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    (Original post by Notorious_B.I.G.)
    If Scotland's Parliament acted outside its powers, I am sure you'd opt for the Supreme Court to deal with the issue rather than letting it be decided by political debate. We are ultimately predisposed to orthodoxy, until we are not. The status quo is presumed until it is rebutted, and we only rebut it when we sympathise with the revolution. Winston Smith is a hero; Jihadi John is not.

    Apologies, yes, I have read Hart. Do you think he shines light on the Catalan situation?
    No, I think he shines light on the conceptual question involved here, which as put variously in this thread comes down to whether the Spanish law settles the matter of whether Spanish law ought to be followed.

    Of course if Scotland's Parliament acted outside of its powers I would have the UK Supreme Court rule upon it, and that would settle the matter within the UK legal system. If, however, Scotland sought to repudiate the UK legal system, clearly the UK Supreme Court's ruling would not settle the matter. It would derive its power from, and operate within, a system of laws which is being denied in the first place.

    If your argument is that Catalonia ought to follow Spanish law, for whatever reason you think that is the case, that is a different matter. You are then making a non-circular argument, independent of the content of Spanish law, in favour of Catalonia recognising and being a part of that legal system.

    To state straightforwardly, however, as I've seen done many times now, that the Catalan referendum and Catalonian independence is 'illegal', as though that is determinative of the issue, imho reveals a very simplistic analysis of the situation. If your argument against Catalan independence is simply 'it's illegal under Spanish law', OP's response of 'so what?' is pretty hard to meet.
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    (Original post by L i b)
    Yes, through legal means. This is what is called the "rule of law" and is generally considered to be essential in a civilised society. It protects individuals, who are not governed by rules decided on by a whim - or rules that are simply applied differently on the basis of some individual's prejudices.



    I'm not really sure what this has to do with fascism, other than that fascism was a form of government. What you seem to object to in this case is a state exercising authority: all states do that within the structure of the rules that are created. Spain is of course a liberal democracy.

    In terms of the rule itself, Spanish law does not allow for unilateral secession of its subdivisions. Neither do many countries (indeed, I can only think of a small number of examples where that is possible) - and only within pre-established conditions. The United States of course and many countries besides have fought large-scale civil conflicts on this principle.

    As I've said, I can completely understand why most countries do not provide their own break-up: a state that allows such a free-for-all will not long endure and in all reality, power will be entirely concentrated in whichever unit it grants these rights to. The state itself would become completely impotent.
    Everything the poster disagrees with = fascism, which is highly convenient. He doesn't value logic at all.
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    (Original post by Notorious_B.I.G.)
    Yet we have that response to Cornish, Welsh, Scottish, Northern Irish, North East England, London movements.

    The "it's illegal" only becomes inoperative when we subjectively decide that the movement has merit and is in the right.
    Or when they fight for independence...
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    (Original post by TimmonaPortella)
    No, I think he shines light on the conceptual question involved here, which as put variously in this thread comes down to whether the Spanish law settles the matter of whether Spanish law ought to be followed.

    Of course if Scotland's Parliament acted outside of its powers I would have the UK Supreme Court rule upon it, and that would settle the matter within the UK legal system. If, however, Scotland sought to repudiate the UK legal system, clearly the UK Supreme Court's ruling would not settle the matter. It would derive its power from, and operate within, a system of laws which is being denied in the first place.

    If your argument is that Catalonia ought to follow Spanish law, for whatever reason you think that is the case, that is a different matter. You are then making a non-circular argument, independent of the content of Spanish law, in favour of Catalonia recognising and being a part of that legal system.

    To state straightforwardly, however, as I've seen done many times now, that the Catalan referendum and Catalonian independence is 'illegal', as though that is determinative of the issue, imho reveals a very simplistic analysis of the situation. If your argument against Catalan independence is simply 'it's illegal under Spanish law', OP's response of 'so what?' is pretty hard to meet.
    There is a very clear distinction between views on Spanish unity and Catalan nationalism on one hand, and breaking the law of Spain on the other. You mention Scotland - the Scottish nationalists, to their credit, have used legal means to advance their position - even though, in general, I think their politics are utterly backward.

    The wider point however is this: if someone breaks the law, they go to jail. Someone thinking that the law shouldn't apply to them does not mean it doesn't. All of these things are equally true whether you are the Premier of Catalonia or a knocking-shop proprietor in downtown Madrid.
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    (Original post by L i b)
    There is a very clear distinction between views on Spanish unity and Catalan nationalism on one hand, and breaking the law of Spain on the other. You mention Scotland - the Scottish nationalists, to their credit, have used legal means to advance their position - even though, in general, I think their politics are utterly backward.

    The wider point however is this: if someone breaks the law, they go to jail. Someone thinking that the law shouldn't apply to them does not mean it doesn't. All of these things are equally true whether you are the Premier of Catalonia or a knocking-shop proprietor in downtown Madrid.
    I can imagine what would happen if, say, the people of Bradford decided to hold a unilateral referendum in which the majority voted to become an independent Islamic State with Sharia Law.
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    (Original post by uberteknik)
    I can imagine what would happen if, say, the people of Bradford decided to hold a unilateral referendum in which the majority voted to become an independent Islamic State with Sharia Law.
    Well, exactly. This sort of sloppy thinking is a charter for all sorts of potential evils.

    Let's remember those displays of force by national governments against regional ones, upholding boring things like nationally applicable laws. Like when Governor George Wallace had to be shifted from a university door in Alabama where he was blocking Supreme Court mandated racial integration by John F Kennedy sending the National Guard to shift him. He was elected with 96% of the vote (albeit after a great deal of improper activity to disenfranchise minority voters).

    But the problem isn't really about the policies being pursued: it's that when the rule of law breaks down, rule becomes arbitrary and any grand conceptions of liberty go out the window.
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    (Original post by L i b)
    The wider point however is this: if someone breaks the law, they go to jail. Someone thinking that the law shouldn't apply to them does not mean it doesn't. All of these things are equally true whether you are the Premier of Catalonia or a knocking-shop proprietor in downtown Madrid.
    If it can be enforced -- which is precisely the point. Where an individual thinks the law doesn't apply to him it can straightforwardly be enforced against him. Where a region rejects and attempts to break away from a legal system this is less straightforward, and involves politics and diplomacy. Obviously Bradford, as in the poster's facile example above, does not have the political and/or diplomatic power as a region to break away from the UK. The question whether Catalonia can manage it, with its pre-existing autonomy and in-place regional representatives and systems of government and enforcement, is a much more realistic one.

    In such a case to rely on the content of the original state's law as an argument that the region should not break away, if this is not accompanied by a further supporting argument as to why the region should follow the original state's law, is patently ridiculous. It is the authority and legitimacy of that legal system that is questioned in the first place. In other words, OP has it exactly right. If you were to make the argument to a Catalan nationalist that they should stop what they are doing because they are in breach of Spanish law they would rightly look at you with bemusement, because you would clearly not have understood the entire point of what they are doing.
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    Sometimes the law and democracy are in conflict. If the large majority of people in a region want to have a vote on a serious issue, and elect a government in a recognised parliament who want to hold that vote then that is clearly the democratic will. If the law says that they can't (because they're worried about the result) then that is undemocratic basically by definition.

    Saying "but it's the law" isn't a get-out clause. Pro-democracy campaigners act against the law all the time, in countries where democratic rights are not respected.

    This is a complicated case and it's absolutely a fair to support the Spanish law, but democratic it is not.
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    (Original post by Rinsed)
    Sometimes the law and democracy are in conflict. If the large majority of people in a region want to have a vote on a serious issue, and elect a government in a recognised parliament who want to hold that vote then that is clearly the democratic will.
    Nope. Without law, democracy is meaningless: it can only exist within a framework of established rules. In Catalonia, these rules are quite clear: the relevant demos for exercise of such constitutional functions is the Spanish one.

    Democracy without a grasp of this would be nothing short of chaos. Instead, it requires that minorities accept the decision of the majority. In terms of centrally controlled powers, it is clear that even a majority of Catalans is still a minority of Spaniards.

    If the law says that they can't (because they're worried about the result) then that is undemocratic basically by definition.
    This will be the the Spanish constitution, approved by 95% of people in Catalonia in the referendum in 1978 (higher, incidentally, than the nation-wide result).

    Saying "but it's the law" isn't a get-out clause. Pro-democracy campaigners act against the law all the time, in countries where democratic rights are not respected.
    There is a difference between working outside of the law in an authoritarian, undemocratic state and breaking the law in a liberal democracy where all people have a fair and equal involvement in the democratic life of the state.
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    On one hand, I think the Catalonians should be allowed a legitimate referendum if they want one, but on the otherhand, at the same time, I cannot think of a good reason why each individual should not be allowed to declare their house an independent nation.
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    This is why I support what Russia did in Crimmea. If a country wants independence. Or to split off they should get it.
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    (Original post by ChickenMadness)
    This is why I support what Russia did in Crimmea. If a country wants independence. Or to split off they should get it.
    Ridiculous to apply a universal right of secession to anyone who wants it. States will no longer have any authority at all over the areas that they have powers.

    (Original post by Onde)
    On one hand, I think the Catalonians should be allowed a legitimate referendum if they want one, but on the otherhand, at the same time, I cannot think of a good reason why each individual should not be allowed to declare their house an independent nation.
    Potentially the problems that an entirely anarchic society would cause?
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    (Original post by L i b)
    Ridiculous to apply a universal right of secession to anyone who wants it. States will no longer have any authority at all over the areas that they have powers.



    Potentially the problems that an entirely anarchic society would cause?
    Power to the people. Not the state. State officials are servants of the people. Not the other way around.
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    (Original post by L i b)
    Ridiculous to apply a universal right of secession to anyone who wants it. States will no longer have any authority at all over the areas that they have powers.



    Potentially the problems that an entirely anarchic society would cause?
    It is ridiculously simplistic to consider this purely as a binary question of 'right'. A moment's thought reveals it to be a more involved question of power, politics, and diplomacy.
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    (Original post by L i b)
    Nope. Without law, democracy is meaningless: it can only exist within a framework of established rules. In Catalonia, these rules are quite clear: the relevant demos for exercise of such constitutional functions is the Spanish one.

    Democracy without a grasp of this would be nothing short of chaos. Instead, it requires that minorities accept the decision of the majority. In terms of centrally controlled powers, it is clear that even a majority of Catalans is still a minority of Spaniards.

    This will be the the Spanish constitution, approved by 95% of people in Catalonia in the referendum in 1978 (higher, incidentally, than the nation-wide result).

    There is a difference between working outside of the law in an authoritarian, undemocratic state and breaking the law in a liberal democracy where all people have a fair and equal involvement in the democratic life of the state.
    That Catalans can vote in Spanish elections is neither here nor there, if Spanish police can storm through Catalan streets, seizing ballot boxes, breaking up peaceful protests and bashing old ladies on the head. If it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck...

    Certainly a stable democracy requires laws. But those laws require popular consent, and what happens when that is lost, as it surely has been in Catalonia? Legal niceties be damned, you cannot just foist laws on an unwilling population. If popular consent cannot be regained then how can Spain continue to function as a unified democracy?
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    (Original post by Onde)
    On one hand, I think the Catalonians should be allowed a legitimate referendum if they want one, but on the otherhand, at the same time, I cannot think of a good reason why each individual should not be allowed to declare their house an independent nation.
    Anarchy is such a swell idea. But alas, it would lead to anarchy.

    It's hard to define a clear boundary for when a region and population deserve recognition as a legitimate demos, but surely Catalonia is well over the line.
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    (Original post by ChickenMadness)
    Power to the people. Not the state. State officials are servants of the people. Not the other way around.
    So oddly, in a campaign for people power, you're essentially writing off the existence of tiered and local government? As the Americans recognised in the 18th century, not concentrating power in one absolute entity is a more effective guarantee of liberty.

    "The People" however, has a distinct meaning. In a democracy, the people - the demos if you like - have to be defined and delineated for it to function. Moreover, their activity has to exist in the context of understood rules and laws to be meaningful.

    That the state exists in concept as an expression of the popular will of the people is pretty irrelevant to the question of secession. In a democracy, within whatever boundaries and whatever tiers, that popular sovereignty exercises itself. However the state remains charged with upholding that sovereignty, that popular will.

    (Original post by TimmonaPortella)
    It is ridiculously simplistic to consider this purely as a binary question of 'right'. A moment's thought reveals it to be a more involved question of power, politics, and diplomacy.
    It's not in any way a moral judgement - that's an entirely practical contention I made: that for states to exist, there has to be the authority to keep them unified and to be able to enforce democratic decisions.
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    (Original post by Rinsed)
    That Catalans can vote in Spanish elections is neither here nor there, if Spanish police can storm through Catalan streets, seizing ballot boxes, breaking up peaceful protests and bashing old ladies on the head. If it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck...
    It's not "neither here nor there", it's a complete involvement in the democratic life of the nation-state. The police, of course, had a right - in fact, a duty - to enforce a court order on the illegal referendum: that is quite proper.

    I do accept that it seems some police officers behaved irresponsibly, but we know already that several of the high-profile photographs used over the past few days as evidence of police brutality were not as they seemed: being from entirely different protests, or even from completely different countries.

    In any case, the police being truncheon-happy with demonstrators gives a proper right to have that investigated. It does not mean the rule of law collapses entirely.

    Certainly a stable democracy requires laws. But those laws require popular consent, and what happens when that is lost, as it surely has been in Catalonia?
    There is a difference between popular consent and universal agreement. I could point out that 95% of the Catalan population approved of this particular rule, but that's not the core of my point. Instead it is this: that a minority will always disagree with any decision and democratic assent is given on the basis of clear and understood rules within a system of laws.

    That some people, or even a group of people, within that structure disagree is not only not a problem - it's pretty much to be expected. We don't, for example, expect the electoral map of the UK to go entirely blue or entirely red depending on who gets into government.

    Legal niceties be damned, you cannot just foist laws on an unwilling population.
    On a sub-state level, we do this all the time. A law that is supported in the rural Midlands may be very much opposed in London, or radically supported in Northern Ireland but opposed in Edinburgh. Can you seriously justify saying that we shouldn't extent, say, laws on same-sex marriage to the Hebrides simply because the people there may oppose it?

    This does of course create another question - whether we should be legislating extensively over individuals. Personally, I think it is for the state to make decisions that increase the autonomy of the individual as much as possible rather than detracting from it.
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    (Original post by L i b)
    Potentially the problems that an entirely anarchic society would cause?
    (Original post by Rinsed)
    Anarchy is such a swell idea. But alas, it would lead to anarchy.

    It's hard to define a clear boundary for when a region and population deserve recognition as a legitimate demos, but surely Catalonia is well over the line.
    I agree that an :archaic: anarchic society would be bad on the whole, but my point is that it is not easy for me to determine to what extent individuals should have the right to self-determination, which I may well consider the primary right.
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    (Original post by Onde)
    I agree that an archaic society would be bad on the whole, but my point is that it is not easy for me to determine to what extent individuals should have the right to self-determination, which I may well consider the primary right.
    Individuals self-determine within a democratic state where all have equal involvement in its function. They are no less or more sovereign than any other in a democratic state.

    Individual liberty is of course a completely different question from secession and the creation of different governments. Indeed, my case is that allowing a fairly universal right to secession would be just as likely - in fact, more so - to endanger people's liberty.
 
 
 
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