Common sense for Catalonia

Regrettably, as we speak, the first arrests resulting from the confrontation between the Spanish State and the Government of Catalonia are taking place. Public officers of the Catalan government will soon be charged.

Nobody can question, legally, that these officers appear to have committed a criminal offence. They are acting against legally binding resolutions by Spanish judges that are technically legitimate. The resolutions adopted by the Catalan Government in order to initiate the referendum have been declared illegal. They are not only in breach of the Spanish constitutional system. They are even in breach of their own rules in Catalonia. The motion passed by the Catalan Parliament in support of the referendum did not respect their own laws, as I explained in my previous article. The Spanish legal system, similarly to the UK system, regards the breach of a legal duty by a public office as a criminal offence. Over here is called “Misconduct in Public Office”.

I don’t think the arrests are part of a campaign of arbitrary police repression. Everyone knows that the Government of Spain is under fire, nationally and internationally, for its inability to deal with all sorts of Catalan political demands in the last decade. The eyes of all commentators in the world are cast on these arrests. That is why I am sure the police and the public prosecutors will act not only proportionally and humanly, but exquisitely. Any allegations of brutality would give strength to those who want straight independence and the Spanish Government, politically clumsy as they may be, are not stupid.

The intervention of the police, confiscating databases and documents that are essential for the celebration of the referendum will most likely render it impossible to hold. Also, as we speak, people in Barcelona and other places are peacefully demonstrating against the arrests, demanding a referendum. The calls for peaceful demonstration and non-violent resistance by Joan Tardá (ERC) this morning suggest that there is a fear that some smaller groups may want to use the public uproar to justify less-than-peaceful actions.

The whole situation is utterly lamentable. Millions of people in Catalonia have been exposed to hard anti-Spanish propaganda by their Government. “Spain is robbing us” was one of the most popular claims of activists in Catalan nationalists parties. They are understandably upset and furious.

Meanwhile, a high proportion of Catalans experience political disempowerment in silence. In the last elections the majority of voters opted for parties that do not support independence. These pro-independence parties have a majority of seats but not of votes.

The case for independence made by mainstream Catalanist parties is based on distortions of history and political interests of the lowest kind. I cited a recent example in my previous article of blatant historic manipulation and explained that independence is being used as a political tool. This is irresponsible. And so is the whole policy of the PP, the Spanish Conservatives, who not only torpedoed the revamped 2006 Catalan Statute of Autonomy, but failed to make a meaningful case for public support of unity of the Spanish State in Catalonia. Nor they considered dialogue with Catalan Governments and other Spanish parties. Their perverse strategy could be summarised as this: relax and Laissez-faire because if things turn nasty, the Rule of Law is on our side.

On the positive side, yesterday, a motion by the Ciudadanos (Citizens) party, who are strongly against any referendum and defend the constitutional unity of Spain (interestingly, this is a Catalan-born party and its leader, Albert Rivera and its main political figures are Catalans) was defeated in the Spanish Parliament. Ciudadanos wanted Spanish MPs to vote in favour of a declaration of support of the Spanish Government and all the public officers dealing, in one way or another, with the referendum, including those majors in Catalonia who are not facilitating the preparations for the referendum in their local authorities and are being pressurised by vociferous pro-independence groups. The reason why the motion was not passed is that PSOE (Socialist Party) voted against it. The Socialists had suggested an amendment to the motion whereby a paragraph calling for both the Spanish and the Catalan Governments to open a dialogue was to be introduced. Ciudadanos rejected the amendment and they, alongside the Conservatives, PP, were consequently defeated.

The majors of Barcelona, Colau, and Madrid, Carmena, are calling for dialogue. The Socialist PSOE have accepted to be part of a parliamentary commission, proposed by left-wing Unidos Podemos, in which Catalan political parties would obviously participate, that would consider the options ahead and initiate a mature conversation.

Now that the referendum game seems to be over, there will have to be elections in Catalonia. It is almost inevitable. It is time for a new concerted progressive action in the Spanish Parliament, where the minority Conservative government have to rely on Ciudadanos and, interestingly, the Basque Nationalist Party (PNV) for approving their budgets and pass major laws.

My biggest concern is to do with public perceptions and emotions. Think about ardent Brexiters in Question Time and their heated rhetoric and arguments. Who will explain now to their Catalan equivalents, the “Catalexiters”, that the Spanish State does not really steal money from Catalonia? That independence would not actually bring back all those millions a week to their pockets. That sovereignty in the 21st Century is better exercised in a federal way. That Spain is not a Francoist creation, a historic evil monster of warriors and ignorant peasants who live off laborious Catalans. Who will tell them that for most Spaniards Catalonia is also part of their “Spanish Nation”, as much as for many Catalans the province of Alicante (strongly pro-Spanish, in the Valencia region) is also part of their “Catalan nation” (This is called the Catalan Countries)? After a relentless cultural campaign of perverse Catalan nationalism over the years, a lot of hard work to appease and educate is needed.

On the Spanish side, who will be able to persuade those fervent centralists, who wish for the abolishment of the current federal structure of the Spanish State, that Catalonia is, as I believe it to be, also a nation? That nations overlap. They have been also intoxicated by Spanish nationalist right-wing propaganda.

To me, there is an urgent need to increase grass-root educational efforts at all levels, promote alternative media and preach tolerance whilst being open and determined about the distortions and lies of elites of nationalist politicians who are to blame for all this.

The Catalan Countries overlap with other historic and political territories, mainly in Spain and France, extending well beyond Catalonia. Bilingualism is the norm in all those places. A complex set of variable multilayered national-regional identities and loyalties populate those territories.

Image result for España ens roba

Madrid is robbing us. Spain is robbing us. The subsidised Spain lives off productive Catalonia. propaganda from the two main parties of the current Catalan Government, plus newspaper cover.

The Catalan Plot

Fawlty Parliament

Yesterday, 6 September 2017, the Catalan Parliament approved the law that sets in motion an independence referendum to be held on the 1st of October 2017, the so-called 1-O.

The controversial law was supported by the MPs of Together for the Yes (Junts pel Sí, a coalition made up, mainly, by the centre-right catalanist PDeCat, formerly Convergencia, and the moderate left-wing pro-independence ERC). The MPs of CUP, a revolutionary left wing organisation who supports straight disobedience to the Spanish State, also voted in favour.

Sadly, yesterday’s unprecedentedly shambolic session of the Catalan Parliament means only one thing: the Catalan political institutions, which the Catalans themselves have recovered from history and updated to modern times, have lost a great deal of their democratic legitimacy and credibility. The legal advisors of the Catalan Parliament, as well as the opposition parties, had objected to the process chosen to pass this controversial law, as it prevented any debate and amendments. A majority of MPs of the Catalan Parliament (a very slim one which certainly does not represent the majority of voters) have broken the rules of their own institutions and decided that anything goes.

Walk on the wild side

I can see why one would morally object to abiding the law in certain situations. Dictatorial regimes impose their will not only through political violence. Their Rule of Law becomes an instrument of repression. However, this is not the case in Catalonia. The levels of personal, economic, cultural and political freedom in Catalonia are unparalleled in Europe.

Yesterday’s parliamentary session represents a blatant abuse of power. It may carry criminal sanctions for the perpetrators. But why would a sector of the political elite of the right-wing liberal Catalan Regime, well connected with the economic establishment, support a measure such as this in the Catalan Parliament? Why would the moderate left-wing ERC betray their tradition of respecting the Rule of Law?

Mr Fawlty has sacked Manuel. Was it constructive dismissal?

In my view, the Catalan right-centre and moderate left are actually scared of holding this independence referendum. Whatever the result, the outcome will be extremely controversial and hard to deal with. The referendum is illegal and the question of independence is extremely divisive within Catalonia and beyond. The propaganda used to promote the pro-independence cause in the Catalan public media has fueled anti-Spanish hysteria coupled by economic delusion. This state of mind in society will be difficult to handle whether independence is declared or not. Deep down, the two main catalanist parties (ERC and PDeCat) want to pause the independence process and continue using it as a bargaining chip with the main political parties in Spain. The best way to achieve this, in the current scenario, is to foil their own plot by giving plenty of reasons for the public prosecutors and the media to step in and make a full mess of it.

But, why have they gone this far?

The surge of the option for independence, which during the 1990’s and 2000’s always attracted less than 20% of the Catalan population, was orchestrated in 2012 by the Government of Convergencia (now PDeCat). President Artur Mas decided to use the independence threat as a response to the rebuttal in 2010 of part of the 2006 new Statute of autonomy of Catalonia by the Spanish Constitutional Tribunal. It was also in 2012 when Spanish media started to denounce that Jordi Pujol, former president of Catalonia and predecessor of Artur Mas in Convergencia, had amassed notoriously unjustified amounts of money, using members of his family to disguise his wealth. Mas, Pujol and Convergencia are now at the epicentre of a scheme whereby his party, allegedly, used to extract a 3% commission from businesses who were granted public contracts by the Catalan Government. Its party is being surrounded by police investigations and the judiciary. For Mas and Convergencia (now PDeCat) the independence process was a tool to reinvent themselves and confront the institutions of the State in a variety of fronts.

PDeCat later had to concede that their party was in severe decline. They then agreed to form an electoral coalition with ERC, Junts pel Sí, for the 2015 elections whose objective would be to push for the process of independence. Unfortunately for them, they did not achieve an absolute majority in the Parliament and had to rely on the support of the pro-independence revolutionary CUP, whose support to the minority Government of Junts pel Sí came at a price: the independence process must be for real and must be quick.

Whose fault is all this?

I blame first of all the PP, Spanish Conservatives, for having quashed, with their appeal to the Constitutional Tribunal, the revamped 2006 Statute of Catalonia, which so much effort took to negotiate and agree both in the Catalan and the Spanish Parliaments. I also blame them for their wait and see attitude with the Catalan issue for the last 6 years.

I blame the inability of the left in Spain to win elections and engage, from a position of Government, with progressive-thinking Catalans who understand that undoing a political union with the rest of Spain that has lasted, in different formats, more than 500 years is like separating the two eggs of an omelette.

In so far as the Catalan nationalist politicians, I can’t help to emphasise that their behaviour is despicable. They constantly misrepresent the relationship between Spain and Catalonia. An example can be found in an interview to Puigdemont, the current Catalan president, in Al Jazeera, in which he suggests very solemnly to a totally unprepared interviewer that Catalonia has been losing political autonomy since the death of Franco in 1975 -That is the year when it started to recover the autonomy, not the other way round! You can see the response from 5’45’ to 6’15’’ in the interview (1)-. The propaganda machine of the pro-independence camp, including the Catalan Government, has created a monster comparable to that of the Brexit. Their pro-independence discourse is based on a concoction of cultural prejudice, historic distortion and the lowest of the survival instincts (all dressed with genuine political indignation, one has to admit, just a pinch of it, though). If at least they had a sincere revolutionary ideology for radical social transformation like the CUP or Catalonia Sí que Es Pot (the Catalan Podemos), I could see some nobility in the pro-independence process, even though I do not believe independence is the way.

Should there be a referendum?

There should be more much more political participation in society, and more referenda, but after the Brexit experience I am inclined to start any discussion on this issue by stating that no democratic revolution can be based on asking people, under the pressure of bigots and powerful media moguls, one-off, life-changing, complex questions, at the wrong time, for the wrong reasons.

I believe that Catalonia is a nation, but so is Spain. For many Catalans being Spanish and being Catalan is compatible. For a majority of Spaniards the territory and the culture of Catalonia is felt as part of our own nation. For a substantial number of people in Catalonia their Catalan nation expands beyond the limits of historic and political Catalonia, encompassing the Països Catalans (Places in other parts of Spain and France where Catalan is spoken). The boundaries of nations lie in the eyes and the heart of each individual. Who votes what in which referendum?

Apart from very regrettable expressions of public sorrow, disfranchising and disenchantment, hopefully not much more than that, elections in Catalonia are looming. The left-wing ERC seem to be preparing already their way out the coalition with PDeCat, and a revamping of their whole strategy. They have been holding conversations few days ago, under the auspices of the influential media chief Jaume Roures, with Podemos and PSC (Catalan Socialist, affiliated to Spanish socialist PSOE), for a possible left-wing coalition government in Catalonia after the referendum. This would facilitate new alliances in the Spanish Parliament to push for a new federal Constitution for the whole of Spain that accommodates mainstream catalanists demands. This is the only possible way forward for the Spanish State and its constituent components to secure some emotional-territorial karma for the next decades.

(1) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y9eI5yfQkFE

#Catalan #independence #referendum #Catalonia #Cataluña #Parliament #Parlament

Unite against Fascism

Dems,
Lib-Dems,
Dem-Libs,

Soc-Dems,
Soc-Revs,
Soc-Libs,

Revs,
Rev-Dems,
Rev-Libs,

rich clusters,
refinement,
sweet voice.

Think,
let’s think

why all
of us
have lost.

Show,
let’s show

the best
of all
our love.

But act,
let’s act.

It’s time
for no
disputes.

Bring,
let’s bring

more justice,
equality,
fraternity,
inclusion,
liberty
and peace.

Yes,
bring back

what took
so much
to win.

The Night of Trump

I held my heart,
my breath,
my iPad.

I looked through the screen
like an agonising wizard
who casts
his eyes
on the hidden
guts
of a crystal
ball.

How many emotions,
how much attention,
could the map
of the States
withstand?

Never,
never
red and blue,
the numbers of colleges,
the random borders
of arbitrary plots
meant to me
what they meant that night:

an evil that no soul
will ever forgive,
a twilight that our dawn
will have to redeem.

Lesson about Trump and Brexit

Trump is here. Brexit is here. The damage is done regardless of what both mean in terms of policy. Their media and the popular movements they command are even more dangerous than the new breed of politicians that are now in power.

After this debacle, nevertheless, there is still hope, if we can learn from the experience.

Here is a big lesson for anyone who defends equality and inclusion in the World, from social-liberal and social democrats to democratic radical socialists:

Both Brexit and Trump are the result of the success of rogue members of the establishment in outflanking their establishment counterparts. These ultra-entrepreneurial individuals have supported both “movements” through media manipulation and funding. They have made the most of the new digital technology and culture.

The “traditional” establishment is bemused and angry at them. It is evident that the so-called “establishment” has cracks (It might end up in a state of semi-fluidity, actually, if we play our cards right). Its political unity was an illusion, partly fuelled by theories around class struggle, which, plausible as they may be, have their limitations.

So, what is the way forward?

There are other business groups and wealthy individuals who would benefit from a much faster and decisive technological revolution in areas such as renewable energy generation (there are many more examples apart from this). These members of the “establishment” know that neither Trump or Brexit, nor the Conservative-liberal-social democrat conglomerate in the EU, are going to help them to prosper as fast as they need, and as fast they should, in fairness to some of them. Their chances of bringing technological change and sustainable prosperity to a much needed humanity, and their chances of outflanking some of the more established industries during their own life times, are still poor.

And here is the opportunity:

These business groups and individuals can fund new “movements” and their necessary “media” conglomerates to take on the Conservative(UK)-Republican(USA) populists and win elections by occupying and expanding the left of the political spectrum. It is only that type of electoral change that will make it possible for their industrial activities to grow much faster and consolidate. Equally, it is only that type of electoral change that can bring our agendas of equality, inclusion and fairness back on track. 

The success of new ethical technology and energy businesses is compatible with real social and political change, as one will be intrinsically linked to the other: new forms of ownership and business management embedded in new legislation for these industries, as well as public-community-private partnerships, can tie the knot between the new industry and the new political movements once they reach government.

I think it is time for blue sky thinking and action. New media groups, new engagement, new alliances.

 

The Flight of the Figs

Once upon a time
I was a fig

(Yes, a fig)

full of little flowers inside,
plenty of endless dreams…

I was born
in a casual tree
of those that nobody grooms,
of those that never get rain,
of those that drain you to death.

Shrivelled,
punished by birds
who picked on my white sweaty sweetness
and left me scarred,
but made me stronger.

One day,
an arrogant orange,
of a garden nearby,
called for a meeting of peers
and suggested the idea
of forming a fruital system.

(Yes, a fruital system)

The rest of fruits agreed.

So, the orange stood in the centre,
cause she was too tangy to spin.

Everyone else
came forward
in a perfect queue
that started to curl
coiling outwards
around the self-proclaimed star.

The apple, the peach, the pear,
the lemon and even the grape
found quickly a place
in a galaxy they called
“The Juicy Way”.

They all looked so lush,
immaculate,
divine,
waitrosy,
as they floated
in their glorious ether
of mechanically smooth subjects.

I want a place in this system,
I said.
I want to be an aster too.
I deserve to be there,
rotating
in harmony
with you.

The apple and some others
started to giggle
with patronising
swivel-eyed disdain.

I am sorry my love,
said the eloquent
smiley
sunny leader,
but this is a fruital system
where everything works
out of our own

combined

accord.

Everyone wins,

everyone contributes.

The magnetic fields
of our respective masses
are already balanced.

That is why we levitate up here,
so graciously.

If we take you on,
we will have to open the floodgates of the universe.

How many more fruits
could we feasibly accommodate?

So, after this rational rejection,
I had no choice
but to become
a zero-hours planet,
also known as a comet.

(Yes, a comet)

So now,
I am a wrinkly wild comet
full of odd rugged cracks.
I am not round,
not even pear shaped,
I have no clouds,
no satellites,
no green bits,
no rings of dust,
no frozen lakes of gas…
but I don’t give a damn!

I am a prince of the universe,
planets fear my freedom,
no one knows my trajectory,
it is hard to land on my surface,
I come and go as I please.

But if someone

if someone on behalf
of that master of creation
messes about with my equations
pushing me out my orbit,
I may end up crashing
on one of their gardenly planets.

And, who knows?

If some shepherds see
my falling tail,
flying in the night
in the skies in winter,
they may grant me godly status
an invent a religion
at my place of collision.

Who knows?

I have nothing to lose.

I am a wrinkly wild comet,

I am a pirate
in an orderly show of stars
who learnt their moves
in the Youtube version
of the Book of Genesis,
in the phallic columns
of The Sun Says,
in the go-home section
of the Daily Mail.

Watch them
as they tamper
with Victorian
time machines!

Watch them,
as they sink
in the black hole
of their Brexit!

Unlike them,
I am my own choreographer.

Only infinite heavens will tell you
what I am made of!

Simple!

Watch me!

Watch me as I fly!
with millions of figs like me
away from a supernova
of stupid national greed.

 

Copyright © 2016. Tony Martin-Woods
Todos los derechos reservados. All rights reserved.

 

Originally published in Poetry Life and Times as “The fig”
http://www.artvilla.com/plt/the-fig-a-poem-by-tony-martin-woods/

 

Image ”Bursting at the seams” courtesy of ESA/Hubble, Creative Commons Licence International 4.0 Attribution (CC BY 4.0)