Spain: A Past that Must not Fade into Oblivion An open letter to the Spanish Communist Party by Francisco Martínez López aka ‘El Quico’ (Translated by Paul Sharkey)

 Spanish Revolution/Civil War  Comments Off on Spain: A Past that Must not Fade into Oblivion An open letter to the Spanish Communist Party by Francisco Martínez López aka ‘El Quico’ (Translated by Paul Sharkey)
Sep 212016
 
Francisco Martínez, 'Quico'.

Francisco Martínez, ‘Quico’.

In an open letter to his party, the Spanish communist militant Francisco Martínez López aka ‘El Quico’ challenges the leaders of the Spanish Communist Party (PCE) over the violent purges carried out during the years of anti-Franco guerrilla warfare.

In particular he insists upon the rehabilitation of those who were the victims of the summary executions ordered by the party leadership.

The Open Letter published below was first published in Spanish on the diario.es website. It deserves a brief review of history by way of a preamble.

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BARRICADES IN BARCELONA. The CNT from the victory of July 1936 to the necessary defeat of May 1937 Agustín Guillamón. eBook £1.50/€2.00 (see eBookshelf)

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Aug 202016
 

BarricadesBarcelonasmallBARRICADES IN BARCELONA. The CNT from the victory of July 1936 to the necessary defeat of May 1937 eBook £1.50/€2.00 (see eBookshelf)  Also available from Kobo  and Kindle

BARRICADES IN BARCELONA focuses on Barcelona in 1936-1937; it provides an account of the street battles and victory of July 1936, examines the defence and neighborhood committees that defeated the uprising in the city, and addresses the arbitrary decision of the CNT-FAI superior committees to collaborate with counterrevolutionary parties and social groups to preserve anti-fascist unity at any price, and how this decision culminated, in May 1937, in the defeat of the revolution. It also focuses on the emerging discontent among the anarchosyndicalist rank and file and the role of The Friends of Durruti Group in crystallizing opposition to official CNT policies.

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THE COUNCIL OF ARAGÓN (from Building Utopia by Stuart Christie)

 Anarchism in Aragón, Spanish Revolution/Civil War  Comments Off on THE COUNCIL OF ARAGÓN (from Building Utopia by Stuart Christie)
Aug 142016
 

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To protect the hard won land of the rural communities and the new society the people of liberated Aragón were building, the regional committee of the CNT, acting in concert with Durruti and his column, organised by an assembly of militia, village, and trade union representatives from Rioja and Navarre which was held in Bujaraloz on 6 October 1936. Francisco Muñoz, the regional secretary of the Aragónese CNT outlined proposals for the formation of a special regional committee which would ensure that the Aragonese region was ready and able ‘to organise itself in this revolutionary hour and re-establish its personality among the other Iberian peoples, in preparation for the great federation of the future.

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More on the last days of the Spanish Republic — A Mission of No Importance (Translated by Paul Sharkey)

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Jul 312016
 

Extracts from Juan López Sánchez’s1 Una misión sin importancia (written in September 1939. Published Madrid 1972). The mission was to meet with the exiled MLE leadership in Paris to discuss salvaging the best possible outcome to the war, inform them of the creation of the Madrid-based Casadist National Defence Council,  and organising resistance to post-war Francoism. The author, Juan López Sánchez (16 January 1900 – 1972) was a Spanish construction worker and, as a signatory of Angel Pestaña’s anti-FAI ‘Manifesto of the Thirty’, an anarchist-hostile member of the Confederación Nacional del Trabajo. From November 1936 he was the collaborationist CNT National Committee’s appointee as Minister of Commerce under Largo Caballero. By February/March 1939 he was part of Lt. Colonel Segismundo Casado’s National Defence Council which ousted the pro-Stalinist premier Dr Juan Negrin; López was also secretary-general of the highly questionable and self-appointed National Committee of the Spanish Libertarian Movement (MLE). He returned to Spain from Mexico in 1966 and later joined the Falangist trade union organisation, the Sindicato Vertical.

Albacete — January-February 1939

Juan López Sánchez

Juan López Sánchez

“Allow me to briefly introduce my comrades.  Val is Eduardo Val [Bescós 1908-1992. Close friend of Cipriano Mera and a pivotal player in countering the military coup in Madrid in July 1936], the then secretary of the Defence Section of the Regional Committee of the CNT of the Centre. He is a comrade associated with two “hardlies” that mean a lot: he hardly ever speaks; he hardly ever writes. His name has popped up out of anonymity during the war, gaining a position of importance in the Castilian libertarian organization. The fact that he says little and writes less has not stopped him from acquiring a sound reputation in the Republic’s military circles for his performance as Defence Secretary. That was a position of some importance in the recent conflict, for in war-time the CNT’s Defence Sections have been equally as important as the National Defence Ministry. But Val hardy speaks and hardly writes. And there is about him another “hardly” no less important than the other two: he hardly dresses. This is the man who donned his mono the day the war started and did not take it off until he came ashore in the English port of Newhaven where he wound up as one of the refugees who left from the port of Gandia, by then a member of the National Defence Council. During the war he had no time to eat, to shave, to wash, much less bother about his apparel. My first dealings with him were on that occasion, but from hearsay I knew the prestige he enjoyed in the Centre Region. (There is a mistake in the above that the reader will correct. He removed his mono, not in Newhaven, as he had no clothing there into which to change. That action would take place in London, where he set up home and where he is living at the time of the writing of these memoirs).

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ENTRE EL SOL Y LA TORMENTA. Revolución, Guerra y Exilio de una Mujer Libre Sara Berenguer. eBook £1.50/€2.00 (see eBookshelf)

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Jul 292016
 
SaraBerenguer

Sara Berenguer Lahosa (Barcelona 1919 — Montady, France, 2010)

ENTRE EL SOL Y LA TORMENTA. Revolución, Guerra y Exilio de una Mujer Libre, Sara Berenguer Lahosa.

eBook £1.50/€2.00 (see eBookshelf)  Also available from Kobo  and Kindle  LOOK INSIDE 

El testimonio de una vida consagrada a pelear por la libertad, entre el sol y la tormenta es, a la vez, un documento excepcional que nos permite conocer mejor uno de los episodios más extraordinarios de la guerra civil española: la lucha de las mujeres libertarias. En aquellos momentos decisivos de la historia europea, estas mujeres salieron a la calle junto a sus compañeros para defender la República y la revolución social. Acabada la guerra, muchas de ellas continuaron trabajando por sus ideas en el exilio.

Sara Berenguer Lahosa nació en 1919, en la barcelonesa barriada de Poble Sec. Hija de obreros, cuando estalla la guerra civil, ocupará diversos cargos: comité revolucionario (CNT-FAI) del barrio de Les Corts y Comité Regional de Catalunya de las industrias de la edificación, madera y decoración (CNT-AIT). Actividades que alternó con su colaboración de maestra en el Ateneo Cultural de Les Corts y en las Juventudes Libertarias.

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The enigmatic Juan Negrín y López. Stalin’s ‘Golden Boy’, visionary, crook, or man of straw?

 Spanish anarchism, Spanish Revolution/Civil War  Comments Off on The enigmatic Juan Negrín y López. Stalin’s ‘Golden Boy’, visionary, crook, or man of straw?
Jul 182016
 
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Juan Negrín y López (1892 – 1956)

At this eightieth anniversary of the Spanish Revolution that thwarted, initially at least, the fascist coup of 18 July 1936, it is worthwhile focusing on the character of one of the key players responsible for the suppression of that revolution and the subsequent defeat of the Republic: Juan Negrín López, the last president of the Second Spanish Republic.

Unfortunately, there is a vindicative trend in mainstream social-democrat historical circles1 to exalt Negrín’s ‘visionary’ right-wing, counter-revolutionary, ‘socialist’ premiership while calumnifying and denigrating the role of the Defence Committee of the CNT-FAI for the Central Region and the Madrid Defence Junta that on March 5 1939 ousted the compromised President Negrín: Eduardo Val Bescós, Manuel Salgado Moreira, and José García Pradas —supported by Cipriano Mera Sanz, commander of the IVth Army Corps, and others — to prevent a Communist Party coup and to try to avoid needless further bloodshed when the Republic was clearly defeated.

Dr Juan Negrín López (1892–1956), a middle-class physician and Spanish Socialist Party (PSOE) member from 1929, was appointed finance minister (proposed by Indalecio Prieto without any experience in setting fiscal policy) in the Republican government headed by Francisco Largo Caballero in September 1936. In this role he quickly set about building up the strength of the carabineros (armed, highly mobile customs guards) to around 20,000 men, primarily to retake control of the French border posts from CNT members who had seized them after the defeated military coup of 18 July. The following month, in October 1936, he transferred 510 tonnes of Spain’s gold reserves — 72.7 per cent of the total! — to the Soviet Union in return for Stalin’s promise of arms and other war materials to continue the war against the fascists.

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THE SPANISH LABYRINTH An Account of the Social and Political Background of the Civil War Gerald Brenan eBook £1.50/€2.00 (see eBookshelf)

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Jul 012016
 

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Written during the Spanish Civil War, published in 1943, revised in 1950 and republished in paperback in1960, The Spanish Labyrinth assesses the social and political background of the war, not the war itself. Brenan a middle-class, liberal, Anglo-Irish expatriate who lived in Spain from 1919 until 1936, returning in 1953 — wrote comprehensively about the political and religious divisions in Spain from the 16th to the 20th centuries: the church, the tensions with Liberalism, the ‘patria chica’ and the main autonomous regions, Carlism, industrialisation, the agrarian question, communal life, the Republic, the Constituent Cortes, class struggle, etc. — not forgetting the important role of anarchism and anarcho-syndicalism in Spanish politics. And although his attitude to the Spanish anarchist–anarcho-syndicalist movement and working class in general is patronising and condescending, it is to an extent understandable given his middle-class upbringing, prejudices and friendship circles.

Brenan swallowed, uncritically, contemporary hysterical, calumnious and propagandistic accounts of ‘irresponsible’, ‘ruthless’ and ‘typical’ acts of mass terrorism allegedly ‘carried out by the Durruti column in Aragón, and by the militia in Madrid on their way to the front’. Describing them as ‘the counterpart of the September Massacres of 1792’, he goes on to compare Durruti to the fanatical ultra-Catholic Carlist general Ramón Cabrera, and refers to the FAI (Iberian Anarchist Federation) as a ‘secret society’, which it most definitely was not (see my We, the Anarchists. A Study of the Iberian Anarchist Federation (FAI) 1927—1937). He also states as fact (and without adducing any evidence) that the advent of the FAI brought with it an increasingly noticeable trend in Spanish anarchism: ‘the inclusion within its ranks of professional criminals — thieves and gunmen who certainly would not have been accepted by any other working class party — together with idealists of the purest and most selfless kind.’

In spite of Brenan’s shortcomings as an historian and his ambivalence toward the Spanish anarchist movement, as a personal insight The Spanish Labyrinth remains a highly readable, comprehensive and valuable account of social and political life in Spain in the years leading up to the Civil War.

REVIEW OF THE SPANISH LABYRINTH BY MARIE LOUISE BERNERI, an editor of War Commentary and 
later Freedom, until her death at the age of 31 in 1949. She was the
 author of Journey Through Utopia (Routledge) and Neither East Nor
 West (Freedom Press). Her article was originally written for Now! in
 1944 as a review of the original edition of Brenan’s book:

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Jun 012016
 

NOW AVAILABLE! FACERÍAS  — Urban Guerrilla Warfare (1939-1957). The Libertarian Movement’s Struggle against Francoism in Spain and in Exile by Antonio Téllez Solà (ISBN 978-1-873976-49-4), 413pp (indexed with 16 pp of photographs) £15.95 (+£3.50 p+p UK) eBook £1.50/€2.00 (see eBookshelf)  Also available from Kobo  and Kindle

Anarchist urban guerrilla and member of the Iberian Federation of Libertarian Youth (FIJL) since 1936, José Lluis Facerías fought on the Aragón front during the Spanish Civil War, where he was taken prisoner and held until 1945. Following his release he rejoined the clandestine anarcho-syndicalist trade union, the CNT, and dedicated himself to the armed struggle against the Francoist dictatorship. From March 1946 until his death in a police ambush in 1957, Facerias was the driving force behind the anarchist defence groups operating in Barcelona.

BARCELONA, Friday, 30 August 1957, 10:45 am. In the deserted Sant Andreu district of Barcelona, a burst of automatic gunfire crackles and, as if pushed by some mighty hand, a man on the corner of the Paseo Verdún and the Calle del Doctor Pi i Molist slumps against a low wall. A pistol appears in his hand. His eyes scan the tree-lined boulevard leading off to his right towards the Santa Cruz mental clinic, but he sees no sign of life. Suddenly, he realises he has been betrayed. Unseen assailants are shooting at him from windows overlooking the junction of the Paseo Urrutia and Calle del Doctor Pi i Molist. The first burst of gunfire shatters the man’s ankle. Further rifle shots ring out and bullets ricochet around him . . .

Facerías : Urban Guerrilla Warfare (1939-1957); The Libertarian Movement’s Struggle Against Francoism in Spain and in Exile by Antonio Téllez Solà (reviewed in the Kate Sharpley Library Bulletin )

Facerías “was a steadfast champion of an essentially anarchist-inspired labour movement like the CNT of Spain; an organisation that might offer the proletariat guidance rather than content itself with being a tiny minority in opposition to or critical of reformist and authoritarian activity. He wanted an anarchism that might be at once the head and the arm of the proletariat rather than some sort of laboratory for doctrine or the monopoly of philosophers. … As far as he was concerned, moral solidarity, whilst undoubtedly necessary, had to be matched by material action; and if help was not forthcoming through lawful means, they should resort to unlawful means, to expropriation.” (p303, p305).

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THE SPANISH CIVIL WAR — Objectivity and Liberal Scholarship by NOAM CHOMSKY eBook £1.00/€1.50 (see eBookshelf)

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May 212016
 

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Anarchist Noam Chomsky’s 1969 clinical dissection of historian Gabriel Jackson’s The Spanish Republic and the Civil War:1931-1939 (in American Power and the New Mandarins) in which, to quote editor Barry Pateman in his Chomsky on Anarchism, “he links to the liberal ideology prevalent in America in the 1960s, an ideology that reflects ‘an antagonism to mass movements and to social change that escapes the control of privileged elites,’ which in Jackson’s work reveals itself through a regular use of negative language to describe the actions of the anarchists. Chomsky, using a rich array of historical texts, brought his points to a wide audience and influenced a new generation of researchers and militants, inspiring them to probe deeper and further. In his portrayal of Jackson’s work as representing contemporary American liberal thinking on Vietnam, Chomsky impressively linked past and present, making a shrewd and disturbing comment on liberalism in general. In the words of Peter Werbe: ‘As Chomsky amply and admirably demonstrates, when the major issues of an era are settled in blood, liberalism’s pretense to humane ends or means crumbles under the demands of an implacable state.’”

The original essay consists of three parts. Part I, not reproduced here, deals with the Vietnam War and the influence of intellectuals and ‘advisers’ in government and public and foreign policy. The present extract, Part II, focuses on the Spanish Civil War and how the so-called objective ‘conservative, ‘moderate’ and liberal’ intelligentsia use elite ideology and bias to manipulate and mould public opinion. Part III is Chomsky’s summation and conclusion.

REPORTER IN SPAIN by Frank Pitcairn (Claud Cockburn). A Stalinist reporter’s account of the SCW. eBook £1.50/€2.00 (see eBookshelf)

 Spanish Revolution/Civil War  Comments Off on REPORTER IN SPAIN by Frank Pitcairn (Claud Cockburn). A Stalinist reporter’s account of the SCW. eBook £1.50/€2.00 (see eBookshelf)
Apr 132016
 

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In 1936, Harry Pollitt, the then General Secretary of the Communist Party, asked CPGB member CLAUD COCKBURN (1904-1981) to cover the Spanish Civil War for the Daily Worker. In Spain, under the assumed name of Frank Pitcairn and endorsed by the CPGB, he joined the Quinto Regimiento/Fifth Regiment (formed by the Communist-led Antifascist Worker and Peasant Militias — Milicias Antifascistas Obreras y Campesinas — commanded by Enrique Castro Delgado) to report on the war as an ordinary soldier. The result, Reporter in Spain, was published in October 1936 by the Communist Party of Great Britain’s then preferred commercial publishing house, Lawrence & Wishart. In Homage to Catalonia (April 1938) George Orwell attacked Cockburn’s Daily Worker reports from Spain, accusing him of serving the ideological and geopolitical interests of the Soviet Union — particularly with regard to his partisan account of the Barcelona May Days of 1937, views that were reflected in his Soviet sponsored newsletter, ‘The Week’ (1933-1941).

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