John Brademas died in Manhattan on 11 July 2016, at the age of 89. He was an outstanding member of the United States Congress for the Democratic Party for 22 years (1959-81), a partner with the Rockefeller Foundation, founder of the King Juan Carlos I of Spain Center at New York University (of which he served as president from 1981 to 1992), a recipient of the Great Cross of Alfonso X (the Wise) of Spain (2011), conferred upon him by King Juan Carlos I of Spain, and recipient of some thirty other awards.
However, as his obituary in the New York Times (11 July 2016) set out, behind this glamorous award-studded life lay something that ran much deeper. The son of a Greek immigrant restaurant-owner (whose restaurant came under repeated Ku Klux Klan attacks) and an Indiana elementary-school teacher, John Brademas recalled how his father told him on several occasions that he would strive not to leave him a great legacy (unlikely as he was an immigrant to Indiana and owner of a modest restaurant) but rather a first-rate education. Brademas embraced his father’s educational ambitions and never forgot his origins. In fact, James Fernandez (New York University) stressed in his obituary that “towering over everything else, perhaps, was the wisdom, decency and compassion of a truly extraordinary man who never forgot where he came from.”1
In July 1936, the coup-makers (golpistas) were clear that their success would be bought at the cost of the physical elimination of the leading members of the republican and workers’ political parties, as well as of the trade unions. In addition to members or organisations like the freemasons which were held to be hostile to the golpistas’ clericalism and unreconstructed version of Catholicism. This repressive approach resulted in a policy of extermination once the golpistas woke up to the fact that their coup attempt had failed across the country. So that during the summer and the months that followed there occurred in the occupied territories what has been described as “Francoism’s foundational massacre” or “the Spanish Holocaust”.
The rebels were trying to stop the changes in economic relations and in in Spanish society as a whole, these having gathered pace after the proclamation of the Second Republic in April 1931. Both the moderate changes pushed by the republican groups and the more far-reaching changes pushed by anarcho-syndicalism. The defeat of the coup was a boost to the spread of the revolution which it was supposed to have been meant to prevent. The number one enemies to be eliminated were those who represented the greatest radicalism: the libertarians.
This essay means to describe how the policy of extermination was applied to the anarcho-syndicalist constituency in Cadiz. A city where the main economic sectors – metalworking, transport and construction – were dominated by the CNT. I shall focus upon a few of the more prominent militants, whilst not forgetting that the repression encompassed the bulk of the city’s anarcho-syndicalists.
“The publication of Rudolf Rocker’s Anarcho-Syndicalism, after far too many years, is an event of much importance for people who are concerned with problems of liberty and justice. Speaking personally, I became acquainted with Rocker’s publications in the early years of the Second World War, in anarchist book stores and offices in New York City, and came upon the present work on the dusty shelves of a university library, unknown and unread, a few years later. I found it an inspiration then, and have turned back to it many times in the years since. I felt at once, and still feel, that Rocker was pointing the way to a much better world, one that is within our grasp, one that may well be the only alternative to the ‘universal catastrophe’ towards which ‘we are driving on under full sail’, as he saw on the eve of the Second World War. This catastrophe will be beyond the limits he could then imagine, as states have acquired the capacity to obliterate human society, a capacity that they will exercise if the current social order evolves along its present paths.