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Sunday, March 17, 2019

The Birth of Falange Fascism

Origins of Spanish Totalitarianism

The life of José Antonio Primo De Rivera teaches us that fascism doesn't appear out of a vacuum. Afterwards, usually will admit they ever were fascist, but during the buildup to Fascism, fascism grows out of little selfish decisions that involve using hate and fear to serve ambition. Spanish Fascism didn't start with José Antonio Primo De Rivera, it started with the dictatorship of his father. With the invasion of North Africa and with a gradual polarization between the left and the right. Primo de Rivera was later made into a hero. Why? Because he died at the outset of the Spanish Civil war and it was convenient to his fellow Fascists and their movement. He was no hero. Like all Fascist leaders, he was a ruthless, opportunist politician.

Miguel Primo De Rivera

In Hannah Arendt's "Origins of Totalitarianism" she profiles the relationship between European Fascism and its associated "eliminatist" rhetoric, and colonialism. José Antonio Primo De Rivera's father illustrates this role. Miguel Primo De Rivera was born to a wealthy family in Jerez, Spain, in 1870. Before he ever entered Spanish politics he served in the Spanish Colonial army and took part in the colonial wars in Morocco, Cuba and the Philippines, in the 1890s. After the First World War Miguel Primo de Rivera held several important military posts including the captain-generalship of Valencia, Madrid and Barcelona. On the death of his uncle in 1921 he became Marques de Estella.

What is Done to Others Abroad, Eventually is done at Home

One Inspiration for Fascism is in colonial warfare, which was far more brutal, especially to the people living in colonies, than what people experienced inside of Europe, that the habits of divide and rule, brutality, exploitation, and manipulation were developed and refined that contributed to the rise of chauvinistic nationalism at home.

Messy Democracy

Democracy is messy, and any corruption is usually out in the open where all can see. There is a tendency among authoritarian leaders to paint the problem with corrupt government as being with democratic forms. And Miguel De Rivera, used to authority and discipline reacted to efforts to establish Democratic forms in Spain with violence. He made friends with Prince Alfonso XIII.

Alfonso the XIII – Proto-Fascist

Alfonso the XIII was an autocratic ruler opposed to democratic forms in the nation. He had assumed bout in 1902, and by 1906 was the target of an assassination attempt on his wedding day. Spain was becoming unstable. Spanish wars in North Africa were unpopular at home. Abandonistas wanted to pull out of Morocco. Africanistas wanted to expand the Spanish Empire.

Launching a Coup, Monarch as Dictator

The imperialist "Africanistas" were a minority, but the King backed them.

“Blamed for the Spanish defeat in the Moroccan War (1921) Alfonso XIII was in constant conflict with Spanish politicians. His anti-democratic views encouraged Miguel Primo de Rivera to lead a military coup in 1923. Alfonso gave his support to Rivera's military dictatorship” [Spartacus]

Dictator from 1923-1930

From 1923-1930 Miguel De Rivera ruled Spain as a Dictator. Miguel

“promised to eliminate corruption and to regenerate Spain. In order to do this he suspended the constitution, established martial law and imposed a strict system of censorship.” [Spartacus-Rivera]

Of course he didn't eliminate corruption, or stay in office only for 90 days. Authoritarian rulers rarely do. He created the Unión Patriótica Española, and tried to outlaw other parties.

Colonialism and Fascism

He did ally with the French to prosecute the Rif War. Spain had proven too weak to take the Rif (northern part of Modern Morocco) by themselves. They needed an alliance with the French, but by 1925, with the use of chemical weapons (mustard gas) they'd subdued the Rifians enough to force their leader to surrender. It was General Dámaso Berenguer who used that Mustard Gas in the Rif. Berenguer was subsequently court marshaled for plotting an uprising before Miguel's coup. Miguel pardoned him. The warfare continued til 1927.

Fascists Fail

Miguel tried to raise taxes on the rich to pay for his wars, which alienated his base. When that didn't work he borrowed money. By 1930 the combination of ill health and increasing opposition forced him to resign. By March he died of diabetes. His Son would take up his mantle and continue his legacy.

Trying to Save a Flailing Monarchy

When Miguel died, King Alfonzo XIII first appointed General Dámaso Berenguer. When that failed he gave the government to Admiral Juan Bautista Aznar. Both attempts to save the crown failed, and King Alfonso had to go into exile, in April 1931. The Second Spanish Republic was born in April 1931.

Defending his Father

José Antonio Primo De Rivera would pick up where his father left off. His bios say he got into politics defending his father's ideas. Meanwhile he studied Fascism. He would fall in love with Mussolini and Hitler's ideas. But those ideas were already incipient in Spanish Culture Some tracing back to pre-Columbian times.

This narrative picks up in the post:

The Death of José Primo De Rivera
Related Posts:
Garcia Lorca
Falangist Terror versus Garcia Lorca
Garcia Lorca and Charlie Chaplin
The Death of Garcia Lorca
The Spanish Phalanx and Latin America
Garcia Lorca, A Life, by Ian Gibson:

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