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So many questions have been raised about the Catalan independence process since the first week of October, especially in reference to whether the Catalan government was truly prepared for the next step after declaring independence and what made them think they would be able to do so without punitive retaliatory measures by the Spanish government. One of the most notable elements of the fallout since then is the disbelief displayed by independence supporters that no one, specifically no institution, body or organisation, was willing to come to their aid in what they saw as their hour of need. What struck a chord with me after so many years living here is the nature of that disbelief, as if these people’s faith in humanity had been shaken, so convinced had they been that an EU knight in shining armour would come riding to the rescue.
The most outstanding feature of said disbelief for me is its naivety, a word - and I acknowledge that it’s a strong one - I believe to accurately define the reaction to what has happened in Catalonia since those heady days of early October. When I try and explain the situation here to friends and family in the UK they invariably come back with the same question: what made them think anyone was going to help? Of course, convinced independence supporters believe the answer to be obvious: a lawfully elected government followed its political mandate and executed a referendum followed by the natural outcome of the result of said vote, and it cannot be considered guilty of any crime for doing that. Surely anyone can see that. But to outsiders this reasoning smacks of naivety: the innocent conviction that if you do things right justice will prevail. And the reason for this naivety I believe is that justice is not an objective term, however much we would like it to be. And that’s where cultural differences come in. One person’s justice is another’s injustice, because in the end perception is all there is, and if my perception does not take into account that of others then I am in fact being naïve in thinking the outcome will be as I wish it to be.
I’ve gone on record in this column saying that I think the Catalan government did the right thing to follow through with its mandate, and that hasn’t changed, but I’ll also go on record to say that doing the right thing does not automatically lead to you getting what you want and the support of others. Because ultimately people act out of self-interest, and even a cursory consideration of whether the EU or anyone else thought that Catalan independence was beneficial to them would result in the same conclusion. No politicians, parties or states who were not themselves part of an independence cause had any interest in Catalonia gaining its independence; quite the opposite in fact. A more poignant question to my mind now is what type of politics we can expect to see in the future, as it gradually sinks in that corporate power is what truly makes our world go round. Although I believe that the days of the PP are numbered, I’m starting to think that it won’t be long until the same is true of all political parties and politics as we know it today. Perhaps it’s time for not just supporters of Catalan independence , but all of us to wise up to the modern systems of power.