2 NOV 2019 – 01:37 CET
A few years ago I acquired the habit of picking up any type of advertising that fell into my hands. I copied slogans that I saw on the street, or took pictures of them, accepted the ad sheets offered in vain by sidewalk deliverers, looked the ones left in the mornings held by the windshields of the cars, studied the posters with propaganda of mortgages or accounts or investment funds in the shop windows of the banks, I stopped at the door of the telephone shops to collect those large brochures that convey a sense of prosperity like the illustrated magazines half a century ago. Sometimes I felt as if I were on the street listening to a multiplication of simultaneous voices that never fell silent, and that in the great dizziness of their variety they ended up unifying in a single monotonous message. You can have everything you want, instantly, without any delay, and you can have it and choose your way, here and now, as you like, when you want and as you want, without limit, all at the same time. You can have one thing and its opposite. You can lose weight by eating everything you want. You can have an entire beach just for you. You can spend and at the same time continue saving.
The slogan that was repeated everywhere was summed up by an ad from Movistar, in one of those leaflets full of photos of people as relentlessly happy as those of the murals of the Chinese Cultural Revolution: “Choose everything,” run the ad. In the old-fashioned analog world, the act of choosing necessarily implies a renunciation. By choosing something you deprive yourself of something else. You can’t have the cake and eat it, according to the English saying. If you eat it, you stop having it. If you keep it intact, you have not eaten it. In the world of Movistar, where there are many groups of young people jumping like in tribal dances or happenings of the seventies, all of them wielding mobiles in raised hands, with a suggestion of revolutionary greeting, the old limitation has been abolished. Choose everything. You can have it all at the same time. If you wish, you may not deprive yourself of anything.
The only place in the world, apart from the ads, where virtual Eden has been fulfilled is in Catalonia. Only there it is possible to enjoy at the same time a thing and its opposite, choose something and continue having something more. You can preside over the established Government and at the same time put yourself in the lead of an uprising, all of that while getting a salary that is double that of the president of the oppressing central Government. You can participate in a strike of university students and at the same time not lose the year, since the academic authorities, with paternal and maternal indulgence, suppress the hindrance of the partial exams, so that these young people can exercise their rebellion without suffering any kind of disappointment. You can imagine that you participate in a kind of reckless intifada, ambushed under the hood of a brand sweatshirt, throwing stones and flares at the police, and the next day your parents will demonstrate complaining that the invading guards did not treat you with the care you deserve This chilling slogan can be repeated, “The streets will always be ours”, and at the same time be considered the victim of “occupation forces”, thus uniting the boasting of the ruler with the moral dignity of the oppressed. Only in today’s Catalonia it is allowed to show a pacifism, between evangelical and Gandhian, and at the same time celebrate the opportunities of “visibility” offered by vandalistic violence. At night you can have the pleasure of burning buses and garbage containers and the next morning you will find that diligent operators have remedied the damage, and that next to the same marquee you knocked down or burned last night another intact bus will stop again on time just not only to take you to your destination, with great comfort and at a convenient price, but also ready to be set on fire tonight by you.
You can have it all. You can travel on the train and you can block the tracks. In less advanced places, workers who go on strike lose days of salary and are in danger of losing their jobs. You can go on strike and as the activists who summon it are also your bosses you will receive congratulations instead of retaliation. You can declare yourself a victim and a martyr of repression and throw a stone or a metallic object at a police officer which will go through the helmet and breaks his skull so that he will have to be brought, between life and death, to the ICU of a hospital. If you like opera, you can enjoy a gala show at the Liceu, and in addition to benefiting from the many millions the central State gave to finance its rapid reconstruction after the fire, you will have the added privilege of shouting slogans against the oppression that same State makes you suffer. You can call dogs, apes, hyenas with human form to those you consider your adversaries, and at the same time maintain, with a perfectly cleaned conscience, that the xenophobes are they. You can be hoarse demanding freedom of expression and at the same time join a mutinous group to suppress the freedom of expression of others weaker than you. You can take jovial selfies in front of the bonfire that threatens a house of neighbors or a gas station, and then share it on social networks, and at the same time feel that you are part of one of those people overwhelmed for centuries, Jews or South African blacks or Kurdish. You can have an imposing yacht and a mansion on the Costa Brava and warm up inside with the moral safety of the persecuted and the burning adrenaline of the revolutionaries by simply planting a stellar flag on the roof of the mansion or the mast of the yacht; and have lobsters as dinner on deck and at the same time imagine that you are part of the Granma crew and you will start an uprising like Fidel Castro’s against Fulgencio Batista.
There will always be someone who ends up paying: whoever collects broken
glass and busted trash bags, stops the fire, tries to restore some amount of sanity
around him. Surprisingly, the most responsible of the mess are the ones who
know best how to reach safety from any consequences of what they unleashed.
Living like inside an ad where you can have everything at the same time has
always been a class privilege.