Referendums on independence are for pussies

Serious separatists will drive on the left, in Vic, starting Sunday.

Trebots @ Tuesday September 8th 2009 12:40

María Teresa Fernández de la Vega--aka the Iberian Schwarzenegger--was playing into Cataloony hands when she threw a fit the other day at the absurd quasi-referendum in Arenys de Munt, which is actually of as much general relevance as me consulting my neighbour about whether Beckham should play in the World Cup. UDI not being on the cards, the small but aggressive minority that wants independence will surely only achieve oxymoronic freedom within the EU via one of two routes

  1. Pay the rest of Spain in order to be allowed to secede, as Albert Boadella proposes. The widespread illusion that Cataloonia is already being cheated makes it unlikely that this will gain support.
  2. Make itself such a genuine nuisance that the rest of Spain will walk away from the troublesome region. This is the way forward (or backwards, or sideways as it turns out).

Since one fascist (think I'm kidding? Scroll to 1:52: it's pure (British) National Front/Le Pen) asking his mates whether they agree with him is not even a mild irritation, Kalebeul has got together with several bollockbrained flagsturbators and devised a better strategy which will

  1. Drive Spain to despair
  2. Help develop the Cataloonia brand
  3. Cause neglibible cost to the region's long-suffering inhabitants.

Traditionally, transport action in Cataloonia involves a dozen farmers on tractors driving slowly along a motorway in order to dump several tons of dead stuff outside government offices. Since the principal consequence of this approach is a general belief that the farming community consists of a handful of filthy retards, it should be rejected forthwith. But guerrilla transport tactics can provide the way forward.

Our proposal

  1. Starting 06:00 CET Sunday September 13 in Vic, all drivers will be encouraged by peaceful means to drive on the left.
  2. Vic has been chosen as first site for the rollout of this campaign because municipal election results demonstrate high levels of support for Catalanist parties, ranging from mildly totalitarian to neo-Nazi, and all with at least some kind of commitment to independence.
  3. Given general support for the initiciative, there is no reason why problems should be greater than on Samoa, which made the same switch successfully yesterday morning.
  4. The Vic police are known both for their incompetence and lack of Hispanic patriotism, and are unlikely to act.
  5. Changeover points will be erected on the outskirts of town, and gradually shifted out into the surrounding country as the revolution takes hold. Online guides will be maintained indicating which settlements drive on which side. (18th and 19th century guides like Daniel Paterson's A new and accurate description of all the direct and principle cross roads in England and Wales sometimes contained this information). Day trips will be organised for Barcelona's Cataloonies that they may experience driving in liberated territory.
  6. In symbolic terms, driving on the left illustrates a rejection of the right-side standardisation adopted in 1924 by the dictatorships respectively de jure and de facto of Primo de Rivera and Mussolini. (Prior to this Madrid drove on the left, Barcelona on the right, and rarely the twain did meet.) The fact that the politics and methods of the nationalists owe more to Miguel and Benito than to modern democratic culture will be artfully concealed in the "anti-fascist" bluster thus generated.
  7. Swapping to the left and thus adopting British preferences will also serve as a reminder to Perfidious Albion of what Cataloonies believe is a debt owing from the War of the Spanish Succession: Gibraltar was taken from the Bourbons with the aid of Catalan Hapsburg-ists, but the Brits (quite wisely) didn't return the favour when the Bourbon army laid siege to Barcelona.

Please leave your comments below, bearing in mind that if you disagree you are an anti-patriot and a Nazi.

General observations

I believe London was the first place to achieve informal two-way foot and vehicle traffic (see other posts on taking and giving the wall, aka pavement proxemics), and this surely contributed in a small way to its global dominance. Here's Benjamin Silliman's A journal of travels in England, Holland and Scotland, compiled around 1805:

The crowds that are almost constantly moving through the principal streets in London, are so great, that if a very exact etiquette were not observed, it would be impossible to move either with expedition or safety. The coaches, carts, and vehicles of all descriptions, are arranged in two rows, (whenever the street is crowded,) one on the right, and the other on the left, passing in opposite directions, like a revolving rope, or the return of an eddy. In Cheapside, for example, I have sometimes seen a double row of this kind, extending towards Cornhill, as far as the eye could distinguish, and occasionally carriages passing upon the cross streets, or foot passengers wishing to pass over, have been compelled to wait a considerable time. The principal streets of London are furnished with side-walks, both wide and well flagged, and upon these a similar etiquette is observed with great precision, and that even at night; for, in general, the great streets are so well lighted, both by the lamps and by the shops, that one may in many instances recognize his acquaintance. The rule is, keep to the right, and, of course, give those whom you are passing, your left hand. This, of course, divides the passengers into two opposite, but not interfering currents; one half are moving one way, and the other half the opposite. In the great thorough-fares, such as Oxford road, Holborn, Cheapside, Cornhill, Ludgate Hill, and the Strand, it is quite indispensable to observe the rule; and if one, either through accident or ignorance, happens to get into the opposite current, he is elbowed and jostled, and his toes are trodden upon, till he is again in his proper place. You will not understand that every street in London exhibits this order, or that it is necessary in every one. But, in such streets as are named above, and other similar ones, it is often amusing to survey from a shop door, these vast currents of busy moving mortals. To an American, dropped in London, in the busiest periods of the day, and busiest parts of the town, it would seem as if some great solemnity, or alarm, had called all the population into the streets, and congregated them from the neighbouring country. On the contrary, it is said, that, to a person familiarized to London, the first view of our cities suggests the idea that some peculiar occasion has drawn the population from the streets, to the churches, or to the country. It is easy to see, however, that our city population must have vastly the advantage in point of accommodation, because they have much more room to live in.

The French on the other hand failed to adopt the Revolution's right-hand rule, and business must have suffered as a result. Here's Edward Planta a decade later in A new picture of Paris, or, The stranger's guide to the French metropolis:

Throughout the ancient part, and in the centre, of Paris, the streets are narrow, dark, and dirty. Few of them have pavements for the accommodation of foot-passengers ; and the pitching of the streets is composed of uneven stones, on which it is extremely unpleasant to walk, particularly in wet weather.

The coachmen have no established rule by which they drive on the right or left of the road, but they cross and jostle one another without ceremony. They drive close to the very doors of the houses, and either cover the foot-passenger with mud, or endanger his limbs or his life. The Paris Jehu has not the slightest regard for the comfort or safety of the pedestrian; he gives him little notice, although his horses are close upon him, and ready to trample him down; yet the accidents which occur from this infamous practice are not so numerous as might be expected. Were it not for a few large stones which project from some of the houses, and the receding doorways of others, the disasters of the streets would form a more conspicuous item than they now do in. the bills of mortality.

On account of the irregular and confused manner of driving through the streets of Paris, it is inconvenient, and even dangerous, to appear in them on horseback. The traveller will, therefore, have no temptation to take his Bucephalus to the Continent; or should he be determined to sport his charger in Paris, his rides will be confined to the Boulevards, the Champs Elysces, the wood of Boulogne, and the banks of the Seine. For the same reason, the gig and curricle should be left in England.

The inconvenience and danger of traversing the streets of Paris, together with the comparative poverty of the higher classes in France, will account for the small number of gentlemen's carriages that are seen in the French metropolis. Fiacres and cabriolets roll along in abundance ; but the splendid equipages which crowd the British capital are thinly scattered in the streets of Paris.

The pedestrian is not only exposed to continual danger from the carriages, but the air and sun being almost completely excluded by the height of the houses, and there being few subterranean drains, a stream of black mire constantly runs through many of the streets ; and they are as wet and dirty in the middle of summer as the streets of the British metropolis are in the depth of winter.

This stream in the centre of the road often becomes a rapid torrent. It requires no inconsiderable agility to leap across it, and the driver of the cabriolet delights in plentifully spattering its black and disgusting contents on the unfortunate pedestrian. In dirty weather it is absolutely necessary for the stranger, and even for the native, to avail himself of a fiacre or cabriolet to traverse the more crowded and unpleasant streets.

I personally hope that the growth of the information economy will enable us shortly to abolish all laws governing dynamics on public thoroughfares--anarchy will surely reduce speed and accidents, favour pedestrian and bicycle traffic, and, crucially, make immigrants from Bombay feel immediately at home.

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  1. Almogàver
    September 10th 2009 16:29

    Good post! Visca Catalunya!

  2. Trevor
    September 10th 2009 18:14

    Irony aside, some real direct action at last! Perhaps not all Catalan nationalists are cowards.

  3. A Nun
    September 11th 2009 12:40

    The Diada is different this year. All the Catalan flags have disappeared from my block, and at the Casanova monument the main rentamob consisted of trade unionists, not nationalists. Like the 1920s when radical leftism eclipsed radical nationalism in Barcelona?

  4. Trevor
    September 11th 2009 14:30

    Of the two Catalan flags and one Spanish on this block last year, only the Spanish one is up today--put up by the inhabitants to pi$$ off the nationalists.

    The parallel with the eclipse of Catalan nationalism by Leninism post WWI strikes me as pleasingly nostalgic more than relevant. I liked Miquel Saumell's contrasting of the ban on pro-democracy demonstrators in Madrid (for fear they might embarrass the Venezuelan dictator) with the permit to march for the anti-democratic Falange, as well as other anti-democratic Catalanist/leftist movements, in Arenys del Munt.

  5. “el Primo”
    September 11th 2009 16:01

    this is really something isn't it? at last you have a story to tell to your grandchildren... "it was back in 2004... in my block, there was a spanish flag... no catalan flag in sight... the nationalists were pi$$ed off..."

  6. Trevor
    September 12th 2009 00:11

    I certainly hope the great annual tradition of the entire population of a backward mountain village trying to find a waiter in the Born who speaks Catalan doesn't die out. En passant, I'm informed that the staff of a well-known museum in the district were told to try to speak English to all customers today to avoid betraying the fact that none of them have more than a passing acquaintance with Pompeu Fabra.

  7. A Nun
    September 14th 2009 01:39

    It's the influenza epidemic that has me convinced that we're in a re-run of the 1920s. Primo declared the dictatorship from Barcelona. Hard act to follow?

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