Tag Archives: Spanish Civil War

Dolores Ibárruri (La Pasionaria): Women at the Front

Dolores Ibárruri with Vietnamese Communist leader Ho Chi Minh

In honor of Women’s History Month and International Women’s Day (March 8th), The Marxist-Leninist is posting a number of articles on women’s liberation. The following article is by Dolores Ibárruri (La Pasionaria), a member of the Communist Party of Spain and a Republican leader during the Spanish Civil War. Her autobiography, They Shall Not Pass, is essential reading.

Women at the Front

She was a volunteer, a member of the civilian militia, wearing the blue blouse of a workman. She clasped her rifle with ardour, as though it were not a weapon of death but a much-desired plaything. Amidst the groups of merry militia men who were going smilingly to fight and perhaps to die, she marched in silence, serious and self- engrossed. A light burned in her eyes. They expressed hatred, inflexible determination and courage. I approached her and asked:

“Where are you from?”

“Toledo.”

“Why are you at the front?”

She was silent for a few moments, and then answered:

“To fight fascism, to crush the enemies of the working people and…to avenge the death of my brother.”

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Harry Haywood: Trotsky’s Day in Court

The following examination of Trotskyism by the great African American Marxist-Leninist, Harry Haywood, is from “Trotsky’s Day in Court”, Chapter 6 of Black Bolshevik: Autobiography of an Afro-American Communist (1978), which takes place while Harry Haywood is studying in Moscow at the KUTVA, The University of the Toilers of the East. For a more thorough Marxist-Leninist examination of Trotskyism, read M.J. Olgin’s outstanding 1935 book, Trotskyism: Counter-Revolution in Disguise, which is perhaps the best treatment of the subject:


Trotsky’s Day in Court

Apart from our academic courses, we received our first tutelage in Leninism and the history of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union in the heat of the inner-party struggle then raging between Trotsky and the majority of the Central Committee led by Stalin. We KUTVA students were not simply bystanders, but were active participants in the struggle. Most students – and all of our group from the U.S. – were ardent supporters of Stalin and the Central Committee majority. 

It had not always been thus. Otto told me that in 1924, a year before he arrived, a majority of the students in the school had been supporters of Trotsky. Trotsky was making a play for the Party youth, in opposition to the older Bolshevik stalwarts. With his usual demagogy, he claimed that the old leadership was betraying the revolution and had embarked on a course of “Thermidorian reaction.” (1) In this situation, he said, the students and youth were “the Party’s truest barometer.” (2)

But by the time the Black American students arrived, the temporary attraction to Trotsky had been reversed. The issues involved in the struggle with Trotsky were discussed in the school. They involved the destiny of socialism in the Soviet Union. Which way were the Soviet people to go? What was to be the direction of their economic development? Was it possible to build a socialist economic system?  These questions were not only theoretical ones, but were issues of life and death. The economic life of the country would not stand still and wait while they were being debated.  

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La Pasionaria on Stalin and the Mass Line

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Dolores Ibárruri with Vietnamese Communist leader Ho Chi Minh

The following article from 1940, “Stalin, Leader of Peoples, Man of the Masses” is by Dolores Ibárruri, also known as “La Pasionaria”, Communist militant and political leader of the Republican forces during the anti-fascist Spanish Civil War. The article is particularly interesting in its exploration of the method of leadership that the Chinese Communists would call “the mass line“.

Stalin, Leader of Peoples, Man of the Masses

To speak of the triumph of socialism on one-sixth of the earth; to write about the luxuriant development of agriculture in the Soviet Union, a development unequalled by any other country; to admire the astounding growth of socialist industry and the tempestuous advance of the workers; to marvel at the unprecedented achievements of the mighty Soviet air fleet, at the powerful reinforcements of the Soviet navy; to describe the glorious deeds of the Red Army, liberator of peoples; to study the wonderful mechanism of the gigantic socialist state with its manifold nationalities united by indissoluble bonds of fraternal friendship; to observe the progress of science, art, the culture of all Soviet peoples, the joyous life of their children, their women, the workers, the peasants and the intellectuals, the permanent security of all of them and their confidence in the future; to know the daily life of socialism and the heroic deeds of the Soviet people—means to see Stalin, to speak of Stalin, to experience Stalin.

For Stalin—means people, work, struggle; Stalin—means unswerving loyalty to the revolutionary principles of Marxism-Leninism; Stalin—means unyielding hardness towards the opportunists, towards the betrayers and enemies of the toiling people; means tireless vigilance against all enemies of socialism.

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