Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Politicians without "cojones"

Some of you still remember that I described Catalonia as a country without "cojones". And the question is where did we lose them? My conclusion is that we never had them, or, at least, our politicians never had them.
When I left Catalonia, 16 years ago, I thought that Catalonia was part of Spain and I never challenged that reality. After 16 years overseas, I have become a Catalan nationalist who would like to see Catalonia as an independent country. Why? I have realized that I do not feel Spanish, I have little to do with the image Spain portrays in the world, I do not want to be identified with that country, I do not feel proud of being from Spain, I try to hide it or euphemistically say, I am from Barcelona (since I positively know that if I say I am from Catalonia, 99% people will think I am from Caledonia). My personal values are different from those who people associate with Spain or the Hispanic people and, in addition to that, I am against bullfighting in Catalonia, I dislike "flamenco", and I feel like vomiting when someone uses one of these symbols to refer to me. You can tell me that what I am saying it is an attack to Spain. I do not think so. You foreigners tell me the truth, which symbols do you associate with Spain. Go ahead. Tell me the truth. Do no be shy. Isn't it flamenco, siesta, bullfighting, conquistador? (I still remember when a group of Swedish customers visited my factory in Barcelona and during the factory tour they asked me where we took the naps. I swear). And now, tell me whether you think of the same symbols when you think about Andorra. You see. And I am much more like Andorra, even if that means that your mind is blank.
The Spanish government has done NOTHING to reverse this. Go to any embassy and you be immersed in a Castilian atmosphere. I feel like a man trapped in a woman's body, I want to be a man, but my ID says I am a woman. I want to be a Catalan, but I am a Spaniard (I have to say that since I became American, I feel much better, but it is impossible to erase decades of mental stress).
If someone wants to understand what a Catalan is (or was, I should say) and which the fundamental differences with the perceived Spanish culture are, I invite you to read Jaume Vicens i Vives's "Noticia de Catalunya" (Catalonia news), a very unbiased and subdued book about us Catalans filtered by the Franco's dictatorship, but deeply Catalan if you read between the lines.
All my internal suffering could have been avoided if years ago, decades ago, centuries ago, a millenium ago, Catalan politicians had had "cojones", but they had NOT. Starting with Ramon Berenguer IV who got engaged to a one year old Petronilla, was appointed regent of Aragon and who never took the title of King, never dared to change his title of count of Barcelona to king of Barcelona or king of Catalonia, and took the cojonessless title of "Count of Barcelona and Prince of Aragon". His son, Ramon Berenguer, the first king of the emerging XII century European power, the combination of the Catalan counties and Aragon, who was only 11 years old when he became count of Barcelona and 13 when his mother renounced her rights in Aragon in his favor and became king, ruled under the name of Alfonso II to PLEASE the Aragonese. Give me a break, he was not called Josep-Lluis, Ramon Berenguer was not so difficult to pronounce, he was the son, grandson, great grandson of Ramon Berenguers, he was born in the outskirts of Barcelona (something I have to change periodically in the Spanish wikipedia, since they always make him a native of Huesca) and he had to change his name to please the Aragonese.
And his grandson, Jaume I, another big disappointment, even though I truely admire him. Despite he has nothing but praise for Catalonia and the Catalans ("And by the faith that we owe to God, since those of Catalonia, which is the best kingdom of Spain, the most honoured, the most noble,...", Llibre dels Feyts), he goes to Majorca and makes them a kingdom, he goes to Valencia and makes them a kingdom, he does not annex them to Catalonia, let it be, but he does not even change the rank of Catalonia to a kingdom, the most noble, the most honoured, the most "gilipollas", that's the truth.

After such a brilliant start, what can we expect now? The worst. On one side, our politicians have adopted all the negative characteristics of our Catalan ancestors, making compromises too quickly, not having "cojones", being low profile, betraying their own (botiflerisme), etc, plus many other new ones that they have quickly absorbed like being corrupt, practicing nepotism, red tape, etc.
The Mas, Carod-Roviras, Puigcercos, Chacons, Corbachos, Vendrells and Montillas of this world will sink Catalonia and will actually erase the few remaining characteristics of our culture, characteristics which survived in its genuine form for more than 1000 years till 1939 and which first through Franco's application of Machiavelli's guidelines that can be concisely found in The Prince ('if you want to dominate a country that has a different language, it is much more effective to send colonies of your own people than big armies' wrote Machiavelli) and later through the even more effective methodology of self-destruction that consists of giving the power to a moron and ask him to represent an "honoured and noble" people.

And I know what you are thinking and you are right. I have to admit it. I do not have "cojones" either.


qfwfq78 said...

"flamenco, siesta, bullfighting, conquistador" I could not agree more... and I am only secondarily "Spanish".

Sadly you just need to walk down the Ramblas to be tormented by these images everywhere. The only nice day to go there is Sant Jordi.

Jack said...

I don't understand what you are doing in the US then. Since you are so homesick, you should return home before your obsession about Catalonia's independence turns you completely mad.

Anonymous said...

What a coincidence, I’m Catalan and I don’t have “cojones” either, although I’m trying to grow some by being an internet Catalan activist. But when push comes to shove, in a face to face confrontation with a belligerent Spaniard (easy to find one of those), I would probably rather avoid the whole thing and walk away with my tail between my legs, no matter how much in the right I may be. I notice this with other Catalans too, always switching to Spanish to please the “master”. I was at a Catalan get-together in the U.S. about a year ago, and a curious American came by and asked what flag it was that we were flying, and like the well trained Catalan step-and-fetch-it that she was, one person in our contingent said “Catalonia”, then promptly added “Spain!” to it. And I just stood there and let it happen. I mean while we were at it I could have added “Andorra, France, Italy!” since Spain isn’t the only “state” within whose borders Catalunya resides. There you have it, yet another Catalan without “cojones” or "collons" if I may be so bold and use my native tonque.

ian llorens said...

I could not agree more with you. Three years ago, I proposed to ban Mexican hats at Barcelona souvenir shops in my post Bullfighting, souvenirs and “guiris”

I accept all kinds of comments in my blog and I try to answer them, almost always, in a respectful way, but due to the title of this blog, I will take a poetic license and answer you in pure Castilian:
“Jack, yo vivo donde me sale de los cojones”

The reality is that one on one, Spaniards are very nice people and I do not want to lose a Spanish friend either, to defend my views on Catalonia. At the macro level, however, the situation in Catalonia is disgraceful and it can only be fixed through self-ruling, once the right politicians are in place, not the losers we have today.
I am curious to know who you are. You seem to be another pragmatic Catalan nationalist, still a “rara avis”.

Monica said...

Just thanks for this post. I have a catalan family (including a catalan son) and though I am not directly part even I feel uncomfortable when the Spanish topics are asked for. All swedes know the Spanish words mañana and siesta. My husband really felt bad when we went to the Swedish civil register to fix paperwork before marrying in Sweden. The nice civil servant offered him some information in Spanish. There were a flamencodancer and a tipical "señorito" as DECORATION on this information.

I had little or almost no idea about the Catalonian reality when I first came here. I had not really realised that Catalan was a language and that it was being used. And, I had studied Spanish at a Swedish university for almost two years... Now I am quite catalanista, though totally Swedish...

jack said...

Ian, do you swing a lasso, take line dance lessons and consider thanksgiving more important than Xmas? If not, you should seriously consider leaving the US and its asphyxiating stereotypes as well and emigrate/flee to Canada. Don't hit your collons while jumping over the border-fence.

ian llorens said...

I cook a 18 pound turkey every Thanksgiving holiday (without additives) and I am actually pretty good at lassoing ponies with my dick (only my "collons" are problematic). Excuse my French.

And by the way, unlike you, when I go to Canada to practice my French, I go through customs and immigration.

Erik Wirdheim said...

Hi Ian,

I wouldn't say that you don't have collons but I must encourage you to sound less bitter. Catalonia is a wonderful place already as it is and all states I know are full of bad politicians. And Andorra might be a sovereign entity but I'm confident that politics up there is not better than down here.

On the siesta: outside the centre of Barcelona privately owned shops close from 2 pm to 5 pm; in Catalonia as in Spain, but not in Perpignan. I'm sorry - just had to point that out. ;-)

The Swedes' question about the beds is fantastic!

Thanks for the book recommendation. Sounds interesting.

And to inspire some hope: take a look at Czech history: Prague has always been a well-known city but only in the 20th did the world start to consider it Czech (earlier the credit tended to go to the German speaking Austrians). Now it's a flourishing capital of the Czech Republic, although the Czech national character is to "give in and accept" rather than to fight.


ian llorens said...

Thanks for your comment. If our foreign policy would have made a strength out of our diversity, we would all feel much more comfortable under the umbrella of Spain. And I am a proud American, but totally Catalan. A Catalan American. While in Spain, I spend a lot of time explaining the real America, a wonderful place with wonderful people.

I am a very happy person and I am not bitter at all. I may sound bitter because of 2 reason, an overdose of sarcasm and irony and the fact that English is not my native language.

You must have been one of the Swedes who visited my factory 20 years ago (I was just out of college), or maybe not, you are too young for that.

Equating the noon break in Spanish shops to siesta is the same as thinking that all people who wear pants are men.

Nowadays the rationale for a 2 and a half hour break in the afternoon is to be able to keep the shop open from 9am to 8.30pm with only one shift of employees, since two shifts would be unaffordable for most of the retail owners.
A few months ago, La Vanguardia published an article showing that Germans take more naps than Spaniards,
Anyway, I invite you to follow some of the employees working at those shops in Vilanova and publish in your blog how many you caught sleeping at 4pm.

Hope is always there, but neither the Czech Republic is Catalonia, nor Slovakia is Castilia.

Note: I apologize for the sometimes rude language I have used in this post.
Jack I respect you even if you totally disagree with my views.

jack said...

Salut Ian,

ouai, je crois avoir pigé ton sarcasme ;-)

Quand-même, je me pose la question pourquoi les stéréotypes tipiquement espagnols (paella, toros, siesta, flamenco) te causent des maux de tête si forts. Chaque pays a des stéréotypes à l'étranger et si on visite le pays en question, on se rend compte que c'est pas du tout le cas (c'est normal, d'ailleurs).

C'est pour cela, que je me suis demandé si tu ne montais pas à cheval comme le Marlboro-man et ne dansais pas line dance, pourquoi tu ne proclames pas l'indépendance immédiate de ta famille des États-Unis...

À mon avis, tu juges avec des doubles standards, c'est tout.

reste cool

ian llorens said...

Tu veux tester mon français écrit. Je n’écris pas en français depuis long temps, ça fait peut-être 25 ans, quand j’avais une copine suisse romande et je lui écrivais lettres d’amour.

L’histoire du cowboy n’est pas la même que le stéréotype espagnol. Tout le monde sait que il n’y a pas de cowboys a New York (sauf le cow-boy nu) ou Boston. Tout le monde sait que les Etats Unies son le pays du progrès et des entrepreneurs. Mais tous les stéréotypes espagnols son négatives, je n’ai rien a voire avec eux, ils me dérangent et je le droit à me plaindre.

Pourtant j'aime paella, j’ai aucun problème avec elle, tu peux m’appeler Ian « Paella » Llorens.

Anonymous said...

I agree with you Ian, Spaniards are wonderful, warm people. I don’t have any problem with Spaniards as people, I just have a problem with the seemingly ingrained mindset of intolerance towards the other peoples of the Iberian peninsula who speak other languages besides Spanish and have other cultures besides the one prescribed by Franco during the 50’s. I have heard of liberal-minded left-leaning Spaniards doing a 180 degree turn when the “Catalan problem” comes up, and spout intolerant crap reminiscent of a neo-nazi skin-head (an American friend who lives in Madrid related this little observation to me, as she has seen it happen often). As soon as I can visit Madrid, or Zaragoza, and tell people I’m Catalan, as someone visiting from France, England, or even Portugal would be able to do, without getting an instant change in people’s faces and maybe a slightly colder reception, maybe then will I feel that the struggle is finally over. I do not like the feeling of having to think about, or hesitate when I say I’m Catalan, as if the mere verbalization of it is offensive to people.

To Jack’s last message, I understand your point in regards to national stereotypes, and that when you visit another nation you realize that your pre-conceived notions were just that. Where the problem lies is that in Catalonia, it seems every effort is made to continue the “Spanish” stereotype to visitors. I have known American tourists who have gone to Barcelona for a couple of weeks, and upon returning their luggage was filled with knick-knacks depicting flamenco dancers and bull fighters. To add insult to injury, the few bits of Catalan culture they were exposed to were so Hispanicized to the point they still hadn’t the foggiest idea that Catalonia existed or that another language may even be spoken there. I’m pretty sure many Spaniards do not like to be depicted as bull fighters and flamenco dancers either, but for some reason the tourist trade deems it necessary to continue the stereotypes.

boynamedsue said...

Re Siesta:

I lived in Barna for 3 years, and found the shops (and Cafes!) closing for three hours at lunchtime most frustrating (and illogical, have you Spaniards/Catalans/Basques/Asturians/Miscellaneous never heard of SHIFTS?).

Ramon Berenguer couldn't call himself King (nor could Rodrigo Diaz "El Cid" in Valencia) as, at the time, Kingship had to be conferred by the pope.

Anonymous said...

May I remind you that businesses close up around noonish in many places in Europe, not just Spain.

ian llorens said...

From the customer point of view, the ideal situation is the 24x7 approach you find in Asia and USA. In Asia it is achieved through people working 60 hours a week and in USA through shifts (what has killed the mom and pop shops).
In Europe you need to choose between the noon break or closing very early. I hate it in the Netherlands when everything is closed at 5pm (except for koopavond).
But noon break does NOT equate to siesta. It is human rights plus economics balanced with customer satisfaction.
If I were a Catalonian Politician, I would incentivate to keep the shops open over lunch in Catalonia, by providing a more flexible and tax advantageous environment for hiring temps to cover the noon shift (students in the summer, homemakers who want a part time job, etc.).

Regarding Ramon Berenguer, I will say that the Pope was fully involved in the whole operation, allowing Ramiro the monk to temporarily give up his monastic vows to secure succession. Do not you think that Ramon Berenguer could have convinced the Pope to make him King of Barcelona or Catalonia? He had nothing else to do, Petronilla was just one year old.

boynamedsue said...

I think you're reading past events through a modern lense. I doubt Ramion Berenguer would have thought of himself as "a Catalan", in the sense that he shared "Catalanity" as a defining characteristic with the lowliest of his subjects. The defining identities for Ramon Berenguer would have been Nobility and Christianity, and possibly a bit of Iberian crusader zeal. His extreme nobility meant that the only people with whom he would really have identified were his brother princes.

To talk of pre-black death Europe in National terms is a severe anachronism.

To put it briefly, RB had cojones, but he was almost certainly uninterested in becoming king of Catalonia. I would suspect that he couldn't give a flying one for a Catalan "Nation" but was merely interested in extending the power of his dynasty, something he succeded in doing when his son became King of Aragon..

ian llorens said...

So far, I have found no smoking gun that would indicate that either you or I are right. I need to read more. I just got a couple of books that I will try to digest in my next long flights. I received today "Barcelona and its rulers 1096-1291" by S. Bensch.

What it is clear to me is that the rest of the connected world considered Catalonia as a nation, just by reading what the Liber Maiolichinus said about Ramon Berenguer, his father, in the year 1117,

"Dux Catalanensis, cui plurimus affuit astus,
Ad loca sive vias per quas iter esset ad urbem,
Intentus spoliis, multo cum milite stabat,
Inque Saracenos, preda iugulisque potitus,
Letales studuit crebro conferre ruinas."

It sounds as though George W. would have had him as his inspiration.

Sara said...

There's an interesting debate going on here, but I have to say that I feel that you give too much importance to both nationality as a defining factor of your identity, and to stereotypes in general.

Surely, you have a lot more in common with a Spaniard from Seville who's on the same side as you of the political spectrum, who shares your view on humanity or comes from the same social class as you, than you have with any given Catalan, just by being Catalans. I've asked many of my Catalan friends what makes them Catalan, and so far no one has come up with an answer that incorporates all Catalans as well as distinguish them from all other nationalities. Nationalities are powerful myths, and the fiction holds as long as we choose to believe in it, but your nationality isn’t the most important defining factor of your identity.

You say that your personal values are different from those who people associate with Spain. So what are the perceived Spanish values, and how do they differ from yours or the Catalan values?

The fact that someone doesn't recognise themselves in the stereotypes of Spain doesn’t make them more or less Spanish. All stereotypes are built on selective features, which are either promoted by the "insiders" or the "outsiders", but they rarely apply to everyone belonging to the group they are meant to describe. Just like people are ignorant when it comes to your home country’s traditions, you most likely have limited knowledge of their traditions unless you’ve had the opportunity to live in their home country. That’s just how it is. I don’t see why I should be offended when people question the colour of my hair or ask me if I’ve seen many polar bears. I smile, and I tell them the truth – there are brunettes in Sweden, but no polar bears. If I have the time, I also tell them that I come from the very south of Sweden, where it doesn’t even snow that much. Though, I might find some of the comments too ignorant to be true – compared to your notion of bullfighting and flamenco – I would never let it offend me. You should also think of the fact that there are Catalans who like bullfighting and flamenco. I know, they might not be many but still, the fact that they like these things don’t give them less of a right to consider themselves Catalans. In other words, liking or disliking bullfighting and flamenco doesn’t make anyone neither Spanish, nor Catalan. They are stereotypes, nothing more, nothing less.

My words should not be seen as a defence of a specific nationality, but an argument against the importance that some people give to nationalities in general.

And then a little note for Anonymous, who said “I notice this with other Catalans too, always switching to Spanish to please the “master””. The most basic function of a language is to communicate so switching language should not be seen as paying respect to the “master”, but an effective way of communicating. I’ve had many Catalans talking in Catalan to me, though they were fully aware of the fact that we would have communicated better if they had been talking Spanish to me. They used language as a political tool, rather than a tool of communication. I just find that attitude sad. I value the moments of interaction with people from different backgrounds and cultures, and what makes me sad is the enforcement of boundaries, knowing that crossing them can be, and has been in my life, an enriching experience.

ian llorens said...

Everyone can say whatever he or she wants, but I do not think that a Dane like you knows better than me, the way I feel.
I am not going to repeat my core values here and how they differ from the Spanish values. I am not going to explain you why I feel much closer to my Andorran and Balearic friends or to my French cousin Jordi Llorens, who was born and lives in the French Catalonia than to an Andalusian "señorito". I already provided you with bibliography (Vicens i Vives's Catalonia News) and you can read it by yourself.

The only think we ask for is respect.
And I speak many languages and I always use the one that the other person prefers.

Agh, you are not a Dane, you are Swedish, isn't it the same?

Sara said...

First of all, if your comment on "all you ask for is respect" somehow reflects that you think my comment showed lack of respect I'm sorry. Still, I don't believe disagreeing with you is showing you lack of respect.

I'm of the opinion that we are first of all humans and that we can share identities over national borders that are stronger than the national identity. By your comment I can only conclude that you don't agree, which is fine - it's your feeling/opinion.

Hahaha - Dane, Swede? Doesn't really matter. To be correct it says that I'm Swedish on my passport, but on a cultural level it doesn't make much of a difference, and I speak both languages. However, as you put so much importance on nationality, it could be considered a bit arrogant of you to say so. I'll prefer to take it as an intention to a provocative joke though... I didn't tell you that you were neither Spanish, nor Catalan. I was only saying that I don't see the difference more than on a passport and on stereotypes. Besides that, I'd get to know every person based on their action and attitudes, not on their nationality. I get your point though - who I am I, to say that I first of all see you as a human being when you consider yourself Catalan.

"I am not going to repeat my core values here and how they differ from the Spanish values." As you say repeat, you make me think that you've already explained it. Maybe you've done so here on the blog. If so, I'd be grateful if you could direct me to the correct posting.

I've studied nationalism for four years and so far I haven't come across a book that explains the difference between being Spanish and Catalan, or any other nationalities, without referring to emotions. Now, a feeling in itself is of course important, that's also one of the main reasons why I find these debates interesting. Still, I'm trying to find out what the feeling is based on. As I can't tell from personal experience, I sortofish lack that feeling, I always hope that people like you, who truly feel that you belong to a specific nationality, will explain the feeling to me. Of course I understand that you're not up for "repeating your core values here and how they differ from the Spanish values". After all, I'm a complete stranger, but I thank you for the book recommendation you've given me and wish you all the luck of becoming a Catalan politician.

(My comment on language was not for you, it was for Anonymous, who said “I notice this with other Catalans too, always switching to Spanish to please the “master””.)

Garci said...

Hello Ian and everybody. Back to this interesting blog. I must say I have been extremely please with many of Sara's opinions, since I mostly feel identified with them. And it's refreshing to read something like that when you are mostly used to opinion's purely made from subjective, not often demonstrable feelings and half-truths.

I wanted to add, Ian, a couple of things, regarding stereotyping. I consider myself Spanish (which is not the same as "feeling" Spanish, at least according to my personal point of view). For a feeling I have actually always felt North-Central Iberian specifically, or Old-Castilian (not the same thing, but I tend to feel more the first point). I have always (as many people from Old Castile, felt no identification at all with flamenco, siesta, and even with bullfighting. No identification with Madrid (I have lived in Barcelona for many years and feel more barcelonian). No identification with the Mediterranean (Old Castile has always looked to the North...actually Santander is often called Valladolid's beach, though now it's shared with the bilbainos).
This does not make me less Spanish, simply because I see Spain as a diverse array of people, cultures and places, climates, etc... Hence, I can't accept Ian's arguments for dettaching himself as someone with values different from a "Spaniard", because for me there might be an average set of values for a Spaniard, but accompanied with an extremely large variance.

If you want an anecdote from my side: I always kind of found very funny as Old Castilian, that many Catalans put me together with people from Andalucia, when me (and many others) always assumed that both places are very similar (warm temperatures where most of the population live, Mediterranean sea influence, Mediterranean food and diet, olive trees!!)...

Thanks, I hope this will make you think a bit, though do not intend to convince you of anything. I'm too old to pretend that. :)

Garci said...

sorry, when I said both places being similar I meant Catalonia and Andalucia.

Garci said...

per cert, t'he vist avui pul.lulant pel idem. :). Salutacions.

Monica said...

I think that it is easy to "pass" regarding nationality when you belong to a nationality that always have been in a conquerer's situation in the past.

Garci said...

Monica: yours is an argument I've heard often, yes. It may or may not be true and, unfortunately, there is no way to ascertain it right now. Do you think Sara's opinion also lies in the same category? Let me advance your answer: no. And I could give you also the reason why you'd say that, but again, it would be my personal vision and difficult to test too..so I see no point on showing it.

Anonymous said...

Sara, admittedly you’re right about communication being the first priority, and I do speak Spanish when I can see the person I’m speaking with cannot understand Catalan. I think I was just expressing my visceral frustration about encountering people that expect me to speak Spanish as if it was my duty, instead of giving me the freedom to express myself in my language, even if I do change to Spanish for the benefit of whomever I may be speaking to.

On another note, you are speaking from the point of view of a person who’s nation and nationality is recognized around the world. You are a Swede regardless of whether you think that it is important or not, but a Catalan as a Catalan has no identity in the world outside of Catalonia. Even though Catalans have a rich history as a people that dates back at least a thousand years, in the eyes of the world they do not really exist. It is easy for you to say nationalities are un-important, you do not have to constantly justify your existence as a Swede, or a Spaniard in the case of Garci. I’m guessing that is what Monica’s comment was referring to, and I just wanted to expand on it.

Sara said...

Monica & Anonymous: To have conversations or discussions with people that disagree with me on politics is something that I find very developing. I get to see the world through someone else’s eyes, which will develop and modify my opinions. There’s always someone that has seen something that I haven’t discovered, and that person will show the issue to me in a completely different light. However, I find it unfair that my opinions are disregarded just because of what nation or country I belong to. I think we all have the right to be judged by, and appreciated for, our actions and thoughts, not by our origin.

It is true, that when a nation is threatened or repressed it can be used as a source for enhancing the patriotic feeling. However, it does not necessarily work the other way. Non-threatened or unquestioned nationalities don’t automatically become unimportant. It’s a weak argument to say that it is easy for us, who have an unquestioned national identity, to say that nationality doesn’t matter, when you take into account the fact that nationality in many cases matter both for the conqueror and the conquered, the questioned and the unquestioned. One of the greatest examples would be the USA. It is our time’s super power. Still, nationalism or patriotism, as some wish to call it, is a major force for its members and a powerful political tool. There might be personal reasons behind why we feel the way we feel, but in all cases there is a process, a chosen path that could have been a different one. I don’t feel that my nationality isn’t important because I’m a Swede, or a conqueror. If that was the case there would be no Swedish nationalism, or any strong national identity in any other conqueror nations or states, but there is. Nationalism can provoke strong feelings and/or be used as a political tool in strong and accepted nations, as well as in threatened and questioned ones.

In the case of Sweden, it is correct to place it among the conquerors. (Interestingly enough, I wouldn’t belong to the conqueror category though, as I’m from a part of Sweden that was conquered.) It is also correct to say that the Swedish identity goes two ways – it is recognised both by the included and the excluded. Still, the result is not that it is just “easy to pass”. There are Swedes that feel strongly about their nationality, and there are Swedes, like me, who don’t – it is what it says on my passport, but emotionally it doesn’t mean anything to me. So for Anonymous, I think it is important to make a difference between nation and state. I obviously belong to the Swedish state, but whether I belong to the Swedish nation or not, is not up to you to decide. There’s a legal aspect, and an emotional aspect. Most Catalans are Spaniards in the legal aspect, whether they like it or not. However, whether they belong to the Spanish or the Catalan nation, or if they don’t belong to any nation at all, I think is entirely up to them to decide. That doesn’t change my basic assumption that we are first of all humans and that we can share identities over national borders that can be stronger than the national identity. What you fail to see is that I don’t find it important to justify my existence as a Swede because I’d like to be treated as a human being and respected for being an individual, not a Swede. Being a Swede is not the most important feature of my identity.

Maybe, I shouldn’t have made the effort to write all of this. After all, I’m just a Swede and a Swede’s opinion on nationalism doesn’t really count ;-)

Anonymous said...

Sara, I think you misunderstood what I was trying to say. I do value your opinions and I think your participation in this discussion has opened up interesting dialogue.
I’m not sure how I can explain what I’m trying to say effectively in a medium such as a comments section of a blog and maybe it is coming through as dismissive, but that is not my intent.

Sara said...

Anonymous, I’m sorry for failing to understand what you were saying… I can only agree with you – the comment section of a blog isn’t the most convenient medium for a discussion.

Ian, though I feel limited by discussing on the comment section of a blog, I really think you deserve some cred for being able to get a discussion going on your blog. The rest of us just dream of that ;-) On the political blog that I write for, the comments are few, and on the travel blog that I recently started, my last comment was by a lady who was wondering “why for god’s sake” I don’t write in my native tongue as my English is such a pain to read ;-) So cred to you for making people from different backgrounds interact on your blog!

Kaylude said...

Well, I as an American with Spanish ancestors, have to admit that the siesta, flamenco, bullfighting are perhaps the first images that may come to someone's mind when thinking of Spain. Any part of Spain if I may say so. It is as if me being American automatically tells the rest of the world that I like country music, hip-hop, eat fast food, am overweight, etc... Hmm, or even that I may be blonde with what, blue eyes???? And from Texas, yes Texas. All Americans are from Texas. Someone may think that. Well, I don't like country or hip-hop, i do not eat the fast food, i am not overweight, i do not have the blonde hair-blue eyes, and I am not from Texas. I do have to admit, I love that true flamenco, and the sardanas. Well should Catalunya become independent? I leave that for you to continue working on. I can help supply the "cojones" since last time I checked us Americans have them. Jaja. I am extremely impressed with your knowledge of the history of Catalunya. I admire this obsession of yours. Are you serious about the tourists at your factory asking about where you guys took naps? Oh my..

Anonymous said...

"my last comment was by a lady who was wondering “why for god’s sake” I don’t write in my native tongue as my English is such a pain to read"

Sara, I think your English is great, I'm surprised by that comment, unless that lady making the comment has trouble reading English.

California CAT said...

Even though I’m a Catalan nationalist, I have to agree with Garci on the subject of values. I think Spanish and Catalan core values are pretty comparable with each other in many ways, especially given the geographic and historic ties.
Ian…can you clarify the differences to which you are referring?

Garci said:“opinion's purely made from subjective, not often demonstrable feelings and half-truths”.
Blogs are by their nature subjective, and everyone that has posted comments on this particular blog is making subjective observations to one degree or another. Unless you are living in a small village in a forgotten corner of the world and have never heard of Spain or had any contact with a Spaniard or Catalan to influence your opinion, you will be making subjective observations based on your life experience. We can try being objective, but our life experience will always be there in the background, coloring what we think ever so lightly.

qfwfq78 said...

In the debates of nationalities you have to constantly hear "Why separate when Europe is uniting?" "Why use catalan if they all speak spanish?" " Catalan is a burden for business..." etc.

My cousin shares catalan roots with me and she is living in Madrid, but she is against nationalisms. She asked it very simply:

"What is wrong in being Spaniard?"

The answer is very simple. I am sure it can be great, wonderful to be Spaniard... IF you feel Spaniard. For sure there is also a lot in common between Spaniards and Catalans.

The problem is, if you feel Catalan, this is automatically regarded by many as negative. You need to continuously justify why, why, why.
I find it difficult to understand why so many people disregard the reasons given: cultural heritage, language, history... how come this means nothing to them? I really wonder, perhaps it´s because its nation is its state and they take these things for granted, they do not see the "issue"... I don´t know

What spanish central goverment and many people fail to realise is that if a Spain existed in which cultural variety was respected and even encouraged, we would be much more comfortable being part of that Spain. Unfortunately, it is extremely unlikely that this "Spain" will ever exist.

We only want to be who we are without being attacked or giving explanations... why is this so much to ask?

Sara said...

Anonymous: Ta! :-)

Qfwfq78: I don’t consider it to be negative to feel Catalan. I just wish to understand the feeling of belonging to a specific nation, and even more, I wish to understand how that feeling becomes one of the strongest feelings and how it can be used as a political tool. I don’t ask only Catalan nationalists for justifications/explications. I ask questions to all nationalists because I’d like to understand.

The fact that I don’t find cultural heritage, language and history sufficient as an explanation should not be interpreted as a disregard of these factors. I think they are important, but cultural heritage is not always bound to the nation, neither is history, and though you might see language as a determinate factor, there are different nations that have the same language, and at the end of the day anyone can learn a language, but it isn’t an automatic ticket to any specific nation.

“Perhaps it´s because its nation is its state and they take these things for granted” – The nation-state is a myth! The borders of states and nations rarely coincide. Spain is far from being the only state with various nations (or nationalities as they like to call it), neither is the Catalan nation the only one that exist within more than one state. I don’t know what it is that you think we take for granted because the state you think we live in is hard to find.

It is impossible to argue against your point on the fact that cultural variety has neither been respected, nor encouraged through some historical periods in Spain. Still, that attitude has changed to a great extent. Yes, there are those that are stuck in the past, who have a narrow-minded way of seeing reality, but there are also those who are of a completely different mentality. These two categories of people exist in all states and in all nations.

Now, disagreeing with you is not the same thing as attacking you. They are two very different things… When it comes to the questions/requests for explanations, I’d hope you could see it as sign of other people’s interests in your opinions and an attempt to understand. There isn’t much harm in that…

qfwfq78 said...

Hello Sara... it is fine, I was not referring to your posts as attacks, for sure not everyone reacts bad!

You disagree, but are rational about it... that is perfect; I have experienced many other situations that I interpret as attacks because they are just a plain denial or disregard of our identity, dismissing it as "useless".

I guess nationalism is even fueled by the very same intent of systematically suppressing a cultural identity. It is an extremely complex matter and for sure politics is involved.

I do not want to enter in a detail description of why being catalan is different as being spanish...
I guess everyone has its own reasons.

The point of my comment was: Our identity is what it is... and we would like to keep it.


Nuri said...

First of all, my kudos to all the commenters: it's wonderful to see such a lengthy debate over such a controversial issue without flames, trolls and the like.

"Spain is far from being the only state with various nations (or nationalities as they like to call it)"
If someone says he's Flemish, people know he's from Belgium. When someone says he's Catalan... ::crickets chirp::
When you mention Switzerland, people know there are 4 official languages there (3, if they're not too bright). When you say you're a Catalan speaker... ::crickets chirp:: (if you're lucky, you'll be told "but that's a dialect")

As qfwfq pointed out, being Spanish wouldn't be a problem if Spain cared to give a multi-national, multi-cultured image to the world, but the thing is (unlike the "spontaneously generated" stereotypes other peoples, like Americans, have to deal with), the central government has over the years deliberately ommited, downplayed or misinformed this multiculturality - and by this I include also the non-flamenco areas of Spain, as Garci well explained.

I live in Germany since 18 months and have cared to learn the language, it's far from perfect but it gets me by in shops, the doctor etc. I don't expect these people to speak to me in English though many can. There are some Spaniards, though, that live in Catalonia since 40 or mre years and not only refuse to learn Catalan, but they feel insulted when spoken to in Catalan and even feel they have the right to feel so, simply because Catalonia is part of Spain.

"I’ve had many Catalans talking in Catalan to me (...) They used language as a political tool, rather than a tool of communication."
Yeah, sadly there are such people too, who believe the moment you step on Catalonia you must be competent with the language. And I particularly dislike them because "thanks" to them, many people see the whole use of Catalan language as a political tool, when it's not. When I'm spoken in Schwäbisch dialect here, I don't see it as a political tool; when I see the other person trying to get me to understand -and me failing- we laugh it off: they're simply not good at Hochdeutsch. Just like many Catalans are not good at simply switching to Spanish, but nooooo, we haven't that right, we speak Catalan on purpose to piss off the rest of the world < /sarcasm>

Of course offence goes both ways, and you can well choose not to offend when someone is ignorant or prejudiced about your country. But when you explain and people disregard your explanation believing, and intending, that you should not be different from his stereotypes and prejudices, and it happens over and over, it sort of gets on your nerves.

Sara, your opinions are interesting and enrichen the discussion. I have the impression you are quite dispassionate about nationalities. Of course a nationality is more than a passport - but sometimes it can be hard to separate the two, and so, I understand your bemusement with the whole issue.
"Perhaps it´s because its nation is its state and they take these things for granted"
This is by no means a negative comment. My friends in Argentina -where I was born and raised- never quite understood that I felt Catalan. I, for one, can truly say without guilt that I don't feel Spanish, though my passport says so, because I was raised in a Catalan household but not in Spain. My Catalan mother will say she's Spanish and it doesn't conflict with her catalanity. I can't. And it took me moving to Europe to realise how Argentinian I truly feel. So yes, our nation is something we may take for granted. Perhaps it's good that we do: means we've known no oppression. May the day come when Catalans can take our nation for granted too.

Sara said...

Qfwfq78: Sorry for misinterpreting you…

I can understand that you don’t want to describe in detail how being Catalan is different from being Spanish, but if you ever do feel like it I’d be happy to listen ;-) I guess, that the Catalan identity and culture are mostly compared to their Spanish counterparts because the Catalan nation (not all of it, I know…) exists within the Spanish state’s borders. Still, I would find it just as interesting to dig into explanations on how the Catalan identity differs from any other national identities.

I agree: Your identity is what it is… and if I was to decide you’d get to keep it… but, I’d still be asking “what is it?” and I wouldn’t be doing that out of disrespect but out of curiosity ;-)

Sara said...

Nuri: First of all, I’d like to say that it’s good to have one more voice in the discussion ;-)

I see your point with the Flemish. There are known and not so known nations. However, I’m not so sure that I would put the Catalan nation in the not so known category. Most of the time, when my Catalan friends say that they’re Catalans the reply is: Ah Barcelona! A big smile and then it’s followed by a harangue of party memories. There’s more to Catalonia than Barcelona, and you might hope that the tourists would do something more than party when they visit, but at least they know what corner of Europe we’re talking about. Even if your experience is different from mine when it comes to people’s knowledge of where Catalonia is and what Catalan is I think you would have to admit that the Catalan nation wouldn’t be the only not so known nation. I mean, how many people know where Sápmi is - without “googling” it ;-) - and that Saami isn’t one, but several languages (if they even knew that we were talking about languages)? I’m not saying it’s good that Catalonia or the Catalan language is unknown. I’m just saying that if it can be considered unknown, it wouldn’t be the only unknown nation. I’m afraid that this is the reality that many small nations face, and that includes nations with states. You wouldn’t believe how many times, during my time in Spain, I said “I’m from Sweden” and had a cute reply about how lovely Switzerland is. I know the pronunciation of these two countries is similar in Spanish, but I’m fairly sure that I pronounce it correctly.

I commented on the Spanish government’s role in spreading an untrue picture of Spain the other day in a reply to Ian on my blog - I'll repeat it... I have to say that I’m not quite sure what their policies are and how they carry them out when it comes to portraying Spain culturally abroad. However, if it is as you say, that they downplay the cultural variety, I think they are doing themselves a disservice.

As an immigrant (or long term traveller) to any country, from any country I think it is essential to learn the language of the host country, or new home country. To some degree out of respect, but above all for your own benefit. Through the language we get access to so much more of the new culture. I’d be the first one to recommend everyone living in Catalonia to learn Catalan, but I assume that some wouldn’t follow my advice because they already speak one of the official languages.

I don’t think of the Catalan language as only a political tool, I see its other values too, but I dislike it when people use it as a political tool on me. In the cases I was referring to, I’m very convinced that Catalan was used to make a political point due to the arguments the speakers were making, but I don’t think they did it to “piss me off”. However, it did “piss me off” because I was making an extreme effort to understand them while they didn’t even have to listen to me as my Catalan at the time being was at the level of a three-year-old’s. I call that disrespectful! I’d still be struggling more than them if we were talking in Spanish, but we would have been closer to being on the same level. By no means, do I believe that all Catalans can be put in that category, but unfortunately they exist. I didn’t let it stop me taking Catalan classes – that would have been silly – but I was less eager to learn after those conversations.

When it comes to your comment on stereotypes and prejudices, I’m not sure whether to interpret it as if you think that I might not be exposed to the same treatment. If that is the case, I can only repeat what I said before - I get that too, I get put in boxes that don’t fit me! We just have different ways of dealing with it…

Either you haven’t read all my comments, or you’ve misunderstood my point on passports. I say a nation is one thing, a state is another. There are nations without states, and there are states with several nations. I don’t feel particularly attached to a specific nation, which I guess, makes me nationless. However, I can’t change the fact that my passport says that I’m Swedish. This does not tell me that I belong to the Swedish nation as people of various nations happen to belong to the Swedish state. It means that I’m a Swedish citizen – it’s just a passport - but I do not have any strong bonds to the Swedish nation. So “of course a nationality is more than a passport” doesn’t make sense to me. Nationality is not connected to a passport, it’s not more, nor less - it’s different. Citizenship is connected to a passport. I have no problem whatsoever with separating the notions of state (to which citizenship and passport are connected) and nation.

In your case, and if I’m correct, in Ian’s case as well, living abroad not only made you see your nation and nationality in a different light, but it enhanced your national feeling. That’s one path. However, there are other paths… I’ve lived “abroad” for the majority of the last decade, which means more or less my whole adult life. I don’t think I took my nation for granted before that, I simply just didn’t reflect over it and I didn’t think of Sweden as anything but a country, which isn’t the same thing as taking my nation for granted. When people question you, you start questioning yourself – what am I, who am I, what defines me. Part of your answer to those questions was “my nation”. That was not the answer I came up with… Different paths, not one better than the other, but different.

qfwfq78 said...

Hello Sara

I will try to give an explanation.

Let's start by clarifying that I am not "really" catalan, I am argentine with catalan roots as well as Nuri. It also took me to be far away to learn to "embrace" my argentine identity.

So, as argentine, castillian is my mother tongue, and although I have always understood catalan I only started speaking and writing it
in my twenties. I only then truly understood how vital it is to the core of catalan culture. With language I rediscovered culture,
traditions, etc that were already with me, and I realised how "catalan" I was brought up.

Although we agree that the flamenco-dancing torero is a
stereotype, to me it really represents a lot of what Spain is
and how many of its people are. I do not feel at home or comfortable on such an environment. I do not feel at home in Seville or Madrid, no matter how much I enjoy visiting them. And I do feel at home in Catalonia, although it is an ocean away from my birthplace.

On top of people being different, you have language, culture, history, etc, sorry if this sounds repeating or boring but they are very powerful and constitute normally the basis for national identity. It may not be a 100% direct correlation but there is a whole lot to it.

And finally... as we discussed, very often catalan identity is attacked with the motto of equality
among spaniards... this is so wrong... equality is not the same
as homogeneity!! We agree that there is not a dictatorship anymore. However continuous and systematic attacks against everything non-homogenuous are still a daily reality, and this
only triggers in many of us distrust and resentment to the Spanish state, and reinforcing a
negative image of what being spanish is. I know for a fact that
this is very unfair to many wonderful spanish people, but putting it in a binary sentence this is: a fascist centralism versus a federal republican attitude. Just look at the goverments.
This may be in a way irrational but I think understandable as well.

So, you see, it is a strange mix of things and I am sure it is subjective, but the outcome is that, of feeling catalan and not

Sara said...

Qfwfq78, thanks a lot for sharing your personal experiences. I really appreciate the effort you've made to explain to me what it means to you to be Catalan.

I can't claim to have reached an understanding of the phenomenon of nationalism, but I'm sure the discussion has added something to my thinking. Thanks!

Garci said...

Sorry for the lapsus..I've been away for a couple of weeks. A couple of things:

First, my land (a land without borders) or that of my ancestors plus that defining my multicultural personality, has been conquerer and conquered. Examples of the first you can name it, Monica, and examples of the last you have also heard of them but have avoided to remind them..Numantia, Osma, Almazan, visigoth incursions, Al-Andalus incursions, Basque incursions, Navarrese incursions, Aragonese incursions, French, British, Suevians, Vandals, Alans, Carthaginese, and so many others.

Second, your land has also been a conquerer (though I hate to give human adjectives to territories)..in the middle ages you have several good proofs of it, and you know them well too.

Conquest, what a word, but not specific to military movements. Is it not conquest what we all (may I say WE?) do with many countries in Africa with our economic explotation? if you apply economic submission then the numbers of conquests that all lands produce may be amazing.

Now, to anynimous: you are very wrong. I do have to constantly justify my existence as Castilian. Some in this blog have commented how unknown is Catalonia....I completely and thoroughly disagree...many many people know Catalonia, not only in Europe, but in such countries as the US. However, all my life I have had to explain where I am from by adding a definition like "the land between Madrid and the north Coast of Spain". If there is a nation unknown, that is Castile. It was Castile the nation that put its flag in America in the XV and XVI centuries, and yet, 98% of the people I have met (cultured people) do not know about it. However, I don;t get bothered about it, I just need a bit more time to explain slowly, and that's all. Noone gets annoyed by me putting a dismissive face about it. I just explain it, in the same way I explain many other things to my students when I know they don't know something.

California CAT said...

Here in the U.S. I sometimes find it necessary to explain to some people that Spain is part of Europe, so I’m not surprised that Garci has to explain what he means when he says he is Castilian. On the other hand, I have to disagree with him in regards to Catalonia. While it may be true that the world may have heard of Catalonia more than Castille, the main point I got from the previous posters was not a geographical one, but rather a cultural and linguistic one. If everyone knows where Catalonia is and knows it as just a region in Spain…period, then they may as well not know it at all. I always get a puzzled and confused look when I tell people I’m half Catalan, and even more confusion when I mention my quarter Asturian heritage; if I were part Welsh, I doubt I would get this puzzled look. Even though Wales is considered part of Great Britain, it is understood that most of the people living there are Welsh, and not English. Here in the U.S., if you ask the average person about their heritage, you may hear something such as they are one quarter Italian, one quarter Welsh, and one half Scottish, I rarely hear someone say they are three quarters “British”. Spain on the other hand, as far as the average person here is concerned, is where they speak Spanish and everyone there is a Spaniard…period. All the different peoples and languages of Spain are non-existent as far as they’re knowledge is concerned You can blame Spanish nationalists for this, as they have stripped away the individuality of Castilians as much as that of Catalans, Basques and any other peoples of Spain, and promote an artificial image of Spain based on the grand and distorted visions of “you know who”.

Garci has a right to feel proud to be Castilian, and I hope he is able to educate people who do not understand, and I have a right to be proud of my Catalan, Asturian, and Lombard heritage, and to do the same to educate people. In my opinion, wanting your people to be recognized as a people is not a sin, it is just a celebration of our human diversity. The same goes for languages.

Nuri said...

California CAT: you could not have summarised it better. I commend you.

Miquel Marzabal Galano said...

I want to say that many people here does not seem to understand why Catalans are so uncomfortable with being seen as flamenco dancers, bull fighters and lazy siesta sleepers.
It is not just a matter of liking or disliking Spanish (=Andalusian or Castillian) clichés and traditions. It is not just a matter of being from a province of this European state (Spain) where these clichés are untrue.
It has a much deeper meaning, it is a painful sign of the international victory of the ones who are occupying us, humiliating us, stealing our money, prohibiting us, limiting us, letting us down, neglecting us, putting obstacles to our development and destroying our language and our culture. They have been doing this for the past 300 years, they are still doing this today and they will never cease doing it as long as we don’t have the ‘cojones’ to fight for democracy and freedom and get rid of them.

Catalunya is an occupied country. Catalunya has a limited democratic system. Limited and censured by the Spanish government. We are not free and we do not have full democracy because we are not allowed to organize referendums on our own.

The uncomfortable feeling comes from this serious and suffocating ongoing nightmare called Spain. There are many non-sovereign countries that have a similar feeling: Tibetans, Kurdish, Lapps, Indian natives, Scottish and many more.
In the world, Catalans are constantly confronted with the painful phenomenon that we do not exist. People speak to us in Spanish to please us, they say olé olé to us, sangria, ask us to show them how to dance flamenco, etc. This is very painful.
With all my respect to Spaniards. I do not have the syndrome of Stockholm. I cannot show any love to the culture that is making deliberately so much harm to mine.

I try to explain this to people from countries such as the Dutch (as I live in The Netherlands). And it is almost impossible for them to imagine.
I tell them: Imagine that Hitler wins the war and Holland becomes a province of Germany. The first 40 years Dutch names would be forbidden and you would be obliged to have a German name. The Dutch language would be forbidden for 40 years.
How would that feel?
The street names and names of cities would be translated into German and if you would travel around the globe people would see you as a German, as a part to blame for the holocaust and WW2. Even in Democracy the Germans will come to Holland and won’t learn Dutch (nowadays they do) as you are obliged to speak German anyway.
They will take away 10% of your bruto national income. They will prohibit intercontinental flights from Amsterdam airport, you will have to go to Frankfurt for that as they have the monopoly and power of decision, and they will hardly invest in any infrastructures in Holland. They will not allow you to compete internationally under Dutch identity, and will not allow you to have the Internet code .nl, because you are not a sovereign country. They will put Dutch people in prison who burn the German flag, but allow Germans to burn Dutch flags.
When you go abroad with your German passport people will see you as a grandson of the bad guys who started WW2, they will ask you how many Jews did your grandfather push into the ovens. They will speak to you in German to do you a favour, while your mother tongue is Dutch and you feel more a victim of Germany than a German.

This is exactly what happens to me almost every day. In Holland, after 400 years, people remind me of the 80-year war that the Spanish (and not the Catalans) did against the Dutch. They look at me as if I were an ancestor of the ones who fought here 400 years ago. Because in their eyes I am a Spaniard. And we Catalans did not have anything to do with that war.
South-Americans see me as an ancestor of the ones who went there to steal, plunder, kill and rape. While the Catalans were not allowed to do any business there and Catalonia was and still is as much a colony of Spain as Cuba.
Dutch people often say things in Spanish to me to do me a favour. I then tell them they are hurting my feelings. If they want to be nice to me they should say something in Catalan or shut up.
As a Catalan I feel a victim of Spain and not a Spaniard. After all what Spain is doing to destroy my country I cannot feel Spanish at all. That would be stupid!

I have learned that I am a happier person explaining my feelings to everyone who does this to me.
I don’t say I am from Barcelona. I say I am Catalan. I say:
“Do you know Catalonia? Catalunya is a divided country, there is a bit in France and another bit in Spain, and its capital is Barcelona”.
Two years ago I stopped speaking Spanish. To Dutch people who say things in Spanish to me I answer: I am sorry I don’t understand Spanish. I don’t speak Spanish. I only speak Catalan. Not Spanish.
There are many reasons not to speak Spanish. The first one is that I don’t want anyone to ever again think that my mother language is the Spanish language. I want every body to know that my mother language is Catalan. And this is very important.
The more people know about the Catalan issue the better I will feel about this whole situation.

Another reason is that as long as Catalans speak Spanish almost nobody will feel the need to learn Catalan.
We, Catalans, by speaking Spanish, are destroying our own language.
I do not speak Spanish in Holland. Not a word. And I don’t understand it either. Because this is the only way to make clear to everyone that my mother tongue is Catalan. Even if I say that my language is Catalan people keep saying things in Spanish to me. So the only way to stop this is by not even understanding it.
In Catalonia I do not speak Spanish because it is the only way to help non-Catalans who want to learn it. It is also the only way to convince the ones who did not intend to learn it.
It is the only way to avoid its extinction. As long as Catalans speak Spanish to everyone we are destroying our own language.
It is very good to use languages to communicate. But I am not going to kill my own language in order to communicate with people who come here to work in my country and are too lazy to learn my language.
If non-Catalans who come to Catalunya want to communicate with me they will have to learn Catalan.
Yes, languages are to communicate, so if you go to Sweden to live there and want to communicate with Swedish people LEARN SWEDISH FOR GOD SAKE! .
Of course Swedish people speak English, but if you want to sell your product and connect with them in their territory the only and best way to do that is by learning their language. So in Catalonia it is exactly the same.
And for these reasons and as long as these major problems are unsolved I will not speak Spanish any more.

So, I would like to call every Catalan citizen to do the same in order to save the Catalan language, to save the Catalan culture and to save your own dignity.
1. Say that you are Catalan and not Spanish
2. Say that Spanish is not your language. Only Catalan is.
3. Do not speak Spanish in order to remind people that it is not your language and culture.
4. Do not speak it in Catalonia in order to avoid the extinction of the Catalan language.
5. Always remember that the Catalan language will only be safe if we do not speak Spanish any more in Catalan territory, it will only be safe if Catalan language is necessary to communicate in Catalonia).

Do not take me wrong. I do not have anything against the Spanish language. I just want to save my own language from extinction. And this is the only way.

Garci said...


Right. I will add a couple of things.
First, the first ones exploiting cliches are some of you, including our relatively well-informed friend and blog's host. And we need to set up certain rules, since some things only seem to work one way. For example, when you say Spanish, you mention Andalusian or Castilian and associate that sentence with the previous one (flamenco, bullfighting and lazy siesta sleeping). As I thought I had said before, Castile does not have much to do with any of those, so you are once again exploiting a cliche.
Second, you wrote "Spanish(=Andalucian or Castilian)"... Once again, a cliche. What makes you think that I am more Spanish than you or more Spanish than a Murcian or a Valencian or an Asturian? I don't feel bad if people call me Spanish because, (I will repeat it) I AM SPANISH in a legal sense. People may also call me middle-age when I could not feel like it, or call me foreigner when I could feel more autoctonous than most.
They could call me engineer when I feel more like a scientist. They could tell me I am brown-haired when I might prefer to be blond. Or they could classify me as mid-class when I feel poorer.
But none of this cliches or classifications would really offend me, because I know (and this might be the trick) the difference between what is legal and what is my will. I know I'd want a porsche and a house in the middle of the mountains with its gardens but the reality is far from that. And the fact that I don't like the reality does not make me be less like that. Being Spanish is, once again, a legal issue, and precisely because of that, it is GREAT TO BE SPANISH, because one should be able to get rid of any misclassification. What I think we should work onto is breaking the cliches for what a Spaniard is, and telling people Spain is also munyeira, cider, platanos, or dulzainas, it is kalimotxo, mato, and migas con chorizo, it is ensaimada, quesada pasiega, and cecina. It is so many things that...it is nothing. I think that is the root of the problem...that some people need to feel strongly identified with a specific set of things..not many, just some simple things that you can use to identify someone and say: ooh..yes..he's so zimbabwean..or, in your case, if I see that you defend the use of catalan I might automatically recognize you as Catalan.

Well, Miguel, let me tell you something: I have been confounded for Catalan (I speak and I helped the teaching of Catalan at an Ivy League University for the first time in its history), I have been confounded for Welsh, Israelian, Italian,...and don't remember how many more. And I feel totally ok with it. That does not mean I'm not Castilian. I love Castile, but that is not going to make me obsessed with defending anything related to Castile.

Now, you might say again that I am like that because I have a state that represents me. Nothing farther from reality. I don't live in Castile. I don't even live in Spain or Southern Europe. My state has many times showed me how unfair are many things (the existence of nationalism is actually the worst for me). But I also understand that my state is so diverse that, yes, why not, there is a meaning in the existence of nationalism, as there is a meaning of the existence of Opus Dei, a communist party, small people, big people, or many more languages than the ones actually recognized (those languages that noone defends).

Finally, talking about languages: Miquel, your mother language (I guess it might not be your actual mother language, but I might be wrong, I'm basing my assumption in another cliche: your last names are Galician and Extremenyan respectively)) is far from extinction. So don't use that excuse, much exploited by nationalists. If you want to save a language from extinction, speak bable when you go to Barcelona, or gazeria, or any of the hundreds of languages in danger of extinction from Papua-New Guinea.

Cheers, glad to see you around here. By the way, your blog is well edited!

Miquel Marzabal Galano said...

Garci, hi!
Long time no see.
Thanks man.

You tell me you don't care that people takes you for a Welsh or Italian. Of course not! because this is not a sign for you that your language and your culture are unknown, in oblivion and oppressed. And also because there isn't any historical conflict that irritates you when somebody sees you for a Welsh or an Italian.

I can give you the example of Canadians who don't like it when people think they are Americans. Dutch people are often confused for Germans and they don't like it at all. Do you understand why?

Can you understand why Catalans like me don't like it when people see us as Spaniards?

I have no doubt that it is great to be Spanish. For you!
I am glad for you. Be a proud Spaniard, Please!

There is nothing wrong with being Spanish. But I don't want the Spanish nationality.
I have enough with being Catalan. Certainly taking into account what means for Catalans to be in Spain and to be Spanish. We are not allowed to decide anything Garci. They have taken us the right to organize referendums. We are fighting the whole year to get things any souvereign country has by default. Respect, a normal linguistic situation, an own government with the power of decision necessary to take care that we can compete with the world economy, with intercontinental flights (now forbidden to many air lines) , with investing in roads, railroads, with laws, with an own government that loves our culture.
Don't tell me that the government of Madrid is taking good decisions for Catalunya. We are fucked up by staying in Spain man.
Will you say the Spanish government has been taking great decisions for Catalonia?

And, are you really unable to understand the uncomfortable feeling I described? Is it really that difficult to understand?

Garci said...


Not much time to comment. Only one thing, the most well-known anything about my culture is probably the SanFermines, and they are pretty much on the edge of what I would consider "my" culture. Anyway, viva San Fermin, today, 7th July!!!!

Agus said...

Pujol in London: business as usual.

http://www.catalunyaaccio.org/elnord/opinio/2008/07/encaixisme-pujoli-londres.html (in Catalan)

A critique of the gutless politician par excellence, by Víctor Alexandre,:


LUIS said...

To Sara:

You are right. It´s a pleasure read you.I´m absoluty agree with you. At the end there is no other reason or argument to nacionalims that feelings. It´s like a religion that only with faith could be defended so as more nacionalist you are as more fanatic of that "religion" you are.

To Ian and much other ones:
About the "flamenco, siesta, bullfighting,..." stereotypes I´m from Madrid and I don´t feel they represent me and I would prefer another ones. I´m sure that even Andalusian people aren´t identified by this stereotypes but who cares, It is not a big issue, It doesn´t mind me at all. It´s just a funny thing that probably spanish (included catalonian) people think is more negative point of view than is thougth for foreign people.
In fact, despite (or by this who knows) these "negative" stereotypes Barcelona and Madrid are considered as the third and fifth better european cities to live for executives so probably they are not as negative or as important as we think.

To everyone:
Sorry about my bad English.