Saturday, October 07, 2017

Spaniards', EU's hardline sentiments are scary for freedom in Europe

The tensions in Catalonia are primarily a reflection of a nationality or nation within the Kingdom of Spain that feels to be sufficiently different from the rest of Spain and insufficiently respected when it comes to the political rights and fiscal independence, among a few other things.

Despite the omnipresent politically correct campaign against "nationalism" that the EU-style forces are bombarding everyone with, it's normal and healthy for people to belong to a nation – and for them to consider this relationship important. Patriotism or the love for one's homeland aren't dirty words. Secession is nothing new, either. A big part of the history is full of it. In recent decades, Kosovo Albanians were encouraged by the U.S. and the EU to separate from Serbia even without any referendum. In fact, Belgrade underwent the "humanitarian bombardment", as Madeleine Albright called it. For some reasons, she isn't calling for the humanitarian bombardment of Madrid these days. The EU saw nothing wrong about these brutal interventions into Serbia's internal affairs.



"Your Face Has a Famous Voice", a remake of an originally Spanish contest, became popular in Czechia. There have been many much better remakes than this one-week-old Macarena.

In the same way, the EU saw nothing wrong about interventions into Polish internal affairs – when its lawmakers (where Law and Justice enjoyed a constitutional majority) were debating constitutional changes of procedures involving judges; and Hungarian internal affairs (where some new duties were codified for NGOs and foreign-owned schools). These central European countries are being constantly harassed and threatened by prosecution by other EU member states, perhaps expulsion, because of their "attack on the European values". Along with Czechia and perhaps Slovakia, Hungary and Poland are also being constantly harassed by the EU for their refusal to join the mad project invented in several Western European capitals to intentionally Islamize the European continent. A basic point of their sovereignty – the right to decide who can move to their territory – is being mocked if not ignored despite the nearly universal and geographically uniform consensus of these countries about these matters.

But when 2-3 millions of Catalans, the active part of a whole nation or nationality within Spain, are violently suppressed just for their desire to quantify their own opinions about the status and future of the community, the European Union thinks it's important "not to intervene into Spanish internal affairs". The hypocrisy and double standards are just absolutely staggering. I sympathize with the Catalans regardless of their ideological flavor and agree with their right to decide about the existential aspects of their future, especially if they're considered a separate entity not only by themselves but also by the rest of Spain whose behavior became downright hostile in recent days.




Just yesterday, Spain has approved a measure that simplifies the relocation of companies' headquarters out of Catalonia. This can in no way be interpreted as a political difference. These are actual malicious acts that are designed to harm the Catalan economy. Spain has already switched to the war regime of thinking. It clearly treats Catalonia as an enemy. Can a morally decent person doubt the right of Catalonia to secede in such a situation? I don't think so.

Yesterday's Spanish government's decree allowing the speedy transfer of the headquarters is utterly criminal and conflicts with some basic rules of capitalism as we have known it for a very long time. In particular, the address of the headquarters is a part of the corporate charter of the company.

That's a rather serious rule defining the company which is why the address of the company, like any rule in the corporate charter, requires a general meeting of shareholders. They must actually vote about the relocation – or any other change of the corporate charter. Such changes cannot be decided by the management. This fact isn't just some random formality. The general meeting of the shareholders is needed because it is them who actually owns the company. The relocation of the company might mean that the managers steal the beef of the company from the shareholders. It could just disappear somewhere. That's why in a decent society, such profound changes of the corporation simply cannot be made without a general meeting of shareholders.

By adopting this "simplified" rule, Spain ceased to be a decent country that respects the private ownership in the usual Western sense. And again, needless to say, the reason why it happened is self-evidently an attempt to choke the Catalans, to strip them of their wealth and desire to resist the oppression. Spain is already fighting a war, although so far it's "just" the civil guards and economic hostilities that are being used as weapons. And the very assumption that "Spain is safer than Catalonia" that is included in the relocation scheme is just another part of the war propaganda. It is approximately equally justified or unjustified for companies' headquarters to escape Spain, to Catalonia or elsewhere towards the center of Europe.




If these criminal acts were isolated exercises performed by the prime minister or the "king" or other apparatchiks, one could view the events as some exceptions, anomalies that sometimes result from loons that get to the power for a while. Wiser European countries could prepare plans to assassinate the prime minister or the "king" if things were getting started to surpass Spain's borders, if they were even more serious and out of control. But that's obviously not what's happening in Spain.

The hardline behavior of the Spanish government and the hostile, violent speech by the "king" (sorry, I just find it funny to use this medieval jargon for politicians in the 21st century – this silly terminology has been banned in my country in 1918 so I am using the quotes) is just a reflection of the widespread mood in the Spanish society. Some polls indicate that 50% of Spaniards approve of the violence last Sunday while 50% don't. The numbers themselves would indicate a "tie" which is "not so bad".

However, this 50-to-50 split is really not describing the situation on the ground – for the same reason why it doesn't matter that just a small percentage of the Muslims are terrorists. The reason is that the hardline half of the Spanish nation is much more combative, self-confident, and bullies everyone else. It feels more relevant today and it is more relevant, indeed. When it comes to their actual power – that often builds on their alliance with the government and the "king" – they may hold some 90% of the real power in Spain these days.

The Spanish nation has switched into the war mood. @CataloniaHelp2, a Twitter account, has posted several incredible videos that show how far this mood has come. Aside from the numerous scary pictures of the violence last Sunday, I was shocked by the bus with the military police that was shouting or singing "go for them". They behave as thugs who display absolutely no professionalism and they were happy that they would be able to beat some citizens of Spain who belong to a nationality – and who pay 25% of the salary of these "military cops". They look exactly like the soccer ultras who should be challenged by the police in civil countries.

I find it terrible because men doing this kind of work should still feel the pressure to be professionals. So they're not really looking forward to such violent days. True professionals don't really like beating people, especially not people defined just by their nationality and/or their desire to peacefully express their political opinion. And moreover, professionals like that are constantly afraid that if they use disproportionate force, they will be in trouble. These thugs clearly don't face any pressure like that. The idea that "you can beat the crap out of your Catalan without any fear or restrictions" is self-evidently a mainstream, dominant idea in these enforcement forces and in Spain in general.

Another shocking video from that Twitter channel is the pledge of allegiance to the flag that was filmed in the Montijo Fruit Company in the Extremadura region next to Portugal. On the background of the Spanish anthem, these fruitcake employees pompously march and salute to the Spanish flag just like if they were some important Nazis. If there were hints that this video is a satire, I would immediately believe that it must be a satirical stunt, indeed. The video from the fruit company looks almost just like this funny satirical video about Spanish politics that was aired on Polonia TV3, a Catalan TV station.

Except that everything indicates that the fruit company "pledge of allegiance" is genuine. Employees of fruit companies really have to "pledge their allegiance" to the Spanish symbols and indirectly the hardline politics of Madrid these days. Some of them really enjoy it, others are manipulated. But regardless of the ratios, this fruit company video shows a textbook example of fascism:
Fascism /ˈfæʃɪzəm/ is a form of radical authoritarian nationalism,[1][2] characterized by dictatorial power, forcible suppression of opposition and control of industry and commerce[3] that came to prominence in early 20th-century Europe.
The Spanish government is being placed above everyone else, with no doubts allowed, while the opposition is suppressed by brute force. On top of that, the industry and commerce are being controlled by the regime. In non-fascist countries, one can work in a fruit company – or almost any other job – regardless of his or her opinions about the current Spanish government and its policies. But when the "right opinions" become de facto mandatory even in regular jobs such as those in fruit companies, you know that fascism has already taken over your country.

Spain is a country on the periphery of Europe – when Mr Günther Öttinger said that Spain or Catalonia are "in the middle of Europe", it suggests that he hasn't seen the map of Europe for quite some time – but it's still a part of the European Union. On top of that, the European Union has basically supported the fascist policies of the Spanish government.



Sabadell, Catalonia, 2012. "Ode To Joy" on the street, the de facto EU anthem. Imagine how much the Catalans' relations to the EU must have soured in recent days relatively to that 2012 day, for example.

The rule of law could always be a powerful argument and there could be an alternative history in which I would have some understanding or tolerance for a similar reaction by the EU. But we live in the real history and it's impossible not to compare the European Union's reaction to its reaction to other things. So the "big words and principles" are being used in various ways but it's still possible to measure how the application of all these principles is calibrated. And the calibration is catastrophic. We have simply seen that the fascist treatment of the Catalan opposition is OK with the key Brussels officials; but the Central European countries' totally legitimate decision to preserve the asylum policies as they were valid for a long time is not OK.

Countries like Spain that demonstrably suppress the rights of millions of innocent people cannot be "intervened into" from the rest of Europe while countries like Poland and Hungary and perhaps Czechia obviously can. Do I find it safe in the medium and long term to belong to this European Union? I obviously don't, and neither do most of Czechs – between 74% and 90% favor the Catalan independence, according to various polls at Czech news servers. We're generally against fascism, for the freedom of speech and right to assembly, against centralization, for local decisions, against dramatic changes of demographics, for careful immigration policies, against hysterical environmental or climate alarmist regulations, for cheap energy, and so on, and so on. And we see the rough bias that the European Union exposes by denouncing or support various events in the EU member states. So this mixture obviously is dangerous for us. It is self-evident that the government in Madrid and other capitals has some "special, nepotist relationship" with Brussels while Budapest and Warsaw don't have it. It's impossible to overlook that the Poles and Hungarians are treated as 2nd class nations within the European Union – relatively to Spain. Europhiles have often told us to celebrate the centralized EU line on many questions in order to preserve our influence within the EU. And there's surely something right about this correlation. But it doesn't change the fact that it's still wrong for a political union to allow this kind of nepotism, cliques of people, politicians, and whole nations that effectively have lower rights or less dignity than others.

Now, these questions are polarizing Europe in a certain way that differs from the most recent left-to-right and other splits. It is very clear that Britons are much more likely to support the Catalan independence than the Spaniards or even the French. Britons support the Catalan independence because the right-wingers see Catalonia's analogy with Brexit; and Scottish separatists who were against Brexit see the similarity with their own independence movement. Czechs see an analogy with the occupation of the Czech lands in 1938 and the occupation by the Soviet-led forces in 1968. Madrid's treatment of Catalonia increasingly resembles both. In fact, the brute power sent to Catalonia has basically been described as a "fraternal help" to a "silent majority" in Catalonia – well, we know what we had to call the 1968 "fraternal help" and we know that there wasn't any silent majority supporting the occupation, just like there is none in Catalonia now.

Lots of people in Spain, France, Germany etc. want to expand the power of the central governments – either the governments in the large European countries such as the members of the Munich Four; or the power of the Brussels-based EU "authorities". Which side is stronger or more numerous? Haven't we seen a similar split of the Europeans in the past?

I think that we have. It seems to me that this split increasingly resembles the situation in the late 1930s and early 1940s – the Second World War. On one hand, we have some fascism or "Axis" that really wants to centralize everything and make everyone behave in the same way. One can find tens of millions of obedient German sheep somewhere in the bulk of Germany so this side of the emerging conflict believes that it's a sufficient condition to impose all these rules, values, and policies on the rest of Europe.

And on the other hand, we have the allies that prefer to preserve the national and local specifics. If political rights of whole nations are suppressed in this flagrant way, isn't it obvious that individuals have lost an even higher fraction of their rights? What's troubling is the high positive correlation between the "shape of the axis" and "shape of the Allies" as they existed around 1941 and as they exist today.

So Spain was an early bird in the adoption of fascism and there was a Spanish Civil War in 1936-1939. Not everyone was a fascist there in the late 1930s and not everyone is a fascist there today. But fascism actually needs some enemies that "unify the people". So we can see that the Catalans are actually helpful to make the employees of fruit companies to salute. And then you have Germany, the leader of the EU, and other countries of continental Europe that didn't resist too much when Germany occupied them.

On the other hand, you have the Britons and Central and Eastern European countries – and probably Russia with some delay – that see a problem with the trend in Spain and in the EU.

Because of the linking of this dispute to the right for self-determination, there are actually lots of regions that would be more likely to end on the pro-Catalan, anti-Brussels side. It's plausible that all the regions that have seriously discussed the proposal to gain independence (even if the separatists remained a minority) – Scotland, Flanders, Padania (wealthy Northern Italy), Bavaria, and many many others – are rather likely to be "mostly anti-fascist" in the modern sense.

If the conflicts polarized in this sense will keep on escalating, I think it's very important for our, pro-freedom, pro-local, anti-fascist side to win again, like we did in 1945. The experience teaches me that we should perhaps appreciate more quickly than 85+ years ago that we will need allies like Russia at the end. The Soviet Union only entered the war against Germany in 1941 and it remained "formally ambiguous" up to that moment. But I think it's fair to say that it was almost guaranteed that Nazism, if it survived, would start a conflict with the Soviet Union soon or later. Analogously, I think it's more likely than not that if the European disputes get more serious, they will eventually become a conflict of the EU fascists against Russia – even though Russia obviously refused to recognize Catalonia now.

The degree of Russophobia among the "modern fascist side", as sketched above, is immense. Well, there are lots of anti-Russian hostilities in the U.K. as well. But I think that the continental European, "modern fascist" Axis is more hostile towards "ordinary peaceful Russians' attitudes" while the British Russophobia is more focused on the villains or the military.

So again, I am not enthusiastic about everything that Russia does or thinks and I would probably prefer not to live there even though my 2 times 2 weeks in Russia have been very nice. But the similarity of the situation to the situation around 1940 seems strong enough to me to believe that despite these Russia's imperfections, Russia will unavoidably become a natural and very important ally of the good guys in Europe once again.

God bless us.



By the way, I've repeatedly mentioned it's normal for the "regime change" to take place – for the borders or the constitutional order to get seriously modified. Czechia or Czechoslovakia has undergone lots of such changes in recent years – 1867, 1918, 1938, 1939, 1945, 1960, 1969, 1989, 1993, 2004... Most of them took place "peacefully" although a military threat was behind 1/2 of these profound events. Does the high frequency mean that this rate of changes automatically implies that nothing is left from the country after a while? Look at this history of the map of Czechia. It was bubbling a bit but look e.g. at 0:24 in the video (years 1019-1041) and 0:29 (years 1054-1260) – and also basically 1276-1289, 1306-1310. The shape of the Czech kingdom was virtually indistinguishable from the current territory of the Czech Republic (1:54). When some of the other episodes are considered fluctuations, we haven't changed our territory for 998 years. So all this fearmongering about the need to preserve every detail about the constitution is just rubbish in the long run.

Different nations have different histories, however. Look at the evolving maps of Germany. Germans have roughly inhabited the same space as well for 1,000 years. But a big difference is that up to 1871, Germany was composed of a huge number of mini-states. Did it mean some catastrophe for Germany? I don't think so. Much of the progress was peacefully taking place in these ministates. And did the centralized Germany, born primarily in 1871, bring a lot of peace to Europe? I don't think so. It has largely brought two world wars – to the whole world! So this whole paradigm that the centralization and consolidation brings peace – which is used by the pro-European Union demagogues as well as assorted fans of the Spanish union and other cases – brutally conflicts with the historical facts. If there's some correlation, the correlation is the opposite one. A really big centralization is a recipe for really big trouble. Lots of wars took place because of the struggle for centralization or because of empires' efforts to avoid dissolution – which was ultimately unavoidable in most cases. It has really been normal that the secessionist movements were the peaceful, non-violent ones. Sadly for Catalans, that nation is largely disarmed which may pose some challenges there. One reason why the violent beating of millions of people wouldn't take place in Czechia is that the government would know that over 5% of those people are legal holders of weapons and they could proportionally defend themselves. (In the sub-category of legal gun holders with concealed arms registered for self-defense, we actually beat the U.S. on the per-capita basis.) A necessary condition why Catalans were treated in this way was that the nearby bully sees that they can't really defend themselves physically. While the totally non-violent character of this struggle is said to be nice, it's often lethal, too.

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