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SPAIN: The Spanish and Irish Republics Compared

Rosa de Pena wonders why the Irish Free State, with so much against it, managed to survive, while both the Weimar Republic and the Spanish Republic did not make it. After reading Ian Gibson's study of Jose Antonio Primo de Rivera, she asked herself how anyone who had Michael Collins as national hero could take Primo de Rivera seriously as an exponent of political violence. If he ever crossed Michael Collins, in a week he would have had to be scraped off the walls. When she read Primo de Rivera's praise of rural life as more "authentic", she thought that "it must have take Gibson a lot of self-control not to start yelling about comely maidens, Knocknagow, and that the reason he left Ireland was not to have to put up with that kind of nonsense."

She knows that I attribute the collapse of the Spanish Republic partly to a lack of sense of responsibility, as exemplified by people like Garcia Lorca, Picasso, and Dali. She says "I think that you are a bit too harsh on the artists. Yes, they could be a scatterbrained lot, but the problem was not so much them, as those who took their pronouncements as gospel. In Ireland Yeats was revered, in spite that he inspired much of his politics on the babblings of McGregor Mathers and Aleister Crowley. But then none of the people running the Government thought that his advice was that important and went their own way. De Valera was very cruel to the intellectuals. He ignored them thoroughly. There is something endearing about de Valera. What can you say about a man who said that after a discussion with the Pope "Of course, the Holy Father agreed with me on that point". "And what would you have thought if he had not agreed?" "I would have thought that His Holiness was misinformed."

My comment: Rosa de Pena then indulges in a long and amusing "what if" variants, substituting Spanish and Irish people and events. There is indeed a comparison between Spain and Ireland. However, Primo de Rivera ran a dictablanda (a soft dictatorship), unlike Franco. The Irish Republicans were a very ruthless crowd, as the present IRA shows, unlike the Spanish Republicans. Britain, while not gentle, was not as ruthless as Franco in suppressing trouble-makers.

Ronald Hilton - 7/29/00