Fernando R. Genovés is a Doctor of Philosophy, writer, and analyst.
"Tots a una veu"
The first verses of the Anthem of Valencia offer "new glories to Spain", and then praise the twinning of the village (chorus of voices) characterized by their hospitality and self-esteem. If the courtesy does not take away the courageous, poetic and even the diatrambic, typically in such a composition, they do not cease to have significance and perceptible effects in the daily life of individuals. In fact, the lyrics of the Anthem have been deconstructed by the most nationalistic wing (e.g., Catalanist) of the tripartite left-wing party that governs the Valencian Community (CV), sponsoring the modification of some of its fragments and emphasising others, read, that "Tots a una veu" chosen as the slogan that finishes off the advertising slogans emanating from the corresponding council. "Tots a una veu" is an expression that refers, in this case, to a very clear message: here all of us speak (must speak) one language, the "own language", that is to say, the Catalan language.
Pan-Catalanism runs through the "Merry Eastern Spain", an entrepreneurial and hedonistic community, with little propensity for confrontation and social outbursts; there are already the “Fallas” for fence and fence, for sublimation and trench. Nationalism coming from above continues to plan over the VC: Catalonia is above all, over all.
It should not be forgotten that the plan for the integration of the VC in the so-called "Catalan Countries" is not a last-minute one. Nor does it mean that for the Catalan Nationalism ("País Valencià") (and the Valencian branch) the VC is "País Valencià". Extremisms come together and nouns pair up, because by the name of the thing one begins: changing the names of streets, towns and villages; the headline of publications; radio and television programmes (although the content is in Spanish); the same identity as the regional language; and, recent announcement, seeking to "valencianise" the names and surnames of all newborns, at the initiative of several municipalities in Castellón. This is all described as a process of "standardisation".
The VC, a bilingual community
You can find territorial maps of the VC in which the linguistic areas of the official languages are defined: Spanish and Valencian. Catalan nationalism wields them as appropriate, because they reveal that there are large areas where Valencian is not predominant (especially in the capitals of the province, the most populated cities and/or the south of the community).
In any case, there are three main issues to be addressed:
- In the context of globalization and from the perspective of freedom, a "linguistic map", taken as a topographical basis for operations, refers more to a gross ethnicity than to a net technicality. Ethnic nationalism is an ideology incompatible with civilized and developed societies, which is acknowledged by the importance it places on the mobility of goods and people and the prevalence of communication. These features are particularly valuable in communities, such as Valencia, with a considerable number of residents of foreign origin (particularly in the coastal areas); these characteristics make sense to place them ahead of others of a political and/or ideological nature.
- The coexistence of both languages has been peaceful until the last decades. The Valencian speaker usually answers in Spanish to those who speak it in the national language, in order to understand us. And what is perhaps the most significant force, and what explains this coexistence, is that the public and private spheres have, by custom, been markedly differentiated. As a result, Valencian-speaking families and groups, expressing themselves in the regional language among themselves, use Spanish with complete naturalness in those areas where the two languages coexist or where Spanish promotes communication and social cohesion.
- The nationalistic theory and practice have put a lot of pressure on us to shatter this harmonic balance of the long-standing past, arguing that it does not put Valencian and Spanish on an equal footing. This approach is fallacious, because there is no point in equating the part with the whole. Spanish is the proper language of the Spanish people, which they have the right and the duty to speak. The regional language, both substantively and pragmatically, plays an additional, by far the most important role. Unless social pressure and political violence are employed to alter this reality.
Nationalism and Expansionism
Catalanism', or Catalan nationalism in motion, is characterised, among other things, by expansionism. It is true that I point out an attribute that usually accompanies all nationalism. It is more convenient to point out. Basque nationalism, for example, manoeuvres in those territories (Navarre, the French Basque Country, etc.) that it considers to belong to its "idealised nation", but does not prioritise expansion in its political agenda. What is more, his desire is to live, rather than outside Spain, on the fringes of Spain, keeping his privileges, and, for a certain period of time, to extend his powers of self-government.
In Catalan nationalism, the primacy of broadening its presence and influence beyond the officially recognised limits at the expense of Spain is clear, in other words: more Catalonia and less Spain (in France it has been held back by a severe sign of "No pasar", which, unfortunately, it has not found in our country). The secessionist montage that has been organised over the last few months is not, strictly speaking, considered to be more of that: a montage that places it on the central issue of Spain, a smokescreen, a permanent threat, another challenge. The crude, mocking, parody and even tragicomic tone in which he has dressed himself is a clear illustration of this. Consequently, if Catalonia does not leave Spain (she cannot, and indeed does not want to: the bargain would be over!), it is Spain that becomes "Greater Catalonia".
Language, school and culture, to begin with
The "roadmap" of Catalan nationalism, conceived with a long-term perspective in mind, first of all involves extending its influence to the closest territories, where it claims to have the same language: "Catalan countries". But that is not where their project comes to a halt, nor is it satisfied and limited to linguistic intrusion. For Catalan nationalism, the school and "the world of culture" are priority objectives; means, but not ultimate ends, serve as a loudspeaker and spokesman for its discourse, as well as a "laboratory" for testing the gradual large-scale implementation.
In the VC, Catalanist "hegemony" in the fields of language, school and culture has become practically total (both active and passive). I refer to a phenomenon that is not recent, but that takes us back many decades and was not timely neutralised, perhaps because I believe that nationalism would settle for the first course and be satiated forever. Quite a mistake. After all, it has managed not only to maintain its position, but also to increase it in other areas. Take a look at politics and the government. In the last regional and local elections, the tripartite left party (PSOE/PSPV, Compromís and Podemos) has been at the forefront of the regional government and the most populous cities of the Community. Note now the perception and response of society to such a boom.
Catalan nationalism has traditionally been rejected by the majority of Valencians. For many years, it met with strong opposition in different forms of Valencian regionalism and in political alternatives worthy of the constitutional mandate. This complaint resulted, for example, in the "war of the flags" (Valencian vs.Catalan). Today, this resistance has suffered a severe breakdown. The Catalan branch acts without any disguises or cover-ups, and hardly finds any criticism or reply from a society that, as a whole and in its depth, feels both Valencian and Spanish. The law of silence and socio-political intimidation, together with a certain accommodative conformism, have imposed themselves, with very damaging consequences for the freedom, well-being and social harmony of the community.
An extremely important challenge
The VC is facing an enormously important undertaking. You must choose between two alternatives. The first is to consolidate an open and modern society, driven by centripetal energy, involved, materially and emotionally, in projects on a national scale: the radio communications plan and the transfer of water resources from a national perspective are of paramount importance. The second is to abandon oneself to a local policy at the service of dubious interests, to a zealous passion, where sectarian and exclusionary practices are the order of the day, and where their great potential, especially economic ones, is ruined. Because a successful model is at stake (and in danger), consolidated in the field of tourism, with companies well positioned in the area of exports and foreign trade, and in which, to mention just one example, the Port of Valencia occupies a strategic position on international cruise routes, as a leading enclave in Spain in terms of goods traffic and, furthermore, as an attractive leisure area for citizens (La Marina).
The Valencians deserve to live, if not in a legendary "happy Eastern", by no means as subsidiary entities, as peasants of utopian, disintegrating and belligerent projects that do not generate wealth or social harmony. The VC deserves to live from its effort and vitality in Spain as a whole, promoting unity, prosperity and the years to come.
Translation: David Alonso Galera