Page 3, 3rd April 1958

3rd April 1958
Page 3
Page 3, 3rd April 1958 — Is he sitting on the safety valve?

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Organisations: International Brigade


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Is he sitting on the safety valve?


THE YOKE AND THE ARROWS: A Report on Spain, by Herbert Matthews (Heinemann, liLs.).• THOUGH rather expensive at 18s., this book of 176 pages is well worth while. It has behind it 20 years of study. and intermittent residence in Spain by the famous correspondent of the " New York Times," beginning with his experiences as a member of the International Brigade during the Spanish Civil War in 1936. Nobody, least of all perhaps Mr. Matthews, is neutral about the Spain of Generalissimo Franco. Superficially.. the book could be regarded as depicting the Caudillo sitting on a lid that will blow off unpredictably the moment he becomes incapacitated or dies. But it is in fact. for all its repetitions, a profound book and (granted the author's two basic premises) an objective book. Those premises are: that Spain would not have gone Communist if the Republican side had won the Civil War; and that Franco is temperamentally incapable of delegating any authority whatever to anybody at all.

Scrupulous fairness

SUPPORTERS of the regime, and opponents alike. will surely applaud the scrupulous efforts of this report to be fair: for example, on the one side, its careful distinction between a totalitarian and an authoritarian government, and on the other side its measured analysis of the Protestant question.

But naturally hardly anybody will agree with all of it. The following quotation, typical of both style and mood, may well serve as matter for a meditation by all or us, of whatever views: "Whatever one thinks of Generalissimo Francisco Franco, he is one of the towering figures of Spanish history. Yet the mark he made cannot be enduring, for it has no vision.

"In the vital field of politics he has been the sorcerer who commanded Spanish history to remain still on 1st April, 1939, when the Civil War ended. There is no dynamism in the politics of Spain. History will begin again when he dies, and it will begin where he began, not where he leaves off."

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