Monday, February 11, 2013

Coffee for nobody: Catalunya, la crisis and the end of Spain?


It seems strange for a nation famed for its exuberance, but Spain's national anthem, La Marcha Real, is one of only two wordless anthems in the world. It seems strange, but this reluctance to declare what Spain stands for and where it came from speaks volumes about the country's discomforting recent past, and its increasingly volatile present. 
La Marcha Real was not always wordless. Until the country's fascist dictator, Francisco Franco, died in 1975, it was full of the patriotic bombast that characterises most national anthems. The words were removed in 1978, during the country's uneasy transition to parliamentary democracy. As a mark of this uncertainty, nothing was written in their place.
I wrote the cover story for The National's weekly Review section last week, about what the Catalan push for independence means. Photos for that piece by the superlative Dave Stelfox, and you can read some of Carlos Delclós's terrific writing (in English) from Barca here.

Also, if you missed it, my November essay/reportage for The New Inquiry about the Spanish general strike, also republished in Salon here (The New Inquiry version is better, cuz it's accompanied by my strike pictures - also, you should subscribe, it costs a ridiculous $2 a month). I'm in Spain again at the moment, working on The Village Against The World, to be published by Verso this autumn.