Friday, July 31, 2009


Santiago Espot
Executive Chairman of Catalunya Acció.

Translated from Catalan into English by
Christian Andreu
and Jackie Morrow


Chapter I

A leadership crisis

How do are rulers fare?

The first stage of science and politics
is to prepare our leaders as well as possible.
Antonio Gramsci*

* A. Gramsci (1891-1937). Italian politician

Past and present leadership

Day after day, one of the predictions that I often heard from the creator of psychoaesthetics, Professor Carles M. Espinalt, is coming true. It basically states that: “The main problem our society will have to face will be the mediocrity of the men representing us”. Is this an exaggeration? An attempt to provoke the establishment?

These were my thoughts after I discovered certain information published in November 2003 in the Expansión & Empleo (Expansion & Work) Supplement of the El Mundo newspaper, which read literally as follows: Bosses are arrogant, disrespectful and deaf. The article goes on to explain this in great detail: The lack of respect leads to inconsiderate behavioural patterns; shouting, insulting, arguing in public and permanently disagreeable behaviour. Furthermore, Otto Walter Consultants, the firm who prepared the article, confirms that the most common behaviour among bosses today is authoritarianism, unfulfilled commitments, insincerity or ‘medal stealing’.

At a time when so much is being said about justice, respect, freedom and democracy, it is certainly surprising to see our working relations being completely overrun by totalitarianism attitudes. In fact, it is a shame that when analysing this fact, the consultants did not look into the world of politics, because the negative behavioural patterns predominant among political leaders are exactly the same as those described above. In other words, deteriorating working relations is now a rule in politics. So what is happening here?

Concern over this problem is not new. In fact, throughout its history, Catalonia has always proved to be an advanced nation; respectful and prudent, with the capacity to govern. In the 14th century Francesc Eiximenis recommended that “Princes, in particular, should be diligent and correct bad habits, so that the public and the princes themselves do not die” . This interpretation of the art of political leadership was maintained until quite recently. In 1927, the attorney and politician Lluís Ventura i Ventosa also warned about man’s superiority when representing society: “In the life of nations, there have been fewer men with the necessary characteristics to govern, than ideal systems of government” . The same cannot be said today, but everything is assessed as it was two hundred years ago during the French Restoration. Just a Left or a Right wing party, and nothing else.

According to that old assembly, those on the President’s right were the defenders of established order and against any change. On the left sat those who wanted the popular class to have more power. In the Spanish State, this is now an archaic classification because when discussing peninsular nations, the Left wing party behaves just like el Conde Duque de Olivares (Advisor to Felipe III, who planned reforms to strengthen royal power and unify Spain). In fact, it is an insult to use the term “Liberals” to describe those who want to maintain the same imperial structure that existed 500 years ago.

But let’s move on from Spanish palaeontology to analyse our past so that we can correct our present and therefore have a prosperous future, which is usually the case when Catalans use their common sense.

Psychoaesthetics explains that a leader often behaves as if he were living at the time of the industrial revolution. He thinks his subordinates are illiterate workers living at the beginning of the 19th century. Such a leader believes he can apply the same coercive methods that were successful when subordinates had a “soldier’s” mentality. In those times, these methods may have been effective because subordinates did not have a very high intellect – and were even illiterate – and so they practically ignored the ideas of freedom discussed exclusively among the most learned. Their world was limited to the factory and their home. These historical leaders simply had to apply “brut force”, shall we say, and the instinct to preserve the governed state did the rest. No dialectic or persuasive practice was necessary for leadership. However, are today’s leaders tarred with the same brush? Honestly, this thought alone makes me laugh. We are well aware that social, intellectual and economical differences between people – leaders and people – have been reduced gradually. And furthermore, in a society such as ours, where it is pretty ridiculous to talk about social classes, anyone with good abilities and a determined attitude can obtain maximum goals without having a high-ranking family name. That appeals to everyone, doesn’t it? And that is why today’s governors are facing a public whose spirit is completely different from the resigned, antiquated reasoning that was typical of 19th century employees. On the contrary, today everybody wants to be a general, and nobody or very few accept always being a soldier. In this context, how should a leader act?

Obviously, a new concept of modern leadership must be devised. A leader must motivate people to try and obtain a very high standard of efficiency in their work, and have a good knowledge of human attitudes so as to dominate the behavioural patterns of a group of people. In other words, he must know how to distinguish the psychological background both on an individual and on a collective level. Such a leader must have three main characteristics: the capacity to express ideas, the capacity to transmit other’s sentiments and the capacity to inspire self confidence. Do the current Catalan leaders have these characteristics?

Two different rhythms

Today, thanks to technological advances, everything is faster than ever. We travel at supersonic speed and communicate instantly with one another. Everything is solved with high speed. We buy things from all over the world on the Internet and we do business from home via video-conferencing. Everything is usually solved in record time. This new lifestyle has set a new social beat, and has introduced new concepts. Consequently, slowness is frustrating and anyone who is slow is considered inept. Although this may seem extreme, it is how today’s society works.

This is precisely one of the reasons why current politicians are out of favour. We are frustrated by their lack of action, even though we may not normally consider this to be one of the causes of their discredit. They have a completely different concept of time to us. When talking about certain problems, they talk about legislatures, not years. One of our years is equal to four of theirs. Even Mr. Duran i Ventosa, quoted above, realised 80 years ago that “today speed is a normal part of all aspects of our life” , and he went on to clarify the problem now plaguing our society: “generations of people who have been educated according to an intense lifestyle, are unable to accept the slowness, and often artificialness, of modern parliamentarian practice” . Now do you begin to see why our problems are never ending?

Nobody is surprised to hear that citizens and politicians are divorced because they dance to different rhythms. While we try to solve problems diligently, politicians are the ultimate slowpokes. And it is evident that their tortoise-slow pace ties in fairly well with the secular sluggishness that is typical of State structures. May be this is why nobody wants to separate us from Spain!

Whatever the reason, in Catalonia we urgently need leaders who understand what solving problems quickly actually means, and who abandon the slow, civil service beat once and for all: As you can see, it is essential that our new male and female political leaders have had no link with the political scenario over the last 30 years of Bourbon folly, and that they have a certain degree of professional solvency. The vitality of their actions will recover the public’s confidence in public affairs.

Failed ideas

They say man is the only animal who trips over the same stone twice. May be. But some people spend their whole life tripping over the same stone again and again because they have stronger animal instincts than others. Their faces are scarred, but they behave as if they were innocent maidens. Have they looked at themselves in the mirror?

Of course, I mean those Catalans who prefer a policy of “coinciding” with Spain, including those who behave like a dog beside its master, and others who advocate State stability. In fact, all they are doing is following in the footsteps of the regionalist, conservative politician, Mr. Francesc Cambó. Their idea, and Mr. Cambó’s, is for a Big Spain. Whether we like it or not, their politics always try to make things appear as they want them to be. This is useless because, even the founder of this idea acknowledges, in his memoirs, that: “Whenever it seemed that my efforts to find a solution to the Catalan problem were going to be successful, either by standing up to issues, or by motivating the people or entities influenced by them, the wave of anti-Catalan feeling that always persists, albeit camouflaged to a greater or lesser degree, in the Castilian spirit, raised its head once more, creating an insurmountable obstacle” .

No further evidence is needed. If a politician like Cambó – in spite of his regionalist orientation – realised that it was impossible to solve our conflict within the Spanish boundaries, it seems rather irrational to try again now.

His political descendents, from communists to the most conservative thinkers, are people who are not interested in learning anything from history. They think the best approach is to continually repeat some of the ideas that time has proved to be fairly unsuccessful. They are happy to continue making mistakes. Naturally, they are paid to do so. Now can you see why nobody ever resigns?

It seems as if time has stood still. The main political parties are still aiming for a second political transition and affirm that “the rest of Spain needs to be enlightened”. In view of these attitudes, we can only draw one conclusion: either they think the people are stupid or the politicians themselves are stupid.

Whatever the answer, the consequences will always be the same. The politicians will continue trying to maintain their official salary ad infinitum, while we all pay the consequences of their nonsense. May be we should start asking ourselves why we pay them such fantastic salaries if all they do is repeat the same phrases year after year. Obviously, these are the politicians who have created a defeatist policy in all departments, and this has jeopardised Catalonia in matters such as farming and even our language. They are responsible for our people’s unfavourable opinion of public affairs, and under their leadership, Catalonia is seen as a frugal nation, without any creative spirit. In short, their politics have reduced the Catalan spirit to nothing.

However, the most dramatic result is seeing that our collective morale is completely run down, and now nobody believes that we can climb out of this confusion founded on promises of transitions and enlightening. These words are obsolete now, and their sole purpose is to maintain our politician’s positions, jobs and salaries. What would they do if we threw them out?

Let’s take a close look at their image and listen carefully to their speeches. What do we see? Any original ideas? Any new concepts, albeit small ones? A desire for change which goes far beyond their respective careers? We are not asking them to be particularly talented, just dignified. After listening to their speeches, we always have a sense of infinite mediocrity, and it is precisely this which can crush any possible efficient leadership.

Santiago Espot
Executive Chairman of Catalunya Acció

1 comment:

legatorre said...

Hi, i'm an autonomist from Lombardia (north of italy). LOMBARDIA IS NOT ITALY!!!

We hava a language, an history and a culture different from the south of italy... it doesn't exist an "italian people". With other autonomist of te north we made the
North league who is now the first party in a wide area of north: 35% where i live (bèrghem... more than 1 milion of abitants)

freedom for catalonia!

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