by Diego Zuluaga
Wednesday, 28
July 2021
Spotted
12:36

Why the Spanish Civil War isn’t over

The Left-wing government's new law is a final attempt to finish the conflict
by Diego Zuluaga
Prince Juan Carlos of Spain with dictator General Francisco Franco (1892 – 1975) in 1975. (Photo by Keystone/Getty Images)

Spain has had uninterrupted democratic rule now for longer than General Francisco Franco was in power. But the dictator — whose passing in 1975 finally allowed for a new constitutional settlement and free elections — remains a top priority for the current Spanish government. At least rhetorically.

The government’s proposed Law for Democratic Memory, which it submitted to Congress last week, would ban public acts ‘exalting’ the dictatorship and military uprising that started the Spanish Civil War. It would outlaw non-profit associations dedicated to these purposes. The law would also create a special state prosecutor’s office, charged with investigating crimes committed during and after the Civil War, and provide for the promotion of ‘democratic memory’ throughout the education system.

Proponents argue that the law is a long-overdue attempt to offset decades of imposed ‘totalitarian memory’, which commemorated the deaths (‘for God and for Spain’) of those fighting on Franco’s Nationalist side during the Civil War, while ignoring those on the side of the Republic and denying their subsequent repression. Opponents view the law as one-sided and harmful, liable to rekindle the divisions that caused the Civil War, and which the country’s post-1975 transition to democracy (lauded as exemplary around the world) was supposed to have overcome.

Detractors also argue that the law’s real target is not Franco, whom a majority of Spaniards barely remember and only a marginal band of nostalgics continue to celebrate, but the centre-right opposition. Assailed by public dissatisfaction with its handling of the pandemic and the recent concessions to Catalan separatists whose support it needs to pass laws, the government is betting that political polarisation will halt its decline in the polls, rallying its base and allowing it to paint the opposition as irredeemably Francoist.

The law would be unremarkable if its impact were limited to a political squabble. But its significance is greater, as it would cement a Manichaean division of Republicans and Nationalists into ‘democrats and fascists’, ‘good and evil’. Spain had laboured to avoid such a split since 1975, not only because it would have hampered national reconciliation, but because it conceals the shared tragedy (and shared culpability) of the Civil War, which saw democrats fighting on both sides and totalitarians gradually dominating both, aided by the Soviet Union and fascist Germany and Italy.

By impugning the Franco regime, some on the Spanish Left also hope to undermine the monarchy, which the dictator restored and which was nevertheless instrumental in the democratic transition. This faction has long viewed the current constitutional settlement as illegitimate because it was arrived at through peaceful (if drastic) reform instead of violent revolution. In a way, this law is their attempt to declare final victory in the Civil War, 82 years later.

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Simon Denis
Simon Denis
1 year ago

As ever, the Left is irresponsibly playing with fire in the name of puritan dogma and selfish goals. Worse, it is actively pursuing the destruction of free speech. In this context, the precise nature of Franco’s regime is irrelevant: if people like it, they ought to be able to say so. Punto final. We note that the socialist jokers currently running Spain have no plans to outlaw the praise of Jo Stalin or fat Mao, although their millions of victims – a handful of whom were to be found in Spain, thanks to hard Left atrocities – deserve no less in pity and sympathy than the victims of fascism. And as to Franco, there is a case to be made that he saved Spain from an even worse fate than being governed by him – communism. This is not a direct endorsement of the Falangist movement; nor should we let the Left play the “with us or against us” game which turns it into one. It is a grim, sour, conservative recognition of dark reality, usually composed of grisly choices between evils and – as such – it does not fit into the Left’s childish spectrum of positive ideological “commitment”. In turn, it shows that reality is a good deal more complicated than the finger wagging prigs of the Left are prepared to understand – at least in public – and that the complexities of past reality are often best left to slumber, with room for their harmless, localised awakening between the covers of history books, or in the privacy of weird little nostalgic conventicles.

Last edited 1 year ago by Simon Denis
Jon Redman
Jon Redman
1 year ago

If there any statues of Franco going we should ask for one and put it up in London, or maybe Bristol, where that philanthropist’s plinth is vacant.
Whisper it, but Franco, the Eastern Front and the Vietnam War all did much, much good in preventing communists getting more uppity than they have. That it was baddies doing the good doesn’t mean it wasn’t good.

William McKinney
William McKinney
1 year ago
Reply to  Jon Redman

And Pinochet did much the same thing for Chile which would likely look more like Venezuela today had he and the army not ousted Allende.

Tony Buck
Tony Buck
1 year ago

That doesn’t excuse Pinochet’s methods.

Simon Denis
Simon Denis
1 year ago
Reply to  Tony Buck

All’s fair in love and war. Dresden wasn’t pretty, but few would concur from it that Bomber Command were criminals. In the desperate straights of an attempted revolution, civil society can use such methods as may ultimately save the greater number of lives. Thiers crushed the Commune; Stolypin put down the revolutionaries of 1905 and both were better than the red alternative. Push sometimes comes to shove; and it’s precisely because Liberals flinch that they are so often overthrown.

Galeti Tavas
Galeti Tavas
1 year ago
Reply to  Jon Redman

toppler bait

Tony Buck
Tony Buck
1 year ago
Reply to  Jon Redman

Franco came very close to reaching agreement with Hitler and joining the Axis war effort.

If he had, Hitler would have won.

The Eastern Front and the Vietnam War both helped Communism.

Brendan O'Leary
Brendan O'Leary
1 year ago
Reply to  Tony Buck

There’s no need to speculate. Franco was in power and he didn’t join Axis. End of.
If you want speculation: What if the leftists had won the Civil War? Would their already impressive body count have suddenly stopped? Would they have joined the Allies? Would Germany and its proxies have then invaded them as they did Czechoslovakia, Poland, Hungary, Netherlands, Belgium, Norway, Ukraine, Baltics, Balkans, North Africa ? (apologies if I omitted any).

Simon Denis
Simon Denis
1 year ago

Unlikely that a red Spain would have joined the allies – as a communist satrapy, she would have fallen in with Jo Stalin’s pact with you-know-who. And anyone who pretends that a “liberal” Spain, rising exhausted from civil war, would have lasted any longer than Kerensky is either disingenuous or actively naive.

Last edited 1 year ago by Simon Denis
A Spetzari
A Spetzari
1 year ago

Thankfully we are nowhere near the same place nowadays.
But for the sake of any sort of coherency, prosperity and progress Spain would do well to remember that it was a chaotic lurch to the left by the Spanish Republic in 1931 that set in motion the events leading up to the civil war.

Brendan O'Leary
Brendan O'Leary
1 year ago

It seems the only reason that Franco outdid the leftists on atrocities and repression is that the leftists lost, thus preserving their legacy as “Murdered fewer civilians”.

Galeti Tavas
Galeti Tavas
1 year ago

So, as an aside, what do you all think … is the world heading for another self induced disaster? I think of Spain, how can it recover from Lockdown? Can’t devalue the Peseta, and the EUCB is questionable..

So I have never been a prepper – but am getting a couple 5 gallon food grade (20 L) buckets with Proper seal, hammer on, air tight lids (Cheap from the local Farm Supply store), some dry ice (CO2) from Walmart (put grain in tub with 4 oz cry ice, let it sublime an hour, mallet down lids after ozygen is gone – supposed to last 30 years.

So say 3 buckets, $25, 30 pound rice (cheap stuff) $40, 20 pounds lentils/beans, $20. 12 oz dry Ice $10. So all is just under $100, and can sit in my empty bedroom stacked up 30 years.

I pay about $10,000 a year on insurance (excluding health) on stuff – so $100 is 1% of that, and is 30 years insurance, Remember Bret’s artticle on the solar Burst and the grid down? Well hackers, and the coming money correction…. Seems like a good deal. Anyone else do this sort of thing? Hard to see why not, at 1% of my annual insurance bill, so anyone – ….? I have never been a prepper as I believe in civil society, but wonder as Tech is so ubiquitous.

Galeti Tavas
Galeti Tavas
1 year ago
Reply to  Galeti Tavas

no answer… but I lived in Mormon places a good bit, and by their religion they are Compelled to keep One Year of food stored.

The question is is it hoarding? Or is it self reliance, and thus one less who has to be cared for if things go bad.

Last night to see how it is I bought a 20 pound bag of Basmati rice for $20, and 10 pounds of dried beans for $10 from Walmart. $30 for 30 pounds of food. I will double that, so $60, and it is much smaller than I thought, so 2 buckets should fit it.

The hoarding/prudence is a hard thing ethically – what if everyone did it? I doubt this food will ever be eaten, 30 years later it will likely go to the dump as they clear out my house. But then, if you think the commodities we each consume in 30 years, this is a drop in a tub…

Francis MacGabhann
Francis MacGabhann
1 year ago

Another law to regulate the past. God help us all if the left actually manage to create a time machine. Oh, wait, I forgot, the left don’t make things, do they?