Friday, January 28

New fascism or democracy

Stand in December 1984. It is published ‘My lunches with disturbing people’by Manuel Vázquez Montalbán. A book in which the writer discovers prominent figures from politics and journalism through the conversations they have with a table, tablecloth and menus away from spherification. One of the dialogues is with the journalist Xavier Vinader, the professional father and not only that of many pens from later generations, as David Fernàndez sometimes reminds me. The fragment that I reproduce below is the end of the dialogue that Vázquez Montalbán and Vinader engaged in at the La Odisea restaurant (the one that surprises Carvalho because only a genius can think of coating camembert) while they enjoyed a brain pudding whose recipe follows being secret. They speak of the extreme right, a movement that Vinader analyzed and explained, risking his life, as surely no one has done before or after.

—XV: But it continues to be an ideological reserve army that will come to the fore the day that national or international capitalism deems it necessary. It is no longer a question of that interwar fascism that was the response of the petty bourgeois fear of the advance of the world revolution. Now it is a total alternative to control human behavior in a highly technical world that will probably need a great social discipline, because that technological revolution will cost great social suffering.

—MVM: Or fascism or revolution… An alternative for the year two thousand?

—XV: For the moment, let’s leave it to fascism or democracy, and defending democracy implies understanding the new fascism, marking it, controlling it at any distance you want, but …

—MVM: But …

—XV: I am scared by the blindness of technocratic gentlemen satisfied with their wealth of statistics.

—MVM: I swear, Xavi, that every time I think of those people, I don’t sleep.

37 years have passed, both died and in their case it is not a cliché to regret that they died too soon. Vázquez Montalbán, in 2003, at the age of 64, and Vinader, in 2015, when he was 68. But almost four decades later, the reflections they shared in that Barcelona restaurant are more relevant than ever. Isn’t it true that defending democracy implies understanding what Vinader already defined as the new fascism then?

Not everyone shares the definition and there are those who prefer not to call the current extreme right movements fascism and limit this meaning to the one that originated in Italy and spread in Europe in the interwar period. It is an option with historical arguments and that can be shared as long as it is not used to whiten formations that drink from that same intellectual residue. Hence, as Vinader said, this new fascism, the current one, must be controlled. At the desired distance, as the Catalan journalist added, but without ceasing to place it in the space that corresponds to it, which is none other than that of the formations that are trying to regress rights that have been difficult to acquire and that the democrats must defend. every day.

If we transfer it to the current Spanish scenario, there is also the thesis that considers that, like Francoist positions they assumed the democratic path, often without renouncing the postulates of the dictatorship or limiting themselves to concealing their past, also now the extreme right that represents Vox can be another actor on the political board even when its questioning of the rules goes against fundamental principles of democracy, whether by questioning measures in favor of gender equality or feeding racist messages and policies. It is a somewhat naive interpretation (to use a verb that does not offend) about the role that must be given to a party that has shown ample evidence of lacking the minimum scruples expected of a formation that works to preserve and to the extent of what is possible to improve democracy.

Spain has normalized the far right in a way that, in the words of Vázquez Montalbán, should keep us awake. Alliances that in countries like Germany are not only unthinkable but are fought daily by the right wing. Meanwhile, here both the PP and Ciudadanos and many media bless messages that feed hatred and undermine democratic health on a daily basis. And the worst, they do it in the name of the freedom that cost so much to achieve, that for which Vinader and Vázquez Montalbán did fight.