The Federal Republic in Spain: Pi Y Margall and the Federal Republican Movement, 1868-74

By C. A. M. Hennessy | Go to book overview

4
Federal Republican Ideology

THE remarkably quick growth of the federal republican idea was due mainly to the efficient propaganda of a handful of publicists, especially Garrido, Orense, and Castelar, who, exploiting the disillusion of October, popularized federalism as the solution to endemic misgovernment.1 The junta tradition, the stirring of regional aspirations, and the absence of an obvious successor to Isabella, assured them of wide support but, in a country where only 30 per cent. were literate and with a low level of political consciousness, their efficacy was due more to their playing on popular passions and prejudices than to constructive policies and it was only in the course of debates in the Cortes, in press polemics, and in club discussions that clearer ideas were formulated. Even so, republicanism never represented a homogeneous and coherent body of doctrine, but incorporated all the various strivings which had been frustrated by earlier misgovernment. A few basic concepts were accepted by the vast majority of Spanish republicans but there was also a mass of ancillary aims and ambitions which tended to confuse the main issues and to involve republicanism in a series of contradictions which it never succeeded in resolving. These aims stemmed from their leaders' preconceptions about the nature of federal republicanism and if an analysis of republican ideology concentrates on the intellectuals it is because the leadership of the movement remained largely in their hands and it was from them that Spanish republicanism took its shape.

The basic concepts were simple, consisting of the belief that the 'republic' was the antithesis to monarchy, that it was inseparable

____________________
1
The best account of early republican propaganda is in the articles of Reclus in the Revue politique et littéraire, Nov. 1868 to Jan. 1869. Cf. Lauser, Geschichte Spaniens, i. 83 et seq. Lauser was the Madrid correspondent of the Neue Freie Presse; cf. also his Aus Spaniens Gegenwart, Leipzig, 1872.

-73-

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