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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 42

nizational crisis, they encouraged an introspective analysis of the organization's
present and 
future.61 For Felipe Alaiz, editor of Solidaridad Obrera, the CNT's problem
resided in its 
tendency toward premature and unorganized actions. The solution, he maintained,
in increased patience and composure when faced with social conflicts.62 Interestingly,
language Alaiz used was remarkably similar to that used by treintista moderates
in describing 
their interpretation of the revolutionary process.63 
Discipline and structure were the strongest messages emerging from the CNT
Revisiting the moderate viewpoints of the early Republican period, the CNT
admitted the need to rebuild the syndicate. Regional committees encouraged
members to 
concentrate single-mindedly on pragmatic labor-related concerns and fortifying
the organi- 
zation.64 This opinion became so prevalent among anarchosyndicalist militants
in early 1934 
that when the Socialist-led leftist worker alliance, Alianza Obrera, organized
an insurrection 
months later in October, CNT syndicates with few exceptions refused to join
the effort, pre- 
ferring to avoid unnecessary confrontation with government authorities. In
fact, the direct 
rejection of violence became a major concern for the syndicate leadership.
A directive issued 
by the Catalan regional committee argued without apprehension that, "Apart
from being 
frankly monstrous, violence for violence's sake and terror for terror's sake
are as sterile as art 
for art's sake. Violence, as an imperative necessity, yes. Violence, as principle,
no. In no way. 
This does not bode well for anarchism.")65 
As building political polarization and social strife broke down the Republic
the spring and early summer of 1936, the CNT had no intention of undermining
government, seeking instead to defend it from a potential rightist coup d'tat.66
At the 
national congress held in Zaragoza in early May, CNT delegates representing
nearly half a 
million members throughout Spain approved a dictum that made official the
moderate turn 
in strategy.67 In order to avoid ideological contradictions, the dictum was
preceded by an 
introductory statement justifying the plethora of labor conflicts and "revolutionary
which had followed the founding of the Second Republic as a necessary channeling
of "the 
people's. . . desire for vindication. . . against the first crimes of the
nascent republican- 
bourgeois democracy.'"68 In addition, the third ocho was interpreted
to have "[saved] the 
revolutionary dignity of the Confederation" and the lack of CNT support
for the October 
1934 revolt outside of Asturias was ascribed to the "confusion that
reigned in the different 
regions" as well as the Socialists' "refusal to accept [the CNT's]
proposals to intervene.'69 
With the revolutionary reputation of the CNT preserved, the dictum went on
to deal with 
the practical priorities of the moment. The first item on a list of changes
necessary in the 
CNT was a direct order to end any and all "sporadic movements organized...without
minimum control, without the circumstances that would indicate an appropriate
for the revolution, and without the necessary preparation to impose itself.
., on the capi- 
talist system.7° It further denounced "conflicts of economic or
other nature organized at 
either the local or national level to protest against determined measures
passed by the gov- 

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