Revolution and the State: Anarchism in the Spanish Civil War

Review of Revolution and the State: Anarchism in the Spanish Civil War 1936-1939 by Danny Evans.

This book by Danny Evans, a lecturer in Modern European History and co-host of a radical history podcast(1), originally started as a PhD thesis which was expanded and in 2020 published by AK Press as a paperback. Although much of the existing Spanish literature on the subject has still not been translated, today there is no shortage of English language books concerning the pre-WWII anarchist movement in Spain (in fact, in the last four years AK Press alone has released five such books).(2) However, Evans’ contribution on the Spanish Civil War has caught our attention in particular because it starts from premises that appear close to ours:

  • Counter-revolution, more than just the activities of the Stalinists or the eventual triumph of Nationalist forces, meant the process of the reconstruction of the capitalist state in the Republican zone that took place in the aftermath of the working class uprising of 19 July 1936;
  • Anarchists, despite their professed anti-statist beliefs, contributed to this process and this went beyond just the formality of taking up ministerial positions.

Even so, in the book Evans attempts to show that anarchist resistance to this process of state reconstruction was more widespread and serious than generally assumed. To this end, over the 200 or so pages we are presented with a chronological overview of the struggle between the oppositional and collaborationist currents within the Spanish anarchist movement that took place between the years 1931 and 1939. It is worth summarising that history before we comment on some of its political implications.

From Revolution to Counter-Revolution

The significance of the year 1931 lies of course with the proclamation of the Second Spanish Republic which brought to an end the era of pistolerismo and the Primo de Rivera dictatorship. This period once again opened up a space for working class organisations to rebuild their base. Evans’ focus here is on the anarchist tendency represented by the following groups:

  • National Confederation of Labor (Confederación Nacional del Trabajo, CNT) founded in 1910, an anarcho-syndicalist union organised along federalist lines, whose main competitor was the General Union of Workers (Unión General de Trabajadores, UGT) affiliated to the Spanish Socialist Workers' Party (Partido Socialista Obrero Español, PSOE);
  • Iberian Anarchist Federation (Federación Anarquista Ibérica, FAI) founded in 1927, an anarchist ideological formation made up of affinity groups, which attempted to influence the CNT;
  • Iberian Federation of Libertarian Youth (Federación Ibérica de Juventudes Libertarias, FIJL) founded in 1932, an organisation of anarchist youth with close ties to the CNT and the FAI.

Within this libertarian socialist and anarcho-syndicalist milieu there existed a lot of overlap in membership and Evans identifies three currents which made themselves discernible at the time: the “gradualists” whose main concern was the gradual growth of the organisation, the “purists” who favoured immediate insurrectionary action, and the “voluntarists” who occupied themselves with cultural and educational work. What is significant, however, is that all three currents at times displayed conciliatory attitudes towards the Republican state, as demonstrated by contacts with the animators of the republican Pact of San Sebastián, the sharing of platforms with republicans, or promising republicans their votes (p.15). Furthermore, despite the movement’s reliance on federalism, which was intended to prevent the accumulation of executive powers, a hierarchy was already emerging where the higher committees (comités superiores) and anarchist “notables” could outweigh the decisions of plenums and assemblies (p.30). This tendency only intensified during times of war and repression. In the years prior to the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War, these fissures within the anarchist movement caused splits and revealed a lack of unity of action. “Gradualist” opposition to the “purist” influence of the FAI within the CNT led to the formation of a Syndicalist Party (Partido Sindicalista) and Opposition Unions (Sindicatos de Oposición) outside the CNT. Isolated uprisings in January 1932, January 1933 and December 1933 discredited the policy of "revolutionary gymnastics" practised by the FAI’s “men of action”. The 1934 uprising in Asturias saw regional sections of the CNT sign a unity pact with the UGT, which went against the policy of the national organisation (p.22). And so on.

Nevertheless, the CNT remained a mass organisation and a home to many revolutionary workers. In response to the crisis of the Second Spanish Republic, defence committees (clandestine military organisations of the CNT) were now being reorganised in Barcelona, Madrid and Andalusia, and where they did not exist, their functions were taken up by the affinity groups of the FAI (p.25). By the beginning of 1936 there was a feeling across the anarchist movement that the days of bourgeois democracy were numbered. The victory of the Popular Front in the February elections posed a new challenge. The congress of the CNT in May led to reunification (readmission of the Opposition Unions), and, despite opposition, a CNT-UGT unity proposal (which the UGT ignored). In response to the “imminent threat of a [Nationalist] coup d’etat … the national coordinating body of the defence committees discussed its plans at a private session” (p.27).

The Nationalist military uprising which began in Morocco on 17 July became a nationwide coup d’etat against the Spanish Second Republic the next day. On 19 July the working class, despite previous setbacks like in Asturias, responded to the coup and the collapse of the Popular Front government with a general strike, the storming of barracks, the taking up of arms, and the erection of barricades. Barcelona, the first city where the coup was defeated, became a model. The armed proletariat controlled all movement in the city, vehicles and buildings were being taken over. Workers of the CNT-FAI, organised in their defence committees and affinity groups, played a leading role here, with the support of workers in the UGT and the Workers' Party of Marxist Unification (Partido Obrero de Unificación Marxista, POUM). But Barcelona would also “provide the test case for the [CNT’s] attitude to the state, revolution and anti-fascist alliances” (p.33).

Evans asserts that “the prestige and power of the Barcelona defence committees … had never been greater [than in the immediate aftermath of 19 July], and … it is unlikely any remaining governmental body would have been able to countermand any initiative carried out in their name” (p.38). So why was this initiative surrendered? Evans points out that the Catalan Regional Defence Committee (which represented the local defence committees) did not want to cause a schism in the CNT by taking any “authoritarian measures”, and did not trust all of its defence committees to obey its orders (p.39). So, on 20 July, a delegated Liaison Committee of the CNT (which also included three members of the Catalan Regional Defence Committee: Juan García Oliver, Buenaventura Durruti and Francisco Ascaso) met with Lluís Companys, the president of the Generalitat of Catalonia, and agreed to the formation of a Central Committee of Anti-Fascist Militia (Comitè Central de Milícies Antifeixistes de Catalunya, CCMA), pending approval from a CNT plenum. The CCMA was “not a revolutionary organ, and it remained subordinate to the pre-existing institutions of state governance” (p.41). On 21 July, a hastily organised CNT plenum discussed the prospect of the CCMA – or rather, it was “reduced to merely ratifying or rejecting” (pp.39-40) the motions proposed by the higher committees and the “notables”. In this way, collaboration with the Catalan state won the day. A member of the FIJL later recalled that “only a handful of activists were aware of the founding [of the CCMA]” (p.40).

While expropriations continued, collectives in rural areas were still being formed, and defence committees and militias still ruled the streets, already from day two of the “Spanish Revolution”, we saw the “de facto collaboration of the libertarian movement with the state” (p.41). And it extended beyond the CCMA, as the CNT-FAI also participated in the various bodies set up by the Generalitat to organise education, public order, the economy, the war industry, etc. Thousands of activists became absorbed into “official posts”, to the point where withdrawal from them would have posed “daunting logistical and economic implications” (p.42). Although Barcelona was the epicentre of revolutionary developments, it was also where advocacy of collaboration was strongest. In August, another step was taken, and a decision was made at a secret plenum of the CNT, FAI and JJLL to dissolve the CCMA and simply participate in the Generalitat. Once again, the “wider membership of the CNT was not made aware of the decisions of the Catalan comités superiores until the end of the following month, when the CNT’s representation in the Generalitat was negotiated” (p.48).

On 4 September, the government of Republican Spain was reorganised under Francisco Largo Caballero of the PSOE. The Communist Party of Spain (Partido Comunista de España, PCE), at the time a comparatively small organisation but with the backing of the USSR, now participated in the government … and so did the CNT. The mouthpiece of the CNT touted:

The State and Government will oppress the people still less with the intervention in them of elements of the CNT.

Solidaridad Obrera, 4 November 1936, p.53

The Spanish Civil War was now being recast as an anti-fascist war of national independence. The CNT embraced this and, naturally, nationalist and patriarchal rhetoric followed. The anarchist minister Federica Montseny characterised fascism a product of “Moorish civilisation” (p.50), while the geographer Gonzalo de Reparaz Ruiz, in a speech published by the CNT-FAI propaganda office, lamented how Morocco “could have been the cradle of a new Spanish empire” (p.50). Salvador Cánovas Cervantes, who had previously been expelled from the CNT but was now welcomed back as a journalist for Solidaridad Obrera, stressed the “Iberian, independent and national” character of the Spanish proletariat, which he summed up with the slogan: “Spain for the Spanish” (p.147). Some anarchist militias began to only recruit women who were related to or a partner of male recruits; the slogan “men to the front, women to the rearguard” was propagated even by prominent anarchists (p.52).

By the time the CNT officially entered the government of Largo Caballero, a fact announced at a rally in Valencia on 19 October, sectors of the organisation were already involved in the process [of state reconstruction], both in terms of formal relations with the state and in public support for its constitution as a patriarchal and racial/national entity.

Danny Evans, p.52

The reconstruction of the Republican state meant the restoration of public order, i.e. curbing the power of militias, collectives, defence committees, etc. This gradually put the anarchist rank and file on a collision course with the CNT-FAI leadership, but it also caused alarm among the leadership who now realised their power base was being intentionally undermined by the Stalinists. Evans points out how by the end of 1936 the threat of counter-revolution was becoming apparent, but whereas the CNT-FAI rank and file understood by it the reconstruction of the Republican state, the CNT-FAI leadership only saw it in terms of political intrigue from the PCE, a question of organisational rivalry (p.68).

Rise and Fall of the Anarchist Resistance

As it becomes clear from Evans’ account, the views of the rank and file of the CNT-FAI and the FIJL were being increasingly disregarded by their own leadership. This was happening at the frontlines, where militarisation of the militias was being instituted by the state with the tacit approval of the CNT, and at the rear guard, where the CNT was making deals with the government without proper consultation with its membership and where its “socialisation” campaign was seen by the higher committees primarily as a question of upholding union control and internal discipline. In this sense, the rank and file was now being galvanised around slogans like “socialisation and the people armed!” which began to appear in the publication Ideas – ironically edited by those elements who had been excluded from Solidaridad Obrera (p.61). In chapters three and four Evans shows how the first four months of 1937 saw the consolidation of an oppositional anarchism, the culmination of which was the Barcelona May Days.

At this time new organisational alliances were being formed to resist the course that the CNT had taken. Deserters from the frontline were returning to Barcelona with arms. The most notable were the Gelsa section of the Durruti Column, which deserted in February 1937 and back in Barcelona formed the core of the Friends of Durruti Group (Agrupación de los Amigos de Durruti). Another were the members of the Group of German Anarcho-Syndicalists in Exile (Gruppe Deutsche Anarcho-Syndikalisten im Ausland, DAS) who deserted in April 1937 alongside some anti-Stalinist Marxists, among them Clara and Paul Thalmann (p.96). Evans believes that “desertion in opposition to militarisation appears to have been a more widespread phenomenon than hitherto been claimed, and requires further study” (p.73). Another centre of resistance was the Free Women (Mujeres Libres), founded in 1936, who were expanding their influence to challenge the patriarchal attitudes within the anarchist movement. Their leading activists were also making oppositional statements:

[B]y keeping the government, the workers respected its old bourgeois structure and the weight of the bureaucratic apparatus that had hitherto surrounded it. They did not notice that they were leaving the greatest enemy of the revolution standing … The state began the strangulation of the revolution. Nevertheless, all is not lost if the unions know how to act with determination …

Lucía Sánchez Saornil, April 1937, p.102-3

There was also a change of tone among the anarchist youth in the FIJL who now appealed to “truly Marxist and therefore revolutionary” socialists to unite against the counter-revolution (p.89). The result was the formation of the Youth Revolutionary Front (Frente de la Juventud Revolucionaria, FJR), which brought together the FIJL and the Iberian Communist Youth (Juventud Comunista Ibérica, JCI) who had opposed the entrance of their parent organisation, the POUM, into the Generalitat. Renowned anarchist militants such as Camillo Berneri further added their voice to this anti-state current by calling for the CNT to reconsider their collaboration. But it was the likes of Julian Merino, mid-level CNT-FAI activists who had their ear to the ground regarding developments in Barcelona – with knowledge of the mood among the affinity groups and defence committees, with links to the deserters and the women who had rioted against the rise in bread prices – who according to Evans played the most significant role.

These oppositional elements were invited by Merino to the 12 April 1937 plenum of affinity groups of the Barcelona FAI. There, a majority of delegates favoured the withdrawal of anarchists from the Generalitat. Different alternative executive bodies which could replace the Generalitat were then suggested (e.g. nomination of a central committee by the defence committees). Of course, the editors of Solidaridad Obrera declared the plenum to be unauthorised (p.104). Based on the decisions of the plenum, on 24 April the Barcelona FAI produced a manifesto, calling for withdrawal from the Generalitat, comprehensive socialisation, and the constitution of a local revolutionary committee to fight against both fascism and the counterrevolution (p.106). In other words, when the police raid on the city’s telephone exchange (Telefónica), controlled by a joint CNT-UGT committee, began, there was already a network of defence committees, backed by elements from the POUM and CNT-FAI rank and file, willing to resist.

The Barcelona May Days ended when the combatants agreed to a cease-fire and government troops marched in. Repressions followed. Evans disagrees with the explanations of the cease-fire provided by Helen Graham (that the combatants recognised they would be outgunned) and Agustín Guillamón (that radio broadcasts from the higher committees of the CNT and the anarchist “notables” convinced them to stand down). Instead, he puts forward the thesis that the Regional Defence Committee, for whose orders all the defence committees were waiting, had been compromised by the higher committees of the CNT who changed its composition behind closed doors (pp.139-140). Merino and others coordinating the uprising were simply bureaucratically outnumbered.

It was not ideological scruples that had prevented the military victory of the revolutionaries, but acquiescence to the assertion of organisational hierarchies within the libertarian movement.

Danny Evans, p.139

Chapters four and five delve into the months that followed the Barcelona May Days, characterised by police and military repression, extension of the draft, and the “increasingly bureaucratised and hierarchical nature of the libertarian movement” (p.143). Thanks to its collaboration, the CNT was awarded a pact with the UGT and a ministerial position in Juan Negrín’s government (formed on 17 May 1937 after Caballero was ousted). Some anarchists within Spain now began to accuse the leadership of the CNT of aiding the counter-revolution, some like Simón Tapia Colman even began to question the anti-fascist war: “There is absolutely nothing for us to do in this war, since it has been transformed from a workers’ war into an imperialist war” (p.149). The response of the higher committees was to censor “defeatist” journals and even approve court-martials against anarchist combatants who refused to fight. The Barcelona FAI still hoped for a “new July”, its resolve strengthened by new waves of deserters. Calls for withdrawal from all official positions without regard for the situation at the front, and for the FAI to take the lead over a CNT that has lost its way were openly voiced at the Regional Plenum of the Catalan FAI which took place on 1-3 July 1937. However, after the intervention of CNT higher-ups who were not even delegates, these motions were rejected (p.168).

The behaviour of the CNT caused further controversy abroad: criticisms from the International Workers' Association (IWA) of which the CNT was a member; a scuffle at a fund-raiser in Paris where García Oliver and Montseny were met with shouts of “murderers” and “where is Camillo Berneri?”; Alexander Shapiro accusing the CNT of helping to create a “red fascism to fight the white one” (p.148). To such criticisms, the CNT delegation to the IWA responded: “As Spaniards we have a different mentality and we are participating in a struggle of a racial character that concerns ourselves alone … What is at stake is the destiny of a revolution, and not personal opinions or the small-minded moaning of refugees grouped in ghost sections.” (pp.200-1)

The struggle within the anarchist organisations continued, but it was increasingly fratricidal, as previous oppositional networks of resistance had collapsed. The “purist” and “voluntarist” wings which, when needed, could previously unite against the “gradualists”, were now bickering amongst themselves. The Women’s Secretariat of the JJLL began to prevent the Mujeres Libres from recruiting young women into its ranks, treating the Mujeres Libres as competition. And even after fighting on the same side of the barricades as the POUM rank and file, the FIJL now called for breaking off all relations with “Marxists”, while the CNT leadership, who wanted to keep their official positions, failed to counter the Stalinist attacks on the POUM. In April 1938, an Executive Committee of the Libertarian Movement in Catalonia was created, mainly operating as a tribunal judging CNT members accused of desertion and theft, and committed the CNT-FAI to collaboration with regional and national governments. The Executive Committee itself soon fell apart. There was a further attempt by the collaborationists to reorganise the FAI in order to undermine its radicalism, which for a while resulted in the existence of two FAIs in Barcelona. Insubordination of a Local Federation of the FIJL resulted in its suspension. And so on.

Some oppositional anarchists went back to pre-war activity, focusing on educational and cultural work, publishing new journals in order to at least rescue anarchist ideas. In any case, despite the militarisation of the militias which according to its advocates was key for winning the anti-fascist war, Barcelona fell to the Nationalists in January 1939. As if to add insult to injury, some of the CNT leadership now argued in favour of participation in the Spanish Republican government in exile (p.224).

Political Lessons

The book does not provide a comprehensive picture of the Spanish Civil War, but it opens a window to the debates within the anarchist movement at the time. Unfortunately, to our knowledge, its findings have not been widely commented on in the anglophone anarchist milieu. A review on the website of the Kate Sharpley Library seems to have missed the point.(3) We are told "Evans approaches history with questions to ask", but the reviewer does not tackle those questions. Instead, they contest the use of the term “deserters” for the "revolutionaries who left the front" and repeat the mantra that "where revolutionary workers and peasants were in the ascendancy, they began to reorganise society without state or capitalism". If anything, Evans’ book shows that the state was never abolished in the Republican zone, and that from the get go the anarchist leadership was operating within capitalist limits.

Of course, those already familiar with the works of Agustín Guillamón, who Evans cites as a major influence, might not find that much new here. Guillamón himself, despite certain disagreements, has been influenced by the “magnificent analysis of Bilan”.(4) So, in an indirect way, Evans’ book bears the traces of Bilan analysis. Bilan was the newspaper of our political ancestors in the International Communist Left, whose major insight was that “anti-fascist war was the prelude to the dragooning of the working class into support for imperialism in one form or another”.(5) In our pamphlet on the Spanish Civil War we have previously published some translations from Bilan which are worth calling attention to.(6)

In the days after July 19th, the Catalan proletariat reached a crossroads. Either it would go on to a higher phase in its struggle, since the bourgeois state was destroyed, or capitalism would rebuild its apparatus of domination … there immediately arose an agonising dilemma: either to take part in a more profound way in a political battle for the total destruction of the capitalist state, and thus to complete their economic and military successes, or to leave the oppressive machinery of the enemy still standing, and allow it to adulterate and liquidate the workers’ gains … to carry out its counter-revolutionary plan the bourgeoisie appealed to the Centrists [Stalinists], the Socialists, to the CNT and the FAI and to the POUM, who all led the workers to believe that the State changes when the personnel which direct it change.

Bilan, May-June 1937,

Evans ends the book on a positive note: the resistance to anarchist collaborationism which he unearths can be a “source of hope” for those fighting for a different society today (p.230). But, in order to truly absorb the political lessons of that period, we have to point out the limitations of this resistance. It is striking that, with a few exceptions, the oppositional anarchists did not come to a rejection of the logic of the anti-fascist front, which in those years revealed itself to be synonymous with the defence of the democratic state. They also for the most part still had illusions in the possibility of reforming the unions (both the CNT and UGT), which at that point were actively helping to integrate workers into the democratic state. In contrast, this is where the clarity of Bilan shines through – though of course its warnings had no effect on the course of events in Spain itself.

The failure of oppositional anarchists to break, politically and organisationally, with bodies that had crossed the rubicon is, in some ways, reminiscent of those elements who stayed in the ranks of the mass organisations responsible for the betrayal of 1914, when parties such as the Social Democratic Party of Germany (Sozialdemokratische Partei Deutschlands, SPD) and unions such as the General Confederation of Labour (Confédération Générale du Travail, CGT) sided with their own governments.(7) And here, Evans is absolutely correct in pointing out the fact that Spain was spared a 1914, since it remained neutral throughout the First World War, which meant the CNT “did not have to face the existential crisis of whether to continue oppositional activity against the government in wartime, the question which had split the socialist movement throughout the continent” (p.13). When that question reappeared in 1936 in full force, revolutionary workers did not have the toolset to answer it. Although Evans and Guillamón may see the constant references on the pages of Bilan to the need for a “class party” as Leninist dogmatism, what the need for a “class party” translates to in practical terms is the existence of a political reference point on the ground which is able to provide workers with that toolset. In Spain, despite the valiant struggle of its working class, such a reference point was ultimately lacking.

Evans also points out how, despite the suggestion of some anarchist militants to form mass assemblies of workers which could overcome the bureaucracies of both the UGT and CNT (p.84), there was an “absence of any such organisation outside of the unions through which workers could fraternise and advance an independent agenda” (p.217). This is an important observation, especially as we are seeing a certain revival of trade unionism today. A class movement which remains within the framework of the unions, and does not create sufficient organs (which historically we would consider to be strike committees, mass assemblies and workers’ councils) open to and directly controlled by all workers and without special privileges for members of trade unions or political organisations, leaves itself open to demobilisation by the unions. Which is exactly what happened in both July 1936 and May 1937 at the hands of the CNT. Evans seems to believe there were two more opportunities for a “new July”, in August and September 1937 – while this may have been the hope of some militants, it seems to us by that point the working class had been sufficiently beaten back.

Finally, Evans draws parallels to the situation in Russia on at least three occasions. Firstly, he suggests that both in Spain 1936 and Russia 1917 advances of the revolution were “predicated on the decomposition of the state and the creation of alternative sources of legitimacy and power by armed workers” (p.64). However, the important difference here is that the Bolsheviks did not accommodate the provisional government of Alexander Kerensky, as the CNT did with the government of Largo Caballero, but proceeded to organise against it in favour of soviet power. It was the failure of the revolution to spread, rather than the failure of a revolutionary organisation to move against the capitalist state, which led to degeneration of an increasingly isolated revolutionary bastion. Secondly, Evans mentions how once revolutionary changes had been truncated, “dissident currents confronted revolutionary leaderships, Bolshevik and anarcho-syndicalist, who considered their participation in the state to be irreversible” (p.186). Here he rightly refers to the journal Kommunist which already in 1918 began to criticise the course of the Russian Revolution – we have translated the contents of this journal with some critical comments and are in the process of putting it together as a book.(8) However, the fact that the CNT became an agent of counter-revolution despite its federalism shows that maybe democratic centralism, as practised by the Bolsheviks before 1921, was not the source of the failure of the Russian Revolution, as some anarchists claim. Thirdly, Evans makes the point that both in Russia and Spain “civil war, and the urgent assessment of priorities that it entailed, was the means by which the revolutionary organisations became, to a greater or lesser extent, agents of state reconstruction” (p.228). The fact that “conventional war [appears] to demand a conventional state” is a warning for future revolutionary movements – as we observed in Russia, the move away from workers’ militias to the creation of a Red Army outside the control of the working class was just one manifestation of the arrival of the counter-revolution.(9)

To conclude, we welcome the publication of this book which, despite coming from an anarchist perspective, is not afraid to deal with troubling realities. We hope the fact that in 1936 not all anarchist militants accepted the counter-revolutionary road taken by their own organisations encourages some critical reflection among modern day anarchists. After all, the “pre-existing ambiguities within the [anarchist] movement” (pp.146-7) continue to have tragic consequences today, as many once again align themselves with the capitalist state, this time in the name of Ukrainian independence against Russian imperialism.(10)

Communist Workers’ Organisation
7 May 2023



(2) Apart from Evans’ book, see also: Print Culture and the Formation of the Anarchist Movement in Spain, 1890–1915 by James Michael Yeoman (2022), The July Revolution: Barcelona 1909 by Leopoldo Bonafulla (2021), Insurrection: The Bloody Events of May 1937 in Barcelona by Agustín Guillamón (2020), and Sons of Night: Antoine Gimenez’s Memories of the War in Spain by Antoine Gimenez (2019).




(6) For our pamphlet on Spain, see:

(7) For more on this, see our critique of syndicalism:

(8) See the translations already available on our website:

(9) For our in depth analysis of the Russian Revolution, see:


Thursday, May 11, 2023


Perhaps only a speculative thought, off on a tangent, but say the non-collaborative pole had the upper hand, would there have been a possibility of an adequate political reference emerging capable of carrying out the role required for revolution? In other words, does this leave the door open to a future anarchist led revolution that does not make the same mistakes? Probably several consequences to consider if the answer is yes.

Counter-historicals are always a bit fraught, but say there was enough of an intransigent political leadership and genuinely revolutionary potential that the Spanish working class overthrew the republic and the military, I'm not sure that it could have done enough to spark a world revolution, and short of that, what would have happened? What made Spain unusual in the '30s was that its working class hadn't been coralled behind the state as it had elsewhere and its organisations hadn't been completely smashed. However, it was still weak (as historical developments showed) and unable to go as far as the Russian working class had 20 years before.

If it hadn't failed, could it have inspired world revolution? If nothing else changed, probably not, given that the world revolution had peaked and died before the end of the '20s. The revolution needs to spread to survive. Could a revolution in Spain have spread to France or Italy, or further afield? The working class worldwide was on the defensive - Nazism, Fascism, Stalinism, the New Deal, the De Man plan... the counter-revolution had gained the upper hand, and the world was moving towards war. Revolutionary movements were crushed, the political minorities fragmented, in prison, exiled, in hiding from Stalin's, and Hitler's, and Mussolini's, executioners. It's difficult to see where a revolution in Spain would have found an echo given the brutality that had already been unleashed on the working class in a great many places.

And without an echo, what then? It's hard to see how anything other than 'another Russia' could have emerged. A 'red' dictatorship over Spain, rather than a 'white' one, and probably less long-lasting. The revolutionary dictatorship of the collectives would quickly, I suspect, have given way to a strightforward dictatorship of some strongman capable of commanding the respect of the militia and turned Spain into a kind of Cuba, socialist in name only.

Hard to disagree but as you say "if nothing else changed" and maybe the aligniment of several factors could have given rise to something other than "another Russia" but it is all speculative. A possible outcome in the absence of "an echo" would have been an eventual topping of the attempted revoutionary regime from within rather than its degeneration into counter revolution as per Russia. Still, I think the main question remains - a future anarchist led revolution that does not make the same mistakes. Or maybe to reframe it, is there any need to insist on point 6 - "An orientation towards the organisation of revolutionaries based on Marxist methodology." A marxist methodology which I think could mean many different things to different pople.