A few weeks ago, the ETA “performance” on account of the weapons caches was greeted by The New York Times with an editorial in which the newspaper dusted off all the clichés that even those progressives who harbour the most benevolent view of the terrorists have long abandoned. An entire collection of banalities that have been refuted time and again by history and by the group’s own criminal persistence were rehabilitated by a newspaper whose out-of-focus opinion regarding some of our most important problems has now been confirmed by its editorial pronouncements concerning the proposed referendum for independence in Catalonia.
Referendum, yes; independence, no. This is the apparently perfect equilibrium of political correctness that results from the allegedly democratic argument behind this challenge to Spain’s sovereignty.
The New York newspaper should review the cost-effectiveness of its spending on information relating to Spain if it leads to such a wayward analysis; more than that, it should re-read the history - the quite recent history - of its own country. As a Federation, the United States was established at the cost of an extremely bloody civil war. However, long before that, at the very origins of the constitutional system of the United States, we can find the primacy of the Constitution and its extreme rigidity, which serve as a guarantor of stability and save it from fleeting majorities; we can also find the judicial guarantee of its application.
It is quite characteristic of academic progressives to apply flagrant double moral standards, considering something to be legitimate and acceptable for others that they would never tolerate in their own country. No less characteristic is their bedazzlement regarding the idea of identity, this being the great political “mantra” of our time, which fits in very well with their sense of nationalist victimism and their discourse of lost identity.
However, the democratic argument that seeks to underpin the independence referendum is profoundly fallacious, because the democratic thing to do is to respect the law and respect plurality. The Catalan independence activists respect neither the one nor the other, as anyone can see in their hegemonic imposition of the independence idea through their control of society and the media.
And if we adopt a “pragmatic” stance regarding the referendum, the conclusions are not that different. The argument that the referendum would settle the matter once and for all is just wishful thinking. Quebec and Scotland show us just how little attention independence activists pay to the results of this kind of referendum when they don’t reflect their desires. And the truth is that there is a certain logic behind the whole thing that the fellow-travellers of these independence activists do not wish to see. Because if we attribute an alleged “right to decide” to a part of the country’s population, under what logic can this right be withdrawn? And if we attribute this decision to a part of the population, why do we exclude all the other citizens throughout the country?
No editorial in “The New York Times” is going to decide a secessionist plebiscite in Catalonia. The article will have given a temporary boost to those pushing for independence, granting them consolation for their repeated failure to whip up international support for their pretensions. But this does not mean we must ignore the imminent clash between a desire for Catalan independence and constitutional legality, especially when these activists seek to create a favourable disposition to their demands amongst international opinion and they seek to discredit the actions of the State.
The independence movement has been working to mobilise a network of well-placed personalities in US academic circles. This strategy has not received much of a response in spite of the well-endowed and defined endeavour to influence the world of university, think tanks and opinion leaders. This is because Spain has sufficient resources, credibility and presence in the United States, in both a cultural and a business sense, to prevent the consolidation – even in small, but potentially influential circles - of a distorted point of view such as that espoused by the editorial in question.