Tuesday, December 04, 2007

I touched on ‘solidarity’ in yesterday’s post. This is a word which I don’t recall ever hearing in British political discourse but which is commonplace in Spain. There are two basic types:-
Upwards Solidarity: When Madrid thinks it would be a good idea for other [allegedly] richer EU members to subsidise Spain, and
Downwards Solidarity: When Madrid thinks the rich buggers in, say, Cataluña should subsidise, say, Andalucia.
Of course, this operates on a regional basis as well, when Madrid’s Downwards Solidarity becomes Galicia’s Upwards Solidarity. What all this means in practice is that everyone in Spanish political life is always sef-servingly demanding that someone else shows more of one type of solidarity, while themselves trying to get away with less of the other. So, a recipe for a good argument. Which, of course, everyone in Spain loves. And which, given the way the country is structured and governed, they are guaranteed to get.

Against all that, today it’s reported that Spain is the European nation least interested in political news – a mere 19%, compared with a European average of 34. Needless to say, sports news tops the list in every country but only in Germany, Denmark and Estonia is politics the number one topic. The report adds that, after sport, the Spanish prefer art and culture and that only 25% of them rank news of celebrities above last. Since this makes the Spanish less interested in celebrity gossip than any other Europeans, I think we can safely regard this survey as endorsement for last week’s example in which 65% of Spaniards said they didn’t believe their compatriots told the truth when answering questions of this sort. Or perhaps any sort.

Only in Spain? Both El Mundo and the Voz de Galicia yesterday carried a large picture of a photographer taking a close-up of the blood stain at the scene of ETA’s latest assassinations. I wonder what the results would have been if the above survey had asked about interest in gore.

3 comments:

Xoan-Carlos said...

Colin,

agreed, there was very little that was "social" about the nazis (apart from maybe their record for creating jobs) but surely the expansion of Greater Germany to include Austria, parts of Poland (where they measured people's skulls to spilt the population into Aryans and "babaric" Slavs) qualifies it as pretty nationalistic?

As for your nationalism analogies, even making allowance for the ironical tone, I don't find them terribly apt. National Socialism was neither socialist nor nationalist, as you well know.

"...weren't all the others
colonies fighting for independence?"

--Depends how you define a colony. I think a pretty standard deifinition is that of a territory that is ruled by another, more powerful, territory, often for the exploitation of it's natural resources (Galicia's electricity, water, agricultural produce, or Scotland's oil and land) or of its people (both Galicians and Scots provided a large amount of Spain and Britain's cannon fodder and cheap labour over the years). In this case Galicia's role within the state is little different from Cuba's at the end of the 19th century.


"...which is rather different from a region which is part of an entity that's been more or less happily settled for hundreds of years?"

Couldn't you describe Ireland as such? Does this also mean that you're against an independent Kosovo, which after all NO history as a independent entity and has been a "happy" part of Serbia for hundreds of years?

Colin said...

"surely the expansion of Greater Germany to include Austria, parts of Poland (where they measured people's skulls to spilt the population into Aryans and "babaric" Slavs) qualifies it as pretty nationalistic?"
- Yes but not in the way we talk about today's nationalists - a sub-group wanting to break away from the main group. Not a main group/nation trying to take over subgroups belonging to some other main group/nation. Or indeed the whole nation.

Couldn't you describe Ireland as such?
- Ireland a part of a settled whole!!! It was a very unhappy colony and rather different from Scotland and Wales in the way they formed part of Great Britain.

"Does this also mean that you're against an independent Kosovo?"
- I've said [a few times] I'd allow any sub-group [Galicia, Scotland, Kosovo] to vote their way democratically out of a larger group. Whether or not they've always been as unhappy as the now profess to be.

Which, of course, is proof positive of just how divisive nationalism is. What could be more divisive than dividing up an existing group of regions/ countries/natioanlities/nations? Even democratically. But, if it has to be, it has to be. Though we might have different views on how the new entity - say Galiza - might fare.

Incidentally, if things are to be done democratically - as opposed to an Irish style bloody rebellion - I can think of little more likely to keep the nationalist vote down in Galicia than forcing Gallego on people who are happy to speak it when required but don't want it forced on either themselves or, even more so, their kids.

BTW, I forgot say a while back that the success of Ireland based on the use of English certainly didn't - in my view - endorse the teaching of English as in Galicia. People are employed and investments made on the basis of their first language - as in Ireland - and not on their third rate ability in the investor's language. Hard to see Anglo companies choosing Galicia in 2050 over, say India, for its call centres. Or whatever is the equivalent then.

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