Analogies for Our Time – The Spanish Civil War

Many analogies exist, in history and in literature, for our straining efforts to account for our inverted times. Our instincts are to obey our laws, trust our institutions, have faith in our leaders. But in these times, fealty to our laws, institutions, and leaders risks our destruction as a nation, if not as a species.
We already know about The Handmaid’s Tale. We know about 1984 and other dystopian literature. We should consider The Caine Mutiny. But perhaps the historical analogy that best fits our times is the Spanish Civil War, where for complex (and fascinating) reasons, robust, unifying institutions never evolved during the country’s nation-building stage, which both established the fragile terms of the Republican “moment” in the early 1930s, and the savage intensity of the right-wing counter-strike when the war commenced in 1936, with the full force and fury of the traditional landowners, the Catholic Church (the most reactionary in Europe), and the fascist military mobilized to destroy this challenge to their privileges, identity, and existence. \
For two great reads on this topic, check out The Spanish Labyrinth, by Gerald Brenan, the classic analysis of the historical background to the Spanish Civil War, and Adam Hochschild’s recent and fantastic history of Americans in the Spanish Civil War, Spain in Our Hearts.