76th Anniversary of “Spanish Civil War”
About 1500 volunteers from Canada fought in the ranks of the Mackenzie-Papineau Battalion part of the International Brigades 1936-1939. History books call it the Spanish Civil War. That label hides the fact that a consortium of capitalist countries were at the time attempting to convince Hitler to attack the Soviet Union a fact historians somehow missed. The same countries placed a blockade on Spain but allowed the introduction of German and Italian armed forces and armaments into Spain to attack with Franco an elected Republican Government and its armed forces, which were not significant.
In an article March 12, 1980 Bill Beeching wrote “Spain Our first war against Fascism – One Canadian remembers. The following selected excerpts will serve to illuminate his feelings and recollections in a world already seeing fascism once more raising its ugly head.
“Over 40 years ago, guided by our international outlook, we had gone to Spain to join the Spanish people in their great struggle in defense of democracy and world peace. In the fateful year of 1936 history assigned to the Spanish people a front line role in the struggle of the peoples of the world against fascism and war.”
“Our experiences in that remarkable war to preserve democracy quickly clothed our internationalist philosophy with flesh and blood. We suffered and cried with the people of Spain. We starved with them. We bled and died with them. And, ever since, their defeats have been ours, and their victories our victories.”
“Epic battles were fought around Madrid, from September, 1936 to March 1937. It was here in the name of God (who to us, seemed contradictorily we to maintaining feudalism and profits) for general Franco use foreign troops against the people and their democratically elected government which promised them bourgeois-democratic reforms for the first time.”
“Along with Franco men were the Italian Army of approximately 50,000 men, motorized and armed, the Corps of Morocco of 40,000 men, including 30,000 Moors and foreign Legionnaires. Italian Air squadrons of no less than 350 planes, the Nazi condor Legion of 300 planes, and the Spanish insurgent air force with 300 planes. The Italian forces had 250 tanks and in addition, they were given the use of Nazi-German tank corps of 180 tanks under the command of Colonel Ritter Wilhelm Von Thomas.
The fascist forces had fleets of the newest American trucks to help transport.
The Spanish republic has 60 available planes and perhaps that many tanks.”
“And so, through it all, I learned to hate war with a deep, abiding hatred. I agreed with whoever wrote the words ‘It is senseless and inhumane to love war.’ In a strangely contradictory way war sped up my development. It helped me to understand people, to draw upon reserves I never knew I had. Each soldier becomes part of the war and the demands it makes on him is a total demand. It is final and to the death”.
Perhaps the words of the English writer Maurice Cornforth, sum it up, ‘Oh understand before too late Freedom was never held without a fight’.
That dear reader is an all too brief recollection of my brother Bill Beeching’ Article - Spain Our first war against Fascism. One Canadian remembers. Printed in The commonwealth. March 12, 1980.
The following is a reprint of an article I revised March 29, 2009. It is my contribution as one of the many thousands of World War 2 veterans who also fought for freedom and world peace. Fascism has once again reared its ugly head and it endangers our freedom. In the words of the song sung by Paul Robson –“Freedom’s a thing that is never ending. It needs to be cared for. It needs defending.”
Join the struggle for real true democracy – Participatory democracy!
29.03.09 Note: the following article is intended to open a discussion on the question of fascism. Readers should note that at a world meeting of communist parties held in Greece Cuba called for a united front against fascism. This question is important because of a new threat — “globalization” from imperialism presently headed by the United States of America.
FASCISM & THE TWENTY FIRST CENTURY It’s about classes
“People always have been foolish victims of deception and self-deception in politics, and always will be until they have learnt to seek out the interest of some class or another behind all moral, religious, political and social phrases, declarations and promises.” V.I Lenin
The question of fascism needs be studied concomitant with the study of classes. Events that took place at the end of the 20th century to the present indicate the imperialist circles attempt to resolve the capitalist systemic crisis by the use of force, a feature of fascism. The Bush doctrine is a clear example. The government of the United States of America has stated in clear unequivocal terms that it will use force to achieve its aims. The Bush doctrine needs to be a part of a study considering fascism. The newly formed world court should apply the Nuremberg principles to the Bush regime!
“The Nuremberg trials handed down a judgment in 1946. Among notable features of the decision was the conclusion, in accordance with the London Agreement, that to plan or instigate an aggressive war is a crime under the principle of international law.” Funk and Wagnalls encyclopedia vol. 24 p 414.
It is said that those who do not learn from the past are doomed to re-live it. In this post September 11 (9-11) world one cannot help pondering - did we learn nothing from World War II?
The International Brigades in Spain were comprised of the world’s first anti-fascist fighters. They were set up from volunteers of countries that supported the duly elected Spanish government in its resistance to fascist Franco’s attack in what is called the Spanish Civil War.
Many veterans of the Spanish International Brigades volunteered in WW II after that war changed from a war between imperialist states to one between Germany and both imperialist and communist states. Only capitalist states accused the Soviet Union of being imperialist. It is not true. The Soviet Union did not have other socialist states as dependencies. They were equals in the Warsaw Pact set up in response to the Western World’s establishment of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).
Hitler aimed at Germany’s hegemony over the world. He failed after a tremendous loss of life. Communists and many socialists recognize that the United States of America also wants world hegemony. Over 55 years after WW II, 9-11 opened the door for USA’s military industrial complex to achieve their dream.
Zbigniew Brzezinski was National Security Adviser to President Carter and Johnson during the 60’s. In 1973 Zbigniew Brzezinski became the first director of the trilateral commission which included prominent political and business leaders from the U.S., Western Europe and Japan. Zbigniew Brzezinski’s book The grand Chessboard published in 1997 while supporting US world hegemony also confirms it as a U.S. goal. He said, “America’s economic dynamism provides the necessary precondition for the exercise of global primacy.” p23.
He was more explicit when he said, “In brief America stands supreme in the four decisive domains of global power. Militarily, it has an unmatched global reach; economically, it remains the main locomotive of global growth, even if challenged in some aspects by Japan and Germany (neither of which enjoys the other attributes of global might); technologically, it retains the overall lead in the cutting-edge area of innovation; and culturally, despite some crassness, it enjoys an appeal that is unrivaled, especially among the world’s youth—all of which gives the United States a political clout that no other state comes close to matching. It is the combination of all four that makes America the only comprehensive global power.” IBID p24. It is precisely this attraction to the “American way” that, as Zbiniew says, “As the imitation of American ways gradually pervades the world, it creates a more congenial setting for the exercise of the indirect and seemingly consensual American hegemony.” IBID p27.
In an article, “Lets Not Forget: Bush Planned Iraq ‘Regime Change’ Before Becoming President” by Niel MacKay, Information Clearing House www.informationclearinghouse.info/article1221.htm reports on a ‘secret blueprint for US global domination.’ This document was written by the neo-conservative think-tank Project for the New American Century (PNAC). MacKay says, “The PNAC document supports a ‘blueprint for maintaining US pre-eminence, precluding the rise of a great power rival, and shaping the international security order in line with American principles and interests’.”
American global supremacy is fortified by an elaborate system of alliances and coalitions. NATO allows for U.S. domination in Europe. The formation of a united Europe and a single currency, the Eurodollar, would seem to run counter to U.S. aims. That seeming conflict has yet to be clarified at least on the financial level. In the meantime Bush’s threatening statement, “You are either with us or you are against us,” is no doubt why some European nations like Britain’s Tony Blair (he is supposed to represent labour?) come on side and indeed often work for the U.S.A. APEC and U.S. ties with Japan allow America to play a key role in Eastern affairs. The American war machine is being either used or posted in country after country. Wherever they establish a base it becomes permanent. All to protect strategic American interests!
As one columnist said the war on terrorism is in reality a war on people generally. It is being used to guarantee American supremacy. The chess game goes on.
The economic crisis in the capitalist world has caused more and more workers to question the actions of governments and business in taking away hard won benefits. The protests against globalization and the fight for social justice have the potential to bring about a revolutionary change and therefore are a threat to the American corporate way of life. Protests world-wide were met with brute force! “In addition, one must consider as part of the American system the global web of specialized organizations, especially the ‘international’ financial institutions. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank can be said to represent ‘global’ interests, and their constituency may be construed as the world. In reality, however, they are heavily American dominated and their origins are traceable to American initiative, particularly the Breton Woods conference of 1944.” IBID p27.
The Grand Chessboard then refers to, “ … a new international order that not only replicates but institutionalizes abroad many of the features of the American system itself. Its basic features include:
· A collective security system, including integrated command and forces (NATO, the U.S.-Japan Security Treaty, and so forth) [post 9-11 has seen this expand to involve China, Russia in the new world order jb];
· Regional economic cooperation (APEC, NAFTA [North American Free Trade Agreement]) and specialized global cooperative institutions (the World Bank, IMF, WTO [World Trade Organization]);
· Procedures that emphasize consensual decision making even if dominated by the United States;
· A preference for democratic membership within key alliances;
· A rudimentary global constitutional and judicial structure (ranking from the World Court to a special tribunal to try Bosnian war crimes). IBID p28 29.
… Currently, this unprecedented American global hegemony has no rival. But will it remain unchallenged in the years to come?” IBID p28.
The following quotes might well be taken from a recent speech reflecting present world conditions. They are however from a report given by Georgi Dimitrov before the Seventh World Congress of the Communist International delivered on August 2, 1935. “With the development of the very deep economic crisis, with the general crisis of capitalism becoming sharply accentuated and the mass of people becoming revolutionized, fascism has embarked on a wide offensive.” … “The imperialist circles are trying to shift the whole burden of the crisis onto the shoulders of the working people. That is why they need fascism.” For Unity Of The Working Class Against Fascism Sofia Press 1969.
It is important to agree on the definition of fascism and see its relation to present conditions. As Marxists we submit the following from A Dictionary of Philosophy. It defines fascism as, “An overt terroristic dictatorship of the most reactionary, most chauvinistic and most imperialist elements of finance capital.” …Notwithstanding the complete rout of the fascist states in the 2nd World War, reactionary elements in some imperialist countries are trying to revive F.
A careful examination of events since WW II, to the present day, we believe support our contention that once again the world is facing the danger of what may be viewed this time as neo-fascism but still in accordance with the above definition. The book, The Grand Chessboard and the more recent Bush Doctrine where Bush has declared the United States of America will use force [war] to achieve its aims combined with acts of war we believe are confirmation and need to be included in the examination of fascism.
Soon after WW II it became clear imperialist forces were preparing for WW III. This gave rise to a world peace movement that not only succeeded in playing a major role in preventing WW III but also had great success in the “ban the bomb campaign” in the sixties. It reveals the strength unity of the working class can achieve.
Capitalism is decaying due to the sharpened internal contradictions between ownership and the mode of production resulting from the scientific and technological revolution. The present imperialist stage is marked by a deep crisis and the capitalist states are prepared to resort to war and violence to prevent a collapse. The recent war against Iraq is often thought of as being over oil. No doubt that was an important factor but behind the oil was a deeper crisis for the USA. Sadam Hussein had nationalized Iraq oil. Bad enough, but he went so far as to transfer Iraq money to the Euro. He then compounded that act by campaigning with the OPEC nations to transfer their currency to the Euro with some success. The strain on the American dollar, already showing signs of weakening, was intolerable to the Bush regime! War was added to the monetary card used to prop up a failing regime. The International Monetary Fund (IMF), the World Bank, G7, free Trade and globalization are all used in part or in combination to prevent any revolutionary changes to the capitalist system in favor of the working class. Anti-communism is their weapon!
In addition to the economic card the imperialists use the ideological struggle to attack any progressive movement. Anti-communism became cart blanche for the commitment of crimes. Its success was partly due to the brainwashing of the working class. Ownership of the media, a major source of information and brainwashing was being converted to either single ownership or a consortium. The control of Canwest/Southam, combining the printed word with TV broadcasting by the Asper family is a good example. Israel Asper, who recently died, ordered the editors to “print only pro-Israeli articles”. While a large number of people cancelled their subscriptions it was not enough to cause a change of policy. A policy his son is unlikely to change if interviews are anything to go by.
Focus on Socialism Vol. 23 No. 1 January, 2004 dealt with the CCC position regarding the 34th convention of the Communist Party of Canada. The article ended with proposed slogans for the upcoming federal election. The current issue of Focus concentrates on Canadian federal election which arrive at a critical time for Canadians. It seems that conditions in Germany in 1933 while not exactly the same contain some alarming similarities. “All along the way. Hitler would propose or actually promulgate regulations that sliced away at German citizens’ freedoms – usually aimed at small vulnerable sectors of society (labour unionists, communists, Jews, mental defectives et al.) – and few said or did anything to object. In the early days, on those rare occasions when there was concerted negative reaction, Hitler would back off a bit. And so the Nazis grew bolder and more voracious as they continued slicing away at civil society.” Germany in 1933: The Easy Slide into Fascism Bernard Weiner.. The interesting fact is that in today’s world the “concerted negative reaction” is growing. Youth are noticeably in the forefront. In general the population is not being fooled.
The attack on democracy in Canada is clearly evident. The power of the state to arrest and hold citizens without due legal process is but one example. Guilt by association is another. It seems that if you are seen talking to someone under surveillance as a suspected terrorist you too can come under surveillance and be listed as suspect! The upcoming federal elections could very well determine if in the future we live in a democracy or a state dictatorship of the extreme right wing.
To conclude, there is a strong resistance to fascism’s advance. The fact that many young people are playing a leading role in the struggle against globalization is significant. There is an urgent need for unity among the working class. Labour is the logical group to spearhead the broad national and international peoples’ movement for a change to the capitalist system. A strong vanguard in the form of a communist party is a prerequisite. It is through the internationalism of these parties that we can achieve world unity. As Georgi Dimitrov said in For Unity Of The Working Class Against Fascism, “The first thing that must be done, the first thing with which to begin, is to form a united front, to establish a unity of action, in every country of the world. Unity of action of the proletariat on a national and international scale is the mighty weapon which renders the working class capable not only of successful defense but also of successful counter-attack against fascism, against the class enemy. “We must strive to establish the widest united front with the aid of workers’ organizations of different trends for the defense of the vital interests of the labouring masses. This means:
First, joint struggle to really shift the burden of the consequences of the crisis onto the shoulders of the ruling classes, the shoulders of the capitalists and landlords — in a word onto the shoulders of the rich.
Second, joint struggle against all forms of the fascist offensive, in defense of the gains and rights of the working people, against the abolition of bourgeois-democratic liberties.
Third, joint struggle against the approaching danger of imperialist war, a struggle that will make the preparation of such a war more difficult.”
JFK said, “Man must put an end to war or war will put an end to mankind.” We might add that voters can opt for democracy or face dictatorship A visit to our web site by readers and checking out the links will provide sources such as the CCPA Monitor for much related information.
We urge Focus readers, in addition to discussing with friends this election issue of Focus seek out copies of Global Outlook Winter/2004 Number 6 and read:-
America: The Fourth Reich by Barry Zwicker P19
Germany in 1933: The Easy Slide into Fascism by Bernard Weiner P22