Friends of Durruti

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Commodity
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Dec 29 2006 05:40
Friends of Durruti

What are your opinions on the actions taken by the Group, such as:

The decision to make CNT membership mandatory
Their refusal to break from the CNT, a collaborationist organ
The Group's platform

ernie
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Dec 29 2006 13:43

Commodity

On the friends of Durruti we think that

Quote:
The Friends of Durruti group, which had emerged from within the CNT as a working class reaction to the official betrayals, attempted to live up to the responsibilities of a revolutionary organisation during these events. The Friends of Durruti was a genuine expression of the wider revolutionary aspirations which had come to the surface in July 1936 and which made their last stand in May 1937. At the same time it was unable to make a complete break from the CNT and anarchist ideology, which prevented it from drawing all the necessary conclusions from this experience

A more detailed critique of their activity and platform can be found
http://en.internationalism.org/ir/102_durruti.htm
http://en.internationalism.org/wr/295_forum_intro

I hope this is of some use to you

WeTheYouth
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Dec 29 2006 13:52
ernie wrote:
Commodity

On the friends of Durruti we think that

Quote:
The Friends of Durruti group, which had emerged from within the CNT as a working class reaction to the official betrayals, attempted to live up to the responsibilities of a revolutionary organisation during these events. The Friends of Durruti was a genuine expression of the wider revolutionary aspirations which had come to the surface in July 1936 and which made their last stand in May 1937. At the same time it was unable to make a complete break from the CNT and anarchist ideology, which prevented it from drawing all the necessary conclusions from this experience

A more detailed critique of their activity and platform can be found
http://en.internationalism.org/ir/102_durruti.htm
http://en.internationalism.org/wr/295_forum_intro

I hope this is of some use to you

More bollox from the ICC

Quote:
The decision to make CNT membership mandatory

The right the decision, the CNT was by far the most revolutionary organisation at that time, there were reformists inside the CNT but the CNT was the only organisation capable of carrying through the revolution.

Quote:
Their refusal to break from the CNT, a collaborationist organ

The CNT had thousands of members at the front, to not get them arms however they got them would have created an even bigger tragedy. It was the right decision not to break with the CNT, the majority of the membership of the CNT supported the FOD as twice the reformist elements tried to expell the FOD but were overwhelmingly defeated. And you need to remember that Oliver joined the government with no mandate from the CNT members.

nastyned
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Dec 29 2006 14:22

Surely one of the aims of the friends of durruti was to change the policy of the CNT. I don't see how them leaving the CNT would have helped this.

Commodity
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Dec 29 2006 16:58
ernie wrote:
Commodity

On the friends of Durruti we think that

Quote:
The Friends of Durruti group, which had emerged from within the CNT as a working class reaction to the official betrayals, attempted to live up to the responsibilities of a revolutionary organisation during these events. The Friends of Durruti was a genuine expression of the wider revolutionary aspirations which had come to the surface in July 1936 and which made their last stand in May 1937. At the same time it was unable to make a complete break from the CNT and anarchist ideology, which prevented it from drawing all the necessary conclusions from this experience

A more detailed critique of their activity and platform can be found
http://en.internationalism.org/ir/102_durruti.htm
http://en.internationalism.org/wr/295_forum_intro

I hope this is of some use to you

I know their platform already. I'm interested in everyone's opinion.

Leo
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Dec 29 2006 16:59
Quote:
More bollox from the ICC

Haha, truth hurts, apparently. Care to show why it's "bollox" or are you just gonna insult-and-run?

nastyned
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Dec 29 2006 17:05
ernie wrote:
At the same time it was unable to make a complete break from the CNT and anarchist ideology

This is obviously untrue. The friends of Durruti were anarchists and members of the CNT and made no attempt to break with either.

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Dec 29 2006 17:58

Subjectively, that's true. But the logic of the situation was pushing the FOD to challenge certain fundamentals of anarchism. They described themselves as an affinity group but they were formed not on the vague and personalised basis of affinity but of politics, of explicit opposition to the collaborationist practise of the CNT. They were driven, in fact, to act as a kind of political avant-garde. And they had no qualms about calling for something which was a proletarian dictatorship in everything but name ('revolutionary juntas'). In this situation their loyalty to the CNT held them back - as when they seemed to retreat from denouncing the CNT's action during the May Days as "treason". It's a situation not disimilar to the hesitations of some of the oppositionists in the Bolshevik party to engage in activities that would put them outside the 'legal' sphere in the period after Kronstadt. The key issue is not so much the formal break (Miasnikov for example formed a fraction which still attempted to work inside the Bolshevik party, though in a clandestine way, for an initial period after 1923) but the willingness to put class principles above organisational unity in a phase when the organisation is degenerating or being recuperated by the bourgeoisie.

nastyned
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Dec 29 2006 18:04

In reply to Alf:

No, no. It's objectively true. Unlike the ICC's line.

magidd
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Dec 29 2006 20:57

Friends of Durruti was the revolutionary tendensy inside CNT. As far as i know they were connected with insurrectionalist groopes in CNT (commitys of selfdefens).
Duuruti Friends was against ministerialism and they want to move revolution forward.
They made 2 big mistakes:
1) Did not make an agriment (or commom organisation) with over revolutionary groopes inside CNT (like radical part of CNT and revolutionary groopse inside FIJL and FAI).
2) Together did not leave contr-revolutional organisation named CNT and did not created new revolutionary movement wich shoot peoples like Mariano Vaskes and Negrin.

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Dec 30 2006 13:31
WeTheYouth wrote:
Quote:
Their refusal to break from the CNT, a collaborationist organ

...And you need to remember that Oliver joined the government with no mandate from the CNT members.

Is that actually true?

Quote:
The decision to join the Catalan government "Generalidad" was ratified by plenums of local, district and regional committees in August 1936 and the decision to join the central government was ratified in a national plenum of regions in Madrid on 28 September 1936 (the CNT actually entered the government on 6 November 1936). From 19 July 1936 to 26 November 1937, seventeen regional plenums and dozens of local plenums and district federations were called as well as various regional congresses of unions. (See Jose Peirats, Anarchists in the Spanish Revolution, pp. 185, 186.)

Source

WeTheYouth
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Dec 30 2006 14:16
John. wrote:
WeTheYouth wrote:
Quote:
Their refusal to break from the CNT, a collaborationist organ

...And you need to remember that Oliver joined the government with no mandate from the CNT members.

Is that actually true?

Quote:
The decision to join the Catalan government "Generalidad" was ratified by plenums of local, district and regional committees in August 1936 and the decision to join the central government was ratified in a national plenum of regions in Madrid on 28 September 1936 (the CNT actually entered the government on 6 November 1936). From 19 July 1936 to 26 November 1937, seventeen regional plenums and dozens of local plenums and district federations were called as well as various regional congresses of unions. (See Jose Peirats, Anarchists in the Spanish Revolution, pp. 185, 186.)

Source

I am more inclined to beleive dolgoff, but this is my source.

Quote:
Garcia Oliver one of the leading militants who was shortly to enter the government without even consulting the Union's members claimed he had avoided an anarchist dictatorship. This shows a complete and crass lack of understanding of the essential tasks of an anarchist organisation i.e. the smashing of the state and the transfer of power to worker's and peasants. The CNT and Spanish workers were to pay in blood for this collaboration.

http://www.geocities.com/CapitolHill/2419/fod.html

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Steven.
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Dec 30 2006 19:19
WeTheYouth wrote:
I am more inclined to beleive dolgoff, but this is my source.

http://www.geocities.com/CapitolHill/2419/fod.html

Hmmm yeah that doesn't have much detail (and at a glance I can see at least one error "The CNT spent most of the war guarding the government's 2,259 pesatas in gold") - is the person who wrote that on here? Or do any WSM people know what the source for that info is? Cos Dolgoff's source is Pierat's (the CNT historian) account of the National Committee of the CNT's report to the Extraordinary Congress of the International Workers' Association.

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Dec 30 2006 19:38

That article is from WS34 which was probably published in 1991 so I'd be surprised if the author even remembers what source he used. I'll ask him when I see him if I remember - he doesn't post here. I suspect it may well have been the Vernon Richards book Dolgoff is criticising for over simplification in his article as he would have access to Richards for sure but maybe not Dolgoff.

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Dec 30 2006 20:13

Quote: "Garcia Oliver one of the leading militants who was shortly to enter the government without even consulting the Union's members claimed he had avoided an anarchist dictatorship."

This is a quote from what Garcia Oliver said in March 1937 at the meeting of the IWA where he went to justify the CNT's position. But this was AFTER Garcia Oliver changed his view. In July-August of 1936 he was adamantly opposed to Popular Front participation and wanted the unions to take power, and the CNT to overthrow the Commonwealth of Catalonia (the regional government). Garcia Oliver's ego-building experience as Minister of Justice apparently corrupted his perspective.

Alf: "Subjectively, that's true. But the logic of the situation was pushing the FOD to challenge certain fundamentals of anarchism. They described themselves as an affinity group but they were formed not on the vague and personalised basis of affinity but of politics, of explicit opposition to the collaborationist practise of the CNT. They were driven, in fact, to act as a kind of political avant-garde. And they had no qualms about calling for something which was a proletarian dictatorship in everything but name ('revolutionary juntas'). In this situation their loyalty to the CNT held them back - as when they seemed to retreat from denouncing the CNT's action during the May Days as "treason"."

"Affinity groups" were not necessarily based on some personalized relationship such as friendship but affinity of ideas and/or practical work. The FoD obviously were based on a certain political perspective, as articulated in their pamphlet Hacia una revolucion nueva.

You also fundamentally fail to understand that the "revolutionary council" ("junta" is Spanish for council or comnmittee) advocated by the FoD was THE OFFICIAL PROGRAM OF THE CNT in Sept. 1936. At its national plenum in Sept. 3, 1936, the CNT worked out an explicit consequence of its May,1 936 Congress resolution in favor of a "revolutionary workers alliance with the UGT." They thus proposed an exclusively proletarian governance structure. The reason FoD referred to the "revolutionary junta" as an "innovation to anarchism" is because it wasn't in the Zaragoza program apprved at the Congress in May. But the Zaragoza program did advocate national and regonal "economics councils" which would be administrative and coordinating committees, not with any policy making powers, but with orders to them from national and regional worker congresses. The defense councils ("juntas" in Spanish) proposed in Sept. were also administrative and coordinating committees, for the social self-defense function (police, courts, people's militia, i.e. army) on analogy with the economics councils. As such, they would also need to be accountable to, take orders from, workers congresses, which would be accountable to the assemblies at the base, as FoD said.

To understand that the FoD were in fact simply advocating a return to the original CNT program, it's necessary to look at the role of two CNT journalists who initiated FoD, Liberto Callejas and Jaime Balius. Callejas had been managin editor, and Balius a journalist, at Solidaridad Obrera in Sept-Oct 1936 when that paper was beating the drum for the overthrow of the national popular front government and its replacement by the National Defense Junta -- essentially a revolutionary working class government. Take a look at the interview with Eduardo de Guzman in the book "Blood of Spain." This is the view he articulates there, and de Guzman was managing editor of Castilla Libre, the CNT paper in Madrid, at the time of the campaign for the National Defense Junta, a campaign that he supported.

Because the Defense Juntas were to be accountable to regional and national worker congresses (like the congress of collectivized communities in Aragon in Feb. 1937 to which the regional Defense Junta of Aragon was supposed to be accountable), it would be a mistake to think of it as a "dictatorship". This is why, in the debate of July 23rd 1936, at a regional plenum in Barcelona, Garcia Oliver, who was advocating overthrow of the Commonwealth of Catalonia and the unions taking power at that time, said that he was not advocating an "anarchist or CNT dictatorship." The collective power of the working class, in 1936, could only have been organized through the unions, as these were the actual mass organizations through which the workers were pushing forward the revolution, as thru the expropriation of industry and the building of the revolutionary labor militia. The unions coming together in a regional congress would have determined a new set of institutions for Catalonia. That would be democratic working class power.

t.

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Dec 30 2006 20:54
syndicalistcat wrote:
To understand that the FoD were in fact simply advocating a return to the original CNT program,

This is a very good summary of this particular argument. However in terms of the writings of the Friends of Durruti themselves it does not appear that this is how they saw it

FoD wrote:
What happened, that the CNT did not makes its revolution, the people's revolution, the revolution of the majority of the population?

What happened was what had to happen. The CNT was utterly devoid of revolutionary theory. We did not have a concrete programme. We had no idea where we were going. We had lyricism aplenty; but when all is said and done, we did not know what to do with our masses of workers or how to give substance to the popular effusion which erupted inside our organisations. By not knowing what to do, we handed the revolution on a platter to the bourgeoisie and the marxists who support the farce of yesteryear. What is worse, we allowed the bourgeoisie a breathing space; to return, to re-form and to behave as would a conqueror.

http://struggle.ws/fod/towardshistory.html

In addition when you claim the junta was simply the programme of 1936 you should make clear this is not how the FoD saw it. In introducing it they wrote

FoD wrote:
Although it had the strength, the CNT did not know how to mould and shape the activity that arose spontaneously in the street. The very leadership was startled by events which were, as far as they were concerned, totally unexpected.

They had no idea which course of action to pursue. There was no theory. Year after year we had spent speculating around abstractions. What is to be done? The leaders were asking themselves then. And they allowed the revolution to be lost.

Such exalted moments leave no time for hesitancy. Rather, one must know where one is headed. This is precisely the vacuum we seek to fill, since we feel that what happened in July and May must never happen again.

We are introducing a slight variation in anarchism ...

http://flag.blackened.net/revolt/fod/towardsposition.html

This very clearly is not 'we need to return to the policy of a few months ago'. I suspect a more accurate interpretation would be to recognise that the ideas formalisedby the FoD in 'Towardsa Fresh Revolution' in 1938 were a distillation of ideas they had been arguing in an informal way in 1936 and before. But they never presented themselves as a simple return to the 1936 programme -an argument which if they believed they would almost certainly
have put forward. They would hardly have called it a 'slight variation'.

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Dec 30 2006 21:25

I should have said, to be clearer, the CNT program as developed to Sept 1936. The FoD pamphlet describes the actual situation in terms of consciousness inside the CNT in JULY of 1936. The CNT regional plenary in Catalonia in July 1936 voted against the proposal of Garcia Oliver and the labor council of Bajo Llobregat, to carry out the CNT's program. They acted as if they were afraid of what to do. De Santillan's arguments at that plenary were a rank appeal to fear, to get the plenary from backing off from overthrowing the government, when it clearly had the power to do so in Catalonia. So they failed to carry out their program. Like FoD, Garcia Oliver argued that the CNT had the obligation to lead the revolution. He said "a revolution needs to be governed," and that if the CNT did not do so, one of "the Marxist parties will step in and obliterate us" -- an accurate prediction of the Communists' eventual rise. FoD were basically continuing the stance that Garcia Oliver and the Bajo Llobregat labor federation of CNT had advocated in July of '36. And their stance WAS a stance in favor of the CNT carrying out its actual libertarian communist program. The problem was the failure of the CNT to carry out its program, the failure to carry on its responsiblities as the leading force for proletarian revolution...isn't that FoD's point?

The CNT did not arrive at the proposal for defense councils until Sept 3 -- this took six weeks of debate inside the CNT. Moreover, even at that the regional federation in Catalonia, was hopelessly confused. This is shown by the fact that they joined the Commonwealth of Catalonia government in Sept. 26th. This totally undermined the CNT's bargaining power with Largo Caballero, as Jose Peirats and Eduardo de Guzman point out. Once they did that, Caballero could see they weren't serious. If they had overthrown the government of Companys, and established a regional workers congress and regional defense council in Catalonia, that would have given them tremendous leverage to persuade the wavering Left Socialists on the UGT Executive Committee.

From the fact that the CNT's program officially advocated certain things, it doesn't follow there was unanimity about it in the CNT or that its follow-thru was entirely consistent and coherent, which it wasn't.

Hence, Joe, you haven't proven your point, since the FoD text you quote refers to Catalonia in July of '36, whereas the defense council proposal wasn't articulated til Sept, and it was in Sept-Oct that Balius and Callejas were beating the drum for this in the pages of Solidaridad Obrera -- in other words, the revolutionary process had developed. You're looking at things too statically.

My point in this is NOT to defend what the CNT ACTUALLY DID...i share FoD's criticisms. My point is to clear up mistatements about what the CNT's actual program was. And when you understand what the CNT's actual program was, you see that the FoD were simply advocating that this program be carried out. They did not have a new program. All 3 points in the FoD program were part of the CNT program: 1. defense juntas had been adopted at the national plenary of Sept 3rd (on analogy with the economics councils approved at Zaragoza), 2. "free municipalities" (geographic resident assemblies) were a part of the Zaragoza program, 3. management of industry by the unions (via industrial federations) was also part of the CNT's traditional program.

So, you tell me, what was new in the FoD program, if you think anything was?

t.

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Dec 30 2006 21:31

If your right I don't understand why they were not simply saying 'we need to implement the program agreed'?

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Dec 30 2006 22:23

Because new decisions are made along the way, and obviously not everyone in the CNT was in agreement. The Treintistas had been beating the drum for Popular Front collaboration all along. Others vacillated. So FoD had to make a case for the viewpoint of a particular tendency in the CNT, a particular anarcho-syndicalist tendency. It's not just a question of abstract program, but also of strategy and tactical direction, "What are we to do now?" De Santillan, as I see it, wasn't consistent or coherent, in a tactical sense. He advocated a socialized, planned economy, with industries run by the industrial federations, but he apparently was also a nervous nelly in terms of actual tactical direction. He wavered like the Left Socialists.

Plus, there was the unclarity added by the traditional anarchist rheotoric about "abolishing all governments." And how is that, then, consistent with forming a working class government? That's why Jose Peirats didn't support the defense council proposal. What was needed was to make a distinction between working class-controlled popular self-governance, rooted in the assemblies and accountable delegate congresses, versus a state, as a top-down institution separated from effective control by the mass of the people. As Garcia Oliver correctly argued, governance functions still must go on. The thing is to have a vision of how to do that without it being a state. Anarchists have not always been clear about that, and that doesn't help.

t.

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Dec 30 2006 22:56

They are some really interesting posts tom. Just wondering why do you think the CNT didn't carry out its programme? I think the FoD said that it was a lack of theoretical clarity about how the programme could be implemented and a lack of political unity within the CNT. This also seems to be your position as you write:

Quote:
From the fact that the CNT's program officially advocated certain things, it doesn't follow there was unanimity about it in the CNT or that its follow-thru was entirely consistent and coherent, which it wasn't.

How do you think these problems could have been prevented or can be prevented from arising in future?

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Dec 31 2006 04:11

There was a lack of clarity about the fundamental task that faced the CNT in July of 1936. There would inevitably be tremendous pressure, from the rank and file in the CNT, to unify the working class in the face of a life and death struggle. There were only two ways to do that. Either the CNT would, thru its initiative, show the way to build a unified working class governance structure, to replace the state, or else the pressure for unity would play into the hands of the Communists and the other advocates of the Popular Front. Popular Front politics DID provide an answer to the question of how to achieve unity: a unity of leaders through a rebuilt Republican state. Those tendencies would be very powerful. To avoid that fate, the CNT needed to pose a clear answer.

Traditional anarchist rhetoric about "abolition of all governments", or the view of people like Peirats that a dispersed set of local committees was good enough, was harmful because it only ended up derailing the CNT from providing the only possible alternative to the Popular Front.

Balius and the other people who founded FoD saw how this traditional unclarity or confusion in anarchist ideas waekened them at the critical moment.

But the problem wasn't due to the weakness of anarcho-syndicalism as a strategy. It was a question of how to interpret anarcho-syndicalism. The proposal for Defense Councils (and a unified, labor-controled people's militia) answerable to worker congresses and base assemblies was consistent with anarcho-syndicalism.

t.

Skraeling
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Jan 7 2007 23:48

Sorry to derail this discussion, but Michael Seidman says the Friends of Durutti called for

Quote:
more work, sacrifices, the end of salary increases, and even "forced labour" (trabajo obligatorio). [citing Los amigos de Durutti 22 June 1937]. Los amigos de Durruti failed, of course, to take power, but its type of anarchobolshevik programme would not have resolved the difference between militants and the base. Like its opponents, Los amigos offered basically political solutions to problems that had deep social and economic roots.

Seidman argues that the main problem of the Spanish revolution was not the compromises made by the CNT, but instead that there was a huge gap between workers and union militants, so much so that many workers informally resisted the calls by militants for more work, more sacrifice and so on. He argues that the Amigos would been authoritarian dictators in order to enforce their programme of working harder and faster, sacrifice, and compulsory labour against the wishes of most workers.

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Jan 7 2007 23:54
Commodity wrote:
Their refusal to break from the CNT, a collaborationist organ

Regardless of your political viewpoint, that would have been tactically idiotic, surely?

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Jan 8 2007 00:03
Skraeling wrote:
Sorry to derail this discussion, but Michael Seidman says the Friends of Durutti called for

Quote:
more work, sacrifices, the end of salary increases, and even "forced labour" (trabajo obligatorio).

This was for punishment for fascists though wasn't it? While it's not nice of course, it's very understandable.

Quote:
Seidman argues that the main problem of the Spanish revolution was not the compromises made by the CNT, but instead that there was a huge gap between workers and union militants, so much so that many workers informally resisted the calls by militants for more work, more sacrifice and so on.

Seidman completely fails to demonstrate that the difference is between workers and union militants, rather than some possibly conservative or fascist-sympathising workers, and the more revolutionary workers. The worst example he states of the CNT acting like bosses was the introduction of piecework in one workplace. However he admits that this was voted for by the workers of that workplace - with CNT delegates arguing against it.

Quote:
He argues that the Amigos would been authoritarian dictators in order to enforce their programme of working harder and faster, sacrifice, and compulsory labour against the wishes of most workers.

... but again he fails to back it up in any meaningful way. I'd be very wary of Seidman. As I mentioned in the thread about that book it's full of blatant distortions to discredit the very principle of workers' self-management (I noted down a few more things to put on that thread but have mislaid my notes...)

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Jan 8 2007 00:05

At the outset of the civil war, workers in large numbers volunteered to do extra work, like volunteer on sundays to make ammunition or sew militia uniforms and so on. irrespective of what we might think abbout the CNT joining the government, it was a life and death struggle against the fascist army. As Durruti said, Spanish workers knew that a fascist victory meant "slavery and starvation". Why would they not have a rational reason to agree to impose on themselves collectively an obligation to work? I haven't read Seidman but he sounds like an individualist. Does he give any evidence for the claim that the assemblies did not in fact control the delegates (militants)? I know there were some complaints, in some industries, that assemblies became less frequent. But even in those cases, where there was some discontent, when the assemblies were held, typically the existing delegates were ratified.

The CNT was a mass organization of millions of workers. That it had decided to engage in Popular Front participation does not change that. If the Friends could elect delegates from the assemblies with their views, they could have ousted the Popular Front collaborationist regional committee in Catalonia. Does Seidman give any evidence to think that wasn't true?

In other words, what is his evidence that in fact the majority of members of the CNT did not in fact agree with the obligation to work? I think in fact there IS an obligation to work, that it is anti-social individualism to suppose otherwise.

t.

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Jan 8 2007 00:16
Skraeling wrote:
Seidman argues

Yes, but he's a wanker and fundamentally dishonest. See the thread about his book.

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Jan 8 2007 00:22

syndicalistcat good post.

syndicalistcat wrote:
Why would they not have a rational reason to agree to impose on themselves collectively an obligation to work? I haven't read Seidman but he sounds like an individualist.

That's the impression I got. In our library 2 of his texts are about individualism:
http://libcom.org/library/michael-seidman

Quote:
Does he give any evidence for the claim that the assemblies did not in fact control the delegates (militants)?

Importantly no, as I said in the cases he says are the worst of CNT "authoritarianism" the measures were voted for the workers. He continually says that CNT bureaucrats were the new bosses but doesn't provide evidence of it anywhere.

Quote:
If the Friends could elect delegates from the assemblies with their views, they could have ousted the Popular Front collaborationist regional committee in Catalonia. Does Seidman give any evidence to think that wasn't true?

I don't think he mentions anything like that.

Quote:
In other words, what is his evidence that in fact the majority of members of the CNT did not in fact agree with the obligation to work?

His evidence is largely based around the reduction of productivity in certain sectors (which could have been caused by the civil war which decimated supplies of raw materials, etc.), and selected quotations from union delegates decrying things like absenteeism and laziness. There is no evidence that dislike of laziness during the civil war was limited to CNT bureaucrats, and in fact didn't correspond to majority opinion at the time.

Skraeling
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Jan 8 2007 01:07
John. wrote:
Skraeling wrote:
Sorry to derail this discussion, but Michael Seidman says the Friends of Durutti called for

Quote:
more work, sacrifices, the end of salary increases, and even "forced labour" (trabajo obligatorio).

This was for punishment for fascists though wasn't it? While it's not nice of course, it's very understandable.

I would like to know if the Amigos called for compulsory work was for ordinary workers or fascists or both. Given the workerism of most CNTistas and faistas, i would say it was for both.

Quote:
Seidman completely fails to demonstrate that the difference is between workers and union militants, rather than some possibly conservative or fascist-sympathising workers, and the more revolutionary workers. The worst example he states of the CNT acting like bosses was the introduction of piecework in one workplace. However he admits that this was voted for by the workers of that workplace - with CNT delegates arguing against it.

nope, you're misrepresenting Seidman by focussing on one tiny example of his, and making it the centrepiece of his argument in order to make him sound like a complete git. Which is a dishonest method of argument. Seidman produces heaps of evidence from the committee books of collectives. The evidence is that workers informally resisted the CNTs and UGTs imposition of work, through theft, sabotage, go slows, pulling sickies, socialising rather than working, and so on. And the CNT militants attempted to overcome this resistance by calls for more work, more sacrifice. And this happened in lots of different workplaces, not just one. And of course the CNT militants viewed this resistance as fascist, and dismissed it as the work of fascist sympathesisers.

edit: John you continually say that piecework was only introduced in one workplace. So i go into Seidman's book, and quickly find one paragraph on p. 136 saying that piecework was introduced in the Tailoring collective F. Vehils Vadal in Feb 1937, Casa Alemany collective in Oct. 1937 and in May 1938 for the railroad workers.

John wrote:
Skraeling wrote:
He argues that the Amigos would been authoritarian dictators in order to enforce their programme of working harder and faster, sacrifice, and compulsory labour against the wishes of most workers.

... but again he fails to back it up in any meaningful way. I'd be very wary of Seidman. As I mentioned in the thread about that book it's full of blatant distortions to discredit the very principle of workers' self-management (I noted down a few more things to put on that thread but have mislaid my notes...)

I'd also be very wary of overly rosy pictures of anarcho-syndicalism and workers self-management. After all, i think workers self-management is an ambigious term, and can be interpreted as the self-management of capital.

I think Seidman's book has more substance to it than you think. Of course it has many problems and distortions, given that Seidman just wants to denounce anarcho-syndicalism. But i dont think Seidman's work should be rejected in the absolutist way that you propose.

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syndicalistcat
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Jan 8 2007 01:08

John: "His evidence is largely based around the reduction of productivity in certain sectors (which could have been caused by the civil war which decimated supplies of raw materials, etc.), and selected quotations from union delegates decrying things like absenteeism and laziness. There is no evidence that dislike of laziness during the civil war was limited to CNT bureaucrats, and in fact didn't correspond to majority opinion at the time."

There was about a 30% drop in output overall in Catalonia. This was due mainly to the fact that industry in Catalonia produced for the internal Spanish market, and fascist control of a third of Spain meant they'd lost a third of their market. Also, some industres had a huge drop in work, as in the construction industry. In a piece written in Dec. 1936 de Santillan complains of worker-managed industries retaining more people than they needed, out of solidarity.

This would certainly mean a drop in productivity. De Santillan pointed out that with overall social planning, they could have redistributed excess workers from one area to another where work was needed. But Popular Front collaboration made it impossible to consolidate socialization and do that kind of planning.

t.

Skraeling
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Jan 8 2007 01:24
syndicalistcat wrote:
At the outset of the civil war, workers in large numbers volunteered to do extra work, like volunteer on sundays to make ammunition or sew militia uniforms and so on. irrespective of what we might think abbout the CNT joining the government, it was a life and death struggle against the fascist army. As Durruti said, Spanish workers knew that a fascist victory meant "slavery and starvation". Why would they not have a rational reason to agree to impose on themselves collectively an obligation to work?

well, one dodgy aspect of Seidman's work is that under Franco productivity levels turned to normal, and workers did not face starvation and death. It is this aspect of his work that can be interpreted as being ultra-conservative. Though at least he does admit workers were not allowed to strike under Franco ie. it was a horrid anti-working class dictatorship.

Quote:
The CNT was a mass organization of millions of workers. That it had decided to engage in Popular Front participation does not change that.

it was a mass organisation, but Seidman argues that most workers joined it because they had to get work after 1936, not cos they wanted to or believed in anarcho-syndicalist ideals.

Quote:
In other words, what is his evidence that in fact the majority of members of the CNT did not in fact agree with the obligation to work? I think in fact there IS an obligation to work, that it is anti-social individualism to suppose otherwise.

well call me an anti-social individualist then. I dont believe in an obligation to work at all if it means compulsory labour. I think labour should be voluntary. I thought that was a pretty basic principle of anarchism actually.

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Jan 8 2007 01:40

skraeling: "well, one dodgy aspect of Seidman's work is that under Franco productivity levels turned to normal, and workers did not face starvation and death."

actually at least 150,000 people, mainly UGT and CNT members, were executed by the fascists after the end of the civil war, and wages were very low.

s.: "it was a mass organisation, but Seidman argues that most workers joined it because they had to get work after 1936, not cos they wanted to or believed in anarcho-syndicalist ideals."

in early 1936 union membership was entirely voluntary and even later workers had the option of joining the UGT. and in the spring of 1936 1.65 million workers belonged to CNT, as a voluntary act. Union growth was often an expression of the revolution, e.g. the 30,000 member CNT health union formed to socialize the health care industry didn't exist before the civil war.

s.: "I dont believe in an obligation to work at all if it means compulsory labour. I think labour should be voluntary. I thought that was a pretty basic principle of anarchism actually."

depends on what you mean. if you mean that being required to do socially useful labor in order to get your share of the social product is "compulsory labor", I don't agree with that language, but I agree that in fact it should be a requirement for able bodied adults to be willing to work. The opposite is to endorse parasitism. And if "anarchism" means the endorsing of the right to be a parasite living off others, then i'm against "anarchism" in that sense.

t.