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Remembering José Antonio Primo de Rivera:
April 24, 1903–November 20, 1936

509 words

José Antonio Primo de Rivera y Sáenz de Heredia, the First Duke of Primo de Rivera, the Third Marquis of Estella, GdE was born on this day in 1903. His father was the dictator of Spain, appointed by King Alfonso XIII, from 1923 until 1930. Primo de Rivera was originally a lawyer, but in October 1933 he founded the fascist Spanish Falange movement. The Falange was monarchist, Catholic, anti-democratic, anti-capitalist, anti-Communist, and national syndicalist in orientation, and its members were known to be very serious, selfless, and dedicated, earning the praise of Julius Evola, among many others. They also accused the Spanish Republican government of being the handmaiden of Jews and Freemasons and carried out actions against Jewish-owned shops.

Originally very small, by the time of the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War in July 1936, the Falange had passed forty thousand members and was still growing. Primo de Rivera called for armed rebellion against the liberal Republican government of Spain and was arrested and charged with the illegal possession of firearms on March 14, 1936. On November 18 he was sentenced to death, and two days later he was executed by firing squad. The Falange went on to support General Francisco Franco’s Nationalists in their rebellion, and in 1937 elements of the Falange were absorbed into a new coalition under Franco’s leadership.

After his victory in the Civil War in 1939, Franco relied on the Falange to provide the ideological foundations of the regime that was to govern Spain for the next thirty-eight years, but under Franco it quickly devolved into merely a reactionary party, and most of the genuinely innovative and revolutionary aspects of Primo de Rivera’s program were unfortunately allowed to fall by the wayside. Had his vision been embraced, it seems likely that the course of Spanish history in the twentieth century would have been very different and that Spain might have become an example of a type of fascism that would have fared better than its equivalents in other countries by remaining true to its original vision, and transcending the usual Left/Right and secular/religious divides that have continued to dominate modern politics up to the present. Unfortunately we will never know, but Primo de Rivera himself nevertheless remains as a symbol of a dedicated idealist and a martyr for his cause.

In commemoration of Primo de Rivera’s birth, we wish to draw your attention to the following pieces on this Website which discuss his importance:

Primo de Rivera is also mentioned in passing in the following essays:




  1. notABriton
    Posted April 24, 2017 at 4:52 pm | Permalink

    I would like to make some remarks to your article, notwithstanding a perfect respect for it:
    1) In the times of the Spanish Civil War, the number of jews in Spain was marginal. The majority of them came from Northern Africa, from the territories that Spain took from Morocco. The jews were usually allied of the Spanish forces, and, esentially, conservative. The only jews who could have ever fighted Primo de Rivera were the centroeuropeans ones, essentially marxists. The moroccan jews were, in a certain way, more Spaniards than the same Spaniards. The Falange was anti marxist, but not against the jews, unless they were of the type of jews who were fighting against the “old Europe”. I don´t know about any actions of the Falange against the jews, except on the first years of the European World War, when it seemed that the Germans were to conquer all of Europe. But in those years, even the British press had a certain degree of anti jewishness, for the sake of what the future could be.
    2)Prior to 1936, the Falange was a marginal party. Of course, notwithstanding that, they were the ones who were on the barricades against the marxist agitation and, therefore, the marxist killings of Catholics, conservatives, little owners of property, and so on. But, in essence, the conservative Spaniards didn´t react to the killing of their own people until the army forced them to do. So, when the army won the war, Franco had to make many equilibriums. A little bit to the Falange, a little bit to the Carlistas, a little bit to the Monarquists, and so on. The Falange just ended becoming the place were everybody, even it he prior to the war was anti-conservative, could apply for membership in order to clean his past. The fact that Franco showed some degree of disrespectfulness to the Falange may have a reason, the new Falange, wich soared when the conservatives started winning the war, was full of oportunists. The old Falange, the “Camisas Viejas”, just shed their blood in the front, so, there weren´t too much of them, at the end of the war, to be a real opposition to the Francoist regime, or, put it in the other way, to be real loyalists for a new Spain.
    3)Summing up, the figure of Jose Antonio Primo de Rivera fades in comparison to that of his father. During the seven years of the dictatorship of his father, Spain took advantage, in a way of a technocracy, of the assets which were available after many years of a weak monarchy but a one who laid the foundations for the actual degree of development of Spain. Of, course, whe are not Swedden (thanks god), but in the last two hundred years after the invasion of Spain by the forces of Napoleon, only between the years of 1923 and 1930 had Spain such an upsurge, looking for the development of the country and of its people. May be, that is the reason why Primo de Rivera was, in the end, a failure. He hanged the crimminals, be them from the wealthy families or from the poor ones. Too much for the liberals, who knew more about the brothels in Paris and London that about the real problems in Spain.
    4)The Falange could have been a succesful movement probably in the Middle Ages. But in the 30`s, they were doomed to fail, in comparison to other revolutionary movements wich offered sensuality, pillage and revenge, in opposition to self-sacrifice. That, the leader of the Falange, he never understood. He died fora medieval idealism, in a time when people rejected Abelard and Eloise and preferred Freud and Gustav Klimt, or whoever.

    • Posted April 24, 2017 at 6:54 pm | Permalink

      Thanks for your very interesting comments. In response:

      1. You may be right that the number of Jews in 1930s Spain was marginal, but I have read in several sources that in 1935, Primo de Rivera ordered his men to attack department stores in Spain that were Jewish-owned (perhaps by Jews from abroad, I’m not sure), and that he accused the Republicans of being influenced by Jews. So perhaps Jews were not actively fighting against the Falange but Primo de Rivera did consider them to be among their enemies.

      2. I did note that the Falange was small until 1936.

      3. I confess to being no expert on the subject of Spanish history, so I’ll take your word for it that Miguel Primo de Rivera was more important, although I guess this isn’t that surprising given that he actually led the country for seven years while his son was only the leader of a marginal party.

      4. I think you’re probably right. The Falange seems to have been quite similar to Codreanu’s Iron Guard in this respect, in that self-sacrifice and religion were valued over the more modern elements that the fascist movements in the big countries were concerned with. Also, both parties had leaders who met tragic ends at the hands of the state, and neither ever really achieved actual political power, in spite of enjoying a great deal of influence and popularity. But given that, like Primo de Rivera himself, I have a bit of a romantic streak, in my mind a Spain under his rule would have been more glorious than Franco’s, although of course it’s all conjecture.

      • Proofreader
        Posted April 27, 2017 at 8:55 am | Permalink

        “The Falange seems to have been quite similar to Codreanu’s Iron Guard in this respect, in that self-sacrifice and religion were valued over the more modern elements that the fascist movements in the big countries were concerned with. Also, both parties had leaders who met tragic ends at the hands of the state, and neither ever really achieved actual political power, in spite of enjoying a great deal of influence and popularity.”

        Interestingly, Horia Sima wrote a book (Dos movimientos nacionales, José Antonio Primo de Rivera y Corneliu Zelea Codreanu) that compared the lives and movements of José Antonio Primo de Rivera and Corneliu Zelea Codreanu, and noted the parallels between them.

  2. Old Bullion
    Posted April 24, 2017 at 10:32 pm | Permalink

    May I recommend the great book The Last Crusade by Warren Carroll.

  3. R_Moreland
    Posted April 27, 2017 at 1:38 am | Permalink

    Once again, I must remark on how incredible it is that a mere century ago Europe produced many men such as Primo de Rivera. And that if but a fraction of such men were today extant and active, how easy it would be to liberate the continent.

    What gets me about today’s political class is not just the hostility of too many elites, but their sheer utter mediocrity. It’s as if there has been a war on the Great Man.

  4. Roberto
    Posted September 11, 2020 at 12:57 am | Permalink

    I’m afraid you got many things wrong. Falange was a workers humanist movement which made no distinction between races, ideologies, origins… I’m a Jewish myself with a 10 year militancy period of my life in Falange, and they were not monarchists at all. You won’t ever find a text from Jose Antonio saying they were fascists. Falange died in Salamanca in 1937 without a chance to tell the world their message of love and brotherhood, and all of our efforts never got to restore the original spirit after that. All the best from Spain.

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