Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Why I Support Independence of Catalonia

Citizens' Voice Series
Jordi Vilanova
Internetwork process & knowledge management consultant
Born and brought up in London, England, of a Swedish mother and a Catalan father born in Paris, France, I think it might be fair to say that I am a citizen of Europe. I have imbibed of several different cultures, with an education at British, French and Spanish schools. I speak five languages, with a smattering of a further two or three. I am thus what might be termed multicultural, with influences from many different points of view, though admittedly “Western”. This world-view, with a clear liberal, democratic bent, means I give cultures that tend to restrict others' freedoms, political or otherwise, very short shrift.

One such culture is Spain's. It has a long history of nationalism whose prime characteristic is a constant obstinacy in imposing its unitary national identity, understood as cultural and political uniformity. Worst of all is that this unitary nationalism does not originally spring from modern nation building, but from an atavistic Castilian trait of a closed, self-sufficient, typically feudal society which survived well into the 19th Century. One has but to read the Spanish literary classics to realise this. Notice, by way of example, that in the Spanish Wikipedia's entry for Literature of Spain there is but one single Catalan language author. Catalan authors are set apart as a footnote.

This Spain that has for centuries been unable to consolidate as a nation beyond the regions of Castilian culture (i.e. Spain not including Catalonia, the Basque Country and Galicia), even “by whichever means necessary”, be these outright war, attempted cultural and linguistic obliteration, or economic and fiscal seizure, is still today attempting to secure its uniform identity. Thus, the modern Spanish political mainstream, whether Socialist or PP, (never mind the old Francoists) has always been politically conservative and culturally unitary, opposing today's politically liberal and culturally diverse, multifarious milieu.

Opposing this conservatism has been Catalan politics' historical endeavour to change the political culture and structure of Spain. Catalonia, with its distinct singularity, has long been at the forefront of social, cultural and economic advancement, not only in Spain, but also in Europe. It is the most open society in Spain, with 13.5% of its population coming from abroad. Catalonia has long welcomed migrations: between the 16th and the 18th centuries, many French migrated here, escaping from religious strife and civil disturbances, and as of the late 1950s, while southern Europe, including Spain, was 'exporting' labour to the north, Catalonia was a net 'importer', like the UK or Germany.

But any proposals for a more liberal, federal Spain emerging from Catalonia have lasted but moments in the history of an absolutely illiberal, uniform state. Federalism has been the last stand of those who still hope for a more open Spain, one that should be ready to accept its cultural and political diversity. But there is little hope for federalism, which is, in my opinion and that of many Catalans, what should have been legislated after the Franco dictatorship, but which was not for fear of the centuries-old demands of unitary uniformity by Spanish reactionary conservatives and the military.

The latest Catalan initiative attempting to lay the foundations of a federalising state, the 2006 Statute for Catalonia, was approved by 90% of its parliament's members and was approved in referendum by the citizens with a clear majority in favour. It is obvious that most Catalan citizens are unhappy with Spain as it stands. In a recent poll, a majority of Catalans would vote for independence.

But still today the Spanish government procrastinates with the application and, most importantly, the budget assignations the last Statute requires. It is clear that Spain is unwilling to make any changes, to recognise its own diversity, cultural or political. If the Spanish powers-that-be are not yet ready to accept change, after more than thirty years of democracy and three hundred years of imposition, there isn't much point in carrying on any further with their ground rules.

Independentists like myself move, therefore, that solution for both Spain and the citizens of Catalonia is Catalan independence.

Jordi Vilanova

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8 comentaris:

  • Andreu Cabré says:
    August 25, 2011 at 5:27 AM

    Molt ben escrit i explicat, Jordi. Felicitats!

  • I_need says:
    August 25, 2011 at 5:56 AM

    Simplement tal com es!

  • Anonymous says:
    August 26, 2011 at 7:55 AM

    Crec que ho has bordat
    Felicitats

  • Anonymous says:
    August 26, 2011 at 12:16 PM

    Sí, pero no sólo Cataluña, otras regiones de España son particulares y diferentes. Si tan multicultural eres, no se te nota, porque la multiculturalidad es variedad y España es variedad sin perjuicio de ninguna imposición. Venden una España que no es la real, ya que se reconoce pluralidad. Eso es riqueza, eso es España. Es mi opinión al igual que otros muchos catalanes.

  • Catamunt says:
    August 26, 2011 at 12:43 PM

    For Anonymous (12:16 PM August 26). How can anyone state that Catalonia is nationally part of Spain and merely part of the cultural variety of the Spanish nation? Spaniards cannot even pronounce our names! They do not understand our language and the only reason why we speak theirs is because they have been enforcing it in every way possible after they conquered us. I don't say that the reason for independence is what happened in the past. What I mean to say is that Catalonia was and still is a nation that has the right to relate with other nations in the world in foot of equality, including Spain, a very respectable and diverse nation that any human beeing would love. We just happen to be from another nation, as lovely and diverse itself as other nations, and also as respectable, and with the same rights of deciding its own destiny, as the Charter of the United Nations stated. We are not a subset of Spaniards, we are a subset of human beings.

  • Jordi Vilanova says:
    August 26, 2011 at 3:10 PM

    There most certainly are many Spaniards who are open to a multicultural, multi-political Spain. I know many who would support a more democratic state: the federalists, most of whom are Catalan, and many of those who demand a referendum for the amendment of the constitution to limit de deficit, for example, would probably be sympathetic towards a multi-ethnic model for Spain. But the issue is that the underlying political and social culture of Spain is as it is: monolingual, mono-ethnic, mono-cultural. It simply does not understand and most often will not admit that any "Spaniard" should have a mother tongue or a polity that is any different from the mainstream Castillian culture.
    Catalonia has been trying to get Spain to accept the differences within the modern state without success. Just read the history of the republics, which were never really federal anyway, to get an idea of how tolerant Spain is of difference: how long did any of the republics last?
    As I say in the post, what independentists propose is to stop wasting anyone's time any further and let us decide whether we want to go our own way, and let us get on with it!

  • SUSAN KIRKPATRICK says:
    August 26, 2011 at 3:19 PM

    I HAVE JUST READ ALL OF THIS AND I HAVE NEVER CONSIDERED CATALONIA PART OF SPAIN,IT IS A COUNTRY OF IT'S OWN AND WANTING IT'S INDEPENDENCE FORM SPAIN AS ALL COUNTRY'S WANT THEIR FREEDOM..

  • Anonymous says:
    August 28, 2011 at 6:28 AM

    Good synthesis. The feudal character of Spanish culture sprang again two days ago after Barça player Cesc Fàbregas was celebrating their victory in the european supercup with a starred Catalonia flag : he was menaced to death in Twitter by a pack of hounds of spaniards

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