Page 4, 10th November 1944

10th November 1944
Page 4
Page 4, 10th November 1944 — GUILTY CONSCIENCES IN REGARD TO SPAIN
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Locations: Madrid, Washington, Cairo, London

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GUILTY CONSCIENCES IN REGARD TO SPAIN

yvE rather expected the popular

press to devote a good deal of its Monday's space to General Franco's account of his stewardship and his demand for recogni tion in the making of peace. It need hardly be said that the long leaders were not written because Spain or Franco were considered important. They were written for the very simple reason that people in this country—and especially the press — have a guilty conscience about Spain.

The truth is that the Spanish Civil War constituted the most important ideological crisis of our times. It's not a question of suggesting that the Nationalists were all-holy nor that their opponents were all-evii, nor even that the side one took in the war marked out or the goats. The importance of the war lies in the fact that the Spanish Nationalist cause waa not simply a Fascist or a reactionary or a class cause. Yet for purposes of political convenience and in order to enhance the appeal of Marxism it was deliberately turned into something labelled with all the worst epithets from the Left political vocabulary. Even more. the fact that its inspiration was Catholic added to the emotional reaction against it. It was the nasty sort of business wbich leaves a bad taste in the mouths of those who form part of the conspiracy. Now they find themselves impelled, whether in season or out of season, to justify themselves and they cannot keep off

the subject. •

There were, of course, grave shortcomings about the Nationalist movement, just as many of us are disappointed with many aspects of its outcome. In it politics, exaggerated nationalism, chess-feeling. totalitarian ideas, were often subordinated to the Christian inspiration. One should hardly have expected anything else in the political complexities of the modern world. But the important thing is that the Movement did have a positively Catholic inspiration. It was a revolt of genuine elements of a deeply Catholic country against contemporary secularism, and, as such, i was, with all its faults. something unique In modern history. Individuals, groups, societies, even nations outside the main stream like Eire and Portugal have, of course, achieved a much sounder synthesis of Catholic ideas and modern politics and technique. but Spain alone has risen as a nation for the old Christian tradition and fought for It against the world. And that fact alone puts the Spanish Nationalist Movement in a totally different class from Nazism or Fascism.

Franco's Course

IT may be due to an accident of his tory and geography that Nationalist Spain survives to-day, whereas Fascism has gone and Nazism as going, but the fate is significant all the same. General Franco was perfectly justified in maintaining that his country's policy throughout 'the war was consistent with Spain's idealism, though it was probably an error in tactics to try to maintain that Spain is an organic democracy. The latter word, now freely applied to Russia, has come to have so different a meaning that to include Spain within its connotation is bound to cause a smile. Nationalist Spain, an avowed opponent of all Marxism. has succeeded in steering a reasonable course through the conflicting ideologies of the war. Given her frank and uncompromising political ideals there is in fact nothing to account for her refusal to take definite sides with the Axis in the so-called anti-Bolshevik crusade except a deep Catholic realisation that the Axis itself. despite some surface appearances. is

radically anti-Catholic also. Franca

had reason to insist that Spain cannot ally itself with anti-Catholic Powers. But it by no means follows that Spain wishes to throw herself into an antiAxis camp which includes Soviet Russia and which in many tespects tolerates and even encourages a semi-Marxist secularist outlook in strong opposition with all that Spain stands for. And Spain's demand to be recognised as u factor in the making of peace is a modest enough one She has her own legitimate interests to protect and she has the same contribution to make as she made when she fought for the old European Christian tradition as incarnated in a great Catholic country.

We have time and again pointed out the errors and wrongs committed in the name of Catholic Spain (though we doubt whether they art any more numerous than the errors and storms now being committed in the name of the Liberal ideal all over Europe), but we may be sure that the present popular hatred to' Spain and General Franco would not be in the slightest degree diminished if the regime had been blameless. The existence of Nationalist Spain is commonly regarded as a moral symbol of protest against the new order of the Left, and because that hatred has a peculiar emotional note due to a sense of guilt, we may be sure that the less justification there might be for opposition to Spain. the more hated she would be.

STALIN'S SPEECH

MARSHAL Stalin's speech for

the 27th anniversary of the October Revolution revealed considerably less than the speeches of Mr. Churchill or President Roosevelt are wont to reveal. None the less it did suggest an increasing identity of purpose in certain respeets between the Allies. For a long time Russia refrained from committing herself very far about the future or even about the treatment of Germany. She did not jump to the policy of " unconditional surrender," and there seemed to be a possibility that she would prefer an easy and libesal peace as the best foundation for the spread of Communism in Europe Even now the formula of "unconditional surrender " is not used, and Stalin is very careful always to refer to " Hitlerite Germany " or the " Hitlerite bloc." Moreover, he pressed in a way that Churchill would not do the point that Finland, Rumania and Bulgaria have joined the common front against Flifferism. These may still prove to be important differences, but the speech as a whole strongly suggested that Russia has accepted the orthodox view of London and Washington that this war is primarily an inter-nation war whose logical conclusion is the military. economic and political triumph of the conquerors who intend to beat the enemy to his knees and enjoy the nor ma] fruits of conquest — and to enjoy them on the colossal scale that is in keeping with the colossal and totalitarian nature of the war, Stalin's reference to Japan as an " aggressor " nation is particularly significant.

There arc many who would consider that this closer alignment of the great Communist Power with Britain and America is not altogether a good thing. Even though a more independent and reasonable line of Russia's part would probably have indicated that its first aim was to spread Communism, this would at least have indicated that Russia Was thinking ahead in terms of ideals rather than hack in terms of imperial

ism and national conquests. For the Catholic the choice is indeed diffieult. The Catholic cannot but regard the promotion of an international for Communist ends as highly dangeroue—yet, if he is politically adult. he must deplore almost as greatly any reversion on the part of the Great Powers to the outlook of the eighteenth and nineteenth Centuries, worked out in terms, not of relatively small States engaged in professional politics which only indirectly affected the man-in-the-street, but in terms of immensely powerful nations totalitarianly organised.

A Times Leader MOREOVER, one cannot disregard 1-1 the possibility that Stalin considers that the spread of Communism will after all prove easier if he adopts a tough imperialistic policy in imitation of the leaders of Britain and America. The Times treated the country on Monday to one of its long leaders on Russia and Europe. It was a remarkable piece of work and meant to suggest that there were no real differences of outlook between the Big Three. This was achieved by simply glossing over every awkward topic. There was no essential difference between Russia's demand for security in the East and Britain's historic interest in the Low Countries and the Suez Canal, (Quite what interest Britain has had in the Low Countries since Napoleon is not explained, nor is it suggested that Britain's Egyptian policy may have left something to be desired in any " new order.") Tito has been .supported because he is a patriot, not a Communist. (Yet the Observe on the previous day reports the development of " oneparty Government and elections" in Yugoslavia and the exclusively .Communist political direction of the Party.) Poland, as usual is dismissed as a question of conflict between rival Polish groups. Germany is off the map, yel the void creeted by her disappearance as " the focus of international relations " will not, for some unexplained reason, lead to conflict but become rather a convenient buffer leading to peace. The questions of Persian oil, of the rebuff of Swiss overtures for diplomatic relations and of Russia's sudden refusal to join the Chicago Air Conference are conveniently overlooked. This kind of journalism is altogether too easy, and it is deliberately and consciously ntislcading Whatever Stalin's general line of policy, it is quite impossible to close one's eyes to the fact that he is insisting on special treatment and special liberties, and that this treatment and these liberties are quite out of harmony with the general ideals of international co-operation which the Times is concerned to defend. Whether the purpose of Russian policy in these matters of detail is in the main imperialistic and economic or part of a plan to spread the Soviet ideology, or both together. is relatively unimportant 'The refusal to envisage true co-operation in the concrete ion the basis of international justice and freedom remains. Nor is there any guarantee that this policy will be limited in scope. So far Russia has insisted on having her way wherever her immediate interests are concerned and there is a possibility of dispute. The ideal pursued by the Times and the outlined aims of Stalin may be excellent, but they cannot be promoted so long as Russia insists on having her own way wherever it is in her interest to do so and Britain and America close their eyes to what is happening.

IN FRANCE

HE situation in France is very peculiar. It appears to be a prolonged tussle between the Government which is vaguely supported by the mass of French public opinion and the political movement arising out of the Resistance which enjoys a quasi-monopoly of political institutions in so far as these have developed since the liberation. And behind the official Resistance there is the shadow of undefined elements which ate undisciplined and revolutionary. Yet the Government (itself, of course, another aspect of the Resistance) is holding its own very well so far. The Government has resisted most of the demands of the National Committee of Resistance in regard to the constitution of the Consultative Assembly which has just met. It has held its own in the critical battle of the disarmament of the irregular forces. Though 100,000 Frenchmen are said to have been arrested the Government's desire that the purge should be confined IC) genuine and important cases has, on .he whole, won the day—to judge from the complaints of the extremist press, and practically all the press is extremist. The Government has steered an even, though difficult. course in the matter of Franco-Spanish relations, at one and the same time establishing correct relations with Madrid and suppressing acts contrary to the interests of a friendly State, and yet recognising the debt owed to the Spaniards who fought for French liberation. The future is certainly obscure. Time may enable the strong Left tendencies and Communist forces among the Resistance to define themselves more clearly. On the other hand. every moment gained is likely to increase the expression of general support for the Government which stands for the restoration of lass and order as a preliminary to any changes. If de Gaulle and the Government are able to provide real first-aid for the nation and if they know how to develop radical social and economic reforms within a framework of unity and discipline they will carry the day.

ASSASSINATION

ASSASSINATION is, thank God, a rare occurrence so far as British public life goes, and one is

all the more shocked to hear of the fatal consequences of the attack on Lord Moyne in Cairo.

For the moment there is only one point to make It appears that the murderers are Jews. It is to be hoped that in no quarter whatever will there be any attempt to exploit this tragedy in an anti-Semitic direction. Whatever views one may take about anti-Semitism —and no one should take any view without knowledge. study and thought —it is at least certain that the fanatical behaviour of a few extremists has in itself little or no bearing on the wider questions Such fanatics—as is the case with fanatics in every country and community—can only do harm to the interests they imagine themselves to be serving. No decent person would want to help them in furthering the only possible result of their actions.




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