During the last year, the political and social movement within Catalonia defending our country’s right to self-determination has not lessen but has become stronger and more organized. Despite for one year I have neglected my obligations to this blog and to the followers and commentators who supported me from the start, I have never stopped to watch the news from my country. Many business friends keep me posted too, and in my visits to Barcelona I tend to get as much news and literature about the topic as I can carry back to the Netherlands. The article below is my way to reactivate this blog and its purpose to filter some truth to the international community.  It is indeed a fragment of the one published in the Catalan newspaper ARA, and written by our dearest Toni Soler who I still recall from the Buenafuente beginnings in TV3 and who makes me laugh every week with Polònia, the humor program he directs now at the same channel. This mass media author is a proclaimed independent and so he proves time after time.

A friendly oenologist told me last Sant Jordi that the first step to self-determination of the Catalan country is to be “economically” independent from the Spanish state: so to say, he was referring to the famous “Pacte Fiscal” that our conservative President is trying to take to the Spanish parliament for approval (a new tax agreement between Catalonia and the Spanish state, similar or closer to the one the Basque country got after Franco died, and which allows them to manage their own money before paying a percentage to the Spanish government). For those who can read between lines, and who enjoy cynicism, I bet they will like this article. However, it also contains an important message to the mass media audience in Catalonia: stop day dreaming about being independent, and let’s make it happen. Independence is legally possible, but we need to put ourselves into work first.

(Thanks to Josep Ortega for sending me this article)

Let’s be pessimistic

POETS. Now, when we feel more in high spirits, now is the moment to put people down. In Spanish they say something like putting yourself to worse. In Catalan, we literally say to put the bandage before you get hurt (to take the antidote before the poison). And in any case, it is a mandatory exercise to do, though gratuitous pessimism is futile, and unfortunately there is too much of that in our country already. However, it is also true we are sometimes filled with puerile fervor. “Everything needs to be done, so everything is possible”; an inspired verse cannot be the slogan of a government program or the strategy of a country. In the Catalonia of the XX century we have sometimes behaved as sheep, but also as wolfs; we have acted too romantically and now we find ourselves in front of a serious political challenge –and it is indeed a serious one-, thus we need all the possible realism, a scientific and systematic realism. Poets, day-dreamers, and all the people who can give an opinion publicly, we have already said it all, we have complaint about everything, we have issued claims and proclaimed aspirations, we have helped to generate a critical mass opinion that truly believes in our country self-determination. Now it’s the turn to speak for those who know. We must put our feet on the ground and transform a state of mind in precise machinery.

FORESEE. So let us be the best pessimists. Leave your flags at home, forget Braveheart (and forget Mel Gibson too) and let’s ask the politician, the economist, the sociologist, the scientist, the diplomat, which is the best way to self-determination and which are the consequences. Let’s anticipate ourselves to the coming problems, let’s forecast all the risks, and accept that things are never as we would like them to be. Let’s not take everything for known and granted, don’t count on anybody at the beginning, don’t expect that our reason will be perceived as reasonable. Let’s always be willing to talk. Let’s look for alternative ways to do things. Let’s mistrust. And prepare useful answers to others coercion. Let’s always be conscious of the tools that we have in our reach.

SCENARIOS. If Generalitat promotes that we have our own Tax office, many good things can happen. But in order to be successful, we first must imagine a pessimistic scenario: Artur Mas could be taken to court; the Spanish government could impose penalties to those who would avoid paying taxes and freeze their bank accounts; some town councils ruled by PP (and even some ruled by PSC) would not follow the instructions from the Catalan government; the credit rating agencies would quote the Catalan debt to the lowest; the European Union could demand that law would be applied against us; multinational companies could stop investing here as they would be afraid of the political instability (or due to diplomatic pressure); some people would try to ignite a social (and if possible also ethnic) conflict here and there.

When a democratic aspiration becomes a majority, all of this must not be feared, but it must be foreseen. Even if it is only to avoid the worst to happen, or, in the worst case scenario, to confront it better, so we learn the lesson for future occasions. We must take the antidote before the poison, even if getting poisoned is highly improbable. Yet we must imagine tomorrow and be able to view it with realism, with everything that takes. In summary, we must have the highest ambition but show the most absolute coolness, in order to avoid the temptation of waiting things to happen only because we wish they would happen.

TONI SOLER 12/05/2012