I am disappointed to see that the Tradinistas are getting more press than they warrant, but so it goes with almost anything which is seemingly novel. One (relatively minor) reason I am uncomfortable with what they promote is that it risks injecting even more conceptual confusion into the Catholic landscape than what already exists. A fair number of souls have already identified how their use of the word “socialism” is either incoherent and disingenuous or wrongheaded and pernicious. It doesn’t help that their “platform,” as contained in their manifesto, is riddled with ambiguities and over-broad statements, a fact which has, sadly, caused Shaun Kenney over at Ethika Politika to identify the Tradinistas with the Falangist movement. For those unaware, Falangism was a fascist (or semi-fascist) political movement that emerged in Spain in the 1930s; it stressed a strong Catholic identity while also being vehemently anti-capitalist and anti-liberal. Like most political movements, Falangism fractured as the years went by, with various elements aligning with Franco-style conservatism and others maintaining more radical positions. Even though some Falangists saw themselves as being “above” the Left/Right distinction in politics, it is fair to say that most of their platform was unabashedly far Right.
Why Kenney identifies the Tradinistas as Falangists (or perhaps neo-Falangists) is beyond me. Perhaps he wanted to score some easy polemical points. While Kenney does draw some comparisons between the Tradinista “Manifesto” and the Falangist “26 Point Program,” the differences between the two programs are glaring. For instance, while both the Tradinistas and the Falangists speak out against capitalism, the latter went much further.
10. We repudiate the capitalistic system which shows no understanding of the needs of the people, dehumanizes private property, and causes workers to be lumped together in a shapeless, miserable mass of people who are filled with desperation. Our spiritual and national conception of life also repudiates Marxism. We shall redirect the impetuousness of those working classes who today are led astray by Marxism, and we shall seek to bring them into direct participation in fulfilling the great task of the national state.
The Tradinistas, by their own admission, are Marxist in orientation; they would never think of rejecting their sage (even if they don’t understand him). Moreover, the Falangist vision was bound up with a strong adherence to Catholicism (albeit perhaps a somewhat utilitarian adherence); it never contemplated aligning with a Left-ideological rejection of “racism, misogyny, homophobia, transphobia, and similar forms of oppression” (Point #11). In fact, the Falangists strongly rejected homosexuality and other forms of moral degeneracy while, at times, embracing a racialist view of humanity (though some have argued against this). Certainly the Falangists desired a privileged place for Spain in world affairs and had no use for any form of multiculturalism, internationalism, or social relativism.
As for the rest of Kenney’s article, it’s alright. More work could have been done, however, to distinguish between the two dominant uses of the word “integralist”: (1) The false usage associated with the “new theology” and neo-Modernism (which the Tradinistas may, or may not, accept); and (2) The proper usage associated with not just the Catholic social magisterium of the 19th and early 20th centuries, but the Church’s social tradition as a whole. (Whether or not the Falangists represented an authentic form of integralism is a matter I’m leaving to the side; it’s probably safest to say that they had integralist leanings.) I disagree with Kennedy’s point that the Second Vatican Council didn’t get it wrong with respect to religious liberty and his further point that the Tradinistas, at their core, are against Dignitatis Humanae. If anything, the ambiguous statements contained in Point #2 of their manifesto suggests a certain degree of religious indifferentism in the Tradinista outlook. Certainly the Falangists could never have accepted that.