We want to begin this statement by mentioning the fact that unions Albacete, Alcoy, Elda, La Marina Alta, La Plana, La Safor and Sagunto, which form the Regional Federation of Levante CNT-AIT, were excluded (“desfederados”)from the Confederation last year by the yellow CNT (we’ll call it plain CNT, without -AIT); in the removal process, the organic rules of the CNT were much more severely broken compared to the alleged breaches which were the theorical reasons to exclude us from the Confederation. We will not enter in this statement to analyze the unjust and illegitimate “desfederation” to which we were subjected. We juat want to point out that, at the time of the “desfederation”, our Regional chose not to make any public statement.
However, we cannot remain silent and indifferent to the last statement that the CNT has published on its official website cynically call “In Defense of AIT”, as this statement insults, slanders and publicly attacks the AIT, the International Workers’ Association, to which morally we have always belonged and still belong. We want to respond to that statement which offends not only the members of the IWA but the anarcosindicalism in general, since the CNT today, sadly, is no longer anarcosindicalist.
First, we find it unacceptable such a statement that libels the IWA insinuating that it consists of several groups “with very little commitment to union work in their territory and that, to the contrary, they do enormous efforts to monitor the activities of other sections that make of this area their priority. ” The context of the anarcho-syndicalists AIT fellows in other countries is radically different from Spain, not only by repression or legal conditions, but also due to previous development of the anarcho-syndicalist movement in these regions.
In Spain, when the CNT-AIT applied for legalization in the late 70s, the initial membership of the Confederation was about 200,000 companions. Today, the number of members of the CNT in the country does not reach five figures. We understand that in Spain there have also been difficulties in all this time, but that makes it no less ridiculous that an organization that has lost more than 95% of its membership in recent decades assumes the right to criticize other sections that did not have that starting point and had to start from scratch, accusing them of “little dedication to union work”; which is false, as can simply be seen by keeping up with the IWA reports (which CNT prevents to reach the militancy) and realize the enormous work being carried out. The IWA has been making contacts all over the world to create new sections and strengthen existing ones in countries such as Australia, Singapore, Indonesia, Bulgaria, Netherlands, Honk Kong, Taiwan, etc. The AIT is working to extend the revolutionary trade union action around the world, and to say otherwise is simply lying.
Regarding the trade union work of the CNT in Spain, “fully dedicated to get a greater presence and relevance in its territory, trying strategies, developing work conflicts and having an impact”, it is not only a failure, but a stepping out of the way of its anarchosindicalists principles, and though they even dare to give lessons to others with their unfortunate example … it is worth remembering that the CNT has signed agreements with CCOO and UGT, with all that they entail; and is proud of the agreement signed in Extractions Levante, despite that it includes the acceptance of a joint commission for conciliation between employer and employees, the type of “juries”and joint committees of the dictatorship of Primo de Rivera.
It is also curious that the CNT criticize some sections supposedly “inquisitorially monitor the activities of others”, when, for several years, it is carrying out a purge to get rid of unions that do not conform to all the atrocities and corruption that are happening within the Confederation. In their eagerness to expel these comrades, they do not hesitate to scrutinize what the remaining unruly CNT unions, to come out with some excuse in order to exclude them from the Confederation. In Andalusia, some companions in particular are very closely monitored, and even two unions were excluded for organizing joint actions with other unions previously excluded (“desfederados”). And in Galicia they even forcibly entered the email of one of the Galician unions excluded. Who is acting inquisitorially?
It is quite striking that in the public statement to which we are responding, it is said that “it is not in any event large or small sections” and that being “larger or smaller, doesn´t matter.” We mentioned before the expulsion of two Andalusian unions for maintaining contacts with other unions previously expelled. It must be underlined that initially there were four unions which acted so, and the expulsion of said four was raised, but eventually two were “pardoned”, and the reason for it (and thus appears officially written) was that these two unions had more affiliation.
But it is still more important to remark that in recent years the CNT has taken a series of measures with the aim of favoring unions with more affiliation (irrespective of their activity) and harm the unions with little affiliation. In the X Congress, the voting system was changed in the sense that unions with many affiliates have full power of decision in the regional and confederal plenary sessions. The XI Congress agreed that the minimum to establish a CNT union rose from 5 to 15 people. Besides that, this yellow CNT tried to implement a new voting system in the IWA, so that something similar will result. We will come back to this matter later. The fact is that in the CNT, despite that they say the opposite, there are more valued larger unions at the expense of small ones, disregarding of their activity or implantation, without taking into consideration the diverse territorial realities, with the result of a centralized organization that promotes large cities ignoring the rest. There are unions in the CNT mentioned as examples for having 180 members, but, yes, paying religiously through the bank their membership fees (we like to remark that money means votes for them and that membership in a big city does necessarily mean a great implantation) and having won a couple of magnified successes in a few work conflicts, but the fact is that to their assemblies got a dozen people at best.
They speak in the CNT of “ideological control”, issue that should not even be mentioned if they had an ounce of shame. In the last few years there has been in the CNT an ideological drift from anarcho-syndicalist type of organization and it is flooded with approaches and proposals closer to social democracy that to libertarian principles that once were its own. As mentioned above, they are not few the unions which have tried to oppose such reformist drift. The consequence has been a purge that has already cost down twenty unions of the Confederation, many expelled and others who have decided to leave on their own feet. Probably more will do the same in the future, as the ideological persecution against all those who do not like the new idiosyncrasies of the CNT will go on.
It was precisely the CNT that intentionally brought this conflict to international level. The CNT has made many efforts trying to spread to other IWA sections its possibilistic drift to which our principles are a burden. It must be stated that in the IWA it has always been considered that the core of the International is the Section, not the membership count, because it is considered that the idea that the basis of a process of collective decision making to be the individual affiliate implies a bourgeois and individualistic conception of representative democracy that has nothing to do with federalism, in which the base is the assembly, not the individual. For this reason, all sections of the IWA have just one vote regardless of their number of affiliates. Thanks to this voting system, which in the mentioned statement of the CNT is described as “peculiar”, the CNT was unable to spread their corruption to the rest of the AIT, as just two other IWA sections were inclined to this approach. Since they could not gain ideological control of the IWA through the votes, they tried to change the voting system to gain power of decision-making. This, which they were able to do within the CNT itself in the X Congress, didn´t work in the case of IWA. That was, and no other, the real reason why now they propose to “refound” a parallel IWA, as they cannot exert ideological control over it through votes. To continue, the CNT statement asserts that “because of these contradictions, an important internal crisis was being forged and that erupted with the expulsion of the German section, the FAU”. This section, which had been violating systematically the IWA agreements for over ten years, was already excluded as a precautionary measure in the XXII Congress of the IWA, held in Granada in December 2004. And yet, the FAU was never It expelled from the IWA, because as of now is only temporarily suspended. So the CNT is lying when he saying that the FAU has been expelled, and clearly justifies its own anti-federalist attitude.
We also want to point out something that the public statement of CNT do not mention, that is the fact that, after seeing that they could not control the IWA by rallying the sections to its proposals, they then decided to stop paying membership fees to the International. It was argued that the IWA meant a terrible economic burden for the CNT. It is quite inconsistent to argue such a thing and defending at the same time the existence of a Confederal Technical Office (CTC), which not only means that the CNT acts as a firm contradicting the principle of direct action, but involves also an economic drain for all unions, will it or not (the payment of part of the fee for the GTC is imperative) despite of being absolutely unnecessary. It has also been outrageously squandered money on advertising with videos whose production has cost around € 6000, when industry professionals say the same video could had been done with a budget six times less. Not to mention the scandal that has led to the absence of finance reports for several years despite the complaints of many unions, and the subsequent discovery that the former Permanent Secretariat of the Confederal Committee of the CNT had stolen a quantity of five figures Heritage funds. Paradoxically, despite all the above, in the CNT not only they have expressed concern about the alleged economic burden posed by the AIT, but also expelled several unions of Galicia for not paying the fees. The debt of one of these unions did not reach even 500 €. All this is very contradictory with the waste of money done in the CNT in recent years, the examples above are just part of it. But we want to point out the fact that the CNT has not allowed that some unions delayed payment of their fees, but at the same time refuses to pay its fees to IWA. If the CNT expels unions which do not pay their fees, how can have the nerve not to pay theirs to the IWA?
To top all contradictions, the decision taken by the CNT is not to leave the IWA. We speak of a CNT repeating again and again to the critic unions that if they did not like decisions that were being taken, they could leave whenever they want; but that if they stay in the CNT they should accept the agreements of plenary sessions and Congresses. Ironically, now the CNT, instead of leaving the AIT, chooses to boycott it economically and attempts to create an IWA spitting image of itself, which reminds us of some bearded authoritarian who conspired against the first international in the late nineteenth. For this CNT Marxism fells short and must add a good dose of Machiavellianism to their premeditation.
This insulting purpose of “refounding” had another precedent that cannot go unnoticed: The XXV Congress of the IWA was held in Valencia in December 2013. In it, the union itself of Valencia, the main protagonist of the inorganic process of the exclusion (”desfederación”) of the Regional Levante CNT-AIT, together with the kleptomaniac who was then CNT´s Secretary General, organizers both of the Congress, incurred a number of gross “irregularities”. According to the IWA´s Secretariat report dated 19/08/2013 and distributed 26/08/2013, among other niceties, the organizers of the Congress threatened the IWA delegates in order to prevent their participation and seized congressional documentation.
We are facing an attack emanated from the last Congress of the CNT, which is proper an attack and an attempt of usurpation of the IWA, because apart from stop paying the fees, among other gems, slanders the IWA and establishes the form of supplanting it by creating a parallel organization. It is unacceptable that a member section publicly denounces the organization which supposedly belongs to. It would be a blatant act of unfair and unseemly informality. With this agreement, the CNT has obviously placed itself aside the IWA. The IWA at its next Congress can simply report the self-exclusion of CNT, since for practical purposes and theoretical, you cannot expel an entity that is not a member of an association.
From the Regional Levante CNT-AIT (IWA) we defend without reserve the role of the IWA as a tool to spread universally the struggle for the emancipation of the working class and applaud all the work done by its members worldwide. We are confident that this work will bear fruit, if we know how to fight the possibilism and the internal conflicts always associated with it. We also denounce the manipulation and attempts to discredit the IWA that the CNT is conducting; and we encourage the IWA sections to take steps to fight against these attacks. The CNT is no longer anarcho-syndicalist, and therefore has no place in the IWA.
Finally, we urge anarcho-syndicalist fellows of the Spanish State, in and out of the CNT, to organize themselves and take steps to restructure the CNT-AIT so that the International does not lose its presence in the Peninsula, and at the same time give anarcho-syndicalism presence and strength in this country, defending it from trends that have now taken possession of the organization and are totally opposed to the principles, purposes and anarcho-syndicalist tactics that always characterized the CNT-AIT.
We will not let them keep fooling anyone.
For libertarian communism, long live the CNT-AIT!