Archive for the ‘5. The Friends of Durruti’ Category

by the Workers Solidarity Movement

The ‘Friends of Durruti’ appear in just about every book on the Spanish Civil War, especially in relation to the 1937 May Days in Barcelona. They get mentioned but we are told very little about their politics or activities. Some organisations, like the Workers Solidarity Movement, see their political stance as important to the tradition of revolutionary anarchism. Other anarchists, most notably sections of the syndicalist movement, condemn them for ‘flirting with Bolshevism/Leninism/Trotskyism’ or for ‘advocating an anarchist dictatorship’. So who were they, where did they come from, what did they say, and what did they do?

This book is probably the most detailed work about them in the English language. Unfortunately, it takes as its starting point that readers will be extremely knowledgeable about both anarchist ideas and the role of the anarchist movement in Spain. Without such knowledge the reader will find it impossible to understand what the author is writing about. Guillamón’s book reads as if it is a specialised academic paper, or a chapter which has been extracted from a much bigger work about Spain.



Preface to the First Edition (1983) by Daniel Guerin

George Fontenis’ study seems useful to me, indeed I would go so far as to say it is valuable, not only as it teaches a better understanding of the Spanish Revolution of 1936-7 but it also provides a more extensive interpretation of the notion of libertarian communism itself.

When using this phrase ‘libertarian communism’ it is certainly worthwhile to clearly distinguish it from two other versions which are endowed with the same name. To be specific; firstly the utopia, propagated by Kropotkin and his disciples, of a terrestrial paradise without money where, thanks to the abundance of resources, each and every person would be able to draw freely from the stockpile. Secondly the infantile idyll of a jumble of ‘free communes’, at the heart of the Spanish CNT before 1936, which arose from the thinking of Isaac Puente. This soft dream left Spanish anarcho-syndicalism extremely ill-prepared for the harsh realities of revolution and civil war on the eve of Franco’s putsch. Fontenis, although he does highlight certain positive aspects of the congress of Saragossa of 1936, seems to me to err on the side of those who appear removed from reality.

In the first part of his study, the author traces with precision the degeneration, the successive capitulation’s of the anarchist leaders of the CNT-FAI. However, perhaps he does not penetrate to the heart of the problem with sufficient conviction. To be precise, was traditional anarchism, idealistic and prone to splits, not destined to fail as soon as it found itself confronted by an implacable social struggle, for which it was not in the least way prepared?

Because it was not mainly infidelity to principles, human weakness, inexperience or naivety among the leaders, which led them astray, but rather it was a congenital incapacity to evade the traps of the rulers(which they put up with since they weren’t able to write them off with a stroke of a pen). As a consequence they were destined to get bogged down in ministerialism, to take shelter under the treacherous wing of ‘antifascist’ bourgeois democracy and finally to let themselves be dragged along by the stalinist counter-revolution.


Jaime Balius – In Self Defence: I demand an explanation

Jaime Balius’ rebuttal of accusations of Marxism, from the Kate Sharpley Library Bulletin. Jaime Balius was the secretary of the Friends of Durruti and one of the main writers for their paper

– – – – –

I will not repay defamatory comment in kind. But what I cannot keep mum about is that a legend of marxism has been woven about my person and I should like the record put straight. In Valencias Fragua Social it has been claimed that I am a marxist. This innuendo by Fragua Social has been taken up by other mouthpieces and it has been argued that our Group (Agrupacin) was a rag-bag of marxists and the like.

At a plenum of anarchist groups I had to bite my lips to stop myself from answering a comrade who was reminding folk that I came from a certain political sector. And I also resigned myself to hearing from the lips of another person present at the plenum that I was driven by spite. The same thing was said of me in Solidaridad Obrera some time ago. I paid no heed. Later, on the occasion of the appearance of a weekly run by E. Carb upon which I helped out as a sub-editor, the same charge was levelled against me. And on a number of occasions I have had to endure the same description being used with regard to me.

Let me ask the comrades who have resorted to this innuendo why they call me a marxist. Can it possibly be that I am a marxist because I am a steadfast enemy of the petit bourgeois political parties and of the whole rabble who have lined their own pockets while invoking the revolution and still are, even though torrents of blood are being shed on the fields of battle? Do they call me a marxist because I am against collaborationism and because I understand our position to be a source of strength only to our enemies? Am I called a marxist because I have been candid enough to write and bring to public attention what other comrades only dare say around the cafe table? Why hang this label on me?


by the Friends of Durruti Group


Overture to the Spanish Revolution

  • July 19th
  • May 3
  • Spain’s Independence

Collaboration and Class Struggle

Our Position

Our programme

  • I – Establishment of a Revolutionary Junta or National Defence Council.
  • II – All Economic Power to the Syndicates
  • III – Free Municipality

Towards a Fresh Revolution

Overture to the Spanish Revolution

Political rotation, which in Spain took the form of Constitutionalists and Absolutionists alternating in power (the clasico turno), collapsed beyond repair with a coup d’etat mounted in the capital of Catalonia by a drunken, cantankerous general, in the year 1923.

The dictatorship of Primo de Rivera is the direct outcome of politics pursued amid maladministration, monopolies, bureaucratic perks, rake-offs, concessions and a whole mass of profiteering operated with the blessing of officialdom.

The military reaction of 1923 was a direct result of one of the reasons why our country is impoverished, one which has absorbed nearly the whole national budget.

Spain’s colonial power spawned a rogue’s gallery of adventurers, mercenaries, professional politicians, and a cohort of dealers in cheap flesh.


by Conor McLoughlin (WSM)

THE WAR in Spain (1936-1939) has often been portrayed as a simple struggle between Fascism and democracy. In fact it was anything but. A military coup launched in July 1936 was defeated by worker’s action in most parts of Spain.

There then followed a wide ranging social revolution (see Worker’s Solidarity 33). As many as 5-7 million were involved in the collectivisation of agriculture and thousands in worker’s control of industry. About 2 million of these were also members of the oldest union in Spain the anarcho- syndicalist; CNT.

As with all revolutions a counter-revolution followed quickly on the Spanish revolution. This was spearheaded by the Spanish Communist party. These were faithful adherents to Stalin’s foreign policy of sucking up to France and England in the hope of military and economic alliances. They resisted the revolution at all stages and found willing allies in the Spanish republican and socialist forces. All took pains to convey to the world a struggle between fascism and democracy.

They also took steps to try and make it such a struggle by smashing collectives and factory committees and sabotaging the efforts of revolutionary forces at the front. However even more worrying is the fact that the „anarchists“ of the CNT made little attempt to combat these forces. In fact four became government ministers.