I generally support independence and self-determination for any geographic area when the majority of people who live there want to separate. Not for sentimentalist, Ramzpaulesque feel good reasons of “I support nationalism for all people,” but for other reasons which I will explain later.
There are two types who oppose Catalan independence from Spain:
The first are globalists who simply reject any form of nationalism and scoff at the very concept of countries with defined borders. There is no reason to address this group because the difference of opinion is irreconcilable on its premise. There is nothing really to discuss.
The second type includes both people who are right wing reactionary nationalists as well as their Pan-European imperialist counterparts. The Pan-European imperialists oppose local independence movements because they wish to create a European superstate (a “new Roman Empire”) and they view ethnonationalism as petty tribalism that prevents a united European continent which could challenge other world powers for global supremacy. The biggest problem with this dream is that almost no one is interested. There is no viable electoral roadmap to taking over the EU and making it into a pro-Europe institution. The votes do not even remotely exist in any of the Western European countries to make it conceivable. Perhaps an Eastern European bloc of some kind could be possible in the not to distant future, but only because those nations seem to agree to collectively respect each other’s mutual expressions of ethnonationalism and sovereignty.
The right wing reactionary nationalists are opposed to independence movements when they are leftist in nature and/or the group seeking independence itself largely promotes open borders. This argument was used against supporting Scotland independence and (to a lesser degree) Brexit. It is now being used against Catalonia. Right wing nationalists point to supporters of Catalan independence as being “commies,” radical leftists or as being for open borders (I’m not even sure to what extent this assertion is actually accurate.) Therefore they must not be allowed to secede and must be crushed. They must be forced to remain part of Spain even if they don’t want to.
However, in this scenario it would make more sense to allow them to secede. As such they would no longer be able to influence Spanish elections. Granting independence to Catalonia would thus remove a large voting bloc that is currently serving as an obstacle to Spanish nationalist success in elections and potential Spanish withdrawal from the EU. To put it another way, if California and a couple of other states were to secede from the United States, just imagine the electoral impact it would have for the remaining US. The rest of the country would suddenly be able to implement policies that would never have passed a vote otherwise, and that is to say nothing of the impact on courts and judges. When you allow people to secede whose votes are currently preventing you from creating the kind of nation you wish to live in, their exit means they can no longer vote in your elections. If they support open borders, at least they no longer have a say on whether or not to keep yours open. Catalan independence should be seen as an opportunity for Spanish nationalism rather than a threat to it.
Think of it like a roommate situation where one of your roommates invites all sorts of riff raff into the apartment every night. Now this roommate (whom you can’t stand) wants to get out of the lease. He wants to move out. Maybe you could force him to stay. After all, it’s your apartment. But if you can get by without the money he’s contributing, you could finally have the place to yourself. You’ll never have to come home and see his scummy friends raiding your fridge or eating all of your Goldfish crackers. Just think of what you could do with the living room once all your roommate’s tacky furniture is gone. Imagine how you could redecorate Spain if you didn’t have to consider Catalan’s input as to what it should look like.
Brandon Adamson is the author of Beatnik Fascism