Although it played a more than negligible role in the creation and development of the international phenomenon of the total contestation of authoritarian society and the radicalization of revolutionary minorities, anarchist activism has been deliberately ignored in most of the studies referring to this phenomenon. We have also been able to confirm that the pages devoted to Spanish and international anarchism of the last few years are too brief to grasp its real evolution and the importance of its ideological and practical contribution to international revolutionary sensitization.
Considering that the study of this process of revolutionary affirmation can be important in analyzing the evolution of international revolutionary activism and of anarchism in particular, and having available first-hand information and documentation -- from having experienced this evolution at close quarters -- we wrote this work, which, without claiming to be impartial, seeks to be objective.
Moreover, we believe that this analysis may permit a better understanding of the events that are currently shaking the Iberian peninsula: the revolutionary radicalization of the Portuguese extreme left faced with the reformist counter-revolution, and the radicalization of the anti-Francoist struggle in the face of the plans of the Spanish fascist regime to maintain itself in Power.
O.A. & A.G.
Through a strange confusion between cause and effect, between means and ends, anarchism has been successively identified -- both by its enemies and by a good number of its most fervent defenders -- with the irrational violence of "individual action" and the "idyllic pacifism" of all the variants of social utopianism. Most often, this identification is the premeditated work of well-defined propaganda seeking to present anarchism as a purely nihilistic ideology and praxis, or as being without a revolutionary transcendence.
It is not surprising, then, that the revolutionary activism of the last few years (1961-1975) has been addressed with the same lack of critical objectivity as it was in the past. However, its tactical and ideological proximity to the international movement of youth contestation, and the fact that anarchism has traditionally been the only concrete negation of the established order, has resulted in the re-evaluation of anarchist ideas, which were once again at the center of the revolutionary preoccupation and struggle, a struggle which, in addition to the deviations that clearly reformist organizations (resolutely integrated into the established order) caused it to undergo, had allowed itself to be reduced to demagogic revolutionary hair-splitting and a routine repetition of topics, critiques and programs of demands.
Contestation shook the rigid doctrinal blueprints in which the revolution had been cloistered. At the same time, it liberated an important part of the rebellious potential of youth: an energy that the traditional parties and organizations of the left had recuperated by integrating it into the ineffective legal political struggle, through electoralism and partisan sectarianism. In the short time-span of a decade, this critical and combative, simultaneous and consistent assertion from the most agitated sectors of the youth caused a fundamental change in the statement of revolutionary proposals, and in the relations between the different currents for which the revolution was a reference point. The most important and perhaps the most promising social fact of our time rests in this revolutionary sensitization of youth, particularly at a time when the technological rationality of the society of abundance sublimates alienation and gives authoritarian rationality its best justification in the one-dimensional universe of the Commodity and the Law.
In a world structured in this way, revolutionary violence, that which is practised against the oppressive rationality of the system by marginal elements or by the minorities who suffer the worst from statist and capitalist oppression, seems less justified and more irrational than ever. On the other hand, the violence of the system sees itself all the more well-founded and sublimated when its technological support is perfected and when it appears as the very emanation of Force. And this remains true not only when this violence is exercised by a superpower against an infinitely weaker people, but also when it is directed against the citizens of the very developed countries themselves, through the most modern techniques of police repression. The organs of mass information have attained such a level of technical perfection that they force the individual to constantly digest propaganda messages, for the express purpose of political and psychological conditioning. In these conditions, mass communication has no other purpose than to make over particular interests into those of a social whole, in such a way that the political requirements of the system change themselves into the hopes and needs of the whole society, in such a way that their satisfaction favours the expansion of social life and guarantees -- with minimal repression -- public order, hierarchies and privileges, so that everything appears to be the expression of reason.
In its totality, this society is very far from reason; because on one hand, its development favours neither the satisfaction of the most basic needs, nor the flowering of the faculties of human beings, and because on the other hand, "peaceful co-existence" between peoples is based on the massive production of arms and a plethora of "defence budgets" which could be used to liberate millions of human beings from hunger, poverty and ignorance, in that "Third World" which also belongs to our own.
How could one not describe as irrational a society that, in order to maintain a given rate of growth, has not hesitated to pollute the air we breathe and the land and oceans, in a slow but continuous process of destruction of humanity's natural habitat, while at the same time threatening the whole of humanity with an atomic apocalypse?
Despite this, "well-intentioned" people continue to condemn, in the name of a humanism that claims to have no class, race or religious bias, all those who resort to violence to protest and struggle against injustice and oppression a thousand times more violent and unjustifiable. The uniqueness of contemporary society is based on the use of technological potential -- which decides the "position of power" -- rather than the systematic use of terror, to obtain the cohesion of opposing social forces around the two poles of its social dynamic: an exaggerated functionalism, assimilating the most extravagant marginalisms, and immense industrial development, which, for the moment, ensures a continual improvement in the "quality of life". Most of this society's "assimilated people", including the most cultivated and intelligent minorities, do not realize that, when regulated by a repressive totality, freedom is reduced to an abstract symbol and becomes the moral prop of domination. A freedom that is led, ordered, watched, controlled and censored, like the sublimated freedom which this society offers us, has nothing in common with the instinctive, spontaneous, authentically free freedom which is the natural expression of the profound longing of any human consciousness.
In a world that is hyper-commodified and rationalized in an authoritarian way, freedom is considered a commodity, and its value follows the fluctuations of the market, as is equally true of the value of intelligence, creation and labour, without the scientists, artists and workers offering the slightest resistance to an integration that aims to better ensure their exploitation.
In the new technological world of labour and capitalist "participation", the working class' negative attitude (of opposition) has transformed itself into an attitude of collaboration interested in the continuity and expansion of established society, as well as the maintenance and strengthening of its institutions, to such an extent that it no longer expresses its sociological status of contradiction. It is not a matter of the total disappearance of class struggle, but it is unquestionable that the latter is softening in favour of a growing collaboration for common objectives: growth, guaranteeing buying power, social security, retirement, professional upgrading, ecological preoccupations, etc. Participation and collaboration manage to be so intimate and integrated into the system that the true agents of exploitation disappear behind this facade of rational objectivity, in such a way that hate and frustration are diluted in the diversity of the occupations of modern life and the fluidity of functional responsibility.
We are therefore faced with a system that arranges the material possibility of stabilizing society and maintaining technical progress in the service of domination, by the alteration of an alienating technological and political rationality. It does not matter very much whether this alteration is the work of a democratic or a totalitarian system, for the diversity of motives referred to corresponds to a unique process of individual reduction and social blocking. The two systems tend to immunize the social totality against any negation, whether it comes from within or from the outside, and creates a supranational solidarity to defend the established order. The meaning of this "solidarity" has been defined, brilliantly and simply, by one of Henry Kissinger's advisors1, in a formula that even the dullest and most conservative of Wall Street financiers has understood:
"The East + Technology and Capital + A Little Good Will = Peace and Profit."
Capitalism and communism still continue to "rival" each other through international institutions and small interposed nations, in order to justify the threat of external danger and postpone real pacification indefinitely. Neither arms nor 20th Century industry permit the "Homelands" to ensure their independence and territorial integrity, except in organized ensembles of worldwide importance; but interests, thoughtlessness and ignorance are such that nationalisms are always flourishing, and in their name, political oligarchies support tyrannical regimes that do not even grant the most basic democratic freedoms. These systems, based on private capitalism or State capitalism, are incapable of transforming and reforming themselves in the direction of an authentic liberation of social and intellectual life. Only the concepts of total negation allow the prospects of liberation to be seen: it is the only revolutionary demand, to the extent that it fuses instinctive revolt and political revolt into a single negation.
Although the possibility of liberation is fully identified with the movement of youth contestation -- a revolt that is both instinctive and political -- its most precise affirmation can be found in anarchist revolutionary activism. In fact, it is the latter which defines negation in total and concrete terms: in its form of revolutionary violence, uncompromising rejection of any form of collaboration with capitalism or the State, and its total project against domination. The anarchist revolutionary activism of recent years is surely the last of all the forms of contestation that could be integrated by the system in operation, however subtle and complex domination might become in the future.
The revolutionary role has gone to the "groupuscules", to the active minorities, and through them to the grassroots. In a generational break, the youth understood the reformist, integrating role that the old formations of the Left had been reduced to, and waved the flag of revolutionary action that the latter had lowered. But this action, by its form as well as its content, whether it refers to anarchism or not, situates itself in the framework of tactics and goals which have always been those of anarchist revolutionary activism, that is, of direct action and the total rejection of all oppressive systems.
The most original characteristic of this activism, and the most promising from the revolutionary point of view, is uncompromising rejection of the ideological sectarianism that has, until now, divided the forces that struggle for the revolution. The foresight of the anarchist critique of the corrupting effect of power, whether it is essentially revolutionary or not, seems to have been confirmed by events. Not only does the State represent power, but any system of organization implies a primary form of power. Hence the bureaucratic-authoritarian corruption that appeared in the "anarchist organizations" themselves. It must be emphasized, then, that among the most important consequences that resulted from the anarchist revolutionary activism of this recent period, is the denunciation, and consequently the rejection, of revolutionary deviationism within the anarchist movement itself, and by extension, within the international revolutionary Left. Since the French May '68, these denunciations and contestations had unimaginable repercussions, which some described as a "crisis of civilization". They also fed the spiritual non-conformism of all those who refused to accept the degeneration of human thought, serving indirectly as a critical stimulation and ideological support for all the other forms of international revolutionary activism. Particularly at a time when authoritarian Marxism saw itself challenged in its revolutionary prophecy by an accumulation of irrefutable facts and experiences, and by the correct analysis of Marxism's new theoreticians, who in the end discovered the fundamental aspect that Marxism had neglected, namely, that one of the primary and essential preconditions of the revolution is the radical transformation of the mentality of pre-revolutionary men in the sphere of the conscious and unconscious mind, that is, of men whose needs and hopes were conditioned and formed by the old society.
Despite the undeniable evolution of the modern State in the direction of much more rational forms of power than in the past, the conception and practice of power are, paradoxically, increasingly authoritarian; and despite the constant and profound transformations of society, the totality of social relations are still, in the East and in the West, dependent on an increasingly rigid class system, whether between capitalists and producers or between managers and managed. Never has the revolutionary fight appeared so necessary and so vital; so that men, all men, can control their own destinies. But this requires a continual adjustment of revolutionary strategy to reality, the adaptation of fighting methods to new social realities, for a conception of the revolutionary objective (the transformation of man's life) that is increasingly precise, and a greater speed in the communication of the concerns of contestation. This is why the essence of the anarchist tradition of negation continually reappears as one of the fundamental values of the revolutionary critique, in the direction of refusal to compromise ideological purity, of balance between ends and means, of loyalty to what, in the final analysis, is the supreme objective and mainstay of the revolutionary struggle: solidarity and freedom.
In a certain sense, the chapters that follow are an attempt at a historical explanation of the contribution of anarchist revolutionary activism (1961-1975) to the development of international revolutionary activism, and of its repercussions on the project of the total contestation of authoritarian society.
Given the specific and quantitative weight of Spanish anarchism within international anarchism, and its condition as a movement in exile, the anarchist revolutionary activism of the past decade is the result of a process begun by the last attempt at the revolutionary recuperation of the Spanish Libertarian Movement, the reunification of the CNT, and by the renewal of anti-Francoist direct action.
We have judged it necessary, then, to begin with the study of this stage, independently of the interest there might be, in the analysis of this aborted attempt, for a better understanding of the process of anti-Francoist decomposition and the process of Spanish fascism's integration into the ensemble of democratic and socialist nations; for whether one wants it or not, this process still has a more than negligible influence in the march of contemporary history.
1 Samuel Pisar, an international lawyer and a specialist in commercial exchanges between the East and the West.