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Originally published in Spanish. “Los nueve artículos de Torra que se leen en toda Europa”. Manel Manchón. Crónica Global.

17th May 2018

Professors at several Catalan universities, jurists, journalists, legal professionals in anti-secessionist groups, many of them anonymous and participating spontaneously, have selected up to nine articles by Quim Torra, the new president of the Catalan regional government.

This material (…) has been translated into English and shared on “every available social network”, in the words of one of the people behind the project. And the articles’ circulation has grown exponentially in academic, political, social and cultural circles throughout Europe, with some immediate effects visible already in the French press, e.g. Le Figaro.

 

Break with Spain

The texts include nine articles published in Catalan in El Matí, as well as radio soundbites and the whole series of Twitter messages recently deleted by Torra himself.

Le Figaro has noted that ‘Torra’s vision emphasizes the break between Spain and Catalonia rather than agreement with his own views’.

 

Catalan identity

The contents of this material which is now spreading show that these are not just heat-of-the-moment assertions, nor the results of being forced to write articles under the pressure of a journalistic deadline, as Torra claimed in the debate during the inauguration vote in the Catalan parliament. Rather, what is exposed is a political ideology with one main argument: in a context of globalization, Catalan identity must be maintained to keep the true essence of the people of Catalonia from being lost.

The selection that Europeans are reading now starts with an article titled La lengua y las bestias (TN: The language and the beasts), published in December 2012, in which he starts from an anecdote with an airline company and ends up describing advocates for an increased presence of Spanish as beasts. ‘They’re here, among us. They are repulsed by any expression of Catalan identity. It’s a sick phobia. There’s something Freudian in these beasts. Or a rough patch in their DNA. Poor characters. (…) Anything that isn’t in Spanish goes right over their heads.’

 

The nation, dissolving

The second article is L’era pujoliana (TN: The Pujol Era), published on 19 December 2012, in which he warns of the dangers globalization poses to Catalan identity, but also of the dangers of remaining in Spain. ‘We run the risk of the nation dissolving like sugar in a glass of milk, paralysed in the face of the avalanche of immigrants, the monstrous fiscal plundering and a globalization that only respects those who are part of the world order, i.e. states’.

The third is called Joan Solà, Ciudadanos y el PP (TN: Joan Solà, the Citizens’ Party and the People’s Party), published in September 2015. The quote is direct and clear: ‘Can anyone point out just one of these Spaniards living among us who has meant something to history and the progress of humanity?’

The fourth is no less clear. In August 2015, he published España necesita un psiquiatra (TN: Spain needs to see a psychiatrist). ‘We may not be doing great, but it’s obvious Spain needs a psychiatrist. It’s obvious and it’s urgent, because even I shudder at the depths to which the tortured Spanish brain has sunk.’

 

The dangers of Spanish

The fifth article is about Spanish columnist Salvador Sostres, whom Torra confesses to reading with devotion. Using their relationship as a starting point, he explains in Salvador Sostres y la independencia (TN: Salvador Sotres and independence), published in November 2009, that he has no interest in political parties or ideologies–he’s only interested in secession. ‘My vote, now and always, is conditional only on this priority. It’s easy: until the day that Catalonia is free, I will vote for secession. Any other argument is secondary.’

He expounds on language, which he sees purely as an element of identity. This is the topic of the sixth article, Qué deterioro (TN: What decline), published in November 2009. ‘What decline! You walk outside and nothing would seem to indicate you’re on the same streets your parents and grandparents walked: Spanish keeps advancing, ruthless, voracious, fierce.’

 

Spain’s ‘underdevelopment’

The seventh is El día de la raza (TN: The day of the race), published in October 2010. ‘Spain has essentially been an exporter of misery, materially and spiritually speaking. Everything Spaniards have touched has become a source of racial discrimination, social inequality and underdevelopment.’

In the last two, he insists on language. He does so in Llanos de Luna o la normalidad, published in 2012 (TN: The title translates into ‘Llanos de luna or normalcy’. Llanos de Luna was a delegate of the Spanish government in Catalonia at the time). ‘A language, the language of any country in the world, is the soul of the fatherland. Without a language there is no nation. And when you decide not to speak Catalan you decide to turn your back on Catalonia.’

 

Essentialism

Finally, in the ninth article, Volver al origen: la patria de los catalanes (TN: Back to our roots: the Catalan fatherland), published in September 2015, elaborates on this in an essentialist vein. ‘If we are Catalans it’s because we cannot be anything else, if we are part of the Catalan fatherland we cannot be a part of any other fatherland. When it comes to the fatherland, you have to choose: a land, a flag, a language, a history, a way of life, a sense of humour. The fatherland is a state of the soul and a specific way of being in the world.’

All of this is being read in Europe–in research centres, in newspapers, in business centres, in every corner where, finally, non-secessionist Catalans have chosen to make themselves heard using the words of the secessionist themselves. Something the latter had not anticipated, and which may end up hurting their interests.