Tag Archives: Falangism

Ramiro Ledesma Ramos: National Bolshevik (Part 2)

ramiro-ledesma-ramos-1905-1936

This is my [Lue-Yee Tsang’s] translation, done a while ago, of part 2 of a piece whose first part was translated in 2012. Since I don’t speak Spanish, some of my translation may be inexact, but I trust that my knowledge of English and linguistics is enough for me to have at least usefully conveyed the general sense of the Spanish original by Juan Antonio Llopart Senent.

Ramiro, Falange, and the Expulsion

On 13 February 1934 was concluded the merger agreement between the JONS of Ramiro and the FE [Falange Española] of José Antonio.

This union was born with strong discrepancies among the Jonsistas themselves. Within their bosom coexisted two positions: that of opposing such union for fear and distrust of the Falangists, considering them too right, and that of accepting the agreement with the Falangists, believing that both organizations would be strengthened and enriched. The choice that prevailed was the second. As soon as he was informed of the decision of the Jonsista Council, the JONS Galician leader, the former communist Santiago Montero Diaz, sent a letter to Ramiro resigning from the organization.

Thus, a merger took shape that was marked by dissension. In fact, no one can deny that within the FE there were excessively rightist nuclei with relevant strength in the movement.

But it is also true that some within FE also had reservations before the merger; for let us not forget that in their bosom coexisted monarchists, rightwingers, true revolutionaries, and a certain other future Carlist militant, Ricardo Rada. The main concern of the Falangists was the strong social burden imposed by the Jonsistas, especially their economic radicalism: what they feared was the proletarianization of the FE.

It should here be remembered that one of the points of the merger between the JONS and the Falange Española stated the following: ‘It is considered essential that the new Movement insist on forging a political personality that does not lend itself to confusion with right-wing groups.’

On February 16 was released the first issue of La Patria Libre. Ramiro, along with other old Jonsistas, had parted company with the Falange Española. With this new publication they tried to enter the political breach from the anti-bourgeois and national-syndicalist revolutionary angle of the primitive JONS.

The supporters of the ‘Joseantonian truth’ did not waver, nor did they hesitate, to discredit Ramiro, to bury him in the most fallacious criticism. He was accused of being envious, he was ridiculed by José Antonio himself when he warned about certain ‘revolutionaries’ in allusion to Ramiro’s pronouncement of errors. In most books on National Syndicalism written by Falangists, Ramiro is considered a secondary player in National Syndicalism, to whom the trail is lost after the split-up because of the Falangists’ expulsion [sic].

Thus we find statements like this one by Francisco Bravo: ‘Ramiro could not behave with sufficient decorum.’ The Francoist Ximénez de Sandoval points out, ‘Ledesma had the mistaken concept of believing that a National Revolution needed the type of proletarian leader … to possess the right creative arrogance.’ But if there is someone who deserves a comment, it is Raimundo Fernández Cuesta, one of the main culprits of the Falange’s rightwinging for so many years, the main lackey of the pro-Franco Falange and the one who united the Falange elbow to elbow with the most reactionary far right during the Spanish transition; this subject says in a letter dated 9 February 1942, ‘The episode of expulsion [sic] of Ramiro has its origin in the personal envy he felt for José Antonio, born perhaps of differences of origin, environment, and education. It was the expression in the Falange of the class struggle, which in Spain threatened all activities. That, along with Ramiro’s difficult economic situation, made him fit to be an instrument of right-wing parties, who wanted to sow tares in our ranks.’ In short, Ramiro, the third national leader of the Falange Española, the founder and principal theoretician of the National-Syndicalism, was but an envious and poor man who had been bought by the rightists to provoke the ruin of the Falangist movement.

There are numerous opinions about Ramiro’s split, but perhaps it would be more correct to read what Ramiro himself said about the split: ‘Whoever believes that our break with the Falange Española was due to mere whim and that it lacked deep dimensions is gravely mistaken. We, the Jonsistas, observed the limitations mentioned, clearly saw that the time had come for radical changes in orientation, tactics, and leaders; and since none of this could be achieved there, we gave new life to the JONS.’

For some time, the verbal and even physical confrontations between some thugs of the FE and the Jonsista followers of Ramiro were constant. ‘There is not a day when any of the leaders of the JONS are not provoked on the street by one of the ten or twelve wage-earning ruffians available to [Primo de Rivera],’ ‘the attacks that the Falangist leaders have launched against those of the JONS are themselves, we have said and we repeat, of ruffian beings, of residual beings, who live beyond all moral solvency and every clean purpose.’

Francisco Bravo himself acknowledges in his book José Antonio: The Man, the Leader, the Comrade, that the sale and distribution of La Patria Libre was hounded by the Falangists, while affirming that ‘José Antonio prevented any of us, excited by the unjust attacks on the founder of the JONS, from sticking him with a shot’ (83). It’s a shame that Bravo does not tell us who of ‘his’ was trigger-happy about the Jonsista leader.

Ramiro never wanted to respond to the Falangist attacks, and whenever he was forced to do so, he did so in the pages of La Patria Libre.

The truth is that Ramiro, together with Onesimo Redondo, Manuel Mateo, and Álvarez de Sotomayor, had met in the Fuyma cafeteria to discuss the situation of the FE de las JONS. At that meeting, both Onesimus and Matthew pointed out the need to do something, since the situation was distressing. According to Martínez de Bedoya, ‘José Antonio was surrounded by gentlemen, who occupied positions, jealous of their competences, and who even had fixed salaries.’ The decision of the four assembled was to separate from the Falange Española and reorganize the JONS. For this, Mateo guaranteed the stalwart support of the CONS (Central National-Syndicalist Labor Union), which together with the backing of the strongest delegation, the Valladolid of Onesimo Redondo, gave a certain confidence of success. But in fact, once Ramiro was convinced, who of the four was the most reticent toward the separation, only Álvarez de Sotomayor ended up supporting what was decided there. Mateo defected and was named (as a reward?) as head of the CONS by José Antonio.

Onesimo Redondo decided at the last minute to remain under the orders of José Antonio, forgetting the agreement with Ramiro. Was this a strategy of the Falangists to separate Ramiro and his immediate collaborators from the organization? Few were those who followed Ramiro – Martinez de Bedoya, Gutiérrez Palma, Poblador – and Montero Diaz rejoined the fight. But what really mattered was that the banner of revolutionary National Syndicalism was raised again.

Ramiro continued his political activity, and neither the attacks on his militants by the Falangists, nor the assault on his social premises at Calle Amaniel in Madrid by troublemakers commanded by Aznar and Valcárcel, nor the constant reproaches, made a dent in him and his comrades.

One must also point out, however, that Ramiro was never very well regarded by the Joseantonians, and we know that this assertion will anger the ‘purists’ of the Falange. But the truth is that, without Ramiro, National Syndicalism would not exist, and that is the truth. José Antonio helped give shape to National Syndicalism – essentially during the last months of 1935, and until they put out his life on 20 November 1936 – but without the settlement and foundation of Ramiro, the Falange would have been no more than a vulgar ultrarightist organization.

It would be unfair not to accept criticism of Ramiro, for it is undoubtedly true that everyone goes wrong sometimes. But when these criticisms are biased or when these attacks toward him only show a deep ignorance of their ideas, it is not only regrettable but condemnable.

Thus, in the journal Sindicalismo in which Sigfredo Hillers de Luque collaborated, there appears in the chapter ‘Talks of the Joyful Ball’ a section entitled ‘The Syndicalism of Ramiro Ledesma Ramos’ – this article appears reproduced 28 years later, without any type of comment or correction in number 22, corresponding to the months of May–July 1992 for the journal No Importa, organ of the Falange Española Independiente, so I think they approve what is there expressed – in which the following is affirmed: ‘The National Syndicalism of Ramiro Ledesma and that of José Antonio in 1935 have little or nothing to do with each other … the separation of Ramiro from the Falange, regardless of the personal problems (which there were, and which are supposed to explain everything), was undoubtedly due to the fact that Jose Antonio and Ramiro, still speaking with the same words, wanted different things. … Vis-à-vis the progressive fascist radicalization of Ramiro is the progressive syndicalist radicalization of José Antonio.’ It is a Falangist opinion, of course, but lacking any credibility in what concerns the progressive fascism of Ramiro, which he does not hesitate to say, ‘No longer do they [the Jonsists] pretend that he [Ramiro] and his comrades, organized fascism, even remotely. What there was of fascism in the old JONS is today collected by Primo de Rivera, above all in his last propaganda. They understand that their mission is something else’ (123).

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Falangist Sympathies

Interested in nationalist or fascist movements not wedded to racial theories, movements whose goals I may consider similar in spirit to those of Chiang Kai-shek in China, I find that I broadly approve of the Programme of the Spanish Falange (1937). Its words are sometimes more extreme than I would write myself, but I think the statement can be reconciled to a godly understanding of the commonwealth.

Nation, unity, empire

1. We believe in the supreme reality of Spain. The urgent collective task of all Spaniards is to strengthen, elevate, and aggrandize the nation. All individual, group, or class interests must be subordinated without question to the accomplishment of this task.

2. Spain is an indivisible destiny in universal terms. Any conspiracy against this indivisible whole is repulsive. All separatism is a crime we shall not forgive. The prevailing Constitution, insofar as it encourages disintegration, offends against the indivisible nature of Spain’s destiny. We therefore demand its immediate repeal.

3. We are committed to Empire. We declare that Spain’s historical fulfillment is the Empire. We demand for Spain a prominent position in Europe. We shall not tolerate international isolation or foreign interference. Regarding the countries of Spanish America, our aim is the unification of culture, economic interests, and power. Spain claims that its role as the spiritual axis of the Spanish-speaking world entitles it to a position of preeminence in world affairs.

4. Our armed forces – on land, at sea, and in the air – must be sufficiently strong and efficient to ensure at all times for Spain total independence and a world status that befits the nation. We shall give back to the land, sea, and air forces all the public dignity they merit, and we shall see to it that a similar martial outlook pervades the whole of Spanish life.

5. Spain will look again to the sea routes for her glory and her wealth. Spain will aim to become a great seafaring power, for times of danger and for the sake of trade. We demand for the Fatherland equal status among navies and on the air routes.

State, individual, freedom

6. Ours will be a totalitarian State in the service of the Fatherland’s integrity. All Spaniards will play a part therein through their membership in families, municipalities and trade unions. No one shall play a part therein through a political party. The system of political parties will be resolutely abolished, together with all its corollaries: inorganic suffrage, representation by conflicting factions, and the Cortes as we know it.

7. Human dignity, the integrity of the individual, and individual freedom are eternal and intangible values. But the only way to be really free is to be part of a strong and free nation. No one will be permitted to use his freedom against the unity, the strength, and the freedom of the Fatherland. A rigorous discipline will prevent any attempt to poison or split the Spanish people, or to incite them to go against the destiny of the Fatherland.

8. The National-Syndicalist State will permit any private initiative that is compatible with the collective interest and, indeed, will protect and stimulate those that are beneficial.

Economy, work, class struggle

9. In the economic sphere, we think of Spain as one huge syndicate of all those engaged in production. In order to serve national economic integrity we shall organize Spanish society along corporative lines by creating a system of vertical unions that will represent the various branches of production.

10. We reject the capitalist system, which disregards the needs of the people, dehumanizes private property, and transforms the workers into shapeless masses that are prone to misery and despair. Our spiritual and national awareness likewise repudiates Marxism. We shall channel the drive of the working classes, that are nowadays led astray by Marxism, by demanding their direct participation in the formidable task of the national State.

11. The National-Syndicalist State will not stand cruelly aloof from economic conflicts between men, nor will it look on impassively as the strongest class subjugates the weakest. Our regime will make class struggle totally impossible, since all those cooperating in production will constitute an organic whole therein. We deplore and shall prevent at all costs the abuses of partial vested interests, as well as anarchy in the workforce.

12. The primary purpose of wealth is to improve the standard of living of all the people – and this will be the declared policy of our State. It is intolerable that great masses of people live in poverty while a few enjoy every luxury.

13. The State will recognize private property as a legitimate means of attaining individual, family, and social ends, and will protect it against being abused by high finance, speculators, and moneylenders.

14. We shall defend the move toward nationalization of banking and the takeover of the major public services by corporations.

15. All Spanish citizens have the right to work. The public institutions will provide adequate maintenance for those who are involuntarily out of work. While we are moving toward the new overall structure, we shall retain and increase all the advantages the workers derive from current social legislation.

16. Every Spaniard who is not an invalid is duty-bound to work. The National-Syndicalist State will not have the slightest regard for those who do not fulfill any function but who expect to live like guests at the expense of other people’s efforts.

Land

17. As a matter of urgency we must raise the standard of living in the rural areas, on which Spain will always depend for her food. For this reason, we commit ourselves to the strict implementation of an economic and social reform of agriculture.

18. As part of our economic reform, we shall strengthen agricultural production by means of the following measures:

By guaranteeing all farmers an adequate minimum price for their produce;

By seeing to it that much of what is nowadays absorbed by the cities in payment for their intellectual and commercial services is returned to the land, in order to endow rural areas sufficiently;

By organizing a real system of national agricultural credit that will lend farmers money at low rates of interest, thereby guaranteeing their possessions and harvests and freeing them from usury and patronage;

By spreading education pertaining to matters of agriculture and animal husbandry;

By rationalizing production according to the suitability of the land and the outlets available for its products;

By promoting a protectionist tariff policy covering agriculture and the raising of cattle;

By speeding up the construction of a hydraulic network;

By rationalizing landholdings in order to eliminate both vast estates that are not fully exploited and smallholdings that are uneconomic by reason of their low yield.

19. We shall achieve a social organization of agriculture by means of the following measures:

By redistributing once again all the arable land to promote family holdings and by giving farmers every encouragement to join the union;

By rescuing from their present poverty the masses of people who are exhausting themselves scratching on barren soil, and by transferring them to new holdings of arable land.

20. We shall launch a tireless campaign of reforestation and stockbreeding, imposing severe sanctions on whomever obstructs it, and even resorting temporarily to the enforced mobilization of all Spanish youth for the historic task of rebuilding our country’s wealth.

21. The State will have powers to confiscate without compensation any land the ownership of which has been acquired or enjoyed illicitly.

22. A priority of the National-Syndicalist State will be to return to villages their communal property.

National education and religion

23. It is a fundamental mission of the State to impose a rigorous discipline on education that will produce a strong, united, national spirit and fill the souls of future generations with joy and pride in their Fatherland. All men will receive preliminary training to prepare them for the honour of admission to Spain’s national forces.

24. Culture will be organized in such a way that no talent will be lost for lack of finance. All those who are deserving will have easy access even to higher education.

25. Our Movement integrates the Catholic spirit, which has been traditionally glorious and predominant in Spain, into the reconstruction of the nation. Church and State will come to an agreement on the areas of their respective powers, but any interference from the Church or any activity likely to undermine the dignity of the State or the integrity of the nation will not be tolerated.

National revolution

26. The Falange Española Tradicionalista y de las JONS demands a new order, as set forth in the foregoing principles. In the face of the resistance from the present order, it calls for a revolution to implant this new order. Its method of procedure will be direct, bold, and combative. Life signifies the art and science of warfare (milicia) and must be lived with a spirit that is purified by service and sacrifice.