Date of Award

Fall 2020

Degree Type

Open Access Dissertation

Degree Name

History and Archival Studies, MA

Program

School of Arts and Humanities

Advisor/Supervisor/Committee Chair

Matthew Bowman

Dissertation or Thesis Committee Member

Joshua Goode

Terms of Use & License Information

Terms of Use for work posted in Scholarship@Claremont.

Rights Information

© Copyright Sean Patrick Buchanan, 2020

Abstract

In the postwar period in the United States, conservative political ideology shifted its primary focus from isolationism and New Deal opposition to strict anti-communism. The conservatism of the 1920s through the 1940s, under the leadership of Robert Taft, would give way to a more modern conservatism influenced by a variety of Catholic and anti-communist intellectuals. As a result of the effort to demonstrate fervent anti-communist sentiments, modern conservatives highlighted and supported anti-communist leaders and figures across the US and worldwide. One particular anti-communist leader that American conservatives openly supported was the Spanish dictator Francisco Franco.

The new catholic conservatives identified Franco as a counterrevolutionary, firm in his convictions and devout in his Catholic faith, who rescued Spain from the clutches of communism, atheism, and the left. Against this backdrop, the new conservatives in the US likewise fashioned themselves as morally just arbiters of the true soul and identity of the United States, who would resist any vestiges of Marxist or socialist strongholds among the US political elite.

In this essay, I argue that Franco was utilized as a symbolic figure for the American conservative movement to underscore key themes of modern conservatism and instill them into American politics. They highlighted Franco as a hero of Western Civilization, a religiously significant figure, and an anti-communist bulwark. In doing so, they sought to distinguish themselves from the American left, whom they believed held significant influence in American media and academia. To show this, I will examine a variety of articles published by National Review (hereafter NR) under the influence of founding editor William F. Buckley Jr. that described Franco and the Spanish Civil War. Significantly, the effort to portray Franco in this manner in NR imported Francoist propaganda and historiography of the Spanish Civil War and revealed the extent to which American conservatives interpreted the Spanish Civil War in much the same way as Franco; as a religious crusade.

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