It is a mistake to lump Catalan nationalism with far-right communitarian ideologies. In fact, it is more Spanish nationalism that fits that description.
It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way.
-Charles Dickens: A Tale Of Two Cities (1859)
Living, as I do, in Barcelona part of the time, I am struck with how Dickens’ wonderfully descriptive opening could apply directly to what has become our surrealistic daily lives in Catalonia over the past 2 years – because yes, it has been over two years that I have been trying to write this blog post, and over two years that have found me paralyzed, trying to even know where to begin – so thanks, Charley!
So much of what has gone on here over the last while is governed by perception, emotion, “belief” and “incredulity,” as Dickens points out. But really, it’s a battle over two vast opposing concepts of what a “nation” is.
Warning: long post ahead
To begin with, here are a few facts:
- Nine pro-independence political and cultural leaders have been sentenced to 9 – 13 years after being held since October 2017 in Spanish prisons in “preventive detention.” This was possible because they were charged with “rebellion” – a crime that requires violence to have been committed, and for which they were acquitted. Many of those in prison are the parents of small children, who are growing up with only two hours of contact per month with the missing parent.
- Over 100 members of the recently ruling Partido Popular (founded by Manuel Fraga, a former minister in the Franco dictatorship) have been convicted of corruption in scandals that involve hundreds of millions of euros. None of them is in prison. Wikipedia has a page devoted to political corruption scandals in Spain that is worth checking out.
- Six pro-independence leaders have fled into exile. Various attempts by the Spanish government to have them extradited to Spain on “rebellion” charges have all failed. Spain has now reissued warrants for them, only on “sedition” charges.
- The Spanish judge in charge of instructing these cases, Pablo Llarena, was charged in Belgian courts by exiled Catalan president Carles Puigdemont and other exiled leaders with violating basic human rights. He was ordered to appear in Brussels, the Spanish government is paying his defense for refusing.
At the time of this writing there have been two weeks of demonstrations and protests in Barcelona. The vast majority of them have been peaceful. Over half a million marchers from all over Catalonia converged on Barcelona October 18, and 300 thousand demonstrated on October 26. A few hundred direct action activists who burned garbage bins in the street got way more attention, though – from media and politicians alike.
Continue reading “A Tale of Two Nationalisms”
Not for the first time, I break a long silence. Perhaps my longest silence ever.
In the past, I’ve written about being busy, lots of excuses for not writing, etc. All the experts on blogging say it is an error to not post regularly. I am in error.
Continue reading “A Long Silence”
The other day, I used my World’s First Digital Finger to tap the “Reply” button to an instant message from my best friend. I have about 10 000 friends, actually, but only around 1 273 qualify for “best” status. This one was complaining about the weather. “When it rains, it pours,” he said. I replied, “I like that – I go out in it, because to feel – to really feel – is a rare thing, these days.” Of course, when I go out to really feel the rain, I’m wearing my Polar Perfect Protection jacket, but I manage to really feel wet, all the same. My best friend – sorry, I can’t remember his name just now – was worried about global warming. “Everything in its own time,” I told him. “Don’t like the weather? Wait a while.” He wasn’t real happy with that answer. “My world class weather station software tells me that the times, they are a-changin'” was his quip.”The more things change, the more they stay the same,” I replied.
Continue reading “English is Dead”
I am a baby-boomer. There are more of us in the world than any of the rest of you generations X, Y, Z, Me, You, Millenial, whatever.
We were a progressive generation that changed the world. We created the sexual revolution, we fuelled the American Civil Rights movement, we invented rock festivals. Hell, we invented rock (actually we didn’t, it was Black blues groups in the 40’s who did that, but we take all the credit).
We created the sixties and seventies.
We had the summer of love.
We tried all kinds of soft drugs, and a few hard ones, and praised their ability to change our spiritual perspectives.
With or without drugs, we opened our minds to Asian philosophies and spiritual practices, and discovered that without them, we probably really couldn’t have quantum physics.
We discovered ecology (it was always there, just most people hadn’t noticed before)
Above all, we were free, free, free.
Continue reading “Talking About My Generation”
News flash: The very day of this writing, former president of the European Commission José Manuel Barroso announced that he has been hired by the banking firm, Goldman Sachs, in a “non-executive advisory role.” Goldman Sachs was the bank that advised former Greek governments how to paper over their excessive debt, and then speculated on that same debt. José Manuel Barroso was EU commission president at the time. You can understand why the average European citizen doesn’t like the EU when news of this sort comes out just after the Brexit vote.
Oh, yes – Barosso’s main job will be to mitigate the impact of Brexit – hah!
Note: This is not part 2 of Brexit, as I promised – that will come soon. I think this is needed first. Warning: it’s very long, this post is – but read it anyway.
In the flurry of post-Brexit hand wringing, I think there is an important point to be made, and the leaders of Europe aren’t going to make it, so I will (never say I don’t have hubris…).
Yes, I accuse each and every European government, regardless of its political colour, of deliberately fomenting hate for the European Union among its nationals. Most European newspapers and magazines also bear responsibility for this.
Continue reading “Why the EU is Failing”
It’s been 15 years since I moved out of Paris, and three and a half since I stopped going there regularly to work. And still, I find myself feeling that the recent assault in the French capital was an assault on “my” city. It was also an assault on human dignity.
As I think about it, and grieve, I am also struck by how much this issue hinges on questions of communication.
Continue reading “Pot Shots: They’re So Easy”
Those who work in certain regulated industries, most especially the pharmaceutical field, know that labels are important. In fact, companies have people who do nothing but manage the labels of their products, and the language on them. This is because a change of even the positioning of a comma can require going through a regulatory re-approval process.
While this might seem like a lot of bureaucratic hassle to some, the reasoning is that a minor typographical error on a label can cost lives.
There are many aspects of life other than technical communication where this is true, and I have recently had the sad occasion to experience one case.
Continue reading “The Importance of Labels”