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OVERTURE TO THE SPANISH REVOLUTION

 

Political rotation, which in Spain took the form of Constitutionalists and Absolutionists alternating in power (the clasico turno), collapsed beyond repair with a coup díetat mounted in the capital of Catalonia by a drunken, cantankerous general, in the year 1923.

The dictatorship of Primo de Rivera is the direct outcome of politics pursued amid maladministration, monopolies, bureaucratic perks, rake-offs, concessions and a whole mass of profiteering operated with the blessing of officialdom.

The military reaction of 1923 was a direct result of one of the reasons why our country is impoverished, one which has absorbed nearly the whole national budget.

Spainís colonial perwer spawned a rogueís gallery of adventurers, mercenarias, professional politicians, and a cohort of dealers in cheap flesh.

As long as the bureaucracy of the sabre and the captains of industry had plenty of scope to plunder and loot in the overseas possessions, then Spain as such could go on her way more or less unaffected. But colonial disaster held the key to the collapse of this situation, which was maintained by en unscrupulous, ruthless minority.

At the dose of the XIXth century the military were deprived of the spoils they craved. They had no option but to retum to the peninsula, braid saturated in blood, bearing the shame of beings inept even in their own profession-that of bearing arms.

From that moment forward, the Spanish people have been confronted by a problem fraught with difficulfies. Thousands of these proteges of a syphilific king retumed to devour the natives of the mother country, since they no longer had the opportunity to go on impoverishing the peoples of the colonias, who cursed Spainís representativas as thieves and assassins in generalís sashes and chevrons.

The public exchequer stood in need of en immediate outiet. The Algeciras conference laid the borders of Morocco open to attack. The mines of the Rif, coveted by the Count of Romanones, became an abyss demanding the blood and the money of the Spanish people.

1,000,000,000 pesetas the Moroccan venture has cost the nationís exchequer, plus many thousands of fives sacrificad to the financial cartel representad by the farmer Count of Romanones.

The most startling points in this Spanish slaughter, revolving around the iron deposits in the tribal territory of Beni-Bu-lfrur, near the mountain of Af-Laten, are the tragedias of Baranco del Lobo and Anual.

The military have ever been a millstone about the neck of the working people. Look at the Defence Juntas, of evil memory. The moving spirit behind them, Colonel Marquez, tried to infuse them with a liberal outlook, but La Ciervaís patronage intrigues far outweighed the transitory good will of a colonel who ended up persecuted and imprisoned in Monyuich.

General Primo de Rivera was the incamation of this whole past we have mentioned. Thanks to the strength of Lopez Ochoa - and with the passive help of the bourgeoisie, the latifundists, the clergy, and the financiers - he brandished his sword from the lofty heights of power.

There is written proof that this formar Captain General of Catalonia enterad the fray for the purpose of cancelling out the Picasso inquiryís findings-in which Alfonso XIII and his man of straw, Silvestre the general, were directly implicated. This interpretation of the facts is undoutitedly well-founded; but what precipitated the militaryís move was unquestionably the disquiet among the working class. Having had its fill of outrage and systematic thievery, the working class was preparing to banish those responsible for its misfortune from Spanish soil. The financial and industrial bourgeoisie placed afi their resources at the disposal of the army. They restricted credit, sabotaged the economy, applied the lock-out and provoked strikes. Great displays of rejoicing from the Catalan bourgeoisie greeted the armyís Polish style dictatorship.

The Primo de Rivera era must be categorised as an effort by the ruling class to weaken the working class, who actions were to take on a more positiva form at a later date. This reprisal was en upclated, more comprehensive re-enactment of the past, with the same moral turpitude and eternal arrogance that have martyred the corpse of a Spain that is ever noble in its rags.

This philandering general was replaced by Berenguer who was himself supplanted by Aznar. And, to top it all, it was the Count of Romanones-an agent of the intelligence service-who supervisad the transfer of power from the Monarchy to his formar secretary, Don Niceto Alcala Zamora. He along with the son of Maura and with the assistance of Maranon, the palace physician (and also of the intelligence service), laid the foundations for a Republic which was bound to end in the most frightful stench.

The new Republic was completely unpopular. Instead of following socialist guidelines, forged in the damour of the streets, the same parasites as in the days of the Bourbons, hold sway. Power is in the hands of politicians who were good servants of the monarchy. Alcala Zamora was a recalcitrant monarchist, a representativa of the clergy and latifundists. Azana once belonged to the party of Melquiades Alvarez: Miguel Maura, another royalist; Alejandro Lerroux, a man without honour ...

Disconsolate Spain took the path of betrayals, of useless secret meetings. Aprilís comedy was to be paid for with torrents of blood.

What the April Republic was to bring forth was catastrophe. Son of Ferrerís murderer, author of 108 deaths, the minister who gave the order to fire "at will" tumed our countryside into a network of funeral crosses.

Seeing their hopes violently, crushed, the working masses tumed angrily against the April fiasco. Miguel Maura mobilised the armed forces of his brand-new Republic to crush and destroy the workers. Pasajes Amedo, Castilblanco, Sevilla, Catalonia ... all describe the true nature of the Republic that exiles the monarch but with his monies intact, and conveys him in a ship of the line. Alfonso XIIIís family shook hands warmly with General Sanjurjo. In August 1932, and again in July 1936. The general unleashed attacks on a people betrayed by politicians who had given the general a free hand. He was en assassin with a royalist background. According to reports, the Count of Romanones said in the station at El Escorial: "Hasta muy pronto" (Until we meet again, very soon).

The Republic prattied on in endless exchanges of views. The Constituent Cortes cama up with no solution to any problem.

The question of the army, which only execution pickets could resolve, tumed into farce. Azana allowed the military to retire under such exceptional terms that the effect was an enormous upsurge in the non-productive population whilst the barracks were handed over to the monarchist officer class.

Likewise, the religious issue was side-stepped. The Church should have been expropriated without compensation, not to mention the provision for religion and clerics being eliminated from the nationís budget. This was not done. Instead the refigious orders were legalised, and the droves who seek refuge in 300 religious orders and 6000 conventos (male and female convents) were given citizenship rights. There was no attempt to eradicate this cancer that has eaten away at the Spanish soul for so many centuries. The Mendizabal administration achieved more than this Republic even though the latter had the benefit of en extra hundred yearsí experience. And they failed to confiscate the 5,000,000,000 pesetasíworth of Jesuit investment in the nationís economy. Not was a solution found to the problem of finances. The debts and commitments of the monarchy were acknowledged. The budget rocketed. Non-productive classes expanded and the bureaucracy underwerit tremendous growth. The public debt, standing at 3,000,000,000 pesetas in 1814, grew phenomenally with the colonial losses and the Moroccan disaster- experiencing a slight defiafion at the time of Villaverde-reaching the astronomical sum of 22,000,000,000 in the time of the April Republic.

April 14 brought protection to the rentier and oppression to the consumer. The tax on rent was quite merciless. The policy being applied was plainly a bourgeois one, even if the Socialists were in power. Monopolies remained the order of the day, with the smuggier, March, evading jail as and when he pleased.

Nor was the problem of the statutes any more satisfactorily resolved. There may be talk in one of the articies of the Constitution, of a federal or federative Republic, but for all the tak centralism still prevails.

The agrarian problem ended in fiasco. The Institute for Agrarian Reform was a hotbed of nepotism. 5000 peasants were to be settled each year. Some 5,000,000 needed land. With this laughably optimistic policy of reform the end might have been in sight after a thousand years!

They carne to the labour question armed with a horrendous jargon. Workers control consisted of such delegation of power as friendship and favouritism might allow.

Spainís colonial status became an issue with the Telefonica affair. So, in spite of all Prietoís bravado and the fact that he labetted the Telefonica contract one-sided in a debate in the Ateneo in Madrid and it was better the Telefonica workers be machine-gunned whenever they took to the streets to demand to a just wage-rise rather than North American capital be shored up.

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We have lived through two biennia. The Red and the Black. During both the working ciass were persecuted in dastardly fashion.

The socialists operated as the lackeys of capitalism. The laws for the Defence of the Republic for Public Order, and the Law of April 8th, are wholly repressive in their nature. The Right uses them as it chooses. The workers reaction can be seen in the buming of the conventos, in the events in Barcelona and Figols on January 8th and December 3rd. Deportations to Bata and Villa Cisneros were still more steps towards surrendering the Republic to the proletariatís eternal enemies.

Both biennia were filled with tragedy. Responsibility for the Rightís ocupying a dominant position must be borne by the social democracy. And it is their fault if the revolution has not been able to escape foreign intervention. In April 1931 the ltalian fascists had not extricated themselves from the thom of Adona and the Hitlerites not yet managed to erect a nationalistic, totalitarian state. Circumstances were favourable. But treachery by the socialists and reformism from Pestana and his acolytes prevented the moment of truth, (which was later to cost even more dearly), from arriving.

Out of this ill-assorted hotchpotch of situations surged October.

The overture to July was bom in the Asturias. There the struggle was pursued with courage and ferocity. Inside Catalonia, Dencas set himself the task of alienating the working class from that revolt, which could have been crucial.

All the Socialists wanted to do in October was to prevent Alcala Zamora from handing ovar to the Right -in the same way as they had frightened him before with their strikes. Had they desired revolution they would have exploited the peasant revolt of June 1934 or even timed it to co-ordinate city with countryside. But the socialists were swept aside by the working class.

The Lerroux-Gil Robles govemment lasted two years; two black years of repression and imprisonment culminating in the "free the prisoners" elections (elecciones pro-presos) which bore fruit in the events of July.

 


 

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