Catalan Independence: Principle vs Pragmatism

Catalan Independence

As many of our readers will be well aware, Catalonia held (or attempted to hold) a referendum today on the future of their governance. A simple question was on the ballot paper; “Do you want Catalonia to be an independent state in the form of a republic?”, and a great number of people came out to cast their vote despite fierce opposition from the Spanish authorities. In fact, we have seen many chaotic scenes emanating from Catalonia throughout the day, and the Catalan authorities claim that over 750 people have been injured in clashes with the Spanish police.

Regardless of how the vote was conducted or the response from the Spanish authorities, the whole fiasco has raised some interesting questions for nationalist circles, as well as quite some division in opinion. There are some who feel that every ethno-cultural group should be offered the right to self-determination – a view I am inclined to take myself. Alternatively, there are those who support the view of Spanish nationalists, who of course (and with good reason) despise this attempt to break up their country, with all its rich history and traditional institutions.

Despite my aforementioned sympathies with the self-determination argument, the overall view should be that Catalan independence is not conducive to the wider European nationalist movement, nor is it something that will bring positive benefits to the Catalan people themselves. The reasons for this are as follows:

Firstly, the demographic situation in Catalonia is particularly dire, to the point that an independent Catalan state would likely become Europe’s first Islamic caliphate. The region has a population of just 7.5 million, but approximately half a million of these (7%) are Muslim migrants, both first and second generation. This would push them up to third place, narrowly behind France and Belgium, in the rankings of European countries with the greatest share of Muslims as a percentage of the overall population.

However, it is not just the sheer number of Muslim migrants that inhabit Catalonia that’s the problem. Catalonia also has the rather unfortunate accolade of being home to the more radical Islamists than anywhere else in Europe. It has become a breeding ground for extremist Islam, the followers of which isolate themselves in ghettoised communities; some municipalities in Catalonia are more than 50% Islamic, and there are more no-go zones than some of the worst-off major cities in Western Europe. This is hardly a good foundation from which to spawn a new country.

Secondly, Catalan “nationalists” may disagree on a few minor ideological points, but the vast majority all have one thing in common: their almost fanatical affections for the European Union. The political class in Catalonia have always made no secret of their desire to apply to join (or remain in, depending on the legal nuances) the European Union on day 1 of independence, emulating many other separatist movements in Europe who seek to replace perceived domination by a foreign power with actual subservience to Brussels.

But it isn’t just the Europhilia of Catalan politicians that makes this uncomfortable for the nationalist cause. The more concerning issue is that the European Union, despite their overtly expressed wishes to see Spain remain united, would in fact welcome Catalan independence. The arch-federalists in Brussels seek to weaken the power of the sovereign nation-state, and the extrication of a populous and financially prosperous part of the Spanish nation from the Spanish state would certainly weaken the latter’s authority and bargaining power in Europe.

This should also be considered in conjunction with the European Union’s longtime plan to erase the national borders of Europe in favour of  smaller, transnational regions. This a plan revealed in 2009, but with origins dating back to 1994, that proposes to separate the European Union into regions that pay little attentions to historic national borders. Their planned “Arc Manche” region, for instance, incorporates parts of North-Western France, Southern England and the Iberian Peninsula – any separatist movement that attacks the traditionally agreed borders of a nation-state will undoubtedly accelerate this EU regionalisation plan.

It may be pertinent to mention at this point that the Catalan independence movement has in fact received funding from none other than George Soros, the Jewish financier and well known advocate of the break down of Europe’s nation states. His Open Society Foundation has donated over $50,000.00 to institutions and think tanks that strongly advocate Catalan independence, even one which illegally acts as Catalonia’s “foreign ministry”.

As if the demographic crisis and the unwanted assistance Catalan independence would provide to the EU isn’t enough, we also have to look at the established politics of the region more broadly. For instance, out of a 135-seat devolved parliament in Catalonia, just 11 seats are held by politicians whose political leanings are centrist, let alone right-wing. The remaining 92% of seats are held by parties whose ideologies range from centre-left “social democracy”, to Marxist-Leninist hard leftists. In fact, the radical left has greater representation in Catalonia than in any other part of Europe.

Whilst the political leanings of a nation is not a valid reason in itself to deny it independence, the fact that all these leftists are fully bought into the pro-migrants, pro-refugee agenda is. Population replacement – which is what the mass importation of foreigners into a society with a declining native fertility rate is – is treasonous whether committed by the left or the right, and Catalonia does not have the right to further inflict such strands of immigration policy that damage Europe as a whole. They have made no secret of their desire to bring more refugees to the region and would undoubtedly do so on day 1 of independence.

And finally, we have to consider the impact that Catalan independence could have on the rest of Europe. Notwithstanding the diplomatic nightmare such a secession would create, it would also set a precedent that separatist movements in other European countries will be all too happy to latch onto. For instance, in the United Kingdom it would embolden the already noisy Scottish separatists who, despite already holding a vote which they lost, would use Catalan independence as a catalyst for further agitation and destabilisation.

Belgium has Wallonia and Flanders, England has a growing problem with Cornish “nationalism” and of course there’s the Basque region to consider, that transcends parts of northern Spain and southern France. All of the independence advocacy groups of these countries would be emboldened by Catalan independence, and of course they all share the pro-migrant, leftist tendencies of their Catalan comrades. This would cause knock-on affects of untold proportions that could begin to tear up the traditional map of Europe, therefore it should be strongly opposed by those concerned with separatist movements in foreign lands.

With the aforesaid issues taken into account, the logical position at which we arrive is that Catalan independence should be opposed out of a regrettable pragmatism. If things were different, if Europe wasn’t in the throes of a migrant crisis; if there wasn’t a neo-liberal European Union exerting undue influence over the continent; if radical Islam wasn’t festering in Catalonia, then perhaps the situation would be very different. Self-determination should be the right of any nation and people, and it’s a cause that nationalists should champion, but with a heavy heart it has to be said that in this case it must be rejected.

 

William is a writer based in England, Great Britain.