The history of Catalonia, a culturally autonomous region in the northeast of Spain, is thick with war and insurrection, pride and oppression. While bouncing back and forth across the decades between being politically autonomous and suffering under dictatorships, Catalonia has developed a sense of self-identity that can only merit the label of “nationalism;” and justly so, for by all means, Catalonia is a nation.
The Spanish government has mercilessly berated Catalonia for centuries, beginning, arguably, with efforts in the early 1700s to outlaw the Catalan language. For the next few hundred years there were only brief moments of full autonomy, leaving Catalonia’s people starved for independence.
In 2008, the global recession left Spain with record unemployment and massive public debt. Since then, most of Spain has barely recovered, but Catalonia today is one of the most financially stable regions in the country. In fact, Catalonia sustains 20 percent of Spain’s economy through taxes, but only receives a 14 percent return for public expenses. Efforts to institute laws to for the region to collect its own taxes have been vehemently rejected. Because of this, Catalonia feels economically exploited by Spain, and the movement for separation has never been more popular and impassioned. There have been informal referendums, protests, marches, and rallies attracting millions of people.
On Oct. 27, the Catalan parliament officially declared independence, despite remaining under Spanish rule. These people are tired of being financially taken advantage of. They are tired of barely clinging on to their culture. They deserve a revolution.
But the government has not been so open-minded to these needs. In fact, they have been violent in their efforts to suppress separatist movements. All attempts to host a formal referendum were silenced by police blocking polling stations, confiscating ballots, and physically dragging voters away from polls and beating them, injuring nearly 900 people in the process. The government has called separation “evil,” “undemocratic,” and “the nuclear option.”
Pressure from the federal level has been such that the President of Catalonia had to turn himself into the United Nations just last week. This is not simply a political conflict; it is a crisis of personal liberty, of autonomy, and of natural rights.
Such a chaotic political and ideological landscape should feel familiar to Americans, especially those who are familiar with our own history. When Britain began imposing a rule that American citizens deemed unfair and tyrannical, an independence movement was formed, and it took a revolution for us to sever ties with the mother nation. Similarly, Catalonia never agreed to be part of the Spanish government, and now wishes to sever ties. Britain’s laws did not allow for separation; Spain’s constitution does not allow it, and, ironically, our own living Constitution does not allow it either.
Was it not John Locke who argued that citizens under a government had the full right to instigate a revolution against the government when it acted against their interests? An entire movement of enlightenment philosophers who championed individualism, political autonomy, and action against tyranny influenced every word of our Declaration of Independence, and those same ideas were filtered into our Constitution.
We are a nation which has put those ideas into practice when we were able to physically, politically, and culturally distinguish ourselves from Britain.
We are a nation that was birthed directly from these ideas, and yet, our founding document suppresses them. If the Catalan crisis has revealed anything, it is how dangerously divided a nation can become if they don’t allow themselves to peacefully divide.
If a society is distinct enough, it should separate itself. Catalan’s motives are a brewing mixture of Locke’s views on political oppression and the view that cultures must be preserved. No further justification is needed to declare independence. Any region that is able to maintain a separate language, political system, economy, and philosophy must not remain subject to the laws or customs of a larger organization or else it runs the risk of having its culture erased entirely by means of integration.
Catalonia deserves to leave Spain. Texas and California deserve to leave America, if they so wish. America deserved to leave Britain. It all goes back to the basic principles that are, sadly, misrepresented in our Constitution. Although I am a firm supporter of the Constitution in all other respects, the inability to secede – even unilaterally – is one disheartening snag that is almost an insult to our nation’s founding.
Perhaps, after Catalonia’s separation, other regions in countries around the world may be compelled to do the same. All the beautiful and diverse cultures that exist would be able to defend themselves by their means. Even with a small start, such a victory could influence the long-term dismantling of globalist power structures that are already subduing countless cultures.
History has proven it: Catalan independence is not only a right, but a necessity.
By Melanie Lust, Staff Writer