There is a judgment which the Supreme Court handed down on the respect owed to the Catalan language which quite literally left me dumbfounded when I read it.
|The act in question entails a “…risk to the internal solidarity of the Spanish people…
…when ideas are aired which are demeaning to a distinguished vernacular language, even though spoken by a minority, the free private and social use of which is respected and guaranteed by the Spanish State,
in that the grievance expected to result from said text may kindle sources of rancour which have now, happily, been overcome and
hurt genuine collective sentiments in the region affected, which are not incompatible with basic, healthy, national patriotism,
thereby breeding interregional discord and inciting, albeit covertly, contempt within Spanish coexistence,
all of which results in injury to the higher interests of the Nation.
… leading to a sentence of 8 months imprisonment and a fine of 10,000 pesetas for illegal propaganda.” (1)
Yes, you did read that right, pesetas!
Because the Supreme Court was upholding a judgment passed by the Court of Public Order (a Francoist court!!) in 1969 against the editor of the weekly magazine Destino for publishing a letter denigrating the Catalan language.
Here is a translation of the letter itself:
|Barcelona, 18th of October 1967
“Catalan is finished…
Dear editor of Destino,
I read the letter by Mr F. Vernis published in your excellent magazine.
I think you will grant me the right to reply, because I feel that the subject of his letter concerns me. I am the father of three children, all of whom attend municipal schools, and I am one of the parents who have not accepted that our children be taught Catalan. As parents, we owe our children a distinctively cultural heritage. I do not think that learning the Catalan dialect is culture. I congratulate myself and the 40 percent of parents who refuse to consent to their children learning Catalan.
I am Catalan and I think it is a mistake to continue to speak our dialect. We must accept the facts: in Barcelona more and more Catalans are speaking Spanish and making our children speak the language of Cervantes. At home, we have spoken Spanish for some time and my children are punished if they speak a word in Catalan. Likewise our friends, many of whom have followed the same path and others who speak Catalan, speak Spanish with us.
We must accept that we are , first and foremost, Spaniards. Spain is one, with Madrid at its head. Therefore, I applaud the idea that Lérida might join Aragón and think it very fitting that the name of Catalonia be changed to that of Northeast Region. I am delighted to see that Catalan is finished. I give it about another five years. Instead of studying Catalan, perfecting a command of Spanish will do more good.” (2)
The ruling irrefutably demonstrates the standpoint of the highest legal body in the land regarding Spain’s vernacular languages during the dictatorship.
As chance would have it, the second paragraph of the reader’s letter also describes the extent to which Catalan was taught at the time.
IDEOLOGY CONSISTS OF IGNORING FACTS WHICH DO NOT SERVE ITS TAKE ON HISTORY
The most representative pro-independence political and intellectual forces argue that Catalan has been the victim of “persecution and prohibition”, not to mention “cultural genocide” (3).
No historian other than a staunch supporter of independence would ever use the term genocide in such a context.
No historian, that is to say, other than one whose true vocation is political.
To rely on such an unquestionable, unitary vision of history, in which persistent malevolence towards the Catalan people -passed down from Spanish ruler to Spanish ruler without fail for three hundred years- explains everything, is to rely on a fallacy.
And to ignore the changing interests and diversity of interests of the Spanish people over the centuries is to display a form of intellectual dishonesty.
Deceptive, unilateral interpretations of history of this kind are only worthy of politicians and advocating ideologs with their own interests at heart.
Never that of a sceptical historian aware that inquiry, unlike creeds, knows no eternal truths.
Scholars would be more exact: to prohibit and to prosecute are not the same as to ban official and limit public use.
A scholar would also provide national and, particularly, international context.
Out of honesty and respect, a scholar would also avoid using terms so readily associated with the kind of bloodshed witnessed in Nazi Germany or Rwanda.
But of course, an author doing this cannot stir such a degree of revulsion, or contribute to the cause.
Now lets state some facts. The dictatorship debased us all.
It seized power in the cruellest possible way. It brutally curtailed our freedoms. fiercely curbed our civil right to participation and swiftly dispelled any notion of popular control over government.
It negatively affected our moral development and, on top of a costly war, also held back our economic development in the first two decades after the civil war.
Not only did it severely skew our moral compass for some time but also compounded the economic hardship which followed a costly war by direly mishandling the economy for at least two decades.
It zealously stifled all political expression contrary to Spanish nationalism and in favour of the other types of nationalism Spain is home to, and did not promote the use of other Spanish languages.
But, as this sentence from the Supreme Court proves, it did not, through its legal and, therefore, state action, persecute any of our languages, let alone commit cultural genocide.
But then again, we should not expect absolutely anything from nationalist historians.
Like creationists discussing the evolution of life, they are never going to acknowledge anything which does not confirm their indubitable, irrefutable and (suspiciously) causally hyperperfect worldview.
As if the social sciences were like physics or chemistry, whose laws apply throughout the universe regardless of the point in time!
Here is just one of many shameful examples:
The photograph above shows the programme of an “academic symposium” run by an institution attached to the Office of the Presidency of the secessionist government devoted, according to the director, to the historical study of the “animosity” against and “plunder” of Catalonia (4).
They don’t even word the proposition as a working hypothesis with a question mark at the end!
Why bother, if they know the answer before they even address the issue?
They state the conclusion and then find people to uphold it. I don’t understand why this has never occurred to other researchers!
If only Ramon y Cajal, the Spanish neuroanatomist and Nobel laureate (5), had known!
How much further he would have got and how many hours on the microscope he could have spared himself!
THEY’RE DUPING US, BUT NOT IN THE WAY YOU MAY THINK!
But don’t be fooled, these historians are anything but ignorant, let alone naive.
They are not trying to pull the wool over our eyes with their fictional story.
They are by no means incompetent or unaware of how societies or, indeed, their own profession works.
Quite the contrary, they specialise in studying historical changes and, moreover, many of them are well established in their field.
Nevertheless, just like professional athletes (or politicians), they cheat every which way they can.
Because they are perfectly aware that winning is what matters at the end of the day.
Come what may, success justifies everything.
How many drugs do you think that famous bodybuilder, later Governor of California, has taken in his life? How many French citizens have you heard condemn the infinitely cruel and unnecessary revolution which gave way to the Republic?
Historians know this better than anyone.
And they also know that historical change comes with the arrival of a new idea: a social truth.
That is to say a truth in the minds of certain people, like the Lutheran Reformation was in its day, for instance, or like the alleged cultural genocide of Catalonia.
Whether it is actually true or not is of little consequence.
Because what most of these social truths really reflect is a change in the structures of power. Be careful! A top-down, not a bottom-up change.
In the two examples cited above, what we have are an attempt to bring an end to the power of Rome as the sole source of legitimacy for the Monarchs of Europe and an attempt to undermine the sovereignty of the Spanish government in Catalan affairs.
Once created, these social truths take on lives of their own. Because more than individuals, we are, above all, social animals and we draw on the knowledge that society provides us with in order to survive.
We need truths as much as food
Merely by existing in more than one person, all truths, even when they fly in the face of the evidence, have the power, and rather a considerable power, to convince and survive.
They have lives of their own, which go on regardless of reality, as occurs with homeopathy or the laying-on of hands in medicine.
Our ideas come almost entirely from the social truth we live in. In general, and in this case quite specifically, magnified and imposed by the structures of power.
People born in Tunisia are Tunisian and Muslims. It’s not a question of faith; there is simply no other option. There are sure to be some Muslims who convert to another religion, but they will always be a minority.
In the case at hand, the question is whether pro-independence -using truths, half-truths and plenty of untruths- will ever become an objective reality: the Catalan Republic.
Time will tell; it is impossible to predict, one way or the other.
Because social truths need one more thing before they can leave the realm of the imagination and become objective truths: some kind of correlation with reality.
As the pragmatic Obama reminded Trump, the master of social truth, at their first official meeting: “reality has a way of biting back” (6).
ORIGINAL JUDGMENT, ARTICLES AND REFERENCES:
1. Spanish Supreme Court. Tribunal Supremo. Criminal Division. 21/03/1969. Appeal. Judgment. STS 2732/1969 Press here to access the full sentence
2. Destino 29 October 1967, no 1577. Letters to the Director.
3. Ferrer i Gironés. 2002. La persecució de la llengua durant el franquisme. Escola catalana. Barcelona, 2002, n. 394, noviembre ; p. 9-11.
The author, a business graduate and professional politician from 1977 to 2003 publishes a paper, without any shame or remorse, in an educational journal sponsored by the Catalan Government, calling himself a “historian”.
Excerpts from the first paragraph:
“There is no room for doubt that the main aim of General Franco’s military uprising was to destroy the Catalan people.
This process of annihilation was put into practice by obliterating the political institutions which made Catalonia unique on the one hand and by devastating its culture and doing away with its language on the other.
Catalanophobia was ultimately the common denominator and cornerstone which politically united and militarily cohered all the doctrinal factions which made up Francoism.
This ideological conglomerate was categorical when it came to planning the cultural genocide of Catalonia”.
4. La Vanguardia, 9 December 2013. http://www.lavanguardia.com/politica/20131209/54395328114/director-defiende-el-rigor-cientifico-del-simposio-espana-contra-cataluna.html
5. de Castro F, Merchán MA. 2016. Editorial: The Major Discoveries of Cajal and His
Disciples: Consolidated Milestones for the Neuroscience of the XXIst Century.
Front Neuroanatomy 13;10:85. Full text available here: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/?term=PMC5062747
And a beautiful press report: The New York Times. JoAnna Klein. Hunched Over a Microscope, He Sketched the Secrets of How the Brain Works. https://www.nytimes.com/2017/02/17/science/santiago-ramon-y-cajal-beautiful-brain.html
6. ferrBBC, 18 January 2017. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/av/world-us-canada-38671714/obama-s-advice-to-trump-reality-has-a-way-of-biting-back
Not convinced yet?
Then read this:
Catalan in the University
Since 1944, it has been mandatory for universities offering Romance Languages to include Catalan as a subject.
According to La Vanguardia, the main Catalan newspaper, a decree signed by Franco on July 7, 1944, ordering that Catalan should be thought three hours a week at the University of Granada, Andalusia.
The heading is somewhat malicious: “Despite Franco, Catalan at university”
But how come “despite the dictator” if the decree, as the newspaper informs in the first paragraph, was signed none other than the dictator himself?
List of literary prizes awarded to Catalan writers and books during the Franco era:
Prize Lletra d’Or
◦ 1956 Salvador Espriu, for Final del laberint.
◦ 1957 Josep Pla, for Barcelona.
◦ 1958 Josep Carner, for Absència.
◦ 1959 Ramon d’Abadal, for Els primers comtes catalans.
◦ 1960 Clementina Arderiu, for És a dir.
◦ 1961 Josep Vicenç Foix, for Onze Nadals i un Cap d’Any.
◦ 1962 Joan Oliver (Pere Quart), for Vacances pagades.
◦ 1963 Joan Fuster, for Nosaltres els valencians.
◦ 1964 Josep Benet, for Maragall i la Setmana Tràgica.
◦ 1965 Jordi Rubió, for La cultura catalana, del Renaixement a la Decadència.
◦ 1966 Manuel de Pedrolo, for Cendra per Martina.
◦ 1967 Gabriel Ferrater, for Teoria dels cossos.
◦ 1968 Marià Manent, for Com un núvol lleuger.
◦ 1969 Xavier Rubert de Ventós, for Teoria de la sensibilitat.
◦ 1970 Joan Teixidor, for Quan tot es trenca.
◦ 1971 Alexandre Cirici, for L’art català contemporani.
◦ 1972 Joan Coromines, for Lleures i converses d’un filòleg.
◦ 1973 Maurici Serrahima, for Del passat quan era present.
◦ 1974 Joan Vinyoli, for I encara les paraules.
◦ 1975 Vicent Andrés Estellés, for Les pedres de l’àmfora.
Prize Mercè Rodoreda children’s literature
◦ 1953 Jordi Sarsanedas, for Mites.
◦ 1954 Pere Calders, for Cròniques de la veritat oculta.
◦ 1955 Lluís Ferran de Pol, for La ciutat i el tròpic.
◦ 1956 Manuel de Pedrolo, for Crèdits humans.
◦ 1957 Mercè Rodoreda, for Vint-i-dos contes.
◦ 1958 Josep Maria Espinàs, for Varietés.
◦ 1959 Josep A. Boixaderas, for Perquè no.
◦ 1960 Ramon Folch i Camarasa, for Sala d’espera.
◦ 1961 Estanislau Torres, for La Xera.
◦ 1962 Jordi Maluquer, for Pollen.
◦ 1963 Carles Macià, for La nostra terra de cada dia.
◦ 1964 Joaquim Carbó, for Solucions provisionals.
◦ 1965 Víctor Mora, for El cafè dels homes tristos.
◦ 1966 Guillem Viladot, for La gent i el vent.
◦ 1967 Terenci Moix, for La torre dels vicis capitals.
◦ 1968 Jaume Vidal Alcover, for Les quatre llunes.
◦ 1969 Robert Saladrigas, for Boires.
◦ 1970 Montserrat Roig, for Molta roba i poc sabó.
◦ 1971 Gabriel Janer Manila, for El cementiri de les roses.
◦ 1972 Josep Albanell, for Les parets de l’insomni.
◦ 1973 Jaume Cabré, for Atrafegada calor.
◦ 1974 Beatriu Civera, for Vides alienes.
◦ 1975 Xavier Romeu, for La mort en punt.
Prize Joaquim Ruyra juvenile fiction
◦ 1963 Josep Vallverdú, for L’abisme de Pyramos.
◦ 1964 Carles Macià, for Un paracaigudista sobre la Vall Ferrera.
◦ 1965 Not awarded
◦ 1966 Robert Saladrigas, for Entre juliol i setembre.
◦ 1967 Emili Teixidor, for Les rates malaltes.
Prize Josep Pla
◦ 1968 Terenci Moix, for Onades sobre una roca deserta.
◦ 1969 Baltasar Porcel, for Difunts sota els ametllers en flor.
◦ 1970 Teresa Pàmies, for El testament de Praga.
◦ 1971 Gabriel Janer, for Els alicorns.
◦ 1972 Alexandre Cirici, for El temps barrat.
◦ 1973 Llorenç Villalonga, for Andrea Victrix.
◦ 1974 Marià Manent, for El vel de Maia.
◦ 1975 Enric Jardí, for Historia del cercle artistic de Sant Lluc.
Prize Prudenci Bertrana
◦ 1968 Manuel de Pedrolo, for Estat d’excepció.
◦ 1969 Avel•lí Artís-Gener, for Prohibida l’evasió.
◦ 1970 Vicenç Riera Llorca, for Amb permís de l’enterramorts.
◦ 1971 Terenci Moix, for Siro o la increada consciència de la raça.
◦ 1972 Oriol Pi de Cabanyes, for Oferiu flors als rebels que fracassaren.
◦ 1973 Biel Mesquida, for L’adolescent de sal.
◦ 1974 Desierto.
◦ 1975 Baltasar Porcel, for Cavalls cap a la fosca.
Prize of Honor of the Catalan literature (Premio de Honor de las Letras Catalanas)
◦ 1969 Jordi Rubió i Balaguer
◦ 1970 Joan Oliver
◦ 1971 Francesc de Borja Moll i Casasnovas
◦ 1972 Salvador Espriu i Castelló
◦ 1973 Josep Vicenç Foix
◦ 1974 Manuel Sanchis i Guarner
◦ 1975 Joan Fuster i Ortells
Source: Diario Ya, 24/10/2017. El falso bulo de la prohibición del catalán durante el franquismo (The ban on Catalan under Franco). http://www.diarioya.es/content/el-falso-bulo-de-la-prohibición-del-catalán-durante-el-franquismo
Some performers of popular music in Catalan during the Franco era:
Joan Manuel Serrat
Joan Ramon Bonet
Maria Amèlia Pedrerol
Maria del Mar Bonet
Quico Pi de la Serra
Still in doubt?
Commemorative plaque in Mollerussa, Lerida, 1964.
In Catalan, and with the first name of Franco in Catalan: “Francesc” instead of “Francisco”.