The consistent points in Francoism included above all authoritarianism, nationalism and anti-Freemasonry; some authors also quote integralism. All in all, Francoism showed a frontal rejection of Communism, Socialism and Anarchism. Although Franco and Spain under his rule adopted some trappings of fascism, he, and Spain under his rule, are not generally considered to be fascist; among the distinctions, fascism entails a revolutionary aim to transform society, where Franco and Franco’s Spain did not seek to do so, and, to the contrary, although authoritarian, were conservative and traditional.
Stanley Payne, the preeminent scholar on fascism and Spain notes: “scarcely any of the serious historians and analysts of Franco consider the generalissimo to be a core fascist.” According to historian Walter Laqueur “during the civil war, Spanish fascists were forced to subordinate their activities to the nationalist cause. At the helm were military leaders such as General Francisco Franco, who were conservatives in all essential respects. When the civil war ended, Franco was so deeply entrenched that the Falange stood no chance; in this strongly authoritarian regime, there was no room for political opposition. The fascists became junior partners in the government and, as such, they had to accept responsibility for the regime’s policy without being able to shape it substantially”.
Unlike other ideological-based regimes’ parties, such as the Italian National Fascist Party and the German Nazi Party, the FET-JONS were relatively heterogeneous instead of being an ideological monolith. Because of this, the Spanish State is generally considered to be authoritarian rather than fascist; among the distinctions, fascism entails a revolutionary aim to transform society, where Franco did not seek to do so, and, to the contrary, although authoritarian, were conservative and traditional. After World War II, the Falange opposed freer capital markets, but the ultimately prevailing technocrats, many of whom were linked with Opus Dei, eshewed syndicalist economics and favored increased competition as a means of achieving rapid economic growth and integration with wider Europe which meant greater democracy.
While it included fascist elements, the Spanish State was very authoritarian: non-government trade unions and all political opponents across the political spectrum were either suppressed or tightly controlled by all means, including violent police repression. Most country towns and rural areas were patrolled by pairs of Guardia Civil, a military police for civilians, which functioned as his chief means of social control. Larger cities, and capitals, were mostly under the heavily-armed Policía Armada, commonly called grises.
Members of the oppressed ranged from trade unions to communist and anarchist organizations to liberal democrats and Catalan or Basque separatists. The Confederación Nacional del Trabajo (CNT) and the Unión General de Trabajadores (UGT) trade-unions were outlawed, and replaced in 1940 by the corporatist Sindicato Vertical. The PSOE Socialist party and the Esquerra Republicana de Catalunya (ERC) were banned in 1939, while the Communist Party of Spain (PCE) went underground. University students seeking democracy revolted in the late ’60s and early ’70s, which was repressed by the grises. The Basque Nationalist Party (PNV) went into exile, and in 1959, the ETA armed group was created to wage a low-intensity war against Franco. Franco, like others at the time, evidenced a concern about a possible Masonic conspiracy against his regime. Some non-Spanish authors have described it as being an “obsession”.