Durruti in the Spanish Revolution is essential reading for anyone wanting to know more about Durruti or the history of the Spanish anarchist movement. A chapter on the fate of the Durruti column and its members would have been good. Durruti in the Spanish Revolution will doubtless feed the political arguments about the nature of anarchism, and its successes and failures in Spain. This committed, but still critical, study can only improve such debates.
Durruti's revolutionary thought and action went hand in hand. His speech in Barcelona 15 September sums up the challenge thrown down by the anarchists: 'The Republican-Socialists need to understand this and so we'll say it very clearly: either the Republic resolves the peasants and industrial workers' problems or the people will do so on their own.
But can the Republic resolve those and other pressing problems? We don't want to deceive anyone and will reply firmly, so that the entire working class hears us: neither the Republic nor any political regime of the sort - with or without the Socialists - will ever resolve the workers' problems.
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A system based on private property and the authority of power cannot live without slaves. And if the workers want to be dignified, to live freely and control their own destinies, then they shouldn't wait for the government to give them their liberty. Economic and political freedom is not something given; it has to be taken. It depends on you, the workers listening to me, whether you'll continue being modern slaves or free men! You must decide! Trump is Not the Main Problem. May Day Un poco de historia. A Green New Deal vs. Revolutionary Ecosocialism.
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A number of these men were already members of the militias and were preparing themselves to leave for the front. This time the regional committee of the CNT, the groups of the FAI and the newspaper Solaridad Obrera were on the side of those who refused militarisation.
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In this a reasonable reaction of the bottom against the plans emanating from governmental spheres can be observed and this was a massive popular reaction. However, a compromise solution was to prevail under the aegis of the committee of militias and the council of defence: the youth went to barracks, but under the authority of the council of militias. It seemed that the most important thing had been conserved despite the concessions.
While the career soldiers of various levels would be utilised in the technical field, the command would be assumed by councils of worker-soldiers, composed of elected soldiers and delegates from the organisations and parties. We will describe what this council of defence amounted to, but we should note that the initial buzz of opposition arising from the mobilised youth had tremendous energy: during an immense rally which was held in Barcelona on the 10 th of August, the various orators of the CNT and FAI reaffirmed the importance that the people should not be disarmed under any pretext.
The general impression which emerges from this first period is an impression of ambiguity. The revolutionary values seemed to have been defended intransigently while at the same time concrete measures had been taken which went towards the abandonment of the radical line of social and political transformation.
Here is another example of this. Incontestably the creation of a committee of accord illustrates the politics of the leaders and is itself already a sign of an abandonment of real revolutionary politics. This would come to weigh heavily in the course of the months to come. In Madrid, at the start of September, the government of Giral was replaced by the government of Largo Caballero who bemoaned the non-participation of the CNT.
Two months later, on the 30 th of October, Largo Caballero revealed, in an interview with the Daily Express, reproduced in all the papers, the desire of the CNT to share the responsibilities of government.
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Certainly, the replacement of the ancient institutions by regional councils of defence, in a way that was called federalist was declared, but everything, including the representation of the organisations in the councils, was decided by the leaders of these organisations, and did not rise out of popular assemblies and their delegates. It was a real party power which was put in place. In fact, the leaders of the CNT wished to join the government but had to save face and quieten the worries of their militants found it difficult to accept the open abandonment of their sworn principles.
On the 30 th of September, a meeting of the national plenum of regional organisations of the CNT ratified participation, or rather according to its own wording, acceded to the insistent demand for the creation of a national council of defence. Thus the situation of dual power had passed. How were their leading committees able to get a mandate for such a fundamental change? Had the problems posed by the war and by the revolution really been truly addressed?
The documents of the epoch are silent. Nothing was treated in-depth; analysis had been replaced by speeches and declarations. If in the international anarchist movement, discussion was alive, even heated,  apparently in Spain there was resignation. In reality the situation was more complex than it appeared.
One must take account of two important objective factors: on one hand many militants were at the front, they were at war and political problems were not at the top of their lists since they were fighting in particularly difficult conditions and with armaments which were often worse than deficient. On the other hand many of the comrades in the rear were consciously advancing their affairs: the socialisations and collectivisations were going full steam ahead. The popular militias and the popular patrols appeared at least partially like the embryo of a real popular, anti-bourgeois power.
Both groups were to be surprised by the evolution of events; the ever harsher retaking of governmental power, the elimination of popular bodies or attempts at establishing dual power.
Nevertheless the forces opposed to the politics of the officer corp and struggles for the maintenance of the base of a workers power, could be observed. In the militias at the front resistance to militarisation remained alive and the advances of socialisation and collectivisation were to be maintained despite the decisions of the government. And then, on the purely political front, resistance nevertheless showed itself. Another weakness was the dispersion, the lack of cohesion, of co-ordination. To sum up, under the cover of the magic phrases, federalism and autonomy, the leaders hung on to power within the CNT and the FAI.
Up until then reasonable reactions were certainly seen but they were improvised and lacked political content. It was intended to denounce parasitism and the forces of repression, to demand the disarmament and dissolution of the civil guard, the sending of the armed troops in the service of the state to the front, the destruction of institutional files and archives and the seizure of funds and precious metals for the purchase of arms, etc.
We will soon see more reactions of this type.
Durruti in the Spanish revolution - Abel Paz
It is precisely from the moment that the CNT-FAI participated in the government, that the repression was given free reign. The central government left the threatened city of Madrid and retreated to Valencia. Madrid was then governed by a delegate junta of defence, of which the president, General Miaja, had as a first duty to replace the checkpoints and watch guards of the militias with security units and assault guards. Clashes occurred, CNT activists were found assassinated.
The repression also took an insidious track.