Rafael Jorba, Saturday 21 November 2020
Ernest Lluch (Vilassar de Mar, 1937 – Barcelona, 2000). It is now 20 years since his murder by ETA. This is not the time to write obituaries about his figure, but to vindicate his legacy. The Ernest Lluch Foundation, executor of his memory, recalled that it will continue working to project his concerns in the future: “Political and civic dialogue, the defense of quality public health with adequate management and funding and the obligation to dare and learn to think to make a better world together ”. In times of dual thought, of binary realities, Lluch’s legacy refers us to a polyhedral reality, as his figure was also polyhedral. Ernest Lluch was above all a free man. “They have killed him because he went through life without a mental escort,” exclaimed Professor Fabián Estapé at the murder of his disciple. Freedom was at the base of his political commitment. He often remembered a phrase by Indalecio Prieto: “I am a socialist as a liberal.”
It is a liberalism situated at the antipodes of economic liberalism and which is rooted in ethical convictions: freedom as the basis of individual and collective progress. Reform socialism, from this perspective, calls for more democracy and refutes Leninist logic and the so-called ‘democratic centralism’, that is, the sacrifice of a dose of freedom for the sake of the project’s effectiveness.
Ernest Lluch, champion of this open and non-dogmatic socialism, also recalled to illustrate the dialogue of the deaf between Lenin and Fernando de los Ríos in Moscow. “Freedom for what?”, The Soviet leader asked him in an interview they had in 1920 before his defense of a socialism respectful of parliamentary democracy. “Freedom to be free,” replied the professor of political law, a disciple of the Free Institution of Education. Lluch made this tautology – “freedom to be free” – a flag to swim against the current, to go through life without mental escort. It was not a naive position, but firmly rooted in his civic and political commitment. He thus defended the dialogue with ETA, as is often remembered, but he did so from the absolute rejection of his initial postulate. Thus, in an article published in ‘La Vanguardia’ a month before his assassination, he made an act of contrition by refuting the theory that there was a good ETA -the anti-Franco- and a bad ETA -the one that continued to kill in democracy. “We must say that the idea is wrong, that we may sustain ourselves at some point, that there was a good ETA: its original sin already appeared in the type of organization chosen in 1959,” he wrote. The problem was the media – the use of violence; not the objectives. Lluch, a well-read and conceited intellectual, thought, like Nietzsche, that those who spend their life fighting the dragon die as a dragon.
His work in favor of dialogue placed him on ETA’s target: in wars, bridges are the first objectives to be demolished. I repeat: Lluch’s position vis-à-vis ETA was neither naive nor candid. He endorsed Rabin’s reflection: “We have to dialogue as if there were no terrorism; terrorism must be fought as if there were no dialogue ”. He took care of the first. His central and centered position, which ended up costing him his life, moved away from the dual dialectic and the verbal escalation between Spanish nationalism and Basque nationalism. He opted for a third way compared to those, mostly Basques, who in Madrid and Vitoria fed this auction.
History, with the disappearance of ETA, has ended up proving him right, but his work in favor of the construction of bridges placed him on the target: in wars, bridges are the first objectives to be demolished. Lluch, from this perspective, was an intruder in the Basque Country: he was not a Catalan who allowed himself to be dazzled by the Basque mirror. “They are more like the Castilians than us,” he pointed out in the posthumous book-interview by journalist Marçal Sintes. Also in Catalonia, where he is now praised, he clashed with pujolismo on a nuclear issue: he defended political Catalanism, understood as the lowest common denominator, against nationalism. And, as a good Catalanist, he got involved until he was stained in Spanish politics. He knew that Catalanism, unlike Basqueism, advocated a different model of Spain from the one thought and often imposed from Castile. So far some notes on Ernest Lluch. A polyhedral personality, sometimes controversial, but always free.
Out of respect for his memory, I have not wanted to draw parallels about the current turbulent political scene. Everyone, in the exercise of their freedom, can draw their own conclusions.