Some of the Issues from the Spanish Civil War Seem Very Contemporary
I am currently reading the First Edition of Hugh Thomas’s The Spanish Civil War (New York: Harper & Row, 1961). Many issues between the Nationalists (Franco’s Fascists) and the Republic (very like our Democratic Party) seem to ring equally true for today’s overcharged political environment. On August 15, 1936, the Nationalists adopted the flag of the Spanish monarchy and made a number of speeches. After Generalissimo Francisco Franco and Gonzalo Queipo de Llano y Serra, there was a third speaker:
Next to speak was [José] Millán Astray, a man from whom there seemed to be more shot away than there was of flesh remaining. He had but one leg, one eye, one arm, few fingers left on his one remaining hand. ‘We have no fear of them [the Leftists],’ he shouted, ‘let them come and see what we are capable of under this flag.’ A voice was heard crying‘¡Viva Millán Astray!’ ‘What’s that?’ cried the General, ‘no vivas for me! But let them all shout with me “¡Viva la muerte! ¡Abajo la inteligencia!”’ (Long live death! Down with intelligence!). The crowd echoed this mad slogan. He added, ‘Now let the Reds come! Death to them all!’ So saying, he flung his cap into the crowd amid extraordinary excitement. [Page 272]
Fascist General Millán Astray
How like the Fascists to praise death and downgrade intelligence. “Don’t think too much,” they seem to be saying. “Just follow orders!” The Spanish left was like our Democrats: A Circular firing squad. There was the CNT (Anarcho-Syndicalist Trades Union), the FAI (an Anarchist secret society), POUM (Trotskyites), PSUC (the United Catalan Socialist-Communist Party), and UGT (the Socialist Trade Union). On the Left were militias, propagandists, the International Brigades from all over Europe and the Americas, and a whole plethora of irreconcilable beliefs and opinions. On the Right was the Spanish Army led by Franco and supplies and manpower from Nazi Germany and Mussolini’s Italy.
It’s a Backbone! That’s What It Is!
This evening I hung up on a robocall from Debbie Wasserman Schultz, U.S. Democratic Representative from Florida—presumably in a failed attempt to get me to donate to the Democrats’ circular firing squad. I hang up on her a lot these days.
Before I ever give them a penny again, I have to be convinced the Democrats are something more than a perpetual fundraising machine gone out of control. If they want money, Democrats have to stand for something other than merely not being Republicans. I know that the Tea Party and their Republican fellow travelers are obnoxious in the extreme. But, really, what do the Democrats stand for other than being elected or re-elected?
I want to support politicians that will fight for me—not merely to accumulate funds so that they can buy up scads of TV ad time for next year’s elections, and robocall and e-mail me a few thousand times more in the months to come.
If the Democrats somehow find their backbone, I’ll be glad to give them my support. But the stumblebums of 2014? They can go to hell.
They Make Money from Your Indecision
We live in a country in which we increasingly let paid entertainers do our thinking for us. As a result, we are advocating our favorite stand-ins against the entertainers we don’t like. It could be as simple as watching Jon Stewart or Stephen Colbert, laughing, and leaving the whole argument as, “What you said!” Or it could be as nefarious as chewing our fingernails in fear listening to Glenn Beck (above) or Sean Hannity and going to bed angry.
Remember: These people are all well-paid entertainers. They aim at a particular demographic and work on them so as to keep them coming back for more.
I used to be very upset with these fake pundits, particularly those on the right. If you go back and look at my earlier postings are the tags “conservatives,” “republicans,” or “tea-party,” you will find that I had spent a lot of time getting exercised by people who were just doing what they were paid to do. Rush Limbaugh doesn’t care whether I hate his guts, no more than the actors who played James Bond villains like Auric Goldfinger or Ernst Stavro Blofeld care whether audiences detested them. These guys are all paid villains. It’s what they do for a living.
To uneducated yokels who have been “left behind” in dying rural areas, they are calls to action coming as if from the mouths of angels. Scores of our fellow Americans have been killed because people with a tenuous grasp on their sanity have decided to pick up their guns and take direct action. Rush didn’t tell them to shoot anybody. Glenn didn’t do it, nor did Sean. Even Wayne La Pierre of the NRA didn’t give his blessing. They’re innocent of all wrongdoing, while these poor loonies are surprised that people not only hate and fear them (instead of showering them with candy and flowers) but want to see them receive the maximum punishment.
The danger of using stand-ins to do all our thinking for us is that we could make the mistake of thinking the whole world believes in what their particular set of entertainers say. When they suddenly discover how divided we are, it could come as a serious shock.
So, Democrats, watch Faux News for a while just to see the snake oil that is being sold to the feeble-minded. And wingnuts, stay up late and watch Stephen Colbert or Bill Maher just to see that people may think differently from you.
Take away those blinders, and see the mess we’re in!
Do What’s Right First, THEN Ask for Money
I am daily besieged by dozens of almost identical e-mails asking me for support. At first, they want me to just sign a petition. That’s fine with me. Then they hold out the tin cup, asking me for money so that the evil Koch Brothers, the Nazgul of our own time and place, do not hurl us all into a pit of unrelenting misery.
Look, I hate the Koch Brothers as much as they do—but I also hate television. All these Democratic-aligned organizations are doing is arranging for millions in political ad buys on a medium which I do not support, and for which I have active contempt. I am also getting a little bit suspicious: Just whom are these organizations supporting? Is it the issue named? Or is it the collective broadcast and cable television networks? And has anyone ever checked to see whether there are kickbacks taking place?
That reminds me of a snippet I read last night from Christopher Isherwood’s South American travel journal Condors and Cows: “In Bogotá, he says, the milk was always sold diluted with water. One day, a pure-milk dairy was started but soon went bankrupt. It had been deliberately ruined by the directors of the water-works, who feared a serious drop in water-consumption.” In other words, are the TV ad people involved in these movements as a way of drumming up business?
These are questions that need to be asked, because I, for one, am reluctant to respond to any of these ads—regardless of my political beliefs.
I’ve Had It With These Clowns
There are several ways to approach dealing with the U.S. House of Representatives. One could arrest about half of them for high treason and have them drawn and quartered the way our British cousins were accustomed to doing. But that would cost too much money. Perhaps it would be better to just waterproof the chamber and flood it to the rafters with polluted water—but only if there were a quorum present.
I think turning the room into an aquarium would be the only effective means of dealing with the Republicans, even if we lost a few cowardly Democrats in the process.
Any other ideas out there? (Please note: I am not interested in hearing from Republicans. I’ve heard far too much from them already.)