The Grand Camouflage: The Communist Conspiracy in the Spanish Civil War

By Burnett Bolloten | Go to book overview

20
Discipline and the Anarchosyndicalist Militia

O F the manifold defects of the militia system that General Franco's victories forced to the front during the first weeks of the war, none was more hotly debated, none called for more urgent correction than the lack of discipline. If this problem beset all the militia units, whatever their ideology, it was only in those formed by the. Libertarian movement that its solution encountered a philosophical impediment, for the liberty of the individual is the very core of Anarchism and nothing is so antipodal to its nature as submission to authority. "Discipline is obedience to authority; Anarchism recognizes no authority," said La Revista Blanca, a leading Anarchist journal, in an issue published before the Civil War.1

The CNT-FAI militia reflected the ideals of equality, individual liberty, and freedom from obligatory discipline integral to the Anarchist doctrine. There was no officers' hierarchy, no saluting, no regimentation. "A CNT member will never be a disciplined militianian togged up in a braided uniform, strutting with martial gait through the streets of Madrid, and rhythmically swinging his arms and legs," said an article in CNT.2 And a resolution approved at a regional congress of the Valencia CNT stated: "When a comrade enters the CNT barracks, he must understand that the word barracks does not signify subjection to odious military regulations consisting of salutes, parades, and other trivialities of the kind, completely theatrical and negating every revolutionary ideal."3 If there was no discipline in the CNT-FAI militia units in the early days of the Civil War, there were also no military titles, badges, or distinctions in the way of food, clothing, and quarters, and the few professional military men whose

____________________
1
June 22, 1934.
2
August 22, 1936.
3
Fragua Social, November 18, 1936.

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