Catalonia is a dark lesson for those seeking Welsh independence

Picture by Jordi Payà (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Jason Morgan

I imagine most people reading this will have been trying to keep up with recent developments in Catalonia as best they can, mostly through the social media.

The main news channels not only have a virtual blackout on the story but seem even more biased in their reporting of it than they were during the Scottish Referendum in 2014.

Therefore I won’t dwell on the specifics of what is going on there – you probably have a good idea yourselves.

If you support peoples’ and nations’ rights to self-determination, however, these are very dark days.

I’m not sure whether I agree with those who say we’re seeing a wave of neofascism in the world today.

Rather, I think what we’re seeing is imperialism having a last swipe at its former globe before it dies, and in its death-throes causing as much havoc as possible.

Semantics aren’t really important, however. Simply put, what is happening in Catalonia is bad. However, the reaction to the Catalans’ desire for independence is arguably worse.

Maybe lack of reaction is a more apt description. Those few nation-states who have given a view on the situation have all described it as an “internal matter” and called for respect for the Spanish constitution, which of course affords no respect for any of its various peoples’ desire for independence.

Constitutions are like that – they take precedence over people.  No-one has called for restraint on the part of the Spanish government. No-one has condemned the seizing of ballot boxes and arresting of Catalan officials and the rolling in of military equipment.

No-one has called for this attack for democracy to stop. Even countries who have been through comparative situations, like Ireland, have remained stubbornly quiet.

And in spite of the praise given to the Scottish Government’s statement on the situation, it was pretty glib and was far short of the outright condemnation required.

Silence

Perhaps most gut-wrenchingly silent on the whole issue is the European Union, echoing the calls to work within the framework of the Spanish constitution without a word of condemnation.

It’s not only unacceptable, but verging on unforgivable, and sharply exposes the EU’s main fault; that is, when it comes to the crunch, the EU will always side with the governments of its member-states and market forces over anything else.

In fact, it seems at present those things trump democratic principles. If I were a Catalan who believed in independence, I’m not sure I’d feel any great desire to see an independent Catalonia within this EU.

I voted Remain last year – yet I feel sickened and embittered by the EU’s silence.

Anyway: how does this pertain to Wales? Put simply, one day, this could be Wales.

Lesson

Those of us who would see Wales freed of England’s death-grip might do well to look towards Catalonia not with hope, but with apprehension and a willingness to learn.

Yes, there are individuals and groups who have voiced support for the Catalans and vociferously condemned the government of Spain’s actions, but the harsh political reality is that they count for almost nothing, and Catalonia stands alone.

It stands alone as do many others from the Rohingya of Myanmar who have to settle for the actionless words of others to the Kurds, whose own independence referendum is forthcoming as the world quietly forgets their huge contribution to the fight against ISIS.

They will quickly forget about them again if the will of their people is crushed by any of the regions’ states, who are all opposed to Kurdish statehood.

The lesson Wales should learn from this is a pretty dark one, but a necessary one.

We like to think we have friends and allies in other parts of the world. We’re idealists. In truth, if we reach a point as a nation where our independence is actually on the agenda, we can look to no-one other than ourselves.

No European states will stand up for us, not even our supposed friends. The EU centrally won’t. We’re not important enough for anyone further away to care about.

Those who went to Scotland for the referendum to campaign and show support, or are going to Catalonia now, may hope for the favour to be returned someday. It won’t.

It’s a lonely world, and one that is biased against small nations like us not only achieving statehood but even surviving.

We can’t achieve independence through proxy, or through alliances. It’s completely, utterly down to us.

And if we don’t rely on ourselves and ourselves alone, we’re living for a pipe-dream.


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Capitalist and Welshnash
Guest
Capitalist and Welshnash

Exactly, don’t depend upon others. Do it yourself. The Welsh Government won’t help independence under Labour. The British Government will never support it. Ireland’s quiet on Spain is a truth bell; we have to be entrepreneurs in spirit and not be dependent.

J E Loyd
Guest
J E Loyd

Yes, the international dimension is one that has been woefully neglected by those (like me) seeking statehood for Wales. Ireland would probably not have wrested its independence from the British empire without support from America. We should be building our ties with other countries. This requires us to focus on what unites us with other countries and peoples, and not to engage in other people’s battles. There was a lot to criticize in early 20th century America — and certainly far more than now. Remember Alun Rees’s lines … Now Taffy is a fighter when he hears the bugle call.… Read more »

andrewjinks
Guest

Of course we need alliances, to turn down allies is ridiculous, a self-defeating attitude.

Ricardo
Guest
Ricardo

The EU doesn’t interfere in local affairs tho. Spain is a member, not Catalonia. The U.K. is a completely different union than Spain is. There are 4 countries in the U.K. while there’a only one Spain. Catalonia voted to be part of a the Spanish stare and they can’t secede. I’m all for them to conquer their independence but expecting EU to interfere is a bit of lack of understanding of how the EU works. Comparing Scottish vote to Catalonia is also different.

Parry
Guest
Parry

You’re quite right – a pro-independence politician recently said that the EU has never recognised anybody’s independence before it has happened. At the end of the day, it’s up to the Catalans to exercise the right to self-determination as stipulated by the United Nations.
However, Catalonia never ‘voted to be a part of Spain’. If you’re referring to the post-Francoist Constitution, people from all over the political spectrum voted for an imperfect document in order to move forward from the dark days of dictatorship. It’s incompatible with today’s context.

womanwhowentupahill
Guest

https://uk.news.yahoo.com/catalonia-cannot-claim-self-determination-un-chief-120527738.html you are welcome. Catalonia has never been a sovereign country no matter how much propaganda they create, history cannot be changed. Over 90% voted for the ‘imperfect paper’ and they vote very regularly in Catalonia, democratically. That’s why a 47% minority coalition cannot just highjack democracy and impose independence on everyone, their GDP has fallen by 30% already and they have gone from 1st to 15th place in the richest regions list, soon they will be last as all the major companies and banks fled, well over 1000. Do you think that is fair for the Catalans that wouldn’t… Read more »

Cymru Rydd
Guest

Excellent points made by Jason Morgan here. As he says, the deafening silence of the EU about this exercise in suppression and intimidation is a real wake up call for nationalists in Wales who have been so myopic in their support and idealization of this cold-eyed monster, which cares only for big Corporations and their own empire-building project. It is absolutely scandalous that the EU have been so passive about this issue. Surely, democracy and people’s right to choose their own future has to be at the very bedrock of any sane and civilized society. As an anarchist and a… Read more »

Edeyrn
Guest
Edeyrn

I was on the fence with the EU, but always disdained many points about it…..it was created in the 1950s by imperialists, big bankers and corporate capitalist and magnates….ych a fi.

Plaid Cymru’s support for the EU…..simply because they didnt trust Westminster to give us the money the EU gave us…..felt weak and wimpy…………the EU like the UK had gone way to far in their control over Welsh communities

Red Dragon Jim
Guest
Red Dragon Jim

The Catalan independence movement desires to be in the EU. “The next state in Europe” as the banners say. Whether the EU institutions support them or not is not the point. They want a European union to exist and for Catalonia’s independence to be within that. The EU institutions should support democracy. Of course they will not. But like me personally, the Catalan support for the EU is because we identify as Europeans. Not because we like what the EU institutions say or do, or fail to do. Plaid Cymru members would have the same opinion for exactly the same… Read more »

Tame Frontiersman
Guest
Tame Frontiersman

An independence struggle is as much an internal struggle as a struggle against external powers Alliances, yes. Caution, always. Not all who may offer assistance do so with the purest of motives. Perfidious Albion exploited Arab nationalism in WW1 for its own ends. Liberation from the Ottomans was replaced by British rule and hegemony. The consequences of that are still working themselves out. Note too, the seductive nature of British establishment liberalism. Were London to take the same “No way José” attitude to Welsh independence as Madrid is taking to Catalunya then Welsh Independence would be polling significantly better than… Read more »

WALES in the MOVIES (@MoviesWales)
Guest

Agree. Also, Can us Welsh nats PLEASE stop discrediting our cause with (childish) references to Cornwall?

I don’t think some people realise how this habit looks to the majority of people we need to win over. It takes a serious and considered tone instantly into the really perfectionist fantasy.

Campaign for Wales, if the Cornish ever get a body together, good for them.

Wrexhamian
Guest
Wrexhamian

We can do this best ourselves. If pro-independence people were to make a big enough noise, we can make the issues like settler movement into Wales, lack of control over Welsh telly, military bases, forced transfer of populations from London into Wales, and Local Development Plans into part of Welsh public discourse.
Eventually we would gain sufficient support for an independence referendum which we might win, and sod the EU, who wouldn’t lift a finger if Catalonia is anything to go by, unless they wanted our water…

kim erswell
Guest
kim erswell

Spain sends in the troops – dosn’t bode well.

Davydh Trethewey (@MawKernewek)
Guest

Not sure what childish references you are responding to @MoviesWales. Mebyon Kernow in fact sat out the General Election 2017 – being “too knackered and too poor” by their own admission to fight the general election at short notice one month after the Council election campaign in May.

sianiflewog
Guest
sianiflewog

Sometimes you need to fight – not with wars and guns, but with live bodies on the streets. Block things up a bit. So Spain shoots ’em = independence for Catalunya; or they stay on the streets and develop the cohesion that up to now might be lacking a bit = independence. Be on the streets and possess the crisis. Spain has, helpfully started it, now Catalunya must seize it and own it. A bit easier said than done, but Estonia, Lithiwania and Latfia have done it recently (with , horror, the beastly Russians). Finland during crisis of red revolution… Read more »

Fi
Guest
Fi

I stopped reading at “peoples’”.