Theses Doctoral

Technicians of the Spirit: Post-Fascist Technocratic Authoritarianism in Spain, Argentina, and Chile, 1945-1988

Kressel, Daniel Gunnar

The focus of this dissertation is a distinctive post-fascist ideology that emerged during the Cold War era. Developed and first put to practice in Francisco Franco’s Spain during the 1950s and 1960s, this model for a market-oriented dictatorship, which I label Hispanic technocratic-authoritarianism, became a key ideological reference for the dictatorships of Juan Carlos Onganía in Argentina (1966-1970) and Augusto Pinochet in Chile (1973-1988). For its chief designers, this theory of state represented a noble dream of a “post-ideological” society marked by neoliberal economic development, firm social hierarchies, and most importantly, a project of spiritual “perfection.” Rather than a simple mimesis, this study points to a dynamic of constant transatlantic intellectual dialogue between what were, in essence, three attempts to foster an alternative “Hispanic” modernity, within three dissimilar historical settings.
The venture to constitute a reactionary modernity, as a spiritual “third position” that would transcend the antagonistic “materialist” ideologies born at the time of the French Revolution, is as old as modernity itself. The present study explores a prominent case study of these ideological projects, in the Spanish speaking world. My point of departure is that there is a certain lacuna in the historical analysis on Latin America’s far-right ideology during the Cold War. Whereas historiography has fully scrutinized extreme neo-fascist revolutionary movements, military counterrevolutionary states, and populist authoritarianism in the region, there is a dearth of analytic work on the post-fascist technocratic ideologies of the 1960s. My analysis therefore underscores the role of the international Catholic Society Opus Dei as one conspicuous arena for the formulation of the technocratic-authoritarian ideology. Thus, my work accounts for the rise of the “technocrats” as a contingent historical phenomenon that mirrored the economic and cultural contexts of the Cold War era. Consciously setting out to replace what they thought was the failed fascist revolution of the 1930s, the ideologues I analyze formulated what they believed was a more sophisticated method of Catholic modernization - one comprising of a consumerist society protected from the harms of either parliamentarism or rationalism.
Chapter 1 of the dissertation explores how, during the 1950s, Franco’s regime propagated a distinct post-fascist ideology of “Hispanism” via a transnational organization by the name of Instituto de Cultura Hispánica, and how this traditionalist ideology founds if most zealous interlocutors in Argentina and Chile. Chapter 2 hones in on Spain’s novel technocratic-authoritarian ideologies of the 1960s. Designed and implemented by members of the Secular Catholic Organization Opus Dei, this ideology soon became identified with Spain’s 1960s “economic miracle.” Chapter 3 explains how the Francoist ideologies made their way into the Argentine public sphere through two Argentine intellectual affiliations: the Ateneo de la República and the Cuadernos del Sur journal. These groups, I explain, began designing Argentina’s “post-ideological” society during the early 1960s. Chapter 4 explores how the regime of Juan Carlos Onganía (1966-1970) utilized the ideologies of the aforementioned affiliations, as well as several Francoist “development” tactics such as “poles of growth.” Chapter 5 depicts the impact of the Instituto de Cultura Hispánica and the Opus Dei on the Chilean far-right during the late-1960s leading to the regime of Augusto Pinochet. Like Onganía, Pinochet and his ideologues borrowed Francoist political myths for their purposes. Last, Chapter 6 analyzes the decline of the technocratic-authoritarian model. The circumstances of the late 1970s, I suggest, propelled the authoritarian ideologues to abandon the technocratic-authoritarian schemes and seek new forms of civic participation, thereby leading them to initiate unique “protected” democratic transitions.

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More About This Work

Academic Units
Thesis Advisors
Piccato, Pablo A.
Ph.D., Columbia University
Published Here
June 5, 2019