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

By Burnett Bolloten | Go to book overview

24
The Iron Column

T HERE are some comrades who believe that militarization settles everything, but we maintain that it settles nothing. As against corporals, sergeants, and officers, graduated from the academies, and completely useless in matters of war, we have our own organization, and we do not accept a military structure." Thus spoke a delegate of the Iron Colunui at a CNT congress in November, 1936.1

No column was more thoroughly representative of the spirit of Anarchism, no column dissented more vehemently from the Libertarian movement's inconsistencies of theory and practice, and exhibited a more glowing enmity for the State than the Iron Column, which occupied a sector of the Teruel front during the first seven months of the war. "Our entire conduct must not aim at strengthening the State; we must gradually destroy it, and render the government absolutely useless," declared the above-quoted delegate. "We accept nothing that runs counter to our Anarchist ideas, ideas that must become a reality, because you cannot preach one thing and practise another."2 Nor, in carrying out the social revolution, did any Anarchist militia unit inspire more fear among middle and small peasants, among landowners, merchants, and shopkeepers. Mainly recruited from among the more fiery elements of the Libertarian movement, its three thousand members 3 included several hundred convicts from the San Miguel de los Reyes Penitentiary. "[The prisoners] had to be set free and someone had to face the responsibility of taking them to the front," ran a report issued by the column's Committee of War. "We, who have always held society responsible for its own defects, regarded them as brothers. They joined us and risked their lives, fighting at our

____________________
1
Fragua Social, November 14, 1936.
2
Ibid.
3
This was the figure given by an Iron Column delegate at a CNT congress, reported in Fragua Social, November 14, 1936; see also Martín Blázquez, I Helped to Build an Army, p. 296.

-258-

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