TCS Daily


Spanish Inquisition

By Josep C. Vergés - January 27, 2006 12:00 AM

In his recent article "Damage to Catalonia", Luis Balcarce reports on the threatened coup this January by the immediately sacked army chief, General Mena, reflecting that the right wing Popular Party "applauded his words" and that anyway it's all the fault of the Catalans who are a "distressing menace to civil freedom." Violence to freedom is applauded while peaceful Catalans are a "Hitlerian nightmare."

Well, yes, Jews were also a nightmare to Hitler, but the parallels go much deeper. Imagine the German Christian Democratic Union voting against the Federal Constitution and the Free State of Bavaria? The PP did so against the democratic Constitution and against the Autonomy Statute of Catalonia 25 years ago. Imagine the CDU foundation not being named after anti-Nazi hero Konrad Adenuaer, but rather NSDAP, the initials of Hitler's party? The PP foundation is called FAES, the initials of Falange Española, Franco's single party. Imagine Chancellor Angela Merkel campaigning against democracy when East Germany collapsed? José María Aznar did so. Imagine Berlin daubing with paint Jewish stores? The president of the state of Berlin leading the boycott of Jewish products? All this and more does Madrid regional president Esperanza Aguirre against Catalans. Imagine the CDU giving support to a putschist head of the army? What would the world think of Angela Merkel? What can the world think of PP leader Mariano Rajoy?

The fall into disrepute of the PP is revealing a neo-fascist party with a liberalism as fake as the one promoted by the Goebbels of the Franco regime, Manuel Fraga Iribarne, founder of the PP. Lawyer Joan de Gispert says: "Once a week I travel to Valencia where I explain that Catalonia has suffered dozens of dead through huge ETA bombs without ever boycotting the Basques." Whereas the PP fiefs of Madrid and Valencia boycott Catalans, not because of terrorism but for the crime of freedom of speech. (This past Christmas Freixenet sold 800,000 fewer cava bottles there.)

In the last 75 years Spain has suffered four coups d'état, all connected with the status of Catalonia in a Spain centralized for the needs of Madrid. During the dictatorship of General Primo de Rivera, in 1925, the governor of Barcelona General Milans del Bosch, father of the 1981 putschist, banned Barcelona Football Club for six months: "After the music of the British naval squadron the Royal March was played which was whistled down by a good number of spectators. When the British hymn was played it was heard with respect and applauded with real enthusiasm, trying this way to establish a contrast of obvious dislike for Spain." Putschist General Franco in 1939 banned not Barça but all of Catalonia, liquidating the Statute "conceded in an evil hour." Later Putschist generals wanted to finish off the new State of the Autonomies. Now we have a new threat of coup d'état if the new Statute of Autonomy of Catalonia is passed.

The Financial Times editorialized in "Hostage to Catalonia," (a reference, like the title of Balcarce's article, to Homage to Catalonia by George Orwell): "The days of the military pronunciamiento are over. Spain is a confident and prosperous democracy inside the European Union, a cultural and economic powerhouse and an international citizen of standing. Unhappily the general is not entirely wrong when he claims Article 8 of the Constitution empowers the army with defending the 'territorial integrity' of Spain. The demand that Catalonia be considered a 'nation' reflects a cultural desire supported democratically by its people. Article 2 of the Constitution already recognises 'nationalities' within Spain. Spain's Constitution should be amended to spell out the supremacy of civil over military power. Unfortunately the opposition PP, still unreconciled to its ejection from power after the Madrid bombings of 2004, seem to think General Mena has a point. That could represent a greater threat to Spanish unity than Catalonia's autonomy ambitions."

The grandfather of Catalan president Pasqual Maragall, poet Joan Maragall, said a century ago: "How can Spain move forward? Not dragging along through provincial byways with strongmen frozen like until now by the ties of uniformity which is against its nature, nor through the emptiness of aged parties nor in the corrupt air of a closed centralism. Instead it must progress open to the four winds of the seas surrounding Spain, in the freedom of its peoples. What will you do? Raise the army against us, against Spain?"

George Orwell never wrote a "Homage to Spain" but after three centuries of Spanish despotism, all the peoples of Spain today have the right to freedom and the pursuit of happiness, not just the 60 percent of Spanish speakers with their gunman of the day.

The author is an economist who has written extensively on freedom from government and corruption. He can be reached at verges@valles.com.

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5 Comments

What Does Liberal Mean?
"The fall into disrepute of the PP is revealing a neo-fascist party with a liberalism as fake as the one promoted by the Goebbels of the Franco regime, Manuel Fraga Iribarne, founder of the PP."

I understand that you are angry Joesep, but I think we need to be careful here.

In the first place I would say that you are right to draw attention to the blatant illiberalism of the author of the post in question.

Really, looking through Libertad Digital, I can see that there is absolutley nothing either liberal or libertarian about these people. They are thorough-going old-time authoritarians, with what Freud would probably have called some kind of 'daddy obsession'

Now I'm sure that US libertarians are old enough and big enough to decide for themselves, but frankly I am surprised to find this kind of thing on this site.

Among other things I don't know whether they realise it or not, but the kind of people who contribute to that outlet have traditionally called the Catalans the 'jews of Spain'. Not that this is a bad thing in itself, I am sure that a lot of Catalans are conversos, but these people mean it as a form of abuse. Maybe someone should inform them that the first book legally published in Catalan by Edicions 62 was Max Cahner's "The State of Israel", and while Aznar and his friends are busy *****-footing around with the currupt clique who run al-Fatah, here in Barcelona any expression of anti-semitism is immediately roundly condemned.

Now, the PP...

I think there is a serious danger that the PP is going off its rocker. This is a problem since Spanish democracy, which isn't yet of the most mature variety, needs two parties who can be seen as viable alternatives, and the danger is that the PP is being driven by the 'entorno Aznar' towards a mixture of opus dei catholic fundamentalism and US neo-conservatism. I would say this was an unstable cocktail, and took it so far away from the centre as to make it more or less unelectable. This is the problem.

On Fraga, I would have thought he had been a stabilising, modernising influence on the PP, despite all the Picaresque. His ageing and waning influence have left a void, and probably this is part of the problem with the instability.

As I said, father issues. Aznar goes out of orbit without daddy to keep in line, and Rajoy isn't self assured enough to kill-off the memory. Oh, bring back Oedipus :).

Anyway, as I say on the other thread, you can find out much more about all this over at A Fistful of Euros.

And you're an economist I see.

Killing Orwell
"George Orwell never wrote a “Homage to Spain” but after three centuries of Spanish despotism, all the peoples of Spain today have the right to freedom and the pursuit of happiness, not just the 60 percent of Spanish speakers with their gunman of the day."

That's funny, because most of the works of Orwell denounce the kind of ideology that pervades modern-day nationalist Catalonia. Do you really think, Mr. Verges, Orwell would feel comfortable with Carod-Rovira, a de****able thug who met Josu Ternera (the current leader of the terrorist group ETA) a couple of months before the Madrid bombings to coordinates their strategies? Do you really think, Mr. Verges, that Orwell would approve the harassment of Castellan-speakers kids in schools, or peeping into medical records looking for violations of the laws for linguistic exclusion?

Orwell had a very different Catalonia in his mind when he wrote that Homage.

Freman Bregg

Catalan National-Socialism
Two things I can say about Catalan nationalism after first-hand experience in two recent business trips to Barcelona: anti-Spanish bigotry pervades everything nationalists say and do AND their alliance with socialists and communists had me running for Hannah Arendt’s book on totalitarianism. My personal conclusion is that we have there a perfect example of nationalist bigotry and socialist despotism. The government wants to legislate –believe it or not- the OBLIGATION to speak the regional language, and they have set up a special government department to make sure that products and business signs are labeled in that obscure tongue; it refuses to provide education in Spanish (which is a major language and the mother tongue of 50% population) and overtly discriminates against the “Other”. Carl Schmitt would have loved it!

Mr. Vergés hasn’t apparently read Orwell’s Notes on Nationalism… Mein Kampf, perhaps?

Catalonian totalitarism and ethnical cleaning
Unfortunatelly Spain is not an ordinary country. What is happening in Catalonia and the basque regions of Spain is not happening in any other part of Europe, with the exception of Kosovo. People are sistematically discriminated for using their mother tongue (spanish) and there are LINGUISITIC POLICEMEN who will fine those who dare to comunicate in other language but the local language, the catalonian. Poor people usually do not master catalonian, which is spoken basically by the upper class. Discrimination is schools, universities and workplaces with bulling and mobbing is usual practice and is supported by the local govermment.
Unfortunatelly is the only place in Europe where a language is not used as a communication tool, but to separate and segregate people. The Socialist Federal Goverment of Spain tolerates this totalitarian practices because they need their NAZI-onalistic partners in the federal goverment. This is how a country of 44 million people have to obey what the 6 million citizens of a small and rich region want.
I hope that one day all men will be equals in rights and human beings will not be discriminated, humilliated and forced to leave their homes because they want to speak their own language. Unfortunatelly Spain is a country where the values of the French Revolution (liberte, egalite, fraternite) and the American Declaration of Independance (All men are equal) do not apply. Basques and Catalonias want to continue to pay less taxes than other citizens, trying to keep and increase their long time privileges inherited from feudal-medieval times, and do not admit the idea of equality and citizenship.
(FREEDOM FOR SPAIN)

again
Like in the other thread, why is it so difficult to find comments that try to limit overstating the situation? Perhaps this exaggerating tendency serves as yet another proof that Spanish and Catalan nationalists have a lot in common.
Fortunately, I see that there has been a lot less commenting activity since an agreement was reached on how to ensure that the reform of the framework law for Catalonia will both reflect the demands of the political majority of the people living there and still fully respect Spanish Constitution, as it must.

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