A new age of self-determination

“When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them.” This is most of the preamble to the Declaration of Independence. Meditate on it for just a brief moment. These words were part of the summation of enlightenment political theory. Radical self-determination apart from the traditional and fool hardy associations of ourselves with the soil around us. Theory based only in reason, morality, and whenever possible peace.

This age and its legacy was not all encompassing, even in the West. It happened first peacefully in Great Britain’s Glorious Revolution. Then we see it again in the violent separatism of the Americans from a British government that would not let them go. We see its failure and lip service to it in the French Revolution. Finally it reached its real practical end in the Bolivarian Revolutions in South America. This really was the extent of it however. It is not easy to escape the shackles of violence and reciprocal oppression.

Some people thought that they saw a new era of this sort of revolutionary thought a number of years ago with the Arab Spring. As it turns out these were nothing more than the same conventional riots. They did not seek freedom and reform rather just a redress of their immediate grievances and the scalps of their current tyrants to be replaced with a new clique of them. All across North Africa and portions of the middle East the embers of revolutionary enlightenment burned out if they were ever present at all. We have become recently aware now however that they were not gone completely, that they still burn not just in the middle East but around the world.

What am I talking about? I am talking about the the secession of “Kurdistan” and   Catalonia. Let’s deal with them each in turn.

Kurdistan is the working name of the region in Northern Iraq, parts of Syria, and a smattering of other holdings. They have long been the smallest ethnic group of Muslims in the region. As an all too predictable by product of this they have also been the most oppressed. They have decided they will stand for it no more. They have voted in a referendum just days ago to separate from Iraq and chart their own future as an independent nation. How this will end for them though has yet to be determined. The Iraqi central government seems set to hold them in union with them, by force if necessary. The Kurds have seized their regional air ports and infrastructure and have been given until this Friday to stand down. This threat has come not just from Iraq but from Iran as well. They decided to dissolve the bands as the saying went peacefully, but now may be forced to keep this new found freedom with force of their own.

The Catalans are in a similar position. After holding a recent referendum to secede that had admittedly low turn out, The Spanish national government sent security forces to raid the separatists’ head quarters. They will very quickly need to make up their mind as well, just how valuable their freedom is to them. I would bet that here specifically the fold and stay under the Spanish heel, but it is hard to tell.

Revolution and the ending of oppressive regimes is perhaps the most important of our natural rights. It is a blessing that should never be taken lightly, but we should also never shrink from using it. To quote The Who “there is no easy way to be free.” It is testament to the enduring ideals of the West and the virtue of these peoples and others that they are trying all the same. I am wishing them the best and I hope that you all do too.

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