Monday, 2 October 2017

More last words

The dying Duke of Valencia, a 19th-century Spanish prime minister, was asked whether he wanted to forgive his enemies. "I have no enemies," he said. "I killed them all."

General Franco did much the same thing. Count Ciano, the Italian Foreign Minister, described in his diary their meeting in Franco's study, while the Caudillo continued to sign a large pile of death warrants. Occasionally, he would ask his secretary which party the condemned man belonged to and, if it was one he particularly disliked, he wrote on the warrant 'garrote'. Ciano said, 'I can come back later if you are busy' but Franco replied, 'Oh no. It's just routine stuff'.

I think this one anecdote tells you all you need to know about the Generalissimo, whose face would turn up in ones change as an unwelcome surprise roughly every year or so in my childhood. Pesetas were almost exactly the same size as shillings and sometimes were passed on by mistake. Eheu fugaces labuntur anni.

I suppose it is no consolation to the families of the people he killed but unusually for a dictator he had a good sense of humour. Strangers were treated to jokes, his intimates not so often.
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  1. Both sides killed as many civilians as they could...Franco perhaps 200,000, the left perhaps 50,000. If the left had won who knows how many they would have killed. David

  2. On the other side were the people who went on to rule Eastern Europe after the war. Petre Roman's father Walter fought for the reds and our own Jack Jones a KGB agent.

  3. "He did some things I like - for example abolishing divorce."

    You have never married, have you? If you had I think you would appreciate this possibility.

    You had some posts on John Stuart Mill. One of the ideas in "On Liberty" is that one does not have the right to freely take some decision that restricts future choices. The example he gives is selling oneself into slavery. I think that marriage without the possibility of divorce is a typical example of unnecessarily restricting future choices. Even the Old Testament (reluctantly) allows divorce. The Romans had it too, and not only during their decadent phase. One size doesn't fit all and to impose that one size on others is cruel. As you quoted Reagan: the government's job is not to run people's lives.

  4. I repost this with spelling mistake corrected.

    Saying Franco was better than the Stalinists, with many caveats, makes you very unpopular. I hope Spain does not come to regret the Caudillo which she might if Muslim immigration continues for a hundred years at the post 1990 rate. He did some things I like - for example abolishing divorce.

  5. Divorce being illegal does not stop people separating and living with other people but, on the other hand, Christianity is about love and therefore freedom, not about force. Though force is sometimes needed.

    1. When you say that Christianity is about love I cannot help thinking about the excuse the leftist Western intelligentsia find for communism: that it is a good idea but that its implementation had nothing to do with the idea, that it is a gross pervertion of the pure and correct idea. (It's rather suspicious that the idea could not have been correctly implemented anywhere.) I suppose Christianity is the same. It's about love, forgiveness, turning the other cheek, selling everything and following Jesus, renouncing material wealth in this world and staking everything for the afterworld, the good Samaritan, washing the feet of the poor, cutting your cloak as St Martin, etc. You can't fight nature. (Though Jesus, the only one, has claimed he had. John 16:33.)

    2. Do you seriously think that it is better to separate and live with other people and stay married than to have a clean cut, than to have the de jure situation correspond to the de facto one? (In any case, assuming we stayed in the Christian framework, one would commit a sin.) Amicus Plato sed magis amica veritas.

    3. The question of marriage aside, your understanding of Christian love is badly wanting I think. The way I understand it, far from Christ to impose anything on anyone as Communism or other religions do. His main theme is that all moral attitudes and subsequent actions have to come from the conscience, from the soul, and not from duty or imposition. You talk about material acts, Jesus talked about conscience.
      In rejecting Christianity, it is the soul that is lost. What remains is just empty rhetoric.

  6. The fact is that Franco did NOT kill all his enemies, which is why their descendants are intent on the Catalan referendum. Leaving aside the abnormal conditions of the Civil War, Spain was a free country whose borders were open in both directions. The comparison with Stalin is absurd. Henry