Text in which the author defends ideas and reaches conclusions based on his / her interpretation of facts and data

Out of the swamp

Given the paralysis over the crisis on both the left and right, it is hardly surprising that nationalist projects gain traction

We are stuck in a deep swamp of social crisis, where inequality is the main issue. The economic powers have unilaterally broken the understandings that underpin the European welfare-state model. Yet in Spanish politics, the chief factor of division is that of regional autonomy.

The first rebellion of the PP's regional "barons" against Rajoy has been over the assignment of defict-reduction objectives to various regions. In a disciplined party (which voted unanimously, for example, to send Spanish troops to the Iraq war), the prime minister has been unable to obtain unanimity on a question of money. The regional model is also causing tensions within the Socialist Party (PSOE), and is pitting the PP against CiU — two parties that the neoliberals' prevalence in Convergència had made practically identical as far as economic policy is concerned.

Even as the lifeblood of Spanish society is draining, cracks appear in the map of Spain. Political squabbling has more to do with the map of power, even as the crisis is causing a deep rift between those with stable jobs and those without. Protest at economic policy has come not in parliament, but in the street.

Social crisis is becoming more acute day by day, with unemployment out of control and the labor market regulated downward, while workers have to scramble for miserable wages. We have come to a point where having a job no longer ensures you will have enough income for a decent life.

We have come to a point where having a job no longer ensures you will have enough income for a decent life

The OECD predicts a dark future for Spain in the next two years, and says that the government's priority ought to be growth. And what is the government doing? Is it forcing the banks to grant loans at reasonable interest rates, not at the 10 percent they are charging for the money they get from the ECB at 0.5 percent? No. Is it preparing any other instruments of credit? No. And what alternative is the left proposing? An "appeal to consensus." But consensus, in the EU as in Spain, cannot be a mere formula to socialize the impotence of both parties.

John Stuart Mill said that "wherever a ruling class exists, much of the country's morality emanates from its class interests, or feelings of superiority." Politics in Spain has run aground. The left is incapable not only of proposing alternative policies for the crisis, but even cultural and social references that might drive a wedge into the conservative hegemony built up in recent years. The left's mute inaction, in the face of the systematic destruction of basic rights that we are now witnessing, leaves a void in terms of political projects. This is why the only project in sight that seems to have any future is that of the independence of Catalonia. United Left is the first Spain-wide party to support the Catalan aspiration to an autonomous "right to decide." Perhaps only a minority want actual independence, but what a majority of people in Catalonia do want is a recognition of that right. And this can only be obtained by means of a referendum: the acceptance of Catalonia's existence as a political subject.

The idea is finally catching on, that the solution to the crisis can only be political in nature. This means a thorough overhaul of the constitutional system. We are stuck in a swamp, with downgradings at every step of the social scale, with half of the citizens trapped in living conditions that keep getting worse, and regional-autonomy conflicts in gridlock. The final winner will be the one who is able to propose a project that can enthuse and mobilize the citizen. And if institutional politics does not recover its autonomy with respect to economic power, and the authority that comes only from correct conduct, the remedy will be heavier dosages of the technocratic drug, or the populist drug. A pharmakon with lethal side-effects on society, as Bernard Stiegler would put it.

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