Review Of George Orwell's 'Homage To Catalonia'

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Homage to Catalonia

The violence during the Spanish civil war which took place in 1936 until 1939 sets the framework for George Orwell's book Homage to Catalonia. Spain was a republic and the popular front won the elections in 1936; the same year the civil war started. The Popular Front was an electoral coalition and pact signed by many communist party and the republicans for the purpose of the elections in 1936. The elections were close so that means that almost half of the people in Spain did not support the Popular Front, which was one of the causes for the war. Several different political movements occurred in Spain during the war, such as fascism which was a political ideology based on nationalism and authoratianism. General Franco was a supporter of fascism and he tried to overthrow the current government. As a result fascism promoted political violence and approved war; it opposed enlightenment ideas, rejecting democracy, equality and liberty. Within the fascist point of view there was a natural hierarchy, some people were born to be superior to other. Although Franco was a fascist not all people who supported him were fascists. Some of them were monarchists, nationalists, landowners and also the church supported Franco. During this period, major political ideology was communism. Unlike fascism, communism was more similar to Enlightenment ideas, so that people who opposed fascism were mainly supports of communism. Communism was a part of socialism and communists wanted to replace capitalism with socialist ideals and ultimately with communist ideals. These reformists desired reform in gradual changes, moving step by step. Communism did not reject democracy and was an open sphere of participation, people can actually choose something. George Orwell was supporter of communism and he joined a communist party. Orwell actively participated during the whole war and strongly opposed Franco and fascism, but at the end he had run away to England. Franco thought that his putsch would be short and that he would overthrow the government in a few days, but it became three years of long civil war. The majority of the Spanish army supported Franco but a minority did not. There were revolutionaries and counter-revolutionaries that opposed Franco and defended the republic instead. Orwell joined the revolutionaries; he joined the group named the POUM— Workers’ Party of Marxists Unification. Revolutionaries’ parties were referred to as left socialists. POUM was a smaller party, and was anti-Stalinist but Marxist. Because the party was small and didn’t have a lot of money there was often a shortage in food or rifles, such as when Orwell says “In the POUM militia shortage of rifles was so desperate that the fresh troops reaching the front always had to take their rifles from the troops they relieved in the line” (Orwell 10). The largest revolutionaries’ party was the Anarchist— CNT/FAI. Catalonia was the area where the Anarchists were the single strongest party. With their strength in Catalonia, Anarchists opposed the state in principal and rejected the centralized form of authority. Counter-revolutionaries were the second group which opposed Franco, with the biggest counter-revolutionary party being the Communists; the Communists had a lot of help from Russia. There were also the PSUC— United Catalonian Social and UGT— General Union of Workers and the Liberals. The counter-revolutionary parties were called the right socialists. Communists were not supporting revolutionary ideas. The goal of communism was to achieve a classless society. People opposed Franco because they were against fascism. Both revolutionaries and counter-revolutionaries wanted to save the government and not let Franco impose fascism. Also one of the reasons why people opposed him was fear of violence. Fascism used violence and as seen in Orwell’s book, Franco had a history of being very violent to people who opposed him, and even