Angel Pestaña. Trade-union and political movement in Spain (1920)

Second article of Angel Pestana, which was write when he came to Moscow to the Second congress of Comintern. And which was published in Moscow bolshevik's newspaper "Pravda".

Submitted by ASyndicalist on May 4, 2020

I would like to describe in these few brief lines the situation of the working class in Spain, its trade union and political movement, in order to give an idea of all this to the readers of “Pravda” and to the Russian workers.
In Spain, as in all other countries, there are two currents among the proletariat – the revolutionary and the reformist. The former works underground and promotes propaganda among industrial workers and peasants, through the “National Confederation of Labour”, a revolutionary-syndicalist organization whose leading center is located in Barcelona. This organization, which stands on the point of view of communism and the revolutionary struggle of the classes, at the end of 1917 numbered in its ranks 70 thousand, while the last Confederation Congress, held in December 1919, was attended by 525 delegates from all over Spain and representing a million workers. Thus, the “National Confederation of Labor” managed to unite almost the entire working class of Spain in two years, thanks to its activities and methods of struggle.
But the Spanish government, encouraged and inspired by the bourgeoisie, did its utmost to hinder the successes of the revolutionary-syndicalist organization; a week after the congress at the end of December, it outlawed the Confederation of Labor and threw the most popular fighters into prisons, where they still are.
The zeal with which the Spanish government fulfills its task, and how it protects the interests of the bourgeoisie, may be judged by the fact that more than 500 of our comrades are languishing in prison, despite the fact that we have managed to wrest many of them from the hands of the police and gendarmes.
The “National Confederation of Labour”, forced to go to illegal work because of the persecution to which it has been subjected for the past two years, and in view of the fact that it is forbidden to work legally, has grown in numbers, strengthened its revolutionary spirit and thus became the leader of a liberation movement that spread the working class and working people of Spain.
In addition to the “National Confederation of Labor” in Spain, there is the “General Union of Workers”, a trade union organization that stands on the reformist point of view and is a branch of the Spanish socialist party.
For clarity, let’s at first talk about the Socialist party.
Founded in 1890 (1), it enjoyed very little influence among the Spanish proletariat. If it continued to exist, it was only because of the “General Union of Workers”. Nevertheless, in the last years before the war, it had grown in numbers and influence. However, the war, first of all, and then the Russian revolution, showed how deceptive was the power of this party. Its growth in recent years has been made at the expense of small-bourgeois elements, who, considering themselves great Democrats, declared themselves supporters of the Entente; these were the majority; some even spoke in favor of intervention, breaking with their supposedly socialist past.
The war was followed by the Russian revolution, which produced a completely opposite effect in the ranks of the Spanish Socialist Party. The fact that the leaders of the party declared themselves in solidarity with the democracies of the Entente countries impressed the broad circles of the party, however, did not shake its unity; but when the party declared itself neutral in relation to the Russian revolution, and sometimes even attacked it, then a left-wing faction was formed, which began to make more and more demands on the party, insisting that the latter declare itself in solidarity with the cause of the revolution taking place in Russia.
But all the efforts of these comrades were crashed by the behavior of the Central Committee, and at the last Congress of the party, held in Madrid in December, 1919, the resolution on joining the Third International was rejected and the resolution of the so-called “reinstators” was adopted. (Strasbourg).
From that moment, a fierce struggle began in the party’s ranks, which led to the fact that the “socialist Youth”, which had been fighting to join the Third International, decided to leave the party and formed the Spanish Communist Party, which, since its inception, joined the Third International.
But the struggle of the Socialist Party did not end: at the end of June, at an Extraordinary Congress of the party, a rather weak majority adopted a resolution on joining the Third International.
As for the " General Union of Workers" it follows the party: talking about the party means talking about it.
So, summing up, it must be said that all the truly revolutionary forces of Spain — the “National Confederation of Labor” and the new Communist Party — must go hand in hand in the struggle for the liberation of the Spanish proletariat.

Pravda. Moscow. 25.07.1920. №163.

Translators note:

(1) Pestana make a mistake. PSOE was fouded in 1879.