We are developing the social individualist meta-context for the future. From the very serious to the extremely frivolous... lets see what is on the mind of the Samizdata people.

Samizdata, derived from Samizdat /n. - a system of clandestine publication of banned literature in the USSR [Russ.,= self-publishing house]

Not quite an ‘homage to Catalonia’: making sense of the recent upheaval

Editor’s note: this was posted by commenter ‘Onkayaks’ under the article: “Only in Spain is a man’s mistress uglier than his wife”. As this has the virtue of being written by someone who has local knowledge, it seemed worth promoting to an article.

For the sake of disclosing my personal predilections, I ought to state that I am a Spaniard who was mostly schooled in Catalonia, and that I do not favour secession. Most of my friends do, though.

To Berenguer Alpicat: Catalans do have their own Romanic language, a wealth of cultural traditions, while a sizeable and vocal percentage but not yet and absolute majority, of the population supports independence. However, Catalonia has never been independent, neither as a nation state nor as feudal counties. The idea that “Catalans are different people” is true in the same sense that Geordies are known for drinking everyone under the table and for their amazing accent.

Regarding the police action against the poll stations, I must add that though I am not much a police person myself, the standards of Spain’s police forces for civility may be below the British one, but certainly they are Pollyanna if compared to France, Germany or Switzerland, and certainly Catalonia’s, whose local police has a dubious record of dead and injured detainees while under custody. Truth is the police action on the polling stations was hoped for, and scrupulously provoked by the Nationalists who relied -wisely- on their impact on foreign media. As for the number of people injured, one day after the events, just four are still in hospitals, while the rest have needed ambulatory medical assistance. Adding to that, a good number of the most blatant photos of injuries have proven false or doctored. I know however, first hand of a case of a friend of mine whose wife and son were harassed by police officers, and one of the car’s windows broken after they took a photo of a police patrol in the outskirts of Girona. My friend though, did not press charges as no one was injured, and the police officers excused themselves after the incident.

The reason of deploying anti-riot police yesterday —I believe they were grossly misused by the Home Office— was because for more than three years the Catalan Regional Government had announced its intention to secede from Spain after holding a vote in the region. It is true that they have asked repeatedly for an agreed plan for a referendum; it is also true however, that their offers amounted very much to: “We’ll hold a secession referendum, or we’ll hold a secession referendum”.

As for the real deal: taxes. Nationalist claim that Catalonia is overtaxed, and that it receives in return less than it pays to the Treasury. This is true. Basques on the contrary are not overtaxed as a territory as they keep a tax convention that is very favourable, and that the Catalan Nationalist rejected in the draft of the Constitution, or so I’ve read. However the point is that the Spanish tax system does not take into account the territory, but just wealth that is taxed progressively. This does not bode well for individuals making money in Catalonia, nor it does for wealthy chaps elsewhere in Spain. There have been endless op-eds about tax balances between Catalonia v. Spain, but most papers agree that if the odious effect of taxes is examined on territories, Madrid comes out far worse in Catalonia, and I have the feeling that the Balearic Islands are if we believe that places share our pangs and worries, experiencing the same problem.

Again on taxes: the Catalan Regional Government —the right term is Autonomous Community, but I’ll refer to it as Regional for the sake of clarity though I know how much the term regional offends Nationalist— leans on heavier taxes than the Government of Spain does, and that is saying a lot. Taking into consideration that the same enthusiastic approach to taxes is shared by the parties that endorse independence, and that Spain is so de-centralized a country that most of public spending is done by the regional governments, it is safe to say that the meme of a prosperous Catalonia deprived of their tax revenue by undeveloped Spaniards, is nothing but a sophism. In short it is individuals who are unfairly taxed at disproportionate rates, not territories, and if so, rural Catalonia is the one milking wealthy Barcelonans, and not Spain.

Yet, would the Nationalists had made the case for an independent country outside the EU with rule of law, reasonable taxes, a sensible degree of bank secrecy, I would have started polishing my Catalan, and considering a move since day one. Sadly, the project is wildly different.

To resume it my opinion, the case for independence in Catalonia rests not in History, nor in actual grievances, nor in a oppressed culture by Franco (which begs the questions of how then was possible that literary awards were hosted in Catalan right after the Civil War, and why it is not possible for schoolboys to study their curricula in Spanish language anywhere in Catalonia but in a few private schools), but in the perceived wrongs instilled by Nationalism, a longeur of what could have been in an imaginary country would they have been left alone, a desire that transcends patriotism as the abiding purpose of every Nationalist is to force their wishes on other people living in their territory, the passion to fulfil the duty to spread their own language to the detriment of rival languages, the urgent obsession to doctor History school books removing facts, and placing the focus of Geography in Catalonia.

In short, as much as I like Catalonia, I abhor Nationalism as backward. As a ending note, I leave this quotes from Orwell who knew and liked Catalonia well, and from a favourite Czech of mine, Ernest Gellner:

“Every nationalist is haunted by the belief that the past can be altered. He spends part of his time in a fantasy world in which things happen as they should.”
—George Orwell

“(Nationalism believes that) just as every girl should have a husband, preferably her own, so every culture must have its state, preferably its own.”
—Ernest Gellner

“Nationalism is not the awakening of nations to self-consciousness; it invents nations where they do not exist…”
—Ernest Gellner

Tweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookShare on TumblrShare on RedditShare on Google+Share on VKEmail this to someone

80 comments to Not quite an ‘homage to Catalonia’: making sense of the recent upheaval

  • lucklucky

    “….it invents nations where they do not exist…”

    And that is good. We need many more nations.

  • Paul Marks

    Madrid can not just keep saying “we will not allow a vote” – there must be a free-and-fair vote (the vote on Sunday was a mess – although Madrid was mainly to blame for it being a mess) and Madrid must RESPECT THE RESULT OF THE VOTE.

    Voting is not perfect – most certainly not. But violent suppression of the majority of people is worse.

    This is NOT 1861 and the United States – no one can say “what about the black slaves – they did not get a vote on secession”.

    Madrid can call a new vote if it wants to do that – but it can not just keep saying “we will not recognise any vote”.

  • Darrell

    Stephen Maturin, in O’Brian’s Aubrey/Maturin series, was an advocate of Catalonian independence over 200 years ago. I guess it’s been a thing for a long time, or was it O’Brian’s beliefs impressed onto his character?

  • This is the second argument I’ve seen from someone from Spain who is not Catalonian saying that Catalonia shouldn’t be independent. The other one basically said “because the people running the independence movement aren’t saints.” Neither argument is remotely persuasive. If anything, the two Spaniard’s arguments against Catalonian independence have served to convince me (as someone who wasn’t aware of the issue before the recent vote-related oppression) that if that’s the best they can do there really isn’t any good reason why Catalonia _shouldn’t_ be independent.

  • Watchman

    Whilst Catalonia has not been independent, it should be pointed out that the Kingdom of Aragon was one of the two constituents of modern Spain (with Castille – no idea what happened to Navarre to end up in there), and that Catalonia was the bulk of the territory and population of this kingdom. So it is disingenious to say that there has been no Catalan independence – akin to claiming there has never been Welsh independence because there was no Welsh kingdom (despite the fact a number of kingdoms existed in the territory that is now Wales).

    And the Catalans were in the Frankish empire, whilst the other Spanish groups were not, so there is another clear distinction there.

    It is also all irrelevant – if people wish to self-determine to be a Catalan state, or a state of Girona, or a state of that nice row of houses you can see as you land at Girona airport, that should be up to them. History does not provide all the answers. I might doubt the referendum just held proves that desire.

  • Onkayaks

    Hi Darrell,

    Maturin is a good character, and an ardent Catalan Nationalist in Patrick O’Brian’s books. However, such explicit Nationalism is anachronistic at the time of the book series (Master and Commander, the first book, opens in 1800), and as far as I know, the first indisputable records of Catalan Nationalism date to 1879, which makes sense as Nationalism is an offspring of German Romanticism, and the 1848 revolutions.

  • Darrell

    Thanks for the reply, Onkayaks. Yes, I saw the time of the beginning of Catalan independence movement while reading around; that’s what made me wonder about O’Brian’s own feelings on the matter being shown through his character’s.

  • Watchman

    I also note the fun argument that the nationalists set up the Spanish police to be violent. Amazing bit of planning that, but didn’t it sort of depend on the Spanish police acting in a certain way which you would kind of hope a police force would not react in when faced with non-violent protest. It would have made the nationalists look like the thugs. But as the police seemed unable to act in a proportionate manner (only four people not involved in a crime still in hospital, with others with injuries treated at the scence is definetly still not proportionate), then we have to ask did the nationalists have to set them up to act like this, or did they just act like this anyway, regardless of what the nationalists planned.

    And the paragraphs on taxes are seriously flawed. Firstly, I would point out in the same thread I mentioned taxes and specifically said Madrid was likely to be a bigger net contributor to the tax take than Catalonia – it is the financial centre and capital after all. So to pick this out as the comparator (along with the Balaerics, where the tax take depends on a relatively small number of wealthy residents, which is probably not seen as unfair in the same way) is a bit disingenious. The other seventeen regions in Spain though are definetly poorer, and there is no doubt that wealth flows from Catalonia to these other areas (as it does from Madrid, and apparently the Balaerics). There is no problem with this within a state, but it is a rational objection to being in a state.

    Secondly, the flow of wealth from Catalonia is separate from the fact that Catalonia tends towards high taxation. Yes, the region is probably the major cause of taxation on Catalans, but a non-negligible share of the tax raised does go to other regions and the central government. The Catalans have selected to have high taxation anyway, which is their democratic right (they seem to tend to vote left), but the proportion of their tax this causes to be locally spent is only relevant if the argument is about the whole tax take, not just the taxes transferred out of Catalonia, which is not the way I have seen it expressed.

  • Onkayaks

    Watchman wrote:

    “… Catalonia was the bulk of the territory and population of this kingdom (Aragon). So it is disingenious to say that there has been no Catalan independence – akin to claiming there has never been Welsh independence because there was no Welsh kingdom (despite the fact a number of kingdoms existed in the territory that is now Wales).
    And the Catalans were in the Frankish empire, whilst the other Spanish groups were not, so there is another clear distinction there.”

    Hi Watchman,

    I am not a History buff, but the Catalan counties were tiny in comparison with the rest of the Kingdom of Aragon. As for relative population, I have not the data at hand but perhaps Catalans were not a majority as they suffered a demographic crisis, stagnation and economic decline from the mid-14th century to the 16th century.

    Regarding the Kingdom of Navarre, it was not included in the dinastic union of Aragon and Castille. Iberian Navarre was conquered by Ferdinand de Aragon in 1524, while the territories of Navarre north of the Pyrenees fell in 1528.

    Finally, the Catalan counties were indeed vassals for a time to the Frankish Empire, but so were Northern swathes of Aragon, Navarra, and the Basques to name a few.

    In short, History is fascinating but it does not make any of us very unique edelweisses.

  • Sam Duncan

    “Yet, would the Nationalists had made the case for an independent country outside the EU with rule of law, reasonable taxes, a sensible degree of bank secrecy, I would have started polishing my Catalan, and considering a move since day one. Sadly, the project is wildly different.”

    I felt much the same about Scotland. It’s easy to say that the libertarian position should always be to support the fragmentation of government wherever possible, but that doesn’t take into consideration the possibility that people might wish to create a new state in order to increase and centralize its power.

    Mr. Ed said it very well in the other thread:

    It seems to me that the Catalan nationalists in power are worse than the SNP in Scotland, whose main fear is that their tyranny, or paradise to them. could be undone in an afternoon in Westminster, and whose hatred of England is an implicit recognition of a vestigial association of England with freedom.

    “… the perceived wrongs instilled by Nationalism, a longeur of what could have been in an imaginary country would they have been left alone, a desire that transcends patriotism as the abiding purpose of every Nationalist is to force their wishes on other people living in their territory, the passion to fulfil the duty to spread their own language to the detriment of rival languages, the urgent obsession to doctor History school books removing facts, and placing the focus of Geography in Catalonia.”

    Oh, yes. That all sounds very familiar. I didn’t know the Gellner quote, but it articulates something I realised a long time ago. And luckylucky, you miss the point. The Scotland the SNP are trying to create is a nation I simply don’t recognise as my own; its “traditions” are not mine, its “language” (hah!) is not mine, its history is invented. They’re creating difference where there is none, and conflict for the sake of it. And it’s all in the name of control.

    “I also note the fun argument that the nationalists set up the Spanish police to be violent.”

    Set up? No. Hoped they would be. And yes, it was provocation. They broke the law. It may be a bad law, but they were repeatedly advised against this course of action by their own lawyers. They knew what they were doing, and presumably knew what the response would be. Again, as I said in the other thread, neither side comes out of this as the good guys; by being stupidly heavy-handed, the Spanish government played right into their hands.

    “It seems a dreadful indignity to have a soul controlled by geography.” – George Santayana.

  • Laird

    @ Paul Marks: “Madrid can not just keep saying ‘we will not allow a vote’ . . . .”

    Of course it can. And it properly should. It’s analogous to California deciding to hold a referendum on leaving the United States. Much as I might desire such to occur, the US isn’t going to permit it to happen. (Some of us tried that once, remember? The outcome was less than ideal.) Why would any nation agree to that? The recent Scottish referendum was a true aberration, unprecedented (as far as I know) in the history of nations. A region secedes from a nation only by force, not by plebiscite.

  • The recent Scottish referendum was a true aberration

    It really should be the norm.

    unprecedented (as far as I know) in the history of nations.

    The unmaking of Czechoslovakia?

  • Slartibartfarst

    @Laird wrote, October 3, 2017 at 4:46 pm:

    “…A region secedes from a nation only by force, not by plebiscite. …”

    Well, that certainly seems to be a repeated lesson of history, thus the Scottish referendum would indeed seem to have been a distinct anomaly.

    Some people (not me, you understand) might say that the Catalonians may need to be taught the lesson again, possibly having forgotten the lesson initially driven home when Franco personally requested of the Germans and Italians the aerial Bombing of Guernica in 1937 (thus opening the way to the capture of Bilbao and his victory in northern Spain), but I couldn’t possibly comment.

  • Watchman

    Onkayaks,

    Bugger – risk of doing things from memory. You’re right about Aragon – I forgot about the crown lands. Thanks for the Navarre info.

    As to the Frankish stuff, whilst some of northern Aragon might have been technically Frankish, the Basques never were (after Roncevalles they seem to have been left alone in return for vague gestures of respect). The area that became Navare probably was but has no useful history I can see (which might be significant considering the Carolingians tended to leave a literate society behind – the Catalans produced thousands of documents from this period.

    Catalonia was conceptually part of the Frankish Empire, and French kingdom, long after it was really independent – they were using the names of the French kings for authority (and possibly coinage) into the tenth century.

    But this is all five hundred or a thousand years ago. It is pretty irrelevant to modern identity-based nationalism to be honest, since you can create that from any mix of truth and falsehood (and worse, Mel Gibson movies) that you wish.

  • Watchman

    Sam Duncan,

    I suspect that a conflict between centrists and nationalists is pretty much every freedom-loving individualist’s idea of a clash of two evils. But in this one I have to favour the side that did not use paramilitary force, even if only mildly, as the rule of law here is questionable. Still, the nationalists here are only preferable because their actions have so far been more restrained.

    Laird,

    I still reckon South Carolina should try again. Third time lucky and all that… Seriously though, why would we expect a democratic, liberal (this might rule out the federal government) nation to not allow a section of the population to leave if they wish to do so. Your logic suggests the EU (which is effectively a super-nation) should not have let the UK leave after all. Just because in the past people were less perfect does not mean we cannot strive for perfection today remember.

  • Henry Cybulski

    Just a note from someone who has lived in Catalonia 25 years. The independence movement here did not start as a grassroots movement. Sure, there were a lot of Catalans that grumbled about Madrid and favored separation but there wasn’t a groundswell about it. Instead opportunistic regional politicians decided to push the idea big time a while back and, yes, it picked up support but the real impetus was due to Madrid’s intransigence to even address complaints (real or imagined) and its increasingly strong-arm tactics. As a result, separatism was embraced by ever increasing number of Catalans.

    FWIW, I’m not in favor of independence but believed the referendum should have been allowed.

  • Mr Ed

    Of course today, 27 years ago, German unity was once again achieved, with the unloved East Germany being adsorbed back into the newest ‘Reich’, bringing back in with it the political toxic bacillus of Merkel. Unity is not always good, and the more toxic strains of thought in a country, the less likely that the sickly patient freedom will survive.

  • Onkayaks

    Perry de Havilland wrote:

    unprecedented (as far as I know) in the history of nations.

    The unmaking of Czechoslovakia?

    Thank you for pointing it out, Perry. The dissolution of Czechoslovaquia is an example that I think about now and then. Regardless of the differences from Spain, here the Czechs —the Nationalists who promoted a sort of Austro-Slavism to protect the Slavic speaking peoples of Central Europe against Russian and German threats— agreed in 1992 to part ways dissolving a Czechoslovaquia created in 1918 by joining were Czech-speaking and industrial, Bohemia and Moravia, before under Austrian rule, with the agrarian Slovakia, before part of Hungary.

    To top it all the agreement was signed in Villa Tugendhat in Černá Pole, Brno, a house designed Mies van del Rohe for a Jewish family whose son died in the Holocaust, that had been seized by the Gestapo in 1939, and that in 1945 served as quarters and stables for the cavalry regiment of Marshal Malinovský.

  • Jacob

    “Bombing of Guernica in 1937”
    Guernica is in Basque country, not Catalonia.

  • Jacob

    In my opinion there was no Spanish oppression in Catalonia, or not much or bad oppression. There was really no urgent or big reason for this unilateral Catalan movement. There was no good reason to ignore the Constitution and start a rebellion.

    Catalonia has a regional government of their own and enjoy wide authority and autonomy.
    The central government in Madrid is weak and hapless.

    It seems the local politicians choose to stoke the fires of Nationalism and conflict for personal gain. The matter of secession is always delicate, has many facets, and should not be embarked on lightly.
    In short: I blame the hotheads in Catalonia.

  • Onkayaks, you are a mine of trivia, and believe me that is a compliment 😉

  • Sam Duncan, October 3, 2017 at 4:45 pm: “It’s easy to say that the libertarian position should always be to support the fragmentation of government wherever possible …”

    Actually, the Federalists said something rather different. They were Federalists – wanting much power in the states but also a central federal government – because they believed that larger polities were less likely to succumb to mobs and moods than smaller ones. Bigoted extremism might become fashionable in one state, so that 50% (or 45%) could tyrannise ‘democratically’ over the rest, but the same bigoted extremism was less likely to conquer a narrow majority or aggressive-plurality in many states at ones. Thus the US could avoid the fates of historical democracies, which had tended to be “short in their lives and violent in their deaths”.

    So ‘fragmentation’ in the sense of separation-of-powers, yes, but ‘fragmentation’ in the sense of secession, no.

  • James Hargrave

    unprecedented (as far as I know) in the history of nations.

    The unmaking of Czechoslovakia?

    Hell’s teeth. The last word to describe Czecho-Slovakia is ‘nation’.

  • RRS

    Perhaps this Catalan movement is not “Nationalism”. but actually anti-nationalism.

    In the latter section Demotic Life and Times of Part IV, of his epic work, From Dawn to Decadence (2000), Jacques Barzun seems to designate these movements in the course of Western Civilization more properly as SEPARATISM, part of its fragmenting and “DECADENCE.”

    But, of course, those kinds of considerations are for the serious and not necessary for formation and expressions of opinions.

  • RRS

    @Niall Kilmartin:

    From your reading you are also aware the that the “mercantile” Federalists of New England were the first to propose secession whilst out of sufficient national political power.

  • Hell’s teeth. The last word to describe Czecho-Slovakia is ‘nation’.

    Of course it was a nation: the fact it was easy to undo is beside the point.

  • Mr Ed

    Singapore left Malaysia pretty much peaceably, not so much a secession as a Constitutional kick up the arse from Malaysia in the direction of the door, and what a happy divorce it has proved to be. Put ‘EU’ in for ‘Malaysia’ and ‘the UK’ for ‘Singapore’ and you might have a plan.

    An argument that Catalonia has never been independent is not so much an argument as a statement of fact. Greenland has never had outdoor banana forests during its current geological existence, but that is no argument against it being independent either, it is simply not a relevant consideration. Ireland had only been united under the British Crown, but that was no argument in 1921, still less now, against Irish independence, or the Unionist province’s re-admission to the UK when the Free State was formed.

    The argument for Spain to prevail appears to be that in 1978 a Constitution was adopted in a referendum whereby the nation was described as being in ‘indissoluble unity’. Therefore, the Spanish State has a duty to put down any attempt to avoid that prescription. This will last until the Sun burns us out, regardless of the wishes of the people, the economic state of the nation, or any other consideration because of one decision on one day in 1978, pending an amendment to that same Constitution which Catalonia by itself cannot achieve. Spain thus aspires to outlive the 1,000 Reich and the Soviet Union or any other chiliastic Empire. That is not a good starting point, but the current political landscape in Catalonia does not augur for a good end point either.

    Why can’t Catalonia ‘secede’ by forming a loose union with Andorra (and adopting their tax rates, and pre-1960 social programmes)? This would allow Spain to claim that it still rules, through the Bishop of Urgell as a Co-Prince, and save a lot of face all round.

    I fear that the Catalan nationalists would go for Andorra in a way that the French Revolutionaries did not, they seem to have forgotten to set about it and it was only partially messed about with in the Napoleonic Wars. It was also, so I’m told, at war with Imperial Germany until 1958, having been left out of the Versailles Treaty.

  • Clovis Sangrail

    What Mr Ed said in the main.

    Can we not view this through a libertarian and geographical lens?
    If a group of people assert and subscribe to a common culture and can maintain some sort of quasi-geographical coherence should we be not supporting their right to self-determination/independence?
    Or have I misunderstood most of this stuff at Samizdata?

    To be more precise, is this not the question i.e. do the conditions of subscription to a common (sub)culture apply (I’m assuming that geographical coherence is a no-brainer.

    Bring on the Diamond Age!

  • bobby b

    Mr Ed
    October 3, 2017 at 8:19 pm

    “The argument for Spain to prevail appears to be that in 1978 a Constitution was adopted in a referendum whereby the nation was described as being in ‘indissoluble unity’. Therefore, the Spanish State has a duty to put down any attempt to avoid that prescription. This will last until the Sun burns us out, regardless of the wishes of the people, the economic state of the nation, or any other consideration because of one decision on one day in 1978, pending an amendment to that same Constitution which Catalonia by itself cannot achieve.”

    This is where I get lost. No dog in this fight, but this argument seems facile.

    Spain – the people of Spain, including the people of Catalonia, by something like 90% – voted via supermajority to enact their Constitution. That Constitution contains many provisions, including one that directly impacts on secession.

    Your paragraph from above makes it sound like everybody just missed that provision back in 1978. Oops, didn’t mean it, didn’t know we were voting for that. Never mind.

    I think you’re over-valuing, or maybe misapplying, this concept of a democratic vote. Some agreements entered into cannot be undone simply because one party votes – decides – to end it. We value simple contracts more highly than that – how can a constitution deserve less weight than a contract? How can we dispense with a constitution of a nation through a simple majority vote of a small subset of the population of that nation?

    (Obviously, the answer to my question will always be, through force, but not through law, unless one utilizes the amendment provisions of the constitution.)

  • Michael Jennings

    Put ‘EU’ in for ‘Malaysia’ and ‘the UK’ for ‘Singapore’ and you might have a plan.

    If only Brexit were likely to lead to Britain adopting (say) tax and healthcare systems that resemble the ones they have in Singapore. Alas…

    Singapore didn’t choose independence, though. It was forcibly ejected from Malaysia. That’s a rare situation, too.

  • bobby b

    In an article on the PJMedia website today, David Goldman makes the following assertion:

    “Ultimately, the Catalan independence movement is a response to Europe’s demographic cataclysm.”

    I’ve seen statements much like this one in other places, but never with any detailed explanation, and I’ve not seen it mirrored in the discussion here.

    Is there any basis to this? Is Catalonia seeking to avoid an EU-mandated refugee influx through secession? Or is this just a convenient fiction?

  • Mr Ed

    bobby b:

    Catalonia ‘rose’ against Spanish rule in 1640 when Portugal broke free from 80 years of Spanish rule, but it was crushed. Would a provision from 1640 decreeing a 1,000+ year Spain be valid today? The position of the Spanish State is that the union is indissoluble, as per the Constitution.

    If Portugal had failed in 1640, would it seeking to secede today be invalid due to it being ‘old news’ that it once sought to regain its independence, and in 1978, ‘Iberia’ had voted for an indissoluble union?

    Your paragraph from above makes it sound like everybody just missed that provision back in 1978. Oops, didn’t mean it, didn’t know we were voting for that. Never mind.

    Did they have a line-by-line approval of the 1978 Constitution? No, they had a committee of ‘worthies’ draw it up, and it was a take it or leave it job. But if you mix beer, milk and ink, you won’t get a nice drink out of it, but something like the insane article 128 I referred to earlier. That was the only drink in the salon, and they left out Franco’s sewage.

    Having said that, it is a fair criticism of the Catalan Nationalists that they have not sought to amend the Constitution, it is not immutable, to allow for the possibility of secession, or even for it to be put to a referendum. They might say that it would be a waste of time to do so, but we cannot know that. More like the Scottish Nationalists, they want to keep on asking the question until the get the ‘right’ answer, just once and then they never need ask again.

    Here’s an English translation of the 1978 Spanish Constitution in pdf. I can’t seem to find any reference to Gibraltar being Spanish in it, so why do they keep going on about it and claiming it?

    And take a look at Articles 40 and 47 for nonsense on stilts.

    Section 40
    1. The public authorities shall promote favourable conditions for social and economic progress and for a more equitable distribution of regional and personal income within the framework of a policy of economic stability. They shall in particular carry out a policy aimed at full employment.

    Section 47
    All Spaniards have the right to enjoy decent and adequate housing. The public authorities shall promote the necessary conditions and establish appropriate standards in order to make this right effective, regulating land use in accordance with the general interest in order to prevent speculation. The community shall have a share in the benefits accruing from the town-planning policies of public bodies.

  • Onkayaks

    Mr Ed wrote:

    An argument that Catalonia has never been independent is not so much an argument as a statement of fact. Greenland has never had outdoor banana forests during its current geological existence, but that is no argument against it being independent either, it is simply not a relevant consideration.

    I do not find myself relevant for the formation of a nation to have enjoyed already independece in some form or other, but Nationalists certainly do. However, as they often are indifferent to reality when disturbing, this is certainly not a decisive point.

    ‘Greenland has never had outdoor banana forests’is a brilliant hyperbole. I just so wish you had left out ‘outdoor’ out of it, as I had the best of comebacks.

    The argument for Spain to prevail appears to be that in 1978 a Constitution was adopted in a referendum whereby the nation was described as being in ‘indissoluble unity’. Therefore, the Spanish State has a duty to put down any attempt to avoid that prescription. This will last until the Sun burns us out, regardless of the wishes of the people, the economic state of the nation, or any other consideration because of one decision on one day in 1978

    Well, that is the law, and that is how law works, and to my liking, the older they are, the better. I vey much dislike the hasty, incessant proclamation of hundreds of new laws that is the sign of the times. Edmund Burke argued that social and legal norms need to be observed across generations in order to guarantee peaceful coexistence and freedom from the arbitrary coercion of each generation. I realize that this is old-fashioned, but it is good legal form, and under the rule of Law, it makes for better protection of individuals. Far better than endowing a figthing collectivity of people the will to create it anew which is a recipe for bad law.

    Regarding the case in question, there is in Catalonia a revolutionary process in the making, spurred by the parties in the Regional Government, that is certainly reaching momentum. It still has not the support of the majority of the voters, but as I speak more regional parties are joining the cause not because of true grievances, but out of fear of being overwhelmed by its sheer momentum. As a secession is clearly illegal if the Constitution is not amended, and such an amendment would fastidiously ask for a qualified majority of MPs from Spain, the Nationalists are for a clean break with the law. I must admit that I have mixed feelings, as I would grudgingly admire whoever attempted it for the sublime aspiration to be a free men, but stemming from people who are metaphisically intolerant to the use of Spanish in classrooms, I find it hard to reconcile myself with all of it, whether legally or morally as I am certain that Catalans are not living under unjust nor intolerable rules.

    Outside of legal and moral arguments, I can only see left the collective will of a majority as the hypothesis that may sustain the right to secession. This choice is the easiest: I am not inclined to agree with collectives dealing in abstracts, what I would gladly concede to individuals claiming negative freedoms. I have a inbuilt mechanism that distrusts abstractions.

    Why can’t Catalonia ‘secede’ by forming a loose union with Andorra (and adopting their tax rates, and pre-1960 social programmes)?

    You had me at the word Andorra and tax rates.

  • Nicholas (Unlicenced Joker) Gray

    I favour minarchy, the idea that we should have local governments, with small powers. I would even get rid of parties, and have would-be citizens do eleven months of community service (fire brigade, road patrols, etc.) in exchange for one month of being part of the government.
    So I find myself supporting Catalonia here. Even if it ends up a heavy-handed government, it would be easier to escape from a small polity, than it would be now to leave Spain, physically.
    As for your dislike of Nationalism, isn’t Spain imposing Nationalism on Catalonia?

  • Czechoslovakia was one of several nations made from the wreckage of the Austro-Hungarian empire. The peacemakers’ approach was to choose some ethnic groups as the ‘state’ peoples, assume others were equals in the state (which they were not) and treat a third group as minorities requiring specific legal protections (thus the ‘minority treaties’ which the new nations were obliged to sign). In WWII, the Czech part was the very first non-German province to be occupied and treated as non-Germans were treated by the Nazis (actually they were luckier than some through being conquered in ‘peacetime’; the Poles, the first to be conquered in war, got the extremity of Nazi violence), while the Slovak part allied to Germany and fought for them on the eastern front. After the war, Czechoslovakia had the usual experience of eastern Europe under the Soviets – which might have unified them but evidently did not.

    If a future disintegration of the EU somehow brought into being the ‘state’ of Benelux, much as happened in 1815 after the disintegration of the French empire, we would be unsurprised if, as happened in the 1830s, it disintegrated. It might be a state, with equal representation in the UN and sovereign recognition and all that, but some states are more equal than others.

  • Jacob

    “I find it hard to reconcile myself with all of it, whether legally or morally as I am certain that Catalans are not living under unjust nor intolerable rules.”

    This is the crux of the matter.
    This revolution or rebellion was unnecessary. It was driven by nationalist hotheaded and demagogic propaganda.

  • bob sykes

    One of the basic principles of parliamentary democracy is that one parliament cannot bind another, successor parliament. It is also a basic principle of constitutional law that constitutions can be amended. So, much of the legalistic arguments about what Catalons can or cannot do is nonsense.

    Also, the situation prior to the vote is irrelevant. The police violence has created a new reality. How the present crisis is resolved, if it is resolved, becomes important. Some substantive concessions to the separatists will have to be made, at the very least an enhanced autonomy. More heavy handed actions by Madrid and its Idiot King will only push the separatists toward violence. It might even reignite the Basque separatist movement, which was quite violent.

    The deeper problem is that the existence of the EU obviates the need for national governments and delegitimizes them. The EU itself the is the universal acid dissolving all European states.

  • Jacob

    “the very least an enhanced autonomy….”

    That’s exactly the point: their autonomy is already as enhanced as it can be. You can negotiate the matter of tax money distribution, but that is not what this movement is about. It is about stirring up old divisions and hatreds for no tangible purpose.

  • John K

    It is sometimes said that we in Britain need a written constitution.

    Sadly, if that ever were to happen, I imagine it would be a leaden, bureaucratic recitation of turgid claptrap like the Spanish one. We will never see another constitution like the American one.

    The American Revolution happened at just the right time for a Constitution to be written along the lines of the Enlightenment. To compare the American Constitution of 1789 and the Spanish Constitution of 1978 is to see how far political discourse has fallen.

  • Laird

    “much of the legalistic arguments about what Catalons can or cannot do is nonsense.”

    That’s overstating your case, Bob. Certainly constitutions can be amended; the problem in this case is that it has not been done, and likely won’t be. The separatists’ actions are extraconstitutional, so of course Spain is going to object. Those “legalistic arguments” are very much valid and on point.

    The available options would appear to be (1) amend the constitution to permit Catalonian withdrawal; (2) negotiate a separation agreement; (3) abandon the idea of an independent Catalonia; or (4) violent secession. As far as I can see only (3) and (4) are viable options.

    John K, if you want a written constitution you’re welcome to ours. We don’t appear to be using it any more.

  • You have overlooked a fifth option, which is the most likely of all: secede peacefully, followed by violent reconquest by the central government. This is the approach normally taken in such cases.

  • Laird

    Ken, that would appear to be a subset of (4).

  • John K

    Laird:

    Sadly, I take your point. The USA seems to have morphed into everything the Founding Fathers hoped to avoid.

  • pete

    I have no interest in Spain’s problems but the reaction of many so-called liberals and progressives has been revealing.

    It is a mixture of an authoritarian Antifa style approval of the violence and a reluctance to criticise a foreign EU country because foreign, EU countries are not like the fascist UK but full of sophisticated, cosmopolitan people.

  • “John K, if you want a written constitution you’re welcome to ours. We don’t appear to be using it any more.” (Laird, October 4, 2017 at 2:22 pm)

    🙂 and also 😡

    (For the reasons John K gives, were a written constitution inflicted on us at this time, it would be more like a negation of yours.)

    That said, Laird, visit Britain and express your opinions about a certain religion. Then visit Germany and try the same thing. If you are still at liberty, go to Australia and hear Gillian Triggs lament that “Sadly, you can say what you like round the kitchen table at home.”

    You retain quite a bit of your constitution vis-a-vis pretty well the entire remainder of the world.

  • pete

    The tone of this article seems to suggest that people must have a good reason for wanting something if they are to be allowed to have it by those who claim to know better.

    Not very libertarian.

  • Laird

    A fair point, Niall; I was being a tad over-dramatic. But, sadly, we certainly have managed to do a significant amount of violence to its original intent. Perhaps the inestimable Frank Zappa said it best: “The US Constitution may not be perfect but it’s better than what we have now.”

  • Onkayaks

    bob sykes wrote:

    One of the basic principles of parliamentary democracy is that one parliament cannot bind another, successor parliament. It is also a basic principle of constitutional law that constitutions can be amended. So, much of the legalistic arguments about what Catalons can or cannot do is nonsense.

    Not really. There are both limits to laws and to constitutional amendments —not in Spain where constitutional reform is not limited in content. In the UK the limits on parliamentary sovereignty are arguably that courts should not defend statutes which attack democracy, the rule of the law and civil liberties. This thesis received judicial recognition in R (Jackson) v A G 2005 Lords (upholding the Hunting Act 2004) when Lord Hope said ‘Parliamentary sovereignty is an empty principle if legislation is passed which is so absurd or so unacceptable that the people at large refuse to recognise it as law’. In the US there is for instance, a well-known principle of constitutional interpretation known as the “internal-limits canon”, whereas the powers of Congress must always be construed as authorizing less legislation than a general police power would. And so on.

    To the case in hand: the Regional Government of Catalonia did not ever pursue a Constitutional reform. As a matter of fact, previous Governments in Spain had already stretched the Constitution to its very limits by confering a incessant cascade of powers to the Catalan Government.

    Also, the situation prior to the vote is irrelevant. The police violence has created a new reality. How the present crisis is resolved, if it is resolved, becomes important. Some substantive concessions to the separatists will have to be made, at the very least an enhanced autonomy. More heavy handed actions by Madrid and its Idiot King will only push the separatists toward violence. It might even reignite the Basque separatist movement, which was quite violent.

    I do not agree. Context is everything.

    The deeper problem is that the existence of the EU obviates the need for national governments and delegitimizes them. The EU itself the is the universal acid dissolving all European states.

    Yes, it is.

  • bobby b

    “The EU itself the is the universal acid dissolving all European states.”

    Compare, though, to the situation in the USA, where we have individual state governments and an overarching federal government.

    There is a constant tension between the two, but the federal jurisdiction has decidedly not dissolved the powers of the individual states. After a long ebb, states are now regaining some power.

    But then, we have a written constitution that explicitly sets out the delineations between the two systems. Perhaps honored more in the breach than the observance, but still setting out baselines to which we can return given the will.

  • Shlomo Maistre

    Madrid can not just keep saying “we will not allow a vote” – there must be a free-and-fair vote (the vote on Sunday was a mess – although Madrid was mainly to blame for it being a mess) and Madrid must RESPECT THE RESULT OF THE VOTE.

    Respecting the result of such a vote is to legitimize it, which is to override the Constitutional Law of Spain with the will of the people. What happened to the rule of law? Shouldn’t the rule of law always come before the rule of men or the rule of the mob in your view?

  • Mr Ed

    Shouldn’t the rule of law always come before the rule of men or the rule of the mob in your view?

    Yes, but he was making a political point, not a legal one.

  • If you vote yourself into a constitution, as Catalonia did within living memory in the 1970s, you really ought to vote yourself out of it using that same constitution, by amending it and then seceding according to the newly created process. Anything else makes a mockery of having a written constitution in the first place.

  • Mr Ed

    TM Lutas,

    And what if you are in a minority of 1 in 17 Autonomous Regions, unable to secure support for your departure, even if you all in your region were to want it? Is Spain an eternal Union, a ‘2,000 Year Reich’ simply because of a take-it-or-leave-it vote in 1978?

    The Spanish Constituition is a mockery of a constitution as Article 128 shows. How could Ireland have left the UK in 1922 other than by force?

    It strikes me that both sides are wrong in the present case, the Spanish State for reacting as it has, and Catalonia for not taking an opportunity to seek to amend the Constitution, if only to show what a farce it all is to not even be in a position where it can be allowed by law to hold a vote.

    It is Spain that bans the asking of the question. In whose interest is that?

  • Mr Ed (October 5, 2017 at 7:50 am): “How could Ireland have left the UK in 1922 other than by force?”

    Ireland did not leave the UK by force in 1922, but by agreement, as a dominion with a governor general. Eamon de Valera had always imagined confronting an English PM with his demands, but after he read out the Gaelic and then English versions to Lloyd George, the latter remarked “I did not hear the word ‘republic’ in your Gaelic version.” After amusing himself for a while listening to de Valera’s flounderings, Lloyd had a long talk in Welsh with his secretary, and then remarked that there was no word for republic in any Gaelic language because “we Celts have never had such a thing”.

    Well aware that he could not depart direct UK control “by force”, a furious de Valera had to accept a governor general. The tale of how years of cheating allowed him to negate this aspect of the treaty would be tedious to relate.

    (I have in general a great contempt for Lloyd George, but can side with even a Lloyd George against a de Valera. Perhaps, somewhere in the states last November, there was a “world’s least enthusiastic Trump-voter” who voted against Clinton in a similar spirit. 🙂 )

  • Mr Ed

    Niall,

    That’s either bordering on trolling, semantics or gross ignorance in my book. The agreement followed the force; murder, terror and assassinations but the UK govt. played a rearguard action, taking Treaty ports and a fig leaf of the Free State rather than a republic, but it was force that won the day, with the Infantile disorder end of republicanism weakening the hand of the mainstream and leading to the civil war, and those fat crows in Kerry feasting on the hardliners.

  • Paul Marks

    If the Spanish government thinks the vote for independence was unfair (for example because the pro Union side did not have a chance to campaign) it should organise another vote.

    However, just saying “the people of Catalonia can not vote for independence – we will not allow them to do so” is an absurd position. There are no masses of slaves in Catalonia who were denied a vote on independence or union, and who will no be allowed to leave if Catalonia becomes independent. So trying to claim that the situation in Spain is similar to what faces the United States in 1861 is NOT true.

    Although, of course, if the people of South Carolina (or any other State) voted for independence from the United States now (now that there are no masses of slaves denied the right to vote and denied the right to leave) I would SUPPORT their right to choose independence if that is what they want.

    Ditto Scotland and so on.

  • Mr Ed

    I heartened by the number of SNP supporters I have seen comparing the attitude of the UK government to their referendum demands to that of the Spanish government towards the Catalan administration. There must have been at least two who have said how decent the UK government has been in comparison.

  • Laird

    Niall, by the same reasoning the United States separated from England “by agreement” as well. You keep using that word; I do not think it means what you think it means.

  • Re Laird, October 5, 2017 at 4:51 pm and Mr Ed (October 5, 2017 at 9:29 am):

    There are agreements that both sides are happy to sign, there are agreements that both sides are unhappy to sign, there are agreements made when one side knows it should rise from the table now when it’s ahead, not risk further play, there are agreements made when one side knows it should rise from the table now when it’s behind, not face the risk of greater loss, and there are ‘agreements’ that are surrenders, one side having simply won and the other being in no condition to dispute anything. Germany in WWII was the last, Britain at the end of the american war of independence was the second-last, de Valera in 1922 was the third-last.

    I wasn’t trolling when I said that de Valera hated having a governor general but knew he had to ‘agree’, but of course Mr Ed and Laird would be quite correct to say it was not an agreement of the first kind – or of the last.

    – After 1781 the impossibility of Britain’s winning the war militarily was soon recognised by all. King George III agreed to a parliamentary vote forbidding further ‘offensive’ war on the american continent, and debate was simply about whether the UK would try to hold onto some defensible bits or whether it would seek to mend fences with now-recognised-to-be-unconquerable US by conceding all the territory of all the states. The latter was the policy of Burke and colleagues, and it carried the day. The hostility of other European powers meant that the UK itself was in danger of invasion, and in no position to make a vast increase in its military power in the US – which it anyway recognised would probably not affect the outcome

    – At the end of WWI, the victorious British state disposed of a great and trained military power and faced no immediate challenge. Acts of violence played a huge role in the situation in Eire, but de Valera was well aware he could not defeat an intent British power. That well-known dictum of Irish revolutionaries – “England’s difficulty is Ireland’s opportunity” – told them that just after a victorious war, England was not in difficulty. What it was, was very war-weary – which had of course much impact on the outcome. (In the early 1780s, there was war-weariness in the UK, but there was also rational fear of foreign invasion.)

    So, as regards Mr Ed’s “That’s either bordering on trolling, semantics or gross ignorance in my book.” I guess I’d accept ‘semantics’ – and have hopefully ruled out “gross ignorance”. 🙂

  • Jacob

    The most ridiculous aspect of this debate is that there is NO issue here. Spain does NOT oppress Catalonia.
    So what is all this fuss about?

  • Jacob (October 6, 2017 at 9:20 am), while I feel much agreement with your point, I guess it is appropriate – perhaps specially appropriate on Samizdata – to note that no state is perfect and that every state exercises power, so there will always be a pedantic case to be made against even the best of states (nor would one make that claim for the Spanish state). In the ordinary colloquial sense of the world, Spain does not ‘oppress’ Catalonia: AFAIK (of course, I know little about it), whatever issue of liberty you can criticise in the Spanish government you can at least as strongly criticise in the Catalonian. For example, it is news to me if whatever hate speech laws Spain enforces are more gently enforced in Catalonia. (In Scotland, the reverse is true. 😡 )

    I apologise for being pedantic. I know that in the historical sense of the word ‘oppress’, Spain does not oppress Catalonia. However I likewise know that in the historical sense of the word ‘oppress’, the EU does not oppress the UK much. I am still glad to leave. 🙂

  • Jacob

    “I am still glad to leave. ”

    For no good reason…. It’s perfectly possible that under the upcoming Corbyn premiership you’ll be MORE oppressed and the EU rules could have served to somewhat ameliorate this oppression. (Eg. nationalizations). Everyone feels that his nation is above others, and prefers to be oppressed by his own Corbyns and not by the Junkers from Luxembourg. But it’s just a feeling…

    I mean, I can understand the Catalan’s emotional aversion to the Spanish state – but still, it’s an emotional thing that has no basis in facts, as they stand now. This whole upheaval was unnecessary.

  • bobby b

    “Spain does NOT oppress Catalonia.”

    “Oppress” is a word with many meanings.

    To some, losing local control, and becoming controlled by far-away authorities who do not share your culture or custom or history, is oppression by itself.

    The best government is local government. To many, even a benevolent, caring one-world global government would be the height of oppression, simply because the chance of your own voice being heard is decreased. You become a much smaller fish in a huge pond.

  • Onkayaks

    Thank you Runcie for the link to Zero Hedge.

    Some points are valid, but he is misinformed about his basic assumptions:

    1. Catalonia is even more indebted than Spain is.
    2. No military action was involved. The idea comes from the police unit of Civil Guards having a military structure as the French Gendarmes or Italy’s Carabinieris have.
    3. Several other regions in Spain are welthier than Catalonia in relative terms, and Madrid is in absolute terms. However, the op-ed is right as the secession of Catalonia would be crippling to the economy.
    4. The anti-riot police was actually quite restrained last Sunday, leaving aside few isolated incidents. Watch as a reference, anti-riot police in any G20 protest.

  • Jacob

    Like the Civil War in the US, it was not the Spaniards (Castilian) who started this conflict – it was the Catalans. (In the US it was the South who started the war).
    Maybe they “felt oppressed” – the question is if it’s correct to start a war just because you feel like it.

  • As an American, a country that exists only because the people who lived here in the 1770s felt like starting a war, I naturally say “yes” to that question.

  • Laird

    Jacob, do you really want to reopen that debate about the South “starting” the war?

    Anyway, what better reason could there be for starting a war than “because you feel like it”? And “correct” is not an appropriate word in that context. “Justified”, “prudent” or “sensible” might all work, but whether it was “correct” can only be determined post facto.

  • Mr Ed – It’s by no means self evident that Catalonia would lose a serious effort to allow the asking of the question of secession. First of all, they should try making it legal in order to peacefully improve the arrangement they’re trying to leave. But they weren’t interested, and aren’t interested in a velvet divorce. They are looking to provoke crisis and misery.

    Sometimes unbarring the exit is a good move to keep people in. Lock in can creep people out. Apple used this when it was a rickety company that was arguably below the point of viability. It published its underlying Darwin operating system and gave people already edging towards the exits a clear pathway out, paradoxically encouraging adoption of its then new Mac OS X offering.

    Would a Spain that allows departure be a Spain worth staying in? We’ll never know until someone makes the argument.

  • Jacob

    Ken hagler:
    Now that you mention the 1776 revolution – that’s an interesting angle.
    What would have happened if America didn’t proclaim independence and start a revolutionary war in 1776? We can assume that the American colonies would have developed somewhat like Canada and Australia and would now be big, rich, prosperous and free.
    America might even have avoided the calamitous Civil War.
    And, it might be now less of a world power, entangled in global wars and foreign adventures.

    So, it seems to me plausible to claim that maybe the American Revolution was unnecessary and even harmful…

  • Jacob (October 7, 2017 at 10:17 am), it is far from inevitable that Canada, Australia and that well known nation Etcetera, would have developed as they did without the American revolution. Defeat was a huge lesson to the British Empire. I yield to none in my admiration of the empire and my contempt for PC denigration of it, but, just as I know I am much more able to think the empire a major net force for good because Edmund Burke spent 14 years raising hell about its injustices, so I know its treatment of Canada, Australia and Etcetera was influenced by memory of how a different policy had ended in the US. Britain came to feel it had been wrong in its American policy. We probably never felt we were wrong with quite the passion that the US felt it, but it was a lesson, it was learned, and it influenced our later history.

    (As per my earlier comments, I accept Burke’s justification of the legitimacy of American resistance, which was on grounds that offer no such justification to the Catalans IIUC.)

  • Mr Ed

    TMLutas,

    Indeed, both sides are behaving like the aggressive statists that they are. I suppose if we make a case that Catalonia could try the peaceful amendment route, we should not fall into the trap of imaging that their politicians would find that attractive, and we would sooner expend our hopes waiting on another socialist utopian dream of the sea turning to lemonade.

  • Julie near Chicago

    What a wonderful piece, Mr Ed! How very avant-garde and intelligent. Tres merveilleux! Mercy bowcup!

    After that happens, will I still need to be licensed by the Health Department and to acquire a Retail Sales Merchant’s license for my lemonade stand? Even if I don’t bother with desalinization?

    Speaking of which, I’ve always wished we could have those lunchbox trees that they have in Oz.

  • Mr Ed

    Julie,

    It was the Sage who first told me of the ramblings of Charles Fourier, one of the more obviously absurd socialists of the 19th Century.

    Just remember that inside every socialist, there is a struggle between the twin demons of Charles Fourier and Charles Manson, who sometimes act in concert.

  • Julie near Chicago

    Thanks for letting us know, Mr Ed. I will importune the Great Frog to send my compliments to the Invisible Cat and his ward. Not that the G.F. pays any attention to me.

    As for the socialists, your diagnosis of their, er, condition — or, in an earlier age, one would have said “their complaint,” though in this case that would be inapt, as it is not their complaint about which they complain, but rather the complaint of the rest of us — I say, your diagnosis of the ongoing intrapersonal diplomatic relations of alternating strife and alliance between their interior Charleses strikes me as quite likely. Well put, sir.

  • Julie near Chicago

    Richard (Epstein) weighs in on “Catalonia and the Secessionist Movement.” Listen (currently on front page) or download. 17 minutes.

  • Jacob

    Niall,
    The American Revolution and it’s proclamation of independence served as example and inspired many liberal changes or developments in the whole world. I’m not out to denigrate it.
    I was just playing with the thought “what if” – what if there was no American declaration of independence…

    Reminds me of a headline proposed once: “Archduke Franz Ferdinand alive. WW1 fought in vain”.

  • Mr Ed

    I was just playing with the thought “what if” – what if there was no American declaration of independence…

    Justin Trudeau would be Governor-General Clinton’s Prime Minister.

  • Jacob

    A big demonstration AGAINST Catalonian secession in Barcelona. Seems about half the Catalans oppose seccesion.
    Their rights need to be protected. The hothead nationalists need to be reigned in. The law has to be upheld.
    Long live The King (idiot or not).
    The great Catalan painter Salvador Dali declared once that he was a monarchist-anarchist.

  • bobby b

    “Everyone thinks waving the Spanish flag means we are right wing or fascists,” said Alfredo Matías, 47, who held one edge of an oversize Spanish flag. “But we are not. We are just patriotic. It should be like the flag in America. And this is a big opportunity to make that happen.”

    (This is a quote from the article linked by Jacob above.)

    “It should be like the flag in America.” Is the American treatment of its flag so different from everywhere else? Is nationalism – pride in one’s country as being distinct from every other country – such an outmoded concept these days?

    I periodically become dismayed at how much the one-world global government concept pervades the views of other peoples. Perhaps once humanity reaches a stage where incomes are even across the globe, where resource bases are distributed evenly, where no one else wants to take what I have – then maybe people could be more efficiently regulated by a world-wide bureaucracy. But we’re nowhere near that point, and so borders still define our team.

    No one who has a lot ever seriously says “let’s divide everything evenly.” It’s the people who have yet to attain the income of a Pakistani bricklayer who aspire to such an income. The American and European people pushing for socialism don’t realize what they’re advocating. Nationalism is what keeps us from that.