As well as being a threat to our coexistence, the Catalan conflict also provides an opportunity to redraw our territorial and socio-political organisation to face the challenges of the 21st century. Thus I present nine proposals that we should be thinking beyond the state and independence, and instead get behind interdependence and diversity:
1. Any proposal for territorial organisation is not an end in itself, it is a tool to achieve a greater end. Based on the principle of social and environmental justice, today the main objective is to ensure, by democratic, peaceful and inclusive means, that we can all live well within the limits of the planet.
2. We are ecodependent and interdependent beings. Not only do humans depend physically on nature in order to breathe and to live, but we as individuals and societies all depend on one another. Globalisation, migration and climate change have still further strengthened the effective breaking down of frontiers and the surge in real interconnection between people, communities, territories, states and continents. Just as we are unable to escape the law of gravity, we are unable to escape from this law of mutual dependence.
3. There is no such thing as independence. Spain does not have independence within the European Union (where part of its effective sovereignty currently lies), while Catalonia, for many historical, political and sociological reasons, shares deep ties of interdependence with the rest of Spanish (and European) territory. Faced with this obstinate reality, the great challenge of the 21st century is not that of maintaining chimerical independence or constructing romantic independence, it is – as Edgar Morin’s analysis shows – knowing how to manage the complexity and “the interdependence of facts”.
4. There is no such thing as exclusive and absolute sovereignty. The “glocalisation” of interdependence presupposes that sovereignty is by definition shared between multiple levels of political, economic and private decision making from the most local to the most global. The sooner we take this on board, the sooner we will be able to design systems, institutions and policies of shared sovereignty, or better said, those of cooperation between networks and nodes that are simultaneously autonomous, interrelated and mutually supportive.
5. Our societies are profoundly pluralistic and heterogeneous. Moreover, with global migration, culturally, socially or politically homogeneous peoples (be they Catalan or Spanish) simply do not exist. From the point of view of nationality, religion, sexual orientation, gender, ideology, etc., what predominates is collective and personal identities which are mixed and complex, different multitudes and individualities: a society of minorities, in other words. Thus, the path is not the Brexit-style polarisation, confrontation and fragmentation of the 50+1 but the construction of consensus across society to unite broad social and pluralistic majorities.
6. All societies are plurinational. The world and Europe are plurinational. Spain is plurinational. Catalonia is plurinational. So are Barcelona and Madrid. Even our local neighbourhoods and many individuals are plurinational. Plurinationality is not an aggregate of culturally and nationally homogeneous peoples, but the recognition, the integration and the handling of this diversity of national identities and their democratic coexistence from micro to macro: citizen, neighbourhood, town, region, country, continent, and world.
7. The nation-state is not the only way of organising our societies. Whether they already exist or have yet to be created, great or small in size, globalisation overrides them from above and relocalisation undermines them from below. This is not the end of the state, nor the end of the nation, but it calls for the reinvention of both concepts and an in-depth socio-political reorganisation. Let us denationalise the state and de-statise the nation so that other forms can emerge based on pluralism, complexity and interdependence.
8. The more transnational the issue, the more global is the scope of decisions, and the more local, the closer. In a system where the state is not the centre but one more link in an interdependent network, the competence lies at the most relevant and effective level of intervention. Via this “subsidiarity principle” and its federal nature (at every level), each level of institutional power (neighbourhood, municipal, regional, national, European, global) is self-governing with its own competence, sharing non-exclusive powers and sovereignty, and works with other nodes in a cooperative and mutually supportive manner.
9. Human, civil and social rights must be freed from their territorial affiliations. As Zygmunt Bauman has shown, this is the logical consequence of recognising the globalisation of human interdependence and the limitations imposed by territorial states, institutions and sovereignties. While today having full rights depends on whether you have the nationality of the country in which you are, tomorrow rights should be independent of nationality (and other identity-based conditions like religion, politics, etc.). You would have rights by being a citizen and anyone could be a citizen regardless of origin or nationality, if they subscribe to the transnational social contract.
As reflected in the universal declaration of interdependence, interdependence is a project which commits us to taking action to defend and promote the common values and interests of humanity on the basis of diversity. And this starts here, with the slice of Catalan, Spanish and European land in which, by chance, we happen to live.
Florent Marcellesi is a Member of European Parliament in the Greens/EFA Group and of EQUO (Spanish Greens). This article was originally published in CTXT.