An account of agrarian collectives in Aragon - Augustin Souchy

An account of the workings of rural agricultural collectives in Aragon, revolutionary Spain, 1936-39

Submitted by libcom on December 13, 2005

Extracts from his book A Journey through Aragon by Augustin Souchy


. . . Everything [in the Calanda collective] was systematically organised. Exact statistics were compiled on the hourly, daily, and yearly condition and possibilities of each branch of industry, thus insuring the highest degree of coordination. The collective modernised industry, increased production, turned out better products, and improved public services. For example, the collective installed up-to-date machinery for the extraction of olive oil and conversion of the residue into soap. It purchased two big electric washing machines, one for the hospital and the other for the collectivised hotel. . . .Through more efficient cultivation and the use of better fertilisers, production of potatoes increased 50% (three-quarters of the crop was sold to Catalonia in exchange for other commodities. . . ) and the production of sugar beets and feed for livestock doubled. Previously uncultivated smaller plots of ground were used to plant 400 fruit trees, . . . and there were a host of other interesting innovations. Through this use of better machinery and chemical fertilisers and, but no means least, through the introduction of voluntary collective labour, the yield per hectare was 50% greater on collective property than on individually worked land. These examples finally induced many more "individualists" to join the collective. (p. 138)

Every family is allotted a piece of land for its own use, be it to raise some chickens, rabbits, or whatever. Seed and fertiliser are also provided to grow vegetables. There is no longer any need to employ hired labour nor is it any longer necessary for young girls to seek employment as servants in Catalonia or in France. The collective has made truly remarkable progress in raising the standard of living by 50% to 100% in a few months. And this is all the more remarkable in that this was achieved under the stress of war and in the absence of the youngest and most active workers, now in the armed forces. (p. 140)

Edited for spelling by libcom from the Revolt collection.