In English Voices From Spain

Trite remarks on Catalonia

Photo by jean wimmerlin on Unsplash

Originally published in Spanish: “Lugares comunes”. Juan Claudio de Ramón. El País.

9th July 2018

Diversity entails richness. But only when the differences meet in the individual, as metals melt in a crucible, or when different strands are woven into a tapestry; diversity impoverishes when used as an excuse for segregation. Bridges must be built. But not on the same place and with the same building defects that provoked their fall. Politics cannot be constrained by courts. On a mature democracy, that must be possible: it means we live under the rule of law and we’re at nobody’s whim. The origin of the conflict is the Constitutional Court ruling on the “Estatut”. The mistake was trying to shoehorn a confederal Statute into the Constitution. That ruling was not the cause, but a pretext. We can bring back the articles that were voided. They were correctly voided; there was nothing good on them. We must engage in dialogue. But with full respect for the Law, that is to say, what was previously dialogued (Savater). OK, but let’s dialogue. Yes, but also bearing in mind the preferences of non-nationalist Catalans. They’re Catalan, aren’t they? Let’s engage in politics. The politics of constantly giving in failed. There are others: spreading state agencies headquarters over the territory (different from devolution), or the federal management of the languages. Devolved powers must be shielded. Federalism doesn’t “shield” powers, even less identity-related ones; if we’re talking about validating exclusionary politics, do not count on me. Federalism is the solution. But a rational Federalism, not an identity–based one. Spanish language is not prosecuted. It is not: it’s excluded, with the segregationist aim of erasing the  part of their cultural identity that Catalans have in common with the rest of Spaniards. Languages must be protected. But not at the cost of people’s rights. Taking care of the speakers and languages will take care of themselves. The autonomous communities state is already asymmetric. Correct: It’s obvious that asymmetry has not solved the problem. But there are peculiarities to acknowledge. A pluralist constitution is not intended to set peculiarities but to let them, where they exist, to flourish freely. Spain is a plurinational state. Plurinationality means the possibility of being a Spaniard in different ways, but there’s only one way to be Basque, Catalan or Galician: being a nationalist (De Miguel). There are people with differing national feelings in Spain. Sure, no doubt about that. And it must be respected. But they are individuals, not territories. A multilingual nation is a better idea than a state that, because it’s plurinational – a mere juxtaposition of uniformities – will not be plural. We must not build walls. Let’s be careful not to erect fences. It is not with nationalist methods that one can fight nationalism. Yes. But one idea of nation – the ethnolinguistic or the civic – must prevail. This problem can only be endured. That’s Ortega’s nonsense. The problem can be solved, if we try new ideas. Catalonia is not sufficiently appreciated. It is precisely because Catalonia is highly appreciated that this is all so painful.  

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