Economic Change and the National Question in Twentieth-Century Europe

By Alice Teichova; Herbert Matis et al. | Go to book overview

CHAPTER SEVEN
From autarky to the European Union: nationalist
economic policies in twentieth-century Spain
Gabriel Tortella and Stefan Houpt

INTRODUCTION

Discussions related to the concept of nationalism have given rise to a great deal of recent academic work not only in Spain but also in most of Europe. Part of this is due to the fall of the Iron Curtain, which has led to the kindling of nationalist cinders still alive in former eastern European countries. A second element has been the growing federalism in western Europe. More and more decision-making power has been delegated either to a supranational or to a municipal level, thereby putting national policies into jeopardy. The different formulae of nationalism that have evolved in the past have led to additional confusion relating to the concept itself. A minimal definition of nationalism includes at least four overlapping meanings: patriotism, a world order based on the right of each nation to determine its policies unhindered by others, a struggle for national independence, and a system demanding national conduct of all industries. Each of the above phenomena is present to some extent in the recent history of Spain, although it is perhaps the latter one which best defines the most determinant of the four: 'economic nationalism' — a strain that went hand in hand with economic backwardness in Spain throughout part of the nineteenth and most of the twentieth century.

The concept of nationalism has evolved considerably in the last two centuries. Originally, the French revolutionaries put the nation before the patrimonial state of the absolute monarchy. The nation therefore was the embodiment of popular sovereignty, the set of free, equal and fraternal citizens. From this a new ideology was created during the nineteenth century, to promote the political and social cohesion of newer nation states such as Italy and Germany or to contribute to the socioeconomic unification and integration of peripheral states such as Poland, Hungary or Spain. In both cases it had a common function –

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