Spain’s False Democracy

Spain’s False Democracy

Written by Alfonso Elizondo



Pío Moa’s recent book titled The Civil War and the Problems of Democracy offers an excellent analysis of the major problems of Spain’s democracy in relation to its internal conflict. Moa says that the underlying problem is that neither the right nor the left has ever had a democratic thought and democratic thinking still does not exist to this day. At the moment, the leftists and right-wing separatists have returned with their ridiculous myths from the period of the ‘civil war’ almost a century ago since the right renounced ideas from the very start. One tradition of the Spanish political right is its intellectual emptiness and its historical ignorance which it considers a virtue.


Today it says that one has to look to the future, thus depriving the Spanish people of their history, because a people that forget their past is in danger of repeating it. In other words, Spain has a democracy without democrats. Its transition to democracy was made with deceit, beginning with its Constitution, and with no other intention but to fall in line with the rest of Europe. In Spain all politicians use the term ‘democracy’ for self-justification, giving it any meaning at all.


That lack of a democratic culture leads to democracy being identified with corruption, with constant violation of the Constitution, whether it be by rewarding ETA for its murders, with totalitarian laws that they call ‘historical memory’, with constant provocation  by the separatists, with new laws on gender, etc. Ultimately, the rule of law is being destroyed, which causes intellectuals to wonder why there is no democratic culture in Spain. During the republican period there was a great deal of poverty in Spain, but worse than the poverty were the instances of cultural hatred generated by the left and the separatists and now the same thing is happening with the radical right-wing.


Even though Pio Moa’s book contains many ideas that are not democratic, it focuses on the root of the current problem; in other words from the perspective of power,  given that individualized power is implicit in any human society from a large nation to a small neighborhood association. This is the exact opposite of animal societies that are governed by instinct, unlike human society where different interests, sentiments, like-minded groups and very diverse opposing parties abound, and this leads to a free-for-all. So power with its laws emerges spontaneously to try to avoid that conflict. And if the law collapses, as happened in the Spanish republic from its inception, civil war is very likely to result.


Although power may maintain a social order, this order may not be just, and may even be tyrannical. Both democracy and any other form of power can become tyrannical and it is just what has happened in Spain. In fact, democracy is a very recent model of political power that the people cannot handle. It is evident that the people cannot exercise power because power has always been in the hands of a minority or an oligarchy and it is exercised over the people even though this is done without their consent, because a people do not have unique and homogenous interests like a herd of animals, but multiple interests.


By failing to take this clear evidence into account, the theories about power and its forms end up being arbitrary and lead to many different opinions. Pío Moa says that representative democracy is a very modern form of power that gives rise to many problems in all countries worldwide where it is exercised and there is a great possibility that it will fail due to a lack of high level ethical thinkers. And that is what is happening now in Spain.


Pío Moa ends by saying that civil war is clearly explained in its intellectual dimension, although many secondary aspects remain to be studied. But it is not explained at the popular level, where the myths created by politicians, historians and corrupt intellectuals persist and systemic falsehood is also a form of corruption that is worse than the economic form. That is why Moa thinks it is absurd to talk about this issue of democracy without focusing on the present.

Addendum: I chose this book by Pío Moa on the problem of political power in Spain because the other perspectives on the subject are coming from people who are involved in the world of politics, so they, like all of them, do not present an objective and disinterested view.