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Andrés Cala reports on the rise of pro-Franco nostalgia in Spain, and ties it to a resurgence of fascism around Europe. These warning signs point us on our path toward national renewal, which is in the recognition and affirmation of human rights we do not yet recognize, including the Freedom from Fear enunciated by FDR.


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Andrés Cala, Consortium News:

   In Galicia, an area in Spain’s northwest, the mayor of another town under Popular Party rule proudly showcases in his office a picture of fascist dictator Francisco Franco. The mayor also plays the fascist anthem to anyone who will listen. Yet, he has faced no official reprimand.
    And earlier this month, a small town near Madrid, also governed by the Popular Party (or PP), allowed a fascist group to put up a stand in a public school exhibiting Franco-era and Nazi memorabilia. Officials later apologized and said that they weren’t aware of the stand.

    Though anecdotal, these incidents fit with a rising public nostalgia for the Franco era in Spain and are symptomatic of a broader resurgence of extreme right-wing ideology in Europe and globally.
    Another point of concern is that nationalist, populist and fascist movements have historically found fertile ground during times of economic pain… mainstream democratic parties have seen their legitimacy questioned and their political support drained.

    In Spain – and to a lesser extent in some other European countries – the immediate danger is not so much from a handful of incipient reactionary movements, but rather from the underlying official permissiveness from more mainstream conservative parties, like the Popular Party, bordering on patronage.

    Some elected Popular Party officials and party militants are openly making the Nazi salute, proudly displaying fascist flags and other memorabilia, and posting pro-Franco messages on social media sites.
    Amid the Popular Party’s recent political success, with its latest high-water mark the gaining of an absolute majority in parliament, many of the party’s stalwarts have reminisced about the Franco era as a prosperous time, though it wasn’t.
    Secessionist plans from Catalonia, Spain’s economic motor, have served to unite nationalist forces and radical fascist groups, but the most forceful opposition to Catalonian separation is coming from the right wing of the Popular Party, led by former Prime Minister Jose María Aznar. (emphasis added)

Cala goes on to add that this is a Europe-wide, if not a worldwide phenomenon, with France’s ultranationalist/xenophobic National Front, Greece’s neo-Nazi Golden Dawn, and Norway's anti-immigrant/anti-tax Progress Party leading the way into the abyss. Spain isn’t quite that far down the road… but the tolerance of Aznar's Popular Party for fascist expressions could--since the PP is the ruling party-- end up mainstreaming it. Meanwhile, in the United States, regressive movements like the Tea Party have been temporarily set on their heels by a public recognition that the answers they are offering threaten the strength and stability of the nation.

When will people learn that reaction doesn’t–almost by definition, can’t– solve problems?

At their heart, reactionary movements are based in denialism and a longing for a non-existent, mythical past. And they are generally funded by great wealth, which sees an opportunity to restore the rule of the strong. Opposition to them has to be based not in fear, but in the Golden Rule-- a desire to see one's neighbor do well, a longing for brotherhood/sisterhood over hierarchy, a reaching beyond tolerance of differences to actively affirm the mutual benefits of diversity. It is these characteristics which make societies dynamic, harnessing all the energy of the people to solve problems.

To reprise a comment I made earlier:

[T]he Constitution is a statement of the basic human rights which must be respected if a society is to be at prosperous and at peace with itself.

Call the source of these rights God or call it human nature, when the rights are abrogated, there is conflict and decay.

There's nothing mysterious about how this operates. Denial of the right to select our national representatives, as plainly happened in 2000, resulted in the installation of an incompetent man in the presidency. The latest conflict of the shutdown/debt ceiling debacle is the result of gerrymandering to prevent the votes of some people from counting.

What's the ultimate source of the denial of the (constitutionally unarticulated) right to meaningful voting? I think it's plainly in the decay of the First Amendment. Important ideas have been excluded from the debate, while erroneous ideas are promoted. One of the most astonishing things about the 2000 election was that only three newspapers (Boston Globe, Arizona Star, Tulsa World) published a story about Bush's National Guard service, while the media were filled with journalists jeering at things Al Gore never said. In a nation with a free press, this could not have happened.

And where are the roots of the decline of the First Amendment? I would suggest they actually lie in a right that the Constitution does not articulate, but that FDR identified: freedom from want. People are so busy making a living that they can't conduct the duties of citizenship. This is especially true because finding reliable news takes so much time and, sometimes, money. Also, FDR defined the freedom from fear. How can people speak freely if they are afraid of being fired? Some candidates are getting elected because big employers, like the Koch brothers, threaten their employees.

I think if one considers rights to be inherent, some interesting and enlightening conclusions follow. One, as I have illustrated, is that denial of rights results in national conflict and decline. A second is that, like FDR, we are still discovering what constitute basic human rights.

The rise of ultranationalism, anti-government, anti-immigrant or openly fascist parties is a warning sign that the human rights we recognize need expansion. Would anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-tax sentiment be so high had we not failed to recognize the right to meaningful employment? People do not oppose immigrants simply from racism, but from fear that their livelihoods are threatened. They may be anti-tax based on ideology alone, but what makes anti-tax movements possible is the ability to deny basic rights to the poor and middle-class by cutting the funding of government. The denial of rights is the tinder from which the flames of reaction arise.    

(crossposted, with some adaptation, from Mercury Rising)
I will be away early this evening, but hope to tend to the diary later. Thanks in advance for your comments.

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