Every time Mariano Rajoy appears in parliament he is supported by a roll of drums and blast of trumpets in the right-wing media, like a general at the head of victorious troops. Even though the defeat of the crisis is far from complete.
The Eurogroup, the managing director of the International Monetary Fund and other economic gurus never tire of reminding our prime minister and his team that they must not give way to the euphoria of believing that the crisis is on the wane. Time and again they warn that it is necessary to continue and deepen the reforms; that the work is only half done. This, in rough terms, means that the resistance of the labor market (what used to be called the class struggle), though softened by heavy shelling, is not yet entirely destroyed, and is in need of mopping up; that while workers' wages have descended to a level that makes them almost competitive, they have to be lowered much more in order to consolidate our capacity to compete with the labor costs of China and Bangladesh, for example.
On a foundation of precarious, low-paid jobs, we are building an empire that (as some have ventured to say) will make Spain the economic driving force of Europe.
It seems that we are headed in the direction of a productive model based on cheap labor
The fact is that our capacity to compete has been recovered in that direction alone, not in terms of education, or of other parameters that the economic statisticians can nowadays measure with some degree of exactitude: that of transparency, or the improvement of political behavior, or the elimination of corruption. There are some people around who write rather well on this subject, such as Luis Garicano in his interesting recent book El Dilema de España (or, Spain's dilemma).
The impression is, however, that this does not matter very much to our government, whose clear parliamentary majority allows it to pass the legislation it wishes. It seems that we are headed in the direction of a productive model based on cheap labor, with all the fragility and vulnerability that such a model implies. When the government speaks of "reforms," it is seldom speaking of anything other than this.
The drums and trumpets make an even harsher sound if we turn to the other task that our "National-Catholic" right has set itself: that of rolling back the content of democracy. This of course means the dismantling of the welfare state - particularly in the areas of education and healthcare.
But some are worse than others. Two ministers are particularly busy pushing the nation backward. First, the champion of reaction, Justice Minister Alberto Ruiz-Gallardón, who is working hard every day to diminish the already limited amount of justice in our society (sharply increased court filing fees, prohibitive to people of limited means; repeated and continual interference with the independence of judges), and to put an end to the liberty of women in matters of procreation. Justice, at the service of privilege; the abortion law, at the service of the most benighted sector of the Church.
However much ingenuity he puts into wrapping these things up in rhetoric about efficiency and compassion, what Gallardón is about is this: a return to the cave-dwelling past of National Catholicism.
And the second: Interior Minister Jorge Fernández, a perfect ally for the Basque separatists. The man is a walking argument for secession. But what is worse, he has given birth to a Citizens Safety Law that will turn us all into presumed criminals whenever we succumb to the strange desire to protest, and turns private security guards into police officers with powers of search and arrest.
All of this is only half done. There may be time to stop them before they go any further.