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Catalonian Secession and ‘Pure’ Motives

November 6, 2014 in Economics

By Ryan McMaken


The Catalonian regional government has signaled that it plans to go ahead with a vote on secession from Spain on Sunday, November 9. The Spanish central government insists that the vote is illegal and the Spanish state will not recognize any vote for secession. (Such a blatantly anti-democratic move from a European government will prove to be interesting the next time the Spanish government waxes philosophical about the need to impose democracy in some foreign land.)

It is fitting that the vote be scheduled on the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall since that event, of course, began a process that led to the de facto secession of numerous states from what was in practice a Soviet megastate built on a system of client states throughout Eastern Europe. Hungary and Poland, et al were de jure independent states, but we all saw the reality behind that claim in 1956 in Hungary and 1968 in Prague.

I wonder, if today’s politicians in Madrid were sitting in their little velvet chairs in 1989, would they have disapproved of the Polish Solidarity vote, which essentially declared Poland to be free of Soviet rule? Or was that a “legal fraud” as the Madrid government calls the Catalonian vote? Most of the Eastern European moves toward independence were “illegal” as far as the Soviet state was concerned.  And yet, those unruly law breakers went ahead with them anyway. Those troublemakers.

“McMaken, you hack fraud,” some of my readers will say. “Don’t you know that the secessionists of Catalonia are not pure libertarians? Don’t you know many of them are even bigger socialists than the people in Madrid?” Why, yes, I am aware of this, just as I am aware of the fact that precious few of the freedom fighters in Eastern Europe were disciples of Frederic Bastiat. In fact, many of the freedom fighters, including those in Budapest in 1956 and those in Prague in 1968 were socialists in every conceivable way. Many were simply nationalists who wished to be ruled by other Hungarians or Czechs rather than by the Politburo in Moscow.

And so what? Should we therefore condemn the Hungarian Uprising because it was insufficiently pure in its motives? Should the demonstrators of East Berlin who brought down the wall been told by libertarians to get lost because they weren’t Misesians?

This is a terrible position to take and yet it is no different …read more


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