Interview with Miguel Candel by Luis Caldeiro
01/18/2020 18:05 – Image: Àngel Guerrero
Professor of History of Philosophy at the University of Barcelona (UB) and translator for international organizations such as the UN and the European Commission. Militant in the left, he has just been appointed head of the Barcelona Group of Catalan Civil Society (SCC).
Did you expect the reaction against the October 1 ruling?
Well, not in detail, but I supposed they would make a good scene, yes. The road cuts had already been done, it is a classic, and it was predictable. Now, frankly I did not expect the atrocities they did in Barcelona city, the level of aggressiveness and violence they reached. Nor did I expect that in the face of this, a sign of absolute rage unleashed (the occupation of the Airport, for example, is one of the most serious events that have happened so far), in the face of that, I repeat, I did not expect that there would be elections afterwards and the parties that openly justify these atrocities obtained the same percentage of vote as always.
I would even say that these parties have been reinforced: Junts per Catalunya has gone from having 7 seats in Congress to having 8.
One might think that people “of order” (in quotes), in favor of the proces but rightist, would be shocked at these facts. Because until now they had always taken us for a ride in that they were peaceful. And more or less they had remained in a certain order, in the sense of not incurring major violent actions. I speak of physical violence, because the psychic one they have practiced it systematically: psychological harassment against people who do not agree with their ideas has always been perpetrated. But of course, physical violence had not yet appeared openly. The fact that after this physical violence appears – the palpable proof that they are willing to do anything in order to achieve their goals – no one is shocked and continues to justify such violence – that is, accepting that their end justifies these means – well, I didn’t expect it. And it shows me that we are facing a more dangerous monster than one might think a while ago.
I just wanted to ask you that: how do you interpret that a considerable part of a well-off and consumerist society such as the Catalan – and not precisely its most precarious or vulnerable part – justifies this violence and electorally reinforces the parties that support it? Are we facing schizophrenia?
I think it is no longer a schizophrenia. Previously, we could think that there was schizophrenia, but not now. There are people who take it for granted – and I hope they are wrong – that they will be able to maintain their income levels and material well-being even if they choose this type of means. I also believe that they have the hope – which I hope is illusory – that with these tests of strength they will finally get some claudication from the governments of the State. And that, therefore, they will continue to maintain their current privileges – because the population of Catalonia in many respects is privileged with respect to other territories of Spain. And they will also win, as they say, the jackpot: they already got minor lottery prizes every year, and now they will get the jackpot. Therefore, they have demonstrated a moral category that does not at all match with the image they project of themselves and that they want to sell us. I mean, now they don’t pity me. I can’t be happy, of course, for those who lost their eyes during the riots last October; but I think that they have searched for it and that, therefore, I will not shed a tear from my eyes for the eyes they have lost. They have searched for it and really earned it! No commiseration, solidarity or understanding. For me, as they say vulgarly, up yours!
Many take the Procés as paid off, but … is it possible that, as a result of fatigue, of the eagerness to appease the situation and also, of course, of the need to reach a stable government, the Procés finally wins, having lost? That is, to get certain revenues that go beyond the Constitution?
It will depend on the extent to which the government on duty has guts (and sorry for the expression). Of course, if the government in office puts forward certain advantages that it considers to be of a higher rank – I do not say even for the interests of the party, but for the dominant group within the party; or for a somewhat irenic conception of what coexistence in a country like Spain is like-, if it puts this ahead, I repeat, of being politically honest and not accepting blackmail, then yes the Procés can end up getting certain prebends. But of course, this could generate a very serious situation of civil confrontation in the whole country. I hope they think about it before falling into this trap. Because it is evident that we, the people that have suffered, that are suffering the permanent blackmail of the independence sectors, are not going to stand still.
That is, if the government is not able to face this situation, there will be ordinary people who will face it. I guarantee that. Not because I have any capacity to influence this line; but because I am feeling, seeing every day that this mood disposition exists. If the government does not do its job, there will be people who will do it differently. In a bad way, of course, because it is the State who has the monopoly of force. And if this responsibility is assumed by other people, then they will do it in a way that will not be acceptable from an ethical and political point of view, but that will be a forced outlet to which many people will be faced. And this is, to a greater or lesser degree, a civil war. No war with weapons, for the moment … but come on, except heavy weapons, there may be everything. I’m so sorry, but I see it that way.
How do you see the future? Will the Procés last for years and years, reinventing itself as before?
The story will never end. A chapter will come after another, perhaps with a different story, but to end, this does not end. I am pessimistic. They are many people and have many resources of all kinds: human, creative … And it has to be recognized that they have a lot of imagination – sometimes they behave most ridiculously, but despite that, they have imagination – and therefore they may be reinventing themselves during years. And I think that will happen. Then, on the capacity, the skill, the prudence (not in the sense of “timidity”, but to apply the just and adequate means in each moment for the attainment of an end) of the central governments will depend that they can keep at bay the Procés. But I think this will last. And the only thing that can disabuse broad sectors that are currently in the procés (which will sooner or later occur, although we cannot foresee when) is the evidence of serious economic damage in the population, as a result of their actions. Only at the moment when this is seen with total clarity, and that a very large part of the impresarios (and not only purely institutional representatives of the employers’ associations) reacts actively to it, only then I suppose there will be people who will read the signs.
You are a lifelong leftist, and you have just been appointed head of the Barcelona Group of Catalan Civil Society (SCC). What would you say to the pro-independence sectors and a good part of the left, who identify this entity with the right, even with the extreme right?
That there is no worse deaf than he who does not want to hear. I know many people – even people who are not pro-independence – who maintain this cliché, because in its origins, in the founding core of SCC there was certainly a greater weight on the right than on the left, that is evident. At first there were people who moved in the sphere of the socialist party but more people who moved in the area of the PP and Citizens. Obviously, because the left has left principles on this issue. It is normal. Therefore, the left has really earned it, in an entity that is initially transversal (in the political sense, not in the social sense: this would mean interclass, and this is not the issue here). What is transversal? Well, in political positions, SCC’s battleground is trying to convince Catalan society that independence is nonsense and that this goal be abandoned. And it tries this through propaganda, cultural activity … This is perfectly acceptable from both the left and the right. But of course, as the left has decided that everything that annoys the “regime of 78” is good for the cause, then it has no choice, following this perverse logic, but to consider everything that opposes a condescending attitude towards the pro-independence movement as “rightist”. And they even go so far as to say that it is “fascist”. What happens is that the word “fascist” has been devalued so much, that it is as useful for a rip as it is for a patch. Here, everyone coughing to the right is already “fascist”. Well, there is nothing we can do about it!