Against nationalist superstition, history | Culture

Against nationalist superstition, history | Culture

The clairvoyance of John H. Elliott and his reputation as a Hispanist neutralize the instincts and viscera of the "Catalan problem" with an essay that compares the history of an old country that renounced its independence, Scotland, against another that, not being so, is obstinate in obtaining it.

It is the contrast of Catalans and Scots (editorial Taurus), a dialectical approach to the identity issue that allowed this Monday in Madrid - Rafael del Pino Foundation - to talk to John H. Elliott with the historian José Álvarez Junco in a sort of senatorial excellence to which journalistic instinct gave the moderating and inciting role of José Andrés Rojo.

The point of consensus is not only to identify "the recurrent psychosis of the grievance" to be used in nationalisms, but the restrictive bias implied by contemporary Catalan sovereignty, often incurring in solipsism. An idea of ​​the self-absorbed, inward, introspective idiosyncrasy that demands to divest oneself of the surrounding cultural wealth -the Spanish, the communitarian- and that requires an arbitrary reconstruction of history: "There is a lot of manipulation in nationalist narratives. Myths seek to give coherence to society. Historians are called to demystify nationalism, essentialism. It is irresponsible to look in the past for certainties that are not found in the present, "Elliott conceded.

The nationalist fever comes, in his view, from a conspiracy between the fear of globalization, the decadence of conventional parties, identity superstitions and the disappointment of society. An inflammable context in which induced distortions coalesce better. In fact, Elliott denounces without hesitation a "process of indoctrination" that is rooted in the hegemony of Jordi Pujol and that has been radicalized in the times of the economic crisis in the likeness of an escape. "Textbooks have been manipulated, trying to establish the opposition of a state, the Spanish state, an artificial construction against the legitimacy of an organic, authentic nation, which would be Catalonia. It has been a very effective work that has also been prolonged in the international repercussion thanks to campaigns endowed with budget and intentions ". It is the habitat in which the Hispanist points out, identifies and even regrets the passivity of Mariano Rajoy, unable to build an alternative portrait, legitimate and robust to the victimization of Catalonia. "There are no scruples in the distortion of history itself that is practiced from contemporary sovereignty," said Alvarez Junco. "The most flagrant case is that of Rafael Casanova. He is venerated as a hero and as a martyr of the War of Succession, he is honored with flowers, but the fact is that this man, who was a notary, lived 30 years very well after his alleged martyrdom, "the historian irked to the memorial imposture. Elliott's book is not an emergency response to the contemporary crisis nor an opportunistic treaty. As a historian, the laureate Hispanist remembers for centuries and centuries. And it traces the thread that communicates the remote past with the present, warning that the separatist movements of Scotland and Catalonia have walked together in the path of idealization, although they have also retained different positions. "Unlike Scotland, Catalonia was never independent. Scotland drew its difference from religion. And from an artificial medievalism to which the literature of Walter Scott gave flight. Catalonia gathered identity from the language and from the creation of a fictitious national character. One of the most characteristic aspects of nationalism consists in the ability to assume the representation of a people and a soul. It is about endowing one and the other with a purity and an essentiality that tend to graduate the difference, if not the superiority ".

Elliott and Álvarez Junco not only distrust the referendum on self-determination. They are suspicious of the plebiscite category in an absolute sense. Because they cling to representative and parliamentary democracy. And because the maximalist approaches -either or not, all or nothing- "polarize societies, limit them and alter coexistence, as has happened in the case of the Brexit", Described the British Hispanist. "The European Union is an extraordinary idea," added Álvarez Junco. "An antidote to nationalism and nostalgia for the nation state. It is true that the EU has generated an excessive bureaucratic apparatus, but the idea of ​​a supranational formula, superestatal, represents a space of coexistence much more desirable than nationalist obscurantism in its legends and restrictive temptations ".


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