Sunday, 30 November 2014

The Catalonian Issue

I think that it's important that before I start this post I give a bit of background about myself (something that I've quite avoided over these years posting). I have (and this has been so for many years) a deep respect for the right of people's to self determination, to decide whether they want to be part of another country or be a country on its own (whether this means breaking away or joining). In the past we could say that I was a left wing Asturian nationalist that for years tried to harmonize left-wing and internationalism with the idea of nationalism. I've always said that nationalism does not have to involve that your nation is better, that your nation is closed to newcomers or that new borders are to be erected... but though this is possible, it's not easy... For years I defended that both worlds (left-wing and nationalism) were compatible, though I think in that case it would be better to talk about sovereign movements and/or anticolonialist movements. The moment the flag of your nation starts to be omnnipresent in acts and propaganda is when an alarm should be triggered, cause you're moving in the wrong direction, the next step ends up being that your nation is better, and after that horror comes...

Overtime my perception of myself and what surrounds me has quite evolved. I still have a special feeling for the land where I was born and where I've lived most of my life, I still consider it different from the rest of Spain, its different natural set up has given place to a different history and culture, but the concept of nation has turned quite blurred to me. In part it's cause I no longer want to be part of a particular nation, in part it's cause it scares me. It's more and more difficoult to me to reconcile the idea of nation with open borders and multiculturalism, understanding this as a real mix of cultures taking the good parts of each one, not as a less evolved culture invading and destroying a more advanced one. I'm not thinking only about fundamentalist Islam, but also about homophobic, racist, prone to violence (in particular towards women) human groups. I'm less and less interested in "defending the cultural legacy of my ancestors, bla, bla, bla..." and more and more interested in defending the right of people to prosper in and contribute to whatever society they choose, rather than the one where they were lucky or unlucky to be born. In the end our biology is moving in that direction. Our far ancestors were dark skin nomads, then they settled and their skin changed to adapt to that specific place conditions, and now we're all nomads again, searching the place to be happy for a few days, a few years or a life time. As people mix skin color moves to different scales of shades of grey, as an act of natural wisdom as an "umbral" skin color is no longer the wisest evolutionary choice for a creature that moves around the world and which descendants can end up in whatever corner of this planet.

Well, as usual I'm moving this write up to a different dimension of the initially intended, so, to the point. Some weeks ago Catalonia conducted a sort of referendum about breaking away from the rest of Spain. I have to admit that I have a total lack of interest for Catalonia's "fight for freedom". It's a territory I don't relate to, neither for geography, history or culture. If it were the Basques who were doing this poll I would be absolutely supportive. I have this empathy for that land. On one side their natural frame is almost like Asturies (you don't see any sort of natural border when you go from one place to another), their culture, economy, history, is more related to ours, so it's easy to have a certain feeling for that place. On the other side, I've always perceived Basque left wing nationalism as more internationalist and inclusive (but maybe it's just what I want to believe and not what reality is). I have a deep disdain for the main Catalonian "left-wing" (sort of...) nationalism, i.e, ERC. I perceive them as 'we are better than you' types... and I obviously don't like that. "We deserve to be a nation cause we've been much more than you, poor Asturians, all over history..." well, that kind of bullshit sure does not help to get other people's support (and also that constant focus on economy makes the whole thing seem more like a "capitalist" rather than left nationalism).

That said, I quite don't care about whether they break away or not, up to them, it's not my business. However, this whole thing of the referendum appears like a bad joke to me. Probably Catalonian economy is in better shape than Spanish one, but for European standards it's quite broken. The conservative Catalonian government has been undertaking all sort of cuts to the welfare state, starting by the health system, and are using this abrupt switch to the pro-independence mode (they are nationalists in a particular economic level, so as long as being a federal part of Spain was positive for them, there was no real interest in independence, but now they need something to keep the population busy with and prevent them from questioning their very damaging policies). Then the referendum itself has been pretty stupid. They were comparing it with the Scottish referendum, well, Scots had two years to mull over what to do with their future. The UK government had agreed on it, so the vote was for real, if you vote "yes" you break away (of course there was a huge level of economic blackmailing from London, so it's unrealistic to say that Scots could freely decide about their future, but well, that would give for a whole post). Furthermore, breaking away would have much stronger consequences in the Spain-Catalonia case that in the UK-Scotland case, so it's an even more sensitive issue that would need of a really serious reflection for Catalonians (only Catalonians, of course, the idea that the rest of Spain should vote whether to allow them to go independent is so crazy and stupid that could only come from the mind of stupid Spanish nationalist pseudo-democratic politicians). In the Scottis case most British people were talking about a "divorce" and were asking to Scots "please stay with us". In the Catalonian case there's much more hate involved. A part of Spanish people has developed over the years a certain antipathy for Catalonia, and a break away would not be considered as a divorce, but more as almost a war declaration. Even worse, a good part of the Catalonian population (there was massive immigration from other parts of Spain in the 60's, and while some of the kids of this generation are now pro-independence, others are still deeply linked to Spain), would also oppose, and we would end up with a broken/split society like Latvia or Estonia... and that's for sure not a good prospect.

So, after such a long and boring post, time to add something funny/interesting. In my second visit to Carcasonne, while going from the Train Station to La Cité I came across a Pub with a rather crazy mix of identities. It had on display both a Spanish and a Catalonian independentist flag. This would not be particularly odd if the Spanish flag were a Republican one and the Catalonian a left wing one, but this was not the case. The Spanish flag was one of those disgusting ones with a bull on it (as you can imagine a flag showing proud of the tradition of torturing and murdering an animal mainly appeals to conservative Spaniards) and the Catalonian flag was the one used by conservative independentists, so both kinds of dudes do not mix unless they want to have a fight...

A few days later I ran across a very, very funny piece of let's say "sticker art" in one car here in Toulouse. Conservative Spaniards have a tendency to use a bull as a symbol or their country (if the best symbol you can find for your country is one that many of us associate with torture and slaughter, that says quite a lot about the idea of nation that you defend), and Catalonians use a donkey, as some Asturians use an Asturcon (the Asturian pony) and some Galicians a cow. So you will see many Spanish or Catalonian cars with a sticker of a bull or a donkey. This car had a cool mix where a donkey was fucking a bull :-D

Putting aside any considerations as to whether this sexual act was of mutual agreement, the thing was pretty, pretty funny.

Heroes Against Terror

All over our existence Humans have shown and incredible capacity for the creation of horror and misery, for the construction of oppressive systems, for building a hell with bricks of fear, repression and pain, both for the minds and for the bodies. We've certainly have exceeded on that, but as depressive as it sounds it's also inspiring, as all these stories of horror, all these monstrosities have led to a counterpart, to stories of dedication and sacrifice for the others, human beings willing to give their lives to save others from those horrors, looking for no other reward than the awareness of being doing what their morality dictates them as correct. It can be those saving innocent Jews from the orgy of blood of Nazism, or volunteers running to unknown places to save unknown souls from diseases which dangers they know well, or Kurdish heroes saving Yazidis from the madness of IS...

Fundamentalist Islam, Salafism, or whatever denomination we give to that sickening ideology built upon the perverted misinterpretation of the Muslim faith is the biggest threat to human freedom and dignity that has ever existed, and hence it requires from the biggest stories of human sacrifice to protect others from it, combat it and eventually destroy it and wipe off any traces of it from this planet. In the last weeks I've written about the fight of the Kurdish fighters against IS, I've read about left wing Turkish warriors or Western volunteers joining the Kurds in their war against madness, and it's things like those that renew my faith in humanity, in our capacity to overcome all the many other horrors we've created, from ecological catastrophes to economical ones.

Today I've read a beautiful piece of inspiration in The New York Times, an Arab (Jordanian) comic writer trying to combat the indoctrination conducted on kids by radical Islamists. There's been a lack of "normal" heroes for the Muslim kids, there's not an "Arab Superman" or "Arab Spiderman", and Islamists have tried to sell Bin Laden or IS scum as heroes, as the role model, and this guy is confronting that by creating a Universe of heroes in his comics that can counteract the poison instilled by fundamentalists. Normal heroes that try to help others rather than chop the heads of the "infidels". It's very interesting, not only for this particular case but on a broader sense. It all comes down to the same, we can call it heroes, sources of inspiration, guides... in one degree or another we all need them, it's what the first paragraphs of this post have been about, our need to see some light in the empty darkness that we've created.

Friday, 21 November 2014

Kurdish Obsession

While checking some German sites supporting the Kurdish Resistance I came across S.Castro, a German, left-wing rapper. Most information about him is in German (so it's not much helpful to me), but google translate helps a lot with this interview. He's of Kurdish ascent and says interesting things like this:

The S in my stage name is my second name Sinan. The Castro is Fidel Castro, because I greatly admire him as a person and I'm a big supporter of the Cuban Revolution.

In this video one of the guys next to him wears a t-shirt with what I think is the face of the Venezuelan Revolutionary Comandante Hugo Chávez. The music, same as in this other one, is pretty interesting, it sounds rather epic and powerful.

This site contains some very interesting articles about the heroic fight of the Kurdish people. It's quite noteworthy how they stress the fact that this Kurdish fight is more than just the (very noble) cause of defeating the biggest monstrosity humanity has ever seen (IS), it's a fight for a new model of society, more egalitarian and let's say "socialist" (assemblies, cooperatives...). I had already mentioned here my perception of Kurdish nationalism as inclusive and left-wing, and how inspiring it is to find something like that in a human group that is mainly Muslim; what has been going in Rojava in the last years seems to corroborate such perception. Who knows, if hopefully some day the IS monster is dead and buried Rojava will turn into a hot spot for left-wing tourism.

What I've just said is a clear sign of the moral decline of our society. Someone that for so many years has felt such an enormous hate for fundamentalist Islam and other kinds of fascist, discriminatory and oppressive ideologies, should not be thinking of going as a tourist to a calm and free Kurdistan, should be thinking of getting a weapon and joining some sort of XXI century International Brigades and go to Rojava to defend humanity from such abomination of hate and madness. We should all feel Kurdish blood flowing through our veins, but let's assume it, in spite of the economical crisis, most Europeans still live comfortable lives when compared to other generations, and that has made us coward bastards. This article drawing parallelisms between Rojava and the fight against fascism during the Spanish Civil War is real food for thought. If you can read Spanish you must also check this page.

I can't find a better way to finish this article than treating you with this brilliant sentence taken from this brilliant article

To forget is to betray

Saturday, 15 November 2014

Berlin-Kurdistan Connection

I've recently spent a few days (again) in Berlín. This European metropolis is the most free and inspiring place that I can think of, and no matter how often I go there, I always find something inspiring there, be it new street art, some great concert, a new fresh perspective of world affairs...

This time, I was delighted to find out that the German Left and the Antifascist Movement are deeply involved in supporting the fight of the Kurdish people against that monstrosity called ISIS. They've realised (it should be quite obvious, but seems like that stupid sense of "colonial guilt" present in so many Europeans prevents many of them of raising their voice against radical Islam) that nowadays Fascism is much more than just neo-nazi scum and the NPD; ISIS and radical Islam are the most threatening and destructive fascist force the world has ever faced, and anyone with a brain and a bit of common sense should support somehow the fight against them.

You'll find all over Kreuzberg posters and stickers asking to support the Kurdish revolutionary self-defense forces, here you have some samples:

  • Poster of a fundraising party

  • End the criminalization of PKK

  • Poster

  • Sticker

  • Beatiful t-shirt with the word "Resistence" in Kurdish.

The bad part is that I found some of these stickers torn up. One guy told me that some months ago there were clashes between Kurdish people and a disgusting join force of Islamists and far-right Turkish (yeah, it's sickening). I have not been able to found much information about it. These clashes between Kurds and the Islamist scum have been happening in other places in Germany, but the worst ones took place in Hamburg.

I used to think that fundamentalist Islam was quite less prevalent in Germany than in England, but obviously they also have a problem. When you read that there's a salafist mosque in Hamburg and it's well known by the Government one wonders why such a factory of hate has not been closed and anyone related to it either deported or if unfortunately they have European citizenship put in jail and let to rot there for life. It's common sense, but political correctness and a twisted understanding of "tolerance" have deprived our continent of such sense. If the government does nothing, sooner or later it'll be us, aware citizens, who will have to take action, same as with racism, xenophobia or homophobia, we can not leave any room in this continent for any sort of religious fundamentalists.

Apart from all these calls to support the Kurdish people, I also came across this reminder of another long lasting monstrosity, the imprisonment of Mumia Abu-Jamal.

Friday, 14 November 2014

Well Done Europe

In the last years I've lost almost all interest in space exploration. Indeed as I've been drawn more and more into geography, history, human societies (that's why I so much love/need traveling) my interest in science has quite decreased (save for programming). Maybe for that, I've welcomed the success of the Rosetta mission even more than I would have done years ago. It's cause more than in the scientific discoveries that this mission can achieve, I'm interested in the "European rediscovery" that it can bring about (and well, the fact that part of the mission were managed from Toulouse also makes it more appealing).

After so many years being instilled with that feeling of disenchantment and decadence by our enemies, even the more proudly Europeans among us have ended up believing their lies, that Europe is over, that we're an old, declining society with no more future than using the memories of our glorious past to try to attract tourists or students from the new "big players": China, India, Arab medieval kingdoms... I hope this small success could be a key to open that prison of apathy and self-pity in which Europe has been locked up. It would be false to say that "Europe is back" cause we've always been here. In spite of the crisis, of our lame governments, of the USA... Europe has continued to be for all these years the most advanced and dynamic society in the world. After having been almost destroyed for so many internal wars we voided the chances of new ones by tearing down our internal borders, we've avoided depopulation by welcoming and integrating newcomers (however much I hate the radical Islam or the conservative trends with which some of these new inhabitants have tried to infect the continent, the overall result of this immigration flow is a clear enrichment of our society). We've continued to create and innovate, and we'll continue to do so, cause Europe is a land of Future, all we need is to believe in ourselves. If during so many centuries of fratricidal wars we developed the most advanced culture in this world, just think what we can achieve if we were to completely erase our internal borders and open the external ones to anyone willing to contribute to these achievements and be one of us.

As the French media has been saying these days, "Bravo Europa"

Sunday, 2 November 2014


It's quite odd that someone like me, with such an interest on Geography, History and Social issues, and that so strongly supports people's right to self-determination, has never paid much attention to the Kurdish people and their fight for their rights, but this previous sort of indiference has now turned into a deep admiration.

I can remember having come across with posters of some left wing Kurdish organization in Frankfurt in 2010 and how they called my attention, but thought of it as some isolated case, as all the mess of the last decades with Fundamentalist Islam has made me think of the Middle East and Left politics as antagonists terms (which is particularly painful if one thinks of the many left wing groups that in the 70's existed in the region, from Palestine to Afghanistan, the Arab Socialism, the Iranian communists later on slaughtered by that beast called Khomeini...). This last May in Berlin, while enjoying the delightful atmosphere of the May Day celebrations (it's really one beautiful experience), I found a lot of stands of left wing Kurdish organizations (along with Turkish ones, which makes the whole thing particularly inspiring), but for whatever the reason, my lack of interest in the Kurdish people remained.

It's been in the last weeks, when witnessing the heroic fight of the Kurdish Army and Kurdish volunteers against Islamic State that my interest in them has grown to the point of admiration. Almost one half of the Kurdish troops are women, courageous, unveiled women willing to give their lives in the fight against the biggest monstrosity the world has witnessed since the Nazi Germany times (the other day my uncle draw a comparison that I pretty liked between the advent of Islamic State and the arrival of an alien race willing to enslave and destroy Humanity). PKK forces, yes, that group branded as terrorist by the Turkish government (that so "friend of the West" government with a clear Islamist agenda, that supports Islamist terrorists in Syria, that represses Turkish left-wing organizations, kills demonstrators and that continues to deny the Armenian Genocide), helped rescue the Yazidis in Mount Sinjar from the torture and death that the Islamic State had in store for them. While starting as a Marxist-Leninist organization, they have moved now into more modern left-wing positions, with a deep commitment to the freedom of the different human groups (Arabs, Christians, Yazidis...) living in their territory.

It's also very interesting to see what's happening in the Syrian Kurditan, Rojava with the People Protection Units (YPG). This militia works on a democratic basis and as happens with the rest of Kurdish troops (PKK, Peshmerga) have the support of the non Kurdish population in their territory. While I'm not much fond of Vice News in general, this video is pretty interesting.

This last months Kurdish people living in Toulouse have been gathering on occasion at Place du Capitole to try to raise concern about the drama being lived in their land.

I could be wrong as I've said I had never been interested in Kurdish affairs until recently, but the Kurdish nationalism seems to me as having mainly a left wing flavour, which makes it an inclusive nationalism (or better, let's call it a sovereign movement) rather than an exclusive one.

Before finishing, I want to note what should be obvious, that while I have an enormous contempt for the current Turkish Islamist ultra-nationalist government, this disdain does not extend to the Turkish population. Obviously the idiots that vote for Erdogan and/or those that continue to deny the Armenian Genocide are scum to me, but there are many secular, civilized Turks that oppose and rebel against their tyrannical government. Even today, hard-line far-left groups (it has sort of a 70's feeling to me) operate in the country.