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Catalonia And The Problem Of Separatist Nationalism

On October 1, 2017, a disputed independence referendum was held in the provinces of northeastern Spain sometimes aggregated as Catalonia. As the vote was unconstitutional, Spanish police forcibly suppressed a number of polling stations, but the final turnout was 43% of registered voters with 92% in favor of independence. With these results, the separatist leaders believe they have a public mandate to create an independent Catalan nation-state.

Putting economics aside as the barometer for all decision-making, there are serious political, practical, and philosophical problems with an independent Catalonia. Politically, the Catalans are borderline Bolsheviks, as one can tell from looking at their parliament. The governing coalition is called Junts pel Sí (Together for Yes), a separatist front with 62 MPs comprised of the below leftist pro-EU parties:

-Partit Demòcrata Europeu Català (Catalan European Democratic Party)

-Esquerra Republicana de Catalunya (Republican Left of Catalonia)

-Demòcrates de Catalunya (Democrats of Catalonia) Moviment d’Esquerres (Left Movement)

This movement is backed by one minority leftist independence party, the Candidatura d’Unitat Popular (Popular Unity Candidacy), which for whatever reason decides to keep its 10 MPs segregated from the formal coalition, presumably over some arcane marxist minutiae. The opposition parties are largely anti-separatist socialists, liberals, or conservatives:

-Ciutadans (Citizens): 25 MPs

-Partit dels Socialistes de Catalunya (Socialists’ Party of Catalonia): 16 MPs

-Catalunya Sí que es Pot (Catalonia Yes We Can): 11 MPs

-Partit Popular de Catalunya (People’s Party of Catalonia): 11 MPs

Without the issue of independence, it is hard to imagine anything other than the Citizens and the People’s Party being in the opposition, as those are both considered unionist and some variety of ‘conservative.’ Regardless, Catalonia is governed by leftists, and leftists in Western countries favor mass immigration, multiculturalism, and rule-from-below. An independent Catalonia, with such management, would eventually cease to be predominantly Catalan in any ethnic sense, and whatever sense of nationalism it once held would gradually give way to the formless deracination of rule by the fourth estate.

Separatism will not Protect the Catalan Language or Ethnicity

Much of the impetus to create a Catalan nationality owes to the distinct Catalan language spoken in the Catalonia autonomous region of Spain. Therefore, much of the independence debate is tied to linguistic issues. Under the authoritarian conservative government of Franco (1939-1975), regionalism was suppressed in Spain, meaning Catalonia was less than thrilled with the outcome of the Spanish Civil War. In post-Francoist Spain, a new constitution has given regional autonomy and official linguistic recognition to the country’s indigenous ethnic groups which speak languages other than Spanish. There’s just one problem with rallying around the Catalan language as the driving cause for national divorce; it is hardly the unifying factor of Catalonian society. Catalan is the native language of about a third of the population, most people in Catalonia are fluent in Spanish, and a plurality of the population mostly uses Spanish.

In 2009, about 16% of the population in Catalonia was born outside of Spain, with the largest sources being Morocco, Romania, and Ecuador. This has interesting implications for claims of linguistic preservation as a reason for supporting independence. Presumably, the Catalan separatists want these people to learn Catalan rather than Spanish, but since they want the provisional Republic of Catalonia to remain in the European Union while leaving Spain, they really won’t be able to impose such measures on immigrants. And because Catalonia is to the left of Spain, they are by definition even more open to immigration from the global south as well as closer integration with the European Union, where freedom of movement is guaranteed.

f anything, these future, larger inflows of immigrants which Catalans have voted for will find more utility in keeping their native tongue while learning a national or international language rather than learning a regional language of Europe and abandoning their own. By eschewing proficiency in Catalan for a more economically useful language, such as English, French, or even Spanish since it is more spoken in Catalonia than Catalan, immigrants to Catalonia can work anywhere in Europe while preserving their own identity. Why would an Ecuadorian or a Moroccan want to learn Catalan when most of Catalonia knows Spanish? Let us not assume these economically-driven people will settle for Southern Europe either, when the goose that lays the golden eggs is further north. Migration to Europe is all about incentives. There is no reason for immigrants to become permanent, civic-nationalist Catalans because the Catalan language is more or less irrelevant to non-ethnic Catalans and irrelevant to people outside of Catalonia. They can move on; they aren’t tied to the land or its people.

Thus we find another peculiarity of Catalan separatism—it is about snubbing Spain more than any sort of ethnic or linguistic preservation. The Catalonia these leftist separatists want to create would eventually have large Arabic-speaking minorities who would resent the imposition of Catalan just as Catalans resented the imposition of Spanish. So they would be forced to tolerate Arabic just as post-Francoist Spain tolerated Catalan—even though this has lead to demands of independence! Spanish nationality has made room for the expression of a Catalan ethnos; will Catalan nationality allow the same for its migrant populations?

Of course it will have to on some level, because the Catalans are left-wing and their nationalism is non-ethnic. But Spanish and Catalan have a much different relationship from what Catalan will have with, say, Arabic. The Catalan language has never been in any position to nationally replace Spanish, and so Spain has tolerated it. The language has certainly declined as a result of sharing space with a more widely spoken official language, so independence might seem preservationist, but one can imagine Catalan becoming even more threatened in a country which leftists have opened even further to the European Union and to extra-European immigrants. While foreign languages are unlikely to replace Catalan, it would be unwise to simply assume immigrants will adopt it given more useful alternatives like Spanish or English. We can perhaps expect the Republic of Catalonia to experience, if anything, a decline in Catalan fluency (and possibly an increase in Spanish) as the language has little use for highly mobile economic migrants. This renders one of the main reasons for independence claimed by leftists completely bunk.

Catalan nationalism, it seems, may end up producing a country not unlike the Russian Federation (ultimately another product of leftist revolution against hierarchy), where distinct terms exist for Russian ethnics (russkiye) and Russian nationals (rossiyane). Analogously, we might expect the development of Catalans ethnics versus Catalonian nationals, in a Republic of Catalonia which will be forced to operate in not only two or three languages, but on principle in whatever languages are spoken regardless of their origin and history.

Nationality: Spanish versus Catalan

The referendum most essentially poses a question of Spanish nationality versus a supposed “Catalan nationality.” Because nationality is so closely tied to statehood the only way for a Catalan nation to really exist is by rummaging through history to find a state associated with it. Anyone with a passing interest in Spain could tell you it was formed by a union of the crowns of Castile and Aragon. Aragon included the now bilingually Catalan-speaking areas of Catalonia, Valencia and the Balearic islands. Castile was the larger of the two, and what today we call the Spanish language is called Castilian in Spain. But Aragon hasn’t been a sovereign state in nearly 500 years and Castilian is more widely spoken as a native language in present-day Catalonia than Catalan. The history of united Spain also completely overshadows anything in its constituents’ pasts, as each participated in the conquest and settlement of vast spaces in the New World and have been one country for five hundred years. Aragon belongs to the age of the Reconquista as much as Castile (or Leon for that matter), which in any case isn’t much of a usable past for the leftist separatists of Catalonia because of the inherent ‘racism’ and religious intolerance of waging centuries of war to end the ‘Islamic golden age’ of Umayyad tolerance. Surely the Catalan separatists don’t consider the age of hate speech and hate war against Moorish immigrants to Iberia to be an idyllic history.

I would argue Spain is multi-ethnic but not necessarily multi-national. As such it cannot properly be broken down into nation-states. The idea of a Catalan nationality based on medieval Aragon is not only too remote to have an unenforced meaning but anachronistic. Aragon was not a Catalan nation-state but a feudal Western European kingdom. It also included at times the islands of Sardinia and Sicily, as well as the lower half of the Italian peninsula as governed from Naples, making it as much of a homogeneous “nation-state” as medieval Burgundy or Poland-Lithuania. This is not to deny that Catalans exist as an ethnos, but to evidence that a sovereign, politically Catalan state never forged Catalan into a nationality. Catalonia was a part of Aragon just as it is today a part of Spain. While there is then a certain Catalan ethnicity as delineated by linguistic, geographic, and historical factors, it has never attained the status of nationhood in the modern sense of a Romanticized state where the authority of the government is based on claims of exclusively representing the dominant ethnic group in its territory. It was neither Castile nor Aragon which truly produced a sense of political nationality, but Spain. I have previously argued that to revive a nation-state, the supposedly occupied nation must meet several criteria, and Catalonia meets hardly any of these—but most glaringly, it lacks a truly nationalist elite and has undergone substantial linguistic and ethnic colonization by Castile in forming the Spanish nation.

In Catalonia we thus have a nationalist movement which seeks to dissolve one nation in the name of creating another without regard for ethno-linguistic realities, with the resultant state not even committed to national self-preservation, only self-determination. There is no doubt that Catalonia would be more culturally left-wing and xenophile if independent from rather than part of Spain, and no doubt that each generation of “Catalans” would be made up of more “New Europeans” than the previous, until only the lingua franca of street signs and television stations distinguished the country from the metropolises of multikulti Britain and France. The separatists in Catalonia are not motivated by any traditional nationalist concerns; rather they wish to create a better shopping mall than Spain, where Catalan is legally promoted above the Spanish/Castilian language (which everyone is essentially already bilingual in) and where migrants will find a more attractive benefits package than in Spain. It is cosmopolitan separatism in the language of nationalism.

This is not without precedent. The 2014 Scottish independence referendum had in its Leave campaign the same mentality. The so-called Scottish nationalists particularly admired the Nordic model (how depraved do you have to be to wish Swedification on your own people?), and the ability to set an immigration policy independent of those nasty Tories. They wanted to close their political border with England and open it with the world, a curious irony.

Nowhere is the end product of this curious irony of left-wing nationalism better expressed than contemporary Ireland, a country which violently separated itself from the rule of its British cousins only to adopt a liberal cosmopolitan political culture that allows for a homosexual Indian to be their prime minister. One wonders what variety of genderqueer Moor or Oriental will be the future leader of independent Catalonia and win an election on a nationalist ticket.

The Relationship of Nationalism to Leftism

It can be puzzling to see nationalism manifest itself in such ways. Since it is so strongly associated with tribalism or ‘racism,’ in most cases nationalism today receives popular recognition as right-wing. When nationalism only serves to negate a higher order and politically expresses nothing beyond anarchic freedom for everyone who supports it in an electoral contest, however, there is hardly anything right-wing about it. Expelling the Spanish administration from Catalonia to embrace marxism and further non-European immigration because it is ‘the will of the people’ is an act of political leveling rather than ordering.

Julius Evola, in a larger defense of the imperial principle in his work Men Among the Ruins, gives a thorough summary of how something we often associate in present contexts with ‘the right’ is actually a product of leftist involution. Nationalism begins with a revolt against imperium, often at the urging of not an aristocracy but a bourgeoisie. From a traditionalist orientation then it becomes quite clear why Catalans, Scots, and the Irish are such leftists despite being known for their nationalistic politics:

This phenomenon [of nationalism] had an essentially antiaristocratic (i.e., anti-feudal), schismatic, and anti-hierarchical function, vis-a-vis the European ecumene, in that it re-fused to acknowledge the superior authority of the Holy Roman Empire and conferred an absolute anarchical character to the particular political units over which the individual princes ruled. These princes, after they ceased to receive support “from above,” sought their support “from below” and pursued a policy of centralization destined to occasion their downfall, since a more or less form-less and inarticulate human conglomerate increasingly gained preeminence. Thus they shaped the structures that eventually ended in the hands of the “nation” first understood as the Third Estate, and later on in the hands of the nation understood as the “people” and the masses.” (127-128).

Nationalism, at least in its nascent medieval form, chipped away at the classical political heritage of imperium as ingrained in Europe by the Romans and upheld by the Germans. It is only confused as right-wing by modern observers and when presented juxtaposed to even further involuted contemporary political forms.

More extremely, Evola argues that the political centrality of the nation is a by-product of elite decline:

Only when the tension decreases do differences become attenuated and the group of men gathered around the supra-ordained symbol of sovereignty and authority weakens and crumbles; only then may that which is a by-product and an artificial creation (i.e., the ‘nation’) become autonomous and separate it-self, thus acquiring the appearance of a living entity in its own right. Then what emerges is the ‘nation’ as people, collectivity, and mass—namely, that which such a concept has increasingly signified since the French Revolution. When a sovereignty is no longer allowed other than one that is the expression and the reflection of the “will of the nation,” it is almost as if a creature over-took its creator. From the political class understood as an Order and a Mannerbund shift occurs to demagogues and to the so-called ‘servants of the nation,’ to the democratic ruling classes who presume to ‘represent’ the people and who acquire for themselves various offices or positions of power by flattering and manipulating the masses.(130).

To give an example of this historical process, the Frankish bands that conquered Roman Gallia (or Latinized Gaul) in doing so created the royal state of France and therefore eventually gave rise to the ethnogenesis of the French nation through the admixture of Gallo-Roman and Germanic stocks. It was only with the decline of this aristocracy that a secular, demotic French nationalism emerged to represent the population of the French state, governed by a mix of demagogues and bureaucrats. In turn this gave rise to the de-nationalized, multicultural French Republic, which has discarded its ethnic reference altogether in the name of liberty, equality, and fraternity for ‘the people.’ With increasingly less of a hierarchical reference, nationalism too easily has involuted further and further into individualist, humanist, and atomized tendencies which seek to structure themselves with liberal cosmopolitanism. Catalan separatists want Catalonia to be free from Spain so it can be free for everyone. They quite literally appeal to the sovereignty of the masses in claiming their referendum is all Catalonia needs to be independent from Spain. Spaniards out, Moroccans in.

Nationality is not a bad thing to have by any stretch, but when it becomes the total political expression of a person it is entirely insufficient to stand upon against the decline. The “nationalists” in Catalonia, Scotland, and Ireland are strong evidence of this identitarian deficiency. Evola argues that nationalism can serve as a barrier against dissolution into a formless race of materialistic drones, but that there is more work to be done beyond this barrier:

We may refer to the hierarchical place proper to the ‘nation’ when it has a positive and constructive, rather than a revolutionary, meaning. ‘Nation’ is a plus in regard to ‘humanity.’ Thus, it is a positive and legitimate thing to uphold the right of the nation in order to assert an elementary and natural principle of difference of a given human group over and against all the forms of individualistic disintegration, international mixture and proletarization, and especially against the mere world of the masses and pure economy. Having set this demarcation as a protective fence, it is necessary to actualize inside it further degrees of differentiation that need to be implemented in a system of bodies, of disciplines and hierarchies, in virtue of which the State is created out of the substance of the nation (140).

We see something approximating this worldview perhaps in Eastern Europe and various Asian countries, though the prevalence of demo-bureaucracy threatens all nationalist governments with the ephemerality of partisan politics and mass subversion. Yet it must be acknowledged that nationality is preferable to regressing towards a globalized impersonal proletariat of the undifferentiated, that it can provide a source of common purpose from which a hierarchy can be drawn in a way that genericized consumer-slave humanity cannot. Where nationalism can be sustained in the context of providing space and purpose for an ethnos, it has value for the people it contains. But where it is only used as a vector for more efficient involution, nationalism becomes a weapon in the service of the dark age.

With that in mind, Evola’s discussion on the revolt of the medieval city-states against the suzerainty of the Emperor is pertinent to understanding the cosmopolitan-separatist case for Catalonia contra España:

The conflict was not at all between two nations, but rather between two ideas and two supernational castes… [Emperor] Frederick understood his task to elevate the regal and imperial authority to its highest degree, vindicate the rights that were lost or had fallen into neglect, uphold the law, and reestablish order and peace. In the terms of the peace that he dictated, he referred to the principles of Roman law. If the Communes had remained loyal and retained the hierarchical position that belonged to them in the medieval ecumene, they would have enjoyed their space within the Empire, and would not have been opposed. What Frederick or any other representative of the Empire (whether Spanish, Italian, or French, instead of German) could not have tolerated was the Italian Communes’ antihierarchical pretense of self-emancipation, becoming independent, taking up arms almost as if they were States within the State, and revoking their natural dependence on the higher caste—namely, that of the warrior and feudal nobility—all according to the spirit of a new civilization. This new civilization, tendentiously democratic and capitalist, was the same under which modern people have progressively denied every principle of legitimate authority (i.e., ‘from above’), thus becoming subjects of the various ‘kings’ of a faceless and nationless finance and industry. (183-184).

Certainly in Catalonia’s case of explicitly leftist agitation for independence from Spain based on a mere vote we can see how far down the ladder the principle of sovereignty has been kicked. Spain, even in its degraded present form, does at least represent some semblance of traditional order over Catalonia and its cosmopolitan-separatist plebiscite.

But there is a problem with this analogy. The Spanish state is essentially unworthy of maintenance due to its self-destructive liberalism and the damage it is doing to the Western peoples of Spain, and the Catalonian independence movement is symptomatic of its degeneration. It is hardly a stand-in for the Holy Roman Empire, and Spanish authorities are only opposed to independence for economic, sentimental, or legalistic reasons. The worldviews of Madrid and Barcelona differ in implementation more than substance.

Catalonia and the Fifth Political Theory

Even if Catalan nationalists are wrong in theory and their leaders are wrong in practice, we must still evaluate this situation from a position of interests. Catalonia is left of Spain and Spain is left of traditional ethnocentrism and a mindset of civilizational continuity, so unity is far from being “better” than independence.

It is a problem of triage, and we can conclude that Spain sans Catalonia will be more salvageable than with. Quite simply, an independent Catalonia will be leftist but will slow the leftward movement of Spain by divorcing from it.

The Fifth Political Theory (5PT), with some apprehension, does support cosmopolitan separatism on a tactical level, which is in practice what many of Europe’s separatist nationalists want. They want their own states to implement liberal cosmopolitanism in, free from what they perceive as the pervasive influence of conservatives, civic nationalists, ethnic nationalists, traditionalists and other varieties of indigenous European tribalism. Scotland without England, Catalonia without Castile—these are, geopolitically-speaking, potential states with permanent leftist supermajorities. Such supermajorities can be grown by importing refugees and “economic” migrants from the global south, who are highly unlikely to become, say, Spanish or British conservatives, civic nationalists, ethnic nationalists, traditionalists or tribalists in a political sense. They could (and will) certainly be Moroccan, Nigerian, or Indian ethnic nationalists, reactionaries, conservatives, tribalists, as there is a framework for those identities to theoretically coexist with liberal cosmopolitanism in coalition against the mutual enemy of Western man. Their concept of the political is such, and so even if they are never converted to European-style liberal cosmopolitan and its radical deconstruction of god, king, and country, they can still participate in multiculturalism as a demographic and electoral check against the ethnocentric European minority of Catalonia.

It is that group that 5PT actually cares about—Catalans who view themselves as part of the great European family and Western civilization which is worthy of unique expression and preservation in our world. Catalan separatists by and large are not interested in these ideas but in more efficient ways to implement socialism and their own demise. If separatist nationalism in Europe is left-political rather than ethnic or traditional we cannot support it on its own terms but only through an analysis of our interests relative to those of the ‘nationalists.’ At best Catalan separatism serves the interest of the Western diaspora by scattering our enemies.

Cosmopolitan separatism in rending Spain creates two centers of anti-Western sovereignty already subsumed within the anti-Western supra-sovereignty claimed by the European Union. It removes a political cancer from Spain while weakening the ability of both parties to act more decisively and powerfully with regard to dissolving the Western diaspora. It makes the so-called European Union less efficient. Catalonia will magnetically weaken leftism in the parent country of Spain and encourage similar processes in other nominally European nation-states. This is to our benefit as it subdivides our antagonists and makes their victims incrementally healthier. As they disintegrate we must integrate further in our sense of sub-national and trans-national unity against the destruction of Western peoples. 5PT is state-agnostic and does not believe in preserving the territorial integrity of what is essentially an enemy state. Spain, Catalonia, the United Kingdom, Scotland—none of these currently belong to us.

William S. Lind’s theory of Fourth Generation Warfare teaches that attacking state’s forces must preserve the target state in order to secure peace with reactionary, irregular, tribalized forces who threaten to fill the void:

While war against another state may be necessary one should seek to preserve that state even as one defeats it. Grant the opposing armies the ‘honors of war,’ tell them what a fine job they did, make their defeat ‘civilized’ so they can survive the war institutionally intact and then work for your side. This would be similar to 18th century notions of civilized war and contribute greatly to propping up a fragile state. Humiliating the defeated enemy troops, especially in front of their own population, is always a serious mistake.

Fourth Generation Warfare and how it relates to construction and orientation of the Western diaspora is to be explored in a future essay, but here it suffices to say that ethnocentric European and Eurocolonial peoples are de facto stateless west of the Elbe, and therefore the Britains, Frances, Spains, and potentially Catalonias of the world are the states keeping our people under wraps. We do not want these states to grow stronger; conversely we want them to become increasingly petty and derelict as to strengthen organic social bonds and order among our people(s). Truly traditional ethnoi must oppose the integrity of the current state, and so the Western diaspora should welcome an independent Catalonia. May its political future be short and painless.

Independence movements such as those in Scotland and Catalonia should not be mistaken for a re-nationalization of Europe, which is more expressed by civic nationalists like Britain’s UK Independence Party, France’s National Front, and the German AfD party. Though, as those aren’t firmly ethnic either, it is hard to find genuine nationalism west of the Elbe, or to argue that Europe is becoming more nationalistic. Nativism and opposition to liberal supra-national organizations (in the case of the euroskeptics) are necessary but insufficient markers of nationalism, and far from sufficient markers of a principled anti-modernity stance. Cosmopolitan separatism is further still, but we may at least observe it as an inverse triage if nothing else.

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