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Nicolás Zambrana Tévar , Professor of International Private Law of the University of Navarra

Freedom and secession

Mon, 26 Nov 2012 08:44:20 +0000 Published in El Cofidencial Digital

Spanish law does not conceive that two or more persons can commit themselves to each other for life. If they do so, any of them will be able to request at some point the termination of the bond that unites them. This is the case with contracts of economic content or with marriage. The laws understand, therefore, that loyalty should not be eternal. Freedom, on the other hand, must be absolute, with the only limit being the freedom of others. On the political level, this absolute freedom is called sovereignty and, in Spain, it falls on the Spanish people, who can decide to do what they want with this freedom. There are no brakes, no restrictions. Moreover, the Spanish people could decide to disappear and turn the 19 autonomous communities into as many sovereign states. That is to say: to do the hara kiri. Can we be scandalized, therefore, that this is exactly what one of our territories intends to do?

It could be said that there is a nationalism goal and a subjective one. The first would demand that a population and a territory have their own State because, historically, they are different. The second would not deign to enter into historical disquisitions. His reasoning would be simpler: we are a free human group and we have the right to decide about ourselves as individuals and as group. The only requirement is that your decision does not affect the freedom of others, and does it affect you? No, they could say, perfectly well: how does it affect you that we have our own soccer team, how does it affect you that we have our own seat in the United Nations? Yes it does affect us, we could reply, that you no longer support us economically, with your taxes and with your booming trade, but we try to keep this argument in our pockets because it seems selfish, not them, but us, selfish and in bad taste.

However, this is the truth, subjective nationalism has been brought about by us, making freedom an idol before whom we prostrate ourselves and who prostrates himself before no one. It is very easy to construct the identity of a human group , very easy. Countless historians, such as the recently deceased Hobsbawm, have attested to how tradition is invented and, if it is not invented, it is adulterated or only the parts of it that favor our ends are chosen. But then comes freedom, a complete freedom, which sets itself up as an ethical rule , to justify that where before there were two of us, or a large group , now some want to go their own way. And selfishness will not be of those who want to separate, breaking the word given for a thousand years, it will be of those who do not want to let them go to fulfill their own "destiny".

If we want to account for the phenomenon of independence, let us not hold our hands over our heads, I repeat, arguing that their leaders have simply miscalculated the welfare of their voters because, separated, they will be in a narrower economic status . That would be like someone trying to dissuade a man from getting divorced, because without his wife he will be more uncomfortable. The main argument to try to convince that man would have to be his duty to be faithful, which prevents him from exercising the freedom to break the promise made. But no, if someone were to invoke the example of divorce, or that of a mutual financial aid contract, to illustrate the problem of secession, it would be to emphasize that yes, any human relationship can be broken, that it is right that it should be broken, if any of those who compose it so wish. So, before we try to clean our neighbor's house, perhaps we should first look under our own carpets.