To protect the hard won land of the rural communities and the new society the people of liberated Aragón were building, the regional committee of the CNT, acting in concert with Durruti and his column, organised by an assembly of militia, village, and trade union representatives from Rioja and Navarre which was held in Bujaraloz on 6 October 1936. Francisco Muñoz, the regional secretary of the Aragónese CNT outlined proposals for the formation of a special regional committee which would ensure that the Aragonese region was ready and able ‘to organise itself in this revolutionary hour and re-establish its personality among the other Iberian peoples, in preparation for the great federation of the future.
THE SPANISH HORSE by André Héléna. Translated by Paul Sharkey.
IN THE 1940s AND 1950s, ten and twenty years on from the civil war, a handful of Spanish anarchist exiles waged a stubborn rearguard action against the Franco regime. With his novel The Spanish Horse, André Héléna remains the only French author to seize upon this feat in order to pay tribute to its obscure heroes.
Raised between Narbonne and Leucate, young André was 17 years old when the Spanish Civil War broke out. He was obviously affected by the ripples from the nearby conflict and later by the spectacle of the republican defeat when 500,000 refugees, a mixture of soldiers and civilians, flooded into Roussillon in February 1939 via every border crossing.
PERE (PEDRO) BOADAS I RIVAS was born in Barcelona in 1894 and died in Montevideo, Uruguay in 1972. Together with Medir Mart and Pere Vandellós, he was one of the leaders of the first anarcho-syndicalist action group organised in Catalonia from late 1917 onwards, before the six-year period of “pistolerismo” erupted in Barcelona. He can, therefore, be regarded as the pioneer of those Barcelona anarcho-syndicalist action groups of which so much has been said; though little is known about the individual protagonists themselves.
From 1917 to 1924, when he was arrested for the last time in Barcelona, Pere Boadas was the coordinator of the many action groups that emerged in the course of the social warfare between anarcho-syndicalist activists and the employers’ and police gunmen.
In 1927 he emerged from prison and, after a trip to Paris in 1928, he emigrated to Montevideo in Uruguay where he contacted the expropriator anarchist action groups carrying out holdups for the cause; the most active and most wanted of these groups in both Uruguay and Argentina was the one led by Miguel Arcángel Roscigno.
Agustín Guillamón was born in Barcelona in 1950, the son of textile workers. From the age of 13 he lived in the working class barrio of Poble Nou and later in La Verneda. He graduated from the University of Barcelona in contemporary history; his dissertation, under the supervision of Muniesa, dealt with the activism and political thought of Amadeo Bordiga.
He has published four books on the 1936 revolution, ‘Barricadas en Barcelona‘, ‘Els Comités de Defensa en Barcelona 1936-1938, ‘La Revolución de los Comités‘, and most recently La Guerra del Pan. Hambre y violencia en Barcelona revolucionaria. De diciembre de 1936 a mayo de 1937 wherein he provides a platform for the protagonists of the revolution themselves. His books are essential reading for anyone investigating the revolution and for any Catalan eager to know what happened in Barcelona during the revolution and the counter-revolution in 1937. Agustín Guillamón lets the protagonists speak for themselves and this entails complicated and dogged research. A non-directional, non-interpretative, superb way of showing us the history by letting the ‘cast’ do the talking. Vital books on self-organisation among the Barcelona proletariat, mostly, the handiwork of a non-aligned historian involved in class struggle.
Until the end of the eighteenth century one of the most important developments in warfare, apart from the invention of gunpowder and the adoption of firearms, had ‘been the superseding of feudal military organisation by professional, mercenary, troops’. By the end of the fifteenth century the diffused feudal nobility of Europe had discovered, to their cost, that professional soldiers, who fought for pay alone and were personally loyal to the sovereign, were far more reliable than the hastily recruited and poorly trained and motivated feudal armies they relied on. These ‘professional’ or centrally controlled ‘royal’ armies could, moreover, be sent to keep order at home or wage war abroad with little fear of external factors affecting morale or their fighting qualities. Relatively free, therefore, from popular or subordinate influences, the sovereigns of Europe could wage wars with limited resources for limited objectives and negotiate peace on a compromise basis when those objectives were either attained or appeared unobtainable.