More Thoughts from Coma-ruga: Brexit, Catalan independence and the Idea of Sovereignty
From a Brexit point of view, if we stop and think about what’s happened in the last year perhaps we haven’t got so many reasons to be optimistic as I suggested yesterday.
I think most of you know I’ve been a supporter of Catalan independence for some time quite simply for historical reasons. Both Catalonia and Castile came into existence as a result of two separate Christian campaigns against the Muslim invaders during the Reconquest. Castile developed as a result of the Christian victory at the Battle of Covadonga in Asturias in north-western Spain in 722 and over the next 500 years came to dominate north-western, central and then southern Spain.
Modern Catalonia began life as a buffer zone between Christian Frankish and Muslim territory and Muslims lands following Charles Martel’s victory at the Battle of Tours in 732 and then following a dynastic marriage formed a confederation with the Kingdom of Aragon called the Crown of Aragon, which despite the name had its capital in Barcelona and was dominated by Catalonia until 1410. This confederation conquered Valencia and the Balearic Islands and was responsible for pushing the Muslims out of the Western Mediterranean. It eventually came to control Corsica, Sardinia, Sicily, the southern half of Italy and large parts of Greece.
Following the death of Fernando of Aragon in 1516, the Crown of Castile came to dominate the partnership with the Crown of Aragon that had been created by the marriage of Fernando and Isabel of Castile in 1469. Catalonia attempted to break out of the union in 1640 and then again in 1714 when it was effectively annexed by Castile and modern Spain began to take shape.
Anyway the standard line regarding independence is that as Europe becomes more solidified as a political concept there would be less need for the traditional nation states. It’s basically the argument of the Europe of the regions. Why should Barcelona have to go through Madrid when most of the important policy decisions would be taken in Brussels, especially given that Catalonia had more in common both culturally and economically with parts of the South of France than it did with parts of Spain such as Andalucia or Galicia, for example.
I never really questioned this line. Given that Spain is a net receiver of European investment, the country has always been very pro-EU since it joined in 1986 and the idea of a eurosceptic party like Ukip in Spain would be a complete anathema. Similarly, the Europe of the Regions argument outlined above always made Catalonia very europhile.
To be perfectly honest, until the Brexit campaign began, I had never really questioned whether Europe was a good idea or not and completely believed the hype that Ukip were an extreme right right racist party. The fact of the matter is that from a personal point of view, the existence of the EU and the UK’s membership of it allows me to live here very comfortably so from a personal point of view I have nothing to gain from Brexit.
However, I hope you realise that I’m quite a moral person and tend to be guided by principles rather than self-interest and when the Brexit campaign began, I was completely taken aback by the fearmongering reporting in the Catalan press. As the Catalan independence process had kicked off in 2012, the approach of the Spanish press had been to claim that an independent Catalonia would become a pariah and wouldn’t just be refused membership of the EU but would be ostracised by the international economic community as well.
The same Catalan newspapers and media outlets who had been appalled by Catalonia’s treatment in the Spanish press were now dishing out exactly the same arguments against the UK leaving the EU. What was even more surprising was that none of my liberal pro-independence friends seemed to see the contradiction.
Furthermore, nobody seemed to recognise the moral argument based on sovereignty and preferred to demonise the UK for having the arrogance to even suggest that it could survive outside the EU. Surely, Brexit was analagous to the claims that the Catalans made regarding their right to sovereignty with regard to Spain.
I also starting looking into claims of EU corruption and how EU rules and regulations restricted the UK’s economic prosperity and sure enough these were both charges that the Catalans levelled against the inefficient, overly-centralised and excessively bureaucratic Spanish government.
However, until the Brexit result came in I was still pretty much on the fence. I thought a pro-Brexit vote was unlikely and as this meant that my rights in Spain wouldn’t be affected, I decided that the best outcome would be a close result that showed how unhappy the British were with the EU through a strong protest vote. I remember saying as much to my wife before going to bed on the night of June 23rd 2016 so you can imagine how surprised I was when the results came in the the following morning.
Events since then have just hardened my opinion that the EU is a corrupt undemocratic monolith and I’m very concerned that the UK is going to find it extremely difficult to leave. Or certainly to leave under the conditions that the British public voted for.
Also with the proposed referendum on Catalan independence due on October 1st and prior to that the big Catalan National Day demonstration on September 11th. I want to repeat that I believe that Catalonia is a separate country and that throughout history it has received much worse treatment from Spain than, for example, Scotland has from the UK.
However, I’ve got real doubts about the sincerity of the globalist pro-EU pro-refugee Catalan political leaders, who seem willing to give up Catalan national identity in return for political power. In fact, today in the Catalan parliament there’s a vote on the Catalan law that will allow the referendum to take place, which if passed will almost certainly be blocked by the Spanish Constitutional Court.
Obviously, I’m going to keep you informed about what’s happening here but the situation is complicated. The independence bid is unlikely to be successful unless Catalonia is prepared to sell out to the EU and buy into the globalist Europe of the Regions plan that will lead up to the destruction of the nation states so once again I find myself on the fence.
Perhaps the best outcome would be for Catalonia to gain independence in October and then for Britain to successfully achieve a Hard Brexit, which would lead to the eventual break up of the EU. However, the election results in Holland and France and the likely result in Germany certainly makes me less optimistic than I was a year ago.