Artur Mas & Fukuyama

Several mediocre foreign writers make a reasonably good living here by providing cosmopolitan validation for the fears and superstitions of the Catalanista rabble. Artur Mas, heir to Jordi Pujol’s Catalanista crown, goes one better in this morning’s Retaguardia and cites Francis Fukuyama, a foreigner everyone’s heard of, to support the decline-and-fall picture he paints of Catalonia in the period since he lost the regional elections:

The worst of the situation is that Catalonia does not generate economic trust. In his book, Trust, Francis Fukuyama maintains the thesis that today countries progress not by the classic factors of production (land, labour, capital…) but by trust generated in the political and social spheres. He classifies countries by levels of trust, giving high grades to Anglo-Saxon and Scandinavian countries and lower ones to the Latins.

For years, Catalonia was a space that generated great doses of trust. Speaking with Catalan and foreign employers, all agree that a year and a half of tripartite government has meant a considerable fall for this country in Fukuyama’s classification.

Quoting Fukuyama may be a dangerous pursuit, but Mas–or whoever writes his pieces–either hasn’t read the book or is out to mislead. The problem with the word confianza is that it serves as a translation both for “trust” and for “confidence”, and I think this is where Mr Mas’ confusion arises. There is a case to be made for business confidence in Catalonia having fallen since the regional or the national elections, but the nature of society has not changed, and that’s what interests Fukuyama (“Trust … is the product of preexisting communities of shared moral norms or values” etc).

Paraphrasing: in Catalonia–as in central Italy, which, unlike Catalonia, Fukuyama does actually discuss–family bonds still prevail over non-kin bonds, and associations in the space between the family and the state are still few and weak. Private sector firms are still relatively small and family controlled, and the state still supports larger enterprises to ensure their viability.

The tragedy of the transition from Pujol to Maragall is not of a descent in levels of trust but that, constrained by the economic atavism of the left and the desire of Esquerra Republicana to gorge on conservative CiU voters, nothing has been done to remove the institutional obstacles–many put in place by CiU–to a more open, trusting society. En la confiança està el perill, as the proverb still has it.

Lo peor de la situación es que Catalunya no dé confianza económica. En su libro Trust, Francis Fukuyama sostiene la tesis de que, hoy, los países progresan no por los factores clásicos de producción (tierra, trabajo, capital…), sino por la confianza que se genera en el ámbito político y social. Clasifica, así, los países por el nivel de confianza y pone en lo más alto los países anglosajones o escandinavos, y los latinos abajo.

Durante años, Catalunya era un espacio que generaba grandes dosis de confianza. Hablando con empresarios, catalanes y extranjeros, todo el mundo está de acuerdo que un año y medio de Gobierno tripartito ha supuesto que el país descienda considerablemente en la clasificación de Fukuyama.

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