Daily archives: October 28, 2017

When Project Fear Shoots its Bolt

Zero companies have left Catalonia. The BBC, Sky News, France24 and Deutsche Welt have all told me repeatedly today that 1500 companies have left Catalonia. Goodness knows what the Spanish media is like – El Pais, soon to be renamed The Ecstatic Francoist, has put me off looking any further. But despite the media bombardment of fake news, actually no companies have left Catalonia at all. What have left Catalonia are not 1500 companies, but 1500 emails and forms giving a change of Head Office address. The companies and the jobs are still exactly where they were. In Catalonia.

Actually, it was very helpful for the Madrid government to initiate this process, because all those companies will need Spanish offices now their main premises are no longer in Spain but in Catalonia. They can now in addition register their Catalan premises with the Catalan state company register..

We saw Project Fear in spades in Scotland in 2014, but while they threatened that no business would remain in Scotland, they were not stupid enough to claim they had actually already left. Project Fear is a lot less effective when its bluff is called. The Spanish government has managed to call its own bluff, to shoot its bolt prematurely, and it turns out to be not a real threat at all. Now what does that remind me of?

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Europe Fails a Fundamental Democratic Test

A snap analysis of social media across Europe in the major languages, excluding Spaniards and Catalans, shows about 75% of posts are broadly sympathetic to Catalan Independence – or at least sympathetic to the Catalan right to self-determination – and about 25% support the Rajoy position. It is not possible directly to extrapolate from social media users to the entire population, but at the very least we can say that the unanimous attack on the Catalans from European governments and the unequivocal support for Rajoy plainly does not reflect the views of their people.

There is every reason to suppose that, despite the massive efforts of corporate and state media, European public opinion is sympathetic to Catalonia. As it is the corporate media and political parties, rather than the general public, who commission snap opinion polls, such polls only tell you what they wish you to know. Do not therefore expect to see the evidence of the gap between European governments and their people to be “proven” any time soon. But it is there.

Which is apposite, as the success of the Catalan independence movement is in part enabled by that general discontent of those governed which is becoming more and more evident across the democratic world. That is not only predictable, it is inevitable in a world where just eight people have as much wealth as 50% of the population of the entire globe.

There are 1,500 billionaires in the world, and their total wealth of 6 trillion dollars amounts to three times the GDP of the whole of Spain plus Catalonia, totalling 46.5 million people. The situation is getting worse at an incredible rate. The wealth of the billionaires increased almost 20% last year, as a great many individual Europeans got poorer in real terms.

Ordinary people create all the wealth from which they do not benefit, and the desire for fundamental change will continue to find expression in a variety of symptoms of severe public unrest. Some of these, like Catalan Independence, are good aims in themselves. Others, like the scapegoating across Europe of immigrants for the depressed living standards caused by the massive wealth gap, are most undesirable.

But what is becoming very plain indeed is that the political and media establishments are simply the tools of the super wealthy, to maintain the state enforced economic regulation of society which has enabled them to monopolise so much wealth. That is why the people of Europe have a very different view of what is happening in Catalonia to European political elites. We are all coming slowly to perceive that the political elites are a common enemy.

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