Category Archives: Third International (Comintern)

Thoughts About the Class Roots of Counter-Revolution in the Territory of the Soviet Union

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Alexei Danko

I will not try to give a solid and complete answer to the question posed above given the shortness of this article and the lack of proper preparation. However, I feel obliged to at least draw the attention of revolutionary proletarians to the need to study this question deeply and scientifically for the benefit of the future class struggle of the Russian and international proletariat. Moreover, if we call ourselves Marxists we should not ‘close our eyes to reality’, regardless of how bitter and tough this truth may be for us. We need to clarify the truth and its fundamental essence among the proletarians so that the workers are not deceived by the tricks of the bourgeoisie. It is necessary to explain the essence scientifically from the point of view of dialectical and historical materialism so that the working class can see itself as the maker of historical progress and so that it does not leave all the class responsibility to the vanguard or its leaders.

In the conditions of the bourgeois system the working class is the progressive class, which develops the revolutionary class struggle against the reactionary class of capitalists. The Communist Party is essentially the political vanguard, the most advanced section of the working class. In the process of class struggle political leaders arise, i.e. the cadre who are best prepared and capable for revolutionary struggle, ‘the best of the best’ of a small group of professional revolutionaries.

In correspondence to the Marxist-Leninist teachings, the leading force of the revolution is the most advanced class in the concrete stage of historical development, which opposes the decadent system and the class that embodies it. The role of the individual in the process of revolutionary struggle (including any political leader) is undoubtedly great, but can become determining only in particularly tense moments of the struggle, i.e. temporarily.

Therefore it would be fundamentally wrong to state that the dictatorship of the proletariat in the Soviet Union depended mainly on the leadership and political activity of comrade Stalin, and that the counter-revolution in the country after the death of comrade Stalin was successful as a result of a conspiracy and the will of a bunch of Soviet revisionists who took over political power (the so-called ‘Khrushchevites’).

During the period of socialism, after the proletarian revolution and the suppression of the open class resistance of the bourgeoisie and the most obvious class enemies, for a long time there remain non-antagonistic, non-belligerent classes and social strata, as well as remnants of capitalism and certain social inequalities. As a result of this it is natural that under socialism the class struggle continues to exist in different manifestations and forms and, given certain negative class conditions, counter-revolution may become a real threat. The main revolutionary force capable of preventing counter-revolutionary threats or suppressing counter-revolutionary activities, as before, is the working class led by its political vanguard – the communist party. Therefore the most important task of the party is to establish a tight and relentless control over the purity of its members and to develop a continuous ideological struggle against anti-proletarian ideologies and political ‘teachings’ – a tenacious dictatorship against any counter-revolutionary expression and for a general political party line aimed at the liquidation of remnants of capitalism.

The essence of the existence of the party consists in that it becomes the brains of the working class and essentially becomes a monolithic organism together with the working class. If it is isolated from the working class, the Communist party ceases to be its political vanguard and necessarily degenerates from the class point of view; the party should be able to predict the social-class issues in society, to understand them in a timely manner and to recommend to the working class the most effective methods to ‘cure them’.

The petty-bourgeois ideology and its consolidation in society is particularly dangerous for the dictatorship of the proletariat. The intelligentsia (including officers of the army and whatever repressive organs) and the peasantry are objectively massive conductors of the petty-bourgeois psychology. The influence of petty-bourgeois ideology on the working class is also significant, since the working class to a sufficiently large degree includes recruits from the petty-bourgeoisie and it is not separated from it by a ‘Chinese Wall’. At the time of the Great Patriotic War (most commonly known as the Second World War, editor’s note) the working class suffered tremendous losses especially in terms of old party cadre who had experience in the class struggle and a stable class psychology. They were replaced by youths without sufficient class solidity.

The proletarian ideology and the petty-bourgeois ideology express different class interests. Therefore it is necessary to have a very clear conception about the differences between the interests of the petty-bourgeoisie and the interests of the working class

It is the petty-bourgeois masses who reproduce bourgeois aspirations in socialist society and who engender a new bourgeoisie. To neglect the struggle against the petty-bourgeois ideology and to lose revolutionary awareness of this cowardly enemy of the proletariat may become a mortal danger for the interests of the proletarian revolution and socialism.

Under capitalism a certain fraction of the petty-bourgeoisie becomes an active ally of the proletariat, especially when the contradictions between large capital and that of the petty owner deepen. Under socialism the petty-bourgeoisie, in conformity to its class essence and its class ambiguity, may become a dangerous counter-revolutionary force when the struggle against the petty-bourgeois ideology by the communist party and the working class loses momentum. The petty-bourgeoisie then goes on the offensive when opportunities for personal profiteering exist and when certain goods or services become scarce. The petty-bourgeois easily change their class attitude depending on the situation and due to the selfish class interests of the petty owners since they function only according to considerations of the individual or family, purely animal instincts and they cannot think about social life in perspective, in global terms. The attitude and political activity of the petty-bourgeoisie often even becomes irresponsible and rather aggressive.

The realisation of petty-bourgeois aspirations under socialism happens through the necessary preservation of certain elements of capitalism and the application of the ‘bourgeois right’, which it is impossible to liquidate in a short period of time. For instance, take the distribution according to labour, which necessarily results in income differentiation and the existence of significant differences between mental and manual labour and between the city and the countryside. A concrete expression and source of petty-bourgeois aspirations are the existence of private peasant plots, private real estate and dachas, goods of excessive luxury, the special status of managerial and intellectual labour, the existence of commodity-money relations in the sphere of distribution of products, commodities and services of broad demand and so forth. These elements can only be eliminated by means of gradual liquidation of ‘bourgeois right’ in the process of the progressive development of the material and technical basis of socialism. Only in this way can the conditions which reproduce the petty-bourgeois system with all its negative manifestations be liquidated.

The forms of class struggle are diverse: from the ideological struggle to armed struggle including civil war. Marxists acknowledge all forms of class struggle. In order to secure victory in the class struggle as a whole, Leninist Bolsheviks should first attain victory in the ideological struggle. At that time they became victorious. Nevertheless the ideological struggle continued. The ideological struggle between petty-bourgeois ideology, which has a multiplicity of forms, and proletarian ideology continued in different forms during the years of proletarian socialism: at times it weakened; at times it became more prominent. The thesis of comrade Stalin about the continuation of the class struggle in the process of construction of socialism is convincingly confirmed by real practice, by real life, since the only criterion of truth is practice.

Marxism-Leninism teaches that the pre-conditions for the change of one social system to another develop within society long before the revolutionary events. I am convinced that this fundamental thesis also applied to the case of counter-revolution in the socialist country.

Since we are dealing here with the victory of counter-revolution and the defeat of the dictatorship of the proletariat in the USSR, therefore in the Soviet Union during the post-war period decisive changes in the correlation of class forces took place, not in favor of the proletarian forces, especially within the Bolshevik party. As a result of the class struggle these anti-proletarian forces took over. No other interpretation here is possible if we are to stick to the science of classes and class struggle.

The invasion by fascist Germany of the socialist Soviet Union should not be considered in a primitive fashion, from the point of view of a regular aggression of one country against another. In this deadly conflict two irreconcilable class forces faced each other: the most reactionary forces of capitalism siding with fascist Germany and the progressive communist forces represented by the Soviet Union, which made a breakthrough in the future of world civilisation and was dangerous for capitalism as a whole. While paying the price of countless victims and sacrifices, the Soviet people led by the Bolshevik party defended the independence of the proletarian state, expelled the aggressor from the territory of its socialist country and crushed the fascist beast in its own lair. The working class of the Soviet Union ferociously defended its revolutionary conquests against the same reactionary forces of world capital. However, at the same time the class enemy managed to inflict a mortal wound on the Bolshevik party and the dictatorship of the proletariat in the Soviet Union from which later the power of the working class and proletarian socialism died in the USSR.

The Bolshevik party was the vanguard of the working class of the Soviet Union not only as a result of its specific political position. The Bolshevik party continuously directed its best party cadre to the most difficult and responsible sections of practical work, where they outstandingly demonstrated the high level of authority and respect enjoyed by party members among non-party comrades due to success in concrete practical deeds. In the years of the Great Patriotic War the Bolshevik party directed its best party cadre and the best representatives of the working class to the hardest sections of the front and the rear. The communists were the first to enter battle and the first to die. Therefore the losses among party cadre were extremely severe, especially during the first years of the war. However, the party membership grew, its ranks filled to a great degree by heroes of the front since heroism in the front was not only a mass phenomenon but an obvious one and the communists were the best of those heroes. Therefore the title of communist became a special distinction.

The fact that the overwhelming majority of new party cadre did not have party and political experience helped to dilute the class content of its ranks. As a result of this development especially during the years of the war, the party suffered a significant qualitative damage in the political sense of the word. Nevertheless, this should not be considered an error or lack of political foresight by the Bolshevik party. During the war the fate of the proletarian state was being decided at the front. Therefore the most important political goal, slogan and task at the time was: EVERYTHING FOR VICTORY. All the politics and life of the Bolsheviks were devoted to the latter. Therefore, by virtue of this the heroes of the front were not only heroes but were the political vanguard in the most advanced aspect of the practice of the class struggle, i.e. they essentially made up the base of the party under those conditions. This completely conformed to the politics of the party and the class demands of the war period, but it had within itself the threat of petty-bourgeois degeneration of the party ranks especially due to peasants and intellectuals.

During wartime the consciousness of the peasant masses was dominated by the psychology of the peasant-labourer. Why? The proletarian revolution and the success of socialism greatly improved the standards of living of the peasantry. The proletarian power provided the peasants with land and the necessary means, modern agricultural technique under preferential conditions through the creation of the machine-tractor stations (MTS), support in case of poor crops, many social-cultural benefits, it liberated the peasantry from the dangers of chaotic market relations when realising their production, etc. Under the tsars, the peasants could not even dream about such things. Therefore soldiers from peasant background displayed great heroism in the front lines, defending their class interests, and through this, the defence of the proletarian revolution and the proletarian state from the belligerence of the fascist invaders. Because of this the communist psychology dominated in the consciousness of the peasant-labourer during the years of the war, compelling many peasants to join the Bolshevik party, which defended the interests of the peasantry at the cost of many lives of the best children of the party.

In the post-war period the situation fundamentally changed. Having returned from the front, the peasantry faced significant material difficulties. The kolkhozes, many of which were destroyed during the war, could barely fulfill the state contracts. Industry faced the need to accommodate to the requirements of peaceful times and could not provide the peasants with the necessary industrial goods and technique rapidly enough, while at the same it justly demanded that the peasants increase the production of food and agricultural products. The private plots of peasants were not productive enough; food, clothing and many other necessary means for a modest family life were scarce. Those who fought in the front had already suffered severe scarcity, enjoyed war glory and many dreamed of a better life. This impelled the peasantry to focus on its own material interests,and that included taking advantage of the glory earned in the war and the party membership. These factors encouraged the peasantry to develop strong elements of private thinking in their consciousness. However, as a result of the duality of the peasants’ psychology, the psychology of the petty owner and the psychology of the labourer, most of the peasant masses trusted the Bolshevik party with regard to the construction of communism since they were already convinced of the economic benefits brought by socialism. On the other hand, with regard to questions of everyday life and activity, the peasants as a rule gave priority to their private interests over the interests of society.

Such is the dialectics of the psychology of the peasant, a petty owner and a labourer at the same time. This psychology was inherited and further propagated even more aggressively by city inhabitants originally coming from the peasantry.

To defend the party ranks from the dangerous contaminations from elements with the psychology of the petty owner was already a very complicated task. Firstly, such elements already had become a large section of the party. Secondly, these elements had war achievements in serving the socialist Fatherland and this prevented other comrades from exposing them.

The intellectuals, by virtue of their social position, always serve the dominating class regardless of the social system.

Under capitalism the intellectuals, on the one hand also relate to the exploited class. On the other hand, the intellectuals, as a result of their social functions, participate in the accomplishment of the exploitation of the workers and peasants, since it is though the intellectuals that the capitalist class exerts and regulates its direct domination, i.e. the intellectuals are used as tools for the exploitation of the workers and peasants.

Under socialism the intellectuals are bound to execute the will of the dictatorship of the proletariat. Many intellectuals see themselves unwillingly forced to offer such a ‘service’, since they have to serve the interests of the workers and peasants whom the intellectuals had traditionally considered as lower classes. The standard of living of the intellectuals depends on their social position in society. This explains the tendency of the intellectuals to indulge in such social illnesses as careerism, bureaucratism, idealism, overestimation of their social role and the will to have a special position in society. To a great degree this explains the tendency of the intellectuals to join the Bolshevik party. As a result of their social-class specifics, the duality of their class position, the intellectuals are easy targets for petty-bourgeois influence and decomposition.

It is common to the intellectuals and peasants, who are influenced by individualism, to make the country’s leadership responsible for the organization of social life and the party.

In the post-war period the Bolshevik party was dangerously infiltrated by such petty-bourgeois elements.

It is necessary to note that ‘if we do not close our eyes to reality we must admit that at the present time the proletarian policy of the Party is not determined by the character of its membership, but by the enormous undivided prestige enjoyed by the small group which might be called the Old Guard of the Party. A slight conflict within this group will be enough, if not to destroy this prestige, at all events to weaken the group to such a degree as to rob it of its power to determine policy’ (V.I. Lenin Collected Works, 4th English Edition, Progress Publishers, Moscow, 1966, volume 33, page 257).

As a result of the class struggle during the war and in the post-war period this ‘small group … of the Old Guard of the Party’ also suffered great losses and became even smaller and after the death of Stalin ‘slight conflicts within this group’ weakened it to the extent that it did not have the ‘power to determine policy.’

The war and the severe military consequences inflicted tremendous losses on the Soviet Union not only from the class, material point of view and in terms of population, but also strengthened a number of dangerous tendencies for the dictatorship of the proletariat.

The war period demanded that the economy re-direct the focus of the development of the forces of production and the efforts of all of society on the needs of the struggle against the fascist aggression. In the course of accomplishing this goal the production relations also suffered changes toward a strictly top-down structure. This shift took place not only in the organisation of the economy but in all fields of social life including politics. The need to liquidate the most severe consequences of the war also required a speedy economic restoration and the development of the forces of production under a regime of general mobilisation.

The development of production relations seriously lagged behind the development of the forces of production as a result of these extreme measures and conditions, and not only as a result of the inertia so characteristic of production relations in general.

Under the pressure and the disguise of these and other adverse conditions the functions of the dictatorship of the proletariat and the development of proletarian democracy were significantly hampered. The dictatorship of the proletariat was then applied from top to bottom, mostly as a result of the activity and authority of the leading organs of the Bolshevik party, and the development of proletarian democracy in society was basically reduced to endorsing the government and party decisions produced at the top.

The strictly top-down character of the management of economic and social life seriously weakened the class control from below of the activity of the apparatus and the intellectual elite. This lack of control from below led to the social alienation and petty-bourgeois decomposition of the apparatus. As a result, the petty-bourgeois interests and actions of the managers and intellectual elites began to diverge from the class interests of the proletariat.

The situation worsened from the class-political point of view due to the replacement of managerial cadre as the result of personnel losses during the war. The replacements came mostly from demobilised army cadre and specialists of war industry who traditionally, in virtue of the organisational specifics of their previous activity, resisted the development of proletarian democracy in production and social relations, and even most probably did not understand the danger to the dictatorship of the proletariat and socialism concealed in their actions.

The class and social-economic phenomena described above represented a substantial danger for the dictatorship of the proletariat, but while Stalin was alive the proletarian forces within the party managed to maintain the political situation under control in the party and in society. How can this be explained?

The most honest and deepest trust of the Soviet people towards the Bolshevik party and the proletarian power was engendered by real life and was tested to death during the years of the war. It was specifically the monolithic class unity of the Bolshevik party and the working class in alliance with the labouring masses (non-party members) of the Soviet Union that was one of the most determining factors that made possible the successful and rapid development of practical life of the socialist society. Therefore it is disturbing and laughable when today bourgeois ideologists claim that the Bolsheviks and their leadership allegedly usurped power and remained in power with the help of mass violence and terror. Such ignorant garbage and irreverent slanders would be denied by even the most vicious enemy of the Bolsheviks and the dictatorship of the proletariat.

When we say Lenin we mean the party. By analogy, the name of Stalin incorporated the dictatorship of the proletariat in the Soviet Union during the so-called Stalinist period. This was related not only to Stalin’s greatest contributions to the Bolshevik party and the working class. This phenomenon also has a social-class explanation. The victory of the proletarian revolution and the tremendous success of socialism during the dictatorship of the proletariat under the leadership of the Bolshevik party created a strong morale among the masses and their hopes for a bright future. The dreams of a better life turned into reality in a planned and rapid fashion. The petty-bourgeois consciousness, first of all of the peasants and the intellectuals, was used to link the good and the bad in their lives, victory or defeat, with the name of a given leader and not with the politics of the leading class; in the concrete historical case we are dealing with the dictatorship of the proletariat led by the Bolshevik party. This way it was easier for the petty-bourgeois consciousness to understand, and the successes of the country were indeed legendary. Therefore while Stalin was alive, through such manifestations, the influence of the proletarian nucleus in the party was further strengthened by the authority of the party attained during the epoch of the dictatorship of the proletariat. The Marxist-Leninist line of the party did not suffer changes and the party formally displayed class unity among its members; this all corresponded to the post-war period while comrade Stalin was still alive.

After the death of comrade Stalin the petty-bourgeois forces within the party (the Soviet revisionists, the so-called ‘Khrushchevites’) worked hard to seize the key party positions, since to achieve control in the party structures gave them the chance to take over political power and ideological control. However, in order to change the politics of the CPSU towards the opposite class direction, i.e. to bring it in correspondence with the real power, it was necessary to discredit the Stalinist dictatorship of the proletariat and to isolate it from the Leninist party of the Bolsheviks,even though the Stalinist dictatorship of the proletariat solidly followed the Leninist party of the Bolsheviks.

It was because of this that the 20th Congress of the CPSU had to replace the class dictatorship of the proletariat and the vanguard role of the Bolshevik party with the ‘cult of personality of Stalin’, it had to replace the class struggle with the unilateral dictate of the leader and to slander his name after his death. This completely contradicts Marxism-Leninism as a science of classes and class struggle and the whole world practice of class struggle, but it is easily comprehended by primitive petty-bourgeois consciousness.

The 20th Congress of the CPSU should be considered as the date that formally marks the defeat of the dictatorship of the proletariat in the USSR and the execution of a counter-revolutionary coup.

The counterrevolution did not hesitate to resort to slanders, intrigues, terror and threats to use the armed forces directly in order to attain power.

It is true that not all the party leaders agreed with the concrete actions of the class enemy. In particular Malenkov, Kaganovich, Molotov, Shepilov and other party members tried to remove Khrushchev after a while. But their actions were not reflected in the class struggle and were more like a struggle for power among the high party echelons, as if their actions had nothing to do with the class struggle and the class enemy and were a result of private organisational inner-party discussions. It is due to this that their ‘struggle’ did not become an example of revolutionary class struggle. Khrushchev and his supporters declared this group ‘anti-party’ and expelled them from the party leadership in their entirety.

Power in the territory of the Soviet Union fell completely into the hands of the new class forces forged in the petty-bourgeois medium who defeated the dictatorship of the proletariat in the class struggle.

These were communists only in words, but capitalists in practice. The new party leadership was obliged, above all, to transform the party documents according to the new essence of power and the real situation in society. Fundamental class concepts such as the ‘dictatorship of the proletariat’, ‘class struggle’, the ‘political vanguard of the working class’ and other concepts which make up the basics of the Marxist-Leninist teachings simply disappeared. At the same time theses about the ‘complete and final victory of socialism in the USSR’ were introduced, which pointed without proof to the impossibility of restoring capitalism and excluded the possibility of class struggle, about the ‘party of the whole people’, etc. In other words, Marxism-Leninism was subject to open and conscientious petty-bourgeois revision. However, the external attributes of the CPSU remained untouched; the party preserved its communist name; the state was still called socialist and the party propaganda still called for loyalty to Marxism-Leninism. This was also consistent with the psychology of the rank-and-file Soviet petty-bourgeois of that time. The revision of Marxism-Leninism also had another hidden aspect: the revisionists concealed their true (bourgeois) selves using Lenin.

Lenin was transformed by them into an icon for mass oration, which was harmless for the new power, and Marxism-Leninism was transformed into a petty-bourgeois pseudo-science under the excuse of ‘creative development’ and ceased to inspire revolutionary action among the working class and the communists.

The representatives of the petty-bourgeois forces, who seized power and destroyed the dictatorship of the proletariat, took over all the socialised means of production; therefore de facto they became corporate owners, i.e. capitalists. From this point on we are dealing here with a bourgeois state and the dictatorship of the bourgeoisie.

Now the corporate capitalist, by virtue of the main economic law of capitalism, the law of maximum profit, should distribute the means of production accordingly. These class aspirations force changes in the economic basis at all levels with respect to ownership of the means of productions and the corresponding state policies.

A fundamental example of such transformation in the basis is the decision to liquidate the machine-tractor stations (MTS). The liquidation of the MTS represents the liquidation of social property of the means of production in the countryside, the return to group property of the machine stations and their inclusion in the system of commodity-money relations. That is a fundamental turning point in the essence of the economic relations between industry and the countryside towards capitalist relations.

The dictatorship of the proletariat or the dictatorship of the bourgeoisie determines the existence of socialism or capitalism; there is no intermediate step between them.

Leningrad

Published in Proletarskaya Gazeta, No. 26

Source

 

V.I. Lenin, J.V. Stalin and the Comintern on Alliance with the Bourgeoisie in Colonial-Type Countries

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“The Communist International must enter into a temporary alliance with bourgeois democracy in the colonial and backward countries, but should not merge with it, and should under all circumstances uphold the independence of the proletarian movement even if it is in its most embryonic form…”

V.I. Lenin, “Draft Thesis on National and Colonial Questions for the Second Congress of the Communist International”

“Hence the task of the communist elements in the colonial countries is to link up with the revolutionary elements of the bourgeoisie, and above all with the peasantry, against the bloc of imperialism and the compromising elements of “their own” bourgeoisie, in order, under the leadership of the proletariat, to wage a genuinely revolutionary struggle for liberation from imperialism.”

– J.V. Stalin,”The Results of the Work of the Fourteenth Conference of the R.C.P.(B.)”

“The second deviation lies in an over-estimation of the revolutionary potentialities of the liberation movement and in an under-estimation of the role of an alliance between the working class and the revolutionary bourgeoisie against imperialism. It seems to me that the Communists in Java, who not long ago mistakenly put forward the slogan of Soviet power for their country, arc suffering from this deviation. That is a deviation to the Left, and it is fraught with the danger of the Communist Party becoming divorced from the masses and converted into a sect. A determined struggle against that deviation is an essential condition for the training of real revolutionary cadres for the colonies and dependent countries of the East.”

J.V. Stalin, “The Political Tasks of the University of the Peoples of the East”

“Temporary cooperation is permissible, and in certain circumstances even a temporary alliance, between the Communist Party and the national-revolutionary movement, provided that the latter is a genuine revolutionary movement, that it genuinely struggles against the ruling power, and that its representatives do not hamper the Communists in their work.”

Sixth Congress, Communist International: Theses on the Revolutionary Movement in Colonial and Semi-Colonial Countries (September 1928), in: Jane Degras (Ed.): ‘The Communist International: 1919-1943: Documents Volume 2; London; 1971; p. 542.

“[At a certain point in the revolution], the proletariat pushes aside the national bourgeoisie, consolidates its hegemony and assumes the lead of the vast masses of the working people in town and country, in order to overcome the resistance of the national bourgeoisie, secure the complete victory of the bourgeois-democratic revolution, and then gradually convert it into a socialist revolution, with all the consequences following from that.”

– J.V. Stalin, “Questions of the Chinese Revolution”

“Basic factors determining the character of the Chinese revolution:

a) the semi-colonial status of China and the financial and economic domination of imperialism;

b) the oppression of feudal survivals, aggravated by the oppression of militarism and bureaucracy;

c) the growing revolutionary struggle of the vast masses of the workers and peasants against feudal and bureaucratic oppression, against militarism, and against imperialism;

d) the political weakness of the national bourgeoisie, its dependence on imperialism, its fear of the sweep of the revolutionary movement;

e) the growing revolutionary activity of the proletariat, its mounting prestige among the vast masses of the working people;

f) the existence of a proletarian dictatorship in the neighbourhood of China.

Hence, two paths for the development of events in China:

either the national bourgeoisie smashes the proletariat, makes a deal with imperialism and together with it launches a campaign against the revolution in order to end the latter by establishing the rule of capitalism;

or the proletariat pushes aside the national bourgeoisie, consolidates its hegemony and assumes the lead of the vast masses of the working people in town and country, in order to overcome the resistance of the national bourgeoisie, secure the complete victory of the bourgeois-democratic revolution, and then gradually convert it into a socialist revolution, with all the consequences following from that.

One or the other.”

J. V. Stalin, “Questions of the Chinese Revolution”

“In the first period of the Chinese revolution,…the national bourgeoisie (not the compradors) sided with the revolution…Chiang Kai-shek’s coup marks the desertion of the national bourgeoisie from the revolution.”

– J.V. Stalin, “Questions of the Chinese Revolution”

Communist International: Towards the Fifth Congress of the Communist Party of Spain

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Communist International, August 1936

The Development of the Democratic Revolution in Spain

By J. HernandezI. Economic Sabotage by the Big Bourgeoisie and Landowners

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.

What Have the Masses of the People Received Following the Elections of February 16?

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.

** Acción Popular, a fascist party headed by Gil Robles.

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.

The Development of the People’s Front

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.

Our Relations with the Government

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 Struggle for Trade Union Unity

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.

The Situation in the Socialist Party

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 Experiences of the United Organizations of the Youth

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.

Workers’ and Peasants’ Militia

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.

* Militant self-defense groups directed against reaction and fascism.

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.

What Our Party Was, and What It Is Now

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).

Whither Is Spain Going?

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.

Communist International: The Struggle for Workers’ and Peasants’ Alliances in Spain

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Photo of Alcala Gate,Madrid, 1936

Communist International, August 1936

The question of strengthening and organizing throughout the country the workers’ and peasants’ alliances, which are the main buttress of the People’s Front, is now the central point of discussion among the workers’ organizations in Spain.

A serious change has taken place in the position of the Left wing of the Socialist Party, which was against creating workers’ alliances considering them to be only organs of uprising.

Proof of this is to be found in the moods of the members of the Left wing of the Socialist Party. A number of Socialist organizations endorsed the draft of the program of the party drawn up by the Madrid organization, and are demanding that still greater stress be laid upon the need for establishing workers’ and peasants’ alliances.

Comrade Carrillo, secretary of the Young Socialist League wrote an interesting article on the question of the “alliances” in the newspaper Claridad (May 13) in which he emphasizes the point that for the revolution to be victorious the necessary precondition is that the need for creating organs of proletarian democracy be recognized. The Socialist Party in its present state cannot, in the opinion of Carrillo, give leadership to such a mass organization. Only by “purging and uniting the Socialist and Communist Parties will it be possible to hammer out such an organization as will be able to guide the organs of proletarian democracy”.

On May 11 of this year, at a meeting of the Socialist parliamentary deputies and the so-called Compromisarios (delegates appointed to elect the president), Largo Caballero, the leader of the Left wing of the Socialist Party, spoke and expressed himself in favor of establishing alliances to include also the Anarchist National Confederation of Labor.

The reactionary section of the leaders of the Socialist Party continue as hitherto to declare themselves against workers’ and peasants’ alliances. El Socialista wrote on May 16:

“To create alliances at the price of rejecting all that we must preserve at all costs, namely, the leading role and the discipline of the Socialist Party, means to call the masses to pass over to other organizations with flags flying.”

The Congress of the Anarchist National Confederation of Labor took place at the beginning of May in Zaragoza. At this Congress the question of unity (or, as it was called on the agenda of the Congress the question of a “Revolutionary Alliance”) was one of the chief questions.

The masses of Anarchist workers, who were convinced by their own experiences during the October struggles (in Asturias, Leon, Valencia and other provinces) of the need for working class unity, insisted that the Congress should categorically express itself in favor of unity and alliances. This imperative demand of the masses was also expressed in many telegrams from the lower organizations. For instance, the Gijon organizations of Anarchists, together with the local branch of the C.N.T.,* sent a telegram to the Congress which reads: “Fifty thousands toilers demand the creating of a revolutionary workers’ alliance”. The Anarchist trade union of Cardona sent a wire to the Congress, as did the railroad workers of San Geronimo (Seville). Forty thousand members of the Seville Federation of the C.N.T. demanded “trade union unity and the establishment of workers’ and peasants’ alliances”, etc. In their speeches at the Congress a number of delegates demanded unity. For instance, the delegate from Barcelona, Faris Oliver, in his speech stated:

* Anarchist Confederation of Labor.

“The heroic legions of Asturias showed us very glaringly that in the existing situation, faced by a well-organized state power, we cannot count on victory; we need the union of all.”

Alvarez, a delegate from Gijon, told the Congress that during the journey of the Asturian delegation, Anarchist workers mandated the delegation to demand from the Congress that alliances be set up everywhere.

Under the influence of these demands, the Congress of the C.N.T. was forced to express its attitude towards this question. The resolution of the Gijon organization proposed that close connections be set up between the C.N.T. and U.G.T.* to struggle for the immediate improvement of the conditions of the working class, and for the “victory of the social revolution in Spain”, and also that a revolutionary workers’ alliance be established to unite both trade union confederations. This resolution also made provision for the possibility of political parties affiliating to the alliance. To obstruct the adoption of this proposal the leadership of the C.N.T. introduced a resolution of their own (which was adopted by the Congress) which proposed that the U.G.T. conclude a “pact of revolutionary alliance”, on the condition that the latter refuses “political and parliamentary collaboration”. In other words, the leaders of the C.N.T. proposed to the U.G.T. that in essence they should break with the People’s Front and limit the alliances to the participation in them of only the C.N.T. and the U.G.T., excluding the political parties.

* Union General de Trabajadores.

There is a special supplementary point to this decision proposed by the C.N.T. leaders which states that the proposals are only of a temporary character, and should serve as a basis for establishing contacts with the U.G.T. until the latter drafts its own counter-proposals. This forced reservation is proof again of the profound urge among the masses for unity, and opens up the possibility for further negotiations.

After the Congress of the C.N.T., the Mundo Obrero, the central organ of the Communist Party of Spain, began a friendly polemic in its pages with the Anarchists as regards the decisions adopted by them regarding unity and the “revolutionary alliance”. For instance, in the issue of May 19, the paper wrote:

“We consider that the decisions on the alliances are positive because they express the desire of the masses for unity, and are negative because they place the question of alliances very narrowly…. We wish to tell our comrades of the C.N.T. that that which they call a ‘revolutionary alliance’ is a liaison or coordinating committee, a very good thing in itself from the point of view of united action in the struggle for economic demands…. Workers’ and peasants’ alliances are organs of the united front which guarantee united action and raise it to a much higher level.”

In his article entitled “About the Workers’ and Peasants’ Alliances”, published in the Mundo Obrero of May 14, Comrade Diaz, the General Secretary of the Communist Party of Spain, noted with satisfaction the statement made by Caballero about the workers’ and peasants’ alliances, and wrote:

“From February 16 till today we have only achieved the first victories; we must go further…. The reactionaries are attempting to create difficulties of all kinds. They provoke conflicts, close down factories and organize sabotage. The task of the workers’ organizations in the ranks of the People’s Front is with the aid of the workers’ and peasants’ alliances to achieve the fulfillment of the demands of the workers and peasants, and at the same time to put an end to the criminal maneuvers of reaction.”

The Communist Party is the consistent supporter and organizer throughout the country of workers’ and peasants’ alliances, which are organs of defense of the Spanish Republic against the fascists and the counter-revolution.

Source

Communist International: The Spanish Revolution

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By M. Ercoli
Member of the Executive Committee of the Communist InternationalWorkers Library Publishers
New York City
First Printing, December, 1936
Second Printing, February, 1937
Third Printing, March, 1937

The Spanish Revolution

The heroic struggle of the Spanish people has deeply stirred the whole world. It is the greatest event in the struggle of the masses of the people in the capitalist countries for their emancipation, second only to the October Socialist Revolution of 1917.

The struggle against the remnants of feudalism, the aristocracy, the monarchist officers, the princes of the church, against fascist enslavement, has united the vast majority of the Spanish people. The workers and peasants, the intellectuals and lower middle class people of the towns, and even certain groups of the bourgeoisie, have taken their stand in defense of freedom and the republic, while a handful of insurgent generals are waging war against their own people with the aid of Moroccans, whom they deceived, and the international criminal riffraffs of the Foreign Legion.

The struggle of the Spanish people bears the features of a national revolutionary war. It is a war to save the people and the country from foreign bondage, since the victory of the insurgents would mean the economic, political and cultural decline of Spain, its disintegration as an independent state, the enslavement of its peoples by German and Italian fascism. It is a national revolutionary struggle for the further reason that its victory will bring liberation to the Catalonians, the Basques and the Galicians who have been oppressed by the old aristocracy of Castile.

The victory of the people will deal fascism in Spain a mortal blow and will destroy its material basis. It will hand over the large landed estates and the industrial enterprises of the fascist insurgents to the people, and will create the conditions for the further successful struggle of the mass of the working people of Spain for their social liberation.

The victory of the People’s Front in Spain will strengthen the cause of peace throughout the whole of Europe, primarily by preventing the warmongers from converting Spain into a military base for the fascist encirclement of, and attack on, France.

The struggle of the People’s Front in Spain is setting into motion the democratic forces of the whole world. Success in this struggle will strengthen the cause of democracy in all countries, will weaken fascism wherever it is in the saddle, and will hasten its downfall.

A People’s Revolution

The revolution in Spain, which is part and parcel of the anti-fascist struggle all over the world, is a revolution having the broadest social basis. It is a people’s revolution. It is a national revolution. It is an anti-fascist revolution.

The relation of class forces within Spain is such as to render the cause of the Spanish people invincible, but the forces of world reaction, first and foremost the German and Italian fascists, hinder the victory of the Spanish people over fascism. They are supporting the insurgents, supplying them arms with the connivance of the democratic governments of the capitalist countries. It would not be correct to draw a complete parallel between the present Spanish revolution and the Russian revolution of 1905, and still less with the Russian revolution of 1917. The Spanish revolution has its own peculiar features which arise out of the specific internal as well as international situation. Big events and movements in history do not repeat themselves with photographic exactness either in time or space.

The Spanish people are solving the tasks of the bourgeois-democratic revolution. The reactionary castes, whose power the fascist insurgents wish to restore, ruled and domineered over the country in such a way that it became the poorest, the most backward country in Europe. All that is healthy, creative and alive in the various strata of the Spanish people felt and still feels the stranglehold of the past which is now irrevocably doomed to disappear. In Spain all that is creative and possesses vitality expects a radical improvement as a result of the solution of the problems of the bourgeois-democratic revolution.

This means that in the interests of the economic and political development of the country, the agrarian question must be settled by abolishing the feudal relations which dominate the countryside. It means that the peasants, the workers, and the working population as a whole must be relieved of the intolerable burden of an outworn economic and administrative system. It means further that the privileges of the aristocracy, the church and the religious orders must be done away with and the uncontrolled sway of the reactionary castes must be broken.

But Spanish fascism stands in the way of the solution of these problems of the bourgeois-democratic revolution. Spanish fascism is not only the vehicle of capitalist reaction but also of medieval feudalism, of monarchism, clerical fanaticism and bigotry as well as the Inquisition of the Jesuits; it is the defender of the reactionary castes and of the privileges of the nobility, which like a dead weight act as a drag on the country and hinder its economic development. Spanish fascism is not only the representative of trustified capital, which resorts to social demagogy, too, as a means of crushing the masses; it brings with it open violence without demagogy. It is the representative of the old order, rotten to the core and hated by all. Therefore, in a country like Spain, where the tasks of the bourgeois-democratic revolution have not yet been accomplished, fascism has not succeeded in forming a party based on the masses of the petty bourgeoisie. By rising in armed rebellion against the lawful government, the fascists alienated even some of those bourgeois elements which, under a bourgeois constitution, would have sought to come to terms with them. Fascism has succeeded in swinging the petty bourgeoisie definitely over to the side of the proletariat, in forcing the reformist elements in the labor movement who stood for “constitutional” development to side with the people. Fascism has consolidated against itself, as never before, all the parties and organizations of the People’s Front, from Martinez Barrio to the Communists, from the Basque nationalists to the Catalonian Anarchists.

The Spanish people is solving in a new way the tasks of the bourgeois-democratic revolution which is in accordance with the deepest interests of the vast mass of the people. In the first place, it is solving them in circumstances of civil war brought on by the insurgents. In the second place, it is forced in the interest of the armed struggle against fascism to confiscate the property of the landlords and employers involved in the insurrection, because it is impossible to secure victory over fascism without undermining its economic position. In the third place, it is able to draw on the historical experience of the proletariat of Russia, which completed the bourgeois-democratic revolution after it had conquered power, for the great proletarian revolution splendidly achieved “in passing” the very objectives which form the basic content of the revolution in Spain at its present historical stage. Finally, the Spanish working class is striving to accomplish its leading role in the revolution, and place upon it a proletarian imprint by the sweeping range and the forms of its struggle.

The Role of the Working Class

At all stages of development of the revolution in Spain, the working class has taken the initiative in every important action against the forces of reaction. The working class was the soul of the movement which overthrew the dictatorship of Primo de Rivera and the monarchy. Strikes and demonstrations of the workers in all the big industrial towns lent the initial impetus to the mighty mass movement that swept the Spanish towns and villages as well as the army, a movement whose onslaught the monarchy proved unable to withstand. The tireless, heroic struggle of the working class has invariably helped to accentuate the character of the revolution as a people’s revolution in spite of all the efforts of the bourgeoisie, of the republican leaders and even of the Socialist Party to retard and crush the mass movement. The working class of Spain has done a great historic service: the general strike and the armed struggle of the Asturian miners, in the unforgettable days of October, 1934, erected the first barrier against the assault of the fascist bands. In spite of its bloody defeat, the working class after October was, and continues to be, the organizer and backbone of the anti-fascist People’s Front.

But the special character of the revolution in Spain consists above all in the peculiarity of the conditions in which the proletariat is making its hegemony in the revolution effective. The split in the working class of Spain has its own special features. In the first place the working class of Spain overthrew the monarchy in 1931, before there was a real mass Communist Party. At that time the Communist Party was only in its formative stage, not only organizationally but also ideologically and politically. In the second place, while in the process of the revolution a mass Communist Party was taking shape, the Spanish proletariat remained under the powerful influence of the Socialist Party. For decades the Socialist Party had been the means by which the influence of the bourgeoisie was exercised over the working class, and for two and a half years it formed a coalition with the bourgeoisie. This Party had a much stronger foothold in the working class than, for example, the Russian Mensheviks in 1905 or in 1917. In the third place – and this distinguished and still distinguishes Spain from all other countries of Europe – the Spanish proletariat has also mass Anarcho-Syndicalist organizations in addition to the Communist and Socialist Parties. The ideology and practice of these Anarcho-Syndicalist organizations frequently hinder the principles of proletarian organization and proletarian discipline from penetrating into the ranks of the working class.

Spanish Anarchism is a peculiar phenomenon, a reflection of the country’s economic backwardness, of the backwardness of its political structure, of the disunity of its proletariat, of the existence of a numerous group of declassed elements, and, finally, of a specific particularism – all features characteristic of countries with strong survivals of feudalism. At the present time, when the Spanish people are exerting every effort to drive back the furious attack of bestial fascism, when the Anarchist workers are fighting bravely at the fronts, there are not a few people who, under cover of the principles of Anarchism, weaken the solidarity and unity of the People’s Front by hasty projects for compulsory “collectivization”, the “abolition of money”, the preaching of “organized indiscipline”, etc.

It is the great merit of the Communist Party of Spain that, while tirelessly and consistently struggling to overcome the split in the working class, it fought and is still fighting to create the maximum prerequisites for ensuring the hegemony of the proletariat, the prime condition for the victory of the bourgeois-democratic revolution. The formation of a united front between the Socialist and Communist Parties, the establishment of a single organization of young workers, the creation of a single party of the proletariat in Catalonia, and, last but most important, the transformation of the Communist Party itself into a huge mass party enjoying tremendous and ever-growing influence and authority are all a sure guarantee that the working class will be able still more effectively to exercise its hegemony by assuming leadership over the whole revolutionary movement and carrying it to victory.

The Peasantry

Such is the situation in the ranks of the working class. How do matters stand with the peasantry? It is a known fact that the majority of the army, consisting fundamentally of the sons of peasants, was carried along by its officers, and so in the first days of the insurrection it was to be found in the camp of the enemies of the people. And the fact that the fascist officers were able to win relatively large groups of soldiers to their side is the penalty which the republican parties, the Socialists and the Anarchists are paying for their many years of neglect of the demands of the peasantry. However, there are tremendous possibilities for enlisting the active participation of the Spanish peasants in the revolution.

In the Spanish countryside there are two million agricultural workers. In many of the northern districts they are still partly under the influence of the landlords and the clergy; nevertheless they constitute an element of revolutionary ferment even in the most backward provinces. This large agricultural proletariat in Spain holds out vast opportunities to the various working class organizations of influencing the masses of the peasants, of making them active participants in the struggle against fascism, of consolidating the alliance between the working class and the peasantry, and strengthening the leading role of the proletariat in this alliance. Moreover, most of the remaining three million peasants are poor people who have been mercilessly exploited and oppressed for centuries, and now passionately hope for land and liberty from the revolution. Freed from the thralldom of monarchist prejudices, these peasant masses are gradually becoming emancipated from the influence of the church, and undoubtedly sympathize with the republic. And although the military units of the People’s Militia already contain solid groups of peasants, the reserves of millions of peasants have not yet entered the active struggle against the fascist insurgents. With the exception of Galicia, there is as yet no widespread guerilla movement. The peasants in the rear have as yet caused little trouble to the insurgents. But their entrance into the active struggle is inevitable. The millions of the peasant reserves are getting into motion and will soon have their decisive say.

The illiterate Spanish peasants have long lived beyond the pale of politics. It is a distinguishing feature of Spain that its peasants entered the revolution without a national party of their own. The only attempt to form a peasant party was made in Galicia. There a priest named Basilio Alvarez formed the Galician Agrarian Party whose program attacked the local feudal privileges known as “foros”. This party broke up in 1934-35. But it is interesting to note that Galicia is the only province where the peasants have entered en masse the armed struggle against the insurgents and are now organizing guerilla warfare in the rear of these reactionary bandits. The Catalonian organization of sharecroppers and tenant farmers, called “Rabassaires”, also has some of the distinguishing features of a political party of the peasants. And it is also worthy of note that in the Catalonian villages, where this organization is influential, the fascists have had no success whatever.

The only party which fearlessly supported the immediate demands of the peasants as well as the demand for the confiscation without compensation of all the land of the landlords, the church and the monasteries for the benefit of the peasants was the class party of the proletariat, the Communist Party. Unfortunately, it was not yet sufficiently strong to carry with it the broad masses of the peasantry.

The Urban Petty Bourgeoisie

As far as the urban lower middle class is concerned, the vast majority of its members are on the side of democracy and the revolution, and against fascism. Here, their yearning for liberty and social progress, their hatred for the past, steeped in poverty and superstitious ignorance, playa decisive role. This deprives Spanish fascism of the possibility of gaining mass support among the petty bourgeoisie, as was done or is being done by fascism in other capitalist countries. Its social demagogy breaks down when the urban petty bourgeoisie, the handicraftsmen, intellectuals, scientists and artists, see the fascist leaders march shoulder to shoulder with the hated big landlords, the “casiques”, with bishops, who have waxed fat on the poverty of the people, with such crafty politicians as Lerroux and such corrupt bankers as Juan March. It is true that the political representatives of the Spanish petty bourgeoisie did not immediately take up their present Jacobin position. They wavered. After the fall of the monarchy, they supported the policy of coalition. When they entered the People’s Front movement, they stubbornly refused to put into their program the demand for the confiscation of the land. Even after February 16, the Azaña government, which relied on the parties of the People’s Front, showed indecision concerning the cleansing of the government offices and the army of fascists. Many representatives of the lower middle class sought a compromise in their endeavor to avoid an open fight against fascism.

But the cruel and treacherous attack of the fascists on the lawful government caused an outburst of indignation in the ranks of the urban petty bourgeoisie, and resolved many of their doubts. Under the pressure of events, the republican leaders took to the path of determined and consistent struggle against the fascist insurgents.

“What was left for us to do,” stated Azaña, “when the greater part of the army had broken its oath of allegiance to the republic? Should we have renounced all thought of defense and submitted to new tyranny? No! We owed it to the people to give them a chance to defend themselves.” The republican petty bourgeoisie resorted to plebeian methods in the fight against fascism, consented to giving arms to the workers and peasants, supported the organization of people’s revolutionary tribunals, which are acting no less energetically than the Committee of Public Safety at the time of Robespierre and St. Just. This means that in Spain the urban petty bourgeoisie is playing a role which differs greatly from that played, for example, by the petty bourgeoisie in Germany or Italy immediately before and at the time fascism came to power. This special feature must be taken into account when describing the present stage of the Spanish revolution.

The Bourgeoisie

Lastly, the bourgeoisie. Being interested in the restriction of feudal privileges, it took a fairly active part in the overthrow of the dictatorship of Primo de Rivera and the monarchy. The industrial bourgeoisie expected from the republic more favorable conditions for its development. The bourgeois parties sought to reach this goal by compromising with the privileged feudal and semi-feudal castes, and, unfortunately, for over two years they influenced the republican petty bourgeoisie and even the Socialist Party to follow them along this path. The policy of the coalition government thoroughly disillusioned the masses of the people. Fascism made use of the weakened position of democracy which resulted, and took up the offensive, mobilizing and rallying all the most reactionary elements in the country.

This strengthening of fascism brought the masses to a realization of the need to build a barrier against its advance. The masses rose in defense of the republic (October, 1934). The process of differentiation among the bourgeoisie was becoming more intense and a crisis began to develop in the traditional bourgeois parties. For example, the Radical Party of Lerroux, that party of political corruption which mirrored all the weakness and vice of the Spanish big bourgeoisie, rapidly broke up, and after the 1936 elections disappeared from the political scene. From it a group was formed which, led by Martinez Barrio, the present chairman of the Cortes, is taking part in organizing the repulse of the fascists and has entered the People’s Front. The considerable success at the polls of Barrio’s party cannot be explained otherwise than by the anti-fascist sentiments of part of the bourgeoisie who had nothing to gain from the reactionary designs of the fascists and their ally Lerroux. From its very inception Martinez Barrio took an active part in the formation of the People’s Front. When, after the fall of Toledo, a tense situation had arisen at the front, he presided at the October session of the Cortes devoted to preparing the defense of Madrid.

In the various republican governments formed after the elections of February 16, 1936, there were people who undoubtedly represented certain sections of the bourgeoisie. These remained on the side of the republic when the fascist insurrection broke out, e.g., José Giral, member of the Left Republican Party and minister in the present government, a fairly big landowner whose estates had been affected by the agrarian reform in the very first years of the republic; Francisco Barnes, Casares Quiroga, Enrico Ramos and Manuel Blasco Garzon, industrialists and landowners who formed part of the ministry of José Giral, i.e., were members of one of the governments which organized the defense of the republic against the fascist insurgents. Had the course of events been different, some of these people would possibly have sought for a compromise with the reactionaries. By depriving them of this possibility, the fascist rising made clear to them the need to defend the republic and democracy by all the means at their disposal, and thus linked up their fate with that of the fighting masses of the people.

Numerous groups of the bourgeoisie of the nationalities that used to be oppressed by Spanish feudalism are also acting on the side of the republic. There are districts in Spain where the whole population has been fighting for centuries to throw off the yoke of national oppression. This applies principally to Catalonia and the Basque Provinces (Biscay). The bourgeoisie of these districts cannot support the fascists or even sympathize with them, as they know perfectly well that a fascist victory would reduce to naught any chance of national independence or autonomy. Such a victory would mean a return to the old regime of national oppression.

In Catalonia, the so-called Catalonian League and its reactionary leaders have disappeared from the arena of struggle. But in the ranks of the Catalonian Left – the Esquierres – there are still a number of representatives of the industrial bourgeoisie who occupy high places in the Catalonian government. And there is no doubt that in Barcelona, and, it may be said, throughout all Catalonia, the rebellion of the fascist generals was put down more rapidly than elsewhere not only because great numbers of the Spanish proletariat are concentrated here, but also because almost the whole population enthusiastically took part in crushing the insurrection, even some bourgeois circles being in sympathy with this.

With regard to the Basque provinces, the Basque National Party, which has a representative, Manuel Irujo, in the Madrid government, takes an active part in the struggle against the fascists. Manuel Irujo is a big industrialist who has always fought for the national liberation of the Basques. He was against the coup d’état of Primo de Rivera, and was a determined opponent of the monarchy. In the first days of the fascist revolt, he personally led military operations against the fascist officers in Bilbao. All his relatives, including his 70- year-old mother, are held as hostages by the fascists. This Catholic and industrialist is acting loyally in defense of the republic, and declares that his party is fighting “for a regime of liberty, political democracy and social justice”. The Basque National Party, of which he is the leader, is a party of the Catholic bourgeoisie which for a number of years has been fighting for the national independence of Biscay. Priests constitute a considerable part of its membership. Not so long ago the French reactionary, de Kerillis, expressed his surprise at the fact that members of the clergy in the Biscay provinces were fighting heroically against the reactionary gangs of General Mola. But there is nothing surprising in this. The part played by these groups of the Basque bourgeoisie who, arms in hand, fought side by side with all the other heroic defenders of Irun, San Sebastian and Bilbao, is undoubtedly more progressive than that played by those leaders of the British Labor Party who trail behind the British policy of “nonintervention”. There is every reason for applying to these groups of the Basque bourgeoisie the following words written by Comrade Stalin in the year 1924:

“The struggle the Emir of Afghanistan is waging for the independence of his country is objectively a revolutionary struggle, despite the monarchist views of the Emir and his entourage, for it weakens, disintegrates and undermines imperialism…. The struggle the Egyptian merchants and bourgeois intellectuals are waging for the independence of their country is, objectively, revolutionary despite the bourgeois origin and bourgeois calling of the leaders of the Egyptian national movement and despite the fact that they are opposed to socialism; whereas the fight the English Labor government is waging to perpetuate Great Britain’s domination over Egypt is, for the same reasons, a reactionary struggle, despite the proletarian origin and the proletarian calling of the members of that government, and despite the fact that they are ‘for’ socialism.”*

* Stalin, “The National Question”, Foundations Leninism, p. 67.

What conclusion, then, should be drawn from the position occupied by these groups of the Spanish bourgeoisie as described above?

There can be no doubt that the overwhelming majority of the bourgeoisie sympathizes with the insurgents, and supports them, but there are bourgeois groups, especially among the national minorities, which, although they do not play a leading part in the People’s Front, took part in the anti-fascist People’s Front before the insurrection and continue to do so to this day. Therefore, these groups must not be left out of account in the anti-fascist camp, for their participation in the People’s Front extends it and thus increases the chances of victory for the Spanish people. In times of so sharp a conflict, a wide social basis is one of the main factors guaranteeing the successful outcome of the revolution.

In 1927, Comrade Stalin, that master of the art of revolutionary strategy, wrote that correct leadership of the revolution is impossible unless certain tactical principles of Leninism are taken into account:

“I have in view such tactical principles of Leninism as: (a) the principle of never failing to take into account the national peculiarities and specific national features in each individual country,… (b) the principle that the Communist Party of each country must never fail to make use of even the slightest possibility of securing for the proletariat a mass ally, though he be temporary, shaky, unstable and unreliable, (c) the principle of never failing to take into account the truth that propaganda and agitation alone are not enough for the political education of the millions of the people, but that this requires that the masses acquire political experience of their own.”*

* Stalin, About the Opposition, p. 615, Russian edition.

The Spanish People’s Front

Guided by these principles, the Communist Party of Spain has fought not only to bring about joint action by the working class, but also to establish a broad anti-fascist People’s Front, which reflects the peculiar form of development assumed by the Spanish revolution at its present stage.

This front embraces the working class and its organizations, namely, the Communist and Socialist Parties, the General Workers’ Union and the Syndicalist Organization of Pestana; it is now supported by the Anarchist National Confederation of Labor. Furthermore, it covers the petty bourgeoisie through the Republican Party of Azaña, and the Catalonian Party Esquierra. It also includes the groups of the bourgeoisie represented by Martinez Barrio’s party, the “Republican League”, and by the Basque nationalists; it is supported not only by the Catalonian “Rabassaires” organization, but also by millions of Spanish peasants who have no party of their own, who hate fascism and are hungry for land. The Spanish anti-fascist People’s Front, as the specific form of union of various classes, in face of the fascist danger, differs, for instance, from the French People’s Front in that it operates and carries on the struggle in circumstances of a revolution, which solves its bourgeois-democratic problems in a consistent, democratic way, in circumstances of a civil war which demands exceptional measures to ensure the victory of the people.

Similarly, it does not explain the real character of the Spanish People’s Front to define it simply as “the democratic dictatorship of the proletariat and the peasantry”. In the first place, the People’s Front in Spain bases itself not only on the workers and peasants; it has a broader social basis. In the second place, under the pressure of the civil war, it is adopting a series of measures which go somewhat further than the program of a government of revolutionary-democratic dictatorship. It is a further peculiarity of the Spanish People’s Front that the split in the ranks of the proletariat, the relatively slow pace at which the masses of the peasantry are being drawn into the armed struggle, and the influence of petty-bourgeois Anarchism and of Social-Democratic illusions which have not yet been outlived, which are expressed in the endeavor to skip the stage of the bourgeois-democratic revolution, are all creating a number of additional difficulties in the struggle of the Spanish people for a democratic republic.

The democratic republic which is being established in Spain is unlike the usual type of bourgeois-democratic republic. It is being born amidst a civil war in which the working class plays the leading part, at a time when socialism has been victorious on one-sixth of the earth’s surface, while in a number of capitalist countries conservative bourgeois democracy has already been routed by fascism. It is a distinctive feature of this new type of democratic republic that fascism, which has taken up the struggle against the people, is being suppressed by the armed force of the people, and that in this republic there will be no place for this chief and bloodthirsty enemy of the people. Should the people be victorious, fascism will never be able to enjoy there such freedom as, for instance, in France, the U.S.A., or England, where it makes use of bourgeois democracy and the rights granted under it to destroy democracy and establish completely arbitrary rule. Secondly, the material basis of fascism will be destroyed in this republic. All land, all enterprises belonging to participants in the fascist revolt have already been confiscated and handed over to the Spanish people. Already the Spanish government has been compelled by the military situation to institute the control and regulation of the country’s economic machinery in order to promote the defense of the republic. And the more obdurately the insurgents carry on the war against the lawful government, the further will the latter be forced to go in the direction of strict regulation of the whole economic life of the country. Thirdly, should the people be victorious, this new democracy cannot but be alien to all conservatism; for it possesses all the conditions necessary for its own further development, it provides the guarantees for further economic and political achievements by the working people of Spain. And it is precisely for this reason that all the forces of world reaction desire the defeat of the Spanish people.

German and Italian fascism not only organized the revolt of the Spanish generals, but are now giving every possible support to the insurgents, and are working for the defeat of the republic. All parties of extreme reaction and war in all capitalist countries are sympathetic to the insurgents and ready to support them. The fighting Spanish people is faced not only by the insurgent generals, but by the whole front of world reaction. Hence the difficulties encountered by the Spanish people in suppressing the revolt. These difficulties are further enhanced by the pressure of parties in the capitalist countries which formally endorse bourgeois democracy, but actually support fascist intervention under the cloak of “neutrality”. This second camp, to which belong, for instance, the British conservatives and the French Right Radicals, is essentially in league with world reaction. In fact this camp has the support of certain reactionary Social-Democratic leaders as well.

Lastly, there is the opposite camp, the camp of the working class, the camp of democracy. The foundation of this camp is the working class of the world, which wholeheartedly sides with the Spanish people. This camp includes all honest anti-fascists, all true democrats, all those who realize that to allow the Spanish republic to be crushed means to suffer a blow to be struck at the entire international anti-fascist front, means encouraging fascism to make further attacks on the working class and on democracy.

Playing With Fire

Fascism is playing with fire. It set the war machine going not only against a people of distant Africa, but is now attacking one of the peoples of Europe. It cannot now cover up its predatory actions with cries about Versailles. It is tearing up not Versailles, but the liberty and independence of the Spanish people, and is thereby letting loose against itself a new flood of hatred among the working people. By this fascism is giving the impetus to a new wave of anti-fascism throughout the whole world. When German fascism came to power in Germany, it also counted on intimidating the nations by staging the Leipzig trial. It achieved the opposite. Fascism’s wild frenzy in Germany made it easier to form the People’s Front in France and Spain, inaugurated the movement for the People’s Front throughout the whole world. But the Italian and German fascists are pursuing imperialist and annexationist aims, as well. They want to crush the Spanish revolution so as to seize part of the colonies of Spain, occupy part of her territory and convert it into a base of operations for their further onslaughts on the peoples of Europe. The insurgent generals are agents of foreign imperialism, which is threatening the independence and integrity of the country. In 1919, Lenin, speaking about the Brest-Litovsk Treaty, said: “With us the difficulty in the situation was that we had to bring Soviet power into being against patriotism.”* The struggle of the people against the insurgent fascist generals in Spain has the character of a national struggle in defense of the country against foreign enslavement, and this factor still further extends the basis of the revolution. The People’s Front not only continues the revolutionary traditions of the Spanish people, but also the glorious traditions of the struggle of the peoples of Spain to rid their country of foreign oppression and barbarism.

* Lenin, Collected Works, Vol. XXIV, p. 219, Russian edition.

Thus, we are faced in Spain with a situation which, in the fire of revolutionary struggle, supplies proof of the historical correctness of the political line mapped out by the Seventh World Congress of the Communist International. This correctness is being confirmed not only by the scope of the anti-fascist struggle which has developed in Spain, but also by the part being played in this struggle by the young Communist Party of Spain. At the Seventh Congress Comrade Dimitroff said:

“We want the Communists of each country promptly to draw and apply all the lessons that can be drawn from their own experiences as the revolutionary vanguard of the proletariat. We want them as quickly as possible to learn how to sail on the turbulent waters of the class struggle, and not to remain on the shore as observers and registrars of the surging waves in the expectation of fine weather.”

In the turbulent waters of the class struggle, the Communist Party of Spain is being transformed into the stalwart pilot of the destinies of its people. With every day that passes it is gaining increased authority among the masses by its whole-hearted devotion to the cause of the revolution, by its strict adherence to principle, its steadfastness at the front and in the rear, the discipline of its commanders and fighters, and its profound conviction that the road outlined is correct. Organizer and inspirer of the People’s Front and fully conscious of its own historical responsibility, the Party is fighting for the final victory of the People’s Front over fascism.

Source

Trotskyism in the Service of Franco

Franco

By GEORGES SORIA

FACTS AND DOCUMENTS

“To the Generalissimo: – I communicate personally the following: In executing the order you gave me, amongst other things, I went to Barcelona to interview the leaders of the P.O.U.M. I gave them all your information and suggestions. …”

(Document found at the Peruvian Embassy in Madrid where there was a spying organisation.)

“The Witness: All the espionage material discovered by the other group, which is made up of the secret agents of the P.O.U.M., was transmitted to Perpignan by me….”

“The Witness: The outrage against Prieto and the heads of the Modesto and Walter divisions had been prepared by the group of secret agents of the P.O.U.M. which is directed by General Franco’s espionage centre at Perpignan….”

(The above is an extract from the cross-examination of Joaquin Roca Amich.)

This pamphlet pleads its own case. It is written after spending a year and three months in Republican Spain. It is based on first-hand observation and on the study and analysis of official documents and papers.

Experience of the political situation in Republican Spain throughout the war, and the daily study of the problems which arise, have convinced me that the P.O.U.M. is one of the most important instruments which the Spanish rebels use in their struggle against the legitimate Spanish Government. I believe it to be my duty to make public the facts on which this conviction is based. And it will be instructive to find out if there are people who are still eager to defend the P.O.U.M. in the face of the evidence which I bring forward.

Trotskyism, typical of the parasitic growths which attach them-selves to all great popular movements, has become today the refuge in Spain of all the enemies of the Spanish Republic. The lesson to be drawn from this is of vital importance.

Police papers, documents, official reports of cross- examinations which speak for themselves, and accuse the P.O.U.M. and its leaders of having held, and of holding, relations with the rebels, have been sub-mitted to me. They prove the liaison of the P.O.U.M. with the secret spying organisations which the rebels maintain in Government Spain.

The P.O.U.M. was the result of the fusion of the workers’ and peasants’ block, founded in 1930 by the Catalan, Joaquin Maurin, and a group of those who had been expelled from the Spanish Communist Party, amongst whom were Nin, Gorkin and Andrade. Until their arrest in 1937 they led the P.O.U.M. and were engaged in sabotaging the Republican institutions and in espionage. My aim in writing this pam-phlet has been to advance no accusations which cannot immediately be supported by documents.

This will appear before the trial of Trotskyist leaders has taken place. The search, which was begun after the disturbances caused by the P.O.U.M. in Barcelona in May 1937, led to the discovery of documents which indisputably established the spying activities in which the prin-cipal leaders of the P.O.U.M. were engaged. This search is still going on. The public prosecutor of the Republic and his chief assistant have lately been working intensively on the files of the case. In a few weeks justice will be meted out. This news is comforting to all friends of the Spanish Popular Front, for then all the Fascist Press campaign, fed by the ar-guments of the Trotskyists and their allies, will be clearly revealed as a plot against the Spanish Republic.

The attempt on the part of the P.O.U.M. to break up the anti-Fascist organisations goes back to the formation of the Spanish Popular Front. Since its formation in Madrid, on June 2nd, 1935, the P.O.U.M., through its leaders, Maurin, Nin and Gorkin, fought and intrigued against the Popular Front which was destined to be successful at the general elections some months later and to throw clerical and agrarian reaction out of power. After the two years of terror which Spain had just experienced, the desire of the proletariat and the petty bourgeoisie of the oppressed national minorities was to unite together against the forces of reaction. At that time the P.O.U.M. had only some 2,000 members and did not dare to come out openly against the growing forces of the Popular Front. But the reactionary bourgeoisie and aristocracy had already discovered that the P.O.U.M. and its liaisons with foreign powers could be turned into a most useful counter-revolutionary in-strument. Owing to the conditions of the political struggles in Spain at this period the dividing line separating the Popular forces of the Centre from the Right was so distinct that the ruling classes could not them-selves undertake the work of disorganising the Popular Front. They needed a reliable group, which would be bound to them by special considerations such as the concessions which they could give it once they had gained power, to lead a struggle against the Popular Front, a struggle which would have an air of revolution about it. Only an or-ganisation which could penetrate right into the ranks of the Popular Front, adopting a revolutionary phraseology, could play this role without being exposed. The document which is reproduced below, found during a search made in Fascist quarters in Barcelona, is proof of the first contacts of the Trotskyist organisation with reaction. This is a letter from a Catalan lawyer to Gil Robles, who as Minister of War during the Lerroux Government was the personification of oppression against the working class.

“MY DEAR GIL ROBLES,

“A friend from Barcelona, the lawyer Jose Maria Palles, who on account of his position and interests frequently travels abroad, where he has important connections with the international world, has brought to my notice the fact that he intends to arrange for an agreement between the White Russian organisations and the Trotskyists, who would be able to put them in touch with the activities of the Communists against Spain….”

The following are some of the questions to which the White Russians and the Trotskyists propose to give exact replies:

“(1) Information about the Spanish section of the Third International, about the leaders of this section, their advisers and their movements.

“(2) Information about the illegal activity of the C.P. in Spain.

“(3) Information about the formation of the Popular Front and the parties of the Left in Spain.”

In the months which followed, the Trotskyists gradually showed their hand. Having entered into the struggle against the Governments which followed one another until July 19th, 1936, they were bound, once the insurrection of the generals had been suppressed in two-thirds of Spain by the Popular forces, to take up again after a short delay the struggle against the Caballero Cabinet. They were committed to a policy of sabotaging the Popular Front, and this policy was to lead them to insurrection and treason. They went, with absolute impunity, from provocation to provocation and finally to the Barcelona putsch, while at Madrid the most important members of their organisation, working hand in glove with the Fascist spy centres, daily gave the enemy military information about the position of troops, the situation of the fortifications, and helped to direct the artillery bombardment of Madrid.

SPIES IN THE PAY OF THE REBELS

On June 16th, 1937, the Republican police, by order of the Minister of the Interior, arrested the P.O.U.M. leaders, Nin, Gorkin and Andrade, and accused them of treason. The evidence against Nin in particular was of such a nature that the relations of the organisation with the rebels were no longer in any doubt. In the course of a search which was made at the Peruvian Embassy in Madrid a mass of the most sensational and incriminating documents was discovered. The Phalangists and the Fascists had not been able to destroy their papers before they were arrested, for the police had worked cautiously and cleverly. They had been on the trail for over a month gathering evidence and following developments before they made their pounce. When they did act they arrested over 200 people and amongst them some who had been manoeuvred into high positions in the general staff of some brigades, and in the Army supply service.

It was also discovered that the leaders of the P.O.U.M., in co-operation with Franco’s Fifth Column, had installed a receiving and transmitting station in Madrid and were using it to keep in touch with the Fascist zone. This organisation, whose workings were strictly secret, had found cover for some of its most important members in some of the foreign embassies in Madrid and had succeeded until then in keeping them screened from the police. Amongst the documents found at the Peruvian Embassy were plans showing the exact positions of the anti-aircraft batteries defending Madrid and of the Republican batteries in the Casa del Campo; plans of the distribution of the army of the centre, staff maps, and many other plans of so strictly military a character that there could be no doubt that they had been taken from general headquarters. There was also a detailed large-scale map of Madrid, carefully annotated with instructions for the Fascist artillery. From now on, the complicity of the Trotskyist leaders in the great spying organisation, which, as we shall see they had never ceased to assist, was proved in the main.

On the back of one of the maps of Madrid was written, in invisible ink and in code, the following:

”To the Generalissimo communicate personally the following: We are telling you all the information we can collect about the dispositions and movements of the Red troops; the latest information given out by our transmitting station testifies to an enormous improvement in our information services.”

The message continues:

”We have 400 men at our disposal. These men are well armed and favourably situated on the Madrid fronts so that they can form the driving force of a rebellious movement. Your order about getting our men to penetrate into the extremist ranks has been successfully carried out. We must have a good man in charge of propaganda. In executing the order you gave me, amongst other things, I went to Barcelona to interview the leaders of the P.O.U.M. I gave them all your information and suggestions. The lapse of communication between them and you is explained by the breakdown of the transmitting station, which began to work again while I was there. You should already have had an answer about the most important question. N. asks that you should arrange that I should be the only person to communicate with them apart from their ‘foreign friends They have promised me to send people to Madrid to ginger up the work of the P.O.U.M. If it is reinforced, the P.O.U.M. here will become, as it is at Barcelona, a firm and effective support for our movement. We shall soon be sending you some fresh information. The organisation of the action groups will be speeded up.”

Here is the text of a letter found at the headquarters of the P.O.U.M. in Barcelona, addressed to the leader of the P.O.U.M., Andres Nin.

”Bayonne, July 12th, 1937, to the Executive Committee of the P.O.U.M. I confirm my former instructions. At last the split has become accentuated amongst the groups in the lower Pyrenees which we have already mentioned. If we can take advantage of this dissension we might be able to form a new group of our own party. The best of the lot, amongst them Walter and Bobinof, whose influence is particularly strong, are disagreeing with those from St. Jean de Luz because they refuse to send people out on a precarious mission before they have had full instructions. We must get proper authorisation, although the Bayonne people will only take action if they are quite confident of results. One thing is particularly interesting: they send us material from Barcelona, and several and all sorts of indications from which we can gather the distribution of the party; we will go ahead trying to form a group which will be absolutely firm and decided on all questions. . . .

”Franco’s wife is now in France. You may remember that in a previous communication it was suggested that she should go to Barcelona. What opportunities would this give us in the matter which Bonet discussed with Quim? I insist, however, that it is vitally necessary to support both materially and ideologically this group which can be of such enormous use to us; but for this you must make certain that Walter goes to Barcelona. C. has already established contact with Perpignan. Where I am today, it is difficult to get any news for certain. You must acknowledge the receipt of all this by telegraph and let me know whether you intend to act on it. Salut and P.O.U.M.

Signed: ”IMA.”

The above document is only one of the many proofs of the com-plicity of the leaders of the P.O.U.M with Franco s agents. The fol-lowing, for instance, is one of the statements published by the Barcelona Prefect of Police on August 20th, 1937, after the discovery of a secret centre of the P.O.U.M. at 158 Bailen Street in Barcelona.

“The owner of the house, Carmen Llorenis, and her daughter Maria Antonia Salines and the German Walter Schwarz were arrested. Secret publications of the P.O.U.M. were discovered on the premises as well as Fascist propaganda.”

The statement adds that it has been proved that the arrested persons, who had several times crossed the French frontier, were in contact with Franco’s agents.

And here is the latest case, which dates from October 23rd, 1937, the echoes of which have not yet died down.

On October 23rd, 1937, the Chief of the Barcelona Police, Lieut. Colonel Burillo, a Regular Army officer who had distinguished himself at the defence of Madrid by his remarkable energy and the struggle he had carried on against the spirit of defeatism, called a conference of the international Press representatives and gave them the following communiqué, the contents of which follow below, and which also establishes the complicity of the P.O.U.M. with the Spanish rebels:

“The police have discovered an organisation of spies, of a military character, which, directed by the rebels’ general staff, has extended its activities throughout the entire territory of the Republic, and especially Catalonia.

“This organisation has introduced its agents into the vital centres of the Army – infantry, artillery, tanks – Air Force and Navy. It has sent secret information to the enemy about the preparation and plans of our military operations, about aero-dromes and the positions of troops, about supplies of ammu-nition, and various military activities, both in the front line and in the rear.

“In order to direct movements of these spies working in Republican territory, and to make better and more rapid use of the information they collect, ex-General Franco had organised a branch of the secret service section of his general staff at Perpignan. This secret service section at Perpignan had estab-lished contact with the spying organisations by means of liai-son agents who maintained regular communications between Perpignan and the different towns of the Republic. As a result of the search which we have made, we are now in possession of a series of papers, bearing the signatures of those under arrest, containing secret information of a military character which was to be transmitted to the enemy.

“The statements of the prisoners, as well as the documents found, show that the organisation was also engaged in sabotage and that it intended to destroy important military buildings, bridges, arsenals, etc., and that it was planning the assassination of some of the leading members of the Government and the leaders of the Army.

“The search, which was carried out at the house of Roca, one of the leading members of the organisation, revealed, between two mattresses, some extremely important documents which, together with Roca’s own statements, show that one of the most important centres of this espionage organisation was composed of a large and well organised group many of whom were members of the P.O.U.M. This group had as its distinc-tive sign the letter C and each one of its agents in the network of spies was designated by the letter C and a corresponding number.

“In a letter found in the bookshop belonging to Roca’s fa-ther, in the course of a search carried out on September 18th, was found the following information which had been sent to Franco’s general staff:

‘(1) The group led by agent C.16 succeeded on the 5th of last August in putting out of action three artillery pieces in Divisions K and M, in a decisive moment during operations.

‘(2) The organisation is preparing to blow up the bridges across the Ebro.

‘(3) The organisation informed General Franco’s staff that a military train carrying arms had arrived and a specification of the arms was given.

‘(4) Information about the artillery on the Aragon front.

‘(5) On the question of food, the organisation has provoked protest demonstrations amongst the population.

‘(6) Suggestions were made for the assassination of Walter and Modesto, leading figures in the People’s Army.

‘(7) Suggestions were made for an attempt on the life of one of the Ministers of the Republic, the idea being to make the attempt when he was driving in his car…. Two cars with men armed with hand-grenades should follow the Minister’s car. The carrying out of this attempt against the Minister’s life had been entrusted to two members of the P.O.U.M. registered as C.18 and C.23.’

“A plan of the P.O.U.M. workshop in which the hand-grenades were made was found in the letter.

“The leaders of the P.O.U.M.’s espionage organisation were complaining in this letter of not being able to make use of all their network of agents as the full list of secret P.O.U.M. agents was only known by two leading members of the P.O.U.M., and both of these were under arrest in Valencia awaiting trial.”

This official document communicated to the Press of the world by the Spanish police raised the veil covering this gigantic case of spying, and once more made plain the complicity of the P.O.U.M.

Such great variety of documents were found that the Barcelona police had to condense into the above report only the essentials. After the discovery, the first consideration of the authorities had been to get their agents to make out a list of the objects and documents found which one of the accused signed with his own hand (facsimile of this published in the Appendix). Here is a verbatim text of the police document:

”In the town of Gerona at two o’clock on the morning of September 10th, 1937, the agents Isidro Nogues, Luis Fabrigat, Fernando Quadrado, Eduardo Montero, Miguel Parraga, Antonio Rupat, Stanislav Ferres and Antonio Gonzales, attached to the State department of information (the last-named in the position of secretary), put into execution the search-warrant issued by the Chief of Police, in the domicile of José Roca Falgueras, aged 58, widower, native of Gerona, son of Andres and Anna, living on the third floor of 6 Carreras Peralta Street. They went into a book-shop situated in Number 2 of the same street belonging to him, and in the presence of himself and his son, Joaquin Roca, they proceeded to a thorough search of all the offices and furniture of the shop in question. A chestnut-coloured fibre suitcase 48 cms. long, 30 cms. wide, and 14 cms. high was found at the back of the shop in the left-hand corner of a room. Also an iron box 24 cms. long, 18 cms. wide, and 9 cms. high. Inside the suitcase the following documents were found:

”Twenty-five plans describing the manufacture of different kinds of bombs and hand-grenades. Ten other plans giving details on the construction of different kinds of war materials. Two diagrams describing the composition of the bomb in question as well as a detailed plan of the mechanism of several engines.

”At the bottom of the documents in question there is a stamp as follows: ‘War Department, P.O.U.M., Central Military Committee.’

”A letter addressed to Mme. Barolet for M. Ferrer, 40 Rue des Augustins, Perpignan, and inside three sheets of paper and a mass of printed notes in the text of which several words had been written in by hand in capital letters, referring to questions of espionage and the organisation of acts of terrorism against members of the Republican Government.

”The suitcase also contained fifty newspapers of different dates. The iron box already mentioned contained Bank of Spain notes amounting to 11,825 pesetas in notes of 100, 50, and 25 pesetas, and the remainder in coins.

”In the safe of the shop were notes to the value of 135 pesetas, 2 pesetas in silver. In the desk was a letter and a postcard and a revolver.

”In a coat belonging to Joaquin Roca, a letter and unused envelope were found, the envelope bearing the number 8 and containing three 1,000-peseta notes.”

This document was signed by each of the agents that took part in the search and also by the principal accused, Joaquin Roca.

Now follows the entire text of the letter referred to in paragraph four of the police report. This letter was to be sent from Barcelona to Perpignan and thence to Franco’s headquarters:

”We take notice of your instructions that the liaison agents should not know all the secret groups of informers. Provisionally, we have put the agent of group C.4 in touch with group C.12 as the agent C.19 has not shown up for a fortnight – we learned later that he has been ill. In accordance with your wireless message we will send you all the secret information which we get from P.O.U.M. agents who have not yet been arrested; we will send this only by means of ‘Litus’. Information from other secret agents will be sent to you as before. The job of speeding up the work of our secret P.O.U.M. agents goes very slowly. We don’t even know all our agents, as a complete list was only known to ‘Autor’ and ‘Clavel’ who, as you know, are in prison in Valencia awaiting trial. As I said above, I send you herewith by `Litus’ the following information gathered by agents C.5 and C.8.

”(1) Our people succeeded in putting out of action on the 25th August three of the guns of the 25th Division at a most critical moment. As you know, they had already put out of action four guns of the 45th Division. This job was done by group C.16 whose leader seems to be distinctly promising.

”(2) In answer to your question C.16 has noted that there are not ninety 75-mm. guns on the Aragon front but nine. It seems that a typing error had got into our first report. There are only seven 76-mm. guns. We should like to draw your attention to the fact that even if there is enough ammunition for the other guns there is not enough for the 76-mm. guns. We are concentrating our attention on putting artillery out of action.

”(3) Our people are getting ready to blow up the bridges over the Ebro. We have enough explosives and some of our men are experienced dynamiters. We are studying the control of the bridges and trying to find out how they are guarded.

”(4) We have not yet had reports from our agents on the subject of aviation. ‘Imperial’ comes back from Cancasnos next week and will also touch at Caspe.

”(5) I have been promised that they will get ready for the assassination of Walter and Modesto as soon as the fighting begins again.

”(6) You wanted to know how much material arrived on 4th September in the ship which unloaded at Rosas. Approximately there were 140 cases of light machine-guns and over 1,000 cases of Mauser rifles.

”(7) You ask me who C.29 and C.41 are. I told you in one of my previous letters that they are active leaders of groups of secret agents – Rosalio Negrete (Blackwell) and Gisella Winter Gerster. Walter Schwarz in whom you are interested is now out of prison; he hasn’t come to see me yet but that is caution on his part.

”(8) I myself gave C.18 and C.23 your instructions about Prieto. I sent them to Valencia to stimulate the work of the P.O.U.M. group. Enclosed is the letter from C.18 and C.23. As you can see, your instructions are being carried out successfully.

”I am enclosing the designs for the manufacture of bombs which you sent me.

”(9) I am waiting for the spare valves for the radio – I must have them or the first time anything goes wrong we shall be cut off.

”PS. (1) I have just been told that the commander of the 45th Division, Kleber, has been dismissed and Hans has been put in his place. (2) I have just seen Flor. Vigorous preparations are being made for an insurrection in which the majority of the active members of the P.O.U.M. will take part. We have taken good advantage of the food shortage to organise a demonstration amongst the women. This should take place within two days.”

It will be seen that the above document (facsimile of which is given in the Appendix) has been counter-signed by its author and certified as authentic. We now proceed to the following note, which was also found amongst this batch of documents, and which reveals what were the ”instructions ” given to agents C.18 and C.23 – to assassinate Prieto, the Minister of National Defence, with handgrenades.

(The attempted murder of General Walter, one of the most popular commanders of the Spanish People’s Army was not carried out according to plan and failed; when Walter was in Madrid an attempt on his life was made one night but luckily it was unsuccessful.)

Here is the text of the document concerning the attempted assassination of Prieto:

Letter Number 4

”With regard to P., after keeping a careful watch we have come to the following conclusion: we must give up the idea of arranging for an interview with P. in his office, as he is too well guarded. We have also to reckon with the fact that there are always a great many people walking about in this region. We have kept a very careful watch on the cars and we think that the road to Betera will be the best; traffic on this road is very irregular. We have already got two cars for the job. We have decided that hand-grenades will be best for him. I am now busy teaching our people the proper way of throwing them. Signed.

Lastly, here is a further long but intensely interesting piece of evidence. This is the official report of the cross- examination of Joaquin Roca, one of the principal accused:

”In the town of Barcelona, at 12.55 on September 20th, 1937, before Antonio Gonzales Cruz, examining agent, and José Maria Balart Ramon, in the capacity of secretary, I, Joaquin Roca Amich, aged 23, native and inhabitant of Gerona, son of Joaquin Roca Falgueras and of Carmen Amich Escuero, living at Flat 2 on the third floor of No. 6 Dr. Carreras Peralta Street, state freely and spontaneously:

”(1) Question to Accused: Do you confess that you have formed part of a spying organisation and that you have taken reports of military secrets to send them to representatives of the general staff of Franco?

Accused: Yes. It is true that I was part of an espionage organisation and that I have taken reports of military secrets in order to send them to a representative of the general staff of General Franco.

”(2) Question to Accused: Who, until now, has directed the work of espionage for General Franco and where is this person directing the organisation or his chief?

Accused: I don’t know who was directing the spying in Spain, but I do know that the man in charge of espionage work at Perpignan is my chief, Ramon Xifra Riera, who lives in the town of Perpignan.

”(3) Question to Accused: Where are the headquarters of General Franco’s intelligence service and who are the most prominent people at this headquarters?

Accused: I don’t know where Franco’s espionage headquarters are. All I know is that there is a centre which directs espionage for General Franco at Perpignan and the chief of this centre is Ramon Xifra Riera.

”(4) Question: What sort of instructions have you had from your chief on Franco’s staff about military espionage?

Accused: My chief, Ramon Xifra Riera, has asked me to give him information about the nature and quantity of war-materials entering Spain, about the defence works on the Catalonian coast, about the morale and feelings of the population behind the lines. He has also asked me for reports on the situation on the Aragon front and for various other information of a general character.

”(5) Question: In what way was communication organised between you and the agent of Franco’s staff?

Accused: My chief, Ramon Xifra Riera, wrote to me that I should write my information in invisible ink and send it to him by post. He advised me to use postcards as these would be less likely to arouse suspicion of the authorities. Riera also told me that later he would arrange to have my information carried by a man who would present himself at Cosme Dalmau Mora’s house under the name of Dax. This man never turned up. I told my chief Riera that I did not want to send him any more reports by post and in future I would always send them by one of the people whom Cosme Dalmau Mora employed to help Fascists and deserters cross the border into France. Cosme Dalmau Mora had other agents working with him and with Franco’s representative at Perpignan. Cosme Dalmau Mora also organised the fight of Fascist refugees abroad. This same Cosme Dalmau Mora was a most important person in Catalonia and the chief of a group of spies working for Franco. On Monday 13th of this month (I am not quite sure if it was 13th or 14th) Mora told me that the next Sunday he was going to smuggle fifteen people into France through the mountains.

”Owing to the exhaustion of the accused this statement finished at three o’clock on the day already mentioned. It will be continued at a convenient time. The examining agent, the accused, and myself, signed the document, which I certified in my capacity of secretary.

The accused Signed:
JOAQUIN ROCA.

In the capacity of secretary the examining agent Signed:
ANTONIO GONZALEZ.”

Second Statement

”In the town of Barcelona at 1.15 on September 22nd, 1937, before Isidro Nogues Porta and José Maria Balart Ramon, secretary, I, Joaquin Roca Amich, declare freely and spontaneously

”(1) Question to the Accused: Are you the only spying link between Catalonia and Franco’s headquarters at Perpignan?

Accused: No. There are other lines of spying as the following facts show. I got letters by means of Cosme Dalmau Mora and lately I have had another letter sent to me by means of a man who came to me under the name of Ferrer. There is another fact. Mora once showed me a paragraph in a letter from Ramon Xifra Riera which said: It would be useful if you could put us in touch with Roca (Litus).’ This was the first invitation I had to join the espionage group in the service of General Franco.

”(2) Question: Is the espionage group of which you were a member the only group working in Catalonia under the direction of Franco’s staff at Perpignan?

Accused: No. There are other groups directed by Franco’s staff in Perpignan which work in Catalonia, but I don’t know them because they are secret.

”(3) Question: What is the character of the reports which you have sent to Franco’s espionage service in Perpignan and what are the most important pieces of information that you have communicated to them?

Accused: Reports which I have sent to Franco’s spy group at Perpignan are of a secret military nature, as you can see from the letter written in my handwriting and found between the mattresses of my bed.

I was preparing to send this letter to the agent of Franco’s staff at Perpignan. Actually, my reports dealt with the batteries on the Catalonian coast, the calibre and number of the guns, anti-aircraft defences, aerodromes, petrol supplies. In my report on the Aragon front I sent information about tanks, information a bout the Army, and especially about the existence of important groups of Fascist officers whom we thought we might be able to use against the Republican Government. I also sent reports on the number of gunners who were attached to the Fascist cause.

”(4) Question: Have you only practised espionage, or have you also taken part in acts of sabotage and in the destruction of material which is indispensable to the National Defence of the Republic?

Accused: No, I have not been engaged in any work of sabotage or destruction.

Question: That’s not true. We know that your organisation was engaged in sabotage.

Accused: I only suggested to my chief Riera, Franco’s representative at Perpignan, that one of the three bridges over the rivers Ter, Fluvia and La Muga, on the railway line from the front to Barcelona, should be destroyed by bombing from the air, as a great deal of war-material, for the defence of the Republic is carried along this line. In my letter to Riera I said that there would be no danger in carrying out the air raid as there was no anti-aircraft defence, only an old half-useless machine-gun. I also wrote to Riera and told him that it was necessary to destroy three petrol depôts near the railway station at Celra which are camouflaged and covered with branches.

”(5) Question: Who destroyed the three guns of the 25th Division and the four guns of the 45th Division mentioned in the letter that the police found at your house?

Accused: I don’t know who destroyed them because that job wasn’t done by our group but by another group which was also working under the orders of Franco’s agents at Perpignan, one of whom sent me the letter to which you have referred.

”(6) Question: The organisation of which you were a member has committed acts of terrorism against members of the Republican Government or against some of its representatives, hasn’t it?

Accused: I have not personally been concerned in any acts of terrorism, I have only carried on espionage.

Question: That is not true because the letter which was found in your place mentions an attempt against Prieto on the Betera road as well as one against the Republican Army Commanders, Modesto and Walter.

Accused: The attempted assassinations of Prieto and the Army Commanders, Modesto and Walter, was prepared by the secret group of agents of the P.O.U.M., which is directed by Franco’s spying centre at Perpignan. The letter, which was given me together with other documents by one of the agents of the group in question who works illegally in Spain, testifies to this. The agent in question told me that he would come back to collect the documents on the 19th of this month.

”(7) Question: Who is Litus?

Accused: I am Litus.

”(8) Question: If you are Litus how do you describe your relations with the other espionage groups directed by Franco’s staff at Perpignan?

Accused: All the information collected by the other group, which is composed of the secret agents of the P.O.U.M., was sent to Perpignan through me, but I am not a member of this group and therefore am not responsible for what it does.

”(9) Question: Who is the person who sent you the letter containing reports on military espionage and in which the attempted assassinations are referred to?

Accused: I don’t know who sent me the letter with the military reports and the mention of the assassinations of Prieto, Modesto and Walter. As I told you before, this person called himself Ferrer. Physically he is short with a delicate skin, thin nose, black wavy hair and ordinary-looking mouth. I should think he was about twenty-five. He wore a brown suit with coloured stripes, a showy tie with a large knot. Altogether he was a very well dressed young man smelling of scent and with a slightly feminine appearance.

”(10) Question: Do you know if Cosme Dalmau Mora knew the group formed by the secret agents of the P.O.U.M., or whether he knew any one of these agents?

Accused: I don’t know.

”(11) Question: Tell me the names of the people who have given you reports which you have communicated to Franco’s staff at Perpignan?

Accused: Reports on the petrol depôts at Celra were given me in all good faith by a schoolmaster in the village called Ciurana. I should like to state that this man is entirely loyal to the Republican régime. The reports on the Aragon front were given me verbally by Cosme Dalmau Mora, who added that in the event of an advance by Franco’s forces the Republican Army would blow up the railway bridges. The information in my letter about Lerida (where there is no garrison) I got from a schoolmaster at Aíguaviva who is an officer.”

The accused Signed:                                   Examining agent Signed:

JOAQUIN ROCA.                           J. NOGUES.”

These are the facts and in view of them any lengthy discussion is unnecessary. The documents speak for themselves and constitute a full condemnation of the criminal actions of the Trotskyist organisation in Spain. And these are only a selection from dozens of similar documents now in the posession of the Minister of the Interior establishing beyond all doubt the rôle of the P.O.U.M. as a spying organisation on Government territory. For months, since the search at the Peruvian Embassy, after which the leaders of the P.O.U.M.were arrested and imprisoned in Valencia, not a week has passed without the Minister of the Interior accumulating further evidence to show that the Trotskyist leaders were spies in the pay of the rebels and worked in close co-operation with the underground organisations of Phalangists and Monarchists.

One of the leaders however, Andres Nin, has escaped from the prison where he was shut up and we will now see to what fabulous legends and rumours this escape, which has been deliberately surrounded with mystery, has given rise.

NIN’S ESCAPE

After his arrest on June 16th, 1937, Nin was transferred to the civil prison at Valencia and thence to Madrid where he was immediately sent to the town of Alcala de Henares, about twelve miles from the capital, where he was locked up under a close watch by the police.

One night several men dressed as officers of the Regular Army, wearing badges of their rank, overpowered the guards of the prison, gagged and bound them, and went in and carried off the prisoner. From that moment, in spite of the most intensive search by the police, no trace of Nin has been found and no one has any idea where he is, whether he is a refugee in one of the foreign embassies which provide such generous hospitality to the Fascists of Franco’s Fifth Column; or whether he managed to get through to the rebel territory and preserves his anonymity in order not to compromise his friends who are in Republican gaols.

Around the facts of Nin’s escape the Trotskyists abroad built up, and continue to carry on, a tremendous Press campaign. The Fascist Press of the whole world gloats, intensifies its attacks against Repub-lican Spain, and makes the escape the subject of all sorts of monstrous rumours about the Spanish Communist Party and the Soviet Union. The lying rumours which were circulated in Paris at the time of the Koutiepov affair were revived. Queipo de Llano, in one of his daily mouthings from Seville over the air, declares that Nin has been mur-dered by order of the Negrin Government. The Fascist Press at San Sebastian claims that Nin has been assassinated by order from Moscow. The secret groups of the P.O.U.M. are circulating leaflets in which they hold Comorera (Catalan United Socialist leader), Prieto and Negrin responsible for Nin’s “death” and demand their heads in expiation. All sorts of different versions have been published in the Press: some say that Nin has been murdered and some that he is being kept in secret confinement.

There is nothing really astonishing about all this nonsense, which is just what history teaches us to expect. If we read the evidence of one of the prison warders who was gagged and bound by the men dressed as officers, the ”mystery” of Nin’s disappearance itself disappears. The warder’s statement is explicit. He said: ”Nin went quietly out of the prison with the officers.” The warder repeated that he went quietly without any sign of protest and added that at no moment did he try to call for help.

If Nin had been taken away against his will he would surely have made some attempt to attract the attention of the people outside and around the prison. The official statement mentions that there were some soldiers standing about outside the prison not far from the wall. They said that Nin got into the car with the officers in the most natural manner possible, and when they were questioned afterwards they all said that they had noticed nothing out of the ordinary.

All the evidence points to the fact that Nin was taken away by his friends, disguised as officers in uniforms which they could easily have procured in Madrid or Valencia. They had every reason for wanting to get him away before his examination, which would inevitably have revealed a mass of further incriminating evidence. Moreover, had he been found guilty by the people’s court, he would certainly have been condemned to death for high treason and espionage.

The Republican Government and the Communist Party could have had no possible reason for wanting Nin to disappear and not stand at his trial. He was the most important of the accused, one of the principal leaders of the P.O.U.M., and the evidence against him was of an overwhelmingly grave nature. His cross-examination would have elicited most important information about the underground activity of his organisation and its relations with the Fascist rebels. In reality, Nin’s escape was nothing but one more act in a long series of provocations against the Republican Government.

THE MAY PUTSCH IN BARCELONA

By the beginning of May 1937, some days before the criminal rising in Barcelona began, the military situation of the Spanish Government was more favourable than at any time since July 1936 when Franco’s rebellion broke out. The Italian troops were still recovering with difficulty after the tremendous defeat which had been inflicted on them at Guadalajara. The People’s Army, formed after months of bitter defensive fighting and heavy losses, had at last shown its offensive potentialities. The relations between the various trade union and political organisations had improved. The great mass of the people was enthusiastic over the success of the Republican forces and was expressing its desire for the formation of a powerful, organised and disciplined army.

To any detached observer who was well informed about the situation at the front and behind the lines on both sides, it was obvious that the best way of discounting the advantages which the Republic had won would be to strike a blow at Catalonia. The rebels had just started their campaign against Bilbao and had good reason to fear that Catalonia would harass them by taking the offensive on the Aragon front.

Nothing could have been more acceptable to the Fascists than a diversion in Catalonia. The P.O.U.M., which for months had been trying to sabotage the Popular Front, was daily clamouring for its disruption and intriguing for the insurrection which would bring this about. The internal situation in Catalonia was such that the Government had to concentrate all its attention on it when dealing with it and was unable to assist the Basques. Caballero, and his Minister of the Interior, Angel Galarza, refused to see the danger and when pressed by the United Socialist Party of Catalonia as well as by the Spanish Communist Party gave evasive and dilatory replies.

Meanwhile, the P.O.U.M. was carefully planning the details of the insurrection. On May 3rd it was suggested that the Catalonian military authorities should take control of the telephone service. It was intolerable, for instance, when the Minister of the Interior was talking to one of the provincial governors, telling him what action to take against those responsible for various provocative activities, that the P.O.U.M.’s agents should be listening in and able to warn their people to clear out.

At the same time, the Catalonian authorities had decided to dissolve once and for all the so-called ”control patrols”, which had been formed immediately after Franco’s rebellion began and which had become inundated with all kinds of disruptive elements and adventurers. It was also taking in hand the organisation of the army on the Aragon front.

The P.O.U.M., finding that its situation was daily growing more unfavourable and that the masses were disapproving of its policy, chose this moment for its putsch.

Inevitably, the question arises: What were the real aims of the P.O.U.M. in fomenting this putsch? With only some thousands of supporters at its disposal it could not hope to seize power for itself. But it could hope to disrupt and split the two great trade union organisations just when their relations were improving. This is shown by the fact that as soon as the putsch began the leaders of the P.O.U.M. tried to win over to their own side some of the wilder elements of the C.N.T. (National Confederacion of Labour, the Anarcho-Syndicalist organisation) and tried to get them to take part in street fighting against both the forces of the U.G.T. (Socialist Trade Union) and those of the Catalonian authorities and of the Central Government. Thanks to the calmness and energy of the leaders of these two organisations, this disaster was avoided and the Trotskyists found themselves on the barricades alone with the Fascists of the Fifth Column and a handful of disorderly elements.

The P,O.U.M., whose official organ, La Batalla, had been able to write without being suppressed that ”the rebellion of July 19th broke out because the Popular Front was formed”, had declared several days before the putsch that it was in favour of the constitution of a revolutionary junta which would take power by force. In a series of articles that appeared in La Batalla during the days before the putsch the Trotskyist leaders openly agitated for a coup d’état.

In the manifesto published by the P.O.U.M. on May 1st, we read:

“Conscious of its direct responsibility, the P.O.U.M., the Party of the Revolution, calls on all workers, on this 1st May, to form a workers’ revolutionary front to fight against the common enemy, which is capitalism, to advance the Socialist revolution, to destroy bourgeois institutions and create a workers’ and peasants’ government.”

The following paragraph is taken from a manifesto signed by the Executive Committee of the P.O.U.M.:

”Rifles in hand, the workers are aroused because the working class has lost patience. The workers are tired of this wavering policy, of the sabotage on the Aragon fronts, with military disasters. That is why we are coming out into the streets.”

The miserable demagogy of the leaders of the P.O.U.M. with their Leftist phrase-mongering did not stop there. Having accumulated behind the lines arms, munitions and tanks that had been intended for the front, they announced:

”There are tanks, planes, and arms enough, but they won’t give them to Catalonia; they won’t let the revolutionary proletariat have them.”

It should be noted that after the Barcelona putsch thousands of rifles were discovered, which the Trotskyist leaders had diverted from the front. The arms and war-materials which the P.O.U.M. had managed to collect by May 3rd included thousands of rifles, several hundred machine-guns and dozens of tanks.

On May 3rd, at three o’clock in the afternoon, the Catalan Com-missioner of Public Order, Rodriguez Salas, went to the central telephonic exchange which the evening before had been taken over by fifty armed members of the P.O.U.M. Shock troops entered the building, turned out the fifty men, and the telephone exchange was in the hands of the Government.

So far there had been not the slightest trouble, but the Minister of Public Order made the mistake of thinking matters would end there and failed to take further precautionary measures. The fifty men were let go, and they roamed the streets of Barcelona and got together a mob. During the night several shots were heard.

The comment of La Batalla on this incident was as follows

“As soon as the news went round the workers set up barricades.”

The members of the P.O.U.M. were called together by a notice printed in La Batalla which read as follows:

”All militant members of the P.O.U.M., including those belonging to the Popular school of War, must come at once to the premises of the Military Executive Committee at No. 10 Ramblas de Estudios. This is urgent.”

Barcelona then experienced the disorder which the leaders of the P.O.U.M. had so carefully planned. On the Plaza de España the Trotskyists brought into action the batteries of 75’s which they had stolen from the Aragon front, and the blood of the workers flowed. Thanks however to the cool headedness of the leaders of the U.G.T. and the C.N.T. the fighting was localised. The Trotskyists resisted for some time, but were obliged to retreat before the overwhelming forces of the Catalan working class. In the course of this outrageous insurrection 900 were killed and 2,500 wounded.

A great wave of popular indignation swept through Barcelona and the entire people demanded justice. The first obvious measure seemed to be the dissolution of the P.O.U.M. and the suspension of its paper, La Batalla. But the Minister of the Interior of the Caballero Government, after hesitating for several days, refused to take any action against the P.O.U.M. Encouraged by this extraordinary attitude, the Trotskyists renewed their agitation. And while work was beginning again in the city and the forces of public order were disarming scattered uncontrolled groups, the members of the P.O.U.M. were found on the barricades side by side with members of Franco’s Fifth Column.

The Fascists needed prolonged disturbances so that it would be impossible for Catalonia to send any help to the Basques, and so that a further Press and propaganda campaign could be carried on against Government Spain abroad. This indeed was exactly what happened. In the days that followed the reactionary and Fascist Press of the world raved about the chaos in Catalonia and the ”rebellion of the people against the Soviet dictatorship”. Meanwhile, the rebel radio stations of Salamanca and Saragossa repeated incessantly day and night the same advice as the P.O.U.M.:

”Hold on to your weapons – don’t give up the struggle at any price – unite with your brothers at the front and hurl the Russian dictators out of your country.”

On May 7th La Batalla appealed as follows to the soldiers:

”Leave the front and go and fight against the Government in Catalonia.”

During this period the enemy suspended all activities on the Aragon front. It has since been discovered that Fascist planes were going to be sent to the assistance of the putschists. It is a strange coincidence that the aims followed by the P.O.U.M. should be identical with those of the Fascist general staff.

By the time that P.O.U.M. had been declared an illegal organisation by the Negrin Government, so many revelations had been made about its criminal activities that these were uppermost in the public mind and there has been a tendency to forget the long struggle which it had carried on against the Popular Front. Actually the later and brazenly treacherous activities of P.O.U.M., such as the Barcelona putsch and its contacts with Franco’s espionage organisations, have their roots in its political history ever since the formation of the Popular Front.

THE P.O.U.M. AGAINST THE POPULAR FRONT

We have already referred to the formation of the P.O.U.M. in 1935, as the result of a coalition between the workers and peasant bloc founded by Joaquin Maurin and a tiny group of Leftists led by Nin, Gorkin and Andrade, and related how, from the day of its formation, the P.O.U.M. set out to wreck working-class unity in Spain. After the victory of the Popular Front at the elections, the P.O.U.M. redoubled its efforts. Its Press and its platforms poured out attacks against the leading figures of the Popular Front. At this time one of the P.O.U.M.’s leaders was a member of the Catalonian Government. After his expulsion the attacks became even more violent.

On December 15th, 1936, at a meeting of the Plenum of the Central Committee of the P.O.U.M. it was decided that the struggle against the Popular Front must be intensified. At this crucial time in the history of the Spanish people, when it was clear that their only hope of victory against the forces of Fascist intervention lay in Unity, the P.O.U.M. embarked on a policy the essential aim of which was to split the ranks of the People’s Forces.

In the eyes of the leaders of the P.O.U.M. the alliance between the proletariat and the middle classes, which enabled vigorous resistance to be made against the Fascist rebellion and the formation of a Government in which working-class representatives collaborated with the forces of the Republican petty bourgeoisie, was infamous. A resolution adopted by this same Plenum of the Central Committee of the P.O.U.M., regarding the fundamental institutions of the Republic, demands:

”The dissolution of the bourgeois Parliament and in its place an Assembly composed of delegates from factory committees, representatives and delegates from the peasants and from the Fronts; a workers’ and peasants’ government, a workers’ democracy.”

These demands were made at the very moment when the mass of the workers had achieved active participation in the Popular Front Government, and when the workers and peasants had seen their conditions of life entirely transformed. The land had just been given to the poor peasants; the wages basis had been entirely revised; and Spanish democracy was organising the framework of social justice.

From the moment of its formation, and especially &ler July 19th, the Popular Front was the instrument of the liberation of the Spanish people. It was the means by which the United working class was able to shake off the yoke of feudalism, and when Germany and Fascist Italy intervened in Spain it was plain that the fight which the Popular Front led against foreign invasion was the fight for Spanish independence. While straining every nerve to overcome Fascism, both native and foreign, the Popular Front was struggling to transform Spanish society, which until then had been more or less feudal, into a parliamentary republic of a new type. The future of this new type of republic, which has already changed the conditions of life of the working class and the petty bourgeoisie, was and still is indissolubly linked with the struggle for Spain as an independent nation.

What was the attitude of the leaders of the P.O.U.M. on this question? Gorkin categorically stated at a meeting:

”It is impossible for a Marxist, a revolutionary, to say that he is fighting in a war of independence. Marx and Engels said that a revolutionary has no country, this war is a class war.”

Following their usual practice of taking phrases from Marx and citing them out of their context, the Trotskyists tried to sow the seeds of doubt and dissension everywhere. It is easy enough to correct their distortions. In the sense in which Marx used it, the word ”country” has nothing in common with a Spain set free from feudalism by the Popular Front. Marx was applying his analysis to ”countries” in which the situation was radically different. It will be remembered how vigorously Lenin fought against the method of applying classical texts to historic situations whose individual peculiarities were clearly defined, and of trying to draw practical conclusions from the application. To-day the Spanish workers are defending the country which they themselves have conquered, while the Trotskyists, claiming to be the only true disciples of the founder of scientific Socialism, merely try to weaken the defence of the Republic.

Let us now consider the method which the P.O.U.M. employed against the political and trade union unity of the workers and anti-Fascist organisations.

The working-class organisation which was the object of the P.O.U.M.’s most vigorous attacks was the Spanish Communist Party. It will be reckoned the outstanding historic achievement of the Spanish Communist Party that, from the first weeks of the Fascist generals’ rebellion against the legitimate Government, it clearly defined the war as the struggle of the entire Spanish people against its oppressors at home and their allies from abroad. By describing the war of Spanish independence the Communist Party entirely identified the Popular Front with the Spanish nation and thereby enlarged the basis of resistance against the invader. At the same time, it pointed out the needs which were essential to the conduct of the war: creation of a powerful war-industry, the re-establishment of order and discipline so that all the resources and energies of the country could be effectually mobilised.

What was the attitude of the P.O.U.M. in its opposition to the Communist Party and the P.S.U.C. (United Socialist Party of Catalonia)? The leaders of the P.O.U.M. suddenly started describing the Spanish Communist Party as the party of counter-revolution. The P.O.U.M. opposed all the main points of Communist-Party policy by putting forward a mass of demagogic demands. For instance, when the Communist Party sanctioned giving to the poor peasants the land which they had cultivated, but which they had not possessed, the P.O.U.M. clamoured tempestuously for the immediate and forcible socialisation of all land.

In order to try and delude the masses about the aims which it was really pursuing, the P.O.U.M. branded the Communist Party and the P.S.U.C. as reformists. Declaring themselves the “Guardians of the revolution” the leaders of the P.O.U.M. started a Press campaign, couched in seductively “theoretical” phrases, about the “degeneration of the Communist Party and the P.S.U.C.”, hoping to attract the few workers and peasants who had not understood the Communist and Socialist political line. In La Batalla, April 4th, there was an article about the “theoretical degeneration” of the Communist Party which actually claimed that the Communist Party had “put too much emphasis on German and Italian intervention”. Another line of attack took the form of declaring that the Communist Party was “to the right of all parties in the Popular Front, even to the right of the Republicans.”

Against the P.S.U.C. (United Socialist Party of Catalonia) the P.O.U.M. brought forward the usual accusation about the inactivity on the Aragon front:

”Listen, you workers who are kept in a state of paralysis at the front and paralysed behind the lines through lack of arms. The P.S.U.C. would like to make the revolutionary movement responsible for the inactivity on the Aragon front.”

And all this time, while it was spreading these infamous lies, the P.O.U.M. itself was busy storing enormous stacks of munitions stolen from the fronts and waiting for the moment to tum these arms against the workers.

In its attempts to disrupt working-class unity, the P.O.U.M. also got to work amongst the Youth organisations. The Socialist and Communist Youth organisations had been united since June 1936 and from the beginning of the war onwards they have constituted one of the most powerful anti-Fascist organisations in the country, numbering 315,000. They provided a mass of troops and important cadres for the People’s Army. The J.S.U. (United Socialist Youth) had been working hard for over a year to achieve the unity of Spanish youth and to form a National Alliance of Youth into which they have succeeded in incorporating the Anarchist youth. The P.O.U.M., with a great display of Leftist phrasemongering, began to form a skeleton Youth organisation of its own, which it called the Iberian Communist Youth and the aim of which was to prevent the young from taking part in the National Youth Alliance. The leader of the Young Iberian “Communists” described the National Youth Alliance as “a monstrous crime.” Fortunately, however, the leaders of the young Anarchists did not allow themselves to be deceived by the P.O.U.M. and joined the National Youth Alliance.

La Batalla launched the most venomous attacks against the J.S.U., whose members were fighting on all fronts, and described it as counter-revolutionary and tried to discredit it in the eyes of the leaders of the young Anarchists. The P.O.U.M. followed the same tactics in trying to split trade union unity. Here is an example. On March 25th, 1937, Pedro Bonet, one of the Syndicalist leaders of the P.O.U.M., who had already made several venomous attacks against the U.G.T. (General Workers’ Union – Socialist), declared:

”The S.E.P.I. [an organisation of small shopkeepers] must be the first to leave the U.G.T. This organisation of small employers and shopkeepers can survive if it likes, but only outside the organisation of the U.G.T. The workers of the U.G.T. cannot breathe in an organisation in which there are non-proletarian elements.”

At the same time La Batalla ran a campaign which aimed to oppose the two great unions, the U.G.T. and the C.N.T. The C.N.T.’s answer to this piece of provocation was embodied in the call for unity of the masses of both trade unions which its leaders sounded on the day after the P.O.U.M.’s insurrection in Barcelona. Once again the disruptive plans of the Trotskyist leaders had failed.

THE P.O.U.M. AGAINST THE GOVERNMENT

All the attempts of the P.O.U.M. to wreck the unity of work-ing-class and anti-Fascist organisations were part of a determined campaign against the Popular Front as such. Numerous quotations from Trotskyist literature can be cited to support this contention. According to the Trotskyist leaders the Popular Front is “a paper Government, an anti-workers’ Government”. Sometimes the P.O.U.M. was carried away by its provocative fury and forgot all political tact and attacked all the organisations which supported the Government. These attacks were met by an indignant reply from the C.N.T. organ in Madrid, which wrote:

”We cannot agree with the tone which La Batalla and the Red Fighter [another Trotskyist paper] adopt towards the Government Press in their grossly mistaken campaign against the Popular Front.”

At the same time the P.O.U.M. was carrying on a shameful campaign, the aim of which was to popularise rumours that were circulating abroad about an approaching armistice. It did this at the moment when Madrid had won the admiration of the entire world for its glorious resistance and when the Republican Army, having checked the German and Moroccan troops on the Jaramma front, had won a great victory over the Italians at Guadalajara. The weakness which the Caballero Government showed in allowing the P.O.U.M. to carry on their intrigues and agitation against the Republic was almost incredible, especially as the P.O.U.M. was quite as active against Caballero’s Cabinet as against the Catalonian authorities and, later, against the Negrin Government. Caballero’s Minister of the Interior, in particular, displayed an extraordinary tolerance towards the P.O.U.M.

Sometimes the Trotskyists tried to play off the Central Government against the Catalan Government, but the general line of attack against both Governments was equally violent.

We have already explained that whilst the Trotskyists were storing arms which were intended for the front they attacked the Government and blamed it for the delay. For instance, on January 17th at Castellon Gironella, one of the leaders of the P.O.U.M. said in a speech:

”You wonder why there is no advance on the Aragon front. No offensive has been launched on the Aragon front because the Government does not wish to take the offensive, and the reason why it does not wish to take the offensive is because it does not wish to arm the revolutionaries who are on that front.”

The P.O.U.M., however, were not content with storing arms, but they also negotiated to buy them from abroad as the following letter shows. This was sent from Prague, by the Alarm Group, to Gorkin:

”Prague.

February 22nd, 1937.

”DEAR COMRADES,

”We have the opportunity of getting fifty machineguns (Masch inengewehre, Model 6) from the Czechoslovakian Government at a very reduced price in a perfectly legal manner. We are writing to you because we think you will have a better chance than ourselves of being able to arrange this sale for the P.O.U.M. If you can be the intermediary in this sale please let us know at once. The price of the guns will be 15,000 Kc. in all.

”In awaiting your reply to this confidential letter we beg you, dear comrades, to accept our most cordial greetings.

”For the Alarm Group,

(Signature illegible.)

”P.S. We cannot give any credit and you will have to pay for the arms immediately.”

Another form of Trotskyist provocative slander was to declare that the Central Government had given autonomy to the Basques, to Catalonia and to Aragon because, as Arquer said in a speech: ”they haven’t the strength to govern them themselves.” This idiotic rumour was spread in spite of the fact that the political forces of the working class and especially the Communist Party have always been the champions of National minorities. Meanwhile, the P.O.U.M. did everything they could to discredit the Catalonian Government, which they described in La Batalla (December 20th, 1936) as

“the cause of the troubles behind the lines and of the dis-turbances and confusion at the front. The new Cabinet is in itself an advantage to the Fascist forces.”

This attitude coincided exactly with the propaganda which was being poured out by the Fascist radio-stations at Salamanca and Seville. Indeed, it coincided with it on a great many other points, especially the question of the relations of the Spanish Government with the democ-racies of Europe. These relations the P.O.U.M. did their best to make as difficult as possible.

The P.O.U.M. incessantly attacked the Soviet Government, which by its generous attitude to the Republic had won the sympathy and friendship of the people of Spain. The effective solidarity of U.S.S.R. and Spain exasperated the Trotskyist leaders. They let loose a violent campaign against ”Soviet aid” and used every one of the arguments which were being printed in the Fascist Press of the world, claiming that Russia was intervening in Spanish affairs and clamouring:

”We want the working class of Catalonia to be absolute master of its own fate.”

On December 18th, 1936, a resolution of the Central Committee of the P.O.U.M. concerning the question of Soviet aid declared:

”We want to stop this system by which, in exchange for material help, they are able to intervene in the leadership of the Spanish workers.”

Thus the Executive Committee of the P.O.U.M. embraced the standpoint of international Fascism. It repeated stories which had appeared in Fascist newspapers and stories which had been spread by Gestapo agents abroad.

On December 9th it was announced that Victor Serge, who had been expelled from the Soviet Union, had joined the staff of La Batalla. Hitherto, the P.O.U.M. had denied having any relations with the Trotskyists. They persisted in this denial and on January 24th, 1937, La Batalla announced:

”We are not Trotskyists but we consider that this tendency in the working-class movement is quite as legitimate as any other.”

This farce was not kept up very long, however, as the leaders of the P.O.U.M., who had all formerly been expelled from the Communist Party and who had adopted Trotskyist ideology, soon showed themselves in their true light. A delegation from the P.O.U.M. went to visit Trotsky in Mexico; Trotsky’s son, Sedov, made more and more secret trips and his relations with the leaders of the P.O.U.M. became closer. The phantom section of the so-called Bolshevik Leninist Fourth International worked in full accord with the leaders of the P.O.U.M. A mass of documents found when a search was made at Gorssin’s flat in Barcelona is evidence of this.

THE P.O.U.M. AGAINST THE PEOPLE’S ARMY

The formation of the Spanish People’s Republic’s Regular Army, organised on the same basis as the most up-to-date armies of Europe, was an achievement made possible by extraordinary determination and patience. It is undoubtedly one of the most remarkable feats which the Spanish Popular Front has performed since the rebellion of Franco and his generals. To transform the gallant but disorganised groups of workers’ militia, hurriedly gathered together on July 19th and armed with relics from the museums and anything that lay to hand, into a centralised united force properly commanded and trained in modern military technique, this was the urgent task which the Spanish people demanded of the Popular Front. It was a heavy and difficult task and it entailed months of patient effort in the course of which many disappointments and defeats had to be endured. But the loyalty and enthusiasm of the Spanish workers overcame all difficulties, as it will overcome all difficulties in the future. And with the valuable co-operation of several hundred officers of the Regular Army who had remained loyal to their oath to the Republic, the militiamen were organised into a force which was capable of holding Franco’s mercenary troops in check.

To this task, on which the very future of the country depended, and which constituted the only possible safeguard against the invasion by foreign Fascism, each of the parties of the Popular Front devoted their energies in proportion to their ability to size up the situation. For Spain it was a matter of life and death.

The P.O.U.M., true to its habitual line, devoted all its efforts to hindering the creation and organisation of the Regular Army. In Catalonia, where, at first, local traditions tended to oppose the introduction of military discipline, the P.O.U.M. used the demagogic slogan: ”The workers’ militia overcame the rebellion, they will win the war,” and resisted all the efforts of the United Socialist and Communist Parties to organise a regular army. The P.O.U.M. argued as follows:

“We don’t want a regular army because that means the recognition of militarism, it means using the same methods and forms as those which existed in the old army, we want only revolutionary militias.”

But in spite of this obstruction the People’s Army took shape; and when it proved itself at Madrid by checking the Fascist troops at the gates of the capital the Trotskyists changed their tactics, for, although they had been masquerading as revolutionaries, their open opposition to the Regular Army had revealed them in their true colours.

The P.O.U.M. then adopted its traditional splitting tactics. In the newly organised army, Socialists, Communists, Anarchists, Catholics and Republicans were fighting side by side. The P.O.U.M. opposed this with the conception of ”a purely working-class army ”, and one of its leaders, Solano, declared in a meeting at Castellon

”We cannot tolerate the formation of an army which included a crowd of young Liberals, petty bourgeoisie and Catholics.”

La Batalla added: ”an army without proletarian control is no guarantee for the revolution.” This insinuation was a direct lie because the Spanish working class had just provided the new Regular Army with the majority of its officers and a host of thoroughly tried leaders.

Alongside this criminal campaign, which aimed at undermining the very foundations of the Army, the P.O.U.M. conducted a venomous attack against the officers of the old Army who had remained loyal to the Republic and used every means in its power to try and provoke their hostility to the new régime. It based this attack on the suggestion that the sole control of the Army was in the hands of professional soldiers ”who could not be trusted”. And it spread this idea at the moment when numbers of military leaders were springing up from the ranks of the people in a way which was reminiscent of the French Revolution, providing the Spanish Army with such commanders as Modesto, Lister, Campesino, Mera, etc., and while professional soldiers like General Miaja, the life and soul of the defence of Madrid, and General Bosas were making glorious history for the Republic and giving the best possible proofs of their loyalty to the Spanish people.

Every step which represented a real advance in the task of organising the People’s Army was selected for attacks by the P.O.U.M. The General Military Commission, an institution which had been responsible for giving the Republican soldiers the high degree of political understanding which they have today, was also the object of Trotskyist provocation. The P.O.U.M.’s fundamental tactic was to cause disunity on all questions, and its leaders therefore urged that another military commissariat should be set up. This was the demand of Andres Nin when, on December 16th, 1936, he broadcast from Radio Barcelona, without the slightest compunction, all sorts of infamous abuse of this Republican organisation.

The practical result of this calculated piece of provocation was that the Trotskyists formed a division out of such dubious elements as expelled Phalangists and named it after Lenin. They opened a military school at Lerida and went on training officers there right up till May. The leaders of the P.O.U.M. hoped that they would have enough men on whom they could rely to influence any recruits whom Caballero, who was so tolerant towards them, would be foolish enough to provide.

Meanwhile the anti-Fascist organisations were sending thousands of their members to defend the capital. The P.O.U.M. then announced, with a great flourish, that its first contingent was about to leave for Madrid. The contingent actually did leave, but when it arrived at the capital its fighting strength amounted to the grand total of eighty men (this figure is corroborated on all sides).

As for the behaviour of the P.O.U.M. militiamen and the ”famous Lenin division” at the front, their constant fraternisation with the Fascists during their long stay on the Aragon front was notorious. In some districts, notably at Huesca, they even played football several times a week with the Fascists. Evidence of this fraternisation is provided by a young English volunteer, a former member of the I.L.P. He reports:

”Since, throughout my life, I have been devoted to justice, I became a Socialist, and when Fascism launched its attack against the Spanish people, I came to Spain in order to take part in the fight together with three worker comrades.

”I arrived in Spain with a group of I.L.P. volunteers on January 11 th with the intention of going to Madrid. But for reasons I have never been able to learn, I was kept in the ‘Lenin Barracks ‘ in Barcelona, which was controlled by the P.O.U.M. The only thing we did there was to take part in the daily march through the streets. This irritated our English group. Then we were incorporated in the P.O.U.M. militia on the Alcubierra sector of the Aragon front and placed under the command of Commandant Kopp.

”Here was a number of things we began to notice. Food in general was very scarce and we noticed that when the mules that brought the food to the front lines arrived the better kinds were always missing.

”Every night at 11 p.m. the sentries heard the rattle of a cart and we could tell from its light that it was crossing the space between the position on our left and the Fascist lines. We were ordered never to shoot at this light and when we grew inquisitive about it we were forbidden to try to find anything out. Our superiors gave us no satisfactory explanation and we each behaved as though none of us knew anything about any mysterious cart which crossed regularly to the enemy lines without being fired on. One day in the course of a skirmish we found, on the route that the cart must have taken each night, a small hut which must have been occupied by the Fascists. We succeeded in slipping past the sentries and trying to follow the cart on the next occasion, but the plan failed because the very same night there was a general recall and we were moved to another sector.

”Near Huesca there were the same difficulties about food. Our clothing was poor. And during a forward movement one night we saw Commandant Kopp returning from the Fascist lines.

”In their political work, also, the P.O.U.M. was similarly working for Fascism. The political reports given by representatives of the P.O.U.M. always painted defeat as inevitable, and was directed to make us believe that the workers were oppressed behind the front and about to be faced with a reign of terror. From time to time we were told of bloody clashes against the workers in the hinterland.

”When I got back to the front it was obvious that there was open fraternisation between the P.O.U.M. troops and the Fascists. Newspapers, tobacco and drinks were exchanged. Our positions were about 150 yards from the Fascist offensive, and despite the fact that the Fascists kept appealing to us to desert we had orders never to answer their fire. I realised more and more the pro-Fascist line of the P.O.U.M. and, with a friend named Arthur, asked permission to go home. I need not repeat all the excuses that were given for refusing permission. An American Trotskyist, on the other hand, was allowed back to Valencia, as soon as he asked.

”Arthur and I declared our refusal in advance to act for the P.O.U.M. against the Spanish Government, but offered to take part in building fortifications much needed in our sector. The P.O,U.M. then threatened to imprison us. We escaped to Barcelona and stayed there several days until we heard from a friend that the idea of resistance was abandoned. We then returned to the front and three weeks’ later incorporation into the People’s Army took place without incident. These experiences for a long time shook my faith in the Socialist movement. Today, however, I realise that, despite the baseness of certain leaders whom I once trusted, we workers must carry on the fight. And now I hope that more experienced than before, I may be able to give useful service in the struggle against Fascism and for Socialism. Long live the Republican Spanish people ! Long live the victory of all the workers of the world!”

Barcelona, August 21st, 1937.
Signed: ”J. A. FRANKFORT.”

The Trotskyists also issued, in the form of anonymous leaflets, a flo od of atrocious propaganda about the heroic International Brigade composed of volunteers from all countries who have come of their own free will to help the Spanish people. The following quotation, for instance, is worthy of Franco’s most faithful supporters:

”Anarchist comrades! Do not trust the International Brigade. It will provide the core of the army which the Communists of Catalonia and Spain will hurl against you. In the same way that the Communists during the Russian revolution destroyed the Anarchists.”

THE P.O.U.M.’S ATTEMPT TO UNDERMINE DISCIPLINE BEHIND THE LINES

It is an established fact of military experience that in a war between two forces which have more or less identical offensive opportunities the morale behind the lines plays a decisive part. In spite of its disadvantage in the face of German and Italian intervention, Republican Spain could count on the overwhelming superiority of its reserves, made up of enormous numbers of workers, peasants and petty bourgeoisie, who were fundamentally hostile to Fascism not only on ideological grounds but also because of their own economic interests. From the early days of the civil war when Franco had to rely on his Moorish troops to begin his offensive in the Tagus Valley, it was plain that he could only carry on his struggle against the Spanish people with the help of mercenaries and foreign allies. The overwhelming majority of the people of Spain were against Fascism and had lined up on the side of their legitimate Government. The result was that the superiority of the Government’s reserves helped to compensate for lack of arms and military technique. And it was clear that the rebels would try and counteract this superiority by every possible means.

Owing to the incredible weakness of the first two Governments the P.O.U.M. was allowed to become the open instrument of the rebels behind the Republican lines, and to disturb order and discipline and sow the seeds of discord everywhere.

The first obvious task of any Government after a rebellion has been crushed is to restore order. And the Republican Government could no longer tolerate the insistence of undisciplined bands which had rendered good service during the first days of the rebellion, but most of whose original members had left for the front and which had now become nothing but rallying centres for disorderly elements and Fascists of the Fifth Column. These patrols, which the Central Government replaced by forces recruited from the workers and set on a legal footing, continued to disturb the economic life of Catalonia and the coastal provinces. As fast as the original members left for the front to join the People’s Army, disorderly elements joined the patrols and turned them into a real menace to public order. They occupied cross-roads, arbitrarily took over the control of villages and looted them. The P.O.U.M. became the most ardent champion of these patrols and although the President of the General Council of Catalonia announced to the Press that he could not allow this disorderly state of affairs to continue, the Catalonian Government, in which the Trotskyists had influence, were not able to effect a clean-up until after the Barcelona putsch in May.

Another instance of the P.O.U.M.’s criminally disruptive tactics is shown by its attitude towards the refugees who poured into Catalonia. In November 1936 when the situation in Madrid suddenly became critical and the civilian population was exposed to the terrible bombing raids of the German and Italian planes, the Government speeded up the evacuation of civilians from Madrid to the coastal provinces, which was already being organised. Hundreds of thousands of women and children were welcomed with open arms by the people of Catalonia, but the P.O.U.M. at once took the opportunity of trying to stir up bad feeling between the refugees and the local inhabitants. Andrade, one of the leaders of the P.O.U.M. who is now under arrest, made the following outrageous statement in La Batalla on December 8th, 1936:

”The refugees must remember that we are living in a time of civil war and not keep on making complaints, the only object of which is to try and get more comfortable lives for themselves than they had in Madrid.”

The P.O.U.M. blamed the refugees for the food shortage and the overcrowding in houses, trams and public places.

CONCLUSION

In a pamphlet of this length it has not been possible to give a detailed history in chronological order of the various activities of the P.O.U.M. But it is plain that all these activities are part of a general policy, the aim of which is to wreck the Spanish People’s Front. It is no accident that the men who attacked the Popular Front from the moment of its foundation later worked in open association with the Fascist rebels.

All active members of the Popular Front have been convinced for a long time that the struggle against Trotskyism is a vitally necessary measure of defence against the common enemy. The Republican parties have openly denounced the P.O.U.M. as the direct instrument of Fascism in Spain. Led by the Negrin and Prieto group the Spanish Socialist Party has come out strongly against the Trotskyists and put all its energies into establishing and strengthening the Popular Front. The militants of the Left Wing, such as Del Vayo, the Spanish representative on the League of Nations Committee, are pledged to anti-Fascist unity and have taken a firm stand against Trotskyism. They stressed the necessity of the fight against it at the time when the Caballero group was wavering and hesitating.

For a time, indeed, the situation was curiously contradictory, for while the Caballero Government, which remained in power until May, was refusing to take any measures against the Trotskyists and treating them with extraordinary tolerance, the Madrid Junta, which had been entrusted with the defence of the capital, insisted on firm action. It suppressed their Press which had been slandering the Government and the People’s Army, and took control of their radio-station from which they had been communicating with the rebels.

The People’s Front took a firm line while the Caballero Cabinet wavered and hesitated irresponsibly. Whether this was due to weakness on the part of the Caballerists or mere political shortsightedness, the fact remains that even on the day following the May putsch in Barcelona, the Caballerists refused to take the measures which the people and the majority of the Government demanded – namely, the prosecution of the criminal instigators of the putsch. This brought the Ministerial crisis to a head. Fortunately the Negrin Government which took over power adopted an uncompromisingly strong attitude towards the P.O.U.M. and arrested its leaders after the discovery of the documents at the Peruvian Embassy. This was the reason for the intensified hatred of the P.O.U.M. against the Negrin Government and the attempted assassinations which have been described. These attempted assassinations mark the beginning of a new phase of terrorism on which the P.O.U.M. embarked. But the true face of the P.O.U.M. is now unmasked. The ”Partido Obrero de Unificación Marxista” is revealed as an instrument which foreign and Spanish Fascists are using against the people of Spain. The disguise of its Leftism and revolutionary phraseology is torn away by the discovery of documents which establish its connection with the Fascists and their friends abroad.

The trial of the spies of the P.O.U.M. will soon take place. Its approach is causing considerable apprehension amongst all the friends of the P.O.U.M. Meanwhile, the Fascist Press is doing its best to work up a campaign and this campaign is being echoed in certain ”Left” quarters. Articles have appeared in both English and French publications, notably Le Populaire, which are harmful to the Spanish Republic and which make use of statements which they allege to have been made by certain members of the Spanish Government.

I should like to stress once again the indignation which the whole affair of the Trotskyists and the P.O.U.M. has aroused in Spain. At the moment of writing this I have just returned from Spain where I had interviews with several leading members of the Government. All the statements made by the various members of the Government whom I saw agreed in every particular. There is not a word of truth in the article which appeared in Le Populaire of September 7th quoting a long statement supposed to have been made by members of the Government. There was absolutely no foundation whatever for the allegations which were made in this article. The Minister of the Interior, Zugazagoitia, has already replied to this article as follows:

”Some of the gentlemen of the Left adopt a very strange method of helping Spain. Whatever the authors of the article published in the Populaire have done to help our cause in the past has been entirely undone by their recent actions. They have delighted the Spanish rebel newspapers who have filled their columns with the unfounded statements which were made in this article. The authors of this article represent us, the Spanish Government, to the people of France as the tools of a foreign power which is exactly how we are described by the Fascist radio-stations. This description is grossly untrue. Our police are not an independent power working on their own apart from the Government, their only concern is to work for victory.”

In the second part of his statement the Minister of Interior indignantly denies the suggestions which Maxton, Marcel Pivert and Daniel Guerin have made about the part played by the ”foreign police of the G.P.U.” He adds:

”We have good reason for being suspicious about the activities of certain embassies, but we have no doubts about ‘this Embassy’ [Soviet Embassy] which is the only one that does not conceal foreign individuals among the members of its staff. We only wish all the other embassies were like it, for then it would take our police much less time to clear the matters they are investigating. A long series of disillusionments gives us the right to ask many of the men of the Left whether they are really trying to help us or to strike us in the back.”

I can still remember the expression of disgust on the face of Prieto’s private secretary when he told me the impression which the Populaire article had made on his chief. ”The Minister will never descend to arguing with these kind of people,” he said, ”and he has no intention of doing so.”

The Under-Secretary of State, Garcia Pratt, was also thoroughly disgusted and told me:

“This article is an appalling mixture of incomplete sen-tences distorted and rearranged out of their context for a defi-nite political purpose. All I said to the members of the inter-national delegation who came to see me was that definite, concrete accusations of espionage been made against certain leaders of the P.O.U.M. They represented me as saying that I did not believe that there arrested leaders were spies. It is really absolutely incredible. Is this the way these people whom we thought were friends of Spain propose to help us?”

The part of the article in Le Populaire which attempts to show that the Trotskyists who were arrested after the discovery of the documents at the Peruvian Embassy were innocent, attributed the following statement to both the Minister of Justice and, in another form, to the Public Prosecutor:

“There is no longer any question of accusing any leader of the P.O.U.M. of espionage.”

I had a long conversation with the Public Prosecutor himself at Valencia and he entirely refuted this statement. In effect he said:

“You understand, of course, that there is no foundation whatever for this suggestion. A legal enquiry has been opened against the leaders of the P.O.U.M. on the charge of espionage because we possess certain definite facts and documents. The case is now being proceeded with and until it is ready to be put before the courts the investigation is being carried out secretly. There is no question whatever under the circumstances of saying that the charge of espionage has been dismissed, very much to the contrary….”

There will be no unnecessary delay in the administration of justice, but it is instructive to consider the foreign pressure which has been brought to bear and the manoeuvres which have been made in certain quarters, all forming part of an attempt to try and make out that the May putsch in Barcelona and the espionage are separate matters, whereas in fact they are both really part of the same case. Now that Nin has escaped the rumour is being spread in Trotskyist and Fascist circles that the Barcelona putsch will be investigated first and that the charges of espionage will not be dealt with until Nin has been found.

Public opinion in Spain is absolutely convinced of the guilt of the P.O.U.M. The discovery of the espionage at Barcelona and the at-tempted assassinations have convinced the Government that weakness or hesitancy would be fatal. The Valencia Socialist paper, which voices official opinion, sums up the matter in its issue of October 24th:

”Spies and traitors ! When will we have done away with them or when will they have done away with us? Are they spies in the service of a party, or is it a party in the service of spies?”

Commenting on the affair at Barcelona it adds:

“The P.O.U.M., the refuge of spies… the most dangerous acts of sabotage have been entrusted to two spies who are members of the P.O.U.M. The most dangerous of those who have been arrested belong to this party.”

I think that in the course of this pamphlet I have provided enough material for people to form their own judgments. I hope that it will be of some service to the Spanish Republic which, in the course of the affair, has been made the subject of such slanderous attacks.

The Communist League: The Soviet Union and the Spanish Civil War

no-pasaran-ugt

‘Non-Intervention’? Between ourselves, it’s the same thing as profitable intervention – but profitable only for the other side’.

Charles-Maurice Talleyrand (1754-1838)

INTRODUCTION

In January 1996, the Association of Communist Workers and the Association of Indian Communists held an extremely interesting meeting in the Conway Hall, London, devoted to exposing the slanderous misrepresentation of the Republican forces in the Spanish Civil War presented in Ken Leaches recent film ‘Land and Freedom’.

The main speaker was Bill Alexander, author of ‘British Volunteers for Liberty’. Bill Alexander himself fought in the British section of the International Brigade and movingly and eloquently disposed of Leaches attempt to whitewash the near-trotskyist ‘Party of Marxist Unification’.

In particular, Bill Alexander paid tribute to Stalin’s policy of military aid to the Republican forces and characterised the policy of ‘non intervention’ pursued by the European imperialist powers as the principal cause of the Republic’s defeat.

This stimulated a member of the audience to point out that the Soviet government participated in the Non-Intervention Agreement, and to ask if this indicated some duality in Soviet foreign policy, perhaps between rival groups in the leadership of Communist Party of the Soviet Union — one pursuing a Marxist-Leninist policy and one not.

Ella Rule replied front the platform that she felt that there was no duality in Soviet policy on Spain, since the Soviet policy of non-intervention was not simultaneous with, but succeeded by the Soviet policy of military aid to the Republican government.

While respecting Ella’s long-standing defence both of the Soviet Union and of the Spanish Republic, we do not believe that her theory on Soviet policy on Spain can be reconciled with known facts.

THE OUTBREAK OF THE CIVIL WAR

In January 1936, a number of ostensibly left-wing Spanish parties and organisations created an electoral bloc called the ‘Popular Front’. This adopted

“… a liberal programme set in a bourgeois framework and deliberately excluded Socialist demands”.

(Pierre Broué & Emile Témime: ‘The Revolution and the Civil War in Spain’; London; 1972; p.76).

At elections in February 1936, the Popular Front gained an overwhelming majority of deputies —

“… 277, as against 132 from the Right and 32 from the Centre”.

(Pierre Broué & Emile Témime: ibid.; p.77).

Despite the moderate nature of the Popular Front’s programme, it was unacceptable to the Spanish aristocracy, and in July 1936

“… a revolt against the Spanish Republic broke out in many military garrisons in Spanish Morocco. From thence the revolt spread rapidly throughout Spain…

The rebel forces… were led by General Franco.”

(‘Keesing’s Contemporary Archives’, Volume 2; pp.2199, 2290).

The rebel military junta

“… had at their disposal the greater part of the armed forces of the country… They had also … the promise of Italian and German tanks and aeroplanes if necessary. Against these the Government had only the Republican Assault Guards and a small and badly armed air force”.

(Gerald Brenan: ‘The Spanish Labyrinth: An Account of the Social and Political Background of the Civil War’; Cambridge; 1971; p.316).

THE ATTITUDE OF THE WESTERN IMPERIALIST POWERS

The attitude of the British imperialist government was made clear at the very beginning of the civil war. It was to deny, on 31 July 1936, the legitimate Spanish government its traditional right under international law to purchase arms to defend itself. This action was disguised as

“… an arms embargo against both sides”.

(Robert H. Whealey: Foreign Intervention in the Spanish Civil War’, in: Raymond Carr (Ed.): ‘The Republic and the Civil War in Spain’: London; 1971; p.213).

But since Spain’s neighbour, France, also had a Popular Front government

“… the only other Popular Front regime in Europe” —

(‘New Encyclopaedia Britannica’, Volume 19; Chicago; 1994; p.520).

On 20 July 1936 the Spanish government

“… asked France . . . for 20 planes. Minister of Air Pierre Cot and Premier Léon Blum … agreed”.

(Robert H. Whealey: op.cit.; p.213).

“In 1935, the Spanish government had signed a trade agreement with France. One of the clauses stipulated that in case of need the Spanish Government could not purchase arms from any country other than France. With this agreement in its hand, the Republican government appealed to the French for the arms and equipment needed to protect the nation from aggression”.

(Dolores Ibarruri: ‘They shall not pass: The Autobiography of La Pasionaria’; London; 1960; pp.201-202).

However, the sympathies of the British imperialist government, headed by Stanley Baldwin, lay with the Spanish rebels, and

“… at the beginning of August (1936– Ed.) M. Léon Blum was informed (by London — Ed.) that the guarantee given by Great Britain to maintain the frontiers of France would not remain valid in the event of independent French action beyond the Pyranees”.

(André Géraud (‘Pertinax’): Preface to: Eleuthère N. Dzelepy: ‘The Spanish Plot’; London; 1937; p.viii).

“The British warning, as we knew at the time was conveyed to M. Yvon Delbos,. the French Minister of Foreign Affairs, in the course of a visit by Sir George Clerk, British Ambassador to Paris. Sir George is understood to have said that, if France should find herself in conflict with Germany as a result of having sold war material to the Spanish Government,. England would consider herself released from her obligations under the Locarno Pact and would not come to help”.

(Julio Alvarez del Vayo: ‘Freedom’s Battle’: London; 1937; pp.69-70).

In other words, if France were to give military assistance to the Spanish Government, its defensive alliance with Britain would be declared null and void.

Thus, according to Blum’s testimony to the French Chamber of Deputies in July 1947,

“… after visiting London on 22-23 July, Blunt was forced to reverse his decision to aid the Republic”.

(Robert H. Whealey: op.cit.; p.220).

So, on 25 July 1936,

“… the Blum government issued a decree forbidding the export of arms from France to Spain”.

(Ivan Naisky: ‘Spanish Notebooks’; London; 1966; p.29).

“The refusal of the French Government to hand over to the Republic the arms that had long ago been ordered and paid for was a veritable stab in the back for Spanish democracy”.

(‘International Solidarity with the Spanish Republic: 1936-1939’ (hereafter listed as ‘International Solidarity’; Moscow; 1976; p.362).

The United States imperialist government applied the 1935 Neutrality Act to the Spanish Civil War, but US corporations exported large quantities of much-needed oil to the rebels, this being exempted from its provisions:

“United States neutrality… favoured Franco, since American companies took advantage of the Neutrality Act’s failure to classify oil as a war material and began sending tankers to Lisbon on 18 July”.

(David Mitchell: ‘The Spanish Civil War’; London; 1982; p.70).

On the other hand, like Britain and France, the USA

“… refused to sell arms to the Republic”. (Harry Browne: ‘Spain’s Civil War’; Harlow; 1983; p.38).

But the arms embargo did non affect both sides in the civil war equally, since the rebels were in receipt of large supplies of arms from Germany, Italy and (to a lesser extent) Portugal:

“The Nationalists enjoyed the advantage of… military supplies from Italy and Germany. These played a crucial role in the Nationalist victory, especially at the end of July (1936 — Ed.,) when German and Italian aircraft facilitated the ferrying of the Army of Africa to Spain, thus allowing the Nationalists to sweep through Andaluzia and Estremadura.

(Gerald N. D. Howat (Ed.): ‘Dictionary of World History’. London; 1973; p.1,421).

On the other hand,

“… the fascist government of Italy and the Nazis met no obstacles in sending arms… to the assistance of the rebel generals”.

(Luigi Longo: ‘An Important Stage in the People’s Struggle against Fascism’, in: ‘International Solidarity ; op.cit.; p.11).

“While the legitimate government was being denied the right to purchase any type of arms, the insurgents were receiving all they needed from Germany and Italy”. (Dolores Ibarruri: op.cit.; p.202).

Furthermore,

“… the strongly pro-rebel government in Lisbon was not only supplying material but permitting transhipment of German and Italian supplies across its country”

(David T. Cattell: ‘Soviet Diplomacy and the Spanish Civil War’ (hereafter listed as ‘David T. Cattell (1957)’; Berkeley (USA); 1957; p.21).

As Australian-born author and translator Gilbert Murray said in a letter to the ‘Times’ in October 1936:

“The professedly double-edged embargo really cuts only one way. It keeps the Government forces unarmed for the benefit of the well-armed rebels”.

(Gilbert Murray: Letter to the ‘Times’ (22 October 1936): p.12).

SOVIET HUMANITARIAN AID TO THE SPANISH PEOPLE

From the beginning of the Spanish Civil War, both the Comintern and the Soviet Union organised extensive humanitarian aid to the Spanish people.

On the outbreak of the civil war, the decision was taken

“… to give financial aid to the republicans through the trades unions…

All public statements at this time about shipments from the USSR to Spain emphasised that they consisted of food and other supplies for the civilian population”.

(Edward H. Carr: ‘The Comintern and the Spanish Civil War1; London; 1984; p.16, 24).

By 6 August 1936,

“… there were already 12.1 million roubles in the open current account of the All-Union Central Council of Trade Unions Fund of Aid to Republican Spain, and by the end of October this sum had risen to 47.6 million roubles.

Food and clothing were purchased and sent to Spain with the money collected by Soviet people…

In December (1938 – Ed.) . . . the trade unions and other organisations had raised another 14 million roubles”.

(‘International Solidarity’; op.cit.; p.301-303).

Soviet and Comintern relief for Spain

“… consisting of food and clothing for women and children, started at the very beginning of the Civil War. In every city and town in the Soviet Union meetings were held during the first weeks of the rebellion to demonstrate solidarity with the Spanish people”.

(David T. Cattell: ‘Communism and the Spanish Civil War’ (hereafter listed as ‘David T. Cattell (1955)’; Berkeley (USA): 1955; p.70).

In addition to organisations linked with the Comintern, a

“… new network of organisations solely for the support of Spain… A typical organisation was the ‘International Committee for Aid to the Spanish People’ in Paris which, between August 1936 and June 1938 collected over half a million dollars”.

(David T. Cattell (1955): ibid.; p.71).

THE QUESTION OF SOVIET MILITARY ASSISTANCE TO SPAIN

On the question of whether the Comintern and the Soviet government should give material assistance to the war effort of the Spanish Republic, there were from the outset different views in high Soviet circles.

On this question,

“… no word came from the Soviet government or from Comintern…

The only decision taken was to give financial aid to the republicans through the trade unions”.

(Edward H. Carr: op.cit.; pp.15, 16).

and for two months the Comintern was silent on the question of the war:

“There does not appear to have been a Comintern statement on the outbreak of the Spanish civil war in July 1936”.

(Jane Degras (Ed.): ‘The Communist International: 1919-1943: Documents Volume 3; London; 1965; p.392).

“It was not until September 18 1936 that the Secretariat of ECCI… set out to define the attitude of Comintern to the Spanish War, now just two months old”.

(Edward H. Carr: op.cit.; p.20).

NON-INTERVENTION

On 1 August 1936, France addressed a Note to the British government

“… proposing that they associate themselves with the French action and strictly observe a policy of non-intervention in Spanish affairs…

On 4 August Britain returned a positive answer to the French proposal…

Then the French government addressed their proposal to other European powers”.

(Ivan Maisky: op cit.; p.29).

As Julio Alvarez del Vayo, who was Spanish Foreign Minister for most of the Civil War period, relates: the British government allowed it to be thought that the initiative for non-intervention’ came from the French Popular Front government in order to make the policy more acceptable to democratic public opinion than if it wore known to emanate front a British Tory government:

“The simple truth is that Non-Intervention was fathered in London. The legal experts in the British Foreign Office … made such efforts to attribute its paternity to a person less suspect than they of hostility to democratic principles. In M. Blum and the French Government they found the ideal sponsors for their creation. … Millions of supporters of the Popular Front in France … would certainly have raged against the plan had it been frankly labelled for what it was, the work of a British Tory Government. On the other hand, they were able to justify the plan… , in Parliament and in the country, by evoking its supposed paternity.

From that day on, the Quai d’Orsay (the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs)– Ed.), in all that referred to Spain, became a branch of the Foreign Office…

While in July 1936 France ostensibly took the initiative in proposing Non-Intervention, for the next three years she was to be denied any initiative whatever”.

(Julio Alvarez del Vayo: op. cit.; pp.68, 70).

On 23 August 1936,

“… the Soviet government adhered to the Agreement on ‘Non-Intervention’ in Spanish Affairs”

(Ivan Maisky: op.cit.; p.31).

As historian Edward Carr notes:

“Soviet acceptance, in view of the campaign in the USSR and in communist parties abroad in support of the republican government, at first sight seemed a surprising gesture”.

(Edward H. Carr: op.cit.; p.17).

The People’s Commissar for Foreign Affairs of the USSR, Maksim Litvinov, admitted to a plenary session of the League of Nations in September 1936 that the Soviet government had adhered to the ‘Non-Intervention’ Agreement solely in order to oblige the French imperialists:

“The Soviet government has associated itself with the Declaration on Non-Intervention in Spanish Affairs only because a friendly power (i.e., France — IM) feared an international conflict it we did not do so”.

(Maksim Litvinov: Speech to Plenary Session of League of Nations (28 September 1936), in: Ivan Maisky: op.cit.; p.31).

THE ‘NON-INTERVENTION COMMITTEE’

On 26 August 1936 the French government put forward a new proposal;

“… the creation in London of a permanent Committee of representatives of all the participating countries, the main aim of the Committee being supervision of the exact observance of the Agreement by the powers which had signed it”.

(Ivan Maisky: ibid.; p.29).

The Non-Intervention Committee’ functioned on

“… the unanimity principle’, (Ivan Maisky: ibid.; p 36).

the Soviet delegate — and every other — having the right of veto over all decisions.

All the European powers adhered to the ‘Non-Intervention Committee’ –officially called the ‘Committee for Non-Intervention in the Internal Affairs of Spain’ — except for

“… Spain, as the country around which the ‘quarantine of non-intervention’ was to be established, and Switzerland, which refused to participate”

(Ivan Maisky: ibid.; p.30).

On 28 August 1936, an order was issued by the Soviet

“… People’s Commissar of Foreign Trade prohibiting the export of war supplies to Spain”.

(Max Beloff: ‘The Foreign Policy of Soviet Russia: 1929-1942’, Volume 2: ‘1936-1941’; London; 1949; p.32).

On 9 September 1936, the Non-Intervention Committee had

“… its first meeting, and agreed that it should have a permanent Chairman. This post was offered to the British representative, Lord Plymouth”.

(Ivan Maisky: op.cit.; pp.30-31).

THE TRUE ROLE OF ‘NON-INTERVENTION’

The Non-Intervention Agreement

“… deprived states of the legal right to give aid to the legitimate government of Spain”.

(David T. Cattell (1957); op.cit.: p.15).

denying

“… the Spanish government the traditional right of buying arms to defend itself against domestic treason”.

(Harry Browne: op.cit.; p.37).

Although Germany. Italy and Portugal had signed the ‘Non-Intervention Pact’, they had not the slightest intention of adhering to its provisions, but continued to supply arms in large quantities to the Spanish rebels. Thus the real role of the Non-Intervention Agreement’ was to provide a screen behind which the Fascist powers could arm the rebels.

‘Non-Intervention’ was a farce which assisted the Fascist powers in their war against the Spanish Republic:

‘While the legitimate government was being denied the right to purchase any type of arms, the insurgents were receiving all they needed from Germany and Italy”

(Dolores Ibarruri: op.cit.; p.202).

“When the war ended, the Non-Intervention Pact had leaked copiously — and overwhelmingly in Franco’s direction”.

(David Mitchell: op.cit.; p.72).

“Throughout September 1936, while the flow of arms and equipment to the Nationalists from Italy and Germany steadily increased, the ban on shipments from . . . the USSR to Republican Spain remained effective”.

(Edward H. Carr: op.cit.; p.23).

“The policy of non-intervention ended by developing into a veritable blockade and an effective intervention in favour of the rebels”. (Eleuthère N. Dzelepy: op.cit.; p.77)

“Non-Intervention became one of the greatest farces of our time”.

(Julio Alvarez del Vayo: op.cit.; p.50).

“The so-called policy of non-intervention… in effect meant aiding and abetting the aggressor”.

(Dolores Ibarruri: ‘The Fight goes on’ in: ‘International Solidarity’; op.cit.; p.7).

“Non-intervention… contributed to the victory of fascism in Spain”.

(‘Great Soviet Encyclopaedia’, Volume 31; New York; 1972; p.176).

The true role of ‘Non-Intervention’ was admitted by Maksim Litvinov , who was People’s Commissar for Foreign Affairs between 1930 and 1939:

“If the Non-Intervention Committee had anything to boast of, it was that it had genuinely interfered with the supplies for the legitimate Republican army and with the provision of food for the civil population in the territory occupied by the latter”.

(Maksim Litvinov: Speech at Political Committee of League of Nations (29 September 1938), in: William P.& Zelda Coates: ‘A History of Anglo-Soviet Relations’; London: 1943; p.569).

and by the German Ambassador to Britain, Joachim von Ribbentropp, who declared that the ‘Non-Intervention Committee’

“… might have been better called the Intervention Committee”.

(Joachim von Rippentropp, cited in: David Mitchell: op.cit.; p.71).

Stalin, in his report to the 18th Congress of the CPSU in March 1939, put the matter even more strongly — implying that ‘Non-Intervention’ was immoral and treacherous:

“Actually speaking, the policy of non-intervention means conniving at aggression, giving free rein to war and, consequently, transforming the war into a world war. The policy of non-intervention reveals an eagerness, a desire, not to hinder the aggressors in their nefarious work…

Far be it from me to moralise on the policy of non-intervention, to talk of treason, treachery and so on. It would be naive to preach morals to people who recognise no human morality”.

(Josef V. Stalin: Report on the Work of the Central Committee to the 18th Congress of the CPSU (B) (March 1939), in: ‘Works’, Volume 14; London; 1978; pp.365, 368).

THE CAMPAIGN AGAINST ‘NON-INTERVENTION’

As the true character of ‘Non-Intervention’ became increasingly clear, outspoken opposition to it arose in democratic and anti-fascist circles. This opposition was reflected in circles normally supportive of Soviet policy:

“The strict neutrality adopted by Moscow in the Spanish struggle was giving rise to embarrassing questions even in the friendliest quarters”

(Walter C. Krivitsky: ‘I was Stalin’s Agent’; London; 1939; p.101).

These circles included sections of the international communist movement, particularly in France. For example, headlines in L’Humanité, (Humanity), organ of the Communist Party of France, in September 1936 read:

“GUNS! PLANES!

END THE BLOCKADE WHICH IS KILLING OUR BROTHERS IN SPAIN”.

(‘L’Humanité’, 5 September 1936; p.1).

“FOR REPUBLICAN SPAIN.

FOR PEACE AND THE SECURITY OF FRANCE”.

(‘L’Humanité’, 7 September 1936; p.4).

“TO THE AID OF THE REPUBLICAN FIGHTERS OF SPAIN”.

(‘L’Humanité’, 14 September 1936; p.4).

“IT IS NECESSARY TO RECONSIDER THE PRINCIPLE OF NON-INTERVENTION”

(‘L’Humanité’, 20 September 1936; p.4).

“THE VOICE OF THE PEOPLE OF FRANCE RISES EVER MORE STRONGLY FOR THE LIFTING OF THE BLOCKADE”..

(‘L’Humanité’, 21 September 1936; p.4).

Maurice Thorez, General Secretary of the Communist Party of France, wrote in ‘L’Humanité’:

“For the honour of the working class, for the honour of the Popular Front, for the honour of France, the blockade that is killing our Spanish brethren and that is killing peace must be lifted”.

(Maurice Thorez, in: ‘L’Humanité’ (9 September 1936), in: David T. Cattell (1957): op.cit.; p.24).

In August 1836, Paul Nizan wrote in the Comintern journal, ‘International Press Correspondence’

“This ‘neutrality’… is definitely to be challenged from the point of view of international justice…

While the government in Madrid is being actually affected by real sanctions, the rebels and the rebel government… have every sort of supply they can wish for at their disposal.

The actual blockade of Republican Spain must be raised at once. . .

The Communists will take the lead in this fight for the support of the

Spanish people”.

(Paul Nizan: ‘To the Aid of the Spanish Republic!’. in: ‘International Press Correspondence’, Volume 16, No. 37 (15 August 1936); p.990).

In a speech during the first week in September 1936, interrupted by shouts of ‘Aeroplanes for Spain’, French Prime Minister Léon Blum countered the campaign against ‘Non-Intervention’ by the reminder that the policy was supported by the Soviet government:

“Do not let us forget that the international convention of non-intervention in Spain bears the signature of Soviet Russia.” (Léon Blum: Statement, in: David T. Cattell (1957): op.cit.; p.24).

THE DIVISION IN THE CPSU

The campaign against ‘Non-Intervention’ was reflected within the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. From early in the civil war, a rift was observable in the higher circles of the CPSU between those who stood for the furnishing of arms to the Spanish Republic — that is, the Marxist-Leninists and genuine anti-fascists — on the one hand, and those who stood for collaboration with the Western imperialist powers in the policy of ‘Non-Intervention’ on the other hand.

Lieutenant-Colonel Simon, the French military attaché in Moscow, reported to the French Minister of National Defence Edouard Daladier in August 1936, the existence of two rival factions in the leadership of the CPSU.

“The moderate faction . . . would wish to avoid all intervention.

The extremist faction on the other hand, considers that the USSR should not remain neutral but should support the legal government”.

(Lt.-Col. Simon: Letter to Edouard Daladier (13 August 1936). in: ‘Documents diplomatiques français: 1932-1939’, 2nd Series (1936-1939). Volume 3; Paris; 1966; p.208).

“Influential circles in the Russian Party, like most Leftists in Western countries, pressed for support for the Spanish republic. But this pressure was, for the time being, subject to the restraint of diplomatic expediency”. (Edward H. Carr: op.cit.; p.15).

“In foreign affairs, fundamentalist Bolsheviks tended to dislike Maksim Litvinov’s conciliatory approach to the West…

The Soviet press was hostile to the whole idea of Non-Intervention”

(Michael Alpert:: ‘A New International History of the Spanish Civil War’; Basingstoke; 1994; pp.50, 51).

THE CHANGE OF SOVIET POLICY TOWARDS SPAIN

As a result of the democratic pressure instanced above, the Marxist-Leninists in the leadership of the CPSU were able to bring about a fundamental change in Soviet policy towards the supply of arms to the Spanish Republic.

On 7 October 1936, Samual Kagan, Counsellor at the Soviet Embassy in London (who was Acting Soviet Representative on the Non-Intervention Committee) presented Lord Plymouth with a list of violations of the Non-Intervention Agreement and concluded with an ultimatum

“… that unless violations of the Agreement on Non-Intervention cease forthwith, it (the Soviet government — Ed.) will consider itself as freed from the obligations arising from the Agreement”.

(Samuel B. Kagan: Statement of 7 October 1936, in: Ivan Maisky: op. cit.; p.47).

On 15 October 1936, Stalin sent a telegram to José Diaz, leader of the Communist Party of Spain, saying:

“The workers of the Soviet Union are merely carrying out their duty in giving help within their power to the revolutionary masses of Spain. They are aware that the liberation of Spain from the yoke of fascist reactionaries is not a private affair of the Spanish people but the common cause of the whole of advanced and progressive mankind”.

(Josef V. Stalin: Telegram to CC, CPSp (15 October 1936), in: ‘Works’, Volume 14; London; 1978; p.149).

On 23 October 1936, Soviet Ambassador to Britain Ivan Maisky, who had now taken over as Soviet representative on the ‘Non-Intervention Committee’, sent a further statement to Lord Plymouth, saying:

“The Agreement has turned out to be an empty, torn scrap of paper. It has ceased in practice to exist. Not wishing to remain in the position of persons unwittingly assisting an unjust cause, the Government of the Soviet Union . cannot consider itself bound by the Agreement for Non-Intervention to any greater extent than any of the remaining participants of the Agreement”.

(Ivan Maisky; Statement of 23 October 1936, in; Ivan Naisky: op.cit.; p.48-49).

On 27 August 1936, Marcel Rozenberg arrived in Madrid as the first Soviet Ambassador to Spain

“… with an impressive retinue of military, naval and air attachés and experts

(Edward H. Carr; op.cit,; p.22).

SOVIET MILITARY AID TO THE SPANISH REPUBLIC

The defector Walter Krivitsky, who was at the time Chief of Soviet Military Intelligence in Europe, states that

“… the first communication from Moscow about Spain reached him on September 2”,

(Edward H. Carr: op.cit.; p.24).

and that it stated:

“Extend your operations immediately to cover Spanish Civil War. Mobilise all available agents and facilities for prompt creation of a system to purchase and transport arms to Spain”.

(Walter H. Krivitsky: op.cit.; p.100).

Within days,

“… an apparatus based upon Arms Purchase Commissions in European capitals and supervised by the NKVD (the People’s Commissariat for Internal Affairs — Ed.) . . was set up to organise the purchase of arms”

(Harry Browne: op.cit.; p.38).

“The first appearance of Soviet tanks and planes in the defence of Madrid late in October (1936– Ed.) and early in November made a tremendous Impression”.

(David Mitchell: op.cit.; p.63).

During the war:

“… the sending of military aid was never acknowledged…

No official Communist publication ever mentioned the sending of military equipment”.

(David T. Cattell (1955): op.cit.; p.72).

However,

“… the Soviet Union sent to the Spanish Government 806 military aircraft, mainly fighters, 362 tanks, 120 armoured cars, 1,555 artillery pieces, about 500,000 rifles, 340 grenade launchers, 15,113 machine-guns, more than 110,000 aerial bombs, about 3.4 million rounds of ammunition, 500,000 grenades, 862 million cartridges, 1,500 tons of gunpowder, torpedo boats, air defence searchlight installations, motor vehicles, radio stations, torpedoes and fuel”.

(‘International Solidarity’; op.cit.; p.329-30).

and under the new Soviet policy,

“… a little more than 2,000 Soviet volunteers fought and worked in Spain on the side of the Republic throughout the whole war, including 772 airmen, 351 tank men, 222 army advisers and instructors, 77 naval specialists, 100 artillery specialists, 52 other specialists, 130 aircraft factory workers and engineers, 156 radio operators and other signals men, and 204 interpreters”.

(‘International Solidarity’: op.cit.; p.328).

THE INTERNATIONAL BRIGADES

In September 1936,

“… the Secretariat of the Executive Committee of the Communist International took a decision to organise the recruitment of men with military experience”.

(Bill Alexander: ‘British Volunteers for Liberty: Spain 1936-1939’; London: 1982; p.53).

and the Spanish Republican Government

“… agreed, on 12 October 1936, to the formation of the International Brigades’1.

(Bill Alexander: ibid.: p.53).

On 17 October 1936,

“… the first recruits to the International Brigades arrived in Spain”.

(David Mitchell: op.cit.; p.63).

The International Brigades

“… formed a corps d’elite involved in all fighting of any importance until the end of 1938”.

(Pierre Broué & Emile Témime: op.cit.; p.375).

The total number of foreigners

“… who fought for the Spanish Republic was probably about 40,000, about 35,000 being in the International Brigades”.

(Hugh Thomas: ‘The Spanish Civil War’; London; 1977; p.982).

According to Dimitri Manuilsky at the 18th Congress of the CPSU, Spanish resistance

“… was made possible by the international support given to the Spanish people by the working people and above all the political support given them by the nations of the Soviet Union and by the father of all working people — Comrade Stalin”.

(Dimitri Manuilsky: Report on the Delegation of the CPSU (B) in the ECCI to the 18th Congress of the CPSU (b) (March 1939), in: ‘The Land of Socialism Today and Tomorrow ; Moscow; 1939; p.71).

THE SOVIET UNION AND SPAIN AFTER SEPTEMBER 1936

To sum up, in September 1936 the Soviet government reversed its previous policy and began to supply much needed military assistance to the Spanish Republic.

It might, therefore. seem at first glance as though the thesis presented at the January 1996 meeting by Ella Rule (p.1) — that there was no duality in Soviet foreign policy at the time of the Spanish civil war, since the Soviet policy of ‘non-intervention’ was succeeded by the Soviet policy of military aid to the Republican government — had validity.

Indeed, some well-known revisionists, like Dolores Ibarruri, assert precisely this:

“When the Soviet Union saw that in practice the Non-Intervention Committee was a cover for activities of the fascist and ‘democratic’ powers in favour of the insurgents, the Soviet Union declared on October 7 1937 (clearly an error for 1936 — Ed.) that it would withdraw its participation in the Non-Intervention Committee”. (Dolores Ibarruri: op.cit.; p.263).

But in fact, even after it had begun to supply military equipment to the Republican government, the Soviet Union did not withdraw from the ‘Non-Intervention Committee’. On the contrary,

“The Soviet Union did not make a move to leave the committee’1.

(David T. Cattell (1957): op.cit.; p.50).

“The USSR participated in the Agreement on ‘Non-Intervention’ and in the Committee for the same almost until they ceased to exist”.

(Ivan Maisky; op.cit.; p.32).

To be exact, only on 4 March 1939 did the TASS news agency announce the Soviet Union’s withdrawal from the ‘Non-Intervention Committee’:

“The Council of People’s Commissars of the USSR decided on 1 March of

this year to recall its representatives from the Committee for ‘Non-Intervention'”

(TASS News Agency: Statement (4 March 1939), in: Ivan Maisky: ibid.; p. 202).

This was a few days after the British and French governments had officially recognised the rebel government:

“On 27 February 1939 Britain and France officially recognised Franco and broke off diplomatic relations with the Republican government (Ivan Maisky: ibid.; p.199).

and only a few weeks before the ‘Non-Intervention Committee’ was dissolved:

“On 20 April 1939 the Committee as a whole officially ceased to be”.

(Ivan Maisky: ibid.; p.203).

A leading role in the decision to remain in the Non-Intervention Committee, and to ‘work closely’ on it with the British and French imperialists, was played by the Soviet People’s Commissar for Foreign Affairs. Maksim Litvinov:

“The Soviet Union’s new policy generally took the form of working closely with France and England on the committee. It is believed that Litvinov was able to persuade the … rasher elements among the Soviet leaders and remain”.

(David T. Cattell (1957): op.cit.; p.50).

In other words, in the situation existing in the Soviet Union in 1936-39, the Marxist-Leninist forces were able to reverse Soviet policy on the supply of arms to the Spanish Republic, but not strong enough to carry this reversal through to its logical conclusion by repudiating the whole concept of ‘non-intervention’.

THE EFFECT OF CONTINUED SOVIET PARTICIPATION IN ‘NON~INTERVENTION’

The effect of the continued participation of the Soviet Union in the ‘Non-Intervention Committee’ was to continue to lend Soviet prestige to the false view that it was capable of playing a progressive role.

Over the next months, the ‘Non-Intervention Committee’ was able to carry through policies which would, without doubt, have been vociferously rejected by progressive opinion had it not been for the screen of Soviet support around them.

Firstly, they were able to sabotage the control plan which was ostensibly designed to make the paper arms embargo internationally effective.

From the very outset of the civil war, the Soviet Union refused to take part in the international naval patrols around Spain, preferring to ‘entrust this to the imperialist powers — Britain and France. As Litvinov said in a speech on 14 September 1937:

“I recall that at the very beginning of the Spanish conflict the Soviet Government proposed that naval control be entrusted to England and France alone, and that it consequently voluntarily renounced the right… to send its naval vessels into the Mediterranean to take part in the control”.

(Maksim Litvinov: Speech of 14 September 1937, in: Jane Degras (Ed.): ‘Soviet Documents on Foreign Policy’, Volume 3 (hereafter listed as ‘Jane Degras (Ed.) (1953)’); London; 1953; p.254).

As a result,

“… the coming into force of control during the night of 19-20 April 1937 swiftly demonstrated the futility of this policy”. (Pierre Broué & Emile Témime: op.cit.; p.342).

Even Litvinov admitted in an election speech on 27 November 1937:

“Control is established on the frontiers and coasts of Spain, but the control immediately springs a leak and whole divisions and army corps, with proportionate military equipment, penetrate to the Spanish mutineers1′.

(Maksim Litvinov: Election Speech of 27 November 1937, in: Jane Degras (Ed.) (1953): ibid.; p.267).

And on 17 September 1937, the British and French governments

“… informed the other 25 ‘Non-Intervention’ Powers . . . that they had decided to discontinue their naval patrols of the Spanish coast”.

(‘Keesing’s Contemporary Archives’, Volume 3; p.2,744).

Secondly, they were able to halt the influx of volunteers to the International Brigades which played such an important role in the anti-fascist resistance.

On 4 December 1936,

“… the Soviet government came forward with a new, extremely important initiative”.

(Ivan Maisky: ibid.; p.97).

This proposal was

“… that the Governments, parties to the Non-Intervention Agreement, shall undertake to prevent by every means the despatch and transit of volunteers to Spain”, (lvan Maisky: Letter to Non-Intervention Committee (4 December 1936), in: ibid.; 1). 97).

On 10 January 1937, the British Foreign Office declared that

“… the provisions of the Foreign Enlistment Act 1870 … are applicable in the case of the present conflict in Spain”, (‘Keesing’s Contemporary Archives’, Volume 3; p.2,411).

so that

“… it is … an offence for any British subject to accept or agree to accept any commission or engagement in the military, naval or air service of either party in the present conflict”. (‘Keesing’s Contemporary Archives’, Volume 3; p.2,411).

On 16 February 1937, the Non-Intervention Committee decided

“… to prohibit the passage to Spain of any ‘volunteers’ whatsoever as from 21 February 1937”

(Ivan Maisky: op.cit.; ibid.; p.106).

On 18 February 1937 the French government issued a decree

“… to forbid the recruiting of volunteers for Spain and their transport thither”.

(‘Keesing’s Contemporary Archives’, Volume 3; p.2,463).

and on 20 February 1937 the Soviet government issued a decree stating:

“1. Citizens of the USSR are forbidden entrance into Spain to participate in the military activities underway in Spain’.

2. Recruiting of persons for participation in the military activities in Spain… is forbidden in the territory of the USSR”

(USSR Decree of 20 February 1937, in: Jane Degras (Ed.) (1953): op.cit.; p.234-35).

Thirdly, they were able to bring about the repatriation of volunteer fighters already serving in the International Brigades.

At a meeting of the Sub-Committee of the Non-Intervention Committee on 23 March 1937, Maisky declared:

“There is nothing more pressing and important for us at the present time than the evacuation from Spain of the so-called ‘volunteers'” (lvan Maisky: op.cit.; p.125).

and was not deterred when the Italian delegate, Dino Grandi, who had

“… only just agreed to… the evacuation of foreign combatants from the Pyrenean peninsula”,

(Ivan Maisky: ibid.; p.125-26).

boasted

“Not one single Italian volunteer will leave Spain until Franco is victorious”.

(Dino Grandi: Statement at Sub-Committee of ‘Non-Intervention Committee’ (23 March 1937). in: Ivan Maisky: ibid.; p.125).

On 14 July 1937, a new British plan was laid before the Committee. It included

“… the evacuation of all foreign combatants from Spain”.

(Ivan Maisky: ibid.; p.158).

on 31 July 1937, a TASS communiqué stated:

“The Soviet Government considers that all foreigners… taking part in one way in military operations should be withdrawn from Spain. The Soviet Government is ready to co-operate in accomplishing this by all the means at its disposal”.

(TASS Communiqué (31 July 1937). in: Jane Degras (Ed.) (1953): op.cit. p.249).

on 5 July 1938, at a plenary meeting of the ‘Non-Intervention Committee’

“… the British plan for the withdrawal of foreign volunteers from Spain was unanimously adopted”.

(‘Keesing’s Contemporary Archives’, Volume 3; p.3,735).

Although Franco later — on 30 December 1938– rejected the plan, (‘Keesing’s Contemporary Archives’, Volume 3; p.3,384).

on 23 September 1938, Prime Minister Juan Negrin

“… announced that his Government had decided on the immediate and complete withdrawal of all non-Spanish combatants fighting on its side”.

(‘Keesing’s Contemporary Archives’, Volume 3; p.3,252).

THE DUALITY IN SOVIET POLICY TOWARDS SPAIN

The Soviet policies of military assistance to the Spanish republic and of co-operation in the work of the ‘Non-Intervention Coinmittee are contradictory and yet after September 1936 they were carried on simultaneously.

It is, therefore, clear that there was a duality in Soviet foreign policy towards Spain in this period.

This duality is explicable by the fact that, in addition to Marxist-Leninists like Stalin in the leadership of the CPSU — Marxist-Leninists who favoured military assistance to Spain — there were also revisionists, people who had departed from Marxist-Leninist principles, and who favoured co-operation with the appeasement policy of the West European powers at the expense of the Spanish Republic. The policy actually pursued by the Soviet government towards the Spanish Republic in this period was a compromise between these two opposed policies.

The most prominent Soviet politician in the second, revisionist, category was the People’s Commissar for Foreign Affairs, Maksim Litvinov.

THE ROLE OF MAKSIM LITVINOV

Introduction

Maksim Maksimovicb Litvinov was appointed Minister to Britain in January 1918:

“This appointment was officially made by Trotsky”,

(John Carswell. ‘The Exile: A Life of Ivy Litvinov’ London; 1983: p.86)

who was then People’s Commissar for Foreign Affairs.

After being Deputy People’s Commissar for Foreign Affairs in 1920-30, in July 1930 he succeeded Georgi Chicherin as People’s Commissar for Foreign Affairs, a post he held until 1939.

Litvinov’s Influence

Litvinov remoulded the Commissariat in his charge, filling it with his nominees:

“The People’s Commissariat of Foreign Affairs, as the Soviet Foreign Office was called, was an organisation largely created by Litvinov. He recruited its staff and designed its system…

The People’s Commissariat for Foreign Affairs, and many of the principal posts abroad, were already (1930 — Ed.) filled with his friends and nominees”.

(John Carswell: ibid.; p.109, 126).

Litvinov, married to an English wife, was steeped in West European culture:

“… Maksim had been soaked in the ways of the West”.

(John Carswell: ibid.; p.103).

“Maksim was the only surviving Old Bolshevik who had thoroughly assimilated Western European culture”.

(Edgar Snow: ‘Journey to the Beginning’; London; 1959; p.312).

and this was reflected politically in Litvinov’s support for cooperation with Western imperialism. He became

“… the best-known Soviet spokesman for . . . cooperation with the West”.

(Alexander Dallin: ‘Allied Leadership in the Second World War: Stalin’ in: ‘Survey’, Volume 21, Nos. 1/2 (Winter/Spring 1975); p.15).

In the period leading up to 1939, Litvinov was particularly associated with Soyiet attempts to form a ‘collective security’ alliance with the more satisfied (and so less aggressive) imperialist powers, such as Britain and France, against the less satisfied (and so more aggressive) imperialist powers, Germany, Italy and Japan:

“The Soviet Government … is prepared, as hitherto, to participate in collective action, the scope of which should have as its aim the stopping of the further development of aggression and the elimination of the increased danger of a new world slaughter”.

(Maksim Litvinov: Press Statement (17 March 1938). in: William P.& Zelda Coates: op. cit.; p 585).

He genuinely believed

“… that Soviet power and influence could best be promoted by collaboration with the West”.

(Voitech Mastny: ‘The Cassandra of the Foreign Comissariat: Maksirn Litvinov and the Cold War’, in: ‘Foreign Affairs’, Volume 54, No. 2 (January 1976); p.376).

Already, on 17 January 1938, Politburo member Andrei Zhdanov criticised the People’s Cornmissariat for Foreign Affairs for its liberal attitude towards certain imperialist powers:

“Almost every foreign power has a consul in Leningrad; and I must say that some of these consuls clearly go beyond their powers and duties and behave in an illegal fashion, engaging in activities prejudicial to the people and country to which they are accredited.

Why does the People’s Commissariat for Foreign Affairs tolerate a state of affairs in which the number of consuls representing foreign powers in the USSR is not equal to but greater than the number of consuls representing the USSR in foreign countries?

Then, comrades, … what are we to think of a situation in which the government of a country (France — Ed.) with which we, the USSR, are in fairly close relations… allows organisations to exist on its territory which plan and carry out terrorism against the USSR?”

(Andrei Zhdanov: Speech on the Work of the People’s Commissariat for Foreign Affairs (17 January 1938). in: Jane Degras (Ed.) (1953): op.cit.; p.269, 270).

and Vyacheslav Molotov, then USSR Prime Minister, added in a speech to the USSR Supreme Soviet a few days later, on 19 January 1938:

“Comrade Zhdanov’s remarks about foreign consulates …have been carefully noted by the Council of People’s Commissars, which will in the near future take all the necessary steps.

Now to our relations with France. Here again we must recognise that Comrade Zhdanov’s remarks were well founded. . . . Refuge is found on French territory for every kind of adventurist and criminal organisation, nests of vipers, of terrorists and diversionists … How does this accord with the Soviet-French pact of friendship? The People’s Commissariat for Foreign Affairs should certainly look into this”.

(Vyacheslav Molotov: Speech at USSR Supreme Soviet (19 January 1938), in: Jane Degras (Ed.) (1953): op.cit.; pp.271, 272).

As Litvinov’s wife Ivy commented later:

“At the January (1938– Ed.) session of the Supreme Soviet, Zhdanov, made disparaging remarks about the administrative work of the Commissariat for Foreign Affairs. Litvinov’s name was not mentioned, but criticism is never lightly made in the Soviet Union…

Maksim was aware that he was out of favour”.

(Ivy Litvinov: ‘To Russia with Love’, in: ‘Observer Review’ (25 July 1976); p.17).

Litvinov and the Soviet-German Non-Aggression Pact

Even in 1937 British Foreign Secretary Lord Halifax was already telling Hitler how much the British government admired his suppression of Communism in Germany:

“The great service the Fuehrer had rendered in the rebuilding of Germany were fully and completely recognised, and if British public Opinion was sometimes taking a critical attitude toward certain German problems, the reason might be in part that people in England were not fully informed of the motives and circumstances which underlie certain German measures…

The British Government were fully aware that … by destroying Communism in his country, he had barred the road to Western Europe, and that Germany therefore could rightly he regarded as a bulwark of the West against Bolshevism”.

(Lord Halifax: Record of a Conversation with Hitler (19 November 1937), in: ‘Documents and Materials relating to the Eve of the Second World War: From the Archives of the German Ministry of Foreign Affairs’, Volume 1 (hereafter listed as ‘Archives’); Moscow; 1948; pp.19-20).

and was proposing to Berlin the formation of a four-power alliance to include Britain, France, Germany and Italy:

“After the ground had been prepared by an Anglo-German understanding, the four Great West-European powers must jointly lay the foundations for lasting peace in Europe.

The Fuehrer replied that … Lord Halifax had proposed an agreement of the four Western Powers as the ultimate aim of Anglo-German Cooperation”.

(‘Archives’; ibid.; p.29-30, 31).

In other words, the British government was already proposing that

“… Britain, and France as well, should join the ‘Berlin-Rome Axis'”

(Soviet Information Bureau: ‘Falsifiers of History (Historical Information); London; 1948; p.21).

In these circumstances,

“… the Soviet Union faced the alternative:

either to accept, for purposes of self-defence, Germany’s proposal to conclude a non-aggression pact and thereby ensure to the Soviet Union a prolongation of peace for a certain period of time which might be used by the Soviet State to prepare better its forces for resistance to a possible attack on the part of the aggressor;

or to reject Germany’s proposal for a non-aggression pact and thereby permit the war provocateurs from the camp of the Western Powers immediately to involve the Soviet Union in armed conflict with Germany at a time when the situation was utterly unfavourable to the Soviet Union and when it was completely isolated.

In this situation, the Soviet Government found itself compelled to make its choice and conclude the Non-Aggression Pact with Germany”.

(Soviet Information Bureau: ‘Falsifiers of History (Historical Information); London; 1948; p.44).

Litvinov, however, was, and remained, opposed to the Soviet government’s rapprochement with Germany.

“Litvinov . . . disapproved . . . of Stalin’s planned rapprochement with Germany'”.

(Voltech Mastny: op.cit.; p.367).

He

“… never, by word or hint, approved of Stalin’s pact policy with Hitler”.

(Louis Fischer: ‘The Great Challenge’; New York; 1971; p.54).

In May 1939, Litvinov was replaced as People’s Commissar for Foreign Affairs by Vyacheslav Molotov. The change reflected the preparation for

“… a momentous change of foreign policy”,

(John Carswell: op.cit.; p.145).

for in August 1939 the Soviet government signed the Non-Aggression Pact with Germany.

It was at this time that Molotov made a more direct public criticism of ‘short-sighted’ people in the Soviet Union who ‘over-simplified anti-fascist propaganda’ and forgot about the danger from other (non-fascist) imperialist powers:

“There were short-sighted people in our country too who, tending to over-simplify anti-fascist propaganda, forgot this provocative work of our enemies”.

(Vyacheslav Molotoy: Statement in Supreme Soviet of the USSR on the Ratification of the Soviet-German Pact of Non-Aggression (August 31 1939); London; 1939; p.8).

In a biographical article on Litvinov, henry Roberts points out that Molotov’s comment

“… may be interpreted as a slap at Litvinov”.

(Henry L. Roberts: ‘Maksim Litvinov’ in: Gordon A. Craig & Felix Gilbert (Eds.): ‘The Diplomats: 1919-1939’; Princeton (USA); 1953; p.375).

The revisionist diplomat Andrei Gromyko, who was USSR Foreign Minister in a later period. writes in his memoirs about an incident in 1942:

“During Molotov’s visit to Washington in June 1942, I was struck by a conversation between him and Litvinov while the three of us were driving to the Appalachian mountains. We were talking about the French and the British, and Molotov sharply criticised their pre-war policy, which was aimed at pushing Hitler into war against the USSR. In other words, he voiced the official Party line. Litvinoy disagreed. This had been the prime reason for his removal from the post of Foreign Commissar in 1939 yet here he was, still stubbornly defending Britain’s and France’s refusal to join the Soviet Union and give Hitler a firm rebuff before he could make his fateful attack upon the USSR. Despite having been relieved of his post for such views, Litvinov continued to defend them in front of Molotov, and consequently in front of Stalin.

It was strange listening to someone who appeared not to have noticed Munich and its consequences”.

(Andrel Gromyko: ‘Memoirs’. London; 1989; p.312),

In 1948, however, the Soviet Information Bureau was still commenting politely on Litvinov’s removal:

“In the complex situation when the Fascist aggressors were preparing the Second World War, … it was necessary to have in such a responsible post as that of People’s Commissar of Foreign Affairs a political leader with greater experience and greater popularity in the country than Maksim Litvinov”.

(‘Falsifiers of History’; op.cit.; p.16-17).

Litvinov’s Further Demotion

In February 1941, Litvinov was further demoted: the step was taken

“… of depriving Maksim of the one public position he retained — membership of the Central Committee of the Communist Party”.

(John Carswell: op.cit.; p.148).

This action was taken,

“.. according to the official announcement, because of non-fulfilment of his obligations'”.

(Vojtech Mastny: op.cit.; p.367).

According to Ivy Litvinov,

“… as Stalin was leaving the meeting, Lityinov called after him ‘Does this mean that you consider me an enemy of the people?’. The boss removed the pipe from his mouth to say . . . ‘We don’t consider you to be an enemy of the people’ “.

(Ivy Litvinov: op.cit.; p.17).

and John Carswell, the biographer of Ivy Litvinov, writes that

“… this humiliation… was an important stage in Maksim’s disillusionment with the ‘reality’ which the Revolution claimed to have created”.

(John Carswell: op.cit.; p.149).

Litvinov to Washington

However, in December 1941, some months after the German attack on the Soviet Union,

“… Stalin sent for for Litvinov, shook hands with him in a friendly manner and appointed him to Washington”. (Ilya Ehrenburg: ‘Men, Years — Life’, Volume 6: ‘Post-War Years: 1945-1954’, London; 1966; p.279).

And Litvinov’s biograoher Voitech Mastny remarks that in the new situation of Anglo-American-Soviet co-operation, Litvinov was

“… the right person to be chosen to reassure the West”.

(Voitech Mastny: op.cit.; p.368).

Litvinov Voices Dissent from Soviet Foreign Policy

Litvinov’s biographer Vojtech Mastny notes:

“Towards the end of his long and distinguished career in the Soviet diplomatic service, Maksim Litvinov tantalised his foreign interlocutors with increasingly candid expressions of dissent from his employers’ official line. There are several such incidents on record from May 1943 to February 1947”.

(Voitech Mastny: op.cit.; p.366).

In May 1943, having been recalled to Moscow, he is on record complaining to US Assistant Secretary of State Sumner Welles

“… that he was unable to communicate with Stalin, whose isolation then bred a distorted view of the West”.

(Voitech Mastny: ibid.; p.368).

However, according to the Soviet revisionist journalist Ilya Ehrenburg, Litvinov

“… was reticent in his opinion of him (Stalin — Ed.) . . . and only once, when speaking about foreign policy, said with a sigh: ‘He doesn’t know the West'”.

(Jlya Ehrenburg: op.cit.; p.278).

At the same time as Litvinov was recalled from the USA,

“… the other official protagonist of pro-Western reputation, Ambassador to London Ivan M. Maisky”,

(Vojtech Mastny: ibid.; p.368).

was recalled to Moscow.

Litvinov

“… still held the post of Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs (the title of ‘People’s Commissar was changed to that of ‘Minister’ in January 1946 — Ed.) but was given work of little importance”.

(Ilya Ehrenburg: op.cit.; p,. 279).

In the first months of 1945,

“… Maksim made no secret of his view that the Yalta agreement, Stalin’s greatest diplomatic victory, was a disaster for the future of international relations”.

(John Carswell: op.cit.; p.158-59).

In June 1945 he is on record as complaining to American journalist Edgar Snow:

“We (Litvinov and Maisky — Ed.) are on the shelf…

The Commissariat (for Foreign Affairs — Ed.) is run by only three men and none of them knows or understands America and Britain…

Why did you Americans wait till right now to begin opposing us in the

Balkans and Eastern Europe? You should have done this three years ago.

Now it’s too late”.

(Edgar Snow: op.cit.; p.314, 357).

In June 1946 Lityinov gave an interview in Moscow to the correspondent of the Columbia Broadcasting System, Richard Hottelot. According to Hottelot,

“.. Litvinov’s attitude was one of resignation mixed with disgust and relief that he was not identified with his government’s foreign policy”

(Richard C. Hottelot: Interview with Maksim Litvinov (June 1946), in: ‘Washington Post’ (22 January 1952); p.11B).

According to Hottelot, Litvinov declared:

“The Kremlin cannot be trusted and cannot be appeased”.

(Maksim Litvinov: Interview with Richard Hottelot (June 1946), ‘Washington Post’ (21 January 1952); p.1).

so that any attempt by the Western powers to meet Soviet demands

“… would lead to the West being faced, after a more or less short time, with the next series of demands”.

(Maksim Litvinov: Interview with Richard Hottelot (June 1946), in:

‘Washington Post’ (21 January 1952); p.1).

Because of its content, the interview remained unpublished until after Litvinov’s death in December 1951. Hottelot explains Litvinov’s frankness by his wish to present his ‘political testament to the West’:

“This strange interlude awakened the impression that . . . it was meant as Litvinov’s political testament to the Western world”.

(Richard C. Hottelot: Interview with Makaim Litvinov (June 1946), ‘Washington Post’, 21 January 1952; p.4).

We knew his career had just come to an end… This was probably Litvinov’s last chance to be heard”.

(Richard C. Hottelot: Interview with Maksim Litvinov (June 1946), in: ‘Washington Post’ (24 January 1952); p.13).:

Litvinov’s Final Demotion

In August 1946,

“… ‘Pravda’ printed a brief notice in small type on its back page to the effect that Maksim Maksimovich Litvinov had been relieved of his post as Deputy Foreign Minister.

There was nothing more. He went into oblivion”.

(‘Washington Post’, 24 January 1952; p.13).

Ilya Ehrenburg notes that

“… Litvinov was not arrested, but Stalin removed him from all functions, … He was pensioned off, not at his own request”.

(Ilya Ehrenburg: op.cit.; p.278, 279).

However, he

“… followed the development of Soviet foreign policy with increasing disapproval. Much of his time was taken up in elaborating a long memorandum to Stalin which analysed and commented on what he called ‘Molotov’s’ errors”.

(John Carswell: op.cit.: p.161).

In fact,

“… his years of retirement were overshadowed by the possibility of denunciation and trial”.

John Carswel~: ibid.; p.161).

The Death of Litvinov

At Litvinov’s funeral in January 1952,

“… the highest ranking mourners were Deputy Prime Ministers”

(‘Washington Post’, 25 January 1952: p.21).

with

“… no one from the Politburo”.

(Henry L. Roberts: op.cit.; p.375).

CONCLUSION

Julio Alvarez del Vayo, who was Spanish Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Republican government during most of the civil war, sums up

“… the whole saga of non-intervention”

(Ivan Maisky: ibid.; p.203).

as follows:

“It was the finest example of the art of handing victims over to the aggressor States, while preserving the perfect manners of a gentleman and at the same time giving the impression that peace is the one objective and consideration”.

(Julio Alvarez del Vayo: op.cit.; p.252).

AND REVISIONIST ELEMENTS IN INFLUENTIAL POSITIONS IN THE CPSU WERE ACCOMPLICES IN THIS REACTIONARY FARCE.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Alexander, Bill: ‘British Volunteers for Liberty: Spain 1936-1939’; London; 1982.
Alpert, Michael: ‘A New International History of the Spanish Civil War’; Basingstoke; 1994.
Alvarez del Vayo, Julio: ‘Freedom’s Battle’; London; 1937.
Beloff, Max: ‘The Foreign Policy of Soviet Russia: 1929-1941’, Volume 2; ‘1936-1941’; London; 1945.
Brenan, Gerald: ‘The Spanish Labyrinth: An Account of the Social and Political Background of the Spanish Civil War’; Cambridge; 1971.
Broue, Pierre & Temime, Emile:’The Revolution and the Civil War in Spain’; London; 1972.
Browne, Harry: ‘Spain’s Civil War’; Harlow; 1983.
Carr, Edward H.: ‘The Comintern and the Spanish Civil War’; London; 1984. Carswell, John: ‘The Exile: A Life of Ivy Litvinov’; London’;
Cattell, David T.:’Communism and the Spanish Civil War’; Berkeley (USA); 1955.
Cattell, David T.:’Soviet Diplomacy and the Spanish Civil War’; Berkeley (USA); 1957.
Coates, William P. & Zelda: ‘A History of Anglo-Soviet Relations’; London; 1943.
Dallin, Alexander : ‘Allied Leadership in the Second World War: Stalin’, in: ‘Survey’, Volume 21, Nos. 1/2 (Winter/Spring 1975).
Degras, Jane (Ed.): ‘Soviet Documents on Foreign Policy’, Volume 3; London; 1953.
Degras, Jane (Ed.): ‘The Communist International: 1919-1943; Documents’, Volume 3; London; 1965.
Dzelepy, Eleuthere N.:’The Spanish Plot’; London; 1937.
Ehrenburg, Ilya: ‘Men, Years — Life’, Volume 6: ‘Post4~r Years: 1945-1954’; London; 1966.
Fischer, Louis: ‘The Great Challenge’; New York; 1971. Gromyko, Andrei: ‘Memoirs’; London; 1989.
Howat, Gerald M. D. (Ed.): ‘Dictionary of World History’; London; 1973. London; 1960.
Ibarruri, Dolores: ‘They shall not pass: The Autobiography of La Pasionaria’;
Krivitsky, Walter C.: ‘I was Stalin’s Agent’; London; 1939.
Maisky, Ivan: ‘Spanish Notebooks’; London; 1966.
Mastny, Vojtech: ‘The Cassandra of the Foreign Commssariat: Maksim Litvinov and the Cold War’, in: ‘Foreign Affairs’, Volume 54, No. 2 (January 1976). Mitchell, David: ‘The Spanish Civil War’; London; 1982.
Molotov, Vyacheslav M.:Statement in the Supreme Soviet of the USSR on the Ratification of the Soviet-German Pact of Non-Aggression of August 21, 1939; London; 1939.
Roberts, Henry L.:’Maksim Litvinov’, in: Gordon A. Craig & Felix Gilbert: ‘The Diplomats: 1919-1939’; Princeton (USA); 1953.
Snow, Edgar: ‘Journey to the Beginning’; London; 1959.
Thomas, Hugh: ‘The Spanish Civil War’; London; 1977.
Whealey, Robert H.: ‘Foreign Intervention in the Spanish Civil War’, in:
Raymond Carr (Ed.): ‘The Republic and the Civil War in Spain’; London; 1971.

– From ‘Documents and Materials relating to the Eve of the Second World War: From the Archives of the German Ministry of Foreign Affairs’, Volume 1; Moscow; 1948.
– ‘Documents Diplomatiques Francais: 1932-1939; 2nd Series (1936-1939), Volume 3; Paris; 1966.
-‘Falsifiers of History (Historical Information)’; London; 1948.
-‘L’Humanite’.
-‘International Press Correspondence’.
–‘International Solidarity with the Spanish Republic: 1936-1939’; Moscow; 1976, — ‘Keesing’s Contemporary Archives.
— ‘New Encylopaedia Britannica’.
— ‘Observer Review’.
— ‘Times’.

Lessons of People’s War in Spain 1936-1939

4 R

Progressive Labor, Vol. 9, No. 5 (Oct.-Nov. 1974), 106-116.

The Spanish Civil War was the opening act of the Second World War in Europe. It was the military and political proving ground both for European Fascism, and for class-collaborationist policies that the old communist movement never outlived.

In one important respect, however, the Spanish War differed from the major conflict which was to follow. In Spain, the major capitalist powers united–despite their contradictions with one another–against the threat of proletarian revolution, a threat made real by the Asturias revolt of 1934. When the World War came, the lines were not drawn, as the imperialists had wished, with Hitler’s Germany attacking the Soviet Union, with active or “neutral” support from the “democracies.” Instead, the imperialists fought among themselves, leaving the Soviet workers to destroy Hitler virtually by themselves.

The History of the Civil war has long preoccupied red-baiters of all sorts, seeking to vilify Spanish communists, the Communist International, and Stalin. Anti-communist writers have produced almost as many pages of lies about the struggle in Spain as about the October Revolution. This article will be a brief attempt to exhume some of the lessons for the working class that have been buried under this mass of filth.

We will see that study of the war has practical value for communists of today on a number of points. We will see that the Spanish Communist Party (PCE) and the Comintern provided the only effective leadership–political and military–in the struggle against Fascism in Spain. The PCE, unlike all the groups of “left” creeps beloved of anti-communist writers from Orwell to Chomsky, was able to organize hundreds of thousands of working people into a powerful military force, despite the enormous material difficulties and their own weaknesses.

As for the errors of the PCE, they confirm major points of PL’s line: (I) communists lose when they abandon the struggle for workers’ dictatorship; (II) fighting fascism is critical for worker’s victory; (III) nationalism and alliances with bosses are disastrous; (IV) “unity” with various phony left groups–Anarchists and Trotskyites–is as fatal as “unity” with bosses.

The Spanish Republic

Spain was and is a minor capitalist power, largely agricultural, with major portions of its industry controlled from abroad. In the ’30s, industry was concentrated along the northern coast in Asturias and the Basque provinces (mainly mining) and in Catalonia on the east coast (light industry). The principal foreign owners were English, French, Belgian, Canadian and U.S. capitalists. The Catholic Church was a large land owner, and the Jesuits owned or controlled major banks, railways, mines, and factories.(1)

The Spanish Republic was established in 1931 when King Alfonso XIII decided to “suspend the use of (his) Royal Prerogatives” and leave the country.(2) Weakened and discredited by many years of colonial war against the Riffs in Morocco (costing over $800 million), and in the throes of the world economic depression, the monarchy was no longer a viable form of bourgeois rule, and was superceded first by a bourgeois republic and then by Fascism.

The Republic established universal suffrage (both sexes), promulgated a skimpy land reform, expanded public education, and reduced the prerogatives of the Army and the Catholic Church. The Catalan and Basque provinces were granted limited independence, and the Barcelona municipal government was reorganized as the Catalan Government, called the “Generalitat.”(3)

In 1932, General Sanjurjo led a small group of monarchists, landowners, clericalists and army officers in a coup against the Republic, but lacking support from the major forces of the ruling class, it failed. In the elections of November, 1933, however, the forces of the Right made substantial gains. The largest party in the Cortes (parliament) was the Rightist catholic party, CEDA, but the first government was formed as a coalition of Center parties, which halted or reversed many of the earlier reforms and amnestied Sanjurjo.(4)

In October, 1934, when a new government was formed with ministers from the CEDA, the Socialists and Communists of the UGT labor federation saw this as the onset of Fascism, and called a general strike in Madrid. The Socialist leadership of the UGT went underground, the large Anarchist-led labor federation (CNT) abstained, and the strike was short-lived. In Catalonia, the Generalitat declared independence from the central government, but the Anarchists again abstained and the rebellion was brief.

In Asturias, however, well-organized Socialist, Communist and Anarchist miners cooperated in a full-scale insurrection–in one place, declaring a Soviet Republic. The government called in the Foreign Legion and Moorish Regulares, commanded by Generals Goded and Franco. Franco, who had made his reputation in command of the Legion in the Moroccan wars, was selected for this similar job by multimillionaire Juan March, of whom we will hear more later.(5)

After bitter fighting, the rising was ruthlessly suppressed. As many as 3,000 workers were killed, mostly slaughtered after they surrendered. 30,000 prisoners were taken.(6)

The Rebellion in Asturias was a turning point in Spanish politics. Unlike the periodic rebellions of the Anarchists, it was sufficiently extensive and well-organized to show that working class revolution in Spain was a possibility to be reckoned with. The bosses learned this lesson well, but, for the most part, the Left did not, a failure which would lead to many future errors.

For the next elections of February, 1936, the parties of the Left formed a so-called “Popular Front” slate. The strategy of the Popular Front was developed at the 7th Congress of the Communist International, the idea being that in view of the dangers of Fascism and imperialist war, communists should form an alliance with Social-Democrats and some bourgeois elements to preserve bourgeois democracy and peace. This program was taken to include attempts to form united Socialist-Communist parties and, in some cases, communist participation in bourgeois governments. Thus the Popular Front was an alliance which included not only the rank-and-file, but also the class-collaborationist leadership of the Social-Democratic parties, and which supported the “good” liberal bosses against the “bad” Fascist ones. This line was made explicit by G. Dimitroff in his otherwise guarded exposition of the Popular Front strategy at the 7th Congress. Dimitroff claimed that those comrades who linked Roosevelt’s “New Deal” to Fascism were guilty of a “stereotyped approach” to the united front:

“One must indeed be a confirmed addict of the use of hackneyed schemes not to see that the most reactionary circles of American finance capital, which are attacking Roosevelt, represent first and foremost the very force which is stimulating and organizing the Fascist movement in the United States.”(7)

However, as subsequent events in Spain and elsewhere were to demonstrate, ruling class differences over Fascism versus bourgeois democracy were merely temporary and tactical. The very same bosses try to ensure their rule with “democracy” at one place or time and Fascism at another. We will see below how English, French and U.S. bosses, to which the Spanish Republic appealed for aid, helped their friendly local Fascists instead. We will also see how the utterly futile attempts of the Spanish communists to get ruling class support eventually cost them the war. The minimum condition for support was, of course, abandoning the struggle for the dictatorship of the proletariat. In fact the PCE agitated against workers’ rule and repudiated it as an immediate goal. This was a line not only for public consumption, but one around which they recruited and organized the party’s base. Thus when the treachery, incompetence and defeatism of the Republican government became absolutely unbearable, the PCE was willing and able to force some of the worst offenders from the government, but not to take power and lead the struggle through a workers’ government.

The Fascist Rising

In the February elections, the Popular Front won a major electoral victory, obtaining 278 seats in the Cortes, while the Right took only 134. The parties of the Center practically ceased to exist. Even Francisco Cambo, biggest capitalist in Catalonia, lost his seat.

The elections were not even completed before planning for another right-wing coup began, this time on a large scale. Franco urged the caretaker Prime Minister to declare a state of war and keep the Popular Front from taking office. His request was refused on the grounds that granting it would provoke a revolution.(8)

With this refusal, Franco began to plot in earnest, together with a number of generals, including Sanjurjo and Mola (both to die within the year under mysterious circumstances, thus incidentally assuring Franco’s ascendancy in the Fascist camp.)

Among others, the plotters included representatives of the feuding monarchist factions, the CEDA, and, through them, various financiers.(9)  Juan March, who reportedly contributed $15,000,000 to the coup,(10)  had left the country for France, but kept in contact with the plotters through his envoy, the Bishop of the Catholic Mission in France.(11) Francisco Cambo also left the country, having deposited the principal assets of his Catalan financial empire in Buenos Aires.(12) Cambo was apparently not directly involved in the coup, but supported it after the fact.(13)  The plotters were assured in advance of German and Italian financial support in exchange for metal ores.(14)

The tiny Falange Espanola, the “official” Fascist party of Spain, took part in the plot and together with the Carlists (monarchists) of Navarre, provided the whole of the minuscule popular support on which the plotters could count. The Falange was supported in its early days by Juan March, the Bank of Vizcaya (partly controlled by the Jesuits), various Basque industrialists and Bourbon monarchists.(15) After the rising, it was transformed into Franco’s party.(16)

Rumors of the plot were widespread. On July 13, PCE deputy Jose Diaz accused the Right in the Cortes: “You cannot deny that you are plotting, that you are preparing a coup.”(17) The same day, PCE spokeswoman Dolores Ibarurri (“La Pasionaria”) spoke in Asturias:

“Asturianos! Be vigilant. Reaction is even now in arms. If they dare attempt to rise, you will know what to do. Retrieve your arms now, from where you have hidden them–and keep your powder dry.”(18)

A good aspect of the PCE actions shown here was their reliance on workers to combat Fascism, but here and for the entire war, their outlook was largely defensive. Not: “let’s go kill the plotters and establish socialism,” but “let’s get them if they try anything.”

On the 16th of July, Franco flew in a British plane from his quasi-exile in the Canary Islands to Mallorca in the Mediterranean. On the plane with him was a certain Captain Pollard, agent of the British Secret Service. Pollard got the British Consul to intercede with the Republican authorities when the plane was seized for lack of papers. It was released.(19)

On the next afternoon, the Fascist rising began in Morocco. Hearing of the events in Morocco, the trade unions and parties of the Left demanded that the workers be armed by the government. In most areas, they were not, but many rebellious garrisons on the mainland were subdued by workers with arms taken from police and army units. At the end of this first phase of the rebellion, two-thirds of the territory of Spain and three-fourths of its population were held by the Republic. The main forces of the Fascists were the Foreign Legion and the Moorish Regulares of the Army of Africa in Morocco, but they could not cross the straits to Spain since the sailors of the fleet had arrested their officers and prevented them from joining the revolt. To get Franco out of this difficulty, Hitler sent the first substantial military aid, 20 transport planes to bring the Army of Africa to Spain. At its peak, German aid to Franco would stand at about 6,000 specialized troops of the Condor Legion, mainly tankmen, pilots, artillerymen and advisors, plus a large amount of material. The maximum size of the Italian forces was about 100,000 troops, with enormous quantities of material.(20) The European “democracies” chipped in with a “non-intervention” policy which began by refusal to sell arms to the Republic and worked up to a naval blockade in conjunction with Germany and Italy.

In May, 1937, the U.S. Neutrality Act became law, supplementing the informal efforts of the State Department to prevent arms sales to Spain.(21) In the first days of the fighting, Vacuum Oil refused to honor a contract to fuel Republican ships in Tangiers, and Texaco diverted five tankers of gasoline bound for the Republic to the Fascists.(22) The State Department tried to prevent the sale of aircraft to the Republic by Mexico.(23)  During the war, Texaco delivered at least 1,866,000 metric tons of petroleum products to Franco. Ford, General Motors and Studebaker sold a total of 12,000 trucks to Franco, as compared to 1,700 from Italy and 1,800 from Germany. Neither fuel nor trucks were sold to the Republic.(24)

U.S. companies also sold arms to the Fascists by first shipping them to Nazi Germany, from which they were transshipped to Spain. In 1938, Dupont-owned Atlas Powder Company sent 60,000 aerial bombs to Germany in this fashion, all marked “For transshipment to an undisclosed destination.”(25) In April, 1938, Roosevelt publicly admitted that the bombs falling on Republican cities were American-made. “It is all perfectly legal,” he said.(26)

Apart from the naval “non-intervention” patrol, Britain confined her aid to Franco to ammunition deliveries through Gibraltar and intelligence reports on Russian aid to the Republic, plus various commercial deals.(27)

For their part, the Popular Front government of France made its contribution to Fascism in a number of ways other than “non-intervention.” After selling the Republic a small quantity of obsolete aircraft, they closed the border to arms and volunteers. Volunteers for the Republic caught in France were imprisoned, but the largely communist-led underground organizations got many over the border. Large quantities of Soviet arms and arms purchased by the Comintern were held on French soil. After the fall of Catalonia, Republican refugees were treated to the best in ruling class hospitality–concentration camps.

Aid to the Republic from the Soviet Union began arriving in Spain in October, 1936, barely in time for a detachment of Soviet tanks to help in the defense of Madrid. The total number of Soviet personnel in Spain at any one time probably never totaled 700.(28) Soviet arms shipments were limited after the closing of the French border by the necessity to run the gauntlet of Italian submarines and aircraft and the “non-intervention” patrol–and also by the desire to avoid a world war, a desire unrealized in the event. According to Franco sources, 53 merchant ships were sunk, 324 captured and 1,000 detained at sea for carrying arms to the Republic. Not all of these were carrying Soviet war material, of course, but among the Soviet ships known sunk were the Komsomol, the Timiriazev, and the Blagoev.(29)

The general effect of foreign intervention of all sorts was that the Republic almost never fought with parity of arms, and typically faced odds in material and men of 3 or 4 to one.(30)

Communists Organize For Victory

After being transported from Morocco by Hitler’s planes, the Army of Africa advanced rapidly north through the open country of central Spain, pushing back the poorly armed and inexperienced militias of the Popular Front. As the militias retreated toward Madrid, however, resistance stiffened. The PCE urged the Republican government, headed by “left” Socialist fatmouth Francisco Largo Caballero, to organize fortification of the city. His reply: “Spaniards might fight from behind trees, but never from trenches.”(31)  Minister of War as well as Prime Minister, Largo displayed his dazzling incompetence only during specified hours; he would sign papers only between 8:30 and 9:00 A.M., and left orders not to be disturbed after 10:00 P.M.!(32) On November 6, the government formalized its abdication of responsibility for defense of the capital and moved to Valencia. All the ministers except the communists left with Largo Caballero, taking even the records of the Ministry of War.(33) On the 9th, as fierce fighting raged in the city, Largo sent a messenger to Madrid for the silverware he had left behind, but received only the reply that “we who have remained in Madrid are still eating.”(34)

Largo had left the defense of the capital to Miaja, an incompetent Republican general of doubtful loyalty, and to a Defense Junta of trade union and Popular Front representatives. Fortunately, Soviet General Goriev, nominally Miaja’s advisor, was on hand to handle the military planning of the defense.(35)

The even more important political side of the mobilization of the city’s population was led by the PCE. At the start of the rebellion, La Pasionaria’s broadcasts and speeches called for the resolute defense of Madrid: “They shall not pass!” “Madrid will be the tomb of Fascism!” Since then, the PCE had organized to make this a reality. Their famous Fifth Regiment had recruited over 60,000 militiamen (half PCE members), which soon became the backbone of the People’s Army. Modeled on the Soviet Red Army of Russian civil war days, the 5thRegiment had a system of political commissars responsible for the political understanding of the troops and commanders, and who acted as commanders themselves when the need arose. Tens of thousands of workers were trained in the Regiment, including the soon to be famous commanders Lister (a quarryman), Modesto (a woodcutter) and El Campesino (“The Peasant”). Barracks, commissary, and training schools were organized, as well as committees to look after families of recruits. Discipline came hard and a special company was organized as an example. The commissar of the 5th Regiment described this company to a journalist:

“We called it the “Steel Company” and made stringent requirements. To join this company a man must know something of arms, must have good health and must be guaranteed by some group as a determined anti-fascist. For this company we established special slogans designed to create an iron unity. ‘Never leave a comrade, wounded or dead, in the hands of the enemy’ was one of these. ‘If my comrade advances or retreats without orders, I have the right to shoot him’, was another.

How Madrid laughed at that. The Spaniard is such an individualist that nobody will accept such discipline, they said. Then our first Steel Company–mostly Communists and metalworkers–paraded through the city: it made a sensation. After that we created twenty-eight such companies of picked men, besides the ordinary muster of our regular Fifth Regiment militia.”(36)

Partly because of the seriousness and effectiveness with which the communists organized the militias, membership in the PCE, JSU (United Socialist Youth) and the PSUC (United Socialist Party of Catalonia, also affiliated with the Comintern) soared: from 30,000 at the beginning of the war to 200,000 at the end of 1936 to 1,000,000 by June, 1937.(37)

Foreign volunteers recruited largely by communist parties were organized into communist-led International Brigades. About 40,000 served in the Brigades, as many as 17,000 at any one time.(38) Like the Fifth Regiment, the Internationals were famous for their discipline and courage. Hemingway described the hill in Teruel defended by the German exiles of the Thaelmann Brigade as “a position that they sold as dearly as any position was sold in any war.”(39) The Internationals played a significant role in the early days of the fighting when troops with any sort of training were scarce, and fought well throughout. Their recruitment was an act of internationalism enormously appreciated by the Spanish workers. In the later part of the war, many Spaniards were recruited to the Brigades. Foreigners were withdrawn in 1938 in a vain effort to secure League of Nations action against German and Italian intervention. By that time, however, there were many crack units in the People’s Army.

As Fascist troops approached Madrid, Communists assumed the functions of the departed civil servants; radio, leaflets and banners urged the workers of Madrid to dig trenches and build barricades. Workers’ districts were organized block by block; 5th Regiment leaflets gave advice on battling tanks and house-to-house fighting.(40)

On November 7th, Franco’s troops, expecting an easy victory, assaulted the city from the west, southwest, and northwest, but were repulsed by the hard-pressed militias, particularly the Fifthh Regiment, in hand-to-hand fighting. For the 8th, the defenders prepared for renewed attacks, which they knew would come throughout the University City. The Fascist forces intentionally avoided attacking through the working-class districts “heavily seeded with Communist workers.”(41)

Resistance was furious in the University, with workers and Fascist troops occupying different floors of the same building. In some places rifles were so scarce that workers waited under cover until those with arms had been shot, then rushed out to pick up the guns and fight on.(42) In the afternoon, the vanguard of the recently constituted 11th International Brigade marched up the Gran Via, singing the Internationale. Crowds cheered the volunteers of the Edgar Andre (Belgian), Dombrowski (Polish) and Commune de Paris (French) battalions, shouting “United Proletarian Brothers,” the motto of the Asturias revolt of 1934. Many believed the Brigades to be Russian and gave vivas for “los russos.”

By nightfall, the much-needed machine guns of the Edgar Andres were in positions in the Hall of Philosophy in the University, and other brigades were distributed to vital points. Twice on the next day the Moroccan Tabors broke through militia lines at the Toledo and Princes Bridges, but were driven back with heavy losses.(43)  In the evening, the Internationals outflanked the Moroccans in the Casa de Campo, driving them back with enormous losses.(44)

From November 8th to the 15th, nine militia units came from other areas to aid Madrid. One, the 3,000-man Anarchist column from the Aragon Front, deserves mention for its example of Anarchist military organization. The column was led by Buenaventura Durruti, whose demands for an independent section of the front “so that their achievements could not then be claimed by other units” were supported by the Anarchist Minister of Justice.(45) 

The Anarchists were given a sector in the University City, with artillery and air support, but refused to attack. The next day, the Fascists attacked and the Anarchists broke and ran, abandoning a key bridge and positions in the University. Counterattacks by exhausted militiamen and Internationals regained some of the lost territory; lines thus established were to remain the same until the end of the war. Ashamed of the performance of his men, Durruti tried to persuade them not to leave Madrid but was shot and killed by one of them.(46)

Aragon and Catalonia: Anarchists and Trotskyites Play at Revolution

The Trotskyite POUM (Workers Party of Marxist Unification) was formed in October, 1935 by the fusion of two sects led by renegades from the PCE. Their activities were largely confined to Catalonia. Until their suppression in May, 1937, the POUM acted as an adjunct to the Anarchist Federation of Iberia (FAI) and the labor federation (CNT) which the FAI led. Vitriolic in their attacks on “Stalinists,”(47) the POUM merely offered friendly advice to the Anarchists, who held “similar ideas concerning hopes and perspectives on the revolution.”(48)

After the Fascist rising, the FAI-CNT was the strongest political force in Catalonia, dominating the Anti-Fascist Militias committee. This Committee held the real power in Barcelona for the first year of the war, although the Generalitat continued to have some influence in the countryside.(49)

Under Anarchist leadership, workers’ committees took over the factories in Barcelona and established agricultural collectives in rural areas, in some cases by force.(50) A number of foreign-owned plants were not confiscated; 87 British enterprises were protected by agreement with the British Consulate.(51)

Sources sympathetic to the Anarchists claim that their industrial experiments were successful, particularly in the arms industries,(52) and were sabotaged by the lack of credit from the central government. Conflicts with the central government did exist, but a more accurate explanation of the causes of industrial failures in Catalonia is given by Abad de Santillan, Anarchist member of the Militias Committee:

“We have not organized the economic apparatus which we had planned. We have been satisfied with throwing out the proprietors from the factories and putting ourselves in them, as committees of control. There has been no attempt at connections, there has been no coordination of the economy in due form. We have worked without plans and without real knowledge of what we were doing.”(53)

Abad de Santillan thought that this situation was improving at the end of 1936, but noted that 15,000-20,000 workers were still collecting wages without working.(54) The fact is that the individualistic and muddle-headed FAIists were incapable of giving the leadership that would have enabled the working class to organize industry effectively.

After the defeat of the Fascist rising in Barcelona, Anarchists and POUMists organized militias which “fought” on the Aragon front. Their military accomplishments were truly amazing: they made a demonstration in the direction of Zaragoza, the capital of Aragon, and settled in to trade occasional shots with the Fascists. New York Times correspondent Herbert Matthews was told by a POUM militiaman from the “Lenin” Division at Huesca that

“We used to play football with the Fascists down there on the plain. They were good fellows. They invited us to spend the weekend in Saragossa and Jaca, and promised they’d let us come back.”(55)

Huesca had been virtually surrounded by the inactive Catalan militias for 11 months when a major attempt was made to capture the city by newly-organized People’s Army forces.(56) The lull had been put to better use than football games by the Fascists, who had built substantial fortifications. The attack failed.(57)

Internationals relieving Anarchist troops on the Ebro Riber a year after the beginning of the war found no fortifications, and positions a full two kilometers from Fascist lines.(58) Exactly two casualties had been admitted to the nearby military hospital in the previous three months.(59) Anarchist militias had elevated chaos into a political principle. A leaflet distributed in Aragon stated that:

“We do not recognize military formations because this is the negation of Anarchism. Winning the war does not mean winning the revolution. Technology and strategy are important in the present war, not discipline which presupposes a negation of the personality.”(60)

If in nothing else, Durruti was certainly right when he lamented that “War is made by soldiers, not by Anarchists.”(61)

The Internationals also found a peasant population embittered against Republican forces by the Anarchist seizures. The commissar of the Lincoln Brigade found one farmer incredulous that he was offered money for food instead of worthless script.(62) The sullen attitudes of the Aragon farmers contrasted markedly with the enthusiastic support that had met the People’s Army forces outside Anarchist-controlled areas.(63)

On the Fascist side, the Aragon front was very weakly held: a Franco historian says that the Fascists were able to remove forces from that front to attack Madrid.(64) POUMists and their defenders have excused their criminal footdragging by the lack of arms for POUM and FAI-CNT forces, claiming that communists withheld Soviet material from Aragon.(65) Orwell, for example, explains their failure to attack, despite the desires of the rank-and-file militiamen, by the lack of artillery and maps, the difficult terrain, and the fact that there was only one machine gun for every fifty men.(66) With the same material difficulties–including one machine gun per fifty men–the communist-led 35th Division forced the Ebro River in July, 1938, advanced 25 kilometers, captured 4 towns and 2500 prisoners.(67)  The POUM leaders’ attitude is amply summed up by a remark Orwell quotes from his POUM commander Georges Kopp: “This is not war, it is comic opera with an occasional death.”(68) As we have seen, things weren’t so comic on the Madrid front.

Still, it must be said that the material shortages on the Aragon front do have a sinister explanation–but not the one the red-baiters offer. After the war, FAIist Abad de Santillan obliged us with a frank confession:

“If all the leaders of the Libertarian (anarchist) organizations had ever seriously resolved to send all their armament, their war material and their best men to the front–the war would easily have been over in a few months�We can no longer conceal the fact that while, at the front itself, we had by 30,000 rifles (and perhaps as many as 24 batteries, 200 heavy guns), in the rear, in the power of the organizations, we had an additional 60,000 rifles with more ammunition than was ever in the proximity of the enemy.”(69)

The intended purpose of these arms the anarchists kept from the front was combat with the other parties after the victory over Franco,(70) although the occasion never arose.

In fact, the opportunity for the supreme act of treachery did not come to the POUM or the Catalan Anarchists, but to Corp Commander Cipriano Mera, the highest ranking Anarchist officer in Spain. Mera’s contribution to Fascism came in 1939, when General Casado ran a coup against the Republican government to prevent further resistance to the Fascists. Communist commanders led their troops against Casado to put down the coup, but Mera brought his troops to Casado’s support and the PCE troops were defeated.(71)

The Trots Lose Their Playground

In Catalonia in late ’36 and early ’37, the disorganization of production, inflation, lack of serious prosecution of the war, and growth of the communist parties (PCE and PUSC) combined to weaken and discredit the POUM and the FAI. Faced with the clear failure of their utopian theories, the Anarchist movement began to disintegrate. In September, ’36, the FAI-CNT compromised their grotesquely anti-political principles and entered the Catalan Generalitat, along with the PUSC and Catalan Nationalist parties, with one delegate from the POUM.(72) Attacking the “Stalinists” for their advocacy of the Popular Front, the POUM was only too happy to be included in this one. Their incredibly sophistical defense of this action was that the “petty bourgeoisie” was collaborating with them, rather than vice-versa!(73)

In March, 1937, the central government ordered the confiscation of arms from the political parties(74); in Barcelona, measures were taken to curb the numerous street murders by the “uncontrollables”–thugs who had attached themselves to the FAI(75) — and to disband the militia “police.” The CNT and POUM declined to surrender arms or submit to the draft.(76)

Numerically insignificant, unable to build a base among workers and discredited by their “sheer inefficiency and incompetence all along the line,”(77)  the political bankruptcy of the POUM was complete. Dropping any pretense of fighting the Fascists, the POUM decided for an all-out battle against the communists instead.

On May 3, 1937, Catalan police chief Rodriguez Sala and the Generalitat representative for the Telephone Exchange went to the Exchange�s censorship department to complain of anarchist interference with government phone calls. Anarchist militiamen, who had held the exchange since the start of the war, fired from an upper floor. Brief fighting ensued, which was stopped by an FAI leader. Rumors of a “provocation” spread among CNT members and barricades were erected throughout the city. As sporadic fighting began between CNT and PUSC members, POUM leaders proposed to FAI-CNT leaders that communists be expelled from the government and “Stalinist” influence be eliminated in Catalonia once and for all.(78) The POUM was turned down flat.(79) Supported only by a small Anarchist group called the “Friends of Durriti” and a section of the Libertarian Youth, the POUM called for the overthrow of the Generalitat and the establishment of a Revolutionary Junta. Anarchist leaders attempted to secure truce in the barricade fighting and eventually did so, after several false starts. The arrival of 4,000 Assault Guards from Valencia assured that it would continue. Total casualties were reported as 400 killed, 1,000 wounded.(80)

In the central government, the PCE demanded the suppression of the POUM for these crimes. Largo Caballero refused, but this was the last straw even for members of his own party. Largo was ousted and Socialist Juan Negrin became Prime Minister. The POUM was suppressed, and about 40 POUMists arrested. Treacherous POUM leader Andres Nin was apparently executed by Soviet agents, small retribution for the deaths in Barcelona.(81) Other POUMists were held for trial on charges of espionage, treason, fomenting the fighting in Barcelona, and removing troops under their command from the front to Barcelona. At the trial, the POUMists denied they had helped to provoke the fighting, conveniently “forgetting” the articles in their own newspaper, La Batalla.(82) They even denied commanding the troops that had left the front at Heusca, some of them forced to return to the lines by the threat of bombing their buses.(83)  POUM “political secretary” Julian Gorkin was able to “remember” that La Batalla had reprinted a Fascist leaflet attacking the government which had been dropped over the lines. When Don Jose Gomis Soler, the public prosecutor, asked Gorkin why the source of the fascist leaflet was referred to in the tiniest type below the proclamation, Gorkin laughingly said: “This is a mere typographical matter.”(84)

The accused were found innocent of espionage and treason; all except one were found guilty of the other charges and sentenced to various terms.

Were the POUM Leaders Franco’s Agents?

The POUM leaders were accused by the PCE of being in the pay of Franco, and some of the incidents reported above indicate why this was plausible and widely believed in Republican Spain.(85)  Plainly, the POUM earned their money, even if they didn’t collect it.

On May 11, 5 days after the fighting began, Faupel, Hitler’s ambassador to Franco, wrote:

“Concerning the disorders in Barcelona, Franco has told me that the street fighting was provoked by his agents. Nicholas Franco has confirmed this report, informing me that they have a total of 13 agents in Barcelona. Some time ago one of them had reported that the tension between Anarchists and Communists in Barcelona was so great that it could well end in street fighting. The Generalissimo told me that at first he doubted this agent’s reports, but later they were confirmed by other agents. Ordinarily he didn’t intend to take advantage of the possibility until military operations had been established in Catalonia. But since the Reds had recently attacked Teruel to aid the Government of Euzcadi (the Basque provinces), he thought the time was right for the outbreak of disorders in Barcelona. In fact, a few days after he had received the order, the agent in question with three or four of this men, succeeded in provoking shooting in the streets which later led to the desired results.”(86)

Soon after the May fighting, a number of Franco agents were caught in Barcelona, and implicated Nin–perhaps for their own reasons.(87)

Some Catalan Anarchists openly expressed their Fascist sympathies. After the war, Abad de Santillan had praise for Jose Antonio Primo de Rivera, founder of the Fascist Falange Espanola:

“Despite the difference which separated us, we can understand this “spiritual kinship” with Jose Antonio, who after all was a fighter and a patriot in search of solutions for his country�Spaniards of his stature, patriots such as he are not dangerous. They are not the enemy. As for changing the destiny of Spain, there had been, before July, 1936, diverse attempts to align with us. If an accord had been tactically feasible, it would have been according to the desires of his father, Primo de Rivera (dictator of Spain under the monarchy).”(88)

Such are the political degenerates lionized by phony leftists who attack and slander communists.

What the Communists Did Wrong–Racism

Throughout the war, Franco relied on troops recruited and conscripted in Spanish (and French) Morocco. Perhaps 100,000 Moors fought for the Fascists.(89)  The Fascists encouraged every sort of atrocity on the part of the Moors, playing on the racism of the Republicans with great success. Fascist General Quiepo de Llano broadcast revolting descriptions of the rapes to be committed by Moorish troops should they capture Madrid.(90) Republican propaganda repeated and embroidered this racist trash. Posters in Madrid depicted Moorish soldiers as “thick-lipped, hideously grinning, powerful turbaned figures attacking defenseless white women and bayoneting white children.”(91)

Republican Minister of Foreign Affairs Alvarez del Vayo characterized Moors as “immune from all political propaganda of a democratic nature.”(92)  The facts are the exact opposite. Representatives of the Riffs of Morocco, who had fought a long war for independence in the teens and twenties, offered to organize against Franco in return for independence from Spain. The Republican government turned them down flat, fearing French reaction to an independence movement adjoining their own colonies in Africa, and hoping to use Morocco for bargaining with other capitalist powers. A Catalan delegation of Communists and Anarchists supported the Moroccan request, but got nowhere.(93)

The PCE never made a public fight over this crucial issue, which should not only have been a matter of principle, but which could have produced a powerful and proven ally in the struggle against Franco. Nor did the PCE combat racism in any other way. Instead, they promoted it! La Pasionaria repeated the filth of Radio Seville, accusing the Fascists of lack of patriotism for urging the Moors to rape Spanish women:

�Peasant girls violated by legionaries, mercenaries, and Moors, who have been tempted from their African villages by the promise of a “good time,” bear witness to this “patriotism” of the fascist murderers.(94)

PCE promotion of racism was far more than a lost opportunity for militant allies in Morocco (and the Spanish mainland); it was an error that contributed to all sorts of weaknesses of line and strategic failures. French bosses were right to fear that an independent Spanish Morocco would ignite independence struggles in the neighboring French colonies. This would have been an excellent development for the Republic, drawing off French and British aid to Franco. A determined struggle against racism would have dealt a major blow to the many nationalist divisions in the Republic. These divisions constituted an enormously important weakness, contributing to Anarchist predominance in Catalonia, where the war was finally lost.

The development of a class understanding of racism and capitalism’s need for it might have force the communist movement world-wide to abandon their wrong line on the nature of Fascism and capitalist rule. In other words, understanding the role of racism under capitalism leads to understanding the necessity for workers’ power; as well as making it possible to fight for it. A key strategy for organizing the struggle for socialism is to unite with and rely on the most oppressed–and the most militant–working people. In the long colonial wars, the Moors had shown themselves to be just that.

Finally, fighting racism in Spain could have helped develop a better line in other countries when their volunteers returned. As it was, the Internationals absorbed the prevailing racist atmosphere and took that home. British volunteers actually called the Moors “niggers.”(95)

Guerrilla War

The racist failure to aid the Moors to rise in Franco’s rear is paralleled by the Republic’s failure to develop partisan warfare in Fascist-held Spain. Stalin (among others) had urged Largo Caballero to organize partisans in December, 1936,(96)  but the policy was rejected on the grounds of lack of trained cadre and arms.(97)

If the PCE had understood that the war must be won by relying on the workers and peasants of Spain and Morocco, rather than waiting for help from foreign capitalists, it would have been obvious that organizing guerrillas in Fascist areas was necessary and possible. Guerrillas had operated successfully in Spain since the Napoleonic Wars, and large numbers of leftist sympathizers were in Franco-held areas. Disaffection with the Fascist regime was enormous behind the lines. In May, 1938, Franco described 40% of the population in the areas he controlled as “unreliable.”(98)  Nevertheless, guerrilla operations in the war were largely limited to Soviet-organized commando and intelligence operations, and a great opportunity to expand and win People’s War in Spain was lost.

Socialism: The Only Way to Win

Despite the importance of the previous points, the key to victory in the civil war was the fight for the dictatorship of the proletariat, not as a vague objective for the far-off future, but the immediate program to put into effect. There can be no doubt that the opportunity for taking power existed: the PCE and PUSC were the real organizers of the war against Fascism, and could have united the working class even more completely around worker’s dictatorship than around “a new type of parliamentary-democratic republic”(99) –a fig-leaf for bourgeois rule.

The effect of not taking power was to leave it in the hands of bosses’ agents who sabotaged the struggle against Franco. “Socialist” Largo Caballero was more than an incompetent egomaniac–he went so far as to bargain with the British and French to exclude the communists and Soviet aircraft.(100)  His successor in the Ministry of War, “Socialist” Indalecio Prieto, went around telling everyone who would listen that the Republic was bound to lose, and did virtually nothing to oppose a successful Fascist drive to cut the Republic in two in March, 1938.(101) Instead of taking power, the PCE organized an enormous demonstration in Barcelona, demanding that Prieto be ousted (which he was). But purging the government of such criminals after they have done irreparable damage cannot win. It is merely a defensive strategy to stave off defeat a little longer.

In contrast, the Bolsheviks of 1917 used the self-exposure of the Social-Democrats in the government to show that only workers’ rule can accomplish what the working class needs–and they took power.

Instead of this revolutionary policy, the republic, supported by the PCE, mounted military offensives not to win, but to hold out and impress the capitalist “democracies.” Like the NLF’s Tet offensive, the Ebro offensive in July, 1938, had no real chance of defeating the enemy militarily. Like the Tet offensive, it was aimed at achieving a favorable position in negotiations with the enemy; the Republic hoped to exploit the developing contradictions of England, France, and the U.S. with the Fascist powers by showing that the Republic was still an anti-Fascist force to be reckoned with.(102)  Thus, a main element of Popular Front strategy was to rely on the very bosses who were supporting Franco, and the strategy worked no better in Spain that it did in Vietnam. The bosses can be relied on for racism, murder and exploitation, but not for help! The only alternative is to rely on the workers, and that means fighting for workers’ power. Spain shows clearly what relying on the bosses means, since 400,000 people–apart from those dead in the fighting–were slaughtered after the Republic fell.(103)

The policy of attempting to exploit contradictions among the imperialists was also followed by the Soviet Union during the Spanish War, despite the fact that the “democracies” were busy inciting Hitler to wipe out workers’ power in Russia. During the thirties, the Soviet government tried to concoct alliances for the forthcoming war with almost every combination of European powers, finally signing a pact with Hitler himself. Even though the imperialists were finally unable to overcome their rivalries and unite against the Soviet Union, Soviet workers were left to defeat the Nazis virtually alone.(104)

Thus, the clear lesson of Spain and the larger conflict which was to follow is that workers have absolutely nothing to gain from alliances with bosses. We must rely on our own strength, fight racism and settle for nothing short of workers’ power and socialism. If we learn this lesson and put it into practice, the struggles and sacrifices of Spanish workers, though representing a temporary defeat, will contribute to final victory over capitalism and put into practice the motto of Asturias: “UNITE PROLETARIAN BROTHERS!”

Footnotes

1. Frank Jellinek, The Civil War in Spain, London, 1938, Chaps I, II, IV.

2. Hugh Thomas, The Spanish Civil War, New York, 1961, p. 19.

  1.  Ibid., Chapters III, IV, V, VI, VII.
  2.  Ibid., Chapters VII, VIII.

5. Arthur Landis, Spain! The Unfinished Revolution, Baldwin Park, Cal., 1972, p. 58. Cited as “Landis.”

6. Thomas, pp. 80-5

7. G. Dimitroff, United Front Against Fascism, New York, 1937, p. 100.

8. Thomas, p. 96.

  1.  Ibid., p. 96.

10. G. Jackson, The Spanish Republic and Civil War, 1931-1939, Princeton, 1965, p. 417.

11. Jellinek, p. 285

  1.  Ibid., p. 75.

13. Richard Robinson, The Origins of Franco’s Spain, Pittsburg, 1970, p. 291.

14. Jellinek, p. 279.

15. Stanley Payne, Falange, Stanford; 1961, p. 45.

16. Jackson, pp. 356-8.

17. D. Ibarurri, They Shall Not Pass, New York, 1966, p. 185.

18. Quoted in Landis, p. 136.

  1.  Ibid., p. 105.

20. Jackson, p. 333.

21. Landis, p. 205.

  1.  Ibid.

23. Ibid., p. 207.

  1.  Ibid., p. 208.
  2.  Ibid.
  3.  Ibid.

27. German Charge d’Affairs in Fascist Spain, quoted ibid., p. 239.

28. Stanley Payne, The Spanish Revolution, New York, 1970, p. 324. Cited as “Payne.”

29. Landis, p. 243.

30. Arthur Landis, The Abraham Lincoln Brigade, New York, 1967, passim. Cited as “Landis, ALB.”

31. Landis, p. 246.

  1.  Ibid., p. 247.

33. Thomas, p. 319.

34. Quoted in Landis, p. 269.

35. Burnett Bolloten, The Grand Camouflage, New York, 1961, p. 239.

36. Anna Louise Strong, Spain in Arms, 1937, New York, 1937, pp. 42-3.

37. P. Broue & E. Temime, The Revolution and the Civil War in Spain, Cambridge, Mass., 1970, p. 229.

38. Landis, p. 252.

39. Quoted in Landis ALB, p. 376.

40. Landis, p. 262.

41. Quoted in ibid., p. 259.

  1.  Ibid., p. 267.
  2.  Ibid., pp. 268-9.
  3.  Ibid., p. 370.
  4.  Ibid., p. 273.
  5.  Ibid., pp. 275-6.

47. The Spanish Revolution, (POUM English-language newspaper), 2/3/37.

  1.  Ibid., 3/31/37.

49. Broue and Temime, pp. 130-3; Thomas, 187-92.

50. Quoted in Landis, p. 324. The source is J. Petro, Anarchist Minister in the Republic Government.

51. Payne, p. 246.

52. G. Brennan, The Spanish Labyrinth, Cambridge, U.K., 1943, p. 321.

53. Abad de Santillan, After the Revolution, New York, 1937, p. 122.

54. Ibid, p. 134.

55. Quoted in H.L. Matthews, Two Wars and More to Come, New York, 1938, p. 294.

  1.  Ibid., Thomas, p. 443.

57. Matthews, p. 295.

58. Landis ALB, pp. 252-6.

  1.  Ibid.

60. Quoted in Ibarurri, p. 285.

61. Quoted in Landis, p. 323.

62. Steve Nelson, The Volunteers, New York, 1953, p. 175.

  1.  Ibid.

64. M. Anzar, Historia Militar de la Guerra de Espania (1930-1939), Madrid, 1958; quoted in Landis, p. 320.

65. The Spanish Revolution, 2/17/37.

66. G. Orwell, Homage to Catalonia, New York, 1952, pp. 32-5.

67. Landis, p. 331; the battle is described in Landis ALB, p. 517ff.

68. Orwell, p. 32.

69. Abad de Santillan, Porque Perdimos la Guerra, Buenos Aires, 1940, pp. 67-8; quoted in Landis, p. 321.

  1.  Ibid.

71. Thomas, pp. 586-603.

72. Landis, p. 337.

73. The Spanish Revolution, 11/4/36.

74. Payne, p. 294.

  1.  Ibid.
  2.  Ibid.

77. F. Borkenau, quogted in Landis, p. 320.

78. Julian Gorkin (POUM leader), Nota sobre las Jornadas de Mayo de 1937, unpublished MS in Hoover Institute; cited in Payne, p. 297.

  1.  Ibid.

80. Thomas, pp. 424-9.

  1.  Ibid., pp. 452-5.

82. “The Treason Trial of the POUM,” World News and Views, vol. 18 (1938), #50, pp. 1143-4.

83. Ibarurri, p. 286.

84. E. Rolfe, in The Daily Worker, 12 Oct., ’38.

85. Claude Bowers (U.S. Ambassador to the Spanish Republic), My Mission to Spain, New York, 1954, p. 356.

86. Quoted in Ibarurri, p. 282.

87. Thomas pp. 454ff, 568; relevant documents are reprinted in The Communist International, vol. 16 (1939), p. 165ff.

88. Abad de Santillan, Porque Perdimos la Guerra, as quoted in Landis, p. 312.

89. Barton Whaley, Guerrillas in the Spanish Civil War, Detroit, 1969, p. 40.

90. Thomas, p. 181.

91. Whaley, p. 42.

92. Quoted ibid., p. 39.

93. Whaley, passim; Payne 270-2.

94. D. Ibarruri, Speeches and Articles, 1936-1938, New York, 1938, p. 130.

95. Whaley, p. 42.

  1.  Ibid., p. 15
  2.  Ibid., p. 13.

98. Jackson, p. 429.

99. D. Ibarruri, “The Time Has Come to Create a Single Party of the Proletariat in Spain,” Communist International, vol. 14 (1937), #9, p. 651.

100. Payne, pp. 270-2.

101. Landis, p. 372; Landis ALB, p. 401ff.

102. Jackson, p. 454.

103. Landis, p. 405. Executions were still taking place in 1944 (ibid.)

104. In the Battle of Stalingrad, military and political turning point of World War II, the Red Army destroyed 113 Fascist divisions, two and one half times the German forces facing the Normandy invasion. (See, for example, G. Deborin, Secrets of the Second World War, Moscow, 1971, pp. 100, 163). While the Soviet workers were making enormous sacrifices to destroy the German armies, the capitalist “allies” were delaying a second front, fooling around with minor operations in North Africa and Sicily for public relations. When the second front was finally launched in Normandy, a year and a half after the Stalingrad victory, one main motive was simply fear of communist revolution in Europe (with Soviet army support), which would have denied the imperialists any slice of the European pie. Omar Bradley, commander of the U.S. troops in Europe, put this point with some frankness after the war:

To avoid chaos on the continent it would have been necessary for us to move such forces as we had, cross the Channel at one, move on into Germany, disarm its troops and seize control of the nation. (quoted in Deborin, P. 161)

In the final reckoning, the Red Army destroyed 507 German divisions, plus 100 of her allies’, as against 176 on all other fronts (Deborin, p. 269). U.S. and British aid to the Soviet Union provided only 1.9% of the guns, 8.3% of the planes and 10.5% of the tanks used by the Red Army, many of them of very inferior quality, plus some food and a quantity of trucks (Deborin, pp. 130-3, A. Werth, Russia at War, 1941-1945, New York, 1964, pp. 575-7). No significant aid reached the Soviet Union in time for Stalingrad.

Communist Party of Spain (PCE) Denounces the POUM

Pce2

Originally printed in the newspaper Frente Rojo on 6 February 1937

The fascist Trotskyist party should be dissolved and tried as fascist. The guttersnipe POUM has become desperate now that its infamy has been unmasked, and has unleashed a demogogic campaign against the solid wall of anti-fascist unity at the orders of its foreign masters.

We have continued to accuse them, conclusively showing their adventurism and showing that they are a faction organised behind our back. It’s not a matter of ideological disagreement nor even of physical revulsion towards a party of traitors, but of something deeper and more important. It’s a matter of the distance between those who are in the vanguard of our people and of the agents of the Gestapo. It’s a matter of a group of bandits which fascism has left amongst us.

Even now in the slander sheet called La Batalla, published in Barcelona, they defend themselves with the following inconsistent and comical arguments: referring to the trial against the Trotskyists they say it is an ‘iniquitous farce’ and in the following line accept that the ambassadors of France and the United States were present. That is to say, that a trial held in the presence of hundreds of foreign journalists and of the diplomatic corps, with legal guarantees for the accused such as no other country would provide, is described by the POUM as a farce. Naturally its Spanish accomplices are not going to recognise the justice exercised on a group of assassins. In Spain when we come to judge the Trotskyists – for we and our fraternal colleague – Mundo Obrero – demand that a people’s court try the fascist leaders of this organisation – their accomplices of some other place will say that our people’s justice has been an iniquitous farce.

In this same number of La Batalla … against the anti-fascists they write that they have received numerous protests from ‘comrades and sympathisers’ over an article by Goltsov in L’Humanité, protests that they don’t reproduce … for lack of space. Of course, they won’t print Franco’s congratulations.

Their cynicism elsewhere makes them state in answer to a report in the Official Monday Bulletin that ‘there was no picture of Trotsky in the meeting organised by the POUM in Barcelona.’ These contemptible people, conscious of the indignation which the picture of the leader of these international bandits arouses, don’t dare to exhibit it before their own members.

The secret aims of fascism are not well served by association with the criminal Trotsky. Who knows what new possibility they are seeking in order to serve the interests of the fascist agents amongst us.

Here is another proof that the POUM guttersnipes serve fascism and nothing but fascism. As all the world knows, the legitimate government has dissolved the so-called security patrols and has organised a single police force in the rear.

As all the world also knows, this force is formed from members of all the anti-fascist forces and the trade unions. Therefore, La Batalla of Wednesday shouts … ‘Long live the security patrols’ and writes elsewhere that the police force in the rear is the armed reserve of reaction. That is to say, they rabidly oppose the government’s measures and slander the people’s police force. If all who sabotage the government and insult its defenders should be considered fascists, then the provocateurs of the POUM are fascists.

That’s why it’s necessary to finish with this band of bandits and mete out the justice which these fascists deserve.

Source

Grover Furr: German Intelligence, Communist Anti-Trotskyism, and the Barcelona “May Days” of 1937

speciale11[1]

Originally posted by Grover Furr

German Intelligence, Communist Anti-Trotskyism, and the Barcelona “May Days” of 1937

I’m writing an article on the falsifications in Khrushchev’s infamous 1956 “Secret Speech.” A few weeks ago I ran across the following statement, in an article on the subject of this speech:

“…в угоду политической конъюнктуре деятельность Троцкого и его сторонников за границей в 1930-1940 годах сводят лишь к пропагандистской работе. Но это не так. Троцкисты действовали активно: организовали, используя поддержку лиц, связанных с абвером, мятеж против республиканского правительства в Барселоне в 1937 году. Из троцкистских кругов в спецслужбы Франции и Германии шли “наводящие” материалы о действиях компартий в поддержку Советского Союза. О связях с абвером лидеров троцкистского мятежа в Барселоне в 1937 году сообщил нам Шульце-Бойзен…Впоследствии, после ареста, гестапо обвинило его в передаче нам данной информации, и этот факт фигурировал в смертном приговоре гитлеровского суда по его делу.” (| Судоплатов, П. “Разведка и Кремль.” М., 1996, с. 88; | Haase, N. Das Reichskriegsgericht und der Widerstand gegen nationalsozialistische Herrschaft. Berlin, 1993, S. 105) [1]

English translation from Gen. Pavel Sudoplatov, _The Intelligence Service and the Kremlin, Moscow 1996, p. 58: 

“In the interests of the political situation the activities of Trotsky and his supporters abroad in the 1930s are said to have been propaganda only. But this is not so. The Trotskyists were also involved in actions. Making us of the support of persons with ties to German military intelligence [the ‘Abwehr’] they organized a revolt against the Republican government in Barcelona in 1937. From Trotskyist circles in the French and German special intelligence services came “indicative” information concerning the actions of the Communist Parties in supporting the Soviet Union. Concerning the connections of the leaders of the Trotskyist revolt in Barcelona in 1937 we were informed by Schuze-Boysen… Afterward, after his arrest, the Gestapo accused him of transmitting this information to us, and this fact figured in his death sentence by the Hitlerite court in his case.” 

This passage is indeed in Sudoplatov’s book. But the footnote to the Haase volume is not. I assume it was added either by Lifshits, author of the Russian-language article, or by Trosten, author of the German version. 

So I obtained the Haase volume. The text on pp. 105 ff. is the actual text of the German Reichskriegsgericht (Military Court of the Reich) against Harro Schulze-Boysen, charged with espionage for the Soviet Union (Haase, Norbert. Das Reichskriegsgericht und der Widerstand gegen die nationalsozialistische Herrschaft. Berlin: Druckerei der Justizvollzugsanstalt Tegel, 1993).The relevant paragraph, also on p. 105, reads thus:

Anfang 1938, während des Spanienkrieges, erfuhr der Angeklagte dienstlich, daß unter Mitwirkung des deutschen Geheimdienstes im Gebiet von Barcelona ein Aufstand gegen die dortige rote Regierung vorbereitet werde. Diese Nachricht wurde von ihm gemeinsam mit der von Pöllnitz der sowjetrussischen Botschaft in Paris zugeleitet.

English translation: 

“At the beginning of 1938, during the Spanish Civil War, the accused learned in his official capacity that a rebellion against the local red government in the territory of Barcelona was being prepared with the co-operation of the German Secret Service. This information, together with that of Pöllnitz, was transmitted by him to the Soviet Russian embassy in Paris.”

“Pöllnitz” was Gisella von Pöllnitz, a recent recruit to the “Red Orchestra” (Rote Kapelle) anti-Nazi Soviet spy ring who worked for United Press and who “shoved the report through the mailbox of the Soviet embassy” (Brysac, Resisting Hitler: Mildred Harnack and the Red Orchestra. Oxford University Press, 2000, p. 237). 

* * * * *

By itself Sudoplatov’s statement only proves that Soviet intelligence sincerely believed that Trotskyists were involved with “persons with ties to German military intelligence” in preparing this revolt. By the time he wrote his memoirs, in the 1990s, Sudoplatov was very anti-Soviet, and showed much remorse for many of the things he had done in the Soviet secret service. The fact that he insisted that the Trotskyists were involved with the Nazis in the “May Days” revolt of 1937 in Barcelona surely means that he sincerely believed it was true.

The information from the German Military Court published by Haase provides independent confirmation of Sudoplatov’s statement and of Soviet contentions at the time. It fully confirms Communist suspicions that German intelligence was involved in planning the Barcelona revolt of May 1937. Communist hostility towards Trotskyists and Trotskyism becomes understandable in the light of this information. 

There’s good evidence that the real panic over clandestine Trotskyists did not take place, even in the USSR, until after the May Days in Barcelona, 1937. Stalin’s speeches (two of them) to the February – March 1937 Central Committee Plenum, minimized the dangers of Trotskyists; declared them marginalized; and encouraged CC members not to discriminate against people who used to be Trotskyists but no longer were. [2]

By June or July this had all changed. At the enlarged session of the Military Soviet, held on June 1-4 to discuss the just-uncovered and very serious Tukhachevsky conspiracy, Stalin gave a speech in which he states that Tukhachevsky and the rest “tried to make out of the USSR another Spain.” [3] The meant create a civil war, of course. But specifically it seems to have meant: Do what the Trotskyists and others had done in the May Days in Barcelona — stab the USSR in the back in the course of a war with the fascists.

The Soviet NKVD had very credible evidence that Trotskyists were collaborating with the German military and Japanese. Soviet leaders certainly believed it. Pavel Sudoplatov believed it, in his memoirs, and he became very, very “anti-Stalin” and anti-Soviet in his old age.

The real panicked hunt for hidden oppositionists, Rights, Trotskyists, and others, began after that Plenum, in the atmosphere of the Tukhachevsky conspiracy. But the Tukhachevsky conspiracy was preceded by the Barcelona “May Days” revolt. 

The German Military Court evidence cited above shows that the German Secret Service was involved in the planning of the “May Days” revolt. Later in May 1937 Marshal Mikhail Tukhachevsky wrote out by hand a lengthy statement in which he admitted to conspiring against the Soviet Union with the German General Staff. [4] Tukhachevsky stated that the commanders discussed their planned revolt with Trotsky. These events provide the most likely explanation for the beginning of the fervent persecution by Communists of Trotskyists in Spain. [5]

Notes

[1] S Lifshits, “Preslovutyi Doklak Khrushcheva, ili CACATUM NON EST PICTUM”. In Moskva Sadovoe Kol’tso, http://m-s-k.newmail.ru , downloaded July 5 2004. The same article is published as a pamphlet in German: Gersch Troston, Chruschtschows berüchtigte Rede, oder CACATUM NON EST PICTUM (hingeschissen ist nicht gemalt). «Marxistisch-leninistische Schriftenreihe für Geschichte, Politik, Ökonomie und Philosophie» (ISSN 1861-2954), Heft 45. Berlin: Ernst-Thaelmann-Verlag, n.d. I have verified all the Russian and English quotations in this article with the originals.

[2] J.V. Stalin, Mastering Bolshevism. NY: Workers Library Publishers, 1937, pp. 26-7; 43-4. Cited from http://ptb.lashout.net/marx2mao/Stalin/MB37.html

[3] J.V. Stalin, “Speech by J.V. Stalin at the Ministry of Defense,” Secret Documents. Toronto, CA: Northstar Compass, n.d. [1996], p. 115: “These people tried to make out of the USSR another Spain…” Original in Lubianka. Stalin i Glavnoe Upravlenie Gosbezopasnosti NKVD 1937-1938. Eds. V.N. Khaustov et al. Moscow: “Materik”, 2004, p. 206; Stalin, Sochineniia [Collected Works], vol. 14, at http://grachev62.narod.ru/stalin/t14/t14_48.htm 

[4] Partial English translation in Steven J. Main, “The Arrest and ‘Testimony’ of Marshal of the Soviet Union M.N. Tukhachevsky (May – June 1937),” Journal of Slavic Military Studies 10, No. 1 (1997), 151-195. Trotsky and his followers are mentioned throughout Tukhachevsky’s statement.

[5] It’s important to emphasize that there is no evidence that any Trotskyists were killed by Soviet or other communists in Spain, with the exception of Andres Nin, POUM leader and former secretary of Trotsky. See Grover Furr, “Fraudulent Anti-Communist Scholarship From A “Respectable” Conservative Source: Prof. Paul Johnson,” at http://msuweb.montclair.edu/~furrg/pol/pauljohnsonfraud.html

Grover Furr: Anatomy of a Fraudulent Scholarly Work: Ronald Radosh’s “Spain Betrayed”

9780300089813

Grover Furr

Spain Betrayed: The Soviet Union in the Spanish Civil War by Ronald Radosh (Editor), Mary Radosh Habeck (Editor), Grigory Sevostianov (Editor). Annals of Communism series. Yale University Press, June 2001.

1. Long awaited and published to rave reviews — albeit predictably by Cold War conservatives (Arnold Beichman) and anti-communist liberals (Christopher Hitchens) — Radosh’s commentary on the 81 documents from the Comintern archives in Moscow concerning its involvement in the Spanish Civil War turns out to be notable for quite another reason: it is an utterly fraudulent work. [1]

2. In the course of this review-essay I’ll present a lot of evidence to substantiate this serious charge. I’ll also discuss, though briefly, the major positive reviews of the book. They are full of the same stuff. In several instances, an innocent reader might think that the reviewers had not actually read the documents themselves, but only Radosh’s commentary. For how could anyone compare what the Comintern documents state with what Radosh says about them, without noticing the enormous discrepancies between the two?

3. I won’t say much in this report about the documents themselves. Many of them are fascinating and valuable, though Radosh, in his zeal to arraign the communists, basically neglects them.

4. But one conclusion is so striking that it cannot be left unstated. Far from showing Soviet “betrayal,” these 81 documents make the Comintern, the International Brigades, and the massive Soviet aid to Spain appear in an extremely positive light. Reading the documents alone, and ignoring Radosh’s “commentary,” any objective person will come away with tremendous respect for the communist effort in the Spanish Civil War, not only by the Comintern and the justly famed International Brigades, but of the Soviet Union — or, as Radosh says it, in his crude demonizing synecdoche, of “Moscow” and “Stalin.”

5. Despite itself, Radosh’s book represents something valuable: an object lesson in the rhetorical strategies of anti-communism. Perhaps the biggest question of all — “Why lie, if the truth is on your side?” — will require a few remarks about the uses of anti-Stalinism in foreclosing any objective understanding of the successes and failures of the communist movement.

6. Radosh’s book contains so many errors and distortions that even a much longer review could not discuss them all. Therefore, I examine the documents in which the major “revelations” are supposedly to be found. To identify those, I’ve used (a) the four-page publicity handout from Yale University Press that accompanies the book, and (b) a number of the major reviews favorable to this volume, from leading publications (all are listed at the end). A few other documents were chosen because they seem to me particularly interesting. This close examination constitutes the bulk of the review.

7. I’ll also point out some examples of simple editorial incompetence. Radosh could have provided useful summaries of long and significant documents, or helpful and specific references to other scholarly work — surely the duty of a competent commentator — but scarcely ever does.

8. At the end of the review I’ve included some remarks of a more general nature about the issues raised both by these documents themselves and by Radosh’s commentary. There’s a good deal that can be said by Marxists in criticism of the Bolsheviks and the Comintern during the Stalin period — or of any political group, communist or not, at any period — and in conclusion I’ll allude to one or two things with special reference to Spain. But any and all criticism should be based on what actually happened as that can be deduced from the best evidence available, rather than on fabrications or demonization, as with Radosh and many other Cold-War writers, either from the Right or, not infrequently, the so-called Left.

9. What follows is a short outline of the main ideological frameworks for interpreting the Spanish Civil War. Some knowledge of them is essential to an appreciation of Radosh’s interpretation, the documents themselves, and the present review. Considerations of space preclude any more detailed discussion of the foundational texts of these frameworks. (I am planning a critique of Orwell’s influential book at a future time.)

10. The Spanish Civil War has always posed a special problem for the kind of anti-communist who is determined to argue that the leadership of the international Communist movement never acted out of any idealistic motives. Such people are convinced — at any rate, they are determined to convince others — that all communist struggles, no matter how noble in appearance, were in reality aimed at manipulative, cynical, authoritarian goals, ultimately far worse than those of the capitalist exploiters they professed to oppose. Khrushchev’s portrayal of a malevolent, virtually demonic Stalin after 1956, while it differed little from Trotsky’s, was far more influential, and except in China and Albania quickly became widely accepted within the Communist movement itself. It was essential in smoothing the path for Trotskyist and, in terms of Spain, Anarchist narratives, hitherto current only among tiny, marginalized groups.

11. George Orwell’s Homage to Catalonia is basically such an account, though Orwell’s superior literary ability, British patriotism during World War II, and subsequent endorsement of mainstream Cold War ideology, gave his work the status of a somewhat independent authority. Orwell’s book remains the main representative of these anti-communist paradigms, the only book about the Spanish Civil War that most people ever encounter.

12. According to this interpretation, further popularized in British director Ken Loach’s film Land and Freedom (1995), Trotskyists and, especially, Anarchists are the true revolutionaries, collectivizing the land, ceding control of factories to the workers, and promoting egalitarian relations generally. The Communists are portrayed as counter-revolutionaries, whose rank-and-file think they are fighting to defeat the fascists in order that, in the victorious bourgeois-democratic Spanish Republic, they can then initiate a struggle for working-class revolution, but whose leadership — Stalin — aims in reality at a bleak authoritarian dictatorship of the kind Trotskyists, Anarchists, conventional capitalist anti-communists and even fascists, claimed was the state of affairs in the USSR itself. This creates a certain tension within the otherwise “united front” of anti-communist versions of the Spanish Civil War, since capitalist anti-communism is normally aimed at the radical, not the putatively conservative, nature of the communist movement.

13. The Communist version, on the other hand — the version by far the best supported by the evidence — is that the “United Front Against Fascism” and for a liberal, bourgeois-democratic (and therefore capitalist) society was the only way to unite as many social forces as possible, including nationalists, urban capitalists, and wealthier peasants, to defeat the fascists. According to this view, upon victory a Spanish Republic would have a strong, organized working class which would continue the fight for progressive social reforms and, ultimately, socialist revolution. The Communists held that to begin a revolutionary struggle in the midst of the war against the fascist armies would guarantee the defeat of the Republic — a defeat which, in fact, happened.

14. A critique of the Communist view from the Left is certainly warranted — indeed, essential. But what passes for a “left” critique, the Anarchist-Trotskyist version outlined above, accepts the basic premises of the reactionary Cold War critique, to the point that it can be cited in service to the latter, as Radosh does here. To clear the ground for a real Left critique, it is first necessary to recover the historical truth of what did, in fact, happen, both in the Spanish Civil War and in the Soviet Union itself. A real Left critique of the Comintern’s politics which both fully and correctly appreciates its successes and goes beyond it to identify the main roots of its failures, is yet to be made, despite a few promising starts which have long been available, albeit little known (see below, and note 6).

15. Radosh’s own view, as represented in his commentary in Spain Betrayed, is contradictory. In places Radosh argues, according to the fashion of conservative capitalist anti-communists, that the Comintern was hiding its truly revolutionary intentions. In other passages, however, he endorses the Orwell-Trotskyist-Anarchist view that the Communists were a conservative force that “betrayed” the revolutionary potential in Spain. Radosh seems untroubled by, indeed unaware of, this basic contradiction, as in the case of the many passages in which he — in the most generous description of his practice — makes flagrant and egregious errors in reading the very texts upon which he is “commenting.”

Document 5

16. Document 5, a report by Georgi Dimitrov, head of the Comintern, to the Secretariat of the ECCI (Executive Committee, Communist International) of July 23, 1936, contains the following lines:

We should not, at the present stage, assign the task of creating soviets and try to establish a dictatorship of the proletariat in Spain. That would be a fatal mistake.

Radosh claims that this statement (a statement repeated in the press release)

. . . supports the contention of some scholars that the Communists purposely disguised their true objective, social revolution. (5-6)

But it does not. It clearly states that there are “stages,” the present one being the stage of “maintaining unity with the petty bourgeoisie and the peasants and the radical intelligentsia . . .” (11). Radosh’s claim could only be true if he gave evidence that the Communists were denying what everyone would have expected of them — to wish to move to another “stage,” once the fascists were defeated. Radosh gives no evidence that the Communists were making any such claims to have abandoned the ultimate goal of a Soviet-style revolution in Spain. So there can be no question of “disguising their true objective.”

17. It ought also to be noted that Radosh also wants it “both ways.” Sometimes he criticizes the Communists for opposing social revolution, which the Anarchists supposedly stood for. This is Ken Loach’s main contention in Land and Freedom. But other times, as here, Radosh criticizes the Communists for wanting social revolution but supposedly “disguising” their intentions.

18. Document 5 also offers an obvious mistranslation from the Russian. Immediately after the lines quoted above, Radosh et al. allege that Dimitrov wrote the following:

Therefore we must say: act in the guise of defending the Republic. . . . (p.11; emphasis added)

In his commentary Radosh states:

The very careful use of these terms, as well as the injunction to “act under the semblance of defending the republic,” supports the contention of some scholars that the Communists purposely disguised their true objective, social revolution. (pp. 5-6; emphasis added)

19. Evidently Radosh is referring to a different translation of the document than that which finally ended up in the volume, although arguably “in the guise of” and “under the semblance of” convey much the same thing: duplicity, dishonesty. However, there is an interesting footnote in the text of Document 5 attached to the phrase “in the guise.” That note, number 11 on page 515, reads thus: “Literally, ‘under the banner.'” In other words, what Dimitrov actually said is this:

Therefore we must say: act under the banner of defense of the Republic. . . .

20. The question is: What does “under the banner” — in Russian, “pod znamenem” — mean in Russian? The answer is: it means the opposite of what Radosh says it means. Rather than “under the semblance” or “in the guise,” it means “in service to” or “in defense of.” At exactly this time, one of the foremost Soviet philosophical journals was titled “Pod Znamenem Marksisma“: literally, “Under the Banner of Marxism,” often translated as “In Defense of Marxism.” No one would even think of translating that title as “In the Guise of,” or “Under the Semblance of,” Marxism! “Under the banner of” is a military metaphor, meaning “In the ranks of.”

21. In other words, what Dimitrov actually said was:

. . . act in defense of the Republic. . . .

There must be an interesting story behind that footnote. Whoever translated Document 5 — Radosh tells us (p. xxxi) that there were two translators for the Russian documents — that person evidently knew that “in the guise” was not the correct translation, and wanted to tell the world, even if by a footnote, that he or she was not responsible for this particular mistranslation.

22. This is the only mistranslation from the Russian that can be discerned in this collection, because Radosh et al. don’t give us the documents in the original languages (mostly Russian, but a few in Spanish, German and French). This would have been easy to do — on a book-related web page, for example. But the way this mistranslation is treated makes one wonder whether there may be more.

Document 42

23. Radosh spends a lot of words on Documents 42 through 44 because one of the central points of his book is that in these documents, especially Document 42, is to be found the proof that the Communists instigated the Barcelona uprising of May, 1937 as a pretext for violently suppressing their Anarchist opposition.

24. Briefly, the context for Radosh’s comments is as follows, in the words of Helen Graham, who has written authoritatively and most recently on this event (Graham 1999, p. 485):

On the afternoon of Monday 3 May 1937 a detachment of police attempted to seize control of Barcelona’s central telephone exchange (Telefónica) in order to remove the anarchist militia forces present therein. . . . Those days of social protest and rebellion have been represented in many accounts, of which the single best known is still George Orwell’s contemporary diary account, Homage to Catalonia, recently given cinematic form in Ken Loach’s Land and Freedom. It is paradoxical, then, that the May events remain among the least understood in the history of the civil war.

25. Radosh takes Document 42 to be directly related to this event:

. . . we have the proof that the view held by the Communists’ opponents was essentially correct. The Spanish Communist Party, with the support and knowledge of the Comintern and Moscow, had decided to provoke a clash, in the full understanding that the outcome would give them precisely the opportunity they had long been seeking. (174)

Radosh does not bother to tell us what would have been wrong with the communists’ seizing the telephone exchange from the anarchists. After all, the government, not one of the various parties, should have been in control of the exchange. And the assault was led by the Police Chief of Barcelona who, though a communist, was also a government official.

26. The anarchists had clearly been prepared for such an attack for a long time — after all, they had a machine-gun nest in the first floor which prevented the police from seizing the building at once. What justification did the anarchists — not the government, but one of the political parties in Barcelona — have controlling the telephone exchange in the first place?

27. The words that Radosh takes as “proof” that “the view held by the Communists’ opponents was essentially correct” — I emphasize “essentially” because even Radosh feels he has to qualify this statement, evidently realizing he is on weak grounds here — are as follows:

. . . the author of the report noted that the Communists had decided not to wait for a crisis, but to “hasten it and, if necessary, to provoke it” (emphasis added).

But Document 42 says nothing whatsoever about the attack on the telephone exchange, or about any plan for confrontation with the anarchists. The sentence quoted in part by Radosh in his commentary reads this way in full:

In a word, to go decisively and consciously to battle against Caballero and his entire circle, consisting of some leaders of the UGT. This means not to wait passively for a “natural” unleashing of the hidden government crisis, but to hasten it and, if necessary, provoke it, in order to obtain a solution for these problems.  . . . The leadership of the party is more and more coming to the conviction that with Caballero and his circle the Republic will be defeated, despite all the conditions guaranteeing victory. (194)

These lines do not refer at all to the attempt by the Communist Chief of Police to take possession for the Republican government of the telephone exchange that had been unlawfully seized and held by the anarchists, the event that precipitated the “May Days” in Barcelona and to which Radosh tries to tie this statement, or to any plan to incite any actions against the anarchists. Instead, the paragraph quoted just above refers to the previous points 8 through 14 of Document 42, in which the unnamed communist author says that the PCE has decided to take action against the Caballero government. There is nothing whatsoever in this document that connects it with the attempt to retake the telephone exchange.

28. Radosh’s allegation — one of the “bombshell” findings Radosh claims to have found — is a lie. This whole “discovery” is a complete swindle on the unsuspecting reader. I stress this point because Radosh’s supposed “discovery” here has been so widely touted as one of the major “revelations” of these Soviet documents. For example, the Press Release from Yale University Press that accompanied the books publication lists seven documents and summarizes what Radosh says they contain. The blurb on Document 42 reads:

Barcelona — the civil war within the Civil War. The five-day street battle in Barcelona was portrayed by Orwell in Homage to Catalonia and by Ken Loach in the film Land and Freedom. The historical dispute has always been: Was the anarchist reaction deliberately provoked? Document 42 shows that the view held by the Communists’ opponents was essentially correct. The Spanish Communist Party, with the support and knowledge of the Comintern, decided to provoke the clash. (emphasis added)

We should also note, in passing, the esteem in which Loach and Orwell are held by establishment anti-Communist ideologues like Radosh, and the way in which the echo-chamber of the “big lie” functions in the blurb above by pairing these supposed “authorities” with the specious “facts” that Radosh is creating here.

29. Richard Bernstein, whose very positive review of Radosh’s book appeared in the New York Times, tacitly recognizes that Document 42 did not prove what Radosh says it proves:

Two weeks later, the Communists, in the view of this book’s editors, did provoke the desired crisis, unleashing the Barcelona street battles that essentially eliminated the anarchist leadership and led to the replacement of Largo Caballero by a more malleable premier. [emphasis added]

(Bernstein makes it sound like Caballero was the leader of the anarchists; in fact, he was head of the government and a Socialist.)

30. In the interest of good sense, I would like to make a few additional remarks at this point.

1. The assumption, in Radosh’s Commentary and in other anti-communist accounts Radosh quotes, is that, by taking the Telephone exchange away from the anarchists and returning it to government control, the Communists were “provoking” the anarchists.

2. The anarchists had no business whatsoever holding the telephone exchange. The Police Chief, besides being a communist, was also a government officer. If removing an armed group of occupiers who have taken control of the telephone exchange is not a legitimate matter for the police, what is?

3. Imagine if the Communists had occupied the telephone exchange, fortified it with a machine-gun nest, interrupted government phone calls whenever they wanted to, and then a non-Communist police chief had tried to oust them? Would Radosh not take that as evidence that the Communists wanted to take over?

Document 43

31. One of Radosh’s statements about Document 43 has been cited in several favorable reviews of his book:

As the Comintern document cited earlier revealed, Stalin had in mind a Spanish version of the Moscow purge trials most likely to be held in Barcelona. (209) [2] 

The document in question, No. 43, is a report from an anonymous source, presumably to the Comintern. In it the informant states:

The immediate political consequences of the putsch [the anarchist attempt to seize power — this is the way this writer interprets the “May Days” in Barcelona] are very great. Above all, the following one: the Trotskyist-POUMists revealed themselves to the nation as people who belong totally to Franco’s fifth column. The people are nourishing unbelievable animosity toward the Trotskyists. The masses are demanding energetic and merciless repression. This is what is demanded by the masses of people of all of Spain, Catalonia, and Barcelona. They demand complete disarmament, arrest of the leaders, the creation of a special military tribunal for the Trotskyists! This is what the masses demand. (196-197)

In his discussion of this document on p. 176, Radosh wrote:

In other words, the call was out for the creation in Spain of the equivalent of the Moscow purge trials. . .

“In other words” (why not use the same words?) “the call was out for” can only mean one thing: Radosh assumes that our unnamed informant, writing to the Comintern in Moscow, is speaking for someone other than himself. But this assumption is invalid. This document does not mean that any “call is out.” So far as we know, it’s the opinion of the writer alone. After all, he’s reporting to the Comintern. If the PCE, or Soviet advisers, had “put out the call” for a Moscow-style purge trial, he would have said so, for why hide it to the Comintern? And if Stalin had expressed interest in a Spanish “purge trial,” surely this writer would have said so as well.

Document 44

32. Document 44 is a report to the Comintern sent to Marshal Voroshilov, Commissar (Minister) of Defense of the USSR and the man whose office oversaw military equipment and material aid for the Spanish Republic, by a certain “Goratsy,” whom Radosh, in another failure of his editorial responsibility, does not further identify. Radosh accuses the Comintern of lying to itself, in that it states the communist belief

that the “uprising” carried out by “the extremist wing [of the anarchists] in the block with the POUM” was prepared in advance over a “long period of time.” (177) [This refers to the “May Days” in Barcelona — GF].

33. A few considerations are in order:

1. How does Radosh know that this is false? He has not proven it.

Furthermore, Radosh has already claimed that, in Document 42, he has evidence that the Comintern itself planned the Barcelona uprising, whereas here the Comintern reporter blames the uprising on the Anarchists. Why would the Comintern lie to itself? If the Comintern had successfully provoked this confrontation, as Radosh claims, why wouldn’t they be gloating over their success? Instead, they blame it on the anarchists, even in private communications within the Comintern. (206)

2. The document itself claims that the uprising was unexpected by the Communists. Once again: if it had been not only expected, but in fact “provoked,” as Radosh would have it, why would this not be noted, with pride, as a successful operation?

Document 1

34. Here a Spanish Communist in Moscow is writing to the Communist Party in Spain.

Radosh: “. . . the imperative tone taken by Moscow made it clear that there was little room for argument or maneuver by the small and relatively powerless PCE . . . (1-2).

Doc. 1: “After considering the alarming situation in connection with the Fascist conspiracy in SPAIN, we advise you: — . . . Please let us know your opinions on our proposals.” (7,9; emphasis added)

Conclusion: This document is not “imperative” in tone. Radosh is simply trying to make “Moscow” appear dictatorial and high-handed. The text will not support that interpretation, so he simply puts it into his commentary.

35. I put “Moscow” in quotation marks because this message, while certainly sent from the city of Moscow, was sent by a Spanish Communist, “Dios Major,” who signed the document. Why doesn’t Radosh mention this, saying only that “Moscow” sent it? Perhaps because to say that one Spanish Communist is “advising” other Spanish Communists does not support the impression — which Radosh evidently wants to give — that the Bolsheviks, Stalin, the Politburo, or whatever “Moscow” usually conveys, was trying to say anything to anybody. It appears that through metonymy, a linguistic trope in which “Moscow” represents any Communist leader, anywhere, allows Radosh to reduce all Communist leaders to “Moscow,” and “Moscow” to “Stalin.” Demonize Stalin, then, and all Communist leadership is automatically demonized as well.

36. Radosh gives other invidious readings of Document 1, but is rather vague about it. I’ll mention only one more example.

37. Document 1 reads, in part:

4. It is necessary to take preventative measures with the greatest urgency against the putchist attempts of the anarchists, behind which the hand of the Fascists is hidden.

The worst one could say about this piece of analysis — given, we recall, by one Spanish Communist to others, all of whom had extensive experience with the Spanish anarchists and hated them just as the anarchists, in turn, hated the communists — is that it was rhetorical over-statement to say that “the hand of the Fascists is hidden behind” the anarchists’ attempts at seizing power.

38. But here is what Radosh himself says about the anarchists:

Throughout the conflict, Soviet and Comintern advisers would decry the ‘subversive’ activities of the anarchists, and particularly their refusal to curtail revolutionary activities or to allow the formation of a regular, disciplined army. (3, emphasis added)

Radosh admits that the anarchists took this attitude towards the army. Yet how could the Fascists — who certainly had “a regular, disciplined army” — ever be defeated unless the Republic had one too? Guerrilla warfare — what Mao Tse-tung and Vo Nguyen Giap later refined into the doctrine of “People’s War” — is very important. But no theoretician of guerrilla or people’s war ever suggested that a war could be won without “a regular, disciplined army.”

39. In refusing to form such an army the anarchists played directly into the hands of the Fascists. Yet even while admitting this, Radosh attacks the Communists for stating the obvious: that this played into the Fascists’ hands. Elsewhere, in passages Radosh does not comment on, the Communists expressed the view that Fascist agents chose to infiltrate the Anarchists precisely for this reason.

40. Radosh’s Commentary continues:

The demand to establish a single union also stemmed from a new understanding of how to construct a socialist state: not through open revolution, but through the absorption of independent unions or parties into a single entity controlled by the Communists.

Radosh gives no evidence to support this statement at all. He certainly can’t cite Document 1, the document he is supposedly elucidating, because in it Dios Mayor proposes that

the C.G.T. (U.) [the Communist-led union movement] ought to propose to C.N.T. [the Socialist-led union movement] the immediately construction in the center and locally of joint committees to fight against the Fascist insurgents and to prepare the unification of the syndicates.

. . . At the same time you must establish broad social legislation, with extensive rights reserved in the unified C.G.T. . . .

41. Dios Mayor is proposing that the Communists call for unified action and a unified trade union organization. Radosh suggests that there is something underhanded about calling for unification: the Communists want to “absorb independent unions into a single entity controlled by the Communists.” But there is no suggestion of this in the document itself. I would note also Radosh’s concept of “absorption” here is standard anticommunist rhetoric. Other parties might “win a political struggle” for leadership of an organization, but communists only “control” — never “lead” — and “absorb,” with connotations of “suffocation,” “snuffing out independence.” [3] 

42. One might say, “Well, Radosh hates Communism, so for Radosh the communists can never do anything right.” But it’s more than that. For Radosh, if a non-communist makes a good proposal — say, trade union unity — that is good; whereas when Communists do the same thing, it’s bad. That’s because, for Radosh, communists never do anything honestly; their “dishonesty” is a given.

43. The interesting thing is that Radosh, using the documents his collaborators have selected, cannot demonstrate “dishonesty” on the part of the communists. An honest researcher would consider the possibility that, if the evidence at hand did not suggest the communists were “dishonest,” it just may possibly be because the communists were not dishonest.

Document 79

44. Radosh confesses that the previous document, no. 78, “suggests that he [Negrín] enjoyed a degree of autonomy from Communist control” (497). Radosh further acknowledges that even some anti-communist scholars of the SCW believe Negrín was “a more independent figure.” Radosh stresses that Document 79, a report by Marchenko, a Soviet and a Comintern representative, to Litvinov (Soviet Foreign Minister) and Voroshilov,

. . . makes it clear that the Spaniard’s views of politics closely coincided with the Soviets’, while the similarities between his vision for postwar Spain and that of the Soviet Union are striking This document suggests that if the Republicans had won the Civil War, Spain would have been very different from the nation that existed before 18 July 1936 and very close to the post-World War II “people’s democracies” of Europe.

This is false. Document 79 itself reveals that Marchenko was not supportive at all of Negrín’s outline of what a post-war Spanish Republic might look like:

I reacted in a very reserved way to Negrín’s idea and drew his attention to the difficulties and complications that the organization of a new party would cause. . . . If there are military successes, he can begin the formation of “his” united-Spanish political party, with the participation of the Communists if they will allow it, and without the Communists (and that means against them) if they refuse. (499; emphasis added).

The post-WWII “people’s democracies” of Eastern Europe were (a) propped up by the presence of the Red Army; (b) directly on the borders of the USSR; and (c) governed by Communist Parties (or communist-socialist united parties) run frankly by pro-Soviet communists. Negrín’s conception of a post-war Spanish Republic is very different from the post-war pro-Soviet regimes of Eastern Europe, sharing no essential similarity with them at all. Yet the allegation that a post-war Republic would have been forced into the mould of the post-WWII Eastern European regimes is, supposedly, one of the major “discoveries” of this collection of documents. This document alone shows that this claim of Radosh’s is without foundation.

Document 62

45. This is an important report by Palmiro Togliatti, head Comintern representative in Spain, to Dimitrov in Moscow. It is of great interest, and Radosh can find nothing to say about it that is at all negative. He makes false statements about its contents, however.

46. For example, Radosh writes:

Togliatti’s reports of are special importance. It is clear that, unlike other apparatchiks, Togliatti was extremely candid and forthright in his observations. (370, emphasis added)

But Radosh gives not a single example of these “other apparatchiks,” supposedly not-candid and not-forthright. Since Togliatti was later the head of the Italian Communist Party and a major leader of the Comintern, it does not seem to have hurt his reputation to have been “extremely candid and forthright.”

47. Note, too, Radosh’s use of a Russian term for an official of the Italian Communist Party. Radosh would never refer to an official of the Spanish Socialist party as an “apparatchik.” The point here is to give the impression, by whatever means possible, that “Moscow” controls everything.

48. Radosh’s discussion of this report contains several outright lies, including one that is very blatant — always provided that one actually reads the document itself. Radosh states:

At the same time, in Catalonia, Togliatti called for a policy of reinforcing the moderation of the Popular Front, rather than demagogic appeals to a revolution-minded populace. If the anarchists tried to move toward open revolt and stage a coup, he advised one solution only: “We will finally do away with them.” (emphasis added)

Here is the passage (390):

As for the anarchists, on this question, in my opinion, we have not merely hesitated, but made absolutely real mistakes in our tactics [Togliatti is referring to methods of political struggle — GF.] On the role from Barcelona to Valencia, I posed the question to the comrades accompanying me. Their opinion was very simple: the anarchists have lost all influence, in Barcelona (!) there is not even one anarchist worker, we are waiting until they organize a second putsch, and we will finally do away with them [emphasis added].

So this attitude is not that of Togliatti, but of some “comrades.” Here is what Togliatti wrote about this attitude; this passage begins immediately after that above:

This opinion is very widespread in the party, in particular in Catalonia, and when we stick to such an idea, it is impossible to carry out a policy of rapprochement with the anarchist masses and differentiation of their leaders. (390; emphasis added)

Radosh attributed to Togliatti the very views that Togliatti cites in order to strongly oppose them!

49. Again, Radosh writes:

While publicly advocating attempts at cooperation with opposition anarchists, Togliatti noted that their leaders were “scum, closely tied to Caballero,” and had to be fought via “large-scale action from below.” (371)

It is clear from the context of p. 390 — see the emphasis in the quotation above — that the “large-scale action from below” that Togliatti hoped for was action by the “anarchist masses,” as he stated in the passage quoted above, which alone can lead to “differentiation of their leaders.” In other words, Togliatti proposed relying on a democratic plan — winning over the anarchist masses to replace or repudiate their own leadership. Communist authors show appreciation for the political instincts of the anarchist rank-and-file many times in these documents; it is the anarchist leadership they see as the stumbling blocks to effective unity against Franco.

50. In addition to Togliatti, another Soviet adviser, Antonov-Ovseenko comes across very well in these documents. Radosh seriously distorts Document 22. Antonov-Ovseenko wrote:

The PSUC repeatedly proposed to the government that weapons at the rear [i.e. in areas not involved in battle] be seized and put at the disposal of the government. (p. 80)

Radosh calls this “Communist attempts to seize all the weapons at the rear (and thus to disarm the anarchists)” (p. 71). In reality, the PSUC (the Unified Socialist Party) — not just the communists, who were only a part of the PSUC — was proposing that armed men should be at the front fighting the war, and that arms were needed at the front, not in the rear. Orwell himself complains time and again about the obsolete, broken, and useless arms available to his own unit at the front, and that even these arms were in short supply. If, as Radosh suggests here, the armed anarchists were all in the rear, what were they doing there? If armed communists had been “all in the rear,” would Radosh not think this sinister?

51. In Document 21 Antonov-Ovseenko quotes an informant, “X,” who told him that the anarchists were carrying out mass executions in Catalonia and that they had executed 40 priests.

X. told me . . . [t]hree days ago, the government seriously clashed with the anarchists: the CNT seized a priest. . . . The priest pointed out another 101 members of his order who had hidden themselves in different places. They [the anarchists] agreed to free all 102 men for three hundred thousand francs. All 102 appeared, but when the money had been handed over, the anarchists shot forty of them. (76-7; emphasis added).

52. Radosh does not condemn the anarchists at this point for shooting the priests. Nor does he suggest that this charge against the anarchists is false (p. 71). Imagine if the communists had been executing up to 50 people a day, as “X” told Antonov-Ovseenko — would Radosh have let this pass without criticism? Rather, such a document would have been featured as a major find, one of the most important documents in the book. Yet when anarchists are alleged to be committing mass murder, and Communists are opposed to it, Radosh scarcely mentions the matter, and certainly does not praise the Communists for stopping such massacres. This illustrates one of the central weaknesses in Radosh’s commentary: he is, in fact, not much interested in these documents except insofar as they can be used to show the communists as “bad.”

53. A strongly positive review of the Radosh book in First Things states baldly: “Although leftist atrocities against the Church, including the execution of thousands of nuns and priests, were widespread, they are nowhere mentioned in these documents.” In his rush to provide Radosh with another positive review, this anonymous reviewer in a right-wing, “pro-religion” journal clearly never read even Radosh’s own commentary, much less the documents themselves.

Document 46

54. This is a report by Dimitrov, head of the Comintern, to Marshal Voroshilov. Radosh makes many false statements about the contents of this 14-page report. For example, Radosh states that “the writer [of the report] came to the stunning conclusion that the war and revolution “cannot end successfully if the Communist party does not take power into its own hands.” (212). In fact, Dimitrov explicitly refuses to endorse the idea that the only way to victory is if the Communist party takes power.

The influence of the party is growing more and more among the masses, and chiefly among the soldiers; the conviction is growing among them that the war and the popular revolution cannot end successfully if the Communist party does not take power into its own hands. Who knows, that idea may indeed be correct. (232; emphasis added)

Arnold Beichman’s review makes the same inaccurate statement: “It is sad to read these Soviet archives and read the words of a Soviet agent to the Comintern’s Georgi Dimitrov: ‘The war cannot end successfully if the Communist Party does not take power in its own hands.'”

55. In fact, this is a very interesting statement, especially coming from Dimitrov, famous since the Seventh Comintern Congress in 1935 for championing the concept of the Communist International’s abandoning its independent advocacy of socialist revolution in order to make possible “united fronts” with all anti-fascist parties, as in Spain. The Spanish Communists, with the support of the Comintern, were struggling hard to make the United Front in Spain work. Here Dimitrov shows that he himself has doubts about it. The documents published in this volume could indeed provide much evidence for an argument that it was precisely the insistence on a United Front with the Spanish socialists and Anarchists that doomed the Republic. A competent commentary should have discussed this issue.

Document 70

56. This long report by General Walter (a Polish communist general whose real name was Karol Svershevsky) is of special interest since it includes the longest discussion of the International Brigades among the documents in this volume. These pages give Radosh a chance to slander not only the Soviets, but the members of the International Brigades as well, and he tries his best to do so by ignoring positive statements made about the Brigadistas in the documents at hand, while emphasizing the criticisms made about some of them.

57. Radosh begins with the following statement:

By early 1938, the international units were important to the Soviets and the Comintern only as a means of scoring points in the propaganda war and as bargaining chips in negotiations with the other great powers. (431)

Radosh continues immediately with the words, “Nowhere is this more clearly shown than in the series of documents that follow.” However, nowhere in these documents is the statement above documented in the least.

58. Walter shows admirable frankness in discussing both strengths and weaknesses within the Brigades. Radosh ignores the strengths and distorts Walter’s words about the weaknesses.

59. For example, Radosh generalizes Walter’s criticism of some Brigadistas, that they thought themselves superior to the Spanish, and implies Walter said it was true of all Brigadistas. (431)

In Sverchevsky’s words, they [the international soldiers] believed they had come to Spain to save it from the fascists. This viewpoint had led directly to their superior attitude toward the Spanish, whom they treated like second-class citizens. (431)

60. In reality, Walter’s remark is a general one, critical of an ideological attitude to be found in the Brigades (438). The words “second-class citizens” are never used. Rather, Walter’s incisive political criticism is directed towards a shallow understanding of internationalism among many Brigadistas, as illustrated in the following passage:

It seems to me that the fundamental reason for, and primary source of, our troubles lies, first and foremost, in a deeply rooted conviction which stubbornly refuses to die that we, the internationalists, are only “helping,” that we “save” and “are saving” Spain, which, they say, without us would not have escaped the fate of Abyssinia. This harmful theory prevents the German and Italian comrades from seeing the silhouettes of “Junkers” and “Fiats” in the fascist air force; they forget that here, on Spanish soil, they are fighting with arms in hand, that is, in the most effective and revolutionary way, first and foremost against their own enemy, which has already oppressed their own countries and peoples for many years. French “volunteers” do not always notice the direct connection between Franco, De la Roque, and Doriot; they forget . . . that their vital interests lie in preventing a fascist sentinel from looming on the last border, the Pyrenees. The Poles do not completely comprehend that every one of their victories here is a direct blow against the Pilsudski gang, which has turned their country into a prison for the people. . . . (438)

61. Walter is unsparingly frank in his criticisms of the shortcomings of the Brigades. His analysis appears to be a model of honest criticism, including much criticism of the performance of communists. But Walter’s report also contains the highest praise for the Brigades (for example, see the first three paragraphs, p. 436). Typically, Radosh’s commentary is utterly one-sided; he mentions many of Walter’s critical comments, but not a single one of the positive ones.

62. In his extremely positive review, Schwartz is more shameless yet in quoting some of Walter’s frank criticisms of the political problems in the Brigades as though they were characteristic. Radosh and Schwartz are of the same kidney; see Radosh’s praise of Schwartz on p. xxv.

Schwartz: “Anti-Semitism was a serious problem among these “progressive” fighters.”

Document 70: “It is true that even then there were more than enough petty squabbling and strong antagonisms in the international units. The francophobia was most transparently obvious . . . anti-Semitism flourished (and indeed it still has not been completely extinguished). . . . (448)

Schwartz: “Above all, the International Brigades possessed transport, food, and other supplies far in excess of their Spanish counterparts, with whom they resolutely refused to ‘share their wealth.'”

Document 70: “The English and American soldiers not long ago were smoking ‘Lucky Strikes,’ not paying attention to the Spanish fighters next to them, who had spent days looking for a few shreds of tobacco. The internationalists receive frequent packages from home but are very rarely willing to share them with their Spanish comrades.” (453)

Schwartz: “International Brigade officers accounted exactly for the numbers of foreigners killed and wounded in battle, but ‘never knew of the casualties of the Spanish personnel.'” [emphasis added]

Document 70: “Richard, the commander of the 11th Brigade, reporting on the casualties suffered by the brigade at Brunete and Saragossa, always gave the exact number of dead and wounded and frequently even the names of the internationalists. But he never knew the casualties of the Spanish personnel.” (454)

In this case, Schwartz transformed the behavior of one commander, in one battle — behavior that the Communist general Walter was holding up for criticism — as typical of “International Brigade officers” generally. (Schwartz gives no page numbers, so verifying his dishonest quotations is a tedious job.)

63. Neither Radosh nor Schwartz put Walter’s criticisms of the Brigades into context. But Walter does. In addition to high praise for the International Brigades’ heroism and importance in the war (see pp. 436 and 459) Walter explains the difficult problems of overcoming national chauvinism, racism and distrust among nationalities:

The International Brigades and units were created literally within the course of one or two days from those volunteers who were on hand at the time . . . there were subunits that contains dozens of nationalities all of these were people who were absolutely unacquainted, not accustomed to one another, and right off found themselves in a battle. If you add to this the extremely acute shortage of political workers, the lack of qualified military cadres, and a whole number of other needs, then the weaknesses and the solution to this problem (adequate at that time) are not surprising. (448)

Schwartz: “According to Walter, the International Brigades, inspired by slogans of worldwide unity against Fascism, were plagued by a ‘petty, disgusting, foul squabble about the superiority of one nationality over another. . . . Everyone was superior to the French, but even they were superior to the Spanish, who were receiving our aid and allowing us to fight against our own national and class enemies on their soil.'”

Immediately preceding the passage quoted by Schwartz (449) occurs the following passage (Document 70):

The great, very exalted, and revolutionary objective, armed struggle with fascism, united everyone, and for its sake Germans, Italians, Poles, Jews, and representatives of the world’s numerous nationalities, including blacks, Japanese, and Chinese, had to agree among themselves, found a common language, suffered the same adversities, sacrificed their lives, died heroes, and were filled with the very same hatred for the common enemy.

But at the very same time as the volunteers were unifying, this petty, disgusting, foul squabble about the superiority of one nationality over another was going on. . . .” (448-9)

64. At a time when every army in the world except communist-led armies were organized along officially racist lines (and some, like the Israeli army, are officially racist even today), this struggle for internationalism inspired millions around the world. Yet the venomous Schwartz sees the racist attitudes among Brigadistas as “the most shocking element of the picture, especially for those who for sixty years have witnessed the Lincoln veterans preening themselves for their antifascist virtue” (emphasis added). The International Brigades set a standard for anti-racism and internationalism that has never been equaled before or since. Schwartz’s insult is simply a measure of his contempt for such values.

Conclusion: Why Lie If You Have the Truth On Your Side?

65. The flagrant inadequacy of Radosh’s discussion of these very important and fascinating documents itself would fatally mar any work with scholarly pretensions. But there is a deeper problem with Radosh’s work. It is not merely that Radosh fails to comment accurately on the documents he publishes (Habeck did most of the translations; Sevostianov did the archival work in Moscow). More than that: Radosh actually lies, time and again, about the contents of documents which readers can study themselves a few pages after his commentary.

66. Radosh is one of a small number of former Communist Party members who, once they realized that the Soviet-led world Communist movement no longer championed an egalitarian, non-exploitative world and was not the answer to human liberation, simply decided that the other side must, therefore, have been right all along and became uncritical supporters of American capitalism and imperialism. Anyone familiar with Radosh’s history — any reader of his autobiography, Commies and the many reviews of it — might expect to find a lot of anti-communist prejudice — for example, giving a document the most anti-communist possible interpretation whenever there was any ambiguity.

67. But even a wary reader would also expect at least a couple of real “revelations” of communist deviousness, dishonesty, double-dealing, some kind of “betrayal” — something that would at least partially substantiate the claims of Radosh, and of those who reviewed his book positively. Even the wary reader would be unprepared for the extent of Radosh’s dishonesty. Not a single of Radosh’s allegations of Comintern or Soviet trechery is born out by the documents he himself publishes and comments on.

68. Is Radosh deliberately lying about the documents on which he’s commenting? Is he hoping that his only readers will be like-mindedly anti-communist drones that will simply take his word at face value? Or that those who notice his mendacity will be ignored or marginalized? Some of the distortions in the commentary are so blatant that one cannot account for them in any other way.

69. Yet I think that dishonesty and incompetence cannot provide the whole answer. On a deeper level, Radosh’s anti-communism, and specifically his allegiance to the demonization of Stalin, seems to produce a kind of tunnel vision that imposes a systematic distortion on everything he sees or reads.

70. Radosh mentions the name of Stalin dozens of times, although none of his documents were written by Stalin or are under his name, and only a few were sent to him. For Radosh, the word “Stalin” no longer denotes an individual, but is a synecdochal signifier for — depending on the circumstance — the Comintern, the Soviet political leadership, or even any Communist, anywhere. Like a kind of mirror-image of the “cult of personality” that existed from about 1930 until Stalin’s death in 1953, Radosh too attributes all the initiative and agency of all communists to Stalin alone. A more radical reductionism can scarcely be imagined, and is all the more noteworthy since Radosh seems entirely oblivious to his own practice here. It never occurs to him to justify it theoretically, historically, or in any way at all.

71. This ideological distortion is more serious because more pervasive. Many who think of themselves as “liberal” or even “left” share with Radosh a kind of reflexive assumption that, whenever “Stalin” — read, the Comintern — seems to have been acting according to its professed motives of supporting the exploited and oppressed around the world, it must really have been acting out of selfish motives which, if not obvious, are simply cleverly disguised. [4] 

72. I hope that readers of this review will be inspired to read Radosh’s book and see for themselves. In view, however, of the inaccurate and misleading nature of Radosh’s commentary there is only one way to read this book:

First, ignore Radosh’s commentary entirely. Read the documents themselves, and only them, very carefully.

Only after doing that should you read Radosh’s commentary. But every time Radosh makes any kind of assertion about any document, go to that document, find the relevant passage, and note what the document really says.

Often this is not easy to do. Radosh does not include page numbers to the passages of the documents when he gives his comments or summaries. Often he will write things like “As we have seen . . .” ( p. 502); “Nowhere is this more clearly shown than in the series of documents that follow . . .” (p. 431); “The documentary evidence, as we have shown . . .” (p. 372). Here the job of finding the passage in question can take quite a long time. It’s always worth taking the time, though, because what one usually discovers is that that NO previous document has shown anything of the kind.

73. Radosh reminds us that one of the main stumbling blocks for Marxists is the figure of Stalin. Stalin has been demonized — by Trotsky and those who have relied on Trotsky; by some Soviet émigrés, also imitators of Trotsky, in the main; and by Khrushchev and those who have been accustomed to believe that Khrushchev’s so-called “revelations” about Stalin were true. As Robert Thurston has written, the demonized “Stalin” is “a powerful cultural construct in scholarship, film, popular works, etc. The difficulty is to try to get past that construction as best we can.” (Thurston, 2000). Radosh has not even tried.

74. As Roger Pethybridge, a well-known British Sovietologist, commented long ago:

If one considers all the well-known biographies of Stalin, a common feature emerges: the volumes are a quite accurate reflection of biographical method current at the end of the nineteenth and the beginning of the twentieth centuries, when historical biographies dwelt on so-called “good” and “bad” kings. The personality who reigned appeared to dominate not only the political but the social and economic life of his kingdom, so that by a sneeze or a yawn he could magically change the whole socioeconomic pattern of his reign. This method of historical biography has long been discounted in the treatment of authoritarian rule in earlier history. It has also been discarded with regard to the study of Nazi Germany. Unfortunately, it still remains as a specter from the past in the study of Soviet personalities in high politics. (Pethybridge, 1976).

75. Since the end of the Soviet Union, many formerly secret Comintern and Bolshevik documents have been published, with more coming out all the time. Like the Comintern documents in Radosh’s book, most of them contradict the widely-propagated, and widely-believed, horror stories about the history of the Communist movement during the Stalin years. [5] 

76. It’s up to us all of us who recognize the desperate need for a truly classless, egalitarian society to learn from the successes and failures of our predecessors, including, especially, the Bolsheviks during the time of Stalin’s leadership. But in order to do this, we must first convince ourselves that we do not already know these things.

77. For example, many of the Comintern documents in this collection support the suggestion made by some on the Left that the United Front Against Fascism was doomed from the outset, even as a tactic in fighting fascism. [6]  For no matter how devotedly the communists supported only bourgeois democratic goals, many capitalist forces refused to co-operate with them, in effect preferring to risk a fascist victory rather than take their chances in a liberal capitalist state with a strongly organized working class and peasantry under communist leadership. The subsequent fate of the communist parties of Western Europe and the USA after World War II, who were viciously attacked by the capitalists despite their adherence to a reform-oriented, non-revolutionary program, further suggests that the united front strategy was wishful thinking.

78. That is, we have to be ready and willing to question the Cold-War, Trotskyist, and Khrushchevite versions of this history, and “do it all again,” so we can actually begin to understand what really happened. [7] 

79. If that’s what we’re about — and I think we should be — then Radosh’s book can help us, by reminding us not to be like him.

Reviews used in this essay 

Beichman, Arnold. “Deceit in the Spanish Civil War.” The Washington Times, Op-Ed, July 17, 2001, p. A21.

Bernstein, Richard. “Aiding Dictatorship, Not Democracy.” The New York Times, July 23, 2001. Cited at <http://www.nytimes.com/2001/07/23/books/23BERN.html>.

Review of Spain Betrayed in First Things 116 (October 2001). Cited at <http://www.firstthings.com/ftissues/ft0110/reviews/briefly.html#spain>

Hitchens, Christopher. “Who Lost Spain?” Wilson Quarterly, Summer 2001. Cited at <http://wwics.si.edu/OUTREACH/WQ/WQCURR/WQBKPER/BOOK-1.HTM>

———, “The Unfolded Lie.” Los Angeles Times, July 15, 2001. Cited at <http://www.calendarlive.com/top/1,1419,L-LATimes-Books-X!ArticleDetail-38407,00.html>

Schwartz, Steven. “The Red and the Black. The end of the myth of the Spanish Civil War.” Weekly Standard, July 16, 2001. Cited at <http://www.weeklystandard.com/magazine/mag_6_41_01/schwartz_bkart_6_41_01.asp>

Other materials

Graham, Helen. “‘Against the State’: A Genealogy of the Barcelona May Days (1937).” European History Quarterly 29(4), 485-542.

Pethybridge, Roger. 1976. Review of Ronald Hingley, Joseph Stalin: Man and Legend (New York, 1974), in Slavic Review 35 (March 1976): 136.

Thurston, Robert W. Post to H-RUSSIA list, August 24, 2000.

Notes

1 There is absolutely no question that Radosh is lying in some places — e.g., in Document 62 where, as I discuss in the text, he attributes to Togliatti the views that, in the document itself, which any reader can study a few pages later, Togliatti explicitly criticizes. Radosh does this kind of thing many times.

The book is also an example of incompetence. Radosh simply does a poor job at what a commentator should do: summarizing the documents, isolating the most important aspects of them, putting them into an overall historical context, and so on.

These kind of faults should have been red flags to any editor. But there is a long history of anti-communist works getting published even though filled with errors that would doom any other kind of research.

The uncritical praise of so many reviewers suggests that one purpose of Radosh’s book is to influence those who will not read it carefully. Perhaps someone made the estimation that few people will read such a book anyway, and most of those who do will probably rely on the commentary, rather than study the documents themselves. Again, this is no excuse for the kind of mendacity displayed in Spain Betrayed, but rather a grasping after some kind of explanation for so poor a work.

Finally, the book is a failure. Radosh had boasted for years — in some ways, since the ’80s, when he began publishing stuff about the Spanish Civil War, but explicitly since he began working on this book — that it would “prove” the USSR (“Stalin”) betrayed Spain. In the event it not only fails to “prove” any betrayal; it fails to come up with a single example of anything devious, dishonest, anything at all to make the communist side or the USSR specifically look bad.

2 Radosh betrays his ignorance of Soviet history. “Purge trials” is a term no longer used even by anti-communist Sovietologists. The chistki, or “purges,” were expulsion of Communist Party members for many reasons, most commonly drunkenness, neglect of duty, etc., though sometimes for political deviations. They were completely separate from the three famous Moscow Trials of 1936-8, of persons who confessed to plotting to overthrow the Soviet government. The best, and classic discussion of this is J. Arch Getty, Origins of the great purges: the Soviet Communist Party reconsidered, 1933-1938. Cambridge [Cambridgeshire]; New York: Cambridge University Press, 1985.

3 See the excellent typology of anti-communist rhetoric in James R. Prickett, “Anti-Communism and Labor History,” Industrial Relations 13 (October, 1974), 219-227.”

4 For example, Stalin stated that “The cause of Spain is the cause of all humanity.” The USSR sent huge amounts of aid, in materiel and men, to the Republic both itself and through the Comintern, much of which was not, in fact, repaid. Yet Cary Nelson, a staunch supporter of the American veterans of the Spanish Civil War and a prominent left-liberal, still feels compelled to explain Soviet aid in this way: “Stalin’s motivations, no doubt, were pragmatic. He probably hoped, for example, to use an alliance to help the Spanish Republic as a way of building a general antifascist alliance with the Western democracies.” (“The Spanish Civil War: An Overview,” accessed at <http://www.english.uiuc.edu/maps/scw/overview.htm> on 20 February 2003). “Pragmatic” in this context explains nothing; the Soviets knew very well that the antifascist alliance they aimed at was jeopardized by their aid to the Republic, but did it anyway. For Nelson, the International Brigade volunteers can, and did, have idealistic motives, but Stalin cannot, even though the whole effort could hardly have taken place without his strong support at every step.

5 For example, the interrogations and confessions by such major figures as NKVD chief Genrikh Yagoda and Marshal Mikhail Tukhachevsky have been published, making it clear that the accusations leveled against them by the Soviet government in the late ’30s were substantially accurate. There is also some additional evidence of Leon Trotsky’s contacts with oppositionists in the USSR who were plotting the overthrow of the government, as well as the first evidence of Trotsky’s contact with the Japanese fascist government, both central claims of the Communist movement in the ’30s but both strongly denied by Trotsky’s followers.

6 See, for example, “Lessons of People’s War in Spain 1936-1939,” Progressive Labor, Vol. 9, No. 5 (Oct.-Nov. 1974), 106-116, cited at <http://www.plp.org/pl_magazine/pws.html> (February 22, 2003). For more on a left critique of the consequences of the Popular Front strategy upon the world communist movement, see “Road to Revolution III: The Continuing Struggle Against Revisionism” (1970), at <http://www.plp.org/pl_magazine/rr3.html#RTFToC5>.

7 J. Arch Getty, the dean of the younger generations of American historians of the USSR, is quoted by the prominent (and very anti-communist) Russian historian Yuri Zhukov as having said Soviet history is poisoned by Cold War “propaganda,” and has to be done all over again. See Aleksandr Sabov, “Zhupel Stalina” (“Stalin’s Boogeyman”), Komsomolskaya Pravda, Nov. 5, 2001.

Contents copyright © 2003 by Grover Furr.

Format copyright © 2003 by Cultural Logic, ISSN 1097-3087.

Source

The Contribution of J.V. Stalin to Marxism-Leninism

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M.B. Mitin
M.D. Kammari
G.F. Aleksandrov

… The theoretical works of Comrade Stalin and the practical revolutionary-creative struggle for communism led by him has had a powerful transforming influence on science. Already the foundation of Marxism itself was a great revolution in science, and in our epoch the teachings of Marx and Engels, raised by Lenin and Stalin to a new, higher level, have become the scientific basis for the transformation of social relations, technology and nature itself.

Joseph Vissarionovich Stalin — the continuator of the immortal work of Marx and Engels, the friend and companion-in-arms of Vladimir Ilyich Lenin and continuator of his works of genius — is the greatest thinker of our modern epoch, a treasure of Marxist-Leninist science. He has enriched and developed materialist dialectics — a powerful means for the scientific understanding of social sciences, he has greatly and fruitfully influenced the development of natural sciences.

The Academy of Science of the USSR marked the occasion of the 70th anniversary of the birth of Comrade Stalin with a large series of sessions of its General Council and all its sections and scientific councils of numerous institutes. In a number of lectures, in an atmosphere of general enthusiasm, the great contributions of Comrade Stalin to the development and continuation of Marxism-Leninism and the creation of a new Soviet science and technology were summarized.

On December 26, 1949, representatives of historical and philosophical disciplines filled the conference hall of the Section of History and Philosophy, the hall in which 20 years ago Comrade Stalin gave a magnificent talk to the conference of Marxist agricultural workers that enriched the treasure of Marxism-Leninism. The sessions held were part of the sessions of the Academy of Sciences devoted to the seventieth anniversary of the birthday of the beloved leader.

Eminent Soviet scientists take their places at the presidium.

For the talk on the topic “J.V. Stalin — of Marxist-Leninist Science” the podium is given to Academician M.B. Mitin.

J.V. Stalin, loyal follower of Lenin, continuator of his cause, made an invaluable contribution to the development of Leninism — the speaker says. During an earlier period of the political activity of Comrade Stalin, at the time of his stay in the Caucasus, he already showed himself to be the most stalwart and consistent follower of Lenin. Already during these years, the speaker emphasized, Comrade Stalin created a number of original works of Marxist-Leninist theory, that represented by themselves a serious contribution to Leninism. In the Leninist spirit he approached questions of ideology, tactics, organization, the theoretical and practical training of the Bolshevik party.

The significance of the theoretical works of J.V. Stalin is great. He generalized all the ideological inheritance of V.I. Lenin, gave the theoretical substantiation of Leninism. Comrade Stalin gave the classical definition of Leninism: “Leninism — he wrote — is Marxism of the era of imperialism and the proletarian revolution. To be more exact, Leninism is the theory and tactics of the proletarian revolution in general, the theory and tactics of the dictatorship of the proletariat in particular” (J.V. Stalin Problems of Leninism, Foreign Languages Press, Peking 1976, p. 3 [The Foundations of Leninism].)

In this definition Comrade Stalin emphasizes the continuous unity, integrity and progression of the teachings of Marks and Lenin. He pointed that the basis of Leninism is Marxism, that without understanding and beginning from Marxism there is no way to understand Leninism. In this way, Comrade Stalin drew attention to what is new that is connected with the name of Lenin, what Lenin contributed to the development of Marxist theory on the basis of the generalization of the new experience in the class struggle of the proletariat in the epoch of imperialism and proletarian revolution.

Comrade Stalin always emphasizes that the theoretical basis of Leninism is Marxism. It is known that relatively recently there was an attempt in our philosophical literature to “complete” this statement of J.V. Stalin with the consideration that, along with Marxism, Leninism is based on the Russian classical revolutionary-democratic philosophy of the 19th century.

No doubt the significance of the classical philosophical thinking of the19th century is great as the most advanced and most revolutionary thinking of the pre-Marxist period. However, it is completely wrong to consider Russian classical philosophy as the theoretical basis of Leninism along with Marxism. Leninism, as pointed out repeatedly by Comrade Stalin, has one theoretical basis, and this basis is Marxism.

The work of Comrade Stalin The Foundations of Leninism written in 1924, right after the death of Lenin — is an outstanding creative development of Marxist-Leninist science. A powerful force of theoretical generalization, of deep knowledge of history, runs through this whole work, there is the complete recognition of the treasure of ideas of Lenin — all this characterized the role of V.I. Lenin as the creator of Leninism, as the continuator of Marxism for a new historic era. The work of Comrade Stalin The Foundations of Leninism and a number of other works of J.V. Stalin (The October Revolution and the Tactics of the Russian Communists, Concerning Questions of Leninism, The Results of the Work the XIV Conference of the R.C.P.(B.), Questions and Answers and others) as a whole formed a united work on the question of Leninism.

Comrade Stalin showed the international significance of Leninism. He exposed sharply and straight-forwardly the attempts to distort Leninism, that attempted to restrict Leninism to the peculiar situation of Russia, that attempted to turn Leninism into a “purely Russian” phenomenon.

Comrade Stalin showed that the main thing in Leninism consists of the teachings on the dictatorship of the proletariat, that all other constituent parts of Leninism: the peasant question, the national question, the teachings on strategy and tactics… should be approached as a consequence of this main essence to which they are organically linked. In this way, Comrade Stalin emphasized the truly militant, revolutionary character of Leninism, which fights for the liquidation of capitalism and the establishment of the dictatorship of the proletariat, the construction of a new society.

Comrade Stalin shows with a tremendous convincing force that Marxist theory is the guide to action, that thanks to Lenin the Bolshevik party possessed a great weapon, with which it could seize the most inaccessible fortress.

Lenin died in 1924. All the burdens due to the solution of the historical task of the construction of socialism in our country was carried out by Comrade Stalin. Under his leadership a gigantic transformation was accomplished that had no precedent in history and that radically changed the face of the country.

The epoch of Stalin is the epoch of the victory of socialism in one-sixth of the earth and the step-by-step transition from socialism to communism in the USSR. The international-historical significance of this victory is invaluable. The USSR was the first to pave the way towards socialism. The inexhaustible experience of the construction of socialism in the USSR is an example for all countries, for all fraternal communist parties.

Comrade Stalin creatively developed Leninism for this new epoch, showed the laws of this epoch, gave an answer to most complicated questions posed by revolutionary practice. Comrade Stalin enriched Marxist-Leninist theory with new statements and new directives corresponding to the new experience in the class struggle of the working class in the USSR and the whole world. What J.V. Stalin contributed to Marxist teachings is a new, higher stage in the development of Leninism. J.V. Stalin is a theorist of victorious socialism, the founder of the scientific theory of socialist society.

The victory of socialism in the USSR resulted in the creation of a new social-economic formation. The new social and state formation that has been created, developed and strengthened, displays social features specific only to this formation. Socialism has become part of the everyday life of millions of toilers. New social relations among people have emerged. The relations of production, i.e. the relations among people engaged in the social process of production, are built on the basis of the comradely co-operation and socialist mutual assistance. A new man of the socialist epoch has been formed.

J.V. Stalin made an all-sided analysis of the socialist mode of production, which is a superior mode of production to capitalism. He made the analysis of the radical difference between socialism and capitalism, the characteristics of the superiority of this mode of production as a higher stage, a more progressive social system that any former one, as a higher type of social organization of labor. J.V. Stalin thoroughly investigated the laws of this new formation.

Following V.I. Lenin’s indications, Comrade Stalin developed a rigorous, scientific, theoretical and practical program for the socialist industrialization of our country. The socialist method of industrialization, he pointed out, is radically different from methods of industrialization in capitalist countries. Capitalist countries accomplished their industrialization by a ruthless exploitation of the toilers, the plundering of colonies, by means of conquests, plundering, burdensome loans. Capitalist industrialization resulted in the impoverishment of the toiling masses, the enlarging of the reserve army of labor and the formation of a huge mass of unemployed. It resulted in the sharpening of the economic crisis of capitalism, in mass misery and suffering for the toiling masses. The Soviet method of industrialization is based on the domination of social property over the instruments and means of production, on the internal sources of socialist accumulation for the development of industry. Following V.I. Lenin’s considerations, Comrade Stalin worked out in theory and put into effect in practice a rigorous plan for the collectivization of agriculture. This was one of the most complicated tasks of the socialist revolution; nevertheless Soviet power successfully accomplished this task. As a result, in the Soviet village a revolution occurred whose significance, as pointed out by Comrade Stalin, can be compared to that of the October 1917 Revolution. Comrade Stalin created the theory of the collectivization of the countryside, he is the founder of the kolkhoz system.

On the basis of the collectivization of the countryside the former exploiting class in our country — the kulaks — were liquidated. All these social changes produced the conditions for the victory of socialism in all spheres of the economy of the USSR.

The victory of socialism in our country was established from the legal point of view with the adoption of the Constitution of the USSR of 1936. The Soviet Union entered a new period of development. Then de facto the question of the construction of communism was raised, the step-by-step transition from socialism to communism. In connection with the victory of socialism in the USSR new aspects and features of the new social formation were brought out. J.V. Stalin’s historical contribution is based on the discovery of the laws of socialist society, on the deep theoretical generalization of this new epoch, on the concretization and development of Leninism on the question of the state, classes, labor, the driving forces, nations in socialism and communism.

In the Report to the XVIII Congress of the C.P.S.U.(B.) (March 1939) on the question of the state, Comrade Stalin stated: “We cannot expect the Marxist classics, separated as they were from our day by a period of 45 or 55 years, to have foreseen each and every zigzag of history in the distant future and in every separate country. It would be ridiculous to expect the Marxist classics to have elaborated for our benefit ready-made solutions for each and every theoretical problem that might arise in a particular country 50 or 100 years afterwards, so that we, the descendants of the Marxist classics, might calmly doze at the fireside and munch ready-made solutions.” (J.V. Stalin, Problems of Leninism, Foreign Languages Press, Peking 1976, p. 931.)

Stalin’s statements regarding the possibility of the construction of communism in our country, regarding the preservation of the state in the period of communism in the case of capitalist encirclement, enriched Leninism with a new theoretical weapon, they gave to the Bolshevik party, to the working class, to all toilers of the Soviet country a great perspective, clarity of goals and inspired new achievements. They clarified with a powerful driving force, the subsequent development of the Soviet country, towards the heights of the new social formation. Comrade Stalin continued the work of Lenin on the question of the state which the latter could not conclude due to his early death.

J.V. Stalin first of all developed the complete characteristics of the classes of socialist society in the USSR. The essence of his explanations of the class content of socialist society may be summarized as follows:

a) The consolidation of socialism in the USSR implied the complete liquidation of all exploiting classes and strata in our country.

b) The victory of the October Revolution and the consolidation of socialism in the USSR resulted in a change in the social nature of the working class, peasantry and intelligentsia.

The social groups in Soviet society experienced radical changes: “…the working class of the USSR is an entirely new working class, a working class emancipated from exploitation, the like of which the history of mankind has never known before” (ibid., p. 801 [On the Draft Constitution of the U.S.S.R.]). Also “… the Soviet peasantry is an entirely new peasantry, the like of which the history of mankind has never known before” (ibid., p. 802).

c) Soviet socialist society consist of two classes — workers and peasants; the intelligentsia is a social stratum but not a separate class; the workers, peasants and laboring intelligentsia have equal rights in all spheres of the economic, political, social and cultural life of the country.

d) In the future, when all class differences will be overcome, the workers, peasants and intelligentsia will become the laborers of the communist society. In this way, on the basis of the generalization of the experience of Soviet socialist society, J.V. Stalin established that under socialism, as the first phase of communism, classes still exist, certain class differences among them are still preserved, that these classes have a new, socialist nature, but that only in the highest stage of communism will these class differences disappear.

These theoretical considerations were embodied in the Constitution of the USSR; they are a step forward in the development of the theory of Leninism, they enrich Leninism with new theoretical values. The existence of two classes under socialism, the existence of substantial class differences between them, are based on the existence under socialism of two forms of socialist property. Formerly it was more or less accepted that under socialism just one form of property would exist based on the socialized instruments and means of production. This question could not be posed in a more definite way since the required conditions did not exist. J.V. Stalin developed and concretized the teachings of Marx, Engels and Lenin on socialism, established that under socialist property may exist in two forms: the form of the consistently-socialist, state property, which is the whole people’s property, and in the form of cooperative-kolkhoz property, the property of the collective producers.

The thesis of the two forms of socialist property under socialism was substantiated by Comrade Stalin. He elaborated the question of the socialist nature of the kolkhozes, the question of the forms of development and consolidation of the kolkhoz. All these form an eminent contribution to Marxist-Leninist science, which make it possible to expound the laws of development of socialist society.

J.V. Stalin concretized the Leninist teaching on the question of work under socialism and communism. Regarding this question, the main thesis could be summarized as follows:

1. Socialism and work cannot be isolated from each other; the socialist formation is first of all a formation that has no loafers or parasites, where the famous Leninist thesis: “he who does not work, neither shall he eat,” that work is an obligation of all toilers, were put into effect. “Socialism — said Comrade Stalin – does not in the least repudiate work. On the contrary, socialism is based on work. Socialism and work are inseparable from each other.” (J.V. Stalin, Problems of Leninism, p. 663. [Speech Delivered at the First All-Union Congress of Collective-Farm Shock Brigaders.])

2. Under socialism work becomes an affair of popular honor and glory, it has a directly social character: the worker is honored, is a sort of social figure, society pays attention to him and he receives from society a great moral and material reward for work well-done.

3. Developing the famous consideration of Marx, Engels and Lenin on the question of socialism and communism, Comrade Stalin gave the following definition of these two stages of the new social formation. He pointed out that by equality Marxism understands:

“…c) the equal duty of all to work according to their ability, and the equal right of all working people to receive in return for this according to the work performed (socialist society); d) the equal duty of all to work according to their ability, and the equal right of all working people to receive in return for this according to their needs (communist society). Moreover, Marxism proceeds from the assumption that people’s tastes and requirements are not, and cannot be, identical and equal in regard to quality or quantity, whether in the period of socialism or in the period of communism.” (J.V. Stalin, Problems of Leninism, p. 741-742. [Report to the XVIIth Party Congress.])

The positions of Comrade Stalin are a development of the Marxist-Leninist teachings on socialism and communism. We have here a more concrete formulation of the main principles of socialism and communism based on the practical experience of the construction of socialism in the USSR.

J.V. Stalin, developing the Leninist ideas on socialism, and based on the victorious construction and consolidation of socialism in the USSR, discovered the new driving forces of socialist society that were unknown before and were absent in previous social-economic formations, namely: the moral-patriotic unity of the peoples of the USSR, Soviet patriotism.

Comrade Stalin discovered the driving forces of the development of the socialist society, which is a discovery of fundamental significance for Marxist-Leninist science. Comrade Stalin brought out new forms of social development, new stimulation for the development of socialist society. J.V. Stalin also discovered the special role played by self-criticism in the development of the Soviet country. Comrade Stalin’s positions are well-known, that we need self-criticism as much as we need air and water.

The all-sided explanation of the significance of self-criticism, its tremendous role, the extent to which the party requires self-criticism as a means of proper leadership of the country, its significance as an objective law in the development of the socialist society — these are all serious steps forward in the development of the Marxist-Leninist teachings of socialism.

In the works of Marx and Engels the national question is considered in the era of pre-monopoly capitalism. The national-liberation movement was studied in a number of countries: Ireland, Poland, Hungary, India and China.

Lenin, based on the main ideas of Marx and Engels, developed the views of the founders of Marxism with regard to the national question, created the teaching of the national question in the era of imperialism and proletarian revolution. Lenin substantiated and proved that the national question is a part of the general question of the proletarian revolution, of the question of the dictatorship of the proletariat.

Lenin created a solid system of views on the question of the national-colonial revolutions in the era of imperialism. He linked up the national-colonial question with the question of the overthrow of imperialism.

The contribution of Stalin in the subsequent development of the Marxist-Leninist teachings on the national question is specially great. J.V. Stalin is the creator of the theory and the Bolshevik program of the national question. J.V. Stalin elaborated the Marxist theory of nations, the question of the origin of the nation, the peculiarities of the development of nations in Western Europe and in the East. He formulated the basics of the Bolshevik approach to the solution of the national question, substantiated the Bolshevik principle of the international unity of the workers.

By developing the theory of socialist society, the basis of the teachings of the Soviet socialist state, Comrade Stalin produced a scientific substantiation of the main problems and questions connected with the construction of the multinational Soviet state. The Soviet Union is for the whole world an example of brotherhood of peoples never before seen in history. The friendship of the peoples of the Soviet country has become one of the sources of the strength of our state, one of the sources of Soviet patriotism.

In the report delivered on the 27th anniversary of the Great October Socialist Revolution, Comrade Stalin gave the classical definition of the essence and strength of Soviet patriotism: “The strength of Soviet patriotism — said Comrade Stalin — lies in the fact that it is based not on racial or nationalist prejudices, but on the people’s profound loyalty and devotion to their Soviet Motherland, on the fraternal partnership of the working people of all the nationalities in our country. Soviet patriotism harmoniously combines the national traditions of the peoples and the common vital interests of all the working people of the Soviet Union.” (J.V. Stalin, On the Great Patriotic War of the Soviet Union [also in Works, Red Star Press, London, 1984, Vol. 15, p. 422-423].)

J.V. Stalin further developed the Leninist theory of the national question with respect to Soviet socialist society. He elaborated a very relevant thesis that determines the development of the culture of the peoples of the USSR. This thesis reads: the development of the culture of the peoples of the USSR is national in form but socialist in content.

Comrade Stalin points out that the slogan of national culture was a bourgeois slogan as long as power remained in the hands of the bourgeoisie, and the consolidation of the nation took place under the leadership of the bourgeoisie. The slogan of national culture, national in form and socialist in content, became a proletarian slogan when the proletariat achieved power, and the consolidation of the nation began to develop under Soviet power. “In point of fact – wrote Comrade Stalin – the period of the dictatorship of the proletariat and of the building of socialism in the U.S.S.R. is a period of the flowering of national cultures that are socialist in content and national in form; for, under the Soviet system, the nations themselves are not the ordinary ‘modern’ nations, but socialist nations, just as in content their national cultures are not the ordinary bourgeois cultures, but socialist cultures.” (J.V. Stalin, Works, Vol. 12, p. 379. [Report to the XVI Congress of the C.P.S.U.(B.)])

This thesis has a fundamental significance and determined a whole program for the practical work in our national republics, a program based on solid ground.

In his article “The National Question and Leninism” (1929) and in the Political Report to the XVI Congress of the Party (1930) J.V. Stalin put forward new and most important positions about bourgeois nations and socialist nations. Formerly socialism was conceived in a very general manner, as the system that leads to the abolition of the nation. J.V. Stalin showed that socialism does not lead to the abolition of nations, but only to the abolition of bourgeois nations. He showed that based on the ruins of the old, bourgeois nations appear new, socialist nations that are far more solid and stable than any bourgeois nation, since they are free from antagonistic class contradictions. The statement of J.V. Stalin that in history there exist two types of nations – bourgeois and socialist, that bourgeois nations are linked to the fate of capitalism and that they should disappear with the collapse of capitalism, while the appearance of socialism leads to the creation on the basis of the old nations of new, socialist nations – these statements are a new, great contribution to the development of the Marxist-Leninist teachings on the national question, to the development of the teaching on socialism.

The huge and inexhaustible experience of the development of the Soviet multinational state, the development of Soviet nations was scientifically generalized by J.V. Stalin. What was given by him in the course of the elaboration of the question of bourgeois and socialist nations – is a new page in the Marxist-Leninist theory of the national question. In this respect J.V. Stalin also studied the question of the future of nations and national languages.

J.V. Stalin, a great representative of creative Marxism, is a continuator of the best qualities, features and traditions of V.I. Lenin. As is well known, from his very earliest works Lenin never failed to emphasize that a real Marxist should be able to take account of real life. Lenin reiterated many times the famous thesis of Marx and Engels, that “our teaching is not a dogma but a guide to action.”

J.V. Stalin developed further, elevated to a new, higher stage the teaching of dialectical and historical materialism. His work “Dialectical and Historical Materialism” represents one of the most eminent works of Marxist-Leninist philosophy. It stands together with such works of the classics of Marxism-Leninism as Marx’s “Capital,” Engel’s “Anti-Dühring” and Lenin’s “Materialism and Empirio-Criticism.” In this genius work the bases of dialectical and historical materialism are given in an extremely concise and compact way. Comrade Stalin made in this work a generalization of the contributions of Marx, Engels and Lenin on the teaching of the dialectical method and the materialist theory. He developed all this on the basis of the newest results of science and revolutionary practice.

J.V. Stalin is a great leader of the peoples of the USSR and the working people of the whole world, a coryphaeus of Marxist-Leninist science. He combines within himself colossal theoretical power and tremendous experience in leadership. J.V. Stalin is the leader of the CPSU(B) and the Soviet state. The power of the Stalinist leadership is based on mobilizing and inspiring directions, that are always aimed at what is most important, most relevant, most necessary for the fruitful and successful solution of the tasks that confront the working masses. The power of the Stalinist leadership is based on the brilliant dialectical analysis of phenomena, on the capability of considering facts and events in their development, in their interrelation, in their contradiction. Its power is the genius capability of looking forward into the future, in foreseeing the development and calling for the necessary actions. The power of the Stalinist leadership consists of a tough critique of the shortcomings, of helping those that lag behind, of assisting all that is new, progressive and capable of pushing a positive development in the decisive breakdown of the old, obsolete, that has become a brake on development. The power of the Stalinist leadership is based on the deepest Leninist faith in the creative and inexhaustible power of the popular masses.

…Prof. M.D. Kammari delivered a paper on the development of the Marxist-Leninist theory on the national question by Stalin.

The name of Stalin, a genius continuator of the great teaching and work of Lenin, is linked – said the speaker – to the solution of one of the most important questions of the socialist revolution. This question as well as others was elaborated by Stalin in close co-operation with Lenin.

Lenin and Stalin in their approach to the national question started off from the main ideas drawn by Marx and Engels. Lenin and Stalin developed these ideas in the era of imperialism and the proletarian revolution, in the era of the construction of communism in the USSR; they merged and generalized these ideas into a solid system of views on the national-colonial revolutions, linked the national-colonial question with the question of the liquidation of imperialism, they explained the significance of the national-colonial question as a constituent part of the general question of the proletarian revolution and the dictatorship of the proletariat.

The works of J.V. Stalin give an all-sided scientific substantiation of the program and the policy of the Bolshevik party with respect to the national question and they are a directive for all communist parties: they are like a shining candle that sheds light on the path of the peoples of the colonies and dependent countries towards freedom and independence.

From the very first steps of his revolutionary career, J.V. Stalin together with V.I. Lenin defended and developed the idea of the hegemony of the proletariat in the revolution, the principle of proletarian internationalism in the construction of Russian Social-Democracy against the Bundists, Caucasian federalists and nationalists, who disguised themselves with socialist phrases.

In his work The Social-Democratic View of the National Question (September, 1904), J.V. Stalin made a remarkable contribution to the national program of the RSDLP.

Already in this period J.V. Stalin proved himself a leading theoretician of the national question. He mastered the Marxist dialectical method and gave an exceptionally deep, dialectical, classical, proletarian organization and solution to the national question. In this work lies the embryo of the ideas subsequently developed by Comrade Stalin in his classical work Marxism and the National Question (January, 1913), written on the eve of the First World War, when nationalist feelings in the working class were strengthened and fostered by the social-chauvinist parties of the Second International, the Bundists, Liquidators and Trotskyites in Russia. The work of J.V. Stalin the became a major statement of Bolshevism internationally before the war of 1914. This was a theoretical statement and the Bolshevik program regarding the national question as well. In his work, two theories, two methods, two programs, two ways of thinking regarding the national question are opposed to each other: that of the parties of the Second International and that of Leninism.

Comrade Stalin elaborated here the foundation of the Bolshevik approach to the national question: the requirement of considering the national question from the concrete historical, dialectical standpoint, in a discontinuous interconnection with the international situation corresponding to the era of imperialism, as a part of the general question of the revolution. Stalin substantiated the programmatic slogan of the party on the right of nations to self-determination and the principle of the international solidarity of workers as a required starting point for the solution of the national question.

By founding the Marxist theory of the nation, J.V. Stalin laid a solid theoretical basis for the program and the policy of the Bolshevik party regarding the national question, he created an invincible weapon for the struggle of Marxism-Leninism against any variety of the ideology and politics of bourgeois nationalism.

J.V. Stalin foresaw the future by linking up the solution of the national question with the growth of imperialism in Europe and the inevitability of the growth of democracy in Asia, with impending imperialist wars and the “complications” created by them, i.e. crises and revolutions.

This prediction of Comrade Stalin was completely borne out in the period of the First World War and especially in the period of the Great October Revolution.

J.V. Stalin points out two stages in the elaboration of the national question by the Bolshevik party: the pre-October stage, when the national question had not yet become an international question and was associated with the solution of the bourgeois-democratic revolution, and the October stage, when the national question became an international question, when it merged with the question of the liberation of the colonies and became associated with the fate of the socialist revolution. These positions of Stalin together with his positions on the three periods in the history of the national-liberation movements — the period of pre-monopoly capitalism, the period of imperialism and the Soviet period — have an invaluable significance for the policies of the communist parties and for historical science as well. The victory of the Great October Socialist Revolution opened a new, Soviet stage in the solution of the national question and in the development of Marxism-Leninism in general. The October Revolution, as pointed out by Stalin, gave birth to a new era in the history of humankind, a new era in the history of the oppressed nations. The era of exploitation “without revolt” in the colonies is over, a new era has commenced, the era of the leadership of the proletariat and in the colonies, the era of its hegemony in the revolution.

J.V. Stalin made an all-sided elaboration of the question of the alliance of the proletarian revolution with the national-liberation movements of the peoples of the colonies and dependent countries, the question of the strategy and tactics of the communist parties, the idea of the hegemony of the proletariat in these movements; he substantiated and further developed Lenin’s statement on the possibility of the transition of backward countries to socialism, skipping capitalism under the conditions of the support from proletarian revolutions in the developed countries. These ideas have become a great, transforming, creative revolutionary power capable of raising hundreds of millions of people to the struggle for their liberation.

The hegemony of the proletariat is new and decisive in the national-liberation movements, which gives these movements consciousness, organization, stability, an invincible power which leads to their victory over imperialism.

J.V. Stalin constantly emphasizes that the existence the Soviet Union is a decisive factor that facilitates and guarantees the success and final victory of all national-liberation movements of the peoples of the dependent countries and colonies, since the very existence of such a state constrains the dark forces of reaction, its successes inspire the oppressed peoples in the struggle for their liberation, facilitates this liberation. The liberation of the peoples of the countries of peoples’ democracies in Europe and Asia bears witness of the greatness of the liberating role of the Soviet Union, as the liberator of peoples from the yoke of imperialism.

Comrade Stalin brilliantly foresaw that China would follow the path of the anti-imperialist popular revolution towards the creation of an anti-imperialist, popular power which would lead China to the socialist path of development. The creation of the People’s Republic of China implies a new powerful blow against the whole colonial system of imperialism, which is undergoing a profound crisis, it elevates to a higher stage the struggle of the peoples of Asia and the whole colonial world in general. This victory implies a serious strengthening of the forces of peace, socialism and democracy, led by the USSR.

J.V. Stalin shows that the national question is posed and solved in Leninism differently as it was in the period of the Second International. J.V. Stalin points to the existence of four main elements in the Leninist theory of the national question:

“The first point is the merging of the national question, as a part, with the general question of the liberation of the colonies, as a whole…

The second point is that the vague slogan of the right of nations to self-determination has been replaced by the clear revolutionary slogan of the right of nations and colonies to secede, to form independent states…

The third point is the disclosure of the organic connection between the national and colonial question and the question of the rule of capital, of overthrowing capitalism, of the dictatorship of the proletariat…

The fourth point is that a new element has been introduced into the national question — the element of the actual (and not merely juridical) equalisation of nations (help and co-operation for the backward nations in raising themselves to the cultural and economic level of the more advanced nations), as one of the conditions necessary for securing fraternal co-operation between the labouring masses of the various nations.” (J.V. Stalin, Works, Foreign Languages Publishing House, Moscow, 1953, Vol. 5, pp. 52-60. [From Concerning the Presentation of the National Question.])

J.V. Stalin developed the Leninist thesis about the two tendencies in capitalism with regard to the national question: the tendency towards the formation of nations and national states and the tendency towards the “unification” of nations under the power of financial capital. J.V. Stalin argues that these tendencies are irreconcilable contradictions for imperialism since imperialism cannot “unite” without exploiting a nation. The struggle between these two tendencies enriches the analysis of capitalism in the period of imperialism and this contradiction is one of the sources of its structural weakness, internal instability, of the collapse of multinational bourgeois states, of the collapse and bankruptcy of the policies of the bourgeoisie with regard to the national question. The bankruptcy of the policies of German, Japanese, and after them Anglo-American imperialism in the colonies and the dependent, “Marshalized” countries, is a brilliant confirmation of the strength and significance of the Leninist theses.

For communism these two tendencies, emphasizes J.V. Stalin, are two sides of the same question: the liberation of the oppressed nations from the yoke of imperialism and their unification into a unified socialist world economy voluntarily and on the basis of total equality. Stalin together with Lenin created and strengthened the multinational socialist state, put into practice the national policy of the Soviet power, defined the paths and forms leading to the formation of a fraternal commonwealth of nations on the basis of the Soviet system, under the leadership of the working class and its party, defined the path for the formation and development of socialist nations and their culture.

Comrade Stalin brilliantly solved the complicated and intricate questions of relations between nations, accomplished a gigantic practical work in the foundation of the national Soviet republics and their unification into the USSR.

There is no single Soviet republic in whose formation and consolidation Stalin did not take a decisive and leading part.

J.V. Stalin brilliantly generalized the masses’ revolutionary experience in the construction of the Soviet state. He posed the question of the federation, developed the most convenient forms of unification of Soviet republics into a unified state. He showed the superiority of the Soviet federation compared to bourgeois federations.

Soviet power established the complete political and legal equality of nations and liquidated national oppression. This achievement of the party and Soviet power has historic and world-wide significance. But this is not enough, J.V. Stalin pointed out. “The essence of the national question in the R.S.F.S.R. — said J.V. Stalin at the X Congress of the R.C.P.(B.) — lies in abolishing the actual backwardness (economic, political and cultural) that some of the nations have inherited from the past, to make it possible for the backward peoples to catch up with central Russia in political, cultural and economic respects.” (J.V. Stalin,Works, Vol. 5, p. 39.)

This great historical task was accomplished by the party under the leadership of Stalin on the basis of the Leninist-Stalinist national policy, on the basis of the policy of industrialization and collectivization, the liquidation of the exploiting classes, the construction of socialism. The history of socialism and the social conquests of the peoples of the USSR was established in the Stalin Constitution. The great Stalin Constitution of the USSR declares that all nations and races, regardless of their past and present stage of development, regardless of their strength or weakness, should be entitled to equal rights in all spheres of the social life. The Soviet Constitution prosecutes any expression of the propaganda of national hostility as a severe offence against the pillars of the Soviet state. In Soviet society there are no privileged, oppressed, unequal nations or races. It is not national origin but individual capabilities, individual labor, that determine the place of a citizen in Soviet society. Comrade Stalin showed that on the basis of the Soviet system there were created and consolidated new Soviet, socialist nations which, according to their class structure, spiritual attributes, their socio-political orientation, radically differ from the old bourgeois nations.

Soviet nations are socialist nations, liberated from exploitation, from class antagonism with new Soviet, socialist moral and political characteristics, psychological types, consisting of fraternal classes, the working class, peasantry and intelligentsia, whose class boundaries are disappearing. These are nations that are building communism, freed from the remnants of capitalism, that are coming together and jointly constructing communism by means of all-sided socialist competition and fraternal co-operation.

The great commonwealth of socialist nations was created under the leadership of the Bolshevik party, under the leadership of the Russian working class, thanks to the correct, Leninist-Stalinist national policy, of disinterested assistance to formerly oppressed nations and considerate stand towards the particularities of their mode of life and culture. Thanks particularly to the accomplishment of this policy, the Russian working class and Russian people won the trust and support of all peoples of the USSR and all progressive peoples of the world. Comrade Stalin developed and raised to a higher stage the ideology of proletarian internationalism, the friendship of peoples, he showed that the source of friendship of the peoples of the USSR is the Soviet, socialist system, the internationalist policies of the working class, its party and state.

As a result of the accomplishment of this policy and the construction of socialism, the friendship of the peoples of the USSR has flourished, new relations of trust and fraternal co-operation have been established between them.

The multinational socialist state has survived a great test during the Great Patriotic war against the fascist invaders, under which any other state would have collapsed. There is no other state that could have emerged more strengthened and with the friendship of its people more consolidated than the Soviet state; Soviet patriotism, the friendship of peoples, the moral-political unity are powerful driving forces of Soviet society. Comrade Stalin generalized the experience of the war by stating that in the Soviet state the “national question and the problem of the co-operation of nations has been solved better than in any other multinational state” (Bolshevik, No. 3, 1946, p. 4. Translated from the Russian). The Soviet system gave to the peoples of the USSR a unique power. The works of J.V. Stalin have served and now serve our party and all fraternal communist parties as a weapon in their struggle against bourgeois nationalists, against the nationalist-fascist Tito clique, against right socialists and similar agents of Anglo-American imperialism, the speaker emphasizes.

The theory of culture as national in form and socialist in content has great significance in the struggle against nationalism, for the education of the working people in the spirit of internationalism, for the friendship of peoples, and makes possible the flourishing of the national cultures of the peoples of the USSR.

Comrade Stalin exposed the chauvinist theory of Kautsky, according to which the proletariat having come to power should take the path of assimilation. Comrade Stalin generalized the experience of the socialist revolution in the USSR and stated that it revived many new nationalities that were formerly “forgotten,” it “gave them new life and a new development.” Comrade Stalin foresaw that the same thing would happen in other multinational countries; as a result of a revolution in countries such as India, “scores of hitherto unknown nationalities, having their own separate languages and separate cultures, will appear on the scene.” (J.V. Stalin, Works, Vol. 7, p. 141. [The Political Tasks of the University of the Peoples of the East.])

These statements of J.V. Stalin expose and overturn different bourgeois-cosmopolitan theories of the modern Anglo-American imperialists, who carry out a policy of forcible assimilation, swallowing all nations and races by the “superior” Anglo-American race. J.V. Stalin’s prediction in his work The National Question and Leninism regarding the preservation of nations, national languages and cultures, have great theoretical and political significance. Comrade Stalin, the speaker points out, gave a clear perspective of the development of socialist nations, national languages and cultures, both in the period of the victory of socialism in our country and in the period of the victory of socialism in other countries and in the whole world. Here with unique strength Stalin’s scientific predictions manifest themselves as dialectical-materialist, showing him to be a great theorist of creative Marxism. These statements of Stalin have a leading significance for all social sciences, for philosophy, the science of the state, law, language, the theory of literature, art and culture in general, as well as for the practice of the communist parties in all countries of the world, especially concerning the national question.

In the USSR under the leadership of the party of Lenin-Stalin a great cultural revolution is being carried out, which has involved all tribes and peoples of our country in the process of conscious historical creation. Gigantic efforts are being made to develop the national cultures and languages, an experience that has world-wide historical, scientific and practical significance. The great socialist revolution opened a new era in history, created a completely new world of social relations among people, nations, races, a new world of concepts, ideas, feelings, features that forced the creation of new words, enriched and developed the national languages. It is not surprising that the languages of the peoples of the USSR, both ancient and modern, those less developed or more developed, are now being filled with new forms, are undergoing a revolution, they experience leaps to qualitatively different states. As for culture and languages the struggle of socialism against reactionary bourgeois-nationalist, feudal-clerical and other similar tendencies and elements comes to a victorious end with the victory of socialism, with the victory of the principles of socialist internationalism, the Leninist-Stalinist national policy.

Comrade Stalin teaches that “every nation — no matter how large or small it might be – possesses its own peculiarities, its own specific features that only belong to that nation and not to any other nation. These peculiarities are a contribution of each nation to the treasure of world culture, which makes the latter more complete and rich. In this respect all nations — both small and large — are entitled to equal rights and all nations are different from each other.” (J.V. Stalin, Bolshevik, No. 7, 1948, p. 2. Trans. from the Russian). Comrade Stalin teaches that internationalism in culture implies respect for the cultural creativity of all peoples, not the suppression of national cultures, but assistance to their development.

That is why, points out M.D. Kammari, it is completely logical that it has been particularly the peoples of the USSR, educated by the party of Lenin-Stalin in the spirit of socialism, proletarian internationalism and friendship of the peoples, who saved world civilization from the fascist invaders and at the present time lead the camp of socialism and democracy, stand in the leadership of the struggle for socialism, democracy and democratic peace in the world.

The works of J.V. Stalin are a weapon in the struggle against all kinds of anti-patriotic, cosmopolitan ideologies and phraseologies in the service of Anglo-American imperialism. The works of Comrade Stalin are an irreplaceable weapon in the struggle with all kinds of nationalism, racism, imperialist ideology and policies.

The name of J.V. Stalin — the genius follower of the great teachings of Marx, Engels and Lenin — has become a symbol and a banner of the liberation of peoples from the yoke of imperialism, the banner of proletarian internationalism. The great ideas of Leninist-Stalinist friendship and brotherhood of peoples that stand for a new world, concludes Professor Kammari, are currently inspiring hundreds of millions of people in all parts of the planet in the struggle for their liberation.

… Academician G.F. Aleksandrov gave a talk on the topic “The Struggle of J.V. Stalin for Militant Marxist-Leninist Philosophy.” The speaker began his talk by reminding the audience that J.V. Stalin from the very beginning, as a pupil and companion-in-arms of V.I. Lenin, stood firmly for the struggle for the elevation of the working class, for its socialist education and political organization. Comrade Stalin gave an all-sided substantiation of the idea of the role of revolutionary theory in the workers’ movement. Lenin’s and Stalin’s statement on the merging of the struggle of the working class with scientific socialism has special significance. The workers set out to construct a new world, communism. History has never provided an example of such construction. Unlike capitalism, socialist society cannot move forward spontaneously; it is formed, built and created consciously, according to a plan. The science of socialism and communism has a particularly important significance for the struggle of the working class. It was not in vain that the Bolshevik party, Lenin and Stalin, both before and after the Great October Revolution, strengthened the fervent agitation of Bolshevik ideals among the masses. It is not a coincidence that this task had been confronted for the past third of the century in the Soviet epoch. It would not be impossible to reach communism if the working class, the laboring peasantry, the intelligentsia, the popular masses, did not know the goals of this construction and the path towards its successful accomplishment. This is why the struggle of the party for the communist education of the Soviet people has acquired such significance in the epoch of the step-by-step transition to communism.

Comrade Stalin established a continuous link between the content and tasks of militant revolutionary theory and the situation and state of the working class. Marxism-Leninism is substantiated and developed by the working class, as the class ideology of the proletarian masses, of the communist party. The Leninist idea on the expression of the line and class struggle within the party played the most important role in the process of creating a party of a new type, in the class education of the Russian and international proletariat. This idea was adopted and developed by Stalin.

Already in his article The Class Struggle, written in 1906, Comrade Stalin expounded the question of the historical necessity of the construction of the proletarian party, its role in the political struggle of the proletarian masses, its ideological leadership in this struggle.

The Leninist-Stalinist party oriented and inspired the workers’ revolutionary movement, raised its political, class level and the militant character of its struggle against the bourgeoisie, against imperialism; one can say that the communist party saved the workers’ movement from bourgeois domination, from its division by the activity of the intelligence services of the bourgeoisie.

Comrade Stalin put forward and substantiated the tremendous significance of the implementation of the teachings of dialectical and historical materialism in the political struggle of the working class, in the practical activity of its party. Comrade Stalin gave an all-sided development and scientific substantiation to this deepest consideration that “mastering the Marxist-Leninist theory means assimilating the substance of this theory and learning to use it in the solution of the practical problems of the revolutionary movement under the varying conditions of the class struggle of the proletariat” (History of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (Bolsheviks), Short Course, p. 355.) Dialectical and historical materialism, therefore, requires a deep and exact study of the contemporary conditions of the class struggle, the implementation in practice of the materialist analysis of the political activity, the position of all classes involved in the class struggle. Lenin and Stalin defined struggle, the development of opposites, contradictions, as the essence of Marxist philosophy. They demanded that revolutionaries expose the main contradictions in society with a dialectical and materialist approach to the analysis of the perspective for the development of the struggle between these opposites, that they engage in an unconditional and purposeful struggle for the fastest and complete victory of the revolutionary class, the proletariat.

It becomes clear from here, continues Academician G.F. Aleksandrov, that the ideology of a communist party, its philosophical science, serves one goal — the ideology of the proletariat in its class struggle against capitalism, for communism, for the scientific substantiation of the policies, the revolutionary tactics and strategy of the party. This is the essence of the ideology of the Leninist-Stalinist party. If the ideology of the bourgeoisie, its philosophical-historical system, collapses under the merciless blows of the practice of the class struggle, the development of natural sciences, if they burst, in the words of Great Lenin, like soap bubbles, then this is a result of the very fate of the bourgeoisie, the irreversible collapse of its social and state system.

If the ideology of the proletariat, its philosophical basis, dialectical and historical materialism — in every single experience in the class struggle, in every single step forward, in the development of natural sciences found a proof of its principles, enlarged its influence on the working class and dealt powerful blows to the ideology of the bourgeoisie, then this is a reflection of the historical fate of the working class, of its great role as the gravedigger of capitalism, as the builder of communism.

In the defeat and collapse of bourgeois ideology, in the victories and triumphs of Marxist-Leninist philosophy is clearly seen the irreversible result to which the modern class struggle leads: the victory of the proletariat of all countries over the bourgeoisie, of the socialist camp over the capitalist camp.

Lenin and Stalin raised high the banner of militant Marxism in the party, gave an all-sided substantiation and developed the genius view of Marx and Engels on the irreconcilable struggle between proletarian and bourgeois ideology, as a law of class struggle. They were guided by this view throughout their revolutionary experience.

J.V. Stalin gave the deepest Marxist-Leninist analysis of the modern class struggle by showing that the struggle of the proletariat and the bourgeoisie had become an axis around which modern life turns. He also showed that the current struggle between dialectical materialism and idealist obscurantism comprises the ideological form of that very same class struggle of the proletariat and the bourgeoisie. Bourgeois ideologists and philosophers, defeated by Marxism, always resort to cunning manoeuvering. They try to conceal the disgusting bourgeois essence of their thinking by pretending that they stand above classes, parties and ideologies. They pretend that they represent a “third force,” that stands above the class struggle between the proletariat and the bourgeoisie. Lenin and Stalin proved that in the struggle between modern classes, in the struggle between two camps — the socialist camp and the imperialist camp — there is no room for a “third force.” This so-called “third force” always stood and stands now on the side of the bourgeoisie against the proletariat.

Lenin and Stalin teach that in a class society there is no room for an ideology, a philosophy that stands above classes. Lenin and Stalin put forward this question in a clear and exact manner — there is no “third,” “middle” line in philosophy: either the revolutionary materialist thinking of the proletariat, or the religious-mystical narcotic of the imperialists. There is no middle road here. The defence of objectivism is a class expression, the expression of bourgeois ideology.

By means of his genius materialist analysis of the modern class struggle, his fearless exposure of the deepest contradictions of the modern epoch, the scientific elaboration of the paths and ways of achieving victory for the international working class over imperialism, Comrade Stalin gives a classical example of how Marxist-Leninist philosophy should be understood and applied.

Every passing day confirms the genius Stalinist analysis of the modern epoch. This is how materialism — the philosophy of the Marxist-Leninist party — triumphs and idealism — the ideology of the imperialist bourgeoisie — finally collapses. The Stalinist conclusion on the inevitability of the collapse of imperialism and the undoubted victory of the proletariat is based on the creative application of dialectical and historical materialism in the analysis of the phenomena of modern social life, of the modern class struggle. Stalinist analysis ideologically arms the camp of peace, democracy and socialism, gives a scientific substantiation to the struggle waged by this camp.

Comrade Stalin teaches that Marxism-Leninism is not a dogma, but a guide to action. The party of the working class, says Comrade Stalin, is “not a school of philosophy or a religious sect. Is not our Party a fighting party?” (J.V. Stalin, Works, Vol. 1, p. 66. [The Proletarian Class and the Proletarian Party.])

Dialectical materialism requires a clear materialist analysis of reality, a struggle that can accomplish scientifically determined tasks that breaks down the obstacles posed by practice in the course of the struggle of the working class. Marxists translate the center of gravity to the application in life of the ideas of scientific communism. In this light, with the Marxists of the Leninist-Stalinist school “there is no discrepancy between word and deed… the teachings of Marx completely retain their living, revolutionary force.” (J.V. Stalin, Works, Vol. 4, p. 318.) It is necessary to emphasize and always remember — the speaker says — that the Leninist-Stalinist philosophical science does not only imply that revolutionaries are bound to act with decision, to struggle with passion, but to act in struggle based on a deep knowledge of the laws of development of society. We owe to Comrade Stalin the great achievement of the total defeat of bourgeois ideology that denies the necessity for historical development, the achievement of the exposure of all advantages of the deep scientific knowledge of the laws of development of society for the proletarian masses and their communist parties. He showed that by mastering the laws of development of society one can lead the working class with confidence, one can see more than the proletarian class as a whole. This is the point, argues Comrade Stalin. “The ideologists push forward, and it is precisely for this reason that the idea, socialist consciousness, is of such great importance for the movement.” (J.V. Stalin, Works, Vol. 1, p. 120. [Briefly About the Disagreements in the Party.]) The knowledge of the laws of development has a tremendous significance for the class struggle of the proletarian masses, induces the movement forward, accelerates the course of history towards the socialist revolution. And in the epoch of the dictatorship of the proletariat this leads to communism. This significance makes it possible to elaborate the correct political strategy, to take account of the experience of the revolutionary struggle in all countries, to determine correctly the main direction of the proletarian movement in a given country for a given historical period.

The political strategy of the party, based on the knowledge of the laws of development of society, accelerates historical development, leads the movement along the shortest path, prevents the working class from having unnecessary victims, from experiencing unnecessary sufferings in the struggle for the overthrow of capitalism. Failing to understand the laws of development of society means betraying the revolutionary, Marxist method, means closing ones eyes to the development of life and acting blindly and randomly.

Comrade Stalin placed special importance on the question of the scientific forecast of the development of social life by the revolutionary party and its leaders. Revolutionary theory provides knowledge of the laws of development of society, of the perspectives of this development. This is why theory, argues Comrade Stalin, “gives practical workers the power of orientation, clarity of perspective, confidence in their work, faith in the victory of our cause.” (J.V. Stalin, Works, Vol. 12, p. 148. [Concerning Questions of Agrarian Policy.]). In the Report on the Results of the First Five-Year Plan Comrade Stalin said: “The communist party is invincible, if it knows its goal, and if it is not afraid of difficulties.” (J.V. Stalin, Problems of Leninism, Foreign Languages Press, Peking, 1976, p. 630.)

These statements of Marxist-Leninist theory have an exceptional significance for the understanding of the whole revolutionary spirit, the whole scientific content of materialism. These statements argue that only the Leninist-Stalinist stand in philosophy can provide the objective and correct analysis of the development of society, that reflects the historical truth, the objective course of the development of society.

In our time these words of Great Lenin acquired a new and brilliant confirmation: “by following the path of Marxian theory we shall draw closer and closer to objective truth (without ever exhausting it); but by following any other path we shall arrive at nothing but confusion and lies.” (V.I. Lenin, Collected Works,Vol. 14, p. 143. [Materialism and Empirio-Criticism.])

Only the communist party has the courage and boldness to face historical necessity openly and declares to the whole world the indubitable and consistent party character of its ideology. This is possible because this class, proletarian point of view is the only scientific one and coincides with objective reality. The more principled, persistent and consistent is the application in life by the communist party of the analysis of the social phenomena and the ideological struggle, the more exact, complete and true will be the knowledge achieved. The class interests of the proletarian masses, the goal of the communist party, on the one hand, and the laws of objective development, on the other, follow the same direction: the broader and richer the knowledge of the development of society achieved by the party, the more exact and complete will be the analysis of any phenomenon of social life and development of society, the closer will it be merged with the interests of the communist parties, with the interests of the working class.

Our party — concludes Academician G.F. Aleksandrov — is called communist because its goal is the construction of communist society. To defend the party character of philosophy and of any other field of human knowledge means to struggle in a selflessness manner, with the ardent and inflexible revolutionary will of the Leninist-Stalinist school, to fight for the line of the communist party for its goals.

From ‘The Seventieth Anniversary of Joseph Vissarionovich Stalin’, published in Izvestia Akademii Nauk SSSR, Seria Istorii i Filosofii, Tom VII, Izdatelstvo Akademii Nauk SSSR, Moscow, 1950, pp. 3-30.

Translated from the Russian by ‘Inter’.

Source

Thoughts on Georges Soria’s Denunciation of “Trotskyism in the Service of Franco”

soria_trotskyismby Espresso Stalinist

Recently I was reading a PDF of the 1938 pamphlet Trotskyism in the Service of Franco: Facts and Documents on the Activities of the P.O.U.M. in Spain by Georges Soria. Soria was a representative in Spain of the French communist paper L’Humanité and also wrote for the International Press Correspondence of the Comintern. The material for the pamphlet was originally published as a series of articles reporting on the situation of the Spanish Civil War.

Forty years after its original publication, Soria is said to have denounced the work and its contents as a forgery.

The work has subsequently been dismissed as a fabrication for a number of years. It is now cited by Trotskyists as evidence of a “Stalinist” campaign to smear the P.O.U.M. as fascist agents. Jeffrey Meyers, a biographer of George Orwell, called it “a vicious book” and Orwell himself dedicated lengthy passages in his novel “Homage to Catalonia” to blaming the Communists for similar accusations, and for the loss in Spain as a whole. The pamphlet has become a tool to denounce the heroic role of the Soviet Union and the Communist Party of Spain (PCE) in the Spanish Civil War as counterrevolutionary.

The copy of the full pamphlet in its 1938 form on the Marxists Internet Archive (MIA) comes with an editor’s note that cites the original author apparently claiming the work and its contents are a complete forgery:

“Forty years later, in a work about the Spanish civil war (Guerra y revolución en España 1936-1939, III, 78-79), Soria himself stated – without mentioning anything about his own role in disseminating the accusation  – that ‘the charge that the POUM leaders were ‘agents of the Gestapo and Franco’ was no more than a fabrication, because it was impossible to adduce the slightest evidence’ and the whole story was ‘an extension into the international arena of the methods that constituted the most somber aspect of what has since been called Stalinism’” (Marxists Internet Archive).

It’s worth noting MIA are not the first ones to use these quotes to “disprove” the Soria pamphlet. Many scholarly and non-scholarly books have used them as well.

As the MIA editor’s note shows, the original source for these quotes from Soria is the book “Guerra y revolución en España 1936-1939.” This source is not available to me. However, I did find another source that details the full unedited quotes by Soria which are being cited as proof his work is a forgery: the book “Spanish Civil War: Revolution and Counterrevolution” by Burnett Bolloten.

Within this source there is enough information to argue that the way the quotes from Soria are often presented is quite deceptive. Here I will present only what are actual quoted words from Soria, and omit the words and phrases MIA inserted between them. The first quote that is commonly used is that Soria said that:

“[…] the charge that the POUM leaders were ‘agents of the Gestapo and Franco’ was no more than a fabrication, because it was impossible to adduce the slightest evidence.”

The second quote, which MIA and others present as being about “the whole story,” (more on this later) meaning about the entire contents of Soria’s pamphlet, says:

“[…] an extension into the international arena of the methods that constituted the most somber aspect of what has since been called Stalinism.”

These passages in quotes are the only portions of the editor’s note that were actually said by Soria. Now I will present the full and unedited Soria quotes in their original context as cited in Bolloten’s book. All portions in brackets [ ] without the annotation “E.S.” appeared in brackets in the original Bolloten text. The first full quote reads as follows:

“Forty years later however, in an attempt to exculpate the Spanish Communists from responsibility for the death of Nin, he [Soria – E.S.] stated that ‘the accusations leveled against Nin in Spain in the form of the couplet: ‘Where is Nin? In Salamanca or Berlin?’ were ‘purely and simply…an extension into the international arena of the methods that constituted the most somber aspect of what has since been called Stalinism.’”

So Soria was not, in fact, talking about his pamphlet, but rather the story surrounding the disappearance of Andrés Nin, the founder of the P.O.U.M., where he was freed from prison by fascist agents. Soria then blames the NKVD for the death of Nin, which is what he dismissed as “an extension into the international arena of the methods that constituted the most somber aspect of what has since been called Stalinism.”

Bolloten even goes on to condemn Soria for his “attempt…to exonerate the PCE by shifting responsibility for the crusade against the P.O.U.M. and for the disappearance of Nin to the phenomenon of ‘Stalinism’” (507). So the Soria quote specifically speaks of the charges against Nin and one story of his disappearance.

The MIA editor’s note however, frames this quote as being about “the whole story,” implying that it’s about his original work and all charges of the P.O.U.M. acting as agents (either de-facto agents or actual spies) of Franco or Hitler:

“the whole story was ‘an extension…[Soria quote continues as above].”

As we can clearly see however, in this first quote Soria was not talking about his pamphlet or the “whole story,” but specifically about the alleged liberation of Andrés Nin from prison by fascist agents, which Soria recounts in the pamphlet, though he does not mention the involvement of the Gestapo but rather implies that fascist agents may have been involved.

Bolloten then cites the second Soria quote used by MIA in the same paragraph, which contains even greater pronounced differences with the MIA citation. The original says:

“On the one hand, the charge that the leaders of the POUM, among them Andrés Nin, were ‘agents of the Gestapo and Franco’ was no more than a fabrication, because it was impossible to adduce the slightest evidence. On the other hand, although the leaders of the POUM were neither agents of Franco nor agents of the Gestapo, it is true that their relentless struggle against the Popular Front played the game nolens volens of the Caudillo [General Franco]” (Bolloten 507).

So despite Soria claiming that the charges of the P.O.U.M. leadership, including Nin, being fascist spies was without evidence, he still blamed the P.O.U.M. for taking an ultra-left position and undermining the popular front in Spain, which still rendered de-facto service to the fascists. In other words, even if the Trotskyists and ultra-lefts in the P.O.U.M. were completely innocent of all charges and were not agents of the Gestapo or Franco, they “only” offered de-facto, and not de-jure, service to Franco.

The phrasing here says that even though he claims there is no evidence of the P.O.U.M. leadership being fascist agents and spies, Soria does not deny the fact that they rendered service to Franco, using the phrase, “nolens volens,” meaning “whether willing or unwilling.”

The editor’s note on MIA omits this second phrase for obvious reasons. There are a number of other interesting points regarding these full, unedited quotes that are worth pointing out.

In these quotes Soria does not denounce his original work – merely the specific charge that the P.O.U.M. leadership were spies of the Gestapo and Franco. He does say it was “impossible to adduce the slightest evidence,” which can be said to imply that the documents and sources he cites in the pamphlet are, at least in part, forgeries. However, this is not stated specifically. In fact, Soria does not mention his work at all! This is implicitly stated by the editor’s note on the MIA page, which states that Soria spoke “without mentioning anything about his own role in disseminating the accusation.” His “role,” of course, was the pamphlet!

To some extent MIA makes a valid point about Soria never mentioning his own “role” in the charges that he claims was a “fabrication…[without] the slightest evidence.” Assuming the work is a complete fabrication, Soria never claimed to have been coerced to write the pamphlet, and never mentions an outside party forcing him to do so. Therefore, even in the case that it is a complete forgery, until there is proof that Soria authored it under the influence of an outside force, the blame must be placed not on the Soviet Union, “Stalinism” or the PCE, but on Soria the author for allegedly forging the evidence in his articles in the first place, and allowing those articles to be published as a pamphlet.

It’s also worth repeating that though Soria expresses his belief that the charges against the “P.O.U.M. leadership” being fascist spies was false and without evidence, this does not mean everyone in the P.O.U.M. was innocent of such activities, and Soria says explicitly that the P.O.U.M.’s actions still helped Hitler and Franco, even if unwillingly. One must ask then: how does this in any way exonerate the P.O.U.M.?

Furthermore, why Soria should choose forty years after the publication of the original document, long after such a “confession” of forgery could have had any effect whatsoever on the anti-fascist war in Spain or its outcome is unclear, thought it must be pointed out that these words were said after Soria became sympathetic to the Eurocommunism of the PCF, and during the era of “de-Stalinization,” where the virtues of making slanderous statements and denunciations regarding the Stalin era were looked upon with favor both inside and outside the Soviet Union. The pace for this was set by the many utter falsehoods uttered by Khrushchev at the 20th Congress, and the decades of revisionism that followed.

CONCLUSION: Until there is more direct evidence that Georges Soria denounced his articles and the documents he cited in them as forgeries, there is no reason to “dismiss” them from consideration as evidence, and though he later claimed the charges against the P.O.U.M. leadership were baseless and there was no evidence for them, implying that at least part of the original work was false and/or mistaken, the conclusion that Soria admitted his work and all of its contents were complete forgeries cannot be supported by the existing facts.

https://www.marxists.org/history/spain/writers/soria/trotskyism_in_service_of_franco.htm

V.I. Lenin on the International and World War I

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“An International does not mean sitting at the same table and having hypocritical and pettifogging resolutions written by people who think that genuine internationalism consists in German socialists justifying the German bourgeoisie’s call to shoot down French workers, and in French socialists justifying the French bourgeoisie’s call to shoot down German workers in the name of the ‘defence of the fatherland!’ The International consists in the coming together (first ideologically, then in due time organisationally as well) of people who, in these grave days, are capable of defending socialist internationalism in deed, i.e., of mustering their forces and ‘being the next to shoot’ at the governments and the ruling classes of their own respective ‘fatherlands.’ This is no easy task; it calls for much preparation and great sacrifices and will be accompanied by reverses. However, for the very reason that it, is no easy task, it must be accomplished only together with those who wish to perform it and are not afraid of a complete break with the chauvinists and with the defenders of social-chauvinism.”

 – V.I. Lenin, “Dead Chauvinism and Living Socialism: How the International Can be Restored”

The German Situation and the Question of Social-Fascism

Demonstrators in East Berlin carry portraits of both German socialist Karl Liebknecht and political activist Rosa Luxemburg in 1988, during a protest march against their assassination in 1919. (AP/Press Association Images)

Demonstrators in East Berlin carry portraits of both German socialist Karl Liebknecht and political activist Rosa Luxemburg in 1988, during a protest march against their assassination in 1919. (AP/Press Association Images)

The greatest factor in the stabilization of capitalism after the first round of wars and revolutions was Social-Democracy. In such countries as Germany and Austria the Social-Democratic leaders actually undertook to organize and maintain the capitalist State against the revolutionary onslaught of the workers. A German Social-Democrat, Noske, drowned in blood the workers’ revolution in Germany in 1918 and 1919. Social-Democratic ministers suppressed strikes, fired at workers’ demonstrations, declared martial law against the workers. A Socialist government in Great Britain sent armies to subdue the uprising of the colonial peoples. The Social- Democrats of France took the initiative in introducing the imperialist martial laws. In. short, everywhere the leaders of Social-Democracy became part and parcel of the bourgeois State apparatus. They advanced the idea that where there is a coalition government, i.e., a government of’ capitalist and Socialist ministers, there we have a transition from capitalism to socialism. The fact of the matter is that a coalition government remains a capitalist government since it does not shake the foundations of capitalism, private property and exploitation. On the contrary, it only serves to strengthen capitalism by deceiving the workers with the idea of peaceful transition to socialism.

In Germany and Austria Social-Democracy actually aided the growth of fascism. Fascist bands were being organized under the protection of Social-Democratic governments. Fascist demonstrations were unmolested by Social-Democratic police presidents while Communist demonstrations were being dispersed. Fascist bands were allowed to arm while the militant Red Front organization of the German workers was outlawed. Martial law and semi-martial law were repeatedly introduced to curb the movement of the workers who demanded an improvement of their intolerable conditions.

In the very same way as Lenin, after the betrayal of the proletariat by Social-Democracy at the beginning of the War, called the Social-Democratic leaders social-patriots and social-chauvinists, so the Communist International, after the new betrayals of Social-Democracy, called its leaders social-fascists –in the sense of paving the way for fascism.

It was disastrous for the proletariat of Germany and of the whole world that the Social-Democratic leaders made common cause with capitalism. It was disastrous that so many millions of workers were deceived by the socialist phrases of the Social-Democratic leaders and believed them to be true fighters for the interests of the working class. It was unfortunate that the Communist Party of Germany could swing only around six million votes and did not have the majority of the working class behind it. It would have been better for the workers of Germany and for the world revolution had the masses of German workers cherished fewer illusions about their Social-Democratic leaders. It would have been difficult for fascism to sweep into power in Germany had there been organized in Germany a powerful united front.

It cannot be denied that there were certain weaknesses in the work of the Communist Party of Germany, but opposition to the united front was not among them. The Communist Party did not succeed in bringing all its members into the reformist trade unions so as to have there a stronger revolutionary support. It did not work sufficiently in the reformist trade unions – and this was the most neglected sector of its activities, although it did build the red trade-union opposition with a membership – prior to the advent of fascism of over 300,000. It did not root itself sufficiently in the factories and plants. It was not flexible enough in approaching Social-Democratic rank-and-file workers. All these shortcomings were repeatedly pointed out by the Communist International, and the Party made strong efforts to improve its work. As a result its influence grew tremendously.

“During the last period before Hitler came to power, the Communist Party succeeded in penetrating the broad masses and even in obtaining influence among the social-democrats, the members of the reformist trade unions and also the members of the Republican Flag (Reichsbanner) organization, for the very reason that it was able to organize the struggle against this emergency decree. The authority of the Party was greatly enhanced, and members of reformist trade unions began to participate in the strikes led by the Red Trade Union Opposition and the Communists. Thus, besides Communists, members of reformist trade unions and even National Socialists participated in the Berlin transport strike committee.” (O. Piatnitsky, The Present Situation in Germany, p. 20.)

The Communist Party of Germany was ready to fight fascism. As a matter of fact, the Communists did fight the fascist bands in the streets on numerous occasions, meeting their attacks and the attacks of the police which, in Prussia for instance, was under Social-Democratic command and everywhere protected the Brown Shirts.

That the Communists were working for a united front with the Social-Democratic workers, if need be through an agreement with the Social-Democratic leaders, may be seen from the following:

In 1925 the Communist Party proposed to the Social-Democratic Party a united struggle against the monarchist danger. Later in the year, seeing that the Communists and the Social-Democrats had a majority of members in the Berlin municipality, the Communists proposed to the Social-Democrats a common program of action for the interests of the workers. In 1926 the Communists called upon the Social-Democratic leaders to join in a plebiscite against returning the property to the former German royal family. In the Spring of 1928 the C.P. proposed joint May-Day demonstrations. In October, 1928, it proposedjoint anti-militarist action against the building of a battle cruiser. In 1929-1932 it repeatedly proposed joint action against wage-cuts. In April, 1932, it proposed a joint struggle of all working-class organizations against an impending wage-cut.

All these proposals were turned down by Social-Democracy. Broad masses of workers responded to some of the Communist appeals for united action. Social-Democratic leaders preferred cooperation with the capitalist parties.

When Von Papen drove the Social-Democrats out of the Prussian government, the Communist Party proposed a joint general strike for the repeal of the emergency decrees and for the disbanding of the Storm Troops. On January 30, 1933, when Hitler came into power, the Communist Party again proposed a general strike to fight reaction. Again in March, 1933, after the burning of the Reichstag, the Communist Party called upon the Social-Democratic Party and the trade unions to declare a general strike against the attack on the workers. All these proposals were rejected by the Social-Democrats who preferred to believe that they could function and maintain a modicum of power under any capitalist régime.

Who is to be blamed?

Trotsky says: the Communists are to blame. Why? Because they called the Social-Democrats social-fascists. Trotsky cannot deny the fact that the Communists were trying to organize the united front. They organized the Anti-Fascist Action which was to unite workers of various parties. They tried to organize the united front in the factories and unions. The Social-Democratic leaders sowed mistrust toward the Communists and toward the united front, and this hampered the Communist action. Trotsky did his bit.

Now he is dissatisfied.

Here is his chief trump:

“Had the Comintern placed, from 1929, or even from 1930 or 1931, at the foundation of its policies the objective irreconcilability between Social-Democracy and fascism, or more exactly between fascism and Social-Democracy; if upon this it had built a systematic and persistent policy of the united front, Germany, within a few months, would have been covered with a network of mighty committees of proletarian defense, potential workers’ Soviets, that is.” (Leon Trotsky, The Militant, March 10, 1934.)

But, my dear Mr. Trotsky, there was no irreconcilability between Social-Democracy and fascism, or more exactly: between the Social-Democratic leaders and fascism. There was no irreconcilability as far as the Social-Democratic leaders were concerned. They certainly had not anticipated that they would be so ruthlessly driven out. They had formed a substantial part of the State apparatus under all regimes prior to that of Hitler and they were convinced that even under Hitler would they retain a certain share of power. No matter how much the Communists would have painted before them the dire results they were to expect from the ascendancy of fascism – they simply would not have believed it. They would have said they knew better.

Witness the conduct of the Austrian Social-Democratic leaders who were supposed to be much more radical than their German brethren and who had the experience of their German comrades. Listen to the testimony of the “Left” Marxist, Otto Bauer, in his interview with the New York Times correspondent, C, E. R. Gedye (published February 18, 1934) as to how the Social-Democrats of Austria were ready to cooperate with the fascist dictator Dollfuss at the expense of the Austrian constitution:

“Since the date of the Hitler triumph in Germany (March 5)when the Reichstag ‘elections’ gave the German Nazis control, our party has made the very greatest efforts to come to an agreement with the government…. In the first weeks of March our leaders were still in close personal contact with Dollfuss and frequently tried to get him to agree to a constitutional solution. At the end of March he promised our leader, Dr. Dennenberg, personally that at the beginning of April he would open negotiations with us for the reform of the Constitution [for the limiting of bourgeois democracy to suit fascism – M.J.O.]. This promise he never fulfilled, for at the beginning of April he passed over definitely to the fascist camp… and refused to speak to any of the socialists. When he said that he could not see the existing leaders we offered to send him other negotiators. He refused sharply. As we could not see him again, we tried to negotiate through other people. Honestly, we left no stone unturned. We approached President Miklas…. Then we tried the clerical politicians, whom we had known for a long time…. But everything was shattered on the stubborn resistance of Dollfuss who simply refused to hear of the socialists again. A group of religious socialists got together with a group of Catholic democrats and tried to induce the Church to intervene. This also failed.”

Suppose you offered them at that time a united front with the Communists to fight Dollfuss? They did not think of fighting fascism. They had no intention of defending bourgeois democracy. Listen to this precious admission by Bauer in the same interview:

“We offered to make the greatest concessions that a democratic and socialistic party ever made. We let Dollfuss know that if he would only pass a bill through Parliament we would accept a measure authorizing the Government to govern by decree without Parliament for two years [our emphasis – M.J.O.], on two conditions, that a small parliamentary committee, in which the government had a majority, should be able to criticize decrees and that a constitutional court, the only protection against breaches of the Constitution, should be restored.”

They certainly were prepared to go far enough. The “Left” Social-Democrats were ready to agree to the abolition of Parliament provided the abolition is passed by Parliament (a procedure actually practiced in Germany under Hitler). They were ready, they say, to agree to a government without Parliament “for two years”, but it is quite obvious that it would not have been over-difficult to induce them to accept an extension of the time. They were interested in maintaining their positions in the trade unions, in the municipalities, in the police power, in the judicial system – knowing very well that those positions would be curtailed under fascism. They clung to a shadow of power at the time when, according to their own testimony, “the dissatisfaction and agitation of the workers against the conservative policy of our Party committee grew as the government provocations increased…. Excitement rose to a fever pitch during the last weeks.” (Ibid.)

It is for not having induced such leaders to organize a united front that Trotsky blames the Communists.

Be it remembered that he does not blame the Communists for not approaching the workers because he knows very well that they did approach the workers and did make every effort to induce them to join the united front. His chief stock in trade is the accusation that the Communist leaders did not make peace with the Social-Democratic top leaders.

Trotsky s argument in support of the possibility of a united front with the Social-Democratic leaders holds no water.

“Social-Democracy [he says] can neither live nor breathe without leaning upon the political and trade union organizations of the working class. Concurrently it is precisely along this line that the irreconcilable contradiction between Social-Democracy and fascism takes place; precisely along this line does there open up the necessity and unbridgeable stage of the policies of the united front with the Social-Democracy.” (The Militant, March 10, 1934.)

This argument is just as incorrect as the English translation of the sentences is rotten. Events have proven that the bourgeoisie resorts to fascism when it finds that Social-Democracy is no longer able to keep in check the revolutionary movement of the masses. For this reason all the mass organizations of the working class, even if dominated by Social-Democratic leaders, are suppressed. But prior to the advent of Hitler the Social-Democratic leaders did not believe this.

They relied on capitalist democracy, on the Weimar Constitution, on the German respect for law and order and – last but not least – on their record in the service of the bourgeoisie. They invented the policy of supporting the “lesser evil” just to have an excuse for collaborating with the bourgeoisie. Their Berlin Chief of Police Zoergiebel opened machine-gun fire on workers participating in a May-Day parade (1929) without a permit. The number of victims was over 30. Their leaders approved of semi-martial law introduced to quell the workers’ revolts. Their leaders supported wage-cuts and armaments. Social-Democracy supported the governments of Bruening, Von Papen and Schleicher. It was ready to support Hitler. Did it not give its recognition to the Hitler government after the elections of March 5, 1933, declaring that Hitler had been legally appointed by Hindenburg and given a clear mandate by a majority of the people? Was it not ready to cooperate with the Hitler government if offered a chance? Was it not assuming the role of a loyal opposition even after being kicked in the face by the Nazi boots? Did not the Social-Democratic parliamentary group, on May 17, 1933, vote unanimously in the Reichstag in favor of Hitler’s policy? Did not Carl Severing remain a supporter of Hitler in spite of all? Did not the same veteran Social-Democratic leader appeal to the population of the Saar to vote for the Nazis? Did not the Social- Democratic union leaders make overtures to Hitler?

When their collapse came, when they were ignominiously driven out without resistance, then the process of revaluation of values began not only among the Social-Democratic workers but also among some of the leaders. One section (Severing & Co.) are just waiting for an opportunity to be “taken in” by the fascists. The center is vacillating. The Left Wing is for a united front with the Communists. The united front is making headway, notably in France, in Spain and also in the United States – under the initiative and leadership of the Communists. But to expect that the leaders of German Social- Democracy would have agreed to the united front with the Communists before January, 1933, is to be a Trotsky.

At the bottom of all this preachment is Trotsky’s Menshevik attitude to Social-Democracy. The old Menshevik asserts himself in the leader of the “Left opposition”. He does not believe that Social-Democracy is “as bad as that”. He is sincere when he says that the Communists should not have called the Social-Democratic leaders social-fascists. He believes they are not. He believes they are also fighters, at least for bourgeois democracy and for the interests of the workers as far as they can be defended under bourgeois democracy. The Social-Democrats to him are “also” socialists. Now it is perfectly true that if the Communists had abandoned their Communist position and made peace with the German Social-Democratic leaders on the terms of these leaders, then there would have been a united front. The trouble is, it wouldn’t have been a united front against fascism.

The travesty of the whole barrage is evident from the experiences of. France. When the united front was established in France, when huge mass movements against fascism began to develop on a united-front basis, the Trotsky group joined the Socialist Party, fused with it, and is fighting within the Socialist Party against the united front.

Here you have the Trotskyites in action.

But why did not the Communist Party attempt an armed uprising in Germany in the early part of 1933 with its own forces? This question is often asked by Trotskyites.

The answer is given by Lenin who explains “the fundamental law of revolution”.

“It is not sufficient for revolution that the exploited and oppressed masses understand the impossibility of living in the old way and demand changes; for revolution, it is necessary that the exploiters should not be able to live and rule as of old. Only when the ‘lower classes’ do not want the old regime,and when the ‘upper classes’ are unable to govern as of old, then only can revolution succeed. This truth may be expressed in other words: Revolution is impossible without an all-national crisis, affecting both the exploited and the exploiters. [Our emphasis – M.J.O.] It follows that for revolution it is essential, first, that a majority of the workers (or at least a majority of the conscious, thinking, politically active workers) should fully understand the necessity for revolution, and be ready to sacrifice their lives for it; secondly, that the ruling class be in a state of governmental crisis, which attracts even the most backward masses into politics… weakens the government and facilitates its rapid overthrow by the revolutionaries.” (V. I. Lenin, Collected Works, Russian Edition, Vol. XXV, p. 222.)

In discussing the German situation of the time when Hitler came to power, O. Piatnitsky, a leader of the Communist International, quotes the above Leninist definition of a revolutionary situation and draws the inevitable conclusion. He says:

“Had all these conditions matured in Germany in January 1933? No. The entire bourgeoisie, in the face of the menace of a proletarian revolution, in spite of the existence of discords among them, stood united against the revolutionary proletariat. The overwhelming majority of the petty bourgeoisie followed the bourgeoisie as represented by Hitler, who promised them the return of the ‘grand’ old Germany in which the petty bourgeoisie had lived in more or less tolerable conditions. The proletariat was split by the Social-Democratic Party which was still followed by the majority of the workers. So the exploiters were still able to live and administer, were still able to exploit the working class as of old, although by new, fascist methods.” (O. Piatnitsky, The Present Situation in Germany, p. 27.)

The Presidium of the Executive Committee of the Comintern, evaluating the German situation, came to the only conclusion which a responsible leadership could draw from the existing relationship of the social forces in Germany.

“Under these circumstances [says the Presidium resolution] the proletariat was in a position in which it could not organize and in fact failed to organize an immediate and decisive blow against the state apparatus, which, for the purpose of fighting against the proletariat, absorbed the fighting organizations of the fascist bourgeoisie: the Storm Troops, the Steel Helmets and the Reichswehr. The bourgeoisie was able without serious resistance to hand over the power of government in the country to the National-Socialists, who act against the working class by means of provocations, bloody terror and political banditry.

“In analyzing the conditions for a victorious uprising of the proletariat, Lenin said that a decisive battle can be considered as fully mature,

“ ‘…if all the class forces which were hostile to us have become sufficiently entangled, have sufficiently come to blows, have sufficiently weakened themselves by the struggle which is beyond their strength. If all the vacillating, hesitating, unstable, intermediate elements, i.e., the petty bourgeoisie, petty-bourgeois democracy as distinguished from the bourgeoisie, have sufficiently exposed themselves to the people, have sufficiently disgraced themselves by their practical bankruptcy. If among the proletariat mass sentiment has begun, and is rising strongly in favor of supporting the most decisive, supremely bold and revolutionary action against the bourgeoisie. Then the revolution has matured, and if we have properly taken into account all of the conditions mentioned above… and have properly selected the moment, our victory is assured.’

“The characteristic feature of the circumstances at the time of the Hitler coup was that these conditions for a victorious rising had not yet managed to mature at that moment. They only existed in an embryonic state.

“As for the vanguard of the proletariat, the Communist Party, not wishing to slip into adventurism, it, of course, could not compensate for this missing factor by its own actions.”

Trotsky’s criticism of the Comintern is the expression of the despair of a petty bourgeois frightened by fascism and disbelieving in the revolutionary forces of the proletariat. Trotsky’s proposed policies, therefore, are policies of a frightened petty-bourgeois reformist.

“Democratic slogans and illusions [he says] cannot be abolished by decree. It is necessary that the masses go through them and outlive them in the experience of battle…. It is necessary to find the dynamic elements in the present defensive position of the working class; we must make the masses draw conclusions from their democratic logic; we must widen and deepen the channels of the struggle.” (Leon Trotsky, “Our Present Tasks,” The Militant, December 9, 1933.)

In these words is contained a whole program. It presupposes a general political situation where black reaction is destined to reign supreme for a very long period and where there can be no thought of a determined proletarian fight for power. It presupposes a stable capitalist system. It assumes that the struggle of the workers for the improvement of their immediate conditions must necessarily proceed in parliamentary channels. It therefore advances the struggle for democratic reforms as the prime task of the workers.

Like all such Social-Democratic creations it is both reactionary and utopian.

It is reactionary because it gives up the proletarian struggle for power at a time when conditions are rapidly maturing for such a struggle. It is utopian because it is not possible for the workers at any time to confine themselves to “democratic slogans” alone if they are to defend their right to live.

The workers are hungry. They are oppressed. They must fight for higher wages, social insurance, against police brutality, against lynch laws. Whenever they undertake a real fight they inevitably reach out beyond the limits of bourgeois democracy. They clash with the police. They defy the courts. They break injunctions. They forcibly annul evictions. They “riot”. When capitalism is shaken and undermined as at present the seizure of power becomes a task for the near future. Every fight is a step nearer to the seizure of power. Every battle gives the working class new experience, teaches it the lessons of unity and concerted advance against the bourgeoisie. Only such an advance can yield immediate improvement of the workers’ lives today, can secure for them elementary rights and better economic conditions.

It is the class struggle against capitalism that the Communists are inscribing on the banner of the working class – the class struggle which in its sharpest form is armed uprising, the final battles for the dictatorship of the proletariat.

It is class collaboration on which Trotsky is building the flimsy structure of his “fourth international” program.

Listen to a Trotskyite “Bolshevik” exhorting the world in the following piece of sonorous declamation:

“We, Bolsheviks, consider that the real salvation from fascism and war lies in the revolutionary conquest of power and the establishment of the proletarian dictatorship. [But our ‘belief’ is just a shadow, bloodless, lifeless. – M.J.O.] You, Socialist workers [Read: Social-Democratic bureaucrats – M.J.O.] do not agree to this road. You hope not only to save what has been gained but also to move forward along the road of democracy. [In collaboration with Roosevelt, Richberg and Perkins. – M.J.O.] Good! As long as we have not convinced you and attracted you to our side we are ready to follow this road with you to the end. [It is easier to follow you than bother with rank-and-file workers who may not agree to submit to ‘democratic’ edicts of chiefs of police – M.J.O.] But we demand that you carry on the struggle for democracy not in words but in deeds [For instance, let Norman Thomas pay a new visit to the ‘First Lady’ of the land. – MJ.O.]…. Make your Party open up a real struggle for a strong democratic movement. [Which is to be even more misleading than the Epic or LaFollette movements which contain economic planks in their programs. – M.J.O.] For this it is necessary first of all to sweep away all the remnants of the feudal state. It is necessary to give the suffrage to all men and women who reached their 18th birthday, also to the soldiers in the army [Forget about the hunger of the boys and girls. Give them the happiness of suffrage that will be a balm to their wound. Incidentally it costs the bosses less than social insurance. – M.J.O.] Full concentration of legislative and executive power in the hands of one chamber! Let your Party open up a serious campaign under these slogans! Let it arouse millions of workers, let it conquer power through the drive of the masses. [Hurrah for a new Ebert-Noske-Scheidemann-Ramsay McDonald government. – M.J.O.] This at any rate would be a serious attempt of struggle against fascism and war. [In the same way as Severing, Otto Bauer and Julius Deutsch fought against fascism and war. – M.J.O.] We, Bolsheviks, would retain the right to explain to the workers the insufficiency of democratic slogans; we could not take upon ourselves the political responsibility for the Social-Democratic government; but we would honestly help you in the struggle for such a. government [We would help you to deceive the masses. – M.J.O.] Together with you we would repel all attacks of bourgeois reaction. [And help shoot down workers and farmers who infringe on ‘democratic’ laws in their fight for bread – M.J.O.] More than that, we would bind ourselves before you not to undertake any revolutionary actions which go beyond the limits of democracy (real democracy) so long as the majority of the workers has not consciously placed itself on the side of revolutionary dictatorship. [It will be our democratic duty to break ‘unlawful’ strikes and to disperse ‘unlawful’ assembly. How dare they go beyond the limits of real bourgeois democracy! – M.J.O.]” (Trotsky, “Our Present Tasks,” The Militant, December 9, 1933.)

It must be made clear at the outset that when Trotsky addresses himself to the “Socialist workers”, he means the Socialist leaders – those who prevent the Socialist workers from engaging in the real class struggle. It must be noted, secondly, that the program which he proposes is purely reformist. He would help Social-Democracy to become the government in a capitalist State (“honestly” help it); he would help Social-Democracy improve the machinery of the capitalist State; he would bind himself to undertake no actions that go beyond bourgeois democracy (when he says “real democracy” he ought to know that such democracy exists only as the dictatorship of the proletariat – and that every bourgeois democracy, no matter how embellished, is a sham democracy designed as a weapon of the exploiters against the exploited); in other words he undertakes to help fasten upon the workers the rule of the capitalists operating through the instrumentality of bourgeois fake democracy. It must be noted, third, that not in vain did Trotsky omit such vital demands as higher wages, a shorter labor day, unemployment insurance, the right of the oppressed nationalities. For, the moment the workers undertake the fight for such demands, bourgeois legality goes smash. The limits of bourgeois democracy are overstepped. Trotsky implicitly promises the Social-Democratic leaders not to undertake such actions, not to countenance them. Moreover, he knows well that when the Social-Democrats are in power they will use the State armed forces against the workers if they undertake such actions. When he appeals to the Social-Democrats to join with him, he is forced to confine himself to such innocuous demands as one chamber and the lowering of the voting age. It is only here that the Social-Democrats can meet him half way. And it is on such a program that he is willing to bind up the fate of the Trotskyites with the fate of the Social-Democratic leaders.

Once more we have before us the petty bourgeois who is panic-stricken. He has seen the advent of fascism. He believes that fascism has come to stay. He believes that the working class is crushed. He calumniates the Communist Party of Germany, saying that it is dead when in reality it lives and fights. He does not wish to see the forces making for a social revolution. He does not wish to understand that once the masses rise – and wherever they rise – they must fight for their lives, against hunger, against annihilation at the hands of finance capital – and that means fight against the capitalist State whether in its fascist or in its democratic form. He does not wish to realize that the workers – the masses of the workers, the majority of the workers – will join the banner of struggle against the capitalists, which is always a struggle undermining the capitalist State. He wants to keep the masses of workers from engaging in the struggle against capitalism under Communist leadership. He appeals to the Social-Democratic leaders for a united front on this program. No wonder he is against the united front as built by the Communist Parties. Such united front is directed against capitalism, it does not build fortresses for capitalism. It comes to destroy them.

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