Average Rating: 5
Chris Ealham brings to life the daily experience of the working class in Barcelona while drawing from an impressive range of subjects including urban studies and the control of public space, sociology and bourgeois moral panics, politics and social movements and historical analysis. After reading the prologue by Paul Preston I got the feeling that he might be guilty of hype buy this is a triumph. A particular strength of the work is that he doesn't do what many anarchist influenced historians are sometimes guilty of on Spain: the revolution failed because the communists were nasty and the fascists had lots of guns from Hitler and he is not overly judgemental of individuals making decisions in a situation they had never planned for (though he is not guilty of letting them off the hook either). Instead, while noting these points, he links his analysis with the inability/unwillingness of the CNT/FAI leadership to translate their power in the streets and solid working class base into political power independent of the bourgeois state. In light of this I thought he could have referred to the Friends of Durruti (see Agustin Guillamon's book) as their key goal seemed to be what he is arguing the anarchists should have done, but this is a relatively minor point. Its a shame that the anarchists who argued this patently obvious point are labelled negatively as anarcho bolsheviks, platformists or aurthoritarians and seen by some as seperate to mainstream anarchism. This is an exceptionally well written and meticulously documented work that is written in an accessible and readable style. All in all an exceptionally high quality read.
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