In English Voices From Spain

Guilty Credulity

Originally published in Spanish. «Credulidad culpable» Manuel Cruz. El Pais.

As it is usually said in these cases, “the images travelled around the world”. Reuters’ images that did so in the last weeks were that of the people gathered the October 10th in the Lluís Companys promenade, in front of the Ciudadela park in Barcelona, who were expectantly awaiting the proclamation of the Catalan Republic by the then president of the Generalitat. The opportunity of such images was rooted precisely in the fact of being two, taken within few seconds apart (eight, to be accurate), the time lapse in which the long-awaited “disappointment in the well-meaning independentists”. One of the pictures showed, in the front row of the crowd, a woman who, after listening to the initial declaration of independence by Mr Puigdemont, was rising her arms and shouting in joy, the same as her friend next to her. In the next picture of that sequence, the same woman seemed to wonder, with a gesture of perplexity, about the reason for putting on hold the independence that had been declared the moment before, while her friend had already her head down, seemingly downhearted, as she joined her hands as if she had started to pray in seclusion.

The truth is that the phrase between quotes (“well-meaning independentists”) never convinced me entirely. First, because it suggests the existence of an inaccurate and opposite “evil-meaning independentists”, which seems to imply that the goodness or evilness of the pro-independence movement gravitates around —and depends on— the goodness or evilness of its supporters. But we should not rush into considering as fairly obvious what it is far from so, because, in fact: Would anyone use —at least with the poise and profusion when applied to independentists— the phrase “well-meaning liberals” or “well-meaning social democrats” or any other similar? Why, then, in the case we are discussing, seems so normal to us?

Maybe it is because —as much both ERC and some exquisite intellectuals who seem to find CUP very vintage insist in denying it—, the pro-independence movement is an exasperated version of nationalism, and for which, the key element that justifies everything is the sentiment. Hence that, from their point of view, to make a distinction between different qualities of it, where nothing is to be objected or criticised to anyone who can prove that his/her overwhelming sentiment is noble, not only makes sense but also it is appropriate. Or is this not what Oriol Junqueras repeteadly appeals when he speaks of his people in terms of bona gent, good people, as if pertaining to such good-natured group (and therefore, holding good sentiments) were a guarantee of the truth and wisdom of the own position?

But, is it, really? Is there nothing to demand to the independentist citizen just because he or she shelters in the goodness of his/her sentiments? Is it senseless to demand them the same that is demanded from any other citizen with any other ideology, that is, a minimum responsibility and critical demanding in regard with their political representatives? Let us try to descend into particular cases and asking more concrete questions in order to illustrate what we are discussing. What would you think of a British citizen that, having voted for Brexit —persuaded, he says, by the data presented by Nigel Farage—, would stick to his vote for Brexit if referendum were repeated? Anything but a well-meaning anti-European, tricked by cheating politicians. What initially you would have been prone to consider as an innocent credulity, now most likely you would consider it a guilty credulity instead.

Let us apply this same pattern to the Catalonia case. Perhaps, at this point, what we should consider —more than the scandal that means that public media (with the invaluable help of some private media outlets, lavishly subsidized) engaged in a wild intoxication— is the fact that a significant portion of citizens receives with complacence and no signs of criticism such messages.

Such citizens do not seem to have reacted to our local Farages’ lies. To mention the most recent ones: those who insisted that to think that Catalonia’s independence could trigger the exit of major companies and banks to other parts in Spain was actually a fear-mongering campaign incited by Madrid, have been definitely discredited. Similarly, they have seen being discredited their announcement that, in the event that Catalonia kicked up a fuss (as Artur Mas put it), Europe would be compelled to act. The parallelism presented in the previous paragraph is clear: if the citizen who claimed to base in such theories his/her pro-independence conviction does not reconsider it after learning that such theories have been proven untrue, we are entitled to ask if, far from surprise them out in their well-meaning position, can we also to attribute them a guilty credulity or, if you prefer, a determined will to self-deceit.

In his aforementioned addressing to the Catalan Parliament last October 10th, Carles Puigdemont —apparently out of fear to further consequences— emphatically alluded to everything that, according to him, independentists are not. “We are not criminals, we are not deranged, we are not coup-perpetrators, we are not abductees”, were his exact words. And, right after that, he carried out one of the greatest nonsenses in Parliament that we can remember (which compelled the central government to request an hermeneutical clarification), only matched by himself, two weeks later, when he announced and rejected to call on snap election within hours apart.

Maybe it is true that independentists in general and the now-former president of the Generalitat in particular do not deserve the adjectives that he rejected in his address to the Parliament. However, both the former and the latter will become worthy (or not) of a particular characterization, not based in their statements, but in their acts. After all, how every one likes to self-characterize has rather relative value. Or is it that any of the bigots you may know admits to be so? Those I can see around me rather boast, even with ostentation, of their lucidity. Maybe the key is that nationalism is defined not by the total abandonment of reason, as it is too often believed, but in the malicious twisting use of it.   

Back To Top