Part I of Dispatches from the Catalan Front.
The stanzas seem to vary but the leitmotif is oddly familiar: we suspect history is rhyming again. The Scottish rebellion by vote has failed, outmanouvered by limey crown rep Cameron who lulled them into a honey trap and beat them soundly with sweet nothings. The Yes camp put up a good fight but turned out to fatally naive in terms of how far the British crown was willing to go to secure the No majority, which should be pretty clear after three centuries of vassal status. The fact that the Yes camp didn’t insist on exit polls or have an observer at every table shows either they were expecting fair play or did not practice due diligence; either way a high price has been paid in realpolitiks currency. Dreadful shame, old chaps. Carry on now.
So the brave Scots have fallen, but the charge against centuries-old monarchies ruling like feudal overlords continues to the south, in the geostrategic buffer zone between the Franks and Al-Andalus known today as Catalonia. The context is very different to Scotland, but the final objective is the same: to escape the grip of the crown corporation that has owned us for the past three hundred years. Don’t let all the noise about identity politics fool you, that’s just flag porn for grazers. The Catalan identity isn’t given or taken by anyone because it belongs to the people who use it, like all cultural identities. It has withstood centuries of bourbonic monarchs and is today recognized in the Spanish Constitution as an autonomous, self-governing political and legal entity, which isn’t too shabby for a wedge of land with a population of seven million… except it still belongs to the Spanish crown corporation on sublet from the Vatican, like the rest of the territory.
What’s really driving the Catalans is not so much a desire to “leave Spain” as to “be a Republic” ruled by citizens, not monarchs. This is the 1400-pound killer aurochs in the room that politicos and media are trying desperately to ignore and the reason the central gummint flat-out refuses to allow the vote to happen. They don’t forget our history any more than we do; we’ve tried breaking free before and will keep on trying. 300 years ago we tried, got occupied, raped and pillaged by bourbonic forces; 80 years ago we tried again, got occupied, raped and pillaged by fascist forces. Today… well, if history is indeed rhyming, keep your daughters locked away just in case.
At least Catalans don’t have to worry about honey traps. Despite Cameron’s successful implementation of the statist “soft power” strategy with the Scots, the Spanish state is in “hard power” mode, mostly because their attempts to quell separatism by soft means no longer work after 40 years of neo-feudal faux democrazy. Not because Catalans are insatiable but because deep down Catalonia wants to be free and the decaffeinated substitutes just don’t do it anymore. The central gummint in Madrid knows this quite well, and is thus dispensing with all pretense of trying to bribe us with empty promises and getting straight to the hard talk. It is common knowledge in the halls of power that the Catalans must be broken periodically to keep them from getting uppity and trying to hurdle the fence, usually in a painfully failed manner.
Except modern democrazy is a blade that cuts both ways; it creates a false illusion of representation, but it is that very illusion that makes folks want to vote for something different. To deny citizens the right to a referendum –in theory, the ultimate expression of democracy– is a risky gambit for a power structure that needs folks to continue under the sway of the democrazy illusion but not try to use it to bring about any real change. If the Ratjoy disministration sticks to its guns, the Catalan vote may not take place, but the central gummint is going to stand naked for the whole world to see, and the cause will only grow stronger.
Not that they have much of a choice in the matter: the crown corporation is above the law, the democrazy and the aspirations of the plebe. If martial law is required to keep the crown whole, then all the touchy-feely buffalo manure about democrazy rights will be discontinued until morale improves. Why else would the Spanish defense minister –widely rumored to suffer incurable moby dick– be strutting up and down the international arena crowing that “the army is the final guarantee of the unity of Spain”? As a constitutional monarchy, the head of state and its armed forces is the kingospain in person, so we can assume this is the crown’s official posture on this issue… or can we? Will the new kingo Flip 6 take a public stance on the matter, or is he afraid that anything he says will be used against him by the republican hordes? Keep an eye on him, he’s the joker in the deck.
One way or another, alea jacta est: the die is cast. Today September 27th, Catalonia has been officially summoned to vote on November 9th. We have just over a month to see if we’ll find ballots, bayonets or a whole lot of nothing when we get there. Not that it makes much of a difference anymore; one way or another we’ll be heard, and while not as fearsome as our kilted cousins up north, we’re even more determined and less likely to be dissuaded or led astray. At least right now… but stay tuned, we’re reaching boss level and things are just starting to get interesting.