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The Road to Anarchy

The CNT under the Spanish Second Republic (1931–1936)

In the Series
Studies in Spanish History

Ángel Herrerín is a Full Professor in the Department of Contemporary History of the Universidad Nacional de Educación a Distancia (UNED). He has been a Visiting Professor at the University of Minnesota (USA) in 2005 and 2010. His monograph publications include: The CNT during the Franco Regime: Clandestinity and Exile (1939-1975), for which he was a finalist in the 2006 National History Prize; The Money of Exile: Indalecio Prieto and the Postwar Struggles (1939-1947); and Anarchy, Dynamite and Social Revolution: Violence and Repression in Spain between Centuries (1868-1909).

The Road to Anarchy is the result of an exhaustive investigation into the anarcho-syndicalist Confederación Nacional del Trabajo (CNT) during the democratic years of the Second Republic. By analysing the course of the CNT in terms of its role in the labour conflict and the internal life and approach of the organisation (its ideology, its practice, its internal conflicts, the role of the individual and the weight of history) this book dismantles the long-held view that the CNT orchestrated three insurrections against the Republic. Key is analysis not only of the violence of the anarchists, but also that of the state. Two crucial themes emerge: the ‘political’ struggle within the organisation, and its involvement in the revolution of October 1934 and in the events of the spring of 1936.

Ángel Herrerín investigates the controversial relations of the anarchists with other political formations, such as the republicans, the socialists, Communists and Catalans, with whom the anarchists fought on the republican side during the Civil War. Special attention is paid to the crucial relationship with the socialist trade unions, the Unión General de Trabajadores (UGT), as this evolved from one of competition for trade-union dominance to the acceptance of anarcho-syndicalist practices by the socialists and collaboration between the two organisations.

The book is based on wide-ranging archival research, including the Institute of Social History in Amsterdam, the National Historical Archive in Spain, the Foreign Office Archives in France and other national archives related to the repression of the CNT, such as those of the Army and Civil Guard in Spain. The study of the CNT in this timeframe is long overdue; the last similar study was undertaken by the US Democratic Congressman John Brademas in the 1950s, a renowned scholar of Spain's social revolution.

Hardback ISBN: 978-1-78976-031-6
Hardback Price: £85.00 / $99.95
Release Date: September 2020
Paperback ISBN: 978-1-78976-147-4
Paperback Price: £34.95 / $54.95
Release Date: September 2021
Page Extent / Format: 400 pp. 246 x 171 mm
Illustrated: Yes





CHAPTER 1: Anarchists and Anarcho-syndicalists in the Early Days of the Republic (April 1931 – June 1931)

  • The CNT, Dazzled by the Light of the Republic
  • The Importance of the Anarchist of Action
  • Labour Conflict
  • Public Order and Repression
  • The FAI Conference
  • Second (II) Extraordinary CNT Congress
  • The International Workers' Association Congress

CHAPTER 2: The Struggle for Power: From Syndicalism to Insurrection (July 1931 - April 1932)

  • Strikes, too many strikes!
  • Violence and Repression
  • Treintismo
  • Caught in the Crossfire
  • Protests and Repression at the Start of the Year
  • The Movement of January 1932.  A CNT Uprising?
  • The Enigma of Figols
  • The 15 February Strike
  • But Mira was Missing
  • Responsibilities and Expulsions

CHAPTER 3: To the Barricades! (May 1932- December1933)

  • Fresh Anarchist Winds
  • The April 8 Law
  • Conflict in the Countryside
  • Sanjurjo's Coup, the CNT and the Deportees
  • Land reform and the autonomy of Catalonia
  • Towards Division
  • The January 1933 Uprising
  • Casas Viejas
  • The Libertarian Syndicalist Federation and the Opposition Trade Unions
  • The Benefits of Negotiation and Labour Conflict 
  • Violence
  • Public Order and Vagrancy Laws
  • The Demotivation of Members
  • Against the Advance of Fascism: Frente Único
  • The Elections of November 1933
  • The Insurrection of December 1933

CHAPTER 4:From the Workers’ Alliance to the Revolution (January 1934 - April 1935)

  • 1934: Year of Changes
  • The Syndicalist Party
  • The New Government and the Strikes
  • The Constitution of the Alianza Obrera
  • The October 1934 Movement
  • Madrid: Strike and Boycott
  • Catalonia: On the Streets, But Against Everyone
  • Asturias: Alliance and Revolution
  • Repression and Revolutionary Violence

CHAPTER 5: Between Rectification and Continuism (May 1935 - July 1936)

  • The Government after the October Movement
  • The CNT: Between Defence and Rectification
  • Different Places, Same Problems
  • Syndicalism on the Defensive
  • Political Ups and Downs
  • The CNT and the February Elections
  • Reconquest or Revolution
  • Reunification
  • The Zaragoza Congress
  • The Last Republican Months


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