Monday, December 31, 2012

In various parts of Galicia, yesterday saw the commemoration of the journey of the bones of St James (Santiago) from Jatta in Jerusalem to their resting place in the city of Santiago de Compostela. St James is the patron saint of Galicia and, I think, Spain. Of course, you have to make a prodigious leap of faith to believe the story of St James, if only because there isn't an iota of evidence he was ever in Spain (alive or dead) or that his corpse arrived here, at Padrón, in a stone boat which had sailed from the Middle East without a crew. Still, miracles happen. As they say.

At the service in Santiago, the President of the Galician Parliament – Señora Pilar Rojo – publicly asked St James to intercede on behalf of all Spaniards and make 2013 less painful than 2012. If this were to happen, it certainly would be a miracle and St James could justifiably line up with all the others who'd want to take the credit. Possibly including Sra Rojo and her PP Party. But, if it doesn't happen, what is this going to tell us about St James? That he ignored the special pleading? That he listened but couldn't get in to see any of the three Gods of the Trinity? Or that he got in to at least one of them but had his intervention quashed? I fear we'll never know.

The other religious development of the last couple of days has been Cardinal Rouca Varela - President of the Conference of Bishops of Spain - using his pulpit to announce that we're witnessing the death of marriage “by legal means”. What he seems to mean is that, if you allow gays to wed, this will lead to the death of marriage. Presumably because all straight folk with eschew the institution once it's tainted by homosexuals. This, of course, is nonsense. There certainly won't be the death of marriage. Though there may well be the death of the Cardinal's personal concept of marriage, which he assumes to be divinely blessed. My advice to the Cardinal is to get used to the idea and to be a bit more, well, Christian in his attitudes to people. And to stop saying things like “Without true marriage, society will disintegrate.” 'False marriage' there will be, whether he likes it or not. It's just a matter of time.

Talking about hardship in 2013, the British historian, Antony Beever recently published in, Prospect magazine, a longish article entitled – Europe's Long Shadow – Will a continent turn its back on democracy. This is what he had to say about Spain - When my book on the Spanish civil war was published in 2005, journalists in Madrid asked me in all seriousness whether it could ever happen again. I replied that thank goodness the same conditions simply did not exist. The vicious circle of fear between right and left, which had originated in the extreme cruelty by both sides in the Russian civil war, did not exist. But some things have begun to change alarmingly since then. We again face the danger of a world depression and we are beginning to see mass unemployment in some countries, especially in southern Europe. Last year, the British ambassador in Madrid, pointed out how remarkable it was that despite the terrifying levels of youth unemployment in Spain, there had been an astonishingly low level of social disorder. The demonstrations of the “Indignados,” the young Spaniards who have taken to the streets to protest against austerity measures and unemployment, have been passionate but not violent. His theory is that the memory of the horrors of the Spanish civil war is acting like a nuclear threat in the background. He may well be right. 

Right or wrong, Spain is going to see its unemployment rise from 5 to 6m in 2013, with no let-up in youth unemployment, currently running at more than 50%. It's not difficult to predict a greater likelihood of civil unrest. Perhaps this is why the government has made it illegal to take pictures of the police. Beevor ended his article with the following warning:- What are the dangers and threats to parliamentary democracy in Europe? Can the fundamental contradictions in the euro project be overcome? The dynamic of the moment seems to be that political integration must be drastically accelerated to make up for the flagrant paradoxes that existed from the euro’s very foundation and were scandalously ignored. One foreign minister argued to me last autumn that the economic situation was so grave that Europe must adopt a presidential system with direct elections. That idea is now becoming general currency in top European circles. Economic and political control would be drastically centralised with virtually no accountability. This would be nothing less than an elective dictatorship bringing with it the threat of nationalism, the very thing the European project intended to avoid. See the full article here.

But anyway, and meanwhile, I wish all readers a good 2013. Indeed, a good rest of your life. And I leave you with a compendium of great 2012 goals, dedicated to my very old friend, Rick, over in New Orleans. Enjoy!


Lee said...

Just came to say Happy New Year. I read your blog regularly, and though we're probably not on the same side politically, I do appreciate your opinions. Here's to better times. Cheers, and thanks for all your good words.

Sierra said...

..and it didn't include Lampard's two against Everton!

Colin said...

Ha bloody Ha , , ,

Colin said...

Many thanks, Lee. All the best for 2013.