By Una Ada(no pronouns) and Chloe(she/her), September 20, 2018
T: “Good Sextidi, everyone, and welcome to part two (2) of Goth Angel
Sinners, a podcast about anarchy, anarchists, and anarchism, and not about
C: “We’re your hosts, I’m Χλόη (Chloe)…”
T: “…and I’m @trewbot…”
C: “…here today to talk about Catalonia.”
There are topics planned for the show pertaining to historical movements
and events, but we don’t really want to be a history podcast per se. When
we talk about such things we’ll be focused on the ideas that are evident in
them and discussing those ideas beyond just the historical example.
Confederación Nacional del Trabajo (CNT)
Factories, Fields and Firearms: A Brief History of the CNT with Chris
Created as an aggressive union, first fighting for the 9 hour work day
then against the draft.
“If we were to put a label on the CNT at birth, it would be most accurate
to call it revolutionary syndicalist - it was established by a varied
group of anarchists, republicans, socialists, anarcho-syndicalists.”
“Spanish workers were among the poorest in Europe and the subsistence
capitalist economy was in near-permanent malaise. Spain had lost its
Empire when other European powers were building theirs and there was
nothing like the labour aristocracy that existed in England and Germany,
where a minority of better off workers might even get to buy a house.”
Started out primarily within Barcelona but spread into a national union,
organizing industry and agriculture in all sectors (including rail :).
There were splits in the CNT over the adoption of syndicalism and
federations, some industries adopted it and others did not. This left the
CNT weakened in its structure leading up to the Spanish Civil War.
There’s a section in the article about what made the CNT unique and it’s
too long to just quote here but it’s definitely worth looking at.
In late 1936, members of the CNT-FAI joined the Catalan government in an
attempt to counter what they feared to be potential effects of the
Generalitat of Catalonia being completely controlled by the Unified
Socialist Party of Catalonia (PSUC)2.
Is it contradictory for an anarchist to seek political office? Why is the
answer no and how is this totally like the iPhone argument?
Per the philosophy of a “diversity of tactics” we should seize every
opportunity to improve the conditions people live under; in a lot of
cases there is much that can be done by seeking political office.
Like the iPhone argument, the argument against doing this is often
predicated on the idea that partaking in something validates that thing’s
existence. However, the existence of the State is validated by it’s
control of violence rather than people becoming part of it.
The Weebertarians page made a point3 relevant to this:
“Some anarchists feel that the transition to statelessness cannot take
place without first working through the state to protect people from its
collapse and then rebuild from there.”
“The end will always be a reflection of the means so create the means how
they would be in the end to have a natural transition.”
Must prefigurative politics be exclusive or does a diversity of tactics
If not to expressly use the powers given to an elected candidate to damage
the state or even to improve material conditions of those living under said
state, the act of campaigning itself remains a platform. This point is made
by Jae Em Carico with regards to their current bid for the U.S. Senate in
This point was replaced with an interview with Jae Em Carico, see the
section titled “Interview” below.
Difficult to completely determine how successfully collectivization spread
throughout the Republic and so Catalonia as well since it was, in most
cases, done outside of legal systems and thus not recorded in legal
Estimation is half to two thirds of cultivated land.
Not totally relevant but the larger landowners fled because the
Revolution scared the shit out of them, so expropriated farms were
usually owned by small/medium landowners.
Farmers weren’t allowed to hold more land than they could cultivate
themselves, hired labor was banned. This leads to the further restriction
that they could also cultivate no more crops than they could transport
themselves. These rules were intended to be enforced by essentially
embargoing farmers who did not follow them and were primarily accomplished
within anarcho-syndicalist townships (socialist groups were more willing to
allow tenant farmers)6.
Distribution and justice were handled by local committees of the CNT-FAI;
churches were either burned or used as storehouses for collective goods to
be distributed or repurposed for some other community purpose (school,
dining hall, barracks, etc.)7.
“Rockefeller, if you were to come to Fraga with your entire bank account
you would not be able to buy a cup of coffee. Money, your God and your
servant, has been abolished here, and the people are
“Locally produced goods such as bread, wine, and olive oil were distributed
freely if abundant, while other articles could be obtained with coupons at
the communal depot. Surplus goods were exchanged with other Anarchist towns
and villages; money was used only for transactions with communities that
had not adopted the new system10.”
In some towns, they used a coupon system rather than circulated currency,
where the coupon would be stamped at your workplace and would then be valid
at local shops. It’s basically still money, a.k.a. Not Cool.
Currency in this case was held by the committee for exchange with other
communities that still used currency systems, otherwise trade was done
with goods alone. Residents could also receive money from the committee
if they intended to go a place where it was necessary.
Other towns completely did away with any exchange systems opting for raw
distribution of all foods. Given the production at the time, this led to
lack of stock in stores.
Some communities abolished alcohol and tobacco. They thought they were cool
because some moral distinction between them and the middle class or
something but really they just sucked, imo.
Me in “the richest country on Earth” in 2018: “Please sir may I see a
doctor for just a regular checkup?” Insurance company: “No, you sack of
shit, go get a full-time job in another state or something.” Whereas in
“I was seated near the secretary when a woman came in to ask permission
to go to Ciudad Real in order to consult a specialist about a stomach
ailment. Without bureaucratic dilatoriness she immediately received the
cost of her journey11.”
The Spanish Civil War
Actually not that much interesting to be discussed about it, violent
revolution sucks in general.
The organization of revolutionary forces as a voluntary militia does
provide an example of non-hierarchical principles in practice even when
divisions of forces are necessary, however12.
In Ch.3 of Homage, Orwell says “Often I used to gaze round the wintry
landscape and marvel at the futility of it all. The inconclusiveness of
such a kind of war!” which brings about the questions of: what sort of
war did he believe wouldn’t be futile?
“The essential point of the system was social equality between officers
and men. Everyone from general to private drew the same pay, ate the same
food, wore the same clothes, and mingled on terms of complete equality.
If you wanted to slap the general commanding the division on the back and
ask him for a cigarette, you could do so, and no one thought it curious.
In theory at any rate each militia was a democracy and not a hierarchy.
It was understood that orders had to be obeyed, but it was also
understood that when you gave an order you gave it as comrade to comrade
and not as superior to inferior. There were officers and N.C.O.S. but
there was no military rank in the ordinary sense; no titles, no badges,
no heel-clicking and saluting. They had attempted to produce within the
militias a sort of temporary working model of the classless society. Of
course there was no perfect equality, but there was a nearer approach to
it than I had ever seen or than I would have thought conceivable in time
“Later it became the fashion to decry the militias, and therefore to
pretend that the faults which were due to lack of training and weapons
were the result of the equalitarian system. Actually, a newly raised
draft ‘of militia was an undisciplined mob not because the officers
called the private ‘Comrade’ but because raw troops are always an
undisciplined mob. In practice the democratic ‘revolutionary’ type of
discipline is more reliable than might be expected. In a workers’ army
discipline is theoretically voluntary. It is based on class-loyalty,
whereas the discipline of a bourgeois conscript army is based ultimately
Orwell then goes on to discuss how he personally experienced this system
as a Lieutenant, never having difficulty with anyone disobeying orders
under this system; he also goes on to describe that they militarily had
success regardless of the internal structure.
The Spanish Civil War is often used as a description of leftist infighting,
particularly between Communists and anarchists (where the Weimar Republic
is often used to describe the Communist-Social Democrat divide). Of course,
phrases like “infighting” and “sectarianism” only work if you believe it is
reasonable to combine the groups to begin with.
“No bigwigs, no literary greats, no “pillar saints” such as Lenin, Marx
or Stalin had been necessary to inspire the Spanish people against their
subjugates, to fight against the drones of human society and at the same
time to develop the constructive guarantees for a free to build a
classless social order15.”
The International Brigades were created by the ComIntern and thus had all
the sorts of controversies one can expect when dealing with Soviet
According to William Herrick, the International Brigades (including the
Abraham Lincoln Brigade of which he was a member) answered to the
Communist chain of command16.
Of course, Herrick is surrounded with controversy due to his claims
that Oliver Law, the first African-American in charge of an integrated
unit, was shot and killed by members of the brigade as a response to
There’s a lot of writing about this on both sides and it’s really out
of the scope for a podcast of this length so I’ll leave this open
According to an interview with Miguel Rico, the Communists attempted to
militarize the militias19. This included prosecuting anarchists for
“collaborating with fascists” to retain order as directed by the Soviets.
Catalonian Independence (2017)
Accusations that anarchists supported the referendum due to the existence
of Revolutionary Catalonia in 1936 as opposed to the support of a group of
people’s right to self determination.
What was the referendum actually about? From an article by the BBC20:
“A 2006 statute granted even greater powers, boosting Catalonia’s
financial clout and describing it as a “nation”, but Spain’s
Constitutional Court reversed much of this in 2010.”
“The 2008 financial crash and Spanish public spending cuts fuelled local
resentment and separatism.”
Is self determination for nations or regions that intend to found nations a
reasonable thing to accept for anarchists?
The answer depends on whether or not the (????)
Declaration that the referendum was “undemocratic” by the Spanish
King21. A continuation of the fascist/monarchist systems that Spain has
maintained in opposition to republicanism.
The formation of the modern Spanish government and the end of the Franco
Era brought about Autonomous Communities (comparable to states).
Spain is “not a federation” because the country is inherently unitary but
power is “devolved” to the communities22.
Since the Spanish government declares itself as “democratic,” it defines
“democratic” as whatever falls in line with its policies.
Is this the most egregious transgression ever to occur in the realm of
Can this system of Government even be considered Democratic?
Former president of Catalonia went into exile following referendum,
members of his administration were jailed, and the Spanish government
practically installed a new president23.
Historical Anecdote: Admiral Luis Carrero Blanco’s assassination in 1973.
Blanco was prime minister and heir apparent in Franco’s regime.
Assassinated on December 20, 1973 by the Basque separatist group Eta
using a car bomb that launched his vehicle on the order of 20 feet into
In March of 2017, Cassandra Vera was arrested in Spain for “glorifying
terrorism” after she made several jokes about the incident24. Her
sentence was later overturned, probably because it seemed a bit too
fascist even for Spain25.
Economic arguments against Catalan Independence were extremely common
around the time of the referendum.
Catalonia provides more in taxes to Spain than they receive back
Catalonia is responsible for about 20% of Spain’s economy
“Catalonia is one of Spain’s wealthiest regions, making up 16% of the
national population and accounting for almost 19% of Spanish GDP26.”
The argument says that Catalonia leaving Spain would result in less money
going towards poor people in Spain through taxation and redistribution
Fascist monarchies tend to not take money from rich people or give it
to poor people, so idk where this idea is even coming from
“It robin hoods”
As a response to the violence displayed by the Spanish government,
anarchists throughout Catalonia called for a general strike on October 3,
2017, which was then backed by the CNT27.
In the end, turnout was 42.3% with about 90% voting for independence
(supposedly because the unionists boycotted the referendum, lol)28.
Continued movements for and against Catalan Independence
The IWW Ireland recently released a statement29 in support of CNT members
‘Jorge’ and ‘Pablo’ who were arrested during the general strike in
November, 2012 based solely on police accounts without any further
T: “Be sure to follow us on twitter at ‘goth angel sinners with no
vowels’. We have a patreon you can donate to so we don’t have to spend
campaign funds on Steam games, at ‘patreon dot com slash goth angel sinners
with no vowels’. We have an instagram, at the same username we used for the
previous two accounts. You can follow me on twitter at ‘trewbot’…”
C: “…and I’m at ‘shitpostscarcity with no i in shit.’”
T: “Have a good night and be sure to join us next Sextidi, uhh, there
isn’t another another Sextidi for fifteen (15) days so it’ll be on Primidi
actually, join us then for part three (3) of Goth Angel Sinners when we
discuss another historical event: The Paris Commune.”
The biggest question, and the one that brought about this whole interview,
pertains to the combination of anarchism and electoralism. A lot of
anarchists believe it’s irresponsible to vote let alone run for office, what
is your defense against this sort of idea?
How would you distinguish the way you intend to use your office from
Just come up with follow up questions depending on their response, I
believe in you and you should to!
We also have some policy related questions as well, first being derived from
a lot of recent discussions we’ve had regarding theft. Actually make this a
(If elected, what would you do to make sure every nazi is publicly
executed?While this is an excellent question it does seem a bit too
“putting words in their mouth” for an interview). If elected, in what ways
would you use your office to continue your activism against fascism?
If needed: “They’re more interested in protecting white supremacists than
they are those who oppose literal Nazis30.”
Your Facebook username31 is “Catalonia2Rojava,” what does this mean to
I’d look for an actual reference about the Spanish government here, but
as it’s really just a cursory overview I’m fine with simply linking the
Wikipedia article about this: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/…↩︎