Homage to Catalonia
fascination with Spain’s War
I waited a long time to get round to this. I read Homage to Catalonia as an audio book and was hooked on it for a few days in the car, driving around my homeland of Scotland.
I’ve always loved Spain and the Spaniards. I’ve visited many times and always found that they “don’t mention the war” with good reason. Neighbours betrayed neighbours and brothers betrayed brothers in the some of the worst exhibits of what it means to be human.
Orwell, like many young, British Socialist women and men jumped aboard trains and ships to lend a hand to the goodies, those opposing Franco. Unfortunately, like in almost all Civil Wars, the lines weren’t quite so clearly drawn for them when they arrived.
Orwell served in the POUM, the Workers’ Party of Marxist Unification, but it soon became clear that it wasn’t a straight up White Hats versus Black Hats affair. And for comparison we can look at almost any Civil War down the centuries. It becomes every man for himself and any dream that they are, just wars, turns out to be exactly that, a dream. Dreams cynically manipulated and marketed by, yes you guessed it, the rich and privileged who don’t of course appear on the front lines.
For direct comparison you can look at Culloden & Bannockburn (neither of them just Scotland against England as they are commonly portrayed), the American Civil War et al…always serving the 1%. Sides and affiliations changing by the hour as they jostle to see where the most financial benefit and power lies.
There are many other good books about the Spanish Civil War and its aftermath…some suggested below, but Orwell’s classic is best at relaying from first hand experience, the utter futility of war and the cynicism and heartlessness of the power hungry.
The aftershocks are still being felt today. The Catalan people still fight for their Independence and most recently the politics of the Jack Boot has reared its very ugly head as democracy is denied to those who aren’t equal enough among equals!
Spain, the Spaniards, Catalonia and the Catalans remain beautiful and welcoming.
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