The Catalans: They Deserve It

December 18, 2012

11-de-setembre-3

As an American, I have long been deeply interested in the struggle of the Catalan people to recover their great tradition of liberty and self-determination in a country that had elective parliaments before any other nation. My ancestors in this country participated in their own victory over a power, Great Britain, that was then the most democratic in the world but from which they wanted to be independent. The Spanish state, with a constitution forced through by survivors of the Franco regime just after a cruel dictator’s death, is nowhere near that level of democracy; nor is it even competent, as its current economic haplessness symbolizes. It borders on being what is called a “failed state.”

Today, the governing conservative party of Catalonia (CiU) and the left-republican party (ERC) put out this proclamation, upon which they have agreed, even while retaining their very different political principles on almost every other issue. Already voices in Madrid are calling for the army to intervene; this is the way they respond to any signs of progressive movement — an instinct left over from the dictatorships that they have so often found congenial. The idea that people might want to determine their own future is against everything they believe, and, to be sure, any such referendum is against the Spanish constitution that voters ratified under threat of armed restoration of dictatorship.

While the American Declaration of Independence gave far more space to detailing grievances against the British Crown, I find it impossible not to hear echoes of our Declaration in this modern, more streamlined document that came out today.

By the way, the 2014 deadline is significant emotionally. It was in 1714 that the Bourbon Philip V subjugated the Catalans, declared all the Catalan laws, traditions, and liberties null and void, outlawed the public use of the Catalan language, and imposed the Castilian autocracy and subjugation by the army. And still the Catalan people survive, with the culture as vibrant as ever. It seems clear that it’s high time they had their reward, for the first time in 300 years being allowed to speak freely as a people about their own future.

Here’s an English translation of the statement, with a link to the Catalan original.

Winning While Losing

June 26, 2011

It seems to me that there’s a lot to be learned from these little kids: