Spanish Anarchism An Introductory Essay
His books To Remember Spain: The Anarchist And Syndicalist Revolution Of 1936 and Social Anarchism or Lifestyle Anarchism: An Unbridgeable Chasm are both published by AK Press.
Index | What’s New | Links | Introduction | Bibliography PDF version of Appendix 3.2.
Indeed, it would be hard to find another social or political movement which has been more misrepresented or its ideas and activities so distorted by historians whose attitudes seem more supported by ideological conviction rather than history or investigation of social life.
One of the most common descriptions of Spanish anarchism is that it was “religious” or “millenarium” in nature.
Hobsbawm himself accepts this conceptualisation, along with historians and commentators like Gerald Brenan and Franz Brokenau (who, in fact, did state “Anarchism is a religious movement”).
Before discussing Hobsbawm in more detail, it would be useful to refute some of the more silly things so-called serious historians have asserted about Spanish Anarchism.
The thesis that the Spanish Anarchists were “primitive rebels,” with a primitive understanding of the nature of revolution is a common one amongst Marxists.
One of the main sources for this kind of argument is Eric Hobsbawm’s Primitive Rebels, who was a member of the British Communist Party at the time.
Here the use of the terms ‘religious’ and ‘millenarium’ stamp anarchist goals as unrealistic and unattainable. She argues that “the millenarium theory is too mechanistic to explain the complex pattern of Andalusian anarchist activity.
Anarchism is thus dismissed as a viable solution to social ills.” He continues by arguing that the “oversimplifications posited became serious distortions of anarchist belief and practice” (as we shall see). The millenarian argument, in portraying the Andalusian anarchists as fundamentally religious, overlooks their clear comprehension of the social sources of their oppression.” She concludes that “the degree of organisation, not the religiosity of workers and the community, accounts for mass mobilisations carried on by the Andalusian anarchists at the end of the nineteenth century.” She also notes that the “[i]n a secular age, the taint of religion is the taint of irrationality.” [Anarchists of Andalusia: 1868-1903, pp. 211] Thus, the Andalusian anarchists had a clear idea who their enemies were, namely the ruling class of the region.