The Spanish Civil War and other failures

“Our brave legionnaires and regular soldiers have taught the reds what is to be men, and on the way, they also taught the wives of the reds, that now, finally, they have known true men, not castrated milicanios. Kicking and crying will not save them”

– General de Llano, Spanish Fascist

“Long live death!”

– General Astray, Spanish Fascist

I believe I know now why the Fascists in Spain won the Civil War in the thirties, although I’m still baffled as to why Franco was allowed to rule like an emperor until his death in the seventies. The Fascist victory had nothing to do with airplanes from Germany. It was yet another example (albeit a heightened one) of the usual pile of sectarian crap that has plagued the Left since the French Revolution.

To those who think that the Stalinists came into Spain and ruined everything, it bears pointing out that the Communists’ counterparts amongst the anarchists were just as intransigent and factional as any other group that was loosely defending the Spanish republic. The notion of a “united front” was present in the minds of the anti-fascists, but other than a mutual hatred of ultra conservative fascism, the unity stopped there. The myriad of itty-bitty groups were not and did not want to coordinate with each other. It was the same hardliner, no-compromise approach that’s found echoes throughout the world since the beginning of modernity.

Jacobin Magazine recently held an interview with the Greek Communist Party, an organization that honestly has some good ideas but zero intention of ever sharing them with anyone else. Hardliner left-wing groups all claim a monopoly on truth, and in the case of Greece, you’re either with them or against them. Jacobin is just as bad in this regard; the sheer din of competing voices make any kind of unity impossible.

The Chinese communists were correct in their approach towards getting rid of the Japanese army and the reactionary Kuomintang forces. The first priority, above all else, was to engage and physically defeat the enemy. Ideological niceties took a back seat during the Revolutionary War in China – one can deal with niggling philosophical details AFTER dealing with the immediate, concrete threat of annihilation at the hands of the fascists.
In Spain, there were at least four different groups vying for supremacy in the Republic, and in at least the anarchist section, they wanted to rush in societal changes even before engaging an enemy that wound up sweeping the floor with their faces. The four major groups (Russia-backed Communists, the Trotskyite POUM, the anarchist movement and all of its many contingents, relatively moderate Republicans, and sub-nationalists of various stripes) did not coalesce and agree to cohesion, any kind of cohesion. This childish lack of co-operation during an emergency period made it quite easy for a fascist victory. It almost goes without saying that the fascists of Italy, Germany, and Spain had no problem working together.

I happen to belong to a radical group which is fairly open-minded, and they don’t seem to have a problem working with other groups on the left side of the dial. Still, like the harder core-than –thou Fourth International, they throw a fit when mentioning any other group or sympathy for anyone other than approved figures like Trotsky and Lenin. This is despite the fact that Lenin himself urged the left-wing to deal with concrete problems first and ideological dribble-drabble later.

Win the war. That should be the keywords of any radical operating today, and it should have been the keyword of the radicals in Spain. You can work on the societal revolution later, AFTER defeating the enemy. There needs to be a greater emphasis on a broad front, and as long as squabbles take place between groups and microgroups, the Right will continue their hegemony. Forget this fifth column nonsense now – it does no one any good, and neither does intransigent, no-compromise pigheadedness.

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