Liberalism knows no conquests, no annexations; just as it is indifferent towards the state itself, so the problem of the size of the state is unimportant to it. It forces no one against his will into the structure of the state. (…)
State practice has gradually perverted the pacifistic nationality principle of liberalism into its opposite, into the militant, imperialistic nationality principle of oppression. It has set up a new ideal that claims a value of its own, that of the sheer numerical size of the nation. (…)
For a long time nations have been regarded as unchanging categories, and it has not been noticed that peoples and languages are subject to very great changes in the course of history. (…) For an individual, belonging to a nation is no unchangeable characteristic. One can come closer to one’s nation or become alienated from it; one can even leave it entirely and exchange it for another. (…)
Democracy is self-determination, self-government, self-rule. In a democracy, too, the citizen submits to laws and obeys state authorities and civil servants. But the laws were enacted with his concurrence; the bearers of official power got into office with his indirect or direct concurrence. The laws can be repealed or amended, officeholders can be removed, if the majority of the citizens so wishes. That is the essence of democracy; that is why the citizens in a democracy feel free.
Nation and State. Ludwig Von Mises, 1919 (emphasis mine).
Sometimes, to anticipate what your view is going to be on a subject, you just have to listen to other people’s beliefs. When I hear Macron (the paradigmatic European imperialist), Juncker (the self-declared political liar), Trump (top presidential moron in history), or Mariano “Nicolas” Rajoy, not to mention smarty pants Soraya (Spanish VP), all sustaining the same side of the contention … I know where I stand: 99.9% of the time I am going to take the opposite view. On virtually any philosophical or sociological issue: from drinking to sex, life, love or death.
Lots of people ask me how come I became a Catalan nationalist (see “Freedom for Catalonia”). I have not. I am not a nationalist. I am a liberal, and I have long endorsed the supremacy of the Austrian economist’s view of the world. Almost by definition, I happen to agree with Ludwig Von Mises most of the time. So it is not an issue of proclaiming the superiority of the Arian (Catalonian) race or any other, but a matter of profound principles.
To keep it short, I stand for most, if not all, separatist movements based on the principle of self-determination. Provided a majority backs that option (something evident at this point in Catalonia, but not the case just a year ago).
I think the paragraphs I have quoted sum it all up:
- Freedom and liberalism come before a state-size desideratum. They are superior principles. When in conflict always opt for human rights. Freedom as a quest still beats the desire for wealth -or the cowardly addiction to pragmatism now prevalent. If we concede to state needs above individual rights, it is the beginning of the end.
- There is no democracy without self-determination. The first and most critical vote for a democratic society must help determine what laws people want to submit to. Choosing their nation-state is the reason to be able to demand those citizens comply with that nation’s regulations. The French and Palestinians did not opt for Petain’s Vichy regime or the Israelian dominance. You could not expect them to obey the law if they did not choose it. We have rejected Spanish law as explicitly as we possibly could -in extraordinarily repressive circumstances (Soraya’s police corps is even harsher than Maduro’s when playing innocent population’s repression). It is not our natural law anymore. It can’t be unless a majority says so.
- The ideal state-size is not an absolute concept. Even if it was, nations are not unchanging categories because people, culture, ideas, and languages change. And it is best if they continue to do so.
- The desirable State size has evolved through history, much like the perfect, iconic female body is not what it was like when Rubens was painting. There is no such thing as a “perfect-size” for anything. Rubens liked them fat, and now we look at 90-60-90 centimeters as the perceived feminine perfection. There are no ideal measures for men either (well, admittedly, size seems to matter to ladies). Okay. No kidding now: medieval times brought the supremacy of the city-state and it is only in the 20th-century that the desire for huge sovereigns is a prevalent call (conveniently suggested by interested elites). Why is forty million pax a better size than six million?
- It is radically false to suggest that downsizing countries runs against the sign of the times. I respect that point of view -but it is wrong! I have no doubts that history will confirm this as the appropriate view. Certain situations may make it best for sovereigns to grow in size and reduce in number. At other times it might be the other way around. I strongly suggest smaller sovereigns and more coordination instead of subordination to supranational organizations. Think about it. It is not suitable for Juncker, Mariano-Nicolas, and friends: it is probably right for you!
- Even if a state size consensus can be traced to a specific time frame in history, at that particular time, there will always be different views on the ideal size for countries. The Austrian school has long advocated that small is better for sovereigns. A Keynesian establishment mandated picture would be just the opposite. One must be right, but the other proposal assuredly is not: let people judge for themselves! The “one size fits all” category is disgusting for nearly everything, above all, thinking.
- Law and justice are not the same notions. Unfair laws abound. Sometimes determining fairness can be tricky and fickle. But in some cases, it is pretty apparent. It is not a law but a swindle when they take at least five to seven percent of your GDP yearly, to subsidize the south, and that goes on for forty years with no tangible results. It is not a fair law when it says that a Catalan has to be taxed and contribute to other region’s welfare in hugely different terms to the contribution from the Basque region. In fact, it is not constitutional because it discriminates different regions within the same country. Of course, it would be hopeless to bring that up in our politically designated Constitutional Court. Montesquieu never lived in Spain. The ruling party handpicks the judiciary in true Erdogan style: no dissidents allowed.
- Law enforcement is based on two principles. Democracy, and there is no democracy without self-determination. And Fairness: there is no fairness when it discriminates between identical regions. If the law is not democratic (it has been imposed by a state that the majority of the population despises), and or it is notoriously unfair, you have “the moral obligation to disobey” (MLK).
Independence is a marathon, not a sprint.
In the short run, they call the shots. In the long term, we win. Like the French would say, “patientez”, but keep fighting oppression. It is Spanish oppression today. Some other country might be coming up on your radar screen as soon as tomorrow. On any issue confronting civil rights against legal, establishment-convenient, rulings.
Maybe they won’t allow you to kneel to protest when listening to the national anthem. Maybe it will be compulsory to shout “God save the King”, or suggest he is a smart and nice guy. It might be your country next: beware putting state desires before individual rights!
Europe is in this case, as in many other fields, a disgrace. I feel ashamed: I’d rather be ruled by Mugabwe or Erdogan -I would be better off with my civil rights. Great Britain did the right thing. Brexit will come at a hefty price -but jumping the European ship is worth every penny. If I were Theresa May I would not pay them one euro unless the negotiate on a peer to peer basis. No more European arrogance!
I always disagree with Keynes: the long run matters most. If you are economically efficient, you survive corporate moves changing a couple of things. Sovereigns and Corporations are all the same interest. Scrapping corporate tax and labor social security costs for an aggregate demand tax instead is the first hit. A lot more is possible if you have the right productive culture: like ours. The one Spain has been feasting on for decades.
We have to ignore threats and pragmatism and never accept to be subjugated. Freedom comes first. Without freedom, the rest doesn’t matter. A country that rejects fundamental civil rights is hardly your best option in a crazy, unfair world. Catalonian intifada!