To an outsider, all the things currently going on in Catalonia (that attention seeking piece of land by the Pyrenees blessed also by the Mediterranean where locals do not behave quite like Spaniards) might sound remote and perhaps even more appealing to politics freaks than to the average English citizen.
Setting aside the common -and perhaps healthy- habit to ignore the issues happening scarcely a few steps from our doorway, the state of affairs developing in Catalonia, along with the national movements in Scotland and Flanders, outline the magnitude of groundbreaking transformations to come in Europe as a whole. Nowadays these nations arguably represent the most advanced Euro-laboratory where 21st Century basic social structures could be redrawn.
Attempts to minimize or disregard the democratic challenge stubbornly and simultaneously erupting from different corners of the western world, along with some bias inclination aiming to simplify or limit it extend to a reductionist logic of nationalism vs. economics, would not just be irresponsible but also harmful to an already weak European project.
Language, culture, history, politics, sports, lifestyle, arts, dreams… every single aspect of day life is expressing the need to overcome the currently depressing austerity age. In this scenario, the Catalan public has found its own way to revolt against a disappointing and unsustainable situation. In they turn, English whistleblowers have reached as well that intuitive threshold indicating that is time for important decision-making. In this light two relevant and illustrative examples this bank of the Thames: The realization that those Brits born in the 60’s and 70’s are or will be poorer than their parents, and the overwhelming Eurosceptic momentum.
In trouble times the human essence comes afloat with identities -as complex and shifting as they are- trickling through to the front-line to trigger possible responses. Their complexities do not offer an explanation of the actual state of affairs in full, nevertheless they arise firmly from the very core of the strategies that are leading or aiming to lead the way through depression.
Today’s approach depicts a significant contrast between the two liberal-conservative governments both in England and Catalonia. PM David Cameron has to deal with a difficult balance of a divided party that partly and simplistically blames Europe whilst the UK can’t afford to rely only on its own market to guarantee the stability of an already weakened welfare state; whereas the Catalan President uses his limited voice to plead for a higher integration in a federal EU whereas the threat of membership re-appliance -if the sovereignty push succeeds- rests upon him.
The Scottish referendum has reopened the federal question in the UK, and the recent suspension of the Catalan consultation on independence points at the reactionary reluctance with what some European states, like Spain, are facing the outstanding demands to deepening in the essential democratic values.
All these transformations point at the urgent need to review some traditional self-centered narratives moored by journalists, politicians and researchers over the last two decades to adopt fresh new approaches able to interpret the new European challenges.