Gabriel Jaraba, 20 January 2022
Image | candi
We must wrest Catalan nationalism from fanatics and crackpots.
You don’t have to be a nationalist to be a Catalanist. Nor does being a nationalist entail becoming a separatist.
There is a job that the citizens of Catalonia have ahead of us if we want to assume a general civic commitment, and in my opinion an urgent one. We must save the Catalan language, culture, and democracy, but not from imagined threats or oppressions that have been overcome we must wrest Catalan nationalism from the fanatics and crackpots.
We must clear the common ground of coexistence of bitterness, revenge and hatred; we must return the normal and shared use of languages to every citizen; we must prevent any social group, however large a majority it may be, from claiming exclusive ownership of the nation; we must prevent one party, parliamentary majorities and minorities aside, from appropriating the institutions that belong to everyone, including the Parliament and the Generalitat itself; We must slowly and patiently sow a mood of concord and cordiality in all directions; we must recover the sense of general, friendly and, if possible, cheerful coexistence that makes living in the country worthwhile without feeling oppressed because of propaganda that inoculates heads and hearts with a false conscience that blinds their minds.
These moods are so widespread that it is hard to believe that a modern, advanced country on the shores of the Mediterranean could be subjected to such astonishing sensitivities. One might think, given certain comments in the press, that it is the work of certain minorities on the internet’s social networks. But one only has to look at the election results and see who is in power to see the blindfold fall off. If we vote this way, it is because we want this. Logically, the leaders say they will do it again.
The bad shade, acrimony, and malice that digital environments denote, go beyond youthful ignorance or bewilderment. We have an intergenerational problem resulting from a shared state of mind: the feeling of frustration expressed as impotent rage. Thus the “fet diferencial” (the differential fact) vanishes: we are just as miserable as everyone else, you see. Because these passions don’t come to us from outside, they come from within. And now I ask myself: what if perhaps they also come from afar?
You don’t have to be nationalist to be Catalanist. Nor does being nationalist entail becoming a separatist. The contempt with which certain Catalans regard Spain and those they call “unionists” does not add any patriotic quality to Catalan nationalism, but it does speak clearly of the capacity of certain moral, individual and collective circumstances. Can one deny the right to the nationality one chooses to those who do so in a different way? Should one expel from one’s own national space those who consider it differently? Have we not yet realised that conceiving life as a national confrontation has provoked two world wars? Before 1939, such behaviour could be considered political; now, and especially after 1992, such attitudes are downright immoral. Because both in Berlin and in Sarajevo there were clear warlike intentions behind these attitudes. We must defend not only Catalan nationalism but the country from those who think that separation is worth the life of a single person. And a single statement by an information trafficker has earned the credit of those who would believe that their political aspiration would be more feasible if it were held over the corpse of an innocent person.
Not all the failures of the Catalan nationalist project over the last decades are the result of imposed defeats; there must be some of its own. Not all the socio-political and cultural forms through which Catalonia has sought to express her will to be appropriate: we must have done something wrong. But we think against all logic: it seems that schooling in Catalan has been a great success and at the same time the language is in danger of disappearing. Public television in Catalan has been a popular success for our culture and now it turns out that the audience is going backwards. Catalonia must be the only place in the world where you can suck and blow at the same time.
We need to review and rethink the meaning and the concept of what we have called Catalanism until now. Because if Catalan nationalism has brought us this far, something is going on: if Catalan nationalism makes us believe that we are better and that we are owed something, if the result is not only social but also moral, we will have to look for an approach that will help us discern the possibilities of sucking and blowing.
We need to be both conciliatory and critical, and above all we need to speak out. This lack of control will not be fixed by those who want to repeat it. The task falls to the “improvers” and not to the “worsers”, according to Raimon Obiols’ clairvoyant terminology. We have to rethread the needle and continue sewing what we began to stitch together during Franco’s regime. There are still many of us who, in addition to being Catalans by birth, are Catalanists by choice. We must reject this monstrosity of wanting to throw out Paola lo Cascio or Giaime Pala with the same intention that other nationalists shouted “Juden raus!” and “Reds, to Moscow” (because they are our compatriots, there are no foreigners in the European Union). Some kids have branded me a “misfit”, ignoring the fact that I first set foot in a police station at the age of 14, they wrongly describe me as a “posco” when if they removed the “pos” they would be right.
We need to learn to rebuild our country. During Franco’s regime we knew how to marginalise the influence of extremists in and out of uniform who would have undoubtedly led us into another war, and now we have to learn how to do it with other extremists, who are no less reckless for being cowards.
We have to learn new social and perhaps ideological skills that will enable us to do what we have done before successfully. We have to stop carrying the lily in our hands, they say from the very bases of the worsters. Thanks for the tip: we must reclaim not only the lily but the reason and the outstretched hand of reasonable and polite dialogue, without abandoning a single public space from which the worsters want to expel us.