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I. ITS IMMEDIATE ANTECEDENTS
ON October 4 a new Lerroux government was formed in Spain, containing three ministers who were members of Acción Popular, the Catholic-agrarian party captained by Gil Robles. The next day, a country-wide general strike was declared. On October 6 the autonomous government of Catalonia proclaimed the Catalan State within a Federal Spanish Republic -- that is to say, in a new form of Spanish republican government. On the morning of October 7 the Catalan State surrendered; the autonomous government capitulated to the forces of Madrid.
The general strike lasted another week in almost every part of the country. In Asturias the armed struggle between the revolutionary forces and those of the government lasted for two weeks, ending finally in a pact between General López Ochoa, commanding the government troops, and Belarmino Tomás, representing the workers. But as these lines are written guerilla warfare continues in isolated spots in the Asturian mountains.
The number of dead cannot yet be ascertained, except in Oviedo, the capital of Asturias, where it is calculated that a thousand people have been buried or burned. In the whole of Asturias the dead, including revolutionaries, government troops, and civilians, are estimated at from two to three thousand. In the rest of the country the loss of life has been much less, but must amount to some hundreds. The material losses have been enormous. In Asturias alone, through fire and bombardment, they are estimated at more than one hundred and fifty million pesetas. Oviedo is literally a city in ruins, reminding one of certain Belgian and French villages destroyed by artillery in the World War.
Such, in brief, are the external facts of the October revolution in Spain. Let us now go below the surface, analyze its genesis and characteristics, and estimate as objectively as possible its social and political significance.
What first surprises those unfamiliar with the hidden factors in these events is the disproportion between so apparently minor a fact -- the participation of three members of Acción Popular in the Lerroux government -- and a revolutionary general strike in which the entire Spanish proletariat protested against that fact, paralyzing the whole economic life of the country and creating a state of civil war in many towns and provinces. The nomination of these three ministers was to all appearances perfectly constitutional. In less than a year three minority governments had been tried, under the leadership of three members of the Radical Party: Martínez Barrio -- under whom was held the corrupt general election of November 1933; Lerroux, who resigned on April 25; and Samper, who resigned on October 1.
The parties forming these three successive governments did not have a parliamentary majority. In order to remain in power they needed the votes of Acción Popular, which was not represented in the government. Why was it not? Because, up to October, neither the President of the Republic nor Acción Popular itself considered it prudent for this party to come into power. The reason was obvious. In the Constituent Assembly this party, which then had a different name, had shown itself to be frankly anti-republican, hostile to every article in the Constitution and to all its complementary laws. It had not voted for the Constitution when the latter came up for final approval. From the very beginning it was revisionist, not just in so far as this or that particular law was concerned, but in regard to the republican Constitution as a whole. Fundamentally it aspired, by means of revision, to restore the monarchy.
In the November elections it was allied with the monarchist parties and supported by monarchist money. Its program did not differ essentially from that of the groups which were openly fighting for the restoration of monarchist institutions and oligarchies. The vast majority of its voters, if not all, were monarchists. Later on, in order to gain access to office, it made ambiguous statements of acceptance of the republican régime, but this was merely to falsify the mandate which it had received from the electorate. If it wished to govern as a republican party, it would have had to wait until the next election and then present itself unequivocally under a republican flag. This was the argument of the Socialist Party and other frankly republican parties. Only one of these, the Radical Party of Lerroux, showed a disposition to accept members of Acción Popular; and that tendency caused the withdrawal of some twenty deputies, who formed an independent party under the leadership of Martínez Barrio. But to Lerroux, dominated by senile vanity and ambition, it was all the same whether it was a republic or a more or less disguised monarchy, provided only he were in power.
As for the President of the Republic, at the opening of the new Cortes he was disinclined to admit members of Acción Popular to the government, as he did not regard them as republicans; at least so the republicans of his entourage were told. But gradually two motives induced him to change his attitude. One was the cautious statement of republicanism which Gil Robles was compelled to make as a condition of joining the government. Probably it was the President himself who chiefly persuaded him to do so. Thus appearances were preserved.
Señor Alcalá Zamora, on whom is stamped deeply the characteristics of the professional jurist who puts the letter above the spirit of the law, is a man of profoundly conservative mentality. His republicanism is a mere matter of form. He wanted the basis of the republic to be so widened as to be acceptable, even if only nominally, to all Spaniards. The content of the republic -- the economic, social, and political relationship between the classes -- is of quite secondary interest to him. A sincere Catholic, his conception of society, based on the charity of those who have and the resignation of those who have not, does not differ in essentials from the political program of Acción Popular, or of any other Catholic party in the world. His ideal would be a Christian republic, full of pity for the poor. It is obvious that the purely external and surface republicanism of Gil Robles should fill him with satisfaction: it would widen the basis of the republic.
The second motive, on the other hand, was that Gil Robles was refusing to give further support to minority governments. He wanted to have a direct share in the government. He had to destroy with his own not too tender hand the work of reform which the three previous governments had performed in two years of republican-socialism. It was not expedient to wait, as he had once waited, until the next elections gave him an absolute majority. On the contrary, the result of another appeal to the electorate might be disastrous. His allies the monarchists were highly dissatisfied with his republican professions and his parliamentary concessions; and if, as was probable, they did not give him money for another election, the existence of his party would be in grave danger. Furthermore, the voters, noting his republican disguise, might turn against him, accusing him of treason.
At the same time Gil Robles believed that the republican Left, particularly the Socialists, would abandon their attitude of implacable hostility. He began to convince himself that the threats uttered in Parliament by the Socialists, that they would let loose a revolution if Acción Popular formed part of the government, would never be realized. Everyone would submit to the inevitable, the accomplished fact. At most there would be a twenty-four hour general strike of protest. This was stated in an editorial in El Debate, the organ of Gil Robles (who was perhaps the writer of the article), in its issue of October 3. There would be no revolution; nothing would happen. The President was also convinced of this. Two days before the Lerroux government was formed, a Madrid banker went to inform him that it was certain that the participation of Acción Popular in the government would be the signal for a revolution. "Who will call it?" the President asked with a smile. "The Socialists? They never make revolutions."
Then came the question, who was to govern? Either Acción Popular would, or the Cortes would be dissolved; no more minority governments. The President wanted to prolong the present Cortes as long as possible. The Constitution did not authorize him to dissolve Parliament more than twice during his term of office. This term is for six years, and there are still three to go. He had already dissolved one Cortes, the Constituent Assembly. The next or third Cortes of the republic could not be dissolved by him. It is understandable that he should wish to preserve his last prerogative of dissolution by prolonging the life of the existing Cortes. Moreover, the next Cortes might put him out of office, the only thing necessary being a vote of three-fifths of the deputies. Is Señor Alcalá Zamora afraid of being deposed? It would not be surprising if he were. The premature dissolution of the Constituent Assembly and his conduct towards the men and parties who have governed their public have completely alienated the sympathies of those who almost unanimously elected him. His policy as President has been to break up the large parties of the Left and to remove from office the most eminent men in the republic, appointing in their place the most mediocre and unqualified. He has fomented schisms and imposed ministries of nonentities, like that of Señor Samper.
Señor Zamora has shown himself an "ultra-presidentialist." His ideal seems to be that all ministers should be designated by him and that they should belong either to no party or to parties of no significance. Repeatedly, but in vain, Señor Zamora has tried to form cabinets presided over by men who were not even deputies. In recent ministries there have been various ministers who were not deputies and who were appointed only because they were friends of the President. Not even in the days of Alfonso XIII did the factor of personal likes and dislikes play such a decisive part in Spanish politics. This curious psychology of the President, in which ambition for personal power is combined with a well-defined inferiority complex, is one of the guiding motives, often the leading motive, in the already troubled history of the Spanish Republic. While the responsibility for the October revolution of Acción Popular is great, greater still is that of the President who, contrary to the spirit of the Constitution, opened the doors of the government to a party whose electoral power derives from the monarchists, and whose political program, repeatedly and publicly proclaimed, is to destroy, first the social and secular aims of the Spanish Republic, and finally the Republic itself.
This, however, is undisguised Fascism, adapted to the conditions of Spanish life. The three last minority governments, supported in Parliament by Acción Popular, were a preparation for Fascism or semi-Fascism. The direct participation in government of Acción Popular was two-thirds Fascism. The next step was to eliminate Lerroux definitely, as Martínez Barrio had previously been eliminated, and to exercise plenary powers, with or without Parliament, with the connivance and complicity of the President (as in the Austrian case of Miklas with Dollfuss). The only alternative was, overruling the President, to establish complete Fascism -- a Fascism based particularly on the ownership of land, the Catholic Church, and the army, thus resembling rather the Fascism of Austria and Portugal than that of Italy and Germany.
Confronted by this apparently legal and long premeditated transfer of Fascist power to the Republican authorities, all the social and political parties which saw themselves threatened by the beginnings of a dictatorship revolted on October 5. They included the opposition republican parties, the government of Catalonia, and the workers' organizations of Marxist, syndicalist, and anarchist tendencies. This revolt was a secret to nobody except the President of the Republic and those parties forming the Lerroux ministry. The Socialist minority had announced it in Parliament. It was published daily in the Socialist press. It was the inevitable theme at all working class meetings.
In reality the revolution began to germinate at the last elections, as a result of the methods of corruption and coercion employed to frustrate the national will. If it did not break out at that time it was because nobody expected that the President would hand over the government to an old monarchist party with expressly Fascist ideas. Nevertheless, writing in FOREIGN AFFAIRS immediately after the elections, I was in a position to make this easy prophecy: "If there is a dictatorship, there will be a revolution." [i] Strictly speaking, there has been a revolution before the dictatorship was firmly established, before it could seize power. It has been a "preventive revolution," chiefly inspired by the fatal example of German Socialism, which surrendered without a struggle, and of Austrian Socialism, which was vanquished in a struggle that came too late. Was the Spanish revolution premature? It has been momentarily suppressed. May it not have been a wasted effort? It is too soon to tell. But the moment is opportune to study the characteristics of this revolution and its historical potentialities.
II. ITS GENESIS AND CHARACTERISTICS
The intervention of the opposition republican parties in the revolutionary movement of October was purely platonic. The four republican groups led by Azaña (then in Barcelona), Martínez Barrio, Sánchez Román and Miguel Maura, contented themselves with publishing notes in which they severed their connection with the existing régime on the grounds that it had fallen into the hands of the Right and especially of Acción Popular. These are small parties, representing minute sections of the petty bourgeoisie. In the last analysis, all they proposed to do was to withdraw from Parliament. When they did withdraw on the opening of the Cortes on November 5, it was merely in protest against the unusual action of the government in extending the press censorship, which has existed from the beginning of the revolution, to Parliamentary speeches. But if the President of the Republic invites them to form a government to liquidate the revolution and prepare new elections, it will not be strange if all, or almost all, answer in the affirmative; so far as they are concerned, in that event, the present régime would have to deal with nothing more serious than a passing fit of ill temper. They neither desire nor can effect a serious revolution.
The case is different with the Catalan Esquerra (Republicans), who have monopolized the government of Catalonia since the beginnings of the Republic. Their revolt against the central state consisted, as I have said, in proclaiming a Federal Spanish Republic and within it the Catalan State. This gesture, however, was not supported by arms, despite the abundance of armament and the numerous militia -- called escamots, meaning "vigilants" -- at the disposal of the Generalidad of Catalonia, not to mention the police forces. These armaments consisted of fifty to a hundred thousand rifles, machine guns, and armored cars. There existed a complete plan of campaign against the forces adhering to the government, which were a little more than a thousand men. But this plan remained in abeyance. A brief bombardment by the troops of General Batet, commanding the government army, caused the Generalidad building to surrender a few hours after the rising. What had happened? In order to understand the formidable collapse of the Catalan government, believed by many to be as staunch as a rock, but which turned out to be a house of cards, certain preliminary matters must be recorded.
The Esquerra party rested on two social forces, the rabassaires, or small farmers of Catalonia, and the syndicalists in the towns, particularly Barcelona.[ii] Luis Companys, president of the Generalidad government, was the political leader of the rabassaires and at the same time, during the military dictatorship, he was one of the chief lawyers for the persecuted syndicalists.
Once the autonomy of Catalonia was established, one of the first moves of the Catalan government and parliament was to pass the so-called Land Act. Briefly, the purpose of this law was to break up the large landed estates, the origins of which went back to the Middle Ages, and to distribute them amongst the farmers who had been working them on lease from time immemorial, providing them with facilities for the purchase of those small parcels of land which had been rendered fruitful by their many years of devoted, hard work. The law was far from revolutionary and anything but socialistic, since it meant an increase in the number of landowners. But the present owners, represented by the Regionalistic League, the organ of the Catalan plutocracy in all its manifestations, raised a great outcry and compelled the Madrid government to bring a charge of unconstitutionality against this law before the Tribunal of Constitutional Guarantees.
This Tribunal, consisting chiefly of members of the Right, opposed to the autonomy of Catalonia and its secular and social policies, declared the Land Act unconstitutional. The Catalan parliament refused to accept this decision, and the Samper government, instead of enforcing it, entered into laborious negotiations with the government of the Generalidad with a view to finding a formula which would uphold the decision of the Tribunal of Guarantees and at the same time leave the Land Act untouched, save for a few slight modifications. This conciliatory policy was extremely displeasing to the right-wing parties, especially Acción Popular, which desired the annulment of the Catalan Land Act. They were further displeased because the central government had transferred the public services in Catalonia to the Generalidad, and because the Catalan government had wanted to remove certain judges who, in its opinion, were not enforcing with sufficient loyalty in Catalan territory the laws of that autonomous region. It was this displeasure which led to the fall of the Samper cabinet. On learning that Acción Popular was part of the Lerroux government the Catalans were convinced that this would mean the end of the Land Act and of the more vital powers conferred on Catalonia by the Constitution. Once again it was the triumph of traditional centralism over autonomy. The government of the Generalidad revolted against this centralism, which was a return to the policy of the late monarchy.
There were two elements back of the Catalan government, a separatist minority which would accept nothing less than the independence of Catalonia, and the majority, represented by Companys, which stood for the status quo. The compromise was the proclamation of the Catalan State within the Federal Spanish Republic. The extremist minority was in favor of using force in defense of the new Federal State; but the majority was opposed to an armed struggle and decided to surrender without resistance. It may be asked, why? I shall try to explain.
The rabassaires, who might have come to the assistance of the Generalidad, were not armed, nor could they be armed overnight. In any case, even if they could have been armed rapidly, a rural civil war would have had small chance of success, unless the general strike had meanwhile overthrown the government in Madrid. This government had resisted the first attack of the strikers. The government of Catalonia, on the other hand, was afraid that a rural insurrection might come under the control of more radical elements, of the poorest peasants, imbued with socialistic doctrines, and be transformed into a social revolution.
This same fear determined the decision of the Generalidad to renounce armed resistance in Barcelona. The escamots, loyal to the Esquerra, might be enrolled by the socialists, communists, syndicalists, and anarchists, who were frankly at daggers drawn with the Generalidad government and the party which supported it. In recent months there had been numerous strikes, a proof that the city proletariat, disillusioned by the Generalidad government and its tendencies to serve the bourgeoisie openly, was returning to its old tactics of direct action.
On the other hand, many members of the Esquerra used language which was a constant insult to the urban proletariat. The majority of this proletariat comes from other Spanish provinces, mostly in the south of Spain, and especially from Murcia. "Murcianism" is an expression of contempt used by the most extreme Catalan nationalists to describe these working masses and the syndicalist methods which they employ in their struggles. With this contemptuous word all non-Catalan workers are continually insulted, and they are made to feel the reproach of being foreigners and, therefore, undesirable. This psychological factor, plus the tendency of the Generalidad towards a policy highly unfavorable to the great labor groups which had helped with their votes to make the Esquerra the government of Catalonia, explains the attitude of disillusionment and resentment on the part of the Barcelona proletariat so far as this party is concerned.
When the Generalidad revolted against the central government, the Workers' Alliance, consisting of socialists, communists, and in part anarcho-syndicalists, crowded into the streets, demanding arms with which to defend the insurrection. Not only were no arms given to them, but this insurrectionary movement of the proletariat must have intimidated the Generalidad as much as did the bombardment of General Batet. The government of Catalonia found itself caught between two fires, that of the Madrid government and that of the potential social revolution. Fear of this latter was not unfounded. If the Catalan proletariat had had arms at its disposal in October 1934 it would not have been content merely to defend the Republic of April 14, 1931, much less its representatives in Catalonia. But the proletariat was unarmed. That is why the revolt there collapsed. Those who were prepared to support it had no arms, and those who had arms were frightened by the possible results of the revolution.
What history has frequently demonstrated was proved once again, namely, that a petty bourgeois party, placed between the power of the upper middle classes who control the state, and the mass of the class-conscious workers, is ineffective in revolution and always surrenders to the strongest side. Today it has surrendered to the central State; tomorrow it will surrender to the proletariat, should the latter win. The tragedy of the Catalan Esquerra has been its fear of struggle, that is, its impotence. And the same tragedy is true of all liberal and democratic parties of the center type; caught between the upper and nether millstones of Fascism and Marxism, they would like to remain out of or above the great historic struggle, but they are doomed either to be absorbed or destroyed by the contending parties.
The real protagonist of the October revolution was the working class. With the exception of the syndicalists and anarchists, which were always revolutionary organizations -- in a little over two years they have risen in arms four times against the republic -- the rest of the Spanish proletariat, the majority of whom subscribe to the Second International, had until now adopted parliamentary and evolutionary tactics. Twice, it is true, they had tried the general strike of a political character, in August 1917 and in December 1930. The former, save for isolated acts of violence, was peaceful. The latter was defeated by the lukewarm attitude of the syndicalist leaders. The leaders of the Socialist Party and the Unión General de Trabajadores, who have always worked in agreement, did not believe in armed revolt. At the congress of the Socialist Party and the Unión General held in 1933 there was a change of direction and tactics. Why?
One of the most influential causes of this change was the annihilation of the German Socialist Party early in 1933. This was the bankruptcy of democratic evolutionism. Contrary to what had been believed, Fascism meant much more than simply an Italian peculiarity. For the first time its universal traits were recognized. Fascism, as the French writer Rosenstock-Frank later said, represents the socialization of the losses of capital. To alleviate the economic crisis, wages had to be reduced and strikes prohibited. Consequently, the simplest and most radical method was to suppress working class organizations based upon the class struggle.
Even in 1933 the Spanish socialists realized that Fascism would try to establish itself in all countries, including Spain. The propaganda of the right-wing parties in the November elections confirmed this presentiment. They declared quite openly that their purpose, if they were victorious at the polls, was not to allow members of the Socialist Party to sit in Parliament, but to destroy their political and trade union power all over the country and to wipe out their organizations by force. This threat is being carried out. The minority governments, manipulated according to the will of the Right parties, have been removing from office all municipal bodies in which there was a socialist majority. They have persecuted the socialist press to an extent unsurpassed even in the days of the monarchy, mulcting them of enormous sums and suppressing their editions almost daily. Recently, under the pretext of contraband arms and the discovery by the police of a few revolvers and bombs in the Casa del Pueblo in Madrid -- kept there as a defense against probable Fascist attacks -- the dissolution of a great number of workers' societies was ordered, the courts later acquiescing in this decision. The program of Acción Popular and other allied parties was being carried out.
Confronted by these facts, and seeing how the modest legislation of the republic was defied or undone, the disillusionment of the proletariat was unbounded. They noted what had been done and what was further threatened: the blocking of agrarian reform; the permitting of the religious orders to continue their schools, contrary to the provisions of the Constitution; the return to starvation wages in the fields; the granting of amnesties to all monarchists and permission to them to return to the service of the Republican State; and the restoration of a state tax in favor of the clergy, also in defiance of the Constitution. All of this, and what was sure to follow, was Fascism -- not frank and rough, from the bottom up, from the gutter to power, as in Italy and Germany -- but astute and concealed, as in Portugal, Austria, and other countries where the influence of the Church is strong.
The struggle was inevitable. The uprising in Austria in February 1934, so far from discouraging the Spanish proletariat, filled them with enthusiasm. The feeling was, let us rather die fighting, as in Austria, than be pulverized without a struggle, as in Germany. Heroic defeats are always fruitful. History consists of the record of painful achievements, of momentary defeats, which alone make possible the triumphs of tomorrow. People remembered the Russian Revolution of 1905, without which the revolution of 1917 would have been impossible.
This spirit of combat prevailed particularly amongst the younger workers' organizations, which are deeply colored by communist propaganda, more especially that of the Trotsky variety, and in socialist circles. One might say that the revolution was the work of the younger proletarians. Most of the older leaders either separated from the movement or were carried in the wake of the younger men, without much hope or determination. There were magnificent exceptions, but it would be indiscreet to name them at this time, when the courts are eagerly searching for a central committee or important responsible individuals upon whom to discharge the wrath of the law and a frightened community. When all the details of this extensive and profound revolution can be known, it will be found that the younger workers, and they alone, launched it, even against the wishes of the trade union leaders. It was an irresistible movement, starting at the bottom, with the masses who were not prepared to accept Fascism without a struggle. The revolutionary tension had reached such a point that, if there had been no explosion, the socialist proletariat would have broken through its trade union framework and become incorporated with the communists and anarcho-syndicalists. This hitherto peaceful proletariat required this baptism of fire to mark the beginning of a new historical development.
With an army of tyros in this form of struggle, the strike suffered from the defects which characterize any untrained and technically unequipped force. A modern revolution, if it is to succeed, must be planned like a war. A revolution needs military as well as political leaders. The former were lacking in Spain. Whether they did or did not exist, or whether they did not join in the movement, would not now be prudent to inquire. The fact remains that military leadership was lacking. Hence the technical weakness of the revolution even where it was most intense, as in Asturias, Leon, and the Basque country. The revolutionaries in these provinces, mostly miners, had scarcely any other weapon than dynamite, in the use of which they were skilled. The Asturians had rifles and cannon, but were unfamiliar with their use. In their objectives and mass movements they committed grave errors which would easily have been avoided had they been under the orders of army officers.
The insurrection centered in the mining hills of the North. It was helped by the rugged terrain of these regions and the virile qualities of the Cantabrians, whose natural strength is doubled by their herculean labors in the coal and iron mines. It was less intensive in the towns, because these were better defended and the concentration in them of masses of men was more difficult. In Madrid, where I was an eye-witness, except for two or three attempted attacks on barracks, the struggle took place between the government forces in the streets and the revolutionaries who were firing from terraces and balconies. Such tactics may seem futile; but there is no doubt that, when prolonged, they begin to affect the nerves of those who are attacked. At the end of three days the government troops were unmanned morally by the hostilities of an invisible enemy.
In a negative sense the surprise of the strike was the attitude of the rural districts. Central Castille, Estremadura, Andalusia and Aragon responded to the strike, but with little or no violence. This relative weakness can be attributed to two things. One was the disillusionment and resentment left in the minds of the rural proletariat by the general strike engineered all over Spain last spring by the Federación de la Tierra, a branch of the Union General de Trabajadores. The leaders of the Unión General and the Socialist Party did not lend the strike the moral and material support which had been expected in the country, for they considered the strike to be inopportune and ineffective, as indeed it turned out to be. Without the assistance of the other unions, the strike rapidly declined, weakening the Federación de la Tierra and spreading confusion amongst the country people, who felt they had been abandoned. This state of mind explains the half-hearted way in which they took up the strike in October. For them it was too late, just as their strike in the spring was premature and illadvised for the other unions.
The other factor was the lack of solidarity between the anarchists and syndicalists in the provinces, where they have considerable power of their own. They did not prevent the strike from being general, but they did not wish to give it a revolutionary slant. In this pacific attitude there was also a shade of resentment. It was an answer to or a reprisal for the fact that the socialist organizations had refused to join in any of the four armed insurrections promoted by the anarcho-syndicalists. At the same time it must be remembered that the anarchist and syndicalist leaders could not be expected to take a favorable view of the change of tactics in the socialist unions, since the latter might attract their own followers.
Only in the North was there united action between all the working class sections, socialists, communists, syndicalists and anarchists. This is another reason, in addition to those already indicated, for the extraordinary intensity of the insurrection in these regions and the variety of its manifestations, particularly in Asturias. In some places money was abolished and libertarian communism was proclaimed, two typically anarchist gestures. In others a Soviet was established, an obviously communist move. In the majority the socialists predominated, and they, of course, subordinated their local victories to that of the central State. But when Catalonia was conquered and the insurrection in Madrid suppressed, as well as in most of the provinces, the end of the struggle in Asturias was a foregone conclusion.
Nevertheless, it must not be assumed that the government and the parties supporting it are satisfied with their victory. If I am not greatly mistaken, it will be one of the most Pyrrhic victories ever achieved by any government. In the first place, since the insurrection was fairly feeble, for the reasons indicated, the enormous weakness of the government became only too obvious. In spite of its proven valor and iron discipline, the Guardia Civil was defeated in almost every case where there was fighting in the country. The government troops could not have withstood sniping in the cities for more than a week. The greatest weakness was revealed by the government's fear of using the regular army, except a few small companies used in Asturias and against the Generalidad in Catalonia. Since the loyalty of the rank and file and a considerable number of non-commissioned officers seemed doubtful to such a government as Lerroux's, they were kept in barracks as a precautionary measure. There was scarcely any effort even to use them for transport and other public services.
The insurrection was put down by mercenaries, recruited from Africa, from the Tercio -- originally a foreign legion, but now restricted as to the enlistment of foreigners -- and from Regulares, that is, Moroccan soldiers in the service of Spain. The ferocity of these troops is proverbial, and they were used to suppress the insurrection in Asturias. The Moors could not penetrate to this region from the eighth to the fifteenth century, when they invaded and dominated Spain; and it was precisely in the mountains of Asturias, in a place called Covadonga, that the reconquest began. Now they penetrated to Asturias by sea, invited by the Christians, and paid by the republic to fight the new heretics, the revolutionary miners. This scandalized many victims of the revolution. The atrocities committed by the Tercio and the Regulares, not only during the struggle, but after the armistice, will scandalize the world when they are known. Rarely has a government exercised so brutal a terror. The traditionalists have always complained of the dark legends invented by foreigners about Spain; but compared with the known though still unpublished facts the darkest legends are pale.
But terror does not frighten. Some people are killed, but the survivors, far from being intimidated, clench their fists in anger and hide their guns for another day. "They beat us this time, but the next turn will be ours," say the fugitives. The bravery and combative spirit of these people are infinite. "With these men," said an officer of the government troops, referring to the revolutionaries, "I could conquer Europe." With these men they can conquer everything, except the men themselves. The civil war continues. Everybody says that the laying down of arms is merely a truce.
The civil wars in Spain during the nineteenth century were the bloody struggles of one oligarchy against another. The present war is one of the proletariat against all oligarchies, against ancient monarchies and new republics whose common denominator is Fascism. The Right would not allow Spain to have a moderate republic, liberal and democratic. The October revolution was the reply. A revolution has begun, but nobody knows when or how it will end. Probably it is too late for a moderate solution, for the restoration of the Republic of April 14.
[i] "The Struggle in Spain," by Luis Araquistáin, FOREIGN AFFAIRS, April 1934, p. 470.
[ii] The word rabassaires originally meant those who signed contracts known as rabassa morta, or dead vine contracts, that is, for the length of time the vines were alive in the vineyards.