1937 Manifesto & Policy of the POUM during the Barcelona May Days
Manifesto of the POUM During the Barcelona May Days
This proclamation appeared in the pages of La Batalla on Tuesday, 4 May l937 at the height of the Barcelona street fighting. JVhilst claiming that ‘the working class is strong and will know how to crush all attempts at counter-revolution’, i1 says nothing about what should actually be done about the Stalinists who were responsible for them. or about the central and regional governments on whose behalf they were organised.
The working class faces the attack of the counter-revolution. The counter-revolution has a plan. The reformists of the PSUC have called it the ‘Victory Plan’. The latest events are stages of this plan. Attempts to seize Puigcerda by the police force, an attempt to seize the city of Figueras, a punitive expedition to Molins de Llobregat. Disarming of workers in the street and yesterday evening an armed assault on the telephone building in the square of Calalunya. Counter-revolutionary provocations to test the working class’s capacity for resistance. Preparations for an attack on the basic conquests of the revolution.
But the working class response couldn’t have been stronger. Thousands of workers have taken to the street, arms in hand. Factories, workshops, stores, have stopped work. The barricades of freedom have reappeared all over the city. The spirit of 19 July 1936 has emerged with renewed strength in Barcelona. The majority of the towns of Catalonia have responded to the capital’s gesture. The working class is strong and will know how to crush all attempts at counter-revolution.
We have to remain alert with gun in hand. We have to maintain this magnificent spirit of resistance and of struggle, the guarantee of our triumph, and we have to make sure that the counter-revolution never raises its head again.
Tberefore we demand:
The resignation of Rodriguez Salas, Commissioner of Public Order who is directly responsible for the provocations.
Abolition of the public order decrees.
Public order in the hands of the working class.
A revolutionary workers’ front of the organisations which fight for triumph over fascism at the front and victory of the revolution in the rear.
The creation of Committees for the Defence of the Revolution in all the districts, towns and places of work.
Executive committee of the POUM.
Executive committee of JIC.
Published in La Batalla on 13 May 1937.
The enlarged central committee of the POUM meeting in Barcelona on 11 and 12 May, after examining the revolutionary events which occurred in Barcelona, studying the present situation, and the perspectives and experiences derived from them, unanimously adopted the following resolution:
- The constant provocations of the counter-revolution embodied in reformist parties of the PSUC and of the petty bourgeoisie, provocations that in the fields of the war, the economy and of public order tend to liquidate the revolutionary conquests gained by the working class on the 19 July, arms in hand, which culminated on the 3 May with the attempt to seize the telephone buildings, produced the working class’s armed protest.
- The POUM’s political position cannot be other than active solidarity with the workers who spontaneously declared a general strike, raised the barricades in Barcelona’s streets and with exemplary heroism knew how to defend the endangered revolutionary conquests.
- As the workers who fought in the streets lack concrete objectives and a responsible leadership, the POUM is unable to do more than order and organise a strategic retreat, persuading the revolutionary working class of the need for this and preventing a desperate action which could degenerate into a putsch and which would result in the total crushing of the most advanced part of the working class.
- The experience of the May Days demonstrates unequivocally that the only progressive way out of the present situation is for the working class to take power, and for this it is essential to coordinate the revolutionary action of the masses by the creation of a Workers’ Revolutionary Front that unites all the organisations which intend to fight for the total crushing of fascism which can be achieved only by a military victory on the fronts and by the victory of the revolution in the rear. The enlarged Central Committee considers that the political line followed by the party during the events has been entirely correct and it solidarises with the executive committee, convinced that it knew how to defend the interests of the revolution and of the mass of workers.
- Testigo en Barcelona, Orwell (1937)
POUM House in july 36