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Sunday, 25 November 2012

"The disuniting states of Europe"

Tomorrow the people of Catalonia are likely to vote for a party that promotes independence from Spain. It’s not the only separatist campaign in Europe

Rumours of the imminent break-up of the EU’s nation states are greatly exaggerated. None of the candidates for independence on this map has more than a 50 per cent chance of achieving statehood in the immediate future. Most have much less.

Yet there is no doubt that something is shifting in the EU’s geopolitics. For Irish people there is something breathtaking in the calm way Scotland may now be walking away from the same connection with Britain that we had to break in bloody conflict. It’s a prospect that, incidentally, raises new identity issues for Northern Ireland.

And in Spain the long-overdue decision by Basque pro-independence radicals to abandon terrorism has been rewarded by substantial electoral advances.

But the biggest surprise is in Catalonia. In tomorrow’s autonomous elections there a people renowned for canny common sense will almost certainly take a leap towards the completely uncharted adventure of a referendum on independence.

We can see broadly similar trends elsewhere. It can hardly be an accident that this is happening at a moment when the whole EU is up in a heap, with the financial crisis revealing frightening deficits in our political systems.

Should the prospect of new states emerging add to our anxieties? Or should we accept it as a salutary attempt to bring our political institutions more into line with deeply felt identities? The answer, I believe, is that we should look at each case on its merits and be very cautious about swallowing purist arguments from any side.

We should be sceptical when Spain talks about “the indissoluble unity of the Spanish nation” in its constitution. The nation state is a human invention and not an eternal and essential reality. What humans have joined together, humans may indeed put asunder – as long as they do it democratically.

But we should also be sceptical when Basques, Catalans or any other peoples talk about their own “national rights”, as if they were essential and absolute, and abandon solidarity with less fortunate regions.

A troubling common factor in some of the current “breakaway” regions is that they are among the most prosperous parts of their existing states. This is true of Catalonia, the Basque Country, Padania and Flanders.
These regions often stereotype their respective southern neighbour – Andalusia, Calabria, Wallonia – as lazy and irresponsible.

Ironically, in doing so they mirror the attitude of the elite EU nation states – Germany, the Netherlands and Finland, for example – which complain that their hard-earned wealth is being squandered by the Mediterranean countries and by Ireland.

It is reasonable for rich regions to insist that poor ones also pull their weight. But these complaints are often also a cover for failures at home. In the German case there is a refusal to acknowledge that their own banks played recklessly in our casino institutions. In Catalonia the nationalist government inflated a property bubble that caused many of its people’s woes.

There is also a worse danger in nationalism than simple selfishness. Blame-shifting becomes truly toxic by finding scapegoats in vulnerable groups, especially immigrants. These attitudes are rampant in some secessionist groups, especially in Flanders and Padania.

Such dangers should not, however, lead us to stigmatise all the “new” nationalisms as backward and reactionary. Very often they are motivated by a frustrated desire for respect for language and culture.

But does each language and culture need its own state? Wales has preserved its language better than Scotland has yet shows much less desire for independence.

But in many cases the refusal of self-determination may fuel the demand for independence. Europe’s big states might well find that, if they had the good manners to offer their small constituent nations a choice about their future, most of them would opt to stay put.

5 comMENTS:

Very, very, very true. I'm living in Catalonia, and i'd say independentism it's not likely, but perhaps people might achieve federalism, which is what they where aiming for at first. They indeed do ask for "respect for language and culture", funny because people here are actually forced to speak Catalan in most places.

I am a Catalan and we do not force anyone to speak our language what absolute bullshit! The Spanish are in fact trying to force us NOT to speak our language, the Spanish are committing crimes against people they claim belong to them. We make more money than any other place in Spain, but the Spanish government take it from us and spend most of it central Spain. I do not like what section this article has been placed in, we are not traitors to our race, we should not have to stand for being bullied by the real traitors - The Spanish government, they keep taking Europe's money and then spending it on themselves, you should see how much money they spend on the kings fucking horses when their own people are unemployed and homeless! They are dragging Spain down, either better it, and treat all the communities under Spanish rule better or let us go and show what an asset to Europe a free Catalunya could truly be. There is a reason the Spanish nickname Catalans 'Polish' it is a joke to say Franco treated the Catalans as Hitler did the Polish. They do this to their own people and we are the traitors?

They do this to their own people and we are the traitors?

Yes you are. You are all socialists, anarquistst and comunists, all pro-racial mixing, pro-abortion and sionist-lovers. Shameful

Catalans come from the Ancient Greeks and Ancient Romans. Catalonia was the home front in taking the Iberian Peninsular back from the fucking Mulsims, the Spanish refer to themselves as the arabs and have Arabic writing tattooed on them. Catalans fight to maintain our EUROPEAN roots where as the Spanish embrace their dirty Arab past. You know fucking nothing you dirty little cock. Let me guess simply because Franco met with Hitler that makes the Spanish real Europeans right? Or the fact that so many Spanish people give the Nazi salute and pledge themselves Nazi's when really what they mean is anti-anything not Spanish (INCLUDING EVERYONE ELSE IN EUROPEAN YOU FUCKING MORON) you are a brainless cunt. If you support European dominance then you should support Catalonia's fight to becoming the next state in Europe, we'd have one of the strongest economies in Europe if it wasn't for the Spanish crippling us in favor of beautifying the dirty Arab Madrid. We would help improve the state of the Euro giving a positive effect of Europe in whole instead of helping damage it like the Spanish do. You are a brainless Arab loving prick.
Visca Catalunya i visca Europa!!!

So many insults. Learn to type politeley, you are not giving a very good image of Cataluña. Thanks.

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