I recently asked Shaykh Umar Vadillo to write a paper on the Catalonia crisis, this is his astonishing response.

La República Catalana, més que una declaració

“We must be free not because we claim freedom,
but because we practice it.”
William Faulkner

Catalonia is too small to free itself, but big enough to free the world. What was born on the First of October was not the Republic of Catalonia, but the Republic of Spain. The new Catalonia won.

The Republic of Catalonia is a fact. It has happened in the hearts of enough people. And that is what is important. The de jure case of the Republic is not merely a ‘waiting for its time’, but it rests in building what is still missing. What is missing should be the core matter of our reflection.

Shaking off modernity once and for all

History has not come to an end and our future is yet waiting be unveiled. Heidegger’s declaration of ‘philosophy has come to an end’, echoed by Laslett “political philosophy is dead”, are indications of the need of new beginnings. The normative and positivist view of justice, equality, freedom or rights once seen as the force of a new society are fainting at the feet of their own success. They lack the operative capacity to deal with the new issues emerging within XXI century constitutional societies already born in normative freedom. Among these issues I will mention just three that appear relevant to our case: the auto-determination of national minorities, the restricted national sovereignty induced by international financial debt and the structural insecurity and precariousness of salaries and labour.

Perhaps freedom cannot be legislated. Perhaps freedom never was an idea and it is an act, and an act only ‘is’ in its execution’ (Scheler). Freedom needs to free itself from its metaphysical or scientific foundations. A call for a ‘non-foundation freedom’ in Greek’s jargon is: anarco-freedom [‘-an’ (no); ‘-arche’ (foundation)]. This expression may sound baffling to our educated elite, but perfectly coherent for those Catalans who still remember Durruti. We don’t intend to appeal to nostalgia to the strong-willed CNT (which was defeated) but rather we want to signify that anarchism needs to be rediscovered. This new “anti-foundationalism” challenges both the rationalist liberal foundations of the Enlightenment and the modern political theory. This should be relevant to the anarchist Catalonia which has given so much to the world in the past.

Catalonia wants independence and it is not alone. There are independentist movements in Corsica, Scotland, Quebec, Kurdistan, Sulu Sultanate, Euskadi and many more places. But when seen from our present legal standards, it seems that ‘independence–ism’ does not have a viable space. From the perspective of centralized States, the need of certitude in national unity and clear regulatory principles always results in preventive coercion, and a cycle of ‘the more need of certainty the more coercion’. The problem is that when regulation is the horizon of discussion people become invisible, thus, humans become ‘objects’ of Law.

The Enlightenment ‘saw’ our freedom and equality as rights. This idea of rights, presupposes a dialectic opposition between the theorization of society; philosophical concepts and the practical politicization of the theory through a frame of legal rights and political representation. There is a problem in this equation: the individual is a ‘thing’. The problem is that the “I” that belongs to each of us (Dasein) is merely seen as ‘data’ relevant to the theory. The theory is what matters and in this context the existential exercise of freedom and equality is only anecdotal. The radical opposition to this legalistic en-framing (Gestell) is to say: “I am not an idea”, “I refuse to be data”:

The befuddlement of rights then unfolds like this: I am not free because I have a constitution that says I am free. I am free if I can exercise my freedom. I am not an owner because I have a paper that says so; or I am an owner because I can exercise my ownership. I don’t have political will because I have someone who can represent my will; or I have political will only when I represent my will. I don’t buy what I want because the government buys on my behalf, I am free to buy when I buy on my behalf. I am not free to choose what money I want if the government decides for me. And so on.

Notice that we are not simply saying we need to change the laws to vindicate our rights better. We are questioning the validity and relevance of a positivist law based on rights. Not all the positivist laws are bad: the need to have a law to regulate the traffic lights is justified and therefore having red, green and yellow arbitrary codes is useful. The problematic of en-framing is about changing the focus of our attention: from the claim of freedom to the practice of freedom.

Follow the Money

The idea that the population of Spain has the right to impose a tax (through the distributive capacity of the Central State) on the population of Catalonia for whatever virtuous reason, is not virtuous but absurd. Just like it is absurd to suggest that the population of Ghana has the right to demand a tax from the people of Germany. Tax can never mean solidarity. Just like rape never means love. And tax is the heart of most ‘independentist’ movements. Take away the taxes and people will find themselves more at ease. Taxes are needed, but we are in need of thinking taxation beyond the obsolete principle of “no taxation without representation”, into a more comprehensive “no taxation without full and automatic distribution to the people in need”, that is to say, “no taxation (paid) to representation”. Catalonia pays 45 million Euros a day to the central Government of Spain, does this money reaches the needy people of Spain?

Furthermore, does anyone believe that it is an act of love from the Government of Spain to keep Catalonia inside Spain? Clearly, that is not what the Government of Spain have demonstrated in the last few weeks-unless we also believe that USA bombed Iraq out of love for the Iraqi people. Incidentally, USA also appealed to the Law and –ironically– to the human rights of the people of Iraq. When the government of President Rajoy introduced the draconian article 155 of the Spanish constitution, he explained that he did it to ‘preserve the freedom’ of the people of Catalonia.

When the Generalitat and the Government of Spain both vindicate freedom and democracy in the defence of their opposing purposes, it means that freedom and democracy either have too much meaning or too little. The problem is not that they refuse to dialogue. The problem is that they don’t have a common language to support the dialogue. Yet, both parties say they want dialogue, but they cannot because the current language is exhausted, incapable of producing scenarios of understanding. Clearly Spanish nationalism and Catalan nationalism cannot talk. Is nationalism a rational en-framing? Nationalism was popular because it produced profitable results in the past, but in the age of global finance is nationalism exhausted? Can it be overcome with new strategies?

New Start, New Narratives

The First of October is a new beginning. Everything is in construction. Like every new beginning it needs new narratives, which supported by our own identities they allow us to identify new horizons, strategies and opportunities. Our reflection leads to propose a new analysis in which “spiritual values” can overcome modernization with two principal components “traditional versus secular” and “active society versus political representation”. The counter-model that we present is the old Arabic word “asabiyah”, meaning, “social cohesion”. The intention is to explore a way out from the rational trap of our modern societies that present the inevitable lowering of living conditions and structural unemployment as an inescapable reality. Asabiyah is a rebellion against the hocus-pocus of economic determinism sold to us. Asabiyah is a new paradigm of how growth and justice can be obtained in the economy of people, how to design new strategies and grasp new opportunities from the current horizon of inexorable economic crisis cycles. Asabiyah cannot be separated from the people.

To travel away and beyond the modern en-framing of rational ideas and structures, we propose six words. These six words will explore social cohesion (asabiyah) within the horizon of communalism, group conscious and solidarity:

  1. Creença (belief)
  2. Iniciació (initiation)
  3. Consciència de grup (membership)
  4. Cura (care)
  5. Mercats (markets)
  6. Exportació (export)
1. Belief in the Republic

Paraphrasing FC Barcelona, “Més que un club”, La República catalana must become “Més que una república”. When you believe, everything you witness reinforces that belief. It is intrinsic to our human nature to be capable of ‘transforming the experience’ of almost any activity. To transform the experience of the Republic the leaders must appeal to the heart. Mes que una republica must mean, more than an idea. That next domain is where ‘action and believe’ stand as a single unit. You are what you do, not what you think you are. The republic is what the republic does. If you cheat me, don’t give me rights. Nothing is more repulsive than to be told about your rights by the one who cheats you.

There is no republic without public virtue. Virtue is the connection of people’s actions with their deepest values. Only virtuous leaders can speak of virtue by their actions. A Republican Catechism should be written listing actions not rights which entail the devolution of the economy to the people. This is what the CUP and others in Catalonia call ‘democratic economy’, but with a true anarchist stand, meaning: Justice is not to tax in order to compensate the disparities caused by the malfunctioning of the market, but rather to eliminate the malfunctions of the market. Tax is to support directly those who cannot virtuously participate in a functional market for whatever reason. Economic democracy in the Republic is ‘més que una república’.

Belief is not a rational affair; just like you loving your mother is not a rational affair. That does not mean that belief is “irrational”. Not being rational simply means that it is ‘more than rational’. Beyond rational is the zone of the heart (not the fictional unconscious). The heart has cognitive power on account of two dynamics that dominate reason: love and fear. Both love and fear bring to presence. Love does it by ‘being attracted to’, and fear by ‘being rejected from’. The heart is not an observer but a being-observed. The heart has vision which expands and contracts as the heart expands and contracts. The purpose of knowledge is to be able to manage the heart instead of being managed by the heart, which is another way of saying, managing the power of the heart. You are not virtuous because you tell yourself you are (you are the measurer), but because you know that you are being measured. The reality measures you, not your head. Reality tells if you are virtuous.

When Durruti was organizing his celebrated Durruti Column to fight Franco in Aragon, knowing that his militias will have to face death, said:

“En la lucha no se puede comportar como un soldado que le mandan, sino como un hombre consciente que conoce la trascendencia de su acto. Ya sé que obtener esto no es fácil, pero también sé que lo que no se obtiene por el razonamiento no se obtiene tampoco por la fuerza. Si nuestro aparato militar de la revolución tiene que sostenerse por el miedo, ocurrirá que no habremos cambiado nada, salvo el color del miedo. Es solamente liberándose del miedo que la sociedad podrá edificarse en la libertad”

We will just highlight the last sentence: “It is only by liberating ourselves from fear that our society will be able to be built in freedom”. Durruti also said:

“El arma más potente de la revolución es el entusiasmo. En la revolución se triunfa cuando todo el mundo está interesado en la victoria, haciendo de ella cada uno su causa personal. La respuesta a mi llamada -les dijo a los que mostraron su sorpresa-nos dará la medida del interés que pone la ciudad de Barcelona en la revolución y su victoria. Además, esto es una manera de situar a cada uno frente a su propia responsabilidad, una ocasión para que todo el mundo tome conciencia de que nuestra lucha es colectiva y que su triunfo depende del esfuerzo de todos. Este y no otro es el sentido de nuestra llamada”.

Now we will only highlight the first sentence: “The most powerful weapon of the revolution is enthusiasm”.

Without getting lost into the immensity of his words, I will simply say that fear and enthusiasm are not matters of reason. You cannot rationalize fear, but fear will totally dominate your reason. The same applies to enthusiasm. Both hope and fear are matters of the heart. Belief is built in the heart, not in the head. Belief generates motivation.

2. Initiation in the Republic

Motivation is not enough if the people do not have resources to defend and promote the case of the Republic. The leaders must educate the people and the highest way of education is initiation. The purpose of initiation is not to indoctrinate students but to create masters. Masters initiate people who will initiate others. Initiation is not merely to pass ideas from one to other, but to pass the condition (the state of knowledge one holds) from one to another. It is not mere about oratory, or learning arguments, but to become a republican. Initiation means transmission face to face. There is a difference between learning from a book and learning from another person. Only the eyes transmit knowledge, the books only transmit information.

Initiation establishes a link between people, a root to knowledge. It extends to all types of knowledge from the highest to the lowest. A society that learns how to initiate it is a sound society. The guilds are the historical expression of all pre-capitalist societies and they are the archetype of traditional initiation. Being pre-capitalist does not mean that they are obsolete (as they made us believe).

The guilds are the expression of all the world civilizations from Beijing to Athens to Istanbul to pre-capitalist Barcelona. We know of guilds from the beginning of civilization. Guilds did not die of natural causes, guilds were murdered by the capitalist State through legislation which promoted the banks. This anti-guild legislation is still the core of modernist constitutionalism.

Kropotkin, brought to center stage the revolutionary importance of the guilds in his Mutual Aid and opened anarchism to one of its most fruitful doctrinal developments that inspired guild socialism, and even fascism. The society without proletariat, the society of solidarity, of mutual aid, of natural spirituality is the guild society. The model of one owner and 10,000 employees is replaced by 10,001 guild members. The guilds are like cooperatives with two major differences: the in-house autonomy of the workshops and their legal status as public institutions. Autonomy had positive consequences on efficiency and innovation by promoting competition while sharing the major means of production. Its public status created a culture of inclusiveness and universal acceptance, making the “domain of production” an integral part of society and not the exclusive affair of its members.

The Republic of initiation is a republic of education, solidarity and gremis.

3. Membership in the Republic

To create sense of membership the leaders must line up the behaviours of the group. To line up behaviours it is necessary to define routines, old and new, big and small, as identities of the members. How do you greet each other, to how do you eat in company, to how do you address the elders, how and when do you gather in groups, even how you dress with distinction in special occasions. The sans-culottes fashioned the use of long trousers, the carmagnole (short skirted coat), the red Phrygian cap (the liberty cap) and the sabots (a type of wooden shoe) among all revolutionaries. We cannot recall the French revolution without remembering the tricolour concord. Symbols are important to create a sense of belonging.

This implies a relationship that is greater than simple acquaintance or familiarity. A sense of belonging cultivates positive feelings and outcomes in our lives. It has a positive impact on many other levels: intellectual, social skills, mental health, physical health, and motivation. People who feel more of a sense of belonging report less depressive symptoms and significantly fewer behaviour problems than those who see group membership as very important, but do not have a positive sense of group belonging.

Art is the heart of ‘the culture of belonging’. When two nights before the Referendum, the Spanish press was shouting ‘traitors’ and ‘renegades’ to the Catalans, the Catalans were singing Els Segadors in the Plaza de la Catedral. That pell de gallina day was an Event (Ereignis) and that day Els Segadors was ‘mes que una cançó’. That was the moment when Catalonia won. When art is not a business, nor an instrument of an ideology, but has no aim apart from being art, then it becomes an Event that alters the meaning of everything relative to human life. Wagner explained it in “Art and Revolution”:

Or else it was, that Art entered on the service of one or other of those abstract ideas or even conventions which, now lighter and now more heavily, weighed down a suffering humanity and cast in fetters the freedom both of individuals and communities. But never more was she the free expression of a free community. Yet true Art is highest freedom, and only the highest freedom can bring her forth from out itself; no commandment, no ordinance, in short, no aim apart from Art, can call her to arise.

When art is the expression of the people, it encompasses all aspects of life, including politics, production, commerce, architecture, fashion, agriculture, cooking, and even marriage. Politics cannot create art. Rather art is politics. In the integral union of true art with people, belonging becomes common destiny: the hearts come closer.

Among all the symbols that create membership nothing stands higher than currency. The creation of a real republican coin, made of gold or silver, can be introduced even before gaining independence. This is because all it is required to create alternative money is a willing membership who wants to accept the coins. Also, because they are based on real commodities their value is preserved irrespective of the number of users. The republican coin can be named after the dinero or mancuso minted by the Count Ramon Borrell (992-1015) based on the dinero (denarius) of Carlomagne minted in Barcinona, Inpurias and Rodda by his successor Luis, the Pious (814-840) after he conquered Barcelona in 801. Whatever the name what matters is the symbol. Making a Republic coin is liberating art.

4. Care in the Republic

There is no membership without care of its members: “all for one, one for all”. This is to prefer the other over me. To care about the need of the other is the condition that indicates the maturity of society. Before this is realised, society remains infantile. Care is not a right provided by institutions. Care is a voice inside us that connect us to the needs of those dependent or vulnerable or those who are different than us. Care is an attitude to life. It is nobility. The Republic must be the republic of care.

Care is not a deontological or utilitarian ethics, nor is it a religious duty, but the art of living. It is an art because it originates from selflessness, and it is living because its horizon is the undying affair of breathing in the world. The expression of care is not hospitals and orphanages which are important, but to feel the people with our heart. The heart does not judge, but it is being judged. The heart does not measure, but it contemplates with perplexity, like one is mesmerized by a painting of Velazquez in a museum. In this moment of contemplation, the heart opens to the unknown, to the non-manifested. A trained heart is one who knows the art of bringing the non-manifested into manifestation. If you consider that the greatest piece of art is the human being, you will never stop at the sensory forms when you interact with other human being. You will hold your judgement, you will empathise, and if you are really virtuous, you will wonder into his vast unmanifested being. Empathy creates attraction. Mutual attraction is the building stone of a community. Care is its result.

When the independentist person cares, he ceases to claim independence and becomes a gatherer of people, a community-­former, one who creates community. He ceases to be independentist and becomes independent in himself, in every act he does, every breath he takes. To you who wants independence, the españolista who fears the independence of Catalonia is not your enemy because the españolista cannot not challenge you. If he does you have not found yourself. If you are free from yourself, you will find you are free from him, and then, … you can care for him. If you do, if you listen him, if you open your heart to him, inevitably he will be attracted you.

Care is not the affair of the mind, but the affair of the heart. Caring makes a republic which cares.

5. Markets in the Republic

Nothing can change if there is no change in the every-day structures of society. We often focus on the things that are wrong, but less effort is given into what is right. I am profoundly anti-capitalist, but I know that anti-capitalism is only the logo of a philosophy of defeat. The CUP is the party in Catalonia which most vigorously and clearly expresses its anti-capitalism. But the focus must be in the part of their program that states:

l’establiment de mecanismes de control popular de l’economia i el desplegament de polítiques efectives que garanteixin l’equitat i la igualtat d’oportunitats.

The public market is the structural expression of the popular control of the economy and the effective guarantee for the equity and equality of opportunities. The public market means a public market place owned by the people, free of charge, free from reservations or restrictions, where everyone can sell or buy. A public market is not we call mercat public in Barcelona today, that is, a little mall for a few privileged local traders, but a place big enough and always growing, to guarantee the opportunity to trade to all who wishes to. Barcelona was a city of public markets, but not today. It means that in order to guarantee the virtue of pure competition, the public market must always free space available. Being public means, the market place cannot be privatised.

Public markets are as old as society itself. They are found in every civilization across the world: the forum of the Rome, the agora of the Greece, or the suqs of Al-Andalus. This model is the extreme opposite of the supermarket or the hypermarkets (Alcampo, Carrefour, etc), where one owner controls all trading. The restoration of the public market place is the most important condition for economic democracy. Once we free the market, we can free distribution with the restoration of open distribution networks or caravans, and the restoration of the open production model of the guilds.

Proudhon wrote in his General Idea of the Revolution:

I believe in free trade, even without reciprocity, as a consequence of the abolition of interest, not otherwise.

Free trade (with reciprocity, meaning we tax those who tax us) and the abolition of interest, these are the foundational tenants of anarchism. What separates anarchism from liberal socialism is that the later have abolished trade in favour of monopolies (supermarkets) and they have embraced interest (usury). There is no free trade without free markets and there is no greater injury to society than the practice of usury, even more in its modern form of fractional reserve banking.

It is important to understand the difference between free market as understood in the capitalist culture and what a free market really is in traditional culture. Ironically the traditional free market or the public market is completely abolished in the so-called free trade capitalism. The public market stands as the foundation of a free society. The public market when opened to the world is an institution capable of eliminating unemployment forever. The public market gives business opportunity to anyone who wishes with the minimum requirements and no fees whatsoever.

There is not Public market without its alhondiga. The alhondiga is a prodigious Iberian institution, a part of the market reserved for foreign traders. Thanks to the alhondiga, the public market is not only accessible to the local traders but to the whole world. This institution also known as caravanserai in Asia or funduq in Arabia, was the key to the success of the Trading Routes. The importance of caravanserais and trading routes are now being reconsidered in Asia because of the adverse impact of global corporation monopolies threatening the independence and diversity of world trade. China is now building a new 1-trillion dollars Silk Route from Beijing all the way to Spain, and hopefully through Barcelona.

6. Exporting the Republic

The effort of the Republic cannot end in Catalonia, but it must reach all of Spain. Exporting the revolution means to export our belief, initiation, membership, care and markets. Spain needs it as much as Catalonia. A republic of Spain is the republic of Catalonia expanded. It is not less for Catalonia, it is more.

In order to do that, it is important to communicate with the people of influence and natural leaders of Spanish society and in the most open and honest manner present the objectives and mission of our cause. Equally important is to reach to the people of Spain starting with a creation of a network of Public Markets in Spain: the peaceful republican colonization of Spain through trading. Against us will be only the supermarkets, with us will be the masses waiting for jobs that the present system cannot provide. Madrid will be a good place to start: The Open Market of Barcelona twined with the Open Market of Madrid, with caravans moving back and forth, allowing producers and traders from both cities to reach the alhondiga of each other’s public market.

What if the Republic of Catalonia can offer jobs to the jobless Spaniards? We can gain the Spaniards with wisdom and care: Initiate them in our beliefs and share with them into our Republican asabiyah. Send help directly to those in need, but more important send people who can care. And then more markets, more jobs, more caravans. How long all this takes before we can see a Spanish Republic is not important, because the process is the Republic.

The Republican dinero can spread throughout Europe by offering a gold digital payment system as an alternative to the present dwindling fiat currencies which are tied to the certain failure of the US dollar. The recent launching of the Chinese Yuan convertible to gold opens a door for the restoration real money in a post dollar world in which Catalonia could play a significant role with his Republican dinero along with China and Russia. Republican dinero will extend new perspectives of freedom and economic democracy that people are not aware.

Final Remarks

The motto of the Catholic Kings was “tanto monta, monta tanto”. It means “Isabella and Fernando amount to the same”. The Spanish Unity was built upon equality and cooperation rather than domination of one part over the other. Spaniards are not unaware of our internal differences. A recent poll showed that 57% of Spaniards agree to allow a vote on self-determination in Catalonia, in the fashion of Scotland and Quebec. The path to bring the matter of self-determination to a successful resolution within the Spanish Parliament is not excessively hard. A reform of the Spanish constitution is agreeable by most of the national parties led by Podemos and PSOE, but also PP and Ciudadanos. There is a way.

Catalonia has shown on the past first of October their resolution to change their relationship with Spain. The weak government of Rajoy had to resort to the force of the Law in order to control the situation, but only momentarily. The new election in Catalonia planned for the 21 of December is not a loss for the independentism but an opportunity to reposition their strategy. If JxSi (CDC, ERC, DC and MES) and CUP joint in a single republican coalition they will most probably obtain majority again in the Generalitat. Then a new Hoja de Ruta should be designed. Here are some suggestions to consider.

Three possible horizons:

  1. A Republic in Catalonia de facto (do not wait for de jure). De facto means the Generalitat has the people, while Spain can only hope to control de information of people. The Generalitat has education and TV3, enough to trigger all the changes. With the leadership of the Generalitat, people can create a new currency, people can abandon the banks and create their own safekeeping and payments institutions, people can create their own markets, people can control their own economy.
  2. Iberian Republic Federation of Independent States: Navarre (including Euskadi), Catalonia, Portugal and Spain. To include Portugal means to bypass Spanish nationalism in favour of a plus rather than a less.
  3. Second Latin Monetary Union (abandoning Euro): Iberia, France, Italy, (possibly Belgium, Switzerland and Greece). It was successful once, it can be again. But this time we know what we did not understand before: no fixed exchange between gold and silver, and no fractional reserve banking.

Three simultaneous political fronts:

  1. Reform of the Spanish Constitution
    1. Referendum for a Spanish Republic Federation of Independent States
    2. Introduction of the right of self-determination for Catalonia and Basque Country.
    3. Inclusion of Portugal in a possible Iberian Federation.
  2. Building asabiyah at home
    1. Belief, Initiation, Membership and Care
    2. Markets and dinero in every town
  3. Building a Republic spirit in Spain
    1. Network of 25 public markets throughout Spain. Objective: 1,000,000 new jobs.
    2. Iberian Trading Routes with alternative Republican dinero.
    3. Join the Silk Route Initiative.

Catalonia cannot obtain power from Spain, but from itself. The strength of the Republic is the Republic itself. Spain is only a mirror in which we see ourselves. Spain is whatever we want it to be. If in our hearts there is fear we will see a fearsome Spain. If in our hearts there is hope we will as a hopeful Spain. There is a fundamental difference between what the Government of Spain is and who are the people of Spain. The people of Spain are mothers, brothers, nieces, uncles, business partners, neighbours, clients, friends, comrades, etc. to many Catalans. They are in need of freedom as much as those in Catalonia.

I believe what was born on the First of October was the Republic of Spain. This must be seen as the horizon for a new agenda: an agenda that the people of Spain cannot refuse, an agenda that celebrates people over structures, and an agenda that is always growing.


V: Would you… dance with me?
Evey Hammond: Now? On the eve of your revolution?
V: A revolution without dancing is a revolution not worth having!
V for Vendetta

“Yesterday I was clever, so I wanted to change the world.
Today I am wise, so I am changing myself.”