If you’ve been paying attention to the news today, 27 October 2017, you know that the regional government of Catalonia under Carles Puigdemont has declared independence from the Kingdom of Spain. They have further declared the Republic of Catalonia, citing the so-called right to self-determination announced by Woodrow Wilson during the First World War as the basis for their authority to do so. Let’s analyze this controversial “right” to see if we patriotic Americans should support it.
Let’s say for the sake of argument that there is such a right, i.e., that all men have the right to self-determination as political units. If the right to self-determination exists, it is not clear that it would apply to any critical mass of individuals formed as a group. What number grants the right? Ten thousand? One hundred? Any agreement on a particular number is impossible. So, we are forced to grant that the right belongs to every man, since any man can group with any other or then leave the group by himself or with his friends later on.
So, again, let’s grant its existence and explore the implications. If a right to self-determination exists (as defined above), then it belongs to every man individually. If every man has this right, then every citizen incorporated into a body politic has the right to leave said body whenever it is convenient for him to do so.
However, if every citizen has the right as a man to exit from his political community’s legal edifice and form one of his own when it is convenient for him to do so, then no law can have force, since no law could bind a man to his community. Likewise, no man would be bound by duty to the common good of his people. Indeed, to say that he has “a people” at all would be a mere poetic phrasing, since he could drop said people and get a new one tomorrow if he felt like it. Disagree with a law? Abandon the government you dislike and make a new one in your neighborhood! You have a right to self-determination, you and your mates, so have at it. Nobody has the right to crush your rebellion.
The nation, then, is reduced to a voluntary contract that one can unilaterally dissolve. None can be accused of being in breach. Therefore, the nation is a sort of shopping mall. Visit the one that is most convenient for you, self-determinant man. Follow the rules; or don’t. This is the inescapable logical conclusion of what a right to self-determination must mean.
You can see, friends, that this is total nonsense. The nation is not a mere shopping mall. The political community necessarily cannot be a simple voluntary contract from which one can unilaterally emancipate himself. For a political community to mean anything, it must bind an individual to itself by the sovereign power of law. Law, dear audience, is an august and beautiful thing. It makes the difference between the cutthroat world of the jungle and the security of the common good of the entire nation.
Therefore, we must reject the idea of self-determination because it is self-evidently absurd. Against it, we should affirm that nations are lawfully constituted among men, yes, but not in the Hobbesian manner of an entente between competitors. No, citizens are true friends in the peace wrought by lawful constitution. They are bound to serve God, nation, and family. The public good comes before and is higher than the private (tell that to your closest libertarian and fasten yourself in for some high quality entertainment) good of individuals.
Let’s further apply the maxim that animates the Catalans to some hypothetical situations. Could not immigrant communities in France breakaway if they find it convenient to rule their own no-go zones under sharia? What about ghettos in America, or the American Southwest’s largely Spanish-speaking illegal Mexican community? Could Chicago unilaterally emancipate itself from America? Los Angeles or Miami?
The thought of it is ridiculous, of course. The principle of self-determination is the principle of anarchy. It lends itself to being cynically used by demagogues and dictators, as well as globalists, to manipulate affairs for private gain.
In Spain, the declaration of secession is in direct violation of the Spanish Constitution of 1978. The Spanish government has declared it illegal, has put out a warrant for the arrest of Carles Puigdemont (who was called a “rebel,” which is to say that he is guilty of sedition or treason and, in saner times, would be lawfully condemned to death and quickly dispatched), and is now going to rule Catalonia directly from Madrid.
I think many of you probably feel tempted to support Catalonia because their cause harms the EU. To that, I advise caution. First, I offer that the EU is on borrowed time as it is, given its instability coupled with its exponentially mounting troubles. Second, and here’s the important part, we shouldn’t be reduced to defending sedition because it harms the cause of our enemies. To fight honorably against globalism, we should rather uphold the rule of law wielded by sovereign nation-states against the lawless realpolitik and cynicism of Brussels and the Party of Davos.
It is the rule of true law that is the accomplishment of the Greeks and Romans, the medieval polities of Europe, and which is the precious heritage bequeathed to us by our forefathers. The US State Department declared support for the Spanish government against the Catalans this morning, as of this writing. We honor our forefathers and make good sense by warmly embracing our country’s position here. Plus, we can stick it to Woodrow Wilson by opposing his stupid principle.
Spain will stay united, as I expect that Catalonia’s moment of independence will be brief. Patriotic Americans should join with patriotic Spaniards in welcoming this unity when it returns.