Mariano R. Vázquez (‘Marianet’) — a pen portrait by ‘Farquhar McHarg’

Mariano R. Vázquez (1909-1939)

November 1936: “Farquhar was adamant that things began going badly wrong in 1936 with the vertiginous rise to power of Mariano R. Vázquez . ‘Marianet’, as he was known, was the protégé of the CNT’s collaborationist secretary-general, Horacio Martínez Prieto, and Juan García Oliver —first to the position of regional secretary of the Catalan CNT then, in November 1936, to the post of secretary-general of the CNT National Committee…

“According to Farquhar, it was Marianet who — largely single-handedly, but ably assisted by Montseny, Esgleas and others who should have known better — began suffocating the revolutionary process with his bureaucratic and cowardly deference to the Catalan and Madrid governments, and to the British and French consuls in Barcelona by ensuring that the CNT did not socialise those countries’ important commercial interests in Catalonia. Tragically, the majority of the membership acquiesced to this, by allowing the CNT-FAI street patrols to be replaced first by the Central Committee of Anti-Fascist Militias, then by security forces answerable only to the Generalidad Defence Council…

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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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THE SPANISH LABYRINTH An Account of the Social and Political Background of the Civil War Gerald Brenan eBook £1.50/€2.00 (see eBookshelf)

SpanLabyrinthsmallTHE SPANISH LABYRINTH An Account of the Social and Political Background of the Civil War eBook £1.50/€2.00 (see eBookshelf)  Also available from Kobo

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Written during the Spanish Civil War, published in 1943, revised in 1950 and republished in paperback in1960, The Spanish Labyrinth assesses the social and political background of the war, not the war itself. Brenan a middle-class, liberal, Anglo-Irish expatriate who lived in Spain from 1919 until 1936, returning in 1953 — wrote comprehensively about the political and religious divisions in Spain from the 16th to the 20th centuries: the church, the tensions with Liberalism, the ‘patria chica’ and the main autonomous regions, Carlism, industrialisation, the agrarian question, communal life, the Republic, the Constituent Cortes, class struggle, etc. — not forgetting the important role of anarchism and anarcho-syndicalism in Spanish politics. And although his attitude to the Spanish anarchist–anarcho-syndicalist movement and working class in general is patronising and condescending, it is to an extent understandable given his middle-class upbringing, prejudices and friendship circles.

Brenan swallowed, uncritically, contemporary hysterical, calumnious and propagandistic accounts of ‘irresponsible’, ‘ruthless’ and ‘typical’ acts of mass terrorism allegedly ‘carried out by the Durruti column in Aragón, and by the militia in Madrid on their way to the front’. Describing them as ‘the counterpart of the September Massacres of 1792’, he goes on to compare Durruti to the fanatical ultra-Catholic Carlist general Ramón Cabrera, and refers to the FAI (Iberian Anarchist Federation) as a ‘secret society’, which it most definitely was not (see my We, the Anarchists. A Study of the Iberian Anarchist Federation (FAI) 1927—1937). He also states as fact (and without adducing any evidence) that the advent of the FAI brought with it an increasingly noticeable trend in Spanish anarchism: ‘the inclusion within its ranks of professional criminals — thieves and gunmen who certainly would not have been accepted by any other working class party — together with idealists of the purest and most selfless kind.’

In spite of Brenan’s shortcomings as an historian and his ambivalence toward the Spanish anarchist movement, as a personal insight The Spanish Labyrinth remains a highly readable, comprehensive and valuable account of social and political life in Spain in the years leading up to the Civil War.

later Freedom, until her death at the age of 31 in 1949. She was the
 author of Journey Through Utopia (Routledge) and Neither East Nor
 West (Freedom Press). Her article was originally written for Now! in
 1944 as a review of the original edition of Brenan’s book:

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REPORTER IN SPAIN by Frank Pitcairn (Claud Cockburn). A Stalinist reporter’s account of the SCW. eBook £1.50/€2.00 (see eBookshelf)


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In 1936, Harry Pollitt, the then General Secretary of the Communist Party, asked CPGB member CLAUD COCKBURN (1904-1981) to cover the Spanish Civil War for the Daily Worker. In Spain, under the assumed name of Frank Pitcairn and endorsed by the CPGB, he joined the Quinto Regimiento/Fifth Regiment (formed by the Communist-led Antifascist Worker and Peasant Militias — Milicias Antifascistas Obreras y Campesinas — commanded by Enrique Castro Delgado) to report on the war as an ordinary soldier. The result, Reporter in Spain, was published in October 1936 by the Communist Party of Great Britain’s then preferred commercial publishing house, Lawrence & Wishart. In Homage to Catalonia (April 1938) George Orwell attacked Cockburn’s Daily Worker reports from Spain, accusing him of serving the ideological and geopolitical interests of the Soviet Union — particularly with regard to his partisan account of the Barcelona May Days of 1937, views that were reflected in his Soviet sponsored newsletter, ‘The Week’ (1933-1941).

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