Josep Burgaya, November 1, 2021
A sub-Saharan man sells pro-independence flags during a demonstration in 2017. Photograph by Xavier Jubierre.
In the independence discourse we find a closed story, horizons of progress and emancipation, the biased use of history and the construction of myths
The independence movement has experienced an unusual and unexpected impulse in Catalonia in recent years, to the point of mobilizing almost half of the vote in the last electoral calls, conditioning the agenda and the Spanish political dynamics, in addition to questioning and putting into crisis the reform and the political framework of the 1978 Constitution. Despite not constituting a political majority, neither simple nor less qualified, the independence discourse, as well as its ability to elaborate an attractive story in a situation of crisis and confusion, has achieved to become absolutely hegemonic, occupying almost exclusively the communication space.
Today, when its great strategic objectives have been frustrated and there seems to be a kind of going towards realpolitik, the story remains immovable. If its recruitment capacity is very remarkable, it has been more so the elaboration of elements of identity creation, of ideas-force on which to maintain a long process of political mobilization -the process- that has been sustained with the use of a part significant significance of the populist instrumental, adapted in this case for the cohesion of the middle classes and relatively well off in a battle not so much of access to power in Catalonia, which already possessed in good part since 1980, but of expanding and shielding it, against the traditional dominant sectors linked to the Spanish economic, social and political mainstream.
When analyzing the conformation of the independence discourse from 2010, deepened and radicalized after 2015, we find a remarkable parallelism with the construction of populist imaginaries: a closed story, the visualization of horizons of progress and emancipation, the biased use of history and the construction of myths, the friend-enemy identification, the cohesive power of victimhood, the construction of an imaginary reality, extreme polarization, the creation of concepts and own language, the mobilizing use of social networks, the use of the “alternative truths”, the supremacist identity, the authoritarian and exclusive drives … A discourse and a political narrative that contains elements of Ibero-American left-wing populism, but also and above all of Trumpism, the ideology of Brexit and European identity populism of the new illiberal right. Tribal emotionality versus enlightened reason. National populism represents an important threat not only for Spanish institutions, but also for European institutions that rest on stability and the tacit and explicit acceptance of the borders established after the Second World War and with the adjustments produced with the dissolution of the Soviet model.