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Madrid: Conferences* on the libertarian revolution

category iberia | history of anarchism | news report author Wednesday July 26, 2006 18:25author by Manuel Baptista - AC-Interpro Report this post to the editors

Commemoration of 70 years since 19th July 1936

At the Madrid Athenaeum at 7.00pm on the 19th July, there was a simple event, but one dense with political meaning - the opening of an exhibition organised by the Spanish CGT from the Madrid region with the participation of the Salvador Seguí Foundation and the Libertarian Athenaeum La Idea...

Madrid: Conferences* on the libertarian revolution

Manuel Baptista


Commemoration of 70 years since 19th July 1936

At the Madrid Athenaeum at 7.00pm on the 19th July, there was a simple event, but one dense with political meaning - the opening of an exhibition organised by the Spanish CGT from the Madrid region with the participation of the Salvador Seguí Foundation and the Libertarian Athenaeum La Idea.

The CGT secretary from Madrid-Castilla-La Mancha, Cristina Escrivá, spoke a few words for the opening, greeting those present and explaining the session's programme.

Rafael Mestre from the Salvador Seguí Foundation then stated that the main underlying concern was to show what the Spanish Revolution actually did, its achievements in various realms of life from the economy and collectivisations, to the rich and diversified ways of promoting libertarian and alternative art, culture and values rooted in the agricultural and industrial proletariat well before the 19th July 1936, a fact that explains the protagonists' behaviour in the days of July and in the three years of fierce fighting against fascism and against those who, in government and on the pretext of discipline, wanted to suffocate the libertarian revolution.

There followed a speech by Franck Mintz, of the CNT-F, who underlined the importance of the self-management experiences in the communities of Aragon and Levant, the solutions adopted in different branches of the economy and society, also in Catalan cities, and its relevance today as a subject of study, not for nostalgic reasons but because they make up such a rich libertarian laboratory, an experiment that went farther than any other in the application of our principles to the whole of society, an experiment never surpassed since.

The pressure of the war which was fought simultaneously had an influence but did not stop the impetus of revolutionary construction by the CNT grassroots and by other political affiliations (including the UGT and CPE). The war against fascism was not seen by them as a reason to renounce their work - on the contrary, it encouraged them to build new productive relations and new relationships between people with even more energy.

The 70th anniversary of the revolution has been treated with seriousness and dignity by the various branches of anarcho-syndicalism and anarchism both in Spain and abroad, but not by other currents, and this shows there has been an important drift in the authoritarian socialist camp, for they could also rightly claim the comrades from the UGT, from the Socialist, Communist and Marxist Parties who took part, side by side with the people from the FAI and CNT, in the above-mentioned communities. The reformists too are silent regarding the previous attempts that were often the initiative of revolutionary-minded workers inside the UGT with a minority of CNT participation, followed by hot repression, by the bourgeois republic's police and army apparatus.

Before July 1936 several insurrections and armed strikes took place, from the Asturias miners to the agricultural proletarians in Andalusia and other places, libertarian communist insurrections where the people of a village or town took over, controlling communications, and beginning at once the process of land collectivisation with libertarian self-management. Whether they were from the CNT, the UGT or other organisations, they were simply cultivated revolutionary-minded people, even if illiterate, people who had long heard of and debated the ideals and practical solutions defended in the pamphlets of Kropotkin, Isaac Puente and many other authors.

In his speech, Félix Garcia Moriyón, university professor and CGT militant, pointed out the context of a "historical memory" law, at this moment under discussion in parliament on the initiative of the socialist government, that in fact goes against our fundamental claims: namely, that the sentences against the victims of Francoist "justice" be reviewed, in particular the cases of Granado and Delgado, of Puig Antich and of many others who were sentenced to death, who should be honoured as victims and as resisters, like the many thousands of survivors of Francoist prisons to whom not the slightest restitution was made nor their cases cleared from the criminal register, a symbolic measure that the hypocritical power (heir of the Moncloa pact) does not have the generosity or honesty to take for fear of displeasing the Francoist nomenclature that is well established in power (it is sufficient to think of the armed forces, the courts and even the leaders of some parties like Fraga Iribarne, president of the Galician regional government, and Franco's home minister, directly responsible for death sentences against anti-fascist militants).

This law is being thought of as a sort of final point to the debate by all the parliamentary parties, to consign to oblivion for a second time the millions of innocent victims of Francoism. They are the legitimate political heirs of this regime which began by forgetting these victims during the time of the so-called "transition", and that can never be a proper solution to the question of how to heal the scars of a dramatic past. To pay homage without making justice - this is the "trick" of power.

One cannot expect anything from those, but from the libertarian milieu one should on the contrary expect a deep analysis of the issues at stake at that time, issues that divided opinion sharply and which are still the source of lively debates in libertarian ranks - such controversial issues as the participation in government of CNT and FAI leaders, and the renouncing by most of the CNT and FAI leadership of the revolutionary programme in order to "save the republic" or "fight against fascism before anything else". Nowadays, these disagreements are still the cause of deep debate as they go to the heart of the libertarian ethics of action.

In the lively debate that followed the speeches, various people spoke, including a member of the CNT-Madrid, all showing a strong desire for unity within diversity, in the natural and tolerant form of relationships between us, comrades of the same ideal, though divided on the questions of tactics and strategy.

Manuel Baptista

* September 15th, 19th, 21st, 22nd and 23rd the Conferences Cycle will continue in the Madrid Athenaeum.

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author by nestor - Anarkismopublication date Wed Jul 26, 2006 18:27author address author phone Report this post to the editors

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