Leftist mobs burned convents and churches, while Republican police stood by

Wednesday, February 6th, 2019

Rod Dreher recently watched a 1983 British television documentary about the Spanish Civil War and came away with some scattered impressions:

Maybe it’s an American thing, but it’s hard to look at a conflict like this without imposing a simple moralistic narrative on it, between the Good Guys and the Bad Guys. Certainly the received history of the conflict frames it as an unambiguous fight between democracy and fascism — and the evil fascists won. The truth is far more complicated.

In fact, the filmmakers make a point of saying that ideologues and others who project certain narratives onto the conflict do so by ignoring aspects of it that were particularly Spanish. That is to say, though the civil war did become a conflict between fascism and communism (and therefore a proxy war between Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union), that’s not the whole story. Its roots have a lot to do with the structure and history of Spain itself.

The first episode covers the years 1931-35, which covers the background to the war. In 1930, the military dictatorship was overthrown, and municipal elections across the country the next year led to a big win for combined parties of left and right who favored a democratic republic. (N.B., not all leftists and rightists wanted a republic!) After the vote, the king abdicated, and the Republic was declared. Later that spring, leftist mobs burned convents and churches in various cities, while Republican police stood by doing nothing. This sent a deep shock wave through Spanish Catholicism.

The Republic, in typical European fashion, was strongly anticlerical. It quickly passed laws stripping the Catholic Church of property and the right to educate young people. There were other anticlerical measures taken. Anti-Christian laws, and violent mob action, were present at the beginning of the Republic. Prior to watching this documentary, I assumed they happened as part of the civil war itself. Imagine what it was like to see a new constitutional order (the Republic) come into being, and suddenly you can’t give your children a religious education, and your churches and convents are being torched. How confident would you be in the new order?

According to the film, Spain was still in the 19th century, in terms of economics. It was largely agrarian, with a massive peasantry that was underfed, and tended to be religious and traditional. On the other hand, they were dependent on large landowners who favored the semi-feudal conditions. These landowners were extremely conservative. Their interests clashed, obviously, and became violent when the land reform promised by the liberal Republicans did not materialize fast enough for the peasantry. Mind you, the Republic was declared in the middle of the global Great Depression, with all the political and economic turmoil that came with it.

The urban working class was organized along Marxist lines, though the left was badly fractured, and unstable. There were democratic socialists, but also communists who hewed closely to the Stalinist line. Plus, anarchists were a really significant force in Spain, something unique in Europe at the time. They competed politically, and usually aligned with the left in fighting the right. But they refused to compromise their principles by taking formal power, even when the defense of the Republic required it.

Regional autonomy also played a role in defining sides. When the civil war started, Catholics supported the Nationalist side (the Francoists) … but not in the Basque Country, which was religious, but which wanted more self-rule — something the Nationalists despised. Catalonia also wanted more independence, which meant it was firmly Republican. Barcelona, the Catalan capital, was a Republican stronghold for left-wing reasons, to be sure. I bring up the situation with the Basques and the Catalans simply to illustrate the complexity of the conflict.

Anyway, the 1933 elections resulted in a swing back to the right, with a coalition of center-right and far-right parties winning control, and reversing some of the initiatives of the previous government. Socialists, anarchists, and coal miners in the province of Asturias rebelled against the Republic. They murdered priests and government officials; the military, led by Gen. Franco, brutally suppressed the uprising. All of this radicalized the left even more.

By 1935, left-right opinion had become so polarized that there was practically no middle ground left. Both sides came to distrust democracy because it was the means by which their enemies might take power. And, as one Nationalist interviewed in the documentary puts it, people on the left and right just flat out hated each other. The whole country was a powder keg.

By the 1936 campaign, the centrist parties had practically disappeared. A leftist coalition won the vote, but deadly violence between left and right began ramping up. A far-right fascist militia, the Falange, formed. Mutual assassinations on both sides, and street fighting between Falangists and Republican forces, triggered a military coup against the government. The coup failed to overthrow the Republic, but it did divide the country, and spark a civil war between Nationalists and Republicans. Gen. Francisco Franco quickly emerged as the Nationalist leader.

I give you all that history to show what was news to me: that this was by no means a simple case of right-wing military figures trying to overthrow a democratically elected government — though it was that too!

The series devotes an hour each to the complicated internal politics of both the left and the right. All my life I’ve heard Franco and the Nationalist side described as “fascist,” but it’s not accurate. True, the Nationalist had real fascists in their ranks — that was the Falange — but Franco exploited and controlled them. The Falange’s founder, Jose Antonio Rivera, was killed by the Republicans, and turned into a martyr by the Nationalists. Doing so allowed Franco to embrace the Falange but also to defang them as a political force. In the film, an elderly Falangist complains that Franco was not a real fascist, and he wouldn’t seriously implement the Falange’s program (e.g., Falangism’s opposition to capitalism).

The documentary says Franco ought to be understood as a hard-right conservative authoritarian, not a fascist. Mussolini was a big supporter, and sent troops and military aid, but was frustrated by Franco’s failure to be affirmatively fascist. Hitler sent lots of military aid, which was critically important to the Nationalist victory, but was angry at Franco for not being willing to be more Nazi-like. The truth is, Franco was trying to lead a reactionary coalition of fascists, monarchists, traditionalist Catholics, and others on the Right. The Spanish Right by and large did not trust the Spanish fascists, who were revolutionary modernists. This is an example of the filmmakers’ point that you can’t get a true grasp on what was happening in Spain at the time by imposing a narrative that overlooks particularly Spanish characteristics of the conflict.

Franco managed to unite the right, but the left remained hopelessly mired in internal rivalry. If you’ve read Orwell’s Homage To Catalonia — which I did in the early 1990s, and forgot all about — you know something about how fissiparous and treacherous left-wing politics were in the Spanish Civil War. Orwell went to Spain to fight with the POUM, the democratic socialists. They were set upon and betrayed by Spanish communists loyal to the Soviet Union. The Soviets were open supporters, military and otherwise, of the Republicans, but also instructed their Spanish followers to undermine the non-communist left.

Two things struck me about the left. I mentioned earlier the role of the anarchist militias, and how they were both crucial to the Republican war effort — they were fierce fighters — but also an Achilles heel, because they were obstinately principled. There’s a passage in the film in which a Republican veteran talks about how hard it was to get the anarchists to take military orders (naturally!). They would stand around debating about whether or not they should obey an order, while the far more disciplined Nationalists would be making gains. Isn’t that cartoonish, in a herding-cats way? But it happened.

The other thing — and this, to me, was the more important thing — was how off-the-hook crazy the Spanish left was. In 1936, after the start of the war, the anarchists and left-wing supporters led a revolution within the Republic. Here’s Orwell describing revolutionary Barcelona:

It was the first time that I had ever been in a town where the working class was in the saddle. Practically every building of any size had been seized by the workers and was draped with red flags and with the red and black flag of the Anarchists; every wall was scrawled with the hammer and sickle and with the initials of the revolutionary parties; almost every church had been gutted and its images burnt. Churches here and there were being systematically demolished by gangs of workmen. Every shop and cafe had an inscription saying that it had been collectivized; even the bootblacks had been collectivized and their boxes painted red and black.

That’s from Orwell, but this is reported in the Granada documentary too. It’s this kind of thing that made me aware that had I been alive then, I would have 100 percent supported the Nationalists. It was truly a revolution, and violently anti-Christian to the core. It was brought low by the communists, on Moscow’s orders, on the grounds that defeating fascism had to come before the revolution. The communists were right.


  1. Graham says:

    Interesting on all points.

    I have run hot and cold on Dreher for years and don’t share his religious approach, but still a little amazed that all these aspects of the war came as such revelations to him. So much that he has to more than once call out the tendency, even in himself, to impose simple values-driven narratives.

    Suddenly American conservatism’s problems, especially in foreign policy, again thrown into sharp relief.

  2. Adar says:

    Considering the anarchist militias within the modern context think of Antifa USA and how the police in various recent episodes told to stand down and not enforce the law. Allow the anarchists to be anarchists and the rest of polite society be damned.

  3. Kirk says:

    To be honest, if you don’t stop and re-evaluate just about everything you’ve absorbed as “conventional wisdom” over the last century-plus, you’re making a huge error in judgment. The “commons” of our culture have been thoroughly polluted by ideologues, and there’s a need to rethink nearly everything you were ever taught or absorbed as “common sense thinking” about a whole host of issues. My rule of thumb has become “Well, if I’m in line with everyone else… I’m probably wrong, and just need to figure out where…”.

    The Spanish Civil War is just an isolated example; others include “Republican’s are racist”, “Nazi’s are right-wing conservatives”, and a whole host of similar issues. Spain’s Civil War is always framed in popular imagination as the good guys losing to the bad guys who were supported by the really bad guys, the Nazis and Fascists. And, that’s where most people stop, but that’s not even the tip of the iceberg.

    The way the Spanish Civil War ought to be framed as is as an internecine struggle between two left-wing groups, one internationalist and irreligious, and the other nationalist and religious. There were no “good guys”–They were all totalitarian assholes. Although, a decent case can be made that the Nationalists were reacting to the outrages of the Republicans…

    End state was probably the best that could be accomplished, given the situation. Had the Republicans won, the state of Spain today would probably be a hell of a lot worse, and WWII might well have taken a very different course–Imagine Hitler doing a recap of Napoleon in Spain, trying to re-establish a Nationalist government, and then getting stabbed in the back by Stalin for his trouble…

    In any event, my thinking runs along the lines of “A pox on all their houses, especially the asshole coalition on both sides of the line…”. Some Nationalists were decent men trying to prevent the destruction of their nation; same for some of the Republicans. Unfortunately, the extremists were running the show on both sides, and we got what we got.

    And, it’s fairly obvious that a lot of the issues that led to the whole thing didn’t get settled thoroughly enough, because we have still got the Basques and others who want out of Spain. Interesting situation, to say the least.

  4. Kirk says:

    Adar: “Considering the anarchist militias within the modern context think of Antifa USA and how the police in various recent episodes told to stand down and not enforce the law. Allow the anarchists to be anarchists and the rest of polite society be damned.”

    The issue with that is that the anarchists and Antifa aren’t willing to remain within any sort of boundaries. “Polite Society” is their chosen prey, and what’s inevitably going to happen is that that prey is going to wise up, and then you’re going to see some interesting things start to happen, which is going to bring in the police–Even if it is just to bag-and-tag.

    Old Army buddy of mine is former SF and Ranger; he retired to his ancestral home in Eugene, Oregon. Last time I talked to him, he was living in his parent’s home, surrounded by what had become a neighborhood full of Black Block anarchist types. He’s been taking notes, and observing who is who, and what they’re doing. You could say that he’s established a “little list” of his own, and that if things ever got a little bit out of hand, well… Dunno what he’s going to be doing, but I would wager that there are going to be some organizational slots opening up in the hierarchy of the anarchists. And, yes, the fact that there is a hierarchy should tell you something about the actual provenance and ideology they follow, rather than what they espouse.

    Funny thing is, they all think he’s their friend, cool old guy who helps everybody out… Yeesh, did they get that one wrong… This guy was Mattis before Mattis was: “Be polite, be professional, but… Have a plan to kill everyone in the room.”.

  5. Graham says:

    Well, it’s not a perfect mapping, but there’s plenty of good reason that much traditional [heh] anarchism and left-libertarianism have so much crossover, including the ways they write of self-organizing communities, anarchist forms of ‘governance’ [usually I'd write government, a concept I approve of in general, but the neologism "governance" actually seems to fit better here].

    The clash between the two, if there is one, seems mostly to come when someone cites the wrong author.

    Separately, I get where the whole business about the Nazis being socialists or leftists comes from, but there is a tradition of taking it too far. They were socialists/corporatists of a sort and it’s worthwhile not to parrot Stalinist thinking about their position on the spectrum, but although Trevor-Roper was right to pooh-pooh the idea the Nazis were “conservative” ["Show me one thing they wished to conserve"], or even necessarily nationalist in any previous sense, they plugged into the German far right just fine.

    All the more so the Nationalists/Francoists in Spain. They could be considered conservative at times, reactionary, and nationalist. Corporatist but broadly capitalist economic strategy.

    The idea that only a libertarian, seriously free-market small government orientation can be considered the “right” barely even applies to American history. There was a long period there when that applied to the whole American spectrum, and elements on the right that didn’t focus on it all that much. It’s not tenable for Europe at all. Franco wasn’t a fascist, but he was on the right.

  6. Graham says:

    I wish your friend in Oregon every good fortune. I won’t make it past a day or so, depending on the nature of the collapse. [I always say this. It's broadly true, but I do keep water and crackers around so I might last a bit longer. But it's good to manage expectations, of oneself or others.]

    But your story gives me hope that someone will be getting serious work done.

  7. Kirk says:

    Graham, I would like you to stop and consider just what it is you consider “right” and “left” in terms of governance. From the sound of things, you’re defining them as being what the left has told you they are, not what they actually are, in terms of fundamentals.

    I would not consider any of the conventional descriptors to be at all accurate, especially when you start talking about the United States. The left-right thing goes back to pre-Revolutionary France and it’s pretty much only applicable there–The right for that context was aristocratic and socially conservative, while the left was the merchant classes and far more liberal socially.

    Using the Nazis to slander what the Democrats call the “conservative right” is one of those ju-jitsu language moves that they managed to pull off in the 1960s. The Nazis were not at all “far right”, because if you analyse that in context of German politics at the time, the far right was where you actually found most of the resistance to Hitler. The support he had came from the wealthy center–The socially conservative and devoutly religious were dead set against him because of the policies he had with regards to things like euthanasia and social policy.

    When you look at the entire package, the whole “left-right” dichotomy is completely senseless, unless you’re a leftist constructing a narrative to bludgeon your opponents with. I would strongly advise abandoning that whole conceptual framework, and start considering political orientation along lines of what they actually do, not what they say they do.

    And, if you do that, what you’re going to find is that we really don’t have that much difference between the Democrats and the establishment Republicans–They’re really the Uniparty, for big government and statist control. The differentiation between the two is mere window dressing, and the establishment Republicans have served as counter-stalking horses, bleeding off resistance to the programs of the Democrats with the same techniques used to co-opt and silence the Tea Party. They’ve been doing their ineffectual studied “incompetence” act since Reagan, and it’s so consistent that you can only conclude that it’s a fraudulent intentional facade, a Potemkin village of “conservatism” which serves to bleed off any energy against the slow slide into full-blown socialism and statist control that is the Democratic program. Disbelieve? Ask yourself why so little was done during the last two years, until they could safely return the House to their true masters, the Democrats. Functionally, the establishment Republicans are in thrall and enthralled by the Democrats.

    So, a “left-right” description of the US political system…? Invalid. There are two sides, but the sides are “the government” and “the rest of us”. Once “the rest of us” figure that out, there’s going to be hell to pay, and I suspect we’re going to be decorating the streets of Washington DC with the entrails of the satraps and self-appointed “public masters”. The illusion that they try to maintain is that the orientation is along some theoretical axis they label “left-right”, but that’s utter BS.

  8. Graham says:

    Well, I’m not sure I want to get into the true nature of the political spectrum in the US, Canada OR the UK these days. I’m broadly happy with the idea that there is a uniparty, I think of it as basically liberal, positionally conservative when it knows it commands the status quo and can use that idea to effect, progressive in its ideological obsessions, and revolutionary in its ultimate ends.

    I don’t know I’d express that quite the way you did but there probably isn’t all that much daylight between us in practice, at least on that. I also can’t see a way out of it, since in my country and increasingly in the US I don’t even see a viable language of opposition. Everything is co opted, or ruled out of bounds in some way already.

    But for the historical and political philosophy elements involved, I’d say this much:

    There are always problems in defining things like “conservative”. It can be:

    -purely positional, in which it means defending whatever is in place, including the left’s most recent gains; This sort of thing one hears a lot from the left, which assumes conservatism just wants to go a bit slower and recognizes defending the leftist wins of earlier years as its duty. I am never susceptible to this appeal as such.

    -mainly utilitarian/pragmatic/institutional, in which it has more substantive content but also is similar to the former in being about defending mainly particular institutions, relationships, and structures, with a view to order over all [this can be applied domestically or to foreign policy. In the latter it is the Metternich/Kissinger view. I'd call both of them conservative in their different ways on substance, too, but I recall in a dull moment Kissinger used this trope to attack conservative republicans in the 90s as too radical. He didn't just mean neocon foreign policy, I don't think.] I’m sympathetic to this worldview, if I agree with the underlying order being defended, or am at least willing to see its defence as essential for civilization and order. The left is making this appeal a lot more skilfully than it used to, as well. I am therefore getting less sympathetic to it.

    -or ideological, in the sense of possessing and arguing for specific ideas, values, approaches to government and life or sources of authority that seem traditional/conservative in the context of their own country, history or civilization. This is the toughest to judge but strongest basis for an independent right politics, not just the left’s intellectual puppet. It’s tough because the content will shift a bit with culture and time. It’s not impossible to draw some traditional lines across time and space- Russell Kirk and others had some success with it, and not just by defaulting to the previous two levels of positional or pragmatic conservatism. But there will be variations.

    We all, whether blog posters, conservatives, liberals, progressives, socialists, reporters, opinionators, use the terms with some degree of slipperiness.

    There are also old questions as to whether conservative and right mean the same thing. I’d say conservatives are always on the right by definition, but not all on the right are conservatives, at least not in all three of the senses above. You can also be a reactionary or some sort of right-radical, animated by the desire for radical upheaval in a direction you think would better match right goals. Happens all the time. Even Republican conservatives in the 80s/90s sometimes used the trope that they were the real radicals and fuddy-duddy welfarist Democrats were the real conservatives. ie., bad. SO far as I remember, none necessarily took that too far because no one wanted to give up the conservative name or intellectual heritage, but politicians like Gingrich and writers of the younger gen at National Review and the Weekly Standard tried on the line at times. Similarly, in times and places like Germany I don’t have a problem with the idea that the right includes at least conservatives, reactionaries, and whatever one best calls right-radicals.

    AS far as using the individualist versus collectivist framework, so beloved of conservatism when I was young and Reagan and Thatcher were in power, it now has its limits for me. I think it always did and always had its inherent dangers. It was never wholly accurate even back then.

    It is perfectly possible to still look at right and left, at least in the US and somewhat UK and Canada and Australia, and see the former as pro-freedom and pro-individualism in traditional areas like property, the market economy, in the US things like gun rights, free expression and so on, and the left as the old collectivists with their bugaboos about property being theft or only conditional, socialized economies, “safety”, communal responsibility for health and so on, PC language. I still do this every day.

    But then I remember that I own allegiances to things like nation state, ethnicity, culture, religion [residual, to be sure] and all sorts of traditional stuff that wasn’t yet in as much question in the 80s as it is now. Metaphysically, I’m pretty hardwired to physical reality, the union of mind and body, and so forth. Once not contestable propositions. When you look at the modern left’s beliefs, it’s easy to see how they might think I am a collectivist, clinging to all these traditional restraints on pure human possibility, when I should be a true individualist about everything from being a mobile, identity-flexible citizen of the world and all its opportunities, to ignoring the mind-body problem implications of gender fluidity or other fuddy-duddy notions. It’s easy to see the left as the flourishing of individualism in the true sense.

    Agree or disagree, it does separate the right or conservatism from individualism as a core principle.

    I usually settle that by describing my worldview as historicist in some sense. I belong to the Anglo-Saxon cultural sphere, a tradition in which certain kinds of individualism were prised within a culture, identity and tradition. I’m not, and I guess never was, a pure individualist, Randian, Heinleinian [if he was] or otherwise. I’m a collectivist for a cultural identity that made wide space for integral individualism within its framework. Go figure.

    So when I look at any historical period or country and if I feel the need to characterize things as left/right or to evaluate how those have been applies, I don’t need to take at face value what anyone is telling me, but I can’t impose the framework I knew watching America from next door circa 1988 either.

    I’ve seen solid, if 1960s, academic articles backing up the idea that the best way to see Nazism and Italian fascism [and some others] is as the radicalism of the centre. I still think that’s true enough. I sometimes throw that argument and colleagues who profess proudly to be moderates.I still agree that they could hardly be called conservatives. I do think that the political clusters from which they emerged, and the intellectual influences on them, belonged also to the fringe left and right, and the right is where they ended up.

    It doesn’t preclude noting that, as you put it, the far right’s other wings generated a lot of the opposition, eventually. It wasn’t alone, and it wasn’t alone in being pragmatic about it. The only really consistent opposition was centre left liberal, and ineffective like the students of groups like White Rose. The Communists went all-in, but only from June 1941 of course. The [very] conservative right represented by men like Goerdeler started to be critical early on, but just like the communists they had complicated motives. Some pre-1933 class prejudices, and some consciousness that Hitler would either by winning or losing sweep away their Germany, and especially fear he would eventually lose.

    I guess I’m saying that as far as the Nazis are concerned, there’s reasons to recognize their left, centre and right qualities in their ideologies and support bases, and reasons besides Stalin’s views to ultimately cluster them on the far right because too many of the beliefs, statements and symbolism matched other such groups. The word socialist was not meaningless to them, but it’s not enough unless you come from a framework in which heavy emphasis on the free market is what defines conservatism or the right.

    Outside the US it never did.

    So when one comes to someone like Franco, I’d say he belonged on the right for sure. Somewhat reactionary, mostly conservative in that he more wanted to hold the line than go back, certainly authoritarian and nationalist. I’m satisfied that would put him on the right and even make him somewhat conservative, as a subset of the right, anywhere. I accept the affiliation. With the falange, it is tougher.They were more radical and socialist than Hitler ended up being, or Mussolini, and kept pure with so little real power in their hands. One sees the radical and revolutionary in them, for their own time and place. The only thing that gets them on the right is their nationalism and militarism, and I’m aware those two things had their day as leftist positions [revolutionary France comes to mind]. Still, for 1930s Spain, one sees why they belong on the right.

    Sorry to bang on. Someday I keep meaning to open a blog. The best I do is sporadic tweeting and commenting mostly here. If I were to sum up, I’d say I get a lot of what you are saying and it’s familiar, friendly ways of thinking to me, I just don’t see it as a model that applies to all times and places. Of course, when it comes to history, I always have to ask who I would have been if I lived then. Class and economic position is often decisive. It’s not impossible I would have been a communist, anarchist or fascist. If translated as I am now to 1936 Spain, I’d have to hold my nose a bit but I’d back Franco. More or less for the reasons Dreher gave.

  9. Kirk says:

    My thoughts are similar to yours, but I’m a bit more opposed to the current usages of “left and right” because I’ve come to see them as tools of the uniparty’s effort to obfuscate what is actually going on. They are running a massive con, a shell game, in which they’ve taken over both parties, and are running everything in concert behind the scenes–Perhaps not formally, with cabalistic secret meetings at a convenient and photogenic conspiracy venue, but certainly by tacit agreement and gamesmanship. Witness that POS McCain and his actions with regards to the whole “Repeal Obamacare” scam the establishment Republicans ran on the rest of us.

    I think, when you get down to it, the whole of it rests solidly on one question: How do you feel about telling other other people what to do, and how do you feel about being told what to do? If you’re of the mind that you want to run things for everyone, or that you want to have someone else run your life for you, then you’re on the same side as the uniparty. They’re fitting themselves out to be the pigs from Animal Farm, and there are a lot of people who want to play the roles of the animals. If, on the other hand, you just want to be left the hell alone, and don’t care what other people do with their lives so long as they don’t impinge upon yours, well… You’re with the rest of us that don’t go into that first Orwellian group. It’s as simple as that–The issue of control: Do you want to be slave or slave-master? That’s the other side. Mine is “Leave me the hell alone, and I’ll leave you alone…”.

    Everything else is just trivia to distract the rubes from what’s going on, as they’re slowly fitted out for shackles and chains.

  10. Graham says:

    I must add that I find left still useful.

    At least for Canada, and my suspicion is also the US, it isn’t just government versus the rest. There’s plenty of support for the uniparties among the masses.

  11. CVLR says:

    To elaborate a bit on your point, Kirk:

    Divide et impera.

    The left-right paradigm is a brilliant system designed to turn the people against each other. If you want to have a voice, you have to pick a team, and once you’ve picked a team, you’re obliged to wrestle in the mud with the designated opposition. The few who don’t find this arrangement terribly compelling are generally scooped up by the band-of-misfits “libertarian team”, and the ones who see through the façade entirely are castigated as racists, sexists, and antisemites, and driven from the temple public square.

    Everyone “left” and “right” think that their perennially embattled team is losing against the overwhelmingly powerful opposing team because both teams have a number of party positions along an elitist-populist continuum, and when it comes time for each team’s leaders to come together, “compromise”, and get something done, the populist positions from each team are quietly forgotten in the ensuing synthesis.

    In general, in the U.S., this means that the cardboard cut-out “left” gets its cultural agenda, which empowers the state at the expense of everything classically Anglo (and more broadly Western), and that the cardboard cut-out “right” gets its economic agenda, which empowers the corporate megabehemoths at the expense of everything classically Anglo (and more broadly Western).

    If one is especially intelligent, but not necessarily in possession of the gift of clear thinking, one then comes up with clever rationalizations such as Rule by Reaganites (left), or the fabled Leftist Singularity (right). In reality, there is no mysterious, irresistible force of history leading us either to utopia or dystopia. The world is as the strongest make it so, and the strongest fashion the world to benefit themselves.

    Beat them, or join them. The third choice is rather unpleasant.

    Aut vincere aut mori.

  12. Kirk says:

    I think there’s another alternative out there, and one that’s growing as more and more people see through things. Years ago, I can remember getting the stink-eye whenever I pointed out how these things looked to me. Now? I get a lot of nodding heads as people agree with me.

    The bipolar world is going to reach a point where the McCains and the Schiffs have utterly discredited themselves, with the center majority. When that happens, we’re probably going to see the death of one or both political parties, and something else arise. The last time this sort of disconnect between the establishment of the parties and the voting public happened, we wound up losing the Whigs, gaining the Republicans, and having a Civil War. Something similar ain’t out of the question today.

  13. ASDF says:

    If Hitler had been more like Franco we wouldn’t have had WWII. As far as I can tell the Nazi’s got power because the existing elites thought he would be like Franco, and they thought that necessary to keep the communists from taking power in the depths of the Depression. It turned out Hitler wasn’t Franco.

    Personally, I have a high opinion of Franco. Given the situation Spain was in, I think we can agree that he piloted on probably the best possible path given the likely options available. We don’t have to think he was a saint to think he was better than the alternatives.

  14. Isegoria says:

    If you’d like to make it past a day or so, Graham, consider reading P.D. Mangan’s advice.

  15. Kirk says:


    The parallels between Franco and Pinochet are… Interesting. Both were high-ranking military officers who faced imminent left-wing tyranny, and dealt with that relatively humanely, as opposed to the paths taken by their far more socialist exemplars in other parts of the world. Mussolini might have managed to fall into company with them, but he fell for Hitler’s siren song.

    Something to be said, I think, for Franco and Pinochet’s performance, compared to varied other dictators, most of whom were on the left end of the conventional political spectrum. Franco was far to the right of Hitler, with his religiousity and support for the Catholic church, and I think you can make a case for him being an actual positive influence on Spain–As was Pinochet on Chile

  16. CVLR says:

    Kirk, I don’t know what’s going to happen — who does? — but I suspect that even the forms of democracy will not long outlast the ascent of the Boston Dynamics Spot Mini: Turret Edition. Besides, has any of this “discreditation” mattered yet? The approval rating of Congress is in the teens. 2019 America doesn’t even feel like the same country as 2009 America. If there’s to be a militial war, it’ll be in the next very short period of time or not at all.

    Otherwise, cultivate your good feelings regarding UN hegemony refracted through Chinese power.

  17. Kirk says:

    I think what is going to happen is that there is going to be a gradual slip away from credibility for these idiots like that little socialist chicky snack from Brooklyn. You’re going to know the worm has turned when they hold rallies, most people don’t bother to show up, and the ones that do don’t get engaged with the speakers at all.

    You can already see it with regards to the media–When I was a kid, the conventional wisdom was “If they printed it, it must be true…”. Now? More of the people I talk to are looking at the papers or newscasts and going “Huh… Can’t spot the lies; they’re getting better at hiding ‘em…”. Little old ladies used to watch Walter Cronkite like he was Moses come down from the mountain; can you think of a single news “personality” out there today who has similar automatic credibility?

    Things are changing, and I just don’t know where they’re going to go.

  18. Lu An Li says:

    “Had the Republicans won, the state of Spain today would probably be a hell of a lot worse,”

    First thing Franco did when he took over Spain is to give each farmer [peasant?] a pair of breeding pigs. Spain very quickly self sufficient in food.

    This video was done forty years after the fact? Those persons active at the time of the war seem to be quite well-dress and well-nourished, without a whole lot of animosity of rabid ideology. Time heals all and they are all old-timers?

  19. L. C. Rees says:

    One paradox of Congress in contemporary America is this: while most Americans are unhappy with Congress as a body, many remain satisfied or just apathetic when it comes to their own local Congress critter.

    They may be less pleased with their local dynamic duo of U.S. senators: I always knew my late aunt to be laid back and easy going. Except in one instance: she really, really, really, really did not like her state’s junior senator of the time.

    Who knew Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA) had so much potential as an industrial abrasive?

  20. Kirk says:

    One cure for our current Congressional malaise might be to have two votes for it: One, for the local representation, and then another for “Do you approve/disapprove of what Congress is doing as a whole…?”. So long as the majority approve, that Congress remains in operation as it does now. Let the majority of the electorate say “no” (and I’d say that this number ought to be in the 60% range), and that Congress gets dissolved, with none of its members ever being allowed to take office anywhere, ever again.

  21. Sam J. says:

    “…One cure for our current Congressional malaise might be to have two votes for it…”

    Another would be a none of the above vote where anyone on the ballot couldn’t run again in that cycle election. It’s been said that then we wouldn’t be able to elect anyone but I bet after the professionals were kicked to the curb some local businessman or history teacher or some other such regular person that talked common sense would be voted in.

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