I’ve been reading a recent biography of Franco, a relatively new one by a left-leaning pair of historians that purports to be neither a vicious condemnation of the evil fascist dictator nor a hagiography of the great nationalist hero. One-fifth of the way through, it does appear to be a fairly balanced presentation, even though the authors make it clear that they are men of the moderate Left.
One lesson that leaped out from the text is the intrinsic problem of allowing cuckservatives in positions of power. The problem of nominal centrists who a) are hostile to the Right and b) are soft on the Left is not exactly a new one.
Franco, ever an ordenancista, was appalled, believing that the president’s appeasement policy—so different from the adversarial relationship that Alcalá-Zamora adopted toward the moderate right—would only encourage revolutionism in the long term, with disastrous consequences. When the fighting still raged, he was quoted by the Italian chargé d’affaires as having told the latter that any failure to punish the insurrectionists firmly and fully would merely “encourage an early extremist response.” As events would reveal, the apolitical general understood his country’s political dynamics much better than the highly political president. Another extremist response was soon to follow.
In the perspective of contemporary European history, the repression of the revolutionary insurrection of October 1934 was comparatively mild. Key leaders were treated with leniency. Socialists were not proscribed unless they had been actively involved in the uprising, and most leftist deputies continued to sit in parliament. Within scarcely more than a year, full civil rights would be restored to all the left except for the imprisoned revolutionaries, and they would enjoy complete freedom to try to win at the ballot box what they had failed to achieve by violence. This formed a total contrast with the bloody repression of leftist insurrection in such countries as France, Germany, or Hungary. A case can be made that, in fact, the repression—far from being the atrocity alleged by the massive leftist propaganda campaign—was too limited and that only severe and successful prosecution of the revolutionaries would have made possible the survival of a parliamentary Republic.Franco: A Personal and Political Biography, Stanley G. Payne with Jesus Palacios\
It’s more than a little appalling to see how easily some of the great tragedies of the past could have been prevented, if only those with the power and the responsibility to take action had done so. One can’t help but read the history of the Spanish Civil War without seeing the way in which President Trump similarly failed to grasp the bull by the horns and take the necessary action when he had the opportunity and the ability to do so.
And other parallels between the leadup to the Spanish Civil War and the current situation in the USA are not only apparent, they are more than a little ominous.