6 June 2021
A flag behind a red light in Alella in the fall of 2017. ALBERT GEA REUTERS
The genius of the country is inexhaustible. Imaginary constructions come out of the smoke. Some people get oil out of nowhere. Everything has been tested and we have made all the noise possible. We have invoked and taken to walk the muse of history, pregnant with the future of Catalonia, but not a humble mouse has been given birth, even less than that famous labor of the mountains. It could be said that in recent years Catalonia has become a kind of Don Quixote – a cruel paradox, a Castilian knight! – who believed he saw giants and enemy armies everywhere and always came out crunched and learned, although never disillusioned with his ideals, in love with his lady, like the Catalan pro-sovereignty fighters with independence.
Now even believers in the coal miner’s faith know it, even if they pretend they don’t know it. There will be no independence. It was a chimera. The paths that had been drawn on the boards of voluntarism of the procés were imaginary. The last excuse to explain the defeat is the denunciation of the cruel repression of the enemy state. But in the days of George Floyd, Navalny, the Uyghur genocide, and the rampant repression in Hong Kong and Myanmar, these sufferings and these prisoners hardly serve to build an international case against the Spanish dictatorship. After pardons and political dialogue, time and a cane, very little of all this will remain in the memory of the world. A small and local history à la Tartarin, in short.
All that remains is the ‘scene’ strategy that Puigdemont promised against the Spanish state, which is more legal than political.
There is no strategy that leads to independence. The ones that were there were bankrupt and nothing has replaced them. All that remains is the ‘scene’ strategy that Puigdemont promised against the Spanish state, more legal than political, organized by Gonzalo Boyé in order to make the most of the mistakes and cracks of the Spanish judicial system and its constitutional legality. ERC has none. In fact, no one has it. Once the 2017 attempt failed, in objective conditions that are probably difficult to repeat, it must be clearly stated that independence is only a desire, a feeling, a dream and that, when people as politically awake as Jordi Cuixart say that he will do it again, he is simply saying that he will never stop wanting it, nor will he stop feeling pro-independence, nor will he allow himself to dream of anything other than independence, as Alonso Quijano did with his Dulcinea. And he will do well: dreams should not be given up.
What has always been tried was to achieve the difficult alchemy that would turn the desires, feelings and dreams that had exploded popularly from 2012 into electorally tangible results, into real power within the real world. Also in this the calculation was bad. Such a high stakes move has resulted in a landslide defeat. The pro-independence effort has not resulted in better funding, economic or political strengthening of Barcelona and Catalonia within the Spanish and European landscape, or a constitutional change that would advance self-government in a federal direction or in the still most unlikely Confederate leadership. Nothing. The internal strength of Catalonia has also diminished. Divided in the face of independence, it now offers less impetus and energy to negotiate a simple improvement in autonomy.
The internal strength of Catalonia has also diminished. Divided in the face of independence, it now offers less impetus and energy to negotiate a simple improvement in autonomy
It is understood, then, the demand for strategy, expressed with as much verbosity as necessary through the invention of the Space of Coordination, Consensus and Collegiate Strategic Management, the artifact imagined by Pere Aragonès and Jordi Sánchez as to palliate the disagreement over the role of the Council of the Republic. Its creation suggests that the Mossos d’Esquadra agent sanctioned for saying that the republic did not exist was right. Instead of Council we have, then, a Space, a much more modest and confusing verbal construction. And instead of the Republic, we have three somewhat imprecise tasks such as coordination, consensus and leadership, which will be handled by the three pro-independence forces and the two entities involved in the procés: if the meetings were not discreet and if they were not “out of the media spotlight”, as proposed in the government agreement, the show would be guaranteed.
Among the three tasks, the direction stands out. Coordination and consensus are such nebulous concepts that allow one thing to be taken for granted as well as the opposite. The direction is of another magnitude, especially if it is strategic and, in addition, collegiate, an adjective whose main addressees are the leaders just to see that none of them, neither Puigdemont nor Junqueras, have the last word. But the touchstone is the strategic adjective, as this direction will be able to direct many things, even newspapers and televisions, of which there is a lot of experience, but it cannot direct a strategy because nothing of the sort is there nor will it be.
Are there strategies other than smoke and delusions? First and foremost, it is necessary to improve the health and the economy of the citizens, that is, to vaccinate everyone and to properly invest the European recovery funds. At the same time, of course, pardons and the dialogue table. Without the impossible forced feet of amnesty and self-determination, but with the aim of obtaining, with the reforms that are proposed, the highest possible level of self-government, the maximum participation in Spanish and European political life, perhaps Barcelona’s bi-capital status and even the constitutional recognition of the Catalan language.
All of this, in the end, is not a strategy for independence, but it could lead to a better strategy than independence. Or, at the very least, more tangible and practical than feelings, desires and dreams, and above all that mysterious democratic onslaught they promise us in case everything else.