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
Posted in Audio, Books, Europe, History, Spanish Civil War, Video
Tagged 1984, barcelona, eric blair, George Orwell, homage to catalonia, poum, stalin
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:
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
Posted in Activism, Audio, Biography, Books, Europe, History, News Articles, Philosophy, Politics, Video
Tagged ill fares the land, postwar, tony judt
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.
Posted in Africa, Art, Culture, Europe, History, Movies & TV, Spy, Video, War, WWII
Tagged casablanca, Humphrey Bogart, ingrid bergman, victor laszlo
The XV International Brigade, nicknamed Brigada Abraham Lincoln, fought against Franco for the Spanish Republic in the Spanish Civil War. Composed primarily of volunteer battalions from Britain and America, but also Canada, Ireland, the Balkans, France and Cuba, the 15th fought valiantly, and suffered heavy casualties, at Jarama, Brunete, Teruel and the Ebro River. Here is the Christmas greetings card sent out by the XV International Brigade and comrades in the Republican Army in 1937….
, a 100-year-old veteran of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade, who was its last known survivor, passed away on February 28, 2016. NY Times Obituary
Watch The Spanish Earth: