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Libertarian Communism, by Isaac Puente.

Libertarian Communism, by Isaac Puente.

An important pamphlet that provided inspiration to Spanish anarchists prior to the 1936–1939 Spanish Revolution. 

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Classic pamphlet on libertarian communism by Spanish anarcho-syndicalist Isaac Puente. 

Issac Puente was one of the very few members of the non-labouring classes to wield any influence within the pre-war CNT of Spain. According to Jose Peirats, in Anarchists in the Spanish Revolution, he was a 'Basque doctor and socialist, propagandist for libertarian communism. He collaborated on the syndicalist and anarchist press...' However there is nothing in this pamphlet, the first edition of which appeared in 1932, to suggest he was committed to anything but anarchism.

Libertarian communism is not a blueprint for a future society. It is, rather, a set of principles to be applied by the working class, and all others who are prepared to work alongside them, for taking over and running the economic base of society so as to refashion it in accordance with social justice. While it is collective in spirit and method, libertarian communism gives the fullest possible scope to individual needs and aspirations. It is no utopian scheme, though it is the means by which to reach the utopia of anarchy.

In December 1933, Puente, Cipriano Mera and Durruti constituted the committee that organised the uprising in Aragon. A comrade who took part, Miguel Foz, has described events succinctly:

'Comrades carried out their task of burning the property archives, the church and municipal records, etc... A public announcement abolished thenceforth the circulation of money... We lived for five days under libertarian communism, relying on the loyalty of the village and the apprehensiveness of the enemy. Some of our opponents came before the unions to ask, in full assembly, for explanations of the meaning of libertarian communism, and some of them came over spontanelously.'

The Aragon rising was put down with considerable ferocity by the authorities. Puente was among those arrested and tortured by the police. After five months he and the other main organisers were finally released thanks to enormous popular pressure; the legal case against the mass of the insurgents had collapsed following a daring raid on the prosecution offices carried out from within the prison.

Puente's pamphlet was widely read. It inspired the historic platform formulated by the CNT at its May 1936 congress at Saragossa. This city had been the centre of the December 1933 rising. It was on the basis of this platform that the libertarian workers of Spain, in their struggle against fascism that began only weeks later, pushed social liberation to unprecedented heights. Unfortunately, Puente was one of the first victims of the fascists, being caught behind their lines and shot in July 1936.

Between the reformist labour movements of most of the world today, with their reactionary leaders (and their authoritarian middle class would be leaders), and the kind of revolutionary unions described by Puente, the differences are many and vast. Yet if all the fulltime officials, all the union contracts, all the glittering pension funds and all the rest of the apparatus of mirage and blackmail with which the wage slave of today is kept chained physically and mentally to the treadmill- if all this were to vanish overnight, the workers would not wake up the next morning suddenly defenceless before the merciless greed of the employers. On the contrary, they would be organised still in their places of work, but with the difference now that they would be able to unite as never before, concious at last of their real interests.

As their struggle became more and more confident and coordinated, turning inevitably towards the abolition of their own slavery, ie of capitalism and the state, the organisational principles adopted would inevitably be those described here by the humanitarian healer and libertarian militant Issac Puente.

 

by M.H. from Libcom

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