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).