Date of Award


Document Type

Closed Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) in History and University Honors






Anarchism -- Spain -- History -- 20th century, Spain -- History -- Civil War (1936-1939), Libertarianism -- Spain




During the second half of the nineteenth century, various regions around the world witnessed the emergence of radical libertarianism, a significant social force that for many decades united laborers, peasants and intellectuals who sought sweeping societal changes. While Mexico, Argentina and Russia all had sizable anarchist movements, Spain's was undoubtedly the largest and most notable of the era. With the onset of the Spanish Civil War on July 19, 1936, the Iberian nation's long standing libertarian tradition came to the forefront of the world's attention as armed Anarchist militias staved off the military coup led by General Francisco Franco and prevented what would have otherwise been a quick victory for Nationalist forces. Anarchists utilized the chaos associated with the onset of the Civil War to apply many aspects of their vision for a new social order, culminating in both a cultural transformation as well as the collectivization of industrial and agricultural production. Although the anarchists' influence would wane, the world witnessed the implementation of anarchist principles on a scale that has never been matched.

Indeed, the Spanish Civil War has created a lasting association between the histories of anarchism and of Spain that has been studied at length for nearly a century by both social commentators and scholars alike. There has been extensive debate over the factors that contributed to the rise of Anarchism in Spain, the nature of the movement itself, and both the composition of its members and the values which they held. Although much literature has been written concerning the history of anarchism in Spain, the question of why this radical libertarian ideology has continued to be embraced on the Iberian Peninsula for nearly one hundred and fifty years has yet to be adequately examined. By exploring the subject matter from a vantage point that reflects on how anarchism has been embraced in Spain's many dissimilar regions over the course of several eras, it is possible to begin to understand why it has been able to persevere south of the Pyrenees.


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