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Of the three epithets ("bastard, red, traitor"), the last one is the final and conclusive. The extremists of the tribe emotionally dehumanize the opponent. Vox does the same too.

José Antonio Zarzalejos

11/12/2019 05:00 Updated: 11/12/2019 10:39

Previous to the urgent, the important. And perhaps this testimony (I regret personalization) is paradigmatic of one of the worst consequences of the 10-N elections. I reported the incident yesterday on Twitter. At 10.55 a.m., in the Alcocer street corner with that of Father Damián in Madrid, I crossed the zebra crossing with a young, bearded man, who turned to recognize me and snapped at me: “Zarzalejos, bastard, red, traitor” and finished off the outbursts with a “Long live Spain!” To the side, an old lady looked at me with scared eyes that showed tears. She was impressed by the scene. I smiled at her and continued on my way.

That citizen is surely one of the 3.640.063 who voted for Vox to the Congress and the Senate last Sunday. The vast majority of them do not believe they are militant in the extreme right (some of them do know it through science and conscience) and they are overwhelmed by the lack of understanding towards what they understand as the need to adhere to the thesis advocated by the party presided by Santiago Abascal.

They think these theses are reasonable. But they are not at all. They are typical of the illiberal and tribal ideology that triumphs preponderantly in some countries like Poland or Hungary and are similar to those of the extreme rights of Italy, France, Holland, Sweden, Finland or Austria and that, in many cases, have put an end to the Christian-democrat, conservative and liberal parties.

These parties – and Vox also – exploit the so-called “dark side of the tribal instinct” which, according to Marlene Wind (‘The Tribalization of Europe’. Editorial Espasa 2019), consists of the one that “authoritarian strategists and leaders explode when they develop campaigns aimed at play the “emotional bonding of the group” card and “dehumanize” the opponents of the group”.And the Danish professor adds:”That is probably the exact reason why the ‘tribalists’ often cross out their critics and adversaries as traitors. Betrayal and disloyalty are major words, and their repeated use shows to what extent identity allusions are usually a carefully designed construct to achieve specific political objectives”.

So of the three epithets (“bastard, red, traitor”) the last one is the supposedly definitive and conclusive. As I am Basque (my children, my wife, my brothers …), and as Basque I am also a Spaniard and, in addition, I prefer for Spain the parliamentary monarchy instead of the republic and I prefer certain conservative values, I should feel an instinctive call of the ‘tribe’ and be enraged with the flag, with the anthem of the Legion, with the Reconquest and Don Pelayo, and consider the exhumation of Franco a “desecration” and call “freedom killer” to the State of autonomies.

Let the truth be told: not only do I not experience any drive of these ‘tribal’ characteristics but quite the opposite, they cause me restlessness, unease and reiterate me in Hannah Arendt’s readings about the banality of evil (‘Eichmann in Jerusalem’) and on totalitarianisms (‘The origins of totalitarianism’).

To make the ‘record’ more complete, I will say that I play in the ‘judeophile’, which increases the weight of my ‘betrayal’, which would be fully confirmed because (after having being the editor of ‘El Correo‘ in Bilbao and ‘ABC‘ in Madrid) I have been writing for 10 years in El Confidencial, I collaborated with ‘El Periódico de Cataluña’, I have spent five years of radio professional life in the SER and my television incursions are consummated in La Sexta. Yes, indeed, I must be a traitor, but to what am I a traitor? Well, to that hyperbolic and hostile leadership; to that visceral and primitive discourse; to those excitations of ideological and identity passions and to that order and command of the barracks. To those dialectical testosterones that would be extremely ridiculous if they were not so absorvable. And I will always be traitor (to all that) while remaining Basque, Spaniard, conservative and monarchist. And I would hope that those who feel this way persevere in a democratic, educated, enlightened and open right. There is one, of course.

The resignation of Albert Rivera is the quintessence of the consequences of the benevolence with the extreme right, even if an instrumental complacency. On December 16 of last year I wrote in this blog the ‘post’ entitled  ‘Rivera, no con Vox’ (the PP and Cs in Andalusia signed an agreement with those of Abascal). On March 2 of this year, I used myself thoroughly to explain that the concentration of the Plaza de Colón was a major mistake of Populars and Oranges, and in later ones I highlighted the “disappointment” felt by the Spanish moderates with the president of Cs (7 of May) and a month ago (10 of October) I assumed that the Catalan Rivera was not going to have any other way out than the resignation, which occurred yesterday after the disastrous – and predictable – results of 10-N. The shameful neighborhood of Ciudadanos with Vox has taken it to the precipice because the extremism of any sign is toxic.

And now Pablo Casado is being challenged to radically confront with Vox in spite of the already inevitable pacts forged in municipalities and autonomous communities. Hopefully it is not too late.

The PP and its leaders must determine which model they choose, whether for the Austrian, the Italian or the Finnish to fraternize with the extreme right, or for the German, the French or the Swedish to establish a cordon sanitaire. Because if Casado is not clear about it, Abascal does, and the Spanish right could end in the illiberal and extreme militancy as it happens in Orban’s Hungary or in Kaczynski’s Poland.

If the answer is negative to that understanding – and hopefully it will be – then, with Vox never, in any case, after the errors of (civic) judgement already perpetrated and that, for the moment, have knocked Citizens down and blocked the expansion of the PP. Having said all that, it is urgent not to lose sight of how Sanchez, slyly, has fed Vox even though he has got backfired.

Another day we will talk about the Government, even if it is an acting one. But the important thing, I think, was today and now this digression about Vox whose fulminating emergency has been brought by the elections of last Sunday.


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