Part 2: Agrarian socialisation

Submitted by libcom on January 3, 2006

Chapters V-X

  • V: The Aragon Federation of Collectives:
  • VI: Collectives in the Levante
  • VII: The Collectives of Castile
  • VIII: Collectivist Book-Keeping
  • IX: Libertarian Democracy
  • X: The Charters



    On February 14 and 15, 1937 the Constitutive Congress of the Aragon Federation of Collectives took place in Caspe, a small town in the province of Saragossa which had been freed of the fascists by forces coming from Catalonia. (1) Twenty-four cantonal federations were represented. The list is as follows: Federation of the Canton of Angues, Alfambra, A¬nsa, Alcoriza, Alca"¹iz, Albalate de Cinca, Barbastro, Benabarre, Caspe, Enjulve, Escucha, Graus, Granen, Lecera, Monzon, Muniesa, Mas de las Matas, Mora de Rubielos, Puebla de Hijar, Pina de Ebro, Pancrudo, Sastago, Tardienta, Valderrobres. Each of these comarcal (cantonal) federations represented from 3 to 36 villages of greater or lesser importance. We have the complete list of these villages, totalling 275. The number of member families was 141,430. But at the time, collectivism was a reality and in full swing. So much so that very soon after many more collectives added their names to this first list.

    Furthermore, the existing ones witnessed a rapid increase in their resources. For example at that congress the canton of Mas de las Matas comprised 19 villages of which only the head village was completely collectivised, but at a plenum held three months later the other 18 were too. The canton of Angues accounted for 36 collectives at the Congress of Caspe, whereas at the following plenum the number had risen to 70. In the same period, the number of federated collectives in the canton of Barbastro had gone up from 31 to 58. The development was so rapid that in the time needed to print the latest statistics, those figures had been exceeded.

    It is worth pointing out that this movement was expanding rapidly in spite of the difficulties created by the war: in some cases, such as Granen, Amsa, Pina de Ebro, the Front was only a few miles away, and large numbers of our militants were engaged in the armed forces. One cannot but admire the sense of organisation and solidarity shown by the Aragon libertarian collectives from the beginning.

    The following are the practical decisions that were taken at the end of the discussions, the range of which can well be imagined:

    (1) Abolition of money within the Collectives and the constitution of a common fund by a general contribution of goods and financial resources for use in exchanges with other regions and countries. A ration book to be issued which will be valid for all collectivists. (2)

    (2) The examination of the structures of organisation gave rise to what constituted an innovation, by assigning the most important role to the communal organisation: "We accept the communal organisation because it makes it easier for us to supervise activities as a whole in the villages."

    Then the traditional geographic-administrative limits were modified on the basis of the needs of the revolution and the logic of a social economy opposed to the arbitrary and capricious carving up by the historic State.

    (3) The text adopted on this subject specified that: "In constituting the cantonal federations, as well as the regional Federation, it will be necessary to eliminate the traditional limits between the villages themselves; on the other hand, all working tools will be held in common and raw materials put at the disposal of Collectives requiring them, without any kind of discrimination."

    This intercollective and intercommunal solidarity for each collective included, if not the whole village, at least the major part of each village, was completed by other practical decisions:

    "In Collectives with a surplus of labour which they cannot use at certain times of the year for agricultural work, the Committee of the Cantonal Federations will come to an agreement to send those comrades wherever there is need of their services."

    Thus while maintaining the spirit and practice of federalism, which imply an internal liberty and the autonomy of management, one immediately goes beyond the spirit of turning in on one's self, or the autarchic vision of organisation stemming from a narrow concept of communalism. But is this not the practical and almost automatic consequence of concepts and practices of syndical organisation guiding, often unconsciously, the organisers of the collectives?

    We now pass on to the projects of development and improvement in agriculture. The resolution recommends, as a first step, the organisation of experimental farms and nurseries in order to improve on the one hand the livestock - sheep, pigs and cattle - and on the other vegetable varieties by plant breeding and seed selection. In every district, the resolution declares, it will be necessary to reserve for such experiments "at the very least a strip of land for the purpose of acclimatising new forms of arboricolous cultivation".

    Later a project was worked out to divide the territory of Aragon into three zones where huge areas would be reserved for the production of seeds for the Collectives in general "even if they did not belong to the zone reserved for their production"; that is, even if they are not in Aragon. Thus having risen above the communalist mentality, the next thing was to overcome the; regionalist spirit, considered as a very important step forward: by those who know how the Spanish mentality has remained' attached to the traditions of regionalism. In this connection, creative practice almost always goes beyond a type of theoretical literature, which was a little too widely distributed.

    The Resolution suggests: "Take for example potatoes. The seed has to be produced in Upper-Aragon and then delivered to the Collectives in the other zones, for this plant is more able to resist virus diseases in the mountainous areas than in the lowlands where the climate is damp and warm."

    The three large sectors into which Aragon is specially divided "will exchange their seeds according to the needs, and on the basis of the results of research at the experimental stations which must work in complete harmony and under the direction of technicians carrying out all the research deemed necessary."

    We have thus reached a planning concept of agrarian economy and there was no practical reason why it should stop at potatoes.

    One can easily envisage the meeting of technicians from the different zones comparing notes on their respective experiments and drawing lessons the more useful by reason of the fact that there were no clashes of interest to prevent the generalising of the most efficient methods of work.

    The third big theme on the agenda was that of the position to be adopted towards the small landowners who refused to enter the Collectives. A Study Commission had been nominated. It consisted of F. Fernandez of the Canton of Angues, Julio Ayoro of Montono, R. Castro of Alforque, R. Bayo of Gudar, E. Aguilar of Pina, and M. Miro of Ballobar. By six votes to one the following Resolution was proposed by the Commission and adopted by the majority:

    (1) The small landowners who wish to remain outside the Collective must therefore consider themselves able to be self-sufficient by their own work; they will therefore not be able to benefit from the services of the Collective. Nevertheless their right to act in this way will be respected on condition that they do not interfere with the interests of the Collective.

    (2) All agrarian or urban properties as well as the assets of fascists which have been seized, will be held in usufruct by the workers' organisations that existed at the time of the seizure, o n condition that those organisations accept the Collective.

    (3) All the estates of landowners which had hitherto been worked by farmers or share-croppers will be transferred to the Collective.

    (4) Any smallholder who has remained outside the Collective will only retain as much land as he can cultivate by his own efforts; the employment of workers is absolutely forbidden.

    To counteract the spirit of individual property typical of the smallholders, their property will not be entered in the cadastral register."

    This latter measure is reminiscent of the procedure suggested by Bakunin regarding the attitude to be adopted by the revolution towards the small landowners. One had to avoid a violent expropriation, and the solution of the problem seemed to him to lie in "the suppression of the right of inheritance". He came back to it on many occasions in his writings. And in The Conquest of Bread Kropotkin wrote that not only would the revolution not dispossess the small landowners who slaved to cultivate land that had been acquired by such efforts, but would send its young people to help them reap the corn and bring home the harvest. Though not formulated in specific terms, this concept was generally shared by the international libertarian movement in general.

    As one will be seeing on many occasions, not only was the right of small landowners respected but in practice conciliatory and even fraternal feelings were shown to them.

    The fourth point in the Agenda was the formulation of a general Rule which stipulated the general directives of the Aragon collectives, the text of which is as follows:

    (1) Under the title Federation of Agrarian Collectives an 1 Association is constituted in Aragon the object of which is to defend the interests of workers comprising these Collectives.

    (2) The task of this Federation will consist in the following:

    (a) To spread far and wide the benefits deriving from collectivism based on the application of mutual aid.

    (b) To supervise the experimental farms and trial stations which will be organised in the most suitable localities.

    (c) To encourage the preparation of the most gifted young people by the organisation of specialised technical schools.

    (d) To organise a corps of technicians who will study the way, to achieve a more efficient use of labour in the different branches, of agriculture.

    (e) To seek means for establishing and improving methods of exchange outside the region.

    (f) To organise exchanges on an international scale, thanks to the establishment of statistics relating to the production surpluses of the region; a Resistance Fund will be set up to provide for the needs of federated Collectives, always through close collaboration with the regional Council of Aragon.

    On the subject of public education, the Federation will undertake to:

    (a) Supply the Collectives with all the rudiments for encouraging leisure and the development of the cultural interests of everybody.

    (b) Organise lectures which will make a contribution to the general education of the peasantry, as well as cinema and theatre evenings, outings, excursions and all possible kinds of propaganda and cultural activities.

    (3) It is also necessary to set up in each Collective stock, rearing centres directed to the selection of more suitable breeds in order to achieve better returns than hitherto . . . Such activities must be supervised by qualified technicians . . . On the other hand all farming must include agriculture and stock-rearing . . .

    Various plans for experimental farms are available to the Collectives."

    Such were the Resolutions adopted by the constitutive Congress of the Aragon Federation of Collectives on the most important problems. (3) One must draw attention to the rejection of any kind of money system, and this corresponded to what one could call libertarian communist orthodoxy; on the adoption of the Ration Book, described as the "family ration book"; and that the calculation on which distribution was based was the official currency, the peseta. The intention was to allow the unification, and to facilitate the levelling of social relations, among the inhabitants of the three Aragon provinces, where living conditions were determined by the laws of nature which in that mountainous region often varied from one region to another, from the simple to the complex, by the extreme differences in climate and the irrigation of the land. Nevertheless, the generalisation of the egalitarian levelling up, which corresponded to the spirit of general solidarity, could not be realised because of the attack by the Stalinist armed forces in August 1937, which prevented many other projects from being put into operation.

    It is important to note, however, that even though these resolutions constitute a coherent whole that includes the principal aspects of social life, they are but a pale reflection of what actually took place in Aragon. To fully appreciate what was achieved it was necessary to traverse the three provinces, be present at the creative effort of the collectivists in the villages, on the land, in the workshops, the municipal or communal distributive warehouses, and to talk to the men who were to be found full of confidence, buoyed up by enthusiasm, and smiling both at the present and the future.

    The final Resolution adopted by the Caspe Congress had a political content. Faced by the virtual absence of governmental authorities in Aragon, and with a view to preventing an attack by the Valencia government, the libertarian militants conceived the idea of setting up a Defence Council which would replace the provincial Governor who represented the central government, and prevent or postpone government intervention in the region for as long as possible.

    But it goes without saying that this government could not tolerate the existence of an autonomous administration. Thus it published a first decree according to which municipal councils had to be set up everywhere in accordance with established legal norms. Since the Collectives had often replaced the municipalities, or had, as it were, merged with them, these reconstituted organisms encroached on those which the revolution had set up.

    On the other hand, this reconstitution provoked the resurrection of the political parties which had nothing to do with the Collectives - no more, anyway, than other revolutionary tendencies established as autonomous movements: the Collective had become the embodiment of the natural and general organisation of the population as a whole. Nevertheless, after July 19 and in many places, though the parties had been dismantled (mainly because, in most cases they had effaced themselves), their local branches either reappeared timidly, or were making efforts to reorganise.

    In isolation their members exerted no influence, united they could not jeopardise the Collectives while creating however a kind of nuisance opposition. And the radical republicans of the Right and Left (those that still remained), the social democrats (at least the official ones), some sections of the local Poumistas, (4) the Communists as well as the anti-collectivist smallholders, attempted to set up a force which in most cases sought government support (Poumistas excepted), and might have created difficulties.

    In the event, and in spite of this situation, many members of the political parties threw in their lot with the Collectives. But the resurrection of the official municipal councils, strictly political in the past, would allow a degree of penetration or pressure from the government since, according to the law, the municipal councils had to obey orders emanating from the Ministry of the Interior.

    Faced with this counter attack, a defence tactic had to be improvised. And the Congress of Caspe adopted the following Resolution:

    "Considering that the municipal councils perform a different role from that of the Collectives

    "That these councils are legally constituted organisms in which all the anti-fascist organisations collaborate and of which the highest representation is the Council of Aragon;

    "That the administrative committees of the Collectives exercise a different function from that of the municipal councils;

    "That the Syndicates are called upon to nominate and control the comrades who will represent the C.N.T. in those two kinds of organisms;

    "That there cannot exist any opposition between the management of the Collectives and that of the municipal councils;

    "That the one and the other are interdependent with the Syndical organisation, so long as the latter takes part in the constitution of the councils of the Collectives, the municipal councils will maintain fraternal relations through the spokesmen of the C.N.T."

    The C.N.T. and its syndicates, a traditional combative force, were being thus reintroduced into the political field, and with the Collectives would make it possible to guard against the disadvantages resulting from the re-establishment of the municipal councils. And by means of these three organs - since our comrades were entering the municipal councils as well - the libertarian movement gave great flexibility to its creative activity. The support of the Aragon Council, an organ which had become semi-official, was, at least for the time being, an additional factor to that flexibility.

    Opponents of the Collectives, especially the Stalinists, old and new, often state that the Collectives in Aragon were imposed by our militias, most of whom had come from Catalonia to check the enemy's advance, which they succeeded in doing for two years at the price of heavy losses. (5)

    It is true that the presence of these forces, against which the other parties had nothing with which to oppose them, favoured indirectly these constructive achievements by preventing active resistance by the supporters of the bourgeois republic and of fascism. But in the first place, if the other parties did not act in this manner, it is simply because they lacked combatant forces, not only coming from Catalonia but, above all, in Aragon. For, even without this rapport of forces, our movement would have played the leading role in its own right. It must be continually repeated the situation had become revolutionary due to the francoist uprising coupled with the insolvency of the republican government. In such a situation, it was the most important revolutionary elements that had to play the outstanding role because of their superiority and the support they received from the masses. Without the quality of the men, of the militant cadres who seized the initiative and adapted themselves to the circumstances with a tactical skill often quite outstanding, almost nothing would have been done. Perhaps, in spite of the peasants' hunger for land, the large estates would have been only partially seized, and without far reaching constructive imagination, because of s a lack of clear ideological guidance. The armed presence of our men contributed to the liberation of the population from a traditional past which would have limited its effort far too much; that is all.

    But that presence is far from explaining everything. Other regions bear witness that in spite of the existence of legal authorities and non-libertarian military forces, the revolution took place there as well. It was in the Levante, as we shall see, that the Collectives were most numerous and of the greatest importance. It was, for instance, in Valencia, capital of the Levante, that the government established itself with its bureaucracy and extensive policing forces. And in Castile, where at the beginning republicans, socialists and communists predominated, peasant Collectives were created and developed, and generally speaking, became perhaps more powerful than in Aragon.

    In going into things in greater depth, I feel able to say that, contrary to the statements which attribute the setting up and development of the Aragon Collectives to the presence of specifically libertarian troops, they did not play a positive role in this historic event. In the first place, from my own first-hand observations, they lived on the fringe of the task of social transformation that was being carried out. A military world, even if libertarian and a civilian world. A military spirit with its own preoccupations and, to some extent, withdrawn into itself, generally indifferent to whatever was not life in the Front Line. There were exceptions in which relations were established between civilians and militiamen; they involved a very minor number of people. Most of the soldiers, often Catalans, came from industrial areas, lived alongside Aragon villages without interesting themselves in them - even when they were billeted in the villages.

    As to the new organisation of life, production and exchanges, the military presence was more negative than positive. On the one hand the Collectives supplied provisions without payment for these troops who had to be adequately fed, since the government did nothing for them. On the other hand a goodly number of the youngest and strongest ma"¹os (6) had been called up and so taken away from their work in the fields and workshops. All in all, and from the strictly economic point of view, the Collectives would have benefited from there not being sections of the armed forces in the region. But it is true that in that case the fascists would have advanced.

    1. Graus

    Graus (7) is situated in the north of the province of Huesca in region less suited to socialised agricultural production than the villages we visited further South. The topography of the land is the principal reason. Here one is in the heart of the Spanish Pyrenees, in the middle of the thinly wooded forests where the rocks are more numerous than the trees. Fields are rare, and cultivated areas small. Cultivations rise in irregular terraces among the rocky and chaotic formations. One reaches Graus by passes where machines cannot penetrate. There is no shortage of water; streams, springs, rivers and torrents abound. But soil is sparse. Erosion carried it away in centuries past. Thus the villages are lost in the greyish masses, with their small populations and dreary homes, which do not always reach the hundred mark, one also finds them on the heights, dominating the minute valleys, and surrounded by enormous jagged boulders in the midst of which they resemble nests.

    In the more isolated places where life is so peaceful, progress penetrates with difficulty. Long established traditions hold sway, and minds are slow. New ideas hardly penetrated the high mountains of Aragon, as in all mountainous regions untraversed by living arteries. The restricted outlook on social life, the withdrawal into oneself, predisposed few of the inhabitants to a broad collectivist experience, which did not exclude however, and especially in this region, either loyalty or a regal hospitality.

    By June 1937, of the 43 villages comprising the canton of Graus, Capella, Campo, Vesian, Pelatua, Benasque, Bocamorta, Puebla de Castro, Torres del Obispo, Puebla de Fantova, Laguares were 50% collectivised. The organisation which I had the time to study most carefully was that of Graus. This cantonal village of 2,600 inhabitants which gives the appearance of a small town, is situated on the banks of the Esera, the river of Spain with, I was told, the most constant flow, rising in France and feeding the immense barrage of the canal of Aragon and Catalonia.

    Also surrounded by high mountains and well watered, Graus is situated at the intersection of many roads. It therefore became a relatively important commercial centre and the spirit of enterprise resulted in the creation of numerous small businesses to satisfy the needs of the surrounding country. In July 1936 40 per cent of the inhabitants earned their living from commerce; and industry and agriculture shared equally the remaining 60 per cent.

    One fifth of the cultivated land was irrigated, and used for growing vegetables. On the dry lands cereals, grapes, olives and almonds were the main crops. But in that year throughout North Aragon the almonds had failed following a heavy frost on one night, whilst more to the south, the grapes in the canton of Binefar had been destroyed by a thunderstorm lasting an hour.

    40 per cent of the irrigated land belonged to two proprietors. Another 40 per cent was more equitably divided, but the poor harvest obliged the average peasant (and one can guess at the fate of the really impoverished ones) to obtain a third or even a half of his income by work other than on the land. They took jobs in local industry, or as casual labourers on the land of the wealthy. Or again they would go to other regions on seasonal work. In the industrial jobs, wages ranged from 6 pesetas for labourers to 8 for builders and mechanics. But an accurate assessment showed that, bearing in mind that unemployment was rife, builders averaged 5 pesetas a day. As for the labourers . . .

    During the early thirties the young emigrated and went to live in Catalonia or in France; about one fifth of the young girls left to find jobs as domestic servants in the towns. The tradesmen and the small industrialists did not live any better. For a long time their debts had exceeded their total assets.

    As soon as the antifascists, advised by our comrades, had taken the situation in hand, they set about the social changes which we are about to enumerate.

    One has seen that the living conditions of the various sections of the population were very different. A day-labourer working in the fields earned a half of a mechanic's wages. The first thing to be done therefore was to establish the family wage which assured to all an equal right to the means of life. At the beginning this wage was paid by vouchers. At the end of a month, tickets which were divided into points were issued. Later, the relative commercial importance of Graus, its situation on busy roads, brought back the use of the peseta, the official ~noney maintained throughout most of Spain, as the general standard of values; then the Comite issued its own local small coinage.

    Trade was at first controlled but was soon socialised. Individual transactions were replaced by collective ones. A "Food Cooper" ative" was set up where all the goods found in the small shops were concentrated. Then a second cooperative (8) for cloth and haberdashery was opened and replaced 23 of the 25 specialised shops - for just two were retained. There were also 25 to 30 grocers' shops which were transformed into two large collective stores. One shoe shop was retained out of three; the two hardware shops were merged into one; and of the six bakeries and bread stores four disappeared and one bakehouse (instead of three) proved to be sufficient.

    The process of reorganisation and technical improvement went hand in hand with that of the collectivisation of the land and industry. In Graus as in many other places in Aragon, the application of socialism started with the organisation of the agrarian Collective. Faced with the gravity of the situation, the revolutionary Comite dealt first with the most important and urgent needs. The harvest had to be gathered, the land cultivated and sown and maximum returns obtained from reduced efforts, seeing how many young men had been taken away by the demands of war. By the efforts of comrades of the U.G.T. and C.N.T., the old swing-ploughs drawn by a donkey were discarded, the strongest ranking animals were rounded up and set to work with the best ploughs on the land from which the boundary hedges had been grubbed up. The land was then sown with corn. The agrarian Collective was constituted on October 16, 1936 barely three months after the fascist attack. On the same day, the means of transport were officially collectivised though they had been in fact almost from the beginning. Other new steps were decided upon, in accordahce with suggestions made by the two syndicates - the one socialist, the other libertarian. The socialisation of the printing industry was decided on on November 24. (9) It was followed two days later by that of the shoe shops and bakers.

    On December 1st it was the turn of the businessmen, doctors, chemists, blacksmiths, and locksmiths. On December 11th, that of the cabinet makers and carpenters. Gradually all the social activities entered the new organism.

    The Resolution voted by the agricultural workers allows one to get a clearer picture of the basic outlines and general principles of the collectivisations that followed, since in all cases their principles were more or less the same. This is the text:

    "Agricultural workers, meeting in Graus on 16 October, 1936 resolve as follows:

    1. They join the general Community of all trades;

    2. All the members join the Community of their free will; they are expected to bring their tools;

    3. All the land of comrades entering the Community must be handed over to increase the common wealth;

    4. When agricultural workers have no work to do, it is obligatory; that they help in other trades which might have need of their labour;

    5. An inventory in duplicate will be made of the land and chattels that have been brought to the Collectivity; one copy will be given to the owner of those properties and the other will remain in the hands of the Collective.

    6. If for unforeseeable reasons the Collective were to be dissolved, each comrade will have the indisputable right to the land and goods he had brought to the Collective;

    7. Members will nominate, at their meeting, the administrative Commission for their trade,

    8. When agricultural workers have reached agreement on this latter point, they will have to nominate an administratiye~ Commission composed of a chairman, treasurer, a secretary and three members;

    9. This agrarian Collective will maintain direct relations with the communal Bank of all the assembled trades, which will be set up by the liaison Comite:

    10. Workers who come to work collectively will receive the following wages: for families of three people or less, (10) six pesetas a day; those consisting of more than three people will receive an additional peseta a day for each of them;

    11. The wage can be modified according to the circumstances and at the suggestion of the administrative Commission of all the assembled trades; (ll)

    12. Workers whose relatives do not belong to the Collective will receive wages to be established by the Comite. (12)

    13. The expulsion of a member of the Collective will have to be decided by the central Commission of all the trades, to which the agricultural section also belongs;

    14. The members of the Collective undertake to work as many hours as the administrative Commission, in agreement with the local central Commission, will consider necessary, and it is vital that they should work with interest and enthusiasm.

    Duly informed and in full agreement, the agricultural workers take cognisance of this Resolution."

    This document as all the others of a similar nature - only in Alcorisa will one find an exception to the rule - was drafted by peasants who were not literate persons, and even made frequent spelling mistakes; one could also object to clumsiness in the drafting of the text, or to ambiguities in the terms used. Nevertheless the essential tasks are defined and practice would clarify and sharpen the thinking.

    As a contribution to this clarification, it should be said that no collectivisation was carried out independently of the will of the people concerned. As to the collectivist revolutionary Comite, which is not always called by the same name in different texts, its function was restricted to calling to a meeting - and only after previous agreement with the militants best informed on the problems and activities - each section of the producers which decided, with complete independence, to collectivise. Once having joined the Collective, that section was no longer autonomous. (13) The revolutionary Comite was soon transformed into a Comite de enlace (liaison Committee) which managed or coordinated everything. It disappeared in January 1937 with the reestablishment of the municipal Council as required by the government.

    Again, complete harmony existed between the two workers organisations' U.G.T. and C.N.T., who agreed to nominate four councillors each, and that the president, whose role was that of mayor, should be a republican worker chosen by a general assembly of all the inhabitants of the village. Impartiality and unity were thus secured.

    But the mayor was only a figurehead; he simply applied the decisions taken by the majority of the municipal Council which had to represent the Central government, to call up conscripts for the war, furnish identity documents, establish rationing for all the inhabitants of the village, individualists and collectivists. The Collective was only answerable to itself. The municipal Council intervened neither in its activities nor in its administration - and it was also true for all the Collectives in general. It supervised 90 per cent of production (only in agriculture were there still individualists) and all the means of transport, distribution and exchange. Of the eight comrades who comprised it, six were at the head of the section of which they were most qualified. The following was the classification established for each delegate:

    Education and Public Health which included everything connected with cultural life, not east the theatre, cinema (there was one in Graus which when required was used as a hall for meetings). The same section also extended to matters concerning sport and public health in general;

    Work and Statistics which dealt with the classification and allocation of workers, remuneration and the general census;

    Provisioning (commerce, coal supplies, chemical fertilisers, warehouses, depots and distribution);

    Transport and Communications (lorries and trucks, cars, wagons, taxis, garages, Posts and Telegraphs);

    Industry (factories, workshops, electricity, water, building works).

    The remaining two comrades, one from the C.N.T., the other from the U.G.T., were in charge of the general secretariat; they, were also entrusted with propaganda.

    In the industrial organisation, each workshop nominated a delegate worker who maintained the necessary permanent relations with the secretary for the industry.

    Each industrial speciality had its own accounts kept by the general Accounting Section where I was shown the master Account Book from which I was able to note the most important sections existing at the time. This list gave a fairly complete picture of the non-agricultural activities of the locality and of the general organisation: drinking water, the manufacture of goatskin bottles, carpentry, mattress making, cinematography, cartwright's workshops, flour milling, photography, silk spinning, chocolate making, sausage making, liqueur distilling, electricity, oil-store, haberdashery, hotels and cafes, forges, linen drapery, gypsum kilus, bakeries, hairdressing establishments, laundry, tailors collectives, soap making, paint shop, tile works, tin-shop, cycle repairs, dressmaking workshop, sewing machine workshop, assembly and printing shops, dairy-farm, building materials.

    Thus all was supervised and coordinated. Just as for distribution, organisation for production was rationalised. For this reason the Collective brought together in one building the small undertakings which bottled wine, which made lemonade, soda water, beers and liqueurs. Consequently the work was carried out properly, under more hygienic conditions for both the producers and consumers.

    The Collective also installed a mill for the production of olive oil using modern techniques, with the result that the waste material could be used for making soap; one industry stemming from the other. Among purchases one also observed two 5-ton lorries, made available to the whole village, and a weighbridge of 20 ton capacity, which allowed Graus for the first time in its history to control the movement of goods arriving and leaving the village. In addition, two electric washing machines were acquired - one for the hospital, the other for the local collectivised hotels.

    Needless to say, agriculture did not stand still so far as output was concerned. In view of the small proportion of cultivable land, the irrigated area only increased by 5 per cent and of the dry lands by 10 per cent, but the removal of the old property boundaries allowed for some to be reclaimed from useless hedges and paths. The land was also more rationally cultivated; and the headlands were all cultivated; production of potatoes was increased by 50 per cent, which made it possible to use three quarters of the production in exchange for goods coming from Catalonia. And by a better use of tools and equipment, fertilisers and human effort, more lucerne was available for the livestock, and a doubling of sugar beet for human consumption. Furthermore, making good use of even the smallest patches of land, about 400 selected fruit trees were planted.

    The Collective bought a modern threshing machine, modern ploughs and seed drills, a powerful tractor, a reaper-binder, a vine spraying machine, a ridge plough. The use of all these mechanical aids, to which must be added those supplied by the chemical industry, make it easy to understand why the productivity of the Collectivised land was 50 per cent higher than that of the individualist farmers, and that the latter ended by joining in the common effort.

    Before July 1936, the rearing of livestock had been neglected in Graus. But due to the force of circumstances this too commercial locality had to change some of its activities. For instance, the rearing of sheep was intensified by the purchase of 310 sheep as the beginning of a larger flock that could graze on the mountain slopes. But better still, I visited two granjas (farms) which gave a fine impression of the creative urge. Farm no. 1 was assigned to the rearing of pigs. It was constructed far from the village, on a site surrounded by trees and fields where the Collective was intending to establish a paddock for rearing fowls. At the time of my visit one of the two sections of the building had been completed. It was constructed with solid materials: stone walls, concrete floors, with ample room and well lighted and aerated. In twenty-two divisions, 162 pigs were housed according to age and breed. A central alleyway separated the two rows of stalls. The walls were whitewashed and everything swilled down daily, including the pigs when considered necessary. Work was almost completed on a large outside pen which would then allow the pigs to take the air and sun daily.

    On the upper floor of the building which was as solidly constructed though not as high, reserve stores of pig food were kept, and a large cistern into which water was pumped by motor. Outside, specially dug furrow drains took the liquid manure and solid wastes to pits where, after any necessary treatment, these were sprayed onto the surrounding fields.

    The breeding sows were housed separately, and in peace. Once all the building work was complete, the Collective expected to increase its production by at least 400 more pigs than Graus normally produced. The increase would be even greater bearing in mind the improved strains and the feeding methods.

    The project for a huge fowl rearing complex not far from this pig-farm should not lead one to believe that when I visited Graus and studied what was going on, everything still had to be done in this domain. The granja no. 2 was proof of it. It had been organised from the first days. A plan had been prepared on the basis of the most recent experiments. In a surprisingly short time, considering that only human labour was available, on one site five two-storey buildings were put up and on the other one building with seven subdivisions. Rearing was then started, using what was at hand. They used Leghorns, Prats, the latter an excellent and too little known Catalan breed, and hundreds of laying hens. Eggs were reserved for the Collective though some families owned a small back yard. There was also a large number of ducks, geese and goslings, for whom a pool was being laid out. Furthermore, young turkeys and sixty pairs of breeding rabbits were the beginnings of greater things to come.

    In June 1937, 1,500 chicks had been hatched and another 800 were on the way in seven hatcheries, five of which had been bought in Catalonia, one had been donated and the seventh had been built on the site.

    The standards of construction and the hygienic conditions of the building were excellent. The chicks were reared according to the highest standards: dried milk, cod liver oil - they lacked nothing.

    But let us return to the non-agricultural activities. In what was the corset factory some thirty women were at work making shirts and trousers for the militiamen. Most of the young girls were not paid specially to come and work there, since their basic needs were guaranteed by the family wage based on the number of members in the household. Nevertheless they came in two groups, one in the morning, the other in the afternoon; and they worked as hard as anybody. We were in the world of human solidarity.

    Let us now examine a little more closely the new conditions of existence. We have seen from the Resolution of the agricultural workers that a couple received six pesetas a day, that an extra peseta was added for every additional person on the principle that the more people there were in a family proportionately less would be the cost of living per person. The increase was uniform; thus a family of eight persons received 14 pesetas, a sum they had never seen before in their lives, for no special grants had been available for large families. Then as economic conditions improved the family wage for large families was increased by 15 per cent. Furthermore, there was no rent to pay, housing being looked upon as a public service: the price of gas and water had been halved, and medical services and prescriptions were free, both these services having been socialised.

    One should add that there was no unemployment, and as in all the Collectives, wages were paid in full for fifty-two weeks, of the year for, as one of the organisers in Graus put it to me, "one must eat every day".

    On the other hand the cost of clothing coming from Catalonia and foodstuffs from other regions had increased by 30 per cent.

    If one wants to make comparisons, then let us take a family of five (which is the average for Spain) consisting of mother, and father and three children or two children and one grandparent; in other words a family in which there is a single breadwinner. And if we take the highest wage ruling at the time, that of a mechanic and assuming he is always in employment, then his 8 pesetas a day, a good wage for a Spanish village, makes 200 pesetas a month based on 25 days' work. Under the Collectives' family wage those five people would receive (including the 15 per cent increase) 310.50 pesetas a month. Bearing in mind the increases that took place in certain prices, the difference was. not as large as might appear at first sight. However, it did offer a considerable advantage. Furthermore, as we have seen, that family did not pay rent, which, with medical costs and prescription charges, was calculated at 70 pesetas a month. That supplemented the wages as did also the plot of land available to each family to cultivate what they wished on it for their own use. It was also supplemented by the selected seeds, and fertilisers distributed free, and by the animals kept in the backyard. And it rose very much more for the builders, and builders' labourers working out of doors, and farm labourers who used to get paid four pesetas a day for six months of the year . . . Under the Collectives system it was no longer necessary to go elsewhere to look for work, and young girls stopped going to France or Catalonia to work as domestics.

    One can therefore say that in general the standard of living rose by from 50 to 100 per cent in a few months, that the productive capital increased in an astonishing manner during a war and when a part of the labour force, mainly the youngest and most active, was at the Front. The miracle was made possible not only because the work was carried out with a collective enthusiasm that was praiseworthy, but also thanks to economy in the use of labour and the means of production. One must bear in mind that some 40 per cent of the population had previously been engaged in commerce, and realise that a better distribution ofactivities made it possible there, as elsewhere, to free a labour force until then virtually parasitic and employ it on work which benefited everybody:


    The whole economic machine-production, exchanges, means of transport, distribution-was in the hands of twelve employees, who kept separate books and card-index files for each activity. Day by day, everything was recorded and allocated: turn ver and reserves of consumer goods and raw materials, cost prices and seiling prices, summarised income and outgoings, profit or loss noted for each enterprise or activity.

    And as ever, the spirit of solidarity was present, not only between the Collective and each of its components, but between the different branches of the economy. The losses incurred by a particular branch, considered useful and necessary, were made up by the profits earned by another branch. Take, for instance, the hairdressing section. The shops kept open all day and operated at a loss. On the other hand drivers' activities were profitable, as was that for the production of alcohol for medical and industrial purposes. So these surpluses were used in part to compensate the deficit on the hairdressing establishments. It was also by this juggling between the sections, that pharmaceutical products were bought for everybody and machines for the peasants.

    The Graus Collective gave other examples of solidarity. It gave shelter to 224 refugees who had to flee their villages before the fascist advance. Of this number only about twenty were in a position to work and 145 went to the Front. Twenty-five families whose breadwinners were sick or disabled received their family wage.

    In spite of all these expenses a number of quite ambitious public works were undertaken. Five kilometres of roads were tarred, a 700 metre irrigation channel was widened by 40 cm and deepened by 25 cm for better irrigation of the land and to increase its driving power. Another channel was extended by 600 metres. Then there was the wide, winding path that led to a spring until then forbidden to inhabitants of the village. The story is worth recounting.

    This spring discharged in the depression of a large estate which its owner divided into parcels and let for rent. This jealous cantankerous man refused to allow people to go and drink the water because to reach it they had to take a path which crossed a hedge skirting a field and a small forest which were his property. Even his tenant farmers on hot days could not use it to slake their thirst. Nevertheless, quite frequently, and understandably, people disobeyed the owner's injunctions. So the chap had his way by having the orifice of the spring sealed off.

    But the revolution changed the roles. Among the measures taken by the Revolutionary Comite, to the great joy of so many people, was the expropriation of the estate of that stiff-necked egoist and also the public enjoyment of the forbidden spring. It was decided to build, even through the hedges, a fine winding path down to the sparkling water; and the former proprietor had to take part in the work with those who had been his tenant farmers. When all was completed, and with that love which water arouses in Spain - and in so many other countries! - a marble plaque was placed above the sparkling jet. What I read, in golden letters, was: "The Spring of Freedom, 19 July 1936."

    As everywhere else, Graus also gave high priority to education. The most striking achievement, due largely to a man inspired by his task and by his convictions, was an Art School which was used during the day by primary school pupils and in the evenings by young workers. Drawing, painting, sculpture (or its study), choral societies (which must have already existed as they were to be found throughout Spain), the mind was being cultivated and the soul of man and of the child was raised through Art.

    At the time of my visit, eighty small refugees from the francoist zone had been housed in a fine property, which had of course been seized by the Collective, situated several miles from the village Five teachers, three of them women, were taking classes in the shade of the large trees. In the main building, beds of every kind, which had been provided by the people of Graus, furnished the rooms. Two experienced women were responsible for seeing that the place was kept clean and for preparing meals in the huge kitchen which previously was only used by the wealthy owners for a few weeks in the year. Food, furniture, linen, staff wages, all were provided by Graus.

    The situation was splendid with its woods descending towards the river, its park, swimming pool and varied outbuildings. The children were visibly happy. They had obviously never had such a wonderful time in their lives. It was the intention of the U.G.T. and C.N.T. to eventually establish a permanent colony there so that all the children of Graus could take it in turns to go there to learn and to play in the open air and the sunshine.


    I will end with a final impression, a last recollection which always takes me back to the past I lived through.

    It was in Graus that I saw proclaimed at first on the facades in all the streets most strikingly and intensively, the joy of effort and of the new order. All the places of work, all the workshops, depots, goods stores, carried on their facades wooden boards of different sizes painted red and black, on which one read according to their classification in the collective machinery of production: Communal Linen Drapery No. 1 and No. 2; Communal Joinery No. 3, No. 4 and No. 5; Tailors' Collective No. 1, No. 2, No. 3 and No. 4; Bakers' Collective, Cartwrights' Collective, Cobblers' Collective, etc.... It was a hymn, a proclamation by each and all, an explosion of confidence and happiness.

    All this was destroyed by a Brigade led by the Stalinist general Lister and then by Franco.

    It all remains vivid within me and will remain as long as I am able to recall things and men.

    2. Fraga

    On the bank of the Cinca river, which races down from the Pyrenees to plunge into the Ebro, Fraga, situated on a hillock, rises up with its very old houses appearing to be leaning on each other as would ailing blind people; one gets the impression that they will all crumble together.

    There is no shortage of land, and Fraga's 8,000 inhabitants should have enjoyed a happy life. The municipal boundaries comprise 48,000 hectares of which, however, only 30,000 can be cultivated, the remainder is steppe which is more or less useless. (14)

    In addition one is faced with the misdeeds of private landed property and of the historic thefts which, more often than not, go back to the time of the Christian reconquest at the expense of the Arab world: the rich owned 10,000 hectares used as a game preserve.

    Nevertheless, the ancient municipal rights prevailed - at least in principle. Theoretically the Commune was the master of 35,000 hectares and only granted the right of usufruct whether for agriculture, stock rearing or for hunting. Stock-rearing being an important source of revenue, uncultivated land for the custom was to sow a crop one year out of two or even three because of the poor soil) had to be automatically ceded to graziers whose herds in feeding themselves spread much needed manure on the land.

    But privilege violated legality, and the owners, a small minority, had in fact the rights of ownership (one can imagine what must have been their influence on the municipal council), and were the masters of life at local level. Nevertheless it is only right to point out that the inhabitants of Fraga in general enjoyed a higher standard of living than that of most people in other towns and villages in Aragon.

    The Local Syndicate of the C.N.T., which included all trades, had been established in 1918. It was dissolved by the dictatorship of Primo de Rivera in 1924 as a result of which our comrades started the cultural Association "Aurora" which carried on the propagation of our ideas. When the Republic was proclaimed in 1931, the Syndicate was reconstituted, then closed down by the new regime from which one had expected something better. It was necessary to return to the "Aurora" cultural Association which, stronger than in the past, built premises where it set up a "rationalist" school. When the Leftists triumphed at the February 1936 elections, the Local Syndicate was reorganised for the third time and soon had 500 members who were agreed on the principles of the C.N.T.; the Syndicate would in all probability have been closed down for a third time had the fascist movement not come and in spite of itself obliged them, to push ahead . . . only to destroy everything in the end.

    From the early days of August 1936, that is a fortnight after the uprising of he Rightists, the Collective began to be formed. But even though our comrades were at the same time the leaven and the principal actors in this enterprise others kneaded the dough with them. I saw in the socialised administration of Fraga, working alongside seasoned libertarians were middle class republicans, professional administrators, collaborating with enthusiasm at the chosen tasks. The delegate for food supplies belonged to the Left Republican party, whose leader was Manuel Azana, more Jacobin than socialist. The breadth of his views, his intelligence and his impeccable Castilian kept you spellbound by his conversation. When I asked him whether in the event of our winning the war he would or would not return to his party and leave the Collective, he replied with that ring in his voice which is a characteristic of the Aragonese: "I cannot say for sure what I will do then, but what I can say is that now I am for what is being done here."

    Then he showed me the index cards which referred to the administrative section he was in charge of, with an enthusiasm which matched mine. And this gave me once again the opportunity to see how the community of interests of all sections of activity was the great general rule.

    Undoubtedly a communal tradition inspired the organisational structure in Fraga where the municipality played an important role. The local council was the continuation of the revolutionary Comite in action from the first weeks following the July uprising. It was this Comite that took over the management of all aspects of daily life, based on the normal tasks undertaken: agriculture, livestock, industry, distribution, health, social assistance, public works, school organisation. There was one councillor for each. All were nominated by the workers concerned, with the exception of the councillor for provisioning and distribution who was designated by a gathering of representatives of all the local activities, for it involved problems concerning the inhabitants, both collectivists and non-collectivists without distinction.

    But whilst being linked to this coordinated whole, each trade had its own organisation, corresponding to its tasks, needs and b preferences. Being responsible for its work each trade organised it in its own way. Thus the' Collective of agricultural workers and herdsmen which comprised 700 families - half the agricultural population - was divided into 51 groups of which 20 were involved in intensive cultivation and 31 in non-intensive, where cereal farming prevailed. Each group nominated a manager and they met every Saturday to decide upon the tasks to be undertaken. The Communal Councillor of Agriculture attended this very large section in order to harmonise the activity of the growers, stock-rearers and the individualist peasants.

    At the time of my visits, the herdsmen were rearing and minding 6,000 breeding ewes, 4,000 lambs, 150 cows, (15) 600 goats and 2,000 pigs. Almost all the livestock had previously belonged to the large landowners and they employed the herdsmen and shepherds who were continuing to work, but for the benefit of the whole population.

    Each flock had two or three shepherds, one of whom was nominated by his comrades as their representative. The representatives also met every Saturday, with the Councillor for Agriculture being present at their meetings where the grazing sites were decided upon, arrangements made for the different herds, the importance of a breeding programme based on the consumers' needs, and exchanges on questions such as upkeep of stables, slaughtering arrangements, etc....

    Thus the work was carried on in a rational manner. Land, pastures, and irrigation when needed were used systematically. And the results were visible. The animals were slaughtered when they were in the right condition. One no longer saw 50 sheep grazing where 200 could be accommodated nor 100 vying with each other for grass which could barely feed 40. (16) Ewes that formerly would have been prematurely sold were now being kept in sufficient numbers for breeding. For the same purpose a suitable number of selected sows and cows were retained. Collective piggeries, cowsheds and stables for the mules employed on the land were built outside Fraga. Favoured by being able to use some 10,000 hectares previously reserved for hunting, the increase in livestock was rapid, and would have been even more remarkable had not the Collectives in Aragon undertaken to keep the front line fighters supplied with virtuality all their food without payment. Even so it was estimated at the time that if the municipalist Collective of Fraga were allowed unhampered development the herds would double in two years as well as showing a notable improvement in the quality of the stock.

    Now let us pass on to non-agricultural activities. The other trades comprised a general Syndicate with 30 sections; including the farmers and shepherds there were at the time of my visit, 950 members. Those sections were not therefore important in themselves and in many cases one can hardly talk of industry: three sawyers, three farriers, thirty-two building workers, nine plasterers, twenty-eight tailors and the same number of dressmakers . . . In the relations between producers and consumers, whoever needed a suit would contact the tailors' delegate, anyone needing repairs to his house would approach the building workers' delegate; to shoe his horse the individualist would go to the delegate of the farriers or the blacksmiths. Prices were fixed, and determined by a joint meeting of the general delegate for labour, the municipal council's technician for industry, representatives of the producing section and many members of the consuming public; they come to a decision based on the cost of raw materials, the work involved, general expenses and the resources of the collectivists. I noted the following scale for furniture: a double wooden bed 130 pesetas, a single bed 70 pesetas; a simple cupboard with mirror 270 pesetas; a dining room table 50 pesetas, with extension 70 pesetas; a folding kitchen table with drawers 25 pesetas, without 20 pesetas; a child's bed 40 pesetas. The quality of the raw materials was specified in writing.

    The buyer paid the delegate who handed the money to the Labour Councillor. The check on the actual payment was effected by means of a counterfoil book with receipts in duplicate, one of which was handed to the buyer, the other to the councillor. The stub remained under the control of the delegate of the producing Collective. Thus it was a simple matter to check, and there was no possibility of double dealing.

    As in all the Collectives, the different sections were not, so far as accounts went, autonomous or independent. They constituted a whole the separate parts of which were interdependent and practised mutual aid through the general machinery. Here too, building workers who were without work would go to help the land workers and when necessary the opposite would happen. And all the wages were the same, paid in local money established by the Council of the Commune.

    A single collectivist producer received 40 pesetas a week. A couple 45 and so on to a maximum of 70 pesetas for a family of 10 people, following the general consensus that the larger the family unit, the lower the cost of living per person. Where there were two producers in a family the weekly family wage was slightly higher at 50 pesetas for a family of three, to 85 for ten people. Working women were paid at exactly the same rate as men.

    To make a complete break with the past, the word "wage" was dropped and replaced by the word "credit."

    The individualists - some 750 families in all, though the numbers were decreasing all the time - sowed, cultivated and raised their animals for their own needs. But through the intermediary of the Collective, their activities were coordinated with the general plan of work. The agricultural delegate attended their meetings and in a friendly manner would advise them on the best things to grow and how to improve quality. The same delegate would purchase their products, on the basis of the price scale established by the Syndicate which these individualists who wished could join and of which, anyway, not even all collectivists were members. And this resulted in a quite remarkable freedom of movement which was characteristic of the Levante collectives as we shall see later.

    The foregoing indicates that distribution was also completely socialised, so that even individualists were collectivists where this aspect of social life was concerned. The food counsellor was responsible for food arrangements with Catalonia, (17) the Levante and other parts of Aragon. With the knowledge of what stocks of wheat or the quantities of meat, wool and hides, would be available at any given moment, he could in advance make offers for barter based on the established scale of prices. An alternative practise which was tending to become more widespread was to use the Aragon Council (which was controlled by the libertarians) as go between in these exchanges for it was successful in obtaining for the agrarian areas large quantities of the things they needed most from the areas with industrial surpluses such as machinery, fertilisers, petrol, lorries, textiles, groceries, etc.

    At the beginning a system of vouchers was used instead of money. But what was successful in one place was not necessarily successful in another. There was no misuse in Colanda, Rubielo de Mora and elsewhere. There was however in Fraga, so I was told (though my informants never got round to explaining the reasons in detail). So local money was resorted to. Then at the same time, goods in short supply were rationed, it was a case of a war economy since Fraga is situated on the road to Saragossa, that is, on what was the Aragon Front. As a result of rationing, serious inequalities were avoided. Each family had a ration book in which were entered the quantities of goods to which they were entitled on the basis of available stocks or supplies.

    All goods for local consumption were under the control of the food councillor and distributed by the communal shops, which here too were called cooperatives. Private commerce had disappeared. There was one warehouse for bread, three for groceries, three for butcher's meat and three for pork butcher's meat. The rest were in proportion to consumption or available supplies.

    Meat was brought direct from the slaughter houses to the pork and meat butchers' establishments. Consumption was carefully checked. Those responsible for distribution had to render exact returns on sales based on the weights of meat delivered to them. Thus from the raiser to the consumer the whole procedure was perfectly synchronised.

    Wheat, both supplies from the individualists as well as from the Collective, was stored in a warehouse for cereals. And in due course controlled supplies would be released to the communal mills which then supplied the flour to the eleven bakeries which produced the golden round loaves which were promptly delivered to the bread warehouse for distribution.

    The Communal Council had a system of credits which I did not see applied anywhere else. When a collectivist, or a small proprietor, needed money for a large purchase he approached the organisation for local finance and made his application to them. Two collectivist and two individualist delegates would then work out on the basis of an assessment of what the applicant could earn by his work, barring accidents, in the period during which he needed the loan and also what were his normal outgoings over a period of three months, and on this basis a credit account would be opened for him. Without interest, of course.

    This gave more flexibility to the daily lives of the collectivists, and in their case the section of the Collective to which they belonged was also responsible for the credit and guaranteed its repayment.

    It would have been surprising had the Health organisation lagged behind. In public institutions, in their clinics or on home visits, two doctors out of three accepted to practise their profession in conjunction with the municipality. Medical care was therefore virtually completely collectivised. The hospital was quickly enlarged from a capacity of 20 beds to 100. The out patients' department which was in the course of construction was rapidly completed. A service to deal with accidents and minor surgical operations was established. The two pharmacies were also integrated into the new system.

    All this was accompanied by a massive increase in public hygiene. As we have already seen, the cowsheds and stables were reorganised on the outskirts of Fraga. One of these, specially built, housed 90 cows. And for the first time ever the hospital was provided with running water and the project in hand was to ensure that all houses were similarly provided, thus reducing the incidence of typhoid.

    All this was part of a programme of public works which included the improvement of roads and the planting of trees along them. Thanks to the increased productivity resulting from collective work (which Proudhon pointed to as far back as in 1840 as one of the features of large scale capitalism, but which libertarian socialism can apply and generalise more effectively), there were skilled men available for this kind of work in the Collectives. The municipality under the old regime would never have been able to meet such expenditure.

    The advantages of a socialised economy are to be found in many other cases. The scarcity of water in Spain, and the problems arising from its use had resulted in the formation of many comunidades de regantes (associations of water users) set up for the irrigation of fields and which share among themselves, more or less equitably, the precious liquid. The problems and individual conflicts which it caused gave rise to the organisation of the famous "Water Tribunal" in Valencia which meets every Thursday to settle amicably without the intervention of the authorities or of official justice, the disputes that are submitted to it.

    But such disputes disappear when men no longer have to compete and fight each other to exist, or when the will to acquire wealth for oneself is no longer uppermost. In the region of Fraga fifteen comunidades de regantes covering the land in five villages disbanded. The morality of solidarity produced that miracle. The old practice was replaced by a single collectivist administration, which coordinated the distribution of water everywhere, and which was proposing to improve the catchment basin and use of the rivers, especially of the Cinca river, by public works which none of the villages could have carried out individually.

    As was the case everywhere, solidarity was extended in all directions. The members of ninety families who for various reasons such as illness, death of the principal breadwinner, etc. were condemned to poverty under the individualist society, were receiving the "credit" established for everybody. The militiamen's families were supported in the same way. A final achievement completes this story of mutual aid in action.

    A number of old folk, men and women, abandoned by everybody, sad human flotsam of a society in which misfortune is one of the natural elements had come to Fraga from smaller and poorer villages. It was for these unfortunates that a Casa de los Ancianos (Old Folk's Home) was organised and at the time of my visit there were thirty-two of them staying there. They had rooms (or small dormitories), a dining room, a sitting room with a large open fire, the whole place was kept spick and span and reflected the warmth and cordiality of the welcome.

    Three women attended them, two of whom were former nuns. I spoke at length with these guests weighed down by their lot. They were sceptical of the future. Whoever has been a lifelong victim of misfortune cannot easily believe in a lasting, relative well-being. Perhaps they foresaw that all this would be lost one day, either by the victory of Franco or of the republican government, inspired by the Stalinists, and deep within me I could not be so sure that they were wrong. But I had to make an effort to give them confidence and offered them words of hope. Then I asked them about the way they were being treated. One of them summed up the view of all with the conciseness recommended by the Aragonese writer Baltasar Gracian, Lo bueno, si breve, dos veces bueno (the good, if brief, is doubly good) when he said: "We cannot complain neither of the food, nor the wine, nor the beds, nor of the love."

    What more could be said?

    3. Binefar

    By its spirit and its dynamism, Binefar was probably the most important centre for collectivisation in the province of Huesca. Thanks to the high qualities of the local militants it had become the township of a canton of thirty-two villages. Of these, twenty-eight were more or less collectivised. Collectivisation was total in Esplus, and Balcarca (500 inhabitants) as it was for the 2,000 inhabitants in La Almunia. In Alcampel and Peralta de la Sal there were 1,500 collectivists out of a population of 2,000 while in Algayon only nine of its 500 inhabitants remained outside the Collective. In Binefar 700 families out of 800 comprised the new society.

    A tenth of the 5,000 inhabitants worked in small industries such as milling, biscuit making, clothing and shoe factories, foundries, machine repair shops, light engineering, shops, etc.... and supplied the surrounding villages as well as local requirements. The small numbers engaged in industry did not however prevent there being a social movement of some importance.

    The sole syndicate grouping the workers of different trades was founded in 1917. It encountered the kind of difficulties experienced elsewhere too: persecutions, prolonged closures, imprisonment and deportation of militants. Nevertheless during the first two years of the Republic, the membership rose to 600.

    Most of them were field workers and, as one can well imagine, their situation was not very bright. The unequal division of the estates was the reason, for nature is fairly clement in Binefar, and irrigation works complete its positive aspects.

    The 2,000 hectares of cultivable land available were reserved for intensive cultivation. Animal feed, sugar beet, various vegetables, and olive groves were the main source of revenue. Of these 2,000 hectares 1,200 belonged to the large landowners. The remainder were divided into small parcels one of which was owned by most families. But only about a hundred could make a living out of theirs. The remainder, often husbands and wives, in order to survive had to work for the rich landowners as farmers or employees.

    Our forces were still disorganised by recent persecutions when in mid-July the Francoist menace took shape. The municipal authorities belonged to the Popular Front from which the Communists were virtually absent. They did not want fascism, but they were incapable of doing anything. Fortunately, the militants of the C.N.T. and F.A.I. as usual faced up to the danger. And on their initiative a revolutionary Comite was set up on July 18 which they joined as a majority alongside two members of the Popular Front.

    The Civil Guards, faced by the determination of their adversaries, hesitated. While waiting for reinforcements they entrenched themselves in their barracks accompanied by the principal local reactionaries and fascists. But on July 20, after useless negotiations the barracks were taken by assault, and following an inevitable settlement of accounts our comrades left for other villages where they were needed to help to settle once for all with the defenders of the old regime.

    There was no hesitation in Binefar about taking the necessary steps to ensure life for all. Most of the harvest was getting scorched on the large estates whose owners had fled to Huesca. The revolutionary Comite took over the abandoned harvest and the mechanical reapers and binders. The wage earners who had worked on the land for the rich decided to continue to work for the benefit of everybody. Teams were made up, just as happened elsewhere, and with delegates to coordinate their efforts, would meet, to start with every night, and when the work was under control once a week.

    Once the harvest was gathered, industries were socialised. This was followed by commerce. A general assembly was called of all the local inhabitants, and adopted a Charter the principal articles of which are here reproduced verbatim:

    Art. I - Work will be carried out by groups of ten people, and each group will nominate its delegate. This delegate will have to organise the work and maintain necessary harmony among the workers; where necessary he may apply sanctions voted in the assembles.

    Art. 2 - The delegates are expected to present to the Agricultural Commission each day a report on the tasks completed.

    Art. 3 - The working timetable will be established according to requirements.

    Art. 4 - A central committee consisting of a member of each production branch will be nominated in the general assembly of the Community of Binefar. The committee will give a progress report at the monthly assembly on consumption and production, as well as reports from the rest of Spain and abroad.

    Art. 5 - All those who will manage the activities of the Collective will be nominated by the general assembly of collectivists.

    Art. 6 - Each member will receive an inventory of the goods and chattels he has brought [to the Collective].

    Art. 7 - All members of the Collective without exception, will 5 have equal rights and duties; they cannot be obliged to belong to one Syndicate rather than to another; (18) it will suffice that they fully accept the resolutions adopted by the Collective.

    Art. 8 - Any profits may not be shared out. They will be part, of the collective wealth, for the benefit of all. Foodstuffs will be rationed and one will have to see to it that food stocks are set up in case of crop failures.

    Art. 9 - When circumstances demand it, as in the case of urgent agricultural work, the Collective will be able to require women comrades in sufficient numbers to do jobs in keeping with their sex. (19) A strict control will be exercised to ensure that women comrades fulfil this productive effort.

    Art. 10 - Young people will not start to work before they are 15 years old; and will not engage in heavy work until they are sixteen.

    Art. 11 - Assemblies will take the necessary decisions so far as the administration of the Collective and the replacement of the administrative commission are concerned.

    It is clear that the Collective embraces the whole of social life. For its task extends, as we shall soon see, to education, health and all public services. Practically speaking the Syndicate plays no role at all. It has prepared the new order, but the latter establishes itselfand extends beyond the Syndicate.

    Neither is there a municipal organisation in the traditional sense, even if we go back to the communes of the Middle Ages. The Syndicate is inadequate and the municipality has been left behind. The Collective is the most typical organ of the Spanish peasant revolution which embraces all aspects of life.

    For now it is no longer a case of struggling against the boss, of obtaining or snatching reforms, increases in wages and unproved working conditions whilst continuing to be subjected to the wages system, but of ensuring production, of replacing - for this purpose yesterday's exploiters and organisers. And this production must be geared to direct local requirements and the needs for barter. Production and the enjoyment of goods, work and the sharing out of labour, are indivisible. As are the method of sharing out labour, the moral concepts which preside over, direct and influence the orientation of work. Everything is interdependent, interlinked. The sections of production are the toothed wheels of a whole mechanism which is available to everyone; for men old and young, fit or otherwise, for women who work or not, for children, the sick, the helpless, etc. This feeling of solidarity was to be found in the relationship between the different parts of the mechanism in general A lack of corporate feeling, of rivalry between trades or in work specialisation. The Collective was a human and fraternal whole. Industry and Agriculture represented a common fund. No wage differential between the mechanic and the peasant. The producers' sections helped each other. A specially nominated Commission consisting of a chairman (who coordinated the work to be done), a treasurer. a secretary and two members, kept the general administrative accounts, but took care to separate the accounts of each of the specialised sections so as to be able to correct and adjust them if necessary. Furthermore, two comrades, who were in constant touch with the group delegates, were responsible for the supervision of work and the results achieved.

    The specialised sections (metal-workers, builders, etc.) met separately to examine their problems, decide upon the work to be done, actions to be taken, modifications to be made to the inventories of requirements. On the other hand, in some circumstances, the administrative Commission would convoke them or the delegates in order to examine what this had to be.

    Binefar followed the general pattern adopted without any previous agreement, a spontaneous achievement as it were almost of a biological nature. The small scattered workshops were centralised. There remained only one factory for the mass production of men's wear, a huge workshop for the manufacture of shoes and so on. As for agriculture, the cultivation of wheat was increased by a third - without sacrificing other cultivations - and, but for the inclement weather that year, the production of sugar beet throughout the canton would have risen from the normal 40,000 tons to 70,000. Within a few months and in the light of experience, the constitution of agricultural groups as well as their organisation was modified. They ended up by establishing seven zones, each of which was a complete unit with its own buildings and with about one hundred workers.

    On the other hand, putting as ever the law of solidarity above all else, an appeal would be made when necessary to industrial workers and even to white collar workers who could not refuse their help - since it was agreed by the Assembly - with the harvest. During the harvest of July 1937, even the tailors lent a helping hand.

    For such a mobilisation street lists were drawn up with the names of married and single women. The former were not called upon except in exceptional circumstances. It was above all the young women who were called by means of the town crier who the day before would move from the square to the cross roads to read out the list of names of those whose turn it was to help.

    Visibly, work was not an irksome task. In mid-summer, for the sowing of beetroot, groups of young girls gathered in the early morning and would go off singing. Obviously some would have preferred to stay in bed, but it was impossible for them to cheat. Only those who had old relatives or young brothers and sisters to look after were excused.

    The delegate of each agricultural group or industrial section, would enter daily, in each collectivist's producer's notebook, his attendances at work. Infringements (if and when they occurred) could not be repeated without comment.

    The Collective guaranteed free lodgings to all its members as well as bread, oil (the only edible fat available) and pharmaceutical products. Other things had to be bought with local money and on the basis of the family wage.

    Consumer and other goods were distributed by communal stores. There were many in Binefar for wine, bread, oil, groceries in general, haberdashery and textiles; in addition there were three communal dairies, three butchers, a hardware shop and a furniture warehouse where all the production of the workshops was stored.

    As township, chosen also because of its geographic situation and for its communications, Binefar was entrusted with the exchanges between the 32 villages in the canton. Between October and December 1936 exchanges of goods amounting to 5 million pesetas (in hard currency) had been made with other collectives in Catalonia and Aragon. And they held stocks of sugar worth 800,000 pesetas and oil worth 700,000 as well as less important commodities. The telephone and electricity had been installed throughout the canton.

    Still, the foregoing catalogue does not give a full picture of the reality for this includes also negative aspects, which stemmed from the general situation. There was frequently a shortage of meat in Binefar and even of potatoes. The canton was more than generous. On the Aragon Front, militias abandoned by the government were without food supplies just as they were short of arms and ammunition. Binefar gave what it could - what it had. For months it sent from 30 to 40 tons of food a week. The whole canton donated 340 tons in one consignment for Madrid. In one day they donated to the Ascaso, Durruti and Ortiz militia columns 36,000 pesetas worth of oil.

    The collectives never stopped showing this solidarity. The following is a typical example:

    In June 1937 I attended a plenum to which delegations from all the villages of the canton had come. A serious problem was raised; the harvest was drawing near and there was a shortage of sacks, of binder twine, petrol and other things needed for the job. All this had to be purchased by the cantonal federation and distributed to the different villages according to their requirements. The cost involved many tens of thousands of pesetas to obtain for which it was necessary either to sell or exchange oil and many other foodstuffs which were intended for the front and thereby deprive the militiamen of them.

    Well, not a single delegate was in favour of such a solution! Unanimously, without any argument, the assembly declared itself in favour of an alternative solution. In the end it was decided to send a delegation to the Valencia government, a step doomed to certain failure, for the sabotage of the Aragon troops was a major consideration in the minds of a majority in the Cabinet - who knew that the food shortages would encourage the militiamen to pillage the Collectives.

    I therefore decided to send to Solidaridad Obrera, our daily newspaper in Barcelona, an appeal addressed to those militiamen, explaining the situation to them and asking them to give a part of their pay to help the peasants. The money was forthcoming and the harvest saved.

    All these facts explain the shortage of certain products that an uninformed journalist would note on his way through Binefar, and without taking account of the fact for instance, that an average of 500 soldiers were permanently billeted there.

    The spirit of solidarity which is the outstanding feature of the Collectives, invests them with other qualities. Thus Binefar increased its medical service. One doctor who had been in practice for some time, declared himself for the C.N.T. and at a regional congress of fellow doctors he persuaded a majority of his Aragonese colleagues to follow his lead. Then without delay he put himself at the service of the people. Thus the distribution of pharmaceutical products was followed by the construction, outside the town and in a specially favourable locality, of a cottage hospital as a result of contributions in money and kind from the whole canton.

    In April 1937 it was equipped with forty beds. An excellent Catalan surgeon had hastened to join the first doctor. Apparatus was purchased in Barcelona. A few months later, surgical, obstetric and traumatological instruments had been accumulated in sufficient numbers to allow a start to be made. An ultra violet ray machine made it possible to treat sickly infants; a pathological laboratory was set up; a wing was added for general medicine and one for venereal diseases - the front, garrisoned with soldiers, was not far away - another for prophylaxis and yet another for gynaecology.

    Until then the birth of babies had been left to the care, more often than not improvised, of midwives lacking the technical means for difficult cases - and there was a lack of hygiene in the peasants' homes. The Catalan surgeon started a campaign among his colleagues in other villages to send women about to give birth to the hospital where they would be better looked after as well as the baby, who would not be the victim of the customary lack of medical care.

    A consultation service was organised and patients from all parts attended daily.

    Apart from a minority of about 5%, the small landowners, who lived tolerably well before the revolution, retained their way of life and were respected throughout the canton so long as they did not keep more land than they were themselves able to cultivate. The exchanges section provided them with a special cash book in which were entered debits and credits on facing pages. Dates, quality and quantities and value of goods delivered and received by them were entered and thus provided an immediate record for both parties as to their liquidity. Anyway they could not exceed the rations allowed to everybody. Which did not imply a vexatious measure against them, since they had the right to take part in the collectivist assemblies where the quotas were established. They had furthermore, and this was more or less general, the right to make use of technical working materials at the disposal of the Collective.

    Among the work carried out for the improvement of sanitation, apart from cowsheds built outside the village, was the draining of a swamp covering some 20 hectares. This swamp, which harboured colonies of mosquitoes and foul gases, belonged to a large number of small proprietors each of whom owned a strip but who did nothing with it, since their lack of technical resources prevented them from undertaking the work of improvement. The Collective drained, levelled, sowed and harvested this former swamp and the yields were higher than average.

    One must however recognise that there is not an infallible conscience among all men and women who make up the population of the collectivised villages. From time to time one comes across human weaknesses. I remember a discussion between a woman of about fifty and a much younger comrade who was in charge of supervising work and housing arrangements. She lived with her husband, son, daughter-in-law and their children and wanted to change house: "My daughter has become unbearable," she declared. "I want to live on my own, as we don't get on."

    The comrade, whose name was Turmo - with the soul of a child, the courage of a lion, and a voice of thunder - strove like the devil against the artful woman who didn't lose her calm, but had in the end to retreat grumbling. I then asked Turmo why he had not given in. He explained that the proportion of salaries being higher for each person when the families consist of a small number of people, some large families wanted to split up in order to receive more money, even though their calculation was wrong. And it was a fact that there was not enough accommodation available and it would be necessary to wait a long time before more could be built in view of the numbers of conscripts who had been sent to the front which had been stabilised some forty kilometres away.

    It was a small matter; there were others, and the organisers of the Collectives had to cope with them calmly or with a sense of humour, and it was impossible not to have admiration for these men so full of self-sacrifice who, as determined constructors, did things so quickly and well. For in Binefar, as in general among the Aragonese Collectives, not one cog in the general organisational wheel failed, neither in the workshops, nor in the distributive system, nor in work in the fields. I travelled many times on the Tamarite-Binefar road. On one occasion, with a doctor who had also come from Barcelona, we passed by car alongside the fields sown with cereals, planted with vines and olive trees, where the market gardens and orchards alternated with the golden crops. I was pointing out all this to my companion. "These kilometres of plantations and cultivations where I nothing has been neglected belong to the Collective," I told him with pride. Two days later I pointed out to him in Esplus where I had accompanied him for the organisation of his work, other vast plantations, this time of potatoes, and more vines, and on the way I repeated to him almost with fervour before the miracle of this revolution that had at last been realised: "It's the Collective, the Collective that has done this!"

    The brigade led by the communist Lister was soon to abandon the front to go and destroy "manu militari" almost all the Aragonese Collectives, including that of Binefar and its canton. Many of their organisers, such as the Blanco brothers, were murdered, or seriously injured. The estates were handed back to the landowners and the hospital was completely ransacked.

    4. Andorra (Teruel)

    Andorra covered an area of 25,600 hectares. Its 3,337 inhabitants were divided into 909 families. Large landed property was unknown. The richest worked just as did the poorest, and only one proprietor owned four draught animals. The average was two. At the bottom of the social scale, families possessed a donkey and helped each other to work the land and gather the corn.

    Once again, in Spain - as in many other countries in the world - the land area is not necessarily a guarantee of wealth. There is hardly any rainfall in the region of Andorra. Therefore extensive cultivation mainly of wheat, grapes (20) and olives. Barley, oats and rye were of secondary importance. The few irrigated areas were irrigated only for short periods. In drought years the springs dry up and no water comes down from the mountains. Add to this the sudden frosts which so often destroy plants and fruit blossom, and hail which in 1937 reduced the olive harvest from an average of 28,000 sacks to 6,000. If the individualist landed proprietors had been in control Andorra would have probably become one more despablado (depopulated area).

    These climatic conditions obliged 300 families to live in large run down shanties called farms dotted in the mountains. The remainder of the population spent eight months of the year there. In the event, the village was almost always underpopulated. People would return on Saturday night and go off on Monday morning, pushing forward their donkey which was loaded with bread, wine, oil, beans, chick peas, potatoes, dried cod and pork meat - in other words, the food they had bought for the week.

    There was however a social category even more poverty stricken, below the lowest rung in the social ladder; they were the disinherited who worked under lease land belonging to widows, old people, spinsters, the doctor, the chemist, some landowners who were crippled or unable to work their lands. These farmers, who were medieros, received only a half of the harvest produced by their work.

    Two-thirds of the land was cultivated, but one must bear in mind that at least a half of dry lands in Spain was left fallow. In Andorra, even with chemical fertilisers and the manure produced by the large number of livestock, the land had to rest one year out of two or three.

    On the poor pastures which with rocks cover a third other area, about 13,000 sheep and 2,000 goats were reared. The animals were sold to other regions. The peasants hardly ever ate meat.


    corn to local monopolist buyers who naturally earned much more than them.

    Until 1931, the Right wing monarchists were triumphant at the elections. But after the downfall of King Alfonso XIIIth, the Republican Left was on top. In July 1936, its local section boasted as many as 450 supporters. The workers' movement was born painfully and had to feel its way step by step. The C.N.T. and U.G.T. had a small nucleus of sympathisers; in 1932 both formed a Syndicate. The lack of social experience of the militants and workers resulted in both Syndicates disappearing that same year. On May 1, 1936 a second double attempt was made. And each Syndicate had 15 members when the revolution erupted.

    On four occasions fascists who had come from other regions succeeded in being masters of the village. Driven back four times, they finally withdrew altogether - at least they had not returned at the time of my visit. A revolutionary Committee was nominated, for here too the initiative had to come from the village, the State apparatus having broken down and the government having completely lost contact with the inhabitants in general.

    The Committee consisted of three members each from the, Republican Left, the U.G.T. and C.N.T. This generous treatment of the Syndicates could be explained both by the broadmindedness of the local political faction and by the growing desire of the people for the new revolutionary solutions. The change was such that the Republican Left by May 1937 had; only 80 members left whereas the U.G.T. had 340, the young socialists 160, the C.N.T. 220, and the libertarian youth 100.

    The local Collective, which at the time of my enquiry included all the village and the whole population, was constituted on November 1, 1936, when on the combined initiative of the three forces mentioned, the revolutionary Committee called a general assembly at which republican socialists and libertarians spoke in favour of the new social organisation. Approval was unanimous. The individualists were allowed freedom of action, but there was not a single one.

    At the beginning, the revolutionary Committee was entrusted with the administration of the Collective. Then when the municipal Council had been reorganised by orders of the Valencia government, it was entrusted with the task under eight councillors and a secretary. Shortly afterwards, and to ensure the complete freedom of the Collective, an administrative Commission was constituted of the latter and it was this Commission which assumed the vital responsibilities concerning local activity. It was divided into five sections: chairmanship and treasury distribution and food supplies, industry and commerce, agricultural production and livestock and finally public works which included education. Two sections each were in the hands of the U.G.T. and C.N.T. and one was held by the Republican Left.

    For the organisation of agriculture, the territory was divided into four farm groups. In each of these farms lived a group of families and workers who went on going down to the village on the Saturday night and returning to the mountain on the Monday morning.

    A perusal of the rules concerning them will allow one to see how these workers organised and directed their activities:

    "1. Workers in each farm group will name a delegate and an assistant-delegate with a view to ensuring the smooth running of the work to be done.

    "2. The delegate will be entrusted with the organisation of work naturally n agreement with the comrades on the farms.

    "3. The delegate must know at all times where the farm comrades are working and what work they are doing.

    "4. He will also be entrusted with the preparation of the equipment and the farm machinery required, always in consultation with the work delegation which will give all necessary instructions in writing.

    "5. It will also be the delegate's task to supervise the work being done on the farms, and to enter in the book with which he will be provided all the produce delivered by each farm, and all that the Collective hands over: that is to say the various outgoings and goods received.

    "6. When products are supplied to a farm, the delegate of the farm concerned will be expected to call at the work delegation to make a return.

    "7. When a farm comrade has to absent himself for personal reasons or because of illness, he must inform the delegate; if the comrade does not give notice of his absence, the delegate will report the fact to the work delegation.

    "8. When for health reasons, or for any other reason, a delegate will not be able to carry out his tasks, the workers of the farm groups will choose another, and if they do not succeed, then the work delegation will make the choice for them.

    "9. In the event of illness, or unavoidable absence of any kind, the delegate's post will be filled by the assistant-delegate who will take over the supervision of work.

    Additional Article - In all matters concerning the grazing of the herds, cultivation for forage, and similar questions, the farm delegate will get together with those who are looking after the animals and with the shepherds who are working in the 7 same area in order to ensure efficient administration and mutual aid.

    If for reasons beyond his control a shepherd cannot releases herd, a comrade from the farm will do it for him and the delegate for livestock will look for another shepherd."

    One sees that work was the major preoccupation, dominating and imposing its law on everything; there was no place in the rules for the demand for personal freedom or for the autonomy of the individual. Work? production, solidarity are in the forefront This awareness of responsibilities determined the conduct and activities of everyone.

    Every Saturday night the farm delegates met with the general work delegate, and put in their requirements for materials and foodstuffs; the accounts of receipts and outgoings would be checked; thus each farm knew, day by day, the balance of its. activities.

    More than 200 men were at the front, 53 were working in a lignite mine that had only been operated since the revolution started; another 80 were due to leave for the army. In such conditions it was not surprising that there had not been an increase in cereal sowings in 1937 over the previous year, but the potato planting acreage had shown an increase of 80% and in addition 100,000 lettuces and 20,000 tomato plants were grown as well as many other vegetables in large quantities.

    Previously, these cultivations were on a minute scale; the fact is that under the system of private property, the initiative of one person, however good, more often remains just with the one person, whereas in the Collective the new spirit and the, new methods encourage everybody very soon to take initiatives. In Andorra the general concept, and methods used in agriculture were rudimentary. The creative spirit of all enriched it and especially since there was no longer the fear of difficulties in' disposing of the produce grown.

    Efforts were also being made to solve the water problem to develop the market gardening side of their activities. It involved prospecting for it and acquiring the engines and pumps that would be needed to raise the water from the deep land depressions which surround the village. The small proprietor could have never undertaken such a task which was outside his sphere of action and beyond his means and experience.

    Collective work and mentality produce miracles. I saw the first, modest start on water pipe laying being carried out by unemployed tailors - no one was ever idle and as was customary the sections helped each other. In a few years' time, the enthusiastic collectivists told me, Andorra would have enough water to irrigate hundreds of hectares and fill reservoirs which would allow them to deal with the periods of drought: but that if the Collective was destroyed this great work would be impossible, and each peasant would return to the bitter poverty of the past.

    The livestock was distributed among the mountain farms by two delegates who directed the distribution of the herds and the steps to be taken according to the quality of the pasture and the supervision the animals required.

    Each trade had a single workshop. As in Fraga and Binefar, a collectivist needing anything out of the ordinary, asked the administrative Commission to have it made for him. He would then be given a voucher to take to the delegate of the workshop which undertook to make it. On receipt of the finished article he would pay the administrative Commission for it.

    Local currency was printed, and a scale of wages based on the size of families. A single person received 2.25 pesetas a day, two adults received 4.50 pesetas, three adults 6 pesetas, four adults 7 pesetas, five adults 8 and beyond that at the rate of one peseta per person whether the members of the family were able to work or not.

    Where there were two producers in a family, 1.50 pesetas was added to the base wage; where there were three they added 3 pesetas and for four producers 4 pesetas. According to these principles the individual claims of each worker demanding "the full product of his labour" (the early slogan of collectivism) and the wage-bargaining drive of traditional syndicalism had disappeared. What was being practised was a "one for all and all for one" in which everybody was interdependent, and each earned, all things considered, enough to live on.

    Housing, electric light, hairdressing saloons, medical care, pharmaceutical products which by June 1937 had already cost 16,000 pesetas, were free, as also was bread which was unrationed. Eighteen litres of olive oil were distributed per person per year. Meat which was earmarked for the militia and for consumption by city dwellers was rationed to 100 grammes a day - in spite of the large herds. Austerity was in the make-up of the Spaniard from the Interior. All these consumer goods were distributed in the communal shops. One was reserved for oil, soap and wine; another for bread, another for butcher's meat in the former orphanage (there were no more orphans in Andorra or in any other collectivised village: all children without parents found a family). Seven tailors made clothes for the workers who had until then very rarely bought clothes. When in the past did a shepherd ever possess clothes made to measure?

    When one comes to the question of education, need one say that it was not neglected. Until July 1936 the school was installed in a dark and filthy building. Yet, six months earlier a new building had been completed but local politics, as filthy and Obscure as the old school building, prevented it being used. The Collective did not lose a day, and started classes there immediately.

    Education was made compulsory effectively. The new order would not allow parents to keep children of school age at, home. Consequently the number of pupils increased dramatically. Some sixty young shepherds between 12 and 14 years of age who came down to the village two or three times a year, who were born and raised among the sheep, the goats, the dogs and the wolves, were moved into the village and, when I was there were attending classes at the school and obviously enjoying it. Two new classes were started and many books purchased for them from specialist publishers in Catalonia and the Levante.

    The nursery school groups also increased in number. Out of eight men and women teachers the State paid for three, the Collective for five. But it did not limit its contribution to supplying the means. It also supervised the work of the teachers. One of them, stupid though qualified, complained that the heavy hand was no longer tolerated. It was a revelation.


    I want to mention separately the mine in Andorra. The province of Teruel is fairly rich in lignite. During the First World War it was used to replace the coal imports from Britain, which normally supplied most of the needs of the town of Saragossa. In 1937 with practically the whole of anti-fascist Spain cut off from the Asturias, the main carboniferous zone which was occupied by Franco's armies, there was a shortage of coal. It was natural to think of increasing the production of lignite in the Teruel zone. Equally natural that the government had not thought of it. So, the miners and the peasants continued or undertook the exploitation of the mines.

    In November 1936, seven miners who had already worked in the region, began to dig at a spot near Andorra on a hunch that deposits were there. With picks and shovels they dug three workings 50 metres deep. In 1937 when I was there, their numbers had increased to 53 and they were planning for more. No machines apart from a motor pump to remove water that was seeping through everywhere, or sometimes appeared suddenly as a waterspout from old wells that had been dug centuries ago at the time of the Roman or Arab occupations.

    With their feet stuck in the mud and their hearts in the clouds, these peasants turned miners continued, in spite of the harmful gases released by the explosions from the dynamite charges (there was no system for ventilation), to extract the lignite from this improvised mine. Working conditions were so bad that there were always seven or eight of them hospitalised. But when they came out, after inadequate treatment, they would resume their work with pick and shovel.

    This method of extraction produced only 30 tons of lignite a day. In the Asturian mines, poor compared with those in other countries but rich compared with those of Teruel, the average output per miner per day was of the order of 400-450 kilos. And they had at their disposal infinitely superior technical means. (22) Though here they lacked the equipment and the seams were even poorer, yet the average output was 525 kilos for miners who for the most part were inexperienced. Blessed solidarity! Blessed devotion to duty! "We are only at the preparatory stage, in a short time we will be supplying coal in large quantities" - said the man in charge, as if he had to make excuses.

    But what with the water that seeped from the walls and the roof of the working that I visited' and the fact that I knew that they had had to stop work for some weeks to dry out the bottom and remove the danger of landslips, I could not but ask myself with anxiety whether this wonderful optimism would not be destroyed by some horrible tragedy. But our improvised miners were not concerned; they were supplying fuel which kept several factories running in Catalonia, and they were helping the Collective.

    It is true they received extra pay compared with their comrades in other jobs; one kilo of soap a week, a pair of canvas shoes a month, and a pair of overalls . . .!

    5. Alcorisa

    First of all I want to say something about Jaime Segovia. He deserves it, or rather his memory deserves it for he paid with his life for his support of the finest human ideal, and for his devotion to the cause of the workers, the exploited and the defeated.

    For those who know the Spanish language really well and the profound meaning of words, this name and forename have echoes from far off Castilian nobility. In fact my comrade and friend descended from an old aristocratic family. And on his face along with the goodness and intelligence there was also a worn look of the "end of a breed", of human stock in the process of degeneration.

    By the age of twenty-one he was a lawyer. Though his ancestral fortune had been broken into and divided from generation to generation, his real estate at the beginning of 1936 was still worth half a million pesetas which represented quite a tidy fortune. With his land he could exploit peasants and profit handsomely from his university qualifications; but he despised even the thought of such an eventuality. Our comrades seemed to him to be people who interpreted life in the most sensible way and were closer to human truth. Rejecting the worldly hypocrisies to support what he felt was most worthy, he moved towards them. And when the revolution exploded he brought to it all his wealth and energy.

    Alcorisa, in the province of Teruel, had 4,000 inhabitants. It is the centre of nineteen villages. The land there is not as poor as elsewhere, irrigation was sufficient and economically the people were privileged compared with the rest of the canton. There were few landowners, and there were even fewer farmers. The large terratenientes also owned estates elsewhere. Industry - flour and oil mills, soap, lemonade, soda-water factories and sulphur production - employed only 5% of available labour. The badly paid day-labourers dominated numerically.

    Our Syndicate was the only one able to establish itself there and it went back to 1917. It suffered setbacks and persecution such as were experienced in many other villages. And as everywhere else our militants persisted in the struggle. Their efforts succeeded.

    In the first place Alcorisa fell into the hands of the fascists, but was retaken at the end of a week by a column organised by our comrades in the mountains where they had taken refuge, and which forced the Civil Guard and those it was protecting to withdraw in the direction of Teruel. Instead of disbanding, this column reinforced itself. Combatants from other villages joined them, armed with revolvers and pistols (often quite ancient), old shot guns or with arms taken from the Civil Guard, with bombs hastily and crudely assembled. Then without any kind of military discipline, they set off to the other sectors of the Aragon front to fight the well armed, equipped and disciplined fascist forces.

    From the moment Alcorisa was retaken. a local defence Comite was organised composed of two each from the C.N.T., the Republican Left, the Republican Alliance and the Anarchist Federation (F.A.I.). And the next day on the same basis a "Central Administrative Comite'' was nominated.

    So far as economic questions were concerned this Comite had only one alternative: either to leave things as they were - respect private commerce, allow the politically suspect tradespeople to sabotage the stability of the new order, and the well-to-do to secure for themselves three or four times as much food as could those who were not - or control everything so that nobody lacked-anything, and prevent economic chaos resulting in solutions favourable to fascism. The Comite chose the latter.

    In the first place, it was necessary to establish a control, supervise the movement of foodstuffs and the sale of the normal consumer goods, which could not be done if every tradesman could dispose of goods as he wished. Free trade in the bourgeois sense of the word was therefore abolished. Neither could one leave each family to buy on the sole basis of the means at their disposal. Complete equality started with consumption.

    Then the struggle, the departure of 500 men for the front, the solidarity which united the inhabitants in that period of collective exhilaration, created other problems. The crop had to be brought in, but no one was going to harvest with scythes and sickles whilst the mechanical harvesters belonging to the rich were lying idle. Three days after the Comite was formed a meeting of all the agricultural workers decided on the organisation of 23 teams each of which named its delegate and shared out the machinery and the tasks. Socialism was born there as elsewhere, very simply, almost without an awareness of the extent and significance of the task being undertaken.

    Three weeks after the victory, the 23 improvised sections were definitively constituted, on the basis of a detailed division of the municipal territory. Account was taken of the characteristics of the soil, the kinds of cultivation to be undertaken, the numerical importance of the population, the varieties and numbers of livestock, and the technical means at their disposal. And by taking this course, the tendency, a year later, was to make each of these sections into an economic unit which was as complete as possible, though always based on collective activity duly coordinated.

    In due course the Collective was definitively constituted. The following were the main Articles which were more complex, because more erudite, than those of other Collectives which did not have jurists at their head:

    "Property in goods - Personal and real estate as well as machinery, tools, money, credits provided by the workers' only Syndicate, by the Municipal Council and by the members of the Collective, will constitute the property in goods.

    Usufruct - The Collective will hold in usufruct the assets that will be handed over to it by the Municipal Council and by the defence Comite in order to use them to advantage, including those which are provisionally handed over either because, for reasons of age or illness, their owners cannot make use of them, or because they have been abandoned by the owners.

    Members of the Collective - All the members of the single Syndicate of workers will be considered as founder members of; the Collective; all who join later will be equally accepted as members They will be admitted by a decision of the Assembly. All requests will have to be accompanied by a statement of the applicantÐs political antecedents and a list of the applicant's property.

    Withdrawal - Any member of the Collective can withdraw of his own accord; but the assembly reserves the right to express its views on the reasons given for withdrawal, and when such reasons do not appear to be valid, the resigner will not be entitled to the return of the goods and property he brought to the Collective Also anyone expelled from the Collective loses the right to demand the return of what he handed over at the time of joining.

    Administration - The administration of the Collective will be entrusted to a commission of five members of whom one will deal with food supplies, another with agriculture, a third with labour, one for public education, and finally a general secretary."

    Other Articles followed on the role of the general Assembly, the rights and duties of the Collectivists, the conditions for dissolution, etc.

    One feels here the influence of two lawyers - for with Jaime Segovia there was another, an equally good organiser whose name escapes me - who worked with our peasant comrades. In the statutes of other Collectives one finds less juridical language and knowledge, but more practical and human substance.

    Successive general assemblies took the decisions on which the Collective in Alcorisa was operating when I visited it. By their decision the 23 agricultural delegates met weekly to organise the work in the fields.

    They made original innovations for distribution. Firstly, they had introduced completely free consumption as best reflecting the principles of libertarian communism. All that each family had to do was to appear before the administrative Comite and ask for, and receive, a voucher requiring those in charge of foodstores to supply the voucher holder with his/her requirements of oil, potatoes, fresh and dry vegetables, clothing, etc. At the time only meat and wine were rationed but two months later everything had to be rationed.

    No formalities were required to go free of charge to the cinema, the cafe (where lemonade was the only drink available), the barber or the hairdresser, or even to receive one's share of the small quantity of tobacco that could be obtained during the war.

    But I was told there were abuses and for some articles the demand far exceeded supplies. So for three months they experimented with a local money which was used exclusively for purchasing clothing, shoes, household utensils, coffee and tobacco. A man had a peseta a day, a woman 70 cents and a child over 14 years 40 cents . . . no doubt "para vicios" ("to indulge one's weaknesses") as they would say in the North of Aragon.

    A list was printed. It stipulated what each individual could receive on the basis of the food situation. The following rations were maintained until November 1936 (bearing in mind that a large proportion of foodstuffs was sent to the front):

    Meat 100 grammes a day; bread 500; sugar, rice, dried beans 40, a half-litre of wine; and 1 tin of sardines per week. In addition everyone was entitled to half a kilo of salt, one kilo of soap, two bluebags for the washing, a broom and half a litre of lye per month.

    But this solution did not satisfy the libertarians in Alcorisa? nor even the republicans who were libertarians by temperament, and had all joined the C.N.T. after having dissolved the local section of their party. It seemed too rigid, unintentionally vexatious, i to oblige people to consume what was imposed on them ort leave it.

    On the other hand the prime movers of the Collective wanted at all costs to avoid a return to the monetary system, to accursed ,; "money". Many of them including Jaime Segovia racked their' brains for days to find a new solution. And what they came up with was a points system which operated in the following manner:

    The 500 grammes of bread were worth 41 points and 100 grammes of meat 5, therefore 661 points per week. All the remaining items, soap, beans, pasta, wine, etc. were also allocated points. On that basis a man was entitled to 450 points, a single woman to 375 and a married woman to 362, and a child to 167 from birth.

    Within these limits each family, each individual, could spend as they thought fit their allocation of points, consuming more meat and less dried beans, more wine and less oil, etc.... An excessive consumption is thereby avoided while at the time respecting everybody's freedom of choice.

    For footwear, clothing and household goods a separate accounting was maintained. Calculation in money terms had disappeared and was replaced by a special booklet on the first page of which was indicated the points entitlement for each family for goods other than food. Thus 24 points for household utensils per person per year, 60 points for footwear, 120 for clothing, etc....

    As well as its general store, Alcorisa had four collectivised grocers, a shop called a textile cooperative, a haberdasher's, four magnificent, clean, butcher's shops for the inhabitants to get their supplies. Everything else was also distributed in specially organised shops where the purchases of each family would be entered in the general register with a view to attempting a detailed study of the trends in consumption and ensuring an accountancy so detailed that it could be checked over at any time. If a member of the Collective were to lose his card then what he had consumed and what he was still entitled to, could be ascertained without delay.

    We have seen that children were entitled to 167 points from birth. And their points cards had an additional ration of soap and lye, 100 grammes of meat and pasta. These substantial foods were obviously not intended for the newly born babies but for the mother, who could also dispose of the points as she wished.

    Alcorisa felt the effects of the absence of the 500 men at the front. Nevertheless the cultivated area was increased by 50%. Such a large increase was possible only because some of the fields which normally would have been fallow were ploughed and sowed. The task was facilitated by the purchase of excellent ploughs which had rarely been used in the past. Furthermore, greater use was made that year of chemical fertilisers than previously, with the result that the future for agriculture was bright.

    The redoubled efforts by everybody also contributed. Not only by the men who had remained but also by the women, as well as by those militiamen who regularly sent half their pay to the Collective. (23)

    Changes were made to some activities. A church was transformed into a cinema, and a convent into a school. Two competing garages were reduced to one which was quite sufficient for the needs, and in the other they set up a well organised hairdressing saloon and a small shoe factory in which all the machinery from all the previously dispersed workshops was assembled. Good shoes, and sandals both for the people of Alcorisa and of neighbouring villages were being produced there. The person in charge had been a reactionary employer, therefore potentially a Franco supporter. But he had only been expropriated. When I spoke with him he told me that he had been convinced of the advantages of socialised production, for working with the old individualist system output was a third of what it now was.

    One factory newly set up was supplying the whole region and some of the militiamen on the Teruel front with salt provisions. There was one tailor's workshop, one carpenter's shop and a blacksmith's belonging to the Collective. The building workers who got ready a fine building for the Syndicate also did repair work to houses at no charge to the occupants. The lye, lemonade and soda-water were all made in one establishment. A hotel was organised and a stud farm set up where selected horses and donkeys were sent with a view to rapidly improving the non-bovine draught animals in Alcorisa and in the surrounding country. Finally, a fine, clean, healthy herd of cows was housed in a single cowhouse.

    As everywhere else there were in Alcorisa classes within the classes, poor amongst the poor, outcasts among the outcasts of fortune. And the income of all the small proprietors had not been the same; and some workers earned less than some favoured peasants, as did a labourer compared with a skilled worker or a shepherd compared with a labourer. The Collective transformed everything, guaranteeing to everybody the same means of life.

    The recalcitrant smallholders in Alcorisa (there were about a hundred in all), as in all other villages living under the new regime, could not trade in their produce. They had to deliver it to the municipal Council, entirely composed of members of the C.N.T., and were paid with money specially created for their use. But so far as consumption was concerned they were subjected to rationing as applied to everybody. After all one was at war.

    The villages in the canton of Alcorisa engaged in a system of compensatory mutual aid as was the case in the other regions of Aragon and Spain where Collectives had been established, and actual barter arrangements extended to 118 towns and villages in Aragon, Levante, Catalonia and even in Castile.

    In the early days as a result of the vicissitudes of the armed struggle, the teaching arrangements had been insufficient. There were only two schools in July, 1936. Jaime Segovia had to improvise as a teacher while they were waiting for qualified teachers to join them from the towns. The cost of education was borne by the local administration.

    This same administration was responsible for providing accommodation and furniture for all new domestic setups. Legal marriage had completely disappeared, but unions were officially recorded in a book in the town hall.

    Alcorisa was not one of the worst but neither was it a model village in Aragon. The houses there were oldish, and the narrow streets, sometimes encased between boulders, made expansion of the inhabitable area difficult. Our comrades had plans and a start had been made - one could clearly discern Jaime Segovia's spirit of initiative in all this - to create within the municipal boundaries twenty-three units. It was hoped that each unit would have its owns means of existence, with in addition agricultural production, livestock and poultry, all the means for comfort and the cultivation of the mind; electricity, swimming pool, radio, library, games, etc. Already at the tine small waterfalls were being used to generate electricity for lighting.

    I visited the unit where work was most advanced. The area had been divided into two: one intended for agriculture, the other for stock raising. It covered eight square kilometres. In the former cereals, vegetables, fruit, grapes, hay and lucerne were produced; all that one would normally expect from good land, good husbandry and good irrigation. In the latter, the initial effort had resulted in the construction of a vast concrete piggery with divisions permitting the individual housing of 100 animals which, as in Graus, all had individual access to the open air. Work on expanding the accommodation was about to start and the fact of this specialisation indicated that economic relations, of other kinds too, had to be maintained between the twenty-three libertarian phalansteries.

    The rearing of lambs was also increased and large numbers of heifers were purchased here and there and the project was to construct in one of the units a cowhouse to accommodate some hundred cows. As to poultry, rabbits, etc.... they were concentrating on increasing rabbit production as there was an abundance of suitable food for them.


    When Franco's troops arrived in Alcorisa, Jaime Segovia who would not leave, was arrested, tortured, and at the end of six months, shot.

    6. Mas de las Matas

    To the north of the province of Teruel, Mas de las Matas is the chief village of the canton bearing its name, and comprises 19 villages. It had 2,300 inhabitants. The most important of the surrounding localities were Aguaviva with 2,000 inhabitants, Mirambel (1,400), La Ginebrosa (1,300). Only six villages were entirely collectivised by May 1937, four were almost completely, and for five others collectivisation was 50%. Three others were about to collectivise and only one village was hesitating. Very soon all the villages were 100% collectivised.

    Here the libertarian movement preceded the syndicalist movement. Smallholdings were widespread, and did not favour the emergence of associations of wage earners. And in Mas de las Matas where thanks to irrigation life was relatively comfortable compared with the surrounding villages which were more or less without water and life was hard, libertarian ideas took root from the beginnings of the century. Not so much on class issues as for reasons of human conscience. If groups were started to fight against the exploitation of man by man, for equality and social justice and against subjection by the State, their inspiration was above all humanist. It was the last generation of these men who were at the head of the collectivist organisation of the canton.

    Under the monarchy liberal tendencies predominated. The Republic of 1931 brought about some changes, so mild that they disappointed most of the population. The result was that they tended towards the revolutionary Left; in 1932 the first C.N.T. Syndicate was created and on the 8th December of the same year, in an insurrectional coup which covered Aragon and a large part of Catalonia, libertarian communism was proclaimed. The Civil Guard, at the orders of the republic as it had previously been in the service of the monarchy, put down this first attempt in two days, and the Syndicate was closed until the eve of the legislative elections in February, 1936 which gave victory to the Popular Front. The Syndicate was then immediately reconstituted.

    Five months later the local fascists were defeated without a struggle and towards mid-September our comrades launched the idea of an agrarian Collective. The initiative was accepted unanimously at a meeting of the Syndicate. But not all the smallholders were members of the Syndicate. It was therefore necessary to set up a separate group. A list of those who had already joined of their own accord was circulated and within a fortnight 200 families had joined. At the time of my visit the number had risen to 550 out of a total of 600 families comprising the population of the village. The remaining 50 families belonged to the socialist U.G.T. and obeyed the instructions issued by their leaders.

    Throughout the canton the same principle was applied. One was free to join the Collective or to carry on cultivating the land individually. The various stages of socialisation achieved by the different villages was proof of this freedom of choice.

    In none of these villages was there a written list of rules. Simply each month the assembly of members of each Collective would indicate to the Commission consisting of five elected members, the general lines to follow on specific problems that had been openly discussed.

    In spite of that, my recollection of Mas de las Matas is linked, quite unconsciously, to the happy Icaria to which the utopians, and especially Etienne Cabet, have often referred. The faces and the behaviour of the people, the attitude of the women seated on the thresholds of their homes, or knitting and talking outside their houses, were peaceful and happy. One guessed that underlying it was a good way of life. Let us seek to discover what it was.

    In Mas de las Matas 32 groups of workers were set up; they were more or less of the same size, determined by the tasks to be undertaken, or the extent of the agricultural areas to be worked which were limited by their capricious encirclement by the mountains. Each group cultivated some of the irrigated land and some of the dry lands. Thus the pleasant and less pleasant, heavy, work was equitably shared by everybody.

    The blessings of water made it possible to grow large quantities of vegetables and fruit. The other, less fortunate, villages could only grow cereals, mainly corn - 9 quintals per hectare, perhaps less - and olives. In all the Collectives of the canton the groups of workers chose their delegates, and nominated their administrative Commissions. And just as the delegates in Mas de las Matas who always set the example, met weekly to organise the work to be done, a similar procedure was adopted in the other collectivised villages. As everywhere, efforts were constantly being coordinated.

    At the time of my visit it had not been found possible to increase the area under cultivation. Full use was already being made of the irrigated lands. But the dry land which had hitherto been used only for grazing livestock, were earmarked for growing cereals and to this end they had started to fold the sheep on the mountain slopes, now freely available, where there was enough vegetation to feed them. At the same time a start was made to get ready the land for sowing corn, oats and rye. It is one of the many examples of the rational organisation of the economy which we so frequently encountered. It was in fact thought that the effort would be intensified once the conscripts returned.

    It was an easier matter to increase the herds. The numbers of sheep were increased by 25%; breeding sows doubled from 30 to 60, and milch cows from 18 to 24 (there was no suitable pasture in the area for cattle). A large number of piglets were purchased in Catalonia and were distributed among the population, since there was no time or labour to construct collective piggeries, the work on which, however, was due to start at any moment. Meantime each family raised one or two pigs which would be slaughtered in one large operation and salted and then distributed on the basis of the needs of each household.

    But production was not limited to agriculture and livestock. In this chief village of the canton, as in all collectivised chief villages and villages of any size, small industries sprang up: building, boot and shoe making, the manufacture of clothing and slippers, meat processing, etc.... As in Graus and many other places, these specialities constituted a section of what was called the "general Collective" which operated for the general good.

    If then the agrarian section needed to purchase certain tools it would apply, through its delegate, to the administrative Commission which would then issue him with a voucher for the delegate of the metal workers to whom their requirements were explained. The order was at the same time entered in the account book of the engineering section. If a family needed furniture they would also get in touch with the administrative section who would hand them an order voucher for the delegate of the cabinet makers, or the carpenters (woodworkers all belonged to a single Syndicate). Such was the mechanism by which the activities of each group of producers was checked as well as the expenditure by each family.

    Neither official currency (pesetas) nor local money was used by any Collectives in the canton.

    Socialisation of commerce was one of the first stages. But it was not complete. At the time of my visit there were still two recalcitrant grocers whose businesses were in a bad way because of a lack of supplies. But generally speaking municipal stores also replaced the former system of distribution.

    Let us look more closely into the functioning of a collectivised village, It is difficult to describe adequately by the written word this large scale movement which comprises agrarian socialisation. In Mas de las Matas as in every collectivised village one was confronted by red and black placards affixed not only to all the workshops, communal stores, hotels and so on but also to the cantonal warehouses for chemical products, cement, raw materials for the various industries, where the collectivists from other cantonal villages came to replenish their stocks in accordance with the norms established by their delegates at fraternal meetings. In the shop of a former well-to-do fascist tradesman who disappeared there were stacks of clothing intended for the inhabitants of the canton. Elsewhere was the section for general supplies where vouchers were supplied to individualists on request and also where requests by each family were entered on a card index.

    In the cantonal distillery - a new initiative - they were extracting alcohol and tartaric acid from the residues of grapes sent there from all the villages. And those villages had set up an administrative Commission for the distillery which met periodically. When one visited the factory one would be shown the technical improvements introduced to produce 90î alcohol which was required in medicine and for surgical operations at the front.

    In the tailor's workshop, men and women workers were engaged in cutting and making suits to measure for comrades who had ordered them. On the racks, wool or corduroy garments, each with its label bearing the name of the consignee were waiting to be dealt with on the sewing machines. (24)

    Women bought their meat in a well appointed, marble lined establishment. Bread which was formerly baked at home by the overworked housewives was being kneaded and baked in the collective bakehouses.

    At the cafe everybody was entitled to have two cups of roasted chicory (that was all there was), two refreshments, or two lemonades, daily.

    On a visit to the surroundings one would discover a nursery where vegetable seedlings were being raised, in huge quantities for planting out throughout the canton, by a family who previously had prospered in this business but who had joined the Collective right from the beginning.

    In the dressmaking workshop not only were women's clothes made up but, as in many other villages, young women were learning to sew for themselves and their families to be.

    A placard attracts one's attention. It reads: "Popular Bookshop". It is in fact a library. On its shelves were from six to ten copies of different works of sociology, literature, general works on cultural and scientific subjects made available to everybody, including the individualists. There were also to be found in large numbers text books for schools (history, geography, arithmetic), story books, novels, and readers for the young and for adults; then there were exercise books, and excellent printed courses for learning how to draw, with excellent examples to follow based on the most modern teaching techniques.

    Here too, though the spirit and practice of general solidarity inspired the conduct and behaviour of each and all, every family was allocated a small plot of land on which to grow vegetables and fruit and to raise rabbits. This supplemented the food supply arrangements which in any case were not rigid; things were so arranged that everybody had a choice. Thus rationing was not synonymous with bureaucratic conformity.

    The scale for consumption - foodstuffs, clothing, footwear, etc. - had previously been marked on the family carnet. But following the resolution of the Congress in Caspe, it was thought preferable to use the standard booklet produced by the regional Federation of Collectives for all the Collectives, in order to avoid excessive differences depending on the relative prosperity or poverty of the villages and even of the cantons.

    When therefore clothing was also rationed it was not because in this part of Aragon the Collectives lacked the necessary resources to buy them. They generally had enough goods, especially corn, to barter for cloth, machines and all that was produced in Catalonia, where manufacturing industries predominated. But things were strained by the war effort. And furthermore the value of the corn, meat, vegetables and oil supplied without payment to support those on the fighting front was enormous. Supplies, without payment, were also sent to Madrid which was besieged by the Francoist armies. It was also a fact that some industrial regions badly socialised or lacking raw materials to produce certain goods, could not honour the barter arrangements made.

    Medical care and pharmaceutical products were free. Furthermore, as well as the public library referred to, there was another, operated by the Syndicate and the Libertarian Youth. School attendance was compulsory up to the age of 14. In a group of masias (small farmhouses), built on the mountain slopes some distance from the village, a school was opened for older children who had never before sat at a school desk. And in Mas de las Matas two new classes had just been improvised, each to deal with 50 children whose education was entrusted to two young women who had taken a course in advanced studies in Saragossa and Valencia. (25)

    Public entertainment was free both for collectivists and individualists.

    On the basis of the agreements made throughout Aragon, as well as in Castile and the Levante, no Collective could conduct business on its own account. In this way any possibility of speculation that could arise in that agitated war period was avoided, as well as the kind of competition which so often manifested itself among the collectivised factories in Barcelona, especially in the textile industry.

    These measures of a moral nature, ran parallel with the sense of organisation which emerged in most of the socialised villages. Each village Collective communicated to the cantonal Comite a list of its surplus goods and of those it needed. Thus each village in the canton of Mas de las Matas had a current account in the books kept in the chief village in which were entered what it supplied and what it received. At the same time the cantonal Comite knew exactly what stocks of wine, meat, oil, corn, potatoes, sugar-beet - widely grown in Aragon - were available in each village.

    Furthermore if the village which supplied the oil did not need the wine offered, it could ask for other goods. These would be supplied and that village's surpluses would be sent to Mas de las Matas where they would be held in reserve for eventual barter with other Collectives in the canton. It was a kind of clearing-house. Thus through the intermediary of the general Warehouse or the communal depot, barter within and outside the village was possible at all times.

    This system of compensation was carried out without the least reticence for the spirit of speculation had disappeared. Any village which was going through particular difficulties and had nothing to barter was not thereby condemned to poverty or to having to raise loans on which the interest charges and repayments would grievously jeopardise its economic situation for years to come.

    In the interdependent cantons the problem did not present itself in these terms. Thus for instance in that of Mas de las Matas the main economic resources of Seno and of La Ginebrosa had, that year, been destroyed by hailstorms. Under a capitalist regime it would have resulted in untold privations, even to emigration for several years for some of the men. In a regime; of strict justice, loans secured with difficulty could be a permanent millstone round their necks. Under the regime of libertarian solidarity, the difficulty was shared by the effort of the whole canton. Foodstuffs, vegetable plants, seeds, were all supplied in a fraternal manner, without mortgages, and without contracting, debts. The revolution had created a new civilisation.

    7. Esplus

    For its 1,100 inhabitants, Esplus had at its disposal 11,000 hectares of land of which 9,000 were irrigated. But the Duke of Luna had cornered 5,500 and the estates of the monarchist Alvarado, former Finance Minister, who certainly showed more concern for his interests than for those of the nation, accounted for a further 1,100 hectares. Another landowner owned as much and a few others less. There were more who were not as rich, but very comfortably off, each of whom owned from 70 to 100 hectares.

    There was not much left over for the people, half of whom were exploited by the wealthy and the very rich, cultivating their estates on the basis of a system called terraja, which consisted in clearing and reclaiming land, getting it ready, levelling it and growing crops on it and handing over a quarter of the produce to the landowner. These workers had also to pay an annual rent of six pesetas per hectare, and obliged to use a pair of mules purchased by them to improve each hectare that had been sowed. The fields which had been thus cultivated were then offered to medieros who paid in lieu of rent, a half of the harvest.

    The history of our movement there was as turbulent as in Belver de Cinca and elsewhere. A Syndicate of the C.N.T. constituted in 1920 was closed down four years later by the dictatorship of General Primo de Rivera. It re-emerged in 1931, following the proclamation of the Second Republic and had 170 members when, in 1932, the Leftist government of Manuel Azana, in which Largo Caballero was the Labour Minister (and used his office to wage war against the C.N.T. for the benefit of the U.G.T. of which he was the outstanding leader) closed down the local Syndicate which was reconstituted when the Right-wing Republicans were triumphant at the polls; but the Republic of Alejandro Leroux was no different from that of its predecessor and took the same action. So much so that after the triumph of the "Popular Front" in February 1936 our comrades set about the task of building up the Syndicate for the fourth time, but there were only seventeen of them when the Francoist attack was launched. So much persecution had discouraged the workers and poor peasants.

    Nevertheless there took place in a discreet way what we have seen occurring in many other places. Our comrades had joined the local section of the Left Republicans in order to protect themselves from any further reactionary measures, so as not to be once again dragged from their homes and marched off to deportation. It was for this reason that in July 1936 the municipal Council of Esplus consisted of six libertarians posing as Left Republicans and of three Right-wing Republicans, who five years earlier had been monarchists and who were still monarchists at heart.

    The general strike declared in reply to the Francoist coup d'etat lasted a fortnight. A revolutionary Committee was nominated, consisting of a republican majority which had gone over from the Right to the Left, and of a minority of our comrades. But the two tendencies could not agree among themselves. The new Left Republicans went on manoeuvring and very ably founded a reformist workers' syndicate supporting the U.G.T in order to make use of it to put a brake on the revolution.

    They succeeded in gaining time by prolonging the debates and discussions within the revolutionary Committee. So, realising that agreement would never be reached our comrades constituted a local Comite which confiscated the large estates and took them over; it was the only way of avoiding the distribution of the land that was being demanded by the political turncoats and some ambitious peasants.

    Nevertheless, the monarcho-republican conservatives turned UGTers did not let go, and in the end, forcing some miserable workers to take action, they attacked the local Comite and opened fire, protecting themselves with women and children behind whom they sheltered. Our comrades replied by attacking the men; the conservatives were overcome and the Collective was organised.

    Eight months later there were only two individualist families whose rights were respected in accordance with the general rule.

    The new form of organisation had already been clearly thought out by our comrades when they were engaged in underground propaganda during the Republic, and were preparing the organisation of an agrarian community, purchasing in advance tools, machines and seed.

    Agricultural work was taken over by ten teams of land workers. Principal aids were ten pairs of mules per team. Four additional teams dealt with the less heavy work (weeding, seed selection, etc.). Young women helped when necessary. Married women especially those with children were not bound to. But in exceptional circumstances an appeal would be made through the public crier for volunteers. Only the older women would remain at home to look after the young children. But none of the old folk stayed away. They could not conceive of life without work.

    There were 110 men at the front. The increase in acreage cultivated was therefore less; the trend was rather to diversify cultivations and above all to increase the number of livestock.

    At the beginning of the revolution, three of the former proprietors each owned 200 sheep and ewes. Another had a herd of 50 cattle. And most of the families had a cow or a pig. Pigs were killed once a year, but poor peasants sold the hams to the rich and kept only the carcases for themselves. Nevertheless at the time when I used to visit Esplus, the hams were specially kept. There were 400 reserved for the reapers at the time of the harvest, as their work demanded richer nourishment than usual. Four kilos were allowed per man. When I observed the "guitars" hanging from the rafters of a huge room in anticipation of the feast of the Harvest (religious festivals were beginning to be replaced by new pagan festivities) I understood more vividly the importance of the change that had taken place.

    The Collective had constructed four piggeries; one for breeding sows, another for the piglets, one for growing pigs and the fourth for fattening for the butcher. Two hundred pigs had been bought at the beginning and by July 1937 hundreds had already been reared.

    The cows were kept in two good houses. Only the poor milkers were slaughtered. (26) As for the sheep, though the meat had been consumed locally as well as being sent to the soldiers at the front, the flocks had increased from 600 to 2,000.

    Collective stables had been constructed, but their numbers were still insufficient. Some of the mules were being housed by their former owners; they were not used until after rational planning of the work decided upon by the Collective.

    Medical care, pharmaceutical products, housing, lighting, hairdressing saloons were all available without payment. As almost everywhere, each family disposed of a plot of land on which they grew vegetables or flowers and raised a few rabbits or some chickens, according to their preferences. Fresh vegetables were available in any case without payment; but bread, meat, sugar, soap had to be paid for. A single man received 25 pesetas a week, a couple 35 and an additional 4 pesetas per child under the age of 14, and 13 pesetas for those over 14.

    The prices of goods, which were so unstable in republican Spain at the time because of the situation upsetting everything, did not increase in Esplus any more than they did in most of the villages which printed their own local money. Money vouchers were guaranteed by production. The mechanism of their circulation was very simple: they were distributed on Saturday afternoon and exchanged for goods at the communal stores, called a cooperative, which on the Saturday would hand them to the local Comite which would then put them back into circulation.

    People unable to work were paid the same as the others. There were examples of a chronically sick man with four young children, a bedridden man and his daughter, etc.

    A hotel was opened for single people, another for some of the many refugees from Aragon territory occupied by Franco's forces. All those who were thus supported enjoyed the same services that were available to the active members of the Collective.

    Building operatives were working with enthusiasm. They had started off by applying the eight-hour day, but the peasants pointed out that they worked a twelve-hour day. They therefore yielded to them and carried out all of the necessary repair work to the house in Esplus. A large carpenter's workshop was being built which it was intended to install machinery for mass produced furniture for all the village and, it was hoped, for surrounding villages as well.

    Esplus engaged in the barter of goods using Binefar, chief town of the canton, as the go-between. As it is a naturally rich village, it delivered 200,000 pesetas' worth of goods which the cantonal Comite distributed either as a contribution to the feeding of the troops at the front or for helping the poorest villages.

    This summary gives only a partial picture of what had been done and what was being done. I paid many visits to this village and one evening was there when the flocks were coming down from the mountains, as they did once a week, to be herded into the village sheep-pens. Bleating sheep and lambs, delicate and shy ewes, rams swinging their jingling bells, dogs on guard and watchful shepherds . . . The Collective's flock seemed to be unending. What a fine effort and what good results!

    What good results, too, those acres of market gardens where for the first time vegetables of all kinds were being grown on a big scale. The different varieties of plants, and the care lavished on them aroused much admiration. And on one visit I discovered more fields of potatoes about which nobody had said anything. Yet the normal production in the Collective's huerta was sufficient for all local needs. This additional effort represented a precautionary measure in favour of the towns, which were much too self-confident, for the soldiers at the fronts, and for any unlucky villages. This surplus actually doubled the normal potato crop.

    Before starting the reaping for which they feared a shortage of hands so abundant was the harvest (though in fact reinforcements arrived from other villages), the members of the Collective celebrated the Harvest Festival in which all the inhabitants of Esplus joined. The huge feast, to which I had been invited, took place in a large cornfield that had just been harvested. Women and children enthusiastically helped the men to sample the hams, revolutionary hymns were intoned and I believe some danced Aragonese jotas, without, however, for we were in Spain, allowing joyfulness to make them lose their dignity. By which is understood that there was not a single case of drunkenness.

    Footnotes to Chapter 5

    [1] A preparatory meeting, at which this constitutive congress had been decided on, had taken place at Binefar, representatives of the Collectives already in existence had attended in large numbers.

    [2] See chapter "Collectivist Accounting".

    [3] We have cut the text where it was simply repetitious.

    [4] Members of the P.O.U.M., the Workers' Party of Marxist Unification with Trotskyist tendencies.

    [5] By July 1937, our losses had included 20,000 killed without having succeeded in retaking the small town of Huesca with a population of 18,000.

    [6] The popular name given in Spain to the Aragonese.

    [7] Pronounced Graooss.

    [8] As in most cases, the name cooperative was given to what were communal stores.

    [9] The person who undertook the task was a well organised, young employer.

    [10] The limit was afterwards set at two persons.

    [11] It will be noted that the peasant Collective is not separated from, but always united with, "all the assembled trades".

    [12] There were in Aragon, and in other regions, many cases where young boys and girls left their family, which had remained individualist, order to join the Collective.

    [13] Though the right to secede remained. But in fact isolation was impossible.

    [14] See chapter on "Materials for a Revolution" for the views of the geographer Gonzalo de Reparaz on the steppes of the Ebro basin.

    [15] The number of cows was not high, in most of Spain there is a shortage of pasture. There were about 3,600,000 head of cattle in 1936 compared with 15,000,000 in France.

    [16] Already at that time the Collective of Fraga carried the system of "rotational pastures", which was used in the Inn Valley in Austria and which was more or less unknown in France. The system consisted in dividing up the pasture into strips and by grazing them in rotation allowing the grass to grow by the time the first strip is again grazed, and was obviously easier to apply over the large areas belonging to the Collective.

    [17] Fraga is situated on the boundary between Catalonia and Aragon, in the centre of a steppe almost desert and which overwhelms the traveller who crosses it on foot.

    [18] The reference is to U.G.T. or C.N.T.

    [19] By which was obviously meant the lighter manual jobs.

    [20] In terms of must, the average yield per hectare from the vineyards was 60% less than in France.

    [21] In general in Spain, the herdsmen and shepherds only ate meat when a lamb had been half devoured by the wolves or a sheep had fallen over a precipice and had been killed or badly injured.

    [22] Nevertheless, the shallowness of the seams did not allow of the use of coal-cutting equipment as used in the Ruhr and in Pennsylvania.

    [23] The Republican government paid militiamen ten pesetas a day which was the equivalent of a good average wage in the towns.

    [24] For a family consisting of mother and father and two children between the ages of 6 and 14, an annual clothes allowance of 280 pesetas was made. This represented twice or three times the amount a peasant family would have spent on clothes previously.

    [25] Fifty children seems a lot. But in view of the backwardness of the Spanish educational organisation, this represented a step forward. What mattered was to teach people to read at any price. The writer (in the 1920s) had 52 pupils from 5 to 15 years Of age in the "rationalist" school in Corunna where he had to improvise as schoolteacher. He coped with his task until the time when Primo de Rivera ordered the closure of these establishments.

    [26] The custom in Spain was to kill cows for butcher's meat.



    General Characteristics

    The regional Federation of the Levante, an integral part of the National Confederation of Labour (C.N.T.) comprising that is workers' and peasants' Syndicates, traditionally organised by the Spanish Libertarians, served as the basis for the parallel Federation of Agricultural Collectives of the Levante. It covers five provinces which are, from North to South, Castellon de la Plana, Valencia, Alicante, Murcia and Albacete. The development of agriculture in the first three of these, all Mediterranean, among the richest in Spain also in terms of population - about 3,300,000 inhabitants in 1936 - resulted in the social achievements that took place often assuming unsuspected proportions. In my opinion it is in the Levante, thanks to its natural resources and the forward looking spirit of our comrades, that the work of libertarian reconstruction was most widespread as well as more complete. I was unable to study it in the same detail as for the Aragon Collectives, but from my own direct observations and much information graciously imparted by the local comrades, as well as from first hand accounts and original documents, I will attempt a general picture, completed by a number of monographs which will bring to life the characteristics and extent of the social transformation that was achieved.

    Of the five provinces in the Levante it was understandable that the role of Valencia should be outstanding. Firstly for demographic reasons. It boasted 1,650,000 inhabitants at the time of the Revolution. (1) Murcia was next in importance with 622,000 inhabitants and in which the famous gardens covered only a very small part of the territory which had always been a land of misery and emigration. Alicante which was richer had a population of 472,000, then came Castellon de la Plana with 312,000 and finally Albacete with 238,000 inhabitants.

    Anybody knowing however little of the social history of this region is not surprised to learn that the province of Valencia, especially in its achievements in agriculture and horticulture, advanced and developed faster than anywhere else. From 1870 the libertarian movement had always numbered outstanding militants in its ranks, especially in the county; the case of the "martyrs" of Cullera is famous in the annals of the social history of the region. There were others, as we have already mentioned. And whereas in the towns of the Levante republicanism often dominated the opposition at the time of the monarchy, the fighters in the country areas were very often defending antistatal ideas, a position which was, in any case, widely adopted among the peasantry. Thus in the period 1915-1920, it was to them (often they were smallholders) that libertarian propagandists coming from other regions frequently had to appeal in order to reorganise the movement, the rebirth of which had been encouraged in part by the high hopes aroused by the still little-understood Russian Revolution.

    We had, therefore, in many places in these five provinces, militants who were economically and politically free, for whom the revolution was not just a matter of thoughtless agitation or of simple political changes but above all meant expropriation of the land and the organisation of society through libertarian communism.

    In 1936 the villages of this province in which our social movement had put its roots were grouped in 22 comarcas (cantons) with their respective chief villages in Adamuz, Alborache, Carcagente, Catarroja, Chella, Foyos, Gandia, Jarafuel, Jativa, Moncada, Onteniente, Paterna, Puerto Sagunto, Requena, Sagunto, Utiel, Villar del Arzobispo, Villamarchante, Alcantara del Jucar, Titaguas, Lombay and Denia.

    The province of Murcia comprised six cantonal federations the chief towns of which were firstly Murcia itself, then Caravaca, Cartagena, Vieza, Lorca, Mazarron, Mula, Pacheo, Elche de la Sierra, Hellin.

    Then there was the province of Alicante with nine federations, again cantonal, in Alicante, Alcoy, Almansa, Elda, Elche, La Nucia, Orihuela, Villajoyosa, Villena.

    The province of Castellon de la Plana comprised eight organised cantons each of which as usual grouped a greater or lesser number of villages. These were in Castellon, Albocacer, Alcora, Morella, Nules, Onda, Segorbe and Vinaroz.

    And finally the province of Albacete, the least favoured where, furthermore, during the civil war the Collectives had to put up with the presence of the men commanded by the notorious French Communist Marty, nicknamed "the butcher of Albacete" for the cruelties committed in the name of the anti-fascist struggle. In this province we had only four organised cantons: Albacete, Alcarraz, La Roda, and Casa Ibanez.

    It should be pointed out that very often the structure of our cantonal organisation had no connection with the traditional cantons of the public or state administration. As in Aragon, they had often been reorganised according to the needs of work, exchanges and other vital interests. More than for political reasons it corresponded to a need for direct union at the base and for that human cohesion which has without any doubt exercised a decisive influence in the constructive task of our creative federalism.


    The development and numerical growth of Collectives in the Levante surprised even those of us who were the most optimistic as to the possibilities of social reconstruction. For in spite of the many difficulties, in spite of the opposition of our adversaries often in a coalition against us - republicans of different tendencies, Valencian autonomists, socialists and U.G.T-ists, Communists, many elements of the bourgeoisie, etc. - there were 340 Collectives represented at the congress of the Levante Peasants Federation held on 21-23 November, 1937; five months later the number had risen to 500 and by the end of 1938 a figure of 900 had been reached, and that of heads of households had risen to 290,000. Roughly speaking at least 40% of the population belonged to the Collectives.

    The significance of these figures can be better appreciated if we make a different calculation. The five provinces of Levante consisted of 1,172 localities from the largest town to the smallest village. (2) It was therefore in 78% of the localities in the richest agricultural region in all Spain that in twenty months these 900 Collectives sprang up.

    It is true that as units they did not achieve the high percentage achieved by the Collectives in Aragon. In Aragon the almost, total predominance of libertarian forces for a long time prevented ' State administration, municipal or national police forces, political parties supported by governmental authorities, assault guards and "carabineros", to hamper changes in the social structure. Whereas in Levante - and one should not forget that from November 1936 the Central government had moved to Valencia which had become the capital of legal Spain - all these forces were present and that with the small tradesmen, the liberal bourgeoisie, who were anti-Francoist but also anti-Collectivist, they opposed by every means, including violent ones, this attempt to put libertarian socialism into operation. There were pitched battles when even army tanks were brought up. In such conditions what was achieved savours of the prodigious.

    The more so since in the Levante region, and as a consequence of the wealth and the density of the population in certain areas, the localities are often concentrations of from 10 to 20 thousand people in which the social classes and the forces facing each other are more solidly constituted and can more easily coordinate their efforts. Thus when our comrades took the offensive for socialisation the resistance was all the more vigorous. It required all the flexibility, ingenuity, imagination, and the intelligent and useful adaptation to circumstances, and the energy they undoubtedly possessed, for the revolutionary effort to be realised in spite of everything.

    It is one of the reasons why the Levante Collectives were created in most cases on the initiative of the peasants' Syndicates in each locality, for they brought at the same time moral integrity, a tradition as organisers, experience in the struggle and numerical strength.

    But in spite of close contact with these Syndicates - often the same men were at the head of the two organisations - the Collectives at first constituted an autonomous organism. The Syndicates of the C.N.T. continued to group most of their members but also "individualists" who though not collectivists neither were they reactionaries, prevented either by a questionable interpretation of the meaning of individual freedom or because their land was isolated. In some cases it was by a more or less justified hesitation based on fear either of governmental reaction after the victory, or of a fascist victory.

    The role played by the Syndicates was therefore most useful. They constituted a step forward, an element of attraction. They also had another practical function. It was to them that the individualist trade-unionists would bring their produce which they undertook to barter with the Collectives. Commissions were set up in the Syndicate for dealing with rice, citrus fruits, vegetable seedlings, etc. In each locality the Syndicate had its food store where non-collectivists could get supplies. But the Collective had also its own. It was later thought that such an arrangement required double labour and the decision was taken to telescope the two in favour of the Collective, and with joint administrative representation. The individualist trade-unionists continued to bring their goods and collect their supplies in the same way as the Collectivists. (3)

    Then mixed commissions were started for the purchase of machines, seeds, fertilisers, insecticides and veterinary aids. Lorries were shared, solidarity was spreading while avoiding, nevertheless, excessive confusion between the two organisms.

    Socialisation rested then on two bases. With that remarkable flexibility which one has often observed among the builders of Spanish libertarianism, it embraces all that can be included, integral achievements as well as partial realisations. The means for inveigling them are complementary.

    But very quickly the Collectives tended to unify and rationalise all that could be. Rationing and the family wage were established at cantonal level, the richer villages helping the poorer or less favoured as happened in Aragon and Castile. In every cantonal chief-town a team of specialised technicians was created to include accountants, an agronomist, a veterinary surgeon, an engineer, an architect, an expert in commercial questions, etc. These teams were at the service of all the villages.

    The practice of mutual aid allowed for the equitable distribution and use of the means required for the smooth operation of the Collectives. Most of the engineers and veterinary surgeons through" out the region were members of the C.N.T., those employed by the non-collectivised economy collaborated as well, and generally without material gain, in preparing plans and projects, for the creative spirit of the Revolution carried forward those who wanted to contribute to economic and social progress in general.

    Thus agronomists would put forward necessary or possible projects; planning agriculture, moving cultivations to land and climatic conditions which were more favourable but which hitherto, for reasons of private property, and the vested interests of different groups of smallholders, had not been possible. The vet in the Collective put stock rearing on a scientific basis. In the event he consulted the agronomist as to the feeding arrangements that could be made available. And he in his turn discussed this production problem with the peasants' commissions. But the architect and the engineer were also called to the rescue over the construction of stables, piggeries' cowhouses, barns for the Collectives. The tasks were being planned and the activities integrated.


    Thanks to the engineers, a large number of acequias (irrigation canals) were excavated and wells sunk which made it possible to convert dry lands into irrigated land. By using pumps, water was raised and distributed over large areas. The very porous, sandy nature of the soil and low atmospheric precipitations - 400 mm. on average when at least three times that amount was required - made the extraction and the good use of this precious liquid very difficult, especially as wells had to be sunk to depths of from 50 to 200 metres. This was a feasible proposition only for the large landowners who cultivated or employed people to cultivate profitable crops such as oranges, or for the Collective.

    It was perhaps in the regions of Cartagena and Murcia that the greatest efforts were made in this direction. Near Villajoyosa in the province of Alicante the construction of a dam made it possible to irrigate a million almond trees which had previously suffered from permanent drought.

    But the architects in the Collectives did not only deal with a habitat for the livestock. They went through the region giving advice about the human environment. Types of houses, location, aspect, materials, plumbing, etc., ... indispensable considerations which previously had been opposed both by the ignorance of some and the vested interests of others.

    The close proximity of the villages to each other helped that active solidarity which puts all resources at the disposal of the whole community. Practical work was often intercommunal. A team would, for instance, be set up to deal with plant diseases, sulphur dusting, pruning, grafting, working the land in a number of localities; another team would be organised to grub up trees and carry out unusual cultivations or improvise new cultivations on the sites of those trees. All this facilitated the coordination of efforts and their synchronisation on a general plan of action which was developed not only on the abstract concepts of technocrats or technicians without experience, but also according to the practical lessons learned from work and from contact with men and realities.

    It was a new society, a new world that had been created.

    Let us examine more closely some aspects of general organisation. The 900 Collectives were brought together in 54 cantonal federations which grouped themselves and at the same time I subdivided into five provincial federations which at the top level ended in the Regional Comite of the Levante Federation situated in Valencia and which coordinated the whole.

    This Comite was nominated directly by the annual congresses answerable to them and to the hundreds of peasant delegates, chosen by their comrades, whom the fine speeches of bureaucrats or domineering agitators would not dazzle, for in their great majority they knew what they wanted and where they were going. It was also on their initiative that the Levante Federation was divided into 26 general sections in accordance with specialisations in work and other activities. Those 26 sections constituted a whole which embraced probably for the first time in history outside the State and governmental structures, the whole of social life. We will assemble them into five main groupings, implying a corresponding administrative organisation:

    AGRICULTURE: Cereals (particularly corn, the cultivation of which was often improvised or stimulated as a result of the Francoist occupation of the cereal growing areas); rice growing; citrus fruits (oranges, lemons, tangerines); fruit growing and its subdivisions (almonds, peaches, apples, etc.); olive groves; vineyards; vegetable growing or market gardening; livestock, especially sheep and goats; pigs and cattle.

    FOOD INDUSTRIES: The Federation being essentially of the peasantry, the industries that one encountered were mainly connected with agriculture. The specialised sections were the following: wine production; fruit and vegetable packing houses; distillation of alcohol; fruit juices, various liqueurs; perfumes and by-products.

    NON-AGRICULTURAL INDUSTRIES (not derived from agriculture): Building section; various manufactures; carpentry; manufacture of packaging materials for citrus fruits, clothing, etc.... One should note here the tendency for the integration of activities, thereby reducing, to a certain extent, the role of the Syndicate which the syndicalist movement had always considered as the sole organiser of industrial production. These problems were I resolved on the spot, in a friendly spirit between sister organisations.

    COMMERCIAL SECTION- Apart from large scale exports, which will be discussed later, this section covered imports of machinery, road and sea transport facilities, and various products.

    PUBLIC HEALTH & EDUCATION: Finally, the section for hygiene and sanitation which coordinated the efforts preserving and improving public health, and that of education which thanks to its schools, its teachers and the contribution by the Collectives, pursued with enthusiasm the duties which fell on them.

    All these activities were synchronised on a scale involving 900 Collectives, many of them involving thousands of people. It will be easier now to appreciate how widespread these achievements were and how superior was this form of organisation. Obviously I cannot here describe it in every detail. But I will add precise details to some aspects already outlined.

    Rice growing for example. In the province of Valencia alone, 30,000 out of a total national production from 47,000 hectares, were in the hands of the Collectives. The renowned region of La Albufera, which Blasco Ibanez has so exhaustively described, was entirely collectivised.

    Half the orange production, that is 4 million quintals, was in the hands of the peasants' Federation, the federated Collectives and the Syndicates; and 70 per cent of the total harvest, that is more than 51 million quintals, was transported and sold in the European markets thanks to their commercial organisation called FERECALE (4) which at the beginning of 1938 had established in France sales sections in Marseilles, Perpignan, Bordeaux, Sete, Cherbourg and Paris.

    It should be noted in passing that the importance of distribution was considerably greater than that of production. With first hand information on the subject we can make the following comparisons: as we have already said, the producers of the Levante Collectives were numerically about 40% of the total population. As a consequence of their superior technical organisation, their production was 50-60% of the total; and for the same reasons the collectivist system was responsible for between 60 and 70% of the total distribution to the advantage of the whole population.

    The organisation in general and the extent of the resources that it guaranteed, made other achievements possible, as well as methods of work without which the tasks undertaken would often have failed due to a lack of technical means, and insufficient return or to the excessive cost of the efforts involved.

    The spirit of active solidarity, the will to coordination were always and everywhere present. When, for instance, the members of a Collective or a local Comite considered it worthwhile to establish a liqueur or fruit juice factory or to process foods for human or animal consumption they informed the industrial section of the regional-federal Comite of Valencia of their initiative. The Comite would examine the proposal, and if considered necessary would invite a delegation to attend, with which it would study the pros and cons of the project. If on the basis of estimated demand, the availability of raw materials and other foreseeable factors the idea was attractive it would be adopted; if not it would be rejected after explanations and a full examination of the proposals. Another reason for rejection would be availability of existing factories.

    But acceptance of the project did not mean that its original promoters would become its owners, even at the level of the local Collective. By employing from the beginning resources supplied by the Collectives as a whole, the Federation became the owner of the new factory and the local Collective was not entitled to sell for its own benefit the goods that were produced there.

    Expenses and income were therefore everybody's concern. It, was also the Federation which allocated the raw materials supplied to all the factories and localities according to their kind of production and their needs respectively. (5)

    The situation also required great flexibility which was impossible both on the scale of an isolated peasant or tradesman, and in purely corporative organisations where the individualist spirit and attitudes prevailed. Thus, until the Revolution vast quantities of fruit were left to rot on the ground because of a lack of markets at home and abroad. It was the case with sales to Britain which had to compete with supplies coming from Palestine and South Africa, and made it necessary to lower prices and, to some extent, production as well. (6)

    But apart from the civil war, the loss of some European markets and of the home market occupied and cut off by Franco's troops, as well as the difficulties subtly put in the way of the libertarian socialist experiment by the government and its allies, made the situation worse. Not only was there a surplus of citrus fruits, but also of potatoes and tomatoes. So, once again, the initiative of the Collectives manifested itself.

    An effort was made to put these oranges to better use by manufacturing essences extracted from the peel on a larger scale than before; a new food was manufactured, a kind of dessert called "honey-orange", and "orange wine"; the pulp was used for the preservation of blood from the abattoirs, and this provided a new food for poultry; the canning of vegetables and fruit was increased; the most important factories were located in Murcia, Castellon, Alfafar and Paterna. As the German peasants had been doing for a long time in their specialised cooperatives, drying plants for potatoes were set up in order to produce potato-flour for human and animal consumption and the same procedure was used for tomatoes.

    We have said that the location of the cantonal federation centres was very often determined by their proximity to road junctions or railways, thus facilitating the transport of goods. In most cases food surpluses of the Collectives were stored in these centres. The corresponding sections of the federal Comite in Valencia were informed of the quantities of each variety, the quality, the date of production of the goods warehoused, and thus knew exactly what were the available reserves for deliveries, exports, barter, or for redistribution among the cantons or the Collectives.

    The intensification of egg production and of chickens and rabbits, was further confirmation of that creative spirit. In July 1937 the Collective of Gandia alone was producing in its hatcheries 1,200 chicks every three weeks. New breeds of rabbits and fowls, unknown to most peasants (who too often were attached to the traditional and uneconomic ones) were introduced, and the Collectives that had taken the first step in this direction helped those who, for various reasons, had not yet started.

    Furthermore the efforts at organisation and economic justice were not all that was achieved. The yearning for culture, the intense desire to spread education were one of the mainsprings and one of the major objectives of the Revolution. Thus every Collective created one or two schools as promptly as it set about its first economic initiatives. The family wage and the new ethic made it possible for all children to attend school. In their sphere of influence the Spanish Collectives gave the coup de grace to illiteracy in record time. The magnitude of the achievement can be gauged if one bears in mind that in the Spanish country' side in 1936, 60% of the people were illiterate.

    To complete this effort, and with an immediate practical end in view, a school to train secretaries and accountants was I opened at the end of 1937. More than a hundred students were immediately sent there by the Collectives.

    The last major innovation was the agricultural university of Moncada (province of Valencia). Its purpose was to train agricultural technicians. In the different classes and in the practical courses young people were instructed in the various specialities in land husbandry and zootechny (animal care, methods of selection, characteristics of breeds; horticulture, fruitgrowing, beekeeping, forestry, etc.). When the university was in full swing it had 300 students and there would have been many more if there had been more accommodation and more teachers. The University of Moncada situated at the foot of hills covered with orange trees was also available to the other regions.

    A final example of solidarity in practice. The Collectives of the Levante had also received a large number of refugees, especially women and children from Castile who had fled before the fascist advance. Reception homes were set up in the heart of the country, and camps where the youngsters were well cared for in every way and could forget the war. Long lines of lorries coming from the villages took free supplies of food to Madrid. The Collectives of Benjopa, Oliva, Jeresa, Tabernes de Valldigna, Beirrairo and Simat (all in the canton of Gandia) donated 198 lorry loads of food in the first six months of the war. Shortly after the fall of Malaga a simple phone call produced seven lorry loads of food for Almeria, which was crowded with refugees who were exhausted and hungry.

    For, faced with the necessities and responsibilities of life our t! comrades were not paralysed nor dehumanised by the bureaucratic spirit and the red-tape of the State. As good libertarians they practised a new humanism among themselves and with others, without cheating, without speculating even on the propaganda value of their gestures, with no other reward than the deep joy deriving from practical solidarity.

    1. Carcagente

    Carcagente, a large country borough rather than a small town, situated in the province of Valencia, had a population of 18,000 at the time of my first visit in November 1936. (7) Though its social history was less traumatic than that of Succa or Cullera. our movement had long established roots and exerted a great influence. Thus in November 1936, our peasants' Syndicate had 2,750 members, including some hundreds of small proprietors; that of the orange packers numbered 3,325, mostly women; in addition there were 320 buildings workers, 150 railwaymen, 120 engineering workers and 450 workers of various trades and professions - all members of the Syndicate. In all 41 per cent of the whole population. But if one takes into account the percentage represented by children, then the percentage of workers in the C.N.T. was extremely high.

    In the outskirts of Carcagente within the jurisdiction of the town itself, as well as in the surrounding though less important localities, large estates, almost all specialising in the production of citrus fruits, dominated the economy. And a fair number of small proprietors who could not make a living from what their land produced supplemented their insufficient earnings by working for the rich or by all kinds of expedients. A not infrequent situation in Spain and one which must have contributed to tipping the scales in favour of the social revolution when the upheaval caused by the insurrection and fascist threat took place. The logical consequence was the overwhelming influence of our syndical organisation, which without hesitation set about socialising the large estates. The task was made all the easier because the large terrateriertes had vanished and what had to be avoided was that the productive wealth that had become socially available should not be shared out among new beneficiaries who would only reintroduce, though in a somewhat modified form, the basically identical system of exploitation, chaos and inequality that had just been done away with.

    Simultaneously, and following the achievement of libertarian communism for which they had been struggling for so long, our comrades tackled the traditional small proprietors in order to transform as many of the parcels of individually cultivated land, scattered and broken up into huge areas, rationally exploited thanks to the common social property and to the use of techniques, which it had made possible.

    I met again in Carcagente comrades I had previously known in Barcelona or in Buenos Aires where they had emigrated during the dictatorship of Primo de Rivera. They told me that to bring about these fundamental transformations they did not use force and especially was this the case in regard to the small growers. Those who joined did so of their own free will, following the example of the militants who set the example by handing over their land, animals and tools. There remained a number of recalcitrants, but our comrades had complete confidence in the superiority of group work in the practical and moral results, that could be achieved by mutual aid. They knew that by example they would succeed in winning over those who still hesitated They were so convinced that, in many cases - and I and others came across similar examples on many occasions - they did not hesitate, in order to complete collectivised areas in the middle of which were parcels of land belonging to individualists, to offer them better land in exchange for theirs and to help them settle in.

    In a few months positive results were apparent. In the first place a local economic crisis had been wiped out. Difficulties created by the civil war and its repercussions had produced economic and commercial stagnation which hampered the disposal of the crops and each small grower, left to his own devices, was faced with disturbing problems. In due course the practice of union and solidarity made it possible to find ways to dispose of their produce, if not in Carcagente itself then in Valencia or in other provinces.

    But this only partially remedied the slowing down in activity. The breakdown of the normal channels for exports and the commercial blockade or semi-blockade of Spain made the situation very difficult. And there was no question of solving it by the municipal organisation of public charity. This was the driving force towards a more far reaching social transformation. Thus all the time more peasants were offering their land to the Collective in return for membership. For only the Collective was capable of taking revolutionary action and finding the right solutions by the reorganisation of local life.

    When I arrived there I was shown the latest batch of applications for admission that had been received. They gave details of area and the locations of the land, its condition as well as of the numbers in the family, details of livestock and of working tools - in all this no signs of coercion.

    Nevertheless, and in view of the gravity of the situation created by the civil war, individual freedom or the autonomy of producers who had remained outside the Collective, did not mean the latter allowed them to put a brake on or interrupt production. Our comrades understood from the first day that it was necessary to collaborate for victory by redoubling their efforts. And without waiting for the municipal authorities and the political parties to undertake these responsibilities, the landworkers, Syndicate nominated a Commission to supervise the work being done in the countryside and to be on the lookout that there was no slackening either in the individualists' or the collectivists' passion for their work.

    But naturally it was above all the Collective, organised by the peasants' Syndicate and placed under its control, which preached by example. I traversed huge orange groves, one of which covered five villages, and was struck by the tidy and clean cultivations. Every inch had been worked, as if combed, with meticulous care in order to ensure that the trees enjoyed all the natural goodness in the soil. The Valencian peasant was renowned for the love with which he tended his land and the crops he grew on it. And it was clearly visible. There was no need for fertilisers. "Previously," - said the comrades who were escorting me across the plantations of golden fruits - "all this, that belonged to the capitalists, was worked by wage earners who were somewhat indifferent to the results of their labours. The proprietors bought large quantities of chemical fertilisers or guano whereas all that was needed was to look after the land to get good harvests."

    And it was with joy and pride that later they showed me grafts that they had made in order to improve the stock and the eventual quality of the fruit.

    However in some places I came across crops growing between the rows, and to my enquiry the comrades pointed out that if the war lasted a long time the towns would be short of food. It was for this reason that in this generally gravelly soil, not very suitable for horticulture, they had planted early potatoes. They did more: taking advantage of the four months that elapse between harvesting the rice and the sowings that follow, they had sowed in the Valencian rice-fields, duly cultivated, early wheat.

    As it was my first contact with an agrarian Collective I asked for details of the general organisation of work, and discovered that it was both simpler and much more complete than I had imagined. At the base, a public meeting of agricultural workers which included unionists and non-unionists (the latter were not numerous, as is apparent from the figures already given). On the proposal by those present, individualists and collectivists, a Comite was nominated by a majority vote if unanimity could not be achieved, which was divided into two sections: the technical section with six members entrusted with the management of production and the problems of disposal on the home and export markets, and the administrative section consisting of five members to deal with accountancy. The technical section included former professional exporters whose abilities were known and recognised. They were carrying out their tasks ably and seemed really integrated into the new social structure.

    In Carcagente industrial socialisation started after agrarian socialisation. But it was launched in a manner that promised well for the future. Building work was in the hands of the Syndicate of the building industry, and engineering was controlled by the metalworkers' Syndicate; the woodworkers' Syndicate - cabinet-makers, joiners, carpenters - brought together all the small businessmen and craftsmen in one huge workshop where each, received a remuneration decided on by all; where no longer did one have to wait for the client or ask oneself how bills were to be met at the end of the month. Other less important trades, were grouped in a single Syndicate. Hairdressers shops where lighting, organisation and hygiene often left much to be desired were replaced by a number of collectivised establishments which were clean and comfortable. Yesterday's competitors had become workmates.

    As one has already noted the packing of oranges for export employed the greatest number of hands. Several buildings in Carcagente disposing of the equipment required were used for this purpose. Each was directed by a Comite nominated by the workers, and consisting of a professional expert in commercial affairs, and a delegate for each of the specific activities: manufacture of wooden boxes, grading, packing, conditioning, etc. In the various operations men and women workers carried out the tasks with enthusiasm, following the rhythm of the mechanical graders alongside which the orange boxes, which offered a kind of artistic cachet common to the people of this region, were lined up waiting to be closed and loaded up. The destination of the fruit was Britain, Sweden, France, Holland, etc.... And the workers would say to me, "We want them to see abroad that with socialised production we work better than before."

    It was also a Comite specially appointed by the assembly of workers which managed the building industry. Houses were not being built - not only because of the war (in grave crises building, work is always the first to grind to a halt) but also because a large number of residences belonging to the rich and the local fascists were handed over to those who were the most ill-housed. But conversions and repair work were carried out. A number of former employers supported the communal effort and worked well; and one of the two architects in Carcagente joined the Syndicate.

    The brick works and the parpen factory as well as all other trades were organised along the same principles, and on the same bases for remuneration.

    When I returned to Carcagente, at the beginning of February 1937, the orange export trade was the only one that had been socialised. But it was done independently. Firstly the local section of the U.G.T. had supported the new achievements; secondly, it was done in conjunction with the regional Comite. When orders came from Valencia, the selectors would move to the areas where they knew they could find the varieties and quantities required. These selectors would also indicate when fruit trees were ready for picking on the basis of the travelling time involved as well as of the climatic conditions of the purchasing countries.

    So far as distribution in general was concerned, and in spite of the advice I had given with a view to avoiding a slow, but persistent, increase in prices which counteracted some of the positive results achieved in production, the local shop continued to operate. It constituted a negative factor, and the time had come to ask oneself whether one should not move towards a new stage which would complement the first.

    A first step in that direction had been taken in a number of cases above all in the region of the Levante, by the constitution of a food supplies Comite which undertook to secure for local consumption essential foodstuffs which were not produced locally. The same Comite organised the application of barter on the largest possible scale. My friend Gra"žen, later executed by a fascist firing squad, was planning the organisation of distribution centres in the various districts, which-would give the population control over the price mechanism and the distribution of consumer goods. The idea was taking shape rapidly there as well as in many other localities, and within six weeks half the trade of Carcagente was socialised and Granen had high hopes for the other half.

    At the same time part of the orange groves were grubbed up, as there was no sale for the fruit, and replaced by vegetables. One was moving towards economic integration, which was also noticeable elsewhere.

    2. Jativa

    I cannot think of Jativa (situated like Carcagente in the province of Valencia) without remembering its style, as Arabic as its name, the beautiful valley in which it had been built long ago, its wonderful climate and the deep blue of its brilliant sky. With some local comrades I went to visit the ruins of a large Moorish castle still standing and steeped in history, along the top of hills flanking the town, where mimosa grew in profusion between the random stones. From that height it was a dream landscape that one saw. In the foreground various cultivations, and then immense orange groves in which the golden fruit hung, as if in bunches along the branches which were bending under their weight and surrounded by the green varnished leaves which gleamed in the sunshine.

    The founding of the Collective in Jativa did not take place as quickly as in Carcagente, which is after all not so far away. Yet the social movement there also went back many years, and it always included good militants. Of the 17,000 inhabitants, 3,000 were members of the C.N.T. Agriculture predominated and industry played a very minor role and was above all linked to orange production and the tasks that stemmed therefrom, to rice production, prepared and ground locally, to olive production, used for oil produced in local oil-crushers.

    The fascist attack had brought together all the Left factions who, as happened in many other places, converged on the municipal Council. Soon this was composed, on the basis of the numerical strength of the forces represented, of five representatives each from the C.N.T. and U.G.T., one socialist, one Communist, a Left republican and a member of the Valencian autonomists party.

    Though industry stemmed from the needs of agriculture, socialisation was initiated by industry. It was not general in all trades and professions, and among the last to do so were the hairdressers who in January 1937 were prepared, with their employers, to collectivise the shops which until then they had only been allowed to control.

    In the industrial field the functional structure and operation I followed the familiar pattern: technical sections for organisation, administrative sections; the Syndicates managed workshop activities in which workers elected the Comites entrusted with management at the place of work itself.

    But the agrarian Collective created on the 16th January, 1937, three weeks after my first visit, seems to me to be more important, for it got off to a flying start which was quite remarkable.

    There was a fundamental reason for this which explains many similar cases I had occasion to observe: most of the members of the C.N.T. were hard working peasants, accustomed to responsible work, to direct dealings, whereas in the local section of the U.G.T. there was a predominance of administrative employees in the private and public sectors, numbers of tradespeople, and the conservative elements among the small growers whose social reformist headquarters made the defence of traditional ownership of the land a profession of faith.

    This was in direct contradiction with the basic postulates of Marxism and the views of Marx and Engels, but the Marxism of the Spanish socialists was quite as anaemic as that of the French socialists. And Marx and Engels as well as their continuators have said so many contradictory things!

    Our comrades did not propose, however, to seize anybody's goods by force-unless they were fascists, terratenrentes, or caciques; and apart from a few isolated cases which we are prepared to assume took place, one cannot accuse them on this score. On the contrary, one is surprised to see how tolerant they were in general to the "individualists".

    The emergence in strength of the agrarian Collective can be explained by other reasons which complement those already given. Before the uprising, the local libertarians exercised a constructive influence over a large number of peasants who were members of a local mutual benefit society. It was the active, organising dynamic nucleus of that mutual aid society which was to constitute the basic elements of the social microcosm in the process of being formed. It is extremely difficult to improvise as an organiser, and very often one finds in the antecedents of this revolution, a practical activity which explains the sureness of the advance and the rapidity of its success.

    Furthermore, Jativa offers many other examples of a social conscience. There was the case of the owner of an oil-crusher - worth a fortune in local terms - who gave his working capital and lands to the Collective. Or that of his son, also one of the privileged, who brought all his capital and his wife's to the common cause. Or again that of the secretary (8) who did likewise. One cannot be surprised therefore by the idealistic optimism which could be read into the expressions, the actions, even the bearing of those who were busying themselves to create a new world, always on the move dealing with the many tasks with which they had been entrusted.

    This spirit emerges in the Rules produced following many deliberations and published in a small white notebook, a copy of which I have preserved to this day. The following are the most characteristic Articles.

    ART. 1. Collectivisation will be the work of the peasants, medieros and smallholders, who join voluntarily and will be accepted by the General Assembly.

    ART. 3. When a smallholder's land is located in the middle of collectivised land, constituting thereby an obstacle for the Collective, it will be exchanged for another holding, of better land and with more advantages for the owner who has been displaced.

    ART. 5. Widows without other means of life than land can, if they wish, join the Collective.

    ART. 10. The defence of our production and the administration, of the cultivations will be assured by the following Commissions: (a) Statistics; (b) Irrigation; (c) Fertilisers, seeds and new cultivations; (d) Plant diseases, spraying and fumigations; (e) Steward's office, purchases and selling prices; (f) Livestock, poultry keeping, beekeeping; (g) Tools and machinery; (i) Tests; (j) Animal feed; (k) Means of transport available for the Collective; (1) Production and appropriate technical management; (m) Landworkers.

    ART. 15. In the event of illness, members of the Collective or their families will receive treatment on behalf of the Collective which will be responsible for all expenses incurred.

    ART. 16. Rent for private dwellings occupied by members of the Collective will be paid by the latter, independently of the wage. (9)

    ART. 17. Furniture for new households will be paid for by the Collective if the beneficiaries have been members for at least six months and if they act as real collectivists.

    ART. 21. Children under the age of 14 will not be accepted for work; they will be obliged to attend school from the age of six. Their parents or guardians will be responsible for their attendance at school; the penalty for a child's unjustifiable absence from school will be a deduction of six pesetas from the family's wage.

    ART. 22. The Collective will, for the good of Mankind, help the most gifted children to take courses in higher education. The Collective will be financially responsible.

    ART. 28. Should the Collective have cause to complain of the behaviour of one of its members, it will call him to order o n up to two occasions. On the third occasion he will be expelled from the Collective without any right to indemnification. The general assembly will deal with such cases."

    The family wage was established. A single man received 35 pesetas a week while a single woman received exactly a half. (10) Each dependent child entitled the family to an extra seven pesetas a week; and then from 10 to 14 years this was increased to 10.50 pesetas for boys and 8.75 for girls.

    Very few essential matters were overlooked, but if experience revealed that one had, there was nothing to prevent the modification and improvement of the existing Statutes. One should add that not only was education compulsory but was given in the Collective's schools which from the beginning had staff and had fitted up three school buildings in which to hold the classes, and in addition a fourth building which was at the disposal of the children in their leisure hours, during the day, to study or to play.

    Projects on such a scale must be based on a solidly established material situation. It was so. In a fortnight nearly 500 families applied to join the Collective, offering to it all their goods. The majority belonged to the C.N.T. with a minority from the U.G.T.. for almost everywhere socialists or members of the reformist trade union organisations did not follow the directives issued by their leaders. And the supporters would have been even more numerous had the organisers not thought it necessary to show caution, in order not to risk being overwhelmed, or hampered by collectivists who were still unsure.

    On joining, each new member completed a form giving details about himself, his family and dependent relatives; then of his assets or liabilities and debts, in land, money, tools and draught animals.

    The total area of collectivised land, including the expropriations from fascists and the large landowners as well as land brought by members, amounted to 5,114 hectares of which 2,421 were, irrigated. A fortnight after the official inauguration, the technical Comite was managing operations on 446 hectares. Thanks to its, initiative and to the enthusiasm of everybody, 75 hectares had, been reclaimed and prepared for cultivation, later being sown with corn and potatoes in anticipation of the threatened scarcity, d food in the towns.

    On the basis of a general plan prepared by the technicians practitioners, a quarter of the land was to be planted with rice, another quarter as orange groves, and a half for market-garden produce.

    It was also decided to introduce stock breeding. Within three weeks 400 sheep and goats (the renowned Murcia goats were conveniently situated) were ordered for breeding purposes. In due course it was hoped to supply the whole town with the meat it required: an urgent matter seeing that the main supply areas (Castile, Estremadura, Galicia) were in the hands of the Francoist forces.

    A similar initiative was launched for poultry and egg production. Two incubators were purchased to make a start. Bee-keeping was still under consideration, but the conditions in that area where flowers and fruit trees abounded were favourable for this hitherto unexplored activity. Finally all the part of the Sierra which could not be cultivated by man and which erosion was denuding at an increasing rate was to be planted with pines. The seedlings had already been purchased.

    In a very short time, the Collective had also acquired three lorries. It undertook large-scale works to improve and extend irrigation to the dry lands. In one week acequias were dug, and others started. The plan adopted consisted in raising the water by means of motorised pumps to a water tower from which it would be distributed to the land which until then had remained fallow because the small owners had neither the initiative nor the required resources for such undertakings. (11)

    The Rules refer to the steward's office. Members of the Collective could obtain from it, at cost price, available goods that they required. Everyone could even ask for these goods in large quantities, paying by instalments without interest, so that housewives did not have to shop every other day for soap, lignite, lard, oil, etc.

    As in all Collectives, the draught animals-donkeys, horses, mules-were housed in large stables specially fitted up, and were used both for heavy and light work. In the morning, specially trained boys would harness them to the carts and other equipment, saving time for the carters and landworkers. When they returned at night they no longer had to spend a further half hour unharnessing and grooming their horses before going home, for this task was done for them by their comrades. As also when there was much unloading to be done, others would come to help.

    Less than two months after its constitution, I received a letter from the secretary of the Collective of Jativa which I feel deserves to be quoted in full.

    Jativa, March 8, 1937.

    Dear Comrade,

    I have waited to reply, in spite of my promise to do so as soon as possible, because l wanted to give you as much information as possible on the progress of the Collective, and as the study I have in mind to write would make me delay too long, I have decided to send you what hard facts are available and leave a more detailed report to a later date.

    The membership of the Collective has reached 408, of whom 82 are members of the U.G.T. while the others are from the C.N.T. Twenty-three applications for membership are waiting for the nominated Commission to decide one way or the other. There are many applications but we want to advance with caution.

    The enthusiasm of the collectivists is fantastic, so much so that our members are working twice as much as they did before. For this reason we prefer to backpedal a little on accepting new members so that they shall not be influenced simply by material considerations, and that nothing should intervene to harm the wonderful spirit that exists and which is the guarantee for success.

    The total wages for the 408 member families amounts to 22,811 pesetas a week, from which amount we must deduct 1,108.50 pesetas which some collectivists earn outside in other trades and which they hand over to the Collective in accordance with the Rules on this question. Other expenses have to be added such as:

    Doctors, operations, dentists, confinements, oculist, medicaments estimate per year 26,600 ptas Purchases of furniture for new households per year 9,250 ptas House rents for collectivists per month 2,632 ptas

    All the above represents weekly outgoings totalling 22,999 pesetas which divided by 453 working persons-we obviously do not include the elderly and the incapacitated-gives a family wage of 50.70 pesetas.

    We have not yet been able to prepare our estimates for the purchase of fertilisers, materials for fumigation, machinery, feed for livestock and other expenses; neither have we estimates of income from the sale of our products: we are too absorbed by the meetings with peasants who have not joined, to decide amicably which land they can cultivate individually and which they can give up to us.

    Things are happening all the time so that it is impossible to establish exact estimates until all these matters are settled. Nevertheless the life of the Collective is now and henceforth guaranteed. One can already make the following estimates in round figures:

    Value of the crops from 340 hectares of orange groves at the minimum price of 3,000 pesetas

    per hectare ... 1,020,000 ptas

    ditto from 100 hectares of rice plantings average 720 quintals at 350 pesetas a quintal .. 252,000 ptas

    ditto 280 hectares of irrigated land at an average

    certainly greater than 6,000 pesetas ... ... 1,680,000 ptas

    ditto 1,000 hectares of dry lands at 300 pesetas

    - 300,000 ptas

    3,252,000 ptas

    The difference between the outgoings noted and the above estimated gross income is 2,052,752 pesetas which will permit us to improve our working equipment, to purchase fertilisers, feedstuffs for the animals, etc. We have kept our estimates as low as possible in order to improve the living conditions of the members of the Collective as and when our reserves will make this possible. This win encourage the farmers and smallholders who have so far hesitated in joining to make up their minds. The results obtained will then make them join us in a happier frame of mind than if they were to join now.

    In the three months since our Collective was founded we have bought three lorries at a cost of 100,000 pesetas; we have also purchased 12 she-mules and 230 goats and are expecting delivery of forty cows. We have organised a poultry farm and bought six incubators. At the moment we are producing 3,000 eggs a month. We have decided to develop this farm as quickly as we can to ensure that eggs and poultry will be available to an members without payment.

    The production and monetary return at the moment from all the collectivists amounts to 400,000 pesetas a month.

    Fraternal greetings . . .


    The detailed account. of the Collective in Jativa ends here, but it is worth underlining once again the different conditions in which the Collectives in Aragon and those in the Levante were born. In Aragon it was possible to obtain from the beginning the support of a large proportion of the population because of the absence of opposition from the republican authorities, and because the traditional political parties had disappeared. Often the Collective merged with the village. In the Levante, in the circumstances, the Collectives were usually only partial-the estimate of 40% of the total population is a fair one in my view. But on the one hand the spread of their action, and on the other the greater demographic density, resulted in there being more numerous, with more members and, as a consequence of the abundance of their resources, their constructive achievement in the economic field was much more important. On the human level Aragon has certainly not been surpassed.

    3. Other Methods of Operation

    SEGORBE (province of Castellon de la Plana). As well as many libertarians, there were in this small town of 7,000 inhabitants also many militants among the socialists, U.G.T.-ists, Republicans and Communists. In addition there were the farmers who thought they would be able to keep the land which they formerly rented from the terratenientes, now dispossessed, and the traditional smallholders, satisfied with their situation, who were not attracted by collectivist organisation. These adverse forces constituted a solid front of resistance to the socialisation proposed by the C.N.T.-ers, even more so since the Minister of Agriculture, the Communist Uribe, made vehement speeches over the Valencia radio inciting the peasants to "resistance" against the Collectives, whilst La Pasionaria, (12) official leader of the Party of Moscow echoing the arguments formerly circulated by the reactionaries, was declaring over the same radio, to the benefit of the waverers: "Is it not a fact, comrade peasants, that it is painful to work and break one's back throughout the year, only to be deprived of the fruits of your labours by some immoral scoundrels when it is time to gather the harvest." Declarations of war on the supporters of collectivisation followed.

    One came near to bloody incidents which the Stalinists were at pains to provoke, and when I went the first time to Segorbe, to address a meeting on the advantages of collectivisation from the social and economic points of view, I was hard pressed afterwards to bring calm among the tense comrades, advising against a violent confrontation with their detractors and for, to begin with, a modest, free community, as had been done elsewhere in order to win over supporters by the power of example.

    The canton of Segorbe comprises 42 villages where, as in so many other places, our comrades had entered the municipal Councils through which they sought to have social reforms accepted, some of them fundamental.

    On their initiative, price controls were established in most villages; then trade was socialised, firstly in order to share in the revictualling of the front which was not far off. A new stage was the establishment of a Comite which distributed goods to the controlled tradespeople. Then the "municipal cooperatives" were born in complete agreement with the delegates of seven villages who had been elected to constitute the distribution Comite for the whole canton. Finally the "Free Commune of Segorbe" was created with an initial nucleus of 42 families. A month later there were ninety. Fenner Brockway the English socialist was in Segorbe at the time and on his return to England referred to the deep impression he had received from that visit. *

    JERICA (province of Castellon de la Plana). There too, and not because it was reactionary, the population did not readily accept the collectivisation of the land, not even of the expropriated estates belonging to the rich fascists, because the collectivists spirit was foreign to large numbers of people. And again it would be interesting to know to what extent the fear of a Francoist triumph or of a backward move by the Republic after victory influenced the attitude of those who, as was the case of some villages in Aragon, refused to participate in the new solutions.

    Eight months after the 19th July uprising the C.N.T. had only 200 members-incidentally, as many as the U.G.T. but with this difference, so often noted: that support for the U.G.T. by the conservative smallholders, tradesmen and other recent converts to trade unionism was dictated by a desire to counteract the revolutionary enterprises of the C.N.T. and maintain in existence a class society in which everyone seeks to benefit at the expense of somebody else.

    Nevertheless a start was made by socialising industry. Then our Syndicate seized five estates, one of 70 hectares, onto which 70 families belonging to the C.N.T. and 10 to the U.G.T. moved From these beginnings the number of collectivists rose rapidly.

    SONEJA (province of Castellon de la Plana). The libertarian movement there has a long history-which probably goes back to the First International. In 1921 a number of our comrades organised a plasterers cooperative as a way of freeing themselves from the boss class and of doing something constructive. Ten years later almost all the plaster used in the village and its surroundings came from their firm which in 1936 had liquid assets valued at 300,000 pesetas. This was a small fortune in villages where a tradesman's rate was seven pesetas a day.

    The resources that were at their disposal made it possible for our comrades to build a small school which they donated to the local Syndicate, and which they maintained at their expense. Then they founded a cultural group and a public library. Thanks to them, there were no illiterate children in Soneja. They were also looked upon as the most idealistic in the region and their moral rectitude, which was proverbial, meant that they were often called in to arbitrate in disputes.

    After 19th July, a new municipal council was elected in which they were in a majority. As in Segorbe, industry was socialised first. It was not until the following March that the local general Syndicate undertook to socialise what it could in agriculture, only with the estates abandoned by their fascist owners, land neglected due to lack of initiative or because of physical disability.

    Good work was done but it did not achieve the completeness that was noted in other localities, though it went on improving.

    SUECA (13) (province of Valencia). On July 19th, as in all localities in the Levante, the anti-fascist forces, C.N.T.-ers, republicans and socialists constituted a defence Comite, took the necessary protective measures against the fascists, sought to ensure the means of life for all the inhabitants, and confiscated the large estates.

    These estates were in the first place cultivated for the benefit of everybody. Then, surmounting a second stage, the Defence Comite took all the cultivable land under its control and proceeded to a new division according to the needs of families and the average yields of the various zones. A system reminiscent of the Russian "mir"; it was the only example of its kind in agrarian solutions, even provisional, that I had heard of. But as in the "mir", the land was given in usufruct, not as property legally recognised.

    A household would receive two hectares of excellent, irrigated I and; an extra hectare for the first child and, following the convention established with family wages, a decreasing amount for each addition to the family. The middle range landowners were reduced to the common share which permitted them to live by their work.

    At the same time, and perhaps before, the same Defence Comite, inspired by the libertarian elements who were in it, established a control of ricefields, rice being the main crop in that zone. The administrative agricultural commission was especially nominated and given a mandate to sell the crop and take charge of the proceeds. Then it opened accounts in a local bank in the name of each family who could thereby draw on their share of the money each week or month, up to the limits established so as to avoid waste and chaos.

    It was at this point that on 10th January, 1937, about six months after the Civil War started, that the peasants' Syndicate, with 2,000 members and affiliated to the C.N.T., started the agrarian Collective of Sueca. 400 families joined, contributing their land and their working tools, so from the start 1,000 hectares of very rich land for general agriculture were available as well as 200 hectares for market gardening and a proportional share of the estates taken from the fascists. Juridically this land belonged to the commune (parish) but the occupiers did what they wished with it.

    Shortly afterwards 32 families of members of the U.G.T. and ten of members of the Communist Party in their turn formed a Collective. Example was asserting itself with our adversaries.

    BENICARLO (province of Castellon de la Plana). The method of application in Benicarlo reminds one of Segorbe with some variables. None of the fifty-two villages in the canton decided to attempt a partial or complete collectivist experiment at the beginning, nor was it the case of our comrades wanting to impose it by force. Nevertheless the resistance weakened later and some Collectives were set up.

    Once again it was the participation of the municipal council and the kind of solutions provided for the problem of food supplies that paved the way. Private business being at a standstill, our comrades met the situation by commandeering lorries and vans and organising a municipal Comite entrusted with the task of sales and purchases "for the whole of the fifty-two villages of the canton".

    This organism started by buying from the peasants their produce which they despatched to the consumer or to disposal centres or even abroad. Then it centralised supplies of seeds and fertilisers and distributed them with a view to intensifying the production of corn and potatoes, bearing in mind the food shortages to be expected that winter. (The peasants seemed to us to be more farseeing and concerned with the fate of the towns than the governors and citizens whose concern it should have been.) This led to the supervision of the work of the smallholders, to avoid any sabotage or negligence in a period when the general needs had to prevail.

    At the same time the cantonal comite of Benicarlo, thanks to the friendly relations which permitted a growing unity between agriculture and industry, brought immediate improvements to the peasants' conditions. Farmers and medieros had no longer to pay land rent either in money or kind. They very soon benefited from the free installation of electricity, the result of excellent intersyndical relations on a regional basis, and each village had its telephone. The necessary resources for these enterprises came from the rents on the houses of the people of Benicarlo itself, who were invited to pay them to the municipal Council where our comrades had their headquarters. In return taxes were abolished and the proprietors were never thrown out onto the street.

    Then schools were started, kindergartens organised. All this convinced the doubters, and in the end the Collectives made their appearance.

    In the case of Benicarlo, initiative came therefore mainly from the centre. It was by beginning at the centre that it was possible first to start and then to extend the "Confederal Communities", thus called because of their affiliation to the C.N.T. Everything concerning the canton went through Benicarlo which was strategically well situated. Every morning an average of 150 carts brought or collected goods of all kinds. The fraternal network was finally established, and later completed.

    Carried along by the tide of events, the political parties either accepted the fait accompli or collaborated.

    Footnotes to Chapter 6

    [1] The variations in geographical characteristics as well as of dependent resources were such that in 1936, regions in the same province had a population density in the Mediterranean zone of 450 per sq. kilometre, and in other places only 25 to 30 kilometres from the coast, the density was less than 20.

    [2] The population of Spain is much less dispersed than that of France, for instance, and the number of communes was, even when taking into account the smaller population, considerably lower. The figures for the Levante are no less eloquent.

    [3] It should be added that a number of socialist peasants or who belonged to the U.G.T. joined the Collectives. This was another good reason for maintaining the autonomy of the Collectives.

    [4] FERECALE (the initials for the Regional Federation of Peasants of the Levante) was constituted for the transport and the marketing of citrus fruits. It was made up of the following sections: technical personnel; warehouses; depots; land transport; home market; international exports; general accounts, sea transport. General delegations had been set up in Castellon, Burriana, Gandia, Denia and Alicante.

    It owned its fleet of motor vessels of 120-150 tons. The orders which came from abroad were sent to the regional warehousing centre in which the fruit (especially oranges) according to the quality required was stored. The goods were despatched from each centre to its corresponding embarkation section; the invoicing centre then transmitted the registration to the accounts section. Furthermore the control sections established in the ports transmitted by telephone the receipts and outgoings to the headquarters of FERECALE in Valencia; and the depots from which the goods had been removed acted in a similar manner.

    [5] Of course there were depots with raw materials distributed among the five provinces, for it goes without saying that everything was not concentrated in Valencia

    [6] The home market could have expanded. But apart from the cost of transport in this excessively mountainous country, the old system had never taken it up.

    [7] The influx of refugees from Castile had not yet begun.

    [8] This secretary, a very young man, surprised me by his knowledge of the problems of Spanish agriculture. And yet, he was unknown, even in our movement.

    [9] This measure was taken for the members of the Collective who did not own their homes. They were, as one can see, a minority. It is also worth mentioning that collectivists lived at home individually. So nothing in common with the views of Etienne Cabet and other reformers, which led to many community experiments during the last century in N. America failing largely because of excessive communising and at all times, which stifled the personality. This separation was practised in all Spanish Collectives.

    [10] This difference in the means of life, which one finds elsewhere though not always, will come as a shock, and rightly so. It must not be forgotten that Spain has retained some of the consequences of the Arab presence which lasted 800 years, followed by the most backward Catholic Church that has ever existed. That is one explanation. Then, in practice, it is, exceptional for a woman to live alone; generally the spinster or the widow lives with her family - family traditions are more respected in Spain than in France or Britain. The problem of the single woman does not present itself in the way that might be supposed when viewed from the point of view of French ways of life. It should be added that at the family table, everyone men and women, eat their fill. There is no distinction made except in the poorest families, where often if, for instance, their means allowed them to buy only one egg, it would be kept for the head of the family not so much because he was the head as that he was the breadwinner and needed to be nourished to maintain his strength to work.

    [11] This project was in due course carried out. When the water gushed forth for the first time in the direction of the orange groves, flooding seemed inevitable. A young runner was dispatched post haste to ask them to turn off this wonderful torrent!

    [12] Leader and rabid Stalinist militant.

    *Translator's footnote: Brockway in an article, "The C.N.T. as I saw it" (Spain and the World, Jy 19, 1937) wrote of Segorbe: "Most of all I enjoyed my visit to the Agricultural Collective of Segorbe. I must not delay to describe it in detail, but the spirit of the peasants, their enthusiasm, the way they had contributed their stock to the common effort, their pride in it-all was an inspiration . . . The anarchists of Spain, through the C.N.T., are doing one of the biggest constructive jobs ever done by the working-class."

    [13] Our movement had deep roots in Sueca, where its history had been at times, dramatic.



    Circumstances beyond my control interrupted my first-hand study of the achievements of the Spanish social revolution much too soon; as a result I was unable to observe on the spot the Collectives of Castile, or more exactly of the two Castilles: the Old and the New. Collectivisation in the Centre took place after Aragon and the Levante and was at the same time a natural development and a necessity. Yet the Castilian region, especially the one that a mind historically informed automatically evokes, did not seem ready for such a venture which was so contrary to the role that it had played since the suppression of the "comuneros" at the time of Don Carlos. (1) For since the triumphant Reconquest at the expense of the Arabs, it was the home of centralism and of political domination set up by Ferdinand and Isabella (called, with reason, the "catholic kings") and maintained by force of arms. The establishment of the Court in Madrid, understandably engineered by Charles V, succeeded in infusing among the population, as almost always happens with the population of capital cities, a power complex, and the most fanatical Church which the monarchy made into an instrument of power, added to it the seal of its intransigent fanaticism. However, political and religious convictions do not necessarily always destroy higher human qualities. It is the case of the Castilian peasant, the nobility of whose spirit and soul, whose uprightness' courage and profound honesty are his greatest virtues which inspire the esteem of others, and whose respect for the State has not become a voluntary and servile submission. Every individual being in the first place a man, it is in the first place within himself, from his innermost conscience that he draws the reasons for his behaviour.

    On the other hand, municipal and customary right has held out in Castile as in other regions of Spain, and under the authoritarian structures of the central power, it very often maintained, as with the fire under the ash, a spirit and a practice of mutual aid that people like Adolfo Posadas and Joaquin Costa have praised in such works as El Derecho Consuetudinario or El Colectivismo Agrario en Espana. For the Castilian peasant, a tradition of mutual aid, of municipal rights, persists, and a word given is worth more than the law. He is hospitable and generous. He is a worker, making the corn which feeds the whole country grow on land which is hard, unproductive, and at an average altitude of 700 metres above sea level, exposed throughout most of the year either to bitter frosts or torrid heat. The continual struggle has developed in him a characteristic austerity and courage.

    Yet libertarian ideas had penetrated very little the vast Castilian plateau. Conservatives predominated there, with the centuries old "caciquism" of the large landowners. Whenever an awakening to new ideas had taken place it was the reformist socialists who had benefited.

    But the Civil War changed many things. For from the first moment in a large part of the region it did not develop against fascism. On the other hand, it extended inevitably to the largest landed estates, implicitly or explicitly its allies. The flight of men who immediately went to the regions that had been taken from the Republic, facilitated or provoked the revolutionary seizure of their estates.

    And from the first moment, in all the villages which had previously been dominated by a social organisation from another age, the Popular Front nominated administrators who confiscated not only the land but the machines and the draught animals as well.

    At the same time, the reformist trade union, the U.G.T., appointed administrative Comites for the management of the expropriated estates. And the Communists, who were part of the Popular Front, infiltrated these new organisms as fast as they could.

    The manner in which this incongruous bunch of administrators, without any creative initiative, conducted affairs was disastrous from the start. The Republicans, naturally legalists, and who had never thought about such responsibilities, did not know what to do with the means of production. The Communists and socialists, accustomed not to act without receiving instructions from the Party's Central Committee, or from the State institutions, were waiting for orders which never came, or which were too vague when they didn't arrive too late.

    Now, work on the land demands constant initiative responding to the diverse circumstances which cannot be foreseen from an office, and nothing is more unbearable to the peasant than to be given orders from a distance by people who know nothing about the job. The militants of the political parties were putting a brake on the tasks needing to be done instead of being the instigators.

    As a result yields fell on the large landed estates that had been seized under the auspices of the State which was undertaking, almost by force, an agrarian reform about which there had been talk for years without anything being done on the kind of scale required. Then the workers were blamed for the situation, and that the partial stoppage of work on the land (which was in fact caused by the incapacity of the local authorities, of the management committees to choose between large private property and socialism) had caused a decline in production which was threatening the towns.

    The situation therefore became favourable for the organisation of Collectives. Soon there was in addition the departure of the government from Madrid before the advance of the Francoist troops which were being contained with difficulty twelve kilometres to the south of the capital. Relieved of the State machine the spirit of the population began to unwind, to "degovernmentalise" itself, and things were ordered through the freed, or at least much freer, initiative of the population.

    A new stage in which the libertarian influence began to make itself felt with unexpected vigour. Until then it was only in the capital that it was developed to a degree which had the potential to attain historic proportions. For some years past, especially since the proclamation of the Second Republic in 1931, the libertarian movement had made progress in Madrid where the royal residence, the presence of the Court, of Parliament and the various organisms of the State, and the absence of industries, imposed and favoured institutions of a parasitic and bureaucratic character and dulled local customs. But during those five years our movement had shot forward, and our daily newspaper C.N.T. had increased its circulation to 30,00.0 copies. The building workers' Syndicate which had cost our militants much effort to organise against the opposition of the existing Syndicate, whose paid organiser was the reformist leader Largo Caballero, had 15,000 members on the eve of the Francoist attack; that of the woodworkers had absorbed a third of the labour force among cabinet makers, joiners and carpenters. The Syndicate of liberal professions included a growing number of journalists, engineers, and writers whose fundamentally anti-State feelings drove them out of the U.G.T. which continued to be managed by State socialists.

    During the dictatorship of Primo de Rivera (1924-1931) an Ateneo (centre for studies and cultural activities) had been organised, and had begun to spread information on social matters. (2) Once the Republic was proclaimed some thirty Ateneos of the same kind though of less ambitious proportions, for which a library was the starting point, were organised in the central area as well as in the districts where there was a chain of them, and which provided not only a reading room used also for lectures and where books were available in quantities, but workers' syndicates established their headquarters there; thus the class. struggle and the development of the individual went hand in hand. The districts of Tetuan, Cuatro Caminos, La Bombilla, Cerretera Extramadura and many more each had its Ateneo. And naturally these Ateneos had set up a Federation and a network which covered the city and its suburbs. The high moral level of this activity explains to a large degree the influence; of the C.N.T. and the constructive achievements which took place as soon as the situation made it possible to act. Our Madrid comrades who had already established contacts with peasant groupings intervened slowly, advocating what was being done in Aragon and in the Levante. Very soon they got a hearing, the more so as the majority consisted of manual workers and not of bureaucrats, and that those workers could easily put down the hammer and the trowel and take up the pitchfork when it was deemed necessary to do so.

    And the Collectives were created, spreading to the north and south of Madrid, across those parts of the two Castiles that had not been conquered by the Francoists two-thirds of the province of Guadalajara, almost all the province of Madrid, Toledo and Ciudad Real, (3) and the entire province of Cuenca. In a year, there were 230 Collectives with about 100,000 members with their families. Six months later the number of Collectives had risen to 300. No one doubted that the movement would have developed well beyond this had Franco not won the war. The reader may be very surprised to learn that the Federation of Land Workers which was after all affiliated to the U.G.T., itself joined the collectives.

    The Collectives were a success right from the start, the results of solidarity, a community of efforts, and of the use of the most effective techniques. There was no waiting for slogans and for official or semiofficial approval before forging ahead. Land clearance, irrigation works, new sowings, tree planting, collective stores ("cooperatives"), poultry yards, economic equality as a result of the establishment of the family wage . . . After all, the workers who supported the U.G.T. more often than not had the same objectives as those who belonged to the C.N.T. Like them, they wanted the expropriation of the large landed proprietors which the minireform effected by the government of the Second Republic was carrying out with exasperating slowness. They wanted the establishment of social justice in practice, with the right to a living, to consumer goods, to the satisfaction of material needs for themselves and their families And they knew full well that this would be impossible so long as the land belonged to a minority of exploiters and parasites Agreement was therefore easily reached between the two peasant organisations.

    In December 1937, the secretariat of the National Federation of Agriculture attached to the C.N.T. was able to declare that the region of the Centre, roughly comprising the two Castiles, came second among the regions so far as the results of socialisation were concerned. First came the Levante, and we have already outlined the extent of its achievements, and at the time the Collectives of Aragon were deeply affected by the ravages caused by the brigade led by the Communist Lister which was then showing more courage against the collectivist peasants than against Franco's armed forces.

    The achievements in Castile were not only due to the efforts of the libertarian militants of the region (4) and of the socialists who dared to join forces with them. A fact which deserves to be mentioned, and which once again demonstrates the deep solidarity that linked the regions: In July 1937, 1000 members of the Levante Collectives had been sent to Castile to help and to advise their less experienced comrades. As a result of this concentration of complementary activities it would seem that in Castile, with the lessons of Aragon and the Levante to assist them, great strides were made in a minimum of time.

    From the administrative point of view, the organic structure of the Castilian Collectives is basically the same as already described for Aragon and the Levante. A Management Commission, nominated by the village or collectivist assembly and responsible to groups or producers constituted and organised according to age, suitability for work, their sex and the variety of tasks (5) delegates from the groups meeting periodically to plan overall and to coordinate efforts. (6)

    As in Aragon and the Levante the administrative Commissions consisted of as many members as there were branches of activity: agriculture, livestock, housing, education, etc.... In the small villages or in Collectives with few members, a single delegate would undertake a number of these functions, and generally would go on working at his normal job. For, to quote from a report published at the time. "in a well organised Collective nobody has to give up being a peasant".

    The Economic Council for Castile which resided in Madrid was itself advised by experts, with and without diplomas, on agricultural problems and stock rearing. At the same time local accountancy, generally entrusted to a professional often coming from the town, recorded everything concerning production, consumption, wages paid, goods in store. Thus everything was controlled by the peasants, who were regularly apprised; on the other hand what was produced at the cantonal level was communicated to the corresponding commission of the cantonal federation which, in turn, informed the Collectives set up in the country districts. They thus practised a decentralisation of administrative functions.


    From the economic point of view, the Collectives in Castile did not always have the same organic structure that one finds, for instance, in those of Aragon. Often they could only develop in the vast estates which the socialising peasants took possession of. On the other hand, and as in Andalusia, some estates were so large that with the personnel settled on them they literally constituted socio-economic units, so that an isolated Collective could nevertheless be a very important one. But it was also the case that within the jurisdiction of some villages many scattered Collectives were linked together by a coordinating local Comite. In other cases practically the whole village was collectivised, or the part of it that was constituted a homogeneous and integrated unity in the multiplicity of the general activities.

    For whatever may have been the significance of those realisations, all of them, from the beginning, tended to unify and even, to use a verb dear to Bakunin, to "solidariser" * their action. It explains why each Collective belonging to the cantonal Federation, after covering its expenses (payment of wages or transfers-the word "wages" was repugnant to most people-purchase of fertilisers, seed, machines, school outgoings, sanitation, etc.) would send any cash surplus to the "Cantonal Equalisation Fund". his Fund, the administrators of which were nominated by a general assembly of delegates from the Collectives and responsible to them, had as its main function the distribution of moneys, supplied by the more favoured Collectives, among the less favoured ones.

    Thus, as in Aragon, the libertarian communist principle was applied not only within each Collective, but between all the Collectives. No village ravaged by a hailstorm, or drought, or, frost and receiving compensation for the damage sustained, was expected to reimburse a penny of what it had received.

    But the federal Equalisation Fund had also other functions. It was not enough to help the village or isolated Collective which f was through no fault of its own constantly in the red. With the help of the specialists from the Comite of the federation of the Centre it looked into ways and means for remedying the difficulties by improving yields in agriculture and by organising. auxiliary industries.

    As in the case of other regions in Spain, all the cantonal funds in the Central region were federated. The headquarters were it in Madrid. The region thus constituted a unity the parts of which, freely settled local problems, but also, generally speaking, common problems such as those concerned with production. In a year the Madrid Comite distributed a million pesetas worth of fertilisers and machines to the poorest Collectives. (7) It had obtained that money from the sale of the surpluses of the wealthiest Collectives. So the general and federal mechanism was well set up. Nothing was left to chance. And the general regional organisation did not limit itself to the functions we have so far enumerated. It gave advice, full time guidance as to the best techniques to adopt, and the most suitable methods of production.

    Already in November 1937, the peasants' regional Federation (8) had established its laboratories which were consulted on problems such as cultivation depth, suitable fertilisers, recommendations as to cultivations and seeds following chemical analysis of the' soil. But it was considered not enough simply to give advice: the section for fertilisers acquired and supplied what had been, recommended by the laboratories section. There was always, complete synchronisation.

    Campo Libre (Freeland), organ of the Federation, published as did the other regional organs of the libertarian Collectives, detailed information on how to cultivate or deal with cereals, vegetables' vines, fruit trees, according to the varieties, climate and soil. It included technical data on dealing with diseases, on storing produce, as well as on suitable stock breeds for each region and on rational feeding to be adopted, etc. And the technical sections of the Federation published in the organs of the press announcements such as the following:

    "We beg our local and cantonal Syndicates and Collectives which need to renew their vines and to improve them with American stock to get in touch with us as soon as possible indicating the varieties and quantities they require. That is when they know what is best needed. In other cases, will they let us know how many plants they need and send us samples of the soil at different depths for analysis so that we may establish what is the most suitable variety. In this way we will be able to secure in good time the necessary plants to secure the best results from the vineyards."

    Other advice and suggestions on all aspects of agricultural production and its by-products contributed to the technical development of the peasantry and all these efforts facilitated the rapid rationalisation of agriculture which was enthusiastically assisted by our agricultural engineers, chemists and other experts. (9) One found this morality, this solidarity, this responsibility, this collectivist application in all aspects of life. Already towards the end of 1937 when the comrades who had been sent from the Levante or from Catalonia with vans arrived in no matter which collectivised village in Castile looking for corn, they always ran into a refusal. Even if there were available stocks the reply they got was, "Comrade, what we have here does not belong to us; you must get in touch with the secretariat of the regional Federation in Madrid." No offers of money or goods could in any way change this attitude for it was understood that respecting decisions taken ensured the success of the whole enterprise. So that all the prospective buyers could do was to phone Madrid or go there, where the section for barter or commerce accepted to supply the goods asked for if the general interest of the less favoured regions and the ever-present considerations of the demands of the war permitted.

    We have said that the regional Federation of peasants of the Centre had become the regional Federation of peasants and of food supplies. It was firstly a case of the awareness of the role played by producers, secondly of the organic integration for which precedents existed, though less developed, in Aragon and in the Levante.

    On 25 October 1937, on the initiative of the peasant organisation of the region of the Centre, the fusion took place between the 97,843 peasants and the 12,897 workers in the distributive trades who also belonged to the C.N.T. It was yet another step in the coordination of complimentary functions. From that moment, production and distribution were one activity. It was the distributors in the producers' Federation who undertook the distribution of products in the cooperatives and stores or public warehouses, which was organised as quickly as possible, both in the villages and in the towns, not forgetting the capital of Spain. Private trading was eliminated or at least kept under control, and thus was eliminated the possibility for a minority of middlemen to speculate on the produce brought by a majority of growers and take over control of the material means of the whole population. (10)

    Then, as in Aragon, as well as in the Levante and in Catalonia, and we feel sure in the parts of Andalusia and Estremadura which for some time were in the hands of our comrades, this economic reorganisation was completed by the creation of a large number of schools, children's colonies, important irrigation works and a great number of initiatives for getting waste land into production, even in Madrid, sometimes at the price of superhuman efforts. One must further add the positive measures our comrades succeeded in getting accepted in the municipal Councils where they endeavoured to extend the role of the Commune (parish) and to transform it into an active element of social reorganisation.

    Here now are a few examples which give one a fairly clear idea of the achievements of the three hundred Collectives of Castile.

    Collective of Miralcampo: It was founded on the vast estate of Count Romanones, the famous leader of the monarchist liberals. In 1936, before the Revolution, wheat had been grown on 1,938 hectares and barley on 323 hectares. After collectivisation the acreage sown was increased to 4,522 hectares for wheat and 1,242 hectares for barley. Wine production increased from 435 to 727 hectolitres as a result of the improved treatment of the vines and the organisation of irrigation (for there had not been the time to replace the plants). The value of melon production rose from 196,000 to 300,000 pesetas and that of lucerne from 80,000 to 250,000 pesetas. (11)

    Furthermore the Collective had a splendid rabbit industry, some 100 pigs and a food warehouse at which 800 people got their supplies. (12)

    Throughout the canton the constructive achievements of the Collectives of Tielmes, Dos Barrios, Cabanas Yelpe, Cislada, Tomelloso, Almagro compared favourably with those of Miralcampo.

    Marzanares: The collectivists' achievements here were on a much larger scale than in Miralcampo. At the time this town had a population of 25,000 and surprisingly, for it was in Castile, the libertarian movement had put down numerous roots there. (13) Furthermore, collectivisation was undertaken as early as August 1936; from the start our comrades succeeded in carrying along with them the local members of the U.G.T.

    In 1937 the Collective had 22,500 hectares of land, and 2,500 hectares of woodlands and forests. Half this wealth came from expropriations, the other half from gifts and voluntary membership. In the archives were kept the particulars of 63 expropriations, 23 voluntary gifts in perpetuity and of the gifts of 500 collectivists who had previously been smallholders. The initial nucleus consisted of 1,700 people, men, women and children.

    The following year they were producing 87,610 quintals of wheat, 96,840 hectolitres of wine, 630,000 pesetas worth of secondary cereals and fruit and vegetables valued at 900,000 pesetas.

    From February 1937, the Collective possessed 700 mules and she-mules, as many carts and ploughs, six tractors, four threshing machines for the cereals, six hand operated and three motorised blowers, 80 pumps for extracting and distributing water onto the vegetable cultivations. In addition 3,000 sheep, 80 goats and two huge pigeon houses each with 6,000 birds.

    That is not all. There were three oil-crushers equipped with hydraulic presses, thirty wine cellars with a capacity of 131,200 hectolitres, an alcohol distillery for medicinal purposes, a printing works, two cartwrights' workshops with modern equipment, a joiner's shop, a workshop for the weaving of esparto grass, a plaster factory, a sulphur factory for the sulphur dusting of the vines, and an engineering workshop.

    It is true that almost all these installations already existed but the Collective got them to maximise their production. And being the cantonal headquarters, it assisted the Collectives of Membrilla, La Solana, Alhambra, Villarte, Arenas de la Vega, Daimiel, Villarubia, Almagro and Bolanos with whom it was linked by a community of effort. Such was the confidence it inspired that the Institute for Agrarian Reform, the official organism of the State, granted it a loan of 800,000 pesetas to tide it over the organisational period and which it was able to return without difficulty, even though mobilisation for the war involving a large number of members deprived it of willing hands which would have made it possible to do more.

    Alcazar de Cervantes-It was in this town, where the traditional name Alcazar de San Juan had been changed by the Revolution, that Cervantes was born (this is a controversial matter). From October 1936 the local sections of the C.N.T. and of the U.G.T. began the socialisation of agriculture. Of 53,000 hectares within the jurisdiction of the municipal Council, 35,000 hectares passed into the hands of the Collective.

    An administrative Comite consisting of three members from each of the Syndicates was nominated. The chairman, an old peasant, small proprietor and member of the U.G.T. was not perhaps the best choice for this revolutionary undertaking but his nomination was, so far as our comrades were concerned, a gesture of toleration. And in the event there were no grounds for complaint.

    The first task for the Collective was, as always, to intensify -agricultural production. Until then the growing of cereals was virtually non-existent. A year later production had reached 19,000 hectolitres of wheat, 15,000 hectolitres of barley. No mean achievement on hard land and under generally unfavourable climatic conditions.

    In February 1938 the Collective had 1,800 mules and she-mules and a breeding flock of 400 sheep which though it had not increased in size because it was always being drawn upon in order to contribute to the feeding of Madrid and those at the front, nevertheless had by July 30, 1937 produced after payment of family wages, a net gain of 211,792 pesetas.

    The region is most suited to the cultivation of the vine. In 1937 the harvest produced 48,300 quintals of grapes which were delivered to the presses attached to the collective cellars. A thirtieth part of the production was kept for local consumption and the money received from the sale of the balance was used to improve the standard of living and to bring, by the distribution of clothing and furniture and the carrying out of repairs to houses, comforts previously unknown.

    Industrial collectivisation appeared only in March 1937, six months after the birth of the agrarian Collective. Presumably the results obtained by the latter acted as an incentive to act for those who had so far hesitated. The members of the C.N.T. started by establishing an engineering workshop in an abandoned house. Some craftsmen and small tradesmen helped them, and shortly afterwards, the workshop boasted 40 engineering workers with a technical manager nominated by them. It had been started with tools which each of them had brought along, but the situation was improved as circumstances allowed.

    Footnotes to Chapter 7

    [1] Though the suppression took place at the time of Charles V it was not his doing. Whatever it may cost some Spaniards to admit it, it was the Spanish aristocracy alone which annihilated the democratic uprising: the repercussions had far-reaching importance in the social history of Spain.

    [2] This Ateneo with a libertarian spirit served to complement, relatively speaking, the Ateneo founded under the monarchy by the liberal Madrid intellectuals and whose campaigns and political positions certainly exerted an influence on public life in Spain. On many occasions, libertarian militants, among them Orobon Fernander, a young man of great merit who died of consumption, were invited.

    [3] Ciudad Real (Royal Town) was renamed during the revolution Ciudad Libre (Free Town).

    [4] Many militants from Madrid who had effectively participated in the propaganda effort in the countryside, contributed to the organisation of the Collectives.

    [5] It should be remembered that women only worked irregularly - "to harvest the lucerne and to thin out the sugar beet plants" as the Collectivists of Albalate de Cinca put it in their report.

    [6] What happened in Castile was the opposite of what took place in the Levante. For it was the militants from the towns who went to the countryside to spread the message.

    *Translator's note: "solidariser" = to make common cause with.

    [7] One cannot appreciate the amount involved unless one also knows that at the time a quintal (225 Ibs.) of corn was worth 58 pesetas.

    [8] Which had become the regional Federation of Peasants and for the feeding of the Centre.

    [9] What we know of the Russian Revolution and the press that appeared from the first years of Bolshevik rule, permits us to say that one did not find any advice being given which reflected such a constructive spirit.

    [10] Here is some cogent evidence: in Barcelona, and in Catalonia in general, it was not possible to socialise and amalgamate production and distribution. And the meal that cost 12 pesetas in a Barcelona restaurant cost 3 pesetas in a socialised restaurant in Madrid.

    [11] At that time prices had not risen more than 10% over 1936 prices.

    [12] In his book Historia del Anarco-Sindicalismo espanol published in Madrid in 1961, the writer Juan Gomez Casas wrote: "The Collectives organised by the regional Federation of the Centre of Spain on the estates of Count Romanones in Miralcampo and Azuqucca, province of Guadalajara, specially deserve to be mentioned. The peasants completely transformed the whole physiognomy of these regions, they diverted the course of a river in order to irrigate the land, greatly increased the area under cultivation, built farms, a mill, schools, communal refectories, home for the collectivists and enormously increased production."

    Let us add that when he returned to his land at the end of the war, Count Romanones, who was a good sport was so amazed at what he saw that he prevailed on the fascists who were holding the organiser of this constructive achievement in prison and would certainly have shot him, to set him free.

    [13] Out of the normal population of 18,000, the C.N.T. had an average of 3,000 members; at the beginning of socialisation and as a consequence of recent persecutions there were 2,000. A few months later it had a membership of 6,000.



    We have seen that the overwhelming majority of Spanish anarchists had supported libertarian, or anarchist, communism or anarchocommunism, or again, in the period going from 1918 to 1936, anarcho-syndicalism, of which the formula and name made headway as one of the consequences of the Russian Revolution, but added nothing, in fact quite the contrary, to the constructive ideas of anarchism which we can qualify by the generic term social. (1)

    We have also seen that the communist anarchist formula, as well as that of libertarian communism and of anarcho-syndicalism, was one of free consumption which seemed to guarantee an equal right for all to the means of life, and to be the practical expression of true social justice. It was for this reason that Kropotkin had simplified it in summing it up in his book The Conquest of Bread, by the formula which was too readily believed literally of "prise au tas": each and all would take freely what they needed from the communal stores. But for quite a long time reservations had been expressed among social anarchists. The first among them was undoubtedly Malatesta, whose critical mind was quite frequently aroused, though he was generally unable to offer constructive, valid solutions to those he criticised. He had expressed doubts as to the possibility of putting this principle into practice in complete freedom, and stated that it could not be applied until production of consumer goods had considerably increased; unfortunately he was unaware of the fact that the increase in needs always follows, assuming it does not precede, the increase in production, and that for this problem there would never be a possibility of free consumption.

    But less well known militants, among them the writer of this book, had posed the problem in their own way. Some of them suggested the use of a form of money-which, incidentally, Malatesta had done about 1922 without pursuing the matter. Some also preconised a form of money without explaining its financial mechanism, and to prevent it giving rise to dangerous hoarding, imagined it to be "melting" and losing its value in a short space of time. Other solutions were advanced such as, for instance, that distribution should be organised, with some control, by syndical cooperatives and municipal stores, which would avoid waste and prevent sabotage by counter-revolutionary elements in the form of excessive consumption and waste. Nevertheless by 1936 no valid theoretical solution had yet been found, especially so far as the towns were concerned.

    Nothing then had been formulated with sufficient breadth and precision. So once the revolution had started it was imperative to find one or several solutions. The situation demanded it. In the regions where, as in Castile, in Catalonia or in the Levante, the official politico-administrative structures were being upheld and continued by the presence of the republican State, the use of official money was retained and backed by gold. (2) In the regions we have just referred to all that had to be done in order to avoid inequalities was to establish the family wage. The peseta remained as the standard of value and the means of distribution.

    But - and this was the case especially in Aragon - where the State did not dominate, many original solutions had to be improvised; and we mean "many", for each village or small locality introduced its own solution.

    At the beginning, then, there was no tacit agreement other than for the abolition of money, the expression and symbol of traditional injustice, social inequality, the crushing of the poor by the rich, the opulence of some at the expense of the poverty of others. For centuries, and from as far back as the complaints of the outcasts of fortune had been transmitted from generation to generation, money had appeared as the greatest of all means of exploitation, and the hatred of the common people had built up against the cursed metal, against the paper money which the revolutionaries had set their minds on abolishing first and foremost.

    In Aragon they kept their word. Nevertheless, for all that the principle of the "prise au tas" or in economic terms free consumption, was not applied. Apart from access, without control, to existing goods available in great abundance, and which were not the same in every village (here it was bread and wine, elsewhere vegetables, oil or fruit) some form of order was established from the first days when it was felt to be necessary, just as it was for the prosecution of work and production. For the revolution was considered right from the beginning a very important constructive undertaking. Especially in the countryside, there was no revolutionary orgy. The need to control and to foresee events was understood from the first day.

    We have preserved confirmatory testimony of the manner in which the collectivist book-keeping was established. Let us begin with the simplest of all.

    We are in the village of Naval situated in the north of the province of Huesca. No money, not even local money, no rationing. Free consumption from the first day, but supervised consumption. Everybody could call at the "Antifascist Comite' which is advised, if necessary, by the local libertarian group. A cooperative for general distribution was improvised and it produced a book of coupons numbered 1 to 100, in which were marked from day to day the commodities handed over on demand, and the consumer's name.

    On September 15, the day collective life began there, Antonio Ballester-or somebody in his family-received half a kilo of chickpeas and a kilo of soap; Jose Gambia received a pair of canvas shoes: Serano Bistue, wire netting for a rabbit hutch and some string: Prudencia Lafulla a kilo of rice and a kilo of sugar: Joaquina Bastos a kilo of soap: Antonio Puertolas two kilos of meat; Ramon Sodomillo three litres of wine, Josi Lafarg a loaf of bread; Jose Arnal a little girl's dress, a kilo of soap and one of rice: (3) just as Sotero Fuentes who also took a kilo of soap and one of lard; Sesouta, nails for the cabin for the guard; Joaquina Solanona and others each take a kilo of soap, while others take sugar, condensed milk, rice. And to end the first day one finds an entry on counterfoil No. 25 an exchange of half a dozen eggs, presumably brought by an individualist in exchange for half a kilo of sugar.

    Naval at that time had 800 inhabitants and 176 families. There was not therefore on that first day excess or waste. And the counterfoils on subsequent days showed the same moderation of free consumption: two pairs of canvas shoes for two men, three kilos of soap, a bottle of lye: a kilo of chick peas: a kilo of sugar; 150 grammes of lamb's meat, "for a sick person" is the comment as if to explain the reason for requesting this luxury food, a litre of oil, sewing thread, then two kilos of bread, three litres of wine (special): a kilo of pasta; and again more soap, and more lye, and again more soap. (4) Each of these articles was asked for by different people and entered on separate counterfoils.

    Such was the most simple procedure for control adopted by Naval and other villages in the early days. But it was further simplified later. For on December 1st of the same year, the book of counterfoils was replaced by a booklet without counterfoils which was distributed to each family. And for the family, whose booklet we picked at random, purchases of groceries and meat amounted to 107.30 pesetas in December, 79.20 pesetas IN January, 68.85 pesetas in February, 90.80 pesetas in March, 83.00 pesetas in April. A separate account was kept for haberdashery, clothing and shoes.

    But behind that primary control, in all its simplicity, one found a more strict and complicated accountancy. The following details are taken from the notes we made on consulting the account books of the general control and from the documents we have examined or have kept.

    Firstly an account book where are entered daily outgoings and incomings, purchases and sales of all products without exceptions. Then the Large Book in which are to be found all the transactions on a daily basis for the respective sections specially established. And another book dealing with the slaughter of animals with the date, details of the animals, number, place of origin, weight, quality, quantity of meat held for the sick and quantity delivered to the butcher.

    In a small separate account book is entered what is supplied to the collectivists "para vicios" ("for vices") as the writer, who must have been a bit of a puritan, puts it with relish, the "vicios" were tobacco for the men, a few toilet products for the women, sweets for the children . . . The men had two pesetas a week, women one peseta and children fifty cents. This account book had a counterpart in which were entered the accounts of the two village cafes where one could obtain lemonade, a glass of wine-one only-soda water or a "coffee" made from roasted barley.

    I was then shown the account book dealing with the two lorries . which the Collective had purchased and the account of expenses incurred for them (petrol, tyres, repairs, etc.). There was also an account book for the sale of pottery made locally and sold throughout the region. Then a separate receipt book for sales of salt locally obtained. Finally the Expenses book in which were entered the total expenses incurred by each family.

    An accurate accountancy, though improvised by men who had never kept accounts in their lives.

    So far as distribution was concerned, whatever the form or method adopted, the organising initiative was appearing all the time. In hundreds of villages, libretas de consumo (consumer books) in different sizes and colours were issued. Ration tables were appended, for one had to ration not only in the event of a reduction in the reserves and perhaps in production, but because it was also necessary to send food supplies to the front and the towns, which only too often appeared not to appreciate the gravity of the situation. Here then is a libreta issued in Calanda (province of Teruel). It is on green paper and a rather large format (22 cm x 13 cm). It covers the period from March 1, 1937 to February 2, 1938 and each page covers a week. The first column lists the products that the holder or his family may obtain, from meat to lye, including grocery products, preserves (in Aragon this meant generally tomatoes and sardines), dry vegetables, furniture, material and even perfumery. Altogether 27 items. Alongside the list are columns for each day of the week where the value of purchases reckoned in pesetas is entered. The weekly total can be easily obtained and auditing carried out.

    The libreta for Fraga is smaller (15 cm x 10 cm) and in the i first column are printed the days of the month from 1st to 31st, and along the top is a list of fourteen products, with their corresponding columns, that it was thought necessary to ration (on the basis of local production, existing reserves and commitments to the militia or the nearby fronts). The libreta for Ontinena (in this case called libreta de credito) was of the same size as that for Fraga. But there were no specific dates nor a list of available products. The corresponding columns were completed at the time of purchase. The libreta for Granollers (in the province of Barcelona), was based on a different concept. Produced by the municipal Council, it had eight thin sheets per week and these were divided into perforated coupons on which were indicated the quantity of wine, eggs, sugar, potatoes, butcher's meat, poultry (boiling fowl or rabbit), salt cod or pork meat which each family was entitled to buy (calculated on the composition of the family) and on which days, which was specially indicated on the basis of the established organisation for food supplies

    Thus there were in Catalonia and especially in Aragon some 250, perhaps more, libretas all with a similar concept but of different forms. But there were other forms of food rationing and control. All this varied according to the available resources. existing reserves and the approach to the problems. In the town of Barbastro, the second most important in the province of Huesca a rations table was established without libreta, without national or local money.

    Bread was not rationed; wine was, sometimes; oil also but on average 30 litres was distributed per person per year. It was, as in many places, the only source of fat used in cooking.

    It should be added that children over the age of fourteen counted as adults.

    All these examples and others we could quote on this aspect of collectivist book-keeping demonstrate that there was never disorder. On the contrary, one could perhaps reproach the prime movers of the Collectives with having sometimes organised things too much. One has seen how in Naval only a minimal part of the expenditure was reserved for small extras, "para vicios" . This concern was to be found where rationing had reached a touching degree of austerity. Holas de fumadores (smokers' cards)which at the same time took into account a human weakness and put a brake on excesses, were issued and distributed in many Collectives, as well as vales or consumer vouchers entitling the holder to a cup of grilled barley "coffee". In Ontinena for instance each Collectivist received a card for ten drinks, excluding alcohol, which was punched at each tasting, and if he invited a friend to "have one" he would simply have one "coffee" or lemonade less that week.

    Wherever strict rationing and official money were eschewed, a local money replaced them. Villages which did so had vouchers with their name and 1, 2, 5 or 10 pesetas, sometimes even with 25 or 50 centimes overprinted, and this fiduciary currency was, locally of course, as sound as the official peseta guaranteed by the Valencia government. It even had the advantage of not losing its value.

    Nevertheless, it must also be recognised that it could only be used at a local level. This did not escape the notice of those who, took the initiative for social reconstruction. Nor, for that matter of those inhabitants wishing to travel. In such cases the Comite of the Collective supplied the necessary pesetas to allow the person to travel to parts where official money was law. (5) But to bring to an end the multitude of local currencies, the congress, of the Aragon Collectives, which we summarised in an early chapter, had unanimously agreed to completely abolish their use and to establish an egalitarian rationing system for all the Aragon Collectives.

    Consequently they produced a family rations book valid for everybody. This libreta which was dated from April 1, 1937 to December 31, by the week, listed 21 articles and groups of articles which, incidentally, give one an idea of the sobriety of the life of a Spanish peasant (and which had been redoubled by the exigencies of the war). They were, in the order in which they were printed: bread, wine, meat, oil, chick peas, beans, rice, pasta, sausages, sausage, blood sausage, fatty pork, various preserves (not specified), sugar, chocolate, tinned tomatoes, potatoes, milk, lentils, olives, lye, soap, hardware, household articles, haberdashery, footwear.

    The Communist attack which took place shortly afterwards was to prevent the general application of this project. Having to retire within themselves, greatly reduced in numbers by the destruction they had suffered, the Collectives were, as a result, condemned to a precarious existence.

    One can, nevertheless, come to the following conclusions: for the problem of distribution, which from certain points of view was greater than that of production itself, the Collectives demonstrated an innovatory spirit which by the multiplicity of its facets and its practical commonsense, compels our admiration. The collective genius of the rank and file militants succeeded in solving problems which a centralised governmental organisation would have neither been able nor known how to solve. If the pragmatic methods to which they had to have recourse may appear to be insufficient, and sometimes unsound in view of some contradictions which one observes here and there, the development tending to eliminate these contradictions was taking place rapidly (in eight months, or less, depending on the cases, structural resolutions had been taken) and progress was being rapidly made towards unifying and decisive improvements. During that time, in the part of the country where the official money ruled, the peseta was continually being devalued because of the inability of the government to hold down prices, and speculation was getting under way and growing.

    During my stay in Mas de las Matas I asked the principal organisers of the Collective (youngsters inspired by idealism, intelligence and faith) for exact figures on the livestock which I had been told had increased in the Collective. They supplied the figures which I am transcribing from the original:


    Pigs for slaughter: 570

    Piglets: 99


    Milk Cows: 24

    Rearing Calves: 61

    Sheep: 708

    Lambs for slaughter: 471

    Young ewes for breeding next year: 471

    Goats: 164

    Kids: 116

    Year old goats: 270

    Consumption of meat during the month of April: 194 lambs, 50 sheep, 16 first quality, and 18 kids.

    Mas de las Matas, May 5, 1937.

    The Collective Comite.

    One could not be more precise and I am certain that no mayor in a French or German Commune could provide in so short a time such detailed returns. Well, in the 1,600 or so agrarian or mainly agrarian Collectives (half of which included the whole village) in Spain at that time the same precise book-keeping was maintained day by day. And if there were exceptions unknown to us, they were exceptions that proved the general rule.

    We found the same care for good organisation in other aspects of economic life seen on a much larger scale. Thus we asked the local Comite of d'Aangues, head village of the canton of the same name, in the province of Huesca, to explain to us the method used for the movement and the control of exchanges in the locality and for the canton with other zones in Aragon as well as in Catalonia. Our curiosity was satisfied with the following document:


    Deliveries made by our cantonal Federation of different products sent as barter to the cantonal Federation of Granollers:


    Value in pesetas

    3 April

    13,300 kilos of grain @ 0.53


    10 April

    22,050 kilos of grain @ 0.53


    14 April

    13,300 kilos of grain @ 0.53


    17 April

    Diff. o£ 25k on previous delivery


    17 April

    2 pigs @ 60 pesetas each


    Total 25,917.75

    Deliveries made by the canton of Granollers to our cantonal Federation:

    3 April

    192 store pigs @ 60 pesetas


    10 April

    214 store pigs @ 60 pesetas


    10 April

    Sum received in pesetas









    Owing to Granollers


    We asked the administrative Comite of the Collective of Albalate de Cinca for as detailed an account as possible on the whole organisation. Our comrades replied as follows:

    "Our Collective comprises 113 families and 470 inhabitants of all ages. Three hundred can work. There are eight groups for work on the land and 25 people work in other, non agricultural trades. All the population belongs to the Collective.

    "We have 2,900 hectares of irrigated land and 800 of dry land. The last harvest amounted to 696 quintals of wheat, 20 quintals of barley, 30 of oats, 161 quintals of potatoes, 40 hectolitres of broad beans and a similar quantity of maize. We planted 90 hectares of sugar beet and lucerne, which is undoubtedly the most productive crop, gave an average return of 25 quintals a hectare on the 200 cultivated. Increases in production were 15% for wheat, barley and oats, 25% for maize, potatoes and vegetables.

    The Collective owns 13 draught oxen, 45 milk cows, 48 heifers, 57 calves, 900 sheep and breeding ewes, 300 lambs, 100 sheep for slaughter, and 200 pigs."

    The informants ended with the following:

    "Since in Albalate we can harvest large quantities of lucerne and dispose of more meadows, these resources will be put to use to increase the number of farms and production; as to consumption, everyone belongs to the Collective; everyone is free to work as he wishes, individually or in small groups or in the Collective; but all production is taken over by the local Comite to meet the exigencies of the war and the Revolution.

    "P.S. Included in the 300 people capable of working we have included women who represent half the total and are employed on the harvesting of lucerne and for hoeing the sugar beet."

    Let us look a little more closely at what we will call the "solidary book-keeping" at the level of the Federation of Aragon Collectives and of all the Collectives in the other regions. It had been classified at the plenum which took place in Caspe on April 25, 1937, three months after the congress where the Regional Federation had been constituted. Among other new resolutions, the delegates rejected the offer made by the Minister of Agriculture of a financial loan which could have helped the Collectives to solve certain difficulties arising from the retention of the peseta, and from the fact that they did not accept barter except with other Collectives or Syndicates belonging to the U.G.T. or the C.N.T. All relations with private business, "individualists" or the State were absolutely banished.

    The application of these principles brought with it the need to know exactly what resources were available so as not only to engage in barter but also for mutual aid on a permanent footing. Thus, shortly after the April plenum, on the basis of questionnaires sent out wherever necessary, the following figures were available for a first group of 77 village Collectives or collectivised villages which were producers of wheat. Surplus wheat available amounted to 17,180 quintals; but on the other hand other villages suffered from a shortage amounting to 1,653 quintals, so after making up the deficiencies to these villages a balance of 15,520 quintals remained for disposal.

    For oil the calculations referred to the same group of 77 villages which had a production of 4,053 quintals. But elsewhere there would be a deficit of 1,637 quintals because of the vagaries of the climate. So after making good the deficit there remained 2,415 quintals for barter (machinery, clothing, etc.). The villages that benefited from this solidary aid, which was quickly organised no longer simply at cantonal level (as we saw in the case of Mas de las Matas) but at regional level, had their current accounts and paid with other goods, calculated in peseta values, when they could. But this practice of solidarity rapidly went beyond the narrow framework of the canton and took place through the intermediary of cantonal Comites, at an entirely regional level. (6)

    I would add a detail which demonstrates with what lucid stubbornness the collectivist organisation defended its autonomy and above all its liberty against the non-collectivist organisms. We have pointed out that a Regional Council had been created in Aragon which constituted an independent political organism in order to prevent the government of Valencia from extending its powers over the region (it did so nevertheless by July-August 1937). That Council was headed by a majority of libertarians with a member of the Ascaso family, all of whom were more or less well-known militants, as its chairman. And it happened that that semi-governmental organisation wanted to semi-govern particularly in monopolising foreign commerce, reserving to itself the profits from the operations. But the Federation bluntly refused to accede to this intention, declaring that it was prepared, if necessary, to pay a tax so that the Aragon Council could discharge its responsibilities, but that the economy rested on the Collectives and that it was not prepared to give up its control.

    Footnotes to Chapter 8

    [1] Individualist anarchism never made headway.

    [2] Spain was one of the countries in Europe with the largest gold reserves, it was estimated that the State Bank had about 3,000m. pesetas (gold).

    [3] The fact that a man should have gone to collect those articles and that others went on doing so were indications of an instant revolution in customs. What Spanish male would have previously done the shopping at the grocer's and also bought a little girl's dress?

    [4] Soap was, as one can see, one of the articles most in demand. This concern for cleanliness speaks volumes.

    [5] This was and still is practised in the Israeli kibbutzim which otherwise cannot, on many points, be compared with the Spanish Collectives, for one finds in them norms and an organisation almost conventual, which reminds one of the communities advocated by a host of reformers of the 19th Century, and in which individual freedom is altogether overlooked.

    [6] At that time, the Caspe Comite had sent a circular to all villages and Collectives in order to carry out a general survey on the number of fruiting trees (pears, apples, nuts, olives, vines, almonds, etc.), on the numbers of head of animals (donkeys, mules, horses, sheep, cattle, pigs, goats) and on the availability of manpower and of the area of suitable land available, proportions of irrigated and dry lands. Thus a general organisation was being prepared at the level of the whole region.



    There was, in the organisation set in motion by the Spanish Revolution and by the libertarian movement, which was its mainspring, a structuring from the bottom to the top, which corresponds to a real federation and true democracy. It is true that deviations can occur at the top and at all levels; that authoritarian individuals can transform, or seek to transform, delegation into intangible authoritarian power. And nobody can affirm that this danger will never arise. But the situation was quite different from what it is or would be in a State apparatus. In the State which Marx, when he was seeking to court favour with the Paris Communards who had escaped the slaughter, so as to win them over to his cause, called a "parasitic superstructure" of society men installed in positions of command are inaccessible to the people. They can legislate, take decisions, give orders, make the choice for everybody without consulting those who will have to undergo the consequences of their decisions: they are the masters. The freedom which they apply is their freedom to do things in the way they want, thanks to the apparatus of law, rules and repression that they control, and at the end of which there are the prisons, penal settlements, concentration camps and executions. The U.S.S.R. and the satellite countries are tragic examples of this.

    The non-Statist system does not allow these deviations because the controlling and coordinating Comites, clearly indispensable, do not go outside the organisation that has chosen them, they remain in their midst, always controllable by and accessible to the members. If any individuals contradict by their actions their mandates, it is possible to call them to order, to reprimand them, to replace them. It is only by and in such a system that the "majority lays down the law''.

    Since 1870 this system had been adopted by the Spanish libertarians, who, in their determination that the mass of members should pronounce and decide for themselves as often as possible on the problems that arose as well as on the running of activities were following the ideas of Proudhon and Bakunin.

    Did this mean that there were no minorities, no individuals; exerting an often decisive influence on the assembly, or in the daily life of the Syndicates, Collectives, Federations? To answer in the affirmative would be to lie and would deceive nobody. As everywhere and always, there were in those organisms militants who were better prepared, who were the first to stand in the breach, and to preach by example, risking their own skins, and who, driven by the spirit of devotion and sacrifice, were better informed on the problems, and found solutions to them more readily. The history of mankind concedes a worthy place to the minorities who have assumed the responsibility for the happiness of their contemporaries and the progress of the species. But the libertarian minority assumed that role according to anti-authoritarian principles, and by opposing the domination of man by man.

    To emancipate the people it is first of all necessary to teach them, to push them to think and to want. The sizeable and enthusiastic libertarian minority sought therefore, as we have seen, to teach the masses to do without leaders and masters and to that end were always communicating information to them, educating them, accustoming them to understand the problems affecting them either directly or indirectly, to seek and to find satisfactory solutions. The syndical assemblies were the expression and the practice of libertarian democracy, a democracy having nothing in common with the democracy of Athens where the citizens discussed and disputed for days on end on the Agora; where factions, clan rivalries, ambitions, personalities conflicted, where, in view of the social inequalities precious time was lost in interminable wrangles. Here a modern Aristophenes would have had no reason to write the equivalent of The Clouds.

    Normally those periodic meetings would not last more than a few hours. They dealt with concrete, precise subjects concretely and precisely. And all who had something to say could express themselves. The Comite presented the new problems that had arisen since the previous assembly, the results obtained by the application of such and such a resolution on the volume of production, the increase or decrease of any particular speciality, relations with other syndicates, production returns from the various workshops or factories. All this was the subject of reports and discussion. Then the assembly would nominate the commissions, the members of these commissions discussed between themselves what solutions to adopt, if there was disagreement, a majority report and a minority report would be prepared.

    This took place in all the syndicates throughout Spain, in all trades and all industries, in assemblies which, in Barcelona, from the very beginnings of our movement brought together hundreds or thousands of workers depending on the strength of the organisations. So much so that the awareness of the duties, responsibilities of each spread all the time to a determining and decisive degree.


    The practice of this democracy also extended to the agricultural regions. We have seen how, from the beginning of the Civil War and of the Revolution the decision to nominate a local management Comite for the villages was taken by general meetings of the inhabitants of villages, how the delegates in the different essential tasks which demanded an indispensable coordination of activities were proposed and elected by the whole assembled population. But it is worth adding and underlining that in all the collectivised villages and all the partially collectivised villages, in the 400 Collectives in Aragon, in the 900 in the Levante region, in the 300 in the Castilian region, to mention only the large groupings which comprised at least 60% of "¹republican" Spain's agriculture, the population was called together weekly, fortnightly or monthly and kept fully informed of everything concerning the commonweal.

    This writer was present at a number of these assemblies in Aragon, where the reports on the various questions making up the agenda allowed the inhabitants to know, to so understand, and to feel so mentally integrated in society, to so participate in the management of public affairs, in the responsibilities, that the recriminations, the tensions which always occur when the power of decision is entrusted to a few individuals, be they democratically elected without the possibility of objecting, did not happen there. The assemblies were public, the objections, the proposals publicly discussed, everybody being free, as in the syndical assemblies, to participate in the discussions, to criticise, propose, etc. Democracy extended to the whole of social life. In most cases even the individualists could take part in the deliberations. They were given the same hearing as the collectivists.

    This principle and practice were extended to the discussions in the municipal Councils in the small towns and even in sizeable ones such as Villanueva y Geltru, Castellon de la Plana, Gerona, Alicante or Alcoy. We have seen that when, because of the exigencies of war, our comrades had joined these Councils, as a minority, they nevertheless very often exercised an influence far greater than their numerical strength, firstly because they secured the agreement of the other parties, who could not easily refuse, that discussions should be open to the public. Ordinary people with free time made a point of attending them. And often social reforms o£ immediate value (building of schools, nurseries, children's playgrounds, decent conditions for the old) were snatched from the political majority which would not have been granted if the discussions had taken place behind closed doors.

    Both at the individual and local levels, we think these different aspects of libertarian democracy ushered in a new civilisation. To give a more exact idea of what is meant, we will observe the unfolding of a village assembly in Tamarite de Litera, in the province of Huesca, at which the writer was present.


    The pregonero (public crier) presents himself at the cross roads, in the square and at the busiest corners of the village. He blows three times on his small horn with which he always announces his presence, then in a slow, light tenor voice which, for some reason I do not know, is used by all pregoneros in Aragon, he reads, clipping the words and sentences somewhat at random, from a paper on which is written that the members of the Collective are invited by the administrative Commission to attend the general assembly which will take place that same evening at 9 o'clock.

    At 9.30 p.m. the local cinema is half full. At 10 p.m. it is packed. There are about 600 people including some 100 women, girls and a few children.

    While waiting for the opening of the meeting, everybody is talking without shouting in spite of the expansive temperament of the inhabitants of that region. In the end the secretary of the Collective mounts the platform alone. Silence falls and the secretary immediately proposes the adoption of necessary arrangements:

    "We must," he says, "nominate a secretariat for the meeting." Immediately one of those present asks to speak "on a point of order".

    "There are some individualists in the hall. They are enemies of the Collective. They have no business being here, we must turn them out. What's more, it is imperative that women should remain silent during the discussion, otherwise they will have to be removed as well."

    Some of those present seem to be in agreement with the double proposal, others clearly have doubts. The secretary replies that in his opinion the individualists should be allowed to remain and even take part in the discussions. "We have nothing to hide and it is by seeing how we act that they will end by being convinced." As to the talkative women they are peasant women who had never attended such discussions before and who also have a right to speak they will surely keep quiet and there will be no need to have recourse to such extreme measures. The assembly approves and the individualists remain.

    Then the secretariat is nominated, consisting of comrades who are elected in turn. Then the chairman speaks. He is, naturally, one of the most active militants, and one of the best informed on the problems included in the agenda. He starts by dealing exhaustively with the reason for the Commission calling this extraordinary assembly. Though intelligent, he is no speaker, but makes a great effort to express himself with the utmost clarity, and succeeds.

    First question: Four comrades on the Commission must be replaced because they are not carrying out their tasks satisfactorily, not through any bad will on their part, but because they lack the necessary background. Furthermore, there is a certain amount of discontent with the delegate dealing with food supplies. He is very able but has a difficult personality and his manner is too brusque, which results in unpleasant confrontations, particularly in inter-regional relations; it would perhaps be better if in future he dealt with the barter arrangements with more distant regions where individual contacts are not so important. The delegate for industry and commerce could look after distribution at local level, and the relations which this involves with members of the Collective.

    The assembly accepts, without unnecessary discussion, the changes recommended and nominates successors. Then the delegate for food supplies has his duties limited in one direction and extended in another.

    Another question which is on the agenda: A fairly large group of members of the Collective have just recently withdrawn from it to return to individualist activities. But the Collective which has taken over non-agricultural local production possesses all the bakehouses for breadmaking and the individualists' group claims one.

    Faces are serious, concentrated, tense. Women make their comments without raising their voices. A collectivist has the floor:

    "We must lend them a bakehouse for a fortnight or a month to give them time to build one for themselves."

    "No," replies another, "they should have remained with us. Since they have left us, let them get on with it!"

    A third declares that there are already too many bakehouses in the village and one must not build any more. Many other members expressed themselves with that economy of words which is a characteristic of the Aragonese peasants. When nobody else wishes to speak then the chairman expresses his opinion.

    In the first place there is the problem of the smooth running of the economy. To construct another bakehouse is to waste material needed for other uses; it will in due course involve an expense for wood and electricity, which must be avoided, for the repercussions of bad management do not rebound only on the individualists but also on the whole national economy. Now, we must show that we can do better than the capitalists. This is why, instead of increasing the number of bakehouses being used we must even reduce them. Let us therefore make the bread for ourselves and for the individualists. But they will supply us with the amount of flour required to make the amount of bread they need and there will be the same quality of bread for all of us. Besides, we must not refuse bread to the individualists for, in spite of their error they must be in a position to eat, and in a situation in which the present roles were to be reversed, we would be happy if our adversaries did not prevent the collectivists from feeding themselves.

    The chairman has convinced the assembly, which, following the comments of some collectivists, approves without dissentients. The next question concerns the pros and cons of rationing bread. The high family wages paid by the Collective allows them to buy large quantities, which encourages some abuse, and even sometimes inequalities which the Revolution cannot permit. Consequently it is necessary to establish a top limit for consumption to ensure that every family can obtain the quantities it needs but without there being waste.

    The assembly accepts rationing, but then a juridical problem is posed: who will apply the measures decided upon, the municipal Council or the Collective? The former covers the whole population; the individualists who represent an eighth, and the Collectivists. If the municipal Council takes charge, rationing will have to be established for everybody. If it's the Collective, the individualists will not consider themselves obliged to respect it. Many views are put forward which allow for an assessment of the powers of the two organisations. And it is decided to ask first the municipal Council to undertake the task. If it does not accept, the Collective will at least within the limits of its possibilities.

    But the withdrawal of the individualists has posed another problem. Many of them have left their old parents on the hands of the Collective, while at the same time setting themselves up on the land which formerly belonged to the old folk they have now abandoned. Those dispossessed have been taken care of by the Collective because they are old and unable to work, but the behaviour of those individualists is unacceptable. What action can be taken?

    The chairman, who has outlined the dispute, makes it quite clear from the start that there is no question of expelling the old folk. In any event they will be assisted, but their children must take back their parents or forfeit their land. Such is his opinion.

    A number of members of the assembly take part in an orderly manner throughout. One suggests that the irresponsible sons should be deprived of half their harvest. Another repeats that it would be a shame to oblige these old folk to leave the Collective: anything must be considered but that. They return to the suggestion made by the chairman: either the individualists take their parents to live with them or they will have no land and solidarity of any kind will be withheld from them. The moral issue is uppermost. The proposal is approved.

    Every time a solution is approved and before another is taken up, the assembly comments, giving free expression to its thoughts. Nevertheless the general conversation is not noisy, and barely lasts a minute.

    Now the question to be discussed concerns the potteries which in normal times were a source of revenue as they supplied many villages in the region and even some small towns with jugs, porous water coolers and cantaros (earthenware pitchers). They also manufactured tiles and bricks there. But as there was a shortage of manpower in the fields because of the mobilisation for the front, the potters were sent there and abandoned the potteries; others too were at the front. Thus production had fallen off sharply. What should be done?

    One man suggests that the potters should work a ten hour day instead of eight; another that one should increase the manpower in the potteries; a solution supported by a third speaker who adds that they should try to bring in skilled men from other regions. He also suggests that the tile factory which had been closed as a result of the current situation, should be reopened.

    He is given the reply that we are in a war situation and that one can do very well without tiles. Laughter from the assembly, which approves, and as someone asks why cannot the skilled workers produce this year as much as in the previous year, the secretary of the Collective, a former mayor and who is well informed on these matters, explains that before many cantons obtained their supplies from Huesca and since this town is now in Francoist hands, they get their supplies from Tamarite. One must get the potters to return to their craft and in addition we must put an appeal in our Press for skilled workers from other regions to come and live here. Proposal accepted.

    They have come to the end of the agenda, and move on to "any other business". One of the members points out that in Tamarite there is an alpagatero (a canvas shoe maker) who is good at his job. One could organise a workshop where the women could go and work instead of wasting their time gossiping in the street. The women laugh, but the proposal is accepted. A man of between 50 and 60 points out that the little girls of the village are not serious, since they prefer to go out instead of going to work in the workshop specially set up for them to learn dressmaking. As a solution to the problem he suggests that a good dressmaker be selected with the task of training them, but that classes should be held in a church without windows.

    The door would be bolted, and the little girls not allowed out during the working hours. Everybody laughs, the parties concerned more than the others.

    Many collectivists express their views in turn, and it is decided that in every workshop a woman delegate shall supervise the apprentices. Those who do not attend on two consecutive occasions without good cause will be dismissed. But the man who would have them kept under lock and key was implacable; he suggests quite seriously, or so it seemed, that to punish them when their work was unsatisfactory the young girls should be made to fast for two or three days. To that there is a general roar of laughter.

    New problem: The nomination of a new hospital director (and we learn that the director is a woman, which is fairly unusual). This hospital has been converted into an Old People's Home, but they are now being treated at home by a doctor who joined the Collective and the cantonal hospital is at their disposal for all urgent cases or serious illnesses. This again poses a problem of jurisdiction. It is a general hospital. It is a question of ascertaining whether or not it comes under the municipal Council reconstituted following the publication of the decree emanating from the Valencia government. If it does, the hospital is everybody's responsibility, collectivists and individualists, and the latter must also share in the expenses. So far the Collective have paid everything, and its enemies have take advantage of its bounty. A matter for further study.

    Following the examination of questions of less importance the chairman closes the session. The assembly has lasted 21 hours. Most of those who took part were peasants from the village or its environs, accustomed to rise early, and who at that time of the year had worked twelve or fourteen hours.

    Yet no one left before the end of the discussions, not even those who had remained standing as there were not enough seats to go round. No woman or child had gone to sleep. Eyes had remained wide open, and faces as wide awake. One read on them, at the end, as much, often amused, interest as one had observed at the beginning. And the chairman, at the same time paternal, fraternal, and the teacher, had to insist to prevent a much longer agenda.

    The final resolution adopted concerned the frequency of assemblies which from being held monthly were to take place weekly.

    And the collectivists made their different ways home to bed commenting on the discussions and resolutions adopted as they went. Some lived a fair distance away and travelled either on foot or on bicycles.



    In earlier chapters we have sought to introduce, within our space limitations, as many documents, or the most important sections of rules and Statutes which illustrated the essential principles on which the agrarian Collectives were founded and organised. We now add, separated from those chapters so as to avoid too many repetitions, other texts which, such as those already reproduced partially or in full, confirm the spirit, at the same time constructive and humanist, which guided the Spanish libertarian organisers in their historic task.

    In order to study and know about this phase in human history this has for us the same importance as have the charters of the Communes and the towns of the Middle Ages. These texts remain for the future, factors to be appraised, and in which those who will continue the struggle for a more equitable and rational society may find inspiration. Perhaps by examining them under a microscope, a critical mind could put forward some objections of secondary importance. But in spite of any clumsiness in drafting, we are convinced that never, so far, has a revolution shown such a precise constructive spirit, such clear radical concepts, and such a noble social ethic. Considered in their essentials, one can state that the ends pursued, the methods outlined and adopted, constitute a doctrine of socialism which "fits" life and which can lead men to a better future charged with real justice and true brotherhood.


    Article 1. With the title of Collective and cooperative, there has been set up in Tamarite on October l, 1936 a Collective composed of peasants and industrial workers with the aim of exploiting collectively the agricultural properties and industrial enterprises formerly belonging to factious elements who participated directly or indirectly in the fascist uprising in Spain and whose goods thus pass to the Collective. Also included in this action of collective exploitation are the goods of collectivists and of property owners or industrial enterprises which have remained loyal and in agreement with the revolutionary movement, as well as the goods of those who, without being fascists, do not properly farm their land or do not use their own labour, or have stopped cultivating their land.

    Art. 2. Our Collective composed of, as we have already said, peasants and industrial workers, will be guided by humane sentiments and the noblest social principles.

    Art. 3. The ends aimed at by the constitution of this Collective shall be: the improvement of the social and economic condition of the mass of peasants and industrial workers who have always struggled for the ideas of social recognition both before the fascist uprising and during the revolution.


    Art. 4. The assets of the Collective shall consist of all properties, urban, rural as well as of the goods expropriated from fascist elements, and the goods of the Collective itself and of those who, without being fascist, do not properly cultivate their land' by their own efforts.

    Art. 5. In no case will the assets of the Collective be broken up, I whether they come from fascists or from voluntary members. Land will be cultivated in common by a single community which will divide into three or more sections; each section or delineated zone will dispose of all the equipment needed for agricultural work, working animals tools; each group will nominate its technical delegates to ensure the best use of the expropriated estates.

    (a) As already stated, the workers will be divided into three sections, or more, according to individual aptitudes; some to attend to the olive trees and the various fruit trees, others for harvesting lucerne and cereals, others for land work with spade or hoe, others to handle the mules, others on minor tasks; by this organisation we shall eliminate weak points and shortcomings of which we are only too well aware.

    (b) Every collectivist is authorised to belong to whichever section he wishes and will then be able to change domicile with his family; all will have the obligation to carry out the instructions of the responsible delegates who will have decided at preliminary meetings on the work to be done; if anyone does not apply the agreements made in those meetings the administrative Commission will be informed by the responsible delegate who will decide on the expulsion of the comrade or comrades who have adopted that position.

    (c) The groups previously constituted will have the right to carry on, according to the already established constitution.

    (d) All those who own 3 hectares of irrigated land as well as of dry land will be free to join the Collective or to be individualists, but they will be allowed to cultivate their land only by their own efforts: however both collectivists and individualists will have to help in the ways asked of them by the community, by bringing their working animals as well as their personal effort. Those possessing less than 31 hectares will have to join the Collective.

    (e) Each group as well as each collectivist will receive from the management commission a book in which will be entered income and outgoings.

    Art. 6. With a view to ensuring the best administration possible, an inventory of all the assets of the Collective will be prepared in which all the different parcels of land, other property and goods, etc., will appear with a mention of their fascist origin.

    Art. 7. As the products of communal enterprise are harvested they will be stored in places chosen by the Collective, the sharing out or private warehousing not being authorised.

    Art. 8. On land which by its situation or where the number "of inhabitants provides favourable conditions, large farming units will be set up.

    Art. 9. Those who will apply to join the Collective will have to bring to it all their goods, thus ceasing to be individualists and becoming members of, and in solidarity with, the Collective.

    Art. 10. In order to know the position of each Collective at all times each section will have to keep a permanent account of production and consumption.

    Art. 11. Fascist elements who were to consciously sabotage the work and be a liability on the Collective will have to be expelled for we well know that if the situation were to change, these elements would become not only our persecutors but even of the members of our families.


    Art. 12. The Collective puts at the service of collectivists the general consumers' cooperative which deal with all needs: food, drinks, heating, clothing; equally it assures medical and pharmaceutical services and everything concerning collective needs and development; it also disposes of four oil crushers, one flour mill, a soap factory (in conjunction with oil crushers for the production of lower grade oil), a lye factory, three lime kilns, three for ceramics and bricks, and one electricity generator.

    Art. 13. Every collectivist has the right to rear pigs, hens, turkeys, geese, rabbits, where he lives, in order to assure a surplus. 10% of the poultry and rabbits will be handed over to the collectivist units, and any surplus eggs will be passed to the cooperative in order to supply those workers engaged in industrial work and all those who may need them until such time as the new collective units can produce them for themselves.

    Art. 14. All collectivists working in industry and all those who, not being agricultural workers, cannot cultivate vegetables will receive supplies for themselves and their families free of charge.

    Art. 15. The Collective guarantees to the head of each family a weekly wage in local money. The scale of payments in local money is as follows:

    A young couple ... ... ... ... ... 25.00 pesetas

    An old couple ... ... ... ... ... 21.00 pesetas

    Three adults ... ... ... ... ... ... 33.00 pesetas

    For each additional person ... ... ... 1.00 peseta per day

    For each minor ... ... ... ... ... 0.70 peseta per day

    For two single women ... ... ... ... 20.00 pesetas per week

    For a single man ... ... ... ... ... 18.00 pesetas per week

    For a single woman ... ... ... ... 14.00 pesetas per week

    For those taking their meals at the Collective's canteen ... ... ... 9.00 pesetas

    These figures can be modified up or down depending on circumstances, and general examination by the assembly of collectivists.

    Art. 16. All members of the Collective without sex discrimination, will have to work from the age of fourteen to sixty except in cases of physical disability medically confirmed; in such cases work will be voluntary and not obligatory.

    Art. 17. Expenses for medical treatment, medicaments, light and shelter are borne by the Collective, as well as supplies of edible oil for the whole year.

    Art. 18. When a member of the Collective takes a companion, that is to say, wishes to start a new family, the Collective guarantees her material needs.

    Art. 19. When for valid reasons or unavoidable circumstances a collectivist is obliged to go and live elsewhere, the Collective will assume responsibility for the expenses involved in the move.

    Art. 20. Every collectivist comrade will have the inalienable right of withdrawing from the Collective whenever he wishes to do so; but 15% of the value of the assets that he brought on joining will be retained.

    Art. 21. The administrative Commission will consist of one delegate for each section or zone; the delegates will decide among themselves the position and functions of each. The nomination of the delegates and the tasks of the various sections of the Collective will take place at a general Assembly of Collectivists; the duration of these functions will not be limited; they will end at the request of the delegates themselves, and when the Assembly expresses itself in these terms.


    The undersigned gathered together in general Assembly and after having defined collectivist norms, freely decide to organise a Collective and to join it. And they approve the following bases to ensure its economic development.

    1. Every inhabitant in Salas Altas, whatever his condition and without distinction of workers' organisation or party, may belong to the Collective.

    2. The members of the Collective will nominate a Comite consisting of a chairman, vice-chairman, a secretary, an accountant, a treasurer, and as many members as deemed necessary, according to the tasks to be dealt with.

    3. This Comite will have a purely administrative character and will explain its activities before the assemblies of collectivists who will be able to approve of them or dismiss them if they have not carried out their mandate satisfactorily.

    4. Members will bring all their goods and chattels; land, cultivating tools, draught animals, money and various means of work.

    5. The collectivists will likewise bring their poultry with a view to establishing a large collective poultry unit to increase this valuable asset. This task will be undertaken by those to be chosen by the Assembly.

    6. Communal stables will be organised so that all draught animals can be brought together and attended by a competent staff. In this way drivers will work shorter hours than the time required for agricultural jobs or transport.

    7. Sheep will be made up into flocks, and the Collective will nominate shepherds to handle them and take them to the pastures. A skilled person will be chosen for slaughtering. He will decide which sheep should be killed.

    8. The produce of the land and groceries will be stored in collective warehouses to ensure better supervision.

    9. One or more cooperatives will be constituted; these will secure the products that have to be obtained by barter; they kill distribute consumer goods on presentation of a producer's took, and on the basis of the scales established by the Assembly.

    10. These scales can be modified upwards or downwards depending on the economic situation of the Collective.

    11. Nobody shall consume to excess. In exceptional cases such as in the case of the sick, the request will have to be supported by a doctor's certificate.

    12. The assembly will decide on the annual holidays which members of the Collective will take.

    13. The money available to the Collective will be used only to purchase goods in those regions where money still exists.

    14. In all branches of work (agriculture, stock rearing, mines) delegates may be re-elected; their instructions must be respected; where they were not the Collective would take the steps it deemed necessary.

    15. Over the age of fifteen all members of the Collective will have to work. The assembly will have to decide what young married women or people who are unfit to work, should do.

    16. Collectivists over the age of sixty are exempted from work; nevertheless if such is their wish and their physical condition permits it, they can undertake work that suits their physical condition in order to help the Collective.

    17. Anyone who without justification withdraws from the Collective, will have no rights over the collective assets.

    18. Resolutions will be passed on a majority vote of the assembly.

    19; Every member will receive a receipt for the assets brought by him on joining.

    20. The Assembly is sovereign and its agreements are law even if they modify the present Statutes.

    Such is the collectivist Statute which we undertake to implement. Salas Altas, December 7, 1936.


    "In Albalate de Cinca on January 28, 1937, almost all the inhabitants of the locality met in a general assembly under the chairmanship of Isidoro Castro Gil, chairman of the municipal Council. The secretary read the minutes of the previous meeting which were approved unanimously. Then one passed on to examine the Proposal presented by the Council, the text of which reads:

    "So long as present circumstances continue the local administration will be represented by the municipal Council, whoever may be the people comprising it.

    "As responsible body for local administration the Council proposes to establish family rationing authorising a maximum consumption per person per day. All expenses will be included in this sum except for those of a medical or pharmaceutical nature. Equally it proposes to fix a payment for those who do not produce foodstuffs, such as blacksmiths, joiners, carters, workers in the cooperative, the pharmacy and other activities which are useful to all of us, with the exception of the posts of members of the Council who must work without payment, which also exempts them from paying for what they obtain to live.

    "It also proposes that a workers' Centre be opened where coffee and wine will be served. A caretaker will have to be nominated for this.

    "The question of the Cooperative then followed. It was a question of how clothing would be distributed, especially warm clothing. Several comrades declared that those who had not yet paid their debts should not be supplied. Gabriel Sender Castro intervened to propose a satisfactory solution and recommended the distribution of underwear to all the inhabitants whether they had paid their debts or not, and that done one would firmly demand repayment of debts from those who could pay, by threatening them with not supplying warm clothing if they didn't. This tactic was adopted.

    "To various questions Tomas Almunia declared that instead of serving coffee, which was not indispensable, it would be better to save the money for three months and to spend it on a cineprojector with sound if possible. The chairman replied that they would immediately do their best to get both things done.

    "Felix Galindo proposed the nomination of controllers for the buying and selling operations and this was turned down. And the meeting was closed."


    (Bases approved by the local Assembly on Jan. 3, 1937)

    (After a prologue consisting of sentimental revolutionary references, the text comes to the point):

    "In view of what has been said, workers and peasants rising to the demands of the hour, founds its voluntary Collective on the following bases:

    1. Membership of the Collective is voluntary for all the inhabitants of the village, whatever may be their economic situation and so long as they accept the Statute now established.

    2. All members in agreement with this new social regime will bring all their assets to the Collective: land, implements, working animals, money and tools.

    3. As soon as circumstances warrant it, efforts will be made to build collective stables in order to house all animals suitable for working the land, the same will be done for cattle and sheep and skilled hands will be chosen for the task.

    4. Warehousing of all foodstuffs, groceries and agricultural products in collective stores to ensure adequate control; equally. Organisation of one or more cooperatives for the distribution of foodstuffs and different implements that will be required by the collectivists.

    5. The quantity of products distributed to the collectivists may increase or decrease, depending on the economic situation of the Collective.

    6. Work will be carried out by groups at the head of which there will be a responsible delegate. Efforts will be made to organise sections of carters and herdsmen and of workers with a trade, so that talented comrades can relieve each other in these tasks.

    7. All members of both sexes over the age of 15 will have to work for the Collective. Only people over sixty or incapacitated are exempted unless their physical condition allows them to undertake light work for the benefit of the Collective.

    8. The Collective withdraws completely from those who would wish to continue to live in an individualist regime; so much so that they will not be able to have recourse to them in any circumstances. They will work their lands themselves; all land that remains uncultivated in their hands will be taken over by the Collective.

    9. Any suspicion of exploitation of man by man is abolished; and consequently all forms of tenant farming, sharecropping or paid employment. This measure will be applied to all the inhabitants of the locality whatever their situation.

    10. The Assembly is sovereign and operates on a majority basis. It is at the Assemblies that decisions will be taken regarding members who might disturb the smooth running of the Collective."