To Remember Spain: The Anarchist and Syndicalist Revolution of 1936 by Murray Bookchin is a slim volume that contains two essays. In the first essay, An Overview of the Spanish Libertarian Movement, the author argues that many misconceptions still reign about the Spanish revolution that lasted from July 1936 to March 1939 and “claimed an estimated million lives.” He stresses the fact that the “so-called Spanish civil war” was not a “political conflict between a liberal democracy and a fascist military corps, but a deeply socio-economic conflict between the workers and peasants” and their “class enemies” and followed over sixty years of “anarchist agitation and activity.” The author examines the split between the Marxists and the Bakuninists at the Hague Congress of the International Working Men’s Association (IWMA-or First International) in September 1872, and notes that while Marxism held its appeal for the some, anarchism appealed especially to the Catalans and the Andulasians. The essay also examines agrarian collectives, and their organizational forms, and debunks the myth that agrarian anarchism was antitechnolgical. This was a rich period for anarchist culture with the production of literally 100s of anarchist periodicals. The organization of both the CNT and FAI is also examined–along with the fundamental differences and flaws in each.
The second essay, After Fifty Years: The Spanish Civil War gives an overview of Spain’s internal political background before the run-up to the Spanish revolution. The formation of the Popular Front is examined as well as Franco’s use of Moroccan troops, and Stalin’s meddling. While Stalin and the Soviet Union ostensibly ‘aided’ revolutionary forces, in reality, treacherous communist-led counterrevolutionary forces executed and betrayed anarchists.
To Remember Spain: The Anarchist and Syndicalist Revolution of 1936 is by no means a comprehensive analysis–rather, it is the author’s intention to provide an overview of the period while debunking myths. Acknowledging that the Spanish revolution was a “profound” social revolution, the author also soberly notes that an American or European equivalent is “no longer conceivable.” But that instead “capitalist institutions must be hollowed out by a molecular historical process of disengagement and disloyalty.”