Franco’s Spain – how many dead?

In a recent post, I quoted Dorian Cope claiming that two million people were killed in Franco’s Spain. TNC made the comment  below. I’m pretty innumerate myself, but I think TNC is most likely right and Cope wrong: the death toll was more like a million, it slowed down after Franco’s reign consolidated, and it should be seen alongside the (much smaller) “red terror” in which rightists were killed too, i.e. in a Civil War context and not just that of a dictatorship. I have started reading Giles Tremlett’s Ghosts of Spain, which addresses the legacy of these deaths, which I hope to post on when I’ve finished.

Where does the two million number come from? The reason I ask is the number I have read from a few secondary sources including Paul Preston and Stanley Payne that put it closer to one million killed by both sides in the conflict. Also, most of the mass killings stopped by the end of the 1940s. I know people were tortured and murdered in horrible ways, including the garrot, but the evidence suggests a slowing of the mass murder certainly by the early 1950s.

Paul Preston writes:

“The numbers of right-wingers killed in Republican Spain (after the military coup destroyed the structures of law and order and before the Republican government could rebuild them) is 37000. The number of people murdered in the Francoist zone is likely to be 150,000. The reason for doubt is that finding out is a painstaking business, village by village, and only 36 of Spain’s 50 provinces have been reasonably thoroughly investigated. Those thirty-six provinces have currently produced 98,000 known victims. However, even there it is very difficult to be sure that all the dead have been counted… (more…)

Fifty years ago: the execution of Francisco Granados and Joaquin Data Martinez Delgado

From on this deity (1910): 

Forty-seven years ago today, in 1963, two young Spanish anarchists were executed by General Franco’s obscene regime for a Passport Office bombing of which they had no knowledge, while the real perpetrators slipped quietly away. Despite the absence of any evidence of their involvement, Francisco Granados (27) and Joaquin Data Martinez Delgado (29) – both members of the anti-Franco movement called the Iberian Federation of Libertarian Youth – were interrogated, brutally tortured, tried behind closed doors and executed by garotte at Franco’s notorious Carabanchel Prison, and all of this in just eighteen days after having been arrested.

For many, these unfortunates were but two more victims of an unrestrained and merciless tyrant estimated to have executed almost two million non-combatants between 1939-75, during his arduous near four-decade-long reign of terror. But what separated this grotesque event from the rest of Franco’s merciless pogroms against his own people was that it took place not at the chaotic post-Civil War beginning of his ‘reign’, but twenty-four grueling years into his rule, and during this cynical tyrant’s attempt to pass off his regime as ‘respectable’ to the rest of the Western World. For, as a resurgent wave of underground resistance began –throughout 1963 – to rise up from the ashes of violent repression, General Franco openly recommenced his policy of institutionalised revenge and intent to eradicate from Spain all democrats, liberals, socialists and – above all others – his most-despised enemies from the war, the communists and anarchists. (more…)

Music Mondays: Cante Flamenco

For the Sake of the Song, a fantastic music blog, occassionally posts briliant Spanish music, and I have linked there before in this series, I think. Here’s the lastest:

[...] a quartet of fantastic flamenco pieces from thirties Spain. Featuring Pepe Pinto, Antonio Mairena, Manolita from Jerez, and last but not least the legendary Tomás Pavon. ¡Palmas y agua!
Pepe Pinto – Hermanita, Sientate A Mi Vera Cuando Querra La Virgen Del Mayor Dolor
Antonio Mairena – Soleá De Alcalá
Manolita De Jerez – Bulerias
Tomás Pavon – Cantes De Triana

This release is on Arhoolie, mainly a bluegrass label, although it also carries loads of stuf by the great Flaco Jimenez. Some of the music is incerdibly rare. These are almost all Gyspy singers, who hunkered down in the years of the Spanish Civil War and Franco dictatorship, playing in late night dives in the urban ghettos of Andalusia. They sang a deep, rough, almost orgasmic cante flamenco, at a time when the fashion (and, after Franco’s victory, state approval) was for a more Castillian, operatic, smooth, flamboyant style. (more…)

75 years ago today: the May Days

Thanks to Liz for a link to the wonderful Warwick Spanish Civil War archive, Trabajadores. It includes a timeline. Here’s where we are now, roughly:

Barcelona Bulletin
3-8 May
‘Events of May’ in Barcelona: Divisions between different Republican groups (Communists, socialists and anarchists) result in street fighting. Those killed include the trade union leader and socialist politician Antonio Sesé, and the Italian anarchists Camillo Berneri and Franco Barbieri.

And loads of great material from entdinglichung:

aus gegebenem Anlass:

* George Orwell: Mein Katalonien (Nemesis)

Manifesto & Policy of the POUM during the Barcelona May Days (La Bataille Socialiste)

* Augustin Souchy: The Tragic Week in May (The Struggle Site)

* Grandizo Munis: The Spanish Left in its Own Words (Marxists Internet Archive)

* Hugo Oehler: Barricades in Barcelona (Revolutionary History)

* Waldemar Bolze: Where are the Real Saboteurs? (Revolutionary History)

* Andreu Nin: The May Days in Barcelona (Marxists Internet Archive)

* Katia Landau: Stalinism in Spain (Marxists Internet Archive)

The friends of Durruti

New at Libcom:

The Friends of Durruti Group: 1937-39 - Agustin Guilamòn

Guillamòn’s in-depth study of the hugely important anarcho-syndicalist CNT militants who opposed their union’s collaboration with the Republican government during the Spanish Civil War. (more…)

75 years of the Spanish revolution

 

First, we are at war. And it is a war that will be long. We are poorly organized and our people do not know what war is. – Andre Nin, summer 1936

Phil writes:

On 19th July 1936, the working class of Barcelona and Madrid succeeded in defeating the army and repelling the fascists in their attempt to take over Spain. It marked the beginning of an anarchist revolution, the lessons of which remain relevant 75 years later.
There are numerous accounts and analyses of the revolution’s successes and failures in print and on the internet. This article from Do or die at the 70th anniversary provides a succinct overview, whilst An Anarchist FAQ goes into considerably more depth from a theoretical standpoint. The pamphlet Towards a Fresh Revolution, written by the Friends of Durruti in 1938, offers a radical position from in the midsts of the war as it raged on.
However, to mark the anniversary, I would like to draw people’s attention to the documentary Living Utopia: The Anarchists and the Spanish Revolution. Featuring personal testimonies from numerous anarcho-syndicalist militants who took part, it is in my view a fitting way to mark this anniversary of a significant milestone in revolutionary class struggle.

Robert writes:

July 19, 2011 marks the 75th anniversary of the beginning of the Spanish Civil War, and the remarkable social revolution which followed. Gaston Leval (1895-1978) was the great chronicler of the positive accomplishments of the Spanish anarchists and people during the Spanish Revolution and Civil War. In the following short piece, published in Resistance Volume XII, No. 1, April 1954, Leval describes the process of collectivization which spread through various areas of Spain, often spontaneously, and the obstacles ranged against the collectives. Leval deals with the collectives in much greater detail in his book, Collectives in the Spanish Revolution (London: Freedom Press, 1975). I included excerpts from that book in Chapter 23 of Anarchism: A Documentary History of Libertarian Ideas, Volume One: From Anarchy to Anarchism (300CE-1939), Selection 126, “Libertarian Democracy.” [READ THE REST]

The poster above, via La Bataille socialiste, is for an exhibition in Barcelona, that Sarah went to see. Sarah reports that the exhibition had English language editions of the POUM’s Spanish Revolution newsletter from 1937. Anyone has images of these or pdfs or text or anything, please let me and Sarah know.

 

More from Trebian, Andrew Blackman, Chris Hall, Stuart Christie.

Feast your eyes on images from Getty and at MSNBC’s photo blog.

Watch: Land and Freedom. Londoners note:

Haringey Independent Cinema are showing Ken Loach’s film land and Freedom on Thursday 21st July at 7.15pm, West Green learning Centre, West Green Road, London N15. More information from RAHN.

Listen: Stalinist songs of the Spanish “civil war” volume 1 (Pete Seeger, Ernst Busch) and 2 (Woody Guthrie).

The hats of the proletarian brothers

First, from Weimar, from a strange but fascinating collection, via Kellie:

Robert Capa, Spanish Civil War, Barcelona 1936
Barcelona. August-September 1936. The boy is wearing a cap belonging to a member of the Steel Battalions, of the “Union de Hermanos Proletarios” (Union of Proletarian Brothers), an anarchist militia.

And more on the hats of the UHP:

Asturias, Octubre 1934-1937. Hoy como ayer el Socorro Rojo de España cuidará de vuestras familias[Asturias, October 1934-1937. Today, as yesterday, the Spanish Red Aid will take care of your families]. Signed: Tomás.. Socorro Rojo de España. Gráficas Valencia, Intervenido U.G.T. C.N.T. Lithograph, 3 colors; 100 x 69 cm.

In this poster, the image of a fighting miner emerges from behind a hill inscribed with the word “Asturias”. This refers to a region located along Spain’s northern coast, on the Bay of Biscay. The fighter carries a rifle on his shoulder and prepares to throw a stick of dynamite. Behind him a mother cares for her two young children. The green color of the sinuous mountains evokes the greenery of a region known for its abundant rainfall.

The message under the image refers to events that occurred in Asturias in 1934 and in 1937, and also to the organization issuing this poster, the Socorro Rojo de España, or Spanish Red Aid. The Red Aid was founded by the Comintern in 1921; its activities in Spain had begun before the war, assisting in the revolutionary strike that was held in many parts of the country in the fall of 1934. This strike was most successful in Asturias, where it was led by a united front of miners of socialist, communist and anarchist persuasion; thus the initials UHP in the cap worn by the miner in this poster, which stand for Unión de Hermanos Proletarios, or Union of Proletarian Brothers. After two weeks of revolution, the rebellion surrendered on October 18, 1934. The repression was conducted by military forces led by General Franco on orders from the Republican government. It is to these events that the inscription “October 1934″ in this poster refers. The second date on the poster, 1937, refers to the Civil War. In the late summer of that year, military forces, this time in rebellion against the Republic, were set to attack Asturias. The region prepared for its defense, which was much publicized throughout the country. After intense fighting, Asturias finally fell to the Nationalist army on October 21. This poster shows the mythic dimension that the Asturias revolution of 1934 had acquired in Spain immediately before and during the war. The defense of Asturias in 1937 by revolutionary miners like the one represented in this image immediately evoked the earlier events and provided an ideal opportunity to rouse the passion of the masses anew.

The author of this scene, Tomás, designed other posters during the war, but he is not otherwise known. This poster must have been designed and printed at the time of the events it commemorates, in October 1937, presumably before the fall of Asturias to the Nationalist army on October 21.

[See also]

Collectives in the Spanish Revolution – Gaston Leval

We have so many times said, for it is important to bear this in mind that the Spanish libertarian revolution was set in motion as a consequence of the Francoist attack which made it possible to put into action revolutionary forces which without it were condemned to new and sterile failures. And when we say “sterile failures” we are referring to the attempts made in January 1932, January and December 1933 (revolutionary and insurrectional attempts organised and manned by the C.N.T.-F.A.I.) to which one must add the Asturian miners’ insurrection in October 1934 in which socialist, U.G.T. and C.N.T. workers (in spite of the stupid opposition of the national Comité of the C.N.T.) and even Communists took part.  All these attempts were crushed by the more powerful forces of the State, supported by the non-revolutionary political parties which, for all that, were not fascist.

Published in: on June 21, 2011 at 12:34 pm  Comments (7)  
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Poumulator

Five (5) pesos. Mexican Revolution. Álvaro Obregón

Image via Wikipedia

Blog posts:

Vincente Navarro: Salvador Dali, Fascist

Lauryn Oates: Hitchens Had it Right Then, and Now

Bernard-Henri Levy: Yes We Can (Save Sakineh)

Bob from Brockley: A tourist on the left

Michael Lebowitz: The spectre of barbarism, and its alternative

Next year county: Viva Mexico!

Theory and history:

Andrew Cheeseman: Two souls of socialism

Barry Biddulph: The red Jacobins

David Adam: Marx and Bakunin

Sheila Cohen: Syndicalism for the 21st century

Martine Bourne: Potere opero

Obituaries:

Tom Behan (see also this review of his book on working class resistance to Mussolini)

Edmund Kovacs

Barbara Zeluck

Ron Silber

More highlights from Against the Current, mainly on the Mexican revolution, below the fold.

(more…)

Tings and tings

Killing and dying for “the old lie” - World War and the triumph of militarism over anti-fascism.

Spain is nice at this time of year - the BNP and Spanish fascism.

Beijing Coma – can the symbols of classic socialism still be symbols of emancipation, despite their blood stains?

Oscar Wilde on socialist songs – Up, ye People! or down into your graves!

The partisan poet – Adam Kirsch on Abba Kovner.

Ethel MacDonald and Bob Smillie – and Guy Aldred and Fenner Brockway. More Guy Aldred.

Carlo Tresca – The Dilemma of an Anti-Communist Radical.

The sweet and the cruel - Ian Buruma on Occupied Paris.

The Labour Party between the wars - ideological contours.

A postcard from Coyoacan – Trotsky’s last home in Mexico.

TROTSKY’s STUDY – WHERE HE WAS SITTING WHEN HE WAS MURDERED  WITH AN ICE PICK

Translated novels - including Victor Serge’s Unforgiving Years.

Stalin’s Terror – a review by Peter Taafe.

David North on Robert Service on Leon Trotksy (and on James Burnham on Isaac Duetscher on Leon Trotsky) – not sure if I’ve already posted this one.

Open letter to Havana - on Stalinist slurs against the Freedom Socialist Party.

The Black Marxist Tradition – an interview with Cedric J Robinson.

You don’t play with revolution, Alfie – Lady Poverty on CLR James on Marxism. (And here’s James from AK.)

The Search for the Tassili Frescoes – Afrocentrist history and CLR James at Federal College.

The John Hope Franklin File - the FBI, anti-communism and black history.

Stalin: Why and How – Boris Souvarine.

The myth of Mondragon - Louis Proyect debunks Spanish autogestion?

Poplarism - a review of Janine Booth’s book.

Half a century of Hausman’s – from the North East London radicals, from Permanent Revolution.

A Rebel’s dream – Ian Birchall on Ernest Mandel.

George Padmore – forgotten fighter.

Reasoning otherwise - Canadian radicalism 1890-1920.

More years of the locust - Permanent Revolution on Jim Higgins on the origins of the IS.

Decline – Scott McLemee on Cornel West. Plus more from Michael Tomasky.

New from AK: Italian anarchism 1864-92, French anarchism 1917-45, Zapatismo and the Panthers.

Flag Day in Lawrence, MA, 1912 – a slice of IWW history.

What is the CNT? Two from Christie Books:

Facts About the Spanish Resistance 2 – What is the CNT? by José Peirats

Anarchists in LondonThe Anarchists in London 1935-1955 by Albert Meltzer

Jews versus Stalinists in the Spanish Civil War

In the last three decades, since the publication of Albert Prago’s Jews in the international brigades in Spain in 1979 by Jewish Currents, there has been considerable interest in the massive role of Jewish fighters in the Spanish civil war. Most of them were within the orbit of the official Communist movement, which controlled and dominated the International Brigades – and also the narration of its later history.  As Gerben Zaagsma and Martin Sugarman argue, the Stalinist version of that history obscured the specifically Jewish dimension to their motivations. This Jewish dimension was retrieved in the 1970s and 1980s by Jewish radical groups like Jewish Currents in the US and Jewish Socialist in the UK. However, their important commemorative work tends to focus on the Communists of the International Brigades. Lenni  Brenner’s polemic Zionism in the Age of Dictators approached the issue from a different angle: showing that the Zionist movement had no interest in anti-fascism in Spain. However, although he also provides some interesting exceptions, his emphasis confirms the Stalinist historiography in marginalising the specifically Jewish motivations and the non-Stalinist participants.

In this blog post, I want to simply mention some of the Jewish participants in the Spanish Civil War who were also part of the anti-Stalinist movement, and specifically participants who were associated with the “Three and a Half International”, the anti-Stalinist socialist international that also included the Spanish POUM and the British ILP. The information is taken from Martin Sugarman, of AJEX, Association of Jewish Ex-Servicemen and Women, and his booklet Against Fascism. I have added hyperlinks. Material in italics comes from other sources, as given at the end of the extracts. (more…)

Roma Marquez Santo

I’m not sure whether or not I’ve linked already to this short interview with Roma Marquez Santo, POUM veteran of the Spanish Civil War, recently in Dublin. There is an inaccuracy in the title: I’m pretty sure Roma is not a veteran Spanish anarchist, but a veteran Spanish socialist, but thanks to WSM for publishing this anyway. He was in a POUM militia, and when the Popular Front government regularised the Republican army (as part of the Stalinist-led counter-revolution within the anti-fascist struggle) this became ‘s 29th Division. It was liquidated after the Barcelona “May events”, and after it was liquidated joined the 28th Division, which was basically an anarchist militia. Also, Roma was a member of the CNT (the anarcho-syndicalist affiliated union), whereas most Poumistas were in the UGT (the socialist affiliated union).

Sources: Helen Graham The Spanish Republic at War; Andy Durgan “The hidden story of the Spanish Revolution”; Harry Owens “Roma Martez Santo”.

P.S. Also at WSM: Biography of Dr John Creaghe, cosmopolitan Irish anarchist.

Poumist ephemera

This blog has been around long enough to now be the number one google hit for the term “Poumista”, and people clearly are coming here to find out about the POUM. However, I realise that I don’t have much actually about the POUM on this site. This post is not an attempt at any kind of comprehensive account of the POUM, but rather a disorganised pointer towards various sources of information, including some pieces of ephemera that I have recently come across.

First, some introductory texts: Poum at Wikipedia, Poum at Spartacus.

Other key wikipedia pages: Anti-Stalinist left, ILP Contingent, International Revolutionary Marxist Centre (aka London Bureau, Three and a Half International).

Recent bloggery: Justice Triumphs at La Bataille Socialiste, Markin on Trotsky on the POUM, Markin on the ortho-Trot International Communist League on the POUM, Markin on Andy Durgan on the POUM, Liam on Pierre Broué and Emile Teminé on the Spanish Civil War. All POUM posts at La Bataille Socialiste.

From the journals: The Spanish Left in its own words, Andy Durgan on the POUM and the Trotskyites, A Brandlerite militant in the POUM militia on the Huesca front, Keith Hassell on Trotsky on the POUM, Don Bateman on Georges Kopp and the Poum militias, Richardson and Rogers on Schwartz and Alba (Revolutionary History); A Danish Trotskyist in the POUM militia (What Next); The Foreign Legion of the Revolution (Libcom); Land and Freedom, Martine Vidal, The Hidden Story of the Revolution, Andy Durgan, The Meaning of a Defeat, Pelai Pagès (New Politics).

From the Marxist Internet Archive: The Manifesto of the POUM; Walter Held on Stalinism and the POUM; Pietro Fancelli Letters from Barcelona; The Weisbord Archive.

Ephemera: A Poum militia uniform. The flag of the Lenin Barracks; The flags of the Poum; The Philosophy Football POUM T-shirt.

My Poum pages: Roma Marquez Santo 2, Vicente Ferrer, Not Just Orwell…, Roma Marquez Santo, May 1, Poumish (a bloggish miscellany), From the archive of struggle, no.26, From the archive of struggle, no.7, Benjamin Péret: songs of the eternal rebels, Ramón J. Sender, Stephen Suleyman Schwartz on POUM historiography.

Blog notes

I don’t recommend Fatal Paradox often enough. This post is very, very interesting and very pertinent to the issues this blog covers. Extract:

Reading Mark Derby’s book Kiwi Compañeros (which compiles a wealth of primary source material detailing the involvement of New Zealanders in the Spanish Civil War) recently I was struck by the disjunction between the confused and often demoralising experiences of the some of the participants whose stories were reproduced in that volume and the traditional leftist narrative according to which the Spanish Civil War was the most glorious hour of the Popular Front and the struggle against Fascism.

I managed to miss this post at Boffy’s blog, introducing some of Comrade Bough’s favourite blogs, including, I am pleased to say, this one, and I find myself in fine company indeed. Not sure, though, I agree with Serge’s Fist’s analysis of the United Front and Popular Front, but need to read it more carefully. (And certainly I would endorse Trotsky’s excellent advice to the ILP. It is not unlike the advice I would give to the AWL in its foolishly positive response to the SWP’s sham unity letter, but that’s for another place.) Again, it’s a bit off the topic of this blog, but Arthur has some good posts about Iran.

I have other favours to acknowledge: Peter Storm for Vrije landen tegen Che en Obama, TNC for Friday round-up, Bob for Remembering Steve Cohen, Martin for Balancing beatitude and Loach, Garaudy and the reactionary left, Histomatist for In Defence of Leon Trotsky.

Talking of Ken Loach, here’s Norm on Loach’s strangebedfellows, the Chinese totalitarian regime. And, staying with Norm, on another topic I’ve covered here: Marx and politics, Kolakowski notwithstanding

And some other Histomatist posts of note: Sheila Rowbotham on the Tolpuddle Martyrs, Homage to John Saville and Hubert Harrison on how to review books. John Saville also got a lovely appreciation from Doreen Massey and Hilary Wainwright in the Gruaniad. Hubert Harrison features in this ISJ review.

Finally, also in ISJ, this is important: Luke Stobart’s review of Michael Eaude’s Triumph at Midnight of the Century: A Critical Biography of Arturo Barea. Barea is a vastly underrated person in the English-speaking world.

Arturo Barea

Arturo Barea: This drawing originally appeared with An Honest Man (March 6, 1975)

Poumerouma

The libertarian socialist tradition

New blog: Big Flame, on the history of this UK radical group of the 1970s.

Why Philosophy? Why Now? On the Revolutionary Legacies of Raya Dunayevskaya, CLR James and Anton Pannekoek, By David Black at The Hobgoblin

Andre Gorz, or the Ecological Demand, by Serge Audier at Principia Dialectica.

Anarchist Studies: Perspective 2009. On the legacy of Murray Bookchin.

Poster art, folk song and historical memory

More from BCNDesign: The everyday comes to Santa Coloma: Local things for local history. Graphic design in 1930s Spain.

History Today: The Mexican suitcase. British volunteers and Republican posters.

Rio Wang: Russian poster design and the war on coca-cola. Carlos Gordel and the zorzal.

George Szirtes: Fado da Tristeza.

Polish gentile, Jan Jagielski, chief archivist at the Emanuel Ringelblum Jewish Historical Institute in Warsaw, to receive the Irena Sendler Memorial Award from the Taube Foundation for Jewish Life and Culture.

The extraordinary anti-Nazi photo-montages of John Heartfield.

Scoop Review of Books: Kiwi Compañeros: NZ’s anti-Franco volunteers. See more in TNC‘s comment here. Which led me to these two great older posts: Fieldtrip to the International Center for Photography (Robert Capa, Gerda Taro, Francesc Torres and poster art). ¿Viva la Insurgencía?: The Spanish Civil War and the Legacy of the Totalitarian International Brigades. There’s plenty more TNC posts on memory and archives and on Communism.

Watch Land and Freedom at A Complex System of Pipes.

From the archive of struggle, no.14 (below the fold) (more…)

May 1

Read Terry (1,2)

Seven songs for Spring

I’ve been quite a reticent blogger until recently, but seem to have got it more or less worked out now, although I’m not as sociable as a good blogger should be. Nonetheless, I seem to have arrived in the ‘sphere, by being tagged for a meme by someone I consider a fairly big league blogger, Roland of But I Am A Liberal. The instructions are this:

“List seven songs you are into right now. No matter what the genre, whether they have words, or even if they’re not any good, but they must be songs you’re really enjoying now, shaping your spring. Post these instructions in your blog along with your 7 songs. Then tag 7 other people to see what they’re listening to.”

Well, here we go. Not very spring-like, I know.

1. Leonard Cohen “The Partisan”
Here’s two versions from YouTube – poor quality live, with Spanish subtitles, or good quality from the record, with cool slide show. Here’s the story of the song, originally “La complainte du partisan”, written in London during 1943, by Emmanuel D’Astier de la Vigerie (called “Bernard” in the French Resistance, a Stalinist til 1956, then an anti-Stalinist) and Anna Marly. (Here‘s Marly’s version.)

2. The Pogues “Lorca’s Novena”

YouTube here, last.fm here, homepage here.

Ignacio lay dying in the sand
A single red rose clutched in a dying hand
The women wept to see their hero die
And the big black birds gathered in the sky

Mother of all our joys, mother of all our sorrows
Intercede with him tonight
For all of our tomorrows

The years went by and then the killers came
And took the men and marched them up the hill of pain
And Lorca the faggot poet they left till last
Blew his brains out with a pistol up his arse

Mother of all our joys….

The killers came to mutilate the dead
But ran away in terror to search the town instead
But Lorca’s corpse, as he had prophesied, just walked away
And the only sound was the women in the chapel praying

Mother of all our joys….

I was tempted to pick “The Sick Bed of Cuchulainn”,  some of the backstory here.

3. Victor Jara “Luchin”

See also two other songs I love: Arlo Guthrie’s “Victor Jara” (words by the late Adrian Mitchell), and Calexico’s “Victor Jara’s Hands”. [Download mps of last from HaHa Music, Captains Dead, Tonegents.]

4. Manu Chao “Desaparecido”

Last.fm/YouTube; homepage.

I carry on me a pain and sorrow,
that doesn’t let me breathe,
I carry on me a final sentence,
That’s always pushing me along

They call me the disappearer
when they come I’ve already gone,
Flying I come, flying I go
Quickly, quickly on a lost course.

5. Gotan Project “Santa Maria (Del Buen Ayre)”

YouTube/Last.fm; MySpace. Everyone knows this I guess. It’s a bit too ubiquitous, on loads of TV ads, but it’s still great.

6. Woody Guthrie “Hard Travellin'”

I wanted to pick something by Woody, as I’ve been listening to him a lot recently. Browsing through YouTube, I found a slightly lame Klezmatics version of “Mermaid Avenue”, some live footage of “Ranger’s Command” from 1945, and “All You Fascist’s Are Bound To Lose” with Sonny Terry from a (WWII-era?) radio show. However, “Hard Travellin'” is the Woody song I first fell in love with, many years ago.

7. The Durutti Column “Homage To Catalonea

Lovely summery Spanish guitar from my favourite post-punk proto-glitch outfit. On album Vini Reilly. Included in a great playlist here.

I’m tagging: Renegade Eye, Fat Man on a Keyboard, Terry Glavin, Francis Sedgemore, Hak Mao, History is Made at Night and (why not?) Nick Cohen.

Abel Paz

Coatesy:

A Great of the Workers’ Movement: Abel Paz (1921 – 2009).

Abel Paz, pen name of Diego Camacho, has died.

Brought to politics in the 1930s as a  member of the Confederación Nacional del Trabajo (CNT) (CNT Obituary) Diego fought in Spain against Franco and the counter-revolution. A member of the legendary Durruti column he took part in some of the most violent batttles.  As a supporter of the libertarian syndicalist side he participated in the – failed – 1937 Barcelona combat against the Stalinist take-over. At the end of the war, when Catalonia finally had gone down in 1939,  Paz survived and fled to France. The author of a number of important histories of the Spanish war, he remained a committed anarchist all his life, saying that,

El anarquismo invoca una vida completamente diferente. Trata de vivir esta utopía un poco cada día.

Anarchism means a completely different  form of life. Try to live a little of  this utopia every day.

If anyone on the left dismisses anarchism,  one should contemplate the life of this hero of the international workers’ movement.

Hat-tip to Entdinglichung (here), some more details (in French) of his initial internment in France, and  later war-time armed opposition in the Spanish maquis to Franco (here.)

Read “Barcelona in Flames”, an extract from his Durruti book, here.

Poumish

Some recent blog posts on the topics close to my heart:

Miscellany

א New at Libcom: Joe Jacobs (Solidarity UK) on the organisational question. (More Joe Jacobs here.)

א At the Morningstar Ranch (Jim Parks, The Legendary). Extract:

[Lou] Gottlieb had a concert grand he put in a hen house at the Morningstar Ranch. There, he played Brahms and other classical works. He meditated, did yoga and clowned while his sidekick, another musician named Ramón Sender Barayón, the son of Ramón J. Sender, the exiled Spanish novelist, played it straight. Sender was literally born amid the sound of machine guns during “Red October,” within close proximity of the opening battles of the Spanish Civil War, in 1934. His father, a native of Aragon, was a co-founder of Partido Obrero de Unificación Marxista, or P.O.U.M., the Trotskyist militia whose ranks were filled with international volunteers, including such literary luminaries as George Orwell, author of 1984.

א liber.rhetoricae: on slogans, taglines, enthymemes, and figures of brevity in general. Extract:

Trotsky as agitator allows his contact with the lived experience of the Spanish people to challenge Trotsky as theorist or propagandist. He allows what he learns to challenge his assumptions about historical laws and revolutionary processes. This is important. “Are we not confronted with an historical paradox?” Trotsky asks, and in asking opens the possibility that any doctrine of continuity between world revolution and the Russian revolution requires urgent review and perhaps revision in light of facts discovered on the ground in Spain. Set aside your views on Trotsky or his analysis or the success of Trotsky’s enterprise. This is rhetoric as method, it is the very definition of a rational process, and it is dialectical in character in the classical sense of dialectics. This is a community engaged in review, interpretation, and argument, in the form of communicators testing their arguments in live conditions.

א Jim  Sleeper: Gaza needs a George Orwell now. Extract:

If a new Orwell informs us that Israel, although it’s hideously cruel and wrong, isn’t the only evil enemy of freedom in Gaza, will anyone want to know?

א Tom Reimann: 7 Historical Figures Who Were Absurdly Hard To Kill. Extract:

#4: Leon Trotsky

Why He Had to Go

In 1917, Trotsky was Lenin’s right hand man when the Bolsheviks came to power in Russia. He created and commanded the Red Army and was a member of the Politburo, which oversaw all other branches of Soviet government and made all policy decisions. He also wore glasses and had a wicked goatee, so you know he read books and shit.


Quiet, I’m reading this shit.

After Lenin died, Trotsky was expelled from the Communist party and kicked out of Russia. In return, Trotsky attempted to enter the United States to testify before Congress that Stalin was a major douchebag. Upon hearing this, Stalin decided his next move would be to expel Trotsky from life.

How He Went Down

Trotsky was denied entry into the U.S. and eventually found his way to a home in Mexico City. It was there that he was attacked by Ramon Mercader, an assassin working for Stalin.

While Trotsky was home reading some shit, Mercader buried an ice axe into the back of his skull.

This just pissed Trotsky off.

He stood up from his desk, axe in head, and spit on Mercader. Then he went after the assassin, wrestling with him. Trotsky’s bodyguards heard the commotion (where the fuck were they a few minutes ago?) and came running in to subdue the assassin and get Trotsky to the hospital.

Trotsky made it to the hospital and underwent surgery before finally dying a day later from complications related to being brained with a goddamn ice axe. We’re hoping he lived long enough to fire those bodyguards.

א Also: Barcelona Photoblog, Political Chess – Alekhine vrs Trotsky – Apocryphal Account, Typically Spanish: The man who killed Leon Trotsky.

Histories

On anarchism in the Spanish civil war:

Spanish Anarchists shooting at Jesus

Black Flag’s review of the AK Press title.

On Iberian culture:

[...]I’m going to start a new feature called “So Typically Spanish” after what George Orwell would always remark when a Spaniard, well, did something so typically Spanish in “Homage to Catalonia.” The one example that sticks out in my mind right now (since I don’t have the book to reference, it’s on loan) is how when he got shot in the throat and ended up in the hospital, two Spanish acquaintances that he never spoke to on the front line, saw him in the hospital, talked to him briefly, then gave him a week worth of rations of tobacco.[...]

On democratic socialism in Britain:

From the Workers’ Group in the Bolshevik party:

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