The Spanish Civil was unlike the American Civil War because the Republicans who battled the Fascist Nationalists consisted of a myriad political affiliations ranging from liberals to conservatives to revolutionary anarchists. In America, is just the Union against the Confederacy, with no foreign help. Both sides of the Spanish Civil War enlisted help from other nations, which in my opinion evokes the name "Spanish Implosive War," but that's neither here nor there.
The Spanish Republican militias brought different levels of discipline and social cues, derived from their habits and political affiliations. Militias are undisciplined because they are amateurs by definition and therefore aren't proficient at dispensing violence. In short, their lack of discipline manifests behaviorally. Page 85: "At the beginning, when everyone was full of enthusiasm, inter-party rivalry was perhaps not a bad thing--this impression at least I derived from those who were in the earlier fighting when Sietamo etc. were taken. But when the militias were dwindling as against the Popular Army the effect was to make every party anxious to keep its strength up at no matter what cost." The heads of the militia contrived anxiety and passed that onto the soldiers because without that anxiety, they became lax in output and purpose. For this reason, the soldiers weren't granted leave very often because many of them never returned. They either just went home, or collected back-pay before they took leave, simply to join another organization which apparently served them better. A militiaman's politics were succinctly tied to his economics, which is a mentality absent from the professional soldier, which by definition were the Fascists. After all, Fascism is based in military strength and domination, and although they still had their behavioral inefficiencies, since their reward system was power-based and thus, addictive, the Fascists (and any power-monger, actually) didn't stray far. (Not all professional soldiers are power-based in this sense, but professional soldiers across the board are discouraged from linking personal economic gain to their performance, since it makes for a fickle, unprincipled soldier.)
Despite the militia's stark difference in point of view from the Fascists, they had situational similarities. In war, opposing soldiers often hold a mutual respect due to the severity of their shared situation. Being on the front lines means you're the first to kill, yet also the first to die, which applies no matter the chosen political affiliation, or whether you're there by will or by conscription. Page 87: "As to treachery, fraternisation, etc., there were just enough rumors about this to suggest that such things happened occasionally, and in fact they are inevitable in civil war. There were vague rumours that at some time pre-arranged truces had been held in no man's land for exchange of newspapers."
War is an abstract concept that looks clean on paper, but in reality affects the participants in a very raw, primitive way. How you fight in war doesn't necessarily reflect the reason you're fighting it in the first place. To quote Aldous Huxley: "The surest way to work up a crusade in favor of some good cause is to promise people they will have a chance of maltreating someone."
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