[Marxism] thing to see in Barcelona

Joaquin Bustelo jbustelo at gmail.com
Thu Apr 16 15:41:49 MDT 2009


What I would do is read "Homage to Catalonia" by George Orwell. And then see
if there are any traces or remembrances of that Barcelona still about. I
read it decades ago, when I was part of a reporting team that went to cover
the first post-Franco elections, and there were some traces of it
re-emerging after decades of Franquismo. But also, it was a political
climate where at a humongous Felipe Gonzalez rally on the ramblas the most
popular chants were "Prisoners to the Street. Common ones too" and "We want
bread, we want wine, we want Fraga hanging from a pine." It impressed me to
no end because it was the first time I'd seen a "jumbotron" I think they
were called -- a giant TV screen where the image of those speaking was
displayed large enough for hundreds of thousands to see.

Not quite what Orwell had experienced, but still distant enough from
American political backwardness as to leave a lasting impression. 

Here is a taste of Orwell:

It was the first time that I had ever been 
in a town where the working class was in the saddle. Practically every
building 
of any size had been seized by the workers and was draped with red flags or
with 
the red and black flag of the Anarchists; every wall was scrawled with the 
hammer and sickle and with the initials of the revolutionary parties; almost

every church had been gutted and its images burnt. Churches here and there
were 
being systematically demolished by gangs of workmen. Every shop and cafe had
an 
inscription saying that it had been collectivized; even the bootblacks had
been 
collectivized and their boxes painted red and black. Waiters and
shop-walkers 
looked you in the face and treated you as an equal. Servile and even
ceremonial 
forms of speech had temporarily disappeared. Nobody said 'Senior' or 'Don'
or 
even 'Usted'; everyone called everyone else 'Comrade' and 'Thou', and said 
'Salud!' instead of 'Buenos dias'. Tipping was forbidden by law; almost my
first 
experience was receiving a lecture from a hotel manager for trying to tip a 
lift-boy. There were no private motor-cars, they had all been commandeered,
and 
all the trams and taxis and much of the other transport were painted red and

black. The revolutionary posters were everywhere, flaming from the walls in 
clean reds and blues that made the few remaining advertisements look like
daubs 
of mud. Down the Ramblas, the wide central artery of the town where crowds
of 
people streamed constantly to and fro, the loudspeakers were bellowing 
revolutionary songs all day and far into the night. And it was the aspect of
the 
crowds that was the queerest thing of all. In outward appearance it was a
town 
in which the wealthy classes had practically ceased to exist. Except for a
small 
number of women and foreigners there were no 'well-dressed' people at all. 
Practically everyone wore rough working-class clothes, or blue overalls, or
some 
variant of the militia uniform. All this was queer and moving. There was
much in 
it that I did not understand, in some ways I did not even like it, but I 
recognized it immediately as a state of affairs worth fighting for.

Joaquin





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