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

by Brandon Smith, Alt-Market:

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 for community and 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.

Collectivists will have none of this, however, and despite their intellectual and "rational" facade, they will often turn to brutality in order to disrupt any movement to decentralize power.

The civil unrest in the Spanish region of Catalonia is an interesting example of the tyranny of the collectivist ideology. According to mainstream doctrine, Spain is supposed to be a "decentralized unitary state" made up of "autonomous communities," all with their own statutes and self governing bodies "loosely" regulated by the Spanish constitution of 1978. Catalonia, along with a couple other regions and cities in Spain, has long fought for true autonomy from the central government in Madrid. This separatist culture was crushed under the heel of Francisco Franco's dictatorial regime after the Spanish Civil War which started in 1936.

After Franco's death in 1975, Spain began its "transition to democracy" (democracy being the tyranny of the majority rather than tyranny by military regime). Once again, Catalonia's push for independence returned.

The reasons for a Catalan secession are multitude and are of course noble or nefarious depending on which side you talk to. From my research, it would seem the primary drive for Catalonia is economic. Spain is one of the more indebted member states in the European Union with a national debt near 100% of GDP. The "great recession" starting in 2008 struck Spain particularly hard, with around 21% of the general population officially in poverty and over 40% of all children officially in poverty. Unemployment according to government statistics hovers near 18%.

Catalonia is the most prosperous region in Spain's economy, accounting for nearly 20% of total GDP. Catalans also assert that taxation in their region is a primary pillar for the Spanish government, which has not returned the favor with sufficient investment in infrastructure in the region. In essence, there is a "taxation without representation" feel to the conflict, and Americans in particular know very well how that kind of situation can end.

On the other side of the debate, it is clear that if Catalonia leaves the Spanish system on negative terms, then Spain's already crumbling economy will be destroyed. The motivation for Spain to keep control of Catalonia is high just on the grounds of economic disaster.

Beyond the economic issue, another interesting side note on Spain is its intense social justice (cultural Marxism) programs. While Europeans often suggest Spain as being a "conservative" government, in policy and action this is simply not true.  Spain is notorious for being one of the most militantly feminist governments in the EU aside from Sweden, and this is saying something given the socialist nature of the EU. Gender laws and divorce laws in the country offer some of the most draconian double standards against men I have ever witnessed. Perhaps this will give you a kind of litmus test for the sort of culture we are dealing with here, and maybe it accounts for some discontent in certain portions of the Spanish population.

Catalonia itself is often cited as being "more liberal" in its political orientation in comparison to the rest of Spain. Of course, the term "liberal" can mean many different things in Europe depending on the nation, and American definitions do not necessarily apply. Just as Europeans tend to have no understanding whatsoever of what "conservatism" means in the U.S., Americans have a hard time understanding all the intricacies of the various levels of "liberalism" in Europe.

That said, what side of the political spectrum Catalonia sits on is irrelevant to greater discussion.

What I actually enjoy pointing out here is the fact that whether you look at the Franco era of nationalist totalitarianism, or the "semi" socialist and hyper-cultural Marxist era of today, the Spanish government STILL acts the same in its despotism against Catalan separation or independence.  It is not as if the socialists set out to right the wrongs of the Franco regime once it fell. Not at all. Instead, they merely perpetuated the same attitude of centralization while wearing a smiling face. Once again, we see that there is very little difference between fascism and communism/socialism when we get down to core behaviors and policies.

Collectivists, regardless of what other labels they use to identify themselves, have certain rules that they consistently follow in order to maintain power. One of those rules is that the collective is indivisible. They might pontificate endlessly about their superior democratic ideals, but when some people vote to leave en masse, either in polling booths or with their feet, the mask of benevolence always comes off and the true monster behind collectivism is revealed.

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