Jordi Amat 18/4/2021
“You have lost and we do not need you”
Ten years ago Jordi Pujol published Sembrar, treballar, collir. In this volume, the most influential Catalan politician of the 20th century collected meditations that he posted on the website of the Center d ’Estudis about him. One of the latest texts summarizes a conversation in the Spanish capital. It had been kept by members of the Madrid elite with two pact-friendly Catalan politicians. In the long hangover of the Statute ruling, the people here carried the usual stuff in their suitcase: rethinking the fit, avoiding disaffection. But they had returned home wary after receiving a cynical squeeze, specified in a phrase that Pujol used to title his reflection: “You have lost and we do not need you”. June 22, 2011.
From Monday to Thursday of this week, a good part of the Spanish elites have paraded through the ‘Wake up, Spain! Days’, held at the Casa de América in Madrid. Pedro J. Ramírez, who organized them, has sold them as our Davos. The core of the discussion has been the transformation that should be promoted with a strategic use of the Next Generation Funds and taking advantage of the reforms –educational, labor, pensions …– that will have to be implemented to receive them.
Right now we are not counter-power; power and counter-power today are from Madrid
“This is not a forum for debate between parties. The time of the discussion has given way to that of the execution”, writes the journalist in the brochure of the conference. At the start of her intervention, Ana Botín stated that “what we need is for our country to wake up and that together, with maturity, seriousness, we build the future”. This was intended: to discuss how to restart the country, to set the leadership for reconstruction. According to the program, there were more than 170 speakers: 56 representatives of institutions or social agents, 96 businessmen or entrepreneurs, and 20 researchers and visionaries. It was not the entire Spanish ruling class, but all those who have participated have power. Financial or industrial or intellectual. And political on various scales. The President of the Government and 8 ministers, 8 regional presidents and 9 mayors spoke. Of these 26 politicians, not one represented a Catalan administration.
Of course, the director of Cisco or the director of digital transformation of Damm or a senior executive at Roche were there. Or institutional positions: the secretary general of the UGT, the director of the Chamber of Spain or the Secretary of State for Digitization. All three work in Madrid and none of them has to defend an alternative model to that of established power. There were no voices defending proposals from the Catalan ruling class. There was no one with the civic prestige of an exemplary businessman like the late Mariano Puig. Or a figure of weight, still in his maturity, like Isidre Fainé. In fact, perhaps no presence revealed the true disconnect as clearly as that of the new CaixaBank chairman. As the origin and place where the members of the bank’s management committee and council reside had already been denoted, the power of the main economic entity in the country has been de-territorialized.
Suddenly I have understood what Pujol observed ten years ago. “You have lost and we do not need you”. It is the variant of a reflection that the historian Jaume Claret has in his hands. While there was the exception of a thriving Barcelona from which power linked to a centrifugal national culture was consolidated, the Spanish nationalizing project could not be completed. But right now we are not counter-power. Power and counter-power today are from Madrid. We do not have the strength to reverse the centralization process and, in fact, we are losing it trapped in Byzantine discussions that are completely alien to the reconstruction agenda. It would be better for us to stop playing poker, to put it in a phrase by Antoni Puigverd, not to make impossible territorial alliances necessary and to put ourselves once and for all to work intelligently so as not to miss the train of these funds.