Spain, or the real dilemma

The June 26 elections are not between the left, the right and the center...

A good many Spaniards are wrong. The June 26 elections are not between the left, the right and the center. That would be of relative importance. Nor between those who must pay the bill for social spending or those who are more or less scrupulous in the handling of public money. Those are important issues but not decisive. What’s at issue in the upcoming ballot is the model of State.

Many Spaniards are pro-system. Which system? Liberal democracy, obviously. Although sometimes some Spaniards break their own rules and end up in court, most of them believe in the superiority of representative democracy, the separation of powers, the market, the private ownership of the means of production, respect for Human Rights, limited and transparent government, and everyone’s subordination to a written Law that doesn’t differentiate between persons because we’re all equal in her eyes.

That is the system laboriously constructed in the West over more than two centuries, the source of the development and (unequal) prosperity of the world’s 30 best governed countries.

Among those Spaniards are, among others, the conservatives in the Popular Party (PP), the social-democrats in the Spanish Socialist Workers Party (PSOE), the liberals in Citizens, and even the Catalonian independence-seekers in Convergence and the Basque Nationalist Party (PNV), road companions in Parliament to the major state parties, sometimes attached to the social-democrats, sometimes joined to the conservatives, so as to form a government.

Although they maintain that there are marked differences between one another — and there are — in reality they are separated by some government measures that are almost always reformable or revocable. That is why the transitions from Adolfo Suárez to Leopoldo Calvo-Sotelo to Felipe González to José María Aznar to José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero and to Mariano Rajoy have been smooth, without serious accidents. The management changed, not the State.

That’s why some nations that are sheltered under the blanket of liberal democracy have been able to transition flexibly, without violence, from social-democratic States to a liberal variant with a predominance of private enterprise, or vice versa.

It happened in the United Kingdom in 1979 after the election of Margaret Thatcher, who put an end to the statist drift imposed by the Laborites since the end of World War Two.

It was seen in Israel, starting in the 1980s, after the enthronement of the Likud Party and the weakening of the Marxist-democratic origins of the Mapai, the Histadrut and the Laborites.

It happened in Sweden beginning in the 1990s, when, after several decades of social-democratic governments, the Welfare State drowned in crisis, weighted down by the taxes, the state rule and the absence of a market, excesses that conservative-liberal Carl Bildt began to correct in 1991-1994 with a reform plan that’s still ongoing.

However, other Spaniards are anti-system. They’re anti-market. They call themselves anti-capitalists. They are convinced of the moral and practical supremacy of direct democracy and the convenience of a strong State that subsumes all powers, the way Lenin prescribed. Those abominations called independent justice or an independent Parliament seem to them to be a subterfuge of the exploitative class.

They think they’re capable of planning and directing the economy. To them, it’s dangerous and counterproductive for the means of production to be in greedy private hands, or for society to let its transactions be ruled by supply and demand, when they should be ruled by all-powerful bureaucrats who know better than the market what should be produced, the price of goods and services, or what goods should be allotted to each person.

The rise to government of the communists is not the beginning of a new administration, they believe, but the beginning of a definitive era that will bring happiness to the specie, even though numerous victims may fall by the road and disasters occur that are as bloody as inevitable. More than 100 million people died violently during the failed creation of Marxist-Leninist societies, according to the grim accounting of “The Black Book of Communism.”

That type of government is the one promoted by United We Can — the type that failed in the USSR and its satellites, that fades cruelly and slowly in Cuba, that persists by blood and fire in North Korea, that is tried in Venezuela against every vestige of common sense, and that became capitalistic fascism in China and Vietnam.

That’s the model of State in which Pablo Iglesias and Alberto Garzón believe. They are proudly communists, although — in a shamelessly immoral burst of Leninist opportunism — Iglesias calls himself a social-democrat. Any trick is fair so long as one can deprive the bourgeois foes of power and start a revolution. There will be time to explain that the masks and the costumes are necessary. In politics, according to the communists, the system is well worth a Mass.

*Journalist and writer. His latest book is the novel A Time for Scoundrels.