Separatist sentences to ponder

by on October 4, 2017 at 1:57 am in Current Affairs, Political Science | Permalink

The European Commission backed Madrid in describing the vote as illegal and said an independent Catalonia would not be part of the union. President Trump also rejected the independence movement; the Catalan nationalists’ only backers are separatist-ruled Scotland, the pariah government of Venezuela and Russia’s intelligence and propaganda apparatus, which mobilized its media outlets and social media bots in support of the separatists. Moscow evidently perceives the Catalan movement as another vehicle for dividing and weakening the democratic West.

That is from the Washington Post editorial board.  Hat tip goes to AC.

1 JVM October 4, 2017 at 2:42 am

What equilibrium do we end up with if Russian propaganda on social media is this effective at wreaking havoc? Do we end up with a propaganda arms race?

2 prior_test3 October 4, 2017 at 5:37 am

Facebook would undoubtedly be on board with being paid the sort of money that such stalwart defenders of freedom as Lockheed Martin are accustomed to billing the U.S. government.

3 Josh October 4, 2017 at 5:56 am

I’m afraid there is simply no stopping the czar’s army of mind-control robots. They say they were programmed by Rasputin himself. Man, can you imagine if we ever have a propaganda arms race with them. Some of the things you read in the newspaper might end up intentionally misleading!

4 prior_test3 October 4, 2017 at 6:32 am

‘I’m afraid there is simply no stopping the czar’s army of mind-control robots.’

Which don’t exist, so no need to worry about it. However, Facebook is more than happy to allow anyone to purchase the services of Custom Audiences. The Russians just seem to be the first to recognize that capitalists actually enjoy selling whatever sort of rope it is those working for a former KGB officer might be interested in purchasing, when furthering his goals to make Russia great again.

5 prior_test3 October 4, 2017 at 6:59 am

Yep, while breaking American law. But who cares about that, right? After all, Russians these days are cuddly bears, and would never think of returning to their old bad imperial ways? As a matter of fact, Russia’s current ruler and former KGB officer continue to promise exactly that.

6 Josh October 4, 2017 at 8:50 am

I hope there is a law that says only nice CIA guys can tell me what to think.

7 mavery October 4, 2017 at 9:39 am

The above exchange implies that you believe that Old Spice is a propaganda arm of the CIA.

I don’t think that what you intended, but I kinda hope it is.

8 A Truth Seeker October 4, 2017 at 9:47 am

No, it is nit, it is a privatw company!

9 A Truth Seeker October 4, 2017 at 9:47 am

No, it is nit, it is a private company!

10 Josh October 4, 2017 at 10:10 am

Can you spell that out in syllogistic form or something, because I’m not seeing it.

To make my point without the glibness, the kremlin is just one more organization among many trying to influence American political opinion. There is no reason to think russian government propaganda is particularly sophisticated or effective nor that the interests of most Americans line up any better with We stern imperialist propagandists than Russian imperialist propagandists.

11 Al October 4, 2017 at 11:10 am

Josh you underestimate the power and sophistication of the Kremlin’s machinery. It was able to convince the American public to choose a complete incompetent racist misogynist vs a shining example of all that is good and noble in humanity. Take a look at the reactions of our betters, the media, at this travesty ( https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2oZpTzTL9cU ). How could such an injustice happen? I think we all understand that it could only be through the actions of an external power with technologies far beyond our grasp.

12 JWatts October 4, 2017 at 1:47 pm

“I think we all understand that it could only be through the actions of an external power with technologies far beyond our grasp.”

I knew Aliens must have been behind it!

13 inertial October 4, 2017 at 10:53 am

Finally, video evidence of Russian interference in Catalonia protests.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DbPuBAk_lQE&feature=youtu.be

14 So Much For Subtlety October 4, 2017 at 2:59 am

the Catalan nationalists’ only backers are separatist-ruled Scotland, the pariah government of Venezuela and Russia’s intelligence and propaganda apparatus

And some 40% of Catalan voters.

I love that the Left is having fits about Russian “intervention” in elections. They did not complain when the Soviets funded the anti-Vietnam War protests. They do not complain when Russia funds anti-fracking groups. They regularly endorse Soviet disinformation campaigns like the one that the CIA invents AIDS or Reagan was involved in smuggling cocaine with the Contras. No one has a problem when the West invests in the Color Revolutions in the former Soviet Union.

It is time to grow up. A few thousand Facebook ads in favor of Black Lives Matters is unlikely to sway an election.

15 Moo cow October 4, 2017 at 10:48 am

You only need to sway 70,000 people in 3 states.

Did the USSR fund the Vietnam protests? I suppose I should find out. That will be my research assignment for today. Also I had never heard Reagan was a coke smuggler. I thought that was Clinton, after he killed all those people at some airport somewhere.

16 msgkings October 4, 2017 at 12:28 pm

Yes, and now it is funding support for Trump and separatist movements, also for its own gain.

17 The Anti-Gnostic October 4, 2017 at 1:58 pm

Calm down.

18 msgkings October 4, 2017 at 2:13 pm

Uh, wut? Stop crying and missing the point.

19 The Centrist October 4, 2017 at 3:31 am

The Separatists…

A) From about 2000 til 2015: “Catalonia is a marvel, peaceable, wealthy, successful, the envy of the world, you should really visit, especially Barcelona.”

B) From about 2015 onwards: “I don’t how we manage to survive under the Castilian jackboot.”

What changed? Heck, Spain even managed to banish her football (soccer) demons and win multiple honours (World Cup and 2 Euro Championships), with Barcelona players in key roles. Something happened, but what?

20 prior_test3 October 4, 2017 at 5:35 am

Almost as if nobody has heard of the latest breakthroughs in optimized Russian influence peddling using the Internet.

21 Josh October 4, 2017 at 5:58 am

Why is only Russian influence peddling optimized? Are the CIA and the ford foundation still using dial up?

22 Rupert October 4, 2017 at 7:25 am

Good question! Three things happened. First of all, the financial crisis that began in 2007/8 hit Spain particularly hard, particularly with widespread unemployment. A few populist movements emerged with quasi-magical solutions, including the separatists. Secondly, a new Catalan regional statute was approved by referendum in 2006. The PP (the conservative party that rules Spain with few votes from Catalonia) appealed it. In 2010, the Constitutional Court said that some of the clauses were unconstitutional, leading to massive demos.

Thirdly, politicians across the political spectrum and across the country as a whole had their hand in the till during the boom years. In 2005, a Socialist leader publicly accused the centre-right nationalists in Catalonia of taking illegal commissions of 3%. Since then, there has been a drip-drip-drip of scandals, which eventually led to the fall of Jordi Pujol (the main nationalist leader for years). The nationalists thought that the anger that emerged in 2010 was a good way of changing the subject and encouraged the movement.

How did things get so bad? First of all, the 2015 regional elections were meant to be a de-facto referendum. The unionists won 52% vs 48%. However, the electoral law gives more weight to votes in the countryside, which is the heartland of Catalan nationalism, over votes in Barcelona. The separatists were able to form a fragile alliance with some nutty anarchists, who encouraged them to design a separation process that would lead to a conflict with the Spanish state. While this was happening, the Spanish central government just sat on its hands. There were no negotiations or attempts to nip this in the bud.

If you want to go a little deeper, the nationalists have controlled the education system for decades. Textbooks rarely mention the Spanish state, the transition to democracy or the Constitution. Catalonia itself is often referred to as a “country” or a “nation” rather than an autonomous community within Spain. Many of my separatist friends (I live here) genuinely believe simplistic slogans like “democracy = voting” and don’t see anything wrong with Carles Puigdemont announcing that he is above the law and will no longer obey judges.

23 charlie October 4, 2017 at 9:27 am

I always wondered if the Catalan Community — with the inherent contradictions — could only be sustained by someone like Pujol. Or more precisely , Pujol himself.

If you were going to re-do the autonomy, trading taxes for education reform (i.e. break the Catalan monopoly on education) would seem a fair bargain.

Or move to a more basque like solution where the provinces have more power.

24 Art Deco October 4, 2017 at 9:36 am

However, the electoral law gives more weight to votes in the countryside, which is the heartland of Catalan nationalism, over votes in Barcelona.

I don’t think there’s much of a distinction in sentiment between greater Barcelona and the rest of Catalonia (or there wasn’t when I last checked some numbers). The distinction is between Catalonia on the one hand and the Balaerics and Valencia on the other.

25 charlie October 4, 2017 at 10:49 am

This is from the 2015 vote:

http://www.geocurrents.info/geopolitics/autonomous-zones/the-ruralurban-divide-in-catalonias-2015-election

That is a pretty big divide.

Haven’t seen a geographical breakdown for this “reeferrendum”; given that it was illegal, being boycotted, polling places stopped, and multiple instances of voter fraud — but I’d expect a very similar pattern.

26 Rupert October 4, 2017 at 11:27 am

@Art Deco. The difference is enormous. Wikipedia shows this map for support for JxS (the main separatist alliance): https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Catalan_regional_election,_2015#/media/File:CataloniaProvinceMapParliament2015.png Darker colours represent higher votes. Barcelona is in the middle and Tarragona is to the south.

Here are a couple of good links in English. The Guardian profiles old-school Spanish speaking leftists in el Baix Llobregat, which is where 11% of the population live (double the population of the whole of Lleida province): https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/sep/30/red-belt-catalonia-labour-movement-referendum

And Politico has a great profile of a Spanish-speaking propagandist for the separatists: http://www.politico.eu/article/catalonia-referendum-independence-gabriel-rufian-agitator-in-chief/

Key graph from the Politico one: “Support for independence is at 71 percent among those who speak Catalan most often. In contrast, it falls to 17 percent among those who primarily speak Spanish.”

These are better numbers for the language breakdown than the ones used by Politico: http://llengua.gencat.cat/web/.content/documents/publicacions/altres/arxius/eulp2013_fullet.pdf See page 6, the graph for “llengua habitual” or the language that is normally spoken. Spanish is 50.7%, Catalan is 36.3% and totally bilingual is 6.8%.

27 jim jones October 4, 2017 at 12:42 pm

Brexit happened

28 Hoosier October 4, 2017 at 10:52 am

Catalonia still doesn’t have full local control over infrastructure spending, for one example of what gets people upset. El Prat airport gets less funding for renovations than Barajas in Madrid. There are many other examples.

29 The Anti-Gnostic October 4, 2017 at 2:00 pm

Catalans are going to war over THAT? Good luck.

30 Art Deco October 4, 2017 at 3:14 pm

You had a Scottish nationalist on this board say that he and his were ‘tired of being ruled by southern English public schoolboys’. The only such specimen who has served as Prime Minister of Britain at any time since 1964 was walking around with the name David Cameron. Other than Cameron and perhaps Michael Foot, no one who has led the Conservative Party or the Labour Party in the last 50-odd years could be called a ‘southern English public schoolboy’ or a public schoolboy from any other part of the country. About 40% of David Cameron’s cabinet might have been described as ‘southern English public school boys’, so there’s some disproportion there. The thing is, about 45% of Britain’s population lives in southern England and a majority of Conservative MPs are from southern constituencies, so that’s not all that unexpected. I suppose you could call the royal family a collecting pool of southern English public schoolboys, except that Prince Philip, all three of his sons, and several of his grandchildren went to school in Scotland.

It’s quite odd. The most successful secessionist movements in the occidental world as we speak mobilize populations which are the least dissimilar to the majority in their respective countries and hail from subregions which are moderately affluent within those countries.

31 Bob October 4, 2017 at 11:01 pm

When the financial crisis hit, Spaniards blamed the then Prime Minister, Zapatero, as most of the west wasn’t going through the same problems.

We saw Trump win the presidential election, Brexit, and dark changes in government in Poland and Turkey. Why did so much of the world quickly turned populist and nationalist? It’s hard to separate justifications, that are different in each of those, and reasons, which in my mind, are far closer to each other: Groups of people that don’t believe that they are doing all that much better than their parents, and have enough of an utopian streak to build a movement. They are all groups that, despite all their complaints about how democracies weren’t working for them, are favored with more representation than their raw numbers indicate.

Growth would fix all ills, but changes in democratic institutions that make their countries make fewer poor choices would be nice. It’s an unfortunate problem of democracies today: They are reluctant to change, but politics leads to more pandering of those that were economically important in the past than to upstarts: Big established, maybe even declining players vs growing startups. Formerly important demographics, vs those of tomorrow. But across western countries, we just refuse to accept this fight between the old and the new.

32 dan1111 October 4, 2017 at 3:54 am

Leaders of nations opposing this movement is about as surprising as Iowa farmers supporting corn subsidies–and carries roughly the same moral weight in my view.

Whether regions like Catalonia should have self-determination is a tough question, and my mind is not at all made up. But of course those invested in the status quo will oppose it.

33 Borjigid October 4, 2017 at 9:10 am

The EC’s statement is significant not because they have the moral authority to change anybody’s mind, but because they have the concrete, political authority to decide if and how an independent Catalonia would accede to the EU.

34 Jeff R October 4, 2017 at 10:33 am

One of the benefits of independence for Catalonia would be getting the F out of the EU, so I dunno what the EC thinks they’re accomplishing.

35 Borjigid October 4, 2017 at 10:40 am

In your opinion. Is there any evidence of significant anti-EU sentiment in Catalonia?

36 Jeff R October 4, 2017 at 11:42 am

Probably not, but there should be.

37 dan1111 October 5, 2017 at 4:45 am

I doubt the EC statement should be interpreted as anything other than “we really don’t want Catalonian independence” at this stage.

Also, it doesn’t appear, from the article, that the EC is implying that Catalonia would be barred from joining the EU–only that they wouldn’t gain membership by default. This is the same position that was articulated to Scotland.

38 Tom T. October 4, 2017 at 9:36 am

And disparaging the democratically-expressed aspirations of a people toward self-determination as simply the unthinking product of low-level foreign propaganda is unsurprising as well (but surely counter-productive).

39 BC October 4, 2017 at 4:09 am

“Moscow evidently perceives the Catalan movement as another vehicle for dividing and weakening the democratic West.”

I wonder how Moscow’s perceptions would change if Western leaders declared that, however the Catalonian situation was resolved, both Catalonia and Spain would be welcome in the EU, NATO, and all other Western institutions? It’s funny how the periodic referenda on Puerto Rican independence are never seen as a threat to the West. It’s almost as if voluntary associations are stronger and more lasting than involuntary ones.

40 Andrew M October 4, 2017 at 5:21 am

Russia’s long-term strategy is to encourage the Baltic states and the Visegrad Four to leave the EU; whereupon they would be invited to join a new Soviet Union.

It’s as if Canada were supporting independence for Puerto Rico, then telling Michigan and Maine that they should consider independence too, with a long-term goal of making them join Canada.

41 prior_test3 October 4, 2017 at 5:32 am

The term ‘invited’ really deserves quotation marks in this case. It isn’t as if people living in those countries don’t remember the previous Kremlin ‘invitations’ they received.

42 Art Deco October 4, 2017 at 9:39 am

whereupon they would be invited to join a new Soviet Union.

I doubt that’s an object of anyone but some particularly knuckleheaded Russian nationalists (the sort who say things like ‘Ukraine isn’t a nation’), or that the Baltics and the Visegrad group with be ‘joining’ Russia by any avenue other than military conquest.

43 mavery October 4, 2017 at 9:48 am

Didn’t Russia de facto annex Crimea just a few years ago? Didn’t they foment and support a civil war in Ukraine because the government was leaning a bit too much in the pro-EU direction?

I’m not sure about formalizing it as novo-USSR, but why wouldn’t Russia want to strip off Balkan states from the EU? This seems directly in line with Putin’s past actions.

44 Art Deco October 4, 2017 at 9:59 am

Their annexation of the Crimea was de jure, not de facto. Most of the Crimea’s population is Great Russian. Putin wasn’t too confident that the local Russians would back the annexation with sufficient unanimity, so he rigged the plebiscite (non Russians making up about 40% of the population of the Crimea).

There are a few border counties in Kazakhstan, one border city in Estonia, and a scatter of border municipalities in the Ukraine wherein self-identified Russians have a majority. Not much fodder for irridentist claimes.

As for their harrassment of the Ukraine, it’s been limited to a portion of two border provinces where about 15% of Ukraine’s population lives. There is no ‘civil war’, just a circumscribed insurrection. These provinces have large great Russian minorities. One effect of Russia’s subversion has been to demolish the base of support for Russophile parties in the Ukraine. As recently as 2010, they one a plurality in the legislature and the presidency. Now they poll about 10% of the vote.

45 Jeff R October 4, 2017 at 10:34 am

If so, that seems like not just playing a long game, but playing a loooooooooooooong game.

46 JonFraz October 4, 2017 at 1:20 pm

Russia should be especially wary of throwing those stones when it has plenty of glass windows of its own. Dissatisfied ethic oblasts abound in the nation.

47 Alex FG October 4, 2017 at 9:49 am

It’s not about the catalonians, it’s about almost any other EU state that would be seriously affected with regards to their political stability, as most of them have parts where separatism has taken root.

NL has Frisians,
Belgium has Flandern and Wallonians
UK has Scots and Wales
Denmark has Germans
Germany has Danes and Sorbians
Sweden, Norway has Samen
Poland has Silesia-Germans
Czech-Republic would see Sudeten German claims
Italy has Tyrol
France has Alsace-Germans, Occitaine and the Basques
Spain has Catalonians and Basques (and…)
Hungarians living in Romania want to join Hungary
All Baltic States have a Russian minority
etc…

So the ROI for Russia (or whomever wants to Balkanize Europe) is pretty good, for paying some trolls and Facebook-Ad-$.

48 Art Deco October 4, 2017 at 10:03 am

Belgium would benefit from a velvet divorce between Flanders and the rest of the country. Ditto Quebec and Anglophone Canada.

I don’t think the descendants of the Sudeten Germans are in danger of acquiring any influence in Germany. The Hungarian enclave in Transylvania has a population of about 500,000 and is nowhere near the border.

49 Fazal Majid October 4, 2017 at 2:42 pm

Flanders would secede from belgium, were it not for the fact it wants Brussels, which is francophone, but really thinks of itself as Europe’s capital and wants nothing to do with the parochial concerns of the Flemings and Walloons.

Flanders’ approach has been to surround the city with a ring of Flemish towns, eerily reminiscent of Sarajevo. When combined with the violent rhetoric of Flemish independentist parties, a divorce would not be velvet.

50 Art Deco October 4, 2017 at 2:57 pm

When combined with the violent rhetoric of Flemish independentist parties, a divorce would not be velvet.

You’re triggered?

51 Alex FG October 4, 2017 at 5:19 pm

@Art:

1) I’m not disputing the usefulness per se. My point is, that those states will in general not give themselves up, just because a split/loss of property makes cultural or economical sense. So: huge potential for war (relatively, as we’re talking about saturated Europe).

2) Sudeten Germans don’t need influence in Germany (sorry, the formatting got lost on submit) – they might claim their lost Czech properties though (If the European status quo becomes ignoring past treaties and each other sovereignty).

3) It doesn’t matter if the Hungarian population of Romania forms a geographical Island. What matters is a) the past borders that connected that Island with the “Homeland” (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hungarian_irredentism#/media/File:Szekely_Land_issues.svg) and b) if there are separatists which base their claims on that old borders.

52 JSK October 4, 2017 at 1:35 pm

Alex:
“NL has Frisians,”

Frisians are less than 5% of the population of which less than 10% support the frysian independence party. No impact what so ever concerning “political stability”. Don’t act like the stereotypical ignorant American.

53 Alex FG October 4, 2017 at 5:37 pm

@JSK: Well 5% of 100% Netherlands isn’t of concern here. Its the 55% of the frisian province who claim Frisian their mother tongue (another 16% speaks Frisian).

Political stability would of course be an issue, once separation gets “street-cred”. Bear in mind that the catalonian separatists are part of the European Freedom Alliance, a party bloc within the European Parliament, which the Dutch Frisians are also a part of (and the SNP, French Catalonians, the Swedes in Finland…)

Also: are you triggered? I’m neither ignorant, nor American.

54 Roy LC October 4, 2017 at 10:18 pm

Sami separatists, you’ve got to be kidding, that is even funnier than the Sorbs and Wends, heck the Jamts are more likely. You go with Occitanians but you forget the Bretons, and Alsatian Germans, the only thing funnier is Silesia.

You might want to pick up a newer edition of Inside Europe, I know how great the 1939 revision was, but John Gunther published an updated edition in ’61, you may find it useful.

55 prior_test3 October 4, 2017 at 5:30 am

‘separatist-ruled Scotland’

What an interesting formulation to describe a part of the UK, a part which is actually ruled by the Parliament of the United Kingdom.

56 dan1111 October 4, 2017 at 5:49 am

What an uninteresting comment that is exactly the same as a million previous comments you have made seizes on a technicality, forces an unnecessary specific meaning to some words, and then pretends the author is ignorant on that basis.

57 dan1111 October 4, 2017 at 5:51 am

Just for the record, I’m aware that the actual number of comments you have made is far less than a million, and that actually no comment you have made is literally exactly the same as this one–they are all as unique as snowflakes. I was exaggerating for effect, so don’t even try to tell me that my post is inaccurate and they have more respect for the truth in Germany since they don’t like Trump.

58 Borjigid October 4, 2017 at 9:12 am

+1

59 msgkings October 4, 2017 at 11:35 am

BOOM. prior is just ashes now.

60 The Lunatic October 4, 2017 at 6:15 am

So, you’ve never heard of the term “Home Rule”? Or are you just insisting that a party that exercises Home Rule over a region cannot be said, in any sense or degree available in English, to rule that region?

61 prior_test3 October 4, 2017 at 6:46 am

Yes I have heard of home rule – are you aware of the fact that only way that separatist ruled Scotland can leave the UK is if the Parliament of the United Kingdom allows them another chance to vote on independence?

This is pretty much the same as talking about separatist-ruled Quebec when the Parti Québécois is in power. The party in power does not change the actual status of a political unit – Quebec remains a part of Canada regardless of which party is in power, just as Scotland remains a part of the UK regardless of which party is in power. Parties do not rule, and Scotland is not ruled by separatists, even if a separatist party is currently in power.

‘in any sense or degree available in English, to rule that region’

Pretty much, using Quebec as a further example. When was the last time anyone in the U.S. referred to separatist ruled Quebec, after all? https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Parti_Québécois

Or for that matter, Republican or Democrat ruled America? Parties are not governments in a functioning democratic system.

62 dan1111 October 4, 2017 at 7:26 am

Wall of text that ignores the point. Again.

63 TMC October 4, 2017 at 12:33 pm

If prior weren’t so petty, I’d think he was a bot. A strawman building AI.

OK, maybe just an A.

64 msgkings October 4, 2017 at 12:44 pm

Real AI will know how to be petty. Or rather, maybe it already does?

65 JWatts October 4, 2017 at 1:56 pm

“Wall of text that ignores the point. Again.”

Well that’s his modus operandi. Occasionally he does make an actual on-topic rebuttal, but it’s infrequent enough that I just skip over most of his posts. I suspect that most people don’t read prior_test’s posts.

66 Sam Haysom October 4, 2017 at 6:07 am

And this is why Rajoy will ultimately be vindicated in his strategy. If they back you when you send the police in to shut down voting, they will back you when you send tanks in to shut down an actual secession attempt.

Rajoy is playing the long game he wants to break the seperatist domination of the beauracraxy and police and that requires arrests and a protracted crack down not legislative legerdemain designed to cause the movement to fizzle out only to erupt again five years down the line. Catalonian seperatism is pure astro turf take out the separatist bureacracy and the transparent silliness of the whole things becomes apparent.

67 A Truth Seeker October 4, 2017 at 8:43 am

Gorbachev tried the crushing the separatists strategy in the Baltic states. Maybe you should ask your father how well it turned out for him. He surely earned his 50 dollars pension.

68 Art Deco October 4, 2017 at 9:40 am

Gorbachev tried the crushing the separatists strategy in the Baltic states.

Not outside your imagination.

69 A Truth Seeker October 4, 2017 at 9:45 am

http://news.bbc.co.uk/onthisday/hi/dates/stories/january/13/newsid_4059000/4059959.stm

Military conquest failed in Lithuania and will fail in Catalonia. Madrid’s pharaohs have no alternative to letting the Catalan people go. Respect make the empires fall!

70 JWatts October 4, 2017 at 2:01 pm

Thiago is correct.

Once again his knowledge of Soviet Russian exceeds his knowledge of Brazil. “A Truth Seeker” who reads Pravda. It does make one wonder if he’s 100% authentic?

71 A Truth Seeker October 4, 2017 at 3:16 pm

I don’t read Pravda, although Pravda means Truth and Imseek the truth. I was a boy when the Soviet regime collapsed and I read the Brazilian press coverage of the fall of the Soviet regime. I also read Brazilian writer/journalist Árbex’s book about the issue and I also read La Chute Finale and the End of the Empire about it.

72 Art Deco October 4, 2017 at 9:43 am

Catalonian seperatism is pure astro turf take out the separatist bureacracy and the transparent silliness of the whole things becomes apparent.

I don’t think Catalan nationalists have a particularly compelling argument but it’s rather de trop to suggest the separatist party only have an electoral constituency because they’ve been Jedi mind-tricked by the apparat.

73 Non-separatist Catalan October 5, 2017 at 1:43 am

Yes, this is exactly right. But Rajoy isn’t exactly cracking down. He should have detained the separatist leaders already. He’s apparently waiting for them to declare independence and then send troops. It might be too late.

74 Broseph Walsh October 4, 2017 at 7:09 am

And on the pedestal these words appear:
‘My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:
Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!’
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away.

Just a part of the long slow decline of the Castilian polity. From it’s roots in the Reconquista to the modern day. With the hight of it’s splendour some 300 years ago now. Its history spans some thousand long years as a relatively cohesive state. Which by my reckoning is just about as long as a state will last. Since the long ago height of its power the whole thing began a long slow decline, occasionally punctuated by temporarily successful attempts to reverse the trend. Catalonia itself would have left Spain almost a hundred years ago if not for the success of the reactionary forces of Franco.

As far as the current separatist movement being a Russian invention. Well no doubt they support it because it adds legitimacy to those Russian separatists in Ukraine. As well as trying to sow discord amongst the enemy. However for as for the root of the current fervour of the movement, as well as that of other western European separatist movements, look no further than the European Union. Whose rise in economic and political, prominence, and prestige has corresponded with and aided a dissolution of the nationalism that bound together the fragmenting states of Europe. The ‘nationalistic’ character of these secession movements is only superficial in truth. They don’t wish to take the economic, military, and political future into their own hands. No they want to stay in the EU. In fact independence without EU membership is narrowly (to be fair) a non-starter as we learnt from the successful British campaign to keep the Scottish down and in. This to me is all eminently understandable, after all how is a tiny nation to survive in this modern world of Superpower behemoth nations. If they don’t join the EU they’d quickly find that their interests will be dictated by a power that is perhaps much less benign (better the devil you know after all). A role Spain would have played for the Catalonians not to long ago. However now Spain itself relies on the EU in this way. So in the end the Catalonians decided to cut out the middle man.

Despite its appearances, if played right the separatist movements are probably a very promising sign for those of you who are pro-EU. Paradoxically the fragmentation of its member states will have a centralising effect on the power of the EU as a whole. The weakening individual states will have no choice but to place more and more power in the EU as the nations which they once comprised are less and less able to provide the necessary functions for a cohesive state to exist. This could result in a positive feed back loop. Of course the leaders of the large nations of the EU by no means want this to happen as it will mean the loss of where their political power derives. So it is not a sure thing one way or the other.

As an aside Brexit can be understood as a properly national movement by a people (the english) who believed they saw the wind blowing to centralisation and got out of dodge before for the first time in almost 600 years they weren’t the master of their island. It also helps to explain why the other members of the Union were decidedly more pro-EU as well as their rising ‘nationalism’ despite them co-existing with the British pretty well for hundreds of years.

75 Joël October 4, 2017 at 12:54 pm

Very interesting comment, miles above most of the other, and sadly, Tyler’s original post. The only thing if that I would place Spain’s height not 300 years ago (by that time, modern Spain became unified, but stopped being the major player in Europe’s history, and its economy was in deep relative decline), but 450 years ago, say at the battle of Lepanto in 1571 against Turks, a Spanish victory of historical significance. Soon after that, financial problems, defeat if the Spanish armada against England, revolts in Netherland and in Aragon/Catalonia was the beginning of the decline.

What you say about separatism reinforcing EU by weakening individual countries is very true. The only problem is that it will affect some countries more than others, changing the balance of influence between EU countries. Specifically, I believe Germany is less prone to have a successful separatist movement. On the contrary, German-speaking separatist movements in neighbor countries willing to join Germany are more plausible (Alsace from France, part of Luxemboug and Belgium, part of Poland, etc.)

76 Hoosier October 4, 2017 at 7:16 am

“The right course is that which virtually every responsible authority outside Spain is calling for: negotiations between Barcelona and Madrid. Mr. Rajoy could offer the Catalan region more autonomy”

The WaPo is clueless if they think this is remotely possible. The entire reason this has happened is that Rajoy won’t negotiate. As Sam mentions above, Rajoy is a hard core Spanish nationalist who only cares about Catalonia as a cash cow to fund the rest of Spain. He’s using this to try and permanently establish central control over the region.

77 Ramon Lull October 4, 2017 at 9:34 am

With all respect this is none sense. It is difficult to offer more autonomy because that would mean a de facto independence. Catalonia has its own TV, police. Education, health, and many other power levers are managed already by the Catalan government. There’s virtually nothing left to negotiate. Central control over the region has been virtually non existent for decades. You only have to see what’s going on to realize it.
Catalonia pays more than they receive, exactly as it happens to Madrid or Valencia or Baviera. Richer regions have more rich citizens and they (the citizens not the territories) pay more taxes. And by the way taxes in Catalonia are higher because the upper limit has been hightened by the local government.
But let’s go to the crux of the matter here: All Spain belongs to all Spaniards. We have built this country -good or bad- with our taxes or efforts, we all together decide its future.

78 Hoosier October 4, 2017 at 10:57 am

If all power has been devolved, why does Barcelona need to depend on approval from the national government for renovations at El Prat?

79 Hoosier October 4, 2017 at 10:59 am

And why can’t Catalonia have the the same system that’s in place in País Vasco?

80 Ramon Lull October 4, 2017 at 1:01 pm

I assume the reason must be that an airport is a border. But even with that, is this a reason for secession?. About the system in Pais Vasco, I personally believe this is pretty unfair for Catalans and not Catalans, I think it should be changed and not replicated in other regions

81 Art Deco October 4, 2017 at 2:54 pm

No clue why you’d expect the government of civil aviation to be a provincial responsiblity in Spain or anywhere else. It is not in the United States. In the U.S., airports are commonly owned and operated by local governments, but they’re crawling with federal employees and subject to federal standards and practices and industry-wide standards and practices. Not sure why you’d expect Spain to differ in this respect.

82 Art Deco October 4, 2017 at 9:48 am

Rajoy is a hard core Spanish nationalist

I think his family is actually Galician. Spanish institutions have for nearly 40 years followed a policy of asymmetric decenstralisation. I don’t think Rajoy or PP have advocated a return to centralism.

83 Hoosier October 4, 2017 at 11:02 am

Franco was also from Galicia as I know you’re aware. Many of the the most nationalistic sections of the PP are also from Galicia. No surprise Rajoy is from the same area.

84 Art Deco October 4, 2017 at 2:55 pm

Has Rajoy or the PP advocated French-style centralism, yes or no?

85 Mario A October 4, 2017 at 7:30 am

Where are the results from last sunday? Nothing yet.

86 chuck martel October 4, 2017 at 7:47 am

So the Russian oligarchs not only put Donald Trump in the White House by purchasing Facebook ads, they have also effectively designed the fracture of the once powerful Spanish empire. Gee, whiz. The United States has been beaming radio broadcasts to Eastern Europe with Radio Free Europe and Radio Liberty since 1949 and continues to do so. Those organizations are proud of the role they feel that they’ve played in the demise of Soviet-style collectivism.

As a propaganda device radio is just so outdated. Expecting the Russians to ignore the possibilities of the internet and social media to advance their interests is silly.

87 A Truth Seeker October 4, 2017 at 7:56 am

The European powers have shown their true colors. Yet, Brussel’s pharaohs will not succeed in preventing the Catalan people from going, and Madrid’s Cains won’t succeed in murdering Catalonia. Spain’s police brutality will not work, jt will only make the death throes of that evil empire last longer.

88 Bernard Guerrero October 4, 2017 at 8:58 am

From one of the links deeper down: “One article quoted the “special delegate for North Korea for cultural relations with foreign countries” as calling for a communist revolution in Spain to solve the crisis.”

89 oriol October 4, 2017 at 10:16 am

Separatist sentences to ponder, framing bias edition

“That all said, Spain and the eurozone are now outside their immediate and dire fiscal and financial crisis, at least compared to say 2011. So I now think that if a clear majority in Catalonia wants to leave Spain, Spain should let them go. I wrote a few years ago that would be my stance once the most pressing parts of the financial crisis are past, and it seems to me that is now the case. Catalonian separatism, while I still think it is imprudent, is no longer morally irresponsible from a broader European point of view.”

http://marginalrevolution.com/marginalrevolution/2015/09/is-an-independent-catalonia-an-issue-again.html

90 Ramon Lull October 4, 2017 at 10:35 am

I disagree. It’s a matter of principle. All Spaniards have built up Catalonia (and Catalans have made their contribution to build the rest of Spain), it is for all to decide. Independence would not only affect Catalans, it would affect all Spain, so it is for all to decide and this is what’s in the Constitution and the Catalan legislatin (Estatut) massively supported by the voters.
The opposite is a coup d’êtat, exactly what the Catalan authorities are deploying.

91 oriol October 4, 2017 at 10:40 am

No, politicians should optimize social welfare.
If optimal policies for two regions aren’t correlated enough they should be two different countries.
Anything else is irrational attachment to the status quo.

92 Ramon Lull October 4, 2017 at 10:55 am
93 oriol October 4, 2017 at 11:08 am

If you don’t believe in independence, feel free to vote NO.

94 Ramon Lull October 4, 2017 at 11:57 am

During the US civil war Southern states were not allowed to vote. And the US was and is a democracy and Lincoln an example to the world. We are facing the same situation here. We can vote, all Spaniards together, not just a few. Same rights for all citizens, not first and second class people

95 oriol October 4, 2017 at 12:08 pm

Ok, when is the vote going on?

96 A Truth Seeker October 4, 2017 at 12:23 pm

If Madrid’s Torquemadas try to imolate Catalonia’s dream kf feeedom, their blood will flow.

97 Joël October 4, 2017 at 10:51 am

A free western world is a powerful western world. Denying a fundamental right to a people of the Western world, e.g. the right to self-determination, weakens the Western world. Tyler, you’re objectively working for Moscow.

98 edgar October 4, 2017 at 11:43 am

Amazon’s propagandists using scare tactics to advance corporate interests. Yawn. Tyler shilling for authoritarianism. Predictable.

99 The Anti-Gnostic October 4, 2017 at 4:27 pm

I’m having trouble keeping up: Russia is a hyper-efficient superpower convincing grandmothers to join the Cossacks on Facebook and, from thence, take over the world, or Russia is a shambling, alcoholic mess with low birthrates and hopeless levels of public corruption.

And, some questions: How far are you willing to take this process of devolution? Texas? The American South?
Lega Nord? Pre-Westphalian Europe?

Would Catalonia join NATO? How many baristas can they deploy to the Fulda Gap, and can they make that little heart-shape in my expresso? Doesn’t Europe already have enough monarch-era anachronisms we’re pledged to fight to the death for?

100 Thiago Ribeiro October 5, 2017 at 5:39 am

“Russia is a hyper-efficient superpower convincing grandmothers to join the Cossacks on Facebook and, from thence, take over the world, or Russia is a shambling, alcoholic mess with low birthrates and hopeless levels of public corruption.”
Yes. Like the Soviet Union, by the way.

101 Art Deco October 5, 2017 at 8:55 am

I’m having trouble keeping up: Russia is a hyper-efficient superpower convincing grandmothers to join the Cossacks on Facebook and, from thence, take over the world, or Russia is a shambling, alcoholic mess with low birthrates and hopeless levels of public corruption.

Russia in 1998 was a shambling alcoholic mess with low birthrates and hopeless levels of public corruption. It’s been making a satisfactory comeback and now has total fertility rates above the European mean, has managed a great deal of improvement in public order (homicide rates are now 8x the west European norm rather than 18x), and has regained all the relative ground it lost over the period running from 1984 to 1998. Certain horrendous problems in its social economy (e.g. wage arrearages) have evaporated, it’s unemployment rate is satisfactory, and it is not carrying much public or external debt. It’s life expectancy at birth is depressed (about 74 years) but improving. Natural resource rents account for a much smaller share of gdp than they did twenty years ago (17% now v 33% then), though the export sector is still dominated by petroleum.

It is a much less militarized country than was the Soviet Union. Estimates of the share of Soviet productive capacity devoted to military uses ranged from 12% to 33%. In Russia today, military spending amounts to 4% of GDP.

A troubled country, but an improving one, absolutely and relatively.

102 Art Deco October 5, 2017 at 8:56 am

“all the relative ground” in per capita product.

103 Kyet October 4, 2017 at 11:53 am

It’s interesting to see some EU countries and Russia take different positions during the Kosovo independence bid. On principle, there’s no reason for the Comission to discourage people from exercising the right to self-determination.

104 Burin October 4, 2017 at 12:22 pm

How do I know when ‘Russian Propaganda’ is in play? Or when it is a lie?

I’m really torn over this. In one model of the world, there is legitimate action by enemies of the west to create and exacerbate frictions. In another model, there are legitimate frictions that need to be addressed. In a third, there are legitimate frictions that need to be addressed and there is action by the ‘enemy’ to make then more extreme than they otherwise would be.

It strikes me that if, any time anyone in the west voices a friction and demands it be addressed, those opposed to that action can readily fall back to “Well, you are just a mouthpiece, and to even acknowledge your complaint is to give in to the enemy, so we can ignore you” as a first, easy, unprovable line of defense. This is not a recipe for a functioning system of government, but a great one for a functioning system of oppression.

In the extreme, it is another way for ‘national security’ to over-ride all else, a behavior which has led to all sorts of actual evils (propping up murderous dictators, creating Islamic terrorists that today plague us as a response to Russia in the cold war, testing chemical and biological weapons on your own citizens because you need to know what to do if the enemy uses them, and so forth…

105 Millian October 4, 2017 at 1:56 pm

Oh well. As long as the other Spaniards seem fine with paramilitary-style police charges on voters and Make Espana Great Again, the separatists are winning.

106 A Truth Seeker October 4, 2017 at 3:17 pm

They soon will taste rheir own blood.

107 The Anti-Gnostic October 4, 2017 at 5:37 pm

Nonsense. If it comes down to that the Spanish military will promptly arrest the leadership and lock down the place. The Catalonians are prosperous, white bourgeois, not Muslim Kosovars. So the EU doesn’t care. NATO doesn’t care. The substantial immigrant populations in Barcelona don’t care. The only result will be comfortable Catalonians getting hurt because they picked a stupid fight.

If some State in the US tried to go renegade they would get turned into a pink mist. Overthrowing the sovereign status quo is a serious game. The Catalan leadership is not acting responsibly.

108 A Truth Seeker October 4, 2017 at 8:54 pm

People said the same things when the KGB started killing Lithuanians in the 1990s. It did not help. As far as I know, the Lithuanians are not Muslims either, yet they took their country back from the foreign invader. Make no mistake: the Spanish paharaoh will pay with its own blood if it refuses to let the Catalan people go! It is time to sweep the Fascist regime from the face of Earth!!

109 cliff arroyo October 5, 2017 at 1:30 am

” when the KGB started killing Lithuanians in the 1990s”

Lithuania has been an independent country whose illegal occupation by the CCCP was not recognized by any serious country (not so sure about o brasil).

110 A Truth Seeker October 5, 2017 at 5:35 am

You lie, boy! Yalta and Potsdam made clear what the frontiers of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics were – and the Baltics were implicitly considered a part of the Union.

111 Wifred el pilós October 4, 2017 at 6:12 pm

Deixa de fer el capullo, activista!

112 A Truth Seeker October 4, 2017 at 8:55 pm

I say, go to Hell, fascist! We, Brazilians, know how to treat the Castillian beast!!

113 cliff arroyo October 5, 2017 at 4:37 am

Is the South your country?

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-10-04/catalan-vote-inspires-brazil-s-southern-separatist-movement

Will the Brazilian beast continue to oppress the South?

114 A Truth Seeker October 5, 2017 at 5:38 am

It is a completly different matter!! Spain is an artificial country that does not even speak the same language. Separatists in Brazil are a lonely minority of racist troublemakers deapised in their own states.
The International Community understands very well that Brazil is a real country, with thousands of years of History.

115 Jafffff October 4, 2017 at 4:00 pm

You’re confused, it’s your tribe that is applauding police violence against people seeking autonomy.

116 Glenn Hefner October 5, 2017 at 10:25 am

“President Trump also rejected the independence movement.”

Surely at this point everyone realizes Trump’s views are completely removed from sanity and rationality.

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