Friday, September 22, 2006

Make Your Front Popular

Those nice people at Philosophy Football have produced a series of T-shirts to commemorate the Spanish Civil War.

As Mark Perryman says: “We've tried to break with all the sectarian nonsense around this period, whatever our views of the communists or anarchists these were men and women who gave their lives in the fight against fascism so the entire memory should be respected. We're hoping to raise some dosh for the International Brigade Memorial Trust.”

I think Mark is completely correct here. I recently watched that Ken Loach film “Land and Freedom” again and I was a bit weary of the caricature of the CP international brigaders. Not only was it bad history to only show one side of the story, it also reduced the dramatic power. For example the CP are only shown fighting other lefties, there was no hint, for example, of the immense role played by the Russian air force in preventing the fall of Madrid, and the fact that there was real substance to the CP’s argument that only a professionalised army could beat the fascists. In a bizarre twist of history the argument used by Trotsky for a professional army in the Russian Civil War was put forward by the official CP in Spain, while the semi Trotskyists of POUM echoed the position of Stalin’s supporters in the Russian Red Army, that there should be a proletarian militia.

In any event – the civil war was 70 years ago, and much of the historical baggage has simply got to be put to bed.

Philosophy Football have produced these shirts, because in Mark’s own words: “Seventy years ago in 1936 the Spanish Republic were joined by the International Brigade, thousands anti-fascist volunteers from around the world, in the battle for land and freedom. Their foe, Franco and his Fascists were backed by Hitler and Mussolini while the British and other governments shamefully hid behind so-called 'Non aggression' to starve the Republicans of supplies and munitions. The battle cry of the Republic was No Pasaran , 'They shall not pass', the heroism, solidarity and sacrifice in the face of Franco's overwhelming force has inspired anti-fascists ever since.”

The four shirts depict different forces united in Spain's battle. The flag of the Left Party of Catalonia, the Catalonians like the Galicians and Basques recognised the need to unite behind the Republic against Franco. The banner of the Tom Mann Centuria, formed by British volunteers in Barcelona this unit went on to become the basis of the British Battalion of the International Brigade. Tom Mann was a militant trade unionist and founder of the Communist Party of Great Britain. The banner of the POUM militia, the unit with which George Orwell famously served. And the banner of the anarcho-syndicalist CNT-FAI, critics of the Popular Front government but allies in the fight against fascism.

Apparently sales have been going very well, and people have been buying combinations of shirts in an encouragingly non-sectarian way. Although I am pleased to report that the Tom Mann shirt is the most popular!


Will said...

I notice you didn't draw attention to this

Israel isn't 'killing a country' but is defending *'itself'* against those who want to 'kill a country' - and not only that (and more importantly) - it's defending 'itself' against those who want to annihilate it's Jewish inhabitants.

Disgusting that the stupid disgusting shit is associated with the cause of anti-fascism wouldn't you say?

Cue torrents of anti-Semitic abuse...

Will said...

Other than that mind - nice t-shirts. How much profit is the company making for each shirt? What percentage is going to the 'cause'? Etc.

And Ed is still a middle class tosser.

Darren said...

"sectarian nonesense"?

Is it April the 1st back in blighty?

Nice looking T shirts right enough. I wonder if you can get those old Marxism Today T shirts of Gramsci on ebay?

"Lovely jubbly, let's make lots of money."
- Delboy Tennant

Dave Marlow said...

Do you mind if I use this article for the Carnival of Socialism tomorrow?

LeftyHenry said...

POUM was trotskyist, not semi-trotskyist I thought? In anycase I'm starting to get annoyed with all the communist shirts that are popping up, from Che shirts to Mao shirts to Lenin and hammer and sickle shirts, they look cool, but why are they like $20? Completely counterrevolutionary! Way too much for a damn shirt lol

Ed said...

Trotsky hated the POUM. He criticised it vociferously. All the more reason to like them in my opinion.

Will said...

But apart from that Ed, is there any other reason to like them?

Southpawpunch said...

Great - remember all those who died fighting against fascism by, er, buying a tshirt and supporting a small business.

Next, remember Guevara by buying some multinational's 'Che' beer?

AN said...

The POUM were not "Trotsykyist" becasuue they supported the concpt of s Popular front, rather than a United front - to be technical.

And Dave - of course you can use this for carnival of Socialism.

The T-shirts are very good quality so it isn't an outrageous price, and some of the money goes to the international Brigae Fund.

AN said...

And it is worth quoting Mark P himself on the issue of the price: the "reason our shirts are £20 is because NOBODY in our chain of production is paid below the minimum wage! "

Ed said...

Just let it go, Will. Take a deep breath and let it go. You are a grown up.

Darren said...

Speaking of the Spanish Civil War, an interesting article from' 37 that is appearing on the web for the first time:
Spain Turns

I still think Perryman's selling pitch for the T shirts is absolute bollocks, but what do you expect from one of the old guard from the eighties Marxism Today crowd?

And the T shirts are easy on the eye, unlike his politics. ;-)