I have written many times in the past about the singular conflict at the core of most human crises and disasters, a conflict that sabotages human endeavor and retards critical thought. This conflict not only stems from social interaction, it also exists within the psyche of the average individual. It is an inherent contradiction of the human experience that at times can fuel great accomplishment, but usually leads to great tragedy. I am of course talking about the conflict between our inborn need for self determination versus our inborn desire for community and group effort — sovereignty versus collectivism.
In my view, the source of the problem is that most people wrongly assume that “collectivism” is somehow the same as community. This is entirely false, and those who make this claim are poorly educated on what collectivism actually means. It is important to make a distinction here; the grouping of people is not necessarily or automatically collectivism unless that group seeks to subjugate the individuality of its participants. Collectivism cannot exist where individual freedom is valued. People can still group together voluntarily for mutual benefit and retain respect for the independence of members (i.e. community, rather than collectivism).
This distinction matters because there is a contingent of political and financial elites that would like us to believe that there is no middle ground between the pursuits of society and the liberties of individuals. That is to say, we are supposed to assume that all our productive energies and our safety and security belong to society. Either that, or we are extremely selfish and self serving “individualists” that are incapable of “seeing the bigger picture.” The mainstream discussion almost always revolves around these two extremes. We never hear the concept that society exists to serve individual freedom and innovation and that a community of individuals is the strongest possible environment for the security and future of humanity as a whole.
Thus, the mainstream argument becomes a kabuki theater between the “ignorantly destructive” populists/nationalists/individualists versus the more “reasonable” and supposedly forward thinking socialists/globalists/multiculturalists. The truth is, sovereignty champions can be pro-individual liberty and also pro-community or pro-nation, as long as that community is voluntary.
Collectivists will have none of this, however, and despite their intellectual and “rational” facade, they will often turn to brutality in order to disrupt any movement to decentralize power.
The civil unrest in the Spanish region of Catalonia is an interesting example of the tyranny of the collectivist ideology. According to mainstream doctrine, Spain is supposed to be a “decentralized unitary state” made up of “autonomous communities,” all with their own statutes and self governing bodies “loosely” regulated by the Spanish constitution of 1978. Catalonia, along with a couple other regions and cities in Spain, has long fought for true autonomy from the central government in Madrid. This separatist culture was crushed under the heel of Francisco Franco’s dictatorial regime after the Spanish Civil War which started in 1936.
After Franco’s death in 1975, Spain began its “transition to democracy” (democracy being the tyranny of the majority rather than tyranny by military regime). Once again, Catalonia’s push for independence returned.
The reasons for a Catalan secession are multitude and are of course noble or nefarious depending on which side you talk to. From my research, it would seem the primary drive for Catalonia is economic. Spain is one of the more indebted member states in the European Union with a national debt near 100% of GDP. The “great recession” starting in 2008 struck Spain particularly hard, with around 21% of the general population officially in poverty and over 40% of all children officially in poverty. Unemployment according to government statistics hovers near 18%.
Catalonia is the most prosperous region in Spain’s economy, accounting for nearly 20% of total GDP. Catalans also assert that taxation in their region is a primary pillar for the Spanish government, which has not returned the favor with sufficient investment in infrastructure in the region. In essence, there is a “taxation without representation” feel to the conflict, and Americans in particular know very well how that kind of situation can end.
On the other side of the debate, it is clear that if Catalonia leaves the Spanish system on negative terms, then Spain’s already crumbling economy will be destroyed. The motivation for Spain to keep control of Catalonia is high just on the grounds of economic disaster.
Beyond the economic issue, another interesting side note on Spain is its intense social justice (cultural Marxism) programs. While Europeans often suggest Spain as being a “conservative” government, in policy and action this is simply not true. Spain is notorious for being one of the most militantly feminist governments in the EU aside from Sweden, and this is saying something given the socialist nature of the EU. Gender laws and divorce laws in the country offer some of the most draconian double standards against men I have ever witnessed. Perhaps this will give you a kind of litmus test for the sort of culture we are dealing with here, and maybe it accounts for some discontent in certain portions of the Spanish population.
Catalonia itself is often cited as being “more liberal” in its political orientation in comparison to the rest of Spain. Of course, the term “liberal” can mean many different things in Europe depending on the nation, and American definitions do not necessarily apply. Just as Europeans tend to have no understanding whatsoever of what “conservatism” means in the U.S., Americans have a hard time understanding all the intricacies of the various levels of “liberalism” in Europe.
That said, what side of the political spectrum Catalonia sits on is irrelevant to greater discussion.
What I actually enjoy pointing out here is the fact that whether you look at the Franco era of nationalist totalitarianism, or the “semi” socialist and hyper-cultural Marxist era of today, the Spanish government STILL acts the same in its despotism against Catalan separation or independence. It is not as if the socialists set out to right the wrongs of the Franco regime once it fell. Not at all. Instead, they merely perpetuated the same attitude of centralization while wearing a smiling face. Once again, we see that there is very little difference between fascism and communism/socialism when we get down to core behaviors and policies.
Collectivists, regardless of what other labels they use to identify themselves, have certain rules that they consistently follow in order to maintain power. One of those rules is that the collective is indivisible. They might pontificate endlessly about their superior democratic ideals, but when some people vote to leave en masse, either in polling booths or with their feet, the mask of benevolence always comes off and the true monster behind collectivism is revealed.
As we have seen in Catalonia, this monstrous behavior is undeniable. The Spanish government has set out to prevent not just separation, it has sought to prevent the very act of voting on separation using police and military force. In essence, martial law was been declared in Catalonia in order to stop the people from enacting the very democratic ideals the Spanish government claims it enshrines.
Despite the vicious measures of interference, reports suggest that the vote was still successful, with 90% of the citizenry in support of independence. What happens now is unclear, but I can tell you two things are relatively certain.
First, a 90% vote in favor will result in a militarized response from the Spanish government. If the vote was less overwhelming, the government might attempt to pit one side of the population against the other, causing internal strife and disrupting secession. This strategy is unrealistic given the mass movement for independence. So, the only other option for the government is full blown martial law.
Second, such a crackdown will result in a violent counter-response. This happened in the 1970s in Catalonia and I see no reason why it would not happen again. When you have almost an entire population in agreement on separation and you use force to stop them from attaining it, they will become violent. Civil war is inevitable if martial law is declared.
It is vital that we examine the root ideological catalyst in this scenario.
The most rational solution would be for the Spanish government to accept the Catalan vote (if they believe in “democracy” as they claim, then they have to accept it, otherwise they appear extraordinarily hypocritical). This could result in a more harmonious economic relationship and less drastic damage to Spain’s fiscal structure. However, this is not going to happen. Instead, Spain is going to use the age old collectivist tactics of intimidation and carnage to oppress the Catalan’s and subsume their economic production (as socialist governments always do). When civil war erupts, and it will, production in Catalonia will grind to a standstill and Spain STILL loses 20% of its GDP.
You see, this is a lose/lose scenario for Spain, all because the collectivist doctrine demands a jackbooted reaction to any movement for decentralization. Collectivist systems are parasitic in nature; they see the citizenry as food, as units of production for the state that cannot be allowed to leave, for the “greater good of the greater number.” Collectivists rationalize their behavior as essential to the well being of the society at large, but this is dishonest, for their behavior more often harms society by crushing individual innovation and instigating wars that might not have ever happened in the first place.
There is at the same time the matter of sovereignty movements across Europe. The only people who benefit from stopping these movements are globalists/collectivists. They may also benefit by sabotaging these movements after the fact, making an example of them and holding them up to the rest of the world as symbols of the “failures of populism.”
It is important to point out here that Catalonia is not necessarily seeking independence from the EU, only Spain. Some might argue that this makes the Catalan vote irrelevant. I disagree. If Catalonia wants to be separate from Spain but still retain ties to the EU, then I suppose that is their choice, which is really the issue here – choice. Everyone should be allowed to make good and bad decisions and hopefully learn from them both. If Catalan’s choice is meaningless because they will still be part of the EU, then the Spanish government should pull its national guard out and leave them to their own devices.
Some people might also argue that if secession happened in the U.S., the response would be the same. I would argue that just because it might happen the same way, this does not mean it is right. If leftist Californians, for example, followed through with their latest threats to secede from the U.S. and a massive shift of leftists and cultural Marxists move to the state, frankly I would be ecstatic. Let these people separate and congregate. Let them fail or succeed on the merits of their own ideas and ethics. If they are allowed to organize without interference and they fail, then this is simply more proof that their ideology was unsound and impractical. California’s large percentage of U.S. GDP would simply transfer to other states if in fact the productive people there are not leftists and they migrate away, leaving the separatists to wallow in their naive ideology.
If Catalonia separates without interference and succeeds economically and socially, then perhaps it is not for Spain to try to subvert or destroy the region, but to emulate their model and learn from them. If people wish to walk away from a community, they should be allowed to do so. This is very simple. Self determination is not dependent on political expediency or mutual benefit. It is an inherent human right. Communities and borders should be based on principles that the population stands by and every system should remain voluntary. If they do not stand by said principles and they work to thwart voluntarism, then those communities are worthless and should not exist at all.
When a collective acts to stop people from leaving, all they are doing is exposing the fact that their reasons for existing are inadequate and unconvincing. This goes for Spain, it goes for the EU and it goes for the rest of the world. Globalists and collectivists should take note decentralization is the true model for the future.
In the long run, forcing people into participation in the system is a losing battle.