The alphabet of the Catalan independence movement

08/11/2017

Miquel Porta Perales es crítico y escritor

 When talking about nationalist indoctrination in Catalonia, it is common to mention the schools and some public and private media. From the schools it is mentioned the nationalist hidden curriculum of Primary education—also, of Secondary—, especially in the subject “Environmental Studies” which includes Geography and History and Social Sciences. From some public and private media it is stressed the existence of a nationalist tale propagated day by day in a surreptitious way.

To Primary and Secondary schools, as well as public and private media, we can also add other sources of nationalization that have gone unnoticed: nursery school, —which encompass, according to the normative of the Generalitat of Catalonia, from 3 to 6 years old— family and public libraries.

Indoctrination is found in some books—with little texts and many illustrations, which sometimes include flags or allusive posters—which editorials recommend for children aged 3 or 4 years old and above. Books —which can be found in schools, public libraries, and in family households—which are being edited at the same time as the beginning of the “process”. In that regard, it is quite characteristic the catalogue of books edited by La Galera before the beginning of the “process”: La castanyada, El caganer, El ratolinet Pérez, Els Reis d´Orient, Sant Jordi i el drac or La nit de Sant Joan. Doubtlessly a nationalistic twist.

How to learn to read? With the book L´abecedari de la independència[1]. The editorial synopsis is crystal clear: “A book for boys and girls to start learning the alphabet letters. Each letter has a motive identifiable with the sovereigntist process. A book that will delight boys and girls (and adults) and will approach the historical moment we are now facing”. Some letters along with the words that accompany them: A (Asamblea Nacional Catalana), C (Consultation), D ([Derecho] right to decide), E (Estelada flag), I (Independence), M (Manifestation), N (New State of Europe), O (Òmnium Cultural), R (Republic), S ([] yes to the referendum), V ([Vía]Catalan way), WW ([Webs] Catalan web pages), Z (Zigzag with a boy and a girl running away from the Transition period, the Constitution and the Constitutional Court).

How to learn Catalonian History? With the Petita Història de Catalunya[2] and La meva primera Història de Catalunya. Some details from the first book: “ancient Greeks arrived to our home and disembarked in our country”, “Romans got stronger in Catalonia’s current territory”, “the inhabitants of our country”, “the culture of our country”, “in the X Century small counties from the south of the Pyrenees started an independence process putting the seeds of what we know today as Catalonia”, “the relationship between Castilians and Catalans has never been completely fluent”, “Catalans [XVII Century] joined the French to confront Castilians”, “Catalonia [XVIII Century] stopped being an independent principality to be part of Spain”, “since then [1975], every September 11th, thousands and thousands of citizens go out in the streets to reclaim the national recognition of our country”, “in the last ten years, Catalans have decided to look to the future and have placed on the table the debate regarding its independence and emancipation from the Spanish State”

Some details from the second book: “our country was born in the surroundings of the Pyrenees”, “in our country King Jaime founded his Courtand in our land the King has never pass any law alone”, “for Catalonia, sharing the King with other territories has never been a problem…as long as the King would swear to respect the laws of the country. If not, he should not be obeyed”, “each time [XVII Century] was more difficult for Catalonia to govern itself in its own way”, “Catalans [XVIII Century] lost a very bloody war against the kings of Spain and France”, “around the seventies [XX Century] people went out to the streets asking for the return of democracy and the self-government of Catalonia”, “in these past years [XXI Century] we have never stopped demanding more freedom to Catalonia. We do it every September 11th and each time we make our voice to be heard louder”.

What happened on September 11th and what is the Diada? In La meva primera Diada[3], grandparents explain to their grandchildren that “a very long time ago, almost three hundred years ago, Catalans lived calm and in peace, committed to commerce, to cultivate the land and to explain stories around the fire. Even though we shared a kingdom with other countries, we had our own laws recompiled in our Constitutions”. The War of the Spanish Succession took place and so “we had to create quickly an Army to defend ourselves”, yet “unfortunately Catalans could not win”.

In L´onze de Setembre[4], little Sara realizes that in the Diada there are “flags in the balconies and windows”, “everyone is very happy”, “a common feeling unites all of us” and “we sing Els Segadors today and always”. Each page of the book is closed with the chorus of Els Segadors: “Bon cop de falç, defensors de la terra!” (“Strike with your sickle, defenders of the land!”).

The main object of these texts is the imagination of a nation as well as the banalization of an identity—and the same could be said from others with the same receipt and content.

Just like Bendict Anderson, the Catalan nation is imagined by using expressions such as “our home”, “our country”, “our territory” or — “national recognition”. Just like Michael Billing, the Catalan identity is trivialized—that is normalized—using expressions or myths such as “the culture of our country”, “our own laws and Constitutions”, Jaime I and the Courts or the aforementioned alphabet. A Catalan nation and identity opposed to the Spanish nation and identity. Hence, the “not always fluid relationship between Castilians and Catalans”, the “to confront the Castilians” or the “we had to defend ourselves”. The corollary: “freedom for Catalonia” and “the independence and national emancipation”. All this profoundly illustrated in the following two examples. The cover of L´abecedari de la independencia: a boy and a girl, with an Estelada flag as a cap, who are have fun with the letters as if they were a swing. The cover of L´onze de Setembre: children, adults, elderlies and a dog in the Diada demonstration hoisting Senyera flags and Estelada flags.

An exercise of nationalist pedagogy with its script, tale, program, newspeak and belief prêt à penser and prêt à porter. A method of indoctrination and framing. —with a lot of behaviorism in all that.

The current legislation in Catalonia holds that “the main objective of childhood education is to contribute to the emotional and affective, physical and motor, social and cognitive development of children”. Maybe this is what the pro-independence Catalan alphabet looks for: formatting the mind and modulating behavior from the earliest age.

Traducido por María Maseda



[1] CALAFELL, Roser, L´abecedari de la independencia. Barcelona. La Galera. 2014.

[2] GRACIÀ, Oriol y BAYÉS, Pilarín, Petita Història de Catalunya. Barcelona. Mediterrània. 2013.

[3] CLOTET, Jaume y BISBE, Rut, La meva primera Diada. Barcelona. Estrella Polar. 2013.

[4] CANYELLES, Anna y CALAFELL, Roser, L´onze de Setembre. Barcelona. La Galera. 2013.

#Spain #Education #Catalonia #secesionismo #independencia #LIBROSyLETRAS