Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Anti-fascist hero: Moe Fishman

SALUD ! to Moe Fishman (1915-2007)
The Unrepentant Communist posts this moving obituary for Moe Fishman, International Brigade veteran. It is sad to see the passing of this generation of honourable men and women, many working class Jewish children of immigrants. My grandfather, a Communist in New York at the same time as Fishman, idolised people like Moe, who made the journey to Spain. As a child, the "International Brigade" conjured up the noblest form of heroism.

As I got older, and developed politically, I came to see the ignoble side of the International Brigade, its use by Moscow to destroy dissident forms of anti-fascism in Spain. I realised things were not as black and white as fascism versus anti-fascism. So the passing of people like Fishman touches me in another way too: the tragedy of noble impulses used so wrongly.


chick said...

Hi Bob.
Some years ago we had the pleasure to watch a movie portrait of Moe Fishman an other members of the Lincoln Brigades in a german youth centre. I'm quite sad about the news that he passed by (for guys like him never the less to early). But I would be cautious with the use of words like "hero" or "heroism". I think Moe and others too would had shown it up as a case of "no other choice" and dot. "Heroism" to me is close to religious terms or adjectives like "unreachable" while doing good things by accepting therefore absurd risks. Maybe we should agree to consider the continuing our lives as the munition of capitalist exploitation being more absurd than following Moe (as we try to do - hopefully).
Greetings Chick

The New Centrist said...

Hi Bob,

Not sure if you saw this but am interested in your (critical) opinions:

¿Viva la Insurgencía?: The Spanish Civil War and the Legacy of the Totalitarian International Brigades

The memory of the Spanish Civil War is shaped by multiple and competing narratives. Was it a civil war or a revolution? A struggle between a fledgling liberal democratic republic and reactionary fascists? Or perhaps a righteous struggle waged by the forces of patriotism, nationalism, and religion against communism?

[article continues]

bob said...

Yes, point taken. And, clearly, I am ambivalent about Moe & Co.

New C-
Excellent post, hadn't seen it.

I've got another post coming up on this (sooner or later, depending how much time I have...)


The New Centrist said...


I'll be looking forward to your next post on this topic.

Have you read Michael Seidman's "Republic of Egos: A Social History of the Spanish Civil War"? It's very interesting and focuses on the role of the individual much more than any other work I've read on the SCW.

Here is a bit from the Intro:

The following study of the Spanish civil war and revolution intends to demonstrate how individuals make history. These actors cannot be reduced to mere members of social or political collectivities. Individuals were not determined by their social class and gender or, if they were, the ways they interpreted and acted upon their class or gender identities diverged enough to dilute the explanatory usefulness of these concepts. The emphasis on the collective experience of a class or gender assumes and even encourages the discovery or invention of a community or commonality that may not have existed.


I shall de-emphasize the great collectivities of party, class and gender that historians have favored to examine the more intimate social groups of family, friends and village. These intermediary bodies negotiated between the individual and the larger society...Class and gender will not be ignored, but more attention will be devoted to the struggles of social groups that have yet received little attention. One of the major conflicts of the republican zone was between producers and consumers of food. The state favored the latter by imposing price controls. In addition, soldiers could use threats and violence to extort food and other goods. Conversely, peasants engaged in black marketeering or concealed their possessions."