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.

What your leftist ideology says about you.
  • Marxism-Leninism: You've probably defended the USSR in an internet argument. Everyone but you is sectarian and revisionist.
  • Left Communism: You offer no real solutions to anything except that everyone else is an idiot and should check their dialectics.
  • Democratic Socialist: You're still new to the whole "Marxism" thing but you're afraid to make a full commitment.
  • Anarcho-Syndicalism: You have a huge boner for the Wobblies and Republican Spain. Other leftists think you're kind of annoying.
  • Syndicalism: Same as anarcho-syndicalism but add in Daniel DeLeon into "things you get a boner for"
  • Luxemburgism: What Democratic Socialists become after they hit puberty.
  • Trotskyism: You like Lenin but you can't fucking stand how authoritarian Marxist-Leninists are. You're part of one of the dozen groups claiming to be the fourth internationale. All the other leftists make fun of you behind your back.
  • Maoism: The same as Marxism-Leninism but you're even more of a tankie somehow.
  • Social-Democrat: You truly believe you're a socialist but you're not. You get a raging hard on whenever someone says "Nordic Model". You probably vote democrat.
  • Post-Leftist: You're a pretentious white petty-bourgeois asshole. Get the fuck out of my office.

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.  :)