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Book Review:

Taylor,F. Jay, “The United States and the Spanish Civil War 1936-1939,” Introduction by Claude G Bowers, United Printing Services, New Haven, Connecticut, 1956.



Fascist General Franco had a lot of help from his friends

The parents of monsters are not usually examined. Thus it is with the progenitors of World War II, who were in Spain. But if the fascist monster persists, and threatens world havoc again, such an examination is in order. I set out then, to read about the Spanish Republic, Mussolini, and Hitler in the few years leading up to the fascist holocaust.

Historians like to present unassailable facts and feign objectivity. Thus, this author reports only that the Spanish Republic attempted to assert democracy after centuries of monarchy and dictatorship. They were set upon by General Franco and his Moorish troops from Morocco while the “great powers” sat on their hands.





The Abraham Lincoln Brigade is still celebrated with their U.S. magazine

A few thousand untrained internationalists, as many as 3,000 from the United States, joined the fight for democracy. Fascist Italy and Germany supplied tens of thousands of trained soldiers along with modern tanks and aircraft to defeat them. England, France, and the United States went to great lengths to pretend neutrality. Thus, fascism found its military and psychological advantage in its first great step toward taking over all of Europe. The great war became inevitable.

Author F. Jay Taylor cannot completely avoid the same conclusion. On page 189, he says: “In any event, although Roosevelt had some misgivings concerning American Spanish policy, he refused to act and so must share responsibility with Britain and France in contributing to the advent of the Second World War by appeasing Fascist aggressors in Spain.”

The books’ introduction is by the American Ambassador during the period.

Claude G. Bowers is more generous with conclusions. He says that the purpose of the Spanish Republic was “aimed at wiping out the lingering feudalism in the land and the raising of the status of the workers to that of human dignity.” He also says, ““It is a sad commentary on human weakness that while the totalitarians made no secret of their purpose, we democrats did our best to cover it up.”

Having read the book 70 years after its publication, and having read other important sources about the fascist invasion of Spain, I am explicit in my conclusion: The great capitalist powers, including the United States, nurtured European fascism in its infancy because the fascists offered to destroy the socialist bogeyman for them.

They embraced fascism over democracy then and have done it since. Examples include Iran, Guatemala, Vietnam, Chile, Argentina, Brazil, and Congo, Their current target is Venezuela.

Can one conclude anything else?

-Gene Lantz

I’m on KNON radio’s “Workers Beat” program at 9 AM Central Time every Saturday. If you want to know what I really think, check out my personal web site

I don’t tend to believe the mainstream media about Venezuela because the only people they quote are Trump Administration and a few former state department employees. I also received a few statements with a totally different take on what’s going on.

Today’s newspaper says the usual: “people in Venezuela are in revolt because their failed socialist system has wrecked the economy and, as of now, destroyed their power grid. The United States is for democracy.”

I tend to believe the interview in “Democracy Now,” which says that people on Trump’s side actually burned trucks full of humanitarian aid so they could blame it on the Venezuelan government. Here’s a quote from Pulitzer-Prize winner Glenn Greenwald: “Every time the U.S. wants to start a new war, it does it the same way, which is, it invents some really inflammatory, emotionally wrenching lie that gets people to hate the government they want to topple so much that they set their rationality aside and support the war. So, they claimed North Korea—or, North Vietnam attacked U.S. ships in the Gulf of Tonkin, which was a lie to start the Vietnam War. They claimed that Saddam had been ripping babies out of incubators in Kuwait, to start the Gulf War, which was a lie. They claimed weapons of mass destruction, which was a lie, to start the Iraq War.”

I like the anti-interventionist statement of the Dallas Peace and Justice Center. https://www.dpjc.org/our-messages/178-position-statement-no-u-s-intervention-in-venezuela

Veterans for Peace says, “Veterans For Peace is outraged at the unfolding coup d’etat in Venezuela, which is clearly being orchestrated by the U.S. government.”

Code Pink writes, “The U.S. is orchestrating a coup in Venezuela that is likely to lead to bloodshed — even civil war and U.S. liberal media are willing participants in the “humanitarian aid” PR stunt to make it happen.”

Seventy scholars and experts agreed on a statement calling for negotiations instead of intervention.

The Cuban government made a strong statement about the Venezuelan power failure. “The Revolutionary Government strongly condemns the sabotage perpetrated against the power supply system in Venezuela, which is a terrorist action intended to harm the defenseless population of an entire nation and turn it into a hostage of the non-conventional war launched by the government of the United States…” I wish it didn’t, but it makes sense to me.

As an American trade unionist, I’m most impressed by the long resolution that came from the Chicago Teachers Union. These are the brave and smart people who started today’s round of great labor successes for school workers. They point to the U.S. involvement, specifically Elliott Abrams, President Trump’s current Special Envoy to Venezuela, in the 2002 coup attempt. They continue: “WHEREAS, the U.S. has recently attempted to provoke a border incident with the Maduro government by moving $20 million worth of “aid” to Venezuela after it has frozen the foreign assets of that country, discouraged other countries from doing business with Venezuela, and imposed sanctions that increase the poverty and misery of the general population by costing the Venezuelan government billions  ever year; and

‘WHEREAS, the United Nations, the International Red Cross, and other international relief organizations refused to work with the U.S. on delivering this “aid” to Venezuela, which they say is politically motivated; and the Venezuelan government considers a Trojan Horse for an eventual military invasion’; and

‘WHEREAS, U.S. President Donald Trump, U.S. National Security Advisor John Bolden, and U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo have all explicitly stated that U.S. corporations should control the oil resources in Venezuela, which implies that this will be a war for oil; and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo stated that the elected Venezuelan President, Nicolas Maduro’s “days in office are numbered”; and

‘WHEREAS, the world is still reeling from the war for oil in Iraq, which has left that country in shambles and continues to destabilize the middle east to this day; therefore, be it

‘RESOLVED, that the Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) publicly states its opposition to any military invasion of the sovereign state of Venezuela, and insists on dialogue, diplomacy, and negotiation as the means to resolve this crisis; and

‘RESOLVED, that the CTU advocate for the suspension of the current sanctions against Venezuela, and for the U.S. to cease all threats, military mobilization, and interference in the economic and internal politics and affairs of the Venezuelan people; and respect the right of self-determination of this sovereign nation in accordance with U.S. stated commitment to the rule of law; and be it finally

‘RESOLVED, the CTU stands in solidarity with the Venezuelan labor organizations Sindicato Nacional Fuerza Magisterial (SINAFUM)i , Colectivo Clasista de Trabajadores y Trabajadoras de la Educación.ii “Carmen Conzoño” y al Frente Nacional de Lucha de la Clase Trabajadora (FNLCT)iii , and other organizations that oppose the interference in Venezuela’s sovereign affairs and the consequent threat of military intervention.”

Will Democracy Result?

If and when the U.S. takeover is completed, does anybody really expect democracy? Did the Chileans get democracy when the U.S. overthrew their government? Did the Iranians get democracy when the CIA installed the Shah? If the present government of Venezuela is overthrown, you can expect a bloodbath. The way it’s looking right now, it may be a bloodbath either way. Unless we do something!

Take a Stand Before It’s Too Late

–Gene Lantz

I’m on KNON radio’s “Workers Beat” program every Saturday at 9 AM Central Time. If you want to know what I really think, check out my personal web site

Stage West Theater in Fort Worth Texas sold all their tickets for the last matinee performance of “Are You Now, Or Have You Ever Been…” by Carlyle Brown. It’s about one of poet Langston Hughes’ testimonies to the McCarthy anticommunist committee in 1953.

“Are You Now…” in Ft Worth

People who attended because they wanted to get more insight into the great poet and his poetry, or people who just like to see a well-done one-man performance, were probably quite pleased.

Those of us who wanted to see an uplifting portrayal of America’s fight against fascism, or at least wanted to gather insight into what happened during the McCarthy period so we can avoid it now, were severely disappointed.

There were two acts. Djore’ Nance performed alone and made an effort to give an insight into Langston Hughes, his times, and his work. In other words, it was essentially a lecture. It was a very good lecture and well performed, but still a lecture.

In the second act, Christopher Dontrell Piper played Hughes’ lawyer and sat beside him while off-site questions came from, supposedly, Senator Dirksen, anti-communist spokesperson David Schine, top anti-communist prosecutor Roy Cohn, and the infamous McCarthy himself. Piper had about two lines, so the second act was about like the first, all Nance. The responses to the investigators were, apparently, mostly taken from the actual testimony in 1953.

Hughes did not stand up to Mc Carthism. He avoided any kind of confrontation. He didn’t defend his rights or anybody’s. He ended his testimony with a loving endorsement of the entire process. Yes, he probably had to. Dozens of otherwise good people caved in to McCarthyism and hardly anybody opposed it. But why make a play about it?

Why not, instead, make a play about Paul Robeson or Dashiell Hammett, or one of the others who fought back as well as they could and suffered the consequences?

The audience rose to their feet and applauded as the play closed, but they also headed for the door. I could hardly wait to get out of there. There was far more information, and more meaningful content, in the playbill than there was in the play. YouTube has dozens of more worthwhile works.

–Gene Lantz

I’m on KNON’s “Workers Beat” program at 9 AM Central Time every Saturday. If you are curious about what I really think, see my personal web site.

Almost all of the good news in American contract negotiations has been brought to us lately by school employees. Can you think of a strike victory to match what the Oakland teachers just did? How about Denver? The trail of stunning victories goes back through West Virginia (two big recent victories) and to the Chicago teachers a couple years back.

I hope you agree with me that America’s school employees are leading the labor movement. But why?

Our Texas teachers are having their lobby day Monday, March 11 in Austin. Affiliates of the National Education Association and the American Federation of Teachers are putting aside all differences and joining together to send buses from all over the state. Bonnie Mathias and I had Delna Bryan on the “Workers Beat” radio program this Saturday at 9 AM Central Time.




Gene Lantz, Delna Bryan, Bonnie Mathis at KNON on 3/9/19

I asked Delna how she accounts for the leading role of school employees and she responded that teachers make good tacticians because they are resolute. I’m not buying that. Lots of working people are resolute.

Long ago, I belonged to a sectarian radical group that owed most of its membership to the student movement. But when they saw an opportunity, they correctly started getting union jobs. At first they were convinced that the Steelworkers were the place to be. Then they changed to the Autoworkers. Last time I saw them, they were all changing to the Meatcutters. I don’t think anybody ever imagined the school employees would be taking the lead. Heck, I was a schoolteacher when all this “turn to industry” business started.

Here’s a couple of good reasons

I’ll give you two good reasons for the leading role of school employees, but not THE reason. First, school employees tend to be better educated and, consequently, better communicators than other workers. Heck, most of the factory workers I worked with couldn’t even use a keyboard. I believe I wrote the first computer program ever used in a union struggle in Texas, and that was at a time when my local didn’t know the first thing about data management or advanced communications. They had to borrow a guy from another big local just to lay out their leaflets. The other good reason, whether you agree or not, is that school employees are largely women. American women are more organizable and more organized than men. I said it and I’ll stick to it whether you agree or not. Now, here’s the REAL reason school employees are showing the way.

Here’s THE Answer

School employees are part of their communities. They no sooner start a strike or any kind of concerted action than they start getting parents’ auxiliaries, student auxiliaries, church auxiliaries, civil rights supporters, and community supporters. They do not fight alone.

During the spontaneous West Virginia school strike of last year, I interviewed on KNON the guy who set up their fund raising and raised tens of thousands of dollars and nationwide support. He wasn’t even a school employee. He was just a parent!

The Lesson for the Rest of Us

Organizing unions by workplace has been on a long downhill statistical slide since we peaked in 1957 with 30% of the workforce. Actually, the slide probably began in 1947 with the Taft-Hartley union busting law and the opportunistic union movement’s subsequent accommodation to it.

Even the wonderful new AFL-CIO leadership that began in 1995 hasn’t been able to completely staunch the outward flow of membership. and our failure to win new replacement union members.

What the new leadership did, though, has great potential payoff. They adopted Jobs with Justice and started pushing their state and local federations, along with union locals, to reach out for allies. Many of us at the state and local level haven’t learned the lesson yet, and even today we don’t do a lot of outreach beyond our own members. Some do it better than others, but nobody so far has developed the kind of outside support that the school employees get.

Making friends outside our immediate union organization is the key to winning. That’s what we must learn from the teachers, and we’d better learn it fast!

–Gene Lantz

I’m still on KNON radio’s “Workers Beat” program at 9 AM Central Time every Saturday. If you are curious about what I really think, try my personal web site

Movie Review: “The Photographer of Mauthausen,” Directed by Mar Targarona. 1 hour, 50 minutes. In Spanish and German with subtitles

Spanish Democracy in Shreds

In the news, we see that President Trump’s new best friend, the fascist President of Brazil, is involving himself in world affairs as part of Trump’s amen chorus. At the same time, the movies keep bathing us in the horrors about the last time the world lurched this close to fascism.

The 2018 Netflix film from Spain tells about a horror camp with a 50% survival rate. As in all of these many films, the Nazis humiliate, torture, gas, and otherwise murder an endless stream of victims throughout the film. The main protagonist is one of the fighters from the Spanish Republic who sought refuge after the fascist General Franco, thanks to the generosity of Mussolini and Hitler, ripped up democracy in his home country.

Some of the inmates of Nazi concentration camps, we already know from previous movies, were spared the worst of the hardships because they had a particular skill that the fascists valued. Francisco, or Franz as they call him, was a photographer.

As the inmates become aware that the German army is losing on the Eastern front, Franz convinces his fellow communist inmates that they must preserve the record of the horrors of Mauthausen. The Nazis order all incriminating photos and negatives destroyed, but Franz starts hiding them so that, he hopes, justice may someday be served. You can guess what images they select for the ending scenes of the movie.

There is a graphic novel and a movie sharing this story. I first heard about them in a review in a magazine, “The Volunteer,” about the Abraham Lincoln Brigades – the Americans who went to Spain in a hopeless attempt to preserve democracy. They appreciated both the graphic novel and the movie, even though they had some criticisms about what actually happened and yearned, as I do, for some stronger way to convey the truth. Graphic novels and movies, after all, are mostly entertainment. I think they preferred a documentary book, “Spaniards in Mauthausen,” by Sara Brenneis. She says that 10,000 who fought for the Republic ended up in Mauthausen. By now, those of us interested in fascism yesterday and tomorrow aren’t impressed even by numbers. Ten thousand tortured? Sixty million dead? How can we even imagine it?

The new movie teaches its lessons well. We learn what people have gone through and how the survivors survived. All the while, as I watched these Spaniards suffer for their heroism, I kept thinking that the most horrible of the horrors of fascism boils down to one main thing: it wasn’t necessary. There was nothing in the stars or the affairs of humankind that brought us to the holocaust. People, a few people, made it happen and other people, a few other people, were complicit because they could have made it stop.

I’m also reading a book about the United States and the Spanish Civil War, even though it wasn’t a civil war at all, and I look forward to reviewing it here. If I am too preachy, then I defend myself because this is a time for preaching.

–Gene Lantz

I’m on KNON’s “Workers Beat” program 89.3 FM in Dallas at 9 AM Central Time ever Saturday. If you are interested in what I really think, check out my personal web site