In the University grounds and the Casa de Campo the remains of trenches and gun emplacements are still visible today - stubborn, melancholy reminders of the siege of Madrid. It would be reassuring to reflect on Lincoln's words about another battle for democracy, "the world...can never forget what they did here", and assume that Europe has learned its lesson once and for all. But there is worrying evidence to the contrary.
Around Europe the far right is on the rise again, most worryingly in some of the new member states of the EU. One of the reasons why Spain eventually made a successful transition to democracy was membership of the European Union and a series of very generous transfer payments from Brussels. These kick-started the economy and allowed the development of a stable, democratic polity for the first time in its history. But this approach has not been extended to the new members by an EU riddled by self-doubt and narrow national interests. Some of the cracks are now begging to show. And beyond its borders Europe has demonstrated an even more niggardly approach to promoting democracy and human rights. A minimalist, miserly Europe may suit the mood of our times but the warning from Madrid is clear: it may not turn out to be such a low cost option.
keyboard shortcuts: V vote up article J next comment K previous comment