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Bilbao 1902- (??).

Biographical/historical notes:

Horacio Martínez Prieto.

Construction worker who came late to the CNT because he considered himself a pure anarchist; subsequently, he was to be the most outstanding representative of pro-political, reformist revisionism within the CNT.

During the Primo de Rivera dictatorship he spent some time in Paris (1925-26) where, it seems, he opposed García Oliver’s case for the formation of a revolutionary alliance against the dictator. His influence began to become apparent under the republic: in 1932 he was on the editorial staff of CNT (and visited Russia that year), vice-secretary of the CNT national committee in 1934 and secretary in 1936 (after eight months spent in prison in Bilbao), until he resigned the post at the end of that year.

The outbreak of civil war had found him in Bilbao and he was the CNT representative in the Vizcaya provincial defence committee (with responsibility for health matters) until he departed for Barcelona, at which point he set in motion an ambitious plan to get the CNT to commit to the republican government: first, at the national plenum of CNT regionals on 28 September 1936, and later at another national plenum of regionals (which he had summoned off his own bat) in October which accorded him powers to arrange for CNT entry into the republican government (he had talks with Largo Caballero and Azaña), which he did.

At a national plenum of regionals in November 1936 he was labelled a traitor and liquidationist, but within a month was director of trade with Juan López. In December 1937 he headed the CNT delegation to the extra-ordinary congress of the IWA and there put the case for governmentalism. In April 1938 he was under-secretary for health under Blanco and in October, at a national plenum of regionals, he put the case for the FAI to be turned into a political party (a thesis he had previously argued in the review Timón), whilst issuing a call for apoliticism to be jettisoned, condemning Kropotkin and inclining towards philo-marxism and reformism: a short time previously, he had chaired the committee of liaison with the Stalinist UGT and that same year he pressed for the opening of negotiations with Franco. He was also a member of the CAP (Policy Advisory Committee), but, curiously, he was against the creation of the García Oliver-ist Executive Committee in April 1938 (and the war was scarcely over before he was opposing the POT, on the grounds that it was "ill-timed").

After the defeat he was a nominal member of the MLE General Council set up in 1939 and stuck to his emphatically collaborationist line: he supported the Luque motion in 1946-47, served as a minister in Giral's government-in-exile in 1945, etc. His trajectory culminated in his proposal that a political party be launched; he signed its manifesto on 23 January 1948. It drew little response and this to all intents placed him on the outside of the libertarian movement: thereafter he was regarded for the most part as a former libertarian.

The arguments invoked by Prieto to justify joining the republican government were: that there was no way of imposing libertarians' wishes on the republican zone for want of psychological preparation, they were not in a position to win the war, there was the foreign opposition to the anarchist revolution, the revolution's gains had to be defended, the people dearly wanted anti-Francoist unity. That such arguments should have cut any ice with influential strata within the CNT speaks volumes for the CNT personnel of the time and accounts for the CNT's compliance with dereliction of principles (and for layabouts' appetite for the trappings of rank): Prieto was merely the rigger in this process of degeneration, for it has to be obvious that his arguments would have made no headway had he not had supporters and met with complicit silences.

Author of: Anarcosindicalismo. Cómo Hacemos la Revolución (1933), Facetas de la URSS (Santander 1933), Los Problemas de la Revolución Española (1933), Anarquismo Relativo. Crítica de los Hechos y Sugestiones Revisionistas (Mexico 1948), El Anarquismo Español en la Lucha Política (Paris 1946), Posibilismo Libertario (1966), Semblanza y Personalidad de Galo Díez (unpublished), Gobierno Vasco. Algunos Antecedentes para el Libro Blanco de Euskadi-Norte CNT (unpublished), Marxismo y Socialismo Libertario (Paris 1947), El Movimiento Libertario y sus Necesidades (Paris, undated), Problemas Planteados en la Casa CNT-FAI de Barcelona el 6-1-1938 (unpublished).

By the way, his son César M. Lorenzo’s book, Los Anarquistas Españoles y el Poder, is nothing more than an apology for his father’s handiwork and a protracted plea for a politicised CNT.

Source: A Historical Encyclopaedia of Spanish Anarchism, by Miguel Iñiguez
Online, one of 400+ entries (192 pages of extracts), at Christie Books Archives, see

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