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June 5, 2013 1:05 PM   Subscribe

Erected just two years ago a Spanish Monument to the International Brigades has been ordered to be pulled down.
The lawyer who lodged the complaint stated "There is nothing to celebrate, and especially not in a public space devoted to education."
Amid scars of past conflict the Spanish far right is growing.

Today, as Google reminds us, is the 115th anniversary of the birth of Federico García Lorca.
posted by adamvasco (58 comments total) 15 users marked this as a favorite
 
That Francoists feel comfortable expressing themselves in public ought to put paid to the idea that you can "just move on" from authoritarian regimes the way Spain has tried to. Those who commit and support horrible atrocities must be ferreted out, exposed, and put to the harshest possible penalties, or else they will understand that there neither has been, nor will there ever be, consequences for their crimes against humanity.
posted by Pope Guilty at 1:09 PM on June 5, 2013 [22 favorites]


If it is knocked down in Madrid, they should build it again in Barcelona. Let them try to come and get it.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 1:11 PM on June 5, 2013 [26 favorites]


It's a place that really, really needs a truth and reconciliation commission.
posted by jaduncan at 1:14 PM on June 5, 2013 [8 favorites]


or else they will understand that there neither has been, nor will there ever be, consequences for their crimes against humanity.

They may well not even see them as crimes so much as actions that had to be taken to preserve the state.
posted by jaduncan at 1:19 PM on June 5, 2013 [2 favorites]


They may well not even see them as crimes so much as actions that had to be taken to preserve the state.

The Franco forces were fighting to overthrow the legitimately elected government.
posted by thelonius at 1:30 PM on June 5, 2013 [11 favorites]


from 30 JAN: Spain Bucks The Happiness Trend
Market and real economic divergence continues apace in the European periphery and, much like Italy, Spain is again showing worrying signs that further fiscal tightening is creating far more severe negative consequences than “expected”.
I wonder if this is what they meant by "negative consequence"?
posted by the man of twists and turns at 1:33 PM on June 5, 2013


The Franco forces were fighting to overthrow the legitimately elected government.

But but... COMMUNISTS!!!1!
posted by acb at 1:34 PM on June 5, 2013 [2 favorites]


They may well not even see them as crimes so much as actions that had to be taken to preserve the state.

The Franco forces were fighting to overthrow the legitimately elected government.


"The state" != "the government"

I'm not saying they were correct, but the backers of every coup claim that their rule will be better for the country (or at least, the part they consider "the country," which generally doesn't include some sort of undesirable group).
posted by Etrigan at 1:34 PM on June 5, 2013 [3 favorites]


The Franco forces were fighting to overthrow the legitimately elected government.

That was going to eventually:

1) Seize private property
2) Imprison the ( god fearing / patriotic / conservative / traditionalist / whatever ) element
3) [imaginary conservative hobgoblin number 3...]
4) etc.. etc...

/hamburger


I've yet to see any kind of horrific coup that the right wingers can't somehow twist themselves into justifying as long as they aren't the targets of said coup.
posted by BrotherCaine at 1:35 PM on June 5, 2013 [3 favorites]


I doubt if the Left will get very far if they try and get rid of the Valley of the Fallen.
In 2007, the government passed the Historical Memory Law, granting victims of the war and dictatorship formal rehabilitation and compensation.
All remaining monuments to Francoism were to be removed. The present ruling PP party refused to back the Bill..
The only investigating judge who might have had a chance fighting this was probably Baltasar Garzon (see previous) presently sidelined but who has been cleared of two of the three political cases bought against him.
posted by adamvasco at 1:38 PM on June 5, 2013


as long as they aren't the targets of said coup

Meanwhile, bike sharing scheme = totalitarianism.
posted by dhartung at 1:41 PM on June 5, 2013 [12 favorites]


1) Seize private property
2) Imprison the ( god fearing / patriotic / conservative / traditionalist / whatever ) element
3) [imaginary conservative hobgoblin number 3...]


4) Bring in nationalised health-care
5) Force people to use public transport with the rabble
posted by acb at 1:42 PM on June 5, 2013 [2 favorites]


Man, the next 10-15 years in Europe are going to be...interesting...to watch.
That's "interesting" as used in the curse "May you live in interesting times."
posted by Thorzdad at 1:46 PM on June 5, 2013


It's depressing to me that human memory is so short. The Europe of the 2010s is a bit too eerily similar to the Europe of the early 1930s for my liking...
posted by stenseng at 1:50 PM on June 5, 2013 [4 favorites]


Man, the next 10-15 years in Europe are going to be...interesting...to watch.

/crosses fingers and hopes they get boring again.
posted by Artw at 1:52 PM on June 5, 2013 [3 favorites]


Was Stalin really responsible for the international brigades?
posted by corb at 1:54 PM on June 5, 2013


Was Stalin really responsible for the international brigades?

Short answer: Oh hell no.
posted by ominous_paws at 1:57 PM on June 5, 2013 [7 favorites]


Was Stalin really responsible for the international brigades?

It's the one-drop-of-pee-in-a-pool theory of Communist demonology. If you find one Communist, or one trace of Marxist ideas, in a group, that entire group becomes Communist-by-association, and thus a legitimate target to be destroyed before they destroy Everything We Hold Dear. Hence the Franco regime, the disappearances in Latin America, &c. are “regrettable necessities”.
posted by acb at 1:57 PM on June 5, 2013 [11 favorites]


You're gonna shit when you find out who was backing Franco.
posted by Artw at 1:57 PM on June 5, 2013 [27 favorites]


Was Stalin really responsible for the international brigades?

No. Maurice Thorez, the French Communist came up with the idea. Stalin supported it because they were in the "Popular Front" phase, until Stalin then allied with Hitler and attacked the Social Democrats in Europe.
posted by Ironmouth at 1:59 PM on June 5, 2013 [4 favorites]


The Franco forces were fighting to overthrow the legitimately elected government.

Well, the main movers and shakers in the Nationalist coalition didn't really believe that elections confer legitimacy, and their ideological descendents still don't, so this argument doesn't hold much water with them.

Also, the term "Franco forces" doesn't really communicate that the Nationalists were a diverse anti-government group that included republican (but not democratic) Falangists, Alfonsist monarchists, Carlist monarchists, and a whole slew of weirdo right-wing Catholic groups who had less fully-formed views apart from Church-good/Marxism-bad.
posted by snottydick at 2:00 PM on June 5, 2013 [3 favorites]


Yeah, I didn't think so, but that might be because I hang out with a lot of anarchists, so I've always thought of them as kind of more-anarchist-than-communist.
posted by corb at 2:00 PM on June 5, 2013


I'm reminded of this:
From somewhere in the auditorium, someone cried out the motto "¡Viva la Muerte!" As was his habit, Millán-Astray responded with "¡España!"; the crowd replied with "¡Una!" He repeated "¡España!"; the crowd then replied "¡Grande!" A third time, Millán-Astray shouted "¡España!"; the crowd responded "¡Libre!" This was a common Falangist cheer. Later, a group of uniformed Falangists entered, saluting the portrait of Franco that hung on the wall.

Unamuno, who was presiding over the meeting, rose up slowly and addressed the crowd: "You are waiting for my words. You know me well, and know I cannot remain silent for long. Sometimes, to remain silent is to lie, since silence can be interpreted as assent. I want to comment on the so-called speech of Professor Maldonado, who is with us here. I will ignore the personal offence to the Basques and Catalonians. I myself, as you know, was born in Bilbao. The Bishop," Unamuno gestured to the Archbishop of Salamanca, "Whether you like it or not, is Catalan, born in Barcelona. But now I have heard this insensible and necrophilous oath, "¡Viva la Muerte!", and I, having spent my life writing paradoxes that have provoked the ire of those who do not understand what I have written, and being an expert in this matter, find this ridiculous paradox repellent. General Millán-Astray is an invalid. There is no need for us to say this with whispered tones. He is an invalid of war. So was Cervantes. But unfortunately, Spain today has too many invalids. And, if God does not help us, soon it will have very many more. It torments me to think that General Millán-Astray might dictate the norms of the psychology of the masses. It should be expected from a mutilated who lacks the spiritual greatness of Cervantes to find horrible solace in seeing how the number of mutilated ones multiplies around him."

Millán-Astray reportedly responded: "¡Muera la inteligencia! ¡Viva la Muerte!" ("Death to intelligence! Long live death!"), provoking applause from the Falangists. Pemán, in an effort to calm the crowd, exclaimed "¡No! ¡Viva la inteligencia! ¡Mueran los malos intelectuales!" ("No! Long live intelligence! Death to the bad intellectuals!")

Unamuno continued: "This is the temple of intelligence, and I am its high priest. You are profaning its sacred domain. You will win, because you have enough brute force. But you will not convince. In order to convince it is necessary to persuade, and to persuade you will need something that you lack: reason and right in the struggle. I see it is useless to ask you to think of Spain. I have spoken." Millán-Astray, controlling himself, shouted "Take the lady's arm!" Unamuno took Carmen Polo by the arm and left in her protection.
posted by Ironmouth at 2:01 PM on June 5, 2013 [13 favorites]


Corb: Please read Homage to Catalonia by George Orwell, about his time in the International Brigades. It's got a LOT about the difference between Stalinism/State Communism and Socialism/Social Anarchy, etc., which is what defined the IB.
posted by klangklangston at 2:01 PM on June 5, 2013 [9 favorites]


And fuck the Fascists. Seriously. It breaks my heart to see Spain moving further right again.
posted by klangklangston at 2:04 PM on June 5, 2013 [11 favorites]


corb see here and here.
posted by adamvasco at 2:04 PM on June 5, 2013


The Franco forces were fighting to overthrow the legitimately elected government.

The essence of the state often isn't viewed as equivalent to the government, as the ideological Turkish or Pakistani army coups would make clear.
posted by jaduncan at 2:11 PM on June 5, 2013


And here I thought Franco was still dead...
posted by cacofonie at 2:21 PM on June 5, 2013 [2 favorites]


I think it's more accurate to say that Franco et al were fighting to defend the interests of large landowners and the Church, than that they were fighting to defend the State. I suppose they may habe seem those interests as coextensive, though.
posted by thelonius at 2:28 PM on June 5, 2013 [2 favorites]


> Was Stalin really responsible for the international brigades?

Short answer: Yes, I'm afraid so. Look, I cut my teeth on stories of the heroic volunteers leaving everything behind to fight the fascists, but no serious historian now doubts that the Brigades were formed and run under the aegis of the Comintern (which was, of course, entirely Kremlin-controlled) and policed brutally by the NKVD (the latest incarnation of the Cheka/KGB). If there's serious pushback on this, I can get some references for you, but really, I'm surprised I have to even say it. It's a goddam shame that the USSR was the only entity interested (for its own selfish reasons, of course) in helping the resistance to Franco, but that was the case, and it did so entirely on its own terms, which invoved complete control of every aspect of the fight, including killing anyone who tried to dispute their control. Orwell is good on this as a contemporary involved observer, but there's been lots and lots of serious history since.
posted by languagehat at 2:31 PM on June 5, 2013 [4 favorites]


Presumably they'll want to go over to the art gallery next and tear down Guernica, the filthy fascist fucks.
posted by Artw at 2:35 PM on June 5, 2013


languagehat is technically correct, but people tend to conflate the International Brigades as formal structures, with the international volunteers who served in the war. The International Brigades were formed to organize the various volunteer units (such as the Abraham Lincoln Brigade or the Mackenzie-Papineau Battalion) that had been created in volunteers' home countries, by the local communist parties (under the aegis of Comintern), and other left-wing parties. Additionally, many international volunteers (George Orwell among them) came to Spain independently and joined various of the militias aligned with local left-wing parties (POUM, PSUC, FAI-CNT, etc.).

In fact it was the efforts of the Communists to re-organize the international volunteers under the International Brigades, while also trying to bring the militias in line with a more regular, communist-controlled military apparatus (while purging non-conformist elements), that led to much of the factional street fighting described by Orwell in the second half of Homage To Catalonia. For Orwell, this was a major component in Stalin's betrayal of the Spanish Revolution.

Nevertheless, I don't think this diminishes the genuine commitment to democracy and anti-fascism that motivated most of the volunteers themselves.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 2:49 PM on June 5, 2013 [16 favorites]


"Right-wing outrage"? Let's call it what it is: Fascist outrage. Meanwhile the Valle de los Caídos is still standing tall.
posted by ob at 2:50 PM on June 5, 2013 [3 favorites]


> Nevertheless, I don't think this diminishes the genuine commitment to democracy and anti-fascism that motivated most of the volunteers themselves.

No, of course not, and I certainly hope my remarks weren't taken that way. Had I been born a few decades earlier, I might well have been one of them, and you can flip a coin as to whether I would have been killed by a fascist or Soviet bullet.

> languagehat is technically correct

I'm having a button made up with this text, and I'm considering it for my tombstone.
posted by languagehat at 2:56 PM on June 5, 2013 [30 favorites]


And even if the monument ultimately does celebrate an organization that was a creature of Comintern, I'm still for it if it outrages the fascists.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 2:57 PM on June 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


A couple of weeks ago, the Madrid government's representative in Catalonia decorated a group of veterans of the División Azul, those who volunteered to join the Nazi army to fight for Hitler. The Interior Minister came out a few days later to defend her against the general outrage she managed to provoke. The danger in Spain isn't the emergence of a new far-right party like in Greece. It comes from the franquista wing of the ruling party.
posted by fuzz at 3:00 PM on June 5, 2013 [2 favorites]


The Franco forces were fighting to overthrow the legitimately elected government.

And we have been witnessing huge upwellings of discontent by the Greeks, the Turks, and other nations, against their legitimately elected governments, that thankfully have not yet escalated to what happened in Spain in the 1930's. Elections are a dog's breakfast that doesn;t always come close to the people's will.
posted by ocschwar at 3:45 PM on June 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


I hate the memory-hole aspect of all of this. I hate that this monument's going/gone just like I hated the destruction of the Francoist statutes and monuments. The Civil War was a shameful period all around, for all sides involved. Clamoring for the destruction of the opposing side's murals by whoever's in power in Spain in these post-Franco years is just continuing to fight the war---it's still shameful.
posted by resurrexit at 3:50 PM on June 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


I just realized the law was literally called the "Ley de Memoria Histórica."
posted by resurrexit at 3:52 PM on June 5, 2013


Just remember that the farthest of the Spanish right wing would want a re-empowered king acting as defender of the faith.

The current Spanish king and the current Pope make this not much of a threat.

And as for the battle of memory, we Americans are STILL arguing over monuments to veterans of the Great Unpleasantness, including ones who kept on murdering after the surrender of General Lee. (See Forrest Park in Memphis right now)
posted by ocschwar at 3:54 PM on June 5, 2013


Franco is still dead.
Chevy Chase is off 'Community'.
Jon Stewart is taking the summer off.
languagehat is technically correct.

And everywhere there is a legitimately elected government, somebody is trying to overthrow it. It's just the ones backed by the US that have a better shot of succeeding.
posted by oneswellfoop at 5:25 PM on June 5, 2013


ARGH
posted by thsmchnekllsfascists at 8:27 PM on June 5, 2013


but no serious historian now doubts that the Brigades were formed and run under the aegis of the Comintern (which was, of course, entirely Kremlin-controlled) and policed brutally by the NKVD (the latest incarnation of the Cheka/KGB)

This is less than 100% accurate. What happened was national communist parties sent people over. Some were Communists and some were not. Where the NKVD came in was that non-Communists would be interviewed to make certain they were not plants for the Francoists.

The other thing is that the "International Brigades" were only the units directly supported by the Comintern and the USSR. Other brigades from other countries also fought: Germans from the Thälmann Battalion, Italians from Centuria Gastone Sozzi and French from Commune de Paris Battalion. These were not recruited or paid for by the Comintern, and were international in character, but were not the "International Brigades."

The history of international involvement in the Spanish Civil War is complex. In the end, the Soviets played a large role because they sent equipment as well.
posted by Ironmouth at 8:52 PM on June 5, 2013 [3 favorites]


Where the NKVD came in was that non-Communists would be interviewed to make certain they were not plants for the Francoists.

Really?
This excerpt from Wikipedia suggests their role was much more involved bloody than that.
Spanish Civil War [edit]
During the Spanish Civil War, NKVD agents, acting in conjunction with the Communist Party of Spain, exercised substantial control over the Republican government, using Soviet military aid to help further Soviet influence. The NKVD established numerous secret prisons around Madrid, which were used to detain, torture, and kill hundreds of the NKVD's enemies, at first focusing on Spanish Nationalists and Spanish Catholics, while from late 1938 increasingly anarchists and Trotskyists were the objects of persecution. In June, 1937 Andrés Nin, the secretary of the Trotskyst POUM, was tortured and killed in an NKVD prison.
posted by dougzilla at 9:43 PM on June 5, 2013


Here is a better cite, describing the NKVD/Stalin's role in Spain.
Stalinism and After: The Road to Gorbachev By Alec Nove (page 65)

That having been said, I am in total agreement with WhiteSkull's comment above.
Nevertheless, I don't think this diminishes the genuine commitment to democracy and anti-fascism that motivated most of the volunteers themselves.
posted by dougzilla at 10:11 PM on June 5, 2013


The turn to the Right in Spain is worrying but it never really went away.
The Falange still marches. (Nov 2012),
Also it has recently been uncovered that an ultra rightist responsible for one of the most notorious murders in Spain is currently employed by the country’s interior ministry as a security expert. (El Pais).
posted by adamvasco at 3:28 AM on June 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


Do you know what'd make awesome street art? Small plaques commemorating various anti-facists posted appropriately throughout Spain, ala Invader.
posted by jeffburdges at 5:21 AM on June 6, 2013


Does the mainstream conservative party openly speak of Franco as a founding father of the tradition they are in/a giant on whose shoulders they stand/someone whom Spain should be proud of, or is it still something considered sufficiently beyond the pale to be dog-whistled only?
posted by acb at 6:13 AM on June 6, 2013


acb they don't praise him openly but they want the legacy kept alive. Also see fuzz's comment above.
posted by adamvasco at 6:56 AM on June 6, 2013


Is modern Spain emphatically Not A Continuation of Franco's Spain, in the way that the Bundesrepublik Deutschland is not a continuation of the Third Reich or the DDR, or is it more ambiguous?
posted by acb at 8:18 AM on June 6, 2013


> What happened was national communist parties sent people over.

And you're under the impression national communist parties were independent of the Kremlin?
posted by languagehat at 9:22 AM on June 6, 2013 [2 favorites]


Is modern Spain emphatically Not A Continuation of Franco's Spain, in the way that the Bundesrepublik Deutschland is not a continuation of the Third Reich or the DDR, or is it more ambiguous?

It's a little more ambiguous. "Social Francoism" remains a force in Spanish politics, and the transition from dictatorship to democracy was not as complete as one might have hoped. No one was prosecuted for war crimes. The king, whom Franco mentored, still won't hear a bad word about him. The policy was basically to try to forget what had been done.

This is what I understand from my class on Spanish politics, which was broad, introductory, and conducted in Spanish. Take all this with a shaker of salt.
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 9:29 AM on June 6, 2013 [1 favorite]




And you're under the impression national communist parties were independent of the Kremlin?

Some were, some weren't. The POUM was attacked by the Stalinist communists specifically because they were a communist party that refused to act as an arm of the USSR.
posted by Pope Guilty at 10:50 PM on June 6, 2013 [1 favorite]










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