By Pau Guix.
To talk about Catalonia today is, unfortunately, to talk about nationalism. And to talk about Catalan nationalism is to talk about manipulation, indoctrination and propaganda. Talking of nationalism is talking of feelings not reason, because there are no objective historical, economic or social arguments that could underpin this ideology. Talking of nationalism is talking about those who have taken their authority as truth, rather than truth as their authority. Talking of nationalism is talking about those who want to impose the reason of force rather than the force of reason. In short, to talk of nationalism in Catalonia is to talk of serious deficiencies in the quality of democracy.
But what does nationalism in the Europe of today mean? It means an unsupportive ideology which makes one particular nation the only example of identity within a political community, and which states that the nation is the only legitimate basis for the State, positing that each nation must form its own state, and that the borders of the State must match those of the nation. The social and political actions of nationalism strive to create or sustain an idea of nation based on a concept, often illusory, of identity ‘experienced’ collectively by members of a society or a particular territory, in order to achieve these territorial and national claims they seek with such effort: a process that is clearly perceived in modern Catalonia.
In Catalonia, nationalism is sold as participatory, democratic, peaceful, pluralistic, and non-partisan … it appears as the expression of a colonised and oppressed people seeking its beloved national freedom. But all this is nothing but deception which we should expose and denounce vociferously because this biased Catalan nationalism is strongly identity-bound, reductionist, manipulative, patronage-based, racist, supremacist and exclusionary; and moreover shows the crudest face of dangerously totalitarian regimes which brought so many horrors to the Europe of our grandparents. Even Felipe Gonzalez, in his recent “Letter to the Catalans”, on the Catalan secessionist process, stated that “this is as the closest thing to the German or Italian exploit of the nineteen thirties”. It is of little use that prominent international leaders like Obama and Cameron should claim that Catalonia is best off staying in Spain, and therefore in Europe, or that several European commissioners have publicly affirmed that an independent Catalonia would be left outside the European Union and the euro; or that we are warned of a bank freeze. Separatism does not care. They deny the evidence because all they want is independence, even if it means international ostracism, economic collapse and with it, the effective disappearance of the rights with which our current socially-based State protects its citizens.
In Catalonia, nationalism has ensured that civil society has been replaced by a rough Pancracy – a concept coined by the poet Jesús Lizano – made up by the secessionist political power and its funded assemblies and associative extensions which have appeared to exercise de facto rule on behalf of Artur Mas over the past two years – that rebellious (Catalan) president who has believed himself to be legitimised by “the will of the people” . This is the great separatist deception: making the world believe that all Catalonians as a people are nationalist – ignoring the law and hacking away at the exemplary coexistence of Catalans with each other and the rest of the Spanish population. In the centre of nationalist thought there must always be an external enemy which can be blamed for their shortcomings and mistakes, and towards which they can direct their hatred, while camouflaging with this their own meanness.
Charles De Gaulle, one of the key politicians in the construction of the European Union, quite rightly said that “Patriotism is when love of your own people comes first; nationalism is when hate of others comes first.” Therefore, one of the most shameful lies of the nationalists is to try to make us believe that we Catalans are hated by the Spaniards, that “invading and colonising race”, while the machinery of the secessionist regime endeavours to brand them, without regard for the fact that we, in Catalonia, are part of Spain and that there are many emotional and economic ties that unite us with the rest of Spain. Proof of this is the large number of Spaniards from the rest of Spain – Murcia, Extremadura, Andalusia, Galicia, Aragon, etc. – who came to our region to work and decided to put down roots here, have their children here and become part of an exemplary, well-educated, advanced, respectful society with its feet on the ground; a society which is now reeling from the separatists’ pace.
The Catalonian autonomous community cannot decide unilaterally to secede from Spain, basically for two reasons: a) legally because the Catalonian regional government and the Parliament of Catalonia do not have powers to decide on the breakdown of the integrity of the national territory; b) ethically, due to the fact that this indoctrination has gone on in schools for over three decades now, coupled with ongoing media-based manipulation, artificially leading some citizens of Catalonia to opt for a particular choice: the secessionist one. In short, this is because there is no pluralism in the Catalan public media, in whose style book the word ‘plurality’ has been replaced by the oxymoron ‘single thought’- nor in subsidised private media which has become the spokesman of the separatist government of President Mas. All this is no accident. This had already been meticulously mapped out in the nationalisation plan of Catalonia’s former President, Jordi Pujol. It appeared in 1990 in the most widely read Catalan newspapers; a plan which has been executed to perfection and which, as intended, has vaccinated the separatist virus into all levels of society from education, communication and culture to business, associations and professional bodies.
In 1989 Francis Fukuyama, pondering over the end of History, on the subject of nationalism pointed out that most global movements have no other political objective than that of the negative desire of independence from other groups of people and that they lack a comprehensive programme of socioeconomic organisation, and that unfortunately a high and increasing degree of ethnic and nationalist violence will continue to exist in the post-historical world. What great vision Fukuyama had. In Catalonia his vision remains fully in force. The Catalan nationalist regime, entrenched in that hatred, encouraged and subsidised thanks to the partisan use of public money, is unable to propose any viable socio-economic project. None of their political or assembly leaders have conveyed to us, as citizens, any single serious study on the economic, political and social costs of a hypothetical sovereignty, only emotional, exultant slogans of the most vulgar type – as reflected in the campaign slogan of their candidate list: “the vote of your life” a motto which, by simply changing the noun, would serve equally well to sell handbags, glasses or shoes.
The Catalan Civic Society, awarded the EU’s 2014 European Citizen Award, in a clear and precise financial report drafted in late 2014, has presented us with a rough but realistic scenario of what would independent Catalonia would be like: it is terrifying to read everything that we would lose with secession, because we would not actually gain anything. Josep Borrell, former president of the European Parliament, has also spoken out in his recent book, pulling apart ‘the financial accounts and fables of independence’; the victimization and unsupportive false propaganda about the false plundering of Spanish state taxation which the Catalan nationalist government bombards us with again and again.
In actual fact, the current critical economic situation of the Catalan government is the result of bad governance. We should remember that when President Mas came to power in December 2010, Catalan public debt was EUR 35.616 million; in the five years of his misrule this has now reached 66.813 million today, an untenable situation for a region whose revenue budget for 2015 is 36,942.9 million. Identity-bound politics has overruled economic and social policies, relegating industry, labour, health and social services to second place for government action.
The most despicable thing of all, under the banner of independence – that starred flag whose creator signed as VICME (Viva la Independencia de Cataluña y Muera España: Long Live the Independence of Catalonia and may Spain Die) – Catalan President Mas has tried to hide the reality of his bad management in a headlong rush to stay in power and try to avoid responsibility for the plundering of our region and the corruption that is derived from this looting, and which is eating into the very heart of both his party and the extended family of former Catalan President Pujol, (whose almost entire family have been summoned to give evidence and are holders of countless large accounts and investments in tax havens) – quite the model of democratic exemplary behaviour in the exercise of public office).
The stark reality is that citizens living in Catalonia have gradually seen their relationships of friendship impaired in the family, between partners, and with workmates, because of this uncertain journey towards an impossible Arcadia which a few call “the Catalan nation”, a journey whose saddlebags contain no respect for the law and where the exemplary Spanish transition and consensus-based 1978 Constitution are continually attacked, while the situation of economic and social crisis deepens day after day in our region.
Cicero warned us that “the good citizen is one who cannot tolerate in his homeland a power which aims to make itself superior to the law“. And the Catalans, as we are diligent citizens, will not allow this to happen – the only possible way in democracy: by voting in the upcoming regional elections to end the tyranny of this irrational feeling that they wish to impose upon us from their separatist standpoint. This has been instilled into Catalan institutions of varying political colours for the last three decades and has now been unmasked and presented as a single list with a single goal: secession.
I am convinced that this great Punch and Judy show which secessionist nationalism has wanted to turn Catalonia into, now has its days numbered, despite the ongoing ranting from President Mas, to a choir of chanting from his minions and subsidised spokespersons, because, as La Bruyere wrote, “It is indeed a great misfortune to lack sufficient spirit to speak properly, but an even greater misfortune not to have sufficient good judgment to know when to be silent”
Pau Guix has a degree in art history from the Universidad de Barcelona. He is an author, producer and scene director specialising in the world of opera, theatre and audiovisual. Currently, he is the district advisor for Cuidadanos C’s at the city hall in Barcelona.
This is a translation of the original article in Spanish that can be found here.