From the exhaustingly poor fit of Catalonia with Spain to becoming a normal country

What we want, once and forever, is to be able to discuss and argue about how we can save the publishing industry and encourage people to read, how we will fund nursery schools, who will pay the NHS bill, how we can help musicians and writers to make a decent living, what sort of schooling we want, the work of charities, the urgent need for transparency in the administration and so on. We have concluded that the only way to be able to deal with such matters, which are the truly important ones, is by becoming an independent country. The purpose of independence is not to conceal the ideological debate or the social problems. Quite the opposite! It is for those issues to take centre stage. It’s the only way to get rid of the identity conundrum and the financial pitfall that we are stuck in. Please, we want to move past the exhaustingly poor fit of Catalonia with Spain for good, a situation plagued with misunderstandings and filled with mistrust. This has been going on for too long. Really, enough is enough.

There are many of us --and we’d like to do a head count-- who have concluded that neither the PP’s Spain, nor the PSOE’s (and we suspect that Podemos’ Spain wouldn’t be any different, if they ever came to power) will ever lift this heavy burden. To a greater or lesser extent, we will remain stuck in this cobweb, which is nearly a form of psychological torture. As if we were the son of a jealous, mistrusting father. Every once in a while your dad seems to trust you, to be willing to let you do your own thing, to cut you some slack, unafraid of you not turning out the way he expected. But, in the end, the old-fashioned authoritarian soul of the “pater familias” always comes out: striking down the Statute, querying the Catalan schooling system, threatening with bringing back bull fighting, cutting the pay of public workers ... It’s like being underage indefinitely.

We desperately need to become a normal country where different ways of understanding society can be confronted without the unhealthy interference of the eternal national struggle. We are sick and tired of always being suspected of nationalism. It’s not our fault if we were born in a nation where Catalan is spoken and, in order to keep speaking it, we have no choice but to engage in exhausting activism while we are absurdly made to feel guilty about it all the time. Since we speak Catalan, we must be bigots. You don’t get that with hardly any other languages: Mandarin, Russian, Italian or Spanish. And if you complain about it, they’ll accuse you of being a victim-playing bore. And if you don’t, some will say you are not Catalan enough. We’ve simply had enough of it all. It’s a road to nowhere. It’s sick.

Spain is not equipped to become a multi-national country. There is no point in faffing around. At best, when faced with the loss of Catalonia, Spain might clench its teeth and grudgingly agree to a federalist makeover that would please nobody. It would be a new version of the time-honoured love-hate relationship. Thirty years later we would all be just as pissed off. It’s not worth it. I have been writing this article for twenty-five years. And I keep saying to myself: this is the last time. But it’s not.

We’re stuck in a loop. It’s like a biblical punishment: the stigma never goes away. We cannot be citizens of the world in this Catalonia that is caught between its complexes and its demands. Inevitably, we are seen as conflictive citizens of the world. What have we done to deserve this? The other day on YouTube I saw Joan Baez’s Barcelona concert in Palau d’Esports, back in 1977. Beautiful. “Gracias a la vida, que me ha dado tanto...” (“Thank you, life, for giving me so much ...”). However, at one point she speaks to the crowd and asks them: “Spanish or Catalan?”. And they aswer: “Catalan!” from the heart. She smiles, patronisingly, and replies: “Ok, but I’m not a nationalist”. Pleeze! Worst of all is that, if she ever comes back, she’ll probably say the same thing again. They will never stop seeing us as nationalists for as long as we continue needing to state our demands. There’s no solution. The only way out is not to have the need for any further demands and be able to spend your time on the important stuff.

So Mas and Junqueras had better come to an understanding so that in a couple of years they’ll be able to quarrel ideologically as is expected.

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