Janus’s Relevance: Ramiro de Maeztu and the Great War’
Author/sJiménez Torres, David
Área/s de conocimientoHistoria y Expresión Artística
Materia/s Unesco5902 Ciencias Políticas
In 1916 Spanish journalist and intellectual Ramiro de Maeztu published two books within the space of a couple of months. Both books were related to the conflict we now call the First World War, although their respective relationships with that context were very different.1 The first book, entitled Authority, Liberty and Function in the Light of the War, was a dense reflection, written in English, on the causes of the present conflict. Within its pages Maeztu engaged in wide-ranging criticism of the previous five centuries of European history and thought, which he considered responsible for having unleashed the present conflict. Though he reserved his harshest criticisms for Germany, he minced no words when it came to criticizing Britons and their commitment to a liberal social and economic order. He also laid out a series of proposals for the reorganization of society, culture and politics that would prevent mass slaughters like the present one from taking place again. This comes into harsh contrast with his second book of that year, Inglaterra en armas [England Up in Arms]. Written in Spanish, it was an account of Maeztu’s recent visit to the British front lines in France and Belgium, one that was shot through with a defence of British character and conduct through the ages. He also portrayed war itself in a positive light, as a redemptive process whereby societies could become purified of their worst vices...