08/09/2019 23:59 Updated 09/09/2019 03:51
Catalanism was a propositional movement: it had an idea of Spain: plural, counterbalanced, modern. But it was also defensive: it struggled to maintain an ancient culture, miraculously saved from the garbage of history. The two souls of Catalanism translated this defensive component, but they were very different. The nationalism of Prat de la Riba (which Jordi Pujol intensifies based on German idealism) was intended to make essential several components of Catalanness perceived as untouchables; while the Catalanism generally linked to the left tended to Renan’s formula: the nation is a constant plebiscite and the contributions of newcomers are as important as those of the ones who already were there.
The nation of inclusive Catalanism was outlined by the Assembly of Catalonia, during anti-Francoism. But it lost the battle of ideas and power in the long governance of Pujol, who permeated Catalan institutions and promoted a vision of Catalonia, now hegemonic, from which independence is a natural consequence. Therefore, by making the nation an absolute over citizens, imposing its strategy on the entire Catalan population, the pro-independence move is ruining the common bases of Catalanism.
The pro-independence side dared to take a leap into the void regardless of half of the Catalans. And this caused a rebound effect: the antagonistic role of Citizens, the party opposed, not only to independence, but to all Catalan consensus. Vanished the internal plurality, the pro-independence crew advocates a country of absolute Catalanness, while at the other extreme, Citizens claim a seamless Spanishness. The result is a deadly trap for the Catalan language, which was a consensus value and is now a matter of confrontation.
Moreover, the confrontation of extremes between Cs and the pro-independence side has favored the overflow of exclusionary values, which are very harmful for living together. Cs has unquestionably incorporated an explicit anti-Catalan discourse, while anti-Spanish viscerality expands among the pro-independence bases.
Since inclusive Catalanism was the first victim of the binary approach (white or black), the Catalans have had to choose a trench and the tension has become chronic. Police actions, jail, judges (and their opposites: the desire for punishment, conviction before trial) have eroded the moral climate of the Catalans. The tension has favored the exalted. The auction of arguments is imposed, each time more strident, disrespectful, unrestrained.
The old integrative Catalanism is deformed and worn out while an instinctive nationalism exhibits musculature. Some pro-independence intellectuals are already Salvini-like without knowing it. Many voters and protesters, too. There are many talk-show guests who could be confused with those of TV-chain 13, if not because they speak in Catalan. Nationalism that hates neighbors or immigrants begins to gain ground, still not explicitly, but already audible. If the independence movement does not give a reformist rudder (which should imply the recognition of the errors of the procés), if the independence movement does not rectify the course, it will end up dragged by the populist and xenophobic wave that triumphs in the world.
Catalan nationalism, originally defensive, has been for many years now imposing, without a clear majority, its script on the totality of Catalans. On September 6 and 7, 2017, the pro-independence parties took themselves to the woods, disregarding the consensus that had always shielded Catalan strategic decisions. Unilateralism has resulted in a simplistic and elementary policy. In the public opinion the awful and alarmist guys often stand out. The Generalitat has been filled with minor, strident and mediocre characters.
What Catalan nationalists think and feel, their problems (prisoners), their plans, their ties, projects or tactics always go above any other reason, interest or argument. Their sadness is obligatory, their misfortunes must be purged by all 0f us, their delusions have to be shared. The pro-independence side dispenses with opponents; it only accepts and underlines the credibility of the results of the Parliament (although, in other elections, its support is quite minor). More than commanding, independence moralizes, and then blocks and paralyzes.
Making out of the nation an absolute, imposing the strategy on dissidents, ruining the common bases of Catalanism
Behind this scenario, however, disappointment and weariness germinates. It is possible that many of the tired out will come back on Wednesday; or maybe not anymore. On the opposite side, there may no longer be so many who would now vote for Cs. But an imprecise malaise has been installed in our society: the breaking of the feeling of union between Catalans is a fact. If ERC fails to create a rectification, the pro-independence crew will inevitably continue to slide until it converges with the Johnsons, Salvinis and company. It faces the risk of coming close to the worst mutations of contemporary populism.