It is rare for a magazine of political thought to survive for forty years—that is almost three generations. A lot of water has passed under the bridge since the founding of the leading Hispanic conservative magazine Razón Española in 1983, but this exceptional longevity deserves to be highlighted. Throughout this period, “RE” has been a veritable miracle. I said it ten years ago, and I repeat it today. The magazine was born in an extremely hostile context, both politically and intellectually, at the start of the long socialist period (1983-1996). At the time, there was a right-wing party represented by Alianza Popular which, after the demise of the Union of the Democratic Center and the defeat of late October 1982, was on the defensive, ashamed of its status as a right-wing party and anxious to define itself above all as “centerist.” Not for nothing was ex-minister Manuel Fraga, with his usual rudimentary expressions, the first Spanish politician of the time to attempt to theorize the political “center.” Of course, nobody believed him because of his Franco past. It took the emergence of a man as empty, without substance or ideas, as Adolfo Suárez, for the “center” to impose itself in the Spanish political arena, with the consequences that we know today for the whole of society.
For all these reasons, Razón Española has suffered, from the outset, from obvious media, social, political and economic marginalization. Not only from the left, but also from the right. The Alianza Popular refused to acknowledge its existence; it founded a magazine, Veintiuno, an organ of the Cánovas del Castillo Foundation, which soon disappeared without a trace; its political heir, the Partido Popular, also failed to carry out any rigorous or even remotely effective work in terms of debating ideas. The PP abolished the Cánovas del Castillo Foundation to create the Foundation for Social Studies and Analysis (FAES), which proved incapable of providing the party with any kind of coherent ideology. Its organ, Cuadernos de Pensamiento Político, failed to rise to the challenge of the cultural war. Its historical frame of reference remained the Spain of the Restoration (1874-1931), even if, in the erratic wake inaugurated by José María Aznar, it did not spare its “extemporaneous” praise for the minister and president of the republic, Manuel Azaña.
Razón Española was even subjected to a permanent and disgusting smear campaign by Christian Democrat historians such as Javier Tusell Gómez, who publicly demanded in the press, particularly in the Socialist newspaper El País, that it should not be financed by banks and businessmen. But it is also true that today, nobody remembers this mediocre author.
In such an unfavorable context, the normal thing to do would have been to throw in the towel and disappear. Fortunately, this was not to be. Against all odds, the magazine managed to survive and, above all, to unite nearly three generations of intellectuals of often very different sensibilities, united by a clear defense of the traditional worldview. How can we explain this miracle of longevity? In my opinion, there are two main reasons.
Firstly, it is thanks to the energy, will and “charisma” of its founder, Gonzalo Fernández de la Mora y Mon, whose figure and work once served as a binding force, a knot for the magazine’s contributors. His intellectual, personal and moral vigor largely explains the survival of Razón Española, which the Catalan journalist Josep Maria Ruíz Simón once described as “Don Gonzalo’s forge.”
Secondly, it is thanks to the will of its contributors who, free of charge, defying silence, danger and disqualification, decided to collaborate in its pages. For many, including myself, this collaboration was a veritable “catharsis,” a challenge to the prevailing “political correctness;” the conquest, in short, of an authentic space of intellectual freedom. For all of them, RE was the magazine in which it was finally possible to write and say what could not be written or said in most of Spain’s political and intellectual journals. And, alas, we are still here.
Despite its economic, political and media marginalization, Razón Española has, I believe, succeeded in making significant contributions to Spanish conservative thought. As a historian of ideas, I would like to mention just a few.
Firstly, Gonzalo Fernández de la Mora’s exposition of his “razonalista” (“reasonalist” or “reasoning”) philosophy and the political-intellectual project contained in his works. I am referring to La partitocracia (The Partitocracy)—a truly prophetic book—La envidia igualitaria (Egalitarian Envy), Los teóricos izquierdistas de la democracia orgánica, (The Left Theorists of Organic Democracy), Los errores del cambio (The Errors of Political Change), El hombre en desazón (Man in Distress) and Sobre la felicidad (On Happiness).
Secondly, his critical analysis of the current political system, born of the 1978 Constitution, based on his denunciation of partitocracy, the state of autonomous regions, the openly secessionist tendencies of peripheral Catalan and Basque nationalism, the weak political functionality of the monarchy, etc.
Thirdly, his critique of left-wing ideologies. Not only of Marxism, now in decline, but also of what Jean Bricmont has called the “moral Left,” centered not on projects of economic and social transformation, but on the defense of radical feminism, woke culture, so-called alternative sexualities, the stigmatization of demonological and imaginary fascism, racism, xenophobia or a generic “far right.” To put it in Marxist language, the “moral Left” appeals to consciousness rather than to social being, to superstructure rather than infrastructure. The fiscal crisis that began to manifest itself in Europe three decades ago, the end of the “Cold War” and the need for competitiveness engendered by economic globalization have, as we know, led to the obsolescence of the traditional discourse of the Left, including that of social democracy, and to the acceptance of the free market economy, in its neoliberal variant. As Marxist philosopher Nancy Frazer has denounced, the current politics of the entire European and North American Left, championed by the Democratic Party, can be conceptualized as “progressive neoliberalism,” i.e., ultra-liberal economic policies and escapist cultural policies. The current Spanish PP is not far from this political horizon in its day-to-day practice.
Fourthly, the development of alternatives to the 1978 system, summarized in Gonzalo Fernández de la Mora’s article “Las contradicciones de la partitocracia” (“The contradictions of partitocracy”), published in Razón Española. This article advocated, among other measures, the independence of the various powers, the internal democratization of parties, the breaking of the partitocratic monopoly of political representation, the prohibition of party discipline, secret voting, the representation of social interests, referendums, single-member constituencies, open lists and the control of members of the political class. He also defended the presidential republic, opposed to partitocracy, and the defense of the market economy.
Fifthly, it criticized the policies of “historical memory” supported by the Spanish left as a whole.
Sixth, the insistence on the primacy of ideas and the cultural struggle against economic determinism, on both the Right and the Left. Today, as we have already pointed out, a sector of the Left has transformed its intellectual horizon, becoming “idealist” or “culturalist,” while a certain Right has converted to the most static and materialistic economism. Not for nothing did the social-democrat Luis García San Miguel speak of Marxist-Thacherians some years ago. The PP is a striking example of this.
Seventh, the recovery of authors considered “cursed” by today’s politico-cultural-media system, such as Ramiro de Maeztu, Eugenio D’Ors, Marcelino Menéndez Pelayo, Rafael García Serrano, Joaquín Costa, Eugenio Montes, Ernesto Giménez Caballero, Aquilino Duque, Carl Schmitt, and so on.
And, eighthly, the critique of so-called “centrism,” i.e., the politics of “consensus,” in favor of a politics of “agonistic pluralism” (Chantal Mouffe).
When it comes to taking stock of these forty years, what can we learn from them? In my opinion, for the sake of coherence and realism, this assessment must be ambivalent.
On the one hand, it must be stressed that most of the diagnoses of Spain’s socio-political situation defended in the magazine have been confirmed. After a relatively long period of euphoria, triumphalism and obtuse optimism, the flaws inherent in the 1978 regime have become apparent. There is no doubt that some, starting with the PP elites, have not yet understood this, and are acting as if nothing had happened, nostalgic for a “consensus” which, in reality, never existed, because it masked a clear hegemony of the Left on a global scale. They will realize this one day; but, as usual, they will realize it late and badly. For several years now, the most aware minds in Spanish society have been realizing that many historical problems, thought to have been overcome, have reappeared in broad daylight with singular virulence.
The religious question is still topical, even if the Catholic Church has unquestionably ceased to be an important social and moral force. The Catholic Church retains many social, economic and symbolic advantages, but its role is increasingly marginal. Perhaps it is the persistence of its old privileges, which prevent it from exercising its pastoral work more effectively in the face of a state which defines itself as non-denominational, but which in everyday practice, through its legislation, acts as an aggressively secular body. Perhaps a freer Church, with fewer state commitments, could be more effective in its public function. Whatever the case, it seems clear to me that Spanish society has entered the historical period that the Italian philosopher Augusto del Noce called “natural irreligion,” i.e., a spiritual attitude characterized by absolute relativism, where all ideas are considered in relation to the psychological and social situation of those who assert them and, consequently, valued from a utilitarian point of view, as a stimulus for life. Catholics have been unable to prevent legislation on abortion, euthanasia or homosexual marriage. More importantly, when the PP came to power, these laws were not abolished or even reformed. What is more, as we saw recently with Alberto Núñez Feijóo, the PP has taken them on board, making them virtually irreversible. For a consistent Catholic, today’s Spain is undoubtedly a land of mission. That said, issues such as abortion, euthanasia, radical feminism, woke culture, etc. are not essentially confessional; they are negative in themselves, irrespective of religious beliefs. Indeed, there are even theologians, such as the ineffable Juan José Tamayo, who agree with these ideas, asserting that Christian ethics is the heir to Epicurus. Nothing less. In any case, these issues can also be criticized from a secular and agnostic perspective, although the collaboration of Catholics continues to be important here. Another question, that of the form of government, does not seem to have found a definitive solution either—far from it. In June 2014, Juan Carlos I was forced to give way to his son Felipe VI. The institution and its figure have not withstood the erosion of criticism over the king’s tumultuous private life, the corruption of certain members of the royal family and, most importantly, obvious political inefficiency. As has often been asserted in the pages of Razón Española, we must demand that the monarchical institution be legitimate not only in its origin, but also in its exercise, especially in the defense of national unity, which is increasingly under threat.
Similarly, as the magazine also prophesied, the failure of the political decentralization model is now obvious. Not only has the autonomous state failed to integrate peripheral Catalan and Basque nationalisms, it has also encouraged and consolidated secessionist aspirations. It has also entailed excessive economic costs, making it unviable in the medium term. Finally, its intrinsic dialectic leads to “confederalization” or fragmentation. This process has historically vindicated those who, in the speeches preceding approval of the constitutional text, such as Fernández de la Mora and López Rodó, opposed the autonomist pseudo-solution. The 1978 regime was incapable of creating an integrating symbolism as an expression of national unity. Today, it may be too late.
During these nightmarish years (from the late 1970s onwards), Spain became one of Europe’s most de-industrialized countries, under the guise of integration into the European Economic Community. A process that must one day be analyzed rationally and without triumphalism. Industry’s share of GDP has fallen from 39% in 1975 to 19% today. On this point, see the economic articles by professor and academic Juan Velarde in the magazine. In addition, what has come to be known as the “Spanish demographic winter,” denounced and analyzed in the magazine by Alejandro Macarrón, fundamentally calls into question, among other things, social and cultural continuity and the foundations of the social state.
At the same time, the crisis of representativeness of the political system has worsened. Today, the liberal-democratic model is in crisis, as it is in all Western countries, due to the process of economic globalization and the questioning of the nation-state model. The current political system appears to the Spanish population as a whole to be closed, oligarchic and crudely partitocratic. The two hegemonic parties, the PSOE and the PP, along with peripheral nationalist parties, have, as Fernández de la Mora predicted, colonized all institutions. Partitocracy has reached such a degree of extremism that, as these lines are being written, the country’s political stability depends on the will of a fugitive or convict like Carles Puigdemont, who, at the rate things are going, God forbid, will become the next Catalan president. We do not even know whether it will be the Generalitat or a possible independent Catalan Republic. We have reached the highest level of political cynicism, with Pedro Sánchez, but the horizon is still open to greater heights of ignominy. In fact, I have no confidence whatsoever in the so-called political alternative represented, it is said, by Alberto Núñez Feijóo, the acolyte of his compatriot Mariano Rajoy Brey. With the PP, anything is possible, but especially the worst.
Despite their lucidity, or perhaps because of it, the diagnoses and solutions defended in the pages of Razón Española have not been listened to or followed by the political and media elites who claim to be conservatives. Nevertheless, we are now witnessing a clear renewal of the conservative political camp, which may be more receptive to our messages in the future. In any case, the cultural battle goes on.
Pedro Carlos González Cuevas is a Spanish historian and professor of the history of political ideas at UNED, Madrid. This article appears courtesy of La gaceta de la Iberosfera.
It is no surprise to see a party of the Spanish left betraying the Saharawi people. Moreover, they seem to sacrifice their own principles in favor of a PSOE completely devoted to the narco-dictatorship of Mohamed VI and his expansionist aspirations.
The affinity of the Spanish left with the Saharawi cause has been a constant in their electoral programs and public statements. However, the repeated betrayals to this cause have sown doubts. It all began with a young Felipe Gonzalez, who in 1976 promised, on a trip to the Saharawi refugee camps, to accompany the Saharawi people in their just struggle until the final victory. However, when he came to power, Gonzalez strengthened his alliance with the Moroccan monarch, forgetting the already punished Saharawi people.
The left has united and regrouped under various acronyms, from “Izquierda Unida” to Podemos, now Unidas Podemos, and recently SUMAR. It seems that the Spanish left only knows how to move and survive between the hopeful novelty and the supposed definitive alliance that promises much but falls, devoured by its own failure, being reborn again under new acronyms and promises.
This is how we Saharawis have been for more than 40 years, listening to false promises, receiving “solidarity” politicians in our refugee camps and falling again and again into the same mistake by believing those who disappoint us. I have to make it clear that we do not expect anything from the Spanish right wing, which is neither here nor expecte;, they never promised nor were there. Those who championed the Saharawi cause were the leftist political parties in Spain, which have always disappointed and disillusioned. From Gonzalez, through Zapatero, who was the president who sold the most weapons to Morocco, weapons then used against the Saharawi people, to Sanchez who was the most indecent president to publicly recognize that Western Sahara should be an “autonomy under Moroccan sovereignty,” supporting a fierce illegal occupation and violating the international legality that calls for a referendum of independence in Western Sahara. This position contradicts the will of the majority of Spaniards who support the Saharawi cause and tramples on the aspirations of the Saharawi people who have been resisting for more than 50 years for their independence.
Looking at the parties to the left of the PSOE, we Saharawis may have to settle for a tweet or, hopefully, a statement in the press in support of the “just struggle of the Saharawi people.” But beyond this media gesture, there will be no clear initiatives or actions, and it is time that we recognize and accept it. We are only an electoral slogan, a badge to wear on our chest to look really “leftist” in some demonstration or public act, but beyond that, we are nothing. Morocco will always be the friend, the ally and the chosen one.
The party led by Yolanda Diaz, SUMAR, promised to reverse the decision taken by Pedro Sanchez and return Spain to its “neutral” position on the Western Sahara issue. However, in the recent government agreement signed between the PSOE and SUMAR, the Saharawi question is nowhere to be found. SUMAR had to choose between the just Saharawi cause or the illegal occupation of Mohamed VI. It had to choose between fidelity to its promises or ambiguity out of self-interest. In both cases, I choose the second option.
Meanwhile, the Saharawi people continue to believe in the Spanish “new left” that always finds a way to be reborn under new acronyms, new colors and new promises that, of course, will never be fulfilled.
Finally, we recall that the Saharawi people do not ask for solidarity or alms, they simply ask that Spain fulfills its legal duty as a colonial power in Western Sahara; but this request becomes a demand, especially to those who have championed our struggle and have promised to carry out the long-awaited decolonization, and then betray us in the most shameful ways. At this point, I recommend to my fellow Saharawis to change the demand for a simple request: that the Spanish left stop trafficking in our pain and using our cause as a bargaining chip.
Taleb Alisalem was born in the Sahrawi refugee camps and grew up in Spain. He trained in International Cooperation and Development Aid at The Open University. He is a prominent political activist and analyst who specializes in the Western Sahara, the Middle East as well as African issues. This article appears courtesy ofPosmodernia.
“God, source of inspiration of Don Quixote; the Bible, model of organizational structure of Don Quixote; and Catalina de Salazar y Palacios, love of the famous Manco and his source of human inspiration, are part of Don Quixote de la Mancha, by Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra.”
The Bible, translated into 450 languages in full and more than 2000 in part, written by men and inspired by the majestic and mighty Lord God, is part of Don Quixote de la Mancha (1605 & 1615), which has been translated 1140 times into some 190 languages and dialects. It was written by the brilliant Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra (1547-1616), hero of the Battle of Lepanto (1571), exemplary slave in Algiers (1575-1580), and perpetual reader of the true riches of the Old and New Testaments, for whom Jesus Christ was “God and true man” (Don Quixote, II-XXVII), and for whom the wish about the Bible came true: “It is clear to me that there should be no nation or language where it is not translated” (Quixote, II-II).
Don Quixote contains 181,104 words, of which 22,939 are unique; and the infinite wisdom of the Word of God left traces in the soul of Miguel, who loved God and the Bible, guide of his life, for he evoked the Bible three times in the “Prologue” of the first part of Don Quixote, “the Divine Scripture,” and he made authentic display of his vast biblical knowledge throughout his works; he alluded to thirty biblical characters, dealt with 300 references to the Bible, and included countless allusions and reminiscences of the Holy Scripture.
The Bible, the Book of books, whose principal inspiration is God, and Don Quixote, a human jewel of incalculable magnitude; both books of varied readings—on the absolute truth and undeniable existence of God, the superlative role of God in human thought and life, the direct and indirect communication between God and man, and the transcendence of divine life in the human heart—both books love Humanity and speak to our hearts.
However, it is not my goal to compare the Bible and Don Quixote because man can never equal God, for the Bible is incomparable and unsurpassable, and God clearly proclaims it this way: “I am the first and the last, besides me, there is no God, who is like me? Let him arise and speak. Let him proclaim it and argue against me” (Isaiah, 44: 7).
Even Miguel criticizes the comparison between the human and the divine as follows: “nor has he any reason to preach to anyone, mixing the human with the divine, which is a kind of mixture of which no Christian understanding is to be clothed. He only has to take advantage of imitation in what he writes, and the more perfect it is, the better will be what he writes: (Q, I, “Prologue”).
I still want to make special emphasis, inter alia, that the precious treasure of the Bible and the precious treasure of Don Quixote, both works of inestimable value for Humanity, are concerned with ethics, morality and religion in the behavior of the human being, that is why the phrase: where is your treasure there is your heart, comes here like a ring to the finger.
Cervantes’ thoughts and words, in all his works, are influenced by God through the Holy Spirit, despite the fact that some “academics of excellence” completely reject his knowledge of the Bible, but continue to ask without hitting the mark: how to approach Don Quixote? What to do and where to start? What are the tips for reading Don Quixote? What is the challenge of reading it? Why is it so difficult to understand it? And how to read Don Quixote?
The answer is very simple, but it is essential to leave aside all myths, fantasies, and hypocrisies; that is, before approaching Don Quixote, the works of Cervantes, and those of the geniuses of Spanish Golden Age literature, one must first and unavoidably read the Bible, and then acquire a solid knowledge of the origin of Spanish literature up to the dissemination of the masterpiece of world literature, Don Quixote (1605 & 1615).
This is the only infallible way or the only golden key to easily read and understand Cervantes, Don Quixote, and the best literature in the world, which is Spanish literature—exemplary, majestic and superior to all, in essence, is that of the Golden Age—headed by the brilliant novel of the distinguished leader of universal literature, Miguel, lover of books, who always read, taught and loved the Holy Scripture, par excellence, and with which he identified himself during his life trajectory at all times.
Cervantes is fully aware of the value of the Bible, speaks of the truth in the Sacred Scripture, advises us to read it: “If… he wants to read books of exploits and chivalry, read in Sacred Scripture the ‘Book of Judges,’ and there he will find great truths and deeds as true as brave” (Q, I-XLIX), and confesses that “Holy Scripture… cannot lack an atom in truth” (Q, II-I), and eternalizes his biblical knowledge and the greatness of God’s love in his works.
Certainly, Miguel loved the Bible, book of the history of the world, of poetry, and of wisdom, in which, as an example, the Book of Psalms, the Book of Proverbs and the Song of Songs are sublime, despite the fact that some “scholars of excellence” left Miguel’s knowledge of the Holy Scripture in the dark without any compelling reason manifested in the masterpieces of the genius of universal literature.
In addition to this, I should add that the meritorious historian José Luis Abellán García-González affirms that “Don Quixote is the Spanish Bible” (Visiones del Quijote, 130). The meritorious professor Alfonso Ropero Berzosa writes that it is the “Bible of universal literature, which is illuminated by the Christian Bible, from which Cervantes extracts the idea of justice and freedom so human and so divine” (El Quijote y la Biblia, 10). The extraordinary historian Sabino de Diego Romero, President of the Cervantine Society of Esquivias, says of Catalina, in his magnificent work: Catalina, fuente de inspiración de Cervantes (Punto Rojo, 2015), says through the mouth of Don Quixote, “because blood is inherited, and virtue is acquired, and virtue alone is worth what blood is not worth” (Catalina…, 242). And the excellent writer Eduardo Aguirre Romero declares with greater precision that “in these uncertain times, Miguel de Cervantes still has much light to offer us” (“Si Cervantes levantara la cabeza,” Diario de León, 27-III-2022).
Therefore, the questions arise; should we read the Bible and Don Quixote compulsorily in universities and schools? What are the reasons for reading such works? The answer is, yes. The Bible, God’s wisdom, and Don Quixote, human wisdom, are my daily readings for beauty, wonder, power, wisdom, truth, and virtues, among many.
Indeed, the spirit of both works pierces the soul like the sharp two-edged sword or the sword of Achilles of Troy, and both works are for the people; they speak of love and lovelessness, of good and evil, of the beautiful and the noble; they are concerned with humanity; they penetrate our human hearts; and they teach us to love one another and become better people.
The Bible, the wonderful book, can be read every day; it only needs 11:59 minutes; and if you start it on January 1st, you will finish it on December 31st of the same year. Or, I recommend you to listen to the Bible published by the University of Navarra in audiobook format. Don Quixote, the Bible of Humanity, can be read daily; it only takes 4:43 minutes; and if you start it on January 1st, you will also finish it on December 31st of the same year; or you can listen to it on Cadena SER.
You will not regret reading day after day the glorious Bible and the ingenious nobleman Don Quixote. You will always discover something new. You will feed on the wisdom of God and the wisdom of the famous Manco de Lepanto, and you will be provided with infinite benefits. Read every day the Bible and Don Quixote de la Mancha!
Laus in Excelsis Deo.
Krzysztof Sliwa is a professor, writer for Galatea, a journal of the Sociedad Cervantina de Esquivias, Spain, and a specialist in the life and works of Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra and the Spanish Golden Age Literature, all subjects on which he has written several books. He has also published numerous articles and reviews in English, German, Spanish and Polish, and is the Corresponding Member of the Royal Academy of Cordoba and Toledo.
Featured: Don Quijote in der Studierstube lesend (Don Quixote in the Study Room, Reading), by Adolf Schrödter; painted in 1834.
Historian Miguel Platón has researched all the death sentences handed down by the military courts of the Franco regime up to 1975 and thus has an in-depth knowledge of the extent of the post-Spanish-Civil-War repression, as well as the crimes of which the defendants were accused. In this article he reveals the evolution of the prison population and the legislation in this regard, which confirm the non-existence of genocide. Another lie that he refutes is the claim of the existence of more than 100,000 bodies abandoned in graves.
The political objective of the Law of “Democratic Memory”(October 19, 2022), presented by the Socialist-Communist Government of Pedro Sánchez, is similar to that of the Law of “Historical Memory” promoted in 2007 by the Socialist Government of José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero—to hide the responsibility of the socialist trade union and party (the UGT and the PSOE) in the failure of the Second Spanish Republic (1931-36), a period in which the leftists resorted to the use of violence, including an armed rebellion against the Government in October 1934, the manipulation of the outcome of the February 1936 parliamentary elections and the cover-up of the assassination of a right-wing opposition leader, Deputy José Calvo Sotelo (July 13, 1936), by a Socialist gunman. It also seeks to conceal the crimes carried out by the leaders and members of both organizations during the war: tens of thousands of murders, tortures, rapes and robberies; and, last but not least, the corruption of several of their most prominent leaders.
The legal initiative constitutes, above all, a betrayal of the combatants of that war. When the Spanish Civil War ended in April 1939, both armies had around one and a half million young Spaniards between eighteen and thirty-two years of age in their ranks, the great majority of whom had been forcibly mobilized, since volunteers represented only ten percent of the total number of combatants. Tacitly but firmly, these young people set themselves a fundamental political goal, which they maintained for the rest of their lives: never another civil war, so that their children would not endure the suffering they had endured. The goal would be achieved and, together with economic development, was the basis of the Spanish political miracle of the late 1970s: a broad social consensus that opened the doors to democracy, crowned by the 1978 Constitution. The breaking of that consensus by the PSOE leadership means promoting the return to a polarized society like the one existing in 1936, which led to the greatest tragedy in the history of Spain.
The Republic: A Regime of Permanent Violence
The political violence linked to the Spanish Civil War comprised three phases: before July 1936 (the beginning of the war), during the conflict (from July 1936 to April 1939) and the post-civil-war period. The three followed one another with varying intensity, but in practice without solution of continuity.
The recourse to violence was born at the same time as the republican project. The conspirators, who in August 1930 united to overthrow King Alfonso XIII, formed a Provisional Government which, in turn, appointed a Military Committee, with the express purpose of organizing an insurrection. Most of the conspirators’ economic resources were used to buy pistols, and in December a double plot was planned: a coup d’état by related military units and a general revolutionary strike. The latter failed due to lack of union collaboration, but military commanders rose up in Jaca (Huesca) and Madrid. The first proclamation, published in Jaca by a captain of the Army, read as follows: “Anyone who opposes by word or in writing, who conspires or arms against the nascent Republic, will be shot without trial.”
It was not an idle threat—a little earlier the rebels had killed the temporary chief of the Civil Guard and two carabineros. In the twenty-four hours that the uprising lasted, they caused the death of nine people, among them the military governor general of Huesca. Forces loyal to the Government defeated them, as well as the rebels in Madrid. Two captains who took up arms in Jaca were condemned to death and shot.
After the proclamation of the Republic in April 1931, violent episodes followed, carried out by various political and union forces, repressed by the forces of Public Order and, in certain cases, by the Army (the State of War was declared by successive governments on more than a dozen occasions). There are no definitive statistics on the casualties and damage caused, largely because of the press censorship that was in force during most of the Republican period—but the most complete estimates calculate between 2,629 and 3,628 deaths, from April 1931 to July 1936.
Historian Eduardo Gonzalez Calleja has added 196 fatalities between April and December 1931; 190 in 1932; 311 in 1933; 1,457 in 1934; 47 in 1935, and 428 in 1936, up to July 17. Exhaustive research carried out by Juan Blázquez Miguel estimates 288 for the same period of 1931; 276 in 1932; 536 in 1933; 1,879 in 1934; 142 in 1935, and 502 in 1936, up to mid-July. Blázquez Miguel also points out that during the Republican period, violence caused 12,520 injuries, 13,494 strikes were called, 735 religious buildings were set on fire, 780 assaults and profanations were carried out, as well as 3,866 attacks with explosives or of other nature.
Most of the violence originated in trade unions and left-wing parties: the General Union of Workers (socialist), the National Confederation of Workers (anarchist), the Spanish Socialist Workers’ Party, the Communist Party of Spain, Esquerra Republicana de Cataluña and the Workers’ Party of Marxist Unification (POUM). From 1934 onwards, the attacks were joined by Falange Española, a local version of Italian fascism, which was very active in 1936.
Deadly clashes took place even between elements of different leftist formations, with a total of sixty-one dead, mainly on the part of socialists and anarchists, while there was not a single fatality among right-wing forces, according to González Calleja’s data.
The parties of the center, the right and the Republican left, which together accounted for the vast majority of the popular vote, were oblivious to the violence, although at times they did not fight it with sufficient firmness. Above all, the left-wing Republicans (Izquierda Republicana and Acción Republicana) agreed in January 1936 on a Popular Front candidacy with the forces that had taken up arms against the center-right government in October 1934: UGT, PSOE, PCE and ERC. After their relative electoral victory in February, IR, UR and ERC came to power, although they were at the mercy of the Socialists and Communists for a parliamentary majority. The main socialist leader, Francisco Largo Caballero, repeatedly expressed his aim to merge with the Communist Party, a project that began to materialize in April 1936, with the youth of both formations. Largo was hailed by his own people, since 1933, as the “Spanish Lenin.”
Differences Between the Two Repressions
At the beginning of the war, the institutions and norms that made up the Rule of Law collapsed. The rebels imposed the State of War and the Popular Front Government handed over the weapons, and with them the effective power, to militiamen from trade unions and left-wing parties.
On both sides the authorities who were not sympathetic were dismissed, from town councilors to Supreme Court magistrates. On the rebel side, many civilian posts were filled by the military. On the governmental side, local authorities and company managements were replaced by revolutionary committees, made up of trade unions and left-wing parties. Civil servants were purged everywhere, for no other reason than their political affinity. For the same reason, numerous dismissals took place in the businesses themselves, both of managers and of ordinary employees.
In both areas there was a general persecution of those who were considered adversaries, even if they had not carried out any hostile action. This was the case from large cities to small towns. There were tens of thousands of murders, along with clandestine burials, arrests, prison sentences, forced labor, seizures, looting, extortion, fines, robberies and threats. In the Republican zone there were numerous cases of people being burned alive, tortured, women raped and corpses desecrated. Five years before the Nazi extermination camps began to operate, Catalan anarchists incinerated their victims in industrial ovens. Other corpses were thrown into raging rivers, chasms or deep mineshafts. With few exceptions, these crimes went unpunished, on either side, by the express will of the respective authorities.
The victims of the repression in the government/Republican zone were mostly murdered, by decision of the Revolutionary Committees. In the rebel zone, most of the victims were executed after being condemned in War Councils, without sufficient guarantees or legitimacy; the same happened in the other zone with the so-called People’s Courts and the Court of High Treason and Espionage.
As for the victims, in what ended up being the “national zone,” almost all those murdered or executed belonged to revolutionary organizations, which rejected democracy. This, of course, did not justify their death, but they were co-religionists of those who in the Republican zone carried out tens of thousands of murders. On the contrary, the great majority of those killed or executed in the zone controlled by the Popular Front did not belong to any violent organization. They were religious, lay Catholics and affiliates or sympathizers of center and right-wing parties.
The repression carried out after the Spanish Civil War by the victors was exercised by military jurisdiction. In general, those who were executed were material perpetrators or those directly responsible for acts of bloodshed. If they had not committed crimes of this nature, those sentenced to death were commuted, whether they were civilian authorities, Popular Army commanders, political commissars, members of revolutionary committees, volunteers of the International Brigades, spies, deserters or even guerrillas who had acted in the national zone, and even if they had had mortal encounters. War actions were not considered blood crimes.
The norm that regulated the cases in which a condemned person could benefit from a pardon was an Order of the Presidency of the Government—that is, of General Franco himself—dated January 25, 1940. The same regulation ordered the establishment of provincial Sentence Review Commissions, which reviewed ex officio all the sentences handed down by War Councils from July 1936 onwards, always in favor of the condemned. Generally speaking, and at various stages, sentences of six years were reduced to one year and those of thirty years to six. By 1944, 70,858 commutation files had been reviewed.
Also in 1940, in the month of April, parole was granted to inmates over sixty years of age who had served a quarter of their sentence. The Law of June 28, 1940, Supplementary to the Statute of State Pensioners, granted a pension to “the wives, children and widowed mothers of civilian and military employees who, in compliance with sentences imposed by the Courts, are suffering or will suffer the penalty of deprivation of liberty for a period of more than one year.” This norm protected the families of those who had been condemned by War Councils in the national zone, including those who had been shot. Family members were entitled to a pension from the moment of conviction, which in certain cases meant arrears of several years. The widow of General Manuel Romerales Quintero, who in July 1936 was Commander General of the Eastern Circumscription of the Protectorate of Morocco, and who at the end of August was condemned to death and shot, received the pension and arrears in 1941.
Beginning with the regular operation of the Ministry of the Army, in the second half of 1939, all death penalty sentences were examined by the auditors of the Legal Corps, in the Advisory and Justice section of the Ministry. The sentences were studied one-by-one, together with complementary information and petitions for pardon. The latter were not only submitted by the convicted person and his relatives. In many cases, authorities from various fields, especially mayors, local Falange chiefs and municipal judges, signed joint petitions for pardon, often supported by dozens or even hundreds of neighbors. This was also done by a large number of religious, from bishops to cloistered nuns, as well as by victims claiming Christian pardon, among them many widows. The women of the Primo de Rivera family, headed by Pilar, National Delegate of the Women’s Section of the Falange, certified in April 1940 before a notary public the impeccable conduct of Adolfo Crespo Orrios, who was in charge of the Alicante prison when on November 20, 1936, her brother José Antonio, founder of the Spanish Falange, was shot there. One of the signatories, Carmen Urquijo, was the widow of Fernando Primo de Rivera, brother of José Antonio, murdered in the Modelo prison in Madrid in August 1936. The women’s action was successful and the condemned to death was pardoned.
The procedure usually lasted months and the auditors recommended the commutation of more than one third of the capital sentences, by means of reasoned and signed reports. Thousands of sentences were disqualified due to insufficient evidence or new information.
The proposals of the auditors were accepted, in 99.8 percent of the convictions, by the Head of State. Franco only intervened in a handful of cases, mostly in favor of the condemned, and in particular of commanders of the Popular Army, both professional and militia. It was also his personal decision to pardon the Socialist deputy, Francisco de Toro Cuevas, elected in 1936 for the province of Granada, who during the civil war had been political commissar of the Parque de Intendencia in Madrid, where workers who were not sympathetic to the Popular Front were dismissed. The auditors even paralyzed execution orders if they had new information favorable to the condemned. In all these cases, Franco rectified the “decision” that he had previously given.
How many were executed after 1939? According to the internal statistics of the Legal Audit of the Ministry of the Army, up to June 30, 1960, there were 24,949 condemned to death, of which 12,851 were commuted, which means about 12,000 executions. From this figure it is necessary to subtract those condemned for common crimes and to add several thousand executions which took place in the spring and summer of 1939, before the regular functioning of the Army Ministry. An approximate figure of the executed is, according to the author’s estimate, around 14,000. This includes those belonging to the “maquis,” a rural guerrilla group made up of former combatants of the Popular Army, who in the second half of the 1940s carried out attacks in which a thousand people lost their lives.
In view of these numbers, it is untenable to claim that in the post-civil-war period the regime of the winning side in the civil war subjected the defeated to a punishment of a cruelty and viciousness similar, in Europe, only to those carried out by the German National Socialist and Communist regimes.
Those commuted from capital punishment were sentenced to the next lower penalty, i.e., life imprisonment, which was equivalent to thirty years. In practice, they remained in prison from three to seven years. The socialist Francisco de Toro, for example, had his death sentence commuted to thirty years’ imprisonment, then reduced to twenty years, and was released on parole in January 1944, less than five years after the end of the war. One of those who was imprisoned the longest was Cipriano Rivas Cherif, brother-in-law of President Manuel Azaña, sentenced to death in October 1940 and released in 1947.
The proportion of those commuted increased significantly over time. In 1939 only a quarter of the condemned benefited from pardon; but from 1941 onwards it was already the majority. In principle, those sentenced to death could not benefit from the review of sentences, but this criterion was changed in their favor in September 1942.
Pardons of Death Sentences and Reduction of Sentences
During the civil war, both sides had used prisoners, both political and war prisoners, for various duties: fortifications, agricultural work, mines, repairs of damage caused by bombing, etc. The concentration camps had been created in December 1936 by a decree of the Minister of Justice of the Republican Government, the anarchist Juan García Oliver. In the post-civil-war period, the camps of Republican origin continued to operate, such as the Albatera camp in Alicante, and many prisoners were placed in labor battalions, militarized penitentiary colonies, penal detachments, various workshops and reconstruction tasks, in what were called Devastated Regions.
In May 1937, a circular on “paid work for prisoners of war and prisoners for common crimes” was approved; but the most important regulation was the Decree on the Redemption of Sentences through Work of October 7, 1938, which allowed most of the prisoners to reduce the length of their sentences, as well as to obtain a salary for the benefit of their families. The 1939 Law for the creation of the Military Penitentiary Colonies guaranteed that they would have “decent clothing,” as well as medical and pharmaceutical assistance. The following year, an order of December 30, 1940, declared applicable to inmate workers the same benefits that the legislation provided for free workers, in terms of coverage for work accidents, family allowance and legal rest.
At the end of 1939, there were 270,719 prisoners, a figure eight times the 34,526 existing in February 1936 and more than thirteen times the average number of prisoners before the rebellion of October 1934, which was about 20,000.
Beginning in 1940, a policy was initiated, aimed at the gradual release of those convicted of war-related crimes. In practice, the only sentences served were the death sentences that had been ratified. In 1940, parole was granted to those who had been sentenced to less than six years and one day. Nevertheless, at the end of the year, there were still 233,373 prisoners in the prisons.
The attenuation of repression intensified in the following years, largely because the most serious proceedings had already been resolved. In 1941, those sentenced to sentences not exceeding twelve years benefited from parole; and by December 31, the number of prisoners had been reduced to 159,392. The latter figure was reduced to 124,423 at the end of 1942 and to 74,095 at the end of 1943. In this year parole was granted to those condemned to sentences of up to twenty years and one day by a decree of December 17, signed by Franco, which reduced the prison population by more than a third: in April there were still 114,958 prisoners, 22,481 for common crimes and 92,477 “prisoners as a consequence of the revolution,” according to the data of the General Directorate of Prisons.
On December 31, 1944, the number of prisoners was 54,072. And in 1945, a new decree of the Ministry of Justice, dated October 9, also signed by the Generalissimo, provided for the “total pardon” of all those condemned for military rebellion and other crimes up to April 1, 1939, as long as they had not committed “acts repulsive to any honest conscience,” thus reducing the number of prisoners to 43,812. In June of the same year, the number of prisoners was 51,300: 18,033 common and 33,267 political.
A report of the Army Ministry’s Legal Department, dated June 9, 1945, described the situation at that time: “All those sentenced to sentences of up to twenty years are at liberty… Of those sentenced to sentences of between twenty years and one day and thirty years of imprisonment, those included in the benefits of the decree of December 17, 1943 are also at liberty, that is, those who, because of their behavior in prison, advanced age, state of health or other circumstances, have earned it.”
The overall balance, therefore, is that those sentenced to imprisonment did not even serve half of the custodial sentence. On average, only a quarter, and as time went on, even less. This is shown by the study of individual cases.
One example is General Luis Castelló, who was Minister of War between July and August 1936, who fled to France and was handed over to Spain by the German occupiers. In 1943, a War Council condemned him to death, a sentence commuted to life imprisonment (thirty years); but the time he spent in military prisons was three years and nine months. Antonio Lafuente Estefanía, who would become famous as an author of Western novels under the name of Marcial, during the civil war had been councilman of Chamartín de la Rosa (Madrid) for the anarchist union CNT, a position in which he protected persecuted right-wingers. He was also a volunteer soldier in the Popular Army. Tried by a War Council in July 1941, the prosecutor requested the death penalty, but he was sentenced to twenty years and three months; later the sentence was reduced to twelve. In November, when he had served two and a half years in prison, he was granted mitigated imprisonment at his home.
After a new pardon decree of December 27, 1946, the number of prisoners was 36,370, similar to the number in February 1936.
Return of Exiles
By that time, the question had been raised as to what should be the rule applicable to those who had been exiled at the end of the civil war and wished to return to Spain. The Ministry of Justice introduced a decree, dated February 4, 1947, “by which rules are given to legalize the situation of Spanish exiles abroad and facilitate their return to Spain.” It established that “the interested party will be informed if the facts do not constitute a crime, are crimes included in the pardon or are not included.”
The Ministry of the Army, for its part, issued some “Instructions or rules to which the judicial authorities must adjust their actions in relation to those who had the status of professional military personnel and wished to return to Spain… Provided, it specified, that they had not had a very outstanding performance in the war of liberation.”
The application of these instructions was as follows: once back in Spain, the exiled republican soldier had to present himself before the military court that had corresponded with him, with his travel on national territory paid for by the Ministry. The Court would inform him of the possible responsibilities, “so that with knowledge of them, those who so wished, could return abroad.”
During the 1950s, very prominent commanders of the People’s Army of the Republic returned to Spain, including Vicente Rojo, who had been General Chief of the Central General Staff between 1937 and 1939, and who was court-martialed and immediately pardoned. Another prominent commander who returned, although only temporarily, was the former communist Manuel Tagüeña, chief of the XV Army Corps in the Battle of the Ebro, who was able to visit his sick mother.
The return to Spain of the exiles became widespread, in fact, during the 1950s. In the interview he gave to the French newspaper Le Figaro (June 13, 1958), Franco himself described the situation in these terms: “A small number of them have committed general civil law crimes during the civil war. Lastly, numerous are those who come to our consulates to request authorization to return to their homeland, either temporarily or definitively. In 99.9 percent of the cases, such authorization is granted. Spain is open to all its citizens, without distinction, except for criminals.”
During the thirty years following World War II, there was a general downward trend in repression, only altered in the second half of the 1940s by the actions of the “maquis” and from 1968 by the terrorist group ETA and other smaller groups. The last person to be shot for acts committed during the civil war was, the communist leader Julián Grimau, in April 1963, who had been chief of police in Barcelona. During the Franco regime, the historical minimum of prisoners, for all crimes, was 10,622 in 1965, thanks to the successive application of two general pardons, one in 1964 for the 25 years of Peace (counted from the end of the war) and another in 1965 for the Compostela Holy Year.
On April 1, 1969, in application of the Penal Code and thirty years after the end of the civil war, all crimes committed during the conflict were declared time-barred (subject to a statutes of limitation). For this reason, when Santiago Carrillo, secretary general of the Communist Party, returned to Spain in 1976 and was arrested, no proceedings could be brought against him for his responsibility in the massacre of Paracuellos de Jarama (Madrid), where several thousand people were murdered in November 1936.
The most extraordinary case linked to the post-civil war repression occurred when the grandson of a man condemned to death married a granddaughter of Franco. The condemned man had been the Engineer, Colonel Tomás Ardid Rey, who throughout the war served in the Popular Army, where he became General Commander of Engineers of the Army of the Center and later General Inspector of Engineers. Sentenced to death in January 1940 by a general court martial, Franco commuted the death sentence on February 12. The sentence was replaced by life imprisonment, equivalent to thirty years, but he was paroled in 1943, after his sentence was reduced on May 18 of that year to twenty years and one day. On March 7, 1946 he was pardoned.
Almost thirty years later, on March 14, 1974, when Colonel Ardid Rey had already died, his grandson, the architect Rafael Ardid, Villoslada married Francisco Franco’s second granddaughter, María de la O—Mariola—Martínez-Bordiú Franco, whom he had met at the University.
The ceremony was held in the chapel of the Palace of El Pardo, residence of the Head of State. Franco sponsored his granddaughter, while the groom was sponsored by his mother, Pilar Villoslada. Among those in attendance were the Princes of Spain, Juan Carlos and Sofia, Carmen Polo de Franco, the Duke and Duchess of Cadiz (Alfonso de Borbon had married Franco’s eldest granddaughter, Carmen, two years earlier) and the entire government. One of those who signed as a witness, on behalf of the groom, was the President of the Government, Carlos Arias Navarro.
Almost half a century later, Rafael Ardid and Mariola have created a family and are still together. Their life has been presided over by discretion and is the only marriage of Franco’s seven grandchildren that has endured. On October 24, 2019, two of their children, great-grandchildren of Tomás Ardid Rey and of the former Head of State, carried on their shoulders the coffin containing the remains of Francisco Franco, when these were exhumed from the Valley of the Fallen.
Much earlier, after the proclamation as king of Juan Carlos I, in November 1975, all death sentences handed down by the courts were commuted and capital punishment was abolished—except for military jurisdiction in time of war—by the 1978 Constitution, earlier than in the French Republic.
Miguel Platón is well-known Spanish writer and researcher, who has written several important books on contemporary history. This article appears through the kind courtesy of La Gaceta de la Iberosfera. This article appears through the kind courtesy of La gaceta de la Iberosfera.
Numerous setbacks, criticisms and scandals have haunted and continue to haunt the coalition government, led by Pedro Sanchez, which currently aspires to extend its mandate for another four years. Undoubtedly, one of the most prominent chapters of this government centers on the Western Sahara issue. The decision taken by Sanchez in March 2022 stands as the epicenter of a political earthquake that has left its footprints in the middle of the Sahrawi desert.
In the 1970s, Spain surprisingly opted to abandon what was until then known as its fifty-third province, the Spanish Sahara. This move also implied disengaging from its commitments to the Sahrawi population and to international legality, which expected the Spanish state to lead an organized decolonization process, culminating in the declaration of independence of Western Sahara. Instead, however, Spain was forced to hand over that rich territory to an expansion-hungry Morocco, which used its usual tactics of pressure, blackmail and machinations, with the collaboration of the United States and France, to prevent decolonization from taking place.
From Spain, it was argued that this shameful abandonment of the Sahrawi people was due to a complicated period in the country’s history, with Franco’s agony and an uncertain future. In that context, yielding to the blackmail of King Hassan II and his allies seemed almost inevitable, as advantage was taken of the moment of weakness and uncertainty in Spain. This explanation, to some extent, may have some merit. However, what is completely incomprehensible is the position taken by the President of the self-styled “most progressive government in history,” Pedro Sanchez, who publicly endorsed, in March 2022, the idea that the Western Sahara should become an autonomy under Moroccan sovereignty. This position justifies and supports an occupation that has been labeled illegal by all international courts and bodies. It is a new betrayal of the Sahrawi people, who have seen Spain abandon them once again.
Beyond the opinions and personal views that I may have as a Sahrawi, it is undeniable that if we evaluate the situation from an impartial perspective and considering the strategic and geopolitical interests at stake, Sanchez’s decision not only represents a betrayal to the Sahrawi people, but also to the Spanish people. This is because it clearly fuels Moroccan expansionism, which constitutes a continuous threat to the Spanish cities of Ceuta and Melilla. At times, Morocco even claims the Canary Islands and their maritime space as part of its territory. This represents a clear danger to the integrity of the Kingdom of Spain.
José Manuel Albares, who holds the highest responsibility in the Spanish government’s foreign policy, has made it clear that his main duty and priority is to serve his monarch and master, His Majesty Mohammed VI. This loyalty persists, even when it is known that the Moroccan intelligence services spied on half of the Spanish government using Pegasus software. It persists, despite the serious consequences derived from the immigration that Morocco constantly directs towards the Spanish coasts. It persists, despite the contempt and humiliation on the part of a monarch who did not even bother to receive the Spanish President in what was announced as the most important Spain-Morocco summit in many years. Nothing seems to disturb or modify Albares’ loyalty towards Morocco.
This murky relationship raises many questions, not only about Minister Albares’ relationship with Morocco, but also about the PSOE and its continued submission to Rabat, a submission that seems to lack all logic. If it is necessary to break with Algeria, it is broken. If it is necessary to buy more gas from Russia, it is bought. If it is necessary to sell to the Sahrawis, it is sold. If it is necessary to remain silent and accept humiliation, one remains silent and accepts it. “If you have to swallow toads, you swallow them,” as the socialist López Aguilar said. But what if it is a question of handing over Ceuta and Melilla, will they be handed over? It is clear that when it comes to the PSOE and Morocco, anything is possible; anything Morocco wishes.
What every Spanish citizen should keep in mind is that problems with Morocco will always be a constant on the agenda. The cession, submission and friendly approach towards the Rabat regime only strengthen its hostile positions against Spain, and sooner or later this could explode in the form of a diplomatic crisis, migratory waves or territorial disputes. If Spain really wants to safeguard its geostrategic interests and protect its territories from the Moroccan expansionist threat, it must start implementing a firmer policy towards Morocco immediately. It must be uncompromising and play its cards on the complex geopolitical chessboard, seeking an alliance with Algeria and supporting an independent Sahrawi Republic. Such an alliance could mark the beginning of the end of the Moroccan regime, which poses a constant threat to all its neighbors.
Taleb Alisalem was born in the Sahrawi refugee camps and grew up in Spain. He trained in International Cooperation and Development Aid at The Open University. He is a prominent political activist and analyst who specializes in the Western Sahara, the Middle East as well as African issues. This article appears courtesy of Posmodernia.
In politics, whether we know it or not, we are always fighting against an enemy, whether stationed on our borders or camouflaged within the city. But there is also another form of enmity, much more subtle than the one that bubbles at ground level, incarnated by men who have an ideology or a culture, perhaps a religion or a barbaric anthropology, incompatible with our own. It is the enmity derived from political concepts, polemically handled and exploited against the “moral element,” the criterion by which the true capacity of resistance to the hostility and offenses of the enemy is measured.
What I want to say, now by way of example, is that certain assumed definitions, transformed into taboos, enervate the will, having previously worked the intelligence by “brainwashing,” an expression that, suspiciously, has ceased to be used at a time when political pedagogy is dedicated only to that. Some pontificate on the benefits of ethnic, religious and cultural pluralism—the pluralism of values, in short—and others suffer its consequences: loss of cultural identity, social conflict, babelization. Nor is it strange that the same people who praise “miscegenation”—vaguely in the legal system, but with more determination in public universities and in the Press and Propaganda Section of the mass media—then maintain that races (or cultures) do not exist. It has also become normal for the zealots of “defensive” pan-Melanism—Black Lives Matter is not new, it was previously invented in the 1920s—to promote as just and necessary an anti-white racism and to demand that we finance our own re-education.
War, even in its current “pacifist” variants, takes place in space, that is to say, on the earth, because to control it and to reasonably order life on it is the primary object of politics. The much more decisive and brutal quarrels over concepts are settled in time. The struggle for the meaning of words, for the “story” that obsesses all modern princely counselors—today called “political analysts” or “advisors,” young people with no experience of life, generally coming, as Jules Monnerot used to say, from an educational system dedicated to “the mass production of artificial cretins”: as opposed to those who are so by a natural disposition; those who flourish massively today are “cultivated cretins, like a certain type of pearl.” Once the political logos and dictionary have been colonized, that is, the national “political imaginary,” any capacity for resistance is radically diminished. Then, and only then, the defeat of the external or internal enemy can be presented as a victory or a political and cultural “homologation” with the executioners. Indeed, a few days ago we in Spain spoke, with a sense of opportunity, of the “afrancesados,” Spanish archetype of a colonized political imaginary.
It is therefore necessary, in a certain sense, to “decolonize the imaginary” and give back to political concepts their precise meaning, which is neither invented nor developed in a Think Tank, but is part, however modest its aliquot, of the truth of politics. It is necessary, in order to know where we stand. I do not know if “political realism” has a specific mission; perhaps, some would say, the elaboration of a “decalogue” or program that can be implemented by a political party, a faction or a movement, but I do know that its raison d’être lies in the demystification of political thought. One of the concepts that needs this mental cleansing is “dictatorship,” a frightening notion about which the greatest confusion reigns—a self-interested Confusionism, exploited by those aspiring to power, presenting their rivals as vulgar supporters of authoritarian regimes and themselves as “democrats”—as if that term had a precise meaning beyond the mental tropisms that adorn the demo-liberal right.
Everything conspires against the reputation of political demystifiers. However, writing about the war-phenomenon does not presuppose a bellicose personality; probably only a meek man can write a theory or a sociology of war. A theory of decision… an indecisive one. And a theory of dictatorship is perhaps only within the reach of someone incapable of exercising it.
It is not easy to look “dictatorship” in the face, a highly inflammable political concept that gravitates over particularly intense political situations and which is entangled with legislation of exception, states of necessity and coups d’état. People believe that a dictatorship is what the “anti-Franco vulgate” teaches, but they do not lose sleep over a government that can illegally shut down Parliament and deprive the whole nation of freedom of movement. Anti-parliamentarism has many forms and those of today are nothing like those of a century ago. It would be very interesting to write a palingenesis of dictatorship, for it is periodically reborn and its singularity should be recognized. To turn one’s back on its reality is to culpably ignore the momentary concentration of power, a reality that happens outside our moral or ideological prejudices, independently of our will. Not knowing what it consists of compromises our position vis-à-vis the enemy who does know what it is and how to use it.
Dictatorship is a fundamental institution of Roman public law. It consists of a lifting or suspension of the juridical barriers in order that the dictator, generally pro tempore, faces the exceptional political situation (sedition, civil war, foreign invasion) and restores the public tranquility to the city. Once restored the order or expired the foreseen period, the extraordinary powers of the dictator are cancelled, whose prototype is Cincinnatus. But there are also in Roman history examples of dictators of undefined undertaking (Sila) and those lifelong (Caesar), even omnímodo or, as we would say today, constituent (lex de imperio vespasiani).
Roman pragmatism had grasped the political essence of dictatorship: it is a concentration or intensification of power that opposes the pernicious effect of the impotence of the established power, besieged by the enemy, generally internal. From a conceptual point of view, it is not strictly speaking a “political regime,” but a “political situation,” transitory by definition. Any manifestation of power always generates criticism from rival parties or factions, but in a particularly intense way criticism is aroused by dictatorship, secularly associated with the personal usufruct of command.
Every dictatorship constitutes a political fact, imperfectly subjected to a legal status. Jean Bodin’s notion of sovereignty is, in this sense, the attempt to make normative a particularly intense moment of command. Such is the glory of Bodin and of the French legists of the 16th century.
During the 19th century, dictatorship gradually lost all its former respectability, as a consequence of the generalization of a new juridical ideology: constitutionalism. Liberal historiography, in its fight against the “enemy,” the absolute monarchies, reworked the classical political tradition and generalized the denigration of the dictatorial institution, arbitrarily associated with tyranny and despotism.
However, the constitutional movement has always recognized, implicitly, that political necessity knows no law when it modulates states of exception, siege and war, denominations which push dictatorship into the background. Dictatorship became a political taboo after the coup of Louis Napoléon (December 2, 1851), the most important coup of the 19th century. But the technical meaning of dictatorship remained and developed in the constitutional states of exception. For the first time, the raison d’être of the classic dictatorship was legally enunciated, but without mentioning it by name: the suspension of law to allow its subsistence. Otherwise, liberalism, which at the time was never, to a certain extent, a “neutral and agnostic” doctrinarism—a legend spread by conservative illiberalism—would never have built the prepotent European nation-states.
Dictatorship formally denies the rule it wants to ensure materially, a doctrine established by Carl Schmitt in his research on the evolution of the institution: Dictatorship (1921), a book of conceptual history, diaphanous and without equivocation, whose non-readers (a very interesting intellectual fauna) figure, against all odds, that it is an apology for Nazism. According to the German jurist, “the essence of dictatorship from the point of view of the philosophy of law consists in the general possibility of separating the norms of law and the norms of the realization of law.” At the same time, dictatorship also implies an effective suppression of the division or separation of powers. Schmitt, being in need of the necessary conceptual demarcation as a jurist, contrasts commissariat dictatorship with constituent dictatorship, categories currently received in the healthiest part of the theory of the State and constitutional theory. Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s doctrine of the general will plays a crucial role in the transition from one to the other.
Hermann Heller, a brilliant jurist, like Carl Schmitt, politicized by his leftist militancy and also committed to national socialism—but the opposite side of the other national socialism—was equally concerned about legal taxonomies. Less perspicacious than his colleague, rival and friend when political or juridical realism (concepts) come into conflict with ideology (positions), for Heller, dictatorship, condemned en bloc, is nothing more than a personalistic and corrupt government (“individuality without law”) opposed to the rule of law (“law without individuality”); in short, “a political regime manifestation of anarchy.” Simplifying a lot, this is the idea of dictatorship generalized among constitutionalists since 1945, the heyday of the “Potsdam democracies.” Carlos Ollero Gómez explained very effectively the constitutional “archaism” that weighed down these regimes.
The commissariat type of dictatorship, an updated formula, at the beginning of the 20th century, of the Roman dictatorship, presupposes a prior mandate or commission, spontaneous (royal call or invitation of a parliament or national assembly to assume extraordinary powers), or forced (pronunciamiento, coup d’état). The commissioned dictator’s mission is to restore the violated constitutional order without going outside the constitution or questioning its essential decisions (form of government). A good example of this is the Spanish dictatorship of Miguel Primo de Rivera, the “iron surgeon” expected by all. Have political and legal historians ever stopped to think why dictatorship got such a good press after World War I? They should read more Boris Mirkine-Guetzévitch, for example, a left-liberal constitutionalist, and think less about the ANECA, cancer of the Spanish university.
Sovereign dictatorship, on the other hand, pursues the establishment of a new political order, using for this purpose a power without legal limitations and operating as a constituent power. Charles de Gaulle in 1958 (dictator ad tempus). This type of dictatorship is associated in the 20th century with totalitarian regimes (total states and popular democracies), while the commissariat dictatorship falls more into the field of authoritarian regimes (Boulangism, authoritarian states and, however bizarre the term may sound, “Catholic dictatorships”). The possible effects of revolution having been limited by the experience of the Paris Commune, the lessons of which led to a turning point in insurrectionary techniques, the alternative to violent subversion is from then on the surgical coup d’état or legal revolution.
In its modern (Baroque) meaning, coups d’état are “audacious and extraordinary actions that princes are forced to undertake, against common law, in difficult and desperate affairs, relativizing the established order and legal formulas and subordinating the interest of individuals to the public good.” Thus speaks, in a secret book, Gabriel Naudé, so mistreated by political ignorance. Naudé, a librarian by profession and a harmless spirit, considers coups legitimate and defensive. Their usefulness depends on the prudence of the prince and, above all, on his ability to anticipate, for “the execution always precedes the sentence”: thus “the coup is received by the one who weighs to give it.” The reputation of a coup d’état depends on those who exploit it: it will be beneficial if it is carried out by friends or allies (salus populi suprema lex esto) and disturbing if it is plotted by enemies (violation of the constitution, counter-coup). Judgment thus depends on the relative position of the observer and his commitments and objectives.
The contemporary sequel to Naudé’s Considerations politiques sur les coups d’Estat (Political Considerations on Coups d’Etat), (1639), is Curzio Malaparte’s Tecnica Del Golpe De Estado (Technique of the Coup d’Etat), (1931). Malaparte, on whom the opprobrium of the right and the left falls indiscriminately, discusses the nature of coups in order to teach how to defeat them with a paralyzing “counter-coup” (coup d’arrêt) and defend the State.
Triumphs like Mussolini’s March on Rome (1922), wrapped in an aura of political romanticism, may never happen again… in the same way. After World War II the general impression was that the coup d’état is an infertile technique. All the more reason why, because of its congenital romanticism, the pronunciamiento can no longer have any effect. From all this we can only expect, as the theoretician of the State Jesús F. Fueyo used to say, an “acceleration of disorder.”
The violence of the coup is logically unacceptable to public opinion in pluralist constitutional regimes. However, that same “public opinion,” by inadvertence or by seduction, can willingly accept what Malaparte calls a “parliamentary coup,” in the style of the one executed by Napoleon Bonaparte on the 18th Brumaire (1799). Carl Schmitt calls it “legal revolution” in a famous article of 1977, written against the non-violent and electoral strategy of the Western communist parties (the Eurocommunism of Santiago Carrillo, a senile disease of Marxism-Leninism, a political religion then beginning to decline, although they, the Western communists, do not yet know it). In reality, the same result can be reached without going through the “legal revolution.” For this, it is necessary to count on the artful political strategy of occupying the constitutional courts—much more than a “negative legislator”—to turn them into the architects of an unnamed constitutional mutation, the greatest danger for the constitutions they are supposed to defend.
But it was not these communists, neither the Soviets nor those of the West, but Adolf Hitler, who, almost half a century before the publication of Eurocommunism and the State, set up the leverage to build a constituent dictatorship with totalitarian roots. Unlike dictatorships of the other species, the authoritarian, the totalitarian dictatorship pretends to have a mission not only political, but also moral, even religious: to give birth to the new man—Bolshevik, Aryan or Khmer Rouge—by disenfranchising the old.
The futility of the Munich coup of 1923 instructed Hitler on the tactical convenience of the electoral struggle and the possibility of legally attaining power in order to activate from the government the de facto abrogation of the constitution. It is a matter of exploiting the “legality premium” to revoke legitimacy. It is precisely against this process of constitutional subversion that Carl Schmitt warned, once again the Cassandra, in the summer of 1932.
The history of the Weimar system is well known and its last gasps have a name: the Authorization Law or Ermächtigungsgesetz (1933), a bridging constitution that suspended and emptied the Weimar constitution of content, opening the door to a constituent (totalitarian) dictatorship that ended up becoming a political oxymoron: a permanent regime of exception.
One of these bridge-constitutions, the Law for Political Reform of 1977, also served as a fuse for the “controlled explosion”—as it was called during the Transition—of the regime of the Fundamental Laws. The truth is that in Spain no one was fooled at that time; or, to be more exact, only those who allowed themselves to be fooled were fooled: “From the law to the law, passing through the law.” It portrays a generation of constitutionalists that no one has dealt with that bridging constitution. In reality, these jurists have powerful reasons to avoid it, since in very few European constitutional processes its character of supreme political decision is so evident, beyond the Kelsenian supercheries and fictions about the Grundnorm or fundamental normal on which everything hypothetically depends. Another fantastic exception to constitutional normativism is found in De Gaulle, playing, for the love of France, the Solon of the Fifth Republic.
The same school as the German National Socialist law of 1933 has held the Hispanic American populism since the end of the 1990s. The case of Hugo Chavez is a paradigm that transcends Venezuelan politics: from the failure of his 1992 “coup d’état” to the success of the “legal revolution” that began with his victory in the 1998 presidential elections and his famous oath of investiture on “the dying constitution” by virtue of which he had been elected.
The politically neutralized constitutionalist has no answer to this political challenge exported to almost all Latin American republics. He is paralyzed by the paradox. It is the ankylosis of Karlsruhe.
Jerónimo Molina Cano is a jurist, historian of political and legal ideas, translator and author. He is a corresponding member of the Real Academia de Ciencias Morales y Políticas in Madrid. This article appears through the kind courtesy of La gaceta de la Iberosfera.
Featured: Cincinato abandona el arado para dictar leyes a Roma (Cincinnatus Leaves the Plough to Dictate Laws to Rome), by Juan Antonio Ribera; painted ca. 1806.
“In nature, in the cosmos, there is a divine, sacred dimension. In this sense modern “neo-paganism” is a hasty conclusion or, at least, a transitional phase” (Ernst Jünger, The Coming Titans).
When one speaks of the ideas of the “ND” (Nouvelle Droite/New Right), the intellectual current that emerged in France in the 1970s, there is a recurring theme: its position on the question of religion and in particular its option for “paganism.” What exactly does this paganism mean? Where did it come from? Are the ideas of the ND incompatible with a Christian confession? Where, intellectually speaking, has the paganism of the ND led? Here are the answers of someone whose intellectual formation is inscribed in the Nouvelle Droite/New Right and who, nevertheless, is Catholic. A text for debate.
The “Nouvelle Droite/New Right” was known—and is now less and less known—as the school of thought, led by Alain de Benoist, that was born in France in the 1970s and which, since then, has described a trajectory similar to that of meteors: on an unknown course, illuminating the night firmament, attracting attention, also arousing fears—even omens of catastrophe—and, along the way, shedding fragments of disparate behavior, depending on the atmospheric conditions. I am one of those fragments. I entered the intellectual orbit of the “Nouvelle Droite / New Right” (hereinafter “ND”) around 1982. I read absolutely everything published by the ND (which was and has continued to be a great deal), I attended its international colloquia and summer universities (very few Spaniards passed through there) and, for some time, I tried to see that here, in Spain, something similar to what arose there might emerge. This is to underline that these lines, which are intended to be a dispassionate analysis, nevertheless contain an important part of personal confession.
The ND and its Context
The ND was so called because it was a way of thinking different from what was in force at that time—in the 1970s and 1980s—which was the ideological monopoly of the left. It must be repeated: a way of thinking; that is, an intellectual attitude, not a political attitude. Since it was not left-wing, it was called “right-wing.” And since it did not fit into the usual molds of the ordinary right either—because it was neither traditionalist nor liberal—it was called “new.” Given the oppressive atmosphere that the Marxist intelligentsia had imposed on European thought and on the media since the 1960s, the attitude of the ND, uninhibited, intelligent and without complexes, represented a real breath of fresh air for many temperaments, and especially for those who, being by convictions on the right, needed (we needed) to think things in a new and deeper way.
What the ND contributed was a very extensive and intense critique of contemporary civilization, and it did so with a very broad philosophical base—there is no author whose ideas have not served it well, from the Frankfurt School to the great French reactionaries, and from the mystics of medieval Germany to postmodern sociologists—and with a properly multidisciplinary projection; that is to say, it applied to economics as well as to psychology, biology as well as to politics. Someday we will have to recapitulate this immense work, ignominiously reduced by hostile critics to a mere emanation of the “radical right,” and we will see that it is a real reservoir of ideas. As with all deposits, here too there are inexhaustible veins and others that are soon extinguished; galleries of infinite expanse and others that lead to dead ends; valuable materials and others that vanish on contact with the air. In any case, the deposit is there: in the huge collection of texts gathered in the volumes of the journals Nouvelle École, Éléments or Études & Recherches, not to mention the numerous publications published on the periphery of the ND, as well as in the overwhelming books by Alain de Benoist, and in the very long list of texts that have emerged around this initiative. It is a pity—and this says a lot about our times—that most of those who criticize the ND do so without having read a single page of this properly encyclopedic work.
What were the main lines of the critique of the ND? Synthesizing to the bare essentials—and, therefore, simplifying to the point of abuse—we can describe them in three vectors. The starting point was a triple refutation. In the first place, the reprobation of the social culture imposed since the 1960s—much before, in fact—by the left-wing intelligentsia, a social culture that translated into a singular mixture of forced egalitarianism, ideological materialism, generalized moral abdication and infinite hatred towards European identity. Secondly, a deep nonconformism towards the economic civilization imposed by the capitalist order in the West, that type of civilization where no other form of individual or collective life is understood, except through the selfishness of “best interest” and “profitability.” Thirdly, a very characteristic issue of the final years of the Cold War: the weariness of a Europe subjected to the despotism of a bipolar world and the anxious search for its own, European, way to regenerate the spirit of the old continent in the new and threatening world of the great superpowers.
From these three points of origin, the reflection of the ND unfolded in vectors that led naturally to identify; first, the root causes of the evil being criticized, and then to try to think of an alternative to the situation.
The critique of the cultural model of the left led to a dissection of egalitarianism, namely, that dogma of the essential equality of human beings. Such a dissection departed from the usual liberal critique of egalitarianism (that equality undermines efficiency because it inhibits ambition) and focused instead on underlining the anthropological foundations of difference, both among men and among peoples; difference which, in the discourse of the ND, was not so much aimed at creating a new legitimacy for this or that hierarchy as at proposing ways of thinking about diversity: of social functions within a community, of cultural identities, of forms of development, etc.
The second point, the critique of economic civilization—and its corollary, technical civilization—led to the identification of individualism as the origin of the process: Individualism, that is, the conviction that the ultimate horizon of all reflection and action is the individual; his autonomy identified as his “best interest;” his search for happiness interpreted in terms of material success, according to a pattern of behavior that extends from economic life to any other field; from politics to family relations. The need to propose a critical alternative to individualism—without falling, on the other hand, into the annulment of the individual typical of egalitarian systems—led to the search for an alternative sociality, a task in which materials as diverse as the “tribal” sociology of the postmodernists, Christian personalism or the theses of Anglo-Saxon communitarians were brought together: systems of life in common, where the person and the group are not antithetical elements, but complementary realities.
As for the third vector, which stems from dissidence with respect to the world order born of the Cold War, it took the form of a critique of universalism—although it would have been more accurate to speak of “globalism”—which led to a rejection of the idea of a planetary convergence around the North American model and the proposal of a sovereign Europe in the military, diplomatic and economic spheres, the defense of the cultural identities of all peoples, and an alliance of this sovereign Europe with the Third World.
These are, roughly speaking, the elements from which the thought of the ND developed. It would be too long to go into the derivations of each line; for example, the critique of the concept of “humanism,” the distrustful look towards technical civilization, the recovery of elements of the traditional ecological discourse, the proposal of an alternative conception of democracy and the State, the critique of nationalism as a “metaphysics of subjectivity,” etc. It would also be excessive to enumerate the theoretical materials that contributed to support this work; all of them can be found in the publications of the ND and to which we referred.
Criticism of Christianity
Within this work, there was a specific line of reflection that some consider fundamental and others secondary, but which in any case has had the virtue (or rather the defect) of absorbing attention to the point of obscuring the rest of the theoretical ensemble of the ND: the question of religion, resolved in an acerbic criticism of Christianity and in a vindication of a new kind of paganism.
Before explaining this point, it is necessary to point out that, in reality, the sources from which the attitude of the NR towards religion draws are very plural, very diverse, also contradictory: among the names that supported the birth of the Nouvelle École—the first great theoretical review of the movement—there are, for example, quite a few Christians. These sources, moreover, have not led to a homogeneous position, but to different attitudes, which, in turn, have undergone modifications over time. A perfect example of such heterogeneity is the survey, “Avec ou sans Dieu / With or without God,” organized by the magazine Éléments, where different authors related to the heteroclite galaxy of the ND (including myself) and explained their position on the matter. More than fifty years after the ND began its work of reflection, the balance in this matter is very abundant in terms of points of view and potentially rich in openings to other currents, but rather disappointing if one is looking for a solid and well-defined intellectual position. The “pagan drift” is an important feature of Alain de Benoist’s thought and, in this sense, it can be considered “canonical” with respect to the whole of the ND, since he is undoubtedly its main theoretician; but not even in this author can one speak of a continuous position over time, but rather of an evolution that is not always predictable. For the rest, the different strands that built the framework of the thought of the ND on religious matters have ended in dead ends or in an uncomfortable impasse. And this is what we must now examine.
When does the polemical question of Christianity—of anti-Christianity, rather—enter into the general discourse of the ND? It enters at the moment of genealogies, when we try to find the intellectual origin of egalitarianism, individualism and universalism. Christianity, in fact, has an important egalitarian component, since it endows all men equally with a soul of identical value for all, regardless of the place each one occupies in the world of the living; and all men equally will be submitted to divine judgment. Moreover, the Gospel message, abundant in formulas such as “he who humbles himself will be exalted and he who exalts himself will be humbled,” or “the last will be first,” seems designed to nourish subversion. Christianity also has an individualistic component, since salvation is entirely individual, affects only and exclusively the soul of each person and places man’s relationship with God on an eminently personal level. Christianity, finally, is a universal religion, where, as St. Paul preaches, after Revelation there are no longer Greeks or Jews, barbarians or Scythians, but we are all one in Christ, so that belonging to a community is expressly devalued and, in its place, a properly universal consciousness emerges: We are all one, in fact.
In this act of pointing to Christianity as the origin of the essential values of the modern world, it is easy to trace the influence of Nietzsche, both in the Genealogy of Morals and in Thus Spoke Zarathustra. But, in the specific case of the ND, perhaps even more important was the influence of the positivist philosopher Louis Rougier, who had recovered the old allegory of the Roman Celsus against Christians. Thus, it was that towards the end of the 1970s, Christianity was characterized in the discourse of the ND as “the Bolshevism of antiquity.” In an environment such as that of European culture in the 1970s, where a Church disrupted by the Second Vatican Council was openly playing the “progressive” card, this criticism seemed to be quite in line with reality.
Let us talk a little more about Louis Rougier, because his role in this story is important. With Rougier (1889-1982), the logical empiricism of the Vienna circle entered the early ambit of the ND (early 1970s). This source brought, from the outset, a scientistic attitude towards reality: empirical truth—read, experimental—became an efficient alternative to the prevailing “ideological” truths of the time, generally derived from the Marxist-Leninist paradigm. Remember that this is the time when biology seemed to be dominated by the environmentalist model of the Soviet Lyssenko and psychology was dominated by Freudian psychoanalysis, both schools which, in their translation into social philosophy, coincide in proposing egalitarian doctrines. As opposed to these doctrines, the ND claimed, in psychology, the experimental work of Eysenck, Jensen or Debray-Ritzen, and in biology, the contributions of ethology (Lorenz, Eibl-Eibesfeldt, etc.) and of the first sociobiologists (Wilson, Dawkins), who coincided in proposing differentialist, i.e., non-egalitarian, models. From this period dates also, by the way, an old error of the interested critics of the ND—the assimilation between their positions and those of sociobiologists. But the ND very quickly distanced itself from sociobiology because it considered that its approach was nothing but a reductionism to genetics. In its place was adopted the vision of Konrad Lorenz, based on a much more elaborate, non-reductionist philosophical anthropology, which perfectly integrated the biological dimension of the human and his cultural dimension: the anthropology of Arnold Gehlen.
From the scientific point of view, it is obvious today that the ND was betting correctly: genetics has proved to be a key discipline, while Lyssenko’s environmentalist delusions are no longer remembered. However, this position had a drawback from the philosophical point of view: it made the discourse of the ND gravitate around a scientistic materialism that vetoed an objective approach to the sacred. And this, despite the fact that some of the inspirers of this scientific position were avowedly Christian, as in the case of Konrad Lorenz.
Louis Rougier is also important in the forging of the discourse of the ND for another contribution, this one in the field of the history of political culture: his book Du paradis à l’utopie (From Paradise to Utopia), which is an explanation (very remarkable, by the way) of how the egalitarian messianism of the left derives directly from a secularization of Christian eschatology, from an earthly-ization of the message of salvation. The thesis of From Paradise to Utopia is, in general terms, unassailable: most of the redemptorist concepts of the left in general and of Marxism in particular find their antecedents in equivalent concepts of the Christian heritage. Thus, Providence is transformed into the Necessity of history and the ultraterrestrial Paradise is transmuted, through utopia, into paradise on earth. The fact that this supposed paradise has led to the Gulag only goes to show the absurdity of the transposition and the correctness of Rougier’s criticism. Now, from this point on, Rougier’s thesis reproaches Christianity for carrying, in germ, the seed of subversion; and in this sense, he will recover—later on—the warnings of the Roman Celsus against the threat that Christians represented for the empire. If Christianity could be secularized into a revolutionary ideal, it is because the Gospel message carried within itself this virtuality. This is the aforementioned characterization of Christianity as “the Bolshevism of antiquity.”
In this way, the anti- or post-Christian line of thought that stemmed from the 19th century came to connect with a general philosophy of scientific matrix, very typical of the 20th century. The “pagan rebellion” that can be traced in certain streaks of German and French romanticism, in the philosophy of Nietzsche and even in works such as Wagner’s (before his Parsifal), went hand-in-hand with the logical critique of the Christian mental model and ended up giving birth, in the ND, to a position of simultaneous rupture with Christianity and with modern ideologies, which were seen as nothing but secularized prolongations of the evangelical message.
The Weakness of the Philosophical Critique of Christianity
Now, to focus the critique of modernity on Christianity was an intellectually risky operation. First, because Christianity, although it is not only a doctrine of the afterlife, is above all a doctrine of spiritual salvation, in such a way that its concepts cannot always be understood as principles of an intellectual-ideological order, ready to be applied materially to the social or political terrain. It is true that preaching an equal soul for all men can be understood as a form of egalitarianism, but it is also true that, according to Christian doctrine, some of these men are saved and others are not, and there are few things less egalitarian than this difference. On the other hand, the theme of man created unanimously in the image and likeness of God is opposed by the parable of the talents, which is a metaphysics of inequality.
The same is true of the other modern “ideologemes” that the critique of the ND attributes to Christianity. For example, in Christian discourse, the theme of individualism—the soul is an individual attribute and salvation is also a matter of the individual—is opposed by the theme of the negation of individuality, expressed in terms that lead to proposing the radical renunciation of all things in the world. The same contradiction is found in the theme of universalism: if in the proclamation that “we are all one” there is an evident affirmation of the unity of believers above the earthly powers, it is no less true that this unity leaves out non-believers; and, on the other hand, the doctrine itself exposes a clear separation of the earthly and spiritual spheres, according to the formula “to God what is God’s, and to Caesar what is Caesar’s.” In other words, Christianity can be reproached for one thing and also for the opposite. Focusing the discourse on only one of the facets means deliberately hiding the other and, in that sense, falsifying the whole. To put it bluntly, it is as if the ND, in its critique of Christianity, were describing an object other than the one it intends to criticize.
Let us stress the question of egalitarianism, which is crucial. In general terms, the identification between Christianity and egalitarianism suffers from an initial error, namely—from metaphysical equality does not necessarily derive physical egalitarianism. It is true that the Church, in other times—and precisely in the 1970s—did not fail to fall into this error, allowing or encouraging (depending on the strands) that the doctrine of metaphysical equality (all men are brothers because they all have a soul that is an equal child of God) be “recovered” by the dominant egalitarian discourse (all men are equal). But what the ND does is methodologically debatable: it does not combat the error of these ecclesial strands, i.e., it does not examine the initial premise, but takes it as valid—that is, it accepts the identification between metaphysical equality and political egalitarianism—and from there deduces a general critique of Christianity as the matrix of all egalitarian thought. All subsequent discourse is affected by this methodological error of departure. The results are intellectually very fragile: the equality of souls before God cannot be identified with the equality of men in the State, if only because, in the first case, some are saved and others are not; neither can Christianity be identified with egalitarian thought, if only because, historically, all egalitarian thought has tended to burn down churches and de-Christianize those societies where it triumphed.
In the end, the ND is criticizing a false, phantom Christianity, a mistaken idea of Christianity. Naturally, it could be objected that what the ND criticizes is not Christianity as a religion, but Christianity as a worldview. But the objection itself betrays the error: Christianity is first and foremost a religion, and it makes little sense to criticize an object as something other than what it is. Another thing is that forces arising from the Church itself have desacralized Christianity—for example, turning it into a very materialistic theology of liberation. But here the error is in the executioner; that is, in those who have executed the desacralization, not in the victim, that is, in the desacralized Christianity.
In all this, let us emphasize that the thesis that modernity is a secularization of religious concepts remains valid: modern discourse is really incomprehensible if we do not understand it as secularization. Here we are approaching that Schmittian formula of “political theology”: modernity transfers to the political terrain numerous concepts that were once part of the theological terrain. That is to say that the general pattern of Du paradis a I’utopie (From Paradise to Utopia) is objectively correct, as is much of Louis Rougier’s analysis (think of Le génie de l’Occident /The Genius of the West). But what can be deduced from this pattern of analysis is not so much the secularized triumph of Christianity as its corruption: the supernatural has been translated as natural and thus its essence has been distorted.
The Problem of Paganism
Faced with this Christianity secularized by modernity and supposedly unmasked as “Bolshevism of antiquity,” the ND did not opt for atheism or agnosticism, for that would have led it to a materialism similar to that of liberals and Marxists, but dug into the romantic trunk and revived the term “paganism”: A paganism reconstructed somewhat to contemporary tastes, braided with strands of heroic vitalism, sacred sense of nature, religious dimension of the political community, aestheticizing eroticism, “trifunctional” image of social life according to the model discovered by Georges Dumézil in the Indo-European pantheons, elements of “traditional thought” (Evola, Guénon) and of the “philosophia perennis” (Huxley), models of interpretation of the sacred extracted from Rudolf Otto and Mircea Eliade, and so on…
The mixture was of the most heteroclite, but it was very suggestive. At a time when either the flatter materialism or the neo-spiritualist sects were spreading everywhere, the paganism of the ND offered a beautiful and attractive panorama. Above all, it offered a way of understanding the sacred at a time when churches were becoming empty. De Benoist expounded this paganism in Comment peut-on être paien (How to be a Pagan) and then underwent successive reformulations. The most brilliant is undoubtedly the dialogue between De Benoist and the Catholic thinker Thomas Molnar (another of the Catholics who supported De Benoist in the founding years of the ND), in the volume, L’éclipse du sacré (The Eclipse of the Sacred), which is a fascinating exploration of the universe of the spirit. Of course, the pagan option of the ND allowed for the shaping of an alternative spirituality from positions that were not egalitarian, but differentialist; not individualistic, but communitarian; not universalist, but identitarian.
The problem was that, in reality, this paganism had no real correlation with European antiquity, but was an intellectual construction twenty centuries later. It would be more appropriate to speak of a “neo-paganism.” It was a matter of updating pre-Christian ways of thinking the spiritual in relation to the social. The ND does not “resurrect” the ancient gods; that of “resurrection” is a widespread argument among critics of the ND, but it does not fit the reality of the texts. What the ND does is to recover the pre-Christian mental structure, which is interpreted as an essentially pluralistic and diversifying structure, and to oppose it to the Christian mental structure, which would be supposedly monistic and homogenizing. The context of this recovery was not of a strictly religious nature (replacing some gods with others), but of identity: to recover a specifically European way of thinking. In this context, the aesthetic rehabilitation of pagan forms—from the Greek column to the Celtic interlace—does not have a theological function, but a symbolic one; it is a matter of manifesting the validity of a deep-rooted, specifically European cultural world. And in this rehabilitated neo-paganism, where was the sacred, religion, properly speaking? It was left out of the game—and this is the big question. Generally speaking, the paganism of the “de Benoist strand” was enclosed in a “sociological” interpretation. Now, we can talk about the gods, but, if we do not believe in their real existence, are we not in an empty discourse? To interpret the plurality of gods as a poetic representation of the plurality of social, natural and human forces is a valid option; but, ultimately, it is no more scientific than to represent all these things not with gods, but with saints or constellations. Why resort to the pagan pantheon? Out of loyalty to the European tradition? Fine, but why should the pagan pantheon be more “traditional” than the Christian one, because it is autochthonous, uncontaminated by extra-European elements? But are not St. George, St. Benedict or St. Bernard, the processions of the Virgin or the spirit of the Crusade, or the German and Spanish mystics exclusively European?
A similar contradictory atmosphere appears in one of the “aestheticizing” features with which the ND wrapped its pagan strand, namely that of the “liberation of customs.” In the context of the 1970s and 1980s, the theme of “pagan liberation” enjoyed a certain social presentability—as opposed to the caricature of a Christianity drawn with the thick strokes of sexual repression, intellectual narrowness and social egalitarianism, the pagan imaginary represented a lost paradise of freedom of customs, vital joy, intellectual pluralism and political health. Undoubtedly, the second picture is much more sympathetic than the first. The problem is that the portrait is arbitrary.
In the history of pre-Christian Europe, we find as many examples of intellectual pluralism as of fanatical closed-mindedness, of political health as of generalized corruption, of vital joy as of dark superstitious terror, of freedom of customs as of moral austerity. Conversely, in the history of Christian Europe there is no lack (on the contrary, there are plenty) of examples of relaxed social customs, existential joviality, bold thinking and healthy political institutions; especially if we make the prescriptive differences between the colorful Catholic Mediterranean universe and the gloomy Anglo-Saxon Protestant world, for example. All this without going into other considerations, such as, for example, the usual conjunction of political decadence and intellectual splendor, so frequent in history; or, to stick to religious matters, the wide gap that exists in pagan Europe between “religious” thought (where it is possible to speak of such) and popular religiosity. Thus, the radical distinction between the luminous pagan world and the gloomy Christian world does not cease to be somewhat arbitrary. This distinction comes, in reality, from an inverted intellectual process: two series of values are chosen—one positive, the other negative—and are projected a posteriori on referents that contain a lot of imaginary, fantastic and mental construction. The resulting picture is attractive, as usually happens with imaginary creations; but it cannot seriously support a philosophical interpretation of the History of Religions.
On the other hand, and concerning the specific point of freedom of morals, in the discourse of the ND a not minor contradiction arises—even accepting that the pagan moral world is a “liberated” world (which in itself is debatable), how does one combine the defense of freedom of morals with the critique of the narcissistic hedonism of modern Western civilization? For one of the essential characteristics of modern Western civilization is hedonism, the existence of the masses for mass pleasure; and the ND, quite rightly, rebukes that hedonism with such endorsements as Christopher Lasch’s critique of the “Narcissus complex.” The current hedonism is a direct consequence of individualism, of that way of living—typically modern—which consists in the fact that the individual tends to cut all links with everything around him in order to privilege the narrow interest of his own “I”, something that the ND rightly criticizes. What does this “freedom of customs” have to do with that other elementary religiosity of sex as it occurs in primitive societies? Strictly nothing, one thing and the other correspond to different mental worlds. This should warn us against choosing certain contemporary values and projecting them onto past worlds; this will inevitably be an exercise in decontextualization, i.e., a lax construction.
It is not possible to defend freedom of customs and at the same time reprove the narcissistic hedonism of Western civilization. In the same way that it is not possible to defend the importance of one’s own cultural tradition, the validity of the sacred and the European historical identity, and at the same time to proscribe Christianity, which in its Catholic form—more than in its Protestant form—is the form in which the sacred has traditionally manifested itself in the sphere of European identity.
But perhaps the point from which the inadequacy of the ND critique of Christianity is most clearly perceived is precisely that of the charges of the accusation; that is, all those themes in which the anti-Christian discourse of the ND believed it saw the origin of modern evil. For it turns out that those themes—individualism, egalitarianism, universalism—are not exclusively Christian. The idea of the immortal soul breathed into all men appears, in Europe, at least with Pythagoras, that is, in the 6th century BC. Likewise, the idea that there is an inherent quality in the individual, something that singles him out and makes him unique, appears in the Greco-Latin sphere and finds a concrete expression in the concept of “person” developed by the Roman jurists. Finally, the concept of the universal appears, in philosophy, with Plato’s theory of ideas, and in politics, with the praxis of the Roman Empire. Thus, those three “ideologemes” of modernity—egalitarianism, individualism, universalism—which in Christian doctrine appeared in an ambiguous and contradictory manner, appear with much greater clarity in the pagan cultural tradition. Nietzsche himself, in The Birth of Tragedy, did not so much point against the Nazarene as against Socrates, inventor of the “spirit itself.”
And even more, within the presumably pagan arsenal that the ND recovers, there are essential elements that, nevertheless, belong equally to the Christian order. This is the case, for example, of the trifunctional scheme that Dumézil interpreted—brilliantly—in the Indo-European pantheons and that structured at the same time the world of the gods and the world of men around three functions: the first, that of wisdom, identified with priesthood, kingship and law; the second, that of vital force, identified with war, the nobility of arms; the third, that of production and sustenance, identified with agriculture, work, craftsmanship. It is true that the pagan gods of the Indo-European peoples can be structured in these three families, and it is true that the scheme is likewise reproduced in the social order of ancient Europe. It is, moreover, the model that, as Plato tells us, Socrates imagined: a society of human aspect where there is a head (first function, ruling), a chest (second function, warrior) and a belly (third function, producer). Now, this is exactly the same model that Catholic Europe will maintain for a millennium and a half—with the degenerations we know—from the fall of the Roman Empire to the French Revolution, on the basis of the three medieval orders: oratores, bellatores, laboratories. Where is the Christian subversion?
These things are so obvious that, evidently, they could not escape the attention of those who worked in the field. Whether one held a strictly religious view, that is, of belief in supernatural realities, or whether one defined the sacred in philosophical-sociological terms, that is, as a way of representing a worldview, the pagan option was no less problematic than the Christian one. From this point on, the discourse of the ND began to describe theoretical ellipses that did not fail to raise interesting reflections, but which inevitably returned—by definition—to the starting point. We can mention some of them by way of complementary illustration.
A first ellipse was the scientific one: the reflections derived from subatomic physics—Heisenberg, Lupasco, Nicolescu, etc.—led to the identification of a sort of underlying order in the realm of matter and, therefore, to the perception of a sacred imprint in the world. Anne Jobert expounded this in her study, Le retour d’Hermès : de la science au sacré (The Return of Hermes: From Science to the Sacred). The question was of enormous interest and was linked to one of the great contemporary debates. It could have meant a way of thinking the sacred in intimate relation with the scientific interpretation of the world. However, no one in the ND—apart from Jobert herself—went further along that line. On the contrary, from the 1990s onwards, the inspiration of “spiritualist physics” disappeared and was replaced by a pure neo-Darwinism, a position represented in particular by Charles Champetier. Where the strand “scientific spirituality” was followed, so to speak, was no longer in the French ND, but in Italy (Nuova Destra Italiana), in particular with the work of Roberto Fondi, on organicism.
Another example of theoretical ellipsis was the opening of the ND—especially through the journal Krisis—towards Christian personalism, with an interesting debate between Alain de Benoist and Jean-Marie Domenach, Mounier’s intellectual executor—since the ND had marked a position contrary to modern individualism and mass society, nothing more natural than to converge with a current of thought that had arrived at the same position from a different starting point. But Christian personalism is, by definition, Christian, and its concept of the person is built on the conviction that all individuals possess a transcendent value that is identified with the soul. Perhaps the ND could have taken its cue from this convergence with Christian personalism to recover the Roman concept of “person,” but there was no such convergence. On the other hand, around the same time, Nouvelle École published a long work by Alain de Benoist on (against) Jesus of Nazareth, which in reality was nothing more than a recovery of the old and hostile Jewish literature against the “false Messiah.” Another road closed.
More ellipses? The philosophical one, for example. The ND emerged from the Nietzsche impasse by incorporating Heidegger into its theoretical stock. The Heideggerian critique of Western metaphysics—a critique to which the concept of the “will to power” does not escape—could be interpreted as a definitive diagnosis of the modern disease. And the Heideggerian imperative to “think what the Greeks thought, but in an even more Greek way” could well be interpreted as a demand for a return to the pagan origin. Now, Heidegger’s own interpretation, with its denunciation of the “forgetfulness of Being,” carries an implicit longing not only for the sacred as “enchantment of the world” (Weber), but also for the divine as an active presence in the realm of matter. This explains that famous statement to Der Spiegel: “Only a God can save us.”
Personally—and may I be excused for summarily dismissing a matter so subject to discussion—I believe that Heidegger tried throughout his life to speak of God, obstinately trying to do so without pronouncing the word God and personifying Him in the concept Being, and his last breath was precisely to say that only a God can save us. It is a similar path to that of another of the key thinkers for the ND, Ernst Jünger, with the relevant exception that he discovered the divine imprint with less makeup, invoked it frequently and ended up, as is known, converting to Catholicism, despite being from a Protestant background. The discourse of the ND, in this sense, returns once again to its own starting point: it does not hurry the reasoning, it stops before the necessary logical leap—thinking the sacred as divine presence—and goes back to the same place where the first question had been posed.
It is not difficult to suspect that these elliptical developments obey an objection of principle, a mental reservation, a prejudice of departure: the line of thought developed by Alain de Benoist, so fruitful in other fields, so ready to venture into diverse territories—so capable, for example, of reaching convergences with a certain intellectual left on the critique of the market or on the praise of the idea of community—nevertheless suffers from a clear taboo on religious matters, a kind of insurmountable inhibition. This taboo, this inhibition, is no mystery, but is a substantial part of modern thought. It is simply the impossibility of thinking of God—or, more generically, the divinity—as Someone endowed with real existence. The ND shares this modern prejudice that consists in discarding the hypothesis of God. It is interesting—the ND, which has criticized so much—and so rightly—the Western model of thought, both scholastic and Cartesian, because it desacralizes the world, because it separates the sacred from nature, nevertheless remains subject to that same model by implicitly discarding the hypothesis of God.
This is not a new phenomenon in the history of ideas. Let us recall the scene: University of Tübingen, 1791; three young students named Hegel, Hölderlin and Schelling attempt to enlighten a philosophy so spiritual as to satisfy people of a religious temperament and, at the same time, a religion so exact and systematized as to satisfy people of a philosophical spirit. The result was philosophically estimable, but, from the religious point of view, it was an entirely artificial construction. For religion necessarily demands the participation of mystery, and to create mystery is not something within the reach of men.
But let us stop here, because it would take us too far. We can limit ourselves to stating the ultimate conclusion of this journey through the religious problematic of the ND, namely—we are facing a dead end. Consequently, it is valid to think that the itinerary was badly traced from the beginning.
In the end, work in the field of the History of Ideas always runs the risk of Ideas emancipating themselves from History, so that we end up with formally estimable constructions, but with no real basis. To put it in a few words: if Christianity were really the seed of the modern world—materialist, egalitarian, etc.—it would be necessary to explain how it was possible for Christianity to reign in the West for a millennium and a half without the emergence of the modern order, and even more, it would be necessary to explain why the first providence of the modern order, wherever it arose, was always and unfailingly to proclaim the death of Christianity. Since it is impossible to explain these two things and maintain logical coherence, there is no choice but to think that the analysis of the ND, on this point, is wrong.
This does not prevent us from thinking that Christianity faces a major challenge, and this concerns Catholicism more specifically, because it is the last great reservoir of sacredness in the West. This challenge does not concern theological discourse, which is impregnable by its very nature, but the philosophical discourse with which the Church presents itself in the world of secularization; that is, in that world where the sacred has been confined to a corner and religiosity is an individual choice like any other. Before the explosion of modernity, religion, Western metaphysics and political order tended to be one and the same thing; on the contrary, after the revolutions, the Enlightenment—and its glories and its ruins—the triumph of technical civilization and the great wars of the twentieth century, world order goes one way, culture goes another and religion seeks a place in the sun. If in the past Western metaphysics was inseparable from ecclesiastical cathedrae, it is obvious that it has long since ceased to be so; if in the past the order of the world was inseparable from the authority of the Papacy, it is equally obvious that today there is nothing of the sort; if in the past culture and the feeling of the sacred could maintain a relationship of close intimacy, today it is also obvious, finally, that this bond has been broken.
In this regard, Rome has come a long way since the 19th century, and Christian thought (or, if one prefers, the thought of Christians who have dedicated themselves to thinking) has not failed to provide very interesting insights. But the major forces guiding the culture of our time—criticism, suspicion, doubt, uncertainty, fragmentation, nihilism—have shaken the Church as they have everything else, creeds and certainties, ideologies and philosophies. If it was difficult to make faith survive in the world of scientific positivism, as was the case in the 19th century, the task seems even more difficult in the world of technical nihilism, which is the one in which we live. Thus, Christian thought seems fundamentally problematic in matters such as man’s relationship with nature, the presence of religion in the political and social order or the validity of tradition in a culture of permanent change, to give just three examples of daily debates.
However, in this atmosphere of aftermath, where everything seems to have been pushed to its ultimate extreme, as if dragged by the hair by a demonic force, this is precisely where the fundamental questions come back to the fore. No one wonders what is on the other side of the river until their feet touch the shore; today we are already soaked to the waist. This, in any case, is a matter for another reflection. The only thing to be regretted, to return to the thread of our theme, is that the ND or the French New Right, due to its own inhibitions, is no longer in a position to attend this event.
José Javier Esparza, Soanish historian, journalist, writer, has published around thirty books about the history of Spain. He currently directs and presents the political debate program “El gato al agua,” the dean of its genre in Spanish audiovisual work. (Thank you to Arnaud Imatz for all his wonderful help).
The Spanish philosopher, Gustavo Bueno Martínez (1924-2016), is known for the system he created and which he called, “philosophical materialism,” which holds that philosophy is neither science nor wisdom but second-degree knowledge, in that philosophy requires first-degree knowledge (biological, mathematocal, political, technical) before it can begin to constitute itself. Bueno is an important thinker of the right. In the article that follows, Bueno recoups “oracular philosophy,” from the denigration given it by positivism.
The expression “Oracular Philosophy” was used by Karl Popper in the second part of his famous book, The Open Society and its Enemies, written during the Second World War and published in 1945, in two volumes, the first devoted to Plato and the second to Hegel and Marx (it would seem that Popper’s offensive against the Soviet Union, very little “political” at a time when the Soviets were entering Berlin, was diverted towards Plato and Hegel, through whom Nazism could be glimpsed). Indeed, in the second part, entitled “The High Tide of Prophecy,” the opening chapters, 11 and 12, are devoted to “The Rise of Oracular Philosophy,” where Hegelianism is discussed. Chapter 24, under the heading “The Aftermath,” is entitled “Oracular Philosophy and the Rebellion against Reason.”
These chapters by Popper constitute an attack on what he called “oracular philosophy,” an idea very close to the most elementary and naive positivism, along the lines of the old dichotomies proposed by Lévy-Bruhl (prelogical thinking/logical thinking), or in the distinction of W. Nestle (myth/logos).
For Popper, oracular philosophy is that philosophy which, instead of resorting to “reason” (“that is to say, to clear thinking and experience”), resorts to the methods of prophecy, revelation or oracle, unfolding towards a vision of the future of human societies which, instead of being exposed through clear reasoning, reaches for the most irrational methods, such as oracles, founded more on a mystical and irrational inspiration than on a philosophical discourse. The oracular philosophy, according to Popper, despises other men, because it has the conviction of the truth of its intellectual intuition (“Plato believed that reason is shared only by the gods and by a few select men”). The oracular style of philosophizing avoids dialogue, preferring to speak dogmatically, as if the foundations of the predictions and the content of the predictions were thoroughly known. The critique of oracular philosophy is thus directed against totalitarian thinking.
Popperian anti-totalitarianism, radical in 1945, formed a reservoir for the anti-totalitarianism of ‘68, and most especially for that editorial movement that took the name of nouveaux philosophes, with a common root, re-created through Michel Foucault, which continued in two distinct currents: the one taken by André Glucksmann (1975: The cook and the man-eater, a reflection on the State, Marxism and concentration camps) and Bernard-Henri Lévy (1977: Barbarism with a human face); and the one taken by Alain Baidou.
For our part, we have always been faced with the radical, disjunctive opposition to any oracular philosophy as such. An oracle is a channel of expression that (especially if it presents itself in the guise of a shaman or prophet) cannot reduce the flows that it channels, and therefore it cannot be accepted that the expression “oracular philosophy” is a contradictory impossibility, a “wooden iron.”
Philosophy, as an institution, did not come out of nothing, out of prelogical thought, nor did it emerge in the years in which “reason” freed itself from the mystical mists of “myth.” Philosophy began with the oracles, and remained in history, to a certain extent, in function of them.
Ancient philosophy, for example, manifested itself, first of all, through the oracle of Delphi, when it advised those who approached its precincts: “Know thyself.” For this oracle was taken up by Socrates, and centuries later by Linnaeus, who, in the tenth edition of his Systema naturae, identified the oracular message, no less, to define Man as Homo sapiens, and later as Homo sapiens sapiens.
Philologists usually warn that the “road map” proposed by the Delphic oracle did not have a humanistic-metaphysical objective, but a much more prosaic and pragmatic one (know your possibilities of action, curb your hybris!). However, this pragmatic and prosaic norm could have evolved, becoming the norm of Man himself or of Humanity in general (at least until Man himself ceased to exist). And this evolution would have the same scope that the logos, subsequently to a situation as insignificant as could be the theorem of the diametrical triangle of Thales (intuited “oracularly,” not proven, but asking for a hecatomb), could have developed applying itself to other domains of the cosmos, and even to the same spherical cosmos of Anaximander or Empedocles.
But oracular philosophy not only flowed through the oracle of Delphi; it flowed again through the oracles of Ephesus, from the temple of Diana, which had been visited by Heraclitus and by St. John. It was, in short, the Christian oracles that, confronted with the Jewish and Mohammedan oracles, announced that God was not unique, individual, but that he was triune, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. And this oracle would have been the one that succeeded, among other things, in transforming the ancient individual, the citizen who had already been transformed into a theatrical person through his tragic mask, into a real person.
“Towards the end of the second century there were two opposing monarchist currents, the modalist and the dynamist. The modalist is usually designated by the name of Sabellianism, because of its main representative, Sabellius. The Libyan Sabellius, who taught in Rome and was condemned by Pope Callixtus (217-222), proposed the following formula: One God in three persons, using the word according to its classical sense of role in the theater, of mask. God himself, insofar as He acts as Creator and Ruler of the world, is called Father; when he appears in the role of Incarnate Redeemer, He is called Son; in His role as dispenser of grace, He receives the name of Holy Spirit. This formula had the advantage of allowing Christ to be considered as true God. But at the same time, it eliminated the real distinction between Father, Son and Holy Spirit. According to it, God manifested Himself in three different ways (hence the name modalism), and therefore was called by three different names. This was tantamount to disregarding the testimony of Sacred Scripture, where the real distinction, at least, between Father and Son is clearly expressed. For the rest, Sabellianism was soon discarded. In Rome it was above all the learned presbyter Hippolytus who set himself the task of combating it.
The other direction of monarchianism maintains the real distinction between the Father and the Son, but in order not to endanger the uniqueness of God, it subordinates the Son to the Father (hence the name subordinationism). This direction then branched out into various systems in order to explain in what sense it was still possible to call Christ God: whether God dwelt in the man Christ or whether He conferred upon the man Christ divine forces (dynamis, hence dynamism). Such systems had already been condemned by Pope Zephyrinus (around 200-217), the predecessor of Callixtus, but at every moment they reared their heads again. In the second half of the third century, the bishop of Antioch, Paul of Samosata, was deposed by a synod for holding a similar doctrine. It seems, however, that even later analogous doctrines were taught in Antioch, especially by the learned Lucian, who died a martyr in 312. In the dogmatic polemics of that time, we find readily used by Pope Dionysius (260-268) the formula of the consubstantiality (consubstantialis, in Greek, homoousios) of the Father with the Son, thanks to which the solution was later found.” (Ludwig Hertling, S. I., Historia de la Iglesia, Editorial Herder, Barcelona 1964, second expanded edition, pp. 92-93).
However, the history of philosophical oracles remains to be written. It is necessary to enter more deeply into the analysis of the oracles that spoke in the schism of the West, through Luther, Calvin, Servetus or Newton; and, if you will, Kant or Nietzsche.
In any case, it would not be justified to confuse the history of philosophical oracles with the oracular history of philosophy, which we discussed in our Tessera 128, “Oracular Philosophy.” It could even be said that the oracular history of philosophy assumes an opposite perspective to the history of oracular philosophy, since the former aims to erase the halo of philosophers who deserve to be considered for their doctrines, while the latter aims to transform philosophers such as Schopenhauer, Nietzsche or Heidegger into oracles.
Such happens in the process of formation of new scattered groups of philosophy professors competent in editorial matters, which are incorporated in the anthological editions of the works of “great thinkers,” presenting, for example today, Schopenhauer, Nietzsche or Heidegger, rather as oracles than as formers of philosophical systems and acting from more or less mystical (oracular) coordinates of anarchist sign.
From 1915 to 1919, the popular library, Los grandes pensadores (The Great Thinkers), promoted by the heirs of the Modern School of Francisco Ferrer Guardia (whose librarian and editor, Mateo Morral Roca, threw the bomb on May 31, 1906 at the wedding procession of Alfonso XIII in the Calle Mayor in Madrid), selected among these great thinkers Voltaire, Rousseau, Diderot, Volney, Lamennais, Michelet, Victor Hugo, all under a common design on all covers, The Thinker by Rodin. In 1925 the library of the Revista de Occidente published six volumes devoted to The Great Thinkers: Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, St. Augustine, St. Thomas, Giordano Bruno, Descartes, Spinoza, Leibniz, Locke, Hume, Kant, Fichte, Hegel, Schopenhauer and Nietzsche. etc.
VOX is a Spanish political party founded in 2013 by former members of the conservative PP (Popular Party). A member of The European Conservatives and Reformists Group, a center right political group of the European Parliament, VOX is committed to NATO and the EU, but is classified as populist and far-right by its opponents and enemies.
Every summer, as is well known, has its informative “silly season.” The one of this summer of 2023 is undoubtedly VOX: the crisis of VOX, the disappearance of VOX, the demolition of VOX, the annihilation of VOX or even the apocalypse of VOX, which in terms of nouns, when it comes to summer silly seasons, none are superfluous. Let’s just call it the drama of VOX. And as in every drama, hidden in the prompt corner of the stage, we discover the prompter. In this case, a veritable crowd of prompters.
The sudden convergence of “everyone against VOX” is very evidently part of strategies designed from outside the party in question, but it is true that VOX has become a problem. For the enemies, because the bug refuses to die, and for the friends, or for those who once were friends, because VOX has turned out to be something different from what they once thought it was. Between the pressure from one and the other, VOX may end up becoming a problem even for its own voters. In this way, VOX would end up in the sad list of parties that could have been and were not, such as UPyD, Ciudadanos and soon, hopefully, Podemos. In the end, the function of VOX, like that of the previous ones, would have been none other than to temporarily correct the inadequacies of the two-party system. Some people are already selling the bear’s skin before it is hunted (counting the chickens before they are hatched). It is not surprising that the sellers (the prompters of our drama) have their bazaar in the media factories of the “right-wing” opinion. Another thing is that there really is merchandise to put on sale.
When Everyone Discovered “Their” VOX
That the left attacks VOX is entirely natural: the Spanish left has never had such a tough enemy before. The attacks coming from the other side deserve more attention: why has the press, conventionally called “right-wing” (that is to say, the one that is not on the left), broken away to sell the offal of VOX? This is a particularly interesting issue, and on which what follows will focus.
First of all, it is worth recalling something. When VOX made its big leap, in the 2018 Andalusian elections, we were able to witness a portentous spectacle: dozens of right-wing (and center) opinionators turned to Santiago Abascal’s party, which they had generally ignored or despised in previous years, and opened the doors of the mainstream media for him. Not only did they open them, but they spread red carpets for VOX to enter, and adorned Abascal’s temples with laurels; and if they did not send Canephorae to offer him myrtle and acanthus, it was simply because nobody remembers who Ruben was anymore. In that spectacular reception there was, however, something disturbing: the VOX that the manufacturers of right-wing opinion were discovering was not VOX itself, but “their” VOX; that is to say, what everyone wanted to see in the phenomenon of the moment. It is necessary to understand this—that we were coming out of the frosts of the Rajoy septennium (2011-2018), hodgepodge of all the disappointments, and everybody was looking for a new hope. That is why everyone saw in VOX what they wanted to see.
Liberals wanted to see a party that, at last, openly proposed a model of restriction of public spending and low taxes after Rajoy’s social-democratic betrayal. Christians wanted to see a party that dared to raise, without qualms, issues such as the right to life (i.e., the limitation of abortion) or full freedom of education. Conservatives wanted to see the party that was really going to stand up to the social and cultural hegemony of the left. The self-styled “constitutionalists” wanted to see an incorruptible defender of linguistic freedoms, national unity and the equality of all before the law, in the face of the continuous separatist blackmail. The identitarians wanted to see the party that for the first time dared to denounce the ravages of illegal immigration. The patriots wanted to see the party that was going to put national interests ahead of the demands of Brussels. Everyone, in short, wanted to see in VOX the party that was going to represent them precisely where no one, neither on the right nor on the left, could do so already. Even more—for many, the appearance of VOX was supposed to force the People’s Party (PP) to return to being a “right-wing” party.
It is true that VOX has been, to a greater or lesser extent, all those things. However, it was not fully any of them, nor did it want to be. VOX was born to respond to some very specific realities; but political reality is dynamic, never static. On the other hand, this reality, so to speak, is made up of different but interconnected spheres (economic, social, institutional, etc.) that rarely admit a univocal interpretation. In other words, one can be more or less liberal in economic matters, more or less conservative in cultural matters, more or less Christian in social matters and more or less sovereigntist in State policy— and the result need not be contradictory, but it would inevitably leave unsatisfied those who sought a solely liberal or solely Christian response, for example.
The Frustrated Expectation: It Turns Out that VOX had a Life of its Own
In part—and only in part—what is happening right now around VOX has a lot to do with this frustration of expectations. It turns out that VOX had a life of its own. Liberals have begun to feel uncomfortable with a party that, as a patriotic party, criticizes globalist ideology, as an identitarian party, criticizes mass immigration, and as a Christian party, criticizes abortion and LGTB ideology. Christians have begun to feel uncomfortable with a party that, as patriotic, dissents from episcopal laxity towards illegal immigration and, as conservative, insists on fighting battles from which the Church has already retreated. Conservatives have begun to feel uncomfortable with a party that, because it is identitarian and patriotic, shuns the consensus of the system, does not slobber all over Brussels, is little given to exercises of moderation, is excessively open to the popular classes and climbs up on tractors. The “constitutionalists” (always self-described) are beginning to feel uncomfortable with a party that puts the nation ahead of the Constitution. The identitarians are beginning to feel uncomfortable with a party that is too open to immigration of Latin American origin. And even the patriots, they too, feel uncomfortable with a party whose foreign policy coincides with NATO. So, suddenly, a lot of people seem to have discovered that VOX is not what they thought it was. So, the erstwhile reed-pipes have started to turn into spears (or knives).
Apart from personal issues and petty squabbles, all these reservations, all these “discomforts” must be taken with the utmost seriousness, because they are part of the political reality of our time, and in a very particular way, in the sphere of what is known as “the right wing.” Moreover, the exercise allows us to understand what a movement like VOX can paint in the current landscape.
The conventional right and left, in Spain as elsewhere, are formations that respond to a vision of reality still inherited from the 20th century: liberalism versus socialism, Atlanticism versus sovietism, Christianity versus nihilism, Constitution versus separatism, etc. This mental framework still persists today because it is comfortable and, moreover, guarantees the survival of the main stakeholders involved—but it has long since ceased to respond to objective reality.
What really survives today of the old families, of the twelve tribes of the lost right? Globalism has ruined the liberal dream of a world that would achieve justice and prosperity by itself through the virtues of the market alone. The evolution of our political system has ruined the “constitutionalist” dream since it has been demonstrated that the Constitution can be dynamited within the constitutional system itself. The drift of the Church under the pontificate of Francis has ruined the dream of political Catholicism, which believed it was possible to build a social right capable of defending non-negotiable values under the protection of the sturdy pillar of the Holy Mother. The brutal ideological paradigm shift of this decade, which has turned nation states into mere administrators of Agenda 2030 and the West into a progressive theme park of globalization, has ruined the conservatives’ dream, for the simple reason that there is nothing left worth preserving. This is the reality of that which is called “the right wing” at this point in the 21st century. And no brighter, by the way, is the horizon of the left, which gets its masses drunk on gallons of infantile nihilism, while handing over real sovereignty to powers alien to the people (to any people).
We are not talking about theoretical issues, but all of this has an immediate translation at the level of daily politics. For example, one cannot continue to happily defend “legal and orderly immigration” when one knows that the phenomenon pulls down wages and, by that means, impoverishes the already impoverished middle classes. Also, for example, one cannot continue dogmatically embracing the free circulation of goods when one knows that this means giving priority to foreign products manufactured at a better price (because they are produced under worse conditions) and condemning local producers to closure. And also for example, and to take a very Spanish case, one cannot continue to champion the Autonomous Regions, when one knows that, in practice, this is leading to a galloping limitation of citizens’ freedoms and to a steady erosion of the State itself.
All these things have made the terms “right” and “left” contain less and less substance. The left knows it and that is why they have resorted to desecrating tombs to cover up their ideological emptiness. They also know it in the PP, which has opted to renounce any strong idea for the sake of “centrality.” But these are twists and turns. Reality moves, things change and politics, which is the government of things, cannot remain oblivious to the transformation. Unless one decides to let oneself go, to follow the dominant current, to abstain from any action, from any decision, and to limit oneself to manage what is there. That is where the PP has wanted to place itself and that is what VOX does not support (and that is why in the factories of the right they no longer support VOX).
Tearing the Media Shroud
Now the PP and its opinionators feed the “VOX hecatomb” with the undisguised ambition of keeping the spoils of the corpse: “Of those three million VOX votes, two would be enough for us to do what we want to do.” Well… to do what? Because that is where the question lies; but this is precisely the question that right-wing opinion makers have decided not to raise. They remain in their old frame of mind. So old that they explain the VOX crisis as a struggle between Falangists and fundamentalists against liberals; that is, the terms we would use to explain a ministerial crisis in 1969. It is as if we were describing the quarrels of the European Commission talking about Guelphs and Ghibellines. Actually, it is not only VOX who should be self-critical.
It is said that Manuel Fraga (General Franco’s Minister of Tourism and Information between 1962 and 1969, and Minister of the Interior from 1975 to 1976, after King Juan Carlos I’s accession to the throne—Trans.) once, while evaluating the Spanish media landscape in the late 1980s, uttered the following sentence: “In Spain, the right wing will not win as long as Anson continues to run ABC.” The dictum has to be taken as a synecdoche and can be interpreted as follows: in Spain the right wing will not win an election as long as its opinion factories continue to be tied to the interests and servitudes intertwined in the last twenty years. In reality, it was the other way around: first came the victory of the PP in 1996 and then the departure of Anson from ABC, although the old master was already badly mauled. Be that as it may, the essence of the sentence applies to us: the Spanish right wing will not be able to change the country in depth as long as its opinion factories remain tied to the networks of interests consolidated over the last forty years, whether they are local hyper-leaderships or corporate interests, or well-tied subsidy systems. For that world, for its tribunes and talking heads and opinionators, VOX is a strange phenomenon that does not fit into their comfortable mental framework. It is easier to resort to labels from more than half a century ago: Falangists, fundamentalists, liberals and all those things. It is easier, yes—but it is a lie. And they know it.
Now the question is to see if VOX will be able to overcome the story of its own death and build a new mental framework, an atmosphere of ideas where it can breathe. It will not be easy, because the mainstream media have already woven the shroud of the deceased. From now on—although, in reality, all this began halfway through the last electoral campaign—everything that happens in VOX will be unanimously interpreted as a sure symptom of imminent extinction. And yet, all the problems that VOX has been putting on the table will continue to be present: the rupture of national unity, the objective reduction of liberties in the hands of separatism and its left-wing crutches, the objective fading of national sovereignty (in energy, health, food, etc.) with immediate harm to ordinary citizens, the rampant degradation of social morality and citizen security, etc.
In the end, the strength of VOX is not in the ideological families that compose it, but in the lacerating reality that it denounces. That was what drove the movement from its beginnings—and that is the framework from which it should not depart, on pain of ending up, this time—yes—like those other parties that could have been and were not. In other words: VOX must get off the stage and write its own drama. And let the self-criticism be made by the prompter himself.
Blas Infante (1885-1936), father of the Andalusian homeland, revered by all the partitocracy, from the PP to the communists, explained in an interview, two months after the proclamation of the Second Soanish Republic (in 1931), the objectives of the Andalusians:
The liberalists [synonym for Andalusians], having demolished that barrier of slavery [the large estates], we go even further—to unite, for Andalusia, in a common heartbeat, 300 million human beings whose culture was destroyed by ecclesiastical tyranny.
Do you see that moment as imminent?
A crash in Europe, for example, a new war, would automatically produce it. Then 1.200.000 Andalusians who live their nostalgia from Tangier to Damascus, and the 300 million men of Afro-Asia, who dream for our culture, would take action to destroy once and for all the influence of the North.
Sixty years later, in 1993, Moroccan King Hassan II declared the following to a French television station:
Interviewer: Would you want Muslims to integrate in France? Are you for or against the principle of integration?
Hassan II: I would not want them in any way to be the object of an integration attempt because they will never integrate.
Do you believe that they will not want to, or that it will be the French who will refuse them?
They will not be able to. It would be possible among Europeans, because their world is the same, their religion, etc. European movements throughout history have been between East and West. But this is between continents, and there is nothing to do: they will be bad French.
So, do you advise us not to try to integrate?
I advise you, as far as my Moroccans are concerned, not to try to change your nationality, because you will never be 100% French. I can assure you.
In October 2020, religious leader Nidhal Siam made the following statements from the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem:
The civilization of France and the West is a civilization of lies and sin, of atheism and heresy. They hate the true religion of Allah, the religion of monotheism. Theirs is the civilization of prostitution, promiscuity and homosexuality. That is why they hate the Prophet Mohammed. Take note, Macron! With the holy war we will destroy your honor and your bad life! Tomorrow we will conquer Paris! From the Al-Aqsa Mosque we say to Macron, the enemy of Allah and his prophet, that soon there will be a caliphate led by the Prophet Muhammad. His great armies will advance to the cry of “Allah is great!” and “There is no God but Allah!” to invade France and conquer Rome and thus implant justice and light. Soon, Macron, we will destroy your corrupt civilization and purge the earth of capitalist garbage. With the help of Allah, we will soon rule you with justice and the magnificent civilization of Islam. Then the peoples of Europe will realize all the evil brought to them by the French Revolution. The only answer to France and its president is to declare holy war in the name of Allah.
The Guinean Cardinal Robert Sarah, perhaps protected by his status as a black African which allows him to speak with a freedom dangerous for a white European, has stood out in recent years for his frequent statements warning Europe of its early demise for having abandoned its roots and for having allowed the arrival of millions of immigrants who will destroy it from within:
My greatest concern is that Europe has lost its awareness of its origins; it has lost its roots. A tree that has no roots, dies. I am afraid that the West is dying. There are many symptoms. There are no births and you are being invaded by other cultures, by other peoples who are going to outnumber you and totally change your culture, your convictions, your values.
Two years ago, in April 2021, a thousand French military officers, including twenty generals, published an open letter to the president, governors and parliamentarians, warning of the serious danger of disintegration and civil war in France, caused by Afro-Asian immigration:
The moment is serious. France is in danger. Numerous mortal dangers threaten her… Our honor demands us to denounce the disintegration that threatens our homeland. Disintegration which, through a certain anti-racism, has only one aim: to create on our soil unrest, even hatred in society. Some speak today of racism, of indigenism and decolonizing theories, but what these hateful fanatics are aiming for is racial warfare. They despise our country, its traditions, its culture, and want to destroy it by uprooting its past and its history… Disintegration which, with Islamism and the hordes of the peripheries, implies the separation of multiple parcels of the nation to transform them into territories subject to dogmas contrary to our constitution… The dangers increase, the violence grows day by day. Who could have imagined ten years ago that one day a teacher would be beheaded when leaving the classroom?… Those who lead our country must courageously eradicate these dangers. To achieve this, it is enough to apply without weakness the laws that already exist. Do not forget that, like us, a large majority of our fellow citizens are exasperated by your indecision and your guilty silences… If nothing is done, laxity will continue to spread inexorably through society, eventually causing an explosion and the intervention of our active comrades in a dangerous mission to protect our civilizational values and safeguard our compatriots on the national territory. As we can see, it is no longer time for contemplation; otherwise, this growing chaos will lead to civil war, and the dead, for which you will be responsible, will number in the thousands.
We could go on with a thousand more testimonies, but these will suffice. What is happening these days in France has been going on all over Europe for a long time. And while chaos is knocking at our doors, in Eastern Europe thousands of young Russians and Ukrainians are killing each other. And in Western Europe, thousands of freaks wiggle through the streets dressed as baboons, showing their multicolored asses to the children.
Times change, certainly, though some things remain the same. With Turkish cannons battering down the gates of Constantinople, the last Byzantines entertained themselves, discussing the sex of angels. The last Europeans of today prefer to discuss the sex of the human being, a creature much closer and easier to observe but much more difficult to define given its eight hundred sexes.
What is knocking on our decayed doors today is not an Ottoman army, but hordes of French vandals with French passports and born in France but who, given their Afro-Asian roots, hate a France and a Europe they wish to see destroyed. And with the help of pure-blooded Frenchmen who, like our patriotic leftists, are delighted to collaborate in their self-destruction.
Today there will be no more Constantinoples, nor Covadongas, nor Poitiers nor Lepantos. Because there are no more strong peoples, nor great men, nor anything worthy to defend.
Jesús Laínz is a jurist by training and writer by vocation, in Spain. This article appears through the kind courtesy of El Manifiesto.
Featured: Siege and Fall of Constantinople, by Panagiotis Zografos, under the guidance of Makriyannis; painted ca. 1836-1839.