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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 35

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
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
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
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
and incitement of harsh governmental repression that undermined organizational
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,
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
tion. For example, a factory owner's concern or fear of a worker insurrection-whether
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 

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