Federalists for "yes-yes"

On 9N I had expected to find two "species" at the ballot boxes-- that is, unless Rajoy sends the police to take them away. One species, which everyone expects will be the vast majority, is those who will vote "yes-yes", because they are opting for independence. The second species is that of the "yes-no" voters who still dream of the viability of a federal or confederate Spain. However, recently I've discovered a third species: that strange but interesting breed that continue to think of themselves as federalists, but have decided to vote "yes-yes". That's the great thing about having all kinds of friends.

A federalist friend of mine explained it to me recently: "On 9N there are only two political projects worthy of the name: the status quo, or independence --that is, "no" or "yes-yes". It's a question of plausibility. The "yes-no" will only be a solid option when there is a Spanish offer of this type, a proposal for a multi-national federalism that recognizes Catalonia's right to decide. And that's not the case: on 9N this offer will not be on the table. As a result, on that day the "yes-no" will only be an expression of a desire, but not a viable political project in itself. To be consistent, those in favor of "yes-no" should call for the consultation to be postponed. But to defend the "yes-no" vote on 9N is wishful thinking. For that reason, even though what I would like is a federal Spain, I am going to vote "yes-yes"."

A few days before, in another conversation, another friend of mine said this: "For me, to be a federalist is to be secular regarding the national question. When I define myself as a federalist what I'm saying is that, to me, all of national identities have the same value. In the same way that there is no "true religion" nor one religion that is better than the others, neither is there a "true identity" nor one that is better than the others. Today, I think that an independent Catalonia is closer to my ideal--that of a State that is secular in terms of identity-- than the current model of Spain with autonomic regions. Even the proposal for a federal Spain put forth by the socialists is, in reality, a mono-national project that doesn't question the "sacred unity" of the Spanish nation. Honestly, that's not very secular."

He continued: "For me, the only way to get past the nationalist dynamic --be it from one side or the other-- would be for Spain to accept the Catalan referendum and for Catalonia to decide freely to stay. For Spain to renounce the imposition of unity: that would be a non-nationalistic Spain. And for Catalonia, by exercising its right to self-determination, to choose to form a part of a multi-national Spanish state: that would be, for me, a non-nationalistic Catalonia. And yet, logically, Catalonia cannot renounce its nationalism if Spain doesn't first do the same. The Spanish decision must precede the Catalan, because Catalonia can only decide to stay if Spain has previously recognized our right to leave."

He ended: "So now I have to formulate the question in other terms: Which of the two projects --Spain with autonomous regions, or an independent Catalonia-- is less nationalistic? Which is more secular, in national terms? I have no doubt. In the Catalan Parliament three languages are spoken --Catalan, Spanish, and Aranese--, and in the Spanish Parliament, after thirty years of democracy, you still can't speak Catalan. So I will vote "yes-yes" because I want to live in the most secular-- or least nationalistic-- state possible".

A third friend shared this thought with me a few months ago: "For me, federalism is a philosophy. That is, that different national communities can share the same State, a single citizenship, without it being necessary to organize the world into mono-national States. Federalism, for me, means the same as a multi-national State. And even though I am now in favor of Catalan independence, I still believe in my federal philosophy. Because I am thinking of a Catalan State that will be a part of a federal Europe, that would be multi-national whether you like it or not. I don't see independence --referring to Catalonia-- and federalism --referring to Europe-- as incompatible. It doesn't matter to me if the federal state that we are a part of is called Spain or the European Union. I don't see myself as less federalist for defending a Catalonia that rules itself (partially) within a federal Europe, instead of defending a Catalonia that rules itself (much less so) within a federal Spain."

A very interesting species, these federalists for "yes-yes". Not so different, all things considered, from the legion of Catalans today who call themselves "non-nationalist supporters of independence".

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