by Manuel Lozano
28th January 2018
As is usual when factionalised elites clash, the struggle between Catalonia and Spain is distinguished by rampant corruption. Unusually, this time, the clash has become an institutional asset. In the midst of a constitutional failure both loyalist and separatist parties reap the rewards, even sharing the profits made as a result of the break-up of the Spanish social pact: they are friends or foes as opportunities dictate.
Only the rascals can see this because they stand behind the smokescreen. In the streets, a sea of flags decorates the façades. The city looks just like a WWII film.The global profiteers and those coming through the revolving doors stand in line awaiting the clash.
There is an idealism ready to kill the freedom of others
to find freedom for its own plan.
This paper should have been published under a pseudonym on the zillionth page of a fanzine. It would be useful in a few years to shout: ‘I told you so!’ Had I published my thoughts today in Catalonia or Spain, even in my own journal, I would have been discredited as an unbeliever; an apostate marooned on the bad side of local politics. Some national (so to say) unorthodox celebrities like Serrat or Évole have been criticised and too many reporters have been beaten during this crisis.2
I can neither be silent nor hang the decision-makers properly out to dry. In any case, this article has been written.
To bring this libertarian account alive, I have been in different, allegedly illegal, polling places. The queues were long and the Mossos d’Esquadra (the Catalan regional police) were applauded as they drove around the city where people had been waiting to vote from before 5 am. In just one police charge this same armed gang wounded about a hundred 15-M activists six years ago.3 I was there, then, too, six years ago, sick in the smokescreen of a tear gas grenade. Today things are different just because they are still the same.
The 15-M struggled for a direct democracy independent of any political caste. The chance of being detained for taking part in an anti-establishment demonstration in Barcelona or Madrid was about one thousand percent higher than it was during the Catalan referendum, where allegedly about one thousand were wounded.4
During the demonstration for political continuity on 8 October no one in Barcelona was wounded or detained, even though the crowds were massive (350 to 930 thousand people).5 Likewise, the demonstration that had been called to demand the release of two separatist figures, els Jordis, which involved about half a million people, took place peacefully.6
The Guardia Civil (a sort of Spanish highway police) also covered itself in glory at the loyalist demonstration that took place a week after the separatist referendum. In an incident buried by the courts, it had deployed riot gear against sub-Saharan people trying to reach the Tarajal shore, killing somewhere between 15 to 80 in 2014.7 The Policia Nacional (state cops) used similar violence during the financial crisis, dragging families out of their homes.8
Why is the police well-regarded now? The answer is not because the people have pardoned them for past misdemeanors or because they have forgotten. It is because people distrust their fellow beings. This is the gospel of the rulers for the rulers: if we refrain from violence, to be logical won’t be the same as being fair. The political caste wants us divided. It wants us to fly flags and to stop talking in the squares. The cloud that surrounds us today is not made by teargas but by public confusion.
Introducing the characters
I’ve chosen to take a satirical approach to this unfortunate cast of players since it is the only way to avoid a boring dissertation on the barrenness of Spanish politics. Here they are:
Spain: A sack-race team which has been formed and re-grouped at gunpoint for three centuries.
Catalonia: A nation that is getting bored of sack races.
Estado de las Autonomías (Autonomous regions state): An indecent cocktail that displays all the flaws of centralist and federalist states and none of their perks. If you search ‘Estado de las Autonomías’ in the Oxford on-line translator the result is ‘Carnival Queen’.
PPSOE: Spain is de facto ruled by the conservative PP and the crypto-conservative PSOE. These are the two spices we use to cook the ‘profit-over-people’ dish in the Spanish state.
Mariano Rajoy (aka @MR): Rajoy is the insecure puppet owned by Jose María Aznar (the Iberian George Bush). Once in a while, he gives his spiel through a big plasma screen. Rajoy is always thinking up new ways to avoid tackling things head on – putting a paper bag over his head, for example.
Carles Puigdemont: The anxious separatist leader. He is like an Alice in Wonderland rabbit who loves some acronyms and ignores others: the 9N for 9 November Referendum, the 1-O for 1 October Referendum are his favourites. He doesn’t talk about 15-M. It’s said that he loves tax havens also.
JxSi: A phalanx of nationalist Catalan parties seemingly immune to their corruption cases. It includes the conservative and crypto-conservative spices from the Catalan brand as well as the conditional support of a red hot chili minority party (CUP).
Ciudadanos: The ballots’ sheepdog. Its only mission is to ensure that the vote of people outraged by the PPSOE is not cast outside neoliberalism’s hole. Its leader is the Spanish dungeon keeper: Albert Rivera.
Podemos: Caviar revolutionaries, but far more democratic than the other parties and somewhat linked with the 15M.
NATO: The US and friends’ hunting club. NATO nags members to increase military expenditure just in case Stalin’s army comes back from the dead. They are unsuccessful ghostbusters and have only killed living people.
EU-ECB: The Fourth Reich.
If you are curious about the construction of the political zoo you are about to visit, then The Spanish Labyrinth, by Gerald Brennan, is a good starting point. But that’s enough about introductions for now, it’s time to hold your breath and dive into the mist!
This is a story of exceptionalism: of exceptional institutional animus. We’ll see how people from different cultures and communities coexisting in Spain have lost the welfare state and why Catalan secession is exactly what the financial elites need to keep bleeding us dry.
On Labour Day in 1976 the VP Manuel Fraga, a pot-bellied democrat who was a pot-bellied fascist the year before, blurted out: ‘the streets are mine’ and banned the celebrations.9 If you want to truly understand what hides behind the Spanish-Catalan smokescreen you need to know why Fraga said this. The streets were his because he was in charge, so he could do what he wanted. It’s as though the public bodies in Spain and Catalonia are some kind of medieval bequest (albeit one regulated by a constitutional mandate) that has one object: power. Political actors are free to do what they like, as long as this object is met. No amount of wrong-doing can damage the political caste. The former Spanish PM José Luís Rodríguez Zapatero concealed the real estate bubble until his re-election impoverished much of the population. In exchange for this, Spain gave him a six figure pension settlement and today Zapatero (and a couple of other former ministers) act as lobbyists lunching with the inhuman genocidal Obiang.10
Our postmodern democracy asks us to choose a dictator. The kratos is shared entirely by the ruling class and there is nothing for the demos. They have no effective control over the quality of their leaders.11 But politics in the Spanish state is not exceptional because of this. The exceptional quality comes from the vicious arrogance of the rulers and the obligatory test of their own authority through conflict and sustained attacks on the welfare state. Today, thanks to the run-in between Spanish and Catalan nationalists, the political caste’s wickedness is complete.
The greatest harm wrought by the separatist crisis is that it has deflected attention from the popular response to the 2008 financial crisis. In 1992, Spain was not an institutional pigsty, but a more developed country than Germany and Sweden.12 The PPSOE leaders, Felipe González and José María Aznar, who privatised the country and became senior executives and assessors in the companies that they favoured, orchestrated the Spanish fall.13 Something similar happened in 1836 and 1855-56, when Spain auctioned its commons to satisfy dogmatic liberals: it significantly increased agrarian productivity but the new rich became tyrants who created a system of hereditary poverty. The effects are still felt today. Spain exported its crops while the people starved to death.
The street is a place for meeting, for love and struggle, for news and building and work: it is a living place for feeling the intimacy of Otherness. Catalan secession has divided and erased any healthy mistrust (or at least skepticism) towards the rulers and redirected it against a different kind of others: those with different languages and cultural references. Batons, rubber bullets and teargas were used to quell the anti-establishment protests in 2011. Now, there is another weapon in the arsenal: the street itself. Because the street is theirs.
Catalonia is and is not Spain
For the people of the shantytown and the shrinking middle-class there is no smokescreen but a national identity conflict. One side says that since Catalonia is not Spain, then the Catalan people don’t need the Spanish Courts to permit them to declare their independence. The other side says that a unilateral declaration is illegal. In addition there is a silent majority of people in Catalonia who are scared of separatists.
The dilemma, set out in this way, has no solution. It is an antinomy about sets, similar to Eubulides’ paradoxes. Why shouldn’t all countries vote if they want a new partner? Why can’t a neighbourhood or an individual become equally independent? The political premises lead us to a long conflict which will only be resolved after a greater and greater institutional crisis. The kind of legitimacy and legality both Spanish and Catalans are talking about comes from mere domination. Apparently, it can’t be done differently. At the end of this section I will explain how to cut the Gordian knot (and you will know then why my solution has not been considered).
Unlike the post-war Nazis’ children, our parents and grandparents weren’t protected by Marshall’s umbrella and they didn’t get the pedagogical help they needed to overcome their fascist childhoods. To the contrary, not even my generation has escaped the obnoxious far right media. For the most people, doing anything beyond staging a sporadic strike or voting seems simply too extreme. The political caste relies on the common guy who sits in a bar or logs-in to Twitter and moans that the community or party leaders he hates are a bunch of bastards. He uploads a meme and claims that it is activism. Hitler would award this an A+1.
We will delve into this topic later, but for now it is enough to know that independence is not separatism. Independence is grounded in cultural differences and institutional reality. Separatism is a mere product of professional politicians. Independence is a narrative strength and a semiotic, rather than a political campaign. Catalan cultural values, not to mention the language, are quite different from those in the rest of Spain. The present, not just the history, is different. Catalonia is not Spain.
On the other hand, if you saw-off a boat when you are in the sea you won’t get two little boats: you will drown. As long as people within the Spanish borders face the same main problem, the rogue Kingdom of Spain, we are all part of the same crew. It’s worth remembering, too, that there are only two ways to split a country: by war or treaty. Neither has yet happened and neither is going to happen soon, since Catalonia (luckily) has no army and Spain can’t afford the political and institutional price of a velvet divorce. Catalonia is Spain.
To cap it all the autonomous region of Catalonia is a faithful reflection of Spain when it comes to politics: bad governance and misinformation.14 The Spanish ruling caste takes credit for the current democracy, even though it took a holiday for 36 years of fascistic rule.25 In the same way, the separatists’ mainstream parties are far from enthusiastic supporters of direct democracy and horizontal organisation. They are keener on religious obscurantism and cronyism.15
A collective doesn’t behave like the individuals that comprise it. The gestalt principle explains why every nation behaves like an ambitious politician who goes all out during an election, ready to change her winner-takes-all philosophy in order to become a selfless avatar of the common interest. In this Game of Ballots, nationalism is the trump card. But add waves of police aggression, evictions and abysmal TV, as in the Catalan secession crisis, then the result is disaster.
There is a subtle way to deal with this mess and to cut the Gordian knot: replace toxic government with more direct democracy. That would let us change every town without changing the country. The weakness of this proposal is that it relies on overcoming the justified fear that comes with questioning the establishment.
Sun Tzu’s Art of War teaches that all warfare is based on deception. Victory and defeat lie within the fog of war. What about Spain and Catalonia, what about transcendental deception? Should we talk of something thicker than fog hiding vicious individualism?
SOP: Smog of Profiteering
The institutional and personal disloyalty I’ll highlight in this article is not old news about the political caste and the print media.16 The familiar short-sighted opportunists now try to hide an institutional failure behind a political crisis: Catalan separatism, not independence, is a smokescreen designed to conceal the complete failure of the Spanish state. As I said, both national media, Catalan and Spanish, are troubled by independence; they continually turn secession over in their heads. What news does the political caste seek to hide behind this conflict? Obviously, there are a lot of things to conceal behind the smokescreen. Among the mishmash three are particularly damaging issues: corporate robbery, institutional treason and the dishonour of utter political failure.
The Spanish banks will never return the €60 billion bail-out guaranteed by the Spanish state to the European Central Bank. That’s not breaking news, it has been vox populi since the agreement: the financial elite that has evicted more than one hundred thousand families is now unable to pay its own debts while the rest of us face the consequences.17 The difference now is that the Bank of Spain has recognised the fact. It’s official: Spain robs the poor to overfeed the rich. The biggest newspapers have minimised this issue over the last months but burying the news would have been impossible without the Catalan referendum.
Considering that Spain under-invests in social expenditure to the tune of €66 billion (according to its income), it is easy to conclude that the banks’ bailout is being (or has been) met at the expense of low income families with children and those at risk of social exclusion.18 Austerity and servile government is responsible for a surreptitious crime against humanity.19
The establishment is proud to see the numbers of Spanish citizens making it to the Forbes list increase (from 15 in 2008 to 25 in 2017) and the cave-dwelling mass media forever compare our economy with the Venezuelans’.20 Still, these measures of prosperity were only suitable for the most uninformed people and their effectiveness was wearing thin. Spanish citizens needed a thicker smokescreen. Something like Catalan secession would do the trick.
The welfare state traitors
Compare the 2008 and 2016 World Happiness Report data you’ll find that Spain is one of the countries where felicity has been shattered. My view is that this is because of the welfare state traitors.21 The falls in the weighted Social Justice Index and poverty prevention scores between 2008 and 2015 are more marked in Spain than anywhere else, with the exception of Greece.22 The proportion of children living below the poverty line increased by nine points between 2008 and 2014, to reach almost 40%; the long-term unemployment rate doubled between 2008 to 2016; now almost the half of the Spanish unemployed live in poverty.23 The saddest thing about these statistics is that they result from the whim of politicians. There are no underlying economic weaknesses.24 To cap it all, during the 2008 financial crisis, social spending on those in the top fifth of the income brackets was higher than the aid directed to the poor.25
As we would have expected, the politicians painted a very murky picture of the situation: between 2012 and 2016, Spain dropped 11 positions in Transparency International’s ranking.26 It was only because of the corruption linked with well-known members of the political caste (including the Royals) that Spain squandered about €8 billion in 2016 by breaching Brussels’ fiscal rules. 27
In the Spanish state even the local political groups enjoy a total lack of transparency. They are the legislators and the legislated. The Court of Audits cannot audit a political party.
Catalan politics are even more corrupt than elsewhere in Spain.28 The former regional president, Jordi Pujol, laundered money in Andorra, a tax haven.29 He and his party have allegedly, received a mordida of 3-4% from every public infrastructure project undertaken by the regional government for more than a decade. This resulted in a series of trials, so the exact amount of money has not yet been determined.30 It’s likely to be around €1 billion. The irate, revered leader of the now separatist CiU, suggested that the corruption is widespread and institutional.31 He sure is …
The Spanish judiciary and government keep the names of individuals who received an anti-constitutional fiscal amnesty in 2012 secret. More than thirty thousand financial parasites guilty of stealing public money remain unaccountable.32
The wheels of corruption are oiled by well-positioned, highly immoral people like Rodrigo Rato, a former International Monetary Fund president. He’s the man behind the amnesty and who likes to get drunk in Montoro’s open tax bar.33 Since July 2017 Cristobal Montoro, the Minister of the Treasury and Public Administration, has been playing around with the disclosure of a well-known fact: the Spanish and Catalan elite is an army of swindlers. Montoro’s fool’s game wouldn’t have lasted so long without a big-time well-planned crisis.
Last but not least: the Spanish constitution has been desecrated by the political caste.
In 2011, the Spanish constitution underwent drastic reform. Now, before a cent is put into education or public healthcare, Spain is obliged to pay its public debt to the banksters.34 This political high treason was accomplished by the permanent ruling bi-party (the PPSOE). Surprisingly, the minority opposition (e.g. Podemos) has thrown this dirty reform in the PPSOE’s face time after time, so the constitutional adultery has not been properly buried.
In the last decade, the King’s dirty linen has also been washed in public; his smelliest underwear includes: killing elephants for fun, adultery and sexual predatory practices and financial corruption.35 The former King Juan Carlos I, after being praised and flattered for decades, was no longer able to save his reputation. His libertinage is a worthy case of study because, outside North Korea and Renaissance Papal history, it is difficult to find a similar gap between public image and private reality. There’s a degree of blind faith in leaders in Spain.
My generation was intoxicated with loyalist propaganda from childhood. The current one is being similarly disoriented by separatist campaigns.36 In school we were brought up to believe that the constitution was almost a sacred book and that the King was a national hero who bravely fought against a new dictatorship during the 23-F military uprising. Thirty years after this horrible day, we know that the failed coup d’état was performed by people close to the monarch with whom he sympathised and who he later pardoned; Juan Carlos I hardly had dictatorial intentions, but as Jordi Évole’s mockumentary showed, the emeritus King is widely thought to be the agent behind the codename ‘White Elephant’, the only conspirator who was not found.38 Elephant … what an irony? Perhaps we’ll never know the degree of his involvement in the coup. But we do know that he greatly benefited from it.37
The constitutional sickness is magnified now but has been incubating since the constitution’s birth. Unlike Nazi Germany’s heirs, the fathers of the Spanish constitution left their civilian war victims buried in the roadsides; indeed, Spain has one of the highest numbers of missing persons anywhere in the world.39 Some of those guilty of war crimes are still celebrated in public places.40 Can you imagine a Hitlerstrasse in Germany today? In Spain there is a basilica housing Franco’s tomb: el Valle de los Caídos, surrounded by the bodies of the prisoners of war who built it.41 Not even Mao went so far.
The main characters in our political play seem to have fallen prey to some kind of ‘hereditary evil’. This shapes society in an almost metaphysical sense and also, therefore, the Catalan conflict.
The more mundane crimes of Franco’s brother, Nicolás, were buried thanks to Rajoy’s father’s slips.42 Heinous Catalan slave traders are celebrated in public monuments and their names are etched in politics like the former regional president Artur Mas.43 Of course, Catalan collaborators with Franco’s authoritarian regime are still influential and well-regarded. They kept their old privileges. The ruling class’s gift to control its own presence is a constant reminder that the ruled have their place. The skeptical anarchism that Noam Chomsky teaches offers a route out of this institutional phantasmagoria.
Is easy to see that the Spanish transition required everyone to act the fool and forget that the seven who wrote the constitution were chosen by a dictatorial regime. They weren’t necessarily evil or cowardly. The same applies when it comes to Catalonia and Euskadi: the articles about the historical nations were written under the shadow of the high command, even while Catalonia itself was over-represented in the constitutional debates.44
During the transition, far-right groups of extremists with names like Guerrilleros de Cristo Rey (King Christ’s Guerrilla) were sponsored by the highest echelons and even joined the police. As a result, from 1975 to 1983, there were 188 confirmed killings.45 In Barcelona, the city where I was born, the transition began with a siege during which police dragged even women and children out of their cars to beat them on the ground with their rifle butts.
The Spanish transition to democracy has been a big lie: the genocidal General Franco directed the end of his own regime when he was an old billionaire and we have never stopped bearing his burden or giving privileges to his corpse!46 The transition was more successful than today’s politicians are now. These Ayatollahs, together with the constitution’s contrived rigidity, have turned Catalan dissent in an irresolvable conflict.
The rifts between Spain and Catalonia didn’t start with the monster Francisco Franco. It started three centuries ago. The most significant events happened mostly in the 20th century, but I will elaborate further to introduce a curious word: botifler. This pejorative tag was originally used to refer to any Catalan who supported the Bourbons during the Spanish War of Succession more than three centuries ago. Although the term botifler never fell into disuse, nowadays it is mostly reserved for the silent or hypocritical supporters of Spain rather than for any open and convinced loyalist born in Catalonia. The success of crypto-Spanish lineages and the botifler’s etymology tells us a lot about the separatist conflict and its misleading nature. It also alerts us to the snobbish character of Catalan and Spanish politics.
The separatist programme is mostly a leap in the dark, just like Rajoy’s views of the Spanish Constitution.47 Luckily for the separatist politicians, the PPSOE together with its kindred spirit media, has made everything easier.48 The greatest engine for separatism has been the PP leader and prime minister Mariano Rajoy. He started the secession crisis by denouncing the Catalan statute to the politicised Institutional Court instead of respecting the political frame. He has tried his best to intensify this conflict: to use article 155 of the Spanish constitution as a war cry, to snub the courts and to babble nonsense.49 A little bit of everything except serious politics.
Article 155 does not turn the president into a regional puppeteer. Nor does it allow her to kick out any unruly rival / to behave like King John without a Magna Carta. It is a shame that such a proficient jurist as Mariano Rajoy (the youngest registrar in Spain) hasn’t understood this. Article 155 forces Puigdemont to comply with measures determined by the Government and previously approved by an absolute majority in the Senate in order to protect the general interest. Self-imposed destitution is not one of the competencies of any regional leader in Spain. Article 155 makes binding the instructions of the central government on the regional one. Nothing else is positively developed.50 To cap it all, article 155 is a copy-pasted translation of an article written into the 1947 Bonn Constitution. That has never been applied either.51 Not since WWII, I mean: an almost identical article, no. 48 in the Constitution of the Weimar Republic, was used to ban Prussian separatism; this sounded the death-knell for democracy when Nazism rose to power. Hitler would have shared a ‘like’ to article 155.
Every time Mariano Rajoy opens his mouth, separatism looks more legitimate. The Spanish PM has been willingly acting as an ally of his rival, Carles Puigdemont, but the most interesting twist is that the Catalan leader probably is also returning the favour. The mainstream separatist parties’ rush for independence is a strategy with a clear consequence: it has stopped the collapse of the bi-party arrangement in Spain that seemed to be in terminal decline in 2015.52 Moreover, the left-wing and non-nationalist party Podemos, the largest movement to advance an anti-establishment agenda is the great political loser of the separatist crisis. Podemos has become a common enemy for nationalist parties.53 At the same time, while the popularity of Ciudadanos, the most passionate lover of business interests, is skyrocketing in and outside Catalonia, inside the autonomous region the crypto-conservative ERC is gaining ground with the Puigdemonties.54 Thus, the Spanish vote is now more aligned to the right-wing establishment than it was in 2015.
If we assume that the separatist leaders have no ideology and are only following their elitist interests, then the timeline of the Catalan crisis becomes clearer. Catalan corruption figures shot up between mid-2015 and mid-2017 in comparison to other regions. In 2018 the regularisation process that started in 2016 to end financial secrecy in Andorra’s tax haven will finish.55 During this period, Puigdemont has become the Catalan leader, has built a stable coalition of separatist parliamentary parties and is now in a position to lead the Catalan people into a hurried separation.
The previous referendum, the 9N, was announced on 19 September 2014, three months after the abdication of Juan Carlos I (19th June) and two months after the former regional president Jordi Pujol confessed to being a tax evader (25th July).
Do you get a sense of dejà-vú? In 2014 the citizens within the plurinational Spanish borders should have been fighting for transparency and empowerment but we were locked inside the separatist smokescreen. You reap what you sow and we ‘sowed’ smoke.
A Spanish-Catalan velvet divorce might be the best option in the long-run but, even if was a political giveaway (and we have seen that the independence is by no means a bargain; quite the opposite), it wouldn’t be done for two main reasons:
- this kind of fracture will not allow profiteering nor as much monetising of the human species as economic war. For this reason, it won’t get the politicians’ support
- Spanish and Catalan politics abhors velvet. In Spain everything must to be signed with a command. Political deals are done ‘because I bloody well say so!’
The velvet divorce is modelled on the division of the former Czechoslovakia in 1991, after the fall of communism. Just after their split, in 1992, the human development index in the Czech Republic and Slovakia, was similar to the Spanish one in 2016. In 1996, Czech corruption as well as its governance profile, was almost the same as it is in Spain today. The difference is that there was greater political stability in the Czech Republic and less violence.56 What does this tell us? I want to suggest that the real obstacle to independence is the culture of violence and childish behaviour of the ruling classes: their brains are parked somewhere in the Dark Ages. Splitting a state is not the way to deal with this. The answer lies in education in critical thinking. However unfeasible an amicable separation is, and considering it only the best result possible in the abstract (ignoring the obvious historical and cultural differences between Spain and the Central Europe countries), it is unclear how independence will help deal with Catalonia’s institutional decadence. For we are not talking about a participatory democratic Catalonia breaking with a fascistic Castilian Spain. We are talking about factionalised elites.
Neither the Czech Republic nor Slovakia has reaped significant advantages from their split. After a difficult start, they have kept on going. Given that both Spain and Catalonia are suffering from an increasing and more insidious type of feudalism, the secession could lead both into the depths poverty and economic ruin.57
The Catalan separatist leaders promise that Catalonia will be like Denmark: Catalonia was like a Nordic country and the connivance of the political caste with corporate robbery spoiled it all. No 18th century botifler managed to inflict so much harm.
Since Catalan folk living in the residential neighbourhoods have borne, are bearing, and will bear the brunt of this crisis more than any other in Spain, and far more than the political caste, the separatist leaders and their circle might be the greatest botiflers ever. They are not selfless. They are not that different from the most politicians around the world. Above all, Puigdemont is not Mandela.
The win-win game
Bear in mind that I’m not talking about conspiracy but collaboration. Since the political caste, regardless of its colours and animus, shares the same oligarchic values and collaborates when the chance arises, the corrupt together rob the public and gladly pardon their political rivals for doing the same since they are all involved in the same game.58 Spain must be classified as a failed state. Rajoy and Puigdemont are certainly at liberty to use the crisis to suit their political clients’ and benefit themselves. It’s a cakewalk for them. As we’ll see below, lurking behind the separatist crisis is a win-win game for the elites.
The Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy is a burnt-out and amortised political character. The golden revolving door awaits him. The only thing he must to do is avoid committing political suicide or embarrassing other European countries by putting tanks on the street or snipers in the squares. Rajoy need only keep on doing what he’s been doing for years: nothing at all. Spain’s disintegration is not actually an issue, as we will see.
The Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont has a future as a political martyr in the Catalan pantheon. He will be the Moses who freed his people. The pain of his martyrdom will be drastically reduced by the reluctance of the politicised Spanish justice system to mistreat its partner behind the smokescreen (witness the fact that the 14 senior officials arrested for collaboration in the 1st October separatist referendum were freed 9 days later). They were lucky considering that being allegedly and remotely seditious can cause you serious problems – and we are talking about a bureaucracy that does not despise evil: Patricia Heras and three other young people were arrested and charged of causing severe and irreversible injuries to a policeman and condemned without evidence because they looked like squatters. They were so bullied and abused by the police, judges and penitentiary institutions that Patricia committed suicide in 2011.59 That’s the kind of cruelty reserved for the Guildford Fours that we find in every country in the world and which the law-abiding crooks in suits will never suffer.
Lawful or not, independence implies killing the goose that laid the golden eggs: every time a Catalan political party doesn’t fulfil its promises it says something like ‘Spain steals from us’. The effect is to quell the unrest.60 There is no better alternative for the Catalan parties in the long run, but this crisis is profitable now and promises future gains.
Rajoy and Puigdemont are actually in no hurry to resolve the crisis, to agree terms. The struggle between Spain and Catalonia is proving to be very profitable. Amidst the chaos, the mainstream Spanish and Catalonian parties – Ciudadanos, ERC and the PPSOE – recharge their batteries, fitting themselves to resume their rulership. Game over.
Big fish and big issues
The secession crisis cannot rumble on forever because the chances of an uncontrolled social uprising increase on a daily basis. In my opinion, the Spanish elections will be called early in 2018 and we will then see the introduction of new rules. Given that our current zeitgeist is defined by the inability to defer gratifications, I think that the most likely outcome is that the populists will sell their political wares short to the big fish. Let’s see the list of clients.
The EU (I mean the Brussels mob) has been sounded out. It is quite improbable that the ECB’s philo-Germanic cleptocrats will help the Spanish government in its repressive campaign. They don’t seem to sympathise with the separatist agenda, either. Choosing sides would be either foolishness or prodigality: a too generous concession for any separatist movement in Europe would be an insult to partners like Italy or Belgium and sharing the infamy of beating-up civilians is obviously far removed from the principles the EU professes.
Washing their hands of the Catalan crisis might be the worst decision the EU ever takes but Juncker is not a sharp pin.61 The prospect of Catalonia’s exit from the European Union, considering this is more likely than Spain’s collapse, has not been weighed up sufficiently by the European banksters. It is less well planned than the tailored austerity plans and other predatory practices. Europe is not a suitable market to hire a rough house.
What about the usual corporative usurers? They have good reasons to be more receptive. Being out of the EU is not the end of the world and it doesn’t mean that Catalonia will be denied permission to use the Euro as many Spanish nationalists says, even if it coins its own currency; although unusual, there are countries that run two currencies at the same time (e.g. Cyprus, Bhutan or Panama).
Getting out from the Eurozone, relaunching the national market and coming back to the Euro with an acquitted economy is a more sensible plan than remaining a PIGS until hell freezes over. But there is a risk: having the Cash-tap within reach of the usual Mister Might and Mighty (now unchained from the ECB control) may burden the next generation with an enormous budget deficit.
In addition, the new weak currency will leave the numerous mortgaged citizens at the mercy of the former Catalan banks as well as powerful global gourgers. In this case, the wealthy sponsors of both separatist and anti-separatist mainstream political parties will profit from the disintegration of the Spanish state.
To cap it all, an independent Catalonian Mediterranean sea-power is appealing to NATO.62 This is not the first time that this anachronistic industrial and military gang profits from national disintegration. Another recent example is the former Yugoslavia.
Needless to say, these overpowering warmongers will be prove to be tougher for the Catalonians than the dimwitted prime minister. Catalonia risks enormous indebtedness if it is forced to purchase a fleet that it doesn’t need. On the other hand, the Spanish government would actively deny that the country had lost its economic powerhouse and would keep wasting money on the army as usual to maintain face. In the long run, is impossible to know how high this increasing military expenditure would raise the political temperature in Europe.
Kill the King
Innocent people have been imprisoned recently for writing under this kind of byline. So I should say in advance that this section won’t encourage you to become an assassin.63 I’ve chosen it because the original Catalan anthem ends with a war cry against King Felipe IV and the Count-Duke of Olivares, who bullied Catalonia to get forced levies and raise easy money during the Thirty Years’ War. The policy provoked an uprising mainly driven by the petit-bourgeoisie. Just like Rajoy, Olivares also promoted their own gag rule.
The relationship between past and present is crystal clear: inept central government, despised rulers, Spain seen as a parasite, cockiness, rebellious middle-class, social unrest, etc. Nevertheless, today things have changed in three important respects.
In first place, with the exception the most rancid of the nostalgic Francoist cliques and the most radical separatist lone wolves, everybody in Spain and Catalonia believes that armed conflict is unthinkable. Global attention on the Spanish secession makes the use of violence too expensive politically. It’s not like committing genocide against the Rohingya or Yemenites (sic).
In second place, most Catalan people come from long-established families mixed with southern Spanish migrants, so the Spanish people are not demonised like the Huns. Hatred is mostly reserved for Spanish institutions not people. Catalan reality is used to seeing Spain as a public administration first and a country second. Just look how both the Spanish and Catalan ruling castes relate in the news: they only talk about deficits, competences, austerity, corruption, corruption trials, polemical laws and tax (evasion). Plans for the welfare state, cultural enrichment, networking, etc. are absent nowadays.
In third place, 21st century Catalonia has no army, so a conventional war is impossible. It means that violent repression will probably be countered with terrorism as far as the Catalan victims are ignored by the international media. Killing is always a bad thing, even killing a king.
Nationalism promised solidarity but cheated everybody. Yes, the Catalan people united against those who mistreated their culture and language (mostly centralist leaders) for centuries. But when the wealthier Catalans had the chance, they used their own repressive armed force, the somatents, against their own folk.64 I have no doubt that after the secession the leading separatists will use their modern-day somatents, the Mossos d’Esquadra, to close down any dissidence.
Spanish and Catalan leadership styles are different but both are grounded in a well-crafted image of patriotism and the homeland, on the model of the medieval kings. An icy storm froze secession talks and both sides avoided reaching an agreement since the dialogue was discrediting: it was a secular heresy. Even in nuclear families this happens.
Spain is a 195,360 sq. mi zombie sitting behind a huge smokescreen called the Catalan secession crisis. It is a failed state moved by economic voodoo. Weariness with its obsolete Jacobinism has provoked public reaction from its greatest economic regional powerhouse. Thus, the only possible scenario I can foresee is an increasingly bitter economic war between a Catalonia that falls deeper and deeper into debt and a vanquished Spain struck by a spreading leprosy.
This situation offers rich pickings for instigative politicians, banks and profiteers on both sides and none, deceitful agents who don’t give a damn for the Catalan people’s rights of self-determination. Of course, the warmongering big cheese is also ready to make hay: as if there weren’t enough armies in the world. Scrapping the Spanish state is also an opportunity for NATO to get two collaborative members for the price of one chronic defaulter.
The worst side of the secession crisis is neither repression nor mistrust: it is the excess of self-worshiping individuals yearning to make clear who rules. The political caste won’t stop objectifying people while the current politics rewards those who are linked to a violent past.
The only solution I can find for the clash of national identities comes from the refusal to be engulfed by ideology and the commitment to do the opposite: become your moral compass’ best friend. This might it be utopian, but the current political options are nothing but a more rooted dystopia, grounded in a gregarious routine not in a close relationship to reality.
A little bit of food for thought before ending: picture today’s Spain in a few years, when the current political leaders on both sides have walked through the golden revolving doors. Do you think that they will again refuse to converse when the profit of private corporations is at stake? What is a partisan politician but an Aeolus behind the precariousness fog?
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