There are two peoples in the world trying to assert their independence-- the Catalans and the Kurds.
They want to create their own, independent nations. The great powers of the world are conspiring against them. It's not surprising. When it comes to really big power, really big is good. When it comes to democratization, really big is bad and small is much, much better.
The World Socialist Website (WSWS) opposes Catalan independence, in its article, suggesting that the problem is the system and that separation into a smaller state could make things worse.
I don't agree. This demonstrates the worst thinking of Socialism-- the idea that bigger and centralized is better. It's one of the things that the USSR got wrong, perhaps the biggest thing.
The future is small, not big. Centralization of government is a core aspect of top down power. Centralized regulations are okay, but not centralized government and control.
One commenter one the WSWS suggests that making a smaller zoo with smaller cages is not good for the animals. That's true. But it's a bad analogy. Animals do not choose to be in a zoo. People should have a choice. The more I think about, the idea that it's bad for people to assert independence because they might be susceptible to authoritarians is really dumb... and also authoritarian.
I spoke last week with Peter Joseph, creator of the Zeitgeist video series and he argues that millions of people die, in the US alone because of "structural violence," ie., structures built into the sociocultural system that exploit, deprive and punish innocent people. So WSWS is right that the problem exists either way. But to ally with and support the fascist, anti-democratic actions of the Spanish government that has sicced 12,000 police to prevent Catalans voting is not only wrong, it is profoundly misguided. WSWS is not always so. I agree with a lot of what they say. But they're wrong here.
I'm not the only leftist disagreeing. Jeremy Corbin tweeted:
The stakes for these referendums are high. Spain has threatened to prosecute leaders with charges of sedition. Below, the leader of the Catalan state, President Carlos Puigdemont, discusses the implications.
Wikipedia offers this background on the Catalan referendum:
A referendum held in Catalonia in 2014 indicated that 92% of the 2.3 million voters supported Catalonia's transformation into a state. 80% of the 2.3 million voters expressed their preference that this state would be independent.. Estimates for the turnout as published by the news media ranged from 37.0%, as given in The Economist and El Pas among others, to 41.6% as per the Catalan government's preliminary data. On 9 November 2015, Catalan lawmakers approved a plan for secession from Spain by 2017 with a majority vote 72 to 63. The plan was suspended by the Spanish Constitutional Court, but the Catalan government has insisted that it will complete the plan despite the suspension. On 9 June 2017, the Catalan government announced that an independence referendum would be held 1 October 2017. However, Spanish courts have declared the referendum to be illegal, and the Public Prosecutor's Office of Catalonia has ordered the seizure of paraphernalia related to the referendum, including ballots, ballot boxes, promotional materials, and websites.It's not a black and white story. There is not an overwhelming majority of Catalans who support independence. With the Spanish government sending in police to prevent voting, many in Europe, including Jeremy Corbyn, are criticizing how it's been handled. The result is that the Catalan leadership has said people can vote at any precinct. The Guardian suggests that the Catalans who do not want independence stayed home, that they didn't vote, especially since the central Spanish government said it was illegal to vote.
So the vote will not be trustworthy, and not an argument for honest separation. That's too bad. It doesn't answer the question, should smaller states have the right to leave larger ones. That Guardian article, by the way, is " The Guardian view on Catalonia's referendum: the Spanish state has lost." Given the horrific police abuses, there's no question that Catalans have gained in the war of appearances. And while I say the vote is not trustworthy, I'd also argue that separation from a state is not a neat and clean business. Perhaps this is as good as it gets. There were "loyalists" among the colonists who fought for King George. The American Revolution had its opponents among the citizenry.
I'll leave the discussion of the Kurdish efforts towards independence to another article.