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Anarchism in Spain

Anarchism in Spain

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Anarchism has historically gained more support and influence in Spain than anywhere else, especially before Francisco Franco
Francisco Franco
Francisco Franco y Bahamonde was a Spanish general, dictator and head of state of Spain from October 1936 , and de facto regent of the nominally restored Kingdom of Spain from 1947 until his death in November, 1975...

's victory in the Spanish Civil War
Spanish Civil War
The Spanish Civil WarAlso known as The Crusade among Nationalists, the Fourth Carlist War among Carlists, and The Rebellion or Uprising among Republicans. was a major conflict fought in Spain from 17 July 1936 to 1 April 1939...

 of 1936–1939.

There were several variants of anarchism
Anarchism
Anarchism is generally defined as the political philosophy which holds the state to be undesirable, unnecessary, and harmful, or alternatively as opposing authority in the conduct of human relations...

 in Spain: expropriative anarchism
Expropriative anarchism
Expropriative anarchism is the name given to an anarchist practice carried out by certain anarchist affinity groups in Argentina and Spain which involved theft, robbery, scams and counterfeiting currency. The robberies done were called "expropriations on the bourgoisie"...

 in the period leading up to the conflict, the peasant anarchism in the countryside of Andalusia
Andalusia
Andalusia is the most populous and the second largest in area of the autonomous communities of Spain. The Andalusian autonomous community is officially recognised as a nationality of Spain. The territory is divided into eight provinces: Huelva, Seville, Cádiz, Córdoba, Málaga, Jaén, Granada and...

; urban anarcho-syndicalism
Anarcho-syndicalism
Anarcho-syndicalism is a branch of anarchism which focuses on the labour movement. The word syndicalism comes from the French word syndicat which means trade union , from the Latin word syndicus which in turn comes from the Greek word σύνδικος which means caretaker of an issue...

 in Catalonia
Catalonia
Catalonia is an autonomous community in northeastern Spain, with the official status of a "nationality" of Spain. Catalonia comprises four provinces: Barcelona, Girona, Lleida, and Tarragona. Its capital and largest city is Barcelona. Catalonia covers an area of 32,114 km² and has an...

, particularly its capital Barcelona
Barcelona
Barcelona is the second largest city in Spain after Madrid, and the capital of Catalonia, with a population of 1,621,537 within its administrative limits on a land area of...

; and what is sometimes called "pure" anarchism in other cities such as Zaragoza. However, these were complementary trajectories, and shared a great deal of ideological similarities.

Early on, the success of the anarchist movement was sporadic. Anarchists would organize a strike
Strike action
Strike action, also called labour strike, on strike, greve , or simply strike, is a work stoppage caused by the mass refusal of employees to work. A strike usually takes place in response to employee grievances. Strikes became important during the industrial revolution, when mass labour became...

 and ranks would swell. Usually, repression by police reduced the numbers again, but at the same time further radicalized
Radicalization
Radicalization is the process in which an individual changes from passiveness or activism to become more revolutionary, militant or extremist. Radicalization is often associated with youth, adversity, alienation, social exclusion, poverty, or the perception of injustice to self or others.-...

 many strikers. This cycle helped lead to an era of mutual violence at the beginning of the 20th century, in which armed anarchists and pistoleros, armed men paid by company owners, were both responsible for political assassinations.

In the 20th century, this violence began to fade, and the movement gained speed with the rise of anarcho-syndicalism and the creation of the huge libertarian
Libertarianism
Libertarianism, in the strictest sense, is the political philosophy that holds individual liberty as the basic moral principle of society. In the broadest sense, it is any political philosophy which approximates this view...

 trade union
Trade union
A trade union, trades union or labor union is an organization of workers that have banded together to achieve common goals such as better working conditions. The trade union, through its leadership, bargains with the employer on behalf of union members and negotiates labour contracts with...

, the Confederación Nacional del Trabajo
Confederación Nacional del Trabajo
The Confederación Nacional del Trabajo is a Spanish confederation of anarcho-syndicalist labor unions affiliated with the International Workers Association . When working with the latter group it is also known as CNT-AIT...

 (CNT). General strike
General strike
A general strike is a strike action by a critical mass of the labour force in a city, region, or country. While a general strike can be for political goals, economic goals, or both, it tends to gain its momentum from the ideological or class sympathies of the participants...

s became common, and large portions of the Spanish working class adopted anarchist ideas. There also emerged a small individualist anarchist movement based on publications such as Iniciales
Iniciales
Iniciales was a Spanish individualist anarchist and naturist eclectic magazine which ran between 1929 and 1937. The first number appeared in Barcelona in February, 1929. Its predecessor was Barcelona's Ética...

and La Revista Blanca
La Revista Blanca
La Revista Blanca was a Spanish individualist anarchist magazine of sociology and arts published in Madrid by Joan Montseny y Teresa Mañé from 1898 to 1905 and in Barcelona from June 1, 1923 till August 15, 1936....

. The FAI
Federación Anarquista Ibérica
The Federación Anarquista Ibérica is a Spanish organization of anarchist militants active within affinity groups inside the Confederación Nacional del Trabajo trade union. It is often abbreviated as CNT-FAI because of the close relationship between the two organizations...

 was created as a purely anarchist association, with the intention of keeping the CNT focused on the principles of anarchism.

Anarchists played a central role in the fight against Francisco Franco
Francisco Franco
Francisco Franco y Bahamonde was a Spanish general, dictator and head of state of Spain from October 1936 , and de facto regent of the nominally restored Kingdom of Spain from 1947 until his death in November, 1975...

 during the Spanish Civil War
Spanish Civil War
The Spanish Civil WarAlso known as The Crusade among Nationalists, the Fourth Carlist War among Carlists, and The Rebellion or Uprising among Republicans. was a major conflict fought in Spain from 17 July 1936 to 1 April 1939...

. At the same time, a far-reaching social revolution
Social revolution
The term social revolution may have different connotations depending on the speaker.In the Trotskyist movement, the term "social revolution" refers to an upheaval in which existing property relations are smashed...

 spread throughout Spain, where land and factories were collectivized and controlled by the workers. All remaining social reforms ended in 1939 with the victory of Franco, who had thousands of anarchists executed. Resistance
Resistance movement
A resistance movement is a group or collection of individual groups, dedicated to opposing an invader in an occupied country or the government of a sovereign state. It may seek to achieve its objects through either the use of nonviolent resistance or the use of armed force...

 to his rule never entirely died, with resilient militants participating in acts of sabotage
Sabotage
Sabotage is a deliberate action aimed at weakening another entity through subversion, obstruction, disruption, or destruction. In a workplace setting, sabotage is the conscious withdrawal of efficiency generally directed at causing some change in workplace conditions. One who engages in sabotage is...

 and other direct action
Direct action
Direct action is activity undertaken by individuals, groups, or governments to achieve political, economic, or social goals outside of normal social/political channels. This can include nonviolent and violent activities which target persons, groups, or property deemed offensive to the direct action...

 after the war, and making several attempts on the ruler's life.

Their legacy remains important to this day, particularly to anarchists who look at their achievements as a historical precedent of anarchism's validity
Past and present anarchist communities
This is a list of anarchist communities, representing any society or portion thereof founded by anarchists, that functions according to anarchist philosophy and principles...

.

Beginning


In the mid-19th century, revolutionary ideas were generally unknown in Spain. The closest thing to a radical movement was found amongst the followers of Pierre-Joseph Proudhon
Pierre-Joseph Proudhon
Pierre-Joseph Proudhon was a French politician, mutualist philosopher and socialist. He was a member of the French Parliament, and he was the first person to call himself an "anarchist". He is considered among the most influential theorists and organisers of anarchism...

, known as federalists
Federalism
Federalism is a political concept in which a group of members are bound together by covenant with a governing representative head. The term "federalism" is also used to describe a system of the government in which sovereignty is constitutionally divided between a central governing authority and...

, the most famous of whom was Francesc Pi i Margall
Francisco Pi y Margall
Francisco Pi y Margall was a liberal Spanish statesman and romanticist writer. He was briefly president of the short-lived First Spanish Republic in 1873.-Early life:...

 (named, upon his death, "the wisest of the federalists, almost an anarchist" by anarchist thinker Ricardo Mella
Ricardo Mella
Ricardo Mella Cea was one of the first writers, intellectuals and anarchist activists of the late nineteenth and early twentieth century in Spain. Was characterized as an erudite in various subjects and versed in languages, mastering French, English and Italian...

). Ramón de la Sagra
Ramón de la Sagra
Ramón Dionisio José de la Sagra y Peris was a Spanish anarchist, politician, writer and botanist, who founded the world's first anarchist journal, El Porvenir .- Biography :...

 was a disciple of Pierre-Joseph Proudhon and founded the world's first anarchist journal El Porvenir, which was closed by Ramón María Narváez, Duke of Galicia. Feelings later associated with anarchism, like anti-clericalism
Anti-clericalism
Anti-clericalism is a historical movement that opposes religious institutional power and influence, real or alleged, in all aspects of public and political life, and the involvement of religion in the everyday life of the citizen...

 and distrust of government, were widespread but part of no focused worldview. There was a history of peasant unrest in some parts of the country. This was not related to any political movement, but rather borne out of circumstances. The same was true in the cities; long before workers were familiar with anarcho-syndicalism, there were general strikes and other conflicts between workers and their employers.

The earliest successful attempt to introduce anarchism to the Spanish masses came in 1868. A middle-aged revolutionary named Giuseppi Fanelli came to Spain on a journey planned by Mikhail Bakunin
Mikhail Bakunin
Mikhail Alexandrovich Bakunin was a well-known Russian revolutionary and theorist of collectivist anarchism. He has also often been called the father of anarchist theory in general. Bakunin grew up near Moscow, where he moved to study philosophy and began to read the French Encyclopedists,...

 in order to recruit members for the First International
International Workingmen's Association
The International Workingmen's Association , sometimes called the First International, was an international organization which aimed at uniting a variety of different left-wing socialist, communist and anarchist political groups and trade union organizations that were based on the working class...

, an international organization
International organization
An intergovernmental organization, sometimes rendered as an international governmental organization and both abbreviated as IGO, is an organization composed primarily of sovereign states , or of other intergovernmental organizations...

 that aimed to unify groups working for the benefit of the working class, which later came to be dominated by Marxists.

Fanelli spoke in French
French language
French is a Romance language spoken as a first language in France, the Romandy region in Switzerland, Wallonia and Brussels in Belgium, Monaco, the regions of Quebec and Acadia in Canada, and by various communities elsewhere. Second-language speakers of French are distributed throughout many parts...

 and Italian
Italian language
Italian is a Romance language spoken mainly in Europe: Italy, Switzerland, San Marino, Vatican City, by minorities in Malta, Monaco, Croatia, Slovenia, France, Libya, Eritrea, and Somalia, and by immigrant communities in the Americas and Australia...

, so those present could only understand bits of what he was saying, except for one man, Tomás González Morago, who knew French. The effect, however, was the same. Anselmo Lorenzo
Anselmo Lorenzo
Anselmo Lorenzo was a defining figure in the early Spanish Anarchist movement, earning the oft quoted sobriquet "the grandfather of Spanish anarchism," in the words of Murray Bookchin; "his contribution to the spread of Anarchist ideas in Barcelona and Andalusia over the decades was enormous"...

 gives an account of his oratory: "His voice had a metallic tone and was susceptible to all the inflexions appropriate to what he was saying, passing rapidly from accents of anger and menace against tyrants and exploiters to take on those of suffering, regret and consolation...we could understand his expressive mimicry and follow his speech." These workers, longing for something more than the mild radicalism
Political radicalism
The term political radicalism denotes political principles focused on altering social structures through revolutionary means and changing value systems in fundamental ways...

 of the day, became the core of the Spanish Anarchist movement, quickly spreading "the Idea" across Spain. The oppressed and marginalized working classes were very susceptible to an ideology attacking institutions they perceived to be oppressive, namely: the state
State (polity)
A state is an organized political community, living under a government. States may be sovereign and may enjoy a monopoly on the legal initiation of force and are not dependent on, or subject to any other power or state. Many states are federated states which participate in a federal union...

 with its corruption and brutality, capitalism with its gross divide between wretched poverty and grand wealth, and the supremely powerful and coercive institution of organized religion.

A chapter of the First International was soon set up in Madrid
Madrid
Madrid is the capital and largest city of Spain. The population of the city is roughly 3.3 million and the entire population of the Madrid metropolitan area is calculated to be 6.271 million. It is the third largest city in the European Union, after London and Berlin, and its metropolitan...

. A few dedicated anarchists, first introduced to "the Idea" by Fanelli, began holding meetings, giving speeches, and attracting new followers. By 1870, the Madrid chapter of the International had gained roughly 2,000 members.

Anarchism gained a much larger following in Barcelona
Barcelona
Barcelona is the second largest city in Spain after Madrid, and the capital of Catalonia, with a population of 1,621,537 within its administrative limits on a land area of...

, already a bastion of proletarian rebellion, Luddism, and trade unionism. The already militant working class was, as in Madrid, introduced to the philosophy of anarchism in the late 1860s. In 1869, a section of the International was formed in Barcelona.

These centers of revolutionary activity continued to spread ideas, through speeches, discussions, meetings, and their newspaper, La Solidaridad
La solidaridad
La Solidaridad was an organization created in Spain on December 13, 1888. Composed of Filipino liberals exiled in 1872 and students attending Europe's universities, the organization aimed to increase Spanish awareness of the needs of its colony, the Philippines, and to propagate a closer...

(English translation: Solidarity). Anarchism had soon taken root throughout Spain, in villages and in cities, and in scores of autonomous organizations. Many of the rural pueblos were already anarchic in structure prior to the spread of "anarchist" ideas.

An important event in these years was the Congress of 1870 in Barcelona, where delegates from 150 workers' associations met, along with thousands of common workers observing ("occupying every seat, filling the hallways, and spilling out beyond the entrance", according to Murray Bookchin
Murray Bookchin
Murray Bookchin was an American libertarian socialist author, orator, and philosopher. A pioneer in the ecology movement, Bookchin was the founder of the social ecology movement within anarchist, libertarian socialist and ecological thought. He was the author of two dozen books on politics,...

). The Spanish section of the International was here renamed the "Spanish Regional Federation" (also known as simply the Spanish Federation), and outlines for future organization were discussed. The Congress had a clear anarchist flavor despite the presence of non-anarchist members of the International from other European nations. It was looked upon with disdain by the mainstream press
Mainstream media
Mainstream media are those media disseminated via the largest distribution channels, which therefore represent what the majority of media consumers are likely to encounter...

 and the existing political parties, for the Congress openly attacked the political process as an illegitimate means of change and foreshadowed the future power of syndicalist trade unions such as the CNT.

Socialists and liberals within the Spanish Federation sought to reorganize Spain in 1871 into five trade sections with various committees and councils. Many anarchists within the group felt that this was contrary to their belief in decentralization
Decentralization
__FORCETOC__Decentralization or decentralisation is the process of dispersing decision-making governance closer to the people and/or citizens. It includes the dispersal of administration or governance in sectors or areas like engineering, management science, political science, political economy,...

. A year of conflict ensued, in which the anarchists fought the "Authoritarians" within the Federation and eventually expelled them in 1872. In the same year, Mikhail Bakunin was expelled from the International by the Marxists, who were the majority. Anarchists, seeing the hostility from previous allies on the Left
Left-wing politics
In politics, Left, left-wing and leftist generally refer to support for social change to create a more egalitarian society...

, reshaped the nature of their movement in Spain. The Spanish Federation became decentralized, now dependent on action from rank-and-file workers rather than bureaucratic councils; that is, a group structured according to anarchist principles.

Early turmoil, 1873 to 1900


In the region of Alcoy, workers struck in 1873 for the eight hour day following much agitation from the anarchists. The conflict turned to violence when police fired on an unarmed crowd, which caused workers to storm City Hall in response. Dozens were dead on each side when the violence ended. Sensational stories were made up by the press about atrocities that never took place: priests crucified, men doused in gasoline and set on fire, etc.

The government quickly moved to suppress the Spanish Federation. Meeting halls were shut down, members jailed, publications banned. Until the turn of the 20th century, proletarian anarchism remained relatively fallow in Spain.

However, anarchist ideas still remained popular in the rural countryside, where destitute peasants waged a lengthy series of unsuccessful rebellions in attempts to create "libertarian communism
Libertarian communism
Libertarian communism is a theory of libertarianism which advocates the abolition of the state and private property, and capitalism in favor of common ownership of the means of production, a direct democracy and self-governance....

". Throughout the 1870s, the Spanish Federation drew most of its members from the peasant areas of Andalusia
Andalusia
Andalusia is the most populous and the second largest in area of the autonomous communities of Spain. The Andalusian autonomous community is officially recognised as a nationality of Spain. The territory is divided into eight provinces: Huelva, Seville, Cádiz, Córdoba, Málaga, Jaén, Granada and...

 after the decline of its urban following. In the early 1870s, a section of the International was formed in Córdoba
Córdoba, Spain
-History:The first trace of human presence in the area are remains of a Neanderthal Man, dating to c. 32,000 BC. In the 8th century BC, during the ancient Tartessos period, a pre-urban settlement existed. The population gradually learned copper and silver metallurgy...

, forming a necessary link between the urban and rural movements.

These small gains were largely destroyed by State repression, which by the mid-1870s had forced the entire movement underground. The Spanish Federation faded away, and conventional trade unionism for a while began to replace revolutionary action, although anarchists remained abundant and their ideas not forgotten; the liberal nature of this period was perhaps borne out of despair rather than disagreement with revolutionary ideas. Anarchists were left to act as tigres solitarios (roughly "lone tigers"); attempts at mass organization, as in the Pact of Union and Solidarity, had some ephemeral success but were destined to failure.

The lack of revolutionary organization led many anarchists to commit acts of violence as a form of direct action
Direct action
Direct action is activity undertaken by individuals, groups, or governments to achieve political, economic, or social goals outside of normal social/political channels. This can include nonviolent and violent activities which target persons, groups, or property deemed offensive to the direct action...

, and occasional uprisings broke out, as in Jerez, with no success. The government came to equate anarchism with terrorism and responded in kind. Anarchists were met with the severest repression; a famous example is the mass arrest
Mass arrest
A mass arrest occurs when the police apprehend large numbers of suspects at once. This sometimes occurs at illegal protests. Some mass arrests are also used in an effort combat gang activity. This is sometimes controversial, and lawsuits sometimes result...

 and resulting torture of anarchist prisoners at the castle of Montjuich in Barcelona in 1892. As many as 400 people were brought to the dungeons following a bombing (the guilty party was never found). International outrage followed reports that the prisoners were brutally tortured: men hanged from ceilings, genitals twisted and burned, fingernails ripped out. Several died before being brought to trial, and five were eventually executed.

The anarchist idea was propagated by many periodicals like El Socialismo started by Fermín Salvochea
Fermín Salvochea
Fermín Salvochea y Álvarez was a mayor of the city of Cádiz and a president of the province of Cádiz. He was one of the main propagators of anarchist thought in that area in the late 19th century and is considered to be "perhaps the most beloved figure in the Spanish Anarchist movement of the 19th...

. Salvochea is considered one of the earliest pioneers in the propagation and organization along anarchist lines.

The rise of anarcho-syndicalism


Terrorism
Terrorism
Terrorism is the systematic use of terror, especially as a means of coercion. In the international community, however, terrorism has no universally agreed, legally binding, criminal law definition...

 by extremists became less common around the turn of the 20th century. Anarchists saw the obvious need for a form of direct action capable of overthrowing the State and capitalism. The idea of syndicalism
Syndicalism
Syndicalism is a type of economic system proposed as a replacement for capitalism and an alternative to state socialism, which uses federations of collectivised trade unions or industrial unions...

 became popular (or anarcho-syndicalism to differentiate from the reformist syndicalism in other parts of Europe). Purist "Anarchist Communists
Anarchist communism
Anarchist communism is a theory of anarchism which advocates the abolition of the state, markets, money, private property, and capitalism in favor of common ownership of the means of production, direct democracy and a horizontal network of voluntary associations and workers' councils with...

" were unwilling to adopt syndicalist ideas and became marginalized, although the two groups soon became indistinguishable.

A new organization, the Federation of Workers' Societies of the Spanish Region, was formed in 1900. The organization adopted syndicalism on libertarian principles. Its success was immediate: general strikes swept across Spain within a year. Many of these strikes had no visible leadership but were initiated purely by the working class. As opposed to reformist strikes, many of these strikers made no clear demands (or intentionally absurd demands; for example, the demand to be given seven and a half rest hours in an eight hour day); in some cases workers demanded no less than the end of capitalism. The Spanish government responded harshly to these developments, and the Federation of Workers' Societies was suppressed. But the decentralized nature of anarcho-syndicalism made it impossible to completely destroy and attempts to do so only emboldened the spirit of resistance.

"The Tragic Week"


Two events in 1909 bolstered support for another general strike in Barcelona. A textile factory was shut down, with 800 workers fired. Across the industry, wages were being cut. Workers, even outside the textile industry, began to plan for a general strike. At around the same time, the government announced that military reserves would be called up to fight in Morocco
Morocco
Morocco , officially the Kingdom of Morocco , is a country located in North Africa. It has a population of more than 32 million and an area of 710,850 km², and also primarily administers the disputed region of the Western Sahara...

, where tribesmen were skirmishing with Spanish troops. The reservists, mostly working men, were not keen to risk their lives or kill others to protect what they characterised as the interests of Spanish capitalists (the fighting was blocking routes to mines and slowing business). Anti-war rallies sprang up across the country, and talk of a general strike could be heard.

The strike began in Barcelona on July 26, a few weeks after the call for reserves was made. It quickly developed into a widespread uprising. Anselmo Lorenzo
Anselmo Lorenzo
Anselmo Lorenzo was a defining figure in the early Spanish Anarchist movement, earning the oft quoted sobriquet "the grandfather of Spanish anarchism," in the words of Murray Bookchin; "his contribution to the spread of Anarchist ideas in Barcelona and Andalusia over the decades was enormous"...

 wrote in a letter: "A social revolution has broken out in Barcelona and it has been started by the people. No one has led it. Neither the Liberals nor Catalan Nationalists
Generalitat de Catalunya
The Generalitat of Catalonia is the institution under which the autonomous community of Catalonia is politically organised. It consists of the Parliament, the President of the Generalitat of Catalonia and the Government of Catalonia....

, nor Republicans, nor Socialists, nor Anarchists." Police stations were attacked. Railroad lines leading into Barcelona were destroyed. Barricades sprang up in the streets. Eighty churches and monasteries were destroyed by members of the Radical Party (who, it should be noted, were generally much less "radical" than anarchists or socialists), and six individuals were killed during the disturbances. After the revolt, about 1,700 individuals were indicted on various charges. Most were let go, but 450 were sentenced. Twelve were given life imprisonment and five were executed, including Francisco Ferrer, who was not even in Barcelona at the time of the insurrection.

Following this "Tragic Week", the government began repressing dissidents on a larger scale. Unions were suppressed, newspapers were shut down, and libertarian schools were closed. Catalonia was put under martial law
Martial law
Martial law is the imposition of military rule by military authorities over designated regions on an emergency basis— only temporary—when the civilian government or civilian authorities fail to function effectively , when there are extensive riots and protests, or when the disobedience of the law...

 until November. Rather than giving up, the Spanish working class became emboldened and more revolutionary than before, as workers adopted syndicalism as a revolutionary strategy.

The rise of the CNT


The anarchist movement lacked a stable national organization in its early years. Anarchist Juan Gómez Casas discusses the evolution of anarchist organization before the creation of the CNT: "After a period of dispersion, the Workers Federation of the Spanish Region disappeared, to be replaced by the Anarchist Organization of the Spanish Region.... This organization then changed, in 1890, into the Solidarity and Assistance Pact, which was itself dissolved in 1896 because of repressive legislation against anarchism and broke into many nuclei and autonomous workers' societies.... The scattered remains of the FRE gave rise to Solidaridad Obrera
Solidaridad Obrera (historical union)
Solidaridad Obrera was a labor federation in Spain...

in 1907, the immediate antecedent of the [CNT]."

There was a consensus amongst anarchists in the early 20th century that a new, national labor organization was needed to bring coherency and strength to their movement. This organization, named the Confederación Nacional del Trabajo
Confederación Nacional del Trabajo
The Confederación Nacional del Trabajo is a Spanish confederation of anarcho-syndicalist labor unions affiliated with the International Workers Association . When working with the latter group it is also known as CNT-AIT...

 (CNT) was formed in October 1910 during a congress of Solidaridad Obrera. During this congress, a resolution was passed declaring that the purpose of the CNT would be to "hasten the integral economic emancipation of the entire working class through the revolutionary expropriation of the bourgeoisie...." The CNT started off fairly small, with about 30,000 members across various unions and confederations.

The national confederation was split into smaller regional ones, which were again broken down into smaller trade unions. Despite this many-tiered structure, bureaucracy was consciously avoided. Initiatives for decisions came largely from the individual unions. There were no paid officials; all positions were staffed by common workers. Decisions made by the national delegations did not have to be followed. The CNT was in these respects much different from the comparatively rigid socialist unions.

A general strike was called a mere five days after its founding by triumphant, and perhaps overzealous, workers. It spread across several cities throughout Spain; in one city, workers took over the community and killed the mayor. Troops moved into all major cities and the strike was quickly crushed. The CNT was declared an illegal organization, and thus went underground only a week after its founding. A few years later it continued with overt strike actions, as in the general strike organized in tandem with the Socialist-dominated UGT (a rare occurrence, as the two groups were usually at odds) to protest the rising cost of living.

General Strike of 1917


A general strike broke out in 1917, mostly organized by socialists but with notable anarchist activity, particularly in Barcelona. There barricades were built, and strikers tried to stop trolleys from running. The government responded by filling the streets with machine gun
Machine gun
A machine gun is a fully automatic mounted or portable firearm, usually designed to fire rounds in quick succession from an ammunition belt or large-capacity magazine, typically at a rate of several hundred rounds per minute....

s. Fighting left seventy people dead. In spite of the violence, the strike's demands were moderate, typical of a socialist strike of the time.

The CNT following World War I


Spain's economy suffered upon the decline of the wartime economy. Factories closed, unemployment soared and wages declined. Expecting class conflict, especially in light of the then recent Russian Revolution
Russian Revolution of 1917
The Russian Revolution is the collective term for a series of revolutions in Russia in 1917, which destroyed the Tsarist autocracy and led to the creation of the Soviet Union. The Tsar was deposed and replaced by a provisional government in the first revolution of February 1917...

, much of the capitalist class began a bitter war against unions, particularly the CNT. Lockouts
Lockout (industry)
A lockout is a work stoppage in which an employer prevents employees from working. This is different from a strike, in which employees refuse to work.- Causes :...

 became more frequent. Known militants were blacklisted. Pistoleros, or assassins, were hired to kill union leaders. Scores, perhaps hundreds, of anarchists were murdered during this time period. Anarchists responded in turn with a number of assassinations, the most famous of which is the murder of Prime Minister Eduardo Dato Iradier.

The CNT, by this time, had as many as a million members. It retained its focus on direct action and syndicalism; this meant that revolutionary currents in Spain were no longer on the fringe, but very much in the mainstream. While it would be false to say that the CNT was entirely anarchist, the prevailing sentiment undoubtedly leaned in that direction. Every member elected to the "National Committee" was an overt anarchist. Most rank and file members espoused anarchist ideas. Indeed, much of Spain seemed to be radiant with revolutionary fervor; along with waves of general strikes (as well as mostly successful strikes with specific demands), it was not uncommon to see anarchist literature floating around ordinary places or common workers discussing revolutionary ideas. One powerful opponent from the upper classes (Diaz del Moral) claims that "the total working population" was overcome with the spirit of revolt, that "all were agitators."

Whereas anarchism in Spain was previously disjointed and ephemeral, even the smallest of towns now had organizations and took part in the movement. Different parts of the CNT (unions, regions, etc.) were autonomous and yet inextricably linked. A strike by workers in one field would often lead to solidarity strikes by workers in an entire city. This way, general strikes often were not "called", they simply happened organically.

General Strike of 1919


In 1919, employers at a Barcelona hydroelectric plant
Hydroelectricity
Hydroelectricity is the term referring to electricity generated by hydropower; the production of electrical power through the use of the gravitational force of falling or flowing water. It is the most widely used form of renewable energy...

, known locally as La Canadiense, cut wages, triggering a 44 day long and hugely successful general strike with over 100,000 participants. Employers immediately attempted to respond militantly, but the strike had spread much too rapidly. Employees at another plant staged a sit-in supporting their fellow workers. About a week later, all textile employees walked out. Soon after, almost all electrical workers went on strike as well.

Barcelona was placed under martial law, yet the strike continued in full force. The union of newspaper printers warned the newspaper owners in Barcelona that they would not print anything critical of the strikers. The Government in Madrid tried to destroy the strike by calling up all workers for military service
Conscription
Conscription is the compulsory enlistment of people in some sort of national service, most often military service. Conscription dates back to antiquity and continues in some countries to the present day under various names...

, but this call was not heeded, as it was not even printed in the paper. When the call got to Barcelona by word of mouth, the response was yet another strike by all railway and trolley workers.

The Government in Barcelona finally managed to settle the strike, which had effectively crippled the Catalan economy. All of the striking workers demanded an eight hour day, union recognition, and the rehiring of fired workers. All demands were granted. It was also demanded that all political prisoners be released. The government agreed, but refused to release those currently on trial. Workers responded with shouts of "Free everybody!" and warned that the strike would continue in three days if this demand was not met. Sure enough, this is what occurred. However, members of the Strike Committee and many others were immediately arrested and police effectively stopped the second strike from reaching great proportions.

The Government tried to appease the workers, who were clearly on the verge of insurrection. Tens of thousands of unemployed workers were returned to their jobs. The eight hour day was declared for all workers. Thus, Spain became the first country in the world to pass a national eight hour day law, as a result of 1919's general strike.

After the 1919 general strike, increasing violence against CNT organizers, combined with the rise of the Primo de Rivera
Miguel Primo de Rivera
Miguel Primo de Rivera y Orbaneja, 2nd Marquis of Estella, 22nd Count of Sobremonte, Knight of Calatrava was a Spanish dictator, aristocrat, and a military official who was appointed Prime Minister by the King and who for seven years was a dictator, ending the turno system of alternating...

 dictatorship (which banned all anarchist organizations and publications), created a lull in anarchist activity. Many anarchists responded to police violence by becoming pistoleros themselves. This was a period of mutual violence, in which anarchist groups including Los Solidarios
Los Solidarios
Los Solidarios , also known as Crisol , was an Spanish anarchist armed-struggle group founded in 1922 or 1923 in Barcelona, as a reply to the dirty war strategy used by the employers and government against trade unions....

 assassinated political opponents. Many anarchists were killed by gunmen of the other side.

The FAI



During the Primo de Rivera years, much of the CNT leadership began to espouse a "moderate" revolutionary syndicalism, ostensibly holding an anarchist outlook but holding that the fulfilment of anarchist hopes would not come immediately, and insisting on the need for a more disciplined and organised trade-union movement in order to work towards libertarian communism. The Federación Anarquista Ibérica
Federación Anarquista Ibérica
The Federación Anarquista Ibérica is a Spanish organization of anarchist militants active within affinity groups inside the Confederación Nacional del Trabajo trade union. It is often abbreviated as CNT-FAI because of the close relationship between the two organizations...

 (FAI) was formed in 1927 to combat this tendency.

Its organization was based on autonomous affinity groups. The FAI remained a very secretive organization, even after acknowledging its existence two years after its formation. Its surreptitious nature makes it difficult to judge the extent of its membership. Estimates of FAI membership at the time immediately preceding the revolution range from 5,000 to 30,000. Membership dramatically increased during the first few months of the Civil War.

The FAI was not ideally libertarian
Libertarianism
Libertarianism, in the strictest sense, is the political philosophy that holds individual liberty as the basic moral principle of society. In the broadest sense, it is any political philosophy which approximates this view...

, being dominated by very aggressive militants such as Juan García Oliver
Juan García Oliver
Juan García Oliver was a Spanish Anarcho-syndicalist revolutionary, and a leading figure of Anarchism in Spain....

 and Buenaventura Durruti
Buenaventura Durruti
José Buenaventura Durruti Dumange was a central figure of Spanish anarchism during the period leading up to and including the Spanish Civil War.-Early life:...

. However, it was not authoritarian in its actual methods; it allowed freedom of dissent to its members. In fact the overall organization of the FAI was very loose, unlike Bakunin's "Alliance" which was, however, an important precedent in creating an organization for pushing forward anarchist ideology.

The FAI was militantly revolutionary, with actions including bank robberies to acquire funds, and the organization of general strikes, but at times became more opportunist. It supported moderate efforts against the Rivera dictatorship, and in 1936, contributed to establishment of the Popular Front
Popular Front (Spain)
The Popular Front in Spain's Second Republic was an electoral coalition and pact signed in January 1936 by various left-wing political organisations, instigated by Manuel Azaña for the purpose of contesting that year's election....

. By the time the anarchist organizations began cooperating with the Republican government, the FAI essentially became a de facto political party and the affinity group model was dropped, not uncontroversially.

The fall of Rivera and the New Republic


The CNT initially welcomed the Republic as a preferable alternative to dictatorship, while still holding on to the principle that all states
State (polity)
A state is an organized political community, living under a government. States may be sovereign and may enjoy a monopoly on the legal initiation of force and are not dependent on, or subject to any other power or state. Many states are federated states which participate in a federal union...

 are inherently deleterious, if perhaps to varying degrees of severity.

This relationship did not last long, though. A strike by telephone workers led to street fighting between CNT and government forces; the army used machine guns against the workers. A similar strike broke out a few weeks later in Seville
Seville
Seville is the artistic, historic, cultural, and financial capital of southern Spain. It is the capital of the autonomous community of Andalusia and of the province of Seville. It is situated on the plain of the River Guadalquivir, with an average elevation of above sea level...

; twenty anarchists were killed and one hundred were wounded after the army besieged a CNT meeting place and destroyed it with artillery. An insurrection occurred in Alto Llobregat, where miners took over the town and raised red and black flags in town halls.

These actions provoked harsh government repression
Political repression
Political repression is the persecution of an individual or group for political reasons, particularly for the purpose of restricting or preventing their ability to take political life of society....

 and achieved little tangible success. Some of the most active anarchists, including Buenaventura Durruti
Buenaventura Durruti
José Buenaventura Durruti Dumange was a central figure of Spanish anarchism during the period leading up to and including the Spanish Civil War.-Early life:...

 and Francisco Ascaso
Francisco Ascaso
Francisco Ascaso Abadía was a prominent Anarcho-syndicalist figure in Spain.A baker and waiter, Ascaso joined the Confederación Nacional del Trabajo and one of its armed groups, Los Justicieros...

, were deported to Spanish territory in Africa. This provoked protest and an insurrection in Terrassa
Terrassa
Terrassa is a city in the east central region of Catalonia, Spain, in the comarca of Vallès Occidental, of which it is the co-capital along with Sabadell, the historic capital....

, where, like in Alto Llobregat, workers stormed town halls and raised their flags. Another failed insurrection took place in 1933, when anarchist groups attacked military barracks with the hope that those inside would support them. The government had already learned of these plans, however, and quickly suppressed the revolt.

None of these actions had any success. They resulted in thousands of jailed anarchists and a wounded movement. At the same time, infighting between the syndicalist treintistas and the insurrectionalist FAI hurt the unity of the anarchist struggle.

Prelude to revolution



The national focus on Republic and reform led the anarchists to cry "Before the ballot boxes, social revolution!" In their view, liberal electoral reforms were futile and undesirable, and impeded the total liberation of the working classes.

An uprising took place in December 1933. Aside from a prison break in Barcelona, no gains were made by revolutionaries before the police quelled the revolt in Catalonia and most of the rest of the country. Zaragoza saw ephemeral insurrection in the form of street fighting and the occupation of certain buildings.

In Casas Viejas, militants quickly surrendered when they were outnumbered by police forces. However, one old anarchist called "Six fingers" barricaded himself in his home with his family and vowed to resist arrest. His house was burned down, his family was killed, and the anarchists who previously surrendered peacefully were shot. This massacre provoked torrents of condemnation, even from conservative Republicans.

An important strike took place in April, again in Zaragoza. It lasted five weeks, shutting down most of Zaragoza's economy. Other parts of the country were supportive; anarchists in Barcelona took care of the strikers' children (about 13,000 of them).

Asturias


Perhaps the clearest prequel to revolution (and civil war) came in 1934, in the mining districts of Asturias
Asturias
The Principality of Asturias is an autonomous community of the Kingdom of Spain, coextensive with the former Kingdom of Asturias in the Middle Ages...

. The strike here was a cooperative effort of communists and anarchists, with the former having more representation, but with events mirroring more closely an anarchist mindset. Communists had some influence, but their numbers were small; the Communist Party had perhaps 1,000 members in 1934 compared with the UGT's 1.44 million and the CNT's 1.58 million.

The miners' strike began with attacks on barracks of the Civil Guard. In the town of Mieres
Mieres, Asturias
Mieres is a municipality of Asturias, Spain with approximately 45,000 inhabitants. The municipality of Mieres is made up of the capital, Mieres del Camino and the villages of Baiña, Figaredo, Cenera, Loredo, Bustiello, La Peña, La Rebollada, Santullano, Santa Rosa, Seana, Ujo, Urbies, Valdecuna,...

, police barracks and the town hall were taken over. Strikers moved on, continuing to occupy towns, even the capital of Asturias in Oviedo
Oviedo
Oviedo is the capital city of the Principality of Asturias in northern Spain. It is also the name of the municipality that contains the city....

. Workers had control over most of Asturias, under chants of "Unity, Proletarian brothers!" The ports of Gijon
Gijón
Gijón , officially Gijón / Xixón, is a coastal industrial city and a municipality in the autonomous community of Asturias in Spain. Early mediaeval texts mention it as "Gigia". It was an important regional Roman city, although the area has been settled since earliest history...

 and Aviles
Avilés
Avilés is a city in Asturias, Spain. Avilés is with Oviedo and Gijón, one of the main towns in the Principality of Asturias.The town occupies the flattest land in the municipality, in a land that belonged to the sea, surrounded by small promontories, all of them having an altitude of less than...

 remained open. Anarchist militants defending against the imminent arrival of government troops were denied sufficient arms by suspicious communists. So fell the uprising, with great violence upon the rebels, but also with great unity and revolutionary fervor amongst the working classes.

The crushing of the revolt was led by General Francisco Franco
Francisco Franco
Francisco Franco y Bahamonde was a Spanish general, dictator and head of state of Spain from October 1936 , and de facto regent of the nominally restored Kingdom of Spain from 1947 until his death in November, 1975...

, who would later lead a rebellion against the republic and become dictator of Spain. The use of the Foreign Legion and the Moorish Regulares
Regulares
The Fuerzas Regulares Indígenas , known simply as the Regulares , were the volunteer infantry and cavalry units of the Spanish Army recruited in Spanish Morocco. They consisted of Moroccans officered by Spaniards...

to kill Spaniards caused public outrage. Captured miners faced torture
Torture
Torture is the act of inflicting severe pain as a means of punishment, revenge, forcing information or a confession, or simply as an act of cruelty. Throughout history, torture has often been used as a method of political re-education, interrogation, punishment, and coercion...

, rape, mutilation, and execution. This foreshadowed the same brutality seen two years later in the Spanish Civil War
Spanish Civil War
The Spanish Civil WarAlso known as The Crusade among Nationalists, the Fourth Carlist War among Carlists, and The Rebellion or Uprising among Republicans. was a major conflict fought in Spain from 17 July 1936 to 1 April 1939...

.

The Popular Front


With the growth of right-wing political parties (Gil Robles' conservative Spanish Confederation of the Autonomous Right
Spanish Confederation of the Autonomous Right
The Spanish Confederation of the Autonomous Right was a Spanish political party in the Second Spanish Republic. A Catholic conservative force, it was the political heir to Angel Herrera Oria's Acción Popular and defined itself in terms of the 'affirmation and defence of the principles of Christian...

, for example), leftist parties felt the need to join together in a "Popular Front." This included Republicans, Socialists, Communists, and other left parties; Anarchists were not willing to support it but refused to attack it, either, thus helping it get into power.

The more radical elements of the CNT-FAI were not satisfied with electoral politics. In the months after the Popular Front's rise to power, strikes, demonstrations, and rebellions broke out throughout Spain. Throughout the countryside, almost 5 km² of land were taken over by squatters. The Popular Front parties began to lose control. Anarchists would continue to strike even when prudent socialists called it off, taking food from stores when strike funds ran out.

The CNT's national congress in May 1936 had an overtly revolutionary tone. Among the topics discussed were sexual freedom, plans for agrarian communes
Commune (intentional community)
A commune is an intentional community of people living together, sharing common interests, property, possessions, resources, and, in some communes, work and income. In addition to the communal economy, consensus decision-making, non-hierarchical structures and ecological living have become...

, and the elimination of social hierarchy
Hierarchy
A hierarchy is an arrangement of items in which the items are represented as being "above," "below," or "at the same level as" one another...

.

Spanish individualist anarchism


Spanish individualist anarchism
Individualist anarchism
Individualist anarchism refers to several traditions of thought within the anarchist movement that emphasize the individual and his or her will over external determinants such as groups, society, traditions, and ideological systems. Individualist anarchism is not a single philosophy but refers to a...

 was influenced by American individualist anarchism but mainly it was connected to the French currents
Individualist anarchism in Europe
Individualist anarchism refers to several traditions of thought within the anarchist movement that emphasize the individual and his or her will over external determinants such as groups, society, traditions, and ideological systems.European individualist anarchism proceeded from the roots laid by...

. At the turn of the century people such as Dorado Montero, Ricardo Mella
Ricardo Mella
Ricardo Mella Cea was one of the first writers, intellectuals and anarchist activists of the late nineteenth and early twentieth century in Spain. Was characterized as an erudite in various subjects and versed in languages, mastering French, English and Italian...

, Federico Urales, Mariano Gallardo and J. Elizalde translated French and American individualists. Important in this respect were also magazines such as La Idea Libre, La Revista Blanca
La Revista Blanca
La Revista Blanca was a Spanish individualist anarchist magazine of sociology and arts published in Madrid by Joan Montseny y Teresa Mañé from 1898 to 1905 and in Barcelona from June 1, 1923 till August 15, 1936....

, Etica, Iniciales
Iniciales
Iniciales was a Spanish individualist anarchist and naturist eclectic magazine which ran between 1929 and 1937. The first number appeared in Barcelona in February, 1929. Its predecessor was Barcelona's Ética...

, Al margen, Estudios and Nosotros. The most influential thinkers there were Stirner
Stirner
Stirner:* Max Stirner, pseudonym for Johann Caspar Schmidt , German philosopher and journalist* Karl Stirner , painter, illustrator and poet...

, Émile Armand
Emile Armand
Emile Armand was the most influential French individualist anarchist at the beginning of the 20th century and also a dedicated free love/polyamory, intentional community, and pacifist/antimilitarist writer, propagandist and activist...

 and Han Ryner
Han Ryner
Jacques Élie Henri Ambroise Ner , also known by the pseudonym Han Ryner, was a French individualist anarchist philosopher and activist and a novelist...

. Just as in France, Esperanto
Esperanto
is the most widely spoken constructed international auxiliary language. Its name derives from Doktoro Esperanto , the pseudonym under which L. L. Zamenhof published the first book detailing Esperanto, the Unua Libro, in 1887...

, anationalism
Anationalism
Anationalism is a term originating from the community of Esperanto speakers. It denotes a range of cosmopolitan political concepts that combine some or all of the following tendencies and ideas:*radical antinationalism,...

, anarcho-naturism
Anarcho-naturism
Anarcho-naturism appeared in the late 19th century as the union of anarchist and naturist philosophies. Mainly it had importance within individualist anarchist circles in Spain, France, Portugal...

 and free love
Free love
The term free love has been used to describe a social movement that rejects marriage, which is seen as a form of social bondage. The Free Love movement’s initial goal was to separate the state from sexual matters such as marriage, birth control, and adultery...

 were present as philosophies and practices within spanish individualist anarchist circles. Later Armand and Ryner started publishing in the Spanish invidualist press. Armand's concept of amorous camaraderie had an important role in motivating polyamory
Polyamory
Polyamory is the practice, desire, or acceptance of having more than one intimate relationship at a time with the knowledge and consent of everyone involved....

 as realization of the individual.

Recently historian Xavier Diez wrote on the subject in El anarquismo individualista en España: 1923-1938 y Utopia sexual a la premsa anarquista de Catalunya. La revista Ética-Iniciales(1927–1937) deals with free love thought in Iniciales
Iniciales
Iniciales was a Spanish individualist anarchist and naturist eclectic magazine which ran between 1929 and 1937. The first number appeared in Barcelona in February, 1929. Its predecessor was Barcelona's Ética...

. Diez reports that the Spanish individualist anarchist press was widely read by members of anarcho-communist groups and by members of the anarcho-syndicalist trade union CNT. There were also the cases of prominent individualist anarchists such as Federico Urales and Miguel Gimenez Igualada
Miguel Giménez Igualada
Miguel Giménez Igualada, , was a Spanish individualist anarchist writer also known as Miguel Ramos Giménez and Juan de Iniesta.- Life :In his youth, Igualada engaged in illegalist activities...

 who were members of the CNT and J. Elizalde who was a founding member and first secretary of the Iberian Anarchist Federation.

Federico Urales was an important Catalan
Catalan people
The Catalans or Catalonians are the people from, or with origins in, Catalonia that form a historical nationality in Spain. The inhabitants of the adjacent portion of southern France are sometimes included in this definition...

 individualist anarchist who edited La Revista Blanca
La Revista Blanca
La Revista Blanca was a Spanish individualist anarchist magazine of sociology and arts published in Madrid by Joan Montseny y Teresa Mañé from 1898 to 1905 and in Barcelona from June 1, 1923 till August 15, 1936....

. The individualist anarchism of Urales was influenced by Auguste Comte
Auguste Comte
Isidore Auguste Marie François Xavier Comte , better known as Auguste Comte , was a French philosopher, a founder of the discipline of sociology and of the doctrine of positivism...

 and Charles Darwin
Charles Darwin
Charles Robert Darwin FRS was an English naturalist. He established that all species of life have descended over time from common ancestry, and proposed the scientific theory that this branching pattern of evolution resulted from a process that he called natural selection.He published his theory...

. He saw science and reason as a defense against blind servitude to authority. He was critical of influential individualist thinkers such as Nietzsche and Stirner
Stirner
Stirner:* Max Stirner, pseudonym for Johann Caspar Schmidt , German philosopher and journalist* Karl Stirner , painter, illustrator and poet...

 for promoting an asocial egoist individualism and instead promoted an individualism with solidarity as a way to guarantee social equality and harmony. In the subject of organization he was highly critical of anarcho-syndicalism as he saw it plagued by too much bureaucracy and thought that it tended towards reformism. Instead he favored small groups based on ideological alignement. He supported the establishmente of the Iberian Anarchist Federation (FAI) in 1927 and participated in it.

An important Spanish individualist anarchist was Miguel Giménez Igualada
Miguel Giménez Igualada
Miguel Giménez Igualada, , was a Spanish individualist anarchist writer also known as Miguel Ramos Giménez and Juan de Iniesta.- Life :In his youth, Igualada engaged in illegalist activities...

 who wrote the lengthy theory book called Anarchism espousing his individualist anarchism. Between October, 1937 and February, 1938 he started as editor of the individualist anarchist magazine Nosotros, in which many works of Han Ryner
Han Ryner
Jacques Élie Henri Ambroise Ner , also known by the pseudonym Han Ryner, was a French individualist anarchist philosopher and activist and a novelist...

 and Émile Armand
Emile Armand
Emile Armand was the most influential French individualist anarchist at the beginning of the 20th century and also a dedicated free love/polyamory, intentional community, and pacifist/antimilitarist writer, propagandist and activist...

 appeared, and also participated in the publishing of another individualist anarchist maganize Al Margen: Publicación quincenal individualista. In his youth he engaged in illegalist activities. Igualada's thought was deeply influenced by Max Stirner
Max Stirner
Johann Kaspar Schmidt , better known as Max Stirner , was a German philosopher, who ranks as one of the literary fathers of nihilism, existentialism, post-modernism and anarchism, especially of individualist anarchism...

, of which he was the main popularizer in Spain through his writings. He published and wrote the preface to the fourth edition in Spanish of The Ego and Its Own
The Ego and Its Own
The Ego and Its Own is a philosophical work by German philosopher Max Stirner . This work was first published in 1845, although with a stated publication date of "1844" to confuse the Prussian censors.-Content:...

from 1900. He proposed the creation of a Union of Egoists, a Federation of Individualist Anarchists in Spain, but did not succeed. In 1956, Igualada published an extensive treatise on Stirner, which he dedicated to fellow individualist anarchist Émile Armand
Emile Armand
Emile Armand was the most influential French individualist anarchist at the beginning of the 20th century and also a dedicated free love/polyamory, intentional community, and pacifist/antimilitarist writer, propagandist and activist...

. Afterwards, he travelled and lived in Argentina, Uruguay and Mexico.

Anarchist presence in the Spanish Civil War


The Republican government responded to the threat of a military uprising with remarkable timidity and inaction. The CNT had warned Madrid of a rising based in Morocco
Morocco
Morocco , officially the Kingdom of Morocco , is a country located in North Africa. It has a population of more than 32 million and an area of 710,850 km², and also primarily administers the disputed region of the Western Sahara...

 months earlier and even gave the exact date and time of 5 am on July 19, which it had learned through its impressive espionage apparatus. Yet, the Popular Front did nothing, and refused to give arms to the CNT. Tired of begging for weapons and being denied, CNT militants raided an arsenal and doled out arms to the unions. Militias were placed on alert days before the planned rising.

The rising was actually moved forward two days to July 17, and was crushed in areas heavily defended by anarchist militants, such as Barcelona. Some anarchist strongholds, such as Zaragoza, fell, to the great dismay of those in Catalonia; this is possibly due to the fact that they were being told that there was no "desperate situation" by Madrid and thus did not prepare. The Government still remained in a state of denial, even saying that the "Nationalist" forces had been crushed in places where it had not been. It is largely because of the militancy on the part of the unions, both anarchist and communist, that the Rebel forces did not win the war immediately.

Anarchist militias were remarkably libertarian within themselves, particularly in the early part of the war before being partially absorbed into the regular army. They had no rank system, no hierarchy, no salutes, and those called "Commanders" were elected by the troops.

The most effective anarchist unit was the Durruti Column
Durruti Column
The Durruti Column was the largest anarchist column formed during the Spanish Civil War . During the first months of the war it has come to be the most recognized and popular military organisations fighting at the republican side...

, led by militant Buenaventura Durruti. It was the only anarchist unit which managed to gain respect from otherwise fiercely hostile political opponents. In a section of her memoirs which otherwise lambastes the anarchists, Dolores Ibarruri
Dolores Ibárruri
Isidora Dolores Ibárruri Gómez , known more famously as "La Pasionaria" was a Spanish Republican leader of the Spanish Civil War and communist politician of Basque origin...

 states: "The war developed with minimal participation from the anarchists in its fundamental operations. One exception was Durruti..." (Memorias de Dolores Ibarruri, p. 382). The column began with 3,000 troops, but at its peak was made up of about 8,000 men. They had a difficult time getting arms from a fearful Republican government, so Durruti and his men compensated by seizing unused arms from government stockpiles. Durruti's death on November 20, 1936 weakened the Column in spirit and tactical ability; they were eventually incorporated, by decree, into the regular army. Over a quarter of the population of Barcelona attended Durruti's funeral. It is still uncertain how Durruti died; modern historians tend to agree that it was an accident, perhaps a malfunction with his own gun or a result of friendly fire, but widespread rumors at the time claimed treachery by his men; anarchists tended to claim that he died heroically and was shot by a fascist sniper. Given the widespread repression against Anarchists by the Soviets, which included torture and summary executions, it is also possible that it was a USSR plot.

Another famous unit was the Iron Column
Iron Column
The Iron Column was a Spanish anarchist militia column formed during the Spanish Civil War to fight the military forces of Francisco Franco that had rebelled against the Second Spanish Republic....

, made up of ex-convicts and other "disinherited" Spaniards sympathetic to the Revolution. The Republican government denounced them as "uncontrollables" and "bandits", but they had a fair amount of success in battle. In March 1937 they were incorporated into the regular army.

CNT–FAI collaboration with government during the war


In 1936, the CNT decided, after several refusals, to collaborate with the government of Largo Caballero. Juan García Oliver
Juan García Oliver
Juan García Oliver was a Spanish Anarcho-syndicalist revolutionary, and a leading figure of Anarchism in Spain....

 became Minister of Justice (where he abolished legal fees and had all criminal dossiers destroyed), Diego Abad de Santillán
Diego Abad de Santillán
Diego Abad de Santillán , born Sinesio Vaudilio García Fernández, was an author, economist and leading figure in the Spanish and Argentine anarchist movements.-Early years:...

 became Minister of the Economy, and Federica Montseny
Federica Montseny
Federica Montseny i Mañé was a Spanish anarchist, intellectual and Minister of Health during the social revolution that occurred in Spain parallel to the Civil War...

 became Minister of Health, to name a few instances.

During the Spanish Civil War, many anarchists outside of Spain criticized the CNT leadership for entering into government and compromising with communist elements on the Republican side. Those in Spain felt that this was a temporary adjustment, and that once Franco was defeated, they would continue in their libertarian ways. There was also concern with the growing power of authoritarian communists within the government. Montseny later explained: "At that time we only saw the reality of the situation created for us: the communists in the government and ourselves outside, the manifold possibilities, and all our achievements endangered."

Indeed, some anarchists outside of Spain viewed their concessions as necessary considering the grim possibility of losing everything should the fascists win the war. Emma Goldman
Emma Goldman
Emma Goldman was an anarchist known for her political activism, writing and speeches. She played a pivotal role in the development of anarchist political philosophy in North America and Europe in the first half of the twentieth century....

 said, "With Franco at the gate of Madrid, I could hardly blame the CNT–FAI for choosing a lesser evil: participation in government rather than dictatorship, the most deadly evil."

To this day, the issue remains controversial among anarchists.

1936 Revolution


Along with the fight against fascism was a profound anarchist revolution throughout Spain.

Much of Spain's economy was put under worker control; in anarchist strongholds like Catalonia, the figure was as high as 75%, but lower in areas with heavy socialist influence. Factories were run through worker committees, agrarian areas became collectivized and run as libertarian communes
Commune (intentional community)
A commune is an intentional community of people living together, sharing common interests, property, possessions, resources, and, in some communes, work and income. In addition to the communal economy, consensus decision-making, non-hierarchical structures and ecological living have become...

. Even places like hotels, barber shops, and restaurants were collectivized and managed by their workers. George Orwell
George Orwell
Eric Arthur Blair , better known by his pen name George Orwell, was an English author and journalist...

 describes a scene in Aragon
Aragon
Aragon is a modern autonomous community in Spain, coextensive with the medieval Kingdom of Aragon. Located in northeastern Spain, the Aragonese autonomous community comprises three provinces : Huesca, Zaragoza, and Teruel. Its capital is Zaragoza...

 during this time period, in his book, Homage to Catalonia
Homage to Catalonia
Homage to Catalonia is political journalist and novelist George Orwell's personal account of his experiences and observations in the Spanish Civil War. The first edition was published in 1938. The book was not published in the United States until February 1952. The American edition had a preface...

:
­"I had dropped more or less by chance into the only community of any size in Western Europe where political consciousness and disbelief in capitalism were more normal than their opposites. Up here in Aragon one was among tens of thousands of people, mainly though not entirely of working-class origin, all living at the same level and mingling on terms of equality. In theory it was perfect equality, and even in practice it was not far from it. There is a sense in which it would be true to say that one was experiencing a foretaste of Socialism, by which I mean that the prevailing mental atmosphere was that of Socialism. Many of the normal motives of civilized life--snobbishness, money-grubbing, fear of the boss, etc.--had simply ceased to exist. The ordinary class-division of society had disappeared to an extent that is almost unthinkable in the money-tainted air of England; there was no one there except the peasants and ourselves, and no one owned anyone else as his master."


The anarchist held areas were run according to the basic principle of "From each according to his ability, to each according to his need
From each according to his ability, to each according to his need
From each according to his ability, to each according to his need is a slogan popularised by Karl Marx in his 1875 Critique of the Gotha Program. In German, "Jeder nach seinen Fähigkeiten, jedem nach seinen Bedürfnissen!"...

." In some places, money was entirely eliminated, to be replaced with vouchers. Under this system, goods were often up to a quarter of their previous cost. On the other hand, unemployment and industrial production in Catalonia worsened dramatically after collectivization.

Despite the critics clamoring for maximum efficiency, anarchic communes often produced more than before the collectivization. The newly liberated zones worked on entirely libertarian principles; decisions were made through councils of ordinary citizens without any sort of bureaucracy. (The CNT-FAI leadership was at this time not nearly as radical as the rank and file members responsible for these sweeping changes.)

In addition to the economic revolution, there was a spirit of cultural revolution. For instance, women were allowed to have abortions, and the idea of "free love
Free love
The term free love has been used to describe a social movement that rejects marriage, which is seen as a form of social bondage. The Free Love movement’s initial goal was to separate the state from sexual matters such as marriage, birth control, and adultery...

" became popular. In many ways, this spirit of cultural liberation was similar to that of the "New Left
New Left
The New Left was a term used mainly in the United Kingdom and United States in reference to activists, educators, agitators and others in the 1960s and 1970s who sought to implement a broad range of reforms, in contrast to earlier leftist or Marxist movements that had taken a more vanguardist...

" movements of the 1960s.

Counter-revolution


During the Civil War, Communist Party gained considerable influence due to the necessity of aid from the Soviet Union. Communists and "liberals" on the Republican side gave considerable effort to crush the anarchist revolution, ostensibly to bolster the anti-Fascist effort (the response was, "The revolution and the war are inseparable"). Pravda
Pravda
Pravda was a leading newspaper of the Soviet Union and an official organ of the Central Committee of the Communist Party between 1912 and 1991....

announced in December 1936 that "...the mopping up of Trotskyists and anarcho-syndicalists has already begun. It will be carried out with the same vigor as in the USSR." Another communist boldly proclaimed in an interview that they would "make short work of the anarchists after the defeat of Franco." Their efforts to weaken the revolution were ultimately successful: hierarchy was eventually restored in many of the collectivized areas, and power was taken away from workers and unions, to be monopolized by the Popular Front
Popular Front (Spain)
The Popular Front in Spain's Second Republic was an electoral coalition and pact signed in January 1936 by various left-wing political organisations, instigated by Manuel Azaña for the purpose of contesting that year's election....

.

Most important, perhaps, were the measures to destroy the militias, who were arguably leading the war effort in spirit as well as in action. The militias were eventually declared illegal and technically merged with the Popular Army. This had the effect of demoralizing the soldiers and taking away what they had ultimately been fighting for: not for the Soviet Union, but for themselves and for freedom. Vladimir Antonov-Ovseenko
Vladimir Antonov-Ovseenko
Vladimir Alexandrovich Antonov-Ovseyenko , real surname Ovseyenko, party aliases the 'Bayonet' and 'Nikita' , a literary pseudonym A. Gal , was a prominent Soviet Bolshevik leader and diplomat. He was born in Chernigov into an officer's family.In 1903, Antonov-Ovseyenko joined the Menshevik party...

, working in Spain for Joseph Stalin
Joseph Stalin
Joseph Vissarionovich Stalin was the Premier of the Soviet Union from 6 May 1941 to 5 March 1953. He was among the Bolshevik revolutionaries who brought about the October Revolution and had held the position of first General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union's Central Committee...

, had predicted this in 1936: "Without the participation of the CNT, it will not, of course, be possible to create the appropriate enthusiasm and discipline in the people's militia/Republican militia."

Indeed, the counter-revolutionary fervor often served to weaken the anti-Fascist war effort. For example, a huge cache
Treasure trove
A treasure trove may broadly be defined as an amount of money or coin, gold, silver, plate, or bullion found hidden underground or in places such as cellars or attics, where the treasure seems old enough for it to be presumed that the true owner is dead and the heirs undiscoverable...

 of arms was allowed to fall to Francoist forces for fear that it otherwise would end up in the hands of the anarchists. Troops were pulled off the front lines to crush anarchist collectives. Many able soldiers were assassinated for their political ideology; a leader of the repressive efforts, Enrique Líster
Enrique Líster
Enrique Líster Forján was a Spanish communist politician and military officer.-Early life:...

, said that he would "shoot all the anarchists [he] had to." It was revealed that many anarchists were being held in prisons under Communist orders, rather than fighting on the front, and that furthermore many of these prisoners were tortured and shot.

In what became known as the "Barcelona May Days
Barcelona May Days
Barcelona May Days were a period of civil violence in Catalonia, between May 3 and May 8, 1937, when factions on the Republican side of the Spanish Civil War engaged each other in street battles in the city of Barcelona.Clashes began when units of the Assault Guard – under the...

", the most dramatic repressive effort against the anarchists came in May 1937. Communist-led police forces attempted to take over a CNT-run telephone building in Barcelona. The telephone workers fought back, setting up barricades and surrounding the Communist "Lenin Barracks." Five days of street fighting ensued, causing over 500 deaths. This tragic series of events greatly demoralized the workers of Barcelona.

Afterwards, the government sent in 6,000 men to disarm the workers, and the FAI was outlawed. However, the Communist workers were allowed to keep their weapons; only the anarchists were forced to turn them in. This is not surprising considering that the Police and government in Barcelona were overtly Communist-run by this point. The militant Friends of Durruti group encouraged the fighting to continue, feeling that defeat by the Communists would ruin the strength of the anarchist movement. Their call was not heeded.

Throughout the Civil War, the various Communist newspapers engaged in a massive propaganda
Propaganda
Propaganda is a form of communication that is aimed at influencing the attitude of a community toward some cause or position so as to benefit oneself or one's group....

 campaign against the anarchists and the Workers' Party of Marxist Unification (POUM
Poum
Poum is a commune in the North Province of New Caledonia, an overseas territory of France in the Pacific Ocean. The town of Poum is located in the far northwest, located on the southern part of Banare Bay, with Mouac Island just offshore....

). They were often called "Hitler
Adolf Hitler
Adolf Hitler was an Austrian-born German politician and the leader of the National Socialist German Workers Party , commonly referred to as the Nazi Party). He was Chancellor of Germany from 1933 to 1945, and head of state from 1934 to 1945...

ites" and "fascists" in the pay of Franco, as George Orwell notes in Homage to Catalonia: "Just imagine how odious it must be to see a young 15-year old Spaniard brought back from the front lines on a stretcher, to see, poking out from under the blanket an anemic, bewildered face and to think that in London and Paris there are gentlemen dressed to the nines, blithely engaged in writing pamphlets to show this little lad is a covert fascist." The unreliability of these newspapers peaked when not even one reported the events of May 1937
Barcelona May Days
Barcelona May Days were a period of civil violence in Catalonia, between May 3 and May 8, 1937, when factions on the Republican side of the Spanish Civil War engaged each other in street battles in the city of Barcelona.Clashes began when units of the Assault Guard – under the...

.

The Franco years


When Francisco Franco
Francisco Franco
Francisco Franco y Bahamonde was a Spanish general, dictator and head of state of Spain from October 1936 , and de facto regent of the nominally restored Kingdom of Spain from 1947 until his death in November, 1975...

 took power in 1939, he had tens of thousands of political dissidents executed. The total number of politically motivated killings between 1939 and 1943 is estimated to be around 200,000. Political prisoners filled the jails, which were twenty times more populous than before the war. Forced labor camps were opened up, where, according to historian Antony Beevor
Antony Beevor
Antony James Beevor, FRSL is a British historian, educated at Winchester College and Sandhurst. He studied under the famous military historian John Keegan. Beevor is a former officer with the 11th Hussars who served in England and Germany for five years before resigning his commission...

, "the system was probably as bad as in Germany or Russia." Despite these actions, underground resistance to Franco's rule lingered for decades. Actions by the Resistance included, among other things, sabotage, releasing prisoners, underground organizing of workers, aiding fugitives and refugees, and assassinations of government officials.

Little attention was paid to the Spaniards who refused to accept Franco's rule, even by those who had been against him during the War. Miguel Garcia
Miguel García (anarchist)
Miguel García was a Spanish anarchist activist, forger, and writer, and was a political prisoner under the regime of Francisco Franco. Born in Barcelona, García worked first as a newspaper seller, then a printer...

, an anarchist jailed for 22 years, describes their circumstances in his 1972 book: "When we lost the war, those who fought on became the Resistance. But to the world, the Resistance had become criminals, for Franco made the laws, even if, when dealing with political opponents, he chose to break the laws established by the constitution; and the world still regards us as criminals. When we are imprisoned, liberals are not interested, for we are "terrorists"...."

The guerilla resistance (referred to in Spain as Maquis
Spanish Maquis
The Spanish Maquis were Spanish guerrillas exiled in France after the Spanish Civil War who continued to fight against the Franco regime until the early 1960s, carrying out sabotage, robberies , occupations of the Spanish Embassy in France and assassinations of Francoists, as well as contributing...

) was effectively ended around 1960 with the death of many of its more experienced militants. In the period from the end of the war until 1960, according to government sources, there were 1,866 clashes with security forces and 535 acts of sabotage. 2,173 guerillas were killed and 420 were wounded, while the figures for government forces lost amount to only 307 killed and 372 wounded. 19,340 resistance fighters were arrested over this time interval. Those who aided the guerillas were met with similar brutality; as many as 20,000 were arrested over the years on this charge, with many facing torture during interrogation.

The Spanish government under Franco continued to persecute "criminals" until its demise. In the earlier years, some prisons were filled up to fourteen times their capacity, with prisoners hardly able to move about. People were often locked up simply for carrying a union card. Active militants were often less fortunate; thousands were shot or hanged. Two of the most able Resistance fighters, Jose Luis Facerias and Francisco Sabater Llopart (often called "Sabaté"), were simply shot by police forces; many anarchists met a similar fate.

During World War II, Spanish anarchists worked with the French Resistance
French Resistance
The French Resistance is the name used to denote the collection of French resistance movements that fought against the Nazi German occupation of France and against the collaborationist Vichy régime during World War II...

, engaging in actions both on the homefront and abroad. They worked especially to smuggle Jewish families into Spain, forging passes for them and helping them find safety, in order to protect them from Nazi
Nazism
Nazism, the common short form name of National Socialism was the ideology and practice of the Nazi Party and of Nazi Germany...

 oppression.

During his dictatorship, there were at least 30 different plots to kill Franco, mostly made by anarchists. In 1964, anarchist Stuart Christie
Stuart Christie
Stuart Christie is a Scottish anarchist writer and publisher. Christie is best known for being arrested as an 18-year old while carrying explosives to assassinate the Spanish dictator General Franco. He was later alleged to be a member of the Angry Brigade, but was acquitted of related charges...

 travelled from Scotland
Scotland
Scotland is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. Occupying the northern third of the island of Great Britain, it shares a border with England to the south and is bounded by the North Sea to the east, the Atlantic Ocean to the north and west, and the North Channel and Irish Sea to the...

 to attempt to kill Franco; he failed, and was then imprisoned, later to write the book General Franco Made Me A Terrorist.

The then-underground CNT was also involved: in 1962, a secret "Interior Defense" section was formed to coordinate actions of the resistance.

The Anarchist Black Cross
Anarchist Black Cross
The Anarchist Black Cross is an anarchist politics support organization. The group is notable for its efforts at providing prisoners with political literature, but it also organises material and legal support for class struggle prisoners worldwide...

 was re-activated in the late 1960s by Albert Meltzer
Albert Meltzer
Albert Meltzer was an anarcho-communist activist and writer.-Early life:Meltzer was born in London, and attracted to anarchism at the age of fifteen as a direct result of taking boxing lessons . The Labour MP for Edmonton, Edith Summerskill was virulently anti-boxing and his school governors at...

 and Stuart Christie
Stuart Christie
Stuart Christie is a Scottish anarchist writer and publisher. Christie is best known for being arrested as an 18-year old while carrying explosives to assassinate the Spanish dictator General Franco. He was later alleged to be a member of the Angry Brigade, but was acquitted of related charges...

 to help anarchist prisoners during Franco's reign
. In 1969, Miguel Garcia (see above) became International Secretary of the ABC.

Today


The CNT is still active today. Their influence, however, is limited. The CNT, in 1979, split into two factions: CNT/AIT and CNT/U. The CNT/AIT claimed the original "CNT" name, which led the CNT/U to change its name to Confederación General del Trabajo (CGT) in 1989, which retains most of the CNT's principles. The CGT is much larger, with perhaps 50,000 members (although it represents as many as two million workers), and is currently the third largest union in Spain. An important cause for the split and the main practical difference between the two trade unions today is that the CGT participates, just like any other Spanish trade union, in elecciones sindicales, where workers choose their representatives who sign their collective bargaining agreements. CGT has an important number of representatives in, for example, SEAT
SEAT
SEAT, S.A. is a Spanish automobile manufacturer founded on May 9, 1950 by the Instituto Nacional de Industria , a state-owned industrial holding company....

, the Spanish car manufacturer and still the largest enterprise in Catalonia and also in the public railroad system, e.g., it holds the majority in Barcelona's underground
Barcelona Metro
The Barcelona Metro , part of the public transportation system of Barcelona, Catalonia, is an extensive network of electrified railways that run underground in central Barcelona and above ground into the city's suburbs. Since July 31, 2010, Barcelona Metro system consists of 11 lines with 165...

. CNT does not participate in elecciones sindicales and criticizes this model. The CNT–CGT split has made it impossible for the government to give back the unions' important facilities that belonged to them before Franco's regime seized them and used them for their only legal trade union, a devolution also still pending in part for some of the other historical political parties and worker organizations.

Anarchist ideas enjoy a considerable popularity in parts of Spain, as they have throughout the world in the last few decades. Large May Day demonstrations occur annually.
In all Spain, but above all in Barcelona
Barcelona
Barcelona is the second largest city in Spain after Madrid, and the capital of Catalonia, with a population of 1,621,537 within its administrative limits on a land area of...

, squatting
Squatting
Squatting consists of occupying an abandoned or unoccupied space or building, usually residential, that the squatter does not own, rent or otherwise have permission to use....

 is widespread; many of these squatters hold anarchist views. Anarchists produce a local calendar called Info Usurpa that lists around forty explicitly anarchist squats
Squatting
Squatting consists of occupying an abandoned or unoccupied space or building, usually residential, that the squatter does not own, rent or otherwise have permission to use....

 that are organized as social center
Social center
Social centers are community spaces. They are buildings which are used for a range of disparate activities, which can be linked only by virtue of being not-for-profit. They might be organizing centers for local activities or they might provide support networks for minority groups such as prisoners...

s (Centros Sociales). These social centers put on events ranging from concerts, community dinners, and workshops to language courses and free internet cafés. They have faced strong opposition from the authorities, including raids and evictions. In 2004, following the eviction of the squat L'Hamsa, squatters smashed the windows of banks and real estate offices, set dumpsters on fire, attacked police cars, and spray painted slogans on the city's walls.

Relationship with socialists and communists



Spain was the only country in Europe where anarchists had more influence than Marxists. Scholars have proposed a number of reasons for this anomaly. Spain was, unlike most of Europe, a largely rural, peasant-based society. Marx
Karl Marx
Karl Heinrich Marx was a German philosopher, economist, sociologist, historian, journalist, and revolutionary socialist. His ideas played a significant role in the development of social science and the socialist political movement...

 and his followers tended to treat the peasants with disdain while holding the urban worker to be the prime agent of revolutionary change. It is unsurprising, then, that Marxist ideas were unpopular or unknown amongst rural peasants, many of whom heartily embraced anarchism, a theory which held similarities to long-held traditions of mutual aid and village-level organization. Indeed, federalist Francisco Pi y Margall would claim that "Spanish anarchism is nothing more than an expression of the federal and individualist traditions of the country, that "the anarchist movement is not an outcome of abstract discussions, or theories cultivated by a few intellectuals, but an outcome of a social dynamic...." Furthermore, Spain had never been strongly united at the federal level, and Marxist statism seemed irrelevant in regionalistic Spain where the idea of a powerful central government never took hold, except on the far-right. Thus, for various reasons, anarchism triumphed as Spain's primary revolutionary program.

There was occasional but fleeting and superficial unity between anarchists and non-communist socialists, but in general relations were uneasy. A socialist leader once said: "There is a great deal of confusion in the minds of many comrades. They consider Anarchist Syndicalism as an ideal which runs parallel with our own, when it is its absolute antithesis, and that the Anarchists and Syndicalists are comrades when they are our greatest enemies." The often opportunistic UGT
Unión General de Trabajadores
The Unión General de Trabajadores is a major Spanish trade union, historically affiliated with the Spanish Socialist Workers' Party .-History:...

 often provided scabs to break CNT strikes. Condemnations of socialist tactics by anarchists was not at all uncommon. Yet, more radical socialists (like the POUM
Poum
Poum is a commune in the North Province of New Caledonia, an overseas territory of France in the Pacific Ocean. The town of Poum is located in the far northwest, located on the southern part of Banare Bay, with Mouac Island just offshore....

) often made allies out of the anarchists, especially during the Civil War and particularly in the defense of Madrid. By 1938, an official pact of unity had been signed between the CNT and the UGT.

Communists had extremely limited influence within Spain until around the time of the Civil War. The working classes, anarchist or not, responded to the Bolshevik revolution with triumph, as did most revolutionaries throughout the world. It was celebrated as a victory of the masses and a beacon of hope. Workers refused to ship arms that would be used against the Red Army. However, libertarians soon discovered the true nature of Bolshevik power, especially after the brutal suppression of the Kronstadt rebellion
Kronstadt rebellion
The Kronstadt rebellion was one of many major unsuccessful left-wing uprisings against the Bolsheviks in the aftermath of the Russian Civil War...

, and again when Leon Trotsky
Leon Trotsky
Leon Trotsky , born Lev Davidovich Bronshtein, was a Russian Marxist revolutionary and theorist, Soviet politician, and the founder and first leader of the Red Army....

's Red Army
Red Army
The Workers' and Peasants' Red Army started out as the Soviet Union's revolutionary communist combat groups during the Russian Civil War of 1918-1922. It grew into the national army of the Soviet Union. By the 1930s the Red Army was among the largest armies in history.The "Red Army" name refers to...

 attacked Nestor Makhno
Nestor Makhno
Nestor Ivanovych Makhno or simply Daddy Makhno was a Ukrainian anarcho-communist guerrilla leader turned army commander who led an independent anarchist army in Ukraine during the Russian Civil War....

's Black Guards
Black Guards
Black Guards were armed groups of workers formed after the Russian Revolution and before the Third Russian Revolution. They were the main strike force of the anarchists...

 in Ukraine. The anarchist relationship with the Bolsheviks after these events was bitter. The CNT ardently refused to join COMINTERN and frequently criticized the policies of the Bolshevik government. Communist antipathy to anarchism was equally strong: when communists attained power during the Civil War, anarchist groups were repressed, often violently.

Violence



Although many anarchists were opposed to the use of force, some militants did use violence and terrorism
Terrorism
Terrorism is the systematic use of terror, especially as a means of coercion. In the international community, however, terrorism has no universally agreed, legally binding, criminal law definition...

 to further their agendas. This "propaganda of the deed
Propaganda of the deed
Propaganda of the deed is a concept that refers to specific political actions meant to be exemplary to others...

" first became popular in the late 19th century. This was before the rise of syndicalism as an anarchist tactic, and after a long history of police repression that led many to despair.

The Desheredados (English translation: "the Disinherited"), were a secret group advocating violence and said to be behind a number of murders. Another group, Mano Negra (Black Hand), was also rumoured to be behind various assassinations and bombings, although there is some evidence that the group was a sensational myth created by police in the Civil Guard (La Guardia Civil), notorious for their brutality; in fact, it is well known that police invented actions by their enemies, or carried them out themselves, as a tool of repression. Los Solidarios and Los Amigos de Durruti (Friends of Durruti) were other groups that used violence as a political weapon. The former group was responsible for the robbery of Banco de Bilbao which gained 300,000 pesetas, and the assassination of the Cardinal Archbishop of Zaragoza Juan Soldevilla Romero, who was reviled as a particularly reactionary cleric. Los Solidarios stopped using violence with the end of the Primo de Rivera dictatorship, when anarchists had more opportunities to work aboveground.

In later years, anarchists were responsible for a number of church burnings throughout Spain. The Church
Roman Catholic Church
The Catholic Church, also known as the Roman Catholic Church, is the world's largest Christian church, with over a billion members. Led by the Pope, it defines its mission as spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ, administering the sacraments and exercising charity...

, a powerful, usually right-wing political force in Spain, was always hated by anti-authoritarians. At this time, their influence was not as grand as in the past, but a rise of anti-Christian sentiment coincided with their perceived or real support of fascism. Many of the burnings were not committed by anarchists. However, anarchists were often used as a scapegoat
Scapegoat
Scapegoating is the practice of singling out any party for unmerited negative treatment or blame. Scapegoating may be conducted by individuals against individuals , individuals against groups , groups against individuals , and groups against groups Scapegoating is the practice of singling out any...

 by the authorities.

Rarely was violence directed towards civilians. However, there are a few recorded cases in which anarchists enforced their own beliefs with violence; one observer reports incidents in which pimps and drug dealers were shot on the spot. Forced collectivization, while exceedingly rare, did occur on several occasions when ideals were dropped in favor of wartime pragmatism. In general, though, individual holdings were respected by anarchists who opposed coercive violence more vigorously than small-scale property possession.

Despite the violence of some, many anarchists in Spain adopted an ascetic lifestyle in line with their libertarian beliefs. Smoking, drinking, gambling
Gambling
Gambling is the wagering of money or something of material value on an event with an uncertain outcome with the primary intent of winning additional money and/or material goods...

, and prostitution were widely looked down upon. Anarchists avoided dealing with institutions they proposed to fight against: most did not enter into marriages, go to State-run schools (libertarian schools, like the Catalan
Catalonia
Catalonia is an autonomous community in northeastern Spain, with the official status of a "nationality" of Spain. Catalonia comprises four provinces: Barcelona, Girona, Lleida, and Tarragona. Its capital and largest city is Barcelona. Catalonia covers an area of 32,114 km² and has an...

 Ferrer's "Modern School
Modern School (United States)
The Modern Schools, also called Ferrer Schools, were United States schools, established in the early twentieth century, that were modeled after the Escuela Moderna of Francesc Ferrer i Guàrdia, the Catalan educator and anarchist...

", were popular), or attempt to aggrandize their personal wealth. This moralism starkly contrasts with the popular view of anarchists as anomic firebrands, but also is part of another stereotype that the anarchism in Spain was a millenarian pseudo-religion.

Feminism


Feminism
Feminism
Feminism is a collection of movements aimed at defining, establishing, and defending equal political, economic, and social rights and equal opportunities for women. Its concepts overlap with those of women's rights...

 has historically played a role alongside the development of anarchism; Spain is no exception. The CNT's founding congress placed special emphasis on the role of women in the labor force and urged an effort to recruit them into the organization. There was also a denunciation of the exploitation of women in society and of wives by their husbands.

Women's rights
Women's rights
Women's rights are entitlements and freedoms claimed for women and girls of all ages in many societies.In some places these rights are institutionalized or supported by law, local custom, and behaviour, whereas in others they may be ignored or suppressed...

 had been integral in anarchist ideas such as coeducation
Coeducation
Mixed-sex education, also known as coeducation or co-education, is the integrated education of male and female persons in the same institution. It is the opposite of single-sex education...

, the abolition of marriage, and abortion
Abortion
Abortion is defined as the termination of pregnancy by the removal or expulsion from the uterus of a fetus or embryo prior to viability. An abortion can occur spontaneously, in which case it is usually called a miscarriage, or it can be purposely induced...

 rights, amongst others; these were quite radical ideas in traditionally Catholic Spain. Women had played a large part in many of the struggles, even fighting alongside their male comrades on the barricades. However, they were often marginalized; for example, women often were paid less in the agrarian collectives and had less visible roles in larger anarchist organizations.

A Spanish anarchist group known as Mujeres Libres
Mujeres Libres
Mujeres Libres was an anarchist women's organization in Spain that aimed to empower working class women. It was founded in 1936 by Lucía Sánchez Saornil, Mercedes Comaposada and Amparo Poch y Gascón and had approximately 30,000 members...

(Free Women) provided day-care, education, maternity centers, and other services for the benefit of women. The group had a peak membership of between 20,000 and 38,000. Its first national congress, held in 1937, with delegations from over a dozen different cities representing about 115 smaller groups. The statutes of the organization declared its purpose as being "a. To create a conscious and responsible feminine force that will act as a vanguard of progress; b. To establish for this purpose schools, institutes, lectures, special courses, etc., to train the woman and emancipate her from the triple slavery to which she has been and still is submitted: the slavery of ignorance, the slavery of being a woman, and the slavery of being a worker."

Eskalera Karakola
Eskalera Karakola
Eskalera Karakola is a squat in Madrid, Spain, which is held by feminists and works on autogestion principles. It was situated in the Lavapiés barrio from 1996 to 2005, and is now in Calle Embajador. The squat organizes activities focussing on domestic violence and women's precarity in...

 is a current squat
Squatting
Squatting consists of occupying an abandoned or unoccupied space or building, usually residential, that the squatter does not own, rent or otherwise have permission to use....

 in Madrid
Madrid
Madrid is the capital and largest city of Spain. The population of the city is roughly 3.3 million and the entire population of the Madrid metropolitan area is calculated to be 6.271 million. It is the third largest city in the European Union, after London and Berlin, and its metropolitan...

, Spain, which is held by feminists and works on autogestion principles. It was situated in the Lavapiés
Lavapiés
Lavapiés is a central neighbourhood of the city of Madrid, centered on Plaza de Lavapiés.It was the Jewish quarter of the city until the expulsion of the Jews from Spain in 1492, the church of San Lorenzo being built on the former site of the synagogue...

 barrio from 1996 to 2005, and is now in Calle Embajador. The squat organizes activities focussing on domestic violence
Domestic violence
Domestic violence, also known as domestic abuse, spousal abuse, battering, family violence, and intimate partner violence , is broadly defined as a pattern of abusive behaviors by one or both partners in an intimate relationship such as marriage, dating, family, or cohabitation...

 and women's precarity
Precarity (Euromayday)
* For a sociological view of labor conditions, see Precarious work* For a social Christianity view see Precarity Precarity is a condition of existence without predictability or security, affecting material or psychological welfare...

 in post-industrial capitalism. In 2002, it created a Female Workers' Laboratory (Laboratorio de Trabajadoras), and has carried out anti-racist activities, in particular with female immigrants
Immigration to Spain
As of 2010, there were 6.4 million foreign-born residents in Spain, corresponding to 14.0% of the total population. Of these, 4.1 million were born outside the European Union and 2.3 million were born in another EU Member State....

, since 1998. Eskalera Karakola also took part in the organization of the GLBT Pride
Gay pride
LGBT pride or gay pride is the concept that lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people should be proud of their sexual orientation and gender identity...

 and the forum "Women and Architecture". It participated in alter-globalization
Alter-globalization
Alter-globalization is the name of a social movement that supports global cooperation and interaction, but which opposes the negative effects of economic globalization, feeling that it often works to the detriment of, or does not...

 events such as the European Social Forum
European Social Forum
The European Social Forum is a recurring conference held by members of the alter-globalization movement . In the first few years after it started in 2002 the conference was held every year, but later it became biannual due to difficulties with finding host countries...

 and is part of the European nextGENDERation network. It publishes a review, Mujeres Preokupando ("Concerned Women").

See also

  • La Mano Negra
    La Mano Negra
    La Mano Negra was a supposed secret and violent Anarchist organization that was founded in Andalucia, Spain at the end of the 19th century....

    , alleged violent anarchist secret society operating in Andalusia around 1880.

Further reading


  • A Day Mournful and Overcast — By An "Uncontrollable" From the Iron Column
    Iron Column
    The Iron Column was a Spanish anarchist militia column formed during the Spanish Civil War to fight the military forces of Francisco Franco that had rebelled against the Second Spanish Republic....

    . Published by the Kate Sharpley Library
    Kate Sharpley Library
    The Kate Sharpley Library is a library dedicated to anarchist texts and history. Started in 1979 and reorganized in 1991, it currently holds around ten thousand English language volumes, pamphlets and periodicals...

    . ISBN 1-873605-33-1
  • Ackelsberg, Martha. Free Women Of Spain: Anarchism And The Struggle For The Emancipation Of Women. ISBN 1-902593-96-0
  • Alexander, Robert. The Anarchists in the Spanish Civil War (2 vols). ISBN 1-85756-400-6
  • Beevor, Antony. The Spanish Civil War. ISBN 0-14-100148-8
  • Bookchin, Murray
    Murray Bookchin
    Murray Bookchin was an American libertarian socialist author, orator, and philosopher. A pioneer in the ecology movement, Bookchin was the founder of the social ecology movement within anarchist, libertarian socialist and ecological thought. He was the author of two dozen books on politics,...

    . The Spanish Anarchists: The Heroic Years 1868-1936. ISBN 1-873176-04-X
  • Bookchin, Murray
    Murray Bookchin
    Murray Bookchin was an American libertarian socialist author, orator, and philosopher. A pioneer in the ecology movement, Bookchin was the founder of the social ecology movement within anarchist, libertarian socialist and ecological thought. He was the author of two dozen books on politics,...

    . To Remember Spain. ISBN 1-873176-87-2
  • Diez, Xavier. El anarquismo individualista en España (1923-1939). Virus Editorial. Barcelona. 2007
  • Brenan, Gerald
    Gerald Brenan
    Edward FitzGerald "Gerald" Brenan, CBE was a British writer and Hispanist who spent much of his life in Spain.He is best known for The Spanish Labyrinth, a historical work on the background to the Spanish Civil War, and for South from Granada: Seven Years in an Andalusian Village...

    . The Spanish Labyrinth. ISBN 0-521-39827-4
  • Chomsky, Noam.
    Noam Chomsky
    Avram Noam Chomsky is an American linguist, philosopher, cognitive scientist, and activist. He is an Institute Professor and Professor in the Department of Linguistics & Philosophy at MIT, where he has worked for over 50 years. Chomsky has been described as the "father of modern linguistics" and...

     Objectivity and Liberal Scholarship.
  • Christie, Stuart. We, The Anarchists! A Study Of The Iberian Anarchist Federation (FAI) 1927-1937 ISBN 1-901172-06-6
  • Fraser, Ronald. Blood of Spain. ISBN 0-394-73854-3.
  • Fremion, Yves. Orgasms of History: 3000 Years of Spontaneous Revolt. Chapters 22-23. ISBN 1-902593-34-0
  • Garcia, Miguel. Looking Back After Twenty Years of Jail. ISBN 1-873605-03-X
  • Goldman, Emma. Vision on Fire: Emma Goldman on the Spanish Revolution. ISBN 0-9610348-2-3
  • Guillamón, Agustin. The Friends of Durruti Group 1937-1939. ISBN 1-873176-54-6
  • Oehler, Hugo. Barricades in Barcelona. (A contemporary account of the Barcelona May Days
    Barcelona May Days
    Barcelona May Days were a period of civil violence in Catalonia, between May 3 and May 8, 1937, when factions on the Republican side of the Spanish Civil War engaged each other in street battles in the city of Barcelona.Clashes began when units of the Assault Guard – under the...

    )
  • Orwell, George. Homage to Catalonia
    Homage to Catalonia
    Homage to Catalonia is political journalist and novelist George Orwell's personal account of his experiences and observations in the Spanish Civil War. The first edition was published in 1938. The book was not published in the United States until February 1952. The American edition had a preface...

    . ISBN 0-15-642117-8
  • Payne, Stanley G. The Spanish Revolution.
  • Peirats, José. Anarchists in the Spanish Revolution. ISBN 0-900384-53-0.
  • Peirats, José. The CNT in the Spanish Revolution. ISBN 1-901172-05-8 (vol. 1); ISBN 1-873976-24-0 (vol. 2); ISBN 1-873976291 (vol.3). all from ChristieBooks.
  • Antonio Téllez
    Antonio Téllez
    Antonio Téllez Solá was a Spanish anarchist, journalist and historian.He fought on the Republican side against Francisco Franco in the Spanish Civil War. At the war's end in 1939, he went into exile in France...

    , Sabaté: Guerrilla Extraordinary ISBN 1-902593-10-3
  • Antonio Téllez
    Antonio Téllez
    Antonio Téllez Solá was a Spanish anarchist, journalist and historian.He fought on the Republican side against Francisco Franco in the Spanish Civil War. At the war's end in 1939, he went into exile in France...

    , The Anarchist Resistance to Franco ISBN 1-873605-65-X


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