Guide Ecologia viscuda (Catalan Edition)

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Jaume Terradas

Federico Arcos also responded generously to a few too many questions and gave me a copy of the unpublished memoirs of his friend and comrade Jose Peirats. When I started my research on the Spanish anarchist movement in its Barcelona stronghold, I was more interested in social movements themselves than place. Today, after what proved to be an unexpected journey of spatial discovery, the opposite is true. My family has also been a great source of support and encouragement over the years. Finally, I owe perhaps the biggest debt to Bea: her critical gaze improved the manuscript, while her unfailing support and spirit of optimism helped me to bring this project to a conclusion.

Although all the aforementioned have improved this book, it goes without saying that any errors or misjudgements contained within are my own. My central concern is with the interlocking and complementary areas of space, culture, protest and repression. Barcelona, the capital of Europe's biggest and most enduring anarchist movement, is an ideal laboratory for the study of these phenomena. During the period under analysis, this Mediterranean city was at the centre of economic, social, cultural and political activity and conflict in Spain as the most important actors and institutions in Spanish politics the state, the working class, the Catalan industrial bourgeoisie, the professional middle classes, the CNT Confederation Nacional del Trabajo, or National Confederation of Labour and others vied with one another for control of the city.

My study has been inspired by the Thompsonian tradition of writing history 'from below', an approach that has had an enduring influence on social history inside and outside universities throughout Europe. Writing in , Jose Luis Oyon lamented the absence of social perspectives on the city in Spanish historiography, which he took as 'an indicator of the infancy of urban historical research in Spain'. Chapter 1 explores Barcelona's economic, political and urban development from the middle of the nineteenth century into a highly contested space, and how this transformed the elite's previously Utopian view of the city into a dystopian nightmare.

The second chapter examines the growth of a working-class city, spatially and socially delineated by Barcelona's proletarian neighbourhoods barris , assessing the everyday life of workers and their collective cultural, social and organisational responses to the deficiencies of the capitalist city up until the late s. A key concern here is the expansion of a workers' public sphere inspired by anarchists and anarcho-syndicalists, which gave rise to the CNT, the largest revolutionary syndicalist trade union in the history of Europe.

Chapter 3 details the birth and evolution of the Spanish Second Republic in Barcelona. The focus here is on the creation of a 'republic of order' to repress any initiatives from below to strengthen the power of the proletarian city and end the social exclusion inherited from the monarchy.

This chapter is a radical rejoinder to liberal historians, who view the Second Republic through the prism of the long winter of Francoist repression, and it challenges the depiction of the Republic as a golden era of liberalism in twentieth-century Spain. Chapter 5 focuses on non- industrial working-class struggles: rent strikes, jobless conflicts and the broad gamut of unemployed street politics, including theft and shoplifting, which James Scott has aptly described as 'small arms fire in the class war'.

In Chapter 6, 1 analyse the anti-republican insurrections of and the split within the CNT as the radical anarchists sought to marginalise their critics inside the labour movement.

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This is followed by an appraisal of the 'militarisation' of CNT struggles as paramilitary groups became deeply involved in industrial conflicts and funded the union movement through armed expropriations and bank robberies. Hitherto, these expropriations have either been ignored by historians sympathetic to the libertarians 9 or simply denounced by right-wing historians as proof of the essentially 'criminal' nature of the anarchist movement. Since the radical position was in tune with the vox populi, they were able to preserve their influence in the barris.

Table of contents

The latter part of this chapter explores the orientation of the CNT in the period up until the start of the Spanish Civil War. Finally, Chapter 8 examines the urban revolution in Barcelona at the start of the civil war, its political limitations, and the process whereby the revolution was contained by republicans and their Stalinist allies. This urban vision was nourished by the unalloyed idealism of planners and architects, who postulated that the demolition of the city walls and urban growth would bring unfettered progress, which would maximise the prosperity of all its denizens.

This would be achieved through the construction of an Eixample Extension , which, for Cerda, would become the core of a new socially inclusive, inter-class, functional city in which people from all walks of life would interact amid a new equality and civic unity.

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The subordination of the urbanisation process to the narrow interests of the local bourgeoisie and landowners ensured that Cerda' s egalitarian goals were a chimera. First, the Ciutat Vella landlords a term that dignifies those who were often little more than 'slumlords' mobilised successfully against Cerda' s urban renewal programme, just as they mobilised against every subsequent reformist urban project. Although some of the old inner-city slums were sacrificed for the construction of Les Rambles, a central thoroughfare and the new vertebral column of the city, connecting the port with the Eixample, housing renewal in the overcrowded city centre was thwarted.

Second, capital shortages and an investment crisis hindered the creation of the Eixample; effectively, Class, culture and conflict in barcelona 2 unregulated markets, property speculation and corruption combined to distort beyond recognition the construction of what Cerda had envisaged as a rational urban space. Whereas the Parisian bourgeoisie, in close alliance with the French state, successfully implemented the Hausmann Plan and thus reshaped Paris in a way that reaffirmed the hegemonic position of capitalist interests, 7 the urban capitalist development of Barcelona was, from its origins, a marginal industrialisation process that underscored the weaknesses of local industrialists.

While Catalonia's relatively dynamic and prosperous agrarian economy had laid the basis for industrial take-off in the early part of the nineteenth century, capital accumulation and the development of finance capital were subsequently retarded by the context of the combined and uneven development of the Spanish economy and the weak internal market provided by the vast unreformed agricultural heartland of the south and central regions of Spain. For the most part dominated by the agrarian elite, the Madrid- based state was invariably aloof from, if not hostile to, the modernisation process occurring largely in Spain's periphery.

Nevertheless, the Madrid-based state could offer the Catalan bourgeoisie a degree of stability, at least during the early years of the Restoration, when most of Barcelona's employers uncritically accepted the hegemony of the central state, a number of them serving as the local representatives for the Spanish Conservative and Liberal parties, the 'dynastic parties' that alternated in power in Madrid.

For Barcelona's industrialists, this was an economic disaster as it signalled the end of their access to lucrative protected overseas markets. For growing numbers of employers, the inability of the Spanish state to find a new 'place in the sun' for Catalan exports — and the absence of any coherent industrial policy per se — enhanced the feelings of isolation towards a distant central state that was increasingly accused of pampering the unproductive southern landowners to the detriment of modern capitalist economic interests.

These sentiments crystallised around the bourgeois nationalist project of the Lliga Regionalista Regionalist League. Formed in , the Lliga was the first modern bourgeois political party in Spain, and its new style of populist mass politics established a broad middle- class base that quickly broke the power — in Catalonia at least — of the clientelist political machines that had hitherto plugged into the corrupt central state. In this way, the Lliga hoped to found a new focus for bourgeois urbanising energies and convert Barcelona into a city of capital.

According to La Veu de Catalunya, the Lliga press organ: The making of a divided city 3 Barcelona is, for us, an extraordinary city, the unrivalled city, the city par excellence, the capital, the complete city, the point of radiation for all the trends in national life, whether economic or political, [the] fundamental organ of the people.

Paying lip service to Cerda's Utopian view of urbanisation as an integrating, civilising force that would nullify social conflict, these thinkers were enthralled by the prospect of urban-industrial expansion, giving little consideration to the implications of city growth for social fragmentation and conflict. In short, the local capitalists represented by the Lliga envisioned Barcelona and Catalonia as a bourgeois space, free of 'Spanish' feudal-agrarian residues, a goal that explains their advocacy of total economic and urban expansion.

When, after the local elections, the dynastic parties lost political control in the city, the Lliga had an opportunity to mobilise municipal resources behind a programme of bourgeois urbanism, not least because the other main anti-dynastic political force of the day, the demagogic and populist Partido Republicano Radical Radical Republican Party, popularly known as the Radicals also advocated a reformist urban project.

Notwithstanding formal political differences, which occasioned an often fierce rivalry between the conservative-Catalanist Lliga and the procentralist Radicals, both parties sought to use local institutions to foster urban growth, which was widely identified with social progress.

The limited fiscal powers of local institutions ensured that the blueprints for the transformation of Barcelona's urban morphology devised by bourgeois planners remained on the drawing board.

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Jaume Terradas Serra

After the 'Disaster' and the ensuing economic crisis, a series of shortcomings were thrown into sharp relief: the historical under-capitalisation and limited profitability of industry; the relatively small-scale nature of production, which also shaped the development of newer industries like metallurgy and transport; 23 the frailty of indigenous financial institutions; the poor international competitiveness of exports; the domination of foreign capital in the most advanced industries; and the restricted domestic market within a context of combined and uneven development.

However, there were no such barriers to urban population growth. Between and , as the city's frontiers were swollen by the annexation and industrialisation of previously independent villages such as Gratia, Sants and Sant Marti, the population increased by over percent, only to double again between and In order to increase the supply of labour, employers promoted migration among Spain's rural dispossessed, stimulating an exodus of hungry economic migrants from depressed agrarian areas, who arrived in 'the Catalan California' in their droves.

While migrants invariably performed the most menial and badly remunerated jobs, the belief that Barcelona offered a possible escape from the structural unemployment of a subsistence agricultural system was enough to ensure a steady flow of economic refugees, and by the late s around 35 percent of the urban population was non-Catalan. While all rapidly expanding capitalist cities display signs of such a crisis, 29 the nature and scale of this crisis was shaped by a series of local economic and political factors.

At an economic level, we must again mention Spain's uneven economic development.


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Simply put, the outmoded agrarian system in the south and the low profit margins of Catalan industry constituted an inadequate basis for funding a modern welfare state. In addition, municipal corruption stymied the effective deployment of the limited funds available to local state institutions, thereby compounding the crisis of urban administration.

Church schools relied on violence and fear in an effort to instil obedience and respect in working-class children. So great was the scale of punishment and humiliation inflicted on children in these schools that one former pupil labelled them 'the prison-schools'. Although the Ley de Casas Baratas Public Housing Act committed local authorities to work with private capital to provide low-rent accommodation, by housing had been built for only families.

Yet more crucial was the fragmentation of Barcelona's under-capitalised construction companies, which, divided into an array of small firms, met no more than two-thirds of total market demand for housing after World War One. According to Nick Rider, landlords engaged in 'constant speculation and rack-renting in working-class housing', with rents increasing by between 50 and percent during the s alone. The problem of subdivision was particularly endemic in the already overcrowded tenement blocks of the Raval, the most built-up area of the Ciutat Vella: in , the number of residents per building there was twice the city average, while the population density was almost ten times greater.

Depending on the weather and the prospects for casual labour, the homeless might sleep rough or rent cheap rooms in the pensiones bed-and-breakfasts or casas de dormir doss houses , where beds were available on daily or hourly rates. These low-budget options abounded in the Raval, especially near the port area. Lacking all basic amenities, including toilets, electricity and water, barracas were highly unstable structures, vulnerable to the extremes of heat and rain and occasionally collapsing during inclement weather. Yet the shanty dwellers did not necessarily occupy a marginal position within the labour market — the first barracas were constructed in the s on the public beach in Poblenou, then the centre of Barcelona's industry, to accommodate migrant workers.