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New Left Review I/74, July-August 1972


Fernando Claudin

Spain—The Untimely Revolution

The Spanish revolution was the only revolution to take place in Europe during the existence of the Communist International, with the transient exception of the 1919 Hungarian soviet republic: but it took the leaders of the ‘world party’ unawares. In Manuilsky’s report to the Comintern Executive in February 1930, he dwelt on ‘the enormous prospects now opening up for transforming today’s revolutionary upsurge in the advanced capitalist and colonial countries into a revolutionary situation’. The ‘revolutionary upsurge’ in the ‘advanced capitalist countries’ at that moment existed only in the mind of Stalin’s representative in the Comintern, but shortly before the Executive meeting the dictatorship of Primo de Rivera had fallen, and some of those present raised the question of its significance. Manuilsky replied: ‘Spain is not where the fate of the world proletarian revolution will be decided . . . A single strike is of more importance to the international working class than this Spanish-style “revolution”, which has taken place without the communist party and the proletariat taking their historic, leading role.’ [1] D. Manuilsky, report and closing speech to the Enlarged Executive Committee meeting of the Communist International, 18–28 February 1930, in Inprecorr. The revolution nonetheless advanced stubbornly, ‘Spanish-style’, despite Manuilsky’s failure to predict it, and despite the fact that the party which should have had the ‘historic, leading role’ scarcely existed.

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