Class, culture and conflict in Barcelona, 1898-1937 - Chris Ealham

Workers' barricade in revolutionary Barcelona
Workers' barricade in revolutionary Barcelona

This is a study of social protest and repression in one of the twentieth century's most important revolutionary hotspots. It explains why Barcelona became the undisputed capital of the European anarchist movement and explores the sources of anarchist power in the city. It also places Barcelona at the center of Spain's economic, social, cultural and political life during 1898-1937.

Submitted by subprole on April 14, 2011

This book has also been republished as Anarchism and the City: Revolution and Counter-revolution in Barcelona, 1898–1937 by AK Press (on AK USA site) (on AK UK site)


Valeriano Orob…

13 years 3 months ago

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Submitted by Valeriano Orob… on April 14, 2011

Thanks a lot.


12 years 11 months ago

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Submitted by Steven. on August 16, 2011

Slowly putting this in nicely formatted text format…

S. Artesian

12 years 11 months ago

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Submitted by S. Artesian on August 18, 2011

Thanks for making this available.


12 years 10 months ago

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Submitted by Steven. on September 15, 2011

This is pretty much all done now, just need to go through and add the images

Black Badger

12 years 1 month ago

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Submitted by Black Badger on June 4, 2012

admin note: this post refers to a comment above which has been unpublished as it contains untrue smears

He never threatened legal action. Gelderloos is being pissy and trying to say that if anyone gets a grant for academic research then that automatically makes one beholden to the grantor's agenda. Ridiculous. And to think that he's making anything from writing that particular book is even more ridiculous.


12 years 1 month ago

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Submitted by bastarx on June 4, 2012

Fair enough, I'm not a partisan of Gelderloos or Ealham. I just stumbled across that review and remembered the book was here on libcom so thought it was relevant.


12 years 1 month ago

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Submitted by Dannny on June 4, 2012

I think there are several problems with that review beyond the attempt to link his theoretical disagreements with Ealham to the latter's funding.
For example, it repeats the canard that the CNT joining the CCMA was down to a decision made at an assembly when in fact it was presented to the membership as a fait accompli. It also suggests that the "revolutionary gymnasia" tactics criticised by Ealham were the basis of the success of July 36, and uses the example of the Nosotros affinity group to prove this. This group had, however, explicitly abandoned these tactics after 1934, spearheading the transition from Action groups to Defence Committees (whose national council stated: “There can be no revolution without preparation. We have to end the bias towards improvisations. That error, of faith in the creative instinct in the masses, has cost us dear. The methods of war necessary to fight a state that has experience, armaments and a greater offensive and defensive capacity, are not acquired through spontaneous generation”).
There are other things I'd take issue with, such as describing the POUM as Trotskyist and "a tiny cult" whose intervention in putting down the fascist uprising was insignificant. Well, you can't have your cake and eat it; if the Nosotros group were of critical importance in those days then there is no reason why the intervention of an organisation numbering several thousand could not also be.

red 'n' black …

11 years 5 months ago

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Submitted by red 'n' black … on January 26, 2013

Gelderloos is totally uninformed. I've seen this scurrilous review of his. He's a disgrace, a joke and a wannabe Pol Pot when he talks about executing academics 'when the revolution comes'...Maybe instead loudmouth ignoramuses will get it instead. He'd be a prime candidate.


11 years 3 months ago

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Submitted by NannerNannerNa… on April 5, 2013

Hahaha, I knew I'd find a poster angry with that college radical du jour Genderloos! Yep, Genderloos' is a fucking hack and an idiot, an unstable little squirrel! Glad someone said it. He's a crimethinker (of the old lifestylist variety) who hasn't read crimethink yet, spiritually an eternal activist.


9 years 6 months ago

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Submitted by PG on December 18, 2014

I just came across this thread, a couple years late, and made an account in order to respond to a number of things I find worrisome. I understand that the quality of internet comment forums tends to be low, but there is a level of falsehood here, including in the Admin's intervention, that should not go unchallenged.

From what I gather, someone posted a link to a review I had written of Ealham's book, and that link was taken down. I'm posting it again so readers can decide for themselves.

It seems that Admin claimed that my review contained "untrue smears", presumably my accusation that Ealham threatened legal action. No libcom Admin ever contacted me to find out if my accusation was true, nor do they have any way of knowing it to be untrue, and for me, this is a pretty serious accusation that I was making.

In an email to me on April 29, 2011, Chris Ealham wrote:
"Hi Peter,

I'm considering my options right now but, given the weight of my current commitments , one of them isn't getting into email tennis with you or answering the questionnaire you included in your last mail.

I wonder if you fully appreciate the import of your own words. I've taken the advice of various friends/comrades/colleagues &, apart from those who've suggested I go down the road of legal action, perhaps the easiest route is for me to deal directly with the editors. "

Though Ealham makes it clear that legal action is not his first course of action, he also makes it clear that it he is considering it as an option. Why even mention legal action as a possibility?

Some other things that deserve mentioning: I sent the article to Ealham before getting it published, soliciting his feedback.
I made numerous changes to the article to make it explicitly clear that I was NOT calling Ealham a tool of the State for receiving government grants.
I wrote to Ealham that "I recommend your book as intelligent and valuable, and also bring up a number of criticisms and a POTENTIAL conflict of interest."

The criticism I made was that the Spanish government has been very active over the last decades of writing a safer history of the Spanish Civil War and that Ealham, who received Spanish government grants, coincides in a couple details with some of the strategic lessons the Spanish government has been encouraging.
I explicitly state that it is perfectly normal for academics to receive government grants, but it is equally pedestrian to point out how governments also favor research that give them ideological coverage, and that anarchist academics simply have to deal with that balancing act.

Contrary to one hyperbolic commenter, I never call for all academics to be shot during the revolution. It is also a lie to say that "Gelderloos is being pissy and trying to say that if anyone gets a grant for academic research then that automatically makes one beholden to the grantor's agenda." Unfortunately admin saw fit to let those easily refutable mistruths stand.

"Dannny" makes a much better comment, and they are correct about the Defence Committees and their position on preparation. The point that I was making, however, is that the years long process of affinity groups and small armed actions that Ealham partially denounces in his book, a process that made a great deal of sense during the years of pistolerisme and the Primo de Rivera dictatorship, were necessary to what came in 1936, and also necessary to the Defence Committees of 1934. Ealham in general has a great take on criminality and proletarian violence, one of the reasons that I highly recommend his book in my review, but several times he is dismissive of an important anarchist strategy in the 10s and 20s, even falling into some cheap cliches in order to divide aspects of the struggle that in truth were indivisible.

By academic standards, many historians, including local (to Spain) anarchist historians that I know, think that Ealham's book is poorly researched. Nonetheless, I find it interesting and useful, with one main exception that I tried to point out in the review.

Rather than engaging in a critical and respectful debate, Ealham threatened legal action, tried to keep the review from being published, and wrote me some choice emails, frequently blowing his stack and calling me "a fucking arsewipe".

Anarchists who work in the university system should be open to solidaristic criticism and be aware of the ways that the universities can work on behalf of capitalism and the State. I'm disappointed that libcom has decided to help silence that criticism, and to propagate ad hominems and lies rather than making any attempt to learn the truth of the matter.