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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 38

tionary objectives, no matter how vaguely defined, granted them credence
and acceptability. 
That which was considered or labeled as illegal or immoral in "bourgeois
society" became 
acceptable or morally legal within the alternate rhetorical framework of
the anarchosyndi- 
calist movement.42 Revolutionary talk also served the purpose of increasing
leverage vis- - 
vis the establishment, whether government officials or factory management.
threats put pressure on employers fearful of a general strike or resorting
to violence to 
resolve a labor conflict. Showing up with a pistol under one's shirt to intimidate
a factory 
owner in negotiations of a new labor contract or discussions over the firing
of an employee 
from the factory might not have been revolutionary actions, but CNT militants
certainly did 
not mind the panic and fear it instilled in employers.43 Even those cenetistas
most adamantly 
opposed to the use of violence did not completely reject its use, acknowledging
its utility in 
certain cases.44 Diego Abad de Santilln, an outspoken opponent of the CNT's
in assassination attempts, admitted the difficulty of denouncing such incidents.
"I did not 
even mention those types of acts-so easily justified psychologically to avoid
draining our 
strength, which we preferred to employ on more significant and longer-ranging
I would argue that discussions of the "revolution" were not always
concerned with 
the long-range goal of radical social transformation. In fact, they were,
in most cases, veiled 
discussions of tactical preferences and the practical employment of organizational
Rather than read anarchist ideological dogma as a guide book or an instruction
manual to be 
executed in a precise and predetermined manner, I believe that most CNT militants
saw in 
the ideology a point of departure, one that proposed a repertoire of alternative
and approaches to the harsh realities of industrial society. Each militant
adapted the dogma 
to best fit the local situation-the neighborhood, the syndicate, or the affinity
lishing a self-serving set of principles and beliefs which, in the mind of
the militant, created 
logical tactics to be used in the affairs in which he was engaged, from syndicate
and management negotiation to framing perspectives on the revolution. In
this manner, the 
revolutionary utopia came to represent something different to each militant.
As such, revo- 
lutionary talk served to identify an affinity or action group's modus operandi.
With this in mind, it can be argued that militants developed their ideological
tations of the revolution based on their favored organizational and operational
In other words, the way in which they operated in the workplace and worker
hood influenced their understanding of the revolutionary process. Accustomed
to operat- 
ing individually or in small numbers, radical anarchist members of the Los
Solidarios action 
group found large-scale regimented operations requiring the coordination
of a large num- 
ber of workers under restrictive organizational structures to be foreign
and disingenuous.46 
Moderate treintistas, on the other hand, prioritized structure and centralization
and, as such, 
could not conceive of a spontaneous and unplanned revolution. Their revolution
had to fol- 
low a well-organized, well-thought-out plan. 
Because membership in the CNT required commitment to the revolution, opposing

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