Eric Blair is better known as George Orwell, author and journalist. Orwell’s work includes 1984, Animal Farm and Homage to Catalonia, his personal account of his experiences during the Spanish Civil War. [At Poumista]
John Cornford was a Cambridge–educated poet. He fought initially with the Partido Obrero de Unificación Marxista (POUM) and saw action at Perdiguera and Aragon in 1936 before falling ill and returning to England. He quickly returned, having recruited several friends, to join the English Battalion of the International Brigades, and was badly wounded at the Battle of Madrid in November 1936. He was killed at the battle of Lopera on 27 December 1936, shortly after returning to the front. [At Poumista]
Bob Doyle was an Irish member of the International Brigades. He was captured in 1938 at Calaceite, near the Aragon front, along with Irish Brigade leader Frank Ryan. After spending 11 months in a concentration camp he was among those exchanged for Italian prisoners of war. He died at the age of 92 on 22 January 2009. [At Poumista]
Frank Ryan, a prominent member of the IRA, led a group of Irish volunteers to fight with the International Brigades in Spain. He fought at the Battle of Jarama and was seriously wounded in March 1937. He was later captured and imprisoned by Nationalist forces before being released to the Germans in 1940. [At Poumista]
June 24, 2011 raincoatoptimism
TOMORROW MARKS THE 108TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE BIRTH OF GEORGE ORWELL, WHO WAS BORN IN INDIA, THEN UNDER THE BRITISH RAJ. While unquestionably his literary output places him within the ranks of the most well-received writers of all time, his politics has always had people guessing, often not happy with the established view that he was of the Left.
Even the MI5, who had been monitoring him for two decades, admitted they were unsure of how to pin his views. A special branch report had noted Orwell advancing what they called “communist views” around some of his Indian friends, had wore ‘bohemian dress’, and while not part of the Communist Party orthodoxy, was a “bit of an anarchist”.
The MI5 officer in charge also read Orwell’s literature in order to try and gain a concrete idea of his political persuasion. On reading, among other things, The Lion and the Unicorn, it was his contention that “he does not hold with the Communist Party nor they with him”.
However the text many highlight, Why I Write, seems to have the answer: “every line of serious work that I have written since 1936 has been written, directly or indirectly, against totalitarianism, and for democratic socialism, as I understand it”.
Have Orwell enthusiasts been satisfied with this admission? Quite the contrary. Rather than being the answer everyone wants, it is often only the point of departure when trying to figure out the political Orwell. [READ THE REST]
Kevin Keating versus Stephen Schwartz and Stuart Christie. On Rosa Luxemburg’s letters: Timothy Snyder, Andrew Coates, Christopher Hitchens.
- Orwellianism in the consumer age (poumista.wordpress.com)
- The Intimate Orwell (nybooks.com)
- Poummm (poumista.wordpress.com)
- Scottish anarchist in legal battle against imprisonment by Franco regime (guardian.co.uk)
“a real Socialist is one who wishes – not merely conceives it as desirable, but actively wishes – to see tyranny overthrown”. –George Orwell
First, some Orwellian material, and below the fold some other recent gleanings.
Customer: Do you have a copy of 1986?
Customer: Yeah, Orwell.
Me: Oh – 1984.
Customer: No, I’m sure it’s 1986; I always remember it because it’s the year I was born.
Do not buy this book if you’re expecting to find out anything at all about 1984, as this writer seems to have been living on a different planet. I was trying to do a bit of research into the influence of New Wave on cross-over dance music in the Mid-Eighties, but I found “1984” a complete waste of time… Jackson’s “Thriller”?(the soundtrack of the summer, and the biggest selling album of all-time) – not mentioned; Frankie Goes To Hollywood (their breakthrough year leading to world pop domination) – not a whisper; Style Council? (Not Paul Weller’s finest hour, but still an honest nod to the white soul roots of Mod culture) – you’d have thought they didn’t exist if you read this book. Nik Kershaw? Ray Parker Junior? Sister Sledge? Nope, nope nope. Instead this man seems to have moped around in his room and at work, watching some kind of depressing news channel (was his remote broken? This isn’t explained – but you’d have thought they’d have had MTV on at least one of the channels in his office). Orwell completely fails to capture the uplifting vibe that was the pop explosion of the summer of ’84… maybe he lived in Norwood. 0 Stars.
Oh, and don’t read “the Road to Wigan Pier” either, as we drove around for ages last August Bank Holiday before asking a traffic warden, who said that the sea was about 30 miles away, by which time it was too late. I don’t think Orwell had actually ever been to Wigan. What does he do – just sit in his room making this stuff up for kicks or something? 0 stars also.”
Or listening matter: Homage to Catalonia by George Orwell, read by Jeremy Northam.
And more on the hats of the UHP:
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.
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.
- Spanish Civil War on Liverpool’s Catholic population (liverpoolhistorysocietyquestions.wordpress.com)
- TOC – War in History, Vol. 18, No. 2 (warstudies.wordpress.com)
- Leading Photographers: Gerda Taro (clikclique.wordpress.com)
- Capa’s Life (phillbrowncontextual.wordpress.com)
One of Leigh Fermor’s colleagues, another distinguished classicist named Montague Woodhouse, once told me that Greek villagers urged him to strike the hardest possible blows against the Nazis, so as to make the inevitable reprisals worthwhile. He lived up to this by demolishing the Gorgapotamos viaduct in 1942, wrecking Nazi communications. But the brutality of the combat doesn’t negate that moment of civilized gallantry at Mount Ida, where the idea of culture over barbarism also scored a brief triumph. (Woodhouse went on to become a Conservative politician and active Cold Warrior, but while fighting Hitler he was quite happy to work with Communist and nationalist fighters, and he wrote in his memoirs that “the only bearable war is a war of national liberation.”)
What a cast of literally classic characters this league of gentleman comprised. Bernard Knox went with poet John Cornford to fight for the Spanish Republic, was later parachuted into France and Italy to arrange the covert demolition and sabotage of Vichy and Mussolini, and, after the war, set up the Center for Hellenic Studies at Yale. Nicholas Hammond, who had walked rifle in hand over the mountains of Epirus and Macedonia, later suggested from his study of the terrain that those seeking the burial treasure of Philip of Macedon might consider digging at Vergina. (He was right.) Some of the brotherhood was very much to the left: Basil Davidson helped organize Tito’s red partisans in Bosnia, and after the war he went to work with the African rebels who fought against fascist Portugal’s dirty empire. Frank Thompson, brother of the British Marxist historian Edward Thompson, was liaison officer to the resistance in Bulgaria before being betrayed and executed. Others were more ambivalent: Sir Fitzroy Maclean was a Tory aristocrat but helped persuade Churchill that Tito’s forces in Yugoslavia were harder fighters than the monarchists when it came to killing Nazis. On the more traditional side of British derring-do, Billy McLean and Julian Amery emerged from the guerrilla resistance in Albania with a lively hatred of Communism and later took part in several quixotic attempts to “roll back” the Iron Curtain. Col. David Smiley saw irregular action in almost every theater, and in the 1960s and 1970s he organized the almost unique defeat of a Communist insurgency in Oman.
Now the bugle has sounded for the last and perhaps the most Byronic of this astonishing generation.
Many will remember the TV show This is Your Life. Greek television had their own version, and in 1972 it was Paddy’s turn to be embarrassed and surprised by meeting again people that he had come across in his life. His surprise and clear delight at meeting with the ‘Abduction Gang’ of Cretan Andartes is clear. The ‘senior’ partisans, Manoli and George (see picture left) are the first two guests, and they seem barely changed.
The highlight must be when the presenter introduces a slightly frail General Heinrich Kreipe. Paddy is delighted to see him again, and immediately starts to talk to the General in German saying how good it is to see him after all these years. (more…)
Surrealist Leonora Carrington, an accomplished painter and writer, passed away in Mexico City on May 25. She was the author of (among other books) The House of Fear: Notes from Down Below. The New York Times ran an obituary on May 26, describing her as “one of the last living links to the world of André Breton.”
The Marxists Internet Archive has made available a 1958 piece by Raya Dunayevskaya called “Colonial Revolts and the Creativity of People.”
The editors of the journal Revolutionary History have released a new issue on the Iranian revolutionary movement, “The Left in Iran: 1941-1957″ (Vol. 10, No. 3). Unfortunately, this valuable resource for the history of international Trotskyism isn’t widely distributed in the U.S.
Poetry Magazine included four of the new John Ashbery’s translations from Arthur Rimbaud’s Illuminations in its April issue (Royalty; To a Reason; Morning of Drunkenness;Genie). The book is now available.
News & Letters has compiled a list of all of the texts by Raya Dunayevskaya that have been reproduced in the print and online versions of the newspaper since 1997.
Needless to say, there is much of great interest here. A cursory set of recommendations includes:
A Restatement of Some Fundamentals of Marxism against ‘pseudo-Marxism’ An excerpt from an important polemic directed against Joe Carter, one of the main theorists of the Workers Party’s bureaucratic collectivist analysis of the U.S.S.R. This piece is a response by Dunayevskaya (Freddie Forest) to an attack by Carter on a 1942 text (“Production for Production’s Sake”) by C.L.R. James (J.R. Johnson).
The Revolt of the Workers and the Plan of the Intellectuals, Parts I and II Excerpts from a major text directed against two representatives of orthodox U.S. Trotskyism (George Novak and John Wright). This dates from the period when the State-Capitalist Tendency operated as a minority in the Socialist Workers Party (1947-August 1951).
Rough Notes on Hegel’s Science of Logic: Part I (Preface and Introduction) / Part II (Doctrine of Being) / Part III (Doctrine of Essence) / Part IV (Doctrine of Notion) • A four-part serialization of Dunayevskaya’s important study of the entirety of Hegel’s (larger) Logic undertaken in 1960 and 1961. The document appears in The Power of Negativity: Selected Writings on the Dialectic in Hegel and Marx.
Sorry about slow blogging. Until I return, go spend time at Historical Underbelly (not sure which of us got that template first), Journeymanblog, New Appeal to Reason, Next on the Left, Obliged To Offend, or Slack Bastard.