Chapter 10: The "anti-fascist" bureaucracy

10

The “anti-fascist” bureaucracy

The participation of the representatives of the CNT and the FAI in the Committee of Militias, in Barcelona, first, and then in the central government and other government posts, errors, deviations—betrayals of principle, we would call them—which come to mind and do not admit of any justifications, entails, inevitably, besides the resurgence of the authority principle in those who had rejected and combated it, the contamination of the microbe of the bureaucracy, inherent in every state system.

The trade union bureaucracy was among the operational modalities that the CNT militants were familiar with, but which they scarcely practiced. Unlike our trade union federations, which fought against and never allowed the development of a bureaucracy, in Spain the bureaucracy made headway, but not without a certain amount of resistance.

Thus, they had hardly even been established in their luxurious office suites when the “ministerialists” were besieged and surrounded by many elements who were quite ready to cooperate, from the vantage point of public offices, not for the triumph of the social revolution, since the latter had already been stifled, but for the prosecution of the war and we are sure that we are not mistaken when we claim that these people had been the most fervent advocates of the new theory of “direct action”, of the “collaboration imposed by the supreme and unavoidable necessity of defeating fascism”. And like every human being that has any education and authoritarian sentiments, the brand new bureaucrats would behave just like bureaucrats, as their positions required, leaving at the door of the government buildings the disguise that they had worn for so long.

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Concerning the question of how these bureaucrats behaved we can get a vague idea from a few fragmentary concepts that appeared in “anti-fascist” newspapers. As we may read in Ruta, the organ of the Libertarian Youth in Barcelona, of May 18, 1937:

“There are some ‘responsible’ comrades who, due to the fact that they have occupied official posts, forget their origins and purpose. We shall remind them that in the exercise of a temporary function, they should not renege on the principles that are the heart of our organizations. In order to remind them we are ready to show them before they imprudently revalorize the state.”

In support of these concepts we shall recall that Santillán, when he was serving as Minister of the Economy in the Generalitat, felt alarmed by the “passion displayed in the battle for more portfolios, for more extensive intervention in government affairs” and what seemed “strange” to him was “the spectacle of our comrades fighting with all the passions of the politicians of the past to obtain high positions, to be invested with power …” as well as “the passion with which they debated and minutely analyzed the laws and decrees, and even engaged in the most detailed exegeses”.

These paragraphs will give us some idea of the grave problem posed by the new bureaucrats who, besides representing a heavy dead weight for the Spanish people that was shedding its blood in the struggle, was a pernicious outcome of the “circumstantial” operational methods engaged in by the cenetista and faísta strategists, and offered an opportunity for a multitude of individuals who did not possess even a shred of revolutionary commitment, to assume positions as petty little desk jockey bosses, with all the prerogatives inherent to such an elevated hierarchy, who, once they were entrenched in these positions, could give free rein to their most pathological impulses and committed despicable and unscrupulous deeds.

And what is even more lamentable, many of these elements who came from such a background—who were quite well known in the specificist camp and its derivatives—in order to “orient” the achievements of the Spanish people, found a suitable environment to exhibit their acrobatic qualities, their temperamental interpretations and tranquilly fit right into the machinery of the bureaucracy. And once they returned from their experimental laboratory, with no other trophy of war than their typewriters, they have to continue, without either hard work or glory, sowing confusionism and justifying their actions to their hierarchical superiors, since for them the hustle and bustle and the cruelty of life in the trenches and the clamor of combat were only rumors, painful and sad, which reached them by indirect routes.