Catalan Complexities and Contradictory Reactions Considered, at Least Briefly

Catalan confrontations

I awoke this morning a bit restless, the Catalan crisis has apparently turned violent, at least according to good old trustworthy CNN, the Russiagate promotion network (see “Catalan independence referendum in chaos as police clash with voters” by Hilary Clarke, Laura Smith-Spark, Vasco Cotovio and Isa Soares, updated this morning, the first day of what promises to be an eventful October).  Surprising, no blatant claims of Russian interference on either side of the issue.

As I scanned world news on point, I suddenly took to wondering where those who condemn Confederate Americans as traitors and insist on the destruction of all related memorials, some insisting on even the removal of tombstones, fall with respect to what is occurring in Catalonia today?  Will there be any consistency?  For example, damn Catalan traitors, kill them all and at all costs, don’t permit the erecting of memorials honoring their “martyrs”; or instead, kill the Spanish police, squashing democracy and the right to popular self-determination; “Catalan Lives Matter!!!!”  On the one hand, an Antifa-style attack on separatists, and on the other, an Antifa-style attack on alleged police brutality against minorities.  Well, in either case, cause for rioting and partying in the shelter provided by wealthy parents’ lawyers and an enamored mainstream media.  And no matter what, “Down with Trumpian Crypto-Fascists!!!  It’s all their fault, and the Russians too!!!”

But seriously:

In both cases (the Confederate and the Catalan) the issues are complex but presented as simplistic.  For some of us there are no right answers in either case, only wrong ones, although independent ancillary issues have obviously transcendent importance.  In the Civil War it was the end of slavery which only became an objective long after the war had started.  Separatist movements for diverse reasons had always existed in the newly minted united States, including one in New England (which voted to secede during the War of 1812).  Indeed, many founding fathers (including Thomas Jefferson and Aaron Burr), as well as newly cast heroes such as Andrew Jackson and Davy Crockett expected the Union to eventually break up into at least three separate republican empires, the North merging with Canada, the South merging with Mexico (and even the rest of South America), and the then denominated “Western Frontier” (pretty far east really), expanding ever westward.  But that’s not a convenient historical study, takes away from the political benefits of politically and economically enslaving newly freed slaves.

In Catalonia, the unspoken (at least not too loudly, not yet) threat perceived by other European Union member states involves the potential for fragmentation in their own countries.  For example, the impact on Scottish independence, Northern Ireland, Greek separatists in Albania, Armenians in Azerbaijan.  And what about the Flemish, Walloons and French in Belgium; the Greeks in Macedonia; Bosnia and Herzegovina’s numerous movements in all directions; Moravians and Silesians in the Czech Republic; numerous movements in Denmark; the Aland Swedes in Finland; numerous movements in France, including among them Catalans (who would want to rejoin the ancestral Catalan state), Basques, possibly reigniting issues in Spain, Corsica, Savoy, etc., etc., etc.  Well, they’re really almost everywhere in Europe, Germany not excluded, see, e.g. List of active separatist movements in Europe (Wikipedia).  And that’s just in Europe, Russia, China, India, etc., are also rife with separatist movements, as is obviously the Middle East.  A bonanza for cartographers in the making (what publicly traded stocks involve cartography related enterprises on might wonder).

On the merely political front (where serious facts and analysis also coexist with propaganda), excluding the foregoing purely geopolitical considerations, the crisis raises the question of just how hypocritical promises of democracy and the right of popular self-determination ascendant since the First World War was purportedly fought to assure them, really are.  That had to be the reason for the Great War, it couldn’t have been British and French Colonial ambitions, it was all Germany’s fault!!!!  Fortunately for the neoliberal-neoconservative alliance, the mainstream media, now wholly owned (and never all that truth oriented), can be counted on to ignore inconvenient truths, or to at least only touch on them superficially.  No Russiagate-style production there, … “move along now, nothing to see here”.

So, … what is the posture of hysterically hyperbolic Clinton – Obama Democrats?  Especially those who until recently had absolutely no interest in professional football but who are now consumed by the sport, at least through the playing of the National Anthem (just an example, irrelevant, I know, I know; and yes, I know the dowager lost and that Obama is not still in office, at least technically, although the shadow government seems firmly in his grasp).

Actually, conflictive postures bother Clinton – Obama Democrats not a whit as is obvious every day in every way.  Their newly minted groupies understand neither history nor complex issues, Identity Politics, the more polarizing the better and “on with the coup, regardless of the cost” is their motto, printed on shirts and signs fully paid for by kindly concerned patrons.  The new know-nothings, youth being what’s important!  What do older, less sensitive and dedicated generations know?  They’re putrefied by facts and experience and the absence of the newer generation of drugs!

And the Trump administration?

Well, it’s busy right now with other matters, and has a fragmenting republic of its own to worry about.

And the GOP, well, Trump has them a bit too confused right now to agree on anything.

And the “Despicables”, Hillary’s ragamuffin scalawags?  Well, it’s Sunday and they’re trying to decide whether to boycott or watch today’s NFL offerings.

Ahhh, ever restive Catalonia, rebellion honed to an art form, echoes of the Irish.  What a show.  Hollywood writers are even now preparing first drafts of what will soon pass for romantic history.

Damn the Chinese and their “may you live in interesting times”!

© Guillermo Calvo Mahé; Manizales, 2017; all rights reserved.  Please feel free to share with appropriate attribution.

Guillermo Calvo Mahé (a sometime poet) is a writer, political commentator and academic currently residing in the Republic of Colombia although he has primarily lived in the United States of America (of which he is a citizen).  Until recently he chaired the political science, government and international relations programs at the Universidad Autónoma de Manizales.  He has academic degrees in political science (the Citadel), law (St. John’s University), international legal studies (New York University) and translation studies (the University of Florida’s Center for Latin American Studies).  He can be contacted at or and much of his writing is available through his blog at

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