The headline at the Financial Times should hysterically proclaim : The Second Spanish Civil War Approaches! But given the latest developments as reported in the pages of this newspaper that headline should now read The Second Spanish Civil War is Fact!
With the EU Project in a downward spiral, the Nation State itself now becomes the focus of the post 2008 Depression’s ‘Rebellion Against The Elites’: not just Catalonia, that has decided that secession is the way forward, but Veneto and Lombardy in Italy have reached a similar conclusion, of sorts : ‘greater autonomy’. Is that simply the first step?
For some very necessary clarity, on this vexing question that presages something catastrophic, read Dr. Albena Azmanova’s essay at the Social Europe web site. That examines the question in rational political terms, rather than in terms of eye catching ‘headlines’:
There is, however, a more fundamental argument. Mr Rajoy’s government and the European leadership seem to be reducing the rule-of-law principle that lays the foundation of liberal democracies to the rule-by-law principle that has empowered many dictatorships. The notion of rule-of-law has its roots in the Natural Law doctrine, according to which the source of basic rights and freedoms is human nature, not a document (be it a Constitution), nor a human agent (be it a Parliament or a democratically elected leader). A constitutional codification might help protect those rights (not always, as we’ve just seen), but their existence is not predicated on a written document, on a judicial ruling or a political decision. By force of their being universal and unconditional, these rights have superiority over any legal provision. That is why such rights are respected in the United Kingdom even in the absence of a written constitution. Another element in the rule-of-law doctrine (in contrast to rule-by-law) is that political rule is based on the consent of the governed. The recent referendum in Catalonia was meant to assess this consent, just like the 2014 referendum in Scotland confirmed the enduring consent of the Scottish to be subjects of the British crown.
Moreover, the Spanish Constitution makes a mockery of the Rule of Law by equating it to the will of the people, as it pledges to “consolidate a State of Law which ensures the rule of law as the expression of the popular will.” The ‘popular will’ is the source of sovereignty in a democracy. The ‘rule of law’ guards individuals from the abuse of power by any power, including that of the ‘popular will’. Sourcing the rule of law from the will of the people, as does the Spanish Constitution, provides a legal basis for a dictatorship: as we Europeans know only too well, all our great dictators claimed to speak with the voice of the people.
No, Europe is not about to fall into the abyss of Despotism, but it has taken a careless step down that slippery slope. Preventing the downgrading of the rule-of-law into a despotic rule-by-law is the business of every European citizen.
Dr. Albena Azmanova makes the very necessary distinction between the rule-of-law and rule-by-law:
‘Preventing the downgrading of the rule-of-law into a despotic rule-by-law is the business of every European citizen.’