Winston Smith, the fictional character created by George Orwell, has a mission: falsify the past to meet the needs of Big Brother. Throughout ‘1984’, Winston changes dates, erases names, manipulates the facts, in short, rewrites history according to the needs of the State. Written shortly after the defeat of Nazism, Orwell’s novel is inspired by what happened under Hitler’s and Stalin’s boots, but warns of a risk that also nests in democracies. Manipulate history, even in a more subtle way, to put it at the service of a political project. In Spain, rewriting the history of the civil war, bordering the coup against a legitimate Republic to facilitate a rapprochement with Vox, and in Catalonia, reducing its history to a confrontation with Spain, to justify the most unrepentant independence story.
Fortunately, Catalonia does not live in Orwell’s universe. However, the attempt to twist reality to adapt it to the purposes of the narrative that has dominated Catalan political life in the last decade does not cease. The celebration of 50th anniversary of the Assembly of Catalonia chaired by the President of the Parliament, Laura Borràs, has been the latest example, of this ‘Orwellian’ temptation. Before an undernourished audience and in front of the canvas that Tàpies dedicated to the Assembly, Borràs established a parallel between the political times of 1971 and those of today that constitutes a whole declaration of principles. As if the unitary body of the anti-Franco opposition had its reason for being in the conflict with Spain and not in the fight against the dictatorship. With this approach, the exclusion of prominent protagonists of the Assembly and the dismissal of the PSUC, its main promoter, Borràs proceeded to this rewriting of the history that he intends justify the most disruptive independence movement.
The temptation to revise history, altering the profile of some of its protagonists so that they serve certain political purposes is irresistible. It occurs systematically in Catalonia, with the figure of Lluís Companys monopolized by the independence movement, stealing from the historical truth that he was not an independentista, no matter how much he declared the Catalan state in the reckless circumstances of October 6. It is enough to forget that, even then, Companys proclaimed the Catalan State ‘of the Spanish Federal Republic’. The deformation of Companys also happens by leaving aside certain episodes of his biography such as the one he starred in Madrid surrounded by Franco’s troops, when he shouted “Madrileños, Catalunya loves you!”. Something similar has happened recently, on the occasion of the commemoration of the 70th anniversary of the famous speech of Pau Casals before the United Nations Assembly. Although the President of the Generalitat, Pere Aragonès, he did honor to the truth by glossing his figure, there were many who will try to turn the famous “I am a Catalan” by the teacher into a cry against Spain, something that was never in the mind of a man who always defined himself as a Catalanist.
“Who controls the past controls the future: who controls the present controls the past & rdquor ;, Orwell concluded in his novel. This is what it is about, determining the future by rewriting the past.
In a democracy like the Spanish one, this manipulation is exercised in a more subliminal way, based on silences, insinuations, semantic slippages. TO Pablo Casado It is enough for him to confuse the truth and present the civil war as a conflict between those who wanted democracy without law and those who advocated law without democracy. Already Quim Roast It was enough for him to present 1714 as a war between Catalans and Spaniards, when he was directing the cultural center installed in El Born. That the fall of Barcelona in 1714 was, fundamentally, a conflict between European monarchies was the least of it. Something similar happens with the attempts to remember the other fall of the city, in 1939, as the result of the anger of Spain. Instead of learning from a civil war that also divided and devastated Catalonia. As Orwell said, the important thing is that the past, rewritten, serves to control the future.