Last-minute independence supporters

There are arguments that, simply on hearing, set off an alarm in me. It’s like when you hear a dissonant note, one that is deeply out of tune, which for that reason catches your attention even though you don’t want it to, even if you are not paying complete attention to what is being said.

I’m referring to the lack of credibility in arguments or actions that, according to some people, the  "new independence supporters" have. Yes, I know that in the last few weeks there have been many unfortunate things said on Twitter and by opinion makers of various stripes within the political and social circles involved in the Catalan process. Everybody has had their say, and the atmosphere of tension and the dynamics of the negotiation have contributed to many people saying things that were not well thought-out. It’s better not to obsess over many of the things that have been expressed, and to try to look to the future in an intelligent and constructive way.

However, I think the reference to the phrase "Who do these last-minute independence supporters think they are!" deserves some reflection, because it is a dangerous and prejudicial argument for the process itself.

The reason is obvious: when a person joins a club, he or she legitimately aspires to have the same rights as existing members. And if that’s not the case, they should be told before joining so that they could decide what to do. The correct decision would be not to join, because these types of restrictions do not say anything good about those who established them. At the very least they border on classism or sectarianism.

It’s also important to keep in mind that a peaceful and democratic movement such as Catalonia’s bases its success on the capacity to integrate and excite, with a view to the future, a majority of the population. And this makes it necessary to incorporate as many "new independence supporters" as possible. It’s very clear, at least to me, that the attribution of inferior quality of opinion to people who join the process now would make the process of broadening its social base more difficult.

The process must be broad-based and welcoming or it will not be. And a welcoming, integrative movement must necessarily exclude the creation of classes or authentic groups that supposedly have, without further analysis, credibility in their speech or actions. This would be the wrong path to take, and the process would incorporate a dangerously self-destructive seed.

I don’t believe that this is the case, but let’s be careful with the arguments that are used to avoid greater evils.

In this vein, some think that certain people have become pro-independence because it is "in fashion" in certain circles. This voter would be, therefore, potentially volatile and "unreliable".

This may be the case, but I personally don’t think so. I have the impression that the vast majority of citizens that have come to support the process have solidified their position, and will maintain it as long as the national project that is being created represents a true democratic step forward. We must keep in mind that within the new independence supporters there is a large group that, when they were children or teens, lived in a society where to be pro-independence was seen as an extreme position, far from what was considered the sociological center at the time. With all the negative connotations around it that you might want to add. This could create a mental block towards accepting a specific political position, in this case the desire for Catalonia to have its own state.

In these cases I sincerely believe that once the blindfold that blocks and hinders the acceptance of an idea such as a political possibility falls away, there is no going back. When one internally defeats a learned block, the rooting of a new democratic option that has been chosen can be truly strong. There are many of these cases in Catalonia today. Many taboos and many fears have fallen in the past few years in the process of democracy taking root in our country. It is the desire for a better democracy, combined with the feeling of being a country, which drives this process.

Harvard Political Review referred to this driving force on 27 September, talking about the Catalan process: "The very foundation of liberal democracy is the citizenry’s right to abandon a government that fails to serve their interests and construct another, more effective one. There are few better contemporary examples of such a situation than Catalonia’s one-sided economic relationship with the central Spanish government.".

It is essential to align the arguments with the true strength of the process