7.After May


The CNT leadership moved that members of the Friends of Durruti Group be expelled, but it never could get that measure ratified by any assembly of unions.1 The CNI membership sympathized with the revolutionary opposition embodied in the Group. Not that this means that they subscribed either to the activities or the thinking of Friends of Durruti, but they did understand their stance and respected, indeed supported, their criticisms of the CNT leadership.2

The CNT leadership deliberately used and abused the allegation "marxist," which was the worst conceivable term of abuse among anarchists and one that was repeatedly used against the Group and more specifically against Balius. There is nothing in the Group's theoretical tenets, much less in the columns of El Amigo del Pueblo, or in their various manifestoes and handbills to merit the description "marxist" being applied to the Group. They were simply an opposition to the CNT leadership's collaborationist policy, making their stand within the organization and upon anarcho-syndicalist ideology. The first issue of El Amigo del Pueblo was published lawfully on May 19,3 many of its galley proofs erased by the censors. The red and black broad sheet cover page carried a drawing showing a smiling Durruti holding the red and black flag aloft. Number 1 bore no date. The editorial and administrative offices were listed as No. 1, first floor, Rambla de las Flores. The paper proclaimed itself the mouthpiece of the Friends of Durruti. Balius was listed as editor-in-chief, and Eleuterio Roig, Pablo Ruiz and Domingo Paniagua as editors. The most intriguing article which bore Balius's signature was entitled "For the record, We are not agents provocateurs," in which Balius deplored the insults and aspersions emanating from the CNT's own ranks. He mentioned the handbill and the manifesto issued in May, claiming that he had not reprinted these because they would assuredly and inevitably have been censored. He directly attacked Solidaridad Obrera4 for its venomous attitude towards the Friends of Durruti and refuted the slurs emanating from the CNT leadership: "We are not agents provocateurs."

No. 2, which displays no censored passages, had a print run of fifteen thousand copies.5 The colored cover page showed a drawing commemorating Ascaso's death in the attack upon the Atarazanas barracks. This issue was date-lined Barcelona, Wednesday May 26, 1937. The cover bore the following notice:

The squalid treatment which the censors have meted out to us requires us to give it the slip. The impertinence of erasing our most insignificant remarks is a shame and a disgrace. We cannot, nor will we put up with it. Slaves, no!

Consequently, this edition was not presented for censorship and was published clandestinely,6 Prominent in this issue was the denunciation of the watchwords issued by the UGT, the Stalinist-controlled union which had expelled the POUMists from its ranks and asked that the CNT treat the Friends of Durruti likewise. It carried no article with Balius's byline. However, two articles stand out, not so much on account of any intrinsic worth but rather on account of the mentality they mirror. One of them, signed by "Fulmen" drew parallels between the French Revolution of 1793 and the Spanish revolution in 1937, between Marat and Balius and between the Jabobins and the durrutistas. Another, uncredited article denounced a series of leading Catalanist personalities living in Paris on retainers from the Generalidad. A comparison was also made in a populist, demagogic way, between the salaries received by Companys and other politicians and the pay of militians and the difficulties of raising funds to keep the war going, Both these articles are interesting, in that they indicate a workerist, demagogic outlook, which seems to have tied in very well with the day-to-day economic straits and discomforts of the common people, and which was not commonly found in the rest of the newspapers of the time. This, we may say, was a characteristic feature of El Amigo del Pueblo. This edition's editorial comment, which was carried on the back cover under the title "The Negrin government," bemoaned the formation of a counter-revolutionary government under Communist Party sponsorship as a result of the May events, the short-term objective of it being to disarm the working class and form a bourgeois army. The editorial categorized the resolution of the crisis in the Valencia government as a clear example of colonial intervention [Russian intervention, it was implied]. Balius was jailed and refused bail (around mid-June) over this editorial, although he was never brought to trial, since the Tribunal charged with hearing the case ordered him released. A fortnight after that release, (around mid-October) he was jailed again (at the start of November) for two months, under a preventive detention order, and handed over to Commissioner Burillo.7 Thus he was incarcerated for some nine months in all and only escaped a third period behind bars because he fled Barcelona to avoid it.

Issue No. 3 bore the date June 12, 1937, claimed to h4ve been published in Barcelona and was now entirely without color. This issue seemed a lot more pugnacious, and the articles had a lot more bite to them. There were denunciations of the murder of several anarchist militants, encroachments against the Control Patrols which it was intended to Outlaw, and the text of their May handbill was quoted and its content explained. It was announced as imminent events crucial to the future of the revolution, which was in immediate danger.8 There was an uncredited article, ascribable to Fulmen, on the French Revolution: news of the military successes of the anarchist Cipriano Mera on the Madrid front: some poems by Eleuterio Roig: an article by Santana Calero in which he averred that imitating Durruti meant not appeasement, but rather, advocacy of the latter's ideological positions on the necessity of winning the war if they were to be free: Durruti's radio broadcast from the Madrid front was reprinted: there was a demagogic article on the Aragon front and the rearguard: a scathing denunciation of the latest statements by Peiró regarding the introduction of a republic like the one in existence prior to July 19 : and above all, most interestingly of all, an article entitled "Apropos of the May Events" in which the Friends of Durruti retracted the description "traitors" used in their Manifesto of May 8th about the CNT’s leading committees, and simultaneously asked that the description "agents provocateurs" used about the Friends of Durruti by the CNT be retracted too.

In issue No. 4, dated June 22, 1937, there was a report of Balius’s having been detained without bail. Prominently displayed on the cover was the Group's schedule of demands (already re-vamped several times since it had first appeared in the manifesto issued in late March 1937), which proposed draconian measures like compulsory unionization, purges of the rearguard, rationing, arming of the proletariat, disbanding of the agencies of repression, etc. . . . aimed at defending a revolution menaced by the reaction, and winning the war against the fascists:

We, 'irresponsible agents provocateurs,' call for: trade union direction of economic and social life. The free municipality.

The army and public order to be overseen by the working class.

Dissolution of the Armed Corps. Retention of the Defense Committees and Defense Councilorships,

Arms must be in the possession of the proletariat. Rifles are the ultimate guarantee of the revolution's gains. No one but the working class may have access to them. Abolition of ranks. Fortifications battalions to be made up of the Proletariat's enemies.

Compulsory unionization. Employment bureaus. An end to references in securing employment. Ration cards. Obligatory labor. The rearguard must live for the war.

Socialization of all the means of production and exchange. A fight to the death against fascism and its accomplices. Purging of the rearguard. Establishment of neighborhood committees.

Immediate introduction of the family wage, with no bureaucratic exceptions. The war and the revolution must touch us all equally. Suspension of the bourgeois Parliament. Suspension of passports.

Mobilization against the counterrevolution.

Absolute non-compliance with the coercive measures of the State, such as enforcement of censorship, disarming of the workers, State confiscation of radio stations, etc.

Resolute opposition to Municipalization of the means of production until such time as the working class enjoys absolute mastery of the country.

Reversion to our organizations' revolutionary tenor in full.

Utter opposition to governmental collaboration, it being utterly counter-productive in the emancipation of the proletariat.

War to the death against speculators, bureaucrats and those behind the rise in the cost of living. On a war footing against any armistice.

On page 2, the following announcement or reminder appeared; "Revolutionary Program of the Friends of Durruti Group:

A revolutionary junta.

Economic power to the unions. Free municipalities.

We want to step up a gear. We are anarchists."

In addition, there was the customary poem from Eleuterio Roig, the usual article by Fulmen on the French Revolution, and a piece by Santana Calero urging the Libertarian youth and the FAI to get to work in the trade unions and reaffirming the need to win the war and prosecute the revolution simultaneously. Of course, outstanding was a memorable article by Jaime Balius entitled "In self-defense. I require an explanation." In this article, Balius defended himself against the charge that he was a marxist, a charge leveled at him by the CNT leaders and CNT press as the most wounding insult of all.

In issue No. 5 of El Amigo del Pueblo, dated July 20, 1937, and printed in a smaller format, the same address is given for the paper's administration and editorial offices as in the very first issue, even though the Group's offices had been shut down by the police and the newspaper was being printed clandestinely. This was part of a ploy to throw police inquiries off the scent. They thought that El Amigo del Pueblo was probably being printed in France by then, in Perpignan or in Montpellier, with the help of French anarchists, although in fact it was still being published in Barcelona. Starting with this edition, and in all succeeding issues of El Amigo del Pueblo, all articles were unsigned, except for the occasional one published under an alias. At no time did Balius allow his imprisonment to interfere with his contributing to editorials, sometimes even writing articles from prison.

Issue No. 5 is one of the most interesting of the El Amigo del Pueblo series. Page one carries an editorial entitled "A revolutionary theory." That article alone would be enough to highlight the political and historical importance of the Friends of Durruti, not just in relation to the history of the civil war, but in anarchist ideology. In the editorial, the Friends of Durruti ascribed the progress of the counterrevolution and the failure of the CNT, following its incontrovertible, absolute triumph in July 1936, to one single factor: lack of a revolutionary program. And this had also been behind the defeat in May 1937. The conclusion to which they had come is spelled out with tremendous clarity:

the downward spiral [of the revolution] must be attributed exclusively to the absence of a specific program and short-term achievements, and to the fact that, on this score, we have fallen into the snares of counterrevolutionary sectors just when circumstances were plainly taking a favorable turn as far as meeting the proletariat's aspirations was concerned, And by failing to give free rein to July's awakening along plainly class lines, we have rendered possible petit bourgeois rule which could never ever have come about, had a unanimous determination to place the proletariat in the driving scat in this country prevailed.

[ ... ] making the blunder of thinking that a revolution of the social type could share its economic and social dynamics with enemy sectors. [ ... ]

In May the problem was posed anew. Once again the talk was of supremacy in the direction of the revolution. But the very same persons who, in July, took fright at the danger of foreign intervention, come the events of May, displayed a lack of vision which culminated in that baleful 'cease-fire' which, later, despite a truce's having been agreed, translated as an ongoing disarmament and ruthless repression of the working class. [ ... ]

So that, by denying ourselves a program, which is to say, libertarian communism, we surrender ourselves entirely to our adversaries, who did and still do have a program and guidelines [ ... ] to the petit-bourgeois parties which ought to have been stamped out in July and in May. In our view, any other sector, had it enjoyed an absolute majority such as we possessed, would have set itself up as absolute master of the situation.

In the preceding edition of our newspaper we spelled out a program. We are alive to the necessity for a revolutionary junta, for the unions to have control of the economy and for the Municipalities to organize freely. Our Group has sought to trace a path, for fear lest circumstances similar to July and May, might see us perform the same way. And success lies in the existence of a program which must be unwaveringly backed by rifles [ ... ]

Revolutions without theory fail to make progress. We of the 'Friends of Durruti' have outlined our thinking, which may be amended as appropriate in great social upheavals, but which hinges upon two essential points which cannot be avoided. A program, and rifles.

This is a crucial text, for it represents a landmark in the evolution of anarchist thinking. The theoretical notions set out here, previously sketched only in a very confused way, are now spelled out with dazzling clarity. And these theoretical acquisitions were later to be reiterated and thought through in Balius's pamphlet Hacia una nueva revolución. But here they appear for the first time. And no one can fail to appreciate the novelty and significance of them in the context of anarchist thought. The Friends of Durruti had picked up old theoretical concepts, at which they had arrived at the end of a painful historical experience, over a civil war and revolutionary process, which had starkly exposed the contradictions and demands of the class struggle. Are we to believe, then, that this evolution in the political thinking of the Friends of Durruti can seriously and verifiably be ascribed to the influence of some outside group, say, Trotskyists or POUMists? It is beyond dispute that this is an evolution attributable to the Friends of Durruti Group exclusively. In their analysis of the political and historical situation, they had come to the conclusion that, in a revolution, there was an ineluctable requirement that a Revolutionary Junta be established. Naturally, the Friends of Durruti shunned the characteristic terminology of marxism,9 and employed a different idiom, characteristic of anarchist ideology: and that idiom in which they frame the notion of "dictatorship of the proletariat," is further proof that we are dealing here with evolution internal to the Group, rather than its being colonized or captivated by some outside group. Social and historical realities are stubborn enough and tough enough to ensure that the elements of revolutionary theory can germinate in a revolutionary group which simply keeps its eyes open and its mind alert.

In the same edition of the paper, there was an analysis of events since May, which included a denunciation of the incarceration and trial of POUM militants by the Stalinists, and the destruction of the collectives. Pointed contrasts were drawn between the ease in which the middle classes, the Stalinists' spawning ground, lived, and the persecution of revolutionary workers. There was also Fulmen's usual piece on the French Revolution, outlining an interesting contrast between the French revolutionary process and the Spanish. Finally, there was an outstanding long article denouncing abortive attempts on the part of the CNT's leading committees to have the Friends of Durruti expelled.

Issue No. 6 of El Amigo del Pueblo is dated Barcelona, August 12, 1937. The editorial is headed "Necessity of a Revolutionary Junta" reiterating the previous edition's editorial about the need for a revolutionary junta and arguing that a revolutionary junta ought to have been set up in July 1936:

From the July movement we must conclude that the revolution's enemies must be ruthlessly crushed. This was one of the chief mistakes for which we are now paying with interest. This defensive mission will fall to the revolutionary junta which must show the enemy no mercy. [ ... ]

The establishment of a revolutionary Junta is of capital importance. It is not a matter of yet another abstraction. It is the outcome of a series of failures and disasters. And is the categorical amendment of the trajectory followed hitherto.

In July an antifascisr committee was set up which was not equal to the implications of that sublime hour. How could the embryo thrown up by the barricades have developed, incorporating as it did the friends and foes of the. revolution alike? The antifascist committee, with that make-up, was scarcely the embodiment of the fighting in July. 10

we advocate that the only participants in the revolutionary Junta should be the workers of city and countryside and the combatants who have shown themselves, at every crucial juncture in the conflict, to be the champions of social revolution. [ ... ]

the'Friends of Durruti Group'which knew enough to work out a precise critique of the May events is even now sensible of the need to establish a revolutionary Junta, along the lines we have in mind, and we regard it as indispensable for the defense of the revolution [ ... ]

The evolution of the Friends of Durruti's political thinking was by now unstoppable. After the necessity of a dictatorship of the proletariat had been acknowledged, the next issue to arise was: And who is to extrcise that dictatorship of the proletariat? The answer was: the revolutionary Junta, promptly defined as the vanguard of revolutionaries. And its role? We cannot believe that it can be anything other than the one which marxists ascribe to the revolutionary party.

However, in No. 2 of La Voz Lenihista, Munis was critical of issue No 6 of El Amigo del Pueblo because he regarded its contents as a retreat from the same formulas devised by the Friends of Durruti Group during, and in the immediate aftermath of the May events.

Issue No. 6 also carried a report on the trial mounted against the POUM and on the murder of Nin, for which the government in place was held to be accountable: in addition to the customary article on the French Revolution, there were some others of lesser interest. On the back page there was a printer's stamp reading "Imp. Libertaria-Perpignan." There is every likelihood that this was a false trail laid for the police, for El Ainigo del Pueblo was still being printed in Barcelona.11

Issue No. 7 of the newspaper was datelined Barcelona, September 31,12 and there were several articles which stood out: on the repression unleashed in Aragon by the Stalinists in the wake of the dissolution of the Council of Aragon and the break-up of the anarchist collectives: rebutting the false allegations about the Friends of Durruti peddled by Agustin Souchy in an anonymous pamphlet published by Ediciones Ebro: opposing the re-introduction of freedom of religion: protesting at the unreasonable increase in basic living costs, etc, There was also an outstanding note of humor, very indicative of the times, which went as follows:

We move the immediate expulsion from our Organization of persons by the name of Mikhail Bakunin, Peter Kropotkin, Sébastien Faure, Errico Malatesta and Ricardo Mella.

By way of compensating for these expulsions, we move that a tribute be paid to the ‘interventionists,’ on account of their having successfully defeated the counterrevolutionary peril.

Our 'orthodoxy renders us incompatible with those who furnish ideological and material sustenance to ‘uncontrollables,’ while it also fills us with admiration for the glorious ‘infallibility’ of the great interpreters of ‘circumstance.’

The editorial analyzed the import of the May events, which the Friends of Durruti held to be an insurrection intended to remedy the mistakes made since July. It railed against the fence sitting by certain prominent anarchist militants whose resistance of “totalitarian temptations” amounted to nothing more than an abdication of the introduction of libertarian communism. Repeatedly, it was argued that anarchists had to learn the lessons of experience:

Totalitarian solutions have been shunned. An official seal has been set upon the decision to refrain from establishing libertarian communism! The line which anarchism is to take - according to the declarations from comrades in positions of responsibility - is that no antifascist denomination should seek selfish advantage [. . .] Neither dictatorships nor democracies! it is argued. Where are we headed? Without a program of our own, we are in danger of remaining an appendage of bourgeois democracy and risk becoming the victims of any sector that operates with audacity. [. . . ]

Our present hour should be read exclusively in the light of past experience. If we persist in shutting our eyes to reality, which still stinks of the battlefield, the jails and the overall onslaught of the counterrevolution, we will be brutally driven out of the Peninsula.

We may yet salvage the revolution. [. . .] Experience is a very hard taskmaster and from it we must deduce that we have to assert ourselves with the force of firepower and that we must annihilate those forces which are enemies of the working class and the revolution.

Let us bear in mind the lessons of experience. Therein lies our salvation.

There was no plea for a deus ex machina: the Friends of Durruti were anarchists who had learned the lessons of the harshest firsthand experience. What novelties they introduced to anarchist theory may well have been old marxist postulates, themselves merely elementary lessons from the class struggle. But anyone who bandies about labels and regards that as having settled the matter is ill-advised. If the firsthand experience of the proletariat in the class struggle is not enough to remedy errors and if history has nothing to teach us from past struggles, we are left with an affirmation of the primacy of dogma and belief and a denial that there is any validity in experience and history.

The editorial in issue No. 8 of El Amigo del Pueblo, datelined Barcelona September 21, 1937, labored the need for a program if the revolution was to have Any prospect of success. As with the ideas set out previously, it had nothing new to contribute. The remainder of the articles, which were fairly interesting, dealt with a variety of topics: food supplies, opposition to nationalist commemoration of the feast of September 11, the Aragon front, Angel Pestaña’s return to the CNT fold.

In issue No. 9, dated October 20, 1937 carried an interesting manifesto, rehearsing the history of their origins and revolutionary action, as well as a programmatic inventory of the Group's political standpoints; this proved very controversial and was much commented upon, so much so that issue No. 10, dated November 8, 1937, carried an editorial defending it. The same edition greeted the appearance of Alerta, described as an ideologically kindred newspaper. There was unmistakable venom towards Comorera, who was savagely criticized for his policy as the man in charge of supplies, and for having dismissed the fighters of July 19 as “tribesmen.” There was a report that Balius had been jailed again “following a period at liberty that has lasted barely fifteen or twenty days” 13: he was convicted as the editor of El Amigo del Pueblo which was condemned as a clandestine newspaper in that it had refused to present itself for censorship since issue No. 2. The most interesting articles were entitled “We must speak plainly” and “An historic juncture.” In humorous tones, it rebutted the usual charges hurled by the CNT at members of the Group who were labeled as “uncontrollables, provoca-

teurs and counterrevolutionaries.” After defending the Group’s members and rehearsing their revolutionary and combat credentials, the article very tellingly declined to level any charges against the CNT and the FAI, on the grounds that “that would poison the waters of the spring from which we all must drink.” Plain in this article is the Friends of Durruti’s tremendously limited vision of their own fight. They confined themselves to gentle carping about the “wayward” leaders of the CNT and counted their avoidance of expulsion from the unions as their ultimate achievement. Their view was that, sooner or later, the two divergent strands of anarcho-syndicalism would have to come together, for, otherwise, they could not avoid being crushed by Stalinist dictatorship. It was plain from this article that the Group was drifting further and further from the radicalized stances it had struck in May. The second article deserving of comment, “An historic juncture,” analyzed the unfavorable course of the war, as signaled by the fascists’ uninterrupted victorious advance and their foreign backing. The Friends of Durruti wondered why whole provinces like Malaga or the North had been surrendered without their stores, industries or foodstuffs - which provided booty for the enemy - having been destroyed. The Group noted that the war on the Aragon front had been lost because of the central government’s withholding of arms, because those arms would have gone to the CNT. The war effort was beset by treachery, because the officer class had not been purged, and because there was no fighting moral in the rearguard, and because bourgeois politicians had no thought for anything other than amassing a tidy fortune abroad. The Friends of Durruti called upon workers to win the war, and this call boiled down to the following ten points:

1.   Establishment of a Revolutionary Junta.

2.   All economic power to the unions.

3.   Socialization of production and consumption.

4.   Introduction of the producer’s cart.

5.   Mobilization of the entire population.

6.   Purging of the rearguard.

7.   Workers’ control of the army.

8.   The family wage. Abolition of all privileges.

9.   Free municipality. Public order to be placed in workers’ hands.

10.  Rationing of consumption across the board.

This, though, was merely a list of demands. There was no hint as to how they might be achieved, nor of the tactics to be employed in order to campaign for them, So it was merely the exposition of a theoretical program for winning the war, a program beyond the Group’s actual powers to implement, one which it in any case was not proposing seriously, but only

as a propaganda or lobbying ploy. But direction of the war, or control of the army, or socialization of the economy, of control of public order could scarcely be mere demands: because power is not sued for, but seized. Consequently, we may claim that the Group was, at this point, far removed from playing any real part. It seemed to have run out of steam: and was becoming a mere shadow of its former self. The program, the demands, which may have been valid prior to May, were now a sad caricature and testified to the Group’s utter powerlessness in a situation which had become thoroughly counterrevolutionary.

Issue No. 11 of El Amigo del Pueblo was dated November 20, 1937, the anniversary of Durruti’s death and was almost entirely given over to commemorating that popular anarchist hero. Among the articles commenting with more or less success upon the person of Durruti, the most outstanding was undoubtedly the one entitled “Commenting on Durruti,” in which Solidaridad Obrera was taken to task over Durruti’s ideology and intentions. According to the author of the piece, Soli was arguing that Durruti had been ready to abjure every revolutionary principle for the sake of success in the war. The writer in El Amigo del Pueblo saw this contention as wrong-headed and the worst possible insult that could have been offered to Durruti’s memory. The version of Durruti’s ideology14 offered by the Group was the very opposite of the one proffered by Soli:

Durruti at no time abjured the revolution. While he did say that we had to abjure everything save victory, what he meant was that we had to be ready to face the greatest privation, and to lose our very lives, rather than let fascism defeat us.

But in Durruti’s mouth, the notion of victory does not imply the slightest dissociation of the war and the revolution. [. . .] We do not believe - and of this we are certain - that Durruti was arguing that the class which had won everything at the cost of the greatest sacrifices should be the one to give ground constantly and compromise to the advantage of the adversary class. [. . .]

Durruti was keen to win the war, but he had his sights on the rearguard. [. . . ] Buenaventura Durruti never forswore the revolution. Nor do we, the Friends of Durruti, forswear it.

No. 12 of El Amigo del Pueblo, dated February 1, 1938, carried a prominent editorial: “All power to the unions,” expounding upon that particular point in the Group’s program. There were various items on the battle for Teruel, urban transport and Montjuic prison, speculation in the food sector and the corruption obtaining on the borders.

No. 12 was probably the last issue of El Amigo del Pueblo. However, Jordi Arquer, in his short history of the Friends of Durruti argues that a total of 15 issues saw publication; and Balius, in his letter of June 10, 1946 to Burnett Bolloten, says that it published right to the end of 1938, Our supposition is based upon Balius’s claim in the foreword to the English edition of that pamphlet, Towards a Fresh Revolution that the Group’s final gathering took place after publication of that pamphlet, Given that No. 12 of El Amigo del Pueblo mentions the recent publication of Towards . . . we may conclude that following publication of the pamphlet in January 1938, and of No. 12 of the Group’s press mouthpiece on February 1, 1938, the Group held its final meeting and to all intents carried out no further activity for the remainder of the war. This supposition is in any case borne out by the swingeingly effective repression that made life impossible for any revolutionary group. In January 1938, Fosco fled to France to escape arrest. February 13, 1938 saw the capture of the Bolshevik-Leninist Section by police, along with the arrest of the printer Baldomero Palau, from whose printshop La Voz Leninista and El Amigo del Pueblo was published. On April 19 the underground committee of POUM (José Rovira, Jordi Arquer, Oltra Picó, José Rodés, Maria Teresa Garcia Banús, Juan Farré Gassó, Wilebaldo Solano, etc.) was arrested.

Later, in the 1960s, a second series of El Amigo del Pueblo was published, apparently funded by an inheritance which had come Balius’s way, This second series, four issues of which we have examined, contains nothing of interest. Balius’s name appears nowhere and Pablo Ruiz is listed as the editor-in-chief. The most remarkable feature of it was that every edition contained a poster for members in the interior, inside Spain itself, to paste up on walls by way of clandestine propaganda.




1. In his article “Por los fueros de la verdad,” Balius has this to say: “Later came the ukase from the higher committees ordering our expulsion, but this was rejected by the rank and file in the trade union assemblies and at a plenum of FAI groups held in the Casa CNT-FAL.”

2. The welcome and widespread sympathy won by the Friends of Durruti from the CNT membership are evident, not just in the powerlessness of the CNT committees and leadership to secure their expulsion, but also in the discontent and deliberation which led, following the May events, to the emergence of a conspiratorial structure within the libertarian organizations, which threw up documents entitled “Aportación a un proyecto de organización conspirativa” and “Informe respecto a la preparación de un golpe de Estado,”

as published in the anthology Sucesos de mayo (1937) Cuadernos de la guerra civil No, 1, (Fundación Salvador Segui, Madrid, 1987)

3. Issue No. I of El Amigo del Pueblo bears no date. The Group had distributed a notice announcing that El Amigo del Pueblo, the mouthpiece of the Friends of Durruti, would be appearing, on Wednesday May 19. Tavera and Ucelay mistakenly give the date of May 11, 1937, probably taken from the Manifesto reproduced on the second page of the first issue of El Amigo del Pueblo. Paul Sharkey gives the much more likely date of May 20. Then again, given the weekly periodicity which it was intended the paper should have, and that issue No. 2 of El Amigo del Pueblo was published on May 26, 1937, there can be no doubt of the date on which No. 1 appeared.

4. Solidaridad Obrera was under the management of Jacinto Toryho, who was appointed editor-in-chief of the CNT’s main newspaper on account of his resolute defense of CNT collaborationism and discipline. He was profoundly at loggerheads with Balius, who had always been highly critical of anarchosyndicalist collaborationism. Regarding Toryho and his enmity and friction with Balius, see the interesting study made in an otherwise deplorable article by Susana Tavera and Enric Ucelay da Cal, cited earlier. as well as Jordi Sabater’s book Anarquisme i catalanisme. La CNT i e1 fet nacional catalá durant la Guerra Civil (Edicións 62, Barcelona, 1986, pp. 109-110)

5. As stated by Balius in his letter to Burnett Bolloten from Cuernavaca, June 24, 1946.

6. Ibid.

7. Jordi Arquer História . . .  op. cit. Colonel Burillo had been involved in the arrest of Nin and the rest of the POUM leadership.

8. In fact, on June 16, four days after the date on which No. 3 of El Amigo del Pueblo came out, the POUM was outlawed and its militants and leaders arrested and/or murdered, in an operation, unprecedented in Spain, overseen by the CPU and Spanish Stalinists.

9. We need not, we feel, go into the differences between revolutionary marxism and Stalinism. Anyone interested in this matter can refer to issue No. I of Balance.

10. So, the Friends of Durruti did not regard the Antifascist Militias’ Committee (CAMC) as dual power in embryo, but rather as a class collaboration agency. This was the same conclusion to which Nin, Azaña, Tarradellas, the Bordiguists, etc. had come and flies in the face of the academic, historiographical thesis presenting the CAMC as embryonic workers’ power in contradistinction to the Generalidad.

11. In the indictment drawn up in February-March 1938 against the militants of the Bolshevik-Leninist Section, there is reference to a starch carried out at the print works of one of those indicted, the printer Baldomero Palau. The

search carried out at the print works in Barcelona’s Calle Salmeron uncovered a masthead for La Voz Leninista, used in the printing of No. 3, dated February 15, 1938. The document also mentions the discovery of two mastheads from the newspaper El Amigo del Pueblo. This was No. 12 of El Amigo del Pueblo, published in Barcelona on February 1, 1938.

Moreover, in Circular No. 4 from the Regional Labor Confederation (CNT) of Catalonia [held at the International Institute for Social history in Amsterdam], there is a reproduction of a circular issued by the Friends of Durruti (date unknown, but we imagine from August 1937) to all CNT unions in Catalonia, requesting financial assistance in the purchase of a copying machine because “it is becoming increasingly harder to get out El Amigo del Pueblo. Printers fight shy of agreeing to typeset and print it, on account of its clandestine status and for fear of the authorities. The day will come when we will no longer be able to get it out, because of this problem.”

12. This was doubtless a printing error. The date should be August 31, 1937, since No. 8 is dated September 21 and there are only 30 days in September.

13. As he himself tells us, Balius had been jailed in May 1937: “1 was held on the first gallery of the Model Prison. This was in May 1937, after the May events.” [ Jaime Balius “No es hora de confucionismos” in Le Combat Syndicaliste of April 14, 1971]. However, the first report of Balius having been jailed appeared in issue No. 4 of El Amigo del Pueblo dated June 22, 1937. Given that issue No. 3 of the Friends of Durruti’s mouthpiece was dated June 12, 1937, the likelihood is that Balius’s incarceration coincided with the mass arrests of POUM militants, launched on June 16 when the POUM was declared outside the law.

14, At no time do we enter into an examination of Durruti as a person, nor of his political ideology. We merely mention the claims of his contemporaries. It is not out of place to recall that Balius held that the Friends of Durruti Group, despite the name, had no ideological links With Durruti. Then again, Durruti was primarily an activist and was never a theorist, nor did he ever claim to be. We should point out also that Soli did not reprint Durruti’s broadcast speeches verbatim and unabridged.