Matt Stoller: The Great Turn Is Beginning

By Matt Stoller, a fellow at the Open Markets Institute and author of the forthcoming book Goliath: The 100-Year War Between Monopoly Power and Democracy

Yves Smith looks around corners before the rest of us get there. She was premature on the financial crisis in 2006, on mortgage-backed securities/Magnetar, on the foreclosure fraud crisis, on the Eurozone, on the failure of Syriza, on private equity, and on the “crapification” of American corporations.

She’s early, she’s right, and she’s clear. But in D.C., where I live and work, she’s anything but celebrated. In fact, as we’ve seen, people like Yves, and many of you, are attacked and demeaned for telling the truth.

In the case of Naked Capitalism, the problem is increasingly Google and Facebook undermining web traffic and killing advertising revenue. When society becomes a game of getting to the top by shooting the messenger, what happens is… the Boeing 737 Max.

By reading this, you are saying that you choose to spend your time and your mind on things that matter, as opposed to the nonsense and bullshit that exists in so much of our world. We have to support our own. And that means throwing some coin to Yves and her crew of merry truth-tellers: Lambert and Jerri-Lynn. Remember, guest contributors like Hubert Horan with his series on Uber’s financial snake oil come here because readers like you are here. You can donate here.

If you can’t afford anything, you can still help by spreading the word about Naked Capitalism by telling friends and family, circulating important stories, posting links on Facebook and other social media.

But if you can afford to give, please give, and if you can afford to give a a lot, give a lot. Naked Capitalism is an invaluable enterprise, though not a lucrative for Yves and the people who work with her. I can assure you Yves doesn’t bracingly fight the most powerful institutions in the world for the money. She does it because she can’t help but hate bullies in suits, and because she wants to serve you, her readers. You can make her job a little easier by donating via the Tip Jar, which tells you how to give by debit card, credit card, or check.

There’s an expression that many people during the anti-Communist witch-hunts used to describe people like her, which is a ‘premature anti-fascist.’ It comes from the relationship that people who opposed fascism in the 1930s had with the McCarthy period a little over a decade later.

You would think that who had fought against Nazis during the Spanish-American war in the late 1930s would be celebrated, right? Just a few years later, after all, over a hundred thousand Americans perished in a war against the genocidal Nazis, but if the West had listened to the anti-fascists of the late 1930s, it might have been possible to stop them earlier.

But no. That is not how power works. Those who were opposed fascism too early were later attacked and destroyed by Joseph McCarthy and J. Edgar Hoover years later because they stood for economic and political justice, and it was easy to pin the label ‘Communist’ on them. In reality the Red Scare had little to do with Communist penetration of American institutions, but was a veiled attack by the forces of order and privilege on those who sought to modify the status quo to make it a little more just.

Yves Smith would have been a premature anti-fascist. She’s discussing the core problems that *matter* today. Like private equity and surprise billing, how the Fed has been screwing up, and how the crapification of the corporation led to the Boeing airline fiasco. She’s been on CalPERS for years.

The world is beginning to turn in our direction. Big tech is under investigation, Americans increasingly see climate change as a crisis, and Trump has both forced Democrats to reckon with their own corruption as well as beginning to sink due to his own misbehavior. Soon we will have to start following the breadcrumb trail that Yves, and all of you in reading and commenting, have helped lay down. And that is heroic.

So give, and give big if you can. You can donate here, at the Tip Jar.

It’s been years, but we can’t stop now. We’re on the cusp of a great renewal, a great era when our quiet intellectual rebellion in this corner of the world spirals outward into a rebellion for justice.

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  1. WheresOurTeddy

    It is fitting that one of the of the best websites be advocated for by one of our best living journalists. I have literally forwarded or spoken it aloud to thousands of people since you tweeted it in August 2017 and have yet to have anyone fail to nod in agreement:

    “The political crisis we are facing is simple. American commerce, law, finance, and politics is organized around cheating people.”

    Thank you Yves, Lambert, Jerri-Lynn, Matthew, Michael Hudson, and many others for all that you do.

  2. Carla

    “Premature anti-fasicst” — I love it! Can’t wait to buy “Goliath” when it comes out: publication date October 15, 2019, for those who may be wondering…

        1. Clive

          You need to brush up on your history.

          Many nations put their thumbs into the Spanish Civil War pie — all too often saying one thing overtly while tacitly doing another.

          Briefly — there’s too much to cover fully here but as a starter — from Wikipedia

          The Spanish Civil War involved large numbers of non-Spanish citizens who participated in combat and advisory positions. Britain and France led a political alliance of 27 nations that promised non-intervention in the Spanish Civil War, including an embargo on all arms to Spain. The United States unofficially went along. Germany, Italy and the Soviet Union signed on officially, but ignored the embargo. The attempted suppression of imported material was largely ineffective, however, and France especially was accused of allowing large shipments to Republican troops.[135] The clandestine actions of the various European powers were, at the time, considered to be risking another world war, alarming antiwar elements across the world.[136]

          [emphasis mine] — The US hedged it’s bets promising non intervention but passive-aggressively intervening, certainly from an “informal militia” perspective.

          The New Yorker here has a longer form description of unauthorised (but not circumvented) US support which was done by anti fascism volunteers

          Now, I would definitely agree Stoller could have been clearer in how he labelled it, “American involvement in the Spanish Civil War of the 1930’s” maybe rather than “Spanish-American war of the 1930’s”. But he was correct in the principle point he was making and to be criticising it is just nitpicking Stoller’s phrasing.

          Stoller seems to have a very good grasp of all this early left wing activism history (now largely forgotten and shoved down the memory hole) and the influence it had on the interwar Democratic establishment when the Democratic Party was a group that actually meant something.

      1. LawyerCat

        I think you’re missing his narrow point; not that the Spanish Civil war didn’t involve fascists versus anti-fascists, but that it’s wrongly labelled in the article.

        The Spanish-American war was over Cuba, Puerto Rico, and the Phillipines and started around 1898.

        1. Clive

          See my longer form comment above — Stoller specifically mentioned the date of the events he referred to (the 1930’s) so it’s clear he was talking about the American involvement in the Spanish Civil War. He could have been clearer with how he worded it, but anyone who reads “Spanish War” and “1930’s” knows what he’s talking about.

          I get what you’re saying, but there’s a fine line between pointing out an unequivocal howler and pedantry where a writer is making a perfectly comprehensible point but just inadvertently omitted a key word.

          1. Reality Bites

            This is not about history. It’s merely an editing matter. Stoller mistakenly wrote Spanish-American War instead of Spanish Civil War. The Spanish-American War was in 1898.

            1. Wukchumni

              Looking For Trouble

              by Virginia Cowles is one of the finest chronicles of the conflict, highly recommended!

                1. Wukchumni

                  That’s the name of the book:

                  Looking For Trouble

                  As far as i’m concerned, the best of the tomes regarding the Spanish Civil War written during the era.

            2. Clive

              Yes, so the only comment that was necessary was something along the lines of “I think Stoller intended to write ‘American involvement in the Spanish War of the 1930s’ “ or similar.

              The commentariat snarking was not only uncalled for, but rendered the point which the commenter was presumably trying to make completely unintelligible. Stoller was entirely valid in referring to American anti fascism in the interwar period but by vaguely carping rather than politely pointing out a typo, the original comment (then deliberately misconstruing Yves’ reply) means we all just get led a merry dance.

              I simply do not understand what such commentators are trying to do. They are not successfully being amusing. They are not being helpful because they are not being clear in what they intended to say. There’s enough low-value rubbish on the internet, without adding to the seemingly endless supply.

          2. LawyerCat

            You’re right that his reference was perfectly understandable but it’s also particularly inaccurate given the lack of American or Western European involvement in the Spanish Civil War even in the face of Nazi support for the Francoists.

            The American volunteers were organized by the Soviets – which I would guess is why they were particularly vulnerable to being tarred during the Red Scare.

            1. Clive

              No. Dorothy Parker (contemporary liberal / borderline communist who I have read and researched extensively) would, if she were here, vehemently disagree. In her eyes and the eyes of her left wing sympathisers / anti fascists compatriots who went to fight, they were fighting on behalf of the US, even if they weren’t welding the Stars and Stripes flag over them.

              As a writer on the New Yorker magazine, Parker provided a huge amount of material and editorial input, so it is worth reviewing the New Yorker piece I linked to. Certainly for east coast liberals of the 1930’s, they were participating as US forces, their lobbying of the government (successful at the time, but they were hounded and persecuted for it later) to not do anything meaningful to stop them was their later justification and attempted defence in the face of the McCarthy pogroms.

              They certainly were not some kind of participants in a precursor to our current Russia!Russia! madness or any kind of reds under the bed Soviet-organised movement.

              The subsequent red scare was retrofitted later onto their actions (in fighting as anti fascists). If it hadn’t been that, it would have been something else that was leveraged by the McArthites.

              1. LawyerCat

                The BBC4 history podcast I listened to counter-pointed the direct Nazi support of the Francoists – transporting Franco’s troops from Africa to mainland Spain, test running Nazi war strategies like civilian bombings – to Western non-involvement. I also remember reading that Soviet purges within the foreign, Republican-supporting ranks was one of the big factors in losing the civil war.

                But I’ll admit to a fairly superficial knowledge of the conflict and I’ll follow your reading recommendation.

                1. Plenue

                  The Soviets ultimately took control of the Republican side, wanting to be in charge even if it meant the ultimate failure of the cause. But that’s a far cry from the idea that they organized it in the first place. Why would they need to take control of something if they already controlled it?

                  One of the weaknesses of the Republican cause was that it was too fractious, containing everything from Anarchists to Stalinists, all of them constantly clashing. Meanwhile Franco’s side was much more united.

              2. JTMcPhee

                Let’s not forget that “America” is a big complex empire, and that a lot of wealthy and “inflential” Americans and their corporations were providing all kinds of aid, comfort and support to the fascists all through the inter-war period, and “trading with the enemy” even during the war years. And lots of British toffs were all-in for the fascists too. Will the sun EVER set on the British Empire?

                All about keeping the mopes under the thumb of the Owner Class, of course — none of these evil socialist elements could be allowed to exist, let alone take part in the political economy…

            2. Punxsutawney

              George Orwell fought in the Spanish Civil War. And as one might guess, not on the side of the fascists. He wrote a book about it: Homage to Catalonia.

              1. chuck roast

                Of interest to me was that Orwell fought with the POUM, the left-Marxists. In Homage he details how the Stalinists spent more time and energy fighting against POUM then they did fighting the fascists. One of the few places this is documented.

            3. Lambert Strether

              > The American volunteers were organized by the Soviets

              Some detail from the New Yorker (assuming it to be trustworthy:

              The world woke up to the Fascists’ support a couple of weeks later, after two Italian planes crash-landed in French North Africa. Fellow-democracies did not rush to the Republic’s side, however. France’s Prime Minister wanted to, but Britain still hoped to dodge a fight with Hitler, and was alarmed by the Republican government’s support of militant labor unions, given that British companies had extensive mining interests in the country. The British Foreign Secretary urged France to be prudent. In America, Congress, disconcerted by the spectacle of armed labor leaders taking up politics, outlawed sales of military equipment to either side. It has long been known that Torkild Rieber, the chief executive of Texaco, violated this embargo by selling oil to the Nationalists on credit, but Hochschild relays a startling discovery by the Spanish historian Guillem Martínez Molinos: Rieber also directed Texaco employees around the world to monitor oil being shipped to the Republic by rival companies. Texaco sent the Nationalists more than fifty messages about these shipments, many containing intelligence that could be used for targeting them.

              Only two of the Republic’s allies came through. Mexico sent twenty thousand rifles as a gift. The Soviet Union, more cannily, traded arms, planes, and tanks for Spain’s sizable gold reserves, the transfer of which crashed the value of the peseta. When the Soviets directed Comintern to appeal for volunteers around the world to fight in Spain, more than thirty thousand signed up, from more than fifty countries. The catch was that Stalin didn’t actually like Spain’s revolution, which he feared could spook Britain and France into siding with Hitler in a future conflict between Germany and the Soviet Union. “Act in the guise of defending the Republic,” a Comintern leader told the Party’s followers.

              This non-controversy reminds me of the demonstrations against the Iraq war, initiated by ANSWER, with ties to various left fractions, including the Workers World Party, which occasioned some carping. But they had the stones to be at the right place at the right time and did the right thing. As did the volunteers of the Abraham Lincoln brigade, as did the Community Party of the United States in defending the Scottsboro Boys. I hope it doesn’t make me a tankie to at least acknowledge the nobility of the individual acts, regardless of the institutional setting. Who else was fighting Franco’s fascists, or Jim Crow, or (for that matter) the Iraq War?

              * * *

              If readers want better copy editing, then that is an additional reason to donate; we are constantly time-pressed. The Tip Jar is to your left.

    1. Ignacio

      That was a typo, the Spanish-American wars were short, a few weeks by 1898, but by the context one can easily notice he is talking about the Spanish Civil war that started in 1936. Before the conflict started, the US was worried about communism/revolution arising in the late 2nd Republic of Spain. Despite the US being neutral Texaco sold oil to the fascists during the civil war. To be sure, oil was not warfare and the US could keep “neutral”. Anyway, the US or Roosvelt slowly changed their stance as the war evolved seeing German Nazis as a bigger menace. Roosevelt feared a fascist revolt in Mexico, with german support, after Cárdenas nationalized oil resources. That would mean a beligerant fascist regime in the vicinity. Anyway the US maintained neutrality up to the very end of the civil war although they were starting to support the republicans against fascists at the very end. I believe that Roosevelt realised later it had been a mistake not to intervene more decisively against fascists. Regarding the Batallón Abraham Lincoln, the US antifascist unit that fought against Franco from the very begining they were originally from US’s labour unions and communists groups without institutional support, I believe.

      1. Ignacio

        More on the childs sent to Russia (a few thousands): One of them was a spanish woman from the vasque country that married later with a russian man and bred a son that became a famous basketball player in the URSS. José Alexandrovich Biriukov Aguirregabiria, “Chechu” Biriukov. In 1983 he signed up for Real Madrid basket team where he became one of the most important players. This was by the time Drazen Petrovic was playing masterfully. Chechu stayed in Spain when he retired, He now owns a restaurant not far from where I live.

      2. epynonymous

        Just stopped in my local library, and perused the ‘memorial hall’ and found some minor notes of historical interest (two plaques commissioned circa 1898) and interestingly they connote the ‘Spanish-American War’ as “The Spanish War” (in all caps, since it’s an engraving.)

        A dozen names of local casualties to that “adventure” are recorded.

        “The Civil War” was actually still referred to in the late 1800’s as “the war of the rebellion” here in the north.

        Honestly, I skimmed right over the reference in my early-morning reading, but it’s good to take a closer look every now and then.

        Fun fact, the media wasn’t any better back in the 1800’s than it is today. Newspapers sold the war like tickets to a religious revival, and threatened the existence of “The Ghost Fleet” — an unlocated Spanish Naval force whose very ambiguity meant that it could be off the coast of any city, especially yours, and deal a crippling and deadly blow to America at any time.

        Ultimately, it was quickly located and defeated with minimal casualties. Indeed, much like “The Gulf War”, whose name has also been changed many times in the past few decades, American casualties were very light. It is said that the only death in our naval invasion of the Philippines was a coal stoker who worked too hard and died to heat exhaustion.

        How quick we are to jump when told of the exploitation of those poor souls in Cuba, or Venezuela, or wherever we are told to look today by our money’d and professional classes.

        As a ‘Civil Cold War’ takes hold of our minds, time, and passions today… I shudder at how it will be recorded and remembered tomorrow. Like how today the “Trading with the Enemies Act” that the early Bush/Prescott families were involved in, or how we write in junior high school history textbooks about the XYZ affairs and the Zimmerman telegram (both threatening us with interference from the French/Brits/Germans in Mexico.) without *really* giving it the needed context.

        For more on WWII, see our curious involvement with “The Flying Tigers.” My take, give intelligence back to the Navy and keep politics out of it.

        1. Wukchumni

          All of our gotten gains in the Spanish-American War were of really no use in the scheme of things. We got rid of the Philippines asap after WW2, Cuba nearly caused the world to blow itself up in the 1960’s and Puerto Rico is a financial basketcase. Guam might’ve been the bright spot in the acquisition game, and that’s not saying much.

          1. Joe Well

            Who’s “we”? I’m sure there were wealthy Americans in the 1890s-1900s who made out like bandits asset-stripping those countries and supplying the US military. And that’s all that mattered.

            1. epynonymous

              “War is a Racket.” General Smedley Butler – 1935

              “Back in 1904, when Russia and Japan fought, we kicked out our old friends the Russians and backed Japan. Then our very generous international bankers were financing Japan. Now the trend is to poison us against the Japanese. What does the “open door” policy to China mean to us? Our trade with China is about $90,000,000 a year. Or the Philippine Islands? We have spent about $600,000,000 in the Philippines in thirty-five years and we (our bankers and industrialists and speculators) have private investments there of less than $200,000,000.

              Then, to save that China trade of about $90,000,000, or to protect these private investments of less than $200,000,000 in the Philippines, we would be all stirred up to hate Japan and go to war — a war that might well cost us tens of billions of dollars, hundreds of thousands of lives of Americans, and many more hundreds of thousands of physically maimed and mentally unbalanced men.”

              The Empire goes broke trying to rule the whole world, but ‘the few’ profit.

              Happened to the Spanish, then the Brits and now look at US. ;)

              Butler ‘got it.’

              “At the end of the World War period, as a direct result of our fiddling in international affairs, our national debt had jumped to over $25,000,000,000. Our total favorable trade balance during the twenty-five-year period was about $24,000,000,000. Therefore, on a purely bookkeeping basis, we ran a little behind year for year, and that foreign trade might well have been ours without the wars.”

              Of course, Butler had a part to play after this, as the House Unamerican Activites Board revealed, he testified to “The Bankers Plot”, but that’s another story.


  3. Tommy S.

    spanish revolutionary or spanish civil war. Franco, with Mussolini and Hitler helping. Against the CNT (anarchist) and POUM mostly…No aid from western democracies….only people went to help….I believe FDR admin used the premature label very much. Many americans that came back weren’t allowed to then fight in WW2….some were….but all were hounded by all for decades. Truman was at the forefront of red baiting before McCarthy even.

  4. inode_buddha

    Have been spreading the word, can’t do much else due to a medical bankruptcy. Ever notice how that doesn’t happen in other countries?

    1. ambrit

      Yes. I have noticed. Now, it may be an artifact of a truncated information stack, but I do wonder which came first; the more free wheeling politico-philosophical argumentation or the less stressful life for the “masses” of a nation state?
      If the Jackpot phenomenon does indeed come to pass, if I’m able to, I’ll make it a task for me to drag some “upper classes” types down with the rest of us.
      That would be a useful long term result of the Spanish Civil War. Fight Fascism where ever it crops up.

  5. David

    The Spanish Civil War (the one in Spain) is a good example of how things looked different at the time to how they do now, and so peoples’ behaviour looks different as well.
    The war was fought for domestic reasons, dating ultimately from the 1931 elections which brough the Republicans to power. Lots of other states got involved, but for very different reasons. The Germans saw it largely as a sideshow and a training opportunity, the Italians sought national grandeur and a way of preventing a left)wing government from becoming established not far away from their borders. The French wanted to send military assistance, but the British were against it, and the French didn’t want to act alone.
    The British, like parts of the French system, as well as the US government, were worried that the Spanish conflict might spread, and become a general European war, with all the destruction and millions of dead that that would bring. The British in particular pushed hard against any outside intervention, but couldn’t stop the Germans and Italians.
    The other nation that was massively involved, of course, was the Soviet Union, and it was Soviet weapons and advisers that kept the Republic going as along as it did. In turn, the Soviet Union came to dominate the Republican government more and more, purging and killing other leftist groups. Stalin doesn’t seem to have cared whether the Republicans won, he just wanted to make sure that a left-wing government not under his control was prevented from coming to power. If the Republicans with Soviet backing had won, then it’s probably fair to say that Spain would not have become a western democracy, but a Soviet client state, a bit like Cuba. (Of course it’s quite fair to argue that if the West had supported the Republic in the first place than the Soviets would never have been so influential).
    So the idea of the war as an anti-communist crusade, though wildly exaggerated, isn’t entirely wrong. Likewise, whilst the formulation of “premature anti-fascist” has always struck me as silly, it does reflect the fact that it was hard, in these circumstances, to support the Republic without being at least sympathetic to the communist cause. (George Orwell tried and we know what happened to him).
    The other element that shocked a lot of people was the attacks on the Church. There was a strong anti-clerical trend in the Republican forces, and at least thousands (we’ll never really know) of priests and nuns were murdered. The poet Roy Fuller recounted that, originally undecided in his sympathies, he turned definitively against the Republicans when he saw priests being massacred in the public square.For quite a lot of people, not necessarily Catholics, the violent anticlericalism of some of the Republicans was unacceptable. (The Catholic Church in Ireland, if I remember correctly excommunicated Irish volunteers for this reason)
    Nothing in history is ever simple. It’s fair to say that I’ve always regarded the Republicans as the “good” (or maybe “better”) guys, but there were reasons, if not very good ones, why others at the time took a different view.
    I personally doubt that western intervention would have changed very much. Hitler regarded Spain as a peripheral issue, and certainly wouldn’t have wanted to start a war over it: that was planned anyway, for about 1941/42. But it’s inconceivable that either side would have allowed things to degenerate into a shooting war in Spain, so the question is probably academic anyway..

    1. Tommy S.

      Agree David on your main thrust, especially what you said about Stalin. The movie Land and Freedom by Loach is a classic and very truthful portrayal of the marxist and anarchist militias resisting stalinist destruction of the revolution. And it was a real libertarian revolution in half the country. And would have been successful against Franco, if he didn’t have aid, and Spain was allowed to buy weapons with the tons of gold they had in central bank (which I believe Stalin took away when he entered later). Guerin’s books are the most indepth….I also recommend Emma Goldman’s Vision on Fire, as it’s editor does a great run down before each of her letters. The Spanish Holocaust is a more recent valuable book, that does actually go through how many priests, nuns and etc were killed. It happened only in the beginning due to rage from Spanish peasants. The Spanish catholic church were complete fascists, and even in the 20’s called for the extermination of ‘socialist’ peasants there, no kidding. Priests also later helped identify collective farm workers in areas Franco won, and even helped with the slaughter of them. The whole rise of the left in spain from the 1890’s to the horrible defeat by 1939, is really fascinating, and inspiring…..Anyway TIME TO DONATE!!!! thanks matt!!!!

    2. chuck roast

      David, you will wanna’ put a comma after “correctly”. As a recovering catholic, upon first reading I got the wrong impression.

  6. Maxwell Johnston

    Orwell’s “Homage to Catalonia” is excellent, as is Hugh Thomas’ “The Spanish Civil War”. What a bloody mess, made worse by foreigners fueling the fire. Franco’s side was pretty awful, but the “Republicans” were no great shakes either. And yes, the attacks on the catholic church were shocking and cost the “Republicans” a lot of potential support.

    1. ambrit

      As is mentioned above, the Spanish Catholic church was an actual enemy of the Republican movement. the bloodletting was mutual.

      1. Late Introvert

        It is a shame that the Republicans (I love using that word in a positive sense for once) saw fit to retaliate against the Priests and Nuns, who they hated so much and for such justifiable reasons. Courts and trials would have been the way to go but that wasn’t too likely under the circumstances.

        Only on NC, the very best site on/of the internet (deep dives, links, comments) would I find a charitable and reasoned discussion of a very tricky subject that has continued to fascinate and beguile. So much opportunity there and it all went so badly. Lessons to be learned and enemies to assess I think.

    2. Ignacio

      Hugh Thomas’s was the most decent book one could find on the civil war for many years. Fortunately spanish historians have been able to produce good books more recently.

      My mother was nearly 11 years old by the end of the civil war, At that time, by the end of 1938, she and an aunt of her were picked by the communists and sent from Madrid to Valencia where they embarked, not voluntarily, in a ship towards Russia. The ship made a stop in Marseille where an uncle of her, a spanish diplomat in France was able to disembark both.

      She is furiously anticommunist.

    3. Drake

      “Homage to Catalonia” is great, but I haven’t read anything by Orwell that isn’t. For fiction, I really loved Hemingway’s For Whom The Bell Tolls the one time I read it. I’m scared to read it a second time due to all the books I’ve reread recently that haven’t aged so well in my eyes. Also rewatched Pan’s Labyrinth recently, that did survive a second viewing quite nicely.

      1. Late Introvert

        I think if you have your shields up it’s still a good read. This from one who long ignored Hemingway and has recently read that and A Farewell to Arms. It’s not as if ol’ Ernest didn’t have an effect on the culture, it’s good to know what he stood for. Papa whatever.

        I even watched the H’wood movie. That one you should avoid. But the documentary is worth a look. I think I got hipped to it here at NC maybe.

        1. Drake

          I actually saw that the movie was on a few days ago, but was pretty sure I didn’t want to watch it. Just seeing that it featured Gary Cooper and, of all people to play a Spaniard, Ingrid Bergman, was enough to put me off of it. Whatever you think of his writing, Hemingway was not well-served in the movie adaptation department.

  7. Wukchumni

    In the amazing book of oral history of the Great Depression in Canada by Barry Broadfoot:Ten Lost Years, Canadians that volunteered to fight fascism in Spain were also subject to the same ‘premature anti-fascist’ tar & feathering, and most were not allowed to enlist in the armed forces in WW2.

  8. PeakBS

    Naked Capitalism is the GO TO site for anyone with a working brain who wants to live in a fair society.

    Hadn’t heard of Matt before NC – who I find is a wonderful positive addition to my day as well.

    Wait until Yves & team and this commentariat really start digging into one of poster children of what’s wrong with ZIRP, regularity capture, SiliCON Valley, sketchy accounting, incestuous “mergers”, beta testing on public roads that kills people, and more.

    Tesla & Elon Musk.

    Keep up the great work NC!

  9. Susan the other`

    The Spanish Civil War was like a test run. It didn’t dawn on the great powers, but they were actually fighting the last war – or prelude to the last war. Which did take the better part of the 20th Century. To frame it as a “100 year war between monopoly power and democracy” is exactly what it was. Noam Chomsky used to call the politics we were living with “statism” – having nothing to do with democracy. The USSR, China, Europe, the US; the free market; the arms race. So if it is true that the mandate for monopoly power is “turning” there must be something very big it is trying to avoid. Like mass extinction. That’s why I’m doubling my donation to NC.

    1. Late Introvert

      I’m giving more as well Susan. Not because I had a better year, I did not, but because I feel compelled. It’s only fair given the daily (onslaught) of deep dives, the best collection of news links going, and the kind of reasoned and seasoned commentary that exists nowhere else. Thanks to all.

  10. Michael Fiorillo

    The term PAF (Premature Anti-Fascist) was used in the military to keep radicals (mostly members of the CPUSA) out of critical or combat roles during WWII, and was used during the Red Scare as a smear term.

    While it’s true that anarchists and Trotskyists fought in the Lincoln Battalion in Spain it’s also an indisputable fact that the majority of those who fought were CP members or sympathizers, and the term PAF was used as shorthand for “Commie/Soviet Sympathizer”

    1. Late Introvert

      Thanks. I was getting ready to look it up. But now you piqued my curiosity about WWII soldiers who were CPUSA! History never gets old. The more you dig the more you find.

  11. xkeyscored

    Much as I admire Yves and Naked Capitalism (it’s fast becoming my go-to website), I found this bit arrogant in its assumption of US superiority. Manifest destiny rebranded – sorry about the past, but you can trust us/US to make it all better?
    “We’re on the cusp of a great renewal, a great era when our quiet intellectual rebellion in this corner of the world spirals outward into a rebellion for justice.”
    Sounds like the USA is to be the source and centre of a worldwide pivot to justice and renewal.
    Or could it be that a worldwide rebellion for justice spirals inward to the dying centre of the Empire?
    (On the other hand, I’m reminded of Leonard Cohen’s Democracy is Coming:
    “It’s coming to America first
    The cradle of the best and of the worst
    It’s here they got the range
    And the machinery for change
    And it’s here they got the spiritual thirst
    It’s here the family’s broken
    And it’s here the lonely say
    That the heart has got to open
    In a fundamental way
    Democracy is coming to the USA”

    1. flora

      The US is in some sense two different entities: the national democratic populace and the world bestriding empire. They are not the same, imo.

      Paul Kennedy’s “The Rise and Fall of the Great Powers” is relevant here, I think.

      1. Late Introvert


        I would also add most (not all) of PK Dick’s rather messy and sexist but charming and prescient works.

  12. Joe Well

    I have never in my life seen comments on a blog post or article diverge so much from the original post, all due to a typo.

    But a very well informed and informative off-topic discussion, a testament to the moderation here :)

    You have my donation, Yves! I wish I could donate more.

    1. xkeyscored

      – never in my life seen comments on a blog post or article diverge so much from the original
      You’re obviously not very well read! I could recommend many a blog where the both the post and the comments diverge from themselves at each and every word, like some kind of mind-boggling fractal or Feynmann path integral, if you’re interested.

  13. Anonymous Coward

    Highly recommend John Gerassi’s oral history book Premature Anti-Fascists
    … over 5,000 North Americans fought in the Spanish Civil War.

    While it’s true that anarchists and Trotskyists fought in the Lincoln Battalion in Spain it’s also an indisputable fact that the majority of those who fought were CP members or sympathizers, and the term PAF was used as shorthand for “Commie/Soviet Sympathizer”

    Although this may be technically true, it lacks any form of nuance. These were battle-hardened veterans by the time the U.S. entered WWII and their value as members of the military would have been indisputable, yet they were blacklisted simply for taking up arms in Spain during their civil war.

    Most volunteers came from immigrant working-class families, some came from middle-class Jewish households, but few were “red diaper” babies raised on a steady diet of Marxism-Leninism. Instead, they had learned about class conflict on the picket or unemployment lines of the 1930s, and most joined the Communist party because it seemed to hold out hope for a better future. As one Lincoln veteran put it, “that, basically, was why I went to Spain: the depression, the dead end of my career …, and my genuine concern for the little people … who were always on the short end of the struggle for rights and survival.”

  14. flora

    OK, who the heck gave Stoller a direct link to my thinking?

    That is not how power works. Those who were opposed fascism too early were later attacked and destroyed by Joseph McCarthy and J. Edgar Hoover years later because they stood for economic and political justice,…
    Yves Smith would have been a premature anti-fascist. She’s discussing the core problems that *matter* today.”

    This is the only site I know of that is challenging the wrong-headed bubble-centric official narratives about finance, both national and global.

    I’ve seriously, seriously disagreed with NC on some matters in the past; butted heads behind the scenes. Doesn’t matter. This is one of the very few sites that publishes clear-eyed information about what is happening in the financial and political world today. Un-bought and un-bowed. (and unaffected by my emails. :) )

    The check is in the mail.

  15. Jack Parsons

    For those of you nattering about the Spanish Civil War, the modern equivalent is Syria: a proxy war among the great powers to test gear, advance regional objectives, etc.

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