From the writer George Orwell who brought us Animal Farm and 1984 also came a much lesser known autobiographical piece, Homage to Catalonia. In fact, when I picked up this book during a Sunday morning walk back from church, the used book was in a perfect and seemingly unused condition- the previous owner took, seemingly, little interest in this little read.
What a find I was to have on that brisk March morning! In the book, Orwell takes the reader with him into the literal trenches of the Spanish civil war, a time during which he puts down the pen and takes up a rifle to fight the fascist army of General Francisco Franco.
Famed writer George Orwell. Few think of his time as a soldier in Spain
Orwell goes from Commentator or Actor/Advocate
From Animal Farm, one understands that George Orwell is very critical against any political elite and even more against a lack of vigilance by the masses.
From 1984, we hear Orwell’s warnings against the mix of Fascism and modern technology which will enable a government to achieve the unnatural capabilities of absolute tyranny. In both novels, Orwell is clear in his preference of a political system and economy that is collectively controlled by every resident and citizen of that country.
Gonna be honest, Even if the book wasn't written by Orwell, this book cover with a Joan Miro painting alone would have gotten me to take Homage to Catalonia home with me
Yet, in A Farewell to Catalonia, Orwell introduces readers to the virtues of modern anarchy.
I and many others have generally understood anarchy to be synonymous with chaos. I generally picture a mix of downtrodden lower income laborers and young educated elites destroying public spaces, the burning of buildings and mass looting of private businesses. But that simply is not classical anarchy.
George and the POUM (Partido Obrero de Unificacion Marxista) militia he fights for in Spain are fighting to maintain and increase the post revolution prevalence of locally based popularly elected governments and militias.
Anarchy, a doctrine of local governance and collectivized production
As observed by Orwell, Women openly served in the counter-fascist militia's in the early parts of the revolution
For the neo-anarchist, violence, corruption and classism are simply natural to human nature. Thus by keeping governments and nation state militaries small, taking the industrial complex out of war and governance, citizens can simply minimize the damage that humans can do to each other.
In the book, Orwell walks the reader through both the militaristic and civilian aspects of the Spanish civil war. Muddy trenches and under-prepared socialist forces characterize his experience at the front while block-to-block combat and political divisions paint a picture of the civilian perspective of the civil war.
On subject matters such as media censorship, class-based political psychology, and interstate ideological chess games, Orwell makes some very good observations.
A Call to Consciousness for the Worker
One of the most poignant of his observations is that of the bourgeoisfication of the middle class, in which working class individuals aspire to be and identify with the bourgeois and social elites. Most importantly, their political sentiments begin to adversely affect their actual political interests.