restricted access Fear and Progress: Ordinary Lives in Franco's Spain, 1939-1975 (review)
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Fear and Progress: Ordinary Lives in Franco's Spain, 1939-1975. By Antonio Cazorla Sánchez (Hoboken: Wiley-Blackwell, 2010, xii plus 279 pp. $34.95).

This volume opens with the author's moving summary of his childhood as a member of a family of nine, whose parents were illiterate workers but who wisely protected themselves and their children by avoiding any public or even private political discussions. In his rich social history of the enduring Franco regime, the suppressed nonetheless returns. Cazorla deplores the regime's terrible repression, which eliminated 100,000 to 150,000 persons. Thus, the urban and especially the rural poor were leery of men of "ideas" (i.e. political dissidents) and avoided public protest during most of the Franco period. Furthermore, and not unreasonably, many concluded that hyper-politicization during the Second Republic was responsible for the war and therefore abandoned all political activity. Ironically, this included any serious commitment to the regime's official party, the Falange, which never matched the mobilizing ability of the Nazi or Italian Fascist movements. When collective protest erupted during the early Franco period, it usually expressed concrete, not regime-changing, grievances—the hike of streetcar fares in Barcelona in 1951 or the reduction of coalminers' wages in 1957-58.

The hostility to economic liberalism (identified with "Jewish capitalism"), unenlightened militarism, and a counterproductive autarky were causes of the regime's dismal economic record. At the same time, its supporters—who believed with some justification that Franco had saved their property and religion from the "reds"—profited from its favoritism. Corruption pervaded both the state and the party and produced massive apathy and cynicism among the population. Black marketeering became much more popular and common than any form of political or even religious participation. The Church's quest, even though aided by the most clerical state in Europe, to re-Catholicize the masses was generally [End Page 1239] ineffective during Spain's long 1950s. Nevertheless, well into the 1960s the regime maintained a rural base, consisting of both large and small landowners, who benefited from its toleration of the black market and defense of religion. The poor and modest classes, especially housewives, developed survival networks of buyers and sellers, in which the latter provided micro-credit to consumers for the purchase of basic commodities.

Although Cazorla's portrait of the regime is understandably hostile, he also argues that the long post-civil war period was a time of significant progress or at least change. The massive migrations of the poor from 1950 to 1975 terminated the many centuries of rural domination of Spanish society. In 1950 agricultural sector represented 46 percent of working people; by 1970, only 22 percent. Former peasants sought salaried labor in Spanish and European cities. The female proletariat was particularly exploited as low-wage laborers, maids, and even prostitutes. The hypocritical moral order, which criminalized abortions, was responsible for the annual deaths of thousands of women.

The Spanish "economic miracle," which created widespread prosperity after 1959, "was made possible only by the extraordinary exploitation and sacrifice of ordinary Spaniards" (p. 15). They paid dearly for development through low salaries, unfair taxation, and poor state services, in particular a terrible or often nonexistent system of public education. Wage earners exploited themselves by moonlighting. Their children—25 percent of whom never graduated from elementary school—began employment at an early age and therefore sacrificed schooling for salaries. The regime shortsightedly promoted the formation of an ignorant workforce suitable for only low-skilled jobs. The newly urbanized families lodged precariously in makeshift housing on the outskirts of cities, where, despite wretched conditions, neighborhoods with some social and even political cohesion formed.

Although public health was generally mediocre, prenatal care improved and infant mortality fell. The originally rural-based and culturally reactionary regime transformed society and laid the basis for a secular, urban, and consumerist modernity. Commodities—such as tobacco, cinema, radio, automobiles and, finally, television—appealed to both sexes. Nevertheless, inequalities between the wealthy and the poor and between rich and depressed regions supposedly expanded. So did political discontent by the end of the dictatorship when students, Catalan and Basque nationalists, and militant workers...