In English Voices From Spain

Why does the myth about the Statute persist

Photo by Sabine van Straaten on Unsplash

Originally published in Spanish. ‘¿Por qué persiste el bulo del Estatut?’ David Mejía. The Objective. 

21st June 2018

Of all the false myths that have appeared along the Catalonia independence process, the one of the Statute of Autonomy of Catalonia is undoubtedly the most resilient. Unlike others -be it the famous fiscal balances or the Catalan origin of Cervantes- this has proved impervious to any rational refutation, becoming one of the most successful cases of post-truth that have occurred in democratic Spain.

It is also surprising that it was not precisely the nationalists who bought into it the most. In the recent manifesto Renew the constitutional pact, the sentence on the Constitutional Court that modified parts of the Statute is identified again as the origin of the independence process; the lie seems unbreakable. Since the causal link has been refuted with data on multiple occasions, I will not repeat the arguments. At this point it is clear that it is useless to try to deny the hoax, so it only remains to try to understand its persistence.

To understand why myths thrive, it is convenient to consider their social function. From this perspective, the explanation is clear: the myth of the ruling allows make the Spanish state in general, and the Popular Party in particular, for the radicalization of nationalism, its criminal drift and the social fracture it has provoked. The «grievance of the Statute» is at the base of the inane theory of «the Factory of Independence Supporters» and is a necessary link in the narrative of an ending «without winners or losers» that some try to build.

In all conflicts appear observers who favor the argumentum ad temperantiam, that is, the fallacy according to which the truth lies in the middle ground between two opposing positions. But the persistence of the myth of the Statute does is not caused by a well-meaning conciliatory will, nor by an excess of naive magnanimity, but by the deep fear that confronting Catalan nationalism inspires in part of the Left. That is why it tends to exempt the nationalists from responsibilities and even proposes to reward them with new concessions. And if they have incurred in criminal offences, it was as a consequence of a provocation; You know, the State was wearing revealing clothing.

The new government of Pedro Sánchez has awakened the illusion of a leftist voter who felt politically orphaned. The PSOE has risen notably in intention to vote because Sanchez has transferred to the citizenship the intention of placing the Left, again, on the enlightened path. His cabinet represents an explicit departure from the populist, pseudo-scientific and anti-European Left. There only remains the doubt of whether it will also break with the nationalist-friendly faction that has so weakened the PSOE. The election of Josep Borrell as Minister of Foreign Affairs is a good sign. However, other voices from within the same government defend that the solution to the Catalan crisis is to return to the 2006 Statute, that is, to undo the grievance forged between the PP and the Constitutional Court against «the Catalans.»

In this effort to disprove the deception of the Statute, another important detail is often overlooked: Even if the ruling of the TC was, indeed, the origin of independence process, so what? Could one speak of co-responsibility because an appeal and a sentence, in accordance with the law, make angry a part of the population and, consequently, its leaders choose to overthrow the constitutional order? It would never be ethical to split the blame equally between those who act according to the law and those who violate it. Nor is it clear exactly how the parties involved in the appeal should have behaved. Are they saying that the main opposition party, when presented a text that they believe is unconstitutional, should abstain from filing an appeal? Or that the magistrates of the Constitutional Court should have ruled against the law and validated what they considered unconstitutional? These solutions do not seem typical of a healthy democracy.

I understand that many find it difficult to side with the Popular Party, but the purity of the Left is not measured based on the distance it keeps from the conservative party, but in terms of the defense of some basic principles that, this time , nationalism has violated. If what they want is to put in the spotlight the responsibility of the PP in this crisis, there are enough other examples so that the myth of the grievance of the Statute can be dispensed with.

With the reception of the migrants rescued by the Aquarius and the withdrawal of the razor wire from the Melilla fence, the PSOE has created high hopes about the possibility of a change in immigration policy. The Left is defined by its vocation to extend citizenship, not by restricting it. As Félix Ovejero explains, there are two types of xenophobia: those who fight to prevent foreigners from becoming citizens, and those who struggle to convert their fellow citizens into foreigners. The Left must be unyielding with both.

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