The working movement

The Democratic Six-Year period legalized the working organizations, secret during the reign of Isabel II. Thus, at the end of 1869 it was structured the union cotton, named "Les Tres Classes de Vapor" (weavers, spinners and laborers), of moderate character and that, with more than eight thousand affiliates, it was the biggest of Catalonia. The main trends were two: the Marxism and the Anarchism. The Marxists intended to conquer the state for constituting the dictatorship of the proletariat, while the Anarchists intended simply to make it disappear. Moreover, there were several movements "Utopians", as for example the Choirs of Clavé or the cooperatives. This last one intended to solve the conflict between capital and work through their fusion in an only element: the worker-owner. Towards 1840 the first Boxes of Resistance, destined to constructing factories exploited by the own workers, had been born in Catalonia. The first of these cooperative societies in constituting itself was La Obrera Mataronense, compound one of 246 members, on the 1st July of 1864, from the Box of Resistance of Mataró. It had big hampered, like not finding a notary who wanted to make the writing and the epidemic of anger of 1865. The Revolution of 1868 recognized the cooperative societies and in 1869 it started its activity, with 105 members, directed by Salvador Pagès, born in Reus. In June of 1870 it developed in Barcelona el Primer Congrés Obrer, that was at the same time the fourth of the International Alliance of Workers, better known like the First International, set up in London by Marx in 1864. All trends participated in it, once the moderate one, to which Salvador Pagès, manager of La Obrera Mataronense, belonged. Pagès made several extremely moderate speeches, with moralistic trimmings, opposing to the class struggle and to the strikes, and proposing that the money that gets lost in a strike were destined to improving the production. "Why not to invest in the workshops instead of losing everything in a strike?", he asked. The Congress rejected the cooperatives and the mutualism as a way of emancipation from the working class. In the First International, the Catalan section, of the hand of the president of the Congress, Rafael Farga i Pellicer -that belonged to the intimate circle of Bakunin- and other leaders, opted almost unanimously for the anarchist current of Bakunin, which subsisted as a semisecret faction, with the opposition of Karl Marx. Moreover, the Catalan section of the First International was contrary to the creation of a political party, preferring a non politic way. At the beginning of 1873, it had some twenty thousand affiliates. In 1874, Pagès completely withdrew from the International, since the anarchists had included definitively the cooperative workers in the list of their enemies. Benedicts XVI has pointed out in his encyclical you "Deus Caritas east" (2006) that the Catholics did not had any orientation of the Church about "the radical change in the configuration of the society, which the relation between the capital and the work became in the decisive question. (...) The means of production and the capital were the new power that, being at the hands of few, it entailed for the workers masses a deprivation of rights that they had to rebel against. It has to be admitted that the representatives of the Church perceived only slowly that the problem of the fair structure of the society was brought up in a new way".

Josep Maria Tarragona, April 7, 2007

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Last update: 06/05/2016