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Catalonia? Defeated

They’re not fooling anyone. And nobody fool themselves: defeating Catalonia is an objective of practically the entirety of Spanish political forces within and outside of the Spanish Parliament. Denying it is just part of the psychological political warfare. There has been no democratic dialogue and the situation has reached a point where what Catalan society is facing is the idea of politics as war by other means. Carl Schmitt felt right at home in Spain’s dominant political culture: militarism.

The defeat of Catalonia is to be by suffocation and the duration of the combat is estimated at under one year. "One year from now things will be calmer", said the president of the Spanish government a few days ago, in reference to Catalonia. Naturally, he didn’t indicate that there is a dialogue or a negotiation; rather, he was referring to the fact that the Catalan political process will be defeated. But this victory would not be achieved by just one party or government alone. It’s clear that the PP has no political limits, but its maneuvers are accompanied by the complicity and collaboration of an entire block of interests.

We have lived through a couple of years that, marked by the Catalan process, the economic crisis, and the succession to the Crown, have frightened the masters of Spain. But they have reacted, and they have forged a grand pact on a number of key state affairs between economic powers, the IBEX, and the two biggest statewide parties. There is an ironclad pact to defeat Catalanism and the demand for sovereignty that has been broadly expressed by Catalan society. The other political forces share this position to a greater or lesser extent, and nobody will stand against it before the Spanish electorate. Nobody.

If there were no such agreement, how else could we explain the fact that in the recent "national debate" both the president of  Spain and the spokesman for his loyal opposition ignored the political conflict between Catalonia and Spain? It is the main conflict that affects the structure of the state. It can’t be explained away by mere caution before the Spanish electorate on the eve of elections. To hide such a serious matter for pure electoral calculations would be a sign of irresponsibility writ large. I believe that it is much worse: the leaderships of both parties have agreed that the Catalan demands must never move forward, that they must be suffocated in Catalonia.

The attempt by Rodriguez Zapatero to renegotiate the fit of Catalonia within Spain demonstrated clearly how the State didn’t belong to everyone, and it revealed who had exclusive --and shameless-- control over it. The attempt was opposed in block by both the PP and a good part of the PSOE, and by Madrid-based economic, media, and political interests. The role of media conglomerates, very specifically those based in Madrid, deserves to be studied and denounced publicly. All this shows that Catalonia is not confronting an abstract Spain, but rather a very specific, powerful Madrid which has taken over the State.

In this strategy of destruction of the enemy all the means of the State, both legal and illegal, have been used and will be used. A secret political police unit is charged with investigating and persecuting both political and social elements of Catalan society, from artists to football players to politicians. Nothing that happens is random or innocent. A typical case is that of Jordi Pujol, where the irregularities and maneuvers of the Pujol family had been known to the various Spanish governments until it was in their interest to expose them. And the Spanish government who uncovered it was precisely one built upon corruption. They uncovered what was already there, of course, but if there had been nothing to expose, they would have made it up, as they did with the mayor of Barcelona. We’ll see what they come up with in the next few weeks.

The use of the police as an instrument of strategy in a political struggle --which is, in itself, shocking in a Europe that boasts of its democratic institutions-- was accompanied by the use of the Justice Department as a bludgeon. "We already have the votes to expel the Catalan judge", declared a broker of majorities in the Madrid courts, referring to Judge Santiago Vidal. As to the Constitutional Court, the PP took it by assault a long time ago. This is Spanish justice, just in case the Catalans didn’t know already. All in all, it is obvious that the Spanish state is acting against Catalonia’s institutions. The ideology of the State has never been so evident.

What the Catalans can expect from Spain is no secret, it’s shouted out loud: "I don’t want Andalusia to be governed from Catalonia, I don’t want a political party named Ciutadans to rule, a party that has a president named Albert". It must be this that Mr. Francesc de Carreras referred to when he denied the existence of Spanish nationalism: it must be that what he meant to say was that it is pure xenophobia. There are still politicians who are happy to call themselves Spanish nationalists. "The other day a supporter of independence told me: You are a Spanish nationalist. And I answered ... Of course!" These are quotes from the PSOE candidate for mayor of Madrid, who went on to say: "In this moment our country is a nation that they want to dissolve, and I vow that I will seek to prevent this dissolution every day for the rest of our political future. If, for the anti-Spanish, Spain is a nation in the process of dissolution, I promise you that my job will be to try and stop that." It is not about being on the political left or right, but neither is it about not being on the left or right, as a leader of Podemos, during a recent visit to Catalonia, referred to Isabella and Fernando and five centuries of the unity of Spain to explain why they too will refuse to allow Catalans to decide their future. What’s critical here is to be a Spanish nationalist. The "anti-Spanish" should brace themselves.

With skepticism but in good faith, there were some people --very few-- who tried to make sure that this Constitution, now definitely theirs, allowed for recognition and accommodation of the stateless nations. It appeared that this might be the least costly and painful route for everyone; but the last five or six years have shown that it is absolutely impossible. Nowadays, the generic appeals to federalism and a vague Constitutional reform are not credible, but it is also sad that things have reached this point. It’s unclear whether or not Catalonia will have the strength to build its own state. It’s obvious for anyone that doesn’t want to deceive themselves or anyone else that Madrid wants to break the back of Catalonia. "Surrender!" is the slogan, and for that reason I think that it is a big mistake to give in to whoever is acting as an enemy. There has been no dialogue before and there will be no mercy afterwards. There will be no dignity for the vanquished.

The Catalan people are going through a difficult time, and every person internalizes it with a certain drama. The fate of a country is at stake and the interests and personal fate of each and every one are also being taking into consideration. But anyone who claims that a Spanish party --any party-- will recognize Catalonia and the Catalans ought to explain what they base this belief on, to justify Catalonia’s surrender. And in order to do so, they will have to deny what is being announced from Madrid with perfect clarity.

To surrender holding your ID between your teeth and your hands up in the air will save nobody in particular, and will weaken the position of the country as a whole. They want Catalonia defeated. In a political conflict conceived with a war-like logic, such as this one, there are three possible outcomes: one side wins, the other side wins, or an armistice is agreed to and negotiations ensue. Surrender is just surrender --defeat. You must have strength equally to win as well as to achieve a cease-fire. The Spanish state has shown that it is using all of its strength, both legal and illegal, and that it doesn’t need reinforcements. Catalan society only has its own citizens, and it needs every one of them.