Spain - The Ancien Regime

Spain began the 20th century as a monarchy with almost no industry and an agricultural system which kept half of its workers on the edge of starvation. Its army had one general for every hundred ragged soldiers and a vast surplus of incompetent officers. The navy had almost ceased to exist after the defeat of the Spanish-American War. Corruption was so bad that it was commented that "no country stands lower in financial discredit". The great landowners, the government, the omnipresent Catholic Church, the police and the judiciary all formed a neo-feudal hiearchy down to the level of the village.

The rigid attitude of the ancien regime ensured that the Spanish workers became one of the most politically aware working classes in the world. Anarchist ideas flourished, the two huge labour unions, the anarchist CNT and socialist UGT, were founded and had a membership in the millions. From 1900 to 1920 Spain saw numerous turbulent times, with general strikes, lock-outs, strike breakers and more. The police had squads of hired criminals to assist them, and the unions retalitated with hired gunmen of their own. The political system of Old Spain was incapable of adapting. And in 1923, it fell.

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