An anatomy of revolution: Trotsky and the Spanish Revolution, 1931-1935 (Part I)

Read Part II - Trotsky’s Marxism and the Test of Events, 1931-1935 here By Nathan Moore, Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal

PART I - Trotsky’s Marxism and Pre-revolutionary Spain, 1930-1931

1. Introduction

2. The set-up, 1930-1931

3. The “objective” elements of the revolution

a. A survey of economic development b. The leading role of the working class c. The political forces

4. The “subjective” elements of revolution

a. The role of democratic reforms and demands b. The “united front”: a strategy to win the masses

i. The Socialist Party (PSOE) ii. Anarcho-Syndicalists (CNT and FAI)

c. The need for a revolutionary party

5. The rights of nations to self-determination 6. Conclusion


The enmities that gave rise to the Civil War were not of sudden growth. They had been steadily developing since the fall of the monarchy and the proclamation of the Republic in April, 1931…”1

  • Burnett Bolloten

[R]evolution itself must not by any means be regarded as a single act… but as a series of more or less powerful outbreaks rapidly alternating with periods of more or less complete calm.2

  • V.I. Lenin

The Spanish Civil War (1936-1939) witnessed the most significant military confrontation between revolutionary workers and fascists of the 20th century. Workers’ control of industry and political life in the cities accompanied collectivization movements in the countryside. This historical moment cannot be fully understood without looking at the pre-Civil War period – the transition from dictatorship to democracy in 1931 until the election of the left-wing Popular Front government in February of 1936. These pre-revolutionary years pushed to the surface a plethora of political parties, organizations and tendencies vying for leadership in the eventual struggle against fascism, and for democracy and socialism. Leon Trotsky offered considerable insight and clarity into the nature of the revolution during these years despite an assortment of competing political forces, vast geographical distance, and the constraints of political exile. The purpose of this two-part article is to examine the pre-Civil War years (1931-1935) utilizing Trotsky’s analysis of Spain (part 1) and assess the accuracy of Trotsky’s approach by looking at the historical events as they unfolded from 1930-1935 (part 2).3 This is necessary in order to understand how critical these years were to shaping the Civil War and revolution of 1936 and, ultimately, how the revolution failed to become socialist.4

Trotsky brought to the Spanish Revolution the experience of generations of revolutionary struggle. By 1931, Trotsky had participated in, and had led, the Russian revolutionary movement for three decades and through three Russian Revolutions: 1905, February 1917, and October 1917. During the 1920’s, Trotsky opposed Joseph Stalin’s abandonment of international socialism and his role in stifling a promising pre-revolutionary moment in England and a revolutionary one China. For his dedication in defending an internationalist and socialism-from-below perspective, Trotsky was expelled from the USSR in 1929. He had already spent a year within the USSR as an exile, physically and politically barred from the Communist Party and living in Alma-Ata (present day Kazakhstan).

By the end of 1931 – about one year after a mass movement for democracy had begun to sweep Spain – Trotsky had already articulated a thorough analytical and strategic approach to pre-revolutionary Spain. Trotsky’s writings of 1930 and 1931 are compilations of articles, letters, pamphlets, and bulletins that were written to the Communist Opposition of Spain (Oposición Comunista de España – OCE), a group that hoped to build a revolutionary workers’ party. Trotsky’s writings were not meant to provide day-to-day coverage on the events unfolding in Spain; rather, they provide a general analysis regarding the character of the revolution and articulate a political strategy that the OCE would utilize in shaping its political and organizational activity.5

Through this correspondence, Trotsky sought to answer this central question: how can workers win political power and collectively administer society in their interests? Trotsky’s answer can be summarized with the following series of interrelated questions:

  1. What are the peculiarities of Spanish economic development?

  2. What social classes result from that economic development? What is the relative weight of the working class in relation to other social classes?

  3. What political parties and organizations exist, in the interests of which social class(es) do they speak, and within which social class(es) have they established leadership?

  4. How can the working class politically lead itself and the diverse middle class surrounding it?

  5. What reforms should be fought for, and what demands should be advanced, that can unify parties and organizations on the left – and all social classes subordinated to capital – in order to fight the political forces on the right who defend capitalism in decline?

These questions demonstrate the scientific nature of Trotsky’s thought and a Marxist approach to revolution. The economic base of society produces social classes, determines which classes are predominant, and those that are structurally capable of leading other social classes in the transformation of society. All social classes have political leadership i.e. parties and organizations that represent them. Nevertheless, it is not automatic that a given political party represents the interest of the social class it claims to represent. These conditions require that the working class organize themselves in a political party to fight for their primary class interest: an end to the exploitation of workers’ labor under capitalism and the establishment of socialism. This party is the structure through which the working class fighters can unify and mobilize other political forces – and social classes that are fettered by capitalism –around specific democratic demands. The process of mobilizing and fighting for these “immediate” and democratic demands empowers the working class to struggle for more and is the starting point for a complete social transformation.

The set-up, 1930-1931

The dictatorship that ruled Spain through the 1920’s ended when General Primo de Rivera abdicated in January of 1930. General Dámaso Berenguer Fusté assumed leadership over an interim government created to oversee the transition to “democracy” (in reality, a constitutional monarchy). Although the upper echelons of Spanish society anticipated the transition to be peaceful, 1930 was a year of rising struggle. According to Paul Preston, "1930 saw, in comparison with 1929, four times as many strikes, involving five times as many strikers, with a loss of ten times as many working days."6 The strike wave first emerged in the provinces of Cataluña, Levante, Aragon, and Andalucía in June. It swept through the south during that summer to the regions of Seville, Granada, again to Andalucía, and Málaga. By September, it had reached the north – Asturias, Galicia, and the Basque region. Come November, the two largest trade union federations had helped organize a general strike in Madrid.7

This deluge of struggle was, in part, a response to the contraction of the Spanish economy with the onset of the worldwide economic downturn of the 1930's. Nonetheless, while economic grievances certainly provided an impetus to the struggle, as the year of 1930 passed, the strikes took on an increasingly political character - the masses were protesting government repression and advocating change to a more democratic form of government.8 The strikes of 1930 reached proportions they did because there were trade unions and political parties on the left to harness and lead that sentiment, lending mutual support to one another.

Berenguer proposed elections to the Cortes (the equivalent of a parliament) to be held for March 1st, 1931. The masses responded with protests, pushing the Republican Party to lead the call for an election boycott. The protests eventually forced the resignation of Berenguer in February. King Alfonso assumed leadership over the interim government, hoping to consolidate support for a constitutional monarchy through municipal elections which were announced for April 12, 1931. The elections resulted in an overwhelming victory for the liberal capitalist Republican Party. The Republican Party formed a cabinet with the Socialist Party and announced elections to the Cortes for June.9

The Cortes elections in June resulted in an endorsement for the Republican and Socialist parties, solidifying the coalition government that inaugurated the Second Republic. The Republicans represented a majority in the coalition - the Socialists, the minority. The Republican leader Niceto Álaca-Zamora assumed the presidency, and Manuel Azaña, also a Republican, became prime minister. The office of the president held a mandate for a six-year term during which he would be empowered to dissolve the Cortes and call new elections on two occasions.10 Trotsky observed that Republican assumption to government was not due to any revolutionary initiative of their own but rather the pressures of the mass democratic movement sweeping Spain.11

The objective elements of the revolution

A survey of economic development

1. What are the peculiarities of Spanish economic development?

Trotsky’s analytical point of departure was to answer this question. To begin, he discussed how Spain’s past shaped its level of development in 1931:

“Spain is unmistakably among the most backward countries of Europe. But its backwardness has a singular character, invested by the great heroic past of the country. While the Russia of the czars always lagged far behind its western neighbors and advanced slowly under their pressure, Spain knew periods of great bloom, of superiority over the rest of Europe and of domination over South America. The mighty development of domestic and world commerce increasingly overcame the effect of feudal dismemberment of the provinces and the particularism of the national regions of the country. The growth of the power and importance of the Spanish monarchy in those centuries was inextricably bound up with the centralizing role of mercantile capital and with the gradual formation of the ‘Spanish nation.’ ”12

Paradoxically, the wealth that poured into Spain during the colonial era did not contribute to its industrialization; rather, it facilitated Spain’s eventual economic and political decay. The riches were squandered on sustaining an overbearing and bureaucratic empire, the extravagant consumption of the monarchy, and imports from the maturing capitalist regions –the Netherlands and England. Domestic industry was not encouraged to develop, and could not, as long as the English and the Dutch could provide Spanish markets with cheap industrial goods.13 Spain’s colonial empire fomented anemic capitalist development, contributing to its decentralization and the prominence of provincial peculiarities. Trotsky writes:

“Spain’s retarded development inevitably weakened the centralist tendencies inherent in capitalism. The decline of commercial and industrial life in the cities and of the economic ties between them inevitably led to the lessening of the dependence of individual provinces upon each other. This is the chief reason why bourgeois Spain has not succeeded to this day in eliminating the centrifugal tendencies of its historic provinces. The meagerness of the national resources and the feeling of restlessness all over the country could not help but foster separatist tendencies. Particularism appears in Spain with unusual force, especially compared with neighboring France, where the Great Revolution finally established the bourgeois nation, united and indivisible, over the old feudal provinces.”14

The weak thrust and “centrifugal” tendencies of capitalist development produced fragile political institutions void of any semblance of democracy and aggravated provincial antagonisms between the capital, Madrid, and the Basque and Catalan regions, provoking movements for autonomy and independence in these two latter areas. Trotsky observed:

“The predominance of the centrifugal tendencies over the centripetal ones in the economy as well as in politics undermined the foundation of Spanish parliamentarism. The government’s pressure on the electorate was decisive: throughout the last century, elections unfailingly gave the government a majority. Because the Cortes found itself dependent upon the successive ministries, the ministries themselves naturally sank into dependence on the monarchy. Madrid held the elections but the king held the power. The monarchy was doubly necessary to disunited and decentralized ruling classes, which were incapable of governing the country in their own name.” 15

Feeble economic development and political institutions had reinforced one another, producing the need for the monarchy to rely on its backward institutions in order to hold the country together. These institutions were the church, the army, and the Guardia Civil (the police force in the countryside). Trotsky explained the centralizing role of the church:

“Alongside the monarchy, and in alliance with it, the clergy represents another centralized force. Catholicism, to this day, remains a state religion; the clergy plays a big role in the life of a country, being the firmest axis of reaction. The state spends many tens of millions of pesetas annually to support the church.” 16

The church garnered wealth in the midst of poverty and misery. A report to the Cortes in 1931 estimated that the Jesuit order possessed one-third of the country’s entire wealth. They owned industrial and financial enterprises, even exploiting unpaid labor to amass profits.17

The army was another bureaucratic and parasitic left-over from the monarchy – one in six military personnel were officers and one in every hundred, a general.18 Trotsky described the centralizing role of the army:

“The history of Spain is the history of continual revolutionary convulsions. Military coups and palace revolutions follow on each other’s heels. During the nineteenth century and the first third of the twentieth, political regimes kept changing kaleidoscopically. Not finding sufficiently stable support in any of the propertied classes – even though they all needed it – the Spanish monarchy more than once fell into dependence upon its own army”19

The army, an institution which sought to arbitrate political upheaval and conflict contributed to the instability; during the reign of Queen Isabella, there were eighteen major military coups and thirty-nine different cabinets in the span of twenty-five years.20 Spain lost its colonial possessions – the Philippines, Cuba, and Hispañola – to the United States after the Spanish-American war in 1898. The victory over Morocco proved pyrrhic, costing tens of thousands of lives and hundreds of millions of pesetas.21

Spain’s weighty feudal past meant that agriculture was predominant – seventy percent of the total population still derived a living from the countryside in 1931. The latifundios (large estates) were a dominant feature of the Spanish countryside. Francis Lannon relates the underdevelopment of these areas:

“Tracts of uncultivated land; a wasteful three-field system (tres hojas) with only one-third cultivated at any one time; scandalously low harvest yields; lack of fertilizers, irrigation, and other technical improvements; fertile land given over to raising fighting bulls; absentee landlords; day-laborers living in appalling barracks (cortijos) separated for months on end from their families; laborers with little or no income in the winter months…”22

The church, which profited greatly from this misery in the hinterlands, was solidly against even the most modest reform that would alleviate this poverty.23 Land was so tied up with finance capital that its redistribution threatened the very basis of capitalism. The Institute for Agrarian Reform, in order to not threaten the precarious stability of Spanish capitalism, did not redistribute land but merely rented it out to sharecroppers and tenant farmers, leaving these small proprietors to remain under the tutelage of the latifundistas (large landowners).

Spain had experienced a boost in industrial production during World War I, providing goods for foreign markets in the mining, textile, and agricultural goods sectors. However, when the war came to an end, Spain lost those markets and, under the Rivera dictatorship, protected its industry with high tariffs. Britain and France retaliated, raising tariffs on Spanish agricultural goods. This crippled the Spanish economy since agricultural goods accounted for two-thirds of total exports, precipitating an agricultural crisis and reinforcing the industrial downturn.24 Consequently, the domestic prices of goods rose, diminishing the purchasing power of the poor.25

By 1931, industry represented roughly thirty percent of the total economy. The iron, steel, and extractive industries, as well as the financial sector, were located in the Basque region. Much of the financial capital was foreign-based giving Spain a “semi-colonial status” in Europe. Mining was predominant in the region of Asturias. The textile and light-manufacturing sector, which consisted of small firms, resided mostly in Cataluña.26 Madrid’s main enterprises were in the transportation, service, construction, light industrial and textile sectors.27 The vast countryside was a combination of small to medium-sized peasant-owned plots of land in the northern and central provinces and latifundios in the southern provinces that employed agricultural labor and were rented out to tenant farmers and sharecroppers.28

The leading role of the working class

2. What social classes result from that economic development? What is the relative weight of the working class in relation to other social classes?

Uneven industrial development throughout Spain created the following arrangement of social classes:

  • the privileged classes represented roughly one million people i.e. bureaucratic officials, priests, military officers, big landowners and capitalists.

  • the upper middle-classes represented approximately two million people: one million well-to-do peasants, one million middle-class professionals and small business owners in the urban centers.

  • The lower middle classes and working classes represented about eight million people: one million small craftsman, between two and three million industrial workers and miners, between two and three million agricultural workers, and two million small rural proprietors (i.e. peasants, tenant farmers, and sharecroppers).29

Spanish capitalism, although appearing late relative to other industrial nations, had fully penetrated the countryside but was marked with primitive production techniques bequeathed by a feudal past. Consequently, the capitalist class - itself composed of the most backward looking agrarian landlords - was ill-suited to fight for even modest democratic reform, let alone establishing a robust democracy. Trotsky compared the weak Spanish capitalist class with the bolder bourgeoisies of England in the 17th century and the French in 1789. He wrote:

“Now even less than in the nineteenth century can the Spanish bourgeoisie lay claim to the historic role which the British and French bourgeoisie's once played. Appearing too late, dependent on foreign capital, the big industrial bourgeoisie of Spain, which has dug like a leech into the body of the people, is incapable of coming forward as the leader of the ‘nation’ against the old estates, even for a brief period. The magnates of Spanish industry face the people hostilely, forming a most reactionary bloc of bankers, industrialists, large landowners, the monarchy, its generals and officials, all devouring each other in internal antagonisms.”30

It was impossible for the capitalist class to wage a fight against the feudal features of production because capitalism had grown relatively peacefully within feudalism, depending much on the traditional institutions of the monarchy to discipline the working class. Trotsky explained:

“In Spain, capitalism must use feudal means to exploit the peasantry. To aim the weapon of revolution against the remnants of the Spanish Middle Ages means to aim it against the very roots of bourgeois rule” 31

Uneven economic development and the overwhelming participation of large landowners in capital formation produced significant inequities in land distribution – 1.5 million of the small rural proprietors only possessed 2.5 acre plots of land and they were forced to work on large estates in order to survive. In contrast, 50,000 members of the gentry owned half of the total acreage in Spain and 10,000 landowners owned 250 or more acres.32

Industrialization in the early decades of the 20th century Spain changed the class composition of the country, concentrating workers into large enterprises. Trotsky wrote:

“The last decades, particularly the years of the world war, produced important changes in the economy and the social structure of the country. Of course, Spain still remains at the tail end of Europe. But the country has experienced its own industrial development, in both extractive and light industry. During the war, coal mining, textiles, the construction of hydroelectric stations, etc. were greatly advanced. Industrial centers and regions sprang up all over the country. This created a new relationship of forces and opened up new perspectives… industrial development raised the proletariat to its feet and strengthened it.”33

In the Spain of old, small entrepreneurs (the “petty-bourgeoisie”) - the social class scrunched between the big capitalists and the working class – dominated in the production and distribution of goods. However, industrialization took the leading role away from this social class. Trotsky explained that the working class was not only the newer social class, but the most formidable. Unlike peasants or small businessmen, the working class owned nothing but their labor and had an interest in running those firms for the collective good of society. In other words, the working class was the only group structurally capable of leading society out of a capitalist system. For Trotsky, the emergent Spanish working class in a primarily agrarian country resembled the social composition of Russia during the revolution of 1917.34

For the working class, the fight against feudal forms of exploitation and capitalism could not be separated – capitalist economic relations were dominant and had fully penetrated the Spanish countryside. However, the industrial working class being the critical social class did not mean that the it could wage revolution on its own – it needed an alliance with other groups and social classes subjugated and oppressed by big capital. One group was the agricultural workers – they would lead the revolution in the countryside. Trotsky explained:

“…we must by no means forget about the independent role of the agricultural workers. They are the main instruments of the proletarian revolution in the rural districts. With the peasants, the workers have an alliance, but the agricultural workers are a part of the proletariat itself. This important distinction must always be kept in mind.”35

To summarize, the working class was the only class capable of reconstituting society on the basis of collectivized wealth. This class included agricultural laborers who worked, but did not own, the land, the machinery or tools i.e. the “means of production.” Revolution demanded that the industrial working class in the cities, and the agricultural laborers in the countryside, organize themselves and lead the sympathetic middle-classes (peasants, tenant farmers, sharecroppers, well-to-peasants, small businessmen, professionals etc.) in the fight for socialism. However, all this demanded a revolutionary leadership among the working class with a clear political program and strategy to lead itself and other potentially sympathetic social forces.

The political forces

3. What political parties and organizations exist, in the interests of which social class(es) do they speak, and within which social class(es) have they established leadership?

By 1931, a variety of organizations and parties existed that gave political expression to the struggle between social classes.36 The political party that spoke consistently for the "democratic" reform interests of the ruling class was the Republican Party, itself a grouping of liberal capitalist parties of various political shades. The Radical Party (Alejandro Lerroux) represented the right wing of the Republican coalition parties. This party was thoroughly conservative – they had the allegiance of those sectors of the middle and lower middle-classes who were tired of the monarchy, sick of the role of the church and the army in political affairs, but were most afraid of the popular social movements simmering under the surface of Spanish society.37 The conservative Republican party in Cataluña was the Lliga Regionalista which had the allegiance of the sharecroppers (rabassaires). The smaller left-wing Republican parties were: the Catalan party Esquerra (Miguel Maura and Lluis Companys); Acción Republicana (Manuel Azaña); the Radical Socialists and a Republican party in Galicia. These parties represented the interests of those progressive middle and lower middle-class members who wished for a completion of the liberal revolution that failed during the 19th century. They were predominantly doctors, lawyers, university professors and other professionals. 38 Although separated into respective right and left tendencies, all parties in the Republican coalition desired a peaceful transition from monarchical dictatorship to capitalist democracy and economic development – a tall order during revolution. Trotsky said of the Republicans:

“In their highest echelons, the Spanish republicans are distinguished by an extremely conservative social program… their fear of the masses is greater than their hostility to the monarchy.”39

In the same letter, Trotsky wrote of this bourgeois party:

“The base of support of the Spanish republicans, as we have already said, is completely on present property relations. We can expect them to neither expropriate the big landowners, nor to liquidate the privileges of the Catholic Church, nor to cleanse the Augean stables of the civil and military bureaucracy.”40

The mass formations of the political left were Socialists and anarcho-syndicalists. The Spanish Socialist Party (Partido Socialista Obrera de España – PSOE) held leadership over the Unión General de Trabajadores (UGT), an important trade union federation. In 1930, the UGT boasted a membership of 287,000 but its union would expand rapidly in the next few years of the Second Republic.41 The UGT would incorporate into it the National Federation of Land Workers (Federación Nacional de Trabajadores de la Tierra - FNTT) - a union for agricultural laborers. The PSOE was affiliated with the Second International and sought the peaceful expansion and protection of workers’ rights.42 Both the PSOE and UGT were dominant in Madrid, New Castile, Old Castile, Estremadura, Asturias, and the Basque Country.43 The most prominent leaders of the PSOE and UGT were Indalecio Prieto and Largo Caballero.

The anarcho-syndicalists, although not an official political party, led the Confederación Nacional de Trabajo (CNT) and the Federación Anarquista Ibérica (FAI) trade unions. The CNT (Angel Pestaña and Juan Peiro) dominated politically in Cataluña and also held political sway in the provinces of Aragon, Valencia, and among the agricultural workers in the southern province of Andalucía.44 The anarchists had led many important struggles, facilitating the expansion of their unions, but abstained from political issues on principle, and supported isolated insurrections against the government without a program of ultimately taking political power.45 The FAI (Buenaventura Durruti and Garcia Olivar), established in 1927, was the more political and militant wing of the anarchist movement and, when it ultimately fused with the CNT, politically led that new grouping – the CNT-FAI. Unlike the PSOE and the UGT, which bargained peacefully with the Primo de Rivera dictatorship during the 1920’s, the CNT was declared illegal and forced underground.46 In 1931, total membership of the CNT-FAI was 500,000 members.47

On the far right, the monarchist parties still possessed substantial influence over the most traditional institutions of Spanish society: the church, the aristocratic officer corps of the army, and the Guardia Civil. These parties were: Renovación Española (Antonio Goicoechea and Calvo Sotelo); the explicitly monarchist Traditionalist Communion, a Carlist tendency that had a social base in the reactionary well-to-do peasantry of the Navarre province; Acción Popular (Gil Robles) which was a Catholic party that sought political power through legal means and was by far the most successful of the far-right parties. By 1934, Acción Popular had gathered thirty-six conservative groups and parties into a coalition called CEDA (Confederación Española de Derechas Autónomas). CEDA sympathized with Hitler and Mussolini and consolidated the base of future fascism in Spain, funneling their members into the Falange Española (the explicitly fascist party led by José Antonio Primo de Rivera) with the outbreak of Civil War in 1936.48 Acción Popular/CEDA, represented the typical politics of a proto-fascist coalition – it desired, through electoral means, a return to life under the monarchy, “a corporatist state,” the rule of traditional institutions, and consequently fought every progressive reform proposed by the Second Republic.49

The groups on the radical left were: the Spanish Communist Party (Partido Comunista de España – PCE), with about 800 members in 1930 50 and led by José Díaz and Jesús Hernández; the Catalan-Baleric Communist Federation, also known as the Workers’ and Peasants Bloc (Bloc Obrer i Camperol – BOC), 51 and led by Joaquín Maurín with a few thousand members; and the Spanish Communist Opposition (Oposición Comunista de España – OCE) whose most distinct leaders were Andreu Nin and Juan Andrade. The OCE was an affiliate of the International Left Opposition (ILO), the expelled faction of the official Communist Party of the USSR led by Trotsky. Although the OCE possessed only a handful of followers (about 50) in 1931, it was the organization with the clearest political analysis of the unfolding revolution and the best program for political action. Consequently, it offered the best chance for building a revolutionary party that could lead the working class to power. The OCE would name itself the Izquierda Comunista de España (ICE) at their congress held in March 1932.

The “subjective” elements of revolution

4. How can the working class politically lead itself and the diverse middle class surrounding it?

5. What reforms should be fought for, and what demands should be advanced, that can unify parties and organizations on the left – and all social classes subordinated to capital – in order to fight the political forces on the right who defend capitalism in decline?

The past economic and political development of Spain (the “objective” elements of revolution), shaped 1931 Spain. This accumulation of history was what Marx referred to as the “circumstances existing already, given and transmitted from the past.” I now turn to the role of human agents in transforming their world – the part where “men make history” (the “subjective” elements of revolution) according to the circumstances in which they are rooted. Trotsky’s answer to these questions comes in three parts: 1) understanding the important role in fighting sincerely and wholeheartedly for democratic demands, 2) conducting a “united front” with other left parties to win these demands in order to 3) build and consolidate a mass revolutionary leadership of workers within a single political party. This party would be the only force capable of leading the oppressed and exploited majority to take state power in order to organize production collectively for the benefit of the majority. Because the OCE was a very small organization at the start of the pre-revolutionary events, Trotsky spoke most about the critical role of democratic demands in the developing social upheaval that would facilitate the growth of the OCE.

The role of democratic demands

As explained earlier, a modern industrial working class existed in an economically backward Spain that knew no democracy. Because the capitalists, through the Republican Party, were too cowardly to champion substantive democratic reform, the working class had to be the leading force in the fight for democracy. Democratic demands were the medium through which the OCE could unify the forces on the left to fight the right and consolidate the best working class fighters into one party, thereby pushing the revolution forward. The struggle for democracy, in the midst of a revolution, overlapped with the fight for working class demands (decent wages and land), and would inevitably transcend to more radical socialist demands (for example, workers’ control of industry and establishment of workers’ councils) at a certain stage of the struggle. Democratic demands would have to be fought for utilizing “extra-parliamentary” means (i.e. pickets, demonstrations, strikes etc.). During the struggle for democracy the masses reach a point where they gain confidence in their momentum and power; this is the stage when revolutionaries can advance more radical democratic, and socialist, demands.

In his first letter to the Spanish Opposition in January 1930 (written following Primo de Rivera’s abdication), Trotsky discussed the role of democratic demands in the future revolution:

“By advancing democratic slogans, the proletariat is not in any way suggesting that Spain is heading toward a bourgeois revolution...Spain has left the stage of bourgeois revolution far behind...But in this epoch, the proletariat can lead the revolution – that is, group the broadest masses and of the working class and oppressed around itself and become their leader – only on the condition that it now unreservedly puts forth all democratic demands, in conjunction with its own class demands.”52

So, according to Trotsky, the revolution could not be bourgeois in character, the peaceful development of capitalism within a feudal Spain thwarted such an endeavor. However, the Spanish workers and peasants were not yet committed to socialist revolution. The masses yearned for democracy, and it was the role of revolutionaries within the working class to demonstrate how the instinctual democracy of the working and peasant masses was synonymous with class demands and revolutionary socialism i.e. radical economic democracy. Would raising democratic demands fool the masses into believing the Republicans had their interests at heart? Trotsky answered:

“Needless to say, democratic demands under no circumstances have as their object drawing the proletariat closer to the republican bourgeoisie. On the contrary, they create the basis for a victorious struggle against the leftist bourgeoisie, making it possible to disclose its anti-democratic character at every step. The more courageously, resolutely, and implacably, the proletarian vanguard fights for democratic slogans, the sooner it will win over the masses and undermine the support for the bourgeois republicans and Socialist reformists. The more quickly their best elements join us the sooner the democratic republic will be identified in the mind of the masses with the workers’ republic.”53

Bold democratic slogans would expose the vacuous democracy of the Republican bourgeoisie, ill-suited for waging a determined battle for liberty against the monarchy:

“By supporting all really democratic and revolutionary movements of the popular masses, the communist vanguard will be leading and uncompromising struggle against the so-called republican bourgeoisie, unmasking its double-dealing, its treachery, and its reactionary character, and its attempts to subject the toiling masses to its influence.”54

When Berenguer had announced elections to the Cortes for March 1st, Trotsky argued that a boycott of this election was appropriate, understanding that any Cortes set up would be a “sham.” Nevertheless, it was not sufficient to merely criticize Berenguer through a boycott – it was necessary to provide an alternative. Therefore, the OCE should advance the argument for a “revolutionary Constituent Cortes” instead of the anti-democratic Berenguer Cortes in order to initiate the discussion among left workers and peasants about how real democracy could be won i.e. through workers’ revolution and socialism. Trotsky argued:

“But even while boycotting Berenguer’s Cortes, the advanced workers would have to counterpose to it the slogan of a revolutionary Constituent Cortes. We must relentlessly disclose the fraudulence of the slogan constituent Cortes in the mouth of the ‘left’ bourgeoisie, which, in reality, wants a conciliationist Cortes by the good graces of the king and Berenguer, for the purpose of haggling with the old ruling and privileged cliques. A genuine constituent assembly can be convoked only by a revolutionary government, as a result of a victorious insurrection of the workers, soldiers, and peasants [emphasis in original].”55

After mass protest forced the resignation of Berenguer from the interim government, Trotsky reiterated the importance of agitating for the “revolutionary constituent Cortes” based on “universal suffrage without discrimination of sex, from the age of eighteen, with no restrictions.”56 The April elections and the creation of a “democratic” capitalist government allowed for revolutionaries to raise the most radical demands. Trotsky argued:

“The communists issue the most radical democratic slogans: complete freedom for the proletarian organizations; freedom of local self-administration; election of all officials by the people; admission of suffrage to men and women from the age of eighteen, etc.; formation of a workers’ militia and later on of a peasants’ militia, confiscation of all properties of the monarchy and the church for the benefit of the people, above all, for the unemployed and the poor peasants and for improving the conditions of the soldiers; complete separation of church and state.”57

In addition, Trotsky argued that his comrades should demand the “arrest [of] the most prominent leaders and supporters of the old regime [and] confiscate the property of the monarchy.” These democratic demands – far from channeling working class struggle down the path of pure reformism – were very radical, and served to connect in the minds of the Spanish masses, the relationship between democracy and socialism.

The Communist Party of Spain (PCE) had (consistent with its ultra-radicalism during this time) raised the “dictatorship of the proletariat” as the principal slogan to advance the revolution. Trotsky discussed the limitations of this slogan in the following way:

“We can and must counterpose the revolutionary Cortes to the conciliationist Cortes; but, to our mind, it would be incorrect, at the present stage to give up the slogan of the revolutionary Cortes. To counterpose the slogan of the dictatorship of the proletariat to the problems and slogans of revolutionary democracy (for a republic, for an agrarian revolution, for the separation of church and state, the confiscation of church properties, national self-determination, a revolutionary constituent assembly) would be the most sterile and miserable doctrinairism. Before the masses can seize power, they must unite around the leading proletarian party. The struggle for democratic representation in the Cortes, at one or another stage of the revolution, can immeasurably facilitate the solution of this problem [emphasis in original].”58

For Trotsky, the slogan “dictatorship of the proletariat” sounded too abstract and did not reach the masses of workers and peasants who had their “eyes and ears fixed on the Cortes” elections. Even worse, to the peasants, this slogan sounded as if the workers wanted to subjugate them rather than give them freedom to work the land. Trotsky asked rhetorically: why was it important to raise democratic demands to the Cortes as a focal point for revolutionary agitation? He answered:

"Precisely because the Spanish people are inclined to exaggerate the creative power of the Cortes, every awakened worker, every revolutionary peasant woman, wants to participate in the elections. We do not solidarize ourselves for a moment with the illusions of the masses; but we must utilize whatever is progressive about these illusions to the utmost [emphasis in original]..."59

Trotsky was persistent in his criticism of the thoughtless formula Stalin had advocated through the PCE: that democratic reforms were synonymous with opportunism and socialist demands with revolutionary Marxism. According to Trotsky, revolution did not obey such a formal scheme. The slogan “dictatorship of the proletariat” was, on its own, a worthless demand. Trotsky related:

“To reduce all the contradictions and all the tasks to the lowest common denominator – the dictatorship of the proletariat – is a necessary, but altogether insufficient operation. Even if one should run ahead and assume that the proletarian vanguard has grasped the idea that only the dictatorship of the proletariat can save Spain from further decay, the preparatory problem would nevertheless remain in full force: to weld around the vanguard the heterogeneous sections of the working class and the still more heterogeneous masses of the village toilers. To contrast the bare slogan of the dictatorship of the proletariat to the historically determined tasks that are now impelling the masses towards the road of insurrection would be to replace the Marxist conception of social revolution with Bakunin’s.” 60

Rather than obeying formal laws, revolution was a dynamic process which based itself, not simply on how the masses are acting, but on how they are thinking about how they are acting: in other words, their consciousness. Consciousness in revolution, or struggle of any magnitude, always lags behind action; people may be acting in a revolutionary way but their hopes still remain in finding a solution within the capitalist system. The slogan “dictatorship of the proletariat,” standing alone, was abstracted from the actual events of the revolution. In Trotsky’s mind this formal slogan needed to be filled and complemented with democratic demands that were historically relevant to the struggle. If this did not occur, the revolutionaries would not be making sense to workers around them (let alone to the non-workers) which, in turn, would reinforce their isolation.

The PCE demand for “dictatorship of the proletariat” sounded radical, but Trotsky argued that not only did such a demand not make sense and fit the present moment of the struggle, it led to disastrous tactics – around the time of the elections to the Cortes the PCE had called for the arming of workers and peasants. Trotsky argued that the arming of the workers and the peasants could not be associated with any offensive action; rather, distribution of arms could only make sense as a demand for armed defense of their organizations from right-wing attack.

Even though the revolution was in its early stages, this did not mean that the OCE need advance the hollow reforms proposed by the Republican-Socialist coalition (Part II will address these specific reforms later). Rather, Trotsky argued for radical social legislation in the form of unemployment insurance, increased taxation of the wealthy and “free popular education.” In addition, there also needed to be a series of “transitional demands” – these included: nationalization of railroads, mineral resources, banks, workers’ control of industry, and state regulation of the economy. Such transitional demands served not only to advance the revolution at a certain advanced stage of the struggle (such as a general strike) but, if won, would facilitate the planning of the state economy once workers took political power.61

Also, clear democratic demands were crucial for winning the peasants, sharecroppers, and tenant farmers to workers’ revolution. Peasants would see that the revolutionary working class party fought also for the interests of the peasants. Trotsky explained:

“The peasantry cannot give the proletariat its confidence a priori by accepting the slogan of the dictatorship of the proletariat as a verbal pledge. The peasantry, being a large and oppressed class, at a certain stage inevitably sees in the democratic slogan the possibility for the oppressed to overthrow the oppressors. The peasantry will inevitably link the slogan of political democracy with the slogan of the radical redistribution of land. The proletariat will openly support both demands.”62

Trotsky talks about the specific reforms that revolutionaries should advance and fight for together with the peasantry:

“In order to break the peasantry away from localism and reactionary influences, the proletariat needs a clear revolutionary democratic program. The yearning for land and water, the bondage caused by high rents, acutely pose the question of confiscation of private land for the benefit of the poor peasants. The burden of state finances, the unbearable government debt, bureaucratic pillage, and the African adventures pose the need for a cheap government, which can be achieved not by the owners of large estates, not by bankers and industrialists, not by the liberal nobility, but only by the toilers themselves.

The domination of the clergy and the wealth of the church put forward the democratic problem: to separate church and state and to disarm the church, transferring its wealth to the people [emphasis in original]. 63

From Trotsky’s writings during this period it is evident that the OCE was still trying to grasp how the struggle for democratic reforms would augment the fight for more radical demands like the establishment of “soviets” – workers’ councils. Addressing the OCE, Trotsky turned to the experience of the Russian Revolution of February 1917 as a reference point for appraising Spanish conditions of the moment and their future trajectory:

“a) Spain is not at war and you do have no slogan for peace; b) you don’t have workers’ soviets yet, not to speak of soldiers’ soviets… I do not even see that this slogan is being raised among the masses; c) the republican government from the very outset applies repressive measures against the left-proletarian wing, which we did not have in February because the bayonets were at the disposal of the workers’ and soldiers’ soviets and not in the hands of the liberal government….

The February regime, in the political sphere, immediately realized full and absolute democracy. The bourgeoisie maintained itself by the good will of the masses of workers and soldiers. Your bourgeoisie maintains itself not only on the good will but also on the organized violence that it took over from the old regime. You do not have complete and unconditional freedom of assembly, speech, press, etc. The electoral basis of your new municipalities is very far from democratic. Meanwhile, in a revolutionary epoch, the masses are particularly sensitive to every inequality in rights, to every form of police rule. This should be utilized. In other words, it is necessary for the communists at present to come forward as the party of the most consistent, decisive, and intransigent, defenders of democracy.”64

Democratic reforms provided the OCE with points of unity around which the left forces would consolidate their forces, expose the government ambivalence and betrayal to popular social reform, thereby building a revolutionary alternative and home for the radicalizing workers and peasants to organize. Trotsky explained:

“[Fighting for the most modest democratic reforms can] create serious difficulties for the Socialists, and drive a wedge between the Socialists and the republicans, that is, divide even for a time the enemies of the proletariat and – what is a thousand times more important – drive a wedge between the working masses and the Socialists” 65

The experience of the Russian Revolution again provided a roadmap for how this struggle for democratic reforms within a united front was absolutely necessary to win socialist revolution:

“The enormous role of the Bolshevik slogan ‘Down with the ten capitalist ministers” is well known. The slogan was adopted in 1917 at a time of the coalition between the conciliators and the bourgeois liberals. The masses still trusted the Socialist conciliators but even the most trusting masses always have an instinctive distrust of the bourgeoisie, of the exploiters, and of the capitalists. It is upon this distrust that tactic of the Bolsheviks was based during the specific period. We didn’t say ‘Down with the Socialist ministers,’ we didn’t even advance the slogan ‘Down with the Provisional Government’ as a fighting slogan of the moment, but instead we hammered incessantly on the same theme: ‘Down with the ten capitalist ministers.’ This slogan played an enormous role, because it gave the masses the opportunity to learn from their own experience that the Socialist conciliators thought much more of the capitalist ministers than of the working masses.

Slogans of that type are best fitted for the present stage of the Spanish revolution. The proletarian vanguard is fully interested in pushing the Spanish Socialists to take power into their hands. For that to happen, it is necessary to split the coalition. The present task is the fight to drive the bourgeois ministers from the coalition. The achievement of this task even in part is conceivable only in connection with important political events, under pressure of new mass movements, and so on. Thus, in Russia, under the constant pressure of the masses, first Guchov and Miliukov, then Prince Lvov, were ousted from the coalition government; Kerensky was put at the head of the government; the number of ‘Socialists’ in the government rose, and so on. After Lenin’s arrival, the Bolshevik Party did not solidarize itself for one moment with Kerensky and the conciliators, but it helped the masses to push the bourgeoisie out of power and to test the government of the conciliators in practice. That was an indispensable stage in the Bolshevik rise to power.” 66

The experience here resembled the situation in Spain and could provide the necessary next steps in the struggle:

…. The slogan ‘Down with Zamora-Maura’ is quite timely. It is only necessary to make one thing clear: the communists are not agitating in favor of the Lerroux ministry, nor are they assuming any responsibility for the Socialist ministry; but at every given moment they deliver their strongest blows against the most determined and consistent class enemy, thereby weakening the conciliators and clearing the way for the proletariat.” 67

The struggle for democratic reforms was integral to the fight for broader social transformation. Herein lies the essence of what Trotsky called “permanent revolution.” The strategy for fighting for these reforms was the “united front” - revolutionaries uniting with those who are not yet won to revolution, and in the course of struggle, weakening the political right, the capitalist system as a whole, bolstering the confidence of the working and peasant masses, and ultimately winning them over to the side of revolution and organizing workers within a revolutionary party. Now let us examine in detail the role of the “united front” and its conceptual application to the Spanish struggle.

The “united front”: a strategy to win the masses

The municipal elections in April and the Cortes elections in June confirmed Trotsky's and the OCE’s conviction that revolution was underway – the masses had voted for democracy and against the restoration of the monarchy. The time had come to unapologetically demand widespread reform and direct all political force, criticism, and agitation toward the monarchy. At the same it was critical to place the Republican-Socialist coalition under relentless criticism for balking on social reform.68

The united front strategy Trotsky articulated consisted of this: fight the reactionary and conservative monarchist right with all the forces on the left who agree; in fighting alongside other left parties and organizations, the revolutionary left would force the tepid “democrats” and reformist leaders to act; when the Republican and Socialist leadership fail to carry the struggle forward against the right, the rank-and-file would become disappointed with their leadership and seek out a new bold and revolutionary alternative. In this way, the radicalizing masses would be won to organizing within a revolutionary workers’ party, the vehicle through which workers’ revolution will be explicitly fought for and won. The united front required open discussion of the movement among all left parties involved. The revolutionary party needed to maintain political independence from other left parties in order to explicitly fight for the interests of the working class while extending the alliance of left groups “in the broadest fashion” possible.69

The need for the united front arose from the very nature of revolution. Revolution, Trotsky argued, awakened “millions of the toiling masses” for the first time; accordingly, it did not translate into the people identifying immediately with revolutionary politics. Instead, the workers and peasants would first pass through liberal and reformist political parties on the left that they believe will struggle for their interests:

The masses of workers, soldiers, and peasants must pass through the stage of Socialist-republican illusions in order to rid themselves of these illusions all the more radically and conclusively, so that they are not trapped by phrases, can look the facts straight in the face, and stubbornly prepare the second revolution, the proletarian revolution. ”70

Trotsky brought his revolutionary experience to bear. During the Russian Revolution of 1917, the vast majority of workers, peasants, and soldiers first gave their political allegiance to the Menshevik and Social Revolutionary parties before they were won to the Bolshevik Party program of taking state power through the democratically elected workers’ councils, or “soviets.” Likewise, during the German Revolution of 1918-1919, workers first identified with the political program of the more conservative wings of the workers movement (the United Social Democratic Party, or USPD, and the Social Democratic Party, or SPD), before moving further to the left and joining the German Communist Party (KPD).71

The united front approach contrasted sharply with the PCE’s ultra-left tactic that labeled all non-communist parties as “social fascists,” and therefore, unworthy of an alliance to defeat the right. From the experience of the Russian Revolution Trotsky concluded that no matter how reactionary the reformist coalition governments of the Social Revolutionaries and the Mensheviks were, and how repressive they acted toward the Bolsheviks, it was the united front between these reformist parties and the Bolsheviks that defeated the Kornilov fascists in August 1917. This anti-fascist front proved critical in the Bolshevik party winning the confidence of the soviet majority and establishing a workers’ government a few months later.72

Trotsky argued that the joint action of the OCE with the PSOE Socialists and the CNT and FAI anarcho-syndicalists was essential for defeating the right and ultimately winning workers to revolution. In 1931 the UGT and the CNT represented the majority of Spain’s working class – the UGT boasted a membership of roughly 250,000 and the CNT had about 500,000 members (and the membership of these unions would increase rapidly in the next few years). I now turn to Trotsky’s analysis of, and strategic approach to, each of these two most important political forces.

The Socialists (PSOE)

Trotsky was convinced that the PSOE leadership would, in the end, betray the revolution. The PSOE had just emerged from a dictatorship in which it was a political partner. However, the Socialists had the allegiance of hundreds of thousands of workers in the city and the countryside – and it was on the backs of those workers, through the massive wave of struggle in 1930, that pushed the PSOE to align with the Republicans, establishing a democratic government.73 Trotsky wrote the following about Socialist participation in the new Republican government:

“The fact that the Socialist leaders trail behind the republican leaders is quite in the nature of things. Yesterday, the Social Democracy clung with its right arm to the dictatorship of Primo de Rivera. Today it clings with its left arm to the republicans. The principal aim of the Socialists, who do not and cannot have an independent policy, is participation in a solid bourgeois government. To this end, they would not refuse to make peace even with the monarchists….”74

The socialism of the PSOE was consistent with other “social democratic” (i.e. reformist) parties that had leading working class constituencies in other countries during times of revolution – most notably, the Menshevik Party in Russia 1917 and the German Social Democratic Party (SPD) from 1918-1923. The Menshevik Party opposed workers’ taking power through their democratically elected workers’ councils (or “soviets”). A few years after the Bolsheviks led the formation of an exclusively workers’ and peasants’ government in October of 1917, Trotsky decried the politics of the German Social Democratic Party (SPD). The SPD, even though it had been at the head of a democratic movement of workers in 1918 and 1919, refused to dismantle the capitalist state and build a workers government based on workers councils, setting the German Revolution backward and contributing decisively to the slow degeneration of the Russian Revolution. Trotsky warned in Spain:

“If the Socialists were to acquire a leading position over the proletariat during the revolution, it would be capable of only one thing: spilling the power conquered by the revolution into the republican sieve, from which power would automatically pass to its present possessors.”75

The PSOE was condemned to play a conservative role during the revolution because they shared power with the Republicans who were at the helm. Accordingly, the PSOE would be responsible for any repression of worker and peasant protest. The role of minority partner explained the Socialists psychological predisposition to fear the rising class struggle which is best summed up by Miguel Cordero, a UGT trade-union official, in the following way: “our revolutionary optimism had hardly been excited at all. It was just obvious that we were faced with an imminent revolution, which would take place with us or without us or even against us.”76 A mass movement pushed the hesitant PSOE and UGT leadership into the government – this dynamic foreshadowed a clash between the PSOE and UGT leadership with the rank-and-file membership as strike activity increased:

“The Socialist leaders consider themselves lucky because they do not have a majority in the Cortes, and because their coalition with the bourgeoisie is thus justified by parliamentary statistics. The Socialists do not want to take power, for they justly fear that a Socialist government will only be a stage on the road to the dictatorship of the proletariat…. The Socialists intend to support the coalition as long as it is possible to hold back the proletariat by doing so and then, when the pressure of the workers becomes too strong, to pass into opposition, under some radical pretext, leaving it to the bourgeoisie to discipline and crush the workers.77

What made the Socialist Party particularly dangerous in Trotsky’s mind was their ability to assume a radical façade, providing a left-wing cover to Republican repression of the workers’ and peasants’ movement. They could blame the Republicans for stalling on important reforms and, when the struggle heated up, use the Republicans to discipline the workers. Acquiescence to repressing the workers’ movement aside, Trotsky anticipated the Socialist excuses for not deepening social revolution and provided the OCE with a way forward:

“The Socialists will say they cannot give up the coalition because they do not have a majority in the Cortes. Our answer to that is to call for democratic elections to the Cortes on the basis of truly universal and equal suffrage for men and women from eighteen years of age. In other words, to the nondemocratic, falsified Cortes, we counterpose at this stage, a truly popular, truly democratic, honestly elected Cortes.”78

Thus, when the Socialists place the blame on the Republicans for sabotaging reform, revolutionaries must respond with the demand for a new election to the Cortes that truly represented the will of the Spanish masses. This would give the Socialists the majority they need to take government power in their hands.79 The inevitable gulf that would develop between the Socialist leadership and their rank-and-file would facilitate workers’ radicalization to the left and, consequently, their seeking out a revolutionary alternative to the PSOE. 80 The united front, Trotsky argued, was the best revolutionary strategy to reap the benefits of the political gulf developing between the Socialist leadership and the rank-and-file and bolster the forces of the revolution:

“The participation in power of the Socialists means that violent clashes between the workers and the Socialist leaders will increase. This opens up great possibilities for the revolutionary policy of the united front. Every strike, every demonstration, every approach of the workers to the soldiers, every step of the masses towards the real democratization of the country will henceforth collide with the resistance of the Socialist leaders acting as the men of ‘order.’ It is therefore all the more important for the communist workers to participate in a united front with the Socialist, syndicalist, and nonpartisan workers, and to draw them under their leadership [...]”81

The starting point for Trotsky was clear – revolutionaries should, at every moment, agitate and expose the halfway measures of the Republican-Socialist coalition to expand “democracy” within Spain:

“Their leaders, the Socialists, have power. This increases the demands and tenacity of the workers. Every striker will not only have no fear of the government but will also expect from it. The Communists must direct the thoughts of the workers precisely along these lines: ‘Demand everything from the government since your leaders are in it.’ In reply to the workers’ delegations the Socialists will say that they do not have the majority yet. The answer is clear: with truly democratic suffrage and an end to the coalition with the bourgeoisie, a majority is guaranteed. But this is what the Socialists do not want. Their situation places them in conflict with bold democratic slogans… under the slogan of democracy and of an end to the coalition between the between the Socialists and the bourgeoisie, we drive a wedge between the workers and the Socialists and prepare the next stage of the revolution.”82

To summarize , Trotsky knew the PSOE would fail the test of leading the revolution. However, the masses did not understand this in 1931. Therefore, the strategy of diverting the influence of the Socialist Party away from their rank-and-file amounted to the following: direct all political attacks toward the monarchy and to the Republicans for conceding too much to the monarchist right-wing with the intent of pushing the Socialists deputies into power. These reformist leaders, being tied to the Republicans in a coalition, would eventually betray the interests of the poor, pushing the radicalized layers of society into a party that could offer a revolutionary alternative to the politics of strict reformism.

Winning the masses away from their Socialist leaders required more than words. Trotsky explained:

“Social Democracy must be politically discredited in the eyes of the masses. But this cannot be achieved by means of insults. The masses trust only their collective experience. They must be given the opportunity during the preparatory period of the revolution to compare in action the communist policies with those of the Social Democrats.”83

In other words, the oppressed of Spain needed not only the negative experience of the PSOE’s betrayal, but a positive example of an organized revolutionary alternative that provided leadership and clarity in struggle. As Trotsky knew well, variants of Spanish socialism had already been put to the test of revolution in Russia in 1917, and in Germany from 1918-1923. Success of the revolution in Russia and its failure in Germany had everything to do with the presence of a revolutionary party that could harness and direct the energy of the masses.

The Anarcho-Syndicalists (CNT and FAI)

Spain was a country with a strong anarchist tradition. The anarchist CNT grew immensely during World War I from 25,000 in 1914 to 500,000 in 1918,84 becoming the undisputed leader of the Spanish labor movement and far surpassing the UGT in membership and militancy. Trotsky argued early on that addressing the limitations of anarchist theory and practice regarding revolution was critical. While the Socialists flung themselves into the government with the Republicans, the anarchists ignored both the municipal and Cortes elections. They did so not because they had a clear revolutionary analysis, perspective and strategy concerning how the elections encapsulated the radicalization of the Spanish masses; rather, they denied the importance of political questions in general. The avoidance of politics was rooted in the contradictory anarcho-syndicalist approach of leading the working class to take economic power in society without establishing a revolutionary workers’ government - a body consisting of immediately recallable delegates, that would organize production according to the needs of society and defend against counter-revolution of the capitalist class. Trotsky explained how anarchist politics, applied to a revolutionary situation, had counterrevolutionary consequences:

“Anarcho-syndicalism disarms the proletariat by its lack of a revolutionary program and its failure to understand the role of the party. The anarchists ‘deny’ politics until it seizes them by the throat; then they prepare the ground for the politics of the enemy class.”85

Surrendering politics, and political power, to the capitalist parties was the equivalent of giving the ruling class the instruments with which to bludgeon the working class back into submission. The anarchists believed that by ignoring the Cortes elections they were exhibiting “control” over that body. Trotsky explains sarcastically how this conception misunderstood fundamental power relations:

“The brilliant idea of the syndicalists consists of controlling the Cortes without participating in it! To employ revolutionary violence, to fight for power, to seize power – all this is not permitted. In its place, they recommend the ‘control’ of the bourgeoisie which is in power. A magnificent picture: the bourgeoisie breakfasts, lunches and dines and the proletariat led by the syndicalists ‘controls’ these operations – on an empty stomach.”86

Trotsky predicted that as the mass struggle at the grassroots level rose, there would be political disagreements, debates, and splits among the anarchist leadership (indeed there already existed the divergent tendencies of the CNT and FAI) and rank-and-file. Understanding this “political differentiation” would be important for implementing a strategy on how to relate to the anarchists in struggle. Trotsky explained:

“One cannot doubt that… the differentiation [will grow] among the anarcho-syndicalists. The most revolutionary wing, the further it goes, will find itself ever more in conflict with the sindico-reformists. From this, left-wing putschists, heroic adventurists, individual terrorists, and others will inevitably surge up.

Needless to say, we cannot encourage any kind of adventurism. But we must make sure in advance that not the right-wing, which combats the strikes, but the left revolutionary syndicalist wing will come closer to us.”87

Trotsky remained optimistic: “among the rank-and-file anarcho-syndicalists, there are potentially great forces for revolution.”88 Therefore, it was crucial for the OCE to participate in the CNT. In this way, approaching the anarchists was similar to the Socialists: after the politics of anarchism fail to push the struggle forward, win the rank-and-file to build a political movement and organization that advanced the goal of the working class taking political power. The only difference in approach to the anarchists (relative to the Socialists) was recognizing, and encouraging, their level of militancy, but subjecting them to criticism when their anti-power politics rolled the struggle backward.89

In the end, Trotsky argued, anarchist theory and practice would fail the test of revolution; but he warned that it not also lead to the failure of the revolution itself:

“The whole fate of world Anarchism… is intimately bound up with the Spanish Revolution and since Anarcho-syndicalism is moving inevitably to the most pitiful and ridiculous bankruptcy, there is no doubt that the Spanish Revolution will be the tombstone of Anarchism. But it is necessary to be sure that the tombstone of Anarcho-syndicalism does not at the same time become the tombstone of the revolution.”90

The need for a revolutionary party

Trotsky’s ideas regarding the “united front” strategy and the importance of raising democratic demands were interconnected pieces of the “subjective” element required for the successful advancement of the revolutionary process. Trotsky had clearly articulated a thorough revolutionary program; however, Trotsky was emphatic: “For a successful solution of all these tasks, three conditions are required: a party; once more a party; again a party!”91

Of course, a revolutionary program required a party of militants to implement that strategy and have a place for radicalizing workers to go. If the revolutionary left remained isolated, if their party had no influence during the revolution, the masses would eventually become demoralized and find no way out of the political impasse. This would strengthen the forces of reaction in Spain and eventually lead to the victory of fascism.92

As early as 1931, Trotsky was already identifying those who would build and lead the revolutionary party yet to be constituted in Spain: the radicalizing working class, small agrarian and urban proprietors, and agricultural workers who looked to both the Socialist Party and anarchists for leadership in struggle. As previously noted, these leaders would eventually leave them in the lurch once the revolutionary struggle peaked and the realization of proletarian power was a reality. Therefore, having a revolutionary alternative to reformist socialism and anti-political anarchism was critical if the revolution were to succeed.93

Trotsky was confident that the OCE could win the best elements of the revolutionary communist left in Spain to build a united party. The OCE had the best politics and analysis of the Spanish Revolution but it was only constituted in Madrid in April of 1931 and Barcelona in September of that year.94 Furthermore, it possessed only a handful of followers (the most prominent leaders being Andreu Nin and Juan Andrade) who had spent the 1920’s in exile. However, unlike the Bolshevik party during the February Revolution of 1917, the OCE did not have as strong a network of experienced revolutionaries (“cadres”) that were recognized leaders and agitators throughout Spain. The revolutionary communist organizations in 1931 were weak and politically confused. The Communist Party (PCE), which boasted only a few hundred members, was politically isolated, and subservient to the increasingly Stalinized Comintern. The “Catalan Federation”/BOC (led by Joaquín Maurín), a revolutionary communist organization, although critical of Stalin, was not consistent in its opposition to USSR policy, dissociated itself often from Trotsky, had accommodated to Catalan nationalism and anarchist syndicalism, and appeared content to not extend its influence beyond Cataluña.

In the absence of a politically sound and influential revolutionary socialist left, Trotsky discussed how continual unguided struggles could be a detriment to the revolution in the long run:

“The spontaneity – which at the present stage constitutes the strength of the movement – may in the future become the source of its weakness. To assume that the movement can continue to be left to itself without a clear program, without its own leadership, would mean to assume a perspective of hopelessness. For the question involved is nothing less than the seizure of power. Even the stormiest strikes do not solve this problem – not to speak of the ones that are broken. If the proletariat were not to feel in the process of the struggle during the coming months that its tasks and methods are becoming clearer to itself, that its ranks are becoming consolidated and strengthened, then a decomposition would set in within its own ranks. The broad layers aroused by the movement for the first time would once more fall into passivity [….] The awakened hopes would very quickly be converted into disappointment and exasperation.”95

This “disappointment” and “exasperation” would abet the forces of reaction and lead to the growth, and ultimate victory, of fascism:

“[…] but with the conditions pointed out above – the passivity and the hesitancy of the revolutionary party, and the spontaneity of the mass movement – genuine fascism would find a base in Spain. The big bourgeoisie would conquer the unbalanced, disappointed and despairing petty-bourgeois masses and direct their restlessness against the proletariat” 96

The lack of a revolutionary party rooted in the class struggle in 1931 meant that the pace of struggle would develop slower. Consequently, participation in the Cortes elections in June was an important starting point for winning political influence. Trotsky explained:

“Is there any basis for thinking that the convocation of this Cortes will be interrupted by a second revolution? There is no basis whatever. Powerful movements of the masses are quite possible, but without a program, without a party, these movements cannot bring about a second revolution. To call for a boycott would now be to call for self-isolation. It is necessary to participate most actively in the election.”97

The current pre-revolutionary period gave the OCE a chance to win the best fighters to its organization. Trotsky explained how a revolutionary party is steeled and disciplined in the struggle:

“The mighty pressure of the masses welds the party together. The internal struggle trains the party and makes its own road clear to it. In this struggle, all the members of the party gain a deep confidence in the correctness of the policy of the party and in the revolutionary reliability of the leadership. Only such a conviction in the rank-and-file Bolshevik, won through experience and ideological struggle, gives the leadership the chance to lead the whole party into battle at the necessary moment. And only a deep confidence in the party itself in the correctness of its policy inspires the working masses with confidence in the party.”98

The right of nations to self determination

The right of colonial Morocco, Cataluña, and the Basque region to self-determination was a democratic demand that would play a significant role in the development of the Spanish revolution. The demand for self-determination was derived from definite conditions of uneven economic development and could only be achieved through the leadership of the working class and the realization of socialism.

For centuries Madrid acted as an imperialist “bureaucratic centralizer” over a country that experienced weak economic development, regional dispersal and, the salience of culturally autonomous regions in its political life. The social base of regional nationalism predominated among the radicalizing petty-capitalists – small business owners, sharecroppers, tenant farmers, and peasants – and also found a hearing among the working class. Even though the social basis of nationalist politics originated outside the working class, it was the duty of revolutionaries to defend these political movements. As long as Castile sought to subjugate these regions, the struggle for self-determination was a progressive and democratic movement of nations, or regions, to determine their own affairs. This was a demand ever more important for revolutionaries to defend, especially against the current “democratic” government of the Republicans and Socialists.

Trotsky explained:

“The chief carrier of the national tendencies and illusions is the petty-bourgeois intelligentsia, striving to find support among the peasantry against the centralizing role of big capital and the state bureaucracy. At the present stage, the leading role of the petty-bourgeoisie in the national liberation movement, as in every revolutionary democratic movement in general, inevitably brings into the movement numerous prejudices of various kinds. From this source national illusions also seep in among the workers…. But what has been said does not at all diminish the progressive, revolutionary democratic character of the Catalan national struggle – against the Spanish great-power chauvinism, bourgeois imperialism, and bureaucratic centralism.

It must not be forgotten for a minute that Spain as a whole and Cataluña in particular are at present governed not by Catalan national democrats but by Spanish bourgeois imperialists in alliance with the landowners, old bureaucrats, and generals, and with the support of the Spanish national socialists [PSOE]. This whole fraternity stands on the one hand for the continued subjugation of the Spanish colonies, and on the other for the maximum bureaucratic centralization of Spain itself, that is, for the suppression by the Spanish bourgeoisie of the Catalans, the Basques, and the other nationalities. At the present stage of developments, with the given combination of class forces, Catalan nationalism is a progressive revolutionary factor; Spanish nationalism is a reactionary imperialist factor ...”99

The nationalist politics of Catalans, Basques and Moroccans reflected a “petty bourgeois” social outlook which was directed at the big capitalist buttressed by the imperial state, not at the capitalist system as a whole. For this reason, revolutionary workers should maintain independence from the politics of these classes. On the other hand, the working class in the autonomous regions needed to support the struggle against the reactionary bourgeoisie in order to advance the workers’ revolution. Trotsky explained:

“Petty-bourgeois national illusions… are capable of dismembering the proletariat of Spain along national lines… But the Spanish communists can successfully fight against this danger in only one way: by pitilessly denouncing the violence of the bourgeoisie of the ruling nation and in that way winning the confidence of the proletariat of the oppressed nationality. Any other policy would be tantamount to supporting the reactionary nationalism of the imperialist bourgeoisie of the ruling nation against the revolutionary democratic nationalism of the petty-bourgeoisie of an oppressed nation. ”100

Therefore, the fight for self-determination, like any democratic demand, required revolutionary leadership of the working class to lead the battle within society to defeat the reactionary imperialist right.

From the correspondence between Trotsky and the OCE, it is evident that a burning question remained unanswered – what if the struggle for self-determination led to the complete separation of the autonomous regions from Madrid? This question was particularly pressing in the case of Cataluña, an industrially developed region relative to others and home to Spain’s most militant working class. Trotsky answered this question distinguishing between the two forms of “separatism” - that of the capitalists and that of the workers:

“The separatist tendencies present the revolution with the democratic task of national self-determination…. But while the ‘separatism’ of the Catalan bourgeoisie is only a pawn in its play with the Madrid government against the Catalan and Spanish people, the separatism of the workers and peasants is only the shell of their social rebellion. One must distinguish very rigidly between these two forms of separatism [emphasis in original].”101

However, if revolutionaries defended the right of Cataluña to separate and that struggle matured, would this not lead to the "Balkanization" of Spain into smaller antagonistic states? To answer this, Trotsky drew on the experience of the Bolsheviks’ approach to nations in the Balkan Peninsula. He explained:

“There was a time when the Balkan Peninsula was unified under the domination of the Turkish gentry, the militarists, and the proconsuls. The oppressed people longed to overthrow their oppressors. If [Bolshevik] opposition to partitioning the peninsula had been counter-posed to these aspirations of the people, we would have been acting as lackeys to the Turkish pashas and beys. On the other hand, however, we know that the Balkan peoples, liberated from the Turkish yoke, have been at one another’s throats for decades. In this matter, too, the proletarian vanguard can apply the point of view of the permanent revolution: liberation from the imperialist yoke, which is the most important element of the democratic revolution, leads immediately to the Federation of Soviet Republics as the state form for the proletarian revolution. Not opposing the democratic revolution, but on the contrary supporting it completely even in the form of separation (that is, supporting the struggle but not the illusions), we at the same time bring our own independent position into the democratic revolution, recommending, counseling, encouraging, the idea of the Soviet Federation of the Iberian Peninsula as a constituent part of the United States of Europe.”102

In sum, the right to self-determination of the Basques and Catalans was integral to the fight for (and establishment of) a socialist federation of states, and not a balkanized constellation of smaller, nationalistic and warring nations. Revolutionary workers needed to bring their independent socialist position into any democratic movement for self-determination - support the struggle, but not the illusions of the nationalist Basque and Catalan bourgeoisie. If separation were to take place, it would have to be realized in conjunction with workers’ revolution throughout Spain; anything less would mean probable counter-revolution. Trotsky noted that the workers formed the majority in Cataluña giving them decisive influence on the question of self-determination. It was plausible that workers may not want to separate and demand only regional autonomy, drawing the conclusion that they have a better chance of winning workers’ revolution as a united Spanish working class.103

Trotsky noted that while a movement for “separation” from Madrid may occur in these regions, it was not the duty of revolutionaries to insist on this policy absent the support of the majority of people in the region. Trotsky argued:

“… in order to draw the line between the nationally oppressed workers and peasants and their bourgeoisie, the proletarian vanguard must take the boldest and most sincere position on the question of national self-determination. The workers will fully and completely defend the right of the Catalans and Basques to organize their state life independently in the event that the majority of these nationalities express themselves for complete separation. But this does not, of course, mean that the advanced workers will push the Catalans and Basques on the road of secession. On the contrary, the economic unity of the country with extensive autonomy of national districts, would represent great advantages for the workers and peasants from the viewpoint of economy and culture [emphasis in original].”104

Whether the movement in Cataluña and the Basque regions declared itself for autonomy or complete separation, the objective for the revolutionary working class in the movement for national and regional determination was the same – workers’ revolution. Socialism would be the only way to substantively free colonies (like Spanish Morocco) and regions from Castilian imperialism.

How would revolutionaries gauge the sentiment among the Catalan and Basque masses for self-determination? Trotsky answered, “by means of a free plebiscite, or an assembly of Catalan representatives, or by the parties that are clearly supported by the Catalan masses, or even by a Catalan national revolt.”105 Trotsky added that the struggle for self-determination would not be decided merely by petty-bourgeois nationalists:

Can the Catalan workers have an indifferent attitude to the attempts of the petty-bourgeois democracy, subordinated as always to big capital, to decide the fate of the Catalan people with the aid of anti-democratic elections? Without the slogans of political democracy to supplement and concretize it, the slogan of national self-determination is a senseless formula, or still worse, it is dust thrown in the eyes”106

In other words, the Catalan and Basque fight for self-determination would be meaningless if the movement did not involve the working class (which held great social weight in the Catalan and Basque region) and become part of the broader movement for democracy (and socialist revolution) throughout Spain. With respect to Morocco, revolutionaries required unflinching anti-imperialist politics in order to solidarize with the colonial oppressed. In the end, the nationalist movements in Cataluña and the Basque region did not demand full separation, but regional autonomy.


Trotsky's methodical scientific and Marxist approach to Spanish conditions at the very beginning of revolutionary process of 1930-31 has been established. Now it is time to turn to the pre-Civil War years of 1930-1935 and assess how well Trotsky's ideas anticipated the general momentum of historical events during these years.


1 Burnett Bolloten, The Spanish Civil War, (Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina Press, 1991), pg. 3.

2 V.I. Lenin, “What is to be Done?,” Collected Works:Volume 5 (Progress Publishers: U.S.S.R., 1971), pg. 514. Available online at:

3 I rely exclusively on the following compilation of Trotsky’s writings: Leon Trotsky, The Spanish Revolution (1931-1939), ed. Naomi Allen and George Breitman, (Pathfinder Press: New York, 2001). Other works have provided accounts of Trotsky’s ideas regarding the Spanish Revolution and Civil War, namely: Alan Sennett, Revolutionary Marxism in Spain, 1930-1937, (Haymarket Books, Chicago, 2015); Tony Cliff, “Trotsky and the Spanish Revolution,” in: Trotsky Vol. 4, The Darker the Night the Brighter the Star (1927-1940). 1991. url: and Broué, Pierre. "Trotsky and the Spanish Revolution” In Defense of Marxism. (1967), url: Cliff and Broué pass quickly over the pre-Civil War years. Sennett offers the most comprehensive discussion of Trotsky’s theoretical and practical contribution to the Spanish pre-revolutionary and revolutionary events from 1930-1937, as well as that of other dissident communists (Nin and Maurín). He examines the “divergences” and “convergences” of these leaders approaches, their polemics and actions during these years, and their ultimate political trajectories during the Civil War in 1936 in light of their interpretations of events pre-Civil War. He draws the conclusion that Trotsky’s general views on the revolution, despite at times very clear disagreements, held much influence within the dissident communist groups and even later in the POUM. Although readers may see my exposition of Trotsky’s thought as similar in presentation to Sennett’s (particularly with respect to pages 40 to 92 of his work), there are some critical differences. First, I explain “Trotsky's Marxism” as an integral whole and not as separate theoretical, strategic and tactical themes (Part I). Second, I examine Trotsky’s observations on Spain in connection with the history of events as they unfolded from 1930-1935 in order to gauge the accuracy of Trotsky’s broad predictions (part II of this work) whereas Sennett’s is more of an exposition and discussion regarding the various ideas of the leaders in the movement.

4 This will be the forthcoming part III of this article.

5 Trotsky became acquainted with Spain in November and December of 1916 where he was forced to stay after an expulsion from France. He spent his time in libraries learning about the country. See Sennett, Revolutionary Marxism in Spain 1930-1937, pp. 62-4.

6 Paul Preston, The Coming of the Spanish Civil War: The Macmillan Press LTD, 1978), pg. 17.

7 Preston, The Coming of the Spanish Civil War, pg. 18.

8 Preston, The Coming of the Spanish Civil War, pp. 17-19.

9 Trotsky, Leon, The Spanish Revolution (1931-1939), (New York: Pathfinder Press, 1973), pp. 55-56.

10 Felix Morrow, Revolution and Counter-Revolution in Spain, 2nd ed., (New York: Pathfinder Press, 1974),

pg. 19.

11 Trotsky, The Spanish Revolution (1931-1939), pp. 125-126.

12 Trotsky, The Spanish Revolution (1931-1939), pp. 71-72.

13 Trotsky, The Spanish Revolution (1931-1939), pg. 72. Celso Furtado, The Economic Development of Brazil: A Survey from Colonial to Modern Times, (Berkeley: University of California, 1965), pp. 11-15.

14 Trotsky, The Spanish Revolution (1931-1939), pg. 72.

15 Trotsky, The Spanish Revolution (1931-1939), pg. 73.

16 Trotsky, The Spanish Revolution (1931-1939), pg. 74.

17 Morrow, Felix, Revolution and Counter-Revolution in Spain, 12 and Brenan, The Spanish Labyrinth, pp. 47-48.

18 Gerald Brenan, The Spanish Labyrinth, (Cambridge: At the University Press, 1943), pg. 58.

19 Trotsky, The Spanish Revolution (1931-1939), pg. 76.

20 Brenan, The Spanish Labyrinth, pg. 58.

21 Brenan, The Spanish Labyrinth, pp. 59, 81.

22 Frances Lannon, “The Church’s crusade against the republic,” in: Preston, Paul, ed. Revolution and War in Spain, 1931-1939, ( New York: Methuen & Co., 1984), pp. 43.

23 Lannon, “The Church’s crusade against the republic,” pp. 45, 52-53.

24 Morrow, Felix, Revolution and Counter-Revolution in Spain, pp. 9-10.

25 Trotsky, The Spanish Revolution (1931-1939), pp. 78-9.

26 Broué, Pierre and Emile Témime, The Revolution and the Civil War in Spain, (Chicago: Haymarket Books, 2008), pg. 34.

27 Juliá, Santos, “Economic crisis, social conflict and the Popular Front: Madrid 1931-6,” in: Preston, Paul, ed. Revolution and War in Spain, 1931-1939, (New York: Methuen & Co., 1984), pp. 137-142.

28 Broué and Témime, The Revolution and the Civil War in Spain, 34 and Preston, Paul. The Coming of the Spanish Civil War, (London: The Macmillian Press LTD, 1978), pg. 6. The northern and central provinces where small proprietors dominated were: Galicia, Asturias, Basque, Navarre, Old Castile, Leon, Aragon, Cataluña and Levante (Valencia, Murcia, and Lorca). The southern provinces where latifundia production was prevalent were: Salamanca, Andalucía, Estremadura, La Mancha, New Castile, and Valladolid. Also see Brenan, The Spanish Labyrinth, pp. 92-113.

29 Broué and Témime, The Revolution and the Civil War in Spain, pg. 34. Morrow puts the number of peasants at 5 million: 2 million with insufficient holdings who need to supplement their income through labor on larger estates; 1.5 million sharecroppers and 1.5 million agricultural workers who own no land. See Felix Morrow, The Civil War in Spain: Toward Socialism or Fascism?, (Pioneer Publishers: New York, 1936), pg. 10. Available online URL:

30 Trotsky, The Spanish Revolution (1931-1939), pg. 79.

31 Trotsky, The Spanish Revolution (1931-1939), pg. 82.

32 Broué and Temime, The Revolution and the Civil War in Spain, pg. 34.

33 Trotsky, The Spanish Revolution (1931-1939), pp. 78-79.

34 Trotsky, The Spanish Revolution (1931-1939), pp. 79-80.

35 Trotsky, The Spanish Revolution (1931-1939), pg. 169.

36 For the purpose of easy historical reference, the names of the most prominent leaders are included in parentheses (in most places) following their respective political party.

37 Brenan, The Spanish Labyrinth, pg. 233.

38 Brenan, The Spanish Labyrinth, pg. 234.

39 Trotsky, The Spanish Revolution (1931-1939), pg. 77.

40 Trotsky, The Spanish Revolution (1931-1939), pg. 89.

41 Sennett, Revolutionary Marxism in Spain 1930-1937, pg. 164 see footnote 30.

42 Broué and Témime, The Revolution and the Civil War in Spain, pp. 59-66.

43 Pelai Pagès, El movimiento trotskista en España, Barcelona: ediciones península, 1977, pg. 291 and Burnett Bolloten, The Spanish Civil War, (Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina Press, 1991), pg. 199.

44 Pagès, El movimiento trotskista en España, 291 notes that the UGT and CNT held, more or less, equal sway among the agricultural labor movement in the regions of Guadalajara and Toledo (New Castile) and Albacete (Murcia) and Jaén (Andalucía). Also see Bolloten, The Spanish Civil War, pg. 199 and Brenan, The Spanish Labyrinth, pg. 224 notes that the UGT also made inroads into Granada. The CNT had organized workers in a number of UGT-dominated regions: substantial sections of building workers’ and railway workers’ unions in Madrid, port workers in Gijón, and in the iron foundries of Sama and La Felguera (Asturias).

45 Broué and Témime, The Revolution and the Civil War in Spain, pp. 54-59. See also: Geoff Bailey, "Anarchists in the Spanish Civil War,” International Socialist Review, (24) July-August 2002: pp. 55-66. url:

46Andy Durgan, "Revolutionary Anarchism in Spain." International Socialism (11) Winter 1981: 98-103, 98 and Brenan, The Spanish Labyrinth, pg. 253.

47 Sennett, Revolutionary Marxism in Spain 1930-1937, pg. 164 see footnote 30.

48 Bolloten, The Spanish Civil War, pp. 17-19.

49 Broué and Témime, The Revolution and the Civil War in Spain, pp. 41-43.

50 Sennett, Revolutionary Marxism in Spain, pg. 157

51 The PCE was an affiliate of the increasingly Stalinist Communist International (Comintern) and only had a membership of a few hundred on the eve of the revolution. Maurin’s “Catalan Federation” formed BOC on March 1st, 1931 and maintained influence strictly in Cataluña among workers in the textile and manufacturing sector. They had been expelled from the PCE because they disagreed with the ultra-radicalism of Stalin’s “third period.” This organization will be discussed more in depth in a later section of this article: “The failure to build a revolutionary party in Spain, 1930-1935.”

52 Trotsky, The Spanish Revolution (1931-1939), pg. 62.

53 Trotsky, The Spanish Revolution (1931-1939), pg. 86.

54 Trotsky, The Spanish Revolution (1931-1939), pg. 64.

55 Trotsky, The Spanish Revolution (1931-1939), pp. 84-85.

56 Trotsky, The Spanish Revolution (1931-1939), pg. 99.

57 Trotsky, The Spanish Revolution (1931-1939), pg. 115.

58 Trotsky, The Spanish Revolution (1931-1939), pg. 85.

59 Trotsky, The Spanish Revolution (1931-1939), pg. 129.

60 Trotsky, The Spanish Revolution (1931-1939), pg. 86.

61 Trotsky, The Spanish Revolution (1931-1939), pg. 85.

62 Trotsky, The Spanish Revolution (1931-1939), pp. 62-63.

63 Trotsky, The Spanish Revolution (1931-1939), pp. 82-83.

64 Trotsky, The Spanish Revolution (1931-1939), pp. 116-117.

65 Trotsky, The Spanish Revolution (1931-1939), pg. 130.

66 Trotsky, The Spanish Revolution (1931-1939), pp. 160-161.

67 Trotsky, The Spanish Revolution (1931-1939), pg. 162.

68 Trotsky, The Spanish Revolution (1931-1939), pp. 129, 133-134.

69 Trotsky, The Spanish Revolution (1931-1939), pg. 64.

70 Trotsky, The Spanish Revolution (1931-1939), pp. 113-114.

71 Trotsky, The Spanish Revolution (1931-1939), pp. 64-65.

72 Trotsky, The Spanish Revolution (1931-1939), pp. 162-163.

73 Preston, The Coming of the Spanish Civil War, pp. 1-15.

74 Trotsky, The Spanish Revolution (1931-1939), pp. 89-90.

75 Trotsky, The Spanish Revolution (1931-1939), pp. 89-90.

76 Preston, The Coming of the Spanish Civil War, pg. 18.

77 Trotsky, The Spanish Revolution (1931-1939), pg. 166.

78 Trotsky, The Spanish Revolution (1931-1939), pg. 167.

79 Trotsky, The Spanish Revolution (1931-1939), pg. 167.

80 Trotsky, The Spanish Revolution (1931-1939), pp. 113-114.

81 Trotsky, The Spanish Revolution (1931-1939), pp. 113-114.

82 Trotsky, The Spanish Revolution (1931-1939), pg. 168.

83 Trotsky, The Spanish Revolution (1931-1939), pg. 65.

84 Sennett, Revolutionary Marxism in Spain, 1930-37, pg. 167.

85 Trotsky, The Spanish Revolution (1931-1939), pg. 90.

86 Trotsky, The Spanish Revolution (1931-1939), pg. 177.

87 Trotsky, The Spanish Revolution (1931-1939), pg. 181.

88 Trotsky, The Spanish Revolution (1931-1939), pg. 163.

89 Trotsky, The Spanish Revolution (1931-1939), pg. 163.

90 Trotsky, The Spanish Revolution (1931-1939), pp. 164-5.

91 Trotsky, The Spanish Revolution (1931-1939), pg. 94.

92 Trotsky, The Spanish Revolution (1931-1939), pp. 64-65.

93 Trotsky, The Spanish Revolution (1931-1939), pp. 64-65, 88-89, 120.

94 Sennett, Revolutionary Marxism in Spain 1930-1937, pg. 125.

95 Trotsky, The Spanish Revolution (1931-1939), pp. 88-89.

96 Trotsky, The Spanish Revolution (1931-1939), pg. 89.

97 Trotsky, The Spanish Revolution (1931-1939), pg. 128.

98 Trotsky, The Spanish Revolution (1931-1939), pg. 148.

99 Trotsky, The Spanish Revolution (1931-1939), pp. 121-122.

100 Trotsky, The Spanish Revolution (1931-1939), pp. 121-122.

101 Trotsky, The Spanish Revolution (1931-1939), pg. 83.

102 Trotsky, The Spanish Revolution (1931-1939), pp. 185-6.

103 Trotsky, The Spanish Revolution (1931-1939), pg. 63.

104 Trotsky, The Spanish Revolution (1931-1939), pg. 83.

105 Trotsky, The Spanish Revolution (1931-1939), pp. 63, 131.

106 Trotsky, The Spanish Revolution (1931-1939), pg. 131.