, it issued its programme, which includes: collectivisation of landed estates, to be run by land workers’ unions; collectivisation of public utilities, transportation and big industry; collectivisation of establishments abandoned by their owners; workers’ control of banks until they are nationalised; workers’ control of all establishments continuing under private ownership; absorption of unemployed in collectivised 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 demonstrating the superiority of proletarian methods of production. The C.N.T.-U.G.T. committee running the railways and subways reports 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 equalisation 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 armoured 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 realise 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 Catalonian 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 paralyse the mobility of the reactionary army by rousing the peasantry as the Madrid forces have been unable to. Arriving in a village, the militia committees 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 reactionaries. The village committee organises production on the new basis and creates a village militia to carry out socialisation and fight reaction. Captured reactionaries are placed before the general assembly 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 village 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 pretence, 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 reorganising the Catalonian cabinet, three members of the Stalinist “United Socialist Party” entering it. But this manoeuvre 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 compelled 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 Catalonian proletariat can the Spanish masses defeat the counterrevolution!

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 the power back into the hands of the Madrid government. As a result, the relation of the government and the proletarian organisations is almost the opposite to that prevailing in Catalonia.

We have already seen how treacherous was the policy of the Azaña-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 defence of the republic, that is, to the maintenance of capitalism, to support the bourgeois government 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 loyalty 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 its object the establishment of a proletarian dictatorship after the revolution has terminated,” declares the Stalinist chief, Hernandez, 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 defence measure, declare the Spanish Stalinists. (Daily Worker, September 18). To realise 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 programme of fighting the counter-revolution by seizing the land and establishing workers’ control of production. Having recruited most of its following under People’s Front slogans since February, the Stalinist 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 Revolution”:

“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 formidable 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 editorial ends:

“The clear historic vision exemplified by the Catalonian Generalidad deserves only praise. It has decreed governmental measures that reflect the inextricable relation between the war and the revolution. To expropriate rebellious capital and to collectivise it is the best way of collaborating for triumph and to extract from the war the maximum social conquests, as well as to destroy the enemy’s economic power… On this point and on the organisation of the parties and unions around the government to make the war and the revolution simultaneously, Catalonia is a beacon for Castile and the rest of Spain.”

On no question has the anti-proletarian character of the Stalinist programme been revealed so much as when the Azaña-Giral government attempted to create a new army. The bourgeoisie recognised that, despite the subordination of the workers’ militia to the military commands of the general staff, the internal structure of the militia, organised 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 of ten thousand reserve soldiers as a separate force under direct government control. The Stalinist manifesto of August 18 supported this counter-revolutionary proposal, in accordance with the conception of the militia which Mundo Obrero had declared on August 11:

“No. Nothing of militias ruled by parties and organisations. But neither of militias of parties or of unions. They are militias that have their fundamental base in the People’s 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 militias,” said Mundo Obrero, August 21. The Stalinists denied such a possibility: “What is involved is to complement and reinforce the militia to give it greater efficacy and speedily end the war.” And it ended its defence of the governmental proposal: “Our slogan, today as yesterday, is the same for this. Everything for the People’s Front and everything through the People’s Front.”

This thoroughly reactionary position was exposed by Claridad. The left socialist organ examined the reasons offered for the creation 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 considered virtually unlimited.” The claim that the reserve soldiers would provide the military experience lacking by the militias is negated by the fact that those reserves “that have not wished to join the armed forces until now would not be animated by the same political and combative ardour that induced the militiamen to 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 counterrevolutionary terms. That is what Lenin said (State and Revolution): ‘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 organisation of a type capable of serving not the exploiters but the exploited.’

“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-syndicalists, the P.O.U.M. and the Socialist Youth, recognising 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 harbouring counter-revolutionaries. The contemptible campaign of the bourgeoisie and the Stalinists for disarming the rear was well answered by the C.N.T. leader, Garcia Oliver in Solidaridad Obrera, deftly turning the point against them: “We desire that our comrades, taking account of the situation, make an inventory of the war material they control and proceed to make a study of what is indispensable to them to assure the necessary safe‑guarding of the revolutionary order in the rear, sending on what they do not need.”

We may summarise the character of the regime of Azaña-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 photograph deemed objectionable, was confiscated! Claridad, daily bearing the stigmata of the censor, reports this fact. The Stalinists 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 government 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 programme? No word has come from him. Is his programme a “minimum,” that is a bourgeois one, satisfactory to the five bourgeois members of his cabinet? Is it the programme of Prieto and the Stalinists, which is the bourgeois programme? 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 programme. If Caballero’s programme 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 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 organisations did not fight to give land to the peasants. Thousands more are dying because their organisations 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 republican 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 are 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 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-bourgeoisie will cast their lot with the new social order, as they did in the Russian Revolution.

Caballero’s partners in the cabinet, the Stalinists, have made clear their deadly opposition to the revolutionary programme: “The slogan today is all power and authority to the People’s Front Government.” (Daily Worker, Sept. 11) 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 revolution because that would bring the revolution immediately on the order of the day in France and Stalinism, pervaded like all bureaucracy 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-revolutionary practice will inevitably burst asunder its trade union form of organisation. Already, thousands upon thousands of C.N.T. adherents have joined the P.O.U.M. That organisation, counting in its cadres the most experienced revolutionary elements in the country, has swerved considerably away from its centrist course,[1] but its main forces are limited to Catalonia and Valencia. We may be sure that the most important cadres in the rest of Spain, the revolutionaries among the left socialists, who have long been chafing at Caballero’s vacillation, will enter the revolutionary stream. Even the inexperienced cadres of the Stalinist organisation 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 to 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 military intervention by Hitler and Mussolini, the Spanish revolutionists 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 revolutionary 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 overthrow the bourgeoisie without crushing the officers’ corps. It is impossible to crush the officers’ corps 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 Revolution in 1917. 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.

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.”


[1] How sharply, indeed, one may measure by contrasting its policy with that of its “international organisation”, the International Committee of Revolutionary Socialist Unity (S.A.P. of Germany, I.L.P. of England) whose manifesto to the Spanish proletariat does not contain a single word of criticism of the Popular Front! And this, first, “cautious” word from this claimant to the title of revolutionary centre is dated August 17!

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