In Catalonia, we have been witnessing the socially and culturally dominant hegemony of nationalism and a regime which exerts unseemly psychological and moral influence over society for forty years now.
The recent funeral of Montserrat Caballé, held entirely in Spanish, led the popular, pro-independence tenor José Carreras to exclaim:
‘There is nothing to say –but I will say–a little bit more Catalan wouldn’t have gone amiss.’
This is just one example of many of how the constant manipulation by nationalist power groups finds its way into even the most intimately personal acts.
Even when it is not subjected to direct action of any kind, this power is exercised by simultaneously imposing certain forms of social behaviour and discrediting dissidents.
‘This book is the child of doubt.’ So begins the book by first-time author Joan Coscubiela, offering some insight into the intellectual honesty of this historical and adroit Catalan trade union and communist leader.
And they are not idle words. To acknowledge the practical failure of the two fundamental principles of left-wing politics in the last fifty years can hardly be called insignificant. I am referring to not managing to integrate migrant workers in Catalonia under the ‘one people’ paradigm and the now questioned advisability of exercising the right to self-determination (‘perhaps it is not the wisest thing to do at this time’).
He defended both policies with a passion throughout his long political career, first as general secretary of the Comisiones Obreras union (1995-2008), then as a member of the Spanish parliament (2012-2015) and, finally, as a member of the Catalan parliament (2015-2017).
This is no small exercise in self-criticism by a man well-acquainted with political life in constitutional Spain since its very inception. At the same time, his biography serves as a useful inroad towards understanding the development of the present situation in Catalan society and the actions of its leading political figures from a historical perspective.