JOSÉ ANTONIO ZARZALEJOS 12/09/2020
Group of castellers in an independence demonstration. (EFE)
These heroes “do not represent triumph, conquest, but resignation, demolition, disassembly.” Catalonia needs one of them
As much as the polls offer in Catalonia a picture of continuity of the pro-independence parliamentary majority, eventually, with more than 50% of the citizen vote, it is clear that the more traditional state has returned as the coronavirus pandemic is demonstrating facing the astonished post-sovereignists and the disappointment of segregationists. The map of Europe will not move its borders. Catalan secession is not possible. In reality, it has never been in its history since the dynastic union that with the Catholic Monarchs promoted the process of construction of Spain in 1479.
The separatists now hurt from two “hooks” in their financial and industrial liver: on the one hand, the already definitive departure from the entity resulting from the merger between Bankia and CaixaBank, whose headquarters will remain in Valencia; and, on the other hand, the overtaking of Madrid to the Catalan’s economy. Both adverse circumstances for the Principality are a consequence of the sovereignist process that began in 2012 and continues as a means of the risky — health-friendly – celebration this Friday of another Independence Day.
A study by the London School of Economics, prepared by the researchers specializing in economic geography of that center, Andrés Rodríguez Pose and Daniel Hardy, attributes the rise of Madrid to its capacity for interrelationship between different economic and social sectors, and the fall of Catalonia, on the contrary: to the blasting of bridges and the divisive nature of secessionist politics. Barcelona, according to this text, would be a city “fractured” and Madrid more “dynamic” and “integrated” although neither “is there a lack of problems”. Both authors refer to an incontrovertible fact: in 1975, the Catalan economy was 25% higher than that of Madrid and in 2018 the GDP per capita of citizens residing in Madrid was 15% higher than those in Barcelona.
In the same line there are other variables: demographics, the attraction of foreign investment, the import of professional talent and a “new” social openness that has made the capital of Spain a “more malleable” city. Rodriguez Pose and Hardy draw attention to the retreat and introspection of pro-independence elites. The origin of Madrid’s resale could not be located in the so-called “privileges” that capitality would offer to the city, nor to its taxation, but to a receptive and open collective disposition.
The LSE study has not lacked criticism, but Madrid’s already largest contribution to national GDP towards Catalonia since 2018 (more than 19.2%), is an unquestionable fact that should serve more for reflection than for escapist argumentation with which this phenomenon is observed in the City of Barcelona, at least by specialists who, being attached to the sovereign process, have a serious academic and professional qualification.
Catalonia requires a hero for the rectification of independence and the return to better integration into the mechanisms of the State
They should not repeat the displicing sufficiency with which they contemplated the leakage of business headquarters in Catalonia in October 2017, including of their most emblematic companies such as the current CaixaBank and the La Caixa Banking Foundation which, with an annual budget of 550 million euros, is one of the three most important non-profit and social works entities in Europe. Catalonia has been left without its own financial power and the merger between Bankia and CaixaBank, dilutes its territorial idiosyncrasies and premium to Valencia, a rising Mediterranean competition against Barcelona.
In these circumstances – which will tend to sharpen and despite the patriotic spirits of this Friday on the occasion of the Diada – Catalonia requires a hero for the rectification of independence and the return to the best integration into the mechanisms of the State and the solidification of anchors with the whole of Spain socially and culturally. This expression—hero of withdrawal—was coined in an article in ‘El País’ (December 26, 1989) by the German intellectual, Hans Magnus Enzensberger.
These heroes “do not represent triumph, conquest, but resignation, demolition, disassembly” because the quintessence of politics is sometimes “abandoning an unsustainable position”. And in the list of personalities who renounced, rectified, dismantled Adolfo Suarez, but also Nikita Khrushchev, János Kádár, Wojciech Jaruzelski or Mikhail Gorbachev. The German writer warns that our political class “exercises in foolish positions of victors and lies of complacency and vanity.”
True. La Diada, the 9/11, which has been marking sovereignistic milestones, non-Catalanists and integrators like before, from eight years ago – also marked for this Friday – is just the moment when those with responsibility think about dismantling a terminal separatist process that perhaps gets more votes for incomparescence from its adversaries, but which is self-complacent, acrytic and vain and only leads Catalonia to lose its best guarantees of social welfare and progress in all orders, that are stronger—even as far as their identity is concerned—in a plural state such as Spain. Not acting with that logic of rectification is to persevere in a sterile effort to become what will never be.