Spain–Where Are You Heading?

EDITORIAL, 14 August 2017

#494 | Johan Galtung – TRANSCEND Media Service

Alfaz, Spain

It is customary for Spaniards to add the word “crisis” to the name of the country. They are not alone in that, it may be a Western habit, one of those words driving the West on.

Protected by extended families and 8,000+ local communities–average size only about 5,000, people know each other–Spaniards as people are not in a crisis. And for the poorest of the communities there is always the cooperative Marinaleda model (NYT, 24 Apr 2009) to copy, emulate or adapt. Or new models to be invented.

There is corruption, unemployment, aging by youth leaving the country, increasing inequality; not massive suffering at the bottom.

Even if Spaniards are not in a real crisis, Spain may be.

Castillans dominated the rest politically, linguistically-culturally, economically: Catalans, Basques, Gallegos, Andalucians, the islands. The five other Spains, now making themselves seen and heard.

A more honest, truthful Spain, might be a federation of the six. Spain is not, there will be forces for and against, but with the taming of Basques less violent, more searching for convivencia.

Have a look at “Andalucia”.  The name is from the Vandals of fall of the Roman Empire fame”, but better known as center of the Muslim caliphate 711-1492, in the beginning covering almost all of Spain.

There was co-existence and dialogue among the three Abrahamic faiths till they all became fundamentalist.  Arabic must have been a lingua franca, something like English today. Equally important, people are also what they eat: the cooking was Arab. Paella, saffran rice as Arabian as names of places starting with al. Like ALfaz, fertile land.

Prediction: by 2030 Arabic will again be a lingua franca in that part of Spain, like Basque needing interpretation. One of the tectonic plates moving Spain.  Change; normal in human affairs. But, a crisis?

Depends on how one takes it.  A tremendous enrichment, linking Spain to Arabs, not only to Catholic and Latin communities of nations. Belgium, linked linguistically to the Netherlands, Germany and France, made Brussels a center of Europe.  And Spain?  A center of Eur-Africa.

France penetrated more deeply into Africa, but the other way may matter more. So much Arab-Islam is inside Spain. The Golden Age is embedded in Andalucia in such symbols as a cathedral protruding from a mosque in Córdoba, La Mezquita.  Overpowering, or mosque as fundament?  Neither; in 1984 it was declared by UNESCO part of the world human heritage, owned by humanity, not by the church, Córdoba or Spain.

Spain’s major tourist attraction, 1.5 million annual visitors.

Reaching out, to, say, 1650 million Muslims and 2000 million Catholics, very many in Ibero-America. A center of Eur-Afri-America.

When on March 11 2004 bombs exploded on four commuter trains in Madrid killing over 190 people Muslims, Moroccans, were suspected. Spain promised to get out of Iraq in six months (actually five). “No evidence of any Middle East-related terrorism since–as opposed to France with much interventionism and much terrorism in the name of Islam (Sam Husseini, The Nation 7 Jun2017).

Or, take the decision in Badalona, city no. 3 in Catalonia, not to celebrate 12 October, “El dia de la Hispanidad–the “discovery” of Latin America by Columbus that evening in 1492. No, a day of genocide! (SpaniaPosten Nov. 2016). A remarkable woman is the mayor. New visions.

Podemos was once a force of real change with countless dialogue circles all over Spain, discussing everything. But they changed from a movement to one political party, among several.  The program may be interesting, but unoriginal on foreign affairs. The lighthouse.

Renewal comes from progressive local coalitions led by women, in Barcelona, Madrid, Valencia, Zaragoza (Le Monde  Diplomatique 3-17).

How about the past?  Should not be forgotten, but processed.

Take the inquisition.  Open Valle de los Caídos (“A Valley for all of the fallen”, El País 11 Jun 2011) also for the inquisition victims. Torquemada was worse than Franco. Be honest about the Catholic Church (Ramon T. Sender, Carlos Rex Barcelona: Destino, 1971, pp. 150-57). Fundamentalist not for Father-Son-Holy Spirit-Maria, but Pope-Vatican-Roman church.  A second Roman empire was cast over Spain.

The Catholic Church should renew Christianity, like elsewhere.

Take the Franco era to restore what to Franco was “normal Spain”, with poderes fácticos, landowners-military-clergy. The Second Republic was too quick, but celebrate their strong anti-war pro-peace position.

Take ETA-GAL: violence for Basque independence and to crush it by killing at least 27 1983-87 (SpaniaPosten Jan, Oct 2016). Use symmetry between them for conciliation and shared rejection of violence.

Take the Palomares “incident” in 1966: a US B-52 with four atomic bombs colliding with a tanker, two bombs bursting on impact scattered plutonium. Revealed by the “Red Duchess” (of Medina Sidonia), pointing to Fukushima (El País 10 Jun 2011). Solution: get rid of nuclear energy and of US bombers and bases. Both will happen, sooner or later. Spain is threatened by nobody, what is needed would be defensive defense.

Take Ceuta-Melilla-Gibraltar. A Hong Kong solution: sovereignty back to the owners, let the rest continue more or less as it was.

Take the bullying in schools, increasing, worse in 2016 than up to 2015 (El País 28 Apr 2017). A marvelous occasion to learn about conflict, violence, conciliation, solution and peace; if the teachers also have learnt, starting by telling the bully “what you have done is unacceptable, but why did you do it?” to get inside the bully’s world for understanding. The SABONA method, developed in schools in Norway.

A reflection: read “Spain” in some encyclopedia. Monopolized by geographers and historians covering point for point in space and time, not about social faultlines, deep conflicts, alternatives. Time has come for encyclopedias to change their orientation and do better jobs.

_____________________________________________

Johan Galtung, a professor of peace studies, dr hc mult, is founder of TRANSCEND International and rector of TRANSCEND Peace University. Prof. Galtung has published more than 1500 articles and book chapters, over 470 Editorials for TRANSCEND Media Service, and more than 170 books on peace and related issues, of which more than 40 have been translated to other languages, including 50 Years100 Peace and Conflict Perspectives published by TRANSCEND University Press. More information about Prof. Galtung and all of his publications can be found at transcend.org/galtung.

 

This article originally appeared on Transcend Media Service (TMS) on 14 August 2017.

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6 Responses to “Spain–Where Are You Heading?”

  1. ignasi orobitg gene says:

    I liked to read the article.
    Missing the most current news:the Autonomous Community of Catalonia wants to become independent of the ruinous central administration.

  2. Pablo says:

    Good article with essential parts missing. I like Johan Galtung’s sweepingly broad views, but to often he miss the essential details.

    Agree with ignasi above. Catalonian independence is on the table and is (and has been) one of the strongest drivers in Spain for years. Ignoring this is ignoring newer Spanish history and politics.

    Take: “Prediction: by 2030 Arabic will again be a lingua franca in that part of Spain”. Makes no sense whatsoever. Countless languages are spoken in Andalucia and Arabic is probably the least likely candidate for any general use. Johan Galtung seem to think there is a residual of nostalgia for the Umayyad Caliphate. There is none.

    Take: “When on March 11 2004 bombs exploded on four commuter trains in Madrid killing over 190 people Muslims, Moroccans, were suspected. Spain promised to get out of Iraq in six months (actually five). “No evidence of any Middle East-related terrorism since–as opposed to France with much interventionism and much terrorism in the name of Islam ” Untrue. No _attacks_ has been carried out, but we have seen several attemtps foiled. Pure luck. Islamic terrorism is very much alive, also in Spain.

    Take: “A reflection: read “Spain” in some encyclopedia. Monopolized by geographers and historians covering point for point in space and time, not about social faultlines, deep conflicts, alternatives. Time has come for encyclopedias to change their orientation and do better jobs.” This is a good point, but Johan Galtung is forgetting himself just in the same article: “Take Ceuta-Melilla-Gibraltar. A Hong Kong solution: sovereignty back to the owners, let the rest continue more or less as it was.” Who are “the owners”? Johan Galtung is thinking geography here. Not good enough. Take your own medicine. :)

    Take: “Podemos was once a force of real change with countless dialogue circles all over Spain, discussing everything. But they changed from a movement to one political party, among several. The program may be interesting, but unoriginal on foreign affairs. The lighthouse.” Johan Galtung is here saying the the move from movement to political paerty is to be lamented. The opposite is true. A movement that doesn’t accept the political level playing field, and its place amoung other political parties is much more likely to turn itself into totalitarianism. Stalinism, Maoism, Fidelism, Chavezism are all examples of the latter. Movements that didn’t accept the limitations and pluralism that are required to build a just, stable and peaceful society. Podemos understands this. I’m sad to see that Johan Galtung doesn’t.

    So as always. lots to like, lots to think about in Johan Galtung’s article. And parts that are nonsense. :)

  3. Gary Corseri. says:

    “A little learning is a dangerous thing,” poet Alexander Pope wrote about 3 centuries ago. It seems to me too many Internet readers and critics are guilty of that cherry-picking, overweening pride that takes them to a comprehensive article and compels them to nit-pick about all the things the author said–but shouldn’t have!–, or didn’t say–but should have! Surely, there are better ways to evince one’s own intelligence! Pope’s 2nd line in his splendid poem, “An Essay on Criticism,” is also pertinent here for reviewers and would-be-such: “Drink deep, or taste not the Pierian spring.”

    In his near-87 years–living and working in Europe, North America, Asia; sometimes spending years in one place, developing one “node” of thought, one link to the whirling cosmos of knowledge–Johan has amassed a treasury of theoretical and practical/applicable information. And–mirabile dictu!–he is still planting seeds! His work merits much more than a “scan” or a look-over to mollify the reviewer’s ego that he/she has found “the weak link” in the greater argument. Galtung’s penultimate paragraph here is especially pertinent for these matters:

    “Take the bullying in schools, increasing, worse in 2016 than up to 2015 (El País 28 Apr 2017). A marvelous occasion to learn about conflict, violence, conciliation, solution and peace; if the teachers also have learnt, starting by telling the bully “what you have done is unacceptable, but why did you do it?” to get inside the bully’s world for understanding….”

    “A marvelous occasion to learn” is what Professor G. presents in his essays and overviews. “Why did you do it… to get inside the bully’s head for understanding” is the challenge for us all as old relationships/alliances/orders dissolve and new ones emerge.

    • Pablo says:

      Dear Mr Corseri

      Your point understood and taken, but not without disagreement.

      I learn a lot from Johan Galtung and the sweeping “broadness” of his understanding and world view is almost without peer. “whirling cosmos of knowledge” is about the best description of Prof G as I have ever seen.

      Yet, I do not think that anybody should be beyond criticism, even a “whirling cosmos of knowledge”, when they arre factually or conceptually wrong.

      “Broad-sweeping” as Prof G is unequalled at, is often a tremendous tool but cannot stand alone. Compare it to the body. The broad understanding of how the body works, and what general things you should do to keep healthy and fit are well understood, and adhering to those principles is wise. But misrepresenting, ignoring, or lack of attention to, details will kill you. Literally. “Broad-sweeping” and any amount of “whirling cosmos of knowledge” will not save you, if you fail to notice the gangrene in your leg, ignore the live 440 volt wire at work, catch a tropical disease thru carelessness and so on.

      If you fail to understand the details of yuor subject, even the most broad understanding will suffer. I will contrast Prof G’s article to the 2-piece work from Franklin Lamb below, that may not have the “whirling cosmos of knowledge”, but in its understading and addresseing the details in the Israel-Lebanon-Hiozbollah conumdrum with nuance and balance is in a completely different league than Prof G’s.

      I do not expect every article to be as deep and complex as mr Lanb’s, but if you go into details as Prof G also do in his work, those details need to be accurate.

  4. Gary Corseri. says:

    Thanks for the conversation, Pablo. I agree with you on this:

    “I learn a lot from Johan Galtung and the sweeping “broadness” of his understanding and world view is almost without peer.” And, I agree with you here:

    “Yet, I do not think that anybody should be beyond criticism, even a “whirling cosmos of knowledge”, when they are factually or conceptually wrong.”

    (BTW, I’m also a fan of Franklin Lamb’s work–but that’s a different matter….)

    Our points of divergence hinge on your statement (and implication) here:

    “If you fail to understand the details of your subject, even the most broad understanding will suffer.”

    There is absolutely no indication that I see in JG’s article here, or in his work in general, that he “fails to understand the details.”

    After all, these “overview” pieces that JG provides for the TMS site are not academic theses or scientific tracts–with hosts of details and footnotes! They should be taken as guideposts–not inviolable theories. Johan charts a path, or paths, and other explorers and investigators can save themselves a lot of time and energy by following the chart–but, if new paths emerge along the way–tributaries of thought and concepts–go for it! I imagine JG will cheer on other careful investigators.

    • Pablo says:

      Dear Gary

      First, thanks for your civilized reply. This is by no means a certainty these days on the Net.

      I cannot agree with your point on Prof G’s details. And while it is far too early to ascertain all the facts surrounding the terrible act of terrorism in Spain rigth now, everything points towards an act of Islamic terrorism just as gruesome (if not in size) as the Atocha terror in 2004 Prof G’ consider to be the last one. As I wrote we have had several foiled Islamic terror acts since then, so the base of Prof G’s assestion is simply flawed. As is his correlated prediction (and underlying assumption) that Arabic will emerge as a lingua franca in the region.

      You may contend that these points are to be shrugged of or constitute irrelevant parts to Prof G’s “whirling cosmos of knowledge”, but they clutter his picture and present themselves as Prof G is confusing facts and analysis with “wishful thinking”. I’ll (again) contrast this with Mr Lamb’s writign where he follow the facts regardless of him likes them or not. He doesn’t try to gloss them over with how he think they should be.

      I’ll maintain that Prof G would be a much stronger voice if he could do the same.

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