JORDI CAPO GIOL – 12/01/2019 00:05
Images: Sonia Pulido
Ten years have passed since the death of Jordi Solé Tura (Mollet del Vallès, 1930 – Barcelona, 2009). Undoubtedly, in the collective memory there is still the memory of his fundamental contribution in the elaboration of the Spanish Constitution of 1978 as one of the seven speakers who elaborated their master lines; but times change and in the light of current political events, which seem to call into question the structure of the democratic system of the last forty years, one might think in a rash manner that today reviewing the trajectory of Jordi Solé could tell us little.
In a very quick outline, Solé Tura was a university professor, exiled for political reasons, later incarcerated, leader of the Unified Socialist Party of Catalonia (PSUC), founder of the Red Flag, MP in the first democratic elections of 1977 and constitutional speaker, and Minister of Culture already in the socialist ranks with Felipe González. A very quick sketch indeed, because it does not talk about his activity in the famous Pyrenean Radio nor about the difficulties to finish as a teacher a complete course in his law faculty, nor of the agreements and disagreements with the direction of the party, nor of so many other things; but It allows to synthesize a period in which few people like him can show so well the path that goes from anti-Francoism to the triumph of democracy.
From this biography, the central moment is the drafting of the 1978 Constitution. Today, when Catalonia-Spain relations go through a serious crisis, Catalan contributions to the institutional structure of these forty years of democracy have to be pointed out. Of the seven fathers of the Constitution, two were Catalan, Miquel Roca i Junyent and Solé Tura. Its Catalan and Catalanist sensibility is key to understand the creation of a system of strong autonomies and that, for the first time in a Spanish Constitution, there appears an explicit and resounding mention of the existence of nationalities in Spain.
The perspective of a plurinational and federalist understanding, not well developed later, opened. However, how had Solé Tura come to think of a consensus constitution that could give solution to the problem of democracy and the problem of the nationalities of Spain? For him, political activity was not disconnected from a deep theoretical reflection. In 1977 he published with Eliseo Aja the book Constitutions and constituent ¬periods (1808-1936), a historical review of the Spanish political instability provoked, according to his interpretation, because the constitutional texts, under a conservative background, were partisan, assuming the triumph of a political idea over that of his adversaries, which simultaneously implied the rejection of the losers and the need for a change when circumstances allowed.
His contribution was fundamental to elaborate a Constitution that would allow forgetting about the two Spains
The idea of consensus, the idea of a pact, is present in this study in line with notions shared by much of the anti-Franco opposition. Thus, the Communist Party spoke of “pact for freedom” or Raimon sang “A l’any quaranta quan jo vaig néixer, tots havíem perdut”[In the year 1940, when I was born, everyone had lost]. In this context, his contribution implies a creative reflection based on historical knowledge. While many times the problem of historical memory simply becomes the memory of past grievances and the repetition of starting positions, for Solé Tura, questions about the past became elements for a new proposal, a Constitution without winners or defeated, a compromise constitution that allowed a new building, forgetting the two Spains.
The Catalan-Spain relations had also been the subject of a long theoretical reflection. In fact, this was one of the problems that, as an intellectual and as a politician, had worried him the longest. There are many writings that he dedicated to it, but especially Catalanism and bourgeois revolution, a study on Prat de la Riba that caused much controversy (with which we cannot deal here) to highlight the limitations of a conservative Catalanism. That is why his defense of a Catalanism that did not divide the working class for linguistic reasons in Catalonia nor be separated from all popular movements from the rest of Spain, without which it would not be possible to reach democracy.
For Solé Tura, without autonomy there would be no democracy; neither would there be if self-determination projects divided the Catalan and state left. His votes in this regard were clearly explained in the constituent debates and in his book Nationalities and nationalisms in Spain: autonomies, federalism, self-determination. And another aspect of the intellectual function of Solé Tura should still be noted. His concern for the sclerosis of Marxist thought, for the orthodoxy defined by Stalinism, led him to introduce the work of Gramsci and Poulantzas into our country. If in the plan of political activity this is the path that leads him from the PSUC to the founding of the Red Flag and the return to a PSUC already clearly Euro-communist and then to the socialist ranks, in the intellectual aspect that means seeking a Marxism that does not start out of vulgarizations and clichés and is capable of many qualifications about the class struggle, the very idea of what social classes are and the forms of their domain.
He defended a Catalanism that did not divide the working class in Catalonia for linguistic reasons
Antidogmatic thinking is at the base of his understanding of the problems of political alliances and the correlation of forces necessary for political and social transformations. That is why Jordi Solé Tura has yet to be remembered. Because, if the times of the transition have passed, may be not many things have changed so that his theoretical reflection cannot be useful to us. Perhaps the crisis of the Constitution puts us all back at the starting point because the historical transformations are very slow and we have to wonder if the problems between Catalonia and Spain are not the very same he had to face as well.