The resignation of Barcelona, ​​by Santi Terraza

A little over twenty years ago, when I started to go to Madrid, I liked enter clothing stores and to check – with an arrogant point of vanity – the difference in styles between the two cities: in Madrid he dressed stale, with pieces that in Barcelona had already expired at the Olympic Games. The always pleasant walk through the Spanish capital allowed us to detect an abysmal difference in trends, but also in cultural positioning. Consell de Cent’s art galleries were far superior to those of Claudio Coello; the Sónar and Primavera Sound were closer to London and Berlin than to Madrid, and recent cultural facilities of the moment (Macba, CCCB, Auditori or TNC) played a superior league, both aesthetic and conceptual. Twenty years ago all this, although it seems like an eternity.

Comparisons are always hateful, but that beginning of the new millennium, still under the Olympic mark, presented a Cosmopolitan, contemporary Barcelona, ​​proud of its Catalan identity, but open to the world, and that it had already ranked among the favorite cities of Europeans. In contrast, Madrid, with its economy focused on expanding construction and the cosmos of real estate and financial speculation, was still a city ​​with feet of clay, located closer to Latin America than to Europe.

In these twenty years, the trend of the two cities has been reversed, in large part due to the respective mistakes and successes, but also –and it is not a minor fact– due to the socio-political conditions that have favored the economic dynamics of Madrid. A good example is that of a strategically key sector for the positioning of a territory, such as the communication. At the end of the last century, Barcelona concentrated 70% of the business of advertising agencies of the State; today it does not reach 30. Advertising seeks environments that promote creativity and production –and in this sense, Barcelona is still a standard bearer–, but, above all, it must be close to financial decision centers. And today, the weight of the Catalan industry having disappeared, cod is cut in Madrid. This economic concentration responds to a political strategy that has its origins in the Government of Aznar and his project recentralizer, which also sought to neutralize the attraction of Barcelona.

But not all evils are external, not at all. Barcelona’s loss of competitiveness It also responds to strictly Catalan inertias. The ‘procés’ is one of them. Beyond the legitimacy of the right to decide, the obsessive concentration of forces and energy in a battle that those who had the information really knew was lost beforehand, has missed opportunities to the city and the country. In the years of recovery after the crisis of 2008, while others were looking for their moment, here he did not get out of the hamster wheel.

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And also responds to internal dynamics the generalized implementation of a ‘culture of No’, which, although a minority, has ended up imposing its story in the current country. Today, any investor or entrepreneur who wishes to promote a project knows that in Catalonia everything will be much more difficult than in Madrid (or, for example, in the Basque Country, where comparisons would also be odious, and not only because of their concert economic). In Catalonia and in Barcelona Leadership and a transversal collective project are lacking, and administrations have become institutions that, instead of favoring entrepreneurial dynamics, hinder their development. And to this is added the resignation from civil society functions as a dynamizing engine.

Certainly, the current debate on the decline of Barcelona and the progress of Madrid is vitiated by partisanship and the limitation of the excess of ideology, especially at the extremes (be it the radical left, the reactionary right or the victimizing independence movement). But, in addition to being accompanied by objective data, is marked by an increasingly entrenched perception that roles have been reversed and the lack of local illusion is a consequence of the absence of transformative projects. And this is not changed in four days.

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