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To Help Themselves


Generalissimo Franco's "personal rule" in Spain has remained relatively unchanged during its eighteen year existence. Several weeks ago Franco announced certain reconstructions in the administrative machinery, and last week the Generalissimo indicated that he was considering granting "more liberties" to the Spanish people for "loyal and constructive" political criticism.

These cautious changes and promises hint that Franco is looking ahead to the day when Spain will be ruled by another person, or people, who won't have the prestige of being "the first Falangiste" to lean upon. Yet, the very fact that Franco has broadened his administration and pledges to loosen up, even very gradually and carefully, on censorship suggests his fear of continually suppressed criticism in a dictatorship whose stability may well rest solely upon Franco.

In recent months, opposition and bitter resentment have broken out in riots and strikes. Were Franco not alive, these demonstrations of discontent might have overturned the structure of government. And Franco cannot live forever.

The United States, opposed to dictatorship but equally opposed to governmental instability in times of international tension, seems caught between ideology and practicality. The two, however, are not irreconcilable. Franco's rule is neither terroristic nor strictly speaking, oppressive. At the moment, its maintenance seems necessary to lift Spain above its current economic shallow-water mark. A radical change in governmental structure at the present time could be disastrous. The U.S., in the form of aid to Spain, appears to recognize these facts.

Franco's promise to ease up on the suppression of criticism should not be taken with too many grains of salt. The State Department, by quiet and personal influence, should press the Generalissimo to fulfill his cautiously liberal declarations.

Franco made it clear that he was in no way considering any reversion to the pre-revolutionary type of Spanish constitutionalism. The U.S., although it may find it hard to swallow its ideological reticence, should do so in the interests of Western stability. All governments need not immediately be molded in Locke's image, and if unterroristic "personal rule" is the only kind that can secure a healthy Spain, it should be tolerated.

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