In this edition of the Education Series we look at one of the greatest experiments with an alternative to capitalism: the 1936 Spanish Revolution. People today seeking a democratic socialist and egalitarian society can draw lessons from both its successes and failures.
The Spanish Revolution occurred in the context of a civil war, but even so for a short period of time social relations changed – bosses were fired; workers practiced direct democracy in the fields and factories; greater gender equality was won; and socialism from below looked like a possibility.
Reviewed by Jakes Factoria
Almost 80 years ago the peasantry and working class of Spain, inspired by anarchism and syndicalism, rose up to change the world. The Spanish Revolution of 1936-1939 involved millions creating, from below, a new society of freedom based upon equality and participatory democracy. Had the revolution succeeded and spread, the world would have changed forever. Rather than being trapped in decades of oppression and crisis and futility, humanity could have invested the last three generations into a universal human community of libertarian communism and scientific advance.
Remarkably, the Spanish Revolution has received very little attention. The republication in English of volume 1 of José Peirats’ masterwork The CNT in the Spanish Revolution by Merlin Press and PM Press should go some way to addressing the problem. The book originally appeared in 1951 in Spanish, finally appeared in English in 2001 but soon went out of print, and is now, finally, readily available (see contact details at end). (A much-abridged version appeared in one volume in English in 1990, called the Anarchists in the Spanish Revolution) .