Angel Ganivet and the Crisis in the Idea of the Spanish Empire
The works of Ángel Ganivet, particularly his Idearium Español, a controversial interpretation of Spanish history, were one of the main inspirations in the crystallization of the "Generación del 98" [Generation of `98]. This intellectual group reacted against the lack of vitality and the ineffectiveness of the Spanish Restoration regime, which, constitutionally speaking, had begun in 1876. At a time when political decadence and the volatility of the Spanish political system were becoming endemic, aggravated by the humiliating defeat of the Spanish navy in the war against the United States in 1898 and the resulting loss of the last remnants of the Spanish Empire, Ganivet`s controversial perspectives, brilliant though limited by an inevitable lack of balance, came as a breath of fresh air for those young concerned professionals who were preoccupied with the reality of their country becoming a problem for its inhabitants. Rather than calling for Spain`s joining the "race for empire", in which the rest of Europe was immersed at that time, Ganivet interpreted the Spanish discovery and colonization of America as a historical mistake, as it diverted Spanish energies from what was then and now a core national necessity: the concentration of national energies within the Spanish frontiers. In Ganivet`s opinion, this was the Spanish priority. The theoretical corpus of Ganivet, an author who was pivotal in the formulation of different intellectual interpretations and projects for the regeneration of Spanish national life, provides a significant opportunity for analysis of the Spanish imperial experience, not in a period of historic splendour but in the one of its last critical phases, a time of national frustration and unrest. In our opinion this is an innovative and relevant ap- proach in the context of a joint study of the subject of Europe and its Empires.