Hello again from Robert, better know as randomliberal. As I said in my one post during Project Guest Blog, I am a college student at Texas Christian University in Fort Worth, TX. I’m a political science major with a minor (possibly a double-major…depends on how long I want to be in school) in history. I work in the TCU library moving books around; while I am working, I tend to get distracted and pick up interesting looking books and start reading. Sometimes the books are interesting enough to actually check out and read more thoroughly.
The most recent of those books is A Time of Silence: Civil War and the Culture of Repression in Franco’s Spain, 1936-1945 by Michael Richards. Before reading this book, I had very little knowledge of the Spanish Civil War, beyond the fact that the Fascists won. A Time of Silence details the actions of the rebellion, led by General Francisco Franco, as they used violence to quash opposition in rebel-controlled areas of Spain. It also tells of the beginnings of the nationalist movement that led to the original failed coup attempt, which led to the civil war.
The nationalist/fascist movement was supported by two main Spanish elements: big business and the Spanish Catholic Church. Since the Republican Revolution of the early 20th century, the Church had been warning of moral decay among the populace. The liberal, capitalist, Republican system was causing the people, at least in the urban areas, to believe that they no longer needed the Church in order to be happy. The fascist movement promised a return to the good old days of hierarchy and forced religiosity if they won the war. Franco presented himself as the 2nd coming of Queen Isabel (only more masculine), who unified Spain in the late 15th century and proceded to kick out or kill everyone who wasn’t Catholic and European (ie, the Jews and the Moors who lived in the south). He promised that he would restore morality to Spain, and severely punish all who did not follow.
As a part of this new-old Spain, Franco lifted up
the Spanish peasantry as the mass embodiment of immortal religious and racial virtues, militarism and martial values, the negation of liberalism, socialism and feminism, and the idea of a national unity and a spiritual and material resurgence based on myths of empire, Reconquest and Counter-Reformation.
However, after the Civil War ended and the fascists, with Franco at the head, came to power, the peasants were virtually ignored. The new Spanish government did nothing for the masses, instead giving businesses carte blanche over their employees. Wages plummeted even as prices rose. Workers were even denied the right to organize, as unions were seen as socialist.
This is an excellent book for anyone who wants to learn more about the rise of fascism in Spain, or even if you are simply looking for a book on how fascism rises anywhere. I have also found it a little…disconcerting…but I am going to let this semi-review stand on its own for now.
PS–Thank you very much, Lauren, for allowing me to raid your blog for a few days. Since you told me to plug my blog, here it is: Random Liberal & Small Town Liberal.