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Afterword: Herbert R. Southworth Collection


Ganar la guerra es impulsar la revolución, dice el Partido Comunista...

[To win the war is to spur the revolution, says the Communist Party...]. . Partido Comunista. Ortega. Valencia. Control U.G.T. C.N.T. Lithograph, red and black; 79 x 72 cm.

This poster consists of a proclamation made by the Central Committee of the Spanish Communist Party (PCE) with the symbols of communism-the hammer, the sickle and the red star-in the background. The poster was probably issued in the summer or fall of 1936, when the PCE launched a campaign to appear as a moderate party, committed to the Republic and to the respect of private property. The text on the poster reads:

To win the war is to spur the revolution, says the Communist Party. The struggle to win the war is indisputably tied to the development of the revolution. If we do not win the war, the development of the revolution will be set back. It is imperative that this idea penetrate into the masses. We struggle to create a better society, in which such criminal and monstrous acts as the rebel subversion will be impossible. However, to all those dreamers or those who are irresponsible, who want to forcibly impose upon their own province or people experiments of 'socialism' or 'libertarian communism,' or of another kind, we must make them understand that all those experiments will crumble to the ground like imaginary castles if the war is not won, if we do not squash the military traitors, if we do not annihilate the fascists tormentors of our country, and if we do not eliminate the invading troops of German, Italian and Portuguese fascism from our land.

A number of reasons led the Comintern to instruct the PCE to publicly defend Republican order at a time when other factions of the left had already begun the social revolution. First, the PCE was too weak to compete with the CNT, the UGT, and the Socialist Party. Since it could not gain a significant following among the working class, it directed its attention to gaining a following among the bourgeoisie. Second, it has been argued that Stalin sought to monopolize the leadership of the labor movements in each European nation. By implying that their priorities were inappropriate, Stalin and the PCE were discrediting the Anarchists, the Socialists, and their collectives in order to win the working class to the Communists. Third, the USSR sought to maintain an alliance with France, and her ally England, in order to rely upon them should Nazi Germany begin hostilities on her eastern front. In order to protect the alliance, the USSR had to appear as if it were safeguarding the Spanish Republic, rather than paving the way for a Soviet satellite in Iberia. Finally, as this poster suggests, winning the war before starting the social revolution had its logic, since the collectives would be wiped out if the Nationalists conquered the land, as indeed occurred.

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