Fascist Zeppelins over Catalonia

This is not a forecast so much as a warning. Events in Spain should be reminding us all what a fragile thing democracy is. For anyone who’s missed it while following the aftermath of hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico, the various scandals of the Trump administration, the current failures of the Conservative Government in the UK and the horrific mass shooting in Las Vegas here’s a short summary.

Catalonia’s pro independence regional government tries to hold a binding referendum on independence.The national government of Spain declares that the referendum is illegal because it goes against the Spanish constitution. The local government decides to hold the referendum anyway. The national government sends in the army and the Guardia Civil (a military police force) to suppress the vote.  Many people try to vote anyway. In some places Catalan police officers and Firefighters form human shields to try to protect civilians. Violence erupts. The Guardia Civil are accused by independent observers of a disproportionate response including firing rubber bullets and baton rounds into crowds of peaceful protesters, forcibly seizing ballot boxes and interfering with the medical treatment of protesters and  bystanders.

After all this the vote was counted anyway. The result was 90% in favour of independence on 42.3% turnout. Now you could argue that the turnout is a bit low for such an important decision but given that people were being beaten unconscious and shot at for trying to vote it seems pretty high to me.

There’s something very worrying in all this. Why would a democratic government react to local democracy with such force? Why isn’t the rest of Spain up in arms at the very idea? Did Spain really throw off Fascism with the fall of the Franco regime? Is this some alternative Spain where the Fascists never went away leaking through?

For a more sensible overview on this try Another Angry Voice.

If you’re wondering what all this Zeppelin stuff is about check out my Zeppelin page for an explanation.

 

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The Illusion of Control.

One of the hardest things adults have to do is to deal with the fact of our own powerlessness. This is not a thing we like to talk about. They don’t make motivational posters about it.  The terrible paradox of adulthood is that we’re responsible for ourselves and those who rely on us but we often have very little control over what happens.

Oh how we love to cling to the illusion of control. To the idea that self sufficiency is possible. We cook a meal from scratch and we’re proud of how we did it for ourselves all while ignoring the hundreds of other humans who farmed, gathered or caught the basic ingredients and they many thousands of others in the supply chain that got it to our kitchens. We are none of us independent.

And we have so little control over our circumstances.  This time last week I was a European. I was a citizen of the EU with all the benefits and responsibility that entails. It’s a pretty sweet deal – guaranteed human rights, safety at work regulations and freedom of movement.  This week not so much. And there was nothing I could do about it.

I voted, as most other Scots did, to remain in the EU. There was nothing I could do to stop the lies told by the pro-Brexit politicians that were magnified by the pro-Brexit press and then repeated by the BBC and others. I can demonstrate all the critical thinking in the world but it will still only be seen by the people I know. I can look at a headline in the pro-Brexit press and know that it’s a lie and I can find the paragraph in the body of the article that proves it but that’s not going to change anyone’s mind.

Now we are out of Europe. My money is worth less than it was last week. Soon prices will rise. I have no control over either of those facts. Oh sure I can choose what to spend my meager funds on but I’ve got no control on how far they go and you can only cut back so much.

My First Minister is in Europe right now trying to negotiate for Scotland to stay but it’s not looking good.  The EU is angry enough at the UK to want to give us all a sound kicking. The future of the EU relies on persuading wobbly member states that leaving sucks. You’d think they’d be delighted to let Scotland stay but that would mean recognising Scotland as a country in its own right and some member states (Looking at Spain here) would rather fuck Scotland over than risk their own autonomous regions getting the idea that they could be countries too.

So my country could be stuck in limbo for 2 years or more. We can go for another referendum but we’ve seen twice now how many of the press will straight up lie to get what they want and how few of the people are good at spotting that. The Westminster Government is likely to be hardened against the idea of Scottish Independence. They may refuse permission to hold the referendum and they might ignore the result if they don’t like it. There’s a part of me that wonders how they’d stop us if we really wanted to leave but there’s another part of me that really doesn’t want to find out.

My life is considerably more fucked than it was this time last week and there’s nothing I can do or could have done to change any of this.

I don’t have a snappy conclusion to add to this. Just hold each other. Tell the people you love that you love them. Be grateful for what you have but know that no matter how hard you worked for it there are others out there who worked just as hard and got nothing.

I’m not suggesting that effort is useless, just that it’s not the only factor. So I’ll leave you with a saying that my Dad was fond of. He used to quote a famous golfer (I don’t know which one, probably Gary Player or Lee Travino) who said of a ‘lucky’ shot, “The more I practice the luckier I get.” It’s a good thing to remember. It’s also important to remember that golfers often get hit by lightning.