FacebookTwitterRedditEmail

What’s a Fifth Columnist? Well, Someone Like Christopher Hitchens

After recently returning from Spain and after many discussions with Spanish, Catalonian, and Basque friends about the Spanish Civil War, I decided to do a Google search to see if there were any new revelations about the war — a war in which I’m proud to say my late father participated in on the side of the Republican and anti-Fascist Popular Front government. I discovered that the Catalonian government has recently announced plans to exhume the remains of just one of 54 mass graves where the Fascists disposed of executed prisoners and other political opponents during the Civil War.

During the Google search, I also ran across an archived television program from March 2000 called Uncommon Knowledge, produced by the right-wing Hoover Institution. The topic was the Spanish Civil War and the former progressive journalist-turned-neo-con toadie, Christopher Hitchens, was featured as a guest. The program was underwritten by the John M. Olin Foundation, which also supports the neo-con American Enterprise Institute and Heritage Foundation, and the Starr Foundation, another right-wing money machine that supports the neocon diatribe-rich periodical, American Spectator, a home base for another liberal-turned neo-con sycophant, P. J. O’Rourke.

Hitchens was supposed to have been debating Ronald Radosh, a researcher at George Washington University, who unabashedly apologized for the Spanish Fascists and their leader, Generalissimo Francisco Franco. But Hitchens wound up generally agreeing with his “adversary” and beat up on the Spanish Republican cause — something that must have pleased the right-wing sponsors of the program.

Hitchens’ verbal flatulence about the Spanish Civil War is evidence of the beginning of his transition into a fifth columnist for the neo-cons at least three years ago. Here is what Hitchens said about the Spanish Republican cause:

“Stalinism was one of the causes of the defeat of the Spanish republic. I think that’s been amply demonstrated by a number of historians, and was understood by a number of the historians of the time. In other words, that’s why I’m bold enough to quote an axiom: victory and Stalinism were not possible in Spain. You couldn’t have had a Stalinist victory.”

Really? My father served on a Danish merchant vessel that shipped arms and ammunition from that nasty Stalinist Russia to the Republican-controlled Basque ports of Santander and San Sebastian. That effort was organized by the Social Democratic-controlled merchants’ union in Copenhagen. Russia was one of the few countries in the world that was willing to supply the Republican side with much needed weapons and communications systems to counter the heavy influx of Nazi German and Italian Fascist support for the Franco forces.

The Russian arms were not only shipped from Leningrad but also from the Lithuanian (and former German) port of Klaipeda, the Latvian port of Riga, and the Estonian port of Tallinn with the support of the Lithuanian, Latvian, and Estonian governments, respectively. So the effort to ship arms from Russia to Spain not only involved Stalin’s Russia but also Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, and Denmark, nations which were certainly not counted in 1936 as being within the Stalinist sphere. When my father trekked into the Basque Pyrenees to help install radio stations for the Republican side, it was done with the assistance of a number of international volunteers for the Republican cause, including American, French, and British partisans. So Hitchens is flat out wrong when he states that the Spanish Republicans were hijacked by Stalin and every Republican volunteer was an unwitting tool of the Soviet Comintern. That is just pure right-wing claptrap.

Hitchens also fails to mention that Texaco provided oil credits to the Franco forces and Ford Motor supplied the Fascist forces with vehicles. Only Stalin is accused of using the Spanish Republicans for his own purposes. The Americans are always pure in Hitchens’ myopic Pax Americana view of the world and of 2oth century history.

Then Hitchens blames the Communists for the defeat of the Spanish Republicans: “the Communist Party in Spain and its Soviet backers who infiltrated a number of the institutions of the Republic, and also the International Brigade, were in a sense working to undermine the revolution. They didn’t want any government or movement to succeed that they did not control. They would rather have been defeated. That’s consistent by the way across Europe.”

More of Hitchens’ ramblings. When one looks at the underground movements that fought the Germans during Nazi occupation, the Communists and left-wing socialists served as the activist vanguards for the resistance movements. In Denmark, where my grandmother Victoria Madsen, an official of the Danish Communist Party and newspaper (who also fought as a resistance leader), it was the Communists who were the most willing to attack the Germans and die for the cause of liberation of their country from the Nazi yoke. It was the Communists and their left Socialist allies who largely organized the secret boatlift of Danish and other Jews to safety in Sweden.

Likewise, in Spain, it was the Communist trade unions that organized workers into militias to fight the Fascists in cities like Madrid, Barcelona, and Valencia.

As for Hitchens’ other contention that the International Brigade and the Communists undermined the Spanish Revolution, Hitchens seems to ignore the fact that it was the Fascists (backed by the German Nazis) who undermined the legitimate government of the Spanish Republic through their backing of Franco. Hitchens uses a big paintbrush to tar and feather all International Brigaders as “Communists.” Of course, the Abraham Lincoln and International Brigades were full of Hitchens’ “Communist” supporters — John Dos Passos, Dashiell Hammett, Ernest Hemingway, George Orwell, Paul Robeson, Archibald MacLeish, John Steinbeck, W. H. Auden, and Esmond Romilly (the nephew of Winston Churchill).

Hitchens’ use of the term “infiltration” is also interesting. It was a favorite term of Senator Joe McCarthy and Richard Nixon. But now the term can be used for people like Hitchens, who obviously has been used by the neo-cons to infiltrate progressive movements and gatherings as a “fifth columnist.” When it comes to the Spanish Civil War, and who was right and who was wrong, I’ll defer to my progressive Spanish, Catalonian, and Basque friends, as well as to the memories my father had of that grand war against the same types of imperialistic right-wingers who Hitchens now prefers to keep in his company.

WAYNE MADSEN is a Washington, DC-based investigative journalist and columnist. He wrote the introduction to Forbidden Truth. He is the co-author, with John Stanton, of the forthcoming book, “America’s Nightmare: The Presidency of George Bush II.”

Madsen can be reached at: WMadsen777@aol.com

 

More articles by:
bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550
August 21, 2019
Craig Collins
Endangered Species Act: A Failure Worth Fighting For?
Colin Todhunter
Offering Choice But Delivering Tyranny: the Corporate Capture of Agriculture
Michael Welton
That Couldn’t Be True: Restorying and Reconciliation
John Feffer
‘Slowbalization’: Is the Slowing Global Economy a Boon or Bane?
Johnny Hazard
In Protest Against Police Raping Spree, Women Burn Their Station in Mexico City.
Tom Engelhardt
2084: Orwell Revisited in the Age of Trump
Binoy Kampmark
Condescension and Climate Change: Australia and the Failure of the Pacific Islands Forum
Kenn Orphan – Phil Rockstroh
The Dead Letter Office of Capitalist Imperium: a Poverty of Mundus Imaginalis 
George Wuerthner
The Forest Service Puts Ranchers Ahead of Grizzlies (and the Public Interest)
Stephen Martin
Geopolitics of Arse and Elbow, with Apologies to Schopenhauer.
Gary Lindorff
The Smiling Turtle
August 20, 2019
James Bovard
America’s Forgotten Bullshit Bombing of Serbia
Peter Bolton
Biden’s Complicity in Obama’s Toxic Legacy
James Phillips
Calm and Conflict: a Dispatch From Nicaragua
Karl Grossman
Einstein’s Atomic Regrets
Colter Louwerse
Kushner’s Threat to Palestine: An Interview with Norman Finkelstein
Nyla Ali Khan
Jammu and Kashmir: the Legitimacy of Article 370
Dean Baker
The Mythology of the Stock Market
Daniel Warner
Is Hong Kong Important? For Whom?
Frederick B. Mills
Monroeism is the Other Side of Jim Crow, the Side Facing South
Binoy Kampmark
God, Guns and Video Games
John Kendall Hawkins
Toni Morrison: Beloved or Belovéd?
Martin Billheimer
A Clerk’s Guide to the Unspectacular, 1914
Elliot Sperber
On the 10-Year Treasury Bonds 
August 19, 2019
John Davis
The Isle of White: a Tale of the Have-Lots Versus the Have-Nots
John O'Kane
Supreme Nihilism: the El Paso Shooter’s Manifesto
Robert Fisk
If Chinese Tanks Take Hong Kong, Who’ll be Surprised?
Ipek S. Burnett
White Terror: Toni Morrison on the Construct of Racism
Arshad Khan
India’s Mangled Economy
Howard Lisnoff
The Proud Boys Take Over the Streets of Portland, Oregon
Steven Krichbaum
Put an End to the Endless War Inflicted Upon Our National Forests
Cal Winslow
A Brief History of Harlan County, USA
Jim Goodman
Ag Secretary Sonny Perdue is Just Part of a Loathsome Administration
Brian Horejsi
Bears’ Lives Undervalued
Thomas Knapp
Lung Disease Outbreak: First Casualties of the War on Vaping?
Susie Day
Dear Guys Who Got Arrested for Throwing Water on NYPD Cops
Weekend Edition
August 16, 2019
Friday - Sunday
Paul Street
Uncle Sam was Born Lethal
Jennifer Matsui
La Danse Mossad: Robert Maxwell and Jeffrey Epstein
Rob Urie
Neoliberalism and Environmental Calamity
Stuart A. Newman
The Biotech-Industrial Complex Gets Ready to Define What is Human
Nick Alexandrov
Prevention Through Deterrence: The Strategy Shared by the El Paso Shooter and the U.S. Border Patrol
Jeffrey St. Clair
The First Dambuster: a Coyote Tale
Eric Draitser
“Bernie is Trump” (and other Corporate Media Bullsh*t)
Nick Pemberton
Is White Supremacism a Mental Illness?
Jim Kavanagh
Dead Man’s Hand: The Impeachment Gambit
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail