The Socialist

The Socialist 17 May 2017

Kick out the Tories! For a Corbyn-led government

The Socialist issue 949

Kick out the Tories: For a Corbyn-led government

Tories out! Corbyn can win with socialist policies

Corbyn's manifesto: An important step in the right direction

TUSC confirms no candidates in June

Suprise rally with Jeremy Corbyn in Morley

Corbyn's alternative for young people

Corbyn could re-win Scotland with a socialist approach to independence


One in three borrow for rent, Corbyn pledges housing revolution

Tories escape election fraud charges

NHS cyberattack: budget cuts and spy agency to blame

31,000 more kids at risk of abuse or neglect


PCS election: Increased majority for Democracy Alliance

Support Corbyn's call to renationalise Royal Mail

CWU walkout wins large concessions

Blackpool deserves better - anti-austerity rally

Unison must back Corbyn's pledge to abolish zero-hour contracts with action

Workplace news in brief


Socialist ideas are energising young people

Fund the fight against the Tories

Packed meeting sets out socialist policies needed to defeat the Tories


Palestinian prisoners on mass hunger strike protest

Brazil: General strike against Temer regime


Barcelona May Days 1937 - a civil war within a civil war

Hull workers who fought in the Spanish Civil War

The Socialist inbox

 
 
 
 
 

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Barcelona May Days 1937 - a civil war within a civil war

'POUM' militia fighters being captured at the Battle of Guadarrama - at the start of the Spanish Civil War, POUM fighters held the line before other forces got organised

'POUM' militia fighters being captured at the Battle of Guadarrama - at the start of the Spanish Civil War, POUM fighters held the line before other forces got organised   (Click to enlarge)

This month marks the 80th anniversary of the 'May Days' in Barcelona during the Spanish Civil War in 1937. Below is a reply to an article in the Observer on 7 May (both this and a shorter version were unpublished) by Socialist Party general secretary Peter Taaffe.

Professor Paul Preston's attack on George Orwell and the veracity of the latter's account of the Barcelona events of 1937, 'Homage to Catalonia' (Observer 7 May), is a scandalous distortion of events and cannot be left unanswered.

Orwell's was a relatively accurate account of the attempts of the POUM (Workers' Party of Marxist Unity) to defend and extend the gains of the Spanish Revolution against the capitalist-Stalinist counter-revolution being waged within the civil war.

True, the POUM committed a big error in entering the Catalan government, sacrificing its class independence. But the 'Popular Front' government's attempt to take the Barcelona telephone exchange (Telefonica) - a symbol of workers' control - in May 1937 met with mass resistance.

The government's attempt to take over the telephone exchange, led to Barcelona workers arming themselves and building barricades. Very quickly, the whole of Barcelona was in their hands.

Anthony Beevor, a capitalist historian but more honest than Preston, wrote: "The anarchists had an overwhelming numerical majority, holding almost 90% of Barcelona and its suburbs."

He added: "These overwhelming advantages were not used because the CNT-FAI knew that further fighting would lead to a full civil war within the civil war, in which they would be cast as traitors, even if the nationalists were unable to take advantage of the situation."

Counter-revolution

Yet a "civil war within the civil war" was already taking place through the onslaught of the counter-revolution against the gains of the working class. Such processes unfold in all revolutions, which see shifts to the left leading to attempts at counter-revolution and to a further movement forward of the revolution.

This was a classic case where a small but determined revolutionary party like the POUM could have won over the masses. But, instead of openly campaigning for a militant, conscious policy of resistance and for the completion of the revolution, the POUM leaders went for diplomacy behind the scenes with the CNT leaders. This gave the initiative to the counter-revolution, which denounced the POUM and the anarchist organisation, Friends of Durruti, as 'agents provocateurs'.

Cheered on and organised by the Stalinists, the counter-revolution crushed the movement in Barcelona and effectively liquidated the Spanish revolution. All the horrors of Stalinist barbarity were now unleashed in the secret prisons, the use of torture, the assassination of the POUM leaders Nin and Andrade, and the similar deaths of anarchists and other workers, which Preston concedes.

The Barcelona events represented the high point of the revolution. The 'civil war' afterwards took on a purely military character. Accordingly, the masses became increasingly indifferent to its outcome.

Rather than follow the distortions of Professor Preston, it would be better if those interested in the Spanish Revolution read the works of Leon Trotsky (The Spanish Revolution, 1931-37) and Felix Morrow (Revolution and Counter-Revolution in Spain).


In this issue


Kick out the Tories! Corbyn can win

Kick out the Tories: For a Corbyn-led government

Tories out! Corbyn can win with socialist policies

Corbyn's manifesto: An important step in the right direction

TUSC confirms no candidates in June

Suprise rally with Jeremy Corbyn in Morley

Corbyn's alternative for young people

Corbyn could re-win Scotland with a socialist approach to independence


Socialist Party news and analysis

One in three borrow for rent, Corbyn pledges housing revolution

Tories escape election fraud charges

NHS cyberattack: budget cuts and spy agency to blame

31,000 more kids at risk of abuse or neglect


Socialist Party workplace news

PCS election: Increased majority for Democracy Alliance

Support Corbyn's call to renationalise Royal Mail

CWU walkout wins large concessions

Blackpool deserves better - anti-austerity rally

Unison must back Corbyn's pledge to abolish zero-hour contracts with action

Workplace news in brief


Socialist Party reports and campaigns

Socialist ideas are energising young people

Fund the fight against the Tories

Packed meeting sets out socialist policies needed to defeat the Tories


International socialist news and analysis

Palestinian prisoners on mass hunger strike protest

Brazil: General strike against Temer regime


Socialist Party comments and reviews

Barcelona May Days 1937 - a civil war within a civil war

Hull workers who fought in the Spanish Civil War

The Socialist inbox


 

Home   |   The Socialist 17 May 2017   |   Join the Socialist Party

Subscribe   |   Donate   |   Audio  |   PDF  |   ebook