A LOCAL ASSEMBLY MEETING: SPAIN, AROUND 1937

Below is an eyewitness account, by Gaston Leval, of a local assembly meeting in the rural village of Tamarite de Litera, in the province of Huesca, in the Aragon region of Spain during the Spanish Revolution (1936-9). Egalitarian ideas (known as anarchist ideas in Spain at this time) essentially the same as what PDRBoston advocates were implemented as people saw fit throughout about half of Spain. This description of a local assembly meeting is excerpted from Leval's 365 page book, Collectives in the Spanish Revolution, published by Freedom Press, London, 1975.

 

"Collective" and "individualist" are two words used frequently in this local assembly. "Collective" is the word that the Spanish people used for what PDRBoston now calls a "sharing economy." "Individualist" is the word that the Spanish people used to refer to people who did not wish to belong to the collective. Of note, "individualists" were not hostile to the egalitarian revolution; they were not fascists who hoped General Franco would succeed in crushing the revolution and restoring the large land owners and big capitalists back to power, and they were not large land owners or big capitalists, all of whom had fled from the village of Tamarite de Litera and would, no doubt, not have been welcomed at the local assembly meeting.

Excerpt (pg. 207-213]:

The pregonero (public crier) presents himself at the cross roads, in the square and at the busiest corners of the village. He blows three times on his small horn with which he always announces his presence, then in a slow, light tenor voice which, for some reason I do not know, is used by all pregoneros in Aragon, he reads, clipping the words and sentences somewhat at random, from a paper on which is written that the members of the  Collective are invited by the administrative Commission to attend the general assembly which will take place that same evening at 9 o'clock.

At 9:30 p.m. the local cinema is half full. At 10 p.m. it is packed. there are about 600 people including some 100 women and girls and a few children.

While waiting for the opening of the meeting, everybody is talking without shouting in spite of the expansive temperament of the inhabitants of that region. In the end the secretary of the Collective mounts the platform alone. silence falls and the secretary immediately proposes the adoption of necessary arrangements:

"We must," he says, "nominate a secretariat for the meeting."

Immediately one of those present asks to speak "on a point of order."

"There are some individualists in the hall. they are enemies of the Collective. They have no business being here, we must turn them out. What's more, it is imperative that women should remain silent during the discussion, otherwise they will have to be removed as well."

Some of those present seem to be in agreement with the double proposal; others clearly have doubts. The secretary replies that in his opinion the individualists should be allowed to remain and even take part in the discussions. "We have nothing to hide and it is by seeing how we act that they will end by being convinced." As to the talkative women--they are peasant women who had never attended such discussions before and who also have a right to speak--they will surely keep quiet and there will be no need to have recourse to such extreme measures. The assembly approves and the individualists remain.

Then the secretariat is nominated, consisting of comrades who are elected in turn. then the chairman speaks. He is, naturally, one of the most active militants, and one of the best informed on the problems included in the agenda. He starts by dealing exhaustively with the reason for the Commission calling this extraordinary assembly. Though intelligent, he is no speaker, but makes a great effort to express himself with the utmost clarity, and succeeds.

First question: Four comrades on the Commission must be replaced because they are not carrying out their tasks satisfactorily, not through any bad will on their part, but because they lack the necessary background. Furthermore, there is a certain amount of discontent with the delegate dealing with food supplies. He is very able but has a difficult personality and his manner is too brusque, which results in unpleasant confrontations, particularly in inter-regional relations; it would perhaps be better if in future he dealt with the barter arrangements with more distant regions where individual contacts are not so important. The delegate for industry and commerce could look after distribution at the local level, and the relations which this involves with members of the Collective.

[Continued here]
 

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