September 12, 2007
Now What's a Good Liberal To Do?
Interesting little moral conundrum here.
The family of General Francisco Franco is facing legal action for refusing to co-operate with plans to open one of the former dictator's homes to the public.
The fascist leader traditionally escaped the suffocating heat of Madrid in August by decamping to the Pazo de Meirás, a rural estate near the town of Sada in the north-western region of Galicia.
It was "donated" to him by the state at the end of the Spanish Civil War.
I think we know what "donated" means here?
The stand-off has left a sour taste in the mouths of local residents, many of whom descend from those forcibly evicted from their homes when they came under the Generalisimo's control in 1938.
But the regional government now wants the estate recognised as a place of "historical and cultural value", a status that would ensure it is properly looked after and opened to the public at least four days of every month.
The measure was approved by a vote early this year but officials have been denied access consistently by the family, who claim such a move is an invasion of their privacy.
So, from this report we appear to have a legal system in which if you have a nice house the local council can insist that you open it up four days a month and let the general public wander through it.
The conundrum of course is that the latter is clearly illiberal. But then so was the original taking of the property. But, then again, so have been most of the acquisitions of land and property throughout history. At some point a line needs to be drawn and, OK, yes, he thieved and murdered to get it but it's now 700 years, 300, 50, whatever later, and for society to continue to have property rights at all we've got to ignore that.
So how many years is it?
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This goes back to my theory about democracy and so on re-establishing themselves much quicker after a right-wing dictator goes (to wit, one who does not do mass expropriation or collectivisation) than after a left-wing one goes(who obviously expropriates and collectivises).
In Franco's case, people aren't talking about deaths of thousands of political opponents, that's sort of forgiven and forgotten (nothing is going to bring them back, unfortunately).
But for those local residents who see that house and think "That used to belong to us/our granparents" it still rankles decades later.
So, basically, the Russians, the Zimbabweans and so on will still be bickering over ownership rights for decades and possibly centuries to come. They are f***ed.
Or in the case of the Middle East, hundreds and thousands of years later. They are really f***ed.
Posted by: Mark Wadsworth | Sep 12, 2007 10:02:42 AM
In answer to your question, in England it is after twelve years of 'adverse possession'.
Posted by: Mark Wadsworth | Sep 12, 2007 10:03:58 AM
"So, basically, the Russians, the Zimbabweans and so on."
Yugoslavia particularly springs to mind.
Posted by: Kay Tie | Sep 12, 2007 12:00:53 PM
"In Franco's case, people aren't talking about deaths of thousands of political opponents, that's sort of forgiven and forgotten."
Forgiven and forgotten in Galicia? Really? I think you'll find (a lot of) the locals might not agree.
Fwiw, I think "within living memory" is as precise a guide as you can get. Local boy Franco's extermination and exploitation of his own neighbours falls clearly within that category.
Posted by: Stephen Tall | Sep 12, 2007 2:45:59 PM
So, basically, the Russians, the Zimbabweans and so on will still be bickering over ownership rights for decades and possibly centuries to come.
The Russians still think everything is owned by the government. A lot of them think it should be.
Posted by: Tim Newman | Sep 13, 2007 2:30:30 AM