Chapter 8: Feeding the crows....

8

Feeding the crows….

Our bare assertion that there was a “minority” that opposed the first “transcendental” resolutions of the CNT majority and the FAI and subsequent such proclamations, can be demonstrated by the alarming news that reached us and recently provided us with an accurate account of certain arbitrary facts that, in their own fashion, were depicted for us by the correspondents of the news agencies.

On the basis of these news reports we drew the conclusion that the authoritarian elements had increased in number and in power, with the condescension of the “Ministerialists”. Censorship was strict. All the committees of an anarchist origin were dissolved. Marxist nuclei were increasingly being inserted into the CNT militias and the State extended its tentacles all the way to the border with France.

The Secretary of the IWA, Besnard, tells us a great deal about these developments in his report to the IWA:

“1. That the militias were condemned and militarization accepted by the CNT.

“2. That the free municipalities that emerged from the revolution had been replaced by state institutions.

“3. That the Council of the Economy passed from the hands of the CNT into those of the Generalitat.

“I have on many occasions insisted with regard to Santillán; that he was responsible for the preservation of the militias. I have explained to him the dangers that an army in the hands of a government would represent and the security that workers militias organized by the CNT would offer to the revolution. Although Santillán assured me that he would maintain this instrument of defense of the revolution under his jurisdiction, on behalf of the CNT, he nonetheless accepted its disappearance along with all the consequences. From that moment, however, as he had to write later in Tierra y Libertad, he believed in the need for a transitional State to represent Spain in foreign affairs, and in the need for a ‘disciplined’ government army to defeat fascism. It is of no use emphasizing how foreign this concept is to our doctrine, and how much it resembles authoritarian communism. It cannot but favor the development of the latter, marking a considerable retreat of the CNT and an increasing abandonment of our methods and ideas.”

***

In the meantime, calamitous events have taken place in Spain, events that have justified the warning that comrade Besnard expressed in his report.

The Communist Party, with a tiny membership before the military uprising, has grown as a result of the affiliation of thousands of petty bourgeoisie and by the infiltration of “technicians” who came to Spain from all over the world, especially from Russia, which was the price of the sale of the arms needed by the “anti-fascist” soldiers. The dominance of the Bolsheviks was apparent not only in the army, but also in the police forces. And the means utilized by the latter to assert their power involved the commission of certain crimes.

Although the comrades of the CNT and the FAI have not decided to openly claim this, nonetheless, it is certain that Durruti was killed by the communists. The press correspondent in Spain for the Buenos Aires newspaper Crítica, José Gabriel, accuses the Bolsheviks of being responsible for his death.

Today this testimony is no longer necessary. After the (all-too belated) publication of the important “revelations” made by certain governmental elements affiliated with the CNT, concerning the despicable proceedings of the authoritarians, it cannot be denied that this dubious assassination and many others that took place in Spain were the sinister work of the “anti-fascist” cheka.

There was the case of Yagüe, a communist member of the Madrid Defense Council, who was wounded by a guard posted on a highway in Aragon. The Bolsheviks, who by that time were distinguished by their predominance, used this incident as an excuse to unleash with even more violence their animosity towards their “allies”, and this campaign was waged on such a large scale that the CNT and the FAI, alarmed by the direction that these demonstrations of “friendship” had taken, issued this communiqué:

“Faced with the situation of violence that they want to impose on us, we properly respond that we shall not allow, once again, after comrade Yagüe was wounded, that the comrades of our Organization should be murdered in the streets of Madrid, thus igniting a bonfire of uncontainable passions. Three militants of the CNT have been found dead in the last few days in the vicinity of the Capital.”

The Anarchist Youth, of Madrid, also added the following:

“We shall not consent for even one more minute to allow the authorities to beat, insult and arrest our militants and to refuse to recognize the membership cards of the CNT, the FAI and the Libertarian Youth. We are prepared to shoot without mercy all those traitors and the new-style police who try to arrest and beat us.”

***

Yet the “Ministerialists” of the CNT and the FAI continued to serve in their eminent positions. The maneuvers of the Bolsheviks did not cause them any grief or concerns. Such was the spirit of “unity” that prevailed among these comrades, and the admiration and adulation that they displayed towards the Stalinist authoritarians—out of expediency or out of fear—that comrade A. Schapiro was led to make the following observations:

“THE USSR AND THE CNT

An unacceptable position—It is with growing sadness and a feeling of acute pain that one now reads, and this has been the case for some time now, Solidaridad Obrera, the organ of the CNT. We are compelled to come to this conclusion, that this daily newspaper with a print run of a quarter million copies a day, has become a semi-official daily newspaper of the USSR.

“You need only leaf through the pages of our anti-Bolshevik Soli to see that it is full of articles that support the USSR and Stalin’s foreign policy, without the least discordant note that would mitigate this impression.

“We need only look through a dozen issues of Soli over the last few weeks with regard to the attitude of the USSR in Geneva and Nyon.

“‘The world proletariat must definitively support the position of the USSR,’ one article states, dated September 9, while the editorial in the same issue declares that ‘all the free people of the world must support the demands of the USSR’ and to drive home this opinion, another article proclaims that there is ‘only one way to reinforce the decisive position of the USSR: that is international working class action together with the Soviet proletariat’. On the next day Soli claims that ‘the attention of the proletariat is eagerly awaiting a gesture from Russia’. By a coincidence that can only make one laugh, a headline on the same page says, ‘Machiavelli, the Inspiration of Italy and Germany’ … forgetting, by an oversight, no doubt, to add the USSR, the most accomplished disciple of the Italian philosopher.

“A day later, on September 11, Soli announced that the National Committee of the CNT had selected its representative to serve on the Commission (created by The Friends of the USSR) to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the USSR. A few days later we read that ‘the CNT of Madrid participated in the tribute to the Soviet Union’. In the Soli of September 12, we are pleased to discover that ‘Spain, kept away from Nyon by European diplomacy, will have its place there thanks to the voice of the USSR’ and on September 18, Soli contains a portrait of ‘comrade’ (spare us!) Ovseenko, on the occasion of his appointment to the post of Minister of Justice of the USSR.

“But while Soli and the CNT pile up so many proofs of their support for the USSR, its government and its representatives in Nyon and Barcelona, neither refrained from engaging in abundant criticism, often quite bitter, of the PSUC, which is the Communist Party of Catalonia, Section of the Third International, and entirely subject to the orders of that same government of the USSR. This is a paradox that shows the whole tragedy of a situation that obliges the CNT to play this double game: to simultaneously support Moscow and to attack Moscow’s Spanish organism, the PSUC.”

“One is forced to ask: with regard to these positions, in which case are the CNT and Soli sincere and in which case are they not? Certainly, the USSR sells its military supplies to republican Spain. We say sell, because it has been demonstrated that not one kilo of weaponry has ever been sent by Stalin without receiving payment in money … or in gold. Concerning this question we shall transcribe the following passages written by L.V. in Le Réveil, of Geneva:

“‘Our friends have invoked the aid provided by Russia. It is impossible to attack the representatives of Moscow, because the material support of Moscow, as opposed to the shameful defection of the democratic-capitalist states and especially the cowardice of the proletarians of those states who have been deceived by their leaders, was absolutely indispensable to maintain any chance to defeat the fascist troops! However, why not come right out and say it: Russia has sent us arms of such and such a quality and in such and such amounts. Spain, on the other hand, has given Russia so much … and furthermore, the Soviet leaders have proposed, in the arena of domestic politics, such and such conditions and such and such demands. Why, then, should we acknowledge the aid provided by the Soviets but not admit the price that Moscow has imposed and that has been accepted by Valencia? The anarchist organizations have been made fools of, they have been victims and accomplices of this unacceptable hypocrisy!’

“For this unacceptable hypocrisy that continues to be displayed each and every day in Soli and which is manifested in the attitude of the CNT, so that the USSR can make them direct accomplices of the political calamities that are afflicting so-called ‘republican’ Spain, and especially Catalonia. We ask once again: which of the CNT’s attitudes are sincere? The justified critique of the PSUC or the so much less justified admiration for the government of the USSR and its foreign representatives, Litvinov and Ovseenko? Is the CNT sincere in both cases? Is it sincere in either one?

“Regardless of how the CNT might respond to these questions, two facts remain: the government of Moscow is taking marvelous advantage of the silence of the CNT in order to undermine the CNT’s position, transforming the latter, willy-nilly, into the accomplice of the anti-revolutionary and democratic-capitalist policy that Moscow is constantly pursuing. The CNT, up to its neck in kneejerk support for a government of assassins, support for which it is paying with its blood in order to obtain arms deliveries that are used in a war that has nothing anti-fascist about it, will some day be forced to desist from its criticism of the Spanish communists.

“For it is illogical to support a government without also supporting its political representatives.

“The Spanish comrades might respond that their support is not for the government of the USSR, but for the Russian proletariat; that its participation in the celebrations of the 20th anniversary of the founding of the USSR implies no more than its expression of appreciation for the October Revolution. Such a response would be insincere. It has been a long time since we have heard any news from the Russian proletariat (which possesses no means of expression). The appreciation of the October Revolution that all of us have never ceased to celebrate since 1917, by no means requires—quite the contrary—any collaboration with precisely those who strangled that Revolution.

“This unacceptable hypocrisy must cease. Moscow is in the process of selling to England, and at a bargain price, what little remains of the Spanish Revolution of July 19, 1936.

“We shall not become accomplices in this betrayal, in this moral support provided by Soli and the CNT to the Stalinist politicians. The PSUC only carries out the orders of Moscow. Our attitude towards Moscow must be consistent with this fact. We must publicly condemn those who, one as much as the other, and under the same aegis, are strangling the Spanish Revolution.”

(Alexander Schapiro—reproduced by Solidaridad, the journal of the FORU, second half of December 1937.1)