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
NATION AND CONFLICT IN MODERN SPAIN economic situation of both the factory and the workers; the organizational strength of the CNT in the factory, in the local worker neighborhood and at the larger regional and national level; the recent history of confrontation, whether violent or not, of CNT syndicates with local authorities; and the existence of larger regional or national labor or political conflicts. There were also the intended (and unintended) reactions to the use of revolutionary language, which were typically included in the narrative explanation of the larger revolu- tionary strategy, but which responded more to practical everyday concerns and objectives. Though robbing a bank was often justified as a proto-revolutionary forced expropriation of capitalist wealth, it was more often motivated by the practical need for cash to fund affinity group activities or to support families of imprisoned militants, if not simply for personal en- richment.32 Affinity groups often stretched the definition of the revolution to fit the action and ensure its acceptance as a "revolutionary" deed. The insistence by Los Solidarios strong- men Buenaventura Durruti and Juan Garcia Oliver that all actions, no matter how minute, contributed to the eventual success of the "revolution" is a good example. Of course, this list of interpretations is only representative. Within each of these broad- ly defined groups the opinions differed widely, providing us with a potentially endless list of understandings of what the appearance of the word "revolution" in Solidaridad Obrera or the proud proclamation of the "workers' revolution" during a labor strike might actu- ally have meant. This is especially so if we consider that the CNT's antipolitical rhetoric was often inconsistent with its organizational practice. While the syndicate militancy staunchly rejected any direct participation in the political process, throwing out any member who joined a political party, many within the CNT in fact were not averse to manipulating the political system and the legislative process in Spain to the syndicate's advantage when the occasion arose. CNT syndicates often used labor conflicts and strikes to pressure national and regional parliaments into passing favorable legislation.33 In addition, its leadership often allowed, and in some cases actively encouraged, syndicate members to vote for preferred candidates in regional and national governmental elections.34 Both moderates and radicals within the CNT had negotiated their opposition to the Primo de Rivera dictatorship with political parties, and even the most ardent revolutionaries welcomed the Second Republic with open arms. In early May 1931, the CNT national committee published a manifesto in Solidaridad Obrera directly linking the CNT's future with that of the Republic.3 The famed revolutionist Buenaventura Durruti even wrote an article in Solidaridad Obrera asserting that Francesc Macia' was the only political leader capable of proclaiming libertarian com- munism in Catalonia.36 Although many saw in the three ochos the spark of revolution, there were also reactions to shifts in state politics and attempts to redirect state policies to better benefit the CNT's pragmatic interests.37 Though the instigators of the ocho revolutionary insurrections had perhaps hoped that they would lead to a mass popular uprising, these antiestablishment actions were more immediately designed to influence the establishment, its operation, and the CNT's place within it, not outside of it.38 With this in mind, I would 36
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