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

By Burnett Bolloten | Go to book overview

23
The Libertarian Movement and the Regular Army

W E do not want a national army," cried Frente Libertario, the newspaper of the Anarchosyndicalist militia on the central front. "We want the popular militia, which incarnates the will of the masses, and is the only force that can defend the liberty and the free social order of the Spanish people. As before the civil war, we now cry, 'Down with chains.' The army is enslavement, the symbol of tyranny. Away with the army."1

The Anarchosyndicalists could not accept a regular army without violating their anti-authoritarian principles. True, the exigencies of an implacable struggle had forced them to recognize the need in their militia units for some measure of restraint on individualism, but that was entirely different from accepting an out-and-out militarization involving the rigorous subordination of these units to government control, the restoration of rank and privilege, the appointment of officers by the War Ministry, the introduction of differential pay rates, heavy disciplinary punishments, and the compulsory salute. "When this word [militarization] is uttered -- why not admit the fact? -- we feel uneasy, disturbed; we shudder, because it calls to mind the constant assaults on dignity and the human personality," avowed Nosotros, the Anarchist organ in the region of Valencia. "Until yesterday, to militarize implied -- and for many people it still implies -- regimenting men in such a way as to destroy their wills by breaking their personality in the mechanism of the barracks."2

But if the CNT and FAI had ethical motives for their hostility to

____________________
1
October 27, 1936. "We do not want a uniformed and disciplined militia organized into military units." -- From speech by Juan López, reported by Fragua Social, October 18, 1936.
2
February 11, 1937.

-245-

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