Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Orwell's "Catalonia" Revisited (VIII)

Agora, talvez a parte mais disparatada do texto de Daniels:

But by far the worst aspect of Homage to Catalonia is its strong advocacy of totalitarianism. It is the literary equivalent of an urban myth that the book argues against the Stalinist deformation of socialism, when the very opposite is much nearer the truth. Of course, Orwell does indeed object to the Stalinist resort to lying on an industrial scale, but that is only a minor part of his objection to Stalin’s policy in Spain. His real objection is that Stalin did not want the radical revolution—as exemplified by the destruction of the church, the collectivization of the land, the nationalization of all major industry, the elimination of the bourgeoisie, the prohibition of prostitution and the legal profession, and the complete equalization of wages—to proceed, because he thought that a popular front, in which liberal democrats would be taken into temporary partnership, would be more effective in stopping Franco.

Orwell objected to Stalin’s policy because Stalin maintained that “we can’t afford to alienate the peasants [in Spain] by forcing collectivization upon them,” whereas Orwell thought that the war was lost unless it was turned into a true revolutionary war, which included such forced collectivization. “It was easy,” he lamented, “to rally the wealthier peasants against the collectivization policy.” There are no prizes for guessing, then, on whose side he would have been on in the struggle against the so-called kulaks in the Soviet Union, and necessarily so: for kulaks are money-grubbers, the air they breathe is money-tainted, and so forth.


Orwell objected to Stalin—who, as supplier of arms to the loyalist side, was in a position to dictate policy—telling the Spanish (according to Orwell) “Prevent revolution or you get no weapons.” He, Orwell, wanted the totalitarian society that he had glimpsed in Barcelona. Therefore, in Spain at least, Stalin was a freedom fighter by comparison with Orwell.(bold meu)

Pois, Orwell critica Estaline por este ter travado a revolução em Espanha (e também os métodos policiais usados por Estaline para esmagar a revolução). A partir daí, como é que Daniels chega à conclusão que o livro é pró-totalitário, ou que seria mesmo o oposto de uma critica ao totalitarismo estalinista? Daniels raciocina como se a única oposição ao totalitarismo estalinista fosse "pela direita", em nome da social-democracia ou do capitalismo liberal, esquecendo-se que também havia uma (ou melhor, várias) oposição "pela esquerda", que combatia o estalinismo em nome de uma economia socialista democraticamente gerida pelos trabalhadores (era o caso dos anarquistas, dos "comunistas de conselhos", dos trotskistas, etc.) e era com esse anti-totalitarismo "de esquerda" que Orwell se identificava.

Para além das passagens que citei lá atrás acerca da posição de Orwell sobre a disciplina militar, a descrição bastante elogiosa que dá dos anarquistas e dos seus métodos evidencia que não havia nada de "totalitário" em Orwell:

"The Anarchist viewpoint is less easily defined. In any case the loose term 'Anarchists' is used to cover a multitude of people of very varying opinions. The huge block of unions making up the C.N.T. (Confederacion Nacional de Trabajadores), with round about two million members in all, had for its political organ the F.A.I. (Federacion Anarquista Iberica), an actual Anarchist organization. But even the members of the F.A.I., though always tinged, as perhaps most Spaniards are, with the Anarchist philosophy, were not necessarily Anarchists in the purest sense. Especially since the beginning of the war they had moved more in the direction of ordinary Socialism, because circumstances had forced them to take part in centralized administration and even to break all their principles by entering the Government. Nevertheless they differed fundamentally from the Communists in so much that, like the P.O.U.M., they aimed at workers' control and not a parliamentary democracy. They accepted the P.O.U.M. slogan: 'The war and the revolution are inseparable', though they were less dogmatic about it. Roughly speaking, the C.N.T.-F.A.I. stood for: (i) Direct control over industry by the workers engaged in each industry, e.g. transport, the textile factories, etc.; (2) Government by local committees and resistance to all forms of centralized authoritarianism; (3) Uncompromising hostility to the bourgeoisie and the Church. The last point, though the least precise, was the most important. The Anarchists were the opposite of the majority of so-called revolutionaries in so much that though their principles were rather vague their hatred of privilege and injustice was perfectly genuine. Philosophically, Communism and Anarchism are poles apart. Practically--i.e. in the form of society aimed at--the difference is mainly one of emphasis, but it is quite irreconcilable. The Communist's emphasis is always on centralism and efficiency, the Anarchist's on liberty and equality. Anarchism is deeply rooted in Spain and is likely to outlive Communism when the Russian influence is withdrawn. During the first two months of the war it was the Anarchists more than anyone else who had saved the situation, and much later than this the Anarchist militia, in spite of their indiscipline, were notoriously the best fighters among the purely Spanish forces. From about February 1937 onwards the Anarchists and the P.O.U.M. could to some extent be lumped together. If the Anarchists, the P.O.U.M., and the Left wing of the Socialists had had the sense to combine at the start and press a realistic policy, the history of the war might have been different. But in the early period, when the revolutionary parties seemed to have the game in their hands, this was impossible. Between the Anarchists and the Socialists there were ancient jealousies, the P.O.U.M., as Marxists, were sceptical of Anarchism, while from the pure Anarchist standpoint the 'Trotskyism' of the P.O.U.M. was not much preferable to the 'Stalinism' of the Communists. Nevertheless the Communist tactics tended to drive the two parties together. When the P.O.U.M. joined in the disastrous fighting in Barcelona in May, it was mainly from an instinct to stand by the C.N.T., and later, when the P.O.U.M. was suppressed, the Anarchists were the only people who dared to raise a voice in its defence." (bolds meus)

Também a descrição que Daniels dá da revolução radical que Orwell defenderia é um bocado mal-informada:

"the nationalization of all major industry" - o que os revolucionários espanhóis defendiam era a "colectivização" da indústria, não a sua "nacionalização": as empresas colectivisadas não tinham sido estatizadas - haviam passado a ser propriedade dos sindicatos do sector e geridas pelos próprios trabalhadores da empresa.

"the collectivization of the land" (...) "Orwell thought that the war was lost unless it was turned into a true revolutionary war, which included such forced collectivization" - aqui há duas coisas distintas: uma é a expropriação das terras dos latifundiários; outra é se a terra expropriada deveria ser colectivizado ou distribuida por pequenos agricultores. Orwell era claramente a favor da expropriação dos latifundios; quanto à questão da colectivização vs. minifundio, sinceramente, das vezes que li o livro, não me pareceu que ele tivesse posição definida nessa questão. Seja como for, é sabido que a maior parte das expropriações de terras na Espanha republicana foram feitas sob incentivo das milicias anarquistas, que, por regra, não impuseram a "colectivização forçada" - quem preferisse cultivar um pequeno pedaço de terra em vez de se juntar às comunidades era livre de o fazer (pelo contrário, os comunistas - nomeadamente o "batalhão Lister" - especializaram-se na "descolectivização forçada": chegar a uma colectividade, executarem alguns elementos e obrigarem os outros a dividir a terra colectivizada)

"the prohibition of prostitution" - os revolucionários espanhóis, efectivamente, faziam cartazes apelando às prostitutas para que deixassem de se prostituir (Orwell testemunha isso); dai à "proibição da prostituição" vai uma grande diferença

"complete equalization of wages" - a igualização completa de salários que várias vezes é falada no livro como uma reivindicação revolucionária era a igualdade de salários no exército, não na sociedade em geral

[Para uma descrição - completamente parcial, é verdade - da "revolução espanhola", "Does revolutionary Spain show that libertarian socialism can work in practice?", no Anarchist FAQ]

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