Contradictions

‘Frank Ryan brought you whiskey in a brothel in Madrid
And you decked some fucking blackshirt who was cursing all the Yids…’

From The Sick Bed of Cuchulainn by The Pogues

That’s how Principia Dialectica kick off their tribute to Bob Doyle, the last of the Irish to fight against Franco in the Spanish Civil War, who died on Valentine’s Day. Will Rubbish and Shiraz Socialist have also paid tribute.

Eamonn McDonagh notes that Frank Ryan was a man who spent the last four years of his life actively collaborating with Nazi Germany. Terry Glavin adds: “Aye. The same way Christy Moore ruined a perfectly good song.” He’s referring to “Viva La Quinta Brigada“:

Ten years before I saw the light of morning
A comradeship of heroes was laid.
From every corner of the world came sailing
The Fifteenth International Brigade.
They came to stand beside the Spanish people.
To try and stem the rising Fascist tide
Franco’s allies were the powerful and wealthy,
Frank Ryan’s men came from the other side.
Even the olives were bleeding
As the battle for Madrid it thundered on.
Truth and love against the force af evil,
Brotherhood against the Fascist clan.

Apparently, it was written while he was in Spain, reading from a book by Michael O’Riordan, The Connolly Column.

There is no doubt that Bob Doyle was a heroic man, but it is also worth thinking about the fact that he carried his Stalinism to his grave, and that the International Brigades helped crush the Spanish revolution and were responsible for the deaths of many non-Stalinist anti-fascists. As Bob commented, on the passing of Moe Fishman, another veteran of the Brigades,

As a child, the “International Brigade” conjured up the noblest form of heroism. As I got older, and developed politically, I came to see the ignoble side of the International Brigade, its use by Moscow to destroy dissident forms of anti-fascism in Spain. I realised things were not as black and white as fascism versus anti-fascism. So the passing of people like Fishman touches me in another way too: the tragedy of noble impulses used so wrongly.

Against undemocratic centralism

philosophy and revolution

From the archive of struggle, no.5: Raya Dunayevskaya on Leon Trotsky at The Commune.

These are the class war dead

From the archive of struggle, no.4. By Mike Quin, San Francisco 1948. From AWL.

Stop in your tracks, you passer-by,
Uncover your doubting head;
The workingmen are on their way
To bury their murdered dead.

The men who sowed their strength in work
And reaped a crop of lies
Are marching by. Oppression’s doom
Is written in their eyes.

Two coffins lead the grim parade
That stops you in your tracks;
Two workers lying stiff and dead
With bullets in their backs.

The blood they left upon the street
Was workers’ blood and red;
They died to make a better world.
These are the class war dead!

Stand back, you greedy parasites,
With banks and bellies filled,
And tremble while the working class
Buries the men you killed.

This is our word to those who fell,
Shot down for bosses’ gain;
We swear to fight until we win.
You did not die in vain!

The story here. On Mike Quin, in French, here.

Published in: on February 20, 2009 at 11:46 am  Leave a Comment  
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Change is gonna come

Max Shachtman

And, from the comments thread, a link to an mp3 of Max debating Norman Thomas from the 1950s.

Published in: on February 19, 2009 at 5:02 pm  Comments (1)  
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Hal Draper: The sect and working class lifestyle, or why intellectuals should know their place

Splendid stuff, from Shiraz Socialist

Published in: on February 12, 2009 at 11:14 am  Leave a Comment  
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More from the archive of struggle

[From the archive of struggle, no.3]

Excellent round-up at Entdinglichung. Highlights:

And, from the reading list:

Jim Sleeper again (the spirit of Arendt and Orwell on Gaza)

Israel’s Only Way Out (TPMCafe), U.K. and U.S. Drop Their (and Israel’s) Grand Strategy (TPMCafe), Gaza interview (WYNC)

Published in: on February 6, 2009 at 5:35 pm  Leave a Comment  
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