I see my good friend David Gordon is out with an essay, Mises, Rothbard, and Catalonia, where he concludes with:
Mises and Rothbard both deemed it essential to apply libertarian principles to particular circumstances with the requisite practical judgment. In doing so, they argued, support for secession is almost always the preferred course.The essay in its entirety is very important as it delves into the thinking of Murray Rothbard and Ludwig von Mises on secession.
I will here attempt to put the essay conclusion and the entire essay under
closer examination to see whether the arguments of Mises and Rothbard are consistent with advocacy in favor of current day secession for Catalonia.
I also note that the commentary begins very carefully: "Many people in Catalonia wish to secede from Spain and form their own country..."
But the word many does not provide us with strong insight. How many is many: 1 million, 2 million, 3 million or more? I say this is not strong insight because Daniel Lacalle, a Spanish economist and libertarian who lives in Spain, tells us that "many" are opposed to secession.
This "many," then, leads to quite the numbers stalemate-- if numbers held weight.
Dr. Gordon quotes Ludwig von Mises from his work Omnipotent Government, where he supported an independent Catalonia.
But Omnipotent Government was written in 1944 and Mises provided no insight into the political conditions in Spain at the time and what they would have been like in an independent Catalonia at that time. This is of particular concern, present day, because Mises went on to say in the book that secession wouldn't be necessary under all circumstances (my highlight):
Señor Salvador de Madariaga is one of the most internationally minded of men. He is a scholar, a statesman, and a writer, and is perfectly familiar with the English and French languages and literatures. He is a democrat, a progressive, and an enthusiastic supporter of the League of Nations and of all endeavors to make peace durable. Yet his opinions on the political problems of his own country and nation are animated by the spirit of intransigent nationalism. He condemns the demands of the Catalans and the Basques for independence, and advocates Castilian hegemony for racial, historical, geographical, linguistic, religious, and economic considerations. It would be justifiable if Sr. Madariaga were to refute the claims of these linguistic groups on the ground that it is impossible to draw undisputed border lines and that their independence would therefore not eliminate but perpetuate the causes of conflict; or if he were in favor of a transformation of the Spanish state of Castilian hegemony into a state in which every linguistic group enjoyed the freedom to use its own idiom. But this is not at all the plan of Sr. Madariaga. He does not advocate the substitution of a supernational government of the three linguistic groups, Castilians, Catalans, and Basques, for the Castile dominated state of Spain.Thus, Mises support of a separate Catalonia was limited. He makes clear that his position would have been different if Spain would have allowed Catalonia more freedoms particularly the use of the local idiomatic language.
Wikipedia informs that the above highlighted Mises concern was met:
Originating in the historic territory of Catalonia, Catalan has enjoyed special status since the approval of the Statute of Autonomy of 1979 which declares it to be "Catalonia's own language", a term which signifies a language given special legal status within a Spanish territory, or which is historically spoken within a given region.And the Statute brought much more:
After Franco's death in 1975, Catalonia voted for the adoption of a democratic Spanish Constitution in 1978, in which Catalonia recovered political and cultural autonomy, restoring the Generalitat (exiled since the end of the Civil War in 1939) in 1977 and adopting a new Statute of Autonomy in 1979. [Note some articles of the 1977 statute were later declared invalid by a Spanish court-RW]Thus, it is not at all clear that Mises would support a Catalonia secession under current conditions
Mises is also correctly identified with this view in support of secession:
Preserving peace holds primary importance.But if secessionist agitators start a civil war, how is this more peaceful? Was the horrific U.S. Civil War, a secessionist triggered war, peaceful? Did the South achieve anything by this war?
Further, how is it in any meaningful sense more peaceful domestically if a state becomes more oppressive? Or are separatists prepared to argue that Auschwitz or a Russian gulag were places of peace because there were no pitched battles? Do they really think greater oppression represents an advance toward "peace and prosperity"?
Dr. Gordon in the paper also quotes Murray Rothbard (my highlight):
Rothbard had little use for the notion, held by some libertarians, that because only individuals exist, nations have no significance. “We must not fall into a nihilist trap. While only individuals exist individuals do not exist as isolated and hermetically sealed atoms. Statists traditionally charge libertarians and individualists with being 'atomistic individualists,' and the charge, one hopes, has always been incorrect and misconceived. Individuals may be the only reality, but they influence each other, past and present, and all individuals grow up in a common culture and language.” Like Mises, Rothbard does not require a seceding group to be classical liberal in orientation in order to secede. If it is not, that is unfortunate; but the members of the group do not lose their right to form a new political association.If we are to recognize that nations have significance, and they do, are we not allowed to look at the nature of the oppression of these significant different nations?
Isn't the real problem the unrealistic pretzel-like belief that a secession into a more oppressive state would somehow ultimately lead, through a maze of new oppressive states, to libertarianism on earth?
If the current government of Spain provides more liberty for those who want liberty in Catalonia, then shouldn't we support our libertarian brothers and sisters in Catalonia in their fight against secession, and the greater oppression that secession would bring, and not be seduced by the "Secession always!" siren?
Secession only makes sense when it is moving toward liberty and can be accomplished with limited costs. As far as Catalonia...
Down with the communist dog separatists of Catalonia!