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
Pragmatism Unveiled self- governance, which though initially limited to the worker barrios, found its way into the workplace and the political sphere through the CNT. From syndicate centers and worker ateneos to anarchosyndicalist rhetoric and direct action, CNT members became immersed in a culture that not only provided them with a unique collective identity, but also with a common language.26 Variance in Meaning(s): Situational Context and Intended Audience of Revolution-Speak The danger in presuming to determine the intended meanings of anarchosyndicalist revolu- tionary rhetoric is in becoming overly reductionist. Within the CNT, the plethora of factions inevitably resulted in numerous and varied interpretations of the meaning of revolutionary language. The meanings might change depending on the speaker's intentions, the intended audience, and the audience's prior understanding of the use of such rhetoric, its interpre- tation of the speaker's motives in using the rhetoric, and its reaction to these understood motives.27 To cite some examples: for a radical faista anarchist, references to treintista revo- lutionary syndicalism might be understood to be, at the very least, descafeinadas (decaf- feinated). At the very most they might be interpreted as reformist tendencies that directly betrayed the CNT's antipolitical position and the potential success of a social revolution.28 Moderates, on the other hand, could find in the radicals' use of revolutionary discourse any- thing from nalve and simplistic beliefs in the viability of a spontaneous revolt all the way to a betrayal of the CNT cause through unnecessary waste of precious organizational resources and incitement of harsh governmental repression that undermined organizational strength and, therefore, the possibility of carrying out a successful revolutionary general strike that would topple the capitalist system.29 Outsiders also read a variety of interpretations into the CNT's use of revolutionary language. For factory management and the socially privileged it might invoke fear of the "volatile" popular masses. For government authorities it could represent anything from a threat to local authority and social stability to a direct challenge to the government's very ex- istence.30 For leftist political and labor groups such as the UGT or PSOE, the propagation of a proposed solution to the inadequacies of capitalist society that was both more radical and had more popular support than their own placed them in an uncomfortable position, caught dangling between reformism and radicalism. Without the radicalizing influence of the CNT, would the UGT have taken such a drastic turn in its approach to political participation after losing its influence in the national government in late 1933?31 The meaning of revolutionary language also varied widely based on time and situa- tion. For example, a factory owner's concern or fear of a worker insurrection-whether real or unfounded-fluctuated depending on a variety of temporal and geography specific cir- cumstances that included, but were not limited to: the recent history of labor conflicts; the 35
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