The “Victory” in Spain – Paul Mattick


International Council Correspondence, Vol. 2, no. 5, April 1936

The revolutionary wave which in Spain has been alternately advancing and receding since 1930, tho as a general trend growing stronger, has againd led to a defeat of the reaction and to the victory of the “progressive” forces. After the deposing of Alfonso XIII in 1931, a republican government was formed in which the Socialists also were represented. This government, with Zamorra as prime minister, directed itself forthwith against the workers, under the well-approved slogan of “law and order”. In the elections of November 1933, the parties of the Right received the majority; a government of the Center was formed which did away with the unessential reforms of the previous government and operated in the interest of all the country’s reactionary elements. In 1934, Spain experienced a great wave of strikes which, however, proved of no avail. The movements directed against the reaction culminated in the bloodily suppressed October uprising. The lack of unity among the ruling classes themselves bring in its train on government crisis after the other. The elections of February 16th resulted in a victory for the newly formed “People’s Block”, composed of Republicans, Socialists and Communists. The governing fuctions were taken over by the left-republican bourgeoisie; the power is in the hands of people who are unwilling to use it in favor of the workers, and so are compelled to employ it against them. Azana and his cabinet represent the interests of bourgeois society and are enemies of proletariat. They have made a few unessential concessions to the workers, such as the liberation of political prisoners (who, of course, can be arrested again tomorrow), in order to calm the masses temporarily until the state power is sufficiently reconsolidated to prevent any real change of the workers’ situation. In this conecction they are being supported by all shades of socialists and communists. Workers are still being fed with bullets, and are called upon to observe law and order.

The “victory” in Spain is a victory of the labor fakers. The confidence still reposed in these persons by great masses of the workers will be dearly paid for. Nor will the poverty of the faarming population be relieved, as this government is incapable of any essential reforms. But even the breaking up of the large estates, which is not at all likely, would leave the workers’ situation unchanged, except for increasing the number of their enemies. It is quite impossible as yet to speak of a victory of the workers in Spain. A change of government can mean nothing to them, and that is the most that has yet come about. If the workers were actually to go farther, if they should begin to take up seriously with the socio-economic overturn, they would have to recognize forthwith that their present “friends” are their enemies. The people’s-front government is resolved to club them down just as any fascist dictatorship would do, if they should venture to over-step the bounds of the explotation economy. The struggle of the spanish workers on their own account has yet to begin; they are still fighting for others and for illusions. They will havve to recognize their present “friends” as more dangerous than their enemies of yesterday. The sourvy rabble of the Communist Party “will support Azana’s government in the measure in which it holds to its obligations and carries out the program of the People’s Front”, as we read in the Bundschau of February 27, 1936. Claridad, the social-democratic organ of Largo Caballero, writes: “We shall be on the side of the government to carry out with all necessary firmness the common program”. What can really be the program of professional gunmen of capitalism a la Azana? Or what can be expected from such professional labor traitors as Caballero? So long as these people make politics in Spain, it is nonsense to speak of a victory there of the workers.

The People’s Block of today will leave capitalist society intact, but sooner of later new uprisings will occur in spite of the Block, for the present government has neither the will nor the power to effect essential economic changes. Apart from the spontaneus factor at work in conditions of impoverishment and which leads to the creation of mass movements, it is also improbable that the spanish Syndicalists will continue to leave the field of the labor movement so uncontested to the competing organizations of the Communists and Socialists. The weakness and disunity of the ruling classes themselves, the impossibility of progressive capitalist development in Spain under the present conditions of the permanent world crisis, will sooner or later abolish the present pseudo-democratism in Spain and lead to a new bourgeois dictatorship, unless the working and impoverished masses of Spain take up arms and proceed against the present people’s-front government, begin thruout the country with the expropriation of the owners, and exercise the power on their own account. That may come about in case the mass movements slip from the hands of the political trucksters. We may then be presented with the prospect of something more hopeful in Spain than the usual defeat which the workers endure when they restrict themselves to questions of who or what party holds the reins of government.

All transcriptions were done by Felipe Andrade. Did you find any mistakes? Suggestions? Send e-mail to:
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