For years, a language use has been installed in Catalonia in which the words and the use made of them exclude an important part of the population. Terms such as people, country, Catalans, are used to refer to a specific group of the population.
From the civil entities, but also from some universities and media, the idea is transmitted that Catalonia is like a white sheet, a uniform reality speaking with one voice: the voice of the people. Or of the country. This people, they repeat, demands self-determination and independence.
The difference between being Catalan and being a citizen of Catalonia right now is not a least one.
We don’t talk about citizenship anymore. A word that means belonging on equal terms and without distinction to a political system. A concept that would allow to recover many of the things that have been lost in these years. The difference between being Catalan and being a citizen of Catalonia right now is not a least one. It is not, because it has to do with what a group of the population relates to national identity. But also with the segregation of those who are not considered as part of that collective imaginary.
It is hard to think that anyone could say that any of us, with Extremaduran and Chilean origins, are not citizens of Catalonia. We live and work here, we have built our lives and are an active part of social and political life. However, many people think that we are not Catalan. Even some of us have seen ourselves in a situation where they say “she seems Catalan”, something that reveals that the differential fact weighs more than other arguments.
This was not the case a couple of decades ago when the Catalan or Catalan concept was much more inclusive, when the identity conflict had not settled in the center of political life by questioning collective consensus that had allowed building a cohesive society.
This process has not been casual or spontaneous
This process has not been casual or spontaneous. Millions of euros have been invested in propaganda, in organizing mobilizations and campaigns that have exalted a certain discourse, congresses that have misrepresented history to force events that have not existed in reality. The grossest is making believe that Catalonia opposed the Franco dictatorship as a block despite the fact that, as in all of Spain, society was divided into two sides. The Catalan Francoist political leaders, but also their supporters, did not come from Burgos or Madrid. They were here, they celebrated the arrival of Franco’s troops with cheers and they were recycled in the same nationalist formations that now want to make us believe that the struggle for independence is a continuation of the anti-Franco struggle.
We believe that it is time to promote a coexistence project that not only helps to recover personal ties but also contributes to building a political culture based on the agreement breaking down topics. A project that overcomes grievances and that instead of focusing the debate on issues such as the right of self-determination or difference, focus on the benefits of living together.
Recovering the concept of citizenship is something that implies leaving the trenches
After the social breakup that produced the celebration of two independence referendums in Quebec, the federal government endeavored to promote initiatives that would allow the recovery of the bridges that had been broken. Strengthening the common values in school curriculums, facilitating student exchange so that new generations could get to know each other and making visible the issues that united them. It is not that in Catalonia we imitate the role that pro-independence platforms have done by repeating slogans but rather to foster the critical spirit and debate so that each citizen can create their own political consciousness taking into account the existing diversity.
The people who bet on federalism, for not imposing the wishes of each other, have to start investing efforts, but also resources, in recovering the ties that have been broken and the agreements that have been lost. The formation of a new Government in Spain is a possibility to advance in this path of recovery of the concept of citizenship as an essential element of coexistence.
In his book ‘Praise of Doubt’, Victoria Camps recalls that we live in times of extremism and confrontation in which absolute truths prevail and the importance of doubting, of listening to the other, is not taken into account. Recovering the concept of citizenship is something that implies leaving the trenches, accepting the part of truth in the arguments of the other and reaching new consensus.
Beatriz Silva is a MCP of the PSC in the Parliament of Catalonia and Blanca Cercas was number two of the PSC candidacy for Girona in the last general elections.