In the era of global threats, nations must join efforts to confront wars, climate change, and the CV-19 pandemic. Despite the evident necessity for international response to current threats, some countries take the opposite approach, a national one. Such an approach is fueled by nationalist forces in different countries, and it’s not just about proponents of American Trumpism. The voice of nationalist parties sounds louder even in member states of the European union, which had been created for supranational collegial decision-making. That’s actually the name of such a party in Spain “Voice” (“Vox” is Latin for voice).
Spanish nationalists have achieved a prominent role in political life by manipulating people’s feelings on social problems. Drawing the analogy of aforementioned Trumpism, Spanish nationalist formulate their principle as “Spain First”. Vox ideology and its program isn’t something new for Spanish political history. Political and social discourse of the modern party is full of Francoist ideas. Vox supporters are convinced that the Francoist administrative and economic model had been the pillar for progress for decades. They declare Franco’s methods to be the only solution to today’s Spanish economic and social problems. Year after year the number of advocates of the Francoist past is increasing, and many of them find in that past their future.
Nationalist rallies and marches with Franco’s portraits and fascist symbols have long become regular in Madrid. Nationalist youth groups perform the fascist salute and yell out anti-Semitic slogans. And all this is happening in the country where 114 thousand people were tortured and killed during the Franco regime, many dissenters disappeared. The Falange, which had defeated republican democracy, is now being whitewashed and even glorified. The burial site of Francisco Franco, who had ruled the country continuously from 1939 till 1975, is covered with fresh-cut flowers.
Far from all of those who bring the flowers know that Franco won the civil war due the military help of Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini. Today’s nationalists like to talk about the revival of Spanish culture and national identity under Franco’s rule. But almost none of the young neo-fascists are able to describe the subject of the painting Guernica of the distinguished Spanish artist Pablo Picasso. (By order of Hitler, the German Luftwaffe helping Franco’s troops totally destroyed the city of Guernica with its civilians. The survivors remembered the bombardment as a living hell.)
Of course, there are vital political forces seeking to confront the growing fascist threat. Besides, the threat is primarily taking a declarative form for now and does not go far beyond political discourse. Fortunately, the Spanish situation is not comparable to what is going on in Hungary, where European liberal values have been violated for a long time. In Spain, outbreaks of right-wing violence and antisemitism are not as numerous as in Ukraine. All is not lost for now. Spanish antifascists and their like-minds from other countries must not underestimate the threat from the right. They must stand together in order to defend ideals of social justice and democracy.
*Neil Karpenko, Ukraine history and politics researcher residing in Toronto, Canada. Contributing author to Haaretz, The Hill Times and Morning Star.