Monday, February 22, 2010

As has been mentioned previously on this blog this year marks the centennary of the foundation of the Confedracion Nacional de Trabajo, the Spanish CNT. The CNT was the most sucessful of all anarchist organizations in history, and its legacy lives on in many anarchosyndicalist groups both within Spain and outside of it. As I mentioned previously I will be presenting various items about this history over the course of the year. The statements on this centennaryof the two larger Spanish anarchosyndicalist organizations, the CGT and the CNT have already been presented here. See here for the statement of the CGT and here for that of the CNT.
There is another, smaller anarchosyndicalist federation in Spain, Solidaridad Obrera. This organization came out of a split from the CGT, and, speaking somewhat simplictically, it may b seen as being "half-way" between the CGt and the CNT. In terms of icdeological affinity it is the Spanish organization that I personally favour the most. I do, however, recognize that it is something of an exercise in futility. For better or worse the CGT represents well over 90% of anarchosyndicalists in Spain today. Solidaridad Obrera is basically confined to the area of Madrid and one Catalan city.
Still, their voice desreves to be heard on this anniversary as they are also one of the heirs of the CNT. Their statement, translated from one of their journals Contramarchas, follows below. This statement takes both the CGT and the CNT to task for their celebrations of the centennary. A cynic might say that this criticism is something of "sour grapes" as SO doesn't have the numbers to do what the larger federations can do. On the other hand they make very good points about the need for unity amongst the anarchosyndicalists of Spain in presenting the ideals today. How far this unity can go when there is at least one real tactical difference ie whether to participate in workplace elections or not is questionable. This is something real and much more important than the nitpicking matters of "theory" ie opinion that usually divide leftist groups. Still, there is a great "continent" of opportunity for cooperation amongst the groups that is away from this question, and SO is right in that such cooperation should be encouraged as much as possible. The same perhaps applies to other anarchist groups with different agendas elsewhere in the world, though there the differences may be much more profound.
In any case here is their statement on the Centennary.
Between the end of the nineteenth and the start of the early twentieth century, the ideal of worker’s social emancipation permeated large sections of the working class, not precisely like it occurs today. In recent years we have been celebrating anniversaries that we believe are very important (and that we are now very far from being able to repeat) with the intention of disseminating them amongst the workers . Without going much further we have just commemorated in our magazine Solidarity No 15 (Autumn 2009), the 75th anniversary of the Asturian Revolution and the centennary of the Tragic Week, two milestones in terms of the working class confrontation with tyrants (the Second Republic and Alfonso XIII, respectively), without leaders or hierarchies, which put the system in check and which it bloodily suppressed by using the army against the people on both occasions. They filled the jails of all those who bothered them, especially labour militants, and in the case of the Tragic Week forged a shoddy setup to “legally” assassinate Ferrer Y Guardia and permanently close the Modern School, for the greater joy of the Church, which as happens at present, dominates education to conveniently indoctrinate new generations.
Despite all that persecution and repression, Solidaridad Obrera (a union created by socialists and anarchists in Barcelona in 1907 and since then involved in establishing itself in Catalonia) convened its third congress, calling, at the same time, for participation from all the local organizations in the rest of Spain. That Congress decided to build a new state-wide organization to "hasten the economic emancipation of the working class through the revolutionary expropriation of the bourgeoisie ...". Thus was born the Confederación Nacional del Trabajo, the anarchist union that would bring together the most militant and revolutionary parts of the labour movement and realize the greatest feats of the workers’ struggle up to 1939: The strike of 1911, underground activity, the revolutionary strike of 1917 with the UGT, The Canadiense strike in 1919, the consequent 8 hours day, the strike against the war in Morocco in 1923, underground activity, the rent strike in 1930, the occupation of the Duro Felguera in 1931, the insurgent uprisings of 1932 and 33 (Casas Viejas), the Zaragoza strike in 1934, the Asturian Revolution (UHP) in 1934, the construction strike in Madrid in 1936, the collectivisation of industry, services and agriculture ... It had to be ended by means of death, horror and blood as the fascists, military and church, led by the Criminalísimo Franco (the biggest murderer of workers in history ) ended this trajectory.
This centennial is claimed both by the current CNT, and by the CGT (which in its manifesto "100 years of anarcho-syndicalism" openly declares itself as anarchist). Both organizations prepare, each for its side and not without some polemics (If anarchosyndicalism is 140 years old and not 100, then we must ask when did the CGT begin?), concerts, conferences, lectures, debates and exhibitions for this celebration. In our opinion, an unnecessary waste of money for mere self-aggrandizement and to keep on sowing discord between the two organizations.
In Solidaridad Obrera on the occasion of this anniversary, we have given our members José Peirats’ trilogy "The CNT in the Spanish Revolution "(2nd Ed 1988), a great work that recounts the accomplishments of our companions in that first part of the twentieth century. We would like it if the centenary was a cause of contact between the anarcho-syndicalist organizations and workers in general, and was used to disseminate the principles, the realized struggle and the news of workers’ self-organization that is currently outside the institutionalized unions. In this sense we set forth proposals that will promote unity and disseminate its results. While we must say that we start from a situation unfavourable for the unitary proposals to succeed, as each organization seeks more the reaffirmation of their own different postulates than the road to anarchosyndicalist unification, so necessary so that the working class can stand up the fierce attacks that we're suffering.

No comments: