España desde el bar (Spain From the Bar)

This is easily the unlikeliest entry that I could ever have dreamed of writing: it’s about a book that I haven’t read yet, a book that hasn’t even been published yet.

Or so I began the post I wrote about a book last summer - a post that got corrupted in the recent move of the blog and had to be deleted. So while I'm still busy tidying up lose ends, a re-post:

I’m not sure now where I originally saw the notice regarding this book. I read about it in El País, or somewhere. But I liked the idea: a Catalan in favour of independence decided to travel around Spain for two months, interviewing people in bars, asking them questions about Spain, Catalonian independence, life, politicians… whatever.

Obviously, I’m no position to assert that this will result in a good book; I don’t know the author. But I visited the website and I liked it: liked the photos and the excerpts from some of the interviews.

I’m not Spanish. Hell, I can’t even speak Spanish all that well (although I’m working on that). Me defiendo, as the Spanish say, that is, I can get by and I read it reasonably well. But I love Spain, her landscapes, her history, the language which is beautiful… To me, the foreigner, Catalonia seems as Spanish as Castile herself; as much part of Spain as Andalusia, the Extremadura or Galicia. As I travel around, looking at the country with the eyes of an outsider, I see more of what unites the Spaniards than what separates them. And so to me it seems strange that the Catalans want to leave Spain. Besides, coming originally from Hungary, from behind the hated Iron Curtain which I’m sufficiently old to remember, I dislike the idea of creating new borders within Europe when we barely have begun to dismantle the old ones.

So if I knew any Catalans, I’d like to ask them:

“Why? Granted Spain is not perfect, but why would an independent Catalonia be any better? What problems would independence solve that can’t be solved from within Spain? If Catalonia can be made a better place by merely changing her flag, can’t Spain in her entirety be made a better place too?”

That’s what I would ask. But I don’t know any Catalans. 🙂

Just for the record: Whether it’s a good idea for the Catalans to leave or no, I think they should be allowed to have their referendum if they wish it. A government that can only keep its own people within the borders by force is hardly a good government, hardly a government “of the people, by the people, for the people”.

In a democracy we’re all entitled to our opinions and expressing them. In this case, however, that includes the rest of Spain – represented, for better or for worse, by the Spanish government in whose election the Catalans too had their say. And if having a referendum means that the Spanish constitution has to be changed first – which I understand is the case -, well, then perhaps this is what they should all be discussing first…

The great idea in this book is that it asks the rest of Spain about what they think of Catalan independence. And that it asks ordinary people, rather than discussing the arguments made by politicians. One for democracy, I think. I’m looking forward to reading it when and if it comes out.



(in Spanish)

And here the re-post ends. Since then the book did come out and I just bought it: so you'll hear what I think of the end result in due course...


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