Catching up on continuing issues

I'm in Madrid this week, again using the connection available to anyone at the Casa Encendida, where things have been -- well, if not exactly "encendidas" (burning), at least hopping, literally. A rock-rap group was performing, and the main hall was filled with people about a third my age, jumping up and down along with the band. It was fun to see such enthusiasm.

I promised a couple of weeks ago to give some thought to two persistent issues in Spain: violence against women, and the peculiarities of the housing crisis, or more accurately, crises (plural), because several different things are at work here.

I start from two assumptions, one modern and the other very ancient. The modern one, still resisted by theocrats and other believers in magic, is that "Everything is the way it is because it got that way." (Which I got from biologist D'Arcy Thompson via Daniel Dennett.) Like Charles Darwin and every other serious scientist since him, I am firmly convinced of this.

The older assumption is that everything is connected to everything else. The connections may be distractingly trivial (the butterfly's wing in one place and a traffic accident somewhere else, for example), but for large-scale social phenomena, probably useful.

Saying that women in Spain get beat up or killed by their partners because Spanish men are especially "machista" (an argument you sometimes hear) doesn't explain anything. Even if it were true, that is, if Spanish men were especially prone to such violence (which they aren't: check out the UN International Violence Against Women Survey), we'd have to ask, What made them that way? And in fact, about half the men involved aren't even Spanish but immigrants from as far away as Russia, or Bolivia, or Morocco, or the Ukraine. So how did THEY get that way?

Part of the answer is no doubt the stress on traditional family structures and expectations that occur in immigration. Great article on this: "No reconocí a mis hijos, ni ellos a mí" by J. J. Áznarez.

Casa Encendida is about to close down my computer (time's up), so I'll leave it at that for now. Thanks. More on this later. Hasta luego. I still owe you a comment on the housing problems, too.

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