Societat Civil Catalana adds nothing to the debate about Catalan independence

Reading through the interminable policy statement PDFs issued by Societat Civil Catalana, you realize that there is a fundamental problem with SCC's approach. Partly, it lies in the way it chooses to define democracy (and what is 'undemocratic'). But most of all, SCC fails to offer a compelling argument for remaining part of Spain. It instead focuses on a cold, legalistic line which is pretty much identical to that used by the Spanish government.

By focusing on this as its main defense of the status quo, SCC has made a strategic mistake. Not only because it's obvious that they've intentionally opted for an unnuanced view of what 'democracy' means, but also because as they focus so heavily on this legal argument, they fail to make a positive case for Catalonia continuing as part of the Spanish state.

When you think about it, SCC actually adds nothing to the debate. Its entire strategy is effectively identical to that of the state, which has repeatedly sought to criminalize an entirely peaceful political process which has seen millions of people taking part in mass demonstrations and non-binding 'consultations'. The SCC, then, whether or not it is actually independent of the Spanish state, is in effect singing from the same song sheet. This may well be the reason why it has failed as an organization: when asked recently how many members the group had, a spokesman eventually responded – "75". Even in a climate where it may be difficult to get people excited about defending the status quo, that number is lamentably poor. This, surely, is the result of a failure to galvanize support for a positive vision of continued union.

I think this could be a huge strategic mistake. By demonizing those well-meaning citizens of Catalonia who would like to be able to vote on self-determination as 'illegal' and 'undemocratic', rather than promoting the benefits of continued union (as 'Better Together' tried to regarding Scotland and the UK), the SCC isn't making an active case for union. Indeed, it seems that the SCC and the Spanish state have both given up on a large section of Catalan civil society. Much like the PP in Catalonia, which really only exists as way of leveraging more votes in places like Extremadura where an anti-Catalan attitude always goes down well. What this says about the inevitability of eventual independence, I will leave for another day.

The question is: why doesn't SCC open a new front in the debate? Why can't it advocate for staying part of Spain?

3 thoughts on “Societat Civil Catalana adds nothing to the debate about Catalan independence

  1. I think that the whole purpose of SCC is not contributing to debates, but to try to make it seem like there is a grassroots opposition to independence and against the referendum from within Catalonia. Notice how the Madrid newspapers introduced SCC: "they speak Catalan and they are against independence."

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    1. I don't think that the two roles are mutually exclusive. SCC itself claims that we would be better together (#juntsimillor) but doesn't provide any arguments or narratives to explain how.

      Of course, we know that SCC doesn't represent civil society in Catalonia. The only person I know who has had any connection with them has drifted away recently because of excessive influence of the PP in the group. But this is opaque to most people and that I was hinting at in my post: if it sounds like the PP government, and looks like the PP government, then…

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      1. As I see it, what they're saying basically is "your opinion doesn't count" (this is what denying Catalans the right to vote in a referendum means). Then what is the point in trying to convince them one way or another? If they engaged in a debate, it would seem as if they accepted that the issue will have to be settled eventually with a vote, but this would contradict their flat-out opposition to any form of consultation.
        I think a proper debate on the issue of independence is necessary and would be very interesting, but until the other side agrees that a vote must take place I don't think that it will happen.

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