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Review: Revolution and Counter-Revolution in Spain

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Including the Civil War in Spain, Felix Morrow, Pathfinder Press 1974 ISBN 0-87348-402-9. First Published 1936 and 1938 by Pioneers Publications

Felix Morrow, a leader of the United States’ based Socialist Workers Party gives an excellent account about what was happening in Spain that was written by an eye witness who was both a participant and observer during the Spanish Civil War. He gives a detailed account about how the Stalin backed Spanish Communist Party was more interested in physically eliminating their political enemies in the Spanish Republic than fighting the Fascist menace. Morrow gives a blow by blow account about how the revolution was destroyed from the inside out. Although he has a sneaking admiration for the anarchist CNT and FAI his main sympathies lie with P.O.U.M (Workers Party), a relatively small Trotskyist Party that played a role in the Spanish revolution.

Stalin, paranoid about Trotskyism, used the Spanish Communist Party and many of the communist members of the International Brigades to destroy what he believed was the dominant threat to his rule in the Soviet Union. The Spanish Civil War was a backdrop in his international efforts to wipe out Trotsky’s supporters off the face of the planet. Once the threat from P.O.U.M was eliminated Stalin, through the Spanish Communist Party, turned his attention to the CNT and FAI. The Spanish Civil War as George Orwell pointed out in Homage to Catalonia was lost because of the Stalinists’ role in the revolution not because of the fascist counter-revolution.

More anarchist militants died as a direct result of Communist treachery than they did as a result of the Phalangists actions during the Civil War. The disappointing aspect about Morrow’s account is that although he gets his facts right about what happened, his solution highlight the limitations of a Marxist analysis based on creating a dictatorship of the proletariat through the actions of a vanguard party. In Morrow’s opinion the creation of a vanguard party was all that stood between defeat and victory in the Spanish Civil War. I find it hard to believe a man with so much insight into what was actually happening was so blinkered by ideology he was promoting the same ideas as a solution to the problems encountered during the Civil War as Stalin’s supporters in Spain were promoting.

The abolition of the state not the capture of the state by a vanguard party is the aim of all anarchists. Vanguard parties irrespective of whether they call themselves socialist or communist always put the interests of the party before the interests of the people they lead.

Felix Morrow’s pamphlets are a valuable source of primary information about what was happening in Spain during the Civil War. His analysis should be consigned to the dustbin of history. He broke with the Socialist Party of America during World War Two. I can't help wondering what happened to him and whether he changed his analysis as a result of his break with the SWP.

Try a radical bookshop or your library if you want to get hold of this firsthand account of the political machinations which led to the demise of the Spanish Popular Front government in Spain during the Civil War. Thanks to James from Frankston for lending me his copy of Revolution and Counter-Revolution in Spain to read and review.

Also published in the Anarchist Age Weekly Review No.951.

A complete copy of the book is available on the web

It must also be mentioned that Eric Blair, aka George Orwell, fought with the POUM as part of a contingent organised by the British Independent Labour Party (there's a recent article on their website) - the very organisation which was described promoting an Isocracy in its founding essays.

A copy of Homage to Catalonia is available at the George Orwell archive.

Negras tormentas agitan los aires / nubes oscuras nos impiden ver / Aunque nos espere el dolor y la muerte / contra el enemigo nos llama el deber.

El bien más preciado / es la libertad / hay que defenderla / con fe y valor.

Alza la bandera revolucionaria / que llevará al pueblo a la emancipación / Alza la bandera revolucionaria / que llevará al pueblo a la emancipación / En pie el pueblo obrero a la batalla / hay que derrocar a la reacción

¡A las Barricadas! ¡A las Barricadas! / por el triunfo de la Confederación./ ¡A las Barricadas! ¡A las Barricadas! / por el triunfo de la Confederación.

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Werner Droescher

Introduction by Farrell Cleary

A joint publication by the Kate Sharpley Library and Aotearoa Workers
Solidarity Movement 2012
ISBN 13:9781873605066

This handy thirty page pamphlet consists of an introduction by Farrell Cleary which gives the reader an insight into the life of this extraordinary man; a selection of material from Werner’s unpublished English autobiography which covers his time in Spain “The Spanish Civil War and the Anarchists” and the Aragon Front. It also includes a series of notes that were published in the Wellington University student newspaper, Salient, in New Zealand on the 23rd February 1963
(page 3) “Spanish Anarchists Made Ideas Work” which summarises a talk he gave at the Victorian University of Wellington for the Anarchist Association in 1963.

Werner, a teacher, born in Germany in 1911 died aged 67 in New Zealand in 1978. Werner spent almost half of his life in New Zealand and Australia. Buoyed by his Spanish revolutionary experiences he remained an anarchist to the day he died. The five pages devoted to his involvement in the Arogan front during the Spanish revolution are, in my opinion, some of the most inspiring material I've come across about the Spanish revolution.

Werner Droescher’s firsthand experience of the Spanish revolution gave his New Zealand comrades the practical dimension they needed to work towards making that new world in their heart a reality. I have no hesitation in recommending you get hold of this handy little introduction to Werner Droescher. The pamphlet is available from Kate Sharpley Library, BM Hurricane, London WCI N 3XX, United Kingdom
And Aotearoa Workers Solidarity Movement, PO Box 6837, Te Aro,
Wellington 6141 New Zealand

Anarchist Age Weekly Review No.966
Internet :

Follow up appropriate review from Anarchist Age Weekly Review No.987

‘THE LATE GREAT CAUSE’ Volunteers from Australia and Emilia-Romagna in defence of the Spanish Republic 1936-1939
Dr. Venturino Giorgio Venturini
Publisher Search Foundation Sydney 2010
ISBN 9 781876300173 (pbk)

Mick from the Wednesday Action Group handed me this 815 page book telling me “some bloke who had attended the 2nd Melbourne Anarchist
Bookfair had turned up to give you a copy of this labour of love”. I don’t know whether it was the author or a friend but whoever it is, they’ve done me a favour. Looking at this colossus you could be forgiven for asking why another book on the Spanish Revolution? (over 20,000 have already been published) And why the juxtaposition of volunteers from Australia and Emilia-Romagna in the same book?

The answer is simple when you know something about the author. Born in 1928, Venturino Venturini graduated in arts, social sciences and
law from Ferrara University in Italy. He later studied at North Western in Chicago. He left Italy in 1958, teaching in Canada, the
United States, Singapore, Malaysia and Australia. Dr. Venturini moved to Victoria, Australia in 1982. The Last Great Cause is a meticulous labour of love devoted to the 431 anti-fascists from Emilia-Romagna, the region in Italy, the author was born and Australia the country he has spent over forty four years in.

If there is one word to describe The Last Great Cause it’s, passion. Not the passion that comes from a rush of blood to the head but the
passion that comes from meticulous research and a lifetime of thinking.

Divided into 7 sections this is not a dry desiccated account of a fossilised system that has no relevance to the present. It links the past to the present. The book is an attempt to ensure what can only be described as one of the most important moments in the 20th century is not written and re-written to suit our current crop of political and cultural masters. The Last Great Cause is a triumph of the spirit, possibly the last significant contribution of a man who, although in his mid 80’s, continues to love life. His book, The Last Great Cause, ensures the ideas that drove men and women to make the ultimate sacrifice for ideas not money, fame, God, King or Country never become part of the historical collective amnesia that is such a critical element of 21st century existence.

Try your local radical bookshop or the publishers Search Foundation, 128 Chalmers St, Surry Hills NSW 2010 Australia, Phone: +61 2 9698
4918, Fax: +61 2 9699 3717 if you want a copy of this unforgettable book.