While I’m on the topic of secession, I thought I’d point readers to the upcoming vote in Catalonia to see if they want to secede from Spain. Central to my arguments for secession is the role that new states would have within a broader free trade zone (like the U.S. or the E.U.). For Catalonia, the British paper Telegraph reports:
Catalonia wants to collect its own taxes, to control how they are spent and it seems prepared to break away from Spain to do so.
But with a clear road map yet to be outlined the process of separating from Spain promises to be burdened with hurdles.
While Catalans prize their role as citizens of Europe, EU officials have warned that membership of the union won’t be automatic. Instead Catalonia would have to gain admission, joining the queue of a list of new European nations seeking membership, and the process would likely be blocked by a vengeful Spain.
This is key to not only Catalonia’s success, but also the success of secessionist movements everywhere. If regions within current states want independence, they have to be sure to not confuse political independence with economic independence. The latter will only lead to poverty. I highlight this point because new states formed during the beginning of the post-colonial revolution of the 60’s and 70s thought that economic independence was the key to liberty. How wrong they were.
The key to the velvet divorce of Czechoslovakia and the peaceful dissolution of the USSR was international recognition of the new states. The reason why secession failed in the Balkans, in Africa, and in Asia is because the international community did not recognize the new states because of various geopolitical reasons.
If Catalonia is to be successful, it will have to be a member of the EU, or find free trade agreements with a number of states as quickly as possible. My one suspicion I hold about secessionist movements is they tend to be parochial, and falsely believe that autarky is the best way to prosperity.
Let us hope the Catalonians continue to press forward with plans to be a part of the EuroZone, and that Spain will not be nearly as jealous as pundits believe it will be. If Catalonia is able to join the EuroZone fairly quickly, it may lay the path for the creation of more new states within the EuroZone, but also throughout the world. Despite my anti-statist views, I wholeheartedly think that more states are better than fewer. It’s counterintuitive, I know, but so is the argument that gutting the defense budget of the US and bringing troops home from rich regions of the world is good for national (and global) security. (h/t LDL2)