The astonishing vulgarity of Spanish politics and media


On September 12th, Le Monde wondered why Spanish mass media had hidden the amazing march in Barcelona, the day before. In fact, denying an unconfortable reality is an ordinary practice in Madrid mass media. The worst case: Spanish government and media explained that ETA was the main suspect after Madrid train bombings on the morning of 11 March 2004. Evidence from international media finally provoked a wave of indignation against the liar government and an unexpected political change on Sunday elections (March 14th).

After the September 11th rally in Barcelona, the first Spanish reaction to Catalan movement for independence was denial. The rally was a secondary news, although editorials and opinion articles stressed the need of unity since the aftermath. Spanish parties and institutions unanimously positioned against independence. On September 20th the Spanish Prime Minister officially rejected any tax agreement in a meeting with Catalan president Artur Mas. On September 25th President Mas called for early elections on November 25th. Main interpretation by Spanish media: Mas uses independent movement for his own sake. You can see some Spanish statements about the process in the detailed chronology of events since September 11th.

Two months later, Spanish opinion has not yet changed. These are the main 5 arguments against independence:

  1. Denial of Catalonia as a nation, specially abroad. Catalonia has no history. Catalonia has no right to decide
  2. Constitutional dogmatism: the Spanish Constitution does not allow a referendum on self-determination
  3. Eternal exclusion from European Union: EU will exclude Catalonia and Spain will never allow its return to any international organitzation
  4. Fear: more crisis, less jobs, no money for retired people, frontiers
  5. Demonization of independentism, as an aggressive, totalitarian, even neonazi, movement.

The pervasive Spanish ideology is fed by a general education system that did not completely break from totalitarian years: children do learn to feel themselves Spaniards, as a kind of monolitic nation, disregarding diversity and minorities. This ideology is also backed by powerful uniform mass media and by influent civil servants in Madrid. A great, free, united Spain becomes a kind of general whishful thinking. There is no public debate. Changing the status quo is not possible, despite the institutional crisis. Questioning this traditional ideology always generates a strong irrational conflict: a sentimental and angry response mixed with a feel of social distress. Understanding Catalan independentism is not politically correct since the Spanish ideology considers any agreement as a surrender

Recognizing the right to decide is a rare position even among Spanish intellectuals: there is not any proposal for strengthening autonomy, protecting Catalan culture or revising Catalonia's fiscal deficit. Maybe we'll see it next week, after elections --too late!


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