Sunday, August 17, 2008

As I am late back from a long trip, I will have to postpone my dissertation on nationalists until tomorrow.

In its place is a relevant article by Luis Ventoso from yesterday's Voz de Galicia. I don't want to shoot my bolt but you'll have guessed that I have some sympathy with his sentiments:-

Galician Nationalism and the Catalan Mirror

The technical reports of the most respected economists – from both the right and the left – agree on two issues:-

1. Galicia is one of the greatest beneficiaries of the fund flows between communities – the so-called inter-territorial solidarity – (and it has also been enormously favoured by EU help).

2. If the Catalan financing proposal triumphs, Galicia will lose a lot of money. Why? Because the pie is what it is and if one of the eaters wants a larger piece, then another must have a smaller one.

But there was a Galician political force (The Galician Socialist Party) which didn’t want to see the threat and kept quiet when the Catalan cut-up was brewing via their new Constitution. There’s another (The Galician Nationalist Block] which rejects all the numbers everyone else uses and proclaims that the Catalan way will be good for us.

In the view of the Galician Nationalist Block, inter-state solidarity is bad for Galicia. The Block believes that, if we look hard at federalism and if the powers of the autonomous communities are taken to their extreme, it will be shown that Galicia is richer than she appears and will end up managing more money than under the current autonomist model.

However, if you run the numbers, it becomes clear that Galicia will end up being hammered. So why does the Block persist in pursuing the Catalan route? Because of an ideological axiom. Its objective, of course, is none other than to ensure that a country [region] without statehood ends up as close as is possible to being a state. And this will be achieved by gaining for this territory [region] more and more powers. In short, everything that helps to de-Spanicise in order to create a greater Galicia is good, even at the cost of economic resources in the short term (and quite possibly in the long term too). Its ideology is thus given greater priority than the economic reality of flesh and blood Galicians, because what’s important is the grand objective – that Galicia loosens the moorings.

This mental template also explains, for example, the strange disregard shown by the nationalist Sports Council [of the Xunta] towards David Cal, who is a hero for all Galicians but who has the defect of – God forbid! – competing for Spain. This differential emphasis is also the reason why – from the right at the other extreme as well – language becomes the core of the debate – at a time when Galicia has a very deficient system of health, an education system that needs much improvement, demographics which are frightening, an AVE high speed train which is almost a chimera, grid-blocked cities, large stores that never set up here, natural wonders which are being relentlessly devoured and foreign investment which is trending towards zero.

But, of course, to administer and improve what is concrete is not as easy as to invent a country which doesn’t exist (Galiza) and to insist that the one that does exist (Galicia) be tied to a pre-established dogmatic project.

Galicia needs a nationalism which defends its interests. This is clear - suffice to see the Galician Deputies from both the conservative [PP] and socialist [PSOE] parties in the Congress, mute on many of the subjects crucial to Galicia.

It is doubtful that the way to help our country [region] is to close ranks and to be carried away by the ideas of the Catalans and the Basques. To think that the idea of Spain is annoying or discomforting to Galicians or to gauge that Galicia’s greatest problem is her language is, quite simply, to isolate yourself in an ivory tower and to avoid walking in Galician streets, where there is a market for another type of Galicianism - one which could get much more than the 18% of the votes gained by the current third political force here.

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