In English Sin categoría Voices From Spain

Reality Bites

Published originally in Spanish. Manuel Arias Maldonado. El Mundo

No plan resists contact with the enemy; the sentence from the innovative Prussian marshal, Helmuth Von Moltke, fits like a glove to the change of direction that Catalan question is taking in these last few days. Without prejudice that, at the time of publication of this note, things have not changed again —the anguish of every columnist. But it does not seem likely. Everything suggests that pro-independence movement has began to lose the symbolic battle it has been waging against constitutional order. The reason is that enemy has finally shown up. It took its time, as could not be otherwise: no counter-narrative could possible compete with a fantasy whose materialization was over and over again projected into the future. That enemy, of course, is no other than reality.

Like it or not, the King’s speech was crucial. Because it came to fill the symbolic vacuum created by the Spanish government’s silence. Was it a deliberated silence aimed also to re-legitimize the monarchy in a moment of populist discrediting of the institution? Maybe. In any case, its solid support to constitutional order narrowed the space for those that had been supporting the dialogue in equal status with the Catalan government. But, above all, it made clear that no citizen will see his/her rights violated at the hands of a minority that tries to take Catalan historic institutions. From then on, they started to change the intangible elements of political life so hard to measure by social sciences: collective atmosphere, symbolic powers, predominant frames.

Narrative and reality: everything that could never happen, according to nationalism, is already happening. Namely: major Catalan businesses are moving their head offices out of the region; European Union is speaking clearer; social majority opposing independence is taking to the streets. Perhaps nothing competes in importance with the corporate exodus: La Caixa or Freixenet are not simply productive units that sustain the economy and the public services along with it, but also collective icons endowed with affective force. Oriol Junqueras has reacted saying that these companies are moving to the Catalan Countries and not to Madrid: quite remarkable imagination is his. But the truth is that these international symbols of Catalonia are leaving Catalonia. So independence was this! Denying it only serves to prolong the end of this unforgettable populist-nationalist venture.


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