JORDI AMAT 19/07/2020
Employees of the Generalitat deploy in Sant Jaume square the Catalan flag ‘senyera’ for the demonstration against the judgment of the Estatute in July 2010 (Alex Garcia / Archive)
A few weeks ago, at the end of ten years of the Constitutional Court’s ruling on the Estatut (Catalonia’s basic institutional regulations under the Spanish Constitution of 1978) which hindered a certain evolution of the state of autonomies, there is a reflexion again on the origin of the process. It was then the origin? Yes, but not only. Reading one of the last books on this phenomenon – an editorial genre that goes on and on – perhaps one should ask oneself better the question about that origin. Because it is not the same to ask about a constitutional crisis or for a dynamic of social polarization. Nor is it to diagnose a process of unfinished transformation of the party system or to delve into meditation on the nature of the State on the basis of the idea that we suffer a crisis of sovereignty that is shared with other countries, yes, but also linked to a tension that that State has suffered since its configuration in the nineteenth century.
In the various approaches of the question about the origin of the phenomenon lies also the variety in the diagnosis.
A long-haul, ambitious approach, is that of Xavier Domenech in “A set of Nations” (Peninsula). Here, beyond his account as political leader of the Comuns, he reflects as a historian. It is true that he speaks of his conversations with Felipe VI and Sáenz de Santamaría, but the powerful thing is the interpretative paradigm that he formulates on the modern State and how the “process” must be interpreted as a replica of the original tension. His underlying thesis is that the constituent vector of the State in Spain has been a centralist liberalism – Ortega would later be its best theorist – while the vector that has problematized that power has been a republicanism of federalist matrix. Somehow Domenech is committed to an update of this republican tradition, which has Pi i Margall as founder and Lluís Companys perhaps its most decisive Catalan representative. A tradition that managed to participate in the founding of the State of 78, but which would have been progressively drawn as the uniformizing thesis of the administrator Enterría and the bipartisanship was consolidated. As it cracked, as a result of the neoliberal collapse of 2008 and the desire to rethink drowned popular sovereignty, that original tension would have begun to manifest itself again.
But some people interpret the process diametrically opposite. “This is not so much about a conflict or a dispute of sovereignty, but of a profound division between the citizens of Catalonia, who through a dense system of stimuli and propaganda have been put in a situation not of reasoning but of conflicting emotions.” This is defended by the professor -Josep Burgaya in The Populism and independence story in Catalonia (El Viejo’Topo). The process is seen as a movement designed with class intentions: “To emancipate a rich region from a less favoured environment fleeing any glimpse of solidarity.” The deployment of this movement was possible through pujolism (Pujol, former president of Catalonia). “It laid the foundations for a hegemonic national populist approach.” The same thesis is defended in In the Catalan Tsunami, by Santiago Tarín (Galaxia Gutenberg). “The process, in fact, began in 1980, with the arrival of Jordi Pujol to the Government of the Generalitat and the subordination of politics to identity”. The most valuable thing about the book of Tarin, besides revealing some anecdotes he remembers from his solid journalistic experience, is the chronicle of convergent (CIU party) corruption. In addition to four consolidated realities – the pro-independence narrative, the passivity of the central government, the economic crisis and the antagonism metropolitan area/rural Catalonia – corruption would have been, according to him, the trigger of the “procés”.
The most academic analyses coexist with the partisan accounts of many politicians involved
Many of its protagonists – main and secondary – have written books to defend approaches, justify actions or defend ways of departure. From 1 day of October and 2 poems by Josep Rull (Membol) to Story of a Scream by the activist Joan Bonanit (Comanegra). They repeat Antoni Bayona with Survive to the Process (Peninsula), Santi Vila in Win and convince (Peninsula) or Gonzalo Boye with The things are like this (Rock). All three return to previous points of view, but accompany their vision with the judicial experience in which they have been involved as a lawyer, witness and convict. Another affected by the judicialization of the process has been Artur Mas (former Catalan President). his Cold head, warm heart (Column / Peninsula) was expected, but, apart from the self-criticism by the creation of the PDECat, his interest is rather relative from the informational or ideological point of view. The key episode of his account is the 9-N. “I felt identical nervousness to the one I experienced as a child on St. Nicolas day.” And the most relevant thing about his explanation, besides showing the high regard he has of himself, I would say is his experience of rivalry with other actors of Catalan politics – from Duran to Junqueras.
Something new, apart from the remoteness or proximity of his position, is the autobiographical chronicle The right to know the truth of Enric Millo (Peninsula): the PP leader and government delegate reveals aspects of the management of the crisis from the party that has not shown a lot of its strategy (reveals meetings with key players that until now were unknown , demanding silences so that the Allies would not know what one or the other were doing.) Among the multiple failures of the management of Moncloa one of the most significant was the lack of soft diplomacy to counter the effective campaign that the Government of the Generalitat promoted – in the press, in the academy, through government programs and hiring lobbies – to strengthen its position in centers of global power. It is detailed in the remarkable research report that is The Cobweb of Juan Pablo Cardenal (Ariel). That’s partisan, it’s clear, but profuse data on characters and expenses clearly shows the thoughtful international offensive of the process.
A whole diplomatic, governmental and social offensive that would have its climatic moment on October 1. But that day came and the bewilderment was installed. “When the answers were more necessary than ever the politicians could not be giving them to us. And so, for months, we lived on the edge of what people can bear”. I així, durant mesos, vam viure to the limit from which the gent could be borne.” This can be read in Toni Cruanyes’s amazing Un dels nostres . Without showing his strategy and with a journalistic look, the presenter of the Telenotícies (News) takes his risks. After the tensions of all kinds that Catalan society has experienced over the last decade, he believes it necessary to found a new image of “we, catalans”.
The need for a reconstitution, centered on politics, is also in Lose the fear by Marta Pascal (Cataract) and is also showed in ‘The other sucession war” by Toni Aira (Cataract) describing the sum zero tensions between the main pro-independence parties with the finesse of a surgeon who wants to cure. Another essayist who has taken the scalpel to analyze the “procés” is Jordi Muñoz in “Reality principle” (L’Aveno). Committed but intellectually honest, his dissection sets the conditions for dialogue.