Parallels between the Falangists and the American Right wing – War-mongering and Hyper-nationalism
|Jose Antonio Primo De Rivera Founder of the Falange Party|
- This is part of a series:
- Parallels between Falangists and US Fascists
The Spanish Falange, or Phalanx, was organized as a military movement whose members subordinated Individual, group, and class interests towards achieving that goal. To them Spain has a single destiny in the world. Anything to the contrary of this myth was “repulsive.” To them “Any kind of separatism” was “a crime which we shall not pardon.“ They saw the countries existing constitution as an affront to the myth of Spain as a single abstract entity. They “Therefore” demanded “its annulment in a thundering voice.”
An Authoritarian Version of "Law and Order"
One thing that Fascists parties and movements have always had in common is what is labeled as "hypernationalism." Fascism's symbol is the "Fascii", which was a bundle of sticks for administering beatings and an axe in that bundle. It symbolizing an strict, violent and intolerant version of "law and order. Such a law and order is labeled "authoritarian" because the criteria for guilt or innocence shifts from a preponderance of evidence to the dictates of an absolutely infallible authority. At its extreme mere evidence becomes no longer important. Truth is what authority dictates is true. An example is the end of the book 1984, when poor Winston admitted that 2+2=4. In its final stages Authoritarian and totalitarian regimes ignore or manufacture evidence to support their conclusions. They create myths
Myth and Legend
In it's formative stages authoritarian and totalitarian movements reject facts and substitute myths and legends. Fascism as a human tendancy dates back to those Romans & Greeks, and further. It has generally been centered around an individual gifted with infallibility and perfect attributes. The Assyrians did this. So did the ancient Egyptians. Georges Sorel revealed methods of manipulation in the late 19th century and early 20th century, all centered around myth making.
Myths convey authority. Which are why how they are used is as important.
Georges Sorel and myth
Georges Sorel, considered himself a Marxist, but he helped birth Fascism, maybe innocently, maybe not. He also helped birth modern advertising and Propaganda He was an advocate of revolution, syndicalism and a champion of labor. He also was a retired engineer who finally had the resources to work on his interest in Social Science. He recognized that whether such movements succeed or not, depend not whether they use myth and legend, but how they use them.
“…..Men who are participating in a great social movement always picture their coming action as a battle in which their cause is certain to triumph. These constructions, knowledge of which is so important for historians, I propose to call myths; the syndicalist “general strike” and Marx’s catastrophic revolution are such myths. As remarkable examples of such myths, I have given those which were constructed by primitive Christianity, by the Reformation, by the Revolution and by the followers of Mazzini [Italian Revolutionary].” [Sorel and Fascism]
Sorel and his disciples, advertisers and propagandists alike, seek to build grandiose mythic utopias of a glorious, now threatened past, or of a mythic future, and to get people dreaming. Amway style salesmen read "the power of positive thinking." It is all about constructing a potential future in ones' mind and then finding a way to make it reality. One can architect from the same bricks a cathedral or a prison. Unfortunately, those who build on faulty myths tend to create their own prisons. Sorel had seen the reality at the beginning of the 20th century:
Myths Raise Hopes
Sorel, saw how myths can raise hopes, or fears. Myths", true or false, abstract from reality. That is why Hitler said that a great leader is also a magician. It's not that he can change reality, though Hitler believed he could til the last days of his life. It is that their slight of hand, rhetoric and evocation of myths, could inspire people to believe and act as if the myth can become reality. Myths, hope and abstractions, are "historical forces", they not only drive history, but sometimes rewrite it. What Fascists do in their reality is to try to rewrite actual facts in “brutal dishonesty.”
But the best movements are also creating a "vision" which is a myth until someone makes it reality. A mythic vision based on lies and delusions will fail because of that reality. But myth at its best architects reality. The same bricks can build a Cathedral or a Prison. A Basement can be a wine cellar or torture chamber, depending on the imagination of the architect.
“I now wish to show that we should not attempt to analyze such groups of images in the way that we analyze a thing into its elements, but that they must be taken as a whole, as historical forces, and that we should be especially careful not to make any comparison between accomplished fact and the picture people had formed for themselves before action.” [Sorel and Fascism]
Hijacking myths and hijacking the vision formed “before action”
For Sorel, concepts like "General Strike", "syndicalism" were supposed to be positive myths, used to boil down and advertise otherwise too abstract concepts into something ordinary people could understand. Propaganda turned out to be a powerful weapon that was and is a too edged sword.
The Myth of the General Strike
The General Strike was a powerful weapon in achieving labor's goals. Indeed Taft Hartley took advantage of where a General Strike hampered the World War II war effort to ban general strikes and closed Union Shops in 1957, because it had been so effective it had ushered in a post war middle class.
The founders of fascism rebelled at a egalitarian, positive, progressive change. So they hijacked Sorel's ideas into an advertising and propaganda tool for their own goals. They could sell coffee by linking the aroma, view of smiling faces and brandname. They could counter progressive effort with anecdotes of rapes of nuns, murder of priests or prelates, and by claiming that such behavior indicated a hostility to the people they were advertising to. Even the death of their leaders became an excuse to turn them into heroes and propagate their faith. The distinction between a cult, a political party, and a totalitarian movement is thin on this matter.
Politics lives or dies on the basis of its myths. This isn't a new technique, and the Bolsheviks would use similar methods to the point where the differences between Fascist left and fascist right are the myths used. The term sophistry was invented by the Greeks.
Sell the myth
Modern conservatives sought to replace the myths of liberalism, with new myths. For example Ronald Reagan replaced FDR's vision of the "Four Freedoms" with his own version, that was completely different. They use the tools of advertising, sell the imagination on the product's smell, taste, sauce or how it makes you feel. The fantasy is often stronger than the reality. The myths are usually utopian, especially when the reality is dystopian.
Combating International Progress with fear and hostility
The fascists used fear messages to attack their rivals, to attack people who might resist them, and to create myths about targeted "others" that would drive violence and efforts to get control over the means of law enforcement and justice. They needed enemies. They still need enemies. The dark image of modern Fascists is not much different than those of the Falange. Looked at from the point of view of myth making the following is easier to understand.
- Hispanidad: Individual, group, and class interests must inexorably give way to the Collective Identity of "Hispanidad"
- One Nation: Spanish Destiny demands that any form of local identity be abolished.
- Imperialism: Spain Must Once again be an Empire that should incorporates all Spanish or Portuguese speaking Colonies
- Militarization: Spain must become a Militarized Nation to achieve these goals
- Naval & Air Power: Spain must be a Maritime, Sea and Air Power.
Hispanidad; Nation, Unity Empire!
The myth of "loot!", "Glory!", "Hispanidad!", played on Spanish myths as old as the United Monarchy of Ferdinand and Isabella and the Hapsburgs. Spain had been an empire, the myth that it could be again could recruit both the ambitious and the greedy, as loot is a source of wealth and power. And militarism appealed to young unemployed men who needed a job and who felt left out of society.
The Spanish falangists sought to realize the myth of The Collective Identity of "Hispanidad" and to unify the Iberian Peninsula & maybe even Spain and Portugals Former possessions This echoed the slogan of Ferdinand and Isabella, “One Nation, One Faith, One language:”
Making Spain Great Again
The myth of Spain as "great again" meant that they had to “build an Empire.” Empire was necessary to make dream/myth reality to fulfill spain's destiny! This required a mighty Army, a mighty Navy. For myth to become reality once again, they had to pursue grandiose dreams. Slogans had to be realized, either in reality or by silencing anyone who might notice their nudity.
All this necessitated Militarism, Imperialism and Nationalism, in order to realize the myths that formed the basis of fascism.
Fear is the Mind Killer
Modern fascism plays on the attributes of stressed and traumatized human brains. People who are afraid find their attention narrowed, their fear reactions heightened, and are less tolerant and less able to see an opponents point of view or to care about reason and facts. The fight or flight instincts kick in. Which is why Fascists and similar groups (like classic Tories in British Politics) spin myths about minority groups, those lower in status and power, scapegoats, and people outside their circles.
Anecdote becomes legend in any case. And legend becomes myth. People have built up their "heros" into Saints and Gods throughout history as a means of justifying present hierarchy. The founder might be a scoundrel, but minstrels sang his praises if they wanted to keep their heads. Chronicles and Kings sing praises on King David, not because he in fact was a saint or perfect individuals, but because for 200 years his family continued to rule Judah, and his descendants sat in a chair in Babylon for several more centuries, until the last ones were finally murdered or forgot they were descended from him. Herod didn't murder babies in Bethlehem to get Jesus. He was after any descendants of David who still resided in Bethlehem, which was the traditional "city of David" -- and his descendants.
The uses of myth are not new. They've been an insider wisdom of religious and secular leaders for millennia. Anecdotes can be simplified into fables, and fables can be used to teach people the norms of a society. Sometimes they even provide universal (catholic) norms and correct "orthodox" ones. This is the lesson of the Jewish PaRDeS teachings that are part of their esoteric teachings. Christians try to only permit ministers or prelates to use those techniques. Myth making and interpretation of myths is not new.
Indeed Sorel also demonstrated the power of myth over fact in one of his comments about Catholicism:
The Cult Example
“I could have given one more example which is perhaps still more striking: Catholics have never been discouraged even in the hardest trials, because they have always pictured the history of the Church as a series of battles between Satan and the hierarchy supported by Christ; every new difficulty which arises is only an episode in a war which must finally end in the victory of Catholicism.”[Sorel and Fascism]
It is a dark vision:
“Democracy and Capitalism are one and the same evil: they can only be overthrown together. A regenerated nation, a better future a flourishing peace can only spring up on their ruins.” RW Page: [blackshirts page]
Sources for this section
- The conscious misuse of Myth, Georges Sorel and Fascism
- Georges Sorel, the Power of Myth (Review)
The Party Program is at this webpage:
Sources and Further reading
- The conscious misuse of Myth, Georges Sorel and Fascism
- Georges Sorel, the Power of Myth (Review)
- http://holtesthoughts.blogspot.com/2018/08/the-life-of-garcia-lorca-and-fascist.html quotes taken in August 2018. I also have them in several of my books and from other webpages.
- Quote taken from book;
- "National Identities and Socio-Political Changes in Latin America" By Antonio Gomez-Moriana, Mercedes Duran-Cogan page 112
From My own writings
Used in this Post
*note, I'm writing this because I'm finding that the material available on wikipedia, and in other sources, has been altered. Sources challenged that I have hard copies of, or remember reading in the library. And misinformation substituted. I should probably weigh in on the wiki battles, as one can provide original sources to them and get the material restored. [I hope] All with the obvious purpose of softening the impact of the Spanish Inquisition, Catholic Fascism, and Franco. Catholic Fascism doesn't meant that all Catholics are fascists, but it has been a reality of either factions in, or the official leadership, of the Church for centuries. Authoritarianism has been part of the Doctrine, since the Pope started insisting his primacy over the other patriarchs, and really since the Roman Empire started using the Church as a tool to rule their people. Efforts to excise the negative consequences of authoritarian behavior, are part of that behavior. My wife was an expert on this subject. I'm not. I inherited a small library on this subject when she died and I see a necessity to set the record straight as long as I can, as my country, the USA, is currently going fascist.