Barcelona, Through the Words of George Orwell (Our First Night)

11 Nov

When we arrived in Barcelona, my memories of the tragedy of the P.O.U.M. (Partido Obrero Unidad Marxista) through George Orwell’s “Homage to Catalonia” returned to me.  When I graduated in 1968 from college with a bachelor’s degree in mathematics, I had already been radicalized by the Vietnam War.  I was an anti-imperialist and vaguely a socialist.  One book, I read to further define my politics, was by George Woodcock on the history of anarchism.  The book’s title escapes me now.  I never really defined myself as an anarchist, but I wanted to be exposed to its ideas.  In this excellent book was a bibliography in which Orwell’s “Homage to Catalonia” was listed.  I had read in high school Orwell’s “Animal Farm.”  So, I read is journalistic writing on Catalonia.  His book turned me into an anti-Stalinist, but not a Trotskyist.  I realized after reading it, if I were in Spain and particularly in Barcelona during the Spanish Civil War, I would had ended up in the P.O.U.M. and consequently probably dead or perhaps exiled.

When I’m in an ill mood, I call Barcelona just an ordinary port city.  However, it is much more than that.  It’s got a long and rich history.  It was where the Spanish industrial working-class was born.  It has magnificent art history.  The names of Miro, Picasso, Gaudi, and even the Fascist-apologist Dali come to mind.

When we arrived in Barcelona, it was already dark, because of the late start from Zaragoza.  We stayed five nights in Barcelona in the Poble Neu, which was originally a working-class industrial area, but now parts of it has become gentrified.  We had a rather small room in a rather small apartment.  Besides the man, who has a medical degree and a Doctor’s, two dogs and two cats lived there.  The small apartment smelled of the dogs, but with the door of our room closed, the odor dissipated.  After the first night, the odor was gone.  The young bitch barked incessantly in my presence, but barked less and less as the few days passed.  After we arrived the first night, we shopping for fruit and bread and few other items, we then went to bed.

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