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Here below is the article published by Luis Zaballa on the work of Elvira Roca, researcher of the Black Legend of the Spanish Empire: "A Story to be Revived". http://www.exteriores.gob.es/Portal/es/SalaDePrensa/Multimedia/Publicaciones/Documents/2017_ ANALISIS_11_ENG.PDF The opinions included in the following article may only be attributed to the authors and do not constitute official positions of the Spanish Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation. LUIS ZABALLA [email protected] ANALYSIS AND PREVIEW OFFICE ‘The future belongs to those with the longest memory,’ once wrote magnificently Friedrich Nietzsche. If such is the case, it is difficult to dodge the conclusion that Spain is facing a seriously compromised future. Few intellectuals are as aware of this danger as secondary school teacher Elvira Roca, the author of the audacious essay Imperiofobia y Leyenda Negra (Imperial Phobia and the Black Legend) (Siruela, 2016), which has received excellent reviews by critics and is currently in its fourth edition. What follows is an overview of the content, followed by a brief assessment. 1. The Concept of Imperial Phobia An understanding of the imperial phobia phenomenon first requires a clarification as to the concept of an empire, given a specific meaning by Ms Roca opposite the conventional idea of colonial dominance. She defines an empire in positive terms as the ‘inclusive expansion’ of a State which replicates itself to produce new political communities for its government institutions. It is further characterised by the biological and cultural blending of its people and the egalitarian treatment they receive, which enables a type of social mobility rarely possible in pre-existing political groups. In the end, an empire is a stable political construction destined to last over time due to the positive balance on the living conditions created. As soon as an empire gives less than what it takes, says Roca, its disintegration begins. In line with this definition and introducing the necessary nuances, the author recognises the Roman, Russian, US and Spanish ones as true empires, as reflected in the book’s subtitle (Rome, Russia, the United States and the Spanish Empire). However, she avoids calling the large British, French or Dutch powers empires as, according to her conception, they are simply colonial expansions in that they established a radical hierarchical relationship between the mother country and its colonies in virtue of which the latter were merely instruments used to serve the former. Those displaced in overseas territories lack any political rights in the mother land and the natives are excluded. Censuses conducted in French and English colonies, for example, only included the European settlers whereas Spanish Imperial censuses included the indigenous and creole populations. Based on this, she defines imperial phobia as a ‘prejudice of racist aetiology’ against ‘the people who come to be the backbone of an empire’. Therefore, it’s a form of racism that doesn’t strictly derive from differences in ‘colour’ or ‘religion’ although generally ‘supported by both’. The aim is to denigrate a national ‘lineage’ with the singularity that it does not arise out of the relative weakness of said lineage but rather its strength. It amounts to a rejection of a different population yet not perceived from above, but rather from below. Another distinctive feature of imperial phobia is its social acceptability, achieved through the recruitment of an intellectual class responsible for generating defamatory stories. Thanks to the work of this intelligentsia, such prejudice gains respect and becomes practically immune to empirical refutation, thereby ensuring it withstands over time 2. The Imperial Phobia of Other Empires Rome appears as the first empire subject of defamatory literature or, at least, as the first empire capable of detecting it and manifesting its intention and procedures. Quite illustrious was the work by historian Sallust, who, based on the hostile writings of Mitridate- a sort of Viriathus of the Black Sea- identified some of the ‘clichés’ of anti-Roman imperial phobia that would be recurrently reproduced in later empires. One of these ‘clichés’ was that of ‘bad blood’ or a ‘lack of pedigree’. Unlike the Greeks, who came from the gods themselves, the Romans originated from the abduction of the Sabine Women, which reflected them as the descendants of evildoers. Another of these clichés was the ‘impiety’ by which the Romans did not respect anything divine or human in the conquered territories. They were accused of being indifferent to local religious and political traditions, replacing theocratic monarchies with an imperial administration lacking any traditional legitimacy. Another cliché is that of the ‘unconscious empire’, according to which the Roman imperial building would have resulted from an accumulation of favourable circumstances and not any intellectual or moral merit. One moderate version of this cliché acknowledged the Romans had a special ability to make war but denied them any other political or cultural virtue. Even militarily, their power only came from their cruelty and bloody nature and not their value or organisational power. As far as US imperial phobia, the author pinpoints its origin to the theory of the biological degeneration of New World species, initially formulated by naturalist Buffon and disseminated by propagandist Cornelius de Pauw in order to devalue the American hemisphere. The thesis was later reinforced by the scientific racism of authors of the likes of Arthur de Gobineau, according to whom, humans would degenerate due to the effect of racial mixing, something that would be particularly affecting the USA where the superior Anglo-Saxon and Nordic race was supposedly mixing with inferior European races and inevitably creating populations of no intelligence or beauty. Clearly, it was a variant of the cliché of bad blood which would eventually extend to the cultural arena, reflecting the USA as a desert civilisation. The defamation instrument chosen in this case were travel books in which English authors such as Frances Trollope or the very Charles Dickens saw to creating the stereotype—which is well-grounded at present— of Americans as ‘tacky, ignorant… and hyper-materialistic’ people. Finally, Russian imperial phobia unfolded in three different phases: During the first phase, which began in the 17th century, the European powers deprived of any overseas expansion planned to divide up the Russian territory among themselves in the belief that their people were not really European. And, thus arose the proverb ‘Scratch a Russian and you will find a Tartar’, which was used as a stimulant for the territorial distribution. The planning thereof was curiously enough handled by German philosopher Gottfried Leibniz, although the project was frustrated by Russia’s resurgence at the hands of Peter the Great. In the second phase, essentially boosted by the French Enlightenment in the 18th century, there was an attempt at the intellectual patronage of France on Russia based on the new concept of ‘civilisation’ which, in practice, was understood as that which the French had, and the Russians did not. And from there, there arose a plan for political domination grounded on the new idea of the Russian danger. To give credit to the idea, one recurrent technique of imperial phobia was used – the fabrication of self-incriminatory documents. In this case, it was the false Will of Peter the Great, which was widely disseminated by Napoleon in an effort to demonstrate that—failing preventive action—Europe would become ‘Russia’s booty’. The preventive action materialised years later with the invasion of Russia and the now well-known results. During the third phase, which was activated during the 19th century upon the Crimean War, a campaign was organised by the English press through which a stereotype was created depicting Russians as aggressive and ignorant with the caricature of the fierce Russian bear as the symbol. An article on the cover of The Times eloquently began with the following sentences: ‘The policy of Russia has long been impregnated with the spirit of the deadly hostility to England’.