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The Spanish Civil War and the Battle for Western Civilization

After a lengthy legal battle concluded in September, Spain’s Supreme Court gave its approval to the socialist government’s plans to exhume and remove the remains of General Francisco Franco from the Valley of the Fallen, where they have lain since his death in 1975. The controversial general led Spain’s Nationalist forces to victory over their Republican opponents in the Spanish Civil War, which ended 80 years ago.

The Spanish Civil War (1936-1939) was among the most bitter of the 20th century. The current Spanish government’s decision to open Franco’s grave demonstrates that the wounds have far from healed. The reason for such bitterness is that this war was a civilization-defining conflict, a war of values and principles, a microcosm of that which has divided Western man since the French Revolution. The Republicans represented the new revolutionary order: liberals, socialists, communists, and anarchists. The Nationalists represented the traditional Spanish order: conservative, Catholic, and monarchist.

The Spanish Civil War is a rare conflict whose history has been written by the losers rather than the victors. The leading histories of the war show a strong sympathy for the Republican side. Within popular culture the leftist view of the conflict has taken root. This is partly a result of the fact that major literary figures of the day volunteered with the Republican forces. A 1937 poll of...

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