Extract from Bilan, no.36: The meaning of the new institutions...

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 The following is an extract from a much longer article on the events of July 19, 1936 written by Bilan, which can be found here: ir/006_bilan36_july19.html


When the capitalist attack came in the form of Franco’s uprising, neither the POUM nor the CNT even dreamed of calling the workers to go out into the streets. They organized delegations to go to Companys for arms. On 19 July the workers came out spontaneously – by calling for a general strike the CUT and UGT were simply acknowledging a de facto state of affairs.

Since Companys, Giral, and their ilk were immediately regarded as allies of the proletariat, as the people who could supply the keys to the arms depot, it was quite natural that when the workers crushed the army and took up arms no one would think for a moment of posing the problem of the destruction of the state which, with Com­panys at its head, remained intact. From then on an attempt was made to spread the utopian idea that it is possible to make the revolution by expropriating factories and taking over land without touching the capitalist state, not even its banking ‘system.

The constitution of the Central Committee of the militias gave the impression that a period of proletarian power had begun; while the setting up of the Central Council of the Economy gave rise to the illusion that the proletariat was now managing its own econ­omy.

However, far from being organs of dual power, these organs had a capitalist nature and function. Instead of constituting a base for the unification of the proletarian struggle – for posing the question of power – they were from the beginning organs of col­laboration with the capitalist state.

In Barcelona the Central Committee of the militias was a conglomeration of workers’ and bourgeois parties and trade unions; not an organ of the soviet type arising spontan­eously on a class basis and capable of pro­viding a focus for the development of prole­tarian consciousness. The Central Committee was connected to the Generalidad and disap­peared with the passing of a simple decree when the new government of Catalonia was formed in October.

The Central Committee of the militias repre­sented a superb weapon of capitalism for leading the workers out of their towns and localities to fight on the territorial fronts where they are being ruthlessly mas­sacred.