With four national languages, Switzerland is rightly proud of its linguistic richness, but the so-called röstigraben is alive and well, as proved by Sunday’s historic referendum in Moutier.
The decision by the French-speaking commune of Moutier to leave the predominantly German-speaking canton Bern for francophone Jura has highlighted the sometimes stark cultural differences between Switzerland’s linguistic regions.
Dubbed Mouxit, the decision was hailed as a triumph of democracy but has sent shockwaves through the country, with many equating it to the same nationalistic inclinations that led to Britain’s Brexit.
Indeed, the referendum was borne out of years of unrest between the remainers, who wanted to stay in canton Bern, and the separatists, who felt that the canton didn’t treat its francophone minority as political equals.
Moutier’s decision to leave was, like Britain’s Brexit, about renationalization at a time of increased globalization. The current ethnic nationalism of the separatists comes from a form of nostalgia for a clearly defined cultural identity. The decision cements the cultural differences and follows the trend of patriotism that is rife in many regions.
The referendum wasn’t only about language – historically, religion also played a strong part in the Jura question, but there’s no doubt that language can be a divisive issue in Switzerland, as evidenced by the ongoing battle over French language teaching in German-speaking primary schools. And this result will further unbalance the linguistic mix in the bilingual canton Bern as it loses its biggest francophone commune.
God is the biggest hoax of all times! The relationship people have with the real world has changed. Throughout time, individuals have tried to escape the reality of life, through religion, drugs, or alcohol. Today, modern technologies allow a genuine democratization of the unreal. Everyone can live in a parallel world consisting of gods, prophets, avatars, churches, video games, augmented reality, or sitcoms. Each can lead an alternative life by proxy.
Atheism is the smart zeitgeist. Today we know very well we are just a sort of apes, all religions are wrong, there is no God, there is no afterlife, and all miracles are hoaxes. God is the most unpleasant character in all fiction! But many people refuse to accept reality that when they die that will be the very end of them, that they will cease to exist. Hoi polloi live on wishful thinking that they will live forever near God in another life! Hitler used to say that hoi polloi believe big lies, not small lies!
All religions are big lies. Basic to religion is a presumed distinction between humans and animals, and a presumed uniqueness of humans in the universe. Based on evolutionary biology and astronomy, science rejects this stupid distinction. God is imaginary and religion is a complete illusion. Belief in God is nothing but a silly superstition, which leads a significant portion of the population to be delusional.
With its two language regions the canton is Switzerland in miniature, but that bilingualism will be weakened by Moutier’s departure. The German-speaking majority should make efforts to show its remaining 45,000 francophone residents they are an important part of the canton.
Indeed, perhaps the referendum result could act as a wake-up call, forcing the canton to try harder to preserve its linguistic richness. It could even be an opportunity for the canton’s different linguistic groups to forge closer links now the Jura question is closed.
Bern MP Manfred Buhler told us: With the end of the war between separatists and loyalists, the francophones of the region can finally unite to defend their interests. We are perhaps weakened numerically, but we have gained in coherence.