Here’s another slightly revised and improved repost of something from my old blog. For better or for worse, this is a very short and polemical piece about a very large topic–for a more sober and in-depth overview with a greater focus on Franco’s economics, you can listen to this episode of Voice of Reason Radio’s The Orthodox Nationalist. (Incidentally, TON is worth listening to in general, despite the host’s slightly eccentric terminology. I mean, “social nationalist”? I realize they’re going to call us Nazis anyway, but why egg them on?) There’s also Stanley Payne’s Franco and Hitler–I haven’t read it, but I have heard good things.
There are certain topics, all sacred cows of modern liberalism, which if introduced into a discussion will turn most otherwise intelligent people into drooling, fallacy-spewing morons. One such topic is the Spanish Civil War and the Spanish State which followed it — for though Generalissimo Francisco Franco remains very dead, his reputation, such as it is, lives on.
Let’s start with what the average person is liable to know about Franco and the Civil War. We are told by our liberal overlords that wars are usually nuanced affairs, that it is wrong and old-fashioned to side too vigorously against Adolf Hitler or Osama bin Laden, and that it is bigoted and ignorant to assert that insurgents who murder American soldiers may not always be nice people. But though all wars are nuanced, the New Jacobins hasten to add, some wars are more nuanced than others. For during three violent years in the late 1930s, the Iberian Peninsula miraculously ceased to be a real place, becoming instead a one-dimensional fairytale landscape, a Sorelian myth made earth and flesh, populated on one side by savage Nationalist ogres, and on the other by decent, innocent Republican champions of Truth and Justice, if not of the American Way. The Republicans, who were simply good and innocent souls desiring a free and democratic Spain, eventually collapsed against the juggernaut as all uncompromising idealists must, leaving the evil Franco free to establish a dictatorial fascist state, which by the time of his death 40 years later had declined so badly that Spain elegantly segued back into its current state of Enlightenment, Democracy, and Progress virtually by its own accord.
How are traditionalists to respond to this narrative? Simply by pointing out that it is nonsense.
Undoubtedly the most striking aspect of the modern view of the Spanish Civil war is its two-faced speciousness. The Left has constructed a magnificent set of double standards in its discussion of the war, allowing room for either praise or condemnation of any action depending entirely on which side of the conflict in emanated from.
Thus, while left-wing intellectuals and elites started romanticizing foreign voluntarism on the side of the Republicans before the war was even over, the thousands of Irishmen, Frenchmen, Moroccan Muslims, Americans, Britons, Norwegians, Finns, Russians, Belgians, and Turks who joined the Nationalists with equal bravery and earnestness have not even been dignified with Hollywood demonizations, but rather have simply been ignored. Unlike Bertolt Brecht’s repugnant little poem The Interrogation of the Good, the Left’s narrative about the Spanish Civil War seems incapable of accommodating the idea that “the other side” might have been sincerely and intelligently committed to its cause.
Thus, while the atrocities committed by the Nationalists are said to clearly demonstrate some fundamental moral failing, the Republicans’ merciless and planned slaughter of priests, nuns, women, and children was simply a “regrettable mistake” or a “necessary evil.” (After 1975, the Spanish Left has campaigned, not unsuccessfully, to ban all public commemorations of Republican atrocities during the Civil War.) Needless to say, the fact that the war was presaged in 1934 by a Communist mob’s orgy of murder and arson in Asturias is not the sort of thing one generally mentions in polite company.
And thus, while the support lent to the Nationalists by Hitler and Mussolini clearly demonstrates that Franco was a fascist (scholars of fascism are in nearly universal agreement that he was not: Spain had its fascists – the Falangists of Primo de Rivera – and though they constituted part of the Nationalist alliance, this, like the support of the Italy and the Third Reich, was more a matter of “the least of two evils” than of genuine and enthusiastic agreement), the support lent to the Republicans by that great humanitarian Josef Stalin is ignored with equal gusto. In a sense, we can of course say that Franco was a fascist because he received military support from fascists; by the exact same token, we may label Churchill and Roosevelt Communists because they cooperated with Stalin during the Second World War.
The real key to Left’s animosity towards Franco is not to be found in the Civil War, but in the peace which came after it. Consider some of the Spanish State’s accomplishments just in its last decade: while many parties of the European Left were openly opposed to the notion of an age of consent, Spain was alone in restricting its pedophilia laws; while the post-Vatican II Catholic Church was losing both disciples and principles by the boatload, the nacionalcatolicismo of Franco ensured the continued place of the pious and sacred in the lives of ordinary Spaniards; while the rest of the world felt trapped between the destructive avarice of American capitalism and the totalitarian attrition of Soviet Communism, the “Spanish Miracle” proved that any nation willing to disregard the false dichotomy between these two economistic and materialistic ideologies could have its proverbial cake and eat it too; while atheism, androgynism, and multiculturalism cruelly beset most of Western Europe, Spain, along with Salazar’s Portugal, remained a lone outpost of decency in a seemingly infinite sea of muck; while leftists went from Stalin and Hoxha to Mao and Pol Pot – from one form of evil and totalitarianism to another – Franco remained an unwavering anticommunist; and while liberals went hoarse in their condemnation of all things non-democratic, the humanity, stability, and healthy pluralism of the Spanish State seemed to be providing a vindication not of liberal democracy, but of Cortés’s theory of dictatorship. Indeed, the sins of the Spanish State – the two most significant being its poorly-advised oppression of regional cultures and its failure to follow through in practice on its de jure monarchism – were neither as egregious nor as numerous as those of any other government of its time, democratic or dictatorial. (It is one of the least discussed facts of modern politics that even genuinely oppressive and inhumane right-wing dictators – Pinochet, Videla, the Greek military junta of the 1970s – are nearly always far less murderous and far more willing to yield power peacefully than their counterparts on the Left.)
It is in the success of Spain’s post-Civil War government that we find the real reason for the Left’s animosity towards Franco. For though the convictions of the useful idiots who volunteered for the Republicans were probably earnest enough, the Civil War is today simply a tool of propaganda. So explosive are the lessons we may learn from an unprejudiced investigation of Franco’s legacy, so destructive to the founding myths of liberalism, that no man can be allowed to examine them for himself.