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Anarchist FAQ - appendix 3.2

Anarchist FAQ - appendix 3.2

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Published by 18462
The Anarchist FAQ was written by anarchists across the world in an attempt to present anarchist ideas and theory to those interested in it. It is a co-operative effort, produced by a (virtual) working group and it exists to present a useful organising tool for anarchists on-line and, hopefully, in the real world. It desires to present arguments on why you should be an anarchist as well as refuting common arguments against anarchism and other proposed solutions to the social problems we face.

See: http://www.anarchistfaq.org
The Anarchist FAQ was written by anarchists across the world in an attempt to present anarchist ideas and theory to those interested in it. It is a co-operative effort, produced by a (virtual) working group and it exists to present a useful organising tool for anarchists on-line and, hopefully, in the real world. It desires to present arguments on why you should be an anarchist as well as refuting common arguments against anarchism and other proposed solutions to the social problems we face.

See: http://www.anarchistfaq.org

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Published by: 18462 on Oct 18, 2008
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Appendix: Anarchism and Marxism1
Marxists and Spanish Anarchism
MARXISTS AND SPANISH ANARCHISM..................................................................................................................................... 2

1. Were the Spanish Anarchists "Primitive Rebels"?.....................................................................................................2 2. How accurate is Felix Morrow's book on the Spanish Revolution?......................................................................12 3. Did a "highly centralised" FAI control the CNT?....................................................................................................14 4. What is the history of the CNT and the Communist International?.......................................................................17 5. Why did the CNT not join the Workers' Alliance?....................................................................................................20 6. Was the October 1934 revolt sabotaged by the CNT?.............................................................................................27 7. Were the Friends of Durruti Marxists?......................................................................................................................34 8. Did the Friends of Durruti "break with" anarchism?..............................................................................................36 9. Were the Friends of Durruti influenced by Trotskyists?..........................................................................................43 10. What does the Friends of Durruti's programme tell us about Trotskyism?.......................................................44 11. Why is Morrow's comments against the militarisation of.....................................................................................46 the Militias ironic?.............................................................................................................................................................47 12. What is ironic about Morrow's vision of revolution?............................................................................................55 13. Why do anarchists reject the Marxist "workers' state"?.......................................................................................65 14. What is wrong with Morrow's "fundamental tenet" of anarchism?.....................................................................69 15. Did Spanish Anarchism aim for the creation of "collectives" before the revolution?.....................................74 16. How does the development of the collectives indicate the differences between Bolshevism and anarchism?

................................................................................................................................................................................................81 17. Why is Morrow's support for "proletarian methods of production" ironic?.....................................................86 18. Were the federations of collectives an "abandonment" of anarchist ideas?......................................................87 19. Did the experience of the rural collectives refute anarchism?.............................................................................89 20. Does the experience of the Spanish Revolution indicate the failure of anarchism or the failure of

anarchists?...........................................................................................................................................................................93
Appendix: Anarchism and Marxism2
Marxists and Spanish Anarchism

In this appendix of our FAQ we discuss and reply to various analyses of Spanish anarchism put
forward by Marxists, particularly Marxist-Leninists of various shades. The history and politics of
Spanish Anarchism is not well known in many circles, particularly Marxist ones, and the various
misrepresentations and distortions that Marxists have spread about that history and politics are
many. This appendix is an attempt to put the record straight with regards the Spanish Anarchist
movement and point out the errors associated with the standard Marxist accounts of that
movement, its politics and its history.

Hopefully this appendix will go some way towards making Marxists (and others) investigate the
actual facts of anarchism and Spanish anarchist history rather than depending on inaccurate
secondary material (usually written by their comrades).

Part of this essay is based on the article " Trotskyist Lies on Anarchism" which appeared inBlack
Flag issue no. 211 and Tom Wetzel's article Workers' Power and the Spanish Revolution.
1. Were the Spanish Anarchists "Primitive Rebels"?

The thesis that the Spanish Anarchists were "primitive rebels," with a primitive understanding of
the nature of revolution is a common one amongst Marxists. One of the main sources for this
kind of argument is Eric Hobsbawm's Primitive Rebels, who was a member of the British
Communist Party at the time. While the obvious Stalinist nature of the author may be thought
enough to alert the intelligent of its political biases, its basic thesis is repeated by many Marxists.

Before discussing Hobsbawm in more detail, it would be useful to refute some of the more silly
things so-called serious historians have asserted about Spanish Anarchism. Indeed, it would be
hard to find another social or political movement which has been more misrepresented or its
ideas and activities so distorted by historians whose attitudes seem more supported by
ideological conviction rather than history or investigation of social life.

One of the most common descriptions of Spanish anarchism is that it was"religious" or
"millenarium" in nature. Hobsbawm himself accepts this conceptualisation, along with historians
and commentators like Gerald Brenan and Franz Brokenau (who, in fact, did state" A n a r c h i s mi s
a religious movement"). Such use of religion was largely due to the influence of Juan Diaz del
Moral, a lawyer and historian who was also a landowner. As Jerome R. Mintz points out,

"according to Diaz del Moral, the moral and passionate obreros conscientes [conscious workers
-- i.e. workers who considered themselves to be anarchists] absorbed in their pamphlets and
newspapers were akin to frenzied believers in a new religion."[The Anarchists of Casas

Viejas, p. 5f] However, such a perspective was formed by his class position and privileges which
could not help but reflect them:
"Diaz del Moral ascribed to the campesinos [of Andalusia] racial and cultural
stereotypes that were common saws of his class. The sole cause for the waves of rural
Appendix: Anarchism and Marxism3

unrest, Diaz del Moral asserted, could be found in the psychology of the campesinos . . .
He believed that the Andalusian field workers had inherited a Moorish tendency toward
ecstasy and millenarianism that accounted for their attraction to anarchist teaching. Diaz
del Moral was mystified by expressions of animosity directed toward him, but the workers
considered him to be a senorito, a landowner who does not labour . . . Although he was
both scholarly and sympathetic, Diaz del Moral could not comprehend the hunger and
the desperation of the campesinos around him . . . To Diaz del Moral, campesino
ignorance, passion, ecstasy, illusion, and depression, not having a legitimate basis in
reality, could be found only in the roots of their racial heritage." [Op. Cit., pp. 5-6]

Hence the"religious" nature of anarchism -- it was one of the ways an uncomprehending
member of the middle-class could explain working class discontent and rebellion. Unfortunately,
this "explanation" has become common place in history books (partly reflected academics class
interest too and lack of understanding of working class interests, needs and hopes).

As Mintz argues, "at first glance the religious model seems to make anarchism easier to

understand, particularly in the absence of detailed observation and intimate contact. The model
was, however, also used to serve the political ends of anarchism's opponents. Here the use of the
terms 'religious' and 'millenarium' stamp anarchist goals as unrealistic and unattainable.
Anarchism is thus dismissed as a viable solution to social ills." He continues by arguing that the
"oversimplifications posited became serious distortions of anarchist belief and practice"(as we

shall see). [Op. Cit., p. 5 and p. 6]
Temma Kaplan's critique of the"religious" view is also worth mentioning. She argues that" t h e

millenarium theory is too mechanistic to explain the complex pattern of Andalusian anarchist activity. The millenarian argument, in portraying the Andalusian anarchists as fundamentally religious, overlooks their clear comprehension of the social sources of their oppression."She

concludes that "the degree of organisation, not the religiosity of workers and the community,

accounts for mass mobilisations carried on by the Andalusian anarchists at the end of the
nineteenth century."She also notes that the " [i]n a secular age, the taint of religion is the taint of
irrationality." [Anarchists of Andalusia: 1868-1903, pp. 210-12 and p. 211] Thus, the

Andalusian anarchists had a clear idea who their enemies were, namely the ruling class of the
region. She also points out that, for all their revolutionary elan, the anarchists developed a
rational strategy of revolution, channelling their energies into organising a trade union movement
that could be used as a vehicle for social and economic change. Moreover, as well as a clear idea
of how to change society they had a clear vision of what sort of society they desired -- one built
around collective ownership and federations of workers' associations and communes.

Therefore the idea that anarchism can be explained in"religious" terms is fundamentally flawed.
It basically assumes that the Spanish workers were fundamentally irrational, unable to
comprehend the sources of their unhappiness nor able to define their own political goals and
tactics and instead looked to naive theories which reinforced their irrationalities. In actuality, like
most people, they were sensible, intelligent human beings who believed in a better life and were
willing to apply their ideas in their everyday life. That historians apply patronising attitudes

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