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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 37

Pragmatism Unveiled 
argue that there existed a practical use for revolutionary rhetoric that
both rank-and-file 
and militants acknowledged. Revolutionary language served the much more nuanced
complex purpose of intraorganizational communication among cenetistas. The
dependency of the militancy and the membership tailored a language that both
could agree 
on but which was also flexible enough to allow each group to insert a meaning
that would 
best represent its interests and objectives, whether revolutionary or pragmatic
in nature. 
Revolutionary Language as Identifying Idiom 
That anti-statism was the conceptual cornerstone of the anarchosyndicalist
movement im- 
plied a total rejection of the established state and, ultimately, its destruction.
The outright 
refutation of the state set the CNT apart from all other organizations, even
other leftist 
organizations that were at least nominally revolutionary. Because revolutionary
was the most visible expression of the movement's anti-statist stance, it
became an identify- 
ing idiom of the anarchosyndicalist movement. First and foremost, the use
of revolutionary 
language within CNT circles was a prerequisite to being accepted as a true
cenetista, no mat- 
ter whether one was a radical revolutionary or a moderate syndicalist. Maintaining
a clearly 
separate position from the establishment was critical to the credibility
of the CNT as the 
only major political outsider, not only metaphorically, but also physically
detached from the 
political process. Revolutionary rhetoric served as a type of organizational
carnet (identifica- 
tion card) that identified one as a member of the union and a follower of
the movement. 
From organizational congresses to barroom debates, using the rhetoric was
equivalent to the 
displaying of the carnet necessary to enter into discussions about organizational
All CNT factions at least nominally supported the revolution as the syndicate's
mate objective. Militants did not have to agree on their definition of the
revolution, but they 
had to agree that they rejected the state and sought its ultimate destruction
through the 
revolution, whatever form that might take. Just as radical anarchists referenced
the revolu- 
tion, so too did moderate elements, including the much maligned treintistas,
who in their 
impacting 1931 manifesto directly referred to the revolution as their long-term
Not including revolutionary rhetoric in one's dialogue quickly placed one
outside of the 
CNT's inner circles and dangerously close to the "political" world.
As such, everyone within 
the CNT was required to pay homage to the revolutionary dogma. Those who
did not do 
so risked being expelled from the CNT and the anarchosyndicalist movement.
It happened 
to Communists Joaquin Maurin and Andres Nin in the early 1920s, to treintista
ates Joan Peir6 and Angel Pestafia in late 1931, and to large sections of
the Catalan CNT 
regional in 1932.41 
Tied so closely to the CNT's raison d'etre, the "revolution" became
a large umbrella 
term used to justify the logic of actions undertaken by the many factions
operating within 
the CNT or in its name. Interpreting actions through the lens of the CNT's
larger revolu- 

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