by Manel Manchón
The speech on the technological revolution, about changes in the production model, on how the world is advancing and the acceleration of the last 20 years was known and discussed in comfortable expert forums. There comes a moment, however, when all of this appears as unusual, perhaps because we were not fully aware of it or because, in reality, we did not want to have it. It was a pandemic that caused everyone to open their eyes, with the conviction that everything could be prepared. In other words: the changes will be faster than expected, because now, with the economic stop, all countries have seen that they must adapt to forced marches, although things can still be handled.
Thomas Friedman’s work, Thank you for being late (Deusto), is very significant. The book addresses all these changes, of tectonic characteristics. There are, in parallel, three forces that accelerate them: the Moore’s law, which is related to technology; market, with the impact on globalization; and nature, which involves climate change and biodiversity. All this influences the labour market and the workplace itself; in politics and geopolitics. But what does Friedman point to? That the stresses that all of this can cause can be attenuated if the speed is slowed down, if we delay or defer — knowing that the tools to do otherwise we already have — that disruption process. Hence the title: Thank you for being late, because we will be able to analyze and adapt the situation with a little more. However, the book is from 2017, published in Spanish in February 2018. What has been done since then across the globe? Has covid found that we don’t have any more time?
These issues must already be on the table and, in particular, in Catalonia. What Catalan society has undergone in the last ten years has a lot to do with the transformations Friedman pointed out. Fear of a process of globalization, technological change and the perception — with more or less attachment to real facts — that a culture like Catalan has to lose in that planetary magna had a lot to do with the pro-independence process.
But reproaches are no longer good. Catalonia, like the rest of Spain, must look to the future, and seek broad consensus among all sectors: political, economic, cultural and social. There will not be much time to think about other things, nor to consider that Catalonia may have been a state of its own, with different structures. It is good now to remember and reread the book of the historian Ricardo García Cárcel Felipe V and the Spaniards to understand — and that others also understand — that there were differences and different ways of building a state, and that the experience of seeking shelter in France proved fatal to the Catalans, who knocked on the door of the Spanish monarchy after the revolution of 1640 and having tasted independence under the French mantle. There are grievances, of course, and traumatic experiences, but what was achieved with the Transition and the Constitution of 1978, after great hardship and unhappy centuries — the nineteenth in particular–, should not be thrown overboard. You can’t think of a chimera over and over again. Largely because the composition of Catalan society began to be very different from the first Spanish internal migrations in the first third of the twentieth century. This has been pointed out very clearly by the historian Joan Lluís Marfany, a Catalan sage who made an academic career in Liverpool, who is not often paid much attention to by the public media of the Generalitat and the private pro-independence media.
But we can’t look back. We have to think about Friedman, and seek alliances between the two Catalan political poles that have been facing each other in the last ten years. And there are some hints of intelligence, shown by ERC leaders, such as former congressional deputy Joan Tarda. Without absolute majority, what is drawn in Catalonia is a possible nationalist government, which defends self-government, that values what can be modified, but that leaves any rupturistic project. It is time for collaboration, to value what Catalanism has precisely done for the construction of modern Spain, and the effort of all Spaniards for a State of autonomy that has led to the recovery of Catalan identity.
From now on we will have to think much more about Friedman, among all, with cross-cutting governments in Catalonia, a fraternal reconstruction of Catalonia and appreciate that there are many wickers so that this place in the world has a magnificent future. It will depend on the irredentism of pro-independentism already abandoning their continuing squabblets and reaching their shoulders and not simply cornering men like Tarda, who knows perfectly well, say it more or less clearly, which has happened in all these years.