A Post- or Super-Nationality in the European Union
The Spanish: Shadows of Embarrassment
The height of Spanish civilization was reached during the period of Muslim rule. The regime’s distance from the centers of Muslim power enabled it to show tolerance and allow members of different faiths – Muslims, Jews, and Christians – to participate in the country’s cultural and scientific activities, as well as in its economy. The Spaniards thus attained their Golden Age during the tenth to thirteenth centuries.
However, while Muslim religious tolerance made the Spaniards the intellectual leaders of Europe and the Mediterranean, the opposite occurred under Catholic religious fanaticism, which led to economic ruin, only temporarily relieved by the achievements of imperial conquest. This relief came to an end with the loss of Spain’s colonies – an event which is also associated with religion, or rather with the Spanish self-pride that had developed over the course of Spain’s religious wars, together with Spanish discrimination against the inhabitants of their American colonies that were not born in Spain. In turn, this had caused the American colonies to break away from Spain, resulting in Spain’s decline, to the bottom of the European economic ladder. The situation was exacerbated by Spain’s earlier expulsion of the Jews and Muslims, who had played a leading role in the Spanish economy during Spain’s Golden Age.
By the end of the nineteenth century, Spain had reached its lowest point. After reaching an economic nadir, the Spanish experienced a brutal civil war in the 1930s, which metamorphosed into a cruel dictatorship. For the Spanish, their civil war, like the American Civil War for the Americans and the two World Wars for the Europeans, has ignited a strong national sentiment that helped Spanish society find a common path, economic rehabilitation and the emergence of a national identity. After arriving at that point, the Spanish found that their history united them with the whole European community and, fortunately, in their eyes, they were benefiting from tangible contact with Europe rather than pursuing vain internal disputes. However, since the Spanish national identity was kindled as a consequence of the civil war in the twentieth century, it did not have time to take root before the process of integration into the EU began to affect the Spanish. Today, therefore, this European integration is a stronger force in Spanish life than Spanish nationality.
The Spanish may thus be expected to become a constructive component in the developing European national identity.