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Can Franco be described as a truly fascist dictator?

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Introduction

Can Franco be described as a truly fascist dictator? General Francisco Franco served as head of state of Spain from victory in the Spanish Civil in 1939 until his death in 1975. Since Franco's death there has been much debate as to whether the Generalissimo?s dictatorship can be described as a truly fascist regime. The crux of this debate hinges on each individual historian's definition of a fascist dictator. Therefore first of all it is important to define what makes a truly fascist dictator. To do this it is essential to bear in mind the definitions of other historians. Firstly as Payne states a fascist dictator must adhere to the concept of 'anti isms', this means a fascist's inherent ideology is antiliberalism, anticommunism and antidemocratic.[1] Secondly Paxton says a fascist dictator 'pursues with redemptive violence and without ethical or legal restraint goals of internal cleansing and external expansion' which means a fascist dictator uses tactics of terror and violence and holds expansionist foreign policy aims.[2] Thirdly as Passmore states all aspects of a fascist dictator's policies are suffused with ultranationalism.[3] Fourthly as Griffin states a fascist dictator must implement an authoritarian and totalitarian form of government.[4] These are the four key components of what makes a truly fascist dictator. It is clear that Franco shared some of these key components for instance Franco applied an authoritarian style of rule. ...read more.

Middle

Mimicry is one of Paxton's difficulties in defining a fascist.[14] This is because various other people and organisations have also mimicked Mussolini which were not functionally fascist, an example of this is Oswald Mosley and the BUF in Britain. Overall it is clear to see that Franco implemented an authoritarian form of government and adhered to the concept of 'anti isms' which are both key components of a fascist dictator as stated in the introduction. Franco also clearly mimicked elements of Mussolini's style of rule. Although this is still not enough to describe Franco as a truly fascist dictator. It is essential to assess Franco's domestic and social policies. Historian De Meneses argues that Franco cannot be a fascist as 'There is an element of revolutionary politics in fascism, of wanting to provoke a dramatic change in society. That was not Franco?s intention: on the contrary he wanted to preserve Spain from change'.[15] This is largely true. As Franco's social and domestic policies were conservative rather than revolutionary. Franco was highly motivated by religion and portrayed himself as a defender of the Catholic faith. Thus the Catholic Church heavily influenced the character of Franco?s laws. This can be seen in the Principles of the Spanish National Movement according to the Act of 1938, which states 'The Spanish nation regards it as a mark of honour to obey the law of ...read more.

Conclusion

For instance Franco implemented an authoritarian form of government and Francoist ideology fitted Payne's 'anti isms' concept of anti-communism, anti-democracy and anti-liberalism. However Francoism lacked too many of the other key fascist components to be considered truly fascist. Franco did not hold expansionist foreign policy aims and Spain was never on an inevitable path to war like other fascist states such as Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy. It is clear that expanionism and militarism were at the heart of both Nazism and fascism, however expanionism and militarism are barely prevalent themes in Francoism. Franco also lacked ultranationalist policies. Instead it is fair to say that Franco was more motivated by religion and Catholicism influenced much of Franco's laws and policy rather than ultranationalism, which is not the characteristic of a fascist. A true fascist dictator puts ultranationalism and serving the state above anything else. In addition Francoist Spain also lacked the more extreme fascist social policies such as racist and discriminatory laws. Franco also did not seek to revolutionary change Spanish society or to create a 'new man', instead Francoism was conservative and seeked to preserve Spanish traditions. Furthermore Francoist economics actually liberalised to an extent, over the course of Franco's reign Spain moved away from the more semi fascist extremes such as autarky and embraced more liberal economics such as a free market economy. Overall it is much more accurate to describe Francoist Spain as an authoritarian, Catholic, conservative regime rather than a truly fascist dictatorship. ...read more.

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