Communist International, August 1936
The Development of the Democratic Revolution in Spain
In February, 1936, the People’s Front in Spain won a splendid victory. The Azaña government came to power. Two years of rule by a reactionary government had reduced Spain to a state of serious economic ruin. As compared with 1931, production in the textile industry had declined by 40 per cent, the cause being the sharp decline in the purchasing power of the people. In the mining industry tremendous reserves of coal, amounting to more than 300,000 tons, had accumulated, there being no market for them.
The reactionary government, in order to ensure itself a market for oranges, olives and other agricultural products in England and France, had allowed the Spanish market to be swamped by cheap goods, including coal from England and France. Many enterprises where big sums of foreign capital are invested make exclusive use of imported British coal, while there are no purchasers for Spanish coal – the result being that mountains of coal lie about on the pit tops. Former governments tried to compensate the losses of the mining industry by the granting of loans, but this only led to a further increase in the deficit in the state budget, which as it was was unfavorable enough. From the year 1932, the deficit in the state budget increased from 410,000,000 pesetas to 506,000,000 in 1934. As a result of this policy, imports increased while exports declined (the only increase, though insignificant, being the export of ore to Britain and Germany).
This is the situation which met the new Azaña government. In reply to the victory of the People’s Front, the bourgeoisie resorted to economic sabotage and acts of provocation such as the export of capital, the withdrawal of capital from the banks, and the undermining of the exchange rate of the peseta. The employers and big merchant firms are threatening a lockout if the government does not withdraw the law regarding the giving of three to six months’ compensation to those who were dismissed for participating in the battles of October, 1934. The big landowners, supported by the bankers, are also threatening a sort of land “lockout”. They have declared that they will not cultivate their lands this autumn, since cultivation will not pay for itself. The pretexts they resort to are numerous. The government, they say, is preparing an agrarian reform, but what price the landowners will receive for the land is not known. Or else, they say, the agricultural laborers are demanding the restoration of their former wage rates, arbitrarily reduced two years ago. Or else, they add, there is the law regarding the cultivation of the land which makes it obligatory to employ a definite number of workers. Basing themselves on all this, the landowners are cutting down cultivation of the fields.
The government and the working people are faced with the question as to how to break down this policy of economic sabotage, how to lead the economy of the country out of this blind alley, and how to help the masses of the people.
First and foremost, there is the decree regarding compensation according to which all those dismissed on political grounds after January 1, 1934, are given back their jobs, and receive financial compensation to the extent of three to six months’ wages.
Further, there is the general amnesty for all those arrested in October, 1934, and for all those awaiting trial and investigation for political offenses.
Catalonia has had restored her status (of broad autonomy) and is provided with democratic rights; the autonomy of Biscay will soon be recognized.
The state has already provided 87,000 peasants with land, together with their families approximately half a million people are thus affected. In addition a law was adopted by the Cortes on May 28, regarding the re-examination of the cases of all peasants expelled by the former government from the land they rented for the non-payment of rent. According to this new law, tens of thousands of peasant families will have the right to return to the land they rented formerly.
The social legislation of the first period of the Republic has been restored, the reactionary legislation partly annulled and democratic rights restored.
A section of the fascist leagues and kindred organizations such as, for instance, the Spanish Phalanx, the Requetes, etc., have been disarmed and disbanded. At the present time, 5,000 to 6,000 fascists are in jail.
A clean-up has been begun in the police force, the gendarmerie and the army to rid them of reactionary monarchist elements.
Finally, a juridical commission has been appointed to clear up the question as to who were responsible for the repressions of October, 1934; as a result of the work of this commission several prominent reactionaries have been arrested.
This, in general, is what the masses have received from the government which came into being as a result of the victory of the People s Front.
It is not difficult to understand that the reactionaries and fascists did not and will not retreat without a struggle. A tremendous growth of the strike movement is to be observed throughout the whole country. Economic and political strikes are taking place both in town and country. The employed and unemployed are taking joint action in the effort to secure work for the latter. Partial and general strikes take place, accompanied by the occupation of factories and coal mines, and in the villages by the mass seizure of estates by the peasants and agricultural workers.
The majority of these strikes conclude with the complete or partial victory of the workers. They all take place under the flag of unity – Socialist, Communist and Anarchist workers acting jointly in them. Strikebreaking has vanished. In those cases where the government considers it necessary to interfere, through its labor representatives, these latter, under the pressure of the workers, make decisions favorable to the workers. Thus it is that big victories are being achieved. For instance, the bus workers had only to declare a strike in Madrid for their wages to be increased from eight to fourteen pesetas. The rest days, which had been done away with, were restored to the extent of four per month, and in addition an eight-day holiday is now provided once per year at the expense of the employers. As a result of the strike of the seamen and dockers, which completely paralyzed the entire work of the port for eleven days, the strikers achieved official recognition of their organizations. In addition the workers have been granted the right to regulate the order of shifts, and they are allowed one month’s holiday per year.
In some cases the strikers seized the enterprises. This is how the tramway workers in Madrid behaved when their employers refused to pay them wages. Then the workers themselves took charge of the trams, painted them red and printed on the trams the three letters “U.H.P.”,* the fighting slogan of the Asturian workers, well known through the whole of Spain. This affair was settled by the intervention of the authorities and the municipal council. As a result, the demands of the workers were satisfied and, what is more, the tramway lines passed into the hands of a joint committee, composed of representatives of the municipality and of the workers’ committee.
* U.H.P. – “Union Hermanos Proletarios: = Brother Proletarians, Unite!”
The villages are the scene of the seizure of the land by the peasants. Although the Communist Party for the time being is refraining from advancing the slogan of the seizure of the land by the peasants as a general slogan, in those places where the local conditions permit and where the agricultural workers’ unions, along with the municipalities and peasants’ organizations, are proceeding to seize the land, the Party supports this movement and does everything possible to ensure that it is carried through in an organized fashion, avoiding conflicts, provoked by the enemies of the Republic and agents of the counter-revolution, between the peasants and the armed forces of the state.
The reactionaries are attempting to set the Catholic section of the population, among whom there are many peasants, against the other section of the population which is free of religious sentiments. To this end they are attempting to make use of the burning of churches.
What has been responsible for the burning of the churches? It cannot be explained simply by hatred for the churches felt by a section of the people who have freed themselves of religious prejudices. The fact is that the churches in Spain are organizational centers of the fascists and serve as stores for their weapons. In the overwhelming majority of cases, hidden stores of arms are discovered after the churches have been set aflre. It is from these stores that people who took action against the workers’ demonstrations received arms. It was in the churches that the fascists who murdered workers received sanctuary. The wrath of the masses against the churches (but not against the Catholics), which sided with reaction and fascism is understandable. There are numerous cases when it was not the people who directly set fire to the churches, but the forces of reaction which provoked the fire so as to give rise to discontent among the believers. The Communist Party is explaining to the masses that the burning of churches and monasteries only plays into the hands of counter-revolution.
Of tremendous importance both in securing the victory of the People’s Front at the elections of February 16, and in the further development of the movement, was the part played by the women, who by their indignation at the black reaction of the two previous years moved to the Left with remarkable rapidity and force. A very important point was the active participation of the Anarchists who, in spite of the objections of their leaders, took part in the elections, and overwhelmingly voted for the People’s Front. This movement of the masses to the Left is also to be observed among the elements which were formerly under the influence of the Rights. After the victory of the People’s Front, this Leftward movement has become still more marked.
For instance, in Granada and Cuenca, where the Rights originally achieved victory by making use of a number of violations of the law, they received only an insignificant number of votes at the re-elections. In Granada, the pressure of the masses resulted in a Communist deputy, not included in the list in the first round, being included in the list of candidates of the People’s Front. And although the candidature of this comrade was only put forward by a minority, the number of votes he received was beyond all expectations, and he was elected deputy. At the same time, great developments in the organization of the workers’ parties, trade unions and also the Left Republican Parties are to be observed.
Certain of the Rights are pretending that they have become reconciled with the present political situation, and are in agreement with parliamentary and more or less democratic forms of government. They are declaring for a republic of a “Christian-Social” character. The representative of this tendency is Jimenez Fernandez, leader of the C.E.D.A.,* who is now trying to put a stop to the increase in the influence of the Left Republicans. Others are preparing a new blow against the People’s Front and the republic, while not giving up their plans for a coup d’état. At the same time a certain increase in the strength of fascism is to be noted. The fascist type of monarchists have also increased their activity. The situation is becoming more and more tense, and is threatening to split the Popular Action Party.** For the time being the church has succeeded in preventing this split by reason of its tremendous influence inside the C.E.D.A.
* Confederación Económica de Agrarios, a reactionary landlord organization.
Parallel with the main line of development, namely, the growth of the influence of the parties and organizations in the People’s Front, the consolidation of the position of the Communist Party and the development of the popular anti-fascist movement, there is to be noted the rallying together of the forces of the most reactionary fascist and monarchist groupings (Spanish Phalanx, monarchists, the fascist wing of the Popular Action Party) which are preparing to deal a new and decisive blow at the People’s Front and the Republic.
Immediately after the October battles in 1934 when a furious riot of reaction and fascism began, the Communist Party told the masses that the united forces of the enemy must be countered by the front of all advanced forces, of all who are devoted to liberty. In March, 1935, Comrade Jose Diaz, General Secretary of the Communist Party, made a speech at a big meeting in Madrid where he very clearly outlined the specific forms which this People’s Front must take. This speech met with a tremendous response throughout the country.
After the Seventh Congress of the Comintern, which exerted exceptionally great influence on Spain, this idea of the People’s Front attracted the support of tremendous masses of people throughout the country. The campaign popularizing the decisions of the Seventh Congress in Spain was one of the most successful campaigns organized by the Communist Party. Throughout the country, in spite of the reaction raging at that time, we succeeded in gathering at our meetings thousands and sometimes more than 20,000 workers and peasants, who heartily endorsed the line indicated by Comrade Dimitroff at the Seventh Congress. The name of Dimitroff became most popular among the masses of people. Not only Communists, but also many Socialists engaged in popularizing the decisions of the Seventh Congress. It is interesting to note that the demagogic speeches of the reactionaries and fascists frequently led to the opposite results. Thus, for instance, during the election campaign they pasted huge posters in all the streets which read as follows:
“A vote for the People’s Front is a vote for Dimitroff. Vote for Spain and against Dimitroff.”
It is clear that the Spanish people, faced with such a dilemma, replied by voting for Dimitroff.
To the masses, Dimitroff is the embodiment of the victorious struggle against reaction and fascism. To the workers he is the standard- bearer of the idea of proletarian unity, the leader of the Communist International. To all the Left Republicans in Spain, Dimitroff means the salvation of the democracy won from the fascism which threatens it. All these people voted “for Dimitroff”, and the People’s Front was victorious in Spain and dealt a crushing blow at the fascist reactionaries. But this does not mean that the question of organizing the People’s Front did not meet with great obstacles in its path. Doubts arose among some of the Left Socialists as to the need for establishing the People’s Front.
Another tendency among the Socialists, headed by Prieto, approached the People’s Front as though it was a case of class collaboration, and adopted the same attitude as formerly, beginning from the moment when the Republic was declared in our country.
As regards the Republicans, when they decided to link up with the People’s Front, they understood this People’s Front to be a mere electoral coalition which must come to a conclusion after the election, after they came to power.
However, in the long run we succeeded in getting our comrades, the Left Socialists and also a considerable part of the Republicans, to alter their point of view as regards the People’s Front. In reality the People’s Front not only exists, but is growing and strengthening. In agreement with the Socialists, the leaders of the General Workers’ Union and the League of Youth, a decision was taken that the leaders of the workers’ organizations belonging to the People’s Front should come together periodically to discuss urgent questions of the struggle inside and outside Parliament. We have convinced the Republicans of the need for the Committee of the People’s Front coming together periodically with a view to discussing the plan of work, and to introducing various questions and bills into Parliament. At these meetings of the People’s Front, a preliminary study is made of all the bills being proposed by the government, and we try to bring about unanimity among all participating, so as to act unitedly in the Cortes against the reactionary bloc.
In the provinces, meetings of the People’s Front are not held with particular regularity. Usually they are called together when some important event takes place. Thus, for instance, a meeting of the People’s Front was called together in Cadiz, in order to discuss the fact that work had been completely stopped in the wharves at Echevarria. The representatives of the People’s Front arranged a joint meeting with the governor of the province, and decided to propose to the government that it confiscate this enterprise. The government examined this declaration and handed over the enterprise to be managed by the workers. The latter immediately renewed production without waiting for the government to appoint its representative and a director for the enterprise. In other places, the representatives of the People’s Front come together, discuss the poverty-stricken conditions of the workers, and amid general approval advance demands to the government or the municipality. All this indicates the further prospects of the People’s Front, its further consolidation, in spite of all existing obstacles.
Casares Quiroga, chairman of the Council of Ministers, made a declaration in Parliament in the name of the government, in which he pointed out that the government would in all its activity base itself on the masses and take all measures to bring about the speediest possible fulfillment of the program of the People’s Front. In relation to the question of action against the fascists, he declared the following:
“The period of the defense of the Republic has come to an end and now the period of the offensive has begun…. My Republican conscience is indignant at and condemns the fact that there are reactionary officials in the legal apparatus who when we hand over the enemies of the Republic to the Tribunal, set them at liberty…. As to the fascist organizations which occupy themselves with making onslaughts on the democratic republic, it is clear that the government cannot remain unaffected by this. In relation to fascism, the government is a fighting force.”
Will Casares Quiroga keep to his promises? Judging by the first measures adopted, even though with some inconsistency, we may reply that he will, with the aid of the People’s Front, with the aid of the people. Some measures have already been adopted in the army, the police force, the law courts, etc. The government declares that laws will be immediately presented to Parliament, in the spirit of the program of the People’s Front, laws such as would satisfy the demands of the peasants and unemployed, and that a progressive income tax will be introduced, etc. The adoption of these laws will serve still further to consolidate the People’s Front and the development of the popular democratic revolution in Spain.
The policy of the Communist Party is directed towards consolidating, strengthening and extending the People’s Front, and not towards breaking it up. The Communist Party is urging on the government and the republican parties which belong to this front to be as speedy as possible in satisfying the economic and political demands of the people, as formulated in the platform of the People’s Front. This is the best means of suppressing reaction and fascism. The consistent way in which our Party has operated the policy of the People’s Front has raised its authority high not only among the workers, but also in the ranks of the Left republican parties.
We do not leave out of account the fact that the present government is a Left Republican government. None the less, on the basis of facts, we see that at the given stage we can fight alongside of them to improve the conditions of living, the labor, culture and well-being of the masses of the people in our country and to ward off the blows of reaction end fascism.
The biggest factor in the development of the working class movement in Spain was the unification of the Unitary General Confederation of Labor (C.G.T.U.) and the General Workers’ Union (U.G.T.), which led to a colossal development of the activity of the trade union organizations in Spain. The overwhelming majority of the independent trade unions in existence linked up with the General Workers’ Union. After the unification had taken place, many unorganized workers joined the union. The joint U.G.T. has 745,000 industrial workers and 253,000 agricultural laborers in its ranks, and more than 200,000 workers who are in the process of being accepted as members of the union. Here are a few facts to show the growth of the trade union organizations. In Malaga prior to the merger between the U.G.T. and C.G.T.U., both we and the U.G.T. had a number of very weak trade union organizations, but now, after the merger there are more than 31,000 workers in the joint organizations, while the leadership belongs to the Communists and Left Socialists. In the province of Seville, the trade unions have doubled their membership, and have more than 50,000 members in the union, while the leadership is in the hands of the Socialists and Communists jointly, the President and Secretary of the Federation being Communists. In Asturias, apart from a few local unions which are led by Communists and Socialists, there are two secretaries – Communists – in the Executive Council of the Miners’ Union, co-opted as a result of the increase in our influence. A similar situation exists in Toledo, Cordova and Jaen, etc. Many workers who formerly, when the C.G.T.U. was separate, considered us splitters, now have faith in us and put us forward for leading positions in the trade unions.
The workers- have seen that the Communists pursue a firm policy in relation to the People’s Front and trade union unity. They have seen that we are the warmest defenders of the unified U.G.T., that we are seriously concerned about strengthening the trade unions, that we assist the remaining trade unions and unorganized workers in affiliating to the U.G.T.
The Congress of the National (Anarchist) Confederation of Labor (C.N.T.) which took place recently, was compelled to take account of the tremendous urge for unity existing among the majority of the members of the C.N.T. The Anarchist leaders, taking account of these sentiments of the workers, introduced a demagogic proposal about the need for establishing “alliances” for the exclusive purpose of “carrying on the revolutionary struggle”, and on condition that political parties are not accepted into the “alliances”. In harmony with this, the Congress of the C.N.T. demanded that the U.G.T. immediately break relations with the bourgeois parties and leave the People’s Front. Objectively, this “arch-revolutionary” decision is being used by the enemies of the people for their own ends.
The maneuver of the Anarchist leaders was not clearly understood by some of our comrades, especially those of the Mundo Obrero.* The Central Committee of our Party immediately introduced clarity into this question. This mistake is also the result of the fact that our Party, especially in recent times, has not been paying sufficient attention to the problem of anarchism as a whole. Especially now is it necessary to undertake an ideological struggle against anarchism, since this problem at the present time is linked up with the problem of the “alliances” at the very moment when there are prospects for their development. The establishment of alliances is very much hindered by the failure of some of our Socialist comrades to understand the real importance and purpose of this movement. After the recent declarations made by Comrade Largo Caballero about the need for establishing “alliances” (although he does not raise the question of the direct election of delegates in the factories), the question of organizing “alliances” throughout the country will, we presume, move far forward.
* The central organ of the Communist Party of Spain.
In the Socialist Party there are the following three trends: the Right current headed by Besteiro, the Center headed by Prieto, and the Left, headed by Francisco Largo Caballero.
The main forces of the Socialist Party which have the greatest support among the masses undoubtedly follow Largo Caballero. They are honestly striving to adopt a revolutionary position. And we are trying to help them to get their bearings in these problems. For it is precisely with the aid of these Lefts that we shall establish a single revolutionary party of the proletariat in Spain.
The Left wing in the Socialist Party facilitated and rendered possible the merging of the C.G.T.U. and the U.G.T. and also assisted in bringing about the fusion of the Communist and Socialist Leagues of Youth. The Left wing does not hide its sympathies for the Communist International. Its program also contains the idea of the establishment of a single party of the proletariat; it declares itself an adherent of the dictatorship of the proletariat and of the armed uprising for the seizure of power. At the last meeting of the Madrid organization of the Socialist Party, headed by Largo Caballero, a decision was adopted to introduce a resolution at the forthcoming congress of the Socialist Party to establish a united party of the proletariat on the basis of a discussion of the programs of the Communist and Socialist Parties, with a view to drawing up a final program for the united party.
Such is the position of the Left wing in the Socialist Party.
Although the Center tendency does not openly declare against trade union and political unity, there are elements in its ranks which lean more to the Right tendency which is openly against the Communists and against unification. Still, many Socialists of the Center could be won to the side of the revolution. This is why our Party is exerting all its efforts to ensure that the struggle within the Socialist Party should develop on a high political plane, and should not be reduced to a polemic of a personal character. For if the Centrists have hitherto maintained great influence over the revolutionary workers of Asturias, it is only because political problems which separate the Lefts from the Centrists in the Socialist Party have not been sufficiently explained to the Socialist workers. This is the reason why the workers of Asturias still continue to support the Centrist leadership, and keep at a distance from the Left tendency in the Socialist Party as represented by Largo Caballero.
The danger of a split in the Socialist Party has grown considerably. The entire press is now speaking of the possibility of a split in the Socialist Party, and of the establishment of a party of the Republican Radical-Socialist type.
A split in the Socialist Party would only lead to a weakening of the revolutionary forces. That is why we are striving to prevent a split, for the workers who support the Centrist leaders are in the main revolutionary, and can and should follow the Left wing of the Socialist Party, so as jointly with us to form a united party of the proletariat.
The fusion of the Communist and Socialist Leagues of Youth in Spain is a tremendous political event. As the result of discussions among the youth, and also contact with the Young Communist League, the Young Socialists carried on a struggle against Trotskyism as a counterrevolutionary current. The Madrid organization of the Young Socialist League condemned the factional activity of the group led by the renegade Bullejos and expelled him and some of his supporters from the Young Socialist League.
To show the growth of the organization of the youth, we quote the following data: at the time when the fusion took place, the Young Communist League had 50,682 members (prior to February 16, 1936, 14,000), while the Young Socialist League had 65,600 members (prior to February 16, 24,000). In the course of two or three weeks after the merger, the united organizations of the youth already had 140,000 members. This fact shows that the fears of those people who think that the revolutionary character of the youth movement may be lost or altered as the result of the merger are superfluous. Now it is not 50,000, but 140,000 members of the United League who are defending the revolutionary line of the Young Communist International. The first issue of the Juventud (Youth), the organ of the United League of Youth, was printed in 150,000 copies. The leaders and the press of the Socialist Youth heartily defend the Young Communist International and the Comintern, and occupy a clear and loyal position in relation to the problem of the united front, the Alliances, the People’s Front, the organization of a united party of the proletariat, and also the question of the character of our revolution.
The Workers’ and Peasants’ Militia* is in the stage of organization, and as yet there are no exact data about it. The most important thing at the present time is the re-organization of the former shock groups which belonged to the Socialist and Communist Leagues of Youth into a broad organization of the masses of the people. Predominant in the ranks of the Workers’ and Peasants’ Militia are the young people, many workers and a tremendous number of peasants. There are also in the Militia a great number of young people who belong to the Republican Left, while in Catalonia groups of the Estat Catala (national revolutionary party in Catalonia) are in the Militia. After the merger of the youth organizations, the Militia adopted a uniform like that formerly worn by the Young Communist League, namely, a blue shirt with a red tie. In actual fact the Militia exists throughout the country. The Militia defends the People’s Front organization against attacks and aggression by the fascists and reactionaries, and defends the liberties of the people, and the Republic.
What is the nature of the activity of the Militia? Here are a few characteristic facts:
In Madrid the fascists make a practice of shooting from automobiles at revolutionary workers and demonstrations. And so the Militia assists the government by placing guards at the entrances to and exits from the city to keep a check as to the occupants of automobiles and the nature of the luggage they carry with them. With the same end in view, groups of militiamen at night time parade working class quarters, and check up the documents of pedestrians. If they meet a fascist, then on the first occasion they notify the authorities of his address, but on the second occasion they turn him over to the authorities for detention. Whenever the forces of reaction and fascism have attempted to organize a coup d’état, to stir up rebellion among the troops, etc., the militia has been constantly on the streets and acted in such a way that there was not a single case of encounter or friction between the police on the one hand and the Militia on the other.
The Militia is now a well-disciplined force, and will, as time goes on, become one of the biggest mass organizations in our country.
The Struggle to Democratize the Army
A most serious problem facing the Communist Party of Spain is that of work in the army, since while our work in the army is still weak, the forces of reaction and fascism which constantly organize conspiracies against the republic and hatch plots against the state are still concentrated there.
It is true that in the recent period, a certain turn in favor of the People’s Front and our Party can be noted among the officers. The violence of the fascists, as for example the murder of Captain Faraudo, has hastened this process. The funeral of this captain was turned into a real demonstration of their anti-fascist feelings by the soldiers and officers of the Madrid garrison. The speech made by the representative of our Party at this funeral created a tremendous impression on the army men. The speaker emphasized the point that the Communists are not at all hostile either to the soldiers or to the army itself, that we are not striving to undermine discipline, but that all we want is to purge the army of fascists and reactionaries who murder both working people as well as military men of anti-fascist sentiments, merely because these latter honor the will of the people and remain true to the republic.
Characteristic of the sentiments prevailing among the soldiers was the event in Alcala de Anares, where reactionary officers attempted to incite the soldiers to mutiny, who not only did not obey the orders of the officers but reported these efforts of incitement to insurrection.
We are striving to prevail on the government completely to purge the army of all reactionary and fascist elements, and of the considerable number of monarchists who hold commanding posts in the army. We are striving by energetic work to create a powerful republican and anti-fascist movement within the army for the purpose of democratizing it. The army must serve the interests of the working people and not of the reactionaries, as has been the case up to the present time.
After the temporary defeat of October, 1934, our Party succeeded in regrouping its forces without being seriously weakened. We suffered heavy losses during the uprising and after it, as a result of the repression. But on the whole, our cadres were saved throughout the country, with the exception of Asturias, where our Party suffered very great sacrifices.
By the struggle carried on by the new leadership of the Party to eliminate all remnants of sectarianism; by the struggle it wages in creating the People’s Front; by the exceptional activity of the entire Party during the days of the darkest reaction; and by the work we did towards unifying the forces of the proletariat, the workers, and particularly the Socialist workers, became convinced that our Party knows what it wants and where it is going. Our Party has shown itself to be a monolithic Party organizationally and ideologically, a fact which has greatly increased its influence over the masses. Thanks to the correctness of its tactics, substantiated by the results of the elections of February 16, the masses of the people consider the Party to be the initiator of the victory over reaction and fascism. Our Party is a big factor in the political life of the country. For the first time the Party has real representation at its disposal in Parliament. The activity of the seventeen Communist Deputies in the Cortes is facilitating the growth of the popularity and authority of the Party. Similar successes are being achieved by our representatives in the city councils. The Communist Councillors are the most popular people throughout Spain. They know how to approach what appear to be the most complex problems and to solve them. Here, for example, is the way our comrades acted in the case of the “land sabotage” when the big landowners ceased cultivation of the land, depriving the agricultural laborers of work. Our comrades invited the representatives of both the landowners and the agricultural workers to the Municipal Hall. If they could not reach an agreement during the first exchange of opinions, then our comrades would place the question in this way: “You shall not leave the building of the City Council until you carry out a decision which will be acceptable to the workers.”
This is one of the thousands of various methods of work used by our comrades, who carry on a great amount of work to improve sanitary conditions in the working class districts, to secure the distribution of relief during strikes, the repairing of workers’ houses, etc.
The popularity and the influence of the Party can be excellently demonstrated by figures. Prior to the elections of February 16, our Party had 20,000 members, while at the present time it has 83,967 members. This is still not a big figure, but then our Party has only just begun to be transformed into a big mass party. We set ourselves the task of bringing the numerical strength of the Party up to 100,000 by the time of the opening of our Party Congress, and this figure will undoubtedly be exceeded.
The largest influx of new members into the ranks of our Party is taking place in the agricultural districts of our country, and in the cities of the semi-industrial type, such as Malaga, Seville, Jaen, Valencia, Badajos, etc., and in the mining centers as, for example, in Asturias, and to a lesser extent, in Biscay. New members are also joining our Party directly in the large enterprises, including the railways. The majority of the new members are workers organized in the U.G.T., while only a minority are unorganized. The growth of the Communist Party at the expense of the Socialists constitutes a comparatively small percentage, as the Communist Party is not carrying on a special campaign to draw the members of the Left wing of the Socialist Party into its ranks. The increase in the membership of our Party from among the members of the trade unions affiliated to the C.N.T. is still insufficient, a fact which testifies to the general weakness of our work in Catalonia.
The important question of training these new members is one facing our Party at the present moment. This question deserves all the more attention since it concerns the question of the lack of cadres. Up to the present moment we have not carried on any regular work to train new members and to set up cadres. There is a decision of the Party periodically to call meetings of active Party members for the exchange of experiences in Party work and methods of work, taking into consideration the fact that the new members of the Party came to us from organizations whose methods of work differ sharply from ours.
Our work in Catalonia deserves the greatest amount of self-criticism. Here the successes of the Party are too insignificant. The membership of the Communist Party of Catalonia is not more than 2,000. It is precisely in Catalonia and Biscay – the basic industrial districts of Spain – where the Party is growing at an exceedingly slow pace, yet the people of Catalonia have elected a number of our comrades to leading positions in the trade unions. This fact shows that while they have confidence in the Communists as individuals, the Party as such has not been able organizationally to cover them and to consolidate its influence among them. It is true that the situation in Catalonia is more complicated than in any other place in Spain. There are ten or twelve organizations of a nationalist type, two Socialist organizations, an Anarchist and counter-revolutionary Trotskyist groupings. And, of course, the factional cancer of the past has made the growth of our Party in Catalonia more difficult. But this is only one reason. The basic mistake lies in the fact that the national question, the question of our national policy, has not been put forward correctly.
Now conditions are favorable for growth of the revolutionary movement in Catalonia. Such parties as the Union of Socialists of Catalonia, the Socialist Party and the Proletarian Party of Catalonia, have agreed to merge with the Communist Party on the basis of our general line and tactics, and to join in principle with the Communist International. We are aiming towards creating a single mass Workers’ Party of Catalonia by uniting the Communist Party with the above mentioned organizations, while at the same time striving to ensure cooperation with the peasants’ union (Rabassaires).
Two forces are struggling against each other in Spain – the force of fascism and the forces of the anti-fascist People’s Front – revolution and counter-revolution. The outcome of this struggle has not yet been decided. At the present time we occupy a much more advantageous position than the enemies of the people. We can come out of this struggle victorious. The Party is growing rapidly. But the leadership of the Party does not forget that the successes which have been achieved are not yet finally consolidated. At the present time we are not putting forward the transition from the completion of the bourgeois-democratic revolution to the socialist revolution, for the establishment of the proletarian dictatorship, as the immediate task. But we aim at completing and carrying to its conclusion the people’s democratic revolution. This is the basic task of the Spanish people at the present moment.
The weapons of victory are in our hands. The Communist Party of Spain sets itself as the main and most pressing immediate task at the present moment – the achievement of the complete victory of the democratic and revolutionary forces over fascism and counter-revolution, and by operating measures of an economic and political character which lead along the path towards the completion of the democratic revolution, to isolate the fascists from the masses of peasants and urban petty bourgeoisie on whom they have based themselves up to the present time; to disorganize the forces of fascism, to undermine the material base of the counter-revolution, and to strengthen the position of the proletariat and its allies. Will we be able to solve these tasks, to solve the questions which face the proletariat and the people as a whole? The basic condition for the successful solution of these tasks lies in strengthening to the utmost and in further developing the struggle of the People’s Front against fascism and counter-revolution, and in defense of the revolution and the republic. We are carrying out a clear line, and understand our aims – we know what we want and where we are going. In our struggle we are inspired by the teachings of Marx, Engels, Lenin and Stalin.
The Fifth Congress of the Communist Party of Spain, which is called for August of this year, will sum up the results, and set the perspectives of the struggle against fascism and the counter-revolution, for the political unity of the proletariat, and for the victorious development of the revolution in Spain.