Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Spain the High School Dropout

Clarissa has a short post on an analogy by one of her students, comparing Spain to a high school dropout:

After Spain expelled the Jews, it became similar to a high school dropout who constantly lags behind everybody else, can't keep up with any intelligent conversation, and has to do trivial things just to survive.

I am reminded of the rhetorical trope used by many rabbis in my youth that any country that expelled its Jews immediately went into decline. Spain (really Aragon and Castile) expelled its Jews and it fell from being a great power. Unfortunately for this theory 1492 was also in the year that Spain began its conquest of the New World. The wealth of the New World (particularly the world's largest silver mine in Peru) would eventually fund Spain's domination of the European continent for the next century.

Of course in an exercise of the power of unforeseen consequences, this conquest of the New World would eventually become the downfall of Spain, causing Spain to fail to industrialize. Worse, this wealth ended up strengthening the monarchy making it impervious to democratic reform (much as oil in Saudi Arabia protects the Saudi monarchy).

In the end I do think the Early Modern Spanish government can be compared to a modern high school dropout, not because it expelled its Jews, but in how it was corrupted by outside funding. Like the modern high school dropout who assumes that he can live off of public welfare, as if money could simply be produced, and has no incentive to knuckle down and get an education, the Spanish monarchy saw money as something that could just be produced out of the ground and never bothered to reform itself until it was too late.   

(See Secular Theodicy.)



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God Bless You :-)


no one said...

i think Spain took about a hundred years to fall after it expelled the Jews. It was doing Ok during the 1500's