Violence or understanding?
By Mikael Hertig1
”Understanding is a journey into somebody else’s land”
Why am I so interested in the Catalan freedom movement? In the Danish-Greenlandic relationship, I am working for changing Danish colonial behavior into an attitude building on more respect and less superiority.
I may criticize government of Denmark in many ways. But the Danish – Greenlandic relationship was never the most violent in history in the physical sense. The postcolonial era is characterized by disputes and aspects of economic domination but never threatening of physical violence.
It seems to me that the violence in itself – and its broadest sense – has to do with lack of understanding. The more you understand and respect the less violence is needed. This is the case in your personal life. It is also the case according to local politics and among states. In Christian terms, love is a phenomena between persons and communities. Call it solidarity. To exercise legitimate power relies either on understanding or violence. In between we have the anticipation. If the style of the state power is violent it will demand submission. If the style is respectful violence gets still less necessary.
Violence is always built on fear. When it comes to Madrid towards Barcelona, the Madrid’s fear into some degree must have to do with the loss of control and international prestige if some day Catalonia obtained sovereignty. The loss of control over the territory seems to be the core. Physical violence is in use and has been used manifestly during the last year.
To me Madrid acts towards the Catalan freedom movement as if it is old fashioned warfare. On the other hand, the international impression is that the Catalan freedom movement is extremely non-violent. I think that this is so important. A traditional war between a Catalunian and a Spanish army is unthinkable. It can never be won. What the Catalan side depends on is international sympathy. The more Madrid uses physical power either by police or by organized gangs the more sympathy Catalonia will gett. The more the Spanish government takes legitimitely elected and innocent politicians in jail for nothing. Simply because usage of physical power is considered evil. Spain demonizes itself.
In this game, the process seems having great progress. To make the conclusion shortly. It is a question of information and social media.
Catalonia cannot rely on international law. Catalonia has a border common with Spain. According to international law, islands have a better position to obtaining sovereignty than areas sharing border with their original state. One might believe that digging a many kilometers broad and deep canal following the border might be a nice idea. “The Catalan island.” However, digging itself it would symbolize war because the territory is under Spanish sovereignty. Secondly, the point is that if other states should ever support Catalonia a better means is exposing the Post Franco Spain as less democratic and responsive to international norms for human rights.
When I meet the socalled international experts they always claim that Catalonia is split between ”separatists” and people wanting Catalonia to stay as it is – a part of Spain. The “neutral narrative” supports status quo.
THE OFFICIAL DANISH APPROACH TO GREENLAND
Now and then, according to my knowledge of Danish official attitudes to Greenland: ”What would happen with the strong Greenlandic opposition to Denmark if Denmark changed attitude into being more respectful to Greenlandic identity? What would happen if psychologic violence changed into respectful understanding during some years? Would that weaken the need for sovereignty?
I really hope it would. What we really want is to bring our identities with us in respectful journeys into each others lands and bodies. That is what babies come from. And happiness among the people.
My conclusion is: I will wholeheartedly support the CatalunIan freedom movement. If sooner or later it leads to a less violent, a more modern democratic Spanish regime characterized by understanding and the ability to loosing face and gaining respect, all parts have won whatsoever.
1Master of Political Science, Researcher in Arctic Relations. https://www.aftenposteninnsikt.no/europa/den-velsignede-danske-kolonitid 1