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Anarchism and Political Change in Spain

Schism, Polarisation and Reconstruction of the Confederación Nacional del Trabajo, 1939–1979

Maggie Torres is an Independent Scholar, who previously lectured in Spanish and Latin American History at Goldsmiths College, University of London. The main focus of her research has been Spanish Anarchism and the labour movement in Spain, particularly the period from 1939 to 1979. She has published many articles on Spanish Anarchist history from 1939, the reconstruction of the CNT from 1976 to 1979 and the political transition to democracy, 1976–1982.

This history of the anarcho-syndicalist trade union, the Confederación Nacional del Trabajo, analyses a period much neglected in historical research: from the end of the civil war in 1939 to the period of democratic change from 1976 to 1979, when the organisation was reconstructed after Franco's death. The Franco years were characterised by extraordinary division within the CNT and by the bureaucratisation and ossification of the organisation now part in exile in France. The decimation of the Spanish CNT in 1947 by draconian repression enhanced the role of the exiled CNT, which was now the sole representative of the historic Anarchist movement in Spain.

The moribund notion of Anarchism held by the exiled organisation could not attract recruits, and thus new forces drawn to Anarchism in 1960s Spain came through different routes, related, in large part, to the crisis within Marxism. Some of these local activists became convinced of the possibility for a reconstructed CNT, but only if the organisation were 'renewed'. However, the exiled CNT opposed such ideas and used all possible means to undermine the movement for a 'new CNT'. Although the reconstruction of the CNT from 1976 was characterised by the struggle between these two principal forces, the Spanish CNT captured the feelings and enthusiasm of Spanish youth, after the long dark night of Francoism. The 'libertarian boom' was short-lived however, and by 1978 the CNT was in deep crisis, calling for the dissolution of the exiled organisation. The latter, and its allies in Spain, could not allow such a development and 'organised' the Congress of 1979 to prevent this happening. The subsequent irrevocable division of the CNT sheds lights on the political, social and economic fractures that Spain still experiences today.

Published in association with the Cañada Blanch Centre for Contemporary Spanish Studies

Hardback ISBN: 978-1-84519-936-4
Hardback Price: £85.00 / $109.95
Release Date: January 2019
Page Extent / Format: 420 pp. 234 x 156 mm
Illustrated: No


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