The King has Decreed! It’s official…
“the Catalonian independence referendum and devolution is illegal and undemocratic“. (See video of the King’s speech with English sub-titles in local Finnish press)
But is it?
Please remember to vote in the poll at the end of this article 😉
The Spanish Government believe/claim the democratic vote on the issue is for all Spain as it affects everyone as part of a greater community that has ownership (sovereignty) rights, not just rights of possession on all the Spanish lands, including the Catalonian region. The broader Spanish community has fought, died and worked hard for many years to rid themselves and dictators and unify the country. Anyone who thinks they can or would willing let that all be thrown away are being extremely foolish. Also it seems unfair and selfish to them that the richest state within Spain should want to desert the ship they have sailed in because they don’t want to share. I.e. Fair Weather friends!. It smacks of Trump’ism – winners and losers and a state run by the ‘I am Alright Jackoffs!’
This is true except that the principle involved is in contradiction to the ‘Right of Self-Determination – as upheld by the UN.The problem is in where the boundaries are drawn – often as arbitrary (political) these days as they are culture and region based. The boundaries affect the outcome of the vote considerably, hence several attempts in the UK over recent decades to redraw the borders and map of the municipalities in order to influence the vote results – usually dramatically, by changing the demographic geo-structures to create the biggest minority of constituents in each voting area in their own favour.
No region is isolated, they all interact and have other overlapping regions. Change the preferred key reference points (boundaries) of a voting region and the result is totally different. The choice of key or dominant region to which others are subservient is always an arbitrarily political one, driven more often than not by the perceived pecuniary advantages pertaining to a politically militant few, e.g. Scotland and the issue of North Sea Oil. They all think they can do it now because of the security seemingly provided by the greater EU safety net that helps avoid isolation and the previous disadvantages of separation. In principle this process is the same as already happened within families and broader communities due to the creation of the welfare state.
A loose association of disassociated delinquent juveniles is no more beneficial for the Eu than it is with our sub-communities and social structures. It is however necessarily part of our right of self-determination. I ask you this however, how old / self-sustainable do kids have to be before they can just divorce their parents and leave home? Where do we draw the line?
How many people are needed in order to declare an independent state?
Are there any rules about location, or geographical proximity / grouping? Should the Finnish government let the gypsies declare an independent state in any location their predominate? And what about the Laplanders? In UK, Indians moved into and took over a local town on mass, driving out all the original native residents. Should they be allowed to declare an independent state?
Woking used to be a middle class satellite town to Greater London. Last I heard from a friend of mine and former resident of the area, was that he had to leave because his child was the only native English (white) child in the entire school which, had not just social consequences, but also for personal identity, learning standards, religious education programmes etc. Indian immigrants, as thrifty, hard working and decent people as they are, tend to move into a house for four or five and live there with upto 15 people according to some reports. This has serious social and economic consequences for the value of local housing. Then their are large groups of Muslims in UK who make little attempt to integrate, merely build a Mosque in the centre of a town, buy up all the houses around it and turn it into a mini citadel! Not just hearsay, but first hand reports from an Englishman that was born and raised in such a town and then fell compelled to move out, eventually ending up in Finland.
The Papal enclave in Italy and several other city states (e.g. Monaco, Montenegro) in Europe are not much more than that. The use of force by the Spanish authorities is however a lamentable mistake that will never solve anything and, is already proving somewhat counter-productive. To solve the problem, feelings and concerns must first be recognised and acknowledged before rational discussion and negotiation can take place. The Catalonians should also be reminded that stable borders and relations with EU neighbours are a pre-requisite for EU membership that they will have to reapply for, as is a sufficiently well developed economic situation, social and political infrastructures, separate from the Spanish systems to which they are currently inter-twined – just as UK is to EU, hence the Brexit talks fiasco. Integration as evolved over decades, a neural network of social and political bindings that cannot simply be picked open and undone overnight. As I was recently remined, Spain, like all the countries, have a right of veto on any new entrants to the EU. Even if Catalonians separatists get what they want, the rest of Spain will still need help to which, the Catalonians will still contribute via EU regional aid and development programmes.
The Catalonian situation, despite the generally accepted legitimacy of its cultural identity case, needs to be seen in greater perspective. Certainly, from a more far off perspective it seems like old European regional tribalism – and look where that got us all – endless wars including two world-wide wars. There are also considerable parallels with the Brexit referendum, which inspired this latest devolution activity / push, in that most voting has been on base sentiments and feelings rather than cool logic and rational thinking, much less actual comprehension of the overall facts and issues involved.
‘As it is below, so it is above’
The break-down and rebuilding of social and power structures is an essential pre-requisite for building a better, and stronger Europe. This has parallels in any learning and development process. For example I have experienced this more concretely whilst teaching hobbies such as martial arts in which, student development reaches a plateau at certain stages. My job was to break-down if not dessemble and tear apart their technique and what they thought they had established in order for them to rebuild it with a more sound and refined structure that will allow them to launch into the next phase of learning and development. ‘As it is below, so it is above‘ – social movements are but a larger scale aggregation of the smaller sub-social and individual processes, and ultimately nature itself. We have already entered a period of social chaos and break-down predicted by the Kondratieff cycles, a natural and empirically predictable natural cycle of social movement if not development. You can find out more about these from my earlier blog article on EU ‘brains’ warn about end of free capital markets by 2030.
The timing of the event however, is not so fortuitous for the EU and will cause much disarray at a time when we need more unity to weather the storm winds of change around the world. We already have 27+ states of various sizes, power and international expertise / worldly competence that are hard enough to hold together for the greater common good. If all our modern states start breaking up into a further multitude of tiny, bickering old-world regions and tribes lead by small-time politicians with little or no competence for the job – even by comparison to the current EU leaderships – this problem will be multiplied many times over, weakening the EU to the point of inoperability and totally vulnerable to the whims of other world powers who would be only to happy to exploit it to their own advantage.
The EU needs to be united and cooperate at least on the practical and functional levels of government administration in order to gain economies of scale that we need to survive in the modern globalised economy and political conditions. The historical process has so far been a piecemeal unification of smaller regions into modern countries as we currently know them that has helped to eventually stabilise borders, jurisdiction and many of the problems and violence of the old world – but nothing is perfect and the job is not yet complete, if ever it will be. A fully integrated and unified Federal European Union is a logical next step to some regional country groupings (e.g. UK & Ireland, Nordic union, the Netherlands – all passport free regions before the EU) that some prominant groups in the EU are pushing for and have been seeking for a long time since. The U.S. and Germany are federal states that permit a certain amount of autonomy and independence to constituent states to manage their own affairs, so, perhaps not such a bad thing.
Federalization however, would mean the creation of a European superstate that would diminish the position and influence of regions such as Catalonia even more that it is within the nations state of Spain. This is the hidden socialist agenda in Europe that many British (older generation mostly) have had a strong aversion to and resulted in the Brexit vote, one of the most ill-informed referendum votes in democratic history (except perhaps for recent U.S.A. elections ;). Democracy is necessary, but it does not always work it should, or as we would like it to, in large measure because of inadequate means to apply it as it is due to poor definitions/ parameters, elective criteria and administrative processes. In time, technology may allow us to achieve a nationhood and government administration based on membership rather than location, which, although already noted in discussion within academic circles, is not yet a practical viability.
In principle we believe, in pragmatism we trust
So consider this, constitutional and social contracts aside, the right of self-determination has no definitions or criteria as yet, and certainly is not an issue of scale. It is a principle only. And in principle the lowest common denominator is each and every single individual human being on this earth or anywhere else. Does this mean that I, and English man, living in Helsinki, Finland, can hold a vote with my self and declare my home and grounds an independent state that I might call ‘New Fingland’!?
Has a nice ring to it though, does it not? 😉
Pride goeth before a fall – So get off your high horse E.U.S.A.!
- BBC News, Ukraine Crisis, http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-26270866
The following is a direct quotation of a recent post in Facebook. Please excuse the Double Dutch language, but you can try to ‘Google It!’ 😉
“Venäjältä perätään nyt selityksiä monella suulla ja monesta suunnasta.”
Mitä sitten? – Kellään ei ole hauista tehdä asialle mitään. Ensin Europpalaiset uhoaa ja sanoo että “tullaan vastaamaan sotilaallisesti” ja kun näin käy että jotain tartteis tehdä, niin yht’ äkkiä onkin monta vaatimassa “selitystä”. Veikkaan että Mr. Putin nauraa kippurassa…
Todistusaineisto Venäjän sotilaallisista toimista Itä-Ukrainassa alkaa saada…
The postee is rightfully despairing at the situation and lack of ability to act directly or decisively, despite the EU’s early comments as reported by this postee.
However, as far as I understand it …
Actually they (Bush) said there would be no troops on the ground or going to war over it.
- Ukraine crisis: Obama rules out military action , NATO produces satellite imagery of Russia’s operations inside Ukraine, The Associated Press Posted: Aug 28, 2014 5:31 AM ET Last Updated: Aug 28, 2014 8:36 PM ET
Lots of huff and puff after having pushed an injured (wounded pride etc.) animal back into a corner whilst ignoring its warning growls. Sanctions always cut both ways and take time, in the mean time indirect and clandestine support for the Ukraine has no doubt been rapid. The statistics and evidence declared at the UN Security Council this week clearly showed this, with not only capture of soldiers, but satellite pictures and surveillance data all clearly available to the Ukraine despite their own lack of capacity for such operations. No one is likely to go to war over it, other than the Ukrainians themselves, so the first one to dare put boots on the ground had already won. That initiative was always Russia’s prerogative, the west is not left only with indirect war by proxy options and sanctions with China playing both sides off against each other as usual. The Russians were already doing that, testing out the waters and the result was clear, the West would not intervene directly. When two such forces have doomsday powers, the moment their boots touched the ground, it was a fate accompli unless the Ukrainians themselves can drive them out. As the British SAS moto puts it “Who DAres, Wins!”
EU has resisted bringing Ukraine into the fold for years, not so much because of the political implications with Russia, but because they have been an unruly and crime ridden state (organised crime, drugs and human trafficking etc.) that we did not want. The border with them was and is one of civilisation as much as administration and sovereignty. The whole mess stinks of ignorance if not incompetence on the part of the western allies and is particularly hypocritical after recent history of western interventions abroad. Putin, like so many other dictators elsewhere has played the western politicians and won hands down, yet again. Though the ends may sometimes justify the means, it always creates a dangerous precedent. Patience is a virtue in both peace and war-time.
Dick Chaney and his acolytes have been living up to his name – ‘Dick!’. “If they did it, there’ll be hell to pay” he was quoted as saying when the Malaysian airlines plane was shot down. They are not the one’s on the front-line likely to get shot at or blown up in an escalating and expanding conflict in which, far more innocent lives would be lost. They represent no one but themselves and would do the world a great favour if they would just shut the F*up!
To Russia, Ukraine still seems like a state in the Union and hence this they perceive as an internal matter and thus civil-war regardless of pieces of paper at the UN and in International Law. Trade practice rules and ‘possession is nine-tenths of the law’ in any country. Ukraine independence, like many of the others, was initially only tolerated whilst the Russians thought they would remain allied to their security, political and economic block. Others such as Bulgaria and Romania managed to escape Russia’s clutches, but Transnistria (small isthmus / strip of land and ethnic community on border with Moldova) and Ukraine in particular are simply too close to home and harbour a large Russian ethnic group. No one even gives Belarus a second thought! This is not just a conflict of borders, political influence and power, but of civilisations. It should not have come as a surprise that Russia coveted the Crimea, as it is of strategic military importance and house many such installations.
The Russians have always jealously sought to protect open water access for their few sea ports. One of the first flash points for which, was actually St. Petersburg, the former Leningrad over which both Germany and Russia paid such a high price in the second world war. It is close to the Finnish border, for which reason Russia invaded Finland during the second world war and annexed a large part of Karelia, including the city of Viborg (Viipuri) in order to protect its access to the Baltic sea. I once accompanied a party of Karelian descendants to their childhood village, where they sang Karelian national anthems on the beach of the lake in the centre of the village, much to the confusion and bemusement of the local Russians. When we spoke to a local resident living for the last 50 years on the land once owned and occupied by this bitter bunch of Finns, he had no clue about the true history of the region at all. He, like all the others had been told by the Russian government that this had always been part of Russia. Until recent times only three of the countries around the rim of the Baltic were allied to the EU, i.e. Sweden, Denmark and Germany. Finland was firmly neutral as part of a traditional survival strategy against the great Russian Bear ion its doorstep from which it gained independence only in 1917 if I remember correctly. Since then they have also had a civil war between the whites and reds. Poland, Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia were all under Russian control until they broke free and joined the EU and in some cases NATO in recent years. Russia is now isolated in the Baltic. The Crimea controls another important port and access channel to the Mediterranean sea. Similar issues also lead to the seizing of the Murmansk area initially, to the north of Finland long before. The only open question and possible surprise, was whether or not the Russians would dare to invade the rest of Ukraine. Ukraine is strategically important militarily and economically, a large and potentially rich state, at least in terms of minerals and resources.
Other countries such as Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania are of less importance, but should Russia deem it necessary to protect their national security interests, it would be a simple matter to walk in and reoccupy them overnight. They also have a large Russian ethnic population due to Russia’s attempts to Russify the region whilst it occupied them. They are not much-loved by the indigenous peoples, hence socially and economically excluded, which is why many perhaps still support Russia and Putin. Local ethnic population has consistently been one of Russia and Putin’s main political justification points. This is why those states joined NATO as well as the EU in the hope that Russia will not risk precipitating a direct confrontation with NATO who are now obligated in that region. In truth however, NATO could never react fast enough to be of much practical use, which is why they are now planning to place supplies bases in Eastern Europe for Fast Reaction forces in contravention of previous non-military zone agreements with Russia, if not technically in legal terms, in spirit at least. Finland is still too timid and apprehensive to step out of the shadows or from behind the skirts of the western allies. There is a strong debate going on here, but the strategy has worked so far, so why fix it? If Finland wants to join NATO, this is the time, as the most likely risks and consequences of continuous EU & NATO expansion eastwards is already being realised. Whilst the Ukraine crisis has set a precedent and could act as a stepping stone to incursions into other borderland countries, military adventurism into Finland seems a remote likelihood, being of quite different geographical and historical character and status than the other Baltic rim states. The EU and NATO could not stand idly by, so the annual threats and intimidation of Finland by Russian politicians and military leaders are somewhat empty and hollow words other than any possible economic repercussions. Finland’s level of dependence on trade with Russia is nowhere near what it was in the early 1990’s though.
The division between western and eastern states politically and ethnically (~30% ethnic Russians in the Crimea and some in the Eastern states), led to the separatist movement that the Russians have sought to exploit in a war by proxy. They directly intervened only when the Ukrainian army set about crushing the rebellion to prevent a break-up of Ukraine. This was the only open question in my mind, but I would be surprised if they tried to take the whole of the Ukraine. Whilst no one wants to see the Ukraine break-up into two states or partly subsumed by Russia, if the majority of the people living in the eastern states want to break-away or join Russia fully, that is their prerogative. It is part of the accepted UN Charter of Human Rights to ‘self-determination’. They should not be forced to stay in mainstream Ukraine if they do not want to.
Principles are there to guide us, they should never be train tracks or railroad us into catastrophe. International law is just a piece of paper outlining mutual agreements and commitments, but lacks any independent power to enforce if one signatory no longer finds it convenient. National security has always take precedence of local criminal law, and whilst it would be nice and useful if we could impose some criminal law on countries and their governments, not only is this not practical currently, it would be undesirable. When your very survival is at stake, there is no law, no morales, just survival and the immutable laws of nature. This fact of life applies to individuals as well as states – ‘as it is above, so it is below’. Situational management and perhaps even our very survival in this world has always depended on pragmatism. Pride, power and prejudice (The 3 P’s) are the main driving factors of this whole charade for all but the Ukrainians themselves, but power at least usually translates into money and other fringe benefits. Though ‘pride goeth before a fall’, that the Ukraine former female president has predicted, describing it as the last throes of a dying regime, a wounded animal backed into a corner is very dangerous indeed, especially ones that have fingers on a nuclear trigger button. Though they may be ‘The last of the USSR Clingons’, they are still young and strong enough to cause problems. They have been getting bolshy again ever since they realised their new-found economic power. Does anyone still remember how the U.S.A. reacted when Communist Russia installed nuclear weapons in Cuba, on the U.S.A.’s doorstep!? How does this differ militarily to the EU and the west gaining control (by alliance all be it) of yet another border state – only this time it is one that has been cultural and politically integral to Russia and the old soviet empire for as long as anyone can remember.
For those that wonder why we only seem to intervene in other smaller conflicts, this zero sum power balance and the sheer scale of the proposed ventures are precisely why the West cannot intervene in some conflicts no matter how much they might wish to. The smaller conflicts are more manageable bite sized issues that won’t break us militarily or economically. Economics produces and supplies the military power and political ambitions, oil powers the economy. National security depends on every element in this chain of demand and supply and the connections between them. Social change is more problematic and takes even longer than personal change, something no one copes particularly well with. Immigrants into foreign countries can take 3 to 5 generations before they truly begin to adapt and integrate to the local culture even if ‘social inclusion’ is practised. Patience is a virtue and a long-term game plan is essential and pragmatic, as smaller issues and concerns must by necessity play second fiddle to larger more strategic threats.
Tis long overdue for the west to get of their moral high horse, stop preaching and start trying to resolve the problem by understanding the issues from Russia’s perspective, ideally before they precipitate such extreme reactions. Only then can a peaceful and lasting political solution be found. National security, safety and control of important weapons and defence systems, infrastructure, money from the gas pipes and energy security are all major concerns for both sides, even if some countrie’s national security philosophies and stances seem extremely outdated and inappropriate to us.
Food for Thought!