Llatzèr Moix, 15 January 2021
Elena with a Catalan police agent, a firefighter and a rural agent yesterday (at the regional Ministry of the Interior) / EP
Tomorrow the Australian Open starts in Melbourne, with a final scheduled for the 30th. The eve of this first major tennis tournament of the season is enlivened by the soap opera Djokovic. That is to say, the retention of the Serbian tennis player, while the Australian justice decides whether he can enter – or not – the country and play the Open, despite having decided not to get vaccinated against Covid. That retention, which ended on Monday but was activated again on Friday, has fueled the Serbian patriotic sentiment, of mournful memory, expressed this time with the waving of national flags presided over by the double-headed eagle or the face of the athlete. When the judge decided to revoke the withdrawal of the visa on Monday, Djokovic’s relatives described this ruling as his “greatest victory”, they sang patriotic songs before the uncomfortable questions of the press, and the star’s mother affirmed that he had been tortured, as if it came out of Guantánamo.
Patriotism is a quality that can lead to jingoism, which is no longer. And it can be related to other qualities that are not. In the Djokovic case, he has associated himself with the anti-vaccines, who unsupportively reject the inoculation, despite protecting his and the collective health. Incidentally, he has associated himself with the inconsistency of Australia having applied restrictions to its subjects –Melbourne was confined for 265 days– and now opening the door to the notorious denier. The Serbs who these days have presented themselves as patriots may not be so. Patriots should be something else.
The search for the common good, not the individual, should be the north of true patriots
When speaking of patriots, the Hong Kong legislative elections of December 19 come to mind. They were the first to be called under the new Chinese legislation, which reserved them “only for patriots”: candidates who had the blessing of Chinese power, which excluded pro-democracy candidates who were not yet in prison or were already in prison. What are democracy, elections and patriotism reduced to when a regime calls elections and excludes dissent? Well, to a farce –the participation fell to 30%, half that in 2016–; and patriotism, to outrageous abuse. Those in Hong Kong who presented themselves in December as patriots were only minions of power. Patriots should be something else.
In Catalonia, where the members of the Government pride themselves on being very patriotic, in recent weeks we have witnessed an earthquake – or rather, a blast – at the top of Catalan police, the Mossos, beginning with the dismissal of its main person in charge, Major Trapero . The same –it must be a coincidence– that, crediting professionalism and political independence, he declared in the procés trial that he had a plan to arrest the entire Government if he had received a court order. We have also witnessed the dismissal of Toni Rodríguez, another independent professional, as head of the general judicial investigation police station; that is to say, the person in charge of substantiating the investigations into alleged cases of corruption that affect senior officials of the Generalitat and the environment of independence parties. The official version has attributed these relays to the desire to achieve a “more social, close, young, feminized and innovative” police force, in order to face “the new security challenges”. Laudable intention, of course. And very patriotic, no doubt. But also suspected of wanting to hinder, from the Government, the purification of inadmissible practices. It is good to face “new challenges”. But it would be better to solve the old ones. Because true patriots do not associate themselves with corruption or hide it or leave it unpunished. Patriots should be something else.
The phrase said in 1775 by Samuel Johnson: “Patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel”, which inspired him by William Pitt, is frequently quoted – and with little profit – but it was applicable to many more, including Boris Johnson, current occupant of Pitt’s easy chair. Less often, and perhaps more explicit, is this fragment of his essay The patriot (1774): “He is a patriot (…) who in his parliamentary life [speaks of politicians] does not act out of ambition or fear; neither with favoritism nor resentment, because it only pursues the common good”.
Patriots should be, in effect, something else: servants of the common good.