Chapter 14: The Ends the Dictatorship Serves

The role that the Russian government has played in Spain from the beginning, and still plays, is clear to anyone who is not smitten with absolute blindness. But there is also another reason why the Russian autocrats and their servile following abroad hate the revolution of the Spanish workers and peasants from the bottom of their hearts. That is the libertarian spirit by which it is actuated, and which is in itself merely the product of a movement which in the long and difficult struggle of its development has made freedom the basis of its efforts and has vigorously fought every form of dictatorship.

It is the great moral merit of libertarian Socialism in Spain -- which today finds its mighty expression in the C.N.T. and the F.A.I. -- that from the time of the First International, yes, even before that, it has fostered in Spanish workers a spirit which prizes freedom above all else and has made the intellectual independence of its adherents the most important factor in its existence. The libertarian labor movement of Spain has never lost itself in the labyrinth of an economic dialectic, and so its intellectual buoyant force has never been crippled by fatalistic ideas, as has so often been the case with Socialism in other countries. Nor has it wasted its capacity for action in the dreary routine tasks of bourgeois parliaments. Socialism has not been for it a thing that can be dictated to the people from above by some state or party bureaucracy, but an organic process of growth which proceeds from the social activity of the rmasses themselves and finds in their economic organization a basis which binds together all creative forces and still imposes no artificial restrictions on the initiative of the individual.

It was this spirit-- out of which was born the nineteenth of July -- which seized with irresistible power upon the entire working population, and even laid hold on elements which had previously had no connection with the work of the C.N.T. And it was this spirit by which the workers, peasants, and intellectuals were guided in their efforts to rebuild the social life of the country upon new principles, and which gave to their creative work that characteristic expression which had not before been seen in any other country.

But the C.N.T. never misused the strength it possessed, and still possesses, particularly in Catalonia, to suppress other schools of thought and force its will upon them. Instead it did everything in its power to unite the anti-Fascist elements for the battle against the common enemy and the reshaping of the social life. They had no thought of limiting freedom of opinion or of denying to others on the ground of their factional inclinations the freedom which they claimed for themselves. They welcomed every sincere criticism and remained faithful to those principles of freedom which they had always professed.

For a year now the Spanish people have been engaged in a desperate struggle against a pitiless foe and have been exposed besides to the secret intrigues of the great imperialist powers of Europe. Despite this the Spanish revolutionaries have not grasped at the disastrous expedient of dictatorship, but have respected all honest convictions. Everyone who visited Barcelona after the July battles, whether friend or foe of the C.N.T., was suprised at the freedom of public life and the absence of any arrangements for suppressing the free expression of opinion.

For two decades the supporters of Bolshevism have been hammering it into the masses that dictatorship is a vital necessity for the defense of the so-called proletarian interests against the assaults of the counter-revolution and for paving the way for socialism. Thev have not advanced the cause of Socialism by this propaganda, but have merely smoothed the way for Fascism in Italy, Germany and Austria by causing millions of people to forget that dictatorship, the most extreme form of tyranny, can never lead to social liberation. In Russia the so-called dictatorship of the proletariat has not led to Socialism, but to the domination of a new bureaucracy over the proletariat and the whole people.

If today the agents in Spain of the Russian Stalin-regime are threatening to destroy everything that the workers and peasants have achieved, and are directing their whole energy toward putting all power into the hands of a bourgeois-Communist party dictatorship, they are not doing so to serve the interests of the proletariat, but to further the onslaughts of the counter-revolution and to serve the ends of English and French capitalism.

What the Russian autocrats and their supporters fear most is that the success of libertarian Socialism in Spain might prove to their blind followers that the much vaunted "necessity of a dictatorship" is nothing but one vast fraud which in Russia has led to the despotism of Stalin and is to serve today in Spain to help the counter-revolution to a victory over the revolution of the workers and peasants.