First Catalonia, then Sápmi
In my head, Spain is Spain. Since I was a kid Spain has never changed. I was vaguely aware of the Spanish Revolution in the 1930's and the works of Ernest Hemingway, but I am not a student of Spanish History. Now since the turn of the 20th century, I am familiar with other evolving geography in Europe. The splitting and re-unification of Germany, the trouble in the Baltics, the creation and dissolving of Yugoslavia. You get the point.
So I looked up the History of Spain and came up with a map of Spain, from 1648. 1648!!!
Why is Catalonia in the process of secession? Madrid is not slaughtering Catalonians in the streets, they're just not. This is not like when South Sudan left the Sudan. Now hardcore Catalonians would scream passionately at me, we were independent, in 1659! And during the Napoleonic Wars we were a part of France! And during the Carlist Wars.....
I have tried to get up to speed on why the Catalonians are upset and the 3 things that keep coming up are:
They want more autonomy.
They make up a greater percentage of the gross national product than other regions of Spain.
Now I did learn about General Franco killing thousands in the 30's, the last time the Catalonian Independence movement had any traction. But it was a Civil War, half a million died across the entire country. The atrocities were not isolated to the Catalonian Region.
Last month, Beacon of Speech asked the question: What would happen to the Barcelona soccer club if Catalonia was successful at secession. Then I went on an ESPN site and raised the same question. A spectacularly angry woman wrote to me, "soccer does not matter. Only the freedom for my people in Catalonia from the tyrants in Madrid."
Again, I live in America, I don't live in Spain. Lots of Americans complain of the tyranny from Washington D.C. I know a lot of them personally. But I have never, EVER, heard of anyone saying the only thing that matters is "the freedom for my people in Ohio from the tyrants in Washington D.C." I think people in Europe may be delusional.
I don't make that statement lightly. I say it because I came across this map online and it was like an electric shock.
Click on the map for the whole article in the Sunday Express
Italicized Names indicate regions with movements arguing for greater autonomy.
Non-Italicized Names indicate regions with important secessionist movements.
The Faroe Islands wants independence?
The Isle of Man?
Where does it stop?
50 new countries in Europe? Including a total splintering of Spain?
(I already knew about Scotland.)
The one region that caught my eye was Sapmi. The area of Sapmi is 150,000 square miles across northern Norway, Sweden, Finland, and Russia. With a population of around 2,000,000, quick math reveals that's about 13 people per square mile. Commonly known as Lapland, they're not looking for independence, just autonomy. Autonomy from what? The largest communities in the Sapmi region have population centers of thousands. Not millions. Not hundreds of thousands. Thousands.
Let me put it another way. I live in Cleveland–Elyria Metropolitan Statistical Area. The population of the 5 counties around Cleveland is coincidentally around 2 million, also. Not in my wildest dreams could I imagine the Cleveland MSA asking for autonomy inside of the United States.
Why am I so incredulous?
I googled the best places to live in the world:
The Economic Times: #2 Norway
Forbes: #5 Sweden
U.S. News and World Reports: #6 Sweden, #10 Norway
Mic Magazine: #1 Norway
Citi Io: #2 Sweden, #3 Norway
If the people in Norway and Sweden aren't happy, what chance do the rest of us have? You know, countries where there's real problems and real diversity?
Europe should be uniting, not fracturing. Creating tiny population centers does not position Europe for the future, it weakens economies that are already aging. Don't get me wrong, I'm all for secession when the majority is brutally repressing minority regions. Iraq should probably be broken into 4 countries. And Africa? Holy Cow, artificial boundaries abound from the African Colonization Era, a lot of problems could be eradicated by some newly re-drawn boundaries.
BUT EUROPE? At some point their arrogance will be their downfall. If the European Union disintegrates, and I believe Catalonian Independence could be the first domino, the days of World Wars and Civil Wars in Europe could be returning.
Maybe I'm misreading the political evolution on the other side of the Atlantic and the European Union has a secret plan for it's members to give up their sovereignty and voluntarily become states within a larger entity. Eh, I'm not sure there's some grand vision hidden within the walls of EU's grand headquarters in Brussels.
Editors Note: Notice we said World Wars in Europe. World Wars in Asia? That could be right around the corner.