Interactions between Politics and Literature under the Franco Regime: the Journal Indice between 1951 and 1976 (SUMMARY)

Jeroen Oskam

To a far greater extent than is usual in present scholarship, research on Spanish culture during the Franco dictatorship should take into account its circumstances as created by the regime, and especially its overall submission to government censorship. Censorship was not an isolated phenomenon but formed part of a general policy of physical and intellectual oppresion. Through this oppressive policy the Franco regime sought to achieve its most specific goal: allowing economic development to take place at the same time preventing this from leading to political and social progress.

The system of oppression was based on its contemporary totalitarian examples. Censorial control cannot be interpreted therefore as based upon incidental interventions in otherwise normally developping cultural life; the Francoist oppression aimed at the complete expulsion or destruction of all progressive intellectual heritage and its representatives. This meant that the State not only intervened to correct literary production but also dominated the previous process of socialization. This had a marked effect especially on those generations brought up under Francoism.

The study of journals published during the Franco era cannot be separated from research on these phenomena. First of all, the press that arose in the immediate postwar period was hardly distinguishable from the oppressive system itself. The State financed new publications and prevented the creation of independent ones; the censorship machinery and the newly created press not only shared their sources of inspiration and finances, but also there were striking coincidences between the names that appeared in the journals during the first years under Franco and those belonging to censorial hierarchy.

The ideological reorientation of the Francoist regime after the defeat of the Axis powers in the second World War brought its internal contradictions to the surface. The consolidation of the regime as a result of the outbreak of the cold war made this manifest heterogeneity no longer threatening for the survival of Francoism and gave it a permamnent character. The acceptance of internal conflicts resulted in a more differentiated press, in which little by little dissident opinions would appear. As a result of several journals with a certain degree of independence could be created; though all of these journals were necessarily of a limited circulation, these so-called «breaches of dialogue» had an important function in recovering progressive intellectual traditions.

The existence of these «breaches of dialogue» under a system of cultural oppresiion could only be possible thanks to their great amount of ambivalence. One of the most convincing examples is that of the journal Indice that, after being purchased in 1951 by Juan Fernández Figueroa, an officer on the side of Franco's rebellion and editor of several official publications and State radio, became an organ of dissident Francoism. In its initial period the most outstanding contribution of this journal consisted in publishing texts of authors from the past that under Franco were in disgrace and of intellectuals in exile. The underlying ideal of reconciliation, as well as a certain opportunism partly inevitable under the circumstances, brought about widely divergent reactions: the official Instituto de Cultura Hispánica warned against Indice's relationships with «many decided enemies of Spain», while the anarchosundicalist press in exile considered the journal an instrument in Francoist infiltration policy. This ambivalence would characterize Indice during its entire existence: later on Ibérica, the organ of Spanish exile in New York, would suspect Indice of being related to Opus Dei, but the journal also provoked the fury of right-wing Francoism organized in Fuerza Nueva, because of its contacts with communist Cuba.

The ambivalence of Indice cannot only be explained by the political origins of its director Fernández Figueroa, although his contacts within the censorial system allowed his journal to adopt daring positions in many occasions. The idea of reconciliation and the publication af articles with widely different points of view augmented the journal's ideological undefinibility. However, it is not possible to understand this ambivalence and its evolution without considering them in relation to the arduous process of developping social consciousness under cultural oppression. It was these dialectics that determined the restrictions in progressive consciousness, on one hand, and the changes in the oppressive system, on teh other.

The evolution of Indice cannot be described adequately in the light of its ideological development exclusively, considering the heterogeneity of its contents and , sometimes, ints internal discrepancies. This evolution seems to be determined, rather, by thematic shifts of focus at different moments. Censorship was directed, maybe even more than against critical opinions and currents --effectively stifled during the postwar period by other methods--, against the discussion of those subjects that would lead to a reappearance of such ideas. Economic and social changes, however, forced the press at intervals to broach these new issues. Only after such a thematic broadening could an ideological broadening take place, that would allow critical views on the new items to appear in journals with a limited distribution like Indice.

In its first period, during the first half of the fifties, Indice was part of a movement for «cultural openness». This movement had an anything but subversive character, since it was promoted from within the regime by Joaquín Ruiz-Giménez, Minister of Education, and by prominent falangists like Pedro Laín Entralgo and Antonio Tovar. By admitting influences from abroad, from Spanish exile and form the officially-banned part of Spanish past, this movement hoped to give new impulses to the disconsolate cultural climate of Franco's Spain. At the same time the desire for «openness» reflected a conflict of interests within the social basis of Francoism, in which some middle class sectors began to turn against the pure conservatism of its oligarchical and clerical sectors, that had become dominant since the fall of international fascism.

This internal conflict was at the root, in 1954, of the sequestration of Indice's monographic issue on Pío Baroja because of the supposed anticlericalism of this author. In 1956 the internal struggle resulted in a victory for Francoism's most conservative wing. Several organs of «cultural openness» that had paid attention to the death of the philosopher José Ortega y Gasset fell victim to censorship measures. The two largest ones, Indice and Insula, were temporarily suppressed.

With the reappearance of Indice, in April 1956, a second period begins. While part of the «openness»-movement develops into a political opposition, Indice at first reafforms its loyalty to Francoism. The journal subscribes to the falangist criticism of liberalism's social sterility. The consequent debate on social problems allows a more critical evolution to take place in its younger contributors, who distance themselves through ploemics like «Bourgeoisie and Christianity» and «Freedom or Justice?» from both liberalism and falangism. This would lead the, eventually, to hardly concealed marxist positions, though always in abstract terms like the ones mentioned.

At the end of the fifties, abandonment of economic isolation, the growth of tourism and favourable market conditions begin to stimulate the economic growth. The reflection of these facts in the press was meant to represent them as a political success of the Franco regime. In 1961 we can therefore distinguish the beginning of a new period, during which Indice participates in the discussion about the concrete social situation in Spain, starting from special issues on agrarian reform and the possible entrance of Spain into the European Common Market. The subsequent ideological diversification gives Indice a strongly critical character during the following decade.

The fourth period begins in 1969, at a moment in which the regime has to organize the survival of the dictatorship after Franco's death. The political future of Spain is the main subject of Indice during these years. Criticism of the Francoist status quo from different points of view now gives way to the formulation of a political program, and therefore the heterogeneity of earlier years is replaced by the «neofalangist» standpoint of the journal's management. During its last period Indice defends the conversion of Francoism into a populist regime with a program of economic justice, based upon the maintenance of Francoist institutions.

Although the editorial ideology only partly explains its important role as a «breach of dialogue» , it gives an essential clue for the interpretation of Indice's atypical evolution. In general, the points of view of Fernández Figueroa and related contributors can be defined as «left-wing falangism», a paradoxical term that indicated the emphasis on middle-class protest in this variety of fascism. In many cases «left-wing falangism» was a first stage in the abandonment of Francoism and the evolution towards opposition to dictatorship. In other cases, ties with the regime and Francoist administration would not let this dissident falangism develop any further than into an ambivalent kind of protest. A result of this was the ideological regression of Indice in its last period.

The fact that a journal that was related to the regime could have a progressive function in intellectual life is an ambivalence inherent to cultural oppression. Cultural embankment by the regime and its overflow have to be interpreted as two sides of the same coin: they are the factors that necessarily accompany the revival of social and political consciousness in a situation of oppression. Although there is no doubt that Indice recieved official support at different times, this circumstance does not alter its historical function as a «breach of dialogue». It is important, however, to point out the importance some journals of the Franco era are still having nowadays, particularly on literary criticism. The insertion of this study of Indice in a more global study of the press under Francoism will have to show to which extent some still commonly accepted ideas are rooted in Francoist manipulation.

Interferencias entre política y literatura bajo el franquismo: La revista Indice durante los años 1951-76.
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