Europe Hostage to the Ludicrous Hyperbole of the Spanish Constitution
By Craig Murray: Borders shift, over time, as the tides of human history and interaction ebb and flow. They always have and they always will. A Historic Atlas of Europe at 100 year intervals shows up the constant flux.
All within only the last 100 years, even a really major state like Poland has started by not existing at all, having been abolished 130 years previously, then come back into existence for two decades, then been abolished again, then been reinstated once more but entirely shifted a full two hundred miles westward from its previous incarnation.
There have been six truly major boundary and status changes to Germany in the last 150 years, the last only 27 years ago.
A glance at a historical atlas of Europe century by century shows a kaleidoscope of continuing shifts in states as they form and reform, move, merge and dissolve. It is the normal state of Europe. Nor is it in any sense slowing down; this is not a process which has stopped. Even in the short period since I left university, eight states currently members of the European Union have undergone truly drastic changes to their national boundaries or nation state status.
Even Hitler was only nuts enough to think his Reich would last for a thousand years. Spain (which incidentally was almost entirely Muslim a thousand years ago) tops Hitler for mad ambition. Spain believes its current borders will last forever. The Constitution specifies the “indissoluble unity” of Spain. This plainly mad claim is the entire basis of the “legalistic” stance of Rajoy. An excellent article today by Gerry Adams in the Guardian points out that Rajoy is making negotiation impossible by insisting on the precondition that it is illegal even to discuss Catalan independence.
I do not know how long the human race will last. I tend to the optimistic assumption that it will have a good few thousand more years to run. It is vaguely amusing that some people believe that, whatever the state of Europe and human societal organisation in 3017, there will still be an indissoluble Spanish nation with its existing frontiers. I suspect those people like to forget that in 1017 their ancestors were Muslims. They also, of course, do want to see a border change in having Gibraltar returned to Spain – something in which I always supported them unequivocally, until the Guardia Civil in Catalonia beating old women one Sunday, and the fascists marching down the street the next, gave me doubts.
I suppose if you are a right wing Catholic you are more inclined to a mystical view of indissoluble human unions that people whose life view is more grounded in reality. Nobody in their right mind believes any of Europe’s current political boundaries will last forever. The entire Western Establishment and media did not just recognise, but pushed for, their dissolution when it was Yugoslavia or Serbia in question. But they have now, for reasons of right wing solidarity, adopted Spain’s “indissoluble union” hyperbole. Even Establishment outlets like the Economist which once claimed intellectual credentials, proclaim this daft clause as though it were God’s writ.
The boundaries of Europe change, all the time. They have throughout human history. The pace of those natural shifts has not slowed. It is part of the ebb and flow of human societies on this wonderful, culturally rich continent. To attempt suddenly to freeze all national borders is not just gross hypocrisy, given the attitude of the same political leaders to other border changes and to Spain’s demand for Gibraltar. It is an effort that could only be sustained by ever-increasing use of violence.
Spain has decided to stand on the crazed idea that it is indissoluble. The logic of that is that, if 100% of Catalans or Basques were to seek Independence, it still should not be allowed. Is that really a position Europe’s politicians wish to adopt?
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Craig Murray is an author, broadcaster and human rights activist. He was British Ambassador to Uzbekistan from August 2002 to October 2004