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by John Spritzler

April 7, 2023

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[Also read here how egalitarianism in Spain OUTPRODUCED the capitalism it replaced]

[Read here how the Communist Party of China treats Chinese workers like DIRT]



From 1936 to 1939 Spanish egalitarians (who called themselves anarchists) took over--for the most part--about half of Spain. (Start reading about this here.) They removed from power the capitalists and large landowners and began creating an egalitarian society in all walks of life. In many places money was abolished and in others it was used very differently than it was in a capitalist society. The rank and file workers in industry and peasants on the land had the ultimate power and created democratic means of using it.


The following is an extract from The Anarchist Collectives (online and paperback) edited by Sam Dolgoff (published 1974, Chapter 7 pg. 94-96 paperback version, the essay by Augustin Souchy) describing what the workers did in the textile industry in the province of Catalonia.



The Collectivization of the Textile Industry

It is no simple matter to collectivize and place on firm foundations an industry employing almost a quarter of a million textile workers in scores of factories scattered in numerous cities. But the Barcelona syndicalist textile union accomplished this feat in a short time. It was a tremendously significant experiment. The dictatorship of the bosses was toppled, and wages, working conditions and production were determined by the workers and their elected delegates. All functionaries had to carry out the instructions of the membership and report back directly to the men on the job and union meetings. The collectivization of the textile industry shatters once and for all the legend that the workers are incapable of administrating a great and complex corporation.

Upon building the collective, a management committee of 19 was chosen by the rank and file membership. After three months the management committee reported back to the membership on the condition of the collective and the progress made.[53]

With the crushing of the fascist putsch, the owners transferred themselves and the assets of the industry abroad. But by cutting off dividends and premiums and eliminating high salaried directors and other wasteful expenditures, the collectives were able to pay the increased costs for raw materials. Two new machines for the manufacture of artificial silk were purchased from abroad. The necessary foreign exchange was raised by the sale of finished products abroad.

Every factory elected its administrative committee composed of its most capable workers. Depending on the size of the factory, the function of these committees included inner plant organization, statistics, finance, correspondence, and relations with other factories and with the community. Particularly significant was the organization of a top flight technical commission staffed by the most intelligent technical and administrative experts in the entire industry. This commission of engineers, technicians, and commercial experts drafted plans to increase production, division of labor, installations, etc. Several months after collectivization the textile industry of Barcelona was in far better shape than under capitalist management. Here was yet another example to show that grass roots socialism from below does not destroy initiative. Greed is not the only motivation in human relations.

Collectivization brought better conditions for the workers. The 60 hour work week in some factories was cut to 40. Wages were more equalized. Overtime work was abolished, and weekly wages increased from 68 to 78 pesetas. Wage rates were fixed by the workers themselves at union meetings.

A great many troops from the textile industry manned the fighting fronts. From Barcelona alone more than 20,000 textile workers of the CNT joined the militia. Non-combatant workers contributed voluntarily 10% to 15% of their weekly wages to finance the war against fascism, and in the last three months of 1937 contributed two and a half million pesetas to the anti-fascist militias.

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