RI1CLES on Spain, and the question of Spain's exclusion from E.R.P., are appearing so frequently in our Press at present that one suspects a guilty conscience on the subject. No wonder !
An Englishman in Spain, in point of fact, finds it almost impossible to put up any ,plausible explanation or excuse for the British attitude.
It is quite useless to attempt to argue that Britain dislikes totalitarian and police States and feels that the inclusion of these would destroy the conception of an ideal Europe such as the democracies are looking for. There is
no need for the Spaniard to argue _./
the question of totalitarianism. He simply says that Russia and Russia's satellites have been pressingly invited to co-operate, so this excuse must be completely hollow and hypocritical. If the idea of excluding a nondemocratic State, of whatever character, is discussed, the Spaniard simply asks why Portugal or Turkey are included.
Meanwhile the net result is to deprive Europe of the goodwill and immediate aid of a strategically invaluable country with the strongest army of the Continentan army which could be expanded into some two million of seasoned guerrilla fighters.
Another rather curious result is to make the intelligent Spaniard extremely hostile to the Labour Government and Labour movement. The Spaniard to-day has a surprising fund of goodwill towards Britain, the country which he still regards as the natural leader of European resistance, as opposed to France, of which he has a low opinion. So he is driven to hope that the defeat of the Labour Government will open the way for fresh and more intelligent relations.
More serious still is the effect on Spain itself. A country always inclined culturally and geographically to be introverted, Spain to-day is being deprived of the natural advantages to herself of normal relations with the rest of the world. Without a very great deal of faith in the idea, she is being forced to ever more exclusive relations with South America.
Even less defensible than the official policy of the British Goveminent was the refusal of the United Europe Movement to allow political representatives of Spain at the Hague Conference. With great difficulties, and in spite of the opposition of the British, some cultural observers were alone tolerated. Thus Spain at the Hague was represented by gentlemen who only command the very doubtful adherence of a Spanish minority now hopelessly out of touch with the spirit of the nation. So much for the idealism and good-sense of the idealists and intellectuals !
THE great puzzle is really to account for this persisting intolerance of Spain and Spain alone.
We are forced-and reluctantly forced-to account for it in two ways : basic hostility towards Catholicism and a complete misunderstanding of it, and our being led by the nose by Moscow,
The Spanish Civil War-there is no getting away from it-was in essence a Communist-masonic declaration of war against the Catholic religion, traditions and culture of Spain. Under that banner the anti-Christian secularism of the civilised world fought -consciously or unconsciously. It was defeated, and it has never forgiven the Spaniards that defeat.
To this basic hatred for Catholic Spain there is added the apparent inability of otherwise intelligent men to understand the nature and quality of Spanish Catholicity.
For example. they are totally unable to appreciate the glaring truth that it is the Church to-day which is saving Spain.
A civil war, such as was fought in Spain, does not normally result in the victory of the idealists of either side-but like most wars in a victory of the toughest realists of one of the sides. There is no doubt that the Nationalist cause was in danger of being permanently hardened into full totalitarianism.
That this is not the case in Spain to-day is due to the Church and the deep Catholic principles of so many leading Spaniards. What has emerged in fact is a regime, certainly quite undemocratic, certainly quite authoritarian, but which is slowly but surely evolving, as external and internal conditions allow, towards an organic and representative society, Christian in its principles and Spanish in its character. This is the result of the patient work of the active and intelligent moderate Catholic leaders. It has also been made possible by the personal religion and character of General Franco.
For Europe, and the world generally. to neglect, misunderstand and despise this extraordinarily interesting evolution not only involves an immense weakening of its resistance to immediate dangers, but blindness towards a key factor which must contribute towards future peace, if peace is ever to come again.