When I haven’t been killing time mass killing on GTA V online, shopping for Secret Santa prezzies (edible anuses look appetising), or watching Sopranos clips on YouTube (I’d forgotten how bloody funny it was), I’ve been keeping an eye on this Catalonia thingy, or, rather, how and why it’s been reported and viewed.
It’s almost as depressing as the fiasco itself.
Now the comparison I’m about to make is admittedly flawed, and I’ll caveat this further by conceding that in no way are their circumstances suitably comparable, but Northern Ireland and Catalonia are both regions that contain long held grievances from sizable parts of their populations. They’re viewed differently, and we all know why. Catalonia has never been, in its modern history, independent from Spain, while Ulster used to be part of another country, Ireland.
Still, transpose the scenario in Catalonia to Northern Ireland and the worrying absurdity of recent events is revealed. Just imagine Sinn Fein were slated to have a clear majority in both devolved and national elections, and the promise of holding a consultative referendum on independence was the reason for their increase in popularity, only for the British government to send in police and armed forces to stop said vote taking place, and for them to then arrest Gerry Adams and other Sinn Fein leaders in the lead up to a national election months later. What do you reckon the result of that would be, how do you reckon it would play out?
Given Northern Ireland’s recent history, really badly, and the reaction, both locally and internationally, would reflect that. Because there’s been no conflict in Catalonia, other than an assassination decades ago, any drive for self-determination has been peaceful, and motivated by gaining geopolitical and economical advantages, so in this sense the more apt comparison is with the Scottish independence movement. However, that’s flawed too. While a concerted campaign was mounted against the virtues of Scottish independence by the state through the media, it was within the law, and the referendum vote was held peacefully. This is being denied to the Catalonians through violence and censorship, despite a clear mandate for a referendum having been proven.
The apathy of the mainstream UK media, and its phony claims that what it did report was balanced, is completely unsurprising, and indicative of kowtowing to, even appeasing, the xenophobic populism that drove Brexit. The neutrality of the EU to the affairs of one of its own members is over compensating, a sympathetic cognisance of Spanish historical contexts, where regional nationalism is now erroneously synonymous with terrorism, an issue which, ironically, has been hijacked to popularise insular nationalism. Spain’s issues with the Basque separatists ETA, who routinely bombed Madrid during the seventies and eighties, means an implicit pardoning of the Spanish government’s behaviour has been granted, so far, even if all the ‘Catalonian nationalists’ can be accused of is political opportunism and construing certain laws as ambiguous.
Given how heavy handed the Spanish have been in oppressing all routes sought by Catalonian independence through traditionally democratic and libertarian means, it can be construed as a cynically brazen attempt to enrich and incite separatist dogma. Perhaps, with continuous forms of oppression, imprisonment and censorship, they hope the Catalonian resistance will mutate into violence. This would make it easier to justify crushing the independence movement, and like ETA, ultimately ruining it’s the validity of its claims internationally.
Hopefully it doesn’t come to that. The Catalonians need to keep the heid. Even if the Catalonian independence movement keeps it civil in the face of provocation, some, for entirely selfish reasons, aren’t prepared to give their movement and grievances a hearing. The insular reaction from many is depressingly indicative of empirical nationalism. In these complacent minds, the actions of the Spanish government are justified to support their worldview. The logic is suitably as simple as they are – seeing Spain crush a separatist, nationalist uprising in one of its regions figures to help dissuade any such movements closer to home.
Those who are vehemently opposed to change are usually the most ill-prepared for it. Dickheads who hate foreigners and who are partial to a bit of Mosleyism are par the course, but the real damage is done by journalists and politicians who choose to enable the erosion of democratic rights by intellectualising violence by the state on its subjects. Even more egregious is attempting to make it relevant to something completely unconnected, just as I did by comparing Spanish politics with that of Northern Ireland. Think about this: that I made that comparison, just to contextualise the danger of what’s being allowed to happen in Catalonia, proves that mainstream media is now wielded as a form of propaganda that exists not to inform us, but to convince us that our perception of what democratic process looks like should be fluid.
You may not have liked the outcome of referendums on Brexit and Scottish independence and how we arrived at them, I certainly didn’t. I hate that we have a corrupt and inept Tory government. You may be aghast at the prospect of another vote on Scottish independence or Brexit (who knows?), but at least we still have a modicum of decency allied with a sense of lawful democratic should be. If we’re willing to deny freedom when observing events elsewhere to justify opposition to national and regional disputes then we move one step closer to abdicating our own rights.
And with that, I’m away back to GTA V online to fuck shit up.