Monday, July 25, 2011

Spain 1936

More reflections on the Passion of Spain.
Civil wars are terrible things, and the Spanish war of 1936-9 particularly dreadful. Nonetheless the fact that it occured reflects the tensions within Spain at the time. What took place was a battle not merely for power - Spanish nineteenth century history is strewn with such episodes - but of two wholly opposed world views. The horrific violence unleashed against the Church and any imagined supporters of the traditional Spain in the wake of the army's move illustrates what they were acting against - for many on the left this was the opportunity to create a new world order, with Spain as the laboratory. After five years of radical change and turmoil the Nationalists may have finally precipitated the conflict, but the actions in the name of the republic which ensued were post factum validation for the actions of the army and its supporters.

My sympathies have always been entirely with the Nationalists - my ideas were formed as a schoolboy reading Luis Bolin Spain:The Vital Years (Bolin arranged the aircraft to fly General Franco from the Canaries to Spanish Morrocco) and C.E.Lucas Phillips The Spanish Pimpernel. I have never had sympathy for the International Left and the "poor little rich kids" like John Cornford and Esmond Romilly (and his girlfriend Jessica Mitford) who decided to visit left-wing revolution in its nastiest form on Catholic, traditional Spain. I once tried to read some of Orwell's Homage to Catalonia, and was bemused to find that the hated "right wingers" were the official Communists...

Speaking of the regions of Spain it is interesting to reflect that the geographical division in the country during the war was essentially, though by no means exactly, that between Castille and Leon, on the Nationalist side, and republican control in Aragon, and the north-east. Similarly the Basque nationalism sponsored by the republic reflected ancient traditions of autonomy, and conflicted with the Catholic, and indeed Carlist, traditions of the north of the country. To understand the background to the conflict means stretching deep into the past of the country. (Read entire post.)

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