17 February 2011

Interesting Name

Banner of the pro-communist Lincoln Brigade, which was comprised of Americans who fought in the Spanish Civil War.


Andy said...

A fitting mascot for such a collection of miscreants.

Anonymous said...

I find myself wondering why Karl Marx would have sent a congratulatory note to President Lincoln when he was re-elected?

Methodist Jim said...

The world of the Timman has no nuance. Even the Spanish Civil War is black and white. Even if I take your word for it that the Lincoln Brigade was simply "pro-communist" - as opposed to "anti-fascist" as they describe themselves - is it any wonder that Americans fighting in Spain came to be labeled with the name of likely one of the only two past American presidents known in Spain. I mean, really, would you expect them to be named after Millard Fillmore or Chester Arthur?

And, oh yeah, the St. Louis Rams named themselves after sheep. The Cardinals named themselves first after a color on their uniforms, then morphed that into a bird as their mascot.

Your point?

Athelstane said...

Hello Methodist Jim,

1. I don't speak for Timman, but allow me to suggest that some readers here (not necessarily myself) consider Lincoln to be something closer to a tyrant than an icon, and therefore all too fitting a patron for a bunch of zealous left-wing...uh, "anti-fascists."

The Lincoln brigade, of course, considered him a powerful and positive figure to latch on to, and so they did.

2. While both sides in the Spanish Civil War committed atrocities, it certainly was close enough to black and white from the Church's perspective: one side massacred and tortured priests, nuns, and Catholic laypeople, sacked or destroyed churches and monasteries, and defaced and destroyed Catholic monuments and sacred art; the other side protected these things.

thetimman said...

Methodist Jim,

Your admiration of Lincoln is noted. I think it possible that since it was the Spanish "Civl War" they chose their own hero of the U.S. "Civil War". And a fitting hero he is, if one's goal is to fight to have a nation with a centralized government that promises to end traditional rights and institutions of sovereignty, ignores traditional legal authority in the name of some greater good identified by that government, and is non- or anti- religious.

It is, I also suppose, interesting that they chose any president after whom to name themselves. French brigades in the Spanish war used Joan of Arc; Irish brigades also forewent choosing government leaders.

The Lincoln Brigade is fondly remembered in history by the avant-garde of the left, for whom this war was their first chance to joint the socialist worldwide revolution in arms, and because of Hemingway. It wasn't the first time America opposed Spain, but we'd likely disagree on the rectitude of that war, too.

And I think a brigade named after Chester "Kickin'" A. Arthur would be cool.

thetimman said...



Methodist Jim said...

Athelstane, I am well aware of the perceptions of Abraham Lincoln held by some readers (and bloggers) at this site. And, I certainly get the point insinuated by the post. My comment was intended to prompt The Timman to speak his point more directly. If one believes that Lincoln was a tyrant, he should say so. If one believes that Lincoln was a communist or a nun-murderer, he should say so. Make your point rather than hide it behind the irrelevant fact that a group of folks chose to use Lincoln's name and image for their brigade over 70 years after his death.

Blaming Abraham Lincoln for the Lincoln Brigade is like blaming baby bears for the Chicago baseball team. Associating the two together is as relevant as associating James Madison with the protests in the capitol of Wisconsin yesterday.

I also appreciate your recognition that atrocities were committed on both sides of the Spanish Civil War. I won't pick a side in that conflict. To me, by and large, there were no "good guys." But, if Wikipedia is a relevant source to cite (and the Timman seems to believe that it is, given the citation above), significant atrocities were committed by Nationalists during and after the war, including persecution of Protestants (hitting close to home for me)and the murder of Protestant ministers. In addition, "Nationalists murdered Catholic clerics."

Again, its hard for me to pick a side to support. I think that it should be impossible for any human being knowing his history to pick a side to support.

And, Timman, the William Henry Harrison Brigade would be even cooler. Although debate would be long winded, no conflict could last longer than 32 days.

Oh, here's the Wikipedia "link" to copy and paste:

thetimman said...

Methodist Jim, you like clarity, so your point about the irrationality of "blaming Abraham Lincoln" for the name of the brigade seems to be a non sequitur, as I made no attempt to blame him for it.

Secondly, thinking it impossible for "any" human being to pick a side in the Spanish Civil War seems to indicate that either we cannot read and study any historical issue and pick a side, or else you believe as Ford did that "history is bunk", and thus not worth paying attention to. We pick sides every day in all sorts of ways.

I will agree about the Harrison brigade.

StGuyFawkes said...


Since I am perhaps the only reader of this blog who has ever attended a Communist Party, USA meeting, perhaps it falls to me to elucidate why the "Abraham Lincoln Brigade" was chosen as the sobriquet by which to rally those Americans who wanted to fight for the Spanish Republic.

Wikapedia tells us: “American volunteers mostly joined .....two battalions (the Lincoln Battalion and the Washington Battalion) within XV International Brigade.”

Note: the American brigades were named after Washington AND Lincoln. Now Tim’s post asks the question of “why Lincoln.” The real question is “why Washington and Lincoln.”

Here is why.

The “brigades” were formed in 1937, during Earl Browder’s chairmanship of CPUSA. Browder took the party into a period of “Popular Front” policies whereby CP members saw themselves left allies of “the New Deal” and other socialist parties to the right. Browder created the slogan “Communism is Twentieth Century Americanism” and vigorously attempted to separate the party’s image from that of Moscow. Hence the brigades, recruited largely from CP members, were given names redolent of “Americanism”: Washington and Lincoln. Browder campaigned for President of the U.S. on the “Americanism” slogan.

In a word, “Twentieth Century Americanism” was a CP publicity trick to spin out the idea that Communism was as American as labor unions and apple pie. The “Lincoln Brigade” was of a piece with Browderism.

There’s more to the story, of course. Browder was a Moscow spy all the while he preached “Americanist” independence from Moscow. Ironically, for all his loyal spying, Browder lost an internal battle in the party when Moscow demanded a more compliant puppet. Browdeer was replaced by William Z. Foster who was a straight Moscow toadie. After Foster, CPUSA did not come out of it’s Kremlin crazed adulation of the Soviets, until Gorbochev. Under Chairman Gus Hall CPUSA defended the suppression of the Hungarian ’56 revolt and the Prague spring of Czechoslovakia.

At the last CP meeting I attended Vice Presidential candidate Arnold Johnson defended the putsch in Prague and said that Southern Dixie-crat senators should be “liquidated”. Let it be noted that at that moment a very callow StGuy rose to defend the anti-Soviet rebels of Prague and left feeling a little chilled by the fact that in the enlightened days of 1972 CP was still unblushingly using the term “liquidate”, a term which means of course “to murder.” I left the party headquarters sobered by the thought of dead American senators. It was 10:00 in the evening. As I escaped to dark and sweltering streets of Gaslight Square some negro women and men found me and suggested I be killed because too many “young brothers” are dying at the hands of other “young brothers” and I was a likely as they put it, “diddly wop **X@#**” who might be good to kill just to show who “brothers” ought to be shooting at. Black Power!

I ran as fast as I could back into the party meeting and got a ride home from some Communists.

Sometimes it takes an old red to remember how it all went down.


St. Guy

Andy said...

Methodist Jim,

For the sake of clarity:

Lincoln was a tyrant.

thetimman said...


I don't know which left me reeling more-- that you attended a CP meeting or that you used the term "sobriquet". Both the term and the story were awesome.


Methodist Jim said...

Thanks Andy. That's all the clarity I wanted from the blogger.

And thanks Guy for the story. A great glimpse at a bit of history with personal detail. I enjoyed that very much.

I also enjoyed hearing that there was also a "Washington Brigade" since in my original comment I referred to Lincoln as "likely one of the only two past American presidents known in Spain." Washington, of course, was the other . . . and they used his name and image too. Was Washington a communist, tyrannical, nun-murderer too? (Proposed answer for the Timman . . . "No. Just a Mason.")

StGuyFawkes said...

Dear Tim,

Reel no more; rather consider that both the original Guy Fawkes and any CPUSA member had, shall we say, problems of "double loyalty."

Something the defenders of the Rosenbergs were too dishonest to admit.

St. Guy

Anonymous said...

I don't dare dive in with any substance, but I am curious as to what brought all this on.

Fascinating story StGuy.

Andy said...

Methodist Jim,

You ask, "Was Washington a communist, tyrannical, nun-murderer too?"

I don't recall anyone suggesting a necessary connection between having one's name chosen by the communists and possessing the above mentioned traits. What has been proposed is that, in the case of Lincoln, it is fitting that his name was used.

Methodist Jim said...

Andy, I am curious, if no one is suggesting such a connection, then why is it fitting that Lincoln's name was used?

And, by the way, I do have to note your use of the word "necessary" certainly implies that someone is suggesting that there is a "possible" "connection between having one's name chosen by communists and possessing the above mentioned traits."

Really, there's been enough said on this post. The Timman, and many others, are not fond of Mr. Lincoln. That's fine. The Timman, and many others - including me, are not fond of communists. That's, of course, fine too. And the Timman, and many others, look with disdain at those who fought on the "Republican" side in the Spanish Civil War. I've got no problem with that either. (I do have a problem with some that look with too much favor on the "Nationalist" side, ignoring some, in my mind, obvious negatives. But that's neither here nor there.)

The only problem that I have with this post is the suggestion that the use of Lincoln's name by "the pro-communist Lincoln Brigade" shows any connection or similarity whatsoever between President Lincoln and one side of the Spanish Civil War.

And, if you say, this post made no such suggestion, then why on earth was it posted at all?

StGuyFawkes said...

Tim and Methodist Jim and all,

I'll embark on a research project to discover if the choice of Lincoln had anything to do with an attempt to make an implicit comparison between the U.S. Civil War and the Spanish Civil War.

In my reading most of the reporting from the left refered to the Madrid government as "republican" or "legitimist." The left was anxious to capitalize on the elected and parliamentary form of the Madrid regime much as they did in Chile when it was important to remind the world that the Communist government of Salvador Allende was elected government.

I don't know if the left ever or often referred to the Spanish conflict as a "Civil War." THat would give up too much ground to call it a civil war. Much better to call it a war to defend the republic.

I do hope everyone remembers the scenes in "The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie" when bonnie Jean persuaded her class to honor the rebels Mussolini and Franco and so the the poor and soon to die Mary MacGregor ran away to join the wrong (republican) side because to a child it was all so confusing: the rebels were conservative and the anarchist were in the goverment.

St. Guy

StGuyFawkes said...

I'm getting old and there is a term from left polemics in the
'30s that keeps slipping back into a fog each time I try to fetch it.

I finally remembered it this morning. The Left referred to the Madrid, socialist-anarchist-and-communist "Republic" as the "LOYALIST" side.

I really don't think there was much connection in the lefty brain between the choice of "Abraham Lincoln" as the name for a "Loyalist" brigade and our "civil war", or "war of northern agression" if you will.

Republic best said...

Timman said: "if one's goal is to fight to have a nation with a centralized government that promises to end traditional rights and institutions of sovereignty, ignores traditional legal authority in the name of some greater good identified by that government, and is non- or anti- religious."

The federal government was not meant to be repressive when our Constitution was drawn up and signed and there is nothing that states that religion must be kept out of everything public. It is only by abuse and ignoring our Constitution that the rights of the states have been ignored, or fought as Obama is currently doing with Obamacare, suing Arizona, and butting into Wisconsin.

Is there one other country in the world that has a better system of government than ours, allowing for freedom and growth as we do? The answer is obvious.

thetimman said...

Republic best,

Your comment does not contradict mine. I agree that the Constitution was not drawn up with a repressive federal government. Lincoln's policies, dictates and his illegal war did most of the foundational damage to that document, and one need not cite Obama as the destroyer of a document long ago effectively destroyed.

As for the republic being the best form of government, that is a point that can be debated. There are no longer any Catholic monarchies for me to raise up as the banner of opposition, so even if the US is still (relative to others) the best government, that does not speak to the nature or extent of its fall from founding principles.