The eminent hispanicist, Stanley G. Payne visited the Villaviciosa de Odón Campus on Tuesday, February 6 to give a lecture on “Spain in the 21st century.” The US historian joined the President of theSpanish Transition Foundation, Rafael Arias-Salgado, as guest speaker, in analyzing historical matters such as the Spanish Transition, the Catalonia situation and the challenges faced by Spain in 2018, among others.
The historian, who recently received the 2017 Espasa prize for his work “En defensa de España: desmontando mitos y leyendas negras (In defense of Spain: debunking myths and black legends),” dedicated much of his speech to analyzing the current Catalan crisis. In this regard, he stated that “radical Catalanism represents the modern-day version of Catalonia’s historical turmoil,” while “for present-day Catalanism, the ongoing victim mentality is ideal, because it allows the prosperous Catalans to be portrayed as victims of a repressive Spain,” he added before an auditorium seating more than 200 members of the university community.
As for the challenges faced by modern-day Spain, he classed Spain’s situation as “paradoxical,” undergoing a political crisis “that may be constitutional,” despite experiencing an economic upturn. As an expert, he believes that “for some parties, the solution is the creation of a Federal State, which is something ardent Catalanists would never accept, as it would entail similar conditions for everyone, and is thus a structural problem that we would have to ‘live with’,” in allusion to the words of José Ortega y Gasset.
The event was also a time to reflect on what the Spanish Transition meant for Spanish society, thanks to the presence of the President of the Spanish Transition Foundation, Rafael Arias-Salgado, who introduced the achievements made since 1978 to mark the 40th anniversary of the Spanish Constitution. Arias-Salgado insisted that “40 years of Constitution cannot be called into question by political groups who are characterized by their constitutional disloyalty.” Payne, for his part, defended the Spanish Transition, and said of those calling it into question, that “it should not be criticized for its mistakes, but rather for its successes; because it was too democratic and non-partisan.”