Bunk, Brian D., 1968-; Pack, Sasha D.; Scott, Carl-Gustaf (ed.) / Nation and conflict in modern Spain: essays in honor of Stanley G. Payne
Esenwein. George Richard
The Cold War and the Spanish Civil War: the impact of politics on historiography, pp. 175-189 ff.
NATION AND CONFLICT IN MODERN SPAIN Orwell took pride in being an iconoclast and was therefore loath to attach himself to orga- nizations that had a specific ideological agenda. This is not to deny his total lack of political engagement. During the last years of his life, he belonged to several organizations concerned with civil liberties, but apparently was only active in one: the Freedom Defense Committee, which was primarily concerned with defending the rights of British left-wingers who were being prosecuted for political reasons. He was also loosely affiliated with more broadly based organizations of this type. For example, he briefly participated in the foundation of the League of Dignity and the Rights of Man (sponsored by such luminaries as Arthur Koestler, Bertrand Russell, and Victor Gollancz) and was invited by Koestler to join the international writers' organization PEN-which at the time had a distinctly anti-Communist message. Like Orwell, Bolloten coveted his intellectual independence (and personal anonym- ity) so highly that he tended to shun formal political associations--especially those that were vying for the public spotlight-as well as ties to academia. And while it is true that he was privately supportive of various political causes he deemed worthwhile, he believed that writing history mattered more than engaging in doctrinal polemics. This latter point bears underscoring insofar as Bolloten has been falsely and maliciously accused by his fiercest critics-notably the International Brigade veteran and American historian Robert Colodny, and Herbert Rutledge Southworth, another independent scholar who spent the greater part of his life researching and writing about the Civil War and related themes-of having his work subsidized and sponsored by right-wing organizations (Hoover Institution) and even the CIA. According to them, Bolloten's writings should be regarded as vehicles for promoting the propagandistic views of political agencies fighting the ideological war against Communism.6 Sources Any serious assessment of Civil War scholarship would have to begin by evaluating the evi- dence or sources that are being used to construct an historical narrative or interpretation. One of the major criticisms that the revisionists have leveled at Bolloten's explanatory model of the war and revolution, for example, is that it relies too heavily on a selective and highly tendentious body of evidence. Because his writings on Spain are more reportorial than his- torical, Orwell's reading of the Civil War has been attacked for other reasons. Above all, his descriptive accounts of the May Events and other noteworthy episodes of the war have been dismissed by his critics as the partisan views of an ill-informed eye witness whose ex- periences were restricted to parts of Aragon and Catalonia. According to the distinguished labor historian John Saville, Orwell and those who accept his anti-Communist version of the Civil War are guilty of engaging in what he characterizes as an "old-fashioned" Cold War approach to the subject. If we glance briefly at the empirical foundations of the writings of both Orwell and Bolloten, the speciousness of the revisionists' assumptions in this regard 180
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