Sunday, April 28, 2013

Marina Ginestà of the Juventudes Comunistas, aged 17, overlooking Barcelona during the Spanish Civil War - 21 July 1937

A year earlier, Generalissimo Francisco Franco launched a military coup against the Second Spanish Republic (declared 1931). After the immediate resistance (by socialists, Marxists, anarchists, and republicans), the anarchists (CNT-FAI militias) controlled Catalonia until the PCE eventually influenced the Republican government into attacking the anarchists and P.O.U.M. ("Party of Marxist Unification" - anti-Stalinist Marxists) during the Barcelona May Days (1937) and suppressing the anarchist Spanish Revolution begun when the anarchy-syndicalist labor union (the CNT, 1.5 to 2 million workers strong) seized arms from the state to fight off Franco. Barcelona fell to Franco on the 26th of January, 1939.

The photograph was taken on top of the Hotel Colón.

Anyone interested in the Spanish civil war should read Homage to Catalonia by George Orwell. It is a nonfiction memoir of his time fighting against the fascists in the Spanish civil war. He initially fought alongside the communists, but their treatment of the anarchists soured his opinion of them and largely influenced his later novels. here are two main ideological currents of communism - Marxism and anarchism. There were also two Marxist groups, the PCE (aligned with the Soviet Union) and the P.O.U.M. (not aligned with the Soviet Union). Orwell fought with the P.O.U.M. for the whole time, though he later wished to fight for the CNT-FAI anarchists to which they were allied. The P.O.U.M. and the CNT-FAI, though representing different strains of communism (Marxism and anarcho-syndicalism, respectively), stood together until the bitter end. The CNT-FAI was much larger and controlled Catalonia, and so the P.O.U.M. often played a support role, but was suppressed even more harshly than the CNT-FAI by the "Stalinist" PCE. So Orwell fought with Marxist communists (P.O.U.M.), allied to anarchist communists (CNT-FAI), and had his militia betrayed and suppressed by communists (PCE). This was the beginning of his disdain for Marxism-Leninism (and the case of Stalin in particular), but he remained a libertarian communist (somewhere between libertarian Marxist and anarchist) all his life. In Animal Farm, the pig Napoleon (a stand-in for Stalin) is clearly the villain in the end, but it is his similarity with the humans that came before that condemns him; Orwell saw Stalin as too similar to the liberals, capitalists, and imperialists, especially in his handling of alliances with respect to the Spanish Civil War. He wrote 1984 as a warning to the left as to what to be ever vigilant for during the revolution, so that it would liberate and not oppress.


  1. So what you're saying is, "Here's Marina Ginestà waiting to see if she can put a bullet through George Orwell," n'est-ce pas?