In English Voices From Spain

Instructions to become a dissident

Photo by Andre Hunter on Unsplash

Originally published in Spanish. “‘Instrucciones para ser disidente”. Ricardo Dudda. Letras Libres

25th April 2018

On the day of Saint George, former Podem regional representative Albano Dante Fachín, who is very close to secessionist postulates (he buys the whole discourse but insists he is not a secessionist), wrote a letter that read: “Saint Jordi will be ours. It will never be yours. You stay out”. The ones he was banishing were Inés Arrimadas (from Ciudadanos), who won the last election on December 21st, and Xabier García Albiol (People’s Party), for having participated in book day celebrations. It’s easy to guess why he banishes them. Because they are the 155 right [Article 155 of the Spanish constitution allows the central government to suspend regional self-government -TN]. But he needs to dress it as a cultural concern: they don’t appreciate reading, critical and individual thinking, they do not respect culture and they criticize the politicization of Saint George’s holiday. Fachín believes that book day is “a deeply political act against those who want a society that is silent, uniform and uncritical. Saint George will always be ours and you stay out. May that last for many years”. It is reminiscent of the shiver-inducing secessionist slogan “the streets will always be ours”, which is always excused as something metaphorical or hyperbolic.

Fachín’s text is full of platitudes about culture and critical thinking. He uses pluralism to attack it: everybody is welcome except those of the “gag-law” and 155. And he uses the “bullying victimhood” strategy that Daniel Gascon defines in The Post-modern Coup: I will impede your access to a public space, but only because you are the one who actually wants to block me, because you are the one imposing article 155 from Madrid. It is also a preemptive strategy: when you rule, you will veto me. Bullies in Catalonia are Madrid’s victims.

Fachín is deeply concerned about an alleged persecution of secessionist ideas. In an interview for Playground he states that “a wall is being erected that doesn’t let those who defend independence explain themselves”. This is the typical delirious assertion (155 left TV3 untouched, which remains an exclusive ream of secessionism paid for with public funds; not to mention thirty years of nationalist hegemony in culture and media) that can only be uttered by someone who knows it is false.

Fachín not only plays the victim bully but he also views himself as a dissident and a contrarian, although he’s part of the statu quo. He says he’s a contrarian but power cheers on him. Secessionism, hegemonic as it is in Catalan political discourse (at least until a few months ago), tells him he is brave for fighting against the powers that be. Secessionism behaves like populism in that sense: it always places itself in the opposition role, even if it rules. That way, they can always lay blame on a certain Other, often artificial and made up. This is an attitude that summarizes the procés well at the street-level: it is a revolution with the institutions on your side. Not even the invocation of article 155 changed this. The suspended institutions feature yellow ribbons, daily protests and secessionist unions related to the procés.

Fachín adjusts his binoculars to avoid seeing very close what he criticizes from afar. He’s like photographer Jordi Borràs, who has some prestige among secessionists as an expert in far right movements. His photo book about October 1st became a best seller during Saint George. His radar is fixed on fringe neo-nazi groups, and he analyzes their teenager graffiti like it were Kristallnacht, but he is unable to see the institutional supremacism of secessionists, the references to Catalan genetics or insults against immigrant descendants or people from elsewhere in Spain. It’s not a case of selective outrage or cognitive dissonance. It’s that hatred from your own camp is never hatred.

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