August 21, 1937. The Situation Vin Spain Today BARCELONA, July 24. By Courier to the Frontier) July 19tl. aniversary of the proletarian crushing of Fascism in Catalonia, was not celebrated here.
At the last moment the Valencia Government prohibited the joint demonstration scheduled by all the Catalan parties, cynically declaring that anti fascist sentiment, the perfect harmony between the rear and the front.
required no special manifestation. This attitude was only logical on the part of the Valencia authorities: how can a reactionary government permit the celebration of a revolution? The CNT AI leadership made no protest; their members wished to demonstrate illegally, but the authority of the ammo reformist leaders is still great enough to stiﬂe such initiative from below.
The General who, in charge of Public Order, had prevented the demonstrstion planned for the 18th, himself ordered a characteristic demonstration for tile 19th: the assault guards and shock police, armed to the teeth, came out and patrolled the streets of Barcelona, between each company two machine guns, 1937 model, with munition cases.
Stalin Police System Installed The point is that, having suppressed all forms of Catalonian autonomy although the Catalan statute remains on paper the authorities have conﬁdence in nobody who has any tie, no matter how slight, with the Catalan masses. The entire Catalan police were transferred to the center of the country or to the front.
Only the old cossacks the Civil Guard. rechristened as the National Republic Guard, remain.
Even the firemen have been sent to Madrid. An entirely novel system, probably introduced by the Russian police here, is that the whole city is covered with a network of guardsmen carefully concealed; the meshes of this net are so fine that from one guard post to another is only three minutes on foot. Thus they hope to be able to stifle any illicit movement from the ﬁrst moment.
The repression is much worse in Catalonia than in the rest of the country. Solidadridad Obrers (CNT organ) can speak only inthe language of ﬂowers about the most important problems. It dares not publish the speech of Mariano Vasquez, Secretary of the CNT National Committee, in which the CNT ﬁnally took up the public defense of the POUM.
Indeed, only Castilla Libre of Madrid published it; unfortunately it has not a large circula tion. We must not deceive our, selves: not a few people especially the petty bourgeoisie are beginning to believe that the POUM is guilty of some of the charges. Now the shortcomings of the CNT press, which never explained the signiﬁcance of the Moscow trials they refrained in the name of unity and still publish little; on the shooting of the Russian generals, for example, Bali and Noche merely published the ofﬁcial bulletins without ccmmentary are being paid for by both the POUM and CNT prisoners. Issue Reactionary Decrees Recently two decrees of the Ministry of Justice (the Minister is Irujo, representative of the big Basque bourgeoisie) have paved the way for Moscow trials in Spain. One drove the FAI out of the Popular Tribunals, by decreeing that parties that were not legalized before the 16th of February could not be represented.
The other decree, still more serious, constitutes Special Tribunals, to hold secret trials on espionage and high treason chars gas; as the CNT secretary pointed ont, all oppositionists to the Government, all those who speak or demonstrate against the constituted Government, come under the terms of this decree. And this means, for example, that at this moment, am subject to its penalties and tomorrow can be arrested and tried behind closed dorrs.
If only Vasquez words on Nin had been published in the big CNT papers! If only the CNT had organized a real. campaign for his defense! The CNT leadership knew Nin well; he had been one of the biggest of them, twenty years ago, before he founded the Communist Party of Spain. Ah! but what nobody can understand, said Vasquez, is their saying Nin has been in con tact with Franco, and that Nin is a fascist. This must be taken into the courts and proved to the people because, for the people, Nin is a revolutionist. He is a man who, from youth, has been in the revolutionary organisations, and the people cannot reconcile this with what is said regarding Franco. It is supreme madness, to say the least, politically mad as well, not to proceed legally in these matters. But, of course. the Stalinists and the Negrin government dare not bring Nin into open court. This was mitten before the discovery that Nin had been lynched by the GPU. Prisoners on Hunger Strike hunger strike of foreign political prisoners, most of them POUM and CNT co workers, began on Monday, July lZ seventy prisoners refused nourishment.
They demanded, not only better treatment, but above all to know of what they were accused. Despite concessions to them on increasing food allowances and provided bed sheets, the prisoners continued their strike for four days. that we know of: a trial or liberation, was their slogan.
Under the pressure of the CNT, the police made a promise not to hold prisoners more than thirty days without bringing them into court; but the promise has not been kept; even the ordinary rank and flle worker is imprisoned for fifty days and more without a perfunctory hearing, strictly incommunicado during all this time.
The chief of police Ortega for all Spain, is a Stalinist. Since this was written Ortega was dismissed for illegally summoning and arresting a POUM military commander during preparation of the Aragon offensive, but was immediately replaced by Gabriel Moron, another Stalinist. But the ofﬁcial police force, jails, etc. do not sufﬁce for their bloody work; in the case of the POUM leadership, for instance, they arrested them without using the legal channels. Indeed, in most of the political arrests, there is no ofﬁcial notice at Police Headquarters or elsewhere. Friends have seen, for example, the ofﬁcial record, releasing Jose Escuder, managing editor of La Batalla; but then the stalinists took him to one of their unofﬁcial Cheka (GPU. Socialists Tacitly Aid And the authorities, the Valencia and Barcelona governments, consent to all this. Although the Cheka is not under their control, they condone its persecutions and murders Negrin, Prieto, and the other Social Democratic leaders, it is known, are a and a good many of them held little appalled by the crudity of the Stalinist CPU but they are linked with the Stalinists invthe same repressive governmental apparatus. They enjoy its reactionary fruits. We blush when we hear foreign anti fascist comrades, combatants from the front, fallen under the heel of the exclaiming bewildered. Have we made a mistake in sides?
The great masses, still largely anarchist in sympathy, remain expectant. But the pathetic orations of their leaders do not succeed in awakening their enthusiasm. The anarcho reformist bureaucrat phraseology about nobility and let us sacriﬁce is too worn. The local group of the FAI have resumed their illegal propaganda; unfortunately it does not center around the most immediate problem, the release of the prisoners. Protesting against Stalinist repression, the Anarchist youth, the Libertarian organization, as in, its time the German Social Democracy, demands of the state help, against its own bands. How long. It is time for the Government Council to speak, or lacking that, the Delegate General of Public Order and the Chief of Police, says one pathetic leaﬂet. But the illegal leaﬂets and press of the anarchists does provide interesting re velations. Anarquia reports: To the shame and mockery of those calling themselves democrats, on the 17th of the present month, while proven anti fascists and ﬁghters for a better tomorrow are held in jail, seventy prisoners were set free, among.«them ﬁfty ﬁve proven fascists. We learn from. the illegal leaflets that the PSUC (Catalan Stalinists) issue instructions for, recruiting: Stop your companions in the War School and offer them liberty in exchange for entry into the PSUC. If a man is arrested who is ascertained. or whom one believes, not to be a revolutionist, the police propose that he enter the PSUC. Anarquia of July reports: What we cannot tolerate nor cansent to. is uniformed assault. robbery and pillage penetrating our centers and cultural organs. Libertarian headquarters had been assaulted, its equipment destroyed, valuables stolen, by a Stalinist detachment.
Discontent with Anarchist Leaders There is widespread discontent with the leadership in the anarchist ranks. The Bolshevik Leninists (Trotskyists) are still too small, however, to channelize it.
Having been the tail to the CNT during most of the events, the POUM has attracted few of the anarchists. Consequently, the main tendency among the discontented CNT workers is a fruitless one, of desiring to return to their traditional anti politicalism. The CNT National Committee has found itself obliged to attack them publicly and effectively too; for the sterile criticism of the hundred per cent anti statists only gives force to the reformist alibis of their leaders. The Bolshevik Ia eninists have won sufﬁcient influence in the CNT ranks to receive, at the hands of the CNT leaders a dew, right dishonest attack. During the May Days, as an immediate measure, we called for united action of the Accusing us of speaking in their name,. though our leaﬂet was plainly signed by the Bolshevik Leninists of Spain, the CNT denounced our dirty maneuvers. We answered them in fraternal spirit, that we had the right to call for ONTFAI POUM action because we consider that today only the struggle of these three organizations can stop the imprisonments, closing of centers, monstrous trials, and, the offensive against the collectives. The nobility of the anarchist leaders did not go so far as to publish our answer.
The desperate repressive campaign, led by the Stalinists, has ﬁnally frightened Caballero into motion, for it is plain that the Stalinists will try to wipe out every form of opposition. The Spanish Lenin what a preposterous title, after his shameful record as Premier during the period of reconstruction of the bourgeois state, from September 4th to May 15thl 4was all the more ready to come to the fore, since both the CNT and POUM, with their slogan of a CNT UGT Government ceded unquestioned leadership of the opposition to Caballero. How bad the situation is here may be realized from the fact that Caballero now calls the government a reactionary regime. He makes a sharp distinction between ﬁghting at the fronts and political suport to the government, and gives it no political support. He offers the masses, however, no perspective other than a new parliamentary combination. Even this is too much for the Stalinists, who are openly threatening to outlaw the Caballero group if they continue in opposition.
The Stalinist Degeneration There is simply no way of des cribi ng in a few words the political degenration of the Stalinist party. In Catalonia its composition is based on the new bourgeoisie. that is, the former small shopkeepers and businessmen who the former big bourgeoisie, having been liquidated largely on July 19, 1936 under the regime of free trade and bank credits to favorites, have become full blown bourgeois entrepeneurs. In Spain generally, the Stalinists have come into sharp collision with both the ONT Federation of Peasants and Agricultural Workers and the UGT Peasant Federation; Ricardo Zabalza, secretary of the latter, and by no means a leftist, has continually denounced the Stalinists for their recruiting of kulaks and caciques, charging that the Gil Robles men and reactionaries in the villages generally have joined the Commun ist Party as the most efﬁcacious means of fighting the peasantry and the collectives. Generals, governmental bureaucrats, traders, hordes from the Catalan Esquer ra, all have joined the Stainists because they are the most vigorous defenders of the hourgeois regime. With the pending fusion with the Socialist Party into one united party of the proletariat. Spain will have a totalitarian party based on ruthless extermination of the re volutionary forces.
The POUM has mgrouped itself organizationally, but, alas, has not at all changed its political line. The divergences between the three factions. The Rightists or former Maurinists, the Centrists or remains of the Executive Committee, and the Lefts led by the Madrid and Barcelona Local Committees are deepening. The Maurinists are saying: the policy of the Trotskyisis. Nin, Andrade, Molins, etc. is to blame for the repression against us. The Center tries to maintain unity be evoking only sentimental pleas. The Left wing is in constant fermentation: they make a Trotskyi criticism of the POUM but fear nothing so much as contact with the Trots kyists; but this is merely the remnants of their heritage of Nin Neither Trotskyist nor Stalinist.
rourl Disorieated The illegal leaﬂets published by the Executive Committee of the POUM testify to the complete disorientation reigaln in.
their ranks. One of these is particularly worthy of comment.
They, who have always reproach: ed the Bolshevik Leninists for, seeing only Stalinism, have fal len into a completely vulgar anti Stalinism. They have, indeed, become anti Stalinist and nothing more. Today even the boargeois liberals find grace in their eyes. The leaﬂet addresses itself to everybody on the left and on the right: to the anarchists as well as to the young separatists of the ultra reactionary.
Estat Catala. The POUM asks all to protect them against Stalinism, which which is alone held guilty of the repressions. The POUM passes over in complete silence the fact that the Stalinists can fulfil their counter revolutionary job only thanks to the complacency of Companys and Prieto and the whole heartaed aid of the bourgeoisie of the Estat Catala. The men of ths Left cannot betray their postulates. The Separatists. cannot sell Catalonia by thalr,. ailﬂme.
And the leaﬂet ends with Iii.
gen: Prevent theestahlishment. of the dictatorship of a party he: hind the lines. Are there still comrades abroad who. believe the POUM can berefonned, or that the demand for a, new party would be premature? The POUM leadership has perspectives. Hence theymﬁnd it easy to write in an article against the Bolshevik Ieninists, that The scanty elements that come pose the Bolshevik Leninist Section in Spain for the Fourth International published in recent days leaflets that are real models of confusion and demonstrate that the poor Trotskyists are politically dwelling in the stratasphere. In them they ask for such absurd things, so contrary to the realty of the present movement, that they amount to actual political aberration. But they are careful not to inform their membership what are the such absurd things. That is why reproduce the last part of our leaflet of June 19, 1937. Only the United Front of struggle of the CNT AI POUM find all revolutionary organisations can succeed in annihilating the ogre of counter revolution.
Workers: demand of your organization and your leader a.
united front pact which must contain. Struggle for the freedom of the workers press! Down with political censorship. Liberation of all revolutionary prisoners. For the liberation of Comrade Nin, transported to Valencia. Joint protection of all centers and enterprises in the poosession of our organizations. Reconstitution of strengthened Workers Patrols. Cease di sunning the working class. Equal pay for ofﬁcers and soldiers. The return to the front of all the armed bodies sent from Valencia. General offensive on all fronts. Control of prices and distribution through committees of workers and Whrkingwomon. Arrest of the provocateur!
of May 3rd; Rodriguez Salas, Aiguade, etc.
up. u. a4. sift. more. To achieve this, all workers,