Why Spain matters
Apologies for not updating this blog more frequently. Susana & I have had to delay our return to New York from Spain, due to unforeseen complications in the work we're doing in Spain, and these have taken up most of our time. Fortunately, Spain is a wonderful place to be stuck, and great things are happening here now that most Americans may not be aware of. I hope to write in the next few days notes on each of the following themes, three ways in which Spain matters to all of us:

I. Spain in the world balance of power: This country has finally recovered from the gross underdevelopment fostered by the Franco regime and is now the 3rd or 4th power in Europe, after Germany, France and (if it considers itself part of Europe) the UK. Since the elections of March 14, its shift from the pro-Bush side of the scale to the Franco-German side strengthens Europe as a potential counterpower to the world's only superpower. This I regard as a very good thing. Under Aznar, as an unconditional ally of the US, Spain had no independent voice and was simply begging for crumbs, because Spain's power is negligible as seen from Washington. In Europe Spain is more nearly equal to its allies and will have a real voice.

II. Spain as a linchpin in the Hispanic world, and that world's main link to Europe: For practical as well as sentimental reasons, Spain is connected to all those countries where colonists, conquistadores and frailes have carried her language. Now, with the Spanish economy stable and growing, and its rule of law more firmly established than anywhere in the Americas (especially the U.S., currently the great international scofflaw), Spain plays an important role in the consolidation of the entire tricontinental Spanish'speaking world, economically, juricially and culturally. I hope to tell you more about this relationship, which is growing and strengthening all of Hispanolandia.

III. Spain as a laboratory for remaking a democracy for the 21st century: This is really the most fascinating new phenomenon. The PSOE (Partido Socialista Obrero Español) under José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero and the men and women he's brought into the central government (for the first time ever, Spain has as many women as men among government ministers) is seriously rethinking and remaking what "socialism" means today. Zapatero is particularly taken with the theories of Philip Pettit, the Irish political theorist of "republicanism" (which is not at all what U.S. Republicans stand for), ideas of liberty that are also congruent with the economics of liberation of Amartya Sen. More on this soon.

I hope to hear from some of you about these (or other) issues. Let me know your doubts, questions, quibbles or tirades. Just punch the contact link at left.

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