|J.M.de Prada in a pro-life rally|
Juan Manuel de Prada is by far the most famous Catholic writer and columnist in contemporary Spain. His column has been published in the highly influential Spanish daily ABC for many years - and his opinion, in defense of the Church and the Papacy, her doctrine and her moral stance, has led him to be ridiculed and humiliated often. He is a conservative author who is at home in an orderly novus ordo Mass, not a Traditionalist (though not an anti-Traditionalist either), and ABC is the only Spanish daily that can be considered in any way close to the Church.
The cultural references for Spanish-speaking Catholics are common in both sides of the Atlantic - so, in a sense, it is far from wrong to say that Catholic Hispanics are all fellow cultural countrymen: for instance, both Argentine and Spanish Catholics, at the same time, faced with the great menaces of the early 20th century, created the concept of the "Hispanidad". Juan Manuel de Prada is one of the few remaining figures of the dying breed of the once powerful intellectual life of the Catholic Hispanidad.
In Saturday's edition of ABC, de Prada published an ominous article. We translate it without any further opinion or endorsement.
The Nests of Yesteryear
Juan Manuel de Prada
ABC [Spanish], Sep. 21, 2013
I am unaware if I was insane before;
but today, reading a certain interview,
I felt that I played the fool all these years.
Democracy, Somerset Maugham taught, is a party to which all are invited, but in which you can then enter only if you lavish the doorman with gifts. Old theology called lavishing the doorman "flattering the world". We notice that the words of Somerset Maugham are quite true, for instance, by the way in which democratic politicians profess their affiliation: a left-wing politician admits he is a left-winger so happily, and proud to be so; a right-wing politician, on the other hand, presents himself with an inferiority complex as a "centrist", or a "reformer", or any other silliness used at the time, but he will not say even if he is tortured by squeezing his nipples that he is a right-winger. When someone declares himself to be of the right, he becomes ipso facto a party-pooper of democracy; and what democracy needs are cheerleaders, not party-poopers. I suppose that, at this very moment, there is not in the world a single democrat, from the Pope downwards, who dares say he is a right-winger.
Another way to cheer democracy consists in not mentioning those matters that democracy considers difficult and of the Catholic underclass, as, for instance, abortion. In Spain, for example, there was a time in which the party-pooper right-wing, in order to carry votes from the Catholic underclass, began to pester about these questions, filed appeals arguing the unconstitutionality of its practice, and even promised that, once it reached power, it would change the laws that support them. But, once power was attained, the right decided that it was time to cheerlead democracy; and, since then, it decided to put these difficult matters on hold. A true democrat should not speak of certain difficult matters, because they will tell him that he is obsessed (as if denouncing the thousands of growing lives that are thrown away every day in the dumpster were an "obsession"); and, if you are a democrat struggling with your beliefs, you must, in every event, see, hear, and keep quiet, under pain of being considered from the Catholic underclass.
I was not born to see, hear, and keep quiet; therefore, for my own personal health, I choose from this day forward to avoid seeing or hearing certain things, in order not to be forced to keep quiet, as I do today. On a certain occasion, a reader wrote me a letter asking me, if one day I lost my faith, not to allow this to be revealed through my articles, because it would inflict a very deep wound upon those who, like her, fed their [faith] by reading me. There are things that, even when one wants to, one cannot let go: it happened thus with Jonah and his duty of preaching in Nineveh; and it thus happens with me regarding my faith. But Saint Augustine taught us that, even though we must never refuse martyrdom, neither must we deliver ourselves to it senselessly.
I who am the most senseless man in the world spent many years delivering myself joyfully into martyrdom, in a battle with the world that left me in shreds, with my literary career thrown in the wastebasket and turned into the laughing stock of all my colleagues; and I made this daily exercise of immolation joyfully, because I considered that my obligation was not to please the world, but to fight it until my last breath.
Where there were nests yesteryear there are no birds this year, Don Quixote tells us, when he comes back to his senses. I am unaware if I was insane before; but today, reading a certain interview that kicked up a dust cloud, I felt that I played the fool during all these years.
And, following the example of the distinguished interviewee, I will dedicate myself from this day forward to pleasing and flattering the world, in order to avoid its condemnation.