75th ANNIVERSARY OF GUERNICA

Philosophy Football Guernica shirt sleeve detailPhilosophy Football Guernica shirt26 April 1937. The Nazi Luftwaffe backed Franco’s fascists with the first ever carpet bombing of an undefended civilian target, Guernica. This atrocity horrified the world and helped to shift public opinion behind the Spanish Republican cause, though shamefully not that of the British Government, which stuck steadfastly to its ‘non-intervention’ line.

George Steer’s eyewitness acount in The Times described what he saw as ‘without mercy, with system’, words that remain tragically pertinent to the bloody legacy of carpet bombing in conflicts ever since.

Philosophy Football’s anniversary T-shirt, reflecting Picasso’s famous painting, bears witness to Guernica and is available here.

65 comments on “75th ANNIVERSARY OF GUERNICA

  1. Tudeh Comrade on said:

    Guernica was awful; civilians being slaughtered by fascists; the world doing nothing. Reminds me of Syria now.

  2. The Guernica bombing, as awful as it was, occurred on one day.
    This just goes on and on, while China and Russia stick steadfastly to their non-intervention line:

    I hope someday Philosophy Football produces a Homs t-shirt.

  3. #2

    Indeed Gene, and perhaps a Gaza t-shirt too in commemoration of the victims of Operation Cast Lead. Perhaps too a Sabra and Chatila t-shirt.

  4. #3 I’m absolutely confident that the consistently humanitarian Gene would back those suggestions, John.

  5. paul fauvet on said:

    Surely the equivalent of Guernica for our time happened at Srebrenica in July 1995.

    It is a testimony to the degeneration of much of the left that so little solidarity was shown for the people of Bosnia, under fascist attack just as surely as the people of Spain were in the 1930s.

  6. Jellytot on said:

    @1the world doing nothing

    The Soviet Union did plenty.

    Anyway direct comparisions are silly and inaccurate.

    The world is a different place compared the 1930’s and whilst realising that the “New Hitler” nonsense is popular with everybody from the Neo-Conservatives through to the ‘Cruise Missile’ Left, there are no regimes today that mirror the existential threat represented by Fascism back then.

    BTW Good T-Shirt design. No Pasaran !

  7. The world is a different place compared the 1930′s and whilst realising that the “New Hitler” nonsense is popular with everybody from the Neo-Conservatives through to the ‘Cruise Missile’ Left, there are no regimes today that mirror the existential threat represented by Fascism back then.

    So we don’t need to recognize the death and suffering of innocent civilians unless it was part of the existential threat represented by Fascism back then?

    To paraphrase Stephen Spender on the Spanish Civil War: unless you care about the deaths of innocent children everywhere, you don’t care about the deaths of innocent children anywhere.

  8. Gene,

    Gene @7 – you see, I agree that JT hasn’t quite nailed it (he rarely does), but my advice is to take the moralism out of your posts. What’s being discussed is the threat to children, yes, everywhere, by a Western military intervention. It’s the merest fantasy to suppose that this would take place in the interests of children, or of anything but Western (however you configure that) advantage. I want Assad gone, but I don’t want the West to benefit in the merest morsel from his going; suggesting someone doesn’t care about innocent children because they disagree with you (or even Stephen Spender), is most distasteful, to be honest.

  9. Jellytot on said:

    @7So we don’t need to recognize the death and suffering of innocent civilians unless it was part of the existential threat represented by Fascism back then?

    You can recognise it all you want but it shouldn’t alter the politics of the issue.

    @8

    richsw.

    Condolences for having to be on the same side of this debate as Saint Gene of the “Innocent Children”.

    How is that tightrope BTW ?

    I don’t want the West to benefit in the merest morsel from his going

    But they will.

  10. Gene: unless you care about the deaths of innocent children everywhere, you don’t care about the deaths of innocent children anywhere.

    If that’s the criterion, you should be praising and defending socialist Cuba, which has lower infant mortality than the USA.

  11. Jellytot

    JT @9 (actually @ almost any number, almost any thread): if you adopted the simple strategy of reading what I wrote, you’ll see that I contradicted him on every point. I know what’s actually written means nothing to those who never make mistakes, but everyone can see you’re making it up – have some self-respect…Then fuck off.

  12. Jellytot on said:

    @11if you adopted the simple strategy of reading what I wrote, you’ll see that I contradicted him on every point.

    But you are essentially on the same side on the Syria issue and your respective positions will lead to the same outcome.

  13. So if it was shameful that the British government did not help the Spanish republicans in 1936 (and it was), why has it now become shameful to even suggest that the British government help the Syrians fighting Assad’s tyranny in 2012?

  14. Jellytot on said:

    @13why has it now become shameful to even suggest that the British government help the Syrians fighting Assad’s tyranny in 2012?

    It’s not shameful, just politically wrong.

  15. lone nut on said:

    Before supporting these Syrian rebels would it not be best to find out what they think about gays, women, the Protocols etc? And in general think of hundreds of other hoops they would have to jump through before any solidarity would be extended to them? Otherwise certain unscrupulous blogs might accuse us of entering into a shameful alliance with Islamofascists.

  16. You have not indicated why support for the Spanish government in the late 1930s, which faced a rebellion / invasion by German & Italian backed fascist forces, is in parallel with support for NATO / GCC backed overthrow of the current Syrian government.

    It’s not shameful, just politically wrong.

    I’m not sure the people being bombarded in Homs appreciate the difference.

  17. Before supporting these Syrian rebels would it not be best to find out what they think about gays, women, the Protocols etc? And in general think of hundreds of other hoops they would have to jump through before any solidarity would be extended to them? Otherwise certain unscrupulous blogs might accuse us of entering into a shameful alliance with Islamofascists.

    No, when people are being massacred, I don’t think these are the most urgent considerations.

  18. lone nut on said:

    “No, when people are being massacred, I don’t think these are the most urgent considerations.”
    Strange, you do when people are being massacred by your favourite state in Gaza or southern Lebanon.

  19. I’m waiting to hear from Gene what he has been doing to protest against the Assad regime. The pickets, the demonstrations, the T-shirts. Surely his care for the innocent children stretches to actually organising something rather than complaining on here. Oh, by the way, I have been on a demontration against the Syrian regime, though it was against their influence in Lebanon.

  20. Jellytot on said:

    @18I’m not sure the people being bombarded in Homs appreciate the difference.

    Use of heavy weaponry by whoever in built-up areas is appalling but how will Western intervention stop this? All that would happen is a reversal of forces and a different community being massacred.

    What determines the position of many on here Gene is not selective morality but the politics of the area. Successful intervention in Syria would give succour to those who a pushing for war with Iran; the consequences of which would be terrible.

    http://www.socialistunity.com/whos-threatening-who/

    Look at this map and colour Syria in Red.

    @11you’ll see that I contradicted him on every point.

    I thought you were coaching him/her.

    “but my advice is to take the moralism out of your posts.”

  21. If you are on the left, there is nothing wrong with your first instinct being one of support for the uprising against Assad. Partly because he leads a repressive and exploitative regime and partly because (and you often wouldn’t know it reading some of the posts here) Syria has a history of working with western imperialism.

    However, we must also appreciate that within any uprising there are bound to be different interest groups some of whom we would be more readily sympathetic to, some of whom we would not. The general media is often not helpful in this regard as they always seem to make the assunption that the rebels are all one homogenous mass of people power. And just as we will seek to understand the different sections within the broad uprising, so will the imperialist powers who will frame their possible intervention around how they evaluate the opposition.

    We on the left need to avoid the potential traps of being either too apologist for Assad or too naive when it comes to the west moving in just to help replace one set of brutal exploiters with another.

  22. #17 And again you hit the target square on.

    It’s like Her Magesty’s Trots the AWL, when islamists are fighting against imperialism and its allies they’re reactionary homophobic anti-semitic islamofascist scum.

    But when they’re on the same side things are just a little bit different.

  23. Harsanyi_Janos on said:

    Omar: Indeed, and this article in today’s Indy rather confirms that the uprising is being supported directly or via proxy,including the current Libyan regime, by Western/Gulf interests:

    http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/middle-east/rebel-forces-armed-by-wealthy-exiles-7320510.html

    Assad’s men — according to the UN — are now “targeting children” with snipers and using fragmentation ordnance against civilians: “army snipers and Shabbiha gunmen [from pro-Assad militias] posted at strategic points terrorised the population, targeting and killing small children, women and other unarmed civilians. Fragmentation mortar bombs were also fired into densely populated neighbourhoods.”

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2012/feb/23/syrian-regime-crimes-humanity-un

  24. #27

    Well given that the Assad regime does not identify itself in religious terms, yet again you’ve entered a spurious historical analogy.

    What’s going on in the Middle East today cannot be compared to Spain in the 1930s. Spain then was in a struggle to resist fascism as it began its expansion throughout Europe. In the Middle East we have an imperialist assault attempting to take advantage of social convulsions that have spread throughout the region as a result of contradictions created by those same imperialist states since they first carved it up in their own interests.

    For you of course, with an understanding of historical events that accords to a John Wayne movie, none of this matters.

  25. Gene,

    @13 – the question isn’t one of quibbling and logic, I’m afraid, but of facing up to what’s happening now. Western intervention will bring death and mayhem, and defeat the rebellion. It will do so in its own interests, however you configure it, and not those of the children you bring to our attention (as if doing so gives you the high ground).

  26. lone nut on said:

    “What about all the catholics massacred by the godless Spanish Republicans?”
    The massacres of Catholic clergy and nuns carried out by ultra left forces in the early months of the Spanish Civil War did of course have an enormous negative impact on support for the Republic domestically and internationally, which is why the Communist Party halted them as soon as it was able to exert control. In the Basque Country this was not a central issue as the Church was generally supportive of the Republic, and the government was dominated by the Catholic nationalist PNV. The vast majority of those who were massacred at Guernica would of course have identified themselves as Catholics.

  27. paul fauvet on said:

    There’s an “imperialist assault” on the Middle East, wails John.

    So is it the Americans who are raining down death and destruction on Homs? Were courageous journalists such as Marie Colvin killed by British bullets?

    Your problem is that you have a crude, ideological explanation for everything that goes wrong in the world. It’s all the fault of the wicked imperialists!

    Reality is never allowed to break through this ideological fog.

  28. #31

    ‘So is it the Americans who are raining down death and destruction on Homs?’

    No but they have on Iraq. Or has that mission to liberate the Iraqis slipped your memory so soon? Or what about Afghanistan? No, that one forgotten too? Okay, what about Libya in that case?

    Not wailing Paul. Just observing the facts. You should try it sometime.

    As for Marie Colvin, yes her death was a tragedy. But any more tragic than the death of a Syrian, Iraqi, Libyan?

    Of course she happens to be white, blonde and American, which translates to her life being accorded more worth than any of the aforementioned. At least it does in your perverse worldview, it seems.

  29. #30

    ‘The massacres of Catholic clergy and nuns carried out by ultra left forces in the early months of the Spanish Civil War did of course have an enormous negative impact on support for the Republic domestically and internationally…’

    Yes, this was particularly the case in Ireland and the USA as far as I am aware.

  30. As for the alleged targetting of journalists by the Syrian army, let’s not forget that there is evidence of not a small ammount of this by the US in Iraq. And let’s not forget the bombing of the TV station in Belgrade during an earlier conflict.

    And yes, the death of Ms Colvin was tragic, and if she was targetted because of her profession that has particularly to be condemned.

  31. #34

    ‘let’s not forget that there is evidence of not a small ammount of this by the US in Iraq.’

    Exactly, Vanya, Al Jazeera’s Tareq Ayyoub was killed in a US airstrike in 2003, which Al Jazeera and eyewitnesses claimed was deliberate.

  32. paul fauvet on said:

    From John and Vanya, we have some classic “whataboutery”.

    I mention Homs, and John accusing says “what about Iraq?”

    I mention the death of courageous journalists in Homs, and Vanya says “what about the TV station in Belgrade?”

    This is known as changing the subject.

    As a matter of fact, I, like you John, opposed the US invasion of Iraq, and demonstrated against it.

    But Iraq and Syria happen to be different countries, and you can’t mechanically transpose events in one to the other.

  33. paul fauvet on said:

    No, John, of course I don’t regard the murder of Tareq Ayyoub as “a mere bagatelle”.

    Socialists ought to be opposed to the murder of journalists everywhere.

    As for your remark about “spreading freedom and democracy to the dark peoples of the world”, that’s just a stupid slur that is quite unworthy of you.

  34. #36

    ‘But Iraq and Syria happen to be different countries, and you can’t mechanically transpose events in one to the other.’

    Ha, I had to suppress a laugh at this, Paul. You after all are forever coming on here trying to draw comparisons between western intervention in Libya, Syria et al and Spain in the 1930s.

    Not only do you repeatedly attempt to mechanically transpose events in one country to the other, you attempt to transpose those events between historical epochs and different regions.

  35. #36

    ‘From John and Vanya, we have some classic “whataboutery”.’

    Are you seriously suggesting that recent events in neighbouring countries to Syria, in the same region, have no bearing whatsoever on both the actions of the Syrian regime and those of the opposition?

  36. #37

    ‘As for your remark about “spreading freedom and democracy to the dark peoples of the world”, that’s just a stupid slur that is quite unworthy of you.’

    If this misrepresents your views, Paul, I’m happy to take it back and apologise.

  37. #37 “Socialists ought to be opposed to the murder of journalists everywhere.”

    Which is why I said (I had hoped unnecessarally),

    “And yes, the death of Ms Colvin was tragic, and if she was targetted because of her profession that has particularly to be condemned.”

  38. From John and Vanya, we have some classic “whataboutery”.

    A minor point perhaps, but this thread did start off as about Guernica before it set off on the trail of ‘what about Syria’ etc. Not saying analogies and comparisons shouldn’t be made but what about that point?

  39. lone nut on said:

    Well without upsetting any of the NUJ contributors I for one am getting heartily sick of mawkish eulogies to dead journalists. Let’s not forget that they are there on a voluntary basis and getting highly paid for it, which is not true of the unfortunate actual inhabitants of Homs or anywhere else. Stephen Budiansky has put it well in my view:
    “Front-page stories, obituaries of a size once reserved for popes, and an endless parade of op-ed pieces and columns paying tribute to the departed colleague have become the norm every time a prominent or even not so prominent journalist kicks the bucket.
    When Christopher Hitchens died last year, a veritable industry sprung up producing essays of the “I once met Christopher Hitchens, too” variety. (Actually, since he had been prominently dying for months, it was not necessary to wait until he was officially dead to whip those pieces out, and many got a head start.)
    Yesterday the New York Times had on its web site, as a lead story for most of the day, a report bearing the headline, “Two journalists killed in Syria” or words to that effect. Finally late in the day slightly cooler heads apparently recalled that a few other things were also going on in Syria; the headline was rewritten to read, “Two journalists among scores killed in Syria.”
    Is this just part of the miserable epidemic of self-promotion that is everywhere these days? Journalists used to have it bred in their bones not to confuse themselves with the story. It would take nothing away from honoring our colleagues and our personal grief to remember that there is a time and place for everything, and that the only claim the dwindling number of real news reporters have left in this world of confessional memoirs, infomercial-advertorials, and nonstop blowhards is the objective detachment that was once the touchstone of our business.”
    http://budiansky.blogspot.com/2012/02/thousands-of-journalists-dead-as-world.html?spref=fb
    Incidentally, if Hitchens had been killed in the same circumstances as Marie Colvin it would have been up there with Christmas and New Year for me.

  40. Harsanyi_Janos on said:

    lone nut: Incidentally, if Hitchens had been killed in the same circumstances as Marie Colvin it would have been up there with Christmas and New Year for me.

    Your pseudonym is very fitting.

  41. cliff foot on said:

    #44 – weasel words – ‘effectively an embedded journalist’, evidence? None. Interestin word, effectively, isnt it? Not conclusively, effectively, how comfortable that must appear on your laptop in your safe european home. ‘hardly evidence of Syrian army…targeting journalists’, please give regards to your friends at the Syrian embassy, not.
    You have a corpse in your mouth.
    #47 – Humanitarian of the year award?

  42. lone nut on said:

    “Your pseudonym is very fitting.”
    So is yours, if it is meant as Cockney rhyming slang.

  43. Karl Stewart on said:

    An article is posted marking the 75th anniversary of Guernica and immediately our regular pro-NATO commentators jump in and start spouting off their support for NATO’s current campaign to conquer Syria.

    When others argue against this it is they who are then accused by NATO supporter Paul Fauvet of “whataboutery” and of “changing the subject.”

    PaulF, in retrospect, do you think you should withdraw this accusation and admit that it is you and your pro-NATO fellow thinkers who have, in fact, “changed the subject”? Do you accept this?

    However, if anyone does want to make an analogy between the Spanish Civil War and today’s Syria, then consider the following.

    1. Which side is the existing and previously internationally recognised government?

    2. Which side is supported by the majority of the population?

    3. Which side is being actively supported militarily by the world’s most powerful foreign powers?

    4. Which side is led by high-profile defectors from the regular army?

    5. Which side is secular?

    Of course there are far more differences than there are similarities, but to the extent that any similarities exist between the Spanish Civil War and today’s Syria, it is the pro-government Syrians who are the Republican side and NATO and its Syrian supporters who are the Francoists.

    And if you’re looking for a Spanish Civil War analogy with Homs, then it is the seige of Alcazar not Guernica.

  44. Red Writer on said:

    Tom (#51) if you are going to jump into an argument with the usual knee-jerk stereotyping, at least get the most elementary facts straight. Far from making excuses for the Soviet intervention in Czechoslovakia in 1968, the CP in Britain – whom I presume you mean by the “Stalinists” – condemned the intervention at the time, in the strongest terms. Sorry for any confusion caused by this fact.

  45. Jellytot on said:

    @54And if you’re looking for a Spanish Civil War analogy with Homs, then it is the seige of Alcazar not Guernica.

    Interesting observation Karl

  46. Karl Stewart on said:

    This Tom character (51) is a prime example of some of the disturbingly loopy individuals who post on here sometimes.

    How on earth can anyone link the death of a Sunday Times journalist in Syria a few days ago to the Warsaw Pact military action in Czechoslovakia some 44 years ago?

    Where’s the connection between the two?

    And why is Tom so angry with Noah about both of these events?

    How is Noah in any way responsible in either case?

    What a truly peculiar individual you must be Tom.

  47. Not only did the CPGB oppose the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovskia in 1968, they did so both privately and very publically. According to his recent biography Bert Ramelson spoke at an international Communist conference in Poland opposing the invasion despite pressure on him not to be the Polish & East German parties

  48. What a shitty mess of a thread this is.

    Nice t-shirt, anyway.

    Shame there are no threads about Syria to argue about Syria on.

  49. BTW, it’s good to note that an article published today by the Chinese Xinhua news agency includes a phrase which tells it like it is on the Syrian issue:

    “the United States and Europe are hiding a dagger behind a smile — in other words, while they appear to be acting out of humanitarian concern, they are actually harboring hegemonistic ambitions.”

    Exactly.

  50. Jellytot on said:

    @62 What a shitty mess of a thread this is.

    Maybe it is but it’s interesting to see the SWP regulars, paul fauvet, Darkness at Noon, St. ‘Gene’ (Patron Saint of Innocent Children) and the rest of the HP types essentially on the same side on this one.

  51. Mark Victorystooge on said:

    #60 – Tom is fairly typical of the left in imperialist countries, for whom “anti-Stalinism” is a transmission belt to supporting their “own” bourgeoisie in war.

  52. Jellytot on said:

    @70Ahh, second campists show us the way!

    It’s a shame that the third camp is serving the interests of the first camp, eh ?

  53. #74 All it confirms is your delving into the murky world of second campism.

    I was/am against the war in Iraq and Afghanistan. Some nazis were also against these wars but for very different reasons, so I guess by your logic all us anti war folk were supportive of the white supremacists anti war stance.

    It is extremely lazy for those suggesting that people who would like to see Asad overthrown ergo support NATO intervention. That’s not the case and they know it’s not the case, it’s just an apolitical slur.

  54. 69, Jellyman, but you know that. You’re not in the least worth engaging on this, as you are just about smears and lies.

  55. Well,

    MRD: It is extremely lazy for those suggesting that people who would like to see Asad overthrown ergo support NATO intervention.

    Nevertheless, and apols that I already pointed this out on another thread:

    If, as it currently appears, the Syrian government has sufficient support among the population and in the state institutions to stay in power _unless_ there is a NATO military attack, campaigning by Westerners for regime change in Syria (whatever their disagreement or otherwise with such an attack) increases the prospects for war.

  56. Oh and also, the Israeli interest in the Syrian conflict should be considered.

    For very obvious reasons, the Israeli establishment has been playing its cards quite close to its chest. However, Efraim Halevy who is former chief of Mossad and also of the Israeli National Security Council, has been fairly explicit. According to the LA Times:

    “Efraim Halevy, who also led the Mossad spy agency from 1998 to 2002, believes Israel should also focus on exploiting the opportunity to strike Iran politically and diplomatically through the fall of Syrian President Bashar Assad, a staunch ally of Iran.”

    http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/world/la-fg-israel-syria-qa-20120219,0,2382385.story

  57. Jellytot on said:

    @76you are just about smears and lies

    I see you’re taking advice from The Undertaker. Wasn’t he/she all about accusing anybody who brought up inconvinient truths as ‘engaging in smears and lies’?

  58. Jellytot on said:

    @75I was/am against the war in Iraq and Afghanistan. Some nazis were also against these wars but for very different reasons, so I guess by your logic all us anti war folk were supportive of the white supremacists anti war stance.

    Nah, that’s lazy.

    What we are talking about here is not the line of some crank Nazi outfit, which has no traction with the wider populace. It doesn’t matter a hoot what the BNP or NF think of Iraq or Israel. It has everything to do with not aligning yourself with the interests of Imperialism in the region.

  59. Darkness at Noon on said:

    Jellytot:
    @62 What a shitty mess of a thread this is.

    Maybe it is but it’s interesting to see the SWP regulars, paul fauvet, Darkness at Noon, St. ‘Gene’ (Patron Saint of Innocent Children) and the rest of the HP types essentially on the same side on this one.

    I’m not on the side of anything. Just find it interesting to see some people shrugging their shoulders as thousands are murdered.