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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

Page 31

Pragmatism Unveiled: The Meanings 
of Revolutionary Rhetoric in 
Spanish Anarchosyndicalism 
.    i  heI ast six decades have produced considerable research devoted to
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
rightist Nationalists by giving priority to the social revolution.3 Historians
have continued 
this tendency by ascribing the anarchosyndicalist movement and the CNT responsibility
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
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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