Sunday, 20 July 2008

When Spain begins to look like Serbia

Once again, I am going to borrow an article from somebody else. In this case, it is from the editor and chief of the web portal VilaWeb. VilaWeb is one of the most visited websites in Catalonia and an influential media outlet. It is actually number one news portal in Catalan language, averaging over 300,000 unique visitors per month, and one of the key pioneers (ENG) in the use of Catalan in the internet and of the development of internet in Catalonia. Vilaweb is one of the few truly independent media outlets in Catalonia: a private enterprise not subject to the dictum of party or government politics.

The chief of Vilaweb is Vicent Partal [blog in Catalan]. He is a respected journalist and gets invited to TV and radio programs, etc as a pundit. I have taken the liberty to translate his editorial piece from Thursday 10 July 2008. In this article, Mr Partal highlights the increasing similarities between the pan-Serbian nationalism of the late 80s and the Spanish nationalism of nowadays. It makes some interesting reading but it is unlikely that the bunch of lazy foreign correspondents that work for the English-speaking media in Spain will report on it. They copy and paste from El País and El Mundo, the newspapers of the Spanish left and right respectively.

I have sketched a quick translation. I am keen to get feedback, as I am sure there is room for improvement, so I will keep updating the wording as I receive your comments.

Source: VilaWeb editorial Thursday 10 July 2008 [link]

When Spain begins to look like Serbia 

If for years Spanish nationalism expressed itself in a moderate way, accepting a certain bilingualism and feigning a certain 'kind' image, the mask has fallen in 2008 so spectacularly that we will have to mark it in the history books, The manifesto against the bilingualism or yesterday’s reactions to the document of the (Catalan Government) Finance Secretary Mr Castells about the fiscal plundering mark a new path that brings closer Spanish nationalism to the recent history of Serbian nationalism. With some concrete parallelisms that are terrifying.

This manifesto that claims the superiority of the Spanish language signals a change of social notions. They do not proclaim the convenience of bilingualism any more in the areas with their own native language within the State; what they argue is the backward movement of the native languages. There stops being the formal worry that there was until now for social cohesion, which they in no way appeal to any more. Now the call goes towards the demographic superiority of the speakers of the Spanish language, claiming a pure and simple imposition: demographics. 

And in this sense, the manifesto reminds us of the famous Memorandum published in the year 1986 by the Serbian Academy of the Arts and the Sciences; said memorandum served as an ideological basis for Milosevic and this ended up bringing war, and independence of all, all of them, not purely Serbian areas of ex-Yugoslavia and to the international isolation of Serbia. 

That [Serb] Manifesto, for example, affirmed, against reality, that the only people that did not have right to use their own language were the Serbs that were living in bilingual areas, and it claimed the imposed primacy of the serbo-croat over all other languages; and that whatever or whoever did not subscribe to this idea was 'a particularism' and 'antidemocratic'.

The message that inspired that Manifesto and the one that inspires the pro-Spanish manifesto is the same: a belief that there are cultures or languages that are superior to others, without any regard to speakers of the [other] language, and to request the imposition of their language via discriminatory laws and, if necessary, with recourse to the forces of the law. The [Serb] Memorandum of 1986 also outlined what their authors (intellectuals like in the case of the Spanish manifesto) considered was an economic oppression of Sèrbia by the other republics. And this exact message was also made visible yesterday by most of the Spanish media as an answer to the presentation of the data about the fiscal plunder. It is the same perversion: reality does not matter.

And thus yesterday we could see and hear people who denied it openly, who turned the data upside down or, simply, who reconverted the Spanish nationalistm discourse affirming that that the problem is not that Catalonia, and the rest of the Catalan Countries, suffer fiscal plundering by Spain, but that Spain is being suffocated by the power of Catalan companies, which have colonised Spain. Again, a change of discourse that implies a remarkable change of social notions. Until now nobody, except for isolated groups, had dared saying something like this. Yesterday we heard it in the mass media and from the lips of very violent commentators and very loudly.

I confess that this drift is worrying me. It worries me, especially, because it goes accompanied of a remarkable and visible increase of violence. The attitude of the pro-Spanish is every time more violent and aggressive, and from insults they have already move into threats or disturbances, as we have seen during the celebrations of the Euro 2008 football tournament, despite the silence of the majority of the media.

But it is also necessary to say that the Serbian drift of Spanish nationalism is a threat especially for them. Unlike what happened in the former Yugoslavia, we live in the European Union and here it will not be tolerated or allowed any type of war, or coups, either military or legislative. And this should make somebody think, in Spain. Because Sèrbia has ended up alone, impoverished and isolated. And to explain today this is to make a pure and simple description of how this could end for the Spaniards, if they continue with the supremacist madness that has taken hold of them.


can't be bothered to buy the voodoo doll said...

Doesn't look like anyone cares, but FYI Vilaweb received €568,938 in Catalan government subsidies in 2004 and is presumably still doing very nicely on state funds. A website that takes money from the government and by sheer coincidence faithfully reflects government priorities isn't what I'd call independent. Although I believe it is normal in Serbia.

Rab said...

To say that VilaWeb “faithfully reflects” the Catalan government policies is an outright lie: VilaWeb is probably the media most critical of the PSC-PSOE in Catalonia, apart from the usual suspects in the Spanish nationalist right (El Mundo, ABC, etc). Have you heard about the libel action by the Barcelona council (PSC-PSOE) against VilaWeb regarding the violent incidents that followed Spain’s win in Euro2008? But hey, who cares? Let’s keep posting half-truths….

You mention the subsidy to VilaWeb, quoting a rather biased source, but everyone knows that ALL media outlets in Catalonia receive government funds, fancy finding out about El País, La Vanguardia and El Periodico?

Jack said...

Sure, and the ultra nationalist-socialist (=leftist) catalan party ERC is not part of the catalan government, right Rab? They are more than happy to divert money to so-called "independent" media, rather than investing it intelligently in catalan public transportation and schools.

Ah, I forgot... Catalonia doesn't have enough public money... blame Spain.

Rab said...

Jack, the language you use says so much about you..

Again you describe ERC as
"ultra-nationalist-socialist", yet this party is in a coalition that has made an Andalusian immigrant the President of Catalonia. Flop.

Read and learn Jack: ERC is a social democratic pro-independence party, as defined in their statutes and agreed by the vast majority of people, except, of course, your heroes at Libertad Digital, and the other Spanish Nationalist media.

VilaWeb’s editorials attack the Tripartite and particularly ERC’s role in permitting PSC-PSOE doing and undoing at will without getting not much in return for Catalonia. To me, that is not a compliant and servile media. But hey who cares about reality when you can sprout lies and utter shite like you do?

As I wrote earlier, ALL media in Spain and Catalonia receives public subsidies. It is the way it works. We may don't like it but that's life.

With a fiscal deficit of c10% or probably higher (amazingly the capital effect is being apportioned across territories), yes, anyone with a minimal knowledge of economics, accountancy and business knows that the current arrangements are the main cause behind the crumbling infrastructure in Catalonia. More details in the link to the right and in this interesting paper, in English.

My colleagues tell me that in Germany there is a federal law that limits the fiscal deficit to 4%.

But anyway, I digress, you are doing it again: unable to reply or comment anything related to the central topic of the article (Spanish nationalism resembling Serbia’s) you write nothing but utter shite. Keep it on. It is very amusing.

Miquel Marzabal Galano said...

I would like to add to this article that:
The organisation called Cercle d'estudis sobiranistes (that studies the viability of creating a souvereign Catalan state) is publising very interesting articles with very relevant arguments in favour of the independence of Catalonia.
One of these articles is called 'Yugoespana', written by Alfons Lopez Tena.
In this article he explains how in 1986, the Serbian academy of Arts and Science complained that the only ones who did not have the right to speak their own language where the Serbians that lived in bilingual areas (and were not bilingual), they claimed the supremacy of Serbian language above other languages in Yugoslavia, as the 'language of all Yugoslavians' and they attacked the ones who rekected the dominance of the Serbian language, saying they were anti-democratic. They also complained that Croatia and Slovenia oppressed them financially.
Does this sound familiar to you at all?
Well done Rab. Keep the good work.

Rab said...

Thanks Miquel.

It is always gratifying when blogs such as ours generate such animosity with the pro-Spanish: it means we are doing something right.

To borrow from the Spanish: “Ladran luego cabalgamos”.