In a striking rebuke of the Spanish government's attempt to repress Catalonia's upcoming independence referendum by shutting down websites, arresting politicians, seizing millions of ballots, and threatening to block polling stations, tens of thousands of students and activists took to the streets of Barcelona Thursday to express their support for the vote and denounce government efforts that Catalan President Carles Puigdemont has characterized as
Allegiance to a piece of cloth and a song.
Maybe if it didn’t represent huge income inequality, corporate welfare, the murder of innocents all over the world on a daily basis, and the Duopoly which fights tooth and nail to maintain a dying Empire committed solely to preserving the status quo, well, perhaps maybe then the masses could at least have something to be proud of.
This says it all about the strong culture of democracy there. Everyone involved, everyone in solidarity, everyone fighting for principles, and ready to change their future. Should we even start to make an attempt to compare with ourselves?
From the great William Blum:
The plague of nationalism
The world has enough countries. Too goddamn many if you ask me. Is there room for any more delegations at the United Nations? Any more parking spots in New York? Have the people of Catalonia, who are seeking independence from Spain in an October 1 vote, considered that their new nation will have to open hundreds of new embassies and consulates around the world, furnish them all, fill them all with paid employees, houses and apartments and furniture for many of them, several new cars for each diplomatic post. … How many billions of dollars in taxes will be taken from the Catalan people to pay for all this?
And what about the military? Any self-respecting country needs an army and a navy. Will the new Catalonia be able to afford even halfway decent armed forces? The new country will of course have to join NATO with its obligatory minimum defense capability. There goes a billion or two more.
Plus what it will have to pay the European Union, which will simply be replacing Madrid in imposing many legal restrictions upon the Catalan people.
And for what noble purpose are they rising up? Freedom, democracy, civil liberties, human rights? No. It’s all for money. Madrid is taking in more in taxes from Catalonia than it returns in services, something which can be said about many city-state relationships in the United States. (Presumably there are also some individual Catalans who have their odd personal reasons.)
Catalan nationalists insist that “self-determination” is an inalienable right and cannot be curbed by the Spanish Constitution. Well, then, why stop with an “autonomous community” as Catalonia is designated? Why don’t provinces everywhere have the right to declare their independence? How about cities? Or neighborhoods? Why not my block? I could be the president.
And there are many other restive independence movements in the world, like the Kurds in Iraq and Turkey; in Scotland, Belgium and Italy; and California. Lord help us. Many countries are very reluctant to even recognize a new state for fear that it might encourage their own people to break away.
If love is blind, nationalism has lost all five senses.
To Blum I will add that there is nothing “progressive” about Catalan nationalism. It’s pure chauvinism, in fact, and not unlike the sentiments of the far-right Northern League in Italy, which resents the fact that Lombardy, the Piedmont, and the Veneto are three of the richest regions of Europe and yet they have to give up part of that wealth to benefit the whole of the Italian nation.
Today’s Catalonians are a far cry from the anarchists of Orwell’s day. This is simply a bourgeois uprising.
Strong, well said!
I love Catalonia, great people, great spirit!
There have been several good political studies showing that the optimum political unit for democratic representation is about 4 million people, approximately the size of Denmark or Uruguay. Catalonia is about double this size.
Bravo, Clovis! Nation-building is just not alwayswhat this article makes it out to be. Kurds want to take the oil away from Turkey, Iran, Iraq and Syria. So sometimes it is taking a rich area away from the rest, gerrymandering on a countrywide scale. Look at South Africa, Lesotho, Swaziland, and the diamonds.
Right on, Clovis. The Catalans voted for the Spanish Constitution by a majority of 92% after Francco´s death; and now the regional government is saying that the Constitution is anti-catalán, and that they won´t abide by it. With a tiny majority in the Catalán parliament, but having LOST THE POPULAR VOTE (an elecotral law designed to give more weight to rural areas works like the American electoral college here, and gives similar results - in the States, people know what repercussions that has…), the regional government has movilized public opinion through huge demonstrations, manipulation of messages and rewriting history, and openly defied the national laws. The government in Madrid has let things go too far; but it´s also true that if the central government allowed only the Catalans to vote, they would be breaking the law themselves. Constitutionally, a referendum would have to be agreed upon by the national Parliament, and everyone all over the country would have to be able to vote in it, as Catalán independence would affect the economy of the whole country. It would also put up borders between people´s original homes (roughly half of the population of Catalunya comes from other parts of Spain), and their residences in Catalunya.
One of the lies that the separatists have insisted upon has been that Catalunya would still be a part of the EU, which is absolutely untrue: It would have to go to the end of the list and negotiate reentry, needing a unanimous vote by other members of the EU in order to join. Spain would be against their entry, for obvious reasons. So, between what you mentioned - the huge expenses of setting up a new country with all its services and institutions - and finding itself outside the EU, this adventure would be economically catastrophic for Catalunya. But nationalism is nationalism, and xenofobia (in this case, against the Spaniards from other regions) is an emotional thing, so the separatists are pushing aggressively ahead, absolutely outside the law. The “silent majority” of us living in Catalunya, silent because we have been afraid to speak because of threats against us made by the separatists, are living in a state of total anguish.
It has now gotten to the point where schools have sent home requests for children to be allowed to participate in demonstrations for independence; and those parents who don´t give their permission are then blacklisted. This on the part of the people who are accusing the central government of repression…
What would they do in France if the Corsicans decided to do this, or in Italy if the Lega Norte did the same, or in the US, if part of the country tried to illegally secede? Hmmm, actually, there was a little civil war in the U.S. when that happened!
Sorry, but I have to disagree with Blum on this one.
Aside from the peculiar, historically unique highly reactionary right-wing one in the USA in the 1860s, I for one have never seen a separatist movement that I do not support. Blum is making no sense - he seems to be arguing from the anti-state perspective of anarchism, yet opposing a mechanism that could be a path to autonomous cultural-economic associations in the anarcho-syndicalist model - the gradual breakup of states through democratically determined secession movements. Also, considering that the greatest, most murderous genocidal atrocities in human history have been committed by states against separatist movements - Turkish Armenians, Pakistan in Bangladesh, Timor L’este, Sri Lanka, Kurdistan, Palestine… I would be very careful to avoid with ANY appearance with siding with state (and usually colonialist) savagery.
You know absolutely nothing about the Kurdish people and their popular libertarian socialist movement. Do you even know who the imprisoned Abdullah Öcalan is and his vision of a future Kurdistan? Do you know a single Kurd at all?
It looks like genuine internationalist-leftists are becoming rather rare here on Commondreams - because you sure are not one. Please take off your tin-foil hat and put down your Robert Ludlum…
I am who I am. I don’t let any particular group identification define my opinions. I am quite sure that separatists are all over many countries in the world. If imprisonment of one person can condemn a regime, then the US is sure in a whole heap of trouble, along with many other countries.