Monday, May 29, 2023
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Javier Orrico

​The naked oasis

Professor of Language and Literature Institute and journalist. Author of 'La tarima vacía'

Could we say that the regime constructed by Jordi Pujol in Catalonia, and still untouched, is a neo-fascist, totalitarian, authoritarian or xenophobic regime? Undoubtedly, in response to absolutely totalitarian regimes, the submission to the electoral results and the democratic game, although only until September 2017, would disprove this affirmation. However, there are some of its features in which it is convenient to stop to verify if we are facing a neo-totalitarian regime, at least in its most notorious effects: imposed unanimity, real lack of freedom of expression and separation of powers, control of all of the State mechanisms (Generalitat) and societal control of the rest of the total population by an ideologically legitimized group, divided by a xenophobic frontier between "good" citizens who are affectionate to the regime and the nation -users convinced of the "national language" and ethnically pure-, and those disaffected or indifferent, of origin and mother tongue alien to the original and firstborn body. Furthermore, as regards what we are dealing with here, the existence of a "national" press whose purpose is not to inform a free society, but rather to create an imaginary legitimisation of the dominant group.


To this we have to add that, since 1980 with the exception of the period of Vidal-Quadras at the head of the PP party, and the recent period after the emergence of the Ciudadans party, in none of the electoral processes held was there real opposition, the nature of the regime was never discussed, only who would be in charge of directing it, given that the socialist opposition (and after that, the Republican Left, Esquerra) was only a supposition as a consequence of a co-optation that divided the areas of institutional and economic control (municipalities and regional councils for the PSC (Socialists), regional government for CiU) and in no way questioned the foundation of pujolismo: the nation first before all else. Nobody could challenge this, or they risked complete marginalization, if not harassment, even. The constituent dogma was: Catalonia is a millennial nation and therefore destined to have its own State, like all "normalized" nations. And so, from that guiding impulse, the national construction, based on its own language (and therefore an improper and illegitimate one), justified the submission to all and every political, cultural, social and educational action and, above all subsidies, to the satisfaction of that goal. And, in passing, the identification between the wealth of the new nation-state and that of its maker, its Sun King, Jordi Pujol, and its parties, almost everything.


But if thirty-five years of nationalist government had not taught us enough, the discourse of Ernest Maragall (member of a prominent family of the gauche divine -divine Right- the enlightened bourgeoisie of the pergola and tennis that put the vote of the working class in the service of nationalism) at the opening of the new regional Parliament on January 17th, concluded: "This country will always be ours". As regards the nationalists, , and of course those assimilated into their ranks; of the ethnic-linguistic group, Catalonia's legitimate proprietors, against the "nou vinguts" (meaning "new arrivals, although they have been living there for a hundred years, even though they had transvestised their names, their surnames that revealed their provenance: check up on the separatist surnames these days); of those who do not discuss the supremacy of one Catalonia over the other, who defend and will continue to defend tooth and nail their control of the mechanisms of power of a society that belongs to them by right of inheritance; of those, the nationalist-Catalonians, who will never accept the democracy of individual rights, of the general public, of the overcoming of tribal, linguistic or born-into ascriptions. In short, of those who have never hidden their defence of the Ancien Regime, of the rights of estates and the social classification by blood line, still valid in that reactionary utopia, which is a return to the times before 1714, to the ethnically pure and lost paradise, with its almogávares (expeditionary mercenaries, basically hired assault troops) and their dream empire, which guaranteed an inalterable order. Another trait also typically fascist: the idealization of the past and its nostalgia.

It was essential for this, in addition to using education as a weapon for the future, to put the media at their service for two complementary purposes: to conceal all the "necessary" actions (illicit or not) that Pujolism was forced to carry out for the superior purpose of nationalist domination; and to convince the reluctant to join the project, even in secondary roles or well-paid jesters. 

This is what was called the oasis, a submissive and bought press, with official filter and censorship institutions (the CAC, for example), which created the fiction of a peaceful and harmonious society, without dissidence (not even a single soul, a single town, a single leader), willing to even accept an event like the "information blackout" during the tunnel collapse and with it, the Carmelo neighbourhood in Barcelona.

A press, whether convergent or socialist, did not matter, that responded strictly to the interests of the two parties that shared out Catalonia, and pretended to oppose each other in their respective domains, but always without hurting themselves.

And so, after the collapse of one of the most characteristic immigrant neighbourhoods (from where the posh came down on their "mursianu", motorcycle to meet the oasis, to which they could never belong, in the "Last evenings with Teresa" by Marsé), there was a fully revealing event of the ultimate truth of the Catalonian media, with honourable exceptions (such as the prematurely deceased Jose Clemente, who recounts this in his book: "The Catalonian Oasis", 2005). Nothing less than the prohibition of access of journalists to the scene of the events, and even to the hotels where the affected people were staying. The actions of the Association of Journalists of Catalonia, then in socialist hands, accepting the veto of information and almost justifying it, is a clear example of the service of the media beholden to political power, and a proof of the absence of opposition and the culpable participation of the Left in the same practices of the regime.


And always, the language as the excuse. The linguistic policies (should there be linguistic policy?) in a society increasingly suffocated in their freedoms, were the perfect launching pad for the new nation (and its administrators) to invade all the functions of the media: it would be the "promotion" of Catalonian the way through which quite generous financing would arrive (calculated, in 2017, between one thing and other, as 91 million Euros, without counting the spending on TV3) for media whose recurrent crises were becoming more and more serious, down to the threat of the presence of Internet and access to information. And in addition, while maintaining the paper press on ventilators (one for the nationalist right, another for nationalist socialism), including the unusual purchase of shares of the also convergent Avui, the network allowed the development of a set of nationalist digital press directly engineered or paid for by political power, much more brazen in their intervention, if that was possible, during the three-way nationalist left Government that the very same Pujol instigated.

This evolution towards media and social unanimity, an indisputable triumph of the nationalist machinery, was forged on two milestones unparalleled in any other democracy: the Banca Catalana case, in which Pujol was convinced of having tamed the central government, and Catalonian society at large, and have turned them into the scene of their impunity; and the incomparable, spectacular journalistic event that constituted the joint editorial signed by all the regional press in 2009. This is to say, by all means, except those of national implantation.

It is said that it was written by a Vanguardia journalist, Enric Juliana, outstanding nationalist of the sector "half-pronounced iniquities", constituted the fundamental argument that led to the "Procés" and the October 2017declaration of independence: the grievance to Catalonia that any alteration of the new "Estatut" by the Constitutional Court represented.

It did not matter that the statute was constitutional or not, nor that it designed a situation of broken sovereignty, of a State within the State, by which the other Spaniards would remain in an almost a colony of Catalonian power, which would enjoy the power to intervene in the affairs of the State, but without the State being able to do the same in the affairs of Catalonia. 

What was not in vain was the result of a pact between Zapatero and Maragall (not Mas, let's not deceive ourselves), the same situation, of course, enjoyed by the PSC with respect to the PSOE, but worse, as the Generalitat would have acquired even have the right of veto over everything they considered affected them. In short, one more poem of the zapaterismo, a phenomenon the memory of which only produces inverse melancholy.


Finally, if this was the scenario of a supposedly private and free press, able to create and sign this nationalist manifesto, what could we say about the Generalitat's media, TV3 and its radios, and so on, but have been and are (because the PP-PSOE-C pact for implementing the 155 has allowed them to continue in complete impunity, pushing the coup and legitimizing the coup plotters) fundamental instruments for the support of the "fake-policy" on which the recently-renewed electoral hegemony has been built.

And, above all, for the expansion of victimhood (those images of the police charges of the 1st October, those stricken wounded) that justifies everything: the biggest lie, of all those that have contributed to this absurd situation, in which the privileged, the "owners of the country", are presented as poor persecuted by their employees, the suburban banlieu workers. This is where the apotheosis of the role of the media in the development of the separatist monster takes place: the suffocating diffusion of "Espanya ens roba", (Spain is robbing us) the motto that knew how to agglutinate all the fascistoid egoism of those who found in it the reason to take up the call of an independence that was going to achieve, at long last, a rich (er) Catalonia and full of the Els Segadors utopia (a reference to the Catalonian anthem).

Surely for this reason, because it is an upside down revolution, but in the end nevertheless a revolution, this is why one of its top axponents has been Jaume Roures, the millionaire who says he is a Troskist while their media sources feed football and falsehoods (like the documentary on the "repression" in Catalonia that has been seen by half the world) to the oppressive masses: those millions of Spaniards who see the parties that clothe them in gold cloth. What a strange tyranny, the metaphor of that Spain that has made them rich, them and their people, while being despised by them!



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