The ‘New Man’ Symposium
Conveners: Jorge Dagnino (de los Andes) & Matthew Feldman (Teesside)
The ‘New Man Symposium’ will examine fascist movements and regimes through the lens of an attempted anthropological revolution. This attempt to create a ‘homo fascistus’ during the fascist epoch is approached via a comparative angle, with presentations by leaders in the field of Fascist Studies. Taking different perspectives and looking at national movements across Europe, as well as in Latin America, it is hoped that this interdisciplinary conference will revive interest in this much neglected topic.
Professor Mary Vincent (Sheffield) – ‘Half-monk, half-warrior’: the New Man in Spain
José Antonio Primo de Rivera’s famous assertion that Spain’s Falangists were ‘half monks and half soldiers’, has often been taken as the essence of Spanish fascism, exemplifying the rather hybrid nature of this religiously inflected brand of fascism. This was most apparent during the early years of the Francoist victory, with the party conceived as both militia and military order, the blue shirt both uniform and habit, combining ‘our military basis’ with ‘our religious essence’ (Permartín 1941: 43-4). This paper will explore this claim to ascetic masculinity, looking at its contradictions—the Falangist struck a much more sexual pose than any monk—as well as its imaginative power. One particular focus will be the notion of hierarchies, which were firmly embedded in Falangist structures with various ranks of jefes as well as an overarching notion of comradeship. However, hierarchies form a particular point for the intersection of different discourses within Spanish fascism: Falangism, like other generic fascisms inverted age hierarchies but reinforced gender ones; the army, under whose discipline Falangists fought the civil war, asserted hierarchies of seniority and experience; ordination provided the basis for the strongly hierarchical orders of the Catholic Church. Hierarchies—strongly contrasted to the egalitarian chaos and disorder of the ‘Red’ zone during the Civil War— thus formed a common currency on the Francoist right though they were also a point of difference. This became most apparent as the Francoist regime moved from victory to consolidation and the fascist moment of the ‘first Francoism’ evolved into the transitional discourse of National Catholicism. Franco’s is the only form of fascism to survive the Second World War and was in this new, post war context of National Catholicism that the Falangists’ new fascist man grew up.