Government’s anti-protest legislation is designed more to provoke than to quell disturbances
In a democracy there are no laws worse than the unnecessary ones. They uselessly exacerbate tensions in society, solve no problems and increase the already excessive arsenal of legislation. But the ingrown, instinctive philosophy of politicians goes against legislative economy; it incites them to leave, as often as possible, their stamp on the official state gazette. What is an unnecessary law? A law that does not address any real problem of society. Naturally, the next question is: Why do governments waste time with laws of this type? Well, for strictly ideological reasons. It is a question, not of solving a problem, but of shaping their surroundings and ours according to their own ideas and leanings.
Unnecessary laws are, then, an instrument of ideological struggle - an essential component, obviously, of the competition for power and for control of society. Governments never act in a strictly neutral manner. When they face concrete problems, they obviously do so from an ideological position, inherent or acquired. Austerity policies are one example of this. In the case of unnecessary laws and decisions, there being no social demand that justifies them, it is simply and plainly a matter of ideology. Madeleine Albright said it in regard to the war in Iraq: "It was an unnecessary war." A war started out of pure ideology. And we have all seen the disaster it brought about.
The Spanish government has just pushed through Congress one unnecessary law, and another is in the works. The first is the Popular Party's law on education: it did not respond to any social need; it was simply a case of sticking a few highly colored ideological patches on the education law passed a few years ago by the Socialist government. A case of placing on our education system the stamp of the Spanish right: elitism, religion, privatization and cultural uniformity. And the result? A law bearing the stamp of a single party; doctrinal, sectarian, condemned to an early death with the first change of parliamentary majority.
The law is not designed to solve anything; Rajoy has decided to play the role of the hard right
Now the government is bringing forward a law under the title of "Citizens Safety." After three years of brutal austerity policies, if anything can be said of the people's behavior, it is that it has been too passive. With exemplary stoicism, it has put up with brutal curtailments of social rights. And the responses on the part of unions and civic movements have been, in the immense majority of cases, unobjectionable within the exercise of democratic rights. The answer of the government is a head-on attack on fundamental rights such as those of freedom of expression and protest.
But the government has already told us time and again that dissidence is anti-politics. And it is now taking advantage of its parliamentary majority to lay the foundations of a post-democratic authoritarian environment. This is not a law designed to solve anything, but to provoke. Mariano Rajoy has decided to play the role of the hard right, perhaps to satisfy the most reactionary sector of his party. It is likely that the prime minister is aware of the reactiveness latent in a society already overcharged with irritation, and that he can smell the possibility of conflict. Instead of proposing political answers, he has opted to reinforce his arsenal of repression. In the Popular Party there are those who congratulate themselves that in Spain there is no extreme right. Well, there is. They have it within the ranks of their party, and it often governs.