The Kate Sharpley Library team discuss Guillamón's work on the CNT's Defence Committees in relation to what we know about the start of the Spanish Revolution and why it's important.
The photographic images of the Spanish revolution are implanted in our memories and too often taken for granted. Iconic figures like Durruti blinking at a notebook or standing smiling in a circle of comrades, Ascaso, rifle on his shoulder, enjoying a chat and a smoke in the bright Barcelona sun shortly before he is killed. Most of all, though, there are the crowds.
Theses on the Spanish Civil War and the revolutionary situation created on July 19, 1936 - BALANCE (Agustín Guillamón)
A 2001 text summarizing the results of the research carried out by Agustín Guillamón for the Spanish journal, BALANCE, concerning the lessons of the Spanish Civil War in Catalonia, denying the existence of “dual power” in Catalonia in 1936, discussing the struggles of the CNT rank and file against militarization and in favor of socialization, emphasizing the revolutionary potential of the ubiquitous committees and their neutralization and eventual destruction due to a lack of coordination and centralization, and claiming that the proletarian revolution requires the destruction of the capitalist state and the creation of a centralized workers power based on workers councils.
Theses on the Spanish Civil War and the Revolutionary Situation Created on July 19, 1936 in Catalonia - BALANCE 1
“The working class is revolutionary or it is nothing.”
Karl Marx, Letter to Schweitzer (February 13, 1865)
- 1. BALANCE. Cuadernos de historia del movimiento obrero, Cuaderno No. 21, Barcelona, June 2001 (2nd edition).
In this article published in June 1937 in the journal, Rätekorrespondenz, the Group of International Communists of Holland harshly criticize the CNT and FAI in the wake of the May Events in Barcelona, condemning the anarchosyndicalist leadership for its collaboration with the government, ideological confusions regarding trade union control of the economy, illusions regarding antifascist unity and the pact with the UGT.
Revolution and Counterrevolution in Spain - Groep van Internationale Communisten (1937)
A complete transcript of a 1977 interview with José Peirats, in which the Spanish historian and former militant of the CNT and FAI reminisces about his youth and discusses many of the controversies that plagued the CNT before as well as during the civil war, including the impact of the Russian Revolution, Angel Pestaña’s mission to Russia in 1920, the Asturian insurrection of October 1934, the CNT’s policy of collaboration with the government during the war, and the role of the Stalinists in the Republican coalition government’s counterrevolution against the anarchist revolutionary achievements of July 1936.
Interview with José Peirats – Josep Alemany
A short article summarizing the history and transformation of the CNT’s Defense Committees in Barcelona during the 1930s from their origins as street fighting units to their reorganization as integrated combat/intelligence formations, to their suppression by the Republic after the working class defeat of May 1937.
From Defense Cadres to Popular Militias – Augustín Guillamón
The defense cadres were formed shortly after the proclamation of the Republic, and were a continuation of the armed defense groups of the years of pistolerismo.
From Shapiro’s report to the Presentation of October 1934
Barricades in Barcelona: The CNT from the victory of July 1936 to the necessary defeat of May 1937 - Agustín Guillamón
First published in 2006, this book, focusing on Barcelona in 1936-1937, provides an account of the street battles and victory of July 1936, examines the defense and neighborhood committees that defeated the uprising in the city, and addresses the issue of the decision of the CNT-FAI superior committees to collaborate with counterrevolutionary parties and social groups to preserve anti-fascist unity at any price and how this decision culminated in May 1937 in the defeat of the revolution, with special emphasis on the emerging discontent among the anarchosyndicalist rank and file and the role of The Friends of Durruti Group in crystallizing opposition to official CNT policies.
Collectivizations: The constructive achievements of the Spanish Revolution. Essays, documents and reports - Augustin Souchy and Paul Folgare
Now available in English for the first time, this survey of industrial and agricultural, urban and rural collectives in libertarian Spain, written by the Foreign Affairs Secretary of the CNT, Augustin (Agustin in Spanish) Souchy, and Paul Folgare (or Polgare, a/k/a Pal Partos), first published in Spanish in 1937 by Tierra y Libertad, complements the more well known works of Gaston Leval and Sam Dolgoff, and despite its blatantly propagandistic purposes, nonetheless frankly acknowledges some of the shortcomings of the collectivization process, which the authors generally characterize at one point as “collective capitalism” and in another instance as “the socialization of poverty”.
In this 2013 interview, Agustín Guillamón, the author of Ready for Revolution: The CNT Defense Committees in Barcelona, 1933-1938, discusses the Spanish Revolution, the reasons why he dedicated his life to this subject, its historiography and its lessons.
Interview with Agustín Guillamón, Historian of the Proletarian Revolution of 1936
Txema Bofill (for Catalunya: Òrgan d’expressió de la CGT de Catalunya): Tell us about how and why you became politically aware?
A detailed, scholarly study of the Iberian Anarchist Federation (FAI), a group of twentieth-century militants dedicated to keeping Spain’s largest labor union, the CNT, on a revolutionary, anarcho-syndicalist path. Stuart Christie’s analysis covers the history of Spanish anarchism and the Spanish Civil War, and provides lessons relevant to today’s largely neutered labor movement. A gripping and informative tale!