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PostInclusive Nationalism and Supremacist Nationalism (José Ignacio Soler, Venezuela, 02/04/19 2:12 pm)
In what was supposed to be my last post on the question of language and politics in Catalonia, John E remarked, "Spanish nationalism is 'inclusive'? This may be the case at present, but what about under Franco? Such memories cannot be erased overnight. "
John's statement, apparently well-intentioned, caused me to reflect on the subject. First I was surprised that he mentioned Franco's repression and post-Civil War retaliation as an expression of something called "Spanish nationalism," and second that he mentioned, out of the current context, something that happened more than 50 years ago.
It is a common mistake to justify the current Catalonian nationalist/independentist movement as a result of the Franco regime's repression of Catalonia. This belief is far from true. As we've seen before on WAIS, the independentist expectations are much older. In fact, they can be confirmed from many sources. At the same time, Catalonian independentist supporters were just a minority, perhaps 20% to 25% of the population, even a few years ago.
It is true that Franco suppressed many democratic rights in Catalonia, as much as in any other place in Spain. His regime prohibited political parties, persecuted and executed political adversaries, restrained the free press, abolished the regional Estatutos de Autonomía, and Castilian Spanish was imposed as the only official language in the country over the other regional languages, Gallego, Euskera and Catalan. I have no desire to defend Franco's totalitarian ideology, but all these repressive measures might well have responded to his military and simplistic vision for reunifying a weak, fragmented and divided society after the war.
To motivate collective support, he also used nationalistic symbols which according to concept of "nationalism" had distinctive features. Here are some of the features, which I consider to be perverse when politically manipulated:
1. Historical pride, a deep nostalgic sentiment of having had a glorious past, a Golden Age.
2. A supremacist belief. They are different, therefore better than "others."
3. An external enemy, to justify present failures or decadence.
4. "Victimismo" (Victimhood). A recurrent state of mind in which they consider themselves to be victims of perceived or presumed acts of persecution, oppression, humiliation, and offenses by their external enemies, their oppressors or exploiters.
In the case of Catalonian nationalism these elements are clearly present.
In Franco's nationalistic ideology, all these elements were more or less explicitly present. For instance and particularly the national supremacist feeling represented by Catholic and traditionalist values; or the "external enemies" represented by the leftist, communist, anarchist and regionalist movements that sought the fragmentation of Spain. In this sense his nationalism might be considered "exclusive" and "supremacist."
Nevertheless and fortunately, Franco's economic policies were more progressive, perhaps because he was not particularly interested or lacked talent in this subject, and he delegated the field to more skilled people. Ironically, Catalonia was very much favored by these policies. This fact can be contrasted easily from official sources of the time, but let's simplify it by saying that during the Franco years, despite political and cultural repression, this region had the highest economic growth in Spain and ironically not because it was victim of his "exclusive nationalistic" ideology.
Getting back at present times, I believe that currently the "Spanish Nationalism" decried by Catalonian independentists is very different from Franco's. Not only because Spanish society has matured in many positive and democratic ways. It has also evolved to preserve Spain's territorial integrity to confront the segregationist Catalonian purpose, and in this very sense is "inclusive" and not "supremacist."
JE comments: Might the question ultimately boil down to language? Has there ever a minority language community that hasn't felt disrespected--kicked around, even? Who can give us insight on French and Italian speakers in Switzerland?
In the Spanish context, consider this hypothetical: would there be a Catalan separatist movement if there were no language difference?