Wednesday, October 28, 2009

A Look At Spanish Anarchist Punk Rock







Every so often, I check out popular music from Spain. I am particularly interested in the resurgence of music in Catalan, the language of northern Spain. In its written form, it looks a lot like it is mid point between French and Spanish. For decades after the Spanish Civil War ended in 1939, the language of Catalonia was driven under ground. It was not taught, used in government administration or broadcast. When Franco died in 1975, the liberalisation that affected everything else in Spanish life led to a revival of Catalan. Today the language is used in government offices and in the Catalonian legislature, the Generalitat. It is broadcast and taught. there are about six million speakers of the language. My favourite group that sings in Catalan is Sopa de Cabra, which translates as "goat's head".

One group I ecountered in my search for music was an anarchist punk band called Sin Dios. I was troubled by the title, which translates as "Without God". The name for the band reminded me of a quote attributed to Rabbi Levi Yitzhak of Berditchev who said, "The god you don't believe in, I don't believe in either."

The song I found posted was "1936" . It was striking because its use of film footage from the Spanish Civil War, which lasted from 1936 to 1939. I was struck by the seeming freshness of the Spanish Civil War in the collective memory of the performers. The song was written from an anarchist point of view. It condemned not only fascism but Communism as well. Many Spaniards were killed in the aftermath of the Soviet German Friendship treaty of 1939. Some were killed by Spanish fascists. others were killed elsewhere by the Germans. One of the slave labour projects in the German occupied Channel Islands was built in part by Spanish conscripts.


In this light, the rawness of "1936" has a certain resonance. I have provided the Spanish words to the song and a rough English translation below.




El sol de julio calienta mas fuerte
rostros rojinegros desprecian la muerte
deciden vencer, con fuego y metralla
barriendo al fascismo de calles y plazas.

No son soldados, ni mercenarios
son hombres y mujeres, son libertarios
no luchan por el orden republicano
su corazón late revolucionario.

Ya no hay patrones, ni explotadores
la vida organizan los trabajadores
colectivizan ciudades, liberan los campos
Crean las milicias, en los sindicatos.

1936
El pueblo se alza como un vendaval
camina sin miedo contra el capital
imponen con fuerza el soñado ideal.
1936
El pueblo se alza como un vendaval
camina sin miedo contra el capital
Comunismo Libertario, Revolución Social.

Mientras el pueblo en el frente
se bate como un león
en la retaguardia los cobardes preparan la traición.

Burócratas y Estalinistas
caminan ya de al mano
forjando las cadenas
que pondrán a sus hermanos.

Entre Berlín y Moscú,
se fragua la tenaza
Franco ataca de frente,
Líster va por la espalda
a Nazis y Estalinistas,
la revolución espantaba
pues podía dar al pueblo,
todo lo que anhelaba.

1936
El pueblo se alza como un vendaval
camina sin miedo contra el capital
imponen con fuerza el soñado ideal.
1936
El pueblo se alza como un vendaval
camina sin miedo contra el capital
Comunismo Libertario, Revolución Social.


****************************************************************

The July sun blazes hot
despise red and black risk death
deciding to overcome, with fire and shrapnel
fascism sweeping of streets and squares.

They are not soldiers, not mercenaries
but men and women, are libertarians
do not fight for the republican Be
your heart a revolutionary.

There are no bosses, no rulers
workers organized life
collectivized cities, releasing the fields
They create the militias, in unions.

1936
The people rise like a hurricane
walking without fear against capital
forcefully imposing the ideal dream.
1936
The people rise like a hurricane
walks without fear against capital
Libertarian Communism, Social Revolution.

While the people at the front
are fighting like a lion
in the rear the cowardly plotted betrayal.

Bureaucrats and Stalinists
of the hand and walk
forging chains
to bring their brothers.

Between Berlin and Moscow,
is forged tongs
Franco attacks from the front
Lister is in the back
to Nazis and Stalinists,
frightened of revolution
since it could give the people,
everything it wanted.

1936
The people rise like a hurricane
walks without fear against capital
forcefully impose the ideal dream.
1936
The people rise like a hurricane
walks without fear against capital
Libertarian Communism, Social Revolution.


I remember hearing from older people the stinging sense of betrayal that was felt when Stalin "sold out" to Hitler in 1939. Many Communist party members quit in anger and disgust when the pact was announced. Later it occurred to many that Stalin and Hitler were very similar, and that it was only their followers that were betrayed.

I felt a sad mix of emotion in watching and listening to "1936".

On the one hand, these were "generation x'ers who knew and cared about the struggles of their grandparent's generation. On the other hand, it seems that each generation must learn from fresh betrayals. For me, it was the fall of Pnom Penh and the Cambodian genocide that started in 1975. I wonder what betrayals will awaken our generation. "1936" is fascinating music. But it does not make for sweet dreams.






video


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YyGizgIUNJk


Below are some links to previous unrelated articles in which I featured catalonian popular music.


http://www.magdeburgerjoe.com/2008/11/bob-dylan-in-catalan-musical-respite.html


http://www.magdeburgerjoe.com/2008/05/homage-to-catalonia.html

No comments: