Catalan referendum – open thread

by Ingrid Robeyns on October 1, 2017

Catalonia is holding a referendum today on secession from Spain. Apparently it’s illegal because the Spanish constitution doesn’t allow anything that can threaten Spanish unity. I haven’t been following the arguments pro and con and don’t know to what extent the separatist views are widely shared among the people living in Catalonia. So I don’t have an informed opinion about Catalonia’s striving for independence, and know from the Belgian/Flemish case how the political background of striving for independence can be very complicated, and how easy it is as an outsider to know half of the facts and sensitivities, and make overly quick judgements on that partial knowledge. But one doesn’t need to have a well-informed view on whether or not this referendum should have taken place, to see that it’s a violation of human rights as well as politically utter stupid of the Spanish government to react with police violence (BBC, Guardian). Anyway, consider this an open thread on the Catalan referendum.

{ 223 comments }

1

engels 10.01.17 at 1:34 pm

The Spanish police are attacking Catalan firefighters:
https://twitter.com/ToryFibs/status/914478175580717057

2

Layman 10.01.17 at 1:45 pm

The reaction seems spectacularly stupid. If large groups of people want to go to polling places and cast allegedly illegal ballots, why employ state violence to stop them? What is the harm in the activity that merits a repressive response? Even if you endorse the use of violence to keep Catalonia in Spain (which I don’t), shouldn’t you wait until something actually happens which demands force? If the Court says the ballot is illegal, then it can say it is illegal after it has happened just as well.

3

RefactorRuthlessly 10.01.17 at 2:28 pm

Catalans have been a victim of Spanish repression for centuries. That is one of the reasons they want out. Now it is clear for everyone to see what catalans knew all along: Spanish understanding of the nation is a forceful one, and spanish tolerance of democracy is minimal. The EU is becoming each day less of a space where rational debate and civilized ways of solving problems are the norm. Borders and nations are so XIXth century, and people should be able to choose the way they are governed. If a national unity has become obsolete and dysfunctional, it should be replaced.

4

kidneystones 10.01.17 at 2:39 pm

@2 Good questions. The realities extend beyond Catalan to the Basque region. All of this is happening in real time and we’re a long way from any resolution. The state is using legal means to prevent a vote I concur should be allowed to proceed. The Catalans understand better than us that this is precisely how the state likely respond. Ethnicity matters and no matter how wrong the use of force may seem to outside observers a great many people in Spain strongly believe the government has no choice but to act.

5

bob mcmanus 10.01.17 at 2:41 pm

Jacobin has been covering it with Spanish authors

Josep Maria Antentas is a professor of sociology at the Autonomous University of Barcelona. This is very good historical background, going back more than fifty years. Apparently the workers are opposed or indifferent, and the independence movement is “but the middle classes and young people dominate it. The high bourgeoisie has opposed the independence process from the beginning and consistently attempted from behind the scenes to derail it. The traditional working class — historically, immigrants who came to Catalonia from southern Spain in the sixties — has been less involved.”

Podemos MEP Miguel Urbán

There is another interview with a “Manolo Monereo is a Unidos Podemos MP. A key voice in the Spanish left for over thirty years” if you click to the previous page.

Macron, Corbyn, Sanders, even Syriza represent a new class coalition maybe, not even the old “bourgeois revolutions” of Marxist theory, which usually used workers and lumpenproletariat as shock troops at the spearpoint.

6

Ingrid Robeyns 10.01.17 at 2:45 pm

there may be a set of interests and a political goal for which what looks to outsiders as sheer stupidity, is in fact part of a strategy. But I fail to see what that would be in the Catalan/Spanish case. Or could the police brutalities (also) be meant to provoke civic protests and unrest, which is then used by the Central government to take political/legal measures that further down the line weaken the possibilities of the Catalan politicians to further act on its agenda of secession? (not sure how this would look like in detail, I guess one would need to know what the legal possibilities are for the Spanish government to take such measures).

7

stauffen 10.01.17 at 2:53 pm

Spain is not a repressive regime and democracy requires respect of rules – the Catalan quagmire is as much a result of Catalan intransigence and utter disrespect of rule of law as of Madrid inflexibility; it is driven by nationalist exteremist and by provocation – the Catalan leadership, composed of anti-capitalist leftist forces allied with the left-overs of disgraced CiU, has angling for complete capitulation by the Spanish government. The most sober result after a probable defeat in this so-called referendum would be new regional elections and new discussions with more sober leadership (alas, I am not sure it will come this way).

8

Layman 10.01.17 at 3:25 pm

“the Catalan quagmire is as much a result of Catalan intransigence and utter disrespect of rule of law as of Madrid inflexibility; it is driven by nationalist exteremist and by provocation…”

Even if every word of this were true, going to a neighborhood location to fill out a form is just about the most peaceful civil action one can imagine. Why on earth turn it into a street brawl, when there’s no reason to do that? It is criminally stupid; stupid, because it can’t have the desired effect of ‘stopping Catalans from wanting to separate’ – far more likely the opposite! – and criminally so because it is an abuse of state violence.

9

Glen Tomkins 10.01.17 at 3:39 pm

I think the actions of the Spanish govt probably make sense in terms of domestic politics in a country that is majority non-Catalan. That majority would tend to be hostile to any group seeking special treatment. Throw in the country’s recent experience with often violent Basque separatism, and it is presumably especially easy to trigger the majority to a hostile view of separatism as the particular form of special treatment being demanded.

10

bob mcmanus 10.01.17 at 3:55 pm

Spain is not a repressive regime and democracy requires respect of rules

Spain has been an economic horror story for a decade, as has been Greece and to a lesser degree Italy. Neoliberalism does provide a facade of diverse and multicultural representation to legitimize austerity, stratification, and economic repression, and this is why rules are made by those with the guns as said above, including Social democrats (Dear God, Hollande followed by Macron) and rules are made to be broken.

11

kidneystones 10.01.17 at 4:19 pm

One of the interesting features of this referendum is the way those pushing for the referendum are treated in different quarters. Consider the description of the Catalans today and the description of those in Britain pushing for a referendum on leaving the EU.

I recall clearly some here arguing that the British people should not even be allowed the right to hold a referendum on EU membership. Imagine the horror had UKIP organized an illegal vote on leaving the EU! How many would support the British police seizing ballot boxes and firing rubber bullets at white van man and other deplorables? Not many, I hope. But I’m sure a few be arguing: ‘send in the riot police!’

12

Yankee 10.01.17 at 4:21 pm

There’s an echo of the American situation in that the rural members of a federated state are attempting to be absolutist in their hegemony. The American hegemonists are exercising control through means more subtle than armed confiscation of ballot boxes, but we’ll see. “Stupid politically” is not right; this is what absolutism does, and besides it works often enough.

13

Kenny Easwaran 10.01.17 at 5:05 pm

I’ve wondered what the appropriate reaction would be, if a hypothetical governor Roy Moore of Alabama defied a court order and held a ballot on secession from the United States. The United States obviously has a bad history with secession, and Roy Moore has a bad history of disobeying court orders and getting elected again anyway. Sending in the national guard seemed like the right way to address disobedience of school desegregation, but disobedience of a banned vote?

14

bruce wilder 10.01.17 at 5:15 pm

I know much more about the Spanish Civil War than the current situation in Spain, and am mindful of “how easy it is as an outsider to know half of the facts and sensitivities, and make overly quick judgements on that partial knowledge. ” I wish I knew even one-quarter of the facts! I cannot help but see ghostly shadows of Catalonia’s anarchists from the 1930s where I know nothing of today. I do know that Spain’s encounter with Euro debt was an importantly regional one and Catalonia was the worst offender (and therefore greatest beneficiary then and most entangled now). The Catalan debt bomb figures in this somehow. Destroying Catalonia’s autonomy would seem like lighting a fire under a shack containing high explosive, but maybe someone thinks the central government can handle that debt.

15

david 10.01.17 at 5:19 pm

Would you prefer Madrid to brawl after Puigdemont gets on a microphone to unilaterally declare independence?

16

Jwl 10.01.17 at 7:06 pm

Madrid should not brawl at all, unless forced to. Note how Abraham Lincoln waited for the Southerners to violently seize control of Fort Sumter before commencing hostilities. It seems to me that the Spanish state is overeager to initiate violence against a peaceful movement. Especially noteworthy for a political party (PP) that grew directly out of Francoism and rejects any reevaluation of the Francoist past.

17

Mario 10.01.17 at 7:14 pm

What I’m wondering right now is how this is going to be defused. Beating up people like this is probably the limit of what a modern European government can reasonably do against a movement of this kind, and it looks ineffective at best (I agree with david @15 that this might have looked like the less bad option). But now there are videos of policemen breaking the fingers of people who wanted to vote, and the number of injured is many times that of the recent terrorist attack. You can do such a thing only if you basically control all channels of communication (I’m talking from a practical perspective here, obviously not a moral one. It’s a despicable act). But they don’t.

So, how are they going to deescalate this in this day and age of uncontrollable communication, while being subjected to European standards of human rights?

18

Daniel O'Neil 10.01.17 at 7:18 pm

@16 more Americans died in the ensuing war than every other war fought by the United States combined. This might not be the best first choice. Spain has already had a horrific civil war. Why would you embrace a second?

19

Dipper 10.01.17 at 7:58 pm

Matthew Parris has been covering this for a while. There’s a reply to his 2013 article (Times/£) here.

20

Collin Street 10.01.17 at 8:26 pm

So, how are they going to deescalate this in this day and age of uncontrollable communication, while being subjected to European standards of human rights?

They aren’t. Reactionary movements — and the Right in spain is to all practical purposes made up of supporters of Actual Fascism — are all affected by theory-of-mind impairments, which means making plans that allow for the choices other people make is beyond them.

“What will they do in response” is a question that it is literally biologically impossible for Rajoy to answer. He doesn’t think that way.

21

Moz of Yarramulla 10.01.17 at 9:04 pm

I’m struggling to see what legal avenue the independence side has. Spain’s constitution, like that of the USA and quite a few other federations, lacks an exit clause. But changing the constitution requires at least a majority. So we have a minority reduced to begging a majority for recognition. That’s not a good look for a liberal state.

Secondly, financial politics is always a fun one. Who gets to collect the taxes, and who gets to decide what they’re spent on? Most federations divide those such that one part of government is always short of money, and it’s very rarely the biggest government… viz, the states are always going cap in hand to the federation. So of course Catalan are poor financial managers, 99% of states are – even California, which we keep being told is the 5th biggest economy in the world.

Finally, in Australia right now we have the same sex marriage survey/vote nonsense going on which ticks many of the same “majority vote on minority rights” boxes. I don’t see too many calls for state violence to prevent a referendum. But we do see great support and little hesitation to suppress any notion of first nations sovereignty (often violently). Perhaps it’s the notion that the underclass “other” might revolt that’s the problem?

If you don’t have personal knowledge of anyone affected it’s very easy to deny them “extra” rights. Recognition of same sex marriage relies a lot on people knowing same sex couples, changing the discussion from “those others should be locked up” to “Sam and Chris are nice enough people”. Almost by definition, secession is going to struggle to get that type of support (even for an ethnically distinct state, members of the ethnic group outside the state are likely there because they prefer to be part of the larger nation).

22

Theophylact 10.01.17 at 9:28 pm

Unlike ETA, the Catalan separatists aren’t bombing anyone. The UK didn’t require thugs to put down the vote on Scottish separation (yes, I know, the Acts of Union can be legally reversed). Czechoslovakia dissolved peacefully (if stupidly). If the Parti Québécois ever does win a separation vote, Canada will survive; contiguity of territory is not a necessity (see Alaska).

The violence on the part of the Spanish state was entirely optional and almost certainly counterproductive in the long run.

23

Alan White 10.01.17 at 10:36 pm

The footage of the police action is appalling. Who in one’s right mind would have sanctioned this?

24

Jwl 10.01.17 at 10:57 pm

I don’t embrace a second Spanish Civil War. But Abraham Lincoln was able to prevent international recognition of the South and reunify the nation by deliberately not being the aggressor. He didn’t start the American Civil War but he did almost end both it and slavery before his assasination. I don’t understand why the Spanish authorities automatically reach for violence to prevent a vote. Catalonia hasn’t even declared independence and has pursued exclusively peaceful means. Are they going to start shooting Catalans if they persist in voting and protesting?

25

Suzanne 10.02.17 at 1:40 am

@24: Lincoln did win that game of chicken, but I suspect the South never obtained international recognition chiefly for less symbolic reasons, like Lincoln’s navy. (Britain and France did grant the South belligerent status.)

“Any people anywhere, being inclined and having the power, have the right to rise up, and shake off the existing government, and form a new one that suits them better. This is a most valuable – a most sacred right – a right, which we hope and believe, is to liberate the world.”

Needless to say, Lincoln was speaking in a different context when he said that. In any case, the important bit is the part about “having the power.” The South did not have that power, as Lincoln demonstrated to bloody cost.

26

BBA 10.02.17 at 2:38 am

I started out thinking Catalan independence was a dumb idea, politically and economically. But hell if Rajoy’s jackbooted thugs haven’t pushed me into the full separatist camp. At this rate we’ll have 100 nations recognizing the independent Republic of Catalonia before the week is out.

27

Gabriel 10.02.17 at 2:55 am

Is there any reason not to consider this desire for independence as directly analagous to the Venice situation, ie, a monied class using differences in culture and history in an attempt to disassociate themselves from their poorer brethren? Which is not in any way to justify the appalling behavior of Spain’s ruling class.

28

nastywoman 10.02.17 at 4:23 am

Police brutality is a NoNo!
Independence because not liking your neighbors is a NoNo!
Independence because not wanting to pay for the commons is a NoNo!

For heavens sake -(the catholic one) we are talking about Europe and not Texans wish to split from the United Homeland…

29

Tabasco 10.02.17 at 4:34 am

It’s not at all obvious that because a region wants to secede from a country, ipso facto it should be supported. There are many countries in Europe, and beyond, with regions that have distinct historical identities, cultures and languages. Some of them even have genuine contemporary grievances. That is one thing; UDI is another altogether.

30

Layman 10.02.17 at 5:48 am

Lincoln won the argument, but he didn’t win it by making a _legal_ argument. It’s hard to make a convincing case that states, having voluntarily entered into the union, may not voluntarily exit the union. Is it reasonable to force a geographically sound cultural minority to remain subjects of a state within which they don’t want to remain? I can’t see how. Must the Kurds remain minority Iraqis and Turks, aganst their will? Must Tibetans remain Chinese? Wouldn’t it be wiser for Spain to invest in _convincing_ the Catalans they’d be better off in Spain than not? If they can’t convince, isn’t that a problem in and of itself?

31

quanticle 10.02.17 at 5:58 am

The South did not have that power, as Lincoln demonstrated to bloody cost.

I don’t think the Catalans have that power either, currently, but repression like this is a great way to motivate them to seek out and acquire such power. Scenes like the ones we’ve seen over the past 36 hours form the founding myths of revolutionary movements and insurgencies.

32

witters 10.02.17 at 6:53 am

What is democracy? A state? A process? A happening?

33

Layman 10.02.17 at 6:55 am

Tabasco: “There are many countries in Europe, and beyond, with regions that have distinct historical identities, cultures and languages.”

If I had to bet on a prediction now, it is that many of those nations will eventually break up into smaller states within a European federation along the lines of those distinct historical identities. Why not?

34

Tabasco 10.02.17 at 7:19 am

Wikipedia has a page called List of active separatist movements in Europe. There are a lot of them, 16 in Spain alone.

35

Sebastian H 10.02.17 at 7:36 am

It is perfectly possible to simultaneously believe that there is no inherent right of rich people (Catalonia) to vote themselves into a different country than poorer people (the rest of Spain), AND believe the the president of Spain did an unjustifiable thing by sending the police to crack heads with respect to the vote.

36

rogergathmann 10.02.17 at 8:01 am

Rajoy’s government is itself the result of backdoor deals. That is partly because Spain has undergone a horrendous depression driven by government austerity, which resulted in a political tossup – and the same old same old government. In my puny view, this police riot does look like Rajoy using the independence vote to strengthen his precarious position. In 2016, when the regional gov. passed the resolution for an independence vote, the for side was at around 48 percent. https://euobserver.com/political/135403 The state has ample media tools to widen the against side, and definitely that happened with the Scotland vote in the UK. But Rajoy has pursued another strategy, which, I think, is aimed at delegitimating opposition parties so that his Franquist party can win massively the next round of elections. I don’t think Rajoy is stupid, and simply “biologically programmed”, as one commentor above put it, not to understand the independence movement – he’s been a wheeler dealer, and quite a corrupt one, for quite a while. It will be interesting to see how opposition parties – the terrible socialists and the Podemos peeps – respond. So far, both Puigdemont and Rajoy have gotten what they wanted.

37

bob mcmanus 10.02.17 at 9:08 am

30 Layman: No the better argument, codified in the post-Civil War amendments, was that a State, by seceding, may nor deprive some of its internal residents, those who wished to remain US citizens, of their US citizenship, rights and privileges. Which might include a taking of their property, by forcing them to emigate from a secession state.

Of course it took another hundred years for incorporation to become a practical argument, but it is I think legally strong, the US citizenship supersedes local majority self-governance. There are Catalans who do not want to secede, and benefit from being citizens of Spain. What would you tell them?

38

Jesús Couto Fandiño 10.02.17 at 12:16 pm

#30 Problem is, the government represents the very large part of Spain that considers that asking the question, that thinking it is something that has to actually be answered by the Catalonian (or any other) population, is kind of anathema.

Their mental model is that the “unity of Spain” is something that is almost God-given, and thus not to be discussed, and not something that comes from the wishes of the actual Spanish population. So you can be a Spaniard happy to be one or one unhappy to be one, but at no point they will ever think that it is up to you to decide if you are or not.

I can say a thousand reasons why I dont like the idea of Catalonian independence and why many of the paladins of said idea are not really nice people. That is absolutely irrelevant to the point; as you said, we should be working for Catalonians to widely accept and embrace Spanish nationality, but instead our government and a lot of our population is dead-set into giving them even more reasons to go away, starting with the big one: saying that they cant do anything but be Spaniards even if 100% of them hate the idea.

39

nastywoman 10.02.17 at 12:24 pm

– or as a Catalan friend remarked – the whole thing hasn’t been thought through at all because what would the holy FC Barcelona do?

Play against itself in some ‘Catalan League’? – and all the ‘fureign’ (”Spanish”) players in the Barcelona team wouldn’t qualify to play in a ”Catalan Team”?

Impossible!

40

Philip 10.02.17 at 12:54 pm

I don’t know enough about the different arguments but
this seems to be an interesting twitter feed.

I’m a dual Spanish citizen, and I’m half Catalan and half Castilian so this whole situation in Spain has been very disheartening to me.

As a person On The Left, it’s in my training to reject Nationalism in any form. It’s almost always a destructive force. .

Not to be all Ron Fournier about it but this crisis has been largely fueled by craven Nationalism on both sides.

Financial crises fuel nationalism. We saw this in the 1930s and we’re seeing it all over Europe with a resurgence far right parties.

Post 2008, Spain hasn’t seen its own version of Front Nationale or UKIP. Spanish nat’lism hasn’t turned on immigrants, it’s turned on itself

As we’ve seen from the images today, the right wing government in Madrid is incredibly craven and reactionary. Almost fascistic.

Rajoy has used his hardline stance against Catalunya to shore up his base of support in a moment of economic hardship for Spain.

And as @bcqer points out, it’s a good way to distract from an unbelievable corruption scandal that has plagued the conservative party.

That isn’t to say that the movement for an independent Catalunya is a left wing emancipatory one. It just isn’t.

Catalan nationalism has typically been conservative, especially in the democratic era. CiU, which ruled Catalunya for decades, is neoliberal

The current ruling coalition, which supports independence, is led by a conservative (Puidgemont) in an alliance with anti-capitalist parties

Literally the only thing they have in common is a sense of shared nationalism. That’s it. That alone should give people pause.

In fact a lot of the leftists that are veterans of the labor movement and anti-Franco resistance reject independence

That said, that doesn’t mean that Catalunya shouldn’t be allowed to vote. It absolutely should. Madrid’s actions today are heinous.

Allow the vote, and make the case for Catalans to stay in solidarity with their brothers in other regions. Do The Work, so to speak.

Catalunya is the richest region of Spain and has a lot of values worth admiring. It should be on the vanguard of a more just Spain.

In summary my stance is “For Self-Determination. Against Independence. Fuck the Police. And Fuck the PP”.

41

Trader Joe 10.02.17 at 1:41 pm

I asked this question of a Spanish friend of mine recently for much the same reason and perhaps omitting some of that person’s own biases (they are opposed to separation) they noted the following:

– The analogy is IRA-Northern Ireland and the time frame of conflict is about 150 years, not recent weeks. This is the latest episode, but hardly the bloodiest and hardly the worst. Much like the IRA, the ETA is both a political and a para-military (or terrorist depending on perspective) organization. Its hands are not clean and its often a matter of perspective as to where the fault lies between Spain and the separatist movement.

– There is a long history of violence on both sides. The ETA has been more and less militant over different portions of its history and there have been assorted splinter groups of the ETA (much like in Northern Ireland) which haven’t been shy in using bombs or other violence, particularly against the police.

– The police/military are far from innocent however. There have been multiple chapters of ‘dirty war’ instigated by the police against the ETA or its factions to try to weaken it internally, destroy its funding and eliminate its leaders. The state has generally regarded them as terrorists (fairly or not) and treated them as such – that’s the State perspective.

-As with many things local support is mixed. Those in favor of separation are extremely in favor of it. Those in favor of “remaining” don’t tend to have a strong conviction, but are opposed to violence or just want the matter resolved. Obviously the rest of Spain is largely opposed as the Catalan region is quite valuable to Spain’s overall GDP.

Cynically, I think staging a vote which was likely to provoke a violent response is a bid to gain sympathy – they were told countless times not to vote and that the vote wouldn’t be recognized (supposedly it was 90%-10% in favor of separation, but a hardly representative sample of voters participated).

Likewise, its hard to in anyway condone the State response. Clearly too heavy handed both optically and actually. All that said, its hard not to doubt that this is just another chapter in a long running saga and sadly a lot more blood will be shed on both sides before its resolved since there seems to be little interest in negotiated outcomes and no compromise on either side.

42

LFC 10.02.17 at 1:44 pm

43

Jesús Couto Fandiño 10.02.17 at 2:26 pm

#39 ETA is about Basque separatism, not Catalonian separatism. The thing is, for decades the “Basque” situation was the intractable one because there was an armed terrorist group, while Catalonia was the example that “everything could be done democratically”.

Now ETA is more or less dead and guess what, there is a need of some other conflict to hide how absolutely corrupt and incompetent our leaders are.

44

Alex K. 10.02.17 at 2:41 pm

In three recent European referendums, about 37-38% of the eligible citizens voted “leave”: Scotland 2014, the UK 2016, and Catalonia 2017. However, Scottish unionists voted en masse in 2014 (the turnout was 85%) while Spanish unionists mostly stayed home.

45

Stephen 10.02.17 at 4:05 pm

Trader Joe

As I understand it, ETA are a Basque faction, about as relevant to events in Catalonia as the IRA would be to Scottish nationalism.

46

Suzanne 10.02.17 at 4:51 pm

@37: The notion that you can’t become independent unless all your residents agree is pretty much a recipe to deny legitimacy to independence movements of any kind (which I’m sure was the intent). Such movements rarely begin with a majority, because the majority aren’t going to stick their necks out to be accused of treason or worse. It would have prevented the American Revolution, since many Tories were driven out or chose to leave. Not terribly consistent.

47

Layman 10.02.17 at 6:24 pm

bob mcmanus: “No the better argument, codified in the post-Civil War amendments, was that a State, by seceding, may nor deprive some of its internal residents, those who wished to remain US citizens, of their US citizenship, rights and privileges.”

Well, the fact that it was codified in post-Civil War amendments makes it clear it wasn’t in the Constitution _before_ that. It’s still the case that Lincoln invented a prohibition that many people thought didn’t exist, and that arguably didn’t exist even looking at it from this great distance. This is especially true since it was the Constitution of a state which only existed because it seceded from another state over the objections of a substantial number of the citizens who would be forced to secede against their will. It would take some nerve to claim that the good people of 1776 had this inherent right, but the bad people of 1860 didn’t.

48

Eamonn 10.02.17 at 8:10 pm

On September 6 the wafer thin nationalist majority (based on 47% of the vote in the 2015 election) in the Catalan Parliament rammed through a referendum law in a single day’s debate
The following day it rammed through a transition law, giving the Catalan executive plenary powers and making it immune from judicial control.
The Parliament’s own legal staff refused to sign off on these extraordinary measures and the parliamentary majority refused to send them for review to the Consejo de Garantías Estatutarias de Cataluña, the Catalan body charged with ensuring that Catalan legislation is in accordance with the rights and obligations set down in the Estatut, the Catalan Constitution. So before any national level court intervened in all this, *Catalan* institutions had already thrown grave doubt on these measures’ legality.
The only people involved with organising and managing the poll were those whose life’s ambition is to “get rid of the colonisers”, as President Puigdemont is wont to put it in unguarded moments.
Regardless of what the government of Spain does or fails to do, there can’t be a democratically acceptable referendum until there’s a broad consensus within Catalan society that one is necessary and we would appear to be miles from that.
When and if such a consensus does arise there will be nothing in the world the government of Spain could do to stop it.
If I was a Catalan nationalist I’d stop shouting about Francoism and start figuring out why so many Catalans vote for parties that want nothing to do with independence.

49

Trader Joe 10.02.17 at 8:16 pm

Please Ignore my comment @41….I’ve clearly conflated the Basque and Catalonian independence efforts which is of course entirely my error.

50

Mario 10.02.17 at 9:05 pm

I imagine the Catalan push for independence might seem, to EU elites currently pushing for more integration (id est, less nation state) like a very ridiculous (and quite inopportune) anachronism.

There is one thing that nags me personally in all of this is: isn’t wanting to have a country based on your ethnicity… er…. fundamentally racist? I would like to know good arguments as to why that is not the case, because I’m really quite unsure about what to think about it.

51

Moz of Yarramulla 10.02.17 at 11:03 pm

bob@37 I think legally strong, that US citizenship supersedes local majority self-governance. There are Catalans who do not want to secede, and benefit from being citizens of Spain. What would you tell them?

That nationality is simple conceptually but complex in practice, and the balancing act between majority wishes and minority rights is even more complex. But in the end, the right not to be made stateless is more important than the desire to be a member of any particular state. The practical resolution is likely to be that Spanish citizens will each get to decide which state they want to be a member of, and it may even be the case that dual citizenship is encouraged.

But regardless of that, the European Union means that Spanish citizens will be able to travel to or live in the state of Catalan, just as they can live in Poland or Greece. That’s very different from the People’s Independent Nation State of California splitting from the United States of What’s Left of North America, because even if they both signed up to NAFTA etc residents would still need passports and work permits and the other 99 types of bureaucratic hell that the USA fetishises.

52

bob mcmanus 10.02.17 at 11:34 pm

It would take some nerve to claim that the good people of 1776 had this inherent right, but the bad people of 1860 didn’t.

I may be wrong, but my memory says that the 1776 right to secede was abrogated in 1789, because part of ratification of the Constitution involved the debts of the individual states under the Articles of Confederation becoming nationalized.

In any case, the South perhaps fought for slavery, but the North claimed to be fighting for Union. IOW…never mind this shouldn’t become an American Civil War thread.

53

Glen Tomkins 10.02.17 at 11:35 pm

Layman,
@30 — I strongly recommend reviewing Lincoln’s First Inaugural. It is lawyerly in some of the worst senses — he does use a bit of sophistry in some of his arguments, and he is arguing for one side, so doesn’t always spell out the best arguments the other side might make, or go out of his way to state his concession to points on which their argument might have some validity. But it is also lawyerly in the best sense. He lays out the matters in dispute comprehensively, then makes his case for his side of the argument comprehensively, not ignoring the strongest arguments the other side could make.

Lincoln anticipates your point, and argues it down decisively. While he claims that secession is inherently not lawful in itself, he also argues that the unilateral secession the Confederacy practiced cannot be justified even if secession were legitimate. Yes, the states entered the Union voluntarily, but not by their will alone. The original 13 needed at least 8 others of their number to agree to there being a Union for them all to enter. All the later states needed Congress to pass a law admitting them. And in the often decades between admission and secession, all of these states made all sorts of bilateral agreements with the US. Divorce may be legal, it may be a natural right even if it were not recognized by the law, but divorce has to be by agreement of both parties under the law, not the willful act of just one of them, who seizes all the community property as he leaves the marriage without regard for the rights of the other party. Ft Sumter was far from the first and only US property that the seceding states stole, far from the first and only contingent of the US Army they fired on and killed or made prisoner. In seceding, while asserting full rights to all lands within their boundaries that they had formerly ceded to the US, they refused to give up their claims to the US territories.

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Moz of Yarramulla 10.03.17 at 1:29 am

Mario@50: I see it more as a discussion about which functions of government should be done by the different levels of government. In that light the EU tries to extract border control, standards and some financial management from national to EU level. At the other end of the scale, rubbish collection is usually done by local government. Some people hope to see the EU eventually resemble “proper” federated states like the USSR or USA, or even Australia (made up of 500-ish nations before federation)… perhaps better examples should be found?

To me, Catalan independence is saying “less national level, more state level government”, or in economist language “what does Spain give us that we can’t get from the EU”.

Putting it in racial terms make even less sense than US racism, where there is at least a visible difference between the “races”. I don’t think “Spanish” counts as a race, let alone the microethnic categories that subdivide it. I haven’t seen any calls for non-Catalan ethnics to be removed.

55

Tabasco 10.03.17 at 2:03 am

“European Union means that Spanish citizens will be able to travel to or live in the state of Catalan”

Assuming that the state of Catalan is in the EU. Spain could veto its membership.

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Layman 10.03.17 at 5:09 am

“If I was a Catalan nationalist I’d stop shouting about Francoism and start figuring out why so many Catalans vote for parties that want nothing to do with independence.”

When you’re done wondering about that, start wondering how the referendum got 90% approval from the voters. Did the ‘no’ votes stay home? If there are a lot of ‘no’ voters, was it clever of the Spanish government to make it hard for them to vote?

57

Layman 10.03.17 at 5:20 am

Mario: “There is one thing that nags me personally in all of this is: isn’t wanting to have a country based on your ethnicity… er…. fundamentally racist?”

I guess that depends on your current state. If you’re a religious minority in a state with an established religion which is intolerant; or a lingual minority in a state which discourages use of your language; or an ethnic minority in a state which oppresses your ethnic group; then I imagine wanting to have your own country is a sensible, even defensible position. Again, what do we think about Tibetans? Must they be Chinese citizens? Are they racist if they don’t want to be Chinese citizens?

58

Fake Dave 10.03.17 at 8:54 am

I’m seeing a lot of very strange analogies posted here and I think it’s reflective of a lot of fairly ignorant commentators trying to make sense of a very confusing situation. I can’t really wrap my head around Catalan independence either, but I do know that the American Civil War is a terrible analogy. The American South wasn’t a nation that had existed as a distinct linguistic and cultural group for more than a thousand years. Nor was “America,” for that matter. European ethnic nationalism/self-determination movements might be seen as justified or not depending on your perspective and how they go about achieving independence, but they obviously exist in an entirely different framework from secession movements in places like the USA that were never really nation states to begin with. Also, the Confederacy was about one-third enslaved, and an unknown, but likely substantial proportion of its population was composed of mostly poor, mostly white unionist “hillbillies” who were never really consulted, so you can’t really argue secession was about the right to “self-determination” or even supported by most Southerners. The Confederacy’s government was essentially an aristocratic oligarchy and its justifications for secession were more about socio-economics than national identity (except insofar as they considered “slave owners” to be their national identity) so comparisons to populist secession movements motivated by a genuine yearning for national autonomy make very little sense.

One way to consider the Catalan drive for independence is to ask oneself how, exactly, they came to be ruled from Madrid in the first place. Consider that the personal union of Ferdinand and Isabella, which united the kingdoms of Castille-Leon and Aragon-Catalonia to produce the empire called “Spain,” began with them as equal co-rulers. Aragon was majority Catalan and a fairly even match of its western neighbor (at the time, there were no American colonies and Aragon dominated the Western Mediterranean). Personal union ended ended a dangerous rivalry and allowed them to drive the Muslims from Andalusia, and dominate the Iberia, Western Europe, and the Atlantic for centuries to come. Ferdinand of Aragon had himself come from a Castilian family, however, and the large and prosperous Catalan community in and around Barcelona wasn’t even Aragonese — except in feudal terms — so they were always a nation inside but apart from the rest of Spain and never got to choose their overlords, but being a minority in a feudal nation (where they had powerful local lords to protect them) is very different from the reality of living as a minority in a nation state.

The Catalan people (and Catalonia’s well-developed civil society) have never had much opportunity to decide for themselves if they wanted to be “Spanish” or not and every time it looks like they might try to make that choice for themselves, Madrid steps in to remind them that they have no right to that choice. Franco took the choice away once, and the Constitution of 1978 seems to have mostly deferred it. No one really wants another civil war, but as long as there is this sense that Catalans are Spanish subjects rather than citizens, Catalan nationalism (or anti-nationalism) will remain a powerful political tool for good and bad actors alike.

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SusanC 10.03.17 at 10:51 am

People have a tendency to project their own country’s history on to these kind of things.

When I try to explain UK politics to my friends from former Yugoslavia, they express surprise that I’m not more worried than I appear to be; they’re probably imagining a British version of the breakup of Yugoslavia.
On the other hand, when I, as a Brit, see the current situation in Catalonia, my thought is the Spanish government is mishandling it and if they’re not careful it will turn into a Spanish version of Northern Ireland.
Posters from the US immediately think of the US Civil War.

All of these are probably wrong.

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SusanC 10.03.17 at 11:05 am

P.s. Although these historical comparisons are very dubious, the Spanish government is possibly informed by the recent British experience of what happens if you allow an independence referendum… (even one that is de jure non-binding)

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engels 10.03.17 at 11:24 am

Sending in the national guard seemed like the right way to address disobedience of school desegregation, but disobedience of a banned vote?

Unlike school segregation, holding an illegal ballot doesn’t harm anyone.

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Z 10.03.17 at 11:38 am

Is it reasonable to force a geographically sound cultural minority to remain subjects of a state within which they don’t want to remain? I can’t see how. Must the Kurds remain minority Iraqis and Turks, against their will? Must Tibetans remain Chinese?

I very much agree with that, and believe it is the only position fully compatible with the UN Charter (“All peoples have the right of self-determination. By virtue of that right they freely determine their political status and freely pursue their economic, social and cultural development”). To the list of exemples, I’d like to add Kosovo, which seceded from then Yougoslavia.

So I tend to support the principle of organizing politically for independence, even when I would personally disapprove of the outcome (for instance I support the principle of the Savoie independence movement even though I completely oppose the idea of Savoie independence). Catalans in favor of independence should, I believe, have the right to organize in favor of it, for instance by organizing referenda, without having their hands smashed by police. If a majority of them is indeed in favor of independence, they should have the right to politically express that and, eventually, to secede. Ditto for Scots, Welsh, Flemish, Quebecois, Bretons, Corsicans and proud residents of Galt Gulch.

In a just world, how else could it be?

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Salem 10.03.17 at 12:10 pm

But many independence movements (including Catalonia and Quebec) don’t have their language discouraged by the state; rather, they are the ones discouraging other groups’ linguistic usage, through the federal entity they control. Further, one of the drives towards independence seems to be to shake off the shackles of the pesky federal courts, so they’re freer to persecute those who’d rather not speak their language.

I don’t know if that’s racist, but it’s questionable at best.

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steven t johnson 10.03.17 at 1:46 pm

The interesting question is why Scotland seceding from the British (rump) Empire was so controversial, while the prospect of secession from Spain is not. It’s not because the central government is Francoist, because it’s not. It is Catalan secession that will prompt the central government to revive the Francoism that was so carefully left in reserve by democratization, not the Francoism prompting the secession. (Besides, good liberals lover Ukraine, which is approximately the same kind of anti-Popular Front government.) My instinct is that the real problem is socializing Spain, rising above the corruptions of democratization, not national partition, which mat be capital’s divide et impera.

I suspect a good bit of the support for Catalunya is that it will be a stronger force for the current world order than the rather ramshackle Spanish state. By my lights, that means Catalunya shows every sign of being a more potent neoliberal state. It’s the Lega du Nord turning North Italy into a powerhouse unencumbered by the South. I’ve heard that the new Catalunya will include Valencia and the Balearic Islands, but not Aragon. It seems like it should be the other way around. But, is this actually true?

Perhaps another way of expressing this is to say is breaking up English imperialism is like trust-busting. But breaking up Spanish imperialism is like spinning off a healthier company out of a failing corporation. The phrase “nascent imperialism”one hears in reference to China, Russia, even Syria, seems to be absent from the debate.

As to the violence of the Spanish state, speaking as a US national I am not impressed. Somehow I think US cops would have accomplished much more intimidation, especially with an actual body count.

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Jesús Couto Fandiño 10.03.17 at 3:13 pm

I dont think anything of value is added by trying to see this as an “ethnic” conflict. Stuff is already complex enough. Some of my friends have 2 perfectly Catalonian surnames and are against this referendum (but pro a different, better referendum). Some very vocal supporters of independence are descended from inmigrants. Etc.

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Stephen 10.03.17 at 4:54 pm

Layman@57

Your criteria do seem to demolish the case for Scottish independence. Scots are not:
– a religious minority in a state with an intolerant established religion. There is indeed a Church of Scotland, which is the established national church: it’s Calvinistic and Presbyterian,
– a lingual minority in a state which discourages use of their language. Most Scots speak a dialect of English, which is in no way discouraged and is no more incomprehensible outside Scotland than Geordie is outside north-east England. A small minority(around 1%) of Scots speak Gaelic, a very distinct language, but as far as I know there is no demand for an independent Gaeldom.
– an ethnic minority in a state which oppresses their ethnic group. In the 20th and 21st centuries, Scots have been so little oppressed in the UK that Balfour, Campbell-Bannerman, Bonar Law, Ramsay MacDonald, Macmillan, Douglas-Home, Blair and Brown could reasonably be counted as Scots Prime Ministers; and Cameron’s father was Scottish but heavily anglicised. (There were another 14 non-Scots).

So I think that you should, logically, disapprove of the SNP. Do you?

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Suzanne 10.03.17 at 5:11 pm

@53: Since Lincoln was never going to agree to allow the South to leave under any circumstances, there would seem to be little point in talk. If your wife locks the house door against you without any discussion, even though discussion would be fruitless since you won’t let her go, do you get to set it on fire, even if you know or believe she’s being unreasonable and the house is in your name?

I also think offhand of the Louisiana Purchase, a transaction in which the residents of Louisiana had no say. It was regarded as constitutionally dicey at the time; if you could buy a state, could you sell a state? The buyer was of course Thomas Jefferson and there’s an irony in there somewhere.

And for all his lawyerly arguments, Lincoln’s personal identification with the Union was very strong and got stronger as the war went on and the butcher’s bill rose.

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Ogden Wernstrom 10.03.17 at 5:22 pm

@30 Layman 10.02.17 at 5:48 am:

Lincoln won the argument, but he didn’t win it by making a _legal_ argument.

As Glen Tompkins pointed out, Lincoln did make a legal argument in his inaugural address of 1861. (Beginning about paragraph 11) But you are right, he did not win by making that argument; the law was enforced via violence. [Thank you, Glen – I had never read that address until today.]

It’s hard to make a convincing case that states, having voluntarily entered into the union, may not voluntarily exit the union.

You must be reading the apologists of The Confederate States of America to make that silly argument. Does someone make a successful legal argument that a written agreement is something that a party may unilaterally breach without consequence? But your statement could be right because you used the word “voluntarily” in place of “unilaterally”.

Is it reasonable to force a geographically sound cultural minority to remain subjects of a state within which they don’t want to remain? I can’t see how. Must the Kurds remain minority Iraqis and Turks, aganst their will? Must Tibetans remain Chinese?

You left out the Palestinians, the Mapuche, the Meth Addicts, the Cajuns, the Nyungar, the Ecotopians, the Inuit and the Anarchists – but I should not expect a comprehensive list (ibid., para. 22). I also do not expect any universal answer to your question – if there is an inherent right to secede, don’t we all end up as Sovereign Citizens? We then enter alliances with each other, without anyone but our sovereign selves to enforce the terms of those alliances…which might develop some sort of feudal structure…eventually we create bigger alliances (to protect us from other big alliances) and give them some authority to set fair standards and enforce agreements…pretty soon, we each work for a Sovereign Corporation and pay taxes. Or some such….

Wouldn’t it be wiser for Spain to invest in _convincing_ the Catalans they’d be better off in Spain than not? If they can’t convince, isn’t that a problem in and of itself?

Yes, but…Rajoy. (An acquaintance at Complutense says that he thinks Rajoy is using Trump’s methods, freshly spurred-on by last week’s meeting.)

@47 Layman 10.02.17 at 6:24 pm:

bob mcmanus: “No the better argument, codified in the post-Civil War amendments, was that a State, by seceding, may nor deprive some of its internal residents, those who wished to remain US citizens, of their US citizenship, rights and privileges.”

Well, the fact that it was codified in post-Civil War amendments makes it clear it wasn’t in the Constitution _before_ that.

Surely you are not arguing that only enumerated rights are to be recognised by the USofA? That appears to be a narrow interpretation of the Ninth Amendment.

It’s still the case that Lincoln invented a prohibition that many people thought didn’t exist, and that arguably didn’t exist even looking at it from this great distance.

Arguably, you do not exist from whatever distance there may be between us. I’ll let those with a better foundation in philosopy explain, if needed. I think that one side of such an argument about Lincoln comes from glibertarians and from apologists for The CSA [something about culture and heritage], and their reasoning is motivated by a particular outcome.

This is especially true since it was the Constitution of a state which only existed because it seceded from another state over the objections of a substantial number of the citizens who would be forced to secede against their will. It would take some nerve to claim that the good people of 1776 had this inherent right, but the bad people of 1860 didn’t.

The good people of 1775-1783 paid dearly to win against unilaterally-imposed rule. The good people of 1861-1865 paid dearly to enforce a voluntarily-entered agreement.

The “bad people of 1860” paid dearly for their attempt to unilaterally exit an agreement.

As far as the recent events in Cataluña are concerned, I have the idea that the differences are being trumped up for political purposes – by both Rajoy and the separatist parties. There is the same sort of emotional appeal that works on supporters of Trump or Netanyahu.

Once the separatists start an alliance with Macron, we will know they’re serious.

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nastywoman 10.03.17 at 6:37 pm

– and so – when you spend some time in Barcelona and my favorite Tossa de Mar – and then you spend some time in Valencia or in Andalusia – and it is 2008 and it is 2009 and it is 2010 that especially your Catalan friends are less and less happy about thinking that they have to pay -(with their taxes) – for example for ‘the Ruta del Despilfarro’ and they like to tel some German friends that they – the ”Katalanen” are actually ”the Germans of Spain” who – to say it in English: ‘Have their s… under control’ while ‘them Southerners” don’t and so some ‘grievances’ grow and grow – together with all kind of other ‘grievances’ -(some already mentioned here) and then the ‘grievances’ grow so strong that people decide to yell: ”Independence” or Brexit or some West Germans want their DM back or some East Germans their ‘social paradise’ and everybody basically is very confused because they actually don’t know about ‘Independence from what’? – and the only dudes who are kind of NOT confused are the soccer fans who say: But, but, but what insanity trying to ‘secession’ the FC Barcelona…

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Stephen 10.03.17 at 6:47 pm

Susan C@59

A British version of the breakup of Yugoslavia would seem unlikely. There is no obvious parallel for the Serbian/Croatian massacres of the 1940s, nor for the loyalties of the Croatians/Slovenians to the Hapsburg empire.

A Spanish version of Northern Ireland seems equally unlikely. I don’t think there is a Spanish version of the Protestant/Catholic divide going back to the 16th century (a time when there were indeed Spanish Protestants, soon exterminated); nor a tradition of Castilian terrorists trying to overthrow a Catalan state in the 1920s to the 1990s, against the wishes of the actual Catalans.

As for the US Civil War: if there is evidence of black slavery in Catalonia, please do let us know.

“All of these are probably wrong”, you said. Indeed.

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Chris Bertram 10.03.17 at 8:20 pm

@Z, I’d suggest that the last hundred years offer few examples of secessions and partitions unaccompanied by massive ethnic cleansing or at least the oppression of those now in the “wrong” country and seen by their new masters as being not “proper” Ruritanians, or, worse the agents of a foreign power (followed by campaigns of “normalization”). There are examples where it has all gone off reasonably peacefully, such as the end of Czechoslovakia, but the experience of Abkhazians, Georgians, Armenians, Azerbaijanis, Bosnians, etc etc has not been fantastic. Like war, start the process and it is hard to get out and hard to know where it will lead. Good reason not to start.

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Stephen 10.03.17 at 8:36 pm

CB @ 71

How does your opinion (too often justified, I entirely agree) apply to Irish independence, 1920s, or to the proposed incorporation by force of an unwilling Northern Ireland into a united Ireland then and in subsequent decades?

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bob mcmanus 10.03.17 at 9:48 pm

Ogden Wernstrom :Once the separatists start an alliance with Macron, we will know they’re serious.

This made me laugh out loud. Okay, darkly laughing.

The implication of neoliberalism does make me wonder about thinking discussing reading about the new relationships to land and polity as borders become porous and nationalism becomes optional and performative. The old models may not apply to the new cosmopolitans. Well, some may. Anyway, not what’s a repetition of history, but what is new here in Catalonia?

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Mario 10.03.17 at 9:51 pm

Salem @62 is right in that the Catalans aren’t very oppressed.

As a matter of fact, if you are not of Catalan origin, you will find it difficult to get a permanent professorship at a Catalan university. At least, that’s what I’ve been hearing from my Spanish friends for close to a decade now (before that, none were aiming at professorships) – and some of them are Catalans. As far as I know, this is even institutionalized. It is legally legitimate to discriminate against non-Catalans in such a situation (and IIUC it is the same in the Basque country).

Membership in an ethnicity is, by definition (although, compare with R. Tuvel, 2017), determined by being born to a family of that same ethnicity. The difference to a ‘race’ is superficial. A standard issue Spaniard and a standard issue Catalan have about the same genotypic and phenotypic differences between them as a standard issue German and a standard issue European Jew had in 1939. So, frankly, I’d say the Catalan independence movement is a racist movement. But I’m willing to accept an alternative interpretation of the issues.

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bob mcmanus 10.03.17 at 10:02 pm

And if you want some history, after looking at the 15 Laws in the referendum I am more reminded of Red Vienna and the People’s State of Bavaria than the American Civil War.

There is a global class faction getting aroused, the young (overeducated and not) and hopeless who don’t feel represented. They were the most fervent supporters or Trump, HRC, Sanders, Corbyn, etc. These are not the workers or petty bourgeois.

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Dero 10.03.17 at 11:20 pm

Bravo Fake Dave @58 – exactly what I was getting agitated about reading this thread.

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alfred venison 10.03.17 at 11:23 pm

re: whether or not there are modern federal states with an “exit clause”.

any province can leave the canadian federation.

the government of canada is considered to have a legal obligation to enter into separation negations in the event that a clear majority of a province’s residents vote in favor of independence in response to a clearly worded referendum question.
this is spelled out in the “clarity act” of 2000:- https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clarity_Act

the “clarity act” (2000) was passed by the canadian parliament in response to the supreme court of canada’s finding in its “Reference re Secession of Quebec, [1998] 2 SCR 217, 1998 CanLII 793 (SCC)”:- https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reference_re_Secession_of_Quebec

the supreme court of canada’s finding was made in response to three questions submitted to it by the minister of intergovernmental affairs, stephen dion (currently ambassador to berlin), regarding the legality of unilateral secession under canadian & international law.

canada is ready in the unlikely event, eh. -a.v.

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Steve 10.03.17 at 11:25 pm

Stephen@70

I can only imagine that you didn’t read Susan’s comment carefully enough. Surely, your comment backs up her post – it’s very tempting to look at the situation in Cataluyna/Spain and then think about the case via your own national situation, but that analogy is almost certainly misleading. (To make this more concrete: I’m Welsh. When I was growing up, Welsh Nats used to claim that Cardiff was like Barcelona, but with rugby. (This was somehow linked to a vague historical memory of the role of the miners brigades in the Spanish civil war). They then used data about Catalonia to ‘prove,’ claims about Wales. That was deeply misleading, but, still, when I saw coverage of the protests this weekend, my automatic response was to imagine the police breaking into my Primary School and beating up my parents. Yes, that is silly. But, surely, that was Susan’s point?)

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Marc 10.04.17 at 1:35 am

We’re all coming into this with biases; my opinion is colored by the friends I have there who are not Catalan and whose entire situation would be thrown into chaos with an independence movement. As Europe becomes more ethnically mixed the calculus of nationalism gets more complex. And, yes, other friends there are passionate nationalists. Nothing is simple.

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Heliopause 10.04.17 at 1:46 am

@58
“I can’t really wrap my head around Catalan independence either, but I do know that the American Civil War is a terrible analogy. “

Yes, and this is quite an understatement. The notion that we should be taking our cues from a 19th century society where the primary issues were just how bad human slavery is and how best to ethnically cleanse the remainder of the continent is, uh, bizarre. I mean, Franco happened hours ago by comparison.

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Orange Watch 10.04.17 at 3:00 am

Stephan@66

– a lingual minority in a state which discourages use of their language. Most Scots speak a dialect of English, which is in no way discouraged and is no more incomprehensible outside Scotland than Geordie is outside north-east England. A small minority(around 1%) of Scots speak Gaelic, a very distinct language, but as far as I know there is no demand for an independent Gaeldom.

This is a controversial point, linguistically speaking. Scots is per some scholars a dialect of English, but others put it as the language most closely related to English. The UK recognizes it as a regional language, however, so from a governmental perspective the matter is pretty well and good settled in a manner that disagrees with your above analysis.

Note that Scots is not Scottish Standard English, which is what I imagine you were referring to above.

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hix 10.04.17 at 3:10 am

The criteria for a permanent public sector jobs is fluency in both catalan and spanish, not ethnicity or not?
Still very questionable but not quite the same is offical discrimination by ethnicity.

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Layman 10.04.17 at 4:32 am

Stephen: “Your criteria do seem to demolish the case for Scottish independence.”

Yet I didn’t offer them as definitive set; merely as a counter to the argument that secession movements are necessarily racist.

“So I think that you should, logically, disapprove of the SNP. Do you?”

Not really, no. Go pounce on something else.

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Layman 10.04.17 at 4:45 am

Ogden Wernstrom: “The good people of 1775-1783 paid dearly to win against unilaterally-imposed rule. The good people of 1861-1865 paid dearly to enforce a voluntarily-entered agreement. The “bad people of 1860” paid dearly for their attempt to unilaterally exit an agreement.”

It strikes me that this is a bizarre, untenable basis for justifying the actions of any of these people. Who imposed rule on the good people of 1775? That rule had existed for generations. They were born into it, as were all their countrymen. None of the good or bad people of 1861 had ever entered into any agreement; their grandparents had, grudgingly, and with a tacit understanding that it was the states which were, in the end, sovereign.

It would be far simpler to say that secession is, for you, good when it meets with your approval, and bad when it doesn’t.

“Surely you are not arguing that only enumerated rights are to be recognised by the USofA? “

Perish the thought. I’m arguing that you can’t very well say that the Constitution was clear on the point before the war if it was necessary to amend it to be clear on the point after the war.

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Suzanne 10.04.17 at 5:30 am

@68: “The good people of 1775-1783 paid dearly to win against unilaterally-imposed rule.”

The slaves making for the British lines would have been surprised to hear they were running from government of the good people, whose eventual constitution would be chock-full of accommodations to slaveholders, including the Electoral College that is still with us today. Had the Good People stayed loyal to their monarch, American slavery might have ended sooner with many fewer dead.

Sorry. Back to Catalonia…..

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Eamonn 10.04.17 at 7:22 am

CB @ 72 Stepehen

The independence of Ireland was achieved by a campaign of guerrilla nafrare and terrorism and was followed a Civil War.

. the new state soon lost a considerable proportion of its Protestant population.

In NI, after the defeat of the IRA a complex repressive apparatus was set up keep the minority population in its place.

Despite Brexit induced speculation,I think the only conceivable circumstances in which NI would become part of a united Ireland would ones involving a deep rejigging of the status of the UK and Ireland, some kind of confederal arrangement perhaps?

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Moz of Yarramulla 10.04.17 at 7:23 am

None of the good or bad people of 1861 had ever entered into any agreement; their grandparents had, grudgingly, and with a tacit understanding that it was the states which were, in the end, sovereign.

In Australia we have the schoolyard slur “we grew here, you flew here”. To which my adult response is “I chose Australia, you’re Australian by accident”. I don’t think that has any relevance to who is really Australian (or real Australian), but plays into the question of whether someone who had no choice in the matter should be bound by the treaty.

The British parliamentary tradition that laws not bind future parliaments is increasingly honoured in the breach (especially via trade agreements, but see also Brexit). So there is an argument there that constitutional change must not just be possible, but that the legitimacy of the state rests on change being achievable.

I grew up in Aotearoa, a country with no constitution but where constitution-level change is relatively common. While I was growing up we gained the Waitangi Tribunal which is arguably the site of supreme law in NZ, and we changed our voting system (UK-style FPP to German-style MMP). We also suddenly had to have a passport to visit Australia, and fight the police to oppose apartheid (and have a permit for each gun. The list is long). So count me culturally bemused at the idea of the eternal, unchanging political institutions that apparently infest other countries.

Especially with Spain, the idea that a 1970’s constitution is anything other than a provisional work in progress seems bizarre. How did they find the omnipotent, omniscient being to write the thing, and is it still available to clean up a few other areas that could use attention?

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Z 10.04.17 at 9:47 am

Chris Bertram

I’d suggest that the last hundred years offer few examples of secessions and partitions unaccompanied by massive ethnic cleansing or at least the oppression…

Yes, but the last hundred years also offer few examples of secessions and partitions which were the outcome of a democratic process. I take that as an obvious precondition. I don’t think the record of secession that do satisfy this precondition is that bad, but even if it were, I don’t think it is a dispositive argument for the following reason.

Like war, start the process and it is hard to get out and hard to know where it will lead. Good reason not to start.

That’s where I completely disagree (in the abstract). I believe people should have the right to start (process of secession, not wars, to be clear). I believe it is an essential component of the democratic system that people may experiment and see for themselves what the outcome of the experiment is, even if it is obvious (to me) that the experiment will lead to bad outcomes . And, yes, I obviously realize that this means people will often experiment in directions I disapprove of or which are harmful to me or to people I care about, but that’s a feature, not a bug. So I’m perfectly prepared to believe that it would be catastrophic (or at least very bad) if Catalonia left Spain, so I’m perfectly prepared to listen to arguments saying (for instance) that one should absolutely vote No in the referendum. Arguments against the referendum itself or against its principle, I find considerably weaker (this logical articulation is also where I think we disagreed on immigration law, in that I personally believe – probably like you – that a very broad freedom of circulation and installation is the way to go yet I also believe in the right of political groups to democratically organize in favor of other options, whereas I understand you to argue for a more deontological and as such more absolutist understanding of the matter).

89

Dipper 10.04.17 at 10:03 am

The EU finds itself in a difficult position, as anything it does will appear to be interfering in the internal affairs of a member state or alternatively condoning police brutality against EU citizens.

The EU also found itself in a difficult position post the Brexit Referendum in the UK with regards to Scotland as this article makes clear. Ultimately despite the photos of smiles and handshakes with Nicola Sturgeon they have not had any meaningful discussions because of the risk of setting a precedent with a potential breakaway state.

Scotland has a clear right to break away form the UK if it so desires; it entered into union voluntarily and can voluntarily leave, something ardent pro-unionist English people such as I all concede. I am not sure of there is any such legal basis for Catalonia.

90

Z 10.04.17 at 10:16 am

Or to be concrete, suppose Catalonia secedes and on day one decides that whoever is not a true Catalan according to their spurious criteria cannot be a civil servant anymore, so that thousands of people are suddenly laid off. Do I disapprove? Of course. Am I convinced that the supposed benefits in terms of protection of the cultural identity of Catalonia or similar BS are transparent pretexts to pander to xenophobic segments of the electorate? Yes.

But I also don’t see that such a political move and such motivations would be so out of the ordinary that political movements advocating for them should be barred from normal political expression. After all, it frequently happens that recently elected right-wing or neoliberal governments unexpectedly lay off thousands of civil servants with equal disregard for the human impact as in my hypothetical scenario and with equally spurious motivations (offering tax breaks to the ultra-rich, pandering to the market fundamentalists…), and though many people oppose such moves, I don’t see many people seriously entertaining the thought that campaigning on such ideas is a bad idea in principle or should be outright illegal.

91

Layman 10.04.17 at 1:41 pm

Heliopause: “The notion that we should be taking our cues from…”

Did someone actually say we should be taking our cues from the Civil War? The closest I can find is a suggestion that (~like Lincoln) the Spanish government should not lead with violence. Is that a bad cue? If we drop the Lincoln bit, is it still bad advice?

92

Scott P. 10.04.17 at 1:43 pm

“The notion that you can’t become independent unless all your residents agree is pretty much a recipe to deny legitimacy to independence movements of any kind (which I’m sure was the intent). Such movements rarely begin with a majority, because the majority aren’t going to stick their necks out to be accused of treason or worse. It would have prevented the American Revolution, since many Tories were driven out or chose to leave. Not terribly consistent.”

Well, no, because every people always has the ability to eschew legal means and to attempt to violently tear the state apart by force, as in 1776 and 1861. The upshot is that you should have a really good reason for doing so, and be willing to pay the price. The signers of the Declaration of Independence were very well aware that they were putting their lives at risk.

93

Bloix 10.04.17 at 2:36 pm

[Banned commenter, apols to those who have replied.]

94

steven t johnson 10.04.17 at 3:20 pm

Layman@84 “None of the good or bad people of 1861 had ever entered into any agreement; their grandparents had, grudgingly, and with a tacit understanding that it was the states which were, in the end, sovereign.”

No, there was no such tacit understanding. The first words of the Constitution are “We, the people…” Nor was the Constitution ratified by the states, they were ratified by popular conventions. And Article Nine states “The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.” The people, not the states.

The existing government, under the articles of confederation, did not establish the new government. Moreover, as I think was mentioned above, the new government was not established by unanimous vote of sovereign states. It is thoroughly illogical to conclude that a national government can be established in lieu of the confederation by a mere plurality of sovereign states.

Some people promoting the Constitution professed to believe it did not institute a national government. It is never possible to be completely certain they were invincibly stupid. But a more plausible explanation is that they were discreet with the truth. It is true that there are distinct limitations on national powers. It is difficult enough to reconcile the full faith and credit clause, or the commerce clause with any notions of state sovereignty. But it is impossible to reconcile the fugitive slave clause or the injunction that national treaties are national laws with any theory of sovereignty.

It was Jefferson whose Kentucky and Virginia Resolutions tried to revive such notions in a severely polarized political climate still roiled by the French and Haitian Revolutions. But in practice it was Calhoun who really promoted this states’ rights revisionism.

Suzanne@85 “The slaves making for the British lines would have been surprised to hear they were running from government of the good people, whose eventual constitution would be chock-full of accommodations to slaveholders, including the Electoral College that is still with us today. Had the Good People stayed loyal to their monarch, American slavery might have ended sooner with many fewer dead.”

Gerald Horne is wrong. The American Revolution in the end was the death knell of property suffrage and slavery, in the north. The question of why this was the opposite of true in the south is not really an issue for Horne, which leaves his work as irrelevant. As for the idea Parliament would have abolished slavery in all their colonies means they would have been attacking elite property not just in a handful of islands but in a whole vast realm. Thinking the politics of abolition could possibly have worked out the same way in defiance of the balance of power is absurd.

But the US Civil War is not nearly as irrelevant as claimed. How does the country get divided up? What happens to national properties in Catalunya? What happens to Catalan properties in the rest of Spain? Where does the national debt go? How do the Euros in the banks get divvied up? How do you even tell the difference between Catalan and “Spanish” Euros? The business support for these demonstrations that the Catalan independence movement smacks of support for an economic war of liberating property.

CUP is eco-feminist and advocates participatory democracy? I even saw a reference to it as a “degrowth” party! Is it really a left-wing party at all?

95

Rob Chametzky 10.04.17 at 3:29 pm

War of American Secession

For those needing help in understanding why secession is precluded by
the US constitutional framework, Akhil Reeed Amar’s “America’s Constitution”
~pp. 35-50 is highly recommended reading. In brief: as ARA shows, everyone arguing about ratification at the time thereof knew it was precluded; that, indeed, was one of
the points of the whole enterprise, and it accounts for some of the specific language and structure of the US Constitution.

–Rob Chametzky

96

Yankee 10.04.17 at 3:42 pm

About the Civil War, there was the Compromise of 1860. If both sides had stuck with the deal they made, there might have been room to avoid few hundred thousand deaths and misc. other disruptions. Slavery was being deprecated globally, over time. Cotton was soon to become a glut on the market.

Maybe, just maybe, self-sovereign nation-states and not the plus ultra of political systems.

@Stephen: Spain was slightly involved in the religious wars of the 16th. You might regard the current Spanish state as the shrunken remnants of their Empire which used to include Holland, not to mention extension of sovereignty overseas.

97

Layman 10.04.17 at 6:31 pm

@ Rob Chametzky, Amar certainly makes that argument. Nevertheless, there were founders on both side of the debate and the point was argued for decades before the Civil War.

98

nastywoman 10.04.17 at 7:06 pm

– so you guys really and obviously didn’t want to discuss the (probably) main reason for this stupid outbursts of reactionary – and self-defeating ”nationalism”?

99

Ogden Wernstrom 10.04.17 at 7:50 pm

@84 Layman, continuing to appear to demand a single, simple standard by which all secession shall be judged:

Who imposed rule on the good people of 1775? That rule had existed for generations.

Is there an assumption that rule is about who rules rather than the nature of that rule? (This reminds me that Obama should loudly, publically thank the Republicans for designing a tax plan that will be to his personal benefit.)

The rule of George III began in late 1760. The things that most incited the American Revolution happened in the lifetimes of the signers of the Declaration of Independence. Perhaps I should have used the word, “rules”, to indicate the laws imposed upon the colonists. That might have cut off this attempted semantic argument.

They were born into it, as were all their countrymen.

It is not clear what power over peoples lives you want to give the accident of birth; I assume this sentence was only an expansion of “[colonial rule]…existed for generations”, and is not meant for a discussion of the US Civil War.

None of the good or bad people of 1861 had ever entered into any agreement; their grandparents had, grudgingly, and with a tacit understanding that it was the states which were, in the end, sovereign.

The states entered into an agreement. All of the states of 1861 were parties to the agreement. Only Rhode Island had referred ratification of the US Constitution directly to the people. (They rejected it. Any begrudgement appears to be an internal matter for each state.) I think that the 14th Amendment clarified that the states do not have sovereignty over the people.

It would be far simpler to say that secession is, for you, good when it meets with your approval, and bad when it doesn’t.

Yes, I’ll go with simple. I generally approve of secession that improves liberty and equality. (Fraternity would be a bonus, and I’d have fries with that.) But that approval may be subject to considering other costs. That’s as close to a General Theory of Secession as I have come, and I do not claim to have worked out the details.

@73 bob mcmanus:

This made me laugh out loud. Okay, darkly laughing.

The old models may not apply to the new cosmopolitans. Well, some may. Anyway, not what’s a repetition of history, but what is new here in Catalonia?

Thank you for seeing the intent, and for recognising the reference to Cataluña’s occasional past reliance upon France. (Maybe they’ll get Rosselló back?)

The current strife does not appear (to my limited, pre-biased view) to share much with the old strife. Current separatism appears to have a going-Galt component, and claims of anything ethnic are as diluted as the population has become. The culture appears to be celebrated, rather than oppressed. It appears that the main gain in autonomy would be that the tax Euros would stop flowing to Madrid.

100

Keith 10.04.17 at 8:23 pm

It may be true that Nationalists and separatists are ready to “pay the price” for breaking an existing political unit, which may have existed for hundreds of years in different forms like Spain. But the point is they are imposing such sacrifice on those who do not believe in the mythic benefits of separation, who may be a majority or even a large minority in their own territory. They are careless of the interests of the rest of the unit as well as of people who disagree in Catalonia. As His Most Catholic Majesty the king of Spain correctly observed in his TV speech. The point about the Spanish Constitution of 1978 is that it was a compromise to allow the restoration of the Parliamentary system by reassuring both sides democracy would not threaten National unity while allowing devolution. Trying to break it by unilateral secession is very stupid and dangerous. This is what gave franco the excuse to start the civil war as champion of unity and conservatism. The alliance between the Nationalists and left in catalonia is a open invitation to the Spanish Tories to repeat the exercise of stomping on the more radical regions by using the threat of sedition and separation. The whole exercise is staggeringly stupid and unnecessary and will do nothing to reduce poverty or unemployment or correct the effects of the financial crisis and austerity. As a response to failing to win the Spanish general election it is daft. Why not try winning more votes next time round? If the king decides to send the army to crack heads the Catalans will have a lot more to complain about.

101

Glen Tomkins 10.04.17 at 8:50 pm

It is not at all foolish to claim that any other nation’s problems with divided sovereignty are bad analogies to the Spain and Catalunya’s present problem. But you can’t do science with an n of 1. Other nations’ and other times’ experience with divided sovereignty may be lousy evidence, but it’s the best evidence we have for understanding the structure and pattern of what is happening in this particular instance of the general problem.

I urge those of you on this thread who know the particulars of this case better than the rest of us (those of us who have to rely solely on analogy) to consider that you acquired this greater familiarity by being involved in this particular case, and that you therefore have commitments that make it more necessary for you to step back and consider all the analogous relevant cases, because that is the only way you are going to get any objectivity to your understanding of the structure of what is happening. You don’t want to be carried away by your loyalty to any of the causes involved, or imagined to be involved. Part of the usefulness of bringing in analogy to something like the US Civil War is that this problem of divided or “messy” sovereignty lends itself to dramatic and destructive turns, like the sudden outbreak of war, because we tend to get categorical quickly and unthinkingly when feelings of loyalty are involved, but war tends to mindlessly destroy all values any of us are loyal to.

It’s not as if bringing in a historical analogy poses any threat of deciding the rights and wrongs of this case pre-emptively. We aren’t agreed about the rights and wrongs even of cases long passed. That’s one of the chief benefits of considering these cases from 150 years ago, that the lack of agreement over what even happened in those cases, much less which side had the right or wrong of it, might instruct people to be cautious in their judgments of the present particular case.

As an example, you can’t get clarity on the rights and wrongs of the secession of the Confederate states unless you can follow all of the twists and turns as Lincoln works his way through them in the 1st Inaugural. We tend to distort his position to fit more recent controversies, but I don’t think you can make any sense of what he and the other actors said and did unless you understand that he disagreed with secession, but agreed completely with nullification. That’s so foreign to the current alignment of political loyalties in the US (embrace “states’ right vs consider their invocation a sure signifier of support for treason in defense of slavery) that it gets glossed over. But if you can’t bother to disentangle the threads even in a cold case important to where your nation came from, how can you hope to untangle the threads of divided loyalties in a still active case?

102

Eamonn 10.04.17 at 9:00 pm

CUP = leaving Spain will help bring an end to capitalism in Catalonia. a sovereign people!! a sovereign people!! a happy people!!!!! a people with dreams !!!!! Spain is not a democracy, Venezuela is a democracy. the Catalan nations !!! the Catalan nations !!! (note plural). Rinse, repeat

No, I haven’t gone to their meetings or read their proposals in depth. They get loads of coverage on Catalan state media tho and those are the kinds of things they say

103

Antoni Jaume 10.05.17 at 1:19 am

nastywoman 10.03.17 at 6:37 pm

What you describe is a human foible.

In Southern Europe we have been told for centuries that we are not as good as the peoples in Northern Europe. It is false, but here we do not understand that. So we try to earn good points by saying we are like the big boys and imitating them.

As for me, IIRC, I was eleven in 1970 when I read an article in the French magazine Science & Vie titled “An 2000, La Suède, Pourquoi?”, that waxed lyrical about the reasons that a study, by the Hudson Institute under the direction of one Herman Kahn, had to claim that in the year 2000, Sweden would be the best country. I think that at the time oil was not yet a consideration for Norway. None of the reasons advanced were hard to grasp, so to me the real question was not why Sweden applied them, but why we did not. My guess, since then, is that the ruling class in Sweden could not avoid it or they would be replaced. Think healthcare in the USA.

nastywoman 10.04.17 at 7:06 pm

“[…]this stupid outbursts of reactionary – and self-defeating ”nationalism”?”

You mean Rajoy government reaction? Because for Catalans not doing anything means to disappear, more or less slowly.

104

nastywoman 10.05.17 at 2:53 am

@102
“[…]this stupid outbursts of reactionary – and self-defeating ”nationalism”?”
You mean Rajoy government reaction?”

Yes – that too.

And
”What you describe is a human foible.”

Agreed – and not only you in Southern Europe have been told for centuries that you are not as good as the peoples in Northern Europe. The East Germans have been told by the West Germans and as so many times mentioned here US so called ‘Blacks’ have been told by US ‘Whites’ and in kind of a crazy way F…face von Clownstick has told Americans that they are NOT as ‘good’ as workers as for example THE Chinese because ‘we the people’ are NOT ‘winning’ against them.

And then you write: ”Because for Catalans not doing anything means to disappear, more or less slowly.”

That’s why now: ”Catalonia First”?

105

Heliopause 10.05.17 at 2:55 am

@91
“Did someone actually say we should be taking our cues from the Civil War?”

Lots of people have brought it up. If “take our cues” is unacceptable substitute whatever phrase you prefer.

106

Collin Street 10.05.17 at 2:59 am

Hrm. India’s been redrawing all its state borders on ethnic lines for years. Realistically the EU is a single polity and member-state borders are internal: drawing sovereign borders on ethnic lines has a bad reputation, but does anybody have any data on internal borders?

(Also, of course, the catalans and the central government had a negotiated-out autonomy framework that Rajoy and the spanish judiciary shat all over.)

107

nastywoman 10.05.17 at 3:10 am

AND if I wasn’t clear enough let me compliment and repeat @93

”People don’t live in racially isolated geographic units. They mix, intermarry, own property, and live among one another. Taking all the connections apart is a violent affair. The catastrophic outcome of the horribly misguided breakup of Yugoslavia is only one example.”

– as we are talking about Catalonia and Barcelona – one of these cities in the world – where like in cities like London or in Zürich – the ‘mix’ has led to a tremendous admirable ‘mix’ of open-minded people – who understand – that telling others that we are not as good – or better as others – is false.

108

Layman 10.05.17 at 4:15 am

Ogden Wernstrom: “Layman, continuing to appear to demand a single, simple standard by which all secession shall be judged…”

Really, I don’t now what the fuck you’re going on about.

109

Dipper 10.05.17 at 8:30 am

To quote a friend, it feels like we are in the middle of something but it probably won’t be clear exactly what we are in the middle of for a hundred years or so. European politics is largely about the consequences of nationalism, and the EU is, paradoxically, making nationalism easier by providing an umbrella of governance that appears to allow groups of people the opportunity to grab what is left of the role of the state for themselves whilst continuing to enjoy the basics of law, trade, and finance provided by the EU. The EU finds itself in the strange position of defending existing states whilst at the same time removing their autonomy.

Physicists search for simple laws or quantities that help measure and understand what is going on. In modern politics that quantitiy would be political representation, and the law is that people vote for whomever maximises their political representation. As Clinton/Trump showed, given the choice between a nice person who doesn’t represent them and a diabolical person who does represent them, most people will vote for the diabolical person.

A “left wing” view is little use and seems to serve mainly to justify the superiority of the person arguing over their opponents. A recent discussion on here had Trump supporters denounced as racist, but interviews with Trump voters in the key states just after his election showed not people voting for racist reasons, but people who had given clear thought to their predicament and had decided Trump was the best option for them. Some of these people had voted for Obama, so it is not clear how an explanation of racism helps understand their choices.

Similarly in Europe a “left wing” view now has people having to decide between “good nationalists” i.e. Scotland and Catalonia and “bad nationalists” i.e. UKIP, East Germans voting for AFD. This kind of discussion doesn’t help us understand what is going on, or help coming up with solutions other than “my team is better than your team”.

110

nastywoman 10.05.17 at 9:42 am

@ 109
”Similarly in Europe a “left wing” view now has people having to decide between “good nationalists” i.e. Scotland and Catalonia and “bad nationalists” i.e.”

Not really – as in the Netherland in France and in Germany -(a yuuuge chunk of Europe) ‘- given the choice between nice persons who doesn’t represent them and diabolical persons who does represent them, most people voted for the nice persons.

Which isn’t actually quite different from Clinton/Trump – as Clinton/Trump showed – the majority also didn’t vote for Trump – just same crazy US… situation erected him ‘President’!

111

lurker 10.05.17 at 9:48 am

‘The catastrophic outcome of the horribly misguided breakup of Yugoslavia is only one example.’ (Bloix, 93)
Is Rajoy’s kind of Castilian nationalism as big a threat to other ethnicities as Milosevic’s Serbian nationalism was?

112

John Quiggin 10.05.17 at 11:24 am

@109 If there is a leftwing view of Scottish and Catalan “good nationalists”, it’s not showing up here. Some kinds of nationalism are worse than others, since nationalism slides easily into racism. That accounts for the worse treatment of UKIP and, even more, AfD.

113

John Quiggin 10.05.17 at 11:27 am

On a related issue, it now looks as if trainwreck Brexit is on the way, unless the UK government falls first. The Federation of German Industries (the ones who are supposed, in Brexiteer mythology to bring the EU to its senses and negotiate a deal) are saying that German firms with a presence in Britain should make provisions now for a “very hard Brexit”.

http://www.reuters.com/article/britain-eu-germany/update-1-prepare-now-for-over-the-cliff-brexit-germany-industry-says-idUSL8N1MG1OA

114

Layman 10.05.17 at 11:36 am

Dipper: “As Clinton/Trump showed, given the choice between a nice person who doesn’t represent them and a diabolical person who does represent them, most people will vote for the diabolical person.”

I think you’re unintentionally right. The entire purpose of two dozen years of right-wing mud-slinging (Whitewater and Travelgate and Vince Foster and carpetbagger and devious-standing-by-her-man and New World Order and Muslim brotherhood and Benghazi and emailz and so on) was to convince people that she was diabolical. In the end, most people voted for her, diabolical and on their side. The rest voted for the other guy.

115

Z 10.05.17 at 11:50 am

To quote a friend, it feels like we are in the middle of something but it probably won’t be clear exactly what we are in the middle of for a hundred years or so.

Well, in the vein of what you go on to write, I think that what we are in the middle of is the increasing divergence of different territories within the European Union, and especially within the Eurozone. Stiglitz last (?) book is good on the economic aspects, but I think it is by now clear a more general phenomenon is under way.

So people from Catalonia feel they operate in increasingly different ways from people in Castilla (and it is probably accurate that they do in a number of significant ways) just like the people of Rhône-Alpes or Bretagne feel they operate in increasingly different ways from people in Hauts-de-France or just like people in Bavaria feel they operate in increasingly different ways from people in Epirus to take a more extreme example.

For a while now, the European system’s stability has depended on the willingness of governing elites to stick to the European project, but I think a good case can be made that even that time has passed (with each countries more and more often gaming the European system to its own advantage, see among many others the recent conflict between the Commission and Ireland). So there remains only the economic and diplomatic power of Germany. I am not optimistic that this can last very long.

116

Dipper 10.05.17 at 12:02 pm

@ John Quiggin

“nationalism slides easily into racism. That accounts for the worse treatment of UKIP”.

To the disappointment of many on here and elsewhere, UKIP have been particularly firm about avoiding a slide into racism. In fact, it could be said that the essence of Farage’s political genius was to be aware of the possibility of racism in UKIP and ruthlessly expel it wherever he found it.

German firms with a presence in Britain should make provisions now for a “very hard Brexit”.

Presumably that means increasing their manufacturing presence in the UK so they can continue to sell products here without paying self-imposed tariffs and navigating self-imposed customs hurdles.

117

Mario 10.05.17 at 12:02 pm

John Quiggin (@113)

Do we know what the Catalan movement thinks of people of color? Of refugees? Of muslims?

I’d bet a lot that they are every bit as racist and despicable as the AfD. Racism is racism.

118

Dipper 10.05.17 at 12:09 pm

@ nastywoman.

Missing the point here. Lots of people in these countries voted for people they felt represented them who happened to be nice, not because they were nice.

And again on the USA yes we are all aware that more people voted for Clinton than Trump, but the US Presidential rules which were not secret require the winner to win the college not get the most votes. Voters in those key swing states were entitled to vote for who they felt best represented them, just as were citizens of California, New York etc. Clinton’s failure to do the mathematics and get on the plane does not make the voters in those places racists.

119

Layman 10.05.17 at 1:03 pm

Dipper: “And again on the USA yes we are all aware that more people voted for Clinton than Trump…”

…but apparently not so well aware that you didn’t write the opposite.

“Clinton’s failure to do the mathematics and get on the plane does not make the voters in those places racists.”

Look, you’re either ignorant of how people voted and why, or you’re being deliberately deceptive. In either case, you’re wrong. So, you know, move on.

“Similarly in Europe a “left wing” view now has people having to decide between “good nationalists” i.e. Scotland and Catalonia and “bad nationalists” i.e. UKIP, East Germans voting for AFD. “

So you say, but your track record doesn’t inspire confidence. Let’s see some examples of people who frame these questions the way you say they do.

120

nastywoman 10.05.17 at 1:10 pm

@118
”Clinton’s failure to do the mathematics and get on the plane does not make the voters in those places racists.”

The idea that if people vote for a racist F…face – it could be IN ANY WAY the ‘failure’ of somebody who campaigned against such a despicable idiot – never will stop to amaze me…

121

nastywoman 10.05.17 at 1:17 pm

and @115
”I am not optimistic that this can last very long.”

With every dude from Catalonia marrying a Brit – or a German – or a German marrying a Brit or an American hanging out with a dude from Madrid and a girl from Madrid moving to Sweden – and a girl from Denmark getting very involved with an Italian this will last longer and looonger. And as it happens ALL the time -(you once should vacation on the Costa Brava in summer) – and so with the help of the Euro – because nobody wants to lose the Euro – I am tremendously optimistic, that Europe will stick PEACEFULLY together – come crazy and racist nationalists here and there and even in Catalonia…

122

John Quiggin 10.05.17 at 1:24 pm

@116 Many things could be said, that doesn’t make them true. I’ll turn the mike over to well known lefty, Jonathan Arnott, former UKIP MEP

http://www.hartlepoolmail.co.uk/news/jonathan-arnott-resigns-over-ukip-s-attitude-towards-muslims-1-8587359

123

Jesús Couto Fandiño 10.05.17 at 1:25 pm

#117 The “Catalan movement” is a coalition of right wing and left wing and left of the left wing parties who is only held together because of sharing the idea of an independent republic, and would (will?) descend into a nasty knife fight (metaphorically speaking… maybe…) in about 2 seconds of actually getting that.

As such, you have everything from people that think that Catalonians are a superior breed of human beings that should not be burdened with having to provide for lazy stupid Spanish subhumans to people that swear this is the start of the new and proper Worker Republic of Catalonia where everybody will live free in a post-capitalist dream, to, well, IMHO of course, the big majority of them “just wanting our own state, bro”.

Bit useless to try to make them all fit in one category… same as the rest of us in the rest of (current?) Spain.

124

John Quiggin 10.05.17 at 1:42 pm

@117 Quite possible, given general characteristics of nationalism, but no evidence . How about Rajoy and his nationalist party?

125

nastywoman 10.05.17 at 1:42 pm

and nearly missed @116
”Presumably that means increasing so they can continue to sell products here without paying self-imposed tariffs and navigating self-imposed customs hurdles.”

No – it could mean – that their manufacturing presence in the UK – which provides around 9000 well paying jobs for UK workers – would go to Germany -(or other ‘European countries)??!

126

Jesús Couto Fandiño 10.05.17 at 1:59 pm

#121. That is a bit more easy to find out, the current darling of the Catalonian branch of the PP, Xavier García Albiol, has used the islamophobic card for years.

Although if I dont remember it wrong CiU (the previous iteration of Puigdemont’s party) also had a lot of similar instances.

Not to mention the traditional view of some that the #1 existential threat for the Catalonian republic and “race” are the “hordes of Andalusians” inmigrating there.

You can get a look at that and more if you understand Spanish, at https://es.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heribert_Barrera, Barrera being an historical leader of the left wing nationalist ERC party.

I dont think is of a lot of use to get into this because I think, maybe naively, that this is not precisely a significant part of what most people think about the issues at hand. No need to see what side has the most racists uncles at the table, we all have. But what do I know, I didnt think we were going to get to this clusterfuck either.

127

kidneystones 10.05.17 at 2:07 pm

Catalan is not a ‘race’, nor is any faith a race. Mormons are not an ethnicity, or a race. Jehovah’s Witnesses are not a ‘race’ or have a set of beliefs based on genes, or ethnicity. Buddhists do not belong to any particular gene pool, or ethnicity, Christians come in all shapes and sizes, as do folks who worship Islam.

There are plenty of people in universities who have very hostile views (bigoted?) towards Christians, especially if these Christians happen to be of European ancestry and oppose homosexual behavior. The same folks manage to suppress this hostility towards conservative Christians, should these folks be African-American. There may well be considerable hostility towards conservative Christians, but a rather more forgiving attitude directed towards observant members of other faiths, even when these faiths advocate violence against gay people. Communists managed to make homosexuality a crime, and/or psychiatric disorder.

Homogeneity as birds of a feather is a common enough behavior in nature as to be observed without comment. The Catalans have every right to self-identify as a homogeneous community without being accused of racism. Others, however, do not enjoy the same privilege, according to some, because racism.

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Eamonn 10.05.17 at 3:05 pm

@113 “Do we know what the Catalan movement thinks of people of color? Of refugees? Of muslims?” in general, would prefer any /all of the above to incomers from the rest of Spain. Better Muslims that Murcians, as it were.

(yes, I know, Baños, Rufián and some other Cat. nat standard bearers are of Spanish descent, the zeal of the convert, the love that’s hammered in etc. And look at the current Cat. cabinet
http://www.govern.cat/pres_gov/govern/ca/govern/consell-executiu/index.html

Apart from Forn’s second name, 100% ethnic Catalan pedigree )

129

lurker 10.05.17 at 3:15 pm

@117
Wrong comparison. You should argue that Catalan nationalists are just as racist as Spanish nationalists; you might even be right.

130

Rob Chametzky 10.05.17 at 3:27 pm

@Layman 10.04.17 at 6:31 pm, #97

@ Rob Chametzky, Amar certainly makes that argument. Nevertheless, there were founders on both side of the debate and the point was argued for decades before the Civil War.

Not wanting to get all textegitical, but I’m a little unclear how to read your comment.
So: what point are you saying there were founders on each side of?

(A) Is it that there were founders who were against precluding secession and founders who were for precluding secession? (B) Or is it that there were founders who believed the Constitution precluded secession and founders who believed it did not?

The answer to (A) is pretty clearly “yes”, and Amar gives examples.

Basically saying “no” to (B) is Amar’s big point. Amar’s argument actually has two parts: (1) secession is precluded by US Constitution and (2) those arguing about ratification, on both sides, understood (1) to be the case, with the evidence for (2) providing evidence for (1).

The argument over ratification, he says, was between Federalists and anti-Federalists who all understood that the Constitution precluded secession, and whether that was acceptable was one (pretty major) part of the larger ratification argument.

Now it is doubt true, depending in part at least on who counts as among the “founders”, that examples could be given of some who believed the Constitution did not preclude secession. Crucially, Amar shows/argues that the public records of the debates and private writings/letters of debaters do not include this view. Perhaps Amar is (overly) selective or biased in his (presentation of his) scholarship. I can’t say, but that would seem to be required to counter his argument.

As for later views, Amar also addresses this, explaining, for example, how/why misunderstandings of the language and context of the Constitution could (and did)
lead to such mistakes.

Genug. Basta. Enough.

–RC

131

Z 10.05.17 at 3:31 pm

Mario

There is one thing that nags me personally in all of this is: isn’t wanting to have a country based on your ethnicity… er…. fundamentally racist?

To begin with, I doubt that the supporters of Catalan independence rely heavily on the notion of ethnicity, and I would rather bet than anyone born and raised in Catalonia and speaking Catalan is considered by them as a typical prospective Catalan citizen, independently of ethnicity.

But beside that, as Adam Ferguson observed already in An Essay on the History of Civil Society, whenever a group of people defines itself as a people, other people are excluded, so any form of secession or independence does indeed contain an element of exclusionary thinking. Yet I think it would be catastrophic to confuse this perhaps necessary (though perhaps unfortunate) side effect of the self definition of a people with an ideology of racial domination or racial exclusion, for which I would reserve the word racist. To begin with, at present, every mode of collective decision making relies on an underlying definition of who gets to participate, so if supporters of Catalan independence are to be considered fundamentally racist simply by virtue of politically organizing in favor of a Catalan state, then every citizen of every democratic country in the world is fundamentally racist in exactly the same way. Also, any mode of reasoning that leads you to judge the anti-colonization movements of the past decades, which often explicitly appealed to ethnicity or a strongly exclusionary sense of cultural identity to justify their existence, as fundamentally racist is probably offtrack somewhere.

Of course, all this does mean that I believe supporters of Catalan independence are not or cannot be racist; I’ve seen first hand many supporters of Savoie and Quebec independence making use of pretty nasty arguments and basic statistics already imply that many Catalans must be very racist. All I’m saying is that we should not come to this conclusion based solely on their support for this political option (and conversely I don’t think very pro-European and internationalist governments like my current own one should get a pass on the horrific policies they actually enforce with respect to migrants or asylum-seekers just because their members can give eloquent speeches on the virtue of open transnational governance).

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Lupita 10.05.17 at 4:25 pm

Some kinds of nationalism are worse than others, since nationalism slides easily into racism.

Where does this happen? I have not noticed Latin American nationalism sliding into racism, that is, Guatemalans saying they are superior to Hondurans, Cubans telling Dominicans to check their privilege, or Uruguayans feeling diminished by Paraguayans, and yet, in Latin America, nationalist sentiments are as present as elsewhere together with a regional identity. Regarding race, I challenge anybody to determine, by their looks, whether a person is Mexican or Peruvian, Castilian or Catalonian, Italian or Greek, French or Iranian. Once you leave out the minorities of what Westeners call white and black, you are left with the vast majority of humanity whose “race” does not even have a name. Let’s call them cosmopolitan brown. What is the good of national racism if you can’t tell the national races apart?

It is a peculiarly Western notion that nationalist sentiment must be avoided because it easily slips into Hitlerian genocide, a notion that cannot be universalized. This leads to many Westeners seeming incapable of rationally addressing the nature of national societies without bringing up their fear of them, sooner or later, transforming into murderous oppressors and world-wide plunderers. In contrast, Latin Americans do not share these profound fears about their societies. Au contraire, most fear being plundered by the Western institution called the IMF.

This leaves us with the original questions Catalonian separatism brings up: what is the nature of national societies and do they have the right to self-determination? If so, under what circumstance and using what procedures? This can and must be universalized. Forget about racism.

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Lupita 10.05.17 at 4:44 pm

Also, any mode of reasoning that leads you to judge the anti-colonization movements of the past decades, which often explicitly appealed to ethnicity or a strongly exclusionary sense of cultural identity to justify their existence, as fundamentally racist is probably offtrack somewhere.

Exactly, dear Z.

134

Dipper 10.05.17 at 5:40 pm

@ John Quiggin – 117 Farage had not been the leader of UKIP for a while at the time of that quote. With the party’s purpose fulfilled it is sliding into irrelevance. The drift towards an anti-islamic party is simply hastening its demise and so making my point.

@ Layman. That isn’t what I said. I’m not going to respond to you picking at things I didn’t say.

@ nastywoman. Germany has a massive trade surplus with the UK. Tariffs and customs problems will make them selling their goods here harder, making it more profitable to move manufacturing here. There are already stories of Brexit forcing companies to – horror of horrors – moving their supplies from overseas producers to domestic producers.

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Scott P. 10.05.17 at 5:42 pm

I am afraid though that the EU isn’t strong enough to keep Europeans together without their states. And what autonomy the Catalans want they essentially already have within Spain today. Partly this seems related to the Brexit fantasy that if group X only withdrew from a larger federation it would be able to arrange things to its favor, but ignoring the fact that withdrawing from the federation means losing lots of things that benefit it as well, so that the net effect is neutral or negative. And then you are left with appeals to national identity.

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Chris Bertram 10.05.17 at 5:59 pm

@Z well, nationalism has this in common with racism, that it advocates discriminating against individuals on the basis of a characteristic that is very difficult for an individual to change. Even when others are tolerated as members, the notion of a “normal” citizen can have markedly exclusionary effects. Scottish nationalism has actually been quite good on some of this stuff, but I’d be interested in the details of any proposed nationality law.

“Also, any mode of reasoning that leads you to judge the anti-colonization movements of the past decades, which often explicitly appealed to ethnicity or a strongly exclusionary sense of cultural identity to justify their existence, as fundamentally racist is probably offtrack somewhere.”

Careful now, lest we look to closely at the facts. Many anti-colonization movements, in seeking to define the nation excluded from it ethnic groups who were seen as having been too friendly with the colonizers, among others. The attempt by the government of Myanamar to represent the Rohingya as “illegal immigrants” and to deny them citizenship has plenty of precedents. Rejecting the rule of colonial powers was a good thing, seeking to reproduce the mono-ethnic fantasy of the European nation state throughout the world was not.

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engels 10.05.17 at 6:08 pm

Where does this happen?

The idea that nationalism can’t be harmful outside of the West seems hard to take seriously with but just one current example:

http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/features/2015/10/rohingya-151024202611276.html

138

Layman 10.05.17 at 6:11 pm

Rob Chametzky @ 130

Madison held that there was a “right of seceding from intolerable oppression.” He saw this as something other than a right to secede at will, but I hope you’ll agree that ‘intolerable oppression’ is hardly a rigid standard, being to a great extent in the eye of the oppressed.

Jefferson actually threatened succession in 1799. Morris held that secession was “entirely constitutional” in 1812. The Massachusetts legislature considered secession in 1808. There are plenty of examples.

The founding fathers had to reconcile their view that the union was inseparable with their own rebellion against their government. At least some of them dodged, asserting that while there was no right to secession at will, there was an inherent right to secession under the right circumstances. They were splitting hairs, I think.

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Harry 10.05.17 at 6:33 pm

“Careful now, lest we look to closely at the facts”
Yeah; and google “female genital mutilation Mau Mau”. There’s plenty more where that came from.

140

James Wimberley 10.05.17 at 6:56 pm

Further to Eamonn’s point about secessionist fantasy, I recommend looking for anything at all about defence expenditure in the secessionist platform. They appear to think independent Catalonia will be welcomed with open arms by the EU, rather than the diktats being ruthlessly applied to much bigger Britain. These would surely include NATO membership. Some existing members like Portugal spend about 1% of GDP on defence, but the agreed target is 2%, and this could easily be imposed on a new applicant. Add to this a more realistic scenario on Catalonia’s share of Spanish national debt, and the gravy held out of a plusher welfare state becomes invisible.

Another area they do not seem to have thought about, even less excusably, is cultural diplomacy. There is a large community of Catalan speakers in the Valencia region, with no secessionist sentiment of note; in the Balearics; and in French Roussillon. Catalan nationalists want to preserve the language and other creatures of the culture everywhere it exists, which means good relations with the governments of these areas. Independence will get in the way of this, as suspicions of irredentism will be hard to allay.

141

nastywoman 10.05.17 at 7:05 pm

@134
”Tariffs and customs problems will make them selling their goods here harder, making it more profitable to move manufacturing here.”

Hopefully for our British friends – but always the question:
”What type of manufacturing” – as for example our British friends had sold all of their ”Crown Jewels” of Manufacturing – from the Rolls to the Bentley down to the Mini to… Germany?

and so – Yes – ”Germany has a massive trade surplus with the UK.”

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Collin Street 10.05.17 at 8:02 pm

The thing about tarrif and customs problems with german-made goods being difficult to sell in the UK is that… the EU doesn’t and won’t run export regulations to get entangled in, so any problems will have to come from the UK side, either deliberately (making a mockery of Uk open for business rhetoric) or accidentally as a result of UK administrative incompetence.

(In any case the big problem will be the breakup of supply chains: trade barriers have a compounding effect, so unless you go full juche…)

143

John Quiggin 10.05.17 at 9:59 pm

Trade theory would certainly predict that since the UK will see a big decline in services exports (most notably financial services) there will be a corresponding reduction in goods imports, with local production substituting. But, as Collin Street says, the complexity of production chains means that lots of intermediate production will be moved offshore to avoid multiple border crossings.

In any case, this is a long-run equilibrium story. On Day 1 of a train-crash Brexit trade in goods will slow to a crawl, unless the EU can be persuaded to spend a lot of money setting up massive border inspection posts (and of course, the UK has to do the same, a task which doesn’t even seem to have got to the planning stage yet).

144

J-D 10.05.17 at 11:06 pm

Dipper

Physicists search for simple laws or quantities that help measure and understand what is going on. In modern politics that quantitiy would be political representation, and the law is that people vote for whomever maximises their political representation. As Clinton/Trump showed, given the choice between a nice person who doesn’t represent them and a diabolical person who does represent them, most people will vote for the diabolical person.

Physicists have measuring instruments and measuring techniques for the quantities they measure. There are no measuring instruments or measuring techniques for political representation; the idea that it can be treated as something quantifiable like the quantities of physics is entirely fraudulent. Votes for Clinton and votes for Trump are/were countable; the reasons for those votes, not so.

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kidneystones 10.05.17 at 11:08 pm

The world was pretty much a peaceful place free of cannibalism, incest, slavery, genocide, starvation, floods, torture, superstition, worship of cows, dogs, snakes, mythical sky deities, trees, hills, water. Before Europeans showed up other peoples had no need of weapons, because Europeans in America had yet to dream up the deadly second amendment which actually caused murder.

Christianity was fundamentally racist, oppressive, and expansionist, but Islam and Hinduism advocated peace, tolerance, and an equality of respect for all faiths. Today it is entirely correct to generalize about those outside our smug, self-satisfied group while ignoring the hypocrisy of our own self-delusional claims. Case in point, a noted Republican critic, HRC fundraiser, and all-round ‘good Democrat’ and one of Hollywood’s elite is now being roundly condemned in the UK press for compelling his female employees to provide massage his nude body, and for other ‘indiscretions.’ He’s currently suing the NYT and other outlets to keep the story of the press.

Discrimination according to ethnicity, gender, sexual-orientation, place of birth, place of work, work occupation, political affiliation, religion etc. is predictable in-group/out-group behavior and we all need to recognize that’s the price of self-identifying as one of these groups. I carry the baggage of my past and my present which always filters and distorts my ability to see our world clearly.

Good thing I’m the only one here affected by this problem.

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Peter T 10.05.17 at 11:14 pm

side issue, but the customs inspection these days does not involve “spend[ing] a lot of money setting up massive border inspection posts”. It does involve intricate IT changes across multiple systems (exporters, importers, carriers, forwarders, brokers, storage and so on). These typically take years to implement. Since the details of Brexit are not known, probably all that can be done are preliminary capacity changes, mostly on the British side (EU systems already cope with large volumes of non-EU traffic, so adding British points of exit to the list of non-EU ports is presumably not a problem). Only a small percentage of goods are inspected and much of that is done away from ports of entry. As with most compliance systems, ninety per cent of people comply automatically – the enforcement is there to keep the other ten per cent from getting out of hand.

That does not mean there will not be chaos. When Australia switched on a new customs system in 2006, goods piled up on wharves because industry interfaces did not all work as planned (despite extensive testing). It’s not the tariffs (simple change), but the myriad of industry connections that have to be reset that will be the problem.

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kidneystones 10.05.17 at 11:22 pm

My bad, we are now subject to an excellent example of how our bigotry and sexism is excusable, but those of conservatives we don’t like is not: http://pagesix.com/2017/10/05/harvey-weinstein-gives-first-interview-after-shocking-sex-harassment-claims/
‘I am going to fix myself, I am going to fix how I deal with women and how I deal with my temper and power.’ He is [paying ]seeing a therapist and also [paying huge sums] being advised by attorney Lisa Bloom, a famed advocate for women. “I came of age in the ’60s and ’70s, when all the rules about behavior and workplaces were different. I worked at a record company that, if you were five minutes late, they’d hit you with a baseball bat.’

Sexism for me, but not for thee. The Catalans as a group will be just as flawed as the rest of us and expecting otherwise is self-delusion.

Laws and their implementation matter.

From what I can tell Spain’s constitution does a pretty good job of protecting minority rights, and regional interests. I respect the right of the Catalans to hold a referendum as a protest, but for the moment the folks in the region are citizens of Spain and deserve all the full protections of Spanish law, including the right to live as Spanish citizens. Will this be the case in any independent Catalonia? If the answer to this question is yes, then what exactly is the rationale for an independent state?

148

rogergathmann 10.06.17 at 7:31 am

Nobody seems to have mentioned Ukraine. Looking back, why was the U.S. so gungho for Yeltsin’s idea splitting Ukraine from Russia? Ukraine was part of Russia for a longer time than the U.S. has been a country, yet not only did it split away, but the EU and the U.S. have used every incentive to get it to move further away from Russia. I’m not asking this as a big fan of Putin – Putin, after all, is Yeltsin’s handpicked successor, and he simply amplified Yeltsin’s system of corruption and authoritarianism. Surely, though, the case for Catalonia is of the same type as the case for Ukraine. Interesting that the E.U. seems to view these as completely different instances. I think they are, in fact, very similar.

149

lurker 10.06.17 at 7:49 am

‘Discrimination according to ethnicity, gender, sexual-orientation, place of birth, place of work, work occupation, political affiliation, religion etc. is predictable in-group/out-group behavior and we all need to recognize that’s the price of self-identifying as one of these groups.’ (kindneystones, 145)
So if black Americans object to police violence, all they have to do is to self-identify as white?

150

kidneystones 10.06.17 at 9:23 am

@149 Sorry, what is your point?

I’m arguing that once we self-identify as part of group and make that our in-group, then we’re highly likely to out-group practices, beliefs, and people as strange and even suspect.

I’d like to avoid specifics, but if we’re talking about threats to people who self-identify as black, as Jesse Jackson noted, then the threat is much more likely to come from other folks self-identifying as black. Police violence against people of color, undoubtably a fact, has diminished at an extremely encouraging rate. Any is too much, but if we removed all police violence against blacks (an ideal well worth working for) the number of African-Americans being shot, robbed, and raped, would not be very different from what it is today. As for black people being bigots, the answer is yes to varying degrees depending on the out-group. Gay black men face a great deal of bigotry, especially in African nations.

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kidneystones 10.06.17 at 9:24 am

Sorry “we’re highly likely to regard out-group practices, beliefs…”

152

Z 10.06.17 at 9:25 am

Chris Bertram Careful now

Careful about what? Mario asked if building a state on ethnicity is fundamentally racist, and I pointed out that the Catalan independence probably gives very little concern to ethnicity compared to cultural identity and that if this makes them fundamentally racist, then most if not all anti-colonization movements (not to mention the UN Charter) are equally fundamentally racist, and I find that very odd to say the least. Nothing in the above is in contradiction with the fact that some anti-colonization movements have done horrifyingly racist stuff. In fact, nothing in the above would be in contradiction with the fact that all anti-colonization movements have done some horrifyingly racist stuff. My position is just that it is the doing horrifyingly racist stuff part that makes them racist, not organizing politically on the basis of a common sense of shared cultural identity. To be concrete, Latvians kept a strong sense of shared cultural identity distinct from the Russian and Soviet ones during the 250 years they were part of the larger identity on which they drew extensively to (re)gain their independence. Does anybody really believe that this, in itself, make the 1991 independence movement fundamentally racist?

nationalism has this in common with racism, that it advocates discriminating against individuals on the basis of a characteristic that is very difficult for an individual to change

In considering that Catalans in favor of independence are (perhaps even ipso facto) nationalist in the sense that they “advocate discriminating against individuals on the basis of [nationality]”, I think you are making a fundamental categorical mistake. I think you are missing that the following two questions are logically independent.

The first is 1) Who gets to decide who belongs to the political entity deciding laws in force on a given territory and group of people? Spanish people (defined in a certain exclusionary way) or Catalans (defined in a different exclusionary way) (or citizens of the EU, defined in yet another exclusionary way, or something else, but which would have to be exclusionary in the current actually existing world)? The second is 2) What is it OK to decide and what will actually be decided by the group selected in Question 1 about the people who are outside the exclusionary boundaries?

In your use of nationalism above, you seemingly navigate between the two questions in that you seem to interpret the answer “Catalans” to the first question as the answer “Catalans should be allowed to discriminate against anyone who is not Catalan” to the second question. But that is not so, logically speaking. It is theoretically possible that Catalans, having achieved political self-determination, will move on to grant full right of installation with full access to political and social rights to any permanent resident. It is even theoretically possible that the same Constitution that will enshrine the answer “Catalan” to Question 1 will also at simultaneously enshrine “Equal rights for everyone” as an answer to Question 2. At least, this is not theoretically less implausible than the same move on the part of Spanish people or EU citizens (and in fact it happened at least once historically: the 1793 French Constitution gave equal right to essentially anyone who subscribed to the ideals stated in its preamble and who wished to live in France). So if what you care about is freedom of installation, equal access to human, political and social rights etc… then the answer to question 1 should be of no concern to you, in the abstract.

Now I am very prepared to hear good arguments according to which in the actual world, an independent Catalonia would be much worse in that respect than today’s Spain (FWIW I don’t believe this at the moment, but I’m prepared to be convinced otherwise), or arguments according to which they would be about the same on that metric but that secession would be very bad for many other reasons (FWIW, I am quite willing to believe this at the moment). All these, because they point to a link between Question 1 and Question 2, would be (if true) arguments to vote No on the referendum (that I would personally find persuasive). But I don’t think they would be very persuasive arguments against the principle of organizing a referendum. For that, one would need arguments according to which exclusionary boundaries at some scales are fundamentally better or more justified than comparable exclusionary boundaries at different scales. That doesn’t strike me as impossible to achieve in the abstract, but I wouldn’t say it is especially easy either nor that the answer is so especially obvious to me that I could confidently say that Spain is an appropriate scale but Catalonia is not (or vice-versa).

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Z 10.06.17 at 9:35 am

@rogergahtmann 148 Surely, though, the case for Catalonia is of the same type as the case for Ukraine. Interesting that the E.U. seems to view these as completely different instances. I think they are, in fact, very similar.

The closest parallel, where the contrast is at its maximum, is surely with Kosovo. At least Spain gets point for coherence on this one: since 2008, it has been a staunch opponent of recognition of Kosovo as a sovereign state (other EU countries which do not recognize it include Cyprus, Greece and Romania).

154

lurker 10.06.17 at 10:34 am

@rogergathman, 148
Yeltsin did not split Ukraine from Russia. Ukraine was not a part of Russia, it was a part of the USSR, headed by Gorbachev.
Yeltsin was the president of Russian FSR, not the USSR. As long as the USSR existed, he was sort of like the governor of the biggest state, not the head of a sovereign nation. Hence his move to break up the USSR to its constituent states.

155

Matt 10.06.17 at 11:07 am

Looking back, why was the U.S. so gungho for Yeltsin’s idea splitting Ukraine from Russia?

This wasn’t “Yeltsin’s idea” in any more than an instrumental sense in that he, as the head of the Russian SSR, used that role in relation with the other heads of the various constituent SSRs (including the head of the Ukrainian SSR) to gain power. The US had little, if any, ability to control or influence this. (It created a lot of trouble for some time by creating a lot of new states holding nuclear weapons, for example.) It wasn’t a plan in any deep way, but just using the means available to gain power. (No one had expected this to be done, or even to be possible, when the heads of the various SSRs were established, but they needed to act together to make this happen.) This doesn’t seem to me to have any close comparison with the situation in Spain at all, not to be a plausible reading of the end of the Soviet Union.

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Eamonn 10.06.17 at 11:48 am

the nationalists are now going full magic realism. Junqueras, the VP says there’s no problem in banks moving their legal domiciles from Catalonia because they have only moved them elsewhere in the “Països Catalans” ( Catalan Nations/Greater Catalonia) and not Madrid. And recall that he’s by no means regarded as an extremist among the nationalists.
http://www.levante-emv.com/comunitat-valenciana/2017/10/06/oriol-junqueras-traslado-banco-sabadell/1624755.html

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kidneystones 10.06.17 at 2:05 pm

@156 Thanks for this. Just read the Telegraph, hardly reliable. But it does seem some of Catalonia’s major financial institutions are planning to move very quickly should Catalonia declare independence next week. At this point, I think the separatists see the writing on the wall. They had to hold the vote, or lose support, and hoped to capitalize on the ‘violent’ response of the Madrid government.

Except that rubber bullets, batons, and a few fractures don’t look at all like murderous repression, but ressemble what we’d expect when riot control police respond to militant unlawful assembly. As I noted upthread, I don’t see any but a fraction of the Catalan nationalists ready to start an actual civil war, and the majority (vast?) entirely unwilling to countenance even an interruption in civil services and the economic status quo.

The Madrid government, it seems to me, realizes as much and has no intention of allowing the nationalists any wiggle room, at least at this stage, calling instead for a full return to legal behavior – as in no referendum actually took place. At this stage the Catalonia independence movement looks very much like the NFL protests – a fine idea for an afternoon, or two, but something to abandoned quickly once revenues are threatened.

I fully expect to see a humiliating climbdown by the Catalan nationalists next week – packaged as a decision to delay the unilateral declaration of independence ‘in order to give Madrid’ time to grant the Catalans independence. The Spanish nationalists I know, btw, unlike the Catalans nationalists, are fully on board with any measure required to protect the Spanish nation state.

@152 This is very good. Kudos.

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nastywoman 10.06.17 at 4:07 pm

@
”Catalan independence probably gives very little concern to ethnicity compared to cultural identity”

”Probably” Yes and No – but that is so NOT-Twentyfirst Century!

159

Eamonn 10.06.17 at 4:10 pm

and here in Barcelona it’s game over I think. Artur Mas, a key figure in the independence movement has said that, well, you know, perhaps we’re not really ready for this independence thing and the national govt has said it’s sorry the cops over egged it on Sunday

http://www.lavanguardia.com/politica/20171006/431829015197/artur-mas-financial–times-independencia-catalunya.html

The question now is how the hard left ultra nationalists take it and whether Puigdemont and his chorus of clowns can be prevented from doing something stupid to save face.

160

nastywoman 10.06.17 at 4:15 pm

– and about ”cultural identity” in october – there is a very famous European tribe -(especially loved by US Americans) – who always puts teh ”Lederhosen” on in Oktober and tries to drink a Liter of beer in one swoop – and this tribe is very famous in Spain too – as it kind of has conquered the Island of Mallorca – but where the tribe originally is from – it is unlawful to drink one Liter of beer in one swoop -(at least in a Festzelt) and that really should give the Catalans ”food for thought” -(in a matter of sayen)

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rogergathmann 10.06.17 at 7:08 pm

154 Ukraine was part of Russia dating back to the truce of Androsovo in 1667. So it is nonsense to say that Ukraine was just part of the USSR. The way in which Ukraine became part of Russia was parallel to the way aragon became part of Castille.
As for Yeltsin’s role in splitting apart Russia, 155, I rely more on historians and reporters at the time. Here’s Nelson and Kuzes: “On December 8, in further violation of the Treaty on an economic community that he had signed in October, Yeltsin and the heads of two other Slavic Republics, Ukraine and Belarus, agreed in a secret meeting near Minsk to disband the Soviet Union entirely, in favor of a vaguely specified Commonwealth of Independent States.” Yeltsin was of course key to this process. And the U.S. support for Yeltsin was overt at the time, and became more so later. It is hard to believe that this separation would have happened if the U.S. or the E.U. had opposed it. Regardless of whether it was a good thing or not, the E.U.’s stance is very contradictory when it comes to things in the E.U. as compared to what it was concerning the breakup of Russia.

162

J-D 10.06.17 at 9:15 pm

163

dax 10.06.17 at 10:58 pm

Catalonia has pretty much zero chance of joining the EU. Just what the EU wants: a people which, because it is wealthier, refuses to pay more in to its government than it gets back. This is oppression?

164

Collin Street 10.07.17 at 1:22 am

“Russia” and “USSR” are different entities in this context, Roger. “Russia” is “russian soviet federative socialist republic”, one of fifteen constituent elements of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics.

The USSR dissolved, and the constituent republics, including the ukranian SSR, became indisputably first-tier sovereign entities[1]. “Russia”, the RSFSR, did not dissolve. It’s still basically got the borders that were established in communist times, apart from the Crimea.

Yeltsin was head of the RSFSR, and the dissolution of the USSR promoted him to a head of a sovereign government rather than a sub-national leader.

… ffs, I knew this at the time and I was a young teen back then.

[1] Their status prior to the dissolution of the USSR is actually-legally very slightly unclear, but it’s so completely moot that even as an academic exercise nobody really cares.

165

Z 10.07.17 at 7:55 am

@nastywoman ”Catalan independence probably gives very little concern to ethnicity compared to cultural identity”

”Probably” Yes and No – but that is so NOT-Twentyfirst Century!

As is often the case, I lack the the linguistic ability and shared cultural background to grasp the implicit in what you write, so I’m really not sure what you meant, but I had a quick look at what the Catalan independence plan envision in terms of nationality, and according to the transition law voted in September, the answer is apparently that anyone who is registered on electoral lists will automatically be a Catalan citizen (with the possibility of keeping Spanish citizenship), so it seems that in terms of drawing the boundaries between who is in and who is out, the independence of Catalonia changes very little.

166

lurker 10.07.17 at 8:41 am

@161
The Russian Empire that annexed most of Ukraine ended in the revolution of 1917. (Galicia was first Polish, then Austrian, again Polish, and finally Soviet, but never Russian.) The Russian Whites who would have created something like Franco’s Spain (with added pogroms) were defeated and the USSR was quite definitely not a Russian nationalist state.
I find it odd that some people believe that multinational states that collapsed from the inside (Yugoslavia, the USSR and the Habsburg empire) could have been kept from collapsing if some outside forces would just have propped them up. I can see the tragedies, but those states failed.

167

Eamonn 10.07.17 at 10:54 am

and what exactly does the peaceful, democratic and participative government of Catalonia want with all this stuff

https://twitter.com/thespainreport/status/916609583380140033

Elsewhere I see that Guardia Civil’s GAR (rapid reaction force) has taken over security at Barcelona airport, the better to avoid any nasty surprises from members of the CUP and the constellation of nationalist ultras around them, outraged by Mas´s and Puigdemont’s betrayal of the sacred cause

168

nastywoman 10.07.17 at 11:06 am

@165
”I’m really not sure what you meant,”

All my bad – as I tried to write a short poem about ‘ethnicity compared to cultural identity’ in this century in Katalonien – where you can actually find about every ‘cultural identity AND ‘ethnicity’ and every ‘yes’ and ‘no’ – when 18 million tourists from all over the world descend now per year on this ‚Province‘ whith just 7,5 million ‚native’ Katalanen.

And if you ever would have experienced Barcelona or the Costa Brava in summer you HAVE to ask yourself: ‚how can such a minority of 7,5 million Katalanen – who live to such a yuuuge extend from a borderless and open-minded Europe and World come up with such a ‘provincial and narrow minded nationalistic idea of independence’?

Or not?

As a lot of natives of Barcelona definitely want their city and their country back -(‘from the tourists’) and thusly a different way of ‘independence’ than probably you think about?

It’s nearly as absurd if US would have fought in 1776 for independence from too many British Tourist or a city like London with about every type of European you can think about – suddenly wants to exit from it’s own population…

169

kidneystones 10.07.17 at 12:09 pm

@167 Thank you, again, for keeping us in the loop.

I fully support any minority to organize and exercise their collective power in any more or less legal manner. Efforts to acquire military grade weaponry (if true) cast some members of the independence movement in a most unfavorable light. Practically no sane person I can think of in Europe is going to support any armed effort to form a government, and that includes places such as Ireland which have enjoyed a couple of decades of relative peace for the first time in a great many years. The Spain of today is not the Spain of Franco, much to the chagrin of a some former Franco supporters. People I know from Asia and other parts of Europe live in Barcelona, or keep residences there. It’s great city to live in and visit. The purchase of military weapons probably is the last thing any rational independence movement needs to be considering, and speaks to the immaturity of key leaders, which perhaps explains how the movement finds in its current embarrassing predicament.

Good grief!

170

dax 10.07.17 at 2:15 pm

The vote by Catalonians was as brain-dead as Brexit. The Catalonians were lied to by their leaders. A truly independent Catalonia is outside the EU. It does not have a money. The savings of all its citizens goes poof any time the ECB decides to pull the plug. Somebody has to tell the independence crowd – both in the UK and in Catalonia – that just because you want independence does not mean that other countries have to give you what you want.

It is obvious that the rest of the EU will resist strongly giving Catalonia membership. The EU is still a federation of nations. Catalonia + Spain will get 2 votes where before a united Spain only got 1. This kind of arithmetic would create an incentive for splintering, which would make the EU ungovernable, and which other countries will obviously resist because it makes their own vote less valuable.

171

Layman 10.07.17 at 2:30 pm

dax: “Just what the EU wants: a people which, because it is wealthier, refuses to pay more in to its government than it gets back.”

You’ve just described every right-of-center party in the western world. Apparently the EU wants ’em.

172

Dipper 10.07.17 at 3:40 pm

@ Dax “The vote by Catalonians was as brain-dead as Brexit”

Catalonia’s options for independence are pretty poor. But are they any worse than Ireland’s was a hundred years or so ago? Do you think the Irish were brain-dead to aim for independence? Should Ireland just have accepted continued rule from England as becoming independent was fraught with difficulty and England, being much bigger and wealthier, could crush an independent Ireland any time it so chooses?

173

Antoni Jaume 10.07.17 at 6:46 pm

“Efforts to acquire military grade weaponry (if true) cast some members of the independence movement in a most unfavorable light.”

Never hard of any, not even when Terra Lliure was a concern. And a constant in independentist leaders has been to say that they did not want any blood.

The airport change is because of a strike by security personnel, purely work related.

174

dax 10.07.17 at 11:15 pm

@Dipper. Catalonia does not just want independence from Spain. It wants independence *and* remaining part of the EU. Catalonians should have had the option of voting:
1/ Independence even if outside the EU
2/ Independence only if inside the EU
3/ No independence
Just like Brexit, where the Leave option masked several different (and contradictory) possibilities, the Catalonian vote conflated two quite different paths. While those who support 1/ would (presumably) accept 2/, those who accept 2/ won’t accept 1/. Yet a substantial amount of the Independence vote was of the 2/ variety.

175

rogergathmann 10.08.17 at 8:34 am

166 – actually, every nation collapses eventually. The Habsburg and Russian empires lasted longer than the U.S. It is becoming harder and harder to imagine the U.S. lasting another 100 years as it is, but who knows? The question is not what props together multinational nations (which of course include India and China – in fact, India is more like the Habsburg empire than the Soviet Union ever was) but what props up small independent states. At the moment, that propping is done by a multinational non-state – the EU – in the Baltic countries, and by aid furnished from Russia, the E.U. and the U.S. in the case of Ukraine. In terms of autonomy, I think Catalonia is a much better bet than Ukraine – it is richer, there really is nothing about Spain that is essential to Catalonia. It is a better bet than Scotland, actually. But I can see the argument that it should remain in Spain as it has for hundreds of years, as it wouldn’t really gain much by independence that it doesn’t have. I think that the referendum, which should have been fought by the Spanish government through advertisements instead of policemen, would have probably lost under normal circs. But now – who knows? The Spanish government, which has shown catastrophic economic incompetence, seems to have no competence about anything else too.

176

Layman 10.08.17 at 8:52 am

dax: “It is obvious that the rest of the EU will resist strongly giving Catalonia membership.”

It’s hard to imagine an EU that wants Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Slovakia, and Slovenia – all of whom have been voted in in the past 15 years or so – but that does not want Catalonia. We’re guessing here, of course, but your guess seems counterintuitive.

177

Eamonn 10.08.17 at 9:27 am

Antoni Jaume : The GAR at the airport has zip to do with the strikes. The regular Guardia Civil officers fill in for strikers, not these guys.

Also, hard to think of a peaceful use for the firepower the Govern was stopped from importing. And five million rounds of ammo.

178

kidneystones 10.08.17 at 12:56 pm

One of the great parts about the Catalan story is the discussion of how various groups respond to the sins of others, but very much enjoy ignoring their own. One of the favorite tropes of liberals is to smirk at German, French, and Spanish populations that pretend ignorance of the deportation of gypsies, Jews, and others. We get to watch this in real time now as the same folks who’ve been turning a blind eye to the systematic exploitation of young women by a ‘good friend’ of Michelle Obama and a top fund-raiser for Hillary Clinton rush to cut their ties with aging slime-ball. http://thehill.com/homenews/campaign/354310-democrats-rush-to-cut-ties-with-harvey-weinstein

Hard to decry the sexist in the WH when we’re chumming it up with an aging tubby who abused his employees and exploited young women for decades whilst liberals turned a blind-eye. The Catalan tale is a cautionary one. Separatists claiming to have the best interests of the locals at heart; and a nationalist government built on the foundations of a police state offer plenty of food for thought. Best not to sneer too much, however, as I’m sure we can find plenty of muck beneath our own fingernails. Not here, of course, but more in the parts I frequent. Feet made of clay and all that, yes?

179

Layman 10.08.17 at 3:05 pm

Another classic kidneystones comment: “Blah blah blah liberals blah blah Obama blah blah Clinton blah blah liberals blah blah sneer.”

180

EWI 10.08.17 at 5:13 pm

Dax@170

Catalonia + Spain will get 2 votes where before a united Spain only got 1. This kind of arithmetic would create an incentive for splintering

I don’t think you understand how the EU works when it comes to voting at the various levels. Spain & Catalonia will probably result in no change in MEPs, and little difference elsewhere.

181

EWI 10.08.17 at 5:19 pm

kidneystones@169

Efforts to acquire military grade weaponry (if true) cast some members of the independence movement in a most unfavorable light.

None of this was useful as ‘military’ weaponry, certainly not against the Spanish Army. Sub-machine guns and sniper rifles? Standard police arms in many places.

If you were looking to defend against the Spanish Army you need artillery, anti-tank weapons, machine-guns and modern rifles (the Irish rebels of a hundred years ago lacked all four and held out only a week as a consequence).

182

EWI 10.08.17 at 6:16 pm

Stephen @ 72

How does your opinion (too often justified, I entirely agree) apply to Irish independence, 1920s, or to the proposed incorporation by force of an unwilling Northern Ireland into a united Ireland then and in subsequent decades?

One could point to the ‘incorporation by force’ of Ireland into a British colony, or of the artificial Irish-Catholic-Nationalist minority into the six-ninths of Ulster ‘Northern Ireland’, but the southern Free State and its successors have never proposed to invade Northern Ireland, as the historical record will affirm.

Eamonn @ 86

The independence of Ireland was achieved by a campaign of guerrilla nafrare and terrorism and was followed a Civil War.

. the new state soon lost a considerable proportion of its Protestant population.

In NI, after the defeat of the IRA a complex repressive apparatus was set up keep the minority population in its place.

Despite Brexit induced speculation,I think the only conceivable circumstances in which NI would become part of a united Ireland would ones involving a deep rejigging of the status of the UK and Ireland, some kind of confederal arrangement perhaps?

i) The independence of twenty-six counties occurred with a rebellion in a pre-democratic situation. When a ‘universal’ franchise arrived in 1918, an overwhelming majority of the population voted for candidates who were standing on a platform of the ‘Republic’, which is when the First Dáil – soon outlawed and suppressed by the British – appeared as a national parliament. Though yes, there was (British state) terrorism, you’re correct.

ii) A proportion of the new state’s loyalist population emigrated. as happens in just about every post-colonial situation I’ve ever heard of.

iii) The ‘complex repressive apparatus’ was there already – the RUC was just the re-naming of the notorious RIC.

iv) now who’s engaging in fantasy? Assuming that you’re not just a Spanish sock-puppet.

183

Antoni Jaume 10.08.17 at 10:12 pm

Eamonn 10.08.17 at 9:27 am

AFAICT, these arms and munitions are supplies for the police (Mossos d’Esquadra). They were bought over a year ago. I do not know how it for purpose they would be, there are over 16 thousands agents, and the quantities I’ve seen are about 1000 guns, so one per 16 agents, as for the ammunitions, I reckon that they would be distributed though the commissaries to be promptly available.

Note that I do not know the different weapons and ammunitions that are implicated in this instance.

184

EWI 10.09.17 at 12:16 am

Note that I do not know the different weapons and ammunitions that are implicated in this instance.

9mm Parabellum (the sub-machinegun round) isn’t effective against modern military body armour or helmets, even at the quite close ranges where it has to be employed to be effective. There is very limited military utility in such weapons.

185

steven t johnson 10.09.17 at 1:55 am

It seems quite obvious to me the first enemies of Catalunya are domestic, and small arms may be quite sufficient to deal with them. It seems to me the plan for dealing with the central government is by outside intervention under the name of mediation.

At the very least, the old autonomy arrangements are to be superseded by a new “autonomy” which will likely consist of local business control of tax revenues (less social spending, especially redistribution to the rest of Spain, probably regressive taxation and generalized spending cuts,) creating direct relationships with the EU and Catalunya, cutting out Madrid and possibly incorporation of Valencia and the Balearics.

186

kidneystones 10.09.17 at 5:12 am

181 Military grade weaponry is standard in many places, but not all. I doubt very much that any/many of the police forces purchasing such macho props will ever use the stuff, but boy don’t some folks love dressing the part. Military grade weaponry belongs in the hands of the military, whether regular force or militias. Re: the value of a particular class of weapons versus a modern national army, I think you’re making my point. Purchasing the weapons is an extremely poor use of time, energy, and money – much better spent, I’d say, on figuring out why independence is so necessary and how the economics of independence will actually work. The SNP skipped that step as well. The last thing the Catalans need to be investing in are armaments of any kind.

@191 I don’t frankly have any idea why you believe you have to rush to defend some of the most powerful people on the planet. I’m convinced that licking the glove isn’t going to make anything better for anyone. But I’m different that way, it seems.

187

James Wimberley 10.09.17 at 7:22 am

JQ’s point about the hard Brexit train wreck prompts speculation on what Day 1 of independent revolutionary Cataluñya might look like. It starts life as a state as naked as a newborn baby, without even the limited continuity of Soviet Russia in 1917. It can’t trade with France and Spain on WTO terms, it’s not yet a member of the UN or the WTO, which would take a year.

The initial problem of the government would not be showering the grateful populace with the goodies enabled by ending tax transfers to idle Andalusians but to prevent total economic collapse and starvation in a forced autarky. France and Spain would no doubt allow some temporary freedom of movement of goods on humanitarian grounds, provided they could station their own customs officers in Barcelona. EU and NATO membership would take years, with onerous conditions. It would be far worse than hard Brexit.

The only path to the sort of prosperous Slovenian Catalonia the secessionists dream of is through a carefully negotiated deal with Spain, a reverse Act of Union. They have to persuade the majority of their fellow-Spaniards that this is a good idea. Pigs might fly.

188

Eamonn 10.09.17 at 9:43 am

Someone just sent me this, from 2014. Right on the money I’d say.

“Quand, du fait d’une inégalité sociale croissante, l’angoisse et l’insécurité montent au sein d’une population, la tentation existe de se replier derrière des frontières familières auxquelles on croit pouvoir se fier, et de s’accrocher à des entités “natales”, qu’elles aient été naturalisées ou qu’on en ait hérité, telles que la nation, la langue, l’histoire. Dès lors, le regain de la flamme régionaliste en Ecosse, en Catalogne ou en Flandre n’est guère, selon moi, qu’un équivalent fonctionnel du succès du Front national en France… “

http://www.lexpress.fr/actualite/monde/europe/jurgen-habermas-en-europe-les-nationalismes-sont-de-retour_1621409.html

189

EWI 10.09.17 at 5:13 pm

kidneystones@186

You don’t say it out loud, but I assume that the above means that you now concede that these aren’t, in fact, military weapons in any meaningful modern sense. They are instead simply of the type one might expect to see equipping any European Gendarme and therefore quite unremarkable – except for those who wish to whip up some fake news about the Catalans. I’m reminded of the ridiculous stories which were put about by Obama’s enemies about FEMA, etc.

190

EWI 10.09.17 at 5:18 pm

James@140

I recommend looking for anything at all about defence expenditure in the secessionist platform. They appear to think independent Catalonia will be welcomed with open arms by the EU, rather than the diktats being ruthlessly applied to much bigger Britain. These would surely include NATO membership. Some existing members like Portugal spend about 1% of GDP on defence, but the agreed target is 2%, and this could easily be imposed on a new applicant. Add to this a more realistic scenario on Catalonia’s share of Spanish national debt, and the gravy held out of a plusher welfare state becomes invisible.

I suspect that the debt problem will be dealt with via a deal, unless the Spanish fancy time-sharing their navy, air force etc. with the Catalans.

191

Stephen 10.09.17 at 8:24 pm

EWI @182: This is only tangentially relevant to the Catalonian crisis, but I think I should increase your knowledge by pointing out that:

The Government of Ireland Act, 1914, passed by a democratic UK parliament, offered Home Rule to Ireland. The opposition from Irish nationalists, and the 1916 rebellion, were due to its envisaging that areas in the north-east with a Unionist majority – I don’t know how you can intelligently describe them as “artificial” – might want to opt out of Home Rule. Basic dilemma of independence movements: we want to be independent from them, very good, but some want to be independent from us, obviously wrong.

And the historical record will confirm that the anti-Treaty forces in the Irish Civil War, who later as Fianna Fail became the Irish government, opposed the separation of the Ulster counties, insisted in the Irish Constitution that their territory was legally part of the rest of Ireland, and at times supported Irish republicans seeking to overthrow Northern Ireland by armed force.

192

TM 10.09.17 at 9:31 pm

It’s somewhat amusing that some commenters seem to conflate Brexit and regionalist secessionism even though those are politically exactly opposed movements: Scottish and Catalan and other nationalists are pro-EU and oppose what they consider repressive centralist states. The EU btw has done a lot to promote regional cultural autonomy within member states, including pushing for the recognition of minority languages (which for centuries was anathema to French, Spanish or British centralists).

The current escalation in Catalunya, for which both sides deserve blame, is sad news. The left has absolutely nothing to gain from secessionism anywhere, as one has been able to observe from Yugoslavia to Turkey to Sudan. At best, even when there is no bloodshed (as in Scotland or Quebec), secessionist movements tie up political energy that could have been used more productively, they create needless antagonism and resentment that al most always stregnthens the reactionaries. There is no left case for nationalism, not even for the underdog brand (and the underdog nationalists, should they succeed, will be just as hostile toward all those considered “other” – in the case of Catalunya, probably the majority). There is no meaningful political divide between left Catalonian and other Spaniards, they can only succeed by working and organizing together.

193

TM 10.09.17 at 9:57 pm

To be clear: all political borders are arbitrary. Both the secessionists, who claim that existing borders are wrong and need to be corrected, and the centralists who claim the indivisibility of the nation, invoke an essentialist myth of national homogeneity which almost always leads to bloodshed. Leftists, with their tendency to root for the underdog, often fall for the seeming plausibility of the secessionist claim. Yes, existing borders are arbitrary, but the new borders will be just as arbitrary, they will again divide the people into those who identify with the dominant group and those who are excluded and discriminated against, only with partially reversed roles. Federalism, regional autonomy and constitutionally protected minority rights offer much better – and historically more successful – political solutions than carving up the map into ever smaller pieces. Btw ever looked at a map of 16th century Europe? Must be the wet dream of all secessionists.

194

kidneystones 10.09.17 at 10:07 pm

@189 I concede that all kinds of folks whip stories up and that it’s highly likely that anti-independence folks want to cast political opponents in the worst possible light. That’s certainly been the case with Remain versus Brexit.

Your comments regarding military weapons strike me as nonsensical, frankly. You are literally comparing hand-held rifles of various kinds to howitzers and arguing that the weapons an infantryman or paratrooper might hold in his hands shouldn’t be considered military weapons because howitzers move on wheels, or tracks.

I feel I’ve made my point clearly, enough. Spending tax-payer money on macho props when the region is mired in debt confirms in my mind the immaturity of some independence leaders. And be clear, one need look no further than Las Vegas to get a sense of how much havoc can be unleashed with military weapons of the kind you poo-poo. You may be entirely content with playing deadly dress-up at the expense of the tax-payer (and sober-minded support for Catalan independence), others may have other priorities – such as providing real economic answers to a dubious public already suspicious of slogans and stunts such as security theater that actually make the public feel less safe. I’ve restated my position and that will have to suffice.

195

EWI 10.10.17 at 12:31 am

Stephen@191

There is nothing lacking in my ‘knowledge’ of Irish history, though I appreciate the no doubt kind offer. As to the rest:

The Government of Ireland Act, 1914, passed by a democratic UK parliament, offered Home Rule to Ireland. The opposition from Irish nationalists, and the 1916 rebellion, were due to its envisaging that areas in the north-east with a Unionist majority – I don’t know how you can intelligently describe them as “artificial” – might want to opt out of Home Rule. Basic dilemma of independence movements: we want to be independent from them, very good, but some want to be independent from us, obviously wrong.

British rule over Ireland was clearly never based on ‘democracy’. The weak 1914 Bill excluded the artificial mini-Ulster creation – demographically possible only by gerrymandering the makeup of such (with six counties instead of nine), as anyone with a basic grasp of maths will see – in the face of Ulster Unionist arming to fight the British government over Home Rule, and the connivance of the Tories and British Army to refuse to do anything about this. The 1916 Rising had its roots in Irish separatist revolutionary politics which predated efforts to partition and maintain colonial Protestant power, however (they could trace this strong thread all the way back to Irish republicanism of the late 1700s, inspired by the French and American revolutions). The most recent modern parallel was in futile efforts by Afrikaners to create a new ‘white’ homeland for themselves inside South Africa after the black majority finally gained political power.

And the historical record will confirm that the anti-Treaty forces in the Irish Civil War, who later as Fianna Fail became the Irish government, opposed the separation of the Ulster counties, insisted in the Irish Constitution that their territory was legally part of the rest of Ireland, and at times supported Irish republicans seeking to overthrow Northern Ireland by armed force.

You really need to brush up on the activities of Michael Collins, strongman on the pro-Treaty side, who was arming Northern nationalists after the Truce (this was the basis of the northern IRA’s well-documented faith in and support of him during the Civil War – he was clearly seeking to destroy Northern Ireland). History notes, just as I note your attempt to move the goalposts, that not a single member of the Irish Defence Forces has ever set foot in Northern Ireland with the intention to invade.

And you clearly have your knowledge of what the Irish Constitution says (or used to say) from unreliable sources. What the old Articles 2 and 3 actually said was:

Article 2 “The national territory consists of the whole of the island of Ireland and the territorial seas.”

Article 3 “Pending the reintegration of the national territory and without prejudice to the right for the Parliament and government established by this Constitution to exercise jurisdiction over the whole of that territory, the laws enacted by the Parliament shall have the like area and extent of application as the laws of Saorstat Eireann and the like extra-territorial effect.”

…which are clearly not what you claim they were, at all.

196

EWI 10.10.17 at 12:46 am

TM@192

There is no left case for nationalism, not even for the underdog brand (and the underdog nationalists, should they succeed, will be just as hostile toward all those considered “other” – in the case of Catalunya, probably the majority).

Not exactly true. The ROI, for example, has maintained a non-aligned status to the present day with a strong League of Nations (and subsequently UN) engagement, avoiding the ‘end of empire’ dirty wars as well as the rampant militarism (not least nuclear weaponry) that still defines the UK.

197

Tabasco 10.10.17 at 2:13 am

186 “Military grade weaponry is standard in many places, but not all.”

The NYC police force has anti-aircraft missiles and other heavy weaponry. It also does its own intelligence operations in Europe. All part of the post 9-11 vigilance. Never let a crisis go to waste.

198

Layman 10.10.17 at 4:57 am

kidneystones: “And be clear, one need look no further than Las Vegas to get a sense of how much havoc can be unleashed with military weapons of the kind you poo-poo.”

None of the weapons used by the Las Vegas shooter to kill dozens were submachine guns, and one used 9mm parabellum ammunition. No infantryman uses such weapons or ammunition, not even paratroopers, not in the modern era. They are unsuitable for infantry engagements, lacking accuracy at range, velocity, penetration and stopping power. This is unsurprising, given that the ammunition was designed for sidearms, and adapted for use in what are short-range automatic pistols.

Having started by crediting reports that this purchase was evidence of violent revolutionary intent in the part of Catalonia, you now seem to be arguing that it’s evidence of macho policing. Have you changed your mind about the former?

199

Z 10.10.17 at 8:43 am

To be clear: all political borders are arbitrary. Both the secessionists, who claim that existing borders are wrong and need to be corrected, and the centralists who claim the indivisibility of the nation, invoke an essentialist myth of national homogeneity which almost always leads to bloodshed. […] Yes, existing borders are arbitrary, but the new borders will be just as arbitrary, they will again divide the people into those who identify with the dominant group and those who are excluded and discriminated against, only with partially reversed roles. Federalism, regional autonomy and constitutionally protected minority rights offer much better – and historically more successful – political solutions than carving up the map into ever smaller pieces.

All that from TM seems precisely right to me.

200

Collin Street 10.10.17 at 8:54 am

Layman, you expect too much.

A question, or rather two questions.
+ if you’re talking to a person face-to-face, what sort of behaviours suggest the possibility to you that your conversatiional parter is for whatever reason not all there?
+ how much of that shows up on the internet?

201

TM 10.10.17 at 9:02 am

JQ 112: “If there is a leftwing view of Scottish and Catalan “good nationalists”, it’s not showing up here.”

Respectfully, there has been and still is (though since the Yugsolavian disaster it may have declined) considerable left wing support for separatist nationalisms, often based on anti-imperialist rhetoric. Groups like the IRA, ETA, PKK, Tamil Tigers were considered liberation movements in parts of the radical left, Quebec and now Scottish and Catalan separatists did get and still get sympathetic press even in the mainstream left and many actually were described as left nationalists. And often their nationalist programs have been mixed with somewhat progressive policies that made it easier to root for them. See the Jacobin article referenced in 75.

I once attended a talk by an ETA supporter (invited by the local radical left) who claimed that their nationalism wasn’t ethnic, it was “modern” nationalism that welcomed anyone capable of speaking the Basque language; which of course is spoken only by a minority of the region’s residents. When I lived in Quebec, the separatist movement was still in full bloom (meanwhile it seems to have completely collapsed) and progressives subscribed to nationalism without even questioning its compatibility with left universalism. If separatists had had their way (with a slight majority say of 52% in the referendum), Quebec would now be a centralist unitary state without any minority rights for example for Anglophones. The separatists insisted that while they had a right to secede from Canada, the borders of their province were inviolable and regional secessionism (First nations or West Montreal) was out of the question – apparently without even noticing any contradiction in those positions.

Fake Dave 58: “One way to consider the Catalan drive for independence is to ask oneself how, exactly, they came to be ruled from Madrid in the first place … The Catalan people (and Catalonia’s well-developed civil society) have never had much opportunity to decide for themselves if they wanted to be “Spanish” or not”

Those arguments could be applied to almost any part of the world. Look at a historical map. How exactly did Yorkshire come to be ruled by London? The Provence by Paris? Franconia by Berlin? Novgorod by Moscow? Ticino by Bern? Those aren’t hotbeds of separatism but their claims to regional distinctness are probably no less justified than those of Scotland or Catalunya. It’s no better on other continents. Pick any part of the world. Everybody was conquered at some point, nobody was asked what country they wanted to be part of. Good luck trying to redraw the map based on criteria like that. (And what will you do a generation later? Will they have to make their own decision? What about those who after Catalan secession don’t want to be ruled by Barcelona, will they have the same right to choose?) Internationalism may seem implausible to many but I think it’s still far more plausible than a just world order based on nationalism.

202

TM 10.10.17 at 9:11 am

One suggestion. Don’t talk about collectives as if they were individuals. Collectives don’t have preferences and desires and make decisions; individuals do.

203

Tabasco 10.10.17 at 9:56 am

TM 201

Austin has long said that if Texas secedes from the United States it will secede from
Texas.

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Matt 10.10.17 at 11:37 am

Those arguments could be applied to almost any part of the world. Look at a historical map. How exactly did Yorkshire come to be ruled by London? The Provence by Paris? Franconia by Berlin? Novgorod by Moscow? Ticino by Bern? Those aren’t hotbeds of separatism but their claims to regional distinctness are probably no less justified than those of Scotland or Catalunya. It’s no better on other continents. Pick any part of the world. Everybody was conquered at some point, nobody was asked what country they wanted to be part of. Good luck trying to redraw the map based on criteria like that.

I wrote a paper touching on these topics a little bit ago, focused in part on what seemed to me to be lack of realism (in a non-philosophical sense, I guess) in most philosophical discussions of secession and self-determination, and an unwillingness, in both theory and practice, to think carefully about what a really just and consistent position here would be like. My thoughts were that it would quickly turn out to be “too expensive” for anyone who really cared about justice. For anyone who is interested, that paper is here.

I might add that, while current borders are “arbitrary” in some sense (a word that is thrown around too easily, as if it proved something, I think, not just here but in many debates) they have at least one significant advantage over novel new boarders – that many people have made their lives in relation to these, and with expectations based around them. Drawing new borders will upset those expectations is significant and predictable ways. This isn’t definitive, of course, but it does seem to me to deserve real consideration, certainly more than is given to them by may political entrepreneurs.

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Z 10.10.17 at 11:45 am

And what will you do a generation later?

The same.

Will they have to make their own decision?

Yes.

What about those who after Catalan secession don’t want to be ruled by Barcelona, will they have the same right to choose?

Yes.

How else could it be?

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kidneystones 10.10.17 at 2:05 pm

I had a chance to discuss the week’s events with a pro-Franco observer who agreed to lay out his concerns and finally had a bit of time to dig up some background in English. I stress that these are the opinions of another, but open a window that may be of interest. I’ll attach my own reaction in a separate comment.

Four reasons why force will be needed to resolve the Catalan rebellion.

“Why did the movement hold their referendum now, and why are they declaring unilateral independence this week?

1. Corrupt independence leaders fear their bank accounts in Andorra (currently secret) will be exposed when changes to Andorran banking laws kick in in 2018. Andorra and the Catalan region share a border and both communities speak Catalan. If Catalan and Andorra merge, independence leaders will at worst be tried in Catalan, rather than Spanish, courts.
https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/dec/02/andorra-to-renounce-banking-secrecy-as-it-sheds-tax-haven-status
https://www.economist.com/news/europe/21613309-jordi-pujols-confession-undermines-catalans-hopes-independence-scandal-catalonia

2. Senior members of the Catalan police force have been replaced by those who swear allegiance to an independent Catalan state, effectively transforming the regional police into a private army supporting a political party in violation of Spanish law. This force is intended to intimidate the million-plus Catalans who do not support independence. An independent Catalonia will expel Spanish troops from its borders.
https://www.voanews.com/a/spain-catalan-independence-vote-mossos-police/4043406.html
http://www.express.co.uk/news/world/847347/Catalonia-independence-news-president-Carles-Puigdemont-army

3. The cultural battlefield has extended to schools. Children who self-identify as Spanish are singled out by Catalonian teachers favouring independence for shaming as ‘traitors’ and worse.
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2017/09/29/tractors-roll-onto-streets-barcelona-referendum-battle-lines/

4. Catalan independence is utterly unworkable, born of an alliance of corrupt conservatives and others guilty of pilfering from the public purse, and anarchists hostile to all order – ready to push Spain into civil war rather than retreat.”

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kidneystones 10.10.17 at 2:22 pm

I frankly don’t know enough about the politics to comment on any specifics, but do have some general opinions. The ‘Guns and Ammo’ discussion of which weapons will do what misses the entire point. Good policing is absolutely not about good weaponry, but about good judgement. And we’ve seen precious little of that rare commodity whether we’re talking about the ‘permanent Democratic’ majority; Brexit can’t happen; or HRC has a 98 percent chance of winning. The Weinstein scandal is a pig-show on parade, so it’s probably best not to sneer to much at the struggles of the ordinary Catalan, or Spanish person.

My Spanish friend rejected my own view that most of us are extremely unlikely to choose civil war over comfort. I stressed that few Catalans would be willing to transform Barcelona into Sarajevo for independence. He responded that Sarajevo is exactly where it’s heading. I found this view a bit hard to swallow. Upon reflection, I do think it possible for the bunglers in charge on both sides of the issue to create a dynamic that allows the region to fall into civil war. Pressure on children seems a particular flash point. The Catalan independence movement denies pressuring children, but I doubt they’ve the ability to police teachers and seeing how schools and campuses have been politicized elsewhere I do fear that children will be caught in the crossfire. The second path to disaster involves passing bills demanding the expulsion of Spanish troops from Catalonia.

I loathe politicians of all stripes and I find it very difficult to find any heroes in this dispute on either side. I’m always astonished to see ‘liberals’ and ‘progressives’ arguing that bombing Syria, or militarizing the police is a reasonable proposition. Both actions seem equally insane to me. Ordinary people want to live their lives and raise their families in peace and safety. The first obligation of any government is to create conditions that allow people to do just that.

Maybe in another world.

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Stephen 10.10.17 at 4:51 pm

EWI @ 195: if you really believe that the obviously non-democratic Norman invasion of Ireland (which was not itself a democratic place) in the 12th century, and events in subsequent centuries (non-democratic in in Ireland, Britain or anywhere else), are in any way relevant to the degree of democracy in the twentieth-century UK, there is no point in discussing anything with you.

I was well aware that Michael Collins before being shot by the anti-Treaty IRA was playing a double game, violently suppressing the IRA in the south, where they wanted to continue an anti-British war which Collins thought could not be won, while supporting the IRA in the north where he hoped they would eventually overthrow Northern Ireland. If you think about that for a little, you will see that it actually supports my case.

That the Irish army has never tried to invade NI is of course true. That members of the Irish government have tried to send arms to the IRA in NI is equally true.

I note that you do not even try to respond to the basic criticism of so many independence movements: there is a basic incoherence in the argument that we must be independent, but nobody should be independent of us. But then, you’re an Irish nationalist.

209

EWI 10.10.17 at 7:46 pm

kidneystones@194

Your comments regarding military weapons strike me as nonsensical, frankly.

Not so, as others have also demonstrated in showing your ignorance. My credentials, by thevway, lie in being both an ex-infantry NCO and published on the military history of the Easter Rusing.

You are literally comparing hand-held rifles of various kinds to howitzers and arguing that the weapons an infantryman or paratrooper might hold in his hands shouldn’t be considered military weapons because howitzers move on wheels, or tracks.

I did no such thing – this is entirely your own imagining. I am going to excuse this as utter ignorance on your own part about the military, outside of Hollywood.

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TM 10.11.17 at 6:55 am

Matt 204: Agreed. I used the word arbitrary in the sense that there is no inherently correct, “just”, “natural” way to draw the borders. Existing borders are based on historical contingency. These points my seem obvious but separatists often speak in these terms – existing borders are unnatural, they are the result of imperialist power play, war and conquest (true of almost all borders and difficult to see how it could be otherwise). Underlying these notions is almost always the idea that borders ought to be drawn as much as possible along “ethnic” lines, which I think is misguided and dangerous, because the homogeneous ethno-state is rarely achievable without ethnic cleansing. The Yugoslavian war and its outcome is testament to this.

“they have at least one significant advantage over novel new boarders – that many people have made their lives in relation to these, and with expectations based around them. Drawing new borders will upset those expectations is significant and predictable ways.”

I’d add that the UN world order is based on the principle that internationally recognized borders are inviolable. This implies that they can’t be changed unilaterally through secession. Separatists say: “we just want the right to decide our own future”. But they want to unilaterally decide the future of the country which they are trying to break up. They want to decide not just for themselves but for others as well. That is the problem.

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TM 10.11.17 at 7:17 am

kidney 206: “I had a chance to discuss the week’s events with a pro-Franco observer … Four reasons why force will be needed to resolve the Catalan rebellion.”

Well thanks for keeping us up-to date on the fascist side. I’m only half sarcastic – it’s insightful to know that Spanish fascists are preparing for civil war.

Re the Sarajevo comparison: In the 1990s, there were predictions that Montréal would be the next Sarajevo, or along these lines. In retrospect this may sound silly but it’s hard for outsiders to appreciate the strength of emotion that goes into these conflicts about national identity. That is why they are so persistent and hard to resolve.

For the moment, thankfully Puigdemont opted for sanity. Here’s hoping Rajoy does the same. An important voice for reason and deescalation has been Ada Colau, the left mayoress of Barcelona.

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Matt 10.11.17 at 11:50 am

TM said: Separatists say: “we just want the right to decide our own future”. But they want to unilaterally decide the future of the country which they are trying to break up. They want to decide not just for themselves but for others as well. That is the problem.

That’s right. And, I’d push it further (or focus on a different aspect) and note that, for any way you can cut up a country to get a separatist majority, you could cut it up another way to get a different majority. There’s no “natural” or “neutral” way to do this. Essentially any attempt will lead to the same problems the separatists claim to be addressing. My take-away is that, except in a few extreme and essentially remedially cases (Spain is not close to one), separatism is almost certainly the wrong answer to whatever the question is.

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Eamonn 10.11.17 at 2:14 pm

Puigedemont last night: *mumble mumble Independence !! mumble mumble, well, sort of anyway, soon, I think, shit this is awful”.
The CUP last night : Treachery!! Fuck this for a game of cowboys we’re taking our toys and going home. (One of their deputies apparently resigned her seat this morning in disgust)
Rajoy this morning, (kindly Gallego uncle tone): “Carles, dude, could you speak up a bit please, we couldn’t quite catch what you said. You can’t possibly have meant actual independence could you, you know that means Article 155 and the end of the fun and games, don’t you? We don’t want that now do we? Get back to me soonest, MR.
Sánchez (socialist leader) this morning: “Carles, best listen to what Mariano said. If not, curtains for you and your mates. BUT, if you cop yourself on we’ll play ball on a major constitutional reform”

Two main losers in the operetta of the last 24 hours: poor Puigdemont who now has to face the wrath of the CUP and Arran ( its, erm, even more excitable youth wing ) and Pablo Iglesias, whose Mr. Reasonable clothes have been pinched by the socialists.

214

Layman 10.11.17 at 2:41 pm

kidneystones: “The ‘Guns and Ammo’ discussion of which weapons will do what misses the entire point.”

One wonders why you brought it up in the first place.

215

EWI 10.11.17 at 8:39 pm

Kidneystone@207

What you term the ‘guns and ammo’ debate was started by you, and when the smear was laughed at, run away from.

‘Eamonn’@208

The only one here mentioning the Normans are yoi. No reasonable person with a knowledge of more recemt centuries claims that Ireland was in any way democratically part of the UK, so that attempted strawman falls, too.

The rest of your comment is humbug to try and disguise your ignorance of Irish history. The nasty little comment about my being Irish is beneath contempt.

216

EWI 10.11.17 at 8:41 pm

Wamonn@213

Puigedemont last night: *mumble mumble Independence !! mumble mumble, well, sort of anyway, soon, I think, shit this is awful”.
The CUP last night : Treachery!! Fuck this for a game of cowboys we’re taking our toys and going home. (One of their deputies apparently resigned her seat this morning in disgust)

Behold the sordid Spanish jingoistic reality behind the supposedly disinterested, mature commentator.

217

Robespierre 10.11.17 at 9:44 pm

Don’t pretend to misunderstand, EWI. The insult in “Irish nationalist” is nationalist.

218

kidneystones 10.12.17 at 12:41 am

Eamonn 10.07.17 at 10:54 am. 169
“and what exactly does the peaceful, democratic and participative government of Catalonia want with all this stuff”
https://twitter.com/thespainreport/status/916609583380140033

kidneystones 10.07.17 at 12:09 pm 169
@167 Thank you, again, for keeping us in the loop.
“I fully support any minority to organize and exercise their collective power in any more or less legal manner. Efforts to acquire military grade weaponry (if true) cast some members of the independence movement in a most unfavorable light.”

EWI @215 Can’t follow the chronology of simple comment thread?

Layman @214 You make the same basic error as EWI. Thanks for that!

Militarizing police forces is a spectacularly bad idea. Simply put: when the only tool we possess is a hammer ever problem starts to look like a nail. What were learning from Las Vegas is that many more may have died because of bad judgement, not insufficient weaponry. Military style weapons are rife among the gendarmes in France and have done nothing to stop the horrific attacks of the recent past.

The wars of Irish independence (ironically) confirm that a badly armed populace, highly motivated, can defeat an infinitely more powerful Empire, a fact lost it seems, entirely on our Irish military historian.

There are any number of good reasons why Catalan independence supporters should forget about weapons, and focus on solutions – both to violent threats and to economic security.

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Stephen 10.12.17 at 11:51 am

EWI@215: nobody has claimed that Ireland was democratically part of the UK. What I did say, accurately, was that the UK in 1914 democratically decided to give Home Rule to Ireland, with an equally democratic provision for some northern regions to opt out. It seems you can’t understand, or won’t accept that. For the third time: a frequent problem with nationalists demanding independence as a right for themselves is that they can’t accept anyone has the right to be independent of them. That seems to include you.

Robespierre @217: dead right.

Kidneystones @218: I think you are accepting that there was more than one war to form an independent Ireland. But in the first, an enormously powerful (but basically liberal) empire declined to use anything like the full available force, and accepted an outcome not too different from what Parliament had democratically offered in 2014, though very different from what hard-line Irish nationalists had wanted. In the second, a still rather badly armed anti-treaty nationalist force was resoundingly defeated by an Irish government that was (courtesy of the UK government) substantially better armed, and much more ruthless than the UK had been in the earlier war. I suspect EWI may know that.

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EWI 10.12.17 at 6:41 pm

kidneystones@218

Can’t follow the chronology of simple comment thread?

Layman @214 You make the same basic error as EWI. Thanks for that!

We can follow your laughable floundering around about what are military weapons and what are police; but thank you for the spectacle of your ‘retreat! retreat! retreat!’ :)

The wars of Irish independence (ironically) confirm that a badly armed populace, highly motivated, can defeat an infinitely more powerful Empire, a fact lost it seems, entirely on our Irish military historian.

If you actually knew anything about the Irish war of independence – and I acknowledge that this is just about as likely as wishing Trump to know something about climate science – then you’d be aware that the revolutionaries had no answer at all to machine-guns, armoured vehicles, artillery and aeroplanes – all military innovations which the British possessed. Any attempt to go up against those was doomed to failure – which is why, after 1916, they didn’t.

There are any number of good reasons why Catalan independence supporters should forget about weapons, and focus on solutions – both to violent threats and to economic security.

Ah, yes, the Voice of Reason, how some things never change. So tell us, o concern troll – why are you so anxious to focus on the Catalans and not the actual brute-force-using Spaniards? There’s a question that answers itself, I think.

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EWI 10.12.17 at 7:12 pm

Stephen@219

EWI@215: nobody has claimed that Ireland was democratically part of the UK.

Au contraire; there was plenty of ellsions and squirming, upthread, trying to make the Irish republican revolutionary tradition as being ‘anti-democratic’ in an age when such terms were demonstrably meaningless.

For the third time: a frequent problem with nationalists demanding independence as a right for themselves is that they can’t accept anyone has the right to be independent of them. That seems to include you.

And for the third time: you’re, frankly, full of it.

‘Nationalism’ which is just jingoistic desire to dominate over others (the Spanish and British varieties, for example, legacies of appalling imperial episodes) are clearly nothing at all like small nationalities trying to win free of repressive imperial overlords (the Catalans, Basques and Irish, in this case). Who are the nationalities being ‘oppressed’ in your fertile imagination here by independence – the British and Spaniards? Don’t make me laugh. There is a world of difference between punching down and punching up in moral terms.

Kidneystones @218: I think you are accepting that there was more than one war to form an independent Ireland. But in the first, an enormously powerful (but basically liberal) empire declined to use anything like the full available force

Firstly, there is still no ‘independent Ireland’, though there is a 26-county state which sometimes calls itself that in less self-aware moments. Secondly, you’re on a hiding to nothing with ‘more than one war’ claims. As for the third claim, it’s abundantly clear that the only restraint that British politicians and generals imposed on themselves, in a ‘liberal’ period where they still routinely murdered thousands in the ‘Empire’ without much thought, was the effect of press reports particularly in the USA. Without these, the British Army and the usual colonial lackeys would have undoubtedly been let off the leash.

In the second, a still rather badly armed anti-treaty nationalist force was resoundingly defeated by an Irish government that was (courtesy of the UK government) substantially better armed, and much more ruthless than the UK had been in the earlier war. I suspect EWI may know that.

I, along with undoubtedly every other reasonable reader of this thread, entirely fail to see your point. The British were also ‘less worse’ than Hitler or Stalin; do you think this really makes an excuse? What a contemptible lack of morality.

Robespierre@217

Don’t pretend to misunderstand, EWI. The insult in “Irish nationalist” is nationalist.

Don’t pretend to not understand the dagger in someone referring to ‘an Irish nationalist.’ But thank you for playing deliberately obtuse.

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Bartholomew 10.12.17 at 9:49 pm

Stephen @219 – ‘An equally democratic provision for some northern regions to opt out’

Not very democratic – there were Home Rule/Independence majorities in two of the six counties that stayed in the UK, Tyrone and Fermanagh.

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steven t johnson 10.13.17 at 3:57 pm

EWI@221 writes “‘Nationalism’ which is just jingoistic desire to dominate over others (the Spanish and British varieties, for example, legacies of appalling imperial episodes) are clearly nothing at all like small nationalities trying to win free of repressive imperial overlords (the Catalans, Basques and Irish, in this case). Who are the nationalities being ‘oppressed’ in your fertile imagination here by independence – the British and Spaniards? Don’t make me laugh. There is a world of difference between punching down and punching up in moral terms.”

I’m not really inclined to accept that one can define nationalism as personal malice in some people while a natural desire to be free of repression in others. My telepathy isn’t up to it, nor I fear is my moral superiority. I’m not even sure the difference between punching up and punching down is so huge, even though I do find punching up more palatable.

As for nationalism as a legacy of appalling imperial episodes, historically most nations have appalling imperial episodes. Catalans as I recall was never conquered, but Andalusia aka Granada was, by Ferdinand who was by the standards of the time rightful ruler of the Catalans. If reports are true, some Catalan nationalists do spite the Spanish as descendants of Arabs, while boasting they are descendants of the Visigoths. Is this true?

More to the point, the dangers of a remedy should be proportioned to the severity of the disease. I suspect that many prefer to believe that Franco was the champion of the Spanish oppressors, rather than oppressor of the workers, that the Spanish were fascist by nature. Nonetheless, as rotten as the compromise of the democratization was, it did award a great deal of autonomy to Catalunya. If all Ireland had been a Free State, would it have been so terrible? I’m not so sure.

A united Ireland that needed to deal with its Protestant minority justly would have been a better Ireland, perhaps. Michael Collins et al. may have thought “Ireland” was Catholic, and who am I to argue? But then, why should I be so vehement in that cause either? Similarly, perhaps speaking Catalan makes you something entirely different from someone who speaks Spanish, regardless of all those centuries of common history. That, in short, this is just a territorial war between two nations.

But why should I be so vehement in the Catalan cause? Unlike the UK, Spanish imperialism is small beer indeed. Unlike Scottish independence, Catalan independence doesn’t break up a state which continues its imperial projects worldwide, even as we speak. It’s true that there’s the financial/economic aspect of imperialism, even though there are so many who don’t think that’s imperialism, just the modern economy (or maybe globalization.) But if that’s the imperialism you’re against, remember it really looks as if a new Catalunya will just be a leaner, meaner, more profitable, more effective imperialism that’s already committed to the neoliberal EU project. Of course, not everyone sees that as imperialist, but as the cultural left project of decency and cosmic humanism.

The question is whether the repression that remains is so bad as to justify a unilateral declaration of independence, which is to say, a civil war? If the reports that Spanish speakers are discriminated against in the schools and administration and even business of Catalunya, then it is not a bit clear that this is so. And the question about what “Spanish” people may be oppressed has an answer, by the way. The main thing appears to be tax monies redistributed from Catalunya. Being the richest part of the Spanish state is not evidence of oppression, by the way. My idea of a colony is more like Puerto Rico than Barcelona.

Personally I think what Spain needs is not partition but a socialist government, but no one here favors that, so that’s off topic.

As to kidneystones peculiar ideas about Ireland, which was plainly conquered by the English, openly exploited, suffering atrocities and neglect, I hold no brief. If Victorian England had been socialist, today’s academics would routinely blame for English for genocide in the Famine. The thing is, I don’t see that sort of obviousness for the Catalans.

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