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SPAIN: Catalonia

Tim Brown says: "This cri de coeur from LLuis Bosch describes the classic identity conflict, and I empathize with what he feels. Were it accompanied by a call to arms to realize independence, which it is not, it would be a classic cri de guerre for an identity war and I would condemn him.

Bosch cites most of the key ingredients of identity, territory, language, a shared history of struggle, a deep sense of "us versus them", and a profound believe that "we" are absolutely in the right, "they" are totally in the wrong; "we" hold the moral high ground; "they" are murderers. His solution is apparently the establishment of an independent Catalan nation. Were all the larger and equally qualified identity groups in Western Europe to gain similar independence, there would be no Spain, only five small nation-states; Switzerland would divide into three or four, the UK into four at least; Belgium in two, and so forth.

While I always hope for the best, experience has taught me to anticipate the worst, and my own guess is that were this to happen it would prove to be the first wave of a continuing process of Balkanization. Every one of these new small states would sooner or later find itself confronted by its own micro-identity groups demanding independence from the new entity based on some historic claim - our Prince was once independent of your Prince, our accent is different, some of your ancestots killed some of my ancestor, you are not treating us as equals, etc. At that point Calalonia, Vasconia, Valencia, and the others would find themselves faced with the same alternatives the existing larger states face today : suppression, autonomy, or independence. Sounds like a return to the Europe of principalities that existed before the emergence of the nation-state doesn't it? It is also a recipe for perpetual conflicts. . We have had enough armed conflicts with their inevitable destruction of lives and fortunes. My formula for change without violence is to live within a democratic political system, which includes not insisting on always having your own way. Democratic systems never gives everyone everything they want, so the most demanding are usually the least satisfied. But at least they minimize the ability of the loudest, meanest, or strongest to dominate the weak, meek and soft spoken. Democratic processes never satisfy everyone, and especially never satisfy the insistenceof the head-strong, self-certain, or demanding that their particular views must dominate regardless of the views of others. It, too, is a formula for conflicts, but unarmed ones via a political process. It aint' perfect, but it's better than any other system I know of".

My comment: Frankly I do not know what course of action Lluis Bosch proposes. The Balkanization of Spain is a real possibility.

Ronald Hilton - 7/28/02