Tuesday, July 04, 2006

General Franco – Polish hero?

A bit of a fuss at the EU parliament as far-right MEP Maciej Giertych praises Spanish dictator.

Yes, you did read that right. During a parliamentary debate in Strasburg on how nasty General Franco was (?) Maciej Giertych, far right father of far right education minister Roman Giertych, said he longed for the days of strong men ruling Europe with an iron first. Quoted in EU Observer, he said:

'The presence of such personalities as Franco, Salazar or DeValera in European politics guaranteed Europe's perseverance of traditional values. We lack such men of action these days.'

Yeah, I’ve read about it in the history books. Goose stepping in long shinny boots; when men were men and Bavarian sheep got nervous? That kind of thing?

Giertych told an opened mouthed EU parliament:

‘We observe in deep sorrow some attempts of historical revisionism which tends to criticize all that is traditional and Catholic while portraying in a positive light all that is lay and socialist.’

Oh, I see. He supports Franco because he ‘kept the commies at bay’ - that kind of argument. Like the one they use to justify Augusto Pinochet?

And then I lose Giertych’s argument completely:

‘Let's not forget that Nazism in Germany and fascism in Italy were also spiced up by socialist and atheist taste.’


German socialist leader Martin Schulz wasn’t having that:

‘What we have just heard is Mr Franco's ghost. It was a fascist speech and such a statement has no place in the European Parliament,’

Schultz then started shouting “You Nazis” at protesting rightist Polish MEPs.

All in a days fun, these days, down at the EU parliament.

The culture war in Europe continues...


michael farris said...

Like fascist like son?

Frank Partisan said...

I wish American politics was as direct. Your continent has an advantage in polemics.

Wolf Moon said...

Hey, beatroot, General Franco is not a Polish hero. It's just a hero for bunch of idiots (including Giertychs). Most Poles don't even know who Franco was. Beside, I got this feeling, polish politicians are really trying to get attention of polish socieity. They say lot of words, pretend they are "good uncle" for us and whatever they do is just for our best. But... they got more and more frustrated, because most of people here doesn't care about politics, they words and acts. People here just got tired of this, they want to live their lives. What we got is 2 different, parallel worlds in Poland: reagular world and politician world, seen by rest of socieity as a small cage where dogs are barking each other. People just watch tv, and feel like in ZOO: You don't understand why those animals act like that, but you like to watch it.. at least for a moment.
I believe, Poland is the only coutry in whole Europe, where politics are so far away from rest of the people - or more likely, people are so far away from politics. If you listen to people in busses, trams etc you can hear "it's not my goverment, not my politicians, I didn't choose them" or "let them do what they want, I don't watch/listen/care". Like in communism - goverment was polish, but not "ours".
Thats why most people dont't care about what Giertych said - they just watch it as if it was another tooth-paste commercial, switching channel or maybe saying "not again.." and then shwitching channel and THAT is bad...

beatroot said...

Wolf: If you listen to people in busses, trams etc you can hear "it's not my goverment, not my politicians, I didn't choose them" or "let them do what they want, I don't watch/listen/care".

Yup. It's like those anti-Iraq war posters - 'Not in my name'...well, sorry, but in a democracy it IS in our name. We have to take the blame. We voted them in.

I should add the Giertych nationalist dynasty is on the margins of politics here - the LPR is currently on about 5-6% of the vote. But what he says does have some support with people outside of that party...

Just look at the way the old Zycie newspaper sent bus loads of journalists (which is more journos than it had readers) to suck up to Pinochet when he was arrested in the UK.

There is a desire to have a strong, authoritarian catholic nationalist leader here among some.

Nit very healthy at all.

Anonymous said...

Proof if ever it was needed that the worst sort of bigot is the educated bigot.


beatroot said...

That's a good point. Giertych and his son both have Phds, are well educated etc. So it is no good people going on about 'lack of education' etc for bigited views.

And I should add that, though I said that the LPR are marginal here, they are in the government...which makes them have some influence over policy.

sonia said...

I lose Giertych’s argument completely

Why? You mean you actually don't see the fundamental difference between leftist TOTALITARIAN COLLECTIVIST ideologies like Stalinism, Nazism and Italian Fascism, and traditional RIGHT-WING dictators like Franco, Pinochet and others ?

True, Hitler supported Franco, but then again he also supported Stalin from 1939 to 1941. Doesn't prove anything. Why do you think Hitler named his party NATIONAL SOCIALIST WORKERS party, rather than, say, CHRISTIAN CONSERVATIVE party ???

beatroot said...

...because he already had the German CHRISTIAN CONSERVATIVEs in the bag! (see Hitler's Pope by John Cornwell).

But I think you are trying to put thoughts into Giertych's head, Sonia. What he is trying to do is put some distance between Hitler and Franco for his own grubby little reasons.

And youn know as well as I do that Hitler never supported Stalin and Stalin never supported Hitler...the 'pact' was one of the most ...instrumental (if that is the right word) in the history of pacts.

sonia said...


Hitler never supported Stalin and Stalin never supported Hitler

I am not so sure. Hitler's views were quite complicated. He didn't really hated Communism, he hated what he incorrectly perceived as a Jewish conspiracy masquarading as Communism. He admired Stalin for purging Jews from the Communist party in the 1930's. He didn't allow kolchozes to be dissolved in Soviet territories under German occupation. He named Eric Koch, a German Communist to administer Ukraine (he was named 'Red Eric'), Germany had a Five-Year Plan, just like the Soviet Union.

Esentially, the equation could be: Stalin + racism = Hitler

Hitler had the German CHRISTIAN CONSERVATIVEs in the bag

Exactly, IN THE BAG, not in power and not in decision-making positions...

Giertych is trying to put some distance between Hitler and Franco for his own grubby little reasons

He had good teachers. For sixty years socialists were successfully trying to put some distance between themselves and Nazism for their own grubby little reasons... and they succeeded at convincing many people (even you) that Hitler was a genuine right-winger...

beatroot said...

He didn't really hate Communism, he hated what he incorrectly perceived as a Jewish conspiracy masquerading as Communism.

I think that is just plain wrong, Sonia. In the minds of people like Hitler, communism and jewishness were one of the same thing. Inseparable.

As to Hitler being a rightwinger, I realise that you, as a right winger, are keen to keep as much distance between yourself and the Nazis...and I would agree it is right to do that.

Just as it is to keep as much distance from a demagogue like Stalin and socialists like my Dad (who was against Stalin all his life).

steppx said...

Well, as ive said before (you and I have an ongoing little debate about this) this government is periously close to fascistic. Support for folks like Franco ( a fave of the catholic church) isnt surprising. I dont even think its tactical.....its just what guys like Geirtych think.

The xenophobic and racist underpinnings of this administration are pretty clear.

And what IS sonia going on about? I wish I could follow the logic, above, but cant. But then thats often the way with the deeply reactionary.Communism was always anti fascist.... and fascists always anti communist. Duh. Sonia....but some history books.

Good post though Beat.

krucaFuks said...

The only difference between Stalinism and Facism is that the later was more ideological. Stalin wasn't really communist, he was just opressive dictator who used ideology to get to the power and then put true ideologists against the wall. The problem in all totalitary system lies in this curious idea, that "we now better and for sure" what is best for people. Actually, PiS goverment shouldn't be really perceived as xenophobic, and by no means as racist. But some ideas that lie behind theirs thinking, that strict distincions between We, the Righteous (PiS supporters) and Uklad defenders (the rest of society) - these are the roots of totalitarism. Righties are more keen to fall into such pits; lefties are more oriented on discussion and cooperation, but some radicals are not free from it. I am a leftie too, but I must admit it ;o)

Henry Grodsk said...

Franco has his supporters in Poland, like Tomasz Wołek, of Tele 5 (and formerly of Życie Warszawy).

beatroot said...

If you are a leftie krucafuks (and welcome) then who on earth do you vote for in this country?

Stalin was jot communist? He was certainly against Tsarism way back before the revolutiuon. but he doesn't appear to have been very interested in 'theory' until after it. He tried to teach himself with the aid of 'tutors'...but many of these tutors eventually fell out of favour for saying the wrong thing and ended up in jail, or dead.

Stalin did publish a very ugly tome about dialectical materialism...but it was not something that other marxists respected as being a contribution to the theory.

So, yearh you are probably right: he was just a bully boy.

Step - as you know, I don;t think this government is anywhere near fascism...although if this was the 1930s I might have a different opinion about that.

And I honestly do not think that Sonia is deeply reactionary. She would be first to be put on the bomb fire under a fascist regime...
...she is just a bit neo-con-ish...many are.

beatroot said...

...And can I highly recommend Henry Grodsk’s blog ‘Our man in Gdansk’…(above )which has rapidly become my favorite blog on Poland. Interesting, elegant, a bit different….

sonia said...


what IS sonia going on about? I wish I could follow the logic, above, but cant. But then thats often the way with the deeply reactionary.Communism was always anti fascist.... and fascists always anti communist

Communism, Steppx, is hundred times more dangerous and murderous than 'fascism'... It's like comparing a flu and an ebola virus...


I honestly do not think that Sonia is deeply reactionary

You're wrong (once again). I am as reactionnary as you can possibly imagine. It's just a pity that you are not equally reactionnary as me towards those horrible, inhuman ideologies...

steppx said...

see Beat....SHE IS REACTIONARY......and sorry for my endlessly sloppy typing. (and spelling:))

You know, I suspect Giertych has no clue about how the rest of Europe views guys like Franco (same way Republicans in the US dont get why Latin America is moving left.....after El Mozote or Blowtorch Bob {another good catholic by the by}....or why Pinochet isnt adored in the manner the Queen adores him -- still sends him a birthday card each year).

Of course its not FASCIST yet.....but fascism comes in different forms...and each time it comes with a new cosmetic cover. I just worry this country is inching toward it. Spoke today with an old Solidarity leader....and he said the same thing. Said people only remember the Soviets....not Fascism...and it worries him. Worries us all I think (well, maybe not sonia.....on her island in the pacific...unless that picture really isnt her, and she's an unhappy chain smoking divorcee in Shorditch......who knows.)

Cyber reality is only cyber reality. Maybe I'll find a buffed out photo and post it as me. :)

beatroot said...

Step: No, Sonia is a reactionary, unhappy chain smoking divorcee from Shorditch with chronic halitosis....

Sonia: It's just a pity that you are not equally reactionnary as me towards those horrible, inhuman ideologies...

???????????????? Where did that one come from?

sonia said...


???????????????? Where did that one come from?

Reactionary is a word coined by so-called progressives to describe their most mortal enemies, from Kolchak to Denikin to Wrangel to Horthy to Chang Kai-Chek to Franco to Suharto to Pinochet - people who didn't just spoke against totalitarian regimes, but were not afraid to REACT, even barbarically and inhumanely at times, in order to stop the spread of that plague...

That's my opinion anyway. You don't have to agree. Unfortunately, we don't have a time machine to go back, change history and compare what MIGHT HAVE BEEN: to find out if Chile would be another North Korea if Allende survived the coup, if Spain would become another Albania if Franco lost the Civil War, etc. etc.

beatroot said...

Allende was an elected head of an elected government. Right wing army generals and the CIA decided that the people of Chile could not be trusted with their own government. So they changed it. Brutally.

It's just a shame that you are not as outraged by horrible, inhuman coups like that one.

Your interest in freedom is very selective, Sonia.

sonia said...


Right wing army generals

Hardly. When Castro visited Chile shortly before the coup, all those allegedly 'right wing' generals treated him like a celebrity and expressed open admiration for him....

Allende was an elected head of an elected government

Hitler was democratically elected too, and actually got more votes (43% to Allende 35%)...

CIA decided that the people of Chile could not be trusted with their own government

I am sure CIA decided the same thing about the people of Cuba as well, but somehow, they never succeeded at staging a coup. Ever wondered why ?

Here's my theory: for all his faults, Castro is a fairly successful leader (all thing relative, of course). True, Cuba is poorer than under Battista, but at least it's a far more stable, internally very peaceful country than in the 1950's. Castro didn't destroy a stable country. He turned a poor, very unstable country into a poorer, but stable country. A mixed record, if you will.

Chile was different. It was a prosperous, stable, democratic success story before Allende and his bunch of idealistic fools started to mess it up. Those pro-Castro Chilean generals weren't fools. They backed Pinochet not because he was pro-American or right-wing. They backed him because he wasn't an incompetent fool like Allende.

a shame that you are not as outraged by horrible, inhuman coups like that one

Maybe because I know more about people who were overthrown by that coup than you do. Believe me, if they had a chance to rule a country, Cuba would make Chile look like an oasis of peace, tranquility and prosperity...

Your interest in freedom is very selective

Not really. Politics isn't an abstract science. You don't compare things to an ideal (people who do are called idealists and should stay out of politics). In politics, you compare lesser and bigger evils. Allende was a bigger evil than Pinochet, that's all...

sonia said...

... I meant CHILE would make CUBA look like an oasis of peace, tranquility and prosperity...

Anonymous said...

Please explain in greater detail, Cyber Sonia, why you think Allende was a greater evil than Pinochet. Characterizing Allende as an idealistic, incompetent fool only goes so far (not very).

sonia said...


As I said in an earlier post, 'Unfortunately, we don't have a time machine to go back, change history and compare what MIGHT HAVE BEEN: to find out if Chile would be another North Korea if Allende survived the coup'.

So it's all conjecture.

But the facts are simple: under Allende (1970-3), Chile was an economic and political basket case. Under Pinochet, it became a prosperous and stable country that evolved into Latin America's most stable democracy. Just like Franco before him, Pinochet illegally seized power in a poor country, and later gave up dictatorial power and handed a rich, stable country to new democratic institutions.

To me, those two leaders, Franco and Pinochet, are heroes. Yes, they are maligned by leftists, but they improved the situations in their countries.

Anonymous said...

Similarly simplistically stated, I would argue to the contrary that Allende was elected because Chile was an economic basket case. The economy was further destabilized by machinations directed by Henry Kissinger leading eventually to the coup d'etat, hardly a democratic method. Pinochet is not looked upon as a hero by the vast majority of his countrymen and women; quite the opposite: he is damned as a murderous butcher. But all comes out in the wash. The only good thing Bush is doing these daze is assuring that more and more leftist governments are being elected throughout Latin America, so many that I've actually lost count. And if votes were actually counted in Mexico, another country would be added to the list. But I guess the government was well tutored in election theft! Maybe if you would wear some clothes, Cyber Sonia, you could travel somewhere and experience how the salt of the earth actually think and feel. But you claim you haven't for how many years?

sonia said...


I rather suspect that I've visited far more countries than you had. And one thing is obvious: former (and present) Communist countries (from Bulgaria to Cuba) are doing far, far worse than former
'fascist' countries (from Chile to Spain).

So it was Kissinger who
'destabilized' Chile's economy and provoked a coup d'etat? Too bad he wasn't able to provoke a coup d'etat in Cuba as well. I guess it only works when the Commie ruler is a complete imbecile...

Myslalam ze 45 lat komunizmu nauczylo by cie rozumu...

beatroot said...

Sonia is saying at the end there that after nearly 50 years of experiencing communism, you would think Ignacy – silly boy! - and Poland would understand why fascism was soooo much better!

Of course, we are not comparing like with like.

A better comparison would be Slovenia, Czech Republic and Portugal. Portugal was fascist, and the other two we know.

Slovenia and Czech have just overtaken Portugal in GDP per capita. Portugal had a coup around 25 years ago…but already ex-commie states, a decade or more behind, have overtaken it.

So things are not so simply, Sonia.

Spain got rid of Franco in 1974 (?) when the country already had a thriving tourist industry ( I remember being in Ibiza when he died) …so had a nice launch into the civilized world. And that was over thirty years ago.

Poland liberated 17 years ago. It’s done OK. But it would have done better with proper governance.

Anonymous said...

Cyber Sonia! My, how suspicious of you suspecting that I haven't travelled as much as you. But then again, being born of privileged communists may make that a possibility, if that's your case, as you have also hinted in your posts. But let's really see. You haven't worn so much as a thong since you were 20 according to your blog profile. So you visited how many countries before you were 20? I don't imagine that you traveled buck nekid across too many borders. How mature you must have been to take in all the nuances of all those countries at the tender age of 19 and younger! And now you're 38, so it appears that you haven't left your tropical island in 18 years! Good for you!

beatroot said...

She went to the Dominican republic a couple of weeks ago. No reports yet of diplomatic incidents with Tonga caused by lack of clothes.

I wonder what her new biometric passport looks like? And which bits do they measure?

Agnes said...

Sonia, my point is antitotalitarian. And that excludes Franco and Pinochet.

beatroot said...

Don't you mean includes, redwine...?

beatroot said...

Sorry...I see what youmean...just waking up...very hot today here...

sonia said...

Swiety Tomasz Ignacy,

I've responded to you inquires about my travelling habits here.


my point is antitotalitarian. And that excludes Franco and Pinochet

My point is anti-totalitarian as well. But I make a distinction between totalitarian systems (like Nazi Germany or Stalinist Russia) that oppressed and exterminated INNOCENT people, and right-wing non-totalitarian ditatorships (like Franco's spain or Pinochet's Chile) that only persecuted and killed people who openly admired Communist totalitarian oppressors.


Slovenia and Czech have just overtaken Portugal in GDP per capita

Very good point, Beatroot. I am impressed. But please notice that Slovenia and the Czech Republic were the only post-Communist countries that consistently elected Thatcherite, right-wing, pro-business governments (unlike Poland and others that alternate between post-Communist socialist governments and anti-business pro-Catholic ones)...

Agnes said...

Sonia, that's how we know a system is totalitarian: it persecutes and kills its opponents. Normal societeies don't function like that. And if I hate that in the regimes in Eastern Europe or the USSR or Asia, let me hate them everywhere.

The problem of the alternate post-Communist governments is corruption, among other things. I couldn't call them socialist or Communist. They are the dream of every neocon, and many of them have had their support from the very beginning.

gumish said...

no redwine - totalitarian means it interferes in all aspects of your life - this is the original meaning I guess - every past monarchy according to your definition would be totalitarian - wouldn't it?

gumish said...

by the way redwine - the first and maybe not only the first French Republic would be hugely totalitarian if one accepts your definition - maybe you are uprooting yourself or else :P

sonia said...


that's how we know a system is totalitarian: it persecutes and kills its opponents. Normal societies don't function like that

I am sorry to disappoint you, but that's simply not true. All systems have to persecute (and sometimes kill) its MORTAL opponents. That's what treason and anti-terrorism laws are for. The difference is that a democracy usually has fewer MORTAL opponents than a oppressive dictatorship. There is also this key nuance: under Communism people usually hated the system, but often let themselves be seduced by a charismatic leader (Stalin, Castro, etc.). While under a democracy, people usually approuve of the system, but hate their elected leaders (Clinton, Bush, etc.)


You are absolutely right. But the first French republic actually was very totalitarian (the first such occurance in history) during the brief period of Robespierre's reign of terror from 1793 to 1794. If you had seen Wajda's Danton, you would have seen striking similarities between Communist totalitarianism and the Jacobine one.

beatroot said...

What about this delicious little titbit:

In 1968, the fascist regime under General Franco gave permission for a special catholic mass to commemorate the life of ….Adolf Hitler!

Franco…democracy?.don’t make me want to puke….

As I said before: some people’s idea of democracy is not just selective, it’s putrid.

Agnes said...

Gumish, Sonia: maybe totalitarian is not the appropriate term, right: however there are similarities. (The way they came to power, used the secret police, maintained power, the symbols, the rethoric, and so on). Brutally opressive, nasty, naughty, or simply bad, not polite enough, etc - or just authoritarian? To an extent most states are authoritarian, if not all, by definition. We can get lost in definitions, if you prefer so. WE could also argue about how and why was one elected: after all, Hitler was, others were.

Yes, we could call the French Republic that, but then I imagine a school, and the history teacher explaining to the children "the totalitarian, pharaonic Egypt". It was totalitarian, wasn't it, even if pharaons werene't elected (but often they used the military and what we could call today "secret police".) Hilarious. So is calling the leftist opposition "mortal enemy".

Often I think no parallel can be drawn (though many tried) between the two extreme manigestations of these ideologies (the dinosaurs and Hitler, or Mao, Pol Pot versus - name them). Franco wasn;'t Hitler, neither was Pinochet. That does not make their regimes less oppressive and brutal. But neither was Allende Stalin to that.

Yes, you are right about the "all aspects of life". Again, not the case of Chile, as far as I know. (It is the case of Turkmenistan though, to a caricaturesque extent.) It is the case of any non secular state.

And Sonia, when the opposition, "the other" is considered "mortal enemy" - that again, is totalitarian. In these regimes freedom of speech and conscience were the mortal enemy with this reasoning, and that, again, is a characteristic of totalitarian states. The degrees differ, the essential characteristics don't. One nightmare is 1984, another is "Brave New World" - still a nightmare.

The striking similarities with the Commuinist regime in Danton are not accidental, as you well know. Excellent film.

beatroot said...

"the totalitarian, pharaonic Egypt...

If that was the case then every regime up to about 1890's was totalitarian. But we cannot compare pre-democracy societies with now. The thing about Franco etc was that the Spannish knew that other people could get rid of their governments but could not themselves.

Franco was a dictator....and a nasty one. Let's not mess about here. The guy was a c**t!

michael farris said...

"In 1968, the fascist regime under General Franco gave permission for a special catholic mass to commemorate the life of ….Adolf Hitler!"

Godwin wept.

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