Chapo Trap House - 784 Teaser - The Burning of the Convents

Episode Date: November 23, 2023

Matt begins his series on the Spanish Civil War with the wave of anti-clerical violence that engulfed the nation at the beginning of the 2nd Spanish Republic Subscribe today for access to the full ep...isode and all premium episodes!

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Starting point is 00:00:00 On the hot afternoon of May 10th, 1931, some army officers grieving the end of the rain of their lately-deposed king met in a clubhouse in Spanish capital of Madrid and took to drink. They also took to song, playing the royal march on phonographs, opening their windows, and blasting it out into the street. Passers-by, typical of a Medrialeanos whose family's own no land and swore no oath of loyalty to the king, were still giddy with the arrival of the second Spanish Republic. The Republic promised a relief to the dire circumstances of their lives, as exhausted laborers, or downtrodden clerks, or henpecked waiters,
Starting point is 00:00:48 a promise to dignify labor with recompense, and banish the faint whispers of a hunger that never quite left them. That bellowing royal march was a hot-y reply for the forces of traditional order that none of these promises would be kept. The army packed with monarchist officers would see to that. In the days heaped fighting broke out between the mid-realinos and the army officers, the common people of the city against the armed emissaries of the landowners of the country. Soon the violence spread across the city is the people of that city mobilized to strike against the enemies. The news of the riot shot through fresh veins of communication infrastructure to cities
Starting point is 00:01:28 and even villages across the Spanish countryside. Fires alighted in thousands of ready hearts. They were out to assert themselves against the one institution whose injustice and oppression transcended geographic region or sector of employment. An institution that unlike the buildings of the government was largely left unguarded. So crowds gathered at the churches and confints that dominated the culture of Spain,
Starting point is 00:01:51 where gods, spokesmen, consecrated as holy, they're on ending suffering. Now most city dwellers in the poor of the villages, who had not inherited a trade from their artisan forebears, were the children of peasants who'd been driven from the land into wage labor on farms or cities. These were the children who had made the terrible journey into the unknown. They had encountered a world starkly different from their lives in the villages, and from this new angle, the eternal truths of the church were exposed as the lies of an antichrist who worked to keep them in chains.
Starting point is 00:02:25 Contempt for the church was not constrained to the laboring class, either. For the more educated professionals of the city, the church stood for medieval superstition that lay like a yoke around the neck of Spain. Whatever the source of disgust, the newly established republic provided a political outlet for generations of visceral hatred
Starting point is 00:02:42 for the symbols, infrastructure, and above all personnel of the Catholic Church. So in the next two days, over 200 churches, convents, and religious buildings were burned in cities and villages across southern Spain. The crowds burned churches to display their loyalty to the Republic, which represented a path to the establishment of a true faith, a faith in the common people's fitness to rule themselves. They also acted, though, because burning churches was a traditional form of entertainment in Spain, and had been since the 19th century when the authority and credibility of the clerical class with the landless was permanently shattered. Priests were corrupt and cynical creatures of the lords who had cast them off the land. If people were excited, burning down their houses
Starting point is 00:03:25 sent a good message and it was a damn fun time. The church burnings were important for the future of the spoiler alert, short-lived Second Spanish Republic. The introduction of mass democracy to a population suffering deep emissoration and apocalyptic inequality, a population with no prospect of imperial spoils to ease the
Starting point is 00:03:45 pain and provide social purpose, meant that political change was always occurring in the aftermath of spontaneous violence generated by unrestrained class conflict. Other Western European nations had developed strong central authorities, capable of arranging the various carrots and sticks necessary to secure class peace. In capable of competing with those other states for colonial markets, Spain needed to modernize its economy to assert its interests within the world capitalist system. The Republic would survive only if it could build the state capacity to channel the heat radiating off of this class conflict into economic productivity and a way from cycles of ritualistic civic violence.
Starting point is 00:04:27 Unfortunately, the Republic lacked any symbol capable of stretching across Spain's political divide, because the last mystic knot tying the modern Spanish state to the glories of the Spanish empire from the time before the intrusion of capitalism had just been cut. you

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