How not to remember the Spanish Civil War

Posted in Bruce's blog on Thu, 20/07/2006 - 00:25,

'Today' today had a feature on the 70th anniversary of the Spanish Civil War featuring historian Anthony Beevor and none other than Michael Portillo, who was there so that he could patronise his father who fought on the Republican side as a naïve intellectual. Their conclusion was that the best way to commemorate the Civil War was to forget all about it lest - literally – asking where the dead bodies are buried might destabilise the exemplary European democracy that Spain has become. They interviewed a leader of the right wing Partido Popular to this effect, neglecting to mention that this party was where many of the erstwhile Francoists have ended up.

They were also concerned to demolish the left wing 'myth' of the Civil War as an anti-fascist war for democracy. One of them pointed out that not everyone on the Republican side was committed to parliamentary democracy – there had been some revolutionary goings on as well. Beevor went on about how the opening of the Russian archives had shown the extent of Stalinist terror in Spain.

They neglected to mention that not everyone on the left had accepted that the civil war was just a 'war for democracy' to begin with and that authors such as Orwell, alongside revolutionaries from many different traditions, had exposed the role of Stalinism from the start. You would never have guessed that many of the victims of these purges stood to the left of the Communist Party.

For the BBC commemorating the Spanish Civil War seems to have become a pretext for forgetting all about this.

Marxist Theory and History
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