Requiem for the Spanish Left
The journalist Mr. Andrés Aberasturi, the criminologist Mr. Santiago Wachter and many other signatories (I just mention the first and the last by alphabetic order) have authored a `Manifesto for Peace' which has appeared on the Spanish press. (Henceforward called `the Manifesto' for brevity's sake.)
The Manifesto's signatories include several distinguished, highly prestigious personalities, mainly representing what is vaguely called `the Spanish Left', and who are broadly regarded as sacred cows. This is not going to hinder the present writer from denouncing the Manifesto as a betrayal, a neutralist stance which goes a long way to meaning an admittedly half-hearted endorsement of NATO's position.
The current war has been unilaterally launched by NATO against Yugoslavia. Before NATO's aggression there was no war. There were armed actions by a secessionist guerrilla in the Serbian region of Kosovo which had triggered a police crack-down. Whatever the particular figures -- which are highly contested and at this stage at best extremely contentious -- the conflict was very much like those which in recent decades have plagued other European countries: the Bask-Region conflict in Spain, the Brittany and Corsica conflicts in France, the South-Tirol conflict in Italy (in the sixties) and the Northern Ireland conflict in the UK.
It was a purely internal matter, wherein probably both sides were overstepping the bounds of legitimate action. The responsibility fell first and foremost on the Kosovo guerrilla, which had taken the initiative of an armed secessionist uprising helped by the American, German, Turkish and Albanian secret services (which by itself already amounted to an act of aggression according to international law).
No armed struggle is legitimate except when it aims to topple an unbearable tyranny. Although it is highly contentious what counts as an unbearable tyranny (for instance a traditional hereditary absolute monarchy can reasonably be termed -- at least in some cases -- un unbearable tyranny), usually nowadays (barring those rare cases of hereditary absolute dynastic regimes) a consensus might be reached by sketching out the five following conditions for a regime to count as an unbearable tyranny:
(1) The current regime has seized power through a violent and bloody overthrow of the previous administration;
(2) The administration which was thus overthrown had at least a reasonable claim to legitimacy or legality and was not one which could in turn be rightly deemed an unbearable tyranny;
(3) The current regime allows no peaceful expression of malcontent and brutally curbs any attempt to non-violently put forward reasonable revendications;
(4) There is no elective mechanism through which at least a small degree of pressure could be exerted by the people in order to push those in power to mend their ways;
(5) The degree of affliction, hardship and distress of the people is extreme, owing to the regime's policies.
Whatever the shortcomings of Mr Milosevic's government in Serbia and then in the whole of (what remained of) Yugoslavia, those conditions were not met, whether in Kosovo or in the other Serbian regions.
In fact Mr. Milosevic's government is an elected one, which has evolved through peaceful development from the previous administration, which in turn had seized power by expelling the German invaders. In Yugoslavia there are legal opposition parties, the elections are genuinely contested (otherwise how could it be explained that Mr Milosevic's party was defeated in Montenegro?), and there are legal ways of expressing opposition to the government and to ask for political changes.
Admittedly Mr Milosevic's policies in Kosovo can be regarded as wrong by many people, including Albanian secessionists and even Albanian autonomists (in the same way as France's policies in Brittany and Corsica are looked upon with resentment and anger by Breton and Corsican irredentists).
But for a set of policies by the existent government to be wrong or deserve blame is by no means a reasonable ground for an armed struggle against the government to become licit.
In addition to the requirement of the five conditions being fulfilled for the existent regime to count as an unbearable tyranny, other, further, conditions are of course necessary in order for an uprising to be rightfully regarded as legitimate, such as the seven following ones: (1) the uprising is done in good faith, upon a good knowledge of the real situation and for the sole -- or at least main -- purpose of overthrowing the tyranny and establishing a political system allowing for the rightful revendications of the people to be satisfied; (2) the use of violence is reduced and restricted, no innocent civilians being targeted and no grievous deterioration of the people's plight resulting from the armed struggle; (3) there are reasonable prospects of victory within a reasonable stretch of time; (4) a broad consensus has been reached among sundry tendencies and representatives of different sensibilities in order to jointly pursue the struggle; (5) those starting and leading the armed struggle are widely respected, good-hearted and compassionate women and men, who can be rightfully regarded as true leaders of the people (rather than self-seeking or giddy-brained, careless or callous adventurers); (6) the armed struggle is not allowed to become a pawn in the hands of foreign powers devoted to despicable interests and whose supremacy would lead to worse sufferings for the people; (7) those engaged in the armed struggle do not rule out reaching a reasonable agreement with the existent authorities in order for a peaceful transition to an endurable political system to be inaugurated.
Let me say that I am a gradualist, and that I believe in the fruitful applicability of fuzzy logic to all fields of science and thought. Therefore, I grant that fulfilling those conditions may be a matter of degree, and that justifiedness is a fuzzy notion, coming in degrees. If five out of the seven conditions are realized to a high degree, perhaps a threshold of «sufficient» justifiability is reached.
However, I harbour misgivings and suspicion towards any uprising wherein at least one of those conditions should be completely absent.
Anyway, as far as the present writer's knowledge extends, those conditions were not met in the Kosovo case; perhaps none of the seven conditions was fulfilled there. The KLA has been widely looked upon as a bunch of thugs financed by drug traffic, the mafia, the CIA, Germany's and Turkey's intelligence services, and even engaged in a bitter fight with other political factions within the Albanian community in Kosovo.
The Manifesto addresses none of those issues. In fact it evinces a flippant disregard for those questions. It maintains that the first cause of the people's suffering in the Balkans is `the ethnic cleansing and repression committed by Milosevic', whereas NATO's bombing comes in only as a second (and, we gather, minor or secondary) cause.
Accordingly, the plan proposed by the Manifesto is comprised of two points: (1) to put en end to Milosevic's ethnic cleansing and repression; and (2) a stop to NATO's bombings.
Obviously, despite what they say, the signatories are indeed careless as to what counts as the rule of law, as to what is in accordance with established principles of public international law (respect for international treaties) and what is a gross violation of international law. So much so that they even put forward as their first and foremost demand to compel a sovereign country's government to change its internal policies, even if those policies did not break international law, while the aim of demanding respect for international law from the NATO aggressors comes only as a second -- hence subordinate -- goal.
What is more, the Manifesto sketches out its two-points plan with the demand that `all military forces and armed groups in Kosovo should be replaced by a peace force composed of UNO's Blue Helmets'.
But why don't they ask for all French forces to be withdrawn from Brittany and Corsica with Blue Helmets being sent in there as so-called `peace forces'? Why don't they ask for the Spanish Bask Country to be evacuated by Spanish armed forces to be replaced by Blue Helmets? Why don't they ask for the Italian army to leave South Tirol and «Padania», its place being taken by Blue Helmets?
To ask that Blue Helmets should occupy a sovereign country (or a part thereof) against the will of its government is so contrary to international law that the reference to international law in the quoted statement becomes preposterous.
Such a casual indifference towards legal matters proves that the Manifesto's promoters do not respect international law. They apparently look upon treaties as worthless pieces of paper.
Now, the reason for us to respect international law is exactly the same as the reason why we must obey internal law (in general): there is no alternative way of having a civilized coexistence among human beings.
The very nature of human (or in general mammal) society calls for an authority to exist -- whether good or bad, elected or unelected -- and for its promulgations to be obeyed. In any existent human collectivity such promulgations constitute what is called `the law'.
While juridical systems are far from perfect, they at least tend to give a certain degree of protection to the weak (not to the strong, who do not need protection). No alternative general attitude to that of abiding by the law is workable, unless we espouse the right of the stronger to crush the weaker. However, such a principle of abiding by the law has reasonable limits (namely those I have sketched out hereinabove).
What holds for internal or domestic law is also valid for international law. As the great German philosopher Leibniz put it at the beginning of the XVIII century (denouncing the French King Louis XIV's offhand trampling of international treaties), our human international society would become a jungle wherein Might would mean Right if treaties could be transgressed upon trivial pretexts.
Of course a number of sociologists claim that in fact such is the case, that all through history Might has become Right, the stronger overpowering the weaker.
But perhaps they forget that all through history there has been a struggle for law and order, a struggle for right. Such a struggle had reached modest results, but they are results nevertheless. NATO has now trampled all such advances of human civilization and taken us back to barbarism. The Manifesto is silent on that crucial issue.
The Manifesto's authors must be aware that, if a number of women and men -- among whom the present writer is included -- abide by the internal law of their country, the only reason is the just sketched consideration, i.e. a concern for a civilized co-existence of human beings.
Such a respect is part and parcel of an implicit social covenant. But of course the covenant includes a twofold respect. The subjects (including the present writer) must abide by the prevailing law, just or unjust (to my mind it is quite often unjust); but the authorities must also abide by the law, which implies a lot of restraint, both as regards internal matters and foreign affairs.
Once such constraints are seriously and persistently violated, we, the subjects, begin to be justified in not feeling committed to revere the law.
To demand that the Yugoslav government should cease its «repression» in Kosovo (an integral part of Yugoslavia) is exactly equivalent to demanding that the French government should cease its repression in Corsica or Brittany, or that the Spanish government should cease its repression in the Bask Country.
First -- let me ask -- what counts as repression? I am aware the Yugoslav government conducts a repression against the KLO, in the same way -- and for the same reasons -- the Spanish government conducts a repression against the ETA in the Bask country. I am not aware of the existence of an undercover organization by the Yugoslav government similar to what a few years ago was the GAL, a terrorist scheme set up under the auspices of the Spanish government; but of course my information sources are narrow. The Manifesto's authors may enjoy a better information. They may, but I seriously doubt it. I incline to think their claims are careless and flippant and their main source is constituted by the manipulative displays of Bourbon's TV. Anyway such further sources of information as they may have they do not disclose for us, unenlightened readers, to scrutinize.
When suppressing the organizations engaged in armed uprisings, the Yugoslav, French and Spanish governments may commit unlawful acts, such as subjecting those belonging to illegal armed organizations to measures which do not respect their human rights, or victimizing civilians. In Spain for instance a so-called «citizens' security law» is in operation which allows the police to target civilians in a number of cases without those civilians enjoying such guarantees as are usual in modern liberal societies. We can easily surmise that, if that happens in a country wherein the secessionist guerrilla is small and has not enjoyed the support of any great power or any neighbour state, in Kosovo -- wherein the secessionist killers are backed by neighbour Albania, plus the US, Germany and Turkey -- counter-insurgent policies are likely to (unjustly) victimize a larger number of people. Such happenings are to be condemned, whatever the explanations. But of course, the main culprits are those who, to start with, back up un unjustified uprising.
The Manifesto's authors make no distinction in this connection. Thus probably they mean that any repression in Kosovo by the Yugoslav government (what, taking their cue from NATO's propaganda, they call `Milosevic') is illegitimate, whether targeted at the KLO or not. Oddly enough they do not consider illegitimate the armed actions of the KLO (or at least they do not call them `repression'; in fact they do not refer to them at all except through the vague phrase `all armed groups').
But the Manifesto blames the Yugoslav government (`Milosevic') on two accounts: repression is one; ethnic cleansing in Kosovo is the other.
Let me ask what counts as ethnic cleansing. If one person is unjustly victimized by a counter-insurgent police operation, does that count as ethnic cleansing, provided the victim has some ethnic feature distinguishing her from those who are in the police, or in government? Or perhaps at least two victims are necessary? Or must there be at least three? Or four? Or five? Or perhaps the [absolute] number does not matter, the only relevant fact being the proportion as regards the bulk of the (differentiated) population?
Moreover, what sort and what degree of victimization is required for a counter-insurgent campaign to count as ethnic cleansing? For instance, whenever a guerrilla is active in the country-side, counter-insurgent measures are taken which compel at least some inhabitants to leave their homes there. As much happens in all regular military operations. Of course we must demand that any legitimate government conducting counter-insurgent campaigns should do whatever is in its power to minimize any such consequences and, if and when they become entirely necessary, to give due compensation to those who suffer from it. But the mere fact that such measures are taken does not count as ethnic cleansing simply because the displaced people speak a language different from the one spoken by the police.
Until March 24 1999 there definitely was no ethnic cleansing in Kosovo. The figures of displaced or killed people were characteristic of a low-intensity guerrilla warfare, far below the level of violence in many other countries. (Secessionist uprising are now taking place in Senegal, Congo, Namibia, Angola, India, Sri Lanka, Burma, Indonesia, the Philippines, Papua-New Guinea, the Sudan, in several Sahelian countries, perhaps in the Algerian Cabilie region, in Turkey, Iraq, Iran, Somalia, not to mention those wherein a country has either occupied or annexed a foreign territory trampling international law, such as Morocco vs West Sahara, Indonesia vs Timor Leste, Turkey vs Cyprus, Israel vs the West Bank, the Syrian Golan and Southern Lebanon).
I leave it to statistics-scholars to give us a comparative account of all such conflicts. Although in many of them the governments may be blameworthy for stretching the repression beyond what would be necessary in order to keep law and order (and even though, furthermore, some of those regimes may count as unbearable tyrannies according to our above criterion -- which makes the secessionist uprising at least partly justified), as far as I know the number of casualties in Kosovo before NATO's aggression (24 March 1999) was among the lowest (as compared with the number of casualties in those other countries), despite the fact that Yugoslavia alone had for years been targeted by the great powers, which had been backing up the Kosovo secessionist guerrilla, whereas -- to the best of my knowledge -- there is no evidence to the effect that they back up other secessionist movements in the world.
But anyway the phrase `ethnic cleansing' has to be applied only when there is a clear and sustained policy aimed at artificially and compulsorily changing the composition of the population. Such policies are practised by Israel in East Jerusalem and have been practised by Turkey in Northern Cyprus. Perhaps they are applied by Indonesia in Western Papua, in the Molukes, Timor etc; and by Papua-New Guinea in Bougainville.
But charging the Yugoslav government with such accusation is unconvincing. Until 24 March the number of refugees was so small that it could hardly contribute to any substantial modification of the ethnic composition of the population in Kosovo. And whatever may have happened after 24 March 1999, i.e. in the compass of five weeks, can hardly be thought of as a permanent change of the Kosovo population.
Whenever a war is triggered -- and especially when a particularly cruel war like NATO's is launched -- many people leave their homes for a time. Even if military or other measures taken by the government as a part of the war operations constitute one of the reasons for those people to temporarily leave their homes, that fact on its own does not mean that the government is engaged in ethnic cleansing or anything like that.
The burden of the proof of ethnic cleansing falls on those who maintain that it is or has been committed by the Yugoslav government. The Manifesto does not help. No source is mentioned. Probably its authors think that NATO's propaganda is trustworthy and reliable.
Beyond those two charges (`repression' and `ethnic cleansing' with no definition of either), the Manifesto makes no specific charge against President Milosevic but feels itself entitled to assert (I quote): `Milosevic is a «Netanjahu» for the Albano-Kosovars and a «Pinochet» for the Serbs; his horrible crimes must be stopped at once.'
Those crimes are not sketched out, except the two charges concerning Kosovo which I have already considered. In particular, since President Milosevic is said to be a Pinochet for the Serbs, an indication ought to be given as to what warrants the analogy. The Manifesto offers none. Again I guess they think faith in what Bourbon's TV says is enough and exempts them from looking for any further evidence.
Comparing President Milosevic with Pinochet is so ludicrous that rebutting it is all too easy. First, President Milosevic has not climbed to power by murdering his predecessor. Then he has been elected. Whether the conditions of his election as President of the Republic of Yugoslavia were perfect is a different matter (into which I'll go in a moment). With President Milosevic's government there are opposition parties (some of them have at some time even taken part in the cabinet of ministers as everybody knows, for instance Mr. Vusko Draskovic who has been recently dismissed from his Deputee Prime-Minister post). There is an opposition press. There have been bitterly contested elections, some of which have been lost by Mr. Milosevic's party.
On the other hand, general Pinochet's rule was autocratic, extremely harsh and cruel (although even it was but a child's play as compared with the bloody tyrant Franco's in Spain), with no opposition allowed and with many people being killed and tortured just for expressing their opinions. Nothing of that sort has been ever reported or even claimed to happen in the Republic of Yugoslavia with the current government.
Moreover, Pinochet's tyranny launched a set of policies aimed at making the rich richer and the poor poorer, with all social rights being curtailed or even quashed. The current government in Yugoslavia has not followed such policies. Of course, from the view-point of the present writer the Yugoslav government's policies are objectionable, since they have implied a certain degree of privatization and market-oriented reforms, whereas I would favour a policy totally committed to the quick abolition of private ownership and market economy. But the similarity between general Pinochet's policies and those of President Milosevic does not exist.
Nor is the comparison with Mr. Netanyahu more accurate. The Israeli government under Netanyahu has not given the Palestinians Israeli citizenship, whereas all inhabitants of Kosovo are Yugoslav citizens with the same rights as other Yugoslav citizens, including voting rights, and the right to migrate to other Yugoslav regions. Palestinians have neither the right to vote in Israeli elections nor the right to live in any part of the Israeli territory. They have no citizenship right.
Moreover, the inhabitants of Kosovo (whether of Albanian language or of any other native language) have been born in a region which, in accordance with international law, is an integral part of the Yugoslav sovereign territory, whereas the West Bank is not a part of the state of Israel in accordance with international law. The Israeli occupation is unlawful; it violates resolutions of the United Nations (while such resolutionss constitute the only ground for the existence of the state of Israel).
Thus the Manifesto's comparison is groundless.
But, since the Manifesto demands that Yugoslavia should abandon an integral part of its sovereign land, one wonders why the Manifesto is silent on the other territorial questions in the Balkans. If Kosovo is to enjoy self-determination (and thus to be detached from Yugoslavia and given over to Albania, since Albanians make up the majority of the Kosovo population), why is the Borio-Epirus (about one third of Albania, which is Greek speaking)not equally granted self-determination, and thus given back to Greece? For notice that Albania has never (either under Mr. Enver Hoxha's government, or under Ramiz Alia, or under Sali Berisha, or under the current pro-NATO «socialist» government) granted any degree of autonomy or self-government, let alone self-determination, to the Borio-Epirus, while openly supporting the irredentist «freedom fighters» in Kosovo. And, bizarre though it is, nobody has remarked that «lack of coherence». (Except that from the view-point of Machiavelic and unprincipled politics it is no incoherence at all, of course.)
Now the Manifesto's authors include people who are in duty bound to know, to be aware of the issues involved. They must know that in the Balkans, once a right of self-determination is granted here, with the result of changing the existent international boundaries, a political earth-quake is set in motion. With the same grounds as those invoked in the case of Kosovo, Borio-Epirus is entitled to yearn for self-determination (in fact for annexation to Greece) and many regions in Thrace (Northern Greece), Macedonia, Bulgaria, and Romania are entitled to secede from their respective states. Only God knows what would follow; but, to be sure, friendship among peoples would not be reinforced. On the contrary, all dormant hatreds would be enlivened, kindled and stirred up. Probably several wars would follow.
That is why I do not endorse any such claim. But such as demand self-determination for Kosovo are bound to make it clear why they are not endorsing self-determination for Borio-Epirus, Thrace, Dobrudja, German Transylvania, etc.
Unless they think you secure a right only upon putting up a fight for such a right. That cannot be accepted. For then the weak who, because of their weakness, do not fight would lack rights; and, moreover, when first you put up a fight supporting your claim to something, you would not be entitled to obtain what you claim; but, should you persevere in your struggle and become powerful, you would -- at long last -- acquire the right to claim it as yours. Any such idea is simply repugnant.
Let me come to my last-but-one point. Although the Manifesto does not put forward any serious argument, some people could try to support its main claim against Mr. Milosevic by arguing that the Yugoslav President was not elected under ideal, perfectly democratic conditions.
The notion of perfect or ideal democracy is empty. It is like the notions of a perfect gas or a frictionless motion. They are abstract notions, whose practical significance in science is gradualistic: to the extent that a gas tends to resemble what would be a perfect gas, it behaves thus and so. Likewise, to the extent that a political system tends to resemble what would ideally be a perfect democracy, it is endowed with such or such features.
Now, the Manifesto's authors blame the Yugoslav political system for the supposed lack of democracy while they live in a country which is not democratic. As the present writer has proved in a paper analysing the current Spanish constitution (a paper nobody has refuted yet), Spain's unelected Head of State is constitutionally endowed with huge powers, which, among others, include:
(1) refusing to appoint a new Prime Minister if and when the electoral results are looked upon by Her/Him as objectionable;
(2) vetoing the decrees proposed to Her/His signature by the council of ministers;
(3) vetoing the laws approved by the bicameral Parliament (by simply failing to sanction or promulgate them);
(4) exerting the powers of Supreme Arbiter, Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces, and Supreme Moderator of all political institutions.
Such constitutional regulations mean that, contrary to what many people think, Spain is not a democracy. It is an imperfect non-democracy.
There are, to be sure, certain sorts of institutions typical of democracy which exist in Spain now. But their real implementation is often close to a model non-democracy. Thus, the Spanish electoral system is perhaps the worst of all possible electoral systems, with the result that her two-chambers parliament does not represent the real preferences of the electors.
Perhaps nowhere do parliaments really represent the genuine preferences of electors, but I doubt that the gap is anywhere else as large as it is in Spain. Sketching out the detailed reasons for my claim goes far beyond the limits of this paper.
Moreover, elections are manipulated in Spain by an all-powerful caucus through means which -- I hope -- would be scandalous and unheard-of elsewhere. It has been disclosed that, when Spaniards are called to the polls, a reduced group of oligarchs gather to decide whom they will favour. They control the media, and what they decide always turns out to be realized through outrageous manipulation.
Furthermore there are strict limits in Spain to freedom of speech, although often the judiciary decides not impose prison terms on account of opinions. Our opinions are thus tolerated, but very often they are legally forbidden all the same. (By `opinions' I mean the public expression of such opinions. Keeping them to oneself is legal.)
Under such conditions no electoral result is «perfectly democratic». In fact, from a gradualistic perspective, we could put forward the conjecture that our current political system is democratic in, let's say, 25%.
Moreover, the Spanish constitution was not freely adopted by the Spanish people. Until december 1978, when the current constitution was promulgated, the legal Spanish authorities were those of the Republican government in exile. The quasi-parliament which drew the current constitution had not been democratically elected, unless one is willing to stretch the credential of democracy beyond reasonable bounds. What is more, it constantly worked under duress, with the military threatening a coup d'etat, which at last was launched a few years afterwards (on February 23 1981), although it failed.
As offered to the Spanish people, the constitutional arrangement took no notice of the fact that up to that point Spain was legally a Republic and hence that the people had to be consulted on whether or not they wanted a royal restoration, which was imposed as an accomplished fact on the only ground of tyrant Franco's last will.
Even if such procedures could be justified as transition arrangements in order to avoid a new civil war, the Spanish Left has hitherto remained dependably and steadfastly loyal to the restored monarchy, despite its lack of genuine democracy and its dubious origins.
Thus it is all the more remarkable for the Manifesto's authors to feel entitled to claim that Mr. Milosevic is a dictator or for other people to allege that his election has not been perfectly democratic, while remaining silent on their own political regime, which is far closer to non-democracy than to democracy.
(All that notwithstanding, I am bound to abide by the law, for reasons which are abundantly clear from the above considerations. But of course there must be a two-sided covenant. We, the mere citizens or subjects, must obey the law, but the authorities are bound to also keep to the law, both in internal matters and in foreign affairs. The aggression against Yugoslavia and the aim of forcefully wrenching from her an integral part of her territory [an aim which is espoused by the Manifesto's authors who on this point wholly share NATO's war ends] is a breach of the covenant.)
Here is my last point. Since March 24 1999, i.e. in five weeks, NATO has reportedly caused more devastation in Yugoslavia than the nazis did in four years (1941-45). When a people suffers any such attack, popular undisciplined reactions are to be expected and the capacity of the legal authorities to impose law and order are limited.
We have seen that in Spain. On July 18 1936 Franco and other generals rose up in arms against the Spanish government, thus launching a 3-year long civil war which they would have lost had they not be powerfully supported by Italy (about 250,000 soldiers sent by Mussolini), Germany (the Condor Legion, which bombed Guernica as well as Madrid, Barcelona, Valencia, Alicante, Almeria etc), Great Britain (favouring Franco's demands in indirect ways) and the US (allowing Franco to acquire whatever oil he wanted while imposing an embargo on the Spanish Republic).
On July 18 1936 the Spanish people were faced with unbelievable news: the military had rebelled against the government. There had been minor incidents before, but little by little the political and social situation was coming back to normal and no civil-war atmosphere existed. All of a sudden, the rebellion erupted.
Upon which a real madness gushed and was contagiously spread. Many people were killed in the cities and villages which had remained in the hands of people loyal to the government. Who were the victims? Some of them were fascists, but of course their guilt ought to have been proved in a legal and due process of law, which was not the case. Other people were probably not fascists but simply people with reactionary views, or well to do people, some of whom may even have been averse to the fascist rebellion.
The orgy of blood did not last long. Thanks mainly to the energetic activity of the Spanish communist party, things went back to normal little by little, and after a few weeks or months the lawful authorities were restored in the exercise of their constitutional functions (more or less, because the war of course went on and on for three years).
Those who have read Hemingway's FOR WHOM THE BELL TOLLS know what I am speaking about. Other writers on the Spanish civil war (for instance Malraux) offer a watered-down version of the facts. Hemingway was of course an immoralist (his endorsement of bull-fighting I find particularly loathsome and deplorable) but, by and large, on this particular point he was right.
The cause of the Spanish Republic was a rightful and just cause despite those crimes.
I can easily figure out that people in Yugoslavia who are bombed to death, who face an unprecedented destruction of their country on a scale which oversteps imagination react in murderous ways by victimizing the (suspected) sympathizers of the guerrillas which are acting in connivance with the enemy. (Such a connivance has been recognized: the KLA is reported to be acting as an auxiliary force of NATO's aggression.)
That is possible, but of course we lack reliable evidence. Remembering what happened in Spain in 1936, I think that something like that may be happening in Kosovo. I think any such acts have to be suppressed by the legal authorities and that no reprisals have to be endured by any human being on account of their opinions or feelings. But of course the mere fact that I think such things may be happening does not hinder my whole-hearted solidarity with the Yugoslav people, the victim of one of the most criminal aggressions in the whole history.
Let us imagine what the Spanish Republicans would have thought had there been democratic Manifestos in Paris, Bruxels or London in 1936-39 putting forward the slogan `Neither the fascists nor Azaña' (Azaña was the constitutional President of the Spanish Republic; the conditions under which he had been elected had not been perfectly or ideally democratic either, nor was he a saint). The Spanish Left has forgotten all that.
The Spanish Left has betrayed the Spanish Republic. It has betrayed the Spanish tradition of peacefulness and neutrality by endorsing Spanish membership of NATO -- or by giving up the struggle against such membership, even when the Spanish government has gone back on the terms upon which, by a small margin, the Spanish people accepted to become a NATO member on March 6 1986.
The Spanish Left has betrayed the traditional brotherhood relations with Latin America by endorsing Spanish membership of the European Union.
But this last treason is one too many.
I'll tell you, Spanish Left, for whom the bell tolls. To be sure, it tolls for Yugoslavia, the innocent martyr country which is being slaughtered. But it also tolls for such forces as, by becoming the neutralist accomplices of her executioners, commit suicide. It tolls for you!
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