Rab’s family

It turns out that an occasional commenter here has a blog of his own, From Catalonia to Caledonia, in which, from a Catalan nationalist perspective, he whinges about the Spanish, the English, ungrateful immigrants and stuff. However, his family turns out to contain the odd cockatoo cuckoo too:

My parents are just another example of this. Destitute in Andalucia, they emigrated to Barcelona when there were early teenagers and met a few years later. My mum has adapted to Catalonia pretty well, and regularly votes for IC-V or ERC, and is fully aware of the issues. She speaks Catalan and regularly listens to Catalan radio or TV. My dad however is from the Troglodytes tribe and votes for the Spanish nationalists of the PP, even though he flirted with CiU in the ‘90s. After over 50 years in Catalonia, he hardly understands Catalan, let alone speak the language. You can bet there are rather interesting discussions about politics at my parents. They don’t last too long though as inevitably someone storms off the living room sooner or later. I vote ERC and my brother Ciudadanos or PSOE, I am not too sure.

I have suffered similar torments. I had believed for ages that one of the Jones ancestors was a fine upstanding liberal republican with rather strange religious views and so was unsurprised to find this bit on the radical newspaper, Baner, in Matthew Cragoe, Culture, Politics, and National Identity in Wales 1832-1886:

The rhetoric of Welsh electoral combat changed as Baner’s influence made itself felt. Two speeches delivered by the radical Simon Jones of Bala can be used to illustrate the point. In August 1859, when Baner had only just been founded, the 53-year-old Jones stood up at a meeting of the Merioneth Reform Society and claimed its members were the descendants of seventeenth-century Puritans–‘Pym, Hamden, Owen, Bunyan, Penn, Morgan Llywd, and Walter Cradoc’, and the followers of the ‘apostles of the eighteenth century–John Wesley, George Whitfield, Howell Harris, and Lewis Rees’. These were the men in whose name Jones called his fellows to action.

All well and good, but Cragoe continues:

Nine years later, with Baner well established and Gohebydd’s commemoration campaigns for Rowlands and Llywelyn, not to mention his exposes of scandals such as Soar Chapel, fresh in mind, Jones’s dramatis personae had changed dramatically. He began by asking a meeting in Dolwyddelen whether they were ‘worthy descendants of Llywelyn, our last prince’, and continued: ‘Mr Charles of Bala, Mr Rowlands of Llangeitho, Mr Jones of Llangan, Mr John Elias, Mr Williams of Wern, Mr Jones of Talysarn, Mr Jones of Treborth, were watching from the battlements of heaven, to see how they acted (great applause).’ Although less than ten years separated these two speeches, conceptually they occupied two different eras in Welsh political thought. The former was made at a time when Welsh radicals still identified with a wider British culture of radicalism, and thus took for their heroes men whose contribution–political or religious–had been made on that stage, and whose exploits were equally celebrated by radicals in England.

Funny things, families.

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  1. Trevor,

    First, I politely disagree with your description of my blog as “from a Catalan nationalist perspective, he whinges about the Spanish, the English, ungrateful immigrants and stuff.”
    I describe the policies of the Spanish State and criticise ungrateful immigrants who make no effort to integrate into the host nation, whether they are from Almería or Alger. I don’t whinge about the English, quite the opposite; I admire the English and their free-market, dynamic economy. I am not sure Catalan nationalist is accurate either. Yes, I am in favour of Catalan independence from Spain but that does not make one a nationalist. I don’t think nationalism and support for the right of self-determination are the same, but that’s another debate.

    Secondly, there have been changes at home:

    I have to report that my mum is thinking about not voting at the next elections as she feels let down by ERC, does not trust IC-V anymore and does not want to vote for any of the other parties. I will probably vote ERC again, despite being extremely pissed off with the current strategy. My dad apparently is a bit fed up with the extremism and Catalonophobia of the PP and is seriously considering going back to CiU or not voting at all either. At least he is not listening to COPE anymore and I caught him watching TV3 news one night during my last holiday.
    My brother has realised the futility of voting for Ciudadanos and is either going to vote PSOE or PP next time.

    But this is nothing compared to what this family must have gone through:

    http://www.elpais.com/articulo/espana/mujeres/odio/elpepuesp/20070211elpepinac_17/Tes or

    Yep, de Juana Chaos is the son of a Falangista, and he was placed on detention temporarily at Donostia Hospital where his sister, married to the son of an Army officer killed by ETA, works as a paramedic.

    It reminds me of Yates, the son of an English landlord in Ireland who became a supporter of Irish home rule, who fell in love with the daughter of a British army officer; the daughter though fell in love with an IRA officer and rejected Yates.
    Sometimes we refuse to toe the line, and that’s what makes life interesting.

  2. > Sometimes we refuse to toe the line,
    > and that’s what makes life interesting.

    And I wouldn’t have it any other way. I’m thinking of joining a corps of grallers

  3. I can list the skewed fashion in which real or perceived political alliances came down on the heads of various of my forebears. But more interesting would be trying to understand the bipolar (comprised of a variety of sub-bipolarities) nature of Spanish (no offense, Rab, but I’m not going detail those subsets) politics in the face of the multivarious nature of the country’s political experience. Something about the insistence on group cohesion at all costs, perhaps?

  4. Why would someone who admires the “dynamic free-market economy” of England vote for an outfit calling themselves the Republican LEFT of Catalonia?

    The problem with Catalonia is that you can only vote for flavours of nationalism (with the possible exception of Ciutadans), Rab’s politics are obviously right wing, but he votes for a party that toys with Socialism merely because they are the most nationalist.

    Bloody catafatxas do my head in.

  5. To say that Ciudadanos is not a nationalist party is very ignorant, or perverse. They are the very party fanatical by cultural identity and symbolism, otherwise how do you explain their obsession with the flags and language issues?
    They are a Spanish nationalist party in Catalonia.

    “Rab’s politics are obviously right wing, but he votes for a party that toys with Socialism merely because they are the most nationalist.”

    Neither I am “obviously right-wing”, whatever that means, nor ERC toys with Socialism.
    I have all my finances in a mutual, co-operative society, drive a small car and try to shop in ethical businesses; and ERC is a social democrat party. So you are wrong in both counts.

    I vote for ERC because it is the only mainstream party which supports independence from Spain -even if they are finding it quite a challenge to influence policy in this direction.

    Do Spanish nationalists do your head in? Or do you reserve your prejudices only for one side?

  6. Ciutadans is a possible exception. They call themselves non-nationalist, and I think that some of them probably are. They have a non-chauvinist linguistic and social policy, which is unique, and a very positive thing. Economically they’re a bit right-wing for my tastes, but unfortunately it is impossible to vote for just the non-catalanist section of PSC.

    PP are loathsome reptiles who seem intent on driving the regions away from the centre. Forget the C (Ni de Izquierdas, ni Republicanos, pero Catalanes, si que lo son!), a vote for PP is the quickest way to break Spain.

  7. Don’t kid yourself: Ciudadanos is not an exception. Their obsession that all councils display the Spanish flag is an obvious example of their Spanish nationalism. They promised politics beyond identity but once elected reverted to type: Spanish nationalism fed by a bizarre mix of self-hate and rancid Catalanophobia.

    “a vote for PP is the quickest way to break Spain”
    On this one I agree: a PP government in Madrid will tilt the silent majority in Catalonia towards CiU or ERC.

  8. PP might get the highest share of the vote but they can’t form a coalition with anyone but those two corrupt Canarios who keep getting elected in the small-banana republic. Anybody else would be commiting political suicide by forming a coalition.

    Unless everyone finally works out that Spanish houses are overvalued by 300%, and that they have no possibility of paying off there mortgages. Credit-card keynesianism can only last so long….

  9. Re 5: I’m sure Rab’s a lovely guy, but ERC–and the emerging nationalist-socialist state–is nothing more than Italian fascism revisited, with its bizarre mix of nationalist, militarist, anti-liberal and corporatist belief. It’s all there, from the paranoia about “foreign” culture, the imposition of an invented dialect, “democratic” institutions as neo workers/popular councils. “Spanish” fascists at one stage saw Francesc Macià as Spain’s salvation precisely because of his wholesale adoption of the Italian agenda. They’ve more or less disappeared, but there seems to be no stopping their “Catalan” comrades.

  10. Trevor, 10#

    What it is bizarre in your analysis of Catalan politics is your dettachment from reality, not to mention some of the “perls” you wrote in comment #10:

    – “emerging nationalist-socialist state”
    Beg you pardon, what? What state do you refer to? This smacks of self-induced paranoia fed by reading Libertad Digital too often.

    – “imposition of an invented dialect”
    Straight out from the Spanish nationalist rethoric. Catalan is neither an “invented dialect” nor “imposed”. It is the natural language of Catalonia. You cannot impose Catalan in Catalonia more than you can impose English in England. What a bizarre claim. On the other hand, Spanish language has been imposed in Catalonia, Valencia, Balearics, etc, officially by the Spanish State since the “Decretos de Nueva Planta”, and now by the Spanish Constitution. Funny how you ignore this little fact. But never mind.

    – “‘Spanish’ fascists at one stage saw Francesc Macià as Spain’s salvation precisely because of his wholesale adoption of the Italian agenda”.

    A rather bizarre interpretation of history I must say, considering the Spanish Fascists hated ERC, executed Companys, abolished the Republic, etc. I have never read anything in any history book about Spanish fascists admiring Macia, or Macia “wholesale adoption of the Italian agenda” but hey how cares. Do you read Pio Moa? Unbelievable.

    – [Spanish Fascists I guess you refer to] “They have more or less disappeared”
    You choose to ignore them, and use their rethoric and vocabulary when you comment about Catalan/Spanish politics.

  11. * Our rulers go around saying that they’re nationalists and socialists. I just pass on the news.
    * Catalan is as natural a language in that arbitrary geopolitical entity, Catalonia, as is Arabic, Berber or Spanish, or any other language spoken here since Our Good Lord inexplicably omitted to specify countries and the languages to be spoken there from Genesis.
    * Ernesto Giménez Caballero, the ideologue of Spanish fascism, called Macià “our Duce” and “our caudillo”. http://oreneta.com/kalebeul/2006/01/18/ernesto-gimenez-caballero-and-catalan-totalitarianism/ Sounds like an endorsement to me. Mussolini financed Macià and related stuff – eg Dencàs and JEREC – and Estat Català was trying to get Mussolini to invade Spain when Franco made his move.

  12. “It is the natural language of Catalonia. You cannot impose Catalan in Catalonia more than you can impose English in England. ”

    English was imposed in England, through a process of standardisation that led to the elimination of a series of dialects which, had they survived into the late 20th century, would have been labelled as languages. They were certainly mas different from standard English than “Leones” or Asturian are from standard Spanish. This imposition was part of a political program of unification and nation-building.

    Places don’t have natural languages, the Spanish influenced variant of Occitan now official in Catalonia is the home language of some of its people, and the first language of a minority of them.

    The Catalan establishment is now trying to extend this dialect’s use to the majority of Catalans, and with some success. They are also attempting to impose the standard (just read the “aixo no es catala” letters in Avui) to the detriment of regional varieties and varieties spoken in other regions of Spain. Spanish influence which, ironically is the thing that distinguished the literary dialect from Occitan to begin with, is mercilessly purged. I wonder what the project might be here?

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