Our Mad Mad World: Writers Take Sides    
 Writers Take Sides4 comments
picture4 Mar 2008 @ 21:24, by Paul Quintanilla

Way back in 1938, when Spain was the central front against fascism, the League of American Writers sent out a questionnaire to several hundred American writers. The question they asked was simple: “Are you for, or are you against Franco and fascism? Are you for, or are you against the legal government and the people of Republican Spain?” There were more than 400 responses and only one writer sided with Franco. There were seven who remained neutral. The rest sided with the Spanish Republic.

Many of the respondents wrote brief comments and essays accompanying their responses which were put into an interesting booklet titled, “Writers Take Sides.” Of course, most of their comments related to current world events and the war in Spain. But several authors also included their thoughts on the nature of fascism.

This was 1938, seventy years ago. In some respects the same old battle is being fought today. And setting the historic aspects of the struggle in Spain aside, I thought it might be interesting to see what some of these writers had to say about fascism. For reading their remarks should also reveal some familiar parallels to today.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

“I hate fascism because, as I see it in Germany and Italy, it involves these three things: the suppression of civil liberties, the assertion that the state has absolute rights over the individual, and the acceptance of a ‘leader’ - a superior man who knows what’s what and who pushes the rest of us around....” Herbert Agar

“Three years’ residence in Italy was more than enough to convince me that fascism is an unmixed evil. It is dull and stupid and cruel in itself and it leads invariably to increasing dullness, stupidity, and cruelty. Fascism kills art and science just as it kills individuals." Leonard Bacon

“It is impossible for me to understand how any sensitive, sensible or civilized person could be a supporter of the fascist theory of government. It is a contradiction of all that mankind has been fighting its way toward for the past five thousand years, even in its more possible manifestations a return to the Dark Ages.” Louis Bromfield

“No age can escape its destiny. It is the destiny of our age to confront the most modern incarnation of the ancient savagery that lurks in every man, a savagery bred of fear and organized into large-scale social violence by ruthless power groups within our competitive society. It is the destiny of our generation to crush fascism or perish... “ Haakon M. Chevalier

“I am against Franco and fascism generally. My reasons are that I believe that fascism means a lack of intellectual freedom, a strongly militaristic and repressive social control joined seemingly with the continuance and strengthening of false religious, racial and economic ideologies, and generally speaking, the antithesis of any hope for equitable treatment which other forms of government at least pretend to offer the individual.” Theodore Dreiser

“I most sincerely wish to go on record as being unalterably opposed to Franco and fascism, to all violations of the legal government and outrages against the people of Republican Spain.” William Faulkner (I included this one since Faulkner is not known for making any political comments unrelated to southern race relations.)

“I am glad to say, in black and white, that I am not only opposed to Franco and his fascism, but to Hitler and Mussolini and their brands of this horrible social disease. Allow these men and their machines to crawl onward and the entire world will become a place of ceaseless war, poverty and famine with whip-driven masses bitterly obeying the rule of a few ruthless madmen.” Reed Harris

“Of course, I am against fascism with its spread of color prejudice and race hatred and working class oppression. How could any sensible Negro be otherwise?” Langston Hughes

“I am against smallpox, murder, race prejudice, war, injustice, diluted milk, fascism, stealing pennies off dead men’s eyes and shell-shocked Chinese babies.” Fannie Hurst

“In defense of those values to which men of imagination and charity have always been dedicated, no writer can refrain from testifying that whatever he stands for, humanly and culturally, denies and is denied by fascist economics, fascist imperialism, the fascist terror, and the fascist dream.” Stanley Kunitz

“Fascism not only sets up a form of government objectionable to us, and threatens the peace of the world, but it is a move to set the clock back by whole centuries. It is the flight into the refuge of force and prejudice of limited and perverted men who cannot face the effort and the sacrifice required by true democracy or the mental courage demanded by modern science.” Oliver La Farge

“Regardless of Franco who to me is just a manifestation of an almost world-wide disease, I am unalterably opposed to fascism as I am to any other form of government which aims to place the power and the glory of the state above the satisfaction and happiness of its individual members. I believe that the only function of any government is to make possible a free, joyous and independent life for as great a majority of its citizens as possible. Any political ideal that strives to impose the will of the few on the lives of many must as I see it inevitably be false and ultimately be discarded.” Hannah Lees

“I am and have been since I became conscious of political and economic questions, now more than twenty years, unalterably opposed to the whole principle and practice of dictatorship in any form, by any class and for whatever reason. I am opposed to any nation attempting to impose its own form of government, no matter what it may be, upon any other nation, either by propaganda or by acts of war.” Katherine Anne Porter

“Any writer who chooses the side of fascism confesses that the property he has, or hopes to have has corrupted him, that it is more to him than his art, more to him than civilization. Any writer who professes unconcern abnegates his function as a writer. The mental territory he would withdraw into does not exist in life. if he attempts to reflect it in his writing it is condemned to be a reflection of nothing; or it will be a reflection of death that the Fascists will find a use for.” Isidor Schneider

“Just returned from a little tour in the agricultural fields of California. We have our own fascist groups here. They haven’t bombed open towns yet but in Salinas last year tear gas was thrown in a Union Hall and through the windows of workingmen’s houses. That’s rather close, isn’t it?

“Your question as to whether I am for Franco is rather insulting. Have you seen anyone not actuated by greed who was for Franco? No, I’m not for Franco and his Moors and Italians and Germans. But some Americans are. Some Americans were for the Hessians England sent against our own revolutionary army. They were for the Hessians because they were selling things to them. The descendants of some of these Americans are still very rich and still touchy concerning the American Way, and our ‘ancient liberties.’ I am treasonable enough not to believe in the liberty of a man or a group to exploit, torment, or slaughter other men or groups. I believe in the despotism of human life and happiness against the liberty of money and possessions.” John Steinbeck

“Only the writer who draws his sustenance from the caved-in teat of a decayed past can be a Fascist. Fascism is capitalism seeking by brutality to evade the logic that moves mankind inexorably toward the common-sense solution of the paradox that puts want amid plenty, idle men beside idle factories, underfed children in a land of rotting crops. Fascism, by its very nature, must be antirational and antihumane.

“Criminal disunity among liberals and the left helped fascism to victory in Italy and Germany. The Popular Front has made it possible for the people of Spain to fight the greatest battle against fascism the world has yet seen. it is not strange that the allies of Spanish fascism are to be found in brown shirt and in black shirt, in the most backward section of the Catholic Church, among ignorant Moors and in those refined upper circles of the British aristocracy so delicately bred that they prefer the murder of children in Barcelona to the loss of a penny on their profits from Rio Tinto.

“If the Spanish people win, the forces of fascism will be set back the world over. Should the Loyalists lose, we may expect a tidal wave of reaction, obscurantism, race hatred and thuggery, menacing our own lives and our own homes. We must never forget that the barricades in Madrid are barricades everywhere - in defense of freedom, of culture, and of humanity? I. F. Stone

“If Italian history could look down on Mussolini today it would vomit! Think of the century-long struggles for freedom waged by Florence, by Milan, by Venice against what odds and with what world-shaking effect and then think of the decay of freedom rotting its way into Spain today and you have a picture not equaled save in some lepers’ colony on some outlawed island in the Pacific. Without Mussolini there could not be Franco, it is the same rot eating in. I am for the legal government and the people of Republican Spain. They are the threatened inheritors of all that Italy has lost.” William Carlos Williams

“I feel we have come to a fork in the road nations have trodden; it is very rare in history that the paths are so clearly marked, that the future can be so clearly foretold. We can follow the road of the fascist nations and go back to intolerance, tyranny, material misery for the great mass of the people, the suppression of all individuality and its expression in the arts, in science, in life. We can undo what progress has achieved. Or we can go the other road which marks the continuation of the best in the past and a new flowering of the human mind under conditions of freedom and experimentation.... “ Ella Winter


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4 comments

10 Mar 2008 @ 17:53 by jazzolog : Spain's Politics
continue most interesting these days. Just imagine: public works to stimulate an economy!

http://www.reuters.com/article/latestCrisis/idUSL10442069  



19 Nov 2009 @ 00:32 by quinty : Avast, leeches!
Creepy crawly slugs and night creatures are most unwelcome here. They slide and slither and climb up out of holes in the boarding to take their place. There they sit until the sun rises. Then they hide again in the muck below. They are a most parasitic species of leeches.  


28 Jul 2013 @ 17:59 by Blevins27Kerry @46.161.41.16 : re
Various people in the world take the home loans in different banks, just because it's comfortable and fast.  


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