of the most wide-spread errors which exist to-day is the belief in
a Latin race. The traditional idea is that southwestern Europe is
Latin; that France, Italy, Spain, and Portugal are sister nations
inhabited by peoples of kindred blood. This idea has, to be sure,
strongly influenced the course of European politics on many occasions;
and yet it is a delusion. The truth of the matter is that there is
no such thing as a Latin race, but that, on the contrary, the so-called
Latin peoples differ widely from one another in racial make-up. In
a previous chapter we observed the racially composite character of
France. In the present chapter we shall examine the racial make-ups
of Italy, Spain, and Portugal and shall note the practical consequences.
these countries from the racial angle, the first thing that strikes
our notice is the fact that in all three countries a large proportion
of the population belongs to the Mediterranean race-the slender) dark-complexioned
stock which thousands of year.s ago occupied the'.lands bordering
the Mediterranean Sea and has ever since re¬mained the most numerous
element in those regions. However) we should note two things: in the
first place, we must not confuse the terms "Mediterranean"
and "Latin"; in the second place, we must realize that the
original Mediterranean stock has been greatly modified
during its long history, so that it has come to
vary widely at different times and in different places.
usage of the words " Mediterranean" and "Latin"
has caused endless confusion, and the distinction between the meaning
of the two terms must be clearly
understood before the actual state of affairs in southwestern Europe
can be appreciated. The term "Mediterranean" has a purely
racial meaning and, refers as already stated, to the slender, dark-complexioned
stock which, in very ancient times, settled the lands about the Mediterranean
Sea and also pushed northward across France to the British Isles,
where it still survives, especially in Wales and Ireland. The word
"Latin;" on the other hand, is not a racial but a historical
and cultural term harking back to Roman days. Central Italy was the
Roman homeland, and with the growth of Roman power the Latin language
and Latin culture spread over southwestern Europe. Not merely all
Italy, but also France, Spain, and Portugal were thoroughly Latinized,
and to-day the peoples of those countries speak tongues and possess
cultures alike derived from the old Latin source.
these similar languages and cultures are ties making for sympathetic
understanding among the southwest European peoples. And yet their
significance most not be overestimated. History proves conclusively
that such ties do not bind beyond a certain degree unless reinforced
by the subtler yet closer tie of kindred blood. That is the reason
why observers who disregard the racial factor-are so continually fooled.
Judged merely by speech and culture, the peoples of Southwestern Europe
seem well fitted for close and harmonious association. Accord-
i ngly, political prophets have often preached the doctrine of Latin
fraternity and have advocated Pan-Latinism -- in other words, a league
yet despite all such eloquent preaching Pan-Latinism just doesn't
take place. Thereason, of course, is that the doctrine is based on
a delusion -- the delusion of confusing likeness in speech and manners
with kinship in blood. The peoples of Southwestern Europe differ from
one another in racial make-up far more widely than is usually imagined,
and these racial differences largely counteract the ties of culture
gets to know the Latin peoples well discovers one thing as curious
as it is significant. This is the fact that the more these peoples
are thrown together the less they like one another. So long as their
contacts are merely superficial, so long as they exchange courtesies
or read one another's books, feeling of friendly similarity tends
to arise. But let them come into intimate contact, and the chances
are that they will quickly and instinctively discover marked temperamental
differences which will be more apt to drive them apart than to draw
them together. This is particularly the case with Frenchmen and their
southern neighbors. But it is also true in lesser degree as between
Italians and Spaniards, and even as between Spaniards and Portuguese.
In every case a study of the facts will bring to light differences
in racial make-up which account for the temperamental differences
that exist between the so-called Latin peoples.
course, the presence of a large Mediterranean element in the populations
of Italy, Spain, and Portugal creates between those peoples a blood
is almost wholly absent as between them and the French, who are mainly
Alpine or Nordic in race, with very little Mediterranean blood. In
this basic sense, therefore, Italy, Spain, and Portugal can be considered
as formmg a block of kindred peoples which may be classed together
as the Mediterranean south of Europe. However, as already remarked,
these three peop1es are racially much less alike than they superficIally
appear, and a just estimate lof their respective situations can be
gained only by viewing them separately, as we will now undertake to
is by far the most important .nation in southern Europe. The mediaeval
might of Spain has lonh passed, while the short-lived glory of Portugal
is but a dim memory. Italy however recently emerged from centuries
of eclipse, has forged her political unity, mcreased her material
prosperity, and to-day displays a spontaneous vigor which augurs well
for her future.
long peninsula of Italy juts out from the.mass of Continental Europe
far to the southward, bestriding the waters of the Mediterranean Sea
and through its Island appendage of Sicily almost touching North Africa.
Italy is long and narrow in shape, its fancied resemblance to a jack-boot
being a geographical commonplace. Including its island dependencies;
Sicily and Sardinia, Italy's area is about 118,000 square miles. On
this area lives a population of nearly 40,000,000 rapidly increasmg
is a well-defined geographical unit. Sundered from the European land
mass by the massive rampart of the Alps, and washed elsewhere by the
sea, Italy's boundaries are clearly traced by nature. This natural
has been enough to insure the impress of a common language and culture
upon all the inhabitants of the peninsula. It has not, however, been
enough to keep out numerous foreign influences. The mountain chain
of the Alps is broken by passes through, which invading host have
often poured. Also, the seas which bound Italy are narrow and easily
crossed from the opposite shores. In fact Italy has for ages been
racially modified by two contrasted streams of incoming population,
one entering the country through the Alpine passes of the north, the
other descending upon its southern coasts from lands to the eastward
or from North Africa. This is the basic reason for. those pronounced
racial distinctions which characterize the Italian people to-day.
factor making for racial diversity is Italy's internal geography.
The peninsula itself is mainly mountainous, thus breaking up the land
surface into many small districts separated from one another. Only
in the north is there a really large stretch of plain country -- the
broad valley of the Po. These two geographical factors together give
the key to Italy's racial history.
as in the past, Italy is divided into two sharply contrasted regions,
inhabited by populations of a very dIfferent character. To the north
lies the rich Po valley a natural magnet for invaders from beyond
the Alps. To the southward stretches the narrow and mountainous peninsula,
becoming ever more rugged and broken, relatively unattractive and
inaccessible to landward penetration from the north, yet open to landings
from the sea.
are now able to understand Italy's racial history, which has followed
closely the lines traced by nature.
The earliest inhabitants of any lasting significance were the Mediterraneans,
the slender, dark-complexioned people who entered the peninsula many
thousands of years ago, coming apparently both from the eastward through
the Balkans and from the southward by way of Northern Africa. Settling
the entire peninsula, together with its island appendages, Sicily
and Sardinia, they made Italy for a while a solidly Mediterranean
however, their title to sole ownership was challenged. Through the
Alpine passes to the north began to flow that succession of invasions
which has so profoundly modified Italy's destiny. At first these invaders
were men of the round-headed, thick-set Alpine race, who gradually
conquered the Po valley, expelling or absorbing the Mediterraneans
and turning Northern Italy into the predominantly Alpine land which
it has ever since remained. Later on, tall, blond Nordics crossed
the Alps, conquering the mixed Alpine and Mediterranean populations
of Northern/Italy, and establishing themselves as ruling aristocracies.
In time these mixed tribes under Nordic leadership pushed southward,
modifyrng the racial make-up of Central Italy, but rarely penetrating
to the extreme south, which remained almost solidly Mediterranean
is the leading example of the peoples which arose as the outcome of
these prehistoric migrations. The Roman people in its early days was
clearly of diverse racial origin. Like most of the great peoples of
antiquity, it was composed of a ruling aristocracy differing sharply
in race from the mass of the population. The Roman patricians, the
ruling class, were apparently Nor-
dics with a perceptible dash of Alpine blood. This is clear from the
busts which have come down to us, most of which show plainly Nordic
-- sometimes startlingly Anglo-Saxon -- features, combined with a
broadish head betraying an Alpine strain.
predominantly Nordic racial make-up of the Roman ruling class is made
equally clear by a study of the Roman temperament, which was plainly
Nordic in its political and military ability, love of order and stern
devotion to duty; yet also showed an Alpine cross by its rigidity,
limited vision, and lack of creative imagination. The Roman plebians
seem to have been mainly Mediterraneans, steadied by a fairly strong
Alpine infusion and with a few Nordic traces.
is interesting to observe how sharp was the consciousness of racial
differences between the two orders of society in early Rome. The patricians
-- as Nordic aristocracies have always done -- long kept the purity
of their blood by stern prohibition of intermarriage with the plebeians,
thus maintaining their hold upon the state and impressmg their spirit
so deeply upon Roman institutions and customs that their ideals persisted
long after the patrician class had lost its Nordic character
nature of the old Roman spirit needs to be emphasIzed because it has
been so widely misunderstood. The prevailing idea is that the early
Romans were small, dark people -- in other words, Mediterraneans.
This is a serious error, because it misinterprets the very source
of Latin civilizasation. As a matter of fact, a glance at Roman ideals
and mstitutions shows that these were patently Nordic wIth Alprne
modifications. The truth is that down
to the fall of the republic -- when Rome ceased to be racially Roman
-- the spirit of Roman society was emphatically un-Mediterranean.
To think of the stern, practical, unimaginative Roman patrician as
a typical Mediterranean is nothing short of ludicrous. It would have
been clean against the Mediterranean race soul, which, wherever found
in anything like racial purity, whether in ancient Greece or in modern
Ireland, is always basically the same.
find the Mediterranean spirit in ancient Italy we must look, not to
Rome, but to those states of southern Italy and Sicily which were
Rome's early rivals. Here, indeed, we discover the Mediterranean soul
at its best -- its artistic gifts, its hot emotions, its quick imagination,
its love of form, color, and life; here also we find that extreme
individualism and political instability which have ever been Mediterranean
weaknesses and which brought southern Italy under Roman rule.
Roman period needs to be examined not only because it set an indelible
stamp upon Italian ideals and culture but also because it produced
changes in the Italian population. Modern Italy can, in fact, be understood
only in connection with the Roman past.
legacy of Rome was both good and evil. Rome made Italy for centuries
the centre of the world and bequeathed a wealth of glorious memories
which must ever stir Italian hearts. To-day, as in other days, Italians
are steeped in the Roman tradition, and Italian leaders from Rienzi
to Mussolini turn naturally to ancient Rome for inspiration. The Fascisti,
with their legions, their classic
salute, and their symbol of the fasces -- the ax bound with rods --
are indulging in no vain theatricalities; these things are the instinctive
expressions of a people with whom old Rome is still a burning memory.
is the bright side of Rome's legacy to modern Italy. Yet there is
a darker side. Rome, though mistress of the world, dealt the Italian
homeland wounds which fester through the ages. The evil aspects of
Roman society, the drain of foreign conquests and civil strife, the
curse of slavery -- these and other baneful factors impoverished and
degenerated the population not only of Rome itself but of all Italy,
so that when the Roman Empire finally fell it left behind an exhausted,
enfeebled stock, unable either to carry on the traditions of Roman
civilization or to defend itself against its enemies. For centuries
Italy became a mere geographical expression, the helpless prey of
deep and lasting was the racial damage suffered by the south. Northern
and Central Italy gradually recovered energy and ability, owing both
to the virtality surviving in the native stock and to the incoming
of superior new blood. But the population of southern Italy and Sicily
was so thoroughly drained and degenerated during Roman times that
it has ever since been inferior in quality. Here, as in some other
parts of the Mediterranean, basin, the Mediterranean stock to-day
ranks below its level in ancient times. The early Mediterranean inhabitants
of Southern Italy and Sicily were vigorous, gifted peoples, who produced
gracious, colorful civilizations.
civilizatIons, however, faded out in a cycle of
strife ending in Roman rule. The south fell on evil days. The countryside
passed into the hands of Roman land speculators who parcelled it out
into great estates --latifundia -- worked by gangs of slaves
mostly drawn from inferior Asiatic and African stocks. The dwindling
remnants of the native population crowded into the cities, became
pauperized proletarians, and intermarried with freed slaves and nondescript
immigrants, also largely drawn from the Levant and North Africa. It
is from this population of later Roman times that the modern South
Italians and Sicilians mainly descend. In them the presence of Asiatic
and North African strains is to-day plainly visible, these strains
having been not only implanted in Roman times but further reinforced
during the Middle Ages, especially in the period when Southern Italy
and Sicily fell under Saracen rule.
happier was the course of events in Northern and Central Italy. To
begin with, these regions were not racially impoverished during the
Roman period to anything like the same extent as' the south, while
comparatively little admixture of inferior Levantine and North African
elements took place. Furthermore, the fall of Rome was accompanied
by a series of barbarian invasions, which, however destructive at
the time, brought in much good new blood. These invaders were mostly
Nordics, and the Nordic stream from beyond the Alps continued to flow
for centuries, leavening the populations of Northern and Central Italy
with Nordic energy and creative ability.
growing vigor of the Northern Italian stock presently displayed itself
by the rise of strong city states like Venice and Florence, and by
a splendid outburst of ar-
tistic and literary ability crowned by geniuses like Dante, Michelangelo,
and Raphael. It is true that the constant civil wars and foreign invasions
which afflicted Italy down to recent times killed out much of the
best stock, so that the population of Northern and Central Italy to-day
is not the equal of the population five centuries ago. Still, the
present population of these regions is unquestionably a good stock,
physically sound and revealing its latent qualities by its ability
to produce strong, gifted personalities.
rise of modern Italy to political unity and material prosperity during
the past century was made possible largely by a series of remarkable
leaders like Mazzini, Garibaldi, and Cavour; while the present Fascist
movement has brought to the front a number of distinctly able men,
culminating in the extraordinary dynamic figure of Mussolini.
all these Italian movements, from the Middle Ages to the present day,
one basic fact is strikingly clear -- the startling difference between
north and south. Almost everything worth while comes from Northern
and Central Italy. The south contributes practically nothing of value.
Of the few men of ability which the south has given to modern Italy,
the majority were descended from Northern ancestry.
who has travelled in Italy realizes the sudden change which takes
place south of Rome. Rome is,. indeed, the dividing line between two
sharply contrasted regions. Northward are progress and prosperity;
southward lie backwardness and poverty. This is precisely what the
racial situation would lead us to expect. The
two halves of Italy are inhabited by very different breeds or men.
The northern half contains the best of the old Mediterranean stock,
plus a strong Alpine element and a considerable leavening of Nordic
blood. The southern half is peopled by a racially impoverished Mediterranean
stock, long since drained of its best strains and in places mongrelized
by inferior Levantine and African elements.
recognizing the peculiarities in Italy's racial make-up, by realizing
the wide differences which exist not merely between specific racial
elements in the population but also between the characters of similar
racial stocks in different regions, we can get a far clearer idea
of the course of Italian national life than would otherwise be possible,
while much that at first sight seems strange becomes understandable.
Italy at last became a united nation half a century ago, she was faced
by a multitude of problems requiring delicate handling and special
treatment. In the economic field Italy has been, distinctly successful.
Although primarily an agricultural country, Italy has, nevertheless,
built up a prosperous industrial system -- of course, in the north
-- despite the handicaps imposed by lack of coal and other raw materials.
Socially, Italy has also progressed, the general level of well-being,
education, and other social factors being markedly higher in the north
and distinctly better even in the backward south.
most serious difficulties have been in the field of politics. To forge
a real national state out of such diverse and long-sundered elements
was a herculean task. Particularly difficult was the creation of political
institutions congenial to the Italian character. Certainly the course
of Italian political life has hitherto left much to be desired.
started out with a set of political institutions modelled on the parliamentary,
democratic ideals of England and France. But this borrowed system
did not prove a brilliant success. Once the patriotic fervor of the
first days had died away, Italian political life was controlled by
a caste of professional politicians who gradually evolved a system
known as trasformismo -- a sublimated "pork barrel"
which ate the heart out of Italian political life. Behind resounding
party platforms and fine phrases the professional politicians framed
deals and made elections keeping one eye on the people and the other
on the treasury. When public opinion got too much aroused there would
be an election and a change of government; but this really meant little
more than a shuffie of political offices among different gangs of
the same professional crowd. The situation was further complicated
by the fact that there were, not two well-defined political parties
as in America, but a number of political groups, so that ministries
were usually formed from blocs, bound together more by the desire
to get office than to do anything constructive once they were in power.
The upshot was that Italian politcal life was wasteful, inefficient,
and, above all, purposeless. As for the general public, contInually.duped
as it was by this political shell game, it became increasingly bored
and disgusted with the whole business -- which was just what the professional
politicians wanted, as lack of public interest left them a freer hand
to play their political games.
the years just preceding the Great War, to be sure.
signs of vigorous popular discontent began to appear. This was best
shown by the rise of several new political groups which stood frankly
outside the old political. system, and possessed genuine programmes
of action instead of mere party phrases. The most forceful of these
new groups were the Syndicalists, who wanted a social revolution,
and the Nationalists, who demanded a strong, imperialistic foreign
policy which should make Italy a greater power in the world. Bitterly
hostile to each other though they were, Syndicalists and Nationalists
alike condemned trasformismo and preached the need of political
realities. However, they were but minorities controlling few electoral
seats, and so had little direct effect on Italian parliamentary life.
came the war. After grave setbacks, Italy emerged victorious, only
to have her aspirations disappointed at the peace settlement. Exhausted,
disillusioned, and exasperated, Italy fell a prey to internal disorders
which threatened civil war or revolution. The old political caste,
which had badly mismanaged the war, proved quite unable to face the
crisis at home. Things went from bad to worse. A succession of weak
governments did nothing but temporize and play petty politics. Italy
seemed on the verge of chaos.
came -- Fascismo! A small but determined minority headed by able leaders,
chief among them Mussolini, banded themselves together, fought and
defeated the Bolshevik elements who were planning a social revolution,
then turned upon the government -- which had been supinely looking
on -- overthrew it and established a frank dictatorship. For nearly
two years Mussolini and his
Fascist Blackshirts have been the undisputed masters of Italy.
the material results of Fascist rule the world is passably acquainted.
The order, efficiency, and prosperity which it has brought to Italy
are well known. What is not so well known, however, is the spirit
of Fascismo and the exact character of its ideals. Fully to appreciate
Fascismo's significance one must go to Italy and meet personally the
Fascist leaders. To do so is a rare and stimulating experience. In
present-day Italy one immediately gets a sense of freshness and vitality.
People are thinking frankly and acting boldly. Theory and precedent
are disregarded in favor of natural impulse and common sense.
think of Fascismo as a mere reaction against Bolshevik plots and governmental
weakness is to miss utterly its real spirit and its larger meaning.
Fascismo goes much deeper than that. It is nothing less than a vivid
and vital outpouring of the Italian spirit, seeking to forge new institutions
and new ideals in harmony with the mind and soul of the Italian people.
That is what gives it both its present strength and its lasting significance.
Specific acts of the Fascist government may be wise or unwise; the
whole Fascist regime may be but a pioneering venture,
destined soon to evolve into something quite different; nevertheless,
all this does not touch the basic fact that Fascismo has set a stamp
upon Italian life and thought which will endure.
kernel of Fascist philosophy is realism. Probably the Fascist spokesmen
will object to my use of the word "philosophy"; because
so sternly realistic are the Fasci-
sti that they deny having any such thing. Having theories as they
do, they strive to keep their minds from crystallizing around general
ideas. Instead, they seek to face specific situations as these arise,
to judge them from the observed facts of the case and to deal with
them in the light of common sense. Precedent, consistency, logic --
these things are, in Fascist eyes, mere nonsense. In fact the Fascisti
claim that it is just because of undue reverence for such things that
not merely Italy but the world in general is where it is to-day. Accordmg
to the Fascisti, the world has long been going on a wrong tack. For
the past century or more, say the Fascisti, we have become increasingly
obsessed by theoretical abstractions condensed into phrases or single
words which we have set up like idols and to which we have superstitiously
some of our present-day Idols. Their names are Democracy, Liberty,
Equality, Rights, Parhamentary Government, and more besides. Look
at them closely. What do they really mean? In themselves, they mean
nothing Theoretical abstractions that they are, they have no concrete
significance. Yet there they sit sit, like gods in a heathen temple,
paralyzing the creative thought and energy of mankind! Before them
we meekly lay our problems.
this not so? Look you! A situation confronts us. What do we do? Do
we study the special facts of the case and then act according to those
facts in the light of our common sense? We may do this in our prIvate
hves, but we rarely do so in public matters. Instead, we seek the
will of our idols! In other words, we try to find a
solution which shall be "democratic" or
which may not offend such "sacred principles" as liberty
arrant nonsense!" cries Facismo. "And what dangerous nonsense,
too! Such idolatrous blindness gets us nowhere; or, rather, lands
us in a bog of troubles.
Therefore, "down with our idols! Down with Democracy! Down with
Equality! Out with the word `Rights' -- save, perchance, when coupled
with the word 'Duties'! Sweep these false gods into the dust-bin along
with the other fallen idols of the past! Thus, and thus only, may
we clear our vision, free our common sense and regain the path of
is the uncompromising realism of Fascismo. The Fascisti have, indeed,
the courage of their convictions. No" established institutions"
for them. Relentlessly they ask: "Does it work? Is it efficient?
Is it suited to our people?" And if the answer is no -- out it
same is true of ideas. Mussolini's special publication is called Gerarchia.
Significant name! "Gerarchia" is the Italian word for "hierarchy,"
and in its pages we find a theory of society which flouts the doctrines
of democracy and equality in no uncertain fashion. Instead of preaching
men's equality, Gerarchia stresses their inequality. Men
being thus unequal, democracy, in the ordinary sense of the word,
is an absurdity. Mussolini's ideal social structure takes the form,
not of a level plain, but of a towering pyramid. He glimpses a society
in which individuals will be ranked according to their natural capacities
For even their most cherished ideals the Fascisti insist upon a realistic
basis. For example,
the Fascisti are noth-
ing if not patriotic; the power and glory of Italy are ever in their
minds. And yet their patriotism is neither mystic nor sentimental;
on the contrary, it is rooted in realism. I well recall a discussion
I had on this point with one of the Fascist leaders. The talk turned
on the nature of Italian 'nationalism.
will explain to you," 'said the Fascist leader, "how our
nationalism differs from the nationalism of most other peoples. Elsewhere
you will find nationalism largely based upon abstract rights and historical
precedents. We Fascisti disregard all this as beside the point. For
us there are no abstract :rights -- not even the right of a nation
to bare existence. A nation,.like an individual, must deserve its
existence -- and must continue to deserve it. For example, we Fascisti
do not claim that our Italy acquires any special rights because, on
this geographical area, there was a Rome, a Cinquecento,
a Risorgimento; because its soil nourished a Dante or a Julius
Cresar. No, our belief in Italy's present and future greatness rests
upon what we living Italians are, do, and will do."
words, these -- and very refreshing to one who, like myself, had recently
been in Central Europe'and the Balkans, where I had listened to long,
labored nationalist arguments often based upon a conquest by King
So-and-So or a victory of General What's-His-Name, gained perhaps
many generations before.
bold spirit and confident optimism of the Fascisti undoubtedly spring
in great part from the fact that Fascismo is emphatically a young
man's movement. Not for nothing does Fascismo's inspiring marching
song begin with the words, "Giovanezza! Giovanezza!" - "Youth!
Youth!" Fascismo has swept old-line politicians and bureaucrats
wholesale into the discard. Mussolini himself is only forty, while
few of the Fascisti leaders are more than forty-five ..
already remarked, Fascismo is clearly a spontaneous Italian product.
Its methods and ideals are precisely what a study of Italy's history
and racial make-up might lead us to expect. Mediterraneans everywhere
instinctively crave strong, dynamic personalities to lead them while
Alpine stocks seem to do best under the guidance of able ruling minorities.
Mussolini and his lieutenants therefore appear well fitted to accomplish
much for Italy, and to lead theIr people along paths suited to the
we may even be about to witness the creation of new political institutions
better suited to a mixed people of MedIterranean-Alpine origin like
the Italians than were the parliamentary, democratic forms borrowed
from England when Italian political unity was attained half a century
ago. The fact is that democratic parliamentary institutions been a
real success only among peoples largely Nordic in blood. The idea
that they can be applied indiscimately to peoples of all races is
precisely an example of that abstract theorizing against which Fascismo
is to-day voicing so healthy a protest.
Italy let us now turn to consider Spain and Portugal. These two nations
together occupy the Iberian Penmsula, the great land block which forms
the southwestern corner of Europe, washed by the waters of the Atlantic
Ocean and the Mediterranean, Sea and almost touching Mrica at the
Straits of Gibraltar.
Iberian Peninsula differs widely from Italy in form, climate, and
internal structure. In the first place, it is much larger. This greater
size, together with its square shape and higher average elevation,
produces natural conditions very unlike those prevailing in Italy.
The Iberian Peninsula consists mostly of an immense plateau bordered
by mountain ranges which rise sharply from the sea. Only in a few
places are there considerable coastal plains. Cut off from the moist
sea winds by its mountain ranges, the interior plateau tends to be
dry and barren so that population has always been concentrated along
the fertile seaboard: This is one reasons why the Iberian Peninsula
has rarely attained political unity. Grouped along the coasts, its
inhabitants have lived with their backs to one another, looking outward
over the sea rather than inward toward their neighbors. In fact, on
the western coast, where isolation is most pronounced, a separate
nation, Portugal, arose with a distinct language and culture of its
own. The rest of the peninsula kept more together and in time formed
the Spanish nation; but even in Spain we find marked distinction between
different regions which have never been obliterated.
the Iberian Peninsula had been more open to foreign penetration it
might have been the seat of several distinct nations instead of merely
two. This, however, has been prevented by its isolation. Lying off
the main line of European land migrations, and separated from the
rest of the European Continent by the almost unbroken mountain wall
of the Pyrenees, the Iberian Peninsula has tended to live a life apart.
For this reason it has undergone relatively few invasions and few
racial changes, and its popu-
lation is to-day more homogeneous in blood than any other part of
the European Continent except Scandinavia -- likewise a region of
Iberian Peninsula is racially a distinctly Mediterranean land. In
both Spain and Portugal the population is mainly of Mediterranean
blood. Nevertheless, the two peoples differ from each other to a considerable
extent both in racial make-up and in the innate quality of their Mediterranean
stock. For this reason, as well as from considerations of language
and historic pasts, separate consideration is desirable.
the two nations, Spain is very much the larger and more important.
Occupying nearly seven-eighths of the entire Iberian Peninsula, Spain
has an area of more than 190,000 square miles and a population of
a trifle more than 21,000,000 souls. The Spanish people is and always
has been mainly of Mediterranean stock. At various times, to be sure,
Alpine and Nordic invaders have entered Spain by way of the Pyrenees,
but these elements have never greatly changed the racial make-up of
the general population. What Alpine blood there is in Spain is confined
to the mountainous regions of the northwest. Here the local population
differs from the rest of Spain both in physical type and in temperament,
being more stolid, tenacious, and laborious than elsewhere.
blood is not concentrated in any one locality, but is mainly scattered
through the upper and middle social classes, though Nordic traits
are found more frequently in the north than in the south. Pure blond
types are, however, nowhere common. In Southern Spain there are many
evidences of North African blood, with occa-
sional negroid traces. These North African and negroid traits are
mainly due to the long Moorish occupation of Southern Spain.
Spain possessed a much larger proportion of Nordic blood. This Nordic
element was most numerous after the fall of the Roman Empire, when
Spain was overrun by a number of Teutonic tribes such as the Suevi,
Vandals, and Visigoths, who established themselves as ruling aristocracies
and for a time turned Spain into a superficially Nordic land. Though
greatly.diminished by the Moorish invasions, Nordic blood remained
relatively abundant among the upper classes, especially m the north,
down to comparatively recent times.
Nordic spirit played a part durmg Spain's period of greatness, which
lasted for nearly two centuries after Columbus's discovery of America.
During that period Spain was far and away the greatest power on earth,
being at once the owner of most of the New World and the master of
a large part of Europe.
those two centuries of power and glory proved to be Spain's undoing.
The flower of the nation was drained away to subdue a savage contment
or to ~Ie 9n European battle-fields. The bold conquistadores
in AmerIca, the dauntless Spanish infantry in Europe alike represented
the pick of both the Nordic and Mediterranean elements. Generation
after generation these men went forth by hundreds of thousands --to
return no more. As a melancholy Castilian proverb of those days well
put it, "Spain makes men -- and wastes them!" .
while Spain's bravest and boldest were dying abroad, the most intelligent
who remained at home were
being weeded out by a number of unfavorable social factors. The monastic
ideal became so wide-spread that vast numbers of men and women, representing
on the average the superior elements of the population, entered celibate
orders, died childless, and thus deprived the race of their valuable
inheritances. Furthermore, the intolerant spirit of the times ruthlessly
killed out all who ventured to differ from orthodox ideas. During
this period the number of persons imprisoned, burned alive, or driven
into exile by the Spanish Inquisition was fully 300,000.
combined result of all these drains upon Spain's energy and intelligence
was the dramatic collapse of Spanish power in the middle of the seventeenth
century. From her proud rank of the world's leading nation, Spain
sank almost to the position of a third-rate power -- a position in
which she has ever since remained. This sudden collapse from grandeur
to obscurity long puzzled historians. To-day, with our knowledge of
racial matters, the reason is perfectly plain. Like a prodigal spendthrift,
Spain drew recklessly upon her racial reserves for tasks beyond her
strength. When the last reserves had been spent, Spain fell into-hopeless
weakness-because she had mortgagd her racial future.
Spain is, indeed, a striking example of racial impover:ishment. Racial
impoverishment should be clearly distinguished from other biological
ills like degeneracy and mongrelization. The Spanish people of to-day
is not degenerate, while there is little admixture of inferior alien
strains except in certain portions of the South. What is wrong with
modern Spain is that its population has been so drained of creative
energy and intelligence that
it produces little except mediocrity. Very rarely does Spain produce
strong, gifted leaders. Herein Spain differs from Italy, which has
retained the power to breed such commanding personalities.
of able leaders is especially serious in a racially Mediterranean
country like Spain, because Mediterranean peoples always need strong,
dynamic personality. Lies to awaken their enthusiasm and bring out
the best that is in them. No people to-day displays more typicaIIy
Mediterranean characteristics than does the Spanish. In fact, the
population of present-day Spain is racially far more Mediterranean
than it was some centuries ago, owing to the virtual disappearance
of its once numerous Nordic element. The Spanish people is probably
the purest Mediterranean stock now in existence, as is well shown
by the Spanish temperament, which is just about what we might expect
from a study of Spain's racial make-up --bearing in mind, of course,
the fact that Spain has been drained of much of the intelligence and
artistic gifts which are normaIIy found in unimpoverished Mediterranean.
temperament comes out most clearly in Spain's political life. The
key-note of the Spanish national spirit is an almost boundless individualism.
Ideas and principles, as such, are at a discount; they must be personalized.
That is why Spanish political parties crystallize about some magnetic
leader who knows how to win the personal loyalty and devotion of his
followers. Furthermore, Spain has not yet evolved a governmental system
suited to the character of its people. Even more than in Italy, the
centralized bureaucracy borrowed from France
and the parliamentary institutions borrowed from England have alike
failed to work successfully.
parliamentarism in particular was from the first a sickly growth.
Despite high-sounding constitutional forms and phrases, all real power
soon came to be lodged with a caste of professional politicians who
invented a system even more corrupt and oppressive than Italian transformismo.
This Spanish political system is known as caciquism. Caciquism is
a magnified and nationwide Tammany Hall. The system is worked by a
knot of big bosses -- caudillos -- at the capital, Madrid,
and is enforced by a swarm of local bosses known as caciques, who
make the elections as Madrid commands and take their pay in local
offices, power, and plunder. When the country cries too loud, a safety-valve
is found in an electoral change of government; but the relief is a
sham, for the Spanish political parties play the game of rotation
in office to perfection and hand over the treasury to one another
at the precise psychological moment. The chief result of a Spanish
election, therefore, is the coming to power of an alternate gang of
caudillos and caciques zealously imbued with the Jacksonian maxim,
"To the victors belong the spoils." Their personal loyalty
to their chief may be strong, but their devotion to the public welfare
is usually conspicuous by its absence. All this is well known to the
Spanish people, which accordingly takes little interest in politics,
and views the kaleidoscopic shifts of ins and outs with a cynical
and sullen indifference.
deplorable state of affairs has led to the recent breakdown of Spanish
parliamentarism, when the government was overthrown by a revolt headed
Primo de Rivera, who established a dictatorship.
On the surface, this looks like another Fascist movement, and General
Rivera has been hailed as the Spanish Mussolini.
inspection, however, reveals wide differences between the Spanish
and Italian movements. Fascismo was a spontaneous, popular growth,
backed by a large part of the youth and brains of Italy and headed
by a remarkable personality associated with a considerable group of
able leaders. It displayed from the first not only boldness and determination
but also creative energy and original ideas. The Spanish movement,
on the other hand, was primarily the work of discontented army officers.
It was a military rather than a popular revolt, and it bears a close
resemblance to other military revolts which have occurred in Spanish
history. Although the Directory, as the new'government is called,
has been in power many months, it has done nothing comparable to what
Fascismo has achieved, and it has not succeeded in gaining a like
measure of public confidence and support. As for General Rivera himself,
he is obviously no Mussolini.
will happen in Spain is, of course, highly uncertain. Perhaps if Italy
succeeds in working out a constructive solution of her problems, Spain
may profitably adopt this solution, adapted to her somewhat similar
circumstances. But so far as present indications go, Spain does not
seem to be originating a constructive programme, as Fascist Italy
appears to be doing.
Spain let,us pass to Portugal. This small country, with an area of
34,000 square miles and a population of 5,600,000, has neither a prosperous
present nor a hope-
ful future. Like Spain, Portugal enjoyed a time of greatness, but
the time was short and was purchased at the expense of an even more
pronounced decline. The reasons were similar. Portugal, like Spain,
was suddenly thrust into a position for which she was not fitted,
consumed her strength and vitality in tasks too heavy for her to bear,
then sank exhausted into lasting impotence.
countries rose to greatness at the same time. At the very moment when
Columbus was discovering America for Spain, the Portuguese navigator,
Vasco da Gama, was starting on his memorable voyage around Africa
to India. This gave Portugal a great colonial empire in the East,
while other Portuguese explorers soon gave their country an American
colonial empire in Brazil. From her colonies Portugal rapidly drew
such wealth that she became a great power, her capital, Lisbon, being
one of the most splendid cities in Europe.
wealth and power was, however, literally squeezed out of Portuguese
blood. To conquer and hold Portugal's vast colonial empires required
great fleets and armies which took the very cream of the Portuguese
stock. At the beginning of their heroic period the Portuguese were
an almost purely Mediterranean stock, energetic, intelligent, and
with marked literary and artistic qmilities. The great days of Portugal
produced not only bold sailors and brave soldiers but also poets and
artists whose names will live long in history.
then, in a trifle over a hundred years -- it was all over! Portugal
collapsed, as Spain was to collapse a little later. The only difference
wvas that in Portugal's case the collapse was far more complete. The
drain on the Portu-
guese stock had been frightful and the resulting racial impoverishment
was therefore even more lamentable. The peasantry had largely abandoned
the countryside. Drawn to the cities and to the colonies by the lure
of gold and adventure, or conscripted wholesale into the fleets and
armies, they had sailed overseas, to settle as fate might decree,
but rarely to return.
upon this racially impoverished people there fell a fresh misfortune
-- the incoming of inferior alien blood. The half-deserted countryside
passed into the hands of great landowners who imported gangs of negro
slaves drawn from Portugal's African colonies. This was particularly
true of Southern Portugal where a semi-tropical climate and a fertile
soil made negro slavery highly profitable. In time the population
of Southern Portugal became distinctly tinged with negro blood, which
produced a depressing and degrading effect upon the national character.
history of modern Portugal has not been a happy one. Misgovernment
and turbulence have been the outstanding features of its political
life. Attempts to apply democratic parliamentary institutions have
been melancholy failures. Fourteen years ago monarchy was overthrown
and a republic was set up, but this appeared to increase rather than
diminish political instability. The Portuguese Republic has been one
long story of disorders, cabinet crises and revolutions suggesting
Central America and no signs of improvement are in sight. From present-day
Portugal the world has apparently little either to expect or to hope.