Crusade of the Left: The Lincoln Battalion in the Spanish Civil War

Crusade of the Left: The Lincoln Battalion in the Spanish Civil War

Crusade of the Left: The Lincoln Battalion in the Spanish Civil War

Crusade of the Left: The Lincoln Battalion in the Spanish Civil War

Excerpt

In the eighteen months between December 1936 and June 1938, some 3,000 young Americans sailed the Atlantic to France and then crossed the Pyrenees to take part as voluntary soldiers on the side of the Republic in the brutal civil war then raging in Spain. Virtually all of them joined the International Brigades, formed under the auspices of the Soviet-led Comintern and largely directed by Communists. Yet a large number of these men were not Communists, and the activism they showed in going to Spain did not spring from a desire to make the world safe for Joseph Stalin. Rather, these Americans who largely fought beneath the banner of the Abraham Lincoln Battalion of the XVth International Brigade were native American radicals who had been impelled by the domestic and international crises of the 1930's to defend what seemed to them to be the cause of Western civilization itself.

Thirty years later, one may wonder at the actions of militants who volunteer for a conflict thousands of miles from home. Yet the experiences of the 1960's should help us to understand them. In the past decade, we have become accustomed once again to the idea of the United States as a land of conflict as well as consensus. Student strikes and sit-ins, anti-war marches and demonstrations, black demands and ghetto revolts have reminded us that a native radicalism can flourish in America. It was the same in the . . .

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