Social conflicts don't exist, gender inequalities are irrelevant, homophobia is unheard-of and regional nationalisms are bigoted, parochial creeds (but Spanish nationalism is not). Such are some points of the new Civic Education course for use in schools. It replaces the one decreed by the Socialists, which the right termed sectarian. It is the doctrine of the Popular Party (PP) and of the Catholic Church, arranged by the minister José Ignacio Wert; the Spanish right, which calls itself modern, at the service of the country's most reactionary force: the Episcopal Conference.
Amid the financial crisis, the PP never neglects the ideological struggle, even as its bright banners are beginning to fade. The crash of Bankia, along with the hidden deficits of its regional governments, is tarnishing the party's image. They have no plan, no transparency, not even skillful management. What the Gürtel corruption case hinted at, Bankia now confirms: thick webs of interests, in which the notion of limits had been lost. And Luis de Guindos telling us that Bankia will have all the resources it needs. There is no money for people's basic needs, but there is always enough to bail out a bank.
When your party's money management stinks, you have to retreat to familiar ground: religion and patriotism. Wert proposes to indoctrinate Spanish kids with glorification of private property and the spirit of enterprise, the negation of social conflict, perpetuation of the status quo while sweeping gender discrimination under the rug, in line with Catholic doctrine. Meanwhile Esperanza Aguirre, always in the front line of the PP, speaks of suspending soccer matches if the crowd jeers at patriotic Spanish symbols. The pretension of penalizing expressions of rejection (by regional nationalists) of Spanish institutions and symbols, besides being a deplorable attack on freedom of expression, betrays an ingrained hankering to deny reality, typical of every culture of ideological imposition.
An accepted principle of modernity is that no one and nothing is above the citizen's condition, that everything is open to criticism - people, beliefs, ideas and institutions. The PP is edging toward negation of criticism; what it doesn't like, it hides. What poses uncomfortable problems is not mentioned. And this culture is to be brought to bear on education: negating social conflict, ignoring the condition of women, dissembling sexual discrimination and the regional diversity of Spain. Why should we worry our kids' heads with such things?
In politics there is nothing worse than deception. Whatever Wert's civics course may say, in Spain there is social conflict; changes in power relations between genders are one of the ways in which society gains in wellbeing and equity; discriminations debase society, and the young have to be educated against them. And whatever punishments Aguirre may threaten, Spain is not one single nation, but several. Reality always makes headway through the mists of fiction.
This arrogant manner of indoctrination reflects an overbearing style of governing, which weakens real moral authority in an administration which has reduced its dealings with political and social actors to a bare minimum. This is how the PP governs: sidelining of parliament, disdain for the opposition, token contact with social actors, systematic use of decree, refusal to explain questions as important as that of Bankia, all draped in a laughable communication policy: whenever Rajoy has an important international meeting he himself explains that it has taken place not at his own request, but at that of the foreign host. As if they were all jostling for precedence to have their photo taken with the Spanish prime minister. Like the empress Merkel receiving her viceroy of Spain on a riverboat, in an image redolent of the colonial age.