Imagining/Creating Autonomy: Abraham Guillén

The struggle to imagine and put into place an autonomous, self-managed society is at the heart of anarchism, and for anarchists, something that is present in any revolutionary politics, whether of the past or the present.  During the spanish revolution of 1936-39, some of the most noteworthy examples of such efforts were made.  One of the most important spanish writiers on the subject was Abraham Guillén (1913-1993).  Guillén's activism would take him from the spanish revolution to numerous struggles in south america and his intellectual concern with autonomy, reflecting his militancy, would be expressed in work from anarchist economics to armed revolution.  And with the imperative of autonomy again before us in new social movements contesting Capital and the State, it is important to return to the work of Guillén.

His views are summarised in the Decalogue of Self-Management (what follows is a translation to english and the original spanish version) …

1. Self-Management: do not delegate popular power. 2. Autonomy of initiatives: unite the whole and its' parts in a federated socialism. 3. Federation of the organs of self-management: Socialism should not be chaotic; it is rather the coherent unity of the whole and its’ parts, of the region and the nation. 4. Direct action: anti-capitalist, anti-bureacratic, so that the people is the active subject of history, through direct democracy. 5. Coordinated self-defense: before totalitarian bureaucracy and an imperialist bourgeoisie, defense of freedom and self-managed socialism, made known through propaganda of deeds and not rhetoric.  6. Cooperation in agriculture and the self-management of the city: agriculture is susceptible to self-management, a model for which may be the agro-industrial cooperative.  In the city, industries and services should be self-managed; but their administration should be made up of the producers, without the mediation of a ruling class.  7. Unionisation of production: unionised labour should be converted into associated work with its means of production, without a ruling adminisitrative bureaucracy or bourgeoisie. 8. All power to the assemblies: no one should decide for the people nor usurp its role with the professionalisation of politics; the delegation of powers should be neither permanent nor bureaucratic; it should be comprised of persons who are eligible and revocable at any moment.  9. No delegation of politics: no parties, vanguards, elites, leaders, directors; soviet bureaucracy killed the spontaneity of the masses, their creative capacity, their revolutionary action, until it converted them into a passive people: a docile instrument of the power “elites”.  10. Socialisation and not nationalisation of wealth: to give the role of historical protagonist to the labour unions, cooperatives, self-managed local organisations, popular organisations, mutual societies, associations of different kinds, local, city, regional self-administration or self-government and federal, national, continental or global co-government.

The proletariat, if it continues to be manipulated by bureaucratic communists, it will not fulfill its’ historical role of emancipating all social classes, as the bureaucracy will thereby constitute itself as the new dominant class if the producers do not exercise fully their own power through organs of direct democracy; if the people delegate their historical mission and politics to the bureaucracy, it will be nothing; it will not become historical as occurred with slaves and serfs, for not having removed from power the class of its masters or feudal lords.

Abrahan Guillén


Decálogo de la autogestión.

1. Autogestión: no delegar el poder popular. 2. Autonomía de las iniciativas: unir el todo y las partes en un socialismo federativo. 3. Federación de los organismos autogestionarios. El socialismo no debe ser caótico, sino unidad coherente del todo y sus partes, de la región y la nación. 4. Acción directa: anticapitalismo, anti-burocratismo, para que el pueblo sea el sujeto activo de la historia, mediante la democracia directa. 5. Autodefensa coordinada: frente a la burocracia totalitaria y a la burguesía imperialista, defensa de la libertad y el socialismo autogestionario, difundido mediante la propaganda por los hechos no con actitudes retóricas. 6. Cooperación en el campo y autogestión en la ciudad: la agricultura se presta a una empresa autogestionaria, cuyo modelo puede ser el complejo agro-industrial cooperativo. En la ciudad, las industrias y los servicios deben ser autogestionados; pero sus consejos de administración han de estar constituidos por productores directos; sin ninguna mediación de clase dirigente. 7. Sindicalización de la producción: el trabajo sindicado debe convertirse en trabajo asociado con sus medios de producción, sin burocracia ni burguesía dirigiendo patronalmente las empresas. 8. Todo el poder a las asambleas: nadie debe decidir por el pueblo ni usurpar sus funciones con el profesionalismo de la política; la delegación de poderes no deberá ser permanente sino no burocrática, con personas elegibles y revocables por las asambleas en cualquier momento. 9. No delegar la política: nada de partidos, vanguardias, elites, dirigentes, conductoras; pues el burocratismo soviético ha matado la espontaneidad de las masas, su capacidad creativa, su acción revolucionaria, hasta convertirlas en un pueblo pasivo: dócil instrumento de las “elites” del Poder. 10. Socialización y no nacionalización de la riqueza: pasar el papel protagónico de la historia a los sindicatos, las cooperativas, las sociedades locales autogestoras, los organismos populares, las mutualistas, las asociaciones de todo tipo, las auto-administraciones o autogobiernos, locales, comarcales, regionales y co-gobierno federal, nacional, continental o mundial.

El proletariado, si sigue manipulado por comunistas burocráticos, no cumplirá su papel histórico de emancipar a todas las clases sociales, ya que la burocracia se constituiría así en la nueva clase dominante, si las productoras y productores no ejercen plenamente su auto-poder mediante órganos de democracia directa, si el pueblo delega su misión histórica y política en las burocracias, no será nada; no se historializará como ha sucedido con los esclavos y las siervas , por no haber desalojado de poder de clase a sus amos y señoras: feudales o patronas.

Abrahan Guillén

( offers two chapters of Guillén's Economia Libertaria in translation …

Interviews with Guillén, in spanish, from

Guillén on Sabate and revolution …



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