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★ Catalonia

Catalonia: see Spain & Anarchism & Spanish Civil War & Europe & European Union

Living Utopia: The Anarchists and the Spanish Revolution 1997 - An Anarchist’s Story: Ethel McDonald 2006 - Spanish Civil War with Michael Portillo TV - The Spanish Civil War TV - George Orwell - Two Catalonias 2018 - The Truth About Franco: Spain’s Forgotten Dictator TV -

 

 

 

‘Anarchism is freedom.’  Living Utopia: The Anarchists and the Spanish Revolution, Miguel Alba, 1997

 

‘I woke up to the sound of the factory sirens.  And it was as if all of Barcelona were beating with a single heart.  It was something you experience maybe once in 100 years.  And one thing I can say is that it marked my life.  That emotion is always with me.’  ibid.  Federico Arcos

 

‘The real revolution started on July 19th.  The people started it spontaneously defending themselves against the army.  It was the one and only time that the people defeated the army.’  ibid.  Francisco Carrasquer  

 

‘The people discovered they were the masters of their own fate.’  ibid.  Federico Arcos  

 

The misery in which so many Spaniards lived in 1930 had barely improved since the start of the industrial revolution the century before.  Illiteracy and great social inequality continued while the authorities, the Church and the bourgeoisie did nothing.  Anarchism, which seemed like a Utopian socialist proposal to fight against social injustice had been gradually establishing itself among the country’s poorest classes.  ibid.  

 

For anarchists it is the people who have to acquire a revolutionary awareness and get to know reality so as to change it.  ibid.

 

In 1923 with the dictatorship of Primo de Rivera the CNT was outlawed and many anarchists went into exile.  ibid.

 

‘The unions were being constantly closed down; the jails were full of workers.’  ibid.  witness

 

It was the citizens who organised the new society.  ibid.

 

The people put into practice all the libertarian ideas cherished over a century … Barcelona became the advanced guard of the revolution.  ibid.

 

‘Money was abolished.  All landowners would have their property expropriated whether they were to the left or to the right.  All machinery would be at the people’s disposal.  All buildings would be used for lodging inhabitants no matter who the owner was.  Work was done collectively.’  ibid.  witness  

 

‘Everyone adapted very well.’  ibid.

 

The social revolution in rural Spain had the support of most of the peasants.  3 million Spaniards were living under the principles of libertarian communism.  ibid.

 

The structure was complicated but everyone was involved.  ibid.

 

‘Anarchism is the greatest thing.’  ibid.  witness

 

‘Lister did that because just as in Russia the Bolsheviks, the dictators, wouldn’t allow the existence of a libertarian movement.’  ibid.

 

‘We’d lost our ideals and we knew that it was for ever.  The struggle was lost.  The retreat began.’  ibid.  

 

‘They arrested all of us.’  ibid.

 

Franco’s armies marched into the Republican heartland of neighbouring Catalonia.  ibid.  

 

Their defeated opponents were put to death.  ibid.

 

 

For a few brief months in Catalonia 1936 history’s only anarchist experiment flourished.  And it was a women from the far side of Europe who reported its rise and its final defeat to the world.  An Anarchist’s Story: Ethel McDonald, 2006

 

‘Spain is the place where the future of the world is being determined.  It’s not just another local difficulty.’  ibid.  Professor Mike Gonzalez

 

Radical thinkers like Ethel McDonald, now 27 years old and with 8 year’ anarchist activism behind her, quickly picked up on the importance of what was happening in Spain.  ibid.  

 

Spain was the arena for a showdown between Left and Right.  ibid.

 

‘We supported the concept of loyalty, honesty: those are the basic values of anarchy.’  ibid.  witness

 

For ten extraordinary months in 36 and 37 the region of Catalonia became the centre of one of the most radical revolutions in world history.  ibid.

 

‘This is the kind of international that will united the human race.’  ibid.  Ethel

 

While Ethel hid out in Catalonia trying to find a way home she was becoming famous in her native land.  ibid.    

 

The fate of volunteers trapped in Spain attracted international criticism.  ibid.

 

‘I helped anarchist comrades in and out of prison.’  ibid.  Ethel  

 

 

Franco’s armies marched into the Republican heartland of neighbouring Catalonia.  Spanish Civil War with Michael Portillo s1e2: War Without Mercy  

 

Their defeated opponents were put to death.  ibid.    

 

 

One of the most savage civil conflicts Europe has ever seen.  The civil war lasted from 1936 to 1939.  It cost perhaps half a million lives.  It ruined cities, towns and villages.  For some  the victors  it was a crusade against godless revolution; for others  the defeated it was a struggle against the forces of reaction that had oppressed Spain for generations.  The Spanish civil war still haunts the world’s imagination.  The Spanish Civil War I: Prelude to Tragedy, Granada TV 1983

 

On July 13th 1936 a group of army officers rebelled against the government of the Spanish republic.  Workers took up arms to fight the rising.  And what began as a military coup led to almost three years of civil war.  For both sides, political opponents became enemies to be hunted down and killed.  ibid.

 

The monarchy had fallen without violence … He went unresisting into exile.  ibid. 

 

A powerful and deeply conservative church hostile to change; an army accustomed to having the last word in politics; a possessing class determined to defend its privileges.  ibid.   

 

One source of this left-wing opposition was anarchism, gathered round its trade union CNT, born during the bloody social conflicts of Barcelona in the early years of the century.  The CNT’s treed was anarcho-syndicalism, the belief that revolution would lead to total workers’ management.  ibid.      

 

They rejected all governments, monarchies or republics.  They fought for a society of equal cooperating human beings freed from the curse of private property, god and bosses.  ibid.

 

In 1936 with elections approaching once more, most of the left united in a popular front; the anarchists did not join but supported the popular front in order to rescue their own imprisoned supporters.  ibid.

 

A climate of violence allowed the Falange to flourish.  ibid.  

 

 

The civil war became the battlefield for international ideologies.  Before then it was Spain’s own revolution and counter-revolution.  Justice was swept away by random brutality.  The Spanish Civil War II: Revolution, Counter-Revolution and Terror

 

Around the country some sections of the army stayed loyal to the Republic.  So did half the Spanish people.  A pattern for the division of Spain was set.  ibid.  

 

The coup became a civil war, and the resistance became a revolution.  ibid.

 

‘A lot of hatred had been accumulated.’  ibid.  peasant

 

The anarchists had more than half a million supporters all over the country.  ibid.  

 

The War provided the opportunity to achieve a freedom and justice that they argued was impossible under bourgeois democracy.  They claimed that war and revolution were inseparable.  ibid.  

 

Industry was collectivised, women were liberated, abortion was legalised.  Barcelona celebrated its freedom.  This was a revolution.  ibid.  

 

At the front the Republican militias were getting beaten.  ibid.       

 

 

In Catalonia some anarchists feared their revolution was being taken over by communists.  The Spanish Civil War III: Battleground for Idealists

  

 

General Franco called the uprising against the Republican government a Crusade, a fight for Christian civilisation; others called it fascism.  It was for nearly three years the world’s moral arena.  The Spanish Civil War IV: Franco and the Nationalists   

 

By the age of thirty-three he [Franco] was a general.  He had commanded the Spanish foreign legion for four years.  ibid.  

 

The social upheavals of the Republic had led to a progressive breakdown of law and order.  ibid.  

 

Francisco Franco emerged as the undisputed leader and called himself head of state.  ibid.   

 

Many different groups had supported their rising: first the conservatives … the monarchists … the Carlists … Falange  the fascist party outlawed by the Republic.  ibid.   

 

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