- T: “Good
Sextidi, everyone, and welcome to part two (2) of Goth Angel Sinners, a podcast about anarchy, anarchists, and anarchism, and not about Lil Peep.”
- 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.
- T: “Good
- 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.
- Factories, Fields and Firearms: A Brief History of the CNT with Chris Ealham1
- Anarchist Electoralism
- 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 apply?
- 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.
- Revolutionary Catalonia
- 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 happy8,9.”
- “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.”
- 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 documents5.
- 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 of war13.”
- “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 on fear14.”
- 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 incompetence17,18.
- 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 ended.
- 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 linguistics?
- 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 the air.
- 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 evidence.
- 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.”
- Further Reading
- Introduce yourself, etc., etc..
- 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 incrementalism?
- 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 question somehow…
(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 you?
- If time: Have you heard of Lil Peep?
- What do you think of Lil Peep?
- What sort of music are you into?
- Anything you want to plug before you go?
Jessica Thorne and Chris Ealham, “Factories, Fields and Firearms: A Brief History of the CNT with Chris Ealham,” Notes from Below 3 (August 2018). ↩︎
Burnett Bolloten, The Spanish Civil War: Revolution and Counter-Revolution (Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina Press, 1991). ↩︎
Bolloten, Spanish Civil War, 106. ↩︎
Bolloten, Spanish Civil War, 107. ↩︎
Bolloten, Spanish Civil War, 110. ↩︎
Bolloten, Spanish Civil War, 110. ↩︎
Bolloten, Spanish Civil War, 111. ↩︎
Bolloten, Spanish Civil War, 116. ↩︎
Orwell, Homage to Catalonia, 13. ↩︎
Orwell, Homage to Catalonia, 13. ↩︎
Ron Capshaw, “The Man Who Punctured Communism’s Lies about the Spanish Civil War,” National Review, June 1, 2015. ↩︎
Grover Furr, “Anatomy of an Anticommunist Fabrication: The Death of Oliver Law, An Historiographical Investigation,” Reconstruction 8, no. 1 (February 2008). ↩︎
“Catalonia’s bid for independence from Spain explained,” BBC News, January 31, 2018. ↩︎
Raphael Minder, “King of Spain Forcefully Denounces Catalan ‘Disloyalty,’” The New York Times, October 3, 2017. ↩︎
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/… ↩︎
Hanna Strange, “Spanish judge jails proposed Catalan leader hours ahead of planned inauguration,” The Telegraph, March 23, 2018. ↩︎
“Spanish woman given jail term for tweeting jokes about Franco-era assassination,” The Guardian, March 30, 2017. ↩︎
Sam Jones, “Spanish student has conviction for Twitter joke overturned,” The Guardian, March 1, 2018. ↩︎
“Catalonia’s bid for independence from Spain explained,” BBC News, January 31, 2018. ↩︎
“Catalonia: Calls for solidarity as general strike looms,” Solidarity News, October 1, 2017. ↩︎
“Catalan referendum: Catalonia has ‘won the right to statehood,’” BBC News, October 2, 2017. ↩︎