Josep M. Margenat, July24, 2020
CONVERSES DE CATALUNYA – We constitute a group of people from different experiences, united by the will to work together to favor the configuration of a large central space in Catalan politics. We propose to stimulate a new political culture based on positive competition, transactional dialogue and the search for agreements to generate positive synergies between political, social, cultural and economic actors.
There is a difference between 1931 and 2020. In 1931 Spain left behind the monarchy that it had supported, if not propitiated (Picasso file), the coup d’état of the first military dictatorship led by Primo de Rivera. In 2020 the parliamentary monarchy, confirmed on 6 December 1978, has ensured a period of political and economic stability for integration into the European Union, probably the most structurally important event of recent decades, and the guarantee of secularism and democratic pluralism.
The crown may be in question for many. The monarchy, the key to the constitutional pact, is not, despite the obvious minority campaign artificially fed to distract attention from the truth, to hide reality.
The scandals of the crown are evident to many of us. We don’t have to remember them. Many of us are hurt, many of us are uneasy, many are stirring. The former crown holder committed alleged corruption crimes, but does this lead to the historic opportunity for a new Republican constitution? Are we sure that a republic would be more democratic than the parliamentary monarchy? Are we sure that the republic is the rational form of government and therefore, specifically human, as Antonio Machado intended in 1931?
At the time, Machado thought of the historical, mystical or sentimental reasons possible to sustain the monarchy. He was right when he added that these would never be “proper reasons, arising from generic thought, the human power to rise to ideas.” Machado was an independent, lucid thinker, with authority to write about this and other topics, which did not always guarantee him to be right or, at least, our conformity.
There is another reason that is rational, a reason in its own sense. Today the cordial reason, which was not discussed in 1931, is more recognized as a legitimate reason, part of the practical rationality that must be put into play to speak or write about this subject.
Two previous contexts referred to: 1923-1931, 1975-1978. Two reasons below: discursive and cordial.
The monarchy is, for most Spaniards, the key to the constitutional pact, of the system we have called the social and democratic state of law, of a democratically advanced society, of our integration into an European constitutionalized system of social market economy. The Spanish citizens, who confirm the constitutional pact including the monarchy and those who did not personally confirm it with their vote, but have confirmed it with their citizen exercise for forty years or less, we know that this, like any pact, part of the discussion and eventual negotiation, and seeks the integration of different visions, needs and expectations. By definition, the pact integrates cordial reasons, i.e. formulations of practical reason, based on strongly entrenched convictions and values that are not simply the deductive result of discursive rationality, but rational and reasonable formulations and options, part of cordial rationality.
In parentheses. It is striking that the right, the rugged and the irredeemable, both, point to political emotion to use the crown in their interest, and if they do not like what it has achieved, it lashed out at it, and that the left, which wants to break the constitutional pact and who continues to want to be ethically supremacist, joins the same carriage of the discrediting right. The supposedly rational left playing political emotivism? It’s hard to think about it. It is hard to think that the most steadfast bras of the monarchy in Spain are two programmatically republican parties, the Basque nationalists and the Socialists, allies since the 1930s, when the Republic and the Spanish War. It’s hard to understand a lot of things. both parties with timely alliances on one side or the other are the current and firm support of the constitutional pact and, therefore, of the monarchy. Two parties that have contributed to common sense since the war in Spain, once this common sense was abandoned by the other moderate tradition of large sectors of the Catalan bourgeoisie, today quite orphan of referents.
The reasons for the cordial reason are as rational as those of discursive reason, no more, but no less. To use only the reasons for rationality would represent an unreasonable sum. Surrendering to political emotivism, a lack of dexterity that this left can pay dearly for in the coming years, disappearing from centrality. One can already see some signs.
In fact, it is well known, the monarchical question as a form of government is of little detail. The current real alternative is not between parliamentary monarchy and republic, but between government of extractive and unsupportive elites and government for social, economic and cultural integration and development, for their promotion and for the elimination of the obstacles that prevent citizens and the groups of which they are part. The real alternatives are not between the demagogic opposition between caste and people, already written by a mediocre author, Sieyes, and reinforced the inventor of the general will, Rousseau. The real alternative lies between more democratic and extractive governments.
A referendum on the form of state, monarchy or republic, is an emotional and false deception.
Nothing would be decided in a hypothetical referendum, a way that we have “to take with a pinch of salt”. Dual referendums do not facilitate the previous consensuses and necessary pacts. From emancipatory traditions or convictions, criticism, enlightened, socialist, a dual referendum leads first to a deception, then to a catastrophe, because it raises a false debate that nothing good can come out of, from which sometimes you simply cannot get out of.
In fact, for decades, our parliamentary democracies – regardless of whether they are republic or monarchic – are elective aristocracies. We choose alternatives among the elites, in the best sense of the word, ruling minorities and their administrative framework to bring governance of different areas of the political body: European federal union, state federal union, regions and municipalities (or other forms, such as the Basque provinces, lobbyists, etc.).
The community or political body must govern the principle of federal subsidiarity. The real debate is not between republic and monarchy, but the more subsidiary federalism, that is, more participatory democracy, or more extractive centralisms. Federalism is more democratic, more social. Subsidiary federalism is the issue, but those who have power manage to establish cheating mental frameworks, distort true debates and transform them into apparent decisive issues: monarchy or republic, national independence or supranational integration, self-owned state or foreign state, protectionism or commercial globalization. Others may fall into this trap, but it is up to Christians and all thinkers of deep reflection to warn that these narrow horizons are not true, because the authentic horizons are others: the globalization of solidarity, not indifference, that of open humanism not self-referential, that is, integral, secular, pluralist, eco-social transitions and liberation processes. These are the horizons.
Finally, some clarifications.
Those who from the self-styled left defend a referendum on the crown would do well to clarify whether what they want is an emotionally charged election about the biopolitical exercise of the previous crown holder or on the monarchical principle as the key to the constitutional pact.
The purported referendum in the background would not be so keen to decide the form of state, but to amend the constitutional pact in favor of another hegemony. The issue is to differentiate whether it is to change one ruling class to another (which was intended between 2013 and 2020) or to change the hegemony of the ruling class. This major change, which was partly achieved between 1977 and 1978, is not clear that it is now possible. Peaceful change was achieved in 1931, it was truncated with the military-fascist coup of 1936 and the second dictatorship until 1975. But if the issue were the change or simple change of the ruling class, it must be said and not treat citizens as minors. It would not seem coherent that Republican values and feelings (yes, feelings) are appealed to steal a rational debate about the ruling class, which for now is not raised, hiding that it is only intended to exchange one portion of the ruling class for another portion. This is a matter of first order.
The crown, that is, the historical exercise embodied by the monarchy in one of the two bodies of the king, is the concrete symbol, historized, of the permanence and continuity of the political body. The crown exerts this symbolism, but the body of the king absolutely does not exhaust the symbol, because there is another royal body that endures beyond the corporeity of which it bears the ownership of the crown. Perhaps it would be worthwhile for us to value this permanence in these three dimensions without always confusing them: the monarchy as a form, the crown as an institution and the crown as a personal exercise.
The crown is a guarantee of secularism of the political body, precisely because of its non-secularist origin. That is why the crown must not be self-justified every day, as a secular republic should do, promoting secularism as a civic religion, but has the capacity to respect, integrate and guarantee the religious pluralism that exists in our society from a first empathy towards religion, in particular towards its Christian manifestation. Against what might seem, this empathy not only does not detract from the crown’s impartiality, but also favors an exercise in the guarantee of pluralism and coexistence. This is another paradox. A Catholic king, like that of Spain, is the best guarantee of the non-confessionality of the political body.
The crown has finally been able to integrate the plural difference of the peoples of the Hispanic plot. Precisely because of its inclusive tradition, and not uniform republican Jacobin, at a certain time the crown can remain the cornerstone of a renewed constitutional pact that in Spain definitively recognizes the shape of subsidiary federalism and its culture of mutual loyalty, as a key to the sharing of competing powers within the framework of a European Union that has federalism and subsidiarity as keys to its constitutional architecture expressed in the Treaty of Lisbon.
In 1931 Machado wrote that the monarchy had failed “in the eyes of the people” so that it was not accompanied by the arguments of historical success or religious sentiment. Therefore, the poet concluded, the monarchy the monarchy “doesn’t have a possible defense and, in truth, no one defends it.”
Eighty-nine years later, this is not the situation. The monarchy and the political exercise (not the private, personal, family, but when did this matter in the republic?) The previous holder of the crown and the current one have been a historical success story. That’s why there’s a cordial reason to defend it.
The constitutional monarchy of 1876 ended in failure because it supported a putsch and contributed to the destruction of the Spanish nation until 1931. The destruction of Spain and its nations continued intended and really from 1931 to 1975. The parliamentary monarchy of 1978 has not failed. Let’s not get confused. Now we’re looking at a success story.
Today’s parliamentary monarchy does not derive from religious sentiment, but for many may be the best guarantee of the plausibility of religious sentiment in public life. The monarchy is the constitutional key to the pluralistic secularism of the political body and, therefore, of respect for citizens.
The monarchy can be – as many Republicans think, not just many monarchists – the best guarantee of the unity of the Spanish political body in the European framework and in the subsidiary federal composition of Hispanic nations and other constitutionally recognized realities.
Success, secularism in pluralism and unity in diversity are the three reasons for the cordial reason to defend the monarchy, and even the crown, as the best political form for our advanced democratic society.
For decades, our parliamentary democracies – regardless of whether they are republic or monarchy – have been elective aristocracies. We choose alternatives among elites, ruling minorities and their administrative framework.