Monday, September 12, 2011

From 20th-Century Nationalism to 21st-Century Separatism

Citizens' Voice Series

Quim Torra
Lawyer & Editor
If we found ourselves at the turn of the 20th-century, we'd be a group of Catalans who had invented a country out of thin air--against the will of a legitimate nation state, with only language, modernity, cosmopolitanism, and a culture of strength and hard work on our side--that is, Catalonia's fin-de-siècle anti-romanticist movement, noucentisme (new-century-ism). In an underdeveloped Spain adrift and wrought with corruption, these ideas were irresistible for liberal-minded intellectuals who believed in real progress for Europe. Doctors, linguists, activists, farmers, economists, small business owners and various writers soon came to believe in the construction of a country--their own country--as the only way to achieve this goal of existing, on our own terms, as an integral part Europe. That is to say, without Catalan nationalism, we wouldn't have gotten past a provincial status in Spain that relegated our nation and culture to a pastoral and folkloric existence. Catalan nationalism has been a transformational and modernizing movement in our country in every aspect of life, which has taken root and grown to coexist with the rest of Iberia's national identities.
So why is 20th-century Catalan nationalism having such a hard time at the turn of the 21st?
It's reached its limit. Catalan nationalists traditionally aspired to reform Spain, and we are only beginning to realize that we can't change an obsessively centralist country. A century of struggle has passed--and with it, the governments of kings, dictators, and democratically elected leaders--yet the age-old fight between Catalonia and Madrid remains an open wound. In order to continue moving forward and to become an integral part of Europe, Catalonia must directly become a part of the world.
This is the new school of nationalist thought: outright separatism.
Today we are many, and every day we're more. Catalan separatism must be as relevant to a 21st-century Catalonia as nationalism was for a 20th-century Catalonia. The latter ideology sought to give us meaning within Spain while the former, and current, seeks to give us meaning on Earth. We've learned from our mistakes; the old nationalism is quickly fading. Today, the spark that keeps the spirit of our people aflame is imperative for dignity and freedom: independence.
We want to be a part of the world.
Catalan nationalism sought to modernize Catalonia within Spain; Catalan separatism seeks to modernize Catalonia within the international community.
Quim Torra
Lawyer & Editor

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