Robbery Of Her Religious Tradition
The Spanish Tragedy. By Prof. Alison Peers. (Methuen. 10s. 6d.) Reviewed by ALFONSO DE ZULUETA Rightly does Prof. Peers call the eveeta of the past few years : the Spanish Tragedy." Yet the veritable trageuy of Spain ties deeper, we think, than can be gieaned from the pages of this careful and objective study. The learned Professor, who has deserved so well of all Hispanophiles in the realm of history and letters, has missed a great opportunity of explaining to the British public the source of the deep-seated incompatibility between Right and Left in Spain which is branded as intolerance and shocks the Liberal sense so deeply. Rather does the Professor, with the eminent Senor de Madariaga, seek in vain an objectivity and a neutrality which come dangerously near compromise. To talk of the n patriotism ane.,: high ideals of both sides" and to deplore their mutual intolerance, is to shelve the real problem.
If we turn to that great Spanish thinker, Senor Menendez y Peiayo, who is perhaps the only Spaniard who is equally respected by both sides, we find a searching and profound analysis of this very problem, though penned some thirty years ago. Spain (this is his central thesis) became a nation and aChieved greatness through the Catholic Faith; she cannot desert the latter without losing her self, her very essence, and relapsing into the anarchy from which she came and which is still latent in the national temperament, bursting forth when the restraints of religion and tradition are removed.
For the past two hundred years, he continues, there has been a systematic attempt to rob Spain of her religious and cultural tradition, and to substitute for it a hybrid agglomeration of foreign ideas and systems, anything so long as to attack " Ia Hispanidad," as Maeztu calls it, and with it the Catholic Church and her spiritual influence.
The intellectuals of the Left, when not consciously engaged in this aim, have at least made the mistake of refusing to see these facts. Their work has been negative, they have attacked the Spanish tradition, without succeeding in putting anything in its place. Similarly, the politicians, with their nineteenth century obsession of Liberalism, gave the country a system and a Constitution unsuited to her, whilst they were largely responsible for giving the masses no education after depriving them of their old culture.
To return, as it is now proposed to return, to genuine Spanish models, with greater organic and regional vitality, though within the national unity, going back beyond democracy " and absolutism alike to the old Spain, in harmony with modern conditions, should at least give the country a fair chance.
The attempted .remedy of Dictatorship under Primo de Rivera was abortive and failed, because it, in a different way, made the same mistake in not recognising the need for a reconstruction of the State, or was at any rate insufficiently backed to be able to do so.
The conflict between the two Spains is not one between reactionaries and democracy, as it so widely supposed in this country. It is between those who recognise the existence of absolute values and of original sin in human nature, and who therefore postulate a protection of these valogs by authority an on the other hand, those who deny such . values and trust ultimately in Man alone and in the el:1114SW of all ideas.
Nor is the aim of the Right, as a whole, mere reaction and traditionalism. It believes in progress, but in the Catholic sense, founded on tradition and authority. The Left has no unified philosophy, except it be "ecraser Tinfame." The activities of Freemasonry explain more than it is thought polite to mention in England, nor do we find any reference to them in this volume.
Prof. Peers's study is, we say, objective in intention and fair in its approach to directly Catholic problems. But it is unsatisfying to find these problems shelved. Little is said of the considerable social work attempted by Gil Robles's party in their relief and partial tenure of power, and we would have welcomed, after the strictures on Cardinal Segura's prudence, a frank recognition of the prominent part played by the Church and by El Debate in attempting to secure from Catholics due respect for the constituted authority. This is particularly important in view of subsequent events. For this and for a full account of the Church's very real grievances against the iniquitous Constitution of 1931 a quotation from the Papal Letter Dilectissinzi Nobis would have been invaluable.
The book, for all its serenity, fails to convey the impression left on all the National Spain of the work of the Left, its disruptive and anarchist influence, the share of the Government in the responsibility, e.g., its repeated orders of passivity to the police as regards the burning of churches, and the Constitution (sacred word!) is taken far too much for granted, though its injustices are not altogether disguised,
The present national explosion is the answer to the last and biggest attempt of the forces of anti-Spain and their "Constitutionalism." " Non in demagogia placuit Deo salvunt facere populum summ."