ANARCOSINDICALISMO Y REVOLUCIÓN EN ESPAÑA 1930-1937 por John Brademas. Prefacio de Pedro García-Guirao — eBook £1.50 (see eBookshelf)

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El historiador y político norteamericano John Brademas (1927 –  2016), que se graduó en la Universidad de Harvard y se doctoró en la de Oxford, era desde 1959 miembro demócrata de la Cámara de Representantes del Congreso de su país. A pesar de la importancia de los grupos revolucionarios, en general, y del anarquismo, en particular, no abundan los estudios valiosos dedicados al tema. En tanto que la obra de Stanley Payne, La revolución española intenta presentar una óptica de conjunto, la de Brademas analiza concretamente el anarcosindicalismo español durante el período 1930-1937.

A lo largo de su estudio John Brademas mostró la evolución del más poderoso movimiento anarcosindicalista del mundo, la CNT, y sus relaciones con la UGT y la FAI. El libro comienza con un ‘análisis del tema “conspiración y colaboración bajo el régimen de Primo de Rivera”, sigue con la etapa inicial de la República y las huelgas de la Telefónica y del puerto de Barcelona; la declaración de los treinta; la sublevación del alto Llobregat y la consiguiente escisión de la CNT; la sublevación anarquista de enero de 1933; la Alianza Obrera; la revolución de octubre de 1934; y la formación y la efímera trayectoria del Frente formación de las milicias y de sus comités; la justicia revolucionaria; la organización económica de la revolución (las colectivizaciones en la industria, las colectividades agrícolas, etc.) y la participación de ministros anarquistas en el Consejo de la Generalidad y en el gobierno de la Republica. El libro concluye con los sucesos de mayo de 1937 en Barcelona, que, entre otras cosas, significaron pare el anarquismo la pérdida de su predominio político en el campo republicano.

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LESSONS OF THE SPANISH REVOLUTION (1936-1939) Vernon Richards — eBook £1.50 (see eBookshelf)

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In this study the Spanish workers’ resistance to the military insurrection of July 1936 is viewed not as a struggle between Fascism and Democracy but as a heroic attempt to bring about a far-reaching Social Revolution. In this task the Spanish revolutionaries had to deal both with Franco’s armies and with the forces of counter-revolution in their midst. It is on this latter aspect of the struggle the author attempts to shed some light, drawing on the vast documentation available, most of which, however, is quite unknown to the English-speaking public.

In spite of the defeat of the Spanish Revolution it is nevertheless one of the most important landmarks in Man’s age-long struggle for his freedom and emancipation, and will eventually be so recognised, when the events, which to-day obscure our sense of proportion and capture the headlines, will have long been forgotten.

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MICHAEL BAKUNIN. A Biographical Sketch by James Guillaume — eBook £1.50 (see eBookshelf)

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James Guillaume, Bakunin’s friend and comrade-in-arms, edited the last five volumes of the six-volume French edition of his collected works. Guillaume’s biographical sketch of Bakunin, originally appeared in his introduction to Volume II of that edition.

This sketch is a primary source not only on the life of Bakunin, but also on the most significant events in the socialist movement of that period. It incidentally contributes valuable background information for many of the other selections in the present volume. Guillaume, who did not limit himself to recording events but also took part in shaping them, had been inclined toward anarchism even before he met Bakunin in 1869. Earlier, he had been one of the founders of the First International in Switzerland, where it held its first congress, in Geneva, in 1866. He attended all its congresses, and eventually published a four-volume history of the International. Guillaume also wrote widely on libertarian theory and practice and edited a number of periodicals. His extensive writings on cultural subjects included substantial contributions to the theory of progressive education as represented particularly by the early-nineteenth-century Swiss educator Johann Pestalozzi.

Cover illustration by Agustín Comotto

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VOTE! WHAT FOR? by Robert “Bobby” Lynn — eBook £1.50 (see eBookshelf)

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The pamphlet “Vote! What For?” by Robert “Bobby” Lynn, the Glaswegian Stirnerite anarcho-syndicalist who “radicalised” me as a 15-year-old (apart from my granny!), is a timely insight into the true nature of representative democracy and universal suffrage. An unforgettable street corner speaker, his proselytising patter was second-to-none. Here he is talking about the division of labour: “a man operating a machine in repetitive work day-in day-out becomes an automaton. He produces a nut and a bolt, a nut and a bolt, a nut and a bolt. … Finally you don’t know whether he is a nutter from the bolt factory or whether he has bolted from the nut factory.”

“This pamphlet is not meant to be a panorama of a possible future real world. It’s meant to be an observation on present day society with a view to changing it, as I believe it to be an insane asylum. It is so gigantic that most of us do not notice it. Most people have visions of a society of their desires but because of miseducation their views are frustrated. They have been so indoctrinated by their “teachers”: the classroom, from the pulpit, from parents who came through the same sausage machine indoctrination. From the cradle to the grave they are nurtured and subjected to varying degrees of subservience. In consequence they sniff for their master like an obedient pet dog. They seek their messiah, divine or mundane.

“If I could lead anyone into the land of milk and honey, I wouldn’t do it. Why? Because if I could lead anyone into it then I could lead them out of it. No one has the power to give you what you want without having the power to snuff it out. I want to be neither a mister somebody nor a mister nobody but merely a mister this body: neither to be possessed nor dispossessed. If I could change the social system by myself I would do so. But because of my incompetence I need allies: I need more strength; I need you. It is self-interest but an interest that is mutual. At present I hack at the social system as best I can like laboriously cutting away with pick and shovel at a mountain to get to my destination; Forever trying to muster sufficient dynamite in order to blow it out of existence. So I speak to you, especially you of the working class who have an immediate economic interest in destroying our maniacal social system. Economic freedom is the concrete base of all other freedoms. Without economic freedom another freedoms are merely spooks.

“I ask you then to rid yourself of spooks. Organise to achieve real freedom from your compulsory asylum. Karl Marx once exhorted the working class to unite. “Workers of the world unite, you have nothing to lose but your chains, you have a world to win.” However, he spent so much time in the British Museum that it would seem he had forgotten to advise them where to unite.

“In my pamphlet I try to show the futility of organising in political parties. I advise industrial and social organisation. A do-it-yourself movement and make the politicians redundant. Send them and the tycoons of industry into the museums of antiquity along with the spinning wheel and the bronze axe. One last word I hope after reading the pamphlet you may find the rational core within the mystical shell and boycott the vote.” — Robert Lynn

The cover illustration depicts the suicided Ajax, impaled on his sword, being covered by Tekmessa. When Achilles was killed it was Ajax who saved his body from the Trojans, hoping to be rewarded with Achilles’ magical armour, but Odysseus who had also been involved in the fighting also wanted the armour. To settle the matter the Greeks leaders, under Athena, voted by piling stones in front of the opponents; Ajax, who lost by one vote, went off in a hissy fit and slaughtered the Achaeans captured livestock, then commited suicide. How very unlike the post-electoral behaviour of our own dear politicians.

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THE ANARCHIST COLLECTIVES Workers’ Self-Management in the Spanish Revolution, 1936-1939 by Sam Dolgoff (Editor) — eBook £1.50 (see eBookshelf)

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Sam Dolgoff, editor of the best anthology of Bakunin’s writings, has now produced an excellent documentary history of the Anarchist collectives in Spain. Although there is a vast literature on the Spanish Civil War, this is [was] the first book in English that is devoted to the experiments in workers’ self-management, both urban and rural, which constituted one of the most remarkable social revolutions in modern history. —Paul Avrich

Lenin once identified “the sum total of the conditions necessary for socialism” as large-scale capitalist engineering and planned organization subordinated to a Soviet state, that is, a “proletarian dictatorship” ruled by a vanguard party. The eyewitness reports and commentary presented in this highly important study reveal a very different understanding of the nature of socialism and the means for achieving it.

Libertarian communism, as it was realised during the Spanish revolution, was truly the creation of workers and peasants. It was a “spontaneous” creation—for which, in fact, the groundwork had been laid by decades of struggle and education, experiment and thought.

Varied, complex, often inspiring, the achievement of the people of Spain is unique in the history of 20th century revolution. It should be carefully studied, not merely as the record of a remarkable human accomplishment, but also for the insight it provides into the problems of constructing a social order that is just and humane, committed to freedom from exploitation and oppression, whether by a capitalist autocracy or an authoritarian state apparatus.

For a brief period, the Spanish people offered the world a glimpse of a future that differs by orders of magnitude from the tendencies inherent in the state capitalist and state socialist societies that exist today. —Noam Chomsky

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