The definitive change in the destiny of the West
by D. Álvaro de Maortua
Taken from Arbil
Translated from the Spanish by Roberto Hope
A polemic arose between French and Spanish writers and publicists in 1635. The French pamphlets defended a new conception of the world based on the nascent rationalism and on an exclusively pragmatic view of things. No room for transcendentals. They proclaimed, above all, reason of State, according to which nations are not subjected to objective moral norms but instead, that each nation should seek that policy which will augment the nation´s material well being. A European order based on single principles to be accepted by all would be unjust. The Spaniards, in contrast, maintain the idea of Europe as «Universitas christiana» and do not accept the idea of Europe as a dispersion rupturing the richness of diversity.
In May 1635, France declared war against the Hispanic world with her intervention in the Thirty Years war. Spain considered this a betrayal of the Catholic cause; for France, it was a political decision aimed to end Spanish exclusivism.
In 1643, the Spanish tercios suffer their first military defeat in Rocroi. Another disaster is produced in Lenz in 1646 and, with it, the peace of Westphalia is arrived at in 1648, in which, with the loss of her hegemony over the world, Spain is forced to recognize the reality of a new world.
Westphalia signifies the triumph of the Protestant over the Catholic world;; of the anthropocentric over the theocentric conception, of rationalism over spiritualism, of the subjective over the objective.. Not because the accords reached at Westphalia would have officially proclaimed these principles, but because they appear to have prevailed in Western culture since then.
In Westphalia, the triumph of the interest of the bourgeoisie over the defeated demanding asceticism of a Christian conception of life. When the Europe of service is succeeded by the Europe of interest and by the iniquitous reason of State, when the transcendent Europe of Saint Benedict, who called work «servitium sanctum» is succeeded by the Europe of the Encyclopedia, of Kant and Hegel, Spain, having been defeated in Westphalia as the Catholic cause was defeated, fell back to herself. Spain kept on embracing the faith.
The peace of Westphalia marks the definitive change in the destiny of the West. The end of Spanish hegemony is the end of the plenitude and extension attained by Christian civilization in world History, which was in part made up by Spanish evangelization in America. Europe begins its decadence as a «universitas christiana», and having lost the prodigious optimism of its former culture, begins the road to its recent secularization and spiritual decadence.
The eighteenth century witnesses the advance of the atheistic revolution with the French encyclopedism and the Enlightenment which mock God and the higher values of the spirit. Spain was de-hispanicized by the Bourbons and their conception of politics. It nevertheless experienced a new economic-military rise extending its dominions in America as a consequence of its aid to the Yankees in their War of Independence. Standing out as good ministers were José Patiño, Carvajal and and the Marquis of Ensenada, who restored the health of the economy and trade and renewed the war navy.
The revolutionary ideological invasion proceeding mainly from France, began to wreak havoc in Spain. There were some valuable men who attempted to bring about a «Christian illustration» in Spáin, of the likes of Forner, Cadalso, Piquer, Floridablanca, Feijoo and Jovellanos. But the infiltrated ideology was coarse, agnostic, atheist, and eminently pragmatic and utilitarian.
There were properly no creating geniuses in the Spain of the eighteenth century, even though the people, in the judgment of Menéndez Pelayo, kept on being Spanish; that is, addicted to Truth, healthy and religious, as it heroically demonstrated in the Independence war against Napoleon's army.
That hurricane of skepticism and criticism that ravaged all consciences in the eighteenth century, has its most genuine manifestations in the series of attacks against Catholicism and the tradition of the Church. And Spain, the nation that had made of the triumph of the Catholic religion one of her basic service, becomes the object of a series of attacks, and by dialectic necessity of the polemics, her decadence is used as an argument to demonstrate the pernicious influx of Catholicism in the civilization and life of the peoples. This is the atmosphere of the European culture with respect to Spain during the eighteenth century.
In Europe prevailed, as we have mentioned above, the reason of State to extremes of authentic barbarism. With Adam Smith in England, and with Rousseau, Condorcet and Mably in France, begins the road that ends in the French Revolution and with the Marxist claim, half a century later, that Natural Law is an invention of the bourgeoisie to rule over the proletarian class (Read Leo XIII's encyclicals Immortale Dei and Libertas praestantissimum). It is the disgraceful road of juridical positivism that still asphyxiates the world with its tyrannical perversion.