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Afterword: Herbert R. Southworth Collection


Federació de Cooperatives de Producció Treball de Catalunya. La cooperació és l'expressió exacta d'un poble lliure : els pobles esclaus no cooperan, obeeixen

[Federation of Production Cooperatives of Catalonia. Cooperation is the true expression of a free people. Enslaved people do not cooperate, they obey.]. . Comité d'Agitació i Propaganda Poster, 2 colors; 102 x 71 cm.

In this image, three individuals support a globe, bearing the word "cooperation." The intent is to give the impression that none of the individuals could support the globe on their own. The image provides a graphic representation of the posters message about cooperation. Yet, the text goes beyond a mere endorsement of cooperation to suggest that, in the absence of cooperation, there exist only those who obey. The choice of the term "obey" may have been intentional to bring about associations with fascism as a form of governance that enslaves its population.

In addition to the general theme of cooperation required when mobilizing an entire population for a war effort, this poster most likely refers to the collectivization of industry by the various communist, anarchist and socialist groups in Republican Spain. It is significant that the poster is written in Catalan. Cataluña was one of the regions to vigorously embrace collectivization during the Spanish Civil War. After the military uprising of July 19th was quashed in Barcelona, the city came under proletarian control and the direction of the Confederación Nacional de Trabajadores (CNT). Ultimately, this situation resulted in the promulgation of the Generalitat's Collectivization and Worker's Decree on October 24, 1936. This development was unique in the Barcelona was the only regional of Republican Spain to give legal status to collectivities. Undoubtedly, the theme of cooperation was useful in terms of expressing the aspirations of those who wanted to reform the labor system in Republican Spain as well as those who simply wanted a cooperative effort from the population as a whole in the service of the war effort.

The artist of the poster is unknown.

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