Why I will join the demonstration on September 11

Cartell ANC

Next Tuesday, Catalonia’s national day, will see thousands of people demonstrating in Barcelona, in support of Catalan independence. I will attend and support the demo on the basis of my support for the right of people to decide: the right to self-determination, especially after a retired Spanish army officer threatened us with violence last week; and support for the Catalan language, under attack in multiple Spanish regions governed by the PP.

Not all of Catalonia’s problems would be solved by independence. Indeed, independence would probably bring about the existence of new problems we’ve not even considered yet. But that doesn’t mean it’s definitely not worth looking into. A fair distribution of the revenue generated by Catalonia seems impossible to achieve. Would we have better social cohesion and healthcare and so on if we had all the money raised here? Would my EHIC application be approved a lot faster, allowing me to get health insurance before it’s too late? It’s not a certainty but we’d be in a much better place to argue for it.

To defend the right to self-determination in the face of threats from past-it Spanish colonels strikes me as a perfectly reasonable thing to do on a Tuesday afternoon. See you in Plaça Catalunya at 18h.

5 thoughts on “Why I will join the demonstration on September 11

  1. Should the rest of Spain be allowed to vote Catalonia’s independence? Or should it be unilateral?

    One of the reasons for Catalonia’s (and the Basque Country’s) wealth over the last 50 years was partly due to the investment in Industrial development that was encouraged under Franco and subsequently maintained by democratic governments who often needed those balance wielding Nationalists to maintain their coalitions.

    Suppose five brothers & sisters were to pool their resources over the years to build a family business. Each specialising in one area of the business, one looks after the design of the products, another is in charge of Sales & marketing, the production director runs an efficient factory and logistics operation, whilst another is a financial wizard who quietly ensures that the company remains solvent and provides a decent for salary for everyone in the family. Eventually the sister who was in charge of production decides that he is going to take the factory “she” has built and set up a company on her own. Suddenly, the other brothers and sisters no longer have the means of production that allowed them to design, sell and “account”. Meanwhile the commonwealth they had generated over decades has been taken by the sister who decided she had outgrown her background.

    Spain as a whole has paid into the wealth of Catalonia over the last couple of generations in many ways, and for catalonia to unilaterally decide that it no longer needs the ballast that was once its fuel would be very unfair to the rest of Spain.

    1. Thanks for the comment, Simon.

      I don’t completely agree with your analysis. Of course there are lots of reasons behind a fact like Catalonia and the Basque Country generating relatively more wealth than other regions in Spain. I think the main reason is historical and draws on the fact that these regions underwent an industrial revolution whereas much of the rest of Spain did not. Their proximity to the rest of the continent helped too. There’s no question that Franco could be a pragmatist when he wanted to, but in this case I think it was only logical that industrial development mainly occurred in Catalonia and the Basque Country. Since democracy, Barcelona’s wealth has actually fared unfavourably compared with Madrid, which has generally seen much more investment from central government.

      The fiscal balance as I understand it is also historically different from your version. For decades (and, in fact, centuries), Catalonia has been seeking what it considers to be a fairer share of the wealth it generates. I believe (though I could be wrong on this) that this has never been a relationship of equals pulling together for a single goal.

      The family analysis could be painted in different colours too. Imagine those brothers and sisters again. If the sister in charge of production (who’s also a dab hand at finance, logistics, sales & marketing, etc) – has always received less than what she considers to be her fair share, and if at the same time, the other brothers and sisters tend to complain about her at family meals, and in family newsletters at Christmas, taking the piss out of the way she talks and mocking what they call her delusions of grandeur… maybe it wouldn’t be so unusual for her to eventually say, “I’ve had it with this family”. And if she and a majority of her kids agree, then why not start up a new family business? I’m sure arrangements could be made to pay the rest of the family back for some of the things they feel are theres. Uncle Mariano’s toy soldiers, for example, could easily be packed up and sent home.

      This is all starting to sound like Rajoy’s imaginary little girl!

      The argument of commonwealth I respect. I think that if the Spanish government were willing to negotiate – if it had been willing to negotiate – rather than ripping up agreements it previously said it supported, then people here wouldn’t feel so aggrieved. Don’t get me wrong: I’m not pro-independence and that’s it. I’ve written on this blog before about what I believe in and I’m sure it’s totally at odds with what Artur Mas, for example, would like. But this argument could be used to stymie any debate in any situation where a question of self-determination arises.

  2. I would also respectfully disagree with Simon’s analysis. This “family business” with financial whizkids presumably in Madrid just doesn’t resemble the situation as I see it.

    There are various options open to Rajoy’s government to defuse the mess that is Catalan-Spanish relations. The most obvious one is to negotiate very quickly a fiscal deal resembling that enjoyed by the Basque Country and Navarre. Then nearly all of the separatism will go away.

    I personally would not see a struggle for independence as worthwhile IF we had a deal ensuring fiscal equity and fair sharing of revenues.

    Without it, I believe secession is the only way to get justice in what matters to me, namely public services like health, education and law n´order.

    All other considerations, such as language, bullfighting, football matches, cultural prestige and so on recede far into the distance. I believe I’m not alone in demanding economic justice without giving two hoots about cultural conflict. In fact I’d guess that this motivates at least half of the 50% of Catalans who are now in favour of independence.

  3. ” especially after a retired Spanish army officer threatened us with violence last week”

    Isn’t this the problem though? People like this chap are a small and ludicrous minority. But when they’re taken notice of, and made to seem, by their opponents, to be of greater significance than they are, then they do in fact grow in significance. As do their mirror-images on the other side. Each serves the interests of the other. Until they’re not a small minority after all.

    It’s a process of polarisation, and I do not like it.

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