There is a phrase from the writer Mark Twain that seems to me clairvoyant: “History does not repeat itself, but rhymes.” Nor is bad the classic “nihil novum sub sole”. Even the amnesty has already happened. In 1936, the Popular Front, in which nationalists, socialists and communists joined, granted it to those condemned after the events of 1934, which included the socialist revolution of Asturias and the micro-declaration of independence of Catalonia “within the Spanish Federal Republic”. That day, according to official figures, about 30,000 prisoners, about 3,000 politicians and about 27,000 common prisoners came out. Among them was the deposed president of the Generalitat Lluis Companys, who soon regained his position. And soon there was also a bloody Civil War that lasted for three years.
But, as I say, history does not repeat itself. In 1936 the circumstances were different. The almost non-existence of a moderate middle class and extreme social differences made it difficult to find reasonable solutions. The imprisonment of many people who were not the ringleaders of the revolutionary operations created a widespread social problem that the left flag. The right also had much to hide because it used, to free those responsible for the Sanjurjada of 1932, the route of amnesty, on the other hand contemplated in the Constitution of 1931, if agreed by Parliament, even if it prohibited the “general pardons”. The application of military regulations to these crimes made it very difficult to find more nuanced solutions. The Popular Front had already announced in its program that one of its objectives was amnesty and there was mobilization in the streets and revolts in the prisons. And in fact, it was approved by the Permanent Deputation unanimously, even with the votes in favor of the CEDA. A complicated situation that obviously had little to do with the amnesties of 1931 and 1977, which responded to a change of political regime from an authoritarian to a democratic one.
Now, although it is not repeated, history rhymes. Between past and current events, similar waves, reasonable coherences or parallel rhythms can be found, because similar incentives underlie. The bad thing is that, as Karl Marx said at the beginning of Louis Bonaparte’s Eighteenth Brumary, history occurs twice: The first time as tragedy and the second as farce. And a farce is precisely what is happening in 2023. All the drama that involved the situation in 1936 is now posthumous and dissimulation. There are no imprisoned workers or social divisions that need to be remedied, and not even the Catalan problem, which has already pardoned its leaders, will improve since they have said they will “do it again”: it only counts on the need to get the vote of a few members who could have been others but, what a coincidence, they are precisely those.
And to achieve this, it seems that they will be given what they ask for and will try that the rest of the nation accept the fallacious arguments with which the drink will be seasoned – already being done – and that, as it cannot be otherwise, they will be seasoned with cynical allusions to the general interest of the state which, as incredible as it may seem, many will believe, even a small part of them in good faith. The enormous propagandistic capacity of the states of the 21st century, endowed with tentacles in the media and entangled in many cross-interests, makes it relatively easy to convince those who want to be convinced (all those who would like or would like to be invited to the candidate). That the amnesty is not a felony committed against Spain to maintain power but a healthy show of clemency, a civic act of compromise aimed at promoting social peace that, on the other hand, is not really opposed to any law, because they will be able to find precedents and analogies even to justify Abel’s death at the hands of Cain. And there will be no shortage of “complacent jurists” or “pleasing journalists” who will find a way for the long-suffering socialist voter to commune with mill wheels with hardly any oral abrasions, although, unlike in 1936, amnesty was not on the electoral agenda and was even rejected in public statements and pardons reports as “clearly unconstitutional.” That is why this farce amnesty is somehow more damaging than the dramatic one of 1936 because, in the absence of deep reasons, the frivolity of its outcome will have long-term consequences, in which they will flourish, and will be more damaging. as the definition of farce says, “the ridiculous and grotesque aspects of certain human behaviors.”
On the one hand, it will wear down the institutions: The judiciary, which will turn out to have wrongly sentenced, condemning for crimes that should not have existed; the legislature, which will be unable to deliberate and vote in a way other than the ruling party’s dictation; The police forces, which will be unauthorized, and to a great extent if the Aragonés request is heeded that they not be amnistied; the Constitutional Court, which if it validates the amnesty, will remain as one more partisan organ and if it does not, its effort will be inoperative because, As the constitutionalist Alicia Gil said in a debate of the Hay Derecho Foundation, in accordance with Article 40.1 of the Organic Law of the Constitutional Court, the declaration of unconstitutionality of an amnesty already approved would not allow to review processes already expired, with which such a declaration would be a simple warning to be irreversible amnesty. In addition, it will be the opening of the door for those who come later to do so and it must not be excluded that the difficulty of making an adequate definition of the amnestiable crimes will lead to a new fiasco of the type of law If it is Yes, in which uncounted individuals would go out, especially if you want to make ball-fitting to include some yes and others not.
On the other hand, this frivolity and injustice will generate ethical blurring in society by receiving the message that anything is possible, in a generalized environment of non-compliance. And that environment will prepare the most difficult of the referendum or of what it touches, which will be increasingly intractable because the strength of the government will be less and less. A moral and democratic decline, in short.
We must denounce it and try to prevent it. Now, unlike in 1936, not those who ask for it, but those who are against amnesty, are mobilized and manifested. Maybe it’s not all lost.
This article was published in VozPopuli on October 11, 2023.