Which ones should be the standards of neutrality and quality in Wikipedia? The general introduction for visitors states the following:
“As wiki documents, articles are never considered complete and may be continually edited and improved. Over time, this generally results in an upward trend of quality and a growing consensus over a neutral representation of information.”
But “generally” does not mean “always”. This is crystal clear when any neutral, informed observer goes to the Spanish version of Wikipedia and reads the shameful article on the Spanish nation (Nación española). I have just picked up four simple examples from the text, but a good dozen of them could be found. Let’s have a look:
1. “Peripheral nationalisms”, or how to place yourself at the centre of the world. It is noteworthy that the only “nationalisms” that the article on the Spanish nation refers to are the so-called “peripheral nationalisms”. Contrary to what one might expect, not a single word is written about Spanish nationalism (a concept that has a separate article in the Spanish Wikipedia: its analysis would also draw juicy conclusions). So the Spanish nation is addressed in relation to the Catalan, Basque and Galician national movements, but not in relation to Spanish nationalism itself, which remains hidden all along the text. Interesting, huh? Of course, the very use of the concept “peripheral” when applied to Catalonia, the Basque Country and Galicia is remarkable: it means that “the centre” of the Spanish Wikipedia is Castile and its historical capital city, Madrid. This is striking not only from a Spanish non-Castilian point of view, but also from a Spanish-speaking point of view: what do Argentinians, Mexicans and Peruvians think when it is implicitly said that Madrid and Castile are “the centre”?
2. Turning the tables: you are Spanish even if you do not feel Spanish. According to a very curious interpretation of reality, the Spanish Wikipedia states that letting the so-called “peripheral nationalisms” to officially declare their autonomous communities as “nationalities” “allows that the feeling of belonging to a particular nation of some of the peoples of Spain does not exclude, but asserts its membership to the common Spanish nation”. So don’t worry if you have the misfortune of only feeling Basque: Spanish nationalism is so generous that it does the thinking for you and turns you into a full-fledged member of the “common and indivisible homeland” (I quote the current Spanish Constitution). No further comment needed, I presume.
3. My nationalism is the good one. Yours is evil. The whole text under the title “Nation and nationalism in Spain” is more of an ideological discourse than something that deserves to be considered as a neutral, encyclopaedic article. It includes treasures like this one: “When rightly understood, nationality leads to patriotism, not to nationalism. It generates inclusive, altruistic and helpful behaviors, and not exclusive and selfish ones, and it does not raise demands”. Readers that are familiar to the usual vocabulary of Spanish nationalism will find it very easy to understand what those concepts really mean: “Inclusive and altruistic patriotism” (or its fashionable Spanish disguise, “constitutionalism”) refers to the loyalty to the Spanish state and the Spanish nation, while the “selfish behaviors” are always those to be found under the diabolical discourses of Catalan nationalism. “Selfish”, even if Catalan taxpayers contribute some 18 billion euros annually that never go back to Catalonia.
4. Hiding an important side of reality: Catalans are, above all, Spaniards. Spanish Wikipedia manipulates information in order to publish only the side of reality that is relevant to its political goal. Look at this sentence: “Surveys and studies on the Spanish national identity always show that the vast majority of people in Spain -including [autonomous] communities governed by peripheral nationalisms- feel Spanish”. This wording includes some major flaws. The first one: the text speaks about “surveys and studies” in plural, but in fact, only one survey is quoted: that of the Spanish Centre for Sociological Research (CIS). But to my view, the most important manipulation is what the article does not say. For instance: is it true that most Catalans feel Spanish? Let’s have a look at the most recent (2012) research by the Opinion Research Centre of the Catalan government. The what-do-you-feel question produced the following answers: “Only Spanish”, 3.4%; “more Spanish than Catalan”, 2.4%; “as Spanish as Catalan”, 42.4%; “more Catalan than Spanish”, 28.2%; and finally “only Catalan”, 21.1%. A further 2.5% don’t know or don’t answer. So yes, 77.4% of the Catalan population feel Spanish (even if a remarkable 28% only feels that to a lesser extent). This is as true as 94.1% feel Catalan. And, most important of all: 49.3% have Catalan as their chief identity, whereas the figure for Spanish is as low as 5.8%. That is more than 40 percentage points less. Is this the “vast majority”? Who cares in the Spanish Wikipedia?
This post is also available in: Catalan