Entries from October 2019

Dale Street: Lions Led by Jackals – Stalinism in the International Brigades

Dale Street:

Lions Led by Jackals – Stalinism in the International Brigades

Alliance for Workers’ Liberty, January 2016, no ISBN]

This 40-page A4 pamphlet published by the Alliance for Workers’ Liberty traces the history of the International Brigades by way of sifting through the trove of documents from the Communist International’s archives of the International Brigades, which have recently been made available online. These offer interesting insights into the structure of the Brigades as well as the histories and motivations of those who joined them.

The International Brigades (IB) were troops set up by the Communist International who fought in the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939) on the side of the Republican forces against the fascist military coup led by General Franco and supported by Italy and Germany. The primary motivation of many members was to “fight fascism”, which showed a high level of individual and collective courage. Many certainly thought that they were, while fighting against fascism, also fighting for communism. They were about to be disappointed. As Street writes, “The goal of the Popular Front [Republican] government, which included representatives of the Spanish Communist Party, was not working-class revolution, but defense of bourgeois power and property relations” […] “Confronted with the greatest working-class insurrection in Europe since the October Revolution, Stalinism sought to demobilise and confine that insurrection to the limits of a “bourgeois-democratic revolution’”. The International Brigades were disbanded by the Republican government in 1938.

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