In English Voices From Spain

Secret behind a door

Photo by Filip Kominik on Unsplash

Originally published in Spanish: “Secreto tras la puerta”. Manuel Arias Maldonado.El Mundo.

16th June 2018

During the 40s and 50s, psychoanalysis theories dripped into mass culture. As can be seen in movies from the period, the idea that subjects “repress” crucial events in their biography became popular. Thus, the happy ending required dealing with some trauma: the argument was that there’s no healing without a grounding in reality. We can wonder if something similar is going on about Catalonia.

Pedro Sánchez said, during the debate about the no-confidence motion, that the problem lies with the fact that the current statute of autonomy as it is “was not voted by Catalans”. It’s been repeated afterwards in different forms: former Prime Minister Zapatero suggested that the statute [which had several articles deemed unconstitutional and hence voided by the Spanish Constitutional Court -TN] was indeed constitutional; a manifesto was published calling for a federal push seeking to remedy that collective frustration; Minister Batet talked about an “urgent and desirable” constitutional reform. Leaving aside the lack of details on said federalism, or confederationalism, the thesis that points at the statute presents two unsurmountable difficulties: one, that it is true; another one that it is false.

The paradox is only apparent. It is true that the statute has a remarkable role in this story; but the real problem lies not with the Constitutional Court ruling. The original text featured blatantly unconstitutional aspects and it was the judiciary’s duty to rein them in. How could they not? It’s more concerning that the Catalan political class would pass such a norm and then proceeded to read the ruling in emotional terms as an attack “on Catalonia’s dignity”. But again, how could the courts not do it? The whole territorial problem, today like yesterday, stems from that lack of Bundestreue, or federal loyalty.

Turns out that focusing on the statute is also a repression act destined to look away from the true crucial event here: the procés [the Catalan word used to mean the whole pro-independence push of the last 6 years -TN]. This is to say, the existence of a coup, or “civil pronouncement” if one prefers the term used by Santos Juliá, against Spanish democracy. It is understandable, we are dealing with hard-to-assimilate trauma. But if we are going to quickly forget what could have happened during those dangerous days, we should at least not forget what did actually happen: Catalan society was split in halves and, since then, it is immoral to equate “Catalonia” with nationalist views.

It’s not yet clear what lessons will be learned from the procés. But we win nothing, hard as it may seem, by acting like it didn’t happen.

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