I had a re-run of the old Iraq drunken brawl the other night with a left-wing journalist, who said basically that democracy would never work there and (after a couple more beers) did not work anywhere else, particularly not in Britain, because it’s just not the kind of thing humans are good at. This peculiarly Spanish pessimism is, I think, a rather extended hangover brought on by the betrayal over a period of more than one and a half centuries of the great promise of the 1812 constitution, that the “nation is free, being understood by nation the collective of all Spaniards of both hemispheres; that it cannot be the property of a family or person, and that sovereignty resides essentially in it.”
Joaquín Costa published a fiery pamphlet in 1878 under the title Oligarchy and caciquismo, the current form of government in Spain (Oligarquía y caciquismo como la forma actual de gobierno en España) in which he attacked the illusory nature of contemporary parliamentary democracy and laid waste to those glib orators who promised to respect the will of the people, all the while counting on the system frustrating its expression:
– What are you doing, Juan?
– I’m not doing anything, sir.
– And you, Pedro?
– Sir, I’m helping Juan.
This kind of stuff still has powerful resonance in a country where the two major parties cheerfully rabbit on about welcome but insignificant initiatives like gay marriage, as well as symbollocks about which flag gets flown over town hall, leaving young people rotting in the kind of dead-end jobs that keep their union and big business backers–respectively adverse to small (= deunionised), smart (=competition) companies–happy. It does seem a bit unfair, though, to project Spanish disappointments onto the poor bloody Iraqis.
(The Patricio/Juan/Pedro gag seems familiar, but I can’t place it.)
-¿Qué haces, Juan?.
-No hago nada, señor.
-¿Y tú, Pedro?
-Señor, estoy ayudando a Juan.
- (The) United States (of whatever)
Re a post by Amando de Miguel in his interesting, if fairly Pleistocene, language column for Libertad Digital, I’ve compiled a
- Un año en la vida de una estación de Bicing
Disponibilidad de bicicletas en Torrent de les Flors (plaça Rovira i Trias) para el año 2012-3.
- My Bolivarian republic for a horse
The last time I was in Caracas a general parked his tank outside the national assembly building and the chamber maid
- Bolívar on democracy
Since my reader in the northern hemisphere is spending all his time hanging around in a beach bar, hoping someone will
- Elementos de geografía física
From the Diario de Barcelona, quoted in Manuel Martínez de Morentin, Estudios filológicos (1857): —¿Qué se entiende por España? —Una Nacion como otra