A discussion with Bonet, a member of the POUM Executive Committee. I asked him the reasons for the entry of the POUM into the Catalan government.[Originally the POUM was not in the government.] He explained that had they not joined, it would have meant their complete isolation from the masses in the factories and the community, etc. Moreover, in exchange for their participation, they had demanded certain guarantees, for example a Socialist economic programme and their inclusion on all official bodies.
In answer to my questions about military formations, Bonet explained to me that workers’ organisations exercise complete control over the army. The PSUC had tried to eliminate both this and the milicianos, but these attempts had failed. I discovered from other sources that the decree about the militarisation[Militarisation meant the absorption of the militias into the reconstituted army of the old type, set up by the Madrid government, so eliminating the militias as a revolutionary factor.] of the Catalan front had not actually been carried out. Just as before, there are still the party units with their corresponding political commissars. The POUM, like other political organisations, has a special military section in its Central Committee, responsible for its military wing. The state apparatus has been thoroughly purged of all Fascist elements.
After this I had a discussion with a POUM comrade, a mechanic, who performs the job of fiscal (public prosecutor) in a people’s court (in Barcelona there are four of them). The judges are chosen by the various workers’ organisations. Each court has a bourgeois judge, a professionally trained one, who exercises purely formal functions. The trials are actually directed by the fiscal. The people’s judges are not bound by any written laws, but rather make decisions on the basis of their own assessment, in line with their own class experience. The structure of the trial is also no longer bound by the old rules, and appears, in contrast, relatively free and its procedures quite appropriate. The accused may have a defence lawyer, and members of the public may make statements on behalf of the accused. The accused often take advantage of this opportunity, as statements from the public generally tend to have more effect on proletarian judges than the interventions of a lawyer.
Trivial non-political cases are still dealt with by the remaining structures of the old legal system, ostensibly because the people’s courts are too busy with political cases, and cannot be bothered with more trivial matters. But that is a provisional rule and there is a move to clear out all the old bourgeois judges, policemen, etc. The proletarian judges of the people’s courts are paid by the government. As a rule they continue to work in the factories, and devote only a part of their time to the legal system.
In the evening the comrades with whom I had detailed discussions, mainly about the International, stressed that they wish to continue receiving material from the Trotskyists, as they are unable to get hold of such material in Barcelona.
On the question of the reform of the International, all the comrades insisted that we cannot expect such a solution to meet with the approval of the POUM comrades at this moment in time. The CNT is similarly uninterested in any sort of link with the Comintern. This is most noticeable in their tense and hostile relationship with the PSUC, which is seen as a brake on the revolution in a number of concrete matters. It is seen as inhibiting progress towards Socialism, and as a force behind which all sorts of bourgeois and petit-bourgeois elements (Esquerra, Social Democrats, etc) gather.