From A World to Win News Service
April 21, 2014 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
April 14, 2014. A World to Win News Service. A Spanish high court sentenced the 25-year-old rapper “Pablo Hasél” (Pablo Rivadulla Duro) to two years in prison for “glorifying terrorism” on April 1. Several years ago, this “anti-system rapper,” as he calls himself, declared, “If they put me in prison, that will prove I’m right”—right that almost 40 years after the end of the fascist regime of Francisco Franco, despite economic, social and political changes, the Spanish state is still the enemy of the majority of Spanish people and the people of the world and “the critical spirit.”
Hasél was arrested in November 2011, during a time of upsurge in the country’s streets, when the police raided his home in the night and confiscated his digital devices, papers and books as evidence. At his trial before the high court for political cases, the judge ruled that the only question was whether or not Hasél was the author of the dozens of videos uploaded on YouTube and elsewhere on the Net. Since Hasél unhesitatingly stated that he was, the conviction was all but automatic. Hasél argued that he had the right to freedom of speech, but the judge ruled that while that freedom exists in Spain for some speech, Hasél’s rap constitutes “hate speech,” prohibited by law, and further, that “terrorism is the worst violation of human rights,” so no one has the right to defend it. (El País, April 1, 2014)
This is the standard legal double-talk that is the hallmark of the Spanish state: “terrorism” is an affront to “democracy” so those accused of it have no rights, those who defend those accused of it have no rights, those who argue for those people’s rights are “apologists for terrorists” and so on in a widening spiral. But in sentencing an artist to prison for nothing but his words, this is a further step in demonstrating the truth of his words, that in capitalist countries “freedom of expression is nothing but freedom to lie or shut up, and like democracy, freedom of expression is one of history’s greatest swindles.”
What does it mean, Hasél says, to talk about freedom in a country where six million people have been robbed of their jobs, half a million people have been kicked out of their homes, “and if you protest you get beaten or killed?” One of his videos shows him in a June 2011 march of “Los Indignados” (The Outraged) in Valencia. The police attacked it viciously, as they did protests in other cities in Spain in those months. They sought not just to stop it but also to break the heads, faces and arms of as many young women and men as possible, as the footage clearly and indisputably shows. Another rap video, El Reino de LosTorturadores” (The Kingdom of Torturers), features the battered and crushed faces and bodies of young women and men arrested at mass demonstrations defending Basque nationalist “terrorists” and then beaten and tortured while in custody—in the name of defending “democracy.”
How can Hasél be convicted of “hate speech” and being a threat to “democracy” when Franco-era torturers are considered respectable citizens, protected from arrest by law, even when clearly identified by their victims; Franco regime political figures are still prominent in public life; the main monument to fascism is untouched and untouchable; and it is perfectly legal and respectable to publicly praise Franco and seek to continue his work?
Franco came to power through a military uprising against an elected government in 1936 and an exterminating civil war, with the backing of Nazi Germany and Mussolini’s Italy, and the complicity of all the Western powers. His regime, which today could be called a Catholic jihad in its religious zeal and enforced cultural purity, targeted secular forces and workers and laborers, imprisoned all known opponents and executed many thousands. As was recently revealed, it stole thousands of babies from their mothers to ensure that they would have a proper conservative Catholic upbringing. Despite Franco’s alliance with the defeated Axis powers in World War 2, his regime survived by becoming a key American ally afterwards. Why today is it allowed to praise Franco but not groups that fought his regime? How can the upholders of the Spanish state accuse anyone else of “hate speech”? In fact, how can they label the political violence of their opponents as terrorism when they murdered people and broke lives on a vast scale for their political ends?
Perhaps Hasél’s greatest “crime”—and his greatest merit—is that since his 2005 breakthrough album, “Eso No Es Paraiso” (This Isn’t Heaven), he raps about Spain as still a capitalist dictatorship. He says that brutal repression on the one hand, and elections and illusions about “freedom of expression”, the post-Franco regime’s supposedly greatest achievements on the other, are two sides of the same coin, and combine with a media-cultivated “dictatorship of stupidity” that encourages a “Stockholm syndrome” where the masses of people identify with the capitalist system that exploits and oppresses them. He is very clear that not only is the currently-governing Popular Party the political successor party to the fascist regime, but that the Socialist Party “is worse or at least as bad”, and that the parliamentary “left” is just a tail on the Socialists.
The Socialists [Partido Socialista Obrero Español] (Hasél spells the party’s initials P$OE) made it possible for the Spanish ruling class to switch over from a fascist to a bourgeois democratic (electoral) form of rule almost painlessly, by protecting the continuity of persons and institutions and the bulk of the state apparatus, and agreeing to what some people call “the law of silence” protecting fascist personalities from legal consequences for their terrorist rule. The mass graves were kept secret and the killers given new jobs or allowed to keep up their work.
The Spanish Socialists led its own terrorist campaign against Basque nationalists when they came to govern. In the “dirty war,” Spanish death squads in France assassinated exiled Basque nationalists, ordinary Basques and French and other revolutionaries and bombed taverns and other public places. Neither ruling party has a right to call anyone else terrorists.
As a Socialist Party MP shamelessly explained in commenting on a new case where the courts refused to hear the complaints of a former student activist against the official who tortured him in 1975, “I just don’t think it would be good for the country. We don’t know where it starts and where it finishes. If we take someone who was a torturer in 1970, why aren’t we going to go after some ministers in Franco’s government who are still alive? Why not the courts? Where do we set the limits?” (The New York Times, April 6, 2014). Yes—what if we went after the same courts once led by Franco that have now sentenced a young rapper to prison? Might that not imperil the repressive efficiency and legitimacy of the state itself?
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