Homage to Catalonia – Orwell

If you want to know what happened in the Spanish Civil War. This is the book to read.

These are just some quotes that I really liked from the book. Sorry about typos and such.
  • Summary from the introduction: The communists proposed to fight the war without any reference to any particular political idea beyond a defense of democracy from a fascist enemy. then, when the war was won, the political and social problems would be solved, but until the war should be won, any dissension over these problems could only weaken he united front against facism.
    Eventually orwell came to understand that this was not the practical policy he had first thought it to be. He realized that the condition ofSpain being what it was, even the best policies must issue in some form of dictatorship. in sum, he believed that the war was revolution or nothing, and that the people of Span would not fight and dime for a democracy which was admittedly a bourgeois democracy.
    Orwell’s disaffection from the Communist Party was the result of his discovery that the Communist Party’s real intention was to prevent the revolution from ever being instituted at all – “The thing for which the Communists were working was no to postpone the Spanish revolution till a more suitable time, but to make sure it never happened.” The movement of events, led by the Communists, who had the prestige and the supplies of Russia, was always to the right, and all protest was quieted by the threat that the war would be lost if the ranks were broken, which in effect meant that Russian supplies would be withheld if the Communists lead was not followed.
    Meanwhile the war was being lost because the government more and more distrusted the non-Comunist malitia units, praticulary those of the Anarchists. “I have described how were were armed, or not armed, on the Aragon front. there is very little doubt that arms were deliberately withheld lest too many of them should get into the hands of the Anarchists, who would afterward use them for a revolutionary purpose; consequently, the big Aragon offensive which would have made Franco draw back from Bilbao and possibly from Madrid, never happened.” (it goes on and is a great summary of the book)
  • Barcelona at the beginning: It was the first time that i had even been in a town where the working class was in the saddle. practically any building of any size had be seized by the workers and ws draped with red flags or with the red and black flags of the Anarchists; every wall was scrawled with the hammer and fickle and with the initials of the revolutionary parties; almost every church had been bugged and it’s images burnt. every shop and face had an inscription saying it had been collectivized. waiters and shop-walkers looked you in the face and treated you as an equal. Servile and even ceremonial forms of speech had temporarily disappeared. nobody said ‘se├▒or’ or ‘Don’ or even ‘Usted’; everyone called every else ‘Comrade.’ Tipping had been forbidden by law. there were no private motor cars, they had all been commandeered, and all the trams and taxis and much of the other transport were painted red and black. Revolutinary posters were everywhere. loud-speakers were bellowing revolutionary songs all day and far into the night. in outward appearance it was a town in which the wealthy classes had practically ceased to exist. except for a small number of women and foreigners there are no ‘well-dressed’ people at all. practically everyone wore rough working-class clothes or blue overalls.
  • So far as one could judge the people were contented and hopeful. there was no unemployment, and the price of living was still extremely low; you saw very few conspicuously destitute people, and no beggars except the gipsies. Above all there was a belief in the revolution and the future, a feeling of having suddenly emerged into an area of equality and freedom.
  • I had dropped more or less by chance into the only community of any size in Western Europe where the political consciousness and disbelief in capitalism were more normal than their opposites. up here in aragon one was among tens of thousands of people, mainly though not entirely of working class origin, all living at the same level and mingling on therms of equality. there is a sense in which it would be true to say that one was experiencing a foretastes of Socialism,by which i mean that the prevailing mental atmosphere was that of Socialism. many of the normal motives of civilized life -snobbishness, money-grubbing, fear of the boss, etc – had simply ceased to exist. the ordinary class-division of cieitey had disappeared to an extent that is it almost unthinkable in the money-tainterd air of England; there was no one there except the peasants and ourselves, and no one owned anyone else as his master. of course such a state of affairs could not last. however much one cursed at the time, one realized afterward that one had been in contact with something strange and valuable. one had been in a community where hoe was more normal than apathy or cynicism, where the word ‘comrade’ stood for comradeship and not, as in most countries, for humbug. one had breathed the air of equality . i am well awry that it is now the fashion to deny that socialism as anything to do with equality. in every country in the world a huge tribe of party-hacks and sleek little professors are busy ‘proving’ that socials means no more than a planned state-capitalism with the grab-motive left intact. but fortunately there also exists a vision of Socialism quite different from this. the thing that attracts ordinary men to Socialism and makes them willing to risk their skins for it, the ‘mystique’ of socialism, is the idea of equality; to hthe vast majority of people Socialism means a classes society, or it means nothing at all. and it was here that thos few months in the militia were valuable to me. for the Spanish militias, while they lasted, were a sort of microcosm of a classless society. in the community where no one was on the make, where there was a shortage of everything but no privilege and no boot-licking, one got, perhaps, a crude forecast of what the opening states of Socialism might be lie. and after all, instead of disillusioning me it deeply attracted me. the effect was to make my desire to see Socialiem established much more actual that it iahd been before.
  • The trade union members who formed themselves into militias and chased the Fascists back to Zaragoza in the first few weeks of war had done so largely because they ┬ábelieved themselves to be fighting for working-class control; but it was becoming more and more oblivious that working class control was a lost cause, and the common people, especially the town proletariat who have to fill the ranks in any war, civil or forigne, could no be blamed for a certain apathy.
  • a fat man eating quails while children are begin for bread is a disgusting sight, but you are less likely to see it when you are within the sound of the guns.