Lessons of Spain, by Leon Trotsky

Lessons of Spain, by Leon Trotsky

Printed by Jolly George Press, 28 pages. A5 size booklet (N4287)

In December 1937 the Spanish Civil War was raging, as the legitimate government of Spain and it's supporters were embroiled in a bitter and bloody struggle against the military uprising of Franco and the fascists. An international policy of non-intervention was strangling the Spanish Government's attempts to fight off the rebellion, whilst Nazi Germany and fascist Italy continued to supply weapons, tanks, planes and soldiers to Franco. In addition, there were internal disagreements within the republican government and it's supporters, and it was at this time that Trotsky drafted an article on the situation in Spain.

In this article Trotsky argues that it was the policies of the 'Popular Front' government (which he called the 'People's Front') that had fatally weakened the fight against Franco and the fascists, and that the compromises that a Popular front strategy demanded - namely accomodation with bourgeoisie interests and the suspension of any revolutionary programme, that was undermining the left's fight against fascism and dooming it to ultimate failure.

In this article Trotsky also writes about the very real differences that existed among the left - castigating the anarcho-syndicalist leadership for a failed and dead ideology that lacked principles and courage, and criticing the sectarian policies employed by the POUM (Indeed, Trotsky suggests that ultimately the POUM proved to be an obstacle to the creation of a truly revolutionary party, a party that was vital for the promotion of socialist revolution in Spain). Trotsky also outlines the corrupt and treacherous role of Stalin, the USSR and the Comintern in strangling any real revolution, and instead using the promise of Russian weapons and support in order to strengthen and bolster the 'People's Front' in Spain, as part of wider Soviet foreign policy elsewhere in Europe.

This essay was first published in Britain by the Workers International League in 1938, and whilst it only offers one interpretation of the events in Spain during the Civil War, it is a useful document for anybody interested in the conflict, and the political dynamics that were involved at that time.

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