Taking sides

Editorial note: If you have not yet read our mission statement above, please do so in order that you can put our blogs in context. 

21 March 2013


In the autumn of 1937 the London-based Left Review asked 148 writers to take sides in respect of the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939), which pitted Generalísimo Francisco Franco’s Nationalist Insurgents against the Loyalist Republicans defending the legitimate Spanish Government. The request was formulated as follows:


To the Writers and Poets of England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales

It is clear to many of us throughout the whole world that now, as certainly never before, we are determined or compelled to take sides. The equivocal attitude, the Ivory Tower, the paradoxical, the ironic detachment, will no longer do.

We have seen murder and destruction by Fascism in Italy, in Germany – the organization there of social injustice and cultural death – and how revived, imperial Rome, abetted by international treachery, has conquered her place in the Abyssinian sun. The dark millions in the colonies are unavenged.

Today the struggle is in Spain. Tomorrow it may be in other countries – our own. But there are some who, despite the martyrdom of Durango and Guernica, the enduring agony of Madrid, of Bilbao, and Germany’s shelling of Almeria, are still in doubt, or who aver that it is possible that Fascism may be what it proclaims it is: “the saviour of civilization”.

This is the question we are asking you: Are you for, or against, the legal Government and the People of Republican Spain? Are your for, or against, Franco and Fascism? For it is impossible any longer to take no side.

Writers and Poets, we wish to print your answers. We wish the world to know what you, writers and poets, who are amongst the most sensitive instruments of a nation, feel.

The Question was signed by 12 leading intellectuals: Louis Aragon, W.H. Auden, José Bergamin, Jean Richard Bloch, Nancy Cunard, Brian Howard, Heinrich Mann, Ivor Montagu, Pablo Neruda, Ramón J. Sender, Stephen Spender and Tristan Tzara.

Of the 148 writers polled, 127 supported the Loyalists, 16 stayed on the fence, and 5 sided with Franco.


 You might perhaps care to view some of our earlier posts.  For instance:

1. Why? or How? That is the question (3 Jan 2012)

2. Partitocracy v. Democracy (20 July 2012)

3. The shoddiest possible goods at the highest possible prices (2 Feb 2012)

4. Capitalism in practice  (4 July 2012) 

5.Ladder  (21 June 2012)

 6. A tale of two cities (1)  (6 June 2012)

 7. A tale of two cities (2)  (7 June 2012)

 8. Where’s the beef? Ontology and tinned meat (31 Jan 2012)

Every so often we shall change this sample of previously published posts.




This entry was posted in Germany, Ireland, Italy, Literature, Politics, Spain, UK and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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