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ICC public forum 8/7/06: Spain 1936-7

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Alf's picture
Alf
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Jun 21 2006 11:33
ICC public forum 8/7/06: Spain 1936-7

On Saturday 8 July the ICC will be holding a public meeting in London (2pm, Conway Hall, Red Lion Square, Holborn, WC1). The meeting will be on the war in Spain, which began 70 years ago, with Franco’s attempted coup on July 19 1936.

We have advertised the meeting in our paper World Revolution as ‘Spain 1936-37 the Italian communist left and the Friends of Durruti’.

We will start by presenting the analysis made by the Italian communist left of the events of July 1936, which can be summarised as follows the Francoist putsch was countered by the working class, fighting with its own methods mass strike, fraternisation with the troops, self-arming of the workers. But this initial proletarian response was very quickly diverted from its logical goal of insurrection against the bourgeois state towards a struggle in defence of the Popular Front; and, in a global context of growing military conflicts, the ‘civil’ war in Spain was rapidly transformed into an inter-imperialist war, a dress rehearsal for the second world massacre.

Against the mobilisation of the working class on this terrain, the Italian left refused to support the Republic and called for class struggle against both camps. In this they were extremely (though not totally) isolated, because the majority of those who called themselves revolutionaries came out in one way or another with the position of ‘fight fascism first, then deal with the Republic’ – in short, with a more or less open support for the Republic. This famously included the CNT in Spain, which sent ministers into the Republican state.

We will then focus on the events of May 1937 and the Friends of Durruti group. For the Italian left, the strikes and barricades ‘behind the lines’ in Barcelona in May 37 were a striking confirmation of its analysis the working class had returned to its own methods of struggle against the whole of the Popular Front regime. The Friends of Durruti group, which had emerged from within the CNT as a working class reaction to the official betrayals, attempted to live up to the responsibilities of a revolutionary organisation during these events. The Friends of Durruti was a genuine expression of the wider revolutionary aspirations which had come to the surface in July 1936 and which made their last stand in May 1937. At the same time it was unable to make a complete break from the CNT and anarchist ideology, which prevented it from drawing all the necessary conclusions from this experience.

We think that this meeting provides an opportunity to hold a constructive debate about the lessons of these historic events. We naturally encourage all our contacts and sympathisers to attend, and at the same time invite those less familiar with, or even highly critical of, left communist positions to come along and put forward their views. We will ensure maximum time for discussion and for the presentation of alternative interpretations of the war and the role of the Friends of Durruti group.

Contacts and readers of our press who are unable to attend the meeting are invited to send e-mails or letters dealing with the subject of the forum. These will be read out and discussed at the meeting.

We particularly encourage participants on the www.libcom.org forums to respond to this invitation, both by making responses on this thread and by coming to the meeting. Again, we will read out and discuss contributions to the meeting posted on this thread by those who are unable to come to the meeting to put forward their views in person.

Alf's picture
Alf
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Jun 22 2006 10:02

Jack, you will be welcomed with open arms. Bring your friends....

Beltov
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Jun 24 2006 11:01

Hi,

For those that are interested in preparing for this discussion we have a number of articles on Spain 36-37 and the Friends of Durruti collected here:

http://en.internationalism.org/taxonomy/term/65/9

We're in the process of scanning and publishing another article from Bilan (on the 'July Days') that was in the International Review #6 (1976), and one on the 'Myth of the Anarchist Collectives' from IR15. They should be up by the end of next week.

Beltov.

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Jun 25 2006 12:20

Obviously, I won't be there, but there is a discusion about the Spanish War on the end of the Kronsadt thread:

http://libcom.org/forums/viewtopic.php?t=10254&start=45

Dev

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Jul 5 2006 14:19

There was a good discussion developing on the back up forum around the title for our meeting on Spain 36 - can this be carried over either to here or to the Thought section?

Repeats invitation for people to come and continue discussions live on 8 July.

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Jul 9 2006 15:58

How was it? Who went?

Devrim

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Jul 9 2006 23:45

The meeting was a first in the sense that three comrades from libcom came along, Jack, Jef and Grace. Plus another fairly regular participant, and five ICC comrades.

There were some major practical problems. I had prepared a presentation which we had discussed a couple of says earlier. I had planned to come with another comrade and jaycee. Before departing the comrade phoned to say his dad was in hospital and he had to cancel. Shortly after I had another call, this time from a family friend saying her baby had died. So I rushed to the same hospital with my wife and jaycee to do what little we could. I won't go into details but you can imagine it was very traumatic. Jaycee felt too upset to go on to the meeting but I decided to go, even though I was well over an hour late

Anyway, the other comrades improvised a presentation and when I arrived there was a discussion going on with Jack, mainly around the question of the CNT and its role in Spain; also about whether it was possible, to draw general conclusions about the nature of a whole period of class struggle, as Bilan did about the period of the 1930s which they saw as a period of historic defeat for the working class. I thought the discussion was on a rather high level. Jef and Grace didn't speak, but at the end Grace said she had found the meeting interesting; she said she hadn't spoken because she didn't know enough about the events we were discussing. In a PM later Jack said he had enjoyed the discussion.

Unfortunately, the libcom trio had to leave a bit early, which left our one other participant surrounded by ICC loonies. But actually he started another interesting discussion, based on a conversation he had with someone he had tried to persuade to come. This person couldn't see the point of discussing events from so distant a past as 1936. So we talked about what are the most 'contemporary' lessons of those events antifascism, war, anarchism and the CNT.

So it was a very small meeting, but I hope that it can be the start of something bigger, a more regular and widespread 'live' discussion of communist politics. Some of course will dismiss the significance of such meetings simply because they are so small. But there are many indications that there is a growing potential to develop a 'culture' of proletarian debate. The evolution of libcom is one sign; the increasing number of serious elements writing to us is another. In any case, as we said on these boards after our last meeting, our forums are there to be used as a focus for debate, and we were very pleased that the three libcom comrades took us up on this.

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Jul 10 2006 13:11

Hi Alf

I was very sorry to read that you had such an upsetting experience on the weekend. My best wishes and solidarity to you, jaycee and the other people in question. Could you also pass on the same to the comrade who has a relative in hospital?

I wasn't able to go to the forum, although I'm definitely planning to attend the one in September.

Jack, Jef, Grace? Do you have any comments on the forum?

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Alf
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Jul 10 2006 16:19

Thanks for those wishes Demo. As it happens I saw the comrade's father and brother in hospital as well. He is Ok and out of hospital. I will pass on your message.

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Jul 10 2006 17:06

I'm glad to hear they're okay at least, and thanks for passing on the message. Words always seem so inadequate for these situations. sad

Beltov
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Jul 20 2006 09:26

Hi,

A longer report on the discussion at this public on the question of Spain 1936/7 and the Friends of Durruti is now available on the ICC's website here:

http://en.internationalism.org/icconline/july_06_forum_report

If anyone has any further reflections on the forum then we'd like to hear them.

The next forums in London and Birmingham will be in mid-September on the question 'What is Communism?'. Further details can be found here:

http://en.internationalism.org/event/2006/09/20/month/all/all/1

B.

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Jul 29 2006 18:34
Demogorgon303 wrote:
Jack, Jef, Grace? Do you have any comments on the forum?

I thought it was interesting although I know so little about the events I was unable to contribute. I was also rather surprised by the invitation to "take a position" on the meeting. Which although it seemed an odd thing to do actually makes a lot of sense, although I would have perhaps phrased it differently.
I did find the presentation to be made from a very specific standpoint, which is hardly surprising as it wa made by a political group, I also felt that the vehemence of the attacks on anarchists was perhaps stronger than the actual arguments, or at least it overshadowed the facts a little.
I'll be unable to go to the next meeting, although if I were to go I'd certainly do some research before hand.