Lluís Bassets, 22/11/2020
Torra, Puigdemont i Mas, the last three presidents. DAVID BORRAT EFE
The idea of independence has declined as a project and has become a mere political and electoral identity.
Independence is ceasing to be an idea or a political project and is on the way to becoming a symbol, a simple belief or a form of ideological identification. This impression is supported by the surveys, but also by the behavior of the pro-independence forces, both in their parliamentary activity and in their government responsibilities.
Polls already tell us that the idea has never reached a social majority in Catalonia. Now, in addition, it has returned to the levels of popularity it had at the beginning of the process, when pollsters began asking for independence systematically. And there are very few Catalans, less than 10% in a survey by the ICPS (Institute of Political and Social Sciences of the UAB), who still believe that it will end with the achievement of the proposed goal of independence.
This demographic data is important if we take into account that the credibility of a political option is essential for it to be the winner. On the other hand, 42% of those surveyed believe that it will end only with an improvement in self-government and 26% with the decline or abandonment of the claim. The detail of the survey reveals that the ‘believers’ are no longer the majority even among the pro-independence formations: only 26% of the voters of JxCat and 27% of the CUP still believe in the Three Wise Men of Independence, a figure that decreases to 13% of Left voters. The majority of voters in each of the options believe that it will end with a Catalonia-Spain agreement, with the aforementioned exception of Ciudadanos.
The prestige of an idea arises from the prestige of those who defend it and try to turn it into concrete policies when they govern. From this point of view, it must be said that the behavior of independentists has not exactly been an aid for independence. Not getting it when they committed themselves not only electorally but in a multiplicity of solemn declarations and even parliamentary resolutions. Nor have they kept the torch alive, through mechanisms such as the Council of the Republic and permanent consultation with the legitimate presidency of Carles Puigdemont. And they have not even achieved prestige in the meantime as rulers of the really existing self-government, rather the opposite.
The inability both to achieve independence and to decently manage day-to-day reality without fighting has been and remains proverbial. This strange cabinet without a president, inhabited by all electoral opportunism, dysfunction and envy, is managing to go beyond all known limits of ridicule. If the country did not go through such a tragic moment, for the victims of the pandemic, for the effects of the confinements and for the brutality of the approaching recession, it would be a golden opportunity for the entertainment industry, specialized in humor and caricature. But it is not a joke. For this independence misrule that will have to be suffered until February 14, an oxymoron of Josep Pla in the times of the Second Republic is perfectly valid: it is a ‘system of disorder’.
There is confusion in Barcelona and there is disorder in Waterloo. Puigdemont has managed to evade the infamous headline. But the camouflaged truth of his false presidency is that he has already thrown in the towel in resigning to head the JxCat electoral list and quietly bury the legitimist pretensions of the next elections. He prefers to keep the salary of MEP to play again, knowing that voters are already warned of the uselessness of their vote to enforce the non-existent mandate of October 1 and the false declaration of independence of October 27. The Republic is a scam and the House of the Republic as well.
Independence was an unviable idea and those who committed to obtaining and applying it have not known how to govern even a stage prior to independence. And yet this worn out and idealistic idea, without practical translation, will continue to gain traction among voters. It is only explained because these citizens will not vote for the application of a program that they know chimerical, but to affirm their ideological identity in the face of the undeniable failure that their adversaries constantly remind them of. They are right, they will not change. Faith cannot be changed, even the opposite happens: credo quia absurdum (‘I believe because it is absurd’).
Independence, in Marina Subirats’ brilliant formulation, was the available utopia. Faced with political paralysis, the maintenance of the status quo, ideological crises and social utopias and the absence of attractive alternatives, a utopia emerged as if by magic that was presented as a synthesis of all emancipations, around the magic word that summarized them. Now we already know that it was only the hare that made the Convergent and Left world run in dispute for nationalist hegemony. Whoever achieved the government and led the negotiation would be the one who would win the trophy, which was not independence. The independence utopia was a hoax. It was available for a time, but now, like all utopias, it is also indisposed.