republican spain

It’s a shame more people don’t know who Jack White is. He was born to an Irish Protestant military family but became disillusioned with the British Empire during his service and joined the burgeoning Home Rule movement in Ireland, later becoming good friends with James Connolly and becoming involved in the socialist backed labour movement.

It was actually White who suggested to Connolly the formation of the Irish Citizens Army to protect striking workers from the police. When Connolly was sentenced to death for his role in the Easter Rising, Jack tried to instigate a miners strike in Wales in order to pressure the British government. Post 1916 he helped found the Republican Congress, a far left Irish Republican organization, in 1934.

He then travelled to Spain during the Spanish Civil War as a medic with the Red Cross, and while in Barcelona was impressed with the CNT-FAI’s revolution and was drawn into the anarchist cause, partially due to his own growing anti-Stalinist and anti-statist views which made him a misfit among the orthodox socialists in Ireland. Upon his return he wrote a great first hand account of the ‘37 May Days and campaigned in Britain and Ireland for the cause of anarchist Spain. He remained involved with the anarchist cause for the remainder of his life, dying in 1946.

@takashi0 I have a pretty good idea on what will happen if Antifa ever gets serious/well armed or a civil war breaks out:

It will fall apart. It happened in Spain. For all their talk about presenting a “united Front” against Fascism, Republican Spain collapsed from infighting, disloyalty, and purges. Even the Abraham Lincoln Brigade, despite being filled with Americans who had experienced stable government all their lives, was subject to problems, as people with the right politics were promoted to command over people with tactical and strategic competence. It’s like this with Socialism everywhere. National Socialists (aka: Fascists) wouldn’t tolerate any other brand of Socialism, such as Marxism or Anarchism. In the Soviet Union, the Bolsheviks wouldn’t tolerate the Mensheviks, and there was infighting even with the Bolsheviks.

Socialism requires a complete monopoly by one brand over all others. It cannot tolerate other ideas because it cannot compete. Once you allow other forms of Socialism to compete, you must then allow people with ideas about freeing the markets to have their say, and they will present a better case than you. Antifa will be divided between Socialists, Marxists, Anarchists, and every special-snowflake brand of politics known to man. They will compete against each other as much as they will compete against “Fascists”, but once they have revealed just how shitty their behavior is, they will be surprised to find just how many “Fascists” there are. This is why they couldn’t compete in Spain. They are their own worst enemy.

And, to add another layer: The Spanish didn’t even have racial and sexual identity politics to throw into the mix, and these jokers do. They will divide by politics, gender identity, race, class, and probably even who they ship on shows like “Voltron.” They will eat each other alive, and I will gleefully watch with popcorn and a four-pack of Zuberfizz.

Antonio Gisbert, “The Execution of Torrijos and his Companions on the Beach of Málaga” (1888). 

Of course, since 1830 France and 1830 Belgium have already had their say, the 1820s republicans of Spain would like to be heard too.  I said that Wappers’ Belgian painting was one of my favorite images from the 1830 Revolutions?  Well, this painting is one of my favorite paintings, period.  I love everything about it, and that makes me feel like a bit of a creep, but it is amazing.  The atmosphere reminds me of a stoic bromancy version of Delaroche’s “Execution of Lady Jane Grey”:

I had a poster of this Delaroche painting on my wall throughout college, and now that I am a “grown-up,” I would totally have a print of this Gisbert painting in my dining room.  (What?  Execution scene not good for dining room?)  Of course, Gisbert is painting long after the actual event, so the image can’t really be used as a source for the Spanish revolutionaries of the 1820s-1830s, but it can be appreciated on its own merits.  And they are many.  I mean, just look:

The event being depicted is part of the Spanish republicans’ struggles in the 1820s-1830s.  Spain underwent a revolution in 1820, and for three years afterwards (a period called the Trienio Liberal), the Spanish liberals had control over the government.  Civil war continued, however, and the extremely conservative government in France (King Louis XVIII) became very concerned over its southern neighbor’s politics and decided to butt in.  A French army invaded Spain in 1823 and helped the Spanish royalists come back to power.  Many Spanish republicans went into exile, including the main subject of this painting, José María de Torrijos y Uriarte, who fled to England.  In 1831, Torrijos gathered some followers and decided to return to Spain and try to retake the nation.  He was betrayed to the Spanish government, however, and fell into a trap they had set for him at the landing site of Málaga.  After a week of being held there, Torrijos and his companions were executed without a trial on the beach of Málaga.

The subject matter, the expressions, the poses, the bromance, the atmosphere, the sense of dread, the beautifully rendered details, everything about this really gets me.  Am I some kind of psycho murderer for thinking this painting is so beautiful?  I’m guessing no, since really, if you like Les Mis barricade martyrdoms, why wouldn’t you like martyrdoms on the beach.

Maybe the martyrdom angle is why I feel it so much.  I did my thesis on monasticism and sanctity, and I’ve read more hagiography than I care to think about, so martyrdoms are extremely familiar to me–and I’ve always had a deep personal response to them, on some “deep feels” level.  This is the best martyrdom depiction I have ever seen–it’s just so emotional.  The atmosphere is such Romanticism, but the figures are depicted so realistically that it really sells the emotions as totally believable.  I think Enjolras would like it too, but of course we know Enjolras is into martyrdom.  :)

ALL the Religions

I just saw one of those cute memes going around about how Christian and Muslim radicals bomb abortion clinics and embassies, but the worst thing that atheist radicals will do is get really drunk and watch TV. As a historian, this sort of thing ruffles my feathers a bit.

Now, I’m not going to try and argue about whether or not people have committed horrible crimes in the name of atheism, because I suppose there is a reasonable argument to be made that atheism is the absence ofbelief and can’t be used to justify anything. However, I suspect that people who make and like these sorts of memes don’t just not believe in G-d, do they? In fact, I would posit that in order to find that sort of thing funny, you have to think that religion is a stupid, childish, superstition, in which case, you’re not just an atheist, you’re also an anti-theist, and anti-theism has been used to justify waves of anti-clerical violence for hundreds of years.

The anti-Catholic genocide in the Vendee, the Stalinist purges in the USSR, the Red Terror in Republican Spain, and the Cultural Revolution in China where all acts of exceptionally brutal anti-theist, anti-clerical bloodletting. Radical atheists may be harmless, but radical anti-theists are not, and, just like most religious people, anyone who holds the belief that “all the religions are poison” holds a belief that has been used to justify violence.

I suppose you could argue that anti-theism doesn’t logically lead to violence, the way Islam, Christianity, and Judaism do, but that would betray a lack of understanding of these religions. Christianity is explicitly the religion of a pacifist. Islam and Judaism are not, but they are also supposed to contain the law codes of pre-modern states, who are endowed with the power of the sword.

They justify violence the way the US constitution does, and since neither the Kingdom of Israel nor the First Caliphate is still around, many of the most serious scholars of these religions tend to argue that the passages of their sacred texts that allow for violence are rendered null-and-void. Other people obviously disagree, but what we’re left with is a debate. I will concede that holding religious beliefs leads to you getting into debates about them. I would, however, posit that this also holds true for atheists.

Do I think that the existence of violent extremists makes a belief invalid or evil. No, I do not. But I would like it if people would stop posting so many smug, ahistorical memes.