El Español -a new online media outlet that will launch in Spain in the autumn- opened its blog last Saturday. In two days, its crowdfunding platform has received around €370,000 from almost 500 people, who have now become shareholders.
And here you have us, to be able to keep chasing whales the harpoon thrower has had to turn into a ship owner. That is what it takes when the biggest ships, controlled by those wishing to conserve power, hug the coastline carefully to maintain a semblance of activity, but set course to starboard as soon as the slightest glimmer of white sperm whale appears in the distance. Be careful with those stories, better not to bump into them. That’s how it goes, it hurts us and you all know it.
There is no more eloquent symbol of society’s gangrene than its level of concentration of power in a voracious political, economic and media Leviathan, ruled by the principle of mutual aid. Government is put at the service of a few, democracy turns into oligarchy, the public is drugged and the dissident drowned. This is the (Spanish regional) State monster that has advanced geometrically in Spain, pushing those citizens who don’t sponge off others further and further into a corner. This is, make no mistake, the political root of an economic crisis that has ruined millions of Spaniards and impoverished almost all the others.
But if the tragedy that surrounds us is great and made greater still by the coercion justice is subject to, the self-censorship that inoculates the press, and the resulting illusion of a recovery compatible with the perpetuation of the vices of the system, the determination with which the founders of EL ESPAÑOL are ready to row against the tide is emphatic.
There is neither ingenuity nor bitterness in our effort. We will be born “of rage and hope”, that very “Spanish couple” who, as Ortega said, gave birth, exactly 100 years ago, to his first media creature: the magazine called “España”. It makes one shudder to read again the recurrent validity of his founding diagnosis in January 1915: “The radical discredit of all of the apparatus of public life is the sovereign fact, the maximum fact, that wraps itself around our daily existence. We all feel that that official Spain within which or under which we live is not our Spain, but a Spain of hallucination and ineptitude”.
Even the word regeneration must today be regenerated. The new Head of State used it in his spirited first Christmas speech, without offering any clarification at all on the reasons behind his father’s abdication or the consequences of his sister’s legal situation. It will, rightly, be said that the King does not govern even his closest relatives, but we see a revealing sample of the Lampedusian secretion that “official Spain” is capable of, seeming to believe a tidying up of the façade will be enough—with a tall, young, handsome King or an equally tall, young, handsome leader of the opposition—for the “real Spain” to feel at home once more.
Nut grass in the gulf, as Torrente Ballester said. Pigs might fly. As I explained on December 18 in the Ateneo, laying the foundations on which the editorial line of EL ESPAÑOL will be built, we must “change the rules of the game so that citizens regain control of their destiny”. Some might allege they never had such control, but that was at least the gospel preached by Suárez during the Transition: the street should rule the offices, not the offices the street; those represented must mark the time their representatives march to, not the other way round. That was the course we were on until the political class began to build a wall with the arrogance of every endogamous line and the lack of scruples of every insatiable usurper.
Although they might have devastated our fields and cities, those politicians have not befallen us like a plague of locusts born of inscrutable design. They are not the handiwork of fate but of necessity. With an electoral law, a party financing law and a judicial power law like the ones we have, something like this had to happen sooner or later. If someone wants to hoist the flags of regeneration with some credibility, he can start with those three.
The well-founded degree to which citizens are fed up with the corruption, selfishness and ineptitude of a political class selected from the worst and most docile has reached such an extreme that either we change Spain from within the parameters of freedom or it will be changed for us by a new despotism. Neither the resistance to change that governs us submerged in chloroform, nor any of the make up being readied as a solution to the emergency, are enough to bind together a social majority, much less mobilise one. Change must run deep, be substantial and be immediately palpable. Only an energetic, stunning programme of reforms, including those mentioned, could be seen as a convincing alternative faced with the revolutionary siren songs chanting equality from below that we can all now hear in crescendo.
Our aim is to contribute to the revival and growth of a third Spain, in the dynamic between the guardians of the system and the anti-system forces, based on merit, effort and culture, and supported by the expansion of citizens’ rights. Without such a new actor, the landscape of our public life will again turn into what Penagos had Don Quixote say, in his magnificent cartoon published in the second edition of Ortega’s magazine, concerning the Great War: “Can you see, Sancho, my friend, those two big clouds of dust that appear to be enemy armies? Well, in reality, they are two flocks of sheep”.
There is nothing more dangerous for a society than that acritical, accepting conformism with which sheep follow their shepherd, because in some circumstances—and that generation suffered real tragedy–the fury of armies is easily forged given the docility of the flock. Faced with the aim of keeping “those above” bewildered in a fold of fear and threatening to herd “those below” into a fold of resentment, faced with the separatist aim of making the most of the dust cloud of crisis to fence a new flock off to the side, where even bleating is controlled, we must urgently strengthen a Nation of citizens, based on the empire of the law, individual rights, solidarity and social protection.
It will not be in our hands to supply the political instruments that make this democratic rebirth possible, but we will contribute to creating the social climate that allows them to be forged. Our newspaper will be universal in its scope and sensitivity, but it will be called EL ESPAÑOL because it will interpret reality from the point of view of that so frequently perplexed man in the street who watches a procession of interested protectors pass him by, just so long as he agrees to conflict due to his condition as a Catalan, Basque or Andalusian, or his ascription to one party or another, and then finds himself defenceless when abused as a taxpayer, a consumer, a user of public services, a pensioner or a fooled voter.
Our newspaper will be called EL ESPAÑOL because it defends those Spaniards, one by one, as collective owners of their sovereignty. Not from a miserly nationalist perspective but rather in a national, European, cosmopolitan sense, tolerant of dissidence and welcoming diversity, but belligerent in the face of those who use that excuse to foment fanatical integrism like that which machine-gunned our brothers at Charlie Hebdo. Democracy must not be stupid, and only the Spanish Nation, constituted as a State within a strong European Union, can guarantee our rights.
El ESPAÑOL will give citizens all the information the powerful lock away under seven keys, and all of the interpretations, explanations and opinions that help them to decide within the law. We want to publish a useful newspaper in every sense of the word and that is why we will use the most innovative formats on the mobile devices carried by Spaniards in their daily lives.
This text is not yet a foundational manifesto but rather a declaration of intent, a prospectus like the ones printed before the birth of new publications in the 19th gestation, nine months will pass before the birth, but this blog will reveal, with its weekly ultrasound scans, the genesis of our creature.
And I say ours because I suggest to you that EL ESPAÑOL be a collective work that defends the best of the journalism of the past to grow on all of the media of the future, making the most of the tools of participation and dialogue already offered by technology. That is why we proclaim ourselves the successors of El ESPAÑOL founded by Blanco White in London, Andrés Borrego’s innovative “El Español”, in which Larra published his best articles, of “El Español” that supported the liberal Maura, of the libertarian Bonafoux’s “El Español”—not for nothing was he christened “the viper of Asnieres”—and of the magazine España edited first by Ortega and then by the socialist Araquistain and the republican Azaña. And that is why we call on all of those citizens with similar interests to our own to join our project.
Join us as shareholders and subscribers, taking part until February 28 in the share issue underway, with the same conditions as the founders. Our publishing company has enough resources to guarantee its continuity, just as I have invested the totality of the compensation I received after being sacked as the editor of my previous newspaper. But the greater the social foundation of this project, the greater our chances will be of resisting any pressure.
Join us too with your suggestions, ideas and professional skills. Small investors will be very welcome, but the creativity and talent of those who cannot contribute otherwise will be no less so. That is why we opened four inboxes for suggestions, and a fifth for CVs. We are looking for the best reporters, writers, specialist analysts, illustrators or video-journalists from a new generation so that “federated along one keel”—that is how Melville saw the crew of a whaler—“each man isolated lives on his own continent”.
I am talking to you, and you and you, anywhere you might be. The horn is blowing in the depth of the forest, the whistle on the dock of the port. Board before we set sail, join the beginning of the adventure. Let us give life to EL ESPAÑOL, let us change Spain.
Translation: Matthew Bennett (gracias)
Reed the original version of this article (Spanish)