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(en) Ireland, Workers Solidarity issue #93 is - The Importance of the Spainish revolution by Julia Doherty

Date Wed, 11 Oct 2006 08:30:36 +0200

Today a social revolution that took place seventy years ago is remembered
by libertarian socialists as an example of how our ideas can work. The
Spanish revolution came closer to realising the possibilities of a free
stateless society on a huge scale than any other revolution in history.
It was a very successful attempt by workers to re-construct society
along new revolutionary lines. The only other revolution as widely
known, the Russian one, ended in much bloodshed of innocent
workers when the Bolsheviks, led by Lenin, installed a one-party
state at the expense of the elected workers’ councils (“soviets”).
The importance of the Spanish revolution to anarchists and socialists
today is that it is an example of workers’ self-management and
collectivisation which was largely a success. Many factories, both
agrarian and urban, were taken over by the workers and successfully
run without the need for any hierarchical system. This workers’
self management meant practicing the ideal of “from each
according to ability, to each according to need”. In some small
village collectives money was even done away with and everything
was held in common by the people.

We have little to no freedom in our daily lives and work, we must
work to support ourselves and our families in a system that insists
we subsidise a class of parasitic employers. And yet if we were to do
away with the bosses, the managers, the middlemen and all of those
who do not do useful work but merely grow fat off our sweat, we
would only have to work half the hours we do now and still be able to
support ourselves and each other.

We have it ingrained into us that there is a need for bosses, that we
need someone to watch over us and necessary work and yet takes a
major cut? We are told by all of those with power that we need them,
but they can never quite seem to explain why.

With the Spanish revolution and the idea that there is not a need for
bosses comes the more recent example of Argentina‘s occupied
factories. Following the massive collapse of their economy in the
early 21st century and with their livelihoods threatened by bosses
shutting down the factories, the workers decided they had had
enough. They re-opened the factories and began producing again,
only this time without a boss.

There are many success stories like the Zanon tile factory where all
workers are equal and after fighting legal battles to keep the
production going they were allowed to keep they workers controlled
workplace. If we cannot work right without the bosses then how
come they managed it?

For the couple of years that the libertarian revolution in Spain held
out it maintained its federalised system of control by the workers.
The end of this period did not come about because of any internal
flaw. It had to be physically overthrown. It required the military
victory of Franco, backed by Italian and German fascists, and the
forced exile, imprisonment and murder of thousands of anarchists,
socialists and their sympathisers.

The whole period is a working example that it can be done, that
those who do the real work can thrive without bosses. We have it
ingrained into us that those at the top are the most important and
that they are something that we will have to face each and every day
for the rest of our lives, so we’d better get used to it!

But imagine breaking free, imagine working with your workmates
for the benefit of all rather than just a small minority of owners,
imagine getting equal access to the wealth of society. Imagine that
and take the idea of a libertarian, collectivised system that sustains
all equally to work with you on Monday.

Published as 'The importance of Spain'

From the anarchist journal Workers Solidarity 93, Sept/Oct 2006
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