Thursday, November 16, 2017

Why Peoples Need Heroes

The Spanish bourgeoisie knows of other great men, but the common people — the people who labor and fight; the people who die or lose their loved ones in war — know of only two great men. One is real and tangible; sometimes, the people even see or hear him: he is the Caudillo. The other is a rather mysterious figure, in that people imagine him as if he were a hero from long ago. People know no more about him than they do about the saints or the beloved heroes of legend and song: he is José Antonio. It is a well-known fact that the humble peasant women who pronounce his name know neither who he was, nor when or where he lived. What they do know of him is an intuitive way of being, based not so much on what they hear about him but on their own desires. Every honest, simple, and sincere Spaniard sees in José Antonio the qualities he wishes all political leaders had. In the popular imagination, then, José Antonio has no equal, for people attribute to him qualities or characteristics diametrically opposed to those that Spaniards saw in that long, miserable line of mediocre political leaders that plagued Spain for so many years.

Gonzalo Torrente Ballester, prologue to José Antonio: An Anthology (1939) 

*Translated from the Spanish by Jaime de Andrade   

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