Politics, Economics and Men of Modern Spain, 1808-1946

Politics, Economics and Men of Modern Spain, 1808-1946

Politics, Economics and Men of Modern Spain, 1808-1946

Politics, Economics and Men of Modern Spain, 1808-1946

Excerpt

There is perhaps no nation in the world which has had less chance of deciding its own destiny than the Spanish nation. This is the first thing that needs to be taken into account by anyone trying to form a judgment on the political aptitudes of the Spanish race. For it is very frequently forgotten that, strictly speaking, Spaniards themselves have played but a small part in making the history of Spain, which has, more often than not, been made by events and accidents in which the Spaniard has had no hand and whose course he has not been able to govern.

Every nation owes its personality to diverse elements; physical, ethnical, historical, and so forth. But the proportion in which each of these elements shares in the formation of human societies varies in the highest degree. To some nations it has been given that their history should reflect their character with absolute fidelity, because no serious accident has occurred to disturb their spontaneous development. Other nations, on the contrary, are moulded to a great extent by history. Spain is one of these. Nations make their history; but history can also make, or mar, nations. In a word, there is no doubt that history--international relations, political institutions, forms of culture--can exercise on the destiny of a nation as great an influence as the milieu or the psychological factor.

The fate of the Iberian Peninsula seems to be to act as a battleground for any factions, nations and civilizations that have a quarrel to settle. In Spain, the destiny of Rome, the future of Christianity, the political structure of Europe, have been successively fought out--to a major extent, at least.

Carthaginians and Romans began the second Punic War in Spain, and afterwards, the factions of the Roman civil wars fought each other there. Islam discharged upon Spain all the energy of her expansion westwards. When the reconquest of the territory had been virtually concluded by the Christians in the thirteenth century, when Spain began to eliminate foreign bodies, France and England in the fourteenth century shifted . . .

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