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Post Spain Was Not the Only European Nation with Religious Persecution
Created by John Eipper on 08/16/21 7:43 AM

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Spain Was Not the Only European Nation with Religious Persecution (José Ignacio Soler, Venezuela, 08/16/21 7:43 am)

I have read the interesting article cited by Jordi Molins, with the thesis that religious persecution in Spain, at the hands of the Inquisition, is the probable cause of its economic backwardness.

I am interested in the proposal because I have always believed the role of religions to be an important factor in the cultural and economic development of countries.

Now, I am also intrigued why the study only considers the Inquisition to support its arguments, given that in other parts of Europe, for instance, there have been religious persecutions as cruel and more bloodthirsty than those of that nefarious Catholic institution.

I am referring to the persecutions that took place in England, The Netherlands and Germany, even France, against Catholics and other religious dissenters.

The Spanish Inquisition is commonly remembered today as the greatest exponent of religious intolerance. The origin of this image was Dutch and English propaganda against the Kingdom of Spain. This overlooks data that shows that religious persecutions during the 16th and 17th centuries in the rest of Europe reached frightening, even greater, figures. In some countries intolerance and persecution was exercised without legal brakes or obstacles, arbitrarily.

I wonder, could those facts be counterexamples to what the authors proposed in the article?

JE comments:  Shades of the Black Legend, a topic that repeatedly showed up in Prof. Hilton's writings.  There are many "moving parts" in this discussion.  Why is it that the countries of the Reformation tended to fare better in economic development?  Is there any value in the so-called Protestant Work Ethic?  Or is it a delusion?  Also, the nations that did not openly persecute their Jewish compatriots did better than those that did.  Even then, there is the example of Poland and its large Jewish population.  And Poland starting in the 18th century did anything but thrive as a nation.  


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  • Spain, Anti-Semitism, and "Fracasologia" (Silvia Ribelles de la Vega, USA 08/22/21 3:27 AM)
    It has been a while since I last read any WAIS entries. For the last three weeks I have been in a little hamlet on the coast of Asturias where Internet access is difficult and unstable. A blessing or a curse? I leave it to WAISers to ponder. [No WAIS for three weeks? The horror!--JE.]

    This interesting entry by José Ignacio Soler caught my eye, and then John's comment pushed me to send this message, and recommend a read where the author dissects part of Max Webber's famous work The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism. In fact, the title of the section where she attacks Webber's thesis is "Protestant Economism and its Myths: Max Webber."


    The whole book is actually pretty interesting. One of my favorite parts, an amusing and lovely vignette, is where she compares Lope de Vega and Molière's funerals, in Madrid and Paris respectively, less than 40 years apart. Epic. Please, read it.


    As far as the persecution of the Jewish population in Europe goes, please be aware that England, France and Germany also expelled their Jewish populations in perverse ways, and they did so, in some cases, centuries before they were expelled from the Iberian Peninsula. The funny thing about Spain and the expulsion of its Jews is that up until the 19th Century, the presence of the Jews in Spain until 1492 was used to single out the country as "contaminated." The Italian Humanists, for example, called the Spaniards "marranos" (pigs) because the Jews lived on Spanish soil for such a long time. But then, from the 19th Century onwards, in a textbook swing of the pendulum, the Spanish expulsion of the Jewish population became the origin of all the problems that the country had, and was just another proof of its intolerance and cruelty.  To say nothing of the fact that most of the books about Jewish expulsions in Europe (before WWII, of course) are about the Spanish expulsion, as if Spain had been the only territory to do so. Anti-Semitism was rampant in Western Europe, for centuries. How many people know that Edward I was responsible for the expulsion of thousands of Jews from England in 1290, who were not allowed to convert, and who had to leave all of their possessions behind?


    No, I will not leave without giving the title of the book: Fracasología: España y sus élites: de los afrancesados a nuestros días, Espasa, 2019, and the author is Elvira Roca Barea. The book is only in Spanish. No English version yet.


    Have a wonderful start of the week, everyone. And thank you John, one more time, for the hard work.


    JE comments:  Great to have you back in WAISworld, Silvia!  I'll seek out the book.  "Fracasología" is a neologism, best translated as "failurology."  An interesting, all-inclusive topic.  Spanish thinkers have been productive failurologists at least since the disenchanted Generation of 1898, and probably long before.  The France-loving "afrancesados" were active in the early 19th century.  Nothing like a loss of hegemony to set the gears of soul-searching in motion.


    Will US intellectuals in the coming years start to ask the fundamental question, What Happened?


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    • Confessions of a WAIS Addict (Eugenio Battaglia, Italy 08/24/21 4:10 AM)
      Our colleague Silvia Ribelles recently spent three weeks away from the Internet in rural Asturias.

      Three weeks without WAIS and I would die.


      As for soul-searching in the US in the wake of the Afghanistan debacle, we should avoid the "what happened." It is enough now to start thinking "what are we doing and what we shall do?" It is never too late.


      JE comments:  Eugenio, you touch me.  But there is life without WAIS!  It's an impoverished life, to be sure, but life nonetheless.  In four days I will observe my fifteenth anniversary as editor.  Would I survive if I had nothing more to do each morning than get ready for my day job?  Or what's worse--clean the house?  The horror!  (I've been quoting Kurtz a lot of late.  Must stop.)

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