The dream of a socialist, independent Wales in the EU is now dead

Picture by: Christine und Hagen Graf (CC BY 2.0)

Chris Paul

Catalonia’s predicament is a warning to those who dream of an independent Wales within the EU.

Despite all the main players in Catalonia being all in favour of joining the EU as soon as possible after independence, the EU remains resolutely opposed.

The EU’s reluctance has nothing to do with Spain’s constitution and similar excuses. The bottom line is the economy of the EU, and in particular the banking sector.

The banking system in EU is a house of cards that could collapse at any moment. The entire edifice is dependent on the expectation that someday Europe’s nation states will pay back all the money they owe.

If the banks lost faith in the ability of nation states to pay them back, it would set off a global financial crisis that would make Lehman Brothers look like a picnic.

If Catalonia leaves Spain, Spain would lose 20% of its economy and the country’s ability to pay back the debt it owes would be in serious doubt. Spain could become a massive Greece that the EU could not bail out.

The Euro would be in crisis once more, and populism would be turbo-charged as other nations attempt to bail out failing nation-states. The European project could come apart completely.

If Catalonia declares independence, the EU totters.

So basically, it doesn’t matter how radical or civilized Catalonia wants to be. Unless it agrees to pay Spain’s debts it will never be allowed to be independent.

And since a large part of the arguments for Catalonia’s independence are driven by the unfairness of having to sustain Spain’s economy, that would call into question the point of independence in the first place.

In this way, the principles of self-determination, and the sovereignty of the people, are sacrificed on the altar of neo-liberal economics.

Bucking the system

Plaid Cymru, our only nationalist party, claims that it wants to see ‘an independent Wales, run on the principles of de-centred socialism, in the EU’.

In light of the EU’s readiness to tolerate police violence in order to save its own skin, the party needs to ask itself whether this is even a realistic ambition.

Socialism is anathema to the neo-liberal economics that the EU was created to facilitate. The EU may have other worthwhile characteristics, but it is above all a trading block within which fiscal policy is becoming increasingly centralised.

The decentred grassroots community inspired co-operativism that Plaid Cymru supports would be snuffed out by the EU’s distant institutions.

All of this means that left-wing civic nationalist movements in Wales, Scotland, Catalonia now face a dilemma.

If they wish to remain within the EU they will have to abandon the left wing aspect of their doctrines, and pursue the limited austerity-driven financial autonomy on offer everywhere else, in exchange for some cultural and linguistic recognition.

Or they can stay within the UK and Spain and watch the limited autonomy they now possess being clawed back.

Do Wales, Scotland and Catalonia have the strength of will and intellectual drive to forge a third path – truly independent nation-states strong enough to oppose the neo-liberal world order?

And who would lead such a drive in Wales? The traditionally pro-EU Plaid, a grassroots movement, or even an increasingly Euro-sceptic Labour party?

At the moment, it’s all up for grabs.


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Eos Pengwern
Guest
Eos Pengwern

The neo-liberal world order, as you put it, is basically the idea that states should spend only what they’re able to raise in tax. The alternative, that states should be able to spend whatever they like while borrowing from people and institutions who should have no expectation of being paid back, doesn’t end in Utopia but in Venezuela or Zimbabwe. Is that really what you aspire to for Wales? Independence for Wales will only ever work if the country is able to pay its way, which in other words means centre-right fiscally conservative policies. It’s not rocket-science – these things… Read more »

glasiad
Guest
glasiad

The unfortunate truth is that we have allowed virtually our entire money supply (97%) to be created out of nothing by banks that lend it into existence which we have to pay back with interest. In essence, we rent our money from banks even though they never had it in the first place. Due to compound interest the costs of that rent always increases – until the whole system crashes. It is a Ponzi scheme that drives up the cost of living and drives down wages and incomes for 90% of the population. The first country that dares to go… Read more »

Eos Pengwern
Guest
Eos Pengwern

It took me a couple of days to get around to it but I watched James Robertson’s video. I’m a little sceptical of his assertion that it’s all banks, rather than just central banks (i.e. the Bank of England), who create money out of thin air – my understanding of the way it works is that money supply is increased when the central bank, on behalf of the government, creates new government debt (i.e. ‘gilts’) and lends that at a very low interest rate to the other banks, who then lend it on (at marginally higher rates) to consumers. The… Read more »

Cynan
Guest
Cynan

Well said. I think you should get involved with the new party as Wales needs new ideas. However unthinkable it was to the me of just a few years ago, I think Wales needs more socialism like a hole in the head. A free market system which is less exploitative, with more cooperatives etc, with more emphasis on people taking responsibility for themselves is what Wales needs in my view. This whole nanny-state, council-job-for-life attitude is still rife in working class communities in anglicised Wales and it does nothing but harm. There is a distinct lack of ambition and traps… Read more »

Red Dragon Jim
Guest
Red Dragon Jim

I think this is a serious argument, though the issue is that EU member-states will only welcome new EU entrants when it suits them. On the broader issue, the far-left is getting the “Lexit” argument wrong. Socialist policies are possible inside the EU. But it is right to say that this has to be within a framework of a market economy. One of the parties in the Catalan government is socialistic and the state plays a significant role in the economy of Catalonia. I will keep pointing this out on this website but people are using “EU rules” or “state… Read more »

CapM
Guest
CapM

Whatever underlying reasons there might be for the EU not recognizing Catalunya’s desire for independence the overlying one is that Spain is the EU member. The EU didn’t/doesn’t back a desire for a united Ireland – the UK and ROI are the EU member states and because Spain and not Catalunya is the EU member state it’s not backing Catalan independence either. This would be the case regardless of the state of the EU economy. The majority of Catalans want to be part of the EU but should Catalunya become independent it could well find itself out in the cold… Read more »

JD
Guest
JD

and I am very happy that this so-called dream is now dead. It’s so funny to see Plaid squirm and look the other way now that the EU has been exposed for what it is.

Bye Leanne!

A Gog
Guest
A Gog

So you aspire to Cymru being a County of England then JD? You Clown.

JD
Guest
JD

I aspire to Wales being independent of England and the EU, you even bigger clown.

Dafis
Guest
Dafis

“Do Wales, Scotland and Catalonia have the strength of will and intellectual drive to forge a third path – truly independent nation-states strong enough to oppose the neo-liberal world order?” They should, but there again when did you last see a flying pig ? I can’t speak for Catalonia, and Scotland is a bit of a mixed bag, but dear old Wales is blighted, not by socialism, but by a strain of pseudo-socialist exhibitionism, which only coincidentally or occasionally protects and fosters the interests of communities up and down the country. We are now blessed with cliques of political operators… Read more »

Capitalist and Welshnash
Guest
Capitalist and Welshnash

Oops, Thatcher was right about something and Wales was blinded by hatred and all she did wrong to see it.

The EU, while it has kept an unprecedented peace, a business relationship, nothing more, and they dont care about your culture. You have to depend on your self in this world if you want to survive. Socialism is merely another means for some to gain positions of power and influence by exploiting the weak, nothing more.

leigh richards
Guest

Why would the labour party lead a campaign for ‘true independence’ for wales chris? last time i checked labour in wales are as committed to preserving the british union as their counterparts in scotland. And by ‘a increasingly euro sceptic labour party’ i take it you mean labour under jezza caving into the xenophobic british right in supporting the ending of free movement for workers. Something which will split families of eu nationals in the uk and which places a frightening danger mark over their right to remain in the uk (among them thousands in wales who play a vital… Read more »

Chris Paul
Guest

The editorial team made some edits to my article- to make it clearer and fit house style- but the caveats you mention about brexit are on the original leigh. https://medium.com/@crischarliepaul/is-an-independent-wales-in-the-eu-even-realistic-anymore-8de022af614d

Adam York
Guest
Adam York

Enthusiasm of Farage and other falangists to break up the EU must mean something worth salvaging Eg regulating and fining Uber,Amazon,Microsoft et al.Smashing up of Greece was clear signal of the limitations/German lock-on to Euro. Most of Cymru’s challenges are about carving a sensible deal out of the UK Union,or ultimately a lot more autonomy.As a country quite a bit going for it,if a tad short of self confidence,north-south rail+road and with post industrial stuff to pay for. Catalunya’s dissent is heavily rooted in Spain’s fragility as a nation state(similar to Italy).Failure to deal with Franco legacy at all(The Pact… Read more »

Tame Frontiersman
Guest
Tame Frontiersman

Any dream of Wales using the EU as a route out of the UK would seem to be dead – except for some miracle in the emergency room. Ditto for EU as cradle for some new world economic order. The EU was born out of a better world idealism post WWII. For many the “dream” has become the stuff of nightmares #You can check out any time you like, But you can never leave! (Eagles- Hotel California) The ring of twelve gold stars on a blue background: “One Ring to rule them all……….and in the darkness bind them” (JRR Tolkien… Read more »

Red Dragon Jim
Guest
Red Dragon Jim

I really contest this. The EU is not a nightmare. It has led to more prosperity,
better rights, and higher standards.
Even the Greeks, Portuguese etc want to stay.

Jonathan Edwards
Guest
Jonathan Edwards

“If Catalonia leaves Spain, Spain would lose 20% of its economy and the country’s ability to pay back the debt it owes would be in serious doubt. Spain could become a massive Greece that the EU could not bail out.” Who says? As we started to sort with Scotland, the seceding country – does not simply disappear in a puff of smoke – Scotland/Catalunya negotiate a fair share of the debt – they then repay it. Like “velvet” (the separation of Slovakia and the Czech Republic). So, Count 1 – wrong. “The Euro would be in crisis once more, and… Read more »

Dafydd ap Gwilym
Guest

It is not acceptable for one nation to dictate to another when the people of that nation decide otherwsie.

Wales is not anywhere near Scotland let alone Catalunya, but to continue to be entangled in with the turning more evil by the day, right wing capitallist movements holding sway in many countries around the Earth is harmful to everyone’s health and safety.

So, I take it from what you are saying is that we shoule basically keep working hard, be humble and be damned if we raise our hand to question anything.

Jonathan Edwards
Guest
Jonathan Edwards

Dafydd ap G i certainly do not think we in Wales should “keep working hard, be humble and be damned if we raise our hand to question anything.” I am saying – don’t worry about Catalunya, they are in a win-win situation. They either get independence and can join the EU or they stay in Spain with a better deal. Both are better than what they have now. – do worry about Wales. Certainly we should raise our hand and demand Statehood (US/Germany/Basque/Catalan Style) or, in the Queen’s English “Dominion Status” meaning the same as Statehood. Now here is the… Read more »

Darren Thomas
Guest
Darren Thomas

I am one of a rare breed in Welsh politics. I am a member of Plaid Cymru but I have always been a Eurosceptic. The EU has no answer to the Welsh national question. I have never seen the EU as some kind of bulwark against Westminster rule. In fact, I see it as an obstacle to the self determination of all stateless nations in Europe. Plaid always played down independence. Saying it was a 19th century concept while Baltic and Balkan nation-states were arising out of old power blocks. At the same time Plaid were aspiring to become a… Read more »