JUL 19, 2020
Lluís Bassets is a Spanish journalist, former deputy director of El País
Artur Mas in an image from 2012. ALBERT GARCIA
Every day we discover more paradoxes of Catalan independence. Its nature as a retarding movement with respect to the time of nationalisms has even been pointed out by its theorists. It is difficult not to understand as an anachronism the appeal to the formation of an own and independent state at the time of supranational integration or the alleged recovery of sovereignty at the height of its transfer or mutualisation. The paradox has been the progressive discovery of a populist avant-garde, recognized even in its own ranks among the brains with the most self-critical capacity.
The populism of the process, initially denied by its leaders, has a double roots to the right and the left, a circumstance that does not have neutralizing effects but quite the contrary, makes it a doubly reinforced national populism. It ties in with the illiberal nationalisms like Orban, Trump, Kaczynski and Johnson, but it has deep affinities with the alternative lefts of which Podemos, now in power, is the most successful example. The last example of the deep affinities with the two populisms has been revealed to us by the controversial letter from the 150 American intellectuals in favor of freedom of expression and cultural and political pluralism.
Unfortunately, contemporary Catalonia has also placed itself at the forefront of this issue. It is enough to read the text, published by Harper ‘s magazine, to perceive that everything that is said about the loss of pluralism and tolerance on the part of North American society can be read in a Catalan key regarding the last ten years of political life and cultural. In the cancellation culture we are also pioneers.
One of the paragraphs of the manifesto is enough to argue to what extent the independence movement has succeeded in eliminating the discordant voices due to a politically correct thought that assigns sovereignty the character of Catalan and democratic dogma: “This suffocating atmosphere will finally harm the causes most important of our time. The restriction of debate, whether by a repressive government or an intolerant society, invariably harms those without power and makes us all less able to participate democratically. The way to defeat pernicious ideas is through exposure, discussion and persuasion, not with silence or marginalization. “
The uniformist feat has not been easy, and has required not a few resources, also budgetary. Ideas, like wills, can also be bought. Much has been invested in these years. Also private resources led by the hand of the sovereign power in the same direction as its public resources. The game was uneven, with a player tied hand and foot. The government of Mariano Rajoy and its entire business and media environment did nothing to change things, and in a way it was very natural that from a nationalism of the opposite sign things should be posed as it only suits nationalists, not as it suited pluralism. of society and the freedom of all. In the end, all the money invested against the process have also favored the process, because it have served to build the perfect adversaries that the independentists needed. Perfect not to achieve independence, of course, but to reduce pluralism to ashes and convert all of Catalonia to unanimity.
The result is the silence of Catalan intellectuals, so soberly and precisely described by Jordi Amat in ‘The conspiracy of the irresponsible’ (Anagram) written from the photo of a group of notable thinkers who hailed Artur Mas in the Plaça Sant Jaume when he returned from the failed meeting with Mariano Rajoy in September 2012. This is a historical picture, which stages the conversion of the generation of commitment into the generation of unanimity and comfort.
Some have blatantly converted, from Leninist internationalism to ethnic nationalism. Others have done so with more discretion, in an ideological reversal of their acute and hemiplegic critical capacity, previously directed only to Pujolism and suddenly directed in the opposite direction only to the governments of Madrid, be they socialist or popular. Some made initial critical gestures and retreated when they received the first scolding. Others, finally, most likely, have been silent and devoted themselves to their affairs, just disgusted with each other, and unfortunately uncompromising with the public affairs of their country, Catalonia, and their institutions of self-government.
It is not my intention to discuss the soundness of pro-independence reasons, or their social and electoral roots, or their motivation rooted in history or motivated by recent politics, including court rulings. All this is taken for granted. I am only exposing the unfortunate reality of a homogeneous and restricted public opinion, able to express itself comfortably in the division of a confrontation between nationalisms -Catalan and Spanish- but with aversion to the nuances, to the intermediate positions and, finally, to the authentic deliberative democracy, the most delicate flower that only flourishes and bears fruit in a climate of genuine freedom and mutual respect among citizens.
This is the worst balance of the process: the ruin in which the Catalan public opinion is, the diminution of the critical conscience of its silent intellectuals, the deterioration of its means of culture and communication, the alarming weight of the fake news on the world and about our history disguised as bad excuses about stories and conceptual frameworks, the indifference with which citizens accept a decadence with which some still seek to dress the doll of their political failure and ultimately defeat the facts devoured by the ferocity of insults.