25/01/2021

The Naked Nation

3 min
An urn from 1O to the Josep Serrat y Bonastre Institute in Barcelona
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A few years after the dictator's death, and after much begging, the Catalan nation under Spanish domination got some very famous tailors from the court to make it some very celebrated constitutional dresses. They were called autonomies. And for almost thirty years, those who said they had seen them and published chronicles praised their beauty. Until one day the people discovered the deception and began to shout in the streets: "The nation is naked!" When the tailors saw their cunning had been discovered, they had those who went before the people locked up in prison. But it was no longer possible to hide the fact that the nation had been naked all those years.

The question is how the farce of the supposedly autonomous dresses could be hidden for so long. And the answer is easy: the nation's leaders thought that by pretending to have them they could build the nation. And, in part, they were right. If you pretend to have power, you can get things done. Besides, since tricksters and the tricked were doing well, they all played along. But when the tailors - alerted by their FAES seamstresses - saw that the deception was getting out of hand, they wanted to stop the ruse. On seeing this, Catalonia wanted to defend itself by demanding a new dress, a real one this time. But the constitutional tribunal of tailors did not want to sew even the few rags that Court had granted just to cover up its privates.

We passed from fable to facts. On October 1, 2017 the cry "The nation is naked" became a referendum. And the State responded unilaterally by applying Article 155 of the Constitution (establishing direct rule from Madrid), a legal "Go get 'em". With this decision, the judicial system was given free rein to take control of the State and drown out any claim, not for self-determination, but for real self-government for Catalans. Article 155 and the reinterpretation of what is a tumultuous and violent act, sedition or disobedience, is what has left the nation without the capacity to continue pretending that it had power and make itself obeyed. With the loss of authority, not only do the Spanish courts arbitrarily decide what they think - such as when elections can and cannot be called - but there are also signs of a lack of respect among citizens for an institution as painfully recovered as the Generalitat of Catalonia

No one with any sense can deny the weakness of the current leadership, the signs of incompetence or the serious institutional instability in Catalonia. And the fact that Spain is in the same situation or worse is no consolation because there they have all the power and here we have none. But it is a very serious analytical error to attribute these weaknesses to the personal qualities of the rulers, to disputes between partners or to a supposed rush to independence. The victimistic impulse that we had rid ourselves of and that allowed us to hold the referendum now returns in a more dangerous form: in the interiorisation of guilt, self-aggression and self-hate. This is precisely what the repressor wants

Since the failure of the reform and defense of the Statute of Autonomy until the application of direct rule, many Catalans discovered that autonomy was a fictitious dress and that the nation was naked. The awareness of the vulnerability of our institutions signals the end of a self-deception that we now pay dearly for. And those who believe - or want us to believe - against all evidence that the problem has been the independence process, whatever the outcome of the next elections, will soon see that without real power there is nothing to be done. The unmasking of the autonomic simulation that worked while the farce interested both sides has no way back and nothing and nobody will be able to hide the nakedness of the nation anymore.

Salvador Cardús is a sociologist

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