Chapter 23: Our press

23

Our press

When I refer to “our press”, in South America, in order to call attention to the preaching of anarchist doctrines that is tenaciously being carried out by the newspapers, Organización Obrera, the organ of the FOR of Argentina, and Solidaridad, that of the FOR of Uruguay, we are not guided by a sense of closed-minded exclusivism. The reason why we express it this way is the fact that these newspapers have been able to keep abreast of the circumstances and events, fearlessly criticizing the cenetistas and faístas at first for their deviations, and then for their ideological betrayals, keeping the proletarian ranks and the anarchist militants informed of these trends, so that they should not be infected with the confusionist virus that the disastrous actions of those comrades has disseminated and so that the proletarians and the anarchist militants should concern themselves as a matter of the greatest importance with learning all the details about these developments, in order to breach the cordon sanitaire that has been organized on an international scale by the anarchists who have implemented these “constructive” and “innovative” experiments.

It is true, of course, that this worthy and noble attitude of our press has induced enormous discontent in the ranks of opportunism and that it has “earned” bitter reproaches and much antipathy. Some other newspapers—only a very few—published by other anarchist groups have also confronted the confused situation brought about by these events and criticized from an elevated vantage point the cenetista and faísta “discoveries”.

We shall reproduce the following excerpts from two articles from our press, which demonstrate the clear and plainly anarchist orientation of the editorial policy of the newspapers mentioned above:

In issue no. 55 of Organización Obrera the following thoughtful article appeared:

“The feeble hopes that were nourished concerning a possible favorable change in the situation of the Spanish republic are totally dissipating in a most spectacular fashion. In reality, considering the way things are going and in view of how the peace process is being prepared, one might say that the destiny of Spain, although not finally determined, has now been cast, since the events of the last few days, both regard to the political as well as the military aspect, leave no room for doubt. Spain, although it is painful for us to say this, will definitely be sacrificed to the caprice of the dictators and to the interest of big international capitalism.

“However, and despite such a sorrowful conclusion, we must point out that none of the great events of this century, including the Russian Revolution, have contributed a greater mass of experiences than the Spanish conflict, since apart from the deep social significance it acquired during its very first moments, the civil war that is now coming to an end has been rich in facts and examples of every kind and magnitude.

“Indeed. In Spain, to an extent seen nowhere else in the world, we have witnessed the degree to which people are capable of sacrifice and heroism. Alongside this, however, we have also witnessed the extent to which the suffering and sacrifice of the people, whose fate is now being sealed, was cynically manipulated. For apart from the betrayals that pertain to this case, the deception has in this instance been so real that it will be difficult for its perpetrators to vindicate themselves before the serene judgment of history, much less before the harsh justice of the peoples of the world who might demand on a not-too-distant future date that those who are now its leaders should provide an explanation for their actions. The truth is that the drama of Spain is now coming to an end with the greatest betrayal of our time and that this unprecedented betrayal is the responsibility of all those who helped to cause this valiant people to set aside their revolutionary impulses of the first few moments of the civil war and instead entrust their destinies to the democratic policy that all their leaders were advising them to adopt.

“We will not say anything new, at least not for those comrades who have tried to keep informed and to study the unfolding events of this conflict. If we say, however, that the people who fought on the side of the republican government have not been defeated, we are only shedding light on a reality that nothing or no one can refute or deny. And we shall also mention an incontrovertible truth when we say that the Spanish people, after having been suitably pacified and domesticated, has been miserably surrendered: by means of the deception practiced by all those who led it, first in order to conceal, and then later to annihilate their revolution out of fear of losing the good will of the great democratic nations … which are now paying them back for their sacrifices by surrendering them unconditionally to fascism. Is it not clear that the betrayal from the outside caused this and made possible this deliberate domestication of the people? Yes, that is the truth, the truth that cannot be concealed with phrases or talk of circumstances….

“The Spanish people lost their naive confidence in their leaders. Although they were heroic and self-abnegating like no other people, the Spanish people were still too childlike. They trusted too much in the old statist and political lies. They were told that it was necessary to uphold democracy and the fiction of the State, but by reestablishing the democracy and once again putting the state back on its feet, both turned against them and stabbed them in the back.

“If, instead of suppressing its impulses of the first moments, it had encouraged the people to continue to engage in the destruction of everything that stood in the way of its desires for a rapid defeat of the rebels and in the process radically transform life throughout Spain; if it had taught the people that its revolutionary conquests could only be defended by undertaking new and more advanced conquests; if it had taught the people that the ‘new’ legislation of justice, even if it was promulgated by a working class minister, was nothing but a skillful maneuver intended to inject new life in the regime that was in its death throes; in short, if it had told the Spanish people that by transforming its revolutionary struggle into a simple war for national independence—an outrageous maneuver that only brought the unitary military command and the militarization of the army in the old style—meant the beginning of the end of all their emancipatory efforts, it is certain that the fate of Spain would have been different than what is now in the offing, despite the fact that at this time there is talk of an ‘honorable’ peace.

“Not all, however, is lost in Spain. The old promises of anarchism both with regard to its conception of the revolutionary struggle, as well as in relation to its classical position against the State and everything that helps to uphold the present regime, has not suffered any kind of setback. To the contrary, reality has assumed responsibility for once again confirming that everything the people have done that is not in accordance with those principles has been in vain, and produced negative results, although, as in the case of Spain, the people performed prodigies of glory in the greatest struggle of our times.

“It is a terrible lesson that Spain has taught us at the cost of enormous sacrifices. Let us hope that this lesson is heeded by the peoples of the world!”

***

In the issue of the FORU’s Solidaridad for the first two weeks of October 1937, we read:

“Although it might seem surprising to many comrades who view these problems from an objective standpoint, the entry of the CNT-FAI into the government ministries of Valencia and Barcelona, as well as the alliances with the anti-anarchist movements, were not really the consequences of the need to deal with ‘special circumstances’, but resulted from the lack of anarchist convictions among the principal architects of these policies; from the fact that they were not completely liberated from the statist principle, and the essential function that by their very nature the organs of the State perform; from the very fact that they even admitted the possibility that the emancipatory project could be served from the institutions of the State, if only these institutions were to be composed of men of good faith, of anarchists, thus denying the essential principles of anarchism, elaborated on the indestructible basis of the conclusions arrived at from the undeniable facts that history has provided us.

“In brief, we shall not resort to claiming that the misnamed governmental ‘anarchists’ and the men who sought to justify their policies, even if they say it was all an experiment, are basically totally lacking in any anarchist beliefs—quite the contrary: they are basically authoritarians, they deny the creative capacity of the people, from below (the basis of anarchism) and attribute more liberatory capacity to action from above, by means of committees or other institutions that, without or even against the will of the workers, dictate, not initiatives to be studied by all with equal conditions and rights, but indisputable orders, which must be obeyed, regardless of whether or not they respond to the needs of the oppressed, concerning which—and this is the other basis of anarchism—it cannot be conceived that there is any genius who can regulate the needs and aspirations of the people, but that the latter will realize their needs and aspirations only by way of the exercise of their complete liberty; when this exercise of liberty is lacking, then the creative initiative and capacity of the people to struggle against the oppressors and to organize life in such a way as to satisfy their material and spiritual needs, then, we repeat, this capacity will be emasculated, because it will be suspended in expectation of deeds that are to be carried out by saviors. This anti-libertarian labor, unfortunately, is what has been accomplished by those ‘anarchists’ who joined the government, supported by those who placed more faith in the ‘indispensable’ men than they did in the working people.

“The argument that joining the government was done for the purpose of preventing the intervention of the governments of other countries, so that it would appear to international capitalism that its interests were being safeguarded, but that what they were really doing was safeguarding the revolution, could not be more puerile, since it cannot be assumed, much less by the capable men who joined the government, that international capitalism is so stupid as to not know how to distinguish whether a government was fictitious or real; if it was fictitious then the intervention of armed force that everyone indisputably sought to prevent would have taken place, until the ‘fictitious’ government should either become a real one, or until it is replaced by another that really guarantees its interests and those of the Spanish capitalists, for which both will work in unison, due to the identity of their interests and ideas of social organization, establishing regimes that were fundamentally based, although their outward forms varied, on the subjection of the workers to the exploitation of the employers, thus assuring the existence of their iniquities and obnoxious privileges.

“To understand this question in any other way reflects intellectual shortsightedness, regardless of how intellectual its proponents may consider themselves—and you will pardon us for the heresy that semi-literate workers would be so irreverent towards the ‘elite’ of revolutionary intellectualism—or else bespeaks of a lack of courage that is needed by men to confront the consequences that every revolution brings in its wake and there should not be any revolutionaries who have not studied this problem in advance.

“Anyone who, for many years, has carried out propaganda in favor of the revolution and does not expect this propaganda to bear fruit, would be like a parrot who automatically speaks words without the least understanding of what they mean.

“It is possible that these men have suffered from those two great misfortunes for the revolution: a lack of anarchist convictions and the simultaneous lack of personal fortitude to assume the responsibility that the outbreak of a profound social revolution entails.

“We think, however, that it is the first of these shortcomings, which determined the anti-revolutionary position that these men have assumed and still support. Our view is based on the fact that we understand that there is no such thing as spontaneous generation, but that everything that happens has its developmental process, until it reaches its culmination, when circumstantial factors contribute to its full emergence.

“Assuming this is the case, it is logical to expect that at the moment when the Spanish events compelled these men to take a definite attitude, anarchist or statist, they placed themselves on the terrain that conformed most closely with the social conception that existed in the deepest recesses of their souls. They therefore demonstrated that the idea of liberty that they had disseminated for so many years was only a thin veneer that concealed the authoritarian soul that existed in the depths of their being.

“This assertion is corroborated by the fact that the ‘special circumstances’ they invoked became permanent circumstances, and neither the crimes committed with impunity against large contingents of self-sacrificing libertarians by the so-called anti-fascists, nor the reflux of the revolution due to the work openly carried out to strangle the revolution by the left wing political parties, even while they persisted in their obstinate or dishonest attempts to be admitted to the government, so that from their posts … they could continue to support the progress of the revolution, without noting that the work of the ‘anarchist’ ministers in the government actually contributed to the effectiveness of the current justice system in its program of imprisoning and executing a multitude of our comrades.

“We shall help the cause of the Spanish revolution with all our abilities, but we shall do so without abandoning our positions, meaning the revolutionary cause, the efforts of the people who are fighting on the basis of direct action, on the openly anti-state terrain, always working from the bottom up, a struggle that is directed towards the complete destruction of all bureaucracy and privileges, establishing forms of social life that will guarantee integral emancipation from every kind of exploitation and tyranny.”