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San Francisco: Stalinist Spanish Civil War Artwork Vandalized on San Francisco's Embarcadero

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A little propaganda of the deed to commemorate the beginning of the Spanish Civil War...

July 19th was the anniversary of the beginning of the Spanish Civil War in 1936 -- the beginning of the last significant attempt at an anti-capitalist revolution in the period of revolutions that began in Mexico in 1915 and accelerated after the Russian Revolution of 1917. The revolutionary movement in Spain was combated and defeated by a pro-capitalist counter-revolution spearheaded by the Stalinist Soviet Union, its military and secret police apparatus and it's global public relations hacks. (See George Orwell's 'Homage to Catalonia' for the best brief introduction to the events surrounding the revolution and counter-revolution in Spain in 1936 - 1937.)

Stalinist Spanish Civil War Artwork Vandalized on San Francisco's Embarcadero

A little propaganda of the deed to commemorate the beginning of the Spanish Civil War...

July 19th was the anniversary of the beginning of the Spanish Civil War in 1936 -- the beginning of the last significant attempt at an anti-capitalist revolution in the period of revolutions that began in Mexico in 1915 and accelerated after the Russian Revolution of 1917. The revolutionary movement in Spain was combated and defeated by a pro-capitalist counter-revolution spearheaded by the Stalinist Soviet Union, its military and secret police apparatus and it's global public relations hacks. (See George Orwell's 'Homage to Catalonia' for the best brief introduction to the events surrounding the revolution and counter-revolution in Spain in 1936 - 1937.)

A public art work celebrating the role played by the Abraham Lincoln Battalion, the US pawns for the Stalinist counter-revolution in Spain, was dedicated this past May on San Francisco's Embarcadero, behind the fountain on Justin Herman Plaza, at the foot of Market Street.

Sometime during the week preceeding July 19th, some person or persons unknown gave this monument to the anti-fascist ideology of the Popular Front period an appropriate subversive makeover. The Stalinist art work was grafittied with the message, "Viva Durruti Y Orwell," in what appears to be red and black spray paint.

Photos of the graffiti, taken after the last two letters of Durruti's name have been removed by the clean-up crew, can be seen here:

http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2008/07/21/18518486.php


Any non-Stalinist study of the Spanish Civil War shows that the Abraham Lincoln Battalion was organized and run by the Moscow franchise CPUSA, and they acted on orders from the Moscow regime. Many of the US volunteers were hard-core Stalinist stooges. On the whole, the volunteers of the Abraham Lincoln Battalion were poorly trained and badly equiped, and they sustained a high casualty rate because their commaders were incompetent, frequently sending the men into World War One-style human-wave attacks against well-entrenched machine gun and artillery emplacements. As in other capitalist armies, poor morale was a big problem. One of the martyrs of the Abraham Lincoln Battalion, Oliver Law, was apparently fragged by his own men out of fear that his enthusiastic incompetence was going to get them killed. A number of members of the Abraham Lincoln Battalion were murdered by their own commanders for political deviation from the Stalinist political line. There is nothing to celebrate in this.

The role played by international Stalinism in the Spanish Civil War was to save capitalism, the state and the class power of the bourgeosie. This was successful. It was accomplished through police terror and large-scale murder of working class revolutionaries and has been accompanied by lies ever since. The monument on SF's Embarcadero is simply the latest embodiment of the Stalinist Big Lie about the Spanish Civil War, etched in stone.

Workers Memory Project


Anarchism and social revolution in Spain:

"...If only to make them cry, let us remind the retarded devotees of the anarchist-Marxist feud(6) that the CNT-FAI — with its dead weight of anarchist ideology, but also with its greater practice of liberatory imagination — was akin to the Marxist KAPD-AAUD (Communist Workers Party of Germany-General Workers Union of Germany) in its organizational arrangements. In the same way as the German Communist Workers Party, the Iberian Anarchist Federation saw itself as the political organization of the conscious Spanish workers, while its AAUD, the CNT, was supposed to take charge of the management of the future society. The FAI militants, the elite of the proletariat, propagated the anarchist idea among the masses; the CNT did the practical work of organizing the workers in its unions. There were two essential differences, however, the ideological one of which was to bear the fruit one could have expected of it. The first was that the FAI did not strive to take power, but contented itself with influencing the overall policies of the CNT. The second was that the CNT really represented the Spanish working class. Adopted on 1 May 1936 at the CNT congress at Saragossa, two months before the revolutionary explosion, one of the most beautiful programs ever proclaimed by a revolutionary organization was partially put into practice by the anarchosyndicalist masses, while their leaders foundered in ministerialism and class-collaboration. With the pimps of the masses, Garca Oliver, Secundo Blanco, etc., and the brothel-madam Montseny, the antistate libertarian movement, which had already tolerated the anarcho-trenchist Prince Kropotkin, finally attained the historical consummation of its ideological absolutism: government anarchists.(7)

"In the last historical battle it was to wage, anarchism was to see all the ideological sauce that comprised its being fall back into its face: State, Freedom, Individual, and other musty ingredients with capital letters; while the libertarian militias, workers and peasants were saving its honor, making the greatest practical contribution ever to the international proletarian movement, burning churches, fighting on all fronts against the bourgeoisie, fascism and Stalinism, and beginning to create a truly communist society..."

Rene Reisel, Preliminaries on Councils and Councilist Organization," taken here from 'The Situationist International Anthology,' at http://www.bopsecrets.org/SI/12.councils.htm

"For Franco to be defeated, first Companys and Caballero had to be defeated. For fascism to be wiped out, first the bourgeoisie and its Stalinist and socialist allies had to be crushed. The capitalist State had to be destroyed from top to bottom, and workers' power based on rank-and-file committees be installed (...) Antifascist unity has just been submission to the bourgeoisie."

Communist Union Manifesto, Barcelona, June 1937
Quoted from 'When Insurrections Die,' by Gilles Dauve, at
http://www.geocities.com/CapitolHill/Lobby/3909/whenidie/index.html

FOOTNOTES:

1. The left-liberal protest ghetto websites http://www.indybay.org and http://www.nyc.indymedia.org have systematically censored posts in favor of the graffiti attack on the SF Embarcadero's Stalinist Artwork. Stalinism is now dead everywhere -- except in North Korea, a few pieces of easily-targeted public sculpture, and in the practical acts of some deceitful liberals at http://www.indybay.org and http://www.nyc.indymedia.org

On the other hand, some intelligent and uncensored critical feedback on this be found at: http://news.infoshop.org/article.php?story=20080719224947226

2. An academic named Peter N. Carroll, quoted offering fulsome syrupy praise to the veterans of the Abraham Lincoln Battalion on one of the panels of the Stalinist Big Lie monument, has also been making a nuisance of himself in connection to this.

Carroll's e-mail address is: "Carroll Ferrary" retap1@stanford.edu

3. And a final point of clarification, for any cops and leftist snitches reading this:
The Workers Memory Project does not necessarily take credit for this act of revolutionary propaganda against one of the most prominent examples of Stalinist public art in the contemporary English-speaking world, a small act of solidarity with revolutionaries murdered by Stalinist butchers during the Spanish Civil War -- but we enthusiastically applaud this action.

And if we were going to do something like this, this is exactly what we would have done.

The Stalinist Embarcadero monument is in a perfect location for repeated revolutionary communist re-vandalization. It can be transformed into a living memory to the attempted social revolution in Spain and an ongoing reminder of the role played by the Stalinist counter-revolution in the bloody defeat of the authentic communist movement of the twentieth century.

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San Francisco: Stalinist Spanish Civil War Artwork Vandalized on San Francisco's Embarcadero | 59 comments | Create New Account
The following comments are owned by whomever posted them. This site is not responsible for what they say.
San Francisco: Stalinist Spanish Civil War Artwork Vandalized
Authored by: Red on Sunday, July 20 2008 @ 02:14 AM CDT
i guess i must read up on the spanish civil war. i was never under the impression that the international brigades was a bad thing. i thought it was a very interesting model. although, i'm not sure what events it is that this article refers to.

communist were counter-revolutionaries, but i thought the revolution was the fascist revolution.

the same one the republicans, communist, and anarchist were fighting against together, well, separately most of the time, but occasionally it was together.

the cnt-fai rising up, to me, was not a revolution, because it was reactionary in nature.

but i guess i wouldn't put it past stalin to disrupt anarchist involvement in the war in order to get more credit after they won, just to fuck it up for everyone and basically assist the fascist in completing their uprising.

who knows, i'm looking forward to someone telling me i don't know what i'm talking about so they can fill me in. i'll keep my eye out for that book though.

---
"Liberty is the mother of order, not its daughter."
San Francisco: Stalinist Spanish Civil War Artwork Vandalized
Authored by: socraticpunk on Sunday, July 20 2008 @ 03:37 AM CDT
Also see, Robert Alexander's "Anarchists in the Spanish Civil War (vols. 1 and 2)" and Bookchin's "To Remember Spain: Anarchists and the Syndicalist Revolution of 1936" for even better analysis of the anarchist AND Stalinist role in the civil war. Emma Goldman's writings contained in "Vision on Fire" are equally important, considering she was the international representative to Spain during the civil war.

Almost none of the international brigade from the US fought with the anarchist rank and file, they were almost exclusively Stalinist. I'd argue against attacking rank and file members however, Stalinism was more prominent in the US during that time period so there's no surprise that the brigade was mostly that. It was mostly due, in my opinion, to the near crushing of US anarchism in that era more than anything else. But yes, Stalin used Spain as a political weight against Hitler, nothing more.

I'd like to know though, why choose Durruti and Orwell to paint on the "art"? Hero worship is nothing to continue (Durruti), and we must remember that Orwell did not fight with the anarchist but with the POUM. Durruti died early in the conflict too, though he was involved with the initial protection of Madrid, I'd argue that looking at the holistic efforts of the CNT-FAI (though flawed) would be more important that identifying one figure in the struggle. But I'm not trying to sound negative about the action, it's much better than nothing and any Marxists of today need to wake up to the realities of their B.S.; I'm sure the action is useful in that regard.
San Francisco: Stalinist Spanish Civil War Artwork Vandalized
Authored by: lawrence on Sunday, July 20 2008 @ 01:45 PM CDT
As much as I dislike slogans (whether spray-painted or on bumper stickers or t-shirts), there's a logistical challenge involved with enhancing public space: it is against the law, and carries the possibility of punishment for getting caught. Painting a four-word slogan is much quicker than wheat-pasting a tract explaining a "holistic" analysis of the CNT-FAI.

Durruti, for all his faults, represented an important pole of the anarchist presence in working class politics (that of an uncontrollable, what with his history as a Robin Hood-like criminal);

Orwell, though never an anarchist, appreciated what the anarchists were doing, and had the guts to tell the truth about Stalinist bullshit in Spain (and the world) at a time when it meant a certain death sentence at the hands of the GPU (he fled Barcelona about two steps ahead of his would-be executioners).

The choice of these two people as a corrective to the public Stalinist hero-worship of the "Lincolns" is entirely appropriate.
San Francisco: Stalinist Spanish Civil War Artwork Vandalized
Authored by: socraticpunk on Monday, July 21 2008 @ 04:39 AM CDT
I'm well aware of Orwell's actions, I've read "Homage to Catalonia," and I agree that Durruti was an important figure. But I don't see how the two really are encompassing of everything the CNT-FAI did, as previously stated.

An edict wheat-pasted wouldn't be necessary, why not just paint "CNT-FAI, viva!" or some such article. Anyway, it's a mute point, just thought I'd put it out there to stem some discussion.

And to the posts below, it wasn't claimed that anarchists weren't a part of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade, but the fact that it was Stalinist dominated. Likewise, look at how Russia treated anarchists and how they were slighted in Spain before mentioning B.S. infighting, the revolution was lost largely due to Stalin's effects and his lackey's trying to overcome and destroy the collectives. So yes, many people did join to just "fight Franco" but I'm sure that the leadership, and the absurd Stalinist propaganda of the time, did a lot to help many of the Brigade take a Hemingway ("For Whom the Bell Tolls") view of the anarchists rather than see them as comrades. Considering it was a militia based conflict up to a point anyway, and widely segregated even when combined into a regular army, it's hard to see how many of these folks wouldn't have been doing it for Stalin's B.S. vs. trying to simply fight fascism. That's just my view though.
San Francisco: Stalinist Spanish Civil War Artwork Vandalized
Authored by: WorkerFreedom on Sunday, July 20 2008 @ 03:02 PM CDT
Although Franco was technically revolting against the prevailing government he was counter-revolutionary because he wanted to reestablish the old rule of the Dons and the Catholic Church. The only difference between Franco and old r
San Francisco: Stalinist Spanish Civil War Artwork Vandalized
Authored by: anony mouse on Sunday, July 20 2008 @ 03:13 PM CDT
wow, what a strange target for vandalism. keeping thoughtless sectarianism alive for another generation! not that the stalinists from the civil war donʻt deserve our contempt, but many very brave anti-fascists volunteered with the lincoln brigade without necessarily embracing the politics that its leadership espoused. I mean, anarchists more than anyone ought to be able to understand the difference between a group and its "leadership". the lincoln brigades and affiliated stalinist parties, organizations, etc. simply did a better job at overseas propaganda and recruiting than the anarchists. the people who joined up did not do so to support stalin, they did it to fight franco.

as for "the last serious attempt at an anti-capitalist revolution" that is just absurdly ahistorical. one could write a littany of such "serious attempts", but I wonʻt waste my time here. read some fucking history.
San Francisco: Stalinist Spanish Civil War Artwork Vandalized
Authored by: CaseyFord on Sunday, July 20 2008 @ 09:49 PM CDT
word.
San Francisco: Stalinist Spanish Civil War Artwork Vandalized
Authored by: punk on Monday, July 21 2008 @ 11:09 AM CDT
this is the dumbest thing i have ever heard. I really hope this was a bunch of 15 year old white kids with nothing better to do.

what a disgrace.
San Francisco: Stalinist Spanish Civil War Artwork Vandalized
Authored by: MD on Monday, July 21 2008 @ 02:16 PM CDT
What an utterly pointless act. What ignorance it shows. Go ahead and hate on the stalinist as much as you want (past and present), but dont disgrace the memory of rank-and-file workers who went to Spain to fight fascism IN SOLIDARITY with the anarchists. And Orwell? What the fuck!?!

---
Omnia sunt Communia!
San Francisco: Stalinist Spanish Civil War Artwork Vandalized
Authored by: lawrence on Monday, July 21 2008 @ 11:55 PM CDT
If any of you anarchists with no knowledge of the history of Spain and the US in the 1930s (the heyday of American Stalinism) want to continue the bullshit Leftist hero-worship of the so-called rank and file idealist fighters against fascism line, go peddle it someplace where other anarchists who study such things (and have forgotten more than you'll ever know) won't be around to call you on your astounding (even for American anarchists!) IGNORANCE.

The International Brigades were organized by the Comintern under Stalin's orders. It is certainly the case that many starry-eyed members of the various Communist Parties around the world who flocked to the ranks of the IBs were interested in something called "revolution" (which of course looked a lot different to them than to anarchists), but what they did in Spain--from engaging in some fierce battles with incompetent officers (yes, they had appointed officers, not elected delegates as the revolutionary militias had) that led to upwards of 70% casualty rates, to helping to suppress the agricultural collectives in Aragon, to staffing the CP's secret prisons--was not particularly revolutionary in anyone's terms. They were not involved in ignoring (much less smashing) the Republic--they were there to shore it up, per Comintern policy and orders. They were not involved in supporting the collectives in the cities or the country--in fact Comintern policy was to smash them as soon as possible, since these revolutionary experiments were not under CP control.

The illusions about the "Lincolns" in particular are a result of tireless PR nonsense, just like the PR nonsense about how much CPUSA members were in the forefront of any and all progressive social struggles in the US in the 1930s and 1950s (the embarrassing no-strike pledges of the CP-dominated CIO in the 1940s is usually ignored by the hero-worshipers).

Stalinism is the enemy of anti-state revolution; Stalinists knew it then, and they know it now. In this knowledge they are much more realistic than you stupid anarchists who think that because we don't have our own elders to be proud of (we do, you just don't know about them because you are too ignorant to ask the right people), we need to adopt the elders of our enemies. Yes, our enemies.

The people who became the Veterans of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade [sic--they never numbered enough to be more than a battalion]--according to one historian they numbered about 10% of the survivors, for a maximum of 350--were pro-Moscow all the way, supporting the crushing of the striking East Berlin workers in 1953, supporting the crushing of the Hungarian revolution of 1956, supporting the crushing of the independent syndicalist unions in Cuba in 1960-61, etc, etc.

Learn some history before you spout off on subjects about which you know precious little. You pro-Stalinist anarchists are an embarrassment.
San Francisco: Stalinist Spanish Civil War Artwork Vandalized
Authored by: Admin on Tuesday, July 22 2008 @ 12:10 AM CDT
Amen! I think that the problem here is plain old ignorance, not misguided hero worship. This is where we see some Guitar Hero addled minds who think that wearing a Che shirt gives them entry to radicalism of some kind.

Crack a fucking book, people. Otherwise, you are just as dumb and ignorant as the Fox News-watching Bush supporters you love to mock.

Chuck
San Francisco: Stalinist Spanish Civil War Artwork Vandalized
Authored by: punk on Tuesday, July 22 2008 @ 09:54 PM CDT
the people who did this were not anarchists, they were idiots with no concept of history or the left. what an embarrassment. it is this kind of stupidity that prevents real anarchists from organizing.
San Francisco: Stalinist Spanish Civil War Artwork Vandalized
Authored by: lawrence on Wednesday, July 23 2008 @ 01:17 AM CDT
The people who did this never said they were anarchists. Their concept of actual living history is light years ahead of your stupid fawning over the Left--if you think that Stalinists are on the side of anarchists you are not only stupid, but deluded. How does spray-painting "prevent real anarchists" from doing anything? What a maroon.

San Francisco: Stalinist Spanish Civil War Artwork Vandalized
Authored by: Admin on Wednesday, July 23 2008 @ 03:57 AM CDT
I think that Lawrence just scored "punk" on the history of the Spanish Revolution. If "punk" wants to persist in believing that the Abe Lincoln brigade was not working in league with the Stalinist USSR, then they just look foolish.

Yep, Lawrence, it's that "Anarchist Stupidity Virus" that is currently going around. It gives certain anarchists a fever and delusions, with a prominent side effect being that some anarchist, or anarchist trend, or anarchist whatever, is "preventing anarchists from getting organized." Ridiculous. As I tell people, if you really think that some anarchist gremlin is preventing you from "getting organized," then just wait until you have to deal with the capitalists. They'll give you some real good reasons to shit in your pants if you "organize" enough to annoy them.

Chuck
San Francisco: Stalinist Spanish Civil War Artwork Vandalized
Authored by: punk on Wednesday, July 23 2008 @ 09:23 PM CDT
sorry chuck, i dont need to be lectured on spanish civil war history by you or any other immature dogmatic so called anarchist.

Everyone knows about the links between the Lincoln Battallion and the USSR, there are political links everywhere to pretty much every organization, thats one of them. Every member who went over to fight and get killed by actual facists were not Stalinists and most of the Stalinists were simply dupes unaware of most of the reality on the ground. In short they had did more for humanity if 5 mintures than any first world anarchist who did this stupid act in San Fran and those who defend it do in their lifetime.

I knew several volunteers, some were stalinists, some were not. those who were, at least the ones that i knew, admit now they were wrong, but they went over there to fight fascism and thats what they did. this is the lincoln battalion, not the political police. They have relationship with actual anarchists and the cnt. So nice COINTELPRO stunt.

And yes i do think the anarchist movement has faults that prevent better organizing. this is one example of that. its pretentious and dogmatic. if you look at the world today and find that your enemy is the lincoln battalion enough to put time and energy into this stupid act you have serious delusions about the state of the world.

I used to think you had common sense chuck but i guess i was wrong.
San Francisco: Stalinist Spanish Civil War Artwork Vandalized
Authored by: MD on Thursday, July 24 2008 @ 09:09 PM CDT
Oh come on. Calling the people who did this COINTEPRO is just stupid. What does that even mean?

---
Omnia sunt Communia!
San Francisco: Stalinist Spanish Civil War Artwork Vandalized
Authored by: punk on Saturday, July 26 2008 @ 12:48 AM CDT
it means this stupid action achieved nothing but division and distrust among anarchists and the left
San Francisco: Stalinist Spanish Civil War Artwork Vandalized
Authored by: lawrence on Saturday, July 26 2008 @ 02:25 AM CDT
Anarchists and the left as represented by Stalinists have nothing in common aside from a few details of analysis. Our respective goals and strategies are worlds apart. The Stalinists know this only too well; it's about time punks like you wised up to it too. The vandalism of public art didn't create those divisions, nor will whining about it mend them.
San Francisco: Stalinist Spanish Civil War Artwork Vandalized
Authored by: punk on Saturday, July 26 2008 @ 10:31 AM CDT
to you the memorial is a monument to Stalinism and nothing else. This is wrong historically, and this is certainly wrong practically. this is why these actions and those who defend them are harmful.
San Francisco: Stalinist Spanish Civil War Artwork Vandalized
Authored by: MD on Saturday, July 26 2008 @ 09:03 AM CDT
Look, i didnt care for this action. But i have to say that your red front anarchism provokes and disgust me waay more than this vandalism ever could. You are probarly not even a real anarchist, but in case you are -- you got some reading to do. As anarchists we understand that the revolution is based on the social revolt of the workingclass, not the political unity of the left. Therefore, we dont really care about alienating the left because they are not the ones we are trying to communicate and build a relationship with. The political left, united or not, are not what threatens the state. The state knows that, and we know that. Thats pretty basic. And thats why its pretty stupid to call this action COINTELPRO, because it really makes no sense.

---
Omnia sunt Communia!
San Francisco: Stalinist Spanish Civil War Artwork Vandalized
Authored by: punk on Saturday, July 26 2008 @ 10:43 AM CDT
red front anarchism? o common you sound like a dumb trotskiest who wouldnt know the working class if it came up and bit him in the ass.

You're right im not a "real anarchist" i only organize workers and building international solidarity, real anarchists are white kids in san francisco who vandalize war memorials to 90 year old vets who fought fascism.

to ignore a relationship between the left and actions of the broader the working class is naive and ahisotical. if you dont care about alienating the left you are certainly going to alienate a large section of the working class, most of whom, except for the extreme pro fascist wing, would disapprove of this kind of action.

San Francisco: Stalinist Spanish Civil War Artwork Vandalized
Authored by: lawrence on Saturday, July 26 2008 @ 11:55 AM CDT
Look punk, what's a "trotskiest"? The most trotsky? Trotskyists generally know quite well who is working class and who isn't--at least using Leninist criteria.

For the last time, the people who enhanced the memorial to Stalinism--and yes, that's what a monument to an outfit that was organized, financed, and promoted by the Comintern is--never claimed to be anarchists, ever. You got some kind of problem with white kids? Aren't white kids part of your precious working class too? Or am I missing something? And aren't anarchists (real or not) supposed to be against war? And by extension, war memorials? The war the IBs fought was an inter-capitalist war--just like WWI and WWII. Would you feel the same about a war monument lauding the exploits of American soldiers in Europe? They were "anti-fascists" too!

It's nice to know that you, and only you, out of all the people posting on this thread, have your finger on the pulse of the American working class. What a relief that we finally have such a fine, articulate representative!
San Francisco: Stalinist Spanish Civil War Artwork Vandalized
Authored by: MD on Saturday, July 26 2008 @ 12:51 PM CDT
Large sections of the workingclass dont belong to the left. Dont be silly. I dont think im being naive at all. I have an anarchist perspective that is materialist and social and looks beyond and outside of political organisational rackets attempting to represent, divide and control people along reactionary " political programs". I have a antipolitical perspective, and dare i say it; a communist perspective. In other words im not "ignoring" anything, im saying that the relation has been bad and its not really intressting to me.

---
Omnia sunt Communia!
San Francisco: Stalinist Spanish Civil War Artwork Vandalized
Authored by: Admin on Thursday, July 24 2008 @ 09:51 PM CDT

sorry chuck, i dont need to be lectured on spanish civil war history by you or any other immature dogmatic so called anarchist.

I don't recall lecturing anybody on this topic. I was echoing Lawrence's frustration with the clear ignorance that was being displayed in the initial comments here. I'm not the only one around here who gets annoyed at people who take the time to criticize the actions of other people and then display that they don't know the basics of history.

Maturity has nothing to do with my comments.

Everyone knows about the links between the Lincoln Battallion and the USSR, there are political links everywhere to pretty much every organization, thats one of them. Every member who went over to fight and get killed by actual facists were not Stalinists and most of the Stalinists were simply dupes unaware of most of the reality on the ground. In short they had did more for humanity if 5 mintures than any first world anarchist who did this stupid act in San Fran and those who defend it do in their lifetime.

No. Most people, including many anarchists, don't know anything about the Lincoln Brigades or what happened in Spain over the 1930s. This are topics that are never covered in American history books or classes. Given some of the comments posted here, it's also clear that a few anarchists are confused about the Spanish Revolution. I don't know everything there is to know about the Spanish Revolution, but I do know that the Lincoln Brigades were not comprised of American anarchists.

Conflating participants in the Spanish conflict with contemporary anarchists in San Francisco is bizarre. Contemporary anarchists have every right to creatively protest left nonsense that is commemorated with statues, plaques and so on. American anarchists have done similar things over the years, most notably at the Haymarket monument in Chicago.

I knew several volunteers, some were stalinists, some were not. those who were, at least the ones that i knew, admit now they were wrong, but they went over there to fight fascism and thats what they did. this is the lincoln battalion, not the political police. They have relationship with actual anarchists and the cnt. So nice COINTELPRO stunt.

COINTELPRO? WTF? Why in the world would the government have any interest in this discussion or these actions?

It's not surprising that former veterans have shifted their views, but this memorial doesn't reflect their current politics, rather a historical movement.

And yes i do think the anarchist movement has faults that prevent better organizing. this is one example of that. its pretentious and dogmatic. if you look at the world today and find that your enemy is the lincoln battalion enough to put time and energy into this stupid act you have serious delusions about the state of the world.

I've yet to meet any pretentious anarchists. Anarchism is so scorned by mainstream society that it would be nearkly impossible to be a pretentious anarchist.

Anarchism does have serious problems with sectarianism. Some of us do what we can to combat that mindset.

One of the errors in logical thinking I frequently run across is the assertion that somebody engaged in overt criticism or actions is spending all of their time engaged in those activities. This fallacy conflates a few minutes spent on criticism, or critical actions, with the rest of that person's activities. I've been accused in the past of spending all of my time criticizing leftist groups like ANSWER or the ISO. That argument is preposterous--I may have spent a total of one or two hours in a given year criticizing those groups through post to forums or email lists.

Chuck0

San Francisco: Stalinist Spanish Civil War Artwork Vandalized
Authored by: punk on Saturday, July 26 2008 @ 01:02 AM CDT
the only ignorance being displayed on this forum is that of people supporting this action. it is beyond annoying and shows a simple lack of historical and human analysis.

The Lincoln brigade happend to be the path to take for those in this country, and ireland, who wanted to go fight fascism, something most people here have never and will never do.

There were anarchists, iwws, socialists, democratic socialists, and yes the dreaded authoritarian trots and of course Stalinist who ended up in leadership positions. To paint the entire brigade as a bunch of Stalinist nazis in dishonest and dogmatic.

And what really is bizarre is a bunch of pretentious san franciso anarchists, in the year 2007, would actually spend time and risk to deface a historical memorial.

I know the vets who have shifted their views or never had stalinist views to begin with and although they are now dead i know they were still proud of what they did and although would welcome debate from anarchists would not appreciate of bunch of kids doing this stupid thing
San Francisco: Stalinist Spanish Civil War Artwork Vandalized
Authored by: lawrence on Saturday, July 26 2008 @ 02:35 AM CDT
I'm not sure why you are jumping to the conclusion that people are supporting this action. I have posted nothing about supporting it. What I do not support is the cringing apologia for the "Lincolns" that you and others here have made, showcasing your monumental ignorance of the composition and goals of the Lincoln Battalion in particular, and the International Brigades in general.

What's "human analysis"?

If the IB happened to be the only path for those who wanted to fight in Spain, then why and how were there American volunteers in CNT militias? They organized themselves into the Sacco-Vanzetti centuria. Look it up. Many of the non-CPers who ended up in the IBs went over to the militias where they felt more political affinity; the IB cops hunted them down, charged them with "desertion" and often put them in punishment battalions (digging trenches, clearing minefields, all unarmed) when they didn't shoot them outright. You can look that up too.

You are the one equating Stalinists with nazis. Laure used the SS as an analogy, not as a way to say they're all the same. Learn how to read with comprehension.

Are you sure it's 2007? I suggest you stop using whatever your mind-altering drug(s) of choice is/are.

Hasn't the enhancement of the monument stirred up enough debate for you?
San Francisco: Stalinist Spanish Civil War Artwork Vandalized
Authored by: punk on Wednesday, July 23 2008 @ 09:08 PM CDT
well maybe the fact that they spray painted durrutti gives it away. but i guess that they didnt identify themselves as anarchists is good but the harm is already done. Not everyone in the Lincoln brigade was a Stalinist and this childish and idiotic behavior is just one example of why real anarchists have a difficult time doing actual organizing, as opposed to stupid pretentious political purity stunts such as this one.
San Francisco: Stalinist Spanish Civil War Artwork Vandalized
Authored by: Admin on Thursday, July 24 2008 @ 09:53 PM CDT
How in the world does partipating in an action like this prevent anarchists from "doing actual organizing." How do you know that these aren't anarchists who do organizing and were looking for something fun or critical to do? The time spent doing this action was probably less than the amount of time "actual organizing anarchists" spend drinking PBRs every day.

Chuck0
San Francisco: Stalinist Spanish Civil War Artwork Vandalized
Authored by: laure on Friday, July 25 2008 @ 07:11 AM CDT
I think the position that "punk" is taking is, at best misinformed and naive, at worst a symptom of the kind of revisionism the Stalinists and some proponents of a broad-left strategy have been quite successful in pushing.

"Punk" contradicts himself by saying in an earlier comment that these people were not Stalinists, but then later saying that not all were Stalinists. There are rather good records that indicate that 2/3 of the XV IB were from the CPUSA. Some oral accounts but this figure higher, but I don't believe they are accurate. That said, it is true that not all ALB'ers were Stalinists. But, so what? There are plenty of well-intentioned "useful idiots", excuse the phrase. A lot of people who were in the SS claim that they didn't know what was going on, and knowing how people are easily deceived, I believe it. That does not mean that we can relativize the SS and not say clearly was it was, although there are plenty of people in German (not even right-wingers) who try to portray their parents and grandparents as just some normal decent people who, yes maybe fought somewhere, yes maybe was a nazi, but they weren't bad people. Excuse the comparison, but it is a very typical way of dealing with the fact that one served a bad cause. The individual motivations or ignorance of a small part of the ALB is not so relevant when judging what, objectively, the ALB was as a whole. It cannot under any circumstances be forgotten that this was a vehicle set up by the Comintern to spread Soviet / Stalinist influence.

I have met many veterans of the ALB. The die-hard communists kept the line but a few people I met felt betrayed by having been manipulated or duped, whereas others tried to rationalize the thing away with the typical "we were all just fighting fascists" excuse.

The problem with this "common front" type of mentality, besides the fact that it tends to focus on common points of opposition and obscure the fact that the different political options therein have divergent intersts, was that this strategy was actively promoted by CP hacks, as per instructions solidified in the Comintern in 1935. (7th Congress.) Actually the strategy came about earlier, but 1935 was an important year. The communists applied entrist strategies throughout the US and Canadian labour movements and they stronly used "common front" arguments to pursuade people to join organizations dominated by them or front organizations.

I find that very often people who get into this common cause mentality often end up being used by certain political forces for their goals. This would certainly be the case with some of the ALB people. That said, they could decide to deal with it in different ways. Some rather reacted against the memory of the ALB. (If you read the obituary of Read in the IW, you can even see that some may have tried to pretend they were all the time with the CNT, not with the ALB). Others seem to be trying to reclaim the ALB experience. As I said, this is not something uncommon. One must bear in mind however that, given the fact that Stalinism was exposed and much of the left eventually gave up Stalinism, these people had a vested interest in deliberately trying to play down the Stalinist role in the ALB.

As for the non-Stalinists, we know that some wobblies, particularly the Socialist ones, chose to join the ALB rather than join anarchist structures in Spain. (We have to remember BTW that at least 5000 internationals were already fighting in Spain before the International Brigades started up.) I had some discussions with anarchists who were in Spain or who were organizing solidarity from the US. including a few old wobs, about this and why it was that some went to the ALB. There were a number of explanations offered. One was naivite or personal friendship with somebody else going through ALB. But other explanations were more interesting, There was apparently some info spread that the CNT is either not properly armed or that it's actions were "exaggerated" and that the ALB on the other hand would be well-funded and well-armed. Some of the old comrades were also of the belief that a certain faction of the IWW, in particular the old GST Thompson, did not like the CNT, saw it as some sort of competition to IWW expansion in Latin America or were threatened by its politics since they sought to keep a disproportionate influence of the socialists in the IWW. (In other words, very much a "common front" type of vision, as opposed to the attitudes of the CNT or POUM which were accused by some of being sectarian at the time.) The harshest assessments of this came from two old comrades who had been in Spain who always cursed the "Negrinists", as they referred to them, and who always cursed those who went or encouraged people to join the Negrinists.

That said, some people learned rather quickly what it meant to be anti-Stalinist in the brigades. If you had a conformist nature or were only a half-assed anti-Stalinist, you were probably left alone. Some people however wound up repressed, kicked out or abandoned. Others apparently either ran away from the ALB or tried to form their independent batallions and split off. This wasn't a very lot of them, but some.

To sum up, yes, there were non-Stalinists in the ALB, but it was formed by and dominated by Stalinists and fulfilled Stalinist politics.

In terms of the monument, one should ask why there are monuments not to everybody who fought in Spain against fascism, but particularly to the ALB. Lawrence is right: this is the result of years of PR. It also reflects the political leanings or wishful thinking of part of American academia. In this respect, adding the symbolic names of Durruti and Orwell serves as some sort of historical reminder of the CNT and POUM who are omitted in much of the history of people who went to Spain from the US.

I do agree that this can be seen as creating "heros" or leaders.

However, I think that for this action to be understood, some longer explanation should have been given. My technical recommendation for monument improvement: you can also print out texts on full page stickers which are very quick to put up and can be as long-lasting as spray paint. Then you could get up a whole statement, for anybody who would want to read it.

It's obvious why the communist apologists are outraged at the action. I see that some anarchists are not against but thought it a bit simplistic whereas others are expressing the same outrage as the stalinists. I don't know "punk" or others here and cannot guess their motivation but I can see who is criticizing it in Poland where I wrote a news piece about this on one web site. Those critics are proponents of close integration in the left and a broad-left strategy. Unfortunately, supporting this strategy sometimes seems to lead people to rationalize the very poor political choices of others on "the left", lest they have to confront some realities about conflicting interests. Again, I don't know the people here, but this is a common tendency so I wouldn't be surprised if some of the critics of this action fell into this category of people.
San Francisco: Stalinist Spanish Civil War Artwork Vandalized
Authored by: punk on Saturday, July 26 2008 @ 01:06 AM CDT
comparing the intentions lincoln brigade to the SS is one of the most ignorant things i have ever read
San Francisco: Stalinist Spanish Civil War Artwork Vandalized
Authored by: Wolverine on Friday, July 25 2008 @ 02:01 PM CDT
I'm amazed that there are still so-called anarchists like punk who still do not see the basic problems and empty euphemisms of "anti-fascism". It's empty rhetoric just like anti-imperialism(as Lawrence recently wrote). If you are an anarchist it is kind of a given that you are against fascism, the question is what is the meaning of the use from those who are not anarchist and have authoritarian inclinations.

Gilles Duave everyone

http://libcom.org/library/when-insurrections-die
San Francisco: Stalinist Spanish Civil War Artwork Vandalized
Authored by: Admin on Friday, July 25 2008 @ 02:28 PM CDT
The U.S. government fought and "won" a war against fascists.

That makes them anti-fascists, of a kind. Granted, the volunteers in ALB weren't statists, but many of them supported Stalin's Soviet Union. Not much more I can add, because there have been several excellent responses in this thread which criticize the blind worship of communist anti-fascists.

Chuck
San Francisco: Stalinist Spanish Civil War Artwork Vandalized
Authored by: CaseyFord on Friday, July 25 2008 @ 05:10 PM CDT
As usual, this has devolved into a debate where I can't quite agree with either side.

But come on Chuck. How the hell is saying that it's useless and ridiculous to deface a memorial to a group of largely good-intentioned people, some of which were anarchists the same as "blind worship of communists." Holy logical leap, Batman.
San Francisco: Stalinist Spanish Civil War Artwork Vandalized
Authored by: laure on Friday, July 25 2008 @ 06:45 PM CDT
I'm gonna have to agree with Chuck here.
Listen, lots of well-intentioned anarchists simply did stupid things. Some of them woke up and got sense, some didn't.
In a comparison that should be crystal clear, how many people joined the Bolsheviks or cooperated with them in various manner during the Russian Revolution? I bet you anything they were also well-intentioned. But does that mean I can't deface a Bolshevik monument because some anarchists cooperated with Bolsheviks?
During the Russian Revolution there were a lot of Bolshevik bastards that convinced anarchists that they were on the same side. If a person was really a normal anarchist though, they eventually woke up and told the world of the disgrace.
I don't think that it's any coincidence that so many of the anti-communist veterans stayed away from the little fraternities that sprung up after the war. If you had half a brain and a conscience and were in the ALB, you might well have found yourself in deep trouble with the CP types. I honestly don't think that any anarchist veterans of Spain, regardless of what unit they were in, would chose to see this type of historography where this is already the third monument to the Lincolns instead of to all veterans. Somebody here is really going out of the way to present history one way and not the other.
San Francisco: Stalinist Spanish Civil War Artwork Vandalized
Authored by: punk on Saturday, July 26 2008 @ 01:21 AM CDT
o common dont you know your history? apparently us ignorant anarchists need to be re educated. dont you realize that the intentions of the workers who fought nazis in Spain were the same as the SS?

What we really need to be doing to alienating more people with stupid stunts, dogmatic historical analysis, and pretentious banter so we can fell good about ourselves while the real world crumbles around us.

I think this was a point echoed by another comrade before his post mysterious disappeared from the forum... talk about Stalinism!
San Francisco: Stalinist Spanish Civil War Artwork Vandalized
Authored by: Annoyed on Saturday, July 26 2008 @ 11:37 PM CDT
I'm glad you acknowledged how my response was deleted. You wrote, "What we really need to be doing to alienating more people with stupid stunts, dogmatic historical analysis, and pretentious banter so we can fell good about ourselves while the real world crumbles around us."

That really wasn't the main point of my post, and that is probably my own fault for not being very clear. As far as the action goes, I have mixed feelings about it. But what really made me want to post on this thread was the style of debate and the needless hostility on here. One of the main things that attracted me to anarchism was the form of decision making and I think it is a shame that there is still such an unhealthy form of discourse going on. That is really what I was commenting on. I don't think this is your fault either punk: I think that lies with others. But it is very disconcerting to see a lot of the silly name calling being thrown around so liberally on here. Even if people have some kind of serious historical misunderstandings there should be some level of tolerance; particularly with people (like those posting on here) who almost definitely have good intentions.

Graebers essay, The Twilight of Vanguardism I think is important. A lot of us still have these sectarian forms of discourse ingrained is us. Even if one is correct about some historical fact, and knows it for certain, there is a civil way to discuss it without alienating people.
San Francisco: Stalinist Spanish Civil War Artwork Vandalized
Authored by: Admin on Sunday, July 27 2008 @ 03:35 PM CDT
Let's be clear that your post was deleted because it attacked one of the moderators and his positions on this subject. We don't allow people here to personally attack Infoshop collective members.

It's ironic that I have to point this out after your post takes the high ground about discourse in the anarchist movement. If you believe these things, then we shouldn't have to delete one of your posts. What I find bothersome about this thread is that several people, after being challenged about their grasp of the facts, and their foolish apologetics for people who collaborated with Stalinists, are responding by attacking the tone of people's posts, instead of addressing the arguments. I think people like Lawrence and Laure have done an excellent job providing some background on the political situation during the American involvement w/ the Spanish Revolution. My comments about people needing to crack a book is a general comment about some anarchists who are ill-informed and don't read books. I know that many anarchists do make an effort to read and educate themselves about these topics, but recall what Emma Goldman said about ignorance being the greatest enemy of freedom.

If we have anarchists who are taking the side of Stalinists, criticsm of these positions is not sectarian, rather an attempt to educate and challenge people who've adopted a rather *stupid* position. Authoritarian leftists are no more our friends than neo-fascists are our friends. Nothing sectarian about that!

Chuck
San Francisco: Stalinist Spanish Civil War Artwork Vandalized
Authored by: punk on Saturday, July 26 2008 @ 01:14 AM CDT
the fact that most anarchists are not like you and dont blindly follow this kind of nonsense is what keeps me still an anarchist. from your take on this issue it seems that anti facism and anti imperialism are the least of your concerns.

I think there is a monument to the Tuskegee airmen somewhere, why dont you get a bunch of stupid pretentious anarchists to go vandalize it so you can alienate people and feel good about yourselves.
San Francisco: Stalinist Spanish Civil War Artwork Vandalized
Authored by: lawrence on Saturday, July 26 2008 @ 02:39 AM CDT
Talk about red (and black) herrings! Not only do you need to read some anarchist history, learn how to read with comprehension, and figure out what year it is; you also need to learn how to stick to the subject, and not deflect people's attention to other, completely irrelevant topics.
San Francisco: Stalinist Spanish Civil War Artwork Vandalized
Authored by: punk on Saturday, July 26 2008 @ 10:54 AM CDT
i am sure i have read more history, and more anarchist history, than you. but this is not about playing your pissing contest game. you can read all the books in the world but if you dont comprehend them, because your mind is as narrow as any stalinist, its pointless.

In this thread i have seen the intentions of the Lincoln battalion compared to that of the SS.

"A lot of people who were in the SS claim that they didn't know what was going on, and knowing how people are easily deceived, I believe it. That does not mean that we can relativize the SS and not say clearly was it was, although there are plenty of people in German (not even right-wingers) who try to portray their parents and grandparents as just some normal decent people who, yes maybe fought somewhere, yes maybe was a nazi, but they weren't bad people. Excuse the comparison"

Again one of the most ahisotircal and ignorant things i have ever read. This along with the stupid action taking in san franciso highlight just two of the things wrong with the anarchist movement today.

you are so eager to pick stupid and pointless fights with imagined enemies, simply to feel good about yourselves, with absolutely no understanding of the mentality of the workingclass or what the consequences of your actions will be.

San Francisco: Stalinist Spanish Civil War Artwork Vandalized
Authored by: lawrence on Saturday, July 26 2008 @ 12:30 PM CDT
If you're so sure that you've read more than I, I invite you to visit my home and look at my library. Then I'd be happy to visit yours. When you assert such nonsense, you are the one engaged in a pissing contest. All I said was that you need to read more, and comprehend it better. I have plenty of comprehension skills, and am fully confident in those abilities. Your defensiveness and complete lack of any counter-examples based in fact are sure signs of your serious deficiency in that area. The evidence for your accusation of me being narrow-minded is apparently my insistence that the International Brigades in general and the Lincoln Battalion in particular were dominated by Stalinists, that the IBs were a Comintern Army in Spain, and that all the components of the IBs were being used to further the foreign policy of the Soviet Union. That's not narrow-mindedness, that's historical analysis.

The comparison between members of the SS and the "Lincolns" was a comparison, not an analogy. This is another example of your lack of comprehension. A comparison between them is based on what was said by the members themselves and their families and supporters--not a particular ideology they claimed to follow or represent. This was not a comparison of nazis with Stalinists, but of rationalizations after the fact. If you still don't understand that it's your own fault.

You believe that Stalinists and other Leninists are "imagined enemies." Is that because you ignore the actual history of the interactions between anarchists and Leninists? Here are some notable examples:
The suppression of anarchists in Petrograd and Moscow, April 1918;
The suppression of the Makhnovists, 1919-21;
The crushing of the Kronstadt revolt, 1921 (I know this wasn't an anarchist rebellion, but the ruthlessness with which Lenin and Trotsky suppressed the Kronstadters is paradigmatic);
The withdrawal of support (leading to its suppression by the KMT) from the Shanghai Commune, 1926;
The executions in Barcelona, May 1937;
The suppression of the Council of Aragon and its surrounding agricultural collectives, June-August 1937;
The crushing of the self-organized rebellions in East Berlin 1953, Hungary 1956, Poland 1956 and 1972, Czechoslovakia 1968 (again, not anarchist rebellions, but worth supporting from an anarchist perspective);
The sell-out of the French working class 1968...
Do I really need to continue? But I guess these acts of anti-working class suppression were imaginary too? Or the rebellions weren't really working class based? I'm sure glad you understand the mentality of the working class so well.
San Francisco: Stalinist Spanish Civil War Artwork Vandalized
Authored by: Admin on Saturday, July 26 2008 @ 05:33 PM CDT
There are plenty of other examples, of course.

We have a set of texts on this website that relate how the communists backstabbed anarchists who were imprisoned in southern France during the Vichy Republic during WWII.

Chuck
San Francisco: Stalinist Spanish Civil War Artwork Vandalized
Authored by: punk on Saturday, July 26 2008 @ 10:10 PM CDT
woahh what a big anarchist dick you must have! why dont you post a picture of the giant library of yours so we can all see how many big books you read. but as i said earlier, even if you do read, with such a narrow mind and your failure or comprehension and historical analysis, its pointless.

yea i said it was a comparison, and any comparison of the intentions of lincoln brigade volunteers and the SS is beyond retarded.

Everything else is a complete strawman argument on your part. but it proves my case for the stupidity of the original action. you want me to be some kind of stalinist suppressing anarchist so bad you dont know what to do with yourself and it causes you not to think rationally.

Thats why to you the war memorial is nothing more than a celebration of Stalinism. to me, and to most people, its not. both historically and practically. hence it was stupid.

San Francisco: Stalinist Spanish Civil War Artwork Vandalized
Authored by: lawrence on Sunday, July 27 2008 @ 02:00 PM CDT
If you'd actually read the comparison dispassionately, and use your rudimentary (and in desperate need of remediation) comprehension skills, you'd be able to tell that it was a comparison of AFTER THE FACT JUSTIFICATIONS, not pre-action intentions.
San Francisco: Stalinist Spanish Civil War Artwork Vandalized
Authored by: fnbrill on Saturday, July 26 2008 @ 03:03 AM CDT
OK, so the CPUSA and the International Brigades are supposed to be for "democracy" and "anti-fascist". How is it that:

1) The CPs throughout the world just a couple of years before (the Third Period - 1929-33) had been breaking up rival socialist, anarchist and unions meetings they disagreed wiih. This includes physically attacking speakers at meetings, etc.

2) The Spanish Civil War ended shortly before the Hitler-Stalin pact which made the USSR and it's political parties world round allies of Nazi Germany. Certainly the treaty was well in progress during the hight of the war.

2.5) Funny, the USSR withdrawl of from support for the Spanish Republic also coincided with the draining of the last of Spain's gold reserves, before the civil war the largest in the world, and nearly completely gone after the Civil War - all in the USSR!

3) As for the Stalinists' anti-imperialism, the USSR sold the oil and even war material that Fascist Italy needed to invade Ethiopia - in 1935-36, so just prior and during the Spanish Civil War.

4) And during WW2, folks like the CP members of the ALB fought against strikes in American factories conducted for better conditions, higher wages and against war profiteering.


San Francisco: Stalinist Spanish Civil War Artwork Vandalized
Authored by: punk on Saturday, July 26 2008 @ 10:22 AM CDT
1) the CP and the entire international brigades are not the same thing. furthermore, in terms of actual action, the Lincoln brigade is even once more removed.

2) the battalion was long gone before the fact was signed and im sure many of the members in the battalion who did consider themselves reformed their mindset after that. to me thats a good thing, i guess to most here its not.

2.5,3) strawman

4) Ok so the veterans of the abraham lincoln brigade sanctioned the breaking of domestic workers strikes for political reasons? ok please prove that.
San Francisco: Stalinist Spanish Civil War Artwork Vandalized
Authored by: lawrence on Saturday, July 26 2008 @ 12:55 PM CDT
The entire IB were made up of over 80% CPers, but they're not the same. That 20% were so significant politically that the policies of the CP were never implemented among the IBs. Sure. How was the Lincoln Battalion "once more removed"? They were also upwards of 80% Party members? Is this another example of American exceptionalism?

Many of the "Lincolns" were so upset at the Pact that they left the Party. Oh wait, that never happened on a significant scale. So insignificant that almost all of the Veterans of the ALB tried to sign up with the US military once the Pact was a dead letter and the US was the ally of the Soviet Union. The last commissar for the "Lincolns" (Milt Wolff) even worked with the OSS (precursor of the CIA). But you're "sure" about how many of the survivors of the Spanish experience behaved. It must be that finger on the pulse of the working class again. I am constantly amazed at your psychic powers.

You obviously don't understand what a strawman argument is. A strawman argument creates a false position of an opponent, the easier to knock it over. What you meant to say is that you believe that fnbrill brought up irrelevant issues: a red herring--you know, what you did earlier that I pointed out.

The CIO (a CP-dominated organization) had a no-strike pledge during WWII. This is a documented fact. But once again, you'll just say that domination of CPers is not the same as following and implementing CP policy.
San Francisco: Stalinist Spanish Civil War Artwork Vandalized
Authored by: fnbrill on Saturday, July 26 2008 @ 05:14 PM CDT
Walter Krivitsky, who was the GPU (KGB) officer in charge of the USSR's/3rd Intl efforts in Spain, left the KGB and moved to the US in 1938. In a book ("I was Stalin's Agent") published in 1940 he said the USSR's goals in Spain were three-fold:

1) Relieve diplomatic isolation and curry allies
2) A show of proletarian "solidarity" would aid in the PR problems from the Moscow show trials of the old Bolsheviks
3) Trading second hand arms for Spain's gold reserves because the USSR had little foreign exchange reserves

Krivitsy reports (which is confirmed in Rosenstone's "Crusade of the Left") that the Intl Brigade volunteers were carefully screened. IB members were also under GPU survilence and discipline and their passports taken to be used by GPU agents elsewhere. Trotsky's assasin was in Mexico using a passport of a dead Canadian IB member.

Krivitsky also reported the Hitler-Stalin pact 4 months before it was signed.

Krivitsky remained a leninist and was found dead in a hotel room under mysterious circumstances in 1941.
San Francisco: Stalinist Spanish Civil War Artwork Vandalized
Authored by: punk on Saturday, July 26 2008 @ 10:20 PM CDT
i dont see how any of that is relevant to my response.

yes they were monitored, especially those who were not stalinists or those who didnt follow the party line. but we already know the political leadership of the organization were Stalinist.

But i dont agree that the memorial was a memorial to the political leadership. and even those in the brigade who were harassed for mocking the commissars were still there to fight fascism and thats what the did. and even the stalnists who now admit they were wrong politically remain proud of the fact that they fought.

San Francisco: Stalinist Spanish Civil War Artwork Vandalized
Authored by: lawrence on Saturday, July 26 2008 @ 12:38 PM CDT
To clarify:

The Hitler-Stalin Non-Aggression pact was being actively negotiated from the end of 1937, leading to pressure on the Spanish Republic to withdraw the IBs; they were officially withdrawn in October 1938, over a year before the announcement of the Pact.
During the time when the Pact was being respected, the NKVD and the Gestapo were sharing files on dissidents and troublemakers, and the CPs (and IB vets) were back to talking about how the social democrats and liberals were the greatest enemies of the international proletariat.

The no-strike pledge during WWII was due to the fact that by then the Pact had been broken by Hitler and the US was in the war, so the patriotic duty of Americans and pro-Soviets was to go all out for the (imperialist) war effort. This policy was strictly enforced. Any history of the CPUSA will have at least one chapter on this.
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Authored by: CaseyFord on Saturday, July 26 2008 @ 04:34 AM CDT
Quick! Every whip out your giant anarcho-history dicks and prove that Communists suck (no shit, that's hard to prove) along with anyone who wasn't born with a giant anarcho-dick and so therefore fought with them naively hoping to bring about a better world. What a bunch of assholes (like George Sossenko).

</sarcasm>
San Francisco: Stalinist Spanish Civil War Artwork Vandalized
Authored by: punk on Saturday, July 26 2008 @ 10:10 AM CDT
Im glad i am not the only one who thinks these people are being pretentious and stupid.

The fact that they are doing this with a strawman only adds to the idiocy. Now one is saying that communists "dont suck". Although their knee jerk ahsitorical tirades are asmusing yet depressing.

The issue at hand is that want to view the historical memorial to american spanish civil war vets as only a monument to Stalin and nothing else. And secondly, on a practical level, why was it worth it to spend time and energy on something this stupid and what kind of consequences would it have. apparently all negative
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Authored by: HPWombat on Saturday, July 26 2008 @ 12:17 PM CDT
Question for punk: so they weren't dupes? I think you were saying they were well intentioned...but aren't dupes often well intentioned? I was playing Ghengis Khan 2 the other day and I really like the Yellow Turbans. It made me think of World War 2 and how everyone picks a favorite general and other fun trivia. If they hadn't of done the vandalism, would I know about it? I think the action was a success and has proven to create an informational conversation, whether you agree with it or not. The power of direct action! In the story of life, it is better than a coffee table book..

---
Towards a more critical discussion http://midwest.azone.org/forum/23
San Francisco: Stalinist Spanish Civil War Artwork Vandalized
Authored by: HPWombat on Saturday, July 26 2008 @ 12:20 PM CDT
correction vandalism...

and a question...what is direct action and was this "direct action" or simply creative vandalism?

---
Towards a more critical discussion http://midwest.azone.org/forum/23
San Francisco: Stalinist Spanish Civil War Artwork Vandalized
Authored by: laure on Monday, July 28 2008 @ 05:17 PM CDT
Well, although this sounds too much like sandbox shit, I have a good library on Spain and have had ocassion to read many original Comintern documents, as well as speak with veterans, so I fight the "read a book" rather incorrectly addressed. I can surely say, the more I read, the more I see very deliberate and planned strategy on the part of the Stalinists and the more interesting contemporary criticism I find. It must be noted that Polish, German, Hungarian and Russian volunteers with the IB were the most often repressed and these accounts, which are not always well known outside this region, are quite terrible indeed.

I was the person who, to push the issue, compared the volunteers with the IB to the SS. Although it is clear they had different aims, I commented on the psychology of the people. In this part of the world, this is still a very relevant issue. You can see for example how people like Gunther Grass finally came clean and told about how he joined the Waffen SS. One the one hand, anybody could understand that he was stupid, on the other hand, he was not too apologetic for his stupidity, rather brushing it off. When things like this happen, people start discussing what it means to be young and stupid and whether or not you are really responsible, as a stupid idiot, for doing things like joining the SS.

In Poland and some other post-communist countries, the question of cooperation with communist organs of repression is very serious and divisive. From time to time, people are caught, even very famous ones, and some of them argue - well, yes, I was giving information, but I didn't know that someone would wind up jailed or killed because of that - I didn't think about it, it wasn't my fault.

In the situation of ALB people, some small minority (and figures range from 1/3 to only 20%) were not stalinists and went to fight fascism. Some were given a hard time by the Stalinists, even repressed. Others just carried on with the Stalinists without much thinking. On the one hand they may have fought fascists, but they also fought anarchists and POUM. Some anarchists were killed by the Stalinists - Berneri in particular stands out as a case of hideous repression.

It would be a historical travesty in my opinion to justify the murderers of such anarchists and betrayers of the revolution by saying, well, they also killed a few fascists on the way. So what? They did more harm than good in my opinion.

Then comes the question which is relevant to everybody who fought on the wrong side or, at best, were used by enemy forces. This is the same question for the SS men and for the communist executioners.
San Francisco: Stalinist Spanish Civil War Artwork Vandalized
Authored by: yinzarchist on Monday, July 28 2008 @ 07:17 PM CDT
In my view this action was misguided and counter-productive. It definetly is morally justifiable, but so what? One can smash up or graffiti virtually anything in society and talk of why doing so was legitimate, and you'd have a point. How did this in any way advance a revolutionary objective? No, I guess we don't for sure know it was anarchists who did, seems most likely though. This is the type of thing that simply hardens potential allies opinions (I"m not talking about stalinists) and makes us appear ignorant, when we aren't. With all the symbols of oppression around us, with all the memorials to the us military, we're going to go attack a monument to a bunch of people who mostly killed fascists and were killed by fascists? Because that's what the monument represents to most people and that's most of what IB volunteers did when they were there. That was the bulk of it.

Very few anarchists were killed by the IB's and there were anarchists in the IB's. The only anarchist from the IB I've talked to didn't mention anything about repression within his unit, or being involved in repressing anarchists. That's just one dude though and I've no doubt there were very different situations, as people in this thread have mentioned. I'm just saying participants experiences were not homogenous.

But lets be real. The anarchists in Spain also killed people, some unjustifiably. The anarchists in spain also aided the repression of other anarchists. Many anarchists in Spain for dupes for stalinism. Most militias became tools of the state, incorporating themselves into the popular army, advancing government objectives. Even the Iron Column couldn't escape this fate. Anarchists joined the governmnet. Should I graffiti a monument to Oliver? Militias didn't leave the front even when fellow anarchists were being killed and repressed all around. It's real easy to look back from 70 years on and say, fuck these people, fuck those people. Just seems really simplistic and pointless to direct these kinds of attacks on a monumnent to participants in the IB. A little too high a level of purity for me for a situation when few were blameless, few were saintly, and there weren't very many easy answers.
San Francisco: Stalinist Spanish Civil War Artwork Vandalized
Authored by: lawrence on Wednesday, July 30 2008 @ 01:35 AM CDT
For the last time, the people who did this action have NEVER claimed to be anarchists. Why can't you read the original document and the discussion it and the action have provoked? Nobody is claiming that it was an anarchist action; in fact it reads a lot like ultra-left (i.e. anti-Stalinist) communist rhetoric. But that's not really the important issue is it? The issue for you is attracting "potential allies." Who are they I wonder?

With all the symbols of oppression, why choose this one? Because Stalinism has had a real impact on the actions of anarchists and other revolutionaries--mostly hostile, often murderous. That is real history, and it necessitates taking sides.

As Laure has pointed out, that the IBs killed fascists is beside the point. They also killed anarchists (who they labeled fascists--the easier to dispatch them). Most of the "Lincolns" may not have been involved in such slaughter, but that too is beside the point. They were part of an organization that had a specific agenda to carry out in Spain. A huge part of that agenda was to suppress any and all non-CP approved revolutionary experiments--which meant in practice all revolutionary experiments (collectivization of industry and agriculture, self-organized militia formations, literacy and adult education programs, self-organized health care--especially by and for women, among others). Anyone who was a member in good standing of any CP (Spanish or foreign) had to abide by and help implement the policies of the Comintern or risk arrest, torture, execution, or simple disappearance. This was carried out at the front as well as in the rear. Everyone who knew Comintern policy and didn't object was complicit--including the "Lincolns." Sure many IBs were killed by fascists, but many were killed by their CP bosses and enforcers.

The monument is a testament to the self-serving mythology of the ALB (what you describe as what it "represents to most people"). As such, it is a legitimate target for an attempted correction of fake history and the demolition of that mythology. The continuation of that mythology (like all other examples of such bullshit) relies on the continued ignorance (usually self-imposed) of "most people." Raising public objections to the continuation of such mythology is a radical act.

I am constantly amazed by the assertion that there were anarchists in the IBs. First, where is the evidence for this? Second, even if it were true, they would have been a numerically insignificant presence--which would have had zero net effect on the conduct of the IBs in terms of their work to suppress the aforementioned revolutionary experiments.

What are the examples of anarchists in Spain unjustifiably killing people? You obviously know something--why hide it from those of us who might be interested? Or is it just your attempt to create some kind of moral equivalence or relativism? Repressing other anarchists? Do you mean the widespread censorship of journals critical of the official CNT-FAI line on joining the central government? Or are you talking about something (or a bunch of somethings) else? Inquiring minds want to know. If you know of any monument to Garcia Oliver, I'll help you spraypaint it, and if we had the time to do it properly, I'd insist on spraypainting his quote over the radio in Barcelona in May 1937 about embracing the fallen Communists as his brothers and comrades. Is that also an example of "purity"? And isn't using the term "purity" pejoratively just an excuse for making all sorts of compromises with one's principles--if one had them in the first place?

One man's "simplistic and pointless" act is another's principled stance against the dilution of the negative and counter-revolutionary effects of Stalinism. Your moralistic objections mean little, especially considering your wimpy moral relativism ("few were blameless, few were saintly").

Invoking the lack of "easy answers" is just another way of saying you have no real grasp of the issues and events. The "easy answer" is to stick to principles and defend the self-organized revolutionary experiments of workers, peasants, and other dispossessed people, regardless of (and sometimes in spite of) their self-described political labels and organizational affiliations.

San Francisco: Stalinist Spanish Civil War Artwork Vandalized on San Francisco's Embarcadero
Authored by: MagonistaRevolt on Friday, August 01 2008 @ 12:26 PM CDT
I don't have the patience to read all of these comments. This action was stupid on so many levels.

1) I'd like to think that I was brave enough to join an International Brigade to fight against fascism in Spain if I had been around at that time. I'd like to think that I would not stand aside and watch Franco break the fascist seal of World War II. But I'm not sure I would have the chutzpah to pick up a rifle and go overseas to fight. And if I were to work up the nerve to do it, I'm certainly not sure that I would have had the foresight to seek out the much smaller, much less well-known anarchist international brigades. And maybe I'd desert to join their side, but maybe I wouldn't know to. Does this make me a Stalinist asshole, a future party leader of capital, scourge of some irrelevant anarchist in San Francisco? You people give Stalin too much credit.

2) You mean someone actually risked jailtime for this? Someone walked by this memorial a hundred times, seething, and planned a nighttime vandalism, evading the police to do it? Thats absolutely incredible.

3) There wasn't a statue of Christopher Colombus, George Washington or some local plutocrat you could have better directed your enmity towards? You know, someone or something that is relevant, and that passersby (and not just a handful of old-leftists and other anarchists) would have ANY IDEA why it was vandalized?
San Francisco: Stalinist Spanish Civil War Artwork Vandalized on San Francisco's Embarcadero
Authored by: lawrence on Saturday, August 02 2008 @ 11:55 AM CDT
If you don't have the patience to read the comments the action provoked, why bother commenting? Have you anything to add to the conversation? You'll never know because of your compulsion to spout off rather than look into what people have said. But that doesn't mean that I'll let you off the hook.

In order to fight against Franco, you wouldn't have had to join an International Brigade. If you'd been alive at the time, and had identified as a magonista then, you'd have been in contact with Spanish anarchists living in Mexico, and they would have told you a few things. First, that the Mexican government under Cardenas was shipping arms to Spain (the only country besides the Soviet Union to do so; even so it was very little, and under pressure from the US, they only sent one decent shipment), and you could have helped to raise funds or gather arms for that. Second, the CNT-FAI was not actively recruiting fighters for their militias from outside Spain; their line was that non-Spanish anarchists should promote the Spanish revolution internationally so that its gains wouldn't be hampered by international interference. The CNT-FAI wanted propagandists to spread the truth about the revolution, not untrained soldiers. But if you'd insisted on getting to Spain to fight, the Spanish anarchists and their supporters in Mexico would have given you the proper contacts and introductions to make it to Barcelona and hook up with the CNT-FAI militia recruiters. If you'd been a magonista in the US, the same thing would have happened since there were still magonistas in the US in the mid-1930s. If you'd been an actual magonista then, you'd have already been alerted to the antics of the CP in the US and Mexico, and with any luck, you'd have steered clear of their recruiters for the IBs.

However, if you'd been convinced--against the advice of magonistas--that the IBs were the best way to get to Spain and fight Franco, you wouldn't have been "a Stalinist asshole, a future party leader of capital"--it would have made you what the majority of the "Lincolns" eventually discovered themselves: they were dupes of Stalinist foreign policy. The fact that, at most, 10% of the survivors of the "Lincolns" became active in the Friends (earlier Veterans, but there were so few that they had to expand) of the ALB (those who raised most of the money for the monument in SF) says a lot about how disillusioned and bitter they'd become due to their experiences in Spain. The VALB was always pro-Moscow, from 1939 through 1989.

How do we people give Stalin too much credit? Stalin and his loyal agents were instrumental in crushing any and all popular movements of working class revolutionary organizations that weren't under their direct control. Stalin's directives resulted in the following:

the Chinese CP abandonment of the Shanghai Commune to the counter-revolutionary forces of the KMT, 1926;
the crushing of the revolutionary industrial and agricultural collectives in Catalonia and Aragon, 1937;
the abandonment of the Warsaw uprising, 1945;
the repression of independent striking workers in East Berlin, 1953;
the repression of independent striking workers in Poland and Hungary, 1956;
the repression of independent striking peasants in Vietnam, 1956, etc.

You find it "absolutely incredible" that people would take the time to reconnoiter the location of an illegal action? Sounds prudent to me. Or is it that you think the action itself was so distasteful and immoral that you find it "absolutely incredible" that anyone would waste their time choosing the monument to Stalinist chicanery to vandalize? If the latter, then your point number three is the same as your point number two, and you have made even less of an argument.

The choice of targets for vandalism or destruction are the responsibility of those engaging in the actions, not some sideline naysayer or Monday morning quarterback. Choose your own targets, and let others choose theirs. I hate to be the one to break it to you, but you don't get to decide what are or aren't the appropriate targets of revolutionary anger. Sure there are monuments to all kinds of people and institutions that should provoke our ire, but we each get to decide when, where, and how we'll strike at them (or not) based on our personal and collective preferences--not yours.

The choice to counter the message of Stalinist hagiography with the names of Durruti and Orwell was obviously meant to get people to look into who these two men were and what they did relative to the events in Spain. That you have NO IDEA what went on doesn't mean that nobody else does, or has no desire to learn something about it. A marginally curious person, who isn't offended by the enhancement of public art (as you seem to be), might even decide to do some quick research (the net is a dandy place to start I'm told) and find out something about Durruti. That's probably not a bad thing.