Joan Esculies, 31 March 2022
Demonstration against Quebec independence before the 1995 referendum. Brooks Kaft/Getty Images (verne.elpais.com/verne/2018/09/24/articulo)
In the meantime
For ten years, perhaps many more, Catalonia has been a prisoner of words. During this time, all kinds of words have been adopted, or invented, to define concepts or political intentions that are incomprehensible to non-Catalans and, many of them, decipherable only by a part of Catalans. The latest has been “the meantime” which, according to the Dictionary of the Institut d’Estudis Catalans, is “the time in which something is happening”. In other words, the lapse of time between one event and another that is taking place or is due to take place.
Any of us has experienced a period of waiting for news, for a person, for a job. During this period, while what we were waiting for did not happen, we have often spent it anguished by the expectation itself. If, in the end, the expectation has not been fulfilled, looking back, we have thought that we could have made better use of that time, or simply taken advantage of it, instead of being so preoccupied with our own waiting.
Independence has come out of the decade of the ‘procès’ waiting
Independence has emerged from the decade of the ‘procés‘ waiting. Hoping, in a teleological desire – with roots in Catalan nationalism itself – that what happened in 2017 will happen again. Sovereignanism, as we said a fortnight ago, has not found the fulcrum on which to rest its lever to move the will of the State in its favour. One segment – based in Esquerra Republicana de Catalunya and represented by ex-convergents in Junts – has come to the conclusion that, if one day it finds it, it cannot fail again.
In another segment of the pro-independence movement, the yearning for a “new opportunity” is so strong that they not only believe it will come, but that it will come soon. That is why President Quim Torra, one of its representatives, can argue on Catalunya Ràdio that the government of Pere Aragonès “does not have independence as an objective” because “it has preferred to focus on the meantime” and considers it “a mistake”.
Manuel Cruells, a historic militant of Estat Català and the Front Nacional de Catalunya and biographer of Francesc Macià, said in his old age to anyone who wanted to listen to him that in Catalonia “revolutions are made at the bar and in writing”. This second segment of independentism continues in this situation, while outside, the landscape is changing at great speed and in a way that was unthinkable five years ago – pandemics, the war in Ukraine, the energy crisis, far-reaching migratory movements… -.
This “new opportunity” may be late, or it may simply not happen. In this perspective, since the 1995 referendum, Quebecois sovereigntists have been in an interim period that has lasted 27 years. It is not a question of renouncing legitimate ideals or longed-for horizons, but of ceasing to see themselves in a time of waiting. Living the present as an interim to be managed or overcome limits the capacity for political action.