For Whom The Bell Tolls

“Give us, us free”

When Islamist terrorists strike a city we are all too prepared to declare ourselves ‘citizens’ of Paris or Berlin or even Brussels. This is easy. It is a lot harder to stand against the terror that is committed by an allied government. Rare are the facebook-declarations claiming the poster to be ‘Catalan’. The Roman army has showed up and suddenly no-one is Spartacus. This is not only a Catalan fight however. If we don’t speak now, governments around the world, (including yours!) will consider what happened in Catalunya the ‘new-normal’. No-man is an Island.

Image from the movie ‘Amistad’.
Is freedom ever granted, or must it always be bought?

Since nobody came to the negotiations Catalunya which was offering and given that not the slightest modicum of freedom or autonomy has been relinquished to them, Catalunya is expected to move to the full declaration of independence today. Spanish military police already is occupying key positions and is threatening more proportioned responses violence. We should all be worried about this, for this is what historians call an ‘open history’; where small fluctuations in circumstances can generate radically different results. The results becoming unpredictable and potentially as chaotic and deadly as history has ever seen. Which is also why the rest of us have been so silent. It is not our problem and we wouldn’t want to make it ours by speaking truth to power.

“There is a trend”, someone said to me, “of right-wing authoritarian regimes focussing the attention on Nationalist themes and on blaming minorities, to distract from the corruption they are accused of and their withering economy.” Indeed, it has been the strategy that Spanish minority prime-minister Rajoy has used. In that sense the Catalan referendum has been a God-send to him. Like Trump, Rajoy is only staying out of prison thanks to the obstructions-to-justice he has mastered so well. It is almost like, with Trump in the White House, that the people have grown used to people with one leg in Power and the other leg in jail. We used to be a lot more intolerant of our politicians invoking even the appearance of wrong-doing.

We should all be worried about what is going to happen. The last time there was a civil war in Catalunya (granted, it was also in Madrid and Sevilla and many other places) we had the talents of Hemmingway to rub our noses in it. It would be unfortunate if we had to conclude that we are even worse of now than we were then.

 For whom the bell tolls
No man is an island,
Entire of itself.
Each is a piece of the continent,
A part of the main.
If a clod be washed away by the sea,
Europe is the less.
As well as if a promontory were.
As well as if a manor of thine own
Or of thine friend's were.
Each man's death diminishes me,
For I am involved in mankind.
send not to know For whom the bell tolls,
It tolls for thee.

John Donne – 1624

For Catalunya, today, may very well be the ‘Longest Day’. We should not relieve ourselves of sharing their burden.

Live Long and Prosper


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