What is your ideology? We all have one and they were all duking it out in the sad saga of the Spanish Civil War.
Civil wars, like revolutions, do not just start up on the day they are reported to start. There is often a century of injustice building up steam before some incident cracks the lid on the pressure cooker and the whole thing blows up.
Spain had starving peasants, wealthy landowners, a perhaps too-powerful Catholic Church, enough of a middle class to actually read and learn new ideologies and the usual band of intelligentsia who wrote about the rights of the working man, even if they had never actually met a working man.
In 1931 the king had abdicated and a Parliament had been sort of functioning for five years, with elections and everything. You might think this would be enough to relieve some steam, but the republic moved on reforms way too slowly for many and way too fast for the rest.
The isms and ideologies on the left were: communists, socialists, liberals, trade unionists, democratic Republicans, anarchists and anarcho-syndicalists. On the right were Nationalists, the Catholic Church, the Carlists (who wanted to return to the Old Ways and a king) Conservatives and Fascists. Moderates were drowned out in the polarization.
Funny incidents are hard to come by in this bitter struggle that took perhaps a half million lives, about 250,000 of which were civilians, but there were at least two incidents that were at least funny-ironic, if not knee-slapping hilarious.
The anarchists: Anarchists by definition do not take orders from or even recognize, authority. The state, or “government” as we think of it, is poison to anarchists and must be resisted. So how do anarchists organize to fight a battle? As it turns out, they would hold a committee meeting to decide whether a given order should be followed.
When anarchists meet fascists on the front line:
What a war of ideologies! Volunteers from all over Europe and even the US, flooded in (mostly to help the legitimate republican) government resist the right-wing military coup. The “left” was busy debating and was not as united as the right, which valued uniting against the dang “commies” above all else.
Twelve different ideologies, thirteen if you count Basque separatists-all fighting it out for three bloody years with atrocities committed by both sides. “It’s a battle of philosophies,” I thought as I watched the documentary. Just then a rebel attack on Madrid came on the screen, fought near a University. “See?” I told myself, “The battle of ideas has come came home to roost.” Not only that, but the Republicans fought them off from the Philosophy Department! The Philosophy Department, perfect!
The right-wing military coup, led by Generalissimo Franco and aided by fascist Germany and Italy, overthrew the legitimate republican government and set up a 40 year dictatorship.
If only they could have settled it at the Philosophy Department 100 years earlier…if only, as one survivor said, they had come to at least this philosophy: “a person can have different ideas than you and still be a good person.”
Really good documentary: The Spanish Civil War