Debate about Catalan Nationalism

I went to the Metropolitan Magazine debate about Catalan nationalism yesterday. There were four speakers, two in favour of Catalan nationalism and two against. Each had 10 minutes to present their ideas. Afterwards there was a discussion. The whole debate was in English. That´s probably why most of the audience (about 50 persons) were “guirris”, i.e., people from outside Spain.

The four speakers were: Charles Ablett (half Welsh, half Catalan, Catalan speaking, against Catalan nationalism), Erik Jeffery (British, Catalan speaking, in favour), Nito Foncuberta (of the political party Ciutadans, against Catalan nationalism) and a guy I think he was named “Bosc”, but it was hard to hear because the chairman who presented him talked with his hand in front of his mouth (representing the political party ERC, a Catalan nationalist party).

Unfortunately, numerous times last night,  Godwin´s law was put into practice: “As a discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Nazis or Hitler approaches 1”.  I´ll summarise what the speakers had to say below, as objectively as I can.


1. Charles Ablett

He mainly talked about the Catalan Statute (a sort of constitution for Catalans only, in parallel with the Spanish general constitution). I think this was a bit besides the point because both Catalan nationalists as their opponents are not in favour of it. The first group thinks it´s too weak (it still recognizes Spanish authority), the second group thinks it´s unnecessary and full of mistakes. (A summary of these mistakes can be found here, among the comments.)
A few other points he mentioned:

  • Catalonia was never really independent. It belonged once to the kingdom of Aragon, but later, 500 years ago, became part of Spain.
  • The statute does not represent every citizen of Catalonia, only the Catalan nationalists.
  • Catalan nationalism is against his idea of an open, multicultural society, with free press, free education, etc…
  • (Godwin alert) Nationalism equals fascism, racism, Nazism.

2. Erik Jeffery

He had a rather rambling story about Catalan history and culture, which, even in his own words, would not directly lead one to the conclusion that Catalonia should be independent. So what were his reasons to think that Catalonia should be independent? He mentioned these:

  • Emotional reasons. Spanish people are very nasty against Catalans (illustrated by some personal experiences of friends of friends who had been in Madrid and had had problems with local taxi drivers).
  • Economic reasons. Catalans pay more tax but receive less (i.e. in road maintenance, public transport, and other public services).
  • The fact that other countries in Europe that got independent (east European countries mainly) are much happier now.

3. Nito Foncuberta (Ciutadans)

His most important points:

  • Catalan nationalist politics use emotionalism and sentimentalism to create a problem that isn´t there.
  • Someone´s identity should not depend on administrative borders (Catalonia, Spain, Europe) and his type of passport, but on one´s own personal, individual choices. Do two neighbours have a common identity for just living next to each other?
  • After Franco died, the Spanish people got a constitution that already acknowledged the various different nationalities living in Spain, together. This constitution is what most people voted in favour of, also here in Catalonia.
  • The only thing that a government should do is give services to all its citizens. What matters is whether these services (jobs, public transport) work and not whether it´s Spanish or Catalan.
  • Catalan nationalism doesn´t really represent all Catalan people (i.e., all people living in Catalonia) but only those who actually want to separate the people within Catalonia in between “real Catalans” and “not Catalans”. Them against us. The problem of Catalan independence or not is not a problem of the streets, where people speak Spanish, Catalan and English anyway, but artificially created by certain politicians.

4. “The representative of the ERC”

I have to state, as the man himself clearly stated, that he was not an official ERC politician. Originally, a real ERC politician was invited but in the end couldn´t come. So this man, a member of the ERC and a voluntary worker within that party, came instead.
Also, he voted actually against the Statute as well, because he favours a real Catalan independence and not a fake one.
The main things he said:

  • Not the Catalans, but the Spanish have a problem with their identity. They insist on everything being Spanish.
  • (Godwin alert) Imagine England had been invaded by Germany 300 years ago. That they would have been tortured, killed, denied their language, and finally had to live under Adolf Hitler for 40 years. And finally now, the English have some kind of democracy and are allowed to speak their language but are still controlled by Berlin. Imagine that… (At this point, a woman in the audience shouted that this was a ridiculous comparison and why didn´t he choose Wales versus England instead).
  • (Corollary-to-Godwin alert) Imagine a woman had been sexually, physically and psychologically abused by a man for years and years. Would she want to live with that man later on, even when the man later turned out nice?

I admit that after this last comparison I stopped taking the man seriously and I am not sure he might or might not have said anything interesting afterwards.


After this, there was time for questions from the audience. Some questions of the more interesting ones:

  • A girl (from outside Spain) said she travelled a lot and always tried to speak the local language and learn about local customs in the country where she is. She asked the (meant to be rhetorical) question: would someone who works in London only speak Chinese?

-> Foncuberta answered: of course it was good to learn about Catalan language and culture. But it shouldn´t be imposed. And, of course, in a country it might be more practical to speak the local language, but if one doesn´t, then that´s up to that person and not up to the government. Someone can open a Chinese-speaking restaurant in London (and maybe not get any clients) without getting fined by the government. (He could have mentioned Chinatown in New York where all texts are in Chinese and nobody obliges them to put it in another language.)

  • A British girl wondered whether things – in actual practice – were really so bad as the Statute seems to make it. For instance, in actual practice, would an Irish person really be forbidden to work in an Irish pub here in Barcelona?

> Both Foncuberta as Ablett were quick to point out that indeed, these sort of things are already happening: people are actually fined for starting a business here in Barcelona and putting the name only in English or Spanish, without translating it in Catalan. A English second-hand bookshop couldn´t be just called “Ye Olde Bookshop”, but instead, should have the text in Catalan as well.


Now, I have to admit to having two weak points: one, I hate speaking in public and two, I cannot listen, speak and think at the same time. That´s why only on the metro-ride back home, little by little, I came up with my own conclusion. Of course, having an opinion afterwards is quiet useless, so the wisest thing would be to just shut up. However, since I am not known for my wisdom, I say a few things:

  • The comparison the ERC guy made, first with evil Germans and later with a rapist was rather gratuitous. But one part of that argument one hears quite often in Catalonia. In the past 300 years, there might have been a lot of dictators, and I´m sure my argument applies just as well to all of them, but let´s take the last one: Franco. Catalan nationalists suggest that the Franco dictatorship was a matter of the Spanish against the Catalans. And that´s, of course, completely not true. Franco was a dictator, who suppressed all of Spain, not just Catalonia. Blaming Spain – and even more to the point: current Spain – for the evils of Franco, does not make sense. Franco violently suppressed the Catalan language, but he also suppressed freedom of speech, homosexuality, socialism, and a lot of other people in other parts of Spain. Should all homosexuals in Spain have an independent country now too? Madrid was actually the last city in Spain that kept on fighting against Franco. On the other hand there were a lot of Catalans in favour of Franco. Being in favour of democracy or in favour of a dictator is not an issue of nationality, language or culture (Spanish against Catalan) but a matter of political preference.
    I was quite pissed off at myself in the metro when I thought of this because I would have loved making this point at the debate.
  • Most Catalans are not aware of this, but almost all other countries in Europe contain groups that speak different languages: the UK has Wales and Scotland, the Netherlands has Friesland and France has a number of regions that speak languages like Occidental, Provencal, Breton, and so on. Instead of the farfetched example of “England been invaded by Germany 300 years ago”, it would have been much easier to take Wales/England as an example (as someone in the audience also pointed out) of a situation where more than one language exists in one single country. (And yes, Welsh people had their sufferings too…).
  • Personally, I think Spain (and that includes Catalonia) has severe problems. It has 15% unemployment. It hardly has any industry except for tourism (which is not really an industry). Prices are equal to those in North-European countries (or higher) but salaries are much lower. There is a severe housing problem. The education is on a very low level. Severe problems. Why waste time on who is who, and who belongs to what? Speak whatever you want, but before separating yourself from the guy next door, please make sure people cannot be thrown out of their houses by the house-owner, people can actually live comfortably, people can actually pay the rent, have a job, live safely in the streets, etc…

As a conclusion, I applaud the initiative of Metropolitan Magazine to organize this debate. The fact that this debate was in English made that the audience was mainly from outside Spain (for that matter: maybe people in Spain should concentrate a bit more on learning English instead of worrying about Catalan versus Spanish), but then again, most readers of the Magazine probably are not Spanish and maybe the debate was meant especially for guirris anyway.

The idea of giving each speaker only 10 minutes was a good idea. The speaker – supposedly – is forced to state his ideas in a concise way. Unfortunately, none of the speakers really did that very well. None of them had a story that was logically constructed on the base of a few clear principles. This probably was the reason that later the discussion didn´t go much beyond the usual emotional and personal experiences, like the civil war (“Don´t mention the war!”) and how awful people can be to other people for speaking in Catalan or Spanish (or in English not well enough). I don´t think all speakers where equally good in presenting their ideas but I certainly thought that the opponents to Catalan nationalism made a much stronger point than its defenders, and I don´t think that´s only because I agree more with them.

Still, the initiative was a good idea, and maybe should be repeated, but in a more organized way. A chairman who would actively take control of the debate might have helped. For my part, I´ll try to be better prepared next time and come up with something brilliant to say before it´s all over.


448 thoughts on “Debate about Catalan Nationalism

  1. Felip

    I wasn’t at the debate.
    The arguments for and against catalan independence are always the same. Some are good, some definitely stupid.
    I hate especially the one that says that Catalonia has never been actually independent. This is simply false. Catalonia became independent in the IXth century when all the catalan counts decided not to obey french kings anymore. It happened because french kings never gave them any help in their struggle against spanish muslim kingdoms. At the beginning they where many independent catalan counties, but they united at the long term in only one: the County of Barcelona that remained an independent and separate state more and more powerfull and rich till, in 1137 the count Ramon Berenguer IV married Peronella, the heir of the kingdom of Aragon (which was much less important than the county of Barcelona) and became King of Aragon. But that didn’t meant any kind of dependence of Catalonia; on the contrary: after that, all the Kings of Aragon till 1516 where catalan people, with catalan names, that ruled from Barcelona writing laws in catalan language for their many counties and kingdoms (namely: the counties of Barcelona and Perpinyà and the kingdoms of Aragon, Mallorca, Valencia, Naples, Sicily and Sardinia) wich maintained a real independence between them, having each of them different laws and separate governments and parliaments. An interesting detail is that when an Aragon king died his heir was crowned first of all as Count of Barcelona and, after that, he made a trip to be crowned king of Aragon in Zaragoza, King of Valencia in Valencia, King of Mallorca in Palma, and so on.
    The southern part of Catalonia was independent again during the Succession War till it loose it in 1714. The only part of Catalonia that has always remained independent since the XIth century is Andorra.
    Being so, Catalonia has been actually independent for centuries and a part of it is independent even now.

    Of course you can compare the catalan situation with a fiction like England being ruled from Berlin or the case of Wales and many others. Why not compare them? Of course they are differences. For instance, Franco was a very clever guy and Hitler was incredibly stupid; England has never been a military dictatorship and Spain has almost always been a military dictatorship or an absolutist kingdom…
    But this is not the point. The point is: why people have to belong to a country they don’t love? Just because two hideous tyrants married in the XVth century? And actually this is the only real reason to remain united five centuries after.
    You can think this is just emotional shit, and in some sense it is. But they are also good reasons to want the independence. The main one is economical: Catalonia has 20% of spanish population that pay more than 27% of the public budget and receive theorically less than its 18%. The worst of it is that spanish government never pays this theorical 18% (i.e. catalan public health sistem is living now on 2005’s budget and don’t expect 2010’s budget to come till 2015 or later!)
    Another practical problem is that being dependent of Spain means being subjected to its public administration wich is the worst shit one can come across. Spanish public administration is probably more kafkian, expensive and useless than any other in the world. So, to become rid of it is a real need, not a sentimental fancy.
    I don’t know whether the severe economical and social problems in Catalonia would disappear or not if we were independent, but surely they won’t as long as we will remain dependent of Spain.

    I don’t think that being nationalist is equal to being fascist or nazi. In fact, I think we must make the difference between two different kinds of nationalism: on one side the imperialist kind, wich wants its country to grow wider at the expense of its neighbours and consequently tends to hate or refuse its neighbours, and on the other side the “localist” one, that tends to ignore its neighbours and to concentrate in itself. Spanish, turkish, serbian, french, english, russian, chinese, hindu, arab, persian or german nationalists use to belong to the first group and scottish, welsh, irish, swiss, sardinian, corsican, tibetan, amazig, basque, sotho, swazi, malgache, albanian, icelandic, estonian, lithuanian or letonian nationalists use to belong to the second group.
    Catalan nationalism is rather queer because it does’nt fit exactly to any of those patterns. Catalan nationalists don’t want to deny the “national rights” of their neighbours, though some of them, according to the History, would like to create a kind of federation with Mallorca and Valencia. And no catalan nationalist pretends that Valencia or Aragon belongs to Catalonia. So they are not imperialists. But on the other hand their are’nt absorbed in their own affairs. Catalan nationalists use to be fond of travelling, knowing other cultures and (wich is more surprising) of admitting foreigners in Catalonia and melting with them.
    Catalan nationalism is exceptionally flexible and tolerant. The only real hard and intolerant nationalism in Catalonia is spanish one. They are lots of spanish nationalists in Catalonia complaining and criticizing catalans because they don’t feel spanish and speak an ugly language they don’t want to learn. So if you are a real anti-nationlist in Catalonia, the nationalism you want to get rid of is spanish, not catalan.
    In may case, even being nationalist, I don’t want spaniards to feel less spanish or frenchies to feel less french (though spanish and french nationalisms are especially ridiculous). I just want them to stop saying me that we catalans have to feel spanish or french. We don’t, I’m sorry, but it’s a fact.
    And please, don’t say many catalans feel spanish or french. If you feel spanish and want to be spanish you are spanish, not catalan. The fact of living in Catalonia doesn’t matter. I could live in Burkina Faso and go on being catalan for the rest of my life, isn’t’it? And I would’nt experience that as a fight against burkinese people.
    Nationalism is almost unavoidable, because almost all the human beings feel like being spanish, catalan, white, jew, or any other identity. So better try to be a “localist” than an “imperialist”, or at least, try to promote “localism” more than “imperialism”.

  2. matxil

    Thanks for your reply. I´ll react later more, because I am a bit pressed for time. There is one thing I forgot to say, and actually might be the most important. You mention it as well. It is the economical aspect.

    If people would stress that more, instead of the “identity” thing which I really don´t understand. (Yes, I am dutch, but as a matter of fact, my country doesn´t really exist. It´s part of Europe now. Does that change my identity? Do I want to share a country with only people that feel Dutch? No.) I think it´s a really bad situation that Catalonia pays more tax but receives less back. I think it´s the one and only real argument, so it amazes me that nobody (from neither sides) hardly ever talks about it.

    As far as I am concerned, this could be a very good reason *for* independence of Catalonia, so it´s a pity few people ever talk about it.

  3. matxil

    I don´t think nationalism is equal to racism or nazism either. I just think it´s silly. I can only react from my point of view. Obviously I am very Dutch: there is no literature I like more than the Dutch one, I prefer eating full-wheat bread with cheese at noon instead of paella, and I don´t like to talk loud (except for when I am drunk). I can cleary see whether a tourist is Dutch or not: I recognize him clearly.
    Still, I know for sure that the Netherlands will disappear, and the Dutch language too. I don´t really care. In that context, I think it would be silly for a Frisian to want his independence. If Dutch is going to disappear, how will Frisian survive? In the same way I don´t believe in Welsh, Occidental or Catalonian independence. I am not even against it. Go ahead and be independent if you want to. I just think it´s silly. You might have more in common with someone born in Vic than with someone born in Cordoba, but in the end you have little in common with both.

    Again, the only true and valid argument I can see is: Catalonia pays more tax than it receives back. Fight against that! You might actually win that battle!

    Another point: of course you might make comparisons with Hitler or raped women. Do what you want. But it´s false, and so in the end, your argument gets weaker. All spanish people suffered from Franco, not just the catalans.

    If an independent Catalonia would have a better housing system, a better education level, better salaries, less traffic, more green, I would be all for Catalan independence. With one extra condition: that everyone is allowed to speak whatever he want and sell his products in whichever language he wants, and as long as Catalonia will be bilingual. Up till now, I haven´t heard any catalan nationalist making a strong case for that.
    For instance, what do you think when you read this article: ?
    You can imagine what I think…

  4. Felip

    In few words: you don’t feel nationalist at all. You inherited (by the mean of education, not genetically I presume) some typical dutch behaviours and you feel good with them, but you don’t think they are some kind of sacred thing you have to preserve at any price.
    You’re very lucky. You didn’t have to stand from your tenderest age silly people pretending things as:
    – Netherlands don’t exist and never have been independent.
    – Dutch language is an ugly and illiterate german dialect.
    – Gouda cheese is a poor quality Cheddar.
    – Flemish language is as different from dutch as chinese is from icelandic
    – The fact you speak sometimes dutch is unnatural, it’s a threat against hochdeustch’s future and a lack of respect for german people’s rights.
    – Johan Cruyff is just a fiction character in a catalan cartoon.
    – Willem van Oranje was a spanish traitor (born in Malaga and named “Guillermo Naranjo”) that divided the Netherlands from Spain to yield them to France after.
    – Dutch people never have built dikes or polders, on the contrary, their country is growing narrower every year because their policy against sea floods is disastrous.
    – Dutch people never wore clogs. They were barefoot till American soldiers teach them the use of shoes in 1945.
    – Dutch are miser, distrustful and coward…
    Those are the kind of comments catalans have to suffer from childhood.

    The economical problem is known by every catalan independentist and we often talk about it. But TV, radio and papers never show that side of our claims. It’s easier and more fit with widespread prejudices to depict us as irresponsible unrealistic and intolerant people.

    I agree with you when you say it’s stupid to fine shopkeepers that don’t label things in catalan. But I have to add that it rarely happens. Papers say it happened sometimes, but I don’t know any real case. What I know is that lots of shops and almost all factories label everything in spanish and almost nothing in catalan. Even so, I don’t think fining them is a good idea. But it could be worst: in France you are fined even for labelling in french with grammar or spelling mistakes.

    Let’s talk about that Albert Rivera’s article.
    It’s the typical Ciutadans’s line of argument. Many things are true, but others are just half-true and others are plain lies.
    The fact is nobody seriously complained of the low catalan level of Cruyff. Many football players in catalan selection don’t speak catalan at all and nobody worries of that. I don’t think the radio speaker comment was a disqualification at all. It was more like saying “You have lived more than 30 years in Catalonia and you don’t speak catalan? what happens to you? other people learn it in few months”. I think it’s a pertinent comment: I would be ashamed of living 30 years in Bombay and not knowing a single word of maharati, even when I know one can easily live there using only english and perhaps understanding a little bit of hindi. I would’nt mind if maharati has a bright future as a language or not.
    The anecdote of translating the Nicaragua delegation is true and, of course, I think it was stupid. You know, politicians are fond of spending public money in useless ways, so why not translating Nicaragua’s people speech to catalan? They also advertise elections, travel around the world promoting impossible winter olympic games and so on.
    It’s also true that you need a minimal catalan language level to teach in a catalan university. It’s a pity. But it’s exactly the same that happens in spanish or french universities. Saramago or Vargas Llosa can’t teach spanish literature in catalan universities just like Doris Lesssing or Le Clézio could’nt teach english or french literature in a spanish university. And, sincerely, I doubt any british or american university would let Kenzaburo Oe to teach literature in japanese.
    And then he (Albert Rivera) plainly lies when he says most of catalan people’s usual language is spanish. This is a statment with no ground. It was probably so in the 70’s in Barcelona area, when more of 60% of its population was spanish immigrant. But our demography is very different nowadays. Now, exclusively spanish speakers are become a minority between, on one side usual catalan speakers and on the other side overseas immigrants that use to speak arab, urdu or chinese. And when you leave Barcelona area you can easily see that catalan is the usual conversation language.
    Some people can’t understand our society is changing very quickly and tend to cling to their youth’s clichés. They can’t accept the fact that in our society spanish is losing more ground than catalan faced with new immigration.

    I think the problem with so called “non nationalists” when you talk about independentism is you always put it unconciously in a biased way. You accept without discussion, as an axiom, that independentists are creating false problems when they try to reach independence. But why not putting it in another way? why not saying unionists are creating false problems when they try to keep united the country? Both points of view are possible.
    And when you compare them, which of both obsessions is more stupid? Which of them is less important when real problems as economics, education, immigration, etc. are to be solved? Don’t say spanish people are not obsessed with their “sacred unity”, because they are. Even when unity had turned out to become a curse, namely in the case of Basque Country, they have given always priority to Spain unity. They never tried to rationally face the problem. They liked more to blame terrorism and doing nothing to find a practical solution. If Spain had left Basque Country to become independent in the seventies, when most of the basque population was for it, they would have avoided more than 800 human victims and major economical problems as basque industry restructuring. Perhaps it would have been less good for basque people, but it would have been safer and cheaper for Spain, without any doubt. But don’t tell them, they’ll get angry with you: they don’t mind safety or riches. They want Spain to be united over any other account. They are ready to become impoverished, to suffer dictatorship and even to die (and let other people die) just for the sake of Spain “sacred unity”. Do you think this is wiser than struggling for an independence that perhaps won’t solve any problem but that perhaps would be a chance to solve them all?

  5. matxil

    1. Do I feel nationalist?

    No, I don´t feel nationalist at all. I don´t think my identity is defined by being Dutch and eating bread with cheese. I don´t think I have much in common with a Dutchman from 200 years ago, and so, I don´t believe in some static “national identity”. Identities change, influenced by other identities. Defining a static identity on the base of some history is self-delusion.
    I can understand that you hate the spanish nationalism and fake sense of unity. But your solution, “Catalan identity” is just another illusion. Much like people who don´t like life and so they invent a God to make it seem better.
    And no, I certainly don´t think I should preserve “Dutch identity”. Of course not. Preserve for whom? In 200 years, people will talk a completely different kind of Dutch or – more likely – no Dutch at all. Do you think I care?

    2. The things people say.

    Yes, Catalans have been treated badly. So have the Welsh, the Andalucians, the Frisians, and a large etc. Defining a common identity on the base of having suffered is not a very sane thing to do (although a very common thing). That´s why Israel exists, for instance. It´s an illusion.
    Jokes about Catalans… Well, do you really think there are no jokes about the Dutch? Maybe people won´t say Holland does not exist (they will say Frisian does not exist however), but jokes about our ggggggggrgrgrgrgr language, our clogs, our tulips, our red light district, our drugs…
    Willem van Oranje for us was hero, for you he was a terrorist, of course. And the other way around: for us the Duke of Alba (we say Alva by the way) is a evil bastard, for you he´s a great guy. History… It´s really silly looking back to these things. I don´t care what people say about Willem van Oranje. Germans think we are a silly old country and they are absolutely right. We think so about the Belgians.

    3. Albert Rivera´s article

    You mention one lie from his article: that most people in Catalunya are Spanish speakers. You admit that maybe that used to be like that, but in the past years that has changed: that actually the Spanish is decreasing and Catalan has increased. Funny, because isn´t that just exactly what the Ciutadans are complaining of? Why has Catalan increased? Some spontaneous urge of the people? Some inborn common desire? Or maybe it´s because of Puyol´s politics of actively and artificially promoting Catalan? There is something very artificial about promoting one language in favour of another. That´s what most guirris notice when they arrive here. Some artificial “identity” not that different from fake folkcloric movements in Eastern Europe or “back to my roots” sentiments of certain hippie movements (let´s dance naked around Stonehenge and find our celtic culture back).

    4. “They began”

    In physics, this is called: “action is reaction”. It´s a none-argument. Yes, Spanish nationalism is bad. So get rid of it. Make sure you don´t pay too much taxes. Speak the language that you want: Catalan, Gallego, English, whatever. But stop going on about an identity that doesn´t exist (and never existed, just as the “Dutch identity” or “the English identity” or “the Spanish identity” does not exist) and stop artificially promoting your language out of fear that if not, it will disappear. Catalan will disappear. Dutch will disappear. Latin has disappeared. That´s what happens to languages. And that´s what happens with (imaginary) “cultural identities”. Even more so when they are kept alive artificially.

    I am not opposed to Catalan independence. I am opposed to the nationalist sentiments and the talk about “cultural identity”.

    5. post-scriptum

    A few years ago, the very Dutch princess (daughter of an Argentinian junta minister), married to our prince van Oranje (although not really related to Willem van Oranje, and moreover from German ancestry) said: “A one and only Dutch culture does not exist”. She was right, of course, but you can imagine how lots of nationalist Dutch people thought about that! They got very upset. As they are upset about the increasing number of women wearing veils (very un-dutch), the number of mosques (very not-Dutch) and the number of shawarma restaurants (very un-Dutch). They want to go back to the old typical Dutch culture: christian values (judeo-greek-roman origin), potatoes (from latin america), tulips (from Turkey) and a Dutch language that – indeed – has its roots in classical German and a Frisian language that has its roots in Scandinavian languages. They – in short – believe in something that never existed. Definitions are limiting. Don´t allow others to define you, but don´t define yourself either. In the end: you have more in common with a well-read 21st century intellectual from Madrid or Berlin, than with a 19th century ignorant peasant from Vic.

  6. matxil

    What would I do when Germans would first prohibit Dutch and later more or less allow it, but ridiculise it at the same time and saying that it´s not really a language?

    I would be very much tempted to speak Dutch on purpose when in Germany, and I would be very upset about other people telling me how to speak. I might find other people who would think like me. We would meet and talk in Dutch and very much agree with each other. And within weeks I would be very annoyed by these people. So much, that I would end up speaking German when I was with them, as much as Dutch when I am with the German. The idea of forming part of a movement of like-minded people would so horrify me, that in end I would prefer to be part of a Germany that I am sure I wouldn´t identify with.

    I think I know myself well enough to recognize myself in the above. As a matter of fact, whenever I am in Holland and there is some World/Europe football cup going on, I am in favour of Germany, because I can´t stand the Dutch sentiments about their team. Small detail maybe, but I think it says much about me. Apparantly there is more to me than just “a Dutch identity”.

    1. Anonymous

      Thank you Matxil,
      The concern should be about the economy, the low level of education, low wages and how the Catalonia would adjust if it went independant. Would they still expect money from Spain? How would they communicate with investor in this new global environment? These are the essence of what a Nation should have as a good arguement for separating. So far it sounded like crying babies fighting over a lollipop. Knowing yourself is respecting yourself and therefore and only then will others respect you.

  7. Charles Ablett

    I am sorry to say that I have only just found this thread, and I must say that it has been very interested to read the synopsis of my speech (I was the first speaker) and the comments that have ensued.

    Knowing that I was to be the first speaker, I felt that an english-speaking audience needed to know at least a little bit of what the law ACTUALLY SAYS. It is my experience that the vast majority of catalan citizens have NO IDEA as to what the legislation provides for and are for or against the Staute on emotional ground on the basis, to put it bluntly, of what their newspaper tells them that it represents.

    For this reason I dedicated nearly ten minutes to giving a brief overview of the Statute and I emphasised the fact that it is a Spanish Law passed by the Spanish parliament and that it basically determines which of the state’s administrative functions can be devolved to the catalan administration, which is, of course, an intrinsic part of the spanish administration.

    I was also extremely carefull NOT to equate Nationalism with facism or racism. I did point out what is blindingly obvious to any historian, namely that Nationalism ALWAYS operates on the basis of discrimination – you are either a fervorent supporter of the cause or you are it’s enemy, to be discriminated against. As I pointed out to the President of Omnium Cultural the other week after a debate on the Sentence of the TC, Catalan Nationalism uses some very emotionally charged words to describe those seen as opposing an independent Catalan state, such as Fascist, Colonist, Invader, Españolista, Xarnego and so on. She agreed with me on this point. I also emphasised my view that the catalan language should be encouraged, but NEVER imposed, as this is almost always counter-productive.

    I quite understand those who wish to be independent (quite frankly, both Zapatero and Rajoy are appalling politicians to have to choose between) and an independent Catalonia *might* function better.

    What terrifies me is Nationalism and all that it represents; an ideology that came into existence at the beginning of the 18th century and which should have died a death in the 20th along with it’s near relative, Imperialism.

    It is not the function of a public administration to discriminate against a citizen on the basis of gender, colour, creed or mother language. As I pointed out in my speech, which can be found on YouTube or on the Metropolitan’s web-site, the discrimination that the Estatut imposes is contrary to European Law, UNESCO declarations and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, as was confirmed only a couple of weeks ago by the report by the US State Department.

    I may amplify my position in further comments to this page; for the moment I would just like to hope that Felip reads a little bit more of catalan history and rather less of catalan mythology.

  8. matxil

    Dear Charles.

    First of all, thanks for replying to my article and the reactions that followed. I apologize that my summary wasn’t completely correct in as far as the accusation of using “Godwins” goes. Your reply has set that right. As I pointed out, it was especially the ERC representative who was guilty of that.

    I agree a 100% with your point of view as you state in your message. Personally, I find nationalist sentiments (any kind of nationalist sentiments, whatever the nationality might be) very appalling. I can understand (as you also say) that catalans are fed up with the spanish government. I could even understand it if they preferred a smaller scale government, closer at home. But their insistence on some kind of mythological identity based on “being catalan”, I find ridiculous and unpleasant.

    It would be interesting to know what Felipe has to say about this, since he’s a fervent supporter of Catalan independence, but – also – a very intelligent guy who has a lot of knowledge about history.

  9. Felip

    Dear Charles, when you say “Nationalism ALWAYS operates on the basis of discrimination” I think you are doing a big mistake. I know this is a sacred principle of internationalist mythology but, as other dogmas, I don’t think it’s based on any objective statement.
    In my opinion, the basis of nationalism is the sense of belonging to a group. That’s all. You can add many other feelings, ideas and attitudes on it, or not.
    You now, I could perfectly be considered a “xarnego”, because my grand father was “gallego” grown in Puerto Rico and my grand mother was colombian. I don’t mind. Let’s consider me a “xarnego”. It’s OK for me. I will go on feeling catalan and being openly for independence. You would be amazed of the number of independentist “xarnegos”.
    I always felt they are two main groups of nationalism which are so different that you can perfectly consider them as opposites, as I explained before: the imperialist and the localist nationalism.
    Perhaps you need to read less modern opinions and go more to the originals.
    Spanish, as turkish or chinese nationalisms belongs to the imperialist group and catalan, sardinian, sami or inuit nationalisms belong to the second group.
    You see easily the difference with a simple example:
    Spanish nationalists get really angry when you say you feel catalan but no spanish, just a chinese nationalists get angry with tibetans that feel tibetan but not chinese.
    In oppositon to them, no catalan gets angry when a spanish says he feels spanish but no catalan, as no tibetan gets angry with chinese people that feel chinese but no tibetan.
    I think this is a very big difference, and that it’s worth to consider it.
    I agree with you when you talk about voter’s ignorance of laws. I think it’s a general problem in our nowadays society. But it’s not my case. I voted against the new catalan Estatut, as I voted against the European Constitution because I read them before and found them both really bad.

    Then I would like you to explain me which is the false historical fact I explained. I think all the statements I exposed in April 10 2010 are historical, not mythology. I’m not repeating nationalist propaganda. I have read lots of history, and many original texts as the “Cròniques” (“Llibre dels feits”, Ramon Muntaner…). Did you?

  10. matxil

    Everyone considers oneself as part of a group: a favourite football team, a rock group, a religion, a fashion style, a culture. I don´t see how you can say that “belonging to a group” does not lead to discrimination. “Belonging to a group” by definition is already a form of discrimination (them and us).

    You say “catalan nationalism” is not imperialist. That would be true if catalans just wanted to identify themselves with some (mythological) culture. The problem is they also want to claim a piece of ground as “theirs” (i.e. belonging to that culture). That´s where discrimination comes in.
    What happens to all the people who live there and who do not identify themselves with catalan culture? Why do they have to suffer because others need to believe in a myth? And who decides what is catalan culture and what not? Children with moslim or Chinese parents that are born here (and speak Catalan at school) are part of Catalan culture or not? What do they have in common with Pujol (the football player or the politician)?
    Catalans don´t mind that the Spanish don´t feel Catalan, but they do mind if someone in “their” Catalan territory does not feel Catalan.

    (Note: when I say myth, I am refering to any kind of culture, not just the Catalan one, also the Spanish or the Dutch or the whatever). Feeling part of a group (any group) is always a myth, a self-delusion, but maybe inevitable in order to survive. But the idea that other people have to live according to your myths, is where the problem starts. (The fact that you suffer from the Spanish myth, should help you to understand what I mean).

    The solution would be to divide Europe in parts that could be easily governed and forget about all that culture/tradition/folklore bullshit.

  11. Charles Ablett i Rocamora

    Felip, I haven’t read el Llibre dels Fets, though I studied extensively the period when I was preparing an article on the Almoghavers for an english history magazine, but of course I have read Muntaner, both the excellent english translation by Lady Goodenough and the catlana original.

    As a historian, I recognise that many of the discrepancies in interpretation of historical facts arise from the natural tendency to view historical events from a modern-day framework and with modern-day standards. This leads to crass errors and should be avoided at all costs. If we ignore the contemporary cultural and social aspects of an era and superimpose our own, modern-day structures then we do ourselves a disservice. For example, by todays standards, the Almoghavers were a bloodthirsty bunch of mercenary adventurers. The historical reality is very different, as you know.

    For this reason we should be extremely wary of using the word Nation to describe ANYTHING before 1706, date of the Treaty of Union that created Great Britain. Nationalism is an even later invention (Napoleonic wars). Territories were called empires, kingdoms, principalities and so on and had a liege lord to whom subordinate lords sweared allegiance.

    As you rightly say, the catalan counts of the Hispanic March initially and later the Kings of Aragon increasingly ignored their sovereign, the king of France. However, the King of France was de jure their sovereign lord up until the Treaty of Corbeil of 1258. To say that Catalonia was an independent Nation before that time is nonsense. Kingdoms changed shape and size with nearly every royal wedding, giving rise to the currently widely accepted myth that the Països Catalans includes every single bit of land that once had a liege lord who sweared fealty to the King of Aragon. Much of your historical interpretation is along similar lines.

    I have nothing against people wanting Catalonia to be an independent state, (well, yes, I think it would be a terible mistake economically), but I abhor those who wish to impose the catalan language and culture on individual citizens and private companies, partly because I consider it unethical (Franco tried someting similar) and partly because it creates harmful divisions in our society.

    Very evidently, the cultural nationalism in Catalonia has little in common with the imperialistic nationalism we have suffered from in the past; however, exalting a ‘NATION’ is a way of making the common people subservient to a blinkered world-view where what is important is the Nation and Patria and not human rights. Thus catalan Nationalism justifies the catalan-only education system even when it has been described as contravening human rights by the US State Department and many others, and despite the fact that it has led to a greatly increased school failure rate ( see PISA report 2003). Could we have a dose of Finnish-style nationalism instead? Our education system desperately needs it!

    1. Felip

      Reply to Machiel:
      If catalans worried for people living and Catalonia that don’t feel catalan, they would be awfully worried, because the fact is a big number of the people that lives in Catalonia don’t feel catalan at all.
      We know that, and it’s OK for us. We are no killing spaniards, not even talking of nonsense as “ratial purity”.
      We just want to feel catalan in Catalonia. And some people, inside and outside Catalonia don’t want us to feel so.

      1. matxil

        Except for some idiots from the PP, I think most people don’t care if you want to feel Catalan. What worries some people is that people want to make Catalonia independent, and impose rules about what language to talk and how to feel and etc. etc. If you think that an independent Catalonia will behave nicely to people who don’t feel Catalan, I think you are a bit naive. Catalans might be different but you are still human beings, aren’t you? And human behaviour, will always lead to discrimination when organized in groups. Only today I read that now, professors that want to teach English or French at universities first need a level C in Catalan. You are already the worst English speakers of Europe, and this measure will not help. It’s so provincial, so backwarded, so ridiculous.

        Apart from that, personally I am not even worried. I am just annoyed by all that “our culture/tradition/our-kind-of-people” talk. I can’t believe that in the 21 century people are still that irrational. It’s a myth. You can’t unite people on any basis, and certainly not on the base of some fictional “common history” or “common culture” or on any of those sentimental artificial constructions.

        But by any means, of course, you can feel whatever you feel like.

  12. Charles Ablett i Rocamora

    Quick post:- Xavier Sala i Martí, ardent catalan nationalist, Professor of Economics at Yale, Harvard and Columbia, has posted in his blog that he will stop giving classes to the University of Pompeu i Fabra if they introduce the mandatory Level C requirement.

    It would appear that he is in agreement with Albert Rivera, who said yesterday on TV3 that catalan should be encouraged but not imposed.

  13. Felip

    Reply to Charles:

    It’s funny, you insist on the fact that “nation” is a modern concept. I don’t agree with this totally but I understand your point of view. It would be a too long discussion. In fact, the only thing you can properly say is that modern conception of “nation” is modern. But you can trace its origins till Ancient Egypt. But I don’t think this is the point. Just re-read the historical part of my messages and you will notice I NEVER talked about Catalonia as an INDEPENDENT NATION. I just stated that Catalan Counts acted in fact as independent Counts for centuries, that Andorra (a part of Catalonia) has been undisputably independent for centuries and that during the Succession War, Catalonia and Valencia acted as an independent modern state for some years (King Charles minted money, had a court, an army, etc). So, you simply cannot say Catalonia has never been independent. That’s all.
    In any case, even when I don’t think it’s important at all, bercause (I insist) I wasn’t talking about NATION, I would like to state that some hints of nationalism are even easy to find in Ramon Muntaner. I don’t remember where or how he wrote it exactly (I read it more than 15 years ago), but I remember he devoted half a page or so of his “Crònica” to explain that Catalans are a fantastic people which is the same and speaks the same language all over the King’s possessions, unlike others like Castilians, Italians or French that were divided in local factions and spoke different dialects in every village. In any case, I remember the comment looked surprisingly like modern nationalism to me. I also remember Pere el Cerimoniós in his “Crònica” talking about traitor Aragonese and faithfull Catalans, or showing his love for Catalonia when he reached Fraga after coming from Zaragoza. That sounded also like catalan nationalism in 14th century. Written by a so-called King of Aragon!

    Perhaps I’m misunderstanding some of your explanations (you know, my english is awfully bad), but I suspect you are saying all the noblemen and cities in that territory were vassals to the King of Aragon. If you really said so, you need to learn a little bit more. Some were vassals to the King of Aragon, other to the Count of Barcelona, other to the King of Valencia, etc, which usually happened to be the same person. It usually was so, but not always. As an example: when Jaume I died, his son Pere inherited some titles and his son Jaume inherited other titles. What happened then? Vassals of the King of Aragon sweared fealty to Pere (King of Aragon), but vassals of the Count of Rosselló never did that. On the contrary, they sweared fealty to Jaume, his brother. If you were a little nobleman of Berga, for instance, that didn’t mean you were vassal to the King of Aragon, but to the Count of Barcelona which happened to be also King of Aragon, Valencia, Sicily, Sardinia and other places. I know it’s a strange logic, but it’s how things worked then.
    You also say Catalan Counts were vassals to the Kings of France. I don’t now the details, but I bet French Kings claimed this historical right for centuries, as they probably did in the case of William the Conqueror and his descendants. But that doesn’t mean they really were so: in fact William the Conqueror and the Plantagenet dynasty never acted as vassals to the King of France, and it was exactly the same for the Catalan Counts. Theorically they avoided paying taxes and swearing fealty to the King of France because he failed in helping Borrell II against Al-Mansur. But this is probably half-legendary. Most probably, Catalan Counts acted as independent Counts a long time before Borrell II.
    Then you say that the map of the Aragon Crown changed with marriages. Of course it did. But don’t exaggerate, please. Catalan map had remained almost the same after the conquest of Tortosa and Lleida (1149). There have been almost no changes along centuries but for the Pyrenees Treaty and the provincial division under Isabel II. Catalonia map hasn’t been such a mess as German, Italian or French, you must admit it.

    Well, I think it’s enough about nationalism and history. In any case I don’t think they are the main question. Let’s talk of other matters.
    The US State Department is simply wrong (not for the first time, I fear!) about catalan education as it is about many other matters. US State Department opinions aren’t Godspell. In Catalonia, everyone can have his children teached in any language he chooses, provided a school teaching in that language actually exists, of course. Namely, you can have your children teached 100% in French, Italian, English, German or Japanese in Barcelona or next surroundings. I actually was teached 100% in French as I attended to Lycée Français of Barcelona in my schooling period. I don’t know whether it’s a 100% Spanish school in Barcelona or not. Perhaps not. But, if you want one, you can build it with your own funds, just as Japanese community did! Nobody will prevent you to do it.
    I think PISA report criticized the whole Spanish education system, not only the Catalan. I’m sorry, I didn’t read it. Correct me if I’m wrong.
    I agree with you: Catalan public education (as a part of Spanish education system) is a bullshit. I hope we all would have a good system as in Finland.
    I finally don’t agree with you when you say Catalan government is trying to impose Catalan. But if it does so, it’s a total failure, because the fact is Spanish speakers keep on speaking only Spanish and Catalan speakers keep on shifting to Spanish every time a Spanish speaker or a foreigner appears on the stage. So, Spanish speaker’s rights are never harmed in fact. And when I say never I mean never.

  14. Felip

    Machiel, do you really think that just some PP idiots care about catalan people national feelings? You are living somwhere in the outer space, but not in real Spain, I swear you.
    In Spain, and even in many places inside Catalonia, every time a Catalan declares to feel Catalan but not Spanish he is insulted, when not beated. This is a fact we can test scientifically some day.

    I’m not a naive. Catalans are actually behaving nicely with people that don’t feel catalan, with few exceptions. And it’s not because we are such a nice people, it’s just because we are so used to live and share our country with people that don’t feel catalan and that even admit openly to hate catalans and their culture, that we don’t even are shocked with their attitude. It’s just a matter of habit, not of good feelings.

    About Catalan “nivell C”, I really don’t know how are the spanish language requirements to learn something in spanish universities, but I bet that french requirements to learn in french universities are much harder than “nivell C”, but nobody complains about it.
    My question is; why on the earth you feel so surprised of catalan universities to request a minimal and awfully easy catalan language abilities to their teachers but see as a natural thing that other countrie’s universities have their own language requirements? Of course it would be great if a teacher could teach Sophistic in swahili at the University of Stockholm. But do you really think that phenomenon will happen some day? You have to admit it: if you want to teach in Greece you have to know Greek, and if you want to teach in Ecuador you have to know Spanish. It’s a fact you simply can’t ignore. Of course you can teach in english in many places around the world. But simply try to do it in any spanish university: the result will be that no students will come to your class and they will complain against you and try to force you to teach plainly in “cristiano”.

    1. matxil

      I leave the historic facts for you two guys to discuss. I am not an expert in that field. I do know though, that a dutchman of 500 years ago has nothing to do with a dutch person nowaways, and any “dutch nationalism” (which unfortunately exists too) is based on myths, full of “orange royal families” (germans), christmas trees (german again) and Piet Hein (we would call him a “terrorist” nowadays). Justify the present because of heroes of the past…, it simply is not my piece of cake…

      However, I can answer your next comment:

      > but see as a natural thing that other countrie’s universities have their
      > own language requirements? Of course it would be great if a teacher
      > could teach Sophistic in swahili at the University of Stockholm. But do
      > you really think that phenomenon will happen some day?

      I do not know about Sweden, but in the Netherland, a profesor in English languages at the university does not have to speak Dutch (let alone Frisian, Limburgs, Gronings, Tukkers, or Zeeuws). Obviously. If I have to choose to study English from a native speaker who does not know Dutch, and a Dutch guy who does speak a bit of English, I choose the first. Besides, there is no such thing as a level C in Dutch.

      I didn´t study English though. I studied physics. At a Dutch university. And – again – I had teachers from Germany, Denmark, the U.S. Obviously, obviously, nobody ever expected them to know one thing about Dutch. I think the word “university” has the same linguistic root as “universal”, right?
      By the way, I applied for a physics master here in Catalunya as well, and as a matter of fact all courses were given in English. Apparantly, even in Catalunya at least scientists are well aware that put linguistical restrictions on their professors would seriously damage the quality of their scientific program.

  15. Charles Ablett i Rocamora

    Felip, you have managed the feat of getting almost all your historical interpretations completely wrong. You may have studied in the Lyceé Francaise (as do the children of Artur Mas!) but you obviously haven’t majored in History. The idea of Nations in Ancient Egytian of Feudal times is laughable and the root cause of catalan mythology. Peasants were vassals of their leige lords, who in turn sweared fealt to their counts, who were in turn vassals of the King, who may in turn have sweared fealty to an Emperor or a different King, a chain of personal obligations. The FIRST thing that happened at the coronation of each new king (in Aragon and elsewhere) was that the nobles had to renew their aliegance to the crown in the form of an oath of fealty to the new king. That is how a kingdom was defined and this has nothing to do with the concept of Nation or nationality, both of which gradually came into being as a result of the treaties of Utrecht, 1713.
    Counts, in Catalonia and elsewhere, were nearly all powerful in their domains, at least until gunpowder weapons gave the respective crown a means by which the king could impose his will on recalcitrant counts (see english medieval history for examples). For this reason aliegance was on a peronal basis and not on the basis of forming part of some nation.

    You say that Catalonia acted as an independent nation during the War of Succession. That is simply not true. Many catalan towns and nobles fought for Phillip V, while both Barcelona AND Madrid fought for the Hapsburg, who was crowned King of Spain in a MADRID cathedral, in 1708 I think it was.

    Remember that the catalan troops who fought at the battle of Almansa fought for Phillip, while a large part of the defenders of Barcelona were castillians. Remember also that the catalan nobles had sweared aleigance to Phillip V and then (most) changed their aliegance to the Archduke after his (english) troops captured Barcelona in 1705.

    You say the catalan map didn’t change much after Tortosa. I talked about the territories some catalanists consider to be Paísos Catalans, which changed enormously after Tortosa. Provence, Rosellon, Montpelier (birthplace of Jaume I) were all added to the Aragonese crown as a result of marriages, and the accumulation of power and vassals by the counts of Barcelona was almost exclusively based on strategic matrimonies.

    You say that there are schools in Catalonia that teach in Spanish; correct but very few and all of them private and extremely expensive. There is one where I live, among whose pupils is one of Montilla’s children (the other two are in the German school). In Finland, if a community has more than a 5% of swedish speakers in it’s community, it is obliged to provide schooling in swedish. Unesco also recommends that ALL children receive their education in their mother language (look up International Mother language Day in google). Th Europena Union has also published many declarations in support of the right to be taught in one’s mother tongue. The universal Declaration of Human Rights also mentions the basic human right for parents to have a say in their children’s education. The US State Department has, in consonnance with just about EVERY international institution, declared that in Catalonia, human rights are NOT being respected in this regard. Like it or lump it.

    With the new Codi de Consum, a shop or small business can be fined up to 1 MILLION Euros if it does not have everything at least in Catalan. That is IMPOSITION. My child, when she wanted to go to the toilet, was told by her teacher that he would only give permission if she asked in Catalan. That is IMPOSITION. Cinemas are obliged to have at least half their shows in Catalan. That is IMPOSITION. Many official documents, such as for enrolling your children at a school, are only available in practice in catalan. That is IMPOSITION. And this causes a reaction against catalan in many, many people. And this is BAD. Repression does not eliminate a language, it encourages it to flourish, as is happening now – Spanish has ousted catalan as the language of the playground, and the language laws are causing greater and deeper divisions in our society.

    I love catalan, which I learned in England aged 14, and I have level ‘C’ because I love the language and not because I need it, but I clearly see the need for catalan to be encouraged, not imposed, for the simple reason that IMPOSITION is counter-productive, harms the long-term future of catalan and promotes cultural divisions and repressive laws in what used to be the most liberal and progressive part of Spain, if not Europe.

  16. Felip

    I didn’t study Middle Age History but Ancient History, and when I say you can trace the origins of our nowadays concept of Nation (do we have a single concept nowadays?) we can trace it till Ancient Egypt. It’s clear. Obviously it wasn’t the same concept then (I never pretended it was) But our modern concepts come in a certain degree from theirs. Denying this is simply stupid; it’s like denying the fact that you can trace the origins of our modern concept of love till the 12th century trobadour poetry or even before.
    They were many outbursts of something like nationalism along the Middle Age. You have to know. With Jeanne d’Arc for instance, I don’t know how people felt. but I now that, suprisingly, the concept of french hating english appeared. This is a first stage of nationalism. Arab nationalism is very easy to feel also. You see, when the muslim expansion ocurred, very different people united under a concept that icnluded: religion (mainly), language, and an “arab” identity. But most of them (I don’t now the rate… 90% perhaps?) didn’t came from arab tribes, but were egyptian, amazig, mesopotamian, syrian, spanish… In just one generation they become “arabs”, and they were proud of it. I know it was stupid. But it’s the truth.
    I’m not a specialist in Middle Age but I know enough to be completely sure that many Counts, Dukes and Marquis acted as independent sovereigns without swearing anything at all to any King in the world. And then, what do you think about William the Conqueror? Wasn’t he a vassal of the King of France? How did he become independent in fact?
    I didn’t say Charles ruled as a King of Catalonia, he acted as a King of Spain. But his court was actually in Barcelona and most of his supporters were catalan or valentian. Madrid was conquered by Charles two times I think and at least one of them followed mainly by the “miquelets” (catalan soldiers). Many catalan nobles and towns (as Cervera) fought for Phillip. But most of the territory was for Charles.
    Catalan map almost never changed after Lleida (one year after Tortosa). I say Catalan. Not Aragon or Provence maps. In fact Aragon map changed a lot. When Llieda was conquered few places south of Zaragoza were a part of the kingdom of Aragon.
    I think it would be OK to teach in every student mother language. The thing I suspect is all of you are asking for education in spanish but not in urdu, arab or italian, which happen to be spoken by more than a 5% of schoolchildren in many Catalan communities. And of course nobody complains of the fact that a catalan child in Madrid has no chance to be taught in catalan. Not even paying an expensive private school. Ok, catalan administration doesn’t respect human rights. Perhaps Finland administration do it. But almost every public administration around the world is doing the same of catalan. So why do you complain of the situation here?
    A shop or a business can be fined if they don’t have everything at least in catalan. I know. I think it’s stupid, but it’s also stupid not doing it. I mean: writing things in catalan is not so difficult! It seems like if translating to catalan were much more difficult or expensive that translating to english. But I really don’t believe fining companies for this reason is a good idea.
    On the other hand, do you know any company fined for this reason? Not me. But I know lots of them that don’t use catalan in any circumstance.
    I agree with you: imposition is not the good way. But you have to agree that catalan needs some support, not because catalans are abandoning its use in a natural way but because the pressure to use more and more spanish is overwhelming, and if some aspects of this pressure are natural, other are also imposition.

  17. matxil

    I leave the historic facts for you two guys to discuss. I am not an expert in that field. I do know though, that a dutchman of 500 years ago has nothing to do with a dutch person nowaways, and any “dutch nationalism” (which unfortunately exists too) is based on myths, full of “orange royal families” (germans), christmas trees (german again) and Piet Hein (we would call him a “terrorist” nowadays). Justify the present because of heroes of the past…, it simply is not my piece of cake…

    However, I can answer your next comment:

    > but see as a natural thing that other countrie’s universities have their
    > own language requirements? Of course it would be great if a teacher
    > could teach Sophistic in swahili at the University of Stockholm. But do
    > you really think that phenomenon will happen some day?

    I do not know about Sweden, but in the Netherland, a profesor in English languages at the university does not have to speak Dutch (let alone Frisian, Limburgs, Gronings, Tukkers, or Zeeuws). Obviously. If I have to choose to study English from a native speaker who does not know Dutch, and a Dutch guy who does speak a bit of English, I choose the first. Besides, there is no such thing as a level C in Dutch.

    I didn´t study English though. I studied physics. At a Dutch university. And – again – I had teachers from Germany, Denmark, the U.S. Obviously, obviously, nobody ever expected them to know one thing about Dutch. I think the word “university” has the same linguistic root as “universal”, right?

    By the way, I applied for a physics master here in Catalunya as well, and as a matter of fact all courses were given in English. Apparantly, even in Catalunya at least scientists are well aware that put linguistical restrictions on their professors would seriously damage the quality of their scientific program.

  18. Charles Ablett i Rocamora

    Matxil, I would love to get together with you some time soon for a couple of beers and a chat. Maybe this Saturday? Could you send me a private to

    Felip, Ancient Egypt was tribal based, not nationalist-based, and imperialistic in nature. The Arab conquest had nothing to do with nationalism and everything to do with religious expansion and cultural imperialism. William the Conqueror was Edward the Confessor’s chosen heir. Many french dukes, including those of Normady and Burgundy, owed allegiance (were vassals) to the English throne and not the french. Remember that Henry V married the daughter of the King of France and their son was crowned King of England AND France, which didn’t stop the french from ‘illegally’ declaring somebody else ‘King of France’ Charles was NEVER King of Catalonia, but he was crowned King of Aragon a couple of years before he was crowned King of Spain, and his wife remained as Regent of the Crown of Aragon when he went to Vienna to assume his father’s imperial throne. Counts and Dukes ALWAYS owed allegiance to a superior lord, however independently they acted; A full list of the THOUSANDS of shops fined for incompliance of the language laws is easy to find, but not so the number of businesses who have been threatened, may well run into the tens of thousands. Thankfully, the Constitutional Tribunal has made it absolutely clear that the catalan language may NOT be imposed either on individuals or on businesses, so expect the catalan government to start handing back the fines imposed.

    However, it is probably too late to stop the hemorrage of jobs and the flight of businesses from Catalonia. From being the major contributor to Spains economy wehave gone to being Spain’s major producer of unemployment; see

    With regards to schooling, catalans long ago recognised that the fact that their children were being taught in a language that was not their mother-tongue was a major factor behind the dismal shool results obtained by children whose parents were catalan-speakers. FRANCESC CAMBÓ said “No se le quite al niño la lengua que le es propia, porque ello es quitarle el carácter.” Senador JOSEP BENET i MORELL said in his book (Combat per una Catalunya autónoma, 1980):-“se tortura a nuestros niños durante los primeros años de escuela aprendiendo en una lengua que no es la materna” (referring to children FORCED to learn in spanish). the UNESCO says “es axiomàtic que el millor mitjà per educar un nen es la llengua materna” and has even declared the 21st of february as International Mother-Language Day.

    However, the fact that Catalonia has just about the worst school failure rate in the UE 25 does not bother our nationalist polititians, who are far more interested in creating a nation than in educating the next generation. It is a telling comment that Artur Mas sends his children to a school that doen NOT use catalan AT ALL as a vehicular language. A prominent local ERC polititian sends HIS children to the German school, where catalan is only a voluntary asignature.

    All this goes to prove that Nationalism is just a get-rich-quick method employed by unscrupulous politicians who desire power, even at the cost of creating a deep and worrying schism in the very heart of our society.

  19. Humanist?

    Oh how I wish I had been at this debate!

    It has only recently dawned on me just how close Nationalism is to Fascism.

    I would like to make a few points:

    1. The main problem that most, if not all foreigners have with Catalan nationalism and, especially, the catalan language, is the relentless imposition of it upon the citizens of Catalunya.
    Despite the fact, like it or not, that Catalunya is currently a part of Spain and all residents have Spanish passports. And despite the fact that an extremely large percentage of citizens prefer to speak in Spanish both at home and at work, the catalan language is forced upon them and, in particular, their children, whether they like it or not.
    Obliging people to do something is an excellent way to make them resent it.

    2. The point made above about ‘Franco = Spain’ in the eyes of many Catalan Nationalists is well made. Many nationalists talk about being oppressed by the Spanish when really the oppression came from franco’s dictatorship and not the majority of the Spanish people. It appears to me as an outsider that almost all of the bad feeling some ‘non-Catalans’ might have towards them is ironically created by the separatist and nationalist attitudes they are constantly reminded of.

    3. The first time I heard the expression ‘immigrant’ referring to someone from another region of Spain I was shocked but I soon came to the realisation that this was the norm here.

    4. I believe that you could say there are two types of nationalism: that of the oppressed and the oppressor. It seems that one can pass from one to the other far too easily sometimes. This certainly seems to be the case here in Catalunya.

    5. A common mistake people make is to confuse pride of who you are and where you are from with being nationalist. I think most Anti-nationalists believe we can live in a diverse and culturally rich world, with different countries and languages, but without nationalist sentiments.

    6. I think it is wrong to say ‘my country’, ‘my language’, ‘my people’. These things are merely ‘where I have spent most of my life’, ‘the language I use to communicate’ and ‘the people I know’.

    7. It seems that the whole nationalist movement is based on fear: fear of losing ones identity. Fear is both a powerful but dangerous political tool.

    I could go on but I really must get to bed!

  20. matxil

    I don’t like comparisons with fascism very much. It seems to me that too many people use the “f-word” (and I don’t mean sex) whenever they disagree with something. Fascism is the idea that people should be governed by a strong leader who cannot be controlled by the people themselves. That all nationalism is fascism, is simply not true.
    Also, nationalism is not typical catalan. It’s also (very much) American, English, French, Dutch… Maybe Germany is one of the few countries who is a bit more careful with nationalist sentiments – for obvious reasons – and even there I am sure people “feel” Bavarian or “Prusian” or “Plat-deutsch” or whatever.

    For the rest, I do agree with you and especially your points 2, 4, 5 and 6. Point 4, which I associate with the physics law of action = reaction. If I would live in Madrid I would react against the anti-catalan/pro-spanish sentiments just as much as I react against catalanism now, living in Barcelona. Just think of how certain people (PP, Ciutadans) tried to politicise the bull-fighting thing as if it was a matter of Catalans versus the Spanish. In a way, it’s Spain that created Catalanism, just as Catalanism creates anti-Catalanism. It’s the same old story, again and again, all over the world and of all times.

    What interests me personally is how people – individuals – can still believe in movements (any movement) that is based on legends, sentiments or abstract notions of “justice”, “the people”, “our rights”, etc… The more we define ourselves as being part of something fixed (a culture, a nation, a tradition, a religion, an ideology, …) the more we isolate ourselves, ironically enough.

    Things will not get better in an independent Catalunya, of this I am certain. But it would be interesting to see how the more intelligent Catalans would find that out for themselves. On the other hand, they could just read a history book and learn the same thing.

  21. Humanist?

    I know that the majority of catalan nationalists are not fascists. What worries me though is when their nationalist ideas are questioned many become angry and irrational. I have had conversations with many very intelligent people who when start to talk about this subject stop speaking logically and start hearing only what they want to hear. This worries me a lot. This type of anger (which is driven by fear) is what many fascist leaders in the past have used in order to gain power.

    It makes me feel sad when I see so many young people with rebel flags and chants of ‘free Catalunya!’ These people are not oppressed, and actually have a better qualityof lifethan many other people in the rest of Spain. Couldn’t this energy be used in a better, more productive way?

    I don’t believe that Catalunya is about to become a fascist state, but I do see many examples of politicians using the nationalist sentiment for their own benefit, and not the benefit of Catalunya. I am Scottish and understand many of the feelings that some Catalans have about being different and wanting recognition of their own culture. However, the Generalitat’s policy of forcing citizens to use the Catalan language, and the obsession with nationalism, is an abuse of the Catalan people:

    Catalunya will not benefit from this.
    Large companies are not interested in this.
    Foreigners are not interested in this.
    The education system is suffering.
    The most important issues for the citizens of Catalunya are being neglected.

    I think Catalunya and the people who live here have so much more to offer than simply ‘Catalanism’.

  22. matxil

    You’re right, I totally agree. Unfortunately, there is not one single political party in Spain or Catalunya (pro/contra) that shows a rational attitude on this subject.

    I have been a bit luckier with my conversations with Catalanists though. In general, I have had intense discussions but there were always pleasant and agreeable, despite the strongly different points of view. In general, my negative experiences with Catalanists were with the ones who did not want to discuss, and showed – indeed – a very intolerant, obstinate, fanatical attitude. Luckily, I haven’t met a lot of them in Barcelona.

    But – again – I agree with your conclusions.

  23. Charles Ablett i Rocamora

    Matxil, as regards the Bull-fighting question, remember that the PSC including Montilla voted against the ban for the same reasons as did Ciutadans (it will cost us almost 500 million Euros, it’s already nearly dead in Catalonia and banning spanish bull-fighting while protecting the catalan version is unjustifiable).

    Half a dozen of those from CIU also voted against the ban for the same reasons as did those from the PP (love of the ‘sport’).

    On Saturday we were treated yet again to the spectacle of a vociferous and very small minority parading their ultra-nationalist sentiments and venerating the statue of Rafael Casanova as if they were Opus Dei members venerating their Saint.

    Having read the history extensively, I am amazed that ERC and others can honour the memory of Rafael Casanova, the wealthy aristocrat who as Conseller en Cap of the Generalitat, jointly with the military command and all the leading institucional figures of Catalonia, published a ban on the eve of the 11th of September reminding the troops and the people of Barcelona that they were fighting for their King and for the freedom of SPAIN.

    (A couple of months ago I found a children’s history book, published recently, that recounts how Casanova died a heroe’s death defending the walls. The truth is that he was lightly wounded, ran away, was later pardoned by Phillip V and worked as a Lawyer until his death aged 83).

    As a catalan educated in England, I get extremely worried when I hear people exalting their national flag and defending their ‘Nation’ and their ‘Patria’. It is especailly worrying when sensible people, such as Felip, try to convince me that the ends (a catalan nation) justify the means (discrimination, repression, intolerance and imposition).

    Martin Luther King was not a black-supremist; he defended the belief that all men are equal and should be treated without regard to the colour of their skins. I am neither pro-spanish nor pro-catalan; I believe that all citizens of Catalonia should have the same rights, free from discrimination by gender, age, religion, race, place of birth or mother language.

    IMHO, if a comunity has a sizeable minority (5% +, say) of urdu or arab speakers, they should have the right to have their children receive their preschool and primary education in their mother tongue, gradually incorporating the local language(s) in order that by age 12 they are as fluent as their colleagues. This is the approach used by Finland and is in accordance with UNESCO and UE recomendations. Currently, only Ciutadans defends this approach and the idea of a fully bi-lingual or tri-lingual education. PSC pays lip-service to the ideal of a tri-lingual education but in practice exclude spanish; PP defends the idea of an either catalan or spanish monolingual education. ERC, back when I used to vote for them (many years ago), demanded a bi-lingual education (when everything was in spanish) but soon changed to demanding a catalan only education system.

  24. Humanist?

    I am seriously considering leaving Catalunya because of the issues being discussed here. I know some people who have already done so. Is this what the Catalan people want?

    I have met many open-minded Catalans who are interested in other people and their culture but their nationalist views do not portray a welcoming and liberal attitude. Anti-‘immigrant’ sentiments are often hidden behind nationalism. The idea that it is better to be an immigrant from one place rather than another is absurd.

    As a Scot I am treated like a brother. Scots are no more oppressed than Catalans, and the popularity of the SNP worries me just as much. There are many differences between the Scottish people and the Catalan people. In reality, and in general of course, Catalan people are more similar to people from other parts of Spain than anywhere else. Their differences should be recognised and cherished, but so too should the things they have in common.

    I sometimes feel that Catalans are more interested in going backwards than forwards. Oh, and by backwards I mean backwards to their own, amended version of history.

    I would like to stay and ‘fight’ this worrying situation, but I think it might get a lot worse before it starts to get any better.

  25. matxil

    As far as political parties are concerned: I used to be quite interested in Cuitadans, but I was quite shocked when I heard that they were against the prohibition of “la corrida”. I don’t care whether it’s a spanish custom or a catalan or basque or french custom. It’s cruel and ugly. I was even more shocked that they were against the prohibition not because of it being “a sport” (as CIU or PSC thinks), but because they claimed the prohibition was part of some Catalan movement. This made me seriously doubt the anti-nationalist motives of the Ciutadans.

    Having said that, I am sorry I missed the Ciutadans meeting last saturday, because I wouldn’t have minded seeing and hearing more closely what they are about. I doubt, however, that the Ciutadans have the clean motives as they pretend they have. I agree with you, however, that 9/11 is horrible, I tend to avoid the places in Barcelona where people will march with their banners, both the Catalan ones, as (action = reaction again) the Spanish opposing ones. What a waste of time and energy! And what ugliness!

    I have to defend my friend Felipe here though. I don’t think he ever said that the end justifies the means, nor have I ever heard him defending discrimination or repression. I don’t understand his wish to feel part of some culture/tradition/nationalist sentiment, but I’m absolutely certain he is not in favour of repression. As far as I can understand, he rather feels repressed by Spain, denying his rights to “feel Catalan” or the fact that Catalan is a language.

    I can understand that, because I do agree that everyone has the right to feel whatever he wants and speak whatever he wants. What I agree about with you and “humanist” is that imposing the Catalan culture (or any other culture) is never a good thing. But my strongest motive in this discussion is my strong belief that we should get rid of the myths and abstract notions of nations, religions, ideologies and cultures, as soon as possible. Of course, however, I am aware that it would be rather naive to expect this will ever happen.

  26. matxil


    I am bit surprised that you feel that the situation is so severe.

    Maybe I am living in a too isolated situation to judge what is going on. I live in Barcelona, and have a job with people from all over the world. Also, my friends are from different parts of the world (including Catalans, including Catalanists). I don’t have children, so I don’t know how it works with schools, which is something Charles talks about. I also don’t live in more “catalists” areas, like Girona. If I would have children, I would make sure they would learn proper English and Spanish. Later, whether they would learn Catalan (or Dutch) I wouldn’t care that much about either which way.

    What makes you think the situation is that dramatic? Do you think it’s getting worse?
    My impression (maybe wrongly), is that most people don’t really care about the whole thing. They worry more about how to pay the rent. In general people speak Spanish, Catalan or English depending on the situation, and without really much hazzle. Maybe I have been lucky?

  27. Humanist?

    Matxil – some questions:

    1. How would you feel about your children’s entire education – from primary to higher education – being in Catalan? Unless your salary is well above average and you are able and willing to send to child to a private school then you have no choice.

    2. What would you think about about your children feeling like they should agree with their classmates on nationalist issues for fear of losing friends or worse.

    3. How would you feel about your children being discriminated against for using vocabulary that is similar to Castellano – as opposed to a word that is exclusively Catalan – while speaking perfect Catalan (this does indeed happen believe it or not).

    If you feel that you have the same opportunities as any other while choosing to speak Castellano over Catalan then you are mistaken I’m afraid.

    Perhaps without having children here, or intending to have children here in the future, it is easier to ignore these and other issues.

  28. matxil

    I can believe that with children things are different. If it is as you say it is, I object strongly against that situation. To answer your questions:

    1) I would oppose that. However, let’s be fair: In Wales education would be in Welsh, in Frislandia it would be in Frisian, in basque country, it would be in basque, right? Still, I am against that. I would want my children to learn English and Spanish first.

    2) I would be very upset about that. But let’s be fair, peer pressure among children is always a very cruel and awful thing. I don’t doubt what you are saying, but – surely – there must be more spanish speaking children here as well (what with all the south-american immigrants for instance).

    3) I would strongly object to that, obviously. Still, I haven’t experienced that so I don’t know what to believe. I know a lot of Catalans, who use Catalan words when speaking Spanish, and Spanish words when speaking Catalan (“barcu” for instance, from the spanish “barco”), so I am rather suprised by this. I also hear children speaking Spanish in the streets, and not just south american immigrants either.

    Personally (and in the end I only know my own experiences) I have never felt a problem with speaking only Spanish. Maybe I am priviliged. I am a physicist and have worked in various Catalan universities (Pompeu Fabra even) and companies. What I did experience was the occasional obstinateness, un purpose speaking Catalan when someone is around who doesn’t understand it, for instance. It’s ugly, but – really – quite pathetic and ridiculous, isn’t it? It reminds me always of certain peasants from the provinces in the Netherlands.

    I *did* have to understand Catalan occasionally, but then again: that’s only natural, right? If you would live in Holland, you would have to learn Dutch. Not because of me, because I would speak English as soon as there is a foreigner present, but most people are different, whether they are Dutch of Catalan. Moving from Catalunya would not change that. A few months ago I was at a party (here, in Barcelona) where most people where english/american. My catalan/spanish girlfriend does not understand english very well, but nobody took the effort to speak in Spanish instead of English even in general conversation. It does nobody harm to learn at least a bit of Catalan, and nobody ever expected more of me up till now.

  29. Humanist?

    In Wales the education is in English, with Welsh being a compulsory subject. In the Basque Country the education is in Castellano, as it is in all other Spanish Regions.
    One of the main reasons that Catalunya gets away with insisting that all governmental and educational establishments use Catalan is the fact it is so similar to Castellano. If it were as different as Gaelic is to English, or Euskara is to Castellano, it would be far more difficult to impose.
    Foreigners here, and Spanish people from from other regions who have moved here, end up learning Catalan against their will because it is easier than trying to fight against it. This is an extremely important weapon for the nationalists and it is being used to its full power.

  30. Charles Ablett i Rocamora

    Matxil, I think the inmense majority of the national and international press saw the bullfighting prohibition as being a political revenge by the catalan nationalist members of the parliament against the sentence emitted by the Constitutional Tribunal – I followed very closely the online forum at The Economist discussing the article ” Catalonia – Land of the Ban” and a large majority considered the simultaneous banning of bullfighting with the legal protection of the Correbous as a catalan cultural tradition deeply hipocritical. I have just searched on the web to find Albert Rivera’s speeches on the law and in no case does he defend either the catalan or the spanish traditions; both are horrible tortures that should not continue.

    I find it disgusting and hipocritical that both CIU and ERC are prepared to spend 500 million Euros (six new hospital’s worth) in order to abolish corridas while municipalities controlled by THEIR parties spend MILLIONES of Euros paying for Correbous to be held in their towns.

  31. matxil


    Okay, I stand corrected as far as Welsh and Basque go. And you’re right that Catalan is quite easy to understand once you know Spanish. So: that’s a good thing then, right?

    Making a problem out of having to know Catalan would put me on “their level”, it would be equally obstinate and childish. I don’t want to play that game. If someone “needs” to speak Catalan, in order to express “his identity” or any such nonsense, it is his problem, not mine. I will listen to him and smile a bit. And then respond in Spanish. Everybody happy.

  32. matxil

    @Charles. Obviously if I am against the corrida, I am equally against the correbous. I don’t like neither CIU nor ERC and I am not interested in their motives. I don’t think Ciutadans should either. What I look for in a political party is a program that defends my ideas of what is good for society. Torturing animals is not part of that (obviously, by the way, bull fighting is not the worst form of animal torture as any visit to an abatoir, pig-farm or chicken-production-chain would teach us).
    Ciutadans missed a great opportunity to be above that nationalist/anti-nationalist rubbish. It was a golden opportunity to be in favour of the ban and show that – indeed – it is not a nationalist issue.

  33. Humanist?


    The problem is that although Catalunya is a region of Spain, the education system is is entirely in Catalan. All subjects. Regardless of the fact that Castellano is the first language of an extremely large percentage of citizens.

    As I said above, the Catalan language is being used as a weapon by nationalists, and it is succeeding, not only in uniting Catalan nationalists, but in creating a divide in a country where language you choose to use should not be an issue.

  34. Humanist?

    According to official governement statistics in 2009:

    In everyday use, 11,95% of the population claim to use both languages equally, while 35,54% use mainly Catalan and 45,92% use mainly Spanish.

    Yet all schooling is exclusively in Catalan, with only 2 hours a week of ‘Castellano’.

  35. Felip

    I’m sorry, I have really not time to follow the discussion.

    Hi “Humanist”! I really appreciate your comments. I think you are wrong in some senses but I can easily feel you’re not just criticizing.
    I would like to explain you many things from a independentist point of view.
    First of all I want to explain you I’m not a young hooligan. In fact I hate demonstrations and mass acts. I am 46 years old and my cultural level can be a matter of discussion but, as a hint I can explain you that I was raised in 3 mother languages, namely catalan, spanish and french, I was a really good student at school, I had very good records in my Ancient History and Arechaeology degree, I went on learning languages and I speak fluently italian, english and portuguese, I can read and express myself in japanese and arab, I have a medium level in latin and old egyptian and f¡nally some knowledge of maian and ancient greek… As a matter of fact I can explain you I have read all my classics (Iliad, Odyssey, Aeneid, Works and Days, Theogony, all the Sophocles, Aeschylus and Euripides tragedies, the Metamorfosis, the Plato Dialogues, Aristotle, the most important Ancient Egypt litterature, the Popol Vuh, the Bible, the Koran, Chrétien de Troyes, Ramon Llull, Rabelais, Villon, Ronsard, Montesquieu, Ariosto, Tasso, Boiardo, Dante, Machiavelo, Malory, Shakespeare, Swift, Thackeray, Sterne…)

    I don’t agree when you say catalanism is a reaction against Franco. It’s not true. My grandfather was a catalanist much before the Sapnish Civil war. Catalanism is a XIXth century creation, based on much older feelings and traditions. To be true, Franco wasn’t the worst oppressor of catalan culture and national feelings. Primo de Rivera, Fernando VII or Felipe V were actually much worst. As a matter of fact, during Franco catalan language use wasn’t forbidden in private matters and catalan artistic expression was allowed. I am a witness of this.

    You say catalan imposition is a problem. It can be so. And I swear you I don’t agree with imposing anything at all. In fact I would like to see the State (all the States around the world) to desappear and live us (individuals and ommunities) to be free of their tyranny.
    The point Idon’t understand is why on the earth you don’t like catalan imposition but not spanish imposition which is, in fact, much worst. Don’t you know that Spanish Constitutioin says that all Spanish citizens are obliged to know Spanish language? No catalan law compells no one to know Catalan language. Do you know that Catalan is actually FORBIDDEN in the Spanish Congress? Spanish is permitted and often used in catalan Parliament. Do you know that public schools around Spain teach only in Spanish, except in the regions where another language is official? In Murcia, for instance, there are two municipalities where catalan is a common language by tradition, but children cannot attend to any public school in catalan.
    On the other hand, public education in France is only in French (even in Corsica), in Italy it’s only in Italian (even in Sardinia, Sicily or the Basilicata albanian communities), and so on. Why don’t you complain of this?
    The most interesting thing is that the education level in Catalonia isn’t worst than the level of the rest of Spain, and Spanish level language and general language abilities of students are better in Catalonia than in the rest of Spain. The worst catalan levels are in science. That means that public teaching in catalan is not a real handicap. Just in PP, PSOE and Ciutadans followers fancies. Those are facts. The rest is just propaganda.
    My tow nieces have been raised in a 100% catalan environment. Nonetheless, they started speaking spanish much before their first spanish course at school. Why? Because most of TV channels are Spanish.
    Now, they are 11 and 9 years old and their spanshi level is very good, despite the fact of attending to a super-catalanist school.
    About companies being fined for not using catalan, let me laugh of this nonsense. I have a little shop in the Barcelona’s Born. I know most of the owners of shops around Picasso Museum and I swear you that none of our shops have ever been inspected or fined for a illegal use of language. Most of them don’t have a single word written in catalan.
    But according to Charles’ opinion, thousands of them have been fined. Well, I think Charles has been well trained by Ciutadans. But if it were so Catalan Generalitat would have a bigger budget than California… and it’s not the case.
    I’m really sorry that some foreigners are afraid of the idea of Catalan independence. The think I would be really afraid of would be dealing with spanish Public Administration. I don’t know how a independent Catalan Administration would be. I’m afraid it would be very bad, but probably a little better than spanish. Worst than spanish Administration is completely impossible. I have a Serbian friend. When she started dealing with spanish Administration I warned her and offered my help. She laughed at my face: “it can’t be worst than Serbian Administration”. Some weeks after she came back with a sulky face and said me: “you were right, it’s the worst thing I have never dealt with”. I am tempted to think that if we can’t be independent, it would be better for us to depend of Morocco.
    Many people were afraid independence of Lithuania, Estonia, Latvia and Slovakia would be a disaster. But the fact is they are not in a worst condition and none of them want to unite again with their old bigger country.
    I am completely sure that catalan independence would be much better for us, and also for Spain. We could get rid of all the spanish incompetence, our budget would be better, and we would depend less on spanish customers (wich actually are our worst clients). On the other hand, Spain would be forced to wake up instead of relying on catalan economy as usual.
    You know, when I talk of independence I use to say: “the right way to face the problem is not claiming for Catalan people’s right to be independent but begging Spanish people to come to maturity and become independent of catalan economy”.

  36. Humanist?


    At the moment, like it or not, Catalunya is a part of a country called Spain.

    Of course, in this country, Spanish is the official language.

    Yet in the region called Catalunya, all citizens must to be educated in Catalan. More people speak Spanish as their first language. This means that half of the children here are being taught in their second language.

    I am not against Catalan. I have no problem with having Catalan-speaking schools. However, I have a question for you:

    – Why can’t children here in Catalunya (in Spain) also be educated in Spanish?

  37. Felip

    In fact they can be educated in spanish. Some of them (as Montilla’s children as Charles explained before) are.
    They can’t be educated in spanish public schools because they don’t exist. It’s a pity, but Catalan Government budget probably can’t afford the expense of a double public education system.
    But it’s not as dramatic as they say. When I was a child, public or private catalan education didn’t exist. All my generation children were taught in spanish. Some of them heard spanish for the first time in their life at school. And we survived. In fact, catalan is really easy for a spanish or italian speakers.
    On the other hand it would be great to have arab and urdu public schools. Lots of parents would like to have their children educated in those languages. But I don’t see you claiming for their rights. Only for spanish speakers’ rights. Why?
    I think I know why: because we are in Spain. It seems logical but it’s not. In fact, the language you call spanish is castilian, and we are not in Castille. But this is not the main point. The main point is you are claiming against nationalism but you are also a victim of it. You say education in Spain might be in spanish. This is a 100% nationalist criterium.
    And not only nationalist. It’s also too simple. We could go on and say: let have France education french, Belgium education in “belgian”, Switzerland education in “swiss”, Burkina Faso education in “burkinese”… and it would be simply stupid.
    You say most of people living in catalan use spanish as their first language. If it’s so, why so few complain of catalan education and why don’t they settle more spanish private schools? I can answer both questions: because those who actually complain don’t have the lest interest in having their children educated in spanish (or in any other language); they complain because they are spanish ultra-nationalists. Of course, the big majority of spanish speakers in Catalonia aren’t, never complain of catalan public education and don’t think language is a problem in Catalonia.

  38. Humanist?

    Your argument is so predictable.

    Children can have an education in Spanish here, but only if they are able to pay thousands every year for the privelidge. The irony there is that most of the people living here that prefer to speak Spanish can’t afford this. So, effectively, they have no choice.

    The fact is that in many countries there are international schools where children can have an education in different languages. They are only availabe as private schools because the languages are foreign. To most people living in Catalunya, Spanish is not a foreign language.

    It is clear to me that it would be extremely difficult to change your opinion on this. It might surprise to to know that I am Scottish, and should there be a vote for independence for Scotland I would vote in favour. I also would have no problem if the people living in this region of Spain voted in favour of forming a new separate country, called Catalunya, if that is what they desire.

    However, I feel that while Catalunya forms part of Spain its habitants should be entitled to choose a free education in either Catalan or Spanish (ie. Castellano, the official language of Spain).

    I can assure you that the reason that the Catalan government does not provide this option is not financial.

  39. Charles Ablett i Rocamora

    First, a quote from Mario Vargas Llosa:-

    “El nacionalismo es la cultura de los incultos, una entelequia ideológica construida de manera tan obtusa y primaria como el racismo (y su correlato inevitable), que hace de la pertenencia a una abstracción colectivista -la nación- el valor supremo y la credencial privilegiada de un individuo.”
    Mario Vargas Llosa.
    Premio Nobel de Literatura 2010

    Quite frankly, I don’t think anybody can better this description of Nationalism (whether english, spanish, basque or catalan).

    As regards the point made by Humanist, I totally agree with it. His comment came to mind the other night whilst I was watching the Àgora interview of Albert Rivera of Ciutadans.

    What was surprising was his defence of ‘Inmersión linguística’ as the best way of teaching our children; However, he made it clear that the ‘Inmersión Linguística’ that Ciutadans want to implement is with classes being taught 40% in catalan, 40% in spanish and 20% in english. As he correctly pointed out, this is the education model used by the most successfull (private) schools in Catalunya, such as the one Montilla sends his children to. Artur Mas also chooses a foreign school (in his case the French Lyceé) for his children.

    I considered his interview on Àgora as one his best – he made it clear that his policy was to promote the use of catalan, but not by imposing it through draconian laws and punishing fines.

    I recommend you all to view the interview here:-

  40. Fellip

    Well, I don’t want to go on for ever with this discussion, so let me explain my reasons and conclusions.

    I) HISTORY (If you’re not interested in that discussion just skip point I):
    I.A) NATIONALISM IN HISTORY: I think Charles is simply wrong. He has his well-learned anti-nationalist dogmas and he will cling to them at any price. He claims to have a History degree. It’s OK, I believe him. But I have my degree also and I perfectly know how History is distorted to fit with the chosen ideology, not only in political environments but also in academic ones. Every History student that has suffered the experience of having a marxist professor know what I’m talking about.
    He will probably think I am a catalan ultra-nationalist. But I’m not. All the discussion came from the fact he believes that nationalism is a modern feature when I am completely sure it’s common to the whole human species since prehistory. I have good reasons to think so:
    I.A.1) Tribal societies, when introduced to modern political language, use to define themselves as “nations”: the Maya nation, the Tarahumara nation, the Yanomami nation, the Inuit nation, the Dayak nation, the Punan nation, the Mentawai nation, the Papua nation, the Australian Aboriginal nation…
    I.A.2) Over calling themselves “nations” they act as nations: their religions, traditions, mythology, etc. are usually national. They alone are human. They alone are ruled and protected by their gods and they alone can communicate with them. They alone speak a human language when other people just babble clumsy utterances. Marrying, sharing food or just touching foreigners would “pollute” them. Letting foreigners assist to their rites would invalidate them. Admitting them in their sacred places, as temples or graveyards would carry disgrace… In my opinion all this is pure nationalism. And it’s probably as old as the use of fire.
    I.A.3) Ancient Egypt was an amazing display of documented nationalism with many striking parallelisms with our modern nationalisms. Of course, Ancient Egypt wasn’t a tribal imperialist State as Charles pretend. Charles must know well Middle Age but his point of view of ancient History is obsolete. Instead of having suffered under his marxist professors he seems to have really enjoyed their old-fashioned dogmas. Around 2600 BC, under the IIId Dynasty, Egyptian Kingdom Administration reached its perfection never paralleled after (not even by Roman Empire) till modern States. Imperialism started much later, under the XVIIIth Dynasty (around 1550 BC), and during it Egyptian nationalism attained its climax. But Old Kingdom nationalism (especially during IIId and IVth dynasties) under the influence of heliopolitan theology was a very interesting and unique case. Very modern in some senses, but in other aspects much more theorically elaborated than any modern nationalism.
    I.A.4) Everybody knows ancient greek made a clear difference between themselves and barbarians. Even being politically divided in different states, we can find many instances of longing for a Hellenic political unity. Prove of it is their obsession with legendary and historic episodes of “unity” (the Troy War or the Persian Wars).
    I.A.5) Arab nationalism is a VIIth century episode and is really modern in some senses. In spite of Charles’ opinions, few hundred arab nomads could’nt achieve the conquest of all Middle East and North Africa and become millions in 50 years. Of course, things didn’t really happen this way. The fact is, under the boost of islam, few arab leaders managed not only to convert millions of people of different cultures and races (Mesopotamians, Syrians, Egyptians, Greeks, Jews, Numidians, Lybians, hellenized asians, Moors, Hispano-Visigoths…) to the new religion but also to forget their old languages, to distort their social structures and to make them feel proud of being “arabs”. And they achieved this in one generation. Charles said that “arab” wasn’t a national concept but just a religion matter. He’s wrong. Just attend to a course of Arabic language and you will immediately understand what “arab” means. And you won’t have any more doubts about this matter. Otherwise, just think that islam reached much further areas whose population never felt like being “arab”. Namely: Persia, Hindustan, Caucasus, Central Asia, Indonesia, East Africa… How can you explain the arab culture skills? Arab culture kept the memory of Aristotle and most of Ancient greek culture, was amazingly developed in sailing, draining, irrigating, theology, trade, astrology… How could few nomad bedouin of the desert achieve all this? They couldn’t. The answer is simple: so called “arabs” where in fact the sons and grandsons of phoenitian and greek merchants, mesopotamian and egyptian peasants, greek and jew philosophers and theologists, etc. that had turned to feel arab and conquer more and more countries for the sake of islam and the arab nation.
    I.A.6) Middle Age and Renaissance literature are crammed of nationalist concepts. I don’t have time to collect quotations but I happen to be re-reading the Divina Comedia and came across with this just this weekend: “…e come là tra li tedeschi lurchi…” (Inferno XVII), “Orfu gammai gente sì vana come la senese? Certo non la francese sì d’assai” (Inferno XXIX), “Ahí Genovesi, uomini diversi d’ogni costume e pieni d’ogni magagna, perchè non siete voi del mondo sperzi?” (Inferno XXXIII).
    I.A.7) Then there is that amazing phenomenon named Jeanne d’Arc. She was completely insane, no doubt. A kind of religious fanatic. But the strangest thing was she declared to hear voices that said her to drive out the “English” from “France”. And everybody understood her, notwithstanding the fact that English kings ruled on the western part of the territory known as France nowadays but which didn’t belong to French Kingdom. I don’t know why people in Normandy, Poitou or Anjou, thought of themselves as “French” nor why people from Lorraine, Brabant or Île-de-France thought of themselves as being the same than people of Normandy, Poitou and Anjou… Perhaps because of the first division of Charles the Great Empire; perhaps because of the racial melting pot under the merovingian kingdom, perhaps because they all (and them alone) spoke the “langue d’oïl”, that strange germanized latin dialect we now know as “French”… who knows? No matter why. The fact is people living on the Meuse, Seine and Loire valleys felt themselves as “french”, and they understood Jeanne d’Arc and followed her in her insanity. It’s not a legend, there are plenty of historical records. I have read the Jeanne d’Arc trial and it leaves no doubt.
    I.A.8) There are many more examples of old times nationalism but I don’t have time to display them all. We could talk about Gengis Khan, XVIth century Japan, Ashoka, Ethiopia…
    First of all, I have to say I don’t think having been independent before is a condition sine qua non to attain independence. Many countries are now independent which never had been before.
    When refuting my arguments for Catalonia having been independent, Charles says one cannot talk of national independence under Middle-Age feudal system because countries were noblemen’s private properties and the sovereignty belonged to them, not to the people living there. Ok, it’s true. Being so, no European country can claim having been independent before French revolution.
    Then he says every Count or Duke was vassal of a King or Emperor. This is the theory, a good starting point, but clearly insufficient to understand Middle-Age politics in depth. I will develop this in the particular case of Catalonia:
    I.B.1) Even being their theorical vassals, Catalan Counts didn’t pay taxes or swear anything to French kings for centuries and were usually at war against them. So, they didn’t act as French king’s vassals.
    I.B.2) There is an even more interesting thing, connected with all I said about Jeanne d’Arc: in Middle-Age, people used to talk about their “natural lord” (“senyor natural” was a very common expression then, at least in Catalonia). I challenge you to find a single instance of any catalan nobleman or plebeian talking about the king of France as their “natural lord”. On the contrary, they used to talk about him as their worst enemy. Every indication is they considered the Count of Barcelona their only “natural lord”. That means that, independently of how their rulers acted or felt, catalan population had probably a feeling of belonging to some kind of community, perhaps in a similar way of how french people felt in Jeanne d’Arc times, and thought of being ruled by a Count, not by the King to whom this Count was vassal in theory.
    I.B.3) Barcelona and Rosselló Counts became Kings of Aragon. Kings of Aragon never became Counts of Barcelona or Rosselló. So, they weren’t their vassals. They used the sign of the Counts of Barcelona (the red and yellow stripes), they lived mainly in Barcelona, spoke catalan, enacted laws in catalan, wrote their chronicles in catalan, were crowned first of all Counts of Barcelona, and only after, they were also crowned Kings of Aragon and their other kingdoms and counties (read the “cròniques” if you have any doubt)… And when catalan counts happened not to be kings of Aragon, they were not vassals of the King of Aragon (Jaume II or Sanç I of Mallorca and Rosselló, are two examples). So, we can conclude no Catalan Count has ever been vassal of any King of Aragon.
    I.B.4) I Think that Charles’ point of view on Middle-Age politics is very dull and simplistic. Do you imagine the emperor Maximilian I, and his successor Dukes of Burgundy feeling as French King vassals? I don’t. Let Charles fancy which king or emperor the Dux of Venice was vassal to! The fact is during Middle Age titles as King or Emperor were very subjective and changing matters. Two examples:
    – The Kings of León decided one beautiful day to become Emperors (nobody asked them, of course, and their “empire” was just an impoverished area more or less the size of Ireland). They remained Emperors till their theoretical vassals (but in fact independent) Counts of Castile decided to become Kings and subject León to their Kingdom.
    – When the Anjou and the Catalan dynasties were fighting for Sicily, the Pope acted as arbitrator and gave the “Kingdom of Sardinia” to the last. The problem was that Sardinia wasn’t a kingdom. You can trace sardinian History and Prehistory till Neolithic and you won’t find the slightest hint of a kingdom there. After Bizantine dominion the political de facto situation in Sardinia was the existence of four independent states ruled by so called “judikes”. When the catalans claimed the title of King of Sardinia, the “judikes” didn’t accept such an absurd master… it would have been as accepting to be vassals of the “Grand Duke of America” or the “Prince of Oceania, Kamtchatka and Nazca”. Pure nonsense. But in the end, after terrible wars that turned to be the ruin of the catalan dynasty, Sardinia became a Kingdom and the title “King of Sardinia” came into existence.
    I.B.5) He also says Catalonia wasn’t independent during the Succession War. I admit I was biased in this point, but he displays also a wonderful ability to distort facts. Of course Archduke Charles didn’t pretend to be king of Catalonia (he couldn’t: Catalonia has never been a kingdom!), but king of Spain. Charles says that many Castilians fought for Archduke Charles and many Catalans against him. It’s true, but it’s a strange way to put the fact that, according to the only records we have of the “nationality” of Archduke Charles’ armies soldiers (the dead and wounded soldier records), Catalans were the main contingent reaching more than 30%, and when adding to them Valencians and Aragonese were over the 60%. Castilians, on the contrary, were less than 10%, much less than germans or dutch. I don’t have here the exact figures, but I saw them not long ago and I’m quite sure those rates are not far from the truth.
    It’s like saying in WWII many Soviet Union people were fighting for the third Reich (which is true, mainly ukrainians) and many germans fighted with the Red Army (which is also true), and then conclude that WWII eastern front wasn’t a war of soviets against germans. It would be a grossly distorted way to explain History, don’t you think?
    He also says that in the battle of Almansa (that meant the starting of regaining Valencia for Philip), Philip armies were mainly catalan. I think he confused somehow a famous anecdote: the only fighting valencians (not Catalans) in that battle were for Philip, but they were just some 10 or 12% in a big mass of French and Castilian soldiers.
    Finally, Charles fails also to explain what happened when Archduke Charles become Emperor and gave up his claims for Spanish Kingdom. Why some Catalans and Majorcans went on fighting Philip for more than one year till they were defeated in Barcelona, Cardona and Palma?

    II.A) Perhaps non-nationalists exist, but I never met one. Most of so-called non-nationalists are in fact nationalists.
    II.A.1) The “world citizen” type:
    They use to be totally unable to adapt themselves even to such western-like towns as Istanbul, Teheran, Cairo or Bombay. You see them walking around in their safari clothes and protected by their local guides. I always wonder how they would act in New Guinea highlands or in Orinoco basin! My opinion of them is they are nothing else than westerners that think they know something about other cultures just because they have a japanese friend in facebook and have seen some National Geographic documentaries.
    II.A.2) The universal individualist type:
    They think we all are just human individuals, equals in rights. Matxil is one of them. They are usually very good-natured people and I really appreciate them. But I think they are wrong. In my opinion, a human individual is an abstract idea: there is not such thing in real world. A human individual would be not more than a pack of cells doomed to an imminent death. We all come from other people’s womb and interact constantly with other living things to survive. The very idea of “individual” is debatable in a biological context.
    But the important question is their way of thinking isn’t universal at all; the theory of human individuality belongs exclusively to western culture. It was fully developed in the european enlightenment period. But, as it happens with all enlightenment philosophical ideas, in spite of being accepted as universal by ourselves (you know “universal human rights”, “État de droit” and all that stuff) they are far of being universally accepted. In the end, enlightenment concepts are nothing else than our “national” western beliefs. It’s a kind of local religion with the Human Individual (drawn by Leonardo da Vinci) as a strange ghost God.
    II.A.3) The unconscious nationalists:
    Some criticize even their own nationalism on an abstract foot but are utterly unable to avoid it in real life situations. Let me display some symptoms of this:
    – You really don’t feel like “french” or “german”, but when you go abroad, for instance to China, you feel their way of acting is “strange” when Chinese way of doing things is objectively more “normal” than yours.
    – Sometimes you feel other countries’ habits revolting (you, know: lapidation, burning widows, dismembering albinos and so on) and you can’t avoid feeling your culture is more “civilized”.
    – When you mention someone, the first thing you say is his name: “Do you know John?” If the name is not enough, the first thing you say to describe him, when he happens to be a foreigner, is his nation: “John, the Canadian”, not “John the fat one” nor “John the democrat” nor “John the ManU supporter”. It’s a fact. You can test it whenever you want.
    – When you travel to Timisoara from Drebecen, you say you are going to Romania, in spite of the fact that most of Timisoara population are Hungarian and that Timisoara is located in the middle of Hungarian “puszta” and have been a part of Hungary for centuries and a part of Romania for just few decades.
    – You feel that French people supporting French NATIONAL football team, or Spanish people supporting Fernando Alonso (because he’s Spanish, of course) are natural things. You also look as completely natural athletes parading, and competing under their NATIONAL flag, and revering their NATIONAL anthem. In fact, sports in general and Olympic Games in particular are the ugliest display of nationalist hysteria you can come across with, but few so called non-nationalists find them disgusting.
    II.A.4) The fake non-nationalists:
    Some so called non-nationalists are mere liars. In my opinion those Ciutadans bunch are perfect example of this kind; they pretend to be non-nationalists and criticize other people’s nationalism, but never their own:
    – They are not against Spanish Constitution in spite it defines Spain as a NATION and uses the word NATION and NATIONAL constantly.
    – They say Catalan Olympic Committee and Catalan National Teams are nonsense (I agree with them) but they never criticize the existence of a Spanish Olympic Committee and Spanish National Teams (which are in my opinion exactly the same shit than catalan).
    – They say they don’t like nationalism but they face every political problem under a nationalist/non-nationalist bias. In the end they never talk of anything but nationalism.
    – When bullfight was to be banned in Catalonia, they talked of Spanish identity being aggressed, not of animal or human rights (not only bulls are killed, sometimes also bullfighters die!) Of course Charles says the bullfight ban will cost I don’t know how many million euros. As usual, he doesn’t explain why on the earth banning bullfight will have any cost, and as usual he fails to mention that bullfight is a ruinous and very expensive business sponsored by the State with public money.
    – When Football World Cup was going on, Ciutadans asked many catalan municipalities (I think they were at least Barcelona, Terrassa and Mataró) to put giant screens on public places to broadcast spanish NATIONAL team matches. Not german or argentinian team matches, in spite they were expected to be very interesting too.
    – When asked why Catalonia has to pay so much money to support Andalucia or Extremadura economies, they say it’s solidarity. But when you ask why not sending all that money to Burkina Faso or Guatemala, which actually need it much more than Andalucia or Extremadura, the reason they put forward is Andalucia is Spain and Burkina Faso not. A fantastic argument for a non-nationalist, indeed!
    – They complain when the Public Administration fines companies for not using catalan, but not when it fines them for not using spanish.
    In Spain there are few non-nationalist politicians. Spanish political parties represented in the congress or the regional parliaments are all nationalists except I.U.
    The national dispute is not between nationalists and non-nationalists: it’s between those who say that inside Spanish borders there are many nations and those who say that there is a single nation named Spain. That’s all. Of couse, U.P.yD. and Ciutadans’ leaders, when asked, will say there is a single nation named Spain.
    When some of them call the other “nationalists” it’s plain political manipulation because both sides are.
    I admit I’m somehow nationalist. Not extremely. Much less than most of the so-called non-nationalists I know. When I was younger I trained myself to be a perfect non-nationalist (I believed in individuals then). I was amazed of how difficult is to get rid of all those prejudices. And when I finally managed to act as an almost perfect non-nationalist I was amazed of the resistance other people opposed to my behaviour. It’s too deeply rooted in all our minds. Nowadays, I can say I feel at home all around Western Mediterranean (of course I don’t feel Portugal or Castille to be Mediterranean but Atlantic countries; it’s a simple geographic statement). Not so at home in Eastern Mediterranean, but more than in Central, Baltic or Atlantic Europe. Strangely enough, I feel also at home in a completely different and weird way in Yucatan inland. On the other hand I yearn for my grand mother and my childhood when I hear catalan traditional songs or eat boiled “mongetes verdes” and potatoes with a good olive oil. And I can’t avoid feeling a deep emotion when a hear some “nova cançó” songs that express a way to be catalan that has almost completely disappeared nowadays, but that I feel like mine. This is the true report of my unavoidable national feelings.

    My opinion is that most of your arguments given are not innocent at all, and that you could apply them to almost any other nationalism around the world, including those you are agreeing with implicitly, as Spanish, French, etc. but which you don’t feel as a handicap.
    III.A) EDUCATION: almost all the things you are criticizing of catalan education are exactly the same abroad. Almost everywhere, public education is given in the official “national” language and never use other languages, even when they are widely spoken. Of course there are exceptions. It would be perfect to have a good public education given in catalan, spanish, urdu, arab and romanó, for sure. I just doubt it’s economically possible.
    If I have to choose between a good catalan monolingual education and a bad bilingual education, I would choose the former. But I doubt most of those that criticizes catalan education, faced with this dilemma, would choose the good monolingual catalan option. I fear that they would choose the bad bilingual one.
    The problem is the only alternative now is between a bad catalan education and a bad bilingual education.
    III.A.1) When you talk about the low level of catalan education you assume that its reason is the use of catalan language. But the objective facts are against this theory. Catalan education is more or less the average spanish level. But language abilities (catalan, spanish and foreign languages) are neatly above spanish average. In fact spanish language level in catalan education is one of the better around Spain.
    The conclusion is undisputable: catalan education is a shit, exactly as Spanish education is, and THE REASON IS NOT THE LANGUAGE IT’S GIVEN. You have to look for the reason elsewhere.
    I can give you a clue: Spanish is the only culture I know where people is proud of being ignorant (don’t you remember the Unamuno sentence: “que inventen ellos!”…? it’s not the only instance, I swear you). Average Spanish people hate culture and despise cultured people. It has something to do with Catholic Counter-Reformation, I think. It would be an interesting matter of discussion. Unfortunately catalan society is becoming also more and more proud of its ignorance.
    III.A.2) As you think under a “National State logic” you think catalan is not to be learned as first language because it’s not the official language of a big State (just of a little petty state as Andorra). OK, if it’s so, your opinion turns to be a very good reason for catalans to want independence: if we had independence, catalan would be the official language of a middle-size country, more important inside U.E. than Ireland, Danemark, Latvia, Estonia, Lithuania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Malta, Cyprus, Romania, Bulgaria and perhaps superior or at least equal to Portugal and Greece.
    III.A.3) Following real non-nationalist criteria (not fake as yours), public education would start in children’s mother language and shift by degrees to globish (international english). I would vote for this model. But you must admit it’s far to be the situation in Catalonia or elsewhere. We can complain of this worldwide situation, but focusing it only on Catalonia and catalan language is cheating.
    III.A.4) Why forcing children to schooling in a stranger language?
    III.A.4.a) I repeat: no law forces them. Education in other languages than catalan is just more expensive. The most expensive choice is japanese (a real luxury), not spanish.
    III.A.4.b) And why not? Just because U.N. says it’s a bad practice? Well, let U.N. and U.S. State Department talk nonsense. It won’t be the first time:
    – W.H.O. said “Influenzavirus A” would be the worst pandemics ever. Don’t you remember?
    – U.N. created the state of Israel, which turned to be the major international problem after the end of WWII. Not a very wise decision, indeed.
    – U.N. and U.S. government declares Iran to be the major nuclear threat in the world. No matter if Iran don’t actually have any nuclear weapon and is not expected to have any for many years. On the other hand, in their oipinion, Israel never has been a nuclear threat in spite they have nuclear weapons, they never have signed any nuclear treaty, they have threatened many times Iran and other countries with bombing them with nuclear missiles, and everybody knows they are not kidding: they are actually ready to do it.
    You see, U.S. Government and U.N. are far from being in POSSESSION OF TRUTH.
    III.A.4.c) I don’t like forcing people, but I was actually forced by my parents to French schooling and I survived. In fact it was much the better for me.
    You say it’s stupid to demand a minimal and really easy catalan level to teach in catalan universities.
    III.B.1) I think they are two different situations. When you teach “introduction to anthropology” in History first course, your students will expect you to speak catalan or spanish. If you don’t they will quickly desert your course. Being so, better have a minimal level (I insist: nivell C is amazingly easy).
    III.B.2) When it’s a superior level, say something like “technical processes in XVIth century venitian painting”, of course it would be better if you could have the best Italian specialist in the world teaching you likely in italian. But the foreign language level in Spain (Catalonia included) is so low that this ideal situation is far to become real. Most of the students would probably apply to the course just to say “I learned it with Dr.X, the art eminence” but would never attend to it in fact.
    III.B.3) The first thing to do is improving foreign language level, and then having foreign specialists in our universities.
    III.B.4) The requirement of national language level is surely a handicap for universities to attain excellence. But, what a surprise! the best world ranked Spanish universities are catalan, namely UB and UAB are around the 200th position, far better ranked than Salamanca, Complutense and any other Spanish university. So go back to III.A.1 and put the blame of low Spanish university level elsewhere, not on catalan “nivell C” requirement.
    III.B.5) “Nivell C” is very easy. All the catalan university professors will have it without any problem. Catalan speakers will refresh their knowledge on “pronoms febles” for a couple of days, and non-catalan speakers will take a light two months course, and that’s all. According to recent statements by the Rector of UPC, more than 70% of the professors there have already the “nivell C”.
    But you can ask: why have they to waste their time in such usless thing instead of teaching and research? My answer is: at least they will learn something. But if you know how universities work in Spain you must know they are wasting much more time in daily useless administrative tasks you never complain of. In the end, “nivell C” is once in life.
    III.B.6) That doesn’t mean I agree with “nivell C” requirement. I just state it’s not a major problem compared with the low foreign language level or compared with other administrative hinderances.
    You say they are constantly threatened by Catalan Governement because of the use of language. This is the reason why businesses are deserting Catalonia, according to you.
    III.C.1) I happen to be in business, a very little one, but a business in the end. My experience is shared by all the business managers I have ever met. Creating a company in Spain is a NIGHTMARE. In the case of Catalonia you have to deal with three different public administrations: local, Catalan and Spanish.
    III.C.1.a) Local administration is confused, expensive and their requirements are mainly useless, but when you pay they leave you alone for a long time.
    III.C.1.b) Catalan administration doesn’t ask you almost anything except being registered. You feel they are utterly useless, but at least their rules, requirements and ways of working are simple, fast and cheap.
    III.C.1.c) Spanish administration is Hell. They ask you always for new requirements you never had expected. Three years after starting my business they were still asking me new requisites. Most of 75% of the official announcements they send to me every year are wrong (they ask mainly for unpaid taxes that I have already paid). Lately the rate has attained the 100%. Every time you have to go to a Spanish administration office you are sure to loose a whole morning, to spend some money and to have your problem only half-solved. When you come back to solve it for true you find that the rules are changed and all you have done before is good for nothing. In the particular case of business managers it’s worst: we are treated as suspected criminals, and when we dare to employ someone they look at us as slave merchants.
    III.C.2) My business never has been fined and not even inspected for language reasons. I don’t know any other business fined or inspected for this reason. Nonetheless, almost all the businesses I know well don’t display a single word in catalan. Never. I worked 10 years ago in a big insurance company where we had clear instructions of avoiding the use of catalan language even with catalan-speaker customers and where the use of written catalan was completely forbidden and punished. According to the reports of my old fellows, the language politics of that company is still the same. They have never been inspected nor fined for it.
    III.C.2.a) Spanish Government has also laws to force companies to use spanish, and Generalitat de Catalunya (as a part of spanish Administration) is putting it into practice. I read IKEA was fined (8.000 €) for not using spanish enough. I don’t hear Charles or Ciutadans complaining for this.
    III.C.2.b) I hate compulsory laws. To be true, I hate all laws. Being so, I hate that stupid catalan law about language use in business. But that law happen to be one more of the hundred laws made for nothing. Catalan and Spanish governments have become very fond of making useless laws they don’t intend to put into practice.
    III.C.2.c) Changing all your placards, cards, bills, etc. to put them in catalan is expensive. But when you happen to replace them or start a new business it’s exactly the same expense making them in catalan than in any other language. Being so, if you insist in making them only in spanish there are only two options: 1. you don’t really believe you will be fined, 2. you’re a helpless idiot.
    III.C.3) Companies are deserting Catalonia, as the rest of Spain, not to settle in other spanish regions but in Romania, Ukraine, Morocco, Colombia, Turkey, India, China… Don’t put the blame on catalan language or compulsory language laws: put it on globalization.

    IV.A) Some people are fond saying Catalans are treating Spanish people exactly as Franco treated them before.
    Unlike you, I lived in this country in Franco’s days and I know what I’m talking about. You will perhaps expect me to tell atrocities against poor catalan people during franquism. You will be disappointed: I won’t. In its last 10 years, Franco dictatorship was really peaceful and Catalans used to be very proud of their social and cultural development compared with the rest of Spain. Of course people didn’t love Franco: they actually hated him, but were become used to him and acted unconsciously as he had to live forever. People started to realize he was human and, consequently, mortal, only few years before his death.
    In those days catalan culture and language were tolerated, but systematically denigrated. You couldn’t speak catalan in official circumstances but you were free to use it in public everyday situations. The only problem was you would always find someone making fun of you and declaring catalan was a disgusting and rough dialect invented by some fools in XIXth century just to bother people from other regions. I don’t exaggerate: it’s exactly the kind of things you could expect to hear then. Public workers used to simply ignore you or threaten you for using the “dialect”.
    So, the situation under Franco was completely different of the nowadays situation. Now, no catalan denigrates Spanish nor pretend it’s a catalan dialect. We all know it’s a very old language that deserves all our respect. Spanish is not forbidden in official situations, and you can use it in public without being made fun for it. Nobody ignores you or threatens you when you speak spanish. Some catalan people (a minority) will perhaps ask you how is it possible you can’t speak catalan after 40 years living here.
    In Franco’s times, public education was given only in spanish. Catalan wasn’t teached at all. If you wanted catalan courses you had to go to very expensive private schools, but you could’nt avoid learning also spanish.
    Nowadays public education is given in catalan, but you start learning spanish very soon. You don’t need to pay an expensive private school to learn spanish, you only have to pay a private school if you want to have the WHOLE SCHOOLING given in spanish. To be true, Spanish is the only compulsory language in catalan education. If you create an urdu private school in Catalonia, you will probably teach urdu, spanish, and english but the only language you will be forced to teach by law will be spanish, not catalan.
    So, you see, in Catalonia, the situation for spanish speakers nowadays is much better than the situation of catalan speakers when Franco ruled.
    IV.B) When you hear people from other Spanish regions being called “immigrants”, you are shocked. They are not immigrants! They are in their own country! You thing it’s a result of nationalism and racism. But you’re wrong. As a matter of fact, people from southern Spain or Galicia talked always of “emigrate” when they left home to look for better opportunities abroad. No matter if it was to France, Switzerland, Germany, Barcelona, Madrid, Bilbao or Valencia, they always defined themselves as “emigrants”… I was here during the sixties and seventies and I perfectly remember them defining themselves so with a somehow proud tone.
    This wasn’t a particular feature of Catalonia: I remember people from Soria were usually called “immigrants” in Zaragoza, and so it happened in Valencia with people from Cuenca.
    It was an expression very usual and not humiliating at all in those days’ spanish context. Madrid papers and TV also used the word “emigrant” to define them.
    You can read Montilla interviews defining himself as an “immigrant”, and he doesn’t look as being humiliated for this.
    Perhaps your problem is that under your point of view “immigrant” is a humiliating word. But it isn’t. It never has been in Barcelona, a city that feels immigration as an age-old tradition and a pride.
    IV.C.1) Southern Spain immigrants were usually very poor and had very hard times. Barcelona society wasn’t always gentle with them. But it wasn’t racism or nationalism: they treated exactly the same poor catalan workers. You would be surprised if you deign to look up the Barcelona slum population records (Franco administration had a close control on them as suspicious homeless people). Most of them were Catalans and the second main community were Aragonese.
    IV.C.2) Many Spanish nationalists used to say “Catalans are racists, they will never accept a “charnego” as a President of the Generalitat”. We have Montilla. I bet we will never see a catalan president of the Madrid Community or Andalucía. If there are racists here, it’s them, not us.

    V.A) Are you sure? I ask this because everybody (economists and political experts included) said Slovakia, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia and Slovenia independences were nonsense; that they wouldn’t be able to survive on their sole resources, that they would be forced in the end to come back to their old bigger states. But nothing of this happened. Real facts are stubborn.
    V.B) According to the official records, Catalonia gives a lot of money to Spain and receives very little. Even being official, they admit the economical balance is awfully unfavourable for Catalonia. Of course real figures must be much worst. The “Cercle Català de Negocis” evaluate the deficit for Catalonia in some 22000 million euros per year (some 3000 euros per person). In economics everything is disputable. You can believe them or believe Ciutadans. Beliefs are not my stuff. I’m only interested on facts: I can see with my eyes that public services in Catalonia are becoming worst every year when they are improving in the rest of Spain to levels never seen here. In Andalucía and Extremadura, public health (Seguridad Social) covers the cost of dental treatments, but not in Catalonia. In Andalucía it even covers the cost of sex-change surgery…
    In Andalucía and Extremadura, you just need to work 20 days to have an 8 month “paro agrícola” (a dole for agricultural workers). In the rest of spanish regions you must have worked at least 6 months to have a 1 month dole!
    In Extremadura, public workers rate has reached the 30% surpassing the rate of private employers and professionals. More than 50% university students long for a public work and only a 5% want to start a new business.
    So called “depressed” spanish regions are becoming paradises for public workers with top level services and no productive economy at all. And all this on the expense of Catalonia, Valencia, Rioja, Aragón, Murcia and Balearic islands’ economies. This is a good reason to want independence.
    V.C) Charles and Ciutadans will say Catalan companies are having good business with Spain, and it’s true. If Catalonia were independent, all this business will be lost, they claim. It seems logical but it’s not. Why stop having business with Spain after independence? We are independent of Poland, Italy, Morocco, etc. and we also have good business with them. Being independent of doesn’t mean not having trade with or not investing in.
    We expect to go on having good business with Spain after independence. Why not?
    The only reason to loose them would be a Spanish boycott. It’s possible: spanish average people are maniac ultra-nationalists, we know this well. But we also know they forget easily. Spanish customers in the end, after two or three months of tantrum will come back and buy our goods. It happened before, with the famous “boicot del cava” and it will happen again.
    In any case, that just means that the first thing we have to do is getting rid of those maniac customers (not only maniac but also chronic debtors), find new customers abroad (in fact, Spanish rate in catalan economy is still high but is constantly decreasing), and then become independent. Let them boycott our products then!
    Suppose they will be more constant and go on with their boycott for years. No problem: we can do exactly as Israel companies do: we can mask the origin of our products. Did you ever come across with a “made in Israel” product? I’m sure you don’t. But you’re probably buying israeli products every day.
    If they boycott us because of their insane nationalism, we have practical and possible solutions within our reach. I don’t say it will be easy, but it isn’t beyond our means.

    It is for foreigners. In Catalonia bilingualism is a fact. We all use it and accept it as a fait accompli. When talking in a group we shift from one language to the other following strange patterns very difficult to understand for people that are not grown up here.
    That’s why foreigners (including Spanish people from other regions) feel it as a threat.
    But it isn’t for us. We feel comfortable with it.
    You, foreigners, would like to see it as a struggle where catalan, being the weakest part, is doomed to perish. But this is not the way we feel it.

    Yes, mainly outside Catalonia. But rarely inside.
    I know people that feel very different; some feel only catalan, other only spanish, other spanish and catalan, other nor spanish nor catalan; some want independence, some want more autonomy, some want less autonomy or not autonomy at all; some speak only spanish, some both languages, some know them but only want to speak one…
    And there are not severe problems between them inside Catalonia. Most of them have friends on most of the other “groups”. There are not such things as people of one group not employing people of another group, or not leaving their children to be friends of other groups’ children, or refusing their sons and daughters to marry people of another group… There’s no kind of segregation and it doesn’t look like it will be ever. All Catalans are so used to this situation that an “apartheid” system has no chance in Catalonia. Be it independent or not.
    If you have any doubt about it, that only means you don’t know this country.

    VIII.A) It would be stupid to do so. But you can perfectly care for independence AND ALSO for more important things. C.U.P. (an independentist party) is now much more concerned with housing problem than independence.
    VIII.B) Independence is a very important matter. Why would spaniards be so upset with it if it was just a trifle? They think it would be an important enough reason to send the army and shoot people to prevent it!

    XIX.A.1) Read point V.B
    XIX.A.2) Spanish Public Administration is the most incompetent of Europe and probably worst of some African countries. It’s a real obstacle for business, for creating new jobs, for research and development. Getting rid of it is not a fancy: it’s a NEED.
    Perhaps, being independent we will build a shit similar to nowadays spanish Public Administration. But we would have a chance to make something better. Without independence we have NO CHANCE.
    XIX.A.3) Catalan public services are the worst of Spain because, for one reason or another, spanish government is not paying the budgeted money to catalan public services or pays it with delay. According to the information I read lately, the “Institut Català de la Salut” is living on the 2006 budget. No wonder they have serious problems to provide appropriate health services to the citizens!
    XIX.A.4) Madrid City Council debts are amazingly huge. But they go on spending more and more money. Everybody knows we all will pay the bill in the end (it won’t be the first time). They will argue that Madrid is the capital of all the Spanish, and consequently it’s the responsibility of all of us to pay its cost!
    XIX.A.5) In fact Catalonia is politically dependent of Spain but Spain is economically dependent of Catalonia. It would be better for us (and more accurate) to claim for spanish independence!
    XIX.B.1) Spanish nationalism is a real threat. Average spanish people are nationalist extremists. They look nice, but in the long term, if things turn really wrong, sharing a country with that kind of extremists can be really dangerous (ask Bosnian people). There is a very dark and violent side of spanish character most of foreigners don’t even suspect. Franco, Primo de Rivera, Fernando II wouldn’t have ruled without it.
    A good exercise for foreigners would be learning the meaning and all the implications of the very typical spanish word “esperpento”.
    XIX.B.2) Hysterical expressions of spanish nationalism are ubiquitous, even inside Catalonia, much more than catalan. Spanish nationalism is the strongest and more intolerant here around. If you are a real non-nationalist, you better fight spanish nationalism (the really dangerous one) not catalan nationalism (the weak and harmless one).
    XIX.C.1) Unity is strength, they say. Sure. But whose strength? The strength of all? Unfortunately not. It’s the strength of the few that manage to exploit the sum of all the individual strengths of the united. Political unity is the perfect basis for social injustice. It has always been so. I’m sorry if you don’t agree with me, but History leaves no doubt.
    XIX.C.2) Why are you so concerned with independence movement but not with unionism? Isn’t unionism the reverse of it and at least as irrational and unimportant as it? I will support anyone who blames independence movement in the same terms he blames unionism. But I cannot agree with those who condemn independence but justifies unionism.
    XIX.C.3) Can you give a single instance of a country having attained independence which has repented after? If independence is so bad, why don’t you blame independent countries to show their pride for being independent? Why, for example, don’t you require the U.S.A. to become again dependent of the U.K., or Greece to become again dependent of Turkey?

    That’s all I have to say. I’m sorry it was so long.
    You didn’t make me change my mind. It’s normal: think I have been thinking of nationalism and Catalan independence perhaps hundred or more times than you. This probably is a new matter of reflection for you, but not for me. Take what you like of my explanations.
    I don’t have time for further discussions.

  41. Humanist?

    The fact is you want to treat people from other parts of Spain as ‘immigrants’ in their own country.
    This is precisely what is creating a problem in your beloved region, and is the ugly side of nationalism.
    Your arguments are not met with sympathy by many foreigners. Nationalism in any form, when looked at from the outside, gives the impression of arrogance, pettiness and closed-mindedness.
    You are speaking to an EX-Nationalist. Travelling and living in other countries made me change my views. I wonder if the same could ever happen to you.

  42. Charles Ablett i Rocamora


    for 23 years the catalan nationalist party (CiU) promoted the use of catalan with subsidies, courses and campaigns and virtually nobody raised any complaint.

    For the last 7 years the catalan secessionist party (ERC) has forced a weak socialist government to impose PROHIBITIONS, OBLIGATIONS and SANCTIONS, with a maximum FINE of 1 MILLION EUROS. The result? Huge numbers of people think that this is UNJUST and WICKED. Ciutadans entered parliament 4 years ago as a direct result and looks likely to double or more the number of parliamentarians they have.

    The Estatut was so heavy-handed, so biased, so unconstitutional that the sentence was always going to be unfavourable. Result? Catalan CANNOT be the language of Preference; Linguistic immersion in schools is OK BUT catalas AND spanish MUST be equally used; Private persons and businesses MAY NOT be sanctioned for linguistic reasons; Catalunya CANNOT have a Judicial authority of equal rank to the Spanish and Catalunya MAY NOT prohibit spanish citizens from applying to the spanish ombudsman (Defensor del pueblo).

    The Estatut was like a heavy cannon aimed directly at the waterline of the Spanish Constitution, but with so much gunpowder rammed down the barrel that it has exploded right in the fae of the catalan nationalists.

    Dozens and dozens of laws passed in recent years are now UNCONSTITUTIONAL! The laws of Education, cinema ‘Acogida’, Consumer, linguistic protection and many more have been turned into very soggy paper, an extremely expensive waste of time and money.

    The MORALE of the tale is simple:- Each action has an equal and opposite reaction.

    The RABID, MOUTH-FOAMING INTOLERANCE of the last 7 years has produced a BACKLASH that is only just starting, with the suspension yesterday of Barcelona’s illegal linguistic prohibitions, the recourse to the constitutional tribunal announced the day before of the Education Law, and the recourse announced last week against the Consumer law, the investigation of the cinema law by european courts and so on.

    As I said in my first post, the catalan language must be encouraged, never IMPOSED.

    As a lover of the catalan language (btw, I have level ‘C’ and it was BLOODY DIFFICULT), i can’t say that I am entirely happy about it’s legal status being rolled back all the way to 1979, but it was entirely PREDICTABLE.

    Finally, my father was welsh with a french mother, my mother catalan; I was born in England, studied in Wales and moved to Barcelona as soon as I could. M;y passport is European. If Spain plays England, I don’t care who wins. You could say that I am a genuine NON-NATIONALIST.

    When I talk of NATIONALISM, I refer to nationalism as defined in Wikipedia’s english edition, I quote:-
    “The term nationalism was coined by Johann Gottfried Herder (nationalismus) during the late 1770s.[19] Precisely where and when nationalism emerged is difficult to determine, but its development is closely related to that of the modern state and the push for popular sovereignty that came to a head with the French Revolution and the American Revolution in the late 18th century.”

    I won’t bother going into your attacks on the Ciutadans Party. There are far too many errors to correct and I don’t have the time or the patience.

  43. First of, I want to cheer the efforts that Felipe has taken in writing this large text, or almost an article, really. There are some points I would like to react to, but right now, I don’t have the time. Still, I think you present your general case real well. I like your definition of me as an “individualist”, but I could add some more to that, which I hopefully will.
    I agree that Spain is a political disaster, but I still feel that up till now, no Catalan example shows any better (not CIU, not ERC, not even ICV/IU/whatever), and increasingly I doubt in Ciutadans as well, mainly because they seem to be a single-issue party, and I am principally against those.

    For that reason, it’s a pity Charles didn´t go deeper into what Felipe says about Ciutadans. I, for one, would be interested to know more about it.

    As for humanist, you clearly haven’t read anything Felipe wrote. I admit it’s a long text, but just repeating your same argument over and over won’t help.

    Anyway, I will hopefully react in more detail later.

  44. Humanist?

    Do you really think the steamroller of ‘Catalanism’ can be stopped?
    It seems it is now stronger than ever with the Catalan youth due to the education system of the last 25 years – a clever move by the conservative-nationalist party.
    I am afraid that the damage that has been done is only just now starting to be seen, and it will take a very long time to repair.
    For me, people like Fellip are not the main concern, but rather the youth who have been brainwashed into their biased and nationalist views since birth.
    A similar thing happened to me as I was growing up in Scotland. Before I knew why (primary school age) I was expressing my anger towards the English during football matches and the like.
    For me, the education system is the main culprit here. Primary school children are shouting abuse at each other over this. Young children are being called fascists by their peers. This is going to take a lot of work to fix, and it seems it is still very much a minority who even care.

  45. Charles Ablett i Rocamora

    Humanist, you may be right that it is too late to stop the brainwashing tht has been going on far too long, but we must at least make the effort.

    Matxiel, you say that Ciutadans is a one-issue party; not so, but only a tiny percentage of its political positions reach the general public through the nationalist controlled press, and basically, only the language based items ever make it through this filter.
    Please consult the following page to see their positions on an ectremely wide range of subjects:-

    Felip, you still believe that Ciutadans is some kind of right-wing spanish fascist party and it shows in your every comment.

    You are UTTERLY WRONG.

    Three years ago the Socialist Party in the Canaries Approved and published their Electoral Program for the autonomic elections of 2007, not realising that it had been COPIED directly from the Ciutadans electoral program. So obviously, their program cannot have been as right-wing or as single-issue as you would like to believe.

    Please consult their electoral program for the coming election before condemning them:-

    Felip, please also read the law banning Bullfighting and you will see that it assumes that the Generalitat will have to pay up to 500 million Euros in compensation. I am not in favour of bullfighting, but this is too high a proice to pay.

  46. matxil

    @Humanist: I agree that I have seen children and adolescents behave like that. But it is not typical Catalan. As you point out, it happens in Scotland too. And in Holland. And in Spain. It’s an aggressive, violent expresion of nationalism which I am sure all of us in this discussion dislike vehemently. One could argue that ERC (not CIU I think so much) is partly to blame for these radicals, but then so is puberty and a general sense of dissatisfaction amongst (young) people. Again, not typical Catalan. And for some part, one could even blame Spain for that.

    Criticize these radicals and/or ERC: very well. But then also criticize the horrible attitude of the PP and its consequences: racism, sexism, sexual violence and nationalism which it actively advocates. (we have just seen an example of its sexism last week!)

    @Charles: thanks for the links. I will certainly check them out. I hope Ciutadans is more than an one-issue party, and I hope they are more left wing than right wing. I haven’t heard them actively rule out the PP, for one thing. And I have heard rumours (admittedly, only rumours) that they have actually been supported by Aznar in the first place… I guess you will say this is not true?

    Your viewpoint about bull-fighting I don’t understand. How can stopping an atrocity cost money? To pay for the unemployment for the torreros, maybe? Loss of tourism, I don’t believe so. And the arenas could be used for other things. Anway, your argument is like saying that the USA should not stop its death penalty because it would cost money (all those jobs!). I hope you agree that it’s silly. Bullfighting, correbous, factory farming, these are all examples of cruel acts against animals (admittedly, bullfighting isn’t the worst form). On this subject, the only consistent party has been the IU, a point that even Rivera admitted in his interview on TV3 a few weeks ago.

  47. Humanist?

    Ciudadanos seems to me to be a Liberal party, more central than right or left.

    I was told by one of their members that they have tried to do some promotion in universities but that it was met with such violence from nationalists that they were asked to leave by the police.

    @Matxil – This debate is about Catalan nationalism and I am merely pointing out that our opinions are almost insignificant when compared to the strength of the predominantly nationalist Catalan youth (<30). Any argument against the rise of nationalism here in Catalunya will ultimately come up against a growing number of young nationalists who have been taught that Catalunya has always been, and always will be, a great nation which is superior to the rest of Spain.

  48. Charles Ablett i Rocamora

    According to the law passed, the bill just for closing down the Monumental stadium is going to cost the Generalitat between 300- 500 Million Euros in compensation to its’ proprietors, the Bolaña family.

    With that kind of money tou can build 6 brand-new hospitals, or reduce Catalonia’s deficit from 40.000 Million Euros to 39.500 Million Euros.

  49. Humanist?

    @ Charles

    If you are trying to make an argument against nationalism I would suggest that using the anti-bullfighting laws is not the most effective or popular way to do it.

  50. Humanist?

    Nationalism is a growing movement here and the only way to change it is through education. It seems to me that Catalunya – independent or not – will be divided for a very, very long time.

  51. matxil

    @Charles. I find it strange that one should give money to a family because they own a building which is used for disgusting activities. Why are the government obliged to pay them?
    Suppose I own a house where people could be hanged. Now, the law prohibits me hanging people. Now I should be paid in compensation?
    Let them look for another – more profitable – use of the stadium. Rock concerts, theatre, open-air cinema, or (in the worst case) even political meetings.

    Actually, indirectly you are – apparantly – agreeing with Felipe here. Felipe pointed out that our Western values are relative and we often try – wrongly – to convince other cultures (or nations) about our morals. (This is actually one of the points I have a different opinion than Felipe: I *do* think some values from some cultures are superior (more practical, less cruel, more humane) than others). You seem to think that Western morals about bull-fighting are not important as soon as money is involved. And I don’t agree. I think that bullfighting should stop. It’s not a nationalist issue for me, nor an economic issue, but simply a moral issue. And I don’t vote for a party who does not want to stop it, for whatever reason.

    @humanist: you still haven’t pointed out in what way Catalan youth is different from Spanish youth, Dutch youth, English youth etc… Yes, lots of them (and not only the young ones) are disgusting in their celebrations of nationalist feelings. What else is new? Most people are stupid. You want an update on the “PVV”, a party that currently in Holland is quite popular while promoting a “Real Holland” for the “Real Dutch”? Obviously I am against that. As I am against any aggresive, exclusive nationalism. It’s not an unique Catalan thing though. A party who protests that, should protest ALL nationalism. It should object against the imperialist “God bless America” USA, against the PP in Spain, AND against the ERC. Only then, it’s credible.

  52. Humanist?

    @Matxil. I didn’t say there was a difference, but we are debating nationalism here in Catalunya are we not? Of course nationalism is not exclusively Catalan – I have more than once compared nationalism here to nationalism in Scotland for example. However, I would say that a major problem here is we are talking about a supposed nation within a nation. I am able to say that I am both Scottish and British, whereas many nationalists here will not admit that they have two nationalities despite evidence to the contrary. Catalunya as it is at the moment has never actually been a country, so we are talking about creating a new country.
    I don’t actually care whether or not Catalunya becomes a separate country in the future. What concerns me is that while it is a part of Spain its government and people continue to act as though it is not. It is the purist, superior and sometimes aggressive nature of the nationalism that I also find worrying.

  53. Charles Ablett i Rocamora

    Humanist, I have never been to a bullfight and never will. I am delighted that it will stop, in Catalonia at least. It was dying out, anyway, with very few shows a year. I have NO IDEA as to why the Law includes a clause that provides for a HUGE compensation to be paid to the owners of the bullring, BUT IT DOES. That’s the law as written and approved.

    I just think that 500 million euros is too high a price to pay to save maybe 100 bulls/year from being killed in the ring, especially when the SAME government and the SAME political parties spend hundreds of thousand of Euros paying for CORREBOUS that leave many bulls blinded by fire.

    Banning one but protecting and paying for the other is blatant hipocresy, but that’s Nationalism for you; one law for our people, a different law for everybody else.

  54. matxil

    @humanist My point is rather: nationalism is something of all places. There is no known cure against it. Suppresion certainly isn’t, on the contrary. There are lots of examples of “nations within nations”, and some of them had rather bloody consequences, as former Yugoslavia easily shows.
    It is a tragedy that people want to be part of “something bigger” (nation, religion, footbal team), but people do.

    Fighting against that is equally silly (and unconvincing) as fighting in favour of it.
    Personally, my point is not on a general level fighting nationalism (there is no point) but on a personal level asking myself why people want to waste time on it. I question the individuals I know of, who apparantly think this is something to fight for. I don’t question the fact of nationalism, because there is no way it will ever disappear, an inevitable evil, like earthquakes, American remakes of good movies and squashed tomatoes on innocent slices of bread.

    In the end, it’s all academic anyway. The unemployment, the living conditions, the economy, the political climate, the sexism is so terribly bad here (in Spain and Catalunya), that anyway, their real issue is to get to learn English and be a bit more modern. Luckily, there are more and more guirris here, more and more international companies, more and more globalization and their influence gets bigger, not smaller. (The first where you notice that is in issues of the stomache. The bread is getting better and supermarkets get more international food).

    Catalunya will never be independent, and it will never be Spanish either. I can’t think of any place in the world where it is any different or better.

    What I would like is one (just one) political party who:
    – favours good education (and yes, being in Catalunya, that would mean in Catalan AND Spanish).
    – I say it again: good education on matters like maths, foreign languages, culture, etc..
    – Real measures about the environment
    – Real solutions on the housing problem
    – Real solutions on the unemployment
    – Real solutions on sexual violence
    – Insight and solutions on issues of immigration
    – Clear stance on seperation religion/state, religious intolerance (catholics, islam),
    – Clear stance for animal rights (factory farming, bullfights, …)

    And last (but certainly not least): stop the mud-throwing, and start a real, adult, mature debate in Parlement! (that means: with arguments).

    Now, *that* would be a political movement I would be interested in! And my bet is, if that movement existed, all that nationalist crap would not be such a big thing anymore and most people would not care one way or the other.

  55. matxil

    For that matter, I haven’t heard Ciutadans about that ridiculous visit of that criminal from the Vatican either. Nor any other so-called “progressive, left-wing” party, spanish or catalan. Talking about wasting money…

  56. Felip

    I really didn’t want to go on with this. But I can’t help answering Charles.
    I NEVER said Ciutadans are fascists. I only said they are nationalists and, consequently, liars.

    About the cost of banning bullfights, I didn’t know the law included an economical compensation to the Balañá family. I agree with Matxil: no reason to pay them anything. But I would like to know wich is the cost of public subventions to bullfight. I know they exist and are very expensive, but I don’t know the exact amount. Perhaps, paying them 500 million euro would be less expensive than subsidizing them year after year… it depends on the amount.
    But in any case yo have to admit that compensating the Balañás is a good reason to be against this law, not to be against bullfight banning.

    You all agree in one point: nationalism is increasing among catalans. I don’t think so. I’m born here and I can swear that catalan nationalism was much harder 30 or 40 years ago. Catalan nationalism is lessening strenght every year. On the other hand, spanish nationalism decreased a lot (at least apparently) just after Franco’s death. But I think it was only an illusion. Now it’s growing in a geometric progression.
    Before talking of catalan nationalism, please inquire a little: ERC are looked upon by independentists as mild and traitors. ERC doesn’t have any kind of appeal or influence on young independentist people. If you want to find the real “brainwashers” look for Maulets, MDT, CUP, PSAN and so on. But are they really “brainwashers”? And if so, which political party isn’t?

    I insist: don’t be so afraid of catalan nationalists. They are completely harmless. And never underestimate the danger of spanish nationalism!
    I understand you: you look on spansih nationalism as a matter of fact; something you assume as natural and logical. Of course, because you are unconcious nationalists. And you see catalan nationalism as a threat because you didn’t expect that to exist in XXIst century. But if one day you come to face the situation objectively, you will find out that spanish nationalism is the real threat. Not only for catalans, I assure you.

  57. Felip

    Another answer for Charles:
    I voted against this new and completely stupid Estatut. For many reasons. Its awful writing wasn’t the least. But mainly because no spanish “estatut d’autonomia” is good for me, as no spanish “Generalitat de Catalunya” is good for me. I don’t want to share sovereignty with people living 1000 kms from my home. I’m suffering enough of sharing it with people living 100 kms from me… and even of sharing it with anyone!

    And finally.
    none of you answered my questions:

    Why being for independence is bad and being for union is OK?
    Which is the intrinsic good in unionism that lacks in independentism?
    Which is the intrinsic good of spanish compulsory laws that lack in catalan compulsory laws?
    Is there any non-compulsory law that count for anything?
    Which is the intrinsic good in compulsory spanish education that lacks in compulsory catalan education?

    Really, read spanish Constitution. You will see: all spanish citizens are forced to know spanish. There is not such thing in any Estatut d’Autonomía!
    Did you know that catalan (and galician and euskera) are forbidden by law in many official circumstances in Spain? They are FORBIDDEN! Spanish is NOT FORBIDDEN in any circumstance in Catalonia or Basque Country.
    How do you dare to say there is a persecution against spanish in Catalonia? It’s a BLATANT LIE!

  58. Charles Ablett i Rocamora

    Felip, I believe in God and I believe that it will be sunny tomorrow. I know as a FACT that there are seven days in each week and that there is persecution of spanish in Catalonia. Not everywhere, it’s true; not in the street, for example. But it’s there and it’s REAL in public administrations, public TV and Radio, schools and in the swathe of Laws passed in recent years.

    Just the other day the Catalan Superior Court of Justice suspended the linguistic regulations of Barcelona City Hall FORBIDDING the use of spanish as being discriminatory against spanish speakers. So you can see that I am not the only one.

    “La sección quinta del Contencioso Administrativo del Tribunal Superior de Justicia de Cataluña (TSJC) ha suspendido cautelarmente varios artículos del reglamento de uso del catalán del Ayuntamiento de Barcelona y de la Diputación de Lleida porque considera que discriminan el castellano.”

    Non-nationalists DO exist; I am living proof of it, having parents and grand parents from several different nations. Just because YOU are a nationalist, it does not mean that everyone is a Nationalist. It would be like a blind person being convinced that everyone else is also blind.

  59. Felip

    “…considera que discriminan el castellano.”
    They consider it, but they aren’t in possession of truth.
    They think that law DISCRIMINATES spanish, not that it FORBIDS it!
    I think that law (I admit I did’nt read it) does’nt forbid anything. I heard it talks of “language priority”. Correct me if I’m wrong. But do it the right way, please: quoting the text, not just giving opinions.

    I don’t believe in non-nationalists as I don’t believe in gods or ghosts. It sounds to me like fairy tale. But I admit I can be wrong.
    My grand parents were also from different nations, and one of them was a real “no country man”: born in Vigo, emigrated when 6 years old to Puerto Rico, started his first business in Paris, then ruling businesses in Geneve and Torino, married in San Sebastian with a colombian girl (my grand-mother) and finally established in Barcelona.
    But I think this is not the point. The point is not how you feel like. The real thing is if you assume existing nations or not. An example: you said “having parents and grand parents from several different nations”, not “different countries or regions”. Humanist also said “you want to treat people from other parts of Spain as ‘immigrants’ in their own country”. The very idea of someone having an “own country” sounds 100% nationalist to me. I can say I belong to a country, but don’t dare to declare a country as “mine”!
    I’m not saying you’re welsh, english or spanish nationalist. I’m saying you probably believe in nations, especially in nations with an independent state to support them. And this is why you probably think as a natural matter people from New Zealand supporting the “All Blacks”, and you probably don’t throw up when you see the olympic games opening ceremony.
    I’m very reluctant to blieve people who say they are perfect non-nationalist, because my experience is they are just self-decieving. It’s just like people who say they are no sexist. I only believe them after knowing them for years and not having detected the least shadow of sexism in their behavior. It almost never happens.

  60. Felip

    I was thinking of brainwashing.
    I’m always shocked when I hear people saying young “abertzale” or the young jihadist are being brainwashed. Of course they are brainwashed. If you think carefully, all culturally acquired information is brainwashing. So, who isn’t brainwashed? Mowgli, perhaps? Or Rousseau’s Noble Savage?
    At birth we only have healthy and natural stimuli: “Mom”, “tit”, “hug”, “caress”, “sleep”, “piss”, “shit”. Over time we acquire new natural stimuli: “eat”, “drink”, “play”, “fight”, “strut around”, “love”, “hate”, “fuck”, “run away”…
    But since a very young age our family and society fills up our head with “nice”, “nasty”, “good”, “evil”, “right”, “wrong”, “rights”, “duties”, “money”, “god”, “justice”, “ownership”, “power”, “soul”, “love (in a romantic sense)”, “pride”, “cool”, “sexy”, “glamour”… all those ideas that constitute culture. They are brainwashing us! We don’t choose those ideas freely and they don’t lead us to individual freedom!
    Snow White, le Contrat Social, Star Wars, the Holy Bible, Playboy, Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, the football offside rules, The Reader’s Digest, The Koran, The Iliad, Les 120 jours de Sodome et Gomorrhe, The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Friends, The General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money, Who’s Who, Encyclopædia Britannica… BRAINWASHING!
    “an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth”, “turn the other cheek”, “liberté, égalité, fraternité”, “I had a dream”, “arbeit macht frei”, “make love, not war”, “tierra y libertad”, “no future”, “se non è vero, è ben trovato”, “I wish they all could be California girls”, “la lah illa al-lah”, “Deus é brasileiro”, “be yourself”, “prefiero morir de pie a vivir arrodillado”, “I’m loving it”, “cogito ergo sum”, “om mani padme hum”, “Britannia rules the waves”, “New York, New York”, “hari Krishna”, “interdit d’interdire”, “la tierra es de quien la trabaja”, “all you need is love”, “debout les damnés de la terre”, “blood, sweat and tears”, “here and now”, “travail, famille, patrie”, “unus Dominus, una fides, unum baptisma”, “Merry Christmas and happy New Year”, “yes, we can”… BRAINWASHING!
    Nationalism is also brainwashing. Of course: it’s culture! (Yes, It’s culture. You have to admit it: it’s not something like gravitation, oxidation or mitosis.)
    The point is we tend to say “brainwashing” when we don’t like it and say “values” when we like it. It’s exactly the same that happens with “terrorist”; it’s the word we use when it’s our enemy. When it’s our friend we say “hero”.

  61. Charles Ablett i Rocamora


    I am very glad that you have written this lastest contribution as it highlights what I think is the basic problem:-

    What YOU understand as Nationalism and what WE understand as Nationalism are COMPLETELY DIFFERENT!

    When you talk of Nationalism you are talking of love of one’s own country and I think everybody is guilty of that. Patriotism has, on the other hand, connotations of ‘my country, right or wrong’, and is far less prevalent.

    When WE talk of Nationalism we are talking about Nationalism as defined in the English dictionary or as explained in the english version of Wikipedia. I will quote wikipedia’s versión:-

    Nationalism involves a strong identification of a group of individuals with a political entity defined in national terms, i.e. a nation. Often, it is the belief that an ethnic group has a right to statehood,[1] or that citizenship in a state should be limited to one ethnic group, or that multinationality in a single state should necessarily comprise the right to express and exercise national identity even by minorities.[2]

    It can also include the belief that the state is of primary importance, or the belief that one state is naturally superior to all other states.[3][4] It is also used to describe a movement to establish or protect a homeland (usually an autonomous state) for an ethnic group. In some cases the identification of a national culture is combined with a negative view of other races or cultures.[5]

    Conversely, nationalism might also be portrayed as collective identities towards imagined communities which are not naturally expressed in language, race or religion but rather socially constructed by the very individuals that belong to a given nation.[6] Nationalism is sometimes reactionary, calling for a return to a national past, and sometimes for the expulsion of foreigners. Other forms of nationalism are revolutionary, calling for the establishment of an independent state as a homeland for an ethnic underclass.

    Nationalism emphasizes collective identity – a ‘people’ must be autonomous, united, and express a single national culture.[7] However, some nationalists stress individualism as an important part of their own national identity.[8]

    National flags, national anthems, and other symbols of national identity are often considered sacred, as if they were religious rather than political symbols. Deep emotions are aroused.[9][10][11][12] Gellner and Breuilly, in Nations and Nationalism, contrast nationalism and patriotism. “If the nobler word ‘patriotism’ then replaced ‘civic/Western nationalism’, nationalism as a phenomenon had ceased to exist.”[13][14][15]

    It then goes on to mentión ‘National Purity’ (shades of Anglada) and Ethnocentrism.

    If we turn to the definition of Nationalism in a catalan dictionary, there really isn’t much difference. I quote from the Enciclopèdia Catalana Dictionary:-
    “Actitud política derivada directament del fet d’atibuir, en un terreny eticopolític, un valor altissim al fet nacional o a la nació”

    So quite clearly Nationalism cannot be considered to be a base state or something that everybody suffers from; it is obviously describing an extreme condition, as seen on many forums such as, where many extremists consider that the malversation of 379,000 Euros by ERC Counsellors in unjustified subsidies to Soberania i Progrés is JUSTIFIED as being necessary in order to pave the way to an independent state.

    Similarly, many nationalists considered the death threats made to Albert Rivera as being totally justified, just as many basque Nationalists consider violence or the threat of violence to be a morally acceptable means of advancing Nationhood.

    I leave you a few quotable quotes (in spanish) that for me describe Nationalism far better than I can:-

    • “El nacionalismo es particularismo devastador, egoísmo disolvente y factor de debilitamiento democrático, toda vez que defiende la existencia de unos derechos colectivos, proclives a todos los populismos, que casi siempre son incompatibles con los principales derechos individuales.”
    Antonio Papell

    • “Daría la mitad de mi vida para que los nacionalistas pudieran defender sus tesis, pero la otra mitad la necesito para batallar para que los nacionalistas no consigan lo que pretenden”

    • ‎”El nacionalismo es la cultura de los incultos, una entelequia ideológica construida de manera tan obtusa y primaria como el racismo (y su correlato inevitable), que hace de la pertenencia a una abstracción colectivista -la nación- el valor supremo y la credencial privilegiada de un individuo.”
    Mario Vargas Llosa.

  62. Ok, now I´ll try to answer Felipe, point by point (and trying to keep it short)


    Nationalism or a sense of belonging to a group has been of all ages. Still, I think there is a difference between a tribe in which a group of people are mutually dependent on each other and feel close in origin, culture and language as opposed to a huge group of people (more than, say, ten thousand) which claim to be part of “some nationalist” feeling, which is always a myth. More than ten thousand people never share as much as they think. And even less so in our modern world, full of Facebook, Lonely Planets and Mac Donalds.
    In that way, I certainly think that “modern nationalism” is at least an anachronism and at its worst a populist lie. And here, we probably get to the other definition of nationalism, as given by Charles.

    I agree with Charles that there is a misunderstanding here, because when you, Felipe, write about certain Catalan food, or songs, it seems you refer more to the traditional, cultural definition and not so much to the political, populist definition (I am not sure I understood Charles very well though).
    I don´t deny we all have these sentiments you mention, just as you do. I´ll say more about that later.

    The form of nationalism as defined by Charles, is obviously often a bad thing. But I am not sure how much Catalan nationalism is like that. He says it is. I don´t know. I do know American nationalism is like that. English nationalism is like that. And I can believe easily Spanish nationalism is like that. I have little reason to believe that Catalan nationalism, in the long run, will be different.

    The nationalism as expressed by you, Felipe, I have noticed a lot in Catalunya. I know it exists. And it is this type of nationalist which I “attack” mainly here. (And that is why my attack is different from that of Charles or humanist.) Not because I think it´s wrong or dangerous. But I find it silly, slightly ridiculous and sometimes annoying.


    I admit, I liked being called an “universal individualist type”. But I understand, partly, your criticism as well.

    Of course I have nationalist sentiments. But that doesn´t mean I have to take these sentiments seriously. As you know, I am very much against religions, but I am sure I have religious sentiments myself. I am against sexism and racism, but I can´t claim I never have sexist or racist thoughts. I think we all have them sometimes. Which makes me think that not all sentiments are equal. Some are less worth than others. Of course, this “value system” again is completely culturally dependent. (So yes, I am brainwashed too. But since we all are, it´s neither here nor there.)

    Based on my culture, I distrust nationalist sentiments, both in myself as in others.

    So, what about the sentiments you mentioned, like enjoying food from “your culture”, songs from your grandmother, and all that? Nothing wrong with that. But then, be fair. How much can these be called deeply rooted in “your culture”? How much of these are a realistic base for “nationalist sentiments”?

    In Holland our food is characterised by potatoes. But you know where potatoes come from. Which means that a Dutchman of 500 years ago did not eat it. And didn´t sing the same songs as me. Nor decorate christmas trees. Nor smoke hashish. Nor wear orange t-shirts when his national futbal team played. Nor have a national futbal team. Not eat rice with peanutbutter sauce. Nor … etc… I doubt that it´s any different for “Catalan culture”. You yourself told me once that the Sardana is a dance invented only in the 19th century. Does that matter? Of course not. But is it a reason for feeling part of “some big tradition or culture”? No, not really.

    I think you make a mistake in translating these real sentiments, which are much more like “nostalgia” into “national sentiment”. The nostalgian sentiments we all have. They are great. The translation into a “nationalist sentiment” we also all make, true, but we should not take that too seriously.

    Put it the other way around: whenever we feel “nationalist”, as a matter of fact what we feel is “nostalgic”. All these other “nationalist feeling people”, feel just as nostalgic, but surely their nostalgic memories and feeling are different. That´s why this nationalist unity is – at best – a myth, based on real feelings of various people but on their false sentiment of “being one”.

    Of course, as with any religion or fictional myth, if you feel happier believing in it, go ahead. And if you want to base a country on that belief, go ahead too. You wouldn´t be the first. All countries are based on irrational beliefs, and Israel is only the most mind-staggeringly obvious example of it.

    Meanwhile, we can enjoy our grandmother´s songs and our local food customs without taking it as some kind of proof of deeply rooted traditions.


    No. Not more than English, Spanish, Dutch, Frisian, Welsh, etc… nationalism. If I would live in Madrid I would have this same argument against Spanish nationalism. I think you know me well enough to know that I would. And it would be an equally useless discussion. But that never stopped me.


    No. But it´s boring (again: not more so than English, Spanish, Dutch, etc…). And sometimes ugly. I don´t like what I see on 11 september in Barcelona. But I also don´t like what I see during a football game Holland-Germany. I am sure I wouldn´t like to see the 4th of July in the USA either. But I don´t understand why you would criticize American nationalism, but favour Catalan nationalism. Criticize both or neither. (Which is basically what you blame Ciutadans for as well, but then the other way around.)

    I recognize that Catalans do the same as Welsh, Frisians, Scots, Bosnians, Tibetans, Palestinians all over the world. I don´t want to stop them. I know I can´t stop them. I just think that in some of these cases, it makes less sense than in others.
    And in (almost) all of these cases I think: if you really really really would want to improve life, just stop talking about “nationalist sentiments” (according to your definition not Charles´) and “tradition” and “identity”. Be more practical: demand that the money is well spent in Catalunya, demand a Federal system in Spain, demand less centralization, demand respect for the Catalan language, demand that bull-fighting AND correbous stops, demand (if you want) independence. But don´t base your independence on “nationalist sentiments”, base it on common sense or practical reasons or economic reasons or whatever rational, practical reason you can think of. In that case, I wouldn´t think it was so silly anymore.

    An extra advantage would be that without these sentiments (not “grandma´s songs” – which are fine – but the translation into “nationalist sentiments”), you would run less danger of ending up with that other kind of nationalism, as defined by Charles. Because the dangerous form of nationalism is always based on sentimentalism. It would not work without it.


    Don´t know. Nobody knows. I don´t think you have much industry. But then again, neither does Spain. Maybe you could beg France to allow you to be part of their country?


    No. I speak and understand English and Spanish. And I understand Catalan. Maybe, if I would have children, I would like them to learn English and Spanish well, and I would be pissed off for having to pay more for that. Then again, Spanish education is shit anyway and apparantly in Spain it´s even worse than in Catalunya. Good education would mean: good education in Spanish AND Catalan, simply because both languages are equally important here, at least in Barcelona.

    On the other hand, I am lucky enough to live in Barcelona. Outside (in Gerona) my experiences were less good. Also, what you said about people happily switching languages and not minding which languages are spoken, might be true for your relatively academic, may I say “elite” circle of friends, but it is a fact that not all people are like that. Especially outside Barcelona people´s behaviour is rather different. Even as a guiri, at least at principle more apt in Spanish than Catalan (which I think is logical) one would get very much criticised, frowned upon etc… People who on purpose speak Catalan with me, “to teach me”, and that kind of paternalistic attitudes…
    And – to be honest – I am pretty sure a Frisian, Welsh, Irish, Breton, etc… would NOT do that! Not with me, at least.


    Hatred? Not with me. Irritation yes.


    You explained very well why and you gave some good reasons. Still, I would advice you to be more practical about it. Forget about the banners, forget about Franco, forget about your deep traditional roots that should not be lost for the future (which is exactly the sort of rubbish I have to listen to a lot here (and in Holland, England, USA, etc…)). I don´t care who says it, I always find it absolutely insane if someone wants to preserve one´s culture for future generations. Those poor Etrusks!

    Instead, as I said before, concentrate on the money, the lousy administration, the terrible public transport, etc. etc. Be practical. Meanwhile, privately, you can believe in any myths you want but leave them out of politics. And enjoy your nostalgy for what they are: nostalgia to a time that will never come back.

  63. Humanist?

    To Matxil and Charles

    It appears to me that we have all enjoyed this debate, and although we maybe do not agree with each other 100% on everything (which is always a good thing) I am sure we can appreciate the different points that have been made.

    I would, however, like to point out that Felip has been inventing things, contradicting himself and just downright argumentative for the sake of it all the way through this discussion. For this reason I feel it could go on forever and I would advise you not to give him any more excuses to add any more of his lengthy contributions (my opinion of course).

    So this will be my last contribution. I am sad to say that my girlfriend and I will be leaving Catalunya to try and start a family elsewhere as we would not want to bring up children here, mainly because of the education system being in Catalan, but also because of the Catalan nationalists and their government’s determination to force people to use the Catalan language.

    Personally I am sick of it and tired of the nationalist argument after nine years of living here. I am tired of each day having to decide whether it would be better to say ‘adios’ or ‘adeu’ depending on the person I am speaking to…

    To be honest, neither of us realised before coming here how many people were against Spanish culture, which was disappointing. We were totally ignorant of the situation here. We have also not really been impressed by much of the Catalan culture of which many are so proud. With the exception of pan con tomate, of course. We have often found Catalan people to be closed, unfriendly or grumpy. There is also sometimes a superior attitude amongst people here which tries to hide a much bigger inferiority complex. Of course we have made some good friends here too so I am not generalising.

    Anyway, I digress. Thank you for the debate, I have found it very interesting and helpful in coming to some conclusions.

  64. Charles Ablett i Rocamora

    To Humanist,

    I’m sorry to hear that you will be leaving us, though I can fully understand why – my wife is 100% catalan and catalan speaking – has often talked of going into exile if Catalonia ever becomes independent.

    I too have thoroughly enjoyed this forum, and it has been useful as well in helping me to understand more deeply the motives and arguments of the catalan nationalists.

    This is because I have decided to stand for Mayor of Sant Just Desvern in May’s elections, for Ciutadans. My wife, despite being catalan. fully backs me up on this as she is fed up of petty nacionalist provincial attitudes.

    I would really like to meet up for a beer with you and Matxiel some time for a good get together – mail me and let me know if that sounds ok and to let me know what day suits you.

  65. matxil

    @humanist. I am sorry you feel like that, and I wish you all the luck to find a better place for you and your family. A question out of curiosity: did you live in Barcelona or outside?

    @Charles. Good luck with standing for mayor. Especially in the countryside, Ciutadans might be a refreshing change. I saw a video of Ciutadans on Youtube (I think in Sant Just, but maybe I am wrong) and the respons of the people seemed very positive. Having a beer one day would be grand, I´ll let you know when I have some time. This coming week is impossible, because my parents will be here on visit (and NO, certainly not because of the pope! :)).

    P.S. @humanist
    With what you say about Catalans, you actually seem to proof Felipe´s point: “Catalan culture” according to you is different from “Spanish culture”, although less to your liking. Whereas my point is that neither culture really exists, although they try very hard to claim differently. How do you feel about “Spanish culture” by the way? “Follar zorras japonesas de 13 años” which according to a Spanish former minister of culture is “just like Nabokov”?

  66. Felip

    Well I think everybody is leaving the debate.

    I’m sorry for Humanist too. I’m completely sure that you have had no luck at all. You’re the first foreigner I know that wants to leave Catalonia because of catalan nationalism. Even my german aunt has been more than 50 years living here and complaining of bloody catalans every day. But she’s still here. Not to be close of her family: she’s divorced of my uncle and never visit her two sons! But she’s still here…
    I agree with you, though, when you say catalan culture is not so impressive. In fact it’s rather poor in my opinion. Absolutely nothing compared with any italian region culture.
    I’m also sorry you really wanted to convince me. I understand your point of view but don’t agree with it because I think it has meny gaps.

    I agree also with Charles. We are speaking of different ideas of nationalism. But I don’t think this dictionary definition to be contradictory with my idea. I was trying to put the accent on the fact you are nationalist not only when you feel to be “national” of some nation but also when you accept nations other than yours as a matter of fact. Accepting ideas as countries being someone’s own or national symbols as flags or anthems meaning anything at all. In the particular case of Ciutadans, I was clear and repeat it: if they have therr options, namely a) there is only nation inside spanish borders named Spain, b) there are many nations inside spanish borders, c) there is no nation inside spanish borders, Ciutadans don’t choose c) but a), and this is pure nationalism.
    I insist also in saying you never proved there is any kind of persecution against spanish in Catalonia. Your arguments were amazingly weak. Of course: you go in the street and see it clearly: there is ABSOLUTELY no problem in using spanish for anyone. Everybody can address any catalan Public Administration in spanish without any problem. Try it as many times as you want. But, on the contrary, try to adress to Justice in Catalonia in catalan and you probably find difficulties. You perfectly know it’s true. Don’t try to decieve us!

    Well Matxil, I enjoyed your “point by point” answer. I only find XIX (indeed, it might have been IX!!!) answer rather disappointing. My arguments for independence didn’t involve at all the struggle to defend catalan culture against constant (and very real) spanish attacks. I talked about economics (mainly) and compared independence with unionism not finding any intrinsic superiority between them, and then concluding independence is not worst than union.
    The struggle to defend catalan culture is probably insanity, but in any case I don’t want a Catalan State to fight it. I feel it’s my own reponsability and I take it on my shoulders without asking for any kind of help. I don’t really care if the rest of catalans give it up. As long as I live it will be catalan culture around. And after death I don’t care what will happen.

  67. Humanist?

    I know I have said my goodbyes but I just couldn’t resist pointing out the irony of the latest, most ridiculous and most revealing comment from Felip.

    ‘after death I don’t care what will happen’

    I can only presume that you don’t have children. You have revealed your level of narrow-mindedness and selfishness with this comment.

    You typify the Catalan Nationalist perfectly and I will be using your comments on this web page to show others the reasons for me leaving.

  68. matxil

    @humanist. I am not sure I like the aggression in your tone very much. Also, taking someone’s comments out of context is a very cheap way to “win” (as if there is something to win) a discussion. If you are really upset about Catalan nationalism, then I understand you need to express that, but respect for other people’s opinions must be a priority for any discussion to make sense.
    Felipe’s “after death I don’t care what happen” comment was a point against “Catalan nationalism” as a means to preserve a culture, and moreover, a reaction against my argument that “it is silly to preserve a culture for the future”.
    As such, your comment is not only out of order, it is also completely missing the point.

    Also, with an attitude like this, I doubt you would fair any better in any country outside your own motherland.

  69. matxil

    @Felipe. Then the conclusion would be that we agree about point IX. But then the discussion has changed a bit, because originally the discussion indeed was about independence as a means to preserve Catalan culture/traditions etc… If indeed it would be presented for practical reasons (economy, administration, politics), I would not object to it at all. However, the fact that even here in Catalunya there is not a single political movement that makes any sense to me, makes me doubt that an independent state would do any better. Maybe yes, maybe no.

    Still, the current politics is not about that. The current politics (from both sides) is about implementing a sense of “them against us”, using nationalist sentiments about “Catalan/Spanish culture” as fuel on the fire. Both Catalan politics as Spanish politics are doing this, and I am increasingly convinced they do that in order to avoid talking about real problems: housing, economy, unemployment, domestic violence, education, corruption, etc…

  70. Humanist?


    I would appreciate if you could please explain how my tone is aggressive.

    Also, how the comment ‘I don’t care what happens after I die’ can only be narrow-minded and selfish if taken out of context baffles me.

    I would recommend reading back over Felip’s comments throughout this debate to see how his argument is full of lies and inconsistencies. His debating technique is typical of the Nationalist, ie. so long-winded and peppered with so-caled ‘facts’ that most people give up trying to reason with them.
    I know this would be a long and tiresome process, but I would be happy to do it for you if you can’t find the time. Just let mw know and I will email you a word document.

    I sincerely thank you again for this debate: it has inspired me to set up a blog page of my own!

  71. matxil

    Using personal adjectives in a discussion, like “selfish” or “narrow-minded”, is aggresive in my book.

    I know Felipe personally and he is neither selfish nor narrow-minded.

    His comment was supposed to mean the contrary: he has his tastes and preferences, but is not interested in imposing his tastes and preferences unto future generations. I.e.: he doesn’t care what happens to future generations because it is none of his business how future generations feel. I agree 100% with him about this. And that doesn’t mean I want the world to be nuked after I die.

  72. Humanist?

    Thank you for your last reply.
    Perhaps the fact that you know Felip personally is affecting your ability to debate here. If I have offended Felip then I apologise. It seems that I might have offended you more in which case I apologise to you too. I thought it was obvious that the adjectives I used were referring to his comment and its implications. Of course if you know Felip personally then you are able to interpret his comments in another way from me.
    Maybe if I also knew him personally I would be able to dismiss some of his comments as irrelevant to him, but the anonymity of the discussion is precisely why I have enjoyed this debate so much. Debating on forums such as these allows people of differing views to share their opinions, and learn from each other in a way that can be measured and without violence.
    However, I still do not see how a comment such as ‘I don’t care what happens after I die’ is relevant in any political debate. To say ‘It is none of my business how different generations feel’ is an entirely different statement from ‘I don’t care what happens to future generations’. I merely feel his comment was more revealing than you are giving it credit for.
    Despite Felip’s English being far from perfect, as an English teacher who has worked here for almost 10 years, and considering I have read over 15,000 words written by him (wordcount!) I do feel he is able to express himself well enough to not make such a statement by accident, and I certainly don’t think he needs you to defend him.

  73. matxil

    Well, I don’t agree with your interpretation of that sentence, but that would be an endless debate I think. On one thing I do agree, Felipe certainly does not need me to defend him, you are right about that. My main motive for what I wrote was that I didn’t like to see the discussion getting so personal.
    Anyway, I accept your apologies and I am glad you didn’t mean your comments as aggresively as I interpreted them.

  74. Felip


    When I said “and after death I don’t care what will happen” I was talking of catalan culture. So, I meant I don’t care what will happen with catalan culture. Because I know cultures evolve, mix up, appear, disappear… and I will leave future generations do what they want with it. I think it will be their responsibility not mine.

  75. Humanist?


    I must say that you really excel in contradicting yourself.
    So you don’t care what happens to Catalan culture when you die?
    On the other hand you certainly seem to care a lot about Catalan culture from before you were born.
    Does this mean that Catalan history is more important to you than Catalan future?

  76. Felip


    You’re right: nowadays politics are disgusting in both sides. A revolution or independence or or any other change of political status would change the political scenery and so, probably, will change somehow also political class.
    You have to admit those changes happen: Castro is not the same of Batista and Nehru was not the same of Lord Mountbatten.
    I think the worst scenery for an independent Catalonia would be being ruled by the same assholes (you know: Mas, Montilla, Puigcercós, Saura, Rivera…) It wouldn’t be worst than now. Don’t you think?

  77. Felip


    I don’t care about how catalan culture will turn out after I’m dead. I will be dead, so I won’t have any chance to care of it.
    Now I’m alive, and I care for what happens with my life and what happens with people around me. One of the things that happen with our lives is historical inheritance. I mean: lots of things are happening around us that have an historical origin. So, I’m involved with them and want to know what happened and Why it happened.
    Is it so strange?
    I don’t see any contradiciton.

  78. Felip


    I said before I care of Catalan culture, and I feel responsible of it mainly in an individual ground. I think keeping it alive is my individual responsability even if every other people give it up.
    I’m not the kind of person that goes around teaching other people how to act or feel. I admit I sometimes try to be a little proselytizing, not only about all this catalan stuff. I’m usually more proselytizing about hate against modern “democratic” State, about materialism, or about the importance of classical culture.

  79. Felip


    I’m sorry to write too long answers. I can’t avoid it. perhaps it’s because of my poor english level. I always feel I have too add more things to be clear enough.
    As for Matxil being my friend, I didn’t notice it had affected his objectivity. When we meet and discuss this or other matters he have no mercy on my opinions.

  80. Humanist?


    The point I am trying to make is that the past has shaped your present world.
    You justify your reasons for independence by using historical events with no regard for the future. This is offensive to me.
    You compare your vision of an independent Catalunya with countries in completely different situations.
    Anyway, I have been reading over all of your points and I would like to highlight some of the most contradictory or false parts (in my opinion of course):

    ‘Franco was a very clever guy and Hitler was incredibly stupid’

    ‘I hate especially the argument that says that Catalonia has never been actually independent. This is simply false.’

    ‘Catalonia has been actually independent for centuries and a part of it is independent even now.’

    ‘no catalan nationalist pretends that Valencia or Aragon belongs to Catalonia. ‘

    ‘I NEVER talked about Catalonia as an INDEPENDENT NATION.’

    ‘So, you simply cannot say Catalonia has never been independent. ‘

    ‘Well, I think it’s enough about nationalism and history. In any case I don’t think they are the main question. Let’s talk of other matters.’

    ‘I finally don’t agree with you when you say Catalan government is trying to impose Catalan. ‘

    ‘In Spain, and even in many places inside Catalonia, every time a Catalan declares to feel Catalan but not Spanish he is insulted, when not beated. This is a fact we can test scientifically some day.’

    ‘Ok, catalan administration doesn’t respect human rights. ‘

    ‘No catalan law compells no one to know Catalan language. ‘

    ‘I am tempted to think that if we can’t be independent, it would be better for us to depend of Morocco.’

    ‘why so few complain of catalan education and why don’t they settle more spanish private schools? I can answer both questions: because those who actually complain don’t have the lest interest in having their children educated in spanish (or in any other language); they complain because they are spanish ultra-nationalists. ‘

    ‘In my opinion, a human individual is an abstract idea: there is not such thing in real world. ‘

    “Nivell C” is very easy. All the catalan university professors will have it without any problem. Catalan speakers will refresh their knowledge on “pronoms febles” for a couple of days, and non-catalan speakers will take a light two months course, and that’s all. ‘

    ‘To be true, Spanish is the only compulsory language in catalan education. ‘

    ‘Average spanish people are nationalist extremists. They look nice, but in the long term, if things turn really wrong, sharing a country with that kind of extremists can be really dangerous (ask Bosnian people). There is a very dark and violent side of spanish character most of foreigners don’t even suspect. ‘

    ‘if one day you come to face the situation objectively, you will find out that spanish nationalism is the real threat. ‘

    ‘I’m very reluctant to blieve people who say they are perfect non-nationalist, because my experience is they are just self-decieving. It’s just like people who say they are no sexist. I only believe them after knowing them for years and not having detected the least shadow of sexism in their behavior. ‘

    After reading all of your comments looking for some consistencies it appears to me that your only argument for independence is a financial one. I don’t understand why this is so important to you, but if all you care about is what happens in your lifetime then I find it hard to sympathise with you.

  81. I really don’t see what all the fuzz is about. If people would care more about their own business instead of doing good for the world, which is exactly the humanist, christian, paternalist attitude that has fucked up this planet, the world would be much more pleasant.
    I think your reaction is much more contradictionary. On the one hand, you oppose nationalism. But on the other hand, you criticise someone for putting individualism before group-thinking.

  82. Humanist?


    I am astounded by your most recent comments, but none more so than your last one.

    I invite you to read my comments again and justify your various accusations.

  83. Felip

    I think Charles was the one who said he believes in a god. And he never said which god. Perhaps he believe in Pachamama.
    But I don’t remember Humanist saying anything about his religious beliefs or disbeliefs.


    I explained two times at least all that stuff about being an independent nation. I said CATALONIA WAS INDEPENDENT FOR CENTURIES but not an INDEPENDENT NATION. It was an INDEPENDENT COUNTY. As Charles explained, talking about INDEPENDENT NATIONS before French Revolution is somehow inaccurate.
    On top of it, I said many times I don’t think having been independent before is not a condition sine qua non to be independent in the future. This is the reason why I explained many times the History part of the discussion between Charles and me was a little out of the main matter.
    I introduced it because according with Matxil report, it was an argument during the debate and I simply wanted to rebuke it (withou any success, apparently).
    Which is the part you don’t like about Franco and Hitler? Franco’s cleverness? or Hitler’s ineptitude?
    I also explained all this stuff about compulsive languages in Spain: Spanish Constitution actually says spanish language is compulsory for all spanish citizens. No autonomy Statutes talk of anything but other languages being official in their territory in the same foot of spanish or with priority, but never define “regional” languages as compulsory. All the legal fight is about the legal meaning of “priority”. It’s a fact. Ask a lawyer.
    If people were compelled to use catalan in Catalonia how so many people born in catalonia NEVER use it and have no legal issues?
    Spanish teaching is compulsory in education around Sapin, even in private schools. If you don’t believe me, just go to Lycée Français, Swiss School, Liceo Italiano, etc. and ask. But I think catalan language is only a compulsory matter in public schools and “escuelas concertadas” not in 100% private schools.
    I don’t know any catalan nationalist that pretends Valencia or Aragon to ba Catalonia, and I know hundreds of catalan nationalists, some of tthem really stupid. If you know some, please introduce him or her to me! And before you start with this predictable argument about “Països Catalans”, I’ll explain you two things: “Països Catalans” doesn’t mean everything is Catalonia; it means there are three countries with historical and cultural links, oppressed by Spain, that would better work together for independence. Added to this “Països Catalans” is a concpet invented by Benvingut Oliver i Esteller, a tough Valencian nationalist, not Catalan.
    Perhaps Catalan Government (note that current Catalan Government is a SPANISH INSTITUTION) is triyng to impose catalan. If so, they have failed miserably because the fact is you can find easily monolingual spanish speakers but no monolingual catalan speaker. That means that spanish, unlike catalan, has been very effectively IMPOSED on catalan population.
    My opinion about spanish nationalists can be shared or not. I know I’m rather extreme in that point. What I can’t accept is people criticizing catalan nationalism but not spanish. I never heard of people being beated in Catalonia for saying they feel spanish, but I can introduce at least two people beated in Spain fer this reason. I have been insulted many times in Spain not even for talking about my national feelings, but just for speaking catalan with my catalan friends. “Catalán de mierda” is the nicest thing I’ve been said.
    I’m really reluctant to believe in other’s supposed non-nationalism. What’s the problem with it? You know, I met so many so-called non-nationalists that criticized me because I didn’t support spanish national football team or because I declared to feel more close to italian people than to castilian people…

  84. Felip

    I have found a new argument for Catalan independence!

    If Catalonia was independent, everyone around the world would expect catalan public education to use catalan as the normal language, just as they expect greek schools to use greek. Wouldn’t them?
    Being so, people like Humanist would’nt be disappointed with it. And it would be much the better for them. If they happened to want their children to be taught in spanish, as Humanist do, they would directly go to a private school or would directly settle in Zaragoza or Sevilla. As they would settle in Sofia if they wanted their children to be taught for free in romanian.
    I’m not saying I want Humanist to leave Catalonia. I would like him to stay. Indeed, Humanist your children’s brain won’t be damaged because of learning catalan! They will suffer mainly from a very defective education system, especially in science (our level of science in school is one of the lowest in Spain), but if you move to another spanish region your children will have also a very poor education… And take care: depending on the region it will be even poorer than catalan!

  85. matxil


    Actually, that is an argument in favour of independence, although I personally always expressed it in a different way: “Oh hell, if it really is such a big thing, better leave them to it, get it out of the way and move to more important stuff.”

    As always, my objection is not so much independence or not (I basically don’t care), but my ongoing bewilderment that someone wants to feel part of “a nation” in order to define oneself. I have that same bewilderment when it comes to other group-feelings, like religion or ideology. Especially, since all these things are abstract myths.

    The fact that, doubtlessly, I am guilty of much the same thing sometimes, does not diminish that.

    On the other hand, (and this might be a much more honest way of presenting the discussion) it might all run down to nothing more than taste. Some people prefer this piece of ground to be called Spanish, others prefer it to be called Catalan. Some prefer to speak one language, some the other. Since no side is more right than the other (it’s just ground, it shouldn’t belong to anyone), the discussion can be (and will be) endless. And not just here on this page.

  86. Felip

    As I think all of you might think I’m exaggerating about spanish nationalism I’ll explain you some juicy anecdotes of typical spanish language prejudices:

    – In an art exhibition in Barcelona many years ago I heard a group of spaniards complaining: “Es indignante, está escrito sólo en catalán”. In fact the long explanations were in both languages, but the detailed information of every painting was only in catalan. The actual painting they were in front of was something like “Paisatge de Mallorca, Joaquim Sunyer, Oli sobre tela, 150 X 75 cms, 1934, Col·lecció privada”. Just compare with what spanish version would have been “Paisaje de Mallorca, Joaquim Sunyer, Óleo sobre tela, 150 X 75 cms, 1934, Colección privada”. Please compare them.
    – In my business a client (spanish, of course) said me “I don’t understand your price list: it’s only in catalan”. The only word in catalan is “mínim”, the rest is a list of digits and international symbols as €, min. hr. pag. and words which are identical in spanish as “fotocopia” or “fax”.
    – When in London, last summer, my brother met two spanish couples in Trafalgar Square. They were looking for directions or something and my brother, wanted to help them because they looked rather confused. But just before addressing them he heard them saying “Es que no hay derecho! aquí todo está escrito sólo en inglés!”. And it wasn’t a joke, they were really angry!!! Of course he left them solve their lilliputian problems alone.
    – During the “transición”, when Spain had again a Parliament, in the last 70’s or beginning of the 80’s (I don’t exactly remember) it was a famous anecdote published by many media. A catalan deputy included a latin quotation in his speech, (I don’t know … “alea jacta est” or perhaps “oculus habent sed non videbunt” or anything else) and immediaty many deputies rose indignant against him for speaking catalan.

    Of course those are extreme cases, but don’t think they are so hard to find. Just look with care.

  87. Humanist?

    @Felip (Matxil, please could you refrain from answering my questions here as I would really like Felip to answer himself!)

    Felip, I have spent a lot of time reading all of your lengthy points and I would love to hear you explain some of them.

    ‘Franco was a very clever guy and Hitler was incredibly stupid’

    – Despite what we all think of him, Hitler has never been called stupid by anyone who met him. Do you know something they don’t?

    ‘I hate especially the argument that says that Catalonia has never been actually independent. This is simply false.’

    ‘Catalonia’ has never been independent. Why do you think ‘Barcelona County’ and ‘Catalonia’ is the same?

    ‘Catalonia has been actually independent for centuries and a part of it is independent even now.’

    Are you referring to ‘Barcelona County’ or Andorra?

    ‘no catalan nationalist pretends that Valencia or Aragon belongs to Catalonia. ‘

    So what are the ‘Catalan countries’?

    ‘I NEVER talked about Catalonia as an INDEPENDENT NATION.’

    So when you said Catalonia was independent, what exactly were you referring to? Was it called ‘Catalonia’?

    ‘So, you simply cannot say Catalonia has never been independent. ‘

    ok, so why are there no historical references to a country called ‘Catalunya’?

    ‘Well, I think it’s enough about nationalism and history. In any case I don’t think they are the main question. Let’s talk of other matters.’

    – Why do you think in a dsicussion titled ‘Debate about Catalan Nationalism’ that nationalism isn’t the main question?

    ‘I finally don’t agree with you when you say Catalan government is trying to impose Catalan. ‘

    – In the Generalitat’s own statistics it says that more people use Castellano as their preferred first language:

    Català 1 949,5 (31,6%)
    Castellà 3 389,0 (55,0%)

    so why do you think the entire education system is primarily in Catalan? Why are all the social services in Catalan?

    ‘In Spain, and even in many places inside Catalonia, every time a Catalan declares to feel Catalan but not Spanish he is insulted, when not beated. This is a fact we can test scientifically some day.’

    This is just not true – why do you make such a sweeping statement?

    ‘No catalan law compells no one to know Catalan language. ‘

    – Except all children attending public schools. Why do you not count this?

    ‘I am tempted to think that if we can’t be independent, it would be better for us to depend of Morocco.’

    – Do you honestly think this is an intelligent statement?

    ‘why so few complain of catalan education and why don’t they settle more spanish private schools? I can answer both questions: because those who actually complain don’t have the lest interest in having their children educated in spanish (or in any other language); they complain because they are spanish ultra-nationalists. ‘

    – Myself and many, many others complain about this and we are not Spanish ultra-nationalists. Again, why do you make such a sweeping statement?

    ‘In my opinion, a human individual is an abstract idea: there is not such thing in real world. ‘

    – What is your definition of an individual?

    “Nivell C” is very easy. All the catalan university professors will have it without any problem. Catalan speakers will refresh their knowledge on “pronoms febles” for a couple of days, and non-catalan speakers will take a light two months course, and that’s all. ‘

    – Nivell C is advanced level. Why do you say it is easy?

    ‘To be true, Spanish is the only compulsory language in catalan education. ‘

    – If you don’t count Catalan as being the language used to teach all subjects in all public schools. Do you think it would be better for the children here if Spanish was not compulsory?

    ‘Average spanish people are nationalist extremists. They look nice, but in the long term, if things turn really wrong, sharing a country with that kind of extremists can be really dangerous (ask Bosnian people). There is a very dark and violent side of spanish character most of foreigners don’t even suspect. ‘

    – Don’t you think this comment sounds racist?

    ‘if one day you come to face the situation objectively, you will find out that spanish nationalism is the real threat. ‘

    – What is the real threat from Spanish nationalism?

    ‘I’m very reluctant to blieve people who say they are perfect non-nationalist, because my experience is they are just self-decieving. It’s just like people who say they are no sexist. I only believe them after knowing them for years and not having detected the least shadow of sexism in their behavior. ‘

    You seem to be straying very far from the definition of what most people believe a nationalist actually is.

    Do you consider yourself to be a nationalist or not?

    (for the sake of argument, let’s go by the definition from the dictionary, ie. ‘a person who wants political independence for their country’)

  88. Felip

    Humanist, I already answered many of your questions in my “November 3, 2010 at 1:59 pm” message. It wasn’t Matxil.

    About Hitler (which is not the matter of the debate) I think he was amazingly stupid for many reasons, but the main one is his absolute ineptitude to manage a war he had allegedly planned so carefully beforehand. Attacking Great Britain directly was simply stupid: UK wasn’t a real obstacle for his imperial plans in Europe and Mediterranean. Just leaving UK alone and trying to snatch only Gibraltar and Malta would have been much more intelligent than spending such amount of energy in the direct attack. Breaking with Stalin and attacking Russia was more than simply stupid: it was obiously suicidal. Finally, forcing Rommel (his best man) to commit suicide was the typical mistake of egocentric stupid tyrants.
    In my opinion, his only skill was magnetism. Those year’s average germans seem to have been fascinated with him. I think scene setting was very important to achieve the effect on multitude.

    I think Catalan Counties and Catalonia are the same thing, because they are.
    Catalonia is a region composed in the beginning by many Counties vassals of the King of Franks and then Emperor Charles the Great. Those Counties became “de facto”independent in few generations, and united gradually into less Counties. In the end, they were only two: Rosselló and Barcelona, and them both are known nowadays as Catalonia.

    When I said a part of Catalonia is independent nowadays, I clearly explained I was talking of Andorra, which is undoubtedly a catalan country: it started belonging to the County of Urgell, then to the County of Barcelona, then given by the Count of Barcelona to the Bishop of Urgell (Urgell is a part of Catalonia) and so on. For many historical lucky circumstances, andorrans are the only catalans that have been always independent of Spain and France (except for few years during Napoleon occupation).

    I also answered your question about the “catalan countries” (països catalans). But I repeat it:
    I don’t know any catalan nationalist that pretends Valencia or Aragon to be Catalonia. If you know some, please introduce him or her to me, I would like to know that strange specimen and discuss the matter with him.
    “Països Catalans” doesn’t mean everything is Catalonia; it means there are three countries (Catalunya, Mallorca and Valencia) with historical and cultural links, oppressed by Spain, that would better work together for independence.
    Added to this “Països Catalans” is a concpet invented by Benvingut Oliver i Esteller, a tough Valencian nationalist, not a Catalan. If you want to be sure of meeting really fanatic supporters of the idea of “Països Catalans” don’t look for them in Barcelona, better go to Valencia and look for the local Maulets. The proposed and mainly accepted anthem for the “Països Catalans” is “la Muixeranga” a valencian music from Algemesí (Ribera Alta).
    Those pretending that “Països Catalans” is a catalan imperialist idea are only showing their total ignorance of the matter: it’s a 100% valencian idea.

    You’re right: the debate was about nationalism. I wanted to explain that wanting independence is not only a nationalist matter, that they other reasons, as economy, and I somehow lost the main subject.

    I think Catalan Government is not trying to impose catalan. And I will add that people claiming such nonsense are not fair.
    I think Catalan Government is trying to balance a situation very bad for catalan language. Propbably they are not using the right means, but they are not pretending to sweep away spanish.
    The situation of catalan is so bad partly because of spanish imposition, not only in the past but even nowadays. I insist: spanish is the only legally imposed language in Catalonia as in the rest of Spain. Spanish Constitution says it clearly: spanish is the only compulsory language in Spain.
    When you go to Public Administration in Catalonia you are supposed to have the possibility of using catalan. It usually works, but not always. In Justice Courts it’s usual to find Judges that plainly don’t allow you to use it and force you to use spanish. It’s against the law, but they go on with this linguistic marginalization. On the other hand, you are ALWAYS allowed to address the Public Administration in spanish.
    You asked “Why are all the social services in Catalan?” An interesting question. Two possible answers: a) Why not? b) Not all of them are in catalan. The real fact is that most of the information of social services and other Public Administration Departments are bilingual. If you find some monolingual catalan infromation (it’s unusual but it can be), just ask for the spanish one. It will be delivered to you. If you go to a social service you can find two different kinds of public workers: some will talk both languages and will answer you in the language you choose, others will talk only spanish and will answer you only in spanish.
    I explained enough my opinion of education. How many times have I to repeat it? Catalan is the main language only in PUBLIC SCHOOLS but not in PRIVATE SCHOOLS. But spanish courses are mandatory for all schools that wish to provide legal qualifications.
    Isn’t it clear enough?

    The Generalitat’s statistics about the preferred language is a good argument.
    Only two considerations:
    – A recent statistic about the next debates to be held by Montilla and Mas for the next catalan elections showed that more than 50% wanted them only in catalan and less than 40% wanted some in catalan and some in spanish. Conclusion: catalans are inconsequential people; they want the candidate debates in their less preferred laguage! or perhaps statistics are not to be trusted as scientific truth?
    – The reason to give public education in catalan is also to balance the clear imbalance in favor of spanish. How many monolingual catalan speakers do you know? Don’t give me an answer: I know it beforehand: NONE. And how many monolingual spanish speakers do you know? I don’t know the answer, but I suppose they are many… ten, twenty, forty perhaps?
    So, the conclusion is clear: leave spanish speakers the chance of being monolingual and most of them will take it gladly.
    My general conclusion about your alleged imposition of catalan is:
    Catalan Governement is trying to impose BILINGUALISM, NOT CATALAN.
    Is it a good idea? I don’t know, perhaps it will be better to promote two linguistic communities in permanent conflict. But I don’t think so. Luckily this is far to be the case, and linguistic conflict exist only in some politicians, journalists and fanatics imagination.
    I remember that I read some years ago another statistic about which schooling language parents wanted to their children and the amazing majority agreed with catalan, even being mainly spanish speakers. Parents really fronatlly against catalan schooling were something below 10%. Of course, statistics are confusing. But I know personally few parents really against education given in catalan (three to be exact). All of them wouldn’t send their children to a public school even in Madrid: they think public schools (all of them, independently of language matters) are a shit. I know also monolingual spanish couples (five at least) who think education given in catalan is OK for their children. And contrary of what Matxil thinks, they are not elite people: two of those couples are really working class immigrants of Badalona and Sta Coloma.

    I have been insulted many times. Read my answer in the former message. I can even explain that a friend of mine, a total anti-catalanist catalan girl was insulted in front of me because of her catalan accent.
    If you think it’s not true, it’s your problem. Go on fooling yourself.
    But if you really want to test it, go some day to Madrid with two catalan friends, take a taxi or go to a bar, let them speak aloud enough in catalan and just look around.

    OK, you’re right: children attending to public schools are compelled to learn catalan (also spanish and a choosen foreign language, and mathematics and geography… why do you not count this?)
    But they are not compelled to attend to public schools by law. Perhaps they are compelled by their parent’s economical situation. It’s different.
    In the case of spanish, they are compelled to know it, with or without money.

    The thing about Morocco was a joke. I thought it was obvious enough. But I’m more than tempted to say I would like better Catalonia to be dependent of France, Italy, Netherlands, UK, Germany, Switzerland, Iceland, Swede, Finland, Hungary, Austria, Danemark, USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Brazil, Malaysia… and this is not a joke!

    About people complaining of catalan education, I was talking of spanish people complaining of this. I’m sorry I forgot you and other foreigners. You’re not spanish ultra-nationalists. It’s clear. But your reasons to be against your children being teached in catalan are clearly nationalist in my opinion. Why, if not, you don’t like them to be teached in catalan but you like them to be teached in spanish? Would you be against having them teached in greek if living in Greece?

    Individualism: a deep philosophical matter indeed!
    I will try not to bo too long, but you can imagine I would be able to write a whole book on it…
    In the human species case as it is for most of superior animal species, a strategy of survival consists on being divided in “individuals”. Every “individual” is a perishable unique genetic combination among the wide combinatory possibilities inside the given species. But this is far of being the general rule of protozoos, vegetals, fungi, bateria…
    But assigning a independent existence to them is only a philosophical paradigm: every unique combination needs the rest of the combinatory possibilities to exist, to be viable.
    So, social ideologies based on the idea of human individuals as independent units that constitute the social structure when added are wrong in their origin, even when their conclusions can be valuable to understand human societies. Because human societies are never built with human independent individuals as a house is built with bricks; human societies are made of not at all independent individuals which were already living and interacting together.
    So, when I said individuals are an abstract idea I meant exactly what I said.

    Nivell C is a medium level, something like First Ceritifcate in English or japanese Sankyu. Advanced level is nivell D, like english Proficiency or japanese Ikkyu.
    I think it’s easy for university professors (they are supposed to be intelligent people and trained to study), not for illiterates, of course.

    I think no particular language must be compulsory at school. The ideal language teaching would be “the more, the best” and “try what you like”, if you want to tray sanskrit, tzeltal and ainu languages, go on, and good luck! This is my particular opinion, but I’m rather eccentric.
    In a more realistic foot I think the better would be teaching the local language or languages, english and chinese, being the local local languages the less important.
    So, in the particular case of catalonia it would be something like: let’s choose catalan or spanish or both, but don’t waste more than two hours per week in them, spend more energies and time in english and even more in chinese.

    My comment is’nt racist at all. I don’t believe in spanish race or catalan race or basque race. I don’t believe in races at all. I don’t even admit a black or a white or a yellow race to exist even when some anthropometric differences exist, I don’t think they are enough to constitute a subspecies.
    If some human groups can claim to be a different race they are inuit and bushmen for biological reasons too long to explain.
    What I said is spanish people (namely: all the people that defines themselves as spanish) are usually nationalist as the big majority of humans are. And than, I add that spanish nationalism is especially extremist, aggressive and very fond of denying other nations right to exist.
    It was all this stuff about different ways of being nationalist.
    In fact, you helped me a lot when you said spanish “immigrants” were treated as different in their “own country”. This is exaclty what all this is about. A guy born in Sevilla who settle in Barcelona honestly thinks this is “his country” (an obviously nationalist statement), and consequently he expects everything to be as in Sevilla… and when it isn’t (for instance, because boards are not only in spanish but also in catalan) he gets angry, just like some german people get angry because boards in Kreuzberg (Berlin) are also written in turkish. But a catalan nationalist settled in Sevilla never think it’s “his own country” and consequently never expect everything to be as in Catalonia and don’t get angry when he sees people dancing “sevillanas” or eating “pescaíto frito”. Dont’ you think it’s an enormous difference? Almost every spanish want catalans and basques to be spanish (and accordingly, to give up with some of their particularities), but no catalan or basque want spanish to be catalan or basque. Don’t you think it’s an enormous difference?
    Every nationalism can be a threat. But imperialist nationalisms are a more obvious threat than nationalisms focused on themselves (sardinian nationalism is a good example: sardinians naver had attempted to conquer other countries, not even Corsica).
    Spanish nationalism happens to be a perfect example of imperialist nationalism, like turkish, serbina, hungarian, russian, chinese and many others. In the particular case of Spain it has been a real nightmare for other peoples. Ask south and central american indians, moors, portuguese, filipino…
    To be true, the backbone of spanish nationalism is the “reconquista”, the fight against the moors. Don’t you think “Santiago Matamoros” a chrisitan saint “killer of moors” is somehow threatening?

    I think nationalists are people who think that nations exist. Namely, people who think that nations are more real than myths.
    I find your dictionary definition very poor. Look other dictionaries, you will find different definitions.

    I consider myself to be nationalist, even when I’m not so sure that nations are anything but human fancies.

  89. Humanist?

    Felip, Felip, Felip…

    You really do have an answer for everything don’t you? Even when the answer is a lie you stand by it, and you ignore the facts that are presented to you.

    As I said previously, I am glad to have your input here as I will use it as an example of the reason I want to leave Catalunya.

    The facts remain:

    ‘Catalunya’ has NEVER been a country.

    The ‘County of Barcelona’ was the closest it ever got to being an independent country – and ironically now Barcelona has the least amount of Catalan speakers than anywhere in the region of Catalunya.

    Most foreigners don’t sympathise with your arguments because Catalans are not oppressed. In fact, the attitude that you complain about from SOME Spanish people is only made worse by your attitude.

    You want to create a NEW COUNTRY for ‘your people’.

    As you don’t like the Cambridge dictionary version, I leave you with the Catalan dictionary definition of a Nationalist:


    1 adj. [LC] [PO] Relatiu o pertanyent al nacionalisme. Doctrines nacionalistes.
    2 adj. i m. i f. [LC] [PO] Que propugna o afavoreix la unitat i la independència de la seva nació. Els nacionalistes catalans.

  90. Felip

    Humanist, Humanist, Humanist

    Your ideas of History are probably picturesque enough, but I have college degree in History (though my speciality wasn’t Middle Age but Ancient History) and probably have more information than you.
    repeat: the country we now know as “Catalunya” was a set of counties that acted as independent of any kingdom for centuries. They were finally reduced to two: the County of Barcelona (very similar in extension an shape to nowadays SPANISH catalan region) and the County of Rosselló (very similar in extension and shape to nowadays FRENCH department named Pyrénées Orientales). Nowadays, those two old counties are known by EVERYBODY as Catalunya, both in spanish side, as french side as in Andorra. Go to Perpinyà, Andorra la Vella, Lleida or Tortosa and ask.

    Catalunya has always been a COUNTRY. Independent or not, divided or not, it’s a COUNTRY. Or do you think perhaps that Greenland is not a COUNTRY just because it’s not independent? Or Thessaly is not a country because it has never been an united independent State? And Kashmir is not a country because, on top of not being independent it’s actually divided?
    Being a COUNTRY and being an independent state are totally different things in my vocabulary.

    I wrote enough about History, and I insist (is it the third or the forth time?) I don’t think Catalunya having been before independent or not is at all important to claim independence NOW.

    We don’t want to create a new country, but a new independent state. And I never, never, NEVER, BUT ABSOLUTELY NEVER!!! heard a catalan independentist saying an independent Catalonia will be only for catalans. If you heard someone saying such a big idiocy, just introduce him to me. I know you won’t because that ghost only exists in your imagination.

    The Catalan Dictionary version says much more things than the Cambridge one (or perhaps you only gave a little part of it? I can’t believe Cambridge dictionary to have such an incomplete defintion).
    Even so, discussing politics or sociology on the base of dictionary definitions seems to me a primary school level.

    According to your definitions they were not german nationalists during the IIId Reich: they did’nt want Germany independence and union because Germany was actually united an independent. Fantastic! a definition of nationalism that doesn’t include nazis!!!!

    I know those attitudes I described before belong only to SOME spanish people. Where did you see in my previous interventions something like them all being so? Nowhere. I don’t think all spanish are so. I only think they are much more than you probably expect. Without any doubt I know ten or hundred more times spanish people than you, some 40 or 50 are even my relatives, and I perfectly know that not ALL OF THEM are so stupid. But among spanish people, as among catalan people or any other group of people, most are stupid. And the way I described of being stupid is very popular in Spain. In Saudi Arabia, the most popular way of being stupid is to be Wahhabi. In Spain the most popular way of being stupid is blaming everything on catalans with stupid arguments you are repeating as a parrot. But of course there is a minority of intelligent people in Spain, as in Catalonia or Saudi Arabia…

    You say that my answers are lies. Well I answered lots of things that no one contradicted after I put forward my arguments:
    I explained Spanish is compulsory, and after insisting it’s not, you (or Charles, I don’t remember) gave it up… perhaps because you finally read the Spanish Constitution and saw I was right?
    I explained catalan language is not the reason of low education level, and nobody answered me, because the facts are clear: it’s the same level of the rest of Spain and its weakest point is not language (on the contrary, language is the stronest point) but science.
    I explained it’s not true that the reason of companies to leave Catalonia is language laws, because they are also leaving Spain at the same rate or even faster. Nobody answered.
    I explained language politics is not the problem with catalan universities, because they are in fact the best rated in Spain. Nobody answered.
    I explained Nivell C is EASY, but after all of you insisted on its difficulty, I explained it’s only an INTERMEDIATE LEVEL (which you can see easily in the “Consorci de Normalització Lingüística” website) and of course nobody answered.
    I accused you Charles and Matxil of being nationalists, among other reasons, because you thing a country can be some people’s “own country”, and you never answered except saying such silly things as “I am the living prove of non-nationalism”…
    I’m sorry, but when faced with real arguments you lack completely of answers.

    And about all this History affair, please Humanist, read Charles’ arguments and mine, and learn a little, and then get into the discussion if you want.
    Charles was right in some points as stating that you cannot talk of nationalism in the sense this word has nowadays and translate it to Middle Age. It’s true, but I answered him there are other ways of being nationalist which are not the modern western-like, and gave many examples of it.
    I respect Charles¡ historic point of view. I think it’s a little small minded, but it’s at least consistent and with a good knowledge base. But in your case, Humanist, it’s clear that your knowledge of History is very low. So, please, give it up.

  91. Humanist?

    Whatever reason you use to justify independence, it is always a nationalist reason.

    – better economy? (without you)
    – better social systems? (without you)
    – better life? (without you)

    These are the messages that asking for independence brings and, unless the people asking for it are being oppressed, they will not be met with sympathy.

  92. matxil


    > I accused you Charles and Matxil of being nationalists, among other reasons,
    > because you thing a country can be some people’s “own country”, and
    > you never
    > answered except saying such silly things as “I am the living prove of
    > non-nationalism”…

    Your other points I believe readily so I don’t feel the need to reply to them. As a matter of fact I think you made a lot of strong points and I have only a few detail objections. I think you are more individualist than you seem to claim (although on the other hand: you do show it) and hence, all this speaking on behalf of a culture seems a bit contradictory to me. However, all your points about finance, administration I see as valid. I don’t think that an independent Catalonia would do better, but then again, that’s just my belief/prejudice.

    However, I never denied to be a nationalist and I never said I was the living proof of non-nationalism. On the contrary, I said that surely I have nationalist sentiments (as I admitted to other sentiments too). Only, I don’t think these sentiments should be taken too seriously or indeed be a base for a decision to be a nation or not. You answered that actually your main reason wasn’t a sentimental one, so: fair enough, that was enough for me.

    I never opposed to you “feeling Catalan”, whatever that means, as I very well admit I often “feel Dutch”. They are both silly sentiments, but we have all the right to feel them.

    I cannot stress enough, though, that I think a nation based on common cultures and traditions is always a myth, even though that means that all nations are myths. I understand the world works like that and I can understand that nations are necessary and as such need to create these myths, but I cannot understand that an intelligent individual (even with his inevitable nationalist sentiments) wants to believe in those myths.

    Really, as far as I am concerned, I have not much more to add. I can understand that reactions like that from our great friend “humanist” or some Spanish people against all Catalans can incite you to react more fervently in favour of your own language and culture, but sometimes a shrug of the shoulder does wonders too.

  93. Felip

    @ Matxil
    OK, your answer seems to me consistent and intelligent. We all have different ways of feeling our “nation” or whatever it is, and of course it’s not a matter of life and death.
    That’s why catalan nationalists are not killing people for this reason. Unlike other nationalists are doing around, and not so far from us. This is one of the reasons why I’m insisting on the fact that catalan nationalism is not as agressive or such a threat as people like Ciutadans pretend.

    @ Humanist
    I don’t agree with the “Països Catalans ” idea nor of Catalonia being oppressed. I just explained what some catalan nationalists think. Catalonia is n oppressed in the sense Tibetans in China or Tamils in Sri Lanka or Papuas in Irian Jaya or Palestinians in Palestine are.
    But some injustices are being systematically committed on us. They are not affecting directly our human rights, but they affect our living standards and our degree of satisfaction as citizens.
    If you have any doubt of injustices being committed on us, just take a fast look on the spanish payment speedways map, or use some day the RENFE CERCANÍAS in Madrid and then in Barcelona, or get a little information of AENA politics regarding to Barajas and el Prat airports, or see the official regional fiscal balances, or inquire a little about the delays in payment from the CAJA ÚNICA DE LA SEGURIDAD SOCIAL ESPAÑOLA to the catalan public health system…

    We want a better economy and better social systems and a better life without Spain because it does not seem possible WITH IT. We have tried for 35 years and it painly didn’t work. It’s a fact. Spanish economy and Public Administration and society are a MESS (ask in European Union organs what are P.I.G.S.!). And also because we don’t see any objective reason (or non-nationalist reason) to be doomed to try to have a better life with Spain and not with any other country in the world or alone. Why not with France or Italy, for instance? And Why not alone? Is there any DIVINE LAW or DIVINE CURSE compelling us to be a part of Spain?

    We will not be met with sympathy, you say. There is a long-dated current inside catalan nationalism very concerned with attracting spanish sympathies. A good example of it was Joan Maragall (Pasqual and Ernest Maragall’s grandfather). They never have achieved their goal. No matter how nice you are with spanish, if they happen to hate you, they will go on with it forever and ever. You know, they go on hating english because of the Armada Invencible (1588) and Gibraltar (1704) even when both defeats happened because of spanish side ineptitude (a longstanding tradition as you see) not because of english wickedness.

  94. Humanist?


    I have nothing against ‘all Catalans’, just those who demand “Freedom for Catalonia!” despite living in a democracy and not being oppressed.

    I previously stated that I had many ‘Catalan’ friends here (ie. Spanish, but born in the region of Catalunya). Some of them are in favour of independence (mainly under-25s) and some have said they would leave the region if it ever became an ‘independent state’.

    The fact that Felip does not feel that his comments are biased, prejudice and pretentious merely outlines to me some of the main problems with ‘Catalan Nationalism’.

    If it didn’t depress me so much I would laugh at the fact that he, and so many others, insist on saying that “Catalonia has always been a country”.

    Unfortunately after 9 years here it just isn’t funny anymore.

  95. matxil

    That was the other detail I am not sure about. You say that there are two types of nationalism: the “peaceful one” (Tibetan, Sardinian, Catalan) and the imperialist one (American, English, Spanish). I am not so sure the Catalan nationalism is only so peaceful because it’s not tied to a nation. At heart, people everywhere can turn into a lynching mob, I’d think. In that way, it might be better for you to be part of a hostile Spanish state (not your culture) and feel “one with Catalans” (as a sentiment) than part of a Catalan state and find that they are equally as horrible. What will you feel then?

  96. Humanist?


    You have made an excellent point.

    Of course you are correct when you say –

    “it might be better for you to be part of a hostile Spanish state (not your culture) and feel “one with Catalans” (as a sentiment) than part of a Catalan state and find that they are equally as horrible.”

    This is why there will probably never be a referendum on independence, and if there is not enough people will vote for it. It is a similar situation in Scotland where the Nationalist Party is reluctant to hold a referendum for independence.

    Nationalist parties work best as victims – without an enemy there is no need them.

  97. Felip

    @ Matxil
    Perhaps a Catalan independent state would torun to be as horrible as Spanish. I only ask again: Why with Spain and not with France or Italy? At least I KNOW France is much better than Spain in almost every field and Italy, even being also a mess, is a little better than Spain. So why have we to carry this curse on?
    You also said something like “better leave it just as it is”. What do you mean with that? “As it is” means: public education given in catalan, Nivell C being compulsory for University professors… I thought you didn’t want it!

    @ Humanist
    “some have said they would leave the region if it ever became an independent state”
    What are they afraid of? a “pogrom”? If it’s so, they are something worst than idiots: they are simply insane, because everyone in his wits knows a genocide won’t happen here.
    I know many who said they would leave the region if it ever became an autonomous region, and they are still living here.

    I explained you “Country” is not the same than “Independent State” (see the dictionary… lol!) Suffolk is a country and has always considered so, at least from Danelaw times. But it has never been independent, so don’t mix up concepts, please. If your level is so amazingly low, refrain yourself of putting forward every time.

    Your main argument to say Catalonia has never been independent is the Counties of Barcelona and Rosselló had a different name then: they were not known as “Catalunya”. Ok.
    So, you can also say Ukraine never has been independent before 1990 because in Middle Age it was known as “Kiev Principality” not as “Ukraine”.

    Really, I don’t want to discuss this matter on so childish arguments. Learn a little History and then get into the Historic discussion if you want.

  98. matxil

    That, of course, is according to taste. I don’t like the French language and I think Italy is an awful country (except for the food which is wonderful). So I prefer Spain. The point about France/Italy is a bit academic, isn’t it? It would be great if Holland was part of Hawaii, or if Amsterdam was the capital of Andalucia. If you like Italy, go and live there. Catalonia happens to be part of Spain.

    I am not against public education in Catalan, but I am in favour of more hours in Spanish. I am also not against requiring Nivell C for a teacher at a secondary school, or a mayor or a sollicitor. But I think it’s silly to request it from a physics professor at the university. Requesting Spanish would be equally silly by the way.
    And *if* you would request it, do so because otherwise nobody would understand him if he only spoke English. Not because “we have to save our culture”. I think you will find that an international university will have more quality than an university that puts language restrictions, and – unfair but true – in practice that means some languages are more favoured than others: English, Spanish (and in the past German and maybe French in some parts. And more in the past Latin). Universities in Dutch, Frisian, Catalan or Napolitano are all very nice, but won’t attract a lot of intellect, which is rather vital for an university, I’d think.
    And since the mayority of the people that live here understand Catalan and Spanish, it makes sense to allow at least both of those languages and not restrict oneself to only one.

    Really, in general I don’t have much objections against anything. I only find the nationalist sentiments objectionable (even though I might have them myself). As long as I can speak Spanish when I want to, I wouldn’t even mind Catalan independence, but still I would find all those people “feeling rooted in their culture” very silly.
    For the rest, it’s just taste. As long as there is liberty to choose, all is fine with me.

  99. Humanist?

    According to Felip, if you don’t like how something is being done in your country, just get a group of people together and create an independent state where everyone agrees with each other.

    What happens when the people within that state disagree about something? Divide again? And again?

    To me this is not a very productive way of resolving issues within a democracy.

  100. matxil

    Hmm, good point actually. So
    1. Starting a nation for nationalist sentiments is silly (and possibly nasty). It is based on (nostalgic) sentiments and myths
    2. Starting a seperate nation on the base that the “mother-nation” as a whole does not function is not the most efficient way of dealing with the problems.

    I am not sure 2. is always true. Fact is that Spain is way too much centralized and some tasks should certainly be delegated to Catalonia.

  101. Felip

    @ Matxil

    It’s not only a taste matter. You like Spain because of the climate, the people, the food, the way of living, etc. And you don’t like France or Italy for other personal reasons.
    Those are a taste matter. But when I talk of getting rid of Spain, of course it’s not because of the climate or the people: the climate will be the same, people there won’t change at all (except Humanist and friends that will leave in a hurry) and spanish will still be our neighbours. The difference is our taxes won’t be wasted in such a silly way and our social services will be amazingly better. THIS IS NOT A TASTE MATTER. Unless you like paying more for less and worst services, of course!

  102. Felip

    @ Humanist

    It’s not about all agreeing. I don’t agree 100% with anyone I know in the world…
    It’s about living better, having a better economical level and a more direct participation in public decisions.
    I don’t want spanish to leave an Independent Catalonia. I want them to do what they want provided they don’t want to say me what I’m expected to do. Acting as grown-ups scoulding naughty children.

    If catalan people (including them) want independence, they will have to accept it. If not, we will go on suffering the nowadays disastrous situaton.

  103. Humanist?


    The day that Catalunya has a referendum on independence, we will see exactly how popular an idea it is. I doubt that day will ever come, but if it did I would welcome the election – as I welcome any referendum.

    Until then I think we can all agree on one thing at least – that Catalunya is not currently an independent state (!) – so I’d like to go back to my original point:

    The Generalitat must recognise it has two commonly used languages – Castilian and Catalan. At the very least, Castilian is used as a first language as much as Catalan (according to most studies it is actually used a lot more).

    Therefore I would suggest the only FAIR way to offer FREE education is either for schools to be available in both languages (based on demand), or for both languages to be used in all schools in equal amounts.

    Personally I prefer the former, but that I think that should be open for debate and a democratic vote.

  104. Humanist?


    You say “Fact is that Spain is way too much centralized and some tasks should certainly be delegated to Catalonia.”

    Many tasks are already delegated to Catalonia.

  105. Charles

    I am increasingly reminded of a rather long and pointless argument I had with a an aquaintance of mine a few years ago. It was only after he had his job application (as a cameraman for TV3) turned down because of his daltanism that I finally understood – my friend really, genuinely, could not tell the difference between green and blue. The sad, tragic thing was that even when they explained daltanism to him he would not believe it, and he refused to understand that almost everybody else in the world *could* see the difference.

    Nationalism, according to the catalan dictionary, is a political attitude derived from giving an extremely high value to the nation. It is therefore, BY IT’S VERY DEFINITION, an exceptional and not a universal trait.

    It is, BY DEFINITION, total nonsense to say that everyone is a nationalist.

    Nationalism ALWAYS causes DISCRIMINATION, because it seperates citizens into an in group and an out group on the basis of their ‘nationality’. Racism seperates citizens into an in group and an out group on the basis of their ‘race’. BOTH are EQUALLY deplorable in a modern society.

    Level ‘C’ is amazingly DIFFICULT. I learned to speak catalan at age 14 and I spoke it with my wife and colleagues for more than 15 YEARS before deciding to learn catalan; it still took me two and a half years of study and two attempts to acheive the grade.

    You condescend to say that the spanish can stay on in an Independent Catalonia providing that they don’t make a fuss about being treated as second-class citizens. Just how fanatical can you get? Spanish people in Catalonia are ALREADY living in their own country, and are increasingly fed up by the fact that their RIGHTS are being trampled upon by the vocal minority to which you belong. See

    You say that spanish speakers are not persecuted. EVERYBODY ELSE, including the United States, UNESCO; European Union, Council of Europe, European Court of Human Rights, European Ombudsman, Defensor del Pueblo, TSJC, TS, TC and an almost limitless number of associations say exactly the opposite.
    – in Barcelona City Hall (and others), spanish speakers are forbidden from speaking in spanish to colleagues and can be SANCTIONED.
    – In public schools, teachers are forbidden from using spanish to talk to students or parents or EVEN to other teachers.
    – Children who answer exam papers in spanish in non-language subjects such as history or sciences are FAILED or their results DOWNGRADED.
    – Nationalist forums such as racocatalà persecute unmercifully small businesses that don’t use perfect catalan:-

    – The PUBLICLY-FUNDED Coordinadora d’Assossiacions per la Llengua Catalana has as one of it’s PRINCIPAL aims the ELIMINATION of Spanish as an OFFICIAL language:-

    – The CAL also supports the use of fines of up to 1 MILLION Euros to FORCE businessess to use catalan in their establishments.

    – I agree with the idea of an independence referendum; provided a) that ALL catalans can vote and b) that any province that votes against independence has its decision to continue forming part of Spain respected; Oh and that goes for the Vall d’Aran as well; they appear to want to be an independent nation as well (independent of Catalonia, that is!) :- Watch the incomparable Pilar Rahola:-

    – Early this evening, pasting an A5 sized announcement of a local meeting of Ciutadans this Saturday to a public information notice board, I was threatened and shoved by a catalan extremist who accused me of wanting to kill his language. Thankfully the local police intervened before it got any further. This is the direct result of the hate campaign waged by some catalan nationalist politicians against those who, like Ciutadans, only wish to preserve the PERSONAL FREEDOMS and INDIVIDUAL RIGHTS of ALL citizens living within the law here in Catalonia.

    Fact:- Spain is considered to be the most decentralised state in the world with the exception of Belgium and Catalonia is almost the most autonomous region in the WORLD. As I pointed out in the debate, the Estatut as it was originally passed would have made Catalonia an independent state in almost every single aspect except Defence and CO-RESPONSIBLE with the Spanish government for economic, industrial and foreign policy.

    We haven’t met, but I would love to share a beer with you before you leave our belovéd Catalonia. I fully understand your feelings; my wife, who is 100% catalan and whose mother tongue is catalan, has sworn that if ever Felip and his friends get their way she will leave Catalonia for ever.

  106. Felip


    I would be radically and even violently against an independent Catalonia where spanish or pakistanese or moroccan or chinese would be treated as second class citizens. I don’t believe in citizenship. But if it has to be, it must be exactly the same for everybody provided they pay their taxes.
    I wouldn’t agree, though, with spanish people having more rights than pakistanese, moroccan or chinese or catalan in an independent Catalonia. And I think that, as you’re probably nationalist… probably even more nationaslist than me, you don’t agree with this last idea. You probably think spanish people having more rights than chinese in an independent Catalonia would be a “natural” thing. It wouldn’t, I’m sure of this.
    Nonetheless, I am a strange case. I suppose tha many, perhaps most of catalan nationalists think that spanish people, like chinese and any non-catalan people are to have less rights than catalan people in an independent Catalonia. It’s exactly the bad kind of nationalism you can find everywhere: in Spain they also think that non-spanish are to have less rights than spanish, in France they think that non-french are to have less rights than french, etc.

    I sincerely believe that United States, UNESCO; European Union, Council of Europe, European Court of Human Rights, European Ombudsman, Defensor del Pueblo, TSJC, TS, TC and an almost limitless number of associations can be wrong. Exactly as Elvis Presley’s four million fans obviously were.

    I never had been in Barcelona City Hall, but I suppose spanish is usually used there by Ciutadan’s representatives. As it happens in Catalonia Parliament. It’s very hard to believe it doesn’t happen so. I think I will believe in fairies before believing you. But, if I found the way to inquire it and I happen to be wrong, I will acknowledge my error.

    I happen to know many teachers in public schools. They geive the lessons in catalan, but they use spanish in many occasions: with some parents and with some students. It’s a fact. If you don’t believe it, it’s OK. go on closing your eyes on evidence.

    Students answering exams in spanish, urdu, swahili, wolof, chinese, arab, caló and quechua are unfortunately downgraded in their results. It’s a pity. When I was in Lycée Français, if I tried to answer exams in catalan they weren’t accepted. You know my opinion: the more languages, the best; but our politicians (included Ciutadans’) are so narrow-minded as to want an “official language”. Poor idiots. By the way, try to answer an exam in a Madrid school in gallego! It won’t be accepted even when gallegos are hundreds of thousands in Madrid and gallego is an official language in Spain.

    I did’nt know “racó català”. They are mainly criticizing spelling or grammar errors in catalan… “unmercifully”. I agree with them. I am also “unmerciful” on language errors. No matter if it’s catalan, spanish, french or any other language I know. I don’t see the good of being merciful with them.

    I totally agree with “Coordinadora d’Assossiacions per la Llengua Catalana” on this point. I would even extend it to th whole spanish territory. Why having an “official language” if it’s not to marginate all the other languages?

    I don’t support fines. They do. And so? It’s an opinion. Do you support fines to FORCE businessess to use SPANISH in their establishments? I ask you, because those fines actually EXIST.

    You said: “I agree with the idea of an independence referendum; provided a) that ALL catalans can vote”. Seriously, Charles; do you know any catalan independentist that doesn’t agree with all catalans to vote in a independence referendum? Be sincere: you don’t.
    “and b) that any province that votes against independence has its decision to continue forming part of Spain respected”. In my opinion not any province but even any single village or hamlet. Of course! independentists are for the right of people to belong to the state they want, to decide freely which state they want to be citizens of. As for the provinces, they are totally stupid divisions that don’t have any sense nor any historical basis.
    “Oh and that goes for the Vall d’Aran as well; they appear to want to be an independent nation as well (independent of Catalonia, that is!)” I think that the most natural thing would be Vall d’Aran being independent from Catalonia. Vall d’Aran IS NOT A PART OF CATALONIA. If they want to come along with us in independence from Spain, it’s OK to be friends. If they don’t, it’s OK, it’s their business not mine.

    I’m sorry you’ve been accused to want to kill someone’s language. It’s very probable that guy si killing catalan every day by his ignorance. He’s probably saying “aquet home”, “sense ulleres no bec res”, “tens que fer això”, etc.
    Well, at least, you were lucky to face a catalan ultra-nationalist and not a regular spanish nationalist in a similar circumstance. Try to imagine what could happen to someone pasting ERC or Batasuna anouncements in Madrid!

    I don’t want to tease you, but if you really found nivell C so difficult, perhaps you are not very gifted for languages. Matxil and me have a common french friend, Stéphane, that has been living in Barcelona for 9 years or so. He started trying to speak catalan 5 years ago and the same year he prepared his nivell D for some months and had it in the first attempt. Nivell D is a higher level than nivell C as you know. And Stéphane, even being an intelligent and cultured guy, is not a genius nor a diligent student.

    You insist in ultra-nationalist and anthropocentralist, and on top of it totally dull statements as: “Spanish people in Catalonia are ALREADY living in their own country”. You are supposing a country can be someone’s “own country”. Amazing for a non-nationalist. The land existed before human species and will last after its disappearance. The human claim to own land is anthropocentrism, and the claim when it’s a people or a state claim it’s pure nationalism.

    We would easily believe you when you say Catalonia is almost the most autonomous region in the world if we didn’t happen to be neighbours of Euskadi and Navarra which are far more autonomous than we are.

    Please, say your wife not to leave Catalonia. If Catalonia become to be independent, pogroms won’t happen, people won’t be expelled from the country, people will go living, working, travelling and doing everything exactly the same way… only with much more money in th bank account and with much more direct participation in public affairs.

    Well, if I could get my way it would be different. In this case, it would be much better for her and most of the people to leave the world and go to another planet. Because in my ideal world the very ideas of power, justice, rights and duties, progress, civilization, money, ownership, order, society, authority, ethics, religion, etc. would disappear. People would have to face and admit plainly their animal and miserable condition and learn to survive with it… and it would be too hard for most of us. But I don’t know anyone that share my opinions. So when you say “Felip and his friends” I really don’t know what are you talking about. I happen to have very different friends. Some are for catalan independence. Some are not. Some swear they see spirits daily. Some are franquist 35 years after Franco’s death. Some are marxist. Some are catholic integrists. Some are islamist. Some are trying to reach spiritual enlightment through the Buddha. Some are just cynical. I even have an uncle that declares that the best governement possible in the would be composed by Stalin, Hitler and Gengis Khan!
    So, you see, “Felip and his friends” would be a fairly unorthodox bunch.

  107. Felip

    @ Humanist

    You said: “if you don’t like how something is being done in your country, just get a group of people together and create an independent state where everyone agrees with each other.”

    I don’t think it’s possible to find a group of people where everyone agrees with each other.
    I only think that when something doesn’t work, you better change it. And when, it doesnt matter how hard you try, it does not change, you better get rid of it.
    Spain does not work. It’s a fact. It always have had the higher unemployment level in EU and higher than many third world countries. Its economical situation is officially very bad and suspected of being even worst than officially admitted. And this is so after more than 20 years of being the main recipient of economical aid from EU!!!
    No surprise: in fact Spain has been a total disaster for centuries, always poor, underdeveloped and looted by tyrants, military dictators and corrupted politicians. Many people have tried during those long centuries to get it developed, to improve its economics, to civilize it… unsuccessfully. It stays underdeveloped, corrupted, illiterate… and NOT WORKING AT ALL.

    So: Spain does not work. It’s useless to keep trying to mend it after four centuries. The best to do is to get rid of it. No, I’m sorry, it’s not the best to do: getting rid of it is THE ONLY REALISTIC OPTION GIVEN. The other options are obviously a TRAP.

    Then you added: “What happens when the people within that state disagree about something? Divide again? And again?”
    Of course!!! The more divided the better!!! Why not? Why are all of you assuming that division=bad? Is it a new religion?
    What happens when people within a family disagree as far as to make coexistence unpleasant? Sons and daughters leave home, husbands and wifes divorce… what’s wrong with it? If they don’t want to be together, why don’t separate?

    “The Generalitat must recognise it has two commonly used languages – Castilian and Catalan. At the very least, Castilian is used as a first language as much as Catalan (according to most studies it is actually used a lot more).
    Therefore I would suggest the only FAIR way to offer FREE education is either for schools to be available in both languages (based on demand), or for both languages to be used in all schools in equal amounts.
    Personally I prefer the former, but that I think that should be open for debate and a democratic vote.”

    I also think that this matter should be open for debate and democratic vote. Those are the rules. I don’t like them in the sense that I don’t believe in democratic debate and democratic vote, as they are so obvoiusly manipulated… but those are the rules.
    If opened to democratic vote you would be surprised. In fact the big majority of parents are for education in catalan. I don’t know why being mainly spanish speakers they want it so, for me it’s a mystery, but this is the actual situation.

  108. Felip

    I would like some of you to explain me why, when it’s about catalan (or basque, corsican or sardinian) independence you always put forward the nationalist vs. non-nationalist matter.
    Why don’t you when it’s about spanish claims on Gibraltar, argentinean claims on the Falklands, moroccan claims on Sahara, guatimalan claims on Belize, senegalese claims on Casamance, indonesian claims on Irian Jaya, russian claims on Southern Osetia, etc.
    In those cases you never talk of ugly uncultured and racist spanish, argentinean, moroccan, guatimalan, senegalese, indonesian or russian nationalisms. You face it under another point of view. You talk of international right, history, treaties, UN arbitration…
    I don’t want to disrespect you, but it sounds to me like prejudices. National prejudices to be exact. I think it’s just putting the blame on the feeblest “nation” and justifying the strongest one and then disguising it under a thin and inconsistent layer of humanist-individualist-cosmopolitan make-up.
    I think it would be more honest if you (and, by the way, Vargas Llosa) would admit you don’t like catalan nationalism because you think that Catalonia is a fake nation, not a true one like Spain.
    If you did so, I wouldn’t agree, of course, but at least I would respect your point of view. I can respect any honest point of view, even the most inhuman and monstruous. I can respect jihadists, ultra-orthodox jews, nazis, stalinists, red khmers, supporters of death penalty, neo-cons, fans of Elvis Presley, etc. provided they are not lying.

  109. matxil

    Fans of Elvis Presley too?! Now, really, there I would draw the line!

    Personally, as you already have guessed, I think all those claims you mention are rather silly. All nations are fake, but they are inevitable. The rest is just taste, which nation do you like better.

    Actually, it’s quite lucky that in Catalonia it is forbidden to name your shop Elvis Presley. Or are foreign names allowed? Coming to think of it, would I be fined if I called my shop “Super heavy”? Those are English words, but then I again, spanish/catalan people say them all the time. Maybe I should spell it “Super Jeavy”?

    Funnily enough, yesterday I did a test ( and my results were:
    1) ICV (even though they want to forbid people to call their shop “Download”) (“Downlo-ad” would be allowed, I guess).
    2) On a shared second place: ERC and Ciutadans…

    Conclusion: either the test is a bit sloppy or in the end, it’s not such a big deal after all.

    (I am just shooting wildly here so don’t pay attention to me. )

    Lastly, I couldn’t help laughing out load when the PP blamed ERC for xenofobia, for Puigcerdos’ comments about Andalucia. As silly as the ERC are, no party can beat the idiocy from PP. At least that we can all agree on, right?

  110. Felip

    Yes Matxil, I am too tolerant. I know. Even permissive! I suppose that iranian ayatollahs (those nice old fellows) condemn Elvis’ fans to lapidation; and it’s probably what they deserve…

    I have never read the law, but I suppose you can put any name to your shop. If not, that law is even more useless than I supposed… No irish pub has a catalan name!
    It would be funny:
    “The Palace” = “El palau”
    “The Shamrock” = “El trèvol”
    “The Quiet Man” = “l’home tranquil”

    “Michael Collins” = “Miquel Collons” (???) (LOL!)

    I like your new version of ERC’s leader name! And of course I agree with you about PP. The best of the electoral campaign are PP’s posters: before “solucions per a la crisi” people is writing “Falses”, so that it becomes “Falses solucions per a la crisi”.
    We could do something similar for Montilla’s “ni independentista, ni de dretes” adding “ni eficient, ni honest, ni creíble”… really, those PSC people are hopeless idiots! they have succeeded in making the “ni-ni” campaign! They are still trying to catch spanish-leftist voters from the Barcelona “red belt”… they don’t even know that the “red belt” doesn’t exist anymore! Of course, their “redbeltist” leaders as Montilla, Chacón, Corbacho or De Madre have been living for too long in Sarrià Sant Gervasi and have not noticed that the “red belt” is now full of arabs and latinos!
    Ciutadans know it better: they have noticed that spanish “red-belters” are no leftists anymore. But they have failed in understanding that the best way to seduce them is going against “new immigrants” in a xenophobic way. They would catch much more votes this way, I’m sure. PP are doing it and they will have better results than Ciutadans.
    There is also a disgusting guy named Josep Anglada that has a party named Plataforma per Catalunya. He has been trying to make something like french FN. But few people vote him. His problem is clear: he’s addressing catalan villagers that will go on voting CiU, not him. Not because they are less xenophobic than spanish, but because they already have a party to vote and they won’t change their minds now.
    I think the best to do for Ciutadans would be to align with Plataforma per Catalunya. Their voter’s profile would become then clearly spanish & xenophobic & anti-catalan & nor-left-nor-right. They would get probably more votes than PP this way.

  111. Felip

    Good news:

    Zapatero is now negotiating with Ruiz-Gallardón Madrid debt rescue.
    As I explained before that means we will pay more than seven million euro! But who will pay it? Mainly catalans, of course. Who else?
    Well, not only catalans. According to the official “fiscal balances” the bill will be payed mainly by Catalunya, Balears and Valencia (70,53%). Madrid will pay a 13,28%, Navarra a 7,73%, Murcia a 5,07% and Euskadi a 3,38%.
    Catalunya, Balears and Valencia… who was talking of “catalan countries”? Who said we are not oppressed? Ok, let’s say that it’s not oppression. How can we call it? Devastation? Ravaging? Annihilation? Plunder? I let you to decide.

  112. matxil

    Curiously, for the same reason lots of Dutch people voted against the constitution of the EU, and even want to get out of the EU: they pay more taxes and receive less. All their money goes to Portugal, Spain, Catalonia, Greece and Ireland… I don´t agree with them, by the way.

    I think it is logical that richer parts of a country or nation or continent or world pay more for the poorer parts. In the long run it is better for everyone.

    On the other hand, it is quite clear that Barcelona is poorer than Madrid. The percentages that each autonomous region pays should be in a fair proportion to the population and gross income of that region, and I assume that the 70% you mention is way outside of that proportion.

  113. Felip

    Barcelona, and Catalonia are clearly poorer than Madrid.
    70,53% is the addition of Catalunya, Balears and Valencia share of the financial imbalance published by spanish government for 2005. Everybody knows that with the recession the imbalance is getting worst.
    Some regions pay more than they recieve, and some recieve more than they pay. If you add all the surplus payment of “paying regions” and then you calculate the share of it of every region, you find out that Madrid is paying a 13,28%, Navarra a 7,73%, Murcia a 5,07% and Euskadi a 3,38% of it. And if you add Catalonia+Mallorca+Valencia, their common share is 70,53%. Those are official figures. If we knew the real figures that they will never show to us it would be much worse, for sure.

    I think dutch people (and german, by the way) are right to some extent. It’s OK when rich regions give money to poor regions to develop them. it would be a way to balance the riches. The idea is that both regions will in the long term have balanced economies and then no more help will be required. But this is not what is happening. Spain has recieved economical help for 20 years but its economy has not developed at all. Society development has been amazing but not economy, and we are talking of economy, of productivity and competitiveness, exports, research and patents… and you know they are still as they were before entering EU. EU economical help has not been invested in development but in speculation. So, dutch and german people complaining of it and not wanting to pay a single cent more are right in my opinion.
    Paying more and more to regions that don’t use the money properly nor usefully is worst than not paying them anything at all. Because in the long term this economical help becomes a structural development hinderance for the helped region. It becomes the main reason to never develop. Thus, instead of being a good, economical help becomes a damage.

  114. Felip

    Oh! I’m sorry, I said Madrid debt was 7 million euro? It has been an enormous mistake!
    It’s 7 thousand million euro: €

  115. Charles Ablett i Rocamora


    ‘EL CORTE INGLES’ can not be fined because it is a Registered Trademark. ‘Autoservicio Pérez’ can be fined 1 million Euros, unless he spends quite a bit of money registering the shops name as a Registered Trademark.

    So, ‘O’Brien’s Irish Pub’ can be fined 1 million Euros if it is not a Registered tade name and the owner doesn’t put ‘Bar irlandès’ as well.

    But that won’t happen; the law is not going to be used to force Irish pubs to have their names in catalan as well, it’s going to be used to punish shops seen as ‘anticatalan’ by their competitors or by wonderful people such as Santiago Espot, who claims to have denounced over 3,000 businesses just in 2009, ,
    see also :-


    I must admit that your ridiculous persistence in trying to paint Ciutadans as some kind of right-wing fascist national-catholic movement is becoming very TIRESOME.

    It doesn´t bother me in the slightest what you consider Ciutadans to represent, but PLEASE do not try to convince me or anybody else that we are somewhere to the right of the Falange.

    You discredit yourself and all your other arguments, some of which I would agree with.

    As you are aware (and if not, Jordi Barbeta’s column in today’s Vanguardia will help you), there are and always have been many thousands of working class people who vote PSOE in general elections and do NOT vote at all in regional elections.

    After 2004, with the Tripartit installed in power and imposing the first linguistic fines (the law was of 1998 but had never been used for this purpose until then), a LARGE number of affilliated members of the PSC (and some from ICV) left their parties and formed first a platform and then a political party called Ciutadans. A great many socialist voters such as myself joined them. On order to try and kill off a very dangerous threat to the PSC, their leaders (and their subsidised newspapers) called us fascists, on the grounds that if you give a dog a bad name, it will be believed even if false (what in spanish is called a sambenito).

    Ciutadans is a centre-left party with an electoral program so progressive and based on improving the public services that it was COPIED in it’s entirety (spelling mistakes included) by the PARTIDO SOCIALISTA DE CANARIAS, and approved by its executive council.

    Why don’t you go to their web page, read their party ideology, their electoral program and their positions on just about every subject, and then come back to this forum and tell us what you don’t like?

    Are you afraid of the truth? Are you worried that Ciutadans might actually be a serious, professional party working for a more tolerant and just Catalonia?

    Or do you prefer to believe your silly conspiracy theories, like ‘Marilyn Munroe was killed by the CIA’, ‘Elvis Presley is really alive’ , or ‘Ciutadans is really controlled and financed by Aznar’?

    Please, argue your case, but with FACTS and not FICTIONS.

  116. matxil

    Looking at the video, I wonder when politicians (of any which side) in this country will learn to have a normal, decent debate.

    Sometimes Spain makes me think of a house on fire while the people who live in it are shouting at each other over who is going to wash the dishes.

    If there is one thing in which I agree a 100% with Ciutadans, it is the subject of rotulos. As far as I am concerned, that is not even about being in favour or against nationalism or independence, but simply about basic liberal values.
    Any shop or company should be able to name itself whichever way he wants. The fact that even ICV does not go against this shameful law, I find deeply dissappointing. Now, a lot of people claim that in practice this law does not exist. But first of: clearly there are cases in which the law was applied. And second: if it wouldn’t exist, why does even ICV not dare to go against it?

    What I find a pity of the Ciutadans (and I did read their program, and obviously it is not a fascist program, although I wouldn’t call it left-wing either. Center-liberal I would call it) is that they never seem to attack the wrongs of Madrid. Why don’t they attack the unfair financial situation of Catalunya? That would certainly help them in their credibility, make clear that they want the best for Catalunya and make a clear distinction between C’s and PP(C).

    I think C’s are a bit too afraid sometimes to go too much against PP. Their tone against PSC is much firmer than against PPC. Maybe that is for strategic reasons (to attract voters) but on the other hand, that would mean C’s are more interested in PP voters than left-wing voters. Personally, I find the PP/PPC one of the most disgusting parties of Europe. The latest dirt of Camacho in a racist video-game, or their ridiculous acusation of xenofobia against that fool of ERC just are the latest examples of a long long line. As long as the C’s does not take clear distance of them (they do, but not with enough fervour), I keep my doubts.

    Apart from these critical points, I also strongly differ of opinion with C’s where: the prohibition of bull-fighting (which we talked about before) and the use of nuclear energy.

  117. Felip


    My advice to you is to go urgently to your psichiatrist. You show clear paranoid symptoms.
    I NEVER said Ciutadans are fascits. I swear. You are suffering hallucinations.

    Or perhaps you misinterpreted my comments about the possibility of Ciutadans allying with Plataforma per Catalunya. I never said it will really happen. I only guessed if it wouldn’t be better for both parties to ally. That’s all. I know your ideologies are different and I think few chances really exist of both parties allying. But my opinion is that you would catch much more votes if appearing together for the elections.
    In the end democratic politics is about this: about catching votes, having as many seats in the Parliament and as many public offices as possible, and then earning spectacular wages and trading with political influence. isn’t it?
    So, why all this fuss about ideological trifles?

  118. Charles Ablett i Rocamora


    you really shouldn’t be so cynical!

    Asking Ciutadans to ally with the PxC is liking asking the ICV to ally with the Falange in order to appeal to more voters!

    You insinuated that PXC and C’s share ideologies. You are mistaken, at the very least, and provoked my irate response. You are also wrong if you think that appealing to two DIAMETRICALLY OPPOSED sets of voters gets you more votes; it provokes a well-deserved raspberry from both.

    For example, the PSC is discovering that it cannot pretend to be a Catalanist Nationalist party defending catalan privileges and prohibiting the use of spanish in catalan state schools and administration and at the same time appeal to it’s traditional mainly working-class and spanish-speaking voters. Another example, the price that ERC is going to pay for supporting an andalusian as President of Catalonia is going to cost it maybe half its voters. In politics, it pays NOT to betray the interests of your voters, as Montilla is finding out.

    Your last paragraph strikes me as very sad. Ideology is what drives politics. All successful political careers end in more or less total failure. If I were a catalan parlamentarian I would be earning rather less than what I am earning as an Asset Management specialist at IBM. I am sure that most parlamentarians would work rather less and earn rather more in jobs that are a lot safer than the ones they have as politicians. You shouldn’t take exceptions to be the rule.

    Very simply put, all politicians want to better the condition of their voters; the word politics comes from the greek words Poly Tykos (the common good or las cosas de todos). The WAY of doing this depends on the ideology of the party or person involved.

    Finally, you complain of the 7,000,000,000 Euros that Madrid owes. I complain about the 40,000,000,000 Euros that the Generalitat owes and the 500.000.000 Euros that it is going to spend in order to ‘compensate’ the multi-millionaire owner of the Monumental Bull-ring.

  119. Felip

    By the way, one of the best arguments you have put forward in this debate is when you asked why loosing time and energy in national differences instead of worrying for real problems as economy, employment, housing, education, etc.
    It’s a good and pertinent question and I tried to answer it before.

    Now i will put it upside-down: I’ll ask you why are you loosing time and energy in criticizing catalan nationalism instead of worrying for serious problems?

    The answer is easy: you can do both things. As we also can.

  120. Charles Ablett i Rocamora


    I consider catalan nationalism to be a major problem, in part because Far too much parliamentary and government action has been dedicated to arguing over the creation of a pseudo-state in DETRIMENT to what should have been its’ primary concern – namely, promoting the health, wealth and well-being of all catalan citizens through efficient and effective government policy.

    Five years ago now my 11 year old daughter asked her teacher if she could go to the toilet. The answer was:- ‘Home, si m’ho dius en català, et diré que sí’. Believe it or not it was this idiots unthinking response that made me realize that I could no longer happily ignore catalan nationalism and hope that it would go away.

    Since then I have dedicated immense amounts of time and a large amount of MY money to fighting what I consider to be an aberration, namely NATIONALISM in all shapes and forms, and I shall keep on working for the ideal of a nationless planet.

  121. matxil

    @Felipe Seems like a fake argument.
    The fact that catalan independence is made into such an issue, makes that other more severe problems are ignored. (Look at the current elections. We have 20% unemployment, and nobody talks about it).
    So we have to make people stop talking about Catalan independence. I am not sure up till what point C’s does that, but that’s what they should do. Obviously, that means also to take away all ridiculous laws that are existing nowaways and which try to inforce some kind of fake independence (i.e. the shop name issue).
    Put it like this: while Catalonya is still part of Spain: Solve unemployment. Stop prohibiting shopnames.
    When Catalonya is independent: Solve unemployment. Prohibit whatever you like, but it won’t be a very pleasant nation.

  122. matxil

    @Charles. You still haven’t made clear how you (or Ciutadans) will try to make a nationless world (i.e. no Spain, no USA, no UK, no…). Sounds a bit unlikely, don’t you think?

    Maybe you should put it more like this: you oppose catalan independence while others might be in favour it. A matter of taste.

    On the other hand: while Catalonya is NOT independent, at least it should be made sure people live pleasantly here together. This way, obviously, some of the intolerant Catalan rules have to go. Fact is, Catalonia is not (yet) independent, and that means Spanish speaking people should feel good here too.

    Putting it like this, you would avoid the endless discussion loop about nationalism.

  123. matxil

    @Felipe. If you are so cynical about politicians, how come you are so confident about this peaceful, non-imperialist Catalan nationalism of yours? How can you be sure that a Catalan independent nation will be a beautiful thing? Either be cynical always or never, but don’t reserve cynism only for the things you don’t agree with.

    At most you could say that a Catalan independent nation will be slightly better than a Spanish nation. If you think that’s worth it, go ahead.

    Meanwhile, while it still is not independent, you could understand at least that a lot of people who live here do not agree with certain laws that give seem to put preference to the Catalan language. Save that preference until you are independent (if ever).

  124. Felip

    @ Charles

    I know greek ethymology of Politics and democracy, but ethymologic don’t always correspond to actual meaning of a word.

    Sadly, I think it’s not the exception. Just watch spanish or catalan parliament sessions or Barcelona City Hall sessions on TV. Few elected politicians attend to them. But this is not the worst: their speeches are just bad political bad political literature recitation. The intellectual level displayed is shamefully low. Election campaigns are a amazingly dull set of commonplaces that nobody believes. Party programs look like having been written in a hurry by some good natured members that don’t count for the public offices. Parliamentary committees are just a good excuse for partisan accusations… This is about politicians incompetence.
    Corruption is probably less spread, but you just need to walk around to see many instances of its results. It doesn’t look as being a rare exception. Perhaps only a minority are responsible of it, but corruption cases are so ubiquitous that only few politicians being aware and acquiescent in some degree with them is hard to believe.

    Probably some Public Officials are earning less than they would if working in private business. But when you see their wages, you can easily see that most of them have found in politics the best chance in their lives to have a living standard that would be otherwise totally out of their reach.
    I mean that normal people is earning 1200, 1000, 800 or even 600 € per month and manage to survive with this. When you have 1500 € per month you’re lucky.
    Public Officials wages are at another level.

    I don’t think I’m cynical. I just see it’s happening as always along History: power consists in trampling the weakest and gaining at their expense. It always have been so and I don’t know why it would be otherwise nowadays. Just because they have put on it obsolete greek names as “democracy”? Well, I remember when I was young, comunist block countries used to be named “democratic”, as German Democratic Republic. You see how low the value of the poor old word has fallen!

  125. matxil

    @Felipe. I agree with your analysis about politicians. And in the Netherlands it’s hardly any better, apart from corruption which I am sure is less there. But also in the Netherlands, the majority of the people in parlement often don’t even show up and wouldn’t even be allowed to work at the reception desk of IBM.
    Most of them would be fired after their try-out time of 6 months, and then would not get any unemployment benefit. If parlement sitters fuck up (and they do!), and suddenly have to leave, they can still enjoy a large allowment for a long time.
    I doubt in Spain it’s any better.

    Hence, I don’t oppose your cynism. I oppose your sunshine optimism as soon as you talk about that splendid Catalan state you are hoping for. The best you can hope to get is something a little bit better. And again, I wish you best of luck with thath. But while you haven’t succeeded, some of the pseudo-laws that exist now should be stopped.

  126. Felip

    @ Matxil
    You said it clearly. I don’t think an independent Catalonia would be a paradise. Politicians would’nt be probably much better (in any case I don’t believe they could be worst). But being a little country it would be easier to manage and economics would have more chances to work in a realistic way. On top of it, being less people to share sovereignty, all of us would have more direct participation in public affairs and good people really working to improve our society (if any) would have more chances to achieve their goals.
    This is valid for every little country. In Catalonia particular case, as we are systematically abused in the economical level, independence would mean more riches and means to share with less people. And as we don’t have claims on territories outside our borders and we don’t believe in races, we wouldn’t have any chance to be a threat for anybody in the world except ourselves.

  127. matxil

    @Felipe. And you said it clearly now too (not for the first time). If you put it like this, I have absolutely nothing against it. You might be 100% right. That’s why I say that the discussion about independence as such (or seperation / division of territory) doesn’t interest me that much. Although I wonder in how far you can be independent from UE and the US, especially with your lousy mediterrenean economy (none of the mediterrenean countries work well), but anyway: good luck. No problem.

    My problems are:
    1). If that nation is based on “cultural”, “pueblo unido” arguments which inevitably will lead to “my culture” against “your culture”. (Yes, I know, Spain does that too. Even more reason to not do the same! Spain should not do so either. Moreover, their attitude is part of the problem).
    2). While that nation does not exist (like now), already put in laws which pretend it is a nation. And moreover already show tendencies from point 1 (Prohibit shopnames with spanish names, call Ciutadans fascist (I know you don’t, but lots of people do, you know that)).

    Anyway, although I do experience these problems sometimes (especially with people from the Girona region, for some reason), in general I am pretty ok here, understanding Catalan, speaking Spanish and English and even sometimes trying to speak Catalan. And eating bread with cheese like a decent Dutchman. I don’t think the Catalan nationalism is so much of a problem (but it certainly is annoying sometimes) compared to the economy, the unemployment and the housing situation.

    Meanwhile, whenever I read something about Ciutadans, I pretty much like what they are saying, but have some doubts:
    1. Why are they in favour of nuclear energy? Do they agree that in the long run that creates even more problems for the environment?
    2. What do they think of these financial numbers that show that Catalunya pays relatively more (much more) taxes, but receieves relatively less (much less) benefits from it? Is that a lie? If it is a lie, can you show me the official, real numbers? If it is not a lie, why does C’s not criticize that?
    3. Does Ciutadans think that everything in Catalunya should be controlled in Madrid? Does it make sense that Madrid decides about Catalan public transport? Does it make sense that university diplomas in Barcelona have a delay of 2 years because they have to be signed by the Spanish king?
    4. You said that Catalonya is already one of the most autonomous regions. I don believe that. I know that the Andalucian Estatut went by without problems whereas the Catalan version was criticized. I know the basque countries control their own tax money. I think the German Länder are more independent and I am pretty sure the American states are (up to differences in death penalty laws, gay matrimony, marihuana possession…). So: does Ciutadans not think that in the long run a sort of German “Länder” federal system would be more practical? If so, why don’t they say so more clearly?
    5. What is the (strategical?) reason behind their attacks against the PSC? Is it to attract PSC voters? Or PP voters? Why doesn’t the C’s show more clearly their difference with the (semi-democratic, openly xenofobic, sexistic and idiotic) PP? If the C’s is a progressive liberal center-left party as you say, it would do them well mark their difference with PP, because righly or not, for a lot of people that difference is not that clear.
    6. Also, I would see more clearly, what – en concreto – are the plans of C’s with respect to the housing problems (and house speculation) and the unemployment (how to create and push a real catalan industry forward).

  128. Felip

    @ Matxil

    You know I don’t put it in terms of “pueblo unido”, but I’m not the average catalanist.
    Anyway, catalan standard national and cultural feelings are full of commonplaces diametrically opposite to the “my culture against your culture” usual nationalist discourse. Namely:
    Catalan language is the only language I know that doesn’t try to build a standard for all its speakers. Every local variant is accepted as correct. Speaking Lleida catalan or Menorca catalan (which obviously different in many aspects) is considered by all catalans as correct as Girona or Moià way.
    Catalan nationalists are proud of having strong influence from other countries and cultures as occitan, sardinian, greek, arab… Other influences as spanish and french are less gladly accepted because of having been an imposition, but generally speaking a catalan nationalist doesn’t feel as being against the whole world.
    Catalan nationalists are also fond of explaining that their country is a place of meeting and melting of cultures. “Terra d’acollida” is a main commonplace in catalanist discourse.
    Many catalan national heroes and characters of catalan nationalist mythology were in fact coming from other countries and every catalan nationalist knows, accepts and declares them to be so. Roger de Lluria, Violant d’Hongria, Roger de Flor, Dona Ermessenda, Pablo Picasso, Gato Pérez, Pepe Rubianes… Others, even being representatives of other cultures, as Carmen Amaya, are also repected and admired by catalan nationalists.

    Of course, much of these are, as I said just commonplaces when reality is not so “cool”. But anyway, they make ethnic cleansing situations very unlikely even in a supposed ultra-nationalist Catalonia.

    Of course the schooling in catalan, the film dubbing or the obligation to label in catalan are not a “my culture against your culture” mentality result. As I explained before, catalan governments are doing thing like that to balance the language situation which is heavily unbalanced for spanish and against catalan. They are doing all this to impose bilingualism, not catalan, as I said before. They are probably wrong because probably bilingualism is not such a good thing as to impose it, and because this is not the best strategy to reach that goal. But this is what they are really trying, not to sweep aout spanish culture from Catalonia.

  129. matxil

    You are right, in two ways.
    1) You are not the average catalanist. That makes this discussion both interesting but also very divergent because some of your arguments would actually be the opposite of what ERC or CIU would say. Okay with me, but then you should understand that at least I am not so much attacking your wildly anti-authoritarian fantasies as rather the definitely authoritarian agendas of ERC and CIU.
    Then again, a discussion with someone from CIU or ERC would be infinitely more boring.

    2) Forcing bilinguism in this way is definately not the best strategy. It only seems to divide instead of unite.

    A last important point: you forgot to mention Johan Cruijff.

  130. matxil

    1. I just found some information on the internet:
    and I have to say that it puts things rather in a different light. It states that “rotulos” and shop-information should be at least in catalan. In other words, it is not forbidden to put it in spanish, only, one is obliged to put it at least in catalan. Now, you still might think this is not a good thing, but then at least you should be honest in presenting the law such as it is, and also to acknowledge the reason for it (even – especially – though you might not agree with that reason). I don’t agree with forcing people to anything, but still, it is not such a dictatorial thing as the PP and Ciutadans present it to be and certainly not meant to suppress spanish (which would be impossible). It is actually a form of promotion.

    2. I still haven’t got the answer about the economical tax situation of Catalonia. Is it true or is it a lie that Catalonia pays more than other autonomies, and receives less? Is it true that Navarra can take care of its own tax-money and only send to Madrid what’s left over?

    3. None of the political parties (left nor right, independentist or not) has put forward any practical, empirical plan to counter-attack unemployment, the shit economy, the bad housing conditions and the increasing amount of racism and sexism. I do admit that ICV and C’s have been open about their personal finances (as a means of counterattack corruption, presumely). Still, it is hardly enough.

    4. I can’t stress enough, that Ciutadans would be a lot more credible if they would criticize equally Spanish interference with Catalan business as criticizing Catalan nationalist sentimentalism. Even more so, if they would reject any form of association or possible future coalitions with PP.

    5. Nationalist sentiments are not nice. But it certainly isn’t the biggest problem right now. In that way, the C’s ironically make the same mistake as the ERC: overestimating the issue. The real problems, bewilderingly, are not addressed (apart from vague promises) during this campaign. And still politicians wonder why hardly anyone votes… I sometimes wonder if politicians actually might prefer that people don’t vote.

  131. Charles Ablett


    1. I have never said that it is forbidden to have shop signs and information in spanish. I have always said ‘ if it does not have everything at least in Catalan’. Please check my posts. I have always recognised that the aim of the law is to FORCE businesses to use more catalana and to ONLY employ shop assistants who are fluent catalan speakers.

    My objection to defining a language as the primary, preferent, and PROPER language to use in a bilingual community is that you are creating first class and second class languages, which ALSO has the effect of classifying ordinary people into first class or second class citizens on the basis of their mother language. Both languages are EQUALLY oficial.

    2. We who live in Sant Just Desvern pay a HUGE amount more in taxes than do people who live in Sant Joan Despi, and THEY have a hospital, more trains, metros, busses and services than we do. Catalonia does NOT pay taxes. People who live in Catalonia pay taxes, and pay taxes according to exactly the same scale as people all over Spain, as it should be.

    In my block I pay slightly more to the building maintenance fund than my neighbours do because my ground-floor flat is slightly bigger than those of my neighbours AND I get no benefit from the communal lift. Am I being robbed? Should I declare my independence or refuse to pay?

    3. Rivera and Mas have made it quite clear that the crisis can ONLY be overcome by creating jobs in wealth-creating sectors (i.e. creating jobs for the boys in local administration is NOT the way). In order to create jobs we have to encourage businesses to set up here, with tax-breaks and far less red-tape.

    4. Please give me an example of Spanish interference with Catalan business and I will critisize it. As regards the PP, C’s would NEVER form an association or coalition with them unless it were along the lines of the constitutionalist front actually governing in the Basque country, for the simple reason that minnows do not travel safely in the mouths of sharks.

    5. You’re right. The REAL problems of the last SEVEN years have been the economy, job destruction, asset bubbles, a huge current account deficit that has left Catalonia owing Euros and unable to psy its’ pharmaceutical bills. Yet the Tripartit governments have ignored all these matters to dedicate itself to ‘ESTATUT, IDENTITAT i LLENGUA’.

    Ciutadans, with only three MPs, could only react to the laws being proposed and passed. If the only action taken by the government in the last seven years has been Nationalist inspired, it cannot be considered to be the fault of Ciutadans.

  132. matxil

    1. Okay, as I said, my mistake. Still, when it is put like that, I don´t see it as such a big issue. Your examplary “library” can still call itself “Yer Ole Bookshop” as long as it has a subtitle “La Teva Antigua Llibrería” (I don´t have level C, so I am sure I said it wrong). Of course, that would be extreemly silly, and I agree the rule should not exist (even Felipe agrees about that) but I wouldn´t make it a spearpoint. I could very well imagine France, the US or the UK taking that kind of measures. In Ireland, all public anouncements are in Irish, even though in reality I haven´t heard a soul speaking Gaelic there.

    2. I don´t agree with you there. I don´t know why San Just Desvern pays ” a huge amount more” than San Just Despi, so you should explain that more clearly. I thought you said all people paid the same in Spain? Anyway, in an autonomous system (which in the future might be a federal system as even some people from C´s want), I think it´s normal that the amount a region receives should be in balance to what a region pays. The surplus can go to more needy regions, like Extremedura or Andalucia, but right now Catalunya is rather needy itself.
    However, I looked up the source:
    and actually cannot find the numbers Felipe mentioned.
    I have a severe problems understanding both economics as official Spanish documents, so maybe @Charles or @Felipe can clear this up for me.

    3. I agree about the less red-tape, the other things you mention I am not so sure about. I would think a lot of the crisis is created because of big companies doing whatever they felt like without any government control.

    4. Examples: Rajoy and Zapatero interfering in Catalan elections. The Spanish king signing all university diplomas. The aforementioned tax money distribution (and why for Navarra it is different). I am sure there are more.
    PP is not the only shark, so is PSOE. The difference is that the PP has clear anti-democratic tendencies. The last few weeks have shown that again.

    5. I am not happy about the tripartit either, and I am not sure what they have done, but I don´t think they have been actively forcing Catalan through our throats. Not through mine at least. Also, I think it is a bit silly (maybe you are not saying that, but you seem to suggest it) to blame the crisis on the tripartit (or PSOE for that matter). The crisis was an inevitable, international result of neocon capitalism, banks that went out of control and (in the case of Spain especially) additionally a big bubble of construction speculation, which had been going on for decades.

  133. Felip

    As you said, Matxil, the problem is not catalan paying more taxes but what are they recieving for the same price.

    Charles said everybody is paying the same taxes around spains according to their incomes. It’s almost true for IRPF tax and for IVA tax. But other taxes vary a lot depending on the region.
    IRPF is not exactly the same for every region, because many regions have special regional reliefs (islands have them always, I think, and some regions as Murcia or Andalucia… use to have some for some wide sectors).
    IVA is exactly the same for everybody.
    “Impuesto de sociedades” has some differences depending on the regions (but I honestly don’t know the scope of them) because some business legal forms depend on which region they are settled in.
    Other taxes also vary from region to region. You know that if you have heard something about the “impuesto de sucesiones” .

    But there is another “regional” variation. Some regions have a tax fraud rate much bigger than others. Nobody knows the exact amounts for obvious reasons, but in any case, AEAT don’t want to publish their data related with this… the reason is obvious. I’ts exacly the same reason why they refused for years to publish the regional “fiscal balance”: because it was clear that some pay a lot more than they recieve and some recieve a lot more than they pay.

    So the problem is not only that Catalonia is paying a little more. The problem is that we are recieving much less.

    It would be OK if we were far much rich than other spanish regions. But it’s not the case.
    I don’t think as Matxil said that the more you pay the more you might recieve. A region might recieve according to the population and the structural and social problems in it.
    Catalonia is a highly populated region, has big cities with a high population concentration, has a big rate of immigration, has a high unemployment tax, has the main spanish passage with France, is creating more businesses and more variated than any other region… So, objectively we might recieve more than other regions… but we don’t.

    How it works? In many ways:
    – Public health system is managed by every autonomic region but there is a “caja única” for all spanish “Seguridad Social”. That means that central S.S. is budgeting and paying every regional public health system. Central S.S. is budgeting less per person when it’s Catalonia than when it’s Andalucía. And then they pay to Catalonia with a longer delay than any other region.
    – I already explained you how works the agricultural unemployment in Andalucía and Extremadura.
    – Budgeted public works for Catalonia are never fully paid and with a bigger delay than other regions.
    – Budgeted public works for Catalonia are lower per population than most of the regions.
    – Some services which might be public and free (and that so they are in other regions) are private and expensive in Catalonia. This is the case of Speedways.
    – Some cheap public services are of lower quality in Catalonia than elsewere around Spain. This is the case of RENFE. Go to Madrid “cercanías” and you will easily see the difference. And not only “cercanías”. Did you know that catalan regional railway network, after years of disinvestment and neglect, is the only one in Spain that deliver benefits to Renfe? All the rest of spanish railway regional networks have losses.
    – Big companies have special fiscal advantages if settled in Madrid. Not in Barcelona.
    – State subsidies for cultural events, fashion, sports and so on are being distributed in a rather strange way in Spain, following a super-centralist pattern.
    – Communication in Spain is always planned under a radial pattern disregarding connection with the rest of Europe (That happened with AVE: instead of starting it with the France-Barcelona connection they started with Madrid-Sevilla).
    – Catalonia is one of the spanish regions where more tax inspections are done (I don’t remember if it was the first or the second rated) even when its tax fraud level is relatively low.

    But economical is not the only imbalance: when it’s about culture, all the spanish public investments and services are for Madrid. When the “Centelles” photo archive was finally for the central culture ministry, even being 100% about catalan facts, people and places, they moved it to Madrid. Every time the Culture Ministry buys a Dalí or a Picasso or a Miró, it goes to Madrid museums. No matter we have a Dalí Museum in Figueres, a Miró Foundation in Barcelona and in Palma and a Picasso Museum in Barcelona and the MNAC. When they spend the money is to improve their level not ours, even when a big portion of this money comes from our taxes.

    The thing I don’t like of C’s is their unfair way to put things forward.
    A good example of it is Charle’s answer to my Madrid debt argument. He said that Madrid debt is more 7 thousand million euro but the Generalitat debt is 40 thousand million. It’s sush a stupid comprison! I did’nt talk of Madrid region’s debt or Andalucia debt which are also amazingly high. I am talking of a City Council debt. Valencia’s which is the second municipal debt in Spain is less than 1/5 of Madrid’s. And Barcelona’s debt is around a 1/10!
    The problem with Generlitat’s debt is exactly what I was explaining before: the catalan government is managing many things that are payed from Spanish budget, and the problem is Spanish budget is always budgeting less than necessary catalan public services, paying less than budgeted and paying it with enourmous delays. This is why Generalitat de Catalunya has such a big debt. Of course, Generalitat is spendig big amounts in totally useless things as everybody knows. Charles gave us many instances. But you know this is not a special feature of Catalonia. Similar cases in other regions and in central administration have been reported by the papers. Don’t you remember the 4 million euro spent by Zapatero to develop his idea of “Alianza de Civilizaciones” or the huge amounts spent by Madrid for its many applications to the Olymipc Games?

    I can give some instances of Spain interfering in Catalan business:
    – The AENA repeated actions for Brajas airoport and against el Prat, trying to avoid Barcelona being a main international airport.
    – The nasty affair with “Pasarela Gaudí” and “Pasarela Cibeles”.
    – The repeated denial of having european railway width, a historical catalan claim.
    – The agressive policy to locate in Madrid big companies already settled in Barcelona.
    – Spanish government intervention to prevent Fecsa-Endesa to be purchased by Gas Natural (a catalan company). The most amazing of it was when they said that Fecsa was a too important strategic company to be selled to “foreigners” (catalans, in fact). In the end it has been purchased by Enel (an italian company).

    But don’t think it’s a modern problem: Charles I the emperor explicitly banned catalan trade with America in the XVIth century, and the ban lasted for more than two centuries, till Charles III.
    So, you see, spanish interference in catalan business is an old tradition.

  134. matxil

    Ok. Thanks. One thing you might clear up for me, though, is the link I sent in my previous comment. I don’t see the 70% you mentioned earlier in the tables. Also, it seems the balance of the Comunidad Madrid seems to be even more in the red than Catalunya. But maybe I am reading it wrongly?

    By the way yesterday I saw the first half the debate (on TV3) the 6 main parties had on Sunday and I enjoyed it largely although I only understood half. I felt a bit sorry for Montilla though. He might have lots of qualities, but media-genicity isn’t one of them.

  135. Felip

    @ Matxil

    The 70% I mentioned was adding Baleares to Catalunya and Valencia. They are the 3 regions that are paying more. Madrid is the fourth.
    I have the 2005 official data (I think that spanish government didn’t publish more “balanzas fiscales” anymore).
    The differences of the money payed and the money recieved for “paying regions” are:
    Balears: 128.999,9 milion € (34,3% of the total spanish regional imbalance)
    Catalunya: 79.035,15 milion € (21,21%)
    Valencia: 57.232,35 milion € (15,22%)
    Madrid: 49.964,75 milion € (13,28%)
    Navarra: 29.070,4 milion € (7,73%)
    Murcia: 19.077,45 milion € (5,72%)
    Euskadi: 12.718,3 milion € (3,38%)

    The total amount of spanish regional imbalance being 376.098,3 milion €

    That means thet when added the Mallorca + Catalunya + Valencia imbalance, you found out that the “catalan countries” are paying 265.267,4 milion € more than they are recieving (a 70,53% of the total spanish regional imbalance).
    I was interested in adding the “catalan countries” total amount to show to Humanist what catalan and valencian and balearic independentists are talking about when they use the term”oppressed” and what is the “catalan countries” idea about: not only sentimental fancies.

    Those rates of total spansih region imbalance have a clear meaning: every time spanish government is spending more than reasonably (and it happens every day), Balearic Islands are paying a 34,3% of the bill, Catalonia pays a 21% and so on.

    And please keep in mind that:
    1) those are official numbers. Reality is undoubtedly worst.
    2) they don’t count the advantages that Madrid has, being the capital.
    3) they count the budgeted expenses not the real expenses, which are less than budgeted for some regions (you can easily guess which!)
    4) delays in payment are not counted…

  136. Felip

    @ Matxil

    I understand why you thought that the law about labelling in catalan was about forbidding spanish. Charles never said it, but this is what happens with demagogy. They explain you the truth in such a dramatic way that you think they are talking of more serious problems than they really are.

    Note that I DON’T AGREE with the law.

    The law says that business boards and labels, etc. must be AT LEAST in catalan. I never read the law but I suppose it doesn’t affect the names (I mean the company official or commercial name). If so, you could legally open your bookshop named “Yer Ole Bookshop”, but if you have in your board something like: “english books and magazines” the law forces you to add “llibres i revistes anglesos”. By the way, there is also a spanish law that also forces you to add “libros y revistas ingleses”. As you stated, there are similar laws in France that not only forces you touse at least french but also to do it correctly (you can be fined for any grammar mistake).
    Another important consideration is: does this law work or not? The answer is clear: it doesn’t work. You have the prove of it everywhere. Some shops don’t display any information in catalan, others don’t display any information in spanish, some don’t display any information in spanish or catalan (you can find many of them in Lloret, Calella, Roses and other beach locations).
    My conclusion is that the law is stupid, just as stupid as spanish or french similar laws are, and on top of it it’s useless because almost everybody is acting as it didn’t exist and nothing happen to them. So, complaining of the law is OK, but doing it in the dramatic terms that PP and C’s people do, is demagogy.

  137. Felip

    @ Charles

    Catalonia has a 40.000 million € debt. If Spanish government had stopped its systematical plunder on Catalan economy for 6 or 7 months we wouldn’t have any debt.

    The problem with Madrid debt (the City not the region) is they are trying to have it payed by spanish central government as an extraordinary expense. Nobody is talking of spanish governement making an extraordinary expense to pay the catalan debt or the debt of Barcelona City Council. Those debts are supposed to be payed in the long term by catalans and Barcelona people respectively.

    By the way, the last news are unexpectedly good: Zapatero has refused the Madrid City Council proposal. But how long will spanish government refuse it?

  138. matxil

    I agree with almost everything you say. Moreover I am surprised that you say that in Spain there is a similar law! I am going to investigate that, because if that is true, this whole issue becomes even more ridiculous and is just another example of C’s criticising Catalonia but not Spain. Also, that the law does not apply to the shop name, was something I suspected already.

    However, since we all agree that this law is ridiculous, and we also agree that making a fuzz about it is a waste of time, why can’t at least the ICV (which is a party I would expect some kind of intelligence from, naive that I am) just simply say: “Look: of course that law is stupid, and we would vote against it too. Now, let’s talk about more important stuff”. Instead they defend it, and so keep this eternal karma of hot air politics alive!

    (Hmm, a bit like us in this discussion basically.) (But we’re not getting paid for it.)

    Yesterday Eva told me that after living 10 years in this beautiful country (so I still have one and a half more years to go), I can vote too. I think I will start my own political party and call it “Sentit Comun”.

  139. Felip

    @ Charles

    When I proposed C’s to ally with PXC it was a serious proposal.
    You know I don’t believe in political parties having any ideology. Perhaps I’m right, perhaps I’m wrong. But I will go on thinking so as long as I won’t have any evidence.
    So, ideology aside, C’s and PXC have important things in common:
    The most important is that both are using orange as their party color. This is not a minor issue. Party color is the second more important consideration for average voters, the first being candidate’s look.
    The second one is style. Both have a demagogic-populist discourse, addressed to different people, but similar in having a very low intellectual level.
    The third is that both are missing their real target: C’s are trying to scratch some Sarrià-Sant-Gervasi PP voters and more, if possible, Barcelona-red-belt PSC voters with an anti-catalan discourse. PXC are trying to scratch some inland CiU voters with a xenophobic discourse. Both are wrong:
    – Sarrià-Sant-Gervasi PP voters will perhaps change their vote, but they are few. Southern Catalonia PP voters won’t change to C’s, it’s clear.
    – Spanish red-belters are only mildly anti-catalan but clearly leftists; so, they won’t change their vote for C’s even when agreeing with a part of its discourse.
    – Inland catalans are rather xenophobic but much less than average spanish red-belters, and on the other hand, they are very conservative and consequently distrusting extremist adventures as PXC.

    All this considered, it would be better for both to forget spanish Sarrià-Sant-Gervasi and catalan inland voters and focus your efforts on spanish anti-catalan and xenophobic red-belters which could perfectly be over 100.000 voters.

    It’s just an opinion. Don’t get angry for it, please.

  140. matxil

    Quiet day at Bornet today? 🙂

    Even when you are only saying your last comment as a joke, you are wrong.

    Only a few days ago, Rivera got harrassed and was called a fascist at the UAB. They are not of course, but besides that: the more they are called fascists, the more they can prove that they are not, and moreover show easily that at least some catalanists are absolute morons. Being falsely accused of something often can help a lot.

    Apart from that, also strategically the best they can do is being as leftish as possible while being falsely accused of fascism. It is actually one of the things that attracted me to them in the first place. If there is one thing I can’t stand is idiot leftists who call other people (C’s, Vargas Llosa, …) fascist without reason.

    I am not sure which voters C’s are looking for. If they are really looking for PP voters, you’re right, that would be a mistake. On the other hand, I am sure there are lots of “red-belters” who would vote for C’s, and that’s where their potential is. Even more so if they would stop going on and on about catalan nationalism and stress their young, enthusiast, entrepeneur image which is more or less what Mas from CIU is doing for the more conservative part of Catalonia.

    Have you seen the debate? I have seen a part and my conclusion is that I cannot hear a word of what Herrera says, that Montilla should work in an office and never speak in public, that Puigcercós is a very stubborn guy, that that PP woman is terrible, that Mas is clearly going to win and that Rivera should be clearer about his social and economic plans. I think he could really get a lot more points that way.

    How many seats is 100.000 voters, by the way?

  141. Felip

    @ Matxil

    I agree with you: that law is a shit and ICV had showed their incompetence voting for it. As you said, they were the right people to vote against it on rational terms, but they lost their chance.

    I would vote your party if I believed at all in democracy. But I don’t. My opinion is that modern democracies are a swindle. They say to you there is a “social contract” that nobody has ever seen or signed. Then they add that people is the sovereign, when the only sovereign act they perform is voting every 4 years… and the most amazing of it all is that voting consists precisely in giving up sovereignty in favor of so-called “representatives”!

    I think it was Winston Churchill who said “democracy is the less bad of political systems” or something similar. First of all it would be interesting to underline that according to this statement democracy is a BAD SYSTEM. Then we could add that communism, fascism and islamism have failed their goals, but at least they have TRIED to do things better. Democracy doesn’t. It consists in admitting that human society will remain a shit for ever and ever, and not even trying to improve our condition. You didn’t need all that “État de Droit” fairytale to get to such a depressing conlcusion. Raw and practical anarchism would be enough.

  142. Felip

    I don’t know how many seats are 100.000 votes. But they must be a lot.
    Well, my opinion af C’s strategy is VERY debatable, I know. But I really think adding anti-catalnism to xenophiobia would work in Barcelona-red-belt. It’s just what happened with french FN: they added a national centralist discourse to xenophobia and addressed it mainly to old immigrates (spanish, italian, portugese and “pied noirs” mainly) who looked at new immigrates as a threat and were fond of being considered as “true french”. Of course, if they did so some C’s people would leave the party, but I think they would catch more votes.

    I don’t have seen the debate. I was reading Saramago’s “O Evangelho segundo Jesus Cristo”. Much more interesting, I swear you.
    In the end it’s only political fiction.
    I can do more like that with other parties. For instance: ERC would have more voters if allying with CiU and ICV… but I know ERC and CiU and ICV people would be angry against me if they knew my arguments. And then I know they won’t ally and the main objective reason to not doing so is htier colors are different: yellow, blue and green… no possible matching!

  143. Felip

    @ Matxil

    Ah! and about Vargas Llosa, I don’t think he’s a fascist. But he’s a typical upper-class latin american criollo with his fantastic cultural background (I know what I’m talking about: my colombian grandmother belonged to this social class). It’s the most similar to XVIIIth century european enlightened aristocracy you can come across with in XXIst century. They are intelligent, but their social ideas are disgusting.

  144. matxil

    Hmmm, you sound like someone who expected too much. Maybe you believed that voting would really give you an orgasm as the young socialist claim?
    You sound like someone who goes on a holiday to Amsterdam and complains about the rain. (Or goes to Barcelona and complains about the Catalan language).

    Politics by definition is giving up your own sovereignity in favour of representatives. Why? Because having a million people make decisions won’t work. Your anarcho system would work in a group of maybe 50 people or so. With more, some assholes are going to ruin everything.

    Now you will say that in a democracy, we put the assholes into power, but that’s only because most people want that. These people would kill you otherwise for a piece of meat, and now, instead they vote for assholes. The advantage is that now the assholes are fighing each other instead of us. Out of that fight, some kind of lame compromise comes out which more or less allows us to go on with our lives. Which is exactly why fascism, communism and theologism failed: because people could *not* go on with their lives.

    And now I go home…

  145. Charles


    you really are determined NOT to see the truth. The facts are very plain to see. All you need to do is READ THE FRIENDLY MANUAL, in this case, the Electoral program of Ciutadans.

    As you know, three years ago the Ciutadans’ Electoral Program was copy-pasted by the Partido Socialista de Canarias (just changing the name of the autonomy) and approoved unanimously by its’ Executive Committee:-

    I can assure you that the party has drifted even futher to the left since then, as a result of the more right-wing and ‘espanyolista’ faction leaving Ciutadans to join Rosa Diéz’s UPyD party.

    You are also wrong about the colour of the PxC, which is BLUE.

    You are also wrong about C’s looking for the PP voters;-
    – There are far too right wing.
    – They are a Nationalist party.
    – They want to ban abortions and bring back crucifixes in schools.
    – There are too few of them to make it worth the trouble.
    – There is no voter more difficult to persuade than a PP voter.
    – Just appealing to PP voters would be political suicide in Catalonia.
    – And far too many other things to mention here.

    The thing that I like about C’s is the incredible enthusiasm that all their millitants have. They really believe that they can transform society for the better. You may not like their ideology (which you STILL haven’t read) but you have to admire their IDEALISM.

    A propós the different topics that have been raised in this forum, an interesting poll can be found here:-

    And a radio interview that I gave last week can be found here:-

  146. matxil

    @Charles: I like the list of reasons for not wanting to attact PP voters. Moreover, the way you present it now, it sounds convincing. Indeed it would be political suicide to come to close to the PP.

    As you have read, Felipe doesn´t believe in democracy, and I am sure if you would be of the ERC he would have said something likewise provocating. I think a lot of what he says makes sense, or at least puts things in a different light, but I wouldn´t take all he says “a pie de letra”.

    One question: What is the objection of C´s against the plans of CiU to go for this “concert fiscal”? You still don´t agree that the current distribution of tax money is not correct? A C´s who would agree with that, without going to the extreme of nationalism (which it does not need to be, persé) would make them a lot stronger.

    I think Catalunya (and Spain but that´s even more difficult) needs a new party, center-left and progressive (there is none now) and C´s is the closest to that. Still, I find them too hesitant in subjects like homosexual matrimony, seperation church/state, Catalan fiscal rights. They remind me a bit of the Dutch center-left democrats “D66” ( but I think C´s need more time to evolve into a more outspoken liberal viewpoint and be a bit more critical against Madrid (again, without going to the extreme…). It is exactly that middlefield that lies open and bare.

    Personally, I believe more in green-left politics, but it´s clear to me that ICV has not made the progress that green-left parties in northern countries have made (going more into Social Liberalism) ( Again: a clear field of necessary opportunities.

    As far as your link about schooling goes, it shows a 40%/40% division, and it´s just that division which makes politics here so slow and often besides the point. It divdes people instead of uniting it. The obvious solution would be to provide both: schools with mainly catalan and some spanish, and schools with catalan/spanish/english as C´s propose. But that costs money. Although the C´s proposal sounds good to me, do you think it´s a priority? (The English, yes, it is a priority, but the Spanish?) I think Felipe made a good point in saying that schooling in general is a disaster, and that actually Spanish levels here in Catalunya are better than in the rest of Spain.

    It are these things (just as the part about shop´s languages) which make people distrust C´s. Believe me, I know Catalan people, Catalanohablantes, who in principle would like a party like C´s but find its insistence on these subjects a reason to mistrust them.

    Most people are fed up with PP (obviously) and PSOE, and a large group for ideological reasons don´t want to vote CiU either. That´s a big potential group, and it would do the C´s well to focus more on their issues.

    As a final point, which I missed in the debate: C´s would do well to “shake hands” sometimes with other parties when appropiate. Sometimes, they could agree with ICV, sometimes with PSC, sometimes even with CiU (economically). It would make you more credible (and is not the same as compromising your ideals, on the contrary).

    To get out of this crisis, parties will have to work together, representing all people in Catalunya, as C´s proclaims it wants to do.

  147. Charles


    check the poll again and you’ll see that the split is not 40-40 but 35%-35%-15%.. LESS THAN 15% of Catalans want the current linguistic immesrsion for their children; NEARLY 85% of all catalans want their children to have some or most of their subjects taught in SPANISH.

    When I have time we can go into the debate on the fiscal concert; but CiU didn’t want it when the Constitution was drawn up and hasn’t wanted it at all until about a month ago.

    Have you seen that hotels are now obliged BY LAW to have bread and tomato?

    If Felip doesn’t beleive me he might believe Alicia Sánchez Camacho:-

  148. matxil

    I was rounding upwards, you downwards.

    1) Of course, most people want to have at least some of their classes in spanish. That is not the same as asking for 40%, 40% and 20% (which only 39.7% wants, which I would say is 40%). When Catalan would only be taught in 40% of the classes, people from outside Catalonia living here, would never learn it well. Whereas people from anywhere in Catalonia would always learn Spanish, inevitably. If you want to make a honest case, you also have to admit this part. If not, it doesn’t convince me. I am in favour of more classes in Spanish, but sticking to this 40/40/20 deal is not convincing.

    2) Also, (as I read yesterday in La Vanguardia), of course most people want the fiscal concert. Again, if you want to put something against CiU and ERC, you have to at least address the fact that something is not going right with the fiscal balance. It is clear for everyone that the lving standards in Catalonia are below that in other, supposedly poorer, parts of Spain. If the “fiscal concert” is not the right way, than present an alternative.

    3) Also, of course, it is ridiculous to make pan con tomate obligatory. But, in fact, the article says that hotels should have at least some local food on their menu. Indeed, I find that ridiculous too, but it is quite different. It is like obliging that all hotels in England should, in honour of English traditions, at least have some English food or a decent cup of tea and not only shish kebab, coca-cola and hamburgers. Ridiculous maybe, paternalistic for sure, but not as outworldly as you make it sound.

    I am not anti-Ciutadans, not at all, but yesterday I saw the second half of the “6 debate” on tv3, and really, Rivera was not clear enough. Maybe he is too young or too enthusiastic, but he interrrupted other people in an inappriopriate way, never said anything against the PP (except for blaming them to make deals with CiU as if that was the worst) and his switching to Spanish all of a sudden was unnecessary, ridiculous and demagogic. (Herrera quite rightly attacked that PP woman when she followed suit). Maybe your party just needs to grow a bit more in his centre-left, multicultural role and define itself clearer. I did read the C’s programma, and it does not do that enough for my taste.

  149. Charles


    1) It’s not the rounding up or down that I was trying to draw your attention to. It was the fact that only 14.9% want education as it is now, only in catalan (with the obvious exception of the two classes OF spanish each week). Against that only 1.2% want their kid’s education only in spanish. OVER EIGHTY-FIVE PERCENT of catalans want a BILINGUAL EDUCATION.

    2) I repeat, NOBODY in Catalonia wanted a fiscal concert until about a month ago. It’s a pure electoral ploy. CiU have never wanted it until now.

    3) This stupid law is all the more stupid for IMPOSING BY LAW something that hotels already do anm are going to carry on doing. It’s a PERFECT example of just how STUPID nationalist politicians can get with their INSANE IMPOSITIONS.

    4) Did you also note how Montilla continually interrupted Rivera when Rivera was saying that he wants the SAME EDUCATIONAL MODEL for the public schools as Montilla had chosen for his children? Watch it again and you’ll see. Ciutadans may not be quite as left as ICV but it is AT LEAST as left as the PSC.

  150. matxil

    1) Sounds good to me, but that’s quite different from insisting on 40%/40%/20%

    2) True. But people have been talking of an injust fiscal balance for years. At least something should be done. Before, the hopes were on the Estatut. Now it seems that that is going nowhere. So other ways should be found.

    3) Yes it is. Like the rotulos. But don’t make it bigger than it is. The Ciutadans present it as the main problem in Catalonia. It isn’t. Moreover, the rule is only for hotels “para obtener una categoría mayor a la de cuatro estrellas”. Like having two types of pillows (??) and an obligatory hair-dryer. Really, with 20% unemployment, you think it worthwile to discuss this thing?

    4) He should have made that point without mentioning Montilla’s children. Where Montilla sends his children is not the point. Public schools should provide this just as much as private schools. It is not necessary to get personal.
    All candidates were interrupting each other, (except Mas), but Rivera clearly didn’t do it right. Maybe that’s inexperience, fair enough, but then he will have to learn it.

  151. Felip

    @ everybody

    I agree with Charles when he says CiU didn’t want “concierto” for Catalonia when they had the chance (if such opportunity ever existed). And I would add that CiU don’t really believe it’s possible to have “concierto” now, because it would mean making important changes to Spanish Constitution. It’s just a righteous claim doomed to be refused by spanish central organs. So they know that, when refused, they will have their chance to complain about spanish centralism. Of course they will be right, but it won’t help at all.

    Well, Charles, if PXC’s color is blue you don’t have any chance to ally with them. This is a REAL ARGUMENT. But I has been in their website and almost everything there is orange; the only blue things in are Anglada’s Facebook link and the X in PXC.
    I insist in not defining C’s as a right-wing party. I don’t believe in “right” and “left” being enything but make-up for a total lack of ideas.
    You’re almost right when you say that I have not read C’s program. I have read only a little part of it… but I explained before my opinion about parties’ programs. The opinion of C’s I was displaying in this debate is based on what it transmits to most citizens. If this is not the truth, you have a communication problem.
    And what you transmit to most citizens is:
    – you are obsessed with the national problem,
    – you are for spanish nationalism and against catalan nationalism,
    – you are demagogic.
    If you really are full of enthusiasm and of bright ideas you must transmit it to the voters: leave aside all that education and labelling language lilliputian fight and go ahead with important and exciting proposals.
    I don’t see them at all. I know you’re against road fences and 80 km/h speed limitation… I know that your position in front of recession is a set of commonplaces (more financial control, more credits for business, renegotiation of mortgages, social housing…) with few interesting points and a lot of “bla bla bla” (I textually quote: “Reforzar los mecanismos de protección social y las políticas activas de empleo”).
    Not a single word of the guilty connection of banks and real estate companies. Not a single word of forced financial rescue with long term disastrous consequences (Iceland, Greece, Ireland…) or how to avoid it.
    Not a single word of reducing Public Administration expenses in every field EXCEPT social help. Not a single word of Seguridad Social having a 13.000 milion euro benefits in 2009 and more than 10.000 in 2010 or what to do with this money… NOTHING!
    If you’re an intelligent and sensible man you can easily imagine that I’m not excited at all with your proposals. They sound to me like the usual and predictable empty politic litany.

    Of course PXC demagogy is much more coarse and stupid than yours, but this doesn’t make good you own demagogy.

  152. Felip

    @ Matxil

    I don’t agree at all with your opinions about democracy:
    Does it really allow us to go on with our lives? I don’t think so. Perhaps a little bit more than North Korean dictature, but far less than I want for myself and people around me.
    The difference of complaining of democracy and complaining of rain in Amsterdam is that no one try to convince me that rain in Amsterdam is the result of my free will. It’s exactly the same reason why I complain more of police violence than terrorism: at least terrorists don’t get their wages from my taxes and don’t pretend they are killing people for my sake.

    It would be long to explain what we can do about human societies. You know that my opinion is that we might reduce them to tribal size and leave towns. But there must be other ways.
    Perhaps abolishing the State and unlinking its different functions to let them be managed by public organs with free access and whith different sizes adapted to their function and not to territorial or national prejudices?

    It would be interesting to face this problem. But I think it’s quite out of this debate subject.

  153. matxil

    I think we left the original debate subject ages ago, but anyway.

    Democracy is not directly like rain, it is more like umbrellas. An umbrella is one option against the rain, just as democracy is one option against human bad nature (please don’t tell me that humans are basically good, because I don’t believe it). Other options have been tried (fascism, communism, theocracies) which did not work. But you are free to walk in the rain without an umbrella just as you are free to start living on the beach and forget about society. You will get very wet, though.

    The same with the police. You don’t pay to the police to protect you (well, also, maybe, a little bit), but you pay them so that they more or less behave according to some law. Terrorists are much more expensive (on the short term), so you never know what they are going to do. To tame the bullies and the aggressive, you have to give them democracy and money to keep them busy. It is win/win basically.

  154. Felip

    I don’t think it’s a good comparison… rain, umbrellas… bullies are people, so they are also “protected by the umbrella”.

    Is democracy a shield against bullies and aggressive and exploiters. A strange shield that has been built by bullies and aggresive and exploiters themselves!
    I won’t tell you humans are basically good if you admit that they are not basically bad. Humans are basically selfish, and they use to be alittle scared too. If they are clever enough they know that being in good terms with their neighbours is a very clever and useful policy.
    Being so, you can reduce aggressive and bullies to a minority of total idiots doomed to self-destruction unless you cover them with a coat of abstract nonsense as “rights”, “power”, “obedience”, “priority”, “faithfulness”, “progress” and so on. When protected by those abstract ideas, they find the way to bully other people “on behalf of” or “for the sake of” something and to count on their victims’ passive complicity.
    Our modern democracies are the result of layers and more layers of this kind of self-justifying concepts. Its main goal is not protecting average people against bullies but, on the contrary, justifying bullies provided they belong to the elite and putting out of the way those who don’t belong to it.

  155. matxil

    On my way back home yesterday, I realised that my rain example was actually meant in another way. What I meant was: wheneever and wherever you are, there you are, and you have to deal with that situation. In Amsterdam, it rains. In Catalunya, they eat burnt bread with mashed tomatoes on top. In Tibet, there are no Rolling Stones concerts. Deal with it.
    Maybe you would have preferred to live in the year 10,000 before christ, in a community without books and internet, and maybe a bushman would prefer to have an internetcafe in Barcelona. But you don’t and he doesn’t.
    Ciutadans are right that Catalanism is stupid, but then again, it’s what exists, and complaining about it all the time is not gonna change it. Your ideas about anarchism are not going to approve anything either.
    Despite everything, I know of some politicians who are not bullies and are competent, intelligent and even sometimes manage to get something right. Unfortunately, they don’t live in Spain. But, hey, maybe one day that will change.

    I agree with your analysis about abstract nonsense by the way (you forgot “nationalism”, “tradition”, and “cultural identity”), but I am sure it has always been there. Maybe not in tribes with only 50 persons, but how do you stop people from forming bigger groups? How do you stop them from forming a culture based on agriculture? We have got here, because of what we are. Maybe there have been other alternative options, but we have lost them on our way.

  156. Felip

    Things are so. Now. But they changed before and they will change in the future. Nobody can prevent them from changing. The only thing we can do is trying to guide the change. But we can’t if we don’t meditate about it.

    It’s very difficult to understand where changes are leading us in the short term, but we have some clear clues for long term future. Counting on them we can already start to take decisions to face the most obvious future challenges.
    For instance: we will run short of oil in few decades. Much before spending it completely it will become too expensive to be useful for energy generation. Nuclear energy is not a real alternative, despite all those pro-nuclear liars (not only Ciutadans). According to the NEA (Nuclear Energy Agency) we are ALREADY running short of uranium and its price is GROWING FASTER than oil price… and on top of it, uranium-producing countries are much less than oil-producing countries, which means that its price is more subjected to speculation.

    In the long term we humans probably will have to reduce our number and live on really useful activities as agriculture. I think the era of spending more on cell phones, PlayStation, Hollywood productions, faster computers, travels to exotic overseas but desperately vulgar resorts, fashion, homeopathy and “Bach flowers”, cars, etc. than in food will be over some day. And I think it will be sooner than later.

  157. Felip

    Do you think that want of leaders is really in our genes? Perhaps: we are a social species. But I’m quite sure that hatred of leaders is also inside our genetic inheritance.

    I sincerely think that in tribal societies leadership is much less glamourous than in complex “civilized” societies. Unlike us, tribal people live very close to their leaders and they perfectly know they are as human as themselves and completely unable to perform miracles. They perfectly know that they are easily removable and even edible! Unlike Tarzan films, real tribal societies have practical leaders with no coat of superstitions to hide their failures. Being a tribal leader doesn’t mean having a higher living standard than the rest; only some symbolic privileges that can be good as having many wives, indifferent as having the right to perform some rituals, or bad as being bound to be in the first line against the enemies, to kill their own cattle or to fast for the good of the community… ancient maya noblemen were alone to have the privilege to suffer awful self-sacrifices as piercing their tongue and running thorny branches through it or having their heart teared in public ceremonies.

    I think that tribal people with some Voltaire, Nietzsche and Darwin in their cultural background would easily live without any leader, useless wars or stupid rituals.

    We don’t need a new energy endless supply or new fields of exploitation. What we dramatically need is to understand that the best outcome of our civilization is not wealth, social organization or technology but knowledge. We need to be able to keep as much as possible of the knowledge we have acquired during the last 6000 years and go back to more manageable, steady and viable social units. And what kind of social organization has lasted unalterable for more than 4 million years? Tribal. So, tribal societies must be the model for future humans.

    You asked: how to prevent people to unite in bigger groups? This is an apparently sensible question in our present situation, but it would have been pure nonsense only 10.000 years ago. 1.700 years ago, when Roman Empire was slowly dying, the sensible question would have been “how to prevent people to split in smaller groups?”. Uniting and spliting are two forces present all along human evolution. Our last 8.000 years mainstream has been uniting force. Now, we are obviously very close to the higher pitch ever of human unity. We can’t go any further in this direction. So, spliting is likely to be the main force for the next 8.000 years.

    The only chance that mankind has to go on running its current insane race to nowhere is having commercial nuclear fusion in few decades. If we fail in making it, spliting force will become overwhelming, I think.

  158. matxil

    Hmmm, my experience is that even groups with less than 10 persons tend to have tensions, annoyances, frictions. And the best way to regulate these frictions is by means of a leader. Just because, as you say, you want people to have read books, there will be a greater variety of wishes and also more different opinions about who should be leader. Which will lead again to some kind of democracy. Of course, on a small scale, this might work a lot better. Corruption and lies will be less, for one thing. Until some machiavellic leader comes up who uses one part of the group against the other. I am sure this happened in tribes as well. And don´t forget the role religion used to play to keep people under control. Your scheme would only work as long as people are afraid and ignorant.

  159. Felip

    According to recent spanish Deputy Ombudsman’s statements there are more than 500 compelling laws that require the use of spanish in business.
    She didn’t criticize the fact, she used this argument to say that catalan law is uncceptable because the language to be imposed in Spain is spanish, not catalan. A very tolerant and non-nationalist mentality, as you can easily see.
    This is another typical spanish issue: making more and more useless laws about almost nothing. Of course, the Generalitat de Catalunya, as a part of spanish Administration, is also making much more laws than needed. They are fond of it.
    The problem is that making new laws has an economical cost. But nobody seems worried for it.

  160. Felip

    About leaders:

    I think in tribes conflicts are not solved mainly by leaders but by tradition. Tradition says something about conflictive situations and leaders have no other choice than follow it.
    I don’t think you can transpose current mentalities to a tribal society. Our modern mentality is the mentality of “eternal minors” used to be always ruled by someone and expecting responsable authorities to solve their problems. Tribal people are in direct contact with nature and survival situations and are used to take their own responsability and their own decisions from childhood.
    Of course, 10 modern citizens are totally unable to maintain a sensible discussion or to get to practical results with it.

  161. matxil

    Anyway, it´s largely academic. We won´t live in that kind of society and I doubt very much that after the (inevitable) disasters (environmental, social and economic), we will end up in small tribes that live close to nature.
    I rather think we will end up like the favelas in Brasil or the type of societies you see in bleak science fiction movies like Blade Runner.

  162. Felip

    Living in close contact with nature is what every species is doing without any special effort. Is the way every living being tends to when not doing any special effort to live differently.
    Living apart from the nature is an enormous cost of energy we won’t be able to afford much longer. You know physics. Thus, you know that everything tends toward the minimum energy state. We (westerners) have been going in the opposite direction for few thousand years, stealing energy from other people and burning out every available fuel. That’s all.
    Blade Runner and even Third World slums will become an unsustainable luxury some day.

  163. Felip

    Sometimes future fictions are completely wrong.
    One good example of it is the world-wide admitted threat on Amazon rainforest. We are destroying it at a frantic pace, and we can easily calculate how many years it will last if we go on with current deforestation.
    But do you ever have seen tha machinery they are using for it? When you see it you immediately understand that deforestation won’t go on any longer: current pace of deforestation is only possible with cheap oil. Without it you simply can’t maintain it.
    And then you have to ask why the Amazon is being deforested. The answer is: to raise cattle and then sell the meat to western rich countries. As western countries are loosing their wealth, cattle raising is giving fewer benefits, and as fuel is growing more expensive its transportation is “eating up” those shrinking benefits.
    Thus we can conclude that, unlike what most people think, Amazon rainforest total disappearance probably will never happen.

  164. Humanist?

    Hello again everybody!

    So, my prediction was right:

    Felip did indeed have the last word (with a characteristic double-post), and with it even managed to stray 100% off the original subject.

    Well done Felip! You have shown that you have perfected the art of being a Catalan Nationalist, ie. argue about everything and anything until people are so tired of speaking to you they walk away. Genius!

  165. Felip

    Shit! I already gave up the conversation with Matxil about mankind future but now I’m forced to post something to allow Humanist to win his own bet!

    By the way I have news related with the debate.
    According to the last PISA report catalan school levels are not so bad.

    Reading level:
    Catalonia 498
    Spain 481
    OECD 494

    Mathematics level:
    Catalonia 496
    Spain 483
    OECD 488

    Science level:
    Catalonia 497
    Spain 488
    OECD 496

    Well, I know how the level really is, and in my opinion it’s amazingly low. But I can easily believe that spanish levels are even worst. The bad new is that OECD countries level is a catastrophe.
    Two conclusions are possible:
    1) education is a shit all around the world.
    2) PISA reports are bullshit.
    Probably both are true.

    now you can safely move to another spanish region: the ignorance will be guaranteed for your children not only for catalan language but for any other field of knowledge. Congratulations!

  166. matxil

    What is OECD?

    Humanist will win the bet, but let’s not make it easy for him (or for you). Actually, by sending in that last comment, he almost foolishly lost his own bet, but that’s to be expected from someone who starts living in a different country and then gets very upset that people speak a different language.

    Let’s throw some additional wood on the fire (hey, that’s an “espanyolism”). During the “bridge” (puente) I was in Madrid. What a wonderful city! Wonderful bars, live music everywhere, great food. On the other hand: no, the public transport was just as decadent and shabby as here; actually, even worse. The house-fronts in the ex-junkie neighbourhood “Malaseña” looked a lot better than 15 years ago, but so does Raval in Barcelona. So, no, I could not see that Madrid was in any way priviliged above Barcelona. (I admit that Eva doesn’t agree with me though)

    I also said “Adeu” and “Bon día” a couple of times, out of habit (I didn’t even know I had that habit) and nobody lynched me.

    One Madrilenyan told me that he went to Barcelona, helped an old lady to cross the street, but upon hearing he was from Madrid she started insulted him. Oh, and some young kid insisted on answering him in Catalan whereupon the Madrid-guy responded – on his turn – in English (he has lived for a long time in the U.S.). All these are just meaningless anecdotes, but since, during this kind of discussions, everyone brings in some anecdotes (although they are statistically rubbish), here are mine.

    So, what’s OECD?

  167. Anonymous

    The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD, in French: Organisation de coopération et de développement économiques, OCDE) is an international economic organisation of 34 countries founded in 1961 to stimulate economic progress and world trade. It defines itself as a forum of countries committed to democracy and the market economy, providing a platform to compare policy experiences, seeking answers to common problems, identifying good practices, and co-ordinating domestic and international policies of its members.


  168. matxil

    Yes, I think so.

    We all have nationalist sentiments, but personally, I prefer not to take them too seriously. I am surprised when other people do take these sentiments too seriously. In an ideal world, it should not influence our society, but we do not live in an ideal world and all over the world societies are ruled on the base of nationalist sentiments (and religions, which is even worse, or at least equally awful). This goes for the U.S. (as we can all see on a daily base), the UK, Spain, the Netherlands. etc…

    I think Catalan nationalism is based on a similar sentiment but the circumstances are different. First because it does not have its own independent country (albeit symbolically because in fact no country is independent, and with the current crisis even less so) and second because it feels it is obliged to succumb to a different (Spanish) nationalism. One can understand that in those circumstances, people tend to feel stronger about their own nationalist sentiments. That all those sentiments are basically nothing to proud of, I repeat. But it is also quite obvious that if one is attacked by someone else’s sentiments, one defends oneself with one’s own. If you add to that, that the Spanish nation on many levels functions very badly, one can understand that people prefer to have a nation of their own. Actually, even without nationalist sentiments, one might believe that an independent Catalonia would be a good idea.

    Personally, I don’t think that will work. I think Catalonia won’t function on its own either, and the politicians from here don’t give me the impression they are much better than the Spanish. Add to that the lack of industry, oil or other products apart from postal cards of the Sagrada Familia. Catalonia would end up like Portugal, I think.

    Still, I don’t see why my opinion would be superior to someone who thinks a Catalan independent nation would be a good idea. I am surprised that some people believe in their nationalist sentiments (which, I repeat, is not necessarily the same as wanting an independent Catalonia) but not more so than when I am surprised that people still believe in God, or freedom, or universal justice or any other abstract notion without any meaning. I enjoy the discussion, but I accept that people think differently than me.

    It is true that a few (very few) people here in Catalonia, can sometimes react in a rather unpleasant way based on their nationalist sentiments, but not more so than some Spanish people do, and certainly less than most Americans. As a matter of fact, my own country is not doing very nicely either in that respect lately.

    Most people in Catalonia do not want a complete independence anyway, so there is no problem here, really. A different thing is language. It is a fact that the Catalan language is under continuous attacks, both from Spanish people as from guirris. I respect that people want to continue speaking their own mother tongue and as such I respect that people speak Catalan, and defend that language. I also think it is quite normal that schools are in Catalan (just as in Holland they would be in Dutch, and in Wales they would be in Welsh). It would be better though, if more time would be spent, also, on Spanish and (especially) English. Personally, I prefer to speak Spanish but I would never dream of forcing someone else to speak Spanish. I think it’s normal if people here speak Catalan, and it’s up to me whether I want to understand it or not. I think the minimum I can do is try to understand it while I live here. But, of course, that’s everyone’s own decision. If you decide not to want to understand Catalan, that’s up to you, but don’t complain then when you don’t understand what people are talking about. If you don’t like swimming, don’t jump in the swimming pool.

    I find some Catalan-promoting measures (obliging shops to advertise their wares in Catalan or not inviting Spanish-writing Catalan writers (Mendoza, Marsè) to a Catalan literature fira) nasty and unpleasant. I am against these measures, but I don’t think they are as evil as some people want to portray it. All in all, I think it’s a subject that is very much exagerated by politicians (of all sides) but in real life, in general it is not such a big problem. I have friends from all over the world, including Catalans, and language is never an issue amongst us. It is a mixture of Spanish and Catalan and sometimes English, and actually, i think that is quite beautiful. It is a problem – occassionally – when dealing with other people, but so is racism, sexism and a lot of other nasty things that exist worldwide. Some people are not nice, whether they are nationalist or not.

    All in all, it really is not such a big deal. And if it is to you, then you should attack all forms of nationalism, and not just this one. The current farce with politicians trying to stop Wikileaks is yet again another example of a form of nationalism which is way and way and way more dangerous than some sardana dancers from Vic could ever be.

  169. Humanist?


    Thanks for your response. I assumed early on that you have not lived here as long as me, and certainly not as long as Charles or Felip. Unfortunately you will find that the longer you live here, the more this becomes an issue. Even more so due to recent Catalan governments. Perhaps when you have lived here as long as me, or if you have children here, your opinions will change.

    I would like to ask you just one more question though, if I may:

    Why do you prefer to speak Spanish?

    Thanks again for the debate.

  170. matxil

    I have lived here for 10 years. Maybe, when I would have children, my opinion would change. I don’t know. My girlfriend is Catalan, so it would be quite obvious that they would speak Catalan a lot. As long as they would get a good education in other subjects, I would be happy. To be honest, I am not sure in which language I would speak to them. Dutch? Most people would, but to me it would seem strange. English? Wouldn’t make much sense. Spanish probably, but my Spanish is not perfect…
    By the way, I have friends with a child, the father is Basque, the mother Catalan, and they live in Barcelona. I’ll see what their experiences will be.

    I prefer to speak Spanish, because I speak it already. It is also more useful for me (because more people speak it). And, lastly, I like the sound better. The last is of course 100% subjective. And with my Dutch accent anyway, it doesn’t sound that nice. Actually, I have often been told that the Dutch accent sounds a lot better when we speak Catalan than when we speak Spanish (or English, for that matter).

  171. matxil

    As an afterthought: in whatever country I would live, including my own, there would be things I definately would not like, including nationalist sentiments. Catalonia is not different in that respect, but it certainly is not worse either.
    At least it rains a lot less, it’s closer to Andalusia and most people I find rather friendly (except for the waiters and people in metros).

  172. matxil

    I am sure Felipe would agree as well that Spanish is more useless for me (although I am equally sure he could come up with an argument on the contrary), but it’s a bit besides the point, don’t you think?

    English is way more useless than Dutch, but still, those silly Dutch people speak Dutch everywhere: at schools, in parlement, at the state-hall…

    What would you do when you would live in Amsterdam? You might go on and only speak English (you could without problem), but would you object that your children learned Dutch? Would you object to Dutch politicians speaking Dutch? And I think to win a literature price in the Netherlands, you should write in Dutch too (I think, I am not 100% sure about that).

  173. Humanist?


    In response to your question: I would learn Dutch if I lived in Amsterdam.

    I have learned Spanish to an advanced level, as has my girlfriend (who is not Spanish).

    As I made clear in my first posts, my main objection is to the fact that I would have to pay a lot of money to have my children educated in Spanish, despite living in Spain. I think you agreed with me that it is unfair.

    More recently, I have seen a rise in a call for independence which is something that not just foreigners object to, but many people who have been here all their lives.

    As for the current government, I calculated that only around 15% of residents voted for them. That is not even counting the hundreds of thousands of immigrants living here. And they have the cheek to claim they represent the majority.

    There are many people here who would like to live in a mythical traditional Catalunya, where pan con tomate is eaten every day, everybody speaks Catalan and no foreigners would ever interfere with their utopia. These people have been given the biggest platform to express themselves and the rest of us are tired of hearing about it.

    I have no desire to tear up my life here, say goodbye to my friends and start from scratch somewhere else, but I feel that now is a good time to leave as the current nationalist trend shows no signs of slowing down. In fact it is rising sharply, mainly due to stubborn nationalist politicians and decades of their nationalistic policies.

  174. matxil

    If you want your children only to learn Spanish, Catalonia is the wrong place to live.
    If you want your children to learn Spanish and have no objection to them learning Catalan, Catalonia is not a bad place to live (especially when you live in or close to Barcelona). They will learn both.

    In Holland, your children would learn Dutch.
    Now, you will say that the Netherlands is a country and Catalonia is not, but that is – as Felipe has pointed out – an equally nationalist statement. Which is fine, actually, but – again – then Catalonia is not the place to be.

    Neither would be “Friesland” in the Netherlands ( where your children – at primary school – would learn 40% Frisian, 40% Dutch, and 20% English.

    These are actually the percentages that C’s want in Catalonia as well, and I agree with them on that. Right now, the percentages are not like that, and I think that is wrong. Still, if you cannot accept your children learning any form of Catalan and want them to only learn Spanish, you should not live here, as you should not live in Friesland if you want them to only learn Dutch and not Frisian.

    If your objection is just that the percentages are off, I agree with you, but still, the question is whether your children will learn enough Spanish anyway. I don’t know directly whether that is true, because I don’t have children, but my experience with other children (with Catalan parents) is indeed that they don’t have problems with Spanish and do learn it well. Numbers seem to indicate that they learn it even better than they would in the rest of Spain. (Actually, the same seems to be true in Holland: children who learn Fries and Dutch and English, perform better in all these 3 languages).

  175. Humanist?


    The point is not that I am against children learning Catalan. I have no problem with children learning Catalan.

    What I don’t like is all subjects at school being taught in Catalan. Therefore all books are in Catalan, all homework is in Catalan etc.

    I have no problem with people choosing this for their children if that is what they prefer, but I feel it is unfair to force this on those people, living in this part of Spain, who prefer to speak Spanish but who cannot afford to send their children to a private school.

  176. Felip

    An interesting debate.

    I agree 100% with Matxil opinions. Even on nationalism. I think “not taking it too seriously” is the right way to face it.
    Actually, I’m sick of all those Vargas Llosa-like people complaining of nationalism and not noticing thier own deep national prejudices… or saying that nationalism is the worst evil ever.
    In my opinion, nationalism is just the logical result of some very natural human instincts. Condemning it is as useless as condemning our libido or fear. If you don’t want nationalism or libido or fear to become a nuisance for others or for yourself, it is important to learn how do they work. Just condemning them in others and denying or ignoring them in yourself is not the wisest way to manage them properly.
    The only kind of nationalism I hate is State nationalism. Because it doesn’t come from natural State instincts (of course: States don’t have instincts). They are simply using nationalism to subject and manipulate people.
    I hate the way modern States with no tradition or cultural unity as Guatemala or Senegal are creating a Guatimalan or Senegalese “national feeling” among their citizens (especially among rootless slum dwellers) and ignoring the fact that Guatemala and Senegal includes hundreds of millenial nations.
    If some day Catalonia happens to become a State I will fight against Catalan State nationalism exactly as I do now against spanish nationalism.

    @ Humanist
    About education:
    I can understand people wanting their children to be taught in other languages than those provided by public education. Many muslims in Catalonia send their children to the mosque to have a good religious education in classical arab. Why not? And it’s undoubtedly more expensive than not doing it.
    If I had children, I would spend a lot (of time rather than money) to teach them important matters that are never or only slightly taught in public or private schools as soroban (japanese abacus) handling, chinese calligraphy, maya calendar, taxonomy, astronomy, mineralogy, palaeography, Greek and Hindu mythology, cartography, detailed human anatomy…
    But I never would think that schools (or laws defining schools curriculum) are UNFAIR for not teaching those matters.
    As Matxil said, if you don’t want your children to be taught in catalan, Catalonia is not the right place for them to attend to public schools.
    You have the right to claim for public schools in spanish. In my opinion you would have also the right to claim for public education in english, chinese, urdu, romanó or arab. I don’t consider the fact of this piece of land being ruled by a State named Spain to be essential to define spanish as a schooling language. The fact that of the number of spanish monolingual speakers being significant could be a good criterion, but obviously not the only one.
    In Spain, teaching your children at home is legal. You can do it yourself or with the help of other people. As you are english teacher you could arrange teaching exchanges: you could teach english for free to the sons of a mathematician if he teaches for free mathematics to your children… and so on.

  177. Felip

    Unfortunately, thanks to the Spanish Supreme Court’s decisions, education at home will be illegal in Spain and the right of spanish speakers to have spanish given education will be compulsory for public catalan schools. Strangely enough when, for instance, the right of valencian speakers to have valencian given public education is never respected and no spanish court is doing anything to ensure it.
    We have lost a big portion of education freedom for our children (education at home) and won a little one (public education given in spanish). Total result: less freedom, as usual.
    On the other hand we will soon see the results of the later decision.
    The first consequence will be that Catalan public education will have to devote more efforts to give two parallel education systems in every school. This will mean, without any doubt, an immediate lowering of education level. Then, spanish nationallists will put the blame on catalan given education being an unnecessary luxury and will claim for its total removal.
    The second probable result will be a progressive social separation between spanish and overseas immigrates monolinguals in one side and catalan bilinguals in the other side. I don’t think it will be good for our society, but it’s apparently the goal of spanish ultra-nationalists. It will also increase catalan ultra-nationalism, of course.
    The “linguistic immersion” system has worked in catalan education for more than 20 years and its results have been good for everybody except spanish ultra-nationalists: it has increased social integration and, consequently, has helped to prevent social segregation and violence. Now, “linguistic immersion” is banned by spanish politics and laws. I don’t know why they are so eager of breaking Catalonia’s social peace, but of course in the long term it will be the worst even for them. Intelligence is not their best quality.

  178. Charles Ablett i Rocamora

    Felip, you still don’t seem to understand either the tenor of the sentence of the Constitutional Tribunal or the recent Supreme Court rulings; nor, apparently, have you noticed that none of the political parties with representation in the Catalan parliament are asking for a parallel education system.

    The Socialist Party in Catalonia has been talking about implementing a trilingual education system for years (while at the same time all but eliminating spanish from the curriculum). Ciutadans has from the very start been calling for spanish and english to be used as languages for teaching subjects in and not just as a subject in itself. The Partido Popular’s manifesto called for seperate systems but this was dropped during the campaign by Alicia Camacho, who copied the Ciutadan’s proposal in order not to lose votes.

    Both the past and present Presidents of Catalonia are fervent defenders of the benefits of Multi-lingual education, and in both cases send their chilodren to expensive private schools that practice it (although one of José Montilla’s children, who finds the german language too dificult, goes to a school that ONLY teaches in spanish.

    So it would appear that schools that give a multi-lingual education are much better thatn those that only teach in one language, which is possibly why Artur Mas DESIRES this system for HIS children at the same time that he wishes to BAN it for the children of OTHERS.

    A recent opinion poll found that only14% of catalan parents agree with the current balance between catalan and spanish as vehicular languages. 73% wanted spanish to be used as a teaching language AS WELL as catalan, broken down into those who wanted more catalan than spanish, equal distribution or more spanis than catalan. A further 4% wanted their children taught in spanish only.

    So, there we have it:-

    The currently IMPOSED catalan inmersion is disliked by past and previous Presidents of Catalonia (for their children at least), by nearly 77% of parents, has been declared to be unconstitutional and has now been declared illegal.

    In last week’s Economist newspaper there was an in-depth analisys of the Pisa report; they found that the best-performing schools had flexible teaching systems whilst the most inflexible systems (like Catalonia’s) score particularly badly. Worth thinking about.

  179. Felip

    I’m not a lawyer, but I think I have perfectly understood the Supreme Court ruling:
    spanish children have right to be teached ONLY in spanish if their parents choose this option.

  180. Felip

    On the other hand let me say that the real problem is NOT which language is used in public education but teachers language level. If the level is low, the fact of using many languages don’t improve the quality of education.
    I can perfectly imagine lessons given in english in spanish public schools… it would be deplorable, for sure.
    As I explained before, I know many public school teachers. One of them is a language teacher; she teach catalan, spanish and french… but as a matter of fact, sometimes she is forced to teach also english (her english level is even worst than mine). She explained one day that in her school mathematics lessons were sometimes given by a physical education teacher! In fact I’m horrified with the extremely low language level of teachers, even in catalan and spanish.
    I am thoroughly for education in as many languages as possible. But I think spanish and catalan are too similar. If it was my decision, I would arrange education in three languages of totally different root (i.e: english / chinese / arab: a practical and modern set; or latin / middle egyptian / aramaic: perfect for highly cultured people; or even romanó / wolof / maya: for alterglobalists). The more different their roots are the more training for children’s brains. The catalan / spanish is a nationalist based political solution, not a pedagogical one, and the catalan / spanish / english is only a little better but rather poor in my opinion.

  181. Charles

    I am sorry, Felip, but the Supreme court’s sentence does not say anything like that. It says rather that spanish must ALSO be used as a vehicular language in Catalonia’s education system, and that the Catalan Government is legally obliged to adapt the system in order to comply with the Constitutional Tribunal’s ruling in June. In other words, it requires the education system to change from being monolingual to bilingual.

    ” – El Tribunal Supremo falló ayer sobre tres familias que exigieron enseñanza en castellano para sus hijos. “Declaramos el derecho de la recurrente a que el castellano se utilice también como lengua vehicular en el sistema educativo de la Comunidad Autónoma de Cataluña, y en consecuencia y para ello la Generalitat deberá adoptar cuantas medidas sean necesarias para adaptar su sistema de enseñanza a la nueva situación creada por la sentencia 31/2010 del Tribunal Constitucional”.

    … and the sentence of the Constitutional Tribunal said:-

    “El catalán debe ser lengua vehicular y de aprendizaje en la enseñanza, pero no la única que goce de tal condición, predicable con igual título del castellano en tanto que lengua asimismo oficial”. Admite que el catalán sea el “centro de gravedad” del modelo.”

  182. Felip

    I didn’t read the Tribunal Constitucional sentence before. I’ts more clear than the Supreme Court.
    But according to the Supreme Court you could interpret that you have right to have education only in catalan, in catalan and spanish or only in spanish, and that public schools must be prepared to offer those three choices. Of course, when you can interpret the sentence this way you will find someone ready to claim it in a court and a judge ready to agree with him.

    An interesting fact: 73% of catalan parents want spanish to be used as a teaching language as well as catalan but only THREE couples have demanded it to a court. Ciutadans and Partido Popular can be proud: you represent SIX catalan citizens!

    I insist: using catalan and spanish as vehicular languages is intellectually and pedagogically silly. Why not using spanish and andalusian? or western and eastern catalan? Both spanish and catalan are only latin dialects as well as italian, romanian, sardinian, portuguese, occitan… when you know one of them you automatically have a medium knowledge of the rest.
    Definitely giving public education in spanish and catalan is not a PEDAGOGICAL but a POLITICAL decision and, consequently, USELESS, HYPOCRITE, OPPORTUNISTIC, STUPID and DISHONEST.
    I’ts clear: politicians are not interested at all in good education for children: they want dull and abiding citizens ready to work hard and spend all their money as fast as possible, only trained to complain but hopelessly unable to take charge of their own lives or to rebel and disobey. NO EDUCATION planned by the State can be good for children.

  183. matxil

    I don´t want to throw too much oil on the fire, but in the Frisian part of the Netherlands (here we go again), all public primary schools teach 50% in Frisian and 50% in Dutch. At least in theory.
    I have no numbers about how that works in practice and whether it works well or not.

  184. Humanist?


    You really do come across as a Grade-A arsehole.

    It does not surprise me in the least that you have been threatened with violence considering the amount of crap that comes out of your mouth.

  185. matxil

    @humanist. Ok, this is my first and last warning. If you want to talk like that, do it somewhere else. Not on this blog! Next time, I block you and delete your messages.
    I am the only one allowed to talk like this on my blog, so I give you one advice: bugger off to Scotland. Your attitude makes me worry more about the future of your children than any kind of linguistical viewpoint ever could.

  186. Humanist?

    Classic quotes from Felip no. 372:

    ‘NO EDUCATION planned by the State can be good for children.’

    Wonderful stuff, really.

  187. matxil

    I don´t see what your problem is. What´s so terribly wicked about that statement? Agree or don´t, but you seem to have some personal vendetta over here, and it is boring, rude, annoying and I won´t stand for it.
    Charles and Felipe don´t agree about almost anything, but they are capable of having an adult, mature discussion. If you aren´t able to do that, just leave. It´s a very simple rule. Keep to it.
    You haven´t contributed one single interesting opinion in your posts, so why you even bother is beyond me.

  188. Humanist?


    No personal vendetta, I assure you.

    It seems that you are a fairly pleasant and intelligent person until I ‘attack’ Felip in any way. It certainly touches a nerve anyway judging by your immature responses (‘bugger off to scotland’ possibly being my favourite, and most revealing).

    I would, however, like to point out that we have had some interesting discussions here, contrary to your latest accusation. Indeed, you have even agreed with me sometimes:

    september 13
    ‘I agree with your conclusions.’

    ‘Yes, I agree that that is not correct.’

    november 9
    ‘Hmm, good point actually.’

    december 15
    ‘Ok. I agree with that.’

    Forgive me for being so pedantic but I feel I must defend myself. I have never tried to offend you, but your insistence on trying to offend me every time I criticise Felip is very tiresome.

  189. matxil

    Calling someone an asshole is an insult in my book, and so is saying someone deserves to be threatened.
    I am not defending Felipe, because he doesn´t need it (I am sure he doesn´t care what you say) but I don´t like to read aggressive posts, personal put-downs and insults. It is boring, and I prefer to read the much more interesting posts by Charles and Felipe.
    The fact that you pretend to be blind to the fact that you use that violent tone consistently against Felipe, means that you either are incapable of accepting other points of view or you are just trying to see how far you can go. Nothing new, the internet is full of little boys who need to vent off their frustrations by shouting and screaming.
    And that´s the last you and I are going to say about this. I punt.

  190. Felip

    @ Humanist

    No education planned by any State can be good for children. Why? It’s simple: because State is not what it pretends to be. It’s not the result of cooperation between free citizens to improve their lives. On the contrary: it’s the heir of absolute monarchies with a little bit of make up just to deceive fools.
    Its education is full of prejudices, value judgements and more or less disguised ideology. When I was young I had “Formación del Espíritu Nacional” courses at school, now they have “Educación para la Ciudadanía”. They are always explaining thing in terms of “good” and “bad” instead of “intelligent” and “stupid”, “true” and “false” or “useful” and “useless”. BRAINWASHING.

  191. Felip

    My nieces are 12 and 14 years old. They attend to a public school. (Note that I don’t think private schools to be better: they are mainly following the same plan of public schools).
    I was checking their school books on History. Nothing was wrong in them except the whole thing. I mean: there were no wrong details; every single thing was OK, but the general sense of it was completely wrong.
    1) It was too superficial. Children are not stupid. You don’t need to adress them as mentally handicapped.
    2) They put out interesting matters (even really exciting matters) in a way so devoid of any interest! No wonder children like more PlayStation than trigonometry or greek mythology! It’s not like playing about it to keep the interest of children, it’s about explaining things as they are: knowledge is thrilling by itself! But you feel those school books are written by people that don’t apreciate how interesting is the matter they are explaining.
    3) They always explain things in a fake objective way which is not objective at all. Their alleged objectivity consists in yielding to the most conventional point of view. A very poor trick, indeed! And no unsolved question, no doubt, no contrast between different points of view has any place in them. It’s intellectually blank.
    I was especially shocked with prehistory an arab expansion. Both matters are really exciting. Prehistory alone can be reasonably a passion for a whole lifetime but in those books it just looked like a trifle,an anecdote… how disappointing!
    I would feel really guilty if, having children attending to the school, I failed to explain them more and better those matters and others which are never taught in school, if I failed to explain them under how many points of view you can face those matters… if I failed to help them to develop their critical awareness and their freedom of thought…

  192. matxil

    I think especially Spain is terrible in this aspect. I am not saying the Netherlands is perfect (and it´s getting worse everytime), but when I taught mathematical classes at the Pompeu Fabra, not only was I shocked by the low level, but mostly by the fact that they had never learnt to think for themselves. When I told them to write a report about their practical stuff (which involved writing a piece of software to solve a math problem), they literally asked me what they should write down. I told them: “Write down what you did, and why, what went wrong, what could be improved.” They though I was crazy: according to them it was me who should tell them those things, not them. Really sad.
    I have heard from people who studied literature it was much the same thing: people were told (dictated even) a certain explanation of a poem or a book and at the exam they just had to reproduce that. I find that absolutely shocking. And teachers? As far as I could see, they don´t really care whether student learn to think for themselves. They just want them to pass the exams.
    (Actually, it is very much like the fourth season of “The Wire” (the best television show ever:

    In the Netherlands, education used to be good, but it´s gone down hill too, mainly because it has been too much “democratized”. Teaching mathematics by means of “funny games” which are not funny at all, for instance.

    In that sense Arthur Mas was completely right, it´s not about which language is taught, it´s about improving the entire education.

  193. Felip

    I totally agree with you. This absurd stuff about “funny learning” started in Spain in the 70ies. Of course, those “funny” games were as boring as former “serious” lessons, but the level lowered dramatically.
    The problem lies on society. Our society truly believes that knowledge is a waste of time (when it’s not a mean to earn money) and deeply boring, although they say otherwise. Children have parents that ask them to have good grades at school but that deeply despise knowledge. They are teached by teachers who want them to pass exams (to avoid troubles with parents) but that don’t really believe in their ability to learn anything. And they clearly see that they will never be required to know anything in the future: friends, lovers, relatives, bosses, clients, partners, judges, rulers, priests… will never want them to be learned or wise, but rich, good-looking, industrious, skilled, funny, compliant…
    When I was 5 or 6 years old, my mother used to explain me stories about Ancient Egypt: the strange case of king Shepseskaf, the genius of Imhotep, the amazing perfection of Kheops anf Kefren governments, the lunatic king Akhenaton, the amazing courage of queen Hatchepsut… and it was’nt boring at all. Because she was delighted and excited with it and she transmitted her passion. The same happened when, at 14 I started with trigonometry at school; my father explained it to me with enthusiasm, transmitting the beauty of it, it’s balanced perfection and the range of practical possibilities it opened to me. Even being a teenager and consequently more interested in girls than mathematics, it was a fantastic experience.
    Children and teenagers are not idiots, nor insensitive. They are ready to understand and enjoy anything, even mathematics, even invertebrate taxonomy… even middle-age christian scholasticism or sanskrit grammar! They only need their social environment to believe it’s possible for them.

  194. Pingback: Revisited « DINZO!

  195. Felip

    I don’t think the analysis by Javier Cercas in this article to be appropriate.
    PSC voters don’t vote as much in autonomic elections as in spanish eleccions just because they think that they are less important. When they vote PSC in autonomic elections is just to vote against CiU. But sometimes this is not enough to drag them off the sopha…
    This is the big difference with PP that has succeed in mobilizing their voters inculcating in their brains (if they have such thing or any other kind of neuronal tissue inside their skulls) a superstitous fear of nationalism (catalan nasty nationalism, not spanish good nationalism, of course!)
    The problem of PSC in the last elections has nothing to do with nationalism, in my opinion. It’s a problem of identity. They insist in being a left party in a time when the difference between left and right has been completely erased. And behaving exactly as so called centre parties or right parties behave.
    It’s an old discourse. Elders, like me, are simply bored of it. Youngsters don’t even understand its meaning.
    I saw Montilla claiming to have his hands and his work for sole capital in front of some SEAT workers. All of them (Montilla and those workers) have for sure many tens of thousands in a bank account, a villa in Empordà, an apartment in Baqueira, two or three cars (the Mégane for Barcelona, the Range Rover for Baqueira, and the Audi), a beautiful apartment in Barcelona, luxury clothes, electronic devices, digital cameras, etc.
    Of course, nobody understands what was Montilla babbling about. Not even himself. And nobody cares.

  196. matxil

    The difference between left/right is a ridiculous problem worldwide, and certainly in Europe. As always, it is because people don’t know anything about mathematics and cannot think three-dimensional. Left-right is only one dimension, and they forget about front-back and up-down.

    Economically (trad. left – right), one can opt for “each for his own” (right) and “forcing equal wealth for everyone” (left). Obviously, both options are ridiculous, so in the end we have to choose for a compromise. This compromise can vary from “right-ish” (CiU) to “left-ish” (IU).
    Socially, one can opt for: “each for his own” (progressive) versus “obeying (moral) laws” (conservative or christian). One leads to chaos and hedonism, the other to stupidity and suppression. Another compromise, then. In fact, in Spain all partical parties are conservative, they only differ in the contents of their dogmas.
    There are other axes, of course, although they are often related. Protection of nature, is related to economy, for instance. Nationalism does not make much sense if you believe in “each to his own”. Etcetera.

    The PSC has the problem that it wants to be left wing in a time when most people want to have cars and t.v. sets (I doubt workers at SEAT have all that much as you say), and PSC also want to govern. So they are somewhere in between CiU/PP and IU. Another problem is the nationalist debate, which is completely irrelevant and meaningless, but sucks out all meaning from all political parties. It only serves for idiots like ERC, Laporta’s party and Ciutadans because they exist thanks to that subject. It also helps PP, as you correctly say. The other parties waste their time on it, instead of coming up with something useful.
    Hence, there is no economically leftwing, socially progressive, technologically conservative, internationally neutral and anti-nationalist party in Spain or Catalunya.
    In Holland there used to be one (GroenLinks i.e. GreenLeft) but since they decided to agree with the plan to send policemen to Afghanistan “to help them” in the coming years, they can fuck off too.

  197. Felip

    OK, SEAT workers don’t have all those luxuries, but they have much better wages than average spanish employees. Especially those who were supporting Montilla that particular day: they were around 50 years old and looked like being veterans and union representatives. They probably have really good incomes.
    I appreciate your statment: “Nationalism does not make much sense if you believe in “each to his own”. This is why the commonplaces by Javier Cercas, namely: “asombrosamente, en Cataluña es posible ser a la vez nacionalista y de izquierdas”, “la expresión izquierda nacionalista es un oxímoron y la expresión derecha nacionalista es un pleonasmo”, “la falacia del buen nacionalismo de izquierdas”, “por ser ambos irracionalistas, comunitaristas e insolidarios, es decir, fundamentalmente reaccionarios”, seems to me so boring and dull.

    1. matxil

      Porque hoy en día, “izquierda” ya no significa “izquierda según Marx” pero algo como “abierto, internacionalista, multicultural, individualista, hedonista, placer sobre deber, aceptar diferencias, progresionista, viajar a India, llevar ropa de segunda mano y fumar porros”.
      That this is just a bag full of undefined chaos, is true, but that’s the image of the leftwing person nowaways, and it’s an image that all leftwing parties want to put into their voters minds. So, in that way, it’s a paradox to talk about “our people, our culture, our tradition, our language”. According to modern, “guay” leftwing, it should be: “our peoples, our cultures, our traditions, our languages”.
      I don’t care either which way, I think it’s both silly, but Cercas is right about the paradox. Either you are a Catalan version of PP, “proud of our heritage” or you are a leftwing multiculturalist, and you don’t give a damn about “mestizaje”.

  198. Felip

    In my opinion it wouldn’t be good to have a “economically leftwing, socially progressive, technologically conservative, internationally neutral and anti-nationalist party”
    1) Left-wing economical ideas are obsolete: they leave everything in the Public Administration hands, when everybody knows that Public Administration is hopelessly inefficient. Of course, right wing economical ideas are even worst: they consist on leaving everything in the big companies’ hands, when everybody knows that big companies are immoral.
    2) Social progressism is OK. Well, it would be better if it consisted in helping socially weakened people to become more independent and free instead of just paying them ridiculous subsidies and consequently dooming them to everlasting dependence.
    3) Technological conservatism is OK if that means caution, global analysis, long-distance predictions…
    4) How can you be INTERNATIONALLY anything and ANTI-NATIONALIST at a time? To be a true anti-nationalist you must deny the national nature of your State. You must admit that a State is only a group of people that share and manage some useful institutions (i.e. laws, courts, police, communication networks…) with no direct relationship with a territory or a culture or any other ethnic characteristic, and that share and manage them as long as they are useful, but not longer. Under a true anti-nationalist point of view, the unitiy of a State is not a good, not even a goal… not even devisable! Under a true anti-nationalist point of view, no “international relationship” is possible… not such a thing as “internationality” is concievable.

  199. matxil

    1) Could be. In reality, that’s why modern leftwing is not really marxist leftwing anymore. Modern (read: nothern-european) leftwing parties are economically speaking more “central”, just trying to tax the richer people a bit more and not forget about people who have nothing. Funnily enough, in almost all (Western-European and North-American) countries right-wing adminstrations are always more expensive and bigger than left-wing ones. (Of course, if you go to real leftwing marxist countries, the administration is absolute hell)
    2) yes
    3) yes
    4) I don’t see the paradox. As you say, a state is just a practical convention. Other states are also conventions. Just see how the monet flows, and that’s it. For the rest, there are just cultures and languages. Accept all of them, learn a bit of most of them according to taste, feel free, dance naked around the fire and buy all Rolling Stones albums. Life is a lot more beautiful that way.

  200. alex

    Hi there!

    An interesting debate. I am a Catalan of English mother and Catalan father, a strange mix similar to that of Charles, but with a point of view on these issues which is diametrically opposed to that of Charles. I am closer to the opinions of Felip, and can agree with some things you matxil say, but in general I take things more from a sociolinguistic point of view, not so much an historical point of view.

    I don’t really know where to start. I tried reading through all the posts and my head nearly exploded. Maybe I should start by expressing a misunderstanding that I have encountered countless times when discussing these issues with people that arrive at Catalonia from other places. People in Catalonia who defend Catalan identity and language, be it accompanied or not by the desire for an independent country, often refer to themselves as “nacionalistes”. This for me is an unfortunate choice of word, especially as it bears hardly any resemblence to what an English-speaking person refers to as “nationalist”. There is a “nasty” feel to the English word “nationalist” and it is used usually to refer to extreme right-wing ideologies. To put it in other words, I cannot imagine myself refering to a good-natured person as a “nationalist” whereas I have no problem imagining using the Catalan word “nacionalista” to refer to someone who feels Catalan and would like to preserve the Catalan language and culture. This unfortunate translation of the innocuous Catalan word “nacionalista” into the negative nasty-sounding “nationalist” is very unfortunate indeed and I believe has led to an incredible number of deep misunderstandings between English-speaking people who come to Catalonia and those Catalans who refer to themselves as “nacionalista”.

    During the past few years (starting from the moment I realised this difference in these two words) I have made a point of noting in which way the word “nationalist” is used in BBC documentaries, The Guardian articles, etc. And inevitably, to my shock, in 100% of the cases there was the negative association implied, which we could define as a group of implied meanings or associations that include violence, discrimination, fanaticism, feelings of superiority, etc. I have to strongly point out that 99% of so-called Catalan nationalists I have met do not conform to this description, meaning that when speaking in English we should not refer to them as nationalists, as that would be inaccurate (according to what the word implies in the English language) and unjust (it is putting a negative label on these people before they have a chance to express their point of view).

    Another consequence of this confusion between the two words is that so-called Catalan “nacionalistes” are surprised to get so much flak the moment they mention they refer to themselves as “nationalist” (in the English language) when debating in English. They fail to realise that they are saying something akin to saying “Hello, my name is John and I am a brutal fascist”. Of course, that is not what they meant. They usually only meant to say “Hello, my name is John, and I love my native language as much as you love yours and would feel heartbroken if it dies out”.

    Anyway, I hope you find this point interesting.

  201. Eddie

    The reason that Catalans are called nationalists is because that is what they are. The meaning in English is exactly the same – and can have either positive or negative connotations.

    The fact that Catalan nationalists vote for nationalist politicians, are keen to promote the Catalan people as one nation (what you refer to as ‘defending their identity’) and even call themselves nationalists, pretty much makes them nationalists in most people’s eyes.

    Perhaps the reason they are so surprised by the reaction of others is their deep sense of justification for all their nationalistic ideas. With Catalan nationalism, like any nationalism, there is an enemy, and that enemy is the Spanish state. When others ‘take the enemies side’ of course they are surprised.

    Personally I blame the politicians.

    May I suggest however that nationalism is the symptom, not the cure.

  202. matxil

    @alex. Interesting comment, and there might be some truth in what you say, but I don’t think it’s just that. I know very well that my catalan nationalist friends are not fascists. Also, I don’t think Frisian, or Irish, or Scottish “nationalists” (isn’t that how you would call them in English too? Or do you use another word?) are fascists.

    What – more than anything – surprises me in this whole debate is:
    1. that people want to strictly identify themselves as “part of a culture/nation/tradition”.
    2. That people seem to think that a culture or tradition or language is something static, uniform, and independent.

    Obviously, cultures do exist, but in the end they are always the result of mixing of other cultures and they are never uniformly the same for everyone. So defending a culture is rather ironic, given that that culture is a result of the influences of other cultures. The same goes for languages (which are obviously related to cultures).
    The Catalan language is a mixture of Iberic and (mostly) Roman invaders.
    The Spanish language is a mixture of Iberic, Roman invaders and Arabic invaders.
    The most clear example is English which has such distinct layers of Germanic and French influences. A Englishman of before the battle of Hastings, defending “English culture”, would object to words like “beef”, “mutton”, “royal” whereas nowaways, these words are as English as “tea”, “kebbab” and “pukka sahib”.

    My objection to nationalism is not that it supposedly is fascist or not. My objection is that it’s based on a myth: as if people can be really organized and classified according to some static, permanent cultural heritance. The truth is that a Catalan youngster from Barcelona, has more in common with a youngster from London, than both of them would have with their respective ancestors of a 1000 (or even 100) years ago.

  203. matxil

    @Eddie I rather do like your conclusion that nationalism is a symptom of (if I understand you correctly) politicians thar are either incompetent or take advantage of this subject to get more votes.
    In real life, the whole thing is hardly ever a problem. I just spent an entire weekend with people who mainly spoke Catalan. I could understand them almost perfectly and nobody minded if I responded in Spanish. Additionally, on a few occasions I could throw some light on the correct English pronunciation of things like “R.E.M.” or “Patrick Swayze”. In the end, having all these different languages present is a luxury, not a problem.

  204. Eddie

    Felip certainly has a very high opinion of his own intelligence:

    ‘I am 46 years old and my cultural level can be a matter of discussion but, as a hint I can explain you that I was raised in 3 mother languages, namely catalan, spanish and french, I was a really good student at school, I had very good records in my Ancient History and Arechaeology degree, I went on learning languages and I speak fluently italian, english and portuguese, I can read and express myself in japanese and arab, I have a medium level in latin and old egyptian and f¡nally some knowledge of maian and ancient greek… As a matter of fact I can explain you I have read all my classics (Iliad, Odyssey, Aeneid, Works and Days, Theogony, all the Sophocles, Aeschylus and Euripides tragedies, the Metamorfosis, the Plato Dialogues, Aristotle, the most important Ancient Egypt litterature, the Popol Vuh, the Bible, the Koran, Chrétien de Troyes, Ramon Llull, Rabelais, Villon, Ronsard, Montesquieu, Ariosto, Tasso, Boiardo, Dante, Machiavelo, Malory, Shakespeare, Swift, Thackeray, Sterne…).’

    Unfortunately, knowledge is often mistaken for wisdom.

  205. alex

    I guess we will have agree to differ on this point.
    The difference that exists between the set of associations and nuances of the two words “nacionalisme” and “nationalism”, as they are used nowadays by Catalan and English people respectively, I believe is very real. A word usually goes beyond its rational dictionary meaning and has a whole set of nuances and mental associations, that make it “mean” something different that what it is puported to mean in a rational dictionary definition.
    What I have noted in the English-speaking media and in conversations with native speakers of English is that each time the word nationalist appears it is usually applied to a group of fanatical people who are prepared to use violence to attain their objectives or at the very least it clearly carries with it (for the users of the term) the implied meanings of dogmatism, intolerance, narrow-mindendness. Also the association with Nazi Germany lingers in the mental background all the time, something that would not cross the mind of a Catalan when using the word “nacionalista” either applied to himself or herself or how he or she would apply it to someone else.
    I think that unless this basic misunderstanding is addressed, people who settle down in Barcelona from other countries will be baffled and scared at things such as people referring to themselves as “nacionalista” (or in an English conversation using – incorrectly according to my point of view – the word “nationalist”).

  206. alex

    ———Sorry for that, I pasted my reply from the .txt file I was writing it in and it got all formatted wrongly, so I please allow me to repost it below. Please delete my wrongly formatted previous post if you can, thanks———————————————-

    Regarding the word “nationalism” I think you make a fair point on Frisian and Scottish nationalists, who term themselves nationalist probably without intending to say of themselves that they feel superior in any way, so without the undertones of intolerance, superiority, etc. usually associated with this word in day to day modern usage by other people. I am not sure if the press and the media refer to them as “nationalist” in a positive way or not, that would be interesting to investigate. Maybe they just drop the word “nationalist” and let the present-day negative associations do their job. In any case I have not enough knowledge of these specific cases to really know what the way of thinking of a self-termed “Frisian nationalist” to see if it is comparable to Catalan “nacionalisme”. The main point I wanted to make is the very fact that Catalans who consider themselves “nacionalistes” do not in any way share the dogmatic, disciminatory and intolerant way of thinking that other “nationalisms” have shown the world. I think they use the word candidly without realising that it is quite a negative word for English-speaking people and in this sense it is unfortunate that they continue to use it, as it gives other people an easy weapon to use against them. I myself do not use it to describe my position, as I do not think it aids in understanding what my true thinking on these issues is. I prefer not to have a label, but least of all such a tainted label as this one.

    I am interested in bringing up your point on the youngster from Barcelona, as I feel this is quite an essential point that is the basis for a misunderstading on the part of many people of the idea itself of identity. It’s a bit like an iceberg with quite a lot of substance below the surface, so I will try to limit myself to treating only the specific case of the youngster of Barcelona, with the hope that it is sufficient to extrapolate the underlying idea.

    Although on the surface it may seem that a Catalan youngster from Barcelona has more in common with a youngster in London than with a Catalan from 100 years ago, I think this is not at all the case. On a very superficial level we will see iPods, internet, etc. used by the London youngster, as well as modern ways of dressing and similar tastes in American pop bands, and on the other hand we will see the quaint ways young people used to dress in the Catalonia of 100 years ago. But in regards to important things, the things that really matter to us, the human elements that make us feel at home in one place or alienated in another, it is clear to me that this Barcelona youngster will have much more in common with the Barcelona youngsters from 100 years ago. A good example is that Catalan footballer Cesc Fàbregas who went to play for Arsenal. He had to settle down in London and it was really hard for him, the main reason being all these cultural elements that include rituals and ways of behaving that form an essential part of our lives. Although he might have found that London youngsters also liked iPods, internet, REM, etc. I’m sure he was baffled and felt alienated due to the difference in behaviour and system of personal values of the people that surrounded him. You may counter that he was surrounded by all sorts of people, and that each person is completely different, but if you disregard individual differences you do see some traits that are shared between English people in the same way that a number of traits are shared between French people. A specific example of this would be the way English people have had for centuries a certain disdain for food and have treated it much like something to fill the stomach quickly whereas Catalans during this same number of centuries have rather revered food much in the way the French have been doing. This includes also how the ritual itself of eating is treated: in Catalan society it is almost unthinkable, even in present-day youngsters, to eat lunch whilst walking down the street or eat it on the sofa, or at the office desk whilst working on the computer, whereas in London they make no big deal out of food eating and it is allowed to be done quickly at almost any place you want. It is seen there almost like going to the bathroom to do your necessities: something that is necessary and on which one should not linger too long. I could go on with other cultural examples that would make Cesc feel at home in the Barcelona of 100 years ago but alienated in present-day London, but I think the food example serves well enough to make my point. If we go back 100 years, from all the information I have, I prepared to bet that we will find the same reverence for food in Barcelona and the same disdain for food in London as in our present days. Change occurs, but it occurs slowly and step by step. I will only add the important element of language. Even though the Catalan language spoken 100 years ago in Barcelona may have had slight variations, he would certainly have felt much more at home there than surrounded by this other language so different from his. Language is one of these elements of identity, which is why we write our diaries only in our native language (the language closest to us, our intimate language).
    And just to avoid the risk of being misunderstood, I will state that I am not saying people do not adapt and change. Cesc might settle down in London for many years and if so he will slowly adapt to the customs and way of behaving that English people have (provided of course he does not shut himself in a ghetto). If he has children there, then his children will adapt even better to the English way of life. That is why there is all this talk of integration in Catalonia, it is the idea of instead of imposing Spanish, let people integrate into the language and culture that has been natural to this area for all these past centuries.

  207. Eddie

    You and Felip share the same tendency to write extremely long posts, as if the length of you post adds more credibility to your point.
    Another thing you seem to share is the belief that, in Cataluña, a nationalist is not actually a nationalist. Or at least that a Catalan nationalist is a ‘good’ nationalist.
    Ironically, you are both typical examples of ‘Catalanistas’.

  208. Charles

    Curiously, when a catalan nationalist wants to REALLY insult somebody who does not believe in the supposed right of Catalonia to independence, he will call you a SPANISH NATIONALIST, which has ALL the same incredible negative connotations that the word Nationalist has in English.

    So there we have it:-
    In the catalan language, “Nacionalista” refers to a patriot who is a defender of catalan culture and language,

    it refers to the facist-like tendencies of anyone who thinks exactly the same, but who defends any other culture or language.

  209. matxil


    On the one hand, I agree. Of course there are cultural differences, and indeed, – being Dutch – I had thought of the food example as well, which indeed is quite different. Then again, as far as food goes, you yourself already noted, that Catalan culture in that respect is not so different from French, Portuguese, Italian, … dare I say it… Spanish… Just as the Dutch attitude to food is more similar to the English and the German. Now, I don’t deny there are also differences even between Catalan and Spanish cuisine and food habits. Of course… But then, is there really a fixed frontier between one and the other?

    And, anyway, yes cultural differences *do* exist. But are they really static? Are they really so uniform? Are they really a basis to feel “one and united”?
    In some ways (I like your Cesc example), I am sure they are. But to what extent?

    On the other hand, I do think that the Barcelona and London youngsters have more in common than just iPod and Lady Gaga. I really think people nowaways, at least in Europe, have a mentality completely different than 100 years ago, about sex, about gender, about freedom, about politics, about work, about money. And – actually – even about food. Was Shis Kebab England’s favourite dish 100 years ago? Could one buy a Döner Kebab in Barcelona 100 years ago?

    Again, I like your Cesc example, because as a guirri, that’s exactly how I felt sometimes, living in Barcelona (but then the other way around). “Oh God, it’s 40 degrees out there, do we really have to have a warm meal? Why can’t I just have a cheese sandwich on the sofa for lunch?”. But still, would I define myself as Dutch? Not entirely. Would I think that there is such a thing as one Dutch culture? No. Do I think Dutch culture should be defended? No. Do I want to unite myself with other Dutch? Occasionally yes, but not in any political sense.

    It is inevitable that we feel part of some cultural (and linguistic) inheritance. As such it is even “enriching”, in the sense that it adds more variety to the world. The problem starts when people start walking with banners and flags, defining themselves as such and so culture and wanting to impose that on others. And you can’t deny that that is part of Catalan nationalism just as much as any nationalism in any other part of the world (even though I do partly agree with your comments about the negative connotations with the word “nationalism” in Northern Europe while for a Catalan person these connotations do not exist.).

    As for your last lines. Integration should be natural. The languages and cultures (plural) of this area over the past centuries have varied and have their origins in other languages and cultures. This process will continue in the future. Nowadays, English is an important language and so, this will inevitably have influences in Cataluyna, just as before Latin or Spanish or Arab had. In the end it’s give and take. I live here, so obviously, I do my best in understanding Catalan. Maybe even speaking Catalan in the future. But I do this for practical reasons, just as I do like to keep on speaking Spanish as well, and keep on practicing English. What I object to, however, is any kind of “nacionalista” sentiments, that (even in the catalan meaning of the word) means deriving your identity from a mixture of historical, sociological and cultural influences reduced to a myth of a single culture that should be “defended” somehow.

  210. alex

    Usually you will find that when a Catalan wants to express that a given Spanish person has a “Spanish nationalist” ideology or way of thinking in the English sense of the word, in the sense of imposing something and being dogmatic, he will usually use the term “ultranacionalista”, since “nacionalista” is usually too bland. I don’t know if you have actually come across instances of “nacionalista” used in the negative when used in Catalan everyday language, be it applied to Spain or Catalonia, in any case it is not how the word is usually used, as the word in everyday usage does not carry with it the set of negative associations which the English word does.

  211. Charles

    the main plank of Felip’s arguments as expressed over the last 12 months is that everyone is a Nationalist, that no-one is non-nationalist. As a catalan-welsh-english-french hybrid whose family has frequently been the victims of nationalism I claim MY RIGHT to declare myself a NON-Nationalist.

    Yet whenever I tell a catalan audience that I am a non-nationalist they say that really I am in favour of Spanish nationalism (despite the fact that my mother had to leave because of it).

    I quite agree that there are any number of bigoted spanish nationalists just as I recognise that drum-thumping, flag-waving bigotry and discrimination on nacionalist grounds is alive and thriving in Catalonia as well.

    Arthur Mas in his speech yesterday accused Spain of wanting to cripple the welfare state in Catalonia – a disgraceful speech in my opinion, creating a pre-bellic paranoic atmosfear of ”they are out to get us – arm yourselves”. My grandfather spoke out against this very same problem in 1931 (and paid the price for it).

  212. Eddie


    Perhaps you could explain the difference between the terms ‘racist’ and ‘ultra-racist’, ‘bigot’ and ‘ultra-bigot’, ‘fascist’ and ‘ultra-fascist’?

    I think you might find that by calling Spanish nationalists ‘ultra-nationalist’, all you are really saying is that they are MORE nationalist than a nationalist. The use of the term is really used to say ‘they are the bad nationalists and we are the good nationalists’.

    There is a danger in thinking that the ‘good’ nationalism is OK.

    In Cataluña’s case, the battles, bloodshed and suffering are all in the past, yet the feeling of injustice remains. This has only been made worse by the 36 years of nationalist politics since Franco died. Many people here have become obsessed by nationalism – you don’t have to walk very far to see a Catalan flag hanging out of a window. As for the language, most people are happy to speak either Catalan or Castellano, yet in schools and hospitals you will find that all the information is exclusively presented in Catalan. Those who are indifferent prefer not to question these things for fear of losing the trust of a friend or colleague.

    To say that a Catalan nationalist is just someone who ‘feels Catalan and would like to preserve the Catalan language and culture’, and is completely harmless, is extremely naive.

    I can see where you are coming from in the sense that most Catalan nationalists that I have met have been lovely, harmless people – proud of the customs and the land they call their own. However, the intentions of politicians are much more sinister, and these people are merely providing the fuel for the fire.

    Life is good in Cataluña. People here are free to do what they want within a fair democracy, a high standard of living and many opportunities. The majority of foreigners, and most Spaniards, who come to live here are not interested in nationalism. I have been asked so many times during a conversation in Castellano ‘y porque no hablas catalan?’ – is this question really necessary? Is it not obvious? I could respond by asking ‘porque crees tu?’ but that would be unnecessary. We both know the reason why.

    I actually feel sorry for the Catalan nationalist. They have been fed so much nationalism from the government through the media and the social services that they feel completely justified and this is why they are so shocked when faced with another point of view.

    And by the way, on the subject of food, language and culture, nobody is more similar to the Catalans than their fellow Spaniards.

  213. alex

    Yes, it’s true what you say about how Catalan culture with respect to something like food is not that different to that of France and indeed that of Spain. There are still differences, though, but I can agree they are smaller than those between the European north / south divide or the European Protestant / Catholic divide. Following the Cesc example I will even admit that with respect to food Cesc might have possibly have felt more at home in Madrid than in London. Still, this doesn’t really change the basic idea that a Catalan identity exists, however fuzzy its defining lines are, and that the main axis of this identity is the Catalan language. Which is why so much of Catalan “nacionalisme” centers on the language. Franco knew only too well that if you take away the language, most of the Catalan identity would go away with it, which is why he made a point of seriously attempting to exterminate the language.

    I agree with your idea that culture is not static and not uniform. But from this fact you seem to quickly jump to the conclusion that all change, no matter how it is produced, is natural, good and acceptable. Here is where I differ. I think it is easy to miss the difference (quite an essential difference in my eyes) between slow evolutionary change, where a language and culture adapt to new times and to the introduction of new words and foods, and sudden changes provoked by some sort of act of agression, for lack of a better word, especially those that seriously endanger the survival of the language. I find it is difficult to get across to non-Catalan speakers the endangered species status of Catalan as a language and how this endangered situation of the language is the main concern of many Catalan people who have been branded (often by others) nationalists. To an outsider it might look like Catalan is healthy and thriving, but it is a seriously ill patient that needs attention, and since the Catalan language is my identity, or at least a very important part of my identity (I feel I am myself when I speak Catalan), it can be quite depressing to see it crumble the way it has been doing over the past years. Let me be clear: I am not worried about the natural introduction of new words into the language. All new words from other languages are welcome, even Spanish words, as that does not really affect the structure of language. What is heart-breaking is seeing how the structure of language itself (Catalan grammatical constructions) is falling apart, usually being replaced by Spanish constructions. Any sociolinguist will tell you that such a thing is natural to occur where two languages are coexisting. The strong one (Spanish) will eat away at the construction of the one that is in a weaker position (Catalan) until there will reach a point that Catalan will become essential Spanish pronounced differently. Here is where I see the essential difference between healthy evolutionary change and sudden imbalances caused by agressive mutilation. And this is the context needed to understand why so many Catalan speakers talk about the need to protect the language. And how the school system is in no need for more Spanish, but rather of more Catalan (and more English).

    I know exactly how you feel as a guiri, as I have been a guiri in many other countries myself. The interesting thing in my personal experience is that I had never given any thought to the idea of identity until I actually went to live in another country. Being a strange mix of Catalan father, English mother and Russian grandparents I did not really see myself as a Catalan. But when at age 18 I went to live in England it was a defining moment where I realised that I was in effect mainly Catalan and could not escape this Catalan identity. In your case you say you do not entirely feel Dutch, if I have understood correctly. But I am sure you feel more at home speaking the Dutch language than speaking English? Am I right? Or maybe not.

  214. alex

    Well, on this point I certainly do not agree with Felip. I do not believe that all people are nationalists, especially because if that were true then the word would have no useful meaning (if everyone is x then what is the use of the term x?). At the same time I think the word is controversial, as it has a meaning that can vary from language to language and maybe even within one same language, which is why I prefer to refrain from using it as a label for anyone, least of all for myself.

    But it is for this same reason that I find a problem with the term non-nationalist. Although you have all the right to label yourself a non-nationalist, I believe you also have the responsibility of defining each time without ambiguity what you mean by this, as this label is just as misleading and problematic, if not more so, than the nationalist label (or almost any label for that matter), and it has been misused and abused in the same way, which might be why you have got some negative feedback when attempting to use it. The term non-nationalist seems to me a reactive coining of a term (a term that is born as a reaction to the term nationalist), but as such it already implies the existence of a clear definition of what a nationalist is, and this definition is usually not one given by a nationalist, but one given by the person who calls himself a non-nationalist. It is a bit like saying “I am none of those things that I myself have decided to group under the (negative) concept of nationalist”.

    This is the danger of labels. It becomes very easy for someone to simply discredit whole groups of people that think differently by first defining a negative label and then grouping under that label any person who does not agree with his own ideas, without ever having to actually deal with the ideas themselves. It allows for instantaneous discredit of someone’s whole complex thought structure, which is very convenient for politicians but very damaging to the rest of the population and its relationship with people from other countries. This is the problem I see with parties like Ciutadans, who use the term non-nationalist by indirectly defining a negative definition of the word nationalist and then using it as in “We are the only non-nationalist party, all other parties are nationalist” (when in actual fact what they mean is “all other parties have shown at one point or another in time a certain interest in preserving the Catalan language”). In this way they end up making non-nationalism an essential part of their political and ideological identity in an us vs. them imagined situation. I have a friend who had a balanced view of Catalanism until she was taken in by the Ciutadans discourse and now I find she imagines all these enemies and injustices she had never seen before. Was her consciousness awakened on a reality she had not perceived until then or was she simply brainwashed by a well-calculated us vs. them discourse that has as its aim the disappearance of Catalan?

  215. alex

    Regarding the term “ultranacionalista” the fact remains that it is used differently to the word “nacionalista”. It is not used to express the views of someone who is more “nacinoalista” than someone else. Also, the prefix “ultra” is not so much an intensifier as one that expresses going beyond a limit (e.g. ultrasound). At least that is my experience of the word. And the comparison of the real word “ultranacionalista” to invented English words such as “ultra-racist” and “ultra-bigot” (or at least words that are not used) seems to me unfair. In any case if you read my post you will see I was not referring to myself (I have never called anyone “ultranacionalista”) but was only making a point to Charles on how the word “nacionalista” is quite a harmless word in Catalan. To which I can add that the waving of the Catalan flag has always been done with a beaming smile in a candid gesture of love for a language and culture that is always on the brink of disappearing, never with a serious face or a threatening posture that implies some form of exclusion. You believe this to be a naive point of view, but as a Catalan who has lived here for most of my life and who has observed other Catalans I can assure you that in my experience this is all there has been to it. This is not the Balkans, this is Catalonia. There is no danger of violence of any sort erupting now or anytime in the near future. Talk to these so-called nacionalistes and see if their intentions really lie beyond preserving a language that is in an endangered situation and beyond a feeling of economic injustice.

    And do not let yourself be so easily convinced by the Madrid media portrayal according to which this is a region where politicians have bred nationalism via their policies and education. I can assure you my Catalan grandfather considered himself a Catalanist and defended the language and culture in exactly the same way present-day Catalan speakers are doing, and that was way before Franco. The idea of a Catalan education system that has infused Catalan society with Catalanist or nationalist ideas is a myth that is very convenient for certain Spaniards in positions of power who would wish Catalonia would just once and for all become only a region of Spain, very much like Andalucia is. You have to grant that the desire of many Madrid-based people who hold positions of power is for Catalunya to become a Spanish-speaking region of Spain where Catalan is some cultural residue much like Breton or Welsh are residues that are kept in libraries and museums.

  216. Eddie


    Cataluña IS a region of Spain and has been for a very long time. Spaniards do not need to wish for this to happen as it is already true.

    When does pride become nationalism? When it is imposed on others. There is no justification for that in my opinion. The fact that a language is less popular does not give people the right to enforce it on members of society for whom it serves no purpose. It is sad that Catalan is not as appealing as Spanish to outsiders, but nothing is forever. Surely any language is less important than communication itself.

    Perhaps you first felt your Catalan nationlism rise within, when you were abroad, due to your insecurities. Your nation provides you with an effortless identity, which is great if it is a ‘good’ / ‘oppressed’ nation, and not so great if it is a ‘bad’ / ‘oppressive’ one. This is why your perception of the term ‘nationalist’ might be a good one if you are from Cataluña or Ireland, but a bad one if you are from England, France, Germany etc. It is often easier to play the part of the underdog – and certainly more popular. Which takes me back to the politicians…

    Might I suggest that you underestimate the power of the very education you received. Presuming that you are younger than 36 – and after reading your posts I already have done – bear in mind that throughout your entire life there has been a nationalist goverment in Cataluña. Forgive me for repeating this again, but I feel it is very naive to believe this has not influenced your perception of the situation at all.

  217. alex

    I have to say you presume wrong about my age. Not by a lot, though, as I am 37. But maybe enough to invalidate your reasoning. But let’s go into details. Regarding my primary education, I can assure you my first years of EGB education (ages 6 to 8 ) were entirely in Spanish, and most of it with a teacher of advanced age who did not hide her Franco sympathies. If anything, during my first tender years at primary school I was being brainwashed with Francoist propaganda that the old lady unashamedly injected into her teaching. On the other hand I will not deny recalling one Catalan language teacher in secondary school who had simplistic nationalist ideas like the ones you would recognise as such, but I never bought into this. But this was compensated with very Spain-centered Spanish-speaking secondary school teachers too. Catalanism in me, if it has had some origin apart from my own thought-processes, has been from my father. And you cannot accuse my father of having had a nationalistic upbringing of any sort. Neither of lacking exposure to other cultures, as he spent a few years in England and Australia. The same goes for his father, who had strong Catalanist views but whom you could not accuse of having been brainwashed by any nationalist government or school-system.

    As to your statement “Cataluña IS a region of Spain”, I think we are not speaking the same language here. I always make a point of differentiating between what is official and what is real. So yes, officially Catalunya has been deemed a region of Spain at this moment in history, but legislation does not have some sort of magic power that transforms a group of people at the pronouncement of some words. The same way Paris did not cease to be French the moment it was occupied by Germany in 1940. Let’s do a thought experiment. Imagine tomorrow the Spanish government decides to deem French the only official language of Spain. There is no real impediment to this. You would have to go step by step, with the first step being amending the constitution. But the end result would be that French would be the only official language of Spain. Would that make Spain French-speaking? No, of course not. Spain would still continue to speak Spanish, and in people’s minds the association of Spain = Spanish language would prevail. In my view the same applies to Catalonia. Just because Spanish has been deemed co-official in Catalonia for practical reasons (communication with Madrid) does not make Spanish a language that is inherent to this area. Catalan is the only language that has been spoken uninterruptedly from the middle ages until now. The sad story for me is that internationally people are not making the association Barcelona = Catalan-speaking in the way they do make the association Berlin = German-speaking and Paris = French-speaking. To avoid misunderstandings let me state that I am aware that in Paris many languages are spoken and so it is how it should be, but at the same time there is one language that somehow belongs there for no other reason than its continous use during countless generations. I do not doubt there might be cities where there is no such language that has been spoken predominantly for the last dozen centuries, but that is not the case of Barcelona.

    As to Catalanism as an easy identity, I cannot agree with this at all. I believe it has to be one of the most tortuous identities to have and it would be much easier to forget about it and consider myself Spanish or English. But alas, I cannot just wish away my identity, as I have not chosen it. As any other person I have many identities or rather my identity is a mix of many elements, including feeling European. When I was in Japan, the contrast in culture was so big that what I longed for at difficult moments was Europe, any country in Europe. In contrast with Japan I would have felt perfectly at home in Paris. What I am attempting to say is that identity is not something I want nor something I have strived for, and Catalan identity in particular does not help me in any way in feeling better about myself, rather the contrary, it makes me feel invisible and mistreated. It is even less true that I long for a simplistic uniform identity (I hate my identity being reduced or simplified). The truth of the matter is that I one day became aware that I could not escape identity. Even though I had considered myself completely internationalist (“I am just a citizen of the world”, “I am English, Australian, with Russian grandparents on my mother’s side”, etc.) I had to one day face the fact that there was a part of my identity I could not choose, it was already there in the form of being at home within the Catalan language and with Catalan behaviour. Let me be clear: not at home in Catalonia but at home in the Catalan language and amongst Catalan-speaking people. And again I feel I must stress the language component: To my understanding people feel at home in one language, their native language, and this component becomes part of their identity, no matter how many other languages they learn later on.

  218. alex

    In my last post to Eddie the number 8 plus a parenthesis has been converted into an emoticon. I don’t know if you can change this somehow. Maybe by deactivating conversion into emoticons?

  219. alex

    Ok, if you do not want to debate on this issue, no-one is forcing you to. On the other hand there is no reason to be obnoxious about it. I think I have been respectful when talking to you so I expect the same from you. This last post was out of order, the same as the post that accused me of using the length of my posts as an attempt to add credibility to my arguments. This is the type of aggressive attitude that creates animosity, which you will not find in my posts. Good luck with your relationships with people.

  220. Eddie


    Perhaps if I put my points to you as a series of questions, then you could answer each one without avoiding anything?

    What do you think?

  221. matxil

    Hmmm…. It is kind of typical that the only aggresion in this debate has come from 2 (out of 4) people against Catalan nationalism. Then again, a statistics of 2 is rather small…

    @Alex, you make very good points and your contribution is very much appreciated. I don’t have time to respond in more detail right now during working hours, maybe this evening I will.

    One little point about your argument of “sudden changes” and “the small language been eaten by the big”… Isn’t this true for all languages? Iberic got eaten away by the Romans (not very peacefully and not very slowly, I imagine) to create Catalan, and anglo-saxon got rapidly and violently conquered by “Normandic” to create modern English. Of course, the Catalan you know is special for you. (Just as of course, the Dutch I know is special for me). But what’s the point in fighting to conserve it for the future? I can see (and I am only 42 years “young”), that even in my lifetime, Dutch is changing rapidly. For one thing, it is “eaten away” by the bigger language English. Should I go out on the streets now and protest it?
    The reality is that nowadays, English is “cool” in Holland. The reality is that Spanish is very much present in Catalonia. The reality was that the romans and the arabs were present in the iberian island. I respect your desire to speak the way you want. I don’t understand, however, this wish to conserve it for the future.

    Your other point about nationalism, I agree with almost 100%. Maybe Charles is an exception because he has such a varied background, but I think most people (also the ones who vote Ciutadans) feel something for “their” football team, or speaking “their” native language or eating “their” national dish. In that sense, almost all of us are in some way “nacionalista”, and I include myself there. But I do think Catalan nationalism goes a bit beyond that. I don’t see 11/9 as only shiny happy people waving colourful flags.

    And now…. I really have to go to work : )

  222. Anonymous

    As the Catalan Nationalists continue down their path of self-rightousness, they become more and more like the enemy they are fighting against.

    Fear is just the beginning.

  223. alex


    Yes, I too don’t have that much time to dedicate to posting, as I am already getting behind with my work, so I might be posting at larger intervals after this post. But the debate is interesting and your style of debating I can identify with, as it allows going deeper into some questions.

    The point you make about the languages that existed on the Iberian peninsula before the Roman conquest I can agree with in the sense that quick violent change has also happened often throughout history and in a way could also be considered a “usual” or a “normal” thing to happen to languages. Languages do disappear and in some cases not in an evolutionary way but by sudden extermination brought about by specific policies or also by specific events that are not part of any policy. Maybe an analogy would be animal species, where some of them transform into new ones but others become extinct through human intervention or by some accident. But the question is, does that mean I will stay with my arms crossed and watch the foundations of the Catalan language being dynamited via what I feel are human policies expressly aimed at doing this when I know I can contribute to help avoid its destruction? No, I think I just cannot bring myself to watch impassively and I do not know if in history other people have resisted this destruction of other languages, but possibly they have. The Catalan language I feel is my home town more than any physical place can be. I write my most intimate thoughts in Catalan and I feel I am much more myself when speaking in Catalan than when speaking in English, German or Spanish, languages which I also speak well enough. Going back to the analogy, I guess the same reaction might happen in regards to a species of animal that I felt close to. Imagine if someone decides to make the species of cats disappear, not by killing them but by making them sterile (so as to avoid confusing the issue). In this case I think I would also put out some international cry for help to avoid the disappearance of this animal species. But as I say, with Catalan it is even more of a pressing issue, as it is a language I feel is part of my intimate identity. And I am aware most of my Catalan friends and relatives have the same relationship to the language.

    At the same time I do not wish for my thoughts on how things should be in Barcelona and Catalonia to be misunderstood as saying that I wish for Catalan to be imposed on other people. I guess all I wish is for people to understand that when they settle down in Barcelona they are settling down in a city whose language has been mainly Catalan for the past 10 centuries or more and to take in all that this implies, such as that it is reasonable to expect for people settling to master Catalan in the long term, and to expect for them to allow their children to become native Catalan speakers, in the same way a child born in Paris will become a native French speaker (which does not exclude other languages spoken within the family). I do believe strongly in a cosmopolitan Barcelona where you walk down the street and hear many languages, which is how it is at the moment. But I believe this Barcelona has to have Catalan as its main language in things like schooling, street signs, etc. for the reason on the one hand that this is somehow the language that is native to Barcelona and on the other hand becuase the alternative to this might be the disappearance in the short term of what for many Catalan speakers is their only native language (I say native language, not to be confused with what languages they are able to speak). I view this presence of Catalan in schools and this expectation for others to end up mastering it as no more of an imposition than the case you would find in Paris, where the schooling system is in French, signs are in French and the expectation is for one to master French in the long run. The irony of present-day Catalonia is that I feel that Spanish is being imposed on me, but not by Spaniards, rather by non-Spaniards, such as the French, English, Czech people I know who have settled down here and somehow force on me the expectation of speaking Spanish with them (why not English, which we all master just as well? The same way we are doing in this forum).

    As to preserving the language, maybe with “preserve” I am choosing the wrong word, as it seems to imply keeping it frozen in its present state, when in fact I do wish it to continue evolving as it has done over the centuries. It is a pleasure to have books in a Medieval Catalan that sounds so different to present-day Catalan so that I can play around with these different-sounding Catalan versions, much in the same way an English-speaking person can all of a sudden start speaking in Shakespearean English to give an impression of being from another century. It allows for so much literary playing. In this respect I do hope Catalan in 100 years’ time will be different to present-day Catalan, but I also hope this difference is a product of a slow evolutionary change or at least a change that does not destroy the very foundations of the language which have remained the same for many centuries or have evolved in a way not to render it disfunctional. One of the points I am assuming we all agree on is that some things are quite essential to a language, such as its grammatical construction, and others are not so essential, such as the introduction of new words, and the feeling I have is that there has been quite a sudden imposition of Spanish in the region by way of policies aimed at eradicating Catalan (when Franco “imported” one million people from the south to a Catalonia where he had banned Catalan he knew perfectly well what he was doing), which have effectively hit at the very structures of the Catalan language. Contrary to what some anti-catalanists think, there was a richer usage of Catalan 100 years ago than now, and that was at a time when there were no pro-Catalan policies. My grandfather spoke a very rich Catalan, meaning he had a Catalan word for practically everything and used perfectly well all sorts of complex grammatical constructions, but when you heard him speak Spanish it was comical, he really struggled to find the words and he sounded a bit like a “guiri”. Which somehow points into the direction of what the natural usage of Catalan and Spanish were in the region (Catalan widely, Spanish not). And my grandfather was born and raised in Barcelona at a time where there was no “nationalist government” nor any sort of official status for the Catalan language. I believe Catalan has in effect evolved slowly without having its structure endangered until only very recently, and by recently meaning two key moments in recent history: Franco’s anti-Catalan policies during part of his dictatorship and present-day Spanish anti-Catalan policies. So contrary to this idea of a recent resurgence of Catalan, most of us Catalan-speakers have the feeling there has been a quick demise. Legislation such as the Estatut are more of a desperate attempt at saving a ship that is being torpedoed from all directions.

  224. alex

    Now you accuse me of avoiding things? Instead of an apology I get this. I believe in my last long post to you I countered each and every one of your points as well as I was able to. As far as I am aware I did not avoid talking about any issue whatsoever, and even less has there been any intention of avoiding anything. Your implied accusation is just as offensive as your other accusation on lengthy posts, and I hope you are able to realise that.

    I do my best to give my side of an incredibly complex issue which some people like to simplify into manipulative equivalences such as “Protection of the Catalan language = Catalanism = nationalism = dangerous bad guys” and other people (or maybe the same people) like to spin into a simplistic and invented fairy-tale whose plot runs “nationalist government comes to power, nationalist government brainwashes children via nationalist schools, children grow up to be nationalist” which of course bears little relation to reality. My last reply tried to counter this simplistic story by explaining how 100 years ago there was the same level of defense of the Catalan language and culture as now, if not more.

    It is obvious we have different viewpoints, but you seem to act as if you are watching reality from a higher truth vantagepoint than mine while imagining that I am watching reality from a narrow-minded blindness. You seem to believe that your conclusions come from your own independent reasoning whereas my conclusions come from being brainwashed by others, when you know I could make the exactly the same accusations the other way round. I think you need to step down from your high horse and understand that the issue is in itself complicated and requires thoughtful and calm debate. And it does not help that you go on to wildly accuse me of manipulation in my way of debating (lengthy posts, avoidance of questions). This debate can only be enriching for both of us if it is done with respect, without getting personal and especially if it is with no presuppositions as to what the position of the other person is. There are no easy points to be gained by dropping witty one-liners, as we are not debating in parliament or in front of a large audience.

    Then again, you are not forced to debate with me. You can simply say something nice like “Let’s agree to disagree” and end our exchange if that is your wish.

  225. Charles

    I think the last anonymous contributor is making a critical point.

    Catalan nationalism *used* to be the fluffy, friendly, cultural and patriotic movement dedicated to promoting the catalan language and culture and the integration of outsiders in an all-inclusive, tolerant and above all, FREE society that Alex likes to think it is. The gloves have been coming off for some years now.

    Let me make it quite clear here that the villains are NOT the catalans. The inmense majority of catalans think that fining a shop 1 million euros for haviong it’s sign in spanish is STUPID and COUNTERPRODUCTIVE, and gives a first-class argument to Right-wing madrid-based jounalists to slam Catalunya for doing exactly the same as Franco did in the 1930’s.

    The majority of catalan politicians send their children to schools that do NOT have catalan as virtually the only language used. I have quoted studies that indicate that only 14% of the catalan population are in agreement with the current 2 hours per week of spanish. The remaining 86% of the catalan population wanted a greater proportion of classes to be taught in other languages, spanish and english.

    Again the current catalan-only school policy is a near copy of what Franco did during 40 years. Talking to the tinent d’alcalde the other day (ICV) he said that because he had been taught exclusively in spanish when he was a boy he felt it perfectly reasonable for schools to use only catalan as a way of compensating for the Franco years.

    While I TOTALLY agree that catalan should be promoted and extended to all who have come to live in Catalonia in the last 60 years, I disagree with the idea of imposing it. One wrong does not correct another.

  226. Eddie


    I apologise for offending you.

    The point I was trying to make is that a long-winded reply is a classic way of A) avoiding giving a straight answer, and B) trying to make a point more credible.

    If you watch, listen to or take part in any debates, you will find that people will rarely back down or change their opinion during the debate. Usually someone who is backed into a corner will resort to avoiding answers, denying truths and lying.

    I enjoy taking part in debates – I always have – not just because I love a good discussion, but also because I hope that during the debate some things will be learnt, either from trying to express your opinions and ideas, or from listening to someone else trying to express theirs. However, I think most of the time no lessons are learnt or opinions are changed until long after the debate, sometimes weeks or months later.

    When you say things like;

    ‘A word usually goes beyond its rational dictionary meaning’

    – you are claiming that ‘usually’ a dictionary is useless.

    ‘I do not believe that all people are nationalists’

    ‘I find a problem with the term non-nationalist’

    – you blatently contradict yourself.

    ‘the word “nacionalista” is quite a harmless word in Catalan’

    – you either lie or are extremely naive.

    ‘the waving of the Catalan flag has always been done with a beaming smile in a candid gesture of love for a language and culture that is always on the brink of disappearing, never with a serious face or a threatening posture that implies some form of exclusion’

    – again you lie.

    ‘I think we are not speaking the same language here’

    – you are blatently wrong.

    ‘officially Catalunya has been deemed a region of Spain at this moment in history, but legislation does not have some sort of magic power that transforms a group of people at the pronouncement of some words’

    – you avoid the truth.

    ‘Spanish has been deemed co-official in Catalonia for practical reasons’

    – again avoiding the truth.

    ‘alas, I cannot just wish away my identity, as I have not chosen it’

    – this just makes me sad.

    You must understand that when somebody says ‘black is white’ it is possibly the most atagonistic thing they can say. That is why children do it all the time. It is easy to be antagonistic in this way and then point the finger when you get a reaction.

    I don’t expect you to change your opinions because of me. In my experience, this subject of nationalism is much like the subject of religion in that people will only change when they make their own personal discoveries. Please don’t interpret my opinions as an attempt to be superior, I am merely reading your opinions and giving mine. Instead of being offended, perhaps you should be flattered that I am taking the time to read your opinions very carefully.

    Feel free to criticise everything I say as that is the fun of a debate – it is not supposed to be a big love-in where we all gently tiptoe around each others opinions, is it?

  227. matxil

    @Alex. Everything you say sounds fine with me. Of course people who live here should learn and understand the Catalan language. Of course, if I would have children here, they would have to learn Catalan, and it would be their mother language too. (Especially since my girlfriend is Catalan too). I have friends who speak Catalan, my girlfriend and her friends and family speak Catalan. When I go to visit my girlfriend´s friends in Girona (where Spanish is less common), I find it absolutely normal that they speak Catalan, also with me, and I do my best to understand everything, and even reply in Catalan. I think in a few more years I will do so more aptly. All that is grand and dandy. It´s not that what I am objecting to.

    But when I am at a party in Girona, and there is a Basque friend of mine (who has a Catalan girlfriend too by the way) and someone asks him about his one year old son and he replies in Spanish, and that person turns away – clearly – to show that Spanish is something she will not accept, then, there, is where I start to feel bad. And when someone else on that party insists in speaking Catalan, not even willing to use one single word in Spanish, just “to show”, that´s when I start to feel uncomfortable. And no, these are not just exceptions to the rule.

    A few months ago, I was in a bar in Barcelona, with three Catalan speakers. They spoke in Catalan and I replied in Spanish. No problem. One of them asked me: “How long have you lived here?”. When I replied “9 years”, she said: “Ah, seems long enough to…” I felt basically sorry for her to be so “anal” but oh well, never mind. Then she asked the waiter, clearly a guirri, for a “got”. He didn´t understand. She then screamed “A got!” (How did he dare not understand?). The waiter apologized, he had only been in Barcelona for 2 months and didn’t understand Catalan very well. She was not appeased.

    This is what I am talking about. I am aware that that same attitude (in reverse) exists in Spain. As it exists in Holland, England, Wales, everywhere. And I don´t like it. I tend to think: oh well, assholes are everywhere, who cares? Obviously a lot of Catalanists are not assholes at all, and actually most people who one way or the other feel “Catalan” are very nice open-minded people. So, is there really a problem, or is it just a problem artificially created? Here is where politics come in, and, yes, I do think that people from ERC, or Solidaritat and even CIU on one hand, or Ciutadans, on the other hand, are throwing fuel on the fire. And yes, I do see that at certain supposedly public institutions, there is a very nasty attitude towards everything Spanish. And really, if you want to preserve Catalan culture and language, that attitude simply is not the way to go.

    You can´t change reality of immigration. The reality is that Catalonia will never be a separated entity. There will always be a strong influence of Spanish. That’s why your comparison with Paris is not completely valid. It seems logical but you are comparing apples with oranges. A correct comparison would be to compare Bretagne with Catalunia. Would a foreigner living in Bretagne really have to learn Breton *before* learning French? Would a foreigner in Wales (or even independant Ireland, for that matter) really have to learn Gaelic before learning English? A little bit unpractical, don’t you think?

    Again, on the long term, learning Irish, or Welsh or Catalan is all very well. Local people speaking these languages: very well. But when the reality is that another neighboring language for multiple reasons is more practical, then fighting against that is a bit silly to say the least, and in some cases can lead to ugly nationalism (yes, also here in Catalonia). It’s quite obvious for me that Catalan is a language that is spoken and educated here. But it should also be quite obvious that Spanish is a language that is spoken here, by guirris and by people living here for many generations. And you can’t deny that this is not always accepted by everyone. As a matter of fact, I have the feeling (correct me if I am wrong) that the generation of your grandfather was much more tolerant towards the Spanish language than kids nowadays (who don’t even have Franco as an excuse). I can understand the sentiments against Spain because of Franco but people seem to forget that Franco suppressed all of Spain, not just Catalonia.

    You say you love the fact that languages change, but on the other hand, lament the influence of Spanish over Catalan and how that affects the Catalan language. It seems to me that you say: a language might change, but only in ways that you like. It doesn’t work like that. Languages change, “y punto”. You’ll find that almost all changes in language are in fact a result of a relative dominance of one language or culture above the other. In the past it used to be Latin, for a while it was French, and for Catalonia it has also been Spanish, with now, as in the rest of the world, English on top. Fight it whatever you want, but Lady Gaga won’t disappear you know. For one thing, I don´t think it´s too much to ask for that public schools in Catalonia give decent classes in Spanish and English as well. I am aware that the education system in Spain / Catalonia is bad in general, but that doesn´t change the validity of the wish.

    Whereas I can understand and empathise with your “connection with your language and culture”, which I have as well, although seemingly not in such a dramatic way as you (I like my language but I really don’t give a damn if it exists in the next century), I cannot understand how you could make that such an important part of politics. Do you really think an independent Catalonia would make your life better? Do you think the Irish are really much better off in their “own country”? It seems that Irish independence hasn’t solved anything, and in some ways, made things a damn sight worse. It didn’t even help their gaelic language, which as a matter of fact, independent as they are, nobody speaks anymore. I am aware that England treated Ireland very badly (I’d say, even worse than Spain has treated Catalonia) but instead of fighing that injustice, what was the point of fighing the “nationalist cause”? The result: a bankrupt country, dominated by a backwarded Catholic religion. My point is: happines does not depend on nationalist sentiments or nationalist independence. It depends on a just administration, on fair democracy, on a fight against corruption, on economic progress. Fight that fight, instead of worrying so much about who is who, and who belongs where.

  228. matxil

    @Alex (2)
    Of course, happiness does not really depend on what I said in the last lines of my previous post. It depends on things completely beyond the scope of this discussion : )

  229. alex


    I accept your apology.

    I can understand your point about a long-winded reply being sometimes used as a way of obfuscating a debate, a way of throwing a fog of details and information that allows to dodge very direct and simple questions that are on the table. But I guess that is the problem of generalising, meaning that it does not follow that all long-winded replies have this intention. I believe it must be clear that in my posts I try to use logic and reasoning to put forward my points and that I attempt to counter other people’s points using also the same reasoning and logic. I am genuinely interested in understanding if there really is some sort of fundamental error in my position, and also if opposition to Catalanism is based more than anything on misunderstanding the real reasons behind our concerns for our language and culture. During the twenty years of debating this issue I have had to rethink some things and go deeper with others, but my feeling still is that a series of misunderstandings is the foundation of a certain type of opposition I have found, especially when living abroad.

    As to your list of extracts from my post, to me this points once again to misunderstandings. If anything, with your comments on my extracts you are showing how my posts are much too short, not too long, as I have not gone into explaining in detail each of my statements in the hope that they were intelligible and unambiguous. Which maybe they were not judging by your interpretation of them. Or maybe we are speaking very different languges. It is also true that in my posts I bring out too many subjects at a time in one single post, which makes me have to limit the words I dedicate to each point I try to make (in the hope that it will be understood by a reader who is willing to make the intellectual effort to do so), because believe it or not I do try to limit the length of my posts, as I hate posting and then seeing how long it actually has ended up. So it is a compromise between precision and length.

    I do continue to stand by the extracts of my statements you posted. Only I need somewhat more collaboration on your part to bring their meaning across to you. I will try to elucidate some of them, just to serve as an example of how you are misunderstanding me or how I am not expressing myself clearly enough (and also to avoid another long post):

    “A word usually goes beyond its rational dictionary meaning”.
    Yes, it does. It is not realistic to expect a dictionary to give you the whole set of nuances, connotations, feelings and associated ideas that a word has. A dicionary will usually give you what I would call the rational meaning, and at most it will point to some of its connotations and usage. And no, it does not follow logically that I am claiming that usually a dictionary is useless. A dictionary has the use that it has, but no more than that. It has plenty of limitations, one of them being not able to give you the feel of a word or if a word brings with it negative associations or not. Not so much because that would not be possible, but rather because dictionaries were invented at a time where people were not aware of how language actually works and believed that a word could be defined by a rational description. which is why we only truly learn language when we are within a linguistic environment where that language is actually in use by natives. I am trying to keep this explanation short, again with the risk of being misunderstood, but hopefully I have given sufficient information to clarify this point. If not, just ask.

    Alex: “I do not believe that all people are nationalists”
    Alex: “I find a problem with the term non-nationalist”
    Eddie: “you blatently contradict yourself”
    No, I do not. Taken out of context and placed one next to another you can almost create the optical illusion of contradiction. Here I think that asking for an explanation is asking me to repeat myself, as Matxil certainly did understand me on this point, or at least that is what I derived from his replies. But I will elucidate it briefly so as to avoid being accused of avoidance. Yes, I stand totally by my first statement. To say that all people are nationalists is just absurd, as the word would cease to have any useful meaning. Whenver you say all people are x, then any assertion such as “this person is x” ceases to mean anything, since all people are x. So on the contrary, I believe that for any given definition of “nationalist” there must be the existence of “non-nationalists” to make the word “nationalist” survive as a meaningful word. So say we have three different definitions of “nationalist”, and call them n1, n2 and n3. Then there must be the inverse for each of them, i.e. non-n1, non-n2, non-n3 if we expect all of them to survive daily use. So let’s now go on to my second statement. What I was saying is that I find a problem with the term “non-nationalist”, a problem similar to that of using the term “nationalist”. The problem lies in that often people who label themselves non-nationalist do so as if the meaning was already there and had nothing to do with them, as if it were no more than the inverse of a meaning of “nationalist” accepted by everyone. In a way almost as if the meaning of “nationalist” had been defined by these supposed nationalists and that the term “non-nationalist” was just the negation of that other term, simply there available to be used by anyone, instead of a newly-defined term. The truth of the matter, however, is that these people who like to label themselevs “non-nationalist” use the word in such a way as to create their own definition of the inverse word, which is “nationalist”. So it is these self-termed non-nationalists the ones who are creating their own definition of what “nationalist” means and then indirectly (or directly) labeling whoever they want as “nationalist”. Meaning labeling everyone who thinks different from them a “nationalist”. So PP and Ciutadans (and this is my opinion of them, not intending to offend anyone), will label anyone who does not agree with their thought system a “nationalist”. This is a method used in manipulative groups whereby you first create a negative label x and then label anyone who does not belong to the group as x. And this creates division where before there was none. And so on.

    So, I think I will stop at these two points because I do intend to limit the length of my posts. But I am able to answer the rest of your comments with equally crystal clear explanations and will do so in another post if you show interest in me doing so.

    By the way, I have always abhorred manipulation, lies and half-truths, so whenever you think you spot anything of the sort in my posts, take a moment to think that maybe were you see intention of deceit there is none. Certainly if you knew me you would know that this is the case. The only cases when I deceive is if I am deceiving myself. Is it possible that I deceive myself or am deluded in any of my thoughts? To the same degree as you are. Also take a moment to see how in many cases all that is happening is that we are not understanding each other, even on issues where we might actually deep down agree.

    Damn, another long post.

  230. alex


    Interesting points. I think we can agree in quite a few things of what you say to a higher or lesser degree, although I have to say that I do not agree at all on the point of the Breton comparison. But more of that later on in this post.

    Your experience in Girona with a person who turned away at someone speaking Spanish, I am totally with you that it is unacceptable behaviour. As a behaviour, turning away at the moment of hearing Spanish, I can only describe as hostile and agressive. Now, what we may not agree on is on the point you say that it is not an exception. My experience is that this behaviour is not common. On the contrary, if anything, my experience is that Catalan speakers in general are only too quick at changing to Spanish at the least sign of realising that the other person is Spanish-speaking or has difficulty with Catalan. It certainly is true of myself, I cannot help changing to Spanish when the waiter, taxi driver, person at a party speaks to me in Spanish. I cannot bring myself to force Catalan on that person, as it feels agressive. Unless the other person says to me “Please, speak to me in Catalan, even if I reply to you in Spanish”, in which case I comply with this. And much less would I turn away at a person who speaks to me in Spanish, it is just unthinkable. And I can assure you this adaptation to the Spanish of the other person is the behaviour I have experienced with all other Catalans I know. I certainly am the first to criticise this if I ever see it. Your other experience, with the bar where the waiter could not understand Catalan, I have to admit I have seen it a couple of times, if by that you mean insisting on asking for things in Catalan even if the waiter does not understand. But you have to put it a little bit in context. The feeling of many Catalans, which I understand perfectly well and can share in some respects, is one where all of a sudden there is practically no bar in the centre of Barcelona where you can feel at home, meaning being served in Catalan, and this not because of immigration in itself but because of how Catalan is made to be invisible internationally so that whoever comes to Barcelona does not arrive thinking that Catalan is the main language. Also restaurants and bars don’t make it a point of making Catalan a necessary requirement for working in a bar. It is open to debate whether they should do or not, but I would like to treat it the same way as whether you need or not Danish to work in a bar in Denmark. Maybe you don’t in some bars, and can accept this. I would not create any law that states that people should know Catalan in order to work in a bar, but I would expect owners of bars in the centre of Barcelona to themselves be interested in having waiters who know Catalan from day one. This does not make sense if you think Catalan is only a local language but makes perfect sense if you understand Catalan to be THE langauge of Barcelona and Catalonia. As I say, I would more readily accept non-Catalan speaking bars if they spoke Chinese or French. Not so much if they assume that Spanish is the way to go.

    But just to point in the contrary direction of your two experiences I can recount a funny thing that keeps happening to me very often. My Catalan is perfect, as you may have gathered by now, better than my English and better than my Spanish. Well, interestingly enough the following type of situation happens to me often: I enter clothes shop. Shopkeeper is a native Catalan speaker. We speak for ten minutes while I try on a shirt. Then when I go to pay he notices that instead of a Spanish identification card I have a guiri British passport. Then his mind seems to click at this information and he switches to Spanish, as if having forgotten that I had proven by speaking that not only could I communicate in Catalan but that my Catalan was perfect. He just can’t help it. He goes into the mode of “guiri = I should speak Spanish to him”. It is such a strange phenomenon. It has happened to me in banks, shops, offices, everywhere. Not every time, but often enough for it not to have been an exception. So I, the person who feels that Catalan is my first language, am treated as if I could not have access to that language, as if it is a language I have to insist on the other speaking if I want to continue the conversation in Catalan. Is this not a good example of the contrary of imposition of the Catalan langugage? And it is my personal experience, just like yours.

    On the point of comparing Catalunya with Bretagne or Wales I do not agree at all. I think this is one of the greatest misunderstandings regarding Catalonia that is circulating around Europe. Whenever I hear this comparison I feel deeply misunderstood. Even some Catalan-speakers think that this comparison is valid, which it is not. Why is it not? Well, each linguistic situation is different. Breton is essentially a dead language. It’s hard to face but it’s true. France killed Breton many years ago using policies directed at making disappear. They were very efficient and they did it. So who speaks Breton? Well, a couple of old farmers maybe. Also in the case of Breton there actually has been the attempt of “bringing it back from the dead”, something that is pointless. A dead lanuguage is dead forever, it is no more. Any attempt to bring it back is not actually bringing it back, that would be self-deluding oneself. It is actually creating a new language. I think the case of Welsh is similar although not so extreme as Breton. I think in these cases it is time to wave goodbye to those languages, it is time we admit that they went beyond that point of no return and they are simply connected to life-support. They are no longer full languages in which you can talk about philosophy, politics, mathematics, art, etc. and in which you can express your deepest feelings (if they ever were allowed to reach that stage of evolution). I think Catalan is not a million miles from the situation of Breton. This is the whole point. I do not want Catalan to reach the point of no return. It is still, at this moment, a full language, one in which I can write philosophy in, one I can express complex feelings in, etc. But it is being hit hard, very hard. It is quite painful to watch really. So no, the comparison is not only wrong but it is seriously misleading. If Catalan were just a museum language like Breton then I would be the first to want to unplug its life-support system. Many people who arrive at Barcelona think “well, isn’t Catalan just like Breton? A language spoken by older people? A language that was nearly dead and is now being connected to life support? A language to be left to the Catalans to speak?”. No, it is not.

    And does the fact that Catalan is spoken by a few million people make a difference? No, not really. First of all, let’s not label Catalan a local language. It is a full rich language like Portuguese, French or Spanish. Portugal just got lucky to quickly become independent in time before Spanish nationalism took over, and Catalonia (or the Catalan-speaking areas) in this respect was less lucky. And the number of speakers is no different to the number of speakers of Danish or Finnish. Let’s draw the comparison with Finland then, not with Bretagne. No-one questions the fullness of the Finnish language, its status as a non-local language and its strong presence in its territory. Why label Catalan a local language? Just because it happens to not be an indpendent state?

    As to politicians creating more of a problem than they solve, this is typically so. I do not like how ERC acted when in government. Still, some politicinans have also been able to genuinely do positive things and have even helped in avoiding conflict instead of instigating it. So it is all quite relative. To go into this topic would make the website crash, as it is really a complicated and many-faceted issue that would take a lot of debating to really even start to see what it is about. It certainly is not a situation where all Catalan politicians are making the situation worse.

  231. matxil

    You´re making some good points, and yes, on lots of points we agree. I don´t have time to react to all of it now. A few things.
    It´s funny that you mention Finland, where it is basically accepted that Swedish has become a second official language.
    And yes, I agree that most Catalans readily switch to Spanish when necessary. But then again, most Catalans are not nationalist either.
    But your post certainly deserves a more full answer, which will come later.

  232. alex


    Ah, yes, you might be right regarding Finland, I went too quickly to use it as example just because of the size of the population and imagining it as Denmark, not so much with a good understanding of its linguistic particularities. I would like to look into this fact you mention. Maybe I should stick to my Denmark example, which I know better: A culture with the same number of speakers as in Catalonia and with a good literary and philosophical wealth written in the Danish language (Kierkegaard, Hans Christian Andersen), but with the difference that Denmark’s independence has protected the Danish language from being swept away. Which is not to say that I believe independence is the only solution to Catalonia. If Spain would allow a more federal type of state, then that could also work.

  233. Charles Ablett i Rocamora


    in Finland, where school drop out rate is 10% (In Catalonia it is 34% and in catalan public schools, i.e. discounting private and concertadas, nearly 50%) they have a BILINGUAL EDUCATION POLICY in every municipality with more than a 5% swedish-speaking population.

    I would like to believe that the majority of people, even in Catalonia, are Non-nationalist, a small minority are mildly nationalist, and a few are fervent nationalists such as the ones that Matxil described.

    In this respect nationalism is like religion, most people in Spain are officially catholic but in reality pay little or no attention to religion, barring a 1st communion or marriage. A small minority go to church every Sunday and only a radical few go to OPUS DEI extents.

    Using this as an example, Alex would appear to one of those who goes to mass, but on an infrequent basis, whereas Matxil and I are agnostic.

  234. matxil

    @Alex. Funny how, again, you switch example, as soon as one example does not fit. Of course, no example is correct. Catalonia is not Finland, not Denmark, not Paris and not Bretagne. It is Catalonia. The other examples serve just to show that various countries face the same reality: they contain a number of languages and cultures and somehow have to deal with that together. In Denmark, people will automatically speak English as soon as a foreigner is present, from a hot-dog seller on a town-square on to a physics professor at lunch. I am also pretty sure that Danish, as Dutch, is heavily influenced by (American) English nowadays. Coming to think of it, probably so is UK English? You haven’t convinced me about your worries of the changes in the Catalan language or that this language is any more threatened than Finnish, Danish or Dutch.

    A federal solution would seem to be the most realistic option, I agree with that.

    As for the waiter example, I see your point, but also the other way around happens: a tourist taking the effort to speak Spanish in a restaurant, and getting replied in Catalan. Silliness.

    In any case, let me state again, that in general I don’t really see a problem with Catalonia or the co-existence of Catalan and Spanish. It’s just that occasionally people turn it into a problem or a reason to be nasty. Nothing new and nothing special as this happens everywhere.

    @Charles. Probably Felipe would now say that we go to a Satanist church and just claim to be agnostic : )

  235. alex


    The analogy is interesting and certainly appealing at first sight, but does it hold? One problem that becomes immediately obvious to me is that it is rather an unfair analogy, as it presents someone in my position as someone who bases his or her thoughts and views on an irrational belief system whereas it presents the person who opposes such a position as someone who bases his or her thoughts on calm logic, rationality and evidence. A fairer analogy using religion would be for one position to be Christian and the other Islamic, and the different degrees of religious fanaticism would serve to describe the different degrees of each of the two positions. But still, the analogy would present both positions as being irrational and based on faith, when reality is much more complex and therefore would make this idea also unfair. To me someone like Eddie can come across in his posts as very agitated and fanatical about his views, and not open to rational debate. But is this fair? Maybe not, as I’m sure he also has his rational side and some evidence-based ideas and thoughts on this complex issue. So the effect happens both ways.

  236. alex


    I switch to the example that I believe best describes Catalonia. The same way that I am certain that Bretagne does not describe Catalonia at all, Denmark does seem to approximate it. Regarding Danes talking English, that’s the whole point. I would love it if Catalans would switch to English, our modern-day Latin, when talking to a tourist. The sad reality for me is that they switch to Spanish.

    Your point about finding silly a tourist taking the effort to speak in Spanish and being replied in Catalan, I think the silliness happens before receiving the reply, i.e. I think it is silly to see a tourist making an effort to speak Spanish in a Catalan city. Why not speak directly in English? If the tourist wants to make an effort then that effort should be in the language of the place, not in Spanish. If not, then let’s communicate in English, which is the language we have for tourism. Why assume Spanish is the language of the place you are visiting? You might not agree with the following analogy, but for me it is like going to Prague and making the effort to speak German at restaurants. Yes, German has been present in Prague to various degrees at different times and until recently (I don’t know what the present situation is), but I think that if an assumption is to be made on language in Prague, it is that of Czech. So my standard options are Czech and English when I go there. And if I want to make an “effort”, then I might learn a phrase or two in Czech.

    For me a tourist who boards a tourist bus, who orders a pizza, who speaks to the receptionist at a hotel has the same two standard options as in anywhere in Europe: either speak the language of the place where you are (Catalan) or speak what has become the common language of communication across Europe and the world (English). Any other options are special options which in a way require that both speakers agree to them. To me the problem is when tourists make the assumption that the two standard options in Barcelona are Spanish and English. To me their “efforts” to speak Spanish feel like an attitude of saying “I do not wish to acknowledge that the language here is Catalan and I wish to impose on you Spanish, just like Franco and others imposed it on you”. Of course I know that this is not their real attitude, this is only how it looks to me. The reality is simply lack of information on the Catalan reality.

  237. matxil

    @Alex I find your last reaction very intesting and I don’t agree with it all. Very curious. I could very well imagine my friend Felipe saying the same thing. And it bewilders me….

    Of course, a tourist in Barcelona would speak Spanish before English, when he wants to make an effort!!! (Come on, you know very well the extremely low level of English here! I think mentioning “U2”, is enough example of that). It bewilders me how you could expect / believe otherwise.

    And of course, in Czechia, you would speak German before English (as of course, it would be nice to learn how to say “thank you” and “please” in Czech too, obviously).
    Of course, when in Denmark (or Finland), if you can speak Swedish, you would use that before English. Even though the level of English is very high there, it is still lower than Swedish.

    Your comment denies (maybe because your own English of course is perfect) a simple truth: Spanish for most people here (Spanish or Catalan) is much much more closer than English. Any English word with a “v” in it, would not be understood by most Catalan people if not pronounced as a “b”, to give just one other tiny example. I already mentioned U2. Or take R.E.M. Well, to give a full list of examples, I basically would have to put the entire English dictionary here.

  238. Charles Ablett i Rocamora


    I think you clearly missed my point with my religion analogy.

    People can be fanatical catholics or fanatical protestants in the same way that people can be spanish nationalist or catalan nationalists.

    Your view is that one cannot be Non-nationalist in the same way that people cannot be non-religious. That is obviously not so.

    More and more people are realising that Nationalisnm is a moral sickness that eats away at the roots of our society, fomenting discrimination and imposing useless or counterproductive mores on people such as can be seen on Tele Madrid and also in the anecdote about the waiter.

    Be water, my friend! Let your soul rise above the petty restrictions and meaningless arguments that a nationalist mind-frame imposes.

  239. matxil

    I am still bewildered by your last reaction, because – in contrast with your previous posts – it is almost surreal.

    Is it really not known to you that Spanish is the third most used language on this planet? And so – obviously – a lot of tourists do speak at least a bit of it? And are they wrong in assuming that almost all Catalans understand Spanish very well? Whereas almost noone understands English? So, in what way a tourist speaking in Spanish instead of English is not making an effort in making communication easier? Or do you assume that tourists will learn Catalan, Czech, Danish, Finnish for all their two weeks holidays?

    Really bewildering…

  240. Eddie

    It is difficult for some people to accept that non-native speakers do not want to learn Catalan before Spanish.

    I know of some situations where an immigrant from a developing country might learn Catalan first, but that is only because they are trying to gain some ‘points’ in order to be more accepted into scoiety, as opposed to being treated like aliens (thieving, lying, benefit-sucking aliens at that!).

    The other situation might be someone who marries a Catalan speaking person and wants to gain ‘points’ with the family.

    Of course there is also the language-lover, who is fascinated by all languages.

    Other than that, pretty much everyone else thinks it is a waste of time, and a real pain in the ass, having to learn Catalan. This is what so many Catalan people (nationalists and even some non-nationalists) find so hard to deal with.

    The fact that the government has been promoting it so hard for the last 30-odd years, going against the grain of the natural progression, doesn’t make them feel any better!

  241. alex


    Point taken. Although it still means that by your analogy you are indirectly placing me in the religious field and placing yourself in the ratioal field, which is to what I object. And also it is not so much that I do not believe it is possible to be non-nationalist. What I state is that there are as many meaning associated to this word as you like to create. The same as with nationalist. Which is why I try to avoid both words and try to use instead a longer description of what my exact viewpoint is.

    I totally agree that some types of thought and behaviour that would fall into the category of a certain definition of the word nationalist are not good. Serbian nationalism, etc. And after reflecting on what you said in a previous post I can agree in with you that in the past years there has appeared a minority of people with this type of dangerous nationalism in the English sense of the word (I am referring to Plataforma per Catalunya). But it is a very small minority we are both on the same side in combatting against it, together with the vast majority of Catalans who are completely opposed to it.

  242. alex


    No, that’s the whole point: I do not expect people who come to visit for two weeks to learn Catalan. I expect them to use our modern-day Latin which is English. To use the fact of number of world speakers of Spanish as an argument for the use of Spanish is like using the number of Chinese world-speakers (which is higher than Spanish) as an argument for using Chinese with a waiter in Barcelona.

    The other thing I would expect if Catalonia were not so invisible to the outside world is that when they board the airplane if they are to buy a phrase book, for them to buy a Catalan phrase-book, not a Spanish phrase book. And I am referring now to people who speak not a word of Spanish and simply buy a phrase book as a gesture towards the land they are flying towards.

    The point you make about the assumption on the tourist’s part of Spanish being spoken by people in Barcelona, yes indeed, the assumption is correct. All Catalans know how to speak Spanish. But so do they also know how to speak English. So there is no reason why you should view the communicative situation where a tourist speaks bad Spanish to a Catalan who speaks good Spanish any superior (from a communicative point of view) to that of a tourist speaking good English to a Catalan who speaks (in the words case scenario) bad English. Both communicative situations have the same level of communicative effectiveness. Only that one of them, the one in which the tourist initiates conversation in Spanish feels to me like an imposition. (Let me be clear once again: it is not the tourist’s fault, as he knows no better. It is the fault of not having communicated properly Catalonia to the outside world).

  243. alex


    I have to stress once again that the strong presence of Catalan has little relation to what the government has done over the past 30 years. I can give you documents from the 1920’s to show you how Catalan was even more present at that time in society than now. If you find you do not like the strong presence of Catalan in today’s Barcelona, you would have absolutely loathed the even stronger presence of Catalan in the 1920’s. In those times you would have had a real difficulty in getting by without some basic knowledge of Catalan. Not due to any policies, as there were none. But due to the Catalan-speaking reality of Catalonia. My grandfather again is a good example. His Spanish was poor, his Catalan was perfect (and his French and English were quite good).

    Your point about non-native speakers not wanting to learn Catalan before learning Spanish does not really invalidate my standpoint. It would only have some meaning in those cases where someone has been forced to move to Barcelona for some reason or other. Let’s face it: The reason we live in one place or another depends essentially on the choices we make. We should take full responsibility for our choices. I know I will not move to Hungary because I have little interest in learning Hungarian, but on the other hand I would be willing to move to Denmark because Danish is a language that I would be willing to learn (imagine watching Dreyer films in the original). What makes no sense to me is someone arriving at Barcelona and then complaining that Catalan has a strong presence. It is as if I decide to move to Hungary and then complain that there is too much of a presence of Hungarian. This is not facing up to linguistic reality.

    The experiences of the poster called The Humanist are a clear example of this. He arrived at Barcelona with no idea that the language of Barcelona was Catalan. Thus from the moment of setting foot here he felt Catalan as an imposition on him. It did not match his expectatinons of Barcelona. In his imagination a life in Barcelona was a Spanish life, not a Catalan life. It is as if I go to live in Berlin and expect a French life instead of a German life. Well, I can have a French life in Berlin, but only if I close myself with some Frenchmen in some sort of ghetto. Again, it was not The Humanist’s fault. It is a consequence of the invisibility of Catalan reality at an international level. Maybe we should do more to project the image of Catalonia at an international level so people know about it before making the radical decision of moving here.

  244. Charles Ablett i Rocamora


    Curious, that you should consider a ‘religious’ person to be irrational whereas you consider a ‘nationalistic’ person to be rational.

    I believe that for someone to consider his nation as superior is as irrational as somebody considering his religion to be superior.

    I consider those who believe their nation to be the best as irrational as those who belong to Opus Dei and for exactly the same reasons.

    Get real; nationalism is a social sickness, and the patient called Catalonia is getting sicker. Arthur Mas’s insistence on treating Catalonia as an entirely separate entity from Catalonia is NOT helping to cure the fever.

    Nationalism, racism and religious sectarianism are different ways of discriminating against those who are DIFFERENT. Or rather, different excuses, the ways are usually the same.

  245. Charles Ablett i Rocamora

    Apologies for the evident error. It should have read:-

    Arthur Mas’s insistence on treating Catalonia as an entirely separate entity from SPAIN is NOT helping to cure the fever.

  246. matxil

    @Alex. Maybe your Catalan friends have English family, I don’t know. Most Catalan people I know understand at best a little bit of English, if any. There is no way they could understand someone from Liverpool, London or New York. I am really amazed that you state differently. It would be absolutely ridiculous to try to have a conversation in English with most people in Catalonia.

    On the other hand, your expectation that people from outside should learn phrases in Catalan for their holidays (as if that would be enough for a real conversation), seems – ironically – very much influenced by the Spanish attitude (or maybe in your case, the English) where it would be more reasonable to assume such a thing.
    Any Dutch, Danish or Swedish person knows very well that a tourist in their country does not speak their languages, and obviously would address them in English, German or French. In a city like Amsterdam you might even be lucky enough to get away with Spanish (I am sorry to say that Catalan would be useless there). It’s not a matter of imposing, it’s matter of looking for the most common denominator.

    So, I would suggest that Catalan people get more aware that they should compare themselves with the Dutch or the Danes, not with the English, the Spanish or the French as far as practicality of their language is concerned.

  247. matxil

    @Alex. I re-read what you said about Chinese and I realized you didn’t understand my example. The fact that Spanish is the third most spoken language in the world does not mean that Catalans should speak Spanish. It is however an argument that people from outside Catalonia are likely to know a bit of Spanish. (As indeed, there are also millions of people out there who speak Chinese.)

    The obvious difference between Chinese and Spanish, is that Catalans in general do not understand Chinese (even worse than English, I would say) whereas they do understand Spanish very well.

    Combining these two facts make for a simple conclusion that the most obvious language of communication in Catalonia for people from different countries is Spanish, not Catalan. Barcelona is the living proof of that.

  248. alex


    Here I must step in to make a very serious point, because my worst fears on your use of the word nationalism have been confirmed in your next to last post. You use the phrases “[people who] consider their nation superior” and “those who believe their nation to be the best” in reference to nationalists. Which leaves in no doubt whatsoever what your definition of the word nationalist is, which bears no relationship whatsoever to Catalan people who call themselves nationalist. All I can say is that according to the definition of nationalist you are giving us, there is next to ZERO percent Catalan nationalists in Catalonia. And I am sure you know it.

    This is why I have insisted so strongly on each of us showing our hands to indicate just what we mean each time we use labels like nationalist or non-nationalist. I have never considered Catalonia to be superior to Spain and I have never considered Catalonia to be better than Spain. And I do not know ANY Catalan who considers Catalanness or the Catalan language or the Catalan culture or his Catalan identity to be superior or better than any other nationality or identity. But I am sure you know this well enough.

    This is the dangerous game played by some people, where they tag someone with the word nationalist and then go on to define nationalist on their own terms. I insists: Catalanism is based mainly on rationality.

    And it is not Artur Mas who is treating Catalonia as a separate entity from Spain. It is us. And that includes those of us not involved whatsoever in politics and who do not vote (I cannot even vote, as I have British nationality).

  249. matxil

    @Alex, I won’t interfere with the rest of the discussion between Charles and you but one thing I do have to comment on. You say: “And I do not know ANY Catalan who considers Catalanness or the Catalan language or the Catalan culture or his Catalan identity to be superior or better than any other nationality or identity”.
    This, again, as with your statement of speaking English, makes me very curious about which Catalans do you know? Where do they live? Of every 10 Catalans I know, at least 5 certainly would think their language and culture is superior than the Spanish one. And I don’t even mind that really. It’s a natural sentiment. I certainly prefer Dutch above German, for instance. What I mind is that people expect me to feel the same about Catalan versus Spanish. As if I could expect you to feel the same about Dutch versus German. (Objectively, it would make much more sense to learn German than Dutch, don’t you think?)

  250. alex


    I must say this view on Spanish as the language to be used by foreigners in Barcelona based on the level of English of Catalan speakers is the first time I have encountered it. It is a bit surprising. To claim this for Turkey, where it is difficult to hold a conversation in English, yes. But Catalonia? Barcelona? Are we living in the same city? Are you claiming that the level of English of Catalans is so poor as to not to even be able to hold a conversation? I mean, let’s go out on the streets now and try your theory out, see how many people out of 100 random Catalans cannot hold a conversation in English. I mean, I would be intrigued if your theory was true. And I would be worried. And no, most of my friends are Catalans who have been born and raised here of Catalan or Spanish parents. I must say I can think of one or two exceptions, of people I know who cannot hold a conversation in English, but they are more the exception than the rule. And it is also true that your English, like that of most Dutch people I know, is excellent, and any comparison with your level of English would render the level of English of many Catalan people laughable. But to claim the level of English of Catalans does not allow even for the most basic of tourist conversations has surprised me deeply. In any case I have always thought there should be more presence of English. Maybe less Spanish classes and more English classes at school?

    I did understand what you were saying about Spanish when I replied about Chinese. My point was that following this logic, then you could expect foreigners to want to use Chinese on other people. Maybe it was a bit of a convoluted example that does not stand, but in other words I meant that the fact that some foreigners might know some Spanish does not validate the idea of using it in Barcelona instead of English. Imagine for a moment the picture of a foreigner who does not know Spanish but does know English. If he buys a phrase-book at the airport (and let me doubly stress the word “if”) then in most cases, if not in all cases, he buys the Spanish phrase-book. Why does he do that? Actually I know the answer.

  251. matxil

    I did not mean for my comments to sound arrogant, as some sort of showing off of my English. I was and am just surprised by what you are saying. We certainly have completely different experiences here.

    I would put my hand in the fire, that if you would ask 100 persons in the street, at random, what they would prefer, English or Spanish, 95% would say Spanish. Maybe some radical Catalans would say English just for the sake of it, but they would most definitely speak a damn sight better Spanish. I don’t see the point in arguing about this, really.

    Turists would buy the Spanish phrasebook because they could use the same book next week in Madrid and next year in Mexico.

  252. alex


    Regarding the point you made about Catalans who feel their culture and language to be superior to Spanish. I am speechless. 5 out of 10 Catalans feel Catalan language and culture to be superior to Spanish language and culture? Now it is my turn to ask you what Catalans you know. I am now really curious to meet them. All I can say is any thoughts of one culture being superior to another is not at a very high level of intelligence or understanding on what culture and language are. The German language allows you to express some things that French does not allow you to express, and vice versa. If you take good and bad things from French culture and then good and bad things from German culture, then the add up to approximately the same value. What I stress is difference, and richness in this difference. In the same way you can have a group of friends, each with a different personality, and you would never claim that one is a superior or better human being than another, the same goes for culture and language. That’s why I like different cultures so much. Each one is different in its own very way and each one is absolutely great. But I include Catalan language and culture within this equal ranking of languages and cultures. Never in my wildest dream have I imagined Catalan to be superior to any other language. It is different, in a completely neutral way. Catalan means something to me only for the fact that it is close to me, that it is somehow inside me. Not because I prefer it to any other language.

    The idea of people feeling their nation superior to another or better to another only brings into mind either underdeveloped societies or intellectuallyl underdeveloped people in modern societies. No more than that. I

  253. matxil

    The problem with these discussions is they get a bit black/white sometimes. When I meant superior I didn’t mean that 5 out of 10 Catalans are racist bigots. I just meant that they prefer their own culture even when willing to recognize that other cultures (even the Spanish… even the French) have some things going for them.
    We can go all terribly PC about this, but I think most people have these preferences. The English jokes about the French are famous. Portugese think that Spanish are loud, the Spanish think Catalans are cold and the Catalans think the French are arrogant. All this in more or less good nature, and nothing wrong with it as such.

    Your surprise surprises me. I only have to think back on last year when Spain won the world cup and how many Catalans were absolutely disgusted by it, going as far as being in favour of the absolutely terrible Dutch team. “I am not Spanish!” I remember one girl saying with a face of absolute disgust. And I don’t think Felipe would mind me for saying he is another example of someone who thinks that combining the two words “Spanish” and “culture” make a perfect oxymoron.

  254. Charles Ablett i Rocamora


    ever hear the catalan expression:- ‘you need to know spanish in order to talk to the servants?’

    In the last three decades, school dropout for those children with spanish-speaking parents has doubled whist the dropout rate for children whose both parents are native catalan speakers has reduced sharply.

    During the dark Franco years the major issue facing catalans was to reintroduce catalan into schools; now it appears that the major issue is keeping spanish out of schools. All this has contributed to create a growing socioeconomic divide between successful young adults and their under-acheiving spanish-speaking peers. This is a well-trodden route to segregation, class differences, ghettos and civil strife.

    This increasing disenfranchisement of 2nd generation immigrants from other parts of Spain only increases the absurd catalan sense of superiority.

    Also, please do not try to confuse catalinism with nationalism with seperatism. Sóc català i catalinista. I love the catalan language and culture. Very simply, I do not want it to be FORCED on anybody.

  255. alex

    No, I believe I understood perfectly what you meant when talking about the 5 out of 10 Catalans. I just cannot agree. And not because of any political correctness. I understood very well that you meant the same type of disdain some English people have toward the French. But this is the point. I personally do not associate with people who have this view of culture and language, which is maybe why my circle of friends is not like this. It is just is too primitive. When I meet an Englishman who does not admire French and German culture, language and people I cannot help but feeling this person has not evolved intellectually or needs to go out and live in other countries for some time until he understands that all cultures are different in a neutral way, much the same way all species of animals are different and all of them are fascinating. I personally expect more from people than this nineteenth-century idea of superior nations, so I guess I don’t really click with someone who shows such way of thinking. I know this way of thinking existed extensively in times like the First World War, where the French really did think themselves superior to the Germans and vice-versa, and in many moments in history. And of course in the extreme case of Nazi Germany. But nowadays who do you know who thinks like this except a few flag-waving English football fans? I mean who really thinks like this nowadays.

    And that is not the same as saying that you do not like a particular trait of a given nationality, such as saying that Ecuatorians are too loud. Because their loudness is compensated by millions of other things they have, such as excellent food and music and so on. And the trait of loudness itself is something you would possibly come to appreciate in the long term if you mixed with them for long enough. I always say that the Germans are very square-minded or literal-minded, but that is only one trait that I personally find limiting but that on the other hand is compensated by absolutely brilliant things that they have and that Catalans and French do not have, such as a capacity for absolute error-free precision in work. Or for instance I do not like the British dislike of the food ritual, but I absolutely love their fair-game and honest way of dealing in certain situations. So a set of not so good traits are always compensated by a set of very good traits.

    So no, I don’t think a characteristic of Catalanism is feeling superior to any other nationality. And even less the idea of imagining that our language is better than any other (how can a language be better?) or that our culture is better (in what sense better? better works of art? how can you compare?). Actually most Catalans I know absolutely adore Goya, Picasso, García Lorca, Garcilaso, etc. as much as I do. That does not mean they do not love also Kant, Goethe, etc. and Dalí, Miró, Ausiàs March, etc. That’s the point. Each evolved culture has incredible works of art and incredible languages. Each and every one of them. All of them different, none superior, none better.

  256. alex


    Ok, then we can agree with the use of catalanism to refer to the thought-process of the majority of Catalans, not nationalism. I think if you can agree to a statement to the effect that most Catalans are catalanist, not nationalist, then we are in agreement, or at least do not find ourselves again with the problem of different definitions for the word “nationalist”, as catalanism has a clear meaning.

    As to schooling, what is your solution? I believe Catalonia made a very good decision in creating a schooling system that integrated people rather than segregated them. In the Basque Country you have a segregated system, meaning Basque-speaking schools and Spanish-speaking schools. And as a direct consequence you have violence. In Northern Ireland you have a segregation of Catholic schools and Protestant schools. As a consequence you have violent conflict. I may be simplifying the picture, but is this not essentially true? Has not this Catalan model of school where everyone learns Catalan at an early age the best basis for an integrated society? The figures you give might be correct, but not your interpretation of them (have you considered that the social background of the generation of people who arrived here from the South is part of their difficulty with schooling?).

    I personally believe in introducing more English as a priority. Not more Spanish.

  257. alex

    I might take a short break from posting, at least one or two days, as it is really keeping me back from my work. It is just so addictive, I cannot help myself at times. So if I do not reply to your next series of posts it is simply that I am taking a short break (also from reading them, as the moment I read them my mind starts pondering all these thought-provoking questions and reacting to all these different points of view, some of them quite new to me).

  258. Charles


    You are completely wrong.

    Public schools in Northern Ireland are neither catholic nor protestant nor segregated. In some areas, the communities are segregasted and as a result, local schools reflect the demographic mix. That’s all.

    Northern Ireland is not seperated by religion but by history. The protestants are seen as the descendants of the english invaders and the catholics are seen as newly arrived ignorant southerners.

    There is a CLEAR parallel to be found in Catalonia. Some despise the spanish-speakers as being ‘colons’ and ‘invasors’; some despise the andalusians for being recently arrived uneducated immigrants.

    In the Basque country the (Nationalist!) PNV government created schools teaching only in basque and others that were mixed-language schools. That way ALL parents had their personal choices respected. Violence was extremely high when spanish was imposed on all basques and has been in constant DECLINE since the creation of the multi-language schooling option.


    The Spanish Constitution does not allow the catalan educational system to exclude spanish as a teaching language. The Supreme court has ruled that spanish and catalan should be used in equal measures.

    EVEN the catalan Linguistic Law recognises this:-
    “Els infants tenen dret a rebre el primer ensenyament en llur llengua habitual, ja sigui aquesta el català o el castellà. L’Administració ha de garantir aquest dret i posar els mitjans necessaris per a fer-lo efectiu.”
    – LLEI DE POLÍTICA LINGÜÍSTICA, Article 21.2, 1.998

    Whenever a foreign language is imposed on children, their education suffers. In the words of a catalanist (referring to education under Franco):-
    “Se tortura a nuestros niños durante los primeros años de escuela aprendiendo en una lengua que no es la materna”. – Josep Benet, Senador català, “Combat per una Catalunya autònoma”

    As for the interpretation of the PISA report, I quote:-
    “Existe una diferencia muy sustancial entre el rendimiento de los alumnos castellanohablantes y catalanoparlantes. Sus tasas de fracaso escolar son notablemente distintas: 42,62% y 18,58% respectivamente. La utilización del catalán como lengua única en la enseñanza perjudica a los alumnos castellanohablantes.”
    – Convivencia Cívica Catalana, datos del INFORME PISA 2003

    I rest my case!

  259. Eddie

    As long as the Catalan language is an ‘endangered’ species (ie. until it disappears), the Catalanists will feel 100% justified in forcing it upon everyone and the Spanish speakers will continue to be ignored in this part of Spain.

    Personally I find this blatent denial of Catalunya’s current status as part of Spain, and the pathetic attempt to make MILLIONS of people speak a language that they obviously don’t want to speak, a very negative situation that we could all do without.

    Until people see that political nationalism is detrimental to society, then I don’t see the situation getting much better.

    I would like to see an anti-nationalist campaign set up here – independent from any political party. It is something that I am sure hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of people would be interested in. There is a large silent majority in this part of Spain who just need to be encouraged to raise their voices.

  260. matxil

    @Eddie, you sound pretty much as a radical Catalinist, only with the words Catalan and Spanish interchanged. Obviously, for most people, millions, this whole debate nationalist/anti-nationalist is just a big pain in the butt and they’d rather not hear more about it. They’d rather have a decent job, a decent salary and a decent home.

  261. Charles


    I agree entirely. Catalan politicians spent SEVEN years discussing the detailed aspects of the infamous Estatut and putting together an immense amount of work into protecting (or over-protecting, or imposing, choose the word you prefer) the catalan language and culture in all spheres of life.

    Examples:- Comerce Law, Cinema Law, New linguistic Law, Education Law, Reception of Immigrants Law, the censorship board (CAC), the Aranese Law, useless embassies around the world, the Bullfighting Law and many, many others.

    Result:- Economic collapse, Catalan debt rated as near-junk by Moodys, nearly 20% unemployment, huge school failure rate, flight of both capital and businesses to less taxing and more liberal regions and so on.

    Politicians are STILL failing Catalonia, talking about the Right to Decide Law, the ‘Referendum’ tomorrow, and so on.

  262. Eddie


    I don’t agree I’m afraid.

    I think that there are, at the very least, hundreds of thousands of people here that don’t like the nationalist policies here – especially concerning the immersion of the Catalan language in every aspect of their lives.

    They are silent for various reasons: fear of predjudice in their workplace and their social lives, a feeling of hopelessness against the momentum of nationalism, not wanting to attract attention to themselves as being against the ‘popular’ feeling etc. etc.

    Any debate becomes tiresome when one side is constantly being ignored.

    Again, just my opinion!

  263. Eddie

    Just for the record, I am not a Spanish nationlist or a Catalan nationalist, and I don’t care for the accusation – please feel free to justify it though.

    I would simply like to see the Spanish language, and the non-nationalists, more fairly represented in this part of Spain.

  264. matxil

    @Charles. True, but I am not sure also Spain is to blame. I mean, Spain is in an equally terrible situation. As a matter of fact, Catalan independentists (if that’s a word) would claim that Madrid is to blame for the bad economic situation here. And partly that’s true, because obviously neither PP nor PSOE have anticipated this crisis and even less taken measures to prevent it. Also, I have never really seen a clear picture of who has debts with whom, but apparantly Catalonia pays an unequal amount of taxes and receives an unequal amount back (even allowing for the noble principle that who has more, pays more).

  265. Eddie

    Ironically, I don’t think any of the nationalist politicians really want independence. They enjoy their postion as a big fish in a small pond.

  266. Eddie

    I enjoy watching all the fuss about independence for Catalonia. I hope one day it gets its independence just to see what the Catalanistas will complain about then.

    It is at the stage now where there are more people in other parts of Spain that want independence for Catalonia than there are actually inside Catalonia.

    If it ever happens I hope FC Barcelona are told to play in their own little Catalan league. Actually, that is probably what the Catalanistas will complain about!

  267. alex

    Hi, I’m back from a much-needed rest from this debate.
    I will post some brief replies and try to not get too absorbed again in the debate, as it really is time-consuming and energy-draining.

  268. alex


    I think you fail to realise your own “nationalist” position. By stating things like “this blatent [sic] denial of Catalunya’s current status as part of Spain” and “I would simply like to see the Spanish language […] more fairly represented in this part of Spain” you are stating very strong Spanish nationalist views, i.e. you seem to firmly believe that the fact that Catalonia is at this moment in history part of the state called Spain implies that Catalonia should be Spanish-speaking or that Spanish should have a very strong presence. And you state it in a tone as to say that it was a matter of fact, as if you could not go beyond a simplistic conception of one state = one language. Allow me just two counter-examples to this simplistic view.

    I lived in Switzerland for four months during a project. I can assure you that although Switzerland is only a single country, it what we could term as language zones. In other words, in Geneva and Lausanne you will only hear French and all signs will be in French and all waiters will speak to you in French, whereas in Zurich and Basel you will hear only German and all signs will be in German, and all waiters will talk to you in German. I would like to see you go to Geneva and campaign for a stronger presence of German there. Well, after all, I mean, we are in Switzerland! You Genevans should all be speaking, well, er… Swiss! I would like to impose Swiss on you. And what about Canada? You have one zone that speaks mainly French and another zone that speaks mainly English? Do you see anyone campaigning for more presence of… er.. Canadian? Will I see you anytime soon going to Montreal to campaign for a stronger presence of English there?

    You are simply mistaking the name of the country, Spain, with ONE of the languages that are spoken in its present territory, namely Spanish. Spain is not more that a multinational and multilingual state, meaning a state under which the Spanish, Basque and Catalan nations and languages flourish. Each in their own territory. Let us Catalans live our Catalan life in our Catalan language. If that is not possible, then well, maybe independece IS the only option, I don’t know. What is certain is that strong Spanish nationalist views like yours give us no other option.

    After disconnecting from the forum for one whole week I was expecting at some intelligent replies to my position from you, Eddie, so it has been a real let-down to see that how your argumentation apparently cannot go beyond the simplistic “You in Spain, you speak Spanish! You speak Spanish or I get angry!”. My previous posts to you seem to me now like a pure waste of time and effort.

  269. alex


    I appreciate your detailed reply to my points. The precise data you give I am in no doubt that it is correct. I don’t have the time to look into each fact, but I have no reason to suspect them being wrong. However, what I find misleading in many of your posts is your own personal spin on the data. You seem to have a theory and then are quick to find an interpretation of the data that fits this theory or ideology. It reminds me a little of how strong ideaologies used to operate, such as communism, where it was always possible to select and present real true data in such a way as to convey a communist story.

    In your recent post to Matxil you once again seem to use this technique of creating a cause and effect relationship out of unrelated data. You give a list of facts that you put under the heading “Examples” and then give a list facts that you place under the heading “Results”, as if saying that the facts from the “Results” are a direct consequence from the facts from the “Examples”. Someone with no knowledge of Catalonia but who is interested in knowing if what you are saying is true, might fall into the trap of only checking the truth value of your facts. What they would be missing is the essential information that although the facts themselves might be true, there is no causal relationship whatsoever between one list of facts and the other list of facts.

  270. alex


    “this whole debate nationalist/anti-nationalist is just a big pain in the butt”

    I totally agree. But bear in mind that it is just as much a “pain in the butt” to Catalanists or concerned Catalans as it is to people not involved / not interested one way or another. I would be really happy if one day the Catalan “problem” was solved so as to stop having to debate about Catalanism and about the Catalan language. For it to finally become once again a normal culture and language where there is no need to talk about it.

  271. alex


    “I hope one day it gets its independence just to see what the Catalanistas will complain about then.”

    That’s one of the points you fail to understand. The moment Catalonia obtains independence there will be no Catalanists. Catalanism only appeared (in the ninteenth century) to solve an unjust situation where the language and culture were being supressed. I am the first to wish Catalanism to disappear, as it will mean that Catalan culture and language will be once again in a stable situation.

    And yes, I would love a Catalan football team and a Catalan league. Although I do not care much for football anyway.

  272. Charles


    yet AGAIN you confound Catalanism with Nationalism with Separatism.

    I am a Catalanist, but I am NOT a Nationalist and I firmly believe that an Independent Catalonia would be as successful as Kosovo is proving to be.

    Catalonia has been part of Spain since 1452 and part of the Aragonese crown for the prior 300 years. In 1213 (IIRC) was fought the battle of Navas de Tolosa, where the three (yes, three) spanish kings fought together against the moors.

    You see, Catalonia has formed part of Hispania (Spain) ever since the Cathaginians were thown out, and Catalonia will ALWAYS be part of Spain no matter HOW much independence it eventually acheives.

  273. Charles


    (by the way, in an independent Catalonia, how are you going to FORCE the 55% of the population that is NOT native catalan-speaking to accept the crushing of their native tongue?)

  274. Eddie

    …round and round and round we go…

    With regards to the Catalan language immersion policy –

    What is the point in teaching Spanish-speaking children Catalan if the result is a resentment towards it?

    That 40% of the university entrance exam is purely languages is ridiculous, and unfair when compared to the rest of Spain.

    From an outsiders view, it seems that millions of people are being forced to learn a near useless language in order to prolong its inevitable death.

    It is a very similar situation in Ireland, although when the dominant language is English instead of Spanish it seems even more ridiculous.

    One thing that is the same is the resentment millions of people have towards a language that would otherwise be respected.

  275. Charles Ablett i Rocamora


    please do not misunderstand me; I believe that all of us who live in Catalonia SHOULD KNOW the catalan language, just as they should know the spanish language. This coincides with what the TC corrected version of the Statute says.

    However, the language that a person CHOOSES to use his his and his alone and should not be imposed by the government. Catalan SHOULD be used JOINTLY WITH SPANISH in schools as a vehicular language, and if we can get some subjects, eg, science, taught in english then we are are going places. Isn’t that multilingual education PRECISELY the one that the rich and powerful, such as Artur Mas and Montilla, CHOOSE for their children?

    Why is it considered ANTI-CATALAN to want the SAME education as our Presidents of Catalunya want for their children?

  276. Eddie


    I agree with you that Catalan should be taught in schools, but I think making it compulsory beyond ESO level is unnecessary.

    I also agree with you that teaching all subjects in Catalan is unfair.

  277. alex


    “What is the point in teaching Spanish-speaking children Catalan if the result is a resentment towards it?”
    Only a minority have a resentment towards it. Of course, lately the Spanish campaigns from Madrid are helping to increase the number, but it is still a minority. People are intelligent enough to understand that if they are in Catalonia they will inevitably end up being Catalan, which implies learning Catalan. There is nothing intrinsic about being a Spanish-speaker. It is not like religion. A Spanish-speaker becomes a Catalan speaker if he decides to stay long enough here. Or that is how it should be, as you do find people who ghettoise themselves.

    “a near useless language”
    Languages are not measured by their utility. Each language is a whole conceptual world which you cannot access unless you learn that specific language. The reason you learn a language is in order to become part of a given society, i.e. when moving to Denmark you learn Danish to become part of the Danish fabric of society or you choose not to learn Danish if you want to remain an outsider. Or because you like the language, or because you want to be able to access the culture behind that language. Some languages you do learn for their utility, such as English, French, German and Chinese. All other langugages you tend to learn for the reasons I have mentioned.

    “in order to prolong its inevitable death”
    There is nothing inevitable about the death of Catalan, just as there was nothing inevitable in the death of the Dodo. If it does die it will be via specific anihilation policies on the part of the Spanish government. It is not a natural path for Catalan. You can exterminate a language, but a language will not disappear on its own. Globalisation and the strong presence of English is not in any way a threat to any minority language such as Dutch, Danish and Catalan. They will continue to live. Except if it is decided to create a policy of eliminating it. If I did not expect the Catalan language to continue to live on for centuries I would not spend time debating this issue. I have many interests and would prefer not to have to dedicate a single mintue to protecting Catalan and to explaining Catalan to other people. In other words, I would like a stable situation where Catalan is no longer in danger from a Spanish-centered policy.

    “It is a very similar situation in Ireland”
    No, it is not. Irish, like Breton, is dead. I will not go into the reasons for its death, but in any case let’s not compare the dead with the living. Catalan is alive. It is not alive and well, but it is alive. Any comparison with Breton or Irish just points towards a deep misunderstanding on what Catalan is. Just to give you an example, can you find me the words of Nietzche, Goethe, Shakespeare, Musil, Diderot, etc in Breton or Irish? On the other hand you will find all great philosophers and writers translated into Catalan. No, not recently translated. Translated decades ago, a century ago.

    “unfair when compared to the rest of Spain”
    Again, visualising Catalonia as an instrinsic part of Spain. I cannot agree in this way of seeing it. Whatever exams the Spanish have I don’t really care, just as I don’t care what exams the Italians have. The exams should be valued on their own terms. You should analyse whether the exams are correct on their own merits.

  278. Eddie


    Just as you are Catalan, you are also Spanish. Some people would say that you are lucky to be both.

    Look at your passport. Look at your ID card. Try and deal with reality please.

  279. alex


    That’s interesting. I am looking at my British passport and my NIE residence card and I don’t see anywhere where it states that I am Spanish. As I already explained in this forum, I have no Spanish identity card, only British passport and a residency card that allows me to work here. My only official nationalities are British and Australian. But official nationalities are absurd, as you can see for the fact that I hold an Australian passport without having ever lived there. And the only reason I hold a British passport and British nationality is because I was born in Britain (without actually living for long periods of time in Britain).

    So tell me, what better arguments do you have for my supposed Spanishness?

  280. alex

    The short answer to how long I have lived in Catalonia is just about all my life.

    My mother is English-speaking (born in Australia from Russian parents) and my father is Catalan-speaking (born in Barcelona) and I was born in Britain just by pure chance, without actually staying there.

    A longer and more precise answer is that I was born in Britain, spent a short time in Barcelona, then we all went back to Britain until age 4, which is when we settled finally in Barcelona. From age 8 I continued schooling in Barcelona but spent my holidays in England (my parents separated then), meaning I spent about 5 months a year in England and the rest in Barcelona. I have always spoken Catalan with my father and my father’s side of the family, and English with my mother and my mother’s side of the family.

    My adult life I have spent in various countries apart from Barcelona. My official nationalities have always remained the same: I am officially British because by chance I was born in Britain and I am officially Australian because I have the right to Australian citizenship due to my mother’s Australian citizenship. I have no need and certainly no desire for Spanish citizenship. I feel European and international, I am well-travelled and can speak a fair amount of languages. Has my experience abroad make me feel less Catalan? On the contrary: it has proved to me that I am actually Catalan, no matter what my passports and official documents state. As a teenager I used to believe that I was British just because I was officially British, but then my attempt at living in what I thought was “my” country proved to me that I was culturally not British at all. I was light-years away from Britishness. But I am also quite far away from Spanishness. I don’t feel at home amongst Spanish people. It’s a fact.

  281. Charles


    my case is similar; my father was welsh (his mother was french), my mother catalan. I was born in the Uk, my younger sister in Barcelona. I have a british passport and have never felt any desire to change it for a spanish one, despite the fact that I have been living here for 20 years.

    So, according to spanish law, ALL persons registered as living in Catalonia are catalan citizens.

    MOST catalan citizens, but not all, have spanish nationality.

    However, all registered catalan citizens live in Spain and are governed by spanish and European law. Regional and local governments are part and parcel of the spanish administration, which means their laws are ALSO spanish laws, even if they only affect people living in Catalonia.

    So the catalan parliament and institutions are merely a (devolved and subordinated) part of the spanish administration.

  282. Eddie

    As you know, the majority of people living in Catalonia are officially both Catalan and Spanish. They have a Spanish passport and ID card. They speak both Catalan and Spanish.

    A very large percentage of these people have parents from other parts of Spain. More than half of the population of Catalonia prefer to speak Spanish as it is their mother tongue. I think these people would say they are Spanish. In fact, almost all Catalan-speaking people born and raised here would also admit they are Spanish, though perhaps some more reluctantly than others.

    So, despite the fact that you (Alex) don’t feel Spanish – in actual fact you are neither Spanish or Catalan – we can say that the majority of people living here are Spanish, speak Spanish and feel Spanish, and are perfectly happy with that fact. Therefore, in my opinion they should be recognised and taken into account when deciding such things as language policies for education.

  283. alex

    I think it is obvious that as a Catalan I know all this information and probably at a much deeper level than you do.

    I know perfectly well that people here officially are Spanish, but I think I made clear how officiality bears no relation whatsoever with identity, such as my being officially half Australian and half British does not make Australianness or Britishness appear in my behaviour. Identity is constructed through integration within a given society. The place where you grow up determines your way of being and thinking. In my case it was an integration with Catalan society, not Spanish society. Which is why I feel at home amongst Catalan people (people who have Catalan as their native language and are behaviourally Catalan), but not amognst Spanish people (people who have Spanish as their native language and are behaviourally Spanish). Whatever other identities I add to this are of my own choosing, such as when I went to live in Germany and made an effort to be German.

    I am also perfectly aware that many Catalans are of Spanish parents, but that does not subtract from their Catalaness, the same way my mother’s identity does not subtract from my own Catalan identity.

    I cannot believe you are really saying that a piece of paper saying that I am Australian transforms my innter being somehow into an Australian way of behaving and thinking, if that’s what you are saying. When you say that I am neither Spanish or Catalan just because I have no piece of official paper stating this seems almost comical. It’s like saying that by manipulating pieces of paper you manipulate identity. Pure science fiction.

  284. Eddie


    All this information about your own personal life is fascinating, but I feel you are avoiding my point which is about the millions of people in Catalonia who feel Spanish and who have no problem with admitting it.

    How can I have a conversation with you when you cannot even bring yourself to type the sentence ‘I have lived in Spain for ……’

    I refer you to my earlier question –

    ‘How long have you lived in Spain?’

    to which you answered

    ‘The short answer to how long I have lived in Catalonia is just about all my life.’

    If the name ‘Spain’ is just an official term to which you place no importance, why do you have such difficulty saying it?

  285. alex

    I can ask you the same: Why your insistence on the word “Spain” when using “Catalonia” describes much better my background. Again an obsession with officiality? Of course I can use the word Spain, but it was obvious you were being provocative with your insistence on the word, so I replied with my view that I am culturally in an area we can call Catalonia.

    And I am not avoiding any point. Of course there are people in Catalonia who feel Spanish. The question should rather be: Why have some people not integrated into the Catalan fabric of society? Why have some people of Spanish origin not “become” Catalan in due course? Why have some people not gone through the natural process of becoming part of the society where they landed in, in the same way a Briton who decides to live in Holland will somehow become Dutch? The answer is rather long and complicated and it is related to Francoist policies and other Spanish nationalist policies which would take up a lot of space. But the fact that some people live in a Spanish ghetto outside Catalan society does not change the fact that they are living within Catalan culture and society. It’s the same with some of the Bangladeshi and Chinese people in England who refuse to learn English. They live there but in their own bubble. In your case you have decided to join the equivalent of the Bangladeshi bubble and live outside Catalan society. I am exaggerating with my example, obviously, but not in the basic idea. You have people like the writer Matthew Tree who arrived with an open mind and became part of Catalan society, and then we have people like you, who seem to have arrived with a closed and preconceived idea of what Barcelona should be, not what it actually is, and try to impose Spanishness on us (ironic that it is a non-Spaniard the one trying to impose Spanishness on us).

  286. alex


    Yes, I do believe it is possible to feel both Spanish and Catalan. And I do believe there are such people who feel both Spanish and Catalan. In the same way there are such people who feel only Catalan.

  287. Eddie



    So we agree that it is possible for a person to be (officially!), feel and speak both Spanish and Catalan.

    I think we are making progress!

  288. alex


    I’ve always known it to be the case that some people (a minority?) feel just as Catalan as Spanish. It is possible to feel just as Catalan as Spanish just in the same way someone who is half-French half-German and has lived in both French and German cultures might feel just as German as French. More an exception than the rule, as most people you will encounter will feel that they are mainly Catalan or mainly Spanish, or exclusively Catalan or excusively Spanish.

    In my case I do not have this half-Catalan, half Spanish feeling. If anything, I would have to feel half-Catalan, half-English. Although I would say I feel (I am) 80% Catalan, 20% English, 0% Spanish (ok, who knows, maybe 1% Spanish, as something from Spanish culture may have impregnated me).

  289. alex


    Of course, the way you put the question there can only be one answer: It would definitely be an advantage to be/feel/speak (as a native speaker I assume you mean) both Spanish and Catalan. Although I don’t think that is a realistic idea. You cannot order someone to feel both Spanish and Catalan or place some policy that allows them to attain native-language level in both languages. Usually the combination of feeling Catalan and speaking Catalan at a native level is the result of being brought up within a Catalan environment. The same for Spanish, German or French. You “become” French at a linguistic level and at a behavioural / thought-process level by growing up amongst French people. You can then later learn other languages and choose to try to become part of another culture if you so desire. But you have to want it very much to be successful at it. The problem, the way I see it, is how this Catalan environment that is supposed to be Catalonia is being decimated, so that it becomes difficult to “live a Catalan life”, as I would put it. And it does not help that visitors from abroad come to Barcelona with the intention of living a Spanish life instead of a Catalan life. That is one of the problems of mistaking officiality and reality: Since officially Catalonia is a region of Spain, some people assume that this makes Catalonia culturally Spanish to some degree. It does not.

    So going back to the question again, people with a perfect Catalan/Spanish balance seem to be more the exception than the rule. Another matter is being able to speak both Catalan and Spanish. All people in Catalonia are able to speak Spanish and most people are able to speak Catalan (unfortunately not all people are able to). But being able to speak a language is not the same as feeling at home with a language or liking a language. So it would be an advantage, but it is as unrealistic as attempting to create a territory with people who feel both as German and French, and speak both languages at a native-level.

    My view is that Catalan, like all languages, needs its protected environment. Dutch has a protected environment, even though Matxil might not be aware of it. And people who come to live in Catalonia should make the decision based on how predisposed they are to living submerged within the Catalan experience (language + culture). To come to Barcelona with the express intent of living a Spanish experience to me feels like an imposition of Spanish on us.

  290. Eddie


    I am not concerned about people who feel an exact 50/50 balance between Spanish and Catalan. As you say, most people would feel slightly more one or the other depending on so many factors; life history, parenting, language etc.

    However, I think you underestimate the number of people who would say they are both Spanish and Catalan – regardless of the percentages! Even you have said you are not 100% Catalan although you deny any Spanish influence.

    In my experience here – and I have lived here for a long time – there are millions of people here who are both Spanish and Catalan. Some of these people will say they are in some way a bit more one or the other. The majority of them have the advantage of avoiding predjudice.

    Past battles have been won and lost. The situation Catalonia finds itself in now is NOT one of an independent country. Even if it were it would still have some responsibility to promote its now modern, multicultural society. How many people living in Catalonia now can say they are 100% Catalan?

    There are some great things about Catalonia and being Catalan and these do not need ANY promotion. The Sagrada Familia needs no advertising. Pan con tomate needs no hard marketing! The fact is that the less popular things about Catalan culture will have more difficulty surviving. That is the way of the world. Tighten your grip and they may slip away even faster.

    I feel that any responsible government would promote the idea of being both Spanish and Catalan. Both cultures deserve respect and recognition. There should be posters and campaigns all over Catalonia encouraging respect and the image of dual-nationality, so people can see that it is something to be proud of and not something to be ashamed of.

  291. Charles Ablett i Rocamora


    right on the button yet again. I feel a good deal more catalan than spanish, but heaven forbid that I try to impose on anybody the obligation to love all things catalan. Love cannot be imposed, nor can a culture be imposed. Cultures must cohabit with other cultures, otherwise it’s not culture at all. I prefer sardanas to sevillanas, but other citizens feel differently. Viva la multiculturidad i el multilingüisme!

  292. meteo

    I have been out of the debate for a long time.
    Don’t have had the time to read everything. I’m Sorry.
    Three points:
    1) Lately I have decided to deny that catalanists are nationalists (hehehe)
    They can’t: as Catalonia is not a nation but a region, the fact of supporting Catalonia is not nationalism but regionalism.
    2) In my opinion, being a perfect non-nationalist is probably as possible as avoiding every desire, and when you achieve it you probably become the Buddha, also. I perhaps have said that everyone is a nationalist. I didn’t mean exactly this; I meant that everybody is nationalist in some degree. It can be a very little degree, indeed. As little as to don’t feel any nation as theirs, but agreeing somehow with other people belonging to something named “nation”.
    3) I completely agree with Matxil about cultures being a changing matter. That doesn’t mean you cannot support them, though. You can support Barça despite it’s changing every year. Everything changes all the time. Cultures too. You could also say that it’s stupid being a communist because the working class is changing all the time, or you cannot be an ecologist because the ecological balance is changing all the time…

    Well, I will read a little more of the debate some day.

  293. matxil

    As a matter of fact, the fact that the working class is changing all the time, seems to me a perfect argument against communism. Fighting for the rights of a bunch of right-wing populists who want two cars and three holiday trips a year (Ibiza, Paris and skiiig in the alpes), which is what 85 of the working class is all about, is a bit silly, isn´t it?

  294. matxil

    @Felipe Funny how on another part of this blog you comment the following:

    “Life, on the contrary, has a meaning. A simple one: it’s about survive as long as possible. In our case, this means: breathing, drinking, pissing, eating, shitting, sleeping, waking, fucking and giving birth to other individuals. […] We don’t need to worry about gods, perfection, good, evil, mankind, ecological balance, future, prestige, results, etc.”

    Shouldn´t be “defending the independence of a piece of land in the name of a collection of quasi-homogenuos, pseudo-static, semi-autosufficient cultural myths and a coincidental hybrid language” in that list too?

  295. Felip

    Of course defending the “rights” of a “nation” is NOT a part of the meaning of life. How happy would all humans be if they all concentrated in those 9 “sacred” goals (namely: breathing, drinking, pissing, eating, shitting, sleeping, waking, fucking and giving birth to other individuals)!
    Far form reality, though.

    1. matxil

      Unfortunately, we have brains. All animals have brains, but they use them only as a tool to get access to the 9 “sacred” things, i.e., to survive.
      But humans have a brain that is like a stomache, or like a spoilt 3 year old: it needs to be fed, and it wants constant gratification. That´s where books, art, music, chess, football and ideologies come in.

  296. Felip

    I’m not a communist, you know. I don’t even believe in such thing as a working class. The closest to a communist nowadays would be a fighter for human rights in the third world I suppose.
    What I meant is that everything changes. So, when you support something, you are fighting for an undefined and changing matter. This is true for every ideology. It’s exactly the same for democracy, human rights, wealth, progress, justice, ecology, etc. Not only nation.

    1. matxil

      I know you are not a communist. But since you used that as an example of something “equally as silly as nationalism” (because defending something that is not really fixed or constant) I only wanted to say that I agreed with you: communism is silly. So is nationalism. Or humanism. Or any other kind of ideology. As you say.

  297. Felip

    Let me just concisely reply to Eddie’s post of April 4, 9:45.
    I don’t have a high opinion of my intelligence, nor I pretend to be wise. In fact I was talking about cultural level, which is a very different matter.
    I’m not boasting of being an exceptionally learned guy. In fact, I’m ashamed of my cultural gaps (I could write a long long list of them). What worries me is most of the people around is even less cultured than me. And this is a major problem. You know: when you meet grown-ups that don’t have read a single Shakespeare play, you wonder what have they done for so many years. Just watching TV?
    In my opinion, you cannot have a serious discussion about italian renaissance art if you don’t have read Vasari (this is one of my cultural gaps: I just have read half of it!). Likewise, you cannot have a serious discussion about politics if you don’t have read Plato’s “Republic”, Aristotle’s “Politics”, Machiavelli’s “The Prince”, Marx’s “Communist Manifesto”, etc. Of course, you need more things: self-criticism, open mind and ability to understand the other part arguments.

  298. Felip

    @ Charles, April 4, 2011 at 10:38 post

    Some years ago, when I wanted to insult insult a spaniard, I used to call him plainly “español”. And it worked! Spanish people got so upset of being called what they say they are so proud to be! When you call them “ultranacionalista español” the result is less interesting: it just makes them repeating blindly in a very high tone some dull commonplace (in the Aznar way, you know: “váyase Sr. González”, “zero patarero”, ha sido ETA”, etc.)

  299. Felip

    @ Charles, April 4, 2011 at 10:38 post

    I explained you before, but you don’t seem to have understood it.
    No nationalism is identical to any other one.
    The main difference between spanish nationalism and catalan nationalism is that spanish nationalists want catalans to be spanish, and catalan nationalists don’t want spaniards to be catalan. Catalan nationalists, as corsican, sardinian or inuit let other people to be what they want to be.
    A big difference, isn’t it?

  300. Felip

    @ Alex
    “if everyone is x then what is the use of the term x?”
    Finally a good, logical and clean argument!!! Congratulations.
    I have two possible answers:
    1) Probably, in a human context the term “nationalist” doesn’t have any use because it’s common to all the individuals of the sepcies (with the exception of Buddha, of course)
    2) In a wider context, the term “nationalist” makes sense. Birds, snakes, ants and frogs are NOT nationalist.

  301. matxil

    The issue is not whether one is a nationalist or not, which is just an eternal academic chessgame of one abstract line of thinking against another. The issue is whether you take these sentiments serious enough to go out in the streets and claim that somehow the world should be according to these sentiments. That´s what people with ideologies do: try to change the world.

    What you said to Charles by the way, seems extreemly silly to me. This whole “different sorts of nationalism” is – again – largely academic. If Tibetans would be millions, and China would be the size of Andorra, would Tibetan nationalism be different and Chinese like Catalans? People from Spain thinks all Spain is Spain, a line of thinking which one can accuse of being simple but certainly not lacking in logic. In the same way, people from Catalonia think all Catalonia is Catalonia. No difference at all. The only difference is that Spain is more powerful and so more likely to get their ways. Luckily, they are rather tolerant and basically allow Catalonia quite a lot (imagine Catalonia would have been part of France, you would have been in deep shit). In the end, it´s all the same thing: people who are so afraid of death and being alone, that they need to feel part of a group, a nation, a culture, a religion to feel less alone.

    And yes, we all do that. That´s why there is no solution and this debate will only end when both Catalonia and Spain have disappeared and an entire different number of “nations” will have the same debate all over again. And so the wheels keep turning.

  302. alex


    I have to say your “possible answers” are flawed:

    1) A word that is used by humans to describe a trait in humans will eventually die off if this word has no use. Since the word “nationalist” has NOT died off, this implies that it does have some very good use and some very clear meaning. Not only that, but as a corollary of this it implies too that NOT all humans are nationalist (if all humans were nationalist the word would have no use). The problem lies rather in the variety of meanings and uses of the word “nationalist”.
    2) Irrelevant. The word is applied only to humans by humans, so if all humans were considered nationalist then the word would die off, as explained above.

    It is obvious the words “nationalist” and “non-nationalist” have use, as you can see for the fact that they are used every day. The problem, as I was trying to explain it, is their variety of uses, or their variety of meanings as used by different people. There is a wide gap between English usage of the word “nationalist” and Catalan usage of the word “nacionalista” which leads to deep misunderstadings.

  303. alex


    Or an alternative “happy end” to the debate would be that Catalans can finally have an area (whichever that is, even if it is on planet Mars) that is Catalan-speaking, and the Spanish can keep their Spanish-speaking areas, whichever they may be. What seems to me fantasy is to imagine finding stability in a bilingual situation. It has never happened, it never will.

    1. matxil

      @Alex. The point that I have tried to bring across for the past 5000 posts is that as soon as Catalonia would be independent, all these Catalans (i.e., the people who live in that area) would look at each other and exclaim: “Oh dear, we are not similar at all. All that talk about ‘one word, one love, one people’ was just a myth”, and it would all fall into pieces: The People of Tarragona Liberation Front, The Gironese Democratic Movement, The Leridian Workers Party, the Mallorquin Linguistic Separation Manifest, The Valencian Infiltrant Initiative, plus all those bloody guirris and Andalucians who would still insist in speaking Spanish! And the whole thing would start all over again.

  304. alex


    Actually I am not concerned either with the perfect 50/50 balance. I was trying to say that this idea of feeling culturally both Catalan and Spanish is an exception, not the rule, whatever the percentages. This is what I have found in my experience. Just to give you a quick example, I find Catalan humour funny, whereas I tend to find Spanish humour completely unfunny. This is something that happens to most of my Catalan acquaintances, so it is not some strange quirk of mine, it is a cultural factor that is very real. This is what I mean by being culturally one thing or another.

    “Past battles have been won and lost”.
    You seem to be implying that since Catalonia is not an independent country we should forget the fate of its culture and language. This almost seems to be an argument for independence, as it seems the only case where you would respect the Catalan language.

  305. alex


    I find it interesting that we have similar anglo-catalan backgrounds. Although in some points I see we cannot agree because of a fundamental difference in understanding what a language actually is. You seem to view language as something solid that will survive any situation, whereas my linguistic training has shown me how frail languages are. They evolve, they change, as I already explained in other posts, but they can also receive mortal blows, just like animal species. In regards to Catalan, the situation is far from good. And to dream of a bilingual situation where both Spanish and Catalan are on equal grounding is not only a fantasy (it is simply impossible as stable situation) but it is the equivalent of signing a death sentence for Catalan. Let me clarify: it is not the natural path toward which Catalan is headed, but rather a path it will take if policies are Spanish-cenetered. And yes, so-called “bilingualism” is a Spanish-centered policy that will lead to the extinction of Catalan. In my experience all people who defend this so-called 50/50 bilingualism are in actual fact people who feel more Spanish than Catalan and who would prefer if Catalan disappeared or at least would not be bothered if Catalan disappeared. I am not implying that this is your case, as you yourself have already stated that you are a Catalanist and love the Catalan language, but most other people who use this misleading idea of “bilingualism” tend to be those who would prefer to get rid of this “nuisance” that Catalan is to them.

  306. Felip

    Charle’s post (April 5, 2011 at 4:36 pm)

    You really insist! About all this stupid affair of finings. Indeed!
    What do you think about fines for not using spanish in businesses and shops? Don’t avoid the question, please.
    And then “the current catalan-only school policy is a near copy of what Franco did during 40 years”… Really!
    It’s obvious that you didn’t attend to a Franco time spanish school. I did and I know what I’m talking about.
    In Franco time, schools didn’t teach catalan. Not a single word of it. When catalan was named it was only to be defined as a ridiculous unexisting dialect of spanish (the best and richest and noblest language around the world). Of course, this was not all of it. Catholic religion was, in those schools, the only and true religion, and Spain was the only and trustful guarantor of its purity. I’m not exaggerating. If you don’t believe it, the worst for you.
    Really, Charles why do you insist on explaining those childish lies of yours?
    I’m maybe wrong, but don’t you think that perhaps those stupid arguments are the reason why only illiterates vote Ciutadans?

  307. matxil

    @Alex. The point that I have tried to bring across for the past 5000 posts is that as soon as Catalonia would be independent, all these Catalans (i.e., the people who live in that area) would look at each other and exclaim: “Oh dear, we are not similar at all. All that talk about ‘one word, one love, one people’ was just a myth”, and it would all fall into pieces: The People of Tarragona Liberation Front, The Gironese Democratic Movement, The Leridian Workers Party, the Mallorquin Linguistic Separation Manifest, The Valencian Infiltrant Initiative, plus all those bloody guirris and The Former Andalucians But Now We Are Catalans Too You Know Commitees who would still insist in speaking Spanish! And the whole thing would start all over again.

  308. matxil

    @Alex I still haven´t done it because I am a rather shy boy when I am not behind a computer but I am still planning one day to walk into a grocery shop in Barcelona one day and order (literallly in English): “One tray of strawberries, half a dozen leeks and a couple of onions please” and see whether they would understand it (let alone prefer it) instead of “una cajita de fresas, seis puerros y dos cebollas, por favor”.
    (And yes, one day I´ll try it in Catalan too)

  309. Felip

    @Matxil post of April 6, 2011 at 10:32 am

    Wow! Did those things really happen to you? I believe you, but believe me when I say I never have had any experience of the kind. I would like, to have the opportunity of blaming the catalan idiot.
    Many customers want to be addressed in his own language when at home. No matter where the waiter is from or how long he has been in the country. I never behave like this, nor i sympathize with this behaviour, but you have to admit that it’s not a exclusive feature of catalans.

  310. matxil

    Yes, these things (because it happens more than once, especially outside of Barcelona) did happen. I understand that people want to be spoken to in their own language, but (and maybe for a guirri it´s easier to “feel” the difference) there are different ways to express that, and whereas most people behave decently enough, every so often, there are people who feel the urge to behave in a very aggressive way.
    And yes, obviously this is not an exclusive Catalan feature. That has been exactly my point all along.
    (A Frisian might have done the same thing 🙂 )