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Post Spanish Communists and Culpability
Created by John Eipper on 02/16/20 4:18 AM

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Spanish Communists and Culpability (Eugenio Battaglia, Italy, 02/16/20 4:18 am)

In response to Jordi Molins, Paul Preston, and John E, oh my goodness.  The Spanish Communists have enough criminal guilt without looking for collective guilt from Italy, Yugoslavia, the USSR, Vietnam and so on. Moreover, they started first, and the others reacted.

JE comments:  The "who started it" argument has a schoolyard ring to it, but there is ample evidence that the Falange, the military, the church, and others were undermining the Republic far earlier than 1936.  Most alarmingly, it was not the communists they were scheming against, but rather a democratic (however imperfect) government.

Granted, the "victor's justice" imposed on the Italian people after WWII was largely carried out by the communist ex-partisans.  Franco's wrath was from the opposite political camp, lasted far longer, and was backed up by the full power of the state.

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  • Murdered Spanish Falangists; Largo Caballero as the "Spanish Lenin" (Eugenio Battaglia, Italy 02/21/20 3:14 AM)
    John E took issue with my statement of February 16th; namely, that the "[Spanish Communists] acted first." John described the Republican government as "rather democratic."  My response:

    1) The Falange was founded on 29 October 1933 as a normal political party which embraced a social policy, as in the original and final versions of Italian fascism, in favor of the producers oppressed by the suppliers of capital, but at the same time seeking a collaboration among the classes under national direction.

    On 2 November 1933, the "rojos" killed their first Falangist victim, José Luis de la Hermosa. On 19 November José Antonio Primo de Rivera was the only Falangist elected to Parliament.  Another three Falangists were killed when promoting their new newspaper. Again on 9 February 1934 a Falangist student was killed by supporters of the Socialist party (PSOE).

    Finally on 20 November 1936 José Antonio after being arrested was assassinated by the rojos.

    2) Francisco Largo Caballero, whose followers called him the "Lenin español," was minister of Labor and Security 1931-1933, then leader in 1934 of the rebellion in Asturias. He finally was Prime Minister of the Spanish Republic from 4 September 1936 until 17 May 1937.

    Among many other statements, he is remembered for the following two quotes:

    a) "I want a Republic without class conflict, but to achieve this one class shall disappear."

    b) In Cadiz in May 1936 he stated, "I want a dictatorship of the proletariat."

    So much for a "rather democratic" government!

    JE comments:  We'll never resolve the "who started it" argument to everyone's satisfaction.

    A question about "rojos/reds":  it's derogatory and certainly old-fashioned.  Eugenio, is the term still widely understood as "leftist" in Italy?  I would venture that my Millennial students no longer make the connection, especially because "Red State" in the US has come to mean Republican.

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    • The Spanish Civil War Had No "Franz Ferdinand" Moment (Jordi Molins, -Spain 02/21/20 7:43 AM)
      WAISers have been discussing who the culprit of the Spanish Civil War was.

      I do not know who the "Archduke Franz Ferdinand" equivalent was. What I know is that the normal average Spaniard was poor and oppressed by a minority of people, who had massive and undeserved power. In my family, and from many others, I heard many stories of unnecessary and intense pain, in order for the privileged to keep their positions. It was a society of extractive institutions, institutions created to artificially keep the economic and social differentiation between an elite and the rest.

      As a consequence, the seeds of conflict were already planted. And in that regard, the culprit was one side of the conflict, not both. Who killed first is of little interest, in the same way that usually we do not care who pushes the first piece in a domino, but only who and how put the dominoes were set up in the first place.

      Just for transparency: I believe the Communists did exactly the same thing in Eastern Europe. The problem is not Fascism, Francoism or Communism. The problem is collectivism.

      JE comments:  This irenic interpretation from Jordi Molins is just what Dr Eipper ordered!  Can we declare a short truce in Spain? 

      Interestingly, when it comes to Franz Ferdinand moments, almost no conflicts in history had such a thing--an individual death (well, two deaths) leading to a cataclysmic war.  To be sure, even the Franz Ferdinand and Sophie assassinations did not "demand" war.  As the brilliant Barbara Tuchman wrote, war broke out in 1914 because peace had become intolerable.  (I've put this quote on WAIS before.  It bears repeating from time to time.)

      Is the problem collectivism, or totalitarianism?  How about simple injustice?

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