Report from Spain

We are reminded of the global reach of IDEAeconomics, thanks to Steve Keen and his work over the past decade. Miguel Guerra is contributing time and talent in graphics from Spain, for which we are very grateful. In talking with Miguel, however, we are reminded of the movement of history and the very feeble economic understanding that sometimes guides it.  The situation in Spain is quite scary, with apparently no organized political operation having a coherent view. The opposition is in "Occupy" type movements (15 M and 22 M) which are largely uninformed about the causes of the economic destruction. The political establishment of every stripe is endemically unable to process any relevant economic view. The population is being frustrated into apathy.

Miguel replies, 

Yes, the things in Spain are very crazy to put it mildly. The one thing that makes the waters murky for the average Spaniard, in terms of economics, is that the politicians were heavily involved in the banking scandals. So the people rightfully blame the politicians and the banks, but they don't fully understand how Wall street, the IMF and the many other merry wrecking crew of marauders had their hand in it. Spaniards tend to be very hyper critical  of themselves. Much of the problem resides in that many of the issues from the civil war haven't been aired out, and the sad part is that the conservatives running the country are pretty much the grandchildren of Franco and his supporters. The good thing about that is that the conservative government has shown itself to be just as useless as the socialists, which in my view they won't have a repeat of an ideological civil war. Also seeing the PP are pretty much the inheritors of the Ultranationalist regime, it's like a dead end ideologically. The bad part is, what Alan mentioned, it's leading to apathy on one end and occupy type movements, (11M,that are reactionary.  I think the big problem here is not understanding the mechanics of the problem. There's so much more I could talk about with the situation here, but maybe another time. I have attached some photos of from a festival, called Fallas,  here in the city I live in, Valencia. Basically it's a secularized version of a pagan spring festival, in which they make giant statues that they later burn. At one time they were used to protest, until Franco got in, they kept them but they became less controversial. Well, this year you could see more anti-bank fallas. In Spanish they say Banca(o) for Bank, but it also means bench. So that's what the one float is talking about. 

Steve Keen: Miguel, your reflections on  Spain would make a very interesting blog post. It has amazed me that no revolt has come out of all that suffering in Spain and Greece.

Steve Roth:  Miguel, very interesting. I met a young Spanish woman fifteen years ago or so and she was explaining Spanish politics to me, also through the lens of Franco, the civil war, and authoritarian conservatives retaining or regaining power.

Fascinating how similar it is to U.S. politics, which are constantly refighting our civil war. The losers just can't admit they lost.

Which leads to the odd dynamic of Occupy and Tea Party groups both vilifying bankers. The difference being that Tea Partiers' ideology and preferred policies serve the bankers' turns at ever turn. Similar in Spain?

Miguel Guerra: I can't speak for Greece, but for Spain it has much to do with civil war and just the dictatorship. However, in the realm of economics I would dare to say that Spain's mismanagement of finances goes back to it's imperial days. There's a great passage in Arturo Perez Reverte's adventure novel Capitan Alatriste. Basically it talks about how the gold was brought in from the Americas to Spain and it went straight to Genovese bankers, which some of it was used to buy weapons from the Dutch which they were at war with. More or less something like that. Of course there's the church dynamic which almost always supports the right. A blog post on Spain would be a good thing. It may have to be several posts. 

Steve R,
There are similarities with our civil war in that deep cultural ideological lines were etched in the psyche of the people. Although the youth have been treating history as if it was something that happened long ago. But that's where it stops. The civil war has a unique place in history because it was Hitler's testing ground and pretty much prep for WW2. The civil war was bad but the dictatorship was worse. There wasn't any amnesty for the overthrown government, so many went into hiding or were killed. My mother's family had to burn all of their ID and basically hide because my grandfather was part of the fallen government. Fortunately for him his more conservative family hid him until he was discovered towards the end of his life. Then add to the mix the Eisenhower's deal with Franco which assisted in further feeding the conservative structure.The best way I could sum it up is that it was a winner's complex not a losers complex, which is the reverse in the US.  The most that people on the left want, is to know what happened to family members that were disappeared. There's a monument here called the valley of Fallen, where Franco is buried. It was basically built by political prisoners of war, of course the losing side.  One of the other interesting differences is that 11M doesn't really have a Tea party counterpart.