Independence — it stands before men who dream of glory, trapped in the conflagration of macabre, but who charge nonetheless for the dream of it. In the jungles of Vietnam, it was the Viet Cong inundating from the trees in the legendary Tet Offensive, throwing their lives to the roar of gunfire for it. In the Gold Coast, it was the educated Kwame Nkrumah in Ghana leading the militant Pan-African masses to rebellion against their imperial oppressors to the dissonant tempo of AK-47 fire. In Argentina, it was the arduous trek across the Ande Mountains by General Jose de San Martin into the conquest of Spanish controlled Chile. In the United States, it was the valor of men fighting in the winter frost against a colossal enemy, and who oddly won. It is bloodthirsty, this vision, or at least it was.
Independence today is politicized. It is the juxtaposition of the expressive and disjointed improvisation of gunfire — a modest Mussorgsky piece — to the soulful and harmonic chants of a peaceful people, akin to a Beethoven composition. Thirty years ago, independence was sacrificial imprisonment for political dissent in opposition to violence. Before that it was starving oneself and participating in the politics of the British Raj. The independence movement has changed, becoming diplomatic. Nevertheless, the question remains whether the approach works and whether independence itself really is beneficial.
Spain has been undergoing the threat of economic collapse due to excessive borrowing for years, and has become ominous for the future of the Eurozone. In response, the EU has been working with Spain to provide austerity measures so the bailout will be effective.
Just when the whole rescue seemed possible, Catalonia happened. Catalonians, on their National Day, Sept. 11, flocked from their homes not just to celebrate, but also to push for Catalonian autonomy. What is most concerning is that Catalonia also happens to be a fountain of wealth in Spain, with profitable manufacturing, tourism and shipping industries that provide Spain, with the bulk of its revenue. Catalonia’s demands are not shocking nor novel in Spain, for unrest has been growing in the region for years since the formation of the Eurozone.
And then there’s a region called Basque. Basque is home to the ETA, a leftist separatist group that uses terror tactics to achieve the partition of the region. Its influence is widespread throughout Spain’s northern regions. At its height, the ETA was responsible for more than 100 deaths a year. The more successful one of its goals is actually the Basque government, which has its own parliament and control over education and tax collection. The Eurozone will likely shut down Catalonia in an attempt to keep their economy from destabilizing.
Spain’s trend is not isolated, which tells us something about independence in general. Oct. 2 marked the birthday of Mahatmas Gandhi, and, not surprisingly, a national holiday. Though, on a day marked by the progress of peace and cooperation, just a little bit north, in Kashmir, three sarpanches were killed. The partition of Kashmir is actually blamed on Gandhi. Independence does not mean the end of violence. To seek to achieve something in peace is certainly noble, but it should also be taken with a grain of salt because it is in no way an indication of peace once the threshold has been passed. The day after Martin Luther King was assassinated, over 100 cities were set aflame in indignation. I’m not saying don’t strive, Catalonia, but don’t be surprised if your dream becomes a nightmare.
Nikolas Reda-Castelo is a contributing columnist. Email him at [email protected]