My guide to this year’s National Day
1. I am one of those who believe that the mood of people who aspire to Catalan independence is being misinterpreted. In general, nobody is tired of the independence process. The notion that we have “become bogged down in the process” is an invention by those who have to hide the fact that they had tried to throw a spanner in the works, or of those who unrelentingly mistrustful. What people are is impatient to reach the finish line. Thus, as opinion polls reflect –and in contrast to the prophets of doom–, there are no desertions from the ranks of independence supporters. Where there is surely desperation is on the unionist camp. And there will be even more on September 12th.
2. I reiterate that the main adversary of independence is the lack of confidence in our own ability to achieve it. And this does not include the aversion to risk that could take over at the moment of truth. It is the assertive spirit that becomes contagious and spreads. The lack of confidence has been fueled by internal debates such as the RUI (Unilateral Independence Referendum), which is perfectly dispensable. Or by unfounded accusations of weakness between parties who are positioning themselves to be the legitimate heirs of the final victory. And too, by the hasty rhetoric of ideological exclusion before even having the keys to the new political territory. This September 11 is no longer about “pressuring the government”, but rather about conveying the assurance that everyone will stand their ground until the very end.
3. I like the decentralized rally this year because it rids us of the temptation of outdoing ourselves, to see if we can summon more demonstrators every year. The fifth massive rally doesn’t have to beat a Guinness world record, but merely show perseverance and strength of will. The independence movement must convince, as my friend Jordi Barbé —a scientist, “casteller” (1), and judo enthusiast— taught me, that “what’s soft can defeat what’s hard, and the weak can beat the strong”. It’s also true in politics.
4. The unity that is needed —as proven every 11-S— is that of the people. Nobody asks who is standing next to them, nor where they were born, nor what language they speak, nor who they vote. It’s enough to know that they are going in the same direction. If, in addition, the representatives of the various political groups and institutions want to join in, all the better. And particularly those who still harbour doubts. I’ve always said that the pro-independence majority will be decided by the last ones to join up, not the first. But make no mistake: the political parties will always have a competitive relationship, which will make them seek to differentiate themselves rather than to fuse into a single player like the rest of the participants.
5. In any case, before leaving home this September 11th, let us think back. All of this began as a response to the humiliation inflicted during the approval of the Catalan Statute, first trimmed by the Spanish parliament and later struck down by the Constitutional Court. They believed that it was their chance to put an end to Catalan national aspirations. And exactly ten years ago many Catalans found that they had had enough, and followed the call from Joan Solà: “Be brave and stand up!” It has been led by a civil society with exemplary self-organization skills, profoundly inspired by hundreds of testimonies of national dignity, such as Jordi Carbonell himself. They ended up pushing the institutions forward, via the ballot, to take on the challenge of a new horizon of freedom. And we have entrusted this titanic task, both extremely delicate and tremendously bold, to them. Obviously the final result will also be ratified at the polls, in a process that must be impeccably popular and admirably democratic. The final roadmap cannot be foreseen because the final gesture of emancipation will arrive when we least expect it, as usually happens in these cases. But everything will be ready, and as this 11-S will show, when the time comes we will all be where we are supposed to.
(1) N.T. A “casteller” is a member of a club that builds human towers (“castells”)