For Franco and his defenders, Reds were Reds. The Cold War was an important backdrop in these polemics, with those critical of the Republic keen to paint it as a satellite state of the Soviet Union the USSR gave limited aid to the Republic during the period. Those favourable to the Republican cause were loath to acknowledge the existence of a robust revolutionary movement committed to the ultimate overthrow of the state and of capitalism.
There were some favourable interpretations of the anarchist role, such as George Orwell and Gerald Brenan, but these were few and far between, and in general anarchists saw it as their duty to defend themselves against the slanders of their erstwhile comrades in the Popular Front.
Spanish Civil War breaks out
Activists became the primary historians of the movement, and each sought to justify their own behaviour during the civil war period. In exile in France, he began work on a history of the revolution, which was published in 3 volumes between and When the CNT-FAI joined the Catalan regional government Generalitat in September , followed by the central Republican government in November , large parts of the anarchist movement were stunned. For the first time in history, anarchists were acting as an integral part of the very state apparatus they professed to destroy.
Those in favour of governmental collaboration defended their actions as the only way to defend Spain against fascism. Activist histories in the decades following defeat, then, tended to refight the battles of the civil war. The emergence of the New Left in the s witnessed an increased interest in anti-authoritarian left-wing politics and movements, sparked in part by disillusionment with orthodox communism following the Soviet invasion of Hungary in Many of these, such as the work of Walther Bernecker, attempted to take a more neutral stance towards the anarchists, and to investigate the collectives from both an economic and social perspective.
Some were more critical of anarchist involvement in the war than others, but the opening of archives within Spain — and the possibility of actually publishing works within the post-Franco state — allowed a critical space for studying anarchism to emerge. As mentioned above, in the last twenty or so years there has been a resurgence in the output and depth of anarchist studies.
This could be as a result of the end of the Cold War and the collapse of communism and communist parties throughout most of the world. More recently there has been a focus away from communist repression during the civil war to that of state reconstruction and its relationship to the anarchists.
This is something dealt with by Danny Evans in his new book, Revolution and the State: Anarchism in the Spanish Civil War, , in which he charts the opposition to state collaboration within the anarchist movement. Contrary to some collaborationist apologists, he argues that it was much more widespread than hitherto suggested, and highlights the lengths to which the top-level committees of the anarchist movement went to suppress dissent through bureaucratic channels and how close the anti-collaborationists came to changing overall policy, particularly in the FAI.
Casanova has been keen to undermine the idea of Spanish exceptionalism with regards to anarchism something echoed by Evans as well as Jim Yeoman, among others , pointing out the similarities between Spanish anarchism and other labour movements until the turn of the twentieth century. This was a theme of much earlier historiography, such as Brenan and George Woodcock, the latter of whom maintained somewhat tongue in cheek that the Mediterranean weather meant Spaniards were natural anarchists.
This complements the increased interest in the sociological base of anarchism, in line with wider Spanish historiographical trends on labour movements from the s. When the fascist-backed general Franco in July led the military coup against the elected Popular Front government, the Spanish working class answered back by taking over control of factories and land in central areas of the country. This response to the raising of the rich and the right put the question on who were to take control of society.
This was the beginning of the Spanish Civil War. Due to the revolutionary possibilities Spain became in a test for all political tendencies in the labour movement. The extreme left was unable to develop the revolutionary situation and the dual power between the workers and the state power. To fulfil their re-establishing of the state power and army of the Popular Front government, workers power was crushed; — a defeat that from turning point in the May Days onward made the civil war to a defensive fight against Franco and his international fascist backers.
This webliography is compiled from a revolutionary socialist angle on the Spanish Civil War. The materials are compiled from the Republican side, and should be covering almost all analysis of the labour movement.
The main focus is though on the possibilities for the Spanish revolution and on the politics and debates of the revolutionary left. The lessons of the Spanish revolution and civil war are important — even today. Not just for the debates and views of the civil war, but the attitudes and experiences, that demonstrates the idea of socialism and dual power in practice — and how to achieve it.
Suggestions for sites and articles are welcome. Gerd-Rainer Horn: A classic study revisited No.
Spanish Civil War breaks out - HISTORY
Reiner Tosstorff: Chronicles from the front No. The Spanish Civil War. Part Neil Faulkner explains why the workers were ultimately defeated. From A Discord of Trumpets , the U. When he arrived in Spain, he joined the Fifth Regiment so that he could report the war as an ordinary soldier. Vicente Navarro: A forgotten genocide : the case of Spain December 16, In many Spanish towns except, again, in Catalonia and the Basque countries there are still fascist monuments. Even left-wing municipal and regional governments are afraid to destroy them. And across Spain, there are frequent celebrations honoring the assassins.
Jorge Martin: Time to exorcise the ghost of Franco 18 July Seventy years after the Spanish Civil War. Interview with Andy Durgan Issue , Sommer , p.
Andy Durgan: Freedom fighters or Comintern army? In this account of his experiences with the POUM United Marxist Workers Party militia in Spain, he makes clear his commitment to both working class struggle and to socialism, and at the same time his steadfast opposition to Stalinism and its apologists. The answer must be found in the inadequacies of anarchist theory … Only this can begin to explain how the anarcho-syndicalists vacillated between petty bourgeois opportunism and wild ulta-left adventurism. Yet the Spanish anarchist movement failed the test that supposedly formed the heart of its program: the destruction of the state.
Barcelona a workers revolution Vol. Time to bury the dead: an interview with Ian Gibson April 1, Antonio Maestre: No beauty in defeat April 1, But for opponents of Spanish fascism, the brutal repression of popular culture and democracy was only beginning. George Orwell was there to bear witness. January 7, With video talk min. The POUM had a program for waging revolutionary war, but lacked the mass influence, allies and the leadership needed to win. He here argues, in a brilliant analysis of the role of Comintern strategy, that in fact the policies, which triumphed within the republican camp were a prime cause of its defeat.
Not surprisingly therefore, much of what he wrote during and after the Civil War concerned the errors of those who considered themselves revolutionary Marxists. Dedicated to the Memory of Sam Bornstein. Contents: Introduction p. Only contents online. Editorial perspectives: Spain, the legacy, the challenge. At times, they held power in their hands. Revolution and civil war Issue , July-August Workers had to decide how to respond. It was a pivotal moment for the politics of the s and there are important lessons for socialists today.
Judy Cox: The red brigades Issue , October Revolution and war in Spain in — a battle that could have been won Issue , 12 July Socialist Worker looks at how it could have won. Nin was murdered by Stalinists 70 years ago this month. Revolution in s Spain July 21, The Spanish Civil War August 18, The tragedy of Spanish Trotskyism Issue , 25 April