November 24, 2019 11:24
The joint editorial in the thermodynamics of the ‘procés’ On the occasion of the tenth anniversary of the publication of the joint editorial “The dignity of Catalonia”, the author reflects on that fact and its consequences.
‘Procesism’ can be understood as the upper phase of ‘pujolism’; it is the hot secessionist claim once the autonomist stage designed by Jordi Pujol (catalanization strategy, banal or cold nationalism) is consummated. In this qualitative leap, the joint editorial, “La dignidad de Catalunya”, published ten years ago – on November 26, 2009 – in a large part of the Catalan press, plays a decisive role. The piece entail, on the one hand, the notarial certification of the success of the ‘pujolismo’, since a majority sector of the media assumes the postulates of that one; and anticipates, on the other, the turn towards that higher phase in which the autonomist moment is declared surpassed. Let’s look at both aspects.
The success of the pujolist cognitive placenta
A few days ago, university senates (in addition to town halls and other institutions), tuned to the most outstanding student groups, seconded the secessionist interpretation of the Supreme Court ruling against those convicted of the events of the autumn of 2017. Since the intelligentsia is considered as an essential actor for political culture, it is worth noting that this bias of the Catalan academic sector is part of a sequence of precedents, which reveals the depth of the identity socialization of a good part of the intelligentsia, that one precisely claiming for itself the ownership of representation.
These precedents include the presentation ceremony of the manifesto in favor of monolingualism in the Paraninfo of the University of Barcelona (encouraged by philologists and sociolinguists of the Koiné group), the Spain vs. Catalonia Symposium (led by historians), the celebration of the Tricentennial with its epicenter in the necrophilic premises of El Born (directed by archaeologists), the contribution of groups of researchers specialized in identity or legal issues or some declarations of professional associations. While these lines are being written, the balcony of the main facade of the Library of Catalonia is adorned with a banner that proclaims: “Tsunami Democràtic. Tornem als carrers. #Tsunami Democràtic”.
The starting point for this institutional enlistment is found in the joint editorial, which shows the assumption of a militant nationalist position by the “Catalan communication space”, a decisive ecosystem for the gathering of the other actors responsible for ethnonacionalist inflammation: the autonomous government, local corporations (AMI) and civil society organizations (ANC, Òmnium Cultural).
The initiative is part of the interpretative template set by Pujol in response to the trial for Banca Catalana from which he was perplexingly acquitted: mobilization in the street “in relief” to Pujol-Catalonia and symbolic appropriation of noble rhetoric (“About ethics, moral and fair play [that is, democracy] we will the ones to talk”). Not even Pujol’s confession five years ago has managed to puncture mystification.
The performative power of the editorial
The official secessionist version establishes the sentence of the Constitutional Court on the Statute of Catalonia as drafted by the tripartite government of Pascual Maragall the starting point of the ‘Proces’; a reading that is part of the adversarial and victimhood logic. But this version is not consistent with two survey data: the low interest in the territorial issue throughout 2009 and a significant increase in the secessionist option months before the sentence. The hypothesis of the thermodynamic effect of the joint editorial is compatible with both observations.
The editorial is an indicator of the servitude of a sector as crucial to civic culture as that of the media
Let’s replace it in its moment. The Palau and Pretoria corruption cases have just emerged. Millet confesses his responsibility on October 23. The subject occupies the main pages until November 12, when the conversations between Mas and Montilla are known, preceded by many others. Progressively the sentence, which is still half a year long away, displaces corruption in media attention. Coincidence? Pujol clears doubts on TV3 (10/27/2009): “If we enter here [corruption], we will do a lot of damage to ourselves. […] Let’s not enter”.
Next we observe the change, the transfer of attribution of guilt. The focus of the social issue (corruption, stratification or vertical dimension) is transferred to the identity (dignity, territorial or horizontal dimension), the object of the attribution of those responsible for the plunder to the coming perpetrators (the Constitutional Court) of the victimization; in short, the problem is reformulated in terms of litigation between Spain and Catalonia.
On November 26, the editorial, “La dignidad de Catalunya”, is published. It is a clever game, which follows the canon of Banca Catalana or the ruling of the Supreme Court last October: spiral of adhesions amplified by the adept public media system, cultivation of indignation, rhetoric of humiliation and disaffection, disqualification of Spanish democracy. Forgotten were the specific concerns that led the surveys; alternative facts monopolize attention.
The victimhood discourse is a classic, the particular thing about this occasion is its barely veiled call to action, its performativity: “If necessary, Catalan solidarity will once again articulate the response of a responsible society”, ends the allegation, which is already an articulated response.
The relationship between the editorial and the secessionist mobilization is explicitly and literally endorsed by Salvador Cardús, one of the nationalizing agents chosen by Pujol in the sowing years, in a column in La Vanguardia (04/09/2013): “La Vía Catalana is that Catalan solidarity of a responsible society that should articulate a legitimate response, as announced by the joint editorial. There is, clearly, a thread that links that 2009 editorial with the 2013 Catalan Way. […] Everyone who noticed it now feels comfortable with the success of its forecast”.
Cardús omits that the performative statements (those that are realized by the mere fact of the enunciation) cannot miss the prognosis: the mobilizations of 2010 are read from that template. The sentence serves as an ex post alibi as well as proactive fuel: the breath of the sentence was the main mobilizing device, as editorialized by La Vanguardia (11/07/2010). Like what we are seeing now, but this time with the accumulation of accomplished facts and the very worrying depression of the threshold of tolerance to violence; including its justification, either as useful to make the conflict visible, or as a piece of evidence of patriotic devotion.
The editorial is both a master rhetorical move and an indicator of the servitude of a sector as crucial to civic culture as that of the media. Today’s incandescent moment draws on the qualitative formula articulated then; although some of its manipulators remain immaculate in their pulpits. How far we are from the ethical requirement of Balmes: “You have not set foot on the edge prescribed by law, you have not exasperated the spirits, you have not stoked the fire”.
*** Martín Alonso is a political scientist and author of ‘Catalanismo, del éxito al éxtasis’ (El Viejo Topo).