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Post Pro-Independence WhatsApp Message is Fake
Created by John Eipper on 10/30/17 2:05 AM

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Pro-Independence WhatsApp Message is Fake (Jordi Molins, Spain, 10/30/17 2:05 am)

José Manuel de Prada (October 29th) forwarded a message about the Catalonia independence process, stating "This is not a fake. It's an authentic message."

It is impossible that a person with a reasonable command of Catalan may, for a single second, believe that this message was written by a serious Catalan organization. I am sure a six-year old Catalan child could identify many of the serious mistakes in this text: "Apartir," "inniciem," "mès," "bestia," "mafios," "NOMÈS," "INFORMACIÒ," "informaciò," "ès" (thrice), "intoxicaciò," "penjeu," "el què," "naciò," "Mon," "noticia." There are no commas whatsoever. And there are expressions which are alien to Catalan, such as "Cal recordar."

Let me recall the Spanish government has had more than 600 intelligence unit workers in Barcelona for the last year. We know them.  They act as trolls in Catalan and Spanish media, creating fake profiles as if they were independentists.

By a Google search, I have been able to find this text in only one place: http://www.burbuja.info/inmobiliaria/nacionalismos/945667-este-nivel-whatsapp-separatista.html  in a forum comment written on September 25, more than one month ago. I know burbuja.info: I was one of the first members of the forum, when it was dedicated to analyzing the Spanish real estate bubble. Later, neo-Nazi groups entered into the forum en masse, and most of the interesting people left the forum. Now, burbuja.info is a platform for neo-Nazis, writing every day about how whites are superior to blacks (who are portrayed as just a variety of monkeys), and how Jews should be killed with nuclear bombs. For sure, the trolls of the Spanish intelligence services find themselves very comfortable in that forum.

I want to recall that when I appeared in the Catalan TV, speaking about the Spanish financial crisis and about the Catalan independence process, I received dozens of insults and death threats in that forum.

On Friday, shortly after the Catalan President declared Catalonia an independent Republic, and the Spanish President activated the infamous "article 155," firing the whole Catalan government, a group of about 300 Spanish unionists marched along the streets of Barcelona. First, they entered into a high school with a reputation being "Catalan," and they hit two teachers there. Then, they went towards the main building of the main Catalan radio station, and they broke several windows, harassing the journalists inside. Finally, they hit three more people on the streets, one at least with blood on his face. None of the 10,000 Spanish police in Catalonia did anything to stop these barbarian acts, which lasted for about an hour.

Today, Societat Civil Catalana (SCC) has demonstrated in Barcelona in favour of Spain. A taxi driver and a worker in the Barcelona metro have been hit by unionist members of the demonstration, as well as a Sikh (the unionists were shouting "morito" and "This is Spain!"; let me recall that Sikhs are not Muslim, but for the unionists, anything goes).  They also beat the person filming the racist attack against the Sikh:


You can also watch unionists in the demonstration shouting "¡Viva Franco!" and "con Franco se os iban a acabar estas tonterías" (with Franco all these stupidities would be over), and insults which I prefer not to write in a WAIS post:


Some other general violent acts today in front of the Catalan government (there are dozens of similar videos):


Catalan journalists and Catalan police have been insulted and spitted on.

SCC was founded and presided by Josep Maria Bosch Codina, who published in YouTube videos under the name Josep Codina, using his own voice, praising the Hitler Nazi regime, and including pictures of the Waffen SS. Falange, Democracia Nacional, Generación Identitaria and other neo-Nazi and Francoist organizations have attended the demonstration, as well as the Popular Party and Ciudadanos. And the Socialist Party. The main voice today in the demonstration was "¡Puigdemont a la prisión!" (Puigdemont, the Catalan President, to the prison).

In the meantime, the Spanish justice system confirmed that it has been "overwhelmingly" proven that the Popular Party took illegal money for many years. In particular, it has been confirmed Mariano Rajoy got (at least) 373,000 euros from that corrupt network. The Spanish newspapers simply ignore this information, focusing instead on the dehumanization of Catalans. And the Socialist leader, Pedro Sánchez, instead of asking for the immediate resignation of the Spanish President for such an obvious case of corruption, he shows his complete support to the Popular Party to combat Catalonia. Democracy in Spain is falling into pieces.

JE comments:  The first link containing the WhatsApp message dates from before the referendum actually took place.  I unfortunately do not know Catalan, but as a Hispanist and language guy I'm still mortified to have published such an illiteracy.  Are the errors those of a non-Catalan speaker, or of a semi-literate speaker of the language?  The distinction is important.  The authors could have found a competent Catalan editor if they wanted to.

So the general strike in the message refers to the one held in early October?  And now the appeal to refrain from publishing photos of Spanish tanks takes on a new meaning.  Is this an attempt by Madrid to censor images that could prove embarrassing?

Jordi, I'm sure WAISers would like to know more about the government intelligence agents operating in Barcelona.

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  • A Faked WhatsApp Message, and Prospects for Violence in Catalonia (Jose Manuel de Prada, Spain 10/31/17 4:53 AM)
    First of all, I apologize for having contributed to spreading a fake, if the WhatsApp in question indeed turns out to be such.

    It could very well be, although keep in mind that not all the believers in the independence cause write and spell Catalan flawlessly, and people of every language tend to write horribly when using WhatsApp.

    As I explained in my post of October 29th, the message was received by my sister from someone who obviously considered it genuine and who is very likely a "true believer."

    That doesn't make it genuine, but the person who sent it to my sister obviously saw it as consistent with his creed.

    As for the violent acts during Sunday's demonstration, they were isolated events, as I take that the harassment of Constitutionalist film director Isabel Coixet and other similar acts on the pro-independence side are also isolated events.

    Jordi Molins keeps reminding us about the corruption of the Partido Popular, which is, as he himself says, being judged in the courts.

    I still hope Jordi will comment on the infamous 3% scandal that dominated Catalan politics for decades and which, most likely, helped to finance ANC and Ómnium, not to speak of Convergencia itself, the main component of today's pro-independence coalition.

    Now to respond to José Ignacio Soler (October 30th). I agree with José Ignacio, especially his comment that Spanish society is "very mature" and that it "would not be tempted to resort to violence or any other form extremist brute force from either side."

    Yet for those living in the middle of it, the sense is that our lives have been doused in gasoline and that any spark will set us aflame.

    For a whole month, our peace of mind, and our sense that there is a stable future ahead of us, have been highly compromised, at least for those of us who don't think like Puigdemont, "els Jordis," and their fellow believers. Most of the others live happily in the virtual reality their leaders have carefully built for them, but for a large segment of Catalan society this is a nightmare that goes on and on.

    And the anxiety is not only due to fear of bodily harm. The situation is hitting the Catalan economy, and I am sure that jobs that otherwise would have remained more or less stable have already been lost.

    So far we have seen little physical violence, but what I have described above is no doubt a form of pressure that qualifies as psychological violence. And a lot of it is deliberate psychological warfare waged by the pro-independence movement against those who disagree with them.

    I doubt the international press "wants" physical violence to happen here, but so far the coverage has been terribly simplistic, at least in the two newspapers I read, the New York Times and the Washington Post, although the information supplied by the former has lately improved. Yet the cliche, to use JE's words, "of the romantic days of passionate, fiery Spaniards" stills looms large.

    JE comments:  Scratch an American journalist, and you have a Hemingway trying to come out.  Wouldn't a young and hungry correspondent relish the chance to (yikes) be a war correspondent in Spain?  Or are those days gone forever?

    Returning to the WhatsApp message, José Manuel de Prada is correct that illiteracy gives a certain "immediacy" and authenticity to the text.  But I'm still in the dark whether the grammar of the offending message is Castilian-tinged Catalan, or bad Catalan from a native speaker.

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  • Catalonia Crisis: Anatomy of a WhatsApp Message (Jordi Molins, Spain 10/31/17 8:58 AM)
    John Eipper asked, in relation to the WhatsApp message forwarded by José Manuel de Prada (29 October) about the Catalan independence process: "I'm still in the dark whether the grammar of the offending message is Castilian-tinged Catalan, or bad Catalan from a native speaker."

    Any assessment is a conjecture. But I strongly believe the writer of the text speaks Catalan fluently.  It is more obvious still that s/he has never learned to read or write in Catalan. Such a strong duality is almost non-existent in Catalonia. As a consequence, I tend to think this message could come from either Valencia or the Balearics. There are lots of mistakes, but none of them are related to a typical mistake by Spanish speakers when writing in Catalan. Personally, I had never seen these kinds of mistakes before: open accents where there should be none, lack of commas everywhere ... It seems as if the writer is a bit mentally deranged.

    Also, the writer uses "JPS" as an abbreviation for "Junts pel Sí," the independentist political party that won the 2015 Catalan elections. But the usual abbreviation is "JxS": I had never seen "JPS" before. Equally, s/he writes "2o" instead of "2-O" or better, "the day after 1-O". "2o" makes no sense, and one needs to understand the meaning from the context.

    But at the same time, the writer quotes the Unilateral, which is a Catalan digital newspaper I had never heard of before. I am a well-informed person on Catalan media, so this suggests the writer of the text has good sources of information. This fact is even more surprising given the appalling, almost surreal, orthography of the WhatsApp message.

    JE comments:  1-O means October 1st, the day of the referendum?  The message was composed before the referendum was held.  We have uncovered a true mystery.  From this side of the Atlantic, we might point our finger at...the Russians!

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    • Anatomy of a WhatsApp Message (Boris Volodarsky, Austria 11/01/17 2:04 AM)
      I wish all documents were analysed by the WAISers in the same professional way as Jordi Molins has done (31 October).

      We have two more experts who can tell us what is true and what is not: a Brit, Paul Preston, who speaks and writes Catalan like a native, and a Spaniard, Ángel Viñas. I wonder what they say about the WhatsApp text? And a view from this side of the Atlantic--it's hardly the work of the Russians, because simply there is no need and no interest. Exactly like in July 1936.

      JE comments: A destabilized EU is always in Putin's interest--or not?

      José Manuel de Prada (next) has sent a further comment on the WhatsApp message in question.

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      • The Infamous Catalonian WhatsApp Message and Russia; from Gary Moore (John Eipper, USA 11/19/17 7:34 AM)

        Gary Moore writes:

        The Catalan Letter put up for scrutiny by José Manuel de Prada (October 29) is beginning to sound like a mystery from Poe--and it seems appropriate that WAIS has given it this attention.

        Its non-sequiturs fairly shout about some deeper enigma--but what? After first thinking, with Boris Volodarsky, that Russia would have no reason to fabricate such a red herring, I looked harder at that key phrase, warning people not to say anything about tanks in the streets--though thus far it seems there aren't any tanks in the streets. The phrasing would seem to profit neither side in the Catalonian dispute, but could profit a party merely wanting to sow general discord and anxiety. Such a party would have no downside if the letter can't be traced, and an agit-prop boilerroom might do a little practicing on neutral ground, to keep the skills sharp.

        So I'm with JE on this. Strange as it may sound, I don't think Russia can be ruled out.

        JE comments:  Gotta hone those computer skills.  And yes--what can the Russian skunkworks be up to, now that they won the US presidential election?

        Here's the original message:


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        • Revisiting the Catalonia WhatsApp Message; from Gary Moore (John Eipper, USA 02/28/18 10:14 AM)
          Gary Moore writes:

          A lingering riddle in WAIS has led at last to a panorama.

          Back on October 29-November 1 2017, a particularly puzzling letter was discussed by José Manuel de Prada, Jordi Molins, and Boris Volodarsky. The letter, via WhatsApp, was sent to the Barcelona area in the excitement over last fall's Catalonian independence referendum.

          All of us in the WAIS discussion of it (JE and I also expressed brief puzzlement) were at sea as to what this letter might mean. It was a general call for concern--or panic--but seemed to benefit neither side in the referendum questions. Who would send such a thing? It seemed bent on elevating tensions in everyone--as seen especially in the letter's "tanks in the streets" line, when there were no tanks in the streets.

          Boy, were we naïve. It now develops, as a cautionary note on missing the obvious in a fast-changing world, that detailed press discussion of what was really going on was all around us--though it was lost in the shouting until one last straw on the camel's back. This past Feb. 16, when 13 individuals in Russia were indicted in the US for what is being called "information war," many searchable threads were brought into focus, casting stark light on the panorama.

          "Tanks in the streets," as it turns out, was a social-media reinforcement of the previous day's (Oct. 28) blatant propaganda story in Russia Today (the global cable channel now known as RT). It was part of a one-two punch with RT's Spanish version, in a process of fake news and coy false impressions.


          By now, revelations about the technique are all over the media. It has demonstrably been used by Russia in various countries and elections, as propaganda with a broad aim. A process of "deliberate ambiguity" aims to deepen social divisions in open societies, amplify heated or paranoid debate, and discredit democratic processes generally, thus leaving Russia as the supposedly less hypocritical strong-arm alternative. Saying this might have sounded like an embalmed Cold War rant two or three years ago. Now it is one more reminder of how a fast-changing world can outflank public knowledge.

          "BOTS SWARM TO SOCIAL DIVIDES," headlined the New York Times only days ago, on Feb. 20, using words no longer arcane.


          Robotized social-media accounts ("bots." in this case traceable to Russia) pretend in massive numbers to be real people online, and then may be unknowingly forwarded to us by real people we trust, as apparently happened when José Manuel de Prada received the "tanks" letter. The goal is evidently to flood and overwhelm--or primarily to confuse--public debate. "Tanks in the streets" brought the pattern to Catalonia in a way already being pointed out on Sept. 25 by Reuters, then was recapped by others, all unseen by even many informed observers (as WAIS has seemed to unwittingly prove).

          The answer was spelled out in The Daily Beast on Nov. 28: "The manipulative drift of RT ["Russia Today"] led to the truly hysterical headline on Oct. 28: ‘Tanks in the streets of Barcelona: Spain and Catalonia on the verge of a violent outcome.' "


          Bloomberg News said on Nov. 8:"Russian Hackers Fueled Catalan Separatism. http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-11-08/russian-hackers-fueled-catalan-separatism-madrid-institute-says

          On Nov. 9, European Union officials denounced the Catalonia pattern as "another case of perverse interference" by Russia.


          CNN was similarly blunt: "'Misinformation' on Catalonia referendum came from Russia."


          The slick RT outlet, only one of Russia's info-tools, often camouflages itself in innocuous or straight-news articles, so the blatancy of ploys like "tanks in the streets" can be pooh-poohed as supposedly nervous-Nellie imagining by the targets. The Russian government and allied spokesmen repeatedly use a "no evidence" argument, when in fact the evidence is often abundant. The ploy is like confidently saying night is day on the bet that a confused audience won't be able to get to the window to look.

          Participants in WAIS are self-evidently well-informed and formidably erudite, yet last fall none of us seemed to have the information pointing out profuse grounds for discussing the "tanks" letter. JE did muse intuitively that Russia might be a candidate for vague suspicions, but he wondered what Russia might conceivably get out of such a pointless-seeming exercise, so far afield in tiny Catalonia. The forum as a whole expressed no awareness of the fact--like a Cold-War mummy come to life--that, on a global scale, the Russian campaign is not just about isolated election outcomes, but about attacking open society generally.

          The hard evidence, which Russian denials tend to simply ignore, points to other cases in the Netherlands, France, Germany, the Scandinavian nations, the Baltics, the Balkans, and on and on. But the big poster child for Russian attacks is of course the United States, and its eerie oblivion leading up to the attack on the 2016 presidential election. Such Russian tactics certainly don't create the divides and tensions within a target country, but instead seek them out and seek to amplify them. To this day, many US partisans remain so focused on their ideological preferences of right or left that they seem almost less interested in the massiveness of what the Russian "information war" implies, and the confusing challenges it presents to public discussion. Confusion, indeed, is Russia's ally in this, and evidently a deliberate instrument. The challenge is how to see and conceptualize the fast-changing landscape in ways that discern the most central truths we need to defend.

          JE comments:  Russia positioning itself as the "less hypocritical, strong-arm alternative"--Gary Moore may have hit the nail on the head.  The irony is, Russia's alternative to hypocrisy is the old-fashioned lie.

          The original RT "tanks in the streets" piece cited above quotes from a political analyst, John Wight, who urged both sides in the Catalonia crisis to take a step back, in order to avoid tanks appearing the streets.  Note the ratcheting-up in the fake news cycle.  From advice on how to prevent tanks, to a WhatsApp plea not to photograph said tanks, to bald headlines about "tanks in the streets."

          Wight appears to be a frequent commentator on RT.  See below:


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    • Catalonia Crisis: Anatomy of a WhatsApp Message (Jose Manuel de Prada, Spain 11/01/17 2:13 AM)
      In connection to the WhatsApp message, I have double-checked and can confirm that the person who forwarded it is a Barcelona business-owner who obviously did not see anything fishy about it, and probably received it from a third party who saw no harm no recycling something that had been circulated after the events of 20th September. This person is in all likelihood a "foot soldier" of the cause, rather than spokesperson of the organizations mentioned in the text.

      It looks to me that the author is probably a Catalan speaker not very used to writing the language. In any case, the text cannot be declared a fake only on linguistic grounds, because many of the solecisms it contains are common currency in the Catalan one hears in Barcelona.

      The phrase "cal recordar," for example, which Jordi Molins considers "alien to Catalan," is actually very common. A simple Google search yields millions of hits which document its use by, among others, the very Catalan and pro-independence newspaper Ara, the Mayor of Barcelona, ineffable Ada Colau (in the web of the municipality), and virtually all the digital media mentioned in the WhatsApp in question. "Bestia" (more correctly "bèstia") is also very common in colloquial speech.

      As for the directive of ignoring all media not considered "kosher" by the pro-independence organizations, I can confirm that it is real, as both my wife and I have been warned, by people who took for granted that we were also believers, not to read newspapers like El País, El Mundo, etc., "because they only publish lies."  Needless to say, we read them, as we do the pro-independence media to try to get the larger picture. A pity most nationalists keep tenaciously to the little, very little, picture that has been fed to them!

      JE comments:  Here's a refresher on the original message, which José Manuel de Prada sent on October 29th:


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      • Anatomy of a WhatsApp Message; from Gary Moore (John Eipper, USA 11/02/17 3:37 AM)
        Gary Moore writes:

        Wading into the controversy on the bizarre/fake Catalan independence message--where I'm badly out of my depth--it would seem a general parsing might still obtain some insight.  The message would seem to mark one of two things, either a disturbing, fanatical-style blindness in the independence movement, or, conversely, a disturbing, fanatical-style penchant for sinister fakery among the anti-Independistas.

        José Manuel de Prada's discussion, remarking on pro-independence paranoia about the mainstream media, suggests the former (sounding a bit like Fox News True Believers in the US, who say the mainstream media are demonically flawed).

        There have been other hints in news of the independence movement that fanaticism may be blindly present--but then of course this could be disinformation. I wonder if WAIS will find by dissecting this one message some useful flags or guideposts for non-initiates like myself.

        JE comments: A window into possible motivations might be the appeal for recipients not to post photos of Spanish tanks--assuming that there will be tanks.  Why would the independentistas not publicize their victimization?  The WhatsApp message claims it doesn't want to spread panic among the Catalonians, but this is not convincing.  A Tiananmen-style guy-stopping-a-tank image would sway world opinion to the Catalan cause.  Is the message therefore a false-flag plant from the anti-independentistas?

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      • Spanish Politicians are Lucky. Catalonian Ones are Not (Jordi Molins, Spain 11/02/17 4:19 AM)
        In Catalan, the expression "Cal recordar" ("it is important to remember") requires an object. For example, "Cal recordar que ..." ("it is important to remember that ..."). An equivalent example in English could be: "There is a bottle on the table. I have." In English, "I have" is correct on a stand-alone basis, but following the sentence before, the correct phrase would be "I have it."

        In Catalan, the right way to state "It is important to remember what I have just said" is "Cal recordar-ho."

        I disagree with the recommendation not to read Spanish newspapers. Without reading them, one could not know that Josep Borrell has recently been removed from a very serious legal case against several Board members of Abengoa, a large listed Spanish firm. Of course, Josep Borrell was a Board member because of his professional qualifications. As everybody knows, Spanish politicians are technically very well prepared, and for this reason they largely populate the Boards of large Spanish firms. Let me recall the aggressive discourse of Josep Borrell against the independentist process more or less coincides with the dates of the legal case against him.


        Also, the neo-Nazis who attacked the Catalan government building in Madrid on September 11, 2013, have been lucky, and they will not have to go to prison.


        Instead, Catalan citizens are usually not so lucky with the Spanish justice system. For example, the Spanish General Attorney, José Manuel Maza, sent an electronic document describing the legal case against the Catalan President Puigdemont, with the original title (which remained in the metadata): "Más dura será la caída" ("The fall will be harder"). Of course, that title was just a mistake.


        President Puigdemont will have to declare against the Spanish justice system three days after the supposed offense took place. Mariano Rajoy, for example, declared in front of the Spanish justice system ten years after the supposed corruption of the Popular Party took place. Some are more lucky than others.

        It is important to emphasize that José Manuel Maza was official disapproved by the Spanish Parliament, when it was known the Attorney General's office had tried to stop investigations regarding the corruption cases of the Popular Party. The Popular Party is at the helm of the Spanish government, and in Spain, the General Attorney is hierarchically at the orders of the Spanish government.

        Equally, the judge who took the case against Puigdemont is judge Carmen Lamela. Lamela was awarded a medal by the Popular Party and the Spanish police, after a controversial case that favored the Popular Party interests in the Basque country.

        Finally, let me describe the bad luck Catalan presidents (since 1914, when the Catalan government was reinstated, after two centuries of the abolishment of self-rule) usually have: Enric Part de la Riba went to prison. Josep Puig i Cadafalch went into exile. Francesc Macià went into exile and prison. Joan Casanovas went to prison, and then exile. Lluís Companys first went to prison, then to exile, and then he was killed by the Spanish justice system. Josep Irla was exiled. Josep Tarradellas was exiled. Jordi Pujol was in prison. Pasqual Maragall was OK. José Montilla was OK (and now he supports the abolishment of self-rule). Artur Mas was barred from public office and was levied a massive fine. Carles Puigdemont is (?) in exile.

        Instead, Spanish presidents are usually very lucky.

        JE comments:  I'm irony-challenged this morning.  At first I took Jordi Molins's statement literally: "Spanish politicians are technically very well
        prepared, and for this reason they largely populate the Boards of large
        Spanish firms."  You mean they are not qualified, right, Jordi?

        It appears that the PP in Madrid is using a combination of carrot and stick in its attempt to rein in Catalonia.  A question for Jordi:  are the independentistas going to participate in the December snap elections, or will they boycott them?

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        • Catalonia is Corrupt Too (Jose Manuel de Prada, Spain 11/03/17 7:42 PM)
          Jordi Molins (2 November) forgets that many, many, many politicians, intellectuals and people of all walks of life from all over Spain have been killed, or have had to leave their country at some point or other in history, because of the political circumstances.  It was not only Catalans.

          He also forgets that if Spanish politics in general are a cesspool, so are Catalan politics in particular. Pujol and his accomplices, who ruled the region for almost 25 years, saw to that, and a lot of this Kafkaesque "process" is very likely being financed by funds obtained illegally, including Puigdemont's so-called exile in Belgium. Arguing that Catalonia needs to go its own way because Spain is so corrupt is a joke.

          I think the bad luck Jordi Molins mentions actually affects all Catalan nationalists, rather than only the presidents (among which he, oddly, includes the individuals who headed the Mancomunitat de Catalunya of 1914-1923).

          It is really bad luck that, in order to promote their ideas, Catalan nationalists need to resort to victimism and to a grotesque distortion of history, one which includes the dangerous libel that immigrants from other regions of Spain were literally sent to Catalonia by Franco to dilute Catalan nationalist feeling. The truth is that it was poverty what caused the exodus from rural areas to the richest regions, including Madrid.

          On the victimization of Catalan nationalists and their shameless distortion of history for political ends, see the program of the symposium "Spain against Catalonia" (sic) organized with public funds in 2013 in what was one of the early acts of propaganda for the "process":



          No wonder we non-nationlists in Catalonia are scared out of our wits at the prospect of being left in the hands of such fanatics!

          As for the bad luck with Presidents of the Generalitat, certainly the very corrupt Jordi Pujol is a case in point. So is Josep Tarradellas, who was essentially a decent man, but had very little real power during his tenure. As for Carles Puigdemont, I think by now even many of the true believers in the cause must have realized what an utter embarrassment he is.

          All this said, I have to state that I regret that yesterday judge Lamela sent Junqueras and some of his accomplices to prison. They surely deserve it, even if now they claim that they are being jailed "for defending ideas."  Yet, as with the imprisonment of "els Jordis," it is a mistake to jail them at this point. Tension has again raised many degrees. Rajoy should be the first person to realize that this is not the right strategy.

          JE comments:  I would think Catalonian nationalists are disappointed with Puigdemont, whose job is to do a Mandela-like stint in prison.  Exile is just not as powerful.  Jordi Molins has sent a follow-up post, which I'll publish first thing in the morning.

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        • Who Are Catalonia's Independentists? A Poll (Jordi Molins, Spain 11/04/17 3:46 AM)
          John Eipper asked on November 2nd: "are the independentistas going to participate in the December snap elections, or will they boycott them?"

          Two days ago, half of the Catalan government was sent to jail by the Spanish justice system. The other half, in Brussels, is waiting for the reaction of the European Union authorities, as well as the Belgian ones, regarding an extradition claim by the Spanish government. Today, Spanish media are arguing that Catalan independentist political parties could become illegal soon. Catalan independentist political parties have already claimed that they will participate the December 21st Catalan Parliament elections.

          Let me highlight some data from the most recent CEO poll in Catalonia:

          Catalans with a PhD support independence by 61% vs 20% against. Similar figures for Catalans with a Masters degree and a university degree (63% vs 31%, and 63% vs 28%). Catalans with a high school diploma support independence by 51% vs 42%. Catalans with basic education support unionism: 53% vs 42%. Catalans who did not complete basic education support unionism: 55% vs 37%. Catalans with no studies whatsoever support unionism: 67% vs 20%. Illiterate Catalans support unionism: 58% vs 8%.

          Catalans in the lowest quintile of income support unionism by 50% vs 37%. In the second quintile, 49% vs 44%. In the middle quintile, Catalans support independentism by 53% vs 39%. In the middle-upper class quintile, independentism is supported by 48% vs 46%. In the highest income quintile, unionism is supported by 59% vs 41%.

          The previous two data sets suggest a non-trivial fact: while independentism support is clearly anchored on high levels of education, independentist support has a "U shape" by income: while the average income Catalans, as well as middle-upper ones, support independentism, both the poorest and the richest Catalans support unionism.

          Usually, academic accomplishment and income are highly correlated. However, in Catalonia we see a serious breach of this relationship: at the highest income level, academic accomplishment is low. The explanation is quite clear: in Catalonia, there is a hidden network of power connected to Madrid, which receives power not from merit, but from submission to the Madrid regime. This is consistent with many anecdotal observations: while most University-accomplished researchers are staunchly independentists, the Deans of most Catalan universities are unionists. While Football Club Barcelona supporters are clearly independentists, the current President and Board are unionists. And so on. One of the raisons d'être of the Catalan independentist process is to revert this toxic relationship, and to allow meritocracy to flow back into society also at the highest levels of income.

          Finally, some other trivia from the CEO data: married couples and single people statistically support independence, while divorced people are mostly unionists. Independence is supported by people who are employed; unionism is supported by people who are not working. 51% of independentists believe "I almost always trust other people"; only 36% of unionists think so. 60% of unionists believe, "I should take all kind of precautions when dealing with other people"; only 45% of independentists think so.

          JE comments:  I would surmise that a U-shape graph also applies to Trumpism in the US, with Trump supporters coming from the richest and the poorest demographics.  Catalonia's divorced population surprised me:  you would think they would be more amenable to separation on a national scale.

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          • Catalonian Separatism and Education Level (José Ignacio Soler, Venezuela 11/07/17 6:53 AM)
            When I visited Cuba I was surprised and intrigued when the most highly educated people we met showed the most extreme manifestations of ideological fanaticism in support of the Cuban regime. I wondered why the people most educated were not the most judgmental of Fidel or Raúl Castro; there were obvious objective reasons to be critical. My only response at the time was that these people had high expectations for progress under the party´s umbrella, in power, economically and socially, if they showed such radical ideological public postures.

            Reflections over time changed my mind; the most powerful and likely cause for their attitude was indoctrination. This is a process we have also been sadly observing in the last twenty years in the Venezuelan public education system and the media. If the meaning accepted is such as "indoctrination is the process of systematically inculcating a person with ideas, attitudes, knowledge, ideologies or doctrines, by means of education and propaganda."

            Indoctrination is a mighty political instrument when it is applied systematically during all stages of the educational process and promoted systematically. Indeed, though I am no expert in education, I presume it is logical to conclude that the longer the process of indoctrination, meaning the longer you achieve higher levels of education, the stronger is the effect of inculcating ideologies.

            This long introduction is in relation to the November 4th WAIS post of Jordi Molins, in which he quotes a poll where the results clearly seem to demonstrate the superior educational level of independentists compared with "unionists" (I prefer to call them constitutionalists). Jordi's arguments remind me of one of his previous posts where he also claimed this very same idea and, furthermore, that people who are "well educated," ergo independentist, are more "open to experiences, to meet new people, to create associative networks," etc.

            I wonder why Jordi insists in the educational argument in favor of the independentist doctrine. Might he be trying to propose a narrative that independence or separatism is a highly rational product of highly educated minds in contrast with the less-educated people?

            As said before, I am not an expert in the educational field, but I have a few common-sense comments to make.

            First, one must keep in mind that the poll he quotes might be very well under suspicion for a lack of objectivity, considering that the institution that apparently produced it, CEO, Centre d'Estudies d'Opinio, is fully dependent on the Catalonian Government, and has been always suspected of biased statistical conclusions, as part of the propaganda apparatus of the "procés" (Catalonia independentist process). But, I must be honest, I am not certain if its statistical conclusions in this case are accurate or not.


            Let's think for a moment that the results are true, and propose the hypothesis that the cause for the people with higher education in Catalonia in favor of independence is indeed that separatism is a highly rational product of highly educated minds in contrast with the less-educated people.

            In this case, I believe it would be absolutely irrational to support distorted economic or historical arguments for independence if you have a higher educational level, when more than two thousands banks and businesses have left Catalonia in recent days (representing approximately 25% of the region's GDP), or Catalonia's decrease in employment rate in October due to the uncertainty of the procés.

            On the same hypothesis, let us consider the statements that to be independentist means to be "open to experiences, to meet new people, to create associative networks," etc. I would accept this statement as partially true, except that to be "independentist" or nationalist also means a deep regionalist, traditional, egotistical and conservative sentiment. To create barriers, to establish borders, to segregate communities and societies, instead of being a socially open or progressive person, might also mean to have a "closed mind," less open to other cultures and customs and more close to mental alienation against "foreigners."

            Let´s now consider again if the results are true, but to propose the hypothesis that the cause for people with higher education in Catalonia being in favor of independence is indeed a product of indoctrination.

            Some background. For 40 years, education in Spain has been autonomous in every region.  I am not sure to what extent, but this at least concerns administration, language of teaching, design of textbooks and partial contents, or some teaching practices.

            In this regard, Catalonia has a pattern of abusing the educational system for indoctrination with impunity, on historical subjects, political and economic realities, in basic or higher education, by distorting historical facts and contents; economically by the manipulation of economic data, or the economic effects of independence, or limiting the teaching of Spanish. They have been trying to build a story, a fairy tale, of "Spain" and its autocratic government against Catalonia as part of the propaganda strategy. Of course the Spanish government has made huge mistakes that helped to reinforce these strategies and feelings, but for the purpose of this analysis let us keep them apart.

            Apparently there is plenty more evidence in the media for this indoctrination strategy, but I do not now desire to bore readers with them. Just one example from an article in Spanish.


            However let´s take an example from Jordi´s own writings which might clearly represent such radical manifestations. In one of his recent posts he stated, "So the only two options are either accepting defeat (which means a complete destruction of the country by Madrid) or going ahead with the independence process, knowing now that Europe will allow the Spanish army to take over Catalonia, if Madrid desires so, with no concern about human rights violation whatsoever."  Is it not an overwhelming overstatement or an expression of radical indoctrination to say that "defeat" means the "complete destruction of the country by Madrid or, else, to take over Catalonia with no concern for human rights"?  Does Jordi really believe that destroying the country is in the interest of anyone in Madrid, or that the people outside Catalonia are not concerned with human rights?  Jordi, are you serious, or is it again a statement similar to threatening to open the Barcelona harbor to the Chinese army?  Similar to these are the arguments the indoctrinated Catalonians seem to wield.

            Regarding the demographics of the Catalonian people in favor of independence, I would be more interested in knowing the demographic proportion among immigrants to Catalonia from other regions of Spain, first or second generation, and what I would could call the more "pure" Catalonians. Why?  I once read that there is not a more radical ideological fanaticism than those from converts. The conversion is generally a product of expectation and desires to be accepted in a society that despised one's origin. That would be the case for instance of a famous independentist, more radical than anyone else, Gabriel Ruffian, who was born in Andalucía, a character well known for his extreme and radical, rude and offensive independentist manifestations.

            JE comments:  The correlation between education and independentist sentiment lends itself to two interpretations:  José Ignacio Soler sees it as the indoctrination of university students, while Jordi Molins works from (I assume) the assumption that the highly educated are better thinkers and fundamentally smarter.  The same dichotomy exists in the US among those labeled "liberals."  A possible third way of seeing it:  the educated tend to be less accepting of the status quo, especially if they view their economic superiors as undeserving of the privilege.

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            • Catalonia Again: Constitutionalism, Republicanism, and Education Level (Jordi Molins, Spain 11/09/17 4:14 AM)
              José Ignacio Soler (7 November) asks if the independentist movement in Catalonia could be due to indoctrination.

              First, I will use the term "Constitutionalist" from now on, as requested by two WAISers, due to a potential bad connotation of the term "Unionist."  For symmetry, I request to use the word "Republican" (citizen of the Republic of Catalonia) instead of "Independentist," since "Independentist" is a term with a bad connotation, too.

              Indoctrination could be due to, at least, three factors: ethnic purity (or in other words, lack of exposure to diversity), educational indoctrination, and media indoctrination.

              The educational indoctrination, suggested by José Ignacio, can be discarded as a hypothesis by simply looking at the data: in the CEO poll discussed in recent emails, and in a scale 0 to 10 (0 being very Constitutionalist, and 10 very Republican), 18- to 24-year-old Catalans have an average of 6.26; for 25- to 34-year-olds, 6.17; for 35- to 49-year-olds, 6.31; for 50- to 64-year-olds, 6.61; and for Catalans older than 64, 6.06. Since the Franco dictatorship ended in 1978, only Catalans younger than 39 could have been indoctrinated by Catalan nationalists. But as we can see from the data, 50- to 64-year-old Catalans are the most independentist age group, and these Catalans were educated under the Franco dictatorship, which for sure indoctrinated children, but in the other direction. It does not look like that educational indoctrination works.

              In relation to ethnic purity: the two Republican political parties have, for each voter who has Spanish as mother tongue, two voters who have Catalan as their mother tongue. Instead, the Constitutionalist political parties are much more ethnically pure: the PSOE has 14 voters with Spanish as mother tongue for each voter with Catalan as mother tongue. Ciudadanos has a 11 to 1 relationship. And the Popular Party, a whooping 25 to 1. In conclusion, Constitutionalist political parties are ethnically pure, while Republican political parties are somewhat diverse.

              For media indoctrination, the data are clear: Catalan TV channels only have a share of 15.1%, while TV broadcasting in Spanish has a share of 84.9%. As a consequence, it is impossible for Catalans to be indoctrinated by their media: almost all Republicans watch both Spanish and Catalan TV, while the opposite is rarely true. In addition to this, Catalan TV keeps an exquisite 50-50 share of TV commentators, with both Republican and Constitutionalist opinions. Instead, Spanish TV very rarely invites Republican citizens to appears on its programs.

              José Ignacio Soler asks: "Might [Jordi] be trying to propose a narrative that independence or separatism is a highly rational product of highly educated minds in contrast with the less-educated people?"

              The answer to this question is again data-based, using the CEO poll: when asked, "Which are the reasons for you to vote Yes on independence?"  The answer with the highest response is, "To improve the management of the economic situation," with 29.4% of the votes. The second answer is that "Catalonia would improve its general situation," with 18.8%. Only the third answer refers to an emotion, "Feeling of being misunderstood," with 14.7%.

              Instead, under the question "Which are the reasons for you to vote No on independence?" the most voted answer is "Preservation of the unity of Spain," with 31.2% of the answers. The second most voted answer is again an emotional one, "Identity sentiment," with 18.6% of the answers. None of the other seven answers refers to a rational argument, or the wish to improve the situation of the country.

              To sum up: Constitutionalists are less educated, more ethnically homogeneous, monolingual, and only watch Madrid mass media.  More alarmingly, neo-Nazis belong to them and historically, their predecessors used massive military and political violence against the Catalan population.

              Republicans have a higher level of education, they are more ethnically diverse, they are bilingual, they watch both Madrid and Catalan media, no neo-Nazis claim to be Republicans, and their historical predecessors kept their culture and language with pride, despite massive violent repression against them.

              Who are the indoctrinated ones?

              JE comments:  From the US perspective, "Republican" has its own world of meaning.  When I discuss the Spanish Civil War in my classes, I must stress repeatedly that the Peninsula's "Republicans" are not the same ideologically as their American counterparts.  Students claim they get this, but I don't think they really believe me.

              Jordi, I asked a couple of years ago, but the question merits an update.  What is the status of language in a Catalonian Republic?  Will the country be officially bilingual?  Castilian-speakers must be worried about a slippery slope in which Catalonia gradually extinguishes Castilian from public life (in particular, TV and education).

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              • Catalonian Republic and Official Languages (Jordi Molins, Spain 11/10/17 8:23 AM)
                John Eipper asked, "What is the status of language in a Catalonian Republic? Will the country be officially bilingual?"

                From the Constitutionalist newspaper La Vanguardia:

                Carles Puigdemont [the Catalan President] explained that in a future Catalan State the linguistic rights will be completely guaranteed, and both Catalan and Spanish will continue being official languages in Catalonia (...) Both PDECat and ERC [the two leading Republican political parties] have fully supported the official status of Spanish in a future Catalan Republic.


                Contrast this with a different development: After the intervention of the Spanish government over the Catalan government, the Catalan language has been forbidden in documents written by the Catalan administration, as it happened during the Franco dictatorship.


                More than 100 Catalans have suffered violence by gangs of neo-Nazis, Francoists and other Constitutionalists, since the Spanish government intervention in Catalonia. The unambiguous EU support to the Spanish government was understood by those gangs as opening the gates of the use of violence against Republicans without negative consequences on them, which resulted in this massive surge of neo-Nazi violence.

                Of course, reporting of these actions is carefully avoided in all Madrid media.

                JE comments: How could it occur to Madrid's interventionists to even hint of proscribing Catalan? Could such a thing lead to anything other than cries of neo-Francoism?

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                • Catalonian Republic and Official Languages (Jose Manuel de Prada, Spain 11/12/17 3:42 AM)
                  Given his record so far, I don't think Carles Puigdemont is to be trusted.

                  In May 2017, the Grup Koniné, formed by pro-indepedence academics, issued a manifesto demanding that Catalan be "the only language" of an independent Catalan republic:


                  On the other hand, the language policy of the Generalitat has always discriminated against Spanish, although saying so was stigmatized as a display of "hatred towards Catalonia."

                  See the case in 2000 of Josefina Albert, a lecturer at the Universitat Rovira i Virgili of Tarragona, who was penalized by the academic authorities for giving to students who requested it Spanish versions of the university entrance test, in spite of the fact that the regulations of the Department of Education created all kind of Kafkaesque barriers for getting the text in Spanish.


                  Protests for the treatment suffered by Ms. Albert, who sued the Rector and won, were answered by a grotesque show of solidarity with the latter, because the whole thing was deemed to be part of a conspiracy against the Catalan language and the Catalan nation.

                  The reaction of the nationalist establishment was to close ranks around the Rector, and even the Parliament voted a motion to support him.

                  This is one of many instances in which criticizing or challenging language policies of the Generalitat was met with paranoid overreaction and accusations of "hatred."

                  I don't think the information given by Nació Digital can be considered objective and reliable.

                  On the other hand, neo-Nazis and Francoists cannot, for obvious reasons, be considered "constitutionalists."

                  The individuals who perpetrate such acts are, to say it plainly, thugs, as are those (should I really call them Republicans?) that recently boycotted a rally of the Constitutionalist party Ciutadans in the town of Llavaneres, shouting, "Get out of here, this is not your home":


                  (Previously, the municipal council had declared the leaders of Ciutadans "undesirable people.")

                  Also thugs are those who last week harassed film-director Isabel Coixet (whose film The Bookshop, based on the excellent novel by Penelope Fitzgerald opens today.):


                  Does the nationalist media inform about such things, I wonder?

                  Last but not least, this past Wednesday we suffered a failed general strike organized by mostly by the left-wing, anti-capitalists allies of Pugidemont and Junqueras.

                  In the greater Barcelona area the strike was a dismal failure, as it could not have otherwise, but crowds of people forcefully occupied train stations and the accesses by vehicle to Barcelona and other places to prevent people from going to work.

                  So much for a movement that claims to be peaceful.

                  JE comments:  I'm inclined to agree with José Manuel de Prada that Castilian would eventually be pushed aside in an independent Catalonia.  Can nation-building take hold when you continue to embrace the language of the "colonizer"?  An imperfect parallel might be found with the Baltic nations, where Russian continues to be spoken but is not recognized as an official language.

                  Barcelona is a major destination for Spanish-language immersion programs.  This source of income would dry up if Castilian is eliminated from public life.

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                • Indoctrination and Catalonian Nationalism (José Ignacio Soler, Venezuela 11/12/17 4:31 AM)
                  I apologize to WAIS readers for returning to the subject of Catalonia nationalist indoctrination, but I must respond to Jordi Molins's post of 10 November.

                  I am sorry, Jordi, but I must belong to those less-educated and closed-minded non-independentists, because I do not follow most of your conclusions on the data you provided.

                  Jordi mentioned abundant statistical data, which I am not able to question, except they it was provided by a institution dependent on the Catalonian government. He also makes some dubious arguments to demonstrate that there is no indoctrination on the independentist side, but rather on the constitutionalist side. (My apologies to Jordi, but it is hard to call the independentists "republicans" when there is not yet any Republic, at most it exists only "symbolically" and, besides, I do not see any negative connotation in the term "independentist" if such an aspiration is legitimate.)

                  I won't insist on the educational indoctrination anymore, because there is plenty of evidence, as well as complaints and allegations, reported in Cataluña. Entire books have been published on the subject. But just for the sake of argumentation, here is another example:


                  Now some history. These alleged indoctrination policies were promoted formally by previous Catalonian governments, as part of a strategic plan for independence.  For example, ex-president Jordi Pujol (a well-known corrupt politician on trial) wrote an extensive document in 1989 in favor of eventual independence, published by Juan Antich in El Periódico de Cataluña el 28 October 1990. The document outlined nationalistic strategies, guidelines, policies and specific activities to reinforce Catalonian nationality. To cite some relevant extracts of this document:

                  "Hay que incidir de manera eficaz en todos los medios de comunicación a través de personas con una mayor influencia social positiva. Al mismo tiempo, se deben promover y potenciar las entidades con una extensioìn cultural y de formación que incluyan este contenido nacionalizador."

                  In summary it says that it must exert influence on the media, to promote nationalistic content.

                  "Impulsar el sentimiento nacional catalán de los profesores, padres y estudiantes. Garantizar el perfecto conocimiento de !a geografía, historia y otros hechos socioculturales de Cataluña, además de potenciar el uso de la lengua catalana por parte de profesores, maestros y alumnos."

                  In summary, it advocates promoting Catalonian nationalist sentiment among teachers, parents, and students, together with language, cultural expressions, Catalonian geography and history.

                  If these statements are not considered guidelines or seeds for nationalistic indoctrination, both propagandistic and educational, then what are they?

                  But let us look at possible media indoctrination from another perspective.

                  In Catalonia, the independentist sector among the population traditionally was not more than 20 to 25% over the course of many years--let's say before, during and after the Franco era until the 1978 Spanish Constitution, and later, if I remember correctly, after 2006 when some of the articles of the Catalonian Statute of Autonomy were declared unconstitutional by the Spanish Supreme Court. Personally, I consider this event a mistake by the Spanish government, because it was used by Catalonian politicians to stir up Nationalistic sentiment. Since then the independentist sector increased to levels of 30%, 35%, 40%, and slightly more than 45%, accordingly to different sources. The peak of the curve was probably reached during the hardest years of the economic crisis in Spain--2008, 2009, 2010 and 2011.

                  This long preamble is just a background for the following argument. The economic crisis was used by the Catalonian independentists as argument for political aspirations and to increase their support. It appears that the highly educated independentist mind aspires to independence because of rational economic reasons. But let us look at the potential economic consequences of independence, and I mean only in a short period of time:

                  --More than 2300 banks and businesses, of all sizes, left Catalonia, representing more than 30/40% of the Catalonian GDP.

                  --1.5% possible impact in the GDP as result of the crisis.

                  --A strong reduction of foreign investment in the region.

                  --26% reduction of new business start-ups.

                  --A reduction in the employment rate in October 2017.

                  --A strong reduction in the value of real estate properties in the region

                  --A 20-23% reduction of Catalonian exports.

                  --A significant flight of capital.

                  --Catalonian debt bonds classified as junk.

                  --And some other yet uncertain effects, such as the decreased likelihood of a EU Drug Agency base in Barcelona.

                  All these impacts are facts, not speculations, and products of the Catalonian crisis. How can then be possible that the highly educated independentist minds did not anticipate them or prevent them from happening?

                  If what they were looking forward to with independence was a better economic future, their predictions were likely completely wrong. Nor has a single country in the international community recognized the Independence Declaration (which was symbolic of course, according to the President of the Congress), despite assurances to the population that recognition was going to be automatic.

                  Forgive me, please, but the results seems to illustrate that either their aspirations and promises were not the product of a well-designed plan, either economically or politically. Nor were they the product of highly educated and well-informed minds. Rather, they were the unreasonable expectations of ideological indoctrination, or even worse, simple political manipulation and lies.

                  Finally, a response to Jordi's comment. He wrote, "after the intervention of [Madrid]...over the Catalan government, the Catalan language has been forbidden in documents written by the Catalan administration, as it happened during the Franco dictatorship."

                  Jordi, either you are trying to manipulate the article you quoted, or you exaggerate its implications. It is clear from the same article that the purpose of the order is, "el castellà es converteix en la llengua d'informes escrits a l'administració catalana per facilitar la supervisió dels ministeris." In other words if I understand correctly, the order to write the reports in Spanish are specifically to facilitate the supervision in just one ministry, not to proscribe Catalonian overall.  In any case, after the general elections of 21 December, the interventionist policies will no longer be in force.

                  JE comments:  My Catalan is non-existent, but I see a plural form in the above:  "to supervise the ministries."  Madrid was definitely tone-deaf with its imposition of Castilian, as it easily could have found Catalan-speakers to supervise its government takeover.

                  I am confident that Jordi Molins will reply.  Jordi, what about the massive flight of businesses?  The number 2300 sounds inflated to me--how do you pack up and leave in just over one month?

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                  • "We Lived Better Against Franco"; on Brainwashing (Jordi Molins, Spain 11/13/17 4:10 PM)
                    The risk of objectification of Catalonia, by Spanish nationalists, is increasing, as described some time ago in WAIS.

                    I would like to highlight some recent comments in WAIS which have, frankly, surprised me:

                    There have been several phrases of the kind "Statement X appears in the Catalan media Y, so it must be false," without giving any other reason for such an opinion, rather than the implicit assumption that "everything which is Catalan is bad." Instead, quotes of Spanish media are considered to be neutral, even for example "El Español" (if I may).

                    Another statement that has raised my eyebrows has been "neo-Nazis and Francoists cannot, for obvious reasons, be considered 'constitutionalists.'" Neo-Nazis and Francoists consider themselves, very clearly, Constitutionalists. They have attended all demonstrations whose motto is "to defend the Spanish Constitution." Another completely different issue is if a given person likes that neo-Nazis and Francoists are Constitutionalists, or not. But confusing reality with wishes is a serious mistake, especially in relation to such sensitive issues.

                    But the comment that surprised me the most was Eugenio Battaglia's "of course [the educational indoctrination] process did not work with me, but it worked very well with most of my friends." I do not know if Eugenio was ironic and self-deprecating (if that is the case, forget my comment), but it does not look like it. At least thinking about myself, I would be really worried if I had written such a comment. When thinking thoroughly and coldly about it, I believe I could not escape from the feeling that I was the most brainwashed of them all.

                    And clearly this is a risk for the Republican movement: as some old left-wingers say ironically, "contra Franco vivíamos mejor" (against Franco we lived better). It is much easier to recognize the mistakes of others, rather than your own. And if the Republican movement succeeds, clearly we will have to confront this reality.

                    What I would like to think about myself is that I do not think that I am not brainwashed when others around me are, or that some media sources are wrong just because of their origin, irrespective of the research quality of the given article. Or to negate reality, when reality is against my ideological preconceptions. I hope Catalans do not fall into this trap; otherwise we will not be worthy of our country.

                    JE comments:  The brainwashing topic has brought in a number of responses.  Jordi Molins reminds us that it's easier to see the brainwashed speck in your neighbor's eye than the equivalent log in your own.  Another Jordi Tuesday Truth:  living (and complaining) against an unjust system can be more satisfying than the hard work of building a better one.  Should they finally separate from Madrid, Catalonians have their work cut out for them.

                    Next up:  José Manuel de Prada also writes from Barcelona.

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                    • A Wedding in Gandia; Valencia and Catalonian Secession (Phyllis Gardner, USA 11/15/17 2:49 AM)
                      Hello from a long-lost WAIS participant.

                      My son just married a woman from Gandia (part of the Valencia region). Her parents speak Catalan and Spanish (not English, for an instigation to me to learn some Spanish), and the family is decidedly against Catalan secession. Having just returned from there, hearing multiple perspectives, mostly anti-secessionist, I was left wondering what the potential Catalan separatist nation envisions for its military, border control, trade agreements, and multitudes of other issues. This is also in light of the fact that the EU seems disposed to not recognize an independent Catalonia. I would be grateful for any perspectives on those issues.

                      JE comments: First of all, Phyllis, congratulations to Jay and his new wife! (I hope I've remembered your son's name correctly.) And welcome back to WAIS, Phyllis.  I have missed you.

                      In our extensive discussions on Catalonia, we haven't mentioned the Valencian perspective.  Valencians (almost) share a language with Catalonia, but they see their Catalonian cousins as no less different (differently different?) than the rest of Spain.  An independent Catalonia would put Valencians in a difficult situation, as they would become even more of a minority in the rump Spanish nation.

                      Is there any talk of joining Catalonia?  I cannot see what Valencia could gain by trading Madrid's hegemony for Barcelona's.

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                    • Catalonia Crisis: Thugs, Company Flight, Etc. (Jose Manuel de Prada, Spain 11/16/17 11:16 AM)
                      In reply to Jordi Molins's latest post (November 14th) and some of JE's queries in other recent ones:

                      1. I would like to say that the Neo-Nazis and Francoist nostalgics that show up at Constitutionalist demonstrations are, as I have already said, a tiny minority of of individuals keen only on causing havoc and destruction. The fact that they attend the demonstrations do not make them Constitutionalists, whatever they may claim. As I said, they are thugs who only represent themselves.

                      Unfortunately, it does not seem that same can be said of the fervent Republicans who showed up at Ciutadans' rally in Llavaneres, harassed Isabel Coixet or wrote threatening graffiti outside the shop of Albert Rivera's shop telling them "Go away, this is not your home." They are, or so it seems, mainstream "Republicans" and I have not read or heard of any rebuke for their actions from the ANC or any other branch of the pro-independence movement. Obviously they are considered useful to the cause, and I wonder when the rest of us non-nationalists will be told to go away because this is not our home. This said, Jordi Molins is right in that one has to be careful of information on these issues gathered from the media. There is lot of intoxication on both sides (some of it, apparently, promoted by the Russians on behalf of the independence movement), so better to exercise caution at all times.

                      2. About companies fleeing Catalonia. JE states, "The number 2300 sounds inflated to me--how do you pack up and leave in just over one month?" What the companies are doing at this stage is moving their registered office from Catalonia to elsewhere in Spain due the legal uncertainty caused by the pro-independence unrest. Many of the companies that have fled so far are big shots, such as CaixaBank, which moved to Valencia, or the publishing giant Planeta, which has moved to Madrid. Many others are small companies. At this stage, this is just a warning shot, but the exodus can have serious consequences for Catalonia if things don't improve and these companies actually "pack up and leave."

                      I am sure some jobs have already disappeared because of the unrest, and more will be lost if things don't change. Certainly this is happening in the area of tourism, as the drop in the numbers of international visitors is already being felt. Yet in spite of the hard evidence, the pro-independence movement refuses to admit that this is a serious blow to their promise that an independent Catalonia would be instantly rich and prosperous. Some voices are even blaming the Spanish government for forcing the companies to go, while the truth is that it only modified a regulation to make the change of registered office easier. The companies are going of their accord because they don't feel safe in Catalonia. Yet, in amazing twist, a company belonging to Joan Font, a prominent advisor of Artur Mas in matters connected to independence, and funder of the ANC, has moved its registered office to Madrid! Perhaps his true motto is "La pela es la pela" (one doesn't play with money, so to speak):


                      3. JE asks, "How did they [private schools] impart Catalonian sentiment when to do so was prohibited and punished?" Well, the episode about the course of "Catalan national sentiment" took place in the very early 1980s, when Spain was again a parliamentary democracy. But the fact is that as early as 1973, when I was 10 years old, a weekly hour of Catalan language was given. Catalan certainly didn't count for the final grade, but I'm sure everything was done legally and reflects the very limited "liberalization" of the late Francoist period.

                      Before the restoration of democracy, "Catalonian sentiment" was imparted by teaching us Catalan songs, telling us about illustrious Catalans, etc. Jordi Pujol's recommendation, as quoted in a recent post by J. I. Soler, of "Garantizar el perfecto conocimiento de la geografía, historia y otros hechos socioculturales de Cataluña, además de potenciar el uso de la lengua catalana por parte de profesores, maestros y alumnos" ("to guarantee a perfect knowledge of the geography, history and other socio-cultural facts of Catalonia in addition to promote the use of the Catalan language among professors, teachers and students") was also followed, although certainly with caution. Things, of curse, changed quite noticeably in the late 1970s, specially after 1977. It was then that indoctrination truly began, at least in that school. Certainly my last three of four years there I found really suffocating.

                      4. John further asked, can nationalism ever be progressive? I certainly doubt so. What about liberation movements, ask our moderator. Well, one case I know well is that of the ANC in South Africa. The African National Congress was an effective liberation movement, but a lousy political party and now is a total disgrace. I would like also to bring the example of Ireland. Thanks in part to British blunders, most of the country became largely independent in 1922 with the establishment of the Irish Free State. Yet for decades to come Ireland was a poor, underdeveloped country under a nationalist regime that had the full support of an obscurantist Catholic Church. Specially dark were the years of Eamon de Valera's rule. His rabid anti-British stance plunged the country into a long era of depression. I quote here the words of novelist John Lanchester (whose mother was Irish and grew in that period) in his fascinating memoir Family Romance (London: Faber, 2007): "The ascent to power of De Valera's government in 1932 ... saw Catholicism and nationalism locked in an inseparable tight clinch. ... Now [after having contributed to end British rule] the Church was garnering its reward at the centre of a state that was, if not exactly theocratic, then not far from it; the least you could say is that it was distinctly, defiantly unsecular. The air was heavy with piety: a peculiar and deeply Irish national-Catholic piety. The new state religion was religion and the state" (p. 41).

                      Only in the last few decades has the Republic of Ireland freed itself from the "tight clinch" of Catholicism and nationalism. And there have been recent revelations of the horrors of Church-sponsored hospices and orphanages. So even for Ireland freedom from British rule was a mixed blessing.

                      I am pretty sure that, even without the Catholic element, a nationalist regime in an independent Catalonia would resemble in many ways the De Valera period in Ireland.

                      JE comments:  Font's move to Madrid says a lot.  Interestingly and ironically, Madrid might reap the biggest financial gain from Catalonia leaving. 

                      What is the latest news on Russian meddling in the crisis?  Boris Volodarsky believes Russia has bigger fish to fry, but any destabilization of the EU is a feather in Putin's cap.

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                    • Catalonia's Republican Movement: Integrating and Anti-Racist (Jordi Molins, Spain 11/16/17 3:13 PM)
                      Brainwashing is often tainted by biases. For example, a Catalonian Republican will favor news suggesting that Constitutionalists are wrong, and vice versa, a Constitutionalist will prefer to watch news that confirm his or her own bias.

                      As a consequence, it is hard for an external observer, not versed in the particular discussion at hand, to find out "who is right and who is wrong."  In fact, in normal times, nobody is completely right, or completely wrong.

                      However, there are circumstances in which evil dominates one of the sides of the conflict. It is important to have robust indicators that preemptively may announce such a course of events.

                      Casual observation of historical events suggest to me that evilness appears as a consequence of objectification: when a human group considers the rivals to be an object, inert and with no autonomy, which can be owned and used as a tool for any purposes. Objectification usually results in the dominating group making public claims which are, even for external observers, directly wrong or, at least, highly suspicious. Instead, in normal circumstances in which objectification does not apply, members of both sides of the conflict will always be rational and reasonable enough to make claims which are not obviously wrong, or suspicious, to external observers. From an empirical point of view, the existence of such odd claims is the "traffic light indicator" needed to preemptively identify the initial phases of an objectification process.

                      I want to highlight a paragraph of a recent post by WAISer José Manuel de Prada:

                      "Regarding indoctrination, it certainly exists, and in some private schools it was common already in the 1970s. I can vouch for this because I attended such a school from the late 1960s to the early 1980s. The school in question was well known for its Catalanist orientation, and at that time my parents considered that placing us there was the progressive thing to do. It was a sad mistake, realized too late. Nationalism is never progressive! Fortunately, my siblings and myself resisted the indoctrination, but that was not the case of many thousands of people who attended this and other similar schools and are now among the elites who support 'the process.'"

                      Let me emphasize that Franco died on November 1975, and the Spanish Constitution was enacted on December 29, 1978. As a consequence, José Manuel de Prada considers that he would have been less indoctrinated by attending schools subjugated to the extreme Spanish nationalism of the Franco dictatorship. In my opinion, this claim is highly distressing, even for foreigners with no or little knowledge about the Catalan situation.

                      I would like to point out that Republicans have consistently been behind the "Refugees welcome!" demonstrations in Catalonia in recent months and years. Constitutionalists were much less numerous in those demonstrations. In fact, the leader of the Popular Party in Catalonia, Xavier Garcia Albiol, became famous with his political campaign to "clean" his city, Badalona, from Romanian gypsies. Neo-Nazis and other similar extremist groups, all of them Spanish nationalists, have been the responsible of the recent surge in racist attacks against Catalan citizens with non-European physical appearance.

                      Finally, let me point out that an overwhelming majority of my family is of Murcian (non-Catalan) origin.  I can personally confirm the Republican movement is deeply integrating and anti-racist.

                      JE comments:  José Manuel de Prada never said that Francoist indoctrination didn't exist pre-1975, only that pro-Catalonian indoctrination was common afterwards.  The distinction is important.

                      Jordi, have the Catalonian Republicans outlined a refugee and immigration policy?  How will they balance an "open door" with the desire to preserve the language and culture of a small nation?  Are they looking, say, to Denmark for a model?  

                      Building a nation is hard work.  Political independence is the easy part.

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                      • Is Washington Feeding Catalonian Republicanism? (Eugenio Battaglia, Italy 11/18/17 5:15 AM)
                        I have been very interested in the WAIS discussion between the Republicans and the Constitutionalists (even if calling the Falangists neo-Nazis is an error). However, so far nobody has explored what the Empire is doing.

                        The following argument was recently made by Dario Fabbri of Limes (Rivista Italiana di Geopolitica):

                        Spain is a good colony of the Empire with many important military bases. However, Spain is also an obedient lackey of Frau Merkel. The problem is that Germany, even if covered with US military bases (70+), is seen with suspicion because of its increasing hegemony over the European Union. Therefore for the first time Washington thought to side with Barcelona.

                        By the way, the idea of Catalonian independence in modern times emerged after the imperialist war of the US against Spain, by which Barcelona lost all its important trade with the Caribbean and the Philippines.  The Catalans started blaming this misfortune on Madrid.

                        The regional government of Catalonia spent $1.5 million on lobbying in the US, met with Bob Corker and found a good ally in Dana Rohrabacker.

                        An independent Catalonia would reduce German influence in the building of Kerneuropa, the part of Europe completely under German influence, including northern Italy [sic].

                        One 26 September, Rajoy went to Washington and convinced Trump to side with Madrid.  This was also pushed by the Pentagon. The same Italian government was later immediately ordered to side with Madrid too. Anyway the status quo with no independence for Catalonia is in the interest of Italy.

                        Anyway, it is in the interest of a strong Empire to give force to the little regions looking for independence but covered by the Imperial umbrella.  On the contrary, a weak Empire would need big strong countries as allies. Anyway the present Emperor may easily change this idea.

                        The order (immediately followed) to side with Madrid is proof of the colonial status of Italy.  This has been shown by the visit to Washington by Di Maio, the leader of the populist party "5 Stars."  This party in next spring's elections may be the winner.  Therefore it is imperative to get the blessings of the Empire and assure it of its loyalty.

                        JE comments:  I am confused:  if Washington is fanning the flames of Catalonian independence in a "divide and conquer" strategy, why would it also coerce Italy to side with Madrid?  Italy faces the risk of regional separatisms, too, so an intact Spain is more in Rome's interests than Washington's.

                        Does Fabbri give any evidence for US fear of German hegemony?

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                  • Catalonian Nationalism and Xenophobia (Jose Manuel de Prada, Spain 11/14/17 4:16 AM)
                    In addition to what José Ignacio Soler says in his post of November 12, I would like to add that Jordi Molins's interpretation of the statistics is an elaborate variation of the old cliche that casts all immigrants to Catalonia as ignorant and illiterate.

                    I hasten to say that this racist way of demeaning people from outside Catalonia was not prevalent among most Catalans, but up to the early 1990s it could still be heard in certain circles. When immigration from other parts of Spain was replaced by people coming from North Africa, Pakistan and South America, these, rather, Andalusians, became the target of xenophobic comments.

                    Immigrants have greatly contributed to make Catalonia the rich region it is now (or was, before, as José Ignacio Soler points out, companies began to flee in droves, scared off by the current situation), but there has always been a latent hostility towards them among the nationalist movement.

                    Statistics, to the extent that they are reliable, show what is already known: support for independence is stronger among the better-off sectors of Catalan society, having always been the cherished project of a large sector of the Catalan bourgeoisie.

                    As a recent editorial in El País points out, "el hecho de que el independentismo predomine en los estratos más pudientes, con más estudios y con más ascendientes catalanes configura el secesionismo como un proyecto esencialmente excluyente, en absoluto igualador" (in summary, the pro-independence feeling prevails among the wealthier classes, better educated and with more Catalan ancestors, and in no way egalitarian) defines the nationalist project as essentially exclusionary.


                    Regarding indoctrination, it certainly exists, and in some private schools it was common already in the 1970s. I can vouch for this because I attended such a school from the late 1960s to the early 1980s. The school in question was well known for its Catalanist orientation, and at that time my parents considered that placing us there was the progressive thing to do. It was a sad mistake, realized too late. Nationalism is never progressive! Fortunately, my siblings and myself resisted the indoctrination, but that was not the case of many thousands of people who attended this and other similar schools and are now among the elites who support "the process."

                    I remember that in 1980-81, my last year at that school, a mossen (priest) who had previously been teaching religion was assigned the task of imparting a course on Catalan history. The textbook he had written himself, and was mimeographed. It was not precisely a model of objective historiography. When I got home and my father saw that the volume was titled Introducciò a l'esperit nacional català, he was really upset. He went next day to see the principal and told him that in the 1940s in Salamanca he also had to use a book with that title!

                    A word or two about the true nature of Catalan nationalism. In spite of the claims of its leaders, it is exclusionary, although it is open to embrace people from outside, provided they fulfill certain conditions. The shibboleth is the Catalan language. People from elsewhere that aspire to become Catalans must make an effort to learn and use it. Then, of course, one has to embrace also the nationalist Weltanschauung.

                    Polls recently published suggest that in the coming elections of December 21, a lot of non-nationalist vote will emerge, cast by people who until now tended to stay home during the local elections. I wonder what will the reaction of the the nationalist movement if they actually lose the vote and a non-nationalist becomes President. Will they cry foul? Or will they turn to the absurd idea that Franco sent all those immigrants to Catalonia precisely to "de-nationalize" the country?

                    As for the use of the plural in the document quoted by Jordi Soler, I think it refers to the supervision by the central government ministries. The Catalan ones are called Conselleries.

                    JE comments:  Both sides of the Catalonia crisis attach the xenophobia label to the opposite side.  What about José Manuel de Prada's statement that nationalism is never progressive?  This is hard to refute if you're talking about France, Germany, UK, Russia or the US (or Japan, China...), but what about emerging nationalisms in the guise of 'liberation movements"?  Please discuss.

                    I am curious about José Manuel's school experiences in the waning Franco years.  How did they impart Catalonian sentiment when to do so was prohibited and punished?

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                  • Company Flight from Catalonia (José Ignacio Soler, Venezuela 11/18/17 4:55 AM)
                    Commenting my post of 12 November, John E asked a very good question: "What about the massive flight of businesses [from Catalonia]? The number 2300 sounds inflated to me--how do you pack up and leave in just over one month?"

                    Let me further explain some concepts. In fact John is right about the infeasibility of "moving" or physically packing up a business in a short period of time, particularly when there are infrastructures, machines, stocks of goods, and industrial facilities.

                    In Spain, as most probably in any other modern industrial country, there is a legal status required to function as a business: first is the headquarters (sede social) which is the legal place where the company is based; second the Tax Base (sede tributaria o fiscal) where the business pays taxes; third is the physical place where the industrial facilites are, or where production takes places in the case of a business of industrial goods.

                    The first is where the company is subjected to the local jurisdiction, and is normally the first step taken to move a business; the second step is obviously to transfer the place where taxes are paid; and the third and final step, is to pack up and to leave the place where the production takes place.

                    They all have different implications. The first has purely administrative, managerial and legal impact, where the directors and managers should meet in order to manage the company, and where the company subjects itself to the local legal jurisdiction for its business. Currently, the number of companies changing their headquarters from Catalonia to other regions of Spain number more than 2500. The second more complex legal status, which takes longer, has an obvious impact of fewer taxes paid to the original base; currently more than 1000 Catalonian businesses have changed their tax status. The third has a more direct impact on employment, GDP, productivity, and so on, but also is more costly, painful, complex, difficult, and time-consuming to implement.

                    I hope this explanation would clarify the current situation described in my post.

                    I would also want to refer to John´s other comment: "[Madrid] easily could have found Catalan-speakers to supervise its government takeover." Yes that would have been easier, but not all Spanish public servants speak Catalan, however remember that 99% of Catalonians, including public servants, speak Spanish.  What would be the sense of finding a Catalan-Spanish speaker to translate reports, instructions, etc? It is easier to use a common language.

                    JE comments: Easier in "practical" terms, but the message sent to Catalonia is tone deaf.  Shouldn't Madrid be especially sensitive to accusations of Francoist tactics repeating themselves?  And I say this as one for whom the Castilian language puts food on the table.

                    With so many HQs relocating to Madrid and presumably Valencia, these cities must be experiencing a significant economic boost.  Are any of the Constitutionalists realizing that hey, we may lose Catalonia, but we're getting richer?

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            • Educational Indoctrination (Eugenio Battaglia, Italy 11/09/17 12:48 PM)
              Very good points in the post of José Ignacio Soler (November 7th).

              From my experience, the longer that you stay in school and university (especially the Humanities), the more brainwashing you receive. In my case it was from the fifth grade all the way to university and daily through the media.

              Of course this process did not work with me, but it worked very well with most of my friends.

              I'd also like to underscore this point from José Ignacio: "There is no more radical ideological fanaticism than that of converts." I found that there is no more American nationalist than those who just became citizens. The second generation in turn learns to appreciate the old country. Probably it is true all over the world, and this may explain the Islamic terrorists of the second generation in Europe.

              JE comments:  Ah, the zeal of the convert.  Legend has it in New York City that Mayor Bloomberg cracked down so hard on smoking because he was a former smoker.  Regarding education and indoctrination, I see my role as "liberating" students from brainwashing.  I strive to teach them to think for themselves.  Or on deeper thought, do I want them to think like I do?

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              • Sundry WAIS Topics; from Ric Mauricio (John Eipper, USA 11/11/17 11:13 AM)

                Ric Mauricio writes:

                Wow. What a wealth of discussions we've enjoyed on WAIS. Gun control. Saudi consolidation of power. Catalonian independence. And of course, China.

                Since JE ventured a guess that Chinese stocks (H or otherwise) may have not done well in recent years, I will give my two yuans' worth. Since 2006 (why 2006, you ask? That is the start of the global meltdown and I like to measure from peak to trough to YTD in order to include both extreme bear and bull markets; mutual funds in their advertising often pick the period that shows their best performances), the S&P 500 has averaged a 10% total return, while the ETF (exchange traded fund) that I positioned myself to invest in China has averaged 18% per year. Yes, that is an 80% outperformance over almost 11 years. While everyone celebrates the US stock market's historic performance this year (up 17% YTD), my Chinese ETF is up 43%. I am not cherry-picking. There are other Chinese ETFs that are up 50%+.

                Why is that every time I see a post from the UK and a post on the subject of Spain next to each other, I keep hearing the phrase "the rain in Spain"?

                Re: A. J. Cave's post of November 10th: From the Saudis to Iran, from the People's Republic of China to Russia, and of course, our own US, it seems there is a trend towards power consolidation.

                I found Eugenio Battaglia's post on educational indoctrination extremely thought-provoking. His post stated that his educational indoctrination started in the fifth grade. I would venture to say that his and our indoctrination started way before that, perhaps in kindergarten (we just didn't know it). I would venture to also say it is not only our educational institutions that indoctrinate (brainwash?) us, but our cultures and especially our religious institutions. Tor Guimaraes and I have been in discussion on how challenging it is to challenge the religious indoctrination. Extremely challenging. The compelling reason why we are so susceptible to indoctrination is fear. Fear of rejection. Fear of Hell. Fear of not getting a job.

                On the subject of gun control, and especially in the Texas massacre, I believe there already is in place gun control. It's just that it wasn't enforced. And Istvan Simon is correct in pointing out that one can purchase guns in a neighboring state to perpetrate the crimes in Chicago. So, OK. Why don't we do away with gun control in Chicago and arm the citizens of Chicago to "protect" themselves (I believe that the Texas AG has suggested more guns in churches), we would have less crime. Uhuh. Yeah.

                JE comments:  I believe Eugenio Battaglia was in fifth grade in...1945.

                Fear of rejection, fear of Hell, fear of not getting a job:  Has Ric Mauricio summed up the modern condition?

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                • Educational Indoctrination, and a School Play (Istvan Simon, USA 11/12/17 10:17 AM)
                  I found the "brainwashing" thoughts of Eugenio Battaglia not representative of United States education. Judging by my own 3 children and one step-daughter who all went or are going through California public school educations, I'd say nothing is further from the truth.

                  A few weeks ago I was present at a theatrical presentation at my 10-year-old son's 5th grade class on the history of the Declaration of Independence and the United States Constitution. The children were divided in 3 groups: One represented the Rebels, one the British, and a third a group of Americans somewhere in between. The children represented many of the significant figures in these historical events. They were in costumes reminding of dresses and customs of two-and-a-half centuries ago. From time to time they would be called and say "who they were" and their ideas. For example, something like this: "My name is Benjamin Franklin. I think that..."; "I am Lafayette, a French general, etc..."; "I am George Washington," "Benedict Arnold," and so on. It was a superb theatrical play that encouraged deep independent thought on these historical events, the very opposite of "brainwashing." I was moved to tears by some of the stories of sacrifice related by these children as well as by the singing of our National Anthem at the end of the play.

                  Though I am a student of history, being also an immigrant, I did not go through an American secondary education. So I did not know many of the stories that were related in this play. I did not know for example the personage of my own son, one of the less famous Founding Fathers of our country.

                  The superb moderator in the play was not a teacher in my son's school. A beautiful enthusiastic young lady in her 20s--she was the employee of an organization that does these plays in American schools. The children were prepared and taught their lines in the play ahead of time by their teacher in the school, but the presentation was led by this fantastic young woman, who saw the children for the first time on the day of the presentation I witnessed. The children were encouraged to ask questions and they did. Altogether a fabulous event that shows the depth of an American education, and which tears to shreds Eugenio's brainwashing thesis.

                  JE comments:  Teaching the Foundational narratives of US history has one goal:  creating a community of good citizens.  If not exactly brainwashing, this is undoubtedly a process of nation-building.  One might ask if the Catalonian schools (which inspired this discussion) aren't attempting to do the same.

                  Istvan, was your son's activity part of the Reacting to the Past series?  We have done similar things at Adrian College.

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                  • American War of Independence from the UK Perspective (David Pike, France 11/13/17 3:38 AM)
                    I am intensely interested in this epic of the American War of Independence. I presented the story at my University in 2015, under the title "The King versus the Constitution," on the occasion of my 85th birthday. It was filmed, and I have totally forgotten if I sent the film to WAIS.

                    A similar presentation was given in Minnesota when I was the guest of my good WAISer friend Enrique Torner. My best performance was the one to the English-Speaking Union, because I respond best to a large audience, but that one was not filmed. None of these presentations satisfy me because I did not give enough time to the role of Edmund Burke. That is why I plan to do it again on video in England in the spring.

                    What I've noticed in all places is the surprise, both among Americans and Britons, to find that there was such strong support in the UK for American resistance, with an antiwar movement in England so similar to that against the war in Vietnam. I would like to suggest to Istvan Simon (12 November) that I send my new version to the moderator who serves in the organization supplying material to American schools. In England I am presenting it to my old school, and while it's not for young children, it's certainly suitable for high school students.

                    JE comments:  David, we need to upload your talk to YouTube.  Americans fail to realize how much the antiwar sentiment in Britain helped the independence cause.  Historians don't do hypotheticals, but it's a safe bet that had England been willing to commit as many resources as necessary to subdue the Colonial rabble, it could have done so.

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                  • Instilling Values, Persuading, Brainwashing (Istvan Simon, USA 11/13/17 4:26 AM)
                    Regarding JE's question if my son's historical play was part of "Reacting to the Past" series, I do not know. The company that moderated the presentation of the play did not have this in its name.

                    John Eipper also commented on my post that the "goal of the 5th-grade play was nation building." One could say that the aim is to instill American values in our children, but there is nothing wrong with teaching history and our values. The point of my post was that this was not accomplished by a bunch of empty slogans, but something that invited independent thoughtful questioning about our history.

                    The British, for example, were not vilified. The Boston Tea Party was presented fairly, and its point "no taxation without representation" has its lessons for today's GOP "tax reform" being debated in Congress as we speak, which is nothing less than giving huge tax breaks for the most privileged and richest segment of our society--people like Secretary of Commerce Ross, who keeps much of his billions in off-shore tax havens, and who kept his Russian business interests intact, or President Trump, this disgraceful politician, who paid no income taxes for 20 years on completely fraudulent tax loopholes. By so doing these billionaires of the Trump administration left to much less wealthy people like me the support of our military, the building of roads, the funding of the government, etc. Yet Trump has the audacity to wrap himself in the flag, whipping up controversy over the First Amendment rights of Colin Kaepernick and other NFL football players, who decided to "take a knee" during the performance of the National Anthem in NFL games, to call attention to the routine frequent murders of our black citizens by the police.

                    No, we do not need fake "patriots" like Ross and Trump. We need patriots that pay taxes like me, or even bigger true patriots like retired Marine General Michael Sullivan and many other military WAISers who served our country, and risked their lives in doing so.

                    My son's play had the goal of teaching our history and values, but it sought to do so by persuading, not by brainwashing. If I may insist on an analogy, I do the same in teaching mathematics and computer science in my classes. Any good science teacher has the goal to teach the truth of science, but we do not do so by appeal to authority or blind faith. The burden of proof is on us to persuade, not to brainwash. We welcome being challenged in any aspect of our teaching. We invite our students to challenge the truths we are teaching, to try to disprove the statements we are teaching. We persuade; we don't brainwash.

                    I would like to bring up one more analogy. Because I play the violin I have been invited by many churches to perform during religious services in churches of various denominations. I am not a religious person, so for me there is a certain "price" to be paid by my playing at these events--the price of having to endure the religious services while waiting for my turn at music. One of these events was at the Presbyterian Church in Pleasanton, California. At this service, we performed the sublime "Ave Verum Corpus" by Mozart, a motet that I deeply love.

                    This Church is so wealthy that they have not one but several pastors who took part in the service. One of them was the youth pastor and his "teaching" of children was what I would call brainwashing. He kept saying Jesus wants you to do this and that, and every second word of his was Jesus. While he was engaged in his "teaching," I kept silently thinking, "how do you know what Jesus wants us to do? Did you get a telephone call from Jesus?" Then came the turn of the main pastor and he gave a sermon about the greatness of Joseph, for accepting that his wife Mary had a child without his active participation. Now here was something I could relate to. As much as I hated the youth pastor's"teaching," I loved the main pastor's sermon. One invited reflection and thought. The other blind unthinking faith.

                    JE comments:  Istvan Simon draws a clear line between instilling values and brainwashing.  Some might see the distinction in fuzzier terms.  Take the Pledge of Allegiance as an example.  I intoned it as a child without knowing what it meant.  Why is the US "indivisible," and what are the historical and present-day implications of the adjective?  And how about the "under God" part?  No one in my elementary school was encouraged to question these concepts.

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                    • Instilling Values vs Brainwashing, and the Jesuits (John Heelan, UK 11/14/17 5:28 AM)
                      Commenting on Istvan Simon's interesting post of 13 November, JE reflected that Istvan drew a "clear line between instilling values and brainwashing. Some might see the distinction in fuzzier terms."

                      Me for one. I suggest the objective of brainwashing is to instill the values required by the ruling hegemony (outstandingly reported by George Zhibin Gu about life as a child in Maoist China-see George's post of 13 November). Gramsci taught us that "by Hegemony the ruling class can manipulate the value system and mores of a society, so that their view becomes the world view (Weltanschauung): in Terry Eagleton's words, "Gramsci normally uses the word hegemony to mean the ways in which a governing power wins consent to its rule from those it subjugates." In contrast to authoritarian rule, cultural hegemony "is hegemonic only if those affected by it also consent to and struggle over its common sense."

                      As a cradle Roman Catholic, I was indoctrinated (in the literal sense of the word) from the age of seven (taught by nuns), schooled (taught by priests), regular communicant (desired values reinforced on a weekly basis by parish priests) until I reached my mid-thirties, when I started to question things and became agnostic. That said, the brainwashed values persist, reminding me of the Jesuit boast, "Give me the child for his first seven years, and I'll give you the man." There is truth in that boast. I often contemplate whether I will have enough self-confidence to resist taking Pascal's Wager when the time comes. One wonders how many Muslims dying with "Allahu Akbar" on their lips are disappointed with the outcome.

                      JE comments: Yes, there are no atheists in foxholes. I've pointed this out before, but one brilliant move by US hegemons was the ERISA (Employee Retirement Income Security Act) act of 1974. By privatizing the retirement accounts of most of the nation, it forced virtually everyone into cheering for the capitalist, bourgeois order.  Skin in the game.

                      Today is Weltanschauung Day on WAIS (see José Manuel de Prada, and now John Heelan).  Wunderbar!

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                      • Brainwashing vs Persuasion (Istvan Simon, USA 11/17/17 10:11 AM)
                        John Heelan (November 14) may be right about being brainwashed by his Catholic upbringing, but I don't see why he says that he sees the line between brainwashing and persuasion in fuzzier terms than I did.

                        I don't see any contradiction or distinction between his "fuzzy line" or the sharp line that (according to JE) I drew. To my mind they are the same line. The line is simple and not at all fuzzy. Brainwashing is whatever method is used that relies on authority or one-sided arguments instead of persuasion by reason alone. Persuasion invites reasoning, logic and challenge so it is not brainwashing. Anything else is.

                        JE comments: Is it the scientific vs humanist perspective?  Or am I just a fuzzy guy?  The best and most effective brainwashing cloaks itself in the mantle of persuasion based on logic.  This is the whole notion of "cultural hegemony"--you're brainwashed without knowing it.

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                  • Death of a History Teaching Grant (Brian Blodgett, USA 11/13/17 12:37 PM)
                    Years ago, somewhere in the 2008-2010 period, I was on a committee to review applications for the Teaching American History Grant. This grant, under the Department of Education, no longer exists, ending in 2011 when funding for it was not included in the 2012 budget or any since. It seems that someone did not see a need for spending money on American History.

                    The Teaching American History Grant combined school districts across the United States with sponsoring colleges, universities, libraries, museums, and non-profit history or humanities organizations (Teaching American History, 2012). I was a part of a team of three that reviewed a small number of grant requests. Each request had to have a three-year plan on what activities they were going to do in conjunction with their partner institution. Some of the schools were going to send educators to Williamsburg one year, Washington DC another year, and perhaps a series of Civil War battlefields in their third year. In 2010, $115.3 million was allocated to 124 school districts across America. The concept of the grant was to enhance teacher understanding of US history through professional development, study trips, mentoring by historians, etc.

                    I recall when reviewing the grants that the teachers had to provide information on the educational level of the teachers that would be involved, how many terms they had in college of US history (surprisingly the number was very low, with most having zero to three credit hours of US history) which at the time shocked me that we were having teachers educating our students who did not have any background in US history (this was at the elementary and middle school levels).

                    And we wonder why less than half of the US citizens living in the 50 states know that Puerto Ricans are US citizens by birth (this according to USA Today), and so few of our citizens know very much about our own nation's history.


                    Department of Education. (2012). "Teaching American History". Retrieved from https://www2.ed.gov/programs/teachinghistory/index.html

                    USA Today (2017, Sept. 26). "Yes Puerto Rico is part of the United States." https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/world/2017/09/26/yes-puerto-rico-part-united-states/703273001/

                    JE comments:  A hundred million or so is chicken feed when you look at the priceless benefits:  If we learn history we may not have to repeat it.  Why is it that education and culture are seen as "luxuries" for the chopping block?

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