Introduction:

“In order to implement all these things, there is to defeat, certainly, countless resistors. All selfishness will be opposed; but our motto has always been that: it is not about saving the material; property, such as we knew it until now, comes to its end: they are going to end it, for good or bad, masses that are in large part right and also have strength.”

—José Antonio Primo de Rivera, España y la Barbarie

The return to barbarism was a concept used by the Falange to describe the end of an era within a culture. It is a “return to barbarism” insomuch as Rome met its end at the hand of barbarian incursions during an era of profound societal decadence and political corruption. 

These factors are characteristic of the current political regime under which we live today, which causes a need for the study of modern Spanish history, a topic which is so often overshadowed by the grand political and historical achievements of other races and epochs. Since the ignoble end of her Siglo de Oro, Spain, has been characterised by a centuries long political corruption and misgovernance that has hindered Spanish society from prospering.

This period of Spanish history, in addition to Falangist historiography, are important for contemporary European Nationalists to understand, as through it we may come to a greater understanding of the time period in which we currently live—which appears to closely resemble the corrupt political structure and societal issues of Modern Spain.

The Birth of Liberal Spain

The deep-seated depravity that drove Spanish politics between the 18th and 20th centuries was a result of several factors, the first of which being the economic degradation of Spain throughout the Siglo de Oro, as she became too reliant on the luxurious resources of her overseas empire, the emergence of native Spanish industry was stifled.

“The discovery of America and of the route round the Cape only increased the wealth of both kingdoms after a specious and ephemeral fashion—indeed, by these events a death-blow was first given to their national industry and to their power. For then, instead of exchanging the produce of the East and West Indies against home manufactures, as the Dutch and the English subsequently did, the Spaniards and Portuguese purchased manufactured goods from foreign nations with the gold and silver which they had wrung from their colonies. They transformed their useful and industrious citizens into slave-dealers and colonial tyrants: thus they promoted the industry, the trade, and the maritime power of the Dutch and English, in whom they raised up rivals who soon grew strong enough to destroy their fleets and rob them of the sources of their wealth.”—Friedrich List, The National System of Political Economy

The second factor behind the emergence of indolent corruption in Spain was a consequence of the decline of the Spanish monarchy, which following the Spanish War of Succession had been reduced to a third-rate actor in the 18th century European political theatre. Coinciding with the fall of the Spanish Empire, the independence of Latin America and the Napoleonic Era, Spain was haemorrhaging international prestige, and consequently failed to recognise the failures of her domestic policies, as many states throughout history took issue with her style of government rather than her policies.

Thus the First Spanish Republic was born, a state in which the political system was simultaneously so corrupt and lazy that Spanish constituencies came to be ruled by “caciques”, who were responsible for exerting political pressure on locals through tax collection, fines, legal action and prosecution for the purpose of manipulating electoral results.

The bizarre nature of Spanish politics in this time period saw both Conservative and Liberal political parties regularly concede elections and engineer results to ensure “healthy parliamentary debate”; electoral politics was treated as if it were a game, in which all major political figures were ensured a seat in the Cortes.

“For the Spanish parliamentary system was simply one more proof of how little the ideas of the governing classes had altered since the seventeenth century. Under new names, the method was the same. The machine that had supported great ministers like Lerma and Uceda was little different from that which now supported Dato and Romanones. The object in both cases was the private enrichment and support of factions, which did not consist merely of a few highly placed individuals but penetrated down through modest clerks and functionaries to the poorest layers of the people. Spain after all is the country where history (and how monotonously!) repeats itself. The parasitical condition of Spanish economy since 1580, when Spaniards ceased to live by their own enterprise and industry and crowded into the offices of the State, has stamped an indelible character on the upper and middle classes”

—Gerald Brenan, The Spanish Labyrinth

It is this corrupt political system which the Falange Española sought to abolish; a system which ensured the degradation of Spanish society and engendered local seperatist movements in Catalonia and the Basque Country.  As an ideology specific to the national circumstances of Spain, the Falange preached a doctrine of national unity and opposed regional separatism—making an appeal to the historical unity of the constituent regions of Spain and the hope for a construction of a new path for Spain. When the Falangists warned of Spain’s return to barbarism, they feared the success of separatist movements in threatening what they believed to be the universal destiny of the Spanish race.

The Spanish Civil War was a product of centuries of political divide as the gulf between different aspects of Spanish society widened, with the polarisation of politics and regional identities creating a sense of hostility between Spaniards of different provinces to the point that violence and civil war was not only inevitable, but necessary for the renewal of Spanish society and the restoration of order and purpose to Spain by the Nationalists.

Like all other Spanish political movements, the Falange yearned for a return to the Siglo de Oro—albeit in a manner different to that dreamt of by other political movements. The Carlists had adamantly fought to restore their King to the Spanish throne—whom they believed could stave off the ills of the modern world in favour of a traditionalist revival and a return to the Siglo de Oro, in a far more literal sense than the Falangists had envisioned. Carlism—as a reactionary force—desired to maintain the anarchic system of rural Spanish life; the Falange, as a revolutionary movement, sought to establish a centralised government designed to preserve the national unity of Spain and restore order to a society long devoid of it.

“The leading principles of the regime would be absolute submission to the Pope and absolute devotion to the King. That is the creed for which the requetés fought so heroically in the Civil War. Its resemblance to Mussolini’s Corporative State will be noted. As Unamuno said, the Carlists both in their general ideas and their methods of violence and intolerance anticipated fascism. But there is also a profound difference. Carlism looks solely to the past: all the industrial and intellectual developments of the last century are antipathetic to it. To its adherents it promises neither glory nor prosperity, but ‘order’ and ‘respect for hierarchies’. Spanish fascism, on the other hand, is an exuberant creed drunk on fantastic dreams of empire and glory in the future. That they can be reconciled for long is not probable.”

—Gerald Brenan, The Spanish Labyrinth

The distinction between the Falange’s solution to modern Spain and the Carlists was the result of its modernist sympathies. Whereas the Carlists wholly rejected the modern European political structure in favour of a blind return to the former glory of Spain; the Falange sought to synthesise modernism with the primordial values that made Spaniards a fair and noble race, in hopes of restoring to Spaniards, the aspects of Spanish character neglected by a decrepit and masonic political class.

The Return of Barbarism:

“There is no one to save the material; the important thing is that the catastrophe of the material does not also ruin the essential values of the spirit. And this is the thing that we want to save. Whatever the cost, even at the sacrificial exchange of all economic advantage.”

—José Antonio Primo de Rivera, España y la Barbarie.

The aforementioned symptoms and consequences of the return to barbarism branch from a single root stage in the life-cycle of civilisations as they begin to—with the realisation of certain ideals and destinies come to lose their purpose—a fate which is the chief factor in the development of corrupt political systems and the decline of civilisations. This trend can be seen not only in Ancient Rome, after it had conquered the furthest reaches of the known earth, but Spain after its great colonising mission to Latin America. The same can be likened to the British and French Empires, which by the mid-20th century served no purpose other than maintaining a shallow sense of imperial pride.

 “There was no spirit of revanchisme or of irredentism, for Spain had been too deeply sunk in economic sloth and governmental incompetence to noursih positive ambitions”

—Stanley G. Payne, Falange: A History of Spanish Fascism

This is the environment from which European Fascisms were born, specific to each nation and to their peculiarities. Hence we may see the current developments of our own time and their equivalents in Spanish history as cautionary tales, from which we may learn to halt and evade the return of barbarism which marks the end of nations, peoples and epochs. The Falange, however, were capable of re-animating Spain, and laying the intellectual foundations of an ideology which had the capabilities to re-invigorate Spaniards and their national pride.

“The Siglo de Oro – the age of glory for the educated classes, the age of liberty and leisure for all – is the Golden Age to which most Spaniards would willingly return and, without plunging too far into the unconscious, one may suspect that behind it stands the Pastoral Age, when men stood and watched their flocks day by day and meditated like Hebrew prophets upon Vice and Virtue, upon Fate and God, whilst the toil and degradation of the agricultural life was left to others.”

—Gerald Brenan, The Spanish Labyrinth

All Spaniards recognised the issues inherent within Spanish society at that time—yet many were disillusioned by the concepts of left-wing socialists and anarchism. It is interesting that the aims of each political faction of the Civil War all shared a common thread—a romanticised perception of Spanish history and an aversion to the ills which plagued Spain throughout its stagnant epoch.

The advent of barbarism in a civilisation manifests itself after periods in which that civilisation has fulfilled some great mission and consequently has lost its purpose by fulfilling its destiny. Imperial Spain and the outwards realisation of Hispanic identity in Latin America ended in such a manner as Spain, with her mission complete, was preyed upon by selfishness, corruption and despondence. The fate of nations and empires alike follows a similar trend—as empires are but the outward extension of a core civilisation, such as the branching of Western Christendom and Eastern Orthodoxy from Greco-Roman culture.

Modern Europe:

“The product of the European War is the creation of legions of men without work; after that catastrophe demobilised the factories and converted large masses into unemployed men; industry is found off its hinges, it appears the competition of factories has lifted customs barriers. In this situation, lost, also, is all faith in eternal principles, what comes for Europe? Without question, comes a new barbarian invasion.”

—José Antonio Primo de Rivera, España y la Barbarie

It would be remiss not to note that the return of barbarism not only applies to Spain between the 18th and 20th centuries—but to Western Civilisation as a whole. With the currently unfolding economic fallout of European sanctions on Russia and the political ramifications of the war in Ukraine, many European nations will soon face hard times, which very well may take decades to recover from. Never in history have so many nations eagerly pursued policies in direct contrast to their own national interests, while allowing a malicious class of bankers, politicians, journalists and NGOs usurp their national wealth and sovereignty; it is these groups which function as a modern manifestation of the barbarism that signalled the end of Rome.

The return to barbarism is a symptom of a much larger problem. Societies live and die, just as Ancient Rome succumbed to the barbarians, so too have European states such as the Spanish Empire, the economic and political strength of which decayed with its commercial dependence on luxurious goods from the New World, thus neutering the Spanish economy for centuries and bringing an abrupt end to Spain’s “Siglo de Oro”.

With the external projection of Spanish culture onto Latin America and the subsequent loss of Spanish influence in Europe, Spain had fulfilled her destiny and, without a purpose to rally the nation, became the sick man of Europe.

A loss of purpose has engulfed Europe for decades following the end of the Cold War and the illusory “end of history”. Consequently, liberal politicians turned to the importation of unprecedented numbers of foreigners into Europe and moral grandstanding under the guise of “humanitarian efforts” to satiate their lust for social approval. 

The Falange saw the social decay of modern Spain and recognised the necessity of national revival, an identification that is reiterated by nationalists in the 21st century. The rise of separatism and centuries of dysfunctional Spanish government contributed greatly to Falangist political doctrine which they proclaimed to be contrary to the nature of the Spanish state, which itself was comprised of an aggregate of Iberian sub-cultures united under one national destiny, that: “Man must be free, but freedom does not exist except within an order.”

However, the Falange did not believe that the consequences of this barbarian incursion were unavoidable, but that it was a dichotomy between the catastrophic destruction of culture and a bridging from one era to the next pursued so as to ensure a social and political continuity between the past and future of the Spanish race. Given the similarities between Europe in the 21st century and the history of modern Spain, the following question is raised: is the bridging policy of the Falange applicable to modern European states?

The Falangist Remedy:

What remains to be seen is how this issue will be dealt with by contemporary nationalists. Through learning of the Spanish example we may foresee an inkling of our own future should we fail to understand the history of similar movements and circumstances.

The history of modern Spain is often overlooked, with the Spanish Civil War, among other events lying in the shadow of the Second World War, however, through the analysis of different aspect of Falangist political philosophy, it can be seen that Spanish history holds more significance now than ever, as the very existence of European peoples is threatened, much of the political theatre of which we experience today is reminiscent of or verbatim re-enactments from modern Spanish history.

The return to barbarism spoken of by the Falange is defined by a disjointed and anarchic state, in which a degenerate political class retains influence over the political system, thus manipulating the people and encouraging acts of violent dissent. A brief study of history will affirm that such a disordered society inevitably meets its end at the hand of opportunistic foreign invaders, who pillage the nation for all its worth. 

The return to barbarism throughout Europe seems inevitable, but as the Falange once tried to prevent the destruction of their society, modern Europe faces an even greater challenge given the current concerns of demographic replacement and an increasing frequency of globalist encroachment upon sovereign nations.

We have lived through the beginning of an age of barbarism, but as decades pass, the possibilities for a nationalist resurgence diminish exponentially. Today, the Irish public seems deaf to the words of our ancestors and blind to the spirits of our national heroes, but even this is the product of a consumerist sensory deprivation that superfluously satisfies their material needs, whilst neglecting entirely the spiritual.

“But there are two theses: the catastrophic, that sees the invasion as inevitable and gives up for lost and the good is expired, which only trusts that after the catastrophe begins to germinate a new Middle Ages, and our thesis, that aspires to build a bridge across the barbarian invasion: To sink without intermediate catastrophe, how fruitful the new age would have to be to save all the spiritual values of civilisation from the age in which we live.”

—José Antonio Primo de Rivera, España y la Barbarie

As we reach a similar junction in our own time, it is imperative that a similar mentality is adopted; we must ensure that the temporary material needs of our societies do not overshadow the permanent spiritual and cultural identities with which we are unified. The emergence of this concept in Falangist rhetoric is a result of a centuries long political decadence — which they believed to be the product of the end of an era. The return of barbarism is a concept reminiscent of historians such as Spengler and Toynbee who analysed the life-cycles of civilisations. Just as other Fascist movements did, the Falange sought to guide the transition from one era to another, ensuring a sense of continuity between the past and future by synthesising old ideas and traditions with a modern political structure.

In order for societies such as Ireland or Spain to construct a bridge above the barbarians and across history, a comprehensive understanding of our national identities and history is a necessary step; by synthesising the administrative capabilities of a modern political system with historical ideas long detached from ourselves in the modern era, we may recreate an old society in a new form. For Irish nationalists this idea may be pursued through Gaelicism, for Spaniards through the creation of a new Siglo de Oro, and the primacy of Falangist political philosophy.

Conclusion:

Thus a rediscovery of European history and reintegration of lost components of culture is necessary for the synthesis of a new Europe. Not the creation of new cultures — but a transformation of the decadent societies in which we live to more closely resemble the ideals and predispositions of our race — a return to natural order.

In order to cure the current maladies that plague our nations and overcome such despicable societal rot and cultural purposelessness, Europe must be reinvigorated. This is not a ‘return to nature’ in the exact sense, but rather a revolutionisation of modern society and an assimilation of old ideals to a new age. For Irish Nationalists this may be pursued through an emphasis on the popularisation and use of the Irish language, for Spaniards it may be through Falangist doctrine.

A continuous yearning for Spain’s “Siglo de Oro” characterised all radical political parties — anarchists and syndicalists alike ensured. This sense of yearning is what drove Nationalists throughout the world to assert their national interests and is precisely what must be rekindled in the public conscience. The consumerist mentality that has fooled generations of people into living unfulfilling lives must be dispelled; to do so, political masquerade of so-called liberal “elites” must be shattered should the public become cognisant of the decadence of the financial, political and social environments to which they are subject.

A serious reconsideration of the modern world is necessary for the average European — who may not recognise it, but — will never be able to fulfil their personal aspirations or support their families in a political system that operates in contradiction to their desires. As the Spaniards, Germans and Italians came to recognise the failures of the modern world — it can only be hoped that in the coming decades the success of nationalist movements throughout Europe may contribute to the reawakening of European racial consciousness.

“This will be the true return to nature, not in the sense of eclogues, that is of Rousseau, but in that of the georgics, that is the profound, severe and ritual way of understanding the Earth”

—José Antonio Primo de Rivera, España y la Barbarie.

Posted by Ryan Kiersey

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