The havoc that a certain conception of history continues to cause on the type of gaze we direct towards the past stands out in the question of the colonization of America and in the recurring polemics that originate around it. Perhaps the most representative sample of the extent to which all this teaching of “History” does not rest on anything other than what Ferlosio called “authentic comic school literature” was offered by that boutade that Aznar was kind enough to give us when, in 1987, seeing himself in the position of having to choose a historical figure whom he admired, he opted for none other than El Cid, a particularly cruel mercenary from the 11th century and, not happy with the feat, He did not hesitate to pose, up on the tower of a Valladolid castle, disguised of something resembling a medieval knight.
Almost certainly, Aznar came to mind El Cid because what he had suckled since he was a child – and what undoubtedly continues to shape his moral universe – is that Rodrigo Díaz de Vivar was a hero of the “history of Spain”. But neither was El Cid anything other than a sort of soldier of fortune in the pay of both Christian and Muslim princes, nor did “Spain” exist in the 11th century, nor, above all, even though it had existed and although the Cid had been one of its most successful military, it is difficult to understand what is meritorious about that when one is not inoculated as a cover-up – disguised as “history” – a national-militarist mythology so obviously childish and morally hollow that it remains unscathed if – with identical deeds, battles, discoveries , feats and insurmountable victories – one changes “Spain” for “France” or for “Italy” or for “Turkey” or for “Thailand” or for “Euskal-Herria”. That the toy continues to function perfectly regardless of the name of the subject reveals the extent to which in this type of “story” the substance is not the actions, susceptible to greater or lesser morality, of the different agents that populate the story, but the protagonist subject himself, who is never the people, but always “the nation.” And the nation neither understands nor can understand morality, since morality, in the nationalist conception of the past, is completely subjected to its service.
Certainly, that grotesque chirigota of Aznar occurred in 1987, and one would assume that the current teaching of history will have little to do with the lessons that the future president, as a child, would have internalized from his desk at the El Pilar school back in the years 60 of the last century. I am not saying, God forbid, that progress has not been made with respect to Franco’s trash – not especially worse in this regard, I suspect, than previous trash – but the advance has not been what one might have expected. The official curriculum of the subject of “History of Spain”, second year of high school, talks about “our past”, but here it starts in the Paleolithic. Are the men and women who lived in the Altamira caves 15,000 years ago really in some minimally coherent sense more “Spanish”, and therefore more part of “our past”, than those who lived some 300 kilometers to the northeast, in Duruthy cave, which today turns out to be French territory? Who are the “we” of that “our past”? It is still heard everywhere that Seneca and Trajano “were born in Spain”, when not, directly, that they were both “Spanish”. Perhaps what we should consider teaching our children is not history “of Spain”, but history of humanity. Replace history – always national – by something akin to anthropology. Study human beings, subjects of what we call morality and therefore responsible and victims of their very diverse customs, beliefs, achievements and infamies; and banish from our gaze the nations, protagonists of what we call, thus with capital letters, “History”, which only understands greatness and its corresponding tributes in death and sacrifices. Hegel, the greatest corrupter of the contemplation of the past that times have known, synthesized it perfectly when he wrote that bloody barbarity: “history is not the place of happiness. Happy periods are white pages.”
Yes, to all the Spaniards – and not the Spaniards, because the evil of history I am afraid that it is planetary, global, urbi et orb – they have put us in our heads, dressed in “culture”, “erudition” and “knowledge”, similar intellectual farragon, it is not surprising that not a few citizens, when asked about the colonization of America, assume with the greatest naturalness the set of indigestible subterfuges that usually configure the menu of the justification that it should be commemorated , but to be commemorated, that is, to be celebrated in some sense).
One of them, which is frightening out of sheer absurdity, is configured by the fact that millions of our neighbors consider, at the same time and without a hint of contradiction, that the colonization of America was something good and positive for the progress of those cursed and wrong Indians. , but that, on the contrary, the Spaniards who on May 2 rose up against Napoleon’s Frenchified and enlightened empire offered the greatest service to the country; or that, while in Viriato a whole Hispanic martyr of the resistance against the Romans can be admired, Tupac Amaru was nothing more than a miserable traitor. Up to that point, without their suspecting it, it is not they who think, but it is the nation that has educated them that dictates what they should think.