The states which have currently been forged around one single defined ethnicity are exceptional. In reality, almost all (the most important states at least) have been rooted in the imposition of an ethnic group to join the other, owing to its better economic position or simply due to military action.
Juan Diego Garcia
The result has either been a federation (like Germany), a well-defined centralism (like France) which passes through intermediary formulas as is exactly the case in Spain – the exact scene regarding their conflicts in Catalonia.
Perhaps it seems like the passing of centuries has not diluted the sentiments of mutual rejection fuelled by the different forms of nationalism.
The idea of being subjected to aggression, of being forced to belong to a state that has subjugated the identity of its people in many forms, seems to be an example of resistance that defies all logic.
Nor do the most successful formulas seem sufficient, which is not a surprise since nationalism as a form of separatism seems today to be one of the main problems which embodies the European Union.
The Catalan people (for the most part) do not regard themselves as Spanish, and they will divide themselves between those who aspire to a federalist solution that goes beyond the current regime of autonomous regions in Spain, and those who want total separation through an agreement with the government in Madrid.
The memory of Spanish troops submitting to Catalonia seems to have not been erased from the minds of many of those who aspire to have their own state. The blundered management of Rajoy’s government has done nothing more than worsen the whole issue, exacerbating the nationalists (both Spanish and Catalan), creating almost unsolvable difficulties.
With regards to the current debate, it is not an easy task to separate the propaganda from the arguments. Nor is it easy to differentiate the ethical reasoning from practical motives. Some slogans, without a doubt, lack any substance, like one very over-used example which claims that Catalonia “has been sacked by Spain”.
Beyond the normal principle of a modern state which should promote regional equality, thus dedicating more resources to the less developed areas (for this reason, the richest must contribute more to the communal funds for sharing), is the same logic which functions within capitalism, which tends to concentrate the wealth in precisely those places of better development, where the benefits of this investment yields better results.
This is why the large share of investments will flow towards Spain’s most developed regions, which is fortunate since their contribution to the communal funds seems generously compensated by the influx of capital and human resources from the outskirts to Madrid, the Basque region or Catalonia, the communities with the best relative development.
Therefore the so-called “looting” does not exist and, in any case, it should be the opposite: it is the outlying areas which sees its best resources escaping to the riches centres of the country, receiving benefits significantly less through the regional compensation funds.
That which is of value for Catalonia is equally of value for the European Union.
The contributions from Germany and France (national powers) to the communal funds appear pitiful in the face of the immense benefits which they can expect from French domination over the rest of the economies in the EU, a truth which does not stop the local politicians from dismissing their internal issues, blaming “the slackers from the South who live at the expense of the riches of the North”.
But beyond any other considerations, it is not possible to advance with European construction without the consent from the respective people.
And the Catalan question is a small manifestation of a phenomenon that also affects, by some greater or smaller measure, countries like Italy, Belgium, France or the United Kingdom (which will only see this process worsen with its upcoming exit from the European Union).
If one gives more space to the practical motives (that is to say, the advantages of all kinds) and above all emphasize an international ethic over a narrow-minded and exclusive nationalist one, surely the separatists will weaken and the idea of a federation will gain ground with more momentum.
The left should be able to reintroduce the proposal from Saramago, to advance first towards an Iberian federation of Spain, Catalonia, The Basque region, Galicia and Portugal into one state, after this moving towards the objective of a Europe as an effective federation as originally proposed.
The aim to build a federation based on solidarity and harmony, with equal wealth, similar legislation, a profound respect for the particulars which make up the unique identity of each (language, customs, traditions etc.), has a pacifist purpose in the turbulent world of today –that is to say, without NATO- which satisfies the other indispensable conditions in order to build a European citizenship which is modern and profoundly democratic. Surely the neo-liberal model demonstrates through its notoriety the need to improve upon the most perverse dynamics of capitalism, point out the dominant relationships and be rid of the rich centres instead of the fringes.
With this it has given a deadly blow to the European Union idea promoting nationalisms of all types; both those who express the legitimate right of the people to reclaim their self-governing status, as well as those who serve as a gang of bullies and demagogues for the new wave of fascism, which already has an active presence more than that of a national Congress.
(Translated by Francine Morgan – Email: firstname.lastname@example.org) – Photos: Pixabay