By Alejandro Quiroga (auth.)
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Extra resources for Making Spaniards: Primo de Rivera and the Nationalization of the Masses, 1923–30
The empire in America was seen as the extension of the Spanish military spirit to the New World. For the army, the empire of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries represented the peak of national grandeur, when Spaniards had successfully defended European Christianity against the Ottomans and expanded civilization to the Americas. 30 It was this imperial rhetoric of Spain as protector of civilization that the Military Directory used to justify the persistence of the colonial adventure in Northern Africa.
Following the ideas of Cánovas and Menéndez Pelayo, Ángel Herrera, the Propagandists’ leader, considered nations to be the work of God in History. In his view, Spain was a ‘moral unity’ historically framed by the monarchy and the Church under providential supervision. Equally, Herrera considered liberal democracy not to suit Spain; first, because sovereignty was believed to lie ultimately in God, and, second, due to the fact that Spain’s social and territorial disparities were thought to be too big for implementing a real universal suffrage without dangers.
The two decades that followed the ‘Disaster’ of 1898 definitively changed Spanish nationalism in terms of discourse and social scope. Ideologically, both the traditionalist and the liberal canons were reformulated. The former became increasingly martial, clerical, Pan-Hispanic and anti-liberal, and developed a deep hostility towards peripheral nationalism and the organized working class. Political parties, intellectuals, the armed forces, conservative newspapers, and a plethora of organizations generally related to the Church constructed a new Spanish nationalism in a siege situation.