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How academic blogs sought a technocratic coup in Spain

Three years earlier I did not write regularly on internet, I only wrote books and papers and I would never have thought about carrying a blog. However, during the 2012 I started to post commentaries in two academic blogs to discuss their points of view about Spanish politics and the role played by the scholars in a democracy and I have finished in an open controversy with Spanish mainstream economists and political scientists. The main reason of this succession of events is easy to understand: they had a political agenda devoted to promote among public medias the idea of a technocratic government led by themselves. This is the summary of how their coup failed.

At end of 2011, the conservative party PP had a landslide victory that gave them the absolute majority in the Parliament. In the previous months, two academic blogs, Politikon and NadaesGratis, praised its leader, Mariano Rajoy, while blamed the protests of 15M for being a populist movement against the parliamentary democracy. They had high hopes of deserving important appointments in the government or, at least, having a decisive influence. Nevertheless, things started to go wrong. The PP did not reach a great result in the autonomous elections of Andalusia in March of 2012 and the bankruptcy of Bankia was not possible to cover for more time. Although the political scientist Jorge Galindo of Politikon was licking the ass of Mariano Rajoy a few days before the bail out of Bankia, it was clear that Spain faced great problems and the European Union would be fundamental to solve them.

In this situation, the most prominent members of Nada es Gratis wrote in El País a famous article against the policies of the Government. It was a radical shift in their public compromise and the beginning of a public campaign in favour of the political regeneration of the country. They used their academic authority to present themselves as the neutral technical solution to our problems. If the popular protests of 15 M were claiming for more democracy, they proposed more reforms dictated by the IMF, more market and less democracy. When these things were happening, we could see what was behind their arguments and which were their real intentions. Now, we know that the Professor Luis Garicano of the LSE, met with Mariano Rajoy these days and tried to convince him to demand the intervention of the troika in Spain and the formation of a technocratic government supported by two big parties, the PSOE and PP. Obviously, Garicano should have been minister.

It would have been an action similar to the Monti solution for Italy or Papademos for Greece, although there was a huge difference: in Spain this government would have had more than three years to apply its policies. Three years without democratic controls in the parliament and three years to save the political system of the threat of a real democratic reform from bottom up. They tried it hard, they had the support of important medias and they tried to talk in the name of the all academia, but Mariano Rajoy did not want to share the power with outsiders of the party. He did not need the approval of the PSOE, he had all the power and giving positions to these new comers would have meant less pieces of cake for the loyal members of his criminal organization (yes, the PP is a criminal organization. The funny point is that the technocrats who called us peronistas for saying this, now state the same).

Thanks to the arrogance and self sufficiency of Mariano Rajoy, the modest proposal of the technocrats failed, but they went on promoting their political plan for Spain. It was during this campaign that I started to take part in the internet debates and when I realized that, if it was necessary, they did not have doubts to use the censorship or to bully the critics. They said that the reason was the irrationality of the arguments used by common people, but when other scholars started to debunk their argument, they also used the same bully technics and censorship. Some one might say that it was the same of the debates between the economists in USA, but here the colleagues of Nada es Gratis used the anonymity to insult the economists who did not share their points of view. A healthy public debate.

However, their attempts to drive the politics of the country from their independent blogs were overruled by the irruption of the party Podemos. After the entrance of Podemos, the technocratic plan made not sense. The threat of the democracy (sorry, populism, because all democracy that is not narrowed by liberal creed is always populism) force the technocratic regenerationism to defend again the political system. Then, in a new shift they praised our new King, Felipe VIth, as salvator of the country and the beginning of the regeneration movement. In a bizarre way, they stated that it had been validated scientifically that the monarchy was the best option to Spain. That it is not a joke, it was their Science.

The good new is that after the coronation of Felipe VIth they had no more options that finally being involved in politics. They became the think tank of the center right party UPyD but, in the end, they have joined the liberal right party Ciudadanos, whose program is the IMF recommendations. At least, we can say that in Spain IMF runs for elections and they try to have a democratic legitimacy. It makes the Spanish case very interesting and even an anomaly. After their failed coup, the technocrats have become politicians and their pretentions of narrowing the democratic space of the public debate in the name of the science that they represent as scholars is now a nonsense, because they are simply politicians.


Carles Sirera Miralles (València, 1981) is a Spanish historian and adjunct professor in the University of Valencia. His principal lines of research focused on the problems of the democratization in Europe, especially during the end of Nineteenth Century and the beginnings of the Twentieth Century. As social historian, he has wrote about the sports and sociability and his thesis, Un título para las clases medias, is one of the most completed and relevant studies on the subject of the secondary school in Spain. His intellectual influences are the Alltagsgeschichte school, Norbert Elias, Fritz K. Ringer and all historians who, although the limitations of our discipline, think that is possible reach some kind of valid, useful and interesting knowledge.