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x-pressed | an open journal
September 26, 2015
September 26, 2015

Spain: The loneliness of the stateless

Author: Santiago López Petit Translator: x-pressed
This article is also available in: caes
Spain: The loneliness of the stateless

Picture by El telar de la Loba. The return at home.

I would have liked to be enthusiastic about the demonstration commemorating Catalonia’s national day, last September 11. Seeing all those happy and excited faces, I also tried to crack a smile. But the view of so many flags only made me sick. I am sorry. This is something that happens to some of us.

Obviously, as a Catalan, I would prefer a crowded Meridiana Street capable of challenging the Spanish government, even if this challenge was a ’92 Olympic Games remake. Demonstrating does not consist of signing in and participating. I confess: I am as disorientated as a foreigner.

Some of us are foreigners among foreigners, but we remember clearly the day when president Mas had to enter by helicopter into a parliament blocked by people shouting “Nobody represents us”.

Now, president Mas, protected by an electoral list, has been reborn, pure and stainless, detached from cutbacks and corruption. It is what C. Schmitt, the great inventor of decisionism -now very much in fashion-, called “the miracle of politics”. But we, because we don’t forget, have managed to survive inside the bubble.

There is a lack of air inside the nationalist bubble. Let me explain what the nationalist bubble is. This damned bubble has the logical form of a double bond, in the sense that two contradictory messages collide and their feedback impedes all possible exits. The Spanish nationalist discourse and the Catalan nationalist discourse.

Spain or Catalonia? “Define yourself”. “You have to struggle, no excuses”. Violence is becoming intimate, suffocating.

Spanishness is mobilising the stupidest legalisms and the most depraved desires. We have to respect the LAW as if it were something sacred, when it is the embodiment of a power correlation.

You want the impossible”, they assert quietly, when struggling to make the impossible real is precisely what dignifies a struggle. And, finally, Spanishness appeals to fear that is the most revealing argument of helplessness.

From its part, secessionist catalanism, completely ignoring half of the population, tries to construct the will of a people. In this case, noble desires such as hope are appealed to, because they match the epic narrative.

But, in reality, anything goes: from the manipulation of History to the most brutally reasonable call: “we will have more money for ourselves”. Ultimately, the reply to the crude and never-ending Spanish arrogance is bitter and misleading affirmation dressed as an excited smile.

The nationalist discourse simplifies, de-politicises everything it touches and is always conservative. Its claim is poor, always weighed down by victimhood. “You are bad, therefore I am good”. It does not know how to get out of this. It imperatively needs an Other as a scapegoat.

I went to buy the newspaper the other day and the newsagent was telling a client in a very serious tone: “I cannot wait for the tanks to enter Diagonal Street…”. Since I was not in the mood for arguing, I did not ask him if he would go out to stop them.

What is happening now is that the separatist fairytale is facing the spanishness horror story. And the air in the bubble becomes even less. How can this absurdly exhausting double bond be broken? There could be such a possibility, probably uncertain, because it almost never came to exist. That Catalonia would become an anomaly, a true anomaly able to infect other peoples. An anomaly and not a political unit. This happened during the 15M movement for just a few moments.

A Catalonia integrated in a different Spain that would abandon its name. Certainly, we didn’t know how to do it and there wasn’t much interest in this union without unity. Spain preferred to make itself ridiculously powerful in its extreme debility.

Catalonia became a proper and dependent state. Its greatest dream. What a sad destiny! In those days, from Espai en Blanc, we issued a journal with the headline “Catalans un esforç més!” (One more try Catalans!). We were left alone despite everybody being very understanding.

Franz Fanon, the great fighter for the independence of Algeria, already warned us: “Let’s not pay tribute to Europe creating states, institutions, and societies inspired by it… Humanity is expecting from us something more than imitation, something that would be an obscene caricature”.

This effort for a serious and consistent political experimentation doesn t exist. The systemic parties with their new treacherous candidates list, the generic brand of old school communists who are always the first to sell out.

Mr. Coscubiela (third on the list): Do you remember when you were holding the door of the Workers’ Commission Union (CC. OO.) for the police to arrive and arrest us while your thugs were ferociously beating us up? We that in 1999 only wanted to read to all of you a small manifesto-tribute to your sacrifices for the working class. The next day, we were accused by the media of being a fascist group.

And then what about the separatists who think they can be also be anti-capitalists; who believe that the state is simply a necessary step. Of course, there is not that much cynicism but they do believe way too much.

For example, they believe that the national struggle here coincides with the class struggle. At this point of History, I am not very sure what the class struggle is, even though I can imagine since we are losing it. But I know very well that it has nothing to do with the nationalist struggle.

The ambiguous relationship of the CUP with the hegemonic Catalan nationalism reminds me exactly the role of the extreme left regarding the left parties of the System of Parties of the State. And I will say nothing more.

The background music does not stop inside the bubble: “The vote of your life”, “Let’s govern ourselves”, “Yes, we can”… The emergence of categories of modern politics – nation-state, the people as national unit, the construction of an identity– in a post-modern framework has the strange effect of creating a big simulation where nothing is what it seems.

It is an extremely serious bluff, which at the same time is totally ludicrous and pathetic. The time is running out and we have to speak clear. You have to define yourself. Are you voting in favour of Catalan independence? Yes or No?

Since there is no collective answer that could break with the double bond, the only one that occurs to me and serves as a provisional moral to the Cartesian one is: “I would rather not do it”.

“I would rather not do it” is what Bartleby responded every time he was pressured. But I will not stay in the office until I die from hunger like he did. All right, I am in favour of the right to decide.

I want my right to escape. I want to escape and not have to respond to a question that doesn’t interest me. Be stateless, who owes respect to nothing since s/he is bounded to nothing.

Trying out an impossible internationalism because I reckon that it is worth fighting for this impossibility. Is it a personal way out? Whoever thinks that did not understand what I am saying.

“I am nothing and I should be everything” Marx said. They will never know how many we are, neither will they be able to count us.

In the loneliness of the stateless, the power of anonymity and the power of pain meet. That is why it is unreachable to the eyes of power.

We hate all talk -show guests. In our everyday life we do not get lost into foolishness, we go for the essential. And on Sundays we dream… that a subversive movement will finally clean up this papier-mâché setting.

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