Lennaart van Oldenborgh on Sat, 7 Oct 2017 14:17:48 +0200 (CEST)

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Re: <nettime> Catalonia and mainstream opinion

On 7 Oct 2017, at 10:22, info@conservas.tk wrote:

Catalonia is not about independence. We are ready for a level of democracy that we are not allowed to practice and the fight is about political freedom.

hmm. From where i’m sitting, as a fellow lurker in brexit-bound London, i’m inclined to question the validity - and wisdom - of using referenda as a means to ‘fight for democracy’ (i couldn’t participate in the referendum that’s determining my future here btw but that’s not my main point). certainly the brexit referendum was called as a means to settle an internal dispute in the governing party, and not to address a burning national question.

what has astounded me about the Catalonian referendum is how recklessly the political elites on both sides have been willing to escalate the situation - and frankly *chml’s post* is the only one that’s come close to addressing this. leaving aside the issue of corruption, which is often an easy charge to make, if both the Catalonian government and the central government are trying to use this referendum to mobilise a base for their political survival then that would explain their belligerent postures.

I may be disproportionally focused on the 1990s Yugoslav war of dissolution for my own reasons, but it gives us a historical example of what can happen when political elites start using regional-national identitarian politics to mobilise (and demobilise) segments of their base in the pursuit of a power grab (I'd recommend VP Gagnon’s “the myth of ethnic war” for a cogent analysis of how this worked in the yugoslav context)

i’m having a hard time distinguishing provincial ethno-nationalism from state-wide ethno-nationalism - if this is really a fight for democracy and political freedom, why the Catalonian flag-waving? why not link up with disenfranchised voters in Madrid, Euskadi and (based on chml’s info) Murcia and fight for a more democratic, diverse, devolved, representative, etc Spanish state?

Btw Örsan’s analogy with the Kurdish referendum is thought-provoking: I can see some parallels but i’d think there’s important differences too: the KRG has been effectively self-governing for a couple of decades now, and a similar Kurdish entity has emerged in Rojava. Barzani also rather prudently framed the referendum in the KRG as a 'basis for a process of negotiation'. it seems to me Kurdish statehood is both more viable and justifiable (if politically difficult) and would undoubtedly have greater geo-political repercussions


Lennaart van Oldenborgh

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