Photo by Jeremy Bishop on Unsplash
Originally published in Spanish.‘Iracundo, absolutista e intolerante’. Roger Senserrich. Vozpópuli.
12th May 2018
Let me start my article today with a quote: “When the homeland is experiencing a moment of national urgency, when the nation is in danger of dissolving as sugar in a glass of milk, when all the bells about our survival as a people are ringing, the ideological discussion can not be in no case an axis that divide us, because the fate of Spain is above that”.
If I said that this quote comes from a José Antonio Primo de Rivera’s speech in 1934 it probably would not surprise anyone. It is a concept of rancid, old nationalism, which puts homeland, cultural identity, the feeling of belonging to a cloudy concept as it is the nation, above inequality, education, material welfare, social class or any anything else. The old identitary nativism of a past to which we do not want to return.
The thing is that this not a quote from José Antonio Primo de Rivera, nor it was written in 1934. It comes from an article written on 7th of March of 2012, in which I have changed only one word, the last one. In the original text, in Catalan, Joaquim Torra, the next president of the Generalitat, writes “Catalonia” instead of “Spain”.
Carles Puigdemont, a peripatetic Bonapartist and former president of the Generalitat, has designated Joaquim Torra as his heir/substitute/puppet for the position as top representative of the state in Catalonia. Torra is yet another individual from the well-stocked quarry of independentist subsidized pseudo-intellectuals who abounded in the Generalitat’s margins for decades, always referring to “Spain” with a gesture of repugnance, always speaking of Catalonia in a messianic tone oscillating between affectation and nativism. His blithely offensive tweets of rancid nationalism, the most of them now deleted, are well-known. His articles are not far behind, with the same bigoted arrogance toward those who not adhere to his patriotism.
I can understand someone’s desire to be nationalist or independentist. It is a political idea perfectly logic and coherent, which can be promoted with rational arguments. It is even possible to negotiate with them, since ultimately we all pursue the citizen’s welfare. Since secession implies real dangers, and there is a midpoint between a traumatic secession and keeping the status quo, there is room for a dialogued solution, if there is a will on both parts.
Unfortunately, both Puigdemont and Torra have no intention to dialogue with or talk to no one. Since a few months back, Puigdemont and a numerous faction of independentism only seems to understand dialogue as “the negotiation of the conditions of secesssion from your fascist state”, without the slightest interest for midpoints. It is basically impossible to negotiate with someone who has been repeating for years the same mantra —that the Spaniards can only plunder. As much as independentists repeat that they extend their hand for dialogue, the man they have chosen to lead the Generalitat does not seem someone willing to talk to anybody.
The conflict in Catalonia is solvable. We know it is so because we have been 500 years putting up with each other, and we know it is perfectly possible to coexist without coming to blows. We also know that the alternative is worse, far worse. For reaching that solution, however, the two halves in which Catalan society is divided —because, I insist, this is above all a conflict between Catalans, not between Catalonia and Spain— must strike a deal between them, overcoming this destructive game of victors and vanquished which jeopardizes the coexistence in the country.
But the Catalan conflict is not symmetrical. It is not a setting where two sides equally irrational and radicalized are confronted, where both should embrace moderation before anything can be settled. In Catalonia we have, on one side, politicians who either are satisfied with an autonomic regime that has worked reasonably fine or want to reform it; in the other side we have a group of individuals whose political aim in the short term is to provoke a clash against the state in order to generate an overreaction and keep justifying the use of institutions to get the secession. The first group can be more or less sensible, competent or stagnant, but at least they do not carry out show-performances in the institutions to piss off people for no reason, as their political objective. Joaquim Torra follows this line, rather than wanting to fix anything.
Joaquim Torra, judging from his articles, declarations and public appearances, seems to be a man convinced that 53% of Catalans who did not vote for a pro-secession party in December are not really Catalans, and who seems to feel an absolute disdain for their identity or feelings of belonging. The simple fact that Puigdemont has designated someone like him, a second-tier organic intellectual, an irate, absolutist, bigoted man as presidential nominee to Generalitat, should make perfectly clear that their claims for dialogue are just a pantomime, something to say while they play the victim around Europe. Their purpose is blindly charging ahead, towards the the clash, to agitate, to not find a solution.
Catalonia is a place where more than the half of the people is essentially happy to be where it is, and only wants to be let alone —enough of so much drama, so many demonstrations, so much buzz. Until secessionists understand that those citizens are Catalans as well, and that their conflict is with them, rather than with Madrid, we will be going nowhere.