By João Lopes Marques (Eesti keel)
From King Midas we used to say everything he touched turn gold. About Spain we could use a small variation: whatever Spain touches becomes ideological. Well, I may assume this is not my definition. I heard it first time last month, voiced out by my good Spanish friend Benjamin.
After reflecting a couple of minutes, I agreed. Totally. This is one of the reasons why this kingdom raises so much love-and-hate feelings. Everything there is polarized: just look at the Spanish Civil War.
Why am I writing about Spain (being myself a Portuguese living in Estonia)? For several reasons. Among others, because my grandfather Joaquim played a military role in it: very young he decided to join right-wing Franco’s army to defeat The Reds (Republicans). Once again, the polarization that made a young Portuguese teenager join an ideological war; the American author Ernest Hemingway did the same in the other side of the trenches.
More importantly, one of the most praised (and most expensive) paintings ever is a child of the Spanish ideology: Pablo Picasso sketched and painted Guernica in the weeks following the bombing of the Basque city with the same name (in May 1937). It is more than another location in Biscay: for almost thousand years the Basque people swore their unique Constitution by the oak tree we can still visit downtown Guernica.
Likewise, those who are acquainted with Spanish society know very well the fights among PSOE (socialists, in power) and PP (conservative party) infect all the media. Just pay attention at the two biggest dailies in the country: El País stands for PSOE; El Mundo is always behind PP. Readers not only acknowledge it, they favour this maniqueist conception.
Spain is secular product of political will (as most countries are). Yet we can see there Castillian hegemony has prevailed. Castillians, much more than other Iberian nations — the Portuguese, for instance — are seasoned warriors. Ideology has the power to strengthen personal and collective will. Convictions. Look at present-day sports panorama: once the scars of dictatorship were healed, the Spanish Armada started winning almost everything. Nadal, Contador, Torres, Casillas, Gasol, Alonso... You name it...
I guess this is why Rome devoted such respect to its Hispania (as they used to call their Iberian provinces). Moreover, two of the most influential Roman emperors (Trajan and Hadrian) were born near Seville. Relatives among them (being uncle and nephew), under their rule the Roman empire reached its furthest borders ever, rivaling with Alexander, The Great. Even Hollywod knew it: the Oscar winner Gladiator (2000), whose fictional character is performed by Russel Crowe, was born in Trujillo.
Even the Catholic Church has been dominated by ideology “made in Spain”. When the former Basque noblemen Ignacio de Loyola founded the Order of Jesus in the 16th century he wanted "Soldiers of Faith". Loyola turned an ascetic guy, but just after being injured by a cannon ball in a battle against France. In the decades ahead, the Jesuits managed to become the most important missionaries in the History of religion, taking over Iberia, Latin America, Asia and, very meaningful, the Vatican apparatus.
They were so hegemonic (and progressist), Spanish and Portuguese kings had to kick them out of Iberian Peninsula late in the 1700's. But they remained hegemonic in Rome till another Spanish-inspired order took over, being John Paul II the Pontiff. Its name? Opus Dei, the high-profile conservative order created at the dawn of the 20th century by the Aragonese priest Josemaría Escrivá de Balaguer (yes, he is also a saint these days).
But San Ignacio de Loyola, please: he was as important for Christianity as the German Martin Luther, though using very different means. Plus, he is still today the most well-known Basque character. His practical Spiritual Exercises, written in a secluded Catalan cave, compete with The Bible for lots of Catholic believers.
Loyola was a stiff soul. Yet I bet he would never expect to become a reference for the Basque nationalism. Curious: when in 1895 the Basque Nationalist Party (PNV) was founded their leaders decided to do it exactly on the holy death of... Ignacio de Loyola. The same happened with the Basque separatist group ETA: the organization was not only born the 31st July but was also set up by students of a Jesuit university (Deusto) in the Basque city of Bilbao.
To celebrate 50 years of existence, ETA committed two major terrorist attacks in Spain, the biggest of them in the Mediterranean island of Majorca. The social and political reaction to terrorism was (has been) overwhelming in Spain. Nothing more natural in a country where ideology is the cornerstone of the state. Madrid bullies has a wild Miura at any red sign...
Without even debating its despicable methods, this is also why ETA is doing a terrible job for the Basques. Happilly, most of the Basques realized it longtime ago. ETA was born under the Franco dictatorship and now Spain is a democracy; Al-Qaeda made terrorism even more horrible that it used to be perceived. And don't forget European Union: we all hope it will play an essential (and more rational) role in the future of our Continental mosaic.
Thus, the threatened identity of the Basque nation — not only amazing but also the oldest in Europe — should rely more on their own ancestry and genius. Historical spirituality. Dignity and discipline. Making the conflict more and more ideological is the worst thing for such a brilliant heritage.
Otherwise: is the Spanish ideological virus undermining togetherness among the Basques? Far from having the key, I deeply believe de-ideologizing the tension is perhaps the only solution.
Tinha aveia para o negócio.