The Spanish Civil War: A Microcosm of the Polarization of European Politics

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To what extent did the Spanish Civil War represent a microcosm of the polarization of European politics between the Right and the Left? The Spanish Civil War is the name given to the struggle between loyalist and nationalist Spain for dominance in which the nationalists won and suppressed the country for the following thirty nine years. However, because of the larger political climate that the Spanish Civil War occurred in, it is impossible to view the war as a phenomenon contained within one nation. Despite its obvious domestic orientation as a civil war it was a major international conflict. The reason for this, I would maintain, is the political dogma which surrounded the war. This essay takes the form of a political survey of the…show more content…
It is quite understandable that contemporaries, whatever their sympathies, should have viewed the Spanish Civil War in such cosmic terms. I will now examine in some detail, first the European, and then, the Spanish context, into which the civil war was born to see why such a conclusion might be drawn. In 1936, when Spain collapsed into its long and bloody civil war, the issues and underlying tensions in the European state system were becoming increasingly obvious and pressing. Long before the birth of the Spanish civil war, Europe, due to the `balance of power' arrangement held between the continents main power brokers, was in a state of diplomatic congeniality. Inefficient governments with no desire for reform reigned supreme under this system. However this period of political stagnation was blown asunder by the `Great War'. Following years of death and destruction and an apparent inability to recover fully, people began to question their governments and call for reform. These popular calls for reform gave birth to a number of radical groups and seen an explosion in their numbers as they resolved to provide strong rule. Dictatorships and political extremes sprouted throughout Europe. These include groups on both sides of the political divide; in Germany the Nazi Party, in Italy the fascists, in Russia the communists. Smaller instances of both can also be seen to have

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