Though separatists are asking Europeans for their support, the last thing we need is more nationalism

Watching Catalonia and Spain feels like watching a Pedro Almodóvar movie where all the characters start to act freakily. It could be Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown (in this case, a country on the verge of a nervous breakdown) or Tie Me Up! Tie Me Down! (a film about what, in the end, ties us to one another rather than separates us). Don’t get me wrong. Catalonia is a serious matter. But it is also hard not to see the hysteria, the hyperbole, the manipulation. Emotions sweep away reason; radical gestures lead to more radical gestures; passion drenches everything; the picture becomes one great confusing swirl. Can anyone still get a grip?

To sum up the current situation: we now have full-on confrontation. Not armed confrontation but political, legal, and cultural. And with large street pressure involved. The Spanish cabinet is due to meet on Saturday after the prime minister, Mariano Rajoy, indicated he wanted to trigger article 155 of the constitution, which allows the imposition of direct rule. Catalonia’s regional institutions could be disempowered.

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