From the references to the CUP and the ANC, popular Catalonia according to a British radical, Michael Eaude

London“People’s movements, national or class, are what move history. The engines are not the great men or women who are at the helm.” The statement is made by the writer and journalist Michael Eaude (London, 1949), an Englishman with thirty years of residence in Catalonia, where he arrived “by chance” and where he “reinvented” himself. From working on the railways, as a bus driver and even a stretcher carrier, to doing it with the printed letter. Following, whether or not, the tradition of Britons – travelers or settled, from Richard Ford to Gerald Brenan; or Hispanists, from Paul Preston to Sebastian Balfour , passing through John Elliot – who explain the world, in this case Catalonia, to their compatriots. Eaude has done this for some time with dedicated studies in Barcelona, ​​Catalonia and also the Valencian Country, which he knows well, as he lives part of the year in the Racó d’Ademús region.

The reinvention of the character did not make him forget his roots as an opponent of the most brutal Thatcherism of the 80s, whether in unions of the radical left or in social movements of all kinds. Not even close. Because his last essay, A people’s history of Catalonia (Pluto Press) , is an interpretive synthesis of Catalan popular movements throughout history: from the peace and truce assemblies of the 11th century, passing through the Remences, to the most recent of all, the independence of the Process, “an interclass movement” that culminates – for now – in the referendum on October 1, 2017. He will speak about the future of this movement, and the history that made it possible, on November 28 in the British Parliament. The Catalan lobby, made up mostly of Welsh and Scottish MPs, has invited him to present the book.

Cover of the book 'A people's history of Catalonia'.

A people’s history of Catalonia is a book that, according to the author’s view, “fills a gap” in historiography and also in English-language journalism, which has not been substantially engaged in explaining “from the ground up” the historical processes that have taken place in Catalonia.

“One of my favorite writers about Spain – he says, in conversation with ARA – is Richard Ford [1796-1858]. A conservative But the national question, the question of the workers’ struggle, does not come within his parameters, nor within those of other writers. Only Gerald Brenan [1894-1987] he did it a little, being aware of it, a The Spanish Labyrinth. It addresses anarchist movements. But when he writes about Catalonia he says that it has a very rich literature but he confesses that he knows nothing about it, because he does not know the language and therefore does not speak it. In any case, Brenan was one of the few authors aware of the national question. So I think there was a gap on that point, especially in the more recent years.”

This lack is also detected in journalism. “Clearly, there are academic articles, yes, but I think that the mainstream press, conservative, capitalist, you can call it what you want, never looks at the grassroots movements. Journalists tend to attend the press conferences of the leaders. No they have an interpretation of history that is driven by class struggle or national struggle. They have other ways of looking at contemporary history and historiography. I wanted to make another kind of contribution,” he says.

The last two chapters are the most genuine of the text. Eaude himself, who does not want to be passed off as a historian, admits that until the 20th century what he does is the re-reading and synthesis of a very well-read bibliography. And when he approaches the most recent years, those of the sovereignty process, with his own testimonies and interviews, he is also moved by a different position from the majority in his country of origin: “Reading the British press and seeing the books that have been published these years, it is clear to me that, in general, they have not seen the pro-independence movement in a sympathetic way. There are nuances, of course.”

In his opinion, the driving role of the ANC, or that of the popular votes that began in Arenys de Mar in 2009, has been silenced. “In general, what is completely absent is the role of the Catalan National Assembly, the push from below. If I read The Guardian, Stephen Burgen is controversial, anti-independence, and expresses it. I The Guardian allows it. Because? I do not know. The conservative press, of course, identifies with the British government, which, in general, identifies at the same time with the Spanish. There is no radical press that explains these details.” The Process, then, and the popular base that supports it from the start, is the excuse for a book that establishes links between the popular movements of the country, the present and the historical

The same vision as Pepe Rubianes

What is the view of this radical Englishman, of Marxist training, close to Trotskyism, in relation to the unity of Spain and other clichés such as British democracy? As for the first, he expresses his point of view with a famous quote from the ill-fated Pepe Rubianes. It’s a not-so-innocent provocation: “To me, the unit of Spain sweats my dick in front and behind“, a phrase that translates as polished as it is inevitably soft, because the original has a strength that is impossible to translate into English, not even with the “two fucks” with which he tries to approach it. But, nevertheless, perhaps it is enough for a society in which, even now, the BBC still does not allow the use of loudspeakers in its broadcasts, and always hides them with an awkward pip sound.

Puigdemont's mass bath in Girona the day after the declaration of independence.

Regarding the United Kingdom, and its unity, “with a much more flexible idea than that of the Spanish state”, Eaude does not make any specific opinion explicit. But I’m sure I wouldn’t give much more than them either two fucks. In addition, he considers “the view that the United Kingdom is the cradle of democracy, when it has been one of the bloodiest empires in history, to be regrettable.”

Everyone is welcome, in the book, from the different establishments, whether it is that of Catalonia that stretches across the Mediterranean or that of Spain that oppresses Catalan national liberties. Not even the political leaders of independence come out of it very well. Because while he does not indulge in criticism – “perhaps a mistake of mine”, he admits – he does say that it was very clear that “Puigdemont’s government had no plan” to implement independence, which was “absolute irresponsibility “.

Did they betray the people? “I don’t like the word betrayal, as the bourgeoisie and their political representatives defend their interests. And these are antagonistic to those of the peasant and working classes. I think they fooled themselves. The movement from below did believe that independence was possible.”


Source: Ara.cat – Portada by www.ara.cat.

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