It seems to me that every time I mention Catalonia I get the same question from friends and colleagues: why do some Catalans want to be independent? There is a simple answer: some Catalans want to be independent because they want to free themselves from external control (in this case, from the Spanish government). But this is only one part of the answer. The real question to ask is: what do we mean by independence in the 21st century? The Oxford Dictionary defines independence as "the fact or the state of being independent," and independent as "free from external control; not dependent on the authority of another. " In other words, when we talk about independence, we refer to what the British philosopher Isaiah Berlin called "negative freedom." The negative freedom is the freedom with respect to something or somebody. It is the absence of restrictions or impediments imposed by others (state, people, etc.) on the possible actions of an individual or a nation. In opposition to the negative freedom, Isaiah Berlin analyzes the concept of positive freedom, which refers to the idea of autonomy and the ability to decide on oneself.
Clearly, the question of Catalan independence is a mixture of negative freedom and positive freedom. The first constitutive feature of Catalan independence is to prioritize what the Catalans decide for themselves over what is imposed from outside Catalonia. Autonomy It is, in fact, the best word to designate this process of thinking for oneself and to make laws, rules and rules without any external interference. As such, the struggle for independence in Catalonia is undoubtedly a struggle for the freedom of conscience and the moral dignity of the Catalans to be accepted as the source of their own laws. If this is the case, therefore, Catalans are not mere servants of the Spanish government nor subjects of the monarchy, but the exemplary incarnation of an autonomous republic.
Of course, the spirit of Catalonia cannot be reduced to a simple demand for autonomy. It is also a form of civic humanism that is not intended to serve the Spanish Constitution, but to assume responsibility for the welfare of Catalans. The concept of responsibility is important because it demonstrates to what extent the struggle for independence in Catalonia has allowed Catalans to enter into political maturity. That is, the distinctive characteristic of the spirit of independence of Catalonia has revolved around the capacity to improve itself and improve Spain. In reality, what is more important in the life of a human being than the choice of maturity? It is a way of thinking that respects the historical legacy and at the same time it is subject to a critical analysis.
The lesson of the spirit of independence of Catalonia means that plurality can lead to three things that are important for the future of Spain and Europe: constructive tolerance, a critical political spirit and the coexistence between self and The other. After all, in a mature democracy there are multiple voices and citizens and the state is supposed to act to defend everyone's interest. This requires seeing things from the point of view of the otherness of the other. Diversity is a European tradition, but it is also autonomy and negative freedom. The free exercise of the critical spirit and maturity that allows Catalans to see things from the Spanish point of view cannot be imposed through brute force. They are the result of a dialogue with the spirit of independence of Catalonia. Unionist and separatist . History cannot be rewritten as a function of the needs of the moment. The Catalan question has consisted, in many respects, in forgetting the ends and sacramental zing the means. But to paraphrase in a lax sense, and in the Catalan context, the famous principle of humanistic morality of the German philosopher Immanuel Kant, we can say that each Catalan exists as an end in itself, not only as a means that this or that one political party or government can use at discretion; Instead, in all its actions, whether it is directed to itself or to other Europeans, it must always be considered at the same time as an end.
The spirit of independence of Catalonia cannot dictate history to those who want to continue in Spain, but neither must submit. Truth is not a matter of political parties or Constitutions. The state power has no right to decide where the truth resides. As Voltaire said: "In the presence of the truth, the parties have nothing to say, because the representatives of the people are not in the best position to seek the truth." The fact is that a dialogue in Catalonia about the idea of independence fosters the critical spirit, while a unifying discourse imposed by any authority tends to drown it. As Pascal says: "A man does not show his greatness by being placed at one end, but rather touching both at the same time". Catalonia is worthy of taking such a demanding position as this.
Ramin Jahanbegloo is the Director of the Mahatma Gandhi Center for Peace at the Global University of Jindal.