What do present-day anarchists think of the establishment of an anarchist "revolutionary Junta" proposed in the SpanishCivilWar?

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kasama_libsoc's picture
Joined: 23-01-19
Feb 12 2020 07:11
What do present-day anarchists think of the establishment of an anarchist "revolutionary Junta" proposed in the SpanishCivilWar?

The Friends of Durruti was an affinity group within the FAI. They opposed the collaboration of the CNT-FAI in the Republican government. Instead of collaboration, they proposed the formation of a "revolutionary Junta" in their seminal pamphlet Towards a Fresh Revolution. It's available on the Anarchist Library.

Here are some relevant passages:

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 into our programme. The establishment of a revolutionary Junta.

As we see it, the revolution needs organisms to oversee it, and repress, in an organised sense, hostile sectors. As current events have shown such sectors do not accept oblivion unless they are crushed.

There may be anarchist comrades who feel certain ideological misgivings, but the lesson of experience is enough to induce us to stop pussy-footing.


I. Establishment of a Revolutionary Junta or National Defence Council.

This body will be organised as follows: members of the revolutionary Junta will be elected by democratic vote in the union organisations. Account is to be taken of the number of comrades away at the front; these comrades must have the right to representation. The Junta will steer clear of economic affairs, which are the exclusive preserve of the unions.

The functions of the revolutionary Junta are as follows:
a. The management of the war
b. The supervision of revolutionary order
c. International affairs
d. Revolutionary propaganda.

Posts to come up regularly for re-allocation so as to prevent anyone growing attached to them. And the trade union assemblies will exercise control over the Junta’s activities.

It seems the revolutionary junta these anarchists are proposing would be controlled by unions and would not have a mandate in economic affairs with their mandate limited to the four listed there.

What do present-day anarchists think of this plan?

Joined: 10-10-08
Feb 12 2020 08:12

While not a Platformist I have a lot of sympathy with groups like Friends of Durruti because they understood the ethics of Power,Revolutionary praxis etc which collaborates and liberals in the Anarchist movement did not and still dont.This malaise should have been extinguished a long time ago and the clarity Balius put forward is a shining light in a sad vista that crippled the Spanish Revolution and hampers Libertarianism today.

Black Guard's picture
Black Guard
Joined: 10-05-20
May 10 2020 14:06

It certainly would have given the revolution a fighting chance, as opposed to the actions of the CNT government ministers.

Joined: 10-10-08
May 10 2020 14:53

I like the FOD stance and believe it should be a template of sorts for an Anarchist organisation.To clearly state your beliefs,have a common plan of action and to be clear in asserting those beliefs is not oppression or Statist as some so called Anarchists believe but essential and consistent with Libertarian praxis.Liberals and Individualists like Montseney showed the danger of inertia in a revolutionary situation and how anti Anarchist they essentially were.

Joined: 2-01-07
May 11 2020 13:01

In the concrete situation of the Barcelona May events of 1937, the Friends of Durruti Group plan/manifesto led to no where. It was too late. The higher committees and associated thousands of CNT-FAI members drawn into facilitating the reconstituting Republican State with various jobs and posts were successful in preventing a full on insurrection in the above events and carrying out the FOD proposals. It was not just a matter of some Liberals/Individualists in the CNT/FAI. The fast moving and momentous events of those days did not provide the time and appropriate climate for the FOD proposals to be debated/ considered and adopted by the CNT grass roots. Whilst any renewed revolutionary upsurge would have to spread internationally as a new wave, which was unlikely at that time with the rise of Fascism and expanding mass Stalinism with the Moscow financed Communist Parties. In a perhaps more favourable time of the early 30's the CNT was engulfed in the hysterical atmosphere of the factional struggles between Barcelona based FAI and other factions and then the insurrectionary cycle of the early 30's promoted by these elements also precluding such a discussion which may have required years to finalise. See review of 'Revolution and the State:Anarchism in the Spanish Civil War 1936-1939' in Latest RW Vol.38 No.1 (225) April - May 2020 on www.rebelworker.org For a discussion of the 1937 May events.
In the May-June 1968 in Paris/France events various ultra left and anarchist groups were pushing for workers councils/workers control/revolution. It of course got nowhere. However, in the context of the strike wave in 1947 - important components of a mass syndicalist union seemed initially to be coming together, but scuppered by the Cold War and CIA manipulation as occurred. Had this mass syndicalist movement consolidated and stabilised and developed an appropriate program which anarchist/ultra leftist groups could have contributed to, then you could have got full on revolutionary developments in '68. See article on France and 1947 strike wave in 'New Perspectives on Anarchism. Labour and Syndicalism' edited by David Berry and Constance Bantman. Reviewed in RW and Anarcho-Syndicalist Review under heading 'Syndicalism in a Neo Liberal Climate'.
What is the moral of the story. We have to get those mass syndicalist union movements going before big things like May 68 or Barcelona May 37 erupt and in this context facilitate the development of an appropriate revolutionary program and associated calm and informed grass roots discussion and debate. This means today serious long range grass roots organising in strategic industrial sectors to promote strike waves. We can't just wait for big things to spontaneously happen. As history shows this too late to get things going in a full on revolutionary direction.

Joined: 10-10-08
May 11 2020 14:14

Hello ASN
As you stated Anarchists relied all too easily on the spontaneity of the masses and individual notion which led to a dangerous inertia of ignoring essential logistical questions that needed to be faced.
The FOD as you say did arrive after the horse had bolted but their value is in their eloquent summary of the malaise and betrayal of the Anarchist Revolution and also in their uncompromising and hardline programme.
Although the Anarchist movement had existed for approximately 70 years at the outbreak of the civil war it was obvious that the disparate strains had not fused and matured from the Individualist and life stylist line that some interpreted Anarchism as being hence the lack of cohesion and preparation .
This was not the case in much of the Libertarian movement and the Confederal forces of the CNT were ingrained in Working class culture and struggle.They were betrayed by the collaborators like Montseney and de Santillan et all.
The Syndicalist road is the most relevant form to pursue Anarchist/Libertarian politics and historically this is where Anarchism has made its mark.