Monday, January 12, 2009

TOO BAD Orwell is not alive, because we could use him reporting from Gaza: a great post by Jim Sleeper:
[W]e need reporting like George Orwell's from the bloody Spanish Civil War in 1936. Orwell joined and fought for the democratic left against the fascist Franco, but he quickly found something his leftist readers didn't want to know: Franco wasn't the only evil enemy of freedom in Spain.

If a new Orwell informs us that Israel, although it's hideously cruel and wrong, isn't the only evil enemy of freedom in Gaza, will anyone want to know?

Orwell watched Stalinists, the supposed champions of democracy, killing not only fascists but also other leftist and liberal democrats. He learned that the Stalinists were fighting less for Spanish republican freedom than for Spanish submission to Moscow. "The Communist influence in Barcelona was not progressive but reactionary," as Orwell put it.

The leftist British New Statesman and Nation refused to publish his reportage. That drove him to write his great book Homage to Catalonia, which also had trouble finding a publisher. Franco was so truly and obviously bad that no one wanted to hear that some of those fighting him were just as bad, possibly worse.

A reviewer of Homage for the Daily Worker called Orwell a "disillusioned little middle class boy" who couldn't stomach a tough fight for freedom. But it was Orwell who could stomach the truth, while, to this day, defenders of the idealistic but naive young American leftists who went to Spain in 1936 still deny what they actually served. That denial is sustained by the fact that Franco won, sparing us any disillusionment with a Communist Spain.

If Israel in Gaza can be likened in some ways to the fascists in Catalonia, can Hamas be likened to Stalinists who seemed (and sometimes were) heroic but carried a dreadful poison of their own?