By Danny Evans
This thesis analyses the opposition mounted by anarchists to the policy of state collaboration, which was adopted by the principal organisations of the Spanish libertarian movement at the outset of the civil war. Collaboration is understood in broad terms as the involvement of libertarian individuals and organisations in the reconstruction of the Republican state following its near collapse in July 1936, a process that implied not only participation in the organs of governance, but also in the ideological reconstitution of the Republic as a patriarchal and national entity.
Using original sources, the thesis shows that the opposition to this process was both broader and more ideologically consistent than has hitherto been assumed, and that, in spite of its heterogeneity, it united around a common revolutionary programme. Focusing on the strategies adopted by oppositional anarchists over the course of 1937, from the radical interpretation of the CNT’s socialisation campaign to the insurrectionary mobilisation of May and finally to the defence of federalism within the libertarian organisations, the thesis also sheds light on the turbulent relationship between the responsible committees of the libertarian movement and its ‘mid-level’ union and affinity group delegates.
The ‘conscience’ of the Spanish revolution, like its Russian precursor, both recognised and struggled against the role that the principal revolutionary organisation in the country had assumed in the reconstruction of the state. In the Spanish case, the resistance to state reconstruction was informed by the essential insight of anarchism: that the function and purpose of the modern state cannot be transformed from within. By situating the struggles of the radical anarchists within the contested process of state reconstruction, the thesis affirms the continued relevance of this insight to the study of the Spanish revolution.