Orwell sets out addressing the Spanish Civil War, where popular thought indicates that General Francisco Franco precipitated it via military coup on the newly elected leftist government (Popular Front). This was most likely in response to the Popular Front making stark policy changes economically, socially, and militarily. Franco himself even received a severe demotion before he decided to stage a coup against them.
Having written this in 1937--a year after the Spanish Civil War had begun--Orwell witnessed the unlikely partnership between the workers and the bourgeois against Fascism--Franco's method of governing. Fascism by nature is militaristic and "ultranationalistic," striving for revolution and asserting that stronger nations have the right to overtake weaker ones. It preaches a classless society, but it's focus is generating a strong and powerful national identity, so it inherently holds focus beyond its own borders, rather than within. Hence the unlikely partnership of Spain's lower and middle class, but the problem with that partnership is that (on page 68), "for even when the worker and the bourgeois are both fighting against Fascism, they are not fighting for the same things; the bourgeois is fighting for bourgeois democracy, i.e., capitalism, the worker, in so far as he understands the issue, for Socialism." The bourgeois would traipse around as workers, but when the power tilted in their favor, they "came out of hiding and the old division of society into rich and poor reappeared, not much modified." (p.69) The biggest difference between Socialism and Fascism is that the former is based in the government caring for the people because it's believed it can do a better job than individuals, and the latter is so militaristic that select "private" businesses are unified with the state to better serve it. This is why dictatorships are inherently corrupt.
To bring this up to speed, Orwell indicates that Franco is thus a counter-revolutionary, because the leftist government regime change was the initial revolution. (Prior to the leftist Popular Front, the right-wing Falange Party had control, which was banned a month after the Popular Front won the election). He then states on page 70, "that the real struggle in Spain, on the Government side, has been between revolution and counter-revolution; that the Government, though anxious enough to avoid being beaten by Franco, has been even more anxious to undo the [Leftist] revolutionary changes with which the outbreak of war was accompanied." Accompanied. Popular thought is that General Francisco Franco caused the civil war, but Orwell asserts that the government was more anxious to undo the Leftist regime changes than to topple Fascism.
He's not a conspiracy theorist due to the fact that he was literally in Spain for three months at the time, and thereby learned of the coercive measures placed on the passage of information about the revolution and counter-revolution. Page 73: "All that I have said in this article would seem entirely commonplace in Spain, or even in France. Yet in England, in spite of the intense interest the Spanish war has aroused, there are very few people who have even heard of the enormous struggle that is going on behind the Government lines. Of course, this is no accident. There has been a quite deliberate conspiracy (I could give detailed instances) to prevent the Spanish situation from being understood. People who ought to know better have lent themselves to the deception on the ground that if you tell the truth about Spain it will be used as Fascist propaganda." So even though the revolution was Communistic, later attacked by Fascism, the entire span of events took on a Fascistic shield through intentionally hiding its status.
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