We Spaniards generally hold a negative and hopeless view of our nation’s history and capabilities. This deep and serious national problem, of which little is said, damages our self-esteem as a people, undermining our self-confidence and giving us an undeserved sense of inferiority regarding other countries. The reasons for our low self-esteem are varied, but in this article I venture that an important internal factor that continues to undermine our morale is the constant negative language about our history from our left (not all of it) and from separatist nationalisms, increasingly obvious allies.
Spain, one of the oldest nations in the world, has a long and brilliant history of great deeds that admired the world and also of some tragedies, a History of which we can feel genuinely proud and of which very few countries can give us lessons. We all know about the Black Legend invented by our European rivals when Spain was a superpower. But why have we Spaniards believed in this caricature created by those who did not wish us well? In part, the Castilian sobriety and austerity that for centuries impregnated our culture (admirable virtues in many respects) made it difficult for us to celebrate our successes with fireworks and our failures with silence and lies, as other countries did. England, for example, never allowed the truth to stand in the way of the always epic tone of its own history. Another factor, no doubt, was the loss of the remains of the Empire in 1898, which deeply and lastingly wounded our pride.
But an important cause of our low self-esteem today is the existence of a cultural and political left that is very “empathetic” with nationalisms, which considers that the history of Spain has been a perpetual night, a dark and primitive period from which we awoke just a few decades ago. Of course, the history of Spain is the history of a Christian monarchy (like that of so many European countries) indissolubly linked to the defense and propagation of Catholicism, while this left is republican and generally professes a visceral animosity towards (Catholic) Christianity, a unique phenomenon in Europe in terms of intensity and violence. Proof of this is the hatred displayed during the Second Republic and the Civil War: from the burning of churches and convents with total impunity, this left went on to the Catholic genocide in the so-called Red Terror of 1936, during which tens of thousands of citizens were killed because they were Catholics, including 7,000 priests, monks and nuns, many of whom sadistically tortured before their death. Today, by the way, the Leninists (Podemos) want to return to this violence, which they significantly consider legitimate: “you will burn as in 36″, they shout. Given that the defeat of that totalitarian left (including the Socialist Party of the time) gave rise to forty years of Franco’s dictatorship and not to the Soviet-style dictatorship that they (and Stalin) hoped to establish, it also denies in a paroxysm the period 1936-1978 (as if Spain had not existed in those decades, with its lights and shadows!) and of any vestige of the feeling of patriotic pride that that regime impregnated public education, often exaggeratedly. Therefore, another reason why this left impedes national pride (and even rebuffles our flag, again a phenomenon unique in Europe) is because it is linked to that period.
But the negative judgment about our past goes far beyond that. For example, this left judges very negatively the feat of a handful Spaniards conquering America who, with their abuses and violence (which war, which conquest, which era of history and which country is free of them?), brought to that continent a civilization (and a religion, of course, unforgivably) much more advanced than the existing one and, at the time, much more respectful of human rights (one of the reasons the Spaniards succeeded was the uprising of the locals against the bloodthirsty tyranny they suffered). In fact, it shares the argument of Latin American populism, which labels it “genocide” (the very definition of “fake history”). It is no coincidence that the Leninists have their genesis and financial patronage in extreme left-wing Latin American movements (in Bolivia, where they got the name Podemos, and in the murderous tyranny of Venezuela, a model they overtly admire and want to import here). Another example would be the contempt with which the Spanish Reconquest is judged (the Christians retaking control of the Spanish territory after centuries of Muslim invaders’ rule) while at the same time mythologizing Al-Andalus, which, in the words of the well-known historian Serafín Fanjul, was very similar to South African apartheid: an invading Muslim minority oppressing a Christian majority through the use of violence (this left combines a certain amount of anti-Semitism and ferocious anti-Christianity with enormous docility towards Islam).
In this negative view of our past as a nation, which contributes so much to our inferiority complex, this left shares an absolute ideological identity with the nationalisms that do us so much harm. In a more self-confident country, the Basque and Catalan nationalist movements, born on the back of the Romanticism of the late 19th century (feelings are everything!) when we lost the Empire and being Spanish had lost glamour, would have been considered a laughable eccentricity with their sickly victimhood and their accumulation of historical lies. Sabino Arana, a supremacist, racist and religious fundamentalist (just read his writings), would have probably been considered an illuminati and not the father of the “Basque country”. Catalan nationalism, with its racist stints, equally supremacist and anti-liberal (initially protectionist and now controlled by the extreme left), would have been taken for a tiresome exercise in melancholic victimhood mixed with greed and a high dose of arrogance. However, because they confronted a country with no self-esteem, regional nationalism worked well: under the guise of a pride (absolutely legitimate) in its language, customs and historical institutions, they created an artificially constructed “memorial of grievances” that, repeated like a mantra, became the battering ram that would demolish national unity by building a disloyal independence project based on hatred of Spain. And Spain, like every person without self-esteem, like every victim of abuse, tended to justify it and accept it even with a certain feeling of guilt. Every conciliatory gesture, every transfer of power, every show of respect was interpreted by the nationalists as a weakness and had no other result than an increase in their abuse. Blind to this overwhelming empirical evidence, some delusional people still believe today that appeasement will work.
The current coup d’état which keeps half the population of Catalonia kidnapped and seeks to establish a sort of National Socialist Republic in Catalonia is only the culmination of this process. It could be believed that the current socialist government’s manifest complicity with the coup plotters, torpedoing the action of the Supreme Court, bordering the misdemeanor of omission of the authorities’ duty to prosecute the crimes and their perpetrators (art. 408 of the Penal Code) and thus helping the nationalists in their insidious campaign of international defamation against Spain, is due only to a short-term political interest, but in reality it has the logic of someone who shares with the nationalists a determined and very negative vision of Spain. Slave to this ideological negativity, this Socialist Party of today (where is the socialism of the eighties?), puppet of the Leninists and ally of the anti-Spain, led by someone with authoritarian and violent tics, of unheard-of banality and null respect for the Rule of Law, is a trifle away from declaring illegitimate the system of democratic liberties of the 1978 Constitution that defends the unity of our nation, thus contributing to the regime change that the Leninists seek. Either we regain our pride and defend Spain or we disappear. A country should not be ruled by one who tries to destroy it.
Fernando del Pino Calvo-Sotelo