Victories of the Catalans
On 8th April 2021 the new book from Terrassa’s journalist Salvador Cot (Terrassa, 1965) has been published, with the title ‘Independentism in ten victories’, and with the subtitle ‘that you made it possible’. A story that leaves no one indifferent, thinking one way or another, and with independence of the chosen political option. In fact the subtitle, ‘that you made it possible’, is even clearer than the title itself; for this reason, in reality, those victories that Cot relates, can be considered of all the Catalans, at least some of the ones described.
Salvador Cot, even though he is a professional journalist, is a qualified historian, and it is this background that brings him the required perspective to be able to build a narration over time, which always helps to understand the present, where we are, to see what to do to change it if we do not like it. It is attributed to Einstein the reasoning that explains that, if someone want to change the results of a certain process, it would be clever to not to do always the same thing. This would be the same as understanding that it is necessary to learn from mistakes to avoid repeating them. Easy to say, not always easy to do. But in historical perspective, and as per Cot’s words, Catalans have not spent that much time fighting for independence and, as per him, in one or maximum two generations this objective can be achieved. Following Cot´s narration, independentist and optimist words got married a long time ago and it does not seem they are to claim for divorce. In fact, this marriage, independentist and optimist, keeps celebrating years through the pages that detail the ten victories that the author suggests, and it seems that their communal living does not stop in bringing happiness.
Victories and retreats
By reading with attention the ten victories that the author suggests, we cannot neglect that some more critical Catalans could refute that they are not all victories and that, some are, in fact, retreats. And it is because of this, that his narrative looks like opted for possibilism, or as he comments, an ‘anti-propaganda’ tale by independentist side, which it has to be said, has not yet achieved the independence, final objective being pursued. But precisely, looking at everything that has been done, putting it to its true value, possessing what he describes as victories, it helps to counteract the perceived message from those against independence , that of ‘it is not possible’ or even the fact of branding those who are in favour as naif. But it needs to be understood, and he understands so, being in favour of independence is not that naif, as it would be being in favour without accepting its associated costs.
This way, reviewing their victories, one can realise that all of them show certain common traces, they are victories of people and their wishes. These are victories attributable to the strength of collective intelligence, the one that allows that, together, people achieve results that they would never achieve individually instead. Maybe we do not agree, when reading the book, in the selection of victories, since some are overwhelming while other are not, which are weakly considered victories. The election is Cot’s personal, clearly, a declared optimist, married with independence since he was young.
Reading through the chapters, the referendum of the 1st of October would appear to be a resounding victory of that collective intelligence we were talking about. A victory that includes the whole process of making it possible for a very large part of the Catalans to vote, throughout the territory and in a decentralised way. And with violence against them by the repressive Spanish police forces, and unjustifiably so. Meanwhile, the chapter of the elections of the 21st of December of 2017 may be more of an imposition of the system than progress towards independence. In fact, this victory, which refers to the 21D election, seen from the pro-independence point of view and remembering that moment, was not so obvious that everyone experienced it as such, but rather as a ducking of the neck and saving the furniture of the depleted autonomy. So, to sum up, the choice was made to vote on the 1st of October and not on the 21st December. October the 1st is an act of citizen empowerment while December the 21st seems more like an act of acceptance that everything remains the same. But Cot, with the optimistic tone present throughout his account, argues that 21D gives a result that endorses what the Catalans want, and therefore, in terms of the result, consolidates independence, which does not retreat nor disappear, it simply does not have the power to execute what it wants, despite being in the majority.
The symbols of Catalan victories
The victories cited have common symbols, the most important of which is the ballot box, which in each chapter is filled with votes. The ballot box, as an element where everyone chooses, a symbol of democracy, and always present in Catalan culture. Freedom, giving options and choosing. All victories have some relation with the ballot box and the votes of the Catalans. For this reason, throughout the ten victories, Cot proposes casting votes in the ballot boxes of independence. In fact, this is shown in the illustrations that accompany the text, drawn by one of the emblematic cartoonists of the pro-independence movement, @bicman.cat. The high-quality illustrations begin with empty ballot boxes and end with ballot boxes full of votes. In addition, each victory has its own illustration at the beginning of the chapter.
And there is also a symbol, which appears irregularly throughout the story, but which heads the first victory (the Arenys consultation) and is the absolute protagonist in the tenth victory, and that is citizen empowerment. We could say that independence begins and ends with the people. And the tools needed for empowerment have to be built discreetly, methodically, professionally and relentlessly. In fact, on page 100 there is a mention of financial empowerment, and 11Onze and its community banking proposal. This fact-based optimism is something we fully share with the author.
We do not want to reveal any more victories, leaving it up to the readers to read them in first person, so that they can form their own opinion, interacting with the author, in this symbolic dialogue that is sure to take place, as the book leaves no one indifferent.