Let Catalonia Decide

The Independent reports Spanish police storm Catalan government buildings to stop independence referendum.

As MishTalk's Mike Shedlock details, the Catalan president described the raids as a “co-ordinated police assault” and a “de facto state of emergency”.

Spanish national police have stormed ministries and buildings belonging to Catalonia’s regional government to put a stop to the region’s independence referendum.


In the early hours of the morning armed officers arrived at various Catalan ministries, including the economy department, foreign affairs department, and social affairs department, Spanish media reports.


At least twelve Catalan officials are said to have been arrested, including the chief aide to Catalonia’s deputy prime minister, Josep Maria Jové. The arrests come as the mayors of Catalan towns who back the referendum were yesterday questioned by state prosecutors.


Pro-independence crowds have formed outside the regional ministries in support of the provincial government and in protest against the raids and searches.


Speaking at lunchtime Carles Puigdemont, the president of the Catalonian government, said the Spanish government had “de facto suspended” home rule in the province.

Spanish Assembly Rejects Use of Force

The tactics of prime minister Mariano Rajoy have not won him any popularity contests.

The Spanish national assembly on Wednesday rejected a motion to support the Spanish government’s heavy-handed response to the the referendum by 166 votes against to 158 in favor, after the centre-left opposition party PSOE teamed up with left-wingers Podemos and smaller separatist parties in the parliament.


After news of the raids broke on Wednesday, separatist political parties, as well as Podemos, cancelled all their planned political events for the rest of the day.


“It is unacceptable for there to be political prisoners in a European democracy. The Partido Popular leads us to an authoritarian regression that cannot be tolerated,” a spokesperson for Podemos said on social media.

Government Suspended

The Guardian reports Catalan president says Madrid is suspending region’s autonomy.

The Catalan president has accused the Spanish government of effectively suspending the region’s autonomy and declaring a de facto state of emergency. Police officers raided Catalan government offices on Wednesday and arrested 12 senior officials in a bid to stop an independence referendum being held in less than two weeks’ time.


Carles Puigdemont described the raids as a “a co-ordinated police assault” that showed that Madrid “has de facto suspended self-government and applied a de facto state of emergency” in Catalonia.


Speaking after an emergency ministerial meeting, Puigdemont vowed the poll would go ahead, adding: “We reaffirm our peaceful response. The Spanish government has crossed a red line and become a democratic disgrace.”


The mayor of Barcelona, Ada Colau, tweeted: “Searching public bodies and arresting officials for political reasons is a democratic scandal. We defend Catalan institutions.”

Mayor of Barcelona, Ada Colau

Mayor Colau is against independence but she does want to allow the vote.

What if Britain treated Scotland the way Spain treats Catalonia?

UK MP Daniel Hannon hits the nail on the head with his Telegraph piece on Europhiles.

Imagine that, instead of agreeing terms with Alex Salmond on an independence referendum, David Cameron had prosecuted him. Suppose Tory MPs had called for troops to be deployed to prevent a vote, and for Scots to be Anglicised. Scottish voters would have felt, with justice, that they were being treated as conquered vassals and the United Kingdom would have cracked apart.


Incredibly, Spanish conservatives are taking this line on Catalonia. For many on the Spanish Right, hostility to separatism is the core of their beliefs. They justify their inflexibility by pointing to the letter of the constitution, which forbids such plebiscites, but their motive is more atavistic than legalistic. Paradoxically, they are creating the very thing they purport to oppose. You persuade people to stay by making clear they are free to leave.

Rajoy’s tactics have done nothing but drum up support for independence.

Catalonia Shortchanged?

In Catalonia’s case, the regional government says that Madrid shortchanged it by somewhere in the range of €11 billion to €15 billion in 2011 (between €1,500 and €2,000 per capita), depending on how one does the calculations. The central government countered by saying the gap was only €8.5 billion.

By the Spanish government’s own admission, Catalonia is shortchanged.

Those are 2011 numbers, from a 2015 article in Fortune, but I have seen nothing more recent.

A September 2017 BBC article, referenced below, mentions the same numbers.

Region or Nation?

With its own language, a recorded history of more than 1,000 years as a distinct region, and a population nearly as big as Switzerland’s (7.5 million), Catalonia’s claim to nationhood is serious.

The above snip from the BBC report Catalonia’s Collision Course with Madrid.

I support that view. More importantly, so do 700 mayors in the region.

Let the voting begin.

Which leaves us with the simple question - as the Spanish government attempts to 'save' the Catalan people from 'themselves' - Should Catalonia be independent?

As The Mises Institute's Jeff Deist explains, surely Catalans, and nobody else, must answer that question.

Some Catalans consider themselves Spanish and some don’t. Many Spaniards consider Catalonia part of Spain, while some don’t. But it’s clear that a significant number of Catalans feel politically conquered, and resent it. Why should they live under a Spanish government, when their history, culture, and language are not Spanish?

It’s a fair question, and one for which western democracies have no easy answer. If democratic voting is sacrosanct, are the results also sacrosanct, whatever the outcome? Do democrats really want democracy?

Ludwig von Mises summed up the problem succinctly in Liberalism:

The situation of having to belong to a state to which one does not wish to belong is no less onerous if it is the result of an election than if one must endure it as the consequence of a military conquest.

Certainly many Hillary Clinton voters in the United States feel this way today. They don’t consider Trump a legitimate president (even aside from the electoral college issue), and are not particularly interested in respecting election results or the views of Trump voters. They feel “their” government not only does not represent them, but is actively hostile toward them.

They feel, in short, like many Catalans.

Understanding any region’s local politics and history is always a dangerous proposition for outsiders. Catalonia has a messy and complex past, dating back to the late 15th century and the nascent Kingdom of Spain. Momentum for independence from Madrid gathered throughout the 20th century, culminating in a 2014 referendum which the Spanish central government attempted to block in court. Over 80% of voters supported independence, yet only about a third of Catalans participated in the vote. It is unclear whether a scheduled October 1st vote on a new referendum will happen, given the possibility of Spanish criminal charges against the Catalan politicians behind it.

Should Secession Be Allowed for Groups We Disagree With? 

There are also very serious questions about what an independent Catalonia would mean, not only for economically wobbly Spain but also neighboring France and the EU.

Marta Hidalgo, a Spanish financial adviser and 2017 Mises University graduate, argues that Catalonia is Spain. She questions the region’s historical claims to independence, arguing that Catalan nationalism has been fraught with propaganda from those seeking to make a political movement out of a minority sentiment. She also points out that Spain is Catalonia’s principal market, propping up the Catalan economy through duties and tariffs on (otherwise) cheaper and better imports from England or Germany. And she stresses polls showing only about 2 million out of 7.5 million Catalans support secession.

But these arguments don’t address the fundamental underlying issue of self-determination. Should Catalans be allowed to make their own decisions, even if those decisions are “bad,” and we (or Spain or the EU) disagree with them?

Yes, some people would be worse off under an independent Catalan state — assuming Ms. Hidalgo is correct. But by the same token, some Spaniards may be objectively better off as a result of becoming unyoked politically from Catalonia. It’s a complex factual question, and both sides have arguments.

But whether an independent Catalonia would be better off or worse off is highly subjective, and simply not for us to decide.

Self-Determination Is the Highest Political End

For libertarians, self-determination is the highest political end. In political terms, self-determination is liberty. In an ideal world, self-determination extends all the way to the individual, who enjoys complete political sovereignty over his or her life. The often misued term for this degree of complete self-determination is anarchy.

In an imperfect world, however, libertarians should support smaller and more decentralized governments as a pragmatic step toward greater liberty. Our goal should be to devolve political power whenever possible, making states less powerful and easier to avoid. Barcelona is less ominous than Madrid. The Legislature in a US state is less fearsome than Congress in Washington DC. Street gangs are bad, but they can be avoided in ways Uncle Sam cannot.

Ultimately, the argument in favor of Catalonian independence mirrors the argument for Scottish independence in 2014:

Some … libertarians claimed that we should oppose the referendum on the grounds that it would create a new government, and thus two states would exist in the place of one. But reducing the size and scope of any single state’s dominion is healthy for liberty, because it leads us closer to the ultimate goal of self-determination at the individual level, to granting each of us sovereignty over our lives. It’s always good to reduce the number of individuals over which any government asserts authority.


Furthermore, some conservatives argue that we should not support secession movements where the breakaway movement is likely to create a government that is more “liberal” than the one it replaces. This was the case in Scotland, where younger Scots who supported the independence referendum in greater numbers hoped to create strong ties with the EU parliament in Brussels and build a Scandinavian-style welfare state run from Holyrood (never mind that Tories in London were overjoyed at the prospect of jettisoning a huge number of Labour supporters!).


But if support for the principle of self-determination is to have any meaning whatsoever, it must allow for others to make decisions with which we disagree. Political competition can only benefit all of us. What neither progressives nor conservatives understand — or worse, maybe they do understand — is that secession provides a mechanism for real diversity, a world where we are not all yoked together. It provides a way for people with widely divergent views and interests to live peaceably as neighbors instead of suffering under one commanding central government that pits them against each other.

So let Catalonia go, if it chooses.


EddieLomax svayambhu108 Thu, 09/21/2017 - 06:03 Permalink

Got to love the line from the libertarians "is that secession provides a mechanism for real diversity"Just after WW2 millions of Germans were ejected from lands they had lived in for hundreds of years even though they were not part of the state that had started WW2.  It seems that diversity was a problem then, but a good thing now?It seems we are bankrupt intellectually today along with morally and fiscally.

In reply to by svayambhu108

Ghordius EddieLomax Thu, 09/21/2017 - 06:23 Permalink

+1that's the problem with libertarian lines in general, isn't it? a bit like listening to a backseat driver... that won't ever take any responsibilitylovable rascals, all of them. and they often deliver good criticism. but... it has to be handled with carewhen it comes to take a less then easy stance... oh, look, squirrel! and... you don't see themwhere are they when Nazis talk? elsewhere. where are they when less-then-cherished countries are invaded? elsewheretake something hard as example, something that makes every pro-Russian ZH account vince: Chechnyahard to love that country, isn't it? now, is Russia going to let that... go? no way, Jose. do you see libertarians asking Russia to let that valuable strategic place be independent? forget it.(it would be like asking China to give up Tibet, their "Water Tower" and supremely strategic position vs India. but try to explain that to Hollywood's "bold and beautifuls". Or... do you remember South Sudan? eh...)it's the nice places, like Catalonia (or those that can make something libertarians dislike unconfortable) that they ask to be freebackseat drivers supreme, always moaning about so many things, receptive to all that "globalism" fuzzy talk, and yet... meddling with Righteous Opinions in Other, Foreign People's Affairs of their choice: my definition of the lovable libertarian rascals

In reply to by EddieLomax

God Emperor debtor of last… Thu, 09/21/2017 - 08:02 Permalink

The Catalans are a bunch of gay loving, refugee loving, diversity loving shaboys. And in debt up to their ears.They want independence just because Madrid imposed some austerity and they can't live la vida loca like before the 2008 crisis.Wanting independence but staying in EU, keeping the Euro and wanting more rapefugees and diversity tells us some ((leftist)) powers are behind the whole charade.Spain needs Franco 2.0

In reply to by debtor of last…

fleur de lis God Emperor Thu, 09/21/2017 - 10:05 Permalink

Agree 100%.This movement has all the earmarks of Bolshevism, socialism, although the egomaniacs who are organizing it have not thought through the ramifications.It was the NWO puppet Woodrow Wilson who assisted in the proliferation of civil chaos based on ethnic differences.At that time many European groups lived within four Empires, so Wilson pushed for "self deterimination." 

In reply to by God Emperor

ultraticum fleur de lis Thu, 09/21/2017 - 18:11 Permalink

It's like the Kalifornia separation movement (i.e. the libtards think the nearly-as-degenerate US Fed.gov is holding back their uber-utopian agenda). But we should let them separate - live and let live, lest they resist our own initiatives to create a breakaway free (non) State.  The world will not be free until the dirty patchwork of authoritarian nations dissolves into thousands/millions of smaller units, voluntarily populated by the like-minded - who are always free to leave.

In reply to by fleur de lis

Mister Ponzi Ghordius Thu, 09/21/2017 - 08:06 Permalink

A classical case of fake news. Just because the Saudis sent in jihadists to fight Russia does not mean Chechens wanted independece. Indeed, it has been shown over and over again that the majority of people in Chechenya did not support independence. But don't let facts disturb your prejudices.That's the reason by the way while all those principled liberals support indepence in places like Kosovo but reject the exactly same situation in, say, Transnistria.

In reply to by Ghordius

Ghordius Mister Ponzi Thu, 09/21/2017 - 09:06 Permalink

mehhow easy that it is, to call "fake news" whenever anything is slightly more complicated then what can be explained in one simple sentencesee the history of the Chechen Republic of Ichkeria (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chechen_Republic_of_Ichkeria)declaration of independence: Nov 1st, 1991First Chechen War: Dec 11th, 1994Second Chechen War: Aug 20th, 2000now... part of the Russian Federation. now... which prejudices again? I have some cherished ones, yes. One of them is that there is always someone trying to put anything Russian in the very best light and... call for fake news, and come with "But don't let facts disturb your prejudices" whenever they feel that Russia is being attacked. thank you for re-inforcing my prejudices... I guessRussia, be it the Russian Empire in the 1870s or the Russian Federation in 2000, "embraces" (yeach) Chechnya for one simple reason: geopolitical/strategical locationmy point... was a different one, if you read againbut thanks for the point: Saudis helped Chechen separatists / jihadists against Russian national interests

In reply to by Mister Ponzi

World Cash Day Ghordius Thu, 09/21/2017 - 08:57 Permalink

Not sure what you're babbling about but as a libertarian Catalonia should definitely have their referendum, and if they want to have their independence they should have it.

As for Chechnya, a completely different situation. An insurgency funded and armed by The Criminal Bush Family and their Saudi mates likes Bandar Bush heading Saudi intelligence.

It was an externally driven insurgency just like the crap in Syria over the past six years.

In reply to by Ghordius

Ghordius World Cash Day Thu, 09/21/2017 - 09:19 Permalink

thank you for the confirmation of my point. I read it this way:"as a libertarian" I am "Not sure what you're babbling about" (read: no idea about details, reasons, or even bothering to read and reflect what you wrote) "Catalonia should definitely have their referendum" (because as a libertarian I always ask for referenda, whenever, whatever)why a completely different situation? so interesting. there was a Chechnya. then Russia annexed the place in the 1870's. then there was again a republic, there, which then turned in an Islamic republic and, after two wars, it's part of Russia againRussian blood spilled because of the immensely important strategic location of that place for Russia. not because of it's population. which delivers the biggest contingent of jihadists worldwideif I was convinced of your good will in this comment, I'd flip a "grow up and smell the coffee". but my prejudice says that whenever someone contradicts "the very best way to put Russia to the ignorant", the "Pravda"... some comment comes with "not sure what you are babbling about" and.... puts it in a better light. a good, crafty comment, usually, like yours

In reply to by World Cash Day

Joe A EddieLomax Thu, 09/21/2017 - 06:26 Permalink

Many of these Germans living in the East welcomed the state that started WWII with open arms when its army arrived. That did not really go down well with the natives. And war is revenge upon revenge upon revenge. I feel sorry for these Germans how they were ejected but that was a consequence of war. War, what is it good for?Btw, secession in Yugoslavia was used as a means to ethnically cleanse former YU republics from "undesired ones". There was nothing "culturally diverse" about that. It was a means to get rid of people. But in the end, there were no libertarians there. But I even wonder if they even really claim that anyway.

In reply to by EddieLomax

Ghordius Joe A Thu, 09/21/2017 - 06:35 Permalink

+1   "War, what is it good for?"sadly, war is good for the business related to war. you know, the same business that urges everybody to buy weaponswhich is nothing else then "If you strive for peace, prepare for war"yes, individuals buy guns, following that advice. finebut what do... nation states? small nation states like the possibly independent Catalonia?they join alliances, don't they? because... of other, bigger, less-then-friendly other states/alliancesand this is where the whole libertarian Peace & Independence concept breaks a bit down: the realites, aka RealPolitik of other Nation Stateslast time in Spain, their Civil War attracted Uncle Joe Stalin, Uncle Benito Mussolini and Uncle Adolf Hitler, with a lot of mercs, pretend volunteers and real volunteersjust a reminder of things that can happen, and should not be repeated just for "fun" and "high/righteous principles"

In reply to by Joe A

Joe A Ghordius Thu, 09/21/2017 - 07:13 Permalink

There is no business like war business after all. In terms of profit and human suffering.What is the notion of a nation? In Bosnia, through my work I learned to be very careful with that phrase. To them in the former YU, nation is "people". I think the Catalans consider themselves that way as well. YU is a prime example btw. where things along religious and historical lines go wrong in an otherwise ethnically and genetically similar area. Apart from minorities, there is genetically little difference between Croats, Serbs and "Bosniaks". The same is probably true for Spaniards and Catalans.The civil war in Spain was ideological. This Catalan struggle is "national", as in people as a nation. A bit scary and all. The danger in Spain as well as in the rest of Europe is the Balkanization of the place. Tito tried to solve it by having people mix and by surpressing nationalistic tendencies. In the end that all failed because of the artificial construct that YU was and the need of people as nations to seek independence despite being genetically the same. Does the EU await the same fate? Hope not. In the end, humans are tribal. Hard to erase that. Humans will always find something and rationalize that in order to set them apart from others. 

In reply to by Ghordius

DisorderlyConduct Joe A Thu, 09/21/2017 - 09:22 Permalink

Humans ARE tribal as you observe. But you talk about it like it's a bad thing. It's not a good thing nor is it a bad thing - it's just a thing.Nations need nationalism. The alignment of its citizens for the 'big tribe'. When they forget this, nations dissolve into smaller tribes. To the extent that getting bigger helps and people feel connected, this is good. To the extent that getting smaller helps, this is good.People tend to think that things would, could and should remain the same but nothing in nature does that. Life is change.

In reply to by Joe A

Ghordius Debugas Thu, 09/21/2017 - 06:59 Permalink

correction: every independence starts with... will. political willexample: Indialook, you can draw an image of Jesus Christ wearing ammo belts and brandishing an AK-47 and some will kind of "believe" such an imagebut... can you do the same with more recent figures like Gandhi?without looking silly?

In reply to by Debugas

Jambo Mambo Bill Thu, 09/21/2017 - 05:48 Permalink

Like I said... NOTHING is going to happen, except some Catalan Politicias going to jail ! Spain always had a strong grip on its other ethnically different regions (Different than European Arabs mix type). Madrid colonizes its regions by migrating Government friendly low IQ staff and politicians to these 'separatist' regions and making life for locals unbearable, until Locals immigrate elsewhere... ask the Bascos and Galicians... Catalonia is just the last one that Spain will start a long deconstruction process... Forget about great Barcelona, Spain will destroy it in no time... Spain's government Elite is a backwards bunch with a middle ages mentality mix with middle eastern Arab and North African genes, basically morons. It is the closest thing in the Christian Europe to a tyrannic Islamic shit hole.Spaniards with Brains, most of the descendants of the old Romans and Germanic tribes that used to leave in Iberia immigrated to the new World or other parts of Europe to flee Spanish authoritarian Government that wants to control everything, destroy innovation and colonize anything different than Bull lovers and Gypsies looking people... Don't believe me ? Check the immigration numbers from the last 300 years from the Basco and Galician regions, and you will see that 80%+ of the native population LEFT !

Benjamin123 Jambo Mambo Bill Thu, 09/21/2017 - 08:16 Permalink

Actually most spaniards that colonized the new world were from either the canary island or andalucia. The ports and the sailors were all in the south anyway. You can tell by the way spanish is spoken in south america, with an andalucian pronunciation.https://halshs.archives-ouvertes.fr/halshs-00103072/Later on the 19th and 20 centuries there were emigration waves from the rest of spain, including galicia and the basque country. But the original settlers from the 16th century onwards were from andalucia, and these are the darkest skinned spaniards you will find. 

In reply to by Jambo Mambo Bill

GreatUncle Thu, 09/21/2017 - 05:43 Permalink

Now why would a Catalonian want to be Spanish seeing as the Spanish have actually ceded sovereignty to the EU?Open borders and all that ...I am along the line we need a "Free British Parliament", FBP catchy too just like I was a Catalonian seeing as the UK government has done exactly what the Spanish government regarding sovereignty and constitution.Palatable if the EU commission is forced to resign en-masse and replaced with an elected one from the elected members of the EU parliament.Not allowed ... denied ... it was designed for elites to control the whole EU population, never for the population to have a say in those things that affect their lives. 

Umh Ghordius Thu, 09/21/2017 - 08:10 Permalink

The human though process is involved and that results in complications. Separatist want to assume the role of their nation state which includes participating in the EU.

More practically a separatist area that is strong enough to immediately assume all of the functions of government is probably in control of its nation state.

In reply to by Ghordius

OverTheHedge Ghordius Thu, 09/21/2017 - 10:51 Permalink

The Scots loathe and despite the English, in an extreme!y biggoted, or racist way. That is why they want independence. They feel they have been used and abused for the last thousand years, and they may not be entirely wrong. Rationally, independence is a mad idea, but there is little rational in this sort of thing. I would think the same applies for Catalonia. If everyone plays nice, it would make little difference, but you can guarantee that there will be parties on both sides trying to cause as much trouble as possible, because of centuries of hate and violence.People are very tribal, and not very rational.

In reply to by Ghordius

ZorroHedge Thu, 09/21/2017 - 05:48 Permalink

And what do you do with the capital Barcelona ? Most of the people there want to stay in Spain. So will we now have a Catalonia without a Barcelona ? In true democracy there is no reason for Barcelona to be part of Catalonia if its citizens don't want that.