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George Orwell

Homage to Catalonia

At the time when he volunteered to take part in the Spanish Civil War, George Orwell was already full grown (30+ years old), well educated and acquainted with left wing politics, so in that sense fully capable of seeing through the romanticism of the revolution and the behind the scene political games.

What he offers in the Homage to Catalonia is a sincere and direct report of his experience, his own disillusionments and reaffirmations of his beliefs, his admiration of the common Spanish people and their devotion to the struggle.

He stresses multiple times that his purpose is not to spread any kind of propaganda or to mystify (on number of places within the book he confronts the official propaganda of various origins to his own direct experiences) but instead he writes only of what he saw with his own eyes or second hand accounts from people whom he knew.

I can easily identify with Orwell, with his drive to commit himself to a noble and worthy goal, with his horror when he saw the state of spontaneity (in a bad sense), disorganisation and dysfunctionality on which his life started to depend on (lack of arms and materials, command structures, planned military movements and offensives, unity between various factions), especially when the infighting of the May days started.

The description of the front line, boredom, lack of hygiene, cold, confusion is so much contrasted to an elevated romanticised view of the revolutions that is sometimes offered.

Informative, easy to read and in the age of various “Occupy”, “99%” and various “Spring” movements still very relevant. I recommend it to anyone who wants to know more about Spanish Civil War, Catalonian anarchism, and taking part in changing the world in general.

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