Interview with Josep Asensio
October 3, 2021
Teacher of French and Catalan. He was a councilor of Sabadell for the PSC, and is member of Greenpeace and other pro-environment platforms. He finds himself very much identified with Federalists of the Left. He has been collaborating with the digital newspaper iSabadell.cat for a decade.
The vice-chancellor for quality and language policy at the UPC, Núria Pla, tweeted on the eve of 9/11, saying: “Desire for fire, burning containers and a collapsed airport.” How is this interpreted? Maybe it’s a jungle call?
Those who believed that independence was a peaceful movement were wrong. We saw it in the events of September, burning the Via Laietana… There are people who claim this violence, but, of course, they do not have the support of Catalan society as a whole. Among other things, because we all know that this is a bourgeois revolt. It would be understood that people who earn 400 euros a month take to the streets, but those who have a high income, with their second villas, talking about revolution, these are just words. Surely the former vice-chancellor who wrote this would be unable to participate in what she says she wishes. It’s the typical preaching to the CUP followers, who I think are starting to see they only want taking advantage of them.
Beyond the desire for violence, it is not surprising that in the 21st century, with more than 200 years of Enlightenment behind them, people who are supposed to have an intellectual background far above the average align with something as irrational as the procés, with no holding back…
We can all have irrational impulses, but since it is now so easy to move from these impulses to the message itself, via mobile, it is not uncommon for the first thing that comes to mind to pass immediately to the fingers/keys. Not long ago, when I saw on TV something I didn’t like, I was speaking to the screen, but knowing I wouldn’t get an answer. Now it’s not uncommon for people to inadvertently throw the first thing that comes to mind and, when they see what’s falling on them, erase it. It’s almost a reflex act, which we have to learn to control. Because not only the vagaries are slipped around, but manipulations and fakesd, like the much-celebrated woman who, in the events of 1-O, said that an anti-riot had broken her fingers, one by one. I must confess that I myself was alarmed. In the age of digital networking, of which the author of the tweet we mentioned earlier seems to be an expert, we should recommend a little more caution.
In addition, this person, as the person in charge of language policy at a University, is also presumed to know something about the value of words…
She is part of a visceral, emotional movement, in which the opposite wins, not intelligence, sensitivity, knowing how to behave… Common sense gives way to fanaticism, and in this field there are no rules . Insult is resorted to. They have done this to me many, many times. “Fascist” and “Falangist” is the softest thing I’ve been told just for thinking differently. There are cold, calculating people who have promoted the use of certain words, without any legitimacy, perverting their original meaning. When they say, for example, “exiled”, referring to Puigdemont, the misrepresentation of the term is striking. And so, “democracy”, “freedom”, “political prisoners”, “amnesty”, etc.
But ultimately all this terminology comes from the past, and used in a perverse way, of course… But nothing new under the sun.
They use in their own favor concepts, values, claims…, which had a great value in the past and which, incidentally, were not precisely those shared by them. Fundamentally, to cover up the great corruption they have starred in. There were people who lived very well, with Jordi Pujol in power. In fact, Aznar did not touch a single point on investment or anything in Catalonia. When corruption, deception, theft come to light (because it is not Spain that steals, but they), something must be invented, and the procés appears. They claim impossible things, knowing they are, but they have to endure anyway.
For example, amnesty now?
Either they are extremely clever, or extremely silly. When someone throws themselves at what they threw themselves at, could one think perhaps that the Spanish Government would do nothing? Could anyone believe that there would be no need to pay for what was done? And now they are asking for an amnesty. For Puigdemont? There has been a pardon and it makes no sense to try to erase the past, saying there were no crimes. In fact, Junts is not at the negotiating table among other things because they raised talk about runaway politicians, and their possible return. It is surreal that, in the eyes of some pro-independence groups, the “traitors” are those who went to prison, and those who fled are the “heroes”. Puigdemont is the hero and Junqueras the traitor. Catalonia is the world upside down.
In this world upside down, what has been called “supremacism” occupies a very significant place, which, according to Wikipedia, defends the superiority of one human group over others for ethnic, biological, cultural, religious or origin reasons…
The Catalan bourgeoisie, where there were many people who had supported Franco, has always been supremacist. This supremacism was projected especially against the emigrants who came to work in Catalonia. Proof of this are, for example, things such as the fact that the center of Sabadell, where I live, is considered and called Sabadell, proper, and the “neighborhoods” of emigrants are something else. . That still survives. The procés has reinforced this supremacism, ignoring and belittling half of Catalonia. It was surprising that half of Parliament was absent in a vote and they followed suit, as if nothing had happened. Things like associating the “people of Catalonia” with themselves are intolerable.
In this state of affairs, what landscapes can be seen?
It seems that Catalonia has no solution. The dialogue table, if successful, would lead to a new Statute, which would of course not open the door to self-determination or amnesty. I envision a status like the Belgian, where Flemish live separate from Francophones. There can be pro-independence governments for a long time, because constitutionalism does not meet the conditions to deal with nationalism.
In any case, the pro-independence streak does not give off a certain aroma of the end of the period… Isn’t there a part, or a lot, of agony in Catalan nationalism?
It seems that Pere Aragonès could finally become PNV-like. Esquerra could become a pragmatic party, able to agree, beyond its ideology or its long-term goals. It could, for example, agree with the Socialist Party, as does the PNV. Which, no one doubts, is going very well for them. Nationalism has always been more in the majority in the Basque Parliament than in the Catalan Parliament, and yet this has never led to a nationalist front. Urkullu, who led his party out of the Ibarretxe crisis, was deeply committed to overcoming the compromised situation in which Puigdemont found himself. There was nothing to do. They don’t care if everything goes awry. Education is collapsing, the economy is evaporating… We are increasingly queuing up in the rankings. Esquerra seems to be trying to channel something, and it remains to be seen how far it can go, in view of the enormous pressures it is enduring. It seems that the most sensible thing would be to reach an agreement with Salvador Illa. Surely one day it will come. Because the Via Laietana has been left behind. There will be those who regret that the 1-O was not dead, but there will be fewer and fewer.
But the function of the procés, as in magic shows, is over. The lights come on, and it comes back to reality…
I am a defender of the Catalan language, because I have earned my living by teaching Catalan. But it is true that Catalan has become so politically instrumental, associating it with nationalism, that it will end up paying for it. When I was teaching Catalan in Spanish-speaking quarters, there was passion for learning because for many of them it was a way of upgrading their status. Hence, the immersion was supported by immigrants. Jordi Pujol himself opposed this, because he feared that the Catalan would lose. Choosing the language could help to separate. However, it is also true that good immersion should have been two-way, bilingual. And that hasn’t happened. Catalan has become so assimilated to nationalism that I myself have received insults for speaking Catalan. When Laura Borràs says she will not answer a question because it is in Castilian, she is making a very poor favor to Catalan.