02 Nov 2010
CNT celebrates a 100 years of existence. It’s the centennial of a people and the invaluable fights of thousands of people who during these 100 years have given the international working class an exemplary tool to be followed, through its own culture, self organizing capacity, radical tactics, popular extension and revolutionary actions with the aim of building an anti-authoritarian and mutually supportive society.
On November 1, 1910, in the Fine Arts Center of Barcelona, the CNT – Confederación Nacional de Trabajo in Spanish or the National Confederation of Labor – was founded. This organization, successor to the Spanish chapter of the 1st International (1870), was born in the workers movement as the first independent union organization in Spain.
Adopting the internationalist theme of “the emancipation of the workers will be the undertaking of the workers themselves, or will fail,” CNT held in safekeeping popular rebellion which, as a undercurrent of society itself, opposes Power throughout history. This popular feeling emerges triumphal at times throughout history, from the Egyptian Middle Empire to the French Revolution, planting the seeds for the only historical events where humanity has made giant strides in gains of liberty, justice, equality, dignity and progress.
CNT began its anarcho-syndicalists activity making the simple decision to create a labor organization that was independent of political, religious and economic powers, this being an indispensable condition to improving the lives of the workers until exploitation was ended once and for all. In just a few years, the Confederation brought together most of the labor movement, achieving important social and economic improvements that are a legacy of incalculable value to today’s society.
The 8-hour working day, the 36-hour week, the prohibition of child labor, the equality of women and the application of the values of solidarity, federalism, environmentalism, feminism, free love, anti-militarism and atheism, among others, now back in fashion, are all part of this legacy, one that reached its apex during the Social Revolution of 1936, when the utopia – libertarian communism – became an everyday reality for all the people in the freed territories.
International capitalism reacted immediately and gave Franco’s fascist army free rein to turn this revolutionary dream into a nightmare for thousands of people persecuted, assassinated and disappeared after the coup was victorious in 1939. Not one of the guilty parties – all identifiable, all active politicians – who formed part of that regime of terror, one of the most criminal in history, was publicly denounced. For this disgraceful situation we can thank the pact of impunity with the Franco regime that the national democratic left (the socialist – PSOE – and communist – PCE – parties, and major unions – UGT and CCOO) signed to surrender to capital, known as the “Spanish transition” (1977).
Despite everything, the people continued to defend the simple principles of anarcho-syndicalism, many times at the cost of their lives: independence, autonomy, federalism, self-management, assembly, mutual aid and direct action; the right to organize ourselves to reject any interference from political parties or other economic or religious institutions workers matters. Strikes, marches, repression and torture were the daily news during the dictatorship (1939-1976), until, with its disappearance, the workers movement recovered its enthusiasm and regenerated its yearned-for CNT (1977). We lived new years of continuous achievements for the workingmen. The days of Montjuich or in San Sebastián de los Reyes marked the strong comeback of the confederation in the 70s.
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The labor movement’s advances, once again self organized by CNT through exemplary battles like the gas station workers strike of 1978, provoked capitalism’s reaction, this time backed by the democratic state and its institutional apparatus (governments, parties, judges, union bureaucracies,…). CNT’s union success was repressed by the police (Scala Case, 1978) which, combined with campaigns of silence and slander in the media, had disastrous consequences for the workers movement in this country.
The weakening of anarcho-syndicalist presence in the labor movement opened the door to the loss of rights won after a long and hard union battle. State deregulation and increased job insecurity by liberalizing contracts was ushered in by the worst sort of corruption a country can suffer: Union Corruption. A corruption with an official rag stuffed in its mouth that perverts unionism as a whole in the eyes of the workers but which is fundamentally lead by the institutional unions – CC.OO. and UGT. Their union yuppies earn subsidies and millions of euros from the government and different companies to pay for their treachery to accept the measures seen fit to defend capital and its growing accumulation of profits (Labor Force Adjustment Plans, Labor Reforms, the right to unilaterally terminate the employment relationship…).
Thousands of working men and women today are still members of this true labor organization we call CNT, sustaining it exclusively with our own work, turning it into the only living example of class unionism, able to take on oppression and social control, the destruction of the planet and economic over-exploitation, all inherent to capitalism.
2010 has a special connotation for us: CNT celebrates a 100 years of existence. It’s the centennial of a people and the invaluable fights of thousands of people who during these 100 years have given the international working class an exemplary tool to be followed, through its own culture, self organizing capacity, radical tactics, popular extension and revolutionary actions with the aim of building an anti-authoritarian and mutually supportive society.
These ideals are the basis of the noble cause we invite you, here and now, to join.