Some days ago one Irish friend, that has been living in Barcelona for many years now, has sent me a message asking ‘what my thoughts are on this situation and time in Catalan and Spanish history’. In my response I’ve said:
(…) Among the main reasons I left Barcelona is the feeling of seeing people unable to avoid the history from repeating itself. That in a way is not a surprise due to the similarities there are in the ways that Spanish and Catalan nationalism promote affiliation. They are so similar in their narratives that the impossibility of differentiation leaves no space for avoiding violent rhetoric. Unfortunately, at this point the conflict has reached the stage where neither of the sides is able to step back and call for a rational dialog. Emotions have taken over and rationality is interpreted as a sign of treason (…)
National identity is closely tied to our self and our personal identity through our native language. It is the language that we have used while building our identity, our character and our temper. It is why nationalism triggers the mechanisms closely attached to our emotional processes, rather than the rational ones.
It is why, at the late stages of national conformations, from both sides, comes a time when the loyalty is placed among all other virtues and issues debated. It is when any intent of call to reason is considered a treason. It is a reminiscence of the tribal patterns of behavior that politics exploit as they pleased whenever left without ideas and solutions to improve people’s lives. It is the automatic response that gives highest results in times of economic downsides. Lower the incomes, higher the national identity.
It lacks arguments and narratives to provide solutions in the fast increasing complexity that the humanity is facing. Its incapacity to integrate discredits itself from playing any responsible role in the future relations among people who more and more realize that the challenges we are facing are far greater than the feeling of affiliation to some national identity. The challenges we face are global. And they all come down to building a sustainable model of life that would slow down and eventually neutralize the effects of the climate change.
These are the issues that lie in the heart of the matter of any future debate or decision we are to make because under the burning sun, lack of water and other vital resources, national identity won’t provide any comfort.