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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 36

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
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
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
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
insurrections had perhaps hoped that they would lead to a mass popular uprising,
antiestablishment actions were more immediately designed to influence the
its operation, and the CNT's place within it, not outside of it.38 With this
in mind, I would 

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