A hippie van. Rear bumper reads “Flashbacks happen”

by Jack Wright


Anna Gabriel

Anna Gabriel

Fortyish congresswoman of the Parliament of Catalonia, Anna Gabriel, habitually stuns Spain, a country run in acting capacity by the conservative Popular Party, for her no-holds-barred comments. This time around she says in an interview with Catalunya Radio that she’s all for collective child-rearing; that children should be brought up collectively by “the tribe”.

Gabriel, who has been a winning candidate of the secessionist party Popular Unity Candidacy (CUP), is talking not just about collective upbringing but, more to the point, about children who will be parented by the tribe regardless of who their birth parents are. She says this is about a family that is distinct from the West’s nuclear family.

A nuclear family

A nuclear family

The tribal concept doesn’t give any special importance to biological parents and the nuclear family that, consisting only of parent/s and their few biological children, is “quite poor and doesn’t enrich (muy pobre y poco enrequicedora),” according to Gabriel. “Since one wants the best for one’s children, and these children are quite small in number, one ends up in a situation that is sometimes perverse,” she explains.

In other words, what does it matter if one does one’s best but the best is only for the few?

In the tribal family, you don’t get the feeling that only your biological children belong to you. The rest are as much yours as if you were their biological parents.

All the children in the tribe are one's own

All the children in the tribe are one’s own

Carlos Villagrasa, an authority on new family models and professor of Civil Law at the University of Barcelona, says Gabriel’s concept embraces “multiple co-parenthood”, an “extended family” that doesn’t spring from the nuclear.

However, such a family has no basis in Spanish law, according to Villagrasa. The Spanish jurisprudence limits child custody to just one or two persons.

CNT militants carrying an anti-Labor Rform banner during the May 1 Labor Day demonstration in Barcelona in 2007

CNT militants carrying an anti-Labor Reform banner during the May 1 Labor Day demonstration in Barcelona in 2007

Apparently, radicalism is inbred in Anna Gabriel. On looks alone, her dark rectangular bangs a la barroka provide a blunt frame for the various earrings that she wears. She is the extreme-left doctrine personified, an ideologue who traces her ideological roots way down to her paternal great grandfather and grandfather, old combatants of the CNT (National Confederation of Labor) of Sallent, a mining town in the province of Barcelona. The maternal side of her family is no less militant.

Witches burning at the stake

Witches burning at the stake

Somos las hijas y nietas de las brujas que no pudieron quemar (we are the daughters and granddaughters of the witches they hadn’t been able to burn at the stake),” she proclaims, alluding to the oppression of humble laborers by powerful capitalists who, nevertheless, cannot hope to prevail forever.

A social educator, apart from parliamentarian, Anna Gabriel did Law and is an associate professor of History of Law in the Autonomous University of Barcelona. Listening to her at that interview with Catalunya Radio, one gets a sense of déjà vu. Isn’t what she wants to do with children today what the hippies across America and other parts of the world tried to do in communes when she herself was just a baby in Sallent de Llobregat?

As the hippie van says on its rear bumper, “Flashbacks happen.”


> Hippy van by Marshall Astor, CC BY-SA 2.0 Generic, Flickr

> Anna Gabriel by Arnaucc, CC BY SA 4.0, cropped, via Wikimedia Commons
> Nuclear family by freedesignfile ( via Creative Commons
> Children in the tribe by freedesign file via Creative Commons

> CNT militants by Ateneu Llibertari Estel Negre, CC BY-SA 3.0
> Burning of three witches in Baden, Switzerland (1585) by Johann Jakob Wick, PD