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The Fascism We Lived With

[1]

Francisco Franco

3,530 words

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The most clear-cut war between the political Right and the political Left took place in Spain in a horrible spasm of violence which lasted from July 17, 1936 to April 1, 1939.

The Spanish Civil War was a testing ground for new military equipment and tactics which still have a modern ring. This includes tank warfare, close air support, strategic bombing, strategic airlift, long-range precision fires (i.e. the 88mm Flak Gun), and information warfare.

The Spanish Civil War has all sorts of implications for our own metapolitical struggle, but even more importantly there are plenty of false analogies and the Spanish Right carried out its struggles in vastly different circumstances from the North American New Right.

A number of famous people spent time in Spain during the war, including Errol Flynn, George Orwell, and Ernest Hemmingway. Orwell and Hemmingway both wrote outstanding books based on their experiences in Spain. The leader of the rightest faction, Francisco Franco, ended the conflict as the most powerful man in Spain, where he ruled until his death in 1975.

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“Loyalist Militiaman at the Moment of Death, Cerro Muriano, September 5, 1936,” by Robert Capa. While the photo could be staged, it is without a doubt that this image captured the pathos of the Spanish Civil War during the conflict.

The Long Fuse to War

Although there were non-Spaniards involved and there was plenty of Rightist propaganda about a Judeo-Bolshevik-Masonic conspiracy seeking to destroy Spain, the Spanish Civil War grew out of the long-standing cultural and political tensions entirely internal to Spain and Spanish culture. The war was thus more like the US Civil War than the Iraq War of 2003–2011 or the push for American involvement in World Wars I & II. The settings on the fuse for war were the following:

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The Languages of Spain. From left to right: Galician, Asturian and Leonese, Castilian (Spanish), Basque, Aragonese, Occitan (in red), and Catalonian.

I wish to dissuade those on North American right who might be tempted to imitate the Right of Spain in the early 20th century. The Right wing in Spain had no religious reformation or “Great Awakening.” In Spain the Catholic Church really had one foot in the medieval tradition. The Spanish Leftist critique of the Spanish Right was not without considerable merit.

As with the rest of Europe, World War I changed everything in Spain. Since it is common wisdom that Spain is where small armies are defeated and large armies starve, Spain easily maintained her neutrality and traded with all sides. The result was economic expansion, a baby boom, and Catalonia surpassed the rest of Spain in industrialization. When the economically depressed 1930s dawned, Spain had a large population of military age youths, an unstable, polarized political culture where coups and violence were the norm, and vast ethnic tensions. Spain became a Republic in 1931 after Alfonso XIII abdicated.

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Symbols of the Spanish Republic.

Republics work well unless the political culture is so polarized that one domestic political faction cannot bear losing to a different domestic faction. In early 1936, a coalition of Leftist groups in the Popular Front won the election. Many of these Leftists were out-and-out Communists at a time when the Bolshevik menace was well understood. There were threats of “land reform” at the same time Spanish agricultural prices were down due to the Great Depression. The infantilism of the Left was everywhere in 1936. The only thing missing was transsexual story-hour for children.

The key factions of the Spanish Civil War consisted of the following:

The most important political Rightists:

The most important political Leftists:

Also on the Leftist side, but not necessarily Leftists in the strictest sense, were Basque nationalists and Catalonian nationalists.

Shortly after the election of the Popular Front, political violence commonly spilled into the streets of Madrid. The fuse met the explosive on July 12, 1936. That day Falangist gunmen killed Lieutenant José Castillo of the Leftist Assault Guards in Madrid.

In response, a Leftist Madrid Police Captain named Fernando Condés arrested and had murdered a Rightist elected official named José Calvo Sotelo. Although Sotelo was murdered by rogue police carrying out an illegal arrest, the Leftist government of the Spanish Republic was blamed.

The Spanish Right went into an uproar. Meanwhile, from the end of the French occupation until 1936, the Spanish Army, however inefficient, had become the Deep State. Since the end of the French Occupation, the Spanish Army had a history of taking over in lighting coups and providing conservative stability and national unity in a pinch. The Spanish Army’s best troops were in North Africa, they consisted of the Spanish Foreign Legion and Moroccan colonial units. They’d been used by Francisco Franco to suppress a 1934 rising in Asturias.

Three days after the murder of José Calvo Sotelo, this army was airlifted from Spanish Morocco to Spain and they headed towards Madrid. The army expected to carry out a rapid coup and restore order, but the Leftist philosophy had seized the minds of many talented Spaniards. Much of the Spanish Army garrisoned in Spain stayed loyal to the Leftist Republican government. Most of the Spanish Navy’s sailors also remained loyal to the Republic. The rebel army (who came to be called Spanish Nationalists) were stopped by Republican militias at Madrid. The Deep State coup had failed. A bloody civil war followed.

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The frontlines of Spain during the Civil War. Nationalist areas are in grey.

The Spanish Civil War was a war between whites who were passionately attached to their particular causes. The stories of individual actions, last stands, epic charges, and bold action by both sides during the Spanish Civil War are as colorful as any told by Homer. The military action of this war is less important than the metapolitics. Suffice to say, both parties brought in foreigners to fight. It was Franco, however, who dealt the foreign forces card from the bottom of the deck. His non-white Moroccan troops were as horrible to Spanish civilians as French Moroccan troops were to the people of Italy a decade later. The most militarily advanced force was the German Kondor Legion. Writing in the Field Artillery Bulletin in 2001, Major Prisco Hernadez called the Kondor Legion a “firepower package” and such a package can be an “option when use of force is deemed necessary but national interests are not immediately threatened.”[3] [8]

Although they held on month after month with their valiant militias, the Spanish Left was never able to get it together. Anarchists fought the Communists, and the Communists fought the Trotskyists. When the Republican government relocated to Barcelona they irked the Catalonian nationalists.

Meanwhile the Right formed a cohesive government. “The stakes were very high” writes Warren Carroll, “Military coups have been frequent in the history of Hispanic countries, and sometimes their governments last for many years, but none endure for very long, historically speaking. Military men can rescue a country and rule it through a time of crisis; a particularly gifted general like Franco my rule for a lifetime; but in the end the soldiers will return to their barracks, and civilians must be found to govern. Without clear new principles to guide it, civilian government would reflect at best the personal interests of its leaders, at worst a renewal of revolution.”[4] [9]

Francisco Franco came out on top. As Abraham Lincoln positioned himself at the center of the Republican Party during the polarized 1860 election, Franco positioned himself in the center of the Right-wing forces in Spain. He spoke about Carlist points as much as Falangist ideas.

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Francisco Franco. In this portrait, the red beret represents the Carlists, the blue shirt represents The Falange, and the flag represents the conservative parts of the Spanish Right.

Franco’s Rightists won the war. They were able to deny the Republic support from Great Britain and the United States while getting some support from American corporations like the Texas Oil Company and Standard Oil. They carried out a cold-blooded repression of Leftists in their zones of control while capitalizing on the atrocities, in particular the anti-Catholic repressions, of the Leftists in the information war. The Falange turned out to be a key asset, in that former Leftists were able to join that movement rather than be backed into a corner and forced to fight to the death.

Their most important ally though was what came to be called “The Fifth Column” that is to say, the Republican-controlled areas held many quiet Rightists who didn’t support the Republic and turned against the Left the moment that it was safe for them to do so. Day after day the Nationalists won people to their cause and territory. The final moments of the Spanish Republic took place in the port of Alicante, where thousands of Republicans sought to escape the advancing Nationalists and there was a flurry of panicked suicides after the last ships carrying refugees withdrew.

Franco carried out a Spain First agenda during the Second World War. He sent a division of Spaniards to fight for the Germans in Russia, allowed some support for German U-Boats, but otherwise he gave little help to his former fascist allies.

At the end of World War II, with the Americans ascendant in Western Europe and the Cold War rapidly becoming unpleasant, Franco needed to win over US President Harry Truman. There was a catch, though. Truman grew up in a deeply Protestant part of the United States where the threat of the Spanish Armada to Protestant England in 1588 and the repression of the Protestant Dutch in the Spanish Netherlands remained part of the folk memories of the population. Additionally, Truman’s first attempt to join the US Army was during the Spanish American War. (Truman was too young and rejected.) He was widely seen as anti-Spanish. The Spanish turned directly to the American People through metapolitical lobbying efforts:

The Spanish government tried to bring domestic and international attention to its few supporters in the United States — mostly — those affiliated with Catholic institutions or organized anti-Communist groups. Petitions, letters to the editor, and articles in the American Catholic press all made the point that Spain was firmly in the Western camp, a bulwark of Christian civilization against godless Communism, and so should not be persecuted. In 1945, however, these were just initial inklings of what would later become the Spanish Lobby. This was a dedicated campaign, organized by the Spanish Embassy, to promote initially the restoration of normal ties, then improved trade and cultural relations, and finally a bilateral security arrangement. One such early effort, a newsletter known as Today’s World, was published in St. Louis from 1946 to 1947, with support from the Knights of Columbus. Reprinting speeches by Franco, along with anti-Communist columns by Clare Booth Luce and others, it warned of Soviet aggression and of the necessity to support the enemies of Communism.[5] [11]

Slowly Truman began to warm to Franco’s Spain. The Eisenhower administration continued to embrace the Spanish. Ike even met with the former commander of Spanish forces in the Eastern Front in New York City. It was the American political Right however, that really led the way for an alliance between the United States and Spain. John Beaty writes:

With the Atlantic Ocean, the Mediterranean, and the lofty Pyrenees Mountains as barriers; under the sheltering arm of distance; and above all with no visible internal Communists or Marxists to sabotage our efforts, we can—if our national defense so requires—safely equip Spain‘s eighteen well-disciplined divisions, can develop airfields unapproachable by hostile ground troops, and in the deep inlets and harbors of Spain can secure safe ports for our navy and our merchant fleet. Our strengthening of Spain, second only to our keeping financially solvent and curbing Communists in this country, would undoubtedly be a very great factor in preventing the Soviet leaders from launching an all-out war. Knowing that with distant Pyrenees guarded and American-armed Spain against them, they could not finally win, they almost certainly would not begin.

Our strengthening of Spain‘s army, potentially the best in Europe outside of Communist lands, would not only have per se a powerful military value; it would also give an electric feeling of safety to the really anti-Communist elements in other Western European countries. Such near-at-hand reassurance of visible strength is sorely needed in France, for that country since the close of World War II has suffered from the grave internal menace of approximately 5,000,000 known Communists. In the general election of members of the French National Assembly June 17, 1951, the Soviet-sponsored Communist Party polled more than a fourth of all votes cast (New York Times, June 19, 1951), and remained the largest single political party in France. Moreover, Communist leaders dominate labor in crucial French industries. “In France, the Communists are still the dominant factor in the trade unions” (The Last Five Years, by George Meany, American Federation of Labor, Washington, D.C., p. 11). See also the heavily documented article, “French Communism,” by Andre La Guerre in Life, January 29, 1951. With Communists so powerful and so ready for sabotage or for actual rebellion, the France of 1952 must be regarded as of limited value as an ally. As said above, however, the dependability of France in the defense of the West would be enhanced by United States aid to the military forces of anti-Communist Spain.[6] [12]

Other than hostility from Jews in the United States who supported Bolshevism, never forgot or forgave their expulsion from Spain after they supported the Moors, hostility towards Spain on the part of white Americans was a sort of culture lag. In truth, by 1917 the divisions in Western Christendom, i.e., the differing views between Roman Catholics and Protestants had shrunk considerably. The welfare state, pioneered by English and Welsh Protestants in organizations such as the Labour Party and the Fabian Society provided a salve for the working poor that were so buffeted by the negatives of capitalism. Meanwhile, Bolshevism, the ruthless child of the Jacobin philosophy, was a powerful enemy to both halves of Western Christianity. Stalwart anti-Communist Calvinists could easily see the point of view of anti-Communist Roman Catholics.

Franco’s rule proved steady and resilient. The Spanish economy improved remarkably over the next four decades. At the same time the memory of the Spanish Republic gained a romantic glow that was not unlike the Lost Cause found in the American South. However, had the Communists taken over the Spanish Republic in the 1930s, a great people in Western Europe would have fallen to a dark tyranny. With Spain in their camp it is possible the Soviets could have won all Europe during World War II.

Many Leftists in the International Brigades who fought against Franco’s forces went to their graves feeling that had they been supported by their countrymen World War II could have been prevented. They believed that they were “democracy’s” early warning against Fascism. However, Franco’s handling of the Communist menace proved more an example for anti-Communists in the United States and Latin America during the Cold War. It was Franco who was on the “right side of history” not the Leftists.

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Arturo Reque Meruvia, «Kemer»: Alegoría de Franco y la Cruzada (1948 – 1949)

Notes

[1] [14] Walter Russell Mead argues in his 2006 study of Anglo-Saxon society that the Protestant Reformation gave Anglo societies a degree of philosophical stability that the Catholic societies of France and Spain lack. To explain, the societies of France and Spain are split between two poles, on the one side is a rational humanism (reason) and on the other side is Catholicism (tradition). As a result the politics of such societies get split between social movements based on humanist reason (i.e. Marxism/Jacobinism/Bolshevism) or reactionary Catholicism. On the other hand, the Anglo society has both humanist reason, traditional Catholicism, and a third pole, Reformed Protestantism (revelation). Mead explains, “Consider a three-sided pyramid whose sides gradually become less steep until they reach a flat top. The top area will be triangular in shape; on every side of this triangle the slopes of the pyramid gradually become steeper. Now think of a gyroscope spinning on the top of the pyramid. It moves as it spins—now toward what we can call the “reason” side of the pyramid, now toward the “tradition” side, and now toward the “revelation” side. As long as the gyroscope doesn’t stray too far from the flat area on top, it can move freely back and forth among the three sides. But if it strays too far, it will pass a point of no return and begin a descent toward the ground.” (p. 247). With only two sides, Spanish society began a descent towards the ground in the 1930s.

[2] [15] Michael Pye, in his excellent book The Edge of the World: A Cultural History of the North Sea and the Transformation of Europe, claims that the indigenous Europeans who lived around the North Sea, the Anglo-Saxons, Scots, Frisians, Dutch, Danes, etc. had a complex financial and maritime trade system as early as the Dark Ages. Banking and stock markets are cultural creations of Nordics. While there are Jews involved in banking and the like, these financial industries are not items that naturally arrive out of Jewish cultural norms. A key thing about banking is that the parties involved must be trusted to safely store and transmit money – this is not a specifically Jewish trait. Jewish financial practices are more along the lines of vulture capitalism, which under certain conditions can transfer, but not create, wealth, as well as Ponzi schemes, usury, and embezzlement.

[3] [16] https://sill-www.army.mil/firesbulletin/archives/2001/JUL_AUG_2001/JUL_AUG_2001_FULL_EDITION.pdf [17]

[4] [18] Carroll, Warren, The Last Crusade, Christendom Press, Front Royal, VA, 1996, p. 44

[5] [19] Bowen, Wayne H.. Truman, Franco’s Spain, and the Cold War, University of Missouri Press, 2017. Page 69

[6] [20] Beaty, John, The Iron Curtain Over America, https://truthinmediablog.files.wordpress.com/2017/08/iron-curtain.pdf [21] 1952, pp. 96 & 97