Spain in 1936 was a stage that the world observed as Fascism and Communism, Capitalism and Anarchism struggled for control in the secularly divided Spain. In the midst of this in the historic town of Barcelona a little known writer by the name of Eric Blair known the world round as George Orwell came to Spain to report on the war and in the ensuing frenzy of the worker controlled territory of Catalonia he joined a militia.
The significance of this work as both a historical document and a foreshadowing of things to come is still as poignant now as ever. The Spanish Civil War was dwarfed between the two World Wars but nevertheless served as a deadly reminder to the new world that was emerging. From life in the trenches, being cold and very bored to the dry humor than ensues from a rag tag militia confronting a professional army Orwell paints a very casual view of war and takes an almost relaxed tone to the entire affair which only lasted a couple months.
This report prepared by Ryan Scott Waggaman
Orwell went to Spain in 1936 and later published this account of the Spanish Civil War. He arrived in Barcelona to find an anarchist-run utopia where 70% of businesses were collectivized by the workers, employment of labor prohibited, class distinctions eradicated, and health care universally available. Orwell joined the Partido Obrero de Unificacion Marxista to defend Catalonia against the Fascists. His account documents his dispatches to Aragon, Sargossa, and then Huesca where he was involved in the holding attack that drew Fascist troops away from the Anarchist attack on Jaca Road. Orwell details his involvement in May Days (when government assault guards tried to overtake the collectivized Telephone Exchange from the Anarchists) and the Communist propaganda campaign against the Anarchists that effectively handed victory to Franco's forces. Intermingled with this autobiographical account of the war is an explanation of the meaning of the contradictory political forces shaping Europe in the 1930's and Orwell's personal struggle with the use of language to manipulate ideas.
This report prepared by Jennifer Martin-Romme