History and Historiography

Anarchism, Franco’s Dictatorship, and Postwar Europe: High-risk Mobilization and Ideological Change

By Eduardo Romanos

Historians have traditionally considered Spanish anarchism to be the most successful variant of the international libertarian movement. Most of them also believe that the terminal point of that variant came soon after the end of the Spanish Civil War (1936–1939) and Franco’s dictatorship (1939–1975) came to power. This chapter agrees with the first assumption, but considers the second to be open to question. Spanish anarchism indeed succeeded in creating aspecific political culture and became a major political force in the first decades of the twentieth century. According to established opinion, harsh repression, familial rivalries, and the inability to bring ideology and tactics up–to-date have traditionally been considered the main explanations for the decline in 1939. However, this view corresponds with a lack of research on the post-Civil War period. I will critically confront the argument of ideological paralysis by analyzing the redefinition process of traditional “principles, tactics, and ends” carried out by the clandestine movement in the first years of dictatorship, and the relation of this ideological evolution to the repressive domestic and broader international contexts within which these ideas were formulated.

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