Catalunya: Culture of War or Culture of Peace?
EUROPE, 6 Nov 2017
1 Nov 2017 – It seems that the people of Catalunya will vote in December whether to declare independence from Spain, i.e. to form a separate state.
If someone were to ask my advice about this election, I would say that it risks becoming a decision to move Catalunya towards the culture of war.
Here’s why I say this.
Over the course of history, the state has come to monopolize the culture of war. Those who seek to take over the state (revolutionaries) and those who seek to declare independence (separatists, nationalists) may have the best intentions for a culture of peace, but inevitably, once they arrive at state power, they take on the qualities of the state which include the culture of war.
Perhaps the most spectacular example is the Russian Revolution exactly one century ago. The revolution was carried out with the slogan of bread, peace and land, but once power was in the hands of the Bolsheviks, they were forced to make it a culture of war in order to defend against the invasions from the Europeans and Americans.
So, today, the people of Catalunya, if they declare independence, will be forced to form an army to defend against being invaded by Spain and its NATO allies, who, of course, are characterized by a culture of war.
Let us look at other examples of independence movements in our time. The independence of Bosnia/Herzogovina was marked by a bloody war with Serbia over the control of Sarajevo. For the first few years after the independence of the Ukraine from Russia, there was no war, but in the past few years, the secession of eastern provinces from the Ukraine has been marked by warfare, and each side remains armed and at the risk of further conflict, exacerbated by alliances with other states.
On the other hand, the independence movement of Quebec did not get to the point of establishing a separate country, and so the Quebecois and the rest of Canada never got to the point of military confrontation.
And coming to the present time, there are those who foresee the secession of California, Oregon and Washington State from Trump America, and a recent poll by Foreign Policy magazine foresees a real possibility of civil war in the United States. But we should not forget that the American Civil War caused by the secession of the South in 1860 was the bloodiest war ever fought by Americans.
There are good alternative for Catalunya, apart from secession.
Granted that Spain is not in good shape, either economically or politically. But instead of bailing out, Catalunya could help in its reform. Wouldn’t it be great if the people of Catalunya could persuade all of Spain to renounce its culture of war and seek through dialogue to establish a culture of peace with all of its citizens and its neighboring countries! A good start would be to withdraw from NATO!
David Adams is the coordinator of the Culture of Peace News Network. He retired in 2001 from UNESCO where he was the Director of the Unit for the UN International Year for the Culture of Peace. Previously, at Yale and Wesleyan Universities, he was a specialist on the brain mechanisms of aggressive behavior, the history of the culture of war, and the psychology of peace activists, and he helped to develop and publicize the Seville Statement on Violence.
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