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
Pragmatism Unveiled factions accused each other of diverging from the "revolutionary" path and lacking ideologi- cal purity. The primary objective of rival factions was to weaken opponents by accusing them of collaborationism and rhetorical contradictions. What better way to do so than to accuse them of adulterating the sacrosanct anarchosyndicalist ideology? Factional confrontations proved especially fierce at regional and national syndicate congresses. Without an explicit ideological framework within which to justify organizational procedure, the CNT depended on congresses to determine policy. To this end, the fulfillment of congress agreements be- came a heavily exploited legitimizing tool.47 When a group or faction could claim to enforce agreements reached at a congress, it achieved the highest degree of authority attainable within the CNT. This had been the case since the syndicate's inception. Every major struc- tural change in the CNT was introduced and passed at regional or national congresses, from the Sindicatos Unicos drawn up at the La Comedia Congress in 1919 to the restructuring of the syndicate into Federaciones Nacionales de Industria at the 1931 Madrid Congress.48 Control over organizational congresses became critical to obtaining influence within the CNT. Moderates and radicals alike used agreements reached at congresses both to le- gitimize their actions and to exclude those who opposed them. In the first months of the Republic, moderates controlled more leadership positions, had more delegates attending the Madrid National Congress, and consequently monopolized policy agreements reached at that meeting.49 Radicals, unable to stop moderate proposals from being passed, stood by in frustration, but soon learned their lesson. Infiltrating important syndicate positions from the bottom up, the radicals came to control a larger and larger portion of the CNT hierarchy50 This shift was reflected in their increasing influence and eventual domination of subsequent congresses. After radicals overtook moderates at the helm of the syndicate, they used the same tool of legitimacy-the fulfillment of accords reached at congresses-to justify the organizational policies they implemented.5 In 1931, the moderate treintistas lost their influence within the CNT hierarchy because of their rapprochement with a Republican government which, even though leftist in orientation, had clearly turned against the CNT's interests on the street.52 In turn, radical faistas gained power using a fagade of repudiation of the Republican government and insistence on radical revolutionary action. Antiestablishment Stance and the Success or Failure of the CNT Since its inception, the CNT had enjoyed its greatest periods of success when the syndicate's efforts concentrated on centralizing organizational structure and coordinating effective la- bor actions. Between 1915 and 1919 and again from 1930 to 1932, union membership numbers soared3 Significant improvements in salary and working conditions were obtained as strength and efficacy in labor negotiations increased. However, this process drew the CNT closer, both physically and metaphorically, to the political and social establishment. In the eyes of certain militant factions, this threatened to undermine the CNT's antipolitical 39
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