The “procés” has often resorted to analogies. Throughout these years, numerous comparisons have been used and recycled: Quebec and Scotland were the preferred models for a while. Later, the independence of Slovenia and the Kosovo route was discussed. But the most striking has been the use of the prestige of the condition of victim: the alleged state repression of the independence movement, which could also be described as the application of the rule of law, was presented as an affront similar to, the great cases of oppression of the past and the present.
To compare Spain with a regime like Turkey or to present it as a dictatorship, is a stupidity that does not even serve to deceive the type of correspondent that, the New York Times sends to picturesque countries where, he believes nothing serious will ever happen . Data on the quality of Spanish democracy – imperfect, improvable, which must always be monitored and corrected – are abundant and accessible. When someone speaks of Spain as a Franco regime, it is not necessary to rebut him: there is no point in arguing with someone who says that, man never came to the moon and, that everything was shot one summer night in the Bardenas . Life is too short to discuss with terraplanistas .
The accusations insult intelligence. But, although it comes from the same feeling of moral superiority, identification with the victims is more offensive. To a certain extent, it is a frequent element of nationalism: a defeat evokes a more fertile memory than a victory, as the Serbs have shown with Kosovo, the French with Alesia, the United States Southerners with Gettysburg. It is a historical grievance, and nationalists believe that this can be corrected in the future. Others, more cynical, know that is not possible, but they also know that, the promise of reparation can be profitable.
And, on the other hand, in our time, the victims have a higher moral status. As Todorov said, “nobody wants to be a victim, but everyone wants to have been a victim”. If the condition of victim is true or false is the least: what matters are perceptions and feelings.
Everything is a matter of degree and, in this case, the most striking is, the distance between the two terms of the comparison. It was never easier to be a hero. It has never been cheaper to be a victim. The only unpleasant moment is, if there is a real victim who can answer you: you need to have guts to look at the victim in the eyes. But many times, the victims really died, the survivors have other things to think about and, the best liar is the one who believes his own lie.
Even so, it was not entirely edifying to see the ANC using the Ukrainian Maidan as an analogy to its rebellion against a liberal democracy. It was shocking to hear Deputy Tardà comparing the independence leaders in preventive detention, with Mandela and Ghandi. And it was uncomfortable, to see the separatists who insulted old Spanish Republicans calling them fascists, in a tribute to the poet Antonio Machado. The Israeli diplomacy criticized that Elsa Artadi , at that time spokesman of the Government, used a phrase of the diary of Anne Frank, to comment the situation of the imprisoned politicians. The Luther King Institute asked president of the Generalitat, Quim Torra, to stop using the figure of the defender of civil rights. The pyrotechnic sector of secessionism is like one of those guys who jump naked on the grass before the football finals, but instead of interrupting the World Championship they try to take on the pain and heroism of others.
It is easy to be outraged by the propagandist use, by the Catalonian Government, of a tribute to the victims of Nazism in the Mauthausen camp. You may be surprised by the lack of modesty. And it can upsetting the evident tactical error, as Manuel Jabois has written: in front of the Holocaust any denunciation is small, including the preventive detention of Raül Romeva. Even from a strictly nationalist point of view it is unfair: by reducing the memory of the suffering of the victims of Nazism to a propaganda excuse, the life, effort and suffering of many Catalans are despised, who, yes, fought against real oppressions and not imagined ones. Good judgement discourages from assessing what this show implies for the consideration of dignity of the human being.
However, this occasion also gives us a valuable key. A few years ago, when the “historical memory” was fashionable, there was the scandal of Enric Marco. Marco, president of the Amical de Mauthausen , told for years that he had been a prisoner in a concentration camp. He had explained his sufferings in schools and, at the Spanish Parliament: his tragedy had ripped the tears from elected representatives. Marco was summoned to speak before the president of the government of Spain and the Austrian chancellor, as well as dozens of former deportees, in an act of commemoration of the Mauthausen liberation.
The historian Benito Bermejo Sánchez noticed the inconsistencies of Marco’s story, investigated and demonstrated that his captivity was an invention. He had never been a prisoner in a Nazi concentration camp. Marco’s biography, narrated by Javier Cercas in “El impostor” , is a series of lies that he was modifying as time passed: he was a falsifier of his biography, a narcissist who believed his own lies and, took advantage of the historical memory industry , a rogue and “the personification of a lie”.
Enric Marco is the scale model of the independence movement. It is someone who presented himself as a victim without being a victim and, who appropriated the experience of the real victims.
The example that secessionism must adopt for commemorations, is not a medieval dictator like Wilfredo el Velloso , which the expresident Artur Mas called “symbolic father of the Catalan homeland”, nor leaders in the fight for civil rights, whose example is incongruous in a rebellion of the rich against the poor determined by ethno-linguistic differences, but the kitsch impostor Enric Marco.
The Catalan Republic should deliver a badge with its name: the Republic does not exist and Marco was not in a concentration camp, but at this point, we will not lose our time in details.
Procés. A way of calling the pro-independentist movement in Catalonia.
Bardenas.Region in Spain that looks like a moon landscape
Terraplanistas. People that still believe that Earth is flat.
ANC. Organisation promoting separatism.
Tardà. Catalonian deputy at the spanish governenment from ERC pro-independentist Catalonian party
Elsa Artadi. Member of Junts per Catalunya political party that promotes separstism
El Impostor. Novel.
Wilfredo el Velloso. It was the last count for the county of Barcelona designated by the French monarchy.