The conversations begun by Garrido, Pi i Margall and Salvochea, with Fourier, Proudhon and Kropotkin in the background, and even those of the foralismo involved in the defense of the commons it took on after the Mounierist self-management discussion, are still alive today. For those who know how to listen to them, they sound like a counterpoint, like a subtle rhythm, in the conversations and the voices of new luminaries.
Gerald Brenan describes in The Spanish Labirynth (1960) how cooperativism on the Iberian Peninsula is the product of the evolution of communal forms of property and labor to incorporate new productive technologies that emerged from the Industrial Revolution. The first modern Iberian cooperativism, he asserts, “…precedes the European co-operative movement [the Rochdale Pioneers] by at least sixty years.”
Within that evolution, the first “socialists” would appear, disciples of Fourier who would see in the adoption of industrial technology by communal organizations (the commons) the beginnings of a solution to the “social question.” One of the most famous would be Fernando Garrido, the driving force behind dozens of cooperatives and author of History of the Working Classes, which, in its final volume, passionately describes the expansion of cooperativism throughout the peninsula and its social effects.
They agreed on this (not as paradoxically as it might seem) with a sector of the Carlist clergy, which, especially in Euskadi [the Basque Country], Navarre, Aragon and Catalonia, was committed to the defense of the communal (the original commons) and to the confederal principle in the old fueros [charters]. This subset, long latent in Carlism, would end up transforming itself in the 1960s into organized Carlism as a socalist/self-management federalist party, inspired by Christianity and strongly influenced by Mounierism.
But peninsular federalist mutualism would radically defend the separation of church and state, and Garrido himself would have to go into exile on several occasions for defending the end of state financing of religious organizations, which, even today, remains a utopian dream under the constitutions of Spain and Portugal, but which Garrido would strongly defend in his capacity as Deputy in the process of writing the constitution of the First Spanish Republic, the federal republic, in 1873.
In 1868, Garrido had already written The Universal Federal Democratic Republic, picking up the torch from Proudhon‘s Du principe Fédératif, published five years earlier. It was a work that would influence Pi i Margall, a representative of the best federalist anarchism of that generation. Pi i Margal would eventually become President, and then have to resign shortly thereafter, due to the outbreak of the Cantonal Revolution.
Anarchist Cantonalism, especially in Cadiz, Seville, and Granada, would represent the leap from the generation brought up on Fourier and the old communalism to a new generation, whose best-known spokesperson was surely Fermín Salvochea. This new mutualist wave would look primarily to Proudhon, would take part in the founding of the First International, would lead the cantonal revolution, and would later be in communication with Kropotkin.
The timeliness of anarchist thought
The ideological perspectives of this anarchism (which knows how to be “reformist” at times), though they’re centered on constant cooperative activities more than on political action, and while they’re always cantonalist and confederal, are extraordinarily timely today.
- The defense of the federative principle has reappeared, in conjunction with the criticism of scale and discussion of the P2P Industrial Revolution, in Juan Urrutia’s works on confederalism.
- The very idea of cantonalist local autonomy based on alternative approaches to industrialization today takes the form of John Robb’s “resilient communities” and of P2P reindustrialization.
- In this context, and above all at that scale, a redefinition of the state has been proposed which prefigures, as Dronte notes, the idea of Michel Bauwen’s “partner state.”
- The cooperative vindication of the market and the assumption of the model of economic democracy based on cooperativism as business model has been progressively recovered and linked with the hacker view of cooperativism.
- And above all, the agrarian commons, the immaterial or industrial commons, are presented, then and now, as a public good, as the basic form of productive capital of the proposed social model.
No wonder both the new Iberian mutualism, which draws on Kevin Carson, and the radical and PiiMargallist tradition are rediscovering these authors. The conversations begun by Garrido, Pi i Margall and Salvochea, with Fourier, Proudhon and Kropotkin in the background, and even those of the foralismo involved in the defense of the commons it took on after the Mounierist self-management discussion, are still alive today. For those who know how to listen to them, they sound like a counterpoint, like a subtle rhythm, in the conversations and the voices of new luminaries.
Translated by Steve Herrick of interpreters.coop from the original (in Spanish)