Discussions about Catalan independence often are presented as a matter of right and wrong. In fact, however, most motives in favour or against are rather sentimental, i.e., a matter of taste. Let’s look at the most heard arguments in favour of Catalan independence.
If I should believe internet and other media, last thursday a great philosopher, guru, saint – son of God almost -, passed away. The way people talk about him reminds me of when that other great humanist, well-doer and spiritual guide expired: Lady Di.
I am talking about Steve Jobs. The man who started the company Apple, then got fired, then got back and made both Apple and himself very rich. These feats, if I have to believe internet, the media, and all the freaks that live in those worlds, apparantly tell us that Steve Jobs was a “visionary and brilliant genius”. “His words of wisdom will live on”, I read somewhere. The “serious” Spanish newspaper El Pais spent eight pages on him today.
I may have missed something, but as far as I can see, we are dealing here with a man who got rich making expensive walkmans (walkmen?) and telephones with games on it. Also, he is the originator of such philosophical gems as: “it is more fun to be a pirate than to join the navy” or “Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life”. Deep stuff. In other words, the same self-help wise-cracks you can read in any new-age esoteric booklet in second-hand bookshops run by some vague woman with a moustache and lots of cats. My grandma has tiles with sayings like that hanging in her bathroom.
We are in the middle of an economical crisis we cannot solve because we need a cultural and social revolution for that. Meanwhile, our western society is increasingly governed by fear, pithy nationalism and bewilderment, maybe best compared to a rabbit looking at the approaching headlights of a truck. And our hero is a man who makes expensive toys. Each culture gets the heroes it deserves, and the western culture has become so infantilised that our heroes are football players and a man who put the “i” before the Pad or Pod or Sod. A guy who thinks that “being yourself” works for everyone. Tell that to the Chinese kids working in factories on the iFad of the next generation.
More and more, I feel like a Roman citizen in a decaying empire on the brink of the new dark era of the Middle Ages.
This morning, the world was informed that the long sought mister Bush was finally caught and shot. Mister Bush was responsible for hundreds of thousands of deaths, world-wide. World leaders from all over the world expressed their relief that one of the major forces behind world insecurity, violence and beastly murders has come to justice. Prime minister Cameron of the UK called it a great success, but warned that the US was still a dangerous country, the German chancellor Merkel called it a victory but said we must remain vigilant, and the Italian prime minister Berlusconi called it a great day for democracy.
The details of the catch are still not clear. Some say mister Bush was shot in front of his children and wife, but “he was asking for it anyway” and he was unarmed, again others said he used women as a human shield. The dead body of mister Bush was taken away and dropped into the Atlantic Ocean, to avoid pilgrimage. In order to avoid other Americans going crazy, no photos of the dead mister Bush will be shown.
It was admitted that a few American citizens had to be tortured to find Bush’ hiding place, but these were probably terrorists anyway, and in any case, after all that mister Bush has done to the world, the torture was completely justified.
The world can safely go back to sleep now.
I have talked before about the xenophobic politician Wilders and his political party PVV. One thing he and his party always claim is that they are protecting “the freedom of speech”. Obviously, there are a lot of religious people, and quite a lot of them are muslims, who believe that it should be forbidden to insult their religion, their God or their prophet. We all remember what happened when some Danish cartoonists drew some (funny? not funny?) cartoons with the Islam prophet in them.
In the Netherlands, there is only one political movement, led by one single leader, who consistently talks about war, about deportation, about shooting people through their kneecaps, about inferior cultures, about prohibiting books, about an utopic Netherlands without immigrants. In short, everything all fascist parties all over the world tend to say. His party is called PVV, his name is Wilders, and yesterday he said the following words.
“Door heel Europa, niet alleen in Nederland, maar in heel Europa vechten de multiculturalistische elites een totale oorlog(*) uit tegen hun bevolkingen. Met als inzet de voortzetting van de massa-immigratie en de islamisering, uiteindelijk resulterend in een islamitisch Europa – een Europa zonder vrijheid: Eurabië.”
“Throughout Europe, not only in the Netherlands, there is a multi-culturalist elite that fights a total war(*)against their people. The goal of this fight is the continuation of mass immigration and Islamization, ultimately resulting in an Islamic Europe – a Europe without freedom: Eurabia.”
“En toda Europa, no sólo en los Países Bajos, las elites multi-culturalistas han montado una guerra total(*) contra su pueblo. La meta de esta guerra es la continuación de la inmigración masiva y la islamización, que en última instancia resultará en una Europa islámica – una Europa sin libertad. Eurabia”
As always, his trick is to blame others for supposedly wanting to start the war as an excuse for starting his own. The usual retorics about “the people” against an elite that is favouring foreign threats should sound familiar as well. In short, everything all fascist parties all over the world tend to say.
So, I repeat. If the UN is really out there to bring democracy to foreign countries…, forget about Afghanistan (they are fed up), forget Irak (it’s already enough of a mess), forget Egypt (they are much better off without our “help”)…, send your troops to the Netherlands. (And when you shoot some PVV voters, call it collateral damage.)
*) “Totale Oorlog” / “Total War” / “Guerra Total” = “Totaler Krieg”, Joseph Goebbels, (18- 02-1943)
Currently, there is a large political debate going on in the Netherlands, about whether they should send a team of Dutch policemen to Afghanistan to “train” the Afghan policeforce (they even talked about teaching them how to read). If you don’t believe the previous sentence, I don’t blame you. By the way, the last time the Netherlands sent “policemen” to another country to “help them out”, was in the fifties when they sent the army (because that’s what they really were) out to Indonesia, to suppress the freedom fight there. It all ended up in tears. And blood, of course.
(I almost forgot, we also “helped” very much in Srebenica).
A long and interesting discussion which in the end, as all good discussions do, touched all aspects of life, the universe and everything (42), made me reconsider a few things. It’s a process similar to having a drink with your fellow colleagues, band members or family: little iritations are not so important as they seemed, life is not so much about what’s going on in your head and after all the most important things in life are basic and obvious.
The whole debate about Catalan nationalism and Catalan independence, which keeps on being a basic ingredient for politicians to avoid talking about real issues: economy, housing, security, general well-being, is just another “brick in the wall“, a political wank.
The beauty is that I live in a city where two languages (probably in the future three) live side by side. Since I came to live here, I have marvelled at the spontaneous capacity of people here to switch from one language to the other, not only during a conversation but even in mid-sentence. I think that is something to be celebrated, a rare example of “mestizaje” (“linguistic mix”) that shows flexibility and social coherence. One thing that always struck me of Spain as a whole, be it Andalucia, Madrid, the Basque countries or Catalunia, is that at the core of its culture (or cultures, if you wish) is “pasárselo bien”, a desire to have a good time for all, having a drink or a meal (food being an important part of its culture) together and making sure everyone is feeling comfortable.
The fact that some people want to turn this into a problem (Catalanists or anti-Catalanists, both), a source of anger, antigonism and obnoxious stupidity, should not be taken as a proof that having different languages and cultures in one country is a problem (because it isn’t a problem) but rather as a proof that wherever you go, there are always people (luckily, only a few) that have the need to fuck things up and create imaginary problems.
Differences between people or groups of people are real, but instead of a clash, it should be a celebration. I am beginning to sound like a hippie, and I admit to still enjoying a slight afterglow after a night of drinks, so I stop now.