Patriotic violence

Jordi Borràs

The political scenario that has resulted from the movement for independence has become the best way of making the shortcomings of a state undergoing democratic failure visible. The illusory period of the Transition1, which some believed was the best way to cauterize a wound that’s still abundantly flowing, was exposed at the precise moment the Catalan people manifested their desire for self-determination with the October 1st referendum. Spain’s democratic shortcomings resulted in 800 being charged, 24 arrested, and 10 imprisoned (four are still behind bars) and unprecedented violence: 1,066 were wounded in a single day for being so reckless as to attempt to vote in a referendum.

Nevertheless, this democratic failure has also given rise to another phenomenon: Spanish nationalist violence. In other words, what tends to be erroneously and broadly called “fascist violence”. We’re talking about over 125 criminal actions that I myself have documented from September to November of this year. Threats, coercion, and plenty of violent aggressions of all kinds that have had a single common denominator: the most intolerant of Spanish ultranationalism. That’s why it’s a mistake to talk about far-right attacks, because many of these attacks weren’t carried out just by far-right activists; in many cases, it was impossible to certify the ideology of the attacker, who is only known to have had a national or identity-based motive.

In this, it’s also a mistake –a serious, perverse mistake– to blame independentism for having “awoken fascism”. I’m not the only one to say so; not long ago, an eminent figure in this field, Professor Xavier Casals, explained in an interview that the independence movement has resulted in the ultrapatriotic agitation of Spanish nationalism, which is definitely nothing new. It’s a fixture in history, like when the Spanish military returned from defeat in the Spanish-American war in 1898 and decided Catalanism was an enemy that had to be defeated to prevent Spain from tearing apart. That’s why this ultranationalism was organized in Barcelona at the start of the 20th century, not in Madrid. That’s why, since then, whenever the fatherland is threatened, it has extended its claws without hesitation, violently if need be. However, this violence is invisible, silenced by the big media outlets who have deliberately hidden the scores of people that have been wounded –some very seriously– by Spanish nationalism as well as the far right this turbulent autumn in Catalonia.

Jordi Borràs