Tag Archives: Catalonia

If Catalonia Fails, We All Fail, by Michael Krieger

This is one of Michael Krieger’s best articles. From Krieger at libertyblitzkrieg.com:

While I’ve touched on the Catalan independence movement in several recent posts, I want to make one thing clear from the start. I don’t have a strong opinion on whether or not independence is the right move for the region and its people. It would be completely inappropriate for me, a U.S. citizen living in Colorado, to lecture people 5,000 miles away on how they should organize their political lives.

While I don’t have an opinion on how Catalans should vote, I unwaveringly support their right to decide the issue for themselves. When it comes to the issue of voting and referendums, we’ve entered a topic far bigger than Catalonia, Spain, or even Europe itself. When it comes to the issue of political self-determination, we’re talking about an essential human right which should be seen as inherent to all of us, everywhere.

The Catalan push for a right for vote on independence should be seen as part of a much larger push toward greater self-determination that humans will demand in increasingly large numbers in the years ahead. The time is ripe for us as a species to insist on a transition toward a more voluntary, sane, peaceful and decentralized process of political organization. This is an idea whose time has come, and I thank the Catalan people from the bottom of my heart for brining it to the fore, and also for conducting themselves in such a noble, courageous and thoughtful manner. You are leading the way for the rest of us.

To continue reading: If Catalonia Fails, We All Fail

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The Spanish Civil War, revisited, by Pepe Escobar

Catalonia may presage all sorts of separatism in Europe. From Pepe Escobar at atimes.com:

Puigdemont’s political twist could invoke a lethal response from Madrid: suspension of Catalonia’s government

Call it theatre of the absurd – with a lethal subtext. Under pressure from all corners – even Donald Tusk, president of the EU Council – in his fateful date with destiny Carles Puigdemont, President of Catalonia, came up with some last-minute judo dialectics. He issued a non-denial denial Unilateral Declaration of Independence from Spain. What was declared was immediately suspended; the Republic of Catalonia lasted for six seconds.

The deft political gambit left Madrid predictably bewildered. Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, a.k.a. nano-Franco, issued an ultimatum; you have five days to say if you declared independence or not.

Independent of the answer, Madrid’s nuclear option remains on the cards; infamous article 155 of the Constitution, which calls for the suspension of Catalonia’s government and parliament from six to 12 months.

Yet that may come with a twist; a 155 in slow motion, parallel to the hazy offer of starting a process, in six months maximum, leading to Spanish constitutional reform. Madrid needs Catalonia for this reform to succeed. So, essentially, Puigdemont just needs to say “no” for the train to start rolling.

It’s way more complex than it seems. The Catalan extreme left, up to the last minute, was trying to convince Puigdemont to proclaim unconditional independence. At the same time, those six seconds left Catalan unionists predictably furious. Moderates for their part prefer to see a faint light at the end of the tunnel.

The problem is that even with discreet back channels in place, Madrid’s strategy is to ultimately force a fissure in the independentist coalition; secession inside Catalonia to prevent secession from Spain. So far, the fissure has been prevented by some members of the Catalonian Parliament signing a declaration of support for the – still non-existent – republic.

To continue reading: The Spanish Civil War

The Catalan Chain Reaction, by Andrew Korybko

Here is an analysis of possible scenarios unfolding in Catalonia and Spain. From Andrew Korybko at orientalreview.com:

Catalonia’s drive for “independence” has unleashed a chain reaction of viral social media support that’s frighteningly resurrected civil war-era rhetoric, but the most dangerous consequences of this domino effect are yet to come if the separatists are ultimately successful in their quest.

Catalans rally for independence

The Nostalgia Narrative

The Catalan “independence” cause has taken the world by storm, thrown into the global spotlight by the heavily publicized referendum earlier this week and Madrid’s forceful response to this unconstitutional measure. Supporters all across the world have been energized by the recent events and have taken to describing them in civil war-era terms as a battle between “democracy” and “fascism”. Furthermore, they also accuse the Rajoy government of being “Francoists”, as they do the country’s post-Franco 1978 Constitution which returned Catalonia’s autonomy in an even more robust way than before and even bestowed this privilege to the rest of the country as well.

Although it can be safely presumed that Spain naturally retained some of the “Francoist” members of its permanent military, intelligence, and diplomatic bureaucracies (“deep state”) after the death of their movement’s eponymous leader, it’s an exaggeration to refer to the constitution and the present government as “Francoists” in the sense of what the term stereotypically implies. Rather, the improper use of such polarizing civil war-era terms demonstrates that the separatists are trying to capitalize on the revolutionary nostalgia that their domestic and foreign supporters have for reliving the 1936-1939 anarcho-communist experiment via a simulacrum, one which plays out differently depending on their audience.

Two Simulacra

As it relates to the Catalans themselves, this is meant to force them into the false binary choice between “standing with their ancestors against fascism” or “betraying their motherland for the Francoists”. Concerning the foreign supporters of the Catalan separatists, they’re supposed to get riled up and vent their hatred against Madrid and impassioned support for Barcelona all throughout social media, picking up on the cue that they should inaccurately compare modern-day Madrid to post-Maidan Kiev in making the Alt-Media argument that Catalonia has as much of a right to “independence” as Crimea does to its reunification with Russia.

To continue reading: The Catalan Chain Reaction

You’re On Your Own, by Robert Gore

ichef.bbci.co.uk

If the world seems incomprehensible now, just wait.

Within a twenty-four-hour span the Catalonian people voted 90 percent in favor of secession from Spain, despite the Spanish government’s effort to violently squelch the referendum, and a man in a Las Vegas hotel room opened fire on a concert, killing fifty-nine and wounding over 500. There’s no tangible connection between the two incidents, but they illustrate incipient forces still gathering steam that are transforming the world.

No government, military force, or intelligence unit has figured out how to stop those determined to kill large numbers of people if the killers are willing to forfeit their own lives. Nor will they. Individuals and small groups have the capability to amass and use large amounts of lethal weaponry, killing military and civilian targets in a guerrilla war, or victims on the deadly end of their random bullets or bombs.

Arguments that this can stopped by limiting access to weaponry are specious, serving only as cover for further expansion of government and curtailment of individual liberty. The trend towards cheaper, more widely distributed killing power stretches back to the invention of gun powder. Guns can now be manufactured at home with 3D printers. The cows left the barn long ago.

Standing in opposition to the forces of decentralized violence are the forces of centralized violence, governments. Catalonia offers a useful illustration. Violence was the government’s loud and clear cry that it had no other argument for preventing Catalonian secession. The wealthy region pays a disproportionate share of Spain’s taxes and gets less back than it puts in. Catalans are a distinct ethnic subgroup, attenuating any so-called blood ties between Catalonia and Spain. Suppression was only partially successful and 90 percent of those Catalonians who voted chose independence.

A wonder in Catalonia was that masses of demonstrators clearly outnumbered Spanish police forces, but made no attempt to fight back against their brutality. This will be the exception rather than the rule as these types of conflicts escalate, which they will.

A joint wonder of Catalonia and Las Vegas is that gun banners continue to argue that private ownership of guns isn’t a bulwark against governmental tyranny, that civilized, gun-banning governments don’t tyrannize. How different would last weekend in Catalonia have been if Catalans had guns? How different would the future be if the Spanish government had to deal with private firearm possession as it decided on its response to say, a declaration of Catalonian independence? Sure, governments protect your rights, but pass the ammo.

Greece’s No vote in the summer of 2015, Brexit, Trump, and now Catalonia have come amidst an anemic global “recovery.” These insurrectionary portents have been relatively peaceful; few of the insurrectionists, even in Greece, were starving. What happens when the global economy collapses under its mounting debt burden? What happens when comparatively wealthier areas, like Catalonia, decide they’ll no longer support poorer areas? What happens when the masses face destitution?

Insurrectionary violence will no longer be off the table. The US, where there are more private firearms than there are residents, will be the center of the coming maelstrom. Look at the staggering arsenal Las Vegas shooter Stephen Paddock legally and surreptitiously amassed. There are plenty of such arsenals out there. From gang-bangers in South Central Los Angeles to Appalachian survivalists, everyone has guns, lots of guns.

There is probably already a black market in all sorts of military weaponry, too: munitions, mines, artillery, anti-tank and anti-aircraft missiles, etc. If there isn’t one now, expect one to emerge as the crisis mounts, fueled by the same sorts of entrepreneurs and networks who currently supply the US its illegal drugs.

The kind of decentralized, multi-sided guerrilla warfare that could coalesce in America will make Korea, Vietnam and all the other places the US has militarily intervened since look like walks in the park. Anyone who thinks the government will do anything more than add to the chaos is making a long-odds bet. Some government personnel, particularly those trained in violence—the police and military—will go free agent and join the general mayhem, especially after their employer goes bankrupt. The government’s only option for “order” may be the barren, decimated order of Hiroshima and Nagasaki after the atomic bomb blasts.

Preceding apace with the decentralization of violence has been a devolution of moral authority stretching back to the Reformation and the invention of the printing press. Organized religion has steadily lost influence, supplanted by countless doctrines of individual morality and choice, or conformity to the doctrines of self-selected groups. People shop in a philosophical bazaar of stated or unstated premises and tenets, consciously or unconsciously settling on those that appeal to their psychologies and correspond to their beliefs.

Government cannot replace organized religion as the central moral authority. Aside from criminalizing behaviors that are almost universally recognized as wrong (and even that is a fairly short list), government authority extends only to what is legal, not what is right and wrong. Much of what governments do, almost always characterized as legal by the governments that do it, would be universally recognized as evil if done by private individuals or groups. Governments have murdered millions, probably billions more people than whatever individual, group, or institution comes in a distant second place. Virtually all that murder has been legally sanctioned by the perpetrating government.

Efforts to obliterate traditional, religious-based morality with a morality of state worship have invariably been miserable failures; see Marxism. Government is everywhere and always power and coercion, and compliance with its dictates and strictures rests not on recognition of their moral worthiness, but on recognition of the costly and painful consequences of failure to do so.

Devolution has pushed morality down to the smallest social unit, the individual. Morality is a product of choices and choices are a matter of thought. Individualized morality—like all human thought—shaped in the trial and error of environments and circumstances best furthers the organic adaptation necessary for survival of the human species. It is like the English common law, incrementally developed and changed in light of what works and what doesn’t.

The devolution of morality has not wiped out either good or evil, or the vast range of human thought and behavior that falls in between. Thomas More’s individual defiance of England’s centralized government and church is now reckoned as saintly. Stephen Paddock was the personification of evil, but in the chaos and terror he unleashed, there were incredible stories of courage and heroism.

Even back in the Middle Ages the moral pronouncements of the Pope had little relevance to the serfs working far off lands. So little, in fact, that the Catholic Church didn’t deem it necessary to translate those pronouncements into a language the serfs could understand. The serfs went about their business, making their own judgments of right and wrong. Shaped, to be sure, by what religious instruction they had received, but mostly by the exigencies of their own situations.

In the coming atomized entropy, it will be starkly apparent that just as with preparation and survival strategies, morality lies with the individual. A fortunate few will be able to band together with other individuals of similar beliefs. Decentralization in full efflorescence will obliterate many of the current buffers—particularly the welfare state—between actions and consequences, meaning individuals will be forced to take responsibility for what they do, whether they want to or not. In an insolvent world nobody’s left to pick up the tab.

Cries will issue forth to the skies: Help us! Save us! Somebody do something! Somebody tell us what to do! The reply from the skies: You’re on your own.

Time to read a great book?

AMAZON

KINDLE

NOOK

 

Catalonia Chaos Begins to Squeeze Spain’s Financial Markets, by Don Quijones

Spain’s financial market participants are beginning to believe that there won’t be a quiet, easy solution to the Catalonia-Spain standoff. From Don Quijones at wolfstreet.com:

Spain’s biggest political crisis of a generation, which has led to the complete breakdown of communication and understanding between its government in Madrid and the separatist region of Catalonia, is finally beginning to take its toll on the country’s financial markets.

Spain’s benchmark index, the Ibex 35, slumped nearly 3% following its worst day of trading since the Brexit vote last June. Spain’s 10-year risk premium — the differential between the yield on its 10-year bonds and the yield on Germany’s 10-year bonds — soared to 129 basis points. And that’s despite the fact that the ECB continues to buy Spanish debt hand over fist.

But it is the banks that have borne the brunt of the pain this week. On Monday, the first trading day after the independence referendum, they lost €4.84 billion in market value. Over the past five trading days, shares of the two biggest Catalan-based banks, Caixabank and Banco de Sabadell, have plunged respectively, 9% and 13%.

So tense is the situation that the CEOs of each bank felt compelled to release a statement today reassuring customers that they have all the means and tools necessary to protect their interests. Their contingency plans include the option of abandoning their base of operations in Catalonia and moving elsewhere — to Madrid in the case of Sabadell and Mallorca in the case of Caixabank.

But it wasn’t just Catalan banks that were caught up in today’s rout. Important Spanish banks with somewhat less exposure to Catalonia also saw their shares plunge. Santander, Spain’s only global systemically important bank, was down 3.8% on the day’s trading; BBVA, Spain’s second bank which has important operations in Catalonia after acquiring the failed saving bank Catalunya Caixa in 2015, fell 3.6%; and Bankia was also down 3.6%.

Standard & Poor’s today put Catalonia’s credit rating — at B+/B, it’s already deep into junk — on review for a downgrade of one notch or more, “if we believed that escalating political tensions between Catalonia’s government and Spain’s central government could put in question the full and timely refinancing of Catalonia’s short-term debt instruments or undermine the effectiveness of the central government’s financial support to Catalonia.” The threat of default moves a step closer.

To continue reading: Catalonia Chaos Begins to Squeeze Spain’s Financial Markets

 

 

Catalan Independence: Why The Collective Hates It When People Walk Away, by Brandon Smith

Spain will violently suppress Catalonia’s independence because that’s what collectivists do. From Brandon Smith at alt-market.com:

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 to hand over responsibility to a community through 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.

To continue reading: Catalan Independence: Why The Collective Hates It When People Walk Away

Catalonia To Declare Independence From Spain On Monday, by Tyler Durden

Watching the Catalonian situation evolve is like watching a scary movie unfold, except this is real life. Will the Spanish government do something stupid? From Tyler Durden at zerohedge.com:

Spanish stocks tumbled, with the IBEX index sliding into a 10% correction, following an overnight report that Catalan leader Puigdemont was set to make a statement at 9 p.m. (1900 GMT) on Wednesday, after an all-party committee of the region’s parliament meets to agree a date for a plenary session on independence. That concluded moments ago and CUP, the pro-secession party that is a majority in the Catalan parliament, has announced it will declared independence from Spain in plenary session on Monday, El Pais reports.

As reported last night, Catalan President Carles Puigdemont told the BBC that his government would ask the region’s parliament to declare independence after tallying votes from last weekend’s referendum, which Madrid says was illegal. “This will probably finish once we get all the votes in from abroad at the end of the week and therefore we shall probably act over the weekend or early next week,” he said in remarks published on Wednesday.

Puigdemont’s comments came after Spain’s King Felipe VI accused secessionist leaders on Tuesday of shattering democratic principles and dividing Catalan society, as tens of thousands protested against a violent police crackdown on Sunday’s vote. The Catalan leader is due to make a statement at 9 p.m. (1900 GMT) on Wednesday, during which he is expected to announce that Catalonia will formally announce independence on Monday.

Spain has been rocked by the Catalan vote and the Spanish police response to it, which saw batons and rubber bullets used to prevent people voting. Hundreds were injured, in scenes that brought international condemnation.
And while the constitutional crisis in Spain, the euro zone’s fourth-biggest economy, has hit Spanish stocks and bonds, raising Madrid’s borrowing costs, it has so far failed to have an adverse impact on the broader European market, or the Euro which has remained relatively steady in recent days.  As shares in Spain’s big lenders fell on Wednesday, Economy Minister Luis de Guindos tried to reassure investors and customers. “Catalan banks are Spanish banks and European banks are solid and their clients have nothing to fear,” he said on the sidelines of a conference in Madrid.