Introduction by Les Evens (May 11 1972) to The Spanish Revolution (1931-39) By Leon Trotsky


10/04/2013 by socialistfight

The publication of a comprehensive selection of Leon Trotsky’s writings on the Spanish revolution of 1931-39 is a timely and much-needed addition to the literature of revolutionary Marx- ism. Many of these letters, resolutions, and pamphlets have long been out of print or appear here in English for the first time. Their interest is far from purely historical. In many respects Spain was a touchstone for the strategy and tactics of both revolution and counterrevolution for our century, and the experiences of that bitter struggle have lost little of their value in the intervening decades.

It is noteworthy that in the last few years we have seen a revival of the central tactic employed by the Communist and Socialist parties in the Spanish events: the Popular Front coalition between working class parties and the liberal bourgeoisie. Those who are disposed to view the Popular Unity government of Salvador Allende Gossens in Chile or the United Front regime of Sirimavo Bandaranaike in Ceylon, both of which were elected to office in 1970, as instruments for the construction a socialist society would do well to review the record of the popular Front in Spain. The importance of the Spanish revolution stems not so much from its uniqueness as from its universality. Because Spain stood midway between underdevelopment and advanced capitalism it combined many features of the class struggle in both types of societies. There is much in the history of the Spanish peasantry that is reminiscent of Latin America. At the same time the core of the revolutionary movement in Spain was proletarian, and the revolution and civil war encompassed many of the strategic problems of the workers’ movement in Western Europe and the United States. For example, the multiplicity of major cities in Spain gave the civil war the character of a protracted struggle for control of the urban industrial centres. This struggle was fought out in positional rather than mobile or guerrilla warfare; the outcome was not to be decided by the capture of one or two major cities as might be the case in a smaller, less developed country.

The general tendency of Western historians has been to examine the Spanish conflict from a purely military and technical standpoint, weighing the quantities of arms, “volunteers,” and air support provided to Franco by his German and Italian backers and comparing them to- the more meagre material resources mustered by the republic. This is an inadequate explanation for the ultimate triumph of the Falangist forces. As the Vietnam conflict has shown, even massive technical superiority can be stalemated or defeated by a revolutionary mobilization of the masses.

Social revolution – including civil war – is not merely a clash between ideologies or political personalities but a confrontation between social classes over the question of which class shall rule. In the epoch of modern capitalism there are only two serious contenders for power: those who already rule – the financial, manufacturing, and landholding bourgeoisie-and their principal antagonist, the industrial working class. The other sectors of society, the middle class of the cities-and the peasantry in the underdeveloped countries – in the last analysis adopt the leadership and the program of one or the other of the major combatants.

While technical factors undoubtedly play an important role in such a class battle, they are not decisive. If they were, socialist revolution would be impossible, because the old ruling class always enters the arena against the working class with the army, police, and the other organized repressive forces of society at its command. Yet in the twentieth century, a whole series of countries have nevertheless succeeded in breaking the power of capitalism and establishing workers’ states, beginning with the Russian Revolution of October 1917 and extending up to the Cuban Revolution of the late 1950s.

The ultimate determinant of victory or defeat for the working class is the program, organizational methods, and calibre of the leadership of the insurgent revolutionary movement. This finds its highest and most conscious expression in the construction of a revolutionary political party on the Leninist model. Trotsky, as a central leader of the successful October Revolution in Russia, understood this question very well. His writings on Spain are permeated with his appreciation of the urgent need to construct a mass revolutionary party of the Spanish working class and his contemptuous rejection of all the ersatz substitutes that claimed to be such a party. Indeed, the urgent need for a revolutionary party is the question above all others that occupied the attention of the exiled Russian revolutionist in his writings in the present book. In the first half of the book, before the civil war, this theme is expressed in the attempts to influence the development of the newly founded Spanish section of the International Left Opposition; in his later writings, after the civil war had begun, it leads him to try to educate the whole Fourth- Internationalist movement to reject both the sectarians in its ranks who were opposed to supporting the loyalist military struggle against Franco in the civil war and the centrists, who wavered on the question of Popular Frontism.

In assessing the causes of the failure of the Spanish revolution it is important to weigh not only the objective obstacles, but also the organizational and theoretical shortcomings of the revolutionists on the scene, the subjective factor. This Trotsky does unsparingly, though with great fairness and perception. Even a cursory reading of his correspondence with the leaders of the Spanish Left Opposition is adequate to dispel the myth fostered by the apologists for Stalinism that Trotsky “failed to understand” the Leninist conception of party building or to apply it to concrete situations.

Spain was a testing ground for revolutionary programs and tendencies that have had their counterpart in countries throughout world in this century. This is another measure in which the Spanish experience has a general application that transcends the particular time and place in which it unfolded. All the major tendencies of working class radicalism were well represented on the Spanish scene. These ranged from anarchism to reformist Social Democracy, the pro-Moscow Communist Party adhering to the doctrine of Stalinism, centrism (groups that wavered between revolutionary action and reformism), and revolutionary socialism.

Each of these tendencies in its own way was able to influence the outcome. In the process each had as chance to show what its program and proposals were worth in a real revolutionary situation. The essential ingredient for victory, not only for socialism but also for the successful prosecution of the war against fascist rebellion, was missing. No mass revolutionary party was built in time.

The documents collected in this volume do not constitute a history of the Spanish revolution. They are the correspondence and polemics of an active revolutionist seeking to affect the events rather than to record them. In large part they take the form of concrete criticisms and tactical proposals directed to Trotsky’s own followers in Spain and to those forces that at least verbally declared. themselves in favour of a socialist revolution. To a lesser extent they include biting critiques of the programs of the nonrevolutionary organizations of the- left. For the benefit of readers unfamiliar with the Spanish left of the 1930s it will be useful to briefly trace the origins of the revolutionary crisis that erupted in 1931 and the relationship of forces among the workers’ organizations at that time

Social roots of the Spanish revolution
Spain entered the twentieth century as one of the most back- ward countries of Europe, saddled by a decaying ruling class and an absolute monarchy that rested on the twin pillars of the Catholic Church and the aristocratic officers” corps of the army. Despite the semi feudal appearance of the state superstructure, the core of the ruling class was capitalist. It was composed of an uneasy coalition between the owners of the vast landed estates of Castilian Spain (who produced for ex- port to the capitalist world market) and the industrialists of Catalonia and the Basque provinces.

Spain had historically been torn between the centralizers of Castile who demanded a strong unitary government and the centrifugal demands of the Basques and Catalans for regional autonomy or independence, in keeping with their separate languages and cultures.

Spain was and remains predominantly an agricultural country. In 1936, 70 percent of its population of twenty four million lived on the land. This rural populace, while brutally oppressed, were not a peasant class in the main. Gerald Brenan estimates [1] that three quarters of the population was made up of landless agricultural labourers, that is, a rural semi proletariat. Brenan provides some picture of the conditions of life for these people:

In 1930 they were earning on-an average from 3 to 3.5 pesetas [1 peseta equalled US 12.50;] for an eight-hour day during four or five months of the year. In Summer, – under the terrible heat of the Andalusian sun – they earned from 4 to 6 pesetas for a twelve—hour day. During the rest of the year… during [up to] six months they were unemployed …. Except at harvest time when they were- given beans, the only dish was gazpacho, a soup of oil, vinegar and water with bread floating on top. They took it hot for breakfast, cold for lunch, hot again at night… Great numbers of these families did not have any furniture except a cooking pot and ate their meals like animals on the ground.

Spain’s rulers prospered during World War I on the basis of their exports of agricultural products to the belligerent nations of Europe. The foreign exchange accumulated in this trade served to finance a rapid development of industry, particularly Barcelona, the capital of Catalonia, and in Santander and Bilbao on the northern Basque coast. This led in turn to the growth of the Spanish proletariat in the separatist regions and the expansion of a mass radical labor movement.

The foreign markets collapsed at the end of the war, deepening the radicalization. The ruling class then turned to its traditional guardian, the military. In 1923 General Miguel Primo de Rivera established a military dictatorship that was to cover the last period of relative stability for the Spanish ruling class until the crushing of the republic in 1939. Primo de Rivera was able to hold onto power for eight years; but the Great Depression that broke out in 1929 put an end for the time being to the effort by Spanish absolutism to crush all social protest under the heel of the armed forces. In 1930 the dedicator was forced to resign and shortly afterward King Alfonso XIII announced municipal elections that were held in April 1931. The vote went heavily against the monarchism and clerical parties. Unprepared for this outcome, the king went into exile; long silent and servile Spanish liberalism at last found its voice.

The republic of 1931 rested on a coalition of liberal bourgeois parties and the Spanish Socialist Party of Francisco Largo Caballero and Indalecio Prieto (both of whom were in the first cabinet). This bloc of parties from two antagonistic social classes was the forerunner of the Popular Front government that was to lead the republic from the elections of February 1936 through the civil war.

The bourgeois parties, whose most prominent leader was Manuel Azaña, were of course opposed to socialism. Their partnership with the Socialist Party, and later with the Communist Party, was based on the defence of democratic civil liberties and limited social reform. They had neither the will nor the means to break the power of the landed aristocracy or the industrial barons. Their reformist demagogy however raised hopes among the masses of city workers and agricultural labourers that they could not fulfil.

The loosening of the chains of absolutism under the republic had as its chief result a revolutionary upsurge of the Spanish masses. From 1931 the question of social revolution was posed, much to the horror of the republican liberals. Trotsky was among the first to see that this regime was a feeble creature, Committed to the preservation of capitalist property relations but forced to balance precariously between the restless workers and the more resolute defenders of bourgeois reaction. Even before the republic was proclaimed, Trotsky declared of the republican bourgeoisie in his article “The Revolution in Spain” that “their fear of the masses is greater than their hostility to the monarchy.” He was to dub  Azaña “the Spanish Kerensky,” an incidental figure to be swept aside by the real leaders of Spanish capitalism when they were prepared to deal a death blow to the insurgent mass movement that threatened their rule. The irony and tragedy of the Spanish revolution was that  Azaña was kept in office not by the bourgeoisie, whose interests he valiantly attempted to serve to the end, but by the working class parties that sacrificed the possibility of socialist revolution in order to preserve the empty respectability conferred on the republic by  Azaña’s liberalism.

The organisations of the Spanish left
For a number of specific historical reasons the largest tendency among the Spanish workers was anarchism, or more correctly anarcho-syndicalism—anarchism expressed not through a political organization but through the trade unions. It was the followers of Bakunin and not of Marx who first arrived in Spain, in 1868, as the representatives of the International Workingmen’s Association, the First International. Anarchism established itself among the landless agricultural labourers of Andalusia, who were spread over a large geographical area and not concentrated and disciplined in large factories like the industrial workers of the more advanced countries

The second major centre of anarchism was among the proletariat and anti-authoritarian workers of Catalonia, in the factories of Barcelona. Here the general mood transmitted by the radical petty bourgeois as part of their struggle against the centralism of Madrid was one of opposition to all authority. This doctrine of anarchism coincided with these libertarian sentiments not only in its revolutionary opposition to the injustice of bourgeois rule, but also, in a negative way, in the opposition to the self-disciplined organization of the workers to fight for their emancipation. The Anarchists stressed spontaneous struggle by the workers, eschewed all political action and organisation as a bourgeois trap, and encouraged acts of individual terrorism against the representatives of the government.

A central tenet of anarchist belief, which was to immobilize and finally destroy Spanish anarchism as a social movement, was opposition to any and all forms of state government. Insofar as this opposition was directed at the bourgeois state it produced militant mass action. But in the course of the revolutionary crisis, the working class, if it is to be victorious, must pass beyond local organization to the creation of its own national state structure. If it fails to take this step the representatives of some other class will inevitably do so.

The principal Anarchist organization was the Confederacion Nacional del Trabajo (CNT—National Confederation of Labor). Founded in 1911, the CNT claimed 1.5 million members in 1931. It was in turn dominated by the illegal Anarchist centre, the Federacion Anarquista Ibérica (FAI—Iberian Anarchist Federation), which was believed to have about 30,000 members in 1936 [2] The leadership of the CNT-FAI was divided into a right and left wing, led respectively by José Garcia Oliver and Buenaventura Durruti. As the revolutionary crisis deepened in the 1930s, culminating in the period of open military operations, this division was to play an important role in the destruction of Spanish anarchism and with it the most militant sector of the Spanish working class. Beneath the cover of the traditional Anarchist abstention from elections and politics, Garcia Oliver and the majority of the Anarchist leadership had long been moving in the direction of pure-and-simple reformist trade unionism. This leadership, unwilling to call the workers into battle to form a revolutionary government, ultimately abandoned its own cardinal principle of opposition to all governments by joining the bourgeois liberals in the Popular Front government. The key test of anarchism as a revolutionary theory was that in a real revolution its own leaders deserted it as a guide to action because it didn’t work. Trotsky compared this doctrine to a raincoat full o holes: it was useless precisely when it rained.

The Spanish Socialist Party.
The Spanish SP was an un usually left variety of Social Democracy. It formally decide not to join the Communist International only in 1921, and then only by a narrow majority. It too was divided into a right wing, led by Prieto, and a left wing, led by Largo Caballero. Though smaller than the Anarchists, the SP controlled an important union, the Union General de Trabajadores (UGT-General Workers’ Union), which claimed several hundred thousand members at the beginning of the 1930s. Its main centres were among the industrial workers of Madrid and Bilbao and among the miners of Asturias.

The Prieto forces were openly reformist and resembled the conservative Social Democratic parties of France and Germany. The Caballero wing was more contradictory. In words, especially after 1934, it called for arming the masses and tor the dictatorship of the proletariat. In practice it conciliated with liberalism and participated in the class-collaborationist coalition governments of 1931 and 1936. On the other hand, until the beginning of 1936, when it was merged with the Stalinist youth, the Socialist Party youth movement was evolving rapidly the direction of revolutionary Marxism. One of Trotsky’s bitterest complaints against those who were identified as his followers in Spain was that they failed to recognize this revolutionary current among the Socialist youth and find a way to reach them in common action.

The Communist Party. [3]
Initially the smallest of the major, working class parties, the Spanish CP was to rise in the course of the civil war to virtual dominance of the republican government Dolores Ibarruri (“La Pasionaria”), the party’s most prominent leader, in a speech in Moscow in May 1934 estimated that with the inauguration of the republic in 1931 the CP could claim only 800 members. [4] Hugh Thomas put the membership at the beginning of 1936 at 10, 000. [5]

The party, lacking roots in the Spanish working class and with few leaders of independent stature, served primarily as an instrument of Comintern policy and reflected the twists and turns of line initiated by Stalin in the turbulent decade of the 1930s. Stalin did not leave the application of Comintern decision in Spain solely to the discretion of his local supporters in any case, but from 1933 onwards supplied a growing coterie of special “instructors.” The most notorious of these were the Italians Vittorio Codovilla and Vittorio Vidali (Carlos Contresa) and the Hungarian Erno Gerö. [6]

The Communist Party did not support the republican government of 1931. The Comintern was still in its ultraleft “third period,” which lasted from 1928 to 1934. All of its affiliated parties during this time opposed collaboration with, or participation in, bourgeois governments, in keeping with the traditional position of the Marxist movement. Under Stalin’s tutelage, however, they also rejected common action with other working class parties. This policy had its most disastrous result in Germany, where the Communist Party denounced the Social Democrats as “social fascists,” refusing to seek a common front against the rise of Hitler. The Nazis’ rise to power and the subsequent annihilation of the German CP prompted a belated shift by the Kremlin after 1933. But instead of returning to the Leninist tactic of a working class united front, the Stalinists moved to support of “democratic” capitalist governments under the slogan of the “Anti-Fascist People’s Front.”

The Comintern’s right turn was formalized at its Seventh World Congress in 1935. In the Spanish elections of February 1936 the Communist Party would endorse the republican-SP coalition and instruct its deputies in the Cortes (parliament) to vote with the government.

Trotsky’s attitude toward the Spanish Communist Party was conditioned by this evolution of the Comintern. Before Hitler’s seizure of power, his perspective was to work to reform the parties under Stalin’s influence. Trotsky and his followers in the International Left Opposition regarded themselves as an expelled faction of the Comintern and not as a fully separate party. While the ILO – and its Spanish adherents—maintained their own organization and press, they directed their appeals and criticisms to the rank and file of the Communist parties.

This is expressed clearly in Trotsky’s writings in this collection up to and including the selection entitled “Problems of the Spanish Left Opposition,” which is dated December 1932. To describe the Comintern’s political position during this time Trotsky used the term “bureaucratic centrism,” which signified inconsistency and left open the possibility of a return to a genuinely revolutionary policy by the Communist parties.

After the defeat in Germany, Trotsky and his followers abandoned any hope of reconstructing the Communist International. The German CP had proven incapable of mounting any serious opposition to fascism, which Trotsky saw as a symptom of Its incurable degeneration. At this time he discarded the characterization of Comintern as bureaucratic centrist. He no longer attributed its policies to criminal mistakes, but rather to the deliberate counterrevolutionary intention of the Stalinist bureaucracy. In its search for “peaceful coexistence” with the imperialist countries, it used the workers’ movements as pawns to be sacrificed to its own diplomatic needs. Trotsky no longer considered it realistic to expect that the Stalinist bureaucracy could be reformed, and boldly proposed the formation of an new international and new parties. Thenceforth, this was the main task that dominated Trotsky’s thoughts in regard to Spain.

The Spanish Left Opposition and the POUM
A number of prominent working class leaders rallied to the banner of the Left Opposition in Spain. These included Andres Nin, who had been the secretary of the CNT and later of the Comintern’s Red International of Labor Unions; and Juan Andrade, who as an SP youth leader at the end of World War I had been instrumental in winning a major section of the Socialist youth to communism. They were talented revolutionists who won to the Spanish Bolshevik-Leninists, as the Opposition was then ‘called, some of the best forces in the old Communist Party. Unfortunately, despite their great superiority to those who prostrated themselves before Stalin, none of the Spanish Oppositionists of this period were able to rise to the needs of the impending revolution.

Organizationally the Spanish Left Opposition began to make headway after 1931. By the end of 1932 it had become one of the larger sections of the International Left Opposition; and it continued to grow thereafter. These advances, however, were one-sided, made at the expense of political clarity. A great part of this book is comprised of Trotsky’s proposals and letters to Nin and others on the tactics and strategy of the Spanish Left Opposition. While differences arose over many subsidiary points, the essence of Trotsky’s criticism of Nin’s leadership was that it was conciliatory – Nin tended to adapt to the political programs of nonrevolutionary organizations in order to secure secondary tactical advantages. This was particularly true of Nin’s relations with the Catalan Federation of Joaquin Maurín, and to a lesser extent with the Anarchists. Secondly, but stemming from the same desire for accommodation and avoidance of conflict on the left, was a marked tendency on Nin’s part to abstain from steps that would throw the Spanish Trotskyists into common mass organisation with the Socialist and Anarchist workers and youth, where they would have an opportunity to win them for revolutionary politics.

Trotsky also had strong misgivings about the Spanish leadership’s party-building methods. For him, the key to training cadres was internationalism – not only in the programmatic but also the organizational sense. The International Left Opposition was a young organization, still in the process of learning how to function under difficult conditions, how to shake off accidental and alien elements, how to create an authoritative collective leadership. Trotsky expected the Spanish leaders to participate actively in the internal life, debates, and struggles of the International Left Opposition; he insisted that this was their duty not only to the ILO but to the Spanish Oppositionists as well. But Nin – perhaps because of his unhappy experiences with the Stalinized Comintern, perhaps because of his inability to rise above the negative aspects of the Spanish radical tradition— displayed a provincial disinterest in the daily life of the ILO, except when its discussions or decisions concerned Spain. He was too preoccupied with Spanish problems to have much time for the ILO, and he did not care to submit the policies of the Spanish leadership to the scrutiny and criticism of some remote committee, which he felt could obviously not understand the events and know what had to be done in t Spain as well as Nin, Andrade, and others who were on the spot. So he remained aloof from the internal problems of the ILO, or participated in them capriciously or subjectively.

Worst of all, from Trotsky’s point of view, was the Spanish leadership’s failure to involve the ranks of their organization in the discussions of the ILO. How else could they benefit from the lessons of those discussions, and become a self-reliant and well-informed Marxist membership? How else would they t learn to resist the pressures of their political environment?

Trotsky recognized that the ascendance of the republican regime in April 1931 presaged a revolutionary crisis that would enter its decisive phase in a few years’ time. The key task for the Spanish Oppositionists, he said, was to find a, road to the mass of radicalized workers in the CNT and draw them away from their Anarchist misleaders. The organizational form he proposed to accomplish this was the united front between left parties, which must be based on the freedom of the revolutionists to criticize the programs of the other participants; add above all the formation of independent organs of workers’ political power, juntas (councils). Trotsky saw these two steps as inseparable. He recognized that a united front agreement between party leaderships without the corrective of mass non-party workers’ councils would be heavily weighted toward the bureaucratic apparatuses of the reformist parties.

Before 1934 Trotsky visualized the road to the Anarchist workers as passing through the official Communist Party. He urged Nin and the Spanish Trotskyists to use their influence to orient the members of the CP in this direction. After 1934, the deepening radicalization of the 1930s internationally began to bypass the Communist parties and seek a new channel in the resurrection of viable left wings in the old Social Democracy. This prompted Trotsky to propose the temporary entry of the sections of the International Left Opposition into the Socialist parties in order to forge links with this new levy of young revolutionary workers and students. This policy was known as the “French turn,” because it was first applied by the French Trotskyists who entered the Socialist Party of France in 1934.

Nin and Andrade resisted the orientation toward the Communist party in the early 1930s and rejected the “French turn,” and for symmetrical reasons. They were impressed with the self-sufficiency of their own organization, overestimated the importance of its numerical gains, and were nervous at the prospect of mixing too intimately in the hostile milieu of other parties. They therefore failed to see the implications of the designation of the International Left Opposition adopted for itself as a faction of the Communist International. They preferred to ignore the numerically smaller and weaker Spanish CP and proceed directly to the construction of a new party. Trotsky warned them not to be deceived by appearances: the immense power of the Soviet Union stood behind the ineffectual Spanish Communist Party and to ignore this party could lead to disaster at a later stage.

Nin took a similar position toward the left-moving Socialist youth in 1934. A fusion with the SP youth would have jeopardised the organizational independence, or more accurately the comfortable routine, of the Opposition. To appreciate the opportunity that was thus missed, it is necessary to recall that in 1934 Largo Caballero publicly attacked the Communist International as “reformist” and declared himself sympathetic to the idea of building a fourth international. The Madrid Socialist youth newspaper Renovación appealed to the Trotskyists by name to join the SP and help to make it a Bolshevik party. Nin and Andrea did not accept the invitation. This paved the way for the Stalinist merger with the SP youth at the beginning of 1936, providing the CP with its first mass base in Spain.

Even more significant were Nin’s relations with the Maurín group in Catalonia. Maurín, like Nin and Andrade, had been a prominent leader of the Communist Party and was expelled at the end of the 1920 for his opposition to Stalinism. He took with him virtually the entire membership of the Catalan section of the party, the Catalan-Balearic Communist Federation, renamed in 1931 the Workers and Peasants Bloc (Bloque Obrerot y Campesino). This group had broken with Stalin more over the ultra leftism of the third period line than over fundamental political disagreements. Maurín was aligned internationally with the right wing rather than the left wing in the Soviet party, and the Comintern. His closest sympathies were with the Bukharin tendency in the Soviet Union.

On June 12, 1931, Trotsky wrote a public letter of scathing: criticism of the Workers and Peasants Bloc. The very name he said, suggested a nonproletarian party. Communism was not mentioned in the program, which contained a call for democratic revolution but not socialist revolution. The Bloc reprimanded the bourgeois republican government for its “mistakes,” leaving unclear how it characterized the class basis of` the government. It refrained from criticizing the domestic policy of Stalinism inside the Soviet Union. Moreover, Maurín was content to prosper in his own bailiwick and had no perspective of extending his Catalan organization to the level of a national party.

Nin was drawn to Maurín by long-standing ties of personal friendship. It In dismaying even after so many years to read the Trotsky Nin correspondence |included here as an appendix} and to see to what extent Nin’s political course was dictated by such subjective considerations, a quality fatal in a revolutionary politician. In opposition to Trotsky’s insistent advice, Nin engineered a fusion between the Spanish Trotskyists and the Maurín group, essentially on the basis of Maurín’s and not Trotsky’s program. This was consummated in September 1935 with the formation of the POUM.

The POUM has long been identified by the Stalinists and by many bourgeois historians as a “Trotskyist” party. It did not regard itself as such and Trotsky and the Fourth International certainly did not accept this characterization. Trotsky’s final judgment of the POUM was that in verbally proposing revolutionary solutions to the Spanish crisis while hesitating to take the decisive action to put them into practice, it acted as they principal roadblock to the formation of a mass revolutionary, socialist party in Spain.

From the Republic of 1931 to the Popular Front
Events built steadily toward the inevitable civil war from the inauguration of the republican government in April 1931. The masses of workers and agricultural labourers expected rapid changes under the new regime. When these were not forthcoming, the masses began to challenge the ruling class directly, ignoring the edicts of the liberals. The “popular” government reacted with the methods of any capitalist regime: police clubs and bullets In July and August a strike wave swept Spain. In Saville a general strike was crushed only when the army used artillery against the working class districts, leaving thirty persons dead and 200 wounded.

In January 1933 an Anarchist rising in the village of Casas Vlegas in Cadiz was put down by the hated Civil Guard and the newly created “republican” Asaltos, the special police selected for their loyalty to the “democratic” government. At least a dozen prisoners were shot without trial.

In sullen retribution, the masses withheld their votes from the republican parties and the government fell, to be replaced the ill-fated ministry of the ex-radical Alejandro Lerroux This former priest-baiter-turned-reactionary leaned more and leaned more and more heavily on the ancient pillars of Spanish conservatism: the church, the army, and the monarchist parties.

The smell of gunpowder was in the air. Even the most dull-witted reformists sensed that the tinder of the Spanish villages was waiting the spark of social revolt. It became fashionable even in bourgeois circles to proclaim that the future of Spain would be decided not in the Cortes but in the clash of arms between the proletariat and the forces of reaction. In Madrid, Jose Antonio Primo de Rivera, the son of the former dictator, founded the Falange Española, the political party of Spanish fascism. Armed thugs began the systematic assassination of union leaders and left-wing politicians.

The whole of liberal and radical politics in Spain shifted leftwards – in words. In January 1934, at the insistence of the forces around Largo Caballero, the Socialist Party set up a committee to purchase and distribute arms to its members. Caballero’s newspaper, El Socialista wrote on the third anniversary of the republic” Another 14 April? Much better something else: A Spanish October. The difference is this: April, frustrated hope, lost illusion; October, firm eagerness, sure solution … April, citizens with ballot-papers; October, workers with rifles. [7]

Against Lerroux, Caballero could speak like a Leninist. he test of these words would come in September 1936 when Caballero would join the new “April” regime as  Azaña’s premier and help to strangle the Spanish October. But for the moment t even the bourgeois politicians of the republican left could give Y themselves over to such flights of verbal revolutionism.  Azaña himself, now in opposition, declared that while he preferred the t electoral road, “the day may come when we will have no other F remedy but to take up the carbine.” [8]

In October 1934, Lerroux for the first time invited into his cabinet representatives of the far right-wing Catholic party, the CEDA (Confederacion Espanola de Derechas Autonomas) of Gil Robles. The working class parties immediately compared A this with Hindenburg’s appointment of Hitler as chancellor in Germany the previous year and saw in Lerroux’s move an p attempt to impose a fascist government on Spain. The reaction ` was swift. The Socialists and Anarchists opened a gene Pal strike. In Asturias the miners seized Oviedo and declared a socialist commune. The government called in General Franco and the mercenary Army of Africa, the legionnaires of Spanish Morocco, to level the city. Oviedo fell on October 12. The conquering troops exacted a fearful revenge on the workers who had been so audacious as to challenge the established order. The death toll in the fighting and the reprisals that followed topped 5,000. The jails were filled with more than 30,000 political prisoners. The policy of massive executions would be central to the strategy of fascist terror in the cities that would fall to Franco in the civil war.

The victory of reaction in Asturias proved to be a pyrrhic one, however. The workers had been beaten but they were not intimidated. Hatred for the regime deepened and the ruling S parties entered a crisis that shattered the conservative coalition on which the government rested. New elections, held in; February 1936, returned  Azaña to office at the head of a Popular Front coalition of the bourgeois republican left, and, the Socialist and Communist parties. The Anarchists, in their first fateful step toward alliance with the liberal bourgeoisie, abandoned their principle of abstention in elections and encouraged their supporters to vote for the Popular Front.

Even the POUM, which had denounced the antirevolutionary concept of the Popular Front countless times in its press, gave “critical” support to the Popular Front slate and signed its pro-capitalist election manifesto. Nin and Andrade justified this leftist excuses, arguing that they placed no confidence whatever in Azaña and his cohorts, but sought only to defeat the rightsts and to secure the release of the political prisoners.

Trotsky retorted that such a step, whatever the rationalisations, could only have the effect of placing the Spanish working class under the leadership and discipline of their historic enemy, the bourgeoisie. “Andrade’s conduct,” he wrote, “is nothing else than betrayal of the proletariat for the sake of an alliance with the bourgeoisie.” (Emphasis in the original.) In particular Trotsky rejected Nin and Andrade’s notion that the “anti-imperialist struggle of backward Spain for national self-determination constituted a “special” condition. They claimed that such a special condition permitted them to form a political bloc on a common program with the parties of the “left” bourgeoisie. In his article “The Treachery of the POUM,” written in January 1936, Trotsky mercilessly attacked the idea that any section of the Spanish bourgeoisie, liberal or otherwise, had any intention of solving the problems of backward Spain:

The bloc of leaders of the Spanish working class with the left bourgeoisie does not include in it anything “national,” for it does not differ in the least from the “Popular Front” in France, Czechoslovakia, Brazil, or China. This judgement was confirmed all too unhappily for the Spanish working class in the course of the civil war.

As resident of the republic, Azaña sought to temporize with reaction, to demonstrate to the army and the Falange that his government could assure stability and stave off a workers’ insurrection. Like Allende in Chile three and a half decades later he flattered the military hierarchy and used the governmental power to prevent the arming of the masses for their defence against right.  Azaña refused to purge the officers’ corps of the army, which stood as a tightly knit faction pre- paring to strike against the republic and through it at the working class.

Trotsky’s assessment of Azaña as the Spanish Kerensky became the common opinion of the generals and the rightist parties. The class polarization had gone too deep to be settled in the rarefied atmosphere of the Cortes. It would be resolved now in the working class districts of Barcelona and on the plains of Aragon. Who was to rule Spain would be arbitrated not in the rhetoric of parliament but in the language of machine guns. Unfortunately, the right understood this far better than the left.

Civil war
The fascist rising began on July 17, 1936, in Spanish Morocco. In the next three days almost all of the fifty garrisons 1 in Spain declared for fascism. The vast majority of the old ruling class, including the industrial capitalists, joined the rebellion.  Azaña’s instinctive reaction was to compromise. The only possible defence against the fascist onslaught was the arming of the workers’ organizations. Instead,

Azaña’s prime minister, Casares Quiroga, announced that anyone who gave arms to the workers would be shot. This guaranteed a fascist victory in scores of cities and resulted in the deaths of tens of thousands of workers. The liberal historian Hugh Thomas writes:

Nearly everywhere on July 18 the Civil Governors in the large towns followed the example of the Government in Madrid, and refused to co-operate fully with the working-class organisations who were clamouring for arms. In most cases, this brought the success of the [fascist] risings and signed the death warrants of the Civil Governors themselves, along with the local working-class leaders…. But had the liberal Government of Casares Quiroga distributed arms, and ordered the Civil Governors to do so too, thus using the working class to defend the Republic at the earliest opportunity, it is possible that the rising would have been crushed. [9]

In July 18, Casares Quiroga resigned. Azania, still hoping to come to an agreement with the fascists, appointed the conservative Martinez Barrio to form a “moderate” government to demonstrate the respectability of the republican regime to Franco. A hundred thousand workers took to the streets ·of Madrid crying “Treason!” and demanding arms. On July 19, a new cabinet was formed and arms were reluctantly distributed to the masses. This marked a new and decisive stage of the Spanish revolution.

Throughout republican Spain the real power began to pass to the armed workers organizations. In Catalonia the CNT amt the POUM took arms by force when the regional government of President Luis Companys refused to arm the people. Some of the fiercest fighting of this period took place in Barcelona. The British socialist George Orwell, who arrived in Catalonia in December and served in the POUM militia, gave this account of the July fighting in the Catalan capital:

It was the kind of effort that could probably only be matte by people who were fighting with a revolutionary intention – i.e. believed that they were fighting for some- thing better than the status quo. In the various centres of revolt it is thought that three thousand people died in the streets in a single day. Men and women armed only with sticks of dynamite rushed across the open squares soil stormed stone buildings held by trained soldiers with machine-guns. Machine-gun nests that the Fascists had placed at strategic spots were smashed by rushing taxis at them at sixty miles an hour. [10]

In Catalonia the working class parties and trade unions formed militias that defeated the fascists on a broad front in Aragon. The most important of these was an Anarchist column created by Durruti.

The immediate task facing loyalist Spain was the creation of a military force and the organization of production for defence. Despite the Stalinist theory that Franco represented “feudalism” a theory put forward to justify the alliance with the republican bourgeoisie – the fact was that in most places the factory owners had defected to fascist territory. Workers spontaneously seized the factories and put them into operation under their own control; workers’ patrols were organized to replace the police; peasants took over the land. A social revolution on a gigantic scale was taking place. Orwell describes l the Barcelona he saw on his arrival in December 1936:

It was the first time that I had ever been in a town where the working class was in the saddle. Practically every building of any size had been seized by the workers and was V draped with red flags or with the red and black flag of the Anarchists; every wall was scrawled with the hammer and sickle and with the initials of the revolutionary parties. . . . Every shop and café had an inscription saying that it had been collectivized. There were no private motor cars, they had all been commandeered, and all the trams and taxis and much of the other transport were painted red and black. The revolutionary posters were everywhere, flaming from the walls in clean reds and blues that made the few remaining advertisements look like daubs of mud. [11] On July 21, the working class parties and trade unions organized the Central Committee of Anti-Fascist Militias of Catalonia, which immediately became the only real power in the area.

Two governments existed in republican Spain, both vying for power on behalf of opposed classes—a phenomenon that in the Russian Revolution had been named “dual power.” On one side stood the spontaneously created factory committees, the militia units, and the peasant councils, supported by the Anarchists and the POUM. On the other was ranged the official republican government of  Azaña, composed of a handful of liberal capitalist politicians cut off from their own social base and lacking any mass following in the republic. Trotsky was to call them the “shadow bourgeoisie”—the class on which their power had rested had gone over to Franco. The figure-heads alone remained, dependent for their very political existence on the support of the Communist and Socialist parties, now the main prop of the regime.

This did not mean that Azaña and his ministers were prepared to adopt a program of socialist revolution to stay in power. On the contrary, they opposed all of the revolutionary social measures taken spontaneously by the mobilized workers and agricultural labourers. They argued that it was necessary to sharply limit social reforms in order to avoid alienating the liberal businessmen and the democratic governments of France, Britain, and the United States, from whom they hoped to secure aid.

In reality the liberal businessmen were already fighting at Franco’s side. The forlorn hope that the imperialist bourgeoisies the Western democracies could be persuaded to overlook their real class interests and abandon Franco proved equally illusory. Under the guise of neutrality Washington, Paris, and London refused even to sell arms to the legal Spanish government while ignoring the substantial military aid provided by Franco by Hitler and Mussolini. Ironically, the doctrine of “non-intervention” was formulated by France’s Social Democratic premier Léon Blum, who himself headed a Popular Front government brought to power by Communist Party votes.

The relationship of forces in republican Spain overwhelmingly favoured the organizations of proletarian power.  Azaña was able was able to maintain his rule for two reasons. The first was the wavering and indecision of the leadership of the Anarchists and the POUM. Instead of moving to unite the local workers’ councils on a national level and establish a workers’ government they waited until the liberals had regained the initiative—and then Island the Popular Front government themselves in September 1936, grudgingly giving their assent to the forcible destruction of all the achievements of the revolution.

The second factor was the policy of the Comintern. Militarily, in conventional terms, the fascists had every advantage over the republic. They commanded a trained army, a superior air force and an unlimited supply of arms, equipment, and men from their German and Italian allies. The only defence against such an apparatus, as every successful working class revolution has shown, lay in the mass mobilization of the workers and peasants. This was precisely what the Communist Party, in its insistence on the maintenance of bourgeois property relations and a regular army, rejected. Stalin was above all concerned with securing a military alliance with the imperialist democracies against Nazi Germany. In Spain he aimed to prove to his prospective allies that he was uninterested in promoting the spread of revolution and was willing to use his influence to contain the workers’ movement within the limits of bourgeois democracy. (This also proved illusory. Despite Stalin’s willingness to act as the hangman of the Spanish revolution, the “democratic” imperialists remained unimpressed and refused the cooperation he sought. In the end Stalin turned to Hitler, and the Kremlin’s manoeuvrings to secure the Stalin- Hitler Pact were to play no small part in Moscow’s final abandonment of the republic.)

It would be entirely wrong, of course, to accord the same weight to the two elements that coincided in the crushing of the workers movement by the loyalist regime and prepared the triumph of fascism. Indecision and capitulation on the part of people who view themselves as revolutionists is to be condemned, but it is not in the same category as the conscious policy of counterrevolution pursued by the Communist Party. Stalin and his local representatives made no secret of their social program. Thus, Jesus Hernandez, one of the leading figures of the Spanish Communist Party and editor of its newspaper El Mundo obrero, wrote:

It is absolutely false that the present workers’ movement has for its object the establishment of a proletarian dictatorship after the war has terminated. It cannot be said we have a social motive for our participation in the war. We communists are the first to repudiate this supposition. We are motivated exclusively by a desire to defend the democratic republic. [12]

Seven months later another Spanish Stalinist was prepared to explicitly repudiate the workers’ committees and take an open stand against the factory occupations. José Diaz, in his March 5, 1937, speech at a plenary session of the CP Central Committee, declared:

If in the beginning the various premature attempts at “socialization” and “collectivization,” which were the result of an unclear understanding of the character of the present struggle, might have been justified by the fact that the big landlords and manufacturers had deserted their estates and factories and that it was necessary at all costs to continue production, now on the contrary they cannot be justified at all. At the present time, when there is a government of the Popular Front, in which all the forces engaged in the flight against fascism are represented, such things are not only not desirable, but absolutely impermissible. [13]

Stalin himself gave the same advice to the republican government. In a letter to Largo Caballero dated December 21, 1936, Stalin told the new prime minister to “attract the middle and lower bourgeoisie … [by] protecting them against confiscations,” to promise the republican parties the retention of Azania as president, and to respect the property “rights” and “legitimate” interests of foreigners “who are citizens of nations not supporting the rebels [i. e., France and Britain].” [14]

As the Anarchists and the POUM wavered, the government in Madrid began to re-establish its authority. In the first weeks censorship of the workers’ press was re-imposed. A drive was lbegun to dissolve the militias into the newly created “Popular Army” on the grounds of centralizing the conduct of the war. This was largely a spurious issue. The Anarchists and the POUM were equally in favour of centralizing military operations. The question was to whom the military forces were going to be responsible. The intention of Caballero’s move was to cut off the working class parties from political influence in the armed forces.

A crucial turning point in the evolution of dual power was the entry of the Anarchists and the POUM into the regional government of Catalonia, the Generalitat, in September 1936. It was this step that caused Trotsky to finally sever all remaining connections with the POUM and to write off the possibility that under the pressure of events it could play a revolutionary role. On October 9 the Generalitat dissolved the Central Committee of the Anti-Fascist Militias, and subsequently expelled the POUM from the government.

As the power of the workers’ committees waned, the government of the republic moved further and further to the right. This was epitomized by its attitude toward the Spanish colonies. Franco’s main base of operations was Morocco, a colony subjected by Spain only after many years of brutal desert warfare. Even from the standpoint of bourgeois democracy the republic could have proclaimed the independence of this oppressed colonial people. Strategically in the fight against Franco there was every reason to do so in order to win the Moroccan people as allies in the fight against fascism. But Stalin and Azaña were afraid of alarming the British and French governments, which held vast colonial empires in Africa. . And so the republic defended Spain’s imperialist claims to rule Morocco.

Abdel-Krim, the most outstanding military leader of the Moroccans in their war with Spain, appealed to Largo Caballero to use his influence to allow Krim to return from exile to Morocco, where he pledged to lead an insurrection, against Franco. Caballero, dubbed the “Spanish Lenin” by` the Stalinists, refused.

The May events in Barcelona and the suppression of the POUM
The greatest problem for the CP was Catalonia, where its influence had always been minimal. But with the arrival of Russian arms and foreign volunteers the Comintern now commanded a force with which it hoped to crush its rivals in the] working class movement. The Stalinists began their offensive against the Anarchist and POUM militias with a softening-up tactic. The CP used its control over the flow of Russian arms to deny weapons to those sections of the front defended by parties with which. it was in political disagreement, thus handing over much territory to the fascists and promoting the slaughter of thousands of working class revolutionists, particularly on the Aragon front. This cynical policy has been documented by innumerable observers. Gerald Brenan, whose Spanish Labyrinth is one of the standard left-wing works on Spain during this period, testifies:

To [the CP], winning the war meant winning it for the Communist party and they were always ready to sacrifice military advantage to prevent a rival party on their own side from strengthening its position. [15] George Orwell, who fought on the Aragon front and was badly wounded there, gave this description of the pitiful lack of weapons:

[The infantry] were far worse armed than an English public school Officers’ Training Corps with worn out Mause rifles which usually jammed after five shots; approximately one machine-gun to fifty men; and one pistol or revolver in about thirty men. These weapons, so necessary in trench warfare, were not issued by the government and could be bought only illegally and with the greatest difficulty. A government which sends boys of fifteen to the front with rifles forty years old and keeps its biggest men and newest weapons in the rear, is manifestly more afraid of the revolution than of the fascists.[16]

In May of 1937, the Communist Party and its Russian advisors felt themselves strong enough to move against the left flank` the republican forces. The Anarchist leadership had joined the central government in November 1936, and in doing had renounced the struggle for a workers’ government. The POUN leaders, though out of the government, limited themselves to advising the Popular Front and the Anarchists to tart n national congress of workers’ organizations, which of -»·a»·».· the government had no intention of doing. In the meantime the masses who followed the POUM and the Anarchists were growing restive as they watched the gains of the July revolution being taken away by their “allies” in the Popular Front

The CP decided to stage a provocation. Using its agents in Barcelona police it ordered the seizure of the telephone exchange. This building had been operated by the CNT since they captured it from the fascists at the cost of many lives in July 1936.

The Anarchist telephone operators refused to surrender the exchange and sharp fighting broke out between the workers and the Asaltos. Barricades went up throughout the city just as they had in the “Revolution of July 19.” Thousands of workers poured into the streets to defend their organizations from this unprovoked assault by the police. Once again the question of power was directly posed.

Barcelona in May 1937 was the last possible moment that the workers could have created their own government in Spain and recoup what they had lost to the capitalist-Stalinist bloc. Instead the leaders of the POUM and the Anarchists accepted a truce with the Popular Front, and on the basis of a pledge that there would be no reprisals, appealed to the workers to go home.

After the fighting had ended, troops were sent from Valencia, where the central government had moved in November 1936, to occupy the city. Anarchists, POUMists, and militia members were arrested on sight, as were members of the Spanish Bolshevik-Leninists, the organization of those who had remained loyal to Trotsky’s program and tried against overwhelming odds to put it into practice.

The Communist Party had introduced a bill in the central government in Valencia demanding the outlawing of the POUM. This measure was finally passed on June 15-16, 1937. The Stalinists motivated this suppression of the left with a vile slander campaign, charging that the leaders of the POUM were paid agents of Franco. This was picked up and trumpeted by the Stalinist press around the world. The Daily Worker the organ of the American CP, ran a blazing headline in it June 21, 1937, issue declaring: “Spanish Trotskyites Plot with Franco.”

Even Largo Caballero had to protest against the CP’s factional warfare. On May 11, the newspaper of his supporters Adelante, declared editorially: If the Caballero government were to apply the measure of repression which the Spanish section of the Comintern is trying to incite, it would destroy working-class unit and expose us to the danger of losing the war and wrecking the revolution. [17]

But by this time the Stalinists’ grip on the Valencia government was too strong to be shaken from within. Caballero was finally deposed on May 15 and replaced by the more pliable Juan Negrin. In June the CP began the final assault on the POUM. Hugh Thomas gives a graphic picture of the repression:In Barcelona. on the orders of Antonov-Ovsëënko the Russian Consul General, the POUM headquarters the Hotel Falcón was closed. It was immediately, and conveniently, turned into a prison. The POUM itself was declared illegal and 40 members of its central committee arrested. Andrés Nin was taken off separately, but his friends all found themselves in an underground dungeon in Madrid. All members or associates of the POUM were in fear of arrest, since the Stalinist habit of visiting the alleged crimes of the leaders upon all possible followers was well known. The Communist newspapers daily screamed accusations against those whom their party had arrested but did not bring to trial, and a rumour spread that Andrés Nin had been murdered in prison. In fact, he was in Orlov’s prison in the dilapidated ex-cathedral city of Alcalá de Henares. He was there undergoing the customary Soviet interrogation of suspected deviationists. [18]

When the Soviet interrogators became convinced that they could not use Nin in a show trial against the POUM, they decided to dispose of him. Hugh Thomas describes the shameful use made of the International Brigades in this execution:

Eventually Vittorio Vidali (Carlos Contreras) suggested that a “Nazi” attack to liberate Nin should be simulated. So one dark night, ten German members of the International Brigade assaulted the house in Alcala where Nin was held. Ostentatiously, they spoke German during the pretended attack, and left behind some German train tickets. Nin was taken away in a closed van and murdered. [19]

The end of the republic
From point on the fortunes of the republic began a steady decline. The war of attrition was to drag on for twenty-one months but the revolution was already dead, and with it had passed  any hope of halting Franco.

The end of` the war is a bitter chronicle of demoralization, defeat and betrayal by “loyal” officers out to save their own skins. The fascists drove to the coast at Vinaróz in April of 1938, cutting republican Spain in two. Stalin, now looking towards the alliance with Hitler that was to be consummated the next year in the Soviet-German Nonaggression Pact, was  anxious to extricate himself from Spain and avoid the embarrassment of confronting German troops in the Spanish conflict.

The chronology of what followed was plain enough for anyone willing to read it: On September 22 the International Brigade fought their last battle in the Ebro campaign. On September 29 Chamberlain and Daladier signed the Munich Pact with Hitler, foreclosing the possibility of an anti-German alliance with the Soviet Union, to which Stalin had sacrificed the Spanish revolution. By November 15 the International Brigades were departing from Spain, leaving Stalin free to negotiate with Berlin.

The tragedy of the Spanish proletariat was not only that it was beaten in an open fight with its avowed enemy, fascism, but that it was betrayed by those who claimed to be its leaders. When the fascists took Barcelona on January 26, 1939, it fell without firing a shot. Hundreds of thousands of refugees fled across the frontier into France and into exile. In March 1939, Madrid and Valencia surrendered to the fascists. The liberal politicians and the Communist Party functionaries had long prepared their escape hatches and fled abroad, but the Spanish working class could not flee.

Every condition for socialist victory had existed in Spain – save one. And that one, the existence of a mass revolutionary party that aimed at the establishment of a workers’ government, proved to be indispensable. Stalin acted in Spain on the assumption that with the aid of the Communist Party, bourgeois democracy could be preserved when the bourgeoisie had abandoned it. Moscow feared the socialist revolution as much as did the bourgeoisie and in the name of “democracy” acted as the most ruthless agent of capitalism in the struggle with the workers’ movement. Trotsky wrote in his pamphlet “The Lessons of Spain -The Last Warning”- the finest exposition of his views on the Spanish revolution – that Stalin “placed the technique of Bolshevism at the service of bourgeois property. In his bureaucratic narrow-mindedness, he imagined that ‘commissars’ by themselves could guarantee victory. But the commissars of private property proved capable only of guaranteeing defeat.”

It is to be hoped that this collection of Trotsky’s writing on Spain will help to arm the present generation of revolutionary youth so that the harsh experience of Spain need never be repeated.
LES EVANS · May 11, 1972

Notes for Introduction
[1] Gerald Brenan, The Spanish Labyrinth (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1943), pp. 120-21.

[2] Hugh Thomas, The Spanish Civil War (New York: Harper & Bothers, 1961), p. 40.

[3] Strickly speaking I should deal with the Spanish Trotskyists and the party known as the POUM (Partido Obrero de Unificacion, – Workers Party of Marxist Unification) before coming to the CP, inasmuch as these forces were substantially larger than Spanish Stalinism from 1933 until well into the civil war years (the POUM in 1936 claimed 40,000 members). Because of the special place of the Spanish Left Opposition and the POUM Trotsky’s efforts to promote a revolutionary party in Spain, I will treat them in a separate section.

[4] Stanley G. Payne, The Spanish Revolution (New York: W. W. Norton and Company, 1970), p. 144.

[5] Thomas, op. cit., p. 99.

[6] Vidali was later implicated in the machine-gun attempt on Trotsky’s life in May 1940 in Mexico. Gero acted as an agent of Khrushchev in the suppression of the Hungarian revolution in 1956.

[7] El Socialista, April 29, 1934. Cited by Richard A. H. Robinson in the origins of Franco’s Spain (Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press 19700 p. p. 144.

[8] From an interview with Lawrence Fernsworth in the summer of 1934, Fernsworth, Spain’s Struggle for Freedom (Boston: Beacon Press, 1957), pp. 156-61.

[9] Thomas op. cit., p. 135.

[10] George Orwell, Homage to Camlonzo (Boston: Beacon- Press, 1952 pp. 49-50.

[11] Ibid., 4-5.

[12] El Mondo obera Agust 6 1936. Cited by Felix Morrow in Revolution and Counterrevolution in Spain (New York: Pioneer Publishers, 1938), p. 34.

[13] Communist International, May 1937.

[14] New York Times, June 4, 1939, p. 43. The Times published the full text of the letter, translated from the French, along with photostats of the first and last pages of the four-page original. An accompanying interview with Luis Araquistain, a confidant of Largo Caballero and his ambassador to France, testifies to the authenticity of the letter. ·.

[15] Brenan, op. cit., p. 326.

[16] Controversy, August 1937.

[17] Cited by Morrow, op. cit., p. 115.

[18] Thomas, op. cit., pp. 453-54.

[19] Ibid., pp. 454-55.

One thought on “Introduction by Les Evens (May 11 1972) to The Spanish Revolution (1931-39) By Leon Trotsky

  1. socialistfight says:

    “Those who are disposed to view the Popular Unity government of Salvador Allende Gossens in Chile or the United Front regime of Sirimavo Bandaranaike in Ceylon, both of which were elected to office in 1970, as instruments for the construction a socialist society would do well to review the record of the popular Front in Spain. ”

    Bt 1972 Sirimavo Bandaranaike had already massacred the JVP youth in the 1971uprising and Salvador Allende Gossens in Chile was about to fall to Pinochet as the most horrible example of what a Popul;ar Front government can lead to


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