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the voice of reason

the voice of reason

( a speech by miguel de unammuno)


(prologue -- franco has won the spanish civil war, more or less.

resistance was still there but it would be curbed with heavy hand.

at this juncture, here is a speech by an intellectual after a speech by general millian astray, described as "el gran mutilado" in which he declared all but the fascists as enemy of state, of spain.

as the audience rose as one man to hail franco, the supreme leader, one man remained seated. he was miguel unammuno. unammuno was professor in salamanca universality for thirty-five years.)


when the tumulus died, he rose. he spoke

"all of you are hanging on my words. you all know me, and are aware that i am unable to remain silent. i have not learnt to do it in seventy-three years of my life, and i do not wish to try anymore.at times, to be silent is to lie.

i want to comment on the speech – to give it that name – of general millian astray.

let us waive the personal affront implied by the sudden outburst of vituperation against basques and catalons in general. i was born in bilbao ... the bishop of salamanca, whether he likes it or not, is a catalan from barcelona.

just now, i heard a necrophilous and senseless cry – long live death. to me it sounds the equivalent of 'muera la vida (to death with life). and i, who have spent my life shaping paradoxes, must tell you, as an expert, that this outlandish paradox is repellent to me.

since it was proclaimed in homage to the last speaker, i can only explain it to myself by supposing that it was addressed to him, though in excessively strange and tortuous fashion, as a testimonial to his being himself a symbol of death.

general millian astray is a cripple. let it be said without any slighting undertone. he is a war invalid. so was cervantes .... unfortunately, there are all too many cripples in spain now, and soon there will be even more if god does not come to our aid.

it pains me to think that general millian astray should dictate the pattern of mass psychology. that would be appalling. a cripple who lacks the spiritual greatness of cervantes .... is wont to seek ominous relief in seeing mutilation around him...

general astray would like to create spain anew, a negative creation, in his own image and likeness. for that reason, he wants to see spain crippled, as he unwittingly made clear".

(there was interruption herewith general astray shouting muera la inteligencia - death to intelligence - after the noise subsided, unammanu continued)

"this is the temple of the intellect, and i am its high priest. you (general astray) are profaning its sacred precincts. i have, always, whatever the proverb says, been a prophet in my own land. you will win, but you will not convince. you will win because you possess more than enough brute force, but you will not convince because to convince means to persuade. and in order to persuade you would need what you lack – reason and right in the struggle. i consider it futile to exhort you to think of spain.

i have finished"

(epilogue – unammuno was not liquidated immediately but placed under house arrest as he still was popular intellectual force. before worse fate fell upon him, he died of a brain stroke)

(from the book "franco" by alan lloyd – longman 1969 pages 139 – 141)

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