Politics of the subjunctive
The world of marketing loves differentiation. “We are differentiating our product according to brand attributes in line with customer values, psychographics and demographics for the millennial generation and, going forward, for the post-millennial epoch.” Or some such load of old nonsense. The world of politics doesn’t love differentiation. Instead it loves unsorted clutter: whole loads of rag-tag, unkempt parties or groupings thrown on to a heap marked THE LEFT. This at least is what one has to conclude in Majorca thanks to the emergence of something called Guanyem. What the hell is Guanyem? Those Catalan speakers among you will know. Guanyem. We win. Or, in the subjunctive mode, hypothetically we might win. One imagines they (we) mean the former.
We’s are the flavour of the leftist month and months at present: Podemos, we can, we are able to. There is no additional subjunctive equivocation where Podemos are concerned. We can. Not, we might in theory be able to. Herein lies the differentiation perhaps. Guanyem aren’t sure. Podemos are. But this still doesn’t answer the question who the we-winners are. Let me explain. They emerged in Barcelona a couple of months or more ago, proclaiming that they were a “third way”. Third way!? Where have we heard that before. They’re not Blair in disguise, are they? On being launched, it was suggested that Podemos would be integrated within them. Together we can win, or something like this, I guess. If this was truly the case, then Podemos in a Majorcan style hasn’t been informed, as when Guanyem in Majorca announced itself to the island last weekend, Podemos were apparently “indifferent”. Perhaps Podemos were smelling the rat of their thunder being stolen (if I’m allowed to mix idioms in such an abject fashion). Pablo Iglesias had after all appeared to go all soft and project Podemos as a social-democrat party, a bit of a third way in itself but with a Nordic flavour, which was all slightly odd. Hadn’t Zapatero also taken the path of a part-Scandinavian “tercera via”, his own third way?
It does, I’m afraid, all get terribly complicated. Left-wing parties here, left-wing coalitions there (or not), left-wing dilutions elsewhere. To describe the left as being cluttered is something of an understatement. The left is a wardrobe packed full of political textbooks and dialectics which when opened brings all this non-differentiation crashing down on a confused electorate, and one, moreover, which is likely to get increasingly turned off by the sheer volume that has been turned on by the left. Meanwhile, the Partido Popular can continue in blissful isolation on the right. Hypothetically, it should be capable of beating this pick ‘n’ mix of the left, but only in the subjunctive sense.
The acronyms of education
Things have been rather quiet on the education front over the past couple of weeks. This wasn’t because the teachers had suddenly decided to meekly follow orders and apply trilingual teaching with joyful enthusiasm, it was because they were doing their prep for their own elections. They had a day off last week so that votes could be cast for membership of the Board of Non-University Teaching Personnel.
This is a board with 43 representatives. Why 43? I have no idea, but 43 there are and they do whatever it is that they, as a board, do, which also isn’t that clear.
But if the party political left is a casserole of ingredients bubbling away and blending into an indistinguishable single stew, then the teaching left - and one can assume that for the most part it is left - is a dog’s breakfast of unions with incomprehensible acronyms.
Except that is for the Alternativa, the union formed by the Assemblea de Docents, the self-appointed main agitators of anti-TIL. They are not an acronym, they are Alternativa, and what’s more they have secured eight of the 43 places on the board, the remaining 35 being made up of the UOB, ANPE, FETE-UGT, FE-CCOO and STEI-i. Together they form an examination paper for high-school pupils. Define the above and discuss, as in what is the point of them all.
The answer to this seems to be their individual wishes for educational power. An aspect of the strife in Majorca’s schools which is sometimes overlooked is that the different unions have been vying for the conch and so to be the loudest voice.
Whatever the failings of the regional government’s education policies, one does have some sympathy when the education ministry is faced with having to deal with all the acronymous competitors among the unions.
Specialised non-differentiation of tourism
Back in the relatively real world of tourism promotion (and its reality is all relative, admittedly), minister Jaime Martínez and the boss were able to glow in the glory of the announcement as to the promotional masterplan for 2015. If I am not very much mistaken, the three million euros budget is a ten per cent rise on this year; never let it be said that the boat isn’t being pushed out. For this three million, the Balearics will enjoy being promoted through 158 “actions”, which include presence at specialised travel fairs. So, as has been the case since Carlos Delgado dispensed with promotional frippery like telly advertising, off will trot some tourism agency sorts to the likes of the Liechtenstein Toadfanciers Fair. Wildlife and nature are of course very much part of a promotional drive that has turned Majorca into the 365-day-a-year, packed-to-the-tourism gunwales destination that it isn’t. The Majorcan Midwife Toad will be 2015’s Big Thing. Well, actually it won’t be, as 2015, by happy coincidence, marks the 700th anniversary of the death of all-round clever clogs egghead Majorcan Ramon Llull and the 100th anniversary of the death of the Archduke Louis Salvador who, by a further happy coincidence, had Llull’s old gaffe the Miramar among his property portfolio. But are we hearing anything about a big promotional drive for these two revered names of Majorcan culture? Pass.
Llull and the Archduke might just represent some form of differentiation. I mean, not everywhere had someone who wrote the first European novel and another whose life’s work (part of his life anyway) was the compilation of books (which covered all aspects of Majorcan and Balearics existence) unparalleled in any other tourist destination. But non-differentiation is the name of the game, so there will be yet more specialisation devoted to non-specialised sectors such as gastronomy. Still, as Jaime is a one-man gastronomy tour of his own, then what can you expect?