The composition of the current Autonomous Groups is based upon an old relationship in revolutionary activity, born from a practical intervention that was begun at the beginning of the 1970s, and that consists in aiding and participating in the social struggles that strive for class autonomy and the self-suppression of the proletariat, that is to say, the realization of an authentically communist society.

This relationship became intensified after the legalized assassination of Savladore Puig Antich by the Spanish State in March 1974.[1] The armed interventions in solidarity that took place before and after the assassination – as much in Spain as abroad – served as a unifying platform among the different autonomous groups and individuals. This platform then rose to a superior level of coordination that allowed us to respond to capital with greater efficiency and scope.

For us, it is obvious that fascism as well as democracy are two forms of dictatorship and exploitation of the proletariat by capital. As for the so-called “socialist” countries, they are nothing other than another variants (the bureaucratic type).

The practical interventions of the Autonomous Groups have been motivated by the existence of radical struggles in the modern social war between the proletariat and the entirety of capitalism’s defenders. They have not been limited to a partial and limited attack that aims to denounce some of the most flagrant aspects of the contradictions of the capitalist system; they attempt to be an everyday and global reponse to the totality of that system. These interventions have been concretized in the following deeds, among others: a series of bomb and Molotov cocktail attacks upon German firms between 1976 and 1977, in response to the State-inflicted “suicides” of several militants in the RAF, and against French firms, in Barcelona as well as in Madrid, following the extradition of Klaus Croissant.[2] The actions of 1977 were executed in coordination with autonomous French groups that intervened in France for the same reasons. Towards the middle of 1978, motivated by Giscard d’Estaing’s visit to Spain, a new series of attacks were executed in coordination with the French groups: in France, against Spanish firms, and in Barcelona and Valencia, against French firms. All these interventions were international revolutionary responses to capiatl's borderless repression.

Support for autonomous workers’ struggles: in Barcelona, in 1977, for the strikers at “Roca” and “Mateu-Mateu”; in Madrid, during the building strike of 1976; in the subways and at “Roca,” in 1976 and 1977, respectively; at the beginning of 1978, there was a new intervention in the subways against tariff increases. All this by means of attacks directed against the offices of the aforementioned firms, in response to the military intervention of the police against the assemblies and the subsequent dissolution of the workers’ organizations. In Barcelona, Valencia and Madrid, on the anniversaries of the assassination of Salvador Puig in 1975, 1976 and 1977: there were attacks and Molotov cocktails against banks and courthouses. In Madrid, in the spring of 1976, Molotov cocktails were directed against the banks, in response to the massacre at Vitoria. In response to the assassinations of Euskadi in the street, in the beginning of 1977, there were Molotov cocktails and massive commando attacks against the barracks of the Civilian Guard and the police stations.

As support for the struggle of the prisoners in Barcelona, Valencia and Madrid, all through 1977 and at the beginning of 1978, there were numerous attacks against courthouses, the Model Prison in Barcelona and diverse official buildings of the Ministry of Justice. To have access to the finances that are necessary for our type of struggle, we have had recourse to expropriations from banks and private companies, and counterfeiting, [thereby] attacking capital and directly reappropriating for ourselves, without intermediaries, a part of what we need. Some of us, currently in prison, claim responsibility for certain attacks and expropriations. The others identify themselves with and are in solidarity with the aforementioned actions and claims, although they have not participated in any of them, given the facts that the police and the judges accuse us without any proof, and that we have only admitted to them after having been savagely tortured.

Our actions don’t have the goal of imposing ourselves, like managers, upon the proletarians who defend themselves on their own by combating their alienation outside of the politio-unionist terrain (wildcat strikes, sovereign general assemblies). Around the middle of 1975, the autonomous movement of firms, neighborhoods and students posed the question of reconstructing the CNT and participating in it, thereby considering the anarcho-syndicalist structure and its capacity to unite revolutionary elements at the national level (all of Spain) to be valuable. With the death of Franco, the possibility of publicly uniting and associating together in political and syndicalist organizations – after 40 years of “Francoist” capitalist dictatorship – was opened up for the revolutionary workers’ movement. All the strength and unity that was achieved by the assemblyist process of the modern proletariat in the workplaces and beyond was dispersed when the majority of its members enrolled in the political parties and the unions, thereby abandoning the class terrain so as to be integrated into the diverse formal options of democratic capitalism.

The CNT was the only classic workers’ organization that enjoyed some sympathy among some segments of the proletariat; it profited from a real revolutionary past that the bureaucracy in exile administered and controlled jealously by hiding that the revolutionary past had been possible thanks to the struggles of its rank-and-file militants up until May 1937 and then the actions of the urban or mountain-based guerillas from the end of World War II to the 1960s. Often these actions were conducted against and despite this bureaucracy, which had always tried to control, and politically combat, the true “uncontrollables”[3] who created this revolutionary past. And it was this past and the relative autonomy that permitted the CNT's internal functioning at the beginning of its creation, when there wasn’t any clear definition of what the CNT should be (a union or an organization of autonomous groups?), which facilitated the entrance into the CNT of scattered elements, including syndicalists, Faïstes, the bureaucracy in exile, Leninists and autonomes.

The coordination of Autonomous Groups that are partisans of armed and theoretical agitation (tied to social agitation) posed an alternative to the pursuit and reaffirmation of the assemblyist autonomous structures that already existed at the time in the firms, neighborhoods and student movements – which managed to bring to a good conclusion, at the local and regional level, the unified struggle with no acronyms (opposed to the political parties and the unions) that was inherited from the clandestinity that was necessary under the Francoist dictatorship. Our attempt was to bring this alternative to a superior level of organization all through Spain, by surpassing its principal weaknesses of isolation and division.

Starting from the new situation created by the death of Franco and his replacement by a democratic dictatorship that was less corrupt than its predecessor (but which had already not fooled anyone), there existed and there still exists the possibility of publicly uniting in a tolerated and then legalized manner. And instead of profiting from the existing “legality” to reinforce and extend this autonomy by improving and extending the organization that was already in place – an incomprehensible thing – the majority of the autonomous movement of the firms, neighborhoods and students abandoned its structure to join the CNT en masse, first at the moment of its “re-creation” and then by participating in it. The Autonomous Groups, devoted to armed and theoretical agitation, along with several other rank-and-file groups that were totally isolated from the autonomous coordination, remained the only ones to support a class offensive within the autonomous movement.

In the coordination of the Automous Groups, which are partisans of armed and theoretical agitation tied to social agitation, some members chose to join the CNT at the individual level so as to try to reinforce it as a possible revolutionary organization, without abandoning (for all that) the pursuit of autonomous activities that were coordinated with the members of the other Autonomous Groups that refused to join the CNT because they considered it to be a union that was within the range of capitalist options to get out of the current economic crisis, which did not permit an autonomous movement of the proletariat to develop, and which ended up by holding it back and diverting it from its revolutionary objectives towards purely syndicalist objectives and, consequently, was reformist. This apparent contradiction was surpassed by our collective practice, which has been totally adoptable by what we consider autonomy to be, since we are not a permanent organization, with specialists, a hierarchy, and rigid ideological schemas of the party type. This diversity has, on the contrary, permitted a better enrichment of our revolutionary practice.

The critique of the CNT by members of the groups that are autonomously coordinated and that rejected the CNT’s creation and refused to participate in it – because they judged it to be, along with all the other parties and unions, one of the structures that are favorable to the integration of workers into the existence of salaried work, and thus capital, and thus are totally inadequate to the abolition of capital – was fully confirmed four years later by the individual experiences of those of us who decided to attempt to radicalize the CNT and who rediscovered the old inherent weaknesses of all the parties and unions: bureaucracy, the struggle for power, and control exercised over the rank-and-file (which did not have direct access to the means of information to express their ideas). And it is the syndicalist structure of the CNT that engendered all that. Those among us who made this attempt had to publicly recognize that they had wanted to make use of the image of a revolutionary past and that, today, it is the dead past that wants to make use of them.

The struggle for power between diverse tendencies, and the absence of true class choices, have provoked and facilitated the abandonment of the CNT by many revolutionary elements who participated in its reconstruction: coming from the autonomous movement of the firms, neighborhoods and students, they have completely abandoned – right from their entry into the CNT – their previous autonomous practice so as to integrate themselves into syndicalist structures. All this was favored by the fact that they joined the CNT en masse in the hope of finding there the solutions to their personal and organizational problems, which they had not wanted to pose at the level of autonomy. And it is the bureaucracy that, alone, has solved its problems: the possession of several more acronyms and militants.

The autonomous workers’ movement does not possess a clear vision of what class autonomy means in practice – otherwise its entrance into the CNT would be incomprehensible – and this because of its manifest theoretical poverty: because one must not forget that the major part of the workers’ movement still scorns theory, which it considers to be the work of intellectuals. On the contrary, we scorn the “intellectuals” who do not have the passion to put the instructions of revolutionary theory into practice, especially ours, which we use even against them. This is what we call the expropriation of theory.

Automony isn’t only a collective practice founded on a minimum accord that is designed to be put into action. Autonomous theory also corresponds to our way of living, struggling, and satisfying our concrete needs. If certain aspects of such a theory appear to be in need of being surpassed, we see no inconvenience in being its first pitiless critics, so as to avoid a situation in which our theory is not transformed into permanent ideology and dogma, which would prevent us from approaching the realization of communism.

Today, one can find in the CNT several potentially revolutionary groups whose members sympathize with the armed struggle and theoretical positions of the Coordination of Autonomous Groups. We are addressing ourselves to these people, as well as to those who, disgusted, have quit the CNT and now find themselves dispersed and isolated, without any other concrete perspective on struggle. Thus, we address ourselves to the most radical elements that have been excluded from the organization because they have proposed (we have proposed) the creation of a new non-permanent organization that is based upon autonomous class positions and that possesses structures that facilitate the maximum autonomy of groups and individuals by favoring coordination and struggle, not their blockage. Because the CNT is completely unadapted to these kinds of tasks, we start from the simple observation that organization only and simply means the organization of concrete tasks, and we have begun to organize ourselves, for ourselves, in all the places in which our social activity takes place.

We believe that class autonomy is also represented by those who dare to reappropriate what capital has rendered joyless. It isn’t in the form of a salary that we must take it, but without intermediary and directly where we find it. Reappropriation is a communist practice in the present that ranges from economic expropriations from the banks to occupations of the buildings; from non-payment of public transportation fares to theft from the supermarkets; from pirate radio stations to the refusal of nuclear powerplants and salaried work, etc. Without privileging one activity over another, but by doing things that refuse and attack capital. These actions complement each other, and one doesn’t exclude any of the others.

The organization of tasks, that is to say, our coordination of autonomous groups and individuals must above all be the pleasure of meeting together and cultivating [d’entertenir] relations of total communication. As autonomous sindividuals, we prefer to live in communist relations, immediately, in the present, without waiting for the Revolutionary Day that will perhaps allow us to live.

Our union and our practice are imposed by our collective needs, which deny the existence of a salaried impoverishment that doesn’t know how to satisfy them. When we carry out an attack or the expropriation of a bank, we seek above all the subversive pleasure of attacking the capital system that oppresses and exploits us. Not in answer to the “duty” of the militant, which requires actions to “liberate” the working class (in its name as a separated avant-garde that could possibly become a permanent and thus counter-revolutionary avant-garde), but for the pleasure of the subversive game in which everything that prevents us from satisfying our desires and passions to be (and to rediscover ourselves) in anti-commodity and non-alienated human relations is destroyed.

We must make clear that our preceding appeal to struggle towards the liberation of all revolutionary prisoners in Spain[4] who are accused of either leading or sympathizing with armed actions was not intended to signify the creation of a collective front of armed struggle. We are only in solidarity in response to repression. We do not support – indeed, we criticize – the political methods of the Red Army Faction and the Red Brigades, as well as the nationalist ideologies of the ETA and the IRA.

For us, revolutionary solidarity is expressed through action in the factories and on the streets, and not through a passive militantism. That is to say, it is an everyday and global struggle against the Old World of capital in its entirety.

October 1979

Published in French in Appels de la prison de Segovia (Champ Libre, November 1980). Translated by NOT BORED! 7 May 2010. All notes by the translator.

[1] Savladore Puig Antich, a member of the Mouvement Iberique de liberation, was accused of killing a police officer in 1972 and was garroted while in Barcelona's "Model Prison" on 2 March 1974.

[2] Klaus Croissant (1931-2002) was a German attorney who represented the RAF. He was arrested in June or July 1977.

[3] For more on the “uncontrollables” in Spain the 1930s, see the Protest to the libertarians of the present and the future about the capitulations of 1937.

[4] See Communique dated September 1979.

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