Bunk, Brian D., 1968-; Pack, Sasha D.; Scott, Carl-Gustaf (ed.) / Nation and conflict in modern Spain: essays in honor of Stanley G. Payne
Getman-Eraso, Jordi W.
Pragmatism unveiled : the meanings of revolutionary rhetoric in Spanish anarchosyndicalism, pp. 31-50
CHAPTER 3 Pragmatism Unveiled: The Meanings of Revolutionary Rhetoric in Spanish Anarchosyndicalism JoiRi W. GETMAN-ERAsO . i heI ast six decades have produced considerable research devoted to determining who was to blame for the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939). The anarchosyndi- calist labor union Confederacion Nacional del Trabajo (National Confederation -i,. of Labor or CNT), has always been at the heart of this debate. Contemporary interpretations of the Civil War pointed overwhelmingly to the CNT syndicates as crucial to the breakdown of the Second Republic and as the leading instigators of the accompany- ing social revolution. At the beginning of the conflict, rightist conspirators justified their coup against the Republican government as a preemptive strike against an imminent leftist revolutionary insurrection led by anarchosyndicalists and socialists.2 Within the leftist camp, Communists and Socialists accused the CNT of undermining the war effort against the rightist Nationalists by giving priority to the social revolution.3 Historians have continued this tendency by ascribing the anarchosyndicalist movement and the CNT responsibility for the political polarization of the spring and summer of 1936.4 For years the CNT's militancy had preached the overthrow of the capitalist system and the establishment of comunismo libertario (libertarian communism).' CNT syndicates rose up on three occasions between 1932 and 1933, hoping to incite popular revolt.6 In 1934, the Socialist-led revolt in the province of Asturias received active CNT support.7 Although all these insurrectionary attempts failed and the CNT was severely repressed by state authori- ties after each incident, new threats of insurgency continued to appear in the anarchosyn- dicalist press. Indeed, what seized the imagination of contemporaries was the threatening revolutionary character of the movement. Socialists of the Union General de Trabajadores (UGT) and Partido Socialista Obrero Espahol (PSOE) and the Communists in the Partido Comunista Espahol (PCE) proclaimed similar revolutionary aims, but their participation in the political system implied an acceptance of the state and the political superstructure, at least 3 1
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