Published: in International Council Correspondence Vol. 1, no.2, November 1934, pp 23-24.
Source: Antonie Pannekoek Archives
Transcribed: by Graham Dyer
In the middle of September, “La Nacion”, a leading bourgeois newspaper in Spain, wrote “that the danger growing out of this situation of strike activities can at this time only be combated by the erection of an open dictatorship”. Since then the days were marked by increasing provocations by the government against the labor organizations, as well as the whole working class. Demonstrations, meetings, organizations were forbidden, the press suppressed, elections declared illegal and communist and socialist deputies replaced by reactionary ones. The bourgeois press spoke of a planned revolution, and supported the development of the fascist organizations. All this did not decrease the strike activity, and the consequences in which these strikes were carried through. The economic struggle became at once a struggle against the government, as the government has to assure its capitalists profits. The ruling class is determined to bring, by all means, the activity of the working class to a standstill, and is preparing for an open dictatorship supported by the growing fascist forces.
In the beginning of October, the strike situation changed to civil warfare. October 5th, about 100 deaths were reported, and the days following, this number increased more and more. The government engaged all military means to suppress what they called an uprising of the workers, after they had started this slaughtering of the workers merely for their strike activity. The streets of Madrid and of many of the smaller cities became battlefields. The heroism of the workers was remarkable in the face of their meagre weapons. “The troops have been given orders to fire on any suspicious person or manifestation”. “All extremists carrying weapons shall be shot!”, ordered the premier. Once more it became clear that a real General Strike of the workers in such a situation is identical with civil war.
Using this melee, the separatist elements, partly supported by the C.P. slogans of national self-determination, also struck for their special interests. They declared Catalonia temporarily an independent republic, and led the class struggle in this part of Spain on the sidetrack of nationalism.
The issues of the workers were not clear. They were, by their different organizational interests, in a terrible ideological mess. Anarchists, syndicalists, communists and socialists were forced into one front against the fascisti and the fascist attitude of the government. They still fought in spite of this common enemy for their special group interests. This weakened the strength of the workers and also did away with all hope that out of the struggle would come anything more than a terrible defeat. Only by way of struggle, and especially this kind of struggle, will the workers recognize their true interests which forces them not only to the overthrow of this feudal-capitalist combination of exploitation in Spain, but also to the recognition that the enemy must be faced by a working class united on one issue, the issue of communism. The present class struggle can be regarded as evidence that class consciousness nowadays takes on at once concrete form. The workers learn to understand their problems, not merely on a purely ideological basis, but they learn at once by actual practice. The reality is more revolutionary than the ideas of the workers; and so even a defeat of the workers in Spain can indicate nothing more than a temporary one which also carries with it the weapons for certain success in the future.
Last updated on: 3.23.2016