We of the United Nations are not making all this sacrifice of human effort and human lives to return to the kind of world we had after the last World War.
We are fighting today for security, for progress, and for peace, not only for ourselves, but for all men, not only for one generation but for all generations. We are fighting to cleanse the world of ancient evils, ancient ills.
From a radio address by President Franklin D. Roosevelt, October 12, 1942
They [corporations] cannot commit treason, nor be outlawed nor excommunicated, for they have no souls.
Nacido en Villada (Palencia) en 1909 pero residente en Madrid hace medio siglo, Eduardo de Guzmán inicía muy joven sus actividades profesionales trabajando en diversos periódicos. En 1930 es nombrado redactor jefe del diario madrileño «La Tierra», cargo que desempeña durante cinco años. En 1935 pasa a «La Libertad» como editorialista y redactor político. En febrero de 1937 se le designa director del periódico matutino «Castilla Libre», órgano de la C.N T en la capital de España.
THE YEAR OF VICTORY is the second volume (in Spanish) of Eduardo de Guzmán’s riveting memoir, telling the story of Spain’s social revolution and Civil War, and the aftermath of the Francoist victory. It gives an unputdownable first-hand account of the tragic fate of defeated republican prisoners detained at the port of Alicante on 1 April 1939. Guzmán’s richly descriptive story of their gruelling three-month odyssey which took them, from Alicante, through the horrors of the Los Almendros and Albatera concentration camps, to their ultimate destination, a sinister Falangist building in Madrid’s Calle de Almargo. The book exposes the entire repressive apparatus of Francoist bloodlust in the aftermath of ‘victory’.
The author was editor of the Madrid-based Castilla Libre, the daily newspaper of the revolutionary workers’ union, the National Confederation of Labour (CNT), between February 1937 and March 1939. For me he is the Spanish Solzhenitsyn – the chronicler and indicter of one of Europe’s most enduring and bloodsoaked fascist regimes, one that killed more Spaniards than Hitler killed Germans. Guzmán’s insights and painstaking descriptions of his fellow prisoners, guards, conditions of confinement – the whole world of captivity – had me gripped all the way, from the fall of Alicante until the moment he and his comrades are delivered into the hands of the triumphalist, spiteful secret police and Falangist captors. My personal memories date from 24 years after the events described here — and are nowhere near as dramatic — but all the same I recognise each and every one of the situations and characters — oppressors and victims — and empathise with the latter every step of the way. One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich exposed the brutalities of Stalin’s faraway prison system, Guzmán’s The Year of Victory does the same for Franco’s ignored gulag archipelago just the other side of the Pyrenees. The pity is that this three-volume Civil War masterpiece — La muerte de la esperanza (1973); El año de la victoria (1974) and Nosotros los asesinos: memorias de la guerra de España (1976) — remains more or less unrecognised in the very country whose history, vast areas of which still remain suppressed today — albeit more subtly — he tells so movingly.
La calle de la Luna está a cuatro pasos de la redacción de «La Libertad». Apenas leído el manifiesto de la C. N. T abandono el periódico para volver a los locales de la organización confederal en busca de noticias. Son ya las doce y media de la noche y acaba de comenzar un nuevo día — el 19 de julio— que puede y debe ser decisivo para el futuro de todos.
CHAPTER II: DEMOCRACY AND THE IRON LAW OF OLIGARCHY
Reduced to its most concise expression, the fundamental sociological law of political parties (the term “political” being here used in its most comprehensive significance) may be formulated in the following terms: “It is organisation which gives birth to the dominion of the elected over the electors, of the mandataries over the mandators, of the delegates over the delegators. Who says organisation, says oligarchy.”
Whilst the majority of the socialist schools believe that in a future more or less remote it will be possible to attain to a genuinely democratic order, and whilst the greater number of those who adhere to aristocratic political views consider that democracy, however dangerous to society, is at least realizable, we find in the scientific world a conservative tendency voiced by those who deny resolutely and once for all that there is any such possibility. As was shown in an earlier chapter, 1 this tendency is particularly strong in Italy, where it is led by a man of weight, Gaetano Mosca, who declares that no highly developed social order is possible without a “political class,” that is to say, a politically dominant class, the class of a minority. Those who do not believe in the god of democracy are never weary of affirming that this god is the creation of a childlike mythopoeic faculty, and they contend that all phrases representing the idea of the rule of the masses, such terms as state, civic rights, popular representation, nation, are descriptive merely of a legal principle, and do not correspond to any actually existing facts. They contend that the eternal struggles between aristocracy and democracy of which we read in history have never been anything more than struggles between an old minority, defending its actual predominance, and a new and ambitious minority, intent upon the conquest of power, desiring either to fuse with the former or to dethrone and replace it. On this theory, these class struggles consist merely of struggles between successively dominant minorities. The social classes which under our eyes engage in gigantic battles upon the scene of history, battles whose ultimate causes are to be found in economic antagonism, may thus be compared to two groups of dancers executing a chassé croisé in a quadrille.
In the domain of public law, democracy attains its culminating point in that complex of institutions that exists in Switzerland, where the people possesses the right of the referendum and that of the initiative. The use of the referendum is compulsory in Switzerland upon a number of questions that are statutorily determined. The legislative measures drawn up by the representative body must then be submitted to a popular vote, for acceptance or rejection. In addition, the burghers exercise the power of direct legislation. “When a certain number of voters demand the repeal of an existing law or the introduction of a new one, the matter must be submitted to popular vote. These important popular rights are supplemented by the direct popular election of the supreme executive authorities, as in the United States. Although these democratic ordinances have often in actual practice proved but little democratic in their results (the referendum, above all, having frequently shown that the democratic masses possess less democratic understanding than the representative government), and although leading socialists have therefore with good reason sharply criticised these manifestations of democracy, – other socialists look to these institutions for the definitive solution of all questions of public law, and for the practical contradiction of the opinion that oligarchy arises by natural necessity, contending that by the referendum and by the initiative the decisive influence in legislative matters is transferred from the representative assembly to the totality of the citizens.