In English Voices From Spain


Photo: Himesh Kumar Behera | Unsplash

Originally published in Spanish: «Anfibios». Rafa Latorre. El Mundo.

29th May 2018

With the implosion of the legislature, newspapers had to skim over the glory of one of the most durable, interesting and perhaps fateful phenomena in Spanish politics. Within one week PNV showcased the amphibious nature -copyright by Jordi Amat- of bourgeois nationalism thanks to a dazzling coincidence: They voted in favor of PP’s budget in madrid while in Vitoria they agreed with Bildu the drafting of a new Basque statute of autonomy that is a stepping stone for independence. On the day when PNV’s yay for Rajoy’s budget was announced, Madrid’s newspapers published praising op-eds, highlighting Urkullu’s responsibility, Basque pragmatism and sensibility, all the stuff we had already read about Pujol and Catalans back when it was them who acted as helpers for Madrid’s governments. There’s always a good nationalism in Spain, worthy of generous concessions not because of its loyalty but simply because of lack of disloyalty, which is different. The role that was played by Convergencia back when ETA seeded the Basque Country with corpses is now played by PNV once the secular xenophobia of Catalan nationalism has emerged for all to see. This is something that non-centrifugal Spaniards know by memory. People from Extremadura taking a train to Madrid know it, as do Galicians who, when they ask about their high speed train, get a reprimand for being so quirkly docile about their identity. Both know that that today’s bad nationalism will be tomorrow’s good one, after the current favorites move forward with the separatist monster they were incubating when they were still good. These are solid, shared certainties, reinforced by cyclical budget negotiations and by the sporadical Spanish of the year award. That is what makes Catalan outrage about the metaphysical impossibility of a nationalist international so touching. PNV promised not to vote with the government while article 155 was in use and, well, you see. Catalans wipe off their tears with yellow handkerchiefs after the Basque treason, when treason, and nothing else, is the most defining trait of the ideology they share. Catalan separatists want to destroy the network of affections that keeps Spain together and, to achieve that, they demand the affection of people with whom they’re only bonded by virtue of being Spanish, even if disaffected ones. They just took a remarkable practical lesson on the difference between nationalism and patriotism.

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