• Joese Antonio Primo de Rivera

Addressing the Cortes on the Totalitarian State

Updated: 2 days ago

Please allow me, Senores Diputados — and may these first words of mine serve as an apology and as a greeting — allow me to join in a discussion, in which I had no intention of intervening today, in order to rectify, under the same conditions of publicity as those enjoyed previously by the ever appropriate and astute words of Senior Gil Robles, what might seem an ideological indictment of the youth he mentioned, whereof I may perhaps claim to be a part.

Senior Gil Robles has said that a right-wing dictatorship is a bad solution and that a left-wing dictatorship is a bad solution. Well then, it so happens that the members of this youth to which I belong feel that not only dictatorships of the Right and the Left are bad, but that it is bad even to harbor right-wing or left-wing political attitudes. Senior Gil Robles considers that to aspire to an integral, totalitarian and authoritarian state is to deify the state; let me say to Senior Gil Robles that the deification of the state is the exact opposite of what we want.

In our opinion, the conduct of the state, like that of any individual or class, cannot be fully justified at all times unless it adjusts itself constantly to some permanent norm. If anything deifies the state, it is Rousseau's idea that the state, or the custodians of the will to which the state is bound, must always be right; what deifies the state is the belief that the will of the state, as expressed once upon a time by absolute monarchs, and nowadays by popular suffrage, must always be right. Absolute monarchs could be mistaken; popular suffrage can be mistaken; for truth and justice can never be expressed or professed in terms of volition. Justice and truth are permanent categories of reason, and in order to know whether something is right, it is not enough to ask the king — whose will the adherents of absolute monarchy held to be always just; neither is it enough to ask the people — whose will the 'Rousseaunians' hold to be always correct. In order to know whether something is right, we must at every moment weigh up whether our actions and our thoughts correspond to a permanent aspiration. {Hear! Hear!)

That is why the deification of the state is the opposite of what we want. We want the state to be ever an instrument in the service of a historic destiny, in the service of a historic mission of unity; we consider the state to be in good shape when it has faith in such a total historic destiny, when it looks upon the people as an integrality of aspirations, and that is why we do not favor either a left-wing or a right-wing dictatorship, or even the Right or the Left as such. For we understand the people to be precisely that: an integrality of destiny, of effort, of sacrifice and struggle, which we must look upon as a whole, which progresses through history as a whole, and which we must serve as a whole. {Hear! Hear!)