"It profits me but little that a vigilant authority always protects the tranquillity of my pleasures and constantly averts all dangers from my path, without my care or concern, if this same authority is the absolute master of my liberty and my life."

--Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America

Monday, March 4, 2013

The Spanish Civil War - Past and Future

I'm reading Anthony Beevor's history of the Spanish Civil War.   It is a shocking story, well-told, of an explosion in violence in Spain "caused" (if that's the right word) by a set of issues that seemed to come to tipping points at the same moment in the 1930s -- the conflict between forces of traditionalism (the Church, the military, the large landowners) and modernity; class conflict between workers and the "bourgeoisie" and the few rich in a very poor country; and a long-term conflict over many centuries between a central government in Madrid and regional aspirations for autonomy of the Basque and Catalan-speaking peoples.   All were exacerbated by the world-wide Depression in the early 1930s, and the ratcheting up of political rhetoric between right and left, a tendency to demonize political opponents as apostates, and to sensationalize real and imagined atrocities for propaganda purposes, creating a cycle of vengeance.  

This sounds awfully familiar.   That's why reports like these are so scary:

Spain's jobless hits record 5 million in February

MADRID (AP) -- Spain now has a record five million people registered as unemployed as the country remains stuck in recession.

The Labor Ministry said Monday that the number of people on the unemployment list in February jumped by 59,444 compared with January, making for a total of 5.04 million.

Spain is battling to emerge from its second recession in just over three years with its economy still reeling from the collapse of the once-booming real estate sector.

The country's unemployment rate was at 26 percent at the end of the fourth quarter.
Young men without jobs tend to do bad things.   That's a very simple truism, but no less true for being so.   We ignore it at our peril in thinking about foreign policy (Egypt unemployment at 74% for people under 30), and we ignore it at our peril thinking about our inner cities (Detroit unemployment among black youths at 80% plus).  

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