Voters in Barcelona wait in line to cast their ballots on Sunday.
Associated Press/Photo by Photo by Emilio Morenatti
Voters in Barcelona wait in line to cast their ballots on Sunday.

Viva Catalonia?


While secession petitions gain signatures in Texas, the separatist movement that might be successful is in Catalonia, the part of northeast Spain that boasts Barcelona as its capital. Catalans have had an ebbing and flowing separatist movement for three centuries: On Sunday they elected a regional parliament with most of its members committed to separation, and more of them than before members of radical separatist parties.

The political question now is whether Catalonia, against the will of the central government in Madrid, will hold a referendum regarding independence. Spain’s economic troubles are boosting traditional Catalan separatism. Catalonia has car factories and banks responsible for one-fifth of Spain’s wealth, and Catalans often see themselves as much harder workers than their neighbors to the south. In a sense, Catalonia is to the rest of Spain as Germany is to the rest of Europe.

But my ulterior motive in reporting on Catalonia is to draw attention to one of the great books of world literature, Jose Gironella’s The Cypresses Believe in God. Set in Catalonia during the five years (1931-36) before the Spanish Civil War, its characters embody the country’s major political and social movements (in alphabetical order): anarchist, Catholic, communist, existentialist, fascist, royalist.

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The novel gets talky at times, but underlying it is the poignant story of two parents who want peace and cannot sustain it, and two sons—one phlegmatic, one saintly. It also shows how a country unravels to the point where people show which side they’re on by the shirts and shoes they wear. The names of the political movements are different now, but the novel—published in 1953 and translated into English in 1955—is a warning to us.

Marvin Olasky
Marvin Olasky

Marvin is editor in chief of WORLD News Group and the author of more than 20 books, including The Tragedy of American Compassion. Follow Marvin on Twitter @MarvinOlasky.


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