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The Iberian Region and Its Culture of Always Winning

La región ibérica y su cultura del siempre gano, EFE

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The Economist has just named Ukraine country of the year for “facing a sinister challenge of fate that bravely threatens to destroy it; dedication and total adherence to the principle of freedom”.

Meanwhile, in Spain we are witnessing an institutional crisis caused by a 5-4 vote of the Supreme Court of Justice rejecting legislation aimed at modifying the method of selecting its members and reducing the rigor of sentences for crimes of sedition and corruption. The decision of the Court, perfectly embedded in the Spanish constitution, has been described by Prime Minister Sánchez as “an institutional coup”. Obviously, Sánchez ignores that a coup cannot be institutional since its objective is to blow up one or more institutions.

In Peru, two minorities refuse to abide by the constitutional order. One rejected the validity of the constitutional process that led to the neutralization of the attempted coup and the dismissal of Castillo. Another one attacks the constitutional order looking for early elections to try to come to power with a minority as tenuous as the one that led Castillo to the presidency. Both minorities only contribute to aggravating the crisis in Peru and weakening its institutions. In Brazil, the followers of President Bolsonaro insist on defining the October presidential elections as a fraud despite the fact that none of the investigations conducted by national or international authorities could identify a fraud.

The citizen behavior of the Iberian world is frankly striking due to its evident lack of judgment. The nations that were forged on the anvil of the medieval cultures of Spain and Portugal share a profoundly undemocratic trait: not accepting defeat. Whether it is a soccer championship, the selection of a carnival queen, or elections for any type of position, the losers will always say that there was a fraud. And, therefore, in our culture, we will never see images like the one from last Sunday in Qatar when the French players enthusiastically embraced their Argentine rivals acknowledging their victory or the losing candidate in a political election taking the microphone and accepting his defeat.

Because our culture is distinguished by producing leaders that psychologists define as “grandiose narcissists.” Neuroscience News defines these leaders as “Practicers of a manifest tendency to self-aggrandizement, the denial of one”s own weaknesses, the conviction to see victory as own right and the devaluation of people who threaten self-esteem.”

This phenotype only flourishes in environments where there is no competition; where rights are acquired by birth and where citizen activity is regulated via the establishment of corporations that derive their livelihood from the extraction of income. And this is precisely the situation in the Iberian world. In the case of nations located in Europe where the proximity to nations where citizens destroyed the medieval molds more than two centuries ago or those located in America, the Iberian culture continues to be one in which institutions are designed to curtail freedoms; curtail competition and impose patterns of rent extraction that prevent the full development of endogenous productive forces.

Fortunately, the globalization process, COVID 19 and the reconstitution of the international value chain are drying up the sources of grandiose narcissism, since they are creating new Iberian generations, whether European or American, whose behavior patterns and worldviews are more similar to those of French soccer players than those of Mr. Pedro Sánchez.

Beatrice Rangel es directora del Interamerican Institute for Democracy, Managing Director de AMLA Consulting, responsable de negociar e implementar estrategias y adquisiciones de inversión corporativas en América Latina y el Caribe. Exmiembro ejecutivo de Wharton School de la Universidad de Pennsylvania // Beatrice Rangel is Director of the Interamerican Institute for Democracy, Managing Director of AMLA Consulting, responsible for negotiating and implementing corporate investment strategies and acquisitions in Latin America and the Caribbean. Former Executive Fellow of the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania.