The Anarchist Collectives: Workers’ Self-Management in the Spanish Revolution, 1936–1939


80ème anniversaire de la Révolution espagnole

Livre en anglais édité en 1974, compilant notamment des textes d’Augustin Souchy et Gaston Leval, téléchargeable au format pdf (164 pages):

cliquer sur l’image pour ouvrir le pdf externe


The Spanish Social Revolution has been long neglected in English language works. Its importance as a revolutionary event and model, and as a concrete example of workers’ self-management by the people is just not recognized. My purpose in this collection is to provide an introduction to this unique experience. In my first chapter and friend Bookchin’s introductory essay, a general overview and context is presented. Most important, of course, is that this was a real experience for the people who took part. Through their words and deeds and the observations of the authors used in this collection, it is hoped that the reader will gain a meaningful understanding of the aims and organization of the anarchist collectives.

The material has been divided into two main sections. The first provides essential background information: the nature of the Spanish Revolution, the collectivist tradition, the development of the libertarian labor movement in Spain, and the historical events leading up to and then culminating in the destruction of the collectives.

The second, and main, section deals with the actual social revolution–the overall characteristics of agrarian collectivization and industrial socialization. It begins with a discussion about economic coordination, the place and nature of money in the collectives, and includes statistics on the number of collectives. It then deals with actual descriptions of life in the collectives, first under industrial socialization, and then in the rural collectives: how the new institutions were established, how they functioned, how production and distribution were handled; about coordination, exchange, relations between collectives, and between collectivized and non-collectivized areas. The book ends with a short evaluation of the anarchist collectives with some comments on their relevance and lessons.

The glossary, bibliography and appendices add to the overall usefulness of this volume. The photographs reproduced within begin to correct the visual bias that has left a plethora of war scenes but very little reflecting the constructive aspects of the Spanish Social Revolution. Most of the pictures are from contemporary sources held by the editor. I would like to thank Victor Berch, Special Collections Librarian at Brandeis University for permission to use the pictures on pages 104, 141, and 142.

The observers speaking in these selections visited the same regions and often the same collectives at different times within the short span of approximately two years. Since each observer stressed what seemed most important to him, their accounts supplement each other, thus providing a more balanced view of the new way of life than any single observer could have done. Under these circumstances, though, some repetition is inevitable. The translations I have made are strict to the meaning, but are not literal, for I have also been concerned with giving the spirit of the words, and with reducing repetitions.

Finally I would like to express my thanks to all the farsighted and brave people whose work I have used in putting together this collection. (A short biography on each is included in the bibliography.) Their efforts have immortalized a social experience of momentous importance. My object has been to present them to the English reader within a context that will be useful.


It is with the deepest appreciation that I acknowledge the contributions to the present work of the following persons:

My friend, Chuck Hamilton, for his tireless technical and editorial labors in turning a poorly typed manuscript into the finished book.

To my friend, Dr. Paul Avrich, for reading the manuscript and making valuable suggestions.

To my comrade, Murray Bookchin, who first encouraged me to undertake this project.

Last, but by no means least, my wife Esther who scrupulously examined the manuscript as it was being written and detected many errors.

Sam Dolgoff
New York City
January, 1974

“The first bus built in the workshops of the collectivized General Autobus Company.”

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