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 anarcho-collectivism of Kropotkin, the revolutionary syndicalism of George Sorel, and the federalism of Pi i Margall, though the theoretical spectrum spread wide enough to include Stirnean and Nietzschean antisocial individualism and such peripheral groups as vegetarians and nudists.'3 In fact, the Federaciodn Anarquista Iberica (Iberian Anarchist Federation, or FAI), the extra-official ideological branch of the CNT dedicated to the integration of la espe- cifica (the anarchist ideal) into the labor syndicate, was founded in 1927 during a gathering of anarcho-nudists on the beaches of Valencia.14 With so many varying tendencies, the only common thread uniting all of the CNT's ideological factions was a strong rejection of the state.'5 This strong anti-statist and, by ex- tension, antiestablishment principle was the most distinctive identifying characteristic of the CNT. It made the syndicate unique and placed it on a different operational plane.'6 Scholars have traditionally considered the CNT's anti-statist stance and the predominant use of revo- lutionary rhetoric that accompanied it convincing enough proof of the revolutionary nature of the movement. After all, had the membership not favored the revolution in some form or another, would it not have opted for other more reformist-oriented labor organizations, such as the Socialist UGT, especially after the entrance of its political arm, the PSOE, into the government in 1931?'7 Members of the CNT must have ultimately preferred the radical alternatives offered by the CNT's revolutionary platform. A new generation of scholars has recently veered away from this previously dominant analytical paradigm to argue instead the importance of practical factors in explaining the popularity and success of the CNT.18 Mercedes Vilanova and Anna Monjo's extensive oral histories have confirmed what for years was claimed by many within the CNT, that a great majority of the union's membership was more concerned with practical bread-and-butter issues than with the coming of a social revolution.'9 As these recent contributions have re- vealed, workers chose to enroll in the CNT in large part because of the success of its labor tactics and its defense of workers' practical interests. This new interpretational paradigm dif- ferentiates between militants, who typically understood their role in the CNT in ideological terms and included some type of belief in the eventual coming of the revolution, and the rank-and-file, who had little if any knowledge of revolutionary theory and saw in the CNT an effective representative for the attainment of practical improvements in the workplace.2" Other new studies have further expanded our understanding of the role played by the CNT outside of the factory or workplace to include the worker barrios (neighborhoods), where it is argued the union's militants helped create a separate worker's "public sphere" and fulfilled the role of service providers for a worker society that had largely been marginalized by the dominant social and political groups and the state.2' The CNT represented an alter- native social and cultural framework that rationalized the structures of everyday life for the underprivileged in the socioeconomic order. Within the syndicate, the worker found protec- tion from employer, church, and state repression. The CNT offered workers a distinct set of social norms and cultural mores and a rapid and effective executive element that resolved 3 3
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