Saturday, August 30, 2014

Al Sharpton, The Democrat's David Duke

    If the Jews want to get it on, tell them to pin their yarmulkes back and come over to my house.
                                                                                Al Sharpton

   
   It is the old rule: one set of standards for Jews, another set for non-Jews.
                                                                                David Duke


Does anyone remember David Duke?  A former Grand Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan and founder of the Association for the Advancement of White People, Duke was a Louisiana Republican politician in the late 1980s.  In 1992 he was a candidate in the Republican presidential primaries. A brief stop at his web site is sufficient to recognize an all too familiar KKK-inspired dementia manifested in a multitude of rants against … Israel, and all things Jewish.  The horror of ISIS terror which has unfolded across media outlets over the past few days is the product of years of intrigue, subversion, torture, terrorism and wars, all caused by the Jews-only state of Israel and the Jewish Lobby which controls the US government.”

Whatever brief moments of national attention Duke was to command derived from his efforts to upgrade the clod hopper-Klan’s white sheets and pointy hat image, the “cow pasture image”, as he put it, and to craft a more sophisticated and mainstream messaging of his own modern edition of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion. Duke, according to his website is now, Dr. David Duke, Ph.D., that credential bestowed by the Interregional Academy of Personnel Management, singled out by the U.S. State Department in a report to the U.S. Congress as “one of the most persistent anti-Semitic institutions in Eastern Europe. ”

Duke’s ambition to be a mainstream Republican elected to high office was, to put it gently, frustrated by the Republican establishment and Republican voters.  The Party wanted nothing to do with him and Party officials attempted to block his participation.  He received less than one percent of the votes in the primaries.  Of him then National Republican Party chairman, Jim Nicholson remarked:  There is no room in the party of Lincoln for a Klansman like David Duke.”  The Democrats by the way and by contrast did provide ample room and a career path for their own former Klansman, Senator Robert Byrd from West Virginia.  Duke was if nothing else persistent in running for various offices during the 1990s, but despite his mainstream aspirations and efforts at reimaging he was never successful in mustering a serious following and today inhabits the political fringes where he continues to rail against Israel and world-wide Jewish conspiracies.

Which brings us to the Reverend Al Sharpton, like David Duke, a race-oriented, grievance-mongering “activist” who like Duke was an unsuccessful candidate for President, only as a Democrat in 2004.  Sharpton has his own not inconsiderable sordid, race-baiting, anti-Semitic history, most notably his active role in the Crown Heights Riots in 1991that resulted in the murder of Yankel Rosenbaum a Jewish visiting student from Australia.  Sharpton’s crude, confrontational working style at that time put him behind a bullhorn, working the angry crowds, an antagonizing, polarizing creature who always managed to slink away and distance himself from the wreckage. Who would then have imagined that this jump-suited, medallion festooned street organizer would become a confidant of President of the United States?

Unlike Duke who was shunned by most Republicans and never escaped the fringe, Sharpton now, as indicated above, occupies a lavish suite in the highest regions of the Democrat Party firmament. Sharpton was fully embraced as a candidate by the Democratic Party during the 2004 primary season and given a pass by his fellow Democrats and the mainstream media on accounting for his long history of self-promoting antics and reckless publicity-seeking stunts that on many occasions stoked racial and ethnic resentments and led to the senseless destruction of people’s property, reputations and even lives.  Sharpton has a long and well-established record for slandering and defaming innocent people. For this he has been successfully sued. His self-assumed title as “Reverend” is one more piece of his artful self-invention, a transparent effort to inject his phony persona with the moral and spiritual authority of a ministerial calling.

Sharpton also like Duke has worked over the years on his softening his hectoring, bullying image, including physical cosmetics (Duke shaved the mustache; Sharpton ditched the jump suit for expensive tailored suits and shed eighty or so pounds). But unlike the Republicans who repudiated Duke, the Democrats are amnesiacs with respect to Sharpton’s ugly and scurrilous personal history.  In spite of his record of racial incitements and intimidations, slandering, ethnic-religious slurs and financial impropriety, Sharpton has become fully “mainstreamed” with his own radio talk show, frequent guest appearances on news outlets like Fox News and CNN.  In 2011 MSNBC made him the host of its Politics Nation, a nightly talk show.  He has now ascended to the pinnacle of power and influence as a personal advisor to President Obama.  According to 60 Minutes Sharpton is “a trusted White House adviser who has become the president's go-to black leader.”

Most remarkable in all of this is not the troubled and shadowy career of Sharpton himself – a shameless opportunist, hypocrite and demagogue – but the fact that a man of such questionable character is so warmly embraced by the Democrats and by the President himself.    

Clearly, the Democrats do not care a bit about Sharpton’s sordid past and his complete absence of moral rectitude.  The “trust” of President Obama for Sharpton arises from the racial resentment they appear to share and Sharpton’s sheer chutzpah and remarkable ability as a mobilizer of racial animosity and grievances.  The sad fact is that Democrat politicians need a specialist at exploiting tragic events like Al Sharpton, a self-appointed black leader to find festering racism infecting every institution and beneath the surface in every conflict and crisis and then focus the blame on their political opposition.         

Racism is for the Democrats what Fascism was for the Socialists in the 1930s and 1940s, part of a demonizing political strategy.  The mobilizing rallying cry that came out of the Soviet Union in the 1930s was to combat the evil of Fascism particularly as embodied by Adolf Hitler.  Young men from all over the world joined the anti-Fascist, International Brigades organized by the Soviet Union to fight in Spain against the Fascist Franco who was generously supported in arms by Hitler and the Fascist Italians.   Four months after Franco’s defeat of the Spanish Republicans in August of 1939, however, the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany signed their infamous non-aggression pact that launched WWII. Stalin and Hitler, the world’s supreme Fascist, became partners in the rape of Poland. Two years later after Hitler’s armies attacked the Soviet Union, Germany once again become the symbol of the evil of Fascism.  Fascism for the Left has always been a protean and flexible category of malevolence, suitable for attachment to whoever at a given time displeases or opposes them.  George W. Bush throughout his Presidency was routinely denounced as Fascist, a Nazi, an American version of Hitler. 

Racism is very much like Fascism, used widely and indiscriminately to smear political opponents.  Racism is open ended in application with an ever expanding multiplicity of forms, mutations and varieties: thus, institutional racism, systemic racism, internalized racism, environmental racism, white racism, reverse racism, economic racism, micro-aggressive racism, overt racism, subtle racism.  Nicholas Kristof with no apparent awareness of the irony in a recent New York Times column poses as the title the question, “Is Everyone a Little Bit Racist?”

So while the Republicans, who weary of being labeled racists by the Democrats, would like to be done with racism, the Democrats of course want and need to keep it alive and have forever before them a political opposition that bears all of the ugly, atavistic features of the white robbed lynch mobs from earlier times.  Al Sharpton is their man to keep it alive, “the President’s go-to black leader, as 60 Minutes puts it.  Why else would they associate with someone that most decent people would shun.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Obama: The Projectionist and Chief



We're gonna punish our enemies, and we're gonna reward our friends who stand with us on issues that are important to us.
                                                                                     Barack Obama, 2010

We can teach our children the hazards of tribalism. We can teach our children to speak out against the casual slur. We can teach them there is no ‘them,’ there’s only ‘us.’”
                                                                                     Barack Obama, 2014



Psychological Projection:  the act or technique of defending oneself against unpleasant impulses by denying their existence in oneself, while attributing them to others

One of the formidable challenges in attempting to fathom just what kind of person the 44th President of the United States is and what he actually believes is to reconcile the many stunning displays of self-contraction that emanate from his ubiquitous oratory such as the one cited above. This particular example is richly ironic with Mr. Obama’s tenderly expressed concern for the “hazards of tribalism” for our children, coming from a man who conducts his politics as tribal warfare (Chicago style), holds his opposition  in open contempt as benighted and corrupt, and routinely slurs them, sometimes casually, sometimes with great calculation. Consider our “post-partisan” President in 2011 drawing clear invidious boundaries of “us” and “them”.  In stark contrast to his aspirations for Americans to be healthy and employed, the Republican plan in his words was let’s have dirtier air, dirtier water, less people with health insurance. So far at least, I feel better about my plan” – sarcasm in the service of moral superiority.   

Mr. Obama with his immense self-regard seems to have a strong affinity for first person pronouns – I, me, we, us. I have become a symbol of the possibility of America returning to our best traditions” Obama confessed to House Democrats back in 2008. These pronouns are not just his vehicles of self-infatuation they are also particularly useful to him as instruments of misdirection and obfuscation. Obama typically launches his insults, defamations or slurs with the “I”s, to set his starting point, the absolute, pristine clarity of his vision and purpose then to move to enlarge the moral universe of which he is the center and to complete the population of the community of the virtuous with his “we’s and “us’s”. Consider his comments after the Newtown school shooting, April of 2013.

 “When Newtown happened, I met with these families and I spoke to the community, and I said, something must be different right now.  We’re going to have to change.  That’s what the whole country said.”  

I metI spokeI said…” – which evokes in pathetic comparison another triptych from a much earlier time and from a leader of many fewer words:  “I came. I saw. I conquered.” (veni, vidi, vici).  Caesar came, saw and announced that he had conquered: Obama met, spoke and announced that he had “said something.”  In this case, that “something” whatever it might be, must be different”, however that might be.  And lest we doubt the urgency, “right now.”  As with many of the President’s pronouncements, we know at the end of them what we knew at the beginning, that he is a very important person who says things, many things.

The key point, however, is the misdirection. “We’re going to have to change.”  Who exactly is the “we” that must change? There is no “we”.  He (Obama) doesn’t have to change nor do his camp followers.  The “we” in this clumsy, egotistical verbal bramble suddenly, however, turns into the voice of the “whole country” an absurdity given the fact presumably obvious to the President that the whole country is and has long been bitterly divided about guns. Obama clearly has change in mind, no mention of hope, and it is for “them”, the rural Pennsylvanians and the like he singled out during his 2008 campaign who did not vote for him, those “white folks”, as he calls them, who “get bitter [and] cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren't like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations.”

Here then is one of Obama’s more memorable and condescending slurs that gives full register to the deep grievances that fester within and occasionally slip out when he talks unguarded to his own “folks”.  Worth mentioning in this regard is that candidate Obama’s vicious stereotype was delivered in San Francisco in front of his glitzy Hollywood adulators and sycophants, the genuine “we” and “us” who stand apart and far above the back woods, fundamentalist, shotgun toting bigots who cannot rise above their antipathy.  This time when he spoke in California there was definitely an “us” and a “them”.

Mr. Obama disapproves not only of gun owners, except the ones that guard him and his family, but drivers of SUV’s, and people who deviate from his norms of diet and home heating temperatures. And so, “We can’t drive our SUVs and eat as much as we want and keep our homes on 72 degrees at all times … and then just expect that other countries are going to say OK. That’s not leadership. That’s not going to happen.”

Again, the phony “we,” along with one of his signature non-sequiturs, the misdirection to conceal his staggering sense of moral omniscience and his megalomaniacal drive to order everyone else’s life.  “WE can’t drive…” etc. really means “YOUwill drive, eat and adjust your thermostat according to my high standards and requirements in these matters.”  Behind these deceptive words one senses the channeling of Erich Honecker with an East-German-like mentality of someone who lives in a fundamentally bifurcated world of I-we, the enlightened who give the orders versus you-them, the unwashed and benighted who do what you are told.    

Barack Obama, however, is never more duplicitous and deceitful than when it comes to the topic of race.

 “I don’t believe it is possible to transcend race in this country. Race is a factor in this society. The legacy of Jim Crow and slavery has not gone away. It is not an accident that African-Americans experience high crime rates, are poor, and have less wealth. It is a direct result of our racial history.”  

This, of course, is Obama speaking his real mind, albeit in his typical inelegant, sophomore-ish style.  No misdirection or obfuscation in this. By itself and out of context there is nothing remarkable about this comment.  It reflects a perspective on race relations in this country that is widely held in certain circles, particularly on the part of the Left, the “diversity” industry and the grievance-mongering, race-careerist friends of Obama like Al Sharpton.

But then contrast this peevish and pessimistic plaint with the soaring rhetoric that put much of the nation in a swoon back in 2004.

There's not a black America and white America and Latino America and Asian America; there's the United States of America

True today; false tomorrow: welcome to the post-modern world and the post-modern Presidency. That was then and this is now.  So much for the The One, who besides healing the planet was going to escort America into an era that would transcend race and partisanship.  What we know now is that the President is the opposite of what the candidate appeared to be, and that much of what he says with the constant self-referencing is a continuation of the spectacular deception he worked in 2008. His second term ended with impotence and recrimination. We he departed, finally, showing himsel as he has always been, a vain and mean-spirited man, caught up in his own mendacity, incapable of viewing his critics and opposition as anyone but “enemies” whom he seeks to “punish”.  The lofty side of his rhetoric, such as the example above, with its invocation of toleration and sympathetic sense of being able to see ourselves in others is belied by what seems to be a deep ideological conviction premised on grievance and resentment –  “America is just a downright mean country” as echoed by the First Lady in 2008. The grievance and resentment that he harbors and sometimes fails to dissimulate make a vision of “us” versus “them” inevitable, and a politics of tribalism the normal order. One then perhaps would do well to understand the President’s gestures and language as classic “projection,” attributing to others those shortcomings and untoward impulses that he feels within himself.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

The Spanish Civil War and the Quest for Victimhood



The Spanish Civil War formally ended in 1939 with the unconditional surrender of the Republican forces to the Nationalist Rebels led by General Francisco Franco. The war lasted thirty-three months. The shooting stopped but the fighting continues because the antipodal ideological fissures that initially motivated the combatants have never been closed.  They persist into the present day existing as “moral trenches” over which the mutual assaults continue without cessation. They fuel a perpetual civil war that began in the 1930s in Spain but is now a venue and an opportunity for contemporary ideologues anywhere in the world to engage in self-exoneration and moral condemnation and to connive at political and social retribution.
One strategy for gaining advantage in the post-shooting, ideological war that is now the Spanish Civil War of the 21st century is for the ideologue-combatants to seek the status of – “The Victim”.  Insofar as it can be established that the representatives of one’s cause are victims, one can then shape and own the moral vocabulary that articulates the motivations and character of the participants and thus exert enormous control over the interpretation of historical events.
There are two distinct ways in the modern world to become a victim. The first is to be an individual who suffers from an act of evil, moral or physical, deliberately inflicted by another individual or individuals.  Any outside observer will immediately experience vicariously what it must feel like to be an individual who succumbs to the violence, depredation or fraud committed by another individual. A woman raped, a man robbed and beaten, a child sexually molested by an adult, an elderly person defrauded of his life savings by a confidence man – with any of these predations one reflexively empathizes with the victim and feels loathing  and contempt for the perpetrator. Both the innocence of the victim and the culpability of the aggressor are unassailable. The moral polarity is inescapable and primal.
 The second way to be a victim is a more complicated story and requires the mediation of theoretical constructs.  In fact, this kind of victim is a theoretical construct of a particular sort that is at once compelling, broadly encompassing and far reaching.
The theoretically-constructed victim sprung from the brain of a German theorizer of mythic stature, Karl Marx, in the form of a Manifesto, the intention of which was not only to announce the existence of a historically determined class of victims, but to stir them to action against the aggressors as well. 

The history of all hitherto existing society is the history of class struggles…. Freeman and slave, patrician and plebeian, lord and serf, guild-master and journeyman, in a word, oppressor and oppressed, stood in constant opposition to one another, carried on an uninterrupted, now hidden, now open fight, a fight that each time ended, either in a revolutionary reconstitution of society at large, or in the common ruin of the contending classes.…   Workers of the world arise and unite.  You have nothing to lose but your chains. (The Communist Manifesto, 1848)

Herein lies the theoretical foundation from which emerged the prototype “victim” of the modern age, one identified as member of an oppressed collective class, a production of the operation of laws of historical necessity.  These laws (asserted to be both explanatory and predictive) Marx himself claimed were a momentous discovery and one cannot but be deeply impressed by the arrogance of his radical reductionism.  For all of the richness and complexity in how it might seem to unfold, history, peeled down to its essential core, is for Marx a story of unrelenting oppression, one that features a world of human beings who fall into two conflicting camps, victims and victimizers.  All social intercourse, however benign or innocent its appearances may present themselves, is about someone using and dominating someone else.
The identity of Marx’s victims is not as immediately and strikingly apparent as it is with the first kind of victim. It must be filtered by a properly accoutered intellectual class through the hermeneutical lens of dialectical materialism. Thus emerges the “theorist”, a privileged “knower”, as we see with Marx himself. But the knower is also a “doer”, a revolutionary destined to take power and complete the destruction of the bourgeois oppressors.
Marx’s formation and family origins were completely bourgeois, not a trivial detail to note as it points to an insidious element of self-hatred deeply embedded in the radical dynamics of Marxist theorizing. Theorists dedicated to revolution from Marx and Engels in the 1840s to Bill Ayres and many of the U.S. radicals in the 1960s have tended to come from the families of the well off and socially advantaged. Their judgment of the bourgeois “ruling class” as an instrument of exploitation was not just the conclusion of a detached, theoretical act of judgment; it erupted from a deep personal animus as well and as such is suggestive of pathological motivations and implacable hatred.  Successful communist revolutions did not merely overthrow the ruling class, they savagely annihilated it. Those theorists, Lenin, Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot, who during the twentieth century successfully took power and presided over the masses in large portions of the globe on behalf of the exploited class turned out to be mass murderers and destroyers of epic proportions.
The role of the theorist is critical because the victims may not know that they are victims and be unable to even recognize their oppressors for what they are and what they do. Their consciousness needs to be “raised”, a moral and psychological awakening expertly guided by the theorists.  Also, the exploitation of the victims is imposed largely through a rationalization of the oppressive status-quo. Thus, another piece of the theorist’s labor is to expose the rationalization as an elaborate disguise of the identity of the oppressor and to illuminate the façade of his legitimacy.  The victim insofar as he believes the substance of the oppressor’s rationalized version of reality gives assent to the terms of his own bondage. The theorist is a “de-legitimizer”. His intended wreckage of the status-quo opens the path to the victim’s “liberation.”      
Unlike the first kind of victim, Marx’s victim plays a starring and triumphal role in a grand historical morality play.  By virtue of the part his victim plays and the suffering he endures as a member of an exploited class he becomes endowed with a transcendent moral superiority because he functions at a huge disadvantage within a system that is from the beginning completely rigged against him by powerful forces that not only exploit him but conceal the exploitative relationship from him.  Bertrand Russell has called this ‘the doctrine of the superior virtue of the oppressed”.
Because the system itself and those who run it are thoroughly corrupt, those who are its victims are innocent and even heroic insofar as they struggle against the system. Whatever resistance then the victim makes against the exploiters and oppressors, his methods are justified. Marx envisioned his oppressed and down trodden proletariat as a force of fury and rectification whose violence in service to a revolution would put a righteous end to the exploitative system that was the cause of their suffering, their victimhood.  A letter Stalin wrote to Maxim Gorky in 1930 captures not only the sense of moral superiority of the forces of liberation, but a seeming eager anticipation of an ensuing season of violence and destruction resembling the fascist affinity for “therapeutic violence”.  We are for a liberating, anti-imperialist, revolutionary war despite the fact that such a war, as is known, not only is not free from the ‘horrors of bloodshed’ but abounds in them.” (Stanley Payne, The Spanish Civil War, the Soviet Union and Communism, 25)  
Marx’s concept of “class struggle”, the imbedded premise in all genuine historical understanding and the engine of human progress, has deeply insinuated itself into our thinking and interpretation of social conflict reaching far beyond his failed prediction of a titanic clash of the proletariat and the capitalists exploiters that would culminate in a world of material plenty, free of domination and exploitation.  The most attractive, compelling and enduring feature of Marx’s morality play is the notion of the morally privileged victim. To achieve the status of a victim within the kind of framework set down by Marx entitles one to immunity from the norms of the existing order because these norms are invented and enforced by the oppressor. They serve only his interest and advantage.
Two key things emerge from this immunity. First, the absence of moral limitations on what the victim can do in engagement with the oppressor class is greatly empowering, “liberating” to employ a morally charged term from the Marxist Wörterbuch.  Whatever he does to bring the system down, to defeat it, is permissible because the system is inherently unjust and oppressive. For the Marxist, law is a capitalist tool of domination; morality is a bourgeois fraud, and thus the legal and moral norms of the existing order can have no claim on the proletariat, the victim class.  Lying, theft and murder are permissible if they advance the cause and ultimate victory of the victim class. (See, Charles Mills “The Moral Epistemology of Stalinism,” Politics & Society, V. 22, No. 1, March 1994, 37-51)
Second, the oppressor class for all of its iniquities remains bound to its own bourgeois norms and legal system, and if in its defense its members lie, break promises, suborn and corrupt officials, steal and murder they betray their own professed principles and provide the victim class with further evidence of their utter corruption, hypocrisy and loss of legitimacy. 
With this kind of “differential” in the moral boundaries, whatever the outcome of the struggle between the victim and the oppressor, the victim prevails. If he wins, he has heroically participated in the righteous overturning of an unjust order and succeeded in liberating himself and his fellows from the jaws of exploitation.  The world thereafter is a more decent, just and happy place.  If he loses in the struggle to the lords of reaction, he becomes a tragic hero resisting the oppressor, overwhelmed by brute superior material force. Even his defeat, however, becomes further historical testimony to the raw power, the amoral character, and voracious malevolence of the rigged system he failed to bring down.  He then forever wears the martyr’s crown. 
The Spanish Civil War is the Left’s finest hour of tragic-heroism, the perfect Marxist morality play – the progressive, democratically elected Republican government, struggling valiantly against great odds, abandoned by the Nazi-appeasing British and French, crushed by Spanish fascism in collusion with and abetted by Hitler and Mussolini.
The history of the Spanish Civil War interpreted from this perspective is an invitation to celebrate the tragic heroism and martyrdom of the Republicans, to exonerate the losers in the conflict as innocent victims of fascist aggression and to accentuate the mindless brutality and the innate atavism of twentieth-century fascism.
There are enough elements of truth in this interpretation to make it extremely attractive and compelling, as it has been for the last seventy-five years.  But the “sale” has never been completely made, as evidenced by the persistent polemical battle waged by the historians and politicians, due in part because the specter of Soviet communism in the 1930s, communist machinations in Spain and Stalin’s ultimate collusion and partnership with Hitler in 1939 have always provided a competing narrative with a different set of victims and a more complicated picture. In the crudest, simplest terms, the Spanish Civil War, like the French and Bolshevik revolutions, was a violent clash between the defenders of the old order (religious, past-referencing and hierarchical) and the hopefuls of a new order (secular, anti-clerical and egalitarian). Whoever wins or loses with these sorts of cataclysmic struggles, there are victims.  The lives of large numbers of people are destroyed, their world shattered.  
While the Republicans invoked the rise of fascism in central and southern Europe and the specter of Hitler, the Nationalists launched their rebellion fearing an eventual communist takeover of Spain. They loathed and feared the communists. In light of what the world’s most powerful communist, Joseph Stalin, had done to his own people by 1936, a fear of communism might not be an unreasonable one.  Early into the conflict Stalin was contributing weapons and military expert advisers, as well as the formation and recruitment of the International Brigades that saved Madrid from falling to Franco’s army in the autumn of 1936.  Unlike Franco whose intentions and rhetoric were clear and obvious, the communists under Stalin’s tutelage were master dissimulators playing a double game pretending to be democrats while plotting revolution. The war as their rhetoric announced was a battle of not of communism against the forces of reaction but of “democracy” against fascism.  Nevertheless, the Spanish Civil War in many fundamental respects was a proxy war, a war of the raging ideologies of Europe with Hitler, Mussolini and Stalin backing their respective clients.
Hitler, however, was never much impressed with Franco whom he regarded as a provincial rube, a chatterbox with the “manners of a sergeant major” and whom he later demeaned as the “Latin charlatan”. (Stanley Payne, Franco and Hitler: Spain, Germany and World War II, 99).  Nor was Hitler able to entice Franco to enter WWII on the Axis side even after helping him defeat the Republicans. At their meeting at the Hendaye train station near the French-Spanish border in October 1940 to Hitler’s great irritation and frustration the Spanish caudillo rejected Hitler’s entreaties and bored him with a three hour rambling monologue.  Hitler was reported to have said that he would “rather have three or four teeth pulled than sit through another conversation with Franco.” (Payne, Franco and Hitler, 91)       
Stalin eventually abandoned the Republicans and to the disillusionment of many communists world-wide pursued rapprochement with Hitler, concluding the infamous, WWII-initiating “Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact” just four months after the end of the Spanish Civil War. During the 1939-1941 Nazi-Soviet-pact Stalin’s NKVD was handing over Jewish Communists to Hitler. Stalin too had waged his own separate war in Spain, not against the fascist rebels, but against any Republicans or supporters of the Spanish regime whom he regarded as enemies of the USSR. His NKVD agents purged the ranks of the Spanish Left of Trotskyists and other “crypto-fascists” with their own show trials, torture and summary executions.
Looking at the Spanish Civil War as a proxy war with Hitler and Stalin as the principals, not as a clash of abstractions – democracy against fascism – but of a struggle between an increasingly Stalin- and communist-dominated Spanish Left and a reactionary Caudillo backed by Hitler and Mussolini, then the rendering of the conflict as a Marxist morality play does not seem quite so compelling. 
Consider and compare, also, where Stalin and Hitler both were in their respective career-trajectories of mass-murder at that critical point in time, 1936, the year the Spanish Civil War began. By 1936 Stalin had completed a five-year plan in the USSR with a hard turn to the left beginning in 1928 and a propaganda assault by his personally manipulated Communist International (Comintern) on “social fascists”, the Social Democrats and Socialist parties in Europe whom Stalin classified as enemies on the Left since they played by the parliamentary rules in the constitutional democracies he desired to overthrow. German socialists in the early 1930s found themselves under assault both from Hitler’s Brown Shirts and the KDP, the German communists, following Comintern directives. “Fascist” was the most flexible label in Stalin’s political lexicon, shorthand for his enemy du jour.  The boundaries of fascism shifted with the vagaries of the Soviet Union’s own geo-political positioning and strategic priorities.  Many of Stalin’s “Old Bolshevik” colleagues from October Revolution days, Trotsky being the most notable, were by the mid-1930s “unmasked” as “fascist hirelings and collaborators”. The “social fascists” during the 1930s after 1936 suddenly became Stalin’s allies as he then concluded that their support was more valuable to him than their ideological heterodoxy. As many of the Republicans in Spain to their sorrow learned, being Stalin’s friend could be worse than being his enemy.
During the early 1930s Stalin had also planned and executed a brutal, coerced collectivization of his own peasantry. His cadres were sent en masse to forcibly extract grain from the farmers in Ukraine and destroy the “Kulaks”, farmers who were “rich”.  Stalin was desperate for hard currency in order to capitalize Soviet industries through grain sales on the international markets. The result was mass-starvation, a terror-famine, as Robert Conquest called it, which killed between three to five million Ukrainians including women and children. Country roadsides were littered with wasted corpses while the communist-guarded granaries were filled to capacity and readied for export. The Ukrainians remember this holocaust as Holodomor. By 1936 Stalin had also commenced his purge of the CPSU, replete with elaborate Moscow show trials and launched a three year reign of terror that killed hundreds of thousands of Soviet citizens including many lifelong, loyal communists. 
By 1936 Hitler had consolidated his dictatorship, purged Ernst Röhm and the SA in the Night of the Long Knives and was readying his dark and menacing forces for the conquest of Europe. Unlike Stalin, at his point Hitler’s devastation and mass murder was ahead of him.      
With this kind of comparison of the principals the Spanish Civil War, just how to judge the culpability and innocence of their respective clients, who were competing against each other to expand the world in the images held by their patrons and mentors becomes a daunting and complicated task.  In attempting to understand why this war continues it might be better to proceed by stating what would be mutually agreed upon historical judgments rather than seeking to establish an ideologically-based interpretation of exoneration and condemnation. Thus:

1.     Both sides in the war committed atrocities;
2.   Franco was an ungenerous victor, exacted a brutal retribution and presided over long and repressive dictatorship;
3.  Franco’s dictatorship transitioned legally and peacefully to a constitutional democracy in marked contrast to the absence of any communist dictatorship anywhere making a peaceful, legal transition, with the sole exception of Gorbachev’s;
4.   The bulwark of military and political resistance to the Nationalist rebels came from Spanish communists with the advice and support of Stalin’s Soviet advisors;
5. Given the strength and domination of communists in the republican government during the civil war, the victory of the Republican government forces over Franco would not have produced a constitutional democracy but rather a communist dictatorship;
6.     Given the 20th-century history of communist revolution and rule – the Soviet Union and its post-WWII vassal states, the People’s Republic of China, the Republic of North Korea, Castro’s Cuba, Pol Pot’s Cambodia – one can reasonable conjecture that the people of a communist Spain would have endured the persecution, purges, forced collectivization and economic privation similar to what the peoples of these countries did.      

   Points one and two, I believe, would not be contested by anyone. Elements of points three and four might be resisted but the points can be persuasively argued.  Point number five is, of course, counter-factual. Given, however, the fractious history of Spain that followed the abdication of Alfonso XIII and the commencement of the 2nd Republic in 1931 with the country’s archaic social structure, attendant political extremism, violence and regional hostilities and inability to reform, it is difficult to envision any outcome to the civil war that would not have culminated in some kind dictatorship and awful retribution. Moreover, Spain in need of support and outside assistance from strong and stable democratic governments was attempting the modernizing of its social and political institutions within a Europe whose countries were increasingly falling under the domination of authoritarian and totalitarian governments.
Point number six is conjectural and of course it is impossible to know what a victorious Republican government, large elements of which were made up of anarchists, communists, and socialists, would have done to the opposition and what wreckage in lives and property would have come from the “dismantlement” they were planning for the old order they so much loathed. What would have been the fate of Spanish Catholics?  There were still a lot of them. The spring and summer months of 1936 were not a good omen. Also, the history of revolutions in the twentieth century, the three most notable being the Russian, Chinese and Cuban, strongly suggests that a Socialist Republic of Spain would have come to resemble these three with their cult-of-personality dictatorships that murdered, enslaved, repressed and impoverished large numbers of their own citizens.  
Perhaps the initial path to an armistice for the Spanish Civil War would be to relinquish the deeply moralized narrative of the conflict as “good versus evil” and attempt to contemplate it as a piece of the larger picture of mid-Twentieth Century Europe’s tragic immersion in cauldron of totalitarian ideologies. The war unleashed the fanatics, the ideologues and the haters and the Spanish people were their victims, caught in a vice the jaws of which were savage reaction one the one side and communist treachery and tyranny on the other.