Monday, October 4, 2010

Meditations on Fascism

More on Fascism.

"I knew no more about Spanish politics and history than most of my fellow-countrymen, that is to say, not much. I had read (in translation) much (but not all) of Don Quixote, and seen reproductions of the great paintings of Velázquez and Goya. I knew that Philip II had married an English reigning Queen -- Mary -- and on her death claimed the throne of England, but had been defeated when in 1588 he sent the great Armada to invade England and enforce his claim. I knew that the Duke of Wellington had fought a long, hard campaign against Napoleonic armies in Portugal and Spain and that guerrilla (which was to become my military specialty in World War II) was a Spanish word. But I had no real understanding of the complicated situation that had produced the military revolt of July 1936. What I did know was that Franco had the full support of Hitler and Mussolini. In fact, that support had been decisive at the beginning of the war. The military coup had failed in Madrid and Barcelona, Spain's principal cities. Franco's best troops, the Foreign Legion and the Regulares, the Moorish mercenaries recruited to fight against their own people, were cooped up in Morocco, since the Spanish Navy had declared for the Republic. Planes and pilots from the Luftwaffe and the Italian Air Force, in the first military airlift in history, had flown some 8,000 troops across to Sevilla, Franco's base for the advance on Madrid"

This from one of the most educated Americans of his time...but then again, Americans have made a career from being oblivious to the oldest cultures of the world, particularly if they are antique European ones that are part of old Christendom's body. After all, what else do you need to know than that Franco "had the full support" of Hitler? This phrase reeks of American politics and political posturing. Franco, in fact, irritated Hitler so much that he once stated he would rather have his teeth pulled than another conference with Generalissimo. As for the Tercio, the Rif War was probably even more outside Knox's expertise...Knox conveniently forgets to mention the Soviet advisors operating upon the other side of the line...advisors who came with "materialle". To Knox, he knew what he needed to know. Which wasn't much.

Constrast this with the chivalric and martial spirit operating on the Nationalist side:

"During the Spanish Civil War, Colonel José Moscardó Ituarte held the building against overwhelming Spanish Republican forces in the Siege of the Alcázar. The incident became a central piece of Spanish Nationalist lore, especially the story of Moscardó's son Luis. The Republicans took 16-year old Luis hostage, and demanded that the Alcázar be surrendered or they would kill him. Luis told his father, "Surrender or they will shoot me." His father replied, "Then commend your soul to God, shout 'Viva Cristo Rey' and die like a hero."[1] Moscardó refused to surrender. Contemporary reports indicated that the republicans then executed Moscardó's son. Other historians have reported that Luis was not in fact shot until a month later "in reprisal for an air raid".[2] The dramatic story also camouflages the fact that the fate of a number of male hostages, mainly from the Guardia Civil, taken into the Alcázar at the beginning of the siege is unclear. Some sources say the men "were never heard of again".[3]"

Bernard Knox is, in fact, oblivious to the insensitivity of forming part of an International Army which volunteered to come & conquer Spain. Now, granted, he was fighting for a universalist ideal, but it seems strange for a liberal to overlook this fact when discussing (or romanticizing) about War and their own past participation in it. Imagine what that would look like today, in America, as an experiment....

Contrast this with the martyrial attitude and religious spirit that existed in the "Fascist" ranks of Spain. One place to examine what it means to be Fascist is the Spanish Civil War, given that the operating definition of that term seems to have been formed (among the intelligentsia) in that theatre. To be Fascist, ultimately, was to be opposed to the progress of the Republic and the international "world community". Who wouldn't want Abraham Lincoln Brigades to come and help save them from their own Nationalists?

If nothing else, I know that the Spanish Civil War was more complex than this. (And you can, as well. Read Jose Maria Gironella, if nothing else). Therefore (ergo, if the dataset is more complex than admitted) so is the term "Fascist". To Bernard Knox (GRHS!) there was no such thing as a "premature anti-Fascist", because, as we would do well to remember, Progress never sleeps nor slumbers. It is impossible to jump the gun here, and prudentials have no consideration. What do the Proverbs mean anyway? Wisdom? Knowledge? No. There is only Progress. And those who resist are "Fascists". Liberals have no other word for those they hate as "Fascists" because there simply isn't substitute for the word "evil". You don't say "bad" or "not-good". You can say, partly-evil, or mostly-evil, as in mostly-Fascist or semi-Fascist. But you cannot get rid of the term, because it is a primary signifier. What would you replace it with? And what gradations would you admit from its elementary vileness? Any government that is authoritarian + Right Wing = Fascist.

This is how the term "means" to me.

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