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(en) Canada, Collectif Emma Goldman - [Book] George Orwell: Homage to Catalonia (2 of 2) (fr, it, pt)[machine translation]

Date Thu, 27 Feb 2020 09:45:52 +0200

"For all those who have been hungry for centuries, for all those who have nothing, civil war is hope ". Extract from the documentary film Dying in Madrid (1963) ---- Photo source:https://www.eldiario.es/sociedad/Guerra-Civil-aparecieron-Sant-Cugat_0_962754655.html ---- George Orwell's participation in the Spanish Civil War as a volunteer in the militia of the Marxist Unification Workers' Party (POUM) is undoubtedly the first source of inspiration for his main novels, 1984 and La ferme des animals . Homage to Catalonia is both a story and an essay on the Spanish War. Orwell affirms that one cannot understand the Spanish War and more precisely the " atmosphere of suspicion and political hatred " which reigned in Barcelona in the spring of 1937 from an exclusively military point of view. At the beginning of the first appendix, the author writes: " None of his episodes[...]cannot be understood without some knowledge of the internal party struggle which was going on behind the government front. "[P. 235]

A social revolution

" We want to be freedom militiamen, not soldiers in uniform. Militiaman yes, soldier never ". Extract from Dying in Madrid (1963)

George Orwell reminds us that during the first months of the war: "[t]he real adversary of Franco was not so much the government as the unions. As soon as the rebellion broke out, theorganized urban workers responded by calling a strike ... then demanded the weapons of the national arsenals.[1]"(p.238) However, as Orwell points out:" It would be difficult to believe that the anarchists and socialists, who were the soul and the nerve of the resistance, were accomplishing such exploits to safeguard capitalist democracy which represented nothing more to them, especially to those of the anarchists, than a centralized device of swindle! [...] What had happened in Spain, in reality, was not just a civil war, but the beginning of a revolution. In fact, where the rebellion is crushed and the disarmed soldiers, the unions and the parties form revolutionary committees and councils where they exercise all the powers. Control patrols made up of workers replace the old police forces, militias are raised and in some localities, independent anarchist communities are organized. At the same time, the working class proceeds to collectivizations: " the peasants seized the land, the unions seized many factories and most of the means of transport; churches were destroyed and the priests were driven out and killed . "(P.238)

The Spanish war is above all a political war

For the defense of the republic, weapons were needed above all. The Soviet intervention in October 1936, and to a lesser extent Mexico, allowed the Republicans to resist for almost three years. But at what cost? The Russians, in a situation of strength, dictate their conditions. " Russian arms were supplied through the Communist party[...]which made sure that as few weapons as possible went to their political adversaries " (p.243). The Spanish Communist Party (PCE), which represented little before the war, saw its membership swell following the rallying of the Spanish small and medium-sized enterprise to the PCE, which had become de facto the guarantors of property and salary exploitation.

" The whole world was determined to prevent the revolution in Spain. In particular, the[Stalinist]Communist Party , with Soviet Russia behind it, had thrown itself with all its weight against the revolution. "(P.240)

From October 1936, the Generality voted several decrees in the name of military imperatives. Their goal is to rebuild the state, but as the author points out: "[...]what the military necessities demanded was the abandonment of a plot of what the workers had conquered for themselves in 1936. "(p.244). Obstacles are set up in order to limit the progression of collectivization. We got rid of the local committees and it was also the return of the pre-war police force. The various industries under union control pass under the direction of the government and the workers' militias are gradually dissolved and distributed in the new people's army.

Barcelona, July 1936

The days of May 1937

Ignorance is strength "
-Orwell, 1984

Generally, the takeover of the Barcelona telephone exchange by the assault guard that occurred on May 3, 1937 is recognized as the triggering event for the May days. This provocation is the culmination of a long series of skirmishes whose objective is, for the Stalinists of the PCE, to liquidate the social revolution and the libertarians as hegemonic force in the Catalan working class as well as to restore the power of the bourgeoisie. Street fighting ended on May 7 after killing more than 400 people and a thousand injured.

In the Daily Worker of May 6 it is stated: " that a band of minority anarchists, during the days of Monday and Tuesday, seized and attempted to keep the central office of telephones and telegraphs and they started to shoot shots in the street. But this story does not hold water! Why the hell would the CNT storm its own premises? A few days later, the same newspaper attributes all responsibility for the Barcelona troubles to the POUM.

The case is presented as a premeditated insurgency and prepared against the government. It would be fomented only by the POUM. The Daily Worker writes on May 11, 1937: " The POUM, acting with the assistance of well-known criminal elements and a number of misleaders belonging to anarchist organizations, conceived the plan, organized and carried out the attack on the rear, so as to make it exactly coincide with the attack on the front in Bilbao. (P.275) But, as Orwell mentions, if the POUM leaders had wanted to help the fascists, they would have ordered their militia to leave the front and let the fascists pass. But they did nothing.

On June 15 and 16, 1937, the POUM was abolished and declared as an illegal organization. In the process, all its offices, bookstores, sanatoriums are seized. In the Stalinist press we write: " Following the arrest of a large number of Trotskyist leaders in Barcelona and elsewhere [...]we learned at the weekend of the details of one of the most abominable cases of espionage who have never seen each other in wartime [...]"(p.288) No evidence has ever been produced. These were unconfirmed claims but published in newspapers aligned with Moscow.

What is very serious adds Prito, then Minister of National Defense: "It is that the arrest of the leaders of the POUM was not decided by the government, it was on their own authority that the police proceeded to these arrests.»(P.289) A police force submerged by the Stalinists.

Like what, "fakes news" is not new.

Read also:
[Book]George Orwell: Homage to Catalonia (1 of 2)

[1]Spain knew in one day three prime ministers: Quiroga, Barrios and Giral. The first two refused to distribute weapons to the unions.

[2]The political organization of Catalonia (Parliament, presidency and executive council)

Collectif Emma Goldman

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