This is an essay of interpretation of several important aspects of present-day Spain in light of its modern history as well as an interpretation of past stories in light of present-day Spain. Old troubles with remote origins persist in current Spain, including huge public debts, extensive corruption, widespread unlawfulness, oligarchical politics, territorial splits and permanent protests and riots. The basic argument in this book is that, in the long term, Spain missed the opportunity to become a consolidated modern nation-state because it was entangled in imperial adventures for several centuries instead of building solid domestic bases for further endeavors. In short, a ruinous empire made a weak state, which built an incomplete nation, which sustains a minority democracy.
The broad overview presented here includes summaries of several original researches by the author and new arguments and elaborations. I have also reviewed all the publications that I thought deserved to be reviewed and quote a selection of supporting observations, narratives or postulates from historians, political scientists, economists, sociologists and literary authors. The greatest intellectual debt, as the reader will observe, is with the always remembered Juan J. Linz, for his knowledge, analysis and insight as well as for the extraordinary bibliographic funds he donated to Georgetown University when I was holding the Prince of Asturias Spanish Chair in that institution. I hope some of my interpretations can motivate revisions of some conventional interpretations, and I wish they may become hypotheses for further research.
I am grateful to Tej P. S. Sood and the editorial team at Anthem Press, to the Spanish editors Jorge Herralde and Silvia Sesé, for support, sources, criticisms or suggestions to Laia Balcells, Ashley Beale, Lluís Bassets, John Carlin, Albert Carreras, Ángel Gil-Ordóñez, Blanca Heredia, Daniel Innerarity, Henry Kamen, Francisco LaRubia-Prado, César Molinas, J. J. Moreso, Leandro Prados de la Escosura, Cristina Sanz, Cynthia Soliman, Rocío De Terán, Joan Maria Thomàs, Enric Ucelay Da-Cal and Jenna Van Stelton, and for public comments on the Spanish edition to Jordi Amat, Óscar R. Buznego, Daniel Fernández, Enrique Gil-Calvo, Luis G. Esteban Manrique, César Martinelli, Javier Nogueira, Stanley G. Payne and the political scientists club Piedras de papel. Of course, all responsibility is mine.