Editorial note on the latest edition of ‘Cuadernos de pensamiento politico,’ directed by Javier Zarzalejos FAES requests further investment in ‘a project that earned us a vast majority four years ago’


    _ CATALONIA | Martín Blanco: ‘the aim of constitutionalist parties for the next term should be to promote a broad national dialogue’

    _ Jiménez Sánchez: ‘The problem lies in mistaking identity for sovereignty’

    _ Bardají: ‘The deal with Iran will increase tension and threats both for Israel and other actors in the region’

    _ Tarchi analyses ‘affinities and false equivalences’ between populism with right-wing extremism, which ‘communicate but are different’

The journal Cuadernos de pensamiento Político (Spanish for ‘Journals of Political Thought’), edited by FAES Foundation and directed by its Secretary-General, Javier Zarzalejos, has released its 48th edition. Its editorial note states that ‘it is necessary to conduct an in depth analysis of the reasons and intentions of a project that earned us a vast majority four years ago.’ ‘Nothing is set in stone and almost everything is yet to be resolved,’ the Foundation claimed. ‘Social fracture, the shift in votes at the expense of the Popular Party (PP), the possibility of a political scenario that will encourage a concentration of left-wing votes, and the likely consolidation of a rift within the space occupied by the Centre-Right are issues that can be answered with different measures, knowing that they will lead to different results.’

The journal also focuses on the Catalan issue in an article in which political scientist Ignacio Martín Blanco states that ‘the aim of constitutionalist parties’ for the next term should be to promote a broad national dialogue.’ Furthermore, this edition reflects on the nation-state notion, which, as José J. Jiménez Sánchez, lecturer on Philosophy on Law, believes, overlaps with ‘the most important legal and political problem that Spanish democracy has to face.’

Other topics discussed in the 48th Cuadernos are the concessions and consequences arising from the nuclear deal reached with Iran, article written by FAES’ International Policy Director, Rafael L. Bardají, and the debate on populism and its relationship with the far-right, by political scientist Mario Tarchi. The journal also features the articles Usos, motivos y revival del nacionalismo español (‘Use, motives and revival of Spanish nationalism’) by José María Marco; La cómoda mayoría y los inquietantes retos del Partido Conservador británico (‘The comfortable majority and the worrying challenges of the British Conservative Party’), by Tom Burns Marañón; El fin del ‘fin de la historia’ y el retorno de las políticas de poder (‘The end of ‘the end of history‘ and the return of power politics’) by Josef Joffe; El futuro de Oriente Medio y los acuerdos con Irán (The future of the Middle East and the agreements with Iran) by Alessandro Orsini; and La comprensión simplificada de la historia del mundo. La popularidad de Carl Schmitt en América Latina (A simplified understanding of the history of the world. The popularity of Carl Schmitt in Latin America), by H. F. C. Mansilla.

The editorial note of this edition of Cuadernos reminds us that ‘at the beginning of this term we wrote that, in light of the 2011 results, the Popular Party had become the indispensable party in Spain (…) and that its wear and abrasion was to be expected, which should be compensated by reaffirming and strengthening the link between the country’s circumstances, its need for the PP’s political project and the usefulness of the party to carry it out.’

FAES points out that ‘according to media consensus, this attrition started to take place very early and still continues. The day after the regional elections, many and prominent were the voices that rose at Spain’s Popular Party demanding a drastic and urgent rectification of political direction in categorical terms. Even personal allegations were made that were, in some cases, excessive in both form and substance.’ ‘The Catalan elections have provided continuity on these analyses and, if opinion polls should be believed, this tendency that was the cause of much concern a few months ago, still continues,’ the editorial note points out.

Political scientist and journalist Igancio Martín Blanco is the author of Reflexiones sobre Cataluña tras el 27-S (Reflecting on the Catalan elections after 9/27), where he states that ‘the aim of constitutionalist parties’ for the next term should be to promote a broad national dialogue.’ ‘The fact that so many Catalans have embraced the pro-independence cause is an unavoidable problem for Spain’s stability and future. The problem has to be overcome by elevating it,’ he concludes.

Martín Blanco believes that ‘in this great national dialogue, every group that makes up the Spanish nation should be able to voice their opinion and formulate their proposals to galvanize our common project while remaining faithful to both the institutional and constitutional order.’ ‘On the basis of respect for constitutional order and the need for consensus, there is much to talk about among us all,’ he points out.

‘After speaking about nothing else for three years, the independence movement has not moved forward, but it has divided society in half and has worn it out by the debate regarding identity. However, in spite of everything, on both sides of that dividing line made evident by the 9/27 Catalan elections, this society swells with willingness to rebuild the bridge of coexistence among Catalans and also with the rest of Spaniards. In his opinion, ‘this is not a unidirectional process, much less about adopting politics to satisfy the whims of those who want to break the unity of Spain; it is about building political spaces for dialogue amongst those who aspire to continue with coexistence. Harmony is still possible.’

In his article ‘El concepto Estado-nación en la crisis de la democracia en España’ (The Nation-State notion in the crisis of democracy in Spain), José J. Jiménez Sánchez, lecturer of Philosophy of Law at Granada University, addresses what he considers to be the most important political and legal problem that Spanish democracy has had to face. This problem is directly related to the wrong use of the nation-State notion.’ The article reflects on its origin, when it ‘served to set and consolidate the basis of modern European States. However, this same concept has now enabled the possibility to go the opposite way, by using its basis to lay claim to a new State, the so-called Europe of nations.’

‘The problem lies in mistaking identity for sovereignty. This is precisely what we can discern in this debate we currently find ourselves in, although it is sometimes even worse, since we don’t even understand the concept of sovereignty,’ Jiménez Sánchez regrets. Given this situation, he suggests analyzing the nation-State concept ‘in order to try and explain its ambivalence, as well as proposing a new concept that obviates previous deficiencies.’

In ‘El acuerdo nuclear con Irán: concesiones y consecuencias’ (The Iran nuclear deal: concessions and consequences) the director of International Policy at FAES, Rafael L. Bardají, lays out his reasonable doubts about the pact that was signed last July under the auspices of President Obama. Bardají believes that, far from indicating a détente in the Middle East, the deal will increase tension in the area, as well as increasing the threat for Israel and other actors in the region.

Bardají also explains that ‘the deal is bad in itself because, in the best of cases – Iran not breaking it as soon as it gets stronger – Iran will have an intact and modernized infrastructure in ten years’ time, that will help it recover its nuclear path. But it is also very negative because it isolates the real disease, which is the very nature of Teheran’s regime. Iran will take advantage of its new status to move ahead with its regional ambitions while hiding under a cloak of impunity and will increase the domestic repression.’

‘And this is dangerous because it is built on an optimistic and unfounded vision. The belief that Iran will give up its atomic ambition does not correspond to what we know of the Ayatollahs. If the leaders statements after signing the deal are carefully read, it becomes clear that their intentions are far from this idea,’ Bardaji claims.

Cuadernos 48 also opens a debate about populism and its relationship to right-wing extremism. Political scientist Mario Tarchi, lecturer of Political Science at the University of Florence, analyses the ‘affinities and false equivalences’ of both political movements in ‘Populismo, derecha radical y extrema derecha’ (Populism, the radical right and right-wing extremism), as well as suggesting a more thorough study than what media networks usually do.

Tarchi brings into question the arguments that tend to equate populism with right-wing extremism –‘they communicate but are different’– and establishes a illuminating outline of fundamental concepts carrying different meanings, such as ‘people,’ ‘nation,’ ‘society,’ ‘individual,’ ‘leader’ or ‘democracy.’