Felipe VI reigns in Spain – but the only question is what will go first, the Spanish monarchy or Spain itself?
Felipe VI succeeded his father, King Juan Carlos I, who, as the English language media gleefully pointed out, was the successor of “dictator” Francisco Franco. Juan Carlos receives some credit from the chattering classes for facilitating the transition to “democracy” but the Spanish monarchy seems to be on the defensive these days.
The beginning of Felipe VI’s reign had an apologetic air. Indeed, it was a proclamation rather than an “enthronement” because of the fear of giving the wrong impression during an economic crisis. The crowd that greeted Felipe VI was paltry compared to those who cheered the Royal Wedding in Great Britain.
One wonders if Juan Carlos has any regrets. He was, after all, the man who initiated the transformation of Spain into just another regional jurisdiction of the European Union of the Last Men. Once the chosen one designated by Franco to protect the Nationalist victory in the Last Crusade and the successor who stood alongside the Caudillo to take the salute from tens of thousands of his countrymen, the King has now abdicated the throne, if not in disgrace, certainly diminished.
As of this writing, Madrid is gripped by protesters waving the tricolor flag of the Republic that Franco’s Nationalists defeated and demanding a referendum to abolish the monarchy altogether. The old hammer and sickle is again flying in Madrid, making one think of a quote attributed to the Caudillo – “One thing that I am sure of, and which I can answer truthfully, is that whatever the contingencies that may arise here, wherever I am there will be no Communism.” Well, he’s not there anymore.
Spain today is essentially a Bizarro version of the nation Franco tried to defend. While Franco’s Spain promoted a Catholic social conservatism, modern Spain is just another post-nation with post-Western liberal values, featuring gay marriage, abortion, and easy divorce laws. The “One, United, Great” Spain is on the brink of dissolution, with Catalonia attempting to hold a referendum on independence this year, and other regions (including the Basque country) perhaps preparing to follow.
Just like in many other formerly independent nations of Europe, “democracy” means the real decisions about the governance of Spain are made by international financiers and European Union regulators. Spanish unemployment is at 26 percent. Youth unemployment is an astonishing 56 percent.
Even this is a paradise compared to the Third World — but instead of administering a North African empire, the Spanish Army wages an inglorious and unappreciated struggle against a relentless tide of Africans seeking to overwhelm Spain through a never ending “Green March” of mass migration. Ten percent of the nation’s population is foreign-born. The legacy of the Reconquista is simply being given away. The Socialist government initiated an amnesty in 2005 – and Americans can tell you where that leads.
Also, just like every other post-Western country, Socialists in the Spanish government wage a relentless war against the past and reminders of the Franco era. While Nationalist monuments are removed, the memory of the Communist Left is lionized. Hundreds of foreigners from the Communist “International Brigades” received Spanish citizenship in 1996.
And like any civilized European country, Spain is re-evaluating its past from the standpoint of that all-important moral guideline – Was It Good for the Jews? A Spanish government official apologized for the Inquisition’s treatment of Jews at the “suggestion” of an Israel based nonprofit. Towns are being renamed. Sephardic Jews whose ancestors left Spain centuries ago are being offered citizenship. After all, there are plenty of jobs to go around.
The Caudillo fought for restoration of an Imperial Spain, the Catholic Spain of Ferdinand and Isabella, of Empire, hierarchy, and tradition. In his mind, that was the real Spain. But that Spain is gone. From the standpoint of his own stated goals — which is the only way we can judge historical actors — Franco’s efforts ended in failure. In Paul Preston’s sneering, borderline hysterical biography Franco, the author self-righteously brags that every year fewer and fewer of Franco’s supporters come out to salute his memory, and soon there will be none at all. While Spain may not reach such depths of degradation, it seems unlikely that the Caudillo will be remembered more favorably.
What is striking about contemporary Spain is precisely the lack of reaction to its collapse. While democratic Spain busies itself with various commissions and memorials to Franco’s supposed victims, it has failed an entire generation of Spanish youth. While Franco himself was hardly an economic genius, he did preside over the Spanish miracle was transformed the country into one of the leading economies of Europe and the world, meaning that by the materialistic standards of modernity, his Spain was far more successful than the contemporary state’s.
Yet for many Spanish youth, Franco, the monarchy, and the continued use of the Nationalist flag instead of the tricolor seems like a spiritual insult, a perpetuation of traditional forms that morally outrages those who only know a morality based on egalitarianism. If you believe all races are equal, you have to believe performance differences are caused by “racism,” so must you attack the unelected and elitist institution of monarchy when your precious democracy has run the country into the ground.
Among some conservatives and reactionaries, it is fashionable to praise monarchy as a check on democratic excesses. This is wishful thinking. Even if you are a kosher conservative “anti-fascist,” it was the King of Italy who delivered his country to Benito Mussolini. And if you are the more subversive reactionary who flirts with the Dark Enlightenment, the modern monarchies have hardly been a check on egalitarian rot. After all, if there is one nation where Orwellian state surveillance, anti-racist hysteria, demographic displacement, and cultural degradation exceed all others, it is Great Britain, and the royal line of the Hanover doesn’t seem to be doing much about it.
Some leftists are even advocating a monarch in countries like France so as to check Right-wing extremism. They might be right. Modern monarchy substitutes the form of Tradition and hierarchy for the substance, couching the power of financiers and politicians in more aesthetically pleasing symbolism. It subverts anti-System action from the Right and serves as a convenient scapegoat for egalitarian griping from the Left. Ultimately, it survives only insofar as it goes along with the egalitarian zeitgeist and even then may ultimately be abolished by liberal true believers. At its absolute best, it can do no more than hold the line.
No example is more instructive than that of Spain. Francisco Franco was a genius in quietly gathering power and displacing ideological rivals from rival generals, to monarchists, to Falangists. He skillfully distracted the monarchists eager to displace him. Part of this was through sheer brutality – Franco did not a lift a finger to save José Antonio Primo de Rivera when he was imprisoned by the Republicans. Though he borrowed Primo de Rivera’s prestige to further his regime, Franco eliminated much of the substance from the ideology and systematically gutted any independence in the Falange. Falangists who wanted the “revolution” promised by the yoke and arrows would wait until in vain until the end of the regime. Under Franco’s regime, the Falange functioned as Franco’s personal mass power base but lacked the ideological vision of its founder.
Franco’s tenure was a masterpiece from the standpoint of concentrating power, but after the Caudillo himself was gone, all the subtle political machinations or institutional arrangements could not provide a stable base for a permanent regime. The traditional sources of power for his regime faded with time. The Catholic Church, which once condemned democracy as a heresy, worked against his government in the 1970s, even apologizing for backing the Nationalists in the Civil War. The Socialist Party that Franco warred against inherited the government. And the hollowed-out Falange was incapable or unwilling to put up any kind or resistance to democratization. Today, the Falange holds small rallies, but isn’t much of a political force in the country.
It’s easy to imagine what Francisco Franco would think about all this. During the Civil War, Franco’s stately pace frustrated his German and Italian allies because he shied away from bold seizures of territory or Blitzkrieg-style lightning campaigns. Instead, he focused on taking territory and purging it of his Republican enemies. He was willing to squander military opportunities if it meant that he could inflict massive casualties on his Republican opponents. He waged a war of attrition designed to utterly exterminate every trace of the Spanish Republic – and its supporters. The Infante Juan I wanted to return to the throne to be the leader of all the Spanish people, but Franco reacted to this idea with scorn.
It is hardly possible to wage a more total, systematic, and complete anti-Leftist effort than that of the Nationalists under Franco. Political opponents were put into concentration camps. Subversive groups such as Freemasons were persecuted. There was no effort made at a phony national “reconciliation.” All Spaniards had to reconcile themselves to the Nationalist regime. Yet within a few short years after Franco’s death, those he fought bounced back stronger than ever. Despite the fact that they are proceeding to literally dismember the country and thus prove everything Franco said about was correct, the very totality of Franco’s victory is used to discredit his government and his accomplishments.
What Franco represents is the limitation of pure, anti-Left reaction. The road not taken in Spain was the path urged by José Antonio Primo de Rivera, who recognized that even in Spanish Republicanism and socialism were certain truths that had to be incorporated into an integral, nationalist creed. It was not an institution, a religion, or a political creed, but the upward development of the nation itself that was prized.
José Antonio Primo de Rivera stated, “Fascism was born to inspire a faith not of the Right (which at bottom aspires to conserve everything, even injustice) or of the Left (which at bottom aspires to destroy everything, even goodness), but a collective, integral, national faith.” He had utter disgust for the capitalist system that turns the worker into a dehumanized cog in the machinery of bourgeois production. His call for a particular type of individualist heroism to Spanish workers is just as relevant to today’s white cubicle-dweller beaten down by economic hardship, egalitarian propaganda, and a culture of consumerism. Instead, Primo de Rivera wanted to build an organic society of heroes. Franco’s transformation of the Falange into what author “Radbod” has called a “bureaucratic nationalist front” sapped any hope of an idea that could outlive Franco himself.
Julius Evola said, “For the authentic revolutionary conservative, what really counts is to be faithful not to past forms and institutions, but rather to principles of which such forms and institutions have been particular expressions, adequate for a specific period of time and in a specific geographical area.”
What the Falange represented was an attempt to use the greatest traditions of Spain’s past as a way to ennoble the entire society. It wasn’t simply “down with the Left,” but “up with Spain!” There would be no quarter for the Marxists who would destroy morality, nationality, and hierarchy, but neither would there be any false deference to capitalists who couldn’t see past the next financial quarter, or aristocrats who were bourgeois at heart despite centuries of noble ancestors.
But the Falangist vision was strangled at the moment of victory. Instead, Franco tried to shock life into a dead system and dead institutions. When he broke the Falange, he broke the very soul of the Nationalist movement and any hope of founding a Regime that could direct History, instead of merely defying it for a short time. Now even those remnants of Tradition such as the monarchy are threatened by the forces which Franco unwittingly unleashed in his purge of the revolutionary Right. In the long run, Franco may have defeated the Communists – only to make Spain safe for mass immigration, fast food companies, and the financial rule of London and New York. And even that may be the best case scenario, as the hard Left is constantly winning new support in the country.
The symbols of tradition are satisfying. I admit feeling pleasure at the thought of the Crown of Spain enduring and defying the tricolor. But it is this false comfort that is so dangerous. The form of Tradition should never be confused for the real thing. Hollow reaction can never defeat a faith – even if it is a false faith like that of the egalitarian Left.
It’s emotionally satisfying to cry, “Viva El Rey!” But Spanish patriots are better served with the old revolutionary cry of “José Antonio Primo de Rivera – Presente!” Francisco Franco won his last crusade – but the point of a crusade isn’t just military victory, but a victory of faith.