EGALITARIANISM WORKED IN SPAIN 1936-9
by John Spritzler
[The URL of this article is https://www.pdrboston.org/egalitarianism-in-spain-1936-9]
[Read here how egalitarianism in Spain out-produced the capitalist economy it replaced]
[Read here a detailed eyewitness account of a genuinely democratic local assembly meeting in egalitarian-revolutionary Spain around 1937]
[Read here about the key mistakes the egalitarians (aka anarchists) in Spain made that led to their defeat by the fascist General Franco]
[Read here what made the revolution in Spain possible]
[Click here to read "Egalitarianism in 17th Century Palmares (in Brazil)"]
American public schools don't inform us of the fact that in a part of Spain with four million people, between 1936 and 1939, workers in cities and peasants in the countryside made an egalitarian revolution. Our schools make sure that students read George Orwell's Animal Farm, a thinly disguised account of life in Communist Russia, with its truthful, scathing and now famous criticism of Communism: "Some animals were more equal than others." But American school children virtually never hear about another book by George Orwell, Homage to Catalonia. In this ignored book Orwell describes his experiences when he joined the workers and peasants in Spain in 1936 to help them defend their egalitarian revolution against the fascist General Franco.
This revolution was very different from the Russian revolution that Orwell condemned. This revolution was inspired by egalitarian, not Communist, ideas, by books and newspapers in the anarchist tradition, not the Communist one. This is why Stalin opposed the revolution, by supporting the pro-capitalist forces inside the territory of the revolution.
In several provinces of Spain an egalitarian revolution either eliminated money altogether or made its use secondary while making primary the principle of "from each according to ability, to each according to need." Thus where money remained at all, a person's wage was based on how much he or she needed (how big was their family, etc.), quite unlike in our present capitalist society.
"In the village of Magdalena de Pulpis a visitor asked a resident, 'How do you organize without money? Do you use barter, a coupon book, or anything else?' He replied, 'Nothing. Everyone works and everyone has a right to what he needs free of charge. He simply goes to the store where provisions and all other necessities are supplied. Everything is distributed free with only a notation of what he took.'” [From Dolgoff, pg. 73.]
Read a detailed first-hand account of a local assembly meeting in a village in the Aragon region of Spain during the Revolution here.
Some people say that egalitarianism can't work because without inequality nobody would be motivated to work. But the Spanish Revolution proved this false. Not only did people increase economic production in the egalitarian provinces of Spain, they did so while having to send many people away to fight against the invading fascist military force that eventually defeated the revolution. Click here for details about this.
This revolution made mistakes that led to its defeat by fascists--mistakes we must learn from. But its accomplishments are truly inspiring, and prove that egalitarianism is indeed not only a much better way to live but also a very practical way to live. Egalitarian society with its "no rich and no poor" economy worked exceedingly well. What prevented it from working past 1939 was General Franco's fascist military attack, not anything about egalitarianism itself.
Here are books, articles and a wonderful video documentary that bring to life an inspiring egalitarian revolution that our rulers don't want us to know about:
Murray Bookchin,To Remember Spain: The Anarchist and Syndicalist Revolution of 1936 (You can find this online by searching for the author and title.)
Agustin Guillamon, The Friends of Durruti Group: 1937-1939 (You can find this online by searching for the author and title.)
Peter Kropotkin, The Conquest of Bread (This book was very widely read by Spanish workers and peasants in the decades leading up to the revolution. You can find it online by searching for the author and title.)
George Orwell, Homage to Catalonia (You can find this online by searching for the author and title.)
Sam Dolgoff, ed., The Anarchist Collectives (You can find this online by searching for the author and title.)
Collectives in the Spanish Revolution, by Gaston Leval, Freedom Press, London 1975