Independence for Catalonia is a bad idea ?


"Catalonia’s defiant attempt to stage an independence referendum descended into chaos on Sunday, with hundreds of people injured in clashes with the Spanish police in one of the most serious tests of the country’s democracy since the end of the Franco dictatorship in the 1970s.

National police officers dressed in riot gear deployed in large numbers as they fanned out across Catalonia, the restive northeastern region of Spain, to close polling stations and seize ballot boxes.

Over the course of the day, the referendum took on an almost surreal cast. The voting went ahead in many towns and cities, with men and women, young and old, singing, clapping and chanting as they lined up for hours to cast ballots, even as confrontations with the police turned violent elsewhere.

The police, sent by the central government in Madrid from other parts of Spain, used rubber bullets and truncheons in some places. The clashes quickly spoiled what had been a festive, if expectant, atmosphere through the night and into the early morning among voters, many of whom had camped out inside polling stations to ensure that they would remain open."  NY Times


 Europe is replete with ethnic, linguistic and economic fault lines.  There are many regions that might want to break away from the states that now contain them if such a project proves feasible for the Catalans.  It is easy to name a few:  South Tyrol, The Spanish Basque country.  Walloon or Flemish Belgium, Scotland,, etc.  Catalan success might spread the idea across the globe to parts of North America.

It is one thing for a country to voluntarily accept departure of an off-shore dependancy like Puerto Rico, but it would be wildly different and disruptive for a region of an existing state to force upon the central power its own separation.  pl

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71 Responses to Independence for Catalonia is a bad idea ?

  1. Lemur says:

    From the perspective of the post-liberal right, a little chaos is a small price to pay for scuppering the globalist world order. I see no reason (outside of bourgeois considerations) to hold sacred the existence of states who merely demarcate zones of competition between disparate groups, or who serve the need of international capital for ‘political stability.’
    The 20th century was dominated by three political models, which arose in response to mass society – Fascism, Communism, and managerial liberalism. A combination of institutional instability and the alliance of the latter two took out the first one. The second collapsed under the weight of a centrally managed economy. The latter thought it had ‘won’ because it was the last man standing. But this model is accumulating irreparable system failures of its own, because its fundamental premises are flawed too (endless growth, individuals are the primary unit of society, freedom is ‘doing whatever you like’, the distribution of goods and services is the sum of a stable society).
    Whenever there is disorder in the universe, chaos clears a space for the natural order to reassert itself given the contingencies of the time. Western thought has understood this since Heraclitus (‘flux’). The winds of change are blowing, and contra the the Scorpions song, its not toward the universal brotherhood of man. We are in the beginning of a transition, a liminal phase. The West is transmogrifying into a new forms, which cannot be explained in the terms of the old models.

  2. Jack says:

    The Spanish government of Mariano Rajoy showed bad judgment in my opinion in preventing the referendum from taking place. The UK allowed the Scots to have their vote and campaigned on why the Scots would be better off in the UK. The Scots rejected independence. Similarly Canada permitted Quebec to vote and campaigned on the benefits. The Quebecois voted against separation.
    In the non-binding referendum done some years back nearly half the Catalans rejected an independent state. If the Spanish had allowed an open referendum and campaigned against secession the outcome would very likely have been that separation would have been rejected. In an open referendum those opposed to secession would have been empowered to campaign and vote against separation.
    In this case the Spanish government chose to disrupt the referendum by using police force. The separatists chose to come out in the streets to exercise their right of self-determination. The videos of police violence are a public relations disaster for the Spanish government and will only steel the resolve of the separatists. Since the Spanish national police were attacking polling stations and taking away ballot boxes by force, this created a pretext for the Catalonian authorities to tell their supporters they could print their ballots at home and deposit at any polling station. Additionally since the Spanish police have disabled all vote counting software systems the Catalonians can count and come up with any result they choose.
    This situation can only escalate now. The lesson of the referenda in Scotland and Quebec was not learned.
    The EU project of a common currency and monetary policy is fundamentally flawed unless they move towards a fiscal union as Macron is suggesting. Centrifugal forces are gathering strength not only in Europe but also here in the US.

  3. David Lentini says:

    I see much of the sentiments of the Catlonian independence movement as a major vote of no confidence in the central Spanish government, which is a complete whore to the global bankers and the EU’s autocrats. The tyrannical attitudes of Junkers & Co. are driving the action along these fault lines with the resulting seismic activity. The central governments have no one to blame but themselves.
    Of course, the EU might like to see this sort of unrest as an excuse to declare martial law and establish themselves as the outright controllers of Europe.

  4. Sam Peralta says:

    Col. Lang
    The early returns are showing a massive landslide victory for the Catalan separatists. I have not seen any data yet on the turnout or the ratio of registered voters that actually cast ballots.
    Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont says the region has won the right to statehood following Sunday’s contentious referendum which was marred by violence.
    He said the door had been opened to a unilateral declaration of independence.
    How will the Spanish government now respond if the Catalan parliament declares independence? Will they send in tanks? The media would have a field day with that. What will the EU apparatchiks do?
    Col. Lang, you are right. If the Catalans succeed in becoming independent, then it will only embolden all the other separatist movements in Europe. The next few days will be interesting to see how this escalates.

  5. turcopolier says:

    As you probably have figured out by now, my rhetorical positions in posts do not always match my actual positions. It will, in fact be interesting to watch if Europe and North America devolve into their natural fragments. I hope I am here to watch. BTW “The Vietnam War” is available on Comcast “on demand.” pl

  6. kxd says:

    Except the pro-independence leaders and supporters are also Pro-EU and have declared that their newly formed free state will seek to join the EU and hope to be accepted with no qualm(delusional) or some even argue that when they declare independence they won’t actually be leaving the EU.
    So where that does leave your argument?
    (disclaimer: I don’t care one way or another about Spain nor Catalonia, I have no skin in that game, though I generally lean towards favoring secessionist movements in principle.)

  7. sege says:

    IMO that ship has long sailed for Quebec at least. My father came here as an FOB immigrant in the 80s and enthusiastically voted “Oui” in ’95 along with his fellow transplants that had accompanied him on scholarship way back then, all of whom along with him had by then picked up native wives. The newer breed of immigrant is more in tune with “Multicultural Paradise” vision of canada. And the younger quebecois generation couldnt care less, even as the language itself continues to degenerate, especially in montreal.

  8. iowa steve says:

    Not unexpectedly there are some pundits who attribute Catalonia’s independence vote to the nefarious hand of Putin the Omnipotent.

  9. Walrus says:

    Col. Lang, with respect. How would you contrast the Catalan position with the Southern states? – “to force upon the central power its own separation”?
    I am saving the Ken Burns Vietnam for later.

  10. Bandolero says:

    What I find most shocking with these Catalans is that they set out to deny the Spanish King his god given right to rule over his tributary subjects in Catalonia.
    I wonder why this outrageous Catalan insubordination gets so little attention from the media. Can’t they figure out where would it lead to if people were allowed to deny their kings the right to rule?

  11. voislav says:

    This is a natural progression of the dismantling of the nation state supremacy over the past 30 years. The break-ups of Soviet Union and Yugoslavia established the precedent that the constituent parts of a state can break off without a supporting referendum or agreement with the central government. This culminated with the International Court of Justice ruling on Kosovo independence that established that any group can declare independence. There is no internationally recognized legal requirement for such declaration and the group does not have to have any legitimacy through election or referendum. Enforcement of the territorial integrity of a country depends solely on its monopoly of force, there is no legal recourse.
    The issue Europe is facing now is that the economy is being driven off the cliff by the German mercantilism, giving rise to populist nationalism. So now Europe, having supported the principle of self-determination elsewhere (where convenient), will have to suppress it by force at home while maintaining a veneer of democracy.
    Britain and Canada managed to skirt the issue by relying on media and financial inducements to obtain a favourable vote. Spain will be a real test as the referendum will be inevitably followed by some sort of declaration of independence, leaving central government with no choice but to escalate the into violent repression.
    One way or the other, this will open a lot of rifts in Europe. Many people will see this as illegal crackdown on democratic rights, while others will see it as legitimate suppression of separatism. Countries with ethnic issues will likely side with Spain, but others will likely side with Catalan self-determination rights. So far most EU governments are not reacting, but the pressure to do so will increase quickly.

  12. Walrus says:

    The Catalan and similar movements are going to become a feature of this century as a direct result of globalism. This was made plain at least twenty years ago.
    The cause is the weakening of the nation state as an organising principle because of the weakening of national identity. People now have a multitude of choices about their identity thanks to global information flows. For example you can now identify as LGBT, Jedi Night, MS13, libertarian, etc. etc. The old ‘brands” – English, Spanish, Italian, Australian, etc. are now breaking down into a multitude of subsets with which people can identiify.
    However its not just “identifying”; its organising around that identity that is the problem. By way of example, it appears to me (and I may be wrong) that the entire BLM movement is purveying a black American identity that is based on a “them and us” model that views conflict as inevitable. In Australia we have a serious criminal gang problem with members identifying as Hells Angels, Comancheros – imported American identities. Twenty years ago that would have been quaint.
    The downside of fragmentation is that the world is modelled on the westphalian state concept, and all our treaties with each other are predicated on the state enforcing them on their citizens. As nation states lose that ability, the outcome is war.

  13. mike says:

    I’m with Jack. Both Spain and Iraq should take lessons from the Scot and Quebec models. Catalonia has never been truly Spanish, always repressed and treated with contempt by Madrid. IIRC even Cervantes denigrated Catalonians 400 years ago, calling them thieves in his Don Quixote novel.
    What of Majorca and the other Balearics, was the referendum held there as well as in Barcelona? Are they not all mostly of ethnic Catalan descent, or have they been Iberianized? Or they may well prefer stability and the plentiful tourist euros and greenbacks instead of the possible volatility of a referendum.

  14. BrotherJoe says:

    Well said sir, well said.

  15. turcopolier says:

    I am unfamiliar with the Spanish constitution but in the case of the US in 1861 the Southern states had a constitutional right to secede. pl

  16. Clueless Joe says:

    Only the province of Catalonia voted on it. Baleares and Valencia don’t want to join them, but of course you have plenty of foolish irredentists who want to take them back, and even French Roussillon to boot.
    That’s even more reasons for EU countries to not recognize that process, because if they’re allowed to succeed, no current border will ever be safe in Europe; you’ll always find some goons ready to declare independance for their village, or for it to join the country next door, or to want to annex the neighbouring town beyond the border, under any flimsy pretext.
    “As nation states lose that ability, the outcome is war.”
    Well, the outcome is more than war.
    The obvious final outcome is the war of all these newly self-styled communities against all the other communities.
    Then, after immense bloodshed and suffering, when people will be fed up and depressed after years of war, some major groups, ethnies, religions or leftover nations will stand and regroup the bludgeoned and nearly destroyed smaller groups and populations, who will gladly go under their umbrella if they can ensure peace at long last.
    I defer to Col. Lang about the constitutional right of the Southern States. Here, Catalonian independantist leaders clearly violated not only the Spanish Constitution, went against Spanish Supreme Court rulings, they even went against their own Catalonian courts who were opposed to the referendum and bypassed the Catalonian parliament, because they knew many parties would opposed the referendum as well. To be blunt, that idiot Rajoy is acting out now and relies on violence because Catalonian people couldn’t be bothered to protest against authoritarian leaders who don’t give a damn about legality, both Spanish and Catalonian ones, and Catalonian police couldn’t be bothered to jail them.
    And there’s no way this is a backlash against “capitalist globalism” or whatever, the current bunch of independantist leaders are just as corrupt as the Spanish ones, and the way they did their wannabe referendum is proof enough they’re ready to rule their future country like Orban, or even Lukashenko.

  17. Babak Makkinejad says:

    What you are saying is that the Spanish state has no rights to remain a coherent unitary state but, rather, must allow itself to be disintegrated by the political whims of this or that group. In such manner, every extant state could look forward to quick death at the ballot box.

  18. Babak Makkinejad says:

    Why should Athens government be permitted to make all Hellens serfs of Germany. It is time, my brothers and sisters, for Dorians to reject this Ionian treachery and regain their independence which had been so fearly bought 200 years ago and so cheaply sold, for beads and trade cloth, 20 months ago. Elefteria e Thanados

  19. Babak Makkinejad says:

    Fascism, Communism, and Managerial Liberalism are different facets of the same mechanistic Bourgeois rationalism that discarded with religion. Its replacement will be a religious civilization but not anytime soon. Most non-Western people are adopting it in totality, as much as they can, without its vestigial religious component. A recipie for failure.

  20. ISL says:

    Dear Colonel,
    I will make a prediction that in 100 years, if there is a peaceful earth with a climate that supports advanced civilizations, the world will be redefined into city states (or single planet-wide nation aka star trek, but I think there were several global wars in between in that future history).
    Until fairly recently, empires with free movement within were the rule of the day. The EU has attempted to resurrect empire, but in the world of good communication, the inevitable inequalities are tearing the project apart (ignorance is bliss). The city and its surrounding agricultural lands is a natural economic unit, and if you blob two city states into one economic unit (e.g., a nation state), absent eternal subsidization (as in Rome versus Milan), one city and its environs settles into terminal decline relative to the other. The end result is that after a few hundred years, every country is dominated by one city with the rest on economic life support (i.e., subsidization).
    Current EU policy is optimal for Germany and thus by definition sub-optimal for all other countries. The end result is the current state of affairs with the EU one Italian vote from collapse. This would have happened eventually – for example, Italy has not had a good year of economic growth since it joined the euro (but many good years before). However, the US generated arc of instability and resultant refugee waves brought the chickens home to roost in the now, not in a few decades.
    Catalan is a symptom, and EU opposition is not a cure, its a band aid (as is the EU treatment of Greece), but the EU repeatedly over-rules democracy (vote again until you get the right vote), which as long as it also provided rising incomes (on debt) was accepted.
    Many years ago I read a book that described the rise and decline of cities in different countries but cant recall or google find the title (not Jane Jacobs’ treatise).
    Detroit is an excellent example – US economic policy matches that of the financial centers. Only if Michigan was to separate, could Detroit reverse its fortunes – possibly but unlikely given the quality of US political leadership – or more to the point, how bought they are in our very expensive electoral system.

  21. r whitman says:

    Borders always change. In my lifetime I have seen the borders of the USA change 3 times.

  22. Generalfeldmarschall von Hindenburg says:

    Since, as has been pointed out, Catalonia would remain in the EU, it seems on the surface to make little difference whether Catalonia remains part of Spain anymore than if Bavaria remains part of Germany or Lombardy part of Italy.
    The real problem for Madrid’s poobahs is how can they keep paying extortion money to German, French and American banks if they lose a major urban center like Catalonia. I’m sure they assume (and probably correctly) that Basque country would follow quickly in departure.
    Aside from that, the extreme and rapidly accelerating centralizing tendencies of the neoliberal world order (the Brussels brain trust throwing national sovereignty out the window when issues of finance and immigration come up for instance) have created a reaction that might look likely to undo the EU project, but in a way, create a crisis which could be exploited by those seeking further centralization.

  23. Generalfeldmarschall von Hindenburg says:

    That’s actually totally true. Some northern states at one point had themselves threatened to secede. The south just lost the military chess match.

  24. Generalfeldmarschall von Hindenburg says:

    Europe is in such a state of uncertainty and tumult, I have to wonder how long people in the periphery of some of these states will consider such stability as a net benefit. The slow strangulation of Greece is an example to all.

  25. A. Pols says:

    Walrus said it for me, about the secession of the South.
    I find it “interesting” that so many Americans pile on in favor of breaking up every other nation state but our own, but some of us Americans harbor treason in our hearts by thinking we could use a dose of the same emetic..

  26. Grimgrin says:

    This is standard practice for any independence movement though. Both the Quebecois and the Scots nationalist campaigns boiled down to: “We will secede from everything we don’t like about the country, and keep everything we do!”
    Sometimes to a frankly absurd degree; the last referendum the Quebecois seemed to think they’d still get federal transfer payments, Canadian passports, and some control over the bank of Canada post secession. The Scottish manifesto claimed they’d keep the BBC, the pound, and EU membership.
    Meanwhile the Anglos in Canada and the English in the UK were muttering to themselves quietly about how there was no fucking way those bastards would keep any of the concessions that had been made in the name of national unity should the vote turn out as a ‘yes’, much less be offered new ones.

  27. Thirdeye says:

    Whenever there is disorder in the universe, chaos clears a space for the natural order to reassert itself given the contingencies of the time.

    Uh….. Second Law of Thermodynamics?

  28. Thirdeye says:

    Even worse, in the case of Kosovo the group claiming the right to self-determination were ethnic Albanians who migrated to Kosovo in the late Ottoman period and claimed the primacy of their group’s collective rights over those of the Serbs, the original inhabitants. That situation is a lot like what’s going on with the Rohingya who were brought to Burma by the Brits, with the same undercurrent of Islamist agitation.

  29. Balint Somkuti, PhD says:

    “Fascism, Communism, and Managerial Liberalism are different facets of the same mechanistic Bourgeois rationalism that discarded with religion”
    whole heartedly agree.

  30. Balint Somkuti, PhD says:

    Multiethnical states tend to fall apart see Sovietunion, Yugoslavia, or Czechoslovakia. Wonder how long such anti-minority states like Greater Romania and Ukraine will last.
    OTOH with such gigacompanies such as google, or microsoft the creation of small, fragmented, and financially weak states clearly favor the masters of globalization.

  31. Babak Makkinejad says:

    No, no, no. That model does not exist any longer, what relationship does Mexico City, Seoul, Peking, Tehran, London, New York, DC have with the surrounding country side?

  32. Babak Makkinejad says:

    The Catalans, like the Knights of Malta can become an independent state without land. They are not legally entitled to the Lands of Catalonia.

  33. Babak Makkinejad says:


  34. kxd says:

    Catalonia would NOT remain in the EU. I stated that the pro-independence leaders and supporters WANTED to remain in the EU but that is a pipe deam they are selling each other because the EU would not recognise any unilateral declaration of independence and Spain would never vote for Catalonia to join anyway.

  35. LeaNder says:

    The economic perspective via Agence France Press on Al Jazeera:
    About a decade ago slightly led by someone’s core arguments on an issue surfacing here repeatedly, I looked into self-determination and more recent academic debates. Legally it is balanced by the right to territorial unity. Never mind my personal opinion concerning e.g. Crimea. What about California?
    Kosovo introduced a more recent legal frame in international law.
    But concerning Catalonia there is of cause also national law:,_2017
    You should update this term slightly, I had to smile, admittedly:
    The issue Europe is facing now is that the economy is being driven off the cliff by the German mercantilism
    How about Ordoliberalim?
    That’s at least the recurring critique by e.g. Yanis Varoufakis et all.
    What about the idea of keeping some type of balance between what you earn/tax and what you spent? Or redistribute? … MRW seems to feel money only needs to be printed, debts don’t matter.

  36. begob says:

    Centrifugal forces are gathering strength not only in Europe but also here in the US.
    Perhaps, but in Catalonia’s case (and Scotland’s too) secession is planned with a view to joining the EU in their own right.
    I expect the authoritarian trend in some former COMECON countries will be a greater threat to the EU.

  37. Cortes says:

    The current Spanish Constitution made the peaceful transition from the Franco era possible, at the price of denial of the legal right to secede. A more mature democracy, not needing to look over its shoulder for the emergence of another Tejero (who threatened the Parliament) from the ranks of the Army could have gone the same route as Quebec and Scotland. Not Spain. There are plenty of “unresolved issues ” out there. The most interesting, but depressing, thing I’ve observed over the last 18 months or so has been the campaign to denigrate the autonomous police force of Catalonia, culminating with a blame game over the recent terrorist outrages. I’m not sure that there won’t be telling responses to that, let alone the hamfistedness of the central government over the past few months.

  38. Harry says:

    Excellent! Very true. A choice all Western European countries face.

  39. b says:

    “a small price to pay for scuppering the globalist world order. I see no reason (outside of bourgeois considerations) ”
    The Catalonia independence movement is driven by a right-wing bourgeois party. The “bourgeois considerations” behind that are the fact that Catalonia is relatively rich while the rest of Spain relatively poor.
    There would be no “scuppering the globalist world order” in case of Catalonian independence. The parties driving it want to immediately join the EU and NATO.
    Now go back dreaming – or inform yourself before judging on such issues.

  40. b says:

    Many of the Spanish “global banks” have their seats in Catalonia.

  41. b says:

    Only the pro-separation people went to vote.
    The majority of Catalans followed the law and did not take part because the vote was declared illegal by the Spanish supreme court.
    That the vote gave the (un-checkable)result of a pro-separation majority says nothing about the will of the people as a whole.

  42. LeaNder says:

    Ok, this might be misleading:
    Kosovo introduced a more recent legal frame in international law.
    strictly I meant to use precedent here, but was preoccupied with looking for links and whatever else may have been on my mind. …
    I hope SST members will forgive me for erring off a strict definition of “on topic”. BUT: From a purely legal point of view Kosovo matters even in Syria/Kurdistan.

  43. LeaNder says:

    Concentrate, LeaNder, on matters you prefer to flee. Inner dialogue:
    of cause
    of course.
    you knew, didn’t you? Why this recurring mistake? … how often did it happen in the SST comment section?
    Not a “cause” but staying “on course”?
    Try to be gone for a a while. The semi-addict says, or writes for that matter. Wrong use of the comma?

  44. Bandolero says:

    I don’t think the holy principle of the integrity of nations is a major concern for the globalist power players here. I think it’s more like their spin, just like I drafted a counter-spin Monarchists vs Republicans as an example. I think the real concern of the the globalist power players is much more profane here: money. Who cares about people and nations when the profits of banks are at risk?
    In German media I heard the argument that the “right of a people for self determination” is a very important principle, but in the case of Catalonia it won’t be good, because Madrid may not be able to shoulder all the Spanish debt – much of which arose from embezzlement in the Madrid controlled banking sector – without the help of Catalonia. So, if Catalonia would secede, if may cause losses for banks holding Spanish debt, and therefore Germany doesn’t like the idea of Catalan independence.
    A blog called “Wolf Street” had recently an interesting headline: Wall Street and City of London Press Panic Button on Catalonia
    I think for globalist bankers, endebted nations may be seen first and foremost as communities of debtors. If parts of an andebted nation break away, the rest may not be able to pay back debts and interests. I think that’s what is at the heart of the dispute in Catalonia, and that’s the main reason why Madrid’s police just has beaten up lots of people in Catalonia who tried to put a piece of paper into a ballot box.

  45. Voislav – How did you find this out? – “Britain and Canada managed to skirt the issue by relying on media and financial inducements to obtain a favourable vote.”
    Horribly true. Don’t know about Canada but in the Scottish referendum the arm-twisting was a disgrace. It was also foolish. It left many Scots feeling just as angry as those Catalonians who got beaten up for real.
    But it was mostly play acting anyway. I’m sure there are genuine nationalists around in Scotland but from what I saw the leaders of the movement were just another set of cronies looking to get to the trough; and their followers resembled nothing so much as sheep weighing up which pasture was greener. Not a lot of Scots wha hae in evidence and not a scrap of let us do or die to be seen. All reminds me of how the Brexit vote so nearly went.
    And letting the English immigrants vote but not the Scottish expatriates sounds more like the voting in those areas of “Kurdistan” that have recently experienced population replacement. In these days of mix’n match isn’t that a dodgy precedent for most European countries?
    On the general issue I’m wholeheartedly with Babak’s final comment above; with the addition that any talk of how national units should be arrived at is so much hot air unless there’s an adequate defence capability to back it up with. I’m always sceptical of drawing lessons from history since the lesson usually depends on who’s drawing it; but one lesson printed in block capitals from Ireland to Tibet is that if you can’t defend it you don’t keep it.

  46. turcopolier says:

    Who are the “globalist power players here?” pl

  47. Babak Makkinejad says:

    And I suppose that if Kosovars vote and elect to join the Islamic Republic of Iran as the new Kuzvostan, none in EU would object?

  48. Babak Makkinejad says:

    The basic aim is to create principlalities. EU would stop at nothing to stop a new union between Austria, Hungary, and Slovenia.

  49. NancyK says:

    You don’t mention the biggest brands, Christian, Jewish,Muslim, etc.

  50. Bandolero says:

    These globalist power players are mainly bankers, nationally and internationally, acting irresponsibly, producing a credit-driven housing bubble in Spain. What happened in Spain was quite similar to what happened in the US financial segment, and internationally, I think, it’s the same big banking corporations, who drove that irresponsible policy.
    And when the Spanish bubble crashed they told there political friends to save the banks with public money because these banks are so important and too big to fail. And that happened then in Spain. EU burocrats guided by the German government gave the Spanish government huge credits to lead the saving of Spanish banks from defaulting and please their creditors. Now, with a secession of Catalonia, I think, the EU credit money and the profits of private creditors partnering in the restructuring would again be at risk, because Catalonia won’t like to take over Madrid’s debts and alone Madrid couldn’t pay their share of the bailout for the banks.
    At least that seems to be the story told here in Germany.

  51. robt willmann says:

    The Catalonia activity came on at the time of Richard Sale’s posting of 28 September about Vietnam, the French government, and Ho Chi Minh. It presents the classic issue of some sort of small organization being dominant over a particular geographic area. In the case of Vietnam, it was the entire country, and for Catalonia, it is an area in an existing country.
    Back in 1948-49, the British mathematician and philospher Bertrand Russell presented six talks, called the Reith lectures, on the subject of Authority and the Individual. They were broadcast on the British BBC radio. The recordings are here–
    On the individual website page for each lecture, you can download the mp3 audio file to listen to on a computer, or transfer it to a medium to listen to in your car, or elsewhere. As an example, the first lecture is here–
    Transcripts of the lectures are also in the BBC archives, and you can download them to view or print for reading–
    Col. Lang’s reference to the South Tyrol area in northern Italy as a place where this issue exists reminds me that about 10 years ago I was at the Oktoberfest in Munich, Germany (this year’s celebration ends tomorrow). While there, I noticed some people wearing T-shirts with a political slogan on them. I talked to a couple of the guys who, although under the influence of excellent German beer, were coherent enough to tell me that they were from the South Tyrol area and they wanted it to separate and secede from Italy and join Austria. That area seems to be another after-effect of World War I.
    South Tyrol is a nice place. An attractive town to visit is called Brixen (in German) and Bressanone (in Italian)–
    You will sometimes see signs written in both Italian and German, and restaurant menus may also appear in both languages.

  52. LeaNder – I know the feeling. The Colonel accepts a comment and then it’s “Where did I screw up on the proof reading” time.
    But “of cause” is really no big deal. You should see my written German. Tottering before the German spelling reform and now even writing a double s is a research project. Comparing the two languages I always think we’re so lucky to have kept our severely logical English spelling. So different from Germany, where half the population no longer know how to spell their own language. When you’ve hanged your bankers (you’re being a bit tardy on that, by the way) and got your hand in you could perhaps make a start on the lads at Duden. Clever of a publishing house to change the spelling. Reprinting all the books should keep the trade going for ever. And there’s that ever so faint Orwellian feel to the exercise to keep the Progs contented too.
    Don’t let’s talk about commas. They’re one of life’s mysteries. Who was that French bloke who spent the morning putting a comma in and the afternoon taking it out again? He was rushing the job.

  53. turcopolier says:

    I am not someone who will edit your prose to change “happy” to “glad” or pretty up your literary efforts. There are a couple of people for whom I will do that because they are ill or feeble, but in general, no. I just don’t care. pl

  54. Sam Peralta says:

    Only the pro-separation people went to vote.” Correct, because they were motivated to achieve what they wanted.
    The majority of Catalans…did not take part..“. That does not seem accurate. Reportedly there are 5.3 million eligible voters. 2.2 million voted and reportedly 800K ballots were confiscated by the Spanish national police. That would imply the majority did vote. And if the 90% trend continued that would say that the majority voted to secede.
    That the vote gave the (un-checkable)result..” The fault for that directly lies with the Spanish government for attempting to disrupt the referendum. Played directly into the hands of the separatists.
    I agree with Jack. The Spanish government should have allowed the referendum and campaigned against it and rallied the Catalans opposed to secession. That would have been the best option of defeating the separatists. The EU have no leg to stand on considering their active role in dismembering Yugoslavia, and other places. The precedent was set then. Now more people will demand their right to self-determination. What goes around always comes around! Hiding behind legal sophistry like “..the vote was declared illegal by the Spanish supreme court..” will not cut muster with people who create facts on the ground. Most fights for independence and self-determination are considered “illegal” by the ruling structures who don’t want to voluntarily reduce their power.

  55. Balint Somkuti, PhD says:

    I know. They are really terrified by the ever stronger Visegrad 4 (V4).

  56. Adrestia says:

    IMO the Catalonian referendum is just another event in a group of related events in Europe (Brexit, all recent elections!) which will result in the end of the EU as we know it unless it changes. The political Euroborg have lost touch with their electorate and many more ‘unexpected’ results can be expected. I’ll mainly use examples from my own country with regard to statistics and political situation. With small variations they will also apply to other countries.
    The Euro is the catalyst. Since the introduction One single currency for a wide range of different countries with different economies and a different role of the state. It also decreases the influence of national politics and because of this the influence of individual citizens.
    The 1992 Maastricht Treaty criteria for the Euro were determined a.o.:
    * Government debt not higher than 60%
    * Government deficit not more than 3%
    * European Central Bank (in Frankfurt, Germany)
    Wynne Godley wrote in 1992 in his visionary Maastricht and all that “the power to issue its own money, to make drafts on its own central bank, is the main thing which defines national independence. If a country gives up or loses this power, it acquires the status of a local authority or colony.” and continued with “Europe’s conventional wisdom (though not that of the US or Japan) that governments are unable, and therefore should not try, to achieve any of the traditional goals of economic policy, such as growth and full employment. All that can legitimately be done, according to this view, is to control the money supply and balance the budget.”
    National politics are not able to stimulate the economy (during recessions) with devaluation of the currency (eg Italy, Spain, Greece) so they become for example cheap holiday locations or can export cheaper; default on government debt or print money (even very limited) to stimulate the economy (increase government spending)
    The Maastricht Treaty was rejected by the Danish (50.7% against) and narrowly accepted by the French (50.8% in favor).
    The Treaty of Lisbon of 2007 was intended to continue the merger of the individual countries in the EU. However referendums in the Netherlands and France rejected the Treaty and the Irish initially did this too.
    The Euro remained and from the introduction of the ‘real’ Euro on 1/1/2001 (after the chartal Euro in 1999) had a negative influence on the purchasing power of a lot of European citizens. In The Netherlands where I come from the Euro was introduced with an exchange rate which was about 10% lower than the real rate. Good for export, but for the regular citizen it meant a depreciation of their savings, pension, property etc.
    For export-countries with a trade-deficit (Germany, The Netherlands) the Euro is undervalued (up to 20%) so exports are cheap (e.g. German cars). For countries in the periphery (Southern Europe) the Euro is too strong. Every country is considered the same economically, but they are very different with regard to economical systems (Rhineland capitalism versus Anglo-Dutch capitalism)), culture (core family in Northern Europe versus extended family in Southern Europe, etc etc). In general the Euro has favored (large)(multinational) corporations at the expense of citizens and small and medium enterprise.
    Since the introduction of the Euro this is visible in polls where maybe a few quarters are positively viewed from an individual financial perspective. Prices have increased dramatically (although the official figures are much lower but are questionable. For example the price of computers is miused without regard to Moore’s law. Eg a computer with X processor cost $3000 in 2000 and in 2006 only $200. Energy prices are also not included. IMO these are tricks to achieve the required results)
    The fertility rate also keep declining in the Netherlands. This is a better indication of confidence in the future and difficult to manipulate. The same applies to other countries such as Italy:
    “Italy’s birth rate has more halved since the ‘baby boom’ of the 1960s, with the number of births falling to 488,000 in 2015 – fewer than in any other years since the modern state was formed in 1861.
    “If we carry on as we are and fail to reverse the trend, there will be fewer than 350,000 births a year in 10 years’ time, 40 percent less than in 2010 — an apocalypse”
    The financial crisis which started in 2007/2008 (and is still very active as much has remained the same and business as usual has returned) caused a huge increase in government debt because the financial system has been bailed out. The only tool national politicians have left is austerity, which especially affects the lower incomes and shrinks the national economy.
    “IMF staff reports, suggest that fiscal multipliers used in the forecasting process are about 0.5. our results indicate that multipliers have actually been in the 0.9 to 1.7 range since the Great Recession. This finding is consistent with research suggesting that in today’s environment of substantial economic slack, monetary policy constrained by the zero lower bound, and synchronized fiscal adjustment across numerous economies, multipliers may be well above 1
    Austerity doesn’t help the economy but increases the damage.
    Italy is probably the weakest link now. The constitutional referendum in december 2016 was vote against with 59% of the votes. The next parliamentary elections in March 2018 could break the Euro when populist right and populist left get a majority.
    In addition to this the Italian banks are basically bankrupt because of 1.2 trillion bad loans on their balance sheets. Even a small bank-run will be fatal for them. So banks are saved again, but the Euro-rules require austerity which will hurt the italian voter – again.
    In all European elections (but also in the US and Korea) the electorate voted against the ruling political parties whether they are left or right. This trend will continue. The electorate doesn’t want a continuation of the present (neo-liberal) politics. Even when ruling parties are still able to create a majority they have lost significantly. ‘Victories’ such as Macron in France (and May in the UK) is the result of the electoral system.
    The (political) Euroborg have completely lost touch with their electorate so many more ‘unexpected’ election results can be expected. In The Netherlands there are 4 groups (where members change groups on a regular basis):
    1. Politicians; 2. Public relations/spokesperson/communication advisor (I couldn’t find a singular English word) 3. Lobbyists (for commerce, NGO’s or other special interest groups) 4. Media (journalists). There is a revolving door between these groups. They communicate mainly with each other and they probably think that this represents the public opinion. In reality large parts of the electorate do not have any say on a national level.
    In the EU their influence is even less. The European Central Bank (led by an unelected ex-Goldman Sachs banker) is by far the largest liquidity source in Europe (as banks and corporation hardly lend to each other anymore because they don’t trust each other). IMO this resembles ‘taxation without representation’ and the European voter grabs any chance available.
    The future of the EU?
    IMO the EU has created a safer Europe, but has become a bureaucratic/technocratic monster since the 1990s. In it current form it will self destruct unless it changes. No monetary union, no social union, no economic union. But I don’t have a lot of faith in the Euroborg.
    The position of Germany is very important. I sincerely believe that Germany is totally committed to the European ideals and doesn’t want a repeat of its position which caused the second world war. For a lot of other European citizens it looks like the Euro is the conquest of Europe by economic means. Germany is the main benificiary of the Euro-project, but if it doesn’t accept a change it will also be its Nemesis.
    The following options may be possible:
    1. Continue the present course: as soon as the Euro will be doubted all European capital will flow to Germany (and The Netherlands, Austria and maybe some other smaller countries) and increase the value of the new Deutsch-euro with maybe 40% and immediately plunge the economy in a depression.
    2. Breakup of EU: the electorate may vote for exit (as the UK has done). This may result in (some) totalitarian states.
    3. Increase unification and decrease of democracy. The EU is undemocratic now and the actions of the Spanish government may very well be the symptomatic of the things to come. Especially when policing and repressing is done by other ethnic groups (the Spanish flamenco comes from Flemish, who awere enforcers for the Spanish king)
    4. Limit influence on nation-states. Limit to certain areas with regard to borders, import tax, etc) Return power to national politicians and governments.
    Are laws and treaties permanent?
    No, nothing is permanent. Our Act of Abjuration in 1581 states the right of citizens to revolt against tyrannical authority. (which may well be a major inspiration for the Declaration of Independence)
    As it is apparent to all that a prince is constituted by God to be ruler of a people, to defend them from oppression and violence as the shepherd his sheep; and whereas God did not create the people slaves to their prince, to obey his commands, whether right or wrong, but rather the prince for the sake of the subjects (without which he could be no prince), to govern them according to equity, to love and support them as a father his children or a shepherd his flock, and even at the hazard of life to defend and preserve them. And when he does not behave thus, but, on the contrary, oppresses them, seeking opportunities to infringe their ancient customs and privileges, exacting from them slavish compliance, then he is no longer a prince, but a tyrant, and the subjects are to consider him in no other view. And particularly when this is done deliberately, unauthorized by the states, they may not only disallow his authority, but legally proceed to the choice of another prince for their defense. This is the only method left for subjects whose humble petitions and remonstrances could never soften their prince or dissuade him from his tyrannical proceedings; and this is what the law of nature dictates for the defense of liberty, which we ought to transmit to posterity, even at the hazard of our lives.
    This year an interesting survey was done in Europe:
    Europe’s youth don’t care to vote—but they’re ready to join a mass revolt
    Around 580,000 respondents in 35 countries were asked the question: Would you actively participate in large-scale uprising against the generation in power if it happened in the next days or months? More than half of 18- to 34-year-olds said yes.

  57. cirsium says:

    Walrus – the old “brand” English is now breaking down? Are you not conflating English with British? The British and Spanish Empires are dead. Britain and Spain are union states. If the constituent nations of these states wish to go their own way, is this not a natural development? Decay and rebirth?
    People can have multiple identities and still think of themselves as a citizens of a specific nation.

  58. Babak Makkinejad says:

    Why should the Spanish state cede the power of dissolution of the state to a province? Are Catalans a sovereign people? I do not think so.

  59. JJackson says:

    Meanwhile the continentals were muttering to themselves quietly about how there was no fucking way those bastards would keep any of the concessions that had been made in the name of national unity should the Britexit vote turn out as a ‘yes’, much less be offered new ones.

  60. LeaNder says:

    Tottering before the German spelling reform and now even writing a double s is a research project.
    If you had the slightest idea about German spelling or for that matter phonetics, you would realize that in that context nothing changed. Except maybe the visual representation of the sound.
    kept our severely logical English spelling.
    Yes, I understand, the whole world may grasp logic in a however limited way only via his or her knowledge of the English language. Maybe you take a look at 19th century spelling reforms in GB. Or look at the history of your language.
    But yes, by now, I realize what you want to signal via “English Outsider”. An outsider on his own ground, deeply rooted there?

  61. turcopolier says:

    I am not signalling anything. I literally do not care about your grammar, spelling and punctuation and I encourage neologisms. I hold with Mark Twin who sent several pages of typed punctuation marks to his editor with a note saying “Insert where needed.” German spelling reform? pl

  62. “LeaNder” – What can I say? Sincerest apologies for making fun of the German spelling reform. If this little “reply” box I’m writing in ran to the facility I’d send a bunch of flowers to underline my remorse. Will you take the thought for the deed?
    But looking at the grim budget of news discussed in the subsequent posts and comments on the Colonel’s website reinforces the notion I’ve had for some time, since 2016 as a matter of fact. Fun time is well and truly over, if it was ever there. Hope of reform going too. Also any chance of reasoning with the Progs. Time to do a Tyler and wait soberly for what’s coming down the road.

  63. Grimgrin says:

    Exactly right. If you want independence, expect pain, and don’t trust anyone who tells you otherwise.

  64. Jack says:

    As you note the EU was a centralization project. And you are spot on that a common currency and monetary policy does not work for disparate regions with differing productivity. One aspect you did not cover is growing liabilities for pensions and social welfare. This will naturally be exacerbated by declining population of those supporting retirees as you point out with the startling demographic issues in Italy.
    The situation with Brexit, the nature how Lisbon, Maastricht were promulgated without substantial backing of ordinary citizens are all fissures that will be exploited by those disaffected. The Catalonia referendum and the response of the Spanish government is momentous. This could easily spin out of control particularly if Spain responds to an unilateral declaration of independence by Catalonia with force and repression. That could easily tear the social fabric apart and increase revolt by young people as the survey of youth you noted shows. As you know the youth have been particularly hard hit from the financial crisis with unprecedented youth under-employment in Southern Europe.
    Unfortunately decentralization in both political and in particular economic structures will not even be considered. Monopoly and oligarchic economic structures will not be broken up and an even playing field created for smaller and more enreprenurial enterprises. There is no constituency for that. Instead the state under the guise of keynesian and other such theories will intervene even more. Resulting in further concentration of economic and political power. More zombie companies with the right political connections will continue to receive liquidity as they get funded by fiscal authorities and the ECB. This will do very little for the small and mid-size enterprises and the persistent weakness in youth incomes. They will be susceptible to increasing demogoguery. This all seems like a slow motion train wreck, but history shows will accelerate rapidly at the end stages. I recall well conversations with Rudi Dornbusch on the dynamics of economic and social crises.

  65. LondonBob says:

    Looks like the Spanish government will dissolve the Catalan administration if they issue a UDI, the Spanish military has been prepped to support the civil powers in so doing. Decent chance Madrid will go with a maximal approach, of such an overwhelming response without much much in the way of gradual escalating steps, to any further moves.

  66. Babak Makkinejad says:

    So, a minority government in Catalonia has the sovereign right to stage an illegal referendum, create a crisis, and then declare independence?
    Catalans started the Civil War in Spain.

  67. Sam Peralta says:

    The Spanish state will not accede to secession by Catalonia for two big reasons. One, Catalonia is the most economically productive region and second, it will spur the Basque.
    Millions of Catalans believe they are sovereign and have expressed themselves in the referendum and in the streets. The EU & NATO created the precedent in the first place in Yugoslavia. They are now reaping that whirlwind.
    The Spanish government will respond with repression in Catalonia. That can only be temporary as the fires of separation have been stoked. The EU will be shown for it is.

  68. Adrestia says:

    Social welfare liabilities doesn’t really have to be a problem. As long as corporations and wealthy people also pay normal taxes (not extremely high, but similar to what citizens pay). That will pay for services such as free schooling, free healthcare, basic income (after retirement) etc. This is best for citizens and for business.
    It is an illusion to think that ‘The Market’ can provide this better. Give me a few (or even one) example (with real facts & results) that they do this and I will give you my right arm.
    In the OECD countires this economical school is preached like a fundamentalist religion and all heretics will be burned (or beheaded in an orange overall)
    The Market as God: Living in the new dispensation by Harvey Cox is interesting to read.
    IMO the largest threat of our western democracies is the current neoliberal neoclassical economic system that is overshooting its goals and is destroying our societies because of the tension it creates.
    In itself it was the logical overshooting of the Keynesian economical system that was dominant after ww2 (and also wasn’t able to limit its share of the pie)
    The monetary union is as neoliberal as it gets. Lack of confidence in the future make the population hunger for the past and blame it on others (foreigners, refugees (economic, political, war, climate) etc). The populist right has an easier story to sell than the left. This is a recipe for disaster and the return of totalitarian states in (western) Europe.
    The survey I referred to wasn’t done by accident. The European political leaders must be aware of the house of cards. It is a heath fire that is smouldering and increasingly flaring up. IMO they are looking for a solution but are unable to find a solution that is durable and fast enough. It looks like an impossible task.
    Although the situations are not the same it also applies to the US and other OECD countries. South Korea is a good example. Look at the political changes. They are prosecuting politicians and business leaders!

  69. Richard says:

    Yes, the Italian election next spring is the one to watch. I think many people in Europe are still underestimating what an earthquake it would be if the anti-Euro parties win the election and then proceed to implelemt an Italian exit from the EU, or an Italian exit from the Euro, or the introduction of a parallel Italian currency.
    I disagree with the broad statement that the Euro benefits Germany as a whole, it is just like in the Netherlands. The Euro is very beneficial for the export industry (at least in the short run, until the importers of the German export products go bankrupt and Germany has to eat the losses) and everybody closely related to it, and negative for everybody else. Here is a German economist who fleshes out the argument:

  70. Babak Makkinejad says:

    “An ecological economist”?
    Another intellectual in a soft protected academic position that enables him to dream the dream of “Reason” and “Utopia”.
    He should spend some time in Galicia and learn to raise onions so as to learn about real Life as lived by Real people.

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