Category Archives: Europe

Barcelona v. Las Palmas match played without fans amid Catalonia vote

The match match between FC Barcelona and UD Las Palmas was played with empty stands at Camp Nou in protest of the Spanish government’s actions in Catalonia. (Alex Caparros / Getty Images)

Amazing irony here. Barcelona plays Las Palmas in an empty stadium due to the vote today for Catalonian independence from Spain. Barcelona is in Catalonia. Las Palmas is in the Canary Islands. In the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939) one of the great fears of the Nationalists was that the Republican government would allow Catalonia to split from Spain. When the Nationalists launched the war to overthrow the elected Republican government their top general, Francisco Franco, was flown from the Canary Islands to lead the insurgency. In the decades that followed the Nationalist victory, a victory aided and abetted by Hitler and Mussolini, Franco brutalized the Catalonians. One of the only avenues left for them to get back at him, and hold on to their independence, was through their beloved soccer club– Barcelona. Today Las Palmas wore the Spanish national flag on their uniforms to protest the vote. History rhymes in mysterious ways. Barcelona won the game! We’ll see what happens with the vote.

George Orwell: From 1936 to 1984

Eric Blair’s (aka George Orwell) masterpiece “1984” is suddenly the flavor of the month again, with good reason. But one can’t fully understand the motivations and experiences that led him to write it without having also read his unforgettable memoir from his time fighting for the Republic in the Spanish Civil War– “Homage to Catalonia.” Late in life he wrote: “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.”

Read the text online: Homage to Catalonia 

Or listen>

Tony Judt – Past Imperfect, Present Impotent, Future ?

Tony Judt wrote this about the state of the Left in America in his book Ill Fares The Land …

“We no longer have political movement. While thousands of us may come together for a rally or march, we are bound together on such occasions by a single shared interest. Any effort to convert such interests into collective goals is usually undermined by the fragmented individualism of our concerns. Laudable goals – fighting climate change, opposing war, advocating public healthcare or penalizing bankers – are united by nothing more than the expression of emotion. In our political as in our economic lives, we have become consumers: choosing from a broad gamut of competing objectives, we find it hard to imagine ways or reasons to combine these into a coherent whole. We must do better than this.”

Taking the recent election as evidence Judt, who passed away in 2010, was right on target (no pun intended). Here are some valuable web resources for further investigation of this important thinker:

https://www.c-span.org/video/?189437-1/postwar-history-europe-since-1945

http://www.nybooks.com/articles/2010/04/29/ill-fares-the-land/

http://www.prospectmagazine.co.uk/magazine/tony-judt-interview

The Strange Death of Liberal America

Tony Judt’s Obituary in the Guardian

In today’s America, neoconservatives generate brutish policies for which liberals provide the ethical fig leaf. There really is no other difference between them.”
Tony Judt, Reappraisals: Reflections on the Forgotten Twentieth Century

La Marseillaise Casablanca

Released in January 1943, when the most important battle of the war, the battle of Stalingrad, was still raging, with Normandy still a year and a half in the future, and the tide not yet turned against Hitler’s war machine. Most of Europe and North Africa was under the jackboot of Nazi tyranny. Many of the actors in the scene were actual refugees who had fled from the Nazis, so the emotions were real. This celluloid moment may capture the spirit of hope and resistance better than any other. It is a true testament to the power of movies.

In real life Jean Moulin, murdered by the Gestapo in 1943, became the symbol of the French Resistance.