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Home » Content » Ricardo Dudda: “Catalanism is still blind to the identity plurality of Catalans”
Dudda, author of 'The Truth of the Tribe' believes that Catalanism is "a moderate nationalism" which sells "consensuses that are not such".

Manel Manchón

01.03.2020 00:00 h.

Ricardo Dudda (Madrid, 1992) is a young journalist who has stood out for his analysis in Letras Libres, as a member of his editorial department. Author of The truth of the tribe. Political correctness and its enemies (Debate), Dudda deals fully in this interview with Global Chronicle with the field of Catalanism. He does not seek, precisely, political correctness or hide himself from the questions. Dudda offers a reflection that comes from observation and analysis, and his conclusion is clear: “Catalanism remains blind to the identity plurality of Catalans”.

– Question: In Catalonia, they continue playing with the idea of a future for Catalanism, that it is about recovering its spirit, and various political formations think about the possibility of preparing a candidacy for the next Catalan elections. How does an analyst, from outside the Catalan pitch, see it? What vision has been had in the rest of Spain of Catalanism and what vision is there now?
–Response: I think there is a commendable attempt to “deflate” and to disassociate Catalan nationalism from independence. But there is also an intentional forgetting of what happened in the fall of 2017. Political Catalanism today wants to act as if the procés had not happened. It defends to speak again of competences, of federalism, of distribution of territorial power. That’s fine. It is better than talking about unilaterality. But the procés has happened, and one of its main effects is that it has awakened an explicitly anti-Catalanist electorate; It is an electorate that maintains a Catalan-Spanish hybrid identity (the unionists usually consider themselves as much Spanish as Catalans, something that does not happen with the pro-independence cohorts) but who no longer buys the account of the Catalan consensus. The discourse of pro-pact Catalanism, of consensus and pragmatism, is in a way like that of post-1989 triumphalist liberalism: it sold consensuses that really were not such. Catalanism I think is still blind to the plurality of identity and preferences of Catalans.

– Continuing with that question, should Catalanism necessarily end in nationalism and this one in independence?
– Catalanism is a nationalism. It is a moderate nationalism but it is a nationalism that has promoted, with more subtlety than the pro-independence move, a grievance story; it has sold consensuses that are not such (that of linguistic immersion is the clearest one) and has promoted an asymmetrical and unsupportive federalism based on supposed territorial rights. For years it has been the intellectual support of the pro-independence drift. It runs the risk of continuing to be. The contemporary foundational myths of procés, from the Statute to the fiscal pact of Mas in 2012, have been constructed by Catalanism, not by explicitly separatist pro-independence promoters. What these pro-independence segments have also achieved with the procés is, in some way, undressing Catalanism. Catalanism and pro-independence share the same mental frameworks. A good part of current Catalanism thinks that the big problem of pro-independence and the procés was their “hurries”, their “naivety”, their bad strategy, their blindness to what actually means to confront the State. But they do not denounce the basic illegitimacy of the project, based on falsehoods and manipulations, on ethno-linguistic arguments and on the systemic denial of half of the population.

– Several authors such as Francesc Marc Álvaro, now propose a correction, a kind of change of course. Is it credible, what are they looking for, in your opinion, with these new approaches coming from the pro-independence side?
–In his Essay of a revolt, Marc-Álvaro tries to recover a little the dignity of Catalan nationalism after the procés. He rescues the Catalanism of the early twentieth century and Pujol; and he promotes the thesis that the independence promoters tried to go too fast. He tries to promote a dialogue but always under his conditions. The main one is a kind of general amnesty for pro-independence promoters. I do not mean the political prisoners only but all the pro-independence crew. What happened in 2017 is ancient history. You have to put “bright lights”, look forward and other completely empty clichés. In that way, the same independence movement that was insurrectionary can be converted into a Pujolist Catalanism, and everything will be Ok. It is the attitude of ERC now. And the central government has purchased it.

– Do you understand that the case of Álvaro is symptomatic, showing a fundamental problem in Catalonia nobody wants to assume?
– I think it is a problem of the Catalan nationalist elites, who one day say that the fascist state must be overthrown and the next complain that the fascist state does not want to talk to them. It has always been this way in the procés: disobedience was tried and negotiation was requested immediately after. It is a constant calculation. It is the key to nationalism, the mixture of superiority and victimhood.

– The pro-Independence side, and Catalan politics, as a whole, periodically refer to the need for an alternative, a proposal, from the other side. Should that idea be taken into account? What alternative? What in your opinion has not worked in the State as a whole and with respect to the autonomic entities?
–I’m a little cynical about it. There are requests from the constitutionalism that we must build an inclusive idea of ​​Spain that seduces. But I don’t know how that is done. When talking about building a “country project” I don’t know very well what this means. Maybe it was something we could have done in the 19th century. But doing in the XXI what we could not do in the XIX is useless. Going to something more concrete, I see it legitimate to ask what State we want, what territorial distribution we want. But that debate cannot be made between Madrid and Barcelona. What State does Almeria want, where people feel ignored by Seville; Leon, where they feel ignored be Valladolid? Just to give you several examples. Catalan governments have to accept from now on, and especially after the failure of the procés, that perhaps Catalonia is not more important than other regions. Even the most moderate catalanist has problems when he is suggested that his demands are perhaps as important as those of other regions, when he is told that he has to negotiate at the same level as other communities (this, on the other hand, has not happened much ). If we want federalism, let’s have federalism (and in many ways we already have it, a very elaborate one), but not a two-speed federalism, such as the two-speed Euro that the EU creditor countries asked for during the 2010 crisis. Catalanism has always called for bilateralism for itself and multilateralism for the rest. It should not be acceptable that negotiating with Catalan governments is a kind of appeasement so that they continue within the law. There is a veiled threat: either you give me what I want or I go back to the streets.

– Put another way, what truths, if any, have you found in the pro-independence discourse? What part of truth is there in it?
– There are so many myths that it is difficult to get something real. If we look at the devolving of powers to Catalonia in recent decades, its evolution has been constant. There have been no centralizing setbacks. When powers are transferred, they are not lost again. Nor do I think there are legitimate sentimental reasons. Support for independence before the Statute was minimal. Can it go back to those levels? I doubt it. But pro-independence is not an immemorial demand either. Nor is there an economic argument. There is a clear association between income and support for independence, and between Catalan mother tongue and independence. The problem is not what the State has to give to Catalonia, it is what the Catalan government has to give to a part of the electorate that it has ignored for decades.

– Can the dialogue board President Sánchez has launched with the pro-independence side be understood? Is it an offense to democracy, as some sectors of the right proclaim, but also of the anti-nationalist left?
– It is not understandable beyond the interest of Pedro Sánchez to approve the budgets and that of ERC to surpass JxCAT. But it sends a message of hopelessness to the anti-independence side, who not only have no representation at the board but their demands are possibly not even met. It is obvious that Quim Torra is not president of all Catalans. He has remembered it too many times. For years the word “dialogue” has become a mantra in Catalonia that does not mean anything. There are columnists on the issue that seem to use the same template for years: “we have to talk”. But about what? “Dialogue without restrictions”, but the dialogue according to the pro-independence people is full of restrictions and limitations. The most obvious is: my feelings cannot be explained, they can only be accepted. And then, there we talk. The function of the dialogue board is precisely to demonstrate that there is dialogue, as if there was something to talk about. The fight for dates, logistics, already shows that it is pure staging. The dialogue as an end in itself. The necessary dialogue is between Catalans, not between a disabled president and a president whose thoughts are unknown.

Is it impossible to reach consensus in Spain between the left and the right? Have the two political conceptions been thrown into their respective corners?
–I see it almost impossible. We are in a multi-party block. There is collaboration within the blocks (PSOE and Podemos, PP and Vox and Cs) but not among them. It is sad because there are more and more post-ideological issues. But the polarization means that if the left raises something sensible, as it comes from the left, the right is going to upset it. The same goes the other way around. The agricultural problem or the demographic problem has been appropriated by Vox. The fact that they believe they are standard bearers for those causes does not make them false. But there are people from the left already attacking the countryside with condescension. Partisan polarization is normal but thematic polarization is worrying: that issue is not dealt with because it is left-wing or right-wing.

–You referred, in your book The Truth of the Tribe. Political correctness and its enemies, to cultural wars, which would be the only thing that motivates and mobilizes the respective electorates. How can this issue be fought, so that politics can return?
–We must be careful with nostalgia. I don’t know where politics has to return to. There are many things that have changed. It is possible that cultural wars are a consequence of a more plural society. On the other hand, it is true that the parties today differ more in cultural than material issues. The psychological and media cultural warfare is combined with technocracy. The Western Social Democratic left today continues to play that way: it makes orthodox and even neoliberal policies and combines them with the politics of identity and cultural warfare. What defines you ideologically is your positioning in cultural battles, not your public policies. That is why you can make right-wing fiscal policies and make left-wing cultural war and remain left-wing.

– Can it be considered that the failure of Citizens is the greatest failure of a political force in Spain, taking into account the expectations and possibilities that had been generated?
– I think the expectations inflated were generally those of its leader. That’s why he did well to leave when they hit the floor so heavily. The mixture of caesarism and dogmatism led the party to ruin. Even when the party realized that it would not surpass the PP, it remained firm in its position completely contrary to giving the government to the PSOE. It is true that Pedro Sánchez, unlike with the pro-independence politicians, requested unconditional adherence. But once the dream of becoming the hegemonic center-right party is over, Cs should have returned to his position as a transactional centrist: I support you if you guarantee me these measures that are part of my program. The 2016 pact is already far away, but it showed that it was possible.


– When things go wrong for a political force, it is usually considered that they have sinned for not having a clear and forceful discourse. Do you think that is the case of the Basque PP with Alfonso Alonso? Do you understand that Iturgaiz is re-used?
– I think the case of Alonso has more to do with the results the PP has obtained under the leadership of Alonso, and due to internal battles of the party (as José Antonio Zarzalejos has written, the Basque subsidiary of the PP had since Rajoy been completely ignored , something that has also happened in the Catalan PP). What happens when you compete with nationalist parties is that if you get too close to them they phagocyte you, and if you get too far away from them you end up on the margins and ignored, because it is the nationalists who set the rules of the game. The two options are: scream a lot from the outside and get nothing or integrate into their game and get nothing. I’m not very optimistic, as you see. For example, the victory of Ciudadans in 2017 is very important but it was because it took advantage of the crack that opened after October 1. It was circumstantial. It was not stable either. It was a vote of rage. I can’t imagine anything like it unless there is another fall of 2017.



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