book review – The Last Crusade (Spanish Civil War)
The impulse came to me during breakfast today to write a short essay about this book and its subject matter. This impulse is delaying work on another upcoming essay on a different topic.
The Last Crusade, written by Warren Carroll (copyright 1996, published by Christendom Press, Front Royal, Virginia (USA), paperback, 218 pages plus bibliography and index).
I read this book in the (northern hemisphere) summer of 2010. (Regards to our readers in Australia.)
The book’s cover has changed somewhat since the edition I have. (You can read more reviews of it on Amazon.com if you are interested. I have not read the reviews recently, but no doubt you can read more comprehensive reviews for this book than I am offering here.)
The book’s title derives from the fact that the Spanish communists and anarchists were fighting to destroy Spain’s Christian (Catholic) culture and society.
Dr. Carroll is a Catholic historian who has written extensively on communism. He is one of the very few writers to cover the Spanish Civil War both comprehensively and objectively. It is difficult to find accounts of the Spanish Civil War that are not written by authors possessing a bias in favor of “the Republic”, meaning the communists and anarchists. At least this is true for accounts written in English. Many idealistic, young Americans went to Spain in the late 1930s and fought on the side of the communists. Their accounts are flawed because they are biased.
General Franco (1892 – 1975), whose forces eventually defeated the revolutionaries, has been a favorite target for ridicule by the Left since the 1930s. Yet, as Carroll points out in his book, during the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s, the Spanish were freer to criticize their government in the open air cafes of Madrid and other Spanish cities than the citizens of Moscow, Warsaw, Beijing (Peking) or East Berlin were. Franco may have been strict out of necessity, but he was not a totalitarian.
What I want to focus briefly on is the terrible atrocities committed by the communists and anarchists during the fighting. This is what makes Carroll’s book important. He brings these atrocities out in the open and does not downplay or ignore them. (And, we all know what happens when the communists win and consolidate their hold on power within a country. Estimates vary, but many (tens of) millions of people are classed as “counter-revolutionaries” and killed. Others, in the millions, die in failed experiments in collectivized agriculture (as in the “Great Leap Forward” in the late 1950s in Mao’s China), or in manmade famines (as in the Ukraine in 1932 -1933).)
In the very violent days of 1936 when anarchy reigned in Madrid and other Spanish cities, priests and nuns were murdered and in some very gruesome ways. We will avoid the grisly details of many of these murders. But, such outrages had to be driven by powerful emotions of the murderers. Yes, the revolutionaries were giving vent to their hatred of any and all who represented the old order, and who opposed their drive to power. As well, many common Spanish people were killed by the anarchists. The blood lust fed on itself and became an orgy of wanton killing. There were no trials, no due process, no rule of law. Having read accounts of similar outrageous atrocities committed in France during the French Revolution (early to mid 1790s), that similar actions occurred in Spain did not totally surprise me. (Similar crimes were committed against the small Christian minority in China in the early 1950s with Mao’s approval. And, Tibetan lamas and monks were killed in Tibet in this same time period.)
That is what I want to emphasize about this book. It is one of the few in existence (in English) that unmasks and exposes the propaganda so many of us have been fed that the Republic (read the communists and anarchists) was a positive thing, was bringing Spain out of medieval times and into the modern world. You are not helping people and improving their lot by killing them or taking their rights away as you install an all-powerful state.
I know of no decent person that defends the Left and its methods or goals in the year 2013. Another way of saying this is that any who do defend the Left are not decent human beings. The American, David Horowitz, a former Leftist himself, in some of his writings tells of idealistic Leftists who were trying to bring about a utopia or paradise on Earth, and they believed the ends (such lofty, noble ends!) justified the terrible means used. His view of the Leftists seems to take on religious overtones. I reject this quasi apologia for the Left and its heinous crimes against humanity. But, I do agree that the Leftist killers were fanatics, and their Marxian ideology did assume for them the place of a not-to-be-questioned dogmatic religion.
And, truth be told, these opportunistic revolutionaries use this “workers’ utopia” nonsense as a vehicle to gain power as this nonsense seduces many naive, unrealistic and disaffected people in a society. The true “opiate of the masses” was not authentic religion (which speaks to the spiritual dimension and spiritual longings in human beings), but rather this fairy tale belief in a paradise on Earth. As some have said before, “Nirvana is not of this world.”
Thanks for reading.