30 December 2018

Better Red than Roman

A look at the historiography of la Cruzada, the Spanish Civil War. Sr

From The ChesterBelloc Mandate

By Emanuel Valenza

"The history of all hitherto existing society," opine Marx and Engels in the most quoted line from The Communist Manifesto, "is the history of class struggles," In the past antagonism existed between "freeman and slave, patrician and plebeian, lord and serf, (and) guild-master and journeyman." Now the fundamental conflict is between the "bourgeoisie and proletariat." They conclude that "oppressor and oppressed (stand) in constant opposition to one another."1

Hostility between the bourgeoisie (capitalists who own the means of production) and the proletariat (laborers) is, according to Marx, inevitable because their goals are incompatible: owners seek profits and laborers desire higher wages. Because Marx believed that in any economic transaction there is a winner and loser—in other words, both parties cannot benefit from an exchange—profits are for the most part at the expense of wages, and vice versa. As Marx expresses it, "in proportion as capital accumulates, the lot of the laborer, be his payment high or low, must grow worse."2

The "class struggle" therefore is intrinsic to capitalism. Revolution is unavoidable as the proletariat eventually unites to overthrow their exploiters, the capitalists. Capitalism, the ineluctable successor to Feudalism, gives way, through revolutionary or dialectical change, to Socialism, which in turn inexorably leads to Communism. Lenin writes in State and Revolution: "Only the proletariat—by virtue of the economic role it plays in large-scale production—is capable of being the leader of all the laboring and exploited masses, whom the bourgeoisie exploits ... (and) who are incapable of waging an independent struggle for their emanicipation."3

He adds: "The transition from capitalism to communism certainly cannot but yield a tremendous abundance and variety of political forms, but the essence will inevitably be the same: the dictatorship of the proletariat."4

In theory, therefore, wherever Communists come to power rule is exercised by the dictatorship of the proletariat. But we know from experience the Communist Party governs. Stalin explains in The Foundations of Leninism "No army at war can dispense with an experienced General Staff if it does not want to be doomed to defeat. Is it not clear the proletariat can still less dispense with such a General Staff if it does not want to allow itself to be devoured by its mortal enemies? But where is this General Staff? Only the revolutionary party of the proletariat can serve as this General Staff. The working class without a revolutionary party is an army without a General Staff.

The Party is the General Staff of the proletariat."5

The dictatorship of the proletariat, with the Communist Party at the helm, will transform the world into Utopia. Lin Shoo-Chi in his book, "How to be a Good Communist," describes this earthly paradise:

"In such a world there will be no exploiters, oppressors ... darkness, ignorance, backwardness, etc. (A)All human beings will become unselfish and intelligent Communists with a high level of culture and technique. The spirit of mutual assistance and mutual love will prevail among mankind.... Such a society will, of course, be the best, the most beautiful and the most advanced society in the history of mankind."6

According to Marxist-Leninist doctrine, the end—World Communism—justifies the means. A statement is true and an act is good if they promote the proletarian revolution. Conversely, a statement is false and an act is evil if the revolution is not benefited. Lenin writes:

"In what sense do we repudiate ethics and morality? In the sense that they were preached by the bourgeoisie, who declared that ethics were God's commandments. We, of course, say that we do not believe in God....We repudiate all morality that is taken outside of human, class concepts.... We say that our morality is entirely subordinated to the interests of the class struggle of the proletariat."7

As the General Staff of the proletariat, the Party determines what is true and good, or what is good for the revolution. This entails nothing less than interpreting each and every event in conformity with Marxist-Leninist categories. History is used, in the words of Herbert Schlossberg, as a "polemical devise."8 Or, as Frank S. Meyer puts it, the Communist intellect "is totally at the service of a single and compelling idea, made incarnate in the Communist Party: the concept of History as an inexorable god whose ways are revealed 'scientifically' through the doctrine and method of Marxism-Leninism. "9

History as a Polemical Device: The Spanish Civil War

Even though any number of examples could be cited to prove that history is used as a polemical device by Communists, the Spanish Civil War is especially worthy of study for several reasons: 1) The propaganda campaign of Communists has been so successful that scholars continue to write books and articles whitewashing the Socialist-Communist tyranny while comparing Franco to Hitler. "No episode of the '30's," writes Paul Johnson, "has been more lied about than this one."10 2) A strong anti-Catholic bias is one reason why Franco has been lambasted by historians. His crime? He was a Catholic who defended Catholic Spain from, in his words, "Socialism, Communism and other formulae which attack civilization to replace it with barbarism."11 3) The Spanish Civil War is representative of how Communists view the Church, namely as their "chief object of hatred."12

Typical of the books on the War is Paul Preston's "The Spanish Civil War" (N.Y. Grove Press, Inc., 1986). It is pure Communist propaganda. The Loyalists (the Socialists, Communists, and Anarchists) are portrayed as the embodiment of everything that is true and good.

On the other hand, Franco and his supporters, the Nationalists—so-called because "they stressed national values, and ... the cry 'Viva Espana!' was used among them"13—are considered the most vile of people.

In the Introduction Preston writes that his book is "interpretative rather than descriptive."14 He is correct: description is shunned because it precludes a favorable Communist interpretation. Some examples:

"It is a central theme of this book," writes Preston, "that the Civil War was the culmination of uneven struggles between the forces of reform and reaction...."15 of course, the "reformers" are the Communist and pro-Communist forces who "represent" the Spanish workers ("the oppressed"). The "reactionaries" are the "reactionary landholders, industrialists, and bankers"16 who used the Army "above all to defend their social and economic interests."17 They are "the oppressors."

The Real Cause: Leftist Despotism

Agitprop aside, the War was the culmination of a Catholic country's outrage against Leftist-Socialist policies and actions; and a split within the Socialist Party itself.


After King Alfonso XIII was forced to leave Spain in 1931, an election held in June was won by the Left. The so-called "Second Republic" proceeded to disestablish Catholicism as the official religion of Spain. Moreover: 1) No State payments to the clergy and religious orders were permitted; 2) religious orders requiring a vow of obedience to an authority other than the State were evaporated; 3) Church property and education were nationalized; and 4) members of religious orders could not hold jobs in industry, commerce, and education.18

In addition, the pernicious Law for the Defense of the Republic was used by the Socialists the same way the Soviets employ the label "Anti-Soviet activity". Constitutional guarantees are on paper only.19

Legislative Tyranny translated into anarchy. "The birth of the Republic," observes Erik von Kuehnett-Leddihn, "was marred by endless acts of mob violence, by the burning of churches and monasteries, by endless strikes, by outbreaks of brigandage and a rapid decline of general security."20

Spain decided it is better to be dead than Red. The Spanish Civil War—"The Crusade"—began July 18, 1936.

Manuel Azana, Republican Minister of War and author of the Law for the Defense of the Republic, enjoyed all this violence. He declared, "all the convents in Madrid are not worth the life of one Republican."21

When the "Popular Front" won a narrow electoral victory in 1936, Azana was again the leader of the Socialist Party. Because the Party couldn't (wouldn't ?) control barbarous acts of the militant Left-republicans, socialists, anarchists, and Communists—the story was much the same as in 1931. During the first four months of Popular Front rule, the following atrocities occurred: 160 churches burned (arsonists attempted to burn another 284 buildings, 251 of them churches); 269 (mainly) political murders; 1,287 instances of assault; 113 "general strikes"; 228 partial strikes; and 10 newspaper offices plundered.22

With the Socialist Party leaning closer and closer to Communism, and anarchy in the streets, Catholic Spain decided it is better to be dead than Red. The Spanish Civil War—"The Crusade"—began July 18, 1936.

"Mistakes Were Made"

None of the Socialist-Communist savagery, whether done before or during the War, is mentioned by Preston. The Nationalists, in his eyes, had a monopoly on tragedy. Consider: a caption on the top of page 3 reads: "Death and destruction were the inevitable companions of (Franco's) military conquest." "Guernica," (a town in Northern Spain destroyed by the Luftwaffe fighting for Franco), "was the first total destruction of an undefended target by aerial bombardment."23 And we read much about the "Falangist terror squads."

What about Leftist barbarism? Preston's "harshest" statement is, " While mistakes were made, the Spanish Republic was an attempt to provide a better way of life for the humble members of a repressive society."24 Mistakes? Why is it that anti-Communist forces are called "terror squads", but the most vile of acts, if done in the name of a "better society," are "mistakes"? Ponder some of the "errors" Republicans were guilty of during the War:

20% of the bishops were murdered (11 out of 55) 12% of the monks were slaughtered (2,400 out of 20,000) 13% of the priests slain (4,550 out of 35,000). 

Some 283 nuns murdered.25 The defilement of cemeteries," writes Erik von Kuehnett-Leddihn, "was practiced as an exquisite act."26

"(A) favorite sport in Barcelona during the Civil War," observes Frederick Wilhelmsen, "consisted in mounting machine-guns in the portals of churches and spraying the Tabernacle of the Altar. Disinterring dead nuns and violating them publicly ran a close second." 27

Erik von Kuehnett-Leddihn quotes Salvador de Madareaga: "(T)he mere fact of being a priest was tantamount to a capital sentence, and the fact that no Catholic worship was allowed at all till the end of the War or very nearly, and that churches and cathedrals were used as markets and thoroughfares for animal-driven vehicles cannot be disputed."28 

In short, the Socialist-Communist faction "persecuted the Church with far greater savagery than even the Russian Communists (of 1917) did," to quote Erik von Kuehnett-Leddihn.29 As long as Communism exists, it will persecute the Church. "There can be nothing more abominable," wrote Lenin, "than religion." 30

Means To An End

Preston not only fails to mention these tragic states of affairs, he contends that they existed only in the minds of right-wing reporters. Catholics and members of the middle class supported Franco, he writes, because they "were appalled by the view of Republican disorder and anti-clericalism generated by the rightest press."31 (My emphasis).

But even if he were to acknowledge these atrocities, Preston would no doubt affirm they are necessary in order to build a Communist Utopia. He quotes with approval Buenaventura Durniti, the anarchist leader of the Republicans: "We are not afraid of ruins, we are going to inherit the earth. The bourgeoisie may blast and ruin their world before they leave the stage of history. But we carry a new world in our hearts."32 Preston himself writes, "During the Spanish Civil War...the struggle...was still seen as merely the first step to building a new egalitarian world out of the depression."33

Franco: Another Hitler!

Franco is hated because he spoiled the party. Preston goes as far as to compare him to Hitler: "(Republican) Spain was the last bulwark against the horrors of Hitlerism."34 (Preston does not give the "horrors of Stalinism" a second thought). Because Hitler supported Franco, Preston apparently thinks it is a case of "birds of a feather flock together". How absurd. Franco was a God-fearing man, not a son of Satan, as the following indicates: Nationalist troops dipped regimental banners into the sea, then had them blessed by a priest.35

At St. Barbara's Church, on Palm Sunday, the day after the Madrid Victory Parade, Franco and his family assisted at a Mass in which he dedicated the Nationalist Victory to God. The celebrant was Cardinal Goma, Primate of Spain.36

Franco reestablished the Church and returned property to the religious orders. Religious education was reintroduced, and the cemeteries were returned to ecclesiastical jurisdiction.37

Franco was buried behind the main altar of the basilica of the Valley of the Fallen, under a huge cross which is three times the size of the Statue of Liberty.38

Preston's Goal: Objectivity

Because he follows the Party line, and the Party line is the truth, Preston insists that The Spanish Civil War is a model of sound scholarship. His purpose was to "find a perfect balance between both sides."39 Topping his book off with a dedication to the International Brigades (Communist armies which infiltrated Spain to fight for the Loyalists), Preston is quite pleased with the result: "With such a team of friends to help, it seems astonishing that any book could still have shortcomings."40


Preston avers that the Republicans were "trying to drag Spain into the 20th century."41 This is another way of saying the Republicans wanted a Communisit Spain. For the 20th century is the century of Communism: half the globe is enslaved by it. In a war which lasted nearly three years, and cost one million lives, Catholic Spain said, "We rather be Roman than Red." She was practically alone in this assertion. As Frederick Wilhelmsen has written, "Franco won and then he held the line against the whole world."42



1. Essential Works of Marxism, ed. Arthur P. Mendel (New York: Bantam Books, Inc., 1961(1963), pp.13-14.

2. Karl Marx, Capital, Vol. I (Chicago: Charles H. Kerr & Co., 1919), pp.708-709. Cited in Thomas Sowell, Marxism: Philosophy and Economics (New York: William Morrow & Co., Inc., 1985), p.140.

3. Mendel, op.cit, p.119.

4. Ibid, p.127.

5. Ibid, pp.283-284.

6. Cited in Fred Schwarz, You Can Trust the Communists to be Communists (Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice-Hall, Inc., 1960), p.30.

7. Lenin, "The Tasks of the Youth League," (Speech delivered at the Third All-Russian Congress of the Russian Youth Communist League, Oct. 2, 1920), in Selected Works (New York: International Publishers), 1943), Vol.IX, pp.474, 475, 477. Cited in Vincent P. Miceli, S.J., The Gods of Atheism (New Rochelle, N.Y.: Arlington House, 1971(1975), p.109.

8. Herbert Schlossberg, Idols For Destruction (Nashville, Tenn.: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1983), pp.19-20.

9. Frank S. Meyer, The Moulding of Communists (New York: Harcourt, Brace & World, Inc., 1961) p.16.

10. Paul Johnson, Modern Times (N.Y.: Harper & Row, 1983), p.326.

11. Ibid, p.323.

12. Ibid, p.326.

13. Erik von Kuehnett-Leddihn, Leftism (N.Y.: Arlington House, 1974), p.265.

14. Preston, p.VII

15. Preston, p.9.

16. Preston, p.19.

17. Preston, p.24.

18. Article "Spain," Encyclopedia Brittannica, Inc., Vol.21, 1963, p.136.

19. Ibid, p.137.

20. Erik von Kuehnett-Leddihn, p.264.

21. Preston, p.23.

22. Paul Johnson, p.326. cf also Encyclopedia Brittannica, p.138.

23. Preston, p.4.

24. Ibid, p.VII.

25. Modern Times, p.327.

26. Leftism, p.260.

27. Frederick Wilhelmsen, "Adios: Francisco Franco", reprinted in his Citizen of Rome (La Salle, Ill.: Sherwood Sugden & Company, 1979) p.231.

28. Leftism, p.547 & 78.

29. Ibid, p.269.

30. Quoted in Modem Times, p.50.

31. Preston, p.2.

32. Ibid, p.4.

33. Ibid.

34. Ibid.

35. Preston, p.153.

36. Ibid, p.174.

37. Encyclopedia Brittannica, op.cit, p.140.

38. Wilhelmsen, op.cit., pp.222, 233.

39. Preston, p.VII

40. Ibid.

41. Preston, p.4.

42. Wilhelmsen, p.223.

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