Los Nuevos Fascistas
Franco is dead; his followers aren’t

GettingIt.com, Nov. 29, 1999

I’m at Spain’s favorite right-wing gathering: “2O—N.”

This is not the fascist funfest of years past. Only six years ago, a National Socialist skinhead almost trashed my camcorder, a scrawny swastika boy assailed me as a member of “the Jewish- Masonic press,” and blue-shirted Falangists chided me for filming them near Nazis non grata (Hitler helped Franco rise to power, but many Spanish fascists found Adolf’s crematoria distasteful). Today’s Falangist happening isn’t as rough, but it is ultimately more menacing.

As the new union swallows old nations, more and more Europeans are doing the ultra-right thing. Among them, splintered Spanish ultras are casting an envious eye toward electoral victories up north, while nationalist arms rise in fascist salutes to past “glory” and “a new dawn.” At Spain’s annual fascist shindig, new blood calls for unity in the name of “God, Fatherland, and Justice.”

2O-N (November 20–Spaniards label landmark dates with a number-hyphen-letter combo) is the Spanish fascist’s D-day, death’s date with two patron saints of the Iberian ultra-right: José Antonio Primo de Rivera, founder of the national-syndicalist Falange Española, and Generalissimo Francisco Franco, dictator from 1939-75, who actually bit the dust on November 17. On this day, Madrid’s Plaza de Oriente is a sea of flags and fascist salutes, as nostalgic or nascent nationalists demand a Spain that is “One, Grand and Free.”

European fascism is on the rebound. Where far-right fringe groups once drew ridicule, they now have ballot-box viability. Last month, Jorg Haider’s Freedom Party won 27 percent of the popular vote to become Austria’s second political force. Christoph Blocher’s Swiss People’s Party followed with its own second-place showing. In France, Jean-Marie Le Pen’s National Front fell to pieces, but a fragmented far-right continues to draw votes. Nearly 15 percent of Norwegians support Carl Hagen’s far-right Progress Party. These parties all play on fears of immigration (often over 10 percent of the overall population) and a perceived threat to national identity. Haider–the charismatic son of Nazis–uses the term überfremdung (swamping by foreigners, a favorite of Joseph Goebbels, Hitler’s propaganda chief.

In Spain, immigration barely surpasses two percent of the population, though a million new immigrants are expected in the next three years. However, nationalism is on the rise in Spain for a variety of reasons, and a new generation of Spaniards is flocking to the ultra- right movement, venerating the fascist glory days of Franco.

“[Spain] is now a secular, sellout state with nothing but blasphemies and ridicule for the One True Religion,” yells José Luis Corral, leader of the Spanish Catholic Movement. “It has trashed family unity —- the very foundation of society — replacing it with divorce and domestic partnerships, free love and prostitution, threatening the very survival of our race.”

“Where are the fruits of this trite democracy?” asks Guillermo de Pablos, a priest. “With Franco there was order. That’s what we need in Spain: Order Respect for God — it’s been lost. With Franco: Tradition, Fatherland, Spain. With Franco, one leader was enough–because he did it stupendously.”

“Franco! Franco! Franco!” joins shouts of “iArriba España!” and “Viva Christ the King!” The crowd extends right arms in salute to sing the Cara al sol, the national-syndicalist anthem. Cara al sol sounds a lot like I’ve Been Workin’ on the Railroad, but ends with the words “Spain is beginning to dawn.” For years, this 20- N scene was more of an eccentric twilight crowd that got older, smaller, and increasilngly irrelevant. Spanish ultras are in disarray, but times are changin’ back, and perhaps a new day is coming.

“We’re inspired by the new dawn beyond our borders!” The Plaza de Oriente roars with the Castilian crescendo of Francisco Torres. “The moment has come to form a new movement, a political force with a National alternative, in the name of patriotism! We must bury differences and personal envies in the name of national restoration–running united in the next elections under the motto God, Fatherland, Justice!‘”

If there is anything eerie about this gathering, it is the relative sense of normality. Grandmother types smile at me sweetly. Despite the “fresh out of Sunday School” look of some Catholic youth, many teens and 20-somethings sport a leather-clad urban hipster look. Once brash skinheads now have hair and tennis shoes. One sees the telltale bomber jackets -— sometimes accompanied by long hair and pony tails. Middle—aged women in low-grade fur coats, Ann Landers coiffures and aviator-type sunglasses, raise their arms in fascist salutation. Yuppie parents bring the kiddies.

Nostalgic, decrepit 20th century septuagenarian fascists are being supplanted by a new generation. The ideologies present are diverse and conflicted, but all are united by a sense that democracy brings moral decay, that the European Union is killing national identity, and that regional separatist movements like those in Catalonia and the Basque Country threaten the territorial integrity of Spain. More than one tells me they could care less about Franco, that they’re looking toward the future. A group of singing Barcelona youths, dressed in Falangist blue shirts and red berets, poses before a “Catalonia is a region of Spain!” banner. Some are little more than toddlers.

“That’s how I like my young people! Right-wing! Cool!” shouts a short and tubby 50-something with a red scarf on her head.

“Cool?” I inquire. “I’m unhip to this right-wing

“The reds have their drugs, but not here. No siree!” says the woman, who became franquista after the caudillo’s death. “I’m for freedom–but with the flag out front.”

“By the way, I’m an immigrant,” I say. “Are you cool with that?”

“Franco never talked with the guiris [dumb foreigners],” she smiles.

“But my country, the United States, thought Franco was pretty swell,” I tell her.

“Yeah, you guys are different. You all have a good, right-wing monarchy.”

“No. USA. You know — elected president and all.”

“Yeah, but your Queen. You guys are right-wing, baby. Cool.”

Nearby tables offer more consolidated political stances. The plaza’s outskirts brim with the red and yellow of the Spanish flag, and political ideologues proffer propaganda on everything from Christian soldiers to eco-pagan nationalism. Undercover Nazis make their presence discreet. Street vendors dish up a smorgasbord of the surreal: Franco’s face on wine bottles. Decorative Papal plates next to “Hitler Was Right” stickers. Snoopy waves the Falangist flag.

But nothing could top the black girl selling swastikas.

“Sold many?” I ask her. “Truth is, you don’t seem like a swastika kind of gal.”

“Look,” comes the Caribbean accent. “I don’t ‘ agree with most of what I’m selling here. I’m just helping out my stepdad.”

Equally bizarre is the Asian woman hawking poster ads for “The Spanish Race.” I don’t know where to begin. “Um … do you just sell this stuff or …

“I’m Spanish!” comes a thickly accented response.

“Sometimes I feel Spanish, but I’m also a foreigner,” I say. “I mean, neither one of us looks totally … Spanish. Where were you born?”

“China,” she replies, visually bothered. “I been here twenty year. My husband is Spanish. I’m Spanish.”

“I understand,” I say, “but ‘the Spanish race?‘ Did the Communists do this to you?” A nervous giggle is her only reply.

“This is really just a fair. You get lots of folks selling junk, pins and the like. A few crazies come out of the woodwork to chant slogans, but tomorrow, we serious people will be doing the real work,” says Manuel, a dapper eco-
nationalist with Celtic cross pinned to his black leather jacket. “We’ve got some very prepared people–writers, teachers, intellectuals–particularly in the Falange. I left them because they seemed a bit sterile and ineffective, but the truth is they’re about the best-prepared group in Spain today.”

Despite all this nationalist glad-handing, I feel gypped.

“You all talk a lot about ‘national identity.‘ What does it mean to be Spanish when black girls sell swastikas and Chinese women celebrate ‘the Spanish race?’”

“Our project is national, but there has never been a strong racial component in Spain,” says Manuel. “We don’t face the immigration issues
they face up north — not yet.”

Copyright by Brett Allan King and/or publication in which story first appeared
Do not reprint without permission

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