Sunday 1 December 2013
Does politics offer us visions ? Or dreams ? Or illusions ? Or delusions ? Or projects ? Or projections ? Or fantasies ?
All of this is provoked by the latest piece of political commentary displayed on the walls of Sant Pere de Ribes. I have mentioned Sant Pere before (see Graffitti ) - the pleasant and apparently sleepy little town next door to where I live. I say 'apparently sleepy' because the graffitti culture can be virulently political, since there seems to be living in the town a significant community of political activists, of an extremely left-wing and radical sort. Every now and then, people go out with an aerosol to educate the people with slogans such as 'There's no shortage of money, just too many rich people'.
The picture shows the latest stencilled image - a map of Greater Catalunya (which includes the Balearic Islands, Valencia and a bit of France), and the slogan 'Independence - in order to change everything' (clumsy in English, but it's neat in Catalan). This, of course, is part of the on-going frenetic debate about whether Catalunya should break away from Spain and become an independent nation, within the European Union (or not?).
About ten minutes after seeing this graffitto, a burly guy passed me wearing a tee-shirt with exactly the same slogan. It appears that this is the slogan of a radical left group that is marching in parallel with the energetic campaign promoted by ERC - Esquerra Republicana de Catalunya, which is staunchly left-wing and the party most consistently in favour of Catalan Independence.
But, I thought ... really ? Will independence really change everything ? And what exactly does 'everything' cover ? The political system ... the price of food ... people's ancestry ... the colour of the sky ? That 'everything' is wonderfully dramatic - and it's also charmingly open, because presumably everyone who responds to that slogan will project into it whatever they want to change. We're talking new heaven and new earth here - all made exactly to my personal measure, one supposes. But what, when you come down to the hard facts, does it actually mean ?
This is gut-feeling politics, and it is probably pretty effective here in Catalunya right now, given the high rates of unemployment and the desperation that many people feel at the lack of any hope that the situation is going to get better (if it does) for years and years to come. Added to this, there is the contained anger at, and disillusion with, the whole political system. All long-standing parties have lost support massively in opinion polls - with the sole exception, interestingly, of ERC, whose muscular drive for Independence has raised them to be the second-ranked party in Catalunya after years on the periphery.
So, I would guess that this slogan works, in practical terms of gathering support - but is it responsable ? ethical ? credible ? Consider the list of nouns with which I started - which would you select to describe the political stance offered here ?