Many people think that libertarianism was brought forth in the United States (US). Contrary to European cases, US Constitution is based in natural law and restrains of government interventions. At the same time, Southern Confederates did believe in political decentralization against Abraham Lincoln’s unionist and centralist temptations.
Nevertheless at the other side of Atlantic Ocean there are some quite unknown contributions in defense of liberty and human dignity. The School of Salamanca was a powerful source of inspiration for the development of classical liberal and libertarian theories and many Austrian School principles are based on Scholastics works.
But Scholastics’ theories are not the only contributions to the defense of liberty. Part of Spanish pro-freedom movement finds some common points with Carlism—a traditionalist movement that supported the Ancient Regime and struggled against Isabella II supporters who sided with French Revolution principles and created the “Spanish State”.
It is said that there is a connection between Carlism and Falangism—a collectivist ideology that supports a strong central planning based on nationalism criteria but who do not share Marxist internationalism. In light of that, why did Francisco Franco promote such a merger of both movements?
The dictator was anti-politics to the extent that he despised the existence of political parties. So he released a decree to merge Comunión Tradicionalista (Carlist faction) and Falange into a single party named Falange Española Tradicionalista y de las Juntas de Ofensiva Nacional Sindicalista. The rest of parties that rose up against the left-wing in the Civil War became illegal.
However many Carlists refused to join that “unification”. According to Comunión Tradicionalista Carlista (CTC), “unification decree was a top-down operation that did not count on Communion board”. Besides it is considered as the “death sentence of Carlism [because nothing was really unified]”.
Francoism was rather seen as the only convenient option after 1939 under “a transition to the restoration of traditional institutions in a Catholic Monarchy”. They also regretted that the regime was “opposed to traditionalist restoration”, being really committed to “liberal tradition”. It should be noted that Carlists link liberalism with progressivism, socialism, and Marxism.
Right after that brief contextual description, we will address those common points that are shared by traditionalists and libertarians both. Currently there are three Carlist factions: Comunión Tradicionalista, inspired by sedevacantism, Partido Carlista, a Marxist deviation, and CTC, more akin to Catholic social teaching.
We will analyze some points of CTC political program below.
When it comes to religion, they stress that “laws and government acts should be subject to Christian and natural law principles that Catholic Church thought, establishing political and social structures that may serve for common good by enabling man to achieve their last supernatural ends”. We can understand it as an opposition to positive law trend.
Regarding political decentralization, they support so-called “fueros”—regional divisions that have fiscal and somehow legal autonomy. Moreover they consider “State political sovereignty should respect traditionalist principle of social sovereignty that equates to […] subsidiarity principle and intermediate bodies. We should advocate for more society and less government”.
When it comes to family, they claim that the government should reduce the tax burden, promote the birth rate and make easier for them the development of natural functions. There is also an opposition to Social Security and a bit of “women’s own dignity, as worker mother, without making political use of them nor falling into ideological prejudices”.
On education, they are fully opposed to government intervention in education. “It is necessary to achieve the liberty of education, what implies the creation of centers, the establishing of curricula and the expedition of academic titles […] The State should not behave as a teacher of moral values”.
On subsidies, they favor donations subject to tax deductions. Also they consider that government funding of trade unions—considered as “transmission bands of political parties”—favors corruption. Marxist workers’ platforms concern them because they promote division and confrontation.
Moreover they consider that “the current healthcare system is an inheritor of national syndicalism, what charges it with an excessive government intervention” According to them “the assistance to ill people and health promotion should correspond mainly to social bodies (foundations, cooperatives, insurance companies…)”.
On immigration, they recognize “every man has the right to emigrate, though welcoming societies do have also the right to decide whether accept or reject him”. By the way, they consider “Muslims have to subordinate to Christian culture and Spanish legislation” though there is a respect of religious freedom.
Regarding the European Union (EU), they “[denounce] the current pro-EU ideology and overwhelming bureaucracy from Brussels because of high number of public servants and their exaggerated emoluments”. At the same time, they claim the return to Christian roots and the promotion of “Hispanic brotherhood”.
In relation to economics, it should be noted that CTC supports a “free economy, regulated by moral laws, where civil power recognizes and promotes the freedom of economic agents as in the access of economic agents to individual or communal property”. Besides they warn about the “lack of metallic support of money that is emitted by central banks”.
Spanish Traditionalism and Libertarianism
Once we have highlighted part of CTC political program, we may appreciate that they share the opposition to “big government” and intrusion in social spheres and family competences with right-wing libertarianism, which supports Western Christian values in opposition to objectivism and the fact of being “useful idiot” of cultural Marxists.
Libertarians such as Lew Rockwell and Murray Rothbard defend the importance of tradition and family in a freer society. However, they also agree with paleo-conservatives to the extent that they advocate for temporary protectionist measures (foreign trade) and do not ask for the abolition of the State as we know it.
To conclude, Spanish traditionalism shares many common points with libertarianism and paleo-conservatism. Many principles are inspiring in order to achieve a freer society following a moral blueprint. Opposition to relativism and subsidiarity are necessary for a freer and flourishing society that respects human dignity and is subject to Christian values.
By the way, it should be noted that Austrian intellectual Erik Von Kuehnelt-Leddihn said -in Leftism Revisited- that the real right-wingers from Spain were carlists because of support towards localism and decentralization. He also reminded that Falangists were collectivists and socialists.