In English Voices From Spain

You don’t understand it

Published originally in Spanish. Rafael Latorre. El Mundo.

“You don’t understand it”, they object to the jurist, to the economist, to the reporter. “You don’t understand it!”, yells both the teenager and the veteran; the British Hispanist, the xarnego MP, the Dutch Erasmus, the Galician undergraduate and the Gironan who buries his roots so deep in the land that he can even hear the nation’s heartbeats. The intellectual as well as the Twitter user, Juncker as well as Serrat, the Catalonian as well as the foreigner. Anyone who dares to venture into the dialectical maze of trying to refute the identity fallacies always ends up in a dead end, facing a wall erected with these words: “You don’t understand it”.

In the phrase “you don’t understand it”, independentism and thirdism, rupturists and reformists are joined together; anyone but the advocates of the equality before law —those ones are on a cognitive level that keeps them from interpreting the homeland’s roars.   

They say that you don’t understand it, as if Barcelona were a settlement in Cydonia, as if the tax plights of a wealthy region were the hidden mysteries of an extinct civilization. As if Europe did not witness in its history the forging of so many discriminatory identities; as if the “Catalonian process” took those who supports it or tolerates it to a higher phase of consciousness.  

This “you don’t understand it” is the nationalist’s panic room. The place to flee from the uncomfortable siege of rational arguments. Because, in addition, if the current catharsis has had any positive effect, is that even the most mellifluous have begun to call truths and lies by their names, which is the first essential step to deactivate a political narrative.

“You don’t understand it” takes “what is happening” —the other abracadabra in the process— to a magic place, wrapped in a mystery, like the religious experiences carefully sheltered from the secular.

“You don’t understand it” is an unequivocal and necessary formula, because if they said “you misunderstand it” instead, they would have to explain it and that’s where problems begin. What happened to the unwise PdCat’s MP Míriam Nogueras is that she dared to exercise the intellectual fencing, and in the heat of the battle at the Ferrera’s TV debate, she said: “We are different and that’s OK. We are no better or worse, just different”. When you lift the festive scab and pull the suppuration of the nationalist narrative out, you come to this, to the deep-embedded idea: we are different. I am condemning myself to hell for making this comparison, but if Beethoven’s Violin Concerto is built upon three kettle drum beats, nationalism similarly builds its narrative upon those five syllables.

Everything else is a mere consequence of those five beats from the supremacist kettle drum: we-are-dif-fer-ent, which now resonates almost imperceptibly but still latently on every pro-independence demonstration. Joan Tardà, in its most falangist vein, shout to the young midwives of the nation: “We are committed to giving birth to the Republic, and you, the young people, have to build its master walls. If you fail to do so, you would be committing a crime of treason against the generations that did not give up and a crime of treason against the land”.

Are these the “underground dynamics” that we, stubborn legalists, could not possibly understand? I think they are. And it’s true: they were never fully understood and a proof of that are the complexes permanently attached to the supporters of a modern democratic constitution in opposition to such reactionary discriminatory ideology, romantic remains from the nineteenth century.

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