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Indybay Feature
Tue Jul 29 2008 (Updated 07/31/08)
A Monument for the Abraham Lincoln Brigade Vandalized
Artwork at the Embarcadero Dedicated to the Abraham Lincoln Brigade Graffitied
Two weeks ago, a monument to the Abraham Lincoln Brigade was spray painted with the words “Viva Durruti Y Orwell”. In a statement posted on Indybay, the Worker Memorial Project wrote that the “revolutionary movement in Spain was defeated by a counter-revolution spearheaded by the Stalinist Soviet Union and its global puppets and public relations hacks,” and that “the Abraham Lincoln Battalion [were] the US dupes of and cannon fodder for the Stalinist counter-revolution in Spain from 1936 to 1939.” Some supporters and opponents of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade have condemned the attack on a public artwork and called for different tactics to express political differences.

The Abraham Lincoln Brigade was composed of American volunteers who went to Spain to fight the Fascist army under Franco. Many of the members of the ALB were affiliated with the U.S. Communist Party and were influenced by and supportive of the communist regime in Russia under Stalin.

The words “Viva Durruti Y Orwell” were in reference to Buenaventura Durruti and George Orwell

Buenaventura Durruti was a central figure of Spanish anarchism during the period leading up to and during the Spanish Civil War. Working closely with his comrades in the FAI and CNT, Durruti helped to co-ordinate armed resistance to the military uprising of Francisco Franco. In November 1936, Durruti led 4000 militiamen to Madrid to aid the besieged Republican defenders of that city. On November 19th, he was killed while leading a counter attack in the Casa de Campo area.

Eric Arthur Blair, who went by the pen name George Orwell, was a Socialist writer from Britain who joined the Independent Labour Party contingent to fight against Franco with the Workers' Party of Marxist Unification or POUM (Partido Obrero de Unificación Marxista). The POUM, and the radical wing of the anarcho-syndicalist CNT (Catalonia's dominant left-wing force), believed General Franco could be defeated only if the Republic's working class overthrew capitalism - a position at fundamental odds with the Spanish Communist Party, and its allies, which, backed by Soviet arms and aid, argued for a coalition with the bourgeois parties to defeat the fascist Nationalists. The POUM's support of Trotsky and opposition to Stalin caused huge ruptures between them and the Communist Party. These divisions manifested themselves in actual fighting between their supporters, most notably in the events of Barcelona May Days of 1937, when the POUM was attacked by a mostly-Communist coalition of government forces. The events of 1937 were one of the main reasons Orwell later became a strong opponent of the USSR.

The 1937 clashes began when units of the Guardia Civil - under the influence of the Communist Party of Spain - attempted to take over an anarchist-run telephone building in Barcelona. The telephone workers fought back, sparking a city-wide conflict. Five days of street fighting ensued, with anarchist workers and their allies, Friends of Durruti Group and supporters of the POUM, building barricades and exchanging fire with the Communist backed forces. CNT leaders were eventually persuaded into a compromise. This left the POUM isolated and it was driven underground and into exile.

In 1939, with the war nearly over, CNT leaders participated in overthrowing the government of the Communist Juan Negrín. They then attempted to negotiate a peace with Franco, though he granted virtually none of their demands.

Photos of vandalism at the artwork for the Abraham Lincoln Brigade | Stalinist Spanish Civil War Artwork Vandalized on San Francisco's Embarcadero l Infoshop-Stalinist Spanish Civil War Artwork Vandalized on San Francisco's Embarcadero

Stalinism and the POUM in the Spanish Revolution l Andreu Nin and the Poum in the Spanish Revolution | Right wing in Spain attempts to rehabilitate Franco | Abraham Lincoln Brigade archives l The Spanish Civil War- anarchists in Action l The Spanish Civil War The Socialist Worker
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