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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
(2008)

Getman-Eraso, Jordi W.
Pragmatism unveiled : the meanings of revolutionary rhetoric in Spanish anarchosyndicalism,   pp. 31-50


Page 40

NATION AND CONFLICT IN MODERN SPAIN 
and antiestablishment stance, the ideological basis for its raison d'etre
and the source of its 
popular appeal.54 
This was a central paradox of the CNT: while legality typically brought great
numbers 
of workers into the union and increased its effectiveness in the workplace,
drawing near to 
the political establishment and the accompanying increase in the potential
for collaboration 
was difficult, if not impossible, to accept for radical anarchist elements.
It was also difficult 
for a large part of a constituency weaned on direct action and the revolutionary
rhetoric 
which was the foundation of the anarchosyndicalist movement and which justified
its unique 
identity. 
Being outsiders, anarchosyndicalists could criticize the establishment and
count any 
successes as great victories against the bourgeois-dominated political and
economic system, 
without having to accept any responsibility for the system's shortcomings.
In addition, the 
CNT's own failures could be easily justified as the result of government
repression, manage- 
ment intransigence, or simply the imperfection of the capitalist system.
Any alteration to this 
winning formula (i.e., the passing of centralizing measures such as the SindicatosUnicos
in 
1918 or the Federacionesdelndustria in 1931) caused great consternation among
the move- 
ment's more radical factions because in their minds it meant drawing closer
to the political or 
economic organisms, something that threatened the CNT's position as a political
outsider.55 
In order to avoid this eventuality, it became necessary periodically to expel
or marginalize 
those who "betrayed the revolution." 
Ironically enough, these internal shakeups always came at moments of greatest
strength 
and highest achievement for the CNT. In 1931, the possibility that the treintista
moder- 
ates might steer the syndicate toward collaboration with the political and
socioeconomic 
establishment provoked deep internal divisions and opened the door to more
radical faista 
factions to "correct" the union's path. The establishment itself
exacerbated the situation, 
especially the Socialist-influenced Left Republican government. It was increasingly
believed 
that the "Republic of Order" had betrayed its commitment to the
cause of the Spanish 
workers and the poor by failing to institute effective social and political
reforms, by resisting 
direct worker action in the factories and farms, and by using the police
to physically repress 
workers in the streets. 
With the excuse of cleansing the movement of "traitors to the revolutionary
cause," 
radicals gained control of the CNT hierarchy at the 1932 Sabadell Congress
and steered the 
union onto a more radical and, it was argued, "revolutionary" path.56
This strategic direc- 
tion and the tactical actions radicals implemented resembled in great measure
those utilized 
by the movement in times of political repression and clandestinity, the height
of subversive 
antiestablishment existence.57 The support of a considerable portion of the
syndicate mili- 
tancy for the radicals' rise to power in 1931 convinced the revolutionists
within their ranks 
that they were free to organize revolutionary gymnastic exercises. Initially
they found little 
resistance from within the union. However, support waned as each passing
ocho unleashed 
40 


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