A few weeks ago, just when Juan Manuel Sánchez Gordillo, the mayor of the Andalusian town of Marinaleda and deputy for the United Left, led an assault on a supermarket on behalf of a labor union, Sancho Gracia died in Madrid. He was the actor who played the television bandit Curro Jiménez, who took from the rich and gave to the poor -- although real bandits, of course, are not normally quite so nice.
The coincidence invited comparisons. Curro is an Andalusian bandit from the days of the Napoleonic wars, who aspires to a normal life -- a job, a home and a family. Meanwhile, Sánchez Gordillo is a politician in a land where the laws are made by a political class to which he himself belongs. They are elected by the citizens, thus creating a democracy, which is the most intelligible sort of order we have yet heard of. To say that we don’t live in a democracy is to insult those people who really don’t live in a democracy, just as to say we don’t live in peace is an insult for people who are living in a war. So, if those whom we pay for making laws, break them and are proud of it, why shouldn’t we break them too?
Sánchez Gordillo is not a victim of unjust laws, but a man paid to make them as just as possible. He says that to loot a supermarket and give the booty to those in need is not robbery. But it is, and this is why the Food Bank refused to accept what he gave them. He says that his actions are far less serious than the notorious fact that the bankers, whose speculation and swindles brought about the crisis, have yet to return the money they stole, and are not in jail.
To be generous with other people’s things is the height of insolence"
And there he is 100-percent right; but this does not lessen his offense. And besides, this is precisely the problem: instead of playing to the gallery -- occupying estates, blocking railway tracks and staging sit-ins in front of the Bank of Spain -- he ought to be working in Congress to prevent the impunity of criminals. With every robbery, Curro Jiménez stuck his own neck out, never hiding behind his men, while Sánchez Gordillo has parliamentary immunity, and can be arrested only in the case of flagrant violation of the law (which he was careful not to do, never directly participating in the robberies, and running the show from outside the building).
I am prepared to admit that Sánchez Gordillo has the best of intentions, and is not an irresponsible demagogue or media hound. But the fact is that he behaves as if he were. As a letter to the editor of this newspaper put it: “One is generous with one’s own things. [...] To be generous with other people’s things is the height of insolence. And to push around the employees who are working hard for their families, like a herd of bulls led by bullocks paid well with our taxes, is the most eloquent symptom of the divorce between the Spanish people and the politicians they elect.”
I can only add that the fact that a certain kind of left applauds or tolerates these antics is the best indicator of their mental confusion, a confusion that is well on the way to wrecking what remains of the parliamentary left. If this crisis has demonstrated anything, it is the failure of the economic strictures of the right -- according to which the market is wise, and guided by an invisible hand, and best left to itself, without the nuisance of the state, so as to lead us to the best of all possible worlds. But as long as the left laughs at the stunts of practical jokers such as Sánchez Gordillo, the right can rest assured. Decidedly, Curro Jiménez was something else.