Sunday, January 03, 2010

This year marks the hundredth anniversary of the foundation of the Spanish CNT. I am already reading and getting the notices of "100 years of anarcho-syndicalism" from both of the Spanish organizations that claim the CNT's legacy, the eponymous CNT and the CGT. In the next little while I'll be presenting some items from both organizations to mark the occasion. While the Spanish CNT may certainly claim to have been the largest and most successful of the anarcho-syndicalist unions of the last century it was hardly the first. That honour belongs to the French CGT, founded in 1895, and its 'Charter of Amiens' in 1906 pretty well laid out the simple basic principles that anarcho-syndicalist groups would subsequently follow. Even though the CGT itself later strayed from the anarchist course due to its capture by the rising Communist Party of France.
Thus, this more properly called '100 Years of the CNT' rather than '100 Years of Anarcho-syndicalism'. From October 30 to November 1 of 1910 a congress of the Catalan union federation Solidaridad Obrero, meeting in Barcelona under the shadow of the previous years 'Semana Tragica', decided, in a burst of enthusiasm, to generalize their federation into one encompassing all of Spain. The Spanish anarchists were quite prone to "bursts of enthusiasm", and sometimes these worked out extremely well, as it did in this case. The following year, 1911, the newly formed ConfederaciĆ³n Nacional De Trabajo (CNT) was formed. The rest, as they say, is history, the most glorious page written into the history books by anarchism.
Have a look at our 'Links' section for numerous anarcho-syndicalist contacts. For those interested in the further history there is a 24 unit pdf self-education course here. Stay tuned to Molly's Blog through the year as we present more on this anniversary, including items from both of the heirs of the historical CNT.


Anonymous said...

"100 years of anarcho-syndicalism" seems to be the CGT trying to take the wind out of the CNTs sails by claiming the CNTs legacy as there own, even though the CGT is a result of a split and has only existed for something like 25 years.

mollymew said...

The claim to the historical title of the "CNT" was settled by the Spanish courts when what is presently the CNT, a small minority in the CNT of the time, took the majority to court. The title to the "true anarchist CNT" was the gift of the Spanish courts to what is now the CNT-AIT.Before this legal victory the CGT called itself the CNT (through various tag ons) just as much as the minority that won the court case did. The relative proportions of the two organizations remain the same today ie the CGT has about 10 times as many "members", let alone the millions (literally) of Spanish workers who have voted for its delegates in workplace committees. The historical title is important in Spain today because of legal wrangling over the "patrimony" of the pre-Franco unions. Quite frankly I find this whole process not very edifying.
In addition to the CGT and the CNT-AIT there is at leat one other anarcho-syndicalist union in Spain today, Solidaridad Obrero, strongest in Madrid and the result of a split from the CGT. Though I have had a hard time tracing down the sources there is also a probable split in Catalonia from the CNT, one that also claims the title of CNT, without, of course, the legal sanction of the Spanish state.
In any case I will try and be as even handed as possible in what I will present over the next year, as I am convinced that, while time has proven the course that the CGT adopted to be the OBVIOUSLY most useful one, that "right" is not entirely the province of this one organization.