(Eng) El Acratador #54 - part 1 (Cast)

Luis Prat (prat@chem.ucsb.edu)
Wed, 16 Oct 1996 11:49:21 -0700

* * * * EL ACRATADOR * * * *

Counter-information bulletin #54 July-October 1966

Apdo. 3141
50080 Zaragoza
Spanish State/ Spain

Centro Social Libertario
Coso #186, bajos

E-mail cual@maser.unizar.es

Phone +34-(9)76-383673
Fax +34-(9)76-255298

El Acratador (periodical publication)#54 D.L.:Z-174-93 Issues: 2500
AntiC We recommend its loaning and total or partial reproduction citing the
source. This publication only compiles information and articles gathered
from different sources. The editorial staff does not necessarily identify
with the contents nor are they responsible for the same.


This issue was planned for July 19 (60th anniversary of the revolution).
Technical problems, the summer, and personal reasons have caused this
unwanted delay. We apologize to our readers.


These days mark the 60th anniversary of the military rebellion against the
Republican Government, the beginning of the Civil War and the social
revolution it unleashed in many places.

For many years forgotten in the interest of national reconciliation, the
social revolution in Aragon and other areas has for very long been ignored
in the history controlled by the victors and the marxists. TVE (Television
Espan~ola) did a series during the 50th anniversary of the Civil War. Of the
more than 22 hours of duration, barely 10 minutes touched in passing the
profound transformations in social life, the self-management and the
socialization of production, the rest being dedicated exclusively to the
military aspects of the fight. Meanwhile the British BBC dedicated one of
the six hours of its series on the Civil War to these topics.

The fall of the soviet communist model forces open new perspectives to the
revision of history. New studies and films such as _Tierra y Libertad_ or
_Libertarias_ (even with its inaccuracies) open a new vision, but the
general amnesia continues.

This past April 23 most of the official acts of Aragon Day were centered
about the 60th anniversary (March 1936) of the presentation of a proposal
for Estatutes of Autonomy in Caspe. Politicians of all colors celebrated
this historic event. But during that time of social convulsions, when the
events announced either fascism or revolution, autonomy was a demand by
moderate republicans or the progressive bourgeoisie: Catalunya, Euskadi and
also Aragon, whose Estatute's rough draft was written by a group of
aragoneses residing in Barcelona. Meanwhile the working class,
internationalist, thought of a revolution which would surpass the republican
stage, as part of the cycle where the republic had surpassed the monarchy.

When scholars, social investigators and historians the world over take
interest in the self-management transformation in Aragon, where property was
socialized and the State was replaced by revolutionary organisms from
below,the powers and the media of Aragon do not want to remember. Neither do
those autonomists or independentists. It was with the Council of Aragon
(Oct. 1936 - Aug. 1937) when Aragon has ever had the most autonomy and
independence with respect to the central government. The problem is that
politicians were not necessary because the people of Aragon learned to
govern themselves.

It is also the Centennial of Buenaventura Durruti, who we want to honor. We
don't pretend to make a hagiography or create myths, we want to use his
image as a means to propagate the feel of a time when there were thousands
upon thousands of anonimous Durrutis. Women, youth, workers, the
multicolored oppressed classes of the year 2000 can and must take ownership
of the experiences of the free women, the heroism of the militiamen/women,
who appeared as improvised combattants to defend their freedoms. We must
remember what those workers and peasants were capable of in the summer of
1936, facing Franco's army, counterattacking and retaking their jobs and
organizing their lives.

"Revolutions are contageous and, had it been succesful here, and we could've
done it, we could've changed the world. Nothing has happened, our day will
come". (Tierra y Libertad).



not under the control of the fascist military realized one of the largest
social revolutions and transformations in contemporary history. In the
liberated areas of Aragon the statist structures had disappeared. In each
municipality there sprung up revolutionary committees that replaced the old
City Halls. Later the name was changed to municipal councils, but their
workings and functions were the same as those of the revolutionary
committees. Land was collectivized and for a long time libertarian communism

Self-managed life was not due to the violent pressure from the confederal
columns or a coercion from libertarian dictatorship, as its detractors say,
but to the enthusiatic participation of landless peasants and small land
owners who improved their lifestyle and earned dignity. The militias kept
busy 30,000 combattants in 300 kms of front line and so they did not
directly affect the collectives nor the revolutionary committees. War and
revolution were possible simultaneously. Almost 600 collectives were formed
with the voluntary involvement of its members: men and women of the CNT,
republicans, UGT (Union General de Trabajadores - General Union of Workers,
socialist union T.N.), etc. Nobody was forced to join a collective, it was
done voluntarily. Whoever didn't want to belong could cultivate his/her land
by him/herself, without hired labor. The explotation of man by man was over.
The rest of the land s/he couldn't work without help automatically went to
the collective. 80% of the peasants took part in the collectives. Many small
owners continued to exploit their lands individually.

The characteristics of the collectives were: collective ownership of the
means of production, self-managed organization and freedom of choice for the
small land owners. Machinery that before was used solely by their owners
would be used by the whole collective. They improved production techniques,
introduced new crops, organized farms, set up shops and canneries. Economic
exchanges took place through a cooperative that coordinated in a more
egalitarian way the economic relationships, abolishing in this manner
speculative commerce. Many collectives made their own money in the form of

Agricultural production increased thanks to the stimilus of collective work
and equality in the sharing. Harvests increased in only one year between 20
and 30% in spite of the fact that the majority of the young people were at
the front. The collectives organized themselves into Regional Federations of
Collectives. Each regional federation compiled statistics to gather data on
the land, infrastructure, etc. to help meet the needs of each town. During
the first months 25 regional federations were formed, joining 450
collectives. These regionals were: Alcan~iz, Angues, Alfambra, Ainsa,
Alcorisa, Aliaga, Albalate de Cinca, Albalate del Arzobispo, Barbastro,
Binefar, Caspe, Ejulve, Escucha, Graus, Gran~en, Lecera, Muniesa, Mas de las
Matas, Mora de Rubielos, Puebla de Hijar, Pina de Ebro, Pancrudo, Sastago,
Tardienta y Valderrobles.

To transcend the local frame of reference, the Federation of Collectives of
Aragon was formed. In February 1937 the Constituent Congress took place in
Caspe. More than 500 collectives with 300,000 members (liberated Aragon had
500,000 inhabitants) were represented by 600 delegates. The federation would
defend the autonomy of the collectives, regulate the smooth workings and
help the economic exchange in a rational fashion. CNT of Aragon did a large
study about the possible social and economic future of the region. They
discussed the administrative territorial distribution, education, economic
exchanges, agricultural technical development, transportation improvements,
the creation of new industries, culture etc.

In February 1937 at the Intersyndical Congress of Aragon, CNT-UGT, UGT
members from Aragon broke ranks with the directives of their organization
and accepted the collective regime as they considered it to be the best way
to end the exploitation of the workers and to achieve the emancipation of
the people.


In September 1936 during a summit of the CNT-FAI in Bujaraloz (general
headquarters of the Durruti Column) the need was seen to create a
coordinating organism in Aragon, without falling into statist structures,
for the political, economic and social activities. The general idea was to
give security, estability and legal coverage to the collectives. The Council
(of Defense) of Aragon was constituted in Alcan~iz on October 15, 1936,
presided by Joaquin Ascaso, and had seven counselorships, all in the hands
of the CNT, since the remaining organizations were undecided. It chose Fraga
as its place of residence. The Central Government and Catalunya's
Generalitat, seeking to extend their influence in Aragon, denied the
legality of the Council of Aragon which was branded by the PCE as separatist
and fascist. For several weeks the Council of Aragon was clandestine, and
moved to Belver. It was even bombed "by mistake" by the communist air force.
Finally Largo Caballero, president of the Government, accepted the creation
of an autonomous regional organ as long as the rest of the parties and
unions participated. It was recognized on November 20, fully legalized in
December and in January 1937 it was transferred to Caspe with Joaquin Ascaso
as president, with the attributes of General Governor of Aragon. Besides the
presidency, the CNT had six secretariats, UGT two, PCE two and Republican
Left and the Syndicalist Party one each.


The collectives had many enemies since the beginning. The communist and
catalan columns assaulted and threatened the collectives nearest to their
headquarters or theaters of operations. The Council of Aragon denounced the
excesses of these columns enemies of the collectives and the delinquent
deeds by their members, who acted as if in conquered territory with
expropiations, thefts and arbitrary executions. To avoid all of this the
Council of Aragon decreed that :"all requests for articles, cattle,
equipment, (...) will be made to the Council directly and that the
antifascist forces not interfere in the socio-political life of each town,
considering it as a free municipality".

Due to the events of May 1937 in Barcelona, the change of government
(Negrin), more and more under communist influence, the counterrevolution
takes hold and would have as its goal the destruction of the collectives and
other self-managed forms of production, as well as the organisms in charge
of their defense. In August 1937 Indalecio Prieto, Minister of Defense,
abolishes by decree the Council of Aragon. Again Aragon was subject to the
bureaucratic centralism of the state. The autonomy and the gains in the
economic, political and social areas would be stripped away. The day after
the "coup de decree" while the anarchist columns fought at the frontlines,
the 11th Division of the Army commanded by the stalinist Lister (wept for by
I.U. [Izquierda Unida - United Left T.N.] in his recent death) entered
Caspe. With unusual violence the Council of Aragon, municipal committees,
the seats of CNT, FAI and Libertarian Youth (JJ.LL.) were assaulted and
closed down, and the collectives were destroyed. There were many arrests and
some executions. Joaquin Ascaso suffered a harsh political persecution and
all kinds of false accusations that forced him into exile in France a short
while after, long before the fall of the front.

Once the Lister divisions redeployed many collectives were reborn, however
their importance was less as they didn't have a defensive organism such as
the Council of Aragon and the State was reinstated. The protests, the
threats of bringing from the front the confederated divisions, the
condemnation of vandalism by the communist divisions produced a change in
the attitude of the government with respect to the collectives. Jose Silva,
communist and secretary general of the Institute of Agrarian Reform later
admitted that "the arbitrary dissolution and even destruction, of prosperous
collectives voluntarily constituted, brought chaos to the countryside". Joan
Peiro, ex-Minister of Industry, member of the moderate wing of the CNT who
was deproted from France in 1942 by the Gestapo and executed by Franco,
declared upon leaving office:"I suspect that it wasn't in their best
interest that the workers, turned into managers of industry, would someday
show enough capacity to say that to command industry, to raise the spanish
economy the bourgeoisie was not necessary, the capitalists were not necessary".

In many parts of the State: Catalunya, Levante, Castilla, Andalucia
industrial and agricultural production was socialized and consumer
cooperatives were created. In Levante CLUEA, a CNT-UGT workers organization,
produced and exported citrus products. But the peculiar aspect of Aragon is
that here the structures of the State were substituted by revolutionary
organisms which caused the social-political conquests to be superior.


Luis J. Prat

University of California
Chemistry Dept.
Santa Barbara CA 93106
(805) 893-3295
(805) 893-4120 FAX


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