by Crónica Pupular • 30 September, 2019
PhD in Political Science||
“Insisting that the situation is very fluid. Very complex. That everything can happen. Much more if we consider that there is a sentence, which must be issued…”
Thus concludes “The Catalan revolt. A first balance” of the sociolinguist and head
of analysis and evaluation of the Consortium for Linguistic Normalization, Albert
Fabà Prats for L’Avenç (September
2019: 28-43). What is interesting to note is
The so-called working class unions, CCOO and UGT, have shown once again their position calling for liberation [of the leaders imprisoned because of the illegal acts of October 2017] because that would allow “for a better management of the polarization of Catalan society”. This is a position biased towards what implies an implicit disavowal of the democratic and legal status of Spanish institutions. But the concern does not come only from the autonomous territory; among the reasons given by Pedro Sánchez to call a new election is the procès sentence.
What this paper will try to show is that such a state of affairs – that politics both in the autonomous communities and in Spain as a whole is on the waiting for a sentence affecting Catalan politicians for very particular behaviors, not for ideas or beliefs – is not unprecedented; it is part of a recurring pattern as a result of ancestry and the power of mobilization by Catalanism. This will be illustrated through reference to previous sentences that were also perceived as existential by Catalan ethno-nationalism and consequently preventively conditioned. At the same time, it will be noted that, precisely in view of the exploitation of the days before in order to twist the judicial hand, it is of the utmost importance for democratic health that the criteria of independence of the judicial action and of defense of the constitutional legality be maintained.
The discursive device of Catalanism before the sentence scheduled for the month of October replicates a modus operandi registered in three previous cases of high social impact: Banca Catalana (BC) (1984, favorable outcome), linguistic policy (1994, favorable outcome) and the reform of the Statute (2010, overall favorable outcome, despite the official reading in the opposite direction). To these three must be added a fourth, added opportunistically taking advantage of its overhead projection to the present, the one referred to as Els Fets del Palau. Incorporating in the chronicle a fact so distant from the others is not a whim of this writer: in May 2013 TV3 showed the documentary Pujol/Catalonia. The court-martial; the cost clearly exceeded the usual cost of these programs. A book by Enric Canals was published in parallel on the matter; the ceremony of its public presentation at the Ateneo of Barcelona was attended by Pujol. Canals said that “the book is a tribute to the people who have led us here” (Aracat, 04/18/2013). So for this sector, with command in the Generalidad and the allied media, there is a continuity in the historical sequence from 1960 to 2013, two years before the confession of Pujol, but when compromising documents had already come to light.
And this continuity has a clear intention of accumulating the symbolic capital of the anti-Franco struggle whose campaign had been meticulously prepared (without compromising its value at that time, but very debatable the later exploitation) and sometimes by the same agents who would intervene in the subsequent campaigns. Two decisive elements come from that campaign: the charismatic enhancement of Pujol out of the patriotic and martyrdom halo, on the one hand, and the identification Pujol-Catalonia, on the other. This is not the place to go into details about the fact that the treatment of Pujol was not particularly aggressive, in comparison with the one experienced by the left, who was the main protagonist of the resistance to Franco: the penalty was reduced from 15 to 7 years, with a reduction to two and a half years in prison after benefiting from a pardon from Franco. I insist, even if it had been less, it would have been equally unfair, a feature of the dictatorial character of the Franco regime.
The unworthy dirty trick
But, really, the response template against the Spanish courts (justice is not part of the competences to be devolved) is marked by a total, vertically directed mobilization, in the case of Banca Catalana (BC) already in a democratic Spain. (For this subject it is a must reading Banca Catalana: open case, by Pere Ríos, Peninsula, 2015). Let’s take this synthetic statement from there (p. 142): “It was the beginning of the ‘years of lead”, in the expression of Obiols himself, because Pujol took electoral revenue from the complaint”. “With Banca Catalana will start the discourse of pujolism”, adds Ríos in an interview (naciódigital.cat, 04/22/2015).
It is as necessary to trace the details of the case as it is impossible to summarize them in the space of this column. Let’s say that the pujolism after four years in power had enough resources and means to put into a fix a state that had barely completed a transition with an attempted coup d’etat in between and that dragged the stigma of the long dictatorship imposed by Spanish Nationalcatholicism. Ever since the complaint was known, Pujol’s circle did everything possible to prevent it from appearing in the media.
Juan Luis Cebrían (Primera página. Vida privada de un periodista 1944-1988, 2016) tells that the pressures began in April 1984 when Alfons Quintà published the first chronicle. The article wreaked havoc and the pressures on Cebrián multiplied – I’m following his story in the book – from Polanco himself to Francisco Fernández Ordóñez, who summoned both of them to a meal in the luxurious Zalacaín attended by “no less than five representatives of Jordi Pujol, all high positions of the Generalidad and some MPs in the Parliament”. The Catalan delegation argued that the case was an invention aimed at fouling Pujol’s credit and damaging the nationalist cause and asked that the publication of other pending articles be aborted. The pressure paid off; the articles were not published and there was no explanation. “This is, I think, the biggest mischief I committed during my years at the head of the newspaper and it was a crime against journalism”, the journalist confesses.
It wasn’t just only Cebrián. Antonio Franco, editor of the newspaper in Catalonia, received a call from the president himself at six in the morning on May 19, the day the news of the complaint was published. This is transcribed by Jordi Pérez Colomé (The black book of journalism in Catalonia, 2015). “He asked me what madness was that one published by El País and why I hadn’t called him last night”, says Franco. This was, according to Franco, his response to Pujol: “I thought you would do things to interfere with the publication. I have made the decision of a journalist. For the record, we have always sought your opinion before publishing anything about Banca Catalana. But in this I prefer you give us your opinion next day”. Franco wanted to prevent the president’s counter-information: the denial before the news. Pujol was then a minority shareholder of El País. Days later the investiture of Pujol arrived with the attacks on socialist politicians. El País also suffered attacks: they burned copies of the newspaper, and accused their journalists of being “anti-catalan”.
Pujol turned the story around. The exploitation thesis against Pujol and against Catalonia was inspired by the 1960 campaign but was now carefully reworked and Piqué Vidal had the ability to introduce it into the components of the court responsible for judging the case, as some explicitly acknowledged. The charges of the complaint were misappropriation, falsehood in commercial document and machination to alter the price of things. It was dismissed after an accumulation of irregularities denounced by prosecutors and the conviction among some of the judges that it was indeed a set up against Pujol.
For Carlos Jiménez Villarejo, one of the prosecutors, it was the first rescue of democracy and did cost the State 345,000 million pesetas. (Carlos Jiménez Villarejo had to face a graffiti next to his house for years: We want Catalan prosecutors). I can’t go into the details of how the sentence was cooked; this is a good appetizer for this sentence of P. Ríos: “The defense had a list of 29 magistrates whose vote opposed to prosecution was warranted“.
But Pujol made a master move and turned a criminal cocktail into the base of his charisma by wrapping himself in the flag of Catalonia: he turned a crime of his into an unworthy move of others. In the demonstration convened in support of him by the allied media surrounding the Parliament, slogans were chanted and leaflets were distributed: “Pujol, president; Catalonia, independent”,“Obiols, bastard, we are a nation”,“PSOE, Felipe and Guerra offend our land”,“Catalonia loves Pujol”,“Bounce, bounce, bounce, Spaniard are those who don’t bounce”… From the balcony of the Generalidad, Pujol addressed the enthusiastic crowd and pronounced the magic phrases: “The government has made an unworthy move”, “yes, we are a nation, we are a people, and nobody plays with a people”, “starting from now on, we will the ones to talk about ethics, morals and fair play”. The media echoed this reading: “Pujol valued the demonstration as a warning that nobody will play with Catalonia” (La Vanguardia, 05/31/1984; El País, 05/31/1984).
From that moment Pujol became an apostle of ethics and ace of impunity. For the first, his last piece of work, the Centre d’Estudis Jordi Pujol, had his raison d’etre in ethics. For the latter, BC was a treatment with teflon for Pujol making him unassailable thanks to the victimhood resource of the outsourcing of responsibilities to the dislike of Spain (the government, Madrid, or the meseta, according to convenient modulations at any time). Precisely the opposite of what he had declared in the Spanish Congress on July 27, 1977: “Let no one fear that we will act as if the difficulties of the Spanish State may have positive consequences for Catalonia; because either we all save ourselves or we will all go back to regressive social positions, anti-Catalan positions”.
BC meant the consecration of the charisma begun in 1960; it coincided with his first absolute majority, we do not know to what extent attributable to the preheating of the previous dates. In her book, In code K, which censorship kept frustrated for twenty years, Margarita Rivière summarizes this attribute in one sentence: “Crease-resistant, a fan had told her on the street“. A cheater giving lessons of fair play and a criminal turned into an ethics teacher; the invisible reverse of the oasis (let review the trajectories of his two judicial supporters, Joan Piqué Vidal and Pascual Estevil, to shore up the balance). Truly there is raw material here to claim exceptionality.
Pujol’s master move consisted in turning a crime into a bell of glory thanks to the trick of the flag: any decision of the State that did not tune into the wishes of pujolism would be categorically unauthorized by way of the plot of Banca Catalana. From there to contempt there is only one step. That is concealed in the popular will, the law of the street anticipated in the demonstration of May 1984 and repeated until today: the law is made in the street and, as admitted by the headlines, the streets will always be our own; exactly like the media.
The unexpected confession of Pujol in 2014 was a denial of all this construction. But the echoes went out despite the enormity of the signs. In April of this year 2019, the prosecutor revived the case for another payment of commissions (La Vanguardia, 04/02/2019) and last August, data from a 222 folios report submitted by the UDEF to the judge of the National Court indicated, in the economic aspect, that the family amassed a fortune of 290 million euros in four decades of systematic corruption; but, above all, it realized the coercion strategies explaining the occlusion of many testimonies because it would mean civilian death for the witnesses. “The use of the [autonomous] Administration to make life difficult for those who opposed their modus vivendi has been daily practice” (El País, 08/15/2019; El Confidencial, 08/16/2019). There are rogatory commissions in progress with Andorra, Luxembourg and Denmark, to clarify the fate of illegally obtained money.
But it’s not just the biological family only; the party created by Pujol, CDC, is in a similar situation. In 2018 the Audience of Barcelona condemned CDC for charging 6.6 million in illegal commissions and accredited the routine practice of 3% that denounced and dis-denounced – if the term is valid – Pasqual Maragall (El País, 01/16/2018; eldiario.es, 06/10/2018). Out of those winds…
When P. Ríos referred to an open case, he did not err. Judge José de la Mata, who is hearing the Pujol case in the National Court, in which 36 people appear as accused, beginning with the entire Pujol-Ferrusola family, for a tax offense, against the Public Treasury and money laundering among others, has extended the investigation period for 18 months more because of the complexity of the dossier. On the other hand El Triangle has begun this September to publish “The secret papers of the former president of the Generalidad”.
Following the logic of things, no investigation will return us to the status quo ante, nor can Madrid’s causes rewind the state of affairs to the situation before the ‘Tamayazo’, nor the recognition of the makos front will return the screens and redistribute the analytical merits to those who then accused the lawyers of what they themselves have now recognized: being part of ETA. (By the way, when the economic head of KAS and other persons linked to the financial apparatus of ETA were arrested twenty years ago, Batasuna spokesman Arnaldo Otegi, coincidentally today a person of confidence of the pro-sovereignty circles, called it “a media, police and legal bluff“).
And yet from the house of thieves they preach “Spain steals from us“. A slogan that is on the continuity line of Pujol’s strategic recipe: defending itself by accusing, populist tactics of resentment and grievance. As P. Ríos writes, “the BC case continued to be invoked as an example of the persecution of the government of Spain towards Catalonia, its institutions and nationalist leaders“. This strategy has been proven effective, not only because of the emotional strength of the argument but, above all, because of the control of the instances of social mediation, which made it official doctrine. Street mobilizations included. The reception to Mas on September 20 in the Plaza de Sant Jaume refers to the subconscious of the concentration of support of Pujol in May 1984. He meets with Pujol in October 2015, and the next day he declares: “My party and I are the target of big game” (El País 10/22/2015). Same music indeed.
Don’t touch the Catalan language
The nationalist organic unity was reproduced in the heart of the homogenizing machinery of Pujol, as he has repeatedly written: the linguistic policy. In February 1994, the Supreme Court (TS) issued a ruling stating that the Llei de Normalització Lingüística (LNL) violated eleven articles of the Constitution. (For details, Th. Miley. Nationalism and linguistic policy: the case of Catalonia, 2006, chap. 7). The Generalidad condemned the sentence as an attack on Catalonia. The education counselor, Joan Maria Pujals, hinted that if the TC confirmed the ruling of the TS disallowing the language policy, “Espanya no ens interessa [Spain is of no interest to us]”.
But the threat was not only verbal; in the months prior to the ruling of the TC an intense activity was deployed aimed at warning about the consequences of a negative sentence. Let us gather the feeling of a primary source, Eduard Voltas (The War of the Language, 1996: 172-174): “It can be affirmed without fear of exaggeration that in the period between the act of the Supreme (February 1994) and the Constitutional ruling (December of that year), Catalonia lived in parentheses”.
Please, notice the finesse of the argument, because it serves as a rule: on the eve of judicial decisions Catalonia lives in parentheses. But a parenthesis of intense mobilizing activity (of their own forces) and anti-mobilizing (of those not affected). And of preventive pressure towards the act of sentencing. The Catalan government would not admit in any way that its laws could be outlawed, it was reported from the Generalidad. The message was transmitted to the highest levels of the State, from Zarzuela to Moncloa and to the TC itself, one of whose members recognized that the members of the court “were perfectly aware of what was at risk with that ruling and they were going to have it taken into account“.
A senior leader of CiU, very close to Pujol, put it this way: “the TC took into account that if it resolved in favor of the LNL in Catalonia, life would remain the same, while if it did against the next day a million of people would come out on the streets”. These are examples of this “intense offensive on all fronts”, according to the author of Convergència Democràtica de Cataluny (2014), Antonio Santamaría.
When Antena 3 TV broadcasts a leak ahead of an adverse pronouncement of the TC, Pujol explodes: “If this would happen, it would be very serious and we would sound the alarm“. He could have added: as in 1984; because the sounding of alarms is the ceremonial music of Catalanism on the eve of judicial decisions. This ceremonial music matched the public declaration by Jordi Pujol of Javier De la Rosa as “model businessman”, who would soon enter prison. Again the double helix of corruption and the flag. Note the contrast of this plumbing of McCarthy-like spectrum with the exquisite democracy Catalanism brags about.
In the end the TC declared the constitutionality of the contested elements of the LNL, with ten votes in favor and two against. Wasn’t the arm of legality twisted again? And since the TC swung in the direction propitiated by Catalanism, did that mean a change in attitude towards state institutions, a cooling of victimhood? The actual reality was a new twist in the direction that the TS had condemned. Miley has no doubts when he refers to the debatable constitutionality of the new specific law passed in 1998, the Language Policy Law. Then, as on other occasions, the spell worked: “linguistic policy is not to be touched“. But for now what matters is the deep grammar, the mobilization on the eve of judicial decisions; which is the reason why we jump to the third section of the sequence: the long and hectic vigil of the TC’s ruling on the Statute.
The dignity of Catalonia
Then the 1984 template is reactivated, which has its extension at this time of 2019 and takes advantage of the 1960 soundboard for the illusion of depth: Spain-Catalonia, always. So a sequence 1960-1984-1994-2009-2019 is configured. The 2009 stretch is critical. Because it marks the transit of the oasis to the revolta del Catexit.
As is known. and despite the many evidences challenging it, the official account places the start of the procés in the ruling of the TC (STC) on the Statute in the summer of 2010. And not only among supporters. “The ruling of the Court was a shock in Catalan society” writes, for example, Guillem Martínez (Ctxt.es, 02/09/2015). It is an incomplete statement. We know through Thomas that perceptions mediate the reading of reality. And that this interference was meticulously manufactured. Let’s read Salvador Cardús, an organic and very militant intellectual from his academic pedestals: “We noted that a sentence full of negativity would end up causing a great coagulation of Catalan concern. This has happened” (La Vanguardia, 09/16/2012).
So we see that two things happened: the performative warning and the directionality of the interpretation to read the sentence as loaded with negativity.
That it happened like this is not miraculous. Performativity is a piece of self-fulfilling prophecies. That does not usually fail when the prophet controls the remote control device. Let’s read Enric Juliana, prophet and engineer, judge and jury, referring to the joint editorial (EC) I will deal with right away, in an interview with Tom Vilalta (Jot Down, 06/09/2013): “From time to time I come back to read the editorial, to know where everything is, and even to know where I am. I think that editorial was an editorial in which there was basically a warning to the Spanish world to say: listen, this is entering a phase that can complicate things a lot”. And if it was not clear enough, he insists: “From this point of view I believe that the editorial was like a warning, a civic warning, to say ‘If you do what it seems you want to do this will have consequences of this kind’. And therefore I think the editorial had an impact for two reasons: first because it expressed quite well the mood really existing in Catalonia and secondly because it caused a part of the Spanish world to ram”. The onslaught is part of the repertoire of the disavowal of the State action by way of association with fascism. But for the essential, and for those who did not see the preheating during the eve of the ruling, Juliana knows very well, like Cardús, in which register of pragmatics the warnings and notices are inserted.
The success of that hermeneutic incitement is explained by the former mayor of Barcelona, Jordi Hereu, to Arturo San Agustín (When our thing was messed up, 2014), pointing out that the Constitutional Court ruling was not interpreted “as a matter of legal debate – but that is not the proper field of a sentence, M.A? – but as the will to humiliate a community”. Where – again – the immediate question arises about how a state of opinion capable of seeing in a sentence a willingness to humiliate was able to be installed.
Those who insist on the role of the ruling disregard both the distant preambles (the reform of the Statute was of no interest to anyone) and the close ones (the concerns appearing in the immediate surveys were not consistent with the feeling of humiliation until the machinery of framing and amplification started up). As in the previous two cases, the previous dates are crucial. In 1984, the fever trigger is an economic criminal behavior. The scheme is reproduced in the summer of 2009 when the sewers of 3% overflow in the boxes of the Palau de la Música while the chords of the Toccata e Fuga of Bach sound on July 23. A pillage, symphonic, coral and modernist, of 35 million Euros of which 9.6 are still missing.
Francesc Valls writes (El País, 05/08/2019) that the banking entities refused to identify the check collectors, despite their legal obligation. The crushers did the rest. Toccata e Fuga. The harmonics of the convergent plunder were turned into a general alert – sounding an alarm – in the oasis, and the flag came once again to culminate the miracle of the transfer of the social conflict into an ethnic dispute. The sequence of the 34 days elapsing between October 23, when Millet declares, and November 26, in which the joint editorial “The dignity of Catalonia” is published, should be a compulsory topic for study and deserves to be claimed for inclusion in the listing of singularity and brand ownership years before post-truth, fakes and alternative events became common labels. Again the sacred unity of Catalanism pointing to the TC while the public coffers were bleeding. The months between November and July are the street phase that organic scribes had drawn / prescribed on paper (some of the most involved are still in the pulpit as analysts).
Let’s recall some notes taken from La Vanguardia in the days before the editorial:
“ERC:‘The sentence cannot be accepted, the TC is politicized”; “Montilla alerts the TC about the risk of social division”, “Montilla presses for the Statute”, F-M. Àlvaro: “What will be the answer if they treat us like a kind of colony?”; “Mas offers a pact to Montilla against the TC”; Jordi Barbeta: “Catalonia prepares the answer”; “Montilla will gather the Catalan leaders after the ruling of the TC to respond”; Salvador Cardús: “A horizon of freedom cannot be subject to external provocation”.
As I said, the editorial, written more Pujoliano, prepared the ground for the street phase. These are its final words, just to give the floor to the primary sources: “If necessary, Catalan solidarity will re-articulate the legitimate response of a responsible society“.
Please, patiently unravel the crux of those thirteen words.
The nationalist mindset could not accept anything that was not an absolutely and totally favorable sentence (without forgetting the mistakes made during the previous years). So, although many specialists understood, with La Vanguardia (“The TC endorses most of the Statute but cuts 14 articles”, 06/28/2010), that the sentence was globally positive, the preheated eve did not allow for a fair evaluation. Even Enric Juliana, writer of the joint editorial, admits in the interview that he expected a sentence harsher than it really was.
However, and against the thesis of the STC as primum agens of the procés, we must remember that two bland Diadas passed before the one of 2012, which opens the series of great mobilizations. This, on the other hand, coincides with the low relevance that the identity-territorial issue occupies in the precedent polls compared to the social issues that the crisis made more peremptory. Thus, in the 4th wave of the 2009 CEO, the issue of Catalonia-Spain relations was of importance only to a 3.4%, being a 5.8% in May 2010. These are data forcing people stating that the push comes from below to think.
The Statute of Catalonia has the functionality of shifting the focus of attention by inciting the public to give importance to something that until then had not interested them, and on good grounds if we think about the effect of the aggressive economic measures in progress. Antonio Santamaría succeeded in capturing the core of that mobilization that was also a distraction maneuver: “The Statute, waiting for the deferred ruling of the Constitutional Court, has become the main asset of an increasingly discredited political class” (El Viejo Topo, January 2010). The observation lends itself to a juicy pun: the asset of the political class is precisely a liability, the hope in a negative decision on the part of the TC. That is, the central ideogram of all victimhood: the productive disaster that always places the burden of evidence on the competitor.
It should be noted, however, a difference with the two previous cases: during much of his term Pujol was considered as a factor of order, as the person who could contain the most radical impulses of nationalism; a part of the political pressures for the favorable sentences of 1984 and 1994 has to do with that attributed function – it has been said that Pujol operated as a Janus, autonomist in Madrid, pro-sovereignty at home -, well reflected in the title of “Spaniard of the year” granted by ABC, the year of Banca Catalana, because he was a defense against the left (“its electoral victory over the PSOE”).
When the STC is announced, no one in Catalonia had more preponderance than Pujol, so the gravitational force on the judges disappears; said very crudely for the sake of space. However, Jano’s face b had provided the fine rain irrigating the estates of the procés, the upper phase of pujolism. A detail indicates the deep penetration of the fine rain: in La Vanguardia of 1984 Catalonia is written with ñ, in the joint editorial in Spanish the transliteration to ny has already taken place.
Circumvolutions of the revolt
The two years passed between the eve and the start of the revolt witness the maceration of the persuasion device announced by the joint editorial (which buries both the problem of corruption and the hard adjustment measures undertaken with zeal with the helmsman bound for Ithaca after the CDC Congress in 2012 and the tail wind derived from the creation of ANC), on the one hand, and again and on the other side, the phenomenon of identity reaction against the social agenda represented by the 15M, evicted from Plaza de Cataluña with no better manners than the voters of the illegal referendum on October 1 and unauthorized by the nationalist Republican left (“let them go to piss to Spain”).
As the left that had captained the anti-Franco struggle was displaced by the national Catalanism, the Catalan social 15M was counterprogrammed with the ethnic Diadas; which is the reason for the low impact of the ‘Mareas’ in Catalonia, starting with the most justified one, in view of the privatizations: the “white tide”.
Many things have happened between both eves, among which stands out the Pujol confession that, together with recent research on the family, challenges all the Pujolian construction presenting the complaint as a set up to destroy Catalonia. Enric Juliana titled his column in response to the appearance of Pujol in the Parliament, “The crater” (La Vanguardia, 09/27/2014). He writes that “age, despite his indefatigable intellectual curiosity, prevents him from capturing the depth of the crater opened on July 25. Maybe he perceives it and the crater horrifies him”. Well, was he the only one to open the crater? Was it a temporary slip or had it been pierced with transversal complicities for 34 years, to use a magical term? Where was the insightful and influential volcanologist and much of the profession for so many years?
Pujol states in his memoirs that recent history could have changed with a different sentence in 1984. We must believe him at this point; this piece is also missing in the revilers of the “78 regime”. The story of what was not is a matter for the counterfactual history. The other story, the current one, will not return us to the past but it serves to help read the present, especially to suspect the challenges to the State from the supremacism of those who believe they are the head of ethics and democratic essences. Meanwhile, be warned, let’s take the signifier of Juliana, that a tsunami is threatening; of course, democratic, peaceful, civil and, if you prefer, even festive.
In the meteorological lexicon, the originality of this fourth eve, – fifth, if we count the Francoist preamble -, seems to be exhausted. For ‘icteric’ activism – the Greek name for yellow – only the absolution is acceptable; because, as in the previous occasions, it cannot conceive that something that is done for the Catalan homeland is outside the law; since there is no law above the country, that is, the poble. The emotional warm-up fits in the script, thanks to a professional and well-paid staff who has made their livelihoods out of the procés; without forgetting the true and altruistic believers.
David Partal belongs in the ranks of these militant professionals with an irrefutable career; he dedicated a book to the flying goal of the preheating of October 2017, 9-N Declassified. Secret history of a revolutionary vote (2015), where lyrics and epic compete in the recreation of a day for the prize list in honor of the national homeland: “Finally, the plan that had been explained several centuries before by Luther, which consisted in making that blind horse to ride without knowing in full where it was being led, yielded results. There were only hours left for the Principality to live one of the ten most important days in its history, one of the most pleasant revolutions the world had ever seen. On November 9, Catalonia would not reach the shores of Ithaca, but it would be Grândola”.
Taking up the thread, the disavowals invoked through the different expressions of the farce – judicial, police, political, in the media, economic; ad libitum – will be current pieces in the waiting to build from the ‘country’s contempt’ a ‘country’s response’. As ten years ago, today the liability of the sentence is the main agglutinating asset of an entropically stunted independence movement. Meanwhile, everything makes good to the convent.
Thus, a few months ago, taking advantage of the anniversary of the death of Anne Frank, the government spokeswoman, Elsa Artadi, collected some of Frank’s words seasoned with an icteric bow in solidarity with the pro-independence prisoners; the message was published after the request of the Electoral Board to the Generalidad to remove the yellow bows and the stellar flags from the public buildings. An analogous short circuit had occurred in February with the procession of yellow bows to the tomb of Machado in Colliure, a Machado whom an ethnic purist had wanted to evict from the city street guide of Sabadell. A dazzled Pepe Beúnza, conscientious objector of the hard times, was saying recently “that going to prison for political reasons is a pride“, and that “I didn’t think there were so many Ghandis [sic], I was amazed“; he was talking about October 1, 2017 and told it to Ara (08/08/2019). The last question in the interview was more than predictable, since it is part of the script shared by the media involved in the preheating phase: “Just to give a response to the judicial process, which actions could be enacted? This is his answer: “We are in the phase of denunciation, which is very important. But a strike could be made, singling out an unjust law and see how it is disobeyed, a boycott…“
We do not know what Beúnza will think, given the destruction caused by identity pathologies, about the 9 members of the CDR detained last 23 of September by mandate of the Prosecutor of the National Court; if they would be part of the Gandhis sample or not. In any case, the detention served to give a boost to the emotional warming of this new judicial eve. The pro-sovereignty parties got into de streets en masse to denounce the operation with the usual registers, summarized by the President: “repression continues to be the only response of the State” (El País, 09/24/2019). The JxC and ERC parties highlighted the attempt to criminalize independence and EnComúPodem joined the choir, showing that squint-eyed desire of a certain left when judging nationalisms. Also the president of the government and of the autonomous parliament. “The ‘Get them!’ was a ‘Get all of us!’”, Gabriel Rufián tweeted, picking up his true profile. The CUP stayed in the classic: “police set up”.
In the gathering in front of the town hall of Sabadell were all who count and take account of each other. The arrest works according to the script of the productive disaster, of the liabilities-assets that make out of the decisions of the State institutions the cornerstone of a reactive mobilization. As David Partal wrote in one of his pieces for his correligionists in the Basque Country (vilaweb, 02-03-2013), “The cornerstone is that thing that when it disappears, when it falls, the continuity of what was repulsed becomes impossible”.
The abuse of the history by the nationalism precludes its use to learn from the past, while historical sociology illuminates the past and thus allows to transfer its teachings to the present. So if there is a constant in the religious services of judicial vespers of nationalism, the look with high beams invites the State under the rule of law, institutions and people who hold responsibility in them to take note of precedents such as those indicated, particularly the pressures to twist the arm of the law.
Of the endless sequence of interested mirrors in which Catalanism has liked to look at itself, from Israel to Puerto Rico through Quebec, there is one particularly close, even in that attribution of Nordic superiority and ethnic choice that Catalanism claims for itself: Brexit. Well, there, in the name of the people, a grotesque leader decided to close the institution of popular sovereignty. If you look at the work of the Catalan parliament in the last legislature, some analogy will be observed. Like Boris Johnson, secessionists are in favor of no deal, in Romance language; or of unilateral secession, and in the euphemistic version, of disconnection.
The disavowal by the British Supreme Court of Boris Johnson’s decision to close the Parliament to his convenience has a definite potential for analogy. Perhaps the independence leaders are tempted to convene some act of solidarity with the unauthorized leader denouncing the repressive nature of the judiciary and the British State against the popular mandate of the referendum; to the lot they would of course add their Spanish counterpart, the one in charge of dictating the sentence, historical as the previous ones, with which they will conclude these autumnal eves, which will not foreseeably be the last ‘historical’.
In short, the drift of Catalanism in this decade is part of that same general wave of populism in its double version, of rebellion – a translation for revolta – of the elites (Christopher Lasch, 1996) or of nationalism of the rich (Emmanuel dalle Mulle, 2017). As sociology has studied, those accustomed to living better show a propensity to feel dissatisfied directly proportional to their well-being and status. Hence the need to summon Anna Frank, Mandela or Gandhi and as many instruments as possible which could be monopolized to give plausibility to their victimhood claims.
* Martín Alonso is the author of “El Catalanismo, del éxito al éxtasis”, three vols. El Viejo Topo. The topics dealt with here are mainly covered in the 3rd and 4th chapters of volume III.
This a translation of the original Spanish version available at Crónica Popular:
“Amb Catalunya no s’hi juga”. Desacato de país en vísperas judiciales