The Catalans have sailed into uncharted waters

Tuesday, November 11 2014 @ 11:33 PM JST

Contributed by: Y.Yamamoto

OUR GOAL IS TO MAKE YOU STOP TO THINK, AS WE ALWAYS PRACTICE HERE, RATHER THAN STOP THINKING. BEWARE NO ONE CAN DO THE THINKING ON YOUR BEHALF.



To put the world in order, we must first put the nation in order; to put the nation in order, we must put the family in order; to put the family in order, we must first set our hearts and brains right so as to cultivate our personal life.
       - English translation of Confucius' words 修身斉家治国平天下

On Sunday the Catalans went ahead with the "mock" vote on independence in defiance of the rulings by the Spanish Constitutional Court that a referendum, either formal or informal, is unconstitutional, while the Madrid government was looking the other way. According to provisional reports, 2.25 million people of the 5.4 million voting-age population have cast their ballots at 6,700-plus polling stations. By Japanese standard for "real" elections which cost taxpayers a tremendous amount of money each time, the estimated turnout for the Sunday vote which was readied mostly by volunteers is unusually high.

It goes without saying most of those who went to polling stations voted for secession while people who don't favor the idea just chose to stay home. Actually an interim report puts the rate of Si votes at 84.5%. But as I've said before, the real significance of the symbolic vote lies with something else than these numbers.


Catalan citizens are queuing to cast their ballots.

Josep-Lluis Carod-Rovira, former Vice President of
the government of Catalonia

In a YouTube video I found several days earlier, Josep-Lluis Carod-Rovira, former Vice President of the Catalan government, exquisitely described the situation facing the people of Catalonia. He said to the interviewer, "Catalonia is like Scotland, but Spain is not like Great Britain."

Apparently Carod-Rovira just intended to make it understandable to outsiders who have little insight into history of the nation-statehood. But you can't deny this is something like saying, "Okinawa is like Guam, but Japan is like Puerto Rico." That is very true, but it won't bring you any closer to an actionable idea to look at the problem from this angle.

As a matter of fact, no pro-independence Catalan thinks about transforming the Kingdom of Spain into a United Kingdom.

To begin with, Spain and the U.K., or any other two countries, aren't really comparable. I even doubt David Cameron allowed the Scots to hold a referendum because he is an ardent believer in the principle of democracy. Perhaps he just wanted to degas the Scots after consulting with one of those reliable bookies.

This apple-and-orange comparison aside, we are still curious to know where the Catalans are heading.

Some pro-secession Catalans say eventually they will be seeking an independent membership in the European Union and the United Nations, while some others say their ultimate goal is to build "a nation without a state." It seems there is no common goal shared among pro-independence people of Catalonia as yet. But this is quite natural because you never know the consequence of your action when you commit yourself to an unprecedented kind of initiative.

In response to my previous post, more than half-a-dozen people gave me their comments, either online or offline.

Ms. Lara, Chen Tien-shi, associate professor of anthropology at Waseda University was one of them. Although Lara reserved her opinion for the time being, she showed a keen interest in the novel idea about a nation without a state.

Aside from her teaching job, Lara has been dedicated to helping "stateless persons" out of every kind of persecution inflicted on them. Deep inside, however, she doesn't seem to be comfortable with the way brainless people at UNHCR have defined a stateless person as if he is a pest. So I think the notion of a nation without a state, i.e. a stateless nation, must be quite a challenge to her.

Last night I ran into Lara when I stepped out of the apartment building where I live. She was standing by the garbage dumping site designated for the shared use among residents in this block. In the dark Lara spotted me with her cat's eyes well before I did her with my cataract-suffering eyes. As usual we had a pleasant stand-talking for almost 30 minutes. I refrained from reminding Lara of her homework in part because I know she is too busy, as a teacher, a mother and a human-rights activist, to address a challenging issue such as this one.

Another reason we didn't touch on Catalonia is because we know we can't discuss such an intricate matter in 30 minutes. We must have had to resort to borrowed words if we had attempted to do so. A really new idea will never shape itself from old ones as the Catalans seem to be demonstrating to us.

More importantly, we are a rare species of people around here in that we always value living each moment of our everyday life with a creative attitude than exchanging worn-out words. These are why we just updated each other on how life is treating us these days in a way that was heartening to both of us.

Mr. Hiroaki Koide, associate professor at Kyoto University Research Reactor Institute, also gave me an interesting feedback. The conscientious nuclear scientist concluded his mail by saying he hopes the people of Okinawa will take a similar step in the not-too-distant future to liberate themselves from American colonists and their Japanese minions perhaps in one go. He doesn't specialize in anthropology. So I think this is the best thing we can expect from Mr. Koide.

Aside from these offline responses, two American gentlemen expressed their thoughts online. As usual I learned a lot from their ways of viewing the situation facing us today. Admittedly, though, I got the impression that they are more or less at a loss over what exactly to make of the cracks showing everywhere in the post-WWII regime embodied in the United Nations and the European Union.

It seems to me that in the West, nobody can foretell what the geopolitical landscape will look like after the imminent collapse of the American Empire, perhaps with the exceptions of these mentally-retarded doomsayers and our poor friend Ching Chong Chang.

But actually everybody should be able to envisage his future on his own, right or wrong. It's really amazing to know Obama, Merkel, or any other leader in the West, doesn't have the foggiest idea about what their follies will result in.

By contrast, Vladimir Putin seems to have a brain which isn't that empty. Recently when asked if he thinks we are witnessing Cold War II in the wake of the turmoils in Crimea, Ukraine and the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, the Russian President said:

"Nyet. In those days, Russia and America differed ideologically, but today we differ philosophically."

I think he's absolutely right.

In the last 238 years in America, and in the last 69 years in the rest of the world, people have taken it for granted that they are endowed with something "inalienable" which they are taught to call "natural rights."

It has never crossed their minds that Thomas Jefferson borrowed the "self-evident" and superstitious idea from John Locke simply because he thought it was a killer phrase that justified the killings of 25,000 Americans and 24,000 Britons in the American Revolutionary War.

Perhaps it was a valid idea for the propaganda to beautify their brutality, but not anymore. Now it justifies absolutely nothing.

Toward the end of WWII, it belatedly dawned on them that natural rights are not really natural. If the phrase should be interpreted to mean the rights to "Life, Liberty, and Property" as Locke put it, it is more applicable to animals than to human beings. In fact, it's purely an artificial thing invented by not-so-intelligent guys such as Locke and Jefferson.

But instead of going through a thorough soul-searching, people decided to reword the same old idea as human-rights.

The enactment of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 in the U.S. further aggravated the situation. Now the pathological obsession with human-rights has turned into a diversity cult which has absolutely nothing to do with Putin's philosophy. Even these anti-Semitic idiots who call themselves truth-seekers invariably base their delusive conspiracy theories on a childish premise that it constitutes an unforgivable crime to deprive someone of his "inalienable" right.

But the fact of the matter remains that throughout the prolonged American Century, practically all Americans and most West Europeans enjoyed their natural rights sitting on the heaps of millions of Japanese, Vietnamese, Afghan and Iraqi corpses. Now they are standing on their empty heads. Never again will they become able to walk on their feet.

In recent years I've learned and relearned, through my first-hand experience with the gang of robbers at the tax-collecting department of Yokohama City Hall, that my constitutional rights are nothing but a castle in the air.

But nevertheless, I am very proud of being one of these level-headed and modest East Asians like Chen Tien-shi and Hiroaki Koide, who have never dreamed of taking away anything from anyone, or giving it back to him.

I think we owe this trait to Chinese thinker Confucius who said 修身斉家治国平天下 two-and-a-half millenniums ago.

The Catalans are the people who live in one of the wealthiest regions of a European country which supposedly upholds a traditional value system based on democracy and Christianity.

For me it's a pleasant surprise to know these highly-inspired people are pursuing something really unprecedented with their unclouded insight and foresight into the history and the future of mankind.

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