Tag Archives: Catalan independence

Catalonia: I find these photos GENUINELY TERRIFYING — “¡Basta ya con Cataluña!”

31 Oct

Supporters of Catalan independence outside the Catalan parliament in Barcelona during a speech by Premier Carles Puigdemont on whether he would declare independence from Spain, October 10, 2017

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Catalan nationalist

These are photos of a jubilance that one imagines accompanied the Emancipation Proclamation or sees in images of the Liberation of Paris or of the Greek flag being raised over the Acropolis in 1944 or of V-J Day or the Fall of the Berlin Wall.

Instead, they’re photos of a sociopathic hysteria: of a people with one of the highest living standards in the world, with their language and culture (a word I’ve come to hate) fully un-threatened, living in a region with the absolutely highest level of autonomy than perhaps any region of any other state in Europe, or even the world, cumming in the streets because of an absolutely meaningless independence they think they’ve won in an increasingly interdependent world.  Meanwhile their “leaders” are having their moules frites in Brussels.

Really, they scare me.  The affect is so off, the affect level so incommensurate to the stimulus, that it suggests the haunting spectre that even people in one of the most liberal, progressive of human societies can be convinced they’re victims of something.  And like the convert, beware the victim.

There’s a name to that spectre and the victim narrative that is now haunting not only Catalonia and Spain and Europe and American democracy, but the entire world: identity politics.  As Mark Lilla has already said — please read the piece — the main problem with identity politics is that they don’t do politics: Mark Lilla’s “The Once and Future Liberal: After Identity Politics”.  It’s nonsense.  It’s a waste of all of our time, something even more precious than our energy and our resources and brain cells.  It’s a lame Fifth Avenue parade that’s supposed to actually express the soul of a particular segment of human civilization.  It’s an adolescent acting out of culture in a Mardi Gras costume in a deadly serious arena of politics that can quickly get dangerous.  And cultures that deserve to survive, will, by definition, do so on their own and don’t need constant “Pride” parades and manifestos and events and pointless — and dangerous — referenda.  (It’s bad enough to give the demos something complicated to think about; giving them an easy yes-no question is potentially fatal to any polity.)

Andrew Sullivan did a really good job in his  “I Used to Be a Human Being” for New York magazine last year, describing how being hooked up to a screen and keyboard all our lives makes our brains oatmeal, and how blogging all the years he did for his Daily Dish started to have physical health consequences for him, physical consequences that he could only deal with through treatment of his mind and soul.

I’m not in danger of that — usually.  One, I’m too lazy.  Two, I don’t “cover” running stories like Sullivan used to do on his Dish, in what really was a border-line manic-obsessive fashion.  Rather, I jump here and there, back and forth, with now and then ruminations that are all kind of “evergreens”, to use journalist sprache.

But as the child of a family that suffered terribly as an ethnic minority under a Stalinist regime, as a member of an ethnic group that was once spread all over the eastern Mediterranean and was then locked up in the pigsty of a nation-state, as an ethnic-American who always felt the world outside his window was sort of a foreign country, I’m acutely sensitive to issues of pluralism and how they should be negotiated and they strike incredibly powerful chords in me.  And they’ve made me a defender of minority rights but an even more intense critic of self-determination.  It’s not pluralist for every two-bit tribe of Balko-somethings to have their own country; you’re destroying pluralism that way — and the “way” always involves violence of some sort.  WHICH IS WHY I STILL GET SO FREAKED OUT ABOUT YUGOSLAVIA.

That’s also why a story like Catalonia can consume me for weeks if I let it.  And this post was actually meant to declare that I will not myself be writing or quoting or even linking to anything that has to do with the issue — at least until something substantive happens — which may be tomorrow…  I still have some identity politics/multi-culti-bashing pieces knocking around inside my head, but they’ll be dealing with other parts of the world.

Because Catalonia — which infuriates me — and Spain — which I love — are two players that can completely eat me alive if I let them.  For other gold-and-red semiotics, see my Bodegas.

Comment: nikobakos@gmail.com

Bodega 10

Catalonia: “…the little boxes of diversity…”

21 Oct

I couldn’t think of a better catch-all phrase for the cocoons identity politics create.  See whole article on the bubble created by all-Catalan media in Guardian.

Catalan pro unionDemonstration supporting Spanish unity in Barcelona. Photograph: Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

Comment: nikobakos@gmail.com

Ha… Catalonia is finally getting the West to rethink what it did to YUGOSLAVIA!

10 Oct

Sapnish flag demonstrationProtesters hold a giant Spanish flag during a demonstration to support the unity of Spain on 8 October in Barcelona. Photograph: Lluis Gene/AFP/Getty Images

The Guardian has an interesting take on things in Spain: A dangerous time for Catalonia, Spain and the rest of Europe that is original in that it brings together commentators from different parts of Europe who each have their own particular p.o.v. on what’s going on in terms of secession and identity politics.  They’re each interesting in their way — though I expected Gerry Adams to have something more compelling to say and sort of can’t tell if he’s being ironic (David Cameron?).  The most important one for me, though, is the comment on Kosovo (though it also angers you because it took so long for someone to say this):

“Since Nato illegally bombed Serbia in 1999 to wrest control of Kosovo from the Balkan nation, we have witnessed a significant increase in the number of secessionist efforts around the world as borders have unravelled in Ukraine and elsewhere (Catalan president vows to press on with independence, 5 October). Western leaders should be ashamed at having encouraged the hopes of terrorists worldwide that borders can be changed and national sovereignty and international laws are meaningless if they can get Nato to support their cause. Get ready for a lot more trouble ahead.”

Dr Michael Pravica
Henderson, Nevada, USA

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Comment: nikobakos@gmail.com

Times: ‘I Am Spanish’

8 Oct

Thousands rallied in Barcelona, Spain, on Sunday in support of a united Spanish state and against agitators for independence. Credit Pau Barrena/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

BARCELONA, Spain — Catalonia’s silent supporters of Spanish unity found their voice on Sunday, thronging into the center of Barcelona as part of a huge rally that reverberated with chants in support of a united Spanish state and against agitators for independence.

They demonstrated solidarity with the vilified national police and proudly waved a red-and-yellow national flag that for decades had carried the stigma of a taboo nationalism.

“Catalonia is not all for independence,” said José Manuel Alaminos, a 64-year-old lawyer. He said that Carles Puigdemont, the regional president who has led the independence movement, “is supposed to represent all of us.”

The separatist push has brought about one of Spain’s worst constitutional crises since the end of the Franco dictatorship nearly 43 years ago.

“But we are Catalonians too! The world doesn’t know the truth,” Mr. Alaminos said, pointing to the enormous crowd. “This is the truth.”

Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy echoed that sentiment in an interview with the Spanish newspaper El País published late Saturday, in which he said flatly that the secession of Catalonia “won’t happen” and that he was “not ruling out anything” to maintain Spain’s integrity, including a constitutional article that allows him to disband the regional leadership and assume its powers.

“We are talking about our nation’s unity,” he said.

Mr. Puigdemont is expected to address the regional Parliament on Tuesday, when Catalan leaders could declare independence, citing the results of a referendum that the national government and the courts had said was illegal and ordered suspended.

The rally also served as a coming-out party of sorts for the national flag, which has long been associated with nostalgia for the Franco dictatorship. Credit David Ramos/Getty Images

The rally on Sunday was organized to show that the referendum, which attracted international attention for a police crackdown that left hundreds injured, did not represent all Catalans. They are, in fact, deeply split over independence.

Drivers flying Spanish flags from their windows blasted staccato beeps of their horns in support of people wearing Spanish flags over their shoulders like capes. As helicopters hovered overhead, a river of supporters of Spanish unity snaked from Urquinaona Square down Via Laietana and past the city’s cathedral to its historic train station, where politicians read manifestoes in favor of a united Spain.

Along the way, thousands chanted, “Long Live Spain, Long Live Catalonia,” “I am Spanish, I am Spanish,” and “Puigdemont to Prison.” They waved Spanish, Catalan and European Union flags and wore stickers of all three on their chests.

The rally — estimated by the police at 350,000 people, though organizers said it was twice that — also served as a coming-out party of sorts for the national flag, which for decades has carried a stigma associated with the far-right groups nostalgic for the Franco dictatorship.

“Everyone thinks waving the Spanish flag means we are right wing or fascists,” said Alfredo Matías, 47, who held one edge of an oversize Spanish flag. “But we are not. We are just patriotic. It should be like the flag in America. And this is a big opportunity to make that happen.”

Mr. Rajoy, in his interview, also suggested that the time had come for the flag’s stigma to be lifted.

“People have the right to say, I’m Spanish, I’m proud of it and proud of my Constitution,” he said, adding that everyone in the country had a right to defend “your symbols, your flag, your hymn.”

He said his message to Spaniards was that “they have a government who will defend, as it is its obligation, the national unity and sovereignty.”

Many demonstrators wore flags over their shoulders like capes. Credit Manu Fernandez/Associated Press

Nadia Borrallo, a 31-year-old pharmacist from nearby Sant Boi de Llobregat, said the independence movement had tried to convince the world that all of Catalonia was on its side. “This is the reality,” she said, a Spanish flag draped over her shoulders. “Look around: I see a united people.”

As she approached a Spanish flag carpeting the street in front of a paella restaurant, she said that it looked as if Spain’s soccer team had won the World Cup.

“When Spain wins, they chant, ‘I am Spanish, I am Spanish,’ ” she said. “Now they say, ‘I don’t feel Spanish, I want my independence.’ It’s nonsense.”

As demonstrators jeered at balconies hanging pro-independence flags, organizers and security forces cleared paths for politicians and celebrity supporters of Spanish unity who had lined up at the front of the rally.

“I feel very enthusiastic and optimistic,” said Mario Vargas Llosa, the Nobel Prize-winning author who became a Spanish citizen in the 1990s and has spoken out in favor of conservative Spanish causes.

They followed a flatbed truck loaded with four speakers blasting the voices of organizers who heralded demonstrators as “the silent majority.”

Until now, supporters of independence have been the most vocal, especially after the violence on the day of the referendum gave momentum to their cause. Supports of Spanish unity complained that the regional police force, the Mossos D’Esquadra, appeared to refuse a national order to block the referendum.

Supporters of independence had thrown flowers at their feet, but the demonstrators on Sunday cursed their name. The Catalan police force — the leader of which is facing sedition charges in Madrid — was almost nowhere to be seen along the rally’s route.

The rally on Sunday was organized to show that the results of the independence referendum did not represent all Catalans. Credit Pau Barrena/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Instead, the officers standing outside the National Police Headquarters bathed in the adoration of demonstrators. Officers posed for selfies, received hugs and heartfelt handshakes and smiled broadly as the demonstrators chanted, “You are not alone” and “This is our police.”

“The referendum was illegal, and these police followed their instructions,” said Danile Basteller, 51, from Barcelona. He said the police had been treated shabbily: “We are here to show them they are not alone.”

Jose Luis Rencé, a retired soldier clad in his fatigues, agreed. “The law has to be followed,” he said. “With the law, everything. Without the law, nothing.”

In front of the seat of the regional government, Manuel Perales Álvarez, a 54-year-old garbage collector, shouted at the stone-face Mossos officers standing guard.

“With what authority will you present yourself,” he screamed. “You have no shame.”

Lucas Fernández, 66, from Barcelona, stood next to him, holding a Spanish flag and yelling, “Long live Spain” toward Mr. Puigdemont’s office.

“He clearly is going to receive the message, but he is pretending he is deaf to us,” Mr. Fernández said of the Catalan president. “He doesn’t listen to the people — only to the supporters of independence around him.”

Sergi Miquel, a lawmaker from Mr. Puigdemont’s party, saw little to worry about. “The demonstrations are fine,” he said. “But I don’t think anything changes, because the referendum and the Catalan elections had clear results.”

Mr. Fernández worried that the die had already been cast for a declaration of independence. He said he wished that the supporters of Spanish unity had raised their voices sooner. “It’s a little late,” he said. “It should have been done earlier.”

Spain and Catalan domino effect and Barca: has the European Union encouraged orgy of separatism and regionalism?

21 Sep

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The most thuggish, corrupt sport on the planet chimes in on Catalan independence.  Bloody everybody’s got an opinion.

Apparently there were rallies for a Basque referendum all over the Vascongadas in recent weeks as well, and soon the pendejito of Spanish regionalism, Galicia, will want independence too.

Is there anyone out there who knows of any studies of how European Union ideology and policy have supported regionalism and separatism in the past decades?  That a German “go-ahead” on Slovenian and Croatian independence lit the fuse on the Yugoslav bomb has, I think, become a commonly accepted view in recent years, even for the most anti-Serb-minded Westerners.  But is it the EU’s promise of support — meaning funds — what feeds these movements?  i.e., is the idea: “If I have a direct line to Brussels then I don’t need Belgrade or London or Madrid” at the root of most of it?  That would mean that Catalans are really not separatists but a form of closet centrists (which certainly proved true of Croatia); that they think they don’t need a tie to this parasitic peripheral center — Madrid — when they themselves can be parasites on a more central center, Brussels.  Any thoughts?

And Brussels, of course, is not doing what it should be doing: telling Catalans that if they want out of the borders of a EU country then they’re out of the EU entirely, which is also the secret message that the West refused to send to Croatia in the 80s, sending it on its merry path with the consequences we all know of.

Something for all you enablers of Catalan delusions of grandeur who supported them with your tourist dollars over the past couple of decades to think about.

See Ryan Heath’s Josep Borrell warns of Catalan ‘domino effect’ in Politico (“The veteran Spanish Socialist politician — himself a Catalan — says that the independence argument is based on a myth.”)

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Comment: nikobakos@gmail.com

 

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