The media and networks in Spain are hyperventilating because Pablo Casado, president of the Spanish Popular Party, has attended a mass with his family in Granada, held in memory of Francisco Franco, the dictator.
To objectify it visually, which helps to understand the situation, let’s imagine an axis where at one end it would be that it was “chance-chance” and at the other, that Casado went to that mass with full intentionality and choice.
Honestly, it seems that the truth is closer to the latter. It is hard to believe that he was not aware that that day was 20N. The day that some “nostalgics” commemorate every year the anniversary of the deaths of José Antonio Primo de Rivera and Francisco Franco (in 1936 and 1975 respectively). It is hard to believe that I did not see, at the foot of the altar, the large wreath sent by the Francisco Franco National Foundation with a large Spanish flag. And then, in the first row of pews, there was another enormous Francoist Spanish flag – the one with the eagle, the yoke and the arrows.
Coincidence or not, knowing the character, it is not very strange. But supposing it was a coincidence, it is a fact that he didn’t get out of there.
But what difference does it make. You don’t need to be Hercule Poirot or Sherlock Holmes to unravel the mystery. The PP and its leaders have already shown where they stand on Franco and Francoism. What matters more is what they do and have done, day after day, as a political party that has governed and been in opposition. Moreover, with the responsibility of representing between a quarter and half of the votes of the Spanish people. They are more than portrayed.
In this regard, Julián Casanova ─Infolibre.es─ recently gave a good account of who Franco was, what the coup of ’36 was, the Civil War and the regime of terror that followed. In a few lines, he narrates how Spain went to war because of Cainite betrayals and entrenched hatreds, after centuries of resistance to social progress. It also tells where the PP stands with respect to Franco and the dictatorship.
The article was not accidental. It was published on 20N and it was opportune to narrate what happened then with forensic precision and the strength of those who seek the truth or seek to be truthful. It tells how Franco became a representation of God on Earth. How he became the materialisation of civil and military power to re-establish the order lost by the Republic.
A good journalistic chronicle that helps to remember where Alianza Popular and later the PP, the Spanish right-wing, came from. Because eighty-five years later, that part of the political spectrum also believes, like Franco and his followers, that they are “better”. Like him, they believe they are special and born to decide over others. They believe they are appointed to tell us what is legitimate and what is not. They feel they have the obligation to say which law is illegitimate and must be disobeyed, which party is illegitimate, or who are “the axis of evil”. The least important thing, therefore, is the 20N mass, Casado and his family.
Our divine right is still emboldened in the crusade that Franco started “against evil and the enemies of Spain”. It is hard to believe outside our borders, but the Spanish right wing of the PP has not fully condemned the dictatorship. Moreover, they think they are authorised to tell us when an electoral coalition, or coalition government, should be reviled and rejected. They move as if PSOE and Unidas Podemos -in the government- had carried out a coup d’état, or cooked up a “pucherazo” at the ballot box. For them, everything to their left, including the PSOE, is Bolivarian and social-communist. For them, nationalist or pro-independence parties are illegitimate, even though they enjoy the blessing of all the legality of our laws and customs in this respect.
Outside Spain, we have here a right wing on a par with that of the South American continent. In Spain, as in Brazil, Chile, Colombia and Costa Rica, the classic right-wing has been leaning towards ultra-conservative values and tactics since the 1990s. VOX or neo-ultra-conservatism is a global phenomenon. The Spanish right no longer believes in a political programme or ideology. It has opted for a non-partisan electoral strategy. It has opted to create leaderships that compete in elections but shun the classic programmatic confrontation between political parties. Does anyone know the programme or the proposals of the PP and VOX? Does anyone know what they propose beyond a few short ideologies that they repeat tiredly? We only know the arguments, which they hand out among their leaders, so that they all answer the same thing even when asked about anything else.
In this context, what difference does it make whether or not they knowingly attend a mass for Franco or not? Let’s not forget that they keep reminding us that the current government is illegitimate even before the elections from which it emerged. They mark when it is time to persecute progressives and communists, either in the media or with false dossiers cooked up close to power (Mariano Rajoy’s PP was in power at the time). Anything goes to keep their privileges as they are for ever and ever amen. It is the same noise that the right wing made in 1936. The similarities exist, there is continuity in the discourse. It is true that today it is only oratory. Everything is different and better than in 1936. But two years after the current coalition government was formed, the right continues to proclaim the supposed illegitimacy of a legitimate government.
Knowing this, it is understandable that they do not abjure Franco and his regime. They are not even capable of doing so when it would be convenient for them, so that their trickery does not show. That is why they disobey the Law of Historical Memory. That is why Casado often says he will repeal it as soon as he comes to power. That is why it is so hard for them to lose political or representative power in elections, or to lose it through motions of censure.
For democrats, it is not unusual that the one who gets the most votes in a general election does not necessarily govern because alliances or co-governments are formed. We live in a representative democracy where this is possible, legal and legitimate. For the Spanish right wing, it is not: making agreements and compromises between different parties on a programme to govern is unnatural. The PP goes around the world proclaiming the alleged illegitimacy of the government. Even in the European institutions they are criticising a legitimate and fairly focused government. They go “over there” talking against their own country, announcing that European funds for reconstruction are going to be squandered by the communists.
So inconceivable is it for our right wing that there is a coalition government, that Casado went so far as to summon some twenty-odd European ambassadors to explain to them how bad the Spanish government is, to explain to them how unreliable this country is. What nonsense! How much they must laugh at Pablo Casado and company in Europe or the EU!
From this political, media and economic-financial right wing, they feel so born and educated to rule that, when the tables turn and they lose, the PP and its circles get so angry that they lose their way. They act as a real anti-system factor if the political game takes power away from them, in the healthy parliamentary game of pacts and co-governance. If they lose, they go to the knife against everyone and everything. Then they clog up the General Council of the Judiciary, the Constitutional Court and anything else that comes their way. By the way, the TC has just told the PP and VOX that opposition is exercised in Parliament, not by making a general case against the Government and denouncing before the courts or the TC all the laws that are passed in Parliament. Not even with that do they learn.
Having said all this, it is understandable why they do not engage in dialogue with anyone other than themselves, or how they (like dictators or madmen), when they govern, whether in a majority or minority, do not engage in dialogue or reach consensus on anything either.
The people of the PP, be it their party nomenclature or the hustlers that surround them, are the political backbone of the civil, ecclesiastical, media, business and financial spheres that make up the right wing. All together they are the conservation lobby, the machine for preserving their privileges.
The PP is just a representative artefact of these “good people”. So good that they do not bat an eyelid in saying no to everything, in refusing any reasonable improvement for the vast majority of Spaniards. When they are in the Opposition, our right wing goes into Terminator mode: “if it’s not for me, I’ll kick it and destroy everything and then it won’t be for anyone”.
That is why, when they are not in charge in politics, nothing comes out of their mouths but bile, populist noise and lies.
In the last 200 years of Spanish history, those in power have sometimes lost political power. But the real power never got out of the hands of those in power. That is why, for example, we have the lowest minimum wage of any country of our size in Europe. That is why we are late to so many things in history, because of its remora. I don’t know if it’s bloodshed, but for our right wing, the poor should not even wear shoes, but espadrilles like in ’36.
It is sad to confirm all this, reading journalists like Julián Casanova. One sees that, understanding history, the PP and its circles are the same ones who sank the country in 1936, or during the Civil War, and are destabilising it now. As they believe they are God’s chosen ones to rule the only possible Spain, the rest of us are just the stage, the target of their populist and lying messages. We are employees or consumers. We are useful if you vote for them every four years.
Seeing this, what can we, the citizens of Spain or the whole world, do? Well, build our reality within this one. To look inside oneself for the answers. To wake up from the deception without being disappointed and believing that everything is wrong or false. In the hundreds of thousands of years that we have as a species, many good things have accumulated.
To wake up it helps to read and contrast the press, it helps to talk to others, to travel with open eyes.
In the matter we are dealing with today, this vigilant attitude helps to see or confirm what the PP is today and who its leaders are, such as Pablo Casado, García Egea, and Santa María de Ayuso. All together in the headquarters of Génova street, they form the pitiful court of “the wonders”… There are the worthy heirs of Franco’s regime. A sensible reaction is not to vote for them any more. Look for any other option.
Returning to the article by the journalist quoted above, it begins: “In July 1936 General Francisco Franco began his assault on power with a military uprising and consolidated it after victory in a civil war. Franco and his comrades-in-arms had come to the rescue of the fatherland, which legitimised the coup d’état and the policies of extermination. It was about the total regeneration of a new nation forged in the struggle against evil, the parliamentary system, the secular Republic and revolutionary atheism”.
He goes on to say…: “Statues, busts, poems, prints, hagiographies appeared everywhere. The image of Franco as a military saviour and redeemer was carefully treated and idealised in the “Noticiario Español” (NO-DO). His portrait presided over the almost forty years of dictatorship in classrooms, offices, public establishments and was repeated on stamps, coins and banknotes. And since no legitimacy could be superior to that which came from divine power, Franco was “Caudillo de España por la gracia de Dios” (Leader of Spain by the grace of God).
That is exactly what the PP and its circles are. Let us not be fooled: concentric circles, circles of power. In the outermost orb are their voters. They only need them for the sake of representative democracy, because the real power they already have.
If you are a PP voter and do NOT have your hands in the economic ointment, or you are not part of the power and its machinery of conservation… If you do not live large… then, you don’t know anything! You’re deluded. You are a clean person who votes for the one who cleansed you and then will still make a mess of your backbone.
It is not disputed that there should be a “conservative and right-wing” political formation. But the PP is something else. They don’t make a country. They do not serve the general interest. They do not negotiate. They are a well-oiled political apparatus with extra money in the “B” box, to go to elections doped for years, according to the judges.
On the fringes of the political right, which represents those who do not want to change anything and preserve their privileges, there are the people who believe that no one and nothing should be above anyone else. There are democrats who are convinced that no one should decide for others. There are people who do not believe in lineages, but in a state that seeks to equalise people’s opportunities, compensating for social inequalities. There are those who believe that politicians should not lie or use lies, their own or others’, in order to prosper.
The aim here is not to see the right as enemies. It is a question of understanding whether their deeds, acts and omissions are contrary to progress and the common good. As political forces they are given to us, there is nothing to deny. They are there. We should not question their existence, but reach minimum agreements. Civilise them so that they do not end up spending, consuming and burning the entire planet, convincing everyone that this is the way forward. Look at the COP26 proposals in Glasgow. But everything you read here is pure opinion until everyone tries to verify it.
Seeing the Spanish right wing in these terms helps to wake up. It immunises you from their verbal violence. It helps to internalise the situation and see that the desirable game is a different one. It is not a game of enemies and violence for survival. The game is to open your eyes, to enlighten or enlighten yourself by reading or informing yourself. Reflecting and seeking to feel what one thinks and to attend to one’s own experience, as philosophers and essayists recommend. The way out is to seek your position in politics and not to consume those already fabricated to manipulate us en masse. You can act and influence the scene from there. If only by voting awake if you don’t want more involvement. Another good decision is not to join the game of memes, fakes and other rogue rumours.
The task that remains as a citizen, from that awakened vision, is to meditate on your vote. See who is who and what they represent or propose, and influence your environment. To vote informed and with your eyes open in sync with the times, to be in the century. Ideally, go one step further, and then follow up with those who get elected and audit whether they deliver what they promise.
The opposite of this lucid attitude is irresponsible and detracts from any functionality or legitimacy of the representative democracy we have today.