As the working man and woman continues to reel from the pandemic with no end in sight, the same virus meant to be quelled in 15 days (and then 45, and then never at all) without the aid of a mask at one point (and then it was necessary, and then it was two until 2022), one is left reminiscing on the days of yore when the ‘rules for thee and not for me’ socio-political motif was able to be cast aside for a non-homebound distraction. But alas, like all ‘good’ things, this too passed and its alternative has not only brought about the puerile roars of a generation with too much time on their hands [i.e., American ‘Generation Z’ a.k.a. ‘Bored Generation’], but a recalcitrant attitude towards fact and an all-embracing amiability towards comforting fallaciousness built from ‘relatable’ infrastructure designed to not mature but shield the psyche from fictional assailants left, right, and center [‘I suffered PTSD from an election’ a.k.a. ‘Fragile Generation’]. So, while the ‘woke’ culture-club in America is furiously identifying syllogistic hate-speech [read ‘An Exercise in the Art of Being Wrong’ for an antidote], demolishing supposed ‘threats’ [not even European art is safe], and solving crimes against ideological sensibilities in content from Mr. Potato Head [no joke], Dr. Seuss [again, not a joke], and even math itself [still not a joke], there is another group of young men and women fighting a much greater threat.
A dangerous enemy whose impact grossly outweighs the ‘courageous’ endeavors of derailing against immutable characteristics while garnishing public praise in the process, or socially-pressured, self-flagellation at the drop of the leaden, groupthink hat. While American youth are busy expunging perceived ills from historical past and present with little to no thought of their own paradoxicality [read ‘The Fall of Cambridge University’], shaming authors [No.1 example being J. K. Rowling], actors [Chris Pratt and his Conservative beliefs], and hardworking individuals [e.g., Adam Smith (shamed for protesting), Maria Tusken (shamed for being excited about traveling to India) ], there is an ever-expanding movement of youth upset with being blamed for societal-ills caused by a malignant, parliamentary monarchy looking for excuses but no real change. What country am I referring to? Spain, a ‘developed’ EU member-state with not only the second-lowest rate of unemployment [13.02%], but a corrupt absolute monarchy whose former leader, King Juan Carlos, the ‘people’s King,’ with panic fled [Abu Dhabi] when his scandalous financial affairs [recent update by Reuters about Carlos’s attempt at avoiding jail-time] became unavoidably public. Further, this is a country where freedom of speech is a pauper’s dream [Rapper Voltonyc (jailed for ‘glorifying terrorism’), pernicious Article 578], candidly considered ‘the worst country in Europe’ for its depreciating GDP [fell almost 10% in 2020] and governmental inability to handle the COVID-19 pandemic [Vaccination plan undecided, and week of Feb.12th seeing an 11.35% rise in deaths]. This is not even taking into consideration the deep-seeded contention surrounding the Catalan Independence movement [led by the Popular Unity Candidacy, CUP], it’s separitist [but ‘peaceful’] orientation gestating a ‘nationalist counter-mobilization’ in turn [rise of parties like Vox, Far-Right, Popular Party, Conservative Right, United We Can, Podemos, Socialist Left, PSOE, Spanish Socialist Workers Party].
In a succinct fashion, Global Risk Insights Robert Ledger appraised Sprain’s problematic governmental affairs in three points, namely 1) Impressive growth / stubborn unemployment: with almost non-stop GDP growth since 2014, one would think it would trickle into job opportunities, but sadly no. Employment peaked in 2013 and has only steadily fallen, in 2020 alone nearly 630,000 jobs were lost [16.1% unemployment rate]. 2) Corruption allegations circle the Moncloa Palace: Mariano Rajoy, in 2017, became the first Spanish PM to testify in court over governmental sins, The Gürtel Case having been the straw which broke the camel’s back and further contributed to the declining faith of the people in its government [‘Governmental Integrity’ in 2019 clocking 51.9%, while ‘Judicial Effectiveness’ was a shameful 51.4%]. Finally, 3) Independence referendum in Catalonia: Organized by pro-Catalan leaders in 2017, met in-turn with egregious police brutality and considered ‘illegal’ by the Spanish Supreme Court, this symbolic gesture of ‘We are not Spain’s vassal” showed once and for all that the Spanish autocracy cares not for its people. If only to punctuate Ledger’s point further, Spain’s controversially passed Celaá Law, an educational reform whose sole aim is to make education more egalitarian, has only showcased how manipulative and ravenous Spain’s PSOE party is to develop, in true Soviet fashion, a state-first/freedom-second modality in all areas of Spanish society. For example, mandating classroom language [the Castilian language to promote ‘Catalonia’s ‘linguistic immersion’], reducing academic levels of quality [If a student needs to repeat a grade a second-time, they move on anyways], governmentally-mandated curriculum content [“improper secularism”], and worst of all, lack of education quality/locality freedom [the stripping of state-funding from ‘concertada’ schools’ and special-education schools for a more ‘inclusive’ public option]. In the words of one exacerbated individual, “The state is already exceeding its functions. Spain is already a totalitarian state.” Indeed it is, and as the recent events with rapper Pablo Hasel show, the Spanish government has no interest in fixing the issues at hand, but simply covering them up with a do-nothing-but-harm bandage.
What’s Going On?
Last week, on February 16th, 2021, in the country with a freedom rating of 92/100, controversially outspoken governmental conscious-rapper Pablo Hasel was finally arrested in an unapologetic display of revolutionary indignation, having barricaded himself in University of Lleida along with 50 devoted supporters. Shouting as he was hauled away by masked ‘Mossos,’ "they will never silence us; death to the fascist state,” Hasel cemented himself finally as the necessary social-political spark for a generation of youth sick and tired of being considered the cause of COVID flair-ups, supplied with improper educational and job infrastructure, and continuously bastardized by media propaganda for daring to question and reproach a tyrannical government hellbent on becoming a pseudo-Fascist state through party politics. Pablo’s arrest on the 16th was only the natural development of an almost 7-year long [more like career-long] dispute with pro-censorial governmental forces, in 2014 being handed a two-year, suspended prison sentence for terror-threats, monarchical ‘hurt feelings,’ and ‘extremist group’ support. However, they were not done and in 2018, Pablo was served another term, now 9-months [and $30,000 fine] for alleged infractions via tweets from the years 2014-2016, a gross violation and unremorseful betrayal of The EU ‘Freedom of Expression’ law [Title II, Article 11]. His sentence was again conditionally suspended in 2019 under the rule of no infractions for a period of three years following. This was not to be and thus Pablo, the artistic translator of sociopolitical unrest into sonic-bullets, has now officially become a counter-hegemonic figurehead for a generation of youth unrelenting in their pursuit of universal freedom no matter what the cost it takes to get there.
However, it is not just revolutionary tweets the dogmatic government despised from Pablo, but his music and textual content which openly criticize the Spanish establishment and the overt, magisterial venality enveloping all areas of the Spanish royal bloodline. His entire musical corpus is directed towards raising awareness of the abuses of the ‘unofficial’ but clearly present, Francoist-resurgence and broken authoritative machine through songs like ‘Juan Carlos the Idiot,’ a Spanish-reggae chide of the nearly 40 year, defamed King, ‘Death to The Bourbons,’ a confident, synth-beat castigation against the nearly eight, consecutive-century dogmatism of one family and its tyranny, and most recently, ‘Not even Felipe VI,’ an orchestrally haunting ballad aimed at the current King, song of the deposed ruler, Felip VI whose ‘progressive government’ has run afoul, “Sons of Franco, condemning people for being frank.’ His published tweets, in comparison, are just as excoriating and justly abrasive, if not more so, recent posts supporting that fact, i.e., Feb. 13th, “Another criminal torturer who runs away and well paid for his services rendered to the terrorist state that has protected him to the end. Progressivism, they call it,” referencing the death of Former Civil Guard General Rodríguez Galindo, Feb. 9th, “Enemies of the people, there will be no forgiveness or forgetfulness, you will pay for it,” and Feb. 7th, “Threatening the death of independentistas with a firearm is the freedom that the Nazi-onal audience likes,” referencing the far-right Vox group’s unofficial gun-show performance for the ‘Nazional Police.’ Once Pablo was in custody, protests instantly began that night, reporting from The BBC recording cross-country protesting in numbers no less than 9,000 strong with a [mostly] uniformed message of ‘You have taught us that being peaceful is useless,’ a banner seen on Feb. 21st protests stationed in-front of police vans in Barcelona.
What Pablo’s arrest marks is the beginning of a violent passage in Spanish, and certainly global, expressionary history about the the choice path forward for a country and it’s outdated, archaic form of monarchial government with a brutal inability to define its judicial principles or uphold universal, human rights of any kind, despite it’s stated commitment to ‘widening and improving the protection of freedom of expression,’ as stated by PM Pedro Sánchez. The public excuse to forestall actual expressionary independence is that, “there is no place whatsoever for any kind of violence,” but take note on the vagueness of this statement as compared to the words of an anonymous Spanish judge, the who one actually hears and serves the sentences to which Spain’s despots bureaucratically dish out, “I think that is absolutely disproportionate. We are putting it [rap lyrics] at the same level as stabbing someone.” Along these lines, many acts seen as ‘glorification of terrorism’ to which the Spanish tyrannts so acutely attach themselves are nothing more than [in any other ‘free’ country] acts of polititcal freedom by Spain’s young generation in a country ostensibly free, having techincally an 8.12 on the 2021 Human Freedom Index. This ‘Gag Law,’ [Citizens Security Law] and its ability to ban protesting, evict without cause, prohibit police photography, and [actually] cancel expressionary liberation on dense charges [now ostensibly ‘reformed’], with its milder, judicial variant invoking a ‘deterrent effect,’ [meaning self-censorship] is only one of many primary causes of the now released deep-seeded indignation and profound pushback in the wake of Pablo’s arrest. As Laura [student] had told Spanish political newspaper El País, a state-funded publication, “We came to the protest, but Hasél is just another excuse,” this clearly signifies Pablo’s role as less a figure-head and more of a reactionary spark to a greater, more pressing problem, “We are protesting against evictions, in defense of people without protection, for the years of repression that we have had to endure. The jailing [of Hasél] was just the straw that broke the camel’s back.” WSWS’s Alejandro López recorded the many, young voices taken by publications of all kind in the events following the arrests and protests, Reis stating for Reuters his reason for protesting was less for Hasel and more for ‘the right to express ourselves,’ while Anthony recognized the vast disparity between right and left treatment, “There are jailed political prisoners, activists, rappers. On the other hand, nobody says anything about the ex-military men,” whose claims of wanting to shoot people are left politically unchecked.
Despite WSWS’s Socialist orientation, Lopez makes a point worth remembering as these youth protests become louder and louder within Spain and hopefully elsewhere throughout the world, namely “Students and young workers must assimilate the lessons of the past,” a cogitational strain shared by Philosophers [i.e., George Santayana, THE LIFE OF REASON (1905-6)] Academics [i.e., Friedrich Nietzsche, On The Use and Abuse of HIstory (1874)], and Revolutionaries [Karl Marx, ‘The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Napoleon’ (1851-1852)] alike. Further, even within the Spanish artistic community do such thoughts permeate its creational membrane, another high-level rapper, Valtònnyc, just today on March 1st from Belgium where he has been ‘exiled’ for 10 years [since the age of 18], published an article with The Guardian candidly portraying the failing sociopolitical structure within Spain, however clarifying in the process that the immense firestorm was not so much about freedom of expression, but freedom of ideology. He wrote, “There are people in Spain who talk about how it is OK to kill women...And we haven’t done the same work to deal with our past that they have done in Germany or Italy...Spain’s current government has talked about abolishing the “gag law...But they haven’t done anything about it.” In his recent self-exposition, he aptly defines the insidious second illness of ‘self-censorship’ not only rife within Spain and its ‘Big Brother’ structure, but likewise in America, China, Canada, and most ‘developed’ countries where political factionalism is becoming the normative, default behaviour for citizens of almost any age. “In Spain, some rappers have started to censor themselves because they don’t want to go to jail” is an undisclosed truth about modern rap culture in most, let’s say for sake of political argumentation, 21/2 world countries [e.g., Russia, Spain, Brazil] where rap is still seen as a plague on the youth of their respective localities bringing in their wake nothing but unnecessary strife for officials and suggestive, downright ‘malicious,’ brain-obesity [Soviet Musicological term] for developing minds. In the comment section of Pablo Hasel’s song ‘Death to The Bourbons,’ one, ostensibly young, user had written [in Spanish], “I was going to comment on something. But I'm in 2018 and I don't want to go to jail,” and although quite possibly a joke, it speaks to a grave issue with the Spanish cultural mindset. The youth of Spain are not being taught to work with the government for a brighter future, but rather to fear the government for a ruinous future, where schools are indoctrination stations, radio and media are simply Orwellian doublethink machines, and individual personhood, once thought owned, has now turned into state-owned property ready to be crafted into ‘The New [Spanish] Man.’
So, nearly two weeks after the initial protest of Hasel’s arrest and following few quiet evenings in the past couple days, protests bordering on riots are now fueling anger campaigns in Barcelona, reporting done by Olive Press’s Glenn Wickmann totals the attendance at nearly 4,000. However, these protests, just like our American BLM ‘protests’ quickly turned into mass rioting, seeing large groups gathering under slogans like ‘Fight, Create Popular Power’ and ‘Until they fall. Nothing to lose. Everything to gain,’ are the indications of the presence of youth in Barcelona who refuse to pipe down despite arrests now reaching over 110+ since the 28th of February. Wickmann noted, through graphic imagery, the carnage of these riots, for example broken store-front windows, open fires ablaze, vandalism with Antifa insignia’s messily spray painted on cars, and looted shops with merchandise strewn about. As bad as these are [Rioting is to be condemned...cough cough President Biden] the PM has no one to blame but himself and his corrupted, political infrastructure. The group responsible for Sunday’s violence [Feb. 28th] was alleged to be a group of 150-300 protestors who, in a poor choice of words by WKZO’s Joan Faus, ‘had no apparent reason,’ but it doesn’t take a fully integrated Spaniard to comprehend why they felt it was necessary. To add fuel to the counterproductive fire, pun intended, Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez made a obnoxious, Twitter post condemning the violence and rioting stating, “The acts of vandalism and violence that Barcelona is suffering tonight are unacceptable,” finishing with a ‘heartfelt’ sign of solidarity for the forces which are part of the Fascist problem itself, “All our support to the Guardia Urbana, Mossos and Police officers.” One responder summed up my own contentions perfectly stating, “Condemn, condemn, but this is the fruit of your work,” while another commenter referenced the PM’s absolute idiocy surrounding his treatment of COVID, “Go laugh and thank your colleague the vice pandemic. What damage you are doing to this country,” a responder to the comment instilling some hope, “They will end up in jail. Make no mistake about it.” The Spanish government has somehow concluded foreigners were intermixed with the rioting on Sunday, despite little to no evidence to support these fallacious claims, Faus reporting that, “the exact role of the foreigners was unclear,” an ironic punctuation on a ‘pandemic’ all of the government’s own creation.
But the highlight of the event was indeed the multi-vehicle police van conflagration committed by ‘hooded rioters’ throwing Molotov cocktails, all causing mass panic and political upheaval at the sight of young Spaniards finally deciding what their fate will look like and in what ways it will get done. Of course, violence is never the answer for a long-term solution, although Lenin would vehemently disagree as terrorism was seen as bringing ‘work to the masses’ (Revolutionary Adventurism, Iskra No.23, 1902), but one must admit that the violence ensuing in the wake of Pablo’s arrest is a causal reaction to an antecedent series of events which have only compiled and compiled without any alleviation from either side, one musician who was in attendance at the Sunday riots being prompted to say, “Pablo's case just shows that we live in a fascist state.” So while today’s scheduled events on March 1st, a high-tension meeting between the Catalan government and ‘affected’ local councils, is sure to drum up some sort of ‘solution,’ the quality of the finalized result remains dubiously unknown, further Catalan Independence opposition and Parliamentary retaliation remain always present [Roger Torrent allowed a vote of Catalan self-determination in 2019 and now is facing criminal charges via Catalan News] along with the occasional sport’s stadium debt troubles [via GPB]. Nothing ever changes quickly in the realm of politics unless those affected make it change quickly by force one way or another. What we are seeing is rap music censorship serving as a catalyst to a national, dare I say global, crisis far deadlier than COVID-19 and more seditious than any rap song ever could be or downright is as, just like Valtonnyc cynically says, ‘it’s just fiction.’ What, then, are you so afraid of Felip VI, Pedro Sanchez, Juan Carlos? Not a song surely? The big bad wolf shouldn’t be afraid of a sheep right?
In the words of Pablo Hasel himself….
There is no great fortune without crime, since they all come from exploitation or plunder. Spain is a hoax for the bourgeoisie to rule. A State that denies the right to self-determination of the peoples cannot be called democratic. Even if it was only that. The exemplary referents remain forever, the traitors who spend them on the left but live at the cost of playing the game to the system will be the pasture for the implacable judgment of the people, of history. - Anti-capitalist agitation: Pablo Hasel
Just for kickers, here is a Prager University video about how
Socialism in effect destroyed Brazil, Enjoy! [Click here]
PC: [All were taken by news publications and are not mine. I do not own these photos]