14 MAR 2021 –
A van of the Barcelona City Guard. EMILIO MORENATTI
The pedagogy of violence
If the uneasiness of young people is to be appealed to, the cause of the riots must also be searched for in what their parents, TV3 and the ruling elites have been telling them
We should not be frightened by the supposedly intellectual constructions about the political utility of violence. We may be surprised, and perhaps also frightened, by the speed of transition of our former pacifists, from Gandhi and Mandela to Bakunin and Guevara. But we recognize that the use of violence as an instrument of political action has a very old charter of an intellectual nature, although those who later use it, often mere executors, do not stand out precisely for the lights of their intelligence.
The justification for any violence because of an even worse structural violence, so evoked these days, is frighteningly mental weakness. We all know, even those who invented it, that there will always be social and economic structures at hand that can be interpreted as the result of a violent imposition, from which the most awakened spirits deduce the need for counter-violence to destroy them. Everyone can find structural violence as an alibi for their misdeeds.
Violence, like war, is the continuation of politics by other means. Necessary for the painful parts of history according to the revolutionary classics, and a miserably proven lesson learned on the right and left, by both Bolsheviks and fascists, to the point of overcoming their instrumental character in both cases. Violence is the essence of Soviet power in Russia, as it is only a few years later of fascist power in Italy and National Socialist power in Germany.
That is not our case, obviously. The violence we have experienced in Catalonia in recent weeks is in its own seminal phase if we compare it with that experienced in Europe a hundred years ago. The climb we were able to experience still allows for a straightening. Despite the truculent fixation aired by some of the agitators and those who agitate them, fortunately the irreparable fact of the loss of human lives has not been reached. We have been very close on two occasions: in the assault on the Mossos de Vic police station on 17 February and in the attack on the Barcelona city guard van on 27 February. In both cases, the extreme aggression of the hooded seemed guided by the desire to seek uncontrolled reaction, very easy and logical on the other hand, by a cornered policeman.
This and no other is the issue. It is of the hypocritical genre to separate theoretically peaceful manifestations from violent actions that must be condemned. There are protesters who are peaceful and flee as soon as the riots begin, but demonstrations in support of a character like Hasel, -even the protesters recognize it-, have been organized with the aim of seeking confrontation with the police and cause as much damage as possible to public goods and private businesses downtown. The best testimony has been given to us by the media, especially those of the Generalitat, in which we have been able to hear all the most banal clichés, the dumbest apologies for the burned container and the comparative fallacies about the discomfort of young people, the futility of pacifism and even the justified reaction of rage at the deception of independence.
The cruel reality is that the political agenda is still in the hands of those who practice violence as a form of action and those who understand, justify or accompany them. Contrary to what sometimes comes out of social gatherings, this is not irrational violence. First of all, it is a well-calculated form of pressure in the negotiation of the new majority, first in the Parliament and later in the Government. Nothing else can explain the weakness of the condemnation and the dis-authorization of the action of the public force by self-conscious negotiators frightened by the demands of the ‘king makers’ of the CUP, to the point of losing the slightest sense of which means the responsibility to govern.
Violence does not exhaust its political significance in its instrumental use. It has another more strategic component, especially when it comes to seeking disproportionate reaction, which encompasses all those who want to discredit democracy. Certainly, Spain is not a failed democracy, it is not the country in the world with the most imprisoned artists, nor a corrupt regime where political freedoms are trampled, but what it is all about is precisely to try to build the discourse of the unbearable and virulent agony politics of an obsolete system, once the account of the sacred conception of the immaculate and independent nation has failed.
And this has been a task that cannot be decently attributed to anarchists imported from Italy or France. It is ours, our ruling classes, who have wanted it and organized it, although now they put their hands on their heads, horrified when they see the harvest of patrimonial losses that may affect them, or the indifference of Pere Aragonès towards the meaning of the Seat’s 70th anniversary celebration. First, because of the indulgence of how violent people have been treated in recent years, long before October 1st. Then, for the message in favor of the unilateral violation of the Constitution and the rule of law. Finally, for the instrumental use of a properly insurrectionary mobilization at the height of the procés.
This is the political pedagogy that has been developed for the last ten years. If the uneasiness of young people is to be appealed to, the cause of the riots must be found in those discourses told to them by their parents and TV3 at home, the leading pro-independence intellectuals and journalists, the spokespersons of institutions of self-government and at least half of the political class everywhere. Who said the pro-independence side was beginning a kind of self-criticism? Can violence be stopped if they govern with the pedagogues of violence? Are we on time, yet?