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MAY 3rd

It has been inside the barracks of Catalonia that counter-revolution has made its greatest efforts to crush the essentials of the July revolution.

The economic structure of Catalonia allowed for great masses of workers, educated to class consciousness in the atmosphere of factory and workshop, to be concentrated. This peculiar feature of the centres of manufacture is extremely favourable to the attainment of the end of the revolution. In July, Catalonia's working people placed social life on a fresh basis. There was a resurgence by an indomitable proletariat with the critical equipment of ong years of struggle within the ranks of the confederation. Social revolution could have been a fact in Catalonia. Further more, this revolutionary proletariat could have served as a counter-weight to a bureaucratic, reformist Madrid and the influence of the Catholic Basque country.

But the events took a different tum. The revolution was not made in Catalonia. Realising that once again the proletariat was saddled with a leadership of quibbiers, the petit bourgeoisie, which had gone into hiding in its backrooms in July, hastened to join battle.

The shocking feature of when we speak of the middle class is that we have to refer to Marxists, who have been inundated by shopkeepers and the Lliga's 120,000 voters.

In Catalonia, socialism has been a pitiful creature, Its ranks have been swelled by members opposed to revolution. It has captained the counter-revolution. It has spawned a UGT which has been tumed into en appendage of the GEPCI. Marxist leaders have sung the praises of counter-revolution. They have sculpted slogans about the issue of a united front whilst first eliminating the POUM, then trying to repeat the operation with the CNT.

The manoeuvres of the petite bourgeoisie, in alliance with the socialists and communists, culminated in the events of May.

There have been conflicting versions of just what happened in May. But the truth of the matter is that the counter-revolution wanted the working class on the streets in a disorganised manner so that they might be crushed. They partially attained their objectives, thanks to the stupidity of some leaders who gave the ceasefire order and dubbed the ĎFriends of Durruti' agents provocateurs just when the streets had been won and the enemy eliminated.

Self evidently, the counter-revolution has an interest in control of Public Order passing under the supervision of the Valencia Govemment. They succeeded in that, thanks to Largo Caballero. it is worth noting that at this time the CNT had four ministers in the cabinet.

It has also been pointed out that the petit bourgeoisie had hatched a scheme providing for foreign intervention on the pretext of disorder breaking out. That foreign flotilla would sail for Barcelona was a certainty. And there has been talk of motorised divisions of the French army on the verge of intervening in frontier posts. To which we might add the conspiratorial work of politicians meeting in the French capital.

The atmosphere had become very tense. CNT membership cards were being tom up. CNT and FAI militants were being disarmed. There were continuous clashes which only by the merest chance did not tum out to have more serious consequences. The provocations that we workers had to put up with were manifold. The threats from the desk-ocracy came out into the open, naked and unashamed.

The death of a socialist militant-Roldan-was exploited as the pretext for a monster display of strength in Which all the counter-revolutionary crew took part.

Everything that went wrong was blamed on the CNT. Anarchists were blamed for every misfortune. Food shortages were laid at the door of the supply committees.

The explosion came on the 3rd May. With the cognizance of Ayguade, Rodriguez Salas, Commissar for Public Order, headed a unit of Assault Guards and burst into the Telephone Exchange. They tried to disarm the CNT comrades, even though the Exchange was under joint control of the CNT and UGT.

This move by Rodriguez Salas-who belongs to the PSUC-was a call to arms. Within a few hours barricades had gone up in all the streets in Barcelona city. The crackle of rifle-fire and the rattle of machine guns could be heard and the air was filled with the sounds of cannon salvoes and the reports of bombs.

At the end of a few hours, the tide had tumed in the favour of the proletarians enrolled in the CNT who as they had in July, defended their rights with guns in hand. We took the streets. They were ours. There was no power on earth that could have wrested them from us. Working class areas fell to us quickly. Then the enemyís territory was eaten away, little by little, to a redoubt in a section of the residential area- the city centre-which would have fallen soon, but for the defection of the CNT committees.

Realising the indecision that showed itself in the fighting, and the lack of leadership and organisation evident in the street, our Grouping issued a leaflet followed by a manifesto.

They labelled us agents provocateurs because we demanded that provocateurs be shot, that the armed forces be disbanded, that political parties who had armed the provocation be suplaressed, and also that a revolutionary Junta be established, to press on with the socialisation of the economy and to claim all economic power for the unions.

Our analysis, as set out in those moments of tension in both leaflet and manifesto, insisted that the barricades should not be abandoned unconditio ally, since that would be the first time in history when a victorious army had yielded ground to the enemy.

Guarantees were needed that we would not be persecuted. But the chieftains of the CNT gave assurances that the organisationís representatives in the Generalitat would look out for the working class. Nonetheless, the second part of what had come to pass hours earlier in Valencia emerged.

The barricades were abandoned without our having good reasan to do so. As the Catalan scene was retuming to calm, the excesses perpetrated by the marxists and the public forces came to light. We had been right. Comrade Bemeri was snatched from his home and shot to death in the middle of the street: thirty comrades were discovered, horribly mutilated in Sardanola; Comrade Martinez of the Libertarian Youth lost his life in a manner unknown, in the private dungeons of the Cheka, and a large number of comrades from the CNT and FAI  were brutally murdered.

We must remember that Professor Bemeri was a leamed ltalian comrade from that antifascist Italy filling the deportation islands, the cemeteries and the concentration camps. like his anti-fascist comrades, he could not stay in Mussoliniís Italy.

The murders were followed by a wave of intense repression. Comrades were arrested in connection with the events in July and May: there were attacks on unions, collectives and offices of the Friends of Durruti, the Libertarian Youth and the POUM.

One event we cannot pass over. The disappearance and death of Andres Nin. More than half a year has elapsed now and the Govemment has yet to clear up the so-called mystery surrounding Ninís murder. Shall we one day know who killed him?

After May, the counter-revolution felt stronger than ever. Foreign powers lent assistance to this reaction by the desk-ocracy. Within a few days the Negrin Govemment had been formed, with two ends behind its establishment; the annihilation of the revolutionary section of the proletariat and preparation for an abrazo de Vergara. Meanwhile in Catalonia a govemment composed of secretaries from the political parties and union organisations was set up, until Luis Companys ousted the CNT representatives from the Generalitat.

What took place in May was quite different from what happened in July. In May the proletariat fought with what was self-evidently a class spirit. There could be no doubt that the working class wanted to radicalise the revolution.

However much the reactionary press may try to obscure the nature of May, it will go down in history as a sudden and well-timed blow aimed by the proletariat. Feeling that the revolution was threatened they cama on to the streets to save and revitalise it.

In May we were in time to save the revolution. Many perhaps regret having heeded the call for a cease-fire in those historic moments. And are pained at the sight of jails crammed with workers.

The Friends of Durruti Group did its duty. We were the only ones equal to the challenge of the circumstances. We could foresee the outcome.

May can never be forgotten. It was the loudest knock the working class has delivered on the portals of the bourgeoisie. Whenever they come to speak of the events in May, historians will have to pay homage to the Catalan proletariat, who laid down the yard stick for the new era, which must be one hundred par cent proletarian.'

 


 

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