As Stephane Hessel, the French diplomat who wrote in his late age Be outraged, Commit I do not give up, José Antonio González Casanova was a teacher to many, intellectually honest and guided much more by the stars who loved him passionately than by the interests of the power who knew and never caught him.
Two great men on many levels who, as the result of a long history of democratic engagement, have never given up their deep appreciation for people and humanity and have turned away from sectarianism. In fact, he always said that a true humanist is the first to flee from dogmatism and the sect. Both worked with cultural and professional zeal, beyond acronyms, to the last moment, and their chosen mission was to provide tools and reflections for a useful legacy to future generations.
A few months ago he invited us to the Pati Llimona to present his book We Can’s Odyssey. At this event, in the company of ordinary people, he relaxed to speak freely about the true social democratic legacy that has got in the way of betrayed ideals and, despite his old age, appealed for the need to respond. In this book he makes a compendium of current world politics and illuminates everything that sounds like a reaction, the channeling of lost ideas and the search for utopias. Even the chapter “Moncloa is not Ithaca” does not warn of the risks of transformative neutralization that the proximity to action in power can bring with it.
For José Antonio González Casanova, overcoming the Franco regime was directly linked to the territorial issue of the state
The first chapter leaves no doubt: “The virus of global capitalism”. It unfolds an analysis of the drift of the economic system and the involution of social justice, which is imperative to know where we stand. The man who decided for years in the field of science and teaching and played a key role in influential legal texts such as the constitution and the statute of 81 was one of the few who, as the main actor in the transition, was still able to maintain what was not achieved . For him, overcoming Franquism was directly linked to the territorial question of the state. His commitment to a referendum in Catalonia, linked to this pending issue, was very clearly demanded during his appearance before the Catalan Parliament in the Xth Legislature in 2014 within the framework of the Commission for the Right to Make a Decision. Amid Chinese proverbs, a poem by Salinas and the evocation of the planet Neptune, words that made him cry with emotion to speak before the highest institution in his country, he explained that the report The consultation on the political future of Catalonia, his former student and admired Carles Viver Pi i Sunyer, opened the door to various legal channels to exercise an existing right. Literally he said: “The right to choose what we Catalans talk about, and now we are specifying, is not a metaphysical impossibility; we have the power to exercise it at least potentially, since we have said that all power is most likely the sum of power, and in principle there is no rule in a democratic constitutional state that can or should prevent this, but the pun does emerge that creates confusion. But about what? We do not know that.”
Little did the great scholar know that years later, criminal law would be the state’s answer to puns. He could not imagine that the late shadow of Franquism in the indivisible unity of the Spanish nation would turn into repression without a break or truce. That’s what he called “history always surprises us”. And yes, history surprises us, even if it is predictable, but it is also written with legacies like his. His two great passions, law and music, have helped many of us inherit this legacy.
I remember when I was a student at the Joan Boscà Institute, with the help of Fernando Casal Novoa, professor of art history who implanted so much in all of us, Dr. González came to tell us about the power of light. Mahler’s music. On that day, all students understood that music can strive for infinity, beauty and revolution. And years later we in parliament called together Mahler to justify the light of democracy.
With Itziar González, her daughter, the legacy of true social democratic engagement became even clearer when she was confronted with systemic corruption.
A man who loved the light died and he helped some of us move on, as Llach says, by loving the stars.